Friday, October 14, 2011

Explanation for My Pledge to be Vegan


Foodie Fish

Many of you may be wondering, is the food buzz just a phase? You may have noticed in your childhood, your mother probably had phases where she would make the most amazing cuisine for dinner for a week, and then go back to “peas and mashed potatoes again?” For me, this is not a face. Food is my life. Some people eat to live, well I live to eat. When I eat, I always try to make it an event. I am like Remmy from Ratatouille, sometimes I get tired of taking and just want to make! Which is why it broke my heart when I have recently lost my ardor for cooking. I also started running out of time to cook, sophomore year and all.

Recently, I have not felt quite like myself. I have been finishing jars of peanut butter at a time instead of making something gourmet. I have also been to forcing myself to eat meat, just because I felt peer pressured. Actually, I have never been the BIGGEST fan of meat. I love lamb, in certain applications, but in general I just tell people I love meat. When I was little, I ate nothing but eggs and tofu every night as my protein. However, back then, I got made fun of for that and thought I did not even like tofu for a while. I needed a change. I have been craving soooo much chocolate, nuts, and seeds lately. I have not craved any non-plant sourced protein. Weird? I know.

I realized I needed a juristic change. I wanted dream about the next meal I would create. So for a variety of reasons, I was easily talked into taking Peta’s 30-day vegan pledge from a friend of my (he happens to be a blonde guy with dreadlocks).

Surprisingly, this change to veganism has made me incredibly happy. I am probably the fattest vegan in history, since I use it partially as an excuse to eat as many vegan desserts as possible. I have been stuffing my face with the most delicious vegan peanut butter cookie dough, matcha cupcakes, and a whole lot of other sweet vegan concoctions. My friends were surprised, but I have been vegan for a week and do not feel at all restricted and deprived. Conveniently, it is extremely easy to be vegan in Princeton with Whole Earth center and the underground Spice and Souk market.

My favorite part of the transition, I’m back baby! The constant need to cook and create is back. I love vegan cupcakes to death, and a friend of mine gave me the most awesome recipe for green tea cupcakes that are so moist and flavorful, I accidently ate the wrapper when licking it. Vegan cupcakes have to work twice as hard to be delicious. What I love most is how every ingredient contributes to the flavor. For an apple cake, you would use apple sauce rather than butter, which just gives it so much more tart, apple flavor.

I have tried a vegan burger, a vegan ‘meatball’ sub, and of course many pastries. I have really gotten into cooking vegan. You have to be so much more creative, and there is no meat or dairy to fall back on. Meat is an easy crowd pleaser, but I plan on challenging myself by making extremely desirable vegan dishes.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Kelsey's Banana Bread


Foodie Fish

Sorry it’s been so long since my last recipe! Who likes bananas? My close friend Kelsey is absolutely obsessed with them. She especially loves them adding both for flavor and moisture in banana bread! So I decided to invite her and some of my other friends over to make some. This banana bread recipe is the most moist you’ll ever get. The secret? Sour cream. Trust me on this one.


2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

1 stick of butter, softened

1 ½ cups sugar

½ teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 tablespoons sour cream

4-6 bananas, mashed

semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)

· Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

· Sift the flour, baking soda and powder

· Cream the butter with the salt and sugar

· Add eggs, vanilla, and sour cream to the mixture

· Then add the dry, sifted ingredients

· After the mixture is a smooth consistency, stir in the desired amount of chocolate chips

· Place the mixture in a bread pan and bake for 1 hour

What really did it for me is adding semi-sweet chocolate chips. We use a delicious organic high-end chocolate chip from Princeton’s Whole Earth Center.

The Restaurant Week Series Part V: Le Perigord

The first impression La Perigord gives is that it is a truly authentic French restaurant. The captain is very friendly and seems happy to seat you. He asks you about your evening in a thick French accent while handing you the menu and demanding the rest of the wait staff to bring out freshly picked flowers he is sure to keep the place operating smoothly. The fresh bread brought to the table was obviously straight out of the oven. The smell of baguette filled the air, and the fine French baguette was so warm steam came out when tearing a piece off to devour it. No butter required for this bread. Le Perigord makes an excellent first impression.

