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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Chipotle Honey Soy Braised Chicken

When I first started cooking, I would never know if what I made would be a hit or miss. When I succeeded in making something that tasted good I wouldn't really know what I had done right or wrong (I still feel that way sometimes!) but the biggest difference between now and then is that if a recipe turns out poorly I can make some adjustments and make it taste better. The biggest mistake I made when I first began cooking was not tasting before serving. Somehow I must have thought that things would just work themselves out and magically taste perfect without having to adjust the seasoning. Of course now I know better and I taste things several times. Another very important thing to remember is that you can always add more but you can never take back what you add so add sparingly and taste every time you add seasoning! Now onto the recipe - I love chipotle peppers and I wanted something that brought out the smokiness of the chipotle peppers while also balancing the spiciness and bringing out the sweetness of the peppers. I added chocolate to the sauce mixture because it would bring out the smokiness and sweetness of the mixture and it's similar to how chocolate is used in a mole sauce (plus any excuse to use chocolate right?). The chicken was juicy and the sauce was finger-lickin good!

Cooking the chicken in the yummy sauce

Chipotle Honey Soy Braised Chicken

1lb chicken pieces (I used chicken drumsticks)
1 tablespoon oil
1/4 cup water
chocolate curls (garnish - optional)

3 garlic cloves
2 small chipotle peppers
1 teaspoon chipotle sauce (from peppers)
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons mirin (add more honey if you don't have any)
1 tablespoon semi-sweet chocolate

1. Place sauce ingredients into a food processor and process until completely smooth. Taste and adjust depending on how spicy, sweet or salty you want the sauce.
2. Heat oil in pan and add chicken. Cook until chicken is lightly brown on both sides.
3. Add sauce ingredients and water to the pan. Stir chicken to fully coat in the sauce.
4. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat and simmer until chicken is fully cooked.
5. Plate and scatter chocolate curls over chicken.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Handrolled Noodles and Why You Should Buy Grey Goose

I needed fresh handrolled noodles to go with the Taiwanese beef noodle soup but when we went grocery shopping, Tombee drove away from the fresh noodle shop and would not turn around. He has no appreciation for my creative genius I tell you! I therefore had to make homemade handrolled noodles because the beef noodle soup is just not the same otherwise. I used a recipe from Gaga In The Kitchen. Personally I thought the noodles tasted too floury and I found it very difficult to cut the dough into thin enough noodles. Making the actual dough was incredibly easy and quick and it would be worth making the noodles just for those very reasons if you are craving home made noodles. Next time I might try adding 1/8 oil into the ratios for the dough in hopes that it would add a smoother and less doughy texture and perhaps add some more taste into the noodles themselves. I'm not sure if I did not knead enough, therefore not developing the gluten in the flour fully and that's why it resulted in a more floury taste and not enough of a chewy texture. When making these noodles, I used my trusty grey goose bottle to roll out the dough. This is probably the third time I've used this bottle to roll out dough and I'm loathe to get rid of something so useful (this is a two-in-one really as you can roll dough and drink from the bottle in between to make the job more fun) but I know I really should go and find a real rolling pin. However, it would be almost like parting two true loves; I've even written an ode to my grey goose bottle:

How I love thee grey goose bottle, let me count the ways:

I love thee for thy long and smooth curves that I can grip when rolling,
I love thee for thy matte skin to prevent sticking to dough,
I love thee for thy joyous taste when I need to quench my thirst,
And I love thee for thy magical powers in making me feel like the smartest person in the universe.

I know what you're thinking (other than that I should be a professional poetess of course) - I should get out more. But back to the noodles. I used 4 cups of flour and got enough dough to for 2 meals but again that depends on how thick or thin you slice your dough.

