A food world devoted to the young chef and those young at heart

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Cornbread Dressing

Finals are completed, my dad is home after surgery, the furnace is fixed, and presents are safely stashed under the tree, now I can COOK! *does a wild 10 minute dance of joy*

So the recipe i have been dying to try for weeks now was made and was thoroughly enjoyed: Corn Bread Dressing. I used this recipe...basically, our household can never follow something step by step. Some of our own spices here, saute instead of roast, more carrots, less mushrooms etc.

So the epicurious version:http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Cornbread-Dressing-with-Roasted-Fall-Vegetables-240386
My substitutes:
  • Turnips instead of rutabagas
  • Special family poultry seasoning
  • Saute mushrooms and garlic
  • Reduced the recipe to one egg
The result: yum. Not overwhelmingly fantastic and probably not a replacement for Thanksgiving stuffing but still delicious. I will be making this every once in a while for lunch and an easy dinner, for sure!

The cornbread seemed nontraditional at first glance but besides tasting uber fab in the dressing, on its own it was wonderful. The main ingredients are corn meal and eggs resulting in a pure and lovely flavor. Next time i make the dressing I will go heavier on the parsnips and turnips to insure that their flavor isn't overwhelmed by the carrots and herbs.

I served it with an over easy egg, treating the dressing like a hash, or polish sausage, which acted as a true compliment to the home style aromas and flavors.

Anyway what was your Christmas Eve meal?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Taste of Home: Potato Soup

          Whenever my mom stirs together this creamy kettle of warmth, nothing that was ever upsetting me has any affect. The subtle heat of chili flakes and the cool milky broth melt with the comforting potatoes and one seeps into calm contentment.

So for the recipe:

Potato Soup
serves 6-8

  • 2-2 1/2 lbs of potatoes (Yukon golds are fab but your standard Idaho will work too), sliced into 1/2 in cubes
  • 3 or more large stalks of celery, cleaned and chopped
  • 1/2 -1 large onion diced
  • 2 cups of milk
  • Red pepper flakes and/or garlic chili paste
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

1. Saute the onions in olive oil until almost clear in a Dutch oven or large pot, add celery and saute.
2. Next, add the potatoes and enough water to cover. Complete with a dash of salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Leave on medium heat with the lid off until the potatoes are cooked through.
3. Once the potatoes are done, pour in the milk and garlic chili paste to taste. Bring back to heat and serve.
*optional* garnish with arugula and some whole wheat toast

3 very easy steps to heaven in a dish :)

Oh Dear...

Hello? Hello? Is anyone still reading?
Its been over a month since our last food adventure...I'm truly and heart-felt-ly apologetic.
And now the greatest food day of the year, Thanksgiving, has past me by. I did not present any such recipe for an eager Foodie to experiment with over the holiday BUT it is never to late, hopefully. I will be posting some Left-Over Recipes and, because I am celebrating another Thanksgiving today, perhaps you could still be interested in some dessert recipes??? Huh, Yeah? Never to late for dessert in my opinion and it is still fall, so why not enjoy pumpkin and other delicacies while we can.

So a "what's coming up next" list: comforting winter soup, pumpkin desserts of a variety, and the epitome of fall vegetables dressing/stuffing main dish meal.

Please don't give up on me yet!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fish Phyllo

I don't care how you pronounce it, phyllo is one of the most delicious delicacies. With a dash of olive oil the pale dough is transformed into gold with a momentary visit from oven. Layers of flaking crisp-ness complement so many flavors and, in this case, fish. My parents invented this dish and many may be confused with the fish of choice, Basa, huh? Basa, related but no the same as the swai, originated in the rivers of Vietnam. A white fleshed catfish of pure wonder. It may be my favorite food of the sea. So light and wholesome with an engrossing melt in your mouth flavor. Tis the fish for all those who think they do not like fish. (and on a totally random note, it is apparently the mascot of Thailand)

Fish in Phyllo
set oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit

note: To warn you this recipe may be a little unclear, this is due to the surprising thickness of the phyllo we purchased. So for this recipe I called for a "rustic" thick phyllo, but if all you can find is thin you should use multiple layers.
  • 2 medium fillets of Basa (or Swai, which seems to be very common in the grocery store now a days and has the same flavors of Basa) (if you're not a fish person, chicken works just as well)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Lemon zest
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Rustic style/thicker phyllo (see note)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil and a brush
Begin by cutting the fillets (with a heavy duty knife) while frozen into thirds or so. Pair up any tinier pieces into a serving you feel is justified.

