January 29, 2012

Baked Savory Mushroom Clafouti

Well it's Sunday and I am inspired to cook this exciting recipe. The recipe calls for a medley of mushrooms cooked in a rich and flavorful cream sauce. The cream is infused with an aromatic and earthy fragrance from the mushrooms with a Clafouti batter for the crust.
Clafouti is a classic French custard with a berry or cherry filling. It is easy to prepare and it has an elegant presentation, which makes it a perfect choice for any occasion.
So after brunch with Kwan and Steven, we drove over to Berkeley Bowl to get some fresh mushrooms. The recipe called for Portobello mushrooms, but I've decided to use fresh shitake, dried chanterelles and porcini. Hmmm, this dish will be perfect paired with a glass of cabernet or pinot noir--life is good!

January 28, 2012

Curried Vegetable with Dried Figs Potpies

I love making potpies as they are perfect for this wintry weather. This recipe is full of flavor with root vegetables and spices to make a satisfying meal. Jean gave me a set of Le Creuset's enamaled cast iron Gratin baking dishes in sea blue and orange. I just love the pretty colors. Thank you Jean!

January 23, 2012

Chinese New Year Dishes

Gong Hay Fat Choy! Here are some Chinese New Year dishes that I've cooked for my family over the years. It is good luck to prepare an even number of dishes, such as 8 which means prosperity in Chinese.
Here is a compilation of festive dishes to help you celebrate this Lunar New Year of the Dragon. May we all be blessed with good health and prosperity for 2012! (Mouse over picture to view recipe).

January 21, 2012

Sizzling Vietnamese Crêpe/Bánh Xèo

Bánh Xèo (ban say-oh) is a light and appetizing rice crêpe with meat and vegetables fillings. It is served with the nuoc cham, a spicy and piquant fish sauce, along with a side dish of various types of aromatic herbs and lettuce. To eat it, you would wrap a small piece of crêpe with lettuce and herbs into a bundle and dip into the sauce.

January 16, 2012

Blueberry Clafouti

I am glad to find blueberries in the store today, so I picked up a pound of it to make this recipe for a clafouti. Clafouti is a soft and custard-like baked French dessert that is made with fresh seasonal berries. Depending on the sweetness of the berries, you should adjust the sugar accordingly, unless if you have a sweet-tooth it didn't really matter.

January 15, 2012

Crispy Bacon and Fingerling Potato Pizza

John and I made this wonderful recipe for brunch today. Instead of using the regular pizza dough, it uses Phyllo dough for a crisp and delicate crust. You can use any of your favorite topping ingredients to make it your own signature pizza. I called this recipe taking pizza to a higher level, as it is not only a satisfying meal; it is wonderful to serve on any occasion!

January 14, 2012

Roast Chicken with Olives/Chicken Mhammar

One of my favorite cuisines is Mediterranean--it is the food from the different cultures adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea. Mediterranean cuisine is not Spanish, French, or Italian food--because of the complexity of its history, cultures, religions, and geography. Mediterranean food has developed not as national cuisines but as a variety of regional cuisines based on an extreme geography.
One of the regions is Morocco and its cuisine is extremely diverse due to its interaction with other cultures and nation over the centuries. Their food is colorful, and tastefully seasoned with herbs and spices to create a rich and flavorful aroma. I stumbled upon this recipe online while searching for Argan oil (more about this wonderful oil in my next post).

January 11, 2012

Classic Pear and Almond Tart

This is a classic French tart to make. It is easy to prepare and looks elegant for a special Sunday dinner. I've made this some weeks ago and quite forgotten to post it. I'd used two adaptations for the recipe and the credits are listed below. Bon Appetit!

Ingredients: (Adapted from Bon Appetit, February 2005)
4 firm and ripe Bosc pears, peeled, cored and cut into halves
1 cup sugar
3½ cups water
½ Tbsp. lemon juice
Almond Filling:
2/3 cup blanced slivered almonds
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
6 Tbsp. sugar
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg, beaten
½ tsp. almond extract (optional)
Sweet Tart Crust: (Adapted from Dorie Greenspan)
9-inch tart pan with removable bottom
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup confectioner's sugar
¼ tsp. salt
9 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large ege yolk
1. For pears: In a medium pot add water, sugar and lemon juice to a boil over medium heat. Stir until sugar dissolves, then add the pears. Reduce heat to medium low heat and simmer until the pears are tender. Turn them over occasionally, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and let pears cool in the syrup.
2. For almond filling: Grind almonds and flour in a food processor until well mixed. Add in sugar, then buttern and almond extract, if using. Pulse until mixture is smooth, add in egg yolk to blend. Remove mixture into a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.
3. For Tart Crust: Add flour, sugar, and salt into a food processor and pulse to combine. Add in the butter and pulse further until mixture resembles bread crumbs. Stir in the egg yolk a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. Pulse for another 10 minutes until the mixture begins to clump to a dough. Tum the dough out onto a floured work surface. Knead the dough lightly to just incorporated any missed dry ingredients on the surface. From into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours before rolling.
4. Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter bottom and sides of a 9-inch fluted tart pan. Place a piece of parchment paper on work surface and gently dust over with flour. Roll dough to form a large round, about 12-inch. Using the parchment paper as aid, turn dough into the pan. Remove paper. Seal any cracks in dough, trim overhand to ½ inch. Fold overhang in, making double-thick sides. Pierce bottom of crust with folk.
5. Line crust with buttered foil side down, then fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake crust in the middle of the oven until sides ar set about 20 minutes. Remove foil and pie weights. Bake further for another 8-10 minutes until golden and bottom is set. Remove and cool crust in pan for later. Reduce oven to 350°F.
6. Let almond filling thaw at room temperature. Spread filling evenly in crust. Cut pears in slices and gently press pear slices in filling, overlapping them. (You can be creative at this point)
7. Bake tart in middle of oven until golden and when inserted with a toothpick into the center comes out clean, about 50-60 minutes. Cool tart in pan on rack. To serve push pan bottom up to release the tart. Place on serving plate and cut into wedges.
Printable Recipe

