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Leena Writes: For Chow.com

By on Jul 14, 2014 in The Gastronomical Leena | 0 comments

Hi guys! I wanted to let you know about a project I recently finished. I had the pleasure of writing articles for a few months at the site Chow.com. I wanted to show you some of my favorite articles I wrote for them, the ones I am most proud of. This is by no means an exhaustive list of my writing, but just a small taste. I wrote a series called “That Nagging Question”, where I got to answer common questions that people often have about food and cooking. A few of my favorites: “Can You Cook With Sprouted Garlic?” “Is A Food’s “Best Before” Date Technically an Expiration Date?” “Will Raw Milk Make You Sick?” I wrote a few articles about a topic near and dear to my heart, Indian food. “Dip Into These Essential Indian Condiments” “10 Must Try Regional Indian Dishes” The piece I am most proud of is a...

Leena Makes and Bakes: A Butterfly Birthday Cake!

By on Jun 1, 2014 in Cakes, Desserts, Leena Bakes | 0 comments

Hey guys. I’ve been busy for the past few months writing food articles for Chow.com, but I’m back and full of food stories and recipes to share. My daughter’s third birthday was a little while back, and I had a lot of fun figuring out how to make her dream cake: pink with butterflies. I ended up making a cream cheese frosting flavored with homemade strawberry jam for the pink requirement. I used the jam because I have tried using fresh strawberry puree in the past, and it ends up making the frosting too wet, which makes it drips off the cake and just look ugly. For the butterflies, I ended up using this tutorial from How To Cook That for chocolate butterflies. And you guys—it was actually pretty easy! Do you remember making those butterfly paintings in preschool? The ones where you paint one half of the butterfly, then fold the paper in half, smoosh it a little,...

Leena Cooks and Eats: FARMCurious’s 3 Cheeses in 3 Hours class!

By on Apr 29, 2014 in Leena Cooks | 0 comments

  Taking cooking classes inspires and fuels my passion for food and food writing. I don’t get to do them often, but when I do, I always find it such a pleasure. I recently had the joy of taking Nicole Kramer Easterday’s Three Cheeses in Three Hours class with her company, FARMCurious. It was partly in preparation to teach some classes with FARMcurious in the future (it always help to know the lay of the land before teaching). But as someone who enjoys making food from scratch that most people would think is impossible (like puff pastry or pickles), this was mainly for pleasure. And the class did not disappoint! This post will feature the mozzarella portion of the class. Photos and more after the break! The class was focused around making three different cheeses over the course of three hours: ricotta, fresh goat cheese, and mozzarella. I only had experience with...

Leena Cooks: Toddler Pizza Making Party!

By on Mar 18, 2014 in Leena Bakes, Leena Cooks, Pizza, Recipes, With kids | 1 comment

I love pizza—making it, baking it, eating it, the whole shebang. I also happen to dig hanging out with kids (in a non-creepy way) and teaching them how to cook. The first time, it was with the world’s most adorable toddlers (who are now in grade school!) before I ever had kids. Then, I got to try it out with my own offspring, which proved adorable, slightly annoying, and delicious. I even had the crazy idea to teach teens how to make pizza dough from scratch, and that was…messy. So of course, what is the first thing I think about doing when we were returning a babysitting favor for a few friends with toddlers? PIZZA PARTY! Yeah. I may be insane. Or the coolest mom ever. It varies from day to day The details on the set up and more after the break! So, first thing to do is prep the hell out of the recipe. For dough, this is my go to recipe, but feel free to use your...

Leena Cooks: Dan Dan noodles

By on Mar 13, 2014 in Chinese food, Leena Cooks, Main, Meat, noodles, Pork, Spices | 0 comments

The first time I tried dan dan noodles was at a little Chinese dumpling and noodle shop in Australia. It had a very dry sauce, made only of meat and spices, and was probably one of the hottest dishes I’ve ever eaten. My husband loved them, but I found the heat to be so overwhelming, I couldn’t concentrate on the other flavors in the dish. Indeed, this dish hails on the Sichuan province of China, one of the spiciest regions in the world. I decide to research my own dan dan noodle recipe, one I could tailor to both my husband’s and my own heat preferences. According to Fuchsia Dunlop’s book, Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper, dan dan mian is a dish that is made differently by every street vendor. Her version includes no sesame paste, and focuses more on the clean flavors from the Sichuan peppers. While Food52′s recipe used douban chili paste, a spicy,...

Leena Cooks: Sichuan Chili Oil for Dan Dan Noodles

By on Mar 12, 2014 in chili, Condiments, Leena Cooks | 0 comments

If my husband had his way, he would eat Asian food for every meal. Doesn’t matter what kind or region–he’s not picky. He just craves the perfect balance of all the flavors—sweet, sour, spicy and umami–that Asian cultures around the world have adapted in their own special way. And bonus points from him if whatever he is eating has noodles in it (especially hand-pulled). Save for this one amazing dumpling shop in NYC, I am a bit more reluctant to dine at Asian restaurants, mainly because because they can be hit or miss. When they hit, holy shit—it’s amazing. But when they miss, I sort of never want to give it a try again. I know, not the best attitude for a FOOD WRITER to have, but at least I’m honest. And willing to change! I have been doing a fair bit of reading lately around Chinese cuisine. Specifically, I just finished the book Fresh...

Leena Eats: New year, new blog, new life!

By on Mar 4, 2014 in Family, Leena Eats, Leena Lives Life | 1 comment

You guys—Hi! I’m here! These last 12 months have been a doozy for me. My family embarked on a project that dealt with my chronic stomach conditions a year ago this week, and while you will hear more about it later, suffice it to say it was not a successful project. I got really sick, lots of hospital visits, etc. And have you ever tried food writing while sick? IT BLOWS. So, we’ve been doing our research for other ways to accomplish our project, and in the mean time, I’ve been rebuilding my life (for probably the fourth or fifth time in four years). That means working on staying healthy, getting back into exercising, and starting to get back into freelance food writing. And cooking/baking—I’ve been doing my fair share of that! The photo above is my latest creation, a blue cornmeal cornnbread that I made using Tierra Vegetables’ freshly ground...

Family Food Photography in Oakland

By on Nov 22, 2013 in East Bay, Family, Food photography, Leena Eats, Leena Lives Life, Oakland, Pho, Pizza, The Gastronomical Leena | 0 comments

Food photography and family portraits don’t typically go together, and they sure as hell aren’t the most searched terms on Google. But if food is your life and you have a family, eating together is probably the one time that your family is the most themselves, the most comfortable. Capturing those moments on film are a no brainer for this food writer, and I have been incredibly lucky to stumble across an incredibly talented food and family photographer in Oakland. Guys, meet Mark Estes of Mark Estes Photography. We’ve been working with Mark for two years now, and he has been amazing. He is creative, fun, and always willing to tackle unique shooting locations. The shot above was done at a local pizza joint called Slicer, which just so happened to be empty on the day/time we went, and had perfect lighting. The pizza shop is the first venture for chef Colin Etezadi, who...