Thursday, December 17, 2009

Dead blogs...

Surfing the net, I come across many blogs in which the writers haven't written in months or even years. Makes you wonder, what happened to them? [I was one of them once. I had this blog for a year and I remember I stopped because I lost interest in writing about my life. Then I decided to write about other interesting stuff other than my life] Question such as what happened to them? Did they forgot their password? Or did they died??? come into mind.
Many people die, but they leave their unfinished business in the internet. There should be a job for someone to collect or clean out what ever is lost and never be use again. When I read the last thing they wrote, I think to myself, 'was this what they wanted to write or where they planning on editing some more later?'
All these questions where brought on by a book that I am reading. A woman writes to her best friend about her day and how she misses him. As she send the email, her best friend dies in a terrorist attack. That last email is lost in that man's inbox. There will be no one to open it and read that letter. That letter is lost. That email account will forever be lost, too. That letter was unknowingly her last letter to him, and he never got the chance to read it. Lost words. Lost message...

Okay I am just rambling.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pistachio-Cranberry Biscotti


Pistachio-Cranberry Biscotti

So here is the recipe of these wonderful biscotti. I made another batch last night with my little sister. I got the recipe from Martha Stewart, though slightly altered. Here it is:

Ingredient:
1/2 c dried cranberries
1/2 c boiling water
2 1/2 c all purpose flour
1/2 c whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
4 tbsp soften butter
1/2 c white sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1/2 c firmly packed brown sugar
3 large eggs, plus one egg lightly beaten
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp cold brewed coffee
1/2 c mix of roughly and fine chop unsalted pistachios

Steps:
1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. Place the cranberries is a small bowl with the boiling water, set aside for 15 minute
s. Drain, ans set aside.
3. In a bowl shift flours, salt, and baking powder.
4. In another bowl cream together the butter and the sugars together. Add the eggs (only three), one at a time. Then mix in the vanilla and the coffee.
5. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet
ingredients, in small batches.
6. Fold in the pistachios and the cranberries. In a floured surface, turn out the dough. Knead to incorporate the pistachio and cranberries better.
7. Divide the dough in half and make two logs of equal size (about 16x2 inches). Place onto the baking sheet. With the palm of your hand gently press down, flattening the logs. Brush the logs with the beaten egg. Sprinkle generously with sugar.
8. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until slightly firm to the touch ( remember to rotate the baking pan halfway through).
9. Place to cool in a cooling rack for 15 minutes, reduce oven temperature to 300 F.
10. Cut the logs into 1/2 inches slices. Place in a greased cookie sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn off oven and let the biscotti in for 15 minutes. Then bring out of the oven and enjoy.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

My sister's tea party went well. There were only two of her friend due to the incoming dreaded finals week. The menu was the following:
-Cranberry Pistachio Icebox cookies,
-Raspberry mini cheesecakes,
-Mini brownies,
-Honey and Walnut biscuits,
- Thin cucumber sandwiches,
-pineapple cupcakes;

but after contemplating on the menu, I changed some of the items. Instead of making cranberry-pistachio cookies, I made biscotti. And instead of raspberry cheesecakes, I made strawberries cheesecakes with tiny heart made from the strawberry sauce [funny thing happened that a few of the cheesecake crack, the crack ran across the hearts, what a bad omen!!!]. I did not have time to make the cucumber sandwiches because my sister wanted to make Chilaquiles ( a mexican dish that she had just learned to make herself) to show off her cooking skills :) I made the honey walnut biscuits with whole wheat flour (was rying to be healthy) Bad idea. I did not like how they tasted or how they smell. I am going to stick with white flour for now until i have the courage to try another 'healthy' recipe.
Instead of pineapple cupcakes, I made flour-less chocolate cupcakes, for a friends grandmother who is glucose-intolerant from Martha Stewart book, Cupcakes . They had a chocolate mousse texture, mi mom said they taste a bit weird, so I ate one, as as you know chocolate makes me sick, but when i tasted them they were not bad, as long as you are not expecting the classic cupcake taste of chocolate bread [I had a bad stomachache that night but i had to make sure that they were ok]. I serve these flour-less cakes with sliced strawberries, which were called the "pi├Ęce de resistance" of the whole treat :) Unfortunately I did not have the chance to take picture but I will post the recipe for each of these treat when I make them again and I will post the photographs along with the recipe. I will probably invite anyone who read this to cocme and eat them.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tea Party

My sister is having a tea party on Saturday, and she has ask me if i can make her all the pastries. She wants a large variety. Some of the treat I am thinking of making are the following:

-Cranberry Pistachio Icebox cookies
-Raspberry mini cheesecakes
-Mini brownies
-Honey and Walnut biscuits
- Thin cucumber sandwiches
-pineapple cupcakes

All accompanied by White temple Tea, from A.C Perch's Thehandel (Best tea shop for all tea
lovers, can be bought online, but the experience of going to this store is phenomenal. Its
an old family own shop were they use different metal weights and a 1800's balance and an even older cash register. The service was great too, they are friendly and they are happy to give as much as of their time as needed; though there is always a long line to get
service.)

