Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New 2007!

There's alot to be said about being able to share my food adventures with my friends and family around the world these last 3 plus months, and I am honored that you stopped by to visit too.

So, with less than 11 hours before 2007 begins (for this part of the world at least), here's hoping for a better new year for everyone. And as we make more New Year resolutions this coming year for a new 'us', here's wishing you a HAPPY NEW YOU as well. A happy new you to you!LOL

May there be peace on earth and goodwill to all humans, and my wish to all of you for a safe and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Meat, Milk and Cheese from Clones?!?

The following excerpt is taken from the website, and it is worth a minute of your time to read. As a concerned parent and consumer, I am deeply troubled by the actions the FDA is taking towards the sale of cloned meat and milk from animals and am appalled that they have stated that there will likely be no label for these products as well. We have yet to receive concise facts that cloned meat, milk and cheese can be deemed safe, and we need to let the FDA be aware of our concerns on this issue. You can also go to this link to sign up a petition to the FDA and read the same article there.

Despite a September survey found that 64% of Americans are repulsed by the idea of eating food from cloned animals, the FDA announced this week that milk, eggs and meat from cloned animals will soon be allowed on the market.

Ignoring a number of disturbing studies suggesting potential human health hazards, Stephen F. Sundlof, director of the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine said "that meat and milk from cattle, swine and goat clones is as safe to eat as the food we eat every day." Consumer, food safety, and animal welfare groups have condemned the announcement, pointing out that animal cloning is inherently unpredictable and hazardous, and that the practice of cloning has led to a high number of cruel and painful deformities in the experimental animals' offspring.

Recognizing that requiring labels on cloned food would lead to a massive boycott by consumers, FDA bowed to industry lobbyists by stating that there likely will be no required labeling of food products containing ingredients from cloned animals. The FDA's controversial proposed regulations in the Federal Register will now be followed by a three month public comment period.

The OCA is calling on health and humane-minded consumers across the nation to stop this outrageous and hazardous regulation from coming into force as federal law. The FDA will be accepting comments until April 2007. Please consider making the message an/or subject line below unique before submitting to the FDA. Thanks!

Related Articles:

12/29/20006: Approval of Cloned Food Leaves Consumers Unprotected

12/26/2006: Despite Lack of Science and Strong Public Concern, FDA Expected to OK Food From Cloned Animals

Send Comments to:

Secretary of Health
Michael Leavitt
U.S. Department of Health and Human
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20201
TollFree: 877-696-6775

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Snowy Days of Biscotti and Hot White Chocolate

Christmas has come and gone, and it has been cold and snowy outside. The above is a picture taken this morning of one of my many rose bushes buried in the snow, with a few rose hips clinging on still. At this moment, the children are tucked into their cozy, warm beds fast asleep, and I am enjoying a little quiet moment of 'me' time as I return the sliced biscotti back into the oven and wait it to finish cooking on their sides while I sip my cup of hot white chocolate with mini marshmallows and yes, a dollop of whipped cream. No, not the kind I would love to whip up myself, but the kind that you get from the freezer of the grocery store called cool whip. It's just easier at this hour... Guess it's time to contemplate on that New Year's resolution once again. Better wait till after a bite of the white chocolate, cranberry and pistaschio biscotti... I tinkered with a basic biscotti recipe in High Attitude Baking and made these instead.
1 c pistaschios, shelled
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 salt
2 1/4 c unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c white sugar
3 large eggs
2 Tbsp milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1cup dried cranberries
lemon zest

white Lindt chocolate, chopped and melted

Heat oven to 350°.
In an electric mixer combine baking powder, flour, sugar, and salt. In a bowl, beat eggs, and vanilla. Add to dry ingredients; mix on medium low until sticky dough is formed. Stir in nuts, cranberries, and zest. Turn dough out onto well-floured board; sprinkle with flour, and knead slightly. Shape into logs. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Reduce oven to 275°. On cutting board, cut logs on diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Return pieces cut side down to baking sheet. Bake until lightly toasted, about 10 minutes. Turn over. Bake until slightly dry, about 10 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Just before serving, melt white Lindt chocolate in a fondue pot and let everyone dip their biscotti into the chocolate. Serve with vanilla ice cream and hot coffee.

