Extremely simple yet so hearty and comforting…  I think I’m ready for the winter…


Been down with personal and professional reasons, which manifested in the form of feverish cold.  It was 1PM-ish and wanted to cook something to pick my spirit up.  Asked my boyfriend what he’d fancy for lunch.  Just like bartenders at Milk & Honey do.  “What are you in the mood for?”  His answer was rather generic.  “Rice with light sauce?”  It’s not entirely light, but couldn’t think of anything better than heap of gumbo ladled over fresh cooked rice

Conveniently, I had chicken thigh, andouille and bacon frozen in my freezer.  So ran out to the corner store to buy some produce (bell pepper, onion and a can of tomato).    After an hour of labor in my kitchen, I was able to yield 4 portions of gumbo…



  • 2 pieces of chicken thigh: diced
  • 1 andouille sausage: thinly sliced (0.25 inch thick)
  • 3 slices of bacon: diced
  • 1 medium sized onion: chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper: seeded, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves: finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 0.5 cup dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon of dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaves
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes with juice
  • 2 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 cup of sliced frozen okra
  • Minced fresh Italian parsley (0.5 cup)

1. Cook bacon in a dutch oven over medium heat until browned but not crisp
2. Add chicken thigh and andouille sausage to the dutch oven and cook until chicken pieces are barely cooked
3. Transfer bacon, chicken and andouille to a bowl with a slotted spoon
4. To the dutch oven, add butter and when it bubbles, sprinkle in flour little bit at a time while stirring constantly to make roux
5. When the mixture turns light brown (shade of peanut butter), add green bell pepper, garlic, onion and white wine, scrap any brown bits from bottom of the dutch oven and stirring occasionally
6. When the veggie mixture bubbles, stir in chicken stock, tomatoes, thyme, bay leaf, cayenne and 2 teaspoons salt and cook for 5 mins
7. Add bacon, chicken andouille, frozen okra, and chopped parsley in the dutch oven and cook for 5 mins
8. Serve on top of steamed rice and adorn with finely chopped parsley

$6 pursuit of happiness

It’s amazing what a colorful bouquet of flowers can do. It doesn’t have to be expensive or glamorous.

A bunch of pom poms I bought for $6 was sufficient to perk me up as I adorned my tiny studio.

Since receiving a wedding invitation last September, I knew where I was going for my summer vacation. Wedding was in Rome, but my boyfriend suggested we should watch Aida at Arena di Verona and spend relaxing time in Amalfi. Who can say no to that?


But to reach the relaxing point of my journey, I had to persevere 20 hour travel time (my flight from JFK was delayed 6 hours; hence, missed my connection flight in London) and a rained out opera (20 mins into the second act, it started to pour down and the show was over!). Felt defeated and exhausted, but when I walked outside my hotel room and faced with the view of Amalfi, I knew I was “in-the-money!”

amalfi 1

Took a long bath and I tucked myself comfortably in bed for a much needed nap. Evening came, so we strolled down to the main piazza, snooped around a little and sat down at the table of a restaurant called “Taverna degli Apostoli”. As soon as Luigi, our charming waiter, brought us the menu, we knew we were in good hands. The handwritten menu was full of mouthwatering Mediterranean dishes with a sketch of Amalfi coast adorning the cover! So casual and welcoming… We ordered a bottle of white wine and started with tomato bruschetta and house salad. They were delicious and didn’t need much seasoning or dressing, since the produces were so tasty! For the main course, I ordered baked sea bass with lemon and my boyfriend had homemade fennel sausage with melted cheese. Both were done in a rustic manner yet delectable. At the end of the meal, we were stuffed, so we sipped on a glass of limoncello to punctuate the deal in Amalfi style.

I knew this toilet seat hanging in front of a gelateria called Patagonia in Verona was whimsical with its potent dose of sarcasm.


However, who would have thunk this?

I was going through photos I took during my recent 10 day trip around Italy, and noticed the sign for the dried chili!  How hilarious!

viagra naturale

With 2/3 of a tub of mascarpone cheese left from Wednesday, I made marcarpone cheese pancakes by modifying Nigella’s recipe for cottage cheese pancakes.  Since marcarpone cheese is not as liquidy as cottage cheese, I added a bit of water to the batter.

With macerated strawberries, maple syrup and Arnie Palmer with a dash of lemon basil syrup I made last week, the pancakes were a perfect summer brunch dish!


