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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ginger-Tomato Soup


Soups are probably one of the easiest things to make. Simple. Hearty. Hot. Delicious. Yummy! What else is there to say? Soup just puts a smile on my face. It was a Friday, so I didn't want to put too much effort into making something and I wanted to relax.

I had some bok choy. I also had some leftover spinach. It just so happens that there was a little nub of ginger left, hiding in the corner of the veggie compartment. In which I totally almost forgot I had it. Plus the sauce of the fire-roasted tomatoes, I had opened when I made those Sausage Pizza Sticks and Ratatouille. I don't like to put anything to waste. So I threw that into the soup. Let it simmer until the bok choy and spinach shrink down, the enjoyed.

The result is what you see. Very gingery with a hint of tomato. I used chicken stock, but you may use veggie stock to make this a vegetarian soup. Be careful as the soup is hot meaning temp-wise. In my excitement, I couldn't wait and burnt my tongue. Ouch!

Serves 2-3.



Ginger-Tomato Soup

4 oz tomato paste or sauce
1 12 oz can chicken or vegetable stock
1 large garlic clove (minced)
2-3 Tbsp ginger (sliced)
3 bok choy (ends removed)
3 c baby spinach
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt
pepper


On medium to low heat, heat the olive oil in a pot and saute the garlic and ginger for about a minute.

Add in the tomato sauce, mix to combine for 2 min. Add in the stock, then the bok choy and spinach. Bring the mixture to a simmer and until the vegetables had wilted.

Season with some salt and pepper. Add more, if needed.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Oatmeal-Butterscotch Mini Muffins


This was my failed attempt at making oatmeal brownies. But on the upside, I'm really happy with how these came out because they turned into something else completely. I got muffins! Mini muffins to be exact. Don't you just love when something like that happens? Another happy mistake.

They're really good. There's a subtle butterscotch flavor. Great for breakfast, snack or dessert. Have it with some coffee, tea or moo juice. Topped them with a sprinkle of oats and a single butterscotch morsel before baking. Why the single morsel? I don't know. Decor? Maybe. I didn't think much into it. I made about 2 dozen mini muffins and 3 mini-loafs.

This makes 30 mini muffins.



Oatmeal-Butterscotch Mini Muffins

1/4 c granulated sugar
3/4 c brown sugar
1/2 c unsalted butter or margarine (softened)
2 eggs
1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c water
1 c rolled oats (plus extra for topping)
1 c butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 350˚F

Sift together flour, baking powder, salt. Set aside.

Melt the butterscotch chips in a bowl with the water. Heat in the microwave for 1 1/2 - 2 min or until melted. Stir the mixture after the first minute to combine. Or use the double boiler method. Bring some water to a boil in a small pot. Once the water is boiling bring it down to a simmer. Place the butterscotch and water in a metal bowl and place on top of the pot. Stir butterscotch occasionally to combine until melted.

In another bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Then add in the eggs, mixing after each one. Add in vanilla, then the melted butterscotch. Combine well then slowly add the flour mixture. Mix well until there are no lumps.

Add in the oats.

Lightly grease your preferred muffin pan and pour in the batter 3/4 full. Sprinkle a little more oats on top.

Baked for 15-20 min. Let it cool for at least 5-10min.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Baked Stuffed Chicken with POM Sauce


Well, not much to say about this one. It was a delicious dinner. A large baked tender juicy chicken breast stuffed with spinach and swiss cheese. No special seasoning, just some salt, pepper and paprika. My usual suspects and a coating of panko crumbs to give it a nice crunch crust. I wanted to serve this with some kind of sauce, yet I couldn't decide what kind. Then I remember the POM juice.

So a pomegranate sauce it was. Boiled it and thicken with a little cornstarch and an itty-bitty splash of rice wine vinegar. It's a nice combination of the two. I halved a skewer as I didn't have any toothpicks or butcher twine. Which reminds me, I need to get some butcher twine. Okay, added to the every growing shopping list.

I had this with those Baked Garlic Tater Tots.

Chicken serves 1-2. Depending, if you're really hungry. The pomegranate sauce serves 3.



Baked Stuffed Chicken with a Pomegranate Sauce

1 large chicken breast
1 garlic clove - minced
1 1/2 c baby spinach - washed
1/3 c shredded cheese - your choice
Panko crumbs
Paprika
salt
pepper

Preheat your oven to 400˚F.

