Friday, November 26, 2010

Spice Rubbed Turkey with Cognac Gravy

IMG_4596aI made this turkey for Thanksgiving and it was a huge hit, everyone adored the flavor and it was super moist and juicy.  This recipe will be repeated again and again.  For those thinking that something might not look right with the picture, I roast my bird dark meat up as I find that roasting it that way produces a much moister and juicier bird. 

Spice Rubbed Turkey with Cognac Gravy (Adapted from Bon Appétit November 2006)

*****Be sure to rub the turkey with the spice mixture at least one day if not two before roasting*****

1 (18- to 20-pound) turkey; neck, heart, and gizzard reserved for giblet broth

5 TBS ground coriander
1 TBS ground cumin
1 TBS ground black pepper
1 tsp ground roasted cinnamon
2 TBS coarse kosher salt
3 TBS smoked sweet paprika
5 1/2 cups chicken broth

Giblet broth:
5 cups chicken broth
2 lbs turkey necks

Giblet gravy:
1 cup dry white vermouth
1/2 cup Cognac
Wondra flour
Salt & pepper to taste

Mix coriander, cumin, black pepper, cinnamon, salt and paprika together. Rinse and dry the turkey well.  Then set the turkey on a rack set in large roasting pan; tuck wings under. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon spice mixture in main cavity of the turkey and spread the remaining spice mixture all over turkey skin; tie legs together to hold shape. Turn turkey breast side down.  Refrigerate uncovered for 24 to 48 hours.

Before roasting let turkey stand 1 hour at room temperature.

Set rack at lowest position in oven and preheat to 450°F. Pour 3 cups of chicken broth into pan with turkey. Cook for 20 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.  Roast turkey 1 hour and then pour 2 cups broth over turkey. Continue roasting until thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast registers 161°F, about 1 hour longer.

Meanwhile, prepare giblet broth.  Place the turkey necks as well as the reserved turkey neck, heart, and gizzard in medium saucepan; add 5 cups chicken broth.  Simmer 1 hour. Strain and then skim any fat from surface of giblet broth. 

Once the turkey reaches temperature, transfer turkey to platter, tent loosely with foil and let stand 30 minutes (internal temperature of turkey will rise 5 to 10 degrees).

For giblet gravy:  Skim off the fat from the surface of the pan juices. Place roasting pan over 2 burners set at medium-high heat. Add vermouth and Cognac to pan and bring to boil, scraping up browned bits.  Sprinkle in about 1/4 cup of Wondra and whisk.  As the pan juices start to thicken whisk in the giblet broth and bring to a boil.  Add more Wondra if necessary until gravy coats the back of a spoon or to the gravy consistency you desire.  Salt & pepper to taste.  

Carve turkey and serve with gravy.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Walnuts

IMG_4607I am not a brussels sprouts lover but for some reason this recipe on Pinch My Salt just caught my eye and I decided to give it a try.  Wow am I ever glad that I made this as it was delicious and every non-brussels sprouts lover who tried it Thanksgiving absolutely loved it.

Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Walnuts (Adapted from here)

2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon grape seed oil
6 slices thick cut bacon
1 pound brussels sprouts, trimmed and shredded
1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts
kosher salt, to taste
fresh ground black pepper, to taste

In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, sugar, and oil; set aside.  In a large skillet, cook bacon until crisp.  Remove bacon, cut or crumble into pieces, and set aside. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of drippings in pan (if there aren’t enough drippings to equal 2 tbsp, add a little butter or oil).  Heat drippings over medium-high then add shredded brussels sprouts.  Cook, stirring constantly, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until just tender.  Remove from heat and stir in bacon, walnuts, and dressing.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve warm

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Apple Cranberry Slaw


Apple Cranberry Slaw

One bag cole slaw cabbage mix with carrots
1 large Fuji apple, peeled, cored and chopped
2/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries, chopped
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/2 can jellied cranberry sauce
2 TBS mayonnaise
2 tsp honey
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 TBS balsamic vinegar
Dash salt, or more to taste
Dash black pepper, or more to taste

In a large bowl, combine slaw, apple, dried cranberries, and almonds. Toss to mix and set aside.
To make the dressing, combine cranberry sauce, mayo, and honey mustard in a small bowl. Stir until smooth. Add vinegar, salt, pepper, and 2 tbsp. water. Mix well.
Add dressing to the large bowl and mix thoroughly. Chill or serve immediately. If you like, season to taste with additional salt and pepper.


