Archive | original Gourmeted recipe

Creamy Sweet Beet Pie with Hazelnut Crust and Yogurt Syrup

This is my ode to the beet. I love it. It is good steamed/boiled, but why stop there? Surely the humble, yet provocatively deep red-colored, beet has more to offer beyond the boundaries of salads, or worse, as a natural red food color. The result of an evening of inspiration and creativity was this Creamy Sweet Beet Pie with Hazelnut Crust. The yogurt syrup makes it even better. Oh my! Even the beet skeptic might be swayed to the beat of the beet!

Creamy Sweet Beet Pie with Yogurt Syrup

•  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •

Like a northern snowbird, I headed south last week. To get used to the time, I had this not-so-great idea to tough it out on my first night: stay up, finish writing this, get some work done, and be early to bed the next evening to ‘reset’ my circardian rhythm. My thirty-something body, on the other hand, had other plans–like succumbing to exhaustion before midnight, not feeling my laptop slip from the bed and not hearing the heartbreaking sound of the machine hitting the hardwood floor. Nope. I had woken up in a daze at 3am, local time, and slowly realized that ACK! MY LAPTOP!!! Blood drained from my face when I saw it closed, but monitor at the bottom. #$&(*&%! I leaped from the bed to assess the damage, praying that the screen didn’t $hatter into piece$.  Thankfully, everything was still intact except for the corner dent, and most importantly: it still worked! Whew. After that, I couldn’t bring myself to push my luck in the staying-up-too-late-to-post department for the rest of the week.

•  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •

Beets, we meet again. You and your unpretentious exterior.

Beets

Your unassuming presence change once peeled and cut, and you resemble rubies or garnets.

Beets

Just looking at you make me smile. Jewels, you are.

Oh, god, I talk to vegetables. Secret’s out!

Well, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll go back to being sane.

Enamored is an understatement as to how I feel about beets. I wanted to do something more than roasting and boiling them for salads. When I got more beets, I had PIE in my mind, thanks to the  apple pie and pumpkin pie I had in rotation in the kitchen, so pie it is.

For the crust, I wasn’t feeling the flaky dough crust, so I decided on a graham cracker crust. Well, well, guess who ran out of graham crackers (or crumbs)? Haha. I still had whole hazelnuts, so I ground them into powder consistency and added wheat germ and butter.

Ground hazelnuts

The ground-nut crust was borne out of last month’s almond-grinding for the macarons. Since then, I’ve ground more almonds and hazelnuts for crusts that have earned raves among family members.

hazelnut crust

The hazelnut and wheat germ crust went perfectly well with the beets.

Creamy Sweet Beet Pie with Hazelnut Crust

It could have been a planet’s unattractive red surface at first glance, and I wasn’t quite confident of the outcome that I was ready to toss it if it didn’t turn out good. However, my doubts melted after I took my first bite. I was in awe of how good everything melded together. It’s an odd marriage of ingredients, spices and textures, for sure, which really made for an interesting dessert.

Creamy Sweet Beet Pie with Hazelnut Crust

I wasn’t the only one taken by it, judging by how fast it disappeared from the pie plate, down to the very last crumb. And I mean…the very last.

If you haven’t had beets as a dessert, then here’s your chance! Yummy, yummy, yummy. Dare I say it’s even healthy?! I think so. :-)

Creamy Sweet Beet Pie with Hazelnut Crust and Yogurt Syrup Download the PDF Recipe for Creamy Sweet Beet Pie with Hazelnut Crust and Yogurt Syrup

Ingredients:

Filling

  • 500 grams fresh whole beets (approx 3-4″-diameter beets), peeled and cut into ½” cubes
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons whole wheat flour
  • 7 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Crust

  • 3.5 oz shelled hazelnuts, ground to powder consistency in a food processor
  • 2 oz wheat germ
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

Syrup

  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar

Equipment

  • food processor (for grinding hazelnuts)
  • 2 small mixing bowls
  • 9″ glass pie plate
  • 1 baking sheet
  • parchment paper
  • 1 medium mixing bowl
  • 1 large mixing bowl
  • aluminum foil


Preparation

For the Crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F with the rack in the lower middle position.
  2. Mix ground hazelnuts, wheat germ, brown sugar and melted butter in a small bowl to create a gritty paste.
  3. Transfer onto the pie plate. Press and level against the bottom and sides of the plate with a spatula. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool on a trivet.
    Keep the oven on.

