Saturday, September 29, 2007

Curried Butternut Squash

Since we were having roast chicken with company tonight, I made butternut squash as one of the sides. This recipe came from a cooking magazine clipping of yesteryear.1 small/med butternut squash (around 2 lb or 1 kg)
2 tbs vegetable oil
2 shallots, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp Thai red curry paste
14 oz coconut milk
1/2 cup homemade chicken stock
3 tbs light soy sauce
1 tbs brown sugar
1 tbs fish sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 sweet red pepper, cubed
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbs lime juice or to taste Peel and seed squash. Cut into 3/4-inch cubes to make 3 cups. Set aside.
In a non-stick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Cook shallots, garlic til fragrant, then add red curry paste, stirring til onion is softened, about 5 minutes.
Add squash, coconut milk, stock, soy sauce, sugar, fish sauce and salt. Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low. Partially cover and simmer until squash is almost tender, about 10-15 minutes.
Add red pepper and simmer for 5-8 mins.

Stir in cilantro and lime juice.

Note: This would be a nice dish with meat ingredient added to it too. You may want to adjust the heat of this dish to your taste.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Butternut Squash

I am falling for Fall!

The colors of the aspen trees turning from green to golden and flickering in the sun, the comfortable cooler weather, and the harvest of fruits and vegetables. You can see the hillside filled with spots of aspens that turned yellow and golden beside the evergreens. This picture was taken last week, and I'm sure the all the aspens have turned golden by now as we had a few chilly nights.

It is also pumpkin and winter squash season, and the grocery stores and farmers market are filled with a variaty of big, small, green, yellow and orange ones.

Bought this butternut squash because I liked the shape, and thought of making a dish out of it.What am I going to make, you think?

Will be posting tonight.

Buttery Brown Sugar Acorn Squash

This is the third part of that meal made for my vegetarian friend and it's the one she enjoyed most. I think that there's a little kid in us that yearns for the superb combination of sugar and butter like in cookies, cakes, or in my case some melted butter on a hot piece of toast with some sugar sprinkled on top of it. So bad and yet simply tasty!Butter and Brown Sugar Acorn Squash
2 acorn squash (about 1 1/2 lb each), halved
4 tbs unsalted butter
4 tbs dark brown sugar

Set a damp tablecloth on a thick cutting board, and place an acorn squash on the tablecloth to hole the squash in position. Using a cleaver, slice the acorn squash into halves with the help of a mallet. Drive the cleaver through the acorn squash til it cuts completely into the squash.
Sprinkle the squash halves with salt and place cut-side down into a 13x9 glass microwavable dish. Add 1/4-1/3 cup of water to the dish. Cover tightly with Saran warp. Use multiple sheets if necessary. With a small knife, poke about 4 steam vents on the wrap. Microwave on high power til squash is tender, about 15-25 mins. Using potholders, remove the baking dish or bowl from the oven and set on a clean, dry surface. Avoid a damp or cold surface, and be careful as this is really hot.
Wile squash is cooking, adjust an oven rack to the uppermost position (about 6 in. from heating element). Turn on broiler. In a small saucepan, melt butter and brown sugar, and 1/8 tsp salt until combined on low heat.
When squash is cooked, carefully pull back Saran wrap from side farthest from you. Using tongs, transfer cooked squashed cut side up to a rimmed baking sheet that covered with foil. Spoon a portion of butter mixture into each half. Broil til brown and caramelized 5-8 mins. Set on individual plates and serve immediately.

Recipe from Cooks Illustrated Magazine.

Note: The butter and brown sugar on the tender acorn made it taste so good. I usually add bacon on top of it too, but couldn't this time. Sal enjoyed her acorn immensely. The kids loved it too.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Berry Berry Good Salad

Made this salad as part of the meal for my vegetarian girlfriend. I admire her will power to turn her back on meat. Me, being more of a carnivore than a herbivore, find it hard to turn away from crispy fried bacon or a good piece of tender grilled steak. This is a nice change for me, and I think I can handle a meal without bacon or fish. On second thought, I'm just going to raid my fridge for a piece of leftover fried chicken after this.
Mixed salad greens of your choice
Baby mozzarella cheese
Mandarin oranges
Fresh blueberries
Fresh raspberries
Fresh tomatoes
Toss greens with desired amount of salad dressing. I used a balsamic vinaigrette (recipe below) and served the salad with toasted pecans on the side.
Balsamic Vinaigrette
1/2 c balisamic vinegar
3 tbs dijon mustard
3 tbs honey
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp minced shallots
1/2 tsp cayanne pepper
1/2 tsp freshly grind black pepper
1 c olive oil
In a food processor, mix the first 8 ingredients. With the food processor on, drizzle the olive oil in and mix til combined. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

A Woman's Tears and French Onion Soup

My dear MIL send me this today, I thought I'd post it here. And it just so happened that I had onions in mind too...
A little boy asked his mother, 'Why are you crying?' 'Because I'm a woman,' she told him.

