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Archive for December, 2010

Story:

One of my favorite writers said a “crush is like a cold while love is more like pneumonia. It happens once in a while. You sneeze and cough but you are generally fine.” However, between you and me, we both know that sometimes a serious crush is more like, um, a flu. It still isn’t life-threatening (to young adults), nor does it require hospitalization like pneumonia, but it also takes a little more than some tissues and a good night sleep to recover.

So when your crush becomes “un-crushable,” whether when he gives you a clear message one way or another, stops responding to your “hints,” or starts seeing someone else, tell yourself that at least you are still capable of loving, that you are true to yourself, that you are taking, and trying your best to enjoy, what life has granted you.

You will be sad. It is, in the end of the day, the end of a little wonderland that you have built by yourself for yourself. You have been happy in it. It’s like the dream in the movie Inception. There is a bridge where you want it to be, and the coffee shop conveniently appears when you want to have a latte. It’s not that you didn’t realize that it’s a dream – the totem never stopped spinning. However, you didn’t want to wake up. You indulged yourself in the beautiful bubble, until one day, the bubble is burst for you.

It’s probably not a “heart-broken” moment, maybe more like a “heart-cracking” at the most. However, you still need a little bit of comfort and a little bit of hope that everything will be alright.

And that’s what this zucchini and goat cheese crustless quiche is for. It’s time consuming to make, but it helps take your mind off of the sad thoughts. And when your room is filled with the mixed smell of egg, cheese and zucchini from the oven, you will get the comfort and the hope that you need.

 

Tear index: 1 (you get moist-eyed when watching a love story)

Best remedy for: Your crush becomes “un-crushable”

Cook time: 50 mins; Level: Intermediate; Yield: 1 (9-inch) quiche, 6 to 8 servings

How much he is worth: $25

Created by: Food Network Kitchens; Link: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/zucchini-and-goat-cheese-crustless-quiche-recipe/index.html

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds medium zucchini or a mixture of summer squashes
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups 1-inch, day-old bread cubes, preferably sourdough
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped, about 1 cup
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh marjoram or oregano
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 ounces young goat cheese, such as Montrachet.
  • 2 ounces grated Swiss or Gruyere cheese, about 1/2 cup

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Shred the squash on the large holes of a box grater, into a colander. Sprinkle with a heaping tablespoon salt and toss well. Place in the sink and drain for 15 minutes. Rinse and the squeeze firmly, by the handful, to remove excess water. Set aside.

Meanwhile, pulse bread into crumbs in a food processor. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat; add bread crumbs and stir until evenly toasted, about 5 minutes. Evenly spread crumbs in a 9-inch glass or ceramic pie pan. Place pan on a baking sheet.

Wipe out the skillet, add remaining 2 tablespoons oil, the onions and garlic and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, cook over medium-high heat, until onions are start to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the zucchini, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in parsley, dill and marjoram or oregano. Remove from heat, cool slightly.

Whisk half-and-half, eggs and yolks in large glass measuring cup. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread the zucchini mixture in the prepared pan. Crumble the goat cheese and evenly scatter on the vegetables. Sprinkle Gruyere on top and pour the custard over the fillings.

Bake until the quiche is just set in the center, about 40 to 50 minutes. Cool completely on a rack before serving.

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Story:

Thanksgiving is the warmest holiday of the year.  Perhaps not weather-wise, but definitely in terms of the atmosphere. There are no flags and soldiers, no spending hours finding the best spot for the fireworks, no spending money getting stupid costumes, and no stress over buying gifts for everyone. There is just one theme – good food–ideally enjoyed by your beloved family and/or friends. The scene of the people you love most rubbing their bellies on the couch after dinner is oddly satisfying.

I’ve been resisting the idea of being “Americanized” ever since I came to the US. I’m just a loud, talkative, emotional, confident, blunt and sarcastic Chinese girl… You don’t think that makes a “traditional Chinese girl”? Please keep that to yourself, as I can assure you that I’m as authentically “made in China,” as every plastic Christmas tree sold in the America…

However, this Thanksgiving, I gave in. I absolutely love this holiday, and everything about it. So cozy and so… American. Since turkey is not exactly in my forte, I decided to try pumpkin pies.

