Friday, January 29, 2010

Riso Delizioso! Butternut Squash Risotto

Have you ever gone to the store for one thing and returned home with a dozen things, except the thing you went to get? I do that at the Farmer's Market...often. That's how I came to own more Butternut Squash than anyone needed to have for one week. What's a gal to do, but use it as an excuse to heat up some butter and wine and make Risotto? It's what the Italians would do, so who am I to question fate.

I find there are a few keys to making authentic Risotto: Use the correct rice (round or semi round, like Arborio), heat the rice and coat with oil/butter well in the pan before adding other liquid, after adding the wine make sure to cook it down to au sec (almost dry) before gradually adding the stock.

In some Squash Risotto recipes, the squash is added to the rice as it cooks, but I like to roast the Butternut in the oven until it's nice and caramelized.
Then, cut into cubes and add as one of the last ingredients. That way, the squash still has a nice clear bite to it, but its texture is still compatible with the creamy rice.


1 Butternut Squash
Olive Oil
6 Tbls. Unsalted Butter
2 Tbls. minced fresh Sage
1/2 onion (chopped)
1 garlic clove (minced)
3/4 cup Alborio rice
4 cups Veggie stock (may use Chicken Stock, also)
1/3 cup white wine

Cut the Butternut Squash crosswise small top from bottom bulb. Cut each half in half from top to bottom. Drizzle w/Olive oil and salt. Roast in oven on 350F, cut-side down on baking pan, for 20-30 minutes til fork tender. Turn once, halfway through. Cool and scoop out seeds. Peel and cut into bite-size cubes. Hold.

In a large straight-sided pan, heat 3Tbls. Butter and 1 Tbls. Olive oil on Low/Med. until butter melts. Add chopped onion, 1 Tbls of the Sage, and minced garlic. Stir often until onion is cooked through (about 8 minutes). Pour in rice and stir to coat. Continue to cook and stir until rice is opaque (about 10 minutes). Turn heat to Med., carefully pour in the white wine and stir - cooking til almost all the wine is absorbed (about 5-8 minutes). Pour in 1 cup of the stock and stir gently and often while the rice absorbs the liquid. Add the next cup, only after most of the liquid is absorbed. Repeat until all the stock is used and the Risotto is creamy, but the rice still has a bite (al dente) to it. Stir in the Roasted Butternut, the remaining butter and sage; Heat through and serve (Optionally; add some grated Parmigiano Regiano to the last stir.)

Restaurant secret: They make the Risotto to the point of half-way through the "adding the stock" part. The rice is definitely only half-cooked. They spread it out in a large baking sheet to cool, cover and refrigerate. It's cut into serving sizes and brought to room temperature and the cooking, adding stock and cheese is done per order.

Quote from my older son: "Oh Mama, (garbled eating), there more?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Num Num Nanaimo - Daring Bakers January '10

Let me just cut to the chase -
The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and

STAY WITH ME: I know the minute you read "Gluten Free" you either let out a big sigh of relief OR thought about moving along to another recipe. If you're not so thrilled about the Gluten Free part of this, let me tell you that this recipe can be made with All Purpose flour, or Whole Wheat Flour, etc. But here is a real chance to check out a treat that is sweet, crunchy, chocolate, creamy, addictive and also happens to not have any wheat in the ingredients.

When I signed up for Daring Bakers I wanted to be challenged, to be inspired to cook outside of my comfort zone and to learn about other cultures and dietary requirements. Remind me to be careful of what I ask for, okay?

The history of Nanaimo Bars (pronounced: Na-Nye-Mo) goes back to the 1950's in Nanaimo (a city in Canada) when a housewife created these no-cook coma-inducing sweets. The city still takes great pride in these, and many Canadians connect Nanaimo Bars with their childhood food dreams. If you are from Canada or ate these growing up - I'd love to hear about it.

The traditional recipe starts with making Graham Cracker Cookies and then uses the crumbs from those to create the crunchy cocoa nutty base. In our Daring Bakers recipe, we made the Graham Cracker Cookies using several alternative flours instead of wheat flour.

It absolutely made the process more challenging for those of us accustomed to having gluten help stick stuff together. After a few tricks (which I'll share with you), it all came together beautifully; not to mention these wafers are light, crispy and flavorful all on their own.

If you want to learn more about Gluten Free eating, check out Brynn's (my friend and Cook Book partner) award winning website: The Practical Celiac.