I'm going to try and just make 1/4 of each recipes, to have a few of each. I'll post pictures once I make them on Friday evening.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Cooking books

Yesterday as I got home, my neighbor was waiting for me. He wanted to know if I wanted any cooking books. His wife had just passed away and he was cleaning out her stuff. So as I was sitting in her neat living room skimming through books after books I felt that I was getting to know my neighbor. I learned that she loved Italian food and she was a song writer. She would write song and compose on her Yamaha piano and send them out to different companies. My neighbor told me that she loved to go to book stores and new books about cooking all the time. It sadden me that it had to take her dying to get to know her. What I heard was that she really enjoyed the treats that I send her: some home made Krispy Kreme style doughnut, cheesecakes, hamburgers, etc. But thanks to my neighbor I know have a larger selection of recipes to draw upon.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Eggplant Parmigiana

Last Wednesday, Veteran's Day I tried to make eggplant parmigiana from a recipe that my friend gave me. I had been craving it for weeks and i did not want to ask my friend to make it for me so I attempted to do it myself. This was one of my biggest disasters ever, [it looked good but was way too salty] word of advice when adding salt keep trap of how many type you added salt. I was in making dinner and writing my analysis paper for class, and for some reason i did not remember how much I added salt to the sauce. I tasted the eggplant when i was done frying it but i did not taste the marinara sauce. When the dish came out it was way to salty and nothing, not even unsalted pasta could take away the saltiness. My poor family pretended it was good and ate a little, but in the middle of the night we were not feeling good. Too much salt in your system make you feel nauseous and get a bad headache. Next time I make this wonderful dish I am going to write down the amount of salt used or just ask my friend to make the sauce herself. Hers is awesome.

Here is the recipe, keep track on the amount of salt (this reminds me of another incident when I was young, I'll write about it later on).

Eggplant Parmigiana

Ingredients
2 Medium eggplants, cut into 1/2 inches thick round slices
As needed All-purpose flour
15 oz. Italian breadcrumbs
6 large Eggs, beaten
2 tbsp whole milk
As needed Vegetable oil, for frying
As needed Marinara Sauce
2/3 c Grated Parmesan cheese
1 lb Grated mozzarella cheese

Marinara Sauce

3 tbsp Olive oil
8 oz onion finely diced
5 garlic cloves, firmly chopped
2(28 oz) canned tomatoes
2 fresch thyme sprigs
2 fresh sprigs of basil
to taste salt (********to taste, very vital words)
to taste ground black pepper

Procedure:
1. Preheat oven to 400 F
2. For eggplant:
-place flour nad breadcrumbs each individually in a container. In a bowl, wh
isk the eggs and milk together.
-Dredge an eggplant slice in flour, then dip it in the egg mixture, and finally dredge it in the breadcrumbs. Shake of any excess breading and transfer the eggplant to a baking sheet. repeat with the remaining eggplant.
-In a large skillet/fryer, pour the oil to depth of 1/2 inch. Heat th eoil over th emedium heat, until it reaches 375 F.
-Working with small batches, fry the eggplant slices, turning
once, until golden brown. Using tongs, transfer to a paper-lined baking sheet and season lightly with salt. repeat with the remaining eggplant.
3. For sauce:
- Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Sweat the onion, until translucent and then add the garlic, and cook for about 1 minute.
-Add the tomatoes, and herbs; bring to a boil.
-Then lower the heat to simmer, cover, for 20 minutes.
-Remove and discard the sprigs.
-Season to taste.
-Pass through the blender/food mill.
4. To assemble:
-Lightly brush a baking dish with olive oil. Cover the bottom of the baking dish with 1/3 of the marinara sauce. Scatter half of the eggplant over the sauce.
-Cover the eggplant with another 1/3 of the sauce.
-Scatter half of the parmesan cheese and half of the mozzarella cheese over the sauced eggplant.
-Repeat with remaining eggplant, sauce, parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese.
-Bake until hot and bubbly. Just when its beginning to brown, about 30 minutes.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Crepes

Ever since I had crepes for breakfast every morning in Paris,France, I have loved these treats. I make these once in a while and when I do, I am eating them throughout the day. They are so light and delicious and while you can refrigerate them and eat them later, they are best right out of the skillet. With a dab of melting butter and sprinkled sugar, it is so delicious (just thinking about it makes my mouth water). My sisters like them with Nutella spread. Here is the recipe, it is a very simple recipe as long as you are patient while cooking them.
Crepes

3 eggs
1 c whole milk
2/3 c water
1 c all purpose flour
4 tbsp melted butter
1/4 tsp salt

1. Mix everything together with a blender until it has a creamy consistency. Cover and refrigerate for 30 to overnight (this is make sure that the butter thickens up the batter).

