All posts by marco

Tiramisu – My favorite dessert

This is my favorite dessert, since it has coffee, alcohol, and creamy mascarpone.

And it is super easy to make, though the ingredients are not available in every store. The original recipe calls for raw egg yolk, but by using eggnog we circumvent the salmonella risk :)


  • 2 lbs Mascarpone
  • 3/4 cups eggnog
  • 3 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 2 lbs lady fingers
  • 2 cups cold strong coffee/espresso
  • 1 tbsp cocoa

Mix mascarpone, eggnog, and sugar until smooth.
Add extra alcohol as desired (officially, this should be Marsala, but I’ve successfully used whiskey or brandy).
Dip lady fingers into coffee briefly and put a layer into something like a 9″x13″ pyrex.
Top with half of the mascarpone cream and repeat both layers.
Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
Top with cocoa and serve.

One pot meals: Quick and delicious chicken

Made this easy one pot meal yesterday and it was a hit (I know that, because kids requested the leftovers for their school lunch the next day).

I got two packs of chicken drumsticks from TJs. In my Dutch Oven I browned these all around in some olive oil. Took them out and put in some mirepoix (carrots, onions, celery). After these were softened I deglazed the pan with some red wine and added a cup of chicken stock, spices (salt pepper, bay leave, herbs), some potatoes and the drumsticks.

In the oven, covered, at 375F/190C for 30min. Done with less than 15 minutes spent in the kitchen :)

Getting Bun Bo Hue from Huong Binh

After seeing Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown” show where he described how much better Bun Bo Hueng is compared to Pho, I asked for recommendations where I can get this spicy soup made of pork and beef in Seattle and the former QA colleagues did not disappoint!

With 4 of my co-workers we set out to get a delicious lunch at Huong Binh at 12th & Jackson. The broth was clear with a nice spice level. The noodles are slightly thicker rice noodles, though not as thick as udon. There was a lot of different meat in the soup: Slices of beef, meatballs, pieces of pork with skin, and of course the pork blood cake. The less adventurous eaters traded the last two items away ;)

Huong Binh Menu

We also had a few appetizers, like the pork skewers and Cha Hue, which was fried ham and especially delicious. I’ll definitely be back :)

Cha Hue

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

One of my favorite dishes – period. Spaghetti alla Carbonara (the wife of the charcoal burner) has most of the important ingredients/allergens: Pasta, egg, cheese, bacon – and it’s prepared in minutes!

While you cook your pasta (spaghetti or maybe linguine) al dente, put a little olive oil in a pan and cook bacon, 2 minced cloves of garlic, and a little chili flakes over medium heat. Mix 2 eggs with a tbsp of milk and 2 tbsp of the pasta water, salt and pepper. When you tasted the pasta for doneness drain it, but leave a little water in the pot. Add the contents of the pan as well as the egg mixture into the pasta and add your parmesan. Mix well and add parsley, salt, and pepper to taste. Buon appetito!

Stone Soup

For our 10th wedding anniversary my wife had the great idea to take a page out of our kids’ favorite book: Stone Soup
Stone Soup
If you don’t know the story: 3 monks come to a village that is very suspicious of them and by pretending to teach them how to make soup from a stone, they get them to bring ingredients to share and the whole village enjoys a great feast. In Russia a similar tale is told (Каша из топора), where a hungry soldier gets food by saying he can make porridge from an axe.

We asked all party guests to bring an ingredient for the soup (only request was no raw meat). It turned out great! I started it off with a pound of mirepoix (2 parts diced onions, 1 part diced carrots & 1 part diced celery) and 3 quarts (liters) of low sodium vegetable broth – only slightly cheating over the stone and water in the story. Our guests brought: Garlic, Portabello Mushrooms, Onions, Carrots, Peas, Zucchini, Rutabaga, fresh Thyme, Oregano, & Rosemary. For the first half of the party, the soup was still vegetarian, all of a sudden there was also chicken sausage and shredded chicken and some crispy bacon on the side, which I have to say went really well with it :)

We had a little cutting station next to the pot to chop stuff and all I did before serving was adding some salt and pepper and tasting it to make sure everything had cooked through all right. It tasted quite delicious and the sense of community was a great addition to celebrating 10 years of marriage!

Pineapple Chicken Curry

Improvised a nice curry for dinner tonight, so no measurements, just inspiration :)

I marinated chicken with curry powder, garlic, salt, pepper, soy sauce and browned it. Next I added a lot of veggies (onions, carrots, red pepper, zucchini, pineapple -fruit, I know). Added chicken stock and coconut milk and seasoned it in the end with some of the pineapple juice, sesame oil, salt, pepper, and a little sugar.