White Hot Chocolate from Martha Stewart's Living (2 servings)
1/2 ounces milk chocolate, for garnish
3 ounces good-quality white chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Peppermint sticks, for garnish
Whipped cream, for garnish

Using a vegetable peeler, shave milk chocolate into curls; set aside.
Place white chocolate in a medium heat-proof bowl; set aside. Place milk and cream in a medium saucepan set over medium heat until bubbles begin to form around edges of pan, about 4 minutes. Immediately pour mixture over white chocolate. When chocolate begins to melt, stir to combine. Whisk in vanilla. Continue whisking until a light foam forms.
Serve immediately garnished with peppermint sticks, whipped cream, and chocolate curls.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas bakes

We had a lot of snow before Christmas this year, and the combination of a hot aromic oven filled with batches of cookies, breads and muffins each night was lovely! Had the oven working overtime with some yummy bakes. Here's just a sampling of the holiday treats.

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Feliz Navidad, Happy Nikolaustag and Happy Holidays to all.
Blueberry Muffins
Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies
Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

Baked Tapioca Cake
White Chocolate covered pretzels
Pistaschio Nut Banana Bread
Dark Chocolate Fudge

Friday, December 22, 2006


We had this version of roasted pork tenderloin for dinner tonight. The zesty flavor of the kumquats with the sweetness of the apricots and spiciness of the jalapeno complimented the roasted pork very well. I also added some dried cranberries to this recipe for some festival color and added sweetness to the dish. Served it with mashed potatoes and a brussels sprouts recipe from the Mayo Clinic. Pork Tenderloin recipe was from Bon Appétit.

2 cups kumquats, stemmed, quartered, seeded
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
4 small shallots, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 medium Granny Smith apple, peeled, seeded, chopped (about 1 cup)
3 tablespoons minced seeded jalapeño chiles, divided
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1-pound pork tenderloins

Using on/off turns, finely chop kumquats in processor (do not puree). Heat 1 tablespoon oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallots, apple, and 1 tablespoon jalapeño. Cook until shallots are soft, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes. Add chopped kumquats, apricots, 3/4 cup water, sugar, and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Boil until mixture thickens, about 6 minutes. Transfer marmalade to small bowl. Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons jalapeño. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, cover, and chill. Rewarm before serving.)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Add pork to skillet; brown on all sides, about 10 minutes total. Transfer skillet to oven; roast pork until thermometer inserted into center registers 145°F, about 15 minutes. Remove pork from oven; let stand 10 minutes.
Cut pork into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Serve with warm marmalade on the side.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Happy Dongzhi 冬至 Tang Yuan

I enjoy many different festivals, especially when there's food involved! :P

Dongzhi is celebrated on Dec 22 this year.

Tang yuan are white and pink glutinous rice ball dumplings made with fillings of sesame seeds, peanuts, or red bean paste and served as a sweet dessert during Dongzhi, Chinese New Year, and the Lantern Festival. In Chinese cultures, there are often a play of words with the same intonations. The word tang which mean soup, sounds like another word - reunion, while yuan means happy. Also, the roundness and sweetness of this dessert symbolize unity and happy life for the family. Growing up, we usually have tang yuan during Chinese New Year. The tradition in my family is to serve one white glutinous rice ball (usually larger) with filling, with the colored ones (with or without filling) and it has to total to an odd number.

In China and to Chinese everywhere, Dongzhi is a Chinese solar term for the winter solstice festival. Friends and families get together to eat, laugh, drink, and be merry.

I started to celebrate the winter solstice when a friend from Hong Kong told me about this festival back in 1999. Since the day of the Dongzhi is longest night of the year, most Chinese believe that to counter the yang, we should put on bright clothes, visit friends, and have a party with food and laughter. To me, it's one more way to celebrate this holiday season! Cheers!

