Saturday, May 23, 2009

summer salad

I made some potstickers/gyoza for my friends recently, and I called my sister to see what I should serve with it. And she suggested making a simple cucumber salad with shredded poached chicken, and I thought that was genius. So I did just that, and it was a hit! So for my dear friends who were at dinner that night, here's a really vague recipe. Adjust things to your liking.

Asian Cucumber & Chicken Summer Salad
Serves 4~6
1~2 English or 3~4 Japanese cucumbers, sliced VERY thin (if you can't find English or Japanese cucumbers, use American cucumbers, but scoop out the seeds and peel the skin before slicing)
1 vidalia onion, sliced VERY thin (you can use any other onion, but remember to soak or rinse a little longer if you choose not to use a vidalia)
1~2 chicken breasts, poached, shredded and cooled
1/2 head of nappa cabbage, savoy cabbage, or even lettuce would work great (optional) (I used arugula in this photo and it was tasty, so really, almost any green would work well, I think), sliced fairly thin
1 carrot, grated (optional)
1/2 block of silken tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes (optional)
2 T toasted white sesame seeds
2 T sesame oil
2~4 T rice vinegar
juice of 1/2 lemon (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 T soy sauce
  1. In a small bowl, place the thinly sliced onion, and cover with water. Let soak for a good 15 minutes or so. If you don't have that kind of time, place in a colander and rinse under cool water for a couple of minutes. This takes down a lot of that harsh onion-ey flavor.
  2. Place all ingredients in a large bowl, and toss to combine. Adjust flavors to your liking.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

fresh ideas

The other night, I made this new spectacular invention. Super easy and light and tasty. You'll love it, I promise.

Tilapia with arugula pasta
Serves 4
4 tilapia fillets, seasoned with salt and pepper on one side
2 T olive oil
1 can petite diced tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4~1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes
finely grated pecorino romano cheese
3 C baby arugula
1 lb linguine or spaghetti
2 T extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season the water with salt and cook the pasta to al dente, about 8 minutes. Reserve some pasta water.
  2. Meanwhile, in a deep skillet with a lid, heat olive oil over medium heat and cook crushed red pepper flakes and garlic until garlic is straw colored and slightly sticky. Add diced tomatoes and simmer until slightly reduced, about 10 minutes. Place tilapia fillets--seasoned side up--in the pan and poach until barely cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the pasta with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, pecorino romano cheese, lemon juice, and baby arugula. Add a little pasta cooking liquid if it's a little sticky.
  4. Serve pasta with a tilapia fillet on the side. Spoon over a little tomato sauce and serve with some more cheese.

new plant

My tomato plant is sprouting! Ah! I'm so excited!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

my lunch

Whenever I can find good Japanese eggplant, I always buy enough for 2 great dishes. One, I just either slice them and pan fry them or roast them in the oven and then top them with freshly grated ginger root and soy sauce. Super good side dish for any Japanese meal. And the second dish is this perfect pasta. Now, for those of you who don't know the glory of the eggplant (particularly the Japanese eggplant), you need to try this. Go to your local Asian market and they'll probably have some. But if you can't find Japanese eggplant, the good ol' fat American ones will do just fine. Just peel them first or you won't be so happy. And just remember that the Japanese eggplant isn't slimey at all. It's glorious!

