Thursday, December 1, 2011

Stuffed Mushrooms

My husband and I love mushrooms!! Usually, we eat the ever available white mushrooms simply sauteed in a little olive oil. But when the mushrooms are large, I make stuffed mushrooms. To make things easy and to not heat up the whole place with the big oven, I cook these little delectables in the toaster oven.

Recipe (can be doubled):

1 8 oz package of large white mushrooms, rinsed and dried well
1/4 cup of sweet onions, minced
1 clove garlic minced
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 tablespoon minced dried cranberries
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Remove the stems from the mushrooms and mince them finely. Set aside. Also set the mushroom caps aside.

Heat up a skillet. Add the olive oil. To that, add the garlic and onions. Saute until onions are translucent. Add the cranberries. Add the bread crumbs and blend well. Season with salt and pepper.

Fill the caps with the filling. There should be plenty to fill the caps well.

Preheat the oven to 350 (same with the toaster oven). Place the caps on a baking sheet. Bake for approximately 15 to 20 minutes.

Serve immediately.

New Link added - Cooking Hawaiian Style

Cooking Hawaiian Style. It has a treasure trove of local favorites.

Friday, November 18, 2011

My Mexican Meal

I am Peruvian Chinese so I do not have much experience with Mexican cooking.  What I did one day was to create my own version of beef fajitas (which mean little girdles).  The meal was not strictly Mexican.  It was more of a combination of Peruvian/Mexican if such a thing existed.  My family enjoyed it.

The Menu:

Beef Fajitas
Flour tortillas
Salsa Fresca
Plantanos fritos (Fried ripe Plantains)
Arroz Amarillo (Yellow rice)
Flan for dessert

As you can see from the photo, there is a dish there that I cannot seem to be able to identify. I don't remember what I put on the table. It looks like shredded cheese but I don't think that it what it is. Sorry.

Beef Fajitas

2 Sirloin steaks
lime juice
onions, sliced
Green pepper sliced
salt and pepper
Olive Oil

Marinate the steak with all the ingredients except the onion. Set aside for a couple of hours or so.

Heat up a large cast iron skillet,  Add approximately a tablespoon of olive oil. I cooked the meat medium rare. Actually more on the rare side. Fry up the green pepper, onions and additional garlic in that skillet after the steaks are removed. Slice up the steak, add the fried onions and garlic place on a serving platter.

Serve in the heated tortillas. Make sure you wrap them tightly, hence the fajita.

Yellow Rice:

I simply cooked white rice in chicken broth and added Goya's Sazon for color and flavor.

Salsa Fresca:

1 large tomato
1 medium sweet onion
1 Jalapeno (optional)
Juice from one lemon or lime
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Dice the onion, tomato (and Jalapeno pepper). Season with the lemon/lime juice, salt, pepper and approximately 1 tablespoon or drizzling of olive oil. Serve on top of the fajita.

Platanos Fritos

2 large ripe plantains (usually yellow and black skin)

Peel and slice. I like to slice them diagonally. Heat up a large skillet. Add a little oil to cover the bottom slightly. Fry until golden brown. Drain on paper towel and season with salt.


I actually used the recipe from the Better Homes and Garden cookbook binder.  It is really good!

Friday, October 14, 2011


Pork rinds are called "chicarones" in Spanish. However, this dish is Peruvian Chicarones made by cooking and then frying the well-seasoned pork. My mother likes to use spare ribs for this dish and so do I.

1 1/2 lbs. spare ribs, separate the ribs into individual pieces
Approximately one whole head of garlic, minced
1/2 cup water
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a Dutch oven, place ribs, water, garlic and salt and pepper. Approximately 1/2 tsp salt. Cover and cook over medium heat until you hear sizzling. When you hear that sound, that means the water has evaporated. You can uncover at this point and allow the meat to fry in the oil until well browned on each side.

Serve with the following onion sauce, potatoes and/or boiled sweet potatoes (or yams).

