Tom Kah Soup

November 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

My friend introduced me to Thai food when I was a little fish in High School. We went to this awesome restaurant Spice n Rice in La Jolla, CA which continues to live on the quaint block of Girard Avenue after 13 + years.  Hands down, they have one of the best Tom Kah Soups I have ever had.

When I lived at home during Summers between college school years, I wanted to make this soup, but thought it was too complicated with ingredients such as lemongrass, coconut milk, and fish sauce.  Being a newbie, I seriously had no idea where to even find those items.

Well, the cold weather that San Diegans are experiencing persuaded me to take another look at the recipe, knowing that I would most likely have a different opinion about the level of difficulty.  Since I have been cooking and grocery shopping after permanently moving out of the nest, the ingredients for Tom Kah soup failed to intimdate me into making this wonderful concoction.

I Googled “Tom Kah Soup” and found the most simple recipes.  It has so many variations – some call for brown sugar. Others call for chili paste over serrano chilis. I know this soup requires Fish Sauce, but that is the one ingredient I left out because I really did not want to drive 25 minutes to get a fish sauce that I would probably use once a year.

So here are the ingredients I used:


  • 1 1/2 Can of Coconut Milk – $1.50 at Sprouts
  • 32 Oz of Chicken Broth or Vegetable Broth -$1.50 (on sale at Sprouts) or $2.00 at Trader Joe’s

Greens, Veggies, Fruit, and Herbs:

  • 3 Stalks of Lemongrass $5.99/lb
  • 1 Onion $0.69/lb
  • 1 Small Piece of Ginger (Subsitutes for Galangal, a type of ginger)
  • 1 Bunch of Cilantro – $0.49
  • 1 Lime – $0.20
  • Serrano Chilis $0.99/lb (how many you use depends on how spicy you would like it. I used 2 and it was a medium+ spice).
  • 1 Medium Carrot
  • I Medium Broccoli Crown
  • 1/2 Bell Pepper


  • Watch this Video on how to Prepare Lemongrass: 
  • Slice the Onions and Serrano Chillies. Slice the carrot or use baby carrots. Chop the Bell Pepper into medium sized Chunks. Slice the ginger. To peel the ginger skin, use a spoon and scrape the outside layer.

After the Prep:

  1. Bring Stock to a boil. Once boiled, throw in Lemongrass, Ginger, and Lime Juice from 1/2 Lime (some use Lime zest and save the juice for later). Bring the heat to medium low and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. Make sure to keep a lid on the pot.
  2. Meanwhile, if you decide to use chicken, brown the chicken breast or thigh chunks in a separate pan on medium high heat.
  3. After 10 minutes, pour in 1 can of coconut milk. Mix in the onions and Serranos and simmer for another 5 minutes (If the soup is clear, use more coconut milk.  I had left over light coconut milk, and had to use about 1/4 can of regular coconut milk. You want to make sure that it looks more like coconut milk than stock).
  4. Finally, throw in the vegetables and chicken. Season with salt. The soup is ready once the veggies are soft.

Garnish with Cilantro. Finish it with Siracha or Chili Oil and a drizzle of Lime Juice.  Enjoy!

Tis is an adaptation from the recipe I found on

There are so many versions, as I mentioned, and different ways of cooking Tom Kah. Use this one, or Google it to find a version that sounds yummy to you. Overall, the ingredients cost about $7.00 for 4-6 Servings.


Tortilla Espanola: Spanish Omlette

October 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

I grew up eating tortillas. You know, the thin pita like round made from either corn or flour then used to make tacos, burritos, tostadas, or chips. Today, after eating tortillas for over two decades, I learned the literal Spanish translation of tortilla. While the term is often associated with such previously named foods for us Southern Californians and Mexicans, in Spain, they’ll be serving an egg dish filled with goodness. Thus, tortilla in Spanish means Omelette – very different from Mexican tortilla which refers to Flat Bread. So, if you order a Tortilla Espanola, you’ll be enjoying a tapa created from eggs, potatoes, and caramelized onions.

Oddly enough, the first time I had Tortilla Espanola was at an European Tapas bar just up the street in North Pacific Beach, San Diego – far from Spain. And, it’s funny how the most simple dishes served abroad such as a Spanish Omlette can carry such a high dollar amount in the States at $6.00 for three little slices.  For less than that amount of $, I made enough to feed 4-6 people.

Tortilla Espanola needs the following:

  •  4 to 5 Eggs – A Dozen Eggs Cost $1.79 at Trader Joe’s –
  • 4 Medium Potatoes (my preference is Yukon Gold) or about 10 Fingerling Potatoes (which is what I had left over) – Potatoes range from $0.49/lb to $0.79/lb at Sprouts depending on what’s on sale or which type of potato is used.
  • 3/4 to 1 Whole Onion – Yellow Onions are on sale for $0.25/lb at Sprouts, but are usually $0.49/lb to $0.69/lb –
  • 2 1/4 +/-  Cups of Olive Oil

Please keep in mind that this is a combination of directions that I obtained from other recipes.