'I don't understand,' he said. His Mom just hugged him and said, 'And you never will.'

Later the little boy asked his father, 'Why does mother seem to cry for no reason?'

'All women cry for no reason,' was all his dad could say.

The little boy grew up and became a man, still wondering why women cry.

Finally he put in a call to God. When God got on the phone, he asked, 'God, why do women cry so easily?'

God said:

'When I made the woman she had to be special.

I made her shoulders strong enough to carry the weight of the world,

yet gentle enough to give comfort

I gave her an inner strength to endure childbirth and the rejection that many times comes from her children.

I gave her a hardness that allows her to keep going when everyone else gives up, and take care of her family through sickness and fatigue with out complaining.

I gave her the sensitivity to love her children under any and all circumstances, even when her child has hurt her very badly.

I gave her strength to carry her husband through his faults and fashioned her from his rib to protect his heart.

I gave her wisdom to know that a good husband never hurts his wife, but sometimes tests her strengths and her resolve to stand beside him unfalteringly.

And finally, I gave her a tear to shed. This is hers exclusively to use whenever it is needed.'

'You see my son,' said God, 'the beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair.

The beauty of a woman must be seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart - the place where love resides.

After reading the above, I thought it was appropriate to post it with my newly found recipe of vegetarian french onion soup.


Because I had stream of tears while slicing all those onions. Should have done the toast trick, or wore these goggles from
Does anyone know if these work? Maybe I should have worn my swimming goggles to block off the onion gas from my tear buds.

Everyone I know has her/his version of french onion soup. This one is from Mollie Katzen of Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, New York, and I made this for a vegetarian friend who dropped by for a quick bite earlier.
Vegetarian Onion Soup
2 tbs butter
4 large yellow onions, thinly sliced1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard
fresh thyme from 3 sprigs of thyme
4 cups water
2 tbs soy sauce
2 to 3 tbs dry white wine
white pepper

thin slices of swiss cheese (used Gruyere)
think slices of french bread or baguette

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. Add onions and salt, and cook over med heat for about 10 mins, stirring occasionally.

Add mustard and fresh thyme. Stire and cover. Turn the heat to low and simmer for about 35-45 mins. The onions will be exquisitely soft and simmer in their own liquid. And the house smelled lovely.

Add water, soy sauce, wine, and white pepper. Simmer for 10-15 mins more. Taste and adjust seasonings. Scoop into oven-proof bowls, top with bread and cheese, and put under the broiler to brown the cheese. Be careful handling as these bowls are hot.Note: I was intrigued with this recipe when I got hold of it, and it turn out pretty good. I still prefer Julia Child's recipe with lots more butter, but this is a nice and easy one for having vegetarian friends over and perfect for a cold rainy day.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

And they called me Food Face!

It's so nice to be a lioness and not have to deal with climate changes on their skin. I love this picture from

With the change of weather to cooler, windy days, I was looking for a quick fix for my skin and came across a Banana Moon Facial Mask at Green Living. Decided to give it a try as all the ingredients sound interesting. You can get the oils from Wholefoods or Vitamin Cottage.

Coincidentally, since they started preschool, my kiddos have been hovering around me every minute and didn't want to be more than 3 feet from me.

Today, they saw me smashing a banana with the other ingredients and one exclaimed "Food!"

So I gave them each a banana.

After that, they followed me to the mirror by the sink, and when I applied the mask on, the other one shouted "Mommy! Your Face!"

And then they both screamed "FOOD FACE!" and laughed.

My eyes were filled with tears of laughter, and I thought "Why did I teach them words?"

Recipe from Donna Maria and green living.
1 large banana, just ripe
2 tbs honey
1 egg yolk
1 tsp wheat germ oil(used almond oil instead)
1 tablespoon finely powdered oats
1 tsp lemon juice
2 drops rose oil

Peel and mash banana. Add honey, egg yolk, oil, oats, and lemon juice, if used, and mash further to form a smooth, creamy paste.

If mask is too thick, add a bit of distilled water, and stir until smooth.

Add essential oils last, and stir to mix well.

To use, apply to clean face and neck, avoiding eye and mouth areas. Rest for 10 minutes, or longer if your skin is very dry. Rinse with warm water, and follow with toner and moisturizer, if desired. Use mask within a few hours of making. And no matter how tempted you are, don't eat the mask.

Note: I think it worked for me though Hubs hardly noticed. It may work for you. Remember to test on wrist first in case of allergic reactions.
Remember not to use with toddlers present, and try not to laugh with the mask on. Just laugh inside. Try it.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Checkerboard Cookies and Peony's gift

As the weather cools down and the leaves on the trees turn yellow, orange and red here, I have been busy with projects in my garden as I remove the withering warm-loving vegetable plants and geraniums (which are annuals here), and planted some chrysanthemums for fall.