Onion Sauce or Salsa Criolla:

1 whole onion, preferably sweet
1 tablespoon vinegar
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients. The olive oil should just be drizzled on.

A variation on the sauce would be to use lemon or lime juice and add Aji Amarillo.

As you can see by the picture below, I used potatoes.  But this dish is traditionally served with boiled sweet potato.  The sweetness compliments the savory flavor of the pork.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Catholic Cookies

Oh my goodness! Go check out these Stigmata Cookies and maybe bake a batch on the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. We unfortunately, missed the change to bake these on St. Padre Pio's feast day.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


My son's friend loves to come over for dinner. The last time he came he was asked to choose a dish he wanted to eat. He chose lasagna. This is my recipe.


Homemade meat sauce I used a pound of beef and an extra can of tomato sauce for the lasagna sauce.
1 lb. box of lasagna noodles, cooked al dente
1 large loaf of fresh mozzarella (like the one they sell at Costco), sliced thinly
1 large container of cottage cheese, mix it in a bowl with the egg and parsley)Note: If you prefer to use the traditional ricotta cheese, please do so.
1 egg
1/4 cup of minced fresh parsley

Preheat the oven at 350 degrees while you assemble the lasagna.

In a large baking dish, add a ladle full of sauce to lightly cover the bottom of the baking dish. Add a layer of cooked lasagna noodles. Add a layer of mozzarella cheese slices and dollops of the cottage cheese mixture. Add another ladle-full of sauce and continue the layering until everything has been added. Be sure to end with sauce on top.

Cover with aluminum and bake in the hot oven for an hour.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Stroll Down Memory Lane - My Mom's Meatballs with Mashed Potatoes

I remembered a dish my mom used to make when my brothers and sisters and I were little. I had not thought about this dish in such a long time. I don't remember having it since then either. It is really such a simple recipe yet I fondly remember enjoying it so much. But I wouldn't call it one of my favorite things my mom made. I just liked it. The dish is meatballs with a marinara sauce served over mashed potatoes. My mom would not call it mashed potatoes though. She called it "pure de papa" or potato puree. What made my mom's potatoes special was that they weren't thick. They were more on the runny side.

What made me remember this recipe was the fact that I found red veal at the local farmer's market. The veal comes from the Big Island. I was pretty intrigued by the fact it was red veal. I bought two pounds of the red veal. I really did not want to make meatloaf as the owner suggested. That is when I remembered my mom's delicious meatball dish. More on the veal on a later post.


1 lb. beef, turkey or red veal
1 egg
1 slice whole grain bread soaked in milk
1 onion, finely minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients together. Form into medium sized balls (not too small nor too big either).

Heat up a cast iron skillet. Add approximately 1/4 cup of olive oil. Brown the meatballs until they are cooked thoroughly. Set aside.

Marinara Sauce:

1 large can of good quality tomato sauce. You can use whole plum tomatoes if you prefer.
Fresh basil and oregano
1 onion, chopped
3 large garlic cloves, minced.

Heat a saucepan. Add extra virgin olive oil to coat bottom of saucepan. Add the garlic and brown lightly. Add the onions and saute until translucent. Add the tomato sauce, basil and oregano. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and lower heat to medium low. Simmer one hour.

Mashed Potatoes:

6 large potatoes
Low fat milk
Butter (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil the potatoes until the fork goes through easily. Peel and place in a large bowl. Gradually add the milk until the potatoes are the consistency you want. If you want a thinner consistency, just add more milk. Salt and pepper to taste. If you would like to add butter, do so before adding the milk. Mashed well. Note:  If you are wondering my my hands look so masculine it's because those hands belong to my husband.  He mashed the potatoes for me :-)

A nice tossed salad goes well with this dish. I made a simple salad with romaine lettuce, grape tomatoes and Japanese cucumbers all bought at the farmer's market. What is not shown in the photo is the arugula and purslane friends gave me yesterday when I visited their community garden plot.  My mom has purslane growing in her yard but it is a weed!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Dish that Defines Peruvian Cuisine - Ceviche de Pescado

Mention Peruvian cooking to someone and they are more than likely to respond with the word ceviche. Ceviche is a Peruvian creation. It is usually made with fresh fish marinated and thereby cooked in lemon or lime juice. Sometimes other seafood are used...squid, octopus and/or shrimp. It is spicy, tangy and quite delicious!

