When I told most people I went to Sri Lanka for our honeymoon, most people’s response was either “where is that?” or “why?” Sure, it’s not your typical honeymoon destination like Bora Bora or Europe, and in all fairness, I knew very little about small island country in the Indian Ocean before we planned this trip. But, Sri Lanka seemed to have it all: tropical beaches, incredible wildlife, ancient ruins, lush green countrysides, a rich culture and history, not overly touristy, oh, and rice and curry, egg hoppers, tropical fruits and tea, tea and more tea! As you can imagine, exploring Sri Lankan cuisine was a big reason for us as well. Now that we’re back, I can’t stop raving about the country we fell in love with and have found myself actively persuading all my friends and family to go to Sri Lanka for their next vacation. Our trip was 2 weeks, which is enough time to see most of a majority of the country. Today, I’m sharing my highlights from Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital and Galle, an old preserved Dutch fort in southern Sri Lanka.
I will be the first to admit that I was very skeptical of sous vide cooking. For those not familiar with this method, you basically cook a piece of food in a vacuum sealed plastic bag in low temperature water for a long period of time, which both cooks food evenly at a perfect level of doneness and retains juice and flavor. The whole thing always seemed like a lot work and extra equipment I didn’t have time or room in my kitchen for. But, sous vide machines nowadays are sleeker, smaller and technologically savvy. The machine itself is a small stick that you can place in a container or pot that you already have. You do need special equipment in addition to the sous vide machine itself — sous vide bags and a vacuum pump. There are plenty of options on Amazon, but these are the ones I used. I use a Joule and it syncs up to an app on your phone so once you place the food in water, the app calculates the time required (depending on what you’re cooking) and keeps a timer for you. In full disclosure, Joule sent me this machine, but I absolutely fell in love with it– I don’t think I’ve ever cooked this much steak. Each steak just consistently turned out so juicy, tender and evenly cooked. I couldn’t believe I went this long without sous vide! And it’s a very forgiving method of cooking– you really can’t F this up. I am a total sous vide convert and today I’m sharing with you how to sous vide a ribeye steak. Some people have recipes that add aromatics or seasoning to the steak in the cooking process but I love just a simple salt and pepper (and truly, you don’t need anything else when you’re using this cooking method) and different condiments and sauces like fresh horseradish, sesame oil, something spicy like Crunch Dynasty or yuzu kosho— hands down my favorite condiment to eat with steak!
I finally found a use for that melon baller that’s been sitting around in the back of the drawer for years! Come on, you know it’s in there. Bingsu is a popular frozen dessert in Korea, usually composed of shaved ice, and several toppings such as fruit, condensed milk, syrups, chocolate, cereal, powders, grains, etc. In fact, the word bingsu in Korean translates to shaved ice. Traditional bingsu, also called patbingsu, is made with shaved ice topped with sweet red bean paste. As you can imagine, there are now hundreds of bingsu variations. And while all delectable shaved ice concoctions are worth a try in my opinion, I’ve recently fallen in love with melon bingsu. So when I walked into Monterey Market last week, and the smell of fresh melons smacked me upside the head, I knew what I had to do . . . it was melon baller time!! Instead of sweetening the bingsu by drizzling with condensed milk (which often is the case), I made a sweet iced coconut milk using a little simple syrup. Top with juicy melon balls, and a scoop of coconut ice cream, and you’re in business. Trust me, it’s so refreshing!! Plus, you know it’s finally summer when you get to eat a frozen treat out of a melon bowl. Am I right?! 🙂
If you haven’t noticed yet, I’m a bit obsessed with infusing my desserts with tea. My go-to is usually Earl Grey (I just love the subtle bergamot flavor) and I’ve done an Earl Grey crème brûlée before. This time, I thought I’d change up this simple crème brûlée with oolong tea. I had never thought to use oolong tea, a lightly roasted tea– slightly floral and full-bodied, in a dessert, until I had Humphry Slocombe’s Oolong tea ice cream that changed my life. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but I still think about that ice cream to this day. This oolong tea crème brûlée had all the silky rich texture and subtle fragrant tea flavor that I loved in the ice cream with the added caramelized crunchy sugar. If you haven’t experimented with tea and desserts, I think you’re going to love this one!
I recently watched an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown where he was dining at a restaurant in Rome with some friends and their baby daughter. Bourdain remarked how one huge difference he’s noticed between living in Italy and living in New York is that in Italy people are happy to see kids out at restaurants. Now, I’ve yet to visit Italy since becoming a dad, but I just love the idea that children are a welcome addition to the dining scene. While it’s certainly no Rome, Berkeley does have its fair share of family friendly restaurants, which is great, given that since day one we’ve committed to taking Fiona out to eat with us. Lately, one of our favorite places has been a burger spot called Farm Burger. Not only are their burgers always on point, but they have a pretty big play area for the little ones in the corner of the dining room! And while I’m proud to say that Fiona can (and will) sit patiently through a whole meal and entertain herself without the use of a screen, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a place for her to escape to and make friends. Another thing I love about Farm Burger is they always have a couple ground chicken burgers on their menu. Looking at their menu right now they have chicken burger with smoked gouda, sherry-date bbq sauce, kale coleslaw, and crispy onions. Umm, yes please!! This particular version I made for you today was, you guessed it, inspired by a special I tried on a recent visit. Note: I’ve made a few tweaks to the recipe since photographing the burgers below, so I apologize in advance for any confusion. Just know that these would make a killer addition to any grilling festivities you have planned for the coming holiday weekend . . . oh, and don’t forget to bring the kids! 😉
My love affair with passionfruit started in Taiwan when I would visit my grandparents. When passionfruit are in season, they are everywhere and so cheap. Just a few bucks will buy you heaps of passionfruit. Coming from the States, I had never experienced passionfruit in its raw form and was instantly hooked. I would tear through them and soon became an expert-speed-passionfruit eater, tearing off the tops and just squeezing the pulps and seeds into my mouth. I know, I sound like a mad woman. That’s how much I love passionfruit. Although my favorite way of eating passionfruit is pouring them over yogurt, just how my grandmother would eat them every morning. This recipe turns this breakfast version into a frozen sweet treat. For me, the crunchy seeds are part of the joy of eating passionfruit but you could easily strain them out. These are ridiculously easy to make and the combination of creamy tangy sweet yogurt with tart passionfruit is just perfection!