January 9, 2012

Apple and Pear Soup

I've have been feeling under the weather since the middle of December. I got the chills, cough, and congestion during the holidays. John was away visiting his parents back east and I spend the holidays with the boys in SF instead. Just like myself, they were both sick with the cold. Instead of the regular festive spread on Christmas Eve, I made onion soup with crusty bread. It was wonderful that we had the entire weekend off, so we could all stayed home to rest.
This is the time of the year where the summer heat evaporates into dry fall weather--people develop colds and cough. Besides taking lots of rest and decongestion medicine to ease the symptoms, another remedy is Chinese soup. I like to share this appetizing soup that is believed to nourish and strengthens the lungs. It is a perfect soup for all seasons.
2 unpeeled apples (red of green)
2 unpeeled Ya Li pears, or Korean pears
4 Chinese dried figs
30 gms sweet almonds
30 gms bitter almonds
½ lb lean pork
6 cups water
salt to taste
1. Rinse and ingredients well with water. Core and cut fruits into quarters. Cut lean pork into small chunks.
2. Add enough water into a pot and scald the pork to remove scums and impurities. Remove from heat and pour away the water and rinse the meat with some water.
3. In a clean pot, bring the 6 cups of water to a boil (the water should be enough to cover the ingredients, add more if necessary). When water comes to a fast boil, add in all the ingredients, except the salt. Cook over high heat for 20-25 minutes. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to low and simmer to cook for another hour.
3. Remove from heat and season with salt. Remove meat and serve the soup with the cooked fruits.
Tips: You can purchase the almonds and Chinese dried figs in most Chinese medicine shops.
Printable Recipe

January 8, 2012

Candied Pork Ribs

I simply love this dish because the cane sugar and the vinegar gives it a sweet and sour taste with a rich caramelized brown syrupy aroma. It is a colorful dish for any occasion.
5 strips of baby pork ribs, cut into bite sized (between the bones)
1 egg yolk
All-purpose flour for coating
salt and pepper
1 piece of brown candy (cane sugar imported from China)
¼ cup brown rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
Oil for deep frying
1. Pat ribs dry, season with salt and pepper and egg yolk. Set aside. Add enough flour in a bowl to coat the meat.
2. In a deep pan, heat enough oil for deep fry. Turn heat on high. Using a long chopsticks or tong, pick a piece of meat and coat with flour, shake off access flour and gently put into pan. Fry till golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Note: Do not add too much meat to cook at one time and discard used oil.

3. Remove oil from pan, reheat pan on low heat. Break the cane sugar and let it melt in the pan, stirring to prevent burning. Warm the vinegar slighty and add to the sugar mixture slowly, stirring to prevent sugar from crystalizing. Adjust to your taste, add a little more cane sugar or vinegar to balance the sweet and sour taste. Next toss in the ribs and give it a quick stir to mix well with the sauce. Serve hot with rice.
Note: A friend suggest that I submit this dish to "Aspiring Bakers #15-Auspicious Dishes for CNY, hosted by Wen's Delight.
Printable Recipe

January 7, 2012

Savory Fennel, Onion, & Orange Zest Upside-Down Shortcake

Last night John and I had dinner at Coconut, a Caribbean restaurant in downtown Palo Alto. After the meal, we walked down a couple of blocks to Bell's, an independent bookstore (you don't find many around these days). It is a two story historic building with over 300,000 volumes of used and rare books. This place is definately for a voracious reader. We joked that this will be a perfect place for anyone in exile or retired.
I picked up a wonderful recipe book on savory baking by Mary Cech. It has quite a few of warm and inspiring recipes that I like to bake. This one is my favorite with caramelized onions baked upside-down--great for brunch or as a side dish. The recipe asked for fennel seeds, but I opted for fresh fennel, and I've added some plum dried tomatoes to enhanced the flavor of the balsamic vinegar. The onion fillings are wonderful paired with roasted lamb chops!