Quote from Brynn: " I am eating one now while I type. They are the perfect decadent treat. The thing I love the most is that they have a hint of crunch that stays crunchy. That is hard to find in a gluten free treat. Stuff is usually hard as a rock or oily. This is the perfect mix of textures in the mouth that I miss not being able to eat regular food. I love them – though my hips might be angry at you later for giving me so many! I put a couple in the freezer to see how they fair in there but since all the other ones are gone I doubt they will actually make it more than another couple of hours before hitting my mouth. I love, love, love the graham cracker cookies. I enjoyed them with my morning coffee. They have a great taste. I kept thinking I would love to try them chocolate dipped – reminded me of a twixt bar or something that I haven’t been able to eat. "

Notes for gluten-free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars:

• Glutinous rice flour does not contain any gluten, as it is made from a type of rice called glutinous (or sweet) rice.
• The graham wafer dough is very sticky. Make sure you are flouring (with sweet rice flour) well, or the dough will be difficult to remove from the surface you roll it out on. Also be sure to keep it cold. You do not want the butter to melt.
• I chose these flours because of their availability. Tapioca starch/flour and sweet rice flour can often be found in Asian grocery stores, or in the Asian section of you grocery store. Sorghum can be slightly more difficult to find, but it can be replaced with brown rice flour, millet flour or other alternatives.
• In the Nanaimo Bars, it is very important that the chocolate be cool but still a liquid, otherwise the custard layer will melt, and it will mix with the chocolate, being difficult to spread. Allow the chocolate mixture to come to room temperature but not solidify before spreading the top layer on.

** my experience notes**

This recipe made really good tasting cookies.

This dough is beyond sticky, have plenty of Rice Flour for dusting or rather "covering" the dough in as you roll it out. I recommend it being between 2 parchment papers and then sliding the bottom paper onto the baking pan.

After cutting the squares/circles out, I put the pan in the freezer for 10 minutes before trying to remove the shapes to a cooking pan.

Mine took much less than 25 minutes for cooking, more like 15-17 minutes with turning the pan once half way through.

For Gluten-Free Graham Wafers
1 cup (138 g) (4.9 ounces) Sweet rice flour (also known as glutinous rice flour)
3/4 cup (100 g) (3.5 ounces) Tapioca Starch/Flour
1/2 cup (65 g) (2.3 ounces) Sorghum Flour
1 cup (200 g) (7.1 ounces) Dark Brown Sugar, Lightly packed
1 teaspoon (5 mL) Baking soda
3/4 teaspoon (4 mL ) Kosher Salt
7 tablespoons (100 g) (3 ½ ounces) Unsalted Butter (Cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen)
1/3 cup (80 mL) Honey, Mild-flavoured such as clover.
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Whole Milk
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Pure Vanilla Extract

1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pulse on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal. If making by hand, combine aforementioned dry ingredients with a whisk, then cut in butter until you have a coarse meal. No chunks of butter should be visible.
2. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the honey, milk and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky.
3. Turn the dough onto a surface well-floured with sweet rice flour and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours, or overnight.
4. Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of sweet rice flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be quite sticky, so flour as necessary. Cut into 4 by 4 inch squares. Gather the scraps together and set aside. Place wafers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes. Repeat with the second batch of dough.
5. Adjust the rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).
6. Gather the scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and reroll. Dust the surface with more sweet rice flour and roll out the dough to get a couple more wafers.
7. Prick the wafers with toothpick or fork, not all the way through, in two or more rows.
8. Bake for 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating sheets halfway through to ensure even baking. Might take less, and the starting location of each sheet may determine its required time. The ones that started on the bottom browned faster.
9. When cooled completely, place enough wafers in food processor to make 1 ¼ cups (300 mL) of crumbs. Another way to do this is to place in a large ziplock bag, force all air out and smash with a rolling pin until wafers are crumbs.