Monday, August 16, 2010

BBQ Octopus


BBQ Octopus

4 pound cleaned octopus
1.5 liters red wine
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
3 TBS soy sauce
1/2 cup sweet chilli sauce
1/2 cup ketchup

Soak and rinse octopus until the water runs clear.  Cut off the head and then cut the body with each of the tentacles so that you have the eight separate tentacles each with some attached body meat.  Place all the octopus pieces along with the red wine and balsamic vinegar into a pot and bring up to a simmer (do not allow to boil).  Simmer for 1 hour.  Remove the octopus pieces to a board and working piece by piece and using two towels, hold each piece with one towel while using the second towel to rub off the skin and suckers which will all come off very easily.  Place the cleaned octopus pieces back into the pot with the simmering vinegar/wine liquid and simmer for an additional 1 – 1.5 hours until the octopus meat is very tender. 

In a separate bowl mix together the soy sauce, sweet chilli sauce and ketchup.  Add the cooked octopus and toss to coat with the sauce.  At this point I covered the bowl and refrigerated overnight but you could use it right away.  The next day I brought the octopus to room temperature and then quickly cooked it over a very hot grill, just allowing the sauce to get a little cooked and sticky while just warming the meat through. 

Cut into bite sized pieces and serve with picks.


Friday, July 30, 2010

Melon Agua Fresca

IMG_2031Our garden is producing gorgeous, sweet, delicious melons so Maisie and I have been enjoying this wonderfully refreshing drink.

Melon Agua Fresca 

1 perfectly ripe melon, skin & seeds removed and cut in chunks (I used an early gala as that’s what came out of the garden today)
6 packets (or to taste) stevia(or sweetener of your choice)
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon or lime juice
2 cups water

fresh mint sprigs for garnish

Place half of all the ingredients (except the garnish mint sprigs) in a blender and process until very smooth. Pour into a pitcher and then repeat with the other half of the ingredients. Chill until very cold. Before serving give it a stir and then pour over ice to serve and garnish with a sprig of mint.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Vanilla Scented Melon Soup

IMG_2013I know that it’s not much to look at but it sure is delicious and with all the melons we’re pulling from our garden, it’s a great way to use them in a different manner.  Maisie has enjoyed just drinking this from a cup like juice even though it has a thicker consistency.

Vanilla Scented Melon Soup

6 cups small pieces of melon (I used an early gala because that’s what came out of the garden and it tastes like a honeydew)
3 fresh mint leaves
1 teaspoon Vanilla Bean Paste
1/8 teaspoon salt or to taste
fresh sprigs of mint garnish

Place all ingredients except the garnish mint sprigs in a blender and process until completely smooth. Chill overnight or until very cold. Serve garnished with a sprig of mint.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Watermelon Tomato Gazpacho

IMG_2006I’m still dragging and haven’t been feeling well since our return from Utah and I’ve been craving soup but with the heat index over 100F a nice refreshing no-cook summer soup with fruit and veggies straight from our garden is just what the doctor ordered.  Oh my gosh this soup is beyond wonderful and I found myself just pouring some from the big pitcher in the fridge and drinking it without all the added fancy little bits of extra diced watermelon, cucumber & tomato.  This is just so delicious I can’t stop drinking it.  I love that everything other than the onion and garlic came straight from our garden so it couldn’t be fresher.  This is one recipe that I could enjoy all summer long and once our garden is done for the season I’ll be having watermelon tomato gazpacho withdrawal…but something to look forward to next summer!

Watermelon Tomato Gazpacho 

6 cups small diced seedless watermelon and liquid
1/2 cucumber, diced
2 very ripe medium tomatoes, diced
1 clove garlic
2 TBS minced sweet onion
1/2 jalapeno, seeded
10 basil leaves
1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil

Extra diced watermelon, cucumber & tomato as well as basil leaves for garnish.

