September 16, 2017

Fried Sardines

One of my favorite dishes to make and eat is from my family's "refugee menu" -- fried sardines. I usually like to make it spicy because it doesn't completely hit the spot if it's not hot.

What you will need (serves 1-2 people): 
One large can of any Asian brand sardines in tomato sauce (or two small ones)
Cilantro (pictured here is Hmong cilantro)
Green onions
Raw Thai chilies (dried ones are fine too)

Chop up the herbs and chilies. 

On medium high heat, fry the garlic in 2 Tbsp. of oil to infuse it. Then add sardines with tomato sauce.

Continue cooking sardines for 2-3 minutes, breaking the sardines apart. Some like it chunky while others prefer less chunky and more of a paste for easy dipping with sticky rice. Cook for 6-7 minutes before adding chilies and herbs. Add salt and 1-2 Tbsp. of fish sauce to sardines. Be mindful to not over-salt. Keep cooking until tomato sauce is gone.

Enjoy with some sticky rice.


“Love is sometimes denied, sometimes lost, sometimes unrecognized, but in the end, always found with no regrets, forever valued and kept treasured.” -- Anonymous
The cool autumn air entered the coffee shop as she walked through the door. Its frigid tendrils weaved through the space, cutting into the warmth of the room. She noticed it brushed by customers who sat closer to the entrance; their bodies unsettled from the sudden burst of chill. She mentally apologized to them before walking to the counter. She ordered a coffee – simple dark roast with room for cream – and a piece of brown butter apple pull-apart bread. Taking a seat, she settled in to answer an email she’d set aside for longer than she should have; yet she thought about it every single day since receiving it. She opened the email. She read through it again for the umpteenth time. She no longer recited through sight, but from memory.

He wrote: In my memory, your lamentations of love, lust and sadness were like great undulations of waves, forever flowing, always powerful, deep and loud. Every great emotion of love was followed by deep chasms of loneliness. Your heart was like a great lake. If one could drop a stone in the middle, the circles created would ripple out becoming larger and greater in size. If that stone was love, then great would its effect be as the circles reach the shores, as they would bounce back. The lake would become a hive of activity, alive with life and never still; all fueled by the power of one stone – your love. How I’ve missed you. 
His words permeated through her skin, seeping into her pores and crashing along her veins. Their warmth was such poison; yet, so soothing. They left her disoriented. He was a set of conflicting principles, an obstacle course; a push-pull force. He knew what he wanted and he wasn’t afraid to go after it, but he also knew having the best of both worlds can mean owning neither. He admitted his faults and mistakes and tried his best to present himself in more than just one shade. She often wondered if she peeled off all those layers of paint, would she find a Stygian portrait of a broken heart painted on his inner walls. He was the wrong one who made it all seem so right. He seemed to have been the only chaos and confusion in her life that calmed her and made any sense. Then 6 years later, after learning to unlearn him, his unexpected message knocked her out of her equanimity. And everything she tried to forget became the only thing that occupied her mind.

She was brought out of her quiet musings when she heard a man’s voice say, “I thought coffee’s supposed to help you stay awake?” She looked up to see a familiar face; one that made her both pine to engage and pivot for escape. The sound of his voice made her tremble inside. That smile she couldn’t wipe from her mind beamed at her. It was an invitation for avidity of the deepest, darkest pleasures. She squinted back into reality, but words evaded her. Seconds entered into minutes before the silence was cut with his words, "Do you have so little to say?" He took off his coat and took the seat across from her.

She finally spoke, "I'm trying to figure out where to start. You don't just pop back into someone's life after all these years and expect conversation to flow like water." Her words held a tinge of anger, but she pulled her senses together and apologized before adding, "How have you been?"

"Good. You?" His eyes slit, signifying a demand for the truth. It was something he often did when he sensed she was about to lie to him. He read her well... too well.

"I'm doing well. Really, I am."

"I almost believe you." He jested.

"Why can't you believe me? Are you so confident your reemergence into my life made everything unwell? You don't hold that kind of power over me." She retorted in kind of his making fun; hoping he understood she, too, was making light of this situation.

"Why the hostility? Should I be worried about getting hot coffee to the face?"

"Or a heel to the shin. Which do you prefer?"

"Still a sadist, I see." He quipped.
"Oh, masochist, only you would know." She threw back at him; bemused.

"Is that an invitation?"

"Is that question a confession?" She replied. 

