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Yoo Eatz

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every dish has a story

Top o' the Morning to Yoo!Oct 17, 2011

Since moving into our neighborhood 2 1/2 years ago, mieko14 and I have become decent regulars at a local breakfast spot, The Village Grill.  Every time we've gone I was always intrigued by the Traditional Irish Breakfast on their menu:

...but always opted for pancakes and a side of corned beef hash (which, in my opinion, is the best in town).  I finally decided to try it a couple weekends ago and now I'm kicking myself for not doing so earlier.  In hindsight, it should've been a no-brainer: eggs, three kinds of meat products, beans, etc.  How could it possibly not be good?  Here is what was presented before me:

And here is the same plate 20 minutes later:

Let's just say the corned beef hash now has some serious competition.

Spaghetti With Fried Eggs and PangritataJul 10, 2011

I believe there are two types of pasta sauce people: those who gravitate toward tomato-based sauces, and those who fiend for butter and dairy. You may spike your sauce with something special, be it some chili flakes in arrabiata, olives in puttanesca, or pancetta in carbonara, but if you are a serious carb-loader, I'm pretty sure that you'll fall into one of the two camps. As surely as I am left-handed, I belong to Team Dairy. This affiliation can often be inconvenent in light of my lactose intolerance, but as easy as it was to give up ice cream, it has been impossible to say goodbye to cheese. Some nights when I am eating alone, I will boil up some spaghetti, sizzle a few fresh sage leaves in butter and olive oil, and toss it all together with Parmesan. If I'm feeling particularly daring, I'll fry up an egg to give my pasta a happy little party hat. But I've been looking for a new recipe to turn that quick weeknight staple into an elegant meal for two.

Recently, I uncovered this gem on Food52, a recipe site with a collection of truly amazing user-submitted, editor-curated recipes. Not only does this one contain the holy trinity of butter, cheese, and yolky eggs, it's topped with a lemony rosemary-breadcrumb crunch and a sprinkle of capers to make you pucker. I've upped Rhonda's recipe to feed four (or, in this household, two), but it's also easy enough to make on my nights alone! For the recipe, read on.

Shrimp and Cheesy Grits With Poached Eggs and Glazed BaconMay 13, 2011

I'm not too familiar with how to make grits; in fact, before today my only instructions came from My Cousin Vinny. Despite being a California kid, I have eaten grits several times. These days, they aren't too hard to find on brunch menus even out here on the West Coast, but even as a child I managed to get my hands on a few bowls, though I had to travel far.

The first time I tried grits was on the backside of a racetrack. In a past life, I was obsessed with horses, and when I was thirteen, my dad arranged every little horse-loving girl's dream vacation. On the way to a business trip in Washington, D.C., we stopped in Kentucky where we got a private tour of Claiborne Farms (where racehorses like Secretariat, Ferdinand, and Easy Goer were retired) and the granddaddy of all racetracks, Churchill Downs. Of course, it was late July, so racing season was over, and the Kentucky Derby was a distant memory. But that afforded us the opportunity to get a real behind-the-scenes look at daily operations.

We arrived at 6am, and our guide led us behind those famous twin-spired grandstands and out to the dining hall where we rubbed shoulders with jockeys and trainers while they fueled up after the morning workouts. The menu was short — there may have been only one option, for all I know. But that first bite of hominy goodness was like unwrapping the first gift on Christmas morning. The biggest surprise: they weren't at all gritty. Just buttery, creamy, and the perfect accompaniment to my fried eggs and bacon.

As it turns out, San Francisco grocery stores aren't too familiar with grits, either, because they only seem to carry the quick-cooking kind. According to My Cousin Vinny, "No self-respecting Southerner uses instant grits." But I'm a California kid, and given my lack of experience, this may have been a fortunate turn of events. And in the end, we cleaned our plates! For the recipe, read on.