Put first eight ingredients into a blender and process until very smooth.  Strain the liquids through a Chinois and then season to taste with salt & pepper (if you want your gazpacho with more texture just skip the straining step).  Chill over night or until very cold and then pour into serving bowls and garnish with the extra diced watermelon, cucumber, tomato and a fresh basil leaf.


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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Zucchini & Spinach Lasagna

This is what happens when the garden is overflowing with zucchini and spinach, a delicious and wonderful lasagna.

IMG_1804Zucchini & Spinach Lasagna

This recipe makes two deep half pans.

  • 1 (12 oz) package Oven ready lasagna (no need to boil noodles or fresh or regular lasagna noodles but omit the water for fresh or pre-boiled noodles)
  • 2 lbs. Ricotta cheese (skim, part-skim, whole...doesn't matter)
  • 4 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 large bunch of fresh basil, chopped
  • salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 3 large zucchini, sliced lengthwise about finger thickness
  • 2 cups fresh chopped spinach
  • 8 cups homemade Bolognese sauce (meat sauce) or other very thick sauce of your choice
  • 2 cups water (need to add to the sauce because I use the no-boil noodles and need the extra liquid but omit if you use fresh or pre-boil your noodles)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In medium bowl combine Ricotta, 1 cup Mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, eggs, and about 2/3 of the basil, a couple of grinds of both salt and pepper. Mix well.

In another medium bowl combine the spaghetti sauce and water. Mix well.

In each pan: Spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce, place 1/4 of the package (4 pieces) of lasagna noodles over the sauce in each pan, spread 1/4 of the Ricotta cheese mixture over lasagna; top with 1/4 of the chopped spinach followed by 1/4 of the sliced zucchini. Add a layer of your meat sauce topped with 1/4 of the remaining Mozzarella and 1/4 of the remaining Parmesan. Repeat layering once, lasagna noodle, Ricotta mixture, spinach, zucchini, sauce and finishing with the Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.

Wrap the lasagna tightly with heavy duty or a double layer of foil which you tent up a bit so that it doesn't lay on and stick to the cheese.

Bake for 75 minutes covered or until the lasagna is fork tender. Remove the foil and if cheese is not golden and brown, keep foil off and put lasagna back in the oven for 10 minutes or so until it reaches the desired color.

Let stand for at least 10 minutes before cutting and serving.


Don't forget to enter my Bento book giveaway over on Maisie Eats Bento.

Sharing this recipe with many of the wonderful blogs listed in my side bar blog hop list.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Bento book GIVEAWAY!!!!

I was recently contacted by the Marketing and Social Media Coordinator for Quirk Books and she asked if I would be interested in receiving a review copy of Yum-Yum Bento Box: Fresh Recipes for Adorable Lunches, by Crystal Watanabe and Maki Ogawa. I quickly wrote back and let her know that I would love to receive the book BUT that I wanted to offer that book to one of my readers as I had already purchased a copy, loved it and wanted to share the love.  I have been a long time follower of Crystal's blog and a more recent follower of Maki's blog and as I can't get enough of their bento ideas and instruction on how to make super cute, fun and nutritious bentos, I couldn't wait to get my hands on the book.

I was thrilled when my book arrived (the one that I ordered and actually paid for!) as it is filled with over fifty photos of completed bento boxes, each with an ingredients list, step-by-step directions and even recipes.  The pictures teach the reader how to simply craft their food into an array of fun shapes from chicks, octopi, caterpillars, walruses, cars, and frogs to flowers, princesses, angels, bumblebees, kitty cats, ladybugs and even Little Red Riding Hood and bears.  There's a wonderful section on the boxes, tools and accessories needed and used to make the bentos as well as a shopping guide.  One of my favorite little things in the book is a two page spread on the ingredients for happy faces. Basically it's pictures and descriptions of ingredients, shapes and what to use to create the heads, eyes, noses, mouths, cheeks, ears, hair and even accessories for all the adorable food people and animals anyone might want to add to their bento.

