General Tsos, No Way!

Recently, I called my mom imploring her for the recipe of one of my favorite Chinese dishes, Lumpia. Typically in the form of a deep fried spring roll in most Asian countries, Chinese lumpia is the far healthier (and tastier!) version that is also called “popiah” in China and Singapore. Although it can be made in numerous ways, the combination that I have grown up eating involves a large spring roll wrapper filled with julienned veggies, tofu, shrimp, and pork, and garnished with a toppings that include scrambled egg, crushed roasted peanuts and a sweet sauce (more on this later).


While time consuming, this recipe is actually really easy to make. Its essentially all veggies/tofu (cabbage, carrots, green beans, bean sprouts, tofu) cut into matchstick sized pieces, and sauteed with a base of LOTS of shallots and garlic, pork, and diced shrimp. My mom has made this so many times that she doesn’t really measure, but its essentially a one to one ratio for the vegetables, i.e. one pound of each vegetable, followed by about a third pound of both pork and shrimp. I come from a family of tofu lovers, so we tend to add more of that since more often than not that is the first ingredient missing after a few servings!! Oh, and another thing about this dish – it lasts pretty much FOREVER, and in a good way. After making this over the weekend I didn’t have to worry about dinner for a good 4 or 5 nights. Not consecutively, of course…but I digress. The brown sauce pictured is a combination of rice wine vinegar, sugar (i used agave), cornstarch, soy sauce and water. All pretty simple really, but soo delicious!

The Final Product!

After posting that I realized that lumpia really looks eerily close to a burrito…sans cheese of course. Who knew the Chinese liked Mexican food? Speaking of which, there is a chicken enchilada recipe calling my name, hopefully I will be back soon reporting on the results!ūüôā

I <3 NYC (albiet, belatedly)

Now, I know the NYC Food & Wine Festival was now more than two weeks ago, but I was too¬†lazy¬†busy concocting other fabulous ¬†dishes to post about it and am doing so now. So… now that my indolence has been aired out in the open, I feel perfectly fine speaking about the event as if it were yesterday. Not to mention, the streak of client lunches at work (going on six in a row, which I am almost certain is a record) has left me in a perpetual food coma, all while yearning for healthy brown bagged lunches. ¬†I realize that the adage “the grass is greener on the other side” could not be any apter at this moment, but sometimes, there really can be too much of a good thing. Hummus sandwiches, anyone?

Anywho, on to the good stuff. There were a TON of events that I would have loved to go to (a few including demonstrations by Tyler and Giada, and a Times Talks Q&A with Ina). I would have so gone to the Ina one if it had been a cooking demonstration, but I ended up going to the Bobby Flay cooking demonstration instead. I must say, Bobby did not disappoint one bit. The demonstration was at Comix, a comedy club venue in NYC, whose intimate size and classroom-style setup made for a great venue – no matter where you were sitting. The show started with an introduction by the founder of the Food & Wine Festival, Lee Brian Schrager. It was awesome (and inspiring) to hear him talk about the roots of the festival – and how 100% of the ticket proceeds go to the Food Banks of NYC and Share our Strength, which is something I did not know prior to. We also learned that this years winner of “The Next Food Network Star,” Melissa D’Arabian, would be along for the ride, which was an exciting surprise!

Bobby @ F&W Festival

Bobby welcoming the audience to the festival

The demonstration itself was full of wonderful smells and great cooking tips. On the menu for the day was a Pomegranate Glazed Roasted Chicken, Roasted Mushrooms, Roasted Brussel Sprouts in a Vanilla Infused Butter and finally, German Chocolate Cake! All of it was delicious (and of course so easy to prepare when all the prep work had been done previously), but I learned some interesting tips and techniques that I intend to follow up on soon. I can’t think of how else to say them but in list form, so here it goes…

1) Brussels Sprouts – now, I know they are good for you, but I have never been a big fan. But hey, a little butter + vanilla bean makes everything taste good, right? Great, now I sound like Paula Deen.

2) Pomegranates – super yummy, but a PAIN to deseed. Bobby brought up the interesting technique of slicing it in half and hitting it with a knife (so that the seeds just fall out)

3) The most interesting tip of the day was about cooking oil. According to Bobby, it isn’t necessary to use olive oil if not for dressings, a garnish, or drizzle. But, one might say, its good for you! Apparently, the benefits of olive oil are negated once it hits a sizzling pan, so canola oil should do the trick whenever a hot dish calls for the EVOO. An economical tip for sure!

