March 28, 2010

Shepherd's Pie

Shephard's Pie is one of John's favorite dish to prepare whenever he feel like cooking. It is an English dish with meat, vegetables, and topped with mashed potatoes. I called this a casserole of leftover meat, dressed the next day with vegetables and mashed potatoes. You can used leftovers from your next Thanksgiving dinner, i.e., turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes. For added flavor, I've added some of my favorite spices, cumin, and turmeric.
Ingredients: (serves 4-6)
1¼ lbs ground lean beef
4 large potatoes, peeled and quartered
4 Tbsp. butter, softened (for potatoes)
1 onion, chopped finely
½ cup carrots, chopped
½ cup peas (optional)
½ cup corn
½ cup celery, chopped
1 cup milk (or beef stock)
1 cup shredded mozarella cheese (optional)
½ cup tomato sauce
1 cup tomatoes, sliced
1 Tbsp. worchesthershire sauce or A-1 sauce
1 tsp. cumin powder
1 tsp. turmeric powder
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. rosemary
olive oil for cooking
salt and pepper
9" x 13" baking dish
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Cook potatoes in salted water until soft (about 20-30 minutes).
2. Sauté onions in some oil until softened. Add carrots and celery and fry for about 10 minutes.
3. Add beef and cook until meat is slightly browned, but not burnt. Add spices, tomato paste, tomatoes, worchesthershire sauce and simmer on low heat for about 8-10 minutes. Lastly stir in the peas  and/or corn and cook for another 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, add more milk if you like it to be more moist. Set aside.
4. Drained potatoes and mashed finely with butter, season to taste with pepper and some salt.
5. Spread beef mixture in baking dish, then layer the mashed potatoes on top followed by shredded cheese, if used.
6. Bake in oven until cheese is bubbling and/or potatoes are golden brown (about 30 minutes).
Printable Recipe

Crème Anglaise with Seasonal Fruits

Crème Anglaise is a light custard sauce made with eggs, milk and sugar. We had this sauce with soufflé and it just fabulous! It is so dreamy and light that it is great with any seasonal fruits or plain cakes. This recipe is inspired by Julia Child's, The Way to Cook. I cut the sugar down to about ½ cup instead of 2/3 cups, and I used Grand Marnier liqueur instead. As for the eggs, they are from our hen, Ruby.
6 fresh egg yolks
2/3 cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla paste or vanilla extract
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. liqueur (rum, cognac, optional)
1½ cups hot milk
1. Whisk the egg yolks in a saucepan, adding sugar by the spoonsful stimultaneously. Continue beating the egg and sugar mixture until it is pale yellow and thick. Gently stir in the hot milk (not boiling) into the mixture to mix. Note: Do not beat the mixture to create foam!
2. Set the saucpan over moderately low heat, stirring slowly with a spoon, from the bottom and the sides of the saucepan. The sauce should come near to, but not the simmer. Be careful not to overheat the sauce as it will scramble the yolks, just heat it enough so that it thickens. Note: It is almost ready when you see surface bubbles starts to subside, and a whiff of steam rising. It is done when it coats the spoon with a light creamy layer thick enough to hold when you run your finger across it.
3. Beat in the vanilla, butter, and liqueur if using. Serve it warm or cold with seasonal fruits, cakes, or soufflé.

March 24, 2010

Soufflé, A Cooking Mess-ups!

Whenever I think of Soufflé, it reminds me of Dominque and Claude, a family-owned French restaurant that we would dine on special occasion. They made the best Grand Marnier Soufflé--unfortunately the owners had retired and sold their business four years ago. One weekend John and I made this dessert--which turned out to be a disaster! We were a little zealous and had overworked both the egg whites and overcooked the anglaise sauce. In addition to that, the rim of the dish was covered with a 5-inch high foil wrap, as I had anticipated that the soufflé would puff up in all its glory. Now how do you expect the heat to penetrate through this "Great Wall of China?" The end results: only half heartedly puffed up soufflé; a curdled crème anglaise that poured out in lumpy fashion! If there is a Guinness Book of Records for cooking disasters--we'd top the charts with the highest mark! We can't change what had happened--might as well laugh about it. :) Lucky for us our daughter made us a perfect soufflé with the superb crème anglaise last weekend. Here's some of the pictures of my mishaps--If you have a similar story, I love to hear from you.

