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January 24, 2009

Shrimp and vegetables skewers

I enjoy cooking. Most of all, I like creative cooking. It is really hard for me to follow recipes, I always have this one missing ingredient, and I never feel like going to a grocery store, so I end up altering the recipe so I can use what I have.Here is a recipe that is very open, you can add new ingredients or remove some you don't want or have.This is my first time writing a recipe, so, suggestions on how to make it easier to follow are welcome!
Allrighty then, lets get started!

Shrimp and vegetables:
Ingredients:

One 14 oz cooked shrimp bag,tails removed
One red bell pepper,cut into about 1-2 inch pieces
One green pepper, cut the same
One squash, cut into about 1/4 inch thick round slices
4 oz carton whole mushrooms
Three cloves of garlic(for taste)
Three tablespoons of lemon juice
Parsley*
Garlic Salt*
Minced Onions*
Large wooden skewers
*I really have hard time measuring spices, so I am going to leave it up to the cook to decide how much they like to use. We use a lot!

In a large bowl, mix all chopped vegetables and add two tablespoons of lemon juice, garlic salt minced onions and parsley. Saute' vegetables with garlic for flavor , on medium heat until they are close to done. Remove from heat. Add one tablespoon of lemon juice and garlic salt to the shrimp. Preheat oven to 325 F. Use skewers to pierce vegetables and shrimp through the center, alternating positions. Place skewers on a cookie sheet and place in the oven for 8 -10 minutes. Timing is important as you don't want your vegetables and shrimp to dry.
This makes 10-12 skewers. I serve this over rice.
Like I said, feel free to alter this recipe to your preferences. You may want to use chicken instead of shrimp, or both,add zucchini or whatever else you have. This is just an idea.
Enjoy!

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February 1, 2009

Sunday Slow Soupers #10: Gumbo

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This is my very first(of many I hope) participation in this wonderful tradition. I know I am a week off the schedule(sorry), but we love gumbo,and I've never made it, so I wanted to take the opportunity of having a wonderful recipe to start my gumbo.
This gumbo recipe is provided by Sandi :
Seafood Gumbo
¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup all purpose flour
1# chicken pieces
1# large shrimp, bay scallops, oysters
1# Andouille sausage
32 oz chicken broth
2 bell peppers, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp salt & pepper
½ tsp cayenne pepper (more or less)
chopped parsley
bunch of green onions chopped
In a large pot, saute onions and peppers. Add sausage and brown. Add water, spices, and chicken; simmer until the chicken is cooked through (if you use chicken on the bone you can cool it and pull it now) Use this broth as a part of your chicken broth.

Start the gumbo by making your roux. Use a heavy skillet and stir together flour and oil until it is a cocoa brown and thick, smooth consistency. You will want to start adding some broth to the skillet to thin your roux, then pour the it into the big pot. Stir like hell. Add chicken broth, stir some more until there are no clumps.

Cover and simmer. This will help to thicken the gumbo. Add cleaned shrimp and scallops, cooking on medium heat till shrimp are pink (10 minutes) Add the delicate oysters last. Remove from heat. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Serve in a large bowl on top of a scoop of rice, with a garnish of green onions.

Continue reading "Sunday Slow Soupers #10: Gumbo" »

February 8, 2009

Sunday Slow Soupers #12: FIive Islands Seafood Chowder

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The recipe for this week's soup was provided be Sheena.

Sheena writes:
This recipe serves 12, and leftovers do not freeze well. Unless you are feeding a crowd either cut the recipe in half, or divide and freeze a portion when you get to the ‘may be prepared ahead to this point and frozen’ bit.

Continue reading "Sunday Slow Soupers #12: FIive Islands Seafood Chowder" »

February 15, 2009

Sunday Slow Soupers #13: Baked Potato Soup

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This week's soup was provided by Anne( Anneo123). It is not your traditional baked potato soup, but a healthy just as good recipe. Below is the recipe and my notes on it.

Continue reading "Sunday Slow Soupers #13: Baked Potato Soup" »

February 22, 2009

Sunday Slow Soupers # 14: French Onion Soup

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This week's soup recipe was provided by Sharon of Slow Travel. A very gourmet french onion soup. We enjoyed this one immensely. It is perfect for dinners and lunches, and very yummy.
Here what Sharon writes:

French Onion Soup

2 lbs. yellow onions, peeled, halved lengthwise, then sliced thinly crosswise
2 Tbsps. oil
2 Tbsps. butter
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 dried bay leaf or 2 fresh bay leaves
¾ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. sugar
2 tsps. all-purpose flour
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
¾ C. dry white wine (or red wine)
6 C reduced-sodium beef broth (48 fl oz.)
6 diagonal slices of baguette
½ lb. shredded Gruyère (or Comte or Emmental) cheese
2 Tbsps. finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (optional)

Continue reading "Sunday Slow Soupers # 14: French Onion Soup" »

March 1, 2009

Sunday Slow Soupers #15: Lentil Soup

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This week's soup recipe comes from Kim
Here is what Kim writes:

Lentil Soup

Recipe By :My Mom

1 Cup Lentils
4 1/2 Cups Chicken broth/stock (I use the fat free stuff)
2 1/2 sprigs parsley -- snipped
1 bay leaf
12 ounces tomato -- crushed (I use canned)
2 stalks celery -- chopped
2 sticks carrot -- sliced
1 onion -- chopped
2 cloves garlic - minced
1 teaspoon thyme (dried)

1. cook until vegetables are tender, 1 1/2 - 2 hours

Seriously, that's how my mother gave it to me. But basically, she just throws it all into a pot, brings to a boil and then lets it simmer. I often double it and freeze it.

Continue reading "Sunday Slow Soupers #15: Lentil Soup" »

March 8, 2009

Sunday Slow Soupers # 16: Winter Minestrone

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This week, we had a little misunderstanding as to who provides the soup recipe, so rather than skipping a week, Shannon found this winter Minestrone recipe in the Jan issue of Gourmet.

I was very excited to make this soup, as it has a lot of vegetables and only pancetta for meat, so I could easily omit that from the recipe for my Lent meal.

When I went to Safeway shopping for the ingredients, almost everything was so expensive, Swiss Chard for $6.99, and escarole also for $6.99(they were out, but the price was there). So I had to make some decisions right there and then, I did not want to cook soup that would cost twenty plus dollars.

I went with Swiss chard, red cabbage, no escarole, no beans, and I halfed the recipe.

Here is my "version" of this delicious winter minestrone:

Continue reading "Sunday Slow Soupers # 16: Winter Minestrone " »

March 11, 2009

Pizza Caprese

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I am not the greatest cook, but I enjoy cooking. I especially enjoy trying to create and re-create dishes without a recipe.

Sometimes, I end up with a delicious product that is worth sharing.

I am not much of a pizza person, however, Pizza Caprese is my absolute favorite pizza. I just loved eating it in Italy last year, and I have not come across it in my "travels" in the States. So when I had a successful attempt making Mozzarella cheese(more on that later), I decided I want to make my own pizza caprese.

I don't do well with doughs, so I just bought the Pillsbury Refrigerated Pizza Thin Crust.The pizza turned out so beautiful and delicious, that it actually reminded us of real Italian pizza:grin.

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March 12, 2009

Dulce de Leche: Could it really be that easy?

In our brief stop in Portland, OR last month, and during our sushi dinner with our friend M, somehow we got talking about Dulce de Leche. I mentioned that I've never had it before, and M said she would send me one of her treasured jars so I can try it.

Dulce%20de%20leche.jpgTwo days after we got to Maui, we received a priority one box with this jar in it, and a note from M saying that I can try it with apples, toast or just directly from the jar. Well, I tried all these suggestions, I loved it with my apples, on the toast it was delicious, and with a spoon from the jar it was heaven! So, as usual, I was trying to figure out what's all in it, and how one could possibly make it. The results were shocking to me!

Continue reading "Dulce de Leche: Could it really be that easy?" »

March 15, 2009

Sunday Slow soupers # 17: One of each Soup

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This week's soup recipe was provided by Jan.

It is called one of each, and it uses one of each ingredient mixing some fruits with vegetables and curry powder. I was anxious to try this recipe, and a bit skeptical as what it would taste like. Bill also raised an eyebrow when I told him what I was making. We were both pleasantly surprised,however. This is a wonderful recipe for a very tasty soup. So easy and quick to make.

This what Jan says about her soup:

Continue reading "Sunday Slow soupers # 17: One of each Soup" »

March 22, 2009

Sunday Slow Soupers # 18: Carrot Ginger Soup

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This weeks soup was provided by Debrah of Slow Travel.
It is indeed a very interesting soup. It uses very little ingredients: onions, garlic, carrots,ginger root,soup stock and orange juice. I have never combined ingredients like this before, specifically with ginger. I do like ginger, and mainly use ginger spice in some chicken dishes, it was my first time using fresh ginger root.And just because I did not know if I was going to use it in other dishes or not, and was not sure how long it would last, I just bought the smallest root I found, about 4 inches or so, and used all of it in my soup. Well, this is a little more than what the recipe calls for, so it had a noticeable kick to it. I also thought the too much ginger, gave it a little bitterness. Nonetheless, it was a great soup to have, and very easy to make.

Here is what Debrah says about it:

Continue reading "Sunday Slow Soupers # 18: Carrot Ginger Soup" »

March 25, 2009

Curds our Whey #1: 30-minute Mozzarella

Curds%20our%20wayt.jpgCindy Ruth of Slow Travel, suggested using Ricki Carroll's book Home Cheese Making, to start making an assigned cheese every month, and post about it in our blogs on the last Wednesday of the month.

Even though I have never made cheese before, this sounded like a great idea to me. And I was reading more about it, and it did not seem like an impossible task to accomplish. So I joined Curds Our Whey group for cheese making.

Cindy Ruth, did the leg work on finding out which cheeses to make, and the ingredients needed and made a list of that along with a suggestion on where to buy the supplies from. It could not have been any easier. Thanks Cindy Ruth for pulling the reins on that.

I ordered my cheese making supplies from New England Cheese Making Supply Company. I was surprised at how reasonably priced the supplies are, and it seems like everything I bought should last for a while, as the recipes call for very little amounts of the additives.

The first cheese challenge for Curds Our Whey was to make 30-minute Mozzarella with the following recipe from Home Cheese Making:

Ingredients:
1 1/2 level teaspoons citric acid dissolved in 1/2 cup cool water
1 gallon pasturized whole milk
1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon lipase powder,dissolved in 1/4 cup cool water and allowed to sit for 20 minutes, for a stronger flavor, optional
1/4 teaspoon liquid rennet(or 1/4 rennet tablet) diluted in 1/4 cup cool, unchlorinated water
1 teaspoon cheese salt(optional)

1. While stirring add the citric acid solution to the milk at 55 degrees F and mix thoroughly. (If using lipase, add it now.)
Note: You may use skim milk, but the yield will be lower and the cheese will be drier.If you use lipase, you may have to add a bit more rennet, as lipase makes the cheese softer.
2. Heat the milk to 90 degrees F over medium/low heat. (The milk will start to curdle.)
3. Gently stir in the diluted rennet with an up and down motion, while heating the milk to between 100-105 degrees. Turn off the heat. The curds should be pulling away from the sides of the pot; they are ready to scoop out (approximately 3 to 5 munutes for this.)
4. The curds will look like thick yogurt and have a bit of a shine to them, and the whey will be clear. If the whey is still milky white, wait a few more minutes.
5. Scoop out the curds with a slotted spoon and put into a 2-quart microwavable bowl. Press the curds gently with your hands, pouring off as much whey as possible. Reserve the whey.
6. Microwave the curds on HIGH for 1 minute. Drain off all excess whey. Gently fold the cheese over and over (as in kneading bread) with your hand or spoon. This distributes the heat evenly throughout the cheese, which will not stretch until it is too hot to touch (145 degrees inside the curd).
7. Microwave two more times for 35 seconds each; add salt to taste after the second time. After each heating, knead again to distribute the heat.
8. Knead quickly until it is smooth and elastic. When the cheese stretches like taffy, it is done. If the curds break instead of stretch, they are too cool and need to be reheated.
9. When the cheese is smooth and shiny, roll it into small balls and eat while warm. Or place them in a bowl of ice water for 1/2 hour to bring the inside temperature down rapidly; this will produce a consistent smooth texture throughout the cheese. Although best eaten fresh, if you must wait, cover and store in the refrigerator.
Yield: 3/4 to 1 pound.

Continue reading "Curds our Whey #1: 30-minute Mozzarella" »

March 29, 2009

Sunday Slow Soupers #19:Coconut Chicken Curry Soup

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This week's soup selection was by Marta of Postcards from the Trail.She chose an awesome Asian soup from NY Times recipes. Here is what Marta says about her soup:

My selection is from a recent NY Times recipe. It is pretty spicy (hot) so you might want to adjust the chili paste depending upon your taste. I also typically make it using 1/2 pound of medium prawns instead of the chicken. You could also use both which is more typical of soup in Malaysia. It usually had a little bit of shredded chicken and a couple of prawns.

I also have preparation pictures of it on my blog.

