Monday, January 17, 2011

Fried Zucchini

There is nothing like fried zucchini... its salty, its garlic-y it has a nice crunch when you bite into it releasing its yummy goodness beneath the breading..  I've tried a lot of recipes that have left me wanting something more after making them, not in a good way.  These, however left me wanting more! The two small zucchini's I chose however used a LOT more breading than any of the recipes I scanned through, so I've doubled the breading recipe so that it should cover 2 thinly sliced zucchini's.

Fried Zucchini

oil (for frying)
1 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
4 Tbsp plain dried bread crumbs
1 Tbsp grated reduced -fat parmesan cheese
2 tsp finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 large egg whites
2 small zucchinis, cut into 1/8 - inch rounds

  1. In a frying pan heat 1 inch of oil on medium until shimering.
    Spoon the flour into a medium shallow bowl. Put the bread crumbs, Parmesan, parsley, garlic powder, oregano, salt and pepper in a medium resealable plastic bag.
  2. Use a fork to beat the egg white in a small bowl until bubbly.
  3. Dip both sides of one zucchini round in the flour, and then roll it to coat it completely. Shake off any excess and dip it in the egg to cover it. Let any excess drip off, and then drop the round into the crumb bag and shake gently to coat it.  Repeat with each round, and then place them in a single layer, not touching, in pan.
  4. Fry in pan for 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown on each side.
  5. Serve with dip of your choice.

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Basics: White Rice

White rice, its simple right? Well apparently not, its the number one thing people have asked me about how to make correctly. Coming from a family that eats quite its share of rice a year, its something I make a lot and have forgotten that it actually can be quite difficult to do correctly when you're first learning.

Growing up my mother always made "Japanese" style rice, which is a basic traditional rice... you measure your water, salt it, let it boil then add your rice.  Wait.. how much water did I put in there again? Whats the equation of white rice to water? Its two parts water to one part rice, by the way... which means to every 1 cup of water add 1/2 cup rice.  I do my rice Thai style, which means I put my water, salt and rice in all at the same time, less confusion later and less time making it, still tastes just as good. We also used this technique when I was working at a deli that was attached to a Chinese fast food restaurant.

White Rice (Thai style) 
My preffered method

1 cup water
1/2 cup white rice
dash salt

In a sauce pan pour 1 cup water, 1/2 cup rice and salt, cover with lid.  Heat on high until boiling, immediately turn down heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, fluff, if rice looks "wet" re-cover and cook for remaining 5 minutes.

White Rice (Japanese style)

1 cup water
1/2 cup white rice
dash salt

In a sauce pan pour 1 cup water and a dash of salt, cover with lid.  Heat on high until boiling. Add rice and cover, bring back to a boil. Once water/rice mixture is boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
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Whipped Cream Frosting and (some of) its variations

Whipped cream frosting... its light, its fluffy and its lightly sweet.  The perfect addition to any light and fluffy cake that you need to frost but dont want to be over sweet.  When I order cakes to be made for me, I always order a whipped cream frosting.  This particular recipe comes from, but there are numerous variations that taste just as yummy and are just as simple to make.

Whipped Cream Frosting

3 cups heavy or whipping cream
5 Tbs. granulated sugar
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

  1. Chill the bowl and whisk attachment of a stand mixer for 20 min. in the refrigerator or 5 min. in the freezer. Pour the heavy cream into the bowl and whisk on medium-high speed until it just starts to thicken. Slow the speed down to medium and gradually pour in the sugar. Continue to whisk until soft peaks form.
  2. Add the vanilla extract and continue to whisk by hand until the cream is smooth, and stiff peaks form (the cream will stand up straight when the whisk is raised).


Raspberry or Strawberry Whipped Cream: Instead of vanilla, add 2-1/4 cups raspberry or strawberry purée (purée the fruit in a blender and strain) to the cream when you add the sugar. Increase sugar to 7 Tbs. Before you begin whisking by hand, taste and adjust the flavoring. (Note: the purée increases the amount of whipped cream, so you may not need it all; save the extra for topping other desserts.)

Lemon Whipped Cream: Instead of vanilla, add 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice and 1 Tbs. finely grated lemon zest to the cream when you add the sugar. Increase sugar to 8 Tbs. Before you begin whisking by hand, taste and adjust the flavoring.

Orange Whipped Cream: Instead of vanilla, add 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice and 1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest to the cream when you add the sugar. Before you begin whisking by hand, taste and adjust the flavoring.

Chocolate Whipped Cream: Omit vanilla and increase sugar to 6 Tbs. After soft peaks form, turn off the mixer and add 1/4 cup sifted unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-processed. Whisk by hand until the cream is smooth, and stiff peaks form. Let the cream sit in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to dissolve the cocoa. Whisk briefly before using.