2 eggs, sugar, flour, vanilla extract, mascarpone cheese, strawberry, balsamic vinegar,

1. Cut strawberries into small pieces and macerate them with a pinch of sugar and 3 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar and set it aside

2. Separate 2 eggs, and to the yolks, add sugar (4 tablespoon), mascarpone cheese (3 tablespoons), flour (2/3 cup), water (1/4 cup), and vanilla extract (2 teaspoons)

3. Beat egg whites until foamy and fold into the mix

4. Drop a ladle of batter on a hot non-stick pan and cook approx. 1 min on each side

5. Serve with macerated strawberries and maple syrup

crimini mushroom pasta

Last night, I was flipping through DVR-ed episodes of Nigella Express and when I saw her rolling up sizable ball of liguine, I knew what I was making for my dinner-for-one on Friday night.  It is extremely simple and perfect for hot summer season, since the sauce only needs a bit of chopping, grating and tossing!  I used pecorino romano (which I had in my fridge) instead of parmesan.  Also, didn’t have any parsley, sprinkled extra thyme after placing the pasta in a serving bowl.  It was velvety with cheese and musky yet refreshing as I added plenty of lemon juice.

Nigella’s Recipe on FoodNetwork.com

lemon basil gimlet_en

I was paying my usual visit to thekitchn.com and enjoying my half priced (“recession special”) afternoon coffee in the office when I encountered this helpful posting on a recipe for sweet basil lemonade and more importantly, the recipe for a basil-lemon infused syrup.

 Since I was wondering what I should do with a bunch of leftover basil after making the turkey larb, and I wasn’t entirely excited about making another Thai dish (I was having a craving for “Gochujang (Korean red chili paste) stew”, which I made alongside with making the syrup), the timing of the posting couldn’t be more perfect.

As my dear girlfriend was coming over to fill me in with the latest development on her “5-date-old” relationship, instead of serving her a tall glass of “virgin” lemonade, I decided to serve her “not-so-innocent” version of the drink, the “sweet basil lemon vodka gimlet” (shaken not stirred), and got on with making the syrup as soon as I put my foot in the kitchen.

The syrup was rather sweet, but the sweetness balanced tartness from lemon juice quite nicely. In addition to the cocktail, I also served her honey drizzled strawberries with mascarpone cheese to dip into (just like the way Milk & Honey, a cocktail lounge in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, serves)… I still have quite a bit of the syrup left but I’m quit e sure it will be consumed rather quickly!

Recipe from Epicurious

Basil Lemon infused syrup:


Basil Lemon vodka gimlet:



turkey larb1

What a gloomy Tuesday!

My boyfriend has moved to Lima on a 6AM flight and ever since it’s been raining (on and off) with uncomfortable amount of heat and humidity.  I desperately needed a “pick-me-up” dish to brighten up my “dinner-table-for-one”!

While flipping through “Donna Hay” (issue 43), saw a recipe for “veal larb”  and the thought of having this tangy, sweet and savory dish with a bowl of creamy coconut rice made me salivate.  I quickly ran over to a nearby Asian specialty store to pick up some of ingredients, and since I had ground turkey in my freezer, decided to use it instead of veal.  To the simple recipe from “Donna Hay”, I’ve added additional ingredients (minced lemongrass and sweet basil) to enhance the flavor.   Also, I’ve substituted cilantro with mint, since I just can’t bear the taste/smell of cilantro!

While working on the Larb, I’ve also prepared coconut rice (with a help from my trusted rice cooker) and sprinkled slivered almond on the top for some crunch.

The result was quite wonderful.  Dinner-for-one can never be the most exciting thing, but the turkey larb definitely proved to be a better option than a take-out dinner in a plastic container.


1/4 lb of ground turkey

1 shallot (halved and sliced)

1 teaspoon of minced lemongrass*

1 tablespoon of chopped thai basil

1 table spoon of chopped mint

1 teaspoon of minced ginger

1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic

1/2 of serrano chili (chopped into small pieces)

Juice of 1/2 of lime

1 teaspoon of sugar

1 teaspoon of fish sauce

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of black pepper

1/2 tablespoon of any type of vegetable oil


  1. Mix lime juice, serrano chili, fish sauce, chopped mint and sugar in a non-metallic bowl and set it aside
  2. Cook ground turkey with 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil on a skillet for 4 mins (break the meat into small pieces and season with salt & black pepper)
  3. Add shallot, minced ginger, garlic, chopped thai basil and lemongrass into the skillet and cook for additional 4-5 mins until the meat and vegetables are cooked
  4. Place cooked meat and vegetable mixture into a serving bowl and mix with the dressing (see step 1)
  5. Serve with rice**, wedge of lime and mint/cilantro leaves

* Can find it in a frozen section of Asian food specialty stores

** Also can be served with coconut rice or spooned on Boston lettuce leaves


::About Me::

Who: An investment banker daydreaming about simple menu for one or two

Where: New York City