Middle-eastern Cuisine

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Wow. I’m in tears. Really. My (tiny Asian) eyes are glistening with grateful emotion. Thank you so much for your amazing, kind, encouraging comments to my last post. They mean so much to me, and have strengthened my resolve to overcome this sickening disease and pursue my dream. Being able to go back to college means so much to me, because I love learning new things and studying. I’m an uber-nerd that way. Heh. But seriously, I just want to forward all your comments to the admission-decision committee of USC and say, “Come on, now. How can you not accept me? Are you really gonna disappoint all these incredible girls out there?” Bet that will work! Hahahahahaha!

A-hem. Anyway, I’m still joyfully chomping my way through recovery. Delicious eats, and a fear food faced and conquered! Are you ready? Here we go…

Lunch yesterday was another variation of my soufflé-omelet…

Can you guess what’s inside this fluffy blanket?

I was meaning to try a sweet version of this, but suddenly I had a real craving for something cheesy, so I went all cheesy-crazy. I whipped up my soufflé-omelet just like before, but for the filling I used roasted butternut squash and four kinds of cheeses: bleu cheese, Parmesan cheese, cheddar cheese, and cucumber-garlic cream cheese to make a Four-cheese-butternut squash


Oh, heaven. How can you ever go wrong with cheese?

I did not measure, but I used about 2 tablespoonfuls of Parmesan, a fistful of cheddar, a tablespoon of bleu, and 3 tablespoonfuls of cream cheese.

I was afraid the flavor of the cheeses would all mesh together into one incoherent, unidentifiable mess, but I could actually detect each distinctive taste and texture…

There’s the tangy creaminess of the cream cheese…

And the stringy, sharpness of the cheddar…

Every bite was amazing. The roasted butternut squash gave a nice smoky, mellow sweetness to the omelet that was perfect with the blend of cheeses.

I had church youth group that night, so I had to pack up my dinner. Along with my usual 12 mini chicken hotdogs, I tried out a new sandwich combo. Do you remember my Poop-in-poop-out? This is how it looks like:

You can click here for the recipe, but it’s basically a chocolaty blend of black beans, pumpkin, and cocoa. I paired this poopy (but so delicious)puree with sliced green apples on two slices of whole wheat bread:

And of course sandwiches tastes best toasted like this:

Check out the filling! It was torture restraining myself from gobbling this up right there and then!

’Twas a poopilicious dinner ^______^. Youth group ended late till midnight, and I was just too pooped out to blog…

Well, that brings us to today, Saturday! Those who have followed my blog continuously should know that the couple who are hosting me and I have lunch out together every Saturday. Today we went to a place nearby called Istanbul Gourmet. As the name indicates, it’s a Middle-eastern restaurant. Can you believe I’ve never really tried Middle-eastern food before? Unfortunately, we chose the wrong place for my first taste of Middle-eastern cuisine. Istanbul Gourmet was definitely…not gourmet. It was small and the prices were too cheap to be able to serve great food.

I ordered the Chicken Kebabs and Yellow Rice on Bean Salad:

The chicken…tasted like fried chicken. I’ve never tried chicken kebabs before, but I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to have chunks of crispy bits in kebabs. They came shredded over a bed of bean salad with some kind of sweet chili sauce drizzled all over.

The yellow rice…

Meh. I hate rice, but had decided to challenge myself with this dish. Besides, I thought it wouldn’t be so bad as it is yellow and had other mix-ins like herbs, turmeric,raisins and chickpeas. But it was so bland! Looks are deceiving. But at least I faced my fear food and I still forced myself to choke them down.

My friend ordered the Istanbul laksa:

Yeah, this is so totally not Middle-eastern at all. Laksa is a Singaporean noodle dish based of a coconut-curry soup. The only thing “Middle-eastern” about this was the chicken kebabs they used in the soup. I thought it was just sub-standard. Not a huge fan of coconut-based laksa.

She also ordered the Beef Bomb, which was marinated beef stuffed with hard-boiled egg on salad and a side of potatoes:

Again, I can’t see anything authentically Middle-eastern about this dish. The beef was pretty tough and stringy.

Damn, my first experience with Middle-eastern cuisine, and we had to pick a lousy unauthentic place. It’s like going to Taco Bell to try my first “Mexican” fare. Or calling sweet-and-sour chicken and fortune cookies “Chinese” cuisine.

But that’s okay, because we had a lovely time together, and that’s what matters. But still, I hope to give Middle-eastern cuisine another chance once I return to the States. What do you guys recommend? (Except hummus…Please don’t kill me, but I really don’t see what’s so great about hummus)

Bad Middle-eastern food aside, I got some baking done for my friend who’s birthday is on March 22nd~! I made sure to take pictures of it…Yup, these pictures are especially for you! Consider this my first baking challenge to you! Check this out:

My Chocolate-Pumpkin Swirl Brownie Cheesecake!!!!

