Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Fickle Foodie Layout

I've been a bit indecisive when it comes to the graphics for this blog. However, I think I've finally settled. Apologies to those who tried to access the site during these changes. See... I am fickle (in many aspects of my life)!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Scent of Summer

Jo Malone is probably my favorite perfumer (along with France's Diptyque). Anyway I stopped by her boutique on Broadway the other day to pick up my favorite scent, Nectarine Blossom and Honey. To me, this just oozes summer. While I impatiently wait for my favorite summer fruits to appear, a splash of this is a nice reminder of what's to come.

Asian Spiced Kedgeree

Adapted from Nigella Bites by Nigella Lawson. I believe this recipe is a British-English take on an Indian dish (I can’t quite recall, as I don’t have my copy of the book here in NYC). I love that it’s perfumed with those heady, smoky spices. And that wonderful yellow tinge the rice takes on as you coat it with the spices. The nutty aroma as you let the rice toast with the spices, as in the picture above. Personally, I like it with salmon, as in the book. Instead of steam/poaching the salmon in the oven, I like to pan sear it for an extra bit of texture. But since I usually make it for my sister, I use chicken or shrimp instead. A good dousing of fish sauce and lime juice give the dish a saltiness and sourness that resonates a Southeast Asian tone.

Flowers from my mother's garden

My mum planted dahlias this year. I know it's nothing to do with food, but I wish I had a garden in New York.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Madison Square Park

Roxy Paine sculpture (Conjoined) at Madison Square Park. Sunbathers underneath. Planned on stopping by Shake Shack... until I saw the line.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Blackberry Sage

Just had a piece of Eclipse Chocolat Blackberry Sage Bar – dark chocolate, sage, blackberry bits. Though the blackberry didn’t shine through as much as I’d like, I thoroughly enjoyed the dark chocolate and sage combination. I’ll have to think of another use for this combo. Many thanks to Gen for bringing this treat (and the yummy spa goodies) back from California.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Who doesn't love a pile of crêpes?

I decided to make some crêpes today. And I found it to be the perfect vehicle for rose petal jam, which Sandra so generously sent from Paris. But I still love the chocolatey goodness of a Nutella filling. Délicieux!


There’s something incredibly relaxing about kneading dough. The movement, feeling the dough spring to life in your hands. There is such a wonderful rhythm about it; it immediately puts me at ease. Make no mistake, I am not out to recreate the perfect French baguette, but a simple dough like this is worth the effort.

This dough is particularly great because of its versatility. Often I’ll divide the completed dough in half, bake off a loaf for sandwiches, toss the other half of dough in a zip-top bag and stash it in the freezer. Then on another day I’ll pull out the frozen dough, defrost it, and turn it into my favorite shrimp-and-cilantro-pesto pizza. Or for something sweet – doughnuts! I use round cookie cutters (or even an upside down drinking glass and knife) to cut out doughnut-like shapes then fry up the dough. Dredge in cinnamon-sugar, sprinkle with powdered sugar, or slather the top with Nutella.

Today I’ve turned the focaccia loaf into one of my sandwich staples. Simply split the baked loaf and spread each side with your choice of condiment – I’ve used basil pesto and sun-dried tomato pesto. Normally I’d make my own pesto, but store bought is fine. Layer in sliced turkey and provolone cheese, sandwich together, slice, and eat! It’s a great item to have on hand. In my college days, when I knew I had a busy week coming up, I’d put this together, keep it in the fridge and I’ve got a gourmet-ish sandwich lunch all set for the week.

5 ½ - 6 cups all-purpose flour
2 (1/4 ounce) packages active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups warm water
1/3 cup olive oil
Fresh rosemary (optional)
Grated parmesan cheese (optional, but please, please stray from the canned stuff)

Combine the salt and 5 cups of the flour in a bowl. Mix together the yeast, sugar, and water in a separate bowl. Set aside until foamy (about 5 minutes).Stir in yeast mixture and olive oil into flour mixture. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead dough, incorporating extra flour until you have a soft but not sticky dough. Place dough back into bowl (either greased or lightly floured). Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Grease a half-sheet baking tray or two, 9 x 13-inch baking pans. Take risen dough and spread to fit baking tray as best you can (split dough in half first if using two 9 x 13-inch pans). The dough may want to resist, so let it rest a few minutes and stretch to fit again. Get as close as you can to the edges, but the dough will puff and stretch a little more during the next rising. Cover and let dough rise for about 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Using your fingers make indentations in the top of the dough. Drizzle with olive-oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, rosemary, and parmesan cheese as desired. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

About Fickle Foodie

This is an outlet for my (mostly) food-related musings – a virtual notebook of sorts documenting my cooking experiments, my discoveries, current fixations… etcetera. I started this blog while living in NYC, my “gallivanting-phase,” as it were. But I’ve since moved back to my old college stomping grounds, Austin, Texas. N.B. – As I ease back into that lazy Austin groove, I don’t update near as much as I should. But know this; I do have posts waiting in the wings, which will probably be published sometime after losing their relevancy.

I am by no means a professional chef. I am just a twenty-something girl who has this chronic obsession with food. As a child, food was more necessity than pleasure. Isn’t that cliché? But as I reached my teens and college years, I honed in on a new perspective on food. I discovered the pleasures to be had in cooking and eating good food. For me, cooking and eating became an experience that should stimulate all your senses (sight, hearing, smell, touch, and most importantly, taste).

I’m not quite sure when this obsession with food started, but I can be certain I didn’t begin experimenting in the kitchen until my late teens. Before that, I mostly watched, studying techniques of various chef/cooks on television. I recall being captivated with Julia Child as I watched her program on PBS. I used to watch Food Network in its early stages (only a handful of programs then), before it became the gargantuan network it is today. Nowadays I find myself reading cookbooks, scouring restaurant menus for inspiration, and deciphering scribble-like notes (of discoveries from my latest trips and miscellany revelations) that I’ve jotted down in my food notebooks.

My background lies in the fields of mathematics, computational linguistics, and aerospace engineering (i.e. – I suck at grammar). I have no professional culinary training of any kind. But I do have a lifetime of assisting my mother and grandmother in the kitchen. Any other culinary skills I seemingly posses are largely self-taught. My cooking is decidedly American, with influxes of Tex-Mex and Southeast Asian flavors (as homage to my childhood in Texas and my ethnicity, respectively). But I do enjoy trying my hand at other cuisines.

Why “Fickle Foodie” you may ask? Because I spend excessive (to the point of annoyance of my dining companion) amounts of time lingering over restaurant menus and my recipe collections, I can never decide what I want to order/cook! I suppose that could be an excuse to try everything!