Sambal Shrimp

Hi, lovely peeps! How's everyone's weeks so far? Are you feeling ok? Are you dishearten by what's going on in America and straight up embarrassed/disgusted by who "runs" this country? Yeah, me too. I'm not really great at writing about politics. Talk to me in person, you're invited into our living room, we'll provide beer and snacks. I just wish I could give everyone who feels hurt, angry, and afraid right now a big hug and a personally decorated cupcake. If I had enough time and butter, I'd do it. My hope is that we all continue to be hopeful, kind, compassionate, engaged, and aware. Just ignoring what is going on is not okay anymore. If you're interested in reading some great and humorous political commentary check out my good friend Claire's blog. I literally LOL every time I read it.

Whenever I feel a little down about the state of the world, I try to focus on what is good and bright around me at the moment. Normally that includes being thankful for my safe and cozy apartment, Reuby, and Cho Family. As a birthday present to myself, I bought a plane ticket to Cleveland next month. Going home to see your family does so much good for your spirit! I haven't been home during the Fall for like over 3 years!!! That's far too long. So I literally can't wait to go home next month. I've been fantasizing about apple picking, making apple galettes, strictly drinking only apple cider, dim sum, quality time with my blanket, and sushi feasts with my family. Gah. Cannot. Wait. Has it been 6 weeks yet?

The weather in San Francisco has been pretty chilly and dreary lately, which has been making my craving for real Fall that much more amplified. I hope it clears up soon though, because Reuben's Mom is coming this week! We've been cleaning our apartment like crazy. Gotta make sure we look like responsible adults here. I really love having visitors stay with us! It gives us a reason to not be hermits (we're not really hermits) and make welcome treats! If you're going to travel X amount of hours to come hang out with us, you most definitely deserve a homemade treat to welcome you to San Francisco. I'm practicing for the day I run a bed and breakfast where I make dim sum and cakes for all the guests. Will you come? For now, our art studio/office functions as our guest room. It's honestly really nice! I've definitely rented smaller and crappier rooms as a traveling intern. Come visit us! I've invited you into our home at least twice now... don't be rude.

Okay, there's not a great segue into this week's recipe... if you're in need of an incredibly quick and easy recipe to make for dinner because you've scheduled hugging and baking cupcakes for all the hurt, angry, and sad people of America, this Sambal Shrimp is the recipe for you! If you've never had Sambal before, it is simply an asian hot sauce made up of ground red chilies, salt and vinegar. It's pretty spicy if you just eat it by the spoonful like Reuben, but don't worry! The heat really mellows out once you start to cook it and even more so once you mix it up with some fluffy rice. Preparing and cooking the shrimp is stupid quick. If everything goes right, you'll have some tasty shrimp in 10 minutes! But you should definitely cook up some rice and a simple side of veggies because of health and because adults eat balanced meals. Right?

Go on ahead and make this super quick meal and get you some hugs : )


Sambal Shrimp

serves 2

Materials:

3/4 lb shrimp - peeled and cleaned

3 Tbsp sambal oelek + more for garnish

2 garlic gloves - minced

1 tsp grated fresh ginger

2 Tbsp olive oil + 1 Tbsp for cooking

1 Tbsp honey

Salt + Pepper

2 green onion stalks - chopped, whites and green divided

Steps:

1. Mix together sambal, minced garlic, grated ginger, and a pinch of salt and pepper in a small bowl. Set sauce aside. 

2. Combine shrimp with oil, honey, and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper.

3. Heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. When hot, add the whites of the green onions to the pan and cook for 1 minute, until slightly brown and fragrant. Add shrimps and cook on one side for about a minute, flip shrimp and cook for another minute until pinkish and opaque. Add the sambal sauce and stir to combine. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Shrimps cook quick!

4. Serve over a scoop of rice, a side of veggies, and garnish with green onions!

Spiced Vegetable Pilaf with Lemon Yogurt Sauce

It is no secret that I LOVE my neighborhood. Inner Richmond is by far the best neighborhood in San Francisco. I'll debate you if you disagree. I've been planning a whole post, more like love letter to Inner Richmond, which will come out eventually! However, I will admit that there could be some improvements. I wonder if there is a community board or council I could join.

Issue #1 is the poor access to cheese. This neighborhood is predominately Asian and Asian people have a precedent of not liking cheese. That's fine. But would it be soooooo terrible for us to get one (just one!) cheese shop?! For the asian girl that loves cheese?! I just need a place where I can pick up some fresh mozzarella, gouda, a nice parmesan, how about some shredded cheddar?! How is ChoCheeseBoards going to take off without proper access to cheese?!

Issue #2 is that the only Non-Asian grocery store is Smart and Final, which has weird things sometimes and items typically come in bulk. No, I don't need a 5 pound package of ground beef or a gallon tub of cream cheese (that one is debatable). I'm also ignoring that there is a Safeway about a 20 minute walk away... too far. Can we get a Trader Joe's at 9th and Clement, please????!