My mother always told us that the best ceviche was made with Corvina. I usually make ceviche with Tilapia or Corvina when it is available. Today I wanted to try something different. I asked the fish man at a local Japanese market what fish he would recommend for ceviche. Almost without hesitation, he pointed to the beautiful fresh slabs of Mahimahi.

I decided to take his advice and bought a pound of fresh mahimahi for tonight's dinner. Although ceviche is usually served as an appetizer or first course, I thought it would be a good light dinner for my family.

I searched the internet for a good Peruvian recipe to compare it with the one my mom taught me. I found an interesting video of an interview of two Peruvian chefs. One of the chefs gave a couple of tips for making a good ceviche. The video is below. It is in Spanish. One tip is to not squeeze the life out of a lemon in order to get all the juice out. By doing so we run the risk of touching the white membrane which will make the dish bitter.

Another thing I learned is that there is a name for my favorite part of the ceviche. The tasty liquid that remains after the ceviche has been consumed (or served along with the fish) is called "Leche de Tigre"..Tiger's Milk. Here is a description I found here.

Only a true ceviche lover would dare try tiger’s milk (leche de tigre), which is the leftover ceviche marinade served in a small glass. Brightly colored from the spicy chili peppers, and sometimes mixed with vodka, tiger’s milk is considered a great cure for hangovers.
I think the vodka would ruin the deliciousness of the lovely liquid.

My Mother's Recipe for Ceviche

1 lb. very fresh fish (not frozen)
5-6 medium sized lemons or limes or 3 large Meyer Lemons (which I used)
1 Jalapeno or two small Hawaiian Chili Peppers (seeded)
1 Small bunch of fresh parsley is traditionally used, minced OR 1/2 green pepper sliced thinly (optional)
1 large onion, sliced thinly
3 Garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. Aji Amarillo (unless you are able to find fresh aji amarillo)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Slice the fish thinly but not too thinly that it falls apart. Place in a Pyrex bowl. Add the lemon juice and blend well. Add the remaining ingredients except, salt, pepper and parsley or green peppers. Cover and let marinate for at least an hour or two, maybe longer. I left mine on the counter top. After a this time, check to see that the fish is opaque. If so, the fish is cooked in the citrus juice. Salt and pepper to taste and top with the parsley or green pepper slices.

This dish is traditionally served on lettuce leaves and accompanied by boiled sweet potatoes and corn.

Don't forget to drink la leche de tigre!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

First Time Canning Peaches - Update

 Update:  I had a taste this morning with some slices of canned peaches on waffles.  They were very delicious.  Only thing I would change is making a medium syrup next time.  I tried light and I think it would have even been better if the peaches were a tad sweeter.

There was a very good sale on yellow peaches today.  I decided that even though they would make very good fruit for eating, I would attempt canning fresh peaches.  I followed the instructions that I found in the Better Homes and Garden cookbook as well as a few tips on the internet.  I used Vitamin C crystals to keep the fruit from browning.  They came out looking a beautiful yellow with pinkish syrup.  But the really test will be the taste.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Pesto - Red Shiso and Sweet Basil

Red Shiso plant in the foreground
One of my good friends gave me a Red Shiso plant which grew very nicely. The plant, although still very young, had large leaves ready for harvesting. I had never tasted this herb prior to today. The taste is very pleasant, like a combination basil and mint. I understand the red shiso leaves are used to give umeboshi its distinct color and flavor.

