Sass & Bite

"If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you" Oscar Wilde

Category: Bite Me

Thai (Vaguely) Chopped Salad


One of my culinary pastimes is creating salad versions of other foods I like. Do I sound like a diet-fixated Housewife contestant with too much time on her hands? Possibly, but screw you, salads are great. And because I’m all about looks, I like that they’re attractive.  At least until I start enthusiastically shoveling them in my mouth.


I should say, salads with a lot of stuff in them are great. Substance. Anyway, a few weeks ago I was craving spicy peanut sauce — not an actual dish, mind you, just the sauce — and decided to get my fix through my other craving, for a salad. Behold, this pretty thing.


I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you’re capable of the putting-the-salad-together part without too much guidance. I’ve been losing a lot of faith in humanity recently, but I’m holding out on this one. Guidelines follow, as well as a rough recipe for peanut sauce.



Napa cabbage, chopped
Bean sprouts, ends trimmed
Whole carrots, skins removed and then peeled or finely sliced
Cucumbers, finely sliced or chopped
Shredded chicken
Green onion, diced
Cilantro, chopped

Get everything into more or less bite-sized form and combine in a bowl.

Peanut Sauce

*Based on my friend’s mom’s Vietnamese recipe, which I don’t know how different it is from Thai and I don’t really care because it was good, so there. And because I can’t leave things alone, I threw some other stuff in there. See the end of the previous sentence if you have an objection to this.

1 tsp. hoisin sauce
2 tbls. smooth peanut butter
1/2 tsp. sesame oil
splash of orange juice
clove of garlic, crushed or minced
Sriracha to taste

Warm the hoisin and peanut butter gently over low heat, then stir in everything else. Put on top of salad. Consume.

Also, those measurements are almost entirely bullshit. I just mixed stuff until I had the right ratio. I know I’m annoying, I’ll do better next time. Until then, just play around until you get it right.


Buttermilk Scones with Blackberry Jam

buttermilk scones 1

I don’t know if you guys heard the news, but. . . a couple weekends ago here in L.A., it. . . rained. It rained pretty hard. A lot of people were pretty shaken up. It was a dark 72 hours. Both figuratively and literally.

buttermilk scones 2

I, however, had a great time. I didn’t leave the couch except to change the DVD, replenish my stack of magazines, or get more food.

I also made and consumed scones, which are a fantastic rainy day thing to eat. To be honest, my mother did most of the heavy lifting on this one while I was absorbed in Les Miserables . But I did stir for a while. And I helpfully ate several of the scones so that she wouldn’t be tempted to and ruin her girlish figure. I know, it was pretty selfless. But my mom has done a lot for me, so I like to help her out sometimes.

buttermilk scones 3

I enjoyed these with some of my neighbor’s prize-winning blackberry jam. How hokey and country-sounding does that sound? But actually, he’s won first place at the state and county fairs for several years, and this shit is truly sensational. The only thing that could improve upon this whole experience is if I’d had some clotted cream. But I’ve been told that you can’t have everything. scones 4



via Food Network
*These aren’t traditional tea scones really, but they’re good. If you don’t have buttermilk or don’t care to get it, you can substitute milk with a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon that you let stand for 10 minutes.


3 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup currants (optional); raisins, chocolate, etc.
1 tablespoon heavy cream, for brushing


Preheat oven to 400.

In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.

Cut in butter with your fingers or a pastry cutter until it forms a coarse meal.

Add buttermilk and mix until just combined; add currants.

Transfer dough to a floured surface and divide in two, rolling each into 3/4 in. thick rounds. Cut each into 8 wedges and place on a lightly greased baking sheet or silicone mat, separated slightly.

Brush the tops lightly with cream and bake 15 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm.




Breakfast Tacos


When I was little, I thought breakfast for dinner was the coolest thing in the world. Pancakes and omelettes when it’s dark out?! Whaaaat.  Like I’ve said, children have odd little brains and that is why they’re so amusing.


Brunch has since replaced breakfast for dinner as my favorite meal, because I’m a classy adult now and stuff. And then I went and made this lunch/dinner for breakfast because I’m an innovator and I play by nobody’s rules but my own. Watch out.

breakfast taco 3

These look like you put some effort in but they’re secretly really fast to make. Next time I’m going to make my own tortillas though, because I’m a tortilla snob and the kind from the store are just not up to my standards. But the point is: you can eat this shiz for breakfast, lunch, dinner, midnight snack, 2:00pm hungover breakfast, whatever. Shine on, you crazy diamond.

inspired by Honestly Yum

corn tortillas
avocado, sliced
handful cilantro, chopped
green onion, diced
Cotija, Monterey Jack, or Feta cheese, crumbled or diced
Tapatío or whatever hot sauce floats your boat
salt and pepper to taste

Turn the stove on to low and warm and/or char the tortillas by placing them on the burner for a few seconds at a time, dragging them across the flame when you turn them over. Set aside on a plate and put them in an oven heated to 200 degrees, or cover with foil to keep warm.