    For the Filling:

  4. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour and spread cubed beets on the parchment paper. Bake for 10 minutes. After removing, place the oven rack in the upper middle position.
  5. Put baked beets in a medium bowl and toss with lemon juice.
  6. Mix flour, brown sugar, ground cinnamon, and ground nutmeg using a spatula in a large bowl. Pour beets into the mixture and toss to coat.
  7. Beat eggs with heavy cream in the medium bowl from #5 with a fork. Pour over the beet and flour mixture, and stir together with a spatula until there are no dry spots left. Assembling the Pie:
  8. Transfer the beet mixture into the pie plate with crust. Level with a spatula. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
  9. Remove pie from the oven. Increase the temperature to 400°F and place the rack in the lower middle portion of the oven. Cover the pie plate with foil and return to the oven. Bake for another 10 minutes.
  10. Cool the pie (still covered with foil) on the trivet for 30 minutes, then uncover and cool for 30 minutes more.

    Making the Syrup:

  11. Beat the icing sugar and yogurt together until smooth.
  12. Slice beet pie and serve with yogurt syrup. Instead of the yogurt syrup, you can also top with vanilla ice cream or crème fraiche.

Notes

Beet preparation: The original recipe calls for cubed fresh beets that are pre-baked to cook and dry a little to make them chewy. You can also  shave or grate the beets if you have trouble chewing or if you don’t like them chewy; and you may then skip Step #4.

Serving suggestions: You can top the pie with vanilla ice cream or crème fraiche, instead of yogurt syrup. Best served warm. Re-heat in microwave for 10 seconds before serving.

Hazelnut Crust: Very versatile and I urge you to use it with other fruits (or veggies!).

Posted in baking, coffee buddy, dessert, experiments, healthier choices, original Gourmeted recipe, vegetables18 Comments

Pork Cutlets with Rutabagas & Green Peppers in Coconut Milk

In the course of my adventurous summer with food, when I tried ingredients I’ve never eaten or cooked before, I picked up a rutabaga. Also called swede, yellow turnip, or wax turnip, it is part smooth, part rough/hairy/bumpy, hard and so foreign to me. I laughed when I got home because I absolutely had no idea what it tasted like. I just assumed it can be boiled. Peeling it revealed what looks like a raw sweet yellow potato flesh. Trying to cut into it tested my patience. Be very careful when slicing it raw. Save your hands and fingers. They are tough little buggers that could roll off your cutting board and kitchen counter if you don’t hang on to them.

Ever since I got it, I can only think of cooking it with coconut milk.  No idea why, it just sounded delicious at the time. Then someone from Twitter asked me if I use turmeric in my cooking, and I replied ‘No’, so the next day I decided to remedy that and added the ginger-family spice. It made the rutabaga in this recipe even yellower. In Medieval Europe, turmeric was known as “Indian Saffron” due to its wide use as an alternative to the pricier saffron, and it is a significant ingredient in commercial curry powders, thus the resulting taste and color of a curry dish:

Pork Cutlets with Rutabagas & Green Peppers in Coconut Milk

It was just the right blend of subtle flavors, without overpowering the rutabagas. Biting into each chunk of rutabaga feels like biting into a vegetable that is a cross between a turnip and squash, without the latter’s mushiness but a hint of its taste. I love that it holds its shape without easily disintegrating when cooked. The peppers were a nice complement to the rutabaga and coconut milk, and the turmeric added just enough character to the taste of the dish. Having this for dinner one quiet, dreary evening brought a smile to my face. I just love it when my food experimentation works out. Mmmmm….

Pork Cutlets with Rutabagas & Green Peppers in Coconut Milk

Ingredients (serves two)Download the print-ready PDF recipe

  • 1/2 lb tenderized pork loin cutlets
  • 1 rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1- to 1.5-inch chunks
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/8 tsp ground turmeric
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • canola oil
  • coconut oil

Preparation

1.    In boiling water with a pinch of salt, cook the chunks of rutabaga until tender; about 25 to 30 minutes in medium heat. Strain and set aside.

2.    Heat a large frying pan, with about 1/2-tablespoon canola oil, in medium-to-high heat. Once the oil is hot, cook each side of the pork cutlet till golden brown (not burnt), about 3 to 4 minutes each side.

3.    Lower the heat to medium and add 1/2-teaspoon coconut oil. Saute the onion slices for a few minutes until they become transparent, and then add the chopped garlic and bell pepper slices. Cook for a couple more minutes before adding the rutabaga chunks. Fry until the edges of the rutabaga begin to brown.

4.    Pour coconut milk, turmeric, and a pinch of salt. Stir and wait for it to boil before adding more salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.

Serve over the pork cutlets and enjoy with steamed rice.