Nanaimo Bars

For Nanaimo Bars — Bottom Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup (50 g) (1.8 ounces) Granulated Sugar
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Unsweetened Cocoa
1 Large Egg, Beaten
1 1/4 cups (300 mL) (160 g) (5.6 ounces) Gluten Free Graham Wafer Crumbs (See previous recipe)
1/2 cup (55 g) (1.9 ounces) Almonds (Any type, Finely chopped)
1 cup (130 g) (4.5 ounces) Coconut (Shredded, sweetened or unsweetened)

For Nanaimo Bars — Middle Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons (40 mL) Heavy Cream
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Vanilla Custard Powder (Such as Bird’s. Vanilla pudding mix may be substituted.)
2 cups (254 g) (8.9 ounces) Icing Sugar

For Nanaimo Bars — Top Layer
4 ounces (115 g) Semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons (28 g) (1 ounce) Unsalted Butter

1. For bottom Layer: Melt unsalted butter, sugar and cocoa in top of a double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, nuts and coconut. Press firmly into an ungreased 8 by 8 inch pan.
2. For Middle Layer: Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light in colour. Spread over bottom layer.
3. For Top Layer: Melt chocolate and unsalted butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, pour over middle layer and chill.


If making the graham crackers with wheat, replace the gluten-free flours (tapioca starch, sweet rice flour, and sorghum flour) with 2 ½ cups plus 2 tbsp of all-purpose wheat flour, or wheat pastry flour. Watch the wheat-based graham wafers very closely in the oven, as they bake faster than the gluten-free ones, sometimes only 12 minutes.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Orange & Pinot Jelly; YES I CAN!

I did it. I did it, again. I joined another monthly challenge. But who can blame me with this one? It's the brain child of Tigress Can Jam and every month we will be hot water canning or jamming a pre-chosen ingredient. To kick off 2010, the ingredient is CITRUS. Since I've made a lot of marmalade, and because I'm possessed with wanting to push my own envelope I chose to try something new. And let's face it; wine? Even if the jelly didn't work I could have a blast drinking the leftovers! However: the jelly not only worked, it's so unusual and tummy warming without being too sweet - I've eaten it by the spoonful.
I grew up watching my Grandmother can and jam, but as a kid didn't pay much attention to the how, just the rewards. The impressions that stayed are: boiling water making the windows steam over in the kitchen, jars and jars sitting on muslin (lining the table, window sills and counters), sugar bags with cups inside for easy access, lemons squeezed by her farm hands until nothing remained but dry yellow shells, the smell of hot fruit and the music of the lids as they pinged to an air-tight hug. Canning and jamming is a time honored tradition that is centuries old and yet has returned to be a truly hip and happening culinary art form.

If you haven't tried making jam yet, it might be because you've fallen for the fear tactics, as the famous and talented sugar artist, June Taylor, explained in a workshop I took with her in Berkley, CA last year.

June Taylor Jams and Preserved Fruits are famously delicious. If you ever have the chance to take a workshop with her, you'll find her to be generous with her vast knowledge, completely passionate about her craft and inspiring. (After two of her seasonal workshops, I started selling my own creations.)

As June expressed: Some where in the 1950's American home cooks were convinced (mostly by the expanding "convenience food" processing companies) that it was a waste of time for people to cook at home when they could buy it, zap it, or reheat it in a few minutes. The idea of actually PRESERVING it yourself was old fashion and could kill you if not done by a large corporation. It created a generation of folks who felt embarrassed to actually cook or preserve daily food.

Thankfully, we are rediscovering how important fresh seasonal food is for our families and our communities, and how easy and modern it is to extend our seasons and talents by creating our own jars of treats and savories. Instead of eating those tasteless dollar jars of "almost fruit" jams; Learn the easy basics, and like anything else; you CAN make your own.
(adapted from Mes Confitures, by the world reknown Christine Ferber, and using skills and techniques taught by June Taylor)

6 Large Oranges (making about 2 cups juice)
Zest from those oranges
5 Granny Smith Apples
6 cups Sugar
1 cup Pinot Noir
1 lemon (juiced)
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp. ground clove
1 tsp. ground cardamom

Cut apples into quarters, cover with water and boil for about 20-30 minutes.
Pour soft apples and the juice through a cheesecloth or jam bag and press on the bag to get all the juice. Let the juice sit in the refrigerator over night so the sediment can settle. The next day, filter again through cheese cloth and save juice.

Zest the Oranges and boil them in water to cover for 10 minutes, drain and save. Then, squeeze juice from Oranges and filter through a cheesecloth, saving the seeds and pulp in the cheesecloth.
In a large pan, preferably a preserving pan, add the orange juice, the juice from one lemon, the apple juice, the zest, cinnamon stick, cardamon, cloves, sugar, and the tied-up cheese cloth full of seeds and orange pulp.