Poach or lightly fry eggs.

Pile everything on top of the tortillas and go to town.

Cannoli Tart, or, Just a Giant Cannoli. Or Breakfast*

*As we’ve already discussed, I am a great rationalizer. Justifying questionable things to myself is a talent.


I lived in Spain for a year, and at one point I spent two weeks traveling around Italy. In Palermo I ate a cannoli — a big one — for breakfast every day, which I maintain was a justifiably nourishing breakfast because ricotta is cheese, which is high in protein and calcium, dark chocolate has antioxidants, and the candied orange peel has vitamin C —  ergo, I was basically doing my body a favor. 


Then I made this cannoli tart for my aunt’s birthday. My uncle sent me a picture of the large slice he cut himself for breakfast, which apparently some people objected to on the grounds that it’s unhealthy. See my above argument. And one more point in favor of cannoli breakfasts? The crust on this isn’t fried, it’s baked. Practically a health food, then. Boom. You’re welcome.

A note on chocolate: I prefer hand-chopping my own chocolate when cooking rather than using chocolate chips, for a lot of reasons, but anyway — I used a mix of bittersweet chips and chopped milk chocolate in this case. I did chop the chocolate chips to make them smaller as well, because I didn’t want big pockets of chocolate to overwhelm the cannoli taste.

This is really easy to put together. I personally couldn’t bring myself to eat it for breakfast, but NJ if you do.

Life is short. Eat dessert for breakfast.

via Tasty Kitchen


2 cups sifted flour
1/2 cup plus 1 tbl. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, cold and roughly cubed
1 egg
1 tbl. milk

2 1/4 cups ricotta cheese
1 egg
2 tsp. granulated sugar
2 tsp. Amaretto
chocolate to taste (1/3 – 1/2 cup)


Preheat over to 350.

For the crust: In a food processor (or by hand) combine flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon and pulse a few times. Add butter and pulse (or cut in by hand) until it’s combined with the flour, forming pea-sized little crumbles. Add egg and milk and mix until combined and a large ball of dough is formed.

Lay the dough between two pieces of wax paper and roll out with a rolling pin until it forms a circle big enough to fill a deep-dish pie pan or tart pan. Butter or spray the pan, remove dough from the paper, lift it over the pan, and gently press it in until it fills the sides and bottom.

Place it in the fridge to chill while you make the filling.

For the filling: Blend ricotta, egg, sugar, and amaretto until just combined. Add chocolate chips and stir in by hand.

Pour onto the crust and level it out. Bake for 25 – 35 minutes (mine was closer to 35 or 40, but my oven is old), until the crust is golden and the filling has puffed a bit and looks more “set”.

Allow to cool completely, then you can drizzle it with melted chocolate or some powdered sugar. Serve chilled.

Curried Red Lentil Coconut Stew

Its finally raining here! I am stoked.


Here’s some potential rainy-day food for you. It’s pretty great. Warm, filling, curry-y, and a bright, pretty orange, with a nice zing from lime and cilantro. If you have some naan, which I regret to say I did not, you’re in business.


I hope you know I’m tearing myself away from Jiro Dreams of Sushi to do this. Cause I’m an adult now and stuff. And I put others first.

Also it’s taken me like three hours to finish a one-hour movie because the phone won’t stop ringing and my car is apparently leaking oil or something. Details.


via Scaling Back

*I halved the recipe and it still made enough for several days’ lunches and some to freeze. The original amounts are below. 

2 cups red split lentils
1 onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, roughly diced
1 fresh jalapeño (or serrano chili), finely chopped, including seeds
1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon curry powder (or 1 tablespoon thai curry paste)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons salt (I used a little bit more, and it was sea salt)
1/3 cup tomato paste
7 cups water (I used half water, half chicken broth)
1 can unsweetened light coconut milk
1 15-ounce can of chickpeas
juice  of 1 lime
fresh cilantro and lime wedges for serving


Heat some olive oil in a Dutch oven or large soup pot and add onion, pepper, and jalapeño; cook until softened and fragrant, about 5 minutes.

Add garlic, ginger, tomato paste, and other spices; cook 2-3 more minutes until everything is well-mixed and warmed.

