Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Helpful Common Ingredient Substitutions

1 cup sifted all purpose flour (APF)--1 cup + 2 Tbsp sifted cake flour
1 cup sifted cake flour ----------------1 cup - 2 Tbsp sifted APF
1 cup sifted self-rising flour ----------7/8 cup APF + 1 1/2 tsp baking powder + 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sifted bread flour ---------------1 cup APF + 1 tsp wheat gluten
1 tsp baking powder ------------------1/4 tsp baking soda + 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp cream of tartar ------------------2 tsp lemon juice or vinegar
1 cup shortening -----------------------7/8 cup vegetable oil

1 cup whole milk
-----------------------1/2 cup evaporated milk + 1/2 cup water
1 cup buttermilk ------------------------1 Tbsp lemon juice + milk to make 1 cup
1 cup heavy cream -------------------3/4 c milk + 1/3 cup butter

1 cup packed brown sugar
---------1 cup white sugar = 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup light corn syrup ----------------1 1/4 cup light brown sugar + 1/3 cup water
1 cup dark corn syrup ---------------1 cup light corn syrup + 1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 cup honey ---------------------------1 1/4 cup white sugar + 1/4 cup water
1/4 cup cocoa ------------------------1 (1oz.) square unsweetened chocolate

1 clove garlic
-------------------------1/8 tsp garlic powder + 1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp dried ginger --------------------2 tsp chopped fresh ginger
1 tsp minced fresh ginger ----------1/2 tsp ground dried ginger
1 tsp lemon zest ---------------------2 Tbsp lemon juice = 1/2 tsp lemon extract
2 fresh lemon grass stalks ---------1 Tbsp lemon zest

Handy Cooking Measurement Equivalents

Here are some very useful cooking measurements and common ingredient substitutions that I keep on hand. You might want to save this file for future use.
1/16 cup -----------1 Tablespoon
----------------------------------3 teaspoons
1/6 cup
-------------2 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons------------ 8 teaspoons
1/8 cup -------------2 Tablespoons --------------------------------6 teaspoons
1/4 cup -------------4 Tablespoons ------------------------------12 teaspoons
1/3 cup -------------5 Tablespoons +1 teaspoon ------------16 teaspoons
3/8 cup -------------6 Tablespoons ------------------------------18 teaspoons
1/2 cup -------------8 Tablespoons ------------------------------24 teaspoons
2/3 cup ------------10 Tablespoons +2 teaspoon ---------- 32 teaspoons
3/4 cup ------------12 Tablespoons -----------------------------36 teaspoons
1 cup --------------16 Tablespoons -----------------------------48 teaspoons

2 cups --------------1 pint
4 cups
--------------2 pints --------------1 quart ---------------------------- ~1 liter
------------------------------------------------4 quarts --------------------------~ 4 liters

1 pound of flour
-----------------------------4 cups flour
1 pound of granulated sugar
-------------2 cups granulated sugar
1 pound of butter
----------------------------2 cups butter
1/2 pound butter
-----------------------------1 cup or 2 sticks butter
1 stick butter
-------------------------------1/2 cup butter
8 oz can of liquid
---------------------------1 cup liquid

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sesame Pizzelles

I got to use this nifty gadget recently. It's a Pizzelle Iron. It must be 15 years old but it I like its pretty patterns. Different pizzelle makers make other dainty patterns. You don't have to get the most expensive one. The inexpensive versions will work too. I use one made by Magic Maid. It makes crispy pizzelles similar to belgian waffles but thinner and lighter. Pizzelle is one of the oldest Italian cookies. Adding sesame seeds gives it a nutty flavor.
This recipe is quoted verbatim from http://www.mangiabenepasta.com/pizzelle.html.
There are several pizzelle recipes but I used the simpliest one with butter in it. My only modification is adding 2 teaspoons of sesame seeds.