Mocha Whipped Cream: Omit vanilla and increase sugar to 6 Tbs. After soft peaks form, turn off the mixer and add 1/4 cup sifted unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-processed, and 2 Tbs. instant espresso dissolved in 2 Tbs. boiling water. Whisk by hand until the cream is smooth, and stiff peaks form. Let the cream sit in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to dissolve the cocoa. Whisk briefly before using.
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Teriyaki Chicken on a stick

One of the recipes I learned in high school and we served for our catering company. Super simple, and pretty yummy too!

Teriyaki Chicken on a stick

1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp powdered horseradish
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
3/4 c lemon-lime soda (any brand)
1 lb boneless chicken, cut into strips

  1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a resealable plastic bag. Add chicken strips; seal bag and turn to coat.
  2. Refridgerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
  3. Soak 8 skewers in hot water for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Remove chicken from bag and discard marinade. Thread chicken on skewers and grill or boil until done; turning skewers once.

Note: if you wish to use the marinade to baste the chicken, heat marinade to 160*f to reduce the chance of salmonella. (still not recommended)

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Lemon-Butter Potatoes

Another one of the recipes that not only came from my mom, but I also used in my high school final culinary class project.

Lemon-Butter Red Potatoes

10 red potatoes, quarted
1/3 cup butter (no substitutions)
2 Tbsp oil (olive or veg.)
1/3 c lemon juice (juice of one lemon)
3 Tbsp minced chives
2 Tbsp minced parsley
1 Tbsp lemon peel
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg

  1. In a large saucepan place potatoes and cover with water. Boil until tender.
  2. While potatoes are boiling, in a small sauce pan, heat butter until lightly brown, then add remaining ingredients.
  3. When potatoes are tender, drain potatoes and top with lemon butter.

Serves 6
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Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin soup... its sort of a fall-esk type soup, but hey since I didnt find my high school final where I had to make a restaurant menu with recipes until a few days ago, you're going to have to try it now!
If my memory serves me correctly, its actually quite good (hey I got an A on my final so it couldnt be that bad).

Pumpkin Soup

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 medium leeks, white part only, well rinsed and chopped (1 cup)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped (1 cup)
1 pound thin-skinned potatoes, peeled and diced (3 1/2 cups)
1 quart chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1/2 cup dry white wine or additional stock
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves or 1/4 tsp dried, crumbled
1 bay leaf
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 16-oz can of pumpkin (about 2 cups)
Sour cream for garnish, optional
Cracked black peppercorn for garnish, optional
Sprigs fresh thyme for garnish, optional

  1. In a 4-quart soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add leeks and onion and saute until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add potatoes, stock, wine, thyme, bay leaf and nutmeg. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat, partially cover, and simmer until potatoes are very tender, about 20 minutes. Discard bay leaf.
  2. In a food processor or blender, puree mixture in batches. Return soup to pan. Stir in pumpkin until well blended. Heat until steaming but not boiling.
  3. To serve, ladle into soup bowls or mugs. Garnish each serving with a dollop of sour cream, a pinch of cracked peppercorns, and a sprig of fresh thyme.
Makes about six 1 1/2-cup servings.
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Blueberry-Blackberry Soup

I know what you're thinking... "Soup? For Dessert?" and I will give you a simple, yes.  I made this soup for a dinner party that I hosted back in high school (yes I was one of those people).  This soup was quite a hit and I probably should have made more!

Blueberry-Blackberry Soup

1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen unsweetened blueberries
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen unsweetened blackberries
2 cups water
3 Tbsp quick cooking tapioca
1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon rind
1/3 cup sour cream
Ground cinnamon for garnish, optional

  1. Rinse and pick over berries. Drain well. Set aside.
  2. In a 3-quart sauce pan over medium-high heat, mix water, tapioca, 1/2 cup sugar, lemon juice, and grated lemon rind. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and add berries. Simmer, stirring constantly for 5 minutes. Remove from heat . Taste and stir in remaining 1/4 cup sugar, if desired.
  3. In a food processor or blender, puree soup in batches. Strain through a sieve lined with cheese cloth to remove any seeds. Transfer soup to a nonreactive bowl and let cool. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  4. To serve, stir well before ladling into soup bowls. Garnish each serving with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of cinnamon.

Makes about six 3/4-cup servings.
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Fresh Mint Peas

With Spring almost on its way for most of us, Im going to bring out one of the old recipes that I grew up with .  Fresh Mint Peas, my mom loved to garden, and silly her planted mint in the ground one year, un-knowing that once you do this, it will grow like a weed.  Needless to say, she makes the best of it and came up with quite a few mint recipes.  This is a very simple one, but is also quite good.  The refreshing mint lightens up the pea flavor, and its easily switched to a orange-mint pea dish with the substitution of orange juice instead of water to the dish.  Can be done with dried mint or extract, but it will not taste as good or light.