One of the kids in the play group had a birthday party, and I brought a checkerboard cookie tray and gifts to that party. This is very easy to make using refrigerated chocolate chips cookie dough and dark chocolate mini bronie bites dough from Nestle Toll House. They come in a bar and are so convenient for this bake. Got this simple recipe from a friend Cindy's recipe file.

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease 13x9 glass baking dish.

Open each bar of cookie dough and cut into 12 pieces. Place alternately 1/2 inch apart in prepared pan to make checkerboard design.

Bake for 24-27 mins or until cooked. Cool completely and cut into bars.

Note: very easy for a lovely presentation.

On the same sweet note, my dear fellow blogger Peony or My Culinary Journal passed an award to me, and I'm thrilled to recive it. Thank you so much Peony!

However, I'm once again stumped on who to pass it to, as there are soooooooooo many wonderful bloggers out there! So, after thinking it through for awhile, I'm passing this award to:

Farm Girl for your wonderful bakes and heart-warming stories on the farm where I'm a frequent 'lurker.'

Kalyn's Kitchen for your delicious recipes and warm personality that shines through the web into my computer screen.

Judy for your sweet, funny grandmother's stories and comforting recipes.

Beau Lotus for your way with words and yummy recipes.

Rasa Malaysia for your beautiful pictures and recipes.

Retno Prihadana for your creative recipes and that no-alcohol tiramisu for kids.

Wandering Chopsticks for all your many talents (gardening, cooking, reviews.)

Kelly for your intersting reviews and fun recipes.

You're all wonderful in your own way and oh-so-creative!

Okay, I'm going to stop here so that my friend 'C' can give her award to the rest of you. hehe!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Peach Tart

The third thing I made was a peach tart.

Used a Rustic Peach Tart recipe from Wholefoods, but changed it to an elegant peach tart using a quiche pan with removable bottom.

1/2 cup all-purpose flour, more for rolling out the pastry
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbs cold butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup ice cold water, more if needed
1 1/2 lb peaches (about 4 or 5 peaches)
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted (used 2 Tbs ground almonds instead)
For the glaze

1 tbs butter
1 tbs peach preserves
1 tbs sugar

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, whole wheat pastry flour and salt. Gently incorporate butter with hands or pastry blender, leaving some pea-sized pieces. Drizzle water over top of flour-butter mixture, a tablespoon at a time, and work until dough comes together in a ball. Press dough into a disk and refrigerate for 15 mins.

Meanwhile, to peel the peaches, bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the peaches and cook for 10 to 30 seconds, depending on the fruit's ripeness. Transfer peaches to cold water to stop the cooking. Peel the peaches-the skins should slip right off. Halve them and remove the pits. Slice the peaches thinly and toss them with sugar and lemon juice.

Preheat oven to 425F. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface into a circular shape about 1/8-in. thick. Gently transfer dough to baking sheet by folding it into quarters. Unfold dough into pan and sprinkle almonds over it. Pile peaches on top of almonds, then fold edges of dough up over the fruit.

To make the glaze, heat butter and apricot preserves in a small saucepan until just melted, stirring to combine. Brush dough with mixture and drizzle remaining over the fruit. Sprinkle pastry and fruit with sugar. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F and bake 20 to 25 minutes longer, until dough is golden brown and fruit juices are bubbling. Allow to cool 10 minutes before serving.

Note: I used Julia Child's method to prebake the pastry shell first before adding the fruit to prevent a soggy bottom crust. This pie came out lovely!

Roasted Peaches with Pistachio Creme Anglaise

The second thing I made with the case of peaches was roasted peaches for company.

This is sooooooo good! If you haven't had roasted peach, it's worth a try. I used ripe, sweet peaches that is in the end of it's season, and the combination of the hint of rum, pistachios, organic almond extract, and the peach is heavenly! This recipe is from William Sonoma.
For the pistachio creme anglaise:
1/2 cup unsalted, raw pistachios (I used a little more)
6 egg yolks
1 Tbs cornstarch (used tapioca starch)
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups milk (used whole milk)
1/4 tsp organic almond extract
Tiny pinch of salt

For the peaches:
6 firm yet ripe peaches, about 2 lb. total
3 to 4 Tbs dark rum
2 to 3 Tbs sugar

Fresh mint sprigs for garnish To make the creme anglaise, in a food processor, process the pistachios to a fine powder.

