Thursday, November 29, 2007

Chicken Parmesan

What's Cooking
Well, tonight I think I will make Chicken Parmesan. Although we had spaghetti with meat sauce and linguine last night, I am in the mood for my brother's Chicken Parmesan. Unfortunately, he probably will not email me the recipe in time so I will make do with this recipe I found on the internet. RECIPE

I will be using my own marinara sauce to which I have added the leftover jar of organic marinara sauce I had in the refrigerator. I may or may not be pounding out the chicken breasts into fillets because I am using half breasts with the ribs. I may try something new.

Tonight I will serve that over Penne pasta. Dinner isn't until much later but I have the sauce simmering because slow simmering makes for a more flavorful sauce.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Dishes Served on Thanksgiving.

arroz con gandules
For Thanksgiving, we prepared the traditional fare:

Roast Turkey with sage under the skin for extra flavor.

Fresh cranberry and orange relish

Homemade mashed potatoes

Homemade giblet gravy (my husband makes it deliciously!!!)

Green Bean Casserole

Homemade fresh pumpkin pie

Boxed stuffing made semi-homemade (I'm stealing that phrase from Sandra Lee) by sauteeing minced celery and onions in butter before adding the water.

Sauteed mushrooms

Candied yams with cinnamon stick

Stuffed mushrooms

Broccoli with garlic vinaigrette.

I thought we would have plenty of leftovers. Not so. But I did manage to have my husband keep from tossing the turkey carcass away so I could make Jook (Chinese rice soup).

Now my mom's menu was almost identical to mine with the exception of Arroz con Gandules. When she told me she had made this, wise guy that I am I retorted, "Well, that's sure an All-American dish!" But my mom explained to me that my brother's girlfriend is a vegetarian. I thought that was mighty nice of my mom to make that dish for her.

My family may not be Puerto Rican but the dish my mom selected is an important part of a Hispanic family's comfort food...rice and beans.

Which brings me to another non-traditional Thanksgiving Day recipe. My friend Sue shared the following article with me:

Thanksgiving With a Lebanese Twist

She knows her way around a Thanksgiving feast, but it might not be quite what you'd expect.
"I talked to people about their Thanksgivings, and they'd say theirs was pretty traditional," Curtin says. "And then they'd start telling me all sorts of different things they serve."

Sauerkraut in the Baltimore area, for instance.

"Where you are and where you come from shows up," she says. "There are strong immigrant roots at the table..."
RICE AND MEAT STUFFING

Serves 8 to 10
2 tablespoons canola or corn oil
1 pound ground beef or lamb
2 cups long-grain rice, rinsed and drained
3 cups chicken, beef, lamb broth or water
1-2 teaspoons salt (to taste)
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ cup coarsely chopped canned chestnuts
¼ cup blanched, peeled almonds
¼ cup pine nuts
¼ cup shelled pistachios
¼ cup golden raisins

Place 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the ground meat and cook, stirring often until the meat is brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in rice, broth, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, cinnamon, cumin and nutmeg. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring every 10 minutes. Continue to cook rice, covered, until water is absorbed and rice is tender, about 25 to 30 minutes. During the cooking, add ¼ cup water or more as needed if all water is absorbed before rice is done. Add more salt if necessary.

Place remaining tablespoon of oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Stir in chestnuts. Then stir in the almonds, pine nuts, and pistachios. Cook and stir for several minutes, until nuts are lightly browned. Stir in raisins and remove from heat. Serve on its own platter, sprinkled with the browned nuts.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Fresh Pumpkin Pie

pumpkin pie
Today, I decided to take a giant leap and make my first pumpkin pie from scratch.

The other day I finally got around to cutting up the two pumpkins we got at the pumpkin patch right before Halloween. The first pumpkin, I cut up with my large Chinese cleaver on a cutting board, on the floor. It took me an hour to cut it up. Then I boiled the chunks in water until soft. Unfortunately, I didn't know until today that boiling it makes the pumpkin absorb too much water and can't be used for pies.

I started to cut up the second pumpkin in the same way. However, the thought of spending one hour doing so, just made me stop. My best friend told me another method someone had shared with her. Putting the pumpkin the the oven until it was soft and then scraping up the flesh. Well, that way was much easier. However, it took a while to puree it in the food processor. But the finished product didn't have excess water.

I used the second batch for the pumpkin pie.

Mrs. Sigg's Fresh Pumpkin Pie Recipe.

I made more of the filling than the pie crust could hold. With the extra, I poured them into individual Pyrex cups and baked it along with the pie. My husband loved it! He made sure to put a large dollop of whipped cream on it. The edges that browned reminded him of a pumpkin pie cream brulee he said.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Marinated Cornish Game Hens

I bought two packages or 4 game hens on sale the other day. Usually, I don't like to make these little chicken-tasting birds because I find them to be a bit boring. However, today, I thought I would jazz them up a bit with the following marinate:

Recipe:

1 whole head of garlic (peeled)
Juice of two large limes
Fresh sage and oregano
Salt and pepper to taste (I used tbsp of salt)
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil

Using the food processor blend until well blended.

Cornish Game Hens:

4 game hens (split down the middle)

Place in a large bowl or baking dish. Pour the marinate over all pieces, making sure to coat evenly. Cover and let sit in refrigerator for at least 3 or 4 hours.

Preheat oven at 350 degrees until very hot. Place hens on a roasting or baking pan.

Place in hot oven and turn over when that side is evenly browned. When both sides are browned. Turn off oven. Approximately 45 to 1 hour.

Serve with sauteed mushrooms, steamed white rice and tossed salad.

