Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Our Recipe #7: What would you do if you have leftover beer? - How to use wok by Sally

Dear members,

Last week I just opened a can of beer left from a meetup several weeks ago. I usually don't drink beer because I've never developed a liking of beer, but that particular night I wanted to do something different to take my mind off something.sad

So I opened a can, and then I didn't like it as usual....So I had almost a whole can of beer unconsumed...But I don't really want to waste any food, that's my upbringing and culture, so I couldn't pour the beer down the drain and it was still sitting in my fridge becoming a real eyesore for me every time I see it..confused

And today I decided to attack this problem by organizing my thoughts about this leftover beer.

Have you ever been in the same kind of situation?

What would you do if you have leftover beer?

....Here are my ideas.

1. Beef cooked in beer

Especially Belgian people seem to know how to cook tough beef with beer as beer has tenderizing effect...

2. Pot Roast in Beer Marinade

3. Chinese chicken wings cooked in beer

4. Chicken thigh and vegetables cooked in beer with bay leaf

5. Chili

My chili recipe calls for Dark Ale, not regular beer, though.

6. Japanese miso pickles

Tonight I'll introduce Chinese chicken wings recipe. I got this from my Chinese friend. She's from Beijing, and was a good cook. It's past tense because she went back to Japan with her Japanese husband.. And I lost contact with them, which is really sad and one day I want to see her and her family again. They had two boys and because my sons were same age, they played together many times. Good old days for me..

Anyways, this is a very easy and simple recipe. Everything is eyeball, though.

Do you own a wok? If you do, that's very nice. If you don't, you can use other kind of pan, but it doesn't hurt to invest some money and buy this very versatile tool...As a matter of fact, I bought my wok at IKEA. And it cost only $10! Can you believe it?! A very gook kind of wok with nice handle...It also came with a metal strainer that can be hooked on the edge of the wok, so it's very handy when you deep fry and put the fried food on the strainer to drain excess oil...

To use wok the correct way is to heat it real hot at first. Then add oil and heat it again. The art of fire...that's what Chinese cuisine is called and the point is that you want to cook with high heat so that the food is crispy and tasty, and never stick to the side of the wok....

So, if you own a wok, just take out of the cabinet where it has been hiding, and put it on the stove. With high heat you warm up the wok to the point of smoke coming out. Then turn off the heat and add oil and distribute the oil by swirling to cover the entire surface of the wok. Then discard excess oil.

A wok is usually not non-stick, meaning that without oil the food will stick! So it's important to use oil and season the wok on the hight heat so that the ingredients won't stick when you add them to the wok.

Reheat the oiled wok to really hot, but not smoking, and add chicken wings. You should hear the sizzle, otherwise the wok is not heated up enough and the meat is going to stick! Cook the chicken on both sides giving nice brown color, and then you add soy sauce, sugar, and the beer. Now the beer is making huge bubbles and the sound should be music to your earwink

After a while, the foam will disappear and you want to cook until the chicken is tender. Try not to burn the chicken as the sugar-soy sauce combination is prone to burn easily, so you have to watch. At the last minute add black pepper according to your taste, then serve with rice!

I guess I should really consider posting photos and videos. It's so much easier than writing...Every time I cook, I should start taking pictures, too..

Now it's my time to go to bed.

Good night, and talk to you tomorrow,



Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Our Recipe #6: Stuffed Chicken Breast by Rebecca

When Rebecca contacted from Iowa (!) and joined the group, I was soo excited! Now we're talking about global cooking forum. Iowa or California, we all wonder what to cook tonight....! Thank you, Rebecca, for sharing this. They sounds tooo yummy! How old your children?

"I made some Fajiatas for my hubby and me steak, onions, red, yellow, and green peppers. With black beans and salad. As for the kiddos I still can't get them to eat peppers so they ate spaghetti again.. It just so happens I freeze left overs of spaghetti in individual servings too (just in case, they are super hard to please sometimes).

I can't wait until May when we have our farmers markets again so I can get real fresh veggies! MMMMM

What did you make? I'm super excited for tomorrow's dinner!