Posted in Asian dish, experiments, healthier choices, main dishes, original Gourmeted recipe, pork, vegetables16 Comments

Brown Butter Caramel with Maple Syrup Fro-Yo

I thought this post would never published, or if it would it would just be the photo with a sorry note attached to it.  For a couple of days I could not find (or remember) where I wrote the recipe for this magnificent (ok, I’m completely biased) frozen yogurt my brain spit out (glamorously said…). I made this two nights before the party when I began the flurry of cooking, and I put everything away during the clean up. Oops. That’s why it’s always a good idea to create a draft in WordPress of the recipe right after making something in the kitchen. I’ve lost many recipes  just because I didn’t write them down immediately or worse, lost them. Does that happen to you?

I made two flavors of frozen yogurt for my birthday: the raspberry one for something light and summer-y, and this for something sweet and creamy. It was interesting to see how our guests reacted to them. Some found the raspberry too tart for their taste, others find it welcoming on that hot summer evening. I also found out that one friend has an aversion to maple syrup because of a cleanse we both did. Go head, name that cleanse!

I love feeding a lot of people and hearing their feedback in one evening. The truth is–but I hope this won’t tarnish my “street cred” (haha!)–I don’t think my family or close set of friends have ever used any of the my recipes. Not a lot of them cook, and some just zone out when I start to talk about how to cook something. So really, cooking for friends and family is the best, if not only, way I will get to hear what they think about the dishes I make. Sadly. Thank god really, for my “online support group” called Twitter and this blog. Then again, I’m thankful for this spice of life! It wouldn’t be an adventure if you can find everything you need in one store, right? ;-) Always the positive thinker….and my glass is always half full–of something good:

Brown Butter Caramel with Maple Syrup Frozen Yogurt

Oh, yeah. A soft and smooth–no, SILKY–frozen yogurt that tastes and smells like caramel popcorn. Hello lovah! It goes really well with OR in coffee, between two pieces of Oreos, with rooibos tea, with hot chocolate or chocolate syrup, but I haven’t tried it with caramel popcorn. Hah.

People started calling it the Butterscotch ice cream at the party, and then later asked what exactly is in the butterscotch. Or if I put scotch in it. And caramel, too? Oh god, such a fun night of friends and family coming together to eat and laugh…

On a food geeky note: What is the difference between butterscotch and caramel? I wanted to know after being stumped at and after the party. According to whatscookingamerica.net, the difference is in the sugar used:

The flavor of butterscotch is a blend of butter and brown sugar.

Caramel is a mixture produced when granulated sugar has been cooked (caramelized) until it melts and becomes a thick, clear liquid that can range in color from golden to deep brown. A soft caramel is a candy made with a caramelized sugar, butter, and milk.

Basically the difference is the type of sugar used.

According to baking911.com, the difference is in the cooking temperatures:

Q: What’s the difference between caramel and butterscotch ?

A: Caramel is produced when sugar has been cooked (caramelized) until it melts and becomes a thick, clear liquid that can range in color from golden to deep brown (from 320° to 356°F on a candy thermometer).

The flavor of butterscotch is a blend of butter and brown sugar. It is popular for cookies, ice-cream toppings, frostings and candies. (Soft Crack Stage 270 to 288 degrees F)

Now, if you really want to complicate things (ah, research), here are the differences between caramels, butterscotch AND toffee from thenibble.com:

* Butterscotch and toffee are made by combining sugar, butter and water.
* Classic English toffee has no other ingredients than those—no vanilla, no chocolate, no nuts.
Toffee, made in a slab and broken up. Commercial toffee is made in a mold.
* Butter toffee is a redundant term: Toffee is made with butter, except in situations where mass marketers substitute cheaper fats.
* Butterscotch and American-style toffee, as opposed to English toffee, can add vanilla and other flavorings. Butterscotch is then boiled to the soft-crack stage (270°F to 290°F on a candy thermometer), toffee to a hard-crack (295°F to 310°F).
* Caramels add milk or cream (and sometimes, flavors) and are cooked at a lower heat, to the firm-ball stage (248°F). Both of these factors make them softer and chewier.
* If it’s soft, it’s caramel. There are numerous candies on the market called “toffee” that are actually caramel. More than a few caramel apples are erroneously called “toffee apples.” Feel free to point out to the vendor that if, in fact, there were toffee on the apples, you wouldn’t be able to bite into them.

Why did I even start to look these up? After talking to people, I wasn’t sure what to call this baby. Is Brown Butter Caramel correct? I’d hate to call it Brown Butter Butterscotch (tongue twister!). Why do I even insist on using “brown butter”? The brown butter makes this fro-yo The Fro-Yo. I eventually stuck with the first name that came to mind while I was making it, because it reminds me of caramel popcorn, with lots of brown butter. It tastes AND smells delicious! Yummy!