Bring this to a boil, skim, and keep boiling for about 12 minutes while stirring now and then. Remove the cheese cloth and cinnamon stick. Pour in the Pinot Noir and continue boiling until the temp reaches about 220F.

[Or check for your set using this method: Keep a small plate in the freezer. When checking the set, spoon a small bit onto the cold plate and if it has a "shoulder" to it (a bit of a rise), or you can drag a finger through the mixture leaving a clear path, you're good to go for a loose gell. Remove the preserving pan from the heat while you check this.

Pour your jelly into prepared jars, place them in readied water bath, boil for 10 minutes, carefully remove and wait to hear the song-of-pings when the tops close tight on your success.
This jelly is amazing on toast and muffins or bread, but also adds quite a zing to cheeses and meats.
Hope you'll try this; and let me know so I can admire you.

Quote from my adorable daughter: "I didn't think I'd like this, I don't like marmalade and seeing the zest made me think ewww, but it's not marmalade it's just really delicious jelly and I can taste the wine and it doesn't have that "way too sweet" thing going on. I love it! "

Monday, January 18, 2010

Nutella Coconut Quick Bread - It's kinda, sorta Breakfast.

What can I say about Nutella that hasn't been said before? We all know how creamy, rich, mind numbingly good it tastes, but did you know that (according to the Nutella USA website) it can be a part of a nutritious breakfast? That is as long as you add a whole pear, a whole orange, a glass of orange juice, a glass of milk, a slice of wheat bread and a strawberry to it. That just made me laugh, since I think if you put those things together - a chocolate fudge sundae can be a healthy breakfast, too. However, with that in mind, this Nutella Coconut Quick Bread is definitely a fabulous breakfast bread.Also, on the Nutella site in the question section they give this answer to -

"How can I get some Nutella® recipes?

Nutella® has such a special taste, we believe the best way to enjoy it is to simply spread it on your favorite bakery food.

What's THAT about? For the last few months I've had a great time developing and researching fabulous recipes using the versatile Nutella and based on a great idea by Bell'Alimento. Check her site for a ton of unique recipes that are all part of the Nutella Challenge. ALSO: There is a 4th annual WORLD NUTELLA DAY planned for February 5 by a couple of very passionate food bloggers and Nutella fans. See their site for the longest list of recipes ever. This Quick Bread is just that: quick and easy. The Nutella keeps it from being too dry, and the toasted coconut adds great "toothiness" to the already earthy flavors. One of the things I like most about it is how it's not too sweet. In fact, it tastes amazing with jam on a toasted slice with a cup of coffee. Of course, a whole pear, a whole orange, a strawberry, a glass of milk and a glass of orange juice would be good too.

Enjoy, and if you make it, let me know how YOU served it.

Quote from my Sister-in-Law visiting me: "Did you MAKE this? I'd BUY this!"


3 cups Flour
3/4 cup Brown Sugar
1 Tbls. baking powder

1/2 cup coconut (toasted first)

1 egg

1/2 cup Nutella

1 cup Milk (skim or whole)

1 tsp. vanilla

salt to taste

Sift all dry ingredients together into a bowl (flour, sugar, baking powder, salt), then stir in toasted coconut.

In another bowl, Beat together the egg, milk, Nutella, and vanilla.

Fold all ingredients together and pour into a loaf pan.

Cook in oven preheated to 350 F -- for 55 minutes.
Let cool for a few minutes in the pan before turning out.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Smokey Pork Satay - Daring Cooks January 2010

I don't wanna rub it in, but it's January and I GRILLED Pork Satay OUTSIDE, on the patio, in short sleeves. It's one of the big reasons I love living in California. I grew up in North Carolina and I miss the varied and equal climates; 4 distinctive seasons, but I do NOT miss cold weather. Another reason I love living here is the opportunity to meet, experience and learn about so many different cultures; most of the time right next door. Thai food has become one of my favorites, so when this month's DARING COOKS CHALLENGE was Pork Satay it dude.

The January 2010 DC challenge was hosted by Cuppy of Cuppylicious and she chose a delicious Thai-inspired recipe for Pork Satay from the book 1000 Recipes by Martha Day.

Even Cuppy was clear that this recipe is not exactly authentic Thai or Indonesian, but a simple and pretty terrific English version of a great Thai dish. Satay is also made with Chicken, Beef, Lamb, Tofu and in some regions, even Turtle. Credit for its origin is often given to the Javanese street-vendors. All over Southeast Asia there are still street vendors selling Satays along with the highest price restaurants. I enjoyed making and serving these Thai-inspired skewers, but certainly agree that it's a "soft" version of a classic.

