Thursday, December 31, 2009

Halibut in Chardonnay Mushroom Orange Reduction

Eating fish has numerous health benefits. It's an excellent source of high quality protein, omega-3 fatty acids, essential vitamins and minerals. The American Heart Association recommends at least two servings of fish per week to help prevent heart disease, reduce blood pressure, and lower the risk of heart attacks, strokes and osteoporosis.

Trout, sardines, salmon, herring, anchovies, sea bass, cod, tuna, halibut are highest in omega fatty acids. Flash frozen halibut is one of our favorite. It freezes well, has a very clean taste and it's flesh is firm and dense.

We love to eat fish but living here in the heartland we have very few options unless we make a special trip to the seafood section of the Asian Supermarket. Here's a recipe for halibut with a reduction sauce consisting of leftover chardonnay, two kinds of mushrooms and orange juice. Enjoy!

Halibut in Chardonnay Mushroom Orange Reduction
1 1/2 pound halibut
2 Tbsp canola oil
2 Tbsp orange juice
1/2 cup Chardonnay
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup sliced baby portabellas
2 Tbsp dried shitake mushrooms, soaked in 1/4 cup warm water
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp orange zest
1Tbsp butter
salt and pepper to taste

Thaw fish in fridge, pat dry, and salt lightly.  Heat the oil in a cast iron pan, add the halibut to the hot pan. The fish will not stick to the pan if the oil is very hot.  Sear the fish on both sides then cover the pan, turn off the heat and let the fish cook with the residual heat.  Prepare the sauce by mixing orange juice, soy sauce and  brown sugar in a bowl.  Remove the fish from the cast iron pan.  To the pan, add the butter and the mushrooms. Let the mushrooms cook a bit then add the sauce and stir in the chardonnay.  Let the sauce reduce down, add orange zest and the cooked halibut.  Cover the pan and let simmer for 5 minutes.  Add sesame oil. Adjust seasoning and serve the halibut with steamed vegetables and rice. Enjoy the delicious, fresh taste of the fish accentuated with this rich sauce!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Garlic Chicken Stir-fry in Tamarind Sauce

Too tired of soy sauce based stir-fried chicken? Here's a dish that is hot, sweet, salty and tangy. The key ingredients are fish sauce and tamarind concentrate. Tamarind has a deep flavor both sour and sweet but leaning more on the sour side. It's robust and distinctive flavor melds well with the saltiness of fish sauce and the sweetness of brown sugar. I used tamarind sauce left over from my Thai Son-in-law Eggs recipe. This Chicken Stir-fry recipe is a keeper!

Garlic Chicken Stir-Fry in Tamarind Sauce

2 chicken breasts, cut up
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1/2 c tempura flour
1/2 c water
1/4 c celery
1/4 c yellow squash
1/4 c red bell pepper
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 garlic, minced
1 bird's eye chili, minced
1/4c-1/2 c tamarind sauce

Season chicken pieces with garlic salt. In a bowl, combine tempura flour and water. Stir till there are no lumps. Add chicken into the bowl. Deep-fry chicken in oil. Drain fried chicken on paper towel and set aside.

Heat canola oil in a wok. Add minced garlic and gently fry till golden brown. Over high heat, stir-fry yellow squash, celery and red peppers. Add chicken pieces, minced chili and half the tamarind sauce. Gently stir for 1 minute for the sauce to lightly coat chicken pieces. Chicken should still be crispy. Serve with steamed rice and extra tamarind sauce on the side. Delicious!

I am submitting this to Weekend Wokking: Tamarind, hosted this month by Palachinka

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Thai Son-in-law Eggs

This fascinating name comes from a story about a prospective bridegroom in Thailand who wanted to impress his future in-laws. It is said that he created this dish based on the only dish he knew how to make: boiled eggs!!!

Thai Son-in-law eggs are so easy to prepare. I prefer them over deviled eggs anytime--they are prettier, more flavorful and not as perishable (no mayo). The eggs, shallot mixture and sauce can be prepared ahead of time, stored separately and combined just before serving. How easy is that!

You can make this as a side dish (first photo) or as finger food (second photo) or over salad greens.

If you don't have time to prepare the shallot mixture or if you prefer not to add it, just the eggs with the tamarind sauce is wonderful! We like it this way too. As appetizer, it's finger-licking good!

This is my version:

6 hard-boiled eggs, shelled
Oil for frying
1/4 cup cilantro for garnish (If you don't have this, use minced green onions)

Shallot mixture:
1 tbsp canola oil
4 shallots, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves
1 bird's eye chili, minced

Tamarind sauce:
5-6 Tbsp muscovado/ light brown sugar
3 Tbsp fish sauce
4 Tbsp tamarind concentrate (I use Tamarind sour soup base instead of messing with tamarind paste that has to be dissolved in hot water and mushed to extract the juice!)

Fry hard-boiled eggs in oil for 3-5 minutes, until golden brown. You do not have to use a deep fryer. Just move the eggs in the hot oil till it is evenly golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towel. Set aside.