Paté du chef is a good start at a French restaurant. This chef happens to have a very good selection of spices in his paté. It came with ratatouille, a French stew, but it was very light and was certainly fit for those above the level of a peasant. The vegetable tart seemed more like a frittata with all due respects to the French. It was, however, delicious and had a flaky, buttery crust. This delicious slice of tart came with a tangy butter sauce. Some good advice for those planning on visiting this restaurant: after finishing the tart, ask for more baguette and soak up the remainder of the butter sauce with the bread. It is truly an out-of-this-world experience.

Incredible sauces was evident in the food during the main course as well. A bed of tiny scallops was covered in a red sauce, which must have been roasted tomatoes or something. The mustard sauce served with veal kidney was also worthy of being slurped with a spoon.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Restaurant Week Series Part IV: A Voce

This restaurant is a favorite amongst my entire family—with good reason. The atmosphere is modern and high class, but still has a laid back feel to it. The décor is very artistic, and they practically use their wine collection as a glass wall. The view of Columbus Circle is very relaxing while sitting comfortably in A Voce’s swivel chairs.

Although just being in A Voce feels like you’ve just stepped into the chicest lounge in New York City, it is the food that takes you out of this world. Insalata di peshche, or salad with peaches, is a very fresh-tasting seasonal dish. Thinly sliced peaches mingle with watercress and fresh whipped ricotta. The peaches were just ripe enough to be sweet, but still have a nice bite, with adds to the different textures of this salad. For those who have never had it before, squid ink pasta as an appetizer is an excellent way to experience something new. Although I will argue that the squid ink adds very little flavor, the pasta was still delicious. It was even able to make someone who cringed at the idea of eating squid ink lick her plate clean.

The lamb short ribs are the best option as a main dish. The lamb was incredibly tender and the flavor was strong, but not overwhelming. The dish was surprisingly sweet, but it still made a satisfying entrée.

The dessert was surprisingly salty. A semi-frozen lime mousse was unheard of to me. It was served over thinly sliced sweet watermelon that made sure the salty mousse still felt like dessert.

Chef Adam of A Voce is not only talented, but extremely considerate to his fans (in this case me!) When I asked for the Chef’s autograph, he came out to personally give it to me even though his restaurant was packed. A Voce is the best contemporary Italian place to go in New York.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Restaurant Week Series Part III: Artisanal

Foodie Fish

A simple atmosphere with nothing special really. However, service felt personalized. The wait staff was very friendly. Appetizers were good, but nothing out of this world. Salmon rillettes lacked in some smoky and dill flavor and it was a bit bland. The country pate was better, and the pickled vegetables it came with were nice and crisp—not over marinated.

The plats principaux were unique and a bit unexpected. Wild mushroom risotto was nice and creamy. There were corn and fava beans inside, which was very different from many other mushroom risottos. Black truffle butter enhanced the soft texture as well as the bite to the wild mushrooms. Poularde Albufera is not to be missed though. Tender poached chicken, stuffed with an excellent forcemeat of sorts. The tenderness of the chicken was nice in contrast to the spring vegetable fricassee with whole grains. The savory sauce that the dish was doused in really made it something that you cannot stop eating, even though the portions were generous.

Artisanal cheesecake was a surprisingly light finish to a rather filling meal. The cheesecake part spoke for itself: light, fluffy, rich in flavor without being too dense. The gram cracker base/crust had a nice hearty texture with a sweet cinnamon taste. Chocolate marquise is another sweet way to end. Hazelnut feuilletine gave the creamy chocolate part a nice subtle crunch. Vanilla salt sprinkled on top made the contrasting flavors of dark chocolate and salt very sophisticated.

This meal could please many diners from all backgrounds. You leave Artisanal with a satisfied smile, along with some fine cheese from their fromagerie.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Restaurant Week Series Part II: Le Cirque


Foodie Fish

Le Cirque is an elegant restaurant with a playful edge. The décor creates a high-class environment. Flowers on the table were fresh, bright orange orchids. To start, chilled melon and yogurt soup—very refreshing during the summer time. The curry oil poached shrimp gives the soup a little heat and an interesting taste that you just can’t stop eating.

