In my ever-continuing quest to mimic Cafe Mami's pork cutlet curry in the comfort of my own home, I had the idea to make mock pork cutlet by taking pork tenderloin and baking it in Shake n' Bake to get a crunchy coating. I also had some Vermont House brand Japanese curry roux cubes, so my boyfriend and I whipped up this dish for dinner. We only had onions in the curry sauce, but we kept it separate from the meat unlike last time when I made it. The taste was actually quite good, though we could have used more sauce and less onions. The only thing was that the flavor of the Shake n' Bake crumb coat on the pork competed with the curry flavor (unlike the milder flavor of simple fried pork cutlet), and the tenderloin was very lean, which was a bit different in texture from the restaurant cutlet (read: fatty). But hey I'm getting closer to the real thing, and this is probably about as healthy as the dish is going to get heh.
My boyfriend made this yummy dinner for us on a night when I was busy experimenting with another baked good that I'll post momentarily :P He used fresh ground lean pork for the meat, and added onions, garlic, home-grown tomatoes from his aunt's backyard, milk, and some jarred pasta sauce for this tasty bolognese sauce. Only he knows the entire recipe, but I know that you first saute the onions, then you add the ground meat and cook until just starting to brown. Then you add the tomatoes (we substituted the fresh tomatoes for the canned crushed tomatoes in the recipe), milk, and water and let it stew for a while to break down the tomatoes. Finally he added some jarred pasta sauce to give the flavor a boost, and the final product was definitely legit. It went perfectly with spaghetti, and I imagine it would have been quite good with a side of homemade garlic bread as well.
When we have no vegetables to cook with our dinner, our ideas begin to get pretty crazy. Luckily my boyfriend found time to stop by the convenience store and buy a box of Annie's deluxe shells n' cheese, as well as a bag of frozen sweet peas. With the starch and vegetable on hand, we set out to figure out the rest of the dinner. We had a lot of frozen boneless skinless chicken thighs, so we thawed out a bunch and went about experimenting with them. I made Thai peanut chicken, and my boyfriend made some sort of garlic salt rubbed chicken. I butterflied the chicken thighs so that I could pan sear them without overcooking them (we don't have an oven-safe skillet, so baking or broiling them is out of the question). Then I marinated in a mixture of salt, sugar, Kikkoman's roasted garlic teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, garlic powder, white pepper, cornstarch, and olive oil, for about 15 minutes or so. Meanwhile I whipped up some peanut sauce by whisking together smooth peanut butter, water, soy sauce, and teriyaki sauce. When the thighs were ready to cook, I sauteed them in a medium hot pan until both sides were nicely browned. Then I poured the peanut sauce on top to finish, cooking for only a minute or two just to heat through the sauce and coat the chicken nicely. And that was dinner! Plated with the mac n' cheese, peas, and some garlic parmesan roasted potatoes, it was a delicious dinner (though with too many peas for my taste). I especially liked how moist and tender the chicken was, and the sauce gave it a lot of flavor. It's not quite the same taste as the Thai peanut chicken lunchbox I like to get at the Asian food truck at my school, because I couldn't figure out how to mimic their peanut sauce, but I still enjoyed it and it was great for lunch the next day :)
This was a meal made using the help of a small George Foreman grill! Okay, admittedly I am not very adept at using it, and I was always afraid I'd set off the fire alarm from producing too much smoke. I marinated chicken thighs in a mixture of Grey Poupon (my favorite) dijon mustard, honey, garlic powder, and onion powder. Then I threw them on the Foreman grill with some cooking spray, and closed the lid. But the sugar content in the honey mustard marinade began to burn very quickly, as I hadn't thought of the fact that the recipe was designed for real grills where charring is okay, whereas I definitely didn't want smoke and charring in my room. So I shifted the grill into the hallway next to a window to finish grilling the chicken, and it took a while b/c the thighs were thick. So by the time I was done, the outside of the chicken was blackened, you can see it in the picture above. The flavor was really good, as you could taste the honey mustard sauce and since I grilled the chicken until it was just done, the meat was still very juicy. My boyfriend went about cooking up some Chinese eggplant with garlic, and we made some chicken flavored Rice-a-Roni on the side. The whole meal came together nicely, I just wish cooking the chicken hadn't been such a hassle lol.
