Saturday, December 21, 2013

Deviled Eggs - with an Asian Twist

My friend, Matt, hosted an Oscar Night Potluck Party last year and I tried to find a fancy deviled egg recipe that would impress the crowd.  I plowed through Pinterest and Foodgawker but found delicious recipes that use the same set of ingredients.  I wanted a dramatically different one fitting for the Oscars.
That's when I came up with Deviled Chinese Tea Eggs with Shiitake Mushrooms!  I usually attempt to be humble, but I can't help but brag about this burst of creativity!
Boiled Eggs
Dried Shiitake Mushrooms (soaked in a bowl of hot water until plump)
Jalapeno (optional)
Sesame Oil
For the Tea Egg Marinade:
Soy Sauce
Shiitake Mushroom Water
Bay Leaf
Dried Red Chiles
Star Anise
Five Spice Powder
Black Tea or Oolong Tea
I made hard boiled eggs first, cracked the shell but kept the shell on the eggs, and dunked them in a pot of simmering soy sauce, shiitake mushroom water (the warm water that I used to soak the dried shiitake to plump them back up), and various spices (see ingredients list).
Cracked Hard Boiled Eggs Simmering in Tea-Soy Marinade
I let the eggs simmer on low uncovered for 30 minutes, turned off the heat, and covered the pot to let it soak for another 2 hours. The longer they stay in the marinade, the more dramatic the cracked pattern on the egg and the more flavorful the egg whites get.
While the eggs were marinating, I sautéed some finely diced onions and some of the soaked shiitake mushrooms that I diced (make sure to slice some shiitake mushrooms for presentation) in some tea-soy marinade.  I put the sautéed mushroom and onion mixture aside and sautéed the sliced mushrooms with some marinade separately.

Happy with My Tea Eggs!

Once the eggs have cooled, carefully shell the eggs and reveal the gorgeous cracked pattern!

Isn't this gorgeous?
I halved the shelled eggs and scooped out the egg yolks into a bowl.  In the bowl of egg yolks, I spooned in the tea-soy marinade and mixed in the sautéed mushroom and onions.  I drizzled a little bit of sesame oil while mixing and added some scallions into the mixture.  Once the filling mixture was creamy, I spooned the mixture into the tea eggs and topped each off with a slice of sautéed shiitake mushrooms.

Deviled Chinese Tea Eggs with Shiitake Mushrooms and Jalapeno Deviled Eggs

Deviled Chinese Tea Eggs with Shiitake Mushrooms and Jalapeno Deviled Eggs

Next Door Brewing Company

My co-worker, Stephanie, was in town in November, and in our mission to explore Madison restaurants together, we picked out the fairly new Next Door Brewing Company in the Atwood neighborhood.
It was a perfect place to wind down and we went early enough before noise became an issue.

Beer Flight

We shared three awesome appetizers - Pickled and Deviled Eggs; WPA Beer Battered Sassy Cow Curds with Chive Dressing (MY FAVORITE CHEESE CURDS IN MADISON!!!!); Next Door Pickle Jar.
Pickled and Deviled Eggs

Cheese Curds with Chive Dressing

House Pickles

The cheese curds are the best curds ever!  What makes them special is how light and airy they are.  The beer batter must've contributed to the light crunchy texture.  The deviled eggs were pretty standard but the pickled eggs were really interesting - sweet and tart.

Mike and I shared the Ssam Pork Sandwich and the SASY Bird Sandwich.  The sandwiches are both delicious but Mike finds the pork a little bit disappointing as he kept wanting it to taste more like a pulled pork sandwich. 

Ssam Pork Sandwich with kimchi sauce

SASY Bird Sandwich with harissa mayo and brie on a Stella's cheesebread

Stephanie indulged in a sublime sweet potato pie. I loved the light, delicate crust!

Sweet Potato Pecan Pie

Overall, this was a great place to relax and catch up about non-work-related things!  Can't wait for you to experience Forequarter in January, Steph!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Versatile Pomegranate Seeds

I was first introduced to pomegranate seeds by a Thai co-worker 6 years ago and was pleasantly surprised by the juiciness and crunch.  But I didn't have the confidence to cook with it until my DC housemate, Jamie, and I put our feet down and decided to incorporate pomegranate seeds into our cooking.

Once, I accidentally cut open a hard, unripe avocado.  Avocados are expensive so I tried to think of ways to salvage the fruit.  I originally wanted to make guacamole so in a similar vein, I thought that I could make a crunchy avocado salsa and substitute tomatoes with pomegranate seeds.  I tossed them with lime juice, salt and pepper, seedless cucumbers, and chopped scallions.  It turned out sublime!

Crunchy Avocado, Cucumber, and Pomegranate Salsa

Another successful use of pomegranate seeds is Pomegranate and Rose Water Rice.  I found a delicious-looking rosewater nut pilau recipe but didn't have all the ingredients.  I cooked short-grain Japanese rice, which is softer and stickier than basmati, with rosewater.  When the rice was done, I fluffed the rice with pomegranate seeds and toasted almond slices.  I paired the rice with Za'atar seasoned chicken legs and roasted asparagus. 

Rosewater Pomegranate Rice with Za'atar Chicken and Asparagus

Rosewater Pomegranate Rice
When I got an ice cream machine, the first ice cream Mike and I made was vanilla ice cream with pomegranate seeds.  Frozen pomegranate seeds are delicious, but Mike and I have to find a better vanilla ice cream recipe before I share with you the recipe.  

Pomegranate Vanilla Ice Cream

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thanksgiving Weekend in Chicago!

This was my first Thanksgiving spent with my significant other`s family! I'm lucky that it wasn't nervewracking because I've spent time with Mike's family on many occasions previously and adore them.  Mike's mom created an awesome itinerary for us.  She must know my penchant for well-planned events!

Mike's mom took me to get my first manicure ever!  I have the tiniest fingernails so it may not look impressive but I felt super feminine!

We had a lovely family dinner at a unique wine bar, Cellar Gate, that's designed like a small intimate house, where the kitchen is the size of my humble apartment kitchen!

Cellar Gate in Highwood, IL

Chicken Flatbread and Kobe Beef Slider
Artichoke Dip and Caprese Skewers
Awesome dessert plate

We ended up pulling Apples to Apples off a shelf at the bar to play along with eating our desserts

Another highlight is heading into downtown Chicago for the Art and Appetite exhibit at the Art Institute.  Too bad I couldn't take photos of the paintings of food!

I can't help thinking of Roger Ebert. I'm sad that I can no longer read his reviews on new movies!

Holiday Season at the Art Institute

We stopped by my favorite Reuben sandwich restaurant, The Berghoff, to warm up and wait to meet up with more family for dinner elsewhere.

The Berghoff

The Family

Black Cherry Soda and a Giant Pretzel

We ended the evening on a frantic 45 minute walking tour conducted by our very own bona fide Chicagoan, Greg, while trying to find the restaurant where we were meeting with the rest of our party. Don't worry, Greg, I actually enjoyed it!  We got to walk by places that I added to my list of places to visit next time, like the donut shop next to the train terminal that sells croissant-donuts, Burke 's Bacon Bar, and Eataly!

Chicago Nightscape

Thank you, Joan and Greg, for an amazing Thanksgiving Weekend!