Prepare sauce by combining sugar, fish sauce and tamarind concentrate. Taste the mixture and add more sugar, fish sauce or tamarind sauce if needed. Place in the microwave and zap till sugar is dissolved. This is my shortcut instead of boiling the mixture in a sauce pot. If the sauce is too thick for you, dilute it with a tablespoon or so of water.

Prepare shallot mixture by heating oil and frying shallots, garlic and chili for 3 minutes. Set aside.

To serve, cut fried eggs into half or quarters. Drizzle with tamarind sauce and sprinkle shallot mixture. Garnish with cilantro sprigs or green onions. Yum!

I am submitting this to Weekend Wokking: Tamarind hosted this month by Palachinka

Monday, December 14, 2009

Soft and Chewy Orange Coconut Cashew Granola Cookies

Nature's Hand Granola has been around since 1971. The first batch was crafted by German-born immigrants in Burnsville, Minnesota. Their sweet, hearty granola quickly became a local favorite. So they decided it was time to share their homemade product to the general public and Nature’s Hand Granola was born.

This granola is 100% natural, sweetened with brown sugar and honey with no added salt, preservatives, artificial flavors and artificial colors. It is oven-baked and comes in eleven delicious flavors: Raisin Hazelnut, Cranberry Apricot, Coconut Cashew, Wild Blueberry, Cinnamon Apple, Maple Pecan, Vanilla Almond, Double Berry, Banana Walnut and Original Recipe. They keep coming up with new flavors to satisfy different tastes. We've tried five varieties and they are excellent---not too sweet with the perfect balance of dried fruits, nuts, rolled oats, sunflower and sesame seeds. My whole family loves this great-tasting granola!

The first bags of Nature’s Hand Granola were carried exclusively by specialty stores and health food outlets. They were not easy to find. Right now, it is available only in Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin but if you are interested, you can order them online at http://www.natureshand.com.

Last week, I made these moist, soft and chewy cookies using their recipe. At work everyone who tasted the cookies wanted more and asked for the recipe so I'm posting it here. Hope you give it a try!

Soft and Chewy Orange Coconut Cashew Granola Cookies

1 cup butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 cup rolled oats
1-1/2 cups Nature's Hand Coconut Cashew Granola
1/4 cup candied orange peel (I used tangerine peels)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate pieces (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 F. Blend together butter and sugars till light in color and creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in vanilla.
In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt then stir and add to the creamed butter. Stir in Nature's Hand Coconut Cashew Granola, candied orange peel and chocolate pieces (if using this).
Drop dough by teaspoonful into lightly greased baking sheet or parchment paper. I used Silpat so there was no need to spray oil over it. Bake cookies at 375 F for 10 to 12 minutes or until the edges are brown and the centers are soft. Take out baking pan from the oven and let cookies cool a few minutes on baking pan. Remove cookies and cool completely.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Weekend Wokking : Apples Roundup

With apple as the ingredient for this month's Weekend Wokking, I expecting to receive many sweet recipes. I was pleasantly surprised to find a lot of savory dishes using apples.

The first was Green Tea Noodle Soup with Apples by Dancing Kitchen. Green Tea buckwheat noodles was combined with the mild taste of apples. If you can find the noodles, it's an interesting dish worth trying!!

Wandering Chopsticks, creator of Weekend Wokking, was inspired by Bon Marche Bistro/B Village Cuisine to make Fried Rice with Apples and Cubed Beef. A unique and delicious one skillet/ wok dish using leftover rice, scrambled eggs, apples, beef and soy sauce!

Eat!Travel!Eat! prepared a yummy Apple Curry Chicken with Vermont Curry Roux as base. It had a very mild, spicy and slightly sweet flavor. Adding bell pepper will result in a curry reminiscent of what is offered in most Hong Kong Cafes.

The last savory dish was from Natasha. One of the dishes for Thanksgiving dinner 5-Star Foodie created was Savory Apples Au Gratin. The superb combination of apples with melted Gruyere and Emmentaler chesses was incredible and became the favorite dish of the night. I can't wait to try this for myself!

Now for the sweet dishes:

Javaholic made Indonesian Spiced Apple Caramel Bars with coconut milk in lieu of whipped cream and macadamia nuts for a tropical flavor. Yum! Yum! It's very sweet, tasty and a sure hit with kids!

Erbeincucina prepared a Spiced Apple Sauce with sugar, star anise and pepper to pair with meat or savory pancakes.

I created Apple Mac N' Cheese Fruit Salad, a light fruit salad made of apples, kiwi and strawberries with wacky pasta and a honey lime dressing. You can add whatever other fruit you may prefer such as mandarin oranges, nectarines, mangoes, or whatever is in season!

This month's WW dishes were superb! Thanks to everyone who participated.

January's Weekend Wokking will be hosted by Marija of Palachinka. Please send entries by 11:59 p.m., Sunday, January 3 to palachinkablog@gmail.com. Roundup will be on Wednesday, January 6. The secret ingredient is: tamarind.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Steamed Buns with Teriyaki Turkey

Kiddo prefers home lunch over school cafeteria food. His favorite is onigiri or japanese rice balls. Sushi and steamed buns with various fillings comes a close second and third.

