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Grilled Lemongrass Chicken

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

I don’t know about you, but chicken is our go-to meat and it gets boring. Recently, I was mulling over what to do with some chicken thighs.

What did I want to eat? What kind of flavor would excite me to cook?

I started thinking Vietnamese—something with high flavor and a different taste profile from what I’d been cooking over the past few days.

So, I boned the thighs, marinated them and Steve grilled them when he came home from work. Continue Reading »

Ham and Artichoke Cheese SpreadBy Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

It used to be that kids went back to school the Tuesday after Labor Day—that bittersweet time when summer is officially over, and the excitement of a new school year begins.

These days, school is in full swing by Labor Day. Little Miss T. returned to preschool two weeks ago, and I am back to the grandma routine, fixing the Friday bento lunch. (Mom and dad do the other days.)

You may remember that I started to make the bento lunches because my grandchild is such a picky eater and lunches were returning home uneaten. I started out armed with great tips from bento expert Sheri Chen. Continue Reading »

Your Summer Recipes

Vietnamese-Style Grilled Pork and Lettuce Wraps

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

Each summer, Special Fork goes on hiatus in August, returning after Labor Day. So, this is our last post for the summer. We will return on Monday, September 11.

Steve and I always take our traveling vacation in the spring or fall. This year, if you’ve followed my blog posts, Instagram or Twitter feed, you know we were in the South of France and Turin, Italy, visiting food markets and eating great meals.

August is a staycation time for us. A time to chill and regroup. We are fortunate to live in an area where there are lots of destinations for day trips—the Napa Valley, St. Helena, Monterey and more. It’s also time to visit museums, putter in the garden and do home projects. Continue Reading »

Roasted Cheese-Stuffed Figs with Bacon

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

Growing up in Hilo, we had a fig tree. It was one of many fruit trees in our backyard.

The mango, mountain apple, tangerine, litchi and guava trees thrived in our lush, Hawaiian climate. The fig tree did not.

It was puny and didn’t yield much fruit. And the fruit it did produce tended to be undersized. Ants, attracted to the sweetness, burrowed into the figs so you had to split them open to check for the little critters before taking a bite. Still, I loved that fig tree and to this day, I can’t wait for fig season.

The season runs from late summer through early fall, so July is a little early to be buying figs, but I couldn’t resist purchasing some I found last week, even if they weren’t so perfect and I knew they wouldn’t be so sweet. I figured these out-of-season figs were a good candidate for roasting, which would intensify their sweetness, and wrapping in bacon, which would remedy all sins. Continue Reading »

Monster cupcakesBy Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

We had a family birthday party for my grandchild, who just turned one. There were just seven of us, including the birthday baby.

Given it was a busy time, I was looking for a way to acknowledge this milestone in a festive way that would give our grandson his due, but not be an exhausting production. So, as a family, we decided on a weekend brunch.

If you have a birthday celebration for a child coming up, some of these ideas may be helpful to you, too.

The first thing I always plan for is the cake. This sets up the party theme. I’ve baked many a birthday cake when my kids were young, improvising to create Bert and Ernie, making a jailhouse cake when the party was on Alcatraz, and so forth. Last year, I made Elmo cupcakes for my granddaughter. Continue Reading »

A Cool Noodle Bowl

Cold Noodle Bowl

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

Are you wilting in summer heat? Here in San Francisco, our temperature is rising from the low 60s to the high 60s, which is probably our seasonal norm.

So, lucky us, it’s not so hot that we are battling sluggish appetites and cooking lethargy. But if you are, here’s my favorite solution: cold Japanese noodles.

Somen, thin Japanese wheat noodles, cooks in just two minutes–one minute in boiling water and one minute in simmering water. Soba, thin buckwheat noodles, takes a little more time—about five to eight minutes. Either is delicious served cold with a dipping sauce. Continue Reading »

Strawberry Bavarian Cream

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

When we were kids, my sister and I loved the annual Hawaii County Fair. Thrilling carnival rides, hot dogs and cotton candy, the smell of sawdust, strings of night lights, booths offering free stuff…it was quite the highlight of our year, growing up in small town Hilo.

Other kids may have been bored with the exhibits of foodstuffs and crafts by local homemakers. But we couldn’t wait to check them out because each year, mom would submit entries for competition and we were proud of her talents. Continue Reading »

Grilled Corn and Tomato SaladBy Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

If you’re cooking for the Fourth of July, a midweek holiday is not your friend. Who has time to prep on the workday before?

Still, I’m glad that, unlike Memorial Day and Presidents Day, the holiday falls on its true date—and hasn’t been switched irreverently to the closest Monday for the convenience of a three-day weekend.

I’m trying to streamline our Fourth of July menu with simple-to-prepare dishes to accommodate a Tuesday family get-together. Recipes from our Special Fork archives and recipe database will ensure a do-able celebratory lunch. You might like to try some of these recipes, too. Continue Reading »

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