Add water/broth, coconut milk, lentils and chickpeas. Cook uncovered for 25-30 minutes, until much of the liquid has cooked away and you’re left with a thick soup.

Add a squeeze of fresh lime juice, more salt if needed, and some chopped cilantro.


Fleur de Sel Caramels

So here’s the good news : I found my camera connecter-cable thingie.


The other good news (for me) is that between these pictures and the pork-filled sticky buns and chocolate vanilla custard cake from Portos that people delivered during lunchtime, there’s a lot of delicious things in and around my mouth today.

There’s not really any bad news here. I just tend to start commonplace or mildly interesting sentences with “so here’s the good news” or, “the good news is”, which I’ve come to realize confuses some people. And yet I persist. Story of my life.

Anyway, I made these at Christmas; because I see one side of my family on Christmas Eve, I often make something breakfasty they can have the next morning — scones, a loaf bread, whatever — but since this year I was working and interviewing in the days leading up to Christmas (spoiler alert: this is what adulthood is like. Am currently brainstorming occupations that have Christmas vacation but that pay better than teaching and don’t involve large rooms of children), I couldn’t get it together. So I went with caramels instead, mostly because I’d been meaning to make them for a long time, partly because one batch makes a lot, and partly because I figured that in the midst of a season where everyone is getting sweets constantly, these were good because you don’t need to eat them right away.
Not that it stopped me, but you know.


These pictures are not good and for that I apologize

I did have a slight mishap, by which I mean near-total disaster that was a time-consuming pain in the ass to fix, but whatever. The caramels are difficult to cut neatly and attractively, and cutting them in the pan was problematic, as was getting them out of said pan, but I finally did it. Kind of. However, it only got worse when I placed them all in a container until I could come back and deal with them, at which point they had all melted together in a giant, mostly-solid mess that I then had to pry apart.

Like, what is this? Even the picture quality is shit. This is a failure on every level.

Like, what is this? Even the picture quality is shit. This is a failure on every level.

Obviously, since I had left this little endeavor until Christmas Eve, I had to slave all afternoon to fix it so I could take them to my aunt’s house to distribute. So do as I say, not as I do: I would line the baking pan with slightly-greased parchment paper or waxed paper, so you can lift it out and cut on a flat surface rather than fighting with the sides of the pan. If you still run into trouble and they come out all ugly and misshapen, the good news is: microwaves. I put some on a plate, heated them for like 8 seconds, and then reshaped them by hand in the wrappers. I’m deeply suspicious of reheated foods, but there was no difference in taste or texture that I could discern.

I also finished them with sea salt and some with chopped almonds. Chocolate drizzled on top after they’ve cooled would probably also be rad. Wherever your heart leads you.

from Mark Bitman, in the New York Times


4 tablespoons unsalted butter, more for greasing pan

1½ cups heavy cream

2 cups sugar

½ cup light corn syrup (I know. But I had corn syrup to use up and not enough time to find a new recipe. Not my first choice, but I think we’ll survive)

Pinch sea salt

1½ teaspoons vanilla extract, optional (I’m pretty sure I forgot to do this. It was still good)


Lightly grease a 9″ square baking pan (or better yet, line with wax paper, or parchment paper and lightly grease that) and set aside.

Combine everything except the vanilla extract in a broad saucepan or deep skillet and turn heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves.

It will bubble and darken; continue to cook and stir the mixture until it is dark gold, nearly brown, and measures 245 degrees on a cooking thermometer. This will take longer than you think (or it did for me, since I’m used to making toffee, if that helps you as a reference). If you don’t have a thermometer, Bitman says it’s ready when a small piece of it forms a firm ball when dropped in a glass of cold water.

Stir in the vanilla, if you’re going that route, and pour into the baking pan. Sprinkle with sea salt if you want, or nuts. Allow to cool, then remove from pan in a block and refrigerate, but not for too long, since the mixture should be cool enough to not be too sticky, but not so cold that it’s solid; good luck gauging that better than I did.

Use a sharp knife to cut the caramels and wrap in plastic, waxed paper, candy wrappers, etc.

Soy-Garlic Salmon with Japanese Marinated Cucumbers


Maybe it’s the post-holiday sugar coma and craving for lightness, maybe it’s my enduring love of chopsticks, but I’ve been really into Japanese food lately. Well, Japanese-inspired, if we’re being honest, cause I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t do this to their fish. And there’s been a healthy amount of chile sauces on my tofu, which are Chinese. So basically I’m a fancy fusionist is what I’m saying. Look out, world.