Finally, recipe time!

Brown Butter Caramel with Maple Syrup Frozen Yogurt

Ingredients:Download print-ready PDF file

  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup milk (cold)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup (cold)
  • 500 grams of Fage 2% greek yogurt (it’s the big/tub container) (cold)
  • pinch of salt

Preparation:

1. In a small saucepan, cook butter in medium heat until it’s fully melted, the solids turn golden brown and the scent you can smell from it is not milky-buttery, but nutty — then you have brown butter. Immediately add the brown sugar and a pinch of salt, and wait for it to boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set it aside on a trivet to cool, about 20 minutes.

2. In a blender (I used a Magic Bullet because of the small volume), blend the brown butter mixture with milk, until the sugar is fully dissolved and you get a homogeneous mixture. You will notice at the beginning that the sugar settled down at the bottom of your saucepan. You don’t want to taste solid sugar crystals in your frozen yogurt, so blending might take a few minutes to dissolve the sugar but it will be worth it. Cool it in the fridge or freezer afterward, depending on how patient you are, and just before mixing in the next step, pulse it.

3. In a large bowl, blend all the butter and milk mixture, yogurt, and maple syrup with a beater until well-combined. Transfer the mixture your ice cream maker according to its instructions and churn for 20-30 minutes, until thick. Mine thickened quite a bit faster than my fruit frozen yogurt, so just keep an eye on it.

4. As always, I recommend letting it rest for 24 hours before serving. However, you can always lick the ice cream maker, paddle, and spatula clean! ;-)

Posted in coffee buddy, dessert, experiments, food g33kery, frozen treats, original Gourmeted recipe, snacks16 Comments

Verrry Raspberry Fro-Yo

It took me a week to fully recover from my home-cooked birthday party and the blogathon, but it was well worth it. A huge thanks for my family and friends who came to celebrate with my mom and I for our July birthdays, and for those who sponsored me for Blogathon 2009 for the benefit of the Greater Vancouver Food Bank. The party actually looked like a Facebook meetup, really, with my different groups of friends finally meeting each other after sort-of knowing each other on my Facebook wall and photos. Funny how this social networking goes. We had a fun party and I’m so glad that everybody was enjoying themselves and the food. That’s all that matters to me.

This Verrry Raspberry Frozen Yogurt was one of the desserts I made and served at the party. It’s so absolutely refreshing! Try it with (sweet) fresh blueberries…Oh my! Cold heaven in a mouthful. If you like a little bit of tartness with fruit, here’s your wish! It’s just a tad tart because of the yogurt complementing the yogurt’s tartness. A lot of our guest liked this over the sweeter and creamier flavor I made.

Verrry Raspberry Fro-Yo

And I know why: This is the Perfect “cure” for the heat wave!

If you’re in the Pacific Northwest like I am, you know how excruciatingly hot and painful to bear this week has been, especially if you don’t have A/C. So come on take out your ice cream maker if you haven’t already, and make this! Put yourself out of misery now.

This is easy to prepare for your ice cream/frozen yogurt maker:

Verrry Raspberry Frozen Yogurt

IngredientsDownload the print-ready PDF recipe

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3//4 cup water
  • 350 grams fresh raspberries
  • 500 grams 2% Fage Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup cold milk

Preparation

1. Make a simple syrup by boiling water and sugar in a medium sized saucepan until all the sugar crystals are dissolved; no need to stir.

2. Add the raspberries and cook in medium heat until it starts to boil, then decrease to low-med heat. Stir with a heat resistant spatula, and occasionally pressing the berries against the bottom of the saucepan. You can mash it as fine or as chunky as you like. Cook until the mixture becomes thick, but not as thick as jam. Set aside to cool on a trivet first, then in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

3. In a medium sized bowl, pour all the (cold) ingredients and mix with a spatula first to avoid splattering, then with a hand mixer until well blended. You can add more fresh raspberries at this point if you like. Pour into prepared ice cream maker and mix until thick, about 30-35 minutes. You will notice that this does not thicken as fast as your usual creamy ice cream or frozen yogurt, but don’t worry.

Best if frozen at least 48 hours before consuming, but I won’t tell if you eat it right away!

Posted in dairy, dessert, frozen treats, fruits, healthier choices, original Gourmeted recipe13 Comments

Basa Fillets Baked in Garlic and Butter

Blogathon 2009Hello Friends! I’m doing this year’s Blogathon on July 25 and blog every 30 minutes for 24 hours to raise money for the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society. If you are able, please sponsor me and make a donation pledge.

