March 29, 2013
One of the things I miss most about LA is the wide array of ethnic restaurants available. From Korean to Persian to Ethiopian to Chilean, it’s easy to find solid, authentic, and often cheap eats from all over the world there.
Don’t get me wrong, Paris does have quite a few restaurants specializing in cuisines from other lands, but often (notably as is the case with sushi), it’s mediocre and overpriced. That’s why I love Happy Nouilles so much.
Located near Arts et Métiers, Happy Nouilles is a solid Chinese restaurant that specializes in noodle soups with hand-pulled noodles. I always go for the “Zati,” which has minced pork in a spicy miso broth. It’s one of the spicier things I’ve tried in Paris, with a heat that seems mild at first slurp but slowly builds up until you’re panting by the end of the bowl. This time around I tried it with filaments de ble instead of the hand-pulled lamen. The knife-cut noodles, similar to Korean kal guk soo, were thick and chewy and will be my new go-to.
March 17, 2013
I’ve been vagabonding around Paris of late, staying at one obliging friend’s apartment after another while they’re out of town, house-sitting or cat-sitting or what have you. It’s a great way to experience different parts of the city, to be sure, but it’s also a formula for feeling constantly not-quite-at-home.
There are things I do to make myself feel less like an interloper into someone else’s space: saturating the house with my favorite music; drinking inordinate amounts of tea while staring out of the windows, familiarizing myself with the view; making the kitchen smell like my kitchen.
One of the defining smells of the kitchen in which I grew up is sesame oil. My standard after-school snack when I was a little girl was a bowl of rice mixed with a bit of soy sauce and sesame oil, the distinct nutty smell of the oil amplified by the heat of the rice.
This bowl of greens and grains is like a grown-up version of my carb-bomb after school snack. Delicate Brussels sprouts leaves and crunchy coconut are tossed in an Asian-inspired vinaigrette, walked quickly through the oven just to get them toasty, and served over hot, fluffy brown rice. I know it sounds way too healthy to be exciting, but trust me: this is some seriously addictive stuff, friends.
October 18, 2012
We’ve talked about braising in Coke before, and I’m still a huge fan.
Especially after this recipe. It sounds weird if you’ve never done it before, but I promise the dish doesn’t end up tooth-achingly sweet the way Coke classic sometimes is, especially since it’s balanced by the salt from the soy sauce. The soda just lends a subtle sweetness and a slightly acidic braising liquid that penetrates the chicken and makes it tender and juicy. Honestly, after making this dish, I wondered if the “secret ingredient” my grandmother used for her braises wasn’t Coke.
And really, there’s nothing better than a hearty, one-pot braise on a cold evening, especially when that braise only took a few minutes to throw together, then perhaps a half hour of happy bubbling on the stove.
August 22, 2012
Have you ever made a laminated dough? Laminated doughs are the ones that have alternating thin layers of fat and thin layers of dough, resulting in a very flaky, delicate end product. Pâte feuilletée, or puff pastry, is one such dough.
I made puff pastry once, just to see if I could do it. It was in the heat of a Santa Monica summer, and I had trouble with the butter melting and not having enough counter space for all that rolling, but I did it. Every cookbook, blog, and cooking show I’d ever seen suggested that I just buy puff pastry, and now I knew why. It was fun to tackle the challenge, but honestly, it’s not worth the time and effort when there are quality all-butter puff pastry doughs that you can just buy.
But I’ve never really given up the fascination with laminated doughs. It’s a brilliant technique that creates a texture that isn’t reproducible any other way. That’s why I was so excited to find this recipe, which creates a beautiful layered dough without the painstaking folding and prolonged chilling needed for pâte feuilletée. The fact that it uses not butter, but another of my favorite fats, sesame oil, adds to the appeal.