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Jilly’s Chicken Adobo
July 18, 2011, 11:58 pm
Filed under: Cook, Drink | Tags: , , , ,

In 2008, we had a rotating potluck going and it was Jilly’s turn to cook the main. I’d been craving Filipino food so I requested that she make chicken adobo because all Filipinos know how to make amazing chicken adobo, right? Riiight. All Filipinos know how to make amazing chicken adobo just like all Japanese are ninjas. That first stab at chicken adobo? Let’s just say it was… less than successful. Blame it on the fact that she used boneless skinless chicken breasts, or that she used full sodium soy sauce, or that she hadn’t yet learned what brining was. One diner actually asked, “Is this beef?”

Then one day, she posted this picture, and I knew she’d finally figured it out:

Two years, it took, but she finally perfected the recipe and when I begged her to let me try the new and improved version of her chicken adobo, she had me over for dinner. As I walked into the apartment, the aroma of garlic and ginger wafting through the air, the sound of the chicken sizzling in the pan, and the sight of my lovely hostess smiling at me… it all had me a little weak in the knees.

You’ve come a long way, baby.


  • 3 lbs bone-in chicken legs (drumstick/thigh combos), brined overnight in solution of 1/4 cup salt + 1 gallon of water
  • 8 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, thinly sliced
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 3/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 3/4 cup white vinegar
  • Coconut oil OR canola oil to fry chicken
Preparation (as written by Jilly)
  1. After brining chicken for 24 hours, remove and let sit in a bowl for 1 hour (to let the water soak into the chicken and away from the skin…we want crispy skin!)
  2. Marinate chicken for 1 hour in all of the above ingredients (minus the brine, of course) in a large pot
  3. Begin cooking; let simmer and stir regularly until chicken appears cooked, opaque and white. Turn off heat.
  4. Have a frying pan ready with oil, preheated till oil is shimmering (supa dupa hot)
  5. Begin frying chicken in batches as pan allows–this will be messy, but worth it! If possible, a brave soul with long arms (and long sleeves) should be the one doing this step
    • Fry till crispy, golden, and brown.
    • As each piece is perfectly fried, put it back into the pot with the soy/vinegar/garlic mixture
  6. When done frying, cook the chicken back up in the soy mixture, and simmer until mixture is thick and chicken is cooked through (the poke-with-a-knife test, etc.)
    • Jill likes to add a teaspoon of sugar in there as it simmers at this step to make it a little richer and caramelized-ish
Recommended wine pairing: 2008 Pfaffenheim Pinot Blanc d’Alsace.
Grape: 100% Pinot Blanc
Region: Pfaffenheim (Alsace), France.
Notes: 100 growers created a co-operative called ‘The winegrowers of Pfaffenheim’, whose grapes are never sold outside of the Co-op. Several Grand Cru vineyards. 2010 is the first year these wines are sold in the U.S.Description: Beautiful golden-yellow color with clean aromas of peach and apricots. The palate is surprisingly dry for such intense aromas and richness. Lovely minerality and starfruit character that yields to red plum on the finish.

Serve with mango salad:
  • 3 Jersey tomatoes OR 4-5 plum tomatoes, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 red onion, also diced
  • 1 mango, diced (use a firm mango to avoid smushiness..we like crisp!)
  • as much or as little cilantro as you’d like, finely chopped
  • dash of white vinegar, to taste
  • dash of soy or fish sauce, to taste
  • squeezed 1/2 lime or 1/4 lemon
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
Dice it up and throw it all together.
I like mine extra crispy.
To balance it all out with a starch, I like garlic rice, although any rice will do. For garlic rice, just take a crapload of minced garlic and saute it in a crapload of butter before stirring in cooked white rice (I like it kinda mushy). Nom.

Spiced cranberry ginger punch aka Witches’ Brew
October 21, 2010, 8:04 am
Filed under: Drink | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I was glad to see that the Witches’ Brew punch was so well-received at Hobby, even if no one could see the ice hand floating in the punch because I was too lazy to buy a punch bowl for the occasion. I now see the error of my ways, and I will be sure to shell out for a punch bowl next time I go to the trouble of making ice hands so you can witness them in all their gruesome glory.

For now, the recipe for the punch, which I modeled after the recipe I found on Epicurious (surprise!) by Kemp Minifie. I’m going to rename it “spiced cranberry ginger punch” because that’s way more descriptive than “Witches’ Brew.” Though “spiced cranberry ginger punch” is a mouthful.

Ingredients (Yields ~2 gallons of punch):

  • 4 to 6 cinnamon sticks – I used 4 2-inch sticks and found myself wishing for a stronger cinnamon taste so I’ve upped the recommended amount of cinnamon.
  • 12 to 15 whole cloves
  • 2 fingers of shredded ginger – I just used a peeler to shave off thin slivers of fresh ginger. For a stronger ginger kick, use more.
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 4 quarts of cranberry juice cocktail, chilled
  • 1 2-liter bottle of ginger ale, chilled
  • 1 2-liter bottle club soda or seltzer, chilled
  • 1 bottle of dark rum – spike to taste. I ended up using close to an entire bottle of rum and got something like 40 people pretty tipsy, and it tasted deceptively un-boozy but packed a serious punch (no pun intended).
  • Ice

Preparation of spiced syrup

  • Bring cinnamon sticks, cloves, ginger, water, and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring until sugar has dissolved, then simmer, covered, 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let steep, uncovered, 1 hour.
  • You can refrigerate the spiced syrup, covered, for up to a week. Strain out the solids before use.

Preparation of punch

  • Combine cranberry juice, seltzer/club, ginger ale, spiced syrup, and rum in a punch bowl. Stir to mix. Add ice and serve.
  • Note: if you want to turn this recipe into individual cocktails, just keep to a ratio of 1/2 cranberry juice, 1/4 seltzer, 1/4 ginger ale, spiced syrup and rum to taste.

