Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lemon Drop Cocktails

One of our favorite ways to use up all these lemons that I zested for scones was to make a few Lemon Drop cocktails – we either have it straight up in a martini glass or over ice in a tumbler glass. My lemon drop recipe is pretty simple and can be adjusted according to taste.

6 oz vodka
3 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 oz Triple Sec or orange flavored liquor (Grand Marnier)
1 tablespoon sugar

  • Chill a couple martini glasses in the freezer.
  • Pour the lemon juice, vodka and triple sec into a shaker.
  • Add a handful of ice cubes and shake vigorously.
  • Use the lemon wedges to moisten the glasses and coat with sugar.
  • Strain the lemon vodka mixture into the glass.

Raisin Pineapple Ginger Scones

I took yesterday off to chill, take care of Arthur and do some quick errands around the house. Interestingly enough I was already bored by 1pm because I did all of my errands already and Arthur could not play too much because he was still recovering from his procedure. After rummaging my kitchen cabinet, I decided to make Raisin Pineapple Ginger Scones by following my Cranberry Orange Scone recipe – substituting the cranberry with half cup of raisin and half cup of sugared pineapple and adding some ginger powder to the dry ingredients. The scone texture was not good as my previous scones because I used whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour so I still have to figure out how to work with whole wheat flour correctly.

2 cups plus 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 cup sugar
3 teaspoons of ginger powder
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoons kosher salt
zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon
3/8 pound (1.5 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced
2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup cold heavy cream
1/2 cup of raisins
1/2 cup of chopped sugared pinneaple
1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water or milk, for egg wash
1/8 cup sugar for sprinkling

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Mix 2 cups of flour, 1/8 cup sugar, ginger powder, baking powder, salt and the zest in a food processor.
  • Add the cold butter and quickly pulse until the butter is the size of peas.
  • Combine the eggs and heavy cream in a small bowl and slowly pour into the flour and butter mixture in the food processor and mix until just blended. The dough will look lumpy, sticky and form a ball.
  • Combine the raisins, diced pineapple and 1/8 cup of flour, add to the dough, and fold in using a spatula until blended.
  • Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it into a ball. Flour your hands and knead the dough 3/4-inch thick. You should see small bits of butter in the dough.
  • Roll the dough into a log and cut triangles of dough.
  • Place the scones on a baking pan lined with parchment paper or silpat.
  • Brush the tops of the scones with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar, and bake for 20 to 22 minutes, until the tops are browned and the insides are fully baked.
  • The scones will be firm to the touch.
  • Allow the scones to cool for a couple minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a cooling rack.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Italian Sausage, Fennel and Vegetable Pesto Pizza

This is my first official pizza entry as Pissaladiere is technically not a pizza. It is also an easy one to make because I have already had most of the ingredients ready since they're similar to the ones in the Spaghetti with Broccolini and Peas in Pesto Sauce that I made over the weekend. I added some Italian sausage and fennel slices to give additional flavor to it.

The good thing about making a pizza is that you can add almost anything you want or have in the fridge. I don't have any pizza stone so I used a baking sheet to bake the pizza on and good thing it turned out well.


1 pizza dough (I used plain pizza dough from Trader's Joe)
2 links of sweet Italian sausage
1 fennel, cored and sliced
2 green garlic, one sliced to 2" pieces and the other roughly chopped
a few leaves each of spinach, arugula and dandelions
a handful of Broccolini
1 cup of shredded Mozzarella cheese
pesto sauce

  • Pre-heat up the oven to 450 degree.
  • Take the sausages out of the link, break out of bite-size pieces.
  • Cook the sausage pieces with a little bit of olive oil for 5 minutes over medium heat until they are almost cooked. Add in the sliced fennel and chopped green garlic and cook for another 4 minutes until the fennel slices are starting to soften up. Set aside.
  • Work on the pizza dough according to the package direction (rest in a room temperature for 20 minutes, stretch by hand or using a rolling pin over a lightly floured surface to 12" diameter circle and move onto a lightly oiled baking pan or pizza stone if you have one).
  • Top the pizza with about 1/4 cup of the pesto sauce, then with the vegetables, sliced green garlic, sausage bits and mozzarella cheese.
  • Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and the bottom of the pizza is golden brown.

Spaghetti with Broccolini and Peas in Pesto Sauce

Ah... the intention of cooking healthy food can sometimes be derailed because of last minute improvisation (like adding too much cheese...). I'm not sure if this is a healthy and nutritious dish or not but I'd like to think so, specially since Porgy said that it's a very 'green' dish.

