Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Sweet and Sour Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

This is the amazing and time consuming dish I made for my amazing mother's 60th birthday, here is the original recipe.  For my mother's 60th my father, her and a bunch of their close friends all went to Silcox Hut which looks breathtaking, above Timberline lodge over 7,000 feet up.  It is an adventure I hope to take one day although I do get really bad vertigo and wonder how flat it is that high up...  In other news I don't even know where to begin when it comes to discussing how disgusted and sad I am about the state of #Ferguson, but this article from the Washington Post sheds some light on the reality of the situation: "Ferguson isn't about black rage against cops.  It's white rage against progress."  On that note eat well and don't forget that love is what it is all about.

Makes 16 rolls

The Ingredients

Cabbage Rolls:
1 large head green cabbage, about 2 to 2¼ pounds

2 pounds ground beef

2 eggs (not necessary, you can leave them out, but they do make the meat fluffier)

1 large onion, grated or minced

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup raw long-grain white rice

Tomato Sauce:
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil

2 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 large onion, chopped (medium dice)

2 15-ounce cans tomato sauce or one 32-ounce can whole tomatoes, pulsed in a food processor with juice until pureed.

juice of one lemon or 2 tablespoons (or more to taste) apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup light brown sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

½ cup golden or regular raisins (optional)

Chopped parsley, for garnish

The Process

1. Core the cabbage. Carefully separate the leaves. Blanch 16 large leaves in boiling water for about 1 minute, or until bright green and just softened. Immediately refresh the blanched leaves in ice water. Drain and reserve. OR, freeze head of cabbage for two days then defrost, core, peel off leaves and roll cabbage rolls. Another method is, place the cabbage in the microwave for 6 minutes. The core will slip right out and the leaves will be perfect for rolling. (I used this method)

2. Chop some of the remaining leaves to make 1 cup of chopped cabbage and reserve.

3. Mix the ground beef with the eggs, grated onion, garlic, salt, pepper, and rice. Divide this mixture into sixteen 2-ounce balls. Using moistened hands, form the balls into cylinders.

4. Place a cylinder of filling near the bottom of a cabbage leaf. Begin to roll it up, folding both sides over the filling, and finish rolling to enclose the filling, like an egg roll. Continue, filling and rolling all the cabbage leaves. Place them, seam side down, on a tray or baking sheet. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

5. Over medium heat, melt the butter in a heavy, nonreactive saucepan. Sauté the second onion until soft and golden. Add the garlic and saute for 2 more minutes, then add the reserved chopped cabbage and sauté briefly.

6. Add the tomato sauce, lemon juice, brown sugar, salt and pepper to taste, and stir to combine. Increase the heat until it comes to a boil, then lower it and simmer for 5 minutes. Add raisins now, if using.

7. Line of the bottom of a 13 x 9 roasting pan or glass dish with a layer of sauce. Place cabbage rolls, seam side down, on top of sauce. Top cabbage rolls with remaining sauce then cover the whole pan with tin foil.

8. Bake for 2 hours in a preheated 350F oven.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Cantonese Egg Custard with Minced Pork

Friendsgiving (picture below) and my mom's 60th birthday were both a huge hit this weekend and in the midst of it all I got to see the new Hunger Games: Mockingjay part 1(you should definitely see it).  Luckily this week will be short and sweet due to my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving!  I didn't get enough down time this past weekend and I really need some me time/home time.  I made this recipe last Thursday for one of my best friends and we both enjoyed it very much, NomNom Paleo is an amazing cooking blog.  The one thing that caught me up was trying to find a heat safe dish to fit in the biggest pot I had...so my custard actually had to lean as it cooked that is why it looks so uneven in the picture.  I served this with lemony asparagus.

Serves 4

The Ingredients

For the filling:
1 teaspoon bacon fat

1 small shallot, minced

½ pound ground pork (or your favorite protein)

3-4 asparagus stalks, thinly sliced

3 fresh cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon Red Boat fish sauce

2 teaspoons tamari

freshly ground black pepper

For the custard:
3 large eggs

¾ cup water

1 teaspoon Red Boat fish sauce

For the garnish:
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

2 green onion stalks, thinly sliced

The Process

1.  Heat the bacon fat in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the shallots and the pork to the pan, breaking up the meat with a spatula.  Saute the filling until the shallots are softened and the pork is no longer pink.

