Char Siu Bao (Steamed BBQ Pork Buns)—Weeknight Easy

char siu bao

Char Siu Bao (steamed BBQ pork buns) are surprisingly easy to make

I don’t know what magic was at work, but apparently, I once had all the time in the world. I know this because I have vivid memories of spending countless hours in the kitchen happily infusing oils, kneading dough, hand-making fussy little morsels without a care. Case in point: I went through a phase of making dim sum—every sort of Chinese dumpling from deep-fried wontons to char siu bao (steamed bbq pork buns)—from scratch on a regular basis, like I was someone’s Chinese grandma.

In need of some kitchen inspiration recently, I pulled out some of my old dim sum recipes, but was instantly put off by how time-consuming they were. Clearly, times have changed. Alas, the bee had entered my bonnet and, like it or not, I was making Char Siu Bao for my family, but I had to find a quicker way.

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Thai Chicken Satay

Thai Chicken Satay

Quick and Easy Thai Chicken Satay

After spending a few weeks in the polar vortex, my family and I returned to the Bay Area in mid-January to discover that summer has come early this year. Really early. Dire drought emergency and looming water rationing aside, I did what any self-respecting Californian would do: I quickly hid my East Coast winter parka and fleece leggings in the basement, donned short sleeves and sunglasses, and pulled out the barbecue. To be honest, I felt a little giddy as I plucked a handful of ripe, red cherry tomatoes off a bush and popped one between my teeth, the sweet taste of summer filling my mouth. It was high time for Thai chicken satay.

I’ve spent years trying to recreate the flavors I fell in love with on the streets of Bangkok. With the help of my Thai ex-patriot friend, who also happens to be an excellent cook, I have finally come close with this easy recipe for the classic Thai street food specialty, chicken satay. The marinade for these simple grilled chicken skewers includes signature Thai ingredients like lemongrass, turmeric (ideally fresh, but dried is fine, too), fresh galangal (you can substitute fresh ginger), chilies, and fish sauce. Palm sugar assures authentic Southeast Asian flavor, but dark brown cane sugar is a fine substitute. The end result is pure heaven on a stick.

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Green Tomato Fritters

Fried Green Tomato Fritters

Fried Green Tomato Fritters are a lot easier to make than traditional fried tomatoes. No annoying dredging or coating!

For many of you across the northern hemisphere — those who are currently wrapping yourselves in full arctic expedition gear just to get to work — this will not be a timely post. Here in dull-weather California, however, I still have a good ten pounds left of unripe green tomatoes in my fridge, thanks to my weirdly extended harvest of Sungolds and Early Cascades.

The other day I was frying up some of these green tomatoes traditional-style, first slicing them, then dredging and coating each individual slice in egg and corn meal. DELICIOUS, but the process is a hassle — especially with smaller tomato varieties, which are harder to slice, coat, and handle. But I stuck with it, and at the end, as is my habit, I dumped some corn meal and salt into the remaining bit of egg to make a single guilty pleasure cornball. Then I thought: why not just mix some diced green tomato in there too, and make a patty? It worked beautifully! Not only was it an easier technique than the traditional slice-dredge-coat, but also a much more efficient way to make use of all those baby green cherries.

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Incredibly Easy Tomato Soup Recipe

tomato soup recipe

Our Lazy Gourmet roasted tomato soup recipe is incredibly easy to make. And delicious.

There are only so many homegrown tomatoes that an urban backyard farmer can consume. (Yes, even here in San Francisco! Sun Golds by the Bay!) Tomatoes don’t last long on the counter (a ruthless gang of fruit flies holds unopposed authority in my kitchen), and they lose flavor when stored in the fridge. Sure, we can share them with our friends and family — but there’s a good chance those friends and family members are simultaneously sharing their tomatoes with us. Consequently, those of us who are not Duggars are always looking for creative ways to use and preserve our summer bounty. At my house, the leftovers that don’t make it into my maw via sandwich, salad, or fist, end up in soups that I freeze and save for winter. Bring on the flu season!

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Baked Chicken with Lemon Marmalade Glaze

Baked Chicken with Lemon Marmalade Glaze

Baked Chicken with Lemon Marmalade Glaze

Thanks to my many generous, green-thumbed, food-loving friends, my kitchen cupboards are crammed year-round with homemade jams: persimmon butter, blackberry and poppy flower preserves, grapefruit marmalade, quince jam, green tomato and chili chutney (made by the coauthor), and many more. In fact, I own more gourmet artisan jams than I could ever possibly hope to consume via toast or crumpets alone. I’m not complaining! I’m just saying that I now face the challenge of trying to figure out creative ways to use those jams that don’t involve eating PBJs every day for the next three years.

