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June 3, 2014 / Food Follower

Nutty Banana Bread


There is something very comforting about banana bread. It is something I love eating in the morning with a cappuccino or in the afternoon as a snack. For me, banana bread is not very memorable and tends to be nothing to write home about. I do not have any funny or witty stories to tell you about my experiences with banana bread. But I need to have those food items that when I eat, I enjoy but am not flooded with a ton of memories of my childhood or important events in my life. Feeling too many emotions can be exhausting! Banana bread is delicious and reliable, and those are two important traits I look for and crave in food.

I love this walnut banana bread from the Food Network website. I have four modifications to the recipe:
1) I use 2/3 cup of sugar, rather than 1 cup because I think the banana bread is sweet even with the reduced amount of sugar.
2) I add a handful of chopped pecans for even more texture and flavor.
3) I add two handfuls of chocolate chips because I love chocolate.
4) I use ripe but not overly ripe bananas. I find the banana flavor is a little more mild than when using overly ripe bananas.


June 2, 2014 / Food Follower

Smoked Salmon, Scrambled Eggs, and Arugula


I would have to say that one of my indulgences is smoked salmon. My salt tolerance is fairly low, so it’s a bit surprising that I love smoked salmon so much since it is pretty salty. I actually enjoy the saltiness of smoked salmon. I wonder if I love its taste because I grew up eating it.

Starting when I was in elementary school, on a beautiful day of any given weekend, my mom and I would often decide to make the trek from the east side to the west side to go to Zabar’s, a specialty store which sells amazing smoked salmon. (I definitely recommend going there if you are ever in NYC). We crossed Central Park to get there (yes, I was already walking a lot at a young age). We usually went around lunchtime to stop in the Zabar’s café right beside the store and order Zabar’s special – a bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon, which came with coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice. (Though when I was younger, I didn’t drink the coffee). The bagel was not the best bagel I had in NYC, but for some reason, it tasted amazing with the cream cheese and salmon on it. I just want to be clear that the bagel is still good.

I have not been to Zabar’s since I came home from college, but I will be making my way there soon. My mom actually went to Zabar’s recently to buy some smoked salmon. Rather than eating smoked salmon with a bagel yesterday, I put some arugula on two slices of toasted whole wheat bread and added scrambled eggs and smoked salmon on top. For a surprising kick, I flavored the olive oil I cooked the eggs in with rosemary. (We have a lot of rosemary in the house if you couldn’t tell already from my most recent blog posts. To flavor the oil, cook a rosemary sprig under low heat in 1 teaspoon of olive oil for 1 minute and remove. Then add the eggs and scramble. Note: I did not add much salt to the eggs since I knew the smoked salmon is already salty).


June 1, 2014 / Food Follower

So Many Birds: Spring is Here!

I went to my grandma’s house in Westchester and was delighted to find out that there were two birds’ nests outside my grandma’s, one in front of the house and the other in the back.  Throughout the afternoon, my grandma and I went back and forth to check on the birds.  We tried ever so carefully to open the doors without making too much noise to scare off the mother birds.  Inevitably, one of the mothers flew off a few times, so we convinced ourselves that we did not cause her flight but rather that she was getting food for her newly hatched young.  I saw a baby bird in its nest for the first time ever! It was beautiful though not actually because it had barely any feathers.  There it is in its nest!


The other nest’s eggs have not hatched yet.  Below is a photo of the mother laying on her eggs.


Ironically, we ate another type of bird for lunch – cornish hen. I tried not to think about the fact that a cornish hen is a bird.  It was very delicious nonetheless, and we ate steamed asparagus alongside.



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The rhododendrons were in full bloom and looked beautiful. Even to this day, I think I am in candy land when I see them.


May 29, 2014 / Food Follower

Farfalle with Spinach, Tomatoes, and Mushrooms


It amazes me how much the shape of pasta influences what I want to eat with the pasta.  For me, spaghetti cries meat – either in the form of a meat sauce or meatballs.  Yet the delicate angel hair goes splendidly with lots of sautéed vegetables.  Pappardelle is possibly my favorite pasta, and I really like eating it with a ragu.  This dish might as well just whisper the word “comforting” in my ear. Penne pasta is amazing with fresh mozzarella and basil.

Tonight, I wanted to try and use a pasta I rarely use but is still absolutely delicious – farfalle (also known as bow-tie pasta).  Farfalle are so cute, and all of their ridges are great for holding pasta sauce. I was inspired by ingredients in my kitchen to make the dish described below.  We had spinach, mushrooms, and tomatoes in the fridge, so I incorporated this with the farfalle.  We also luckily had a bottle of opened Pinot Grigio, so I added this to the sauce.  My parents and I enjoyed the farfalle with a glass of wine.


  • 1 pound of farfalle pasta
  • 2 cups of fresh, coarsely chopped spinach
  • 3 large vine tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup of sliced portobello mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 cups of tomato sauce (I used Barilla’s tomato and basil sauce)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/2 cup of dry white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Herbes de Provence
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper


1) Bring a large pot of salted boiling water to a boil and cook the pasta.

2) Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil under medium-low heat, and add the garlic.  Remove the garlic pieces after a minute.

3) Add the tomatoes, Herbes de Provence, the wine, and some salt and pepper.  Lower the heat to low, cover the saucepan and let the tomato mixture simmer for 3-4 minutes.  Check after a minute or two to stir.

4) Put the tomato mixture in a large serving bowl, and let it sit while you cook the mushrooms.  Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the saucepan under medium heat and add the mushrooms when the oil is hot.  This will let you avoid washing a lot of dishes!

5) Cook the mushrooms for 3 minutes, and pour the tomato white wine mixture back in the saucepan with the mushrooms.  Also, pour in the tomato sauce and cook until the sauce is hot.

6) Once the pasta is cooked, drain all of the water with a sieve.

7) Put the spinach in the bottom of the serving bowl, and pour the farfalle into the bowl.  Add the mushroom tomato sauce and stir until the sauce coats the pasta.  The sauce will wilt the spinach.

8) Add some salt and pepper and serve with parmesan cheese.

Servings: 4-6


May 29, 2014 / Food Follower

Eggs and Toast


Eggs and toast are one of the easiest food pairings to prepare, yet they are delicious! I really do believe that some of the simplest things in life are the best. For breakfast today, I fried two eggs and served them with toast which I made from a special bread I bought at Atkins farms up in Amherst. The bread is whole wheat and contains pecans, oats, raisins, dates, and loads of other good grains and seeds. For the toast accompaniments, I was inspired by the recipe my friends and I made for my molecular gastronomy class – a pretzel chip with goat cheese, honey caviar, and rosemary. (We won if you were at all curious!) I spread some chèvre (i.e. goat cheese) on my toast and added a drizzle of honey and a dash of finely chopped rosemary. This would also work well with most grain breads or raisin bread.



May 28, 2014 / Food Follower

Roasted Chicken for a Cloudy Day


My mom made a roasted chicken for dinner tonight, which is my favorite thing she prepares. (Bad joke: why did I cross the road? To get to the other side to eat some of my mom’s succulent chicken!) Somehow, my mom manages to keep the chicken moist and juicy every time. Her trick is to add some chicken broth on top of the chicken and also in the cooking container (which is a cake pan). The cavity of the chicken is overflowing with onions and rosemary. The onions caramelize in the oven, giving the onions a soft and mild sweet taste. She also cooks little potatoes and carrots with the chicken (on the sides of the cake pan). I am so excited to eat the leftovers tomorrow!



  • One 3 pound organic chicken
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
  • Paprika
  • Herbes de Provence
  • Salt and pepper

Optional: Add baby carrots and small red potatoes around the chicken


1) Preheat your oven to 450 degrees, and wash the chicken thoroughly.

2) Clean the chicken cavity, and then stuff the cavity with 2 sprigs of rosemary (full), half of the onion (or less if not all of it fits), and 1 clove of garlic

3) Tear the remaining sprig of rosemary with your hands and sprinkle the rosemary on the top of the chicken.  Also, sprinkle some paprika on the chicken skin.  (There is no exact measurement for this, just give the chicken a light dusting).  Add salt, pepper, and some Herbes de Provence on top of the chicken.

4) Pour the chicken broth on top of the chicken as well as in the container you cook the chicken.  (My mom generally uses a 9 inch cake pan).  Note: the amount of chicken broth can vary depending on the size of your dish.

5) Put the remaining onion on the perimeter of the container which you use to cook the chicken as well as the potatoes and carrots (if you decide to use these).

6) Cook the chicken for roughly 75 minutes, but check occasionally since most ovens work differently.  (My mom tends to flip the chicken once one side has gotten golden brown so that the other side browns as well.  She does this about 50 minutes into the cooking process).



May 28, 2014 / Food Follower

College is Over but Some Things Don’t Change


I am still wrapping my brain around the fact that I just graduated from college this past Sunday. Luckily, my commencement turned out to be on a sunny, beautiful day despite the predicted rain and thunderstorms. To be honest, the entire experience was pretty anticlimactic. During the ceremony, a lot was going through my head that throughout the speeches given by both the president of the college and the student speaker, I found my thoughts drifting. These ranged from – “When will I get the chance to see my friends again?” to “How long should I live at home for?” I have decided to stay at home to save money and get used to working (not as a student anymore!)

Besides the fact that I am close to both of my parents, another pro to living at home is that I do not need to do all of the grocery shopping. I have a lot of ingredients available at home, which is awesome since I often modify my food creations as I go depending on what I can find in the kitchen. Surprisingly, before today’s lunch, I had not eaten fish since I arrived home. More often than not, a few of my friends ask me if I plan on eating arctic char the night I get home for a school break.

I was craving arctic char today, so I grilled it with honey and soy sauce. (You can find the recipe here). I decided to serve the arctic char cold on a bed of boston and arugula salad. (Spinach would be lovely here as well). To the salad, I added asparagus and string beans, which I cooked in salted boiling water for roughly 4 minutes and then shocked them in ice cold water to cool them and stop them from cooking once they were out of the water. The asparagus and string beans will also retain their beautiful green color after being shocked. For color, I also diced a vine tomato and half of a beet. I dressed the salad with balsamic vinegar and oil and added a little salt and pepper. Post-grad life is looking great so far!