Butter. I love it and there’s no denying it. When I was really, really young, vegetables (snow peas, carrots, green beans and corn) cooked in butter and served with a sprinkle of salt blew my mind. These days I enjoy adding butter to meat and fish. It makes everything much better, just like bacon. I think they’re siblings.

Here, instead of frying basa fish, I baked it in butter:

Baked Basa Fish Fillet

Oh, and it was so good with the coconut rice!

Baked Basa Fillets in Garlic and ButterDownload the PDF recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 fillet slabs of basa fish (mine was 1.4 lb in total), or any white fish of your preference
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 2 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1/2 a lemon, cut in 1/2
  • a handful of cilantro, roughly chopped, for garnish

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

2. In a baking dish, mix the butter, garlic, salt and pepper. Place the fish fillets into the mixture, and then turn them so both sides are coated. Cover the dish with aluminum foil.

3. Bake for 10 minutes, then take out of the oven and turn off the heat. Squeeze the lemon, a quarter lemon for each fillet. Sprinkle with cilantro and cover again with aluminum foil. Place back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes, until the meat becomes flaky and the thinner edges begin to have some color. You will notice that you might end up with a lot of juice in the pan. That’s fine. You can either toss it, or spoon a little over the fillets to be served.

4. Slice and serve with rice.

To make coconut rice, use this proportion: For every cup of uncooked white rice, use 1/4 cup coconut milk (canned is perfectly fine) and 3/4 cups water.

Posted in baking, main dishes, original Gourmeted recipe, quick & easy, seafood40 Comments

Banana Walnut Bread

Could we have one too many Banana Bread recipes? Clearly, Laura, who has an entire website/blog dedicated to banana bread would agree with me when I say: NO.

What is it with banana bread that we have hordes of recipes for it? Are all our kitchens swelling with overripe bananas? (Mine is.) Are we predominantly banana eaters? (Or just meaning to eat banana and forgetting about them till they start to get mushy?) Whichever the case for all of you out there, I can pretty much speak for my family and friends that banana bread will always be accepted with wide open hands and mouths.

I know, I know…banana bread is so versatile that it can be adjusted for and with just about anything. Here at Gourmeted, we’ve already given you one that has almond butter and save-till-last cinnamon crumble top and another that is moist, dense and an undeniable indulgence thanks to the butter and cream. This time, I offer you a nice compromise between the two, and then some (nuts).

What’s different with this banana bread? It has vanilla yogurt, most number of bananas among the 3 recipes, and chopped walnuts. It is moist without being too dense, which is an issue for some. There is a good balance of nuts to bread (i.e. not too much) to give it an all around pleasurable bite after bite after bite.  So far, this has all the elements I want in a banana bread. I think I just found my new go-to banana bread recipe!

Banana Walnut Bread

I made it into 3 little loaves that’s the perfect size to give out. I kept one for myself, gave one to my parents and another to my friend and her fiance. If you want some, you’ll have to make it. I’ve none left to share. Haha. Time to get more bananas because I already used up my frozen ones.

Freezing bananas: If you have any overripe bananas and not quite ready to make something out of it, don’t throw it away. Heavens, no. Peel the bananas and place them in ziploc bags before popping in the freezer. Just defrost in the fridge before using, or simply defrost in the microwave for a few seconds.

BANANA WALNUT BREADDownload the PDF recipe

Ingredients (makes 3 small loaves)

•    2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
•    4 very ripe bananas, mashed well (about 2 cups mashed)
•    3/4 cup sugar
•    3/4 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
•    1/3 cup vanilla yogurt
•    2 large eggs, lightly beaten
•    6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
•    1 tsp vanilla extract
•    1/2 tsp salt
•    3/4 tsp baking soda

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line each small loaf pan with parchment paper, one strip lengthwise and another crosswise. If you use one big loaf pan, adjust the baking time accordingly.

2. In a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients together and set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, mix the mashed bananas, yogurt, eggs, butter, and vanilla extract.

4. Fold the banana mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients until just combined. The resulting batter would be thick. Pour into the parchment lined loaf pans.

5. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes if using small loaf pans, and begin to monitor doneness at 40 minutes. For larger pans, time may vary from 50 to 60 minutes. It’s done when the top is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle.

6. Place the pans on a wire rack and let it cool for 10 minutes before sliding the bread out of the pan. Serve immediately or wait to cool before enjoying.

Posted in baking, bread, original Gourmeted recipe18 Comments

4th of July Munchies

I rarely make lists as posts, so consider this a treat.I didn’t even make one for Canada Day! Shame shame. Anyway, if you’re still looking for ideas for the weekend, here are some easy peasy suggestions, ye American neighbors.