Lay out a piece of phyllo, brush with olive oil everywhere (don't be frightened of oil, its important to create colour along with flavor). Add a serving of fish (or chicken) season with salt, pepper, red pepper and zest.

Take one side of phyllo, fold it over the fish and lightly olive oil (to insure the other fold sticks). Fold the other side and olive oil the edges you will fold next. Place on a cookie sheet folded side down. Repeat for however many serving you have.

Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, or until bottom is golden. Flip the fish over and bake until the other side is also crisp. Serve with sauteed zucchini, yellow squash, arugula salad (see past posting) or what ever strikes you as being fabulous. Enjoy.

A little history on phyllo (for anyone uber curious):
Phyllo first appeared in central Asia, near the of areas Mongolia and Siberia. Though not as thin as today's later phyllo doughs, it was an unleavened sheet commonly folded. Composed of water, flour and a small amount of oil, the real work comes in making it so thin. Continuous folding and rolling depicts the process until the the dough reaches the ultimate thinness. Phyllo is seen in many nation's food history, from Greece and Bulgaria to Egypt and Turkey.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

I'm Still Here!

*knock knock knock* Is anyone out there? Well either way, empty space, cramped apartment, suburbia, if someone is reading this, I'm still posting :). I have just been at a stunt lately as for what to cook. Homework weighs heavy and I have no good excuse to create something new in the kitchen, BUT, inspiration has struck me again and more recipes are on there way so be prepared, be excited, be eager!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Egg Addiction...first step is acceptance

If any one's reading, I was just curious your favorite accompaniment to eggs is? how you like them? etc.

I adore over easy eggs. The center silently bursts, the warm golden yolk deluges across the plate and melts me into a puddle of joy. Mushrooms and eggs are like bffs. They complement each other so grandly. Sometimes eggs have an affair with caramelized onions, almost as delicious, they meld together beautifully. When this trio converges, pure and simple magic, ymmmmmm.

So here is what I made the other day: Cut some fingerling potatoes into thin discs, goldened then up on the skillet and sauteed mushrooms with onion. I then cooked some frozen spinach with red pepper flakes and placed the delicate over-easy egg on top.

So please, comment and share your magic egg dishes (ps check out my Gourmet Egg Muffin recipe too)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The secret to Curry....

We ventured to one of our last trips to the Farmer's Market (frowny face). School is weighing heavy on my schedule and life running away from the carefree daze of summer.
On this last adventure to the market, prices were high and tomatoes were scarce but determined to reap the benefits of the escapade we found some key wonders: sharp bitter Arugula, green and purple string beans, stunning-ly yellow sweet corn, spaghetti squash, delicate little potatoes and creamy Gouda goat cheese (more for my parents then for me).

On this day I finally ventured into my Bon Appetit magazine and was inspired by this recipe: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2010/09/summer_vegetable_ragout_with_exotic_curry_sauce

I was thrilled, I could use some of our over abundance of zucchini and yellow squash, almost everything we got at market, our nice curry power-wait...no carrot juice...what if...yes...it could work....The secret to a grand curry:
 that's right baby food.

Okay so the recipe:
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cubed chuck-il-ly
  • 1 stalk lemon grass, cut into large pieces so you can remove before serving
  • 1 tbsp diced fresh ginger (more or less)
  • 1 diced green apple (something more tart than sweet), diced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp curry powder (Madras is a good quality)
  • Not quite a tbsp of flour and oil (for a rue)
  • 3 jars pure carrot baby food, plus additional water to get everything our of jar
Saute the onion and carrot with some olive oil until onion is almost clear, add ginger, lemon grass and green apple. Cook until carrot tender. Saute curry powder and then add oil and flour, stir. Add baby food and water, bring to a boil and simmer until the sauce is thick. Set aside.

