Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Stone Fruit Compote and Honey Labne Parfait

Last year, my good friend Mikell introduced me to Labne, a thick, silky and delicious Middle Eastern style yogurt(very similar to Greek yogurt). It is commonly used as a spread or dip for bread. It's a good low fat alternative to cheese. I also saw labne make an appearance on my dinner plate at one of Boston's high end restaurants last week. I recently created a labne parfait as the curtain raiser for last Sunday's brunch. I flavored the labne with honey and cardamom. My hubby loved it. This is a yogurt parfait for two:

For the fresh stone fruit compote:
2 peaches stoned, peeled and diced into small cubes
3 plums stoned, peeled and diced into small cubes
1/3 cup of tropical orange juice( I used a guava, mango and pineapple cocktail juice)
1 teaspoon of fresh orange zest( just the orange part -- the white part is very bitter)
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract(Bourbon or Tahitian)
1 -2 teaspoons of sugar

Bring everything to a gentle simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes until fruit is tender.

For the Labne with honey:

1 cup of Labne
6 green cardamom pods in a tea filter paper
3-4 tablespoons of honey
1/2 cup of milk

Combine the Labne, honey and milk. Steep the cardamom "tea" in yogurt. Refrigerate overnight and remove cardamom tea bag before serving. Put some fruit compote in a serving glass and then top it off with some Labne. Bon appetit.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Burrito time!

I first had burritos in a little hole in a wall taqueria in Somerville, Massachusetts. It's a place where you can get authentic Mexican Food and practice your Spanish at the same time. Making homemade burritos is fun and easy. It involves an assembly of ingredients that were simply made for each other.

Beans: I like to use South American Grade A dried black beans. You can use canned beans if you like. Soak the dry beans overnight and then simmer them with carrots, celery, onions, garlic, beef bones and a bay leaf until the beans are tender.
Rice: I use Jasmine rice to make my Arroz Mexicana or Mexican rice. Why Jasmine rice? I like the scent, flavor and texture of really good Jasmine rice. Saute finely chopped garlic and onion in a couple of tablespoons of achiote infused extra virgin olive oil(steep the annato or achiote seeds in extra virgin olive oil). Add cumin, Ancho chili powder, adobo seasoning and 1/2 cup of tomato puree to the pan. Then, saute 1 cup of rice with the oil and spices until every grain is orange. Add 1 and a half cups of chicken broth, cover the pan and cook the rice for 20 minutes.
Meat: I usually like slow cooked carnitas for my taco and burrito filling. For this weeknight burrito, saute ground beef and taco seasoning until the meat turns brown.
The rest of the crew: large tortillas, salsa, chopped fresh cilantro, sour cream, and Mexican cheese blend(asadero, Monterey jack, and so on) and anything else you like in your burrito..guacamole perhaps? Oh yes, don't forget wedges of fresh lime.

Let's wrap and roll...
Lay the tortilla on a flat surface. Arrange some of your fillings on the middle of the tortilla. Take the tortilla end closest to you and pull it over the filling. Fold about 2 inches of left and right sides towards the center of the tortilla, creating a pocket. Roll the burrito tightly until you end up with a wrap.

What do I like to wash it down with? How about some Horchata, a refreshing Mexican rice drink with vanilla, cinnamon and sometimes almonds or caswhews. I like to garnish mine with fresh whipped cream, cashews and a Mexican Chocolate cake.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Holidays to all!

Have a wonderful and memorable Christmas and New Year.
May you have a holiday full of good eats and sweet treats.

Jen :-)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Pumpkin Braised in Thai Red Curry Sauce

I love making Thai food any day of the week. This is a Thai red curry pumpkin recipe that hits all the sweet, salty and spicy notes. This recipe also makes good use of wonderful locally grown New England pumpkin.

3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil or peanut oil
3 finely chopped garlic cloves
1 medium onion roughly chopped into chunks.
2 pounds of pumpkin flesh cut into small chunks( you can substitute butternut squash).
1 teaspoon of finely slivered ginger
1 teaspoon of finely slivered galangal
2 tablespoons of Thai red curry paste
3 kaffir lime leaves
1/2 pound of snake or long/yard beans cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup of chicken or vegetable stock
1 can of coconut milk
2 tablespoons of fish sauce
1-2 tablespoons of brown sugar