Here's the recipe:

Sesame Pizzelles
3 eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon triple sec (you can substitute another liqueur or extract)
1-3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
2 teaspoons baking powder

In a large bowl, beat together the eggs and sugar. Add the butter, vanilla, and triple sec. Add the flour and baking powder and mix well. The batter should be stiff enough to be dropped by spoon. Place about 1 heaping tablespoon of the batter on each grid pattern. You will find that by placing the batter slightly behind the center of the pattern, your pizzelles will come out closer to a round shape. Close the baker and clamp the handles together. Baking will take 30-40 seconds, depending on how brown you like them and the consistency of the batter. Remove the pizzelles from the grid with a fork or spatula. Place on a paper towel to cool. If you wish to shape your pizzelles, do so by removing one from the grid and immediately shaping it while still warm.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Crispy Tofu Spinach Salad with Almonds and Maple Fig Vinagrette

Today I wanted a quick and easy, light lunch. I checked my fridge and found some tofu, spinach, almonds and a maple fig vinagrette from Maple Grove Farms of Vermont. To provide some textural crunch and flavor to the salad, I coated the sliced tofu with tapioca starch. This salad is delicious!

Here's the recipe:

Crispy Tofu Spinach Salad with Almonds and Maple Fig Vinagrette
2 cups Fiesta Express prewashed spinach
1 Tbsp silvered almonds
1 block of medium tofu, cubed
2 tsp tapioca starch
1/2 tsp white sesame seeds
1 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 tsp garlic bits (toasted on medium heat till golden brown)
1/4 cup Maple Grove Farms Maple Fig Dressing

Coat tofu slices with tapioca starch or cornstarch mixed with sesame seeds. Place a skillet over medium heat and add oil. Panfry tofu till crunchy and light brown. Assemble salad as follows. Place spinach on a plate or salad bowl. Add slivered almonds, tofu and garlic bits. Pour Maple Fig dressing over salad. You may add bits of beef jerky if you wish a nonvegetarian salad. Enjoy!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Lime Chipotle Grilled Chicken

It is unusually cold today. I checked the weather channel and the wind is 21 mph so it's -2 F outside. Fortunately, even when it's freezing outdoors, I have my dependable smokeless, electirc grill that lets me grill steak, chicken, or salmon indoors. So, I guess dinner will be Lime Chipotle Grilled Chicken!

One of my favorite kitchen appliance is my electric grill. It's made by Rival and is relatively inexpensive. It's so practical and easy to clean that I use it at lease once a week. Personally, I would like to try a Sanyo electric grill but until my current grill breaks down, I don't think I will replace it. For long while I was using a Foreman grill. I liked it because I could grill chicken breast fillet or chicken sate in under 10 minutes but my son tactfully complained that this was steaming the chicken rather than cooking it with dry heat. I'm so glad I shifted to an electric grill!

Here's the recipe:

Lime Chipotle Grilled Chicken
3 chicken thighs, 3 wings and 3 drumsticks
1/2 lime
1 Tbsp canola oil
2 tsp chipotle powder
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Mix lime, canola oil, chipotle seasoning, salt and pepper. Rub all over the chicken parts. Do this about 30 minutes before you plan to grill so the seasonings can really flavor the chicken. Grill the chicken till fully cooked but still juicy. Make sure the skin is crispy! Yummy!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Dessert Quesadillas

Last night, we were craving for a quick dessert after eating a spicy chicken curry. In need of a quick sugar fix, we made a versatile, quick and easy dessert quesadilla that was super! Who would ever think that toasting the filled tortilla gives it a nutty flavor? Really good and simple! Here is the recipe:

Dessert Quesadillas

4 tsp blueberry jam or apricot jam or chocolate spread or dulce de leche or peanut butter

1 tbsp canola oil

Spread 1 tsp of jam or spread or dulce de leche or peanut butter on one half of a tortilla. Fold the other half over to make a half moon.

Heat an iron skillet and place a tsp of canola oil. Pan fry one side of the filled tortilla. When one side gets a bit toasted, flip over to toast the other side. Place a tsp of oil each time you toast a filled tortilla. Cut each tortilla into four with a pizza cutter and serve warm. Yummy and toasty! Try it!

Fried Chicken in Caramel Marinade

For my fried chicken dish, I was looking for that distinctive sweet and salty flavor found in Vietnamese caramel sauce. This sauce is made from sugar, fish sauce, shallots and black pepper. Marinading chicken thighs with this gives the chicken a unique taste!

