Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Gai Lan with Garlic and Oyster Sauce

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Gai lan is a Chinese broccoli served mostly in Cantonese cooking. The flower buds and stalks are both eaten. The recipe I’m about to show you can be used as a universal way of stir-frying any vegetable; you can use this for green beans, spinach, bok choy, choy sum, snow pea leaves, Chinese cabbage, etc. Gai lan has a slightly bitter flavor, and that’s why we cook it in garlic and oyster sauce.

I know, I’m using a non-stick wok. I look like a total amateur, with no authentic Chinese cookware. I gave my real wok away when I moved out of my apartment years ago, and never got a new one, due to laziness.

This is a fairly easy recipe. It actually shouldn’t be a recipe at all; after you do it once, you’ll always remember how to do it.

Gai Lan with Garlic and Oyster Sauce (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of gai lan, washed and patted dry
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 Tbsp corn oil
  • salt
  • 2 Tbsp oyster sauce

*You will need tongs and a wok

Quick Directions:

1) Soak the gai lan in a big tub of water for a few minutes. Pat dry; the water on the gai lan will make the oil splatter, so the dryer the better.

2) Heat oil in a wok on high. Immediately after you drop the garlic in, put the gai lan in. Use a lid as a shield from splattering oil.

3) Using tongs, flip the gai lan from bottom to top, so all the leaves are coated with oil. Sprinkle salt over the leaves, this will flavor it plus force the water out of the vegetable.

4) Put a lid on it, turn heat down to medium. Cook for 3-4 minutes.

5) When it is done, the gai lan should be a vibrant green, and the stalks should be tender and crisp. You can put the oyster sauce in now, or drizzle it on top when you serve it.

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Illustrated Directions:

1) Soak the gai lan in a big tub of water for a few minutes. Trust me, if you saw my post on salad earlier, the state of gai lan is worse, given that you don’t purchase it pre-packaged in a fancy container. Pat dry; the water on the gai lan will make the oil splatter, so the dryer the better.

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2) Heat oil in a wok on high.

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3) Immediately after you drop the garlic in, put the gai lan in. It will splatter (no matter how much you dried the leaves), so use a lid as a shield.

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4) Using tongs, flip the gai lan from bottom to top, so all the leaves are coated with oil. Sprinkle salt over the leaves, this will flavor it plus force the water out of the vegetable.

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5) Put a lid on it, turn heat down to medium. Cook for 3-4 minutes.

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6) When it is done, the gai lan should be a vibrant green, and the stalks should be tender and crisp. You can put the oyster sauce in now, or drizzle it on top when you serve it.

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See how easy that was?

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Please wash your salad.

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I know that when I’m watching chefs on TV prepare food without washing things, I cringe.  Like plucking herbs off a plant and putting them right into a salad, dirt ‘n all. I know it’s because they’re on camera and they are in a make believe world where everything is perfect and clean. 

And I’m worried my salad at the restaurant isn’t being washed either. On top of many other things I worry about at restaurants.  It doesn’t matter if the bag of salad you purchased says triple washed, you should still wash it, because even a little particle of bacteria can multiply exponentially in that bag. Especially in raw foods nowadays.

Paranoid yet? You will be, just as I am.

So I washed a colander of salad under the faucet. This is enough washing for most of us. Then I decided to see how much dirt still remained on the leaves.

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I soaked the leaves in a big bowl of water for a few minutes, swishing it around.

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Then I put the leaves back in the colander, and this was what was left over.

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I mean, it’s really not that big of a deal. I’m still alive. My husband is still alive. I never got sick eating my own salads I made at home.  But I don’t know many people who wash fruit before consuming it. So I wonder who even washes their salad at all.

Salmon with Mango Salsa Coating

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Wow. Only 5 ingredients. The great thing about this mango salsa is it keeps the salmon so moist when it is baked altogether. This is an adapted recipe from my free Costco cookbook. Hahah. The only thing I changed was I added mango and removed cumin. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves, make this a little less wordy, wrap it up and enjoy my Friday morning.

Salmon with Warm Mango Salsa Coating (serves 2)

Ingredients:

  • 2 (6 oz.) salmon fillets
  • 1/2 cup salsa, drained
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1 mango, cubed
  • 3 Tbsp. chicken broth

*Double ingredients for 4 servings.

Quick Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2) Mix mayo, drained salsa, and cubes of mango in a bowl.

3) Cover surface of baking pan with thin layer of chicken broth. Place salmon fillets on, and slather mango salsa coating on top.