Now, for some eating out experiences…
My parents took me out to a new dim sum place the other day, called Jin. I've gone there before for their 24/7 Chinese buffet whose selection (and price tag) is the largest of any Asian buffets in all of North America. They have Peking duck, lobster, sushi, prime rib, and all sorts of other foods and desserts that you could possibly want. Anyway, I digress. They have started offering a new venue which is Saturday morning dim sum. Every single dish regardless of size or ingredients are $1.99. In comparison to all the other dim sum places in Chinatown, this price is phenomenal. Dim sum is usually offered at about $2 per small dish, $3 per medium dish, and $4-5 per large dish. So it's a huge savings, with the downside being the location (Jin is like a 20 minute drive from Chinatown), and the somewhat limited variety. In the picture above, clockwise from the top dish, we have pork ribs in with black bean, steamed beef tripe, fish balls with ground pork filling, and stewed chicken feet, which is also often called Phoenix claws in Chinese. I despise tripe, but the other three dishes were yummy. Chicken feet and pork ribs are two of my dim sum favorites!
Here we have roast pork buns at the top, flanked with dishes of shrimp-filled and ground beef-filled chang fun (which are steamed rice noodle rolls), in a soy ginger sauce. I love the shrimp chang fun, because they are tender and mild, and when they are made fresh the rice noodle wrap slides down your throat without feeling sticky. It's a real pleasure to eat.
These are called dragon puffs (or something like that, I can't remember anymore), but they are a ball of ground shrimp with a fried outer coating of shredded wonton wrapper. It's a delicately crispy (albeit messy) puff and the flavor of the shrimp inside is enough to ensure that the puff isn't too bland. I just though they were quite pretty, but I'm not too big on the fried coating.
This past weekend I went with my lab and the other labs in my research institute for a scientific retreat in New Hampshire. It was cold and rained quite a bit, but I had a lot of fun getting to know my lab members better, listening to presentations of the research being done, doing fun activities like mountain biking, and of course taking advantage of the free food :)
Our first meal was dinner on Friday night (after a cocktail hour with calamari and chicken peanut satay skewers), and I got the filet mignon entree which came with garlic mashed potatoes and steamed baby carrots. The filet was delicious, it was tender without being overly mushy, and the mashed potatoes were creamy. My only complaint was that the filet mignon needed more of the sauce, as it clearly was not cooked with any sauce of its own. In fact, judging by its pale color I think that it was boiled prior to being quickly seared for grill marks. I have never seen such pale steak before. The mushroom based gravy went well with it but just wasn't enough for all the meat. I never actually finished the filet mignon (*gasp*) because I had gotten too full on food from the cocktail hour and the clam chowder and salad that came prior to the entree. So I actually only ate 3/4 of the filet. Oh well, at least it didn't cost me any money :P
Dessert was a fudgey molten chocolate cake (that I really wish I had more room for). It was different from the molten chocolate cake from places like Finale, because the outer cake layer was very fudgey as opposed to cakey. The center was of course still melted chocolate. It was warm and sweet, pairing quite well with the tartness of the raspberry sauce. Just thinking about it now is making me a little weak in the knees haha. Seriously, if there was any simple comfort dessert that could always hit the spot, it would be something like this. Mmmmm….
Um yes this should be self-explanatory. Don't make me go back in the detail about how sinfully good the desserts were :P I tried to control myself and only ate about half of each baby cheesecake. Yay.
And of course, the highlight of the weekend was all-you-can-eat steamed lobster! It was funny watching everyone else trying to eat lobster like an amateur, they don't even eat the meat from the head! They only know to eat the tail and the claws. What a waste of great lobster meat. It was funny, because we had the dinner in an outdoor tent area, and it was so chilly at night that my drawn butter re-solidified before I even tried to use it for dipping. Haha kind of defeats the purpose, but maybe that was for the best. I had 2 lobsters before I started to feel kind of sick of the texture and flavor, and finished off with a few slices of refreshing watermelon. What a luxury!