Dreamy Meals List!

What do you call the food that appears in your dreams? It is literally dreamy food. I’ve dreamt plenty of times about clothes I don’t own and it was all a fantasy. Fortunately, when food appears in my dreams, they are food I’ve had (or seen on Pinterest/social media/the internet), and I very much hope they will reappear in my life by way of cooking, going to a restaurant, or a Ratatouille situation.

Image result for dreaming gif

  • Pasta
    • Butternut squash ravioli (it tastes like fall)
    • Mint, ricotta and lemon caramelle (this is such a cute pasta! it looks like candy)
    • Filipino spaghetti (I am kind of obsessed with sweet pasta)
  • Chinese
    • Potstickers (potstickers are so democratic; you can fill them with anything your heart desires)
    • Scallop lo mein (noodles are my fav carb! I’ll never say no to noodles)
    • Scallion pancakes (this is a Chinese food MUST and I really want to master it)
    • Orange, walnut and dates wonton (it is heavenly and the best dessert)
  • On toast
    • Disclaimer: I’ve not made any of these but that’s why they are DREAM-Y
    • Kimchi, soft-boiled egg, and sesame seeds (I love the Korean twist on it!)
    • Refried beans, salsa, and cilantro (I already know I’d devour this)
    • Goat cheese, strawberries, edamame, and salt (*chef’s kiss*)
  • Indian & Thai
    • Saag paneer (it’s one of my fav dishes!)
    • Chicken tikka masala (chicken tastes good in every cuisine)
    • Cauliflower and chickpea masala
    • Spicy glass noodle salad (SO yummy! I love the spicy twist on salad)
  • Budget meals
    • Spicy tuna guacamole bowl
    • Actually, the longer I look on BudgetBytes the more I realize that dreams, or at least dreamy foods, are attainable.

I will keep on dreaming!

Food hacks! from Trader Joe’s

I love Trader Joe’s because they have such great products that seem to be made just for you. As someone who is not at all good at cooking, I will rely on them a lot when I am feeding myself. Even the cooking class that I go to uses ingredients from TJ’s. I think it’s like faux-cooking where you are opening packages and mixing things together, but the result is that you still have a really good and filling meal and that’s all that matters. I compiled links to some recipes based on TJ’s products!

For some food gurus, the decision to simmer homemade spaghetti and meatballs on the stove rather than heat up a can of ravioli in the microwave is evidence of a person’s moral fortitude.

My food might not taste great but I do find cooking to be meditative. I love rolling, rationing things out, combining, cutting (even though I’m not great at it yet), and even doing dishes. I am excellent at doing dishes from all my time assisting at Hipcooks! All in all, I’m excited to move out because I love having my own kitchen to play in.

PS. It sounds crazy but during some truly hopeless and dark times in my life, the thought of the life I might someday lead has kept me going, and cooking is one of them. You could say it’s a fantasy. I want to keep living and even live a long life so that I might someday bring all those tutorial videos that I watch into practice.

PPS. I thought about my mentor teacher Ann Wilson today and even though I’m no longer teaching, she has inspired me to live a good, “well-revised” life. I will write more on her later!

Jeweled rice!

Recently, I have been encountering a lot of Persian culture! I am not complaining about it because 1) Persian food is delicious; 2) the Persians in my life have been nice; and 3) I live in an area with a good Persian population.

My favorite Persian food is ice cream! Saffron and rose flavored ice cream. When I was in college, there was this ice cream called, quite literally, Saffron and Rose. I love the ice cream there because it was so unique, even though some people said it tastes like perfume.

IT’S FRAGRANCE!!!!!!!

Anyway, I loved this class. I think this is really what Hipcooks is about. I loved going to sushi and dim sum class, but since I’m familiar with the food, it was comforting. I know nothing about Persian cooking, so this was foreign in the best way possible. We made jeweled rice with pistachio, saffron, and barberry. We also made salad with meatballs and yogurt sauce.

My favorite was the ice cream with orange slices, pistachio, and rose petals! I am serving that at my wedding or the most important celebrations of my life. It is beautiful and fun to make and super tasty.

I realize that I can’t really share anything I learned about Persian cooking except that:

  • Persians know food. They make a lot of it. Proper Persian meals are a feast.
  • Saffron is the stamen of crocus flowers. It is painstaking to gather and that’s why it is so expensive!
  • Persian cooking is very involved and takes a very long time to prepare and cook. It probably involves ingredients you don’t have on hand. Truthfully, I probably won’t ever make it myself, except the ice cream. But going to this class made me appreciate Persian food a lot.

I can’t say enough good things about Hipcooks, the cooking class I’ve been going to. It’s been a big part of my life post-teaching because it helps me to be around strangers, people, and adults again. I’m learning how to assist the teacher, how to serve food, greet people, and make 3 hours a pleasant experience for all.

I love it a lot. I’m really thankful it exists because I’m learning so much there. Thank you Suzana!

Have you ever had Persian food? Would you try saffron and rose ice cream?

 

 

Dim sum!

