Sunday, March 27, 2011

Polenta Fries

Next week is going to be a huge and possibly stressful week for many. April Fools Day is quickly approaching and for my senior peers and me, it signals the opportunity to play some hilarious final pranks on our teachers. Oh yeah, the first of April is also the day that most college admissions decisions come out by. I guess that might be more important…

The first part of the journey is finally coming to an end. It’s been quite an adventure and I’ve learned much from my experience of applying to colleges. But really, the whole process didn’t begin at the beginning of senior year when I created a Common App account (kudos to those who started over the summer), but rather, from the day I first entered school way back when. Looking back on all those hours of piano practice, Chinese lessons, badminton practice, and SAT prep classes, I’ve come to realize that all the struggles are what have shaped me into the person that I am today and provided me with the skills that will be with me forever.

I’ve heard back from six of the colleges I’ve applied to already, and am waiting on news from a few more. I’ve been accepted, waitlisted, and plain out rejected. I’ve cried, I’ve laughed, and I’ve run around the house jumping for joy. I think I’m prepared for whatever else comes my way. If I get more acceptances, I’ll gladly take them; if I get more rejections, I’ll be happy for those more deserving who did get in. Although it can be easy to feel bitter about being waitlisted while your friend gets accepted, you just have to quit complaining, suck it up, and keep on going, because everyone has worked so hard to be where he or she is today.

While I can’t say that applying to colleges was exactly fun, I can say that I’ve enjoyed documenting all my extracurricular activities, writing about how to find x, and submitting a video supplement of me whipping up some peppermint bark. I’ve spent considerable amounts of time at Borders, Saxby’s, and even in The Kitchen at Genuardi’s cranking up my creative juices, thinking back to fond memories, and expressing my identity through words. Now all I can do is wait.

Good luck to everyone. I genuinely wish you all the best and hope you get into your top choices. But if you don’t, I know that you will have a blast wherever you go. I’ve heard many stories of the kid with a perfect SAT score, countless leadership roles, and top music honors who ends up going to his safety school. There is a happy ending though, and it’s that he absolutely loves it there. I know that no matter which college I spend four years of my life, it will be four years of discovery and excitement.


2 cups milk
2 cups water
1 ½ cups polenta (corn grits)
1 tsp garlic salt
2 bunches cilantro, chopped
2 ounces pepper jack cheese
cooking spray


1. Boil the milk and water in a large saucepan. Slowly add in the polenta while stirring constantly. Stir in the garlic salt.
2. Continue stirring until the polenta thickens up. This should take a few minutes. Stir in the chopped cilantro and cheese.
3. Remove from heat and spread out onto a baking sheet. Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
4. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
5. Cut the polenta into long strips. Lay them on a lined baking tray and spray with oil. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes (flipping after 10 minutes) or until golden and crispy.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Chicken and Vegetable Stir-fry Noodles

As the daily temperatures start to increase and your vegetable patch begins to take on colors of the rainbow, it’s time to hit the kitchen and cook up a stir-fry. Stir-frys are one of the best ways to add vegetables to your meal. They are delicious, nutritious and super easy to make. This noodle dish combines cuisine from the east with cuisine from the west. Although pasta is used in this dish, the cooking style and flavor is Asian. Stir-frys all start with some hot oil, garlic, and ginger, and end with a colorful assortment of vegetables. Soy sauce is an ingredient typical of stir-frys to help add flavor and moisture to the dish. The versatility of this dish enables you to substitute the vegetables with your favorite varieties. So what are you waiting for? Get out your pots and pans, bring out the knives, dig into your refrigerator and cook up a dish that leaves you feeling full and great.


13.25 oz dried spaghetti
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger root,
1 chicken breast, sliced
2 cups button mushrooms, sliced
2 cups green beans, cut
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 tablespoons soy sauce
2 spring onions, thinly sliced


1. Prepare the spaghetti according to the directions on the packet.
2. In a wok, heat the oil on a medium-high heat. Add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry for one minute.
3. Add the sliced chicken breast and cook until the chicken is browned.
4. Add in the mushrooms, green beans, and carrots. Put in the soy sauce and stir-fry for 5 minutes.
5. Add the cooked spaghetti on top of the vegetables. Put the lid on for 5 minutes so that the vegetables will soften and the flavors will blend into the noodles.
6. Season with salt to taste and sprinkle the spring onions on top. Serve immediately.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Mango Gelato

The sun is shining, birds are chirping, and flowers are blooming. It is most undeniably spring, not just because Google says so, but because it truly feels like spring. No matter how much we long for warmth during those long dark winter months, we just get longer and darker days. We may imagine lying on hot sand at the shore, enjoying ice cream outdoors, taking long walks around the park… but it’s all useless. Just like how we cannot simply conjure up spring in the wintertime, there is absolutely nothing we can do about it when spring finally comes along. Thanks to Mother Nature, who is oh-so-stubborn, we simply have to accept what we are given. Thank goodness that means spring right now.