Here's the recipe:

Fried Chicken in Caramel Marinade

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
caramel sauce marinade
1/2 lime
3 cilantro sprigs
oil for frying

Caramel sauce marinade:
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/8 cup water
freshly ground black pepper
3 shallots, sliced thinly

Place the sugar in a cast iron skillet over low heat and cook it until sugar turns light brown in color. Remove skillet from the heat and stir in the water and fish sauce. Return skillet over low heat and keep stirring until sugar crystals are completely dissolved. Add shallots and black pepper and let the sauce gently simmer for 2 minutes. Immediately take out the sauce from the heat and allow to cool completely.

Marinade chicken thighs in the caramel sauce for at least 30 minutes (if marinating longer, do this in the fridge). When ready to fry the chicken, make sure your oil is hot enough by dropping a piece of bread into the hot oil. If it sizzles upon contact, the oil is ready. Fry the chicken thighs till fully cooked but still juicy. Sprinkle lime juice over cooked fried chicken and serve immediately with freshly steamed rice and cilantro sprigs. If you make extra caramel sauce (not used as marinade!!) you can drizzle some of this over the fried chicken. Yummy!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Kaffir Flan

After a long hiatus, finally I can get back to my blog. Today, I'm posting a recipe from KaffirGirl. It uses Kaffir Lime leaf. "This citrus plant is common in South East Asia. Its aromatic leaves are traditionally believed to be medicinal --- promoting healthy gums and digestive system among other things. I use it in curries, stir-fry dishes and salads but in my recipe today, Kaffir leaves incorporate a delicate, citrusy flavor to flan".

Kaffir Flan

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
4 Tbsp water
1 segment of Kaffir leaf, shredded
8 egg yolks
1 large can Condensed milk
1 large can Evaporated milk

1. Place sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar and allow the syrup to turn a light caramel color. Turn off the heat and pour syrup into a 9” flan pan or a 9” x 9” baking tin. If you do not want to go into all the trouble of making your own syrup, a shortcut is to use 1 cup waffle syrup to line the baking tin.
2. In a small glass bowl, place the ¼ c water and a segment of Kaffir leaf. Microwave for 1 minute and set aside the Kaffir-flavored water.
3. Blend egg yolks, condensed and evaporated milk in a blender. Stir in 2 tsps of the Kaffir-flavored water. Pour mixture into the baking tin lined with the caramel syrup. Cover pan with foil.
4. Place tin in a larger baking pan that is half-filled with water. Place the pan in a preheated 350 F oven and bake flan until it is firm/ bake for an hour or so.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Olympic Stadium at Montreal, Canada

Deep-Fried Delights

There are times when I crave for deep-fried goodies like crispy chicken wings, tempura and french fries. This time I was looking for something sweet and deep-fried. I came across two interesting recipes that I'm passing along to you. Check them out, they're really good!

Deep-Fried Coconut Balls from BurntLumpia (quoted verbatim)

"Cascarone (AKA Brown Sugary Balls)
Yield: about 12-15 doughballs

1 cup rice flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup water, divided
1/4 cup macapuno (macapuno is shredded coconut that can be found in jars at Asian markets)

For the glaze:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon water

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the rice flour, baking soda, and half of the water (1/4 cup at this point) and mix well. Slowly add the rest of the water, little by little, until a dough is formed. You may not have to use all of the water.

Add the macapuno to the dough and mix well. If the dough is too sticky, add more rice flour if needed. The dough should be easy to work with.

Using your hands, break off small pieces of the dough (about 1 tablespoon) and roll between your palms to form spheres. Place the spheres on wax or parchment paper.

In a large frying pan, heat a half-inch of oil (canola or vegetable) over medium-high heat. Test the oil by gently dropping a small piece of dough into the pan. If the dough sizzles gently, the oil is ready. Place the rest of the doughballs in the pan and fry until golden brown. Place the fried doughballs on paper towels to drain.

Meanwhile, make the caramel by combining the brown sugar and 1 tablespoon of water in a small saucepan over medium heat. When the sugar and water reach a boil, reduce heat and continue to stir until all of the sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute.

While the doughballs are still warm, place them in a medium bowl and pour the caramel over them. Toss to coat the doughballs with the caramel. Serve immediately."

