Sunday, April 24, 2011

Coca-Cola Baked Ham

If it's Easter, then it must be time for chocolate bunnies, peeps, and baked ham. I'm not usually a big fan of baked ham as I find it a bit too "hammy." I think it dates back to an unfortunate baked ham incident I had on an international flight when I was a kid. I was already a bit nauseous from motion-sickness and when they served the in-flight meal of baked ham, the smell and taste nearly sent me over the top (and not in a good way). Thus, in all my years, I've never endeavored to bake a ham.

However, as my friends know, I'm a bit of a Coke addict. Well, Diet Coke to be exact. So when I found this recipe for Coca Cola Baked Ham in my Classic Cooking with Coca Cola Cookbook, I thought it might be time to break my baked ham virginity.

Boy, am I glad I did! This was by far the best baked ham I've ever made (ok...I recognize that isn't saying much, but it was quite good!) The Coca-Cola imparts a nice sweetness and helps to keep the ham quite moist.

There are quite a few recipes that can be found online. While some recipes call for braising the ham on the stovetop, a quick phone consult with Dean's mother resulted in the oven-baked method. The recipe below is mashed together from a number of them, including Nigella Lawson's and Paula Dean's. Enjoy!


9 lb ham
1 liter Coca-Cola*
1 onion, peeled and quartered
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 ½ cup bread crumbs
1 ½ cup brown sugar

1) In a large pot, pour the Coca-Cola over the ham, cover, and let marinate in the refrigerator overnight (or for at least 4 hours).

2) Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes prior to baking.

3) Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

4) Place ham and Coca-Cola in a roasting pan. Cover loosely with aluminum foil. Bake for 3 hours (about 20 min per lb). Baste the ham every 30 minutes.

5) When the ham is done, remove from the oven. Increase oven temperature to 350 degrees.

6) Carefully remove ham to a large plate.

7) Carefully pour 2 cups of the Coca-Cola from the roasting pan into a small saucepan.

8) Bring the Coca-Cola to a boil and reduce heat to medium-high. Cook for 10-12 minutes or until the Coca-Cola forms a thick syrup.

9) Brush the syrup all over the ham.

10) In a mixing bowl, mix together the Dijon mustard, brown sugar, and bread crumbs. Carefully rub the mixture over the ham. Cover loosely with aluminum foil.

11) Bake at 350 degrees for an additional 30 minutes.

12) Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Makes 15-20 servings.

* Ed's Note: Do NOT use Diet Coca-Cola. You need the real sugar in regular Coca-Cola for this recipe.

Monday, February 07, 2011

IsItEDible in Honolulu 2010

I've been so fortunate to have the opportunity to travel to Honolulu almost every year. It's definitely one of my favorite food cities. My list of "must-go-to" restaurants seems to keep growing with each trip and so it's impossible to hit all of them. On this trip to Honolulu, I did have the opportunity to go back to Yummy's and Tokkuri Tei. Oh soooo good.

Here are some of the new (to me) places I found on this trip....

Ramen Nakamura
2141 Kakakaua Ave
Honolulu, HI 96815
Mini combo $11.80

This little hole-in-the-wall was right by the hotel I stayed at. Most of the folks I saw in this place were ordering in Japanese, which to me is always a good thing. For just $11.80, I had the mini-combo which included a bowl of hakana ramen (a mix of their "shoyu" and "salt" flavors), fried rice, and three pieces of gyoza.

Yama's Fish Market
2332 Young St.
Honolulu, HI 96826
(808) 941-9994

I didn't realize it until this trip, but I've eaten food from here many times. For many of my work meetings, our local host organization orders the lunches from here. Their Hawaiian plates range in price from $5.35 (for lau lau and macaroni salad) to $9.50 (for kalua pig, beef stew, and mac salad) and are oh so delicious. On this trip, I was craving haupia (kind of like a coconut jello) and Yama's definitely satisfied my craving. Try their sweet potato haupia. A small square will only set you back $1.45.