2. Heat up a nonstick skillet over a medium heat. Lightly grease the skillet with some butter. scoop 1/4 cup of batter starting in the center and pouring in a circular motion to the sides of the crepes, also by tilting the pan to get a thin layer of batter. After a minute or until the edges curl flip the crepe carefully fro 30 seconds.


3. Place on a plate and spread Nutella; or butter with sugar or strawberries and whipped cream or...

use you imagination. Anything can go with crepes even tuna salad or eggs. They are great on their own too.


The crepes in Paris are huge you can't see it here but these are about 3-4 feet in diameter. One is a whole meal. Small ones are nice and easy to make at home but making these huge one requires having the right tools and lots and lots of skills. And these guys make them in front of you and I never saw them mess up. (not my photograph)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Thanksgiving Turkey

Last year my sister was in Denmark and she wrote me to email her the recipe on how to make a Thanksgiving dinner. She wanted to show her host family a traditional dinner. Here is what I send her with some new tricks I learned last Thanksgiving. Every year I learn new ways to improve.

TUrkey

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 turkey, approx. 15 lbs.*
  • Juice of a lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil or melted butter
  • 1/2 yellow onion, peeled and quartered
  • Tops and bottoms of a bunch of celery
  • 2 carrots
  • Parsley
  • Sprigs of fresh rosemary, thyme

[* Need help figuring out how big a turkey to get? Butterball has a turkey calculator that helps you figure out just how many pounds you need. In general, plan for:

12-15 lb turkey for 10-12 people
15-18 lb turkey for 14-16 people
18-22 lb turkey for 20-22 people]

METHOD

1 First defrost the turkey, if it is frozen, you will need to defrost it in the refrigerator for several days first. Allow approximately 5 hours of defrosting for every pound. So, if you have a 15 pound turkey, it will take about 75 hours to defrost it in the refrigerator, or around 3 days. Then the night before, first remove the neck and giblets (heart, gizzard, liver). Place the turkey in orange juice, coke, and rose wine, and spices (anything that the family likes).Place in the refrigerator over night.

The next day place the turkey outside and make sure it is room temperature.

*Handle a raw turkey with the same amount of caution as when you handle raw chicken - use a separate cutting board and utensils to avoid contaminating other foods. Wash you hands with soap before touching anything else in the kitchen. Use paper towels to clean up.*

2 Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

3 Drain out the turkey of the brine (orange juice and stuff). Pull out any remaining feather stubs in the turkey skin. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels. Lather the inside of the cavity with the juice of half a lemon and then cover the turkey with butter, making small holes on the skin so the butter is inside the skin. Take a small handful of salt and rub all over the inside of the turkey.


4 In this method of cooking a turkey, we don't make the stuffing in the turkey because doing so adds too much to the cooking time. For flavor, put in inside the turkey a half a yellow onion, peeled and quartered, a bunch of parsley, a couple of carrots, and some tops and bottoms of celery. Close up the turkey cavity with either string (not nylon string!) or metal skewers. Make sure that the turkey's legs are tied together, held close to the body, and tie a string around the turkey body to hold the wings in close.

The neck cavity can be stuffed with parsley and tied closed with thin skewers and string.


5 Rub either melted butter or olive oil all over the outside of the turkey. Sprinkle salt generously all over the outside of the turkey. Sprinkle black pepper over the turkey.


6 Place turkey BREAST DOWN (very important to have a juicy trukey) on the bottom of a rack over a sturdy roasting pan big enough to catch all the drippings. Cooking the turkey breast down means the skin over the breast will not get so brown. However, all of the juices from the cooking turkey will fall down into the breast while cooking. And the resulting bird will have the most succulent turkey breast imaginable.

Add several sprigs of fresh (if possible) thyme and rosemary to the outside of the turkey.

7 Chop up the turkey giblets (gizzard, heart, liver). Put into a small saucepan, cover with water, and add salt. Bring to simmer for an hour or so to help make stock for the stuffing

8 Put the turkey in the oven. Check the cooking directions on the turkey packaging.

-recommended cooking time of about 15 minutes for every pound.

For example for the 15 lb turkey, start the cooking at 400 F for the first 1/2 hour. Then reduce the heat to 350 F for the next 2 hours. Then reduce the heat further to 225 F for the next hour to hour and a half.

