Sunday, August 26, 2007

Khao Poon

One of my favorite dishes growing up is called Khao Poun. I'm not sure if I spelled that correctly. Basically it's a coconut milk and curry soup served over rice vermicelli. There are different variations to this dish. I don't have problems with eating pork so I used ground pork in my version. My father loved the ground pork with added pork skin. My mom loves using flaked fish for the protien. My sister-in-law and brother prefer using shredded chicken breast. Ground chicken or ground turkey works well too. Like many of the recipes my mom has passed down to me, there aren't exact measurements. She cooks by sight and by taste. I do the same except when it comes to baking.

1/3 can of red curry paste (or desired heat)
1 can of coconut milk
1 can of low sodium chicken broth
Ground Pork (about 1 lb.)
Kaffir Lime leaves
Lemon Grass
a pinch of sugar
fish sauce or salt
1 package of thin rice vermicelli
Optional Garnishes
Shredded cabbage or lettuce
Shredded carrots
Shredded banana blossom
Bean sprouts
Vietnamese corriander

In a large pot add a tablespoon of oil, 1/3 of the curry paste. Then add 1/2 can of coconut milk.

Add the ground pork, chopped lemon grass, minced shallot and garlic to the curry mixture.

Let the pork simmer and fully cook.

Add the remaining coconut milk and one can of low sodium chicken broth and the Kaffir Lime leaves, lemon grass and galangal. Let it simmer. At this time boil the rice vermicelli according to the package instructions. After the noodles cook, I take them and rinse witch cold water and form little bundles of noodles just to make it easier for serving.

To serve the dish, place 2 or 3 'bundles' of the noodles in a bowl. Add the spicy soup and garnish with the herbs, bean sprouts, long green bean, shredded vegetables (lettuce/cabbage, carrots and banana blossom)and lime slices.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Top Chef

I've been a fan of this show since the first season. I wish I liked the show for all the creative dishes the chefs come up with and all the great guest 'chef' judges, but that's not it at all. I love all the human interaction, the 'reality' of human behavior. To me it's like every office I've worked in. Everyone is out for themselves and would sabotage your projects, make you look bad in front of your superiors, and would sooner 'throw you under the bus'than be passed up for a promotion. And at the same time it's about food and cooks, so of course I would be a fan of this show. I have to say that season 3 top chef contestants bore me compared to the first 2 seasons, but I'm still enjoying it. If I had to guess who the top four chefs will be...I would have to say (in no particular order) Hung, Tre, Dale and CJ. I look forward to 'Restaurant Wars pt. Deux'. Goodluck my Top Chefs!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Nice Dish for the Summer Heat

One of my favorite Summer time dishes would be any kind of 'Asian Wrap'. This is my take on the Vietnamese Nem Noung Cuon. It was my first time at attempting this but I thought it turned out great. I'm not too sure about the eggroll skin. I was suppose to only 'fold' them like you would an envelope but I mistakenly rolled them.

Nem Nuong:
1 lb. ground pork
1 medium white onion, pureed
3 T fish sauce
2 T brown sugar
1 1/2 t ground black pepper
1 pkg rice paper
1 pkg of eggroll wrappers (you will only need a few sheets)
mixed greens and herbs
fish sauce

This recipe serves 4 people. I take the ingredients and combine them and form large patties. I think traditional, they are made into meatballs and skewered and grilled. I recommend rolling some of the meat mixture into a small ball and microwaving it to taste for flavor before you start making your patties.

Grill your patties. You can pan fry them too.

Prepare your eggroll wrappers.

Take rice paper and moisten it. Before I start rolling, I slice my patties into think strips and I prepare my vegetables and herbs by washing and spinning them dry. I also slice up seedless cucumbers.

What I did was topped my moistened rice paper with the pork, then the eggroll wrapper, which I slightly crushed, cucumber, mint, cilantro, and red leaf lettuce.

I served the Nem Noung Cuon with a fish sauce for dipping.
Nuoc Man Cham:
1 C water
4 T vinegar
4 T sugar
5 T fish sauce
1 T finely chopped garlic
2 small chili peppers, chopped

Boil the water, vinegar and sugar. Take off heat after sugar dissolves and add remaining ingredients. Let cool.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sundays are meant for going to church and having dinner with the family. I love bringing along a dessert to share. Some days I get too busy to fuss over a fancy or time consuming dessert so I whip up easy chocolate chip cookies. My recipe makes a soft center cookie with a crunchy edge. I like it because it's not a flat cookie.

