Monday, September 22, 2008

When a man craves meat

Sometimes boys just crave a nice cut of meat (mind out of the gutters people!). I found some really nice cuts of fillet mignon the other day and decided to make a simple steak with it.
I thought the simple sides of a homemade salsa and avocado mash would go with the steak well.

When I splurge and buy a really nice cut of meat, I only season it with salt and pepper to let the quality of them eat speak for itself. My family prefers medium done.

I served it with a simple pizza made from store bought pre-made pizza dough. I only used half of the pizza dough and I rolled it out on a baking sheet. I baked the pizza at 400oF for 8 minutes then I took it out. I sliced and seeded a tomato, and tore some fresh basil. On the half-baked pizza, I spread tomato sauce evenly followed by the tomato and basil. I sprinkled shredded mozzarella on top of it. The pizza baked for an additional 5-8 minutes or until the cheese is nice and bubbly.

Fillet Mignon with a Salsa and Avocado Mash
Homemade Salsa
1/2 cup sweet onion, finely chopped
1 large tomato, seeded and cubed
2 serrano peppers, seeded and diced
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
1 clove garlic, minced

Avocado Mash
1 avocado
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 cup sweet onion, chopped
1/4 tsp salt

(1) Mix all ingredients for salsa together and refrigerate.
(2) Peel an avocado and remove skin and seed. Roughly chop the avocado and mash with fork. Mix in lime juice, onion and salt. (Acid helps keep avocado bright green instead of brown). Refrigerate.
(3) Grill meat of choice seasoned with salt and pepper on both sides
(4) Serve steak with the two sides immediately

Pizza Margherita

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Korean Fascination?

We had a sisterhood dinner at Seoul Garden last week so when I was making my weekly dining plan, many of the dishes were Korean inspired.

I also found a big jar of Kimchi in my fridge that I was trying to use this week.

Kimchi Pajun (Korean Pancake)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup water
1 egg
3/4-1 cup of Kimchi, roughly chopped
2 thinly chopped scallions (green onions)
1 tablespoon Korean red pepper paste
2 tsp of oil

(1) Dissolve red pepper paste in the water. Mix flour, water mixture and egg together (use whisk if you have to) and get rid of all the lumps.
(2) Heat a frying pan on high heat
(3) Stir in Kimchi and scallions to the pancake mixture
(4) Evenly distribute a layer of oil on the pan (Pam is really effective for this)
(5) Pour in pancake mixture and spread kimchi evenly on the pancake with utensil
(6) After 3 minutes check with a spatula to make sure it slides easily. Slide the pancake (cooked side down onto a plate)
(7) Spread another thin layer of oil on the pan
(8) Flip the hot pan over the pancake and carefully hold the plate on the bottom and flip the pan upright (so the uncook part is on the bottom)
(9) Remove plate from the pan carefully. Cook pancake for 2-3 minutes
(10) Cut into 8 wedges and serve with vinegared soysauce (1 part soysauce: 1 part rice wine vinegar)

Note: Feel free to experiment with different flipping methods

Korean Spicy Chicken and Potatoes (Tak Toritang)
2 skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium onion, sliced into wedges
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large russet potato, diced into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/8 cup of chicken stock
2 tablespoon rice wine
2 tablespoons Korean red pepper paste

(1) Mix uncooked chicken with rice wine while preparing other components
(2) Cube potatoes and immerse in water to prevent browning
(3) Pre-heat a Dutch Oven (or any pot with a lid) on high heat
(4) In a mixing bowl, mix together soy sauce, granulated sugar, red pepper paste and chicken stock
(5) Cook chicken in the pot a few minutes on each side. Add garlic and potatoes
(6) Pour in liquid over the chicken and potatoes. Lower heat to medium high when liquid starts to boil
(7) Simmer for about 30 minutes then stir in onions
(8) Allow to simmer for an additional 15 minutes or until potatoes are fork-tender

Tip: I always have boxes of chicken stock in my pantry. Whenever a recipe calls for water, I tend to substitute it with stock to add another depth of flavor to my dishes. Chicken stock is basically a liquid that is extracted from boiling water with vegetables, chicken and bones. You can make homemade stock but I skip this step because I like smaller containers that I can use sparingly.

