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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 Eats: Just kidding…NOW I’m back! And with dinner party photos!

By on Dec 12, 2012 in Appetizers, Leena Cooks, Leena Eats, Mains, Meat, Parties, Pork, Sorbet, Soup/Salad, The Gastronomical Leena, Vegetables | 4 comments

So. I said I was back, and clearly, I lied. What I actually meant is, hi, see you again in four months or so. 🙂 I spent from mid-June through early October studying my ass off for a little test called the GRE, because I decided hey, wouldn’t it be fun to get a doctorate and research food and culture for a living? It paid off, because I didn’t completely fail the math, and I did ok in the verbal and kick-ass in the essay section. BUT. It also meant no brain energy was left at the end of day to cook, let alone blog about food. Or exercise. Or eat well. But I did occasionally bust out some winners, the cake above included. That bad-ass monstrosity was a chocolate chip cake layered with passion fruit curd, chocolate crumbles, and coffee buttercream frosting from the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook. More after the jump! I feel like I could probably create a nice big-ass cake like...

Leena Cooks: Three Meat Chipotle Chili

By on Dec 7, 2011 in Beef, chili, Leena Cooks, Main, Meat, Pork, Recipes | 0 comments

Man, I am so glad I had my latest chili cook-off. As a cook, it is easy to get stuck in your own ways and your regular recipes, so it is always a blessing to have as many cooking inspirations as I did from my cook-off. I mean, I actually WANT to make a vegetarian chili! Hell hath frozen over, folks. One of the cook-off prizes was a book written by Jane and Michael Stern called Chili Nation, featuring regional chili recipes from all 50 states. My friend Matt made a killer beef chili with chipotle and chunks of beef stew meat, and it inspired me to try something similar. I found the “Serious Capital Punishment Chili” from the District of Columbia (also the International Chili Society’s top winner in it’s 1980 cook off), which not only had cubes of beef round and chipotle in it, but also hints of dark chocolate and two kinds of ground meat in it. I made a few...

Leena Cooks: Meatballs and Sauce for a Post-Baby Meal

By on May 5, 2011 in Beef, Leena Cooks, Mains, Meat, Pork, Recipes | 0 comments

Even while extremely pregnant, my cooking prowess knows no bounds, especially in balls of meat form. The later I go into my pregnancy, the lazier of a cook I became. It’s not that I don’t crave foods…I just stopped having the ability to say, yeah, let me make that! And then actually follow through. If dinner requires anything more than raw, chopped vegetables for a side, I can’t handle it (and I don’t even make dinner most nights) But as I near the end, I am managing to push out a few good cooking sessions, mainly to stock up our freezer with a few meals for post-baby. Nevermind that we didn’t have dinner for the night–we’ll have it for three month from then. Makes total sense, right? This was one of those meals. Delicious, comforting over a pot a spaghetti, a cheesy polenta or just some bread, here are the meatballs I like to call...

Leena Cooks: Spicy Pork tacos with salsa verde and pickled onions

By on Mar 14, 2011 in Leena Cooks, Mains, Meat, Pork | 0 comments

My spicy pork tacos with salsa verde and pickled onions. I love the tanginess the onions give the taco! Since my gestational diabetes has been preventing me from rocking out all the baked goods my little pregnant heart desires, I’ve been ramping up my savory cooking skills. I am a HUGE fan of dishes that yield a large portion of cooked meat that can be saved for multiple meals, like smoking meats and roasting. This recipe, which originates from New Classic Family Dinners, written by Campanile restaurant in L.A.’s chef Mark Peel, relies on braised, shredded pork for the dish. See the twist I put on the recipe and more food porn after the jump. Step one: rub the pork shoulder cubes with the spice mix and let sit for as long as possible, preferably two days. Have your butcher chop up the shoulder for you–it will save you a ton of time. Browning the pork is next, and do...

Leena Cooks: Food Porn Daily: The Cookbook’s Chorizo Bistro Salad!

By on Jan 10, 2011 in Leena Cooks, Main, Mains, Meat, Pork, Soup/Salad, Vegetables | 0 comments

I am not really one to follow a recipe. I always start off with the best intentions to, but soon I realize I am missing an ingredient or have a better ingredient/idea/method in mind than the author of the recipe, and all hell breaks out. Sure, I may end up with a delicious dish, but who knows what mysterious, tasty delights the actual recipe held? So when my gal Amanda over at Food Porn Daily published her first cookbook, I figured once, JUST ONCE, I could try to follow a recipe. I picked her chorizo bistro salad with caramelized crimini mushrooms, poached eggs and sherry vinaigrette…and I pretty much followed her entire recipe, save for some avocado I threw in at the last moment (old habits die hard…and avocados rock). There are a few elements that really make this recipe a great dish. First, you have salad. The recipe calls for frisee, which is slightly bitter, and...