Very messy process

Coiled and ready to be cooked

Handrolled Noodles from Gaga In The Kichen

2 parts flour
1 part ice water
extra flour to keep things from sticking

1. Place flour into a bowl.
2. Make a well in the center of the flour and add some ice water. Mix flour around until water is absorbed. Keep doing this until all the water is added and a sticky dough forms.
3. Turn dough onto heavily floured surface and begin kneading until it forms a nice smooth dough, adding more flour as needed for dusting the work surface and your hands.
4. Let the dough rest for at least 10 minutes.
5. Roll the dough out into sheets about 1/8 of an inch thick. I would roll it out even thinner if you don't want very thick noodles as they expand when you boil them. If you're having trouble rolling it out, let it rest longer.
6. Flour the sheet heavily and roll it loosely into a log.
7. Cut the rolls into strips of your desired thickness.
8. Flour cut rolls heavily and stack in piles.
9. Freeze noodles if you are not ready to eat them. If you are ready to use them, place in boiling water and cook for a few minutes until noodles are cooked through.
10. Serve with Taiwanese beef noodle soup.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup with Handrolled Noodles

Tombee loves noodles in soup and I'm always trying to come up with new combinations and recipes since I hate eating the same thing twice. This is a dish that I definitely would not mind eating twice however as the broth is extremely rich and flavourful and the beef brisket is meltingly tender. I made handrolled noodles (which I'll post tomorrow) because only the chewy texture of handrolled fresh noodles stand up to the meaty broth. This was good but not quite the same as the ones in restaurants. I'm not sure how they get the perfect balance of a beefy soup with the right notes of star anise, soy sauce, and chili peppers. I may have added a bit too much soy sauce since the taste was quite prevalent. Overall though, the spice notes in the broth added a subtle layer to the soup and will more than do in a pinch if you are really craving Taiwanese beef noodle soup.

Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup adapted from Lox, Stock, and Barrel

1.3 lbs Chinese beef brisket, cubed
2 scallions chopped into large pieces & extra for garnish
4 slices of ginger, smashed
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon oil
1/4 cup chinese cooking wine
8 star anise
10 cardamom pods, crushed
12 whole black peppercorns
3 fresh or dried chili peppers
2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns, toasted
10 cups beef broth
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon five spice powder
2 tablespoons hot bean sauce
2 tomatoes, cut into quarters
3 carrots, sliced into 2" chunks
3 hard boiled eggs
Handrolled fresh noodles
Pickled mustard greens (garnish - optional)

1. Rinse the beef and then blanch in boiling water for a couple minutes until the beef stops giving off grey residue. Strain, discard the water, and rinse the foam off the beef.
2. Smash the garlic cloves and ginger with the flat side of a large knife. Stir fry the scallions, ginger, and garlic cloves in oil for approximately 1 minute until they are fragrant and softened.
3. Add the wine and boil for 30 seconds. Add the star anise, cardamom, sichuan peppercorns, dried chili, and whole peppercorns. Be careful not to boil off all the liquid when you are adding the spices; if you need more time, then turn the burner or remove the pot from the heat.
4. Add the water or stock when the mixture is cool. Add the beef, 5 spice powder, hot bean paste, bean paste, tomatoes, hard boiled eggs*, soy sauce, sugar, and salt. Bring to a slow boil. If more foam rises to the top, then skim the soup as necessary.
5. Once the mixture has come to a boil, lower heat to a simmer and cook for 2 and a half hours until the beef is meltingly tender. Add carrots and cook until carrots are soft.
6. Taste and adjust more soy sauce if the mixture is not salty enough. At this point you can either serve it now or put it into the fridge overnight so that the fat hardens on top and you can scoop it out. I scooped out about a cup of solidified fat but the fat does add a smoother mouthfeel to the soup so it's your choice.
7. If you are serving right away, you can choose to scoop out the beef and carrots and pass soup through a sieve so that all the spices are removed and you are left with only the broth, beef and carrots. When ready to serve, place noodles in bowl. Ladle beef and soup over noodles. Sprinkle with green onions or chopped pickled mustard greens and serve hot.