Service was a bit slow, and not too polite, however it is understandable on a busy day. After sitting at the table for a while, our main courses arrived. The skate is a fresh dish, yet still complex for a seafood dish. The fish is served on top of a creamy cauliflower puree that was very rich in flavor. Mini cheeseburgers “Le Cirque” were a very popular choice, and with good reason. They were cooked to the perfect medium rare, and the melting cheese made the beef all the more succulent. My personal favorite was the chicken ballantine. Thigh and breast meat, rolled in crispy skin. It was an elegant presentation with chicken far from dry. It came over corn, arugula and maitake, which reminded me of a summer barbeque, only elevated.

Le Cirque continued to impress with their dessert. Although the ricotta mousse cake was nothing all to special, Le Cirque’s Rocky Road with caramel panna cotta, chocolate sorbet, marshmallows was amazing. The frozen chocolate was so rich and sophisticated; it was not a typical rocky road for children.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Restaurant Week Series Part I: Butter

Foodie Fish

Butter is a chic restaurant that attracts a young crowd. However, the amazing food attracts all sorts of people. Butter has a very modern, yet still pleasant atmosphere as well. There is a vibrant bar scene, with many unique and refreshing cocktails—including a virgin cocktail that changes each month. Although the waiter seemed rude and rushed, the rest of the staff are still very polite.

To begin your fixed-price three-course meal, the market salad was a bed of fresh, crisp lettuce over a generous amount of quality Vermont goat cheese. The mixed charcuterie plate had succulent and flavorful sausage that had quite a unique taste. Each sausage comes with a balanced pairing, such at duck rillettes with pickled cherries.

The main course is what really blew me away. The grilled pork is extremely tender and cooked to perfection; it went perfectly with the warm potato salad. The whole grain mustard in the potato salad with pork really gave the dish a German rustic flavor. Barbequed short rib is also an excellent choice. The barbeque sauce has a strong, smoky flavor. They were definitely cooked low and slow, judging by the melt-in-your-mouth texture.

To finish with something sweet, chocolate-lovers would love the rich dark chocolate and walnut torte. Decedent, with a strong dark chocolate flavor and almost creamy texture. The shortbread, however, was disappointing. Not flaky, buttery, nor sweet. It had almost a savory peppered biscuit flavor, but it lacked in the great texture of a southern biscuit.

Overall, the great main dish outweighed any disappointments.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Levain Bakery

Foodie Fish

Most people marvel at the density and size of a legendary 6-ounce cookie from the famous Levain Bakery in New York City. My experience with their cookies may be record breaking and considered a bit out of the ordinary…

I literally spent months constantly obsessing over these giant cookies from Levain Bakery, New York ever since they were featured on an episode of Throwdown With Bobby Flay. I also happen to be a ‘cookie monster’ of sorts. I had been back and forth from the city plenty of times to visit La Mode Mare (yes, our beloved fashion blogger), but I never got the chance to go try these cookies. Okay, that was a lie. As you all may know, I always make time for some good eats. However, whenever I felt the cookie calling when in New York City, I headed straight for the amazing Macaron Café. Those rose lychee, coconut, and lavender macaroons kept distracting me from my mission: to try a 6-ounce cookie from Levain.

Finally, I get to spend the night with La Mode Mare, which meant more time in the city. The next morning, I was sure to head directly to the Levain Bakery in downtown Manhattan.

After waiting so long for these cookies, I was ready to dig in to a cookie that didn’t make me have to keep longing for more. I reached into the paper bag they were in and pulled out the original chocolate chip walnut cookie. I will admit that it is a pretty decently sized cookie. You can feel the thing weighing down your hand a little.

Many may disagree with me, but it was actually smaller than I expected. During the times that I obsessed over the 6-ounce cookies, I read reviews such as, “I find it difficult finishing half,” and, “I’m a big guy, but one of these cookies makes a meal for me.” I thought that for the first time, I wouldn’t need at least a half a dozen cookies to leave me satisfied, that one would do just like it would for a normal person.