Crystal and Maki put together a great book for anyone who likes playing with their food, wants to learn how to make adorable lunches for both children and adults and even those who just need some new ideas and inspiration.  I think one of the best features of the book is that it's simple, well laid out, with plenty of step-by-step photos and you don't need to be a cook or an artist to re-create the bentos.

Would you like to win a copy of  Yum-Yum Bento Box: Fresh Recipes for Adorable Lunches? If so, it's easy peasy, just go to this post for all the details.

Good luck!!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Zucchini Lemon Cookies

IMG_1734We are loving all the zucchini I am harvesting from the garden and so far all the recipes using the fresh zucchini have been a hit.  Maisie asked for some cookies so in another attempt to use some of the zucchini and get some extra veggies into all of us, I decided to make cookies.  These cookies were delicate, delicious, just a touch sweet and loved by everyone.

Zucchini Lemon Cookies

For the Cookie:

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar 
  • 1 egg
  • zest of two lemons
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 1/2 cups flour 
  • 1 tsp baking powder 
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups shredded unpeeled zucchini
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts 

For Glaze:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream together the butter and sugar. Add egg the egg, lemon zest and juice and mix well. Add flour, baking powder & salt and stir well to mix. Stir in the zucchini and nuts. Using a 2 Tablespoon scoop, scoop out cookies onto Silpat or parchment lined cookie sheets. Bake for 10 minutes until bottoms are just slightly golden.

While cookies are baking, stir together the glaze ingredients, sugar and lemon juice, until smooth.

Once the cookies are finished baking, remove to a wire cooling rack and while still hot, frost and add the decorative sprinkles then allow to cool completely.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Zucchini Chocolate Chunk Walnut Bread

IMG_1738We have been pulling zucchini from our garden like crazy so I wanted to use it to make something sweet and delicious and also a bit healthy.  This Zucchini Chocolate Chunk Walnut Bread hit the spot and was a perfect way to use up some of the zucchini and also get a little bit of veggies into all of us.  This bread was moist, delicious and not too sweet.  We really loved the addition of the chocolate chips and nuts through out the bread.

Zucchini Chocolate Chunk Walnut Bread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat two 4 1/2-by-8 1/2-inch loaf pans with cooking spray. Add the zucchini, sugars, oil, and eggs to a large bowl and mix until combined. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Fold in nuts, chocolate chunks and extract. Divide the batter between the loaf pans and sprinkle 1 Tablespoon of the decorative sugar over each loaf. Bake until a tester inserted in the middle of each loaf comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Cool 10 minutes on wire cooling rack. Invert to release loaf and then turn loaf right-side up and cool completely on rack before slicing.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Zucchini Fritters

  • 4 cups grated zucchini
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 medium Vidalia onion, minced
  • 3/4 cup flour 
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper to taste
  • peanut oil or oil of your choice

Combine all of the ingredients except the oil, in a large bowl.  Stir to combine well removing any large lumps.  Heat a very thin coating of oil in a large cast iron skillet, over medium-high heat. Using an 1/8-cup measure, pour out a few cakes so not to over crowd your pan when they spread. Cook 2-3 minutes on each side until lightly browned. Drain on paper towels and while still hot, sprinkle with some additional salt & pepper to taste.

Personally I love these cold the next morning for breakfast, yum!!  Since they are so moist with the zucchini, they are great reheated so you can make them in advance.   Top with a little sour cream & caviar for a fancy appetizer.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Campanelle with Pesto Labneh and Balsamic Glaze

IMG_1336 Recently I saw a recipe that really interested me but because I can never leave well enough alone, I decided to add, subtract and do my own interpretation and though I've never tried the original recipe, I have to say that mine was a huge success.

Campanelle with Pesto Labneh and Balsamic Glaze

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
garlic powder
salt & pepper
2 pints grape tomatoes
1 cup whole garlic cloves
olive oil
1 lb. Campanella pasta or pasta of your choice
1 cup labneh*
1 cup basil pesto, extra oil drained off
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
balsamic glaze**

Pre-heat oven to 450F.

On a foil lined baking pan place the tomatoes and lightly dress with olive oil, salt & pepper. In a foil packet place the garlic cloves and dress lightly with olive oil, salt & pepper. Seal the foil around the garlic and place on a baking sheet. Roast the tomatoes and garlic until they start to caramelize, approximately 20 minutes for the tomatoes and 30 minutes for the garlic.