Butterfly the chicken breast horizontally. Season both side with salt, pepper and paprika. Let it sit for 5 min.

Place the spinach and cheese in the middle and fold the chicken tightly. Use a toothpick to keep the chicken from opening while baking

Bake for 25 - 30 min. The cheese should have melted and the spinach wilted.



Pomegranate Sauce:

1 c pomegranate juice
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp water
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp butter or margarine

In a sauce pan, bring the pomegranate juice to a boil. Dissolve the cornstarch in water and slowly add it to the pomegranate juice. Stir until mixture thickens.

Remove from heat and stir in the rice wine vinegar and butter.

Serve on the side of your preferred meat.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Baked Garlic Tater Tots


Tater tots. In a way they're sort of like the mini version of the hash brown. The traditional way of making tater tops is to fry them. Yet again, here I am turning things around and baking them. I had 8 baby red potatoes that I had gotten from the farmer's market and my initial choice was just to roast them in the oven. But I had a craving for hash browns early this week, which developed into wanting tater tots.

You can use one large potato rather than using the baby ones. Be sure it's a potato you'd use for making a baked potato. Russets are good. I added a good helping of garlic powder. Not in an overpowering way, but you instantly know it's there. It's very tasty. I liked it better than the fried version. Eek! Gasp! Yes, I chose the baked over fried. I had this with some regular ol' ketchup. Lots of it.

The recipe will make about 15 taters.



Baked Garlic Tater Tots

8 baby red potatoes ot 1 large russet potato
1-2 Tbsp garlic powder
2 tsp all purpose flour
salt
pepper

Bring a pot of water to a boil.

Boil the potatoes until they are tender. Rough 20 min. To make sure it's ready, poke the potato with a knife or fork and should pierce through the skin without any hesitation.

Let the potatoes cool. Preheat you oven to 425˚F.

Then with a grater or potato ricer, mash the potatoes to bits.

Season with a little salt and pepper. Mix in the garlic powder and flour. Form in to little balls.

Place them on an baking sheet. Bake for 30 min. Turn them after min to give them an even browning.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Ratatouille


I love that movie. Don't you? You can read the history of this dish via wikipedia. Several weeks ago, a friend of mine sent me a recipe for a "chick pea ratatouille." It was a sign that I had to make it. Unfortunately, I didn't have any chick peas. Grr...

But I did have most of the veggies for an almost traditional ratatouille. I cut the eggplants and zucchini into thin coins. Helps it cook faster rather than going for cubed. I also sautéed the vegetables to help speed up the process of baking in the oven. Topped it with some shredded parmesan and let it melt for the last 5-10 min of baking. It gave the top crust a nice crunch that paired great with the tender veggies. Also the juices from the tomato mix with the veggies making a nice little sauce underneath.

Really simple easy dish to make. No need for anything fancy. I served it with a couple of sausage slices. You can have it with some toasted bread or rice, too.

Here's my adaptation of the ratatouille.

Serves 2-3.







Ratatouille
adapted from recipe on Epicurious and from my friend's "Chick Pea Ratatouille."

1 can fire-roasted tomatoes (drained, but keep 1/3 of the liquid)
2 medium zucchini - sliced or cubed
2 medium Japanese eggplant - sliced or cubed
1/2 large onion - sliced
1 large garlic clove (minced)
1/3 c shredded cheese
1 Tbsp Dry Rosemary
1 Tbsp Dry Thyme
Olive Oil


Preheat oven 425˚F

Drain most, but not all of the juices from the fire-roasted tomato.

Heat a tiny drizzle of olive oil in a pan, sauté the garlic and onion. Remove from pan when onions are slightly tender. Season with a little salt and pepper.

Heat another drizzle of oil, sauté the bell peppers. Remove from pan when nearly tender.

Heat a third drizzle of oil, saute the eggplant and zucchini until slightly tender. Season with the dry rosemary and dry thyme.

Take a baking dish or 9-inch pie tin. Layer a portion of the eggplant and zucchini, followed by half the onions, bell peppers and fire-roasted tomato. Do this layering a second time topping it with a few eggplants and zucchini slices. Drizzle the tomato juice over the finished dish.

Place in the oven for 30 min. 5-10min before removing, sprinkle some shredded cheese and baked until melted.