Chocolate Chip Cookies:

1/2 C butter, at room temperature
1/2 C shortening
1/2 C brown sugar
1/2 C white sugar
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
1 t pure vanilla extract
1 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
2 C flour
1 1/2 C chocolate chips, you can use real or semi-sweet

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. In a mixing bowl, beat both sugars, butter and shortening until fluffy. In a seperate bowl sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Add dry ingredients to butter/sugar mixture using a wooden spoon. Mix until evenly combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto baking sheet and bake for 15-18 minutes or until edges turn golden. Let cool on sheets.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Saturday Night Dinner

No plans on a Saturday night, so I decided to cook some chicken fried rice and (cream cheese) eggrolls. For the fried rice I followed the recipe from WOKME and omitted the corn kernels and peas. And I served the eggrolls with sweet chili sauce. Everything turned out great. I have a weakness for chicken fried rice. I've only had really good chicken fried rice once and it was way back in highschool at a restaurant called the Grand Cafe. I've only been back there once since and the food was not the same, it was horrible. I had ordered beef lo mein and what I got tasted like beef stroganoff. I was embarrassed for the restaurant and I felt stupid for ordering it.

Banh Bao

The Chinese call them Baozi, I think. The Veitnamese version is the banh bao. These wonderful pillows of goodness remind me of my childhood. My parents and I would drive to Broadway & Argyle in Chicago to buy groceries and they would get me these goodies. I preferred the sweet char siu pork filling. My parents enjoyed the filling with the savory pork, shiitake mushrooms, chinese sausage and hard boiled egg. I think the ones with red dots on them are filled with sweet bean paste. Maybe one day I'll be brave enough to attempt these steamed buns.

Comic Con International 2007


Preview Night (Wednesday)
I really did not know what to expect the first time there. I had never been to the convention center before. I remember seeing it on tv and in movies, I think in 'the Net' starring Sandra Bullock. But other than that had no idea what to expect. I arrived there around 5:30 to pick up my 'badge' and to check out the exhibit hall. I felt really stupid for repeatly getting in the wrong line (that happened daily it seemed). I think maybe signs should've been posted at the main entrance doors stating 'pregistered attendees go to door xyz' 'onsite registeration go to door abc' 'industry preregistered go to door lmn' etc. I was just absolutely confused! And for all the 'ushers/secuity' people they hired, why did they not have someone constantly checking the lines and shouting this line is only for such and such. It only took 10-15 minutes to get my pass and then I went downstairs to the exhibit hall and wandered around. My favorite part of the exhibit hall was the section where they sold back issues of comic books. In the past, I have collected DC, Marvel, Image, Wildstorm and Vertigo comics. So imagine my delight when I saw the 99 cent section. Unfortunately they didn't have the issues of Ascension, Avatars, and ESPers. Okay, I am a comic book geek!

Day 1 - First Day of Comic Con
The first panel I attended was the 'DVD SneakPeak' where different movie producers spoke about their special edition dvds that were being released. The panel consisted of producers Charles d Lauzirika (BLADE RUNNER: THE FINAL CUT, TWIN PEAKS: THE COMPLETE SERIES), Robert Meyer Burnett (SHOOT ‘EM UP, VALKYRIE), Javier Soto (HELLBOY 2) and Bill Hunt and Todd Doogan of They showed clips from the mentioned dvds. I have to admit I am a huge Blade Runner fan. I love the sets. In a way, much of today’s Japanese animations remind me of Blade Runner, like Ghost in the Shell. And I loved Twin Peaks, eventhough I didn’t not get to catch all of the series. I do know who killed Laura Palmer,hehe.

The next panel I attended was the Paramount Studios presentation. I could not believe the line. It was rather disorganized. The line for Hall H, was wrapped around the building. The line was confusing, I did not know where the end was. The hall holds 6,500 people and I was the part of the last 50 people they let in. I was thrilled! Plus they gave us gift bags with a bunch of t-shirts, movie passes, comic books and some other things.

These were the movies that were discussed:

Hot Rod – Andy Samberg and 2 other actors from the movie showed scenes from the movie and did some Q&A. They were very funny.

Beowulf – The trailer was shown.

Stardust – free movie passes were given out for an advance showing for the that night.

The Spiderwick Chronicles – the producers and artist was there to show the design and ideas behind the goblins. This movie looks really good. It’s about a little boy that finds a book and opens up a whole new world of magical creatures.