Stuffed Chicken breasts wrapped in bacon
served with whole wheat pesto pasta.
SUPER EASY and always a big hit with everyone in the house!
I tenderize and flatten out the chicken breasts then put a large scoop of cream cheese with onion (if it's a cream cheese flavor I don't add the onion) and then wrap it in one slice of bacon, cook till it's done about an hour at 350 and the pesto pasta.

Does anyone have a good garlic pesto recipe? I haven't really been fond of to many I've tried so I still buy the pesto sauce and just add it to the pasta!

Happy Eating and Happy cooking as long as a good bottle of wine is there!"

Dear Rebecca, I agree 100%..

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Our Recipe #5: Chinese Soup by Betty

This recipe is posted by a member, Betty, who is originally from Hong Kong.
Betty, thank you very much for sharing this yummy recipe!

"Unfortunately, as my work takes too much of my energy, I usually don't even cook much at home. I would do my once a week cooking, and that pretty much sets the tone for the entire week (or at least the majority of the week).

For example, I'd cook a big pot of Chinese soup on the weekend, when I have more time. My Chinese soup is the Cantonese style, where you'd have simple ingredients like meat, some herbs, and some other dried ingredients, and you'd cook it for more than 3 hours to make the soup really tasty. Of course, the end result is usually that, you only drink the soup and eat nothing from it, as everything's flavor has been transferred into the soup itself. Anyways, that pretty much serve as the base. I'd have some of the soup for one day, plus noodles and vegetables for a simple dinner. Or I'd cook congee with the soup, to make congee really flavorful. I sometimes put Korean rice cake in the soup too. Basically it's like a starting point, I just add vegetables and starch, and that's a healthy meal right there.

I have to confess, for someone very lazy like me, I usually try to do things quick, that doesn't involve a lot of washing and chopping. Especially, after a whole day at work, dinner really a lot of times becomes just a meal to fill the stomach, instead of something to enjoy. (How sad.....)


Yes, to have the base of food like good stock or soup like this is not only convenient, but heartwarming, too. Betty, what is "congee"?! And do you usually have the soup with yourself, or do you have someone to share it with?! Sorry, I got too nosy...


I originally posted this recipe on 4-11-08 at "What to Cook Tonight?" Meetup site under "About Us" section as follows.

Now it's 5-10-08 and I googled "congee" and found out it's rice porridge. In Chinese, also called ccho, and in Japanese it's "Okayu."

When I visited Hong Kong long time ago, I was so happy to visit many dim sum and congee places. It's usually very good for breakfast, and yes, if you add it to the Chinese soup, it tastes really good. I should try it soon!


Friday, May 9, 2008

Our Recipe #4: Garlic Pesto Sauce by Sal

Rebecca, a member of "What to Cook Tonight?" Meetup group asked me for a recipe of good garlic pesto sauce. She joined from Des Moine, Iowa! And I asked my two cooking groups' members to give their recipes. Now I'm glad that Sal, a member of LA. Cooking, Recipes, Dining (and French) Meetup group came forward with this one. Other people answered too and I'll introduce them later.

Thank you for sharing your recipe, Sal, whose family is from Sicily. How nice!

"Ok here is my recipe.....I am estimating what I use so the ingredients can be adjusted according to preference:

I cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cups fresh basil
1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup pine nuts
2-4 cloves garlic (adjust to your taste 4 could be strong)

Salt and pepper ...maybe a pinch of each or to your preference

Blend all ingredients in food processor/blender. I usually add the oil in 2 or 3 batches so the blender does not stall or pour oil as a handful of basil gets chopped.

I use any cut of pasta. I prefer to drain the pasta but keep the noodles a little slick as this helps the pesto sauce spread. Usually, this recipe makes enough for 1 pound pasta. can freeze the pesto and use it later. Sometimes I do this when I buy a large container of basil at Trader Joes and use only a few leaves for garnish. Since basil begins to darken quickly, I just make pesto with the rest of the package and freeze.

Ok,,,anymore questions, let me know. Ciao!


Monday, May 5, 2008

Our Recipe #3: Seven Layer Dip by Sally

Here's the first recipe I posted on the LA Cooking Meetup group's message board after I became an organizer on Dec. 29, o7. This recipe has some kind of sentimental value to me...