The cookie disappeared in my hand quicker than I had expected. So to my surprise, I did have to reach in for the next cookie. This was the oatmeal raisin. (It is delicious and packed full of raisins, by the way.) I finished that one almost just as quickly. My hand unexpectedly went in for a third 6-ounce cookie. This one (the dark chocolate peanut butter chip) turned out to be my favorite. Still, with a little room left in my stomach, I tried their last flavor: dark chocolate chocolate chip. I was not the biggest fan, for I found the double chocolate overwhelming, so I only ate half.

At the end of it all, I had consumed 21 ounces worth of Levain Bakery cookies and tried all 4 flavors. Overall, I thought they were good. Flavor-wise, the oatmeal raisin lacked cinnamon/overall seasoning. It relied completely on texture. Texture-wise: all 4 were incredible. Crisp on the outside, moist on the inside. The sweet-meets savory-meets intense chocolate flavor cookie was my personally favorite as I mentioned before.

I jokingly complained on Levain Bakery’s wall about how these cookies were not nearly as big and filling as I had hoped and was forced to consume 3.5 cookies to reach a full stomach. Later, they replied and asked what was the largest amount of 6-ounce cookies anyone has had in just one sitting. For a woman, usually only a half. For a man, usually just one.

They told me and congratulated me that I had beaten a cookie-eating record for their Bakery. They also said not to feel bad about the amount I ate since Pam Weekes (one of the owners) has 2 at a time. Unlike her though, I’m not an Iron Man Triathlete, I’m just one ravenous fish.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Weekly Sandwich: "Grilled Brie"

Foodie Fish

Is it sweet? Is it savory? Is it breakfast? I don't know. All I know is that this delicious grilled cheese is gooey and flavorful.

Personally, I love cinnamon. The aroma is PROVEN to lift one’s spirits. Well cheese naturally makes me happy, and with cinnamon? Ah, heaven in a bite. I love the way the cheese oozes out of a grilled cheese and it just melts as your eating it. This may not be your conventional all-American grilled cheese, but if your adventurous and looking for new flavors, you have got to give it a try.


· 12 ounces of quality brie (choose one with a mild and buttery flavor)

· 4-6 thin slices of a Granny Smith apple

· 2 slices of oatmeal bread

· 1 tablespoon of butter

· 2 teaspoons of cinnamon

· 2 teaspoons of clover honey (or any type of non-flowery honey)


1. Build the sandwich with the brie, apple, and bread

2. Place in a skillet over medium heat. Cook until the bottom is golden and the cheese begins to melt. Carefully turn the sandwich and cook until golden and the cheese has melted completely

3. Plate the sandwich, and while it is still hot sprinkle the cinnamon on the sandwich and drizzle the honey over it

Thursday, June 23, 2011

My New Obsession: White and Brown

I don't know why, but lately the combination of thick white fabric with brown leather accessories has become something of an obsession of mine. I believe it began with Ralph Lauren, which recently featured a handful of brown and white accessories.

Summer is officially here, and with that comes white. While white with colors is always fun, I find that the addition of a brown leather belt gives it a little something extra- a touch of earthiness to bring the look more down to earth and keep it from looking too Wilhelmina Slater...

I actually came across this look yesterday at J.Crew. Normally, I find J.Crew's looks a little too weekend casual for my taste, but the clean-cut nature of the dress coupled with the casual belt somehow hit the right balance between elite and chill.

~mode mare

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

One Smart Cookie!

Foodie Fish

No, finals are not known for being something to look forward to, but fueling your brain on brain-nourishing foods is always fun! This weekend, I made a flourless cookie with brain super foods proven to be good for your brain and possibly even improve concentration. Perfect for finals :-)
  • 1 cup mashed bananas
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • Semi-sweet of milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray/oil/ butter a baking sheet.

Combine banana, sugar, and peanut butter. Beating with an electric mixer is heavily recommended. Add vanilla, a beaten egg, and baking soda. Continue to mix until smooth and creamy. Fold in chocolate chips.

Shape the cookies into round balls then flatten them a bit on the baking sheet. (I like to make my cookies nice and big.)

Bake for about 10-15 minutes.