Coconut Curry Chicken Noodle Soup (Curry Mee)
Time: 45 minutes

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, minced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon minced lemon grass or pale green cilantro roots
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dark red chili paste, such as sambal, more for serving
3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken thigh or breast meat, thinly sliced and cut into bite-size pieces
3 tablespoons curry powder, preferably Malaysian, Thai or Vietnamese
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 can (14 ounces) unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup half-and-half
4 cups chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar, more to taste
About 12 kaffir lime leaves or curry leaves, fresh or frozen (optional)
8 ounces dried thin rice noodles (bun or vermicelli), or other Asian noodles such as udon or lai fun
Salt to taste
1 cup bean sprouts
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 scallions, cut into thin rings
2 shallots, thinly sliced and deep fried in vegetable oil until brown (optional)
Quartered limes for serving.

Continue reading "Sunday Slow Soupers #19:Coconut Chicken Curry Soup" »

March 31, 2009

Lokmat-al-qadi: My mom's recipe

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My mom is a very good cook when it comes to middle eastern dishes.Actually, maybe too good, because she never measures, doesn't really know "how much" ingredients she uses, she just eye balls things.

So when I ask"Mom,how do you make this", she says"oh start with some of this, then add a little of that, and some more of that until it looks like this", well, I rarely get it. Even though I tend to cook many dishes with no recipes, I guess it runs in the genes.

Anyway, me and my sister have been getting on my mother's case to try and maybe measure some of her recipes so we can use them. And what do you know, after so many years, she did come through!

Recently she called me with this recipe for one of the easiest and delicious middle eastern desserts. Actually, come to think about it, Greece has a similar dessert too, but I think they use cinnamon in the recipe. In Turkey, they don't use the mashed potatoes.There are many variations of this recipe, but this is my mother's,and it is yummy.

The dessert is called Lokmat-al-qadi, which translates to bite-full for the judge. I don't know where the name comes from, but it is very popular. It is more or less fried donuts with sugar syrup coating. Yes, fried and with sugar, maybe not the healthiest thing, but we all deserve a splurge every once and a while.

Ingredients:
~11/2 cups of flour
~2 tablespoons mashed potatoes
~1/2 teaspoon dried active yeast.
~1teaspoon sugar
~about 1/2 cup of lukewarm water
~oil for frying
For the syrup:
~2 cups of sugar
~1 cup of water
~1 teaspoon lemon juice

Preparation:

~In a bowl, mix the flour with the yeast,sugar and mashed potatoes .While whisking, add enough lukewarm water until you reach moist dough consistency, about half a cup whisking for 2-3 minutes.Let the dough sit covered for couple hours, until it is frothy.

~About twenty minutes before you are ready to fry the donuts, prepare the syrup by combining the water, sugar and lemon juice and heat until it boils, then let simmer for 10 minutes or so until it is thick enough. Avoid too much stirring.

~Once your syrup is ready, and your dough is frothy, heat enough oil for frying in a deep fryer or a deep saucepan. Once the oil is hot enough, about 370 F or so, scoop some of the dough with a spoon and carefully drop in the oil. After a minute or so, the donut will float, and another minute or so you can turn it to the other side. It is done when it has a golden color. You can fry multiple donuts at a time, and you can make them whatever size you like, I make them a little bigger, because I know if they are small I'll eat more than one anyway, and why stand in front of he fryer forever? But it is totally up to the cook.Once the donut is golden, take it out of the oil and wipe it on a paper towel to remove any excess oil, and then while it is still hot, dip in the syrup, both sides and put aside. Repeat the process until you are out of dough. It is helpful to have a cup of cold water to dip your spoon, or your hand ,in between scooping the dough bites.

~It is best eaten warm, but it could be eaten cold too.

~If you want it even sweeter, sprinkle some powdered sugar on top.

~This recipe yields a dozen good size balls.

This is what inside the balls looks like:

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Enjoy!


April 5, 2009

Sunday Slow Soupers #20:Hot and Sour Soup

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This week's soup was chosen by Annie of Churches in Venice. I absolutely loved this soup,and was amazed at how easy it is. I was thinking that making an ethnic soup that I always enjoyed at Chinese restaurants,would be hard. But nope, I think it was an easy and clean recipe.

Here is what Annie says about it:

I found this recipe on the Internet years ago and I’ve made it many times (and never the same way twice). It’s more like a Thai or Vietnamese soup than a Chinese one (it’s not thickened with cornstarch).

I’m posting the original recipe plus some variations (I like to add more vegetables than the recipe calls for). Basically once you get the broth right, you can add whatever you like.

Hot and Sour Soup

Two 13-3/4 ounce cans low-salt chicken broth
Three slices of fresh ginger root

2 tablespoons tamari or dark soy sauce
1/4 cup of rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon hot chili oil (more or less)
1/2 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1/2 cup bamboo shoots
1/2 cup of firm tofu, diced into small squares

one egg lightly beaten

Garnish

1 or 2 scallions, including greens, diced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

Instructions:

Bring the chicken stock and the fresh ginger root to a slow boil for two or three minutes.

Remove the ginger slices and discard. Turn the heat down slightly.

Add the rest of the liquid ingredients, the sugar, and the white pepper. Simmer for about five minutes and then taste to make sure it’s hot and/or sour enough. Adjust as needed.

Add the bamboo shoots and the tofu. Stir gently.

Bring the soup to a slow boil again and quickly add in the lightly beaten egg while stirring. Remove the pot from the heat immediately and continue to stir to break up the egg pieces. Garnish and Serve.

VARIATIONS

I always leave the egg out.

Sometimes I use Pacific brand Mushroom broth or Vegetable broth instead.

I use low sodium Tamari (brand: San-J)

Sometimes I use Sriracha hot sauce instead of the hot chili oil.

Other things I might add:

Garlic
Fresh baby spinach leaves or other green leafy thing
Sliced mushrooms
Water chestnuts
A can of stir-fry vegetables with baby corn
Mung bean sprouts
Snow pea pods

Continue reading "Sunday Slow Soupers #20:Hot and Sour Soup" »

April 9, 2009

Middle Eastern Cooking: Okra stew

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I hardly ever cook anything with okra;it is hard to find most of the time,and it is not my favorite vegetable. However, as a kid, my mom made okra dishes at least once a week. It is a popular middle eastern vegetable, I am thinking because it is readily available in the middle east.

We were at the farmer's market couple days ago, and found some fresh, nice looking okra. I thought it would be fun to try some of my mom's cooking with it, and Bill seemed enthusiastic about it, so I bought about 1/2 a pound.

Since we are still doing Lent, I made the okra stew without the meat. My mom makes it with boneless lamb meat cut into small chunks. I served the okra stew over rice, cooked my mother's style, a.k.a. middle eastern way.

Ingredients:

1/2 LBS fresh tender okra
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2-3 cloves of garlic,minced or crushed
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
enough olive oil for sauteeing.

For the rice:
1 cup of rice
2 cups of water
1 clove of garlic,minced
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
a dash of salt

Start with washing the okra, and trimming the ends(the caps). Drain the okra.
In a skillet, sautee the garlic in olive oil for couple minutes,then add the okra, and sautee for another minute or so.
Meanwhile, in a pot over medium heat, add a little olive oil and the tomato paste, add enough water to get desired consistency. Add the cumin, black pepper,salt and garlic powder. Bring to a slow boil then add the okra( and garlic), let it simmer for 5-10 minutes.

To make the rice, rinse it with cool water and drain. In a small pot, sautee the garlic in little olive oil, then add the rinsed and drained rice, and let it simmer for one minute, while adding the curry and salt. Then add two cups of hot water, bring to a soft boil then reduce heat, cover and let it simmer until water evaporates, about 15 minutes.

It was a good hardy meal, and easy to make too. If you want to add the meat, you can use small chunks of boneless lamb or beef, sauteed then added to the stew to simmer with the okra.

Makes two servings.

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Enjoy.

April 13, 2009

Bangkok Sweet and Sour Fish

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On Palm Sunday, I wanted to prepare a delicious and easy fish meal for us. Of course, I could have just baked some salmon, or grilled some ahi, but I had my eye(and appetite) set on the recipe provided on the label of the chili sauce I bought when I made Marta's soupa few weeks ago.

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It sounded very easy and quick, and used ingredients that I love and have. I went ahead and gave it a try. We were not disappointed, it was delicious!

Bangkok Sweet and Sour Fish:
Makes four servings.

Ingredients:
~1 LB white fish fillets, I used mahi mahi.
~3 Tbsp. cornstarch.
~3/4 teaspoon salt
~4 Tbsp vegetable oil
~1 tomato,chunked
~1 green bell pepper,chinked
~1/4 cup Thai style chili sauce
~8 oz can of pineapple chunks, drained but reserve juice
~1 Tbsp pineapple juice
~2 teaspoons soy sauce.

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Make a mixture of the cornstarch and salt, and coat the fish fillets. Heat 3 Tbsp of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat and cook fish for two minutes on each side. Set aside and keep warm.
In the same skillet, heat another 1Tbsp of oil and add the tomato and green bell pepper chunks. Stir fry for two minutes. Stir in the chili sauce, pineapple juice,pineapple chunks and soy sauce. Stir fry for one more minute.
Serve sauce over fish.

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I served the fish and sauce over a bed of white rice. It was delicious!

Enjoy.


April 16, 2009

Easter baking: Making Mamoul

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I got the mamoul recipe from my mom couple weeks back, bought the ingredients last week and set a date to make my very first mamoul batch alone.

On the evening before the day I had set to bake the mamoul, (and according to my mom's instructions), I soaked the three cups of semolina flour I was using, with one cup of vegetable oil, covered it, and let it sit at room temperature overnight until I was ready to work on it. My mom emphasized the importance of using a 3:1 semolina flour to oil ratio, and the importance of allowing it to soak over night.

The next day, I tested my yeast by adding one teaspoon of active dry yeast, and one teaspoon of sugar, to one fourth cup of lukewarm water and allowing it to foam(about five minutes). I then added my yeast mixture to my semolina flour mixture, and used water little by little to knead the dough into a nice moist, but not soggy, consistency. At this point, it is your choice to work on the dough now, or let it rest for twenty minutes or so. My mom said it gets easier to work with the dough after allowing it to rest, so I let my dough rest for about half an hour.

While my dough was resting, I prepared the fillings: dates and walnuts. For the walnuts, I just bought an 8 oz bag of finely diced walnuts, and put in a bowl with one tablespoon of oil and two teaspoons of ground cinnamon and mixed.

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The dates were a little more complicated, because there are no middle eastern grocery stores here on Maui, so I couldn't buy the already pitted baking dates they sell for this specific purpose. Instead I bought an 8 oz bag of whole pitted dates(you know the kind in the dried fruits aisle) and worked the dates with oily hands into a paste like texture. I then added about one tablespoon of oil, one teaspoon of nutmeg and one teaspoon of cinnamon and mixed. If you are able to buy the pitted baking dates from the middle eastern store, all you need to do is add the oil, nutmeg and cinnamon without the agony of trying to make the paste first. It wasn't that bad actually.When the mix is right, make little(2 inch maybe) balls out of the dates and set aside.

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After rest period, I kneaded the dough a bit more to make sure it is right, and I was worried because it felt a little oily. Later my mom said that it should feel oily after soaking it in oil all night, Duh! Anyway, The dough felt moist, oily and had a nice yellowish color, so I put my worries aside and tackled it.

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Continue reading "Easter baking: Making Mamoul " »

April 26, 2009

Sunday Salad Samplers #1:Foraging the City Eden's Salad

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As the weather has changed from winter to spring, the Slow Travel cooking group switched from soups to salads. A welcomed transition in our house. Although we loved soups, nothing beats a fresh, delicious salad on a beautiful Maui day.

Eden kicked off our salad making with a yummy, health, easy to prepare salad. What more can one ask for from a meal?

Here is what Eden says about the naming her salad, and preparing it:

Continue reading "Sunday Salad Samplers #1:Foraging the City Eden's Salad" »

April 29, 2009

Curds Our Whey #2: Whole-Milk Ricotta

Our cheese selection for the month of April is Whole-Milk Ricotta. An amazingly easy cheese to make, with very little ingredients too.

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Again, we used the recipe from Home Cheese Making,by Ricki Carroll, to make whole-milk ricotta:

1 gallon whole milk
1 teaspoon citric acid dissolved in 1/4 cup cool water
1 teaspoon cheese salt (optional)
1-2 tablespoons heavy cream (optional)

1. Add the citric acid solution and salt into the milk and mix thoroughly.
2. In a large pot, directly heat the milk to 185 to 195 degress F (do not boil). Stir often to prevent scorching.
3. As soon as the curds and whey separate (make sure there is no milky whey), turn off the heat. Allow to set, undisturbed, for 10 minutes.
4. Line a colander with butter muslin. Carefully ladle the curds into the colander. Tie the corners of the muslin into a knot and hang the bag to drain for 20-30 minutes, or until the cheese has reached the desired consistency. The cheese is ready to eat immediately. For a creamier consistency, add the cream at the end and mix thoroughly.
5. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.
Yield: 1 1/2 - 2 pounds.

Continue reading "Curds Our Whey #2: Whole-Milk Ricotta" »

April 30, 2009

Orange Ricotta Cheesecake

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I have always heard good things about ricotta cheesecake, and decided to make one with my fresh homemade ricotta.

I took my time, browsing through many internet recipes for ricotta cheesecake, and thought about making Cindy's ginger ricotta cheesecake. But I didn't have many of the ingredients and felt lazy to go shop for them. So I settled for an orange ricotta cheesecake with berry sauce for a topping recipe from this blog.