Iron Man – They showed a trailer and some scenes. What they showed did not show any cgi. I didn’t care for it at all. I didn’t follow Iron Man comics as a child, I’m more into X-Men and Silver Surfer. Plus I can’t stand Robert Downy Jr.

Indiana Jones – they showed a tape (they said it was a live feed) of Steven Spielburg, Harrison Ford, Ray Winstone, Karen Allen and Shia LaBeouf.

Star Trek – they announced that Zachary Quinto would play Spock. And Leonard Nimoy would be in the movie.

The third panel I attended was for Lionsgate Studio. This was an interesting one, not for it’s movies but for the guests on the panel. I’ll get into that in a second. When I was let into the first panel, I sat in the last row (literally). So I didn’t have any pictures of any of the panels for the first day. Back to the panel.

1. Good Luck Chuck – the stars, Dan Cook and Jessica Alba were there. She was sweet and very pretty. He was surprisingly funny and came off very intelligent. All I could think about were all the horrible, mean blogs Perez Hilton wrote about Jessica Alba. Or maybe she was just really good at faking it. Either way, I’m glad I gave up on my celebrity gossip websites. Well about the movie, it is a comedy. Jessica revealed that she had chipped a tooth during shooting and how has a fake tooth. Poor girl. During the Q&A this guy approached the mic. He was present at previous Q&A’s. He got a good laugh from the audience due to his ‘get up’ and his line of questioning.

2. 3:10 to Yuma – It is a cowboy story. Peter Fonda and Ben Foster and the film’s producers where there. I thought Peter Fonda came off as being strange, really strange, but not as strange as to what came next.

3. Midnight Meat Train – Horror film. This panel by far was the most entertaining and it had nothing to do with the movie. Some of the cast plus Clive Barker where there. They showed clips of the movie and the trailer. It looks horrific. Something I would watch with my hands over my eyes. Well first off, Clive Barker almost had to be helped into this seat. And when he did speak, he didn’t even sound like the Clive Barker I remember in interviews way back when Nightbreed had first been released. I know that was maybe 15 years ago. Clive’s voice sounded like he was a harsh cigarette smoker. And then his answers to questions did not make any sense. Everyone around me thought he was on drugs. It was embarrassing for the the cast I bet.

4. Saw 4 – The director and producer were there along with jigsaw! It was great. They showed the first 10-15 minutes of the new movie. It looks as good as the first one. I do not like horror movies, but I think my significant other will enjoy it.

The next panel I had wanted to attend was for the Movie, “Fanboys”. I went to the room and noticed the line was wrapped around twice and only 15 minutes till they started so I figured I would just go downstairs and check out the exhibit hall. I went for a walk around the Gaslamp District and then went to wait in line for Superman Doomsday which I could not get into because the line was too long. So I went home.

Oh there is something funny I have to share. During my trolley ride to the convention center, I saw a guy on the sidewalk just waking up and picking and dragging his cardboard home. That wasn’t the funny part. The funny part was that his pants, at least the back of them were pulled down below his buttocks. So he was completely exposed. Didn’t he feel a breeze?

Day 2

I learned from the first day to get into the lines super early. So, the first panel I wanted to attend this day started at 10:30 So I got there at 9am. Nope, I was wrong. This line went around the building all the way to the back. I did get in, I was excited. It was for Warner Bros. Studios.

1. Invasion – They showed the trailer.

2. One Missed Call – Edward Burns and Shannyn Sassoman were there to discuss the movie. It’s about a serial killer or something like that. I can’t remember if it’s supposee to be supernatural. Edward Burn’s sister was killed and now Shannyn Sassoman’s character is the next victim. Sossoman as I remembered was in A Knight’s Tale playing Heath Ledger’s love interest. And Edward Burns…he’s been in a few forgettable movies. They were completely boring and she was very nervous. But they gave out free iPhones! Just to the people that asked questions. So I didn’t get one.

3. Get Smart – From the tv series. The panel consisted of Steve Carell, the Rock, Masi Oka and I think Nate Torrence. They were hilarious. OMG Steve Carell is really funny. And Dwayne ‘the Rock’ Johnson was great too. He was exactly like the character he played in the “Rundown.”

During the Q&A this guy came up. He was present all week at various panels as well.

At the New Line Cinemas Panel, Director Michael Davis and actor Clive Owen discussed their movie, ‘Shoot ‘Em Up’ . They showed different scenes from the movie. They movie is nonstop action and gunfire. It’s great! Free movie passes were given out and again I could not make it to the movie that night. But I guess since the line was so long for it, they showed it twice and the director even stayed outside while the movie played to talk with the movie goers until the next showing.