It's all started when I read this Recipe for Health article on NYTimes. I thought to myself 'Hey, that's a good idea to make simple, healthy and delicious vegetarian dish!' so I decided to make it over the weekend. Since I didn't have any parsley and edamame, I substituted spinach, arugula and dandelions for parsley and frozen shelled peas for edamame. And since I wanted to make extra 'pesto sauce' to use for pizza topping later on, I tripled the amounts of the olive oil and added extra Parmesan cheese to the sauce.

4 large garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1 packed cup of spinach
1 packed cup of arugula
1 packed cup of dandelion
1/3 cup of olive oil
1 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
1 package of dried spaghetti
1 cup of frozen peas
1 handful of Broccolini
1/2 cup of dry white wine

  • In a food processor, pulse-chop the garlic for a few seconds. Add in the spinach, arugula, dandelion and Parmesan cheese and then pulse-chop some more until finely chopped. With the machine running, drizzle in the olive oil. Taste and season with salt and pepper accordingly.
  • In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the dried spaghetti pasta according to the direction in the package.
  • About 5 minutes before the spaghetti is done cooking, add the frozen peas and Broccolini into the pot. Drain well.
  • Using the same pot, cook the 'pesto sauce' with the dry white wine for a couple of minutes until it boils and then add in the spaghetti, peas and Broccolini.
  • Toss the mixture together, add grated Parmesan cheese, salt or pepper if necessary.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Lemon, Orange and Thyme Olive Oil Cake

What do you think I would make if I have plenty of lemons? First, I will make a couple glasses of Lemon Drops (the cocktail drink of course, NOT the candy) and, then after getting some buzz of it, I would attempt to make some kind of lemony desserts. I received a few lemons from AMV last week so I decided to make a variation of this yummy looking Lemon Cake - adding in extra lemon and orange zest and using thyme instead of lavender.

Side note: I used Whole Wheat Flour from Trader's Joe so the cake texture turned out to be a bit grainy (accordingly to Mo-Fo, it's corn-cake like). I guess I still need to figure out when and how to substitute all-purpose flour with whole-wheat flour correctly. Any recommendations?

1.5 cups all purpose flour
1 cup + 1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup olive oil
5 teaspoon lemon zest
5 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoon orange zest
2 teaspoon freshly minced thyme leaves

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Mix the flour, 1 cup of sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
  • In a medium bowl, mix the eggs, milk, olive oil, 4 teaspoon of the lemon zest, 1 teaspoon of the orange zest and the thyme leaves.
  • Add in the wet mixture to the dry ingredients in the large bowl and stir with a wooden spatula to combine. The batter will be on the wet-side.
  • Pour the batter into a greased and floured 8.5"x4.5" loaf pan and bake for 55-60 minutes, until a wooden skewer comes out clean.
  • A few minutes before the cake is ready, start making the glaze by heating 1/2 cup of sugar and the lemon juice in a small pot until the sugar becomes a syrup.
  • When the cake is done, remove it from the oven and, while it's still in the pan, poke holes about 1" apart from the top of the cake all the way to the bottom using a long wooden skewer.
  • Pour half of the glaze over the cake (while it's in the pan), let the cake soak the syrup and rest for 15 minutes before removing it from the pan to a platter.
  • Add in the rest of the lemon zest (1 teaspoon) and orange zest (1 teaspoon) into the pot and cook over a low heat for 5 minutes or so until thicken. Be careful not to burn the syrup.
  • Remove the syrup from the heat and wait for 30 seconds before pouring the thicken syrup over the cake.
  • Let the cake cool for 30 minutes or so before serving.

Asparagus, Mushroom and Caramelized Onion Quiche

Oh boy... the past few weeks have been very stressful and tiring for us as Arthur, our Terrier mix, had been limping. We brought him to the vet a couple weeks ago but they couldn't find anything wrong with his foot. Yesterday we went back to the vet for further examinations and they found several 'foreign objects' including a small broken glass in his paw. They were able to take out most of the objects except one... so after spending $500+ for the visit, Arthur is still not 100%. I really hope that 'foreign object' will come out by itself some time soon so he can be back to his cheery self and we don't have to stress out about him too much anymore.

