Thursday, June 28, 2007
Tonight was "Mexican" night, which usually happens when I have 15 minutes to get dinner on the table :-) Sometimes it's rotisserie chicken and several grilled veggies wrapped in tortillas with salsa, sour cream and cheese. But tonight I decided to grill a nice, big, juicy sirloin steak and we had beef "fajitas" instead.
Rub beef with salt, pepper, smoked paprika, cumin, and Salsa Lizano. Let stand for about 10-15 minutes. Grill, pan fry or "George Foreman" it (which is what I did) to desired doneness. Cool a bit then slice across the grain into strips.
Sauteed mushrooms and onions
Grilled red peppers
Instructions: Assemble as you please and enjoy. I guess you could call this our version of "30 minute meals" no?
Friday, June 22, 2007
But this version of mine has been a hit many times too and so tomorrow, for a picnic of 40 people, this will be my contribution.
A word of warning: this recipe will feed an army.
900 grams macaroni, cooked according to package directions
large can (540 ml) of crushed pineapple, drained well
1 bottle (375 ml) sweet pickle relish, drained well
1 bottle pimiento (cooked red peppers bottled in water), chopped/minced
1 large jar (950 ml) Hellman's low fat mayo (or full fat if you so desire)
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt (use less if using regular table salt)
1 tsp. ground pepper
1 whole chicken
1. Boil chicken in salted water, cool, shred (do not include the skin and, obviously, the bones), then set aside.
2. Mix together the mayo, pineapple, pickles, pimiento, salt, sugar and pepper.
3. Let the dressing stand for about half an hour to let the seasoning meld together.
4. Mix together the macaroni, dressing and chicken.
5. Serve well chilled. Tastes better the next day.
A few notes. When you boil the chicken, you can add a quartered onion and a couple of stalks of celery to the boiling water. Don't forget to salt. Salting the cooking water is also very important when cooking the macaroni so you don't end up with tasteless pasta. Don't overcook the macaroni and don't rinse after cooking. There's nothing worse than mushy or watery pasta in a salad. Drain everything well (pasta, pineapple, relish, pimiento) before mixing together. This will prevent your dressing for becoming too runny. And lastly, taste the dressing before mixing in the chicken and macaroni. It's definitely easier to adjust the seasoning before you put in the "solids" and the seasoning will mix in more evenly if you do it before putting the salad all together.
A few other notes not related to the recipe above. When I prep onions, carrots, and celery for other dishes, I always put the small bits and scraps in a ziplock bag which I then stash in the freezer. I'll also freeze the celery leaves and the outer layer of the onion. When I make stock, I then have my aromatics always ready to throw into my stock pot. I also freeze chicken bones from grocery rotisserie chicken and home-cooked roast chicken. It's perfect for making stock and is definitely better than the store bought stock/broth.
Ok, I think that's all for now. Gotta pack for that picnic...
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
I didn't really use a recipe but just improvised as a I went along. I have a bunch of kaffir lime leaves in the freezer. The leaves freeze extremely well, which works out because you only really need a few leaves at a time. I also freeze ginger slices (usually 5-6 slices in a tiny ziplock bag) so that I always have some on hand. Next time, I'm going to try freezing lemongrass and see whether the flavor holds up.
Monday, June 18, 2007
Sunday, June 17, 2007
450 grams penne pasta, cooked and drained
1. Cook bacon until crisp. Set aside. Drain most of bacon fat from pan, reserving about 1 tbsp.
2. Season chicken breasts with steak seasoning and pan fry in same pan. This takes about 5 minutes per side. I cook the chicken until the outside is very brown. I find this add so much to the final flavor of the dish.
3. Remove chicken to a cutting board and slice into 1/4 inch pieces. Set aside
4. In the same pan, add olive oil, garlic and chili flakes. Saute until garlic is soft.
6. Add in chopped herbs, sliced chicken plus all the juices, and bacon bits. Season with salt and pepper.
7. Add pasta, baby spinach and cheese. Toss until everything comes together. The heat of the pasta will wilt the spinach.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Monday, June 11, 2007
Saturday, June 9, 2007
Thursday, June 7, 2007
Don't you just love the way the redness of the tomatoes contrasts with the dark, inky strands of pasta? A sprinkling of green from the parsley and basil provides just the right accent. So simple, yet so stunning.
Squid Ink Pasta with Shrimp and Tomatoes
1 package of squid ink pasta, cooked as directed
1/2 c olive oil, preferably extra virgin
2 heaping tsp. chopped garlic
3-4 slices of bacon or pancetta, chopped
1/2 tsp. chili flakes
400 g peeled shrimp
16-20 pcs. grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
handful of parsley or basil or a combination of both, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
In a large pan, heat olive oil and saute pancetta (or bacon) until almost brown. Add in garlic and chili flakes. Saute until garlic is very slightly brown. Put in shrimp and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until shrimp is opaque and tomatoes are slightly wilted but not mushy. Turn off flame. Add chopped parsley and/or basil.