This year, I made tang yuan with red and green colors and used this recipe adapted from E of Tazz in the Kitchen. I thoroughly enjoyed the wonderful texture of the red bean soup and spicy flavor of the ginger syrup mixed together with the tang yuan in her recipe. It also creates a richer color for the liquid. Thanks E! This dessert is usually very sweet, so adjust the sugar to suit your tastebuds.Ingredients for Glutinous Rice Balls:
250g (8 to 9 ounces) glutinous rice flour
About 1 cup Water (more or less depending on the humidity)
15-20g (1/2 to 3/4 ounce) brown sugar
Red Food colouring
Method for Glutinous Rice Balls: Add sufficient water to flour and knead into dough. Divide dough into 2 parts. Add food colouring to one part. Knead each dough well. Make balls from the dough. Bring a pot of water to boil in a big pot and drop in dough balls to cook. When cooked, balls will rise to the surface. Drain balls and put in a big bowl. Add about 15-20g of sugar to mix with the balls. Set aside.
Ingredients for Syrup:
300ml (10 ounces) water
4-5 pandan leaves, washed and tied into a knot,
2-inch knob ginger, crushed (more if desired to give a strong ginger taste)
About 100g (3 1/2 ounces) brown sugar
Method for Syrup: Bring water to boil in a pot with the pandan leaves and ginger. Add sugar and cook until sugar dissolves. Discard pandan leaves (if using) and ginger.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Mexican Lime Chicken Soup

This is a great limey soup and a refreshing change from the holiday theme for the family. It's like the mexican version of tom yang soup and you can make it as spicy as you like. Another tasty recipe from Bon Appétit.

2 tablespoons olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
6 small skinless boneless chicken breast halves, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide strips
1 cup corn kennels
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
9 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
1/3 cup fresh lime juice

1 1/2 cups coarsely crushed tortilla chips
2 avocados, peeled, pitted, diced
3 tomatoes, chopped
3 green onions, sliced
Chopped fresh cilantro
Minced jalapeño or habernero peppers (optional)
Lime slices

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add garlic and stir 20 seconds. Add chicken and oregano to pot; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté 3 minutes. Add broth and lime juice and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently until chicken is cooked through, about 8 minutes. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper.
Divide crushed tortilla chips among 6 bowls. Ladle soup into bowls. Top soup with avocados, tomatoes, green onions, cilantro and jalapeños. Garnish with lime slices and serve.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Sesame Chicken

One of the more popular dishes in chinese restaurants and one of H's favorite, I decided to indulge in a little deep fried chicken the chinese way. Used canola oil for a slightly healthier version. Made this using recipe adapted from J White.

3 lbs boneless skinless chicken tenders
1 egg, beaten with 1 tbsp milk
2 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp tapioca starch (optional)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

For batter, mix egg with milk in a bowl, and sesame seeds with tapioca starch in another.
Cut chicken into cubes. Dip chicken into egg mixture, then into sesame mixture. Deep fry chicken and cook for 3-5 mins. Drain on paper towels.
Mix together honey, soy sauce, water, corn starch, ginger and red pepper flakes.
Whisk until no corn starch lumps appear.
Heat a skillet with one tbsp oil. Pour sauce mixture into a hot skillet and cook until sauce thickens slightly. Return chicken to skillet
You can add more water if sauce is too thick.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until chicken starts to soak up the sauce.
Serve immediately with rice.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Tequila Christmas Cookies

I am fortunate to be married a wonderful family, and my in-laws have a great sense of humor as is vailidated by this email I received from them today...

Here is a cookie recipe for you.......Ha ha
Subject: Christmas cookies recipe from my friend
1 C water
1 t baking soda
1 C sugar
1 C brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 C nuts
2 C dried fruit
1 bottle Tequila

Sample the Tequila to check quality.
Take a large bowl, check the Tequila again to be sure it is of the highest quality.
Pour one level cup and drink.
Turn on the electric mixer and beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl.
Add one teaspoon of sugar...beat again.
At this point its best to make sure the Tequila is still ok....try another cup....just in case.
Turn off the mixerer thingy.
Break 2 leggs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit.
Pick the &*&*&*&' fruit off the floor. Mix on the turner. If the fried druit gets stuck in the beaterers just pry it loose with a drewscriver. Sample the Tequila to check for tonsisticity. Next, sift two cups of salt or something. Who giveshz a @!#%.