*If you'd like a tea egg design, crack egg shells in various places and add to the soup with the shell on. When the soup is finished cooking, peel the eggs and they should have a beautiful marbled design and should be infused with the beefy taste of the soup.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Vietnamese Eggplant with Shrimp Paste

I had a sweet surprise today when Tombee brought a cupcake home for me. I was really surprised at such a sweet gesture but now I'm terried at what it means. What man brings home a nice surprise for his girlfriend unless he's committed some horrible affront? Although sometimes I guess a cupcake could just be a cupcake but I'll still keep my eyes open O.O! It was delicious nonetheless! Anyway, we have a meeting tomorrow at 7:00PM so I had to make dinner for today and tomorrow so I've been running around like a chicken without its head. At least tomorrow I won't have to worry that we won't have anything to eat. Tonight's dinner was simple but filled with flavours that complimented each other well; we had vietnamese eggplant with shrimp and gochujang marinated sea bass. I overcooked the fish because I forgot I had the broiler on but the marinade was still yummy and penetrated the entire fish. I got the receipe for the eggplant from Wandering Chopsticks. Her blog is filled with delicious Vietnamese recipes and they deliver absolutely mouthwatering food! I've made the bo pho (beef pho) and the bo kho (beef stew) and if you ever want to try making either one of those, use her recipes because the effort is completely worth it! This recipe is a unique and impressive way to serve eggplant and the sweetness of the shrimp was echoed by the sweetness in the sweet chili sauce. The creaminess of the eggplant provided a good textural contrast against the cooked shrimp paste on top. If you like eggplant, you will absolutely love this dish!

The sweet gesture that tasted as yummy as it was sweet!

Eggplant with shrimp paste ready to be steamed

Vietnamese Eggplant with Shrimp Paste from Wandering Chopsticks

2 Japanese eggplants
20-30 prawns, shelled
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon sesame oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon oil

Serving Sauce
2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
fresh ground pepper

1. Cut the eggplants on a diagonal into 1"-2" slices, depending on how thick you want it. I sliced mine about 2" thick.
2. Place garlic cloves and prawns into food processor and process. Do not overmix. The consistency should be lumpy and like a paste.
3. Mix sesame oil into mixture and add some salt and pepper.
4. Using a spoon, spread shrimp paste on each eggplant slice. Transfer slices to a heatproof plate.
5. Bring pot of water to boil with a steaming rack inside. Place heatproof plate onto steaming rack and steam for 12 minute at medium high heat.
6. Drain liquid that accumulated in plate.
7. Heat oil in pan and add eggplant slices. Fry each slice until bottom is golden brown. Remove to plate.
8. Mix together sauce ingredients and drizzle over eggplant slices. Serve hot and try not to share with anyone else.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Saucy Sesame Udon Noodles

I'm not sure what possessed me to make Chinese BBQ pork as well as making hand rolled noodles tonight, especially when we had a meeting at 7:30PM but I obviously thought I had 5 hands to get everything done. The BBQ pork was fine since all I had to do was pop it into the oven but the noodles took longer than I thought, especially when I was trying to cut them into even strands (I'll post about that in a couple of days). We left for the meeting at 7:30 and didn't get home until 10:00PM so we didn't even get to eat until 10:30PM! By that time I wasn't even hungry but I'm glad that I had a bowl of these noodles because they are really tasty! Grab a bib because this bad boy will leave sauce all over your face (don't even try to fight it!). I like to use Tombee's favourite t-shirt for this, especially when I'm not too pleased with him that day ;). Anyhow, I pretty much threw in stuff I had in my fridge but you can throw in anything you have on hand or want to get rid off. I used frozen udon noodles instead of the vacuum-sealed packages and they were out of this world! Chewy, slippery smooth, and tender, these noodles sucked up the sauce and were the star of the dish. Disclaimer: do not make this on a first, second or third date hoping to impress because sauce on your face and on your clothes is not hot.