Escoffier said "kings wait for soufflés; soufflés do not wait for kings."

March 21, 2010

Beef Stew with Red Wine

I have the house all to myself today, so I've decided to stay home, cook and perhaps catch up with my knitting. Today's recipe is inspired by Julia Child's famous beef bourguignon. I served this with kale and boiled potatoes as a side dish.
1¾ lbs. lean stew beef, cut into small cubes
4 cups cabernet sauvignon
beef stock (optional)
½ cup carrots, cut in small chunks
½ cup celery, sliced (optional)
2 cans whole tomatoes
1 small onion
1 cup mushrooms
10-20 small whole white onions, peeled
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs thyme
3 Tbsp. flour
Butter for cooking
salt to taste
1. Wash beef and dry well with a clean towel. Heat 1 Tbsp. of butter in heavy skillet on high and browned the meat on both sides. Transfer browned meat to a deep pot or casserole.
2. In same skillet, add some butter and fry onions till soft, fry carrots and celery (if used) till it absorb most of the oil. Add a little wine to it to deglaze the pan. Pour this to the pot with the meat. Add bay leaf, thyme, garlic, mushroom, tomatoes and stir in to mix. Add wine and enough liquid or stock to cover the meat and vegetables completely. Bring this to a boil, cover and simmer till meat is tender, about 2 hours.
3. In another skillet, add 1 Tbsp. of butter and heat on high, stir in flour and using a spatula mix the flour with the butter will it resembles a thick brown paste. Add some warm water and continue stirring till it is smooth without lumps. Set aside.
4. Clean the skillet, add 1 Tbsp. butter and heat on high, add white onions and brown on both sides, add a little stock and simmer for about 15 minutes. Set aside.
5. Remove the bay leaf and thyme from stew, reheat on medium heat. Stir in the flour paste (roux) and the caramelized white onions. Season to taste if needed. Serve with boiled potatoes or rice.
Printable Recipe

Kale and Boiled Potatoes

This is a nice side dish to serve with any meat dish. I bought some dinosaur and russian kale from the farmer's market in Davis. The dinosaur kale or lacinato is great saute with olive oil and season with sea salt and lemon juice.
1 bunch dinosaur kale (lacinato)
1 bunch russian kale
3 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup chicken or vegetarian stock
8-10 new potatoes
1 lemon
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1. Washed and cut vegetables. In a skillet heat 1 Tbsp. oil on high, toss in vegetables and garlic till it is cooked. Add some stock, lemon juice and season to taste.
2. Bring a pot of water to boil. Add in a pinch of salt to water, then potatoes. Simmer and cook for about 15 minutes or test potatoes with skewer for doneness.
3. Arrange kale and potatoes on a dish and serve warm.
Printable Recipe

March 20, 2010

Pork and Vegetable Soup

Whenever I feel like having a simple soup, this often comes to mind. It reminds me of my mother's famous sour salted mustard greens soup. The sourness of this soup comes from Asam Gelugur (garcinia atnoviridis) or can be easily be substitute with tamarind paste or pickled sour plums.
¼ lb lean pork, cut in bite-sized
1-2 bunches mustard greens or "sher li hom"
3 pieces of Asam Gelugur
1 Tbsp. tamarind paste (if using)eg
2 pieces star anise
1 can whole tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth
1 tsp. brown rice vinegar
1. Washed greens and cut in 3" lengths. In a pot bring broth, pork, star anise, and tamarind peel to a boil. Remove scum on top of soup. Then add tomatoes and greens.
2. Cover and simmer  for about 20 minutes till greens are cooked and soft. Season to taste with vinegar and salt. Remove tamarind peel and serve. Serve with rice.
Printable Recipe