Poached EggsMay 12, 2011

I often believe that I can take a recipe or technique and make it better. In this case, Alton Brown: you have me beat. His are hands down the best instructions for poached eggs that I have come across, so rather than recreate the wheel, I share it with you in its pure and original form:

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Hawaiian BreakfastApr 16, 2011

When I was a kid, we would go to Hawaii just about every summer because for us fogged-in San Franciscans, it was our opportunity to get consistent (warm) sunshine for more than one day. Most of the time, we stayed in condos because they were more economical, and I looked forward to breakfast because it meant one thing: Apple Jacks. Or Corn Pops. Or Cocoa Puffs, for that matter. I was never allowed sugary cereal at home, and vacations (or trips to Grandma and Grandpa's house) were the only chance I had to infuse my diet with more sugar than you'd find in the nearby cane fields. These days, the only time I eat that stuff is for dessert (and I do admit picking up a box at the grocery store from time to time just for that purpose), but I still have fond memories of the excitement I experienced waking up that first morning in Hawaii thanks to the Capt'n Crunch awaiting me in the kitchen.

It probably wasn't until I was about 10 that I discovered the other Hawaiian breakfast. You know, the kind that real Hawaiians invented and eat. Really, Hawaiian breakfast foods are quite diverse because of the richness of cultures that infuse the islands. In some households, kimchi may be a constant condiment. In others, a piece of raw or cooked fish is a fixture. Other folks can't do without some Portuguese sausage. In my heart, Hawaiian breakfast will always mean rice, fried eggs, and Spam.

My family has never had an aversion to Spam. Sure, we buy the low sodium variety (which is still off-the-charts high in salt...that's why it's so GOOD!!). But I guess having parents who are from the generation born around World War II means that we have never been afraid to eat mystery meat out of a can. I remember eating Spam, rice, and vegetables for dinner which usually meant finding Spam and mustard sandwiches packed in my lunch bag the next day. These days, we eat Spam in our kimchi jjigae or kimchi bokkeumbap (thank goodness I found a partner who shares my love for this delicacy). But the simplicity of a few slices of Spam alongside a scoop of rice and a couple of runny-yolk eggs is heavenly. I'm not providing a recipe, for as long as you can cook rice and open a pull-top can, you can have a hearty breakfast like this one in 10 minutes.

Kimchi Bokkeumbap (Fried Rice)Jan 28, 2011

Here's an oldie but goodie...I was reminded of it this week as I was eating the leftovers from my weekend batch. Kimchi fried rice is great when you have lots of leftover rice and kimchi that is teetering on the brink of over-ripeness, and it's fine with any meat you have in the fridge -- chicken, pork, beef -- but it's stellar with Spam. Yes, Spam. I buy it in bulk at Costco. It makes for an easy Hawaiian breakfast with eggs and rice, and generally substitutes for meat when the fresh variety isn't easily accessible. My dad grew up eating meat out of a can -- granted, he was born at the outset of World War II when rationing was mandated -- and he will agree that sometimes you can't beat an evenly-formed loaf of salty pork parts.

Kimchi bokkeumbap is also fantastic hangover food, not that I've actually put it to the test in recent years given my teetotaling ways. But as it's the perfect blend of eggy, spicy, starchy, salty, and a little greasy, it reminds me of those Sunday mornings back in the late nineties when I'd get myself back on track with a Denny's Grand Slam and a bottle of Tabasco. For the recipe, read on.

Hiroshima-style OkonomiyakiOct 04, 2010

One of the most memorable experiences of our trip to Japan earlier this year was visiting Hiroshima. It happens to be the city from which my mom's family emigrated over 100 years ago, but it obviously has great international historical significance. Peace Plaza was incredibly powerful, and the bleakness of the events that occurred here 65 years ago seemed accentuated by the cold, rainy weather. Whether it was the emotion or the walking, we worked up quite an appetite and soon went in search of Hiroshima's famous okonomiyaki.

We found it in a place called Okonomimura -- literally, "okonomi town." A 4-story building, each floor houses several stalls specializing in a different type of Japanese "pizza" (for lack of a better comparison). The difference between Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki and, say, the varieties found in Osaka, is the fact that each ingredient is layered on top of the next. Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki also frequently uses noodles -- typically yakisoba or udon -- as one layer in the pie. The stall we eventually chose offered toppings, from Hiroshima's famous oysters to kimchi, but you can also just eat it on its own, which I find equally delicious. For the recipe, read on.

Spaghettini with Pancetta, Parmesan, and EggAug 18, 2010

In the world of pasta, there are wonderful, long-simmered, meaty or tomato-y sauces and creamy, silky roux-based sauces. But sometimes I just want a quick, comforting bowl of pasta without the work. And my fail-proof recipes always seem to involve cheese, butter, eggs, and cured meat. With that combination, how can you possibly go wrong?

Read on for the recipe.

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