Monday, June 7, 2010

My first meal from a cookbook!

About a year ago, I purchased my first cookbook: Kitchen: The Best of the Best by Michele Cranston.  I fell in love with this book because it covers all things food, A-Z.  I also like this book because it divides foods and recipes into seasons, as well as meals so you can find that perfect stew for the winter and refreshing gazpacho in the summer in a matter of seconds without even using the index.  Another thing that I like about this book is that it makes "scary" culinary things such as baking and highly technical cooking less intimidating.  I encourage all home cooks to purchase this book!

Although I fawned over this book in the store and purchased it, it has collected dust for almost a year. I blame part of this on my disdain for following recipes, I blame the other part on a full-time graduate load. Given my new found blog and excess free time, I've decided to pull it out and start cooking from it!  Last night, I decided to try out the Spiced Pork recipe.

 For those who don't own the book, the ingredient list and recipe is as follows:

2 tablespoons soy sauce and mirin
1 tablespoon sesame oil, freshly grated ginger, and brown sugar
2 cloves of chopped garlic
1 teaspoon of Chinese five-spice
4 star anise
2 small pork fillets

Mix all of the above ingredients to make the marinade, make sure everything has dissolved.  Once your marinade is done add the chops and let it marinate in a ziploc bag for at least an hour in the fridge.  For cooking, all you do is sear the pork in a pan on both sides (add a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking), transfer the meat to a baking dish, and put it in the oven at 350 for 10 minutes, or until thoroughly cooked.  While the chops cook in the oven, pour the marinade into the same pan you used to sear the chops and bring it to a boil for 3 minutes.  After the boil, turn it down and let it simmer.  Here was my final product:

As usual, I did have a few modifications to the recipe, they are as follows:
  • I doubled the recipe for each ingredient since I made 4 chops
  • Instead of five spice I used all spice and I omitted the star anise altogether because I couldn't find these items at the store
For sides, we had steamed white rice and a bok choy and broccoli mix.  I'll cover the veggies first.  I cooked the marinade as instructed in the recipe but instead of using it as a sauce for the meat, I tossed the cooked vegetables in it.  I used one chopped baby bok choy and about a cup of broccoli which made two servings.

The rice is pretty straight forward, but here is an important tip and trick that I learned from my non-foodie boyfriend, with respect to rice as he is a Puerto Rican that was primarily raised in Hawaii...which means the man knows his rice.  You must wash your rice! Yes, wash your rice because it will be fluffier and taste better.  Take a bowl of cool water, measure the rice in it, stir it around with your hands.  The water will turn a funky grey color, this is dirt and debris that you would have eaten. Gross.  Repeat this process until the water is clear, then cook as normal.  Also, one thing that I like to do when making Asian themed food, is drizzle a bit of sesame oil on the rice when its done cooking, then I fluff.  This adds a bit of complexity to plain old rice.

I enjoyed the pork, it was juicy and tender and had a great flavor.  For me the most pronounced flavors were the garlic and the all spice, so if you follow the original recipe it seems the Chinese five spice will shine.   As far as using the sauce on veggies instead of meat, I think that depends on your palate.  I was not a big fan of this because the spices added a weird texture to the veggies.  My boyfriend, the veggie hater, however loved the sauce on the veggies.  I think this may have been the first time that my plate still had vegetables, and his was clean. 

All in all, this was a simple and quick recipe which motivates and encourages me to keep cooking from this book!


  1. Mmmmm... that looks delicious... makes me wish I could find all the ingredients! How do you gets your pictures to look like they are professionally styled?

  2. Joanna that means so much to me, especially since foodgawker and tastespotting decline ALL of my images, at least so far :) To answer your question: According to my boyfriend, by making him starve since all meals get a photoshoot! But jokes aside, he also says that I have a good eye. He has way more photography knowledge than me so he is helping me tune my eye and maximize the use of my camera, a dSLR. I shoot with a Nikon D-60 using a Nikon DX 18-55m lens. But I also occassionally use my point and shoot. Also, I try to shoot with natural light, but I live in an apartment so that means early mornings with every window open PLUS lamps shining on the food. When I shoot for dinner I'm dependent only on the light in the apartment since its night time. I NEVER EVER use flash, it is evil, instead I play with the camera settings or use my light box. Finally, I don't shoot food from the top because it doesn't look good that way, always from the front or at an angle. I've got more pointers, let me know if you'd like more info, we can talk via email :) xoxo Kashia

  3. You definitely have a gift for food styling and photography! When I get a camera, I am going to attempt to take some photos of my food for my blog, but honestly, while my food TASTES delicious, it is not really all that good looking! LOL. BTW, I am going to the store today and picking up Sazon for your 3 ingredient chicken.... was wondering what adobo blend you use??

  4. I use the Adobo blend without pepper :) Hope you like it, let me know how it goes!


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