We had my in-laws visiting from Houston last week(they just left today actually), and we had them over for dinner at our place Tuesday night. So I thought what a better night to experiment with ricotta cheesecake than the night I am cooking for my in-laws? After all, we did have a lovely week together, and I did not think one bad recipe could ruin that.

Well, the recipe turned out to be great, and the ricotta cheesecake was awesome. I must admit though, the first bite was weird for everyone, because we were all expecting a cheesecake texture I guess, and the texture for the ricotta cheesecake is so much different from cream cheese cheesecake. Getting past the texture difference though, the cake tastes very delicious. And as far as desserts go, ricotta cheesecake is a healthy as one can get.

Continue reading "Orange Ricotta Cheesecake" »

May 3, 2009

Sunday Salad Samplers #2:Balck Bean Salad

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The selection for this week's salad was made by Judy, aka TourMama, of Slow Travel.

This is what Judy writes:

In honor of Cinco de Mayo,I decided for May 3rd to share a great recipe for a Latin flavored Black Bean Salad. Given to me by a former co-worker who is also a caterer, the instructions begin "It's not a recipe fixed in stone...", so quantities and ingredients are flexible.

Black Bean Salad

2 cups dried black beans

cover dry beans with 2 inches of water, and allow to soak overnight; drain soaking liquid, cover with fresh water, bring to boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook (1 – 2 hrs) until beans are tender. Do NOT salt the water – it can cause the beans to toughen. Rinse and drain beans well, to get rid of all the black/grey liquid, which can discolor the salad.

Note – if you prefer, you can substitute 4 – 16. oz cans of cooked black beans; just rinse and drain thoroughly as above.

While beans are cooking, also cook

1 – ½ to 2 cups long grain rice, brown rice, or an "8 grain" mixture of rice/grain that you can get from some stores, following package directions..

Cool beans and grain.

Dice some combination of the following:-- try to dice all veggetables uniformly to a size similar to the size of the black beans for best appearance:

Red onions (maybe 1 whole one)
Garlic, minced or crushed (up to 12 cloves more or less)
Bell peppers. I like to use 3 colors to brighten up the salad.
Jalapeno - 2 or 3 depending on heat you like, minced
Corn, canned, frozen or fresh as you like maybe a cup or so (suggestion – use the roasted corn from Trader Joe’s for an extra layer of flavor).
Optional addition --green beans or zucchini

Toss all ingredients together and season with salt and pepper.

Then add Cumin-lime vinaigrette:
Olive oil (about 1/2 cup)
lime zest
lime juice (about 1/4 cup)
salt & pepper
1 teaspoon or so of mustard
garlic (maybe 6 or so cloves)
cumin and or chili powder (1-2 teaspoons to taste)
adjust these ingredients as needed to balance the flavors.
Optional: stir in fresh chopped cilantro.

Garnish with cilantro.

Continue reading "Sunday Salad Samplers #2:Balck Bean Salad" »

June 7, 2009

Sunday Salad Samplers #7: Roasted Corn and Wild Rice salad

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I can't believe we are on the seventh week of making salads already. I missed a few weeks and hope to play catch up soon.But today, me and Bill are celebrating our first year wedding anniversary. With that too, I can't believe it's been a year, I still remember the agony of planning the wedding, and the long beautiful day of June 7th, 2008.Of course the same time I was planning the wedding, I was planning our four week honeymoon trip to Italy, which made wedding planning seem like a burden since planning a trip is a lot more fun than planning a wedding.Nonetheless, everything went swiftly, and everyone,including the bride and groom, had a great time.

Back to the salad on hand,this week's pick comes from Deborah of Old Shoes-New Trip .An excellent choice for a delicious, healthy and fulfilling salad. I would have never thought of combining these ingredients together,but they complement each other perfectly. Here is what Deborah says about this salad:

I got this recipe on the internet a few years ago. Unfortunately, I can't remember where in order to give proper credit.

The recipe is very easy. It keeps well and freezes well. You can serve it both chilled or at room temperature. Great for picnics where you don't want to worry about spoilage.

Roasted corn and wild rice salad:

1 package - uncooked wild rice. (the original recipe called for wild rice blend, but I prefer the stronger flavors of only wild rice.)
2 cups - frozen roasted corn nibblets (I use Trader Joes)
1 cup - finely chopped celery
3/4 cup - shredded carrot
3/4 cup - Craisins
2/3 cup - toasted sunflower seeds
1/2 cup - finely chopped red onion
1/3 cup - raspberry vinegar
1 tbs - olive oil
1 tbs - low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp - grated orange peel
1/2 tsp - pepper

Continue reading "Sunday Salad Samplers #7: Roasted Corn and Wild Rice salad" »

June 14, 2009

Sunday Salad Samplers # 8:Shrimp Salad

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This week's salad recipe was chosen by Jan of Keep Your Feet in the Street blog. It is the perfect salad for a nice summer day or evening. It is also very easy to make, I actually(for the first time) had all the ingredients on hand, and chances are I will have them most of the time, so I know I will be making this delicious and refreshing salad again.

Here is what Jan says about her recipe:

Simple, summery and good.

Shrimp Salad

1 pound extra large shrimp (16-20)fresh, wild if you can find them.
1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
¼ cup mayo
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill, tarragon or parsley.
1 large stalk celery chopped
¼ large red pepper chopped
salt and pepper

Continue reading "Sunday Salad Samplers # 8:Shrimp Salad" »

June 19, 2009

PhotoHunt:creamy

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The theme for this week's photohunt is creamy.

Last evening I decided to reproduce one of the desserts we learned to make in the cooking school we took in Chiang Mai couple weeks ago, and it turned out very well. So when I looked up the theme for this week's hunt, I knew that I am going to share the delicious, sweet and very creamy Thai dessert;bananas in coconut cream.

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It is very easy to make with very few ingredients.Here is the recipe:

Bananas in coconut cream
adapted from a recipe by Siam Rice Cooking School

~1 can(or two cups) of unsweetened coconut milk
~1 cup of coconut cream
~2-3 bananas (depending on the size),sliced into 1inch pieces.
~1 teaspoon salt
~1-2 tablespoon sugar

Start by heating the coconut milk at medium heat until it starts boiling,add the sugar and salt and continue boiling for two more minutes, add the banana slices and cook for couple minutes, finally add the coconut cream and mix well, heat for another minute or so. Can be served hot or cool.

The original recipe calls for 3-4 tablespoons of sugar, but after adding the one tablespoon it was sweet enough for me, and then adding the second made it really sweet. I think the difference in brands of coconut milk and cream make a difference. Also I think bananas in the US are sweeter than Thai bananas.

Enjoy!

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June 21, 2009

Sunday Salad Samplers #9: Grilled Romaine Salad with Citrus Ceasar Vinegrette

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This week's delicious salad was chosen by Cindy Ruth of Baked Alaska blog. It was very simple to prepare and super delicious. We enjoyed it with a grilled bass fillet, and a side of mashed potatoes.

Here is what Cindy says about her salad:

I chose Grilled Romaine Salad with Citrus Ceasar Vinegrette. I adapted this recipe from one I found on FoodTV. One substitution that I often use when making this is to substitute part of the olive oil in the dressing with lemon-infused olive oil. It's not necessary to do it, but if you happen to have some of the delicious lemon olive oil, this is a great place to use it.

GRILLED ROMAINE SALAD Serves 4
2 heads romaine lettuce
Extra-virgin olive oil
Citrus Caesar Vinaigrette, recipe below
Parmigiano-Reggiano
Chopped tomatoes
Homemade croutons, if desired

Continue reading "Sunday Salad Samplers #9: Grilled Romaine Salad with Citrus Ceasar Vinegrette" »

June 28, 2009

Sunday Salad Samplers #10: Grilled Chicken Salad with Tarragon Pesto

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The salad for this week's sampling was chosen by Marcia.She got it from the April issue of Bon Appetit. It was a perfect spring/summer salad. Very tasty, healthy and easy to prepare. The tarragon pesto is very different and delicious,and definitely makes this salad different from other chicken salads. I think I will start adding tarragon to my pesto, I love the flavor, and the aroma.

Here is Marcia's recipe:

Grilled Chicken Salad with Tarragon Pesto

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

1/4 cup (packed) fresh tarragon leaves plus 2 teaspoons chopped
1/4 cup (packed) fresh Italian parsley leaves
4 tablespoons pine nuts, divided
5 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, divided
2 teaspoons chopped shallot
6 tablespoons (or more) olive oil, divided, plus additional for brushing
4 boneless chicken breast halves
4 1/2-inch-thick slices country-style French or sourdough bread
1 5-ounce package mixed baby greens
1 cup thinly sliced radishes (from 1 large bunch)
1 cup thinly sliced Japanese cucumbers (about 1 1/2)

Continue reading "Sunday Salad Samplers #10: Grilled Chicken Salad with Tarragon Pesto" »

July 5, 2009

Sunday Salad Samplers # 11: Watermelon Salad

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This holiday week recipe was chosen by Nancy of A Winelover's Wanderings blog. She chose watermelon salad because it was the fourth of July weekend. Nancy gave us choices in listing a few recipes for us to select from, and then topped it with mentioning Watermelon.org for more recipes, it doesn't get any easier than this.This is what Nancy says:

I "practiced" with several different recipes for Watermelon Salad. I am going to give you the various lists of ingredients and let you make a decision on which to choose. My favorite is the last one with the full recipe.

My first "test" had the following ingredients:
Watermelon - Cut into bite-sized cubes or balls
Cherry Tomatoes
Red Onion - Sliced very thinly
Kalamata Pitted Olives - I left them whole
Feta Cheese - Flavored or not
Chopped Basil
Olive Oil - Not a lot

My second "test" had the following ingredients:
Watermelon - Cut into bite-sized cubes or balls
Red Onion - Sliced very thinly
Kalamata Pitted Olives - This time I cut them in half
Feta Cheese - Flavored or not
Chopped Cilantro on this one
Olive Oil - Not a lot

Is the third time a charm? We shall see. Ingredients were:
Watermelon - Cut into bite-sized cubes or balls
Red Onion - Sliced very thinly
Kalamata Pitted Olives - About 10 olives chopped
Feta Cheese - Flavored or not
Basil & Mint - Chopped
Watercress - About a cup
Lemon Juice - To taste

Blue Watermelon Walnut Salad
(From watermelon.org)

Makes 6-8 servings.

For the walnuts:
1 cup walnut pieces or halves
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon soy sauce

For the reduction:
2 cups inexpensive balsamic vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 sprig fresh rosemary

For the Salad:
3 or 4 ounces fresh baby greens
2 seedless oranges, peeled and sectioned
4 cups seedless watermelon cubes
2 cups seedless grapes, halved
2 cups fresh, trimmed and sliced strawberries
1 cup crumbled blue cheese

Heat the walnuts in a seasoned wok or heavy non-stick sauté pan over medium for a minute and stir in the sugar and soy sauce. Adjust heat to prevent burning while constantly stirring the nuts until the sugar melts. Continue to stir and cook until the nuts begin to stick and the mixture is getting sticky. Spread the nuts over a sheet of waxed or parchment paper and cool. Break apart into small pieces and crumble. Set aside.

Heat the vinegar in a heavy non-corrosive saucepan over medium heat and stir in sugar. Continue to stir and adjust heat to bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the rosemary sprig to the pan. Continue to simmer until the contents of the pan reduces by 1/2 its original volume. Set aside.

Divide the greens among 6 or 8 salad plates and arrange the orange sections, watermelon, grapes and strawberries over the greens. Drizzle the balsamic syrup over the fruit and the cheese crumbles over that. Top with the candied walnut pieces and serve.

Continue reading "Sunday Salad Samplers # 11: Watermelon Salad" »

July 12, 2009

Sunday Salad Samplers #12:Ceviche

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It was my turn this week to select the salad for our ST group to make. I had few options in mind, but finally settled on Ceviche since we haven't made a fish salad yet(I think).

Ceviche is a great summer salad that is popular in South and Central America, as well as Mexico,in many variations. It is traditionally fish "cooked" in lime juice,where the acids give the fish firm, cooked texture by breaking down the proteins over time.

I chose a version of Ceviche that poaches the fish to reduce cooking time, and also for food safety reasons.I got the recipe for the book Ageless Face, Ageless Mind by Nicholas Perricone.It is a very healthy salad. I adapted it a bit to add more flavor.Here is my adapted recipe:

Ceviche:
Prep time:15 minutes plus time to chill. Cooking time:10 minutes. Serves 6.

To cook the fish:
3 cups of water or chicken broth
1/2 cups white wine
juice of two limes
1 jalapeno or Serrano chili sliced in half
3 gloves of garlic,crushed
I Tbsp Old Bay seasoning
1/2 lb firm white fish fillet(halibut or the like)
1/2 lb large shrimp,peeled and deveined

Coat the fish and shrimp with old bay. Bring the broth,wine, lime juice, chili and garlic to simmer. Add fish and shrimp and simmer(do not boil) until fish is opaque(about 5 minutes) and shrimp is pink(about 2 minutes). Remove from poaching liquid and cool in the refrigerator.