Deep-Fried Coca Cola from The Cutting Board recipes
(quoted verbatim)

"Deep-Fried Coca Cola

3-4 cups all-purpose flour
3 eggs
2 cups Coca-Cola
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Vegetable oil (for deep frying)
Confectioners' sugar (for topping)
Pure Coca-Cola Syrup
Whipped cream
Maraschino cherries

Beat the eggs, then add the sugar and Coca-Cola.

Sift 2 cups of flour, the salt and the baking powder and add to the Coca-Cola, sugar and egg mixture. Mix while adding more flour until the batter is smooth and not too thick.

Put vegetable oil into deep fryer, and heat to 375 degrees F.

Pour the batter into the fryer and cook up a mass of doughy strands.

Stuff into a Coca Cola cup, sprinkle with confectioners' sugar and douse with pure Coke syrup. Top with whipped cream and a maraschino cherry."

Monday, August 11, 2008

Olympic madness: Mascots

Here's a link to the best and worst Olympic Mascots:

All the Olympic Mascots starting with 1972 Summer Oympic Games in Munich, Germany. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Buildingscape in downtown Montreal, Canada

Taste of Chinatown in Montreal Canada

Sights and sounds at the Dragon boat race in Montreal, Canada July 26-27, 2008

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Tilapia in Garlic sauce

Here's a nice recipe for pan-fried tilapia with a garlic sauce:

1/3 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, cut into thin slices
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon dried red-pepper flakes
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound tilapia fillet (patted dry on paper towel)
3 tablespoons dry sherry
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
Heat oil in a large frying pan over moderate heat. When the oil is hot, add tilapia fillets and panfry till crispy on both sides. Remove crispy fish. Add butter to the pan with the garlic, bay leaf and red-pepper flakes and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the sherry, lemon juice and parsley. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Pour over crispy fish and serve immediately.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Love thai food? Try these great thai barbeque recipes for spring and summer. 

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Redbud (Cercis canadensis) in front of OSU's Payne Ellis Dorm

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Phlox (Phlox subulata)

Monday, April 7, 2008

Redbud (Cercis canadensis) with Phlox

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Bradford pear (Pyrus calleryana)

Tulip magnolia (Magnolia soulangiana) close up

Heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica)

Flowering quince (Chaenomeles)

One of the first spring flowers in Oklahoma, Flowering Quince, begins opening a few delicate blooms in late winter. It forms peach-colored blossoms and later darker pink to red flowers in early March. Along with Forsythia, Flowering Quince, brings the first shades of color in the dead of winter. Unfortunately, I could not get a clear shot as it was very windy the day I took this picture. But I guess this will do for now.


For me, Forsythia heralds the coming of spring! The bright-yellow, four-lobed petals of Forsythia blooms are produced late in winter before the leaves start to form. The breathtaking flush of color amid the bleakness of winter definitely makes Forsythia one of my favorite flowers.

Winter melon (Benincasa hispida)

Winter melon is a delicious gourd. This one was given to us by our friend Baida Sun who grew it in his garden in Dallas. I made a delicate and soothing soup with chunks of winter melon in a chicken soup base with thin slivers of ginger, turkey bacon (in place of ham)and green onions. Warm and comforting! I may make "kondol candy" or winter melon candy if I come across a recipe for this before it is all gone.

Kabocha (Cucurbita moschata)

Calamondin (Citrus mitis)

Calamondin or kalamansi is believed to be a hybrid of lime and mandarin, or lime and kumquat. It looks like kumquat but is more rounded and the skin is not sweet. The juice of calamondin is tart but has a very distinct, sweet aroma and unusual flavor unlike any lime. Ice-cold calamondin juice, sweetened with cane sugar, makes a delicious, refreshing drink. I remember an incident when we met a Japanese fellow who said the best fruit juice he ever had was at a five-star hotel in the Philippines. We named all the delicious tropical fruits we could think of and later it turned out that it was just kalamansi juice!!
Calamondin mixed with Kikkoman soy sauce or fish sauce also makes an excellent dip for grilled fish or kebabs. Yummy! These freshly-picked, ripe calamondin are from my indoor container garden.