Friday, June 19, 2015

I'm in Rio!

I'm researching for my Brazilian cookbook (among other things)! So no recipes this week! Or next! Though I might post pictures of yummy food!

Enjoy your June!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Chinese Sauteed Green Beans

Nothing tastes as good as fresh green beans. But sometimes I get tired of doing the same treatment to them. So for Chinese week, we tried a new green bean recipe. These beans turned out so flavorful and crisp!

Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
1 lb. green beans, ends trimmed
2 T soy sauce
1 t sugar
1/4 t ground white pepper
1/2 C trimmed and sliced scallions
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 t dark sesame oil

Chinese food goes together really quickly, so having the ingredients prepared and in separate bowls beforehand makes all the difference. Prepare the green beans and put them in a large bowl. Put the sliced green onions and garlic in another bowl. Mix the sugar, white pepper, and soy sauce in a third bowl.

Heat the vegetable oil in a wok over medium high heat. Make sure the oil comes 1 and 1/2 inches up the sides. Add the green beans and fry until they are bright green and starting to shrivel, about five minutes.

Remove the green beans and discard all but 2 Tablespoons of the oil.

Stir-fry the scallions and garlic for 20 seconds and return the green beans to the wok. Stir-fry for one minute. Add the soy sauce mixture and stir-fry for one more minute.

Add the sesame oil and serve immediately!

Pictured here with rice and crispy orange beef.


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Ground Pork and Cilantro noodles (Dan Dan noodles)

After we did French week, we moved to Chinese food! Yeah, big switch. Anyway, this is my Americanized version of Chinese Dan-Dan noodles. Quick and easy! There are two sauces to these dishes. I make them up while the noodles are cooking so they are ready to pour.

2 T peanut butter
2 green onions, sliced
1/2 t pepper
3 T soy sauce
1 t sugar
1/2 t hot chili oil
1 T balsamic vinegar
10 oz. ground pork
1/2 T minced garlic
1/2 C minced red onion
2 T bean paste (optional)
2 T rice wine (mirin)
1 lb. angel hair
1 T vegetable oil
1 T sesame oil
1/2 C chicken broth
1/4 coarsely chopped peanuts
10 cilantro springs

Cook the noodles according to package directions. While they cook, prepare the ground pork. Place the pork and half the green onions in a bowl.

In your serving bowl, mix the peanut butter with 1/4 C hot water. Whisk until smooth. Add the pepper and half the green onions, 2 T of the soy sauce, the sugar, hot chili oil, and vinegar. Mix well and set aside.

Mix the other half of green onions with the garlic, red onion, and bean paste in another bowl.

Mix the rice wine and 1 T of soy sauce in another bowl.

Heat a wok or large frying pan over high heat. Add the vegetable oil and heat until shimmery. Add the pork mixture and stir-fry, breaking up the meat with the spoon, about 30 seconds.

Add the garlic mixture and stir-fry for ten seconds. Add the rice wine mixture and stir fry for 10 more seconds. Add the sesame oil and stir-fry 5 second. Turn off the heat but keep it warm.

Bring the 1/2 C chicken broth to a boil and add it to the peanut butter mixture in the serving bowl. Mix until blended.

Pour the prepared noodles (cooked and drained) into the serving bowl on top of the peanut butter sauce. 

Pour the ground pork mixture on top of the noodles.

Garnish with the crushed peanuts and cilantro.

Serve immediately! This is sure to be a hit with everyone in the family!


Monday, June 15, 2015

Mango Flan

I love flan. So when I had several pounds of ripe mangoes to use up, I was super excited to try this recipe. If you like flan and mangoes, you'll love this!

1 C plus 1/3 C sugar
1/2 C hot water
2 T light corn syrup
2 (1 lb each) mangoes, peeled and pitted
1 T lime juice
3/4 C + 2 T half and half
5 large eggs

Puree mangoes in a blender or a food processor. 

Whisk mango puree, lime juice, and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat until mixture thickens, about five minutes. Cool slightly.

Whisk half and half and eggs in a large bowl.

Stir in the mango mixture. Strain custard.

Combine 1 cup sugar, 1/2 C hot water, and corn syrup in heavy medium saucepan. Stir over medium-low until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil without stirring until syrup is a deep amber color, about six minutes.

 Immediately pour into 8 custard or ramekins cups, dividing equally.

Pour custard over caramel in custard cups, dividing equally. 

Place custard cups on a rimmed baking sheet and fill with water to come halfway up the sides.

Cover pan with foil. Bake at 350 degrees F until just set in center, about 35 minutes. Turn off heat. Leave covered in oven for 30 minutes longer. Remove and refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and chill overnight.

Run small knife around the sides of 1 flan. Place plate on top of the cup and invert the flan onto the plate, allowed the caramel to run over the flan. Remove cup and repeat with the others.