Studded with goodies and slathered with delicious sauce

Saucy Sesame Udon Noodles

3 packages frozen udon
1 tablespoon oil
Chinese BBQ Pork (recipe follows)
1 cup sliced napa cabbage
1 cup sliced asparagus
1/2 cup frozen edamame beans
handful of shrimp

1/4 cup soy sauce
2-4 tablespoons sugar (depending on how sweet you want)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon mirin
2 tablespoons hot bean sauce (or garlic chili sauce)
3 green onions, thinly sliced

1. Mix sauce ingredients together and set aside.
2. Bring pot of water to boil and add udon noodles and cook until udon is warm. Drain.
3. Heat oil in pan and add napa cabbage and asparagus. Cook for 2 minutes until napa cabbage is wilted and asparagus turns bright green.
4. Add a tablespoon of water, cover pan for a minute and then add shrimp and stir fry until shrimp turns pink and asparagus is tender.
5. Add edamame beans, then add a tablespoon of the sauce mixture and stir until everything in pan is coated.
6. Transfer udon noodles to large bowl or pan, then add cooked bbq pork and vegetable mixture. Stir to incorporate everything together.
7. Add sauce mixture, half at a time until noodles are well coated. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired.

What did I tell you? Not a single morsel left in the bowl!

Chinese BBQ Pork from Rasa Malaysia

1lb pork butt (cut into 4 pieces)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons oil

Char Siu (BBQ Pork) Sauce:

3 tablespoons maltose
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoon Chinese rose wine
3 dashes white pepper powder
3 drops red coloring (optional)
1.5 teaspoon five-spice powder
1 tablespoon sesame oil

1. Add all ingredients for the sauce in a sauce pan, heat it up and stir-well until mixture is well blended and is slightly thickened and sticky. Let cool.
2. Pierce the pork butt in a few places with a sharp knife or the tines of a fork. Marinate the pork butt pieces with 2/3 of the sauce and the chopped garlic overnight. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons oil into the remaining sauce. Keep in the fridge.
3. When you're ready to cook the pork, preheat the oven to 375 degree F.
4. Place a cooling rack onto a baking sheet, then place the pork onto the rack. Bake the pork for 15 minutes, basting with the marinade still in the bowl that the pork was marinated in. Turn and cook for 10 more minutes, basting once more. Check for doneness.
5. Remove tray from oven and let pork sit for 10 minutes until juices have settled. Slice the char siu into slices and pour the reserved sauce over and mix together until all the pieces are coated in the sauce.
6. Add to sesame udon noodles or eat with rice.

Saucy meat on saucy doesn't getter better than this kids

Monday, January 25, 2010

Spicy Korean Chicken Stew

Every weekend I go grocery shopping at a small Chinese grocery store in Vancouver. Now I'm a person that has been mistaken for a 16 year old before, so imagine this kind of person pushing a shopping cart in a market where every other person uses a small basket. Fast forward to checkout time. Tombee and I are very conscious about being green so we always bring our own reuseable bags. He always bags because otherwise it would take me ten years since I absolutely must bag according to type of food (anal retentive much?). Our cart is absolutely stocked to the top every single time and the people waiting in line behind us fidget impatiently or else just openly glare at our inconsiderate lollygagging at the checkout. I can just see what they're thinking at this point - "My gosh those two must have a large family to buy so much groceries." We are a family of two. But I have a picture that will explain everything.

Tombee's lunch box (left one) and my lunch box (right one)

Now, in case you didn't quite understand the extent of our gluttony, here's another picture with a box of tissue for comparison:

Really, with lunches like that (and don't even get me started on dinner!), no wonder we rack up a grocery bill that would feed a family of 6 in a week. I personally think that being Asian, our genes have been encoded to hoard and devour store food in case of a famine in the future. I have been called a monster before...many times actually. I secretly think I have a tapeworm that forces me to eat and never be satiated but I've never gotten it checked out because what would happen if that weren't true?! That's my story and I'm sticking to it! The reason for that tangent was because I needed an explanation for why I used 3.5 pounds - yes you read that right - 3.5 pounds of chicken to feed 2 people. I am including the original recipe as I don't think anyone else would ever be able to eat 3.5 pounds of food (this of course doesn't include our vegetable dish and the ever crucial bowl of rice) but if you also have a tapeworm in your stomach, just adjust the recipe accordingly by tripling it (that didn't sound so bad until I said it out loud...).