Red Shiso leaves

Italian Sweet Basil leaves

I planned on making pesto today. Since learning more about the shiso plant, I knew that the leaves needed to be harvested before it is too late. I thought it may be a welcome addition to my regular pesto sauce, usually made with sweet basil leaves. So today, I just added the shiso leaves I picked along with the basil leaves.
Pesto Sauce with Basil and Red Shiso

The taste was very good! I hope to try other recipes for red shiso, like pesto without the basil to see how that will turn out. But for today, I thought I would play it safe and just introduce a few leaves into the pesto sauce. I also made fresh pasta today and I think that will go very well with this new pesto sauce.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Papa a la Huancaina

Papa a la Huancaina is a typical Peruvian dish and it is usually served as an appetizer. It just happens to be one of my husband's favorite Peruvian foods...and he doesn't have a drop of Peruvian blood in him.

There are many recipes for this dish. Even in my own family, my mom and my aunt make it differently. I usually make it my mom's method using a touch of Turmeric for color and health reasons. The last time I made it though, I used my aunt's method. Her recipe is very simple.

1 boiled Yukon Gold (or any other salad potato) per person
1 boiled egg per person
3 Peruvian olives per person (similar to a Kalamata Olive but larger, tangier and in my opinion, much more tastier).
1 large lettuce leave per person

Huancaina Sauce:

1 large container of small curd cottage cheese
1 tbsp. (or less depending on how hot you want it) of Aji Amarillo
1 yellow onion, minced
Salt to taste

Blend together. If you want the sauce to be very creamy, you can put it in a blender until smooth.

Serve as in the photo above.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hawaiian Strawberries

These luscious little gems come from Maui.  As you can see, there were only a few strawberries that were not completely red.  These strawberries were not only very juicy but very sweet.  It would have been a shame to cover them with anything heavy so I just sliced them up and added a dab of condensed milk.  They certainly did not need the additional sweetness from the condensed milk but I think the creamy sweetness of the condensed milk added to the tastiness of the strawberries.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Mango Salsa

I have tasted mango salsa from a jar.  This is nothing like that.  This is so good!  It is also my mom's recipe.

1 large ripe mango (not too ripe though)
1 fresh jalapeño pepper (for mild, remove veins and seeds)
1 medium sized sweet onion
3 green onion stalks
1 large ripe tomato
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro leaves
Juice of one large lime
Salt to taste

Peel and dice the mango.  Dice the jalapeño, onion and tomato.  Slice the green onion thinly.  Mix all ingredients well.  Serve with fresh fish, tortilla chips, chicken, etc.

This fruit salsa should also work well with pineapple (which I am going to try next).  I know my mom tried with with peaches and she loved the taste.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Taste of New Jersey - Carbonara

There is one place that I must visit when I am in New Jersey. I think I may have mentioned this remarkable market here before. It is Corrado'Family Market. It is at Corrados's that we buy the fresh mozzarella, olives and Panettone and many other Italian products plus fresh produce and meat.  It is also were I buy pancetta to bring back with me.

I brought back about a pound of pancetta for the sole purpose of making carbonara. The recipe I use is one I found on the internet last year.  I made this dish for my family in New Jersey and we all loved it!  It is one of the best recipes I have found for this classic Italian dish.

Spaghetti ala Carbonara recipe here.

I would have loved to have made it with homemade pasta but unfortunately hunger hit before I even thought of making the dish.  Even though making this dish eventually had been in the plans all along.   I used store bought pasta and I must say it was just as good!  After all, how can one go wrong with bacon, cheese, eggs and pasta.

Friday, July 15, 2011

My Return Home Dinner for My Family

While I was away, my poor family had not been eating as well as I had hoped. I wanted to make them something special that did not have to wait for Sunday. So I made them Chicken Marsala with mushrooms this time, a simple risotto and Caesar Salad with baby romaine lettuce I picked up at the Farmer's market.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

How To I.D. Genetically Modified Food at the Supermarket

Well, I am finally back from a long vacation. I hope to be able to post more regularly.

This article on genetically modified foods in our supermarkets was shared by a friend.

How to ID Genetically Modified Food at the Supermarket.