Continue reading "Sunday Salad Samplers #12:Ceviche" »

July 19, 2009

Sunday Salad Samplers #13:Israeli Salad

It is Sunday, and this means it is time for another salad from the creative ST group. Terry selected this week's salad: Israeli salad.

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This recipe is actually a famous middle eastern recipe for a staple salad dish all over the middle east, most commonly known as green salad, I am guessing because it is all fresh ingredients.It is served for breakfast, lunch or dinner;as an appetizer, side dish or even in a pita bread with falafel or the like. Growing up with my Palestinian parents, we pretty much had this salad almost every day. I can't say I liked it then, well, my feelings were probably influenced by the fact that making this salad was one of my chores, chopping up all these vegetables for a big family was not my favorite way to spend an evening. No food processor was allowed, and no big tomato or cucumber chunks were appreciated;it had to be done right, which in my mom's book means tiny dices of vegetables cut with a knife.

Even now, whenever I visit my mom, it is still my chore to make this salad(and others) , but I don't believe I've ever made it "by choice" until this evening. I was surprised at how easy it is to make this salad in a much smaller quantity than my mom's.Even though I chopped all my vegetables with a knife(no food processor,Mom), it was a very quick process. I was skeptical about adding the radishes, as my mom never used them, but I actually enjoyed them in there. I did not have any green peppers, so I forwent that. I probably used more pickles and olives than the recipe calls for, but I love these things.I also skipped the optional cheese on top, as I've never seen made with cheese before. I really enjoyed this salad;fresh, easy,healthy and delicious, maybe next time I won't wear my grumpy face making it:)

Here is what Terry says about her salad:

I first ate this salad when I visited Israel, where they love eating fresh vegetables cut up small like this for breakfast! Almost every Israeli knows how to make an Israeli salad, and there are probably as many variants as there are Israelis.

Continue reading "Sunday Salad Samplers #13:Israeli Salad" »

July 20, 2009

Tiramisu Cheesecake

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I am really bad at keeping cooking notes together, I try to blame it on moving a lot, but really I have no excuse since I can just add my notes to my bookmarked recipes page. Oh well, I can also write a post with the recipe and add my notes to my blog, even better,some of you might like to try some of these recipes.

For Bill's birthday, on the fourth of July,I wanted to make him a dessert I haven't made before. At the same time,I had just succeeded in making mascarpone cheese(I still need to write about that), which was very easy to make. So I thought of tiramisu, which ended up serving a double purpose: a delicious dessert, and a hint that we are due for a trip to Italy. Reaching for Bill's stomach seems to work, since our appetite tends to be one of the main drivers to our vacation destinations.

As I was searching for a tiramisu recipe, I came across this recipe for a tiramisu cheesecake, I was immediately interested, a tiramisu and a cheesecake in the same recipe! Sounded like a double winner to me. I went through other cooks' notes and came up with an adaptation that ended up working perfectly for us. Bill is still bragging about his birthday cake, and we are talking about a May trip to Italy, and I am overjoyed for more than one reason.

The trick to making a solid cheesecake(one that doesn't crack in the middle) is not over mixing or over baking it .Add the eggs last since they create bubbles in the batter, and don't over beat it. For me, I like to place a bowl of water in the lower rack of the oven to absorb the humidity, and I place my 9 inch springform cheesecake pan in the middle rack of the oven,bake it at 325 F for 50 minutes, then turn the oven off ,crack the oven door open and leave it in there for another 15 minutes. The center of the cheesecake should still be slightly wiggly when you take it out of the oven.

Tiramisu Cheesecake:
adapted from Marty Fries's allrecipes.

Ingredients:
~ 1 (12 ounce) package lady fingers
~4 tablespoons butter, melted
~ 12 tablespoons coffee flavored liqueur,divided
~ 3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
~ 1 (8 ounce) container mascarpone cheese
~1 cup white sugar
~2 eggs
~4 tablespoons all-purpose flour


Continue reading "Tiramisu Cheesecake" »

July 26, 2009

Sunday Salad Samplers #14: Thai Beef Salad(Yam Neua)

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This week's salad selection comes from Maria of My Place In The Sun.

The original version calls for using tender beef steak, and I can see how that is heaven for beef lovers, not me though, so I was glad to see Maria show the shrimp variation, because it would have been a great loss for me if I had skipped this salad. It was simply delicious!

Here is what Maria writes about her salad:

This salad is one of the favorites in restaurants and home kitchens alike in Bangkok and Central Thailand. This version was given to me by my niece Isabel who for many years assisted her Thai mom in Atlanta-area restaurants.

Ingredients:

1 lb tender beef steak, such as top sirloin.


For the salad:

1/2 red onion thinly sliced

1 tomato, cut into wedges

1 cucumber, peeled, cut lengthwise in half and thinly sliced

1-2 Thai bird’s-eye chilies or according to taste (I use 1-2 serrano chilies)


For the sauce:

1/4 cup Thai fish sauce

1/4 cup lime juice

2 - 3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

1/4 cup chopped scallions


Continue reading "Sunday Salad Samplers #14: Thai Beef Salad(Yam Neua)" »

August 2, 2009

Sunday Salad Samplers #15:Tropical Rice Salad

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This week's salad was chosen by Palma of Palmabella's Passions blog. It is the perfect summer salad;easy to make, healthy and loaded with flavors. We had a baby shower potluck on Thursday at work, and I decided to make Palma's rice salad, and ooh was it a hit! Everyone loved it!

Here is what Palma says about her salad:

This is a great side dish with grilled chicken or fish. It is served cold, so you can make it ahead, and let the flavors blend.

Ingredients:

2 c. chicken stock
1 c. white rice (I've never tried it with other rice, but feel free)
1 c. halved snow peas
1 c. chopped red bell pepper
3/4 c. celery
2/3 c. (or one can) sliced water chestnuts
2-3 green onions, chopped
1 can mandarin oranges, drained
1 can crushed (or chunk) pineapple, drained well

Continue reading "Sunday Salad Samplers #15:Tropical Rice Salad" »

August 5, 2009

A simple blueberry pie

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I grew up in a pie-less house. My middle-eastern mom never baked a pie in her life, she bakes great cakes, and makes some delicious middle eastern pastries, but pies are out of her radar. So I still remember my first attempt making a blueberry pie for the first time, using fresh Maine blueberries. Against all odds, it was mostly successful,a little runny, but I declared it a success. Now some may argue that of course it would be since I used frozen pie crust, but nonetheless, I was proud of it.

Here I am, many years later and still stuck on frozen pie crust, after all, semi homemade pie is still better than a store bought one. I am also still using the same recipe, just a bit adapted for more firmness and flavor. I am tired of the little scrap of paper with my notes that I carry around with me across the country, hence, I am using my blog to document my notes, and who knows, it may inspire someone else like it did to me.

It is a very simple recipe, it has never failed me, and the taste is heavenly.

Continue reading "A simple blueberry pie" »

August 9, 2009

Sunday Salad Samplers #16: Couscous Salad with Chickpeas, Dates & Cinnamon

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As we reach the sixteenth week of making salads, one may wonder if we are getting bored with it, or if we are running out of recipes, or if we are ready to start a new thing. Well, I can speak for myself, no, no and no. A tasty variety of salads have been shared, recipes from all over the planet, with interesting blend of ingredients, and this week's selection from Annie is no exception. Annie,of the Churches in Venice blog, selected a couscous salad recipe. Just reading the ingredients sends my taste buds to a happy place.

Here is what Annie says about her salad:

I found this recipe on the McCormick spice website after a friend brought me a big bag of cinnamon from Vietnam and I started looking for savory recipes to use it in. The recipe was created by Suzanne Goins from the Los Angeles restaurant Luques.

I use whole wheat couscous and sometimes substitute dried apricots for the dates. You can also use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.

Vietnamese cinnamon is pretty strong so if you're using regular cinnamon, you might want to use a little bit more. This is a great party/potluck recipe (it keeps and travels well).

Continue reading "Sunday Salad Samplers #16: Couscous Salad with Chickpeas, Dates & Cinnamon" »

August 10, 2009

Sunday Salad Sampler #6: Fajita Salad with Creamy Cilantro-Lime Sauce

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I know, I am going way off schedule here, it is not a Sunday and this is not this week's salad. This was actually Kim's salad choice for the May 31st weekend, but I was in Thailand and missed this salad(and couple others).However, few nights ago, we were in the mood for Mexican flavors, and I had all the ingredients handy, so I made this delicious salad, and we loved it.

Here is Kim's recipe:

Fajita Salad with Creamy Cilantro-Lime Sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound skinned, boned chicken breast, cut into thin strips
Cooking spray
6 cups shredded romaine lettuce
1 1/3 cups thinly sliced green bell pepper rings
1 cup sliced red onion, separated into rings
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese
2 tablespoons sliced ripe olives
1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 medium tomato, cut into 8 wedges
Creamy Cilantro-Lime Sauce(recipe below)

Combine first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl. Add chicken; toss to coat. Place a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat until hot. Add chicken mixture; sauté 8 minutes or until chicken is done. Set aside.

Divide lettuce and next 6 ingredients (lettuce through tomato) among 4 bowls; top with chicken mixture. Serve with Creamy Cilantro-Lime Sauce.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 serving salad, 3 ounces chicken, and 1/3 cup sauce)

CALORIES 520 (38% from fat); FAT 21.9g (sat 6g,mono 6.8g,poly 6g); IRON 5.4mg; CHOLESTEROL 101mg; CALCIUM 360mg; CARBOHYDRATE 34.7g; SODIUM 1061mg; PROTEIN 3.6g; FIBER 6.6g


Continue reading "Sunday Salad Sampler #6: Fajita Salad with Creamy Cilantro-Lime Sauce" »

August 16, 2009

Sunday Salad Samplers #17:Warm Potato Salad

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This week's salad comes from Sandi from the Whistlestop Cafe fame. She chose potato salad and was generous to share two versions with us.

This is what Sandi says:

I know there are as many recipes for potato salad as there are kinds of potatoes. This is a recipe that is a combination of a southern potato salad and a german mustard potato salad. It is a favorite for us!
Southern Mustard Potato Salad
1-2 pounds potatoes
4-5 hard boiled eggs
1 sweet onion, diced
1/2 cup diced celery
1/4 cup pickle relish
3 Tbs spicy mustard
1/2 cup mayo
Clean potatoes then boil them whole. Once tender, 15-20 minutes, remove from heat and allow to cool. Dice onion and celery. Dice potatoes into large chunks.
In another bowl whisk together mayo, mustard and pickle relish. Add kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Stir all ingredients together. Finally, peel and slice the hard boiled eggs and stir those in as well. Serve warm or cold.

Another favortie potato salad is this one from my cookbook...
Warm Potato Salad
1 pound red potatoes
4 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup non fat sour cream
2 Tbs vinegar
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
Wash and cook potatoes whole until tender.Drain and allow to cool. In a large bowl, combine sourcream and vinegar. Slice the potatoes into thin slices. Combine all ingredients. Salt and Pepper to taste. Serve warm.

Continue reading "Sunday Salad Samplers #17:Warm Potato Salad" »

August 18, 2009

Southwest Quinoa and Chicken Salad with Creamy Salasa Dressing

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This was originally my first choice for my Sunday Salad Samplers week, I changed it to Ceviche at the last week because we had just had Marcia's delicious chicken salad, and were due for some fish and seafood salad. But I thought I'll share this salad with you anyway, since it is a delicious,healthy summer salad.

What distinguishes this salad from other chicken salads is an ingredient called quinoa.Have you tried it before? You should! It is a crop,originated in South America,that is similar to spinach and tumbleweeds, and although it can be eaten as a leafy vegetable, this is not how it's mostly used. It is grown mainly for its edible seeds,which are of great nutritional value. Quinoa is an excellent source of protein, with a balanced set of all amino acids, it is also a great source of fiber, magnesium, phosphorus and iron. And it is gluten-free and easy to digest. I buy it in bulk at health food stores. It is very easy to cook, but needs to be rinsed thoroughly to wash off the coating of bitter saponins. With its fluffy and nutty flavor,it makes a great substitution for rice, bulgur, or couscous.

This is a another recipe from Dr Nicholas Perricone's book, Ageless Face,Ageless Mind. I adapted the dressing a bit to add more flavor by adding 1 teaspoon of cumin and 1 teaspoon of paprika, which do your health wonders according to Dr Perricone. Also, the original recipe calls for using rotisserie chicken, but I made it with grilled chicken breasts, and we loved it just as well. Here is my adapted recipe:

Continue reading "Southwest Quinoa and Chicken Salad with Creamy Salasa Dressing" »

August 23, 2009

Last Sunday Salad Sampler: Tortellini Salad

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With a full stack of delicious and nutritious salad recipes, we approach the end of the salads sharing era, and we are about to enter a different era:Sunday Small Bites. For our next "project", we decided to change it up a bit, the assigned person will be choosing an ingredient of the week, rather than a recipe, and everyone in the group will be making an appetizer using that chosen ingredient. The catch is, we are all going to try to use the ingredient in a recipe that we have not tried before. I am really looking forward to that, I think it will be a little more challenging, but the reward will be a huge number of appetizer recipes right in time for the holiday parties.