I am hoping to share all my recipes from this blog with my children one day, cause who knows how long I will be around. But on brighter note, I do intend to stick around for a long time! The above will be an heirloom recipe from their grandparents. (ha!) :)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Sweet Endings

I couldn't make it to a party recently due to unforseen circumstances, and H brought back a little treat from JP and MP when he came home. It was a nice surprise, and my favorite Lindt truffles besides! Thanks H, JP and MP, for your sweet gift!

Pumpkin Muffins

We enjoy these muffins for breakfast and kids snack on it all day. It makes a nice batch, and keeps well in a ziplock bag in the fridge. But it's usually gone within a couple of days! Goes well with home-made maple butter too!
Recipe is from Kathleen Stewart:
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
3 cups pumpkin purée (canned is fine)
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 lb. (16 Tbs.) unsalted butter, melted
1-1/4 lb. (4-1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
2 Tbs. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
3 Tbs. ground cinnamon
3 Tbs. ground ginger
Pinch cloves
1-1/2 cups golden raisins

Heat the oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, sour cream, pumpkin purée, brown sugar, sugar, and butter. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, stirring until just mixed. Gently fold in the raisins. Grease and flour a muffin tin (or line it with muffin papers, preferably foil). Scoop about 1/2 cup batter into each tin so that the curve of the batter is even with the rim of the cup. (Refrigerate any extra batter in an airtight container for up to a week.) Bake the muffins in the middle of the oven until firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into them comes out clean, 30 to 35 min. Remove the muffins from the tin when they're cool enough to handle.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Teriyaki Chicken

My kids love teriyaki chicken! I like this baked version as it can be done indoors without the grill during the snowy, winter months. Any splatering is also contained inside the oven.

1 tbs cornstarch
1 tbs cold water
1/2 c white sugar
1/4 c brown sugar
1/2 c light soy sauce
1/4 c cider vinegar
2 tbs sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 green onions, white part only
1 inch ginger, skin removed and grated (I usually add more for my taste)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
6 full skinless chicken breasts, pounded

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Mix cornstarch with water. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine cornstarch mixture, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, green onions, ginger and ground black pepper. Simmer, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens and bubbles. Please taste and adjust seasonings to your liking. I like mine more gingery with a sweet tang.
Cover a baking dish with foil.
Put chicken pieces into a large ziplock bag. Flatten chicken with pounder. This is to prevent the raw chicken juices from taking over your workspace (yuk!). Place chicken pieces in dish and pour sauce over it. Turn pieces over to coat all sides.
Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Turn pieces over, and broil for another 10-15 minutes, until no longer pink and juices run clear. Brush with sauce every 5 minutes during cooking.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Yaki-Onigiri (Toasted Rice Ball)

We love the toasted nutty flavor of this recipe from grilling the rice. I used dried cranberries instead of umeborshi, and opted to do it on a griddle this time, and it came out pretty good. I didn't have the traditional triangular molds, so I used a christmas cookie mold this time. It is suppose to be a couple of bells, no?
I adapted this recipe from CRB:
250 gm cooked Japanese rice
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbs soy sauce
4 tbs sake (optional)
1 tbs sugar
2 umeborshi (pickled plums), seeded and minced
Cooked tuna, chicken or takuan (yellow picked radish)

Preheat grill. Mix soy sauce, sake and sugar and set aside.
Since I don't have a onigiri rice mold, I shaped it by hand. Wet both hands. Shape the rice into the traditional triangular shape. Poke a hole in the center and fill the rice ball with the fillings of your choice. Seal with more rice on top and reshape.
Grill about 5-10 mins per side, brushing with soy mixture at least twice on each side.
Serve hot with meat dishes.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Gomaae - Cooked Spinach Salad