Fresh Mint Peas

1 cup frozen peas
1 Tbsp fresh mint chopped
1 Tbsp margarine or butter
2 Tbsp water

Bring to a boil and remove from heat.
Microwave on high for 4 minutes stirring after each 2 minutes.
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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Vanilla Orange Cupcakes

Vanilla Orange Cupcakes

1 3/4 c cake flour
1 c sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs, separated and whites beaten until stiff
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c orange juice
zest of two oranges
1 stick of butter, softened

  1. Combine butter, sugar, egg yolks, and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Cream these ingredients together thoroughly.
  2. Mix flour, salt, and baking powder together in a separate mixing bowl. Add dry ingredients to creamed ingredients 1/3 at a time alternating with adding portions of the orange juice and orange zest to the creamed mixture.
  3. Fold in beaten egg whites. Spoon batter into cupcake liners until 1/2 full.
  4. Bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

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Orange Swiss Meringue Buttercream

When I asked my daughter what kind of cupcakes she wanted for her birthday she replied "Orange", well without knowing if she just meant orange in color or orange in flavor I made her orange cupcakes with this Orange Swiss Meringue Buttercream.

Orange Swiss Meringue Buttercream

4 egg whites
3 sticks of unsalted butter, cut into 1Tbsp pieces, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
3 Tbsp orange juice
zest of one orange
2 drops orange oil (optional)


  1. Zest one orange and juice; set aside.
  2. Place sugar and egg whites in the heat-proof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water (make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the water and that steam doesn't get out, a double boiler works best for this). Whisk until sugar has dissolved and egg whites are hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. Test by rubbing the mixture between your fingers; it should feel completely smooth (you wont feel the sugar granules).
  3. Transfer bowl to mixer stand, making sure that you dont get any of the condensation from the bottom bowl into the egg whites. Using the whisk attachment, beat on high speed until mixture has cooled completely and formed stiff and glossy peaks (be careful not to over whip and dry out your egg whites), about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the butter, one piece at a time, and beat until incorporated after each addition. Don't worry if the buttercream appears curdled after all the butter has been added; it will become smooth again with continued beating. Add vanilla, and beat just until combined.
  5. Add orange juice, orange zest and salt and beat just until combined. Switch to the paddle attachment,and beat on the lowest speed to eliminate any air pockets, about 5 minutes until the strawberries are completely incorporated and all the air pockets are gone.

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Monday, January 10, 2011

Pastry Cream

Pastry cream... you've seen and tasted it... that rich creamy custard like cream thats inside cream puffs and eclairs, spread thinly across the bottom of a tart shell with fruit layered atop it.  Yes... pastry cream... so deliciously sinful yet surprisingly easy to make.  You can even flavor the cream with 1 ounce of unsweetened chocolate, or with toasted grated coconut, or even toasted pulverized nuts.  This is one of the recipes that we loved making back in my high school culinary class because it was simple and so versatile.

Pastry Cream

1c whole milk
1/4 c sugar
1 Tbsp, 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
pinch of salt
2 egg yolks
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla

  1. Bring the milk to a simmer in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Gradually add the hot milk to the sugar mixture, whisking constantly.
  2. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat. Stirring constantly, until the mixture boils and thickens slightly, 7-10 minutes.  
  3. Temper the egg yolks, whisking constantly.  To temper the egg yolks, add the very hot milk, a little at a time, to the egg yolks, to raise their temperature gradually. If it is added all at once it would cook the eggs and there would be chunks of cooked egg in the pastry cream. 
  4. Continue cooking the pastry cream, stirring until slightly thicker, about 2 minutes longer. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the butter.

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Phat Chai Sim Naam-Man Hawy (stir-fried Broccoli with Oyster sauce)

This is also a recipe from the new book I got "World Kitchen: Thailand". This recipe is VERY simple with few ingredients yet it tastes delicious.  I didn't have any Chinese broccoli so I used regular broccoli, but I doubt it changed the taste much (if any!)

Phat Chai Sim Naam-Man Hawy 
(stir-fried Broccoli with Oyster sauce)

350 g (12 oz) Chinese broccoli, cut into pieces
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 Tbsp oyster sauce
1 Tbsp light soy sauce

  1. Blanch the Chinese broccoli in boiling salted water for 2-3 minutes, drain thoroughly.
  2. Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan and stir-fry the garlic over medium heat until light brown.
  3. Add the Chinese broccoli and half of they oyster sauce and  the light soy sauce. Stir-fry over high heat for 1-2 minutes, or until the stems are just tender. Drizzle with the remaining oyster sauce.

