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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...

Gastro Fridays: Gotta Teach Them Young!

By on Oct 18, 2013 in Gastro Fridays, Leena Cooks, The Gastronomical Leena, With kids | 0 comments

~LTG!

Gastro Fridays: The great pb & j debate

By on Oct 11, 2013 in Essays, Gastro Fridays, The Gastronomical Leena | 0 comments

I love the tv show Parenthood. So funny, so true, so perfectly awkward at times and heart-wrenching at others. I was watching the season premiere a few weeks back, and a scene between Crosby and Jasmine (who had just had their second child) was so interesting it ACTUALLY grabbed my attention away from online clothes shopping. Spoiler alert: it has to do with food! So there they were, parents of a newborn, exhausted, cranky and ready to bite each other’s heads off, when Crosby started making Jasmine a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Because he burned the toasted bread, Jasmine’s faith in Crobsy’s pb&j skills was clearly shaken (gotta love those post birth hormones!). She gave Crosby strict instructions on how she preferred her peanut butter to be smoothly spread on the bread, not lumpy. Of course, this caused a fight, because which severely sleep-deprived person...

Leena Cooks: Pizza with her toddler!

By on Aug 12, 2013 in Leena Cooks, Pizza, Recipes | 0 comments

So forever and a day ago, back in 2009 to be exact, I took my childless ass up to Wisconsin to hang out with a college friend and teach her kids (then 2 & 3) to make pizza from scratch. The post was mainly photos, but it gave me first hand experience trying to “cook” with toddlers. Fast forward to today, where it was time to get my own two year old in the kitchen cooking (mainly to keep her busy while making dinner. And because watching another episode of Caillou or Dora the Explorer would make me puke). This time, I’m including my favorite pizza dough recipe so you can try it for yourself. Photos and the recipe after the jump! But just for you? A sneak preview of the cuteness you are in for: So “cooking” with toddlers really means you cook and prep all the ingredients you need BEFORE the toddler gets involved. Otherwise you’ll be cleaning flour...