Thursday, July 30, 2009

Grow Your Own #33 August 15: Grilled Eggplant Salad

Recipe at bottom

I will be hosting Grow Your Own # 33 for August 15. It is a twice-a-month blogging event created by Andrea "that celebrates foods we grow or raise ourselves and the dishes we make using our homegrown products. If you have a food blog, farm blog, gardening blog or any blog related to home and garden or fun activities to do with children, you can can write a post about some of the edibles you have raised, grown, or found and cooked with."

To participate, there are three simple rules:

1. Make a dish using at least one item from your indoor/ outdoor/container garden or farm and post about it in your blog by August 15.

2. Anything edible (herbs, sprouts, vegetables, fruits, nuts, edible flowers, legumes, spices, seasonal crops, livestock, eggs) that you've grown or raised qualifies. You can also use something given to you as long as the giver personally grew or raised the item and you did not have to pay for it. You can participate even if you don't live in the U.S. It will be exciting to get entries from different parts of the world.

3. To include your post in the August 15 round-up, send an email to momgateway@gmail.com by August 15 with the following information:

  • Subject line: Grow Your Own #
  • Your name and location (country, state if applicable)
  • Your blog URL
  • Permalink to your post
  • 300×300 pixel photo of your dish (As long as the photo is no larger than 300 pixels in either direction, it will work.)
  • I will post the round-up a couple of days after Aug 15.

Andrea says, "For an event like this I think it’s useful and interesting to see what is fresh and available from different regions at different times of the year, so please make sure you include the location information when you submit your entry."

Here's my Grilled Eggplant Salad entry to Grow Your Own #33 :

Grilled Eggplant Salad

1 lb eggplant
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
1/2 tomato, finely diced
1 stalk scallions, sliced
2 Tbsp vinegar
1 Tbsp lime juice
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
dash of pepper

Grill the eggplant on the stove top till skin is charred. Turn it so all sides are evenly charred. This intensifies the flavor of the eggplant and imparts a nice smoky flavor. It's very important that the eggplant is uniformly soft. Transfer eggplant to a plate then use a fork to lift, peel off and discard the charred skin. Flatten the eggplant on the plate and cut it up into tiny cubes. Sometimes I prefer to cut it after adding the vinaigrette or just before serving it.

To prepare the vinaigrette, mix vinegar, lime juice, garlic, salt, sugar and pepper in a small bowl. You can adjust the amounts of vinegar, lime juice, sugar and salt depending on your taste. I like a strong vinegar taste. Add diced onions, tomatoes and scallions and pour vinaigrette over eggplant. Serve immediately with grilled chicken or beef.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Pistachio Cheese Guava Pastries

I miss guava jelly! When I was a kid, we had lots of time on our hands in the summer. One of my younger sisters and I would make tamarind jelly, mango jam and lolly fruit (sentol) preserves. We'd spend hours making up recipes for these exotic fruits. One jelly we never made was guava. It was available in stores all the time so it was not a challenge for us!

Guava jelly on toast was often my Dad's breakfast on weekdays. He'd slather softened butter on his toast and mix in the sweet and slightly tart guava jelly. It was perfect with a cup of black coffee!

Guava is a tropical fruit with a distinct, savory-sweet fresh aroma. It is an excellent source of vitamin C, in fact it has more of this vitamin than some citrus. It is rich in vitamin A and pectin so it is great for making jam and aiding digestion.

It's easy to tell a guava tree from other trees. It's trunk is smooth and mottled reddish brown with a bark that naturally peels off in thin sections somewhat similar to the bark of eucalyptus trees. The wood is strong but pliable. I remember my older brother used to make sling shots (yes, sling shots!) from guava branches. Guava is also medicinal. Steeping leaves in water to make guava tea has been used by many native peoples for stomach upset and dysentery. My dad told me that when he was a kid, he'd get cuts while playing outdoors. He'd mash guava leaves into a paste and apply it to his wounds and in a day they'd healed without leaving a scar.

What I like best about the guava plant is the fruit. Unripe, it is crisp, slightly sweet-tart and delicious but ripe fruits taste even better. Ripe fruit is very sweet! The skin is greenish-yellow and the fine-textured flesh ranges from creamy white to pinkish-red depending on the variety.