Korean Beef Lettuce Wraps
1 lb flank steak, sliced into thin pieces
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoon soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1 tablespoon Korean Red Pepper Paste
2 tsp rice wine
2 tsp vegetable oil
2 tsp sesame seeds
10 lettuce leaves
3 cups cooked white rice
1 cup Kimchi

(1) Mix together sugar, soy sauce, garlic, onions, red pepper paste and wine. Stir in the beef with the marinade for at least 3 hours (overnight if it's easier to allow meat to get tender)
(2) Heat a skillet to high heat. Allow the vegetable oil to heat in the pan
(3) Cook the meat until cooked through. Stir in sesame seeds over the meat
(4) Serve meat and keep the sauce to spoon over rice to give more flavor
(5) Fill a lettuce leaf with a generous spoonful of rice, kimchi and beef. You can pour a little of the meat sauce on the white rice
(6) Serve and eat immediately

Tip: Flank steak is a tougher cut of meat. When slicing the meat, slice against the grain meaning cutting the meat perpindicular to the natural lines of muscle fibers. If you cut parallel to the fibers, the meat will taste more tough and fibrous. Also, marinating meats in acids or wines breaks down the muscle making meat more tender.

Note: You can also add other vegetables in the wrap. I cooked some bean sprouts with 2 tablespoons of the marinade while the beef was cooking in a separate pot. You can also substitute the beef for chicken or other meats.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Lazy Sunday

I didn't want to exert too much time to cooking today because I think I'm coming down with a cold. 2-3 ppl around me have colds.

I had some chicken breast in the kitchen so I was inspired to make some quick sesame chicken reminiscent of chinese take-out except I know exactly what I'm puting into the chicken.

Sesame Chicken with Cashews
2 skin-less chicken breasts, cubed into 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup of flour
1/4 cup of sesame seeds
2 tsp of red pepper flakes
1 tsp of ground black pepper
1/2 tsp coriander
4 tablespoons of honey
4 tablespoons of teriyaki marinade
2 tablespoons of roasted cashews
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
light soy sauce or salt to taste

(1) Mix flour, half the sesame seeds, coriander, red pepper flakes and black pepper together in a medium bowl. Coat chicken pieces evenly with flour mixture.
(2) Heat a wok on high heat. Pour in vegetable oil and make sure oil is hot. Move the wok around so oil is evenly coated.
(3) Cook chicken pieces about 3-4 minutes on each side. Brown each side.
(4) In a medium bowl, wisk together honey and teriyaki marinade. Taste mixture and add salt as needed (keep in mind cashews if salted contribute salt also)
(5) Pour sauce over chicken and stir evenly. Cook for another 1-2 minutes or until sauce thins out. Stir in cashews and remaining sesame seeds.
(6) Serve.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Highlights of This Week

Here are a few things I made this week. Most of it is pretty self explanatory but I included the recipe for Potato and Cheese Patties (it's like mashed potatoes with a crispy side that tastes like a cracker/potato chip if done correctly).

Spiced Pork Tenderloin with a side of Mango Salsa

Peanut Chicken Egg Noodles

Grilled Salmon with a Tomato Basil Salad

Turkey Burger

Potato and Cheese Patties
2 medium baking potatoes, peeled quartered into large even size cubes
3/4 cup of Cheddar Cheese
1/2 cup scallions (green onions), chopped
1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper
olive oil

(1) Put quartered potatoes into a pot emersed in water. Bring to a boil (make sure you are heating water and potatoes together and not dropping potatoes into boiling water)
(2) Boil for 15-20 minutes or until tender
(3) Mash potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cool off for 15 minutes. Stir in cheese and green onions.
(4) Section off the mash into 6 even sized balls and press onto a plate into even sized patties
(5) Refridgerate for 10-15 minutes or until the patties seem firmer
(6) Heat a flat pan on medium high. Drizzle surface with oil. Place a few patties on the surface at a time leaving 1-2 inches between the patties. Sear each side for 3-4 minutes or until brown. (Do not flip too soon or a crispy brown skin will not form)

Rainy Day Inspiration

Happy Valley enjoyed a lot of rain the last few days. My roomies both came down with a cold so I was inspired to cook some feel-good, health conscious dishes.