The magic ingredient. Delicious, just buy it! (1.1lbs - go big or go home right?)

Look at that peppery spicy goodness

Spicy Korean Chicken Stew from Anjelikuh's blog
2 - 3 chicken thighs, cut
3 large potatoes, cubed
2 medium carrots, cubed
1 onion, sliced
1 tablespoon oil
2 cups of water (or enough to submerge the chicken and vegetables)
Spring onions or chilis for garnish

3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons hot pepper paste (gochujang)
1 tablespoon Korean red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons sugar
2-3 tablespoons soy sauce

1. Heat oil in pan and add onions, potatoes, and carrots.
2. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently, then add chicken.
3. Cook for another 2 minutes until chicken is slightly browned.
4. Cover with water until vegetables and chicken are almost covered.
5. Bring to a boil. Mix sauce ingredients together and taste. If you want it spicier, add more red pepper flakes, and more sugar if you'd like it sweeter.
6. Add sauce ingredients to pan and bring mixture to a boil again.
7. Turn heat down and simmer for 20-30 minutes until chicken is tender. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.
8. Plate in a pretty stone pot to impress guests.

Obviously I didn't cook this in the claypot. Do you really think 3lbs of chicken would fit in here?! Use it to impress guests...they'll never know. Deliciousness is more important than honesty

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies

I've made banana chocolate chip cookies before but when I saw a recipe for peanut butter banana cookies, I was intrigued. I love peanut butter and bananas, especially on toast or in a crepe with nutella. Definitely my mana! These cookies definitely did not disappoint. They were chewy, soft and redolent with the taste of bananas. I put in one and a half cups of peanut butter but the taste was still quite subtle. I think I would try putting in even more peanut butter next time to bring out the peanut butter flavour even more. The original recipe called for 3/4 cup of butter but I substituted 1/4 of applesauce for the butter in order to make it slightly healthier. I also found the cookies a tad too sweet so I would reduce the sugar by half a cup next time but that's my personal taste as I don't like things to be overly sweet. I added chopped pecans and mini chocolate chips to the batter to add more texture and make the cookies even better. I only added the pecans to half the batter as Tombee doesn't like pecans but the recipe below is for the full recipe. You could add almonds, peanuts, butterscotch chips or even white chocolate chips if you want. The sky is the limit when it comes to what tastes good! I got about 80 cookies out of the recipe but I did make mine only about the size of a tablespoon as these spread quite a bit. I baked mine for 15 minutes to retain a soft and chewy texture but if you want a firmer cookie, bake for about 17-18 minutes. The cookies do set after they have cooled, so don't be worried when you take them out of the oven and they seem like they aren't cooked yet.

Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies adapted from Food Geeks

1/2 cup margarine, softened
1/4 cup applesauce
1 1/4 cups peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 medium extra ripe bananas
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 cup mini chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the margarine, applesauce, peanut butter, sugar, and brown sugar until smooth.
3. Peel the bananas, break into smaller sections and drop into the mixture; mix well (some small banana chunks are okay).
4. Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
5. Sift the flour, baking soda, and baking powder together.
6. Add flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture and beat just until combined.
7. Add pecans and chocolate chips and mix together until pecans and chocolate chips are fully incorporated into the batter. Use a cookie scoop or drop by the spoonful onto parchment lined cookie sheets.
8. Bake for 15 minutes - they will not be golden brown when removed from oven. As they set they will turn slightly firm.
9. Allow to cool on cookie sheet for five minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.
10. Pour a glass of milk and eat cookies with relish while still warm, making sure to lick fingers of melted chocolate.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Satay Fried Sea Bass and Asparagus