Sweet Home Cafe
2334 S. King St.
Honolulu, HI 96826
(808) 947-3707

I'm not typically a fan of hot pot, but this Taiwanese style hot pot restaurant has ingrained itself in my gastronomic memory. This place is so popular that you'll most likely need to wait a bit before you are seated. Be sure to add our name to the waiting list hanging on the door. Here's how it works: you pick your broth from a list of 14 options. If you can't decide, then you can actually order two broths that come in a split bowl. The steaming bowls of broth are placed on a portable induction heater on your table (I SOOO want one of these). We really enjoyed the lemongrass ($5.95) and spicy with sour cabbage ($8.95). You can also place an order for different thinly sliced meats. Try the beef tendon ($3.75)! Or if you are not so adventerous, the sliced beef, pork and chicken are also all $3.75 each. There are two sets of refrigerators in the back where you can pick out additional items such as fried bean curd, vegetables, and a bunch of different type of balls (beef, fish, shrimp, etc.) There's also a dipping sauce station where you can mix up your own dipping sauce. BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE. Did I mention the free dessert? My friend and I received a huge bowl of shaved ice with tapioca pearls, a coffee flavored flan, and sweet almond tofu. Who gives you FREE dessert anymore? Thank you Sweet Home Cafe. I will definitely be back as soon as I can.

Duke's Waikiki
2335 Kalakaua Ave, Suite 116
Honolulu, HI 96815
(808) 922-2268

The lunch buffet ($13.95) here was decent for the price and, but what I really appreciated was the amazing, beachside view. I took this picture right from my table.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pan-Fried Pork Chops

One of my favorite restaurants in Honolulu is Side Street Inn. Each time I go there, their pan-fried pork chops is always one of the dishes that ends up on the table. I saw their recipe in Bon Appetit magazine a LONG time ago, and FINALLY got around to trying this dish at home.

Sometimes when you order fried pork chops in a restaurant, they are really crispy but the meat ends up dried out. Not so with this recipe. I'm not exactly sure why, but give it a try and see for yourself. You might end up booking yourself a ticket to Hawaii to try the real thing.


1 cup flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
8 pork chops (3/4 inch thick)
canola oil

1) Mix flour, cornstarch, garlic powder, and salt in plate.

2) Fill a large cast iron skillt with oil until about 1/4 inch deep. Heat on medium heat.

3) Dredge 4 pork chops in flour mixture. Shake off excess.

4) Pan-fry pork chops for 5 minutes. Then flip and fry for an additional 5 minutes.

5) Remove to a paper-towel lined plate.

6) Repeat with remaining pork chops.

Makes 4 servings.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Broiled Brussel Sprout Chips

In my adulthood, I've developed a true appreciation for brussel sprouts. Especially the crispy, caramelized part of roasted brussel sprouts. So, I thought to myself, "Self, somone should come up with a recipe that celebrates that crispy, caramelized goodness." Little did I know that I had already been beaten to the punch as I found several recipes online.

My recipe is adapted from a version that was originally posted by Sandy Smith of Eat Real.


16 large (golf-ball sized)brussel sprouts, washed and dried
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

1) Set your oven rack so that the top shelf is about 4 inches from the broiler. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2) Trim about a centimeter from the bottom of a brussel sprout. Carefully separate the leaves. You may need to continue to trim the bottom as you go to make it easier to pull off the leaves. When you can't pull off anymore, then cut the remaining brussel sprout in half. Repeat with remaining sprouts.

3) Place the leaves on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Stir until the leaves are well-coated. Carefully flatten the leaves out to a single layer.

4) Bake the leaves for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with garlic powder. Use a spatula to turn the leaves. Return to the oven. Switch your oven to broil.

5) Broil for an additional 3 to 5 minutes. Keep a close eye on them so that the leaves don't get too burnt.