Before we get carried away from salads though, there is one last delicious salad recipe that Ida(Vico Girl) from SlowTravel shared with us. And boy I am glad she did, it is a wonderful salad, with delicious Mediterranean flavors. Here is what Ida says about her recipe:

I've been making this for years and it's especially good for a buffet/party as it serves quite a few. Now... I've never really measured the exact amount of the ingredients I use, but I tried for ST so here goes:

1 lb or a little bit more Fresh or frozen tortellini or a Barilla bag of dry tortellini
Boil as per package instructions and set aside.Don't overboil them! COOL them down a bit. (I used fresh tricolored).

Continue reading "Last Sunday Salad Sampler: Tortellini Salad" »

October 11, 2009

Sunday Small Bites #6: Smoked Salmon,Fennel and Goat Cheese Toasts

Small_Bites3_-1_Copy.jpgWith an attempt to catch up with Sunday Small Bites, I am combining week five ingredient(goat cheese) chosen by Nancy, with this week's ingredient smoked salmon, chosen by Marcia.

I found this recipe in Bon Appetit, December 1999 issue.I love the combination of goat cheese and smoked salmon, and adding the tarragon and fennel seeds make this appetizer a definite winner.I halved the original recipe, below is my adapted version.

Smoked Salmon, Fennel, and Goat Cheese Toasts

4 oz soft fresh goat cheese
4 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, finely crushed
1 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

1 tablespoons olive oil
8-10 slices of baguette

6 oz thinly sliced smoked salmon

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Continue reading "Sunday Small Bites #6: Smoked Salmon,Fennel and Goat Cheese Toasts" »

October 13, 2009

Sunday Small Bites #2: Broiled Crab Cakes with Chive and Caper Sauce

Small_Bites3_-1_Copy.jpgSince I've been on the road during the first few weeks of this awesome food challenge, I am now attempting to catch up. Sunday Small Bites is a little more challenging assignment than what the ST group has been doing before, since each week the person in charge picks an ingredient, not a recipe, and everyone makes an appetizer using that ingredient. We are encouraged to try a new recipe with the chosen ingredient. It is a lot of fun!

Going back to week two of the challenge, the secret ingredient chosen by Ida(Vico girl) of Slow Travel was crab.

I came across a broiled crab cake recipe in the Bon Appetit December 1999 issue, and decided it was about time for me to make crab cakes. Even though I love crab cakes, I've never made them at home, so thanks Ida for giving me the motivation to get on the crab cakes wagon.

The original recipe calls for the use of mayonnaise, but I used sour cream instead. I also halved the recipe, and increased the size of the patties from the original recipe. Here is my adapted version:

Broiled Crab Cakes with Chive and Caper Sauce

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1/4 cups minced green onions
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
3 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 Lbs crab meat
2 cups breadcrumbs of your choice
1 large egg yolk

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Chive and Caper sauce(see recipe below).


Continue reading "Sunday Small Bites #2: Broiled Crab Cakes with Chive and Caper Sauce" »

October 14, 2009

Sunday Small Bites #4: Avocado and Cream Cheese Toasts

Small_Bites3_-1_Copy.jpgStill attempting to catch up on the weeks I've missed in Small Bites.

The fourth week ingredient was chosen by Annie. Avocado is a rich fruit, and too much intake will cause high cholesterol, so a balanced diet is advised. I don't really eat or use avocados that much.And when I do,I use it mainly to make guacamole for Mexican dishes. Occasionally, I use it in dips. So to get outside my comfort zone with avocados, I decided to use the fruit as is. Inspired by my smoked salmon toast recipe, I made avocado toasts, with cream cheese and basil.We loved it!

Avocado and Cream Cheese Toasts

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4 oz cream cheese
4 teaspoon chopped basil leaves
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil
8-10 slices of baguette

1 avocado, sliced
hot sauce to taste

Continue reading "Sunday Small Bites #4: Avocado and Cream Cheese Toasts" »

October 18, 2009

Sunday Small Bites #1: Shrimp and Mushroom Wontons

Small_Bites3_-1_Copy.jpgI know we are supposed to be using pecans this week, but since I missed the first week ingredient(shrimp) and it is a favorite food for me, I am going back to week one this week.

Shrimp was chosen for the first week of Sunday Small Bites by Cindy Ruth of Baked Alaska.

I was inspired by wontons and found a great recipe in Southern Lady Magazine, the January/February issue of 2006. The recipe is for shrimp and mushroom wontons, served with soy-sesame dipping sauce. I made the full recipe(about 4 dozens) and we loved it! Combining shrimps and mushrooms was great, and adding the unique sesame taste was brilliant.

Shrimp and Mushroom Wontons

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2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves of garlic,chopped
1 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped green onion
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 lb fresh shrimp,peeled,deveined and chopped
40-50 wonton wrappers
1 recipe soy-sesame dipping sauce

Continue reading "Sunday Small Bites #1: Shrimp and Mushroom Wontons" »

October 19, 2009

Sunday Small Bites #3: Pesto, Cream Cheese and Sun Dried Tomato Bread

Small_Bites3_-1_Copy.jpgI am almost caught up with the weeks I missed in Sunday Small Bites.Sunday Small Bites is the food challenge hosted by ST foodies,with a different ingredient picked out each week, and everyone trying to use it in an appetizer recipe that is new to them.

The third week ingredient was sun dried tomatoes,chosen by Amy of Destination Anywhere blog.

I love sun dried tomatoes, I normally use them in pasta dishes and salads. For an appetizer, I came across a recipe in Philadelphia Cream Cheese site. The recipe uses pesto, sun dried tomatoes, and cream cheese to make tasty bread filling. The combination is a definitely a winner, and the bread is very easy to make.Here is my adapted recipe:

Pesto, Cream Cheese and Sun Dried Tomato Bread

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1 8 oz can refrigerated crescent dinner rolls dough
1 8 oz package cream cheese,cut horizontally in half
1 tablespoon pesto
1 tablespoon, finely chopped drained sun dried tomatoes

Preheat oven to 400 F. Unroll the dough and divide into two squares. Place one piece on a nonstick baking sheet and cover with pesto sauce. Spread half of the cream cheese block, add the sun dried tomatoes and cover with the other half of the cream cheese(making a sandwich). Use the other piece of the dough to enclose the spread, covering the cream cheese completely. Bake on 400 F for about 15 minutes.

For a delicious appetizer, I cut the bread into four pieces and served with celery sticks. We loved it!


October 25, 2009

Sunday Small Bites # 8:Pumpkin Soup

Small_Bites3_-1_Copy.jpgIt was Deborah's turn this week to choose the ingredient for Sunday Small Bites, and she chose pumpkin.Honestly, I am not a pumpkin kind of girl, and I can count on one hand the times I've had pumpkin in my life, and it is normally in a pie. So, I decided to challenge myself and make something different. Searching the internet, I came across a recipe for pumpkin bisque on Cooking With Pumpkin website.and decided to give it a go.Below is my adapted recipe:

Pumpkin Bisque

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Olive oil
1 medium white onion (diced)
1 garlic clove diced
2 cups pumpkin puree
4 cups chicken stock
Bay leaf
Pinch of sugar
1/2 tsp. of curry powder
Pinch of nutmeg
2 cups half-and-half
Salt and pepper
Toasted shredded coconut


Continue reading "Sunday Small Bites # 8:Pumpkin Soup" »

November 2, 2009

Sunday Small Bites #9: Giada's Fried Olives

Small_Bites3_-1_Copy.jpgThe secret ingredient for week nine is olives and it was selected by Jerry. As soon I saw Jerry's selection, I knew exactly what I was going to make; fried olives. I first had fried olives in a small restaurant in Mestre, outside of Venice.Called ascolane, the fried olives are stuffed with meats and cheese. I believe that I've dreamed about them since then. I found a great recipe for Italian fried olives by Giada De Laurentiis on the Food Network Website, and decided to try it.

In my initial attempt, I bought these nice big pitted green olives from the olive bar in the gorecery store, stuffed them according to recipe and tried to coat them with bread crumbs to no avail. Then I realized that perhaps the olives are too oily since they've been sitting in oil, tried to wipe the oil off, cover it with flour, nope, still no luck. Well, needless to say I had a little kitchen tantrum and walked away. Later that evening, we ate the olives stuffed with cheese and not fried and they were great.

I decided it to give Giada's recipe another run. I bought pitted green olives in a can this time, they are not as big or pretty, but at least they are not oily. I patted the olives dry, stuffed them, patted them dry again, let them dredge in flour, dipped them in the beaten egg, coated them with bread crumbs and then let them sit to dry for almost an hour. When I fried them, they held well!

I was very thrilled that they worked this time. And although the taste was not the one stored in my memory from Mestre, they tasted pretty good, especially for small olives. My mission now is to try to find large pitted olives that are not soaked in oil or pit large olives myself. (Not sure the latter would happen soon though.)

Here is Giada's recipe for Italian Fried Olives:

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Ingredients
1-ounce Gorgonzola cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup ricotta cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
20 pitted green olives, rinsed and dried thoroughly
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
Vegetable oil, for frying

Continue reading "Sunday Small Bites #9: Giada's Fried Olives" »

November 7, 2009

Sunday Salad Samplers #10: Parmesan and Herbs-Stuffed Mushrooms

Small_Bites3_-1_Copy.jpgIt was my turn this week to select the secret ingredient for the appetizer, and I chose mushrooms. I love mushrooms and cook them very often. I love them on pizzas, I saute them with green beans for side dishes, I bake them in casseroles, and I order them very often from appetizer menus when we eat out. I thought I'd challenge myself and make my own mushroom appetizer at home. I found a recipe from stuffed mushrooms in the Jan/Feb issue of Southern Lady and decided to try it. I am happy to report that we were not disappointed; the flavors complemented each others perfectly, creating delicious mushroom bites.

Parmesan and Herbs-Stuffed Mushrooms

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16-18 large stuffer mushrooms,washed and dried.
2 to 3 tbsp. melted butter
3/4 cup grated Parmesan chees
1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sour cream
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. minced fresh parsley
2 tbsp. minced fresh thyme
3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350F. Remove the stems from the mushrooms. Brush the mushrooms with melted butter and place on a baking sheet. Combine the remaining ingredients and blend well. Spoon or pipe into the mushrooms and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

November 25, 2009

Sunday Small Bites #12: Cranberry-Brie Biscuits

Small_Bites3_-1_Copy.jpgI ran a little behind with making Sunday Small Bites last week. The ingredient was cranberry, and it was chosen by Jan. I drink a lot of cranberry juice, add dried cranberries to my salad and eat cranberry chutney in Thanksgiving, that is about as far as my relationship with cranberries go. So for the challenge, I wanted to get out of my comfort zone a bit. I found this recipe at the Pillsbury website for Cranberry Chutney-Brie Appetizers, and I thought I'd tackle that. We loved them. The tangy cranberry taste combined with the creamy Brie is definitely a winning combo.

Cranberry-Brie Biscuits

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1 can of Pillsbury Grands Flaky Layers Biscuits
2 oz. Brie cheese, rind removed and cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1/2 can whole berry cranberry sauce
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped walnuts

Bake biscuits according to package directions. Cut the biscuits horizontally in half with a serrated knife and arrange cut half up on a baking sheet. Top the biscuit halves with Brie cubes, a spoon of cranberry sauce and sprinkle with walnuts. Return to the oven and bake for another five minutes until cheese is melted.

Happy Thanksgiving all!

November 30, 2009

Sunday Small Bites # 13:Spicy Sweet Potato Chips

Small_Bites3_-1_Copy.jpgI actually made this last week, but just got around to posting the recipe now. The week's ingredient was potatoes, and it was chosen by Maria. Since I made this the night before Thanksgiving, I chose to work with sweet potatoes, which might be my favorite vegetable. I found this recipe on Allrecipes.com, for spicy sweet potato chips and gave it a go. I tried to slice my potatoes as thin as possible to get them crispy, but even the "thicker" pieces that did not crisp were delicious! I will definitely make this again.

Spicy Sweet Potato Chips

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2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into thin silces
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum oil and spray with cooking oil. In a small bowl, stir together the olive oil, maple syrup and cayenne pepper. Brush the sweet potato slices with the maple syrup mixture on both sides and line on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Bake for about five minutes and then turn the slices over, our any remaining maple syrup mixture and bake the other side three to four minutes. The edges should be crispy.

December 6, 2009

Sunday Small Bites # 14: Smoked Prosciutto, Brie and Pineapple Jelly Cups

Small_Bites3_-1_Copy.jpgSandi (bugalu) from the WhistleStop Cafe Blog fame chose brie cheese as this week's ingredient for small bites. I was very excited when I checked the small bites schedule and saw it was time for Brie. An appetizer that I had a long time ago (maybe in Paris) came to mind, and I decided to go with it, especially that I had all the ingredients in my fridge with the exception of the phyllo cups. I went to the store and got these and started assembling my recipe as follows.

Smoked Prosciutto, Brie and Pineapple Jelly Cups

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A package of mini phyllp cups
Brie cheese, cubed
Pineapple Jam( I actually wanted fig jam, but found none at the neighborhood grocery store and didn't want go hunt for some).
Smoked prosciutto or just regular prosciutto

Preheat your oven to 350F. Line your phyllo cups on a baking sheet, and bake for five to seven minutes. Remove from oven, add a cube of brie to each cup and return to oven for another three or four minutes until the cheese has melted and the cups are crispy. Add a spoon of pineapple jam to top the brie, then roll a piece of smoked prosciutto and add to the top. Serve warm. This treat is crispy, sweet, salty and gooey delicious!

