Saturday, May 16, 2009

Pork Satay with Peanut Noodles for 2

In our house- we LOVE thai food, however in the past, I have had disasterous results when trying to replicate my favorite thai dishes. This week, I conquered!!
I partly cheated beacause I had some store bought peanut sauce in the cabinet- but it worked out very nice- there were no complaints around the dinner table! Next time I will make my own sauce and let you know the results.

To start, I bought some pork chops and cut them into 1" cubes. Then I made a marinade of ginger, lemongrass, lime zest, lime juice, soy sauce, green onions, red onion, sesame oil, sirracha S&P and a little water to thin it out. I marinated the pork pieces for about 1 hour and then thread them on to skewers that had been soaking in water.

Next up, I made the noodles. Iused half the jar of peanut sauce, Half a red bell pepper and cucumber, julienned, 1 grated carrot, 2 green onions finely sliced (white part only) and mixed in some lime juice and 1/2 tsp brown sugar. Cook either some rice noodles or regular pasta noodles- I used spaghetti, and when the noodles are tender, drain, and toss in a little sesame oil, so they don't stick together. When the noodles have cooled a little, toss them into the sauce and vegetable mixture. Season to taste.

Chop some peanuts and set aside.

Get the Grill nice and hot- then grill the pork skewers for about 5-8 minutes.

Serve the pork satay over the peanut sesame noodles and top with chopped peanuts.
This meal was very quick and easy as well as very flavorful- next time the sauce will be homemade!!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Valentines Cupcakes

I NEVER watch Paula Dean, but I happened to come across it the other day when she was making a beautiful strawberry cake. In her recipe she tops the one large cake with a strawberry cream cheese frosting. I decided that I would make Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cupcakes instead.
The cake uses a white cake mix, box of strawberry gelatin and a bag of frozen strawberries. How easy!! Once the cupcakes cooled, I filled them with whipped cream and topped them off with a smooth dark chocolate Ganache.
They are pretty, festive and easy. I will be using this cake recipe again, perhaps with a whipped cream frosting with fresh strawberries on top for a summer party.

Divine Tiramisu

I LOVE Tiramisu.

I have literally had the good, bad and the ugly when it comes to this amazing Italian dessert. A few years back it seemed it was on every dessert list in Sydney. I ate it everywhere it was offered and was often disappointed, and then I read a review of amazing Sydney Restaurant
Bel Mondo and about the authentic tiramisu that was the owner’s mother’s recipe. So I went out and bought the Bel Mondo cookbook where the recipe was featured.

This was an absolute revelation- exactly as I had imagined it to be- a perfect balance between espresso soaked lady fingers, and liquor spiked mascarpone. Soft but not mushy, sweet but not cloying, strong but not overpowering.

When I started dating Marc he mentioned how much he LOVED his late Aunts Tiramisu and that he had never eaten one better. I refused to feed him my recipe for him for over 2 and a half years. Finally, I caved. He said it was on par with his aunts- the best compliment I could ask for.
Over the years I have adapted the recipe to my tastes, as the original recipe uses rum exclusively, but I prefer a little rum and coffee liquor.

Simply Divine!!!

**** A Note:
In every other part of the world, eating raw eggs is not something to be concerned about, yet in the US, people would deem me irresponsible for even posting a recipe where the eggs are not either pasteurized or fully cooked. I can tell you that I have never once been sick, or gotten sick from raw eggs. It is also wise to consider that the sugar and alcholol also kills any bacteria that may be present in the eggs and I always buy free range hormone free eggs, however if you have any doubts, just use pasteurized eggs.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Celery Bisque

In this economy it seems wrong to be wasteful, which is why I needed to find something for my bunch of celery that was slowing fading in my fridge. I saw this recipe on Epicurious, and thought it would be perfect.
It has a subtle celery flavor, nice and mellow, balanced by the sweetness of the leeks, and is creamy because of the addition of the potatoes. It also asks for cayenne pepper-, which is brilliant. The original recipe calls for crème fraiche to be swirled on top, but I just used some heavy cream and mixed it in after pureeing.
Instead of stilton toasts (I am not a fan of blue cheese…) I made some croutons that were coated in olive oil, cayenne pepper and sea salt- it added great crunch and texture to the soup.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Lemon Cupcakes & Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes

A friend asked me recently to make some cupcakes for her to take to work. I, of course, said yes, and set about deciding what to make. I was also a little strapped for time, so I made a big decision- I would use cake mixes, and just jazz them up. I know what your thinking… ‘Really? A Cake mix? What kind of cook would not make it from scratch…’

I know, I know, but really- they are so good, and easy, and it’s all about the frosting anyway, right?

