Fish Sauce for Days

photo 2When I’m craving Asian food, which is always, it’s often Vietnamese food that I desire the most. Unlike a lot of other cuisines from the region, Vietnamese emphasizes fresh vegetables, aromatic herbs, and lightly cooked meat and fish. Of course, there are the decadent clay pot caramelized dishes, but even those seem delicately flavored, to say nothing of that all around restorative brew (my #1 hangover choice)–pho.

I had long been eyeing this recipe for lemongrass pork patties, and decided to transition my love of Vietnamese cuisine into the kitchen. I paired the patties with a glass noodle salad (with soy-roastedĀ tofu instead of the shrimp listed in the recipe), and used a significant amount of fish sauce in the process-yum.

photo 4photo 5Because it’s summer and I hadn’t made a cobbler yet, my go-to super easy cobbler recipe seemed like a perfect use for fresh peaches and 1

Dinner of Champions

I fear I’m getting old–preferring a Saturday of day-long feast cooking (with a few Bloody Marys thrown in for good measure) to a big night out. My friend Kara, a highly skilled cook, and I began preparations at 1pm…and sat down to dinner at 7:30. Although I spend much of my time writing, reading, and thinking about food (and eating, of course!), days entirely spent on cooking are decidedly not frequent enough.*

Sodomized entrees*Our initial thoughts were “Mediterranean” “Pork” and “Eggplant”, a somewhat scattered list vaguely reminiscent of a cooking game show. I knew I wanted to make Tzatziki (garlicky-cucumber yogurt sauce) and Kara was hankering for a labor-intensive meat project. First we stopped off at Mario’s butcher, an old school Italian butcher next door, and watched the proprietor (Mario?) skilfully slice up meat while complaining of the degree to which the neighborhood had changed since he opened his shop in 1964. After some more grocery shopping (and a short walk to my house for some extra ingredients) we got to work!


Tzatziki: (3 Small Israeli Cucumbers + 1 Large 7.5 oz Container Fage Full-Fat Yogurt + 2-3 cloves finely chopped garlic + Garlic Salt + Pepper + Olive Oil + a dash of red wine vinegar + chopped mint)

Peelin’: DSC_0001 Scraping out the seeds:DSC_0005Draining the chopped cukes (highly recommended!):DSC_0010 Post yogurt pre-herbs:DSC_0026Roasted baby eggplant with sliced halloumi cheese (sliced eggplant briefly marinated in olive oil + thyme + garlic + salt + pepper, roasted at 350 in oven) halloumi cheese (came pre-sliced from Trader Joes, just simply rinsed it off and stuck it on a hot pan!) DSC_0059DSC_0064Garlic-and-thyme-crusted Pork Loin (expertly twined by Kara + then crusted with herbs and garlic + then roasted)–As you can see from the numerous photos of the pork, I as pretty entranced…Cooking large chunks of meat tends to scare me (shh don’t tell)
Removing Fatty Layer like a Pro:DSC_0018Twining it Up: DSC_0035DSC_0038Seasoned:DSC_0047

Finished Product:DSC_0062Couscous with shallots, feta and herbs (Cooked almost entirely in a rice cooker….Apologies for the lack of photos here)

Tomato Tarte Tatin (10 tomatoes, butter, sugar, balsamic, puff pastry).(recipe courtesy of Soa Davies from Short Stack Editions Caramelize butter and sugar, add balsamic and place peeled tomatoes cut side up (more on this to come), cook, then cover with puff pastry and bake!
X Marks the Spot for boiling, blanching and peeling the tomatoes:

Post-Blanch Ice Bath: DSC_0030Peeling Assembly Line:DSC_0034Making the Caramel:
Tomatoes Cut Side Up:


Puff Pastry Shroud:DSC_0055She wasn’t pretty, but she was tasty:DSC_0058Not a photo-contest winner, but you get the idea:DSC_0067*Top Image from Salvador Dali’s Cookbook courtesy of