March 17, 2010

Stir Fried Shredded Potato

I've had this dish a couple of times and it was really good! It's a simple dish of shredded potatoes, a popular dish originated in the northern parts of China. Do you know that China is one of top ten exporters of potatoes beside Russia, India, and the United States? In addition to this, potatoes are rich in carbohydrates, protein, calcium, potassium and vitamin C. What a wonderful and creative way to cook a spud---and perhaps a song to its honor!
1 large white potato, Yukon
1 small jalapeno pepper, sliced thinly
1 small red pepper, sliced thinly
2 tsp. light soy sauce
1 tsp. white vinegar
2-3 Tbsp. vegetable stock or chicken stock
2 sprigs spring onions, chopped
1 Tbsp. oil
salt and pepper to taste
1. Wash and peel the potato.  Slice it across in thin slices, and then juliened in uniform strips, like French Fry, but thinner. Rinse in water several times to remove starch, gently squeezing out the water. Drain and set aside.
2. Heat oil in a non-stick pan. Add potatoes and vinegar and fry for about 10 minutes, then add the rest of the ingredients. Stir fry for another 5 minutes, season to taste. The potatoes should be abit on the crunchy side but not raw.
Note: Shredding the potato creates more juice and makes it soggy to cook, thus sticking to the pan.
Printable Recipe

March 15, 2010

Noodles in Spicy Sour Soup/Assam Laksa

This dish is a popular hawker food in Penang (northern state in Malaysia). Assam Laksa is aromatic sweet and spicy noodle soup with fish as the main ingredient. The other important ingredient is polygonum (daun kesom). It is served with cucumber, pineapple, mint, and shrimp paste on the side. It's delicious and it's addictive!
2 cans of mackerel or salmon in salt water, flaked into pieces
5 cups water or fish stock
A bunch of polygonum, washed
3 slices of dried assam gelugar
½ cup tamarind pulp or paste (soak tamarind pulp with water to get the juice)
3-4 pieces assam gelugar (dried tamarind peel)
2 tsp. sugar
1 package dried rice noodles (or 1 lb. fresh "lai fun")
3 lemon grass, crushed
1 large onion
3 shallots
1 small piece ginger
1 inch galangar, cut in chunks
1 inch turmeric (or 2 tsp. turmeric powder)
5 dried chillies, soaked in water and remove seeds
1 tsp. shrimp paste (optional)
1 cup mint leaves, washed and stems removed
1 cucumber, peeled and julienned
1 red onion, sliced
½ cup ripe pineapple, julienned
1. Blend spices together into a fine paste. In a large pot bring water to a boil, then in ground spices, polygonum and assam gelugar. Bring to a fast boil for about 10 minutes, then add in the fish. Simmer on low heat uncovered for about 20-30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and sugar. Adjust seasoning accordingly to your taste.
2. If using dried noodles, follow cooking instruction on the package. Rinse the fresh noodles in running water. Drain and divide noodles in individual soup bowls.
3. Remove polygonum leaves from the soup. Fill enough soup into the bowls and garnish with the fresh chopped vegetables and fruits. Serve immediately.
Note: If using fresh fish, boil fish in water till cooked. Remove fish and flake flesh from fish, taking care to remove small bones. Strain fish broth to another pot and continue from step 2 above.
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March 14, 2010

Lacy Pancake with Beef Rendang/Roti Jala

Roti Jala is a thin pancake or crepe with a lovely lacy pattern. It is usually served as an accompaniment for curries and any spicy dishes with lots of gravy. You can serve this with beef rendang, pumpkin curry with tofu, or vegetables curry. I like mine with beef rendang, a dish that is richly flavor with spices and coconut milk.
Roti Jala is a popular dish during the Muslim fasting months and on special occasions. The roti jala funnel is a metal cup with four spouts with tiny openings at the base for the batter to drip down through the hole. You can make a batch of these pancakes a day ahead and keep it in the refrigerator and reheat when needed. Ingredients: 
200 gm flour
1 egg
1 cup milk
½ tsp. turmeric powder (or yellow coloring)
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. oil
1 Tbsp. melted butter
1. Sift flour into a large bowl. Beat egg, milk, turmeric powder, salt together to mix. Stir until the batter is smooth and free from lumps. Pour mixture through a sieve onto another bowl. Stir in oil and set aside. (Add more water if mixture is too thick, the batter should be semi-thin and runny)
2. Heat a non-stick pan with some butter. Pour a ladleful of batter into the Roti Jala funnel and using your hand make quick circular movements over the pan to form a circular lacy pattern. Cook pancake over medium heat on both sides till golden brown.
3.Remove and fold pancakes into a triangular shape. Repeat this method until all the batter is finished. Keep pancakes warm.
Printable Recipe

