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How to Cook Fast

Sausage and Grapes 300x244 How to Cook FastBy Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

Recently, I was a guest on a Kansas City radio food show, LIVE! From Jasper’s Kitchen, hosted by Chef Jasper Mirabile and Kimberly Stern. Invited to talk about the story of Special Fork, ten minutes flew by and there was hardly time to get to some practical cooking tips.

Having put some thought to it for the show, I’m sharing some of our best quick cooking tips with you, as an extension of the radio interview. I’d love to hear your best tips, too!

Top Ten 30-Minute Recipes

I culled through many hundreds of recipes in our recipe database to come up with my top ten quick favorites. While all Special Fork recipes take no more than 30 minutes to prep, cooking time may be extra. These ten I’ve identified can each be made, start to finish, in about a half hour total. Continue Reading »

Easter toast 300x225 Bunny Toasts for a Toddler’s Easter Basket

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

I’ve been wracking my brains, trying to figure out how to fill Tara’s Easter basket. No chocolate eggs or bunnies for a child who isn’t yet two years old. So, how to delight her?

I didn’t want to make cookies, because I’d rather not give her anything sugary. And homemade crackers could be tough on her teeth. So I came up with…Bunny Toasts!

I packaged the Bunny Toasts in a cellophane bag and they looked as festive and special as any sweet Easter treat. Then I took small plastic containers, filled them with mom-approved snacks (Cheerios, cut-up cashews) and decorated each container with ribbon and a bunny cutout made by tracing cookie cutter shapes. With some Easter stickers, crayons and coloring books, I’m all set. Continue Reading »

Mary Burns’s Irish Scones 300x225 Irish Scones for an Irish DayBy Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

Tomorrow, on St. Patrick’s Day, I’ll be baking up some Irish scones. And I’ll be thinking fondly of Ireland and Mary Burns.

Mary is a resourceful dairy farmer in County Cork who took over the family farm when her husband died, preserving a heritage of more than 150 years. Milk from her Friesian cows goes into Kerrygold dairy products, as well as into her own farmhouse cheeses. Mary is the revered maker of a delicious, handmade cheese called Ardrahan, found in specialty stores and some restaurants here in the U.S. Continue Reading »

Lamb Couscous 300x225 Lamb X 2, Part 2: CouscousBy Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

Many years ago, when Steve and I went on our first trip to Paris, we were advised by our budget travel book to eat couscous as a way to save money on meals. Of course, today in Paris and elsewhere, there are countless budget choices from practically every corner of the world. But then, couscous was one of the few options – and it was always delicious!

In France, couscous refers not only to the couscous itself, but also to the savory stew served over it, redolent of fragrant spices. It was completely exotic to us as transplants from Hawaii, newly living in New York City, and visiting Paris for the first time. Continue Reading »

Lamb X 2

Roast Lamb with Vegetables 300x225 Lamb X 2By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

At Special Fork, we don’t often write posts about planning ahead, because our goal is to solve the dinnertime dilemma: what to cook at 4 p.m. for dinner that day.

We know that meals planned around recycled leftovers are timesavers. If you can cook something one day and turn it into something else the next, you’re ahead of the game.

However, if you’re late from work that next day, or kids have an unexpected event that necessitates a speedy takeout dinner, or if you just don’t feel like cooking, that second effort might never happen and the leftovers end up wastefully, in the trash bin. Continue Reading »

Roasted Endives 300x225 Take the Bitter with the SweetBy Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

I’ve been to an endive farm and I’ve seen how they’re cultivated. But I hadn’t noticed that an endive, while still attached to its chicory root base, looks like a French tulip.

Whoever saw that similarity was brilliant. And whoever gathered them into a bouquet to gift food writers at Valentine’s Day was inspired.

Once again, a few days before February 14, I received such a bouquet from California Endive Farms to remind me how much I love these crisp vegetables, with their nutty, sweet flavor and slightly bitter edge. I lopped off the chicory root to toss, and bagged my treasured heads of endive in plastic, thinking about the delectable possibilities… Continue Reading »

Happy Chinese New Year!

Happy Chinese New Year 300x225 Happy Chinese New Year!By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

I haven’t made a Chinese New Year dinner for friends after the nine-course extravaganza I attempted when I was 25 or so, living in New York City. I don’t know what inspired that madness. I just remember the exhaustion.

If you’ve followed my posts, you may remember that our family doesn’t celebrate Chinese New Year, with all its lovely traditions, embraced by many Chinese-American families. While my heritage is Japanese, I would have tried to nurture the custom, if it had significance for Steve. But his family didn’t observe Chinese New Year either, possibly because my mother-in-law was a third-generation Chinese-American and China was a long time in her family’s past. Continue Reading »

Valentine’s Day Made Easy 300x225 Valentine’s Day Made EasyBy Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

After Tara was born, we started the tradition of Friday night family dinners. It’s a great way to ensure that Steve and I get to see our granddaughter at least once a week, as well as, of course, our two sons and daughter-in-law.

This dinner is just an everyday family meal – often featuring a recipe we’ve posted on Special Fork, or one from the Special Fork database of recipes.

If Friday night dinner falls close to an occasion, such as Halloween or Valentine’s Day, I like to set a themed table to create a festive mood. This Friday, it’s hearts and flowers. Continue Reading »

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