So when I decided that I was going to make this pilaf dish for a dinner party on Sunday, I found myself in a pickle. Where is the basmati rice?! I was sure that they would sell it at our go-to asian store... nope. I almost bought this bag described as "extra fancy white long grain rice". What does that even mean??? Extra Fancy? What is just plain fancy rice? I recruited Reuben to help me on Mission Basmati. We needed to be in Oakland in 3 hours. We went back to Smart and Final to take another look at their very limited grain aisle. There was a 20lb bag of basmati rice and we decided to just buy it. It's a big bag. I currently don't have a clever storage solution for it so it's just sitting on the floor of our kitchen, saying "I'm going to be here for a while".

We are going to be eating basmati rice for a very long time... eh, it's not the worst thing. It's delicious and technically a lot healthier for you than the jasmine rice that I typically make. I ended up doubling this recipe for the dinner party. 2 cups of rice turns into A LOT of rice here. We were able to make a giant platter of pilaf to safely transport to Oakland and still save some leftovers to have for work lunches. I recently was asked by a friend if I could make more recipes that one could easily make for work lunches. You ask and I will deliver! This pilaf works as a beautiful offering for a potluck or a yummy dish to meal prep on Sunday and enjoy all week. It's easy to throw together, filling, satisfying, and won't leave you battling a serious food coma at your desk.

The colors of the rice, carrots, and cauliflower are just so gorgeous together. If you see some rainbow carrots at your farmer's market, BUY 'EM. The carrots are sweet like candy, tossed with honey, brown sugar, cinnamon, and a little sumac. It acts as a sweet balance to the spicy earthy flavors of the cauliflower, seasoned with turmeric, garam masala, and cumin. I make this yogurt sauce about once a week, it's so good and works as a creamy refreshing binder to hold the whole dish together. Cooking is about balance. Once you hit salty, sweet, spicy, sour, you got yourself a great plate of food!

If you guys have any requests for what you'd like to see more of on EatChoFood, please let me know in the comments!

Happy almost weekend!


Spiced Vegetable Pilaf with Lemon Yogurt Sauce

serves 4-6

Pilaf:

1 C basmati rice

1/3 C orzo

3 C chicken stock

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

2 tsp garlic powder

1 Tbsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

1/4 C chopped parsley + more for garnish

 

Vegetables:

1 bunch of carrots (6-9 medium carrots)

1/4 C honey

1 Tbsp brown sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp sumac

1/2 head of cauliflower

2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp cumin

oilive oil

salt and pepper 

 

Lemon Yogurt Sauce:

1/2 C plain greek yogurt

1 tbsp water

juice of 1/2 lemon

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp sumac

Steps:

1. Start by making your rice pilaf. Add chicken stock, turmeric powder, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper to a pot. Mix to combine and bring to a boil. Add rice and orzo to the stock, lower heat to a simmer. Cover with a lid and allow to simmer for 20 mins. Remove pot from heat and allow to sit covered for another 10 mins. Fluff with a fork, mix in parsley, and set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

3. Peel the carrots and cut into 1/2" thick slices at an angle. Toss carrot slices in a medium bowl with a heavy drizzle of olive oil, honey, brown sugar, cinnamon, sumac, and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper. Arrange carrot slices on half of a foil lined baking sheet.

4. Cut the cauliflower into medium sized pieces, about 1/2" thick floret slices. Toss cauliflower in a medium bowl with a heavy drizzle of olive oil, turmeric, garam masala, cumin, and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper. Arrange cauliflower on the other half of the baking tray.

5. Make sure the vegetables are in a single layer for optimal roasting! Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until tender and slightly crisp.

6. Make the lemon yogurt sauce by mixing greek yogurt, water, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and sumac. Adjust thickness by adding more or less water or yogurt.

7. Assembly the pilaf by adding a big scoop of rice to a plate or bowl, top with spiced vegetables, and then drizzle the lemon yogurt sauce over it. You could also make one big platter of this to share!

Honey Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting + Birthday Picnic Scenes

20170729-DSC_0897.jpg
20170729-DSC_0925.jpg

Heeeeeeyyyy! It's August already?! Where did the summer go?!

I'm finally recovering from eating cheese and cake for a whole week. Aren't birthdays great? I don't know if I could have asked for a better birthday week. Having the Cho Family close by would have been nice! Despite some minor homesickness, year 26 and 30 is starting out pretty great. There was the aforementioned cake and cheese, seeing and hearing from friends around the globe, and guess what?! Reuben finally passed ALL his architecture exams!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I think that deserves another cake right? 😁 I'm so freaking proud of him. He knocked out all 7 tests (without failing a single one) in 1 year. That man is dedicated. I also like to think I played a hand in this by supporting him with study snacks. I think in a few weeks he's going to technically be a real licensed architect in Pennsylvania and get a fancy stamp. Woooo! His craft beer intake has spiked a little... you should see how beautiful our recycling bin is.