I made Mung Bean Soup (Green Bean Soup) because it has detoxifying properties.
It's an Asian sweet dessert soup.

Green (Mung) Bean Soup
1 cup dried Green Beans
6 tablespoons granulated sugar (crystal sugar)
4-5 cups of water

(1) Soak the beans overnight in plenty of water (at least 4-5 hours)
(2) Boil the beans over medium-high heat in 4-5 cups of water and sugar
(3) Lower heat to medium-low and allow to simmer for 30-45 minutes
(4) Turn off heat and allow to cool to room temperature for 2-3 hours
(5) Turn heat to medium, allow to simmer for 30 minutes
(6) Serve
* You can add a few slices of ginger during the boiling process if you want to infuse the green bean soup with the scent. Ginger has numerous health benefits including relief of muscle or joint pain.

Curried Buttersquash Soup

1 (2-3lb) butternut squash
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 tsp curry powder

1 cup of heavy cream
2 seeded, finely diced jalapeno peppers
2 cups finely diced onions
4 tablespoons olive oil
salt and black pepper

(1) Pre-heat oven to 400F
(2) Peel and cube squash. Toss cubed squash with 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Spread evenly on a foiled baking pan. Sprinkle salt and pepper (1/2 tsp each) over the squash. Bake in the pre-heated oven (on covered) for 25 minutes - 30 minutes
(3) In a Dutch oven heat at medium high heat, heat up one tablespoon of olive oil and sautee onions for 2 minutes. Stir in curry powder and jalapeno peppers and sautee for an additional 3 minutes.
(4) Put roasted squash into the pot and pour chicken stock. Simmer for 15 minutes at medium heat.
(5) Pour in parts of the soup into a blender/food processor. Blend until smooth. Continue process until entire soup is pureed.
(6) Stir in 1 cup of heavy cream. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Cooking fast....

I originally planned on having Herb Crusted Chicken Breasts for lunch with a Creamy Parmesan Orzo. Dinner was originally Grilled Salmon with a Parsley-Parmesan Pesto. Primping took longer than anticipated this morning so I made quick adjustments.

I switched dinner and lunch because salmon cooks faster. I had both chicken breasts and salmon fillets defrosted in the fridge.

Today's speedy lunch menu
Grilled Salmon with Parsley Parmesan Pesto
Creamy Parmesan Orzo

Grilled Salmon with Parsley Parmesan Pesto
3 (4 oz) salmon fillets
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

Pesto Ingredients
1/4 cup of flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup of pre-grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
1/8 cup of fresh basil leaves
1 glove of garlic (or adjust if you dont like garlic)
2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tsp pine nuts

(1) In a food processor, process til smooth all the ingredients under "pesto ingredients." Scrape the sides of the food processor (be careful of the blade).
(2) Heat a grill to medium high heat
(3) Using a brush, brush olive oil along the sides of the salmon fillets. Sprinkle salt and pepper on each side
(4) Grill the salmon fillets 3-4 minutes on each side (or until desired 'doneness')
(5) Serve with a side of the pesto
3 Servings

Creamy Parmesan Orzo
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup Orzo
1 1/4 cup Chicken Stock
1 1/4 cup Water
1/4 cup grated parmigiana-reggiano

1/4 cup of pre-grated carrots
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
4 tsp pine nuts
1 tablespoon dried basil flakes

(1) Heat a medium sauce pan at medium high heat. Melt the butter.
(2) Brown the orzo in the butter for 2-3 minutes stirring with a spatula
(3) Pour in chicken stock and water. Mix evenly with spatula. Add salt and pepper into cooking liquid so spices are dispersed evenly.
(4) Heat until boil then turn down the heat
(5) Allow to simmer for about 15 minutes (or until most of the liquid is absorbed). Stir every few minutes to make sure orzo cooks evenly
(6) Turn off heat. Fold in cheese, basil, carrots and pine nuts to orzo with spatula
(7) YOU ARE DONE! <3>

Tips: Orzo looks like a rice but it's actually a type of pasta. It cooks very fast and what's nice about it (as opposed to pasta) is that it's a one-pot dish. You can season the pot you cooked the orzo in a variety of ways.