He paused, but she recognized his expression -- furrowed brows roofing dark, steely eyes that seemed to harbor an inquisition she didn’t want to be exacted upon her. It could only mean his thoughts were running a mile a minute and he was racing to keep his composure intact. Why would he do such a thing, she didn’t know. She simply coiled her assumptions as to what he’d do or say next. 

Then his eyes softened. A pleasant smile curved across his face. He finally spoke, “Since I’m here, you can just talk to me. Like I said... I've missed you."

October 12, 2011

FOOD FIGHT: GSP (Georges "Rush" St. Pierre) - The Legacy Dinner

Current UFC Welterweight Champion

In my opinion, Georges St. Pierre, is MMA (mixed martial arts). I would have never started watching MMA if it were not for this athlete; this incredible specimen. He's currently ranked #1 in the Welterweight division by, MMAWeekly and other numerous publications. He's currently ranked by ESPN Sports as the #2 pound-for-pound fighter.

Over the course of the last 4 years, St. Pierre has been dominating the welterweight division in the UFC. It's even been stated that there's a term for what a challenger goes through after losing to St. Pierre. It's called "The GSP Fatigue"; when a fighter scores continuous losses due to the mental and physical havoc St. Pierre wreaked on him. It's simply a theory, but on October 29th, 2011 he will be defending his Welterweight Title against his teammate, Carlos Condit, at UFC 137. If St. Pierre is once again victorious, we will then see if this theory is true since it happened to Jake Shields, Thiago Alves and Dan Hardy. To read more, click here: The GSP Fatigue

St. Pierre had a difficult childhood; attending a school where other children would steal his things; even his clothing. At age 7, he started learning Kyokushin Karate from his father in order to defend himself from a school bully. Then he gradually started learning other forms of fighting. In every sense of the word, St. Pierre is a world class MMA-ist (Jiu-jitsu black belt, Gaidojutsu black belt, Kyokushin 3rd black belt, accomplished wrestler, well versed in Muay-Thai and boxing, not to mention his amazing core strength). He's an all-around fighter. To date, St. Pierre has 22 career fights and has only been defeated once by both Matt Serra and Matt Hughes; of which he has avenged those losses. 

The first time I saw St. Pierre fight was on December 29th, 2007 against Matt Hughes; in which St. Pierre won the Interim Welterweight Championship. He also received submission of the night, dealing an arm-bar to Hughes for the win. Every woman likes a man who can fight and bonus points if he looks like St. Pierre with those bright, mesmerizing blue eyes and charming smile. In 2010, St. Pierre took home the Guy's Choice award for "Most Dangerous Man"; beating out boxer, Manny Pacquiao. Ass-kicking ability aside, St. Pierre's very likable, humble and a gracious individual. You can't help, but immediately like the man for who he is... an ideal human being and iconic champion in the world of MMA. A champion who relents from talking trash about other fighters and instead lets his skills do the conversing and a fighter who motivates, trains, and treats others with respect, dignity and understanding.

It was truly difficult to create a worthy recipe for Georges St. Pierre. Over the course of planning, I decided to create a full meal; three courses to honor this amazing and respected individual. In my book, he's a cataclysm of all things great. For some strange reason, I keep thinking he could possibly smell like pine and bacon (for he is Canadian); therefore, that was my jumping off point. He's also a man rich in knowledge, well-traveled, adorns himself in fine clothing, but enjoys simplicity and calm. In the end, after weeks of commiserating over recipes in books and my head, I opted for courses tied together with bacon: an edible bacon bowl salad, roast bacon-stuffed beef loin (rich, worldly and a well loved protein), and apple crepes covered with caramel and candied bacon bits. Similar to this man, I hope this meal is an extraordinary dining spread which carries with it a certain spark of "legacy" that is Georges St. Pierre. I dubbed this three-course meal The Legacy Dinner.

Bacon Salad Bowl

Bacon Salad Bowl - What you will need:
1. Baking glass cup (use for custard)
2. A baking dish
3. Tin foil
4. Bacon

Turn baking glass cup upside down. Cover completely with tin foil. Place tin-covered baking glass cup in a baking dish. Layer bacon over the cup. Bake at 350 degrees until bacon is crispy. Let completely cool before removing from the baking glass cup and foil.