Satay BBQ sauce is delicious! This sauce is usually used as a dip when having a Chinese hot pot dinner but it is absolutely fantastic when stir fried with vegetables or meat. I use it as my secret weapon ingredient for that extra zing when I want a dish that's easy to make but tastes like I laboured for hours over. The asparagus provided an almost neutral, light balance to the slight spiciness and saltiness of the bbq sauce. The bbq taste fully penetrated the fish chunks and were perfectly cooked - creamy and smooth.

The magic ingredient

Satay Fried Sea Bass and Asparagus

1lb asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 2" sections
1lb sea bass, fresh or frozen, cut into 2" chunks
1 tablespoon oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons bullshead bbq sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
1/8 cup water

1. Heat oil in pan and add garlic. Cook until fragrant.
2. Add asparagus and cook for a minute. Add water and cover for 2 minutes.
3. Add sea bass chunks and stir to mix with asparagus. Cook for 2 minutes.
4. Add bbq sauce and stir to coat. Cover for another minute, then add soy sauce and chili garlic sauce. Taste and add more soy sauce or bbq sauce as desired.
5. Plate and serve with fluffy rice.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Turkey Breast, Ham, and Avocado Sandwich with Cranberry Mayo

I have a confession to make. While I'm seemingly confident when barking out amounts for ingredients, I'm actually a total fake. I have no idea how much I actually put into dishes when I'm cooking because I never measure anything. I just add a bunch of ingredients together and when it looks about right, then I stop. Now, that's not to say I have no idea what I'm talking about, but merely that I approximate how much I use. Maybe it's because I cook a lot that I know approximately how much a tablespoon is when I'm dumping in spices or sauces but I do think I'm fairly accurate in the measurements I give. This is the result of having an Asian mom, as Asian moms are infamous for never measuring anything. You can imagine how difficult and frustrating this can be to someone trying to learn how to cook. Then again, my mom is pretty clueless when it comes to cooking so maybe she really was telling the truth when she would say she didn't know how much of each ingredient she used! Anyway, back to the soup. It was creamy, smooth, light yet hearty, and slightly sweet from the vegetables. It's also super healthy since it's just vegetables and broth. Can't beat creamy and healthy! I used beef broth because that was what I had in the fridge but you could use any kind of broth you want. The sandwich was yum, yum yum! I don't like sandwiches and that's why when people at work see me eat sandwiches, they're always shocked, but usually the reason I don't like sandwiches is because they're boring or too loaded with mayonnaise and butter. This sandwich was perfect. The cranberries brought a sweetness to the sandwich that cut through the creaminess of the mayonnaise and avocado and balanced the saltiness of the turkey breast and ham. You could even add tomatoes and cucumbers to make it even healthier.

Cooking the vegetables after roasting

Roasted Cauliflower Soup adapted from Anne's Food

1 cauliflower head, cut into florets
1 potato, cubed
1 carrot, cubed
1 onion, cut into quarters
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
500ml beef stock
400ml water
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place cauliflower, potato, carrot, onion and garlic cloves on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
3. Bake until vegetables are soft and golden brown, about 30-40 minutes.
4. Heat pan and add vegetables. Cook for 2 minutes. Add beef stock and water. Bring to boil and cook for 5 minutes.
5. Transfer vegetable mixture to a blender and blend soup in batches. Alternatively you can use a hand blender to puree soup. Soup should be thick, creamy and smooth.
6. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve with crusty bread or sandwich.

