Archive for the Susannah’s Home Category

The Lost Prawns: A Fable

Posted in Destinations, Food for thought, Restaurants, Susannah's Home with tags , on June 11, 2008 by Susannah

In March 2007, Andy and I took a weekend trip to Portland, Oregon. Neither of us had ever been before and we were both pleasantly surprised by the caliber of dining there. My most memorable course was an appetizer of jumbo prawns stuffed with jalapeño cream cheese at a downtown restaurant called the Veritable Quandary. Since then, I’ve not had a chance to return to Portland (yet), but I have craved the shrimp on multiple occasions. Whenever I think of the dish — not quite shrimp cocktail, not quite jalapeño popper, and the perfect blend of seafood, creole spices, decadent cream cheese and crispy breading — my mouth would water. Unfortunately, I was never able to locate a version of it in the Bay Area, nor could I ever find a recipe online: I went to the restaurant website, where the menu no longer listed the dish. I even went so far as to write Bon Appétit, but to no avail.

Finally, a last resort: I emailed the restaurant, asking them about the recipe. Had I made the whole thing up, or had there once been a menu item that was truly that divine?

It turns out I wasn’t imagining things after all; I got an email shortly following my inquiry. “We focus on farm-fresh local ingredients which means we end up changing our menu rather frequently. Unfortunately, we no longer have that particular item on our menu, so the recipe isn’t readily available,” explained the restaurant’s manager, Jason Gerlt. However, he was kind enough to dig up the old recipe and send it to me.

Moral of the story: If you ask for something, you might just get it!

Prawns stuffed with jalapeño cream cheese


Large prawns (half a dozen to a dozen or so)

Flour, for dipping

Panko crumbs, for breading

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 jalapeno, diced small
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
Salt and Pepper to taste

Pinch of garlic
3 scallions, diced
1/4 cup tomato, diced
2 cups heavy cream


1. Combine all of the filling ingredients until blended.

2. For sauce, briefly sauté the garlic, scallions and tomato. Add the cream and Creole seasoning, simmering until thickened.

3. Devein and butterfly shrimp. Stuff with cream cheese filling. Coat, first with flour, then egg wash, then panko crumbs seasoned with creole seasoning.

4. Deep fry until golden, and serve plated with sauce.

One Hot Mess

Posted in Susannah's Home with tags on May 25, 2008 by Susannah

Last night I prepared one of my all-time favorite Korean dishes, dduk bok-kee. Often served in late-night bars and cafés, this dish is the Korean equivalent of an American comfort food like macaroni and cheese. In Korean, dduk generically refers to a rice cake, a satisfyingly glutinous dumpling that arrives in many shapes. Dduk bok-kee is composed of cylindrical dduk in a spicy hot sauce, often with other elements like onions, fish cakes or beef, and possibly a hard-boiled egg.

Dduk Bok-kee

I first discovered the dish in Beijing while at a bar. A Korean friend had several orders of the dduk bok-kee brought out to us, and from that point on, I was hooked. Dduk bok-kee became my usual order whenever I went to Korean Town in Chicago, but it wasn’t until I got to San Francisco that I realized (thanks to my friend Fumiko) that it is actually rather simple to make at home. Here’s incredibly quick, semi-homemade version.

Semi-homemade Dduk Bok-kee

1 package frozen dduk (found at any Korean supermarket)

1 package dduk bok-kee hot sauce

1 package fish cake (pre-cooked)

Half an onion, sliced

Soak the frozen dduk in cold water for 2 hours. Rinse out water and replace with clean water. Fill water to approximately 1 inch above the dduk resting in the pot. Boil until soft (you will need to pull one piece out to test). The dduk should be soft, gummy, and completely cooked through in the center. Add the fish cake and the onion slices to the boiling mixture until completely heated through, then pour in the hot sauce. Top with hard-boiled egg if desired.

Ping An Mien

Posted in Susannah's Home with tags on January 27, 2008 by Susannah

Ping An Mien

The passing down of family recipes may just be the best illustration of the impact that food has on society. Across all cultures, cherished family recipes are passed down from generation to generation. Sadly, I’ve always felt that my kitchen has been the exception. That is, until I remembered ping an mien.