(Posted on Posted Dec 31, 2007 at 1:56 PM

Hello, everyone,

A Happy new year!! Well, almost. At least it's 2008 already in the far east and will be soon in France as well. The website below really helps to keep track of world time.

Anyways, it's still New Years Eve in the US, and I thought about what kind of recipes I could contribute to give you some ideas about holiday entertainment. So here goes my very first recipe exchange!

♪Seven Layer Dip♪

Layer #1
1 can (16 oz.) refried beans
1 can (16 oz.) spicy refried beans

Layer #2
1 carton (16 oz.) sour cream
1 pkg. taco seasoning mix

Layer #3
8 oz. grated cheddar cheese
8 oz. grated jack cheese

Layer #4
1 large avocado, diced, sprinkled with lemon juice

Layer #5
3 tomatoes, diced & drained

Layer #6
2-3 green onions, finely chopped

Layer #7
1 can (4 oz.) chopped olives, drained

Parsley for garnish

Layer #1: Combine both cans of refried beans; mix together well and place in a large 12-inch platter.
Layer #2: Combine sour cream and taco seasoning mix and layer on top of beans.
Layer #3: Combine cheddar and jack cheese and sprinkle generously over sour cream (reserving some for garnish).
Layer #4, 5, 6 & 7: Layer with avocado, tomatoes, green onion, and olives.

Garnish with grated cheese in center and parsley around the edges.
Chill before serving.
Serve with natural-style tortilla chips.
Serves 20-25 people.

(For a smaller group, recipe may be cut in half.)

Hi, this is Sally talking again. This recipe is included in a book called "Centenary Favorites" which my friend Jan gave me a long time ago. Unfortunately I lost contact with her, but she was so nice and kind, always there for me when I needed help and support. Her late father was a pastor at a church and this is from the book:

"This book was dedicated to the future of Centenary United Methodist Church. In this 90th anniversary year, Centenary is making plans to build a new church in Los Angeles' Little Tokyo where the church had its historic beginning."

This tasty dip always has been a hit at my parties...not only it's delicious, but looks very colorful when you put in a glass jar or casserole dish so that people can see through.
If you don't have two kinds of cans of refried beans, just use one kind is fine, and if you don't even have refried beans cans, just open pinto or kidney beans cans and process in a food processor if you own one, and mix with taco seasoning or chili pepper, cayenne pepper, hot sauce, salt and pepper...create your own concoction. Enjoy!



As I was searching on Internet, I found different versions of seven layer dip recipes and I wanted to post one of them too.


  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 (16 ounce) can refried beans
  • 4 cups shredded Cheddar-Monterey Jack cheese blend
  • 1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
  • 1 cup guacamole
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 (6 ounce) can black olives, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
number of stars


  1. In a large skillet, brown ground beef. Set aside to drain and cool to room temperature.
  2. Spread the beans into the bottom of a 9x13 inch serving tray that is about 1 1/2 inches deep. Sprinkle 2 cups of shredded cheese on top of beans. Sprinkle beef on top of cheese. Spread sour cream very slowly on top of beef. Spread guacamole on top of sour cream. Pour salsa over guacamole and spread evenly. Sprinkle remaining shredded cheese. Sprinkle black olives, tomatoes, and green onions on top.
  3. You can serve this dish immediately, or refrigerate it over night and serve cold. I think it tastes better at room temperature.

Our Recipe #2: Thai Curry Sauce by Karin

The second recipe is by Karin of "What to Cook Tonight?" Meetup Group. Thank you!


"I found something at Trader Joes which is amazing: it's a Thai curry sauce in a jar, and is totally like eating in a great Thai restaurant. Put it on rice with a little tofu or whatever and .... voila. ( With a rice cooker, it really is a matter of pouring in the rice, and before you eat it, adding a little sauce). And if you have a dishwasher, it's almost like doing no work at all, to make dinner!" (Karin)

Sounds really good and simple, too!smile You know, as you collect many simple-and-tried foolproof recipes like this, which is always guaranteed to work, you can have a peace of mind, I guess. Thank you, Karin, for sharing this.

