Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Taste of Thai: Thai Pumpkin Curry

It's the season for pumpkin and since I just moved to San Francisco, I've been inspired by all the wonderful Thai restaurants in the city. After visiting OSHA and getting a taste of the lemongrass and coconut milk, I had to set out and make this seasonal dish. It turned out very well.

I used a real pumpkin and roasted in in the oven. The advantage to this was that I got to roast the seeds as well. They made for a great topper to the dish. Make sure to use a sugar pumpkin because they are smaller and easier to work with. The large ones are just best for carving.

Thai Pumpkin Curry:
2 chicken breasts
red onion
coconut milk
curry powder
lime juice
little peanut butter

Saute the onions with a bit of olive oil until they are tender. Add the curry powder and garlic and cook until fragrant, only a minute or two. Add the chicken and cover until mostly cooked through. Add yogurt and coconut milk and simmer for a few minutes. Add a small dallop of peanut butter. Toss in cilantro at the end and serve over rice. Spritz some lime juice right before serving.

I had this with Broccoli Rabe and Farro which was a very Berkeley "chrunchy" version of Thai pumpkin curry but it was tasty!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Whole Meal

On Saturday night I had the pleasure of making dinner with two great friends.  I was the student present to learn the ways of the master chef and apprentice the saute, grind, chop, char, reduce, and smoke.  The dinner was FABULOUS and the flavors were unique and wonderful.  Here's what we had:

Broiled lamb chops with cherry ginger reduction
6 Lamb chops (trader joes)
1/2 cup lamb stock (Christopher's freezer)
handful dried cherries
1 tsp minced ginger
splash port

Simmer dried cherries with port and ginger.  Heat up lamb stock and combine with cherries and port, reduce 10 minutes (maybe less depending on heat).
Broil lamb chops under high broiler for 5-7 minutes.  There is about a 30 second window of opportunity to get these right, otherwise you've got well done chops and that's no good.

Cous-cous tabbouleh 
1/2 red onion
2 cloves garlic
3 lemons
1/3 cucumber
cous cous
olive oil
salt and pepper

Chop onions and garlic and let soak in lemon juice.  Cook cous-cous and cook in refrigerator.  Chop parsley and mint and add to cous-cous.  Cut up tomato, cucumber and add to cous-cous.  Add the onion garlic mixture with oregano, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.  Serve chilled.

Chinese green beans 
with roasted red pepper
red onion
olive oil

This is my favorite! Take a blow torch to the red pepper while it sits over the open flame on the gas stove.  Char the heck out of it.  Put it in a bag or covered pot for at least 10 minutes.  Remove and peel off charred skin.  Cut chinese green beans to desired length and steam for 10 minutes.  Add red onion to steamer.  Let sit for 5 minutes.  Cook garlic and vermouth and olive oil in a saucepan for about 5-10 minutes.  Put beans, onions, and red pepper together and toss with garlic vermouth sauce.  yum-o!

* Check out the crab on the apron.  Nelie's humor for sure :)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Chicken Veggie and Red Quinoa Medley

I'm in Berkeley again!  I can first tell that I'm back in Berkeley when I smell jasmine and pine as I walk down the street.  Here and there I get some roses and other various flower scents that I can't identify but are divine none-the-less.  Another way I can tell that I'm in Berkeley is when I go to the market and see all the amazing fresh produce gleaming with beauty.  I've never had a white peach as good as the one in my fridge right now.  

So what is the deal with this recipe?  It's a one dish meal which is ideal for my current living situation, aka not my own place.  It has all the essentials, covers all my nutritional bases, and is easy to make.  So what is in it?