Roasted Stuffed Beef Loin

Roasted Stuffed Beef Loin

2 cups cut fresh spinach
4 slices of bacon, diced
1 small white onion
2 Tbsp. of olive oil

1. Salt and pepper beef loin.
2. Fry bacon and onions until caramelized and then add spinach. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove mixture and let cool.
3. Make a tunnel in the middle of the beef loin and stuff with mixture. 
4. Rub olive oil on beef loin and bake in oven for 45 mins. at 350 degrees. 
5. Remove from oven and let rest at least 10 mins. before cutting into it. 

Apple crepes with candied bacon and caramel. 

Basic Crepes Batter:
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tbsp. of butter, melted

1. In a bowl, mix the flour and eggs. Gradually add in the milk and water. Stir together to combine. Add the salt and melted butter. Beat until smooth.
2. Heat a lightly oiled non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Pour a scoop of the batter into the pan, using approximately 1/4 cup for each crepe. Tilt the pan in a circular motion so batter can coat the surface evenly.
3. Cook crepe for about 2 mins. until the bottom is light brown. Loosen with a spatula, turn and cook the other side.

Apple Stuffing:
2 apples (I used Honeycrisp) - diced
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1. In a pot, combine apples, sugar and vanilla extract.
2. Cook over medium heat until apples are lightly caramelized; stir often.
3. Remove from heat. Serve hot or cold. 

Candied Bacon:
2 slices of bacon
1/4 cup of brown sugar
Parchment paper
2 baking sheets

1. Mix bacon and brown sugar together.
2. Lay bacon on parchment lined baking sheet.
3. Place another layer of parchment paper on top of the sugared bacon. Then place the other baking sheet on top to help keep bacon flat.
4. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 mins. 
5. Remove and let cool completely. Bacon will harden.

Stuff apple mixture into crepes and roll. Add caramel sauce and crumbled candied bacon on top. Garnish with raspberries and candied bacon slices (optional).

September 20, 2011

FOOD FIGHT: Frankie "The Answer" Edgar - Rabbit Stew

Current UFC Lightweight Champion

Photographer: MLX Photography

Frankie Edgar is best known for upsetting B.J. Penn at UFC 112 to win the UFC Lightweight title. Though this win was controversial, he cemented his status by once again dominating Penn in a rematch at UFC 118. On October 8, 2011, Frankie Edgar will defend his title against Gray Maynard for a third time at UFC 136. In the last bout against Maynard (UFC 125); in the first round, Edgar looked as though he would lose the fight. This was the first match in which I saw what a heart and fighting spirit this fighter has; to withstand that kind of punishment and yet come out the victor after 5 brutal rounds. One can't help, but appreciate the passion, courage and tenacity Edgar possesses.

Honestly, there's not much I know of Frankie Edgar, but  that currently he's rated the #1 fighter in the lightweight division and an assistant coach for the wrestling team at Rutgers University. On another note, for some inexplicable reason, Edgar reminds me of a stocky, quick rabbit (but in a good way); a scrapper, relentless, and an intelligent fighter. And because of these things, I decided to create a simple, but robust stew for this champion.

1 rabbit (cut into 6 pieces)
3 Tbsp of olive oil
1 Tbsp of butter
1 red onion
1 heaping cup of sweet baby carrots
2 cups of fingerling potatoes (roughly cut)
2 cloves of garlic (minced)
3 sprigs of rosemary
2 sprigs of thyme
1/2 cup of red wine
1  8-oz can of tomato paste
1  14.5-oz. can of beef broth
1  1.5-oz box of raisins
Salt to taste

Brine rabbit for 24 hrs.; then drain rabbit and pat dry before cooking.
**1 cup salt, 1 cup sugar, ice water (cover the rabbit pieces), and Herbes de Provence spice blend. Mix well before putting rabbit into mixture.

1. In a pot, brown rabbit in olive oil and butter on medium high heat. When rabbit is brown and crispy on both sides, remove from pan.
2. Add minced garlic (don't let garlic burn) and then de-glaze with wine. Return rabbit to pan; let cook for 5 minutes. 
3. Add tomato sauce and beef broth. Stir.
4. Add potatoes, carrots and onions. Salt. Remember beef broth can be salty so taste stew before adding salt.
5. Throw in the thyme and rosemary sprigs. Bring to boil. Cover, turn down heat, and let simmer for 40 minutes. In the last 5 minutes of cooking, add raisins. 

Serve with your choice of side (rice, polenta, risotto, or couscous) or as is. Serves 2-3 people.

Photographer: MLX Photography