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Muu Waan (Caramel pork)

I recently bought a book called "World Kitchen: Thailand". I have to say, if even a quarter of the 100+ recipes that are in this book are half as good as this one, it is well worth the price I paid for it and then some.
My family (and myself) absolutely LOVED this recipe!

The recipe suggests that it is served with steamed jasmine rice or sticky rice and a sharp flavored dish such as green papaya salad or pomelo salad.  I served mine with jasmine rise and broccoli with oyster sauce and it paired nicely.

Muu Waan (Caramel Pork)

Vegetable Oil (for deep frying)
75 g (3oz) Asian Shallots, thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
500 g (1 lb 2 oz) Shoulder or leg of pork, cut into thin slices
1 Tbsp oyster sauce
1 Tbsp light soy sauce
1 Tbsp fish sauce
4 Tbsp palm sugar (jaggery)
1/4 tsp ground white pepper

  1. Heat 5 cm (2 in) oil in a deep sauce pan or wok over medium heat and deep fry the shallots until they are golden brown. Be careful not to burn them. Remove them from the wok with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
  2. Drain the oil from the saucepan or wok, leaving 2 Tbsp in the pan. Stir-fry the garlic in the oil until light brown, add the pork and stir-fry for a few minutes. 
  3. Add the oyster sauce, light soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar and ground pepper. Continue cooking for 5 minutes, or until all liquid has evaporated and the mixture forms a thick sticky sauce.
  4. Spoon onto a serving plate and sprinkle with the crisp shallots.

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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Bourbon Chicken

Now I am a TOTAL sucker for the bourbon chicken that they have at the mall.  I honestly don't know what all they put in there to make it taste so awesome, but believe me this comes pretty close to that awesomeness.  Next time I'll make a double recipe so that I can have leftovers!

This recipe is a two day process... day one prep, day two eating!  Its well worth the wait, but I do suggest that you make sure that when the chicken goes into the fridge overnight that you have it sealed tightly... I mean VERY tightly.  I put my chicken in a gallon zip lock freezer bag and then put that into a large tupperware container.  When I opened up the tupperware container I got a BIG woosh of the marinade smell.. .yes even though it was in a sealed ziplock freezer bag the smell still came through... but not through the tupperware and into the other foods in my fridge.  Why then did I not just put it all in a tupperware to begin with and skip the bag? Because when you put it into a bag you squeeze out any extra air in the bag and so the marinade has direct contact with every bit of surface that the meat has, in just a tupperware some bits of chicken wont get the same amount of marinade... which is not good.

Bourbon Chicken

Day one:
1 1/2 lbs dark meat (I use pre cut- frozen thigh meat)

1/2 cup Soy Sauce
1/4 cup Bourbon
1/2 cup + 1Tbsp Brown sugar (packed)
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp garlic powder
pinch red pepper flakes (pinch is about 1/2 of 1/8tsp)

Day two:
1 recipe Chicken and marinade
1 tsp cornstarch
2-3 tsp water
2-3 tsp peanut oil


  1. Cut up chicken into bite size pieces, remove fat, place into a gallon size ziplock bag.
  2. In a small bowl mix together all ingredients of the marinade making sure that all sugar has dissolved. Pour mixture into bag over chicken, mix well; remove all remaining air in the bag and seal.  
  3. Place zip lock bag into a tight sealing container, if the container does not seal tightly the bourbon will leave an odor in your fridge and change the taste of your food in the fridge (including your milk.. yuck..). Marinate over night.
  4. The next day, drain as much chicken from marinate as you can (save marinate for later use).  I took my chicken & marinate bag and poured it into a sieve over my Tupperware bowl that it had been in overnight.
  5. Heat up your wok (or skillet) on medium-high. While pan is heating up, in a small cup mix together the cornstarch and water, mix together.  If more water is needed to make a thin liquid add one tsp of water.
  6. Once pan is hot add the peanut oil to the pan, once that is hot then add the chicken. Cook the chicken until it is brown, this should take 7-10 minutes.  Remember to brown the meat all of the retained marinate cooks out of the chicken.  For best browning I use a wok, and leave an open ring in the bottom so that the liquid can come out of the chicken and drain into the bottom and then cook off, but I stir often as to make sure that the chicken cooks evenly and doesnt dry out as well.
  7. Once chicken is browned, pour in the reserved marinate and cook until it begins to boil.  Once the mixture comes to a boil then slowly add in the cornstarch/water mixture.  If cornstarch mixture has settled, give it a quick stir to release the cornstarch from the bottom of the cup and then pour it into the chicken mixture.
  8. Stir until the marinate starts to thicken. Serve with fried or steamed rice and vegetables if preferred. I served mine with steamed Jasmine rice and stir fried vegetables... it was great!

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