Whisk together the egg yolks, cornstarch and sugar in saucepan, then gradually whisk in the milk and the pistachios until thoroughly blended. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly with whisk, til the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and leaves a clear trail when a finger is drawn through it, 7 to 10 minutes; do not let it boil. Place in a larger bowl partially filled with ice water and let cool, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Stir in the almond extract and salt. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Preheat an oven to 400F.

To prepare the peaches, using a small, sharp knife, score a line around the equator of each peach. Have ready a large bowl three-fourths full of ice water. Bring a large saucepan three-fourths full of water to a boil over high heat. Submerge as many peaches as will fit in the pan without crowding them. Cover and boil until the skins start to split, about 1-3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the peaches to the ice water. Using your fingertips or the knife, carefully peel the peaches. Repeat with any remaining peaches.

Place the peaches in a baking dish (I used 2 glass pie pans) just large enough to accommodate them without touching, drizzle evenly with the rum and sprinkle evenly with the sugar. Add water to a depth of about 1/4 inch. Bake until the sugar caramelizes and the peaches are just tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, 25 to 30 minutes; they should keep their shape. Remove and let cool to room temperature.

Place the peaches on individual plates and drizzle with some of the juices from the baking dish. Drizzle the pistachio crème anglaise in a pool surrounding each peach. Garnish with mint sprigs and serve. Serves 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Foods of the World Series,Paris,by Marlena Spieler

Note: Made an elegant finish to a wonderful dinner party. Will definitely do this recipe again.

Peach Butter


You've been so sweet and patient with this, and I'm typing this as fast as possible to let you know what I've done with that case of peaches. A couple went to the neighbors for house-sitting, a few were consumed in it's fresh, succulent, sweet, juicy state, and the rest were used in Peach Butter, Peach Tart and a Roasted Peach recipe. Will be posting the other two soon, but here's my Peach Butter.Much like apple butter, peach butter is a preserve made by slowly cooking peaches, sugar and spices (I used cinnamon) together. This is so good as a spread for breads. It's just natural sweet goodness!

For those of you that may be unfamiliar with peach butter, I made this as a variation from apple butter which according to wikipedia, is a highly concentrated form of apple sauce, produced by long, slow cooking of apples with cider or water to a point where the sugar in the apples caramelizes, turning the apple butter a deep brown. The concentration of sugar gives apple butter a much longer shelf life as a preserve than applesauce. Apple butter was a popular way of using apples in colonial America, and well into the 19th century. Hence, this is my version of peach butter using a little apple cider, a cinnamon stick and lots and lots of stirring. Made with TLC, of course!

Found more information on Peaches at the Palidade Peach Festival website.

The peach is a member of the rose family.

Peaches are extremely popular in the U.S. Only apples, oranges and bananas are consumed more than peaches.

The United States is the largest peach producer in the world. Peaches are grown commercially in almost every region of the country.

Fuzz helps the peach defend itself from various threats. Some feel the fuzz was developed to give the fruit more resistance to insects and diseases. Another theory is that the fuzz protects peaches from sunburn and potential water loss.

Not all the fruit on a tree ripens at the same time. Usually, fruit on the outside and top of the tree will ripen about a week before fruit on the middle and inside of the tree. When peaches ripen, the side that is facing the sun develops a rosy "blush," while the part not exposed turns from green to a creamy yellow. This color is the best indicator of ripeness.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


I found some delicious looking fresh peaches from Palisade, Coloardo at the farmer's market, and bought a case. Wanna guess what I'm making with these beauties?

Bacon-Lettuce,Tomatoe & Guacamole Sandwich

I realized that it's not a good idea for me to be home alone. With the kids in school, I migrated to my old routine of multi-tasking. Like cleaning with the Food Network channel instead of the Noggin channel or the Disney channel.

And for some strange unexplainable reason, I tend to end up in the kitchen nippling on fruit or standing infront of the refrigerator. My kitchen is the magnetic field and I'm the drawn to it. So, my lunch today was my favorite bacon-lettuce-tomato-gaucamole sandwich. Why? Because I saw a package of bacon sitting in the chiller and decided to cook it all up. Why? Because I'm only human, and I love bacon! And maybe I shouldn't watch cooking shows at 10 am.

4 slices toasted bread
6 tbs Gaucomole
12 slices cooked bacon
6 slices tomato
3 lettuce leaves
2 tbs Hidden Valley Ranch dressing

Spread toast with guacamole, then layer remaining ingredients. Cut in half and serve.

Makes 2 BLTG or one big one!

Note: Equally good with sliced red onions, maple flavored bacon, applewood smoked bacon or/and peppered bacon. Oooooo! BACON!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Green Papaya Salad with Seared Scallops

Went to the asian market and found some really green papaya. This recipe for green papaya salad came from Gourmet. I bought some sea scallops from the local grocery store, pan-seared them, and served them on top of the papaya salad.