A couple things this recipe does have in common with authentic Malaysian, and Indonesian recipes are: Using Tumeric, for the color and earthy base, and marinating for deep flavor and tenderness.

I used Pork Tenderloin for mine (just because I already had it), but much cheaper and tougher cuts can be used since the marinade will help break down muscle fibers and make the meat melt-in-your-mouth tender.

I marinaded the pork slices in a large zip-lock bag, (along with the scraps that I used later for a quick Wok-lunch) in a bowl held in the refrigerator overnight.

I made the Peanut Sauce a day early, then reheated it with a little Coconut Milk and served it on the plate in a Cucumber bowl cut from the end of the cucumber along with some Rice Vinegar- marinated Cucumber slices.
I threaded the marinated pork strips onto wooden skewers (that had soaked in water for about 30 minutes to reduce having them burn.) Then, I grilled the Pork Satay over Med/High heat for about 5 minutes on each side, glazing with marinate once when I turned them.
This was a pretty simple process (especially as Daring Cook's Challenges go.) You can broil these in the oven, too, and serve with flavorful rice and a light salad; a healthy, easy, light dinner and kids always think the skewers are fun and different. Thanks, Cuppy!

Husband said, "These are smokey, in a great way."

Pork Satay with Peanut Sauce

Satay Marinade

1/2 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 T ginger root, chopped (optional) (2 cm cubed)
2 T lemon juice (1 oz or 30 mls)
1 T soy sauce (0.5 oz or 15 mls)
1 tsp ground coriander (5 mls)
1 tsp ground cumin (5 mls)
1/2 tsp ground turmeric (2-2.5 mls)
2 T vegetable oil (or peanut or olive oil) (30 mls)
1 pound of pork (loin or shoulder cuts) (16 oz or 450g)

Feeling the need to make it more Thai? Try adding a dragon chili, an extra tablespoon of ginger root, and 1 tablespoon (0.5 oz or 15 mls) of fish sauce. (I keep some premature (still green) dragon chili peppers in the freezer for just such an occasion.)

1a. Cheater alert: If you have a food processor or blender, dump in everything except the pork and blend until smooth. Lacking a food processor, I prefer to chop my onions, garlic and ginger really fine then mix it all together in a medium to large bowl.
2a. Cut pork into 1 inch strips.
3a. Cover pork with marinade. You can place the pork into a bowl, cover/seal and chill, or place the whole lot of it into a ziplock bag, seal and chill.

Faster (cheaper!) marinade:

2 T vegetable oil (or peanut or olive oil) (1 oz or 30 mls)
2 T lemon juice (1 oz or 30 mls)
1 T soy sauce (0.5 oz or 15 mls)
1 tsp ginger powder (5 mls)
1 tsp garlic powder (5 mls)
1 tsp cayenne pepper (5 mls)

1b. Mix well.
2b. Cut pork into 1 inch thick strips (2-2.5 cm thick), any length.
3b. Cover pork with marinade. You can place the pork into a bowl, cover/seal and chill, or place the whole lot of it into a ziplock bag, seal and chill.

Cooking Directions (continued):

4. If using wooden or bamboo skewers, soak your skewers in warm water for at least 20 minutes before preparing skewers.
5. Gently and slowly slide meat strips onto skewers. Discard leftover marinade.*
6. Broil or grill at 290°C/550° F (or pan fry on medium-high) for 8-10 minutes or until the edges just start to char. Flip and cook another 8-10 minutes.

* If you’re grilling or broiling, you could definitely brush once with extra marinade when you flip the skewers.

Peanut Sauce

3/4 cup coconut milk (6 oz or 180 mls)
4 Tbsp peanut butter (2 oz or 60 mls)
1 Tbsp lemon juice (0.5 oz or 15 mls)
1 Tbsp soy sauce (0.5 oz or 15 mls)
1 tsp brown sugar (5 mls)
1/2 tsp ground cumin (2.5 mls)
1/2 tsp ground coriander (2.5 mls)
1-2 dried red chilies, chopped (keep the seeds for heat)

1. Mix dry ingredients in a small bowl. Add soy sauce and lemon, mix well.
2. Over low heat, combine coconut milk, peanut butter and your soy-lemon-seasoning mix. Mix well, stir often.
3. All you’re doing is melting the peanut butter, so make your peanut sauce after you’ve made everything else in your meal, or make ahead of time and reheat.