What, there’s no broken heart in this story? Don’t worry, just wait…

Heart broken by pie #1:

I followed Libby’s recipe faithfully and got all the ingredients. Easy enough, at least I thought so. I didn’t even taste it so that I wouldn’t ruin the “look”. I was so excited and took it to my best friend to taste. We met up at the NY Cares volunteer event, and I left the pie in the school gym while we painted the walls outside. After a whole day of painting, we were really looking forward to some tasty pumpkin pie! However, when we came back to the gym, the pie was nowhere to be found! It broke not one heart, but two!

Heart broken by pie #2:

The same weekend, I baked a second pie for a friend’s housewarming / birthday party. I showed up at the party, just to realize that half the room were wasted and the birthday boy was barely conscious and certainly didn’t recognize me. I think pizza would have been more appropriate food at that point. I tried a little piece and put it away in the fridge… Not quite the “let’s-all-sit-together-and-enjoy-the-pumpkin-pie” scene that I had imagined… Oh well.

Heart broken by pie #3:

For our office Thanksgiving potluck, I quickly forgot the pain and decided to bake another pumpkin pie. No pie thief, no drunkards, only great food from everyone in a beautifully decorated conference room. We are all good, right? Almost… On my way to work, the cover of the tin foil baking pan fell off in the bag, and the pie was crushed into, uh, like, a giant pumpkin taco! It was a true test of friendship at work though… A few of my colleagues ate it despite its gross look… I felt so loved :-). So, heart was broken, but subsequently patched up.

Heart… back together by pie #4!

Yes you are right – I’m loud, talkative, emotional, confident, blunt, sarcastic, and… stubborn! So I made my fourth pumpkin pie in two weeks at my housewarming party, and this time, finally, a golden, sweet (but not too sweet), soft and delicious pie made it to the dining table, and everything was exactly the way I had always dreamed how a great pumpkin pie should be consumed–warm, in a cozy room, with great friends and fun conversations…

How I love Thanksgiving…and pumpkin pie. The battle is lost… America, here I come!!!

Tear index: 2 (you cry when you see the places that you have so much beautiful memories of you two together)
Best remedy for: The first Thanksgiving that he’s not with you
Cook time: 1 hr; Level: Easy; Yield: 1 9-inch pie
How much he is worth: $15 (if you already have all the spices)

Created by: Libby’s Pumpkin; Link: http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/libbys-famous-pumpkin-pie/Detail.aspx

Ingredient

  • 1 (9 inch) unbaked deep dish pie crust
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 (15 ounce) can LIBBY’S® 100% Pure Pumpkin
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can NESTLE® CARNATION® Evaporated Milk

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Combine sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs lightly in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk. Pour into pie shell.
  3. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees F.; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate. (Do not freeze as this will cause the crust to separate from the filling.)

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“How can a nation be called great if its bread tastes like Kleenex?” — Julia Child
 
So how can a woman be called great if her face has consumed more Kleenex than her stomach has consumed bread?
 
OK, (great) woman, time to let go of your box of Kleenex, and time to start baking some real bread…  Put some olive oil on your chapped nose while cooking.  Trust me, it works better than those expensive face lotions.  Also, you probably haven’t gotten out of bed and taken a shower yet. So, instead of a bubble bath, let the aroma of this banana nut bread wake you up and rehydrate your dried out skin and heart.
 
Call your best girl friend.  Tell her you love her.  Ask her whether she would like to come over and have some banana nut bread.  I think this might be a better way to get her to your apartment to listen to your completely irrational, rambling, and tearful confession, and sets a better mood than crying on the phone and telling her that you would kill yourself if she doesn’t show up in the next few hours.
 
Try it!

Tear index: 5 (five times a day, five days a week)

Best remedy for: Those whose hearts were just broken and cannot crying and whining

Cook Time: 1 hr 10 mins; Level: Medium; Yield: 1 loaf, 6-8 servings (or just 1 if you don’t have any self control like me)

How much he is worth: $10

Created by: SASEIGEL; Link: http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/extreme-banana-nut-bread-ebnb/Detail.aspx

Ingredient

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup butter or margarine
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 cups mashed overripe bananas
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9×5 inch loaf pans.
  2. Sift the flour, salt and baking soda into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the butter or margarine and sugar until smooth. Stir in the bananas, eggs, and walnuts until well blended. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry mixture, and stir just until blended. Divide the batter evenly between the two loaf pans.
  3. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes in the preheated oven, until a knife inserted into the crown of the loaf comes out clean. Let the loaves cool in the pans for at least 5 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack, and cool completely. Wrap in aluminum foil to keep in the moisture. Ideally, refrigerate the loaves for 2 hours or more before serving.