2.  Toss in the chopped asparagus and cremini mushrooms and stir-fry for about a minute or until the asparagus turns bright green.  Season the meat and veggies with fish sauce, tamari, and freshly ground pepper. Taste the filling and adjust the flavors if needed.

3.  Next, spoon the meat and veggies into a shallow, heat-proof dish.  While the filling cools slightly, prep your steamer set-up.  Fill a large stock pot with about two inches of water.  Pop a steamer into the stock pot and cover.

4.  Bring the water to a boil in the covered pot over high heat.  As the water in the steamer comes to a boil, make the egg custard by combining the eggs and water. (3 large eggs get you to the ⅔ cup mark—to that, add ¾ cup water.)  Pour the egg mixture over the meat and veggie filling.

5.  Once the water in the steamer is boiling, turn the heat down to medium to maintain a hard simmer.  Carefully place your egg custard on the steamer rack in the pot and cover the dish with another heat-proof glass plate, turned upside-down.

6.  Replace the lid on the pot and steam for 15-20 minutes or until the custard is fully set.  The custard’s ready when it is still slightly jiggly and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  Drizzle on some toasted sesame oil, and garnish the savory egg custard with chopped fresh cilantro and green onions.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Cream-Braised Chicken with Spinach and Potatoes

Yesterday I was at a loss and didn't know what to make for dinner.  Even after researching a bunch of recipes it seemed every single one had an ingredient or two that I would have to go to the store for...and my mission was to avoid going to the store at all costs last night.  It just gets so exhausting always having to run to the store a grab a couple ingredients to make all the exotic dinners that I do, so sometimes I rebel.  Last night I also got to talk to one of my best friends who sadly had to move away to Florida several years ago and I miss her dearly.  We had a very long and awesome conversation, but have you ever tried cooking a new recipe while talking on the phone?  Let me tell you it is not that easy, trying to read a recipe and listen to someone talking at the same time is just one of the challenges.  Anyway here is the original recipe that I adapted due to me rebelling against the store, I bet it would be really good with Swiss chard or kale.  Time for the recipe!

Serves 3-4

The Ingredients

3 chicken drumsticks, skin on and bone-in

3 chicken thighs, skin on and bone-in

Salt & Pepper

Olive oil

1 large golden potato, quartered

2 shallots, minced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

3 sprigs fresh thyme

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

3 cups fresh spinach

1 teaspoon lemon zest (from 1 lemon)

3 cups low-sodium chicken stock

1/2 cup heavy cream

Salt to taste

Handful of Italian parsley, chopped

The Process

1. Start by prepping your chicken: wash the chicken and thoroughly pat dry using paper towels. Sprinkle the chicken with a few pinches of salt and pepper on both sides.

2. To a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over moderately medium to high heat. When the oil is hot, place the chicken, skin-side down and cook until the skin is crispy and browned, about 3 to 5 minutes. Flip the chicken, using a pair of tongs, and cook for an additional minute or so. You want to avoid overcrowding the pot, so you most likely will have to do this in batches. Remove the chicken from the pan and set it aside in a bowl.

3. You may find that the chicken’s skin has released a lot of grease. We don’t want all of that in the dish so dump out most of it, leaving about 1 tablespoon (eyeball this measurement). Place the pot over medium heat and when hot, add the potatoes, cooking them on each side until browned and crispy, about 1 minute. Remove them from the pan and set aside.

4. Throw in the shallot and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Next, add the cumin, coriander and fresh thyme. Pour in the red wine vinegar and using a spoon, deglaze the bottom of pan, scraping up any browned, crispy bits. Add the spinach, lemon zest and chicken stock. Add the chicken and potatoes back to the pot, being sure to nestle them into the mixture.

5. Bring the chicken mixture to a simmer and turn the heat to low; cover the pot and cook for 45 minutes, until the potatoes and chicken are cooked. Mix in the heavy cream and salt the mixture to taste (I added about 1 teaspoon). Cook for an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Divide between bowls and top with a sprinkling of fresh Italian parsley.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Shami Kebab

Last night I made an awesome new Pakistani dish which made me realize I haven't ever eaten or made Pakistani food, it was delicious!  I'm excited for this weekend, not only is the family getting together and celebrating my mom's birthday but on Saturday night I am attending a "friendsgiving." This is a Thanksgiving with friends and I look forward to it every year because Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and I get to celebrate it twice!  This year I am going to make Brussels Sprouts with Shallot and Salt Pork, here is the recipe.  I made this dish with saffron rice and a parsley onion salad. I slightly adapted this recipe.  Enjoy.

