Sunday, January 31, 2010

Pea Salmon Coconut Milk Onigiri

Onigiri is a traditional Japanese picnic lunch/ "sandwich" made with white rice--plain or lightly seasoned with salt.  It is basically a rice ball with a filling like umeboshi (pickled japanese plum), seasoned salmon or bonito flakes (smoked tuna shavings).  It is shaped into a triangle or oval and may be wrapped in a strip of nori (seaweed). Onigiri is plain or salted rice while the more popular sushi (also called vinegar rice) is seasoned with salt, sugar and vinegar to prevent it from spoiling.

Onigiri is so convenient to make.  It is my son's favorite home lunch.  He does not want to carry along a lunch box to school so he begs me to make him onigiri. I usually prepare the filling ahead to time and store it in the fridge. For this month's GYO and Royal Foodie Joust , I made this special pea salmon coconut milk onigiri with bird's eye chili and green onions from my indoor garden.
1 c coconut rice
1 c frozen peas
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 salmon  fillet (about 2"x 4")
1/2 cup coconut milk
1-2 bird's eye chili, finely chopped
1 stalk green onions, chopped
pinch of nutmeg
salt and sugar to taste
black pepper (optional)

To make pea-coconut rice, cook rice in a rice cooker but replace part of the water with coconut milk. I just use 1 cup jasmine rice with 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup coconut milk and add a pinch of salt.  When the rice is done, set it aside to cool.  Meanwhile, thaw the frozen peas and remove the seed coat from each pea---yep, each one of them!  It's a bit of work but the result is worth it. Then, finely chop the peas and mix it in with the coconut rice in a1:1 ratio.
For the filling, place the salmon fillet in a small pot with 1/2 cup coconut milk, sugar, salt, bird's eye chili, green onions and a pinch of nutmeg.  Turn the heat to medium lowand gently cook the fish and let most of the liquid evaporate but don't let it dry out completely.  Adjust the seasoning with more salt and sugar to taste. 
Assembly: Spread some of the pea-coconut rice mix on a plastic wrap.  Place about half a tablespoon of filling in the center and gather the rice around it so that it's completely enclosed and resembles a ball of rice.  Press the sides of the rice ball and flatten the top and bottom to form a nice, tight triangular shape.   It's really not that difficult and once you make the basic rice ball, you can ask your kids to shape it into a square or rectangle or oval.  Have fun!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Cedar's Mediterranean Giveaway Results

And the winner is.......... #19: Cotton Wife.  Congratulations! Enjoy your delicious Cedar's Mediterranean.------.
The pita chips and salad are awesome. Yey!  Please respond within 48 hours with your address and full name so Cedar's can send you their great-tasting, authentic Mediterranean products. 

Monday, January 11, 2010

My First Giveaway and a Recipe: Mini Veggie Garlic Chive Feta Pizza

In need of a quick snack? Here's an easy veggie pizza to try (scroll down for the Mini Veggie Garlic Chive Feta Pizza recipe). 

My First Giveaway

Earlier, I wrote about the healthy diet in Greece, Crete and southern Italy and the healthy, award-winning pita chips, salad and salsa we sampled from Cedar's Mediterranean Foods. I am very pleased to share with you that Cedar's is generously giving away three varieties of Pita Chips - Cinnamon Sugar, Plain, Ranch and four coupons - One Free Natural Tzatziki, One Free Salsa, One Free Hommus and One Free Salad to one of my lucky readers in the U.S. You might want to read here about Cedar's passion and commitment  to promote a healthy lifestyle by making high-quality, great-tasting Mediterranean foods available in the U.S.

To Enter this Giveaway:

In the Comments section of this post,
1. Just share what you think about Mediterranean food/ diet.  Do you have a favorite Mediterranean dish? What is it? And,
2.  If you won, which Cedar's Mediterranean Salad or Tzatziki would you like to try?

One entry per person, please.
You don't need to have a blog to enter.
Winner will be selected by random.org and notified by email and will have 48 hours to reply back before a new winner is selected.
Please leave a valid email address in the entry so I can notify you in the event you’re a winner.
Winners will be announced Monday, January 25, 2010.  

Bonus Entries:
1. Subscribe to my blog by email and let me know about in the comments  or
2. Email your friends about this giveaway and let me know about it in the comments  or
3. Blog about the giveaway and leave me the link.

Open to all U.S. Residents.
Good luck to all!