I have been going to this cooking class called Hipcooks in Santa Ana. It is very fun! I am so glad I found it. I had been looking for cooking classes and I only knew of ones at Sur La Table or William Sonoma, but those are too expensive for me. Then I searched on Yelp for cooking classes and found Hipcooks and I signed up right away because I was looking for group cooking classes and a variety of food. Plus they have an assistant program where you can volunteer in exchange for free classes. It is perfect for me!

One thing I’ve wanted to learn was how to cook Chinese food. I eat it all the time and I am Chinese but I know nothing about how it is made. I like regional Chinese food too such as the the pickled flavors and lamb of northern China, jianbao and spicy flavors of southern China. I think you could limit yourself to eating Chinese food and still get every flavor profile there is. It’s just delicious.

The thing about Hipcooks is that they have classes on all sorts of cuisines. I’ve been to Persian, Chinese, Japanese, and pasta! But it is not exactly authentic because there’s always a twist to it. The takeaway from this class is that Chinese food always has three ingredients: green onion, garlic, and ginger. Knowing that, I could make a lot of dishes taste Chinese, as long as I add those seasoning and have some kind of salt or umami to go with it, such as soy sauce or fish sauce.

During class, we made two rounds of food. (That’s another thing I learned from Hipcooks. If I am ever hosting a dinner party, I will be sure to serve my food in rounds and not all at once.) In the first round we wrapped dumplings and made scallion pancake from scratch. You only need hot water and flour to make the dough. No eggs or salt! I also learned how to make the swirl pattern. I loooove scallion pancakes, they are delicious. Dumplings and the cabbage wrap are nice because you can put anything your heart desires in it.

The second round is my favorite because 1) green beans, 2) noodles!, and 3) pork in puff pastry. I love green beans with garlic. I think it just hits the spot and I don’t mind eating greens that way at all. I also like the scallop lo mein because NOODLES. ARE. LIFE!

Lastly, the pork in puff pastry was a yummy snack that is not authentic but tasty nonetheless. Red pork is a really Chinese way of cooking pork and it’s pretty delicious. It’s most often in buns but in puff pastry it becomes a fun finger food/appetizer. Very lastly, we ended class with dessert which was walnut, date & orange stuffed wonton! Dusted with powder sugar, it is such a treat.

What is your favorite kind of Chinese food? Dim Sum?

Sources / Chinese cooking blogs;

Sushi!

I have always wanted to learn how to make sushi ever since I watched Jiro Dreams of Sushi. 

  • I love the craft that goes into making sushi.
  • I love how delicious it is, but raw fish is an acquired taste for me too.
  • I like the variety of rolls! Philadelphia, California, crunchy… I love Americanized rolls as well as traditional Japanese sashimi.

But the real reason I love sushi is that it is very personal and dear to my heart. I met my ex-boyfriend at the sushi restaurant where he was working and he taught me how to make sushi! Sushi was a big part of our relationship because we went out for sushi many times. Sushi kind of stayed with me, and it’s become a dream to learn to make it.

Did I mention that I love fish??

When I took this class, we made appetizers and the rest was a sushi making workshop. We made hand rolls, maki rolls, and different kinds with rice on the inside vs. outside. All of it is very fun! Sushi is actually not intimidating at all. Once you master how to make sushi rice, you could do anything. You could add toppings, textures, and anything you want inside rolls. For example, my favorite non-fish ingredients are mango and cucumber. I love sweet/sour flavors. And garlic and crushed wasabi peas for texture!

My takeaways from this class:

  • You need a very sharp knife to make sushi, ideally a serrated knife to cut rolls.
  • Rice is the ingredient that makes the sushi. Use rice vinegar, but when mixing, don’t crush the rice, otherwise you will end up with paste.
  • Play with texture and color in your sushi! Since you are using fresh ingredients, it comes naturally. Sushi does tend to be slimy and tongue-y, so it helps to add some crunch such as crushed wasabi, bean sprouts, or panko (the breaded stuff.)
  • It’s very easy to do dishes when you are making sushi–no grease!
  • Pre-cut all the ingredients into strips. Then, when you are making sushi, you can do it Chipotle-style and just take what you need into your rolls.

I hope you try making sushi someday! What is your favorite roll?

TLT Food – Irvine, CA

Happy Taco Tuesday! I went to TLT to get Chimi Noodle Bowl with pork belly. Yum! I like Brussel sprouts and the sides from here. This is basically seasoned udon with a meat of your choice. I think I could make something like this if I knew what kind of seasoning was in it. It really hit the spot today. Here is to celebrate my last day of summer.

TLT @ Irvine Spectrum

Chimi noodle bowl – $10

Rice dome

Rice Dome

The second recipe I tried is also from Cookat (I just love simple videos. It makes it feel like I can cook anything in under 15-20 minutes.) It’s a rice dome! Technically, it should be runny egg yolk on top of mozarella instead of a fried egg on top. I didn’t have mozarella so I just did a fried egg. Same look different taste!

The rice dome!
All scrambled, dig in