Serves 3

The Ingredients

1 lb ground beef

1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped

4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1 inch ginger, roughly chopped

1 serrano pepper, roughly chopped

1 tbs bacon fat

1 tsp Fine Sea Salt

2 tbs Almond Flour

small handful cilantro, chopped

1 egg

The Process

1.  Blend onion, serrano pepper, ginger, garlic and 1 tbs water in a food processor - blend until it forms a watery paste.

2.  Add 1 tbs ghee to a saute pan on medium heat and cook the onion mixture, stirring occasionally, until it begins to turn golden brown - this will take about 15 mins.

3.  Add spices and stir-fry for a minute then add the ground meat.  Once the ground meat has browned, allow it to cool.

4.  Put the cooled meat in the food processor to mince the meat.

5.  Then put minced meat, cilantro, almond flour and egg into a bowl and mix well - shape into patties. Refrigerate patties for an hour or until you are ready to shallow fry.

6.  Shallow fry the patties with the bacon fat in a cast iron skillet until golden brown, using a fork to gently flip them over to cook both sides.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Thai Chicken Tacos

Yesterday we lost someone very very important in the world, Leslie Feinberg.  If you don't know who this is you should read up on the amazing work she did as a transgender pioneer.  In other news this weekend is my mother's 60th birthday so we are going to have a big wonderful dinner Friday night to celebrate.  I will be making the main dish, which will be stuffed cabbage rolls.  I haven't ever made these and they take almost 3 hours to make...hopefully I don't screw them up!  I am constantly searching for new and different recipes because I like the challenge and I love trying new food, especially from different cultures.  If any of you have a recipe from a different culture that you absolutely love, it would be great if you could share it with me.  Tonight I will be making this Pakistani dish with my Lebanese parsley onion salad and saffron rice, it will be delightful.  These adapted tacos were really delicious so enjoy!

Serves 2

The Ingredients

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. tamari
salt and pepper
2 Tbsp. olive oil
6 small corn tortillas
2 cups shredded cabbage
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions

The Process
1.  In a large bowl or a Ziplock bag, toss the bite-sized chicken pieces with the rice vinegar and tamari until evenly coated. Let marinate for anywhere from 15 minutes to 4 hours.
2.  In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Remove chicken from marinade with a slotted spoon, and add to pan. Season immediately with salt and pepper. Saute for 5-7 minutes, turning occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink inside. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.
3.  In a bowl mix together cabbage, cilantro, and green onions.  Lay out tortillas on a work surface. Portion out the shredded cabbage mix and cooked chicken into the center of each tortilla. Drizzle the chicken in each tortilla with Thai peanut sauce. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Julia Child's French Onion Soup

I hate to admit it but this is my first time making any of Julia Child's recipes...and that obviously needs to change because I love her and French food.  I have been wanting to make French onion soup for a while now, it started when I went to the beach with a lovely group of friends in early October and they made a very delicious version of the soup and it reminded me that I hadn't made it in many many years (here is a link to my own recipe I made back in 2011).  This is a link to Julia Child's original recipe, I only slightly adapted it.  This last weekend was so relaxing, we had almost no plans and loved every minute of it.  On Saturday we went and saw Nightcrawler with Jake Gyllenhaal, it was a dark comedy and I would recommend seeing it...although it isn't a movie I would say is worth owning.  Then on Sunday I had plans to make the Lebanese version of Dolmas, one of my best friends is Lebanese and she has a family recipe we were going to use.  After we bought almost all of the ingredients we were still hunting for jarred (pickled) grape leaves...6 stores later including World Market which always has a ton of international food we still had no grape leaves.  Every store kept saying they stopped carrying them because nobody was buying them.  At this point we decided to give up and reschedule our Dolma making, we are hoping that we can find the grape leaves at a Mediterranean store.  So if you plan to make Dolmas be aware and plan ahead.  Another thing I need to invest in is a set of oven safe ramekins or bowls so I can host a French onion soup night!  Onto the recipe!

