Sunday, April 28, 2013

Culinary Comforts: Cauliflower, Korma, Crustaceans!

Scallops a la Q
Today, I present to you a trifecta of cookery:
     I/ Cauliflower Soup
     II/ Vegetable Korma (without dairy)
     III/ Scallops Provencal (without dairy)

Cauliflower Soup

To make broth, I thoroughly washed some pork bones, then boiled them in water for about 1.5 hours. 
During the first 45 minutes, all of this crazy scum surfaced, and I had to scoop it out non-stop. I took out so much scum that I actually had to add back some water to replenish the volume!
After a total of 1.5 hours of gentle, pleasant simmering, I added salt, pepper, and fish sauce to season the broth.
Then I added whatever veggies I have lying around: cauliflower, potatoes, and carrots. I then let it simmer further for at least another hour to let the vegetables tenderize and fill the broth with yummy sweetness and nutrients. 
In truth, I should add the veggies in order of their cook time.  For example, carrots take longer to cook than cauliflower and potatoes and should go in first. But in reality, I am like WHATEVS and add them to the broth indiscriminately.
I added green onions last because I like them to stay greenish when I eat the soup for the first time. After the 2nd or 3rd day the onions are completely soften but still yummy. 

Then I painted my nails, added some crushed black pepper, and CHOW CHOW CHOW.
Ouch, I think I burned my tongue.

Vegetable Korma
I made this twice.  Please compare and contrast as you are able: 

I found a recipe To start, I created a paste of eye-annihilating fumes composed of onions, shallots, garlic, and ginger. I accomplished this with a food processor, otherwise I sure would have chopped my own fingertips into the paste. The paste was then cooked in a little bit of oil and it actually smelled rather delicious. Then I added the potatoes and cauliflower. I let that sit for awhile until the water came out of the veggies and they softened nicely. Then I added curry powder and some canned tomato sauce. This made a beautiful orange curry sauce! It was like magic. To thicken it, I added almond flour. To lighten it and creamify it without milk/yogurt I used almond milk. Not a perfect substitute but I think it was still pretty good.

The second time I made it, I didn't have tomato sauce so I used diced tomatoes and it just wasn't the same...

Scallops Provencal
Let me preface by saying that scallops are SO easy to make at home that I will never order them for $27 at a restaurant again! And may I add that it's usually a restaurant that doesn't use $ or .00 in their menu so their scallop dish simply costs 27.
I bring to you...
Quyen's Yummy Scallops                                                                  10.

 I adapted this recipe from Ina Garten.  She used lots of butter.  I used 0 butter.
First the scallops are salted and peppered. Then I dredged them in a mixture of all-purpose flour and almond flour in order to create a delicious crust.  I heated oil in a skillet (alas, unable to use butter) and dropped the scallops in. I let them brown, then flipped them. Flip!
After both sides are brown, Ina Garten starts to add more butter.  I simply do nothing.
Actually I just skipped the butter step and add some coarsely chopped shallots and garlic and let that swoosh around.  Then I added a splash of white wine to scrape up the brown bits stuck to the pan. Now.. this step is controversial to me...I added almond milk. I was trying to sub some kind of opaque fat but I don't think that it adds anything to the dish. It didn't taste bad though (in fact it was quite scrumpsh) so at least it wasn't destructive. Then some chopped flat leaf parsley, some lemon, some Dilaudid---wait no, not that.

Bon appetit!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Chairdresser...Part One

Recently, I lamented that my yellow vintage furniture was dangerously straddling the line between vintage and disintegrating. See how the seat was punctured and sadly repaired with tape? This is how my poor chair dragged on for the last 10 years or so. How embarrassing!
I went on an amazing adventure all around town to gather the items necessary to rectify this important problem. After a whirlwind tour of an upholstery shop, I brought home some new yellow vinyl (it was in the discount room for $8! Ha! They probably thought they wouldn't be able to sell it.) and some other fun-pattered fabrics. I also bought a staple gun at Home Depot. Be very afraid. (That was addressed to all of the chairs in my home.)

Behold, the crime scene:

Before and after (actually, after and before):
The new chair sits higher than the old one because I even got new rubber stoppers for its legs and now it is standing tall and proud, and slightly bouncy, too. The chair on the right is still in reasonable condition, but I probably will reupholster it, too, so that they match. Sadly, it is impossible to find the exact vinyl that is used for these chairs.  There are maybe just 2 companies on the internet selling this "cracked ice" vinyl and they charge $35/yd!!!! Holy moles that is expensive vintage vinyl! I think $8 plain yellow vinyl will suffice, thank you ma'am. I now have enough yellow vinyl to cover at least 8 more chairs. Anyone interested? Maybe you will be after looking at one last chair picture.
Convinced? I thought so.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Studded Pumps for Weekend Traipsing

I wore my Lola Cruz pumps outside the apartment for the first time over the weekend.  At first I was cautious because I didn't want any harm to befall them. But after about 3 minutes, I had all these errands to complete so I went on my way as if I was not wearing new shoes, clippity clopping through the cityscape. And nothing bad happened. Yay.