Lay chicken breasts on a baking sheet and season with garlic powder, salt & pepper. Bake for 20 minutes, until cooked through. Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing thinly.

Cook pasta according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, in a large bowl mix together the labneh, pesto, Parmesan-Reggiano, milk and salt & pepper to taste. Add the cooked pasta to the bowl and toss to cover with the pesto mix. Add the sliced chicken, tomatoes, garlic and pine nuts and lightly toss.

Place pasta in serving bowls and drizzle with balsamic glaze.


* You can substitute 1/2 cup cream cheese plus 1/2 cup of either sour cream or Greek yogurt for the labneh.

** To make your own balsamic glaze, place two cups of balsamic vinegar in a heavy bottomed pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and very slowly simmer, stirring occasionally and being careful not to let the mixture burn. Cook the vinegar until it reduces to approximately 1/2 cup and nicely coats the back of a spoon. Place into a container or squeeze bottle and place in the refrigerator. The glaze will keep for months in the refrigerator.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Chinese Five Spice Wings with Labneh & Cilantro Dipping Sauce

P5210040aWe adore hot and spicy wings and these with the combination of Chinese five-spice and cayenne are right up our alley.  They are easily made in the oven, which is great as I really don’t like frying, but they still come out nice and crispy.  The dipping sauce is a nice cool foil and because it’s dairy it helps cut the capsicum.
Chinese Five Spice Wings with Labneh & Cilantro Dipping Sauce
For dipping sauce:
  • 1/2 cup labneh*
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup Mayonnaise 
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 cup of finely minced cilantro
  • sea salt & ground pepper to taste
Pre-heat oven to 500F.

In a large bowl mix together the five spice powder, cayenne, salt & pepper. Add wing pieces and toss to coat until all the spices are attached to the wings. Lay the wings skin side up on an aluminum foil lined baking sheets and bake for 25-30 minutes.

While the wings are cooking, mix together all the dipping sauce ingredients and allow for the tastes to blend.

Serve the spicy wings with the cooling sauce.

* you can substitute 1/4 cup sour cream mixed with 1/4 cup cream cheese for the labneh.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Mulligatawny Soup

I asked Eammon what he wanted for his birthday this year and his response was Mulligatawny soup, so that's what he got. Always nice when the gift giver gets to enjoy the "gift" too! I know in the bowl that this soup doesn't look like much but trust me, it is delicious and has a really good kick to it but seeing that the name of the dish translates to "pepper water," it should have a bit of a kick!


Mulligatawny soup

2 TBS. olive oil
2 large onions, diced
6 large garlic cloves, minced
2 large carrots, diced
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and diced
1 TBS. Madras curry powder
1 TBS. Garam Masala
1 TBS. ground coriander
1 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. cayenne * (or to your taste/tolerance)
2 bay leaves
1 1/4 cups dried red lentils
12 cups homemade or low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast, small dice
1 13.5-oz can lite coconut milk
3 TBS fresh lemon juice
1 TBS fresh ground pepper
salt to taste

Optional: cooked Basmati rice

In a large pot heat the olive oil and then add the onions, garlic, carrots and apples. Sauté until everything is softened, about 15 minutes. Add the Madras curry powder, Garam Masala, coriander, turmeric, cayenne and bay leaves. Mix well and cook for about a minute allowing the spices to toast a little. Add the red lentils and stir until coated with the onion/spice mixture. Add the chicken broth, stir well and simmer until the lentils are very soft, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the coconut milk, stir to combine and bring everything to a boil. Add the diced chicken, stir to incorporate and reduce heat allowing chicken to just cook through, about 2 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice & pepper and season to taste with salt.

This can be served as is, or over some cooked Basmati rice.


* We like our food a bit on the spicy side and the heat will increase the next day so add the cayenne to your taste & tolerance.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Rum-Cured Salmon Summer Rolls

I purchased a gorgeous salmon filet and I wanted to try something a little different so I decided to try and cure it.  The process is so very simple and the results, well all I can say is that everyone who tasted the salmon wanted more, more and more!  We enjoyed the rum-cured salmon for breakfast with eggs, as a snack on crackers with a bit of Crème fraiche, but our favorite way to eat the salmon was in these summer rolls.   These are a great appetizer or even a light lunch, either way they’re delicious!