Thursday, June 25, 2009

Sausage Pizza Sticks


Every year, I receive one of those Hickory Farms gift boxes from a relative or close family friend. I never know what to do with the sausage and cheese in them. I just end up eating the strawberry candies and the using the little jar of hot mustard. I figured I could use them for breakfast with eggs or in a sandwich. Those sausage sticks are large. 6 to 8 inches long with a width of nearly a baseball bat. It was the Original Beef Summer Sausage, if anyone is interested.

Then I saw a a Pizza Hut commercial that showed this pizza twisty things. That would be fun to do. I didn't have pizza dough as I was feeling lazy to go out to the market or make some myself, but I did have a one puff pastry left from when I made those Cheesy Bell Pepper Swirls last week. I had a can of fire-roasted tomato in the pantry, so I used that instead of making a sauce and some shredded parmesan cheese. It sort of reminded me of the chicken bake from Costco but thinner. Ooo...I think I'll try to make that next.

I had used about 1/4 of the sausage for this, which is roughly 1 cup when chopped. So there will be few more sausage recipes coming soon. You can use your choice of sausage. It's not greasy so it can be easily held like a sandwich. Lightly coated the top crust with some olive oil, then sprinkled garlic powder and parmesan to give it a nice crisp crunch when baked.

You can switch out the sausage for your favorite pizza topping(s). This will make 3 pizza twists.



Sausage Pizza Sticks
1 puff pastry sheet
1 c sausage - chopped - your choice
1/2 c tomato (chopped and deseeded)
1/2 c shredded parmesan cheese (plus extra for the crust)
garlic powder
olive oil

Preheat your oven 400˚F.

Divide the pastry puff into three equal rectangular strips on a lightly floured flat surface.

Sprinkle the parmesan cheese down the center of each pastry. Top with the fire-roasted tomatoes, minus the liquid. The the sausage.

Roll the pastry puff tightly into a twist, starting from one corner. If not rolled tightly, the tomato juice will seep out causing the pastry to get mushy.

Lightly brush some olive oil on the crust and liberally sprinkle some garlic powder and the some extra parmesan.

Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 20min.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Egg White Omelette



When I made my German Chocolate Mini Cakes a few days ago, I was left with a couple of egg whites that were not needed for the recipe. I didn't want to throw them away as they were still good. I put them in the fridge until I could figure out what I could make with them.

Fast forward a few days later, I'm trying to decide what to cook for dinner. I remember the egg whites in the fridge. Take out the remaining green onions, some grape tomatoes from the vegetable compartment and some shredded parmesan cheese. A simple fast delicious and healthy dinner in just minutes. I love it when the edge forms a tiny crisp crust. Yum! This is perfect for those of you who are watching your carb intake, too.

I had this with a couple warm wheat mini pan de sal.



Egg White Omelette
2 Egg White
2 green onions (chopped, including stems)
1/2 c grape tomatoes (halved)
1/3 c shredded parmesan cheese
Olive oil
Salt

Season the egg white with a pinch of salt.

Coat the bottom of a pan with oil and heat on a medium to low flame.

Pour in the egg white. Sprinkle half of the parmesan cheese, then the green onions. Place the tomatoes around, then sprinkle the rest of the cheese.

Let it cook for 3-5 min. When you see it begin to puff up and the cheese melting then it's ready. Remove from heat.

Serve with some bread or whatever you feel like serving it with.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Pomango Dressing


Last week, I received a case of pomegranate juice from the awesome people at POM Wonderful. I love pomegranates and its mild tart flavor. I've had this product before when I used to buy the huge bottles from Whole Foods. So when they contacted me, I immediately accepted. As soon as I received the case in the mail, I drank two of the bottles in two days. I had to control myself from drinking anymore because I have plans for this delicious juice.



In case you were wondering, the juice is also healthy for you. Full of anti-oxidants and full of vitamin C & E. It's also great for your cardiovascular system. Small food fact: Pomegranates are one of mankind's earliest cultivated fruits. So if it's been around this long, you know it got to be good. I remember making my own pom juice once. It a bit labor intensive with trying to get all the seedlings out from their shell. Luckily, I don't have to do that anymore.

Of course, the first thing I make with it is a salad dressing. A pomegranate and mango dressing. Since having those broiled baby back ribs filled me up the other day, I needed something relatively light to counter balance all that meaty goodness. A nice refreshing salad was in order. Besides, it was a hot day and I didn't feel like eating anything heavy.