A Treat For Breakfast - Dim Sum

dim sum Photo source: Honolulu Advertiser

We had promised our son we could go for Dim Sum today.

Dim Sum means a little bit of the heart. They are little delectables that come to the diner via a cart rolled around by waitresses. It is a typical Hong Kong breakfast.

My DH and DS were satisfied going to a cheaper dim sum restaurant in Chinatown. However, the last time I ordered there, I was not happy with the way they treated us. So, although the food was good and about $15.00 cheaper than the place we went today, we chose to go to Seafood Legends Restaurant

It is a well lit restaurant; having a huge crystal chandelier in the center of the main dining room. We got there right after Mass so it wasn't too crowded that early in the morning.

We ordered the usual: shrimp half moons; seafood and cilantro dumplings, pork shumai, and of course shrimp look fun. I don't know the secret to the sauce but the look fun really makes the dish special. The other items were dipped in red chili paste and soy sauce. Our DS dipped his in his Jasmine tea.

I also wanted to order the rice congee but it was still cooking.

Since our DS was very hungry, we ordered more than the usual but he left the restaurant quite satisfied.

I highly recommend this restaurant's dim sum. We are making plans on going there to dinner one night too.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Paella - Two Recipes

paellaPicture source: Here

When I was younger, and I'm talking late teens or early 20's, I tried to make this dish. Considered to be the signature dish of Spain, Paella is truly for the more experienced cooks to attempt or so I thought at the time. Unfortunately, that early attempt turned out to be quite inedible. The proportions of rice and liquid was way off, leaving the dish with uncooked rice and overcooked seafood.

Years later, I again attempted to make Paella. After all, who could resist a tantalizing dish of richly seasoned rice, meats and a seafood variety. I don't recall what I used to make the Paella in but it was not a Paella pan. That attempt worked out quite nicely.

The following are two recipes for Paella. One is considered easy and the other is more like the traditional recipe.

Easy Paella

The Ultimate Paella

Neither recipe has been tried by me but I think that very soon, I will try the second recipe.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

New Site Added to the Side Bar

While I was cooking dinner, I found a cooking show on PBS. It was America's Test Kitchen.

On today's show, they prepared a cracked peppercorn filet mignon and potatoes with onions. Unfortunately, I did not catch the name of the potato dish.

Check back on that site as they will most likely be posting the recipes soon. In fact, just take a look at their extensive list of recipes!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Two Knives I Couldn't Do Without

chinese cleaver
japanese chef's knife
When cooking, I rely heavily on my Japanese chef's knife which is over 14 years old and my Chinese cleaver which is a year or two younger. Both are stainless steel. Both are very reliable. When I need them sharp, I bring them together in a blade to blade sliding motion. This method works extremely well for me. So well in fact, that I forgot about obtaining the whetstone I had longed for many years ago.

My good friend who is not in the least a fan of cooking, has Henckel knife set. These are expensive knives. Impressive yes, but also very pricey.

My knives were not as expensive. In fact, the Japanese one costs under $20.00 when we first purchased it. It probably runs around the same today. The Chinese one was bought in Chinatown for less than $10.00.

Would I be happy if someone were to give me the Henckel set? Sure, who wouldn't. But I am very happy with my two old knives.

Make Do Beef Stroganoff

There were two sirloin steaks in the freezer; leftovers from the family pack purchased last week. I bought the mushrooms and egg noodles. So it looked like beef Stroganoff for dinner tonight. Unfortunately, as I started preparation for dinner, I realized I had completely forgotten about the sour cream. Usually, I have at least 1/4 cup in the refrigerator. But today, no such luck. We will have to make do with is in the refrigerator.

Recipe:

1 lb of sirloin steak, cut into strips
1 package white mushrooms, 8 oz. washed, dried and sliced
1 medium onion
3 garlic cloves
1 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk or half and half
1 tsp vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp. flour
Salt and pepper to taste
Cooked egg noodles or cooked white rice

Heat a cast iron skillet. As the skillet is heating up, process the garlic and onions or dice by hand with a sharp knife.

Coat the sirloin steak slices with the flour, making sure to coat evenly. Add 2 tbsp. olive oil to the hot skillet. Add the steak slices and distribute well. Do not touch until one side of the steak slices are browned. With a large medal spoon, turn the slices over to brown the other side. When nicely browned, add the diced garlic and onions. Saute a couple of minutes. Add the mushroom slices and the water. Cover, lower the heat to medium low. Approximately 15 minutes later, check to see if the meat and mushrooms have cooked thoroughly. Add the milk or half and half to which the vinegar has been added.

Cook until thick. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over hot noodles or rice.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Pomegranate

pomegranate
When my brothers, sisters and I were growing up in New Jersey, we really looked forward to Autumn because it meant we would be eating pomegranate. We so looked forward to eating those delectable juice-filled seeds and then spitting them out of our mouths.

We had different ways of eating them. Most of us would just bite into a quarter of the lovely round ball of fruit. But one sister would methodically and patiently remove each and every seed from the membrane and place them in a bowl. After we had finished eating our fruit, faces stained port wine red from the juice, our sister would still have her bowl of seeds to snack on at her leisure.

My DH and DS went food shopping the other day. They brought home the biggest and reddest pomegranates for us to enjoy. Unfortunately, our DS did not like the taste so that meant more of that treat for his dad and me.

The following is from Wikipedia
Providing 16% of an adult's daily vitamin C requirement per 100 ml serving, pomegranate juice is also a good source of the B vitamin, pantothenic acid, potassium and antioxidant polyphenols...