IMG_8470Rum Cured Salmon Summer Rolls

To cure salmon:
1 cup (lightly packed) chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh ginger
3 TBS. Sichuan peppercorns, cracked
one 2-pound fresh salmon fillet with skin still attached (I use steelhead salmon)
1/3 cup dark rum

In a bowl, combine the cilantro, brown sugar, salt, ginger and Sichuan peppercorns.

Place the salmon in a large glass baking dish, skin side down. Drizzle the rum over the salmon and then press the cilantro mixture evenly over the fish.

Lay a piece of plastic wrap over the salmon, covering completely. Place a second, smaller baking dish or pan directly on top of the covered salmon and then place about 5-pounds of weight on top of that. Refrigerate for no less than 18 hours and no more than 24.

After salmon has cured, scrape off the curing mixture and discard. Using a sharp knife, cut the salmon into thin slices on the diagonal. Store the salmon for up to a week in a tightly sealed, air squeezed out, Ziplock bag.

To make the summer rolls:
Spring roll wrappers
thin slices of rum-cured salmon
Veggies of your choice but I used:
cucumber, seeded and sliced into 1/4-inch strips
carrot, peeled and julienned

Working one at a time, quickly soak the spring roll wrapper in a bowl of hot water until it just begins to soften, about 5 seconds and then place on a cutting board. On the lower half first lay a slice or two of the salmon, top with some spinach leaves, two or three cucumber strips and some carrots. Roll the part of the spring roll wrapper closest to you over the fillings and then fold in the sides before rolling the rest of the roll away from you until it's a nice tight roll.

Slice in half or eat whole.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Glass Noodle, Spicy Chicken and Spinach Salad

This salad was absolutely delicious and would be wonderful on a hot summer day. I also love that I was able to get everything prepared ahead of time and just toss it all together right before serving, a perfect salad for a gathering. I'm looking forward to having this again very soon.

IMG_8456Glass Noodle, Spicy Chicken and Spinach Salad 

3 oz. thin cellophane noodles
1 1/2 lbs. skinless, boneless chicken breast
5 TBS. medium sweet soy sauce
Shichimi togarashi, to taste
6 cups (loosely packed) fresh spinach leaves, thinly sliced
1 cup thinly sliced napa cabbage
1 medium unpeeled cucumber cut into matchsticks
1 bunch fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 small red onion, very thinly sliced
1 small fresh poblano chili, stemmed, seeded and finely minced
ginger dressing (recipe below)
1/4 cup white sesame seeds, toasted

Put the noodles into a bowl and cover with boiling water. Soak the noodles until softened and pliable, about 10 minutes. Drain well in a colander and rinse until cool. With a scissors or knife, cut the noodles a bit to make them a little shorter. Set aside.

Brush all sides of the chicken breasts with 3 TBS of the sweet soy sauce and season with the shichimi togarashi. Grill or broil until cooked. Remove, cool and cut into thin strips.

In a large bowl add the cooled noodles, spinach, napa cabbage, cilantro, red onion and poblano. Pour on enough dressing to coat and toss well. Top the salad with the sliced chicken. Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top and then drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sweet soy sauce and a bit more of the ginger dressing.

Ginger Dressing

1 medium carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup rice vinegar 
1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 TBS. chopped peeled fresh ginger
fruit from 1/2 of a lemon
1 TBS. ketchup
1/4 tsp. Shichimi togarashi
2 TBS. water
1/2 cup Grapeseed oil 

Put all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Chinese Whole Steamed Fish

IMG_8440I recently had this in a restaurant and totally loved it so I came home and recreated the dish so that we could enjoy it whenever we wanted.  The fish was moist, tender, delicate and beautifully flavored.  This dish may seem like a long process but it’s quite simple and oh-so worth the effort.