We used to go to our favorite japanese restaurant for sushi and the little ones would have their usual teriyaki chicken with rice and miso soup. Now it's not so easy eating out with wired toddlers who are ready to stretch their boundries in so many ways. It would be nice if we could bring some extra hands and eyes along to watch them, but not many of our friends are fond of japanese food, and grandparents on both sides won't touch it with their chopsticks either. Or any other utensils, I suppose.
So, I made some simple recipes for a japanese night in, and I like this variation of preparing spinach when we make a japanese dinner. The spinach is cooked or steamed till just wilted, and removed from the heat quickly. Drain well, and toss with dressing. A light and healthy side dish to teriyaki chicken.
Recipe adapted from Yoshizuka
1 pound spinach leaves
3 tbsps white sesame
1 tbsp sake
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp light soy sauce

The way I do it:
Remove stems from spinach. I usually purchase a bag of spinach leaves for convenience. Wash and boil spinach till just wilted. Remove quickly. Drain the water very well.
Toast sesame seeds. I use my spice toaster over the gas stove. I have used a non-stick skillet before over the gas stove to toast the sesame seeds. Be careful as they'll pop! Put half of the sesame seeds in a grinder and grind them. Add sugar, soy sauce, and sake in the grinder and mix well. Add spinach and stir well. I like to sprinkle the rest of sesame seeds on top as garnish, and also to let everyone know what ingredient is in the dish that way.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

MI-SO FUN(guy)!

OK. So I'm having some fun with the way word sounds. It's the season to be jolly and funny is as funny does. And no, I haven't dipped into the Bailey's Irish Cream(yet)!My children love miso soup. Whenever we go out for sushi, they would slurp up the miso soup with spoons that are bigger than their mouths! They also love teriyaki chicken. Since I was making a japanese dinner tonight, I decided to add some miso soup to the menu. I orginally found this recipe from Saveur Magazine awhile ago, and I usually double the recipe. I used enokitake mushrooms, shiitake, and butter mushrooms. I also substituted mitsuba leaves with chinese celery leaves (available as asian markets). It takes a little longer to prepare the broth, but it's worth the effort.

Kinoko no Misoshiru (Miso Soup with Mushrooms)


Slender, small-capped white enokitake mushrooms, plump brown shimeji, and fragile, earthy maitake are available at Japanese grocery stores (shiitake mushrooms may be substituted), as are mitsuba leaves, which taste something like celery.

Bring 3 cups ichiban dashi (see recipe below) to a boil in a medium pot over medium-high heat.
Add 1 cup each separated and cleaned shimeji, maitake, and enokitake mushrooms to pot, then add 2 tbsp. akamiso (brown miso), stirring with a wooden spoon until miso completely dissolves, about 1 minute.
Remove pot from heat and divide soup between 4 warm soup bowls. Garnish each bowl with 1 mitsuba sprig, if you like.

Number 1 stock (ichiban dashi)
Dashi, the stock at the heart of all Japanese cooking, should taste of the sea. It is simple to make as there are only three ingredients:
1 oz. wide-cut konbu (dried kelp)

4 1/4 cups cold water
4 cups dried bonito flakes

1. The trick—when preparing ichiban-dashi, to be used as a clear soup—is in keeping the stock and the konbu (dried kelp) in it below a boil. Wipe any dirt off 1 oz. wide-cut konbu. Place konbu in a medium saucepan with 4 cups cold water. Heat over medium-high heat until water just begins to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook—without allowing stock to come to a full simmer—until konbu is soft, about 2 minutes.
2. Remove konbu. Increase heat to medium-high and bring stock to a full boil. Add 1/4 cup cold water to lower temperature of stock, then add 4 cups dried bonito flakes. Do not stir. Return to a boil, then immediately remove pot from heat. (If bonito flakes boil more than a few seconds, flavor will be too strong.) Allow bonito flakes to settle, skim foam, then carefully pour stock through a sieve lined with cheesecloth. Use stock immediately.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Blueberry Scones

My family love these scones! The kids would dunk it in their milk for breakfast.