May 22, 2014 / Food Follower

Peruvian Eats

I know this is long overdue, but I figured I would share some of the highlights of my trip to Peru this past winter break. I sadly realized this semester that I will not be able to visit my grandmother in Peru next year since I start work in June and won’t have enough time off to journey to Peru. This afternoon, I went through my food photos from Peru, and I definitely salivated quite a bit. I will have to live vicariously through my blog photos come Christmastime (can you even live vicariously through a blog, or does it have to be through a person?)

My last trip to Peru was particularly special since I travelled with a friend and visited not only Lima but also Cusco, Machu Picchu, and the Amazon Rainforest. I was thus able to experience a diverse sampling of Peruvian cuisine and note differences among the various regions.

Since Lima is on the coast, you can find great seafood there. There are amazing cevicherias in Lima which serve many varieties of ceviche. You can also find good Japanese and Chinese food in Lima, but please if you ever get Chinese food, be careful because there are some sketchy restaurants there too! Since Cusco is near the Andes, there is much less seafood. If I recall correctly, trout is pretty popular in Cusco. Cusco seemed to be the land of quinoa. My friend loves quinoa, and I think she had it everyday we were there. The food in the Amazon was fairly simple – rice, some sort of protein, fried yuka, and tropical fruit. I was not in love with the food there because the lodge I stayed in salted the food quite a bit. I did eat the piranha that my friend caught though. Note that we went fishing, and I did not catch a single fish! There was very little flesh on the piranha, but the little meat I had was surprisingly good. I admit it was not too fun to look at the sharp teeth of the piranha carcass. (Was that too graphic?)

Grandma knows best: spinach pie (pastel d’espinaca), eggplant pie (pastel de berenjena), smoked salmon, salad of tomatoes, avocados, and hearts of palm

Ceviche mixto, La Mar restaurant in Lima (If you want to read more about La Mar check out my earlier blog post here)

Grilled sea bass with a side of veggies, Hotel Los Delfines, Lima

Tapas: octopus, eggplant, sausage, avocado and something else I am blanking on now (from closest to farthest), a quaint restaurant in the district of Barranco, Lima

Grilled steak with potato croquettes and sautéed veggies, restaurant in Cusco

Risotto with asparagus and mushrooms, same restaurant in Cusco

Grilled trout over a bed of quinoa, Greens restaurant in Cusco

Live piranha from the Amazon! (don’t worry I didn’t eat the piranha while it was alive)

May 22, 2014 / Food Follower

The Montague Bookmill

With less than 3 days till my college graduation, I am trying to make the most of my undergraduate experience. I know a lot of my friends have bucket lists of things they want to complete before they graduate. I tried to make a list at the end of my junior year, and I couldn’t think of many activities that I needed to do before I finished college and moved on to the next chapter (no punn intended… you will see why later in the paragraph) of my life. I think I do not work well with lists. One place I’ve heard raves about from other Amherst students for a while now is the Montague Bookmill, a used book store located in an old flour and grain mill. The Bookmill is a few miles away from Amherst, yet until Sunday, I had never gone there since it is not convenient to get there without a car (I’m not sure if there is a bus that goes there). While I would not go out of my way to visit the Montague Bookmill, I admit it is a very quaint, lovely spot to stop by if you have a free day.

My friends and I browsed through the used books, and we later ate at the café there which is called the Lady Killigrew. I ordered a sandwich with brie, apricot jam, and sliced apples. It was so tasty! The bread was toasted, and the brie melted in my mouth. When I bit into the sandwich, I tasted the sweetness from the apricot jam which was not too overpowering. The jam paired very well with the brie, and then a couple of seconds later, I was hit with the tartness from the apples. I will definitely try and replicate this sandwich at home. The sandwich came with a side of salad, which I think had a dressing based of soy sauce. I definitely recommend this dish if you ever get the change to visit!






January 13, 2014 / Food Follower

Peanut Tofu Stir Fry


This tofu stir fry is super easy to make and can be eaten on its own or with various other veggies like broccoli. The peanut sauce adds a nice tangy flavor to the light and fluffy tofu. The salty and nutty flavors from the seaweed round out the dish. I hope you enjoy! My tofu craving was definitely satisfied.

2 tablespoons of peanut butter
2-3 tablespoons of soy sauce + a little extra for the actual wok or pan
the juice from 1/2 a lime
1 package of firm tofu
1 tablespoon of canola oil
A couple of nori strips or 1/4 sheet of nori

1) Whisk together the first three ingredients to make a peanut sauce.

2) Add oil and a dash of soy sauce to a wok (or a frying pan) under medium heat.

3) Stir in tofu and cook for 1 minute.

4) Add peanut sauce to the tofu and stir to combine. Add a a little more soy sauce if the peanut sauce is too thick. Cook until tofu becomes hot (roughly 3 minutes).

5) Once the tofu is hot, tear pieces of nori and sprinkle on top of the tofu.