As you may be able to tell from the fact that I happily ate curry udon on both of my two trips to Japan, I love curry udon.
It’s been half a year since our last trip (not that you would know it from the fact that I still haven’t finished posting about this year’s trip…), and of course I’m craving all the things that we ate there. Onigiri, ramen, takoyaki… and curry udon.
Shirley from Lovely Lanvin posted a recipe for curry udon on the day we got back from our trip to Japan. I think the woman’s psychic. I’ve been wanting to make it ever since then, so when we had an especially cold December and I wanted comfort food, I finally decided to make her recipe.
I made a couple of small changes, just based on what I happened to have in my kitchen at the time. No mushrooms (didn’t have time to run to the Japanese supermarket to buy them) and I used the vegetarian dashi from the Tsukimi udon recipe that we recently talked about and posted on my Miso Hungry Podcast.
The end result? Honest to goodness, this was the most delicious thing that has come out of my kitchen in a very long time. (And I’ve made some pretty delicious things, like the apple cheddar latkes and especially the scalloped potato gratin with three types of potatoes – and bacon!, so that’s saying something!)
This will definitely be happening again in my kitchen on a regular basis, and I highly recommend you try it out too!
Head over to Lovely Lanvin for the curry udon recipe!
Apple Cheddar Latkes
Before this year, I had never had a latke.
I mean, it’s not as if I’d be expected to have eaten latkes before, since I’m not Jewish. (Obviously, all my Jewish friends have been seriously slacking at bringing this sort of deliciousness into my life.)
But still. As someone who loves food, I feel as if it’s one of those things that should be in my life anyways.
Plus, it just plain looks delicious. (I mean, seriously. How can you go wrong with shredded, fried potatoes?)
(Of course, it’s not like I’ve never had potato pancakes before. But I see so many latke recipes all over the place around this time of year, and something just seems special about them.)
So… I’ve been bookmarking latke recipes pretty much forever. But lately I’ve gotten a little better about making particularly delicious-sounding recipes right away when I find them, especially if I just happen to have all the ingredients in my kitchen.
Which, in the case of these apple cheddar latkes from A Cozy Kitchen… I did! Woohoo! Delicious apple cheddar latkes, come to mama.
P.S. I know these aren’t what I, and probably most of you, perceive as the “traditional” latkes, made with potatoes. However, Wikipedia tells me that these are just fine, and everybody knows you can’t put things on the internet that aren’t true. So apple and cheddar it is!
Plus, the leftovers make a fantastic breakfast, especially topped with a poached or soft-boiled egg… mmmm. Dang it, now I’m craving them again.
A delicious combination
Recipe from A Cozy Kitchen.
- 3 large apples (I used 3 large honeycrisps), peeled, cored and grated
- the juice of 1 lemon
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/4 cup extra sharp cheddar, grated
- 1 large egg
- vegetable oil
- In a medium bowl, toss the grated apples with the lemon juice and sprinkle with the salt. Let stand for five minutes.
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder and black pepper in a separate bowl. In another small bowl, lightly beat the egg and set aside.
- Drain the apples and squeeze out any extra juice. Place them back in the bowl and add the flour mixture and cheese; toss until the apples are evenly coated. Add the egg and mix until completely combined.
- Place a skillet over medium-high heat, and pour in vegetable oil until it is half an inch deep. Once the oil is hot, place heaping tablespoons of the apple mixture into the pan a couple of inches apart, slightly flattening each one with the back of a spoon. Cook the latkes on their for about a minute or two until golden brown, then carefully flip them and cook the other side for an additional minute. Drain on paper towels, then place them in a preheated 200°F oven to keep them warm.
- Repeat with the remaining apple mixture. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of black pepper.
Everybody loves getting packages in the mail.
Especially packages of cookies.
And as certain people know, I really like baking and sending packages of cookies to people.
Zesting a lemon
The battle against childhood cancer is also something that’s near and dear to my heart, because my younger brother had leukemia twice, as a child and a teenager. (He’s been in remission for a few years now.)
So when I heard about the 2nd Annual Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, benefiting Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, I signed up instantly.
We were all required to make a small donation to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer (if you’d like to donate, there’s a donate button at the bottom of the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap page), and then they sent us each the addresses to three other bloggers who had signed up, and we were required to send a dozen cookies to each of them.
Juicing a lemon
Another requirement was that we had to send cookies that we had never blogged about. So I spent a good bit of time looking through all the cookie recipes I had bookmarked to make in the future. It was a hard decision, but after setting aside the ones that would be too fragile to ship, the ones that seemed overly complicated, and the ones that just seemed too ordinary, I settled on these lemon crinkles.
I had doubled the batch, knowing that I would eat some, and wanted to give some to my mom (who loves lemon sweets), but good gosh, the moment they came out of the oven I was afraid there wouldn’t be any left to ship! There wasn’t anything wrong with the recipe… no, quite the opposite. One bite led to another, and before I knew it I had eaten ten (yes, seriously, ten!) cookies right off the cooling rack.
I promise you I’m not normally this much of a glutton, but with these cookies, especially fresh out of the oven, you just can’t help yourself. They’re light and soft, so it feels like you’re hardly eating anything, and the lemon flavor is refreshing enough that you just want to keep eating more!