Is spring the best season? Do I like to cook? Do you like to eat? Do pigs…YES!!!! Yes. Yes. Yes absolutely. You may ask, why? Well, the beginning of spring means that:

1. You can finally enjoy cold desserts (think ice cream) OUTSIDE without having to pretend that you aren’t cold at all
2. The vivid yellow of Daffodils starts to line the streets
3. It’s time to engage in some fun, refreshing, and rewarding spring-cleaning
4. You can enjoy the few weeks of natural warmth after the heaters leave you alone and before the air conditioners start to infiltrate your fresh air
5. Lambs are born.
6. You can walk to school at seven in the morning with the sun shining in your face
7. You can finally pull out your cute and colorful shorts, tank tops and jandals (flip-flops)
8. You can enjoy either basking in the sunshine or splashing in the puddles
9. Picnics don’t have to be indoors anymore
10. There are only three more months before summer vacation
11. It’s time for you to learn how to make the easiest mango gelato in the world!

I have to admit, I’m not really sure if this can be considered gelato. It’s definitely not sorbet, as it contains milk; it’s not ice cream, as it doesn’t have any cream; it’s not frozen yogurt because well, it has no yogurt. Whatever this concoction of mine really is, it tastes like the mango gelato at the mall, so I’m going to call it mango gelato and that’s that.

I beg you, please stop reading this and go outside for a walk (I don’t care if it’s midday or midnight). I know you’re simply dying to try out this recipe, but do take in some fresh air first as it will only heighten your appreciation for this mango gelato. So get into your sneakers, plug in your iPod, and spring into the new season!


1 ½ cup frozen mango pieces (from Trader Joe’s)
1 cup soymilk
1 tbsp honey (optional)


1. Mix all the ingredients in a blender. Whiz until smooth. Serve immediately, or you may wish to freeze for 30 minutes for it to harden a bit.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Irish Soda Bread

I like to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day. I like to think that I’m contributing to diversity worldwide by celebrating Irish culture. I like to think that wearing all green one day of the year shows my appreciation for everything Irish. But in all honesty, it’s just an excuse for me to cook. And in fact, I have to admit that I have no idea what Saint Patrick’s Day is about beyond Irish soda bread, four leaf clovers and leprechauns.

After some Wikipedia-ing, I’ve discovered what I should’ve shown. Saint Patrick’s Day is actually a religious holiday (hence the cross on top of the bread). These days however, it’s more of a secular occasion that simply celebrates Irish culture. Saint Patrick, whom the holiday is named after, was a Christian missionary and the most generally recognized patron saint. I wish I had some cool story about him, but to be honest, he seems rather a bore. Can we please get back to the food?

Traditional Irish soda bread contains just four ingredients: flour, salt, baking soda, and milk. Over the years and seas however, Irish soda bread has metamorphosed into something that rather resembles a cake. Eggs, baking powder, sugar, and raisins have all managed to infiltrate into the classic recipe resulting in a sweet “bread” that might as well be called a cake. No fear though, sometimes traditional recipes need to be jazzed up. I mean, while it’s nice to have those timeless recipes that bring history into the kitchen, it’s also fun to meddle with recipes and create something new and exciting. After all, cooking is all about experimentation.


3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
4 tbsp flaxseed meal
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup raisins
2 eggs, beaten,
1 1/2 cups buttermilk


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9-inch round baking pan.
2. Combine flour, oats, flaxseed meal, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. Stir in the raisins.
3. Save 1 tablespoon of the beaten egg mixture and set aside for later use. In a second bowl, combine buttermilk, and remaining eggs. Mix well.
4. Stir into the flour mixture just until dry ingredients are moistened and mixture turns into a sticky dough.
5. Place the dough in the prepared baking pan, cut a cross on top, and brush top with reserved egg.
6. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Corn Fritters with Cilantro Dip

Cooking, baking, cooking, baking. Cooking. Baking. Are they the same thing? Or are they entirely different entities? I’ve recently pondered these questions with many friends and was surprised to find that they had differing opinions regarding this topic. For some reason, I just never thought there was any confusion. I’ve always seen baking as a subcategory under cooking. Is baking not just a style of cooking that involves using the oven? Some of my friends however, think that cooking and baking are totally separate. That is, they believe that you’re either cooking, or baking, not both. Let me propose this question to you then: if you’re roasting a chicken in the oven, are you cooking or baking?

It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged about savory food. I actually do a tonne of savory cooking, but it just never makes it to cinnamonandcilantro because I feel that people appreciate sweets more. Cakes and cookies are also just naturally more aesthetic.