Best served cold!


Friday, June 12, 2015

The value of cookbooks

With the advent of the internet and the increasingly available food websites, cookbooks seem less and less necessary. I mean, who needs to buy a paper copy of something when you can easily do a search for recipes that use the ingredients you have in your fridge? Or watch how a recipe is created on YouTube? You'd need a dozen cookbooks to get the twelve different recipes you can find on one website for your annual Christmas party.

Well, I've got the dozen. And then some.

I guess you could call me a cookbook collector. I've met other cookbook collectors, and we all collect a little differently. Some collect for value, seeking out old and antique cookbooks. Others are looking for beautiful coffee-table books to read and display. Some simply want every cookbook they can get their hands on.

Me, I like the ones that offer something different. I want one of each. One from every country, one for every different kind of food (like pies, ice-cream, bread, pizza, get the idea). There's just one rule to stay on my cookbook shelf: I have to actually use the cookbook. If I keep skipping the cookbook because the food never looks appealing, or I've learned from sad experience that no one in my family enjoys the recipes, that cookbook gets donated. I consider my collection very selective and useful.

But why, you may wonder. Why have all those cookbooks taking up space when I could find everything online?

The internet is a wonderful thing, and I use to peruse it a lot before I began collecting cookbooks. I'd find a recipe and print it out, and then paste it into a book where I pasted all the recipes I cut out off of boxes and out of magazines. Because I like to have my recipes in hard copy. I like to change the amounts and the increments. I like to substitute ingredients. I like to write down on the recipe what I liked and what I did it and how many times I've made it.

I'm not patient enough to do that with the internet.

I'm always glad for the internet if I'm in a hurry or looking for something particular. But I'm not likely to give up cookbooks anytime soon.

What are your thoughts on cookbooks? Do you have any? Do you use them?


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Cream cheese and Butternut Squash soup

Sometimes, you need a crockpot meal. This soup makes quick and easy work of a butternut squash. Make sure you have a large enough one or your soup will be too strong.

2 T butter
1/2 C chopped onion
1 (2 lb.) butternut squash
3 C water
1/2 t marjoram
1/4 t black pepper
1/8 t cayenne pepper
4 chicken-flavor bouillon cubes
1 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, cubed

Peel and cube the butternut squash, scraping out and discarding the seeds.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion. Cook until tender, stirring occasionally.

Combine onion and all remaining ingredients except the cream cheese in a slow-cooker. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Remove the contents to a blender in batches and process until smooth. Return mixture to slow-cooker.

Add the cream cheese. Cover; cook on low an additional 30 minutes or until cheese is melted. Stir with a wire whisk until smooth.

Pour into bowls and serve with bread or crackers!


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Smoked Sausage and Summer Squash

If you've got smoked sausage, you can made a dish with almost any vegetable. This is my take on summer squash. Easy, quick, and healthy!

3 summer squash, sliced
12 oz. smoked sausage, sliced
1/4 C parmesan cheese
1/4 t garlic powder

Heat the sausage in a frying pan. Allow it to brown.

Scoot the sausage to the side and add the summer squash. Put in a tablespoon of butter if needed for cooking.

Cook gently for about five minutes, turning and stirring. You want the squash to cook but not loose form.

Remove from heat and place in a serving bowl. Sprinkle on the parmesan cheese and garlic powder.



Monday, June 8, 2015

Caramelized Apples and Rice Pudding

Another fabulous French recipe! Rice pudding with caramelized apples.


for the pudding:
1/2 C arborio rice
4 C whole milk
1/3 C sugar
2 t vanilla

for the apples:
2 sweet apples
1/4 C sugar
lemon juice
1 T butter, cut into three pieces
1/2 C apple juice
1/2 C heavy cream

Bring 3 cups of water and salt to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the rice and boil for 10 minutes. Drain and reserve the rice. Put the milk and sugar in the pan and bring to a boil. Add the rice and lower the heat to medium-low. Cook the rice for 40 minutes or until most of the milk has been absorbed, but not all of it.

Add the vanilla. Put the pudding in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it cool to room temperature.

Prepare the apples right before serving. Peel and dice the apples. Put the sugar in the middle of a nonstick skillet. Moisten with a splash of lemon juice and turn the heat to medium-high. 

When the sugar starts to bubble, tilt the pan and spread the sugar around.

Add the butter. Stand back! It might splash.

Add the cider and the salt, then the apples. Bring to a boil. Cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes or until the apples are tender.

Pour in the heavy cream and cook another minute. Turn into a heatproof bowl and let cool until just slightly warm.

Spoon the pudding into bowls and place the caramelized apple mixture on top.

Also excellent cold!


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In my pursuit to getting a cookbook published, I'm trying to develop my credibility as a food writer, and not just an author.