Happy Sunday all!

December 12, 2009

Sunday Small Bites #15: Baked Artichoke Italian Appetizer

Small_Bites3_-1_Copy.jpgSharon L of SlowTravel chose artichoke for this week's small bites ingredient. I am very thankful for her choice; healthy and delicious. The first thing that came to my mind was some artichoke dips, I love these and eat them often. So I decided to do something else, and started searching for recipes over the Internet, many exist, but a recipe titled " Baked Olive Antipasto" in Care2: Green and Healthy Living caught my eye. And since I had all the ingredients handy, I gave it a try. It was delicious, and very easy to make. I buy these ingredients in big jars from Costco, so I didn't really measure anything, just eyeballed it. I would definitely be making this again.

Baked Artichoke Appetizer

Artichoke%20appetizer%20001.jpg

8-oz can of mixed Italian olives, drained
1 (14-oz) jar/can artichoke hearts, rinsed and chopped coarsely
1 (10-oz) jar roasted peppers, drained and cut into thin strips
2 tbsp. olive oil
6 cloves fresh garlic, sliced thinly
2 tsp. grated orange zest
1 tsp. fresh thyme
4 oz. mozzarella cheese, cubed

Ciabatta bread,sliced and toasted

Preheat your oven to 425F. Combine the first seven ingredients in baking dish, mix and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for five minutes. Add mozzarella and return to oven for another five minutes or so, until the cheese melts. Serve on toasted Ciabatta bread.

Artichoke%20appetizer%20003.jpg

Happy Sunday all!

January 1, 2010

Sunday Small Bites # 16: Shrimp and Edamame Spring Rolls

Small_Bites3_-1_Copy.jpgWoo Hoo, it is 2010! I wish you all health, happiness and peace, may your dreams come true. I can't believe that I am in the mood to actually write about FOOD! It seems like all I've done in the past couple of weeks was eat. Lots of good food both here at home, at my in-law's house, on the road and everywhere else. I am sure glad that the gym is less than two miles away:) Anyway, I digress. Week 16 of Small Bites was optional with Edamame as the special ingredient. I had some spring roll wrappers in the fridge and I wanted to use them before we left to Houston for Christmas (yes I am only getting the time to post now). So I adapted the spring rolls recipe I have from our Thai cooking class to include edamame and served it with sweet chili sauce. The results were fabulous!

Shrimp and Edamame Spring Rolls

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2 Tbsp. garlic, minced
1 cup carrots, thinly sliced or cubed
1 cup of fresh shrimp, peeled, deveined and cut into small cubes
1 cup edamame, shelled
1 tsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
6-8 Tbsp. oyster sauce
1/2 cup egg noodles (or other thin noodles) soaked in water for five minutes and drained.
6-8 spring roll or wonton wrappers
water

Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add minced garlic and simmer for a minute. Add carrots and cook until almost soft (about seven minutes). Add shrimp, edamame, sugar, soy sauce and oyster sauce and bring to a boil. Add the noodles and make sure they are covered in liquid, if not add some more oyster sauce or water. Cover and cook for three or four minutes or until noodles are done. Remove the shrimp mixture from the heat. Scoop a couple of table spoons into each wonton wrapper and fold it sealing the edges with water. Fry in and serve with sweet chili sauce (recipe below).

Continue reading "Sunday Small Bites # 16: Shrimp and Edamame Spring Rolls" »

January 2, 2010

Sunday Small Bites #18: Eggplant and Pesto Tartlets

Small_Bites3_-1_Copy.jpgMoving on with the Sunday Small Bites schedule, this week was Eden's turn to choose an ingredient. She (very brilliantly I may add) chose eggplants. I love eggplants, but it is one of these vegetables that I don't cook much, I think I just find it hard to incorporate them into dishes I cook. (Note to self: I need to be more creative.) I recently bought a few cookbooks that were on sale from T.J. Max. One of these books is a Love Food Baking Book (I got it for $3), and it has many interesting baking recipes, from which I chose my eggplant recipe for this week: Eggplant and Pesto Tartlets.

The original recipe calls for draping the tartelts with a slice of prosciutto after baking, and I am sure that would have been amazing, alas we've been eating a lot of meat and I wanted to make it a "light" appetizer. Just using the eggplant,mozzarella and pesto sauce over puff pastry was fantastic, and with using a ready-made puff pastry it was really quick. I think this recipe may become a staple at our house, we really loved it!

Eggplant and Pesto Tartlets

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9 oz ready-made puff pastry, thawed
all-purpose flour for dusting

1 eggplant,trimmed and thinly sliced
5 Tbsp. olive oil
Mozzarella cheese
6 Tbsp. pesto
black pepper to taste
1 egg yolk

Continue reading "Sunday Small Bites #18: Eggplant and Pesto Tartlets" »

January 10, 2010

Sunday Small Bites: Fried Chickpeas

Small_Bites3_-1_Copy.jpgThe train that has reached its station in the Sunday Small Bites journey. What a great fun and so many amazing recipes that was! I was late making a dish so many weeks, but I think I actually only skipped one week (lentils) and who knows? Maybe I'll still make a lentil small bite one day. Thanks to all the talented and creative Slow Talk cooks, who shared many inspiring small bites recipe during the last...18 weeks(?). Wow!

Before we say goodbye to Sunday Small Bites, we still have one more ingredient to tackle:chickpeas, chosen by Kathy from Trekcapri Blog. Thanks, Kathy for choosing chickpeas, I love them. Of course, the first thing that came to my mind was hummus, and I know there are many twists to hummus and one can actually create a very flavorful and colorful hummus dip (my mom does). But I decided to go for something simpler: fried chickpeas. Well, I am not sure that I call them fried, because they are not deep fried, they are really just sauteed over olive oil. Fried chickpeas remind me of Rome. I found a recipe for Italian Fried Chickpeas on this eCurry blog.

Continue reading "Sunday Small Bites: Fried Chickpeas" »

January 11, 2010

Bobby Flay's Curry Chicken with Mango-Yogurt Sauce

I decided to challenge myself in 2010 and cook at least one new meal a week. I mostly cook without a recipe, just kind of combine what I need to get rid of from the fridge and/or the pantry to create a meal for the night. I like doing that because generally, my meals are quick to make and I don't waste much,since I use everything before it goes bad, but it also get me in a little of a rut as far as creativity goes. So for 2010, at least once a week, I am going to search for a recipe (in cookbooks or online) that goes beyond my scope of expertise. So far, I am having a lot of fun with that.

I found Bobby Flay Cooks American on sale at Barnes and Nobles before the holidays for something like ten dollars, and let me just say the book was money well spent. I like Bobby Flay's style of cooking, I like how he combines ingredients that I am many times surprised could be combined. In his cookbook, there is a mixture of many recipes that look and sound amazing to me, so I know I'll be cooking Bobby Flay Style for a while.

Searching Bobby Flay Cooks American for chicken recipes, I came across a dish entitled Curry-Fried Chicken with Mango-Yogurt Sauce- I was thinking yum! Reading over the recipe, it sounded easy enough and I had all the ingredients except mango for the topping sauce. Well, immediately I thought of the mango-chipotle sauce I picked up a couple of weeks ago from Marshalls, and adapted my own version of Flay's mango-yogurt sauce. Flay uses a large ripe mango with plain yogurt, onion, garlic, lime juice and honey to make his sauce. I substituted mango-chipotle sauce for the mango, adjusted the honey and spices accordingly and didn't puree the sauce(since I didn't use mango fruit), it turned out really well, I think it is a keeper, and Bill is already asking me when I'll be making it again.

Curry-Fried Chicken with Mango-Yogurt Sauce
adapted from Bobby Flay Cooks American

Curry%20Chicken%20with%20Mango%20Yogurt%20Sauce.jpg

For the Sauce:

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 small red onion, finely shredded or diced
1 clove of garlic,minced
1/4 cup mango-chipotle sauce
1 cup plain yogurt
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Honey to taste

Heat the oil in a small killet. Add the onion and cook until soft. Add the minced garlic and cook for an additional minute. Remove from the heat. In a small bowl, mix the onion garlic mixture with the mango-chipotle sauce, yogurt, lime juice, salt and pepper. Taste and add honey accordingly to adjust sweetness for your taste. The sauce should be spicy with a hint of sweetness. Store the sauce in the fridge until ready to serve.

Continue reading "Bobby Flay's Curry Chicken with Mango-Yogurt Sauce" »

January 14, 2010

Yellow Squash Tart

I've never baked a pie or tart from scratch until last week when I made a squash tart and wondered why I haven't tried making a tart shell from scratch before and always opted for the ready-made refrigerated ones. Of course, it's because buying a dough is much easier than making one. Or so I thought since I always struggled with dough; it's either sticky, runny, fragile or something else, but never good. I think I mentioned the Love Food Baking book I got at T.J. Max for three dollars before; it has many wonderful looking recipes, one of which is for a yellow zucchini tart. I had some squashes that I wanted to use, along with some fresh cilantro, so I adapted the yellow zucchini with chives tart recipe into a Yellow Squash with Cilantro Tart recipe. Not only was it a healthy and delicious tart, I made the tart shell from scratch and it totally worked; without any struggles.

The recipe calls for making cheese pie dough. rolling it into about three inches longer than the tart pan, lifting it into the pan and trimming the edges. Then you fit a piece of parchment paper into the tart shell, fill it with dry beans and let it chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. (I am not sure that this is a vital step, I've never heard of it before, but I complied and it worked; I think the beans serve to provide weight so that tart is pressed firmly into the pan?). Meanwhile, you prepare your filling by shredding the squash,draining it well, slicing green onions and chopping cilantro. You saute the onions and squash until all liquid evaporates, fill the tart and bake. It does take a little time, but the results are well worth it.

Squash Tart

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For the tart:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
One stick of cold butter cut into pieces
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
cold water


Continue reading "Yellow Squash Tart" »

January 17, 2010

Sunday Slow Suppers #1: Smoked Paprika Roasted Chicken

sunday_slow_suppers.jpgThe talented cooks from Slow Talk have embarked on a new cooking journey with sharing main dish recipes this time. Every week, the assigned cook chooses a cooking category and shares a supper recipe (Don't you just love the logo!). Amy from Destination Anywhere blog started out the challenge with the smoked paprika roasted chicken recipe posted below:


Smoked Paprika Roasted Chicken

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2 Tbsp smoked paprika (Plus a bit more for inside the chicken)
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp softened butter
2 teaspoons garlic salt (or 1 teaspoon salt plus 1 teaspoon garlic powder)
1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 whole 4-5 pound roasting chicken
1 onion, quartered


1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Rinse the chicken off. Pat dry thoroughly with paper towels (otherwise the paste won't stick).

2. Mix together the paprika, honey, lemon juice, butter, garlic salt, and pepper. Spread it over the entire surface of the chicken, then place chicken on a shallow baking pan. Sprinkle a bit of paprika into the cavity, and place the cut onion in the cavity.

3. Bake at 325°F for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes or more. You may need to adjust the time depending on how big your chicken is. The chicken is done when the juices run clear (not pink) when a knife tip is inserted into both the chicken breast and thigh, about 165-170°F for the breast and 180-185°F for the thigh. I like to cover the breast with foil for part of the time so it doesn't dry out.

4. Let chicken rest for 5 minutes, then carve and serve.


Continue reading "Sunday Slow Suppers #1: Smoked Paprika Roasted Chicken" »

January 18, 2010

Bobby Flay's Sweet Potato Biscuits

I tried another Bobby Flay recipe last week: Sweet Potato Biscuits, and we loved them. These biscuits are very delicious, pretty and easy to make. The pale orange color and slightly sweet flavor make them great on their own or accompanying other dishes. We enjoyed them both hot and cold. Bobby Flay declared them his favorite biscuits, and I can see why.

Sweet Potato Biscuits
Adapted from Bobby Flay Cooks American

Sweet%20Potato%20Biscuits.jpg

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. plus 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
5 Tbsp. very cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces OR solid vegetable shortening
7/8 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup cooked and mashed sweet potatoes
1 Tbsp. honey
1 eff beaten with 1 Tbsp. water

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Sift the first four dry ingredients together into a large bowl. Cut in the butter or shortening until the mixture resembles rolled oats (I found the easiest to do that with my hands). Make a well in the center of the mixture, and add the buttermilk, mashed sweet potatoes and honey. Stir vigorously until the dough forms ball, Knead lightly for about 30 seconds just until the ball begins to look smooth. Roll out the dough on a floured surface into a 3/4-inch thickness. Cut into two-inch rounds, rerolling the scraps and cutting more biscuits until your are out of dough. Transfer the biscuits to a non-stick baking sheet, brush tops with the egg wash and bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly browned. The recipe makes about a dozen biscuits.