  1. Peel and slice potatoes thinly, sources say 1/8 inch thickness
  2. Slice onions thinly
  3. Whisk 4 to 5 Eggs in a Medium Bowl
  4. Heat about 2 Cups of Olive Oil in Skillet or Non Stick Pan at Medium High Heat. Once heated, throw in Potatoes & Onions. Season with Salt & Pepper. The heat may have to be reduced to prevent potatoes from burning. Stir frequently. Cook the mixture until the potatoes are soft.  A good indicator is when you’re able to split the potato in half with a spatula.
  5. When the Potatoes & Onions are cooked, pour them out from the pan and into the bowl with Egg. Season again with Salt & Pepper.
  6. Re-heat the pan with about 2 tbsp more of Olive Oil over medium high heat. Once heated, pour the entire mixture into the pan. Reduce the heat to low. Let the egg cook for 10 minutes covered.
  7. While the egg is cooking on the stove, turn the broiler on.
  8. When the Omlette can be lifted without sticking, transfer it on a sheet pan and broil for 1-2 minutes until the top is slightly browned. I personally did not have a clean cast iron or metal skillet. If you have a one, just place the entire thing in the oven.
  9. Let it rest for 5 Minutes
  10. Slice into pies or however you desire

Mine turned out thinner because the skillet I have is more shallow. It was still just as tasty – even better than the bar.


Beouf Bourguignon (Not Quite Julia Child – But Still Delicious)

October 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

I have always had an impression that Stew was a pain to make.  However, the rain and cold weather finally motivated me to dive into cooking one of my all time favorites. I just love the warm flavor – texture of softened baby carrots, potatoes, and tender chunks of beef. Pair it with a glass of red wine, and my stomach is a happy camper.

Stew just takes a long time.  If you cook it exactly as Julia Child would, it will be even longer, since her directions are very detailed. If you’ve watched Julia & Julia, you know what I mean. However, after excluding some of Julia Child’s steps in her recipe (i.e. Lardons aka Bacon)  – turns out Stew is one of the easiest dishes to make.

Ingredients for 4 Servings:

– 1 1/3 lb of Beef (Rump or Chuck): All Natural Available between $5.00-$6.00 at Sprouts Farmers market.

– Beef Stock: All Natural Also Available at Sprouts for $2.00/32 Oz – On Sale

– Potatoes: $0.69/lb +/- at Sprouts (I like Yukon Gold) – You’ll need about 3-4.

-A Bag of Organic Baby Carrots: $1.50/bag at Sprouts Farmers Market

– Red Wine: You can use old wine that has been stored in Fridge, or I used Trader Joe’s Charles Shaw Cabernet Sauvignon @ $2.00/bottle.

-1 Whole Onion

– Butter, Salt, Pepper


1. Cube Beef Rump or Chuck. Cube the Potatoes. Quart the Onion.

2. Heat Butter (about 2 Tbsp) on Medium High Heat in a pan. Once the pan is heated, brown the Beef chunks until all the pink disappears.

3. Put the Browned Beef in a deep pot with carrots, onions, and potatoes and turn heat onto medium.  Cook for about 5 Minutes.

4. While the Beef & Veggies are cooking – pour 1 +/- cup of red wine into the pan that cooked the beef. Make sure the pan is still left on Medium High Heat.  Turn off the heat once the wine is poured, and this will create a glaze or as I understand it, a red wine reduction. Pour the reduction into the pot with Beef & Veggies.

5. Pour the Beef Stock until it barely covers the Beef & Veggies. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low. Put a lid on it, and let it cook for 2 Hours. I checked on it ever 30 min. Add beef stock if needed. But for a thicker stew, it’s fine if left alone.

After 2 Hours (I couldn’t help myself after 1.5hrs) the beef should be tender and the veggies should be soft, which means it’s ready to eat!

Stay Warm This Fall & Winter Season 🙂


Tomato Basil Pizza

February 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

Pizza is one food that I can most likely eat of the remainder of my life, especially thin crust pizza. And, sometimes I eat pizza just for the comforting tomato sauce.

I have yet to make my own dough. For now, I’ll have to use Trader Joe’s pizza dough that only costs $1.29.  I still need to master the homemade pizza sauce, but again, Trader Joe’s pizza sauce will be just fine ($2.29).

I am a fan of vegetable pizzas: Eggplant Pizza; Veggie Supreme; Artichoke; or just the simple Tomato and Basil, which is what I made this evening.

Right now, Roma Tomatoes are on sale for $0.50 per pound and a box of Trader Joe’s fresh basil is $2.29 (this will also be used for Tomato Basil Soup).

The process:

Preheat the Oven to 450 degrees and let the dough soften.

1. Roll out the dough.  I used to use a tumbler to roll the dough, however, I found the dough still too thick.

Here’s the trick to thin crust pizza: You have to break off the dough in smaller rounds and stretch it out with your hands as you should. (If you have already figured this out, props to you, but it took me a few tries to realize that.) Make sure your hands are coated with flour so the dough doesn’t stick. Once the dough is thin, lay it out on the baking sheet.