Cranberry Mayo

Turkey Breast, Ham, and Avocado Sandwich with Cranberry Mayo

4 slices multigrain bread
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
1 teaspoon chili powder (optional)
4 slices turkey breast
4 slices ham
1/2 avocado, sliced

1. Mix cranberries and mayonnaise together. (If you want it slightly spicy, add chili powder as well.)
2. Spread each slice of bread with mayonnaise and cranberry mixture.
3. Place 2 slices turkey breast and 2 slices ham on a piece of bread. Repeat with a second slice.
4. Place sliced avocado on both slices of bread with ham.
5. Cover bread slices with additional slices. Press down gently and slice sandwich in half.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Steamed Silk Tofu Topped with Shrimp and Asparagus

Tofu is something I really love (seems like I love everything doesn't it?). Some people say it's tasteless but I think tofu has a naturally nutty taste, plus it absorbs the taste of any sauce it's cooked in extremely well. There are so many different types of tofu available as well that you can create endless dishes using just tofu as an ingredient. I'm partial to soft tofu because I love the silky smooth, melt in your mouth texture. I used regular soft tofu but you could use egg tofu as well for a more eggy taste.

Sweet yummy, ooey-gooey sauce

Steamed Silk Tofu with Shrimp and Asparagus

1 tube soft tofu
10 shrimp, peeled
5 asparagus shoots, ends trimmed and cut into 1" pieces
1 tablespoon oil

1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce)
1 teaspoon mirin
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon cornstarch, dissolved in 1 tablespoon warm water

1. Mix sauce ingredients together, except for cornstarch slurry. Set aside.
2. Slice tofu into 1" thick slices and place on a heatproof plate. Place a steaming rack inside a wok or a large pot and fill water to 2" below steaming tray.
3. Heat water to boiling and place plate with tofu on steaming tray. Steam for about 5 minutes until tofu is hot. Drain water that is released from tofu.
4. Heat oil in pan and add shrimp and asparagus. Cook for 2 minutes until shrimp is almost cooked and asparagus is tender.
5. Add sauce ingredients and coat shrimp and asparagus well with sauce.
6. Cook for another minute until shrimp is fully cooked. Add cornstarch slurry and stir quickly as the sauce will thicken. If you want it more saucy, add another 1-2 tablespoons of water. If you'd like the sauce thicker, add more cornstarch slurry.
7. Top steamed tofu with shrimp and asparagus sauce and sprinkle green onions and serve hot.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies & A Rant

I live with a potato sack who, not only does not appreciate sweets and desserts, but hassles me to 9:40PM! Not only is said person messing with my creative genius but he doesn't even enjoy the goodies I make. I bet Einstein's wife never hassled him to go to bed when he was working on his theory of relativity! Luckily for me, there are plenty of other mean volunteers who are willing to play guinea pig for the things I make. And now back to your regularly scheduled program.

I got this recipe from TS and JS of Eating Club Vancouver. It's a Martha Stewart recipe (my hero!except for the whole prison thing...) and it was super easy to make. I used a milk chocolate ganache and a raspberry chocolate ganache to fill the thumbprints and I have to admit, I am an absolute genius (I didn't create the theory of relativity but isn't delicious food just as important?!)! The raspberry chocolate ganache was absolutely divine! Smooth, creamy, sweet but not overwhelmingly so, with the dreaminess of raspberry that just skims the palette. I don't even like chocolate and I was tempted to eat the whole bowl of raspberry ganache with a spoon. I had some left over after filling the thumbprints and I'll use it to make raspberry chocolate truffles. And I know who won't be getting any either ;)! The recipe says it makes 70. I got about 60 out of the batch using a tablespoon but you can make them smaller or larger as you please.

Chocolate Thumbprints from Martha Stewart Living magazine
Makes 70

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons coarse salt (like kosher)
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar, plus more for rolling
2 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350◦ Sift flour, cocoa powder, and salt into a small bowl. Cream butter and sugar with a mixer until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to medium, and add yolks, cream and vanilla. Scrape sides of bowl. Beat in flour mixture until just combined.
2. Roll balls using 2 teaspoons dough for each, and roll each in sugar. Place 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. With the handle of a wooden spoon, press gently in the center of each to create an indentation. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are set, about 10 minutes. (If indentations lose definition, press centers again.) Let cool slightly on baking sheets. Transfer cookies on wire racks, and let cool.
3. Spoon warm ganache into center of each cookie. Let stand until firm, about 15 minutes. Cookies will keep, covered, for up to 3 days.