4) Bake for 20 minutes. Serve.

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Illustrated Directions:

1) Gather ingredients for salmon coating. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

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2) Use a strainer to filter out unwanted salsa juices.

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3) Collect 1/2 cup of drained salsa.

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4) Put mayo and salsa together.

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5) Score squares on mangoes. Make smaller squares for smaller cubes. Pop em inside out.

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6) I used a little cheese spreader to take my mango cubes off the peel.

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7) Mix mangoes, mayo and salsa together.

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8) Pour about 3 Tbsp. chicken broth into small baking pan with lip. Or if you’re using a larger pan, pour enough broth to cover the surface.

 

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9) Slather on mango salsa coating on surface of salmon fillets.

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10) Bake for 20 minutes, uncovered.

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11) Take out of oven, and enjoy!  We eat like this allllllllllll the time (not really).

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Whoever says my husband doesn’t eat well, I will punch in the face. HE ALWAYS EATS WELL. Sometimes I think that’s the only reason he married me. Or maybe because I pour him a nice big glass of wine after work every night. Keep him all relaxed and happy.

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 Just to prove the coating keeps this salmon moist, take a look!

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Going….

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Going………

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Gone. :)

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Enjoy your weekends everyone.

Thai Sticky Coconut Rice with Mango

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I

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LOVE

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MANGOES. I love them so much I make artistic (stupid)  flower patterns with them and take their picture.

Words to go with this dessert: Refreshing. Or Coconuttiness. Or Mangolicious.

Mangoes are my favorite fruit. And I’m quite a fruity person. I like the smoothness in their taste, and that subtle sweetness when they are at their peak of perfection. And what better way to accompany them than with coconut? This sticky rice has an ooey gooey texture that binds the coconutty flavor of the milk it is cooked in. Most recipes say this takes an entire day to prepare, but I’m very impatient, and I don’t want to wait for my dessert. This takes about an hour. Because when I want it, I want it now (or within the hour). That’s what cravings are made for, instant (sort of) gratification.

Thai Sticky Coconut Rice and Mango Dessert (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sweet rice (package will say sweet, glutinous, or sticky – all are correct)
  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • 2 ripe mangoes, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • salt
  • coconut flakes
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch with 2 tsp. water, mixed into a paste

Directions:

1) Soak one cup of rice with one cup of water for 20 minutes.

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2) After 20 minutes, add 3/4 cup water, 1/4 cup coconut milk, pinch of salt, and 1 Tbsp. brown sugar to the rice. Mix thoroughly.

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3) Cook in rice cooker until it clicks off. Let steam with the cover on for 5-10 minutes. If you do not have a rice cooker, simmer in a pot on the stove for 20 minutes or until the water absorbs into the rice.

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4) Use a small pot to prepare the sauce. Add remaining coconut milk, pinch of salt, 1 tsp. vanilla and handful of coconut flakes. Obviously I have a rediculously enormous bag of coconut flakes, but that’s just because I wanted to show it off. Just use a handful.

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5) Cook on medium low for 5 minutes, stirring consistently. Do not boil. Stir in the cornstarch and water mixture to thicken the sauce, take the pot off heat. It sure smells co-co-nutty.

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6) To cut cubes out of the mangoes, cut the two largest surface areas parallel to the mango seed. And score squares with knife as seen below.

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7) Invert (flip) the slice so it pops out like so. Spoon the cubes out into a bowl.

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8) To prepare dessert, pile the sticky rice into a pyramid (which I didn’t do a good job of) in the middle of a bowl. Ladle a generous amount of coconut sauce on top. Plop mango slices around the rice.

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9) Eat.

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Italian Meatballs

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This recipe was adapted from a cookbook a friend gave me, ‘Journey into Cooking’, by Maria Gray. It’s even an autographed copy. There is more content in this book than any illustrated, commercial cookbook has nowadays, with 270 pages with 1-4 recipes per page.

Next time you go to the bookstore or Amazon.com to purchase the next celebrity chef’s new cookbook, go to the bargain section and look for an old-school, un-illustrated, un-trendy cookbook someone cared to pass on to you. You’ll find treasures.

Italian Meatballs (serves 8-10)

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup real bread crumbs (bread torn by hand)
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup processed bread crumbs
  • 1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
  • 4 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 quart tomato sauce

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Soak real bread crumbs in a cup of milk.

2) In large bowl, mix all ingredients except tomato sauce together. If you’re not afraid to get dirty, use your hands to mix. It is finished mixing when you get that springy, bouncy texture from the meatball mixture.

