Monday, March 2, 2015

Florentine Style Baked Eggplant "Parm"

Eggplants are still only 99 cents each so since I finally had a Sunday free so I can have an extra pair of hands, I decided to finally tackle this recipe which can be a bit time consuming.   Since eggplants these days are rarely bitter and I am not cooking it in oil, I skipped the salting and the draining of the eggplant beforehand. 

Florentine Style Baked Eggplant - Rachael Ray Recipe –


  1. I personally prefer to cook the frozen spinach for 6 min in boiling water before using so I did that first so it can drain while preparing everything else.  Press down on the spinach in a small colander (make sure holes are small) to squeeze out additional water. 
Price:  $12 for 6 servings = $2 per serving (2 stacks per serving)

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Cook With Zee - A Year Later

Time definitely flies by when you’re having fun and this year of sharing the dishes I have been cooking definitely has flown by.  A year later and 190+ posts later, I can actually see how diverse my dishes have been.  Just like I enjoy trying the local cuisine during my travels, I enjoy seeking out the same upon my return. 

As I was growing up, my parents rarely traveled or went out to eat, therefore limiting my exposure to all the different cuisines that were out there.  Instead of the norm where those who lived a sheltered life of the palate tends to grow up to be picky eaters, once I was able to pay my own way, I wanted to see the world and try the various foods that each region specializes in.  Therefore it was not uncommon to find me at restaurants that you would find locals at or trying a dish that is their specialty, which is why the first time I had escargot was in Paris.  Since then, my husband and I have tried the pesto based dishes and anchovies at the Italian Riviera and authentic pizza in Italy, dim sum almost everyday in Hong Kong, kangaroo and barramundi fish in Australia, and all the different cheeses in Switzerland.  Even when traveling within the US, we tend to seek out what that region specializes in, like having buffalo or huckleberry glazed items in Colorado or fried Indian tacos in Arizona.  We are so blessed here in the Bay Area to have such a diverse range of ethnicities and cuisines enabling us to try almost anything from Moroccan to Peruvian to Egyptian and are always open to finding new restaurants, cafes, and little hole in the walls.  In addition, we love to share any new gems we find with family, friends, and out of town guests.  Within a month and a half after my cousin came out to CA to work for a year, we took her to Hawaiian, Japanese, Basque, Vietnamese, French, Italian, Burmese, and Moroccan all getting rave reviews from someone who has been exposed to the other diverse food Mecca, New York City. 

I would love to continue to share my experiences and open the eyes of others to all the different flavors that are out there regardless of where you live and not have to wait until their 20s to try something different. 

Here are some of my favorite recipes from the past year influenced by flavors around the world. 



Japanese – Miso Black Cod -




Thursday, February 26, 2015

London Fog - Earl Grey Latte

Although we usually don’t get fog as thick as London Fog, San Francisco does get its fair share of fog to make it ubiquitous with the quintessential Golden Gate Bridge picture.  So although spring is already just around the corner with the weather recently seeming to have not gotten the memo that it is still winter, cold is still prevalent across most of the country.  So when you need a little pick me up from the snow or just a rainy day, warm up with a little London Fog. 

London Fog  Earl Grey Latte -


1.  I personally thought that having an equal proportion of milk to the tea still seem to overwhelm the delicateness of the Earl Grey.  So either steep the for  longer than 5 minutes or cut down the milk a little further. 


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Roasted Red Pepper and Eggplant "Burger"

Since we always have an abundance of food prepared over Chinese New Year, I usually do not have to cook for a week afterward which is a nice luxury and then another big dinner on the 7th day of the New Year for People’s Day where it is common to avoid meat.  Since I do not consume beef anyways through the 15th day which is the Lantern Festival, avoiding meat is not that much different.   Using seasonal ingredients, I made a roasted red pepper and eggplant “burger” for lunch that is very similar to the Grilled Eggplant Sandwich I made last year -


  1. Roast red pepper as with this previous recipe -
  2. Melting the fresh mozzarella cheese and adding a little tomato sauce will give it the flavors of a meatball sandwich.   
Price:  $4 for 4 servings = $1 a serving

Monday, February 23, 2015

Nian Go - Gung Hay Fat Choy!!

Since I had been so busy this past week to blog, you are getting a twofer today.  Gung Hay Fat Choy!!