I then went to wait in line for the Boondocks panel. I was lucky and didn’t have to wait. I sat down and waited for it to begin. The panelists included the creator, voice talent and producer of the show. They showed a trailer for the 2nd season and then took questions. It was very amusing, they were extremely funny and did some of the voices. They revealed which characters were returning for season 2, like Snoop Dog. I had to attend this panel, just so I could get an idea of what was behind the creation of this cartoon. I can’t imagine that myself (being Asian) and coming out with a show that made of fun of other Asians. Aaron McGruder/the creator didn’t come out and say that he was trying to raise awareness of different racial issues. But there are times that I can’t laugh about Asian jokes. I mean, I admit I’m a bad driver (I drive the speed limit) and yeah I eat some strange food but it’s not like I eat cats/dogs/horse. But I can’t laugh at jokes that depicts my culture as being uneducated, ill mannered, single minded, and a culture that degrades women and only views them as sex objects, referring to them as bitches and ho’s. That being said…Aaron McGruder and his crew do put out an amusing cartoon and their appearance at comic con was entertaining.

After Boondocks, I got up and left to get some food. I was starving, but I made the mistake of buying food at the Convention Center. Everything was overpriced and made me sick.

After ‘dinner’ I walked around and took some pictures and then went to wait in line to watch the Dr. Strange animation. It was a Marvel Comics presentation and I have to say I was embarrassed for them. I like Teen Titans on Cartoon network more than I liked this movie. I know that’s harsh but the story was awful and the animation wasn’t very good. Plus I never did follow that particular comic book although I remember one of my brothers having maybe 1 issue.

Day 3

By the third day I figured out that if I didn’t bring my own food or drink, I should go to Ralph’s grocery store which is only 4 blocks from the convention center and pick up food for the entire day. They have a great deli and bakery. And a very nice produce section. And the prices were
very reasonable.

I then went to wait in line to see the Bionic Woman premiere episode and they had the actors and producers there to answer questions. The line was ridiculous but I got in! I only really wanted to get in so that I would have a seat for the Heroes panel that would be in the same hall later that day. And it was a good thing I got there super duper early because I met a ton of people that didn’t get in for the Heroes panel. I actually wanted to catch the Pushing Up Daisies premiere but didn’t want chance missing Heroes (okay I’m such a geek I know). Back to Bionic Woman. I liked it all except that they made Jamie Summers a bartender. I liked the actress’ portrayal of the deaf sister but from what I read on the internet prior to going to comic con, the producers decided to replace the actress and change the sister from being deaf to hearing. I liked the story line of the ‘first bionic woman – Sarah Corvis’, and did I mention Will Yun Lee is in it? I liked his character from the Witchblade series, but I think the only things I recall seeing him in recently are Torque and a Mariah Carey video. My brother thinks this series will last maybe six episodes. Who knows.
The next program was TV Guide’s Hot List. The panel consisted of actors and producers/directors from various ‘hot’ tv shows like Heroes, Bionic Woman, Jericho, Kyle XY, and I think there were two other shows that I can’t think of now.

In this Hall, I managed to sit in the row behind these two older gentlemen I had met the day before while standing in line for the Paramount program. The one in the glasses is Joe, I can’t remember the other man’s name. They are from Santa Barbra. Joe is some kind of consultant and he brought down his entire office for the convention. What a nice boss.

At the Heroes panel, all the stars that I wanted to see were there: Greg Grunberg,Masi Oka, James Kyson Lee, Sendhil Ramanurthey, Jack Coleman, Adrian Pasdar, Milo Ventimiglia, Ali Larter, Zachary Quinto, Hayden Panettiere, and Noah Gray Cabey. And Tim Kring was there. They seem like such a close knit family. And they looked like they were having so much fun. There were a bunch of freebies given out during the Q&A. I am a fan of this show and was glad that I got to experience this. Oh one thing for sure that I learned, I don’t care for Hayden Panettiere. Everyone else was pretty likeable (Ali, Masi, Greg, Jack, Noah and Adrian) and gracious. During the Q&A session, I noticed that Greg was whispering into Adrain’s ear and pointing out to the audience. Then some guy gets up there and asks questions about if any of the actors ever went into work fearing they would be killed off because being kicked off a popular show or having it canceled would suck. Well after he asked the question, he walked off to go back to his seat I’m guessing. As for the panelists, they were all speechless. The rest of the audience got up to see who it was that had asked the bitter question. It was Danny Bonaduce.