I decided on a Chocolate Raspberry, and a Lemon Cupcake.

For the Chocolate Raspberry, I took a milk chocolate cake mix and made it to the specifications, however I added some raspberry puree (thawed frozen raspberries, pureed and strained) in place of half the water. This added a subtle raspberry flavor to the chocolate cake.
I decided to do two frostings- first, I made a chocolate frosting by adding melted chocolate to softened butter, and powdered sugar to taste. For the raspberry Buttercream, I added raspberry puree, a little red food color, butter and powdered sugar to taste. I piped the chocolate frosting on first, followed by a rosette of raspberry frosting. Damn Tasty.

Milk Chocolate Raspberry Cake with Chocolate & Raspberry Frostings

For the Lemon cupcakes, I took a vanilla cake mix, and substituted some fresh lemon juice and some lemon oil, for half the water. I also added 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon zest to the batter. The cake tasted zesty and lemony, but not overpowering- just a hint of lemon to compliment the frosting.

The frosting I made with equal parts Butter & Cream Cheese then added powdered sugar, lemon and lime zest, and lemon oil- as well as some limoncello liquor that I had in the freezer. I made it completely by taste. It was really good, if I do say so myself!

Lemon Vanilla Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese

The finishing touch was to make some candied lemon zest.
Simply strip the zest from the fruit- using either a peeler and then cutting them into thin fine strips, or use a citrus zester-, which peels it off in thin strips. Place the strips in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let it sit for 30 minutes then drain. Heat 2 cups sugar and 1-cup water in a small saucepan, cover and boil. When the sugar is dissolved, add the zest, reduce heat to medium low and cook, uncovered for 10 minutes. I pulled out the zest and placed them on a piece of parchment paper- discarding the syrup, and let cool. Wile they were still sticky, I dusted them with white sugar so they are sparkly.
As you can see from the pictures, they look pretty good!

Double Chocolate Pudding

I hate to admit it, but I often by those Jello Chocolate Pudding snacks from the supermarket, they are just too good- and only 100 calories.

I decided to make some pudding myself- not the 100-calorie kind, but something to have when the chocolate craving kicks in- (which is often!).
I have a recipe that I found in Food and Wine Magazine, and it seemed to fit the bill, easy, chocolaty and rich. Perfect!! The chilled and finished pudding was really good, but not what I was originally intending. It was much more dense and fudgy, than light and silky- more like a super rich chocolate mousse. It was great- but I am going to try and find a recipe that is lighter, so it can be more of a snack, as opposed to a dessert, but I will be making this one again for sure!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Smoky Tomato Soup

Sometimes there is nothing better than a bowl of hot soup. As the weather gets cooler, it is the first thing on my mind to cook- they are relatively simple, full of flavor, they warm the kitchen and my stomach, and they are an easy meal to have around as they take only minutes to reheat, and often taste better the next day. So, I found a recipe in Food and Wine magazine that intrigued me, firstly, because believe it or not, I have never made tomato soup and secondly, it calls for smoked pimenton, which is an ingredient that I have never used.

The recipe is basic; onion, garlic, tomatoes, water and the pimenton, finished with a touch of cream. It sounded too easy!

I am often wary of making sauce or salsas with fresh tomatoes that have not been roasted before hand, so that was a modification that I made. I cut the tomatoes in half, drizzled with olive oil and black pepper and set them in a 350 degree oven for around one and a half hours. I did not want the moisture sucked out of them, just roasted enough to concentrate their flavor so my soup wasn’t lacking in depth.