Eggplant and pork pasta
serves 5~6
1 lb pasta (I used multi-grain penne here, but I usually make it with spaghetti. Both are great)
1/2 lb ground pork (I like the flavor of the pork, but by all means use other ground meats. I just think pork works the best)
2~3 Japanese eggplant (or 1 American eggplant)
1 (14.5 oz) can whole tomatoes. Smash the tomatoes in a small bowl and set aside.
1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes
1 small onion, minced
2~4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with salt, and cook pasta to al dente (about 7 minutes if cooking spaghetti and about 9 minutes if cooking penne).
  2. In a deep skillet, pour in about 1~2 T olive oil over medium/medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the garlic and onion, and cook, stirring often, until onions are soft and translucent.
  3. Slice the eggplant and season with salt and pepper. In another large skillet, pour in about 2 T olive oil over medium-high heat. Place teh eggplant on the skillet and let cook until golden on the bottom side. Flip them over and cook until completely softened and golden on the other side. *make sure they cook completely or they'll be really spongey. When eggplant is cooked right, it's really smooth and buttery.
  4. Once the onion mixture is cooked through, add the ground pork and season generously with salt and pepper. Once the pork is cooked through, add the canned tomatoes, and season again with salt and pepper. Let the tomatoes simmer, stirring once in a while to prevent burning, until the sauce has thickened.
  5. Toss the pasta and eggplant with the sauce. Sprikle with cheese to serve.
Tomato and onion salad
serves ... 1? (hey, don't judge. I needed a really good filler ;))
1 small vidalia onion, super thinly sliced (I used my madolin slicer)
2~3 tomatoes sliced
1 T olive oil
1 t red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
fresh parsley, cilantro, basil, or any bright hebs would be great, also. But I didn't use any today.
  1. Put the sliced onion in a bowl and completey cover with water. Let stand at least 15 minutes, preferably 30. Drain and rinse under cold water. (this takes out the really strong onion-ey flavor, but leaves a really nice crunch!)
  2. Toss the onions, tomatoes, salt, pepper, vinegar, and olie oil in a bowl and enjoy!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

mother's day feast

For Mother's Day, my sweet husband got up early and made me a beautiful breakfast in bed. I thought Just in case any of you wanted to learn how to make some of these things, I would show you so you can treat someone to breakfast in bed, too!

Eggs en Cocotte
makes 4
4 eggs
2 t minced fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1 t freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese (optional)

4 small ramekins
1 9x13 inch baking pan
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Fill a kettle or small pot with about 2~3 C water and bring to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, crack one egg in each ramekin. Sprinkle each with a little salt and pepper, and divide the parsley and cheese (if using) evenly between each egg.
  3. Place the filled ramekins into the 9x13 inch baking pan, leaving plenty of space in between each ramekin and the sides of the baking pan. Once the water has come to a boil and the oven is preheated, place the pan in the oven, and pour the boiling water into the pan, about 1/2 up the sides of the ramekins.
  4. Bake for 15~18 minutes, depending on how you like your eggs. Remember, the eggs keep cooking once you take them out of the oven, so don't leave them in any longer, even if they look a little underdone after 18 minutes.
Greek Yogurt
Either you could buy one of these, for $5Or make it yourself with one of these for $2You'll need a fine mesh strainer, a deep bowl, and coffee filters. Place three coffee filters in the fine mesh strainer, suspended over the bowl like this:Then pour in your yogurt.Let that sit in the fridge for a few hours, and you'll be amazed at how thick and creamy it is! And it's FAT FREE! (IF you use fat free yogurt, of course) Of course, discard the water that collects in the bottom of the bowl, then you can transfer your new Greek yogurt into a container and keep it in the fridge.

Serve it with fresh fruit and honey, and you'll be so glad you did!

My recipe for Shrimp Scampi can be found here.

Garlic bread
4 T butter, softened
3~5 cloves garlic (to your liking), minced
fresh parsley, minced (optional)
1 loaf of good quality chewy dense bread such as Ciabatta
  1. Preheat the oven to 300°. Slice the bread to a desired thickness.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the garlic and butter. Butter each slice on both sides with a little of the garlic butter. Sprinkle with parsley, if using. Cover the loaf generously with foil, and place in the oven until completely warmed through. Serve warm.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

i love spring

Remember this little guy?
Well, as of today, he is THIS BIG! And smells amazing! I need to transfer it to a bigger pot and I can't wait until I can use it in a nice big caprese salad!
Don't you just love how things just grow? It's really a miracle. And an even better miracle when you can eat it!