For sambal belacan
2 tsp belacan (shrimp paste)
3 (5 1/2-inch) fresh Holland red chiles*, sliced, including seeds
1/2 tsp sugar

For salad
1/4 oz small dried shrimp* (1 tablespoon)
1/4 tsp salt
2 shallots, thinly sliced crosswise (1/4 cup)
1 (1 1/2-lb) piece green papaya* or 1 1/2 lb seedless cucumber (1 to 2; usually plastic-wrapped)
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
Make sambal belacan: Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350F.

Wrap belacan tightly in foil and bake 10 minutes. Open foil carefully and cool belacan to room temperature, about 15 minutes. Crumble belacan into mini food processor and finely purée with chiles and sugar. I open foil outside on the patio so that the house doesn't smell of belacan.

Make salad:
Soak shrimp in 1 cup hot water in a bowl until soft, about 10 minutes.

While shrimp soak, stir together salt and 1 cup cold water until salt is dissolved, then add shallot and soak 5 minutes. Drain shallot in a sieve and pat dry.

Drain shrimp in a colander and pat dry. Pulse shrimp in cleaned mini processor until finely ground.

Peel, halve, and seed papaya (or cucumber). Cut into large pieces, then cut into 1/8-inch-thick matchsticks with slicer.

Stir together lime juice, sugar, and 1 tablespoon sambal belacan in a large serving bowl until sugar is dissolved. Add shrimp, shallot, and papaya, tossing to combine well.

Sambal belacan keeps, covered and chilled, 3 months.

Note: Served this as a side dish to chicken satay and pad thai noodles. This was an unusual way to serve green papaya salad and the sambal added a kick to this dish. I liked the seared scallops with the salad as a change from the sliced beef or shrimp that were usually served with this dish too. This recipes makes enough for 8 side servings. If you can't find green papayas in your neighbourhood, you can substitute with shredded or julienned carrots, cucumber or zucchini. Or a combination of all that would be like and refreshing!

Preschool Blues

I am sitting down in a quiet house to blog this morning. Quiet though not in a good way, as I missed those little feet stomping around the corner and giggling in delight when they try to catch each other. This is a sad day for one mommy here.

I found a brand new preschool that's close to home and accepting enrollment, and it's been a difficult week for me as I prepare my kids and myself for this private preschool. What made it worse was that I shed more tears than them as I dropped them off to school in the morning. I am happy that my little muchkins are growing up and making friends, but why is it so hard for me to leave them in a safe environment for a few hours each week?

Sunday, September 16, 2007


Autumn annouced her presence by dropping the temperature to the 50s earlier last week. She breezed through the backyard, ignoring the cries of my warmth-loving vegetables as I hurried to harvest the last of this season's crops. Summer will soon be but another memory. Maybe there will be song about the summer of 07?

Time flew by once again, and summer is almost gone. The cold is a welcome change, and I know that about four months from now when the snow storms and blizzards hit my backyard, this temperature in the fifties will be a heat-wave for us. But at this moment, the fifties feel very cold compared to temperatures in the nineties last week.

This time of year also brings out the late harvest of peaches, corn, zuchinni, tomatoes, and an array of wonderful fruits and vegetables appear at the farmer's market and farm stands. This signals canning season, and I am itching to try my hands on jams, pickles and fruit canning this year. Funny how things like canning seemed trival before, but since having kids, I felt a need to try canning! Maybe something to do with the gatherer in me. The weather's cooler in the mornings and evenings, and the farmer's market are bustling with fruit stands this time of the year. All the fruits and vegetables look so good that I have a hard time picking out what fruit to bring home from the fruit stands.

Bought my first hot water canner, glass jars, and all the equipment needed for my jam-making experience. I am going mass production (10 half-pint jars) compared to my little recipes made in my breadmaker for 2 cups at a time and stored in the fridge. Oh yes, I am getting stored up for the winter! Actually, I'm making these up as gifts. So, if you are reading this and you get a jar, act surprised, ok?

Had a case of delicious sweet plums thinking that my kids would go for it. But not a chance! They didn't care of the tart-tasting skin, and wouldn't go near it unless I remove that thin pieces of sour skin for them. I should have known that my little munchkins prefer peaches than plums. As I quickly grew tired of the chore of peeling plum skins, I slice them up with a thin band of skin, thinking they might just eat the whole slice. This is what I ended up with.
So, I made jam with the rest of them plums. Yes! All 4 lbs of them plums.Long story short, after a couple of hours stirring at the stove and canning, I have these lovely jars of plum jelly. The long cooking and proper canning proceedure ensures that these plum jelly will keep well up to a year without refrigeration, but I don't think they will last that long.