The Roasted Tomatoes

A quick sauté of onions and garlic (I added 4 extra cloves!!) then add the pimenton- and this is where the soup comes alive. It adds such richness and depth of flavor, that I can’t believe I have not discovered it sooner. It amps up the tomato taste and has an underlying smokiness that is subtle and yet unmistakable at the same time. You then add the tomatoes, thyme, bay leaf and a little water and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. Blend, puree, add a little cream to cut the acid, and voila- a soup that warms the soul!!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey Ice Cream

I had a banana that was nice and brown and on the cusp of being thrown out, and decided to try a recipe I had tucked away for a while. It comes from the Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Cook Book which I have never used before (strange considering how much I love ice cream...). The recipe is different in that it is a no cook base- so yes, that means there is a raw egg in the mix.I also only made a half batch, which works out perfect, because this is not an ice cream that holds up well after a couple of days. It is best eaten on the day it is made... which is not a problem in our house! The recipe was extremely easy- it took no time at all. The only modification I made was to melt the dark chocolate and then drizzle it in the churning ice cream maker in which it freezes immediately and marbles throughout the ice cream. It is really important to have banana's that are very ripe and with brown spots as this will create that really intense banana flavor. Enjoy!!!
The Finished Product

Monday, October 13, 2008

Roasted Garlic Soup

The weather is getting slightly cooler here in perennially sunny San Diego, so it seemed natural to want to make a nice hearty soup. I looked through my cookbooks, and came across a recipe for Roasted Garlic Soup in the Emeril’s Potluck Book. It looked simple enough, and you can't go wrong with roasted garlic.

I halved the recipe as it was just for the two of us, and I served it with some Grilled Gruyere and Ham sandwiches, and a Baby Green Salad with Pecan Crusted Sautéed Goat Cheese.

The soup had wonderful flavor, a lot like a French Onion Soup, but with the added richness of roasted garlic. I made a few changes, like adding a little white wine to deglaze the pan, and instead of pureeing the soup in the blender I used my handy dandy Breville hand blender, but next time I would strain the soup through a sieve in order to have a smoother texture. Marc didn't mind the chunky bits of onion and garlic, but I wasn't all for it. The Soup worked great with the salad and sandwich and with some tweaking, this is a great recipe!

Emeril’s Roasted Garlic Soup

4-6 large Red onions (3.5 pounds)
Cloves from 2 large heads of garlic, peeled
2 shallots, peeled
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs Emerils Original Essence (I used Cayenne pepper only)
6 c. Chicken Stock
2 tsp. finely chopped sage
2 ts. finely chopped fresh thyme
3/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 c. Heavy Cream

1: Preheat oven to 400F. Combine onions, garlic and shallots in roasting pan (single layer). Add the olive oil and essence and toss to coat. Roast until well browned, about 1.5 hours.

2: Remove the pan from the oven and set over two burners on medium low heat. Add two cups of chicken stock, the sage, thyme and salt and cook for 10 minutes, scraping up all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

3: Transfer mixture to a blender and puree until smooth.

4: Scrape the puree into a large pot over medium low heat. Add Remaining four cups of stock and the balsamic vinegar, stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and stir in the cream. Serve.

Goat Cheese Salad

Make a vinaigrette from Dijon mustard, honey, lemon juice and olive oil. Season with Salt & pepper. Toss in mixed greens to coat.

Roll balls of goat cheese in chopped pecans and sauté in olive oil until warmed through and nuts are toasted. Serve over baby greens.

The Onions in the pot after deglazing

The Finished Soup...

And with the Grilled Ham & Cheese and Goat Cheese Salad

Friday, October 3, 2008

Banana Cupcakes

I finally found the perfect banana cake recipe.

I have tried quite a few, but most end up tasting like banana bread- which is not all together bad, but not my desired result when trying for cupcakes!

Banana bread is typically more dense and nutty- but a good banana cake should have intense banana flavor and a light and golden texture.

I can't entirely recall where I found this recipe- but I have been using it for a while now, with great results. The only issue Marc has with this recipe is that it makes A LOT, and he has a hard time refraining from just one or two- (you can halve it to make 12).

I have been using a brown sugar and Rum cream cheese frosting, but I am still working on the proportions (I melt butter with brown sugar to form a thick caramel, add dark rum, and let cool to just warm. I add that to cream cheese and beat until fluffy). I want it to have more rum flavor so I am looking into a rum extract. However, this banana cake recipe would be great with a peanut butter frosting, chocolate frosting, or whatever you think would work well.

Try it and let me know what you think!