Crêpe with Blueberries and Banana Sauce

Here's something nice for a weekend breakfast. Crêpes is also a great accompaniment with seasonal fresh fruits. Aha! I could whip up a sauce with bananas and blueberries to serve with it.Yummy!
Ingredients: (makes about 10)
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
1 cup flour
1 oz. sugar (optional)
1 oz. melted unsalted butter
½ cup blueberries
2 bananas, sliced
1 tsp. chopped fresh mint
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
4 Tbsp. water
1 tsp. cornstarch, mixed with a little water
1. In a large bowl mix eggs, milk, butter, and flour together. Blend to a smooth consistency and without lumps. Cover and set aside in the refrigerator for at least an hour. This will allow the flour to absorb the liquid and air bubbles to collapse, which will give you a nice and smooth crêpe. If the mixture is too thick, add a little more milk if neccessary.
2. In a small saucepan, melt sugar and water over medium heat. Add in fruits and mint and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the cornstarch to slightly thicken the sauce. Add more honey if needed.
3. Heat a crepe pan or a non-stick shallow pan with a little butter. Using a small soup ladle, pour batter on to pan to form a thin layer. Cook over medium heat till one side is slightly crisp and turn over to cook the other side. Remove and fold into a triangular shape and keep warm. Repeat the method until all the batter is finished.
4. Serve with blueberries and bananas sauce on top.
Printable Recipe

March 13, 2010

Chicken Rice/Nasi Ayam

Nasi Ayam is the Malaysian version of the famous "Hainanese Chicken Rice." The chicken for the Malay-style is roasted while the Chinese version is simmered in a chicken stock. Both are equally delicious and makes a hearty meal.
Ingredients for Chicken:
1 small fresh organic free-range chicken
3 shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small piece ginger, minced
1 Tbsp. dark soy sauce
2 tsp. light soy sauce
1 Tbsp. tomato paste or sauce
1 tsp. chilli powder or chilli sauce
1 tsp. salt
1 cucumber for garnishing
Ingredients for Rice:
2 cups rice, washed and drained
1 small piece ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. butter
2 pandan leaves
2 Tbsp. fried shallots
2-3 cups water or chicken broth
pinch of salt
Ingredients for Chilli Sauce:
6 fresh red chillies
5 cloves garlic
1 piece ginger
¼ cup lime juice
1 tsp. sesame oil
salt and sugar to taste
1. Mix the ingredients for chicken in a bowl. Clean chicken and pat dry, prick with a fork to allow seasonings to penetrated. Marinate chicken with seasonings for 1/2 day or leave overnight in refrigerator.
2. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Roast chicken for about an hour, remove and cut into serving pieces when cool.
3. Wash and drain rice. Heat some butter in a pan and fry ginger and garlic till fragrant, add in the rice and fry until rice are well coated with the fried ingredients. Remove from heat and pour this mixture into a reice cooker along with knotted pandan leaves. Add sufficient water or chicken broth to cook rice. Tips: I do the hand test on cooking rice by placing the palm of my hand on top of the rice and if water should come up high enough to cover the top of my hand.
4. Blend or pound finely all the ingredients for the chilli sauce. Season to taste with sugar and salt.
5. Serve rice with chicken, sliced cucumbers, chilli sauce and dark soy sauce. Garnish rice with some fried shallots.
Tips: Soak peeled shallots with a pinch of salt in water for about 5 minutes. Slice thinly and deep fry in hot oil till crisp and brown. Drain on paper towels.
Printable Recipe