This is my go-to recipe for salmon. I’ve been making it since I was 13, when I ate it at my Filipino best friend’s house and forced her mother to teach me. She didn’t use exact measurements, so neither do I, so these are approximations. Don’t be scared — just go by taste.


The salmon itself may be only vaguely Japanese-inspired, but the marinated cucumbers are more legit. They’re really light and refreshing, what I would call tangy-sweet, and really easy, because what I mean by “marinated” is “thrown together in a bowl and let it sit while you make you everything else, or forget until the last minute and just let it hang out for five minutes”. If you’re really enterprising, you can also keep them in a jar overnight.

Finally, the toasted sesame seeds sound like an annoying extra step, but it takes no more than 1 minute, literally. It really gives them that final depth of flavor that rounds everything out. So don’t skip it. If I can be un-lazy enough to do it, so can you.


Ingredients (Salmon) :

1 salmon filet, preferably skin-on, about 2 lbs.

~2 tbl. low-sodium soy sauce

~2 tsp. olive or sesame oil

2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed or minced

Ingredients (Cucumbers) : 

1 regular cucumber, or 2-3 Japanese or Persian cucumbers

2 tbl. rice wine vinegar

1 1/2 tsp. cane sugar

pinch sea salt

1 tbl. sesame seeds


Preheat the over to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with tin foil and spray lightly with olive oil to prevent sticking. Place the fish skin side-down on the foil.

In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, olive oil, and crushed garlic. Adjust to taste. Spread on the salmon, and place in the oven. Bake 25 minutes, checking it and rotating halfway through.

While the salmon cooks, prepare the cucumbers. To toast the sesame seeds, set a skillet over medium heat and put some sesame seeds in it. No oil, just the seeds. Heat for about 1 minute, occasionally sliding the pan around to move the seeds, until they’re lightly toasted and fragrant. Remove from heat. (See, wasn’t that simple?)

Whisk together rice vinegar, sugar salt, and sesame seeds in a small bowl. Peel cucumbers and discard the skins. Use the vegetable peeler to continue peeling the cucumber into thin strips, going around until you get to the seeds, which you can eat or discard. Pat the strips slightly dry and place in the marinade.

Serve salmon and cucumbers over brown rice and get out your fanciest chopsticks.

Kids these Days and Their New-fangled Hot Chocolate

I’m confused by the concept of frozen hot chocolate.


Maybe I’m being obtuse, but does that not make it. . . a chocolate milk shake? I cannot fathom this. But I keep seeing recipes for it, and of course Serendipity has always been famous for it. I mean it looks good. But then again, milkshakes pretty much always look good to me. And this is clearly a milkshake, yeah?

I don’t get it and I think it’s making things harder than it needs to be. Let’s just call it what it is.

Also I stumbled across this recipe for how to make hot chocolate without a recipe, which sends my brain into a confusing paradoxical wormhole for a number of reasons.

Picture 6


I feel I don’t need to point out why this makes no sense. I haven’t bothered to actually follow the link and investigate, mind you. I’m just making a snap judgement. Keeps things interesting.

But also, really, who the hell needs a recipe to make hot chocolate? Besides orphans maybe.
Seems like a waste of internet.

This is all totally inconsequential, obviously. I just really like hot chocolate, and now I feel like I can’t even keep up anymore.

Marbled Pumpkin Cheesecake Tart


There is a fat kid inside me who is constantly trying to get out.

There is also a drag queen in there. And a kitty cat. But that’s not why we’re here.


We’re here for this pumpkin cheesecake tart, which I made for the first of my two Thanksgivings this past weekend. To the eternal joy of my inner fat kid, my dad’s side of the family does Thanksgiving a week before, out of a desire for familial equality, or possibly an insatiable love of food. Either way, I’m good with it.


After finally getting my hands on the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook and discovering this recipe that combines four of my favorite things — pumpkin pie and cheesecake, plus graham cracker AND ginger snaps as a crust — I selflessly volunteered to make dessert. This was one of them. And it was phenomenal.


It’s more firm than pumpkin pie, closer to cheesecake in texture (shocking, right), and it has more flavor; it isn’t watery like normal pumpkin pie can sometimes be. And did I mention the graham-cracker-ginger-snap hybrid crust. Basically I’m saying I’ve one-upped pumpkin pie. You’re welcome.