1/2 green pepper
1 husk corn (boiled and cut off the husk)
1/2 cup black beans
1/4 cup quinoa
1 stick celery
1/2 tomato
1/4 Ib chicken thighs cut
2 Tbs soy sauce
1 clove garlic
splash lemon juice
dash salt and pepper
1 tsp rice vinegar
Marinate the chicken in soy sauce and garlic while it defrosts in the refrigerator (Do this beforehand).  Pour quinoa in pot and add water (1:2 ratio quinoa to water) and cook uncovered for 15 minutes.  Wait until quinoa is almost done to cook the chicken.  Chop celery, tomato, corn, green pepper in the meantime.  Add chicken and marinade to the pan.  Simmer and cover about 5 minutes.  Add chopped veggies, black beans, and cooked quinoa until tender.  Add lemon, salt, pepper, rice vinegar.  Enjoy!

Monday, September 8, 2008

The San Francisco Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival

The Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival
The festival was crawling with chocolate food lovers (most of the population of San Fran would fall under this category).  The festival had some amazingly good looking chocolate-y treats and I, along with Grace and Kevin, got to eat and admire the creations of some chocolate adventurers.  Here is a little tour:
Needless to say, foodies can always find a way to pair anything with wine.  Chocolate is no exception.
Chocolate drizzled shortcake squares. 

The trolley cars of SF.
Grace and I wanted to know how to make these decadent chocolate souffles! yummmm
Tea infused chocolate: The delicate flavors of earl gray, chai, lemon, berry, and orange teas.
Chocolate moon cakes.  A little Chinese influence.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Ensalada Fresca with Frozen Peas

The first thing I had to have when I got back to the states was salad. Going a month without those fresh, leafy, crunchy, and crisp fibery shoots of ruffage was pretty hard. So after I got my salad fix by opening my fridge and crunching on whole plain lettuce leaves like a rabbit, I eased my leafy woes and began a more creative route to salad satisfaction. I used lettuce, radicchio, green peppers, and yes, frozen peas in this salad. If you're wondering why I threw in frozen peas, you're right if you guessed that I was too lazy to defrost them. However, the frozen peas added a surprisingly nice cool surprise to the salad. I used a dressing of lemon juice, a small amount of dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. The salad was easy to throw together, and had a nice chill temp due to the frozen peas. I would test out the frozen pea tactic if you're a skeptic, it makes for a great summer salad

La Comida de Perú

For the month of July I volunteered in Perú, lived with a Peruvian family, and learned a lot about Peruvian culture. I worked at a medical clinic and became very familiar with Peruvian intestinal parasites. One rule about life in Perú, don't drink the water. I only drank boiled and bottled water, but still managed to get Giardia and an amoeba. But intestinal troubles aside, I got to experience a new genre of South American food. Peruvian cuisine is rustic and hearty, and the Peruvians take advantage of their fresh peppers and bountiful potatoes to make some really delicious dishes. The market in Perú is amazing, and while I steered clear of leafy greens and ceviche (to avoid more intestinal friends) I got to experience some great culinary novelties and learn how the Pereuvians work in the kitchen. My host mom Marta was a master on the "estufa" (stove) and made a mean aji de gallina. I got some great photos of the food we ate, and some market treats I'm glad we didn't eat. Here is a little taste of what I saw:
rocoto relleno, papas al horno, el horno crudo, more rocoto relleno, taroe con carne, pisco sours, sopa de moraya, trucha, beet salad, the market, the queso fresco lady, crazy good popcorn, sopa de cow balls, aji de gallina

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Lemon Ginger frozen yogurt with candied mint leaves

Is that title too long? Maybe, but it's because there is a lot going on in this frozen yogurt, yet it maintains a very delicate flavor. This recipe is so easy, just take some plain yogurt and let it sit in a layer of paper towels over a colander over night. Then, replace all that liquid you lost with your own invention. Here I put corn syrup and granulated sugar (a scant 2 tablespoons each for a cup of yogurt) lemon zest and grated ginger. Mix the drained yogurt with the other flavors and throw it in an ice cream machine for a little. Then I decided to utilize the mint in our front yard, by coating it with candy (equal parts sugar and water boiled until dripped into a cup of water it hardens instantly) and folding it in with the post ice cream machined frozen yogurt. Make sure everything you use to handle the frozen yogurt is cold otherwise this stuff melts pretty fast. And thats all it is. Next time I might replace the liquid lost with pureed strawberries and mint, or cardamom scented sugar syrup. You could really go anywhere with this recipe. Looks great in a fancy martini glass at a dinner party with a little garnish. Best of luck with your frozen yogurt adventures if you try to doll this one up in your own way. Let me know how it goes!