Sweater: J.Crew | Pants: J.Crew | Shoes: Lola Cruz

That's a lot of yellow furniture in the background! Stay tuned for my reupholstering adventure.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Mousse Tracks

My dad has been getting Bon Appetit magazine. After he is done with them, he hands them over to me. I usually leaf through cover to cover, longingly drooling at the food photography and complicated culinary concepts.

One day, I decided to invite my friends Shana and Grace over to tackle the chocolate mousse recipe.

It was awesome.

We actually made real dinner, too.  By "we" I meant Shana, who believed that mousse should be preceded by actual food. Girlfriend brought over some chicken and veggies and all of a sudden, there was chicken marsala AND vegetable side dishes! Food groups! By "food groups" I am also going to include wine and mousse, which we had.

It was definitely a group effort to make the mousse.  I did not take any pictures of the process because I had a hard time understanding the instructions.  Thus, we ended up using the Kitchenaid bowl to melt the egg yolk over a water bath without touching the (troubled) water. And then using a hand mixer to mix everything else whilst the Kitchenaid itself was sitting there wondering why it was being benched for the inning.

That last paragraph was probably not worth deciphering. Let's look at some mousse. Yummmm.

I guess it should look obvious that we put the mousse into some tiny heart-shaped teacups and 1 small ramekin. Just thought I'd clarify.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Interior Decorating Stories: Iden-Table Crisis

I have a 1950's formica kitchen table that is old and bright yellow.

You've probably seen it lurking in the background. Sometimes it's in an outfit post. Other times, there's food on it. It's my crazy yellow table that I can't seem to part with.

Despite being a bright yellow table, it's disappointingly indistinct. It's just sitting there, under the food, under the Noah's Ark puzzle, playing second fiddle to the Marco Tagliaferri bag (oh wait, it was my intent to feature the bag in the picture). Therein lies the core of my concerns.  I don't want an indistinct table! I want an awesome one! This table has been our kitchen table since 1996.  My parents got it from a thrift store. My parents (and Mike) argue that its age, decrepitude, outdated look, and shameful tenure in a thrift-store qualifies the poor table for a one way trip to the local dumpster. Or at the very least, the local craigslist ad. 
Alas, Counselor Quyen will now present her side of the case with evidence obtained from the last several hours of intense pinning on Pinterest:
retro meets modern
Retro kitchen table

What do all these pretty pictures have in common? They all have retro tables! So much character, especially when juxtaposed in an otherwise contemporary decor setting. These pictures make it even harder for me to part from my table. Plus, I love yellow! Yellow stands out so briskly against cool neutrals. And these tables are not in tip-top shape either...the "aged" look is part of the retro package.

I just scrutinized my own table and two chairs and here is my assessment of the condition they are in:
Formica surface: very good, dare I say EXCELLENT
Chrome table edge: good
Table legs: slightly aged but not that noticeable. Missing 1 leg peg, whatever you call that.
Chairs: BLAH.

So, it's really down to the chairs which really stress me out. The vinyl is cracked on the seats. Someone attempted to repair the damaged vinyl with tape.  The legs are somewhat oxidized. Sadly, after a vigorous rub down with steel wool, nothing seemed to happen. Mrrrr. Now I am in a quandary. Let's just say, I think the future holds a staple gun purchase and a trip to the local upholstery shops.

An interior decorating adventure awaits us!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Out with the Cold, In with the New

Actually, this will mostly be dedicated to the "out with the cold" part. As in, I am not ready to share anything new today. After such a long hiatus in posting, I'm going to have to ease myself back into things. Otherwise I might get blogger-shock and not post again for another 2 months.

First on the agenda, we have what I wore 2-- possibly 3-- months ago!

Top: American Eagle Outfitters | Cardigan: Express | Pants: J.Crew | Boots: Hunter | Necklace: thrifted
The necklace is a seashell and reminds me of Ursula from Little Mermaid.
Top: made in Vietnam | Dress: J.Crew | Boots: Macy's
Here I am showing off a new star bracelet which I actually haven't taken off since the time of this photo.
Otherwise I am wearing a random assortment of Talbots, Loft, and H&M.
This was a moment of sartorial eureka for me so I am including extra photos.
Top: Urban Outfitters dress worn as a top | Cardigan: Gap | Skirt: J.Crew | Necklace: Target | Belt: F12
The shoes I got for $5 from Famous Footwear, huzzah!
There, I made a return to posting! In the next few days I will try to summarize my adventures from the last 2 months in visual format. If I made a preview slideshow, it would include, but not be limited to: mousse, anime, the MICU, scallops, taxes, and most importantly: new apartment!