How great of a birthday present is having your best friend in town?! Katie flew in from Seattle for our birthday picnic and I wish she stayed forever. It was so great to have her in town to catch up on life, discuss how great groomsmaids/best-humans we are going to be for Jeff next May, figure out what our dog breed look-a-like is (Reuben is a sheep dog), and just run around being silly. She also made an awesome kitchen assistant and guest photographer. Working on these recipes can get pretty lonely, other than the occasional visit from Reuben to steal bites of food or when I royally screw up something and need his advice. She helped me make this INCREDIBLE CAKE (more about it soon) and assemble my first legit cheese board. We lounged on picnic blankets in the fog snacking on fruit, eating multiple small slices of cake, and chatting with all the characters we know in SF. The next day we drove down south to Pescadero Beach to be really Californian. It was so hot and sunny! I'm not used to that. We wandered around the tide pools and looked for agates, of course. I feel like I forget that I live in California until I go to the beach. We also went to go see a giant redwood tree as old as jesus. Miss you Katie!

I'm going to talk about this cheese board for a hot sec. I've always wanted to put together a gorgeous and bountiful cheese board. It turns out that it is actually pretty easy if you have access to some beautiful fruit. My cheese board is pretty fruit heavy, which is how I like it. Color is super important to me, so we were trying to pick out fruit that complimented each other. Color Theory! I also like to have a mix of cheeses, something hard (asiago), something soft and creamy (goat brie), something mild (gouda), and something funky (blue cheese... even though I hate blue cheese). You gotta hit all the notes. I thought that the board turned out pretty beautiful, if I do say so myself 😎 Someone else thought it was pretty beautiful too, because I was asked to make a cheese board for another birthday party! My very first comissioned cheese board! I'm thinking of making #chocheeseboard a thing. If you're in the Bay Area and need fancy cheese and crackers for an event, hit me up!

Alright, cake. A few weeks ago when I posted the Black Sesame Plum Crumb Cake, I said that this may have been the best thing I have ever baked. That cake is pretty damn good, but this cake is amazing. I blame it on the cream cheese frosting. Idk if I could trust anyone who doesn't love cream cheese frosting. We may or may not have continued licking the bowl post assembly... This recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen's Best Birthday Cake recipe. I love her recipe and pretty much always gravitates towards it when I need a great yellow cake. I reduced the sugar by half and made an addition of honey for flavor. You could easily make this into a layer cake or even cupcakes, but I think I have fallen in love with sheet cakes. They are so easy! Less mess, no crumb coats, feed a ton of people, and still look equally as pretty! Actually, I've always loved sheet cakes. My parents would always get us a big sheet cake from Giant Eagle for our birthdays growing up and they were the BEST. Northern Ohioans and Western Pennsylvanians will agree with me. 

So many people loved this cake at the picnic. If you have a birthday coming up or a celebration in need of cake, I highly recommend you make this. Everyone is going to love you and you're going to be so happy! I'm actually making this cake again today for a dinner party per a special request!

Happy Sunday!


Honey Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

makes 1 - 9"x13" sheet cake

Cake:

4 C cake flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2 sticks (16 tbsp) unsalted butter, softened

1 C white sugar

1/2 C honey

2 tsp vanilla

4 eggs

2 C buttermilk 

1/4 C crushed pistachios 

 

Cream Cheese Frosting:

6 tbsp butter, softened

12 oz cream cheese, softened

2.5 C powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla

pinch of salt 

Steps:

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 9" x 13" sheet pan with non-stick spray and line with parchment paper. Set aside.

2. Whisk together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.

3. In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat together butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes. Add in vanilla and honey, mix for a few more seconds. Add your eggs one at a time, beat until incorporated each time. Reduce the speed to low and add in the buttermilk. The batter will look curdled and real gross, but don't freak out! Everything is going to be okay. Gradually add your flour mixture in batches. Mix until evenly incorporated. Scrape down the sides as needed.

4. Pour the batter into your prepared cake pan and spread evenly with an offset spatula. To get rid of any air bubbles, drop the pan about 2" above the counter a few times.

5. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until golden brown and the center comes out clean when poked with a tooth pick.

6. Once done, allow to cook in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove cake from the pan and allow to completely cool on a wire rack.

7. While the cake bakes or while it cools, make your cream cheese frosting. Beat together butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy, about 30-45 seconds. Gradually add powdered sugar and beat for another 1-2 minutes. Add vanilla and a pinch of salt and mix for another minute. The frosting will be a little loose, so place in fridge for 30 minutes to allow frosting to set up.

8. Frost cake with a thick layer of frosting and top with crushed pistachios. Or sprinkles! Or whatever your heart desires!