For the rice I used chicken stock, curry powder, salt, and raisins and added a little coconut milk and pineapple juice as well after cooking.

The family liked it as well, except Sarah who doesn’t like raisins in savory food anymore since today ;)

Pull the Pork

Made some awesome pulled pork on Sunday when we had sideways rain all day. Super easy to toss it in the slowcooker (If yours does browning, you don’t even have to use a second pot), while I was making lunch and it was ready for dinner! (No gluten, dairy, or eggs in this ;)


  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3-4 lbs boneless pork shoulder, bone-in (if possible)
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup apple vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste

Mix all the spices and rub generously over the pork shoulder. Brown the meat from all sides in a little oil ~5min. Remove the meat, and add the rest of the ingredients and loosen all the brown bits. Add the meat and liquid into your slowcooker and cook on high for 5 hours or on low for about 7.

Now remove the meat and reduce the liquid down to about half (10-15min). Pull the pork apart (mine was so soft, I just had to press it lightly with my fingers), remove any fat and the bone. Taste the cooking liquid, add salt, sugar, vinegar, hot sauce to taste and mix as much with the meat as you like it to be juicy :)

Serve on fresh rolls or corn tortillas with coleslaw. (Coleslaw: Finely cut 1/2 lb green cabbage and mix with salt, pepper, sugar, lemon juice, vinegar, oil, and 2 tbsp mayo/Vegenaise for egg-free)

Enjoy & Guten Appetit! :)

Pretzel Bagels from Trader Joes

Ever since Morning Star bakery stopped supplying everyone with somewhat authentic German Pretzels I have been on the lookout for a new source in Seattle. There has been a lot of disappointment in this search. Bakery Nouveau made some Pretzels, Costco added Pretzel rolls, Trader Joe’s added a single Pretzel Stick, but all of them were loaded with sugar and no good in my book.

Not everyone is up for making their own authentic German Pretzels – it’s a lot of work and takes specialized ingredients, but I think the effort is totally worth it every now and then :)

So, I was very surprised to find Trader Joe’s added another Pretzel product to their baked goods section. I was even more surprised that it didn’t contain a ton of sugar. And I was actually quite happy with the taste and texture. They are not like real Pretzels (lacking the crispy part) and more like Pretzel Rolls. I can ignore the bagel hole ;)

I did toast them and they were good with savory toppings like liver pate, or cheese, or just plain butter. Or another one of my TJ’s favorites, German Prosciutto (Schinken).

So, please buy these Pretzel Bagels, they are great:
Pretzel Bagel from Trader Joes

But don’t buy these:

Best food from home in Seattle

A recent reddit /r/Seattle thread asked all foreigners for their favorite restaurants of their home countries food. Here is the summary, based on number of upvotes:

German: Heidelberghaus (They even have “Spaghetti Ice”), Bavarian Meats in the pike place market.

Nepal: Annapurna Cafe

Puerto Rico: La Isla in Ballard/Redmond

Vietnam: Vietnam House, Huong Binh for their thit nuong, Pho So 1 for their bun bo hue

Indian: Kanishka in Redmond (Don’t miss their lunch buffets), South India: Chilli’s in U District

Denmark: Scandinavian Specialties (smørrebrød for lunch), Nielsen’s Pastries (dessert)

Mexico: el camion a food truck parked by centurylink stadium

Cuba: Casa de Mojito on Lake City Way

Taiwan: Rocking Wok in Wallingford

China: Fu Man Dumpling

Hawaii: Kauai Family Restaurant (smoked pork, and tripe stew), Saimin Says in Kent (shoyu chicken/mix plate is just like home)

Russian: Vostok Dumpling House (pelmeni and bread); Piroshki on 3rd (piroshki and borsch)

Japanese: Koharu in Federal Way

Mexic: La Conasupo in Greenwood (barbacoa on weekends, also great carnitas and quesadillas)
Señor Moose Café in Ballard, La Carta de Oaxaca in Ballard, Mezclaría Oaxaca in Queen Anne, Acá las tortas in Bothel (tortas, also flautas and quesadillas), El taco maestro in Renton (best tacos around)

Philippines: Isla Manila in Shoreline, Seafood City in Renton (chicharon bulaklak and crispy pata)

Peruvia: San Fernando’s Roasted Chicken on Ranier Ave

Poland: Polski Dom

American but I live in China and have a Chinese wife… Chinese visitors to Bellevue really like Top Gun

Korea: New Seoul Restaurant on 99

Brazil: Novilhos in Factoria or South Lake Union.