Happy Christmas

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I guess it wasn’t just me who didn’t feel all that festive this Christmas. Kevin thinks having Christmas fall on a Tuesday had something to do with it, and I completely agree. Good for those people who took the Monday the 24th off, or even better, the rest of the year off. It was strange to work on Monday, take a day off to celebrate Christmas on Tuesday, and back to work on Wednesday.

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We spent Christmas Eve at my parents’ house and had a wonderful holiday dinner. My mother roasted a 2-pound chicken (which I forgot to take a picture of) and feasted on tonkatsu (pork cutlets) and other appropriately green side dishes like her famous spaghetti salad, string beans tossed in sesame, steamed Brussels sprouts, and spinach. The spread wasn’t very Christmas-y but everything was delicious. My father picked up a decadent chocolate cake from a bakery owned by a Persian family. He asked to have “Merry Christmas” written on a cake but the pastry chef didn’t know how to spell it, so we ended up having a cake that read, “Happy Chrisms.” I thought that was hilarious.

We were invited to Kevin’s sister’s house for an amazing prime rib lunch on Christmas day. I was so into gulfing down the food that I forgot to take pictures. The meat was perfectly cooked, and the green salad and the sweet corn casserole served on the side were absolutely to die for. She definitely knows how to cook! Thank you so much for the amazing meal and thoughtful gifts.

I hope you all had a happy Christmas, and getting ready for the new year!

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Scarlet Goodness

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If I can give beets a huge hug for being so cute and delicious, I totally would. I love beets – with its uniquely sweet flavor and lovely texture — but I don’t like cooking them much at home. It’s difficult to rise off all the red color that bleeds after cooking these little root vegetables! But I learned recently that I can reduce the mess if I roast them in the oven wrapped in aluminum foil instead of boiling them in hot water (which I used to do), so I’m not as intimidated as I was before.

I picked up three medium-sized beets at a local Asian market the other day and turned them into a quinoa salad, inspired by a lovely scarlet quinoa side dish from M Cafe de Chaya.

Scarlet Quinoa

2-3 medium size beets
1 cups dry quinoa
2 cups water or your favorite broth
Handful of parsley, chopped

For the Dressing:
¼ cup vinegar (more if you like)
¼ cup olive oil (more if you like)
Salt and pepper

Beets:  Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Wash the beats and wrap them individually in aluminum foil. Put the beets in the oven and cook for about 45 minutes, or until they are tender. Take them out of the oven, peel and cut them into medium-size cubes.

Quinoa:  After rinsing the quinoa, toss it in a pot with 2 cups of cold liquid (I usually use water). Bring the liquid and quinoa to a boil in high heat. Once the liquid comes to a boil, cover the pot with a lid, reduce the heat to medium low and let it simmer, until the liquid is gone (about 15-20 minutes). Turn off the heat, and let the quinoa sit for about 10 minutes, with the lid still on.

Putting it all together:  Add the beets and cooked quinoa in a bowl. Add the parsley and the dressing. Salt and pepper to taste. Toss well.

The “Other” White Meat? Grilled Pork Tenderlion

I’ve been into cooking and eating pork for dinner lately, partially due to my boyfriend’s recent cutback on beef intake, but mainly because of its robust flavor. I’ve been so consumed with steak that I’ve forgotten how flavorful and delicious wonderfully prepared pork can be. I hear so many contradicting stories about pork in the media (one claiming that it’s the “other white meat” and other claiming that it’s the worst animal flesh to ever enter human bodies) and I truly don’t know what to make of it. But I believe in variety so I will have an occasional piggies with a nice glass of white wine, with no apologies! I am also a believer that all food are good, in moderation (unless they’re processed, then they’re no longer food, of course) so bring on the deliciousness that is pork!

I like my pork cooked simple. I like it seasoned with salt and lots of black pepper, grilled with a little olive oil, and enjoy the juicy flavor of the meat in its purest form. Accompanied with whole-wheat couscous, grilled red onion and zucchini, and drizzled with Dijon mustard deglaze sauce, it’s a world-class dish at a comfort of your own home!