After Thanksgiving, how do I deal with leftover turkey? I make Steamed Buns with Teriyaki Turkey! It's my Japanese spin on Turkey leftovers for the 5 Star Makeover--Turkey Leftovers.

To my wonderful friends, Mindy and Michelle W., maybe you'll like this easy recipe. Make it with turkey, chicken or beef teriyaki filling.

Bun Dough
1 -1/4 cup flour
2 tsp white sugar
2 tsp baking powder
5 Tbsp + 1 tsp warm milk

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar and baking powder. Slowly pour warm milk while stirring. Knead dough until it is soft and pliable (around 5 minutes). Be careful not to overhandle the dough. Cover dough with plastic wrap and set aside while preparing the teriyaki turkey filling. Double the dough recipe if you are making more than 8 dimsum sized buns.

Teriyaki Turkey Filling
1 cup shredded leftover turkey
1 Tbsp rice wine
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp mirin
1-1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp grated ginger
1/2 tsp cornstarch

In a small saucepan, mix rice wine, soy sauce, mirin, brown sugar, grated ginger and cornstarch. Adjust the sweetness of the filling by adding more or less sugar. Let the mixture simmer and thicken. Stir in leftover turkey, remove from the heat and cool. You will have more filling than needed for 8 buns.

Divide the dough into 8 balls. Flatten dough balls and place about a teaspoonful of filling in the center. Gather the dough to the top to seal the filling in. Make sure the filling does not leak out. Place filled buns seam side down in a steamer. Steam over high heat for 15-20 minutes. Yum!

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!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Autumn Candied Kabocha Fruit Parfait with Cola Syrup

Autumn Candied Kabocha Fruit Parfait with Cola Syrup

Autumn is the time to enjoy lots of kabocha squash and persimmons! The best kabocha is sold in late fall and winter. It's flesh is firm, dense and sweet. In the summer, most of the kabocha in the market is almost dried out. I use kabocha for tempura, stew and dessert. Personally, I like candied kabocha better than sweetened yams.

One of my favorite fruits is persimmon. Most of the time, I like the Fuyu variety better than the heart-shaped, very astringent Hayachi variety. Fuyu persimmons are ready to eat right away even when it's still a bit firm and crunchy. I prefer to let it ripen a couple days till it's sweet but not mushy. The Hayachi variety is rich in tannins and tastes real nasty if eaten before it's completely ripe. But, if you let it sit at room temperature till it's completely soft, then it slowly becomes unbelievably delicious and sweet with an amazingly smooth texture just perfect for a parfait.

In this recipe, I'm combining two of my favorite autumn fruits into a dessert topped with ricotta cheese and cola syrup. Hope you like it. This is my entry to Royal Foodie Joust at the Leftover Queen Forum.

candied kabocha*
cola syrup**
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup dried prunes, chopped
2 very, very ripe, almost mushy Hayachi persimmon (This is important!!)
1/4 cup cooked elbow macaroni
1/4 cup granola (optional)

Prepare candied kabocha and cola syrup (see recipes below). Scoop out the mushy, soft and sweet flesh of Hayachi persimmon. Use a parfait glass or wine glass for this dessert. To assemble the parfait, place alternating layers of persimmon pulp followed by a layer of cooked elbow macaroni then some dried prunes and candied kabocha squash. Add the ricotta cheese last and top this dessert with cola syrup. The macaroni gives an interesting texture and the ricotta is mild to balance the sweetness of the candied squash and cola syrup. Optional: I did not have granola but adding it over the dessert gives it some crunch and texture.

Candied kabocha squash:
1 cup water
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 lb kabocha squash, cut up

Combine water and brown sugar in a small saucepan. Allow to boil and reduce by half then add the kabocha squash. Reduce heat and simmer till squash is partly cooked and still a bit firm and the syrup coats the squash. Turn off the heat and remove saucepan from the stove. The squash will continue to cook as it cools down. Set aside.

Cola syrup:
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 c Coke or A&W Root Beer
1 Tbsp dark corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla
In a saucepan combine sugar, cola, and corn syrup and boil over medium heat, stirring constantly till thick and syrupy, then add vanilla and let cool.

I am also excited to participate in the Macaroni and Cheese 5 Star Makeover.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cabbage Wonton Soup

Cabbage Wonton Soup

I made some beef gyoza last night and had leftover filling that I used to to make wonton soup. The gyoza recipe is loosely adapted from Rachel Ray. Wontons were boiled in chicken stock seasoned with salt, pepper, a little sesame oil, garlic and green onions. The result was quick but soothing light soup.

Erbe is hosting Weekend Wokking for November. This is my entry for the month.

Farmers Market Part 2: Why people keep coming back

Here are more pictures of our Farmers Market. Luscious, fresh produce and herbs, live music, smiling faces...can't help keep coming back!