Take a hunk of that! (The knife is for dramatic effect) Can you beat that chunk of drool-worthy baby? Put on those baking mittens, girl, because the baking throw-down is ON!

As the Iron Chef chairman says, ”ALLEZ CUISINE!!!!” *Takes a chomp on a bell pepper muffin and grins lecherously challengingly*

Um, just to make sure. That’s not me.

Right. Before I scurry away, here’s a mini-mini-mini Q&A section in response to the last post’s question of the day! LOL, are you guys shy to ask questions? But anyway, hear are the questions that were asked by these lovely fellow bloggers [with a bit of my add-ins in these brackets 😉 ]:

Do you have recipe for that [freaking amazing oh-my-god you’re such an amazing baker] brownie?

My answer:

Those brownies were actually just leftover batter from my chocolate-pumpkin swirl cheesecake brownies (see above for the fabbity fab fab pic), which I plopped into a muffin tin to bake. I sort of “made-up” this concoction by mixing-and-matching several recipes, but here’s the basic recipe for the brownie bottom:

6 oz unsweetened chocolate
½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs plus 5 large egg yolks
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla
1 cup chopped almonds

To make the brownies:

1. In the top of a double boiler over simmering, not boiling water, melt the chocolate and the butter, stirring to combine. Set aside to cool to warm.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla until smooth.

4. Pour the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and combine with a whisk. Add the flour mixture and almonds to the chocolate/egg mixture and stir until just combined. Pour the brownie batter into muffin tins. You can pour all the way, because you don’t need to worry about the batter rising too much.

5. Bake for about 40 minutes in a 325 degrees. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

I adapted this recipe from here, and used a lot more egg yolks so that the batter will be a bit drier and more like a cookie so it’ll keep it’s shape better. If you want my added recipe for the chocolate-pumpkin swirl cheesecake topping, just ask.

Hey the sushi looks yum just out of curiosity, I noticed you use pearled barley on most of your stuff in place of rice. I have never tired it before and intend to ask what is the reasoning behind it, if you don’t mind me asking, just so curious…

My answer:

Of course I don’t mind you asking! Ask away!

I have mentioned this a few times, and will probably mention it over again many more times, but I absolutely hate, detest, abhor, loathe rice! I’m so not Asian in that way. But I like pearled barley. I actually only just discovered this, and have fallen in love with its plump, chewy texture. Plus, it has way more nutrients, fiber, and protein than plain ol’ rice. I hope you give this grain a chance, it’s awesome! And if you come across any great barley recipe, share the wealth!

Where have you always wanted to travel to?

My answer:

Wow. Where to start? First of all, traveling is my dream and I really hope to be able to touch all corners of the Earth before I’m dead. That said, one of the top things on my to-do list of “Things I wanna do before I DIE” is to backpack all across Europe. I also want to go to China, but just to immerse myself in the language and culture there and perfect my Chinese. Anybody wanna join me?

[You crazy girl!] How can you not like avocados?

My answer:

I know this sounds like blasphemy to a lot of you guacamole and avocado-lovers out there, but there’s just something about avocadoes that turn me off. Probably their creamy, mushy consistency. I like food with texture, food that I can chew and bite. I don’t really like mushy stuff, which is another reason why I also do did not like tofu. But! I am willing to give avocadoes another try…Suggestions on recipes with avocadoes, anyone?

When are you coming to the UK to teach me to cook? Kidding. Seriously though- do you like traveling? if you could go live anywhere, where would it be?

My answer:

Hey girl, if you could fork up at least half the amount for the plane fare, I will hop onto the nearest plane and live in your kitchen! Haha! But yes, as I mentioned above, I love traveling. But if I could live anywhere, I’d have to say southern California. I’m a girl who loves the sunshine and freezes her skinny ass off in the slightest chill, so the sunshine state it is for me! And I heard that west coast people are more laid-back than the crazy ambitious east coast peeps, so that’s good for me because I need to learn to relax. It’s one of the reason I applied to USC (that and it has a pretty good journalism program).

Hee hee! I like this Q&A thingy! I’ll probably give this another try some time, but hopefully more of you will ask questions the next time! But I’m sure you’ve had enough of me for one day, so here’s today’s question for you: What is the least authentic ethnic food you’ve ever tried? For me, I’ll have to say every single item on a Chinese take-out menu in America. I seriously can’t stand the “Chinese” food they serve…way too greasy and sweet!

Oh, by the way, I found this random quote that really tickled me:

“I never worry about diets. The only carrots that interest me are the number you get in a diamond. “~ Mae West

Tee hee! Wise words, eh? I certainly should learn a little from this smart, insightful woman!

Okay, I’m off now. Have an awesome weekend, everyone, and please indulge me by answering my question!