It's not chunky as I made this in the food processor, so it had a smooth consistency to it. Not too fruity and a lovely tiny tang from some dijon mustard.

This makes roughly 1 1/2 c of dressing.



Pomango Dressing

1 ripe medium mango
6 Tbsp Pomegranate Juice (POM Wonderful)
3 Tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
salt
pepper

Note: You may use a food processor, blender, or an emersion blender

Mash the mango into an liquid state.

Blend in the pomegranate juice, vinegar, olive oil and dijon mustard until smooth. Season with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Add more, if needed.

Drizzle over your favorite mix of greens.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Pinoy Style: Broiled Baby Back Ribs



Here's a Filipino way to so some ribs. It's actually a take on the dish bistek, which is stir-fried beef strips with sautéed onions. Instead, we used baby back ribs and broiled them for two hours.

It's really easy to make, it just takes time. It's a "set it and forget it" kind of dish. Leaving time to do other stuff like writing or playing a relaxing game of sudoku. Go run an errand or something by the time you get home you got some delicious ribs. Plus, the onions are really easy to put together and only takes minutes.

You can use a slow cooker as well. After marinating, place all the ingredients in the slow cooker before going to work. Set it on medium to low. 8-hours later you got some awesome ribs. Ready to eat. Simple.

The end result will come out tender and clean off the bone goodness. I had this with some steamed rice.




Pinoy Style: Broiled Baby Back Ribs

1 slab baby back ribs (cut into pieces)
1/2 c soy sauce
1/3 brown sugar
juice of half a lemon
1 onion (sliced)
olive oil


Combine the soy sauce, brown sugar and lemon juice. Stir until the brown sugar fully dissolves.
Spread the marinade over and let it rest for at least an hour. This may be done ahead of time, if not cooking on the same day,

Preheat your broiler.

Transfer the ribs into an oven safe dish, covered with foil and place in the broiler for 2 hours. Save the marinade.

Heat the oil in a pan and saute the onions until tender. Take the marinade and add it to the onions. Saute for 2 min.

When the ribs are done, pour over the onions and sauce onto the ribs.

Serve with some steamed rice.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day Dessertizer: Meatballs with cheese sauce


Meatballs with cheese sauce.

I remember watching an episode of Dinner:Impossible and the mission was to make a dinner for magicians in Las Vegas. Robert Irvine had to create dishes that tasted one thing, but looked completely like a different dish.

Here's what I did with the scrap cake pieces, leftover filling and icing. Meatballs and cheese sauce aka German Chocolate Cake Balls with Butterscotch Icing. It looks like it, doesn't it? The coconuts can be the onions.

Dessert or appetizer? It's a Dessertizer. I don't know. You decide.

-----------------------

You can view my recipe for the German Chocolate Cake and Butterscotch Icing here.

To make the cake balls:
Crumble the cake into itty-bitty pieces shortly after baking. Make sure that both the cake and filling a cool enough to hand.

Mix in the coconut-pecan filling. Mold into balls. Size is your choice.

Chill in the fridge for at least an hour to let them firm up, then drizzle the icing over like a sauce.

Chill in the fridge for at least an half an hour before serving to let the icing set.

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Trick you husbands, dads, father-in-laws or guests at a party with this.

"Hey dad, try some meatballs and cheese sauce" Takes bite. "Whoa...it's cake!!"

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY TO ALL THE DADS!!!
Here's some "meatballs with cheese sauce" for you eating enjoyment.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

German Chocolate Mini Cakes with Butterscotch Icing



It was my mom's birthday yesterday and I wanted to surprise her with a little cake or two. Ain't I loving daughter? When I started baking, this was the first cake I ever made. It is a German Chocolate cake. Made it from scratch. None of that boxed stuff. I usually make this once or twice a year. Depending on the occasion or request.

The original recipe comes from a tear-out card in the box of Baker's German's Sweet Chocolate found in the baking section of your grocery. It's the one cake I'm known for in my circle of close friends. It makes about 2-3 9-inch layers. So it's a pretty large cake.