Friday, September 14, 2007

TGIF Green Bean Fries + Green Bean Stir-Fry

Met up with some friends recently, and we had a fun-filled, pleasant and chatty meal at TGI Fridays. Unlike my previous experience, the food arrived hot, the service was fast, and we had a nice wait person. And there was one particular appetizer that stole the limelight, and had us talking about it days later. It's their green beans fries!

The green bean fries came out in TGI Fridays signature red basket on their red-and-white striped paper and came with a mouth-awakening ranch dip that was spiked with wasabi according to our eager waiter. Since a couple of us ordered this item, we had enough to share around the table. Those crunchy battered green beans were hot and the spiked dip sealed the tasty green bean fries with a beautiful horseradish taste! My not-so-keen-for-green-beans partner thoroughly enjoyed them too, and it was fun to watch that arm to mouth movement working like a fully wind-up toy. Even the kids got into the action although they smartly skipped the dip-with-a-kick!

Yesterday, my girlfriend gave me a copy of this copy-cat recipe she had found, and of course I had to make this as part of dinner. I used french beans, and changed the breading from regular bread crumbs to panko (tempura breading) and it came out less greasy and more crunchy than the original1/2 cup ranch dressing (I used Hidden Valley Peppercorn Ranch)
1 tbs milk
1/3 cup diced up, peeled, mini cucumber
1 tsp wasabi powder
1 1/2 tsp prepared horseradish
Pinch of Cayenne pepper
Pinch salt
freshly ground pepper

Make the dip by putting everything in a food processor. Mix well and chill til ready to serve.

Green Bean Fries
8 oz tender green beans, rinsed and cut in half
4 cups vegetable broth
cold water ice bath
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
pinch of salt
panko bread crumbs
vegetable oil for deep frying

Add beans to broth and bring to a boil. Cook for 15 mins, then place in cold water ice bath to stop the cooking process. Mix beaten egg with milk, garlic powder and onion powder. Shake the beans of excess water, and coat the beans with egg mixture. Then dip beans one at a time into panko and place on a plate. Do this til all the beans are coated.

Heat enough oil to cover beans and bring oil to 350F in a heavy skillet. Fry beans til golden brown. Drain on paper towels and serve with dip.

NOTE: This is addictive! But green bean fries are healthier than potatoe french fries, no?

And since french beans are an excellent source of vitamin A, C, and folate, and because I bought a 2 lb. bag, the rest of the green beans were stir-fried and served over noodles.1 lb ground turkey
2 tbs vegetable oil
1 tbs Chinese rice wine
1 tbs dark soy sauce
1/2 tbs Chinese hot bean paste
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced peeled fresh ginger
1 tsp Chile powder
1/3 cup chicken broth
1 tsp cornstarch mixed with 1 tbs cold water.

In a hot non-stick wok, add oil, swirling to coat. Add turkey and stir-fry, breaking up lumps, til there's no pink, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in wine and 1/2 tbs soy sauce and stir-fry another min.

Add hot bean paste and stir-fry until fragrant, about 1 min. Add ginger, garlic, Chile powder, and stir-fry until fragrant. Add broth, remaining 1/2 tbs soy sauce, and green beans, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring gently, about 3-5 minutes. Stir cornstarch mixture and add to wok. Cook til sauce is thickened, about 3 min.

Serve immediately over hot noodles.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Wanna be a Girl Bear?

My sweet mother-in-law forwarded this to me in her email earlier today, and I'd like to share it with all of you...


In this life I am a woman.
In my next life, I'd like to come back as a bear.
When you're a bear, you get to hibernate.
You do nothing but sleep for 6 months.
I could deal with that.

Before you hibernate,
you are supposed to eat yourself stupid.
I could deal with that too.

When you're a girl bear, you birth your children
(who are the size of walnuts)
while you're sleeping and wake up to parially grown,
cute, cuddly cubs.
I could definitely deal with that.

If you're a mama bear, everyone knows you mean business.
You swat anyone who bothers your cubs.
If your cubs get out of line, you swat them too.
I could deal with that.If you're a bear, your mate EXPECTS you to wake up growling.
He EXPECTS that you will have hairy legs and excess body fat.

Yup, gonna be a bear!

Wasn't this funny?
Would you like to be a girl bear???

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Tomatoes with Feta and Chives

There are several of vegetables that signifies summer, especially in a temperate climate area where I live, and tomatoes fall in that category for me. And now with summer quickly slipping away, my last harvest of garden tomatoes will soon be a memory. I have a few smaller tomatoes left, and decided to make this quick and lovely dish that's also otherwise known as stuffed tomatoes.

6 med sized tomatoes, halfed
4-6 oz feta cheese
2 wholewheat bread, toasted and grind in food processor
2 tbs finely chopped chives
1 tbs finely chopped onions
3 tbs olive oil
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Set oven at 350F
Scoop pulp from tomatoes (I used the seeds and pulp in a soup dish). Mix ingredients from feta cheese to pepper, and spoon into tomatoes. Place in a baking dish.