2. Layer the dough with pizza sauce.

3. Top with mozzarella. I have been thinly slicing mozzarella instead of using the shredded version.  Trader Joe’s whole mozzarella is about $3.29 and it is delicious.

4. Then layer on the thinly sliced tomato and basil leaves.  Bake for 8 Minutes and up to 10 or 12 for well done.

IT IS SO EASY and definitely less expensive than a gourmet pizza you would pay at a restaurant.

Breakfast Burrito

January 29, 2012 § 2 Comments

Breakfast is one of the best meals I make, especially when it involves eggs and potatoes. After preparing those two ingredients a few different ways (Omelette, Roasted Potatoes, Scrambled Eggs) I came to a conclusion that the Breakfast Burrito is a perfect marriage of of the egg and potato It is even faster to make.

So this is what I learned from trial and error.


1. One Russet Potato is enough to feed 4-6 and it costs $0.88 (sometimes even less) per pound at Sprout’s Farmers Market

2. Use about 4 Eggs to 1 Potato | a dozen eggs cost $1.49 at Trader Joe’s

3. Onions (or Shallots), Bell Peppers, and Garlic are a must. How much you want to use is up to you. (Very inexpensive )

4. Flour Tortillas (I prefer to use La Fe Flour Tortillas available also at Sprouts)

5. Salt, Pepper, Salsa, and Avocado to finish


1. Rinse Potato and make sure that all the dirt is off

2. Heat about 2 tablespoons of butter of medium heat in a non stick pan. Using butter is important because it will allow the potato to crisp.  Olive oil dries out too quickly.

3. While the pan is heating, dice the potato into half inch cubes (you want the cubes to be small so there is less cook time)

4. Throw the potato cubes into the pan.  While that is cooking, chop up the bell pepper, onion, and garlic.

Note:  In the past I used to cook them first thinking that there would be more flavor.  However, I realized that since the potato takes longer to cook the pepper, onion, and garlic were burnt by the time the potatoes were done cooking. So make sure that the potato is golden, then put in the trio.

Tip: Cover the potato so it will soften faster.

5. Occasionally stir the potato to make sure all sides are golden. While it is continuing to cook, beat 4 eggs.

6. Add the eggs when you are able to halve the thickest potato with your spatula.  This means that it is almost done cooking. Give 5 minutes for the eggs to cook.   Season with salt and pepper.

Note: Sometimes when I have ham or left over bacon available, I’ll chop them up and toss them with the mix.

7. Heat the tortillas over the breakfast burrito mix (easier and more energy efficient than turning on the oven).

8. Plate, top with avocado, salsa, cheese (or whatever you desire) wrap it, then your done!


Linguine w/ Asparagus & Artichoke

January 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

Did I mention how much I enjoy pasta??? Even though my people (the ancient Chinese) introduced Pasta to Marco Polo who brought it to the West, I think I may have been an Italian in one of my past lives.

Asparagus and Artichoke are two of my favorite vegetables. My craving for the two inspired this dish, and it’s really easy to make.


All you need is about less than 1 lb. of Asparagus (fresh from Trader Joe’s) and 1 can of artichoke hearts (also from Trader Joe’s).  Cost for this is about $5.00.

You can use the pasta of your choice; I chose Linguine ($1.00/box)

Sauce – I LOVE GARLIC BUTTER SAUCE for this recipe.

All you need is about 5 large garlic cloves (+/-) depending on how much you love it. White wine, few tablespoons of butter, few tablespoons of olive oil, and lemon.


Wash, trim, and cut Asparagus. Blanch Asparagus.

Boil pasta according to directions

Once the Pasta is done, drain it and save about 2 cups of Pasta Water.

Next, in a saute pan melt butter over medium heat then add garlic.  One the mixture is sizzling pour wine.  I really don’t know how much wine I pour, but enough where it is aromatic and mellow (maybe 1/4 cup?). Reduce the heat to simmer.  Add pasta and asparagus to the sauce then toss. Finally,  add the artichoke hearts (make sure to rinse before adding).  Season with Salt and Pepper. Finish it with pasta water and continue tossing until the pasta is coated with the sauce.

Plate and top with Parmesan  and a squeeze of lemon.


Salted Hot Chocolate w/ Cinnamon Marshmallows

December 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

This year’s popular Fine Dining (Pamplemousse Grille) dessert is sea salted chocolate caramels.

I was told that the Pastry Chef spends hours hand dipping caramel squares in chocolate then finishing it with sea salt. Again, I wish I had time to create those delicious mouth watering pieces.

The next best thing I thought of is Salted Hot Chocolate. I’ll be honest, I’ll buy Swiss Miss or Nestle hot cocoa packets (my budget will one day afford Starbucks Hot Cocoa Mix). I boil water and add the mix.

Now, this is when the Chef in me gets creative. I add half and half to make the beverage richer. I add a dash of sea salt . Then finish the cocoa with large cinnamon dusted marshmallows. Yum….perfect beverage for a cold Fall and Winter night.