This time around I decided to do half the recipe and make some mini cakes with a butterscotch icing drizzled on top. I'm not very good at decorating and what not them. Eating, yes. Decorating, that's a big fat no. Using a 4-inch cookie cutter to make the rounds. I made 3 mini cakes with it. Of course, there was quite a bit leftover. What did I do with the rest of the filling, cake pieces and icing? I made meatballs and cheese sauce with them. I can imagine you all scratching your heads going..."???" Tune in tomorrow to find out what I mean. Unless, you can figure it out in the next 24 hours. It's a pretty easy answer.

Anyway...my mom loved the cake(s). Here she is ready to blow out the little birthday candle. You know the phrase "aging gracefully"? I truly think my mom fits the title. If you look at a picture of her 10-15 years ago, you'd think it was taken recently. Oddly enough, some people have mistaken us for sisters. True story. Which I find pretty funny because I look more like my dad. Go figure. Hopefully, I can do the same as I get older. *crossing fingers*


I love this cake and I wouldn't mind making this all the time. The recipe below will make 1 9-inch layer, 2 c filling and 2 c butterscotch icing.




German Chocolate Cake with Butterscotch Icing
adapted from Original Baker's German Sweet Chocolate Cake recipe

Cake:
2oz Sweet Chocolate
1/3 water
1 c Cake Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter (softened)
1 c sugar
2 eggs (separated)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 buttermilk

Note: if you don't have buttermilk, you can mix in 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice or vinegar to 1/2 c milk. Let it stand for at least 10 before adding to the cake mixture.

Preheat your oven to 350˚F.

Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Melt the chocolate with the water in a microwave safe bowl to 1 min 30 sec. After the first minute, stir the chocolate to combine witht he water. Stir again after the final 30 seconds.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add in the egg yolks, beating after each one. Add in the vanilla and chocolate. Then slowly add the flour mix and buttermilk, alternating between the two.

Beat the eggs whites with an electric mixer until it forms stiff peaks. Gently fold into the fluffy egg white into the chocolate mix.

Line a greased baking pan with parchment paper and pour the mixture.

Bake for 30 min. Use the toothpick method to check. Let it cool for 5 min before removing from baking pan.


Coconut Pecan Filling:
2 egg yolks
1 5oz can evaporated milk
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 c sugar
6 Tbsp butter or margarine
1 1/2 c sweetened coconut
1 c pecan bits

Beat egg yolks, milk and vanilla into a saucepan until blended together. Add sugar and butter and heat on medium for 12-15 min or until mixture is thick and golden brown. Stir constantly the whole time to prevent the yolk from cooking.

When the mixture is thickened remove from heat and let it cool for 5 min. Add the pecans and coconut and mix well. let it cool down then spread onto the cake.


Butterscotch Icing:
1 1/2 c powdered sugar
1/2 butterscotch chips
4 Tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla
4 Tbsp butter or margarine

Sift the powdered sugar into a bowl.

Melt the margarine in the microwave for 1 min. Add to the powdered sugar and mix.

Add vanilla and 2 Tbsp of the water

Melt the butterscotch chips with the other 2 Tbsp of the water for 1 min 30 sec in a microwave safe bowl. After the first minute, stir the chips, to combine with water. Mix again after the final 30 sec.

Add the butterscotch to the mix and combine well until it is a yellow-caramel color. Spread or drizzle onto the cake.

Note: For thicker icing, add more powdered sugar. For thinner icing, add water.


Putting it all together:
remove the cake from the baking pan. Level off the top and slice it in half horizontally. Take a 3-4 inch cookie cutter and cut out 3 cakes. There should be 6 round pieces.

Spread some of the coconut-pecan filling over the bottoms. Place the top cake piece and drizzle some of the butterscotch icing over coating the top. Place in the fridge, if not being served immediately.

Friday, June 19, 2009

String Bean Soup



I love string beans especially the long variety. Those things can be as long as my arm, even longer. I used half a bundle earlier this week in my vegetable tempura. I love them in soups. There's this stew in the Philippines called sinigang. It's a sour stew. Whenever I see that being served, I dive in and pick out the string beans as well as little of the pork and other veggies. Maybe that's why I always hold up the buffet lines in many Filipino gathering.

I'm the type who like the "meaty" ingredients in the soup rather than the liquid. But I'll take the liquid part, too. I ain't discriminating soups. I'm an equal opportunity soup lover. Yet, I piled on the string beans to my delight. I went vegetarian on this dish, but you can use chicken stock for this as well.

Soup warms the heart.

Makes 2-3 servings.



