Do-It-Yourself Dumplings

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Brothers and sisters, I have seen the light! All these years, these years of reading Calvin Trillin (the poet laureate of dumplings) and fake nodding as my Manhattanite friends (ones who grew up here) debated dumpling dives, I faked an interest that didn’t really exist. You see, I didn’t really get the big deal. What’s so great about dumplings? Aren’t they just glorified ravioli, greasy gut-bombs that you dip in soy sauce and that make you feel gross and un-full and desperate for a salad? This, of course, is sacrilege in the food world but my confession here is a precursor for an absolute conversion that came about because of a little web show called Working Class Foodies.

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Momofuku’s Ginger Scallion Noodles

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Bow down before me, mortals, it’s time to face facts. David Chang is one of the most celebrated, important chefs in New York, right? Right. His cooking is hardcore and bad-ass isn’t it? It is. So what does it mean that a mere amateur like me, a tiny speck on the giant tapestry of New York gastronomy, not only created one of Chang’s signature dishes at home–his Ginger Scalllion Noodles–but that I did it so accurately? So triumphantly? So magnificently? It means, I surmise, that I am the King of Awesomeness! BOW DOWN BEFORE ME, YOU HEATHENS.

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Sweet and Sour Chicken

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My proudest kitchen moments are the ones where I am at my most resourceful. On Sunday, I opened my refrigerator to find two raw chicken breasts leftover from a chicken segment we shot for food2.com. The easy option would’ve been to roast them in the oven (I was going to write “bake them in the oven,” but doesn’t roasted chicken always sound better than baked chicken?), but instead I decided to channel my inner Chinese cooking goddess. I flipped open my copy of “The Breath of a Wok” by Grace Young and looked for recipes you can do easily with chicken breasts. I found one for Sweet & Sour Chicken and, even though I didn’t have a wok or several of the ingredients, I proceeded anyway. This is my story.

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Rice + Pineapple = Dinner + Dessert

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Innovation in the kitchen is not my forte: I like to follow recipes. But every now and then I am lazy and home on a weekend and unmotivated to shop. It’s then that I open my cabinets and my refrigerator and see if I have enough on hand to whip something up.

And it just so happened that last weekend, I had a tub of basmati rice and leftover pineapple from my pineapple with molasses and lime zest. Here’s what I did: I cooked that rice according to the package directions. I chopped up some ginger, some onions and some celery and got my cast iron skillet really hot (next time, I’ll just use my non-stick pan). I added vegetable oil, tossed in the veggies, and cooked them a bit; then I added half the rice. I moved the rice around and then let it sit so it started getting crusty. I also added some Sriracha and soy sauce. While that was cooking, I cut up the leftover pineapple and when the fried rice started looking like fried rice I tasted it and liked it; then I added the pineapple and stirred it around, turning off the heat. Voila! Pineapple fried rice.

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Kimchi Fried Rice

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The road to dinner may be paved with good intentions (something healthy), bad intentions (something naughty), but most frequently it’s paved with whatever you have lying around. And in my case, a few days ago, that happened to be kimchi and rice. The rice I keep with the pasta and polenta as an always-on-hand base for dinner–at the very least I can always make rice and beans, pasta with nutmeg and butter, and polenta with cheese if all else fails. Sometimes, though, I have an ingredient that pairs perfectly with a base–like broccoli rabe last week, which paired perfectly with penne–and, this week, kimchi which goes very well with rice.

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Make Your Own Chicken Burrito

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Running on the treadmill, it’s useful to dangle an image carrot in your brain: something you can run towards, something to look forward to, a reward for all your hard work. And last week, for me, that was definitely a chicken burrito. I was craving one, hardcore.

The problem is that where we live in Park Slope? The chicken burritos leave much to be desired. Craig is very much NOT a fan of Los Pollitos; I think it’s passable, but certainly not a reward for burning millions of calories on the treadmill. No, if I wanted a good chicken burrito, I’d have to make one myself.

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Kim Cooks Vietnamese (Bo Luc Lac & Cha Gio)

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I’ve known many people who want to be famous, but very few think about the kind of fame they want. For those of you who secretly crave fame, however big or small, may I suggest that you strive for food blogger fame? It’s a really good kind of fame. 99 out of 100 people have no idea who you are, and those that do know who you are like you for reasons that are based entirely on your work. The best part, though, is that people will want to cook for you. Isn’t that the best? I mean if you’re a famous novelist, what do you get? A free subscription to The New York Review of Books? Who wants that when you can have Kim Spurlock cook you dinner?

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Adam’s Asian Peanut Butter Sandwich

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Prepare to be repulsed or impressed or both! After leaving the movies yesterday (“Paris, je t’aime”), I was too full from popcorn to make something elaborate for dinner and too restless to get something to go. So I popped into my local late night organic food & drug store (seriously, there’s one on the corner) and bought peanut butter and bread: I was going to make peanut butter and jelly. But, as I continued home, I realized that after all that popcorn I wanted something green. And it was too late to buy anything fresh and green–the stores that sell green things were closed. So when I got into my apartment, I opened my fridge and saw the green onions and cilantro from the day before’s Otsu. What if I mixed the peanut butter with soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, lime juice (I had a lime), and sesame seeds and spread it on the bread and then topped it with some of those greens? It’d be like an Asian noodle salad except in sandwich form. And that’s exactly what I did and what you see above. It was flavorful and exotic and it required no more effort than making a PB&J. Are you impressed? Are you repulsed? Hey–you don’t have to make it. But if you do make it, make sure to give me credit: it’s my new signature sandwich.