Growing up, my family’s custom had always been to use fat tay which is similar to a muffin so it wasn’t until I got married that I was introduced to the nian go which is made with glutinous rice flour and Chinese brown sugar (peen tong).  To be honest, I had no clue how to eat it so when my husband just took it out of the fridge, sliced it, and gave it to me, I was not a big fan of the texture.  My mother in law suggested pan frying it with egg but upon attempting it for the first time, the egg didn’t stick to the slices and it ended up just being lukewarm slices with scrambled egg on the side so that first year I ate a few slices and he had to eat the rest of the pan.  The following year, I decided to experiment and pre-steamed the slices before dipping it in the egg hoping it would be stickier and therefore adhere to the egg better…a slight improvement as steaming it makes it pleasantly chewy without it being chalky or gummy.  Then I decided to try enrobing the pre-steamed slices in egg by literally drizzling a little egg on the pan and rolling the slices onto the egg and repeating for all sides two or three times.  Yes, very time consuming but that was the winning recipe so to speak.  So over 2 days, we have already consumed the entire Nian Go and even my parents are fans of it now. 

By the way, anyone has a recipe for the Fat Tay muffins, send it over!! 


Prepared Nian Go sliced
2-3 eggs beaten


  1. Beat 2-3 eggs in a bowl
  2. Pre-steam nian go slices until it is soft but not too sticky where you cannot remove it from the steamer
  3. Add 2-3 slices of nian go into the beaten eggs and let it “coat”. 
  4. In a pan, heat about 1 tbsp oil and slowly add the egg coated nian go into pan to pan fry it slightly
  5. Start enrobing the slices by drizzling a little egg on the pan and roll the slices ONTO the egg repeating this process for each side two or three times as it sets and sticks to the sides
  6. You can just lightly brown up the sides if you prefer or just leave it soft

Braised Chicken with Mushrooms – Mardi Gras Meets Chinese New Year

As they say, when it rains, it pours and last week was one with 3 holidays bunched up in less than a week from Valentine’s Day to Mardi Gras just 3 days later and then Chinese New Year 2 days after that.  The weeks just leading up to Chinese New Year is always super busy for me even though I am not even responsible for cooking any of the traditional 3 Chinese New Year meals, Hoin Nian, the day before New Year, Xin Nian, the actual New Year, and Hoi Nian, the day after New Year. 

Growing up super traditional in my family, we did almost everything by the book especially when it comes to many of the symbolism of the holiday.   It starts with super cleaning of the house to rid any bad luck accumulated from the previous year and I do mean super cleaning that I start before even the calendar year.  Oranges and tangerines symbolizing good luck and wealth are placed all over the house so that everywhere you look it is vibrant in lucky colors.  Of course you want everything in abundance especially food for the New Year signifying prosperity with most food prepared before the big day so that no knives are used that would cut off the good luck in the New Year. 

So CNY Eve, after making a fresh pot of rice early in the morning, I started on my chicken dish.  Since my in laws already provided the traditional whole chicken, whole fish, and pork dish to keep through the New Year, I have more flexibility to just make chicken drumsticks just so we can have chicken to eat on Chinese New Year. 

My intention was to braise it so that it is fork tender and no knives required.  So it just seemed fitting that I ran across a recipe by Emeril that was very similar in flavor to the etouffee we just made previously for Mardi Gras with the result being a dish where Mardi Gras meets Chinese New Year!!

Braised Chicken Thighs – Emeril Lagasse Recipe –


  1. I had leftover crimini mushrooms so was able to just used the rest of them for this recipe
  2. You want to keep your eye on the sauce as it really cooks down during the braising process.  You can add a little more chicken broth to keep it loose.
  3. As you can tell, I used chicken drumsticks vs the chicken thighs
Price:  $6 for 4 servings = $1.50 per serving

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Chicken and Andouille Etouffee - Happy Mardi Gras!!

A few years ago for the fun of it, I did a gumbo for Mardi Gras and stopped by my favorite place Powderface for beignets in the Bay Area that rivals those of CafĂ© Du Monde.  Since I am a non-spicy girl, the amount of andouille sausage kept my mouth and throat on fire for way too long.   So although I was intending on doing gumbo again this year with a mixture of andouille and some other type of sausage to cut down on the heat, I did not find any okra at the Farmers Market and instead decided to try a chicken and andouille etouffee recipe I had saved from my Food and Wine Magazine subscription back in 2010.  I have had a seafood etouffee before at a Cajun/Creole restaurant aptly named Creola, but since hubby has that shellfish allergy, it was fun to make this chicken version instead. 

Chicken and Andouille Etouffee – Food and Wine Recipe –


  1. I realized when I was about to start cooking that I did not have any green bell peppers so just used my red one instead. 
  2. Cut down the andouille by also using a chicken sausage with fennel seed and used 2 sausages instead of one.  Sausages were BOGO this week so got 2 packs of 4 links for $6
Price:  $8 for 6 servings = $1.34 per serving