So anyway... tonight I decided to catch up with my blog starting with this Asparagus, Mushroom and Caramelized Onion Quiche. Continuing with my effort to eat more vegetables and less meat, I made this quiche a couple weekends ago. It's an easy, hearty and healthy(ish) dish that can be eaten with a side salad for a light lunch or dinner. It is similar to what I did before, I just modified the recipe based on what I had in my fridge.

1 frozen puff pastry sheet
2 tablespoons ghee (or butter)
1 onion, cut into half and thinly sliced
1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup of sliced Crimini mushroom
1/2 cup milk (preferably half-and-half, but I didn't have any)
3 large eggs
Fresh ground pepper
Fresh ground nutmeg
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

  • Roll the puff pastry dough to fit a pie pan and bake for 15 minutes at 400°F. After it's done, lower the oven temperature to 375°F and place the pie pan on a wire rack to cool.
  • Saute the onion with the ghee over a medium heat for about 8 minutes or so until the onion is soft and starting to caramelize.
  • Add the mushroom, cook for 5 more minutes over a medium high heat until the mushroom's juices are evaporated.
  • Add in the asparagus and cook for another 3 minutes or so until the asparagus are just cooked.
  • Add half of the cheese on the bottom of crust until it's all covered, top with the vegetable mixture and then cover with the remaining cheese.
  • Mix together the eggs with the milk and season with freshly ground pepper and nutmeg.
  • Pour over the vegetable mixture and cheese.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes and cool on a wire rack for about 10-15 minutes before slicing.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Eggplant and Tofu Braised in Fragrant Sauce

One of my 'ambitious' goals this year is to eat less meat. This is a hard one for me because 1) I love love love meat and 2) I'm somewhat clueless when cooking vegetables. I usually put at least a little bit of meat in my vegetable dishes but tonight I decided to go all vegetarian by adding tofu to substitute for the meat. This dish was inspired by one of the recipes in Periplus' Homestyle Chinese Cooking cookbook and has a similar taste as the Spicy Eggplant Balado that I made a few months ago.

5 medium Chinese eggplants
1 package of cooked fried (yellow) tofu
3 tablespoons oil
8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
8 slices ginger, finely chopped
2 leeks, well washed and chopped
1 stalk lemon grass (white part only), sliced in half and bruised
4 green onions, finely chopped
1.5 tablespoons chili paste (I used Sambal Oelek)
3/8 cup water
1/2 cup fried shallots (optional)

3 tablespoons soy sauce
1.5 tablespoons Shaoxing cooking wine
1.5 tablespoons sugar
1.5 teaspoons vinegar
1.5 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon mirin
3/4 teaspoon salt

  • Cut eggplants length wise and then cut each half into 2-inch pieces.
  • Combine all the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Stir fry garlic, ginger, leek, lemon grass and eggplants over medium heat in a heavy bottom pan or a wok for 4 minutes until the eggplants absorb the oil and begin to soften.
  • Add in tofu, green onion and the chili paste and cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Add the sauce and mix carefully to combine all the ingredients.
  • Add the water and cover the pan with a lid, lower the heat and simmer for 6 minutes.
  • Sprinkle with fried shallots on top, stir one more time and serve.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Chicken and Vegetable Cobbler

I love a good chicken pot pie but I have never made it before because I'm too lazy to make the dough. So when I saw Mark Bittman's article last week on NYTimes, I knew that I would make his Chicken and Vegetable Cobbler this weekend. I added garlic, shallots, ham and more carrots to his recipe in order to stretch the dish even more. It turned out really well and it's definitely easier than making it the traditional way.

2 leeks, well washed and chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
salt and ground black pepper
2 cups of quartered crimini mushroom
1.5 cups of chicken stock
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 carrots, sliced into coins
2 boneless chicken thighs, diced
1 cup cubed ham
1 cup frozen peas
2 tablespoons corn starch
1 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 egg

  • Heat oven to 400F.
  • In a large skillet, stir fry the leek, garlic and shallot with oil over medium heat.
  • Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Add mushrooms and cook until liquid has released and evaporated, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Add stock and rosemary; bring to a boil, and let bubble for a minute or two.
  • Add carrots, ham and chicken and reduce heat so the liquid simmers and cook for 8 to 10 minutes until carrots are almost tender and chicken is cooked through.
  • Add peas and cook, stirring occasionally for another minute or so.
  • Take out rosemary stem and discard.
  • Whisk cornstarch with a few tablespoons of broth to make a slurry, add slurry to pot and stir until liquid thickens slightly.
  • Transfer everything to an ovenproof dish and set aside.
  • Put flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a food processor.
  • Add butter and process until mixture resembles small peas, no more than 30 seconds.
  • Add in buttermilk and egg and mix quickly until it just comes together; it should be sticky.
  • Drop spoonfuls of batter on top of vegetables and chicken and smooth with a knife, covering as much surface area as possible but leaving a few gaps for steam to escape.
  • Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until golden on top and bubbly underneath.
  • Scoop into bowls and serve immediately.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Excelsior Bagelen Biscuit