Recipe from L Letellier
2 c unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 c packed brown suger
1 Tbs baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c unsalter butter, chilled
1 c fresh blueberries
3/4 c buttermilk
1 egg

Preheat oven to 375.
Cut butter into first 4 ingredients. Add blueberries. Toss and mix.
In separate bowl, beat together buttermilk and egg. Add to dry ingredients. Knead till it comes together. Shape and cut into wedges.
Bake on ungreased sheet for 20 mins or until done. Serve warm.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Soupe aux Pois

We had thoroughly enjoyed our ham earlier in the week and I saved the ham in the freezer for a couple of days. As I come from a line of women who love making soup from bones, I had to do something with that bone.:)
With some meat left on the ham bone, I wanted to make soup out of our savory ham so that we can enjoy it on this cold day. Since I have a bag of yellow split peas in the pantry, I adapted this recipe from Gourmet.

1 lb yellow split peas, picked over
2 qt water
1 lb ham bone with some meat on it
5 medium, finely chopped
1/2 lb. carrots, chopped in food processor
5 celery, chopped
1 medium leek (white and pale green parts only), chopped and rinsed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon dried savory, crumbled
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Rinse peas and combine in a 6- to 8-quart heavy pot with water, salt pork, and half of onions, carrots and celery. Bring to a boil, partially covered, until peas are tender but not falling apart, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Cook leek and remaining onions in butter in a large heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add to soup along with chives, savory, salt, and pepper and continue to simmer, partially covered, until peas are falling apart and soup is thickened, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Remove ham bone, if using, then shred meat and return meat to soup.

Served with a pear salad and fresh baked bread.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Package Cake

Had learned this technique in class and it was more difficult to work with rolled fondant on a square cake than a round cake because of the corners. There was alot of rolling to make the square big enough to cover the cake. And alot of stretching and pulling. I had to work fast before the the fondant dried up. The colored fondant didn't dry as quickly. Personally, I love the look of the smooth fondant, but am not too fond of the taste. It was more work for fondant cakes than buttercream. Now I know why bakeries charge more for fondant cakes! It was worth the effort, and the decorating was fun! I chose red for the holidays. It does look like a package, doesn't it?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Shrimp Stir-fry with Assorted Vegetables

A quick and easy weeknight dinner recipe that I adapted from a magazine many years ago. I like to add a ton of veggies to this dish.

1 lb raw shelled shrimp
2 tbs cooking wine
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg white
1 tbs corn starch
1/2 cup oil for frying
1 onion, sliced
2 carrots, julienned
1/2 cup sliced celery
1/2 cup sliced red pepper
1/2 cup asparagus, sliced
1/2 cup baby bak choy, halfed
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tbs sesame oil
2 tbs low-sodium chicken broth

Mix shrimp with wine, salt, egg white, cornstarch and oil. Set non-stick skillet with oil in high heat. Fry the shrimp over medium heat until just pink. Remove shrimp and set aside. Remove all but 2 tbs oil and saute onions until fragrant. Add the vegetables with 2 tbsp water and stir fry until veggies are cooked. Add shrimp and the thickening mixture of salt, constarch, sesame oil and 2 tbsp broth. Serve immediately with white or brown rice.

Chrysanthemum Tea

A girlfriend just returned from Singapore, and had asked me about this tea. It is served widely in chinese restaurants as an alternative to chinese tea, and is really easy to make.

Since I have a habit of estimating recipes, I found the following recipe at the website and this would have a more accurate measurement of the ratio of water to dried chrysanthemum flowers.

Chrysanthemum Tea
(For Reducing Internal Heat & Mild Sunstroke)
Description: This great tasting tea cleanses your body and reduces internal heat. In summer, when it is very hot, people run the risk of getting sunstroke. The chrysanthemum teas can help prevent and treat mild sunstroke.
10 - 20 Golden Chrysanthemum Tea
1 - 3 teaspoon of honey or rock sugar
3 cups (850ml) of water
Wash and drain chrysanthemum flowers.
Add 10 - 20 yellow chrysanthemum flowers into teapot.
Add 1 - 3 teaspoon of honey or rock sugar.
Pour boiling water on to content.
Allow tea to stand for 5 minutes.
I usually strain tea into cup and allow it to cool slightly before drinking. May be served hot or cold.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Ham and Cheese Scones