Mustard Glazed Salmon Hors d'oeuvres

Sexy huh? Sexiest salmon I've ever seen... The glaze is only THREE INGREDIENTS : 4 tablespoons honey, 2 tablespoon soy sauce, and 3 tablespoons dijon mustard. The most involved part of this recipe is the process. Here are a couple tips:
1) make sure you rub every surface of the grill that you put salmon on with an oil soaked paper towel. That salmon sticks like glue without it!
2) make sure you soak the skewers first and cut them real small. Then arrange the salmon pieces so that the skewers don't knock each other. It pays to be organized here.
3) Brush them with glaze as much as possible, it makes a nice crusty outside, and DON'T OVER COOK THE SALMON. I find the key to really good salmon is just not over cooking it, what a delicious fish it is!

So that's all there is to it! I threw in a couple garnishing tricks, the casual pile, little drizzle woops all over the plate..., toss some rough chop sage from the garden over that, and dink, a little rosemary sprig in the middle. It tastes as good as it looks and its not even that hard. This is a great way to impress at a cocktail party, bon appetit!

Chocolate meringue mousse ¿cake?

So this looks like a cake, BUT look at it now...
Psychologically I'm more comfortable eating this cake if I'm told it's a pudding. It's only chocolate merangue for the layers, top, and perimeter, with chocolate mousse filling. It tastes GREAT, very chocolaty, but the consistency didn't meet cake standards. Also, by day two you're dealing with softened merangues (which, again, taste GREAT but don't help the lack of cake structure problem). Maybe someone else has some ideas about how to fix the situation with this cake...

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Devil's Food with Cream Cheese Frosting

Ok, you caught me, this really isn't cream cheese frosting at all. It's some marshmellowy stuff, but I really think this cake would be better with cream cheese frosting instead. The devil's food is really good here, and the frosting just wasn't matching up. A good garnish for this cake would be a chocolate clay rose. You mix chocolate and corn syrup and let it sit, then mold it to make petals and walaa, a rose. My chocolate clay didn't come out so well, so that never made it on the cake. Live and learn. One might also want to play with the name of this cake, I was thinking zebra cake? I'll show you why...See? its those stripes. Well I'm not going to give away Dorie Greenspan's secrets, you'll have to buy the cook book BAKING: From My Home to Yours, to get the recipe. But this chocolate cake recipe is DELICIOUS. Maybe the best I've ever had. Over and out - Katie.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Peace Orange Muffins for Two

Sometimes I see a piece of fruit and just think of the endless possibilities. This morning, my sister Katie was sleeping in, and I wanted to surprise her when she woke up. I wanted to make a sweet, no yeast bread, but I only wanted to make small portions in the toaster oven (my new found energy saving technique). So I created the muffin-bread-cake combo and it turned out great. It was moist with just the right amount of sweetness and little bursts of tart peach. The recipe was simple, I was inspired by the raspberry pecan bread at Baking Bites and altered it a bit to serve two.

Peace Orange Muffins (makes 2 muffins)
1/4 cup flour
1/8 cup sugar (2 Tbls)
1/8 tsp baking soda ( I used half of a 1/4 tsp to measure this)
1/8 tsp baking powder
small dash salt
1/8 cup orange juice (2 Tbls)
1/8 cup egg (again 2 Tbls)
Fruit: I chose cubed peaches.

