Monday, November 30, 2009

Flank Steak With Fennel, Pear, Ginger, Mushrooms and Peppers

I had a flank steak in the fridge last night and I was thinking of a making a steak dinner that was easy but incorporated the ingredients we love plus some new ones we've never tried. Hubby enjoys steaks with mushrooms, Mom loves pears, Teen wants lots of peppers, and I like to cook with new ingredients.
When Mom and I went shopping at Food Pyramid, we were enticed by the fresh, gorgeous-looking fennel bulbs. I've never cooked with fennel before so this was going to be exciting. They also had various kinds of pears at the produce section so Mom picked out a couple of Japanese nashi, Korean Shingo pear, Bartlett pears and Apple pears. Shingo pear is similar to Nashi pear but is sweeter and jucier. Korean sceintists believe that pears keep cancer at bay by helping flush out carcinogens from the body.
I found some baby Portabellas, candied ginger, Fresno red peppers and Anahaeim for Hubby and Teen. I thought the best way to cook all of these together was to marinade the veggies and fruits in zesty Italian dressing spiked with chipotle and ginger powder and season the huge slab of flank steak with salt, pepper and liberal amounts of chipotle seasoning. That's exactly what I did and the result was DELICIOUS! The steak was perfectly grilled, the combination of candied ginger and pears was delightfully sweet and contrasted with the savory, spiciness of the steak and peppers. One of the biggest revelation was the fennel. It was so good grilled and got me all excited ----I'm sure I will be cooking more with this ingredient!

If you want to try this, here's the list of ingredients:
2 lbs flank steak
1 Tbsp canola oil to coat the steaks
chipotle seasoning, salt, pepper to taste (for the steak)
2 bulbs of fennel
2 pears (combination of Bartlett and Korean pear or Japanese Nashi and Apple pear)
5 slices of candied ginger
1 pck Baby Portabellas, sliced
2 Fresno red peppers, sliced
1 Anaheim pepper, sliced
1/3 cup Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1 tsp chipotle powder

Coat the steak with canola oil and season with salt, pepper and chipotle seasoning. Cut cup the fennel bulb and pears lengthwise and combine with the candied ginger, Fresno red peppers and Anaheim Pepper. Mix ginger powder and chipotle powder with the Italian dressing. Pour dressing over the veggies and fruits. Marinade for about 15 minutes. Grill steak, pears, fennel, candied ginger, mushrooms and peppers. ENJOY!

This is my entry to the Leftover Queen Royal Food Joust.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Apple Mac N' Cheese Fruit Salad

This is a light fruit salad made of apples, kiwi and strawberries. You can add whatever other fruit you may prefer such as mandarin oranges, nectarines, mangoes, or whatever is in season. The wacky pasta adds texture and interesting shapes. A couple of years ago, Marcia, one of our visiting PhD student from Brazil showed me how to make this honey lime dressing. I love its simplicity and ease of preparation.

This fruit salad is perfect anytime --as a side for Thanksgiving, summer picnics, potlucks. Just remember to keep it chilled (not frozen) and add the dressing at the last minute-- just before serving so that the salad does not become watery! Enjoy!

Apple Mac N' Cheese Fruit Salad
2 Washington/ Granny Smith apples, cut up
2 kiwi fruit, cut up
2 cups strawberries, cut up
1 cup cooked Wacky macaroni pasta
1 cup of other fruits in season
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup lime juice
1 tsp lime zest
1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

In a bowl, mix the pasta with all the fruits and keep in the fridge till ready to serve. Prepare dressing by incorporating the honey into the lime juice. Make sure the honey is completely mixed in before adding the lime zest. Add honey lime dressing to the salad just before serving and top with shredded cheddar cheese. Enjoy!

This is my Weekend Wokking entry with apple as the theme ingredient! If you have an interesting apple recipe, please join us for this blogging event! I'm hosting it this month. Deadline for entries is Nov. 29, 2009. Follow these links for details on submission and background.