Whenever I see guava nectar in the store, I think about making guava jelly. I finally decided to try this week. Well sort of...let me explain, mine is not real guava jelly, it's more like guava syrup. I did not want to add more sugar to the guava nectar and because guava has pectin, I just reduced 3 cups of guava nectar to half it's volume till it became thick and syrupy. This way I can use it for many things such as a filling for pastries, syrup on vanilla ice cream or with iced tea, marinade for chicken, sauce for beef and so on. You can reduce the guava nectar in a wok or a small pot.

Here's the recipe I'm sharing today:

Pistachio Cheese Guava Pastries

1 pkg Pepperidge Farms puff pastry
1 8 oz cream cheese, cut into thin slices
1-1/2 cup guava jelly/guava syrup or 1 pkg guava paste
1/2 cup chopped pistachios

Cut puff pastry into rounds to fit a 24-cup mini cupcake pan. Place puff pastry rounds into cupcake pan. It is important to push in the pastry to the bottom and sides of the pan so the filling will not ooze out when the pastry puffs up. Into each, add a slice of cream cheese, some chopped pistachios and a scant 1/2 tsp guava jelly/ guava syrup or a slice of guava paste. You may top this with another pastry round or you may leave it as is. Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes or so till the pastries rise and are light golden-brown. Cool and serve. Enjoy!

This is my entry to August Weekend Wokking Event hosted this month by Yasmeen.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Easy Salmon Teriyaki

Pan-fired Salmon Teriyaki

Baked Salmon Teriyaki

One of my easiest potluck dishes is Salmon Teriyaki. Last time we had a graduation party for some students, I had no time to prepare an elaborate dish so I dropped by the store to get a whole frozen fillet of salmon and teriyaki sauce. Normally, I would butterfly the salmon into single portions and and pan fry them. This was not an option because of time constraints so I decided to partially thaw the salmon, cut it into small portions (this is important to cook it faster and evenly), baked it at 350 F and broiled it after 30 minutes. The result was unexpectedly very moist salmon, you'd think it was slow poached for hours, with a mild teriyaki flavor. I'm not sure if partial thawing of the salmon accounted for the moistness of the dish. Chopped scallions from my garden gave a refreshingly, sharp onion flavor to the dish. Here's the recipe:

1 whole frozen fillet of salmon
1/2-1 cup teriyaki sauce
1/2 c scallions, chopped
2 Tbsp butter (cut into small portions)
red pepper flakes

Thaw the salmon. Cut into small portions and lay evenly (skin side down) on a single layer in a baking dish sprayed with nonstick spray. Pour teriyaki sauce over the fish and add cubes of butter and green onions. Add red pepper flakes or hot sauce if you wish. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 F then broil for 30 minutes or so depending on how toasted you want the surface to be. Serve hot or cold.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Beef with Bean Sauce and Mixed Vegetables

With Teen at various Academies and Camps most of the summer, I don't have to rush home to prepare dinner for a kid with hollow legs. I come home much later than usual and make a lot of single serve, less than 20-minutes, stir-fry meals. This Beef with Bean Sauce and Mixed Veggies was created at the spur of the moment when I had a hankering for the salty, umami flavor of bean sauce. I had some frozen tomatoes from Mary and Allen V.'s garden and a bag of frozen peas and carrots, seranno and red bell peppers. Luckily, I had left-over steamed rice in the fridge so I had a meal in less than 10 minutes. The frozen tomatoes made the dish very moist and balanced the saltiness of the bean sauce. I did not have salted black bean paste on hand so used Thai yellow bean sauce for this recipe. Cilantro from my garden was not just for garnish but added for the wonderful aroma and freshness it gave to the dish. Here's the recipe:

Beef with Bean Sauce and Mixed Veggies

1/2 lb ground beef
1 T canola oil
1/2 cup frozen peas and carrots
1/4 cup diced red bell peppers
1 serrano pepper, diced (jalapeno or habanero if you want if hotter!)
2 frozen tomatoes, diced
2 Tbsp yellow bean sauce
steamed rice

Brown ground beef in canola oil and stir-fry yellow bean sauce . Add tomatoes and stir-fry 3 minutes. Add frozen peas and carrots, cilantro, red bell peppers and serrano pepper (you might like to use jalapeno or habanero if you want if hotter!). Cook till veggies and peppers are done. Garnish with more cilantro and serve over microwaved left-over steamed rice. Quick, easy and delicious!