Now the veggies:
  • 1 medium-Small zucchini, diced chunky
  • 1 medium-small yellow squash, diced chunky
  • 1 medium-small eggplant, diced chunky
  • 1 cup of frozen corn
  • 1 cup or so green beans
  • 1/2 16oz can garbanzo beans 
In another pan, heat the oil and saute the squash, zucchini and eggplant. Add corn and beans, cook until tender. Add chickpeas.
Combine sauce and veggie saute in one pan and bring back to a simmer.

Serve with a garnish of arugula and basil (the basil is a must, sooooo awesome!)

The combination of flavors is so abundantly thrilling, the sauce is a great standard to come back to and make curries with what ever veg is available for the season. I think in the winter I'll do a sweet potatoes curry.....*melting into a puddle of joyous*

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Asian Food is the Ultimate!

Right here, right now, I am admitting to you all, I am an Asian food junkie. Acceptance is the first step... but I am not planning on giving up this addiction, sorry its way to scrumptious.
So to feed my hunger, we made a Stir-fry with pot stickers for dinner. We used deep purple bitter cabbage, crisp bean sprouts, earthy mushrooms, delicate green peas, crunchy carrots, the powers of garlic and magical ginger........................pardon me, my mouth was watering.

Cabbage Stir-Fry with Pot Stickers
serves 4-6
  • 1/2 of a purple onion, diced
  • 2 large heads of garlic
  • 1 tbsp diced fresh ginger
  • 1 cup of match-stick baby carrots
  • Some mushrooms (optional, we had some from the market we needed to use)
  • 1/2 a medium purple cabbage, sliced into ribbons
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • Sauce (recipe below)
  • Desired amount of frozen pot stickers (we use Ling Ling)
Prepare your pot stickers according to the package and keep in the oven on warm while you prepare the stir-fry.
Heat a wok or large skillet with some oil over high heat. Sauteing the onions until clear and add the ginger along with the garlic. Cook until the garlic has a slight gold colour (if you begin to experience to much sticking to the point of burning, add water/ adjust heat).

If using mushrooms, add them now and saute until golden.Now add the carrots, allow them to stir-fry until they are tender yet still retain bite/snap. 

Next the cabbage and bean sprouts go in, cover the pot with a lid at this point until the cabbage has slightly wilted down (a few minutes). Lastly stir in your peas and sauce (recipe below). Cover and wait a few moments for the sauce to thicken and the peas/cabbage are cooked through.

Serve with pot-stickers and a cilantro garnish.

 Mix the following:

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce

  • Garlic Chili Paste (to taste) (Huey Fong Chili Garlic Sauce 8 Oz)

  • Pepper (to taste)

  • Scarce dribble of toasted sesame oil (this is very strong to be careful)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Arugala Salad

A delicately wonderful salad to pair with fish, chicken or beef or double the recipe for a main dish. I am posting this to go along with the hamburger post I wrote about earlier.

Arugula Salad
pre heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
Serves 3 side servings

  • 1/2 lb potatoes (Yukon gold, Red, Idaho, most any variety should work)
  • Less than a tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 3 cups Arugula
  • 5 cups Spring Mix
  • Dijon Mustard dressing
Cut away the ugly parts of the potato and slice into 1/4 - 1/2 inch discs. Line a cookie sheet with foil and toss the potatoes with the olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Lay out the potatoes across the cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until one side is golden brown. Once they have reached their caramelized perfection flip them over and allow them to bake another 10 minutes.
Place a bed of spring mix on each plate, top with arugula and some potatoes, drizzle desired dressing and serve.

The bitter peppery arugula plays well with the spicy warm mustard and potatoes, leaving a very interesting balance of flavors.