You can also make these cookies marbled, which is where you melt the chocolate before mixing it in the batter for those cool chocolate swirl

These cookies are moist, cakey, and they have the texture similar to banana nut muffins or a black and white cookie. They have awesome balance between peanut butter and banana. The chocolate chips are just the icing on the cake!

They are called smart cookies because peanut butter has healthy fats for your brain and omega-3’s come from the egg. Bananas are also said to be good for your brain, and cocoa powder in the chocolate is proven to improve concentration. The Aztecs used to eat chocolate like medicine to make them smarter!

I hope you consider whipping up a batch before your next exam to fuel your brain, as well as relieve some of that stress from studying.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Princeton nails!

Once a year, the alumni of Princeton descend upon the town in a flamboyant wave of orange and black. I've seen tiger-themed outfits of every sort, ranging from simple t-shirts to classy orange sundresses to all out nutsy striped get-ups.

This year, it was my turn to join in the tradition of orange madness. For my first reunion, I went all out- orange dress, tiger necklace, and, of course, orange nails. But not just any orange nails- I asked the manicurist to give me an orange-and-black French manicure!

Reunions was two weeks ago, and as of earlier today, my nails had yet to chip, which is miraculous considering how un-careful I am with them!

~mode mare

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Easy Turkey Bolognese

Foodie Fish

So I went to our local Pennsylvania Dutch Market Saturday and got fresh ground turkey meat. After we got home, we realized that night I had a birthday party to go to (with 16 courses, yum!) Then I wondered what to do with the ground turkey so that I could cook it, not have to freeze it, or eat it that night. Then I thought Bolognese sauce.

There is an Italian market in our area named D’Angelo’s with the best fresh pasta around. Then I stopped by this super healthy grocery store called Whole Earth Center to get some organic ingredients. I wanted something nice and easy, so I stuck with the basics.


• Ground turkey
• 1 can of organic roasted canned tomatoes (not strained)
• 1 can of organic tomato paste
• ¾ of a minced onion
• ½ a clove of minced garlic
• Rosemary
• Oregano

Put all the ingredients in a slow cooking pot and mix. Place the pot on the stove on high to bring it to a boil. Once the sauce is boiling, put the fire on low and let it simmer for about half an hour.

Serve with your favorite pasta such as bowtie, penne, or spaghetti. You can even layer it with lasagna sheets with ricotta and parmesan cheese in between! Just bake the lasagna in the oven at a pre-heated 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes covered with aluminum foil, then another 25 without the foil.

I love the aroma that comes out of that pot when cooking! I hope you enjoy!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Quick, What's For Breakfast?


Foodie Fish

It sure looks like a cookie, it sure tastes like a cookie, but it’s breakfast! Introducing a super-easy no-bake breakfast cookie. Simple, quick, and nutritious.


· 1/3 cup of rolled oats

· 1 tablespoon of peanut butter (or any type of nut butter of your choice)

· 1/8 cup of milk

· ½ cup of mashed bananas (you can use something like canned pumpkin or apple sauce too!)

Mix all the ingredients together to create a dough. Put it on a plate in a flat, round shape. Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it overnight.

Easy right? It’s ready to eat by the next morning. I usually do so with a spoon :-)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Edge It Out With Lace

As anyone who has met me can attest, I like skirts. And I have a ton of them- all of the preppy and/or girly variety. Sometimes, however, I get a little tired of the "sweet" look inherent in a lot of my skirts, such as this pink silk number I picked up at a consignment shop a few years ago.

So today, instead of pairing it with the usual white button down or soft top, I wore it with a black lace top to give it a little edge. What do you think?

~mode mare

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Rant: Juice Fasts Are Stupid

It seems like every other day, I hear a new story about how Chinese food is contaminated or poisonous or unsanitary or otherwise hazardous. So I guess it was only a matter of time before it happened: FOOD POISONING. Now I've gotten sick from things I've eaten before (I'm looking at you, Frist sushi!), but not like this. As opposed to the usual one-day misery of nausea and weariness, I got (and still have) fever, cramps, and an inability eat anything. Seriously. I had a handful of chips yesterday evening and regretted for the rest of the night.