6) Remove from oven. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Fried Chicken Sandwich

If you've never been to Bakesale Betty, then you are seriously missing out. Many folks from across the Bay Area line up to get a taste of her fried chicken sandwiches ($7.75). And they are so worth the wait. Crunchy chicken and spicy slaw served in an Acme Bakery torpedo roll. De-friggin-licious! While there aren't any tables to sit at inside, there are stools and ironing boards (yes, that's right, I said "ironing boards") that are set up outside on the sidewalk. Bakesale Betty 5098 Telegraph Oakland, CA 94609 (510) 985-1213 My office recently had a potluck picnic, and while I was perusing fried chicken recipes that would stay crisp for a picnic, I came across a SF Gate article where Betty shared her recipe for her famous fried chicken sandwich. I LOVE Betty's version, but I wanted to do a bit of an Asian twist. Below is my adaptation of her recipe. Don't get overwhelmed by the recipe below. It may look like a lot of ingredients and steps, but essentially you are making the fried chicken, the coleslaw, and the vinaigrette. But if it still feels too daunting, you can always just head over to Bakesale Betty and order up one of theirs.

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
3 cloves garlic, grated
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, minced

1 large red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup red wine vinegar
4 jalapenos, halved, seeded, and thinly sliced
1/2 cup parsley
1/2 green cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 red cabbage, cored and thinly sliced

6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup lime-infused olive oil

1 cup water
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

oil for frying
8 torpedo rolls (or other large sandwich roll)

1) In a large ziploc bag, combine the grated ginger, grated garlic, soy sauce, fish sauce, and cilantro. Mix well and place chicken thighs in bag. Marinate for 1/2 hour.

2) Place 1 cup of red wine vinegar in a medium bowl. Marinate the sliced red onions for 1/2 hour to quickly pickle them. After 1/2 hour, remove the red onions to a large salad bowl, but don't dump out the red wine vinegar. You'll need to reserve 6 tablespoons to make the vinaigrette.

3) To make the vinaigrette, whisk 6 tablespoons of the reserved red wine vinegar, mustard, salt, and olive oil.

4) To make the coleslaw, combine the pickled red onions, jalapenos, parsley, and cabbage together in a large bowl. Toss with the vinaigrette.

5) Fill a cast-iron skillet with enough oil so that it is just under half-filled. Turn heat to medium.

6) Mix all the ingredients for the batter together in a large bowl.

7) Mix all the ingredients for the coating together in a large plate.

8) When the oil is hot, dip 4 of the chicken thighs in the batter. Lift out and dredge in the coating and shake off excess. Carefully place in the hot oil and fry for 5-7 minutes per side. Remove to a wire rack (with cookie sheet underneath to catch the oil).

9) Repeat with the remaining for chicken thighs.

10) To serve, place coleslaw on bottom of roll and top with two chicken thighs. Slice in half, if desired.

Makes 4 large sandwiches or 8 smaller sandwiches.

Ed's Note: I like the tartness that the lime gives to the vinaigrette. If you can't find lime-infused olive oil, then just use regular olive oil. You could also try adding the zest from one lime.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Oven-Broiled Barbecue Ribs

With the fourth of July holiday behind us, we are definitely in the thick of barbecue season. Although if you ask me, I believe that the season for barbecue lasts all year. If you have a craving for barbecue, but don't feel like firing up the grill (or if you don't have a grill to fire up), here is a super easy recipe that will leave you very satisfied.


4 lbs pork spare ribs
1/2 medium sized onion, sliced
1 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce

1) Fill a large pot about 1/3 full with water. Bring the water to a boil.

2) Cut the spare ribs into portions of 2 to 3 ribs. Place rib portions in the pot along with the onion slices.

3) Cover the pot and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for 1 hour.

4) Adjust your oven rack so that it is about 4-5 inches from your broiler). Preheat broiler.

5) Place the ribs in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet. Brush the tops of the ribs with 1/4 cup of barbecue sauce. Broil for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and brush the tops of the ribs with another 1/4 of barbecue sauce. Broil for 5 minutes.

6) Remove from oven. Turn the ribs over and brush with additional 1/4 cup of barbecue sauce. Broil for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and brush the tops with the remaining 1/4 cup of barbecue sauce.

