on my camera roll #1

Posted on March 1st, 2014 | Leave a comment

Rocky Road in Rain

Giving Thanks

Posted on November 27th, 2013 | Leave a comment

Before we all depart for our family homes and stuff our faces with carbs and butter, I just want to give thanks to my 3-5 readers for the incredible support. Especially the single reader that’s following me on Feedly! (besides myself, of course). I hope you guys will stick around longer than 1.5 months and continue the journey of food and singleness with me.

And to end this entry…

My friend Randy made me a tart this past Monday, and in return, I made him nothing. Except for this GIF

randy_tart_20131126

Wordier than most

Posted on November 26th, 2013 | Leave a comment

Launching this blog has been a strange experience. As focused as I am in terms of target audience (which varies from 1-3 readers per post), I’m struggling between ideas regarding content and cooking approaches. Realistically, how feasible would it be for any given single person to cook something as elaborate as empanadas? I obviously couldn’t handle it. And for a single person with a “budget” (because you’re spending 80% of your after-tax income on alcohol and rent), how am I supposed to expect readers to replicate anything I plan on making?

So I challenged myself: If I only had 10% of my bi-monthly income to spend on food, what would I buy? I decided to brainstorm at the only place I knew how to shop on a budget.

Costco.

I essentially grew up in a Costco. I remember my dad taking me on early morning trips to Costco so we could each sample half of their massive poppyseed muffins for breakfast. There were countless times I would wander off alone to “explore” and end up browsing the book section until my dad finished his shopping. I was exposed to sushi there (the really shitty pre-packaged white-people kind) and bought a N*SYNC album there only to discover that the CD case was just a standard size and not one massive rectangle like the packaging suggested. Costco taught me a lot of things (mostly about the greatness of shopping in bulk and a bit about cheap churros), but for the past week and a half, Costco has taught me the most difficult lesson yet.

How to cook/eat/enjoy 7 lbs of chicken wings in a limited time frame.

I don’t know how I ended up in the poultry section, especially with the recent salmonella scare, or why I grabbed the wings over breasts or thighs, but I quickly paid for them and thought nothing of it. Realistically, eating a pound of food isn’t actually that difficult. But when you have to eat it more than 3-5 times in 7-10 days, I gets grueling.

I cooked these babies any and every way I knew how, and eventually came up with the most energy efficient (as in, my personal after-work energy) method for cooking chicken wings for a single person.

Boiling and then pan-frying them.

I sounds disgusting, I know. How could any protein taste good after a boil in water? But hear me out: I’m not suggesting you boil the chicken wings to until they resemble pink rubber erasers. No, definitely not. Only until they’re partially cooked, allowing for a shorter cook time and crispier skin after the pan-fry. It’s genius, really (I’m a genius, really). See below for more detailed suggestions. You’ll get what I mean.

The Best Way to Cook Chicken Wings (if you’re a single person)

If you bought untrimmed chicken wings, go ahead and cut them into wings and drummettes for easy eating. Apparently you can save the wing tips to make chicken stock, but you would seriously need 15+lbs of chicken tips to make anything substantial. If you bought yourself a set of drumsticks or pre-cut wings, you are living the single-person dream. Did you also happen to buy them at a Whole Foods?

chickenwings_20131116_1

chickenwings_20131116_2

If you’re not into eating more fat than half chicken wing, don’t be afraid to trim some of it off. Sure the texture when you pan sear them later won’t be the same, but a chicken wing with skin is about 100 calories, a chicken wing without…approximately 60. You can do the math. I did it, and tossed out some chicken wing skin.

Boil the chicken wings in salted water for about 1.5 minutes. It should essentially look unappetizing when you pull it back out. Ideally, there should no longer be any blood seeping through the phone or meat. Pat dry after removal. The extra moisture on the surface of the chicken wing will cause the frying oil to splatter.

Take a frying pan and lightly coat with a vegetable/canola oil. They have higher smoking point than olive oils, so it makes for a crispier chicken wing. When the oil is heated and ready to go, start searing a couple of chicken wings. Don’t be afraid to use a pot cover to help the frying oil from burning your delicate skin. Searing should only take about 2 minutes on each side.

Pair with a variety of sauces or just eat them out of the pan-frier. I’ll list sauce recipes in another upcoming post.

chickenwings_20131116_3

Let me be your Empanada Mama

Posted on November 3rd, 2013 | Leave a comment

Spoiler Alert: I made empanadas.

Probably not so obvious: I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re cooking for one.

Let me preface this written commentary, and just assert: I love empanadas. There’s a franchise (it’s actually three privately held locations) in New York City called Empanada Mama that makes the best empanadas I’ve ever had. I once recommended this delicious gem to a friend, but he later scolded me for suggesting a one-dollar-sign-on-yelp restaurant. Apparently, one of his coworkers who had lived in the City for several years didn’t think it was worth a try during his week long trip.

But not even as a snack spot?! Look Buddy (not his real name, but it definitely starts with a B), I have an ego, but I’m definitely not above flaky handheld pockets of meaty goodness drenched in some sort of spicy/creamy/mysterious green sauce. You really can’t spend less than $3.00 a pop to experience 5 minutes of satisfaction that will probably stick with you for the rest of your life? Empanada Mama is the empanada game changer. You don’t know empanadas until Mama’s made them for you.

I mean, look how excited we all were after finishing a meal there!!

empanada_1

When I decided to attempt empanadas this week, I really set myself up for failure. How could I compete with the best I’ve ever had? You already know the answer: I couldn’t. I didn’t like the results so much, I’m not even going to post the recipe I attempted.