Pepper Dip (optional)

4 Tbsp soy sauce (2 oz or 60 mls)
1 Tbsp lemon juice (0.5 oz or 15 mls)
1 tsp brown sugar (5 mls)
1-2 dried red chilies, chopped (keep the seeds for heat)
1 finely chopped green onion (scallion)

Mix well. Serve chilled or room temperature.

Tamarind Dip (optional)

4 Tbsp tamarind paste (helpful link below) (2 oz or 60 mls)
1 Tbsp soy sauce (0.5 oz or 15 mls)
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 finely chopped green onion (scallion)
1 tsp brown or white sugar, or to taste (about 5 mls)

Mix well. Serve chilled or room temperature.

Tips for grilling tofu:

More on wooden and bamboo skewers:

More dips and sauces:

How to make tamarind paste:

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Rosemary Tuna Sliders w/Pickled Red Cabbage (and What is Paper Chef?)

This is about my Paper Chef entry. How do I explain Paper Chef? Maybe you've watched one of the varied Chef competitions where each contestant is given a surprise box of unrelated ingredients to turn into something that doesn't look like they were given a surprise box of unrelated ingredients? Well, the monthly food blogger challenge called Paper Chef is like that. For the month of January, the ingredients were: Tuna, Rosemary, Red Cabbage and the idea of "new".
Rosemary Tuna Sliders w/Pickled Red Cabbage on Homemade Butter Buns
The winner of the previous month's challenge picks three ingredients from a compiled list, then adds another one of their choosing and...boom...we go off and create a dish. If you read my blog much, it's pretty clear; That's right up my food aisle.

This month's judging and choosing is Lucullian Delights, who has a wonderful blog and I always enjoy reading the tweets from @lucullian, too.

For my dish, I used my NEW Bread Machine to make sweet butter dough and turned that into mini home-made rolls w/ black sesame seeds.

I purchased the "NEWEST" piece of TUNA I could find. I chopped that into fine cubes and mixed it with a frothy beaten egg white, salt, pepper and finely chopped fresh ROSEMARY, then sauteed each little Tuna Slider in Rosemary infused Olive Oil.
I mandoline-sliced the RED CABBAGE and did a quick pickling of it with Rice Wine Vinegar, a dash of Balsamic Vinegar, a bit of minced Shallot, sugar, salt and pepper. I created a Stoneground Mustard & Rosemary condiment to balance the earthy, sweet and tangy tiny-burger, and topped each one with a Rosemary sprig garnish. I will not be shy about telling you that these were absolutely consumed so fast at my house I was lucky to get a photo of 3 of them on a plate. I have to thank this month's Paper Chef for helping me find a great new Appetizer and a probable addition to my catering menu.

QUOTE: My son said, "How did you get this stuff to be purple?"

ROSEMARY TUNA SLIDERS w/ Pickled Red Cabbage on a Homemade Mini-Roll
(makes about 12)

1/2 lb. Freshest Tuna - chopped very fine
1 egg white - beaten just til frothy
1 Tbls. minced fresh Rosemary
salt/pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients very well in a bowl (or pulse a few times in Processor)
Make small patties using a heaping Tbls. of Tuna mixture and Saute on Med/High heat in a pan coated with Rosemary infused Olive oil (or regular Olive oil).
Cook for only about 2 minutes on each side, be careful to not dry out the Tuna.

For Pickled Cabbage:
2 cups of thinly sliced Red Cabbage (using a mandoline or carefully with a knife)
1 Tbls. minced Shallot
3 Tbls. Rice Wine Vinegar
Splash of Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tbls. Sugar (or Agave)
salt/pepper to taste

In a small bowl, mix vinegars and sugar to dissolve the sugar. Stir in the shallot, salt and pepper. Add the Cabbage, toss to coat, and marinade for at least 1 hour.

For the Rosemary Mustard Condiment:

Whisk together 2 Tbls. of Stoneground mustard with 1Tbls. finely minced fresh Rosemary. Drizzle in, while whisking, 1/4 cup Olive Oil until emulsified. Spread liberally on the bottom of each bun.