String Bean Soup

1 12oz can vegetable or chicken stock
3 c long string beans (tips removed, cut into 3-4 inch sticks)
1 large garlic clove - minced
3 green onions - chopped
1 large tomato - chopped
1-2 c fresh spinach
1 Tbsp fresh or dry basil
1 Tbsp olive oil
salt to season
pepper to season

Heat the olive oil in a pot on medium heat. Saute the green onions and garlic for roughly 30 seconds, then add in the string beans. Saute for 1-2 min.

Add chicken or veggie stock and tomatoes. Bring to a boil soup to a boil. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and add more salt and ppeper, if needed. Bring the heat to low and let it simmer for 15 min or until the string beans are tender.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Spinach Pizza with Cream Sauce



One of my favorite pizzas is the Spinach Alfredo Pizza from Papa John's Pizza. Since I've limited my take-out eating to better myself and my wallet, I've been craving for foods that I used to order constantly. Pizza being one of them.

Rather than using a tomato sauce as the base I decided on using a cream sauce with garlic and herbs instead. Topped it with some fresh spinach. When I piled it, it looked like it was a lot. I totally forgot that leafy greens tend to wilt slightly after cooking. I had some baby eggplants left as well so I added that into the mix, which is optional. Then some shredded chicken. Also optional. Then topped it off with some sliced tomato and shredded cheese. This was way better than the Papa John's version.



Spinach Pizza with Cream Sauce

1 pre-made pizza dough
1/2 lb fresh spinach
1 large firm tomato (sliced or diced)
1/2 c grated cheese (your choice)

Cream Sauce:
1 5oz can evaporated milk
1 Tbsp butter or margarine
1 Tbsp Flour
1 tsp basil
1 tsp parsley
1 large garlic clove (minced)
salt to season
pepper to season

optional:
3 chicken tenders
8 baby eggplants (sliced)

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For the chicken: season with salt, pepper and paprika. Heat some oil in a pan and pan fry the tenders for 2-3min per side. Remove from the pan and let it sit for 5 min, then shred into pieces.

For the eggplant: Toss the in some olive oil and roast them for 15-20 in a 400˚F oven.
------------------------------

Preheat the 400˚F

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter. Add in the flour and stir together until it is like a dough. Add in the milk slowly. Heat and stir occasionally until the milk slightly thickens. Add in the garlic, basil, parsley. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Remove from heat and let cool.

Lay the pizza dough flat on an ungreased baking sheet. Spread the cream sauce over the dough leaving 1-inch around the edge untouched for the crust. Then place over the spinach. (It may look a lot, but they will wilt once they are cooked.) Add in the optional chicken and baby eggplant. Then top with the tomatoes and cheese.

Bake for 15-20min.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Cheesy Bell Pepper Swirls


I mentioned last week that I would recreated the BSI: Bell Pepper winning recipe. The winner was Cheesy Bell Pepper Swirls by Parita of Parita's World. You can view the original recipe here.

Well, here's my recreation. I had to adapted it a little using one pastry sheet. I also had to tone down the spiciness and heat a bit to cater to the other taste buds in the household. Otherwise, if it was just me, I would have packed in the jalapeño and chili paste that was called for in the original recipe. But I did sneak a good amount of heat into it. Special thanks to Mr. Tobasco. I would have used sriracha or Tapatio, but I realized as I was making this, I didn't have either in the pantry.

I stuffed them good, making them nice and plump when they came out. Unfortunately, two of them burst open in the oven, spreading the cheesy goodness on the baking sheet. That's okay. It's all good in the hood. Make sure you roll them tight to prevent that from happening. I'm still working on the whole rolling pastry thing.

I think made the right choice in picking this the winner. Congrats again, Parita. One sheet make about will roughly make about 9-10 1-inch swirls including the sides. So I present to you Cheesy Bell Pepper Swirls.





Cheesy Bell Pepper Swirls
adapted from original recipe by Parita from Parita's World

1 puff pastry sheet - thawed
1 small red bell pepper - fine chopped
1 small yellow bell pepper - fine chopped
2 spring onions with their greens chopped finely
1/2 -1 cup grated cheese (your choice)
1 tsp olive oil
1-2 Tbsp hot sauce
1/2 tsp black pepper powder
1 tsp dry basil
Salt to taste

Optional:
1/2 tsp sugar
2 medium jalapeños (chopped)
1 tsp red chili paste


Preheat the oven at 400˚F.

