May 29, 2009

how to display your favorite photos

I have thousands of photos at home and many of which I'd love to hang on the wall. But somehow, it's difficult to come up with a system that actually looks good in real life. But this top/bottom line-up idea is brilliant. I think the credit goes to Martha Stewart, but I found the photo on Erin Vey's blog. By the way, if you have a dog, then you've probably heard of Erin. She's one of the most talented dog photographers I know! You'll love her work and her blog is a delight!

May 19, 2009

bo luc lac (vietnamese shaken beef)

This awesome recipe of one of my all-time favorite dishes is from my friend Chrystine who is an amazing chef! You'll love it!



- around 3 lbs of flank steak (serves 3) (*note* flank steak is very easy to use for shaking beef since it won't get chewy even when you overcook it)
- watercress (washed and rinsed)
- yellow onion (sliced)
- tomatoes (sliced)
- lime, salt, black pepper, cooking oil and some water (for salad dressing)
- a couple of slices of butter (salted real butter, not margarine) (optional)


- 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons of sugar
- 3 tablespoons of cooking oil
- 4-5 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
- plenty of black pepper


Wash and pat dry the flank steak then cut against the grain and then cubed into bitesize (can be varied on the size of the bite ;-D) . Mix the cut-up steak cubes in a bowl with the marinading ingredients then let it sit for a couple of hours for best result but if you don't have time to prepare in advance then it should be good marinaded for 45 minutes.

Cooking Instructions:

Use a regular pan (not the non-sticking kind) since you want the beef to *burn (brown) a little for the color and the aroma. Rinse the pan under running faucet then put the pan on high heat and wait til the water evaporates (this is just to indicate that the pan is hot enough to brown the beef). Put one batch (about a single serving size) of beef into the pan and stir with a wooden spatula and let it brown on both sides. When it's nice and brown and you can smell the aroma, throw in a slice of butter or two and pour onto your bed of watercress (prepared in advance, with slices of tomatoes and onions).


You can either make the dressing for the watercress salad (a combination of lime juice, water, salt, black pepper and cooking oil, shaken up well) or just leave it plain and use a soy sauce as dipping sauce or salt, pepper and lime juice as a dipping sauce.

PS - I personally love it with the watercress salad! ~ Sarah

ragout recipe

Can't remember where I got this wonderful recipe so my sincere apologies to the talented chef. If you happen to stumble upon this blog, please send me a note and I'll credit it appropriately. Thank you!



In Vietnam, this recipe also is made with pork ribs and beef tongue. Traditionally, the chicken version is made with whole chicken -- bones, skin and all -- for added flavor and richness.


--2 teaspoons minced garlic
-- 1/2 teaspoon salt
--2 tablespoons fish sauce
--2 tablespoons soy sauce
--1 tablespoon sugar
--1 1/2 pounds skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into bite-sized chunks
--2 tablespoons vegetable oil
--3 tablespoons butter
--2 shallots, sliced
--2 tablespoons tomato paste
--2 Roma tomatoes, cut into wedges
--3 cups chicken stock
--1 cup dry white wine or vermouth
--3 bay leaves
--2 carrots, cut into 1-inch rounds (about 1 1/2 cups)
--3 red potatoes, cut into wedges (about 2 cups)
-- 1/2 yellow onion, cut into wedges
--1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen peas or lima beans
--Salt to taste
--Cilantro for garnish


Combine the garlic, salt, fish sauce, soy sauce and sugar in a mixing bowl. Add the chicken and let marinate for 30 minutes. Heat the oil in a large skillet over moderate heat. Add the chicken and sear until the sides are nicely browned. Remove from heat and set aside. Heat the butter in a large saucepan over moderate heat. Add the shallots and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomato paste and the chicken and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, wine and bay leaves; simmer for 5 minutes. Add the carrots, potatoes and onion; simmer for 10 minutes. Add the peas, then simmer until meat and vegetables are done, about 5 minutes longer. Season with salt; garnish with cilantro leaves.

Serve with steamed rice or warm baguette. Serves 6.

Per Serving: 360 calories, 28 g protein, 27 g carbohydrate, 15 g fat (5 g saturated), 110 mg cholesterol, 164 mg sodium, 4 g fiber.

my favorite green beans recipe


1-1/2 lbs. green beans, trimmed
½ tsp. garlic, finely minced
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. virgin olive oil
1/3 cup Italian parsley, minced
Black pepper

Easy Steps:

1. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the green beans for 3 minutes or until they are tender-crisp. Do NOT overcook!
2. Drain the beans and plunge them into a bowl of ice water. Drain thoroughly and pat dry.
3. Saute the garlic in the butter and oil over moderately low heat until the garlic is golden. Add the beans and heat through.
4. Add parsley and pepper.


Choose brightly colored beans that have an unblemished surface. Fresher beans are generally fuzzier. Green beans should bend with a snap and have a spurt of juice at the seam. Store unwashed beans in an airtight bag in the refrigerator for up to four days.


The secret to good green beans is to blanch them in plenty of boiling water, rinse with cold water, and then dry thoroughly. Reheat with seasonings.