Serves 6

The Ingredients

5 -6 cups yellow onions, thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 to 2 lbs)

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons flour

5 cups beef stock

1 cup beef consomme

1 cup white wine

1 bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon ground sage

salt and pepper

14 Swiss cheese slices

1/2 raw yellow onion

3 tablespoons cognac

6 slices French bread (about 1 inch thick)

4 tablespoons olive oil, for drizzling

The Process

1.  Place heavy bottom stock pot or dutch over over medium-low heat.  Add 1 Tbs cooking oil, 2Tbs butter to pot.

2.  Add sliced onions and stir until they are evenly coated with the oil.  Cover and cook for about 20 minutes until they are very tender and translucent.

3.  To brown or caramelize the onions turn heat under pot to medium or medium high heat.  Add 1/2 tsp sugar and 1 tsp salt and continue to cook uncovered, stirring frequently until the onions have browned and reduced significantly.

4.  Once caramelized, reduce heat to medium-low and add 3 Tbs flour to the onions.  Brown the flour for about 2-3 minutes trying not to scorch it. (If the flour does not form a thick paste, you can add a bit more butter here).

5.  Stir in about 1 cup of warm stock, scraping the bottom of the pan to get up all of the cooked-on bits.  Add the rest of the stock, consomme, wine, sage, and bay leaf to the soup.  Simmer for 30 minutes.

6.  To make the "croutes" (toasted bread), heat oven to 325 degrees F.  Drizzle each side of the bread slices with a bit of olive oil and place on baking sheet.  Cook the croutes for 15 minutes in oven on each side (30 minutes total).

7.  Check the soup for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed.  Remove the bay leaf (if you can find it).  At this point you can add the 2-3 Tbs cognac and grate the 1/2 raw onion into the soup.  Add a 2 slices (ripped apart) of the Swiss cheese directly into the soup and stir

8.  Transfer to 6 oven safe bowls.  Place 1 toasted bread on top of each bowl of soup, then place 2 slices of Swiss cheese over each bowl in a thick layer on top of the bread making sure to cover the edges of the toast to prevent burning.

9.  Place all bowl on a cookie sheet (to prevent spilling) in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes. Then turn on broiler and brown cheese well.

10.  Let cool for a few minutes.  Bon Apetit!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Caramelized Onion, Mushroom, Pear & Parmesan Tartlets

Tonight I was suppose to attend my book club meeting but something came up and now I am unable, that being said we read the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking...it was ok but I wasn't very entertained.  Anyway at our book club meetings we usually eat, drink, and discuss the book and come up with a new book to read, I unfortunately already made appetizers to bring over there and now they are just sitting in my fridge just waiting to be consumed.  Also how about that Blazer game last night against the Hornets?  We played horribly and then totally won because of pure luck at the end...Go Blazers!  Here is the original recipe that I adapted to make these delicious bites, they are a good option to bring to all of the holiday parties coming up.  Guess I will just keep this post short and sweet, enjoy!

Makes 30-32 bites

The Ingredients

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 large onion, thinly sliced

4 oz. crimini mushrooms, sliced

2 tbsp. salted butter

1½ Anjou Pears, cubed into ½" cubes

1 tsp. brown sugar

1½ oz. grated Parmesan cheese

2 tbsp. chives, minced

½ tsp. dried thyme

1 package (1 pound) of frozen puff pastry, thawed

1 egg, beaten

The Process

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats. Set side.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and cook the onions (with 1 tsp. of salt) until they're golden brown, about 30 minutes. Remove and set aside in a large bowl. 

2.  In the same skillet, sauté mushrooms until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside in the bowl with the onions.

3.  In the same skillet, melt the butter and add in the pears with the sugar. Cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Remove from pan and add to the large bowl with onions and mushrooms.

4.  Add the cheese, chives, and thyme to the bowl and stir to combine the mixture well. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

5.  With a pizza cutter or a knife, cut the puff pastry into 2-inch squares and place them on the lined baking sheets. Using a pastry brush, brush beaten egg on the squares.

6.  Using a tablespoon, place filling in the middle of each puff pastry.
Bake for 25 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through and switching the baking sheet on the top rack to the bottom and the bottom to the top, until the pastry is golden brown and crisp.