Using a large fry pan, heat 3 tablespoons of oil. Saute the garlic and onion for a few minutes until fragrant. Add ginger, galangal, red curry paste and cook for an additional 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add pumpkin, kaffir lime leaves, long beans, coconut milk, stock, fish sauce, brown sugar to the pan. Bring to a gentle boil and then reduce heat. Simmer for 20 -30 minutes until the pumpkin and long beans are fully cooked. The pumpkin will help "thicken" the sauce. Correct seasonings with salt and pepper.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Silken tofu with brown sugar syrup and tapioca pearls

From Street fare to breakfast flair: Taho
Taho or steamed silken tofu with brown sugar syrup and tapioca pearls is a very popular type of street food in the Philippines. When I was growing up in the Philippines, the taho vendor would make his rounds in my neighborhood every morning and my brother and I would buy a couple of huge bowls of his yummy concoction. A few weeks ago, I surprised my parents with my homemade taho. They said it's better than what they used to have back home.

I cooked the tapioca pearls and tofu separately. I boiled the tapioca pearls or "sago" until they were translucent and chewy/gummy in texture. Water naturally forms when you steam your tofu. Drain tofu and discard water before serving.

I made a brown sugar simple syrup or "arnibal" by boiling equal parts of brown sugar and water and then reducing it in half. I added good quality vanilla flavoring( use bourbon or Tahitian vanilla) to the syrup.

Ladle tofu first in a serving glass or bowl. Add tapioca pearls and then add the warm syrup on top.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Gambas Al Ajillo

Gambas Al Ajillo or shrimp/prawns with garlic is a simple and easy recipe that remind me of those delicious little plates of Spain called Tapas. Here is a quick and easy recipe highlighting the flavors of Spain: good extra virgin olive oil, garlic, parsley, and fresh shrimp.

1 pound of large shrimp (shell on and deveined)
2 tablespoons of roughly chopped fresh Italian flat leaf parsley(just the leaves)
2 cloves of freshly minced garlic
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
A pinch or two crushed chili flakes
kosher or sea salt and freshly cracked peppercorn

Heat extra virgin olive oil in a large fry pan. Saute garlic, crushed chili peppers and parsley for 2-3 minutes until fragrant and garlic is lightly toasted. Add shrimp and stir fry until shrimp is fully cooked(another 5 minutes or so). Season with salt and pepper. This is another peel and eat shrimp recipe so peel, eat and enjoy. Bien provecho!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Lentil Soup, Two Ways.

My husband loves lentil soup and I love making it for him. I like to make Tibetan and European style lentil soups and sometimes I create lentil soups that don't belong to any specific cuisine. Lentils are super healthy, flavorful, versatile and cheap! These soups were totally impromptu and both were well received by the family(the little guy included). Here's a quick summary of lentil soup, two ways.

Sometime in September~
Type of Lentils: French lentils (I love the way they retain their their shape and form even after you cook them for a long time.)
Flavoring agent: sauteed apple wood smoked bacon, cherry tomatoes
Aromatics: homemade sofrito(onion, garlic, celery, carrots, green pepper, flat leaf Italian parsley)
Spices: Paprika, cumin, and sumac.
Cooking time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Sometime in October~
Type of Lentils: Organic black lentils
Flavoring agent: smoked turkey necks and homemade chicken stock.
Aromatics: Cajun trinity: onions, green pepper and garlic.
Spices: cilantro, chili powder, Mexican oregano
Cooking time: 1 and a half hours.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Macadamia and Panko Crusted Orange Roughy Fillets

During a trip to Hawaii, we stumbled upon a Macadamia nut farm on our way to the North Shore of Oahu. The farm had a store where you can sample and buy native Hawaiian macadamia nuts grown at that farm. It was kismet because I just love Macadamia nuts. This recipe is a way for me to use macadamia nuts in my everyday cooking.
Fish breaded and sauteed in oil is good. Fish sauteed in a macadamia crust is better. For this recipe, I used orange roughy fillets and coated them with crunchy and buttery macadamia nuts and Japanese Panko bread crumbs. The orange roughy's mild and white flesh is perfect for this dish.

1 egg beaten plus two tablespoons of milk
1/2 cup of Japanese Panko bread crumbs
1/2 finely crushed Macadamia nuts
3 Orange Roughy fillets
salt and pepper to taste
Extra Virgin Olive Oil for sauteing
Green Onions for garnish
Beat egg with milk in a shallow dish and then set aside. Combine Panko bread crumbs, macadamia nuts, salt, and pepper on another plate. Dip one fish fillet in the egg mixture and then dredge both sides of the fillet in the Panko and macadamia nut mix. Repeat the process with the other two fillets. Saute the fillets in hot oil until both sides of the fish have a lovely golden brown color. Garnish with green onions and serve with lime wedges.