The Timeless Famous Hamburger

School has officially begun, yet our household is refusing to let go. In one of our last testaments to the jovial season my dad demanded to grill. My mom and I did not refuse him, we had fresh tomato and onion smiling at us from the table wanting to be used. Pure and straightforward is the way to go: salt, pepper and ground beef. Let the smoke of the grill speak for itself and vegetables will only encourage this phenomenon.

The hamburger has become one of the icons of American culture. Endless TV shows, books, magazines and restaurants have devoted themselves to ground beef and its condiments. The United States holds that our ancestors were the fist to combine steak with bread, yet the two have been around for a majority of human history and surely someone had munched on a hamburger in their cave or farmhouse. I found that ground meat originated with the warrior Mongols who would place filets of meat under their saddles as they rode allowing it to crumble and cook. Not very yummy sounding but I guess if you are a macho solider it was a grand meal and the ultimate of fast food. They then dropped this culinary tip in the Russian culture who developed steak tar tare. The port city of Hamburg was introduced to minced meat by the Russians and these German immigrants brought it to the States.
Okay so now we understand the history of the meat but what about the bread? Well the official sandwich wasn't developed until the 1765 when the Earl of Sandwich requested a snack he could eat without getting his fingers dirty as he played cards. In 1904, at the St. Louis Fair, two different men are attributed to selling hamburgers, but there is also accounts that two men from Hamburg, New York were at the Erie County Fair in 1892 and ran out of sausages and instead put ground beef on the bread. An yet another tale of a young teen, Charles Nagreen, made sandwiches with meatballs and sold them at the Seymour fair in 1885, so people could snack as they walked. Numerous tales attribute the founding of the hamburger to a variety of different businesses and people but all in all, we have the sandwich, we enjoy the sandwich, we eat the sandwich.

From A Teen Foodie

Here are a few tips on the "perfect burger", allowing a clean palette for you to paint -urrr-cook upon.
  • To keep it healthy we use 93% lean ground beef
  • A good portion size is about 4oz
  • Insuring a flat patty as the end result, intend the middle
  • Don't press on the beef while cooking, you will dry it out
  • When the burgers are finishing add cheese and the bun so they are both nice and warm

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Test Cook #1

As a result of my "library funtime", I had an intense list of new recipes to try. This has lead me to a new series, Test Cook. Every once in a while, along with our own home developed recipes, I will post my adventures with others' food concoctions. From cookbooks, to TV shows, Internet creativity to magazines, no one is safe! I shall be testing (and taking requests if people want me to test a recipe and it appeals to me I may try it out).

But the first order of business was The Flexitarian Table by Peter Berley (The Flexitarian Table: Inspired, Flexible Meals for Vegetarians, Meat Lovers, and Everyone inBetween). I kinda fell in love with this book yet this admiration must first be proven and confirmed that it had the caliber to be a part of my Christmas list.
The recipe I first tried was Grilled Shrimp in Harissa with Fresh Corn Polenta and Cherry Tomatoes (pg 113-115 in the book). I wrote a list for the few items we had yet to acquire, the most important of which was polenta meal. I waited until Saturday (the day of the farmer's market) when my parents would follow me on an escapade to capture any and all ingredients we saw fit to accumulate (put simply: we went grocery shopping).
 After a long day's massive quest for ingredients and produce whilst visiting Lawrence and the farmer's market there, we were still lift polenta-less. We went to Walmart, the Mercantile, Aldi's, another Walmart, and not until this morning did we manage to find the infamous medium ground grits aka polenta. This scouring had put me in an unpleasant mood, my enthusiasm the recipe was almost lost but once we unearthed it, the gorgeous wonderful phenomenal staggering corn meal - okay, I may be exaggerating quite a bit about its beauty, but after such the search and finally discovering it, I was once again keen to cook.