Bake for 10-15 mins. Serve.

Recipe adpated from Southern Living magazine.

Fresh Strawberry Sorbet

Since we have been eating out a lot lately, I thought it would be nice to make a light strawberry sorbet from the batch of strawberries I have in the fridge. Used this recipe from Bon Appetit.

Make a sugar syrup using 2 cups water and 1 cup sugar. Boil for 5 mins til sugar dessolves. Add 1/4 cup fresh orange juice, 1/4 cup fresh lime juice to the sugar mixture, stir and chill for 2 hours in a covered bowl.

Puree 1 quart cleaned and hulled strawberries in a food processor til smooth. Add chilled sugar/orange/lime mixture into ice cream maker (I used my 2 quart ice cream maker), and 25 mins. later, I have fresh strawberry sorbet!
If you don't have a ice cream maker, place the mixture into a shallow container like a pyrex 9x13, and place in freezer, stirring with a fork every hour til set, about 6 hours.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Radiatori to the Rescue

Have you seen these pasta shapes before? They are suppose to look like radiators found in older homes, and I found them adorable. I was browsing through the aisles of the pasta section of the local grocery store, and came across these cute looking pasta. I couldn't resist buying them instead of the regular macaroni pasta for the kids.

Tried this simple recipe from epicurious and it is very good for a fast dinner. If you like garlic, olive oil, sun-dried tomatoes, and pine nuts like me, you'll love this. Served with grilled chicken and a spinach salad.1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
8 oz. Radiatori pasta
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
1/3 cup sliced black olives
minced fresh cilantro(optional)
salt and pepper to taste
freshly grated Parmesan

Place the sun-dried tomatoes in a heatproof bowl, cover with boiling water, and set aside to soften for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a large covered pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente.

While the pasta cooks, in a small pan on low heat or in a microwave-safe bowl, heat the oil and garlic until golden. Set aside. Drain the sun-dried tomatoes, reserving the soaking liquid. Cut the tomatoes into thin strips.

When the pasta is done, drain it and place in a serving bowl. Add the cooked garlic, sun-dried tomato strips, pine nuts, and cilantro. Toss well. Stir in some of the reserved sun-dried tomato soaking liquid to moisten the pasta, if needed. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot, topped with grated cheese if you like.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.
by the Moosewood Collective
Clarkson Potter

Note: So easy, and so good. I served it with grilled chicken and green salad. I also added some cayanne pepper to the adult bowls for some delicious heat. A simple pasta dinner with lots of flavor.

Entering blogging events have been a myth to me, mainly because I didn't think mine was good enough. Thanks to Nora B. for her advice, I'm sending this as an entry to Ruth's Presto Pasta Night. This is my first entry ever, so I hope I got it right. :)

What's your favorite pasta?

Daisy Ann Cake with Lemon Curd and Raspberries

Notice that little hand reaching for the cake on the top left corner? Seconds later, that little person grab a raspberry.
When I first saw this pan early this summer, I thought of how lovely the fluted, curved sides looked and the dipped section on the top would make a lovely spot for whipped cream and fruits. Then I read on the small printed label that this "flower-shaped version inspired by the classic Mary Anns cake shell pans was first introduced in the United States in 1921 and produced light cake shells for holding custards, fruit curds or fresh berries."

Long story short, I finally took it out this weekend to make this cake for a group. Took the recipe on the back of the label.

Recipe on the pan for Cake (William Sonoma's)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
16 Tbs (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk

Preheat an oven to 350F. Grease and flour a Daisy Ann cake pan.

Over a sheet of waxed paper, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the granulated sugar, beating until blended. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue beating until the mixture is light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the vanilla.

Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour, beating just until blended and no lumps of flour remain.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Carefully turn the cake out onto the rack and let cool completely, at least 1 hour.

Put the lemon curd in a bowl. Using a large rubber spatula, gently stir the whipped cream into the curd until no white streaks remain. Spread the lemon curd mixture in the well of the cake. Place raspberry on top of the curd in each flute. Mound the rest in the center of the lemon curd. Dust the cake with confectioners sugar.
Recipe for Lemon Curd from Fine Cooking
6 Tbs unsalted butter,
softened at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. grated lemon zest

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer, about 2 min. Slowly add the eggs and yolks. Beat for 1 min. Mix in the lemon juice. The mixture will look curdled, but it will smooth out as it cooks.

In a medium, heavy-based saucepan, cook the mixture over low heat until it looks smooth. (The curdled appearance disappears as the butter in the mixture melts.) Increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 15 min. It should leave a path on the back of a spoon and will read 170F on a thermometer. Don't let the mixture boil.