Mango Chutney

This pickle is a full of flavor and is great with almost any dish. I love it with plain rice or toast. The ones that you normally buy at the Indian stores are a bit salty for my taste. I prefer to make them whenever mangoes are in season. They keep well in refrigerator and also wonderful to give as gifts.
2 green unripe mangoes, (peeled, and diced in small cubes)
4 Tbsp. Agave Nectar (or brown sugar)
½ tsp. salt
½ cup brown rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. raisins
Spices A:
3 shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 red chilles
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. fennel
1 tsp. coriander
½ tsp. turmeric powder
1 Tbsp. oil
Spices B:
2 cloves
1 small piece cinnamon stick
2 star anise
2 cardamon pods, lightly crushed
1. Blend Spices A till fine. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil and fry spices till fragrant on medium heat. Add Spices B and simmer for about 15 minutes. Add vinegar, sugar, mangoes, and raisin. Cover and simmer on low for about 1/2 hour until the mangoes are soft. Season to taste. When cool, keep in refrigerator for about 2 weeks.
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Vegetables Curry/Sayur Lemak

Sayur Lemak is Malay for vegetables cooked in rich spicy coconut milk. The word, "Sayur" is vegetables and "Lemak" is rich flavor in Malay. This is a simple dish and is also one of my favorite--I could eat this everyday!
1 small cabbage, sliced in thick pieces
1 firm beancurd, or deep fried tofu (from Asian supermarkets)
1 small eggplant, sliced in small chunks
1 can coconut cream, diluted with 3/4 cups of water
3 ripe tomatoes, chopped in chunks
2 Tbsp. cooking oil
3-5 red chillies (if you like it spicy)
2 candlenuts
3 shallots
1 small piece turmeric, peeled and sliced
1 Tbsp. dried prawns, washed and soaked in some warm water (optional)
1. Blend spices to a smooth paste. Heat oil in deep pot and fry spices till fragrant until water evaporates and oil comes through. Add tomatoes and fry for another 5 minutes.
2. Add a little coconut milk to the spice mixture and stir to mix well, then gradually add the rest of the coconut milk. Bring to a oil.
3. Add the egg plants, cabbage, beancurd, and simmer till vegetables are just cooked.
4. Serve warm with rice.
Printable Recipe

March 12, 2010

Coconut Rice with Spicy Anchovies/Nasi Lemak

Nasi Lemak is a traditional dish in Malaysia. It is rice cooked in coconut milk and served with spicy anchovies, hard boiled egg, and cucumber on a banana leaf. I remembered saving my weekly lunch money to buy this from a hawker in front of my school. He would wrap the rice neatly in a banana leaf. Thinking about it bring back sweet memories. Tonight, I shall have this with some of my rendang beef. Yummy!
1¾ cups jasmine rice, washed and drained well
1 cup coconut milk, diluted with 1 1/2 cups water
2 pieces pandan leaves (frozen from Asian supermarket)
2 cups dried anchovies (guts and heads removed, washed and drained)
1 red onion, sliced
1 Tbsp. chilli paste (per taste)
1 Tbsp. tamarind paste
4 Tbsp. coconut milk
salt and sugar to taste
cucumber for garnishing
boiled egg for garnishing
1 Tbsp. oil
1. Steam rice with pandan leaves, a pinch of salt, and enough coconut milk to cover the rice. While rice is cooking, heat a pan with oil and fry onions till fragrant.
2. Add chilli paste and fry unitl oil turns red in color, add half of the anchovies and fry until the anchovies is soft. Add tamarind paste, coconut milk and season to taste with sugar. The taste should be spicy with a hint of sweet and sour to it.
3. Heat a small pan with some oil and fry the rest of the anchovies till crispy and brown, drain with paper towel.
3. Assemble rice on plate or banana leaf, with anchovies, hard boiled egg, and cucumber.