It turned out lovely, only a few changes to the original due to our family taste and the fact that cooking is an art, and whatever happens in the heat of the moment happens. My dad (the grill master, as most fathers are) grilled the shrimp and delivered them to the table with much pride. The Harissa (the marinade for the shrimp) was scrumptious, and according to Peter Berley's book originates in northern Africa. Its quick to concoct and tasted of warmth, of sun rays dripping over your tongue, of laying on the grass in mid-July heat...yummmm. And the polenta, oh my the polenta! It was magical, well worth all the toil and struggle to find. Its our home's new comfort food, balmy and smooth yet still retaining bite, the addition of fresh bits of corn brought out a whisper of sweetness while a dash of salt and butter complemented its corny elements. The only draw back was the tomatoes, they were by no means bad but unnecessary, they didn't add anything the dish needed and felt a tad akward with the other flavors.

In the end it was a grand undertaking, allowing my parents and I to savor the flavors even more.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

To market to market...

There are no words to characterize my adoration of farmer's markets. The bounty of vibrant colours, laughing and twittering people, scents of grass, herbs, bread, bouquets of flowers and freshly brewed coffee encompass every step one takes. I look forward to early rising and making the long quite drive down dusty gravel roads, past attentive dairy cows munching on dewy grass, and finally cramming into a munchkin sized parking spot. It takes discipline not to buy from every stand, or else the heaping bounty of goods purchased could not be consumed within a descent time. Once all is done a feeling of contentment consumes me on the drive back home.

Here are some pictures I took:

Monday, August 16, 2010

Summer Lasagna (Vegetarian)

Our garden is struggling a bit this summer (the heat swelters on) yet our household need not despair our eggplant is growing strong, the zucchini is blooming, the basil is as magical as ever and of course the farmer's market is thriving with wondrous treats. So to utilize all the colourful flavorful meaty vegetables my dad brought up vegetarian lasagna (yeah the big carnivore in the house wants vegetarian lasagna go figure). Well to say the least, it is one of the most satisfying dishes ever. An explosion of epic flavor integrating together, a trademark of all classic comfort food.

Summer Lasagna
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
serves 3-4

  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 medium eggplant (any variety will do, we used Japanese eggplant)
  • 1 14.5 ounce can of unsalted diced tomatoes
  • 1 heaping 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt (mixed with some salt and pepper)
  • 6 lasagna noodles (the kind that cook in the oven)
  • 1/2 lb button mushrooms
  • 1 small hand full of basil
  • 1 small hand full of flat leaf parsley
  • 1/2 of an onion
  • 2 medium cloves of garlic
  • Handful of Mozzarella cheese
  • Salt and pepper
Begin by dicing the onion and garlic, rough chopping the basil and parsley, slicing the mushrooms, cutting the zucchini and eggplant into discs (approximately a quarter of an inch wide).
Dribble some olive oil into a saute pan and heat over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot add the zucchini and eggplant in a single layer (I had to do it in two batches). Wait a few minutes, then flip them over they should reveal a golden carmelization on that cooked side. If you are getting to much sticking, deglaze the pan with a splash of water. Continue to saute until fully cooked (the white flesh with have degraded in colour). take out of the pan and set aside.

Add oil to the same pan, saute the onion and then add the garlic and mushrooms.Once brown and delicious pour in the tomatoes and herbs with a dash of salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and set aside.
Using a square glass baking dish, pour a laddle full of the tomato mushroom sauce on the bottom and place two lasagna noodles on top of that. On this dress with more sauce and a layer of eggplant/zucchini. Set two more noodles on this, spread the yogurt, followed by another layer of eggplant/zucchini. Put the final two noodles on top with the remaining sauce and sprinkle mozzarella cheese.
Now place in the oven for approximately 30 minutes or until the noodles are cooked (don't be freaked out if some of the noodles on the top are crispy, its just because they are near the edge) and the cheese is a golden paradise. Cut into fourths, serve and swim in the abundance of meaty textures, fragrant herbs and tantalizing-ly scrumptious vegetables.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Meatless Reubans

My favorite thing about spring is St.Patrick's day, not because I like the colour green and leprechauns bother me but Rubens and more specifically sour kraut. So every year I wait until March and savor the two days we pig out on Rubens, but last year my mom and I stumbled upon a thought: why wait once a year for the corn beef to go on sale, why not try it without it? Oh my golly jeepers, they are my favorite thing, ooooohhh the way the tart sour kraut melts with the Swiss cheese and mixes with the sweet thousand island dressing all resting on two toasty delicious slices of pumpernickel bread...I'm in yummy heaven!