The homemade buns were made in the Zojirushi Bread Machine which I highly recommend.
I hope you'll check out the other entries at Paper Chef, and maybe even join us for February?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Warm Napa Cabbage w/Black Rice

A person can only eat just so many salads in repentance of their holiday gorging, unless:

The salad is warm (like cozy fattening food, but not),
The salad has some carbs (that make me feel like I'm being bad without being bad),
The salad has a lot of flavor (enough to squelch my feeling of depravity.)

Meet such a salad:
Warm Napa Cabbage w/Black Rice

AND, if ya wanna pump up the zing: Add a few Salt & Pepper Shrimp

This month's Veggie pick for the Beet n' Squash You event (organized by Mel/ Gourmet Fury and Leela/ She Simmers) is Napa Cabbage, sometimes known as Chinese White Cabbage. It's so versatile and packed with good things for your body that you almost can't go wrong with the preparation. Napa Cabbage can be braised, grilled, sauteed, chopped raw, sliced and slivered for slaw, steamed and wrapped around fish, and pickled.

Selfishly, I wanted it several ways at once. Yes, I have an issue with commitment to one idea (it has cost me a lot of money to be able to say that out loud.) That's not my only issue, of course, but that's a whole other kind of blog.

Back to the Napa at hand: Aren't these the most beautiful stalks of lacy leaves in the cabbage world?
For this salad, begin prep by washing and drying the separate leaves. Then cut the white stalks away from the leaves. Keep the leafy part for making a raw leaf bowl around the salad, later. To make a salad that serves four; cut 2 cups of sliced up stalk.
Combine the sliced stalks with 1 med. sliced onion. Heat a Saute Pan with a 1Tbls. of oil and add the onions and cabbage stalks. Season with salt and pepper and cook on low/med until slightly caramelized. Add 6-8 sliced mushrooms to the pan and continue cooking til wilted. It's optional, but really adds some bite to throw in a dash of Sriracha (Chinese Chili Sauce.)

While these are slow cooking, start the Black Rice. This can be made according to directions that come with your purchase of Chinese Black Rice, but also I used Vegetable stock instead of water or Chicken Stock. Drain the rice, fluff with a fork and keep warm.

When all components are ready, toss together and season to taste.

Use the leafy ends of the left-over Napa Cabbage to make a small bowl on a plate to contain the Warm Rice Salad.

For the Salt & Pepper Shrimp: Use peeled, whole shrimp tossed in just a bit of cornstarch with large granule salt and ground pepper. Saute in a pan with 1 Tbls. hot oil for about 3 minutes on each side. Add a few of these to the top and garnish with minced cucumber.

The raw Napa leaves make a great palate cleanser after the warm rice is gone from your plate.

For other fabulous ideas using Napa Cabbage, click here to see the Beet n' Squash You Hall of Fame. You're also welcome to join us for next month!

Pichelsteiner; You Heard Me. It's a Let's Lunch Bunch Stew

When it gets cold, even in California, it's time for Stew! I was more than happy to have a good hearty stew be the choice for this month's "Let's Lunch" bunch (a casual group of folks on Twitter that agree to join in on a virtual lunch-date every month.) For my cozy concoction this month I chose to make a Pichelsteiner; a classic 3 meat German stew that could warm the heart of a glaciated wolverine. My daughter's fiance, Potsch, is from Munich originally. For Christmas Eve I wanted to make him something that would recall his family holidays in Germany. His mom usually makes Beef Goulash (and you never tread on another mother's traditions), so I needed a different Bavarian Classic. I found a wonderful book, Germany Culinaria, that was very detailed about the food cultures and various regions. It had gorgeous pictures of the very places my husband and I visited in Munich last summer when Chris, (Potsch's Uncle) treated us like royalty in his absolutely cozy and beautiful Hotel and Restaurant, Der Tannenbaum. If you ever have the chance to go, let me know; it's one of the friendliest cities I've ever visited. Potsch was thrilled to have Pichelsteiner (which he made sound so great with the accent and everything) and the rest of us certainly ate our share, too. The recipe is very simple, on purpose; no one wants to be stuck in the kitchen cooking while everyone else is having fun in the living room with music, gifts, and laughs. (Beef, Pork, Veal - cubed with Carrots, Celeriac Root, Leeks, Potatoes, Parsley and Stock) One of the best parts about this stew is how well it freezes, or tastes for lunch the next day. Like most stews; it improves with a little time to marinade the flavors. I just know you'll love the stew ideas from the rest of my virtual lunch mates; just go on Twitter and search using the word #LetsLunch (the hash mark denotes a topic of conversation). And maybe you'd like to join us next month. We've made BLT's, Soups, Salads, Left-overs, Desserts and now-- Stews.