So why even mention it? Because as much as I’d like this blog to be a record of all my successes, it wouldn’t be a representation of my life if there weren’t accompanying failures.

I’ll just leave you with snapshots and the wanting of a dream that will probably never come true.

empanada_2 empanada_3 empanada_4

 

 

 

Creme Bru-le-le-le-le-le

Posted on October 22nd, 2013 | Leave a comment

I know this entry has a lot of words. It’s my first one. I’m working on it. 

It’s tough being single.

It’s especially tough being single in your late 20’s when all you friends have significant others and most Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday/Friday/Saturday/Sunday nights are spent alone, while you keep track of the other peoples’ social lives through various social network outlets.

Usually, I don’t mind a quiet night in. There’s always a book that can be read, or a TV show that I can catch up on. But for the three months I was by myself in Melbourne, Australia–I got pretty restless. There are only so many tourist spots and coffee shops one person can explore alone. I eventually found something that killed time: I started a really wordy blog.

But all the recipes I tried resulted in days worth of food; and sometimes leftovers would go unfinished because I ended up eating out 4 nights in a row, or I wanted to attempt another recipe. I probably spent more money buying unused ingredients than used ones (which can pile up in Australia). So now that I’ve come back in Los Angeles, added 1 hour commutes to work (as in 1 hour there, 1 hour back), and work out more frequently–when I settle back home, all I want to do is make something painless that will still satisfy my fleeting of-the-moment cravings.

So here begins my attempt to find/alter/create recipes suitable for a single person (or even a +1 if you’re trying to impress a guest).

I’ve never really considered myself a dessert person, and when it comes to solo cooking, baking desserts can be overwhelming. Typically, you’ll find cake recipes meant for 8-10 people; and as much as I love a decadent slice of cake once in a while, it’s really not worth my time. But if you really think abut it, baking is probably the easiest thing to conquer when you’re eating for one. Success in baking is solely based on getting proportions right. Personally, I think baking is closer to science than actual cooking.

Two weeks ago, I found these adorable ramekins at a local Japanese discount store. At $1.50 a piece, (and not made in China) I grabbed three and planned on going back for three more. But once I got home and really stared at my new beauties, I was stumped as to what I would use them for. I had to google for inspiration (people do this right?) and stumbled across a couple of Creme Brûlée recipes. I did some comparisons and eventually settled on the proportions below. It yields a more solid creme brûlée and works great if you only have a toaster oven to bake with…because why would you want to waste energy warming up your massive oven for a single portion of dessert?

brulee_20131027_1

brulee_20131027_3

brulee_20131027_4

Creme Brûlée
This recipe makes one serving. Multiply accordingly. I used a 3.5 inch ramekin that went 2 inches deep.

For every 1 egg yolk you’ll need:

  • 85mL of heavy cream (you can go up to 100mL if you like a creamier texture)
  • 0.75 Teaspoon of sugar + 1.5 Teaspoons for the sugar top
  • a splash of vanilla extract (nothing more than 1/3 of a teaspoon. But I eyeball it every single time)

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven (I used a toaster oven) to 325F.
  2. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until the mixture is light and airy. The color should be a little paler than the original egg yolk color.
  3. Add the heavy cream and vanilla extract into a small pot and heat until it almost boils. 
  4. Temper the cream into the egg yolk mixture.
    The easiest way to do this is to slowly add about 1/4 of a cup of the cream into to the egg yolk mixture while slowly whisking the egg yolks. Note how I used the word “slowly” twice. The point of “tempering” is to make sure you’re not cooking your egg yolks into a grimy mush when adding a heat source (your hot cream). After successfully not messing up your eggs, you can add the rest of the cream more quickly, but still stirring the egg mixture. WARNING: DO NOT WHISK TOO MUCH. You don’t want to end up with a bunch of froth at the top of mixing bowl, this results in an ugly and overly-airy dessert.
  5. Strain the cream+eggs into ramekins (just in case you did end up cooking some egg) and let cool
  6. Boil enough water to fill a larger baking pan/tray
  7. Give your ramekins a lovely water bath by placing the ramekin in the middle of the baking tray and filling the it with the boiling water until half of the ramekin is immersed in the water. Place it in the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when you test it. WARNING: DO NOT GET WATER IN THE RAMEKIN. You’ll ruin it for yourself.
    If it’s easier, place the tray in the oven first, then center the ramekin and then fill the tray with water. This will make transporting much easier.
  8. Let the ramekins cool. You can even put them in the fridge for 3-5 hours to really get them chilled.
  9. Set your oven/toaster oven to the “broil” setting and get the temperature as high as it can go (but you’ll probably want to max out at 450F). If you can, move the oven shelf the highest it can to the top of the oven, and pile some bake-safe pans to create a stool for your ramekins. You want to get the top of the custards as close as it can to the “broiling point” in the oven (a.k.a the top)
  10. Add the additional sugar evenly across the top of the custard and broil until all sugar has melted into a lovely glass like top. Let cool in fridge or eat while it’s warm. It tastes delicious either way.

Optional: if you have some heavy cream left over, pour some in a small bowl and add as much sugar to your liking. Whisk to oblivion to create your own whipped cream topping. Add a strawberry if you’re feeling fancy (or just happen to have some in the fridge)

brulee_20131027_2

And just for fun: This is where the blog title comes from