Meatless Reuben
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
Makes enough for 8 sandwiches

  • Thousand Island Dressing (recipe below)
  • 16 slices Rye or Pumpernickel bread (or going fifty-fifty would be nifty...)
  • Sauerkraut (38 ounce jar)
  • 8 slices of Swiss cheese
  • Butter or olive oil
Spread some of the dressing on each slice of bread and top one slice with the desired amount of kraut (my sandwich is more like kraut with bread but you need not be that extreme). Place a slice of cheese on top and then the other piece of bread. Put a wee bit of butter on the top and bottom of the sandwich and toast in the oven on a cookie sheet for 12 minutes. Flip over and cook for 5 minutes more. Slice and melt in the amazing-ness of it all.

Thousand Island Dressing
  • 1/4 cup Mayo
  • 2 tbsp pickle relish
  • 1 tsp ketchup
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • Miniature splash of Worcestershire Sauce
Mix up the above ingredients.

Now the history of the Reuben is not a clean and easy to learn about as making them. There is some much confusion as to the true origins of the famous classic but if you are really interested this website has a lot of information http://www.rowlandweb.com/reuben/history.asp.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Library Funtime

Okay so I had a little too much fun on my local library's website and requested a rather obtuse amount of cookbooks...I couldn't help myself, its a sad addiction. Oh well what's done is done and I am now even more motivated to cook, bake, stew, saute, whatever strikes me! Be excited if you reading this, get ready for yummy overload and grumbling stomachs.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Gourmet Egg Muffin

A light lunch or a satisfying breakfast, eggs and English muffins are a match made in heaven, they are soooo delicious. But no one wants to drag themselves from the comforts of their slippers and adjust their bed head just to travel to a fast food drive thru for a breakfast meal with a mediocre egg stuffed between two chewing English muffins, rather making them at home is way more joyful.

So the way I gaudy-ed this up was by using a melty over-easy egg, caramelized onion, farmer's market mushrooms, and crisp English muffins. The egg explodes in your mouth, releasing a flood of golden awesome-ness, combining with the sweet tang of onion and the rich meaty mushroom....oh the yumminess....

Gourmet Egg Muffin
Pre-Heat Oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
serves: 4 (or if you have a hungry Dad in the house, he gets 2)
  • 4 English muffins or 4 of those flat sandwich bun thingy-dubers
  • 4 slices of American cheese (optional, I personally don't have any)
  • 1 onion (purple, yellow, whatever you desire)
  • Mushrooms
  • 4 eggs
  • salt and pepper
Split the muffins with a fork and put in the oven for 15 minutes.
While those toast up slice the onion in half and then slice into thin half-rings. Chop the mushrooms and using a non-stick skillet, saute them up along with the onion with a wee bit of olive oil until they have reached a slightly golden colour. Remove from the skillet and set aside.

Wait until the muffins are done and then turn the oven to warm. Place the cheese on one half of the muffin along with some onion-mushroom mixture, leave this in the oven while you cook the eggs.

Now one could use sunny-side up eggs or poached eggs, I am better at cooking over-easy eggs so that's what I use (or if some accidents should arise while cooking turn them into scrambled). Turn the skillet to a medium heat with a little dribble of olive oil. Crack the eggs onto the skillet and season with salt and pepper. Once the whites are solid in colour use a spatula to gently slid/flip them over. Cook until the eggs are cooked (though I like mine a little runny). Turn off the heat.
Get out the muffins (the cheese should be melty) and place the egg on top. Take a bite and allow the magic of eggs consume you.