If you want the breast to be browned as well, you can turn over the bird for the last 15-20 minutes of cooking, at an oven temp of 300°F. (Oven must be at least 250°F for browning to occur.)

Start taking temperature readings with a meat thermometer, by inserting deep into the thickest part of the turkey breast and thigh, a half hour before the turkey should be done. The dark meat in the thigh should be about 175 F. The white meat in the breast should be 160 F to 165 F. If you don't have a meat thermometer, spear the breast with a knife. The turkey juices should be clear, not pink.

9 Once you remove the turkey from the oven, let it rest for 15-20 minutes. Turn the turkey breast side up to carve it.

Stuffing

Ingredients

  • 1 Onion
  • 3 carrots
  • 2 potatoes
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • Turkey stock (cook the gizzard and the neck in 4 cups of water with a little bit of salt, in medium heat, for 30 minutes)

For the stuffing, it there is no box for stuffing bread, then you need a day old French bread. You can cut it into small dices. Then you can cut into tiny cubes, celery, potatoes, onion and carrot. Steamed cook these vegetables, and then when the potatoes are soft, place them in with the diced bread in a small baking pan. Put enough turkey stock to cover half of the bread and vegetables. Cover, and bake for 30 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees F.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Photographs

Looking at the previous post. I just noticed that the Photographs are really horrible. I need to start taking pictures with something else other than my phone camera. I wish i had a good camera so i can have good picture like other blogs.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pumpkin Cheesecake

I was searching last week a recipe, I don't even know what it was that I was looking for for, but it took me to this food blog, pinchmysalt.com, that had on its front page a wonderful photograph of bite size pumpkin cheesecakes. For two days I went back to that page just to look at the photograph, so when Friday came I decided to make these wonderful looking treats. (I remember now, I was looking at Red Velvet cake recipes) I made one batch and it was way too sweet for my liking so I decided to make another batch, less sweet. Here is the recipe:

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Crust
1 c crushed graham crackers
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp melted butter
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg

Filling
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 canned pumpkin
1 egg plus 1 egg white
1/4 c packed brown sugar
1/2 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves

Topping
1 c heavy cream
1/4 c powder (confectioner) sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1. Preheat the oven to 375 F

2. Butter small muffin tins, set aside.

3. In a bowl mix all the ingredient for the crust and scoop 1 tbsp of the crust into the bottom of the small muffin tins. Press the crust with you fingers so as to have a smooth even surface.

4. In a large bowl, cream together well the cream cheese and the canned pumpkin. Once it is well incorporated, add the eggs and the brown sugar, mix well. Add the maple syrup and the spices.
Mix well.

5. With an ice cream scoop, scoop batter into each muffin tin 2/3 of the way.

6. place in the oven and bake for 14 minutes. Remove from oven place in a cooling rack for 30 minutes. Afterward let the cheesecake set for 1 hour to overnight in the refrigerator.

7. Slowly remove the cheesecake from the tin.

8.For the topping, use a electric mixer to whip together the heavy cream , powder sugar, vanilla and cinnamon until you have soft stable peaks. Scoop a generous heap of topping on each mini cheesecakes.

9. Serve while still chilled and enjoy.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Banana Nut Muffins

Okay so I really did not want to do my reading for today so last night I baked some banana nut muffins. They were really good; they were moist but not too rich, with a great caramel-y top. I got it of TheFreshLoaf, but I altered some stuff. Here it is:
Banana Nut Muffins

Batter:
3/4 c butter
8 oz. cream cheese
1 c brown sugar
1 c white sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 c mashed riped bananas
1 c chopped walnuts

Topping:
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c finely chopped walnuts
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp melted butter
1 tbsp brewed cold coffee
1/4 c uncooked oatmeal
1/4 tsp cinnamon


Instruction:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

2. In a bowl cream together the butter and the cream cheese. Add the sugar and mix until fully incorporated. Add the eggs one at a time. Finally, add the vanilla. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, stirring a couple of times.

3. In a large bowl fully mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together. Add the butter mixture into the flour slowly.

4. Add in the mash bananas and bananas gently.

5. Spoon the batter into greased muffin pans, filling about two thirds.

6. In a small bowl mix all the ingredients for the filling. Scoop topping on top of the batter just in the center.

7. Place the muffin pans in the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

8. Let the muffins cool for 15 minutes and remove from pans.

9. Enjoy with iced cold milk or hot English breakfast tea.


*I tried this again for a friend's birthday and I did not have cream cheese but I did have cottage cheese and plain yogurt so I use 16 oz of cottage cheese (strained with a cheese clothe) and 1/4 cup of plan yogurt instead. They came out really good and since they were 'healthier' more people tried them and like them.