When visiting my family a few weeks ago in Indonesia, I squealed for joy when I saw this turquoise-colored tin can. Although I have not had it in 20 plus years, somehow I still remember the name so I yelled out 'Bagelen!' and went on to grab a couple Bagelen Biscuit to munch on. Oh... these yummy butter spread biscuits are so airy and crunchy, full with some sweet and salty flavors.

According to the packaging, the company 'Excelsior' is located in Bandung (West Java). It's been around since 1919 and their biscuits only have wheat flour, eggs, sugar, butter, milk, vanilla powder and yeast as the ingredients. I don't know how they did it but the result is totally magic to me.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Chicken in Caramel Sauce

Lately, I have been craving for something on the sweet side for my daily meal, so I decided to make Chicken in Caramel Sauce - a pretty simple Vietnamese dish. One thing to watch out for is the sweetness level, so you don't get bored by the third meal. So for my version of Chicken in Caramel Sauce, I added some vegetables (carrots for crunchy texture and tomatoes and green bell pepper for a bit of acidity) and chili pepper powder for some heat.

1 lb chicken breast or thigh meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
4 tablespoons minced shallot
6 tablespoons minced ginger
6 tablespoons water
1 carrots, cut into half coins
2 tomatoes, cut into bite sized chunks
1 green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch strips
10 stalks green onions, cut into 1-inch sections

Caramel Sauce:
2 tablespoons fish sauce
4 tablespoons palm sugar
1 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red chili pepper

  • Mix the sauce ingredients well in a bowl. Set aside.
  • In a medium size sauce pan, boil the carrots for 2 minutes. Add in the tomatoes and green bell pepper and cook for another minute, drain and set aside.
  • Stir fry the chicken meat cubes in a frying pan with half of the vegetable oil for 4 minutes or so until it changes color. Set aside.
  • Add the rest of the vegetable oil into the frying pan and stir fry the garlic, shallot and ginger over medium heat for 4 minutes or so until fragrant and softened.
  • Add in the caramel sauce, stir and continue cooking until the liquid boils and starts to thicken.
  • Add in the water, stir until smooth and return to boil.
  • Return the chicken pieces into the pan, cook for approximately 15 minutes until the liquid thickens and becomes glossy. Stir occasionally.
  • Add the vegetables and the green onion in the pan and cook for another 5 minutes.
  • Serve over rice. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Noodle with Red-braised Short Ribs and Asparagus

What to do when the other person wants to have a non-Asian dish but you want to have one? My solution is to make an Asian-inspired pasta dish without actually telling the person. I figured that as long as it tastes good, Porgy would not mind having spaghetti with Asian-inspired home style red-braised sauce. I used one of the recipes in Periplus' Homestyle Chinese Cooking cookbook as an inspiration for the sauce. You can make this a vegetarian dish by skipping the short ribs meat and substituting it with sliced mushroom or tofu.

1 package of spaghetti pasta
2 bunches of asparagus, cut into 2-inch sections
1 cup of short ribs meats, cut into 0.5-inch cubes
3 tablespoon of ghee (unclarified butter) or olive oil
1/2 onion, sliced
8 cloves garlic, smashed with skins removed
8 slices ginger
5 green onions, cut into 2-inch sections
6 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons Shaoxing cooking wine
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper
2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 1/2 cup water

  • Cook the pasta al-dente according to the package direction. Three minutes before the pasta is done, add in the cut asparagus. Drain and set aside.
  • Mix all of the sauce ingredients together (soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, sesame oil, sugar, salt, black pepper, chili pepper and dissolved cornstarch) in a bowl.
  • Heat up the ghee in a heavy bottom pan over high heat and stir fry the short ribs meat for about 4 minutes or so until they are somewhat browned.
  • Add in the onion, garlic, ginger and half of the green onion and cook for another 3 minutes.
  • Add in the sauce, stir to blend, cover the pan, lower heat and braise for 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Add in the cooked spaghetti, asparagus and the rest of the green onion into the pan and stir gently so they are well mixed.