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Welcome home, honey…dinner’s ready!

Posted in Food for thought, Susannah's Home with tags on December 10, 2007 by Susannah

Disclaimer: I don’t in any way profile myself as a domestic housewife. This disclaimer prefaces the question that I am about to ask:

What should I make Andy for dinner?

He’s in NYC for a yearlong master’s program but will be coming home to our place for the holidays. What courses mark a good “welcome home” dinner? His favorite things in the world are fries and strawberry shortcake, but he pretty much likes anything except oysters.

What I made tonight: Quinoa Tabbouleh

Posted in Recipes, Susannah's Home with tags on December 5, 2007 by Susannah


This is one of my all-time favorite things to make, and I often prepare it when I think I need a “light meal” after I’ve had a couple of fat days. Quinoa, which a grain high in protein content, replaces bulgur wheat, so it’s perfect for vegetarians. You can find the recipe here.

What I made tonight: Ribollita con Verdure

Posted in Recipes, Susannah's Home on December 4, 2007 by Susannah


Smoky, velvety, texturally interesting… you can find the recipe here.

My Favorite Thanksgiving

Posted in Holidays, Recipes, Susannah's Home on November 29, 2007 by Susannah

On Thanksgiving Day I was traveling and didn’t arrive at my parents’ home in Houston until evening, so therefore (in my newfound enthusiasm for all things food) I offered to make a traditional Thanksgiving feast on Friday. On my own. As if that idea weren’t stupendous enough for someone who’s never made Thanksgiving dinner, I found out my mother  had also invited friends over for dinner. Suffice it to say that I was in the kitchen toiling for the entire day.


Very predictably, the menu was almost entirely filled with recipes taken from the Food Network:

Oven-roasted turkey with sage butter, stuffed with caramelized onion and cornbread stuffing

Turkey gravy

Orange cranberry sauce

Brussels sprouts with bacon

Wolfgang Puck’s garlic mashed potatoes

Baked apples

Sweet potato balls with marshmallows and coconut

Warning to anyone who tries to make Thanksgiving dinner a day late: Stores will be out of many things, and items missing in stock are reflective of what America cooks on this holiday. One would have been hard-pressed to find sage, rosemary and ground nutmeg: Apparently, these are the most popular items. My family visited at least five stores before successfully finding ONE packet of sage. Unlike the Bay Area, fresh herbs in Houston aren’t even sold by the bunch, with the exception of cilantro and parsley. I managed to find brussels sprouts (some still on the stalk, amazingly) but noted that they came from Castroville, California: These brussels sprouts had traveled as far as I had for Thanksgiving.


Throughout the day, I chopped, grated and simmered, enjoying the soon-to-be fruits of my labor. That is, until our guests arrived.

With the turkey still in the oven and the gravy and the sweet potato balls not yet made, I became an adult Tazmanian Devil of sorts, my demeanor characterized by serious expressions of self-doubt and questions of worth rather than the fun spazziness that makes the cartoon counterpart so likable. My father even pulled me aside to give me a brief talking-to. “Your negative attitude is affecting the kitchen,” he told me. “It’s not necessary to keep talking about how dry your turkey is going to be.” Between his lectures and the sheer number of people running around in the kitchen, I was near panic mode. Thankfully our guests were mellow and gracious, and two of them helped me to get the dinner onto the table (one made the gravy, and the other put together the sweet potato balls). I’m not sure they really came to our house expecting to hone their Thanksgiving skills. Talk about springing into action!

Nevertheless, everyone seemed to enjoy the meal well enough. Dinner was followed by ice cream, coffee and lots of laughter. I walked away amazed that I didn’t undercook, burn or blow up anything. It was, in truth, well worth all the blood, sweat and anxiety that went into it. Spending it with family and friends who appreciated my cooking made it indeed my very favorite Thanksgiving so far.


The only caveat? “We’re expecting you to do all the Thanksgiving meals in the years to come,” my mom said.

I’ve included links to my favorite recipes, as those are the ones I will definitely make again — next year, of course, when I tackle another Thanksgiving.