Chicken Curry Puffs

This is a year-round snacks for almost any occasion! You can make this with any kind of meat, I like mine with chicken.
Ingredients for fillings:
2 cups cooked chicken, finely diced
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. curry powder (for meat)
1 tsp. chilli paste
1 tsp. turmeric powder
2 small potatoes, cooked and finely diced
½ cup carrots, cooked and finely diced (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. oil
Ingredients for pastry:
1 lb. all-purpose flour (500 gms.)
5 ozs. butter or shortening
¾ cups ice cold water
½ tsp. salt
1. In a bowl, mix the curry powder, chilli paste, and turmeric to a smooth paste. Heat oil and fry the onions till soft and golden brown. Add the curry paste and fry till fragrant. Finally, add the cooked chicken, potatoes and fry for another 5 minutes. Season to taste, mix well and set aside to cool.
2. In a larger bowl, add butter and using a pastry cutter or knife cut the fat into small lumps. Sift in the flour and continue to cut the fat into the flour till it resembles like fine breadcrumbs. Using only your fingertips, rub the fat into the flour and lifting the mixture up and let it fall down to the bowl to incorporate air. Doing this will make the pastry light. Add half the water and knead to form a dough (add more if necessary). Cover the dough and let it rest for about 1/2 an hour.
3. Dust a large cutting board with flour, cut the dough and roll out into about 3" diameter. Take about a spoonful of fillings and place in the center. Wet the edges with some water and fold over to seal and crimp and flute edges.
4. Heat an oven to 350°F and bake puffs for about 30 minutes till golden brown. You can also deep fry them if you like.
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March 6, 2010

Pumpkin Curry with Beancurd/Tofu

A coworker in my office told me about a pumpkin curry that he had at a nearby Thai restaurant. This reminds me that I don't have any posting for a vegetarian dish. Hence this recipe.
1½ cups Kabocha pumpkin, pre-cooked and cut into bite-sized chunks
1 can coconut cream, mixed with 3/4 cups vegetable stock
1 Tbsp. red or yellow curry paste (Mae Ploy brand, from Asian grocery stores)
1 tsp. cumin powder
1 tsp. tumeric powder
1 tsp. galangal powder
1 tsp. honey or sugar (optional)
½ cup carrots, cubed
¼ cup fresh peas or edamane (optional)
¼ cup firm tofu, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 kaffir leaves
1 small fresh chilli for garnishing
2  Tbsp. oil
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375° F and roast pumpkin till slightly golden for about 20 minutes. Remove skin when cool and cut in cubes. The flesh will be slightly crunchy. Set aside.
2. Mix the curry paste and spices with a little together in a bowl. Heat oil in a skillet, fry spices with the kaffir leaves till fragrant. Add half of the coconut milk and mix it well with the curry spices, then the carrots and peas if used.
3. Simmer on low heat to cook the carrots, then add pumpkin, tofu and the rest of the coconut milk and stock. If you like more sauce in your curry, add a little more stock or water as the pumpkin tends to thicken the curry if you let is simmer too long. I like a little bite in the pumpkin. Serve hot with rice or naan bread.
Printable Recipe

Steamed Pork with Salted Mustard

Sometimes I get this cooking bug and want to rush home to prepare a particular dish that inspires me at that moment. Today is one of those days! The dish that I've been craving for awhile is a dish from my childhood. It is a simple dish of minced belly pork with salted mustard and steamed to perfection. My mother would steamed a big batch of these to last for a week. She would hand minced it with a large cleaver while I washed and sliced the salted mustard. Salted mustard or "Mui Choy" in Cantonese is basically mustard greens picked with salt. There are two types of it, a sweet and other salty. The sweet type is light brown in color while the latter is darker in color. You can purchased them in most Chinese grocery stores. It is especially delicious with rice and the meat juices is great over hot steamed rice--(that's my opinion) :)
1½ lbs. fresh side belly pork (with more lean meat)
200  gms. salted mustard (get the sweet type)
2 tsp. constarch
2 tsp. oil
1 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. Chinese rice wine
salt and pepper to taste
Steamer with trays
Deep pan or dish for steaming
1. Soak the mustard in water for for an hour. Spread open the leaves to remove dirt and sand. Rinse well to remove most of the salt and grime. Cut off some of the hard stems and chop finely. Do this in small batches. Set aside.
2. Wash and remove skin from pork. Slice in 1 inch pieces and using a larger knife, chop it alittle at time till it resembles like ground pork, but slightly thicker. You dont want to use ground pork as the texture will becomes mushy.
3. In a larger bowl, add meat, salted mustard, oil, sugar, wine, and cornstarch to combine to form a smooth ball. Fill a steamer with water, and bring water to a boil. Fill dish with meat halfway and put in steaming tray and cook for about 20-30 minutes till meat is cooked through. Note: It is ready when the meat has reduce in size and and not sticking to the dish.
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March 4, 2010