I used to keep yellow curry paste in the fridge. When you have leftover cooked chicken, cut it up to bite size, add thinly sliced celery, Thai yellow curry paste and small amount of olive oil or sesame oil depending on your mood , and mix them together. By adding a little bit of oil, the paste gets smoother and easier to handle. (Sally)

Our Recipe #1: Ratatouille by Carol

Dear members,

Here's our very first recipe!!

[Ratatouille submitted by Carol]

When I had the first meetup at my house in January 2008, Carol brought her famous Ratatouille.


It tasted so good I asked for the recipe. She was nice to give it to me so I'm posting it as the honorable first recipe for us to share! Thank you, Carol!smile

"The Ratatouille recipe is very easy.
In a 2 quart pot put
1 TBLS of olive oil
1 chicken bouillon cube.
Cut up
2 large tomatoes
1.5 zucchini
1/2 onion
and toss them into the pot.

Place the burner on high until the olive oil boils and then turn down to simmer.

Let it simmer for about 30 minutes (depending upon how much you make)

While simmering, add Italian seasonings - basil, oregano, thyme AND (I'm Hungarian!) about 2 pinches of Paprika.
Simmer until vegetables are thoroughly cooked.
NOW - I simmer with the top on so that all the juices build up in the pot.
Then, I put the burner on a medium low so that the juices boil down .
How long depends upon how much you've made. Then it's ready!


Now, Sally's talking. I think the key is to get the authentic Hungarian Paprika, but besides going to Budapest, I wonder where I could get it in LA? Please let me know as I want to try the famous Paprika chicken, too!


Our Recipe Box ---- to post our own recipes!

Dear members of two of my cooking Meetup groups - "L.A. Cooking, Recipes, Dining (and French) Meetup group" and "What to Cook Tonight?" Meetup Group;

Hi, how are you doing?

I'm happy to announce that I just created a blog to feature our own recipes! I'll start posting recipes one by one. Hope you can utilize this virtual recipe box for us and post comments to have active conversation/discussion. If you want to link your own site to this blog, please let me know. And if you want to post your recipe, you can either post it as a comment or send it to me to

then I can post it here.

Please enjoy and I look forward to hearing from you!

Sally, the organizer


One of my goals through organizing these food groups are to create a space for food-loving people to meet and share the love and passion for food. We love to dine out and cook, and exchanging recipes is an important part of our activities. To achieve this goal, I have tried four different things so far.

1. Posted recipes on the Message Board.
2. Created a Newsletter.
3. Posted recipes on "About Us" section.
4. Posted recipes on event announcement pages.

However, none of them has brought the result I wanted to achieve yet, which is to actively exchange tips, info, recipes, ideas, opinions, and feedback. And it has been always only me initiating and posting recipes with not much feedback. Also by utilizing mailing list many members were annoyed by so many emails inundating their email inboxes I needed to disable the list.

So I thought of creating our own website, but I really didn't know how to do it. There are several people kindly offering help in creating the site, but they were always busy with their own work as well and I realized I should be knowledgeable about the site at least a little bit to get it started...

Then by accident I came across a Japanese blog site and gave it a try to create my own blog site. Before that I had been writing blog in Japanese for about two years but it's a members-only site like Facebook and only in Japanese, so it was almost impossible for my American friends to read it. Then after creating an open blog site and writing a few blogs in English/Japanese, I realized it's not too difficult to create a blog myself.

So instead of creating our own website, which would take so much time, effort, and probably cost, I thought I could start a blog featuring our recipes as it's a lot easier to create a blog than website. Then I did some research on which blog software I should use and I decided to use as many sources pointed out, and I just visited the site and started registering. And it was actually very easy to create a blog as promised and here I am writing the first blog to introduce our recipes to the members!

What I want to achieve by using blog format is to have active discussion. We can ask questions about recipes or cooking or food in general, or comment on the recipe or post another recipe, or related food topics.

I do hope you can come here to start writing your ideas or thought...

Thank you for reading, and I'm going to start with our first recipe.

I'll also use many photos and illustrations by my blogger friends in Japan. They are all amateur photographers and I'm able to get their permission easily for online use, so I don't have to worry about copyright dispute. I'll also use clip arts that can be used by anyone, but if you want me to use your images, please let me know as well. I try to pick up photos and images that best matches the particular recipe, and hope you'll like it.