Here are recipes for dessert (or snack) that require a little more work, but you will get a lot of love from the people who will enjoy it:

Or if you want to bake something that’s easy and still be good, try these Eggless Chocolate Cupcakes or Honey-Cheese Corn Muffins.

Yes, it’s true, when you come to my party you won’t see the usual fares. :p

Happy Independence Day weekend, friends!

Posted in appetizer, chocolate, dessert, dips and sauces, events, frozen treats, fruits, healthier choices, original Gourmeted recipe, poultry, quick & easy, salads, sweets0 Comments

Oven Roasted Potatoes with Beets in Garlic-Lemon-Thyme Dressing

Sorry about that long title, but serves its purpose of telling you exactly what you get. :-)

As I said earlier, I am participating in this summer week’s “Eating Down the Fridge” over at Kim O’Donnel’s A Mighty Appetite. I have to admit that this is indeed a “challenge” for me. When I am cooking for one or two, it’s very easy to slide into that It’s-Easier-To-Eat-Out Zone, especially when the weather is just plain seductive and it feels criminal to stay home.

If you only have a few weeks of semi-uninterrupted sunshine (as I type this, it is raining…welcome to our world), you enjoy every bit of it.

Kitsilano Beach

See what I mean?

Cardero's

We do our best to appreciate the glorious summer days of Vancouver. :-)

And then I find myself with a well-stocked fridge and pantry at the end of the week, except that 50% of the fresh food will probably go bad soon. Does that sound familiar?

I go back and forth this same old story. I’ve already confided on this blog that I still have this Waste-Not attitude with food because of the way I was raised. It’s really just common sense and practicality: simply eat what you buy.

I’m already seeing the benefits of Eating Down the Fridge:

1. I make an effort to eat breakfast these days. Usually, I’ll just skip it, which I know is bad, but I couldn’t help it. Now, I try harder. I want to finish the loaf of whole wheat bread instead of offering it up to the mold gods. And I pay more attention to the gala apples I bought that I meant to eat for breakfast or as snacks.

2. I am starting to remember stuff I froze that I still need to use. For example, the fresh-now-frozen thyme that went into this simple salad. I still have frozen peeled bananas that could easily go into banana bread or muffins.

3. The ‘limit’ of not going out to shop for more food, is stirring up my creative juices. What can I do with what I have? I still have a box of strawberries, a lonely floppy stalk of rhubarb and lots of gala apples. I can smell something in the oven already. :-) Have I told you I haven’t made any dessert out of rhubarb?! Never. So here’s my chance to prove to Amy that I am from this planet (she jokingly asked from which planet I was when she learned of this…haha), just that I’m discovering food that are common to most of you, but so new to me!

4. I resist the compulsion to buy more and more food. It’s like with clothes, you keep buying them because one day you think you have nothing to wear. You just have to look into your closet (in our case, pantry/fridge) to see that you have a lot!

5. I am more thoughtful of food. Sometimes life gets really too busy that the kitchen is acts like a pit stop where you grab something you can instantly eat and leave empty-handed and go to the store if there’s none. I think about food, what to prepare so I wouldn’t go hungry in the middle of the day (I work from home) and commune with food. Food is something to enjoy sitting down on the table, with friends and family.

6. That said, I feel like a child finding ingredients in the kitchen that I didn’t know I had. Two jars of baking powder anyone? I see things in doubles and not because of my eyesight. Time to do some inventory around here.

7. At the end of the week, I will have an almost-empty fridge that’s much easier to clean. A clean fridge to work with! I love it already.

During the day, I eat toasted bread with sunflower butter or butter. The other night I just cooked the flank steak with salt and pepper and a wine-soy gravy (still debating if I should post the bad photos…haha). I also had plain red-leaf lettuce salad with garlic dressing (that my brother calls my “Shawarma sauce” when he tasted it during our family dinner a few weekends ago). I’m proud to announce that I also saved that tub of organic vanilla yogurt before it expires in a week, and started eating it. I always get hungry and I didn’t realize I had all this food enough to satiate my every-3-hours hunger.

Last night, I made this simple salad of roasted Yukon Gold potatoes, boiled beets and a homemade garlic-lemon-thyme dressing made with those ingredients glended with olive and coconut oil and just salt and pepper. I love food that is easy to prepare and yet captivates you with comforting flavors and textures — homey, not complex.

Oven Roasted Potatoes with Beets in Garlic-Lemon-Thyme Dressing

A  little something about Yukon Gold Potatoes:

These are yellow-fleshed potatoes, compared to the whitish ones. Yukon Gold is a crossbreed between the North American white potato and a wild South American yellow-fleshed variety and was registered in Canada in 1980. They are good for boiling, baking, french-frying, but unsuitable for chipping. It has medium starch content and disintegrates when overcooked. Excellent for storage and holds well for long without sprouting (bonus for me).