In a sauce pan, heat olive oil, add in all ingredients, except for the cheese and pastry puff. Sauteé for 5 mins.

Take a pastry puff sheet onto lightly floured surface, spread the bell pepper stuffing, leaving little space on the sides. Top it with grated cheese and fold the sheet carefully into a tight roll sticking the sides together with little water if required.

Cut 1-inch slices of the roll.

Place on an ungreased baking sheet, line the baking sheet with parchment paper and bake them for 20 to 30 mins or until golden brown.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Vegetable Tempura

Can you tell I went a little tempura crazy with that plate above? Having replenished my fridge with fresh produce this a past weekend, I couldn't resist to doing a little veggie fry. I remember when I used to eat out at a Japanese restaurant and get one of those bento lunches, I'd always save the cream cheese rangoons and tempura for last.

Clockwise from the top: spinach leaves, string beans (chopped in 4-inch sticks), a few sliced baby eggplants, an avocado and half an onion. You read right. I've tempura-ized the avocado. Hey...some places do it with ice cream. Though, it turned a bit soggy straight out of the fryer. Still good though. Also, if you ever decide to tempura-ize an avocado, make sure you eat it last because it will fill you up.

The batter makes 1 - 1 1/2 c. I served this with a simple soy sauce and lemon dip.



Veggie Tempura

Batter
1 c All-Purpose Flour
1 c COLD water
1 egg (beaten)

Your choice of veggies

(Note: To make it a true Japanese batter, use only the egg white. Thanks to Robert-Gilles of Shizuoka Gourmet for the suggestion)

Mix the three ingredients together, do NOT mix it into a smooth batter. You just want to combine them. Lumps in the batter are a good thing in this case.

Frying

Preheat you fryer or pot with out at least 3-4 inches deep. until it's about 350˚F.

To know when it is ready, drop a dot of batter into the oil. If the batter immediately floats, you're ready to fry. Make sure you lay out some paper towel or some paper underneath a rack to soak up the excess oil.

Dredge the pieces of veggies in the batter and carefully drop them into the hot oil.

Spinach leaves will take roughly 1-2 min. All other veggies generally take 3-4 mins.

Serve immediately to prevent from getting soggy.


Avocado tempura on the left.




Monday, June 15, 2009

Grilled Salmon with Garlic Lemon Herb Butter


When I saw this large filet of salmon at the farmer's market this past Saturday, I knew I had to get it. I was actually a larger filet. I had to cut it into two pieces. It was fresh, like it was just caught that morning. Perhaps it was, I don't know. All I did know was that I had to get it. Luckily the day I decide to grill, the the sun had briefly come out of hiding giving SoCal a lovely blanket of warmth.

Oh, funny little tidbit. While I was at one of the little produce stalls at the farmer's market, the merchant had mistakenly labeled the bell pepper as "bill" pepper. Would you like a "bill" pepper? What's that?

Anyway...I don't usually like to fuss around with marinating salmon. I like to kept it simple. Just a salt and pepper base as I'm serving this with a garlic lemon herb butter. It's best to make the butter right before serving the salmon.

Grilled to perfection. Moist, tender and flaky. A crispy skin, which I usually save for last. The juices of the salmon mixing with the melted butter mix. All cause for a good time. Btw, salmon fat is good fat. So eat up. I had to grill mine a little longer as it was a thick cut. But generally it shouldn't take 2-3 minutes per side for a 1-inch filet.

I also served this with some grilled tomatoes lightly coated with some olive oil.




Grilled Salmon with Garlic Lemon Herb Butter

2 salmon filets (1-2 inches thick)
Salt
Pepper

Prepare your grill. Season the salmon with salt and pepper.

Cook the skin side down first 2-3 min. (helps keep the fish in tact when you flip)

Then grill 2-4 min on each side there after.


Garlic Lemon Herb Butter

2-3 Tbsp Butter
1 tsp dry or fresh oregano
1 tsp dry or fresh thyme
1 tsp dry or fresh basil
Juice of half a lemon
1 garlic clove (minced)

Melt the butter on the stove or in the microwave for 1 minute or until melted. Add in the herbs, lemon and garlic. Mix well. Set aside until ready to use.

If the butter becomes solidified again, just reheat the butter.

Pour over on the salmon.



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