Makes 4 servings.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

IsItEDible in Los Angeles

Last month, I spent a few days in Los Angeles for a training. While I was there, I revisited one of my favorite restaurants, Daikokuya (see the past posting here) and was introduced to some new (to me) places by my LA based colleagues and friends.

327 E. 1st Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 626-1680

This place is every bit as popular as it was when I first visited it in December 2008. There isn't a host/hostess so be sure to sign in on the clipboard when you walk in. Although their gyoza is quite delicious, I opted to start off with fried spicy tuna ($5.95), a plate of 5 dumpling-esque bundles of spicy tuna wrapped in a shiso leaf which is then dipped in tempura batter and deep fried. This comes with a little bowl of dipping salt (perhaps MSG) and a lemon wedge. Place a little of both on each "dumpling"and you are in for a treat! Note that the deep-frying does cook the tuna so don't expect the same consistency of a raw spicy tuna roll.

Their signature dish, the Daikokuya Ramen, is still delicious and still only $8.50. This time, I asked for the "kotteri" flavor which uses added soup extracted from the back fat. It was a huge bowl of savory deliciousness!

Lazy Ox Canteen
241 South San Pedro St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 626-5299

Two of my LA colleagues recommended this canteen that focuses on fresh, seasonal ingredients. If you go, do so with a group of friends so you can order a bunch of small plates. And if you go between 5 pm - 7pm on Monday through Friday, they have a special five for $5 happy hour menu. I really enjoyed their pigs ear chicharon ($9) even though it was not quite what I expected. Instead of they typical pork rinds type chicaron, these were cut into strips that were chewy yet still crispy. I also really enjoyed the dashi marinated yellowtail with avocadao, hash brown, and creme fraiche.

Salad Farm
3675 Wilshire Blvd (at Hobart)
Los Angeles, CA 90010
(213) 249-9835

This small chain of restaurants had a location near the training I attended. I liked it so much I actually ate here twice. The ingredients are quite fresh and the salads are made to order (or as they say on their website, "We even toss your salad right in front of you!"). Definitely try the fajita steak salad ($7.75) which comes with mixed greens, tomatoes, sweet corn, grilled peppers, grilled onion, steak, avocado, and homemade salsa and served in a fried tortilla bowl. The Philly salad ($8.95) was also good. It comes with romaine, tomatoes, mushrooms, grilled onions, grilled peppers, steak, and cheese.

Brazil Express
3500 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90010
(213) 382-5659

Tucked inside the Normandie Plaza food court, this little Brazilian BBQ counter offers quite a deal. For $8.49, you can have partake of their lunch buffet which included barbecue chicken and steak (Brazilian style) and various side dishes included fried yucca and black beans and rice.

El Cholo
1121 S. Western Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90006
(323) 734-2773

This place has been around since 1922! On their menu, they claim to have invented nachos and the margerita. A large group of us went here for happy hour and dinner. The wait-staff couldn't have been any more accomodating or nice considering the size of our group. I tried their award winning (see the Rachel Ray Taco-Off) filet mignon tacos with cilantro rice and refried beans.

Hugo's Restaurant
12851 Riverside Drive
Studio City, CA 91607
(818) 761-8985

Ok, so this is technically in Studio City, but they also have a location in West Hollywood. For my last meal in LA, I had a chance to finally catch up with my long time friend Josh who I sang in a co-ed acapella group with in college. In all honesty, I was a bit overwhelmed at first by the extensive menu. And typically my gut reaction is that if a restaurant has too large of a menu, then the chefs/cooks don't really have a chance to perfect their dishes. But, we both quite enjoyed the Hugo burger ($12.85) featuring hormone and antibiotic free ground beef and the Cuban sandwich ($12.85) with grilled chicken breast, honey-chipotle sauce, fried plantains, goat cheese, organic mixed greens, tomatoes, and grilled red onions. Try it as a wrap! Hugo's burgers and sandwiches come with your choice of crispy fries or organic mixed greens. Beware, the fries are quite addictive.