I love their thin, smooth skin and buttery flavor. I overcooked some of the smaller pieces and the flesh separated from the prime real estate of a skin (read: roasted Yukon Gold potato skin is like flavor bling to my taste buds), into a soft, pillow-y mulch. It didn’t bother me at all because it was a nice kind of mush, and you’ll forget about it once you taste it. I should remember to buy more of these, seeing that it stores well and my sprouting russet family in a bag is testament to why I shouldn’t rely on them all the time.

Once I baked it, I tossed the thyme sprigs and the dressing while they were hot. Mmm. Once it cooled, I put some in a bowl with beet chunks and some greens and enjoyed it with a glass of chardonnay. What a great way to spend the rainy evening.

Oven-Roasted Yukon Gold Potatoes and Beets with Garlic-Lemon-Thyme DressingDownload the print-ready PDF recipe

Ingredients (serves 2 to 3)

•    8 Yukon Gold potatoes, cut in quarters (or more if they are big). Try to cut them about the same size.
•    2 whole medium beets, boiled and cut into chunks the same size as the potatoes (you can boil it at the same time you are oven-roasting the potatoes)
•    1 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
•    1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
•    1 tbsp olive oil
•    3/4 tsp sea salt, divided
•    1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper, divided
•    1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
•    4 large cloves (or 6 medium) of garlic
•    8-10 sprigs of thyme
•    Optional: fresh greens

Preparation

1.    Pre-heat the oven to 400°F. In an oven safe glass baking dish, mix together potatoes, olive oil, 1/4 tsp ground pepper and 1/4 tsp sea salt making sure all the surfaces of the potatoes are coated with oil. Add more oil if needed. Carefully position potatoes with the flesh down, not the skin. The skin is too precious to have to stick to the pan.

2.    Place in the oven for 15 minutes then turn the potatoes and bake for another 10-15 minutes until the corners and skin of the potatoes. Total baking time depends on the sizes of your cut potatoes.

3.    In your small food processor (or magic bullet), blend together extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp ground pepper, garlic cloves, and 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice. Add more salt and pepper to suit your taste I personally just add more pepper, because I like the flavor of the garlic and lemon to take center stage). Pulse until the dressing is smooth and uniform. Set aside.

4.    As soon as you take the dish out of the oven, toss in the thyme sprigs and dressing with the potatoes in the dish. Let it cool down before serving with the beets and greens.

Posted in dessert, dining, healthier choices, original Gourmeted recipe, quick & easy, salads, vegetables11 Comments

Fry-Baked Tilapia

I forgot to mention that this is part of my efforts to “Eat Down The Fridge“, which simply means that I try to finish the food that I already have in the fridge and pantry before moving on to buying more. You know how we sometimes just accumulate food? Well, that’s the point of this experiment with Kim O’Donnel of The Washington Post’s A Mighty Appetite.

As a child, my absolute favorite food aside from fried chicken, was fried tilapia. I sure loved my fried stuff. When I didn’t know what to eat or our maids didn’t know what to feed me, they’d cook this because it’s sure to make me eat a lot. See, when I was younger than ten years old, I was so skinny and underweight. It wasn’t that I didn’t eat. I just need to eat more.

Everyone had their own theory as to why I was not gaining weight. My favorite and most remembered was my grandmother’s (mom’s mom) hypothesis that all the nutrients were going to my then very long hair. Ha ha.

Honestly, if I was served fried chicken and fried tilapia, I would just continue to eat until I was fat. Unfortunately (well fortunately!) I didn’t really gain weight until I was in college and that’s the time you don’t really want to gain any weight. Hahaha. I still continue to eat and enjoy tilapia, though.

Similar to the fry-baked chicken, I cooked this with the same methods but with different flavors. I went for something very (cliche?) Asian: ginger and green onions.

Fry-Bake Tilapia

Somebody told me that people don’t like looking at fish heads at the market and/or when cooking or eating. Uhm, do some people really think that the fish they eat are headless?

