Tomato Beef Stew (番茄燉牛肉)


Boy, I seriously underestimated how difficult it would be to get back into the rhythm of posting here after a change in routine! So much has changed in the past months - i'm finding my equilibrium in a new job and new city, and Summer has come and gone.

I am not known to love change - in true Taurean fashion, stability is important to me. When an opportunity came up that I would have taken in a heartbeat if not for the caveat of it entailing a move to a new city a 4 hour drive away, I found myself oscillating between 'I-can't-possibly-do-this'  and 'there's-never-a-better-time-than-now!'.  It was a nerve wracking couple of weeks where I would swear I had made a decision and then completely change my mind the next.  In the end, I would say what pushed me to take the leap was Jeff's consistent response to my indecision, that if it's something you want, you need to take it and the rest will follow.

It has been a steep learning curve in more ways than one, but I have to say that he was right. Change and transition are a necessary part of life, and the fear, doubt, discomfort and sacrifice that is often wrapped up in it gives rise to growth and so much learning. New York City and my little family there are not going anywhere, and I get to experience living in a new city that has surprised me with its charm and beauty. That this opportunity was something I wanted for myself is reason enough to have taken the plunge.

As it turns out, one of the things we have had to learn is that cooking for one is not the easiest thing to do. This recipe is a result of experimenting to made food that is not too fussy  and not only keeps well, but tastes better the next day. This stew literally requires only four main ingredients, and is hearty, warming, but not too heavy - apt for the transitional period we are going through between seasons. Juicy tomatoes reduce to a velvety  consistency when cooked over low heat, potato and onion add substance and sweetness, and the short ribs round out the dish with just the right amount of richness. We made this together on one of my recent weekend trips back to the city, and I realized that hey... one great, tangible outcome of this transition is the inception of new recipes like this stew!  So here's to counting our blessings, especially the delicious ones :)


Cinnamon Toast Bread Pudding

Cinnamon Toast Bread Pudding

One of my guilty pleasures is cinnamon toast crunch cereal - I recently rediscovered it in the little bodega in the lobby of my office building when I went hunting for a snack on a slow-moving midweek afternoon. Since that afternoon, I haven't been able to get cinnamon toast off my mind, and for some reason, specifically haven't been able to get the idea of making cinnamon toast bread pudding  off my mind...

Cinnamon Toast Bread Pudding
Cinnamon Toast Bread Pudding

Bread pudding has always been a favorite of mine, although I've had my fair share of insipid too-sweet versions over the years. Once I had the idea to combine cinnamon toast and bread pudding in my mind, my 'research', (by which I mean googling 'Does Cinnamon Toast Bread Pudding exist?')  led me to this amazing recipe! I adapted it to give it a stronger cinnamon flavor and included orange zest and nutmeg for added dimension.

Cinnamon Toast Bread Pudding

 I know that this dessert is not particularly fitting given that it's finally 70 degrees outside! Plus we're leaving for Coachella in a few days (eeee!) and it's the season for dishes more in the citrus and salad vein! But even with all that, I am of the belief that there is always a time and place for wearing stretchy pants and eating spoonfuls of warm, cinnamon-y, and soft bread :) 

Cinnamon Toast Bread Pudding

Chicken Onion Soup (洋蔥雞湯)

chicken onion soup

There is nothing I find more comforting than a bowl of hot soup, which I attribute to my mom's Cantonese roots. Growing up, we had a bowl of soup as an accompaniment to almost every home-cooked meal, ranging from pork ribs with lotus root, watercress, carrot and beef... I remember that after family holidays abroad, my sisters and I would be filled with excitement on the journey home from the airport, knowing that hot soup would be on the table to welcome us home.

soup ingredients
chicken soup ingredients

Whether it's nostalgia or plain preference, in my opinion there is little that a piping hot bowl of soup cannot remedy. While I don't often simmer soups for hours the way it was done in my childhood, this recipe satisfies my frequent cravings for nutritious and comforting soup, and takes just about an hour from start to end. I like to add mountain yam (Nagaimo) for heft and textural variety, but pretty much any kind of root vegetable will work perfectly here. The onion melts into the soup giving it sweetness, the dried scallop and dashi give the broth a deep umami flavor, and the tender chicken meat and vegetables make it a well-rounded and filling meal. Paired with white rice, this dish is a weekday dinner staple in my home!

chicken onion soup

Cubed Beef Fried Rice (牛肉炒飯)

cubed beef fried rice

The great thing about fried rice is how adaptable and ubiquitous it is. If you grew up in an Asian household you will have eaten some variation of the dish throughout your childhood, if you have ever been to a Chinese restaurant you probably have ordered it at one point or another... I never gave the dish much thought beyond that it was an easy and delicious way to use up ingredients in the fridge and a safe option to pick at restaurants when you are hankering for comfort food - that is, until I had the fried rice at a restaurant run by Jeff's family in Taiwan last year.

This fried rice is quite unlike other version I have had (and I have had many!). It is beefy, crunchy, fragrant and incredibly moreish. I was so taken by this version that I pleaded with Jeff to run to the kitchen and ask his aunts for the recipe, at which point of course, they insisted on recreating the dish when service was over so he could watch and take notes throughout the process. So - here you are, cubed steak fried rice with juicy beef and crunchy green beans nested between glistening grains of rice. It takes slightly longer to prepare than your usual fried rice primarily due to the steps where you have to remove the beef from the pan, but take my word for it that the extra effort is worth your while!

Feeds 2-3 as a main meal

Simple Banana Muffins with Passion fruit Curd

Kicking off my foray into the world of blogging with one of my favorite recipes: Delicious and simple Banana muffins (Prep takes less than 10 minutes, I promise!) with creamy passion fruit curd. I love this recipe because it is so easy to make, and yet so very rewarding in taste.  The hardest part of this recipe was actually getting my hands on some passion fruit!

Read More