Raspberry Chocolate Ganache

4oz milk chocolate, chopped into small pieces
175ml heavy cream
1-3 tablespoons raspberry jam

1. Heat cream in a small pot until boiling.
2. Add cream to chocolate and let sit for 1 minute.
3. Gently stir chocolate and cream mixture until well mixed. The consistency should be smooth and not too thick.
4. Add raspberry jam to taste. I used 3 tablespoons because I wanted a strong raspberry flavour, but you can add 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach the right flavour.
5. Spoon into thumbprint. If you find it a little bit too runny, you can refrigerate for 30 minutes until it thickens and then spoon our pipe ganache into cookies.

For the chocolate ganache, do the same as above but omit raspberry jam.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Green Peppers with Beef

This was a great quick and easy dinner. Simple but tasty! I'm not a fan of green peppers usually but the tartness of the green peppers brought out the sweetness in the marinated beef and the crispness of the peppers contrasted well with the tenderness of the beef.

Stir frying in the pan

Green Peppers with Beef

1lb beef, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red chili, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon baking soda
2 green peppers, cut into large chunks
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce (optional)

1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon shao xing wine
1 tablespoon mirin
1 tablespoon cornstarch

1. Sprinkle baking soda over sliced beef and leave for 10 minutes.
2. Wash beef thoroughly of baking soda. Dry beef with paper towels.
3. Mix marinade ingredients and pour over beef. Coat beef thoroughly with marinade.
4. Heat oil in pan and add minced garlic and sliced chili. Cook until fragrant.
5. Add beef to pan and cook for 2 minutes until beef is slightly browned.
6. Add peppers to pan and mix beef and peppers together. Stir fry until peppers are cooked but still crispy. Taste and if desired, add soy sauce.
7. Plate and serve.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Tom Yum Fried Green Beans

Tom Yum paste is magical. Just a little spoonful makes everything taste so much better and brings depth to a lot of dishes. I love to cook meat dishes with tom yum paste but lately I've been adding it to veggies and I can't seem to get enough. This dish is simple yet tastes good enough to eat on its own with rice.

Tom Yum Fried Green Beans

1lb green beans, ends trimmed
1 tablespoon oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1-2 tablespoon tom yum paste

1. Heat oil in pan and add garlic and cook until fragrant.
2. Add green beans and stir fry for 2 minutes.
3. Add 1/4 water and cover for a few minutes.
4. Check to see if water has dried up. If it has and beans are not cooked, add more water.
5. When beans are tender, add soy sauce and tom yum paste and mix until beans are coated in the paste. Taste and adjust tom yum paste and soy sauce as desired.
6. Serve with rice.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Japanese Kare

I love all curries, and Japanese kare is no exception. I used the ready made paste this time but I found a recipe for home made spice paste so I might try that next time. I didn't have any onions but I've added it to the ingredient list anyway.

This is the instant curry paste I used

Japanese Kare

1lb chicken pieces
1 tablespoon oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, cubed
2 potatoes, cubed
1 sweet potato, cubed
7 mushrooms, halved
Glico curry paste, medium hot

1. Heat oil in pan and add onions, carrots, potatoes and sweet potato. Stir and cook for 2 minutes until vegetables slightly soften and brown.
2. Add chicken pieces and mix vegetables and chicken together in pan.
3. Add enough water to half cover the chicken and vegetables in pan. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
4. Add mushrooms and cook another 5-10 minutes until chicken is cooked and vegetables are tender.
5. Add as much or as little of the curry paste as desired and keep tasting after each addition. Turn of heat and cover and let sit for 10 minutes to allow curry to thicken and flavours to develop.
6. Serve with rice.