The first time I had corn fritters was in NZ. I’m not sure but I think that corn fritters as we know in NZ are different from the corn fritters known here in the US. NZ corn fritters, the one’s I made, are lightly pan-fried. American corn fritters, also known as hushpuppies, are deep-fried. I personally like pan-frying them because it produces lighter fritters, which complement the sweetness of the corn perfectly. Want to know a secret? These corn fritters are super duper healthy! In just one of these babys, you get your veggies, your carbs, your protein, and your dose of heart-healthy fats. Need more fiber in your diet? Try substituting the all purpose flour for whole-wheat flour.

I should be writing an article for my school newspaper about National Nutrition month right now, but somehow, I ended up in the kitchen. It happens quite a lot though so I’m not worried. I’ll get back to that article soon enough. Well, as soon as I’m done downing these brain-stimulating fritters…


1 ½ cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
½ cup frozen spinach
2 stalks spring onion, chopped
1 stalk cilantro, chopped finely
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup all purpose flour
½ tsp paprika
cooking spray

For the cilantro dip:
3 tbsp whipped mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 stalk cilantro, chopped finely
cayenne pepper


1. In a bowl combine corn, spinach, spring onion, and cilantro. Stir in beaten eggs.
2. Add 1/3 cup flour, pepper, salt, and paprika. Stir well.
3. Spray a skillet and heat until hot. Drop spoonfuls of batter to make fritters. Cook slowly over medium heat until golden brown, crisp and cooked through. Serve hot with the cilantro dip.

For the dip:
Combine all the ingredients together and mix well.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

French Chocolate Macarons

Fire and Ice
by Robert Frost

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Poetry can be so beautiful. But at times it frustrates me. Sometimes, I read over the poem once and feel a connection to it instantly. Other times, I will read it through several times and have absolutely no idea what it’s talking about. “If she’s talking about the meaning of life, why the heck is she bringing an urn into the picture?”

The thing with poems is that you can analyze them in many different ways and there is no right way. It’s not like math where the answer is either right or wrong. Every single interpretation is “interesting;” it is never incorrect. This induces overanalyzing, which I feel we do too much of in English class at school…

Nonetheless, the emotion and power that can be expressed through simply words is remarkable. Words can make you laugh, can make you blush, make you want to disappear, make you ponder the future, and words can make you fall apart and cry until you have a pond to drown yourself in. But why be so morbid? Poems can also bring the edges of your lips up, like I hope this little haiku of mine will :)

Chocolate records
Crispy, chewy, in and out
Dainty lil fellas


1/2 cup blanched whole almonds
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3 large egg whites
Pinch of salt
2 tsp granulated sugar

Marshmallow Fluff


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Pulse the almonds with 3/4 cup of the confectioners' sugar in a food processor until finely ground. Add the cocoa powder and the remaining 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar and pulse until well blended.
3. Beat the egg whites with the salt with an electric mixer on medium-high speed in a large bowl just until the whites form soft peaks when the beaters are lifted.
4. Add the granulated sugar and beat just until the whites form stiff peaks when the beaters are lifted. Gently fold in the almond mixture.
5. Transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip. Pipe out 1-inch-diameter mounds about 2 inches apart on lined baking sheets. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes, until the tops appear dry but the macaroons are still slightly soft to the touch.
6. Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet. Carefully peel the paper off the macaroons and transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
7. Sandwich cookies together with marshmallow Fluff or buttercream.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’ve just realized that I don’t have a recipe for chocolate chip cookies on my blog. I mean seriously Lisa, what kind of blog doesn’t have a recipe for the most classic cookie of all time? I might as well just give up life and live on the streets. Well, thank goodness I’ve realized my mistake and don’t have to resort to doing that.

Thanks to my trusty source (Wikipedia), I’ve uncovered the secret behind the birth of the CCC. Apparently, Ruth Wakefield was baking chocolate cookies when she ran out of baker’s chocolate and substituted in pieces of NestlĂ© semi-sweet chocolate hoping it would melt and incorporate into the batter. It did not however, and voila, the life of the CCC began.

While these cookies are definitely not a health food, they really are as healthy as cookies can get. They are made with olive oil, which lowers your LDL and raises your HDL. Want an extra dose of heart healthy oils? Just throw some flaxseed meal into the batter for some omega 3 goodness.

The great thing about this recipe is that you can throw anything into the batter: M&Ms, raisins, walnuts, oatmeal. Feel free to mix up ingredients and create your own masterpiece of a cookie.

Everyone’s always on that hunt for the perfect chocolate chip cookie, and while I don’t think I’ve quite found it, I’m pretty darn close.


2 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking trays with baking paper.
2. Sift flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl and set aside.
3. In a big bowl, beat eggs till frothy. Add olive oil and vanilla and beat until completely mixed. Add sugars and mix thoroughly.
4. Slowly add in flour mixture a little at a time and mix in with a fork. Stir in the chocolate chips. Roll into tablespoon sized balls and place 1 inch apart on the baking tray. Flatten a tiny bit with a fork or just with your fingers.
5. Bake for 16-18 minutes until lightly golden brown. Allow to cool a little on the tray before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.