Asian-Inspired Thanksgiving Chicken

We will be spending Thanksgiving with my brother's family in Dallas so I decided to have a Mini Thanksgiving with an Asian-Inspired Thanksgiving Bird. I did not wish to mess with a whole turkey before the big day. That would spoil my appetite for the Fried Cajun Turkey feast. At first I wanted to use duck but we did not get the chance to go to the city this weekend. So, instead I used chicken. I made this delicious, super-moist Thanksgiving Chicken with Snow Peas, Carrots and Yellow Squash. Here's the recipe for both:

Asian-Inspired Thanksgiving Chicken
1/2 tsp Five-spice powder
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp soybean paste (optional)
1 tsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp honey
1/4 cup hot water (to help dissolve the honey)
1-1/2 Tbsp vinegar ( I used Chinese black vinegar)
1-1/2 Tbsp cooking wine/ sherry
1 3.5 lb whole chicken

Cut the bird in half lengthwise. Combine Five-spice powder, salt and soybean paste. If you don't have soybean paste substitute with 1/2 Tbsp kosher salt. Rub the chicken with the spice mix and set it aside for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, combine sesame oil, honey, water, vinegar and cooking wine. Make sure the honey is completely mixed in. Pour this over each chicken half (skin side up) and baste the chicken three times at 10 minute intervals. Set the chicken in the fridge (skin side up) uncovered overnight to let the skin dry out. This is important if you wish the skin to be extra crispy. Alternatively, you may cover the chicken but when you are about ready to bake it, baste chicken skin with the honey vinegar mix and let the skin dry out in front of an electric fan! Preheat oven to 350 C. Bake chicken till skin is crispy and browned. This will take about 40-60 minutes. Check for doneness. Enjoy this delightfully moist chicken! Next year, I plan to try this recipe on turkey!!!

P.S. If you want a stronger flavor, double the Five-spice, salt and soybean paste mixture.

Stir-fried Snow Peas, Carrots and Yellow Squash
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 tsp garlic minced
1/2 of a small onion minced
1 big pack snow peas (cut into half if they are too large)
2 cups carrot, sliced
2 cups yellow squash, sliced
1/2 Tbsp chicken powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 /4 cup water
1 tsp cornstarch

Mix water and cornstarch and set aside. Heat oil and saute garlic and onion. Add snow peas, carrots, yellow squash, chicken flavoring, salt and pepper. Stir-fry veggies then add cornstarch slurry. Cook till slurry thickens and serve right away. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Moms Are Special

Flower bouquet image from http://www.ci.yuma.az.us/Images/General/ss-10699873-flowerBouquet.jpg

It rained the whole day on Sunday so the weather cooled down considerably by Monday.

When I looked out the window, the sky was clear so I just wore a light coat.

As I stepped out the door, I felt the chilling cold but I assumed it might warm up later in the day.

Besides, if I headed back I'd surely be late for work and all the parking slots would be taken.

I made it to work on time but for some reason, there were a lot of cars that morning so I had to park a long way off. It was a good ten minutes away... in the ... cold.

Later, I found out that the thermostat in the biochem lab where we had the scope was broken. I had to prop open the door so it would warm up.

Still it was not enough. By the end of the day, I was frozen to the bones.

Long story short, I've been in bed with a terrible cold for three days now. I feel like a zombie... a miserable, grumpy zombie.....

.....I'm just so glad my mom is around visiting! I don't have to worry about getting breakfast ready and making sure my son is out of the house in time for the bus. I don't have to worry about making lunch or dinner ... that's three days in a row!

I just need to get plenty of rest and keep hydrated ... stay warm and comfy .... eat well and drink my medication. Ohhh ...... it feels so ...... good... to be carefree and pampered.........

Thanks, Mom!

I Love You Mom image from http://media.photobucket.com.

Last night, I dreamt of a huge, rib-eye steak with gorgonzola cheese and grilled veggies.
... Oh..no ... I think I'm recovering from my cold/flu?!!!!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Weekend Wokking: Apples

This month I am hosting Weekend Wokking : Apples.

Wandering Chopsticks created this monthly blogging event to see how many different variations we can make using a single ingredient and for this month, the theme is apples. Although the name says Weekend Wokking, use of a wok is not required for your recipe. You can make an appetizer, soup, main entre, side dish, snack, beverage or dessert with apples as an ingredient.

Here are the rules:

1. Entries must be written specifically for the event.

2. Original recipes are encouraged, but if you made someone else's recipe, please include a link to that person's recipe.

3. Link back to this Weekend Wokking post.

You are all welcome to join us in this fun event. Just email me (momgateway@gmail.com) by November 29, 2009 with the following information:

1. Your name or what name you would prefer to be called
2. The name of your blog
3. What part of the world you want identified as your residence
4. The title of the recipe
5. A permalink URL to the recipe

I will be posting a round-up by December 2, 2009 so please send in your entries by 11:59 p.m., Sunday, November 29, 2009. Have fun cooking!