Ginger Tilapia

The tilapia was so darn good! Trust me, I’m a tilapia connoisseur from many years of first hand taste tests. ;-)

Fry-Bake TilapiaDownload the print-ready PDF file

Ingredients
•    1 med-large tilapia
•    1 onion (halved, sliced)
•    3 stalks of green onion
•    3 thin slices of ginger
•    1/2 cup chicken broth
•    1/2 cup dry white wine
•    1/2 tsp salt
•    3 cloves of garlic, mashed
•    olive oil

Preparation
1.    In med-high heat, heat olive oil and wait for it to ‘ripple’ in a frying pan. Fry the  fish about 2-3 minutes each side until golden brown. Here’s the cooking test I use as a guide: It’s good to flip once the skin doesn’t stick to the frying pan anymore.
2.    Transfer the fish into a rectangular glass baking dish. Preheat oven to 375°F.
3.    In the same pan, saute the sliced onions until they become dark brown on the edges, then add on top of the fish.
4.    Still using the same pan, pour the wine and allow to boil until it’s reduced to half. Add ginger slices and chicken broth cook for a couple of minutes. Turn off the heat and transfer everything in the pan to the tilapia in the baking dish. Put fresh ground pepper on top of fish. Cover the glass dish with aluminum foil with 2 edges opposite each other is open (i.e. there is a vent).
5.    Place in the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove foil, put green oonion, and cover again for 5 minutes before transfering on serving plate.

Posted in Asian dish, baking, dessert, experiments, fried, healthier choices, original Gourmeted recipe, reviews, seafood8 Comments

Beef Rhubarb Potstickers

Could it be that my brain is now part-rhubarb? I wouldn’t doubt it really. I have to admit that although I’ve made many dishes with rhubarb by now, they are all savory. I can’t help it if that sour stalk is so good.

Had I been more prepared, I really would have loved to make the filling with pork and shrimp, but I wasn’t. In fact, I was late for the Daring Cooks’ Challenge deadline last Sunday. After all the talk about it online, I built up a gargantuan craving for it, hence, this:

Potstickers

I’ve made potstickers before but failed miserably with the pleating. Now…thanks to Jen’s recipe with detailed photos, they now closely resemble the real thing! I love it! I couldn’t help but admire my handiwork. Haha.

I did follow our challenge’s dough recipe proportions and the rest are all mine. It was very, very good. If you don’t have rhubarb, just add a little more meat and 1 tbsp lemon juice.

I’ll post a more organized recipe tomorrow, including the PDF download. I just wanted to share this quickly for those of you who have been waiting for it since I posted a mobile photo. :-)

Potsticker Wrappers

Ingredients:

  • 250 g all purpose flour (I used unbleached)
  • 113 g warm water

Preparation (How I made it)

  1. In a medium bowl, place the flour and add half of the water. Stir with a spoon. Continue to add the remaining water little by little, probably by teaspoons.
  2. Continue to mix into a cohesive ball by hand. Place on your clean counter that’s been sprinkled with flour to prevent sticking, and knead for 10 minutes.
  3. Place back inside the bowl and cover with a damp cloth for 15 minutes.
  4. After 15 minutes, shape dough into a shallow dome and cut into 1 1/2-inch thick slices. Leave one slice on the counter and place the others back into the bowl and cover with the damp towel. Slice the strip into 3/4 inch pieces and shape and flatten down with your palm into small discs. Place each disk on the counter and flatten further with your rolling pin. Continue with the rest of the dough. Be careful about putting the dough on top of each other. I made the time-consuming mistake of not putting enough flour between wrappers and my hard work went back to square one of being one big dough.

Filling the wrappers

  1. Put a wrapper on the palm of your hand and drop a tablespoon of filling at the center. Fold the wrapper in half and press firmly to attach the top-center portion.
  2. From the center, start pleating the single side of the wrapper (not both) but scrunching farther side on top of the previous pleat. Continue until you almost reach the end and you get a small teardrop-shaped hole. Simply tuck in the bottom of the ‘teardrop’ into the pointed top end of the teardrop. Each dumpling will look like the semi-circular women’s purses.

Beef Rhubarb Filling

  • 200 g ground beef (or other meat/s of your choice)
  • 1/3 cup yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup rhubarb, chopped
  • 1/3 cup button mushrooms, chopped (sauted in med heat for 2 mins to let the juices out
  • 1/3 cup celery, chopped
  • 1/3 cup carrot, chopped
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 4 stalks of green onion, chopped

Preparation

In a small saucepan, saute onion, rhubarb and celery for 3 minutes in medium-high heat. Set aside and let it cool before mixing with all the other ingredients.

Pan-Frying

On a frying pan with vegetable oil in high heat, cook the dumplings until the bottoms are golden brown in color. Add 1/2 cup water and cover. Let it cook until the water is almost gone. Remove the lid and let it cook for another 2 minutes.

Optional Dip: You can mix soy sauce, white vinegar with a smashed garlic. Very simple.

Posted in appetizer, Asian dish, beef, Daring Cooks, main dishes, original Gourmeted recipe, vegetables24 Comments