January 24, 2010

Sunday Slow Suppers #2: Squash, Pepper, Chard, and Corn Stew

Continuing with week two of Sunday Slow Suppers, Shannon shared her go-to stew recipe. She said: "It makes me feel healthy just eating it, and it is delicious too." I agree, a very healthy vegetarian stew; loaded with vitamins and flavors. Here is Shannon's recipe:

Squash, Pepper, Chard, and Corn Stew

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1 medium onion, diced
3 – 5 garlic cloves, chopped
¾ pound banana squash, peeled and cut into pieces about ½ inch wide
2 – 3 T olive oil
1 t. Greek oregano
1 green pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 T. flour
2 T. chile powder
½ t. cumin
1 c. dry white wine
2 c. broth of choice
3 – 4 c. tomatoes, diced
½ bunch chard, blanched and cut into ribbons with the tougher stems cut away
1 ½ c. frozen corn
¾ c. sour cream or yogurt to taste
Chopped cilantro and green onions for garnish

Very lightly sauté the onion, garlic and squash in oil in a dutch oven or heavy-bottomed soup pot, then add oregano, red and green peppers, flour, chile powder and cumin. Stir together and cook for a minute or two longer.

Add wine, broth, and tomatoes, then cover and simmer for 30-45 minutes. Add chard and corn, then cook for a further 15-20 minutes.

Taste for seasoning. If stew is too liquid, pour off liquid into a small saucepan and boil down until reduced and richly flavored.

Just before serving, stir in sour cream or yogurt. Serve sprinkled with cilantro and green onions.

Continue reading "Sunday Slow Suppers #2: Squash, Pepper, Chard, and Corn Stew" »

January 25, 2010

Simple Coconut Cream Pie

I had some shredded coconut leftover from a dessert I made over the holidays, so I was searching for a quick and easy recipe to use it. I came across a very simple coconut cream pie dessert in Pil's Incredibly Easy Desserts book. All you need is three ingredients (well, four if you count the milk you use to make the pie filling). You start by toasting the coconut, then prepare the vanilla pudding and pour the pudding coconut mixture in graham cracker pie crust. Refrigerate until the pudding is set, and you are left with a delicious coconut pie dessert.

Coconut Cream Pie

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11/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
2 packages (4-serving size each) vanilla pudding and pie filling mix, plus the ingredients to prepare the mix
1 graham cracker pie crust

Preheat oven to 350F. Spread coconut on a baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Cool and reserve about two tablespoons.

Prepare pudding according to package instructions. Stir in remaining coconut.

Pour pudding mixture in the pie crust and sprinkle reserves coconut in top. Refrigerate for one to two hours until pudding is set.

January 31, 2010

Sunday Slow Suppers #3: Risotto al Granchio e Gamberi

It was Jerry's turn this week to pick a dish for our Sunday Slow Suppers, and I'd say he made a fine choice with Risotto al Granchio e Gamberi. I love crab, shrimp and risottos, so the combination was brilliant for my taste buds. Jerry got the recipe from Williams Sonoma cookbook 'Savoring Italy' by Miclehe Scicolone.

Risotto al Granchio e Gamberi

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Ingredients:
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
6 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 lb. shrimp, peeled, deveined and each cut into 4 or 5 pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
6 cups chicken or fish broth or water
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cups medium-grain rice such as arborio, vialone nano or carnaroli
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (about 1 cup)
1/2 lb. fresh-cooked crabmeat, picked over to remove any shell fragments

In a saucepan over medium heat, sauté the garlic and 2 Tbs. of the parsley in 2 Tbs. of the olive oil, stirring once or twice, until the garlic is fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the shrimp, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, just until the shrimp are pink, about 2 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shrimp to a plate and set aside. Add the broth to the saucepan and bring just barely to a simmer.

In a large saucepan or risotto pan over medium heat, warm 3 Tbs. of the oil. Add the onion and sauté until tender and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring, until the kernels are hot and coated with oil, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and continue to cook, stirring often, until the liquid is absorbed.

Add the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and making sure the liquid has been absorbed before adding more. When the rice is about half cooked, stir in the tomatoes, salt and pepper. The risotto is done when the rice grains are creamy on the outside and firm yet tender to the bite, 20 to 25 minutes total. Rice varies, so you may not need all of the broth or you may need more. If more liquid is required, use hot water.

Stir in the shrimp and crabmeat and cook, stirring, just until heated through, about 2 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Remove the risotto from the heat. Stir in the remaining 1 Tbs. each oil and parsley. Spoon the risotto into warmed soup bowls and serve immediately.
Serves 6 to 8

Continue reading "Sunday Slow Suppers #3: Risotto al Granchio e Gamberi" »

February 1, 2010

Baked Potatoes with Stir-Fried Chicken and Veggies

Stir fries are my go-to dishes when I need to make a quick healthy meal or have some veggies that are due to be used. I generally just slice the veggies I am using, cut the chicken (if I am using it) into thin strips and stir fry with the sauce and spices of my choice for the night. I've been hooked on oyster sauce lately. I typically make some white rice to serve with the stir-fry.

Browsing Ellen's Wright cookbook Around The Table, I came across a stir-fry recipe that she serves over a baked potato, and I thought what a novel idea! I prefer potatoes to rice, and they definitely make the balanced meal. So I gave her recipe a try and we really enjoyed it.

Baked Potatoes with Stir-Fried Chicken and Veggies
Adapted from Around The Table by Ellen Wright

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For the Potatoes:
2 to 4 medium-size Idaho potatoes
2 Tbsp. olive oli
Salt to taste

Wash and dry the potatoes and pierce them with a sharp knife or fork in three or four places. Rub the potatoes with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and bake for 40 to 50 minutes until skins are crispy and the flesh is tender. OR do as I do and stick the pierced potato along with a cup of water in the microwave for ten minutes. I use the microwave if I am only baking a couple of potatoes and I am not using the oven for anything else.

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February 8, 2010

Roasted Cheese with Salsa

Did anyone else love the Super Bowl game last night? I sure did. Despite the slow start for the Saints, they pulled it off really nicely; it was a very fun game to watch. And some really funny commercials too. All in all, it was a fantabulous game to watch. The scene of Drew Brees holding his baby and crying brought tears to my eyes. It was a good night.

Bill had to work during the day yesterday, so we just planned a Super Bowl party for two on our new couch (Yeah, it finally arrived two months after we ordered it!). I made roasted cheese with salsa and served it with some yellow corn tortilla chips. The combination of the melting cheese with the hot salsa makes this dip delicious. I originally got the recipe from The Mexican Cookbook, but I adapted it a bit.

Roasted Cheese with Salsa

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8 oz. Mexican queso Oaxaca or mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup of your favorite salsa
1/2 onion, very finely chopped or green onions finely chopped (I use a combination).

Preheat your oven to 400F.
Cut the cheese into chunks or slabs and place in a shallow ovenproof dish. Spoon the salsa over the cheese to over and then place the dish in the preheated oven. Cook until the cheese melts and is bubbly, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle with chopped onion and serve immediately while hot. (Before the cheese gets stringy when it cools).

February 9, 2010

Lemony Blueberry Cheese Tart

I found another recipe in Pil Incredibly Easy Desserts that caught my eye; there is just something about blueberry and lemons that they go well together, add cheese to an already winning combination and you are sure to have a mouth-watering dessert. Even better, you are actually spending less than 10 minutes preparing it!

Lemony Blueberry Cheese Tart

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9-inch refrigerated or frozen and thawed pie crust
8-oz mascarpone or cream cheese, softened
5 Tbsp. lemon curd, divided
2 cups fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 375F.
Press the pie crust into a 9-inch tart pan (or leave it in the aluminum pie tin). Pierce the bottom and sides of the pie with the tines of a fork. Bake until lightly browned, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and refrigerate for about 10 minutes until cool.

Meanwhile, stir together the cheese and 3 tablespoons of lemon curd in a small bowl. (Use a little of milk if the mixture is too thick to spread). Set aside.

In a medium bowl, gently stir in the blueberries and the rest of the lemon curd(2 tablespoons) until thoroughly combined.

Spread the cheese mixture in the bottom of the cooled tart shell and spoon the blueberries mixture over the cheese layer. Cover and chill for about two hours.

February 11, 2010

Decadent Ganache Tart

Every time I flip the pages of the Incredibly Easy Desserts spiral, I find something that catches my fantasy, and because they are so easy to make, and mainly use on-hand ingredients, generally, that evening I am eating more than my share of that dessert. I think I just need to hide that book. On the other hand, I am kind of over indulging now, because Great Lent starts on Monday, which means no meat, fish, eggs or dairy products for me, so I guess I am trying to fit in as much desserts as I can between now and Sunday night, since it would Easter before I have any again, not too bad if I look at it this way.

My last dessert trial was what Incredibly Easy Desserts calls Decadent Ganache Tart; it uses three ingredients: pie crust, chocolate and whipping cream. A very rich chocolate dessert, some may find overwhelming, but not me, I really enjoyed it. I ate my piece with some strawberries, I love the flavor combination. If you want to take out some of the richness, try serving the chocolate tart with a fruit sauce.

Decadent Ganache Tart

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1 refrigerated pie crust
8 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup whipping cream (I used regular)

Preheat oven to 450F.
Let pie crust stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Press the crust into a tart pan and prick the bottom and sides with a fork. Bake the crust for 10 to 12 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and place in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to cool completely. (If you are not in a rush, let it cool at room temperature.)

Meanwhile, combine chocolate and cream in a medium microwavable bowl. Microwave on high for one minute. Stir and microwave for another minute. Stir until all chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Pour chocolate mixture into cooled crust and refrigerate for about three hours until set.

February 14, 2010

Sunday Slow Suppers # 4: Cashew Chicken Stir-Fry

After taking last week off cooking for Sunday Slow Suppers, we come back to my turn for choosing a cooking category and main course. I was a bit torn between stir-fry and pasta, since these two are my go-to dishes for busy nights. I settled on stir-fry to share a recipe from our cooking class in Chiang Mai, Thailand last May. A dish that appeared on almost every menu in Thailand's restaurants was Cashew Chicken Stir-Fry, a very simple dish but loaded with flavors. The original recipe from Nan and Pot at Siam Rice Cooking School uses less vegetables, I just adapted the recipe a bit to add more vegetables and color to the dish. Stir-fries are very forgiving, and you can adapt the recipe to fit your tastes and what you have in your fridge and pantry. The hardest part is chopping all the vegetables that are going into the wok, once that's done, the cooking is a breeze.

Cashew Chicken Stir-Fry

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cooking oil
2 to 3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 yellow onion, finely diced (OK, I used red this time)
4 boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size cubes or strips
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
3 Tbsp. oyster sauce
1 tsp. sugar
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow squash, diced
1 zucchini, diced
8 oz. jelly, oyster or shitake mushrooms, sliced
red-eye chili pepper to taste,seeded and finely chopped
1/3 cup chicken broth
1 tsp. corn starch(optional)
1/2 cup unsalted cashews

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February 15, 2010

Easy English Trifle

We had a fabulous Valentine's Day dinner last night, with lots of food, good wine, watching the Winter Olympics and enjoying each others' company. I thought I'd start blogging from our last course: the dessert. I wanted to make a simple dessert that I can prepare ahead of time, and since we've just finished eating a chocolate tart, I thought I'd stay away from chocolate. When I saw strawberries on sale at the supermarket, English trifle came to mind. I researched some recipes on the Internet and came up with a simple, yet delicious version of English trifle.

Easy English Trifle

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8 oz. package cream cheese
2 cups cold milk, divided
1 (4-serving size) vanilla flavor instant pudding and pie filling
1 pound cake (store bought of homemade), sliced into about 21 pieces.
1 pint strawberries, washed, dried, stems taken off and halved.
1/2 cup lemon curd
2 cups thawed whipped topping

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and half a cup of milk on medium speed until well blended. Add the dry pudding mix and the rest of the milk and beat on low speed for one minute. Set aside.

Mix the strawberries with the lemon curd and set aside.

In a 2-quart clear glass serving bowl, place one third of the pound cake slices on the bottom of the bowl. Layer with one third of the strawberries mixture and half the cheese/pudding mixture. Repeat the layering two more times stopping at the strawberries third layer. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours until chilled.

Top with whipped topping and garnish with strawberries before serving.


February 16, 2010

Mahi Mahi Macadamia Crust Saute with Tropical Fruit Salad

Bill loves Maui and anything that has to do with it, so for Valentine's Day dinner main course I thought I'll prepare flavors that will take him there. I remembered bookmarking a recipe on Mama's Fish House website and decided that it sounds delicious and easy. The recipe calls for sauteing Mahi mahi fillets in olive oil and serving them with a macadamia nut sauce. Very little preparation and short cooking time, and the result is delicious and healthy. The restaurant suggests serving the fish with a tropical fruit salad that consists of papayas, mango, pineapple, lychees,onions, cilantro and lemon juice. I love fruits and it sounded like the perfect side dish for this meal, so I adapted the fruit content to match what I found in the supermarket.

Macadamia nut-crusted Mahi Mahi

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2 Mahi Mahi (or any fish really) fillets
Kosher Salt
Fresh cracked black pepper
Egg wash (one lightly beaten egg mixed with 1/2 cup milk)
Flour
4 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. salted butter
1 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
4 oz. dry white wine
2-4 Tbsp. roasted macadamia nuts, chopped
1/2 of a fresh lemon

Season the fish fillets with salt and pepper, dip in the egg wash an d dust in the flour. Heat the olive oil in the saute pan at medium heat. Place fillets in the pan and brown one side ( one to two minutes) and then flip the fish over to brown the other side (another one to two minutes). Depending on the size of the fillet, this may take longer, but be careful not to overcook the fish. Next add the butter, parsley, macadamia nuts, lemon and wince to the saute pan. Shake the pan to incorporate the sauce and heat until reduced to a nice sauce consistency. Serve sauce over fish fillets.