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The story…

First snow in the city…  It’s my favorite day in winter!  Snow and scarfs are the two things that get me through winter every year, when there is not a warm hug waiting for me at home.

The snow covers up all the dirt, all the rust, and even all the noise of the city.  It transforms the city into a winter wonderland with only the X’mas lights and decorations sparkle through.  Everyone is bundled up, warm and fuzzy inside, and even the tourists (and I still am one in this city) look lovelier with their pom pom hats and UGGs.

You are home, warm and content.  But you know you are missing something…  The pine tree scented candles are usually your favorite, but today it just doesn’t suffice…

So you put on your favorite red moose PJ, walk to your kitchen, and decide to indulge yourself with some Chile hot chocolate.  It might not be as good as a loving kiss, but it’s gotto be a close second…

 

Tear index: 3

Best remedy for: Being alone on the first snowy day in the city

Cook Time: 10 min; Level: Easy; Yield: 2 cups (one for now, and one for later)

How much he is worth: $15

Created by: Kate Ramos; Link: http://www.chow.com/recipes/11121-chile-hot-chocolate

Ingredient

  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 5 ounces good-quality milk chocolate, coarsely chopped

Instruction

  1. Combine milk, cream, and cayenne in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook until simmering, about 4 minutes.
  2. Add chocolate and whisk until completely melted and well incorporated, about 2 minutes. Serve immediately.

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The story…

So I decided to bake this cake for a close friend’s birthday and my housewarming party. The cooking started at midnight after our company holiday party. I had printed out the recipe the day before and bought all the ingredient. It would turn out great, I thought. And it would have, had I read the recipe carefully enough and understood that cooking does not only involve ingredient, but also tools.

So there I was, at 1:00 in the morning, chopping carrots into extremely fine pieces with a bread knife… After two breaks and 5 carrots, just when I thought I finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel, I realized that I also didn’t have a food processor that is required for the next step. I broke down and broke into tears. Why am I doing this to myself? After a long week at work and a holiday party at night, I am standing here in the kitchen wrestling with some carrots and a bowl of mud-looking liquid…

I went on to finish it anyway, deciding that I was not gonna be defeated by a stupid food processor. After all, I am a climber! I did everything that a food processor would do, with bare hand and sheer force. 😛

And then I fell asleep in the aroma of the carrot cake and a dream of the beaming smiles on my friends’ faces…

So I think it’s a great remedy whose heart is broken by an irresponsible ex… It’s sweet, chewy, takes a lot of work that requires a lot of concentration… As long as you remember to get a grater and a food processor.

 

Tear index: 5 (5 times a day, 5 days a week)

Best remedy for: Hearts broken by an irresposible ex

Cook Time: 1 hr 10 min; Level: Easy; Yield: 1 (9-inch) cake

How much he is worth: $15

Created by: Good Eats; Link: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/carrot-cake-recipe/index.html

Ingredients

  • Unsalted butter, for the pan
  • 12 ounces, approximately 2 1/2 cups, all-purpose flour, plus extra for pan
  • 12 ounces grated carrots, medium grate, approximately 6 medium
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 ounces sugar, approximately 1 1/3 cups
  • 2 ounces dark brown sugar, approximately 1/4 cup firmly packed
  • 3 large eggs
  • 6 ounces plain yogurt
  • 6 ounces vegetable oil
  • Cream Cheese Frosting, recipe follows
  •  

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter and flour a 9-inch round and 3-inch deep cake pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Set aside.

Put the carrots into a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and process for 5 seconds. Add this mixture to the carrots and toss until they are well-coated with the flour.

In the bowl of the food processor combine the sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and yogurt.

With the processor still running drizzle in the vegetable oil. Pour this mixture into the carrot mixture and stir until just combined. Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 45 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees F and bake for another 20 minutes or until the cake reaches 205 to 210 degrees F in the center.

Remove the pan from the oven and allow cake to cool 15 minutes in the pan. After 15 minutes, turn the cake out onto a rack and allow cake to cool completely. Frost with cream cheese frosting after cake has cooled completely.