Remove the curd from the heat; stir in the lemon zest. Transfer the curd to a bowl. Press plastic wrap on the surface of the lemon curd to keep a skin from forming and chill the curd in the refrigerator. The curd will thicken further as it cools.
Note: I love this recipe for lemon curd. It's so easy, but just remember not to stop stirring and don't let it boil in the cooking stage. The cake recipe was sweet, but complimented the lemon curd and fresh raspberries well. Great for a big crowd.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Fabulous Figs

Don't blink! It's fig season again!

I was thrilled to find some great looking fresh figs at Wholefoods yesterday, and bought some home.

This is the time of year for figs, around late summer and early fall. You and I have probably learned this before, but I was informed again that fig trees belong to family of ficus trees, and that the infamous banyan tree is also in that family. The flowers actually becomes the fruit in this tree, and the fig wasps help pollinate them. There are fig trees in Texas and Hawaii and wherever the temperature is warm and tropical. All these information came from an elderly kind lady who was a retired teacher. She was picking figs right next to me and provided me with all this data without me even asking. God bless teachers everywhere!

Back to the figs I bought. After rinsing them, the first one I ate was bursting with sweetness. I ate it skin and all, except for the stem, of course. Maybe because I've never tasted fresh figs til a few years ago, but I am crazy about them now. Especially when it's ripe and perfect. I started playing around with the rest of the figs from recipes I found in magazines like Williams Sonoma.

I made this with some marscapone cheese, honey, and mint leaves. It was divine, but I couldn't have more than one, even though I tried. The rich marscapone (italian cream cheese) with the italian honey (or your local honey) with the mint and the figs transport you to another dimension. When you put that awesome combination in your mouth, it's like your taste buds are singing amoire!
This one was for dinner with a loaf of crusty bread. It is made up of genoa salami, procuitto (like an italian smoked ham), cantalope with figs. This combo of flavors adds the aromatic flavors of the cantalope to the figs. I enjoyed the salami, figs, and cantalope mix better than the figs, cantalope and prociutto. But both were good. In case you were wondering, that sprig of mint was from my iced tea and placed there simply for decoration.
This was done tonight, and hit the spot for me. I love seared prociutto, and this is simply half a fig wrapped in prociutto and pan-seared. Very easy, and oh sooooo good. It's like summer and smokey bbq flavors mingling and teasing your senses. Had this with some heavily buttered, thick-sliced toasted country bread from Panera's, bread store chain that's in town. A glass of red would go nicely with it too, I'm sure. Kathryn and Suzanne, you're gonna love all three!

Can you tell I'm in the mood for figs?

Another reason that allevited my mood today was that my dear girlfriend C of Little Corner of Mine had graciously awarded me the Rocker Girl award. Does that means I have more bragging rights now? hehe! Although I don't feel I deserve it, I thank you for your friendship and encouragement, my comrade. As Sally Field had famously said before, YOU LIKE ME! YOU REALLY LIKE ME! **bow, curtsy, happy dance!**

A number of you have already had this award in the past, so I will exclude you guys. As with the rest of you, I had a hard time picking who to award. Um.... maybe I should keep this hot pink award for's a nice color on me, don't you think? hahahaha!
OK, OK, I'll pass the award onwards. After much deliberation, I'd like to pass this special award to:

Tigerfish for your creative flair
Lee Ping for your spiritual inspiration
Peony for just being you
Daphne for your fun spirit
Cris for your support
Lily for your kindness

In my opinion, everyone (mothers, sistas, grandma, aunt, sis, girlfriends and yes, you guys too!) of you ROCK!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Carb-less Noodles?

After the three-day-weekend of not doing much except making a couple of side dishes for bbqs, I am back to standing infront of my opened refrigerator and staring at the contents. My eyes scanning and mind thinking of what to cook using the ingredients I purchased from my last few grocery shopping trips. I had a few ridged gourds, green peppers, and cilantro laying in the crisp basket in the fridge....

Found this interesting packet of shredded tofu at the asian market, and bought it out of curiousity. It was made in New York and has a clearly marked expiration date. When I opened the foil packet, I was surprised and delighted to find the tofu looked more like noodles. I could use it in place of noodles in a laksa broth, or stir-fry it with some meat and maybe use up the ridge gourd. So many possibilties went through my head, but in the end, I went for the quickest, shortest, painless route of stir-fry! And since I have some wonderful minced/ground turkey meat in the fridge too, I made a healthy lunch of stir-fry lo-tofu instead of lo-mein.
My kids asked what the dish was, so I told them it was lo-tofu. Now they are running around the house singing lo-tofu, hi-tofu, my-toe-full!
Note: The tofu was interestingly resilient in the stir-fry and didn't break up as much as I had expected. The sauce helped make the tofu alot tastier too. A altogether interesting dish experiment.