I'm saving the left over orzo to accompany my herb crusted chicken tonight! I'll update later on how dinner goes. Have a great day everyone!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Cooking daily .. it is possible!

I woke up to the sound of pouring rain and thunder beating against my window. I almost dreaded going to class. I looked forward to tasting my version of my mom's classic.

Tuesday *my super busy day with 4 classes*
My Mom's Roasted Chuck Roast
LO (left overs) - Risotto from Monday
Thai Cucumber and Tomato Salad

Mom's Chuck Roast
1lb~1.5lb Chuck Roast
1 cup of low-sodium, fat-free chicken stock
2 Tablespoons of rice wine
4 Tablespoons of low-sodium soy sauce
3 garlic cloves smashed, roughly chopped
3 Tablespoons of granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons of Pepper
salt to taste
Aluminum Foil

(1.) Mix all the ingredients except the meat together. Taste the marinade. Adjust salt and sweetness according to personal preference.
(2.) Emerse the cut of meat fully. Refrigerate overnight or at least 4-5 hours.
(3.) Preheat the oven to 220oF.
(4.) Take the meat out and let it sit at room temperature for at least 20 minutes
(5.) Discard the marinade. Wrap the meat tightly with aluminum foil. (Be sure the sides of the foil are on the top of the meat (a lot of liquid will be inside the package)
(6.) Place the foiled-wrapped meat in a baking dish (make sure it is not too shallow in case liquid seeps through).
(7.) Bake for 2hrs - 2.5 hrs. Take out the dish and set on counter for 10-20 minutes.
(8.) When opening the package please be careful because a lot of liquid will be come out so open on a deep dish.

Tips: Chuck roast is a very tough cut of meat perfect for braising or slow-roasting (like this recipe). The aluminum foil acts as a sealing agent pressure cooking the meat because of how tightly wrapped the meat is. This is my go-to meal on tuesdays because I marinade the meat the night before and I put it in the oven when I go to my morning class and have my roommates watch the oven. By the time I get home, the meal is ready to be served with a simple salad.

Thai Cucumber and Tomato Salad
1 Large Cucumber (peeled, halved, seeded and diced)
6 Grape Tomatoes (quartered or halved)
3 Tablespoons Lime Juice
1 Tablespoon Fish Sauce
2 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar
2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes (or substitute with 1 finely diced, seeded serrano peppers)

(1.) Mix lime juice, fish sauce, sugar and peppers together. Taste the mixture and adjust according to personal preference
(2.) Toss and coat the cucumber slices and tomatoes in the vinagrette
(3.) Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes before serving. This allows the sweetness of the tomatoes to mix with the vinagrette.

...this week is starting off rather well...

Monday, September 8, 2008

Planning ahead...

Last year, I barely entered the kitchen to cook unless I was making a sandwich. Take-out and delivery were my best friend. This year I vowed to cook 99% of all the food I ate.

So far, I'm 4 weeks into my (super) senior year of college and I've managed to cook almost all my meals at home. I bought a huge white board that I've stuck on my fridge labeled with all the days of the week. Under each day, I put down the dishes I plan on cooking for (L)unch and (D)inner. Since I have access to a car this year, grocery shopping is very simple. I plan my meals and go grocery shopping once a week taking into account my weekly schedule of classes and extra-curricular activities.


Spicy Grilled Lamb Loin
Sweet Corn and Baby Portobello Risotto
Mixed Greens with Asian Sesame Dressing (store bought dressing)

Tilapia with Spicy Panang Curry Sauce
Spicy Thai Curry Egg Noodles

Tilapia over Thai Curry Sauce

2 Fillets of Tilapia
Salt and Pepper to Taste

1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
3 Tablespoons Panang Curry Spices (can be bought in Asian speciality stores)
1/2 can of Coconut Milk
1 cup of low-sodium Chicken Stock
1/2 Finely Diced Green Peppers
1/2 Finely Diced Sweet Onions
3 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar

2 cups of cooked egg noodles (if desired)

(1.) Heat a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable oil.
(2.) Stir the peppers and onions for 2-3 minutes or until onions are semi-translucent
(3.) Stir in half the panang curry spice into the pepper mixture
(4.) Pour in the coconut milk and remaining curry spices
(5.) Add the sugar and stir on medium high until it simmers.
(6.) Keep it warm on low heat

(7.) Heat a grill pan to high heat.
(8.) Sprinkle salt and pepper over each side of the tilapia
(9.) Spray cooking oil lightly over the grill pan.
(10.) Grill each side of the tilapis for 2-3 minutes or until its cooked through
(11.) Plate the tilapia and spoon the curry sauce over the fish
(12.) Toss remaining sauce with egg noodles to serve as a simple side dish

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Potluck Staples

I had a sisterhood potluck Friday Night where the idea is that every person brings one dish.