Ever since I had the savory scone at Panera's, I have been looking for a similar but healthier recipe. And since I have some honey baked ham in the fridge, I decided to try a recipe from the web. Found this Weight Watcher's version on the web and adapted it. Made it today. It's not bad, and H loves it!
1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1/2 cup plus 1 tbs King Arthur's white wheat flour
1 tbs baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 teaspoons sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled,cut into pieces
3/4 cup shredded low-fat cheddar cheese (can use regular cheese)
1 cup cooked ham,cubed
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 organic brown egg
1/4 cup flour
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Coat a metal baking sheet with cooking oil and set aside.
Combine first 2 Flours, baking powder, salt and sugar in a bowl.
Cut in margarine with a pastry blender or fork until mixture resembles coarse meal; stir in cheese and ham.
In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk and egg whites with a fork.
Add milk mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.
Place dough onto lightly floured surface; knead 6 times.
Place dough on baking sheet and pat into 8-inch circle; cut dough into 8 wedges; Separate a little.
Bake until slightly browned; about 20 minutes.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Honey Baked Ham Fried Rice

The weather was very cold on Saturday and Sunday (about 14 degrees F on Saturday, and 20 degrees F on Sunday, and we were out doing errands when we spotted a familar store while driving to our destination. It was the Honey Baked Ham store! We looked at each other, and laughed as we both agreed that it was a stop we had to make. So, we bought a 'small' ham that would feed 6-8 people, and it was almost impossible not to dig into it before we got home.My family loves honey baked ham, and we usually have it on Easter. After ham sandwiches, ham and cheese omelettes, and ham, crackers and olives snacks, I made ham fried rice, and ham and cheese scones (recipe coming up).
Made this fried rice using onions, fried garlic chips, green beans, eggs, salt and pepper.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Super Quinoa

High in Vitamin B, protein, calcium, iron, etc, this is a super grain-like seed that I have been wanting to try on the family. Came across these recipes, and tried it over the past weeks... I changed the called ingredient water to low-salt, range-free chicken broth in the second and third recipes as the first one originally called for it already.

Curried Quinoa (adapted from Bon Appétit)
2 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 cup quinoa
1 cup fresh spinach
2 Tbsp dried apricots
2 Tbsp sun dried tomatoes
2 Tbsp dried raisins
2 Tbsp toasted sliced almonds

Bring chicken broth and curry powder to boil in heavy small saucepan. Stir in quinoa, cover, and remove from heat; let stand 5 minutes. Add dried apricots, tomatoes and raisins. Refrigerate overnight. Serve at room temperature with toasted sliced almonds.

Quinoa Tabbouli (adapted from
2 c low-salt chicken broth
1 c Quinoa
1 can organic Muir tomatoes
2 c Parsley
2 tsp chopped fresh mint
1 c Scallions
1/2 c Freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 c Flaxseed oil
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 cucumber, cut into small cubes (on the day of serving)
Salt; to taste

Rinse quinoa well. Boil the quinoa until soft (15 mins), drain, add olive oil and lemon juice and cool. Add rest of ingredients except cucmbers to quinoa in a bowl and mix. Refrigerate overnight, and serve at room temperature after adding cucumbers.

Quinoa with Mangos and Curried Yogurt (adapted from Gourmet)
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil
1 1/3 cups quinoa (7 1/2 oz)
1 lb firm-ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks (2 cups)
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 fresh jalapeño chile, seeded (I ommited) and minced
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup roasted almonds(2 1/2 oz), chopped

Whisk together yogurt, lime juice, curry powder, ginger, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add oil in a slow stream, whisking until combined.
Rinse quinoa in a bowl using 5 changes of water, rubbing grains and letting them settle before pouring off water (if quinoa does not settle, drain in a large sieve after each rinsing).
Cook quinoa in a 4- to 5-quart pot of boiling low-salt chicken broth for 15-20 minutes using ratio of 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa. Toss quinoa with curried yogurt and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Serve warm or at room temperature.