3) Gently shape meatball mixture into balls (little smaller than golf ball size), but do not handle them much, or they will be very tough after baking.

4) Cook sauce in pot over low heat.  Lightly drizzle olive oil to grease 2 cookie sheets. Bake for 20 minutes, turning over once.

5) Spoon into sauce, simmer for 5 minutes – 1 hour. Serve over pasta.

 

*Substitutions/Tips:

- 1/4 cup sour cream instead of 1/3 cup milk

- The longer the meatballs simmer in the sauce, the more it enhances the flavor/saltiness.  You may want to add a little more salt to the meatball mixture if you don’t want them to cook in the sauce for a long time.

Chicken Salad with Red Grapes and Walnuts

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This chicken salad is surprisingly delicious with a unique flavor combination of sweet red grapes and walnuts. Think of Waldorf salad, but instead of apples, use grapes. And add chicken. Ok, so the only thing this has in common with Waldorf is the walnuts. But you get the idea. It is delicious on a bed of salad greens, or in a sandwich, or on crackers. Use a croissant if you’re not afraid of a heart attack.

Chicken Salad with Red Grapes and Walnuts (serves 8)

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. onion, minced
  • 1 small bunch of red grapes, chopped
  • 1 handful of walnuts, chopped
  • 1 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1) If you have the time, to get really juicy chicken breasts, cook on medium low heat in a pot of half chicken broth/half water for 1.5 – 2 hours. Take out of pot and let rest for few minutes, then chop. Or, use cooked leftover chicken chunks. Place chicken cubes in bowl.

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2) Trim bottom of 2 washed stalks of celery. Cut thin vertical strips.

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3) Finely chop. Add to bowl.

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4) Add minced onion to bowl.

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5) I’m not being accurate with saying ‘1 small bunch of grapes’. But this is how much I used. Chop into quarter slices. Add into bowl.

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6) Add walnuts to bowl.

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You can see the bottom of my wine glass in this picture. Yes, please drink wine when you make something as simple as chicken salad.

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7) Add one cup mayonnaise to salad. I used Hellmann’s made with Canola, it tastes just as good as regular, and about half the calories. Or you can use the mayo of your preference.

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8) Squeeze half a lemon into salad. Mix with spoon, and salt/pepper to taste.

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9) Serve as a sandwich, on a bed of salad, on crackers, etc. Refrigerate unused portions in airtight container.

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Soooooooooooooooo gooooooooooooood. I will never make chicken salad without grapes again.

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Roasted Asparagus

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I don’t think we’re in Asparagus Season quite yet.  I should really google it up and determine when the perfect time to buy these are…OR I could go to the local farmers’ market and see what they have. Oh that’s right, I have, and they have nothing yet. Since I live in Rochester, NY (more specifically, small city 8 hours north of New York City, or neighboring city of Buffalo, NY) we’ve just recently defrosted from our 8 month winter. We all joke around here that in Rochester, there are only 2 seasons, winter and construction. The road construction is to fix the large potholes we take as a souvenir from winter each year.

I’m drifting away from the subject. What was I talking about? Do I even know if asparagus is grown locally here anyway? I should do my research before I type. I will later. But I bought these at the supermarket for $1.50. They were the big, thick stalks. To me, they are a little older than I would’ve liked. The younger ones seem to be less stringy/chewy. I will have to make them again after I find better stalks. But I can still offer the recipe. It’s really a non-recipe recipe, it’s so easy to make it doesn’t require much direction. Wow, I really dragged this one out, didn’t I?

Here is a helpful link for FAQ about asparagus.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • olive oil
  • ground sea salt
  • lemon (optional)
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2) Trim bottom of stalks (at least half an inch). Wash and pat dry with paper towel. On roasting pan, spread asparagus out in single layer. Drizzle olive oil over asparagus, and swish the pan back and forth to coat evenly. Salt them.

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3) Roast for 10 minutes. They should come out a vibrant green, and look a little skinnier like the pic below.

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4) Serve with a squirt of lemon, or sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Or both. Or none.

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Roasted Rack of Lamb with Moroccan Spice

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Aren’t you gorgeous? You’re a really attractive hunk of meat. And it’s okay for a hunk of meat like you to have a little fat around the edges, that makes it more natural. Wait, what are we talking about? What are YOU talking about? I was talking about the rack of lamb. Yea, that’s right, I called you a rack of lamb. And if I may say, that’s a nice rack you have.

