Look Mom, No Ricecooker!

patient on Flickr” href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/worldtotable/3902753286/”>homecooked chinese dinner

Hello World (to-Table fans). My name is Kelly, and I’m writing to you from my home away from home, Poughkeepsie, NY. My real home is actually in an apartment with my sister Veronica, creator of this blog. But I currently live with three friends in a house near Vassar College, where I am a student.

That’s enough about me. What about FOOD? Like my sister, I have acquired quite a refined palate, which is a blessing and a curse, as the dining hall that “nourished” me for four semesters is not cutting it anymore. Good-bye meal plan and hello kitchen!

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Elusive Sukhothai Noodles and a Recipe for Tom Yum

Meet Nat: globetrotting citizen of the world, seeker of delicious foods and our newest contributor to World to Table.  He’ll be sharing with you his travels, his recipes, and his unbridled love for food. — Veronica

My name is Nat, short for Natayada, and I’m from Thailand by way of America.   I was born in Bangkok and have lived in Europe and Africa, but now go back and forth between east and west.

My obsession with food came early. One of my first memories is of being in a kitchen in Paris as my mother and grandmother were debating how to make Thai dish taste right with the limited ingredients we could find.

Sukhothai 1

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Guava and Cheese

If you can’t tell from my previous posts, I have a thing for combining salty with sweet.  It was only recently that I was introduced to the classic Cuban combination of guava and cheese, a delicious marriage of white, creamy cheese and sweet, sticky guava paste, typically found tucked away in the buttery folds of flaky pastries.

While I was in Los Angeles last month, my friends Stephanie and Ashley brought me to Porto’s Bakery, a Cuban-style bakery in Glendale.  Going to Porto’s requires patience, usually a 10-15 minute wait on line before actually reaching the ordering counter.  I wasn’t in the mood for any ordinary pastry.  When it came time for me to order, I looked past the fruit tarts, eclairs, and cookies, and finally found what I was looking for: disguised as a normal Apple Strudel, the thick red paste and crumbly curds of cheese peeking out from the sides revealed its true identity–a Guava and Cheese Strudel.  Biting into the strudel, the pastry crumbled into crisp, delicate flakes.  After the first few bites, I reached the filling–a thick guava paste with a slight gritty texture, like drinking a can of Kern’s Guava Nectar but in paste-form, which paired so perfectly with a mildly salty and creamy cheese.

Guava and Cheese Strudel at Portos
Guava and Cheese Strudel at Porto’s Bakery

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The One-Pot Meal: Thai Coconut Galangal Chicken

Thai Coconut Galangal Chicken

When it comes to cooking (and eating), I am a big fan of the one-pot meal. From my mother’s “famous” tomato ox-tail stew to made-from-scratch chicken soup, there’s something about throwing a bunch of fresh ingredients into a pot, stirring them around, and inhaling that steady flow of aromatic steam that is extremely satisfying. It’s how I imagined cooking would be when I used to play house with my sister, and as I’ve grown older, I’ve discovered the joy of only cleaning one pot after dinner.

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Burgers, Gelato and a Recipe for Farm Frittata

Last Thursday a bunch of us city folks made a trip down south to Louisa, Virginia to stay at my friend Tristan’s family farm. We hopped on the Boltbus for a 4-hour wi-fi and coffee fueled journey down to Washington D.C. Arriving in the early afternoon, we spent the rest of the day walking, eating, visiting National monuments, and then eating some more. Greasy sliders from Matchbox were followed by gloriously juicy cheeseburgers at Ray’s Hell Burger—the beefy patty oozed with intense beef flavor. We concluded our day of eating at Dolcezza, a gelateria in Georgetown, where we cooled down with cups of gelato. The Blueberry Lemon Thyme and Lemon Opal Basil gelato burst with creamy, tart, and herbaceous flavors, waking me up from my sluggish summer lethargy.

Baby sliders topped with a mountain of fried onions

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Tea Cookies

I tasted my first tea cookie when my friend Tiffany started working at Amai Tea House (which is sadly now closed).  Amai’s tea cookies combined two of my favorite things—tea and cookies—so naturally they rank pretty high on my list of favorite edible things.  Having tried some of TWG‘s teas at a tea tasting at Dean & Deluca, I convinced TWG to supply some tea to serve at my launch party.  I decided I wanted to do more than simply serve tea as a drink.  So, not only did I serve the teas iced, I decided to make tea cookies to accompany the iced tea, for a mind-blowing total tea experience.

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Watermelon & Pickled Green Papaya Salad

Nothing else reminds me more of summertime than a fruit salad.  Chef Cedric Tovar’s watermelon and pickled green papaya salad is like taking a dip in the pool on a hot summer’s day.  Refreshingly sweet watermelon is paired with tangy pickled green papaya and is all tied together with a splash of WorldFoods Coconut and Lime Dressing to create a chorus of sweet, salty, and sour flavors that sing in your mouth.  Cedric made this at the launch party for World to Table, and it was so good I decided to make it again myself.

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