The results were satisfactory. It has a chewy texture, and probably an acquired taste for us. My favourite is the southwest quinoa below.

Southwest quinoa (adapted from Wild Oats Market)
1 c. organic quinoa
1 tsp. sea salt
1 c. Wild Oats Medium Salsa
1/4 c. organic plain yogurt
3 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
2 tsp. Wild Oats Extra Virgin Olive Oil
juice and zest of one lime
sea salt to taste
2 c. chopped roasted chicken
1 c. Wild Oats Organic Black Beans, rinsed
1/2 organic radish, diced
1 c. Wild Oats Super Sweet Organic Corn, thawed
2 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped.

Bring 1 1/2 cups of cold water to a boil. Place quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Place quinoa and salt in boiling water. Bring back to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let sit covered for about 5 minutes. Drain quinoa in fine mesh strainer and set aside to cool. Place salsa, yogurt, cilantro, olive oil, lime juice and zest in a blender. Pulse until smooth. Season with salt. Place in refrigerator to chill. Toss cooled quinoa with chicken, radish, beans, pepper, corn, and cilantro. Add just enough dressing to coat evenly. Serve chilled.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Bacardi Rum Cake with Royal icing and Color Flow Icing

The weather outside had been chilly, and I had been wanting to bake again. Since I had learned how to make flowers from royal icing, it made the task easier. Made a rum cake and frosted it with some of the flowers I made after I got back from vacation.
I made the glazed cake earlier, and frosted it smooth after it was cooled. Had made the flowers previously, and stored in an air-tight tuberware after drying. When the children went to bed, I did the basketweave frosting, the rope frosting, and added the flowers to the cake. Then I added green frosting for the leaves.
For Sandra, who had been asking for my rum cake recipe, here's it is, as promised!

BARCARDI RUM CAKE (tried and true recipe of Carroll Pellegrinelli)
1 cup chopped, toasted pecans or walnuts
1 18-1/2 ounce yellow cake mix
1 1-3/4 ounce instant vanilla pudding mix
4 eggs
1/2 cup cold milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup Barcardi dark rum
1 stick butter
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup Barcardi dark rum

Cake: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 9-inch pans(used 2 oval pans in the picture). Sprinkle nuts on bottom of pans. Combine all cake ingredients. Beat for 2 minutes on high with electric mixer. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 45-50 mins. Cool in pan. Invert on serving plate. Prick top with fork. Drizzle glaze over top of cake. Use brush or spoon to put extra dripping back on cake.

Glaze: Melt butter in saucepan. Stir in water and sugar. Boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in rum.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

More Vacation Eats

We drove to Todos Santos to see the Hotel California that was immortalized by Eagles' song. Had a pleasant lunch there before heading to the beaches.

Went to the famous Cabo Wabo that's owned by the red rocker Sammy Hagar. Forgot to take pictures of our dinner, but it was tasty!

The 1 lb. Grilled Red Snapper was delicioso! The restaurant Mariscos Marzatlan was filled with locals and tourist alike, and the food were excellent!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Great Eats on Vacation

We had a wonderful time laying by the pool, splashing in the ocean, and eating out! Here are a few of the places we visited...

Ate at the Desperados Restaurant

Ate at El Pescador...

Monday, November 27, 2006

More Vacation Pictures

We rented a car, and drove up the coast to a couple of secluded beaches, Todo Santos, and La Paz.
The famous Hotel California where we had lunch. I only managed to get a picture of the shop next door to the hotel as we were driving away.

The beach of Los Cerritos facing the Pacific Ocean. We rented an umbrella there. Shared the beach with a couple of surfers and a guy fishing with his dog.

La Paz. There was a nice paved walkway along the shore, and they had an Applebees there. However, the wait staff didn't speak much English that day...
The arroyos (natural dry creek beds) which were filled with water during the hurricane season. We are glad that it's dry now! We drove by many arroyos along the highway...

An interesting sign on one of the side streets. It said 'Husband for Rent.' We didn't check it out though...