Chinese Whole Steamed Fish

1 2-1/2 to 3 pound whole red snapper, cleaned with scales, guts & gills removed

Aromatics for steaming:
4 scallions, cut in half crosswise
3-inch long piece of ginger, sliced in thin "coins"
1 medium bunch of cilantro
3 TBS Shaoxing wine or rice wine
salt & pepper

Soy sauce mixture:
2 tsp sesame oil
1/4 cup seasoned soy sauce for seafood (bottle will say "ideal for steamed fish")
3 TBS Shaoxing wine or rice wine
1 TBS rock sugar
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 chili pepper, thinly sliced into "coins"
4 TBS cilantro, roughly chopped

2 TBS peanut oil
2 scallions, cut into 2″ lengths
2-inch long piece of ginger, julienned

Clean the fish and pat dry. Season inside and out with salt and pepper. From the "Aromatics for steaming" take half of the scallions, ginger and cilantro and stuff inside the fish. Take the remaining half of the aromatics and place on a steamer tray. Place the fish on top of the aromatics.

Add 2-inches of water to a roasting pan or Dutch oven large enough to hold your fish. Bring the water to a boil then place your steamer tray with fish into the roaster and pour the Shaoxing wine over the fish. Cover pan with lid or foil. **IMPORTANT** Reduce the heat so that water is at a very low simmer. (If you steam the fish over a rolling boil the fish will fall apart and over cook.) Steam the fish for 24 minutes.

Check to see if the fish is done by checking the flesh near the top fin. If the flesh flakes easily then its done but if the flesh still sticks together it needs more time so cook in 1-2 minute intervals until done.

Towards the end of the steaming process, you’ll want to start preparing the soy sauce mixture. In a small pot heat the sesame oil, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine and rock sugar, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the black pepper, chili and cilantro and simmer for 30 seconds. When the fish is done steaming carefully lift the fish out and onto a serving platter discarding all of the cooked scallions, ginger and cilantro. Pour the hot soy sauce mixture over the fish.

In a separate small pan heat up the peanut oil until very hot. Add the ginger and scallions and fry for 15 seconds to pop the flavors. Pour the oil and herbs over the fish. You’ll hear a nice little sizzle as it brings all the flavors together and adds a nice sheen to the fish!


Monday, January 25, 2010


IMG_8006a When I lived up in Massachusetts there was this dive of a Greek restaurant in a not-so-good part of Brockton that I could not stay away from because they had the absolute best Moussaka that I have ever, EVAH had in my life.  I do remember friends and others ordering different items from the menu and while all were delicious I’m not sure that I ever ordered anything other than the Moussaka because it was my favorite and I looked forward to having it each and every time I ate there.  It’s been over a decade since I last lived in Massachusetts so I don’t remember the name of the restaurant nor do I know if it’s still around but I do remember the flavors and this recipe is exactly what I remember.

This recipe does take a bit of work but it is so worth the effort.  This recipe makes two large trays because after I make it I allow at least one of the baked trays to cool and set-up in the refrigerator over night and then I cut and freeze in individual portions.  To reheat I allow the frozen portion to defrost overnight in the refrigerator and then just heat in the microwave and it holds up very well.  My freezer is never without a few portions so when I have a Moussaka craving, I can easily satisfy it.


For the eggplant and potatoes:
6 large eggplants, (approx 5 lbs) partially peeled, so that when you cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices, skin will remain on the edges of the slices
2 large potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
Olive oil

For the lamb-tomato sauce:
olive oil
2 large onions, medium diced
2 pounds ground lamb
4 Tablespoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon allspice
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 cup red wine
1 - 28 oz. can whole, peeled tomatoes (with puree), roughly chopped
1 - 6 oz. can tomato paste
2 Tablespoons honey
Freshly ground black pepper

For the Béchamel:
4 Tablespoons butter
4 Tablespoons flour
4 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper

For Finish:
1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs for bottom of the pans
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated


Bake the eggplant & potatoes:
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. Brush the eggplant slices on both sides with olive oil and lay on 2 large foil-lined baking sheets. Season with salt and pepper. Brush the potato slices on both sides with olive oil and lay on a large foil-lined baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Cover both the eggplant & potato pans with foil and bake until the eggplant and potatoes are soft, about 45 minutes. Set aside covered.