Whisk dry ingredients in a bowl. Then mix in orange juice and egg. Stir in the fruit pieces. Put in a small muffin tin and place in toaster oven at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until slightly brown around edges and a toothpick comes out clean. Toaster ovens vary considerable so keep an eye on them. If you like your muffins on the large side and don't want to use a toaster oven, then I suggest doubling the recipe.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Vegetable Lasagna

Today's Vegetable Lasagna was inspired by two of my favorite food bloggers and our inspiration for this blog, Two Fat Als. These two have been cooking up a storm ever since they started dating and ever since the initiation of their blog, I've been in blissful food heaven. I've made many recipes from their repertoire of tantalizing dishes, but this was one of the more intensive recipes for us to try. Alanna has touted this recipe as no fail, and since it was my first lasagna, I reasoned that it was my best bet. Because I don't really like to fail in the kitchen, and I was hosting one of my best college friends for dinner, it seemed challenging but with a bit of a safety net. As I embarked on a journey of roasting and layering, I soon realized that with fresh ingredients and the right flavors, it would be difficult to mess this one up. As it turns out, this dish was a hit. We loved the cornucopia of the veggies, and my urge to sneak in a layer of meat was put to shame with this vegetarian masterpiece. So here is the recipe from our favorite foodie muses.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Applesauce Spice Bars

Our first recipe from Dorie's Baking book is the Applesauce Spice Bars recipe mostly because it didn't take much time and they looked scrumptious in the picture. The recipe was simple because the batter comes together in one saucepan. Plus, I love raisins, and this recipe definitely calls for it's fair share of raisins. In my opinion the bars didn't need the glaze, they were pretty sweet on their own. But if you're a fan of the extra sugary kick, then by all means pour it on. Also, the recipe seemed to be more of an apple spice cake than a bar, but they were tasty nonetheless.

1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup applesauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 apple (chopped)
1/2 cup or more raisins
Glaze: 2 1/2 Tbs heavy cream
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 Tbs unsalted butter
1 tsp corn syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine the dry ingredients together. Melt butter in medium saucepan and then combine brown sugar until smooth. Add the 2 eggs stirring quickly. Add applesauce and wisk till smooth. Slowly add dry ingredients until no lumps are present. Mix in chopped apple and raisins and put in 9X13 in pan at 350 degrees F for 23-25 minutes. For the glaze, whisk cream, sugar, butter and corn syrup. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Stir in vanilla and pour over cooked bars.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Pasteis de Nata

We just got back from Lisbon Portugal last week. After a visit to Belem and sampling their famous pasteis de Belem, we decided that we must try to recreate these small tarts of custard goodness. After making a cake with chocolate meringue (which will be posted soon), we had lots of egg yolks to use and the perfect recipe to use them. These custard tarts are simply decadent. They remind me of our trip to Belem, crossing under Lisbon's own Golden Gate Bridge, and entering the pasteleria crowded with hungry tourists waiting to indulge in the famous pastries. I got the recipe here. A light dusting of powdered sugar and cinnamon is an absolute must. Enjoy!

Maryland Crabcakes

I've been craving true Maryland style crabcakes for a LONG time. After going to school in Berkeley for 4 years, I've discovered that the Bay Area does not know how to make those lovely crab filled lumps of luscious goodness. All I get in San Francisco are highly breaded discs that taste like fried cornmeal. So, I decided to take matters into my own hands. Even the Maryland style recipes from Gourmet and Bon Appetit didn't impress me. I made my own Maryland style recipe and they turned out perfectly. I can't stress enough the minimalist approach when it comes to crabcakes. I also never put mayonnaise in my cake. It loads the cake down too much. Here is my recipe and I highly recommend it, especially for you bay area folk who have never had a truly divine crabcake.

Maryland Crabcakes

16 oz jumbo lump crabmeat
juice of a lemon
four scallions
1 egg
bunch of parsley
a lot of shakes of Old Bay
salt and pepper to taste
Tbs olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Make sure there is no shell in the crabmeat. Put olive oil in a non-stick pan. I used a stainless steel pan and they stuck, so I highly recommend non-stick. Form the crabmeat into a ball, place on the pan and press down with a spatula. Use the spatula to keep the shape of the cake. Cook the cake until brown on the bottom, about 5-7 minutes. Flip over and brown on other side. Serve with lemon. Other people like to serve the cakes with garlic aioli but I really like just lemon.