French Onion Soup

One of my favorite soup during the winter is Onion Soup, a popular food for the poor in Roman times, as onions were plentiful and easy to grow. French Onion Soup is the French version using caramelized onions in beef broth, (a significant culinary improvement in my opinion). The basic and important trick to this soup is a good beef stock and the proper caramelization of the onions. It takes hours of slowly stirring and cooking the onions over a high to medium heat to get a rich brown color, until the juices from the onions has evaporated and the sugar in the onions begins to brown or caramelized. Tips: Keep onions in the refrigerator the night before cooking or soak them in water to prevent eyes from tearing when chopping. :()
Ingredients: (serves 6-8)
10 large red or yellow onions, peeled and slice thinly
6-7 cups beef broth or 5 cans of low-sodium beef stock
½ cup dry red wine
3-4 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar (optional)
1 bouquet garni (bay leaf, thyme, rosemary)
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil
Gruyere cheese, grated
French bread, sliced and toasted
1. Peeled, quartered and sliced onions thinly.
2. In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoon oil and sauté the onions over high heat, stirring frequently till it softened and reduced in size. Stir well scraping the brown from the bottom of the pan.
3. Turn heat to medium and let it simmer until it turns brown and caramelized, but not burned. This process of stirring takes me about 2 hours.
4. Add bouquet garni, stock, wine and stir to mix, cover and let it simmer on low. Season to taste with balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.
5. While soup is simmering, prepare the croutons. Spread bread with oil or butter and arrange bread slices in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake in 400°F oven until bread is toasted and crisp, about 10-15 minutes. Remove and set aside.
6. To serve, ladle soup in individual oven-proof soup bowls or deep ramekins. Place one or two slices of toast and sprinkle top with cheese. Reduce oven heat to 350°F, put soup into the oven for about 10-15 minutes until the cheese bubbles and is slightly browned. You can use the broiler to melt the cheese, and be careful as soup is very hot! Serve immediately.
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Juice 6: T. Roosevelt

We are in juice heaven with our new Hurom juicer. It is fantastic as we use it almost every day. Here is another concoction that we made tonight.
3 medium apples, cored and sliced
1 mango, peeled and sliced in chunks
1 red pear, peeled and sliced in chunks
10 seedless grapes
You may be interested in the following:
Variation 7: 1 cup honeydew, 1 cup grapes, 1 cup watermelon with rind
Variation 8: 3 mangoes, 2 peaches, 2 apples, 1 cup blueberries
Variation 9: 3 peaches, 2 bananas
Variation 10: 2 apples, 1 cucumber, 1 stalk celery, 1/4 pineapple
Variation 11: 1 cup strawberries, 3 bananas, 1/4 cup pineapples

March 2, 2010

Baked Fish with Tomatoes and Basil

This is a quick dish for someone who is grumpy and hungry----especially when you come home after a long drive in this lousy weather and have to contend to cooking a meal.
1 fish fillet (salmon or any white fish)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. chopped basil
4-5 ripe tomatoes, diced
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Season fish with some salt and pepper and put in a baking dish.
2. Heat oil in pan on medium heat and fry garlic for 2 minutes, add tomatoes, basil and fry till tomatoes for about 10 minutes. Add in lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and pour mixture on top of fish.
3. Bake in oven for about 20 minutes till meat is cooked through.
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