Put drained pasta into pan. Toss with the "sauce" until well-blended.
Ooohh, I think I will submit this for Presto Pasta Nights...
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
Perfect with a cup of coffee or even as a small mid-afternoon snack on its own, this biscotti was inspired by a Judy Rogers recipe from Zuni cafe.
1 1/4 c. whole almonds
1/2 c. cold butter
1 c. sugar
2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. cornmeal
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. almond extract
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Toast almonds x 10-12 minutes then cool. Meanwhile, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Stir until dough comes together. Mix in almonds until evenly distributed. On a cookie sheet lined with parchment, form dough into 2 "logs" about 4 inches wide and 1 inch thick. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool.
When the biscotti logs are cool enough to handle, slice diagonally into 1/2 inch thich slices. Return to cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes. Turn slices over and bake another 6-8 minutes.
Many biscotti recipes will say that you must use a serrated knife to slice the cookie. I actually find that with this recipe and the whole nuts (which I LOVE), it's easier to use a very sharp chef's knife. I use a firm, almost chopping motion straight down, rather than a sawing, back and forth motion. I've never had a problem with crumbling using this method.
I found pigs ears at the chinese grocery 2 weeks ago, which became my inspiration to finally attempt sisig for the first time. So I pressure cooked the ears with whole peppercorns, garlic, onion, salt, a slice of ginger and a couple of bay leaves and chopped them up once they were soft.
Then, I pureed liver in a food processor and proceeded to saute that with onion and chili flakes (subbing for sili). Once the liver was no longer pink, I put in the chopped ears along with some beef broth, knorr, and lots of freshly ground black pepper. I simmered the entire thing until almost dry.
I then heated my cast iron skillet, poured in the entire mixture, topped it with crumbled chicharon and more chopped onion. I served it with more knorr, lemon (how I wish we had calamansi) and tabasco. Yum!!!
After such a yummy meal, I thought...ok, let's bake something. And because cupcakes have been en vogue recently, I decided to try that. I used a vanilla cupcake recipe with vanilla buttercream icing, which I tinted pink. And here's a picture of the final product...
It was ok. Not mind-blowing. But good. I made a second batch using mini cupcake containers and used a recipe for sour cream pound cake topped with 7-minute frosting, which I again tinted pink. It was MUCH better. Son #2's comment: It's really good, mom. But does it always have to be pink?
My third experiment was Pad Thai. I'd had success with yellow curry and green curry before, so I thought, why not? I followed Beth Romualdez's recipe from her cookbook. The boys weren't impressed. :-P
Looked ok to me, and I thought is was passable. But Son #1 and Son #2 didn't. In fact, after "dinner " Son #1 had a ham sandwich on rye and Son #2 had pate on toast. I guess Pad Thai won't be making a come back in our household menu.
Sour Cream Pound Cake
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. lemon extract or lemon zest
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs. Mix in baking soda with flour. Add flour mixture and sour cream alternately, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Add the extracts.
At this point you could bake the cake in a 9x5 inch cake pan or in cupcake containers. You could also double the recipe and bake in a tube/bundt pan. For the cake, bake at 350 degrees x 40-45 minutes or 1 hour if doubling the recipe. For cupcakes, bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until cake is very slightly golden on top and a cake tester comes out clean.
This cake freezes extremely well!
I woke up one morning with a hankering for canonigo. The one I used to have in Sugarhouse. Canonigo with mango balls. Mmmm. So I figured, it can't be that hard. Eggs whites and sugar for the meringue plus egg yolks and milk for the custard...and voila!
Dissolve 1 cup of sugar in 1/2 cup of water. Boil until golden in color. Pour into baking container to coat all sides. I used individual custard cups, but a tube or bundt pan would work too.
Beat 8 egg whites with 1/2 cup sugar and 1tsp. baking powder until stiff. Transfer meringue into baking container and bake in a bain marie at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.
Over a double boiler, combine 8 egg yolks, 1 and 1/2 cups of milk, 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tsp. vanilla. Mix constantly until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Unmold meringue onto serving dish. Be careful because the caramel may be hot. Pour custard beside or on top of meringue. You may serve mango slices or fresh berries on the side.
My parents-in-law fell in love and got married in a small chapel in Louvain, Belgium. They often spoke of waffles that were sold in street stands and were eaten as midday snacks. Starbucks in Manila sells these sweet treats as Belgian Pegi Waffles and I loved having them with my coffee back home.
I searched Toronto high and low but alas could not find these slightly crunchy, slightly chewy, slightly sweet, and oh so delicious little morsels of waffle heaven. So, I decided to make my own...