The presentation went on way past its 45 minute promise, and when we left there was a plethora of Whole Foods endorsed swag to grab! Obel wafers, which are like the healthy Kit-Kat and soo good, Honeycrisp apples, and Solixir energy drinks. The experience all in all was very enjoyable, and I will definitely be going to more of these events next year. Yum!

Bobby and Melissa

Bobby & Melissa

Leftover Lovin’

The above ¬†is in homage to my dear Vivvykins, who will most certainly see this title as our smashing (and really, inevitable) foray into the world of country-western songwriting. Or as Wikipedia coins it, “hillbilly boogie”. But I digress.

I was pretty excited today to turn the leftover roasted butternut squash from a few nights ago into some sort of soup endeavor. This rather chilly week has had us here in Boston reluctantly bringing out our coats and scarves, and I ¬†for one, have seen the pre-winter shuffle dominate the sidewalks with a fervor. I can think of nothing better than a warm, comforting bowl of liquid gold at the end of the day to unwind, relax, and forget about the chills of summer long past. Searching on the internets for a¬†recipe that would be forgiving measurement-wise (as the whole point was to use leftovers), I stumbled upon “Butternut Squash Chipotle Bisque“. The combination of squash, more veggies, chicken broth and chipotle chiles (in adobo sauce, seriously one of the the best inventions ever) sounded like the jackpot winner of the day.¬†

Since the squash was already done, all that was left to do was chop up the veggies (pretty standard Рonion, celery, carrot), boil said vegetables and squash in broth. While this was cooking, the chipotle was mixed in with some sour cream for later garnish. When everything was pretty soft, the liquid  was placed in the blender with the leftover chipotle. That was it! 

The soup had a definite kick to it, and couldn’t have been more satisfying. The sour cream added a nice creaminess which lended ¬†the “bisque” aspect to the dish. I ate this with some toasted cornbread on the side, which was¬†definitely¬†needed to temper the spiciness. Bobby would be so proud.


The bisque with a dollop of chipotle-sour cream and cornbread on the side. Take that faux fall!

The bisque with a dollop of chipotle-sour cream and cornbread on the side. Take that faux fall!

How Easy Is That?

It seems only apt that the first (eep) post to christen this page would be a recipe courtesy of the Barefoot Contessa. Sadly, the title does not properly convey her low, sensuous timbre and eyebrow raises. For all fellow Ina devotees out there, you know what I am talking about. If not, just trust me. 

After a rather rich feast last night at Grill 23, ¬†where thousands of butter soaked calories were consumed, my conscience (and wardrobe) were imploring me to concoct something healthy. It must have been the leering autumn windchill (the first of the year!), since on my lunchtime walk thoughts of roasted butternut squash were conjured up in my head. I remembered a particularly beautiful photograph from Ina’s “Back to Basics” tome, of a roasted butternut squash salad and decided that this (along with some leftover steak, oops!) would be dinner.¬†

……… It was absolutely delicious! The recipe calls for you to roast the butternut squash, followed by the cranberries. Although the instructions were to roast for around 20-25 minutes, i found that 25-35 was closer to accurate, but that also depends on your oven! Roasting cranberries gives a great chewy, yet firm texture which I found very nice as well.¬†


nothing says fall better than this! I added some cinnamon to this although the recipe didn't ask for it - if you ask me, you cant go wrong with cinnamon!

nothing says fall better than this! I added some cinnamon to this although the recipe didn't ask for it - if you ask me, you cant go wrong with cinnamon!



One of the best parts of this salad was the warm cider vinaigrette. This was made by reducing a concoction of shallots, apple cider and apple cider vinegar, and adding dijon mustard, olive oil and salt and pepper Рa winning combination for sure, and one i would not hesitate to use again. Look how pretty!

apple cider vinaigrette

I also made a last minute decision to add some cubed apples to the salad, which added a very nice crunch element to the dish. Sometimes the texture combinations really do make a difference!


The Final Product!

The Final Product!

I am definitely making this again Рalthough you might see the leftover roasted squash making its way into a soup of some sort. [ponders] Before I forget, the recipe can be found here . Anyway, I am taking my contacts sticking to my eyes as a sign that slumber awaits. Lates!