Thought it would be good to share this info with my readers.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Photo of Carrot Cake Cupcake

Photo by my brother. Click photo to enlarge.  One of the many tasty treats my sister brought to celebrate our mom's birthday.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Another Local Favorite - Chinese Chicken Salad

Chinese Chicken Salad
This salad is just so yummy!  I think it has a lot to do with the different textures and sweet/sour flavor of the Asian dressing.  Traditionally, romaine lettuce is used.  However, since I had plenty of a leftover green salad with Iceberg lettuce, I had to use it.   I did not want to waste the salad.  I did remove the tomatoes for this salad makeover but kept the cucumbers and red onions.


1 medium sized romaine lettuce, washed, dried well and torn
2 cups (or more) leftover cooked chicken breast (or half of one large breast breast, boiled)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves (washed, dried and torn)
1/2 cup thinly cut green onion
Deep fried wonton strips**

Deep Fried Wonton Strips

1/2 package of prepared wonton skins (found in the refrigerator section) cut into strips

Heat the oil in the deep fryer (or use a small saucepan to deep fry) until very hot, approximately 365 degrees on the candy thermometer.  Fry a few strips at a time. They fry very quickly so turn over once and remove when they are lightly to medium brown.  Drain on paper towel and set aside. Continue until all the strips are fried.

Salad Dressing:

1 covered jar for shaking the dressing
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar or white wine vinegar
Approximately 2 tablespoons Sesame Oil
Approximately 1 tablespoon Hawaiian Salt (or less if you prefer)
Pepper to taste

Shake all ingredients in the covered jar until well blended.

Place torn lettuce in a large salad bowl or individual bowls if you prefer.  Top with chicken, cilantro, green onions and deep fried wonton strips.  Shake dressing again and pour over the salad.  Serve immediately.  Serves approximately 4 to 6.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

15 Fascinating Facts About Salt

Alaea Sea Salt

Picture source

Here is a very interesting article on salt. Salt-15 Fascinating Facts About this Everyday Item.

Salt happens to be my favorite condiment.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Esther's Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip cookies ready for eating
It took me a long time but I finally make chocolate chip cookies that I like...chewy instead of cake-y.  I ran out of semi-sweet chocolate chips but I did have Hershey's Special Dark Pieces and white chocolate chips.
Picture source

1 3/4 cups unbleached or all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract, good quality
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips OR combination of Hershey's Special Dark Pieces and white chocolate chips (8 ounces of each)
1/2 cup to 1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven 350 degrees.

Place parchment paper on cookie sheets and spray with cooking spray such as PAM.

In a bowl combine the flour, baking soda, salt. In another bowl beat the butter, oil, egg, sugars, and vanilla extract. Pour into the flour mixture and blend thoroughly.

Place approximately 1 tablespoon size balls of dough onto the cookie sheet. Make sure to space them so that they will not run into each other when baking. Bake approximately 13 to 15 minutes. The cookies should be browned nicely. Cool on racks.

Enjoy with a nice cold glass of milk or if you are like me, with a nice cold glass of water.

Mabo Tofu Recipe - Spicy Pork and Tofu

One of my son's favorite new dishes that I have been making at home from scratch Mabo Tofu. It is very popular here in Hawaii. I believe most of the Asian restaurants (Chinese, Japanese and Korean run ramen noodles shops, offer it on their menu) It is spicy pork and tofu which has Chinese origins. I used to buy the sauce ready made.  But I could never afford to buy enough to satisfy my family's appetite for this tasty meal. 

 I ended up finding a really good recipe and now I make this at home anytime my son is in the mood for it, which is pretty often.  Although, the original recipe calls for ground pork, ground chicken or turkey are good substitutes.

Mabo Tofu
Chili Paste

The recipe I used can be found here.

You will need to have a few ingredients you may not necessarily already have in your pantry.

1. Tapioca starch (corn starch can be substituted)
2. Soy sauce (such as Kikkoman)
3. Tofu (firm)
4. Fermented Chinese black beans (Tausi)
5. Chili Paste
6. Green onions
7. White pepper (Szechuan Pepper)

Serve with rice.