Personally, I love potlucks because it's my chance to try new recipes without having loads of left overs later. Empty dishes equal repeat-worthy dishes. Barely touched dishes either require extra tweaking or total abandonment.

These were the dishes I decided to prepare for our potluck.

Tomato Pasta with Mushrooms and Ground Beef
Barbequed Chicken Wings
Thai Cucumber and Tomato Salad
Mayo-Free Deviled Eggs
Tomato Bruschetta
Smokey Shrimp and Red Pepper Wonton Cups
Thai Lettuce Wraps*
Inspiration came from tasting it at Cheesecake Factory. Adapted from the recipe from Meemo's Kitchen.

Chocolate Mousse
Coconut Macaroons w/ Chocolate Chips
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Almond Gelatin with Fruit Cocktail

Dishes that have never failed me in the past include the tomato bruschetta, deviled eggs, tomato pasta, cucumber salad, coconut macaroons, chocolate chip cookies and the almond gelatin.

Dishes that I made for the first time and won't change for anything include Thai lettuce wraps and the barbequed chicken wings.

The shrimp cups and the chocolate mousse weren't bad but definitely are a work in progress.

Barbequed Chicken Wings

Tomato Bruschetta

Almond Gelatin with Fruit Cocktail
8 cups of milk
2 cups of water
8 packages of unflavored gelatin
4 Tablespoons of Almond Extract
1 Glass Baking Dish (15" x 10" x 2")
1 (106 oz) canned Mixed Fruit Cocktail

(1.) In a large sauce pan, slowly heat up milk and water
(2.) Be sure to stir constantly
(3.) When mixture simmers, add one gelatin package. Stir until thoroughly absorbed.
(4.) Continue to add remaining packages, stirring thoroughly after each package
(5.) Remove mixture from heat and pour the mixture through a mesh strainer (seive) to capture un-dissolved gelatin
(6.) Pour in almond extract and mix evenly. Pour mixture into glass baking dish.
(7.) Refrigerate for 4 hours or until set
(8.) Cut the set gelatin into small cubes. Using a metal spatula, run the spatula under the gelatin mixture to separate the bottom from the dish
(9.) Mix in fruit cocktail carefull. Chill and then serve.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Thursday, September 4, 2008

and it all begins....

Last year of college, I rarely cooked in the kitchen anymore. This was really out of character for me since I normally love spending hours in the kitchen. During the summer, I vowed to make some changes this new year of college including cooking all my meals at home instead of eating out. Not only will I be saving money, I can rediscover my deep love of cooking.

I'd love to get any feedback or comments ~ I'm not new to blogging but I am rather new to blogging about food.

Today for lunch I made

Peppered Roast Beef with a Mustard Mushroom Sauce

2lb Beef Eye Round Roast
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tsp Ground Black Pepper

1/2 yellow onion, sliced into strips
1 cup beef stock
1/4 cup water
1 tsp Worchestershire sauce
1/4 tsp fresh or dried thyme
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

(1.) Pre-heat oven to 325oF
(2.) Mix together mustard and pepper. Rub the mixture over roast
(3.) Place roast in a oven-safe roasting pan. Bake uncovered for 1hr45 minutes to get a light pink center
(4.) Take roast out of oven and let stand for 15 minutes prior to serving/carving

(5.) In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients under sauce except milk, flour and mustard. Bring contents to a boil then lower heat and allow to simmer
(6.) Combine milk, mustard and flour in a small bowl. Gradually pour in mixture into simmering sauce and stir
(7.) Carve roast and serve with sauce

Broccoli Orzo Pilaf

For dinner I made..

Aloo Gobi (Indian Potato and Cauliflower Curry) & Grilled Tilapia