The only choice I had, therefore, was to consume juice in place of food, since I had to get my calories somewhere. I hated it. HATE HATE HATE. And then I read an article about people who do this kind of thing voluntarily under the pretext of "cleansing" or "detoxing" but really in order to become even more skeletal.

Let me tell you what it's been like (and is still like- my stomach still hates me so I'm stuck imbibing liquids for at least another day). Hunger pangs weren't really an issue, since... well, you can probably guess why. But not being able to eat solid food has made me cold, weak, and irritable. There's a hunger that comes from beyond the stomach- from your body begging you for nutrition- that makes you feel like you're shutting down. I couldn't concentrate at work, and the most menial movements like moving a mouse felt monumental (the only reason I'm typing instead of curling up and refusing to move like I did yesterday is because I'm fueled by rage).


And the most irritating part- all my coworkers, who grew up in the Chinese culture of disgustingly emaciated and weak women, gave me sympathetic looks when I told them what was going on, then smiled with encouragement and said "At least you'll lose weight!" *cannot express rage without long string of profanities*.

~mode mare

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Braids Craze!

As you may have noticed, braids are having a bit of a moment! And this week, I decided to jump wholeheartedly on the bandwagon with a week's worth of braids-based styles:

1. The Braid Headband

So I've seen a lot of headbands made out of fake braids, and personally I find them a little creepy (and they never look natural). Why use a fake braid headband when making a real one with your own hair looks so much better, and is easy at that?

All I did was take a half inch or so strand of hair from behind my left ear, pull it upwards, braid it, bring it across, and pin it behind my right ear. Then, for symmetry, I did the same with the other side. Easy as cake!

2. Prairie Girl

So wrapping braids around one's head is a pretty common style, reminiscent of the olden days and simpler times, that has been used by everyone from farmgirls to alien princesses (see Leia's hair in Empire Strikes Back). My version is essentially an add-on to the braid headband.

Starting with the braid headband, I then took the rest of my hair and split it down the middle. Then, I pulled the left side up, braided it, brought it across, and pinned it behind my right ear. I did the same with the right side, and so by the end I had four braids across my head. The fact that they were all different sizes and a little messy was a plus, in my opinion. Braids shouldn't be taken too seriously! I finished it off with a flower clip for some extra spring prettiness... and...uh... to hide the splayed ends on that side that I could not for the life of me get to stay pinned down.

3. Pinned-Up Pigtails

This style looks really, really little-girl like when you begin. First, take half your hair, pull it up as high as possible (I got it to about three inches above my ear), braid, and secure with a thin elastic. Then, do the same to the other side. You'll have two super-high and cutesy pigtails that make you look like you're 6 and mommy did your hair this morning hehehe...

And if that's your thing, great! But I was going into the office, so I opted for something a little more grown-up. To that end, I brought the left braid down across the back of my head and pinned it so that the elastic was tucked up underneath my right braid. Then, I crossed my right braid over it, and pinned it so that the elastic was tucked up underneath my left braid. Et voila!

4. Braided Laurels

This hairstyle is similar in concept to the one above, in that it's two braids wrapped around the back, but is significantly more head-hugging. And although it was inspired by Princess Leia's hairstyle in Empire Strikes Back, I thought it ended up looking a little like laurels :-)

Like with the last style, I started with two braids, except this time, I started each one as close to the nape of the neck as possible. Then, I crossed the left one over to the right side and pinned it along the edge of my hairline. I did the same with the right, and there you have it!

5. The Braid Bun

And finally, the intentionally-messy casual lazy-day bun. This one's great for those days when you ant to put your hair up but don't want a boring bun, and also don't have much time for anything fancier.

First, I took a small section of hair from the front, braided it, and clipped it out of the way. Then, I took the rest of my hair, divided it into two sections, and braided each section. I twisted the two sections around each other and pinned it into place, allowing the ends to splay out as they pleased. Finally, I took the small braid and wrapped it around the bun, crossing it over the middle. Then I tucked it in, pinned it in place, and that was that!

So there you have it- a full week's worth of braided hairstyles! And the best bit- none of the involve too much time or fancy products!

~mode mare