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The story…

OK I admit, I did not shed any tear when I cooked smoked salmon frittata, and my heart was full of sweet expectations of my beautiful housewarming party. 

But this would be a great remedy for anyone who is looking for some comfort…  It’s simple, low key, casual and…  warm.

Tear index: 4 (about three times a day, five days a week)

Best remedy for: All broken hearts

Cook time: 55 min;  Level: Easy;  Yield: 8 servings

How much is he worth: ~$30

Created by: Barefoot Contessa; Link: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/smoked-salmon-frittata-recipe/index.html

Ingredient:

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 12 extra-large eggs
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 ounces fresh goat cheese, such as Montrachet, crumbled
  • 1/2 pound smoked salmon, chopped
  • 3 scallions, chopped, white and light green parts
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Saute the onion and butter in a 10-inch oven-proof omelet pan over medium-low heat until translucent, about 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Add the heavy cream, goat cheese, smoked salmon, scallions, dill, salt, and pepper and combine. Pour the mixture over the onions and place the omelet pan in the center of the oven. Bake the frittata for about 50 minutes, until it puffs and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Serve hot directly from the pan.

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Life is a feast

So here we are.
 
I sometimes have trouble understanding those who are really passionate about cooking.  I used to think that if it takes one longer to cook than to eat, or it costs one more to cook than to eat out, it is just uneconomical :-P.
 
I can count with my hands and feet the number of times that I really cooked nice meals, but I can’t forget the joy of seeing loved ones come to the dinner table with the excitement of young children, take their first bites, and then set the room alight with big bright smiles that can melt an igloo…  Right there I got it.  That’s what turns the strongest and toughest fashionistas, workaholics, careerists and feminists into the apron-wearing, pots-and-pans-loving and traditional-role-embracing women.
 
People say those who conquer their man’s stomach will conquer his heart, but it is his heart that makes a woman care for his stomach and want to fill it with delicious food made with love.
 
And even when love leaves, cooking can still be therapeutic…

Remember the typical heart broken symptoms?

Excessive crying…  Excessive eating…  Excessive shopping…  Excessive working…  back to excessive crying.

We’ve all been there, done that. No matter how educated we are, how intelligent we are and how much leadership we have demonstrated at work and in life, emotions are what make us human.  Love is what makes humans happy.  And grief is what makes us feel alive and what makes us treasure happiness when it happens.
 
An artist can often turn anger and grief into beautiful art; a great dancer can express herself through graceful body movement; and a talented writer can get an advance payment to travel around the world for a year, and make millions of dollars when her book is turned into a movie like “Eat, Pray, Love”.  Unfortunately, most of us are none of the above.  So what can we do to break the vicious cycle, to piece our hearts back together, and to prepare ourselves for the next adventure in love?

I found cooking to be the best remedy, especially when you invite your family and friends over and cook for them.  You can still shop, but in grocery stores getting ingredients; you can still work, but with pots, pans, stoves and ovens in your warm kitchen; you can still eat, but home-cooked meals instead of junk food; and you can still cry, but your tears will be one of the secret spices…

Many claim that love is the best ingredient in cooking, although I think, sometimes, tears are pretty powerful too.  It might not taste as rich and sweet as love, but it’s from the same loving heart.  A heart that is incapable of loving is also incapable of feeling the pain that often comes with loving.  When a loving heart sheds some tears, it might taste a little bitter in the beginning, but the “after taste” is delicate, sophisticated and in the end hopeful, like a cup of tea, or a good bottle of whisky (so I’ve heard ;-p).

Julia Child once said, “I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate.”  I started cooking, like, um, two weeks ago.  But as I was “investing” all this money into pots and pans, cinnamon and all spice (those little bottles of spices are expensive!) and buying all the grocery, I found myself so happy and content and my heart was filled with hope and love.  I’d like to share my discovery, and my journey to becoming a better cook, and a better person with all of you who either want to spoil your loved ones with wonderful dishes or want to piece back your broken heart.
 
So I created this site for myself, and all of you, to share recipes and stories with each other.  I am a totally “green” chef and not a good writer either, so I count on you to make this blog interesting!
 
Please submit your story and recipe to HealingRecipes@gmail.com, and I will post them on this blog!
 
Welcome to Healing Recipes and let the life feast begin!

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