Bloody severed finger cookies recipe
October 20, 2010, 8:34 am
Filed under: Cook, Eat | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The turnout at Hobby last night was great! I had a blast listening to Leo pontificate on jazz, James schooling us on paragliding, and Abel talking about traveling the world on the cheap. For those of you who attended, my sincerest apologies for what was, at best, a rather scatterbrained stream of consciousness loosely guided by slides that didn’t say much of anything. At the very least, I hope you enjoyed my finger cookies and the punch.

I’ve gotten a few requests for the recipe, so I’m going to post the recipe that I used, which is slightly modified from this one by Clare Crespo. As always, I went through all of the other cooks’ reviews and tweaked the recipe according to their suggestions, which is why you’ll find I reduced salt, increased flour, dipped almond slice nails in jam, refrigerated before baking, and baked with almonds in. I added extra vanilla because I like it, and the bloody chocolate was my own idea, though I’m sure I’m not the first to have come up with it. Recipe after the jump>>

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Pho cuon = pho king good
August 25, 2010, 11:21 am
Filed under: Cook, Eat, Go | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Has anyone in NYC found a Vietnamese restaurant that serves pho cuon? I haven’t found a single place outside of Hanoi that offers this delectable rolled pho dish (as my friend Thanh calls it) to its customers. This is New York City. Isn’t there some Northern Vietnamese place in Queens or something that y’all can direct me to? Anyone?

I first discovered pho cuon on the northeast side of Truc Bach Lake in Hanoi. Thanh, a Hanoi native and then-classmate of mine in Seoul,  wanted to take us around to some of the local eateries to sample Hanoi cuisine. I don’t think I’ve ever been as happy as that day at Truc Bach Lake (the seafood shack later also helped). We stopped at a nondescript roadside stand, no one spoke English, and before I knew it, a glorious plate of pho cuon sat before me.

Pho cuon is simple. It’s just a sheet of Vietnamese rice noodle rolled up around some slightly sweetened sauteed beef, fresh lettuce, and cilantro; served with a dipping sauce composed of what tasted mostly like fish sauce and vinegar with carrots and onions (and possibly daikon). So simple, yet I find myself dreaming about it still.

After a quick search on the web, I found this post on the Wandering Chopsticks blog and nearly wept for joy. Now I can make pho cuon at home! Further, she even posted a recipe for the dipping sauce, nuoc mam cham ngot. I guessed most of the ingredients correctly above, though I missed the sugar (duh – I should’ve caught that).

See ya. I’m off to the Asian grocery now.

Prosciutto-wrapped cantaloupe
August 17, 2010, 9:52 am
Filed under: Cook, Eat | Tags: , , , , , , ,

The combination of salty ham and sweet fruit makes for a delightful summer appetizer. It’s also probably the easiest thing you’ll ever make for a party (with the exception, perhaps, of dumping a bag of tortilla chips into a bowl) since it requires absolutely no culinary skill whatsoever besides knowing how to cut up a cantaloupe and wrap meat around it.

Well. I guess there’s no real need to go through the motions of writing out a recipe. Buy prosciutto (or other salty cured ham – sliced paper thin), buy a cantaloupe (or other melon – but honeydew is usually a little too sweet), cut up melon into chunks, wrap prosciutto around melon chunks, and serve. If desired, you can add a dollop of mild goat cheese, a fresh mint leaf, or fig. Totally up to you. If the other ingredients won’t stick to the melon, hold them in place with some toothpicks. The world is your hors d’oeuvre.

Southwest potato salad with corn, cilantro, red onion
August 16, 2010, 12:12 pm
Filed under: Cook, Eat | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

[tweetmeme]Potato salads are great for summer gatherings because they are so easy and inexpensive to throw together, they’re quite filling so that’s great when there are lots of guests, and you can make everything ahead of time and chill overnight – no mad rush to cook after work or as guests are arriving.

The key to a great potato salad is threefold:

  1. Use Yukon Gold potatoes. They are less starchy than baking potatoes so they taste creamier and hold their shape better when boiled.
  2. Use good mayo. I like to use Kewpie Mayonnaise, usually found in Asian/Japanese groceries. I think they use more yolk as it’s more yellow than most American grocery store mayos. It tastes eggy with a touch of tang to me, which is something I really enjoy. I use it sparingly, just enough to keep the potatoes moist and lend some of that creamy, tangy flavor. The worst is an over-mayoed potato salad. Ick.
  3. Add something crunchy. This way, your potato salad will not taste like cold mashed potatoes with mayonnaise.

Recipe after the jump:

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Asian “deviled” eggs
June 8, 2010, 3:15 pm
Filed under: Cook | Tags: , , , ,

My friend David lives in the relatively unspoiled and supremely fertile Tasmania, and it allows him access to a wide variety of fresh organic produce from all over the world that is grown locally.

He sent me the following note some weeks ago:

Hey you! Try this: Hard boil some free range eggs and quarter them lengthwise. Lay them side by side on a long dish. Dris them in Tamari, Japanese mayo, dots of wasabi and then sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and toasted granuated garlic. I think it looks as good as it tastes! Ciao!

His is definitely a Japanese “deviled” egg. I only just got around to testing out my own version based on ingredients I had on hand, and I am admittedly lacking in my presentation skills so it didn’t turn out nearly as nicely as I imagine David’s did. Not only do I lack imagination, I lack counter space, and I also lack photogenic dishware and a camera with a decent low-light sensor. Forgive me.

It tasted great, though. Like an Asian deviled egg, though I didn’t remove the yolks and blend before returning them to the whites, so it’s “deviled” with bunny ears, not actually deviled. Recipe after the jump. Continue reading