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garbanzo Beans and Almonds

roasted brussels sprouts

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garbanzo Beans and Almonds

If you’re lucky enough not to have the genetic mutation that makes people hate Brussels sprouts, then there is a very good chance you’ll love these roasted Brussels sprouts with garbanzo beans and toasted almonds. Roasting at a high temperature brings out the sweetness and flavor in the sprouts, and gives the garbanzos an unusual crispy crunch. (And adding the protein-rich legumes to this vegetable dish makes it a great option for a vegetarian dinner.)

This dish begs for variation and experimentation. In the past I’ve substituted cauliflower or broccoli for the Brussels sprouts, swapped pistachios for the almonds, tossed sliced garlic cloves into the mix before roasting, drizzled it with lemon juice, and sprinkled it with Parmesan cheese. In the future I might try tossing in crumbled feta at the end, or dried cranberries, or fresh herbs… What else could you do? I would love to hear your ideas!

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Camp Cooking: Magic Layer Pie

Camp Cooking: Magic Layer Pie

camp cooking: magic layer pie
Cooked in a skillet, Magic Layer Pie is super easy and delicious camping treat

It’s officially camping season and all around me, throngs of outdoor adventurers are readying their camping gear and pondering whether to head for the mountains or the desert, the coast or the woods. Me? I’m already planning the menu. Don’t get me wrong, I love the outdoors as much as the next guy, but for me, the food is the highlight of any camping—or life—adventure. And that sentiment goes doubly for dessert.

There is just something deeply satisfying about sweet treats—gooey, toasty s’mores oozing with chocolate, fresh summer peaches baked over a fire with a rousing shot of rum, piping hot bananas baked with brown sugar and cinnamon—eaten under a sky lit up by millions of stars, breathing fresh air scented by tall trees, rich earth, and a crackling campfire.

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Baked Eggs with Greens and Goat Cheese

baked eggs with greens in ramekins

Baked eggs with greens (actually, not yet baked in this photo) are perfect for a small brunch menu.

If you loved Robin’s famous Baked Eggs in a Potato Crust, you’ll also love these Baked Eggs with Greens—though probably not quite as much as those damn potato eggs! I’m just being honest. There’s no way any other baked eggs on earth can ever compete with those precious, crunchy, potato-crusted cups of savory-sweet perfection. But these delightful, easy eggies boast their own wonderful qualities: perfumey fresh herbs, healthy greens, tangy goat cheese, and a generous dollop of crème fraîche that gives them an extraordinary richness. And being served in individual ramekins, of course, makes them seem extra special. (Ok, ok, ramekins are not more special than heavenly golden potato cups. I know already.)

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Posted in Soups, Uncategorized, Vegetarian | 1 Comment

Science of Taste: Another Great Video from KQED’s QUEST Series

I love KQED’s excellent QUEST series. Their videos and radio stories present nuggets of science and nature in the most engaging, informative, and watchable way. I’ve already shared their videos on The Science of Cheese and The Science of Sourdough. Today you get to watch their Science of Taste video—a short piece about one of life’s most obvious, but not often analyzed, pleasures.

From the QUEST website: “Did you know that about 95 percent of what we think is taste is actually smell? Or that the way we perceive flavor comes from a complex relationship between our senses, emotions and memories? As scientists decode how our taste and olfactory receptors work, top California chefs are taking that knowledge and creating alchemy in the kitchen.” Enjoy!

On a related note, here are a couple more resources on the science of taste. This article discusses the physiology and psychology of taste, defines the difference between taste and flavor, and explains what a “supertaster” is. (Kind of interesting that more women than men are supertasters—but that there are also more female “non-tasters.“) interviews a neuroscientist who explains, among many other things, how a wine expert can be tricked into mistaking white wine for red. And if you’re a sciencey type who likes to cook, you might want to check out Jeff Potter’s Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, and Good Food—a compendium of food science, interviews, and experiments, with great recipes to tie it all together.

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Beets Brighten Up this White Bean Hummus

Beets in Hummus

Roasted beets brighten up a white bean hummus like nobody’s business.

If you’ve ever wondered what to do with beets, you’ve come to the right place. Here at Two Lazy Gourmets, we love us some beets. We love them steamed, pickled, roasted, and even raw.

We wouldn’t be lying if we said we love this treasure of a vegetable for its health benefits, which include ridiculously high levels of all kinds of good stuff that we’re told cleanses our organs, purifies our blood, and keeps us healthy. Or that we are drawn to beets for their aphrodisiac qualities (it’s true! We read it on the internet. Beets contain a substance that helps humans create sex hormones!) Or that we appreciate their feel-good qualities (Again, according to the all-knowing internet, a substance in beets causes a brain reaction similar to what happens when you eat chocolate. It can even help to alleviate depression. Who couldn’t use a little of that?) And then there’s the fact that they taste like the vegetable world’s version of candy. I mean really, what’s not to love?

But if we’re being completely honest, we love beets most for the beautiful pop of color they add to a plate. Just look at this gorgeous Roasted Beet Hummus. Can you imagine a more perfectly beautiful food?

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