Don’t be put off by how long/complicated/time-consuming the recipe looks: it comes together quickly and it’s actually really simple. Although I did find that there seemed to be a bit too much batter because it did overflow a bit. I might have mis-measured the pumpkin or something? I say that as a question because I don’t think I did, but I’m scarred because of this one time over the summer when I was trying to double a cookie recipe and accidentally quadrupled the butter, and it was a whole ordeal and at the end I had like 72 cookies. We don’t need to talk about it. 

from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook



~16 ginger snap cookies (4 oz.)

5 1/2 sheets of graham crackers (3 oz.)

1/2 stick (4 tbl.(butter)

Cheesecake Batter

4 oz. (1/2 brick) cream cheese, well-softened

3 tbl. granulated sugar

1 large egg yolk

Pumpkin Batter

1 large egg

1 large egg white

1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree

1/4 granulated sugar

1/4 brown sugar

1/2 tsp. table salt

3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground ginger

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

pinch nutmeg

1 cup heavy cream


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Finely grind ginger snaps and graham crackers in a food processor (or put them in a ziploc and smash the hell out of them/roll over them with a rolling pin) — you should get about 1 1/2 cups. Add the melted butter and process until the crumb mixture is combined.

Press the crust mix firmly into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-in. tart pan with a removable bottom. Place pan on a rimmed baking sheet (you bake it on here so it doesn’t fall apart. I don;t know if that’s obvious or not. But I didn’t get it at first).

Mix cheesecake batter ingredients together in a small bowl until smooth.

In a large bowl, beat the egg and egg white lightly with a fork or electric beater. Whisk in the pumpkin, sugars, salt, and spices. Gradually whisk in the cream.

Pour the pumpkin mix into the pan on top of the crust. Dollop the cheesecake batter over the pumpkin batter, the marble the two together attractively (hopefully) with a knife, taking care not to disturb the crust.

Bake 10 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350 and bake for another 30 to 40 minutes, or until a fork or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool completely on a rack and serve at room temperature or cold.

Soba Noodles with Eggplant and Mango

I just want to give a shout-out to whoever invented noodles. Noodles are great, no? Pretty much all noodles. Especially Asian noodles.


Last year I discovered Soba noodles, aka Japanese Buckwheat Noodles. How many more times can I say that word in this post? How long will it be before I get PB&J Otter’s classic song  “Noodle Dance” out of my head? Time will tell.

Moving on. Soba noodles are really great: they have a soft texture and a mild but distinctive taste, and they don’t leave you with the heavy feeling that Italian pasta (delicious though it is) often does. They also contain all eight essential amino acids. There, you learned something today.


I recently checked out Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook Plenty. He’s an Israeli restauranteur in London and it’s a vegetarian cookbook with absolutely gorgeous photos. I was a vegetarian for three years — I’m not anymore but I still eat a lot of vegetarian dishes — and I wish this had been out back then cause there is some really good stuff in here. Including several soba recipes.

I added tofu to this for extra protein, but you can leave it out or use chicken instead. The recipe calls for fresh red chiles for the dressing; I went to four grocery stores, including a Latin-American market and an Asian market, because I am obsessive and single-minded. I could only find dried. So I grabbed a little red jalapeño and used that instead. The other time I made this, I skipped the chile altogether and just splashed some sri racha in the sauce, which was also really good. Possibly better. Finally, I cut down on the amount of onion, because it was pretty overwhelming, but if you’re a better planner-aheader than me, you can just soak them in ice water for a few minutes first.

*Update: did I discover a goddamn red chile plant growing out in my backyard yesterday? Yes. Yes I did.

adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolonghi


1/2 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 fresh red chile, finely chopped — or Sri Ratcha
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
grated zest and juice of 1 lime
2-3 tablespoons sunflower, canola or peanut oil (*The original recipe calls for 1 cup of sunflower oil, but I didn’t feel the need to use that much)
2 small eggplants, cut into 3/4-inch dice
8  ounces soba noodles
1 large ripe mango, roughly diced
handful of  basil leaves, chopped (if you can get some use Thai basil, but much less of it)
1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced

In a small saucepan gently warm the vinegar, sugar and salt for up to 1 minute, just until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and add the garlic, chile and sesame oil. Allow to cool, then add the lime zest and juice.

In a large pan, heat the oil and shallow-fry the eggplant; you’ll probably have to do it in batches. Once golden brown remove to a colander, sprinkle liberally with salt and leave there to drain.

Meanwhile, cook the noodles in plenty of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally. It should take about 7 minutes. Drain and rise well under running cold water. Shake off as much of the excess water as possible, then leave to drain.

Toss the noodles with the dressing, mango, eggplant, half of the herbs and the onion. You can now leave this aside for 1 to 2 hours if you want. When ready to serve, add the rest of the herbs and mix well.

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