Innuendos aside, this recipe was fairly easy. No, I did not make my own Moroccan spice, because I didn’t want to spend the money on 9 different bottles of spice to blend together. But please feel free to cheat, by adding one fresh spice to give the recipe an extra fresh kick to it.  Add 1 tsp. of fresh mint, or fresh parsley if you have it.

I purchased a bottle of Moroccan Rub, from Pampered Chef, a few months ago. It worked quite well, and had a lot of flavor.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 rack of lamb (7-8 ribs)
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. Moroccan spice

Directions:

1) In a bowl, mix spice into olive oil, making a paste.

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2) Brush paste onto meat, refrigerate for 1 hour.

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3) Place rack of lamb on a raised cooking rack in a roasting pan, bone side down.

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4) Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Roast for 25 minutes. Take out of oven and insert meat thermometer in meatiest part of rack. The temp usually rises 5-10 degrees out of the oven. 125 degrees for rare, and 135 degrees for med. rare. Cover loosely with aluminum foil for 5 – 10 minutes before cutting. That way the juices stay inside the meat. Serves 3-4.

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Chocolate covered strawberries

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I wish I had some better pictures, but I had to use a flash, and I don’t like using a flash on food photos. These chocolate covered strawberries were so easy to make, I don’t even want to write down directions. I found recipes on-line that stated the level of difficulty as INTERMEDIATE! Intermediate to what, boiling water? I didn’t know what made it intermediate, and I started to panic thinking I did something terribly wrong, maybe I was missing a step that involved doing a hand-stand as I dipped the strawberry into the chocolate. I don’t know. They tasted the same as any other chocolate dipped strawberry I overpaid for at a fancy supermarket.

My husband helped me dip these, and as you can see, he likes his chocolate to cover his strawberries like a conservative turtleneck rather than a formal tuxedo.  But I guess he wanted the chocolate to strawberry ratio equal.

Level: BEGINNER-IF YOU CAN BOIL WATER YOU CAN DO THIS.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pints of strawberries
  • 8 oz. dark chocolate chips

Directions:

1) Wash and completely dry each strawberry with a paper towel.

2) Line a dish/pan with parchment or wax paper.

2) In a liquid measuring cup, melt chocolate chips in the microwave, about a 1 – 1.5 minutes. Take out of microwave, stir until top surface of chips are completely melted.

3) Holding stem of strawberry, dip into cup of chocolate. Twist the strawberry out of chocolate, place on wax paper.

4) Let cool for an hour.

Banana Cake with Chantilly Filling and Cream Cheese Frosting

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Okay, so I make cake like a 4 year old would. I haven’t made a cake since I was practically 4 years old, because I like salty things more than sugary things. Don’t mind the salt and pepper shakers in my photo, I didn’t salt and pepper my cake! I just forgot to remove them in my photo shoot.  This recipe can be used for muffins, or bread, but I decided to wing it and make a 2 layer cake with it. I thought, bananas + cream cheese + coconut = delicious. Chantilly frosting is what has the coconut in it. Let’s get started on my sloppy journey through cake-making.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 6 bananas
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup melted butter
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • Chantilly frosting for filling (recipe here)
  • cream cheese frosting (recipe here)

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 2 9 inch cake pans.

2) Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl.

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3) In another bowl, mix bananas, sugar, eggs and butter together with a potato masher.

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Should have this consistency when mixed together.

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4) Stir banana mixture into flour mixture.

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Should have this consistency when mixed.

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5) Pour batter equally into the 2 cake pans. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

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6) Insert toothpick into middle to see if it comes out clean.  Cool thoroughly.

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7) Using a knife, gently loosen the sides of the cake, and put a sheet pan upside down on the top of the cake. Using both hands, flip both pans upside down.

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Voila. Do the same with another sheet pan if you have an extra one, or move the first cake to another dish.

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8) Keep the cake on the sheet pan if you’re going to make a mess with the frosting, and slide the entire 2 layered frosted cake into fancy dish with 2 spatulas after you are done decorating.  I got ahead of myself and moved the first layer into a fancy dish that I had to clean off afterwords. Slather on Chantilly filling starting in the center and working towards the edges. Don’t get filling too close to the sides like I have. When the second layer squishes down, the filling oozes out and makes a mess.

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Filling too close to edges.

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9) With your hands, gently place the top layer cake, flat side down onto first layer.

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10) Using a rubber spatula, slather cream cheese frosting all over cake. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, serve.

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