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A Speedy Company Dinner

Herbed RiceBy Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

We had company for dinner last night. And since I’m in the middle of getting my house ready for a reunion of former coworkers on Friday, I didn’t have a lot of time to pull this meal together.

When I need a no-fuss main dish, I rely on Spicy Grilled Shrimp. The shrimp are grilled in their shells after marinating for just 30 minutes. And clean-up is a breeze when there are no pots and pans to wash afterwards.

Another go-to choice when I am time-pressed is Herbed Rice, an easy side dish I developed over the years. Simply cook rice in canned chicken broth and water, then toss with a mixture of minced onion, butter and herbs. If you own a rice cooker, this one is as easy as it gets. This rice will go with shrimp, fish or chicken—and plays well with any meats. Continue Reading »

Orange Waffles

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

Is it just me, or are waffles really superior to pancakes? It’s pretty much the same batter, yet the one with the crisp walls and deep crevices to capture puddles of melted butter and maple syrup, seems more special—and more delicious.

Steve is the breakfast maker in our house, and it’s not unusual for him to be in the kitchen early on a Sunday morning, whipping up biscuits, muffins, pancakes or waffles, as he did yesterday. Of all the breakfast breads, my favorite is waffles—especially Orange Waffles, bright with citrus accents from orange juice and orange zest. Continue Reading »

Valentine's Day cookies

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

Recently, my go-to cookie has been a simple, chocolate spritz cookie. It’s surprising because my cookie press had been gathering dust in a remote cabinet for years.

I rediscovered this helpful baking tool when I wanted to make cookies in a hurry. By using a cookie press, you can press out shapes without having to go through the lengthier process of chilling the dough, rolling it, cutting out cookies and rerolling the scraps to recut more.

These are crisp, chocolaty cookies that aren’t too sweet. They’re tiny, so you don’t have to worry about overindulging.

So, for Valentine’s Day my granddaughter and I made some chocolate spritz cookies after preschool. We’re going to package small handfuls in cellophane bags, tie each bag with a bow, and give them as gifts, along with a homemade Valentine card. Continue Reading »

Miso soup

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

My mom was a great cook who made excellent soups and stews. But when I was sick, she always heated up a can of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup and brought it to my sickbed on a tray, with buttered toast.

I’ve been fighting a cold, and I’ve taken to bed recently. Steve has been pampering me, bringing me breakfast in bed and cooking all the meals.

But yesterday, what I really wanted was soup. I no longer crave canned chicken noodle soup, but I got up and made myself some miso soup; it has some of the same comfort food magic of my childhood, and it takes not much more time and effort than opening and heating a can. Continue Reading »

Bento

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

I’ve read that there’s a lot of pressure on Japanese mothers to make kawaii (cute) bento lunches for their kids. I’m sure you’ve seen photos of some of the more elaborate creations.

As grandma of a 3 ½-year old preschooler, I’ve started to make my granddaughter a bento lunch every Friday. Her mom stops by to pick it up on the way to school.

I’m not in it for the glory.

Little Miss T, a delight in every other way, is a picky eater and prefers to play at lunchtime rather than sit down to eat. Her lunchbox, packed with a sizable quantity of food, returns home daily with most of it untouched. Continue Reading »

Hoisin Spare Ribs V2

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

The first Chinese dish I learned to make was Hoisin Spare Ribs. I was a newlywed, right out of college, living in New York City. Steve’s friend Richard came to visit us from Yale, where he was a med student.

I remember making curried shrimp for dinner and being surprised when my budget-wise shrimp shrank, becoming miniscule nuggets of pink, floating in a sea of curry sauce.

So, Richard took it upon himself to teach me to cook a few things, including Hoisin Spare Ribs, and I discovered the deliciousness of hoisin sauce for the first time. This recipe requires just six ingredients and about 15 minutes to prep. Continue Reading »

Chocolate Decadence Cake

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

This year, I’m thinking of skipping the time-consuming Bûche de Noël for Christmas Eve dinner and making a simpler dessert, instead. One idea is to go with a recipe that I helped to promote for Ghirardelli 20 years ago. Chocolate Decadence Cake—even the name of the recipe seems retro today—used to be one of my favorites, but I’d forgotten about it with the passing of years.

This is a fairly easy recipe and it’s nice and chocolatey, which would please my granddaughter. The cake is topped with drifts of whipped cream, fresh raspberries and chocolate leaves. (I skipped the raspberries for this test.) Continue Reading »

The Doll Party

the-doll-party

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

Anticipating that our three-year-old grandchild would be lonely, with grandpa and grandma off to Japan for 25 days, I promised the little girl, “When grandma gets back, we’ll have a doll party!” Her eyes lit up.

Last Thursday, I made good on my pledge, working from early morning until the afternoon of the party, preparing some yummy little tidbits. I washed all the doll dishes (mismatched—maybe I should buy her new ones for Christmas) and set the coffee table in our family room with the tiny plates, cups and utensils.

I cut out stars and circles from bread for little tea sandwiches—ham and cheese, egg salad, and cream cheese and chutney. I made tiny chocolate cupcakes in mini-muffin tins, frosted them with chocolate frosting and decorated with little candy canes. Continue Reading »

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