Saturday, June 27, 2009

Thai Beef Salad

I guess you'd call this a guest post, because I received instructions from my brother in my inbox to "blog this".

So here you go.

Thai Beef Salad

"Dressing consists of lime juice, fish sauce, dark sesame oil, sriracha, lime zest, garlic, cilantro, thai chili flakes, sugar.

I love getting it when I go to Thai restaurants, and I finally got brave enough to try it on my own. Now I gotta try making the lemon grass soup 'cause the GF and I love that too."

Question to my brother: any marinade for the beef?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Pecan Pie

I received a free sample of whole pecans from The Green Valley Pecan Company a little while back, and decided to make a pecan pie.

Why pecan pie? Because I wanted to be able to really taste the pecans, but can't eat them uncooked. Itchy mouth and swollen throat isn't fun. Banana nut bread would've been good, but do you really taste the pecans? Pecan pie it was, then.

I used the recipe on the bag of pecans, which seems very similar to every other pecan pie recipe out there. It seemed rather gloopy, so I threw in a handful more nuts for good measure. When it came out of the oven, I let it cool until it was almost room temperature, the cut a slice. Runny still. WTF? Is it supposed to be like that? So I threw it back in the oven for a little longer, thinking that I could bake out some of the moisture. It worked, a little, but it was still liquidy.

But that didn't stop everybody at work from devouring it, gloopy or not. It was pretty tasty, and extremely sweet, which I think is the point of pecan pie.

With the partial bag I have left, I think I'm going to make some sort of spiced nuts, the kind that you fold into beaten egg whites, add spices, and bake. That's always good.

So are the nuts worth the price? Well, they're $4 for a 1/2lb bag, which looks to be in the mid-range of other online pecan stores. Would I buy them? Probably not, I'd just pick up the bag with the quadrilateral logo at the market (whose price I don't know). The Green Valley ones were slightly fresher tasting, however. If you're really into your nuts (heh), give these a shot.

Green Valley also sells a variety of other products - jellies, mustards, honeys, syrups, breads, cookies, soups, etc. Quite a collection, wish I had the capital to invest.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Stuffed Mushrooms

I've just recently discovered that I don't hate mushrooms. I grew up in a household where one of our mushroom-loving friends used to bring her own shrooms to get-togethers, because my parents wouldn't deliberately purchase that nasty fungus.

I saw some beautiful baby portobellos at Trader Joe's - they looked more like really large crimini, but whatever. They were pretty. Into the basket they went.

I minced up some veggies, sauteed, added some bread crumbs and cheese, stuffed, and baked. Yum. So yum that I did it again less than a week later. And again last night. But this time I added in some chopped smoked oysters (do you have any idea how hard it is to find smoked oysters that aren't a product of China?). Next time I might try adding some cooked sausage instead of oysters.



Stuffed Mushrooms

olive oil or butter
6 large crimini (or 'bello) mushrooms, stems disconnected & chopped fine
1 stalk celery, diced fine
1 carrot, diced fine
1 large clove garlic, diced fine
a handful of fine bread crumbs
a handful of grated parmesan (or Gruyere, or pecorino, etc.)
chopped parsley (or other herb)
2 smoked oysters, chopped fine (yes, only 2, they're really potent) (optional)

Heat the oven to 350. Pre-bake the mushrooms caps (no need to wait for the oven to come to temp) until their liquid starts pooling in the caps.

Saute the veggies in your fat of choice until soft. Let cool slightly, then add the bread crumbs, cheese, parsley, and oysters. Add a little more fat to moisten if you'd like, and season with a little salt (depending on the saltiness of your cheese) and pepper.

Stuff the mushroom caps with the mix, and top with a little more grated cheese. Bake until the caps are as soft as you'd like, or your kitchen smells too delicious to wait any longer.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Asparagus Popover Frittata

I felt like cooking, but didn't feel like going to the store (happens a lot, really). I found a bunch of asparagus in the fridge, so I searched my recipe files, and discovered that I could make this Asparagus Popover Frittata from Cathy at Noble Pig.

I added some paprika, garlic powder, and Vegeta to the batter, and used my Calphalon skillet because I don't have a cast iron one that's small enough.

Interesting - popovery dough, kind of chewy and eggy. It reminds me a little of a German apple pancake. But with asparagus instead of apples. But still very frittata-like at the same time. Great with some hot sauce on top.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Lavender Ice Cream

Remember a while back when the good folks at Marx Foods sent me some samples? I had some lavender left over after making Marc's celery lavender cocktail, and had to find a way to use it up. I opened the freezer, and saw my ice cream maker's freezer bowl thingy. Perfect!