So after the panel I left since I was not interested in the Battlestar Galactica panel. As I was exiting the room, I was behind Danny Bonaduce. I thought it was funny. Nobody recognized him until they saw me and 3 others snapping his picture.

The next panel was Supernatural. It was a ridiculously long line for a small room. But it was either wait in this line or wait in line for Marvel Comics and that line was 4 times longer. I picked Supernatural because I had just ‘discovered’ this show during my visit to IL at the beginning of this summer. I found myself interested in the adventures of the two brothers in hunting down demons or spirits. I have only seen 5 episodes so far but I try to catch them when they come on. The producers, director and one of the actors were there. I don’t recall them saying they were showing anything new, since it was all new to me because I have only seen 5 episodes and the show is starting season 3. I did not take any pictures since I was far away from the stage and the room was poorly lit.

Next I ran downstairs to wait in line for the Columbia/Screen Gems Panel. It was such a long line but I got in. I enjoyed this panel. I can’t remember the order of it now. They showed a trailer for Resident Evil: 3. Then the director, producer came out along with a couple of actors. They introduced Milla Jovovich and she came out in her red dress that she wears in the first movie. But then looking closely at her, we realized that it isn’t her because 15 more women in the same dress and wig come out then the real Milla comes out and she’s in a white dress and pregnant. I have to say, I really liked how Milla presented herself and Ali Larter too. They were both so nice, polite, gracious, intelligent and you could tell they really like the fans. They all thanked the fans for being there. Not all panelists did that. The movie looks good. I am curious about it since it looks like it all takes place in the dessert (Las Vegas).

30 Days of Night – OMG this movie looks good. It’s based on the graphic novel by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith. It takes place in Alaska where a town is attacked by Vampires just as 30 days of night begins in this small Alaska town. Josh Hartnet and Ben Foster star in this movie. It looks GOOD! I want to see it.

Super Bad – They showed a trailer and different scenes. I have to admit this movie is hilarious. It pokes fun at high school teenagers. Judd Apatow and Evan Goldberg where on the panel along with the actors, Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Charlyne Yi (from ‘Knocked-Up”). They were all entertaining and fun. During the Q&A several women expressed wanting to have Michael Cera’s baby.

Comic Con Masquerade Ball - I didn’t attend the Ball or the Party. I had wanted to but I could not get a ticket and they were not letting in anymore people and I did not feel like going to the party because the thought of being around teenagers in costumes and acting loud did not appeal to me. So after a long day at Comic Con I went home. I thought I had read somewhere that they would rebroadcast the Ball on Sunday, but they did not.

Day 4

The last day, I opted to only attend 2 panels and spend one last time in the exhibit hall looking at comic books and look for artists that I was familiar with. The first panel was “Supernatural Women” which had Lucy Lawless, Allison Dubois, Jennie Biard, and a couple of women producers and writers of sci-fantasy, supernatural shows. This was one of my top favorite programs to attend. I really loved hearing from the producers/writers and Allison Dubois should’ve had her own program, that woman is so interesting. I think I may go out and buy one of her books. Allison is the real life inspiration for the NBC show ‘Medium’. Lucy Lawless was so fun and funny to listen to. During the presentation her cell phone rang and she was hilarious, saying ‘yah it’s me’. And she even did the Xena yell at the end! I had no idea she was on the show ‘Battlestar Galactica’. I don’t follow that show. And Jennie Biard is the newcomer on ‘the 4400.’

The next panel was the 4400. I only remember that the main characters weren’t there. But they showed a lot of spoilers, which was great. The show really was good in the beginning and then it started to lose me but the end of last season sucked me back and so far I have loved this new season. Great writing/story arcs. I didn’t take any pictures at this panel because the room started to fill up and this really rude woman with 5 bags and a huge paparazzi type camera sat next to me and basically had her bags ‘in my space’. Where was I going to put my feet when her bags were where my feet are supposed to be placed? I will never understand why people can’t be more considerate. I actually saw very little of that at comic con, which surprised me. I met lots of nice people there.

I walked the exhibit hall and took some pictures, bought a few things for family and friends. And I tried to get these darn Superman bags that everyone had but me. I tried for days to get one but no such luck

I left the convention center shortly after giving up. Goodbye Comic Con. See you next year….maybe.