For the Lamb Tomato Sauce mixture:
Place a large sauté pan on the stove over medium high heat. When the pan is hot add olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan and then the onions. Cook the onions until they are golden and caramelized. Add the ground lamb and cook until it begins to turn brown, breaking up any big chunks. Add the garlic and sauté for 5 more minutes. Add the oregano, bay leaves, cloves, allspice and cinnamon and cook for 3 more minutes. Deglaze the pan with red wine. Cook over medium high heat until the red wine has reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste & honey. Cook, stirring occasionally until the mixture is a thick tomato sauce consistency, about 30 minutes. Check for seasoning and add salt & pepper. Remove from the heat and cool completely.

For the Béchamel:
In a saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour to make a roux. Cook the roux over medium heat for 3 or 4 minutes, or until it becomes a very pale tan color. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly. Add the nutmeg and the lemon juice. Simmer, stirring constantly, over low heat for approximately 15 minutes. The mixture should be fairly thick. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Take 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture and whisk it into the beaten eggs. This will temper the eggs. Whisk the egg/milk mixture back into the milk mixture. Add the Parmesan cheese and stir. Over very low heat, cook this mixture for 3 more minutes. Be careful not to let the mixture simmer. Season with salt and pepper.( I added a good teaspoon of pepper and almost that much salt) Remove from the heat and cool.

To finish: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle the bottom of a greased 10x12-inch deep dish pan with the 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs and then turn pan over and tap out any extra so that you have a very thin coating on the bottom. Using half of the eggplant, place a layer of the eggplant over the breadcrumbs over lapping slices if necessary. Layer all of the potatoes over the eggplant. Layer all of the lamb tomato sauce mixture over the potatoes. Layer the remaining eggplant over the lamb tomato sauce mixture, over lapping slices if necessary. Top with the béchamel and then sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Place in the oven and bake for 60-90 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let sit for at least 20 minutes before serving.

Serves 8-12


Monday, January 4, 2010

Guinness Braised Short Ribs

IMG_7856I wish that I could remember where I found this recipe so that I could give thanks and credit because these short ribs ROCK!  The gravy is super rich and flavorful and the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender.  Even better is that this recipe freezes and reheats beautifully so a great make-ahead meal to pull from the freezer on a cold winter night.

Guinness Braised Short Ribs

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 TBS. paprika
1 1/2 TBS. Madras curry powder
3 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
6 pounds beef short ribs, cut into 4-inch pieces
5 tablespoons olive oil
6 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only), chopped
6 large carrots, chopped
5 celery ribs, chopped
4 bay leaves
1/2 cup freshly chopped garlic
3 cups beef broth
Three 12-ounce bottles Guinness
42-ounces canned diced tomatoes

In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, paprika, curry powder, cumin, pepper, salt and mustard.

Use paper towels, pat the ribs dry. Arrange them in a single layer, bone side down, in a large roasting pan then generously coat all sides of ribs with spice mixture, sprinkle any extra spice mixture on the top of the ribs. Chill, uncovered for 1-2 hours.

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large sauté pan, over high heat, heat the oil until hot but not smoking. Add the ribs, working in batches if necessary and quickly brown them on the three meaty sides, about one minute per side. Transfer the meat back to the large roasting pan, bone side down. Once all the meat has been browned, in the same sauté pan add leeks, carrots, celery, bay leaves and garlic. Cook over medium heat stirring occasionally until the vegetables begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add a little bit of the beef broth to the pan to deglaze and incorporate the fond into the veggies. Spoon the cooked veggie mix over the browned ribs. To the roasting pan add the remaining broth, beer and tomatoes with their juice. Cover the pan tightly with heavy-duty foil. Place in the oven and braise until the meat is very tender, about 3 hours. When properly cooked, a pairing knife inserted into the meat should have little resistance.

Remove the bay leaves and cool the ribs completely, uncovered. Skim off any excess fat from the surface of sauce. Cover and refrigerate a day or two as the flavors will improve. To serve, reheat the covered pan in a 350 F oven for 1 1/2 hours.

I served the ribs over buttered egg noodles.


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