Perusing the Interwebs, I came across Elissa's recipe for lavender ice cream at 17 and Baking. (If you haven't checked out Elissa's blog yet, what are you waiting for?) Easy peasy, steep the lavender in milk, mix with egg yolks and sugar, cook the custard, cool, churn, freeze.

Plus, making this ice cream would allow me to join in Ben's Homemade #5 for June!

My first guinea pig, er, taster, was Youngest. She said "Huh, now I know what a flower tastes like." Hubby was 2nd, he didn't like the 1st bite, but after the 2nd, said it was "pretty good" and "very flowery". MIL said "Damn, girl, that's delicious".

I agree with all of them - the first bite's a little strange, if you're not used to eating flowers. (My only previous flower-eating experience is nasturtiums, which are slightly peppery. Ooh, nasturtium ice cream! Add that to the "to-make" list.) The second spoonful's better, your brain realizes it's just ice cream with a different flavor. By the 3rd spoon, you're hooked.

Don't forget about Ben's Homemade #5, he'll be posting a roundup in July! I can't wait to see all the delicious ice cream flavors everyone comes up with.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


In the interests of keeping my blog active, and keeping my readers (all 4 of you) entertained, here's a strawberry.

It was good.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Asian Style Chicken Soup

I made a batch of chicken stock the other day, and wanted to make chicken soup. But different. So I settled on chicken soup with an Asian flair, employing fish sauce, lime juice, and galangal. I used a variety of sources as inspiration, including this one from Rasa Malaysia, this one from Je Mange le Ville, and this one from Kalyn's Kitchen.

I wasn't sure I was going to like the soup, since it was almost completely foreign to my palate. I'm still slightly convinced that I don't like coconut milk, and I'm just recently coming around to mushrooms. But, fortunately, and surprisingly, I loved it. So did Hubby.

Asian Style Chicken Soup

2 cloves garlic, minced
a few slices of ginger, minced
a few slices of galangal, minced
dried Thai chiles (substitute chiles de arbol, or hot sauce)
2 handfuls of brown mushrooms, sliced
zest of 1 large lime
1 can coconut milk
chicken broth, maybe 4 cups
fish sauce, about 2T
soy sauce
juice of several limes
large handful of snap peas, cut in half
handful of bean sprouts
1-2 cups of shredded chicken
1/2 t cumin seeds, crushed
1/2 t coriander seeds, crushed
green onions, sliced thin
cilantro, chopped
hot sauce, optional

Saute the ginger, garlic and galangal in the oil for a few minutes. If I had been able to find lemongrass, I would've thrown some in (minced super-fine) at this point. Add the chiles (broken in half), and the mushrooms, and saute a few minutes longer. Add the chicken broth, coconut milk, lime zest, shredded chicken, cumin and coriander, and bring to a bare simmer. Let simmer for about 10 minutes. (I used whole cumin and coriander, crushed, in a tea ball, but feel free to use ground and/or add directly to the broth.)

Just before serving, add in the pea pods and the bean sprouts, and season to taste with lime juice, soy sauce, and fish sauce. You'll need more than you think. Cook until the veggies are done to your liking.

I served the soup ladled over white rice, but brown rice or any kind of Asian noodle would probably work too. Garnish with green onion, cilantro, and hot sauce if you'd like.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

What to do with a monster cabbage? (Part 2)

For the second half of my monster cabbage (see here for part 1), I decided to make pagach, an Eastern European bread, stuffed with either cabbage or potatoes.

I followed this recipe for pagach from Dog Hill Kitchen, using minced instead of granulated garlic. I didn't prick the top of the bread with a fork before baking ('cause I forgot). And I sprinkled with some sea salt, because I love a salty crunch on my bread. Pretty minor deviations, I'd say.

The recipe makes 2 large flatbreads. The pics you're seeing are the first one, which I rolled out very thin before filling. It's an understatement to say it was difficult to lay the top half of the dough on top of the filling! I ended up with some very thin spots, which I covered with trimmings from the sides. You can't really tell, because the whole thing was flipped from the bread board upside-down onto the baking sheet. But still, I know the patches are there, and it bothers me slightly.

For the 2nd one, I actually followed the directions (!) and rolled it thicker, then pressed and squeezed it thinner after its 30 minute rest. The 2nd one (sorry, no pictures) certainly looked prettier (rounder, more even shape), and was easier to make. See what happens when you follow directions?