Just like the rules of structure and grammar give the needed tension to poetry that really moves us, so does being given a "challenge" for us self-proclaimed gourmands.

{ALSO; a little side note here - One of our spunky #letslunch gals is sitting in a hospital right this minute, and will hopefully read our lunch posts today. Take a moment to check out her cavalcade of recipes and stories at GeoFooding. Sending you a big-blogging-hug, Karen}

Lets Lunch Bloggers:
A Tiger In The Kitchen
Cowgirl Chef
Bon Vivant
The Cosmic Cowgirl
Pinch My Salt
Serve It Forth

1lb. Pork (cubed)
1lb. Veal (cubed)
1lb. Beef (cubed)
2 Tbls. Clarified butter
1lb. Potatoes (cubed)
2 Leeks (cut in ring slivers)
3 Carrots (cut in thin disks)
1/2 Celeriac Root
32 oz. Meat Stock
1 Tbls. Parsley (chopped)
Salt & Pepper

In a large bowl, combine all the veggies. In another bowl, combine all the meat.
In a large pot, melt the clarified butter on low/med. Add a layer of meat to the bottom of the pot, then a layer of veggies (salt and pepper). Continue to layer the meat, then veggies and seasonings until all is used. Pour the Stock over and just to cover. Heat the stew mixture to a simmer, then cover and cook on low for about 2 hours. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley to serve.
As they say in Munich: An Guadn

Monday, January 4, 2010

Hang-Over Pop-Overs for Breakfast at Noon.

Yes, it was the day after a party. You know...that kind of party where you wake up the next day really hungry and realize maybe that's because it's already afternoon? I wanted food, but it had to be light and filling at the same time. Sausage and Orange Mini-Popovers
I don't do the drink and party thing a lot (stop laughing, I'm serious.) But, we were out-of-town and it was the holidays, so no driving and no real adult responsibilities - ya take 'em when ya can get 'em. We were staying with my husband's parents in Chicago and both of them had left for work that day. "We could go out for breakfast," offered my adorable hubby. But then I looked out the window at Chicago's 8 degree weather:
I had just recently downloaded this sweet little application onto my iPhone; Michael Ruhlman's RATIO. In my blurry-eyed waking, I flipped through a few of the ratios for ideas of something I could throw together and landed on Popovers. I knew my Mother-in-law, who is a wonderful cook, would have a muffin tin even if she didn't have a "made for popover" pan.

When I opened up the fridge for the required eggs, etc. I spied the delicious leftover Sausage and Peppers that she had made for dinner the night before last and some fresh orange juice.

My thinking went like this:

I love orange sauce with pork, my husband loves sausages for breakfast; why not Sausage Popovers with an orange juice (instead of milk) base?

I ended up using the mini-tins (I have a thing for small food, what a caterer-head I am), and they were perfect for keeping it easy to pick up and nibble while reading the paper, checking emails, etc.

I may try the ratio again, but add more fat content like most popover recipes contain. Without the cream that would've been in the milk and a little more fat, it was missing some of the "over the top pop", but were scrumptious regardless - according to my sweet hubby.

I'm actually more of a vegetable, grains and fruit person than a meat person, but when we visit Chicago I end up eating more meat in a few days than in a few months at home in California. A few hours after our Sausage Orange Popovers it started snowing again.
So what did we do? Went to Michael's Hotdogs in Highland Park (north of Chicago) and wolfed down cheese fries and Chicago Dogs like we had not eaten in days.

Then, spent the rest of the afternoon in the Museum of Science and Industry.
Now that we've returned home, guess I'll be checking those ratios for how to make food using only water until I can lose these "holiday handles". Yeah right, who am I kidding?


(I wanted to make only a few, so increase if needed)

1/2 cup orange juice
1 egg
scant 1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup chopped fine, fully cooked spicy sausage
1 Tbl. melted butter for pan

In a bowl, beat egg with orange juice, salt and pepper.
Add flour and sausage; mix well.
Drizzle melted butter into mini muffin tin (makes about 8)
Pour about 3/4 full into 8 places in muffin tin.

Cook in preheated oven at 450F for 5 minutes, reduce to 325F - cook for 15 minutes.