My cookies (and some almond toffee covered in chocolate) went off to Brynn, Melissa, and Bonnibella. Hopefully you all enjoyed the cookies and toffee!
Ready to give away for the holidays!
And if you’re wondering what fantastic, delicious cookies I received…
Kate from Fleur-De-Licious sent me Halloween Candy Cookies…
Bailey from Bailey Bakes sent me Vanilla Crescent Cookies…
and Jessica from A Kitchen Addiction sent me Chocolate Peppermint Crinkles!
Recipe from Lauren Brennan
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/8 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Whip in vanilla, egg, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Scrape sides and mix again. Stir in the salt, baking powder, baking soda, and flour slowly until just combined. Scrape sides of bowl and mix again briefly.
- Pour the powdered sugar onto a large plate. Roll a heaping teaspoon of dough into a ball and roll in the powdered sugar, making sure the entire ball is coated, and shaking off the excess sugar. Place balls on the baking sheet about three inches apart.
- Bake for 9-11 minutes or until the bottoms begin to barely brown and cookies look matte (not melted or shiny). Remove from oven and cool cookies about 3 minutes before transferring to cooling rack. Once cool, store in an airtight container.
I first made phở bò tái three years ago, for a Daring Cooks challenge.
I haven’t made it since then, since Son‘s dad makes it regularly, so we get to have it sometimes when we visit.
Phở meat and bones
However, Son’s dad hasn’t been cooking as much these days, so Son asked me to make him phở for his birthday last month.
Phở broth, before we removed the fat
This time we were able to find fresh phở noodles at a 99 Ranch supermarket that recently opened near us, and were also able to get better quality meat and bones, as well as the proper herbs that Son is used to eating with phở.
Son’s been experimenting with photography and lighting more lately, so he took photos of each component of the phở. (The first photo, of the spices we used in the broth, is our very favorite!)
Though we ended up at a dinner party on Son’s birthday, he did get to enjoy the phở earlier the week of his birthday… and enjoy it, he did!
The finished bowl of Phở
Monday morning: No dinner plans. Figure I’ll scrape something together from whatever happens to be in the
Fridgg fridge. (Oops, totally didn’t realize I had spelled it like that until I published this post!) If all else fails, it’ll be a bowl of cereal for dinner.
Monday afternoon: Still no dinner plans. Spending the day coding for Fridgg, working on a post for Sushi Day and an episode for my Miso Hungry Podcast that were supposed to go up last night, and trying to do some cleaning around this messy, messy apartment of mine.
Monday evening: Nope, no dinner plans. Then Son asks me to roast one of the purple sweet potatoes we bought at Nijiya Market on Sawtelle in West LA last week, because he’s hungry. Meh. While I do love roasted sweet potatoes, for some reason I just wasn’t in the mood for making one tonight. I procrastinate.
Monday, 8pm: On a whim, I decide I’m going to make a gratin! I had been wanting to make one, and just happened to have all the ingredients (plus, purple sweet potatoes!) I find the recipe for regular potato and sweet potato gratin I had bookmarked last month. I start peeling and slicing potatoes. Because, you know, it’s totally normal to start cooking dinner at 8pm.
Monday, 9pm: The recipe I was using seems good, but dull. I wanted something more. I know when my mom makes scalloped potatoes, she uses cheddar cheese and bacon. So I figure, why the heck not? I start cooking some bacon.
Monday, 10:30pm: The gratin is finally in the oven. Now to do dishes while I wait for it to be done, and check it every five minutes to make sure the cheese and bacon on top isn’t at risk of burning.
Monday, 11:30pm: Oooh, the kitchen smells delicious. The gratin is out of the oven, and off to Son’s home office so he can take photos before I cut into it. Here’s hoping it actually tastes as good as it looks and smells!
Monday, midnight: I finally get to cut into the gratin. My main worry was that the sweet potatoes wouldn’t be cooked through, since they start out harder than the potatoes. Plus, does cheddar cheese work with sweet potatoes? I have no idea. Luckily, it turned out I had no reason to worry. This was the best gratin I’ve ever had. Even Son loved it, and he’s usually not a scalloped potatoes kind of guy at all!
Tuesday, 1am: My little brother saw my post on Instagram about the gratin, and came to my apartment to get a plate of it. We’ve already eaten more than half of the gratin. It was that good. I have a feeling the leftovers won’t last past tomorrow.
Recipe inspired by this scalloped potato gratin from A Thought For Food.
- 4 lbs potatoes (I used 1 large white sweet potato, 1 large purple sweet potatoes, and enough red potatoes to make up the difference)
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 pkg bacon
- 8 oz extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 9×13″ rectangular baking dish with butter.
- Dice the bacon into 1/2″ pieces. Cook in a large frying pan until crispy. Drain.
- Wash and peel the potatoes. Slice into 1/8″ slices.
- Thinly slice the garlic cloves.
- Layer about half the potatoes into the bottom of the baking dish, alternating regular potatoes and sweet potatoes, if using them. Pour 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream over it, season with salt and pepper. Evenly sprinkle the sliced garlic, 4 oz extra sharp cheddar cheese, and half the bacon over the potatoes.
- Repeat with the remainder of the ingredients. Bake for 45 minutes.
- Delicious served sprinkled with green onions, paprika, or drizzled with hot sauce (we used Sriracha, but it’s probably delicious with most any type of hot sauce).