Recipe: Mini Veggie Garlic Chive Feta Pizza
     3-6 English muffins, sliced in 1/2
     olive oil spray
     4 Tbsp tomato paste
     1/4 cup mushrooms, sliced
     1/4 cup Vidalia onions, sliced
     1/2 cup spinach, torn up
     1/4 cup Cedar's Garlic and Chive Feta Spread
     1/4 cup shredded cheese
     salt and  pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Spray olive oil over English muffin halves then spread tomato paste evenly.  Spoon Garlic and Chive Feta Spread over the surface.  Add mushrooms, onions, spinach and shredded cheese, as much or as little as you want. Sprinkle salt and pepper. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until cheese is melted and crust is lightly browned.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Heads Up on My First Giveway

I'm having my first blog giveaway.  Please check back on Monday.  Hope you all come visit for a chance to win the goodies.  Thanks!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

No Cream Creamed Spinach

Watching Iron Chef America last night, I was intrigued by the intense green soup served by Flay and Comerford to the judges. One judge did not find a lot of flavor in it but the color was beautiful. They won the competition because of creativity and presentation.  I wanted to recreate the soup made with fresh baby spinach and found a recipe by Chef Comerford.  So here it is, adapted from Executive Chef Comerford's No Cream Creamed Spinach recipe with my own touches, a bit of butter and finely chopped almonds as garnish. It is so important to sweat the garlic and shallots to bring out their flavor and to adjust the seasonings for this to work.
No Cream Creamed Spinach

2 pounds baby spinach, washed and cleaned
2 tablespoons olive oil + 1 tsp butter
4 shallots, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Blanch half  the spinach in salted, boiling water. Immediately, “shock” the blanched spinach in a bowl of iced water. Drain and squeeze out the excess water then puree in a blender and set aside. I added 4 Tbsp water for a smoother texture.
In a large skillet, sweat the shallots and garlic until translucent. Add the rest of the spinach leaves. Toss and sauté until wilted then fold in the spinach puree. Make sure to season with salt and pepper.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

70th Wedding Anniversary

He was 19, a high school senior.  She was 15, a freshman.  One morning, he saw her in the school bus.  He said to himself, "She's the one I'm going to marry."  That was in August. By December, they were wed.  Fast forward, 70 years later, 8 children (5 girls, 3 boys), numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great, great  grandchildren (a total of 94 descendants and still counting), they're still together..... celebrating their 70th Wedding Anniversary.  He's 89, she's 85, still smiling, joking and very much in love! 

To start the year, before church service, we had a small cake and punch reception for a dear, dear couple in our church. What a wonderful example of love and faithfulness! Happy Anniversary Steve and Mavis!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Healthy Mediterranean Foods

Last week, I was reading an article from the Mayo Clinic about the Mediterranean diet. The cuisine of Crete, much of Greece and southern Italy is rich in olive oil, whole grain, fresh fruits, vegetables and  legumes combined with moderate consumption of nuts, cheese and yogurt, fish and red wine. This healthy cuisine is linked to higher levels of HDL (high density lipoproteins) known also as "good cholesterol" and reduced levels of  low density lipoprotein (LDL) or "bad cholesterol". 

It's focus is not to limit total fat intake but to make wise choices about the types of fat we eat.  Healthy fats are olive oil (monounsaturated fats), canola oil, flax seed oil, nut oil, soybean oil and fish oil (these are polyunsaturated fats containing omega-3-fatty acids).  Many believe omega-3 fatty acids improve learning in kids, reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, enhance immunity, and reduce the risk of heart disease. 

Edamame and chickpeas are my fav beans, mung bean is Teen's and Hubby can't get enough of legumes so I was so excited to receive a package consisting of chickpea salad, pita chips, several kinds of dips from Cedar's Mediterranean Foods. I'm supposed to try out their award-winning products and give them my honest opinion.  What a healthy way to start the year right! 

I cut up red and green bell peppers into "boats" to serve the spinach dip and chickpea salad.  Normally, most recipes for spinach dip uses cream cheese or sour cream and mayonnaise but Cedar's Spinach Dip was made with Greek strained yogurt.  It was very creamy.  It was also a hit when I shared the rest to my friends at Coffee Klatch next day.  They enjoyed the creaminess and balance of flavors of both spinach dip and Cedar's Artichoke Spinach Hommus with Ritz crackers but hands-down favorite was definitely the spinach dip.  I could not taste artichokes in the hommus but Kim felt that you really don't want a strong artichoke flavor to dominate.

Cedar's Chickpea Salad with edamame, chickpeas, green and red peppers, carrots, dried cranberries, rosemary, cumin, vinegar, garlic and black pepper had a lovely flavor. It was not too acidic and no ingredient overpowered the rest. Hubby felt it needed a bit more salt but I liked it a lot.

My plan was to bring the Roasted Garlic Artichoke Salsa and Baked Pita Chips to the Coffee Klatch. Teen wanted to try them right away so they never made it. Teen usually loves his salsa with lots of heat from jalapenos so I was surprised he liked Cedar's comparably tame salsa.  He says the distinct flavors of tomatoes, cilantro, roasted garlic, celery and lime juice came through and despite its tameness, the flavors were addicting!