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February 21, 2010

Sunday Slow Suppers # 5: Vegetable Tagine with Fennel

It was Deborah's turn to choose a recipe for the week. She chose a Moroccan recipe for Goat Shanks with Fennel and Olives that she found on this Figments blog. I have to say, I am not so sure about goat. Growing up in an household where my mom cooked a lot with lamb and frequently enough with goat, I am not really a fan of either, or red meat for that matter. Add to this goat-phobia the fact that Great Lent started on Monday, and I definitely was not going to be able to eat this goat tagine. I started thinking, however, that there is no reason that I need to miss on a delicious spice combination, so I turned this goat shanks tagine into a healthy and delicious vegetable tagine.

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Tagine is a dish from the North African cuisine in Morocco. The name of the dish comes from the pot that is used to make it. A tagine is a heavy clay pot that has two parts: a shallow base unit, and a dome-shaped cover that is designed to keep condensation at the bottom of the pot. The concept of using a tagine is to slow-cook food at low temperatures. And since I don't have a tagine (I would love to own one too, they are so pretty), I decided to follow Deborah's advice and cook my vegetable tagine in my slow-cooker. I used potatoes, eggplants, tomatoes, carrots, fennel and green peas for my vegetables. For a spice mixture, fennel, cinnamon, ginger, cumin, coriander, trurmeric and saffron make for a sweetly flavored dish that is loaded with health benefits. I also used a half a cup of oil-cured olives and half a preserved lemon (Look for them in Middle-Eastern or Arabic markets). I made some Moroccan semolina bread using this recipe and used to dip into the tagine (Arabic-style). I have also served the leftovers over a bed of rice one night, and a bed of couscous the night after. The tagine was delicious every time. I loved the flavors, the smell and the look of this dish, and it really screams healthy, not just because of the vegetables, but the mixture of spices could not get any healthier.

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February 23, 2010

Papaya and Watercress Bisque

Watercress is a super-vegetable. It is a great source for vitamins A, C, B1, B6, K and E. It is also loaded with iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc and potassium. Watercress's health benefits can't be underestimated. But up until recently, I've only had watercress in salads, generally mixed with spinach because I find its taste a bit bitter. Imagine my surprise when I saw a recipe for watercress and papaya bisque on Mama's Fish House website. A combination I wouldn't have thought of, but it most definitely works. A very delicious soup, that is rich, creamy, easy to make and super healthy for you.

Papaya and Watercress Bisque

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2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup Maui onions, diced
1 Tbsp. garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, chopped
1 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
2 cups watercress, chopped
2 cups ripe papaya, chopped
1/2 cup white wine
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 Tbsp. roux (1 Tbsp. melted butter mixed with 1 Tbsp. flour)
Salt and black pepper to taste


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March 1, 2010

Sunday Slow Suppers #6: Vegetarian Take on Rachael's Zuppa Osso Buco

Sheri chose Rachael Ray's recipe for Zuppa Osso Buco for her week in Sunday Slow Suppers. Everyone in the group seemed to have enjoyed this easy recipe, some using ground turkey in place of the veal. Since Great Lent is still on, I again thought there was no reason to not adapt this recipe for a vegetarian soup. The adaptation could not have been easier, I just omitted the dumplings part, and everything else went into the pot. Rachael's recipe for the Gremolata (the topping) has anchovies in it, I also omitted that, and it was so delicious still, I actually think the Gremolata makes the soup.

Vegetarian Zuppa Osso Buco

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2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pot
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 ribs celery and their greens, diced
1 medium yellow skinned onion, peeled and halved
Coarse salt and pepper
1 fresh or dried bay leaf
1/2 cup white wine
1 (14-ounce) can white beans, cannellini, drained
1 (15- ounce) can diced tomatoes in puree or coarsely ground tomatoes
4-5 cups of vegetable broth
1 cup pasta


Continue reading "Sunday Slow Suppers #6: Vegetarian Take on Rachael's Zuppa Osso Buco" »

March 2, 2010

Goan Potato Soup With Spiced Pea Samosas

One of the things that I have been really enjoying in having a home base is the kitchen that has everything I want and use. Although all the places we were housed in during our assignments had all the essentials and sometimes more, the things weren't things I chose, so having a kitchen where everything is mine has given me a great pleasure, and I've been spending a lot of time in the kitchen. I like posting new recipes I try and like as a good way to archive and save them in my blog, where I know where to find them in the future, and since I signed up for March Madness (blogging every day), I suspect you guys will be seeing a lot of recipe posts.

During Great Lent (when I give up meat, fish, dairy and eggs), I turn to the Indian cuisine a lot for hardy and delicious recipes. Since a big part of India eats no meat, fish or egg for religious purposes and cheese is not authentic to their cuisine, it is normally easy for me to find satisfying vegan recipes. In this recipe, I went to Goa, India's smallest state, for a creamy, delicious and hot potato soup. I found the recipe in Every Day Soup book by Anne Sheaby, and the book suggested serving the soup with spiced pea samosas (which are traditionally fried in India, but the Middle-eastern version--normally stuffed with meat--bakes them, so I used the Indian stuffing but baked them for a healthier approach). The samosas were spicy, delicious and extremely fulfilling. I definitely would be using this recipe again.

Goan Potato Soup

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2 Tbsp. sunflower oil
2 Tsp. black mustard seeds
1 large onion, chopped
1 chili, seeded and chopped (green or red)
1/2 Tsp. ground turmeric
1/4 Tsp. cayenne pepper
2lb potatoes, cut into cubes (I left them unpeeled, but you can peel them if you wish)
4 fresh curry leaves*
3 cups water
8 oz. spinach leaves (tear if large)
1 14 oz. can coconut milk
salt and pepper to taste
Handful of fresh cilantro leaves

*There is really no substitute for curry leaves that I found. I asked a few Indian co-workers and they are not aware of any substitute for curry leaves either. Hopefully you are lucky enough to live near and Indian grocery store where they have fresh curry leaves. I love using curry leaves for taste and health benefits, I actually buy a handful when I go to the Indian grocery store and use them in many dishes.

Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the mustard seeds, cover and cook until they begin to pop. Add the onion and chili and cook for five to six minutes, until softened. Stir in the turmeric, cayenne, potatoes, curry leaves and water. Cover and cook over a low heat for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are soft. Add the spinach leaves and cook for five minutes. Stir in the coconut milk and cook for another five minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Add the cilantro leaves before ladling the soup into bowls.


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March 6, 2010

Sunday Slow Suppers #7: Vegetable Green Chili Casserole

It was Marcia's turn this week to pick out a recipe for the Sunday Slow Suppers cooking adventure. This is what Marcia had to say about choosing the casserole category for her week:

"I picked casseroles for a variety of reasons, one of them being the fact that I am a big fan of the one dish meal - raising 3 athletic children, and working, meant suppers that would serve many, and serve them quickly. As a younger cook, I learned to make enchiladas the traditional way, dipping tortillas in hot oil and then sauce, filling and rolling, etc. As a mom I switched to this dish, using the layer and stack method. It can be even quicker if you use canned enchilada sauces."

At our household, my husband is the master of filling and rolling enchiladas using canned enchilada sauce. I like the stacking version of it myself. Marcia shared a recipe for chicken and green chili casserole. At first look, surveying the butter, milk, cheese and chicken ingredients, I was thinking I could not adapt this for a vegan recipe for Lent and I was just going to delay participating in this week's Suppers until after Easter. But then, my husband and I were talking about non-dairy products available at health stores. So I went and checked out Native Sun Natural Food Market , a family owned health food store with two locations in Jacksonville. It is actually as close as Whole Foods to our place, a little further than the Fresh Market, but I am planning on shopping there more often. They have great products and friendly customer service, and they give you the option of five cents off your grocery bill or donating the five cents to a green organization if you bring your own bag. I like that. But I digress.

I bought the vegan cheddar-flavored rice cheese from there (along with other goodies) and thought that I could just adapt the milk, butter and chicken out of it. Well the outcome was very pleasing, we thoroughly enjoyed this dish. We were hesitant about the rice cheese, but it actually wasn't bad, not great either like real cheddar cheese, but a decent alternative. I just used it to top the casserole for a wetter bite, but I am actually thinking the casserole would have been just as good without it. The sauce really made this dish, and it was very moist and tasty.

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March 24, 2010

Citrus Bread

Trying to satisfy my sweet tooth during Lent, I tried a sweet citrus bread recipe I stumbled upon in the Love Food Baking Cookbook. The recipe is easy to make (especially with a kitchen aid), but it does require some rising time, so plan accordingly. The smell of the fresh bread mixed with the citrus was very appetizing, and the bread did not disappoint.

Citrus Bread

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3.5 cups bread flour
1/4 cup superfine sugar
1/2 Tsp. salt
1 envelope active dry yeast
4 Tbsp. butter, margarine or vegetable shortening
5-6 Tbsp. orange juice, plus a grated rind of one orange
4 Tbsp. lemon juice, plus the grated rind of one lemon
3-4 Tbsp. lime juice, plus the grated rind of one lime
2/3 cup lukewarm water
2 Tbsp. honey for glazing

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March 29, 2010

Palm Sunday Dinner

"Hosanna: Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord, the King of Israel" (John 12:13).

Palm%20Sunday%20Icon.jpgPalm Sunday is the one of two feast days during Great Lent where the Church deems it appropriate to eat fish (the other being the Annunciation Day). Since we've fulfilled our sushi cravings on Thursday, I thought I'll prepare us a fish meal last night. After church, I stopped by the fish market and got a couple of tuna steaks (and BTW, crawfish is in season and I ordered three pounds that I hope to pick up Saturday, keep your fingers crossed for me.) I generally prepare tuna steaks with some lemon and parsley or oregano, but thought I'll change it up this time and found Mrs Hazan's recipe for sweet and sour tuna steaks (Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking) very appealing and I had all the ingredients on hand. I adapted the recipe for smaller portion.

Mrs Hazan said that fish steaks prepared this way (Trapani style) come from the Sicilian cuisine. We appreciated the balance blend of sweet and sour flavors that did not overwhelm the fish. I served the tuna steaks with Bobby Flay's lemon-glazed sweet potatoes and roasted asparagus. It turned out to be a fabulous meal and it took less than an hour to prepare.

Sweet and Sour Tuna Steaks, Trapani Style

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3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 small onion, sliced very thin
1.5 Pounds of fresh tuna steaks (about an inch thick), rinsed and patted dry and skin removed.
Flour for dredging the steaks
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
Salt to taste
1 Tsp. granulated sugar
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 Tbsp. chopped parsley

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April 11, 2010

Sunday Slow Suppers #8: Braised Turkey Thighs

I am not really sure which week we are on now with the Sunday Slow Suppers Group, I missed a couple during the last two weeks of Great Lent, and I am now trying to catch up.

During Jan's week, she chose braised turkey thighs, a dish she said she made many times and never the same twice. After browning the turkey thighs, you remove the skin and saute some vegetables and place everything in the oven to braise. I followed Jan's recipe without changing a thing other than cooking the meal in the electric skillet for the whole time. The turkey thighs turned out juicy and flavorful, and I served them over polenta the first night, and rice the second. Bill especially loved this meal and is already requesting a repeat.

Braised Turkey Thighs

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4 tablespoons olive oil
2 turkey thighs
1 cup dry white wine
2 large onions, diced
4 medium carrots diced
3 medium stalks of celery diced
8 oz. Mushroom, sliced
4 medium cloves garlic minced
1 1/2 cups chicken stock or water
2 bay leaves
1 28 oz. Can crushed tomatoes
parmesan cheese rind (if available)

¼ cup chopped parsley for garnish

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April 14, 2010

Shrimp Lasagna

Since I bought Bobby Flay's book, Bobby Flay Cooks American, I had my eye on his recipe for Crawfish Lasagna. Patiently waiting for crawfish season and finally it is here, but I still can't coordinate it with the fish market to get the three pounds I want. Every time they get them, they sell out fast, the one week I remember to call and reserve, they don't get them, and so it goes. And since we are leaving soon (I'll write about that later, but we will be heading to Omaha, Nebraska soon), I decided that I am not leaving before trying this recipe, so I went for the alternative suggestion Mr Flay gives for the crawfish: shrimp.

I had no trouble finding some nice fresh shrimp at the fish market and I found the rest of the ingredients in my pantry, fridge and supermarket across the street. The sauce was divine and really makes the dish, I used more cayenne pepper than Mr Flay suggested for a bit of extra heat, other than that, I used his recipe to a tee. It turned out wonderful! I made it for dinner when my in-laws were visiting, served it with a green salad, and everyone loved it. Definitely going in the favorite recipes pile.

Shrimp Lasagna
Adapted From Bobby Flay Cooks American

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The Sauce

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
2 Tsp. cayenne pepper
35-oz can plum tomatoes, drained and pureed in a blender with juices reserved (we only use half of the juices in the recipe)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped

Heat the olive oil in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened. Add the cayenne pepper and cook for another minute, Stir in the tomatoes puree and half of the reserved juices, add in salt and pepper to taste and cook for about 20 minutes, until slightly thickened. White the sauce is cooking, boil the heavy cream in a non-reactive saucepan and reduce by half. Add the cream to the tomato sauce and cook for another five minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the fresh parsley and basil.


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