Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Thai Chicken Burgers

April 15, 2011

UPDATE: My husband suggested adding chopped water chestnuts to these burgers and it gave them the crunch and texture they need! I will be using water chestnuts in this recipe from now on.

I was looking online for new recipes using chicken or turkey and I came across this recipe for thai chicken meatballs. It sounded okay, but it needed some additions and changes, in my opinion. Here’s what I did with it.

Mix together the following:

1 lb. ground chicken

1/2 cup plain bread crumbs

1/4 cup chopped green onions

1/2 Tbsp. ground corriander

2 Tbsp. Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce

zest and juice of 1 lime

1 egg

1 large clove garlic, minced

1 inch ginger, grated

1 Tbsp. soy sauce

1 tsp. fish sauce

Form into burgers and cook for 5-6 minutes on each side either on a grill or in a pan on the stove. Top with a little more of the Sriracha sauce if you like it really spicy!


French Onion Risotto

March 31, 2011

Today is my husband’s birthday, but we celebrated with his birthday dinner last night. One of his favorite things that I make is risotto. I was going to just make plain risotto with shallots, garlic, chicken broth and parmesan. It’s a perfectly delicious dish. But then something happened.

Last weekend, my husband made his famous French onion soup. We had his sister and her boyfriend over and we all devoured it. They loved it so much, they wanted the recipe. So he sent it to them yesterday and copied me on the e-mail so I’d have it too. Then it hit me: combine the French onion soup recipe with my risotto recipe. Could it work? I had onions, I had thyme, port, bacon and gruyere left over from when he made the soup. Yep, I could make this happen without a trip to the market! So I did and now I’m sharing the recipe with you.

4 strips of center cut bacon

1 1/2 very large or 3 small onions, diced

2 Tbsp. salted butter

5 cups low fat, low sodium chicken or beef stock (veal stock would be ideal, but it’s hard to come by)

a few sprigs of thyme

1 bay leaf

2 cups arborrio rice

1/4 cup port

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 cup dry vermouth

1/3 cup grated gruyere cheese

parmesan cheese to taste

salt, if needed, to taste

1 Tbsp. heavy cream (optional)

1 tsp. truffle oil

Put the bacon in a large saute pan over medium heat and let the fat render out of it for about 5 minutes on each side, then remove if from the pan. You can either use the bacon for something else, or chop it up and sprinkle it on top of the risotto just before serving.

Turn the heat down to medium low and add the diced onions to the pan with the bacon fat. Cook them slowly for a long time until they are completely soft, a little translucent and starting to brown, stirring every few minutes. This could take a good 30-45 minutes, but it will be worth it. Be patient here, and it will really pay off.

In the meantime, put the stock into a pot and turn on the heat. Add in the thyme sprigs and bay leaf and bring to almost a boil. Turn the heat down to low and cover to keep hot.

Add the butter to the pan with the onions and turn the heat up to medium. Add in the rice and toast it in the fat/onion mixture until it just starts to brown and the grains start to look translucent.  Add in the port, balsamic vinegar and vermouth. Stir until it is all absorbed.

Now you start the process of slowly adding stock and stirring over and over again until your risotto is perfect. Add in 3/4 cup of stock, then stir until it’s completely absorbed. Do not let the rice mixture come to a boil. You want to cook it slowly. Repeat until you’ve used all the stock and the rice is tender, but still has a slight bite to it, al dente.

Add in the cream and the truffle oil, if you’re using it. I highly recommend you use that truffle oil. Yeah, it’s expensive but it will take the risotto from yummy to mind blowing. Now add in the cheese and taste for saltiness. If it needs salt, add it. Mine needed about 1/4 tsp. Eat up and enjoy!

Recipe makes enough for 4 people as a main dish or 6 people as a side dish. There are only two of us, so we have a lot left over. You’re not really supposed to serve left over risotto, but when have I ever followed the rules when it comes to food? I had it for breakfast this morning and it was delicious!

How to Cook a Butt

December 10, 2010

Yesterday, I went to Fresh and Easy and this giant butt was on sale for $2.88. I’ve never cooked a pork butt before, but it was so cheap, I had to buy it.

While I was in the store, I started thinking real hard about what I wanted to go with my butt. I got some onions, garlic, tomato sauce, fire roasted diced tomatoes and whiskey BBQ sauce. I knew I had some Smithwick’s beer at home that I could use too. 

Today I put the butt in the biggest cast iron pot I had, seasoned generously with pepper (no salt!) and then poured all that stuff into the pot and mixed it up.

I covered that pot and put it into a 450F oven for 2 hours. Then I turned the oven down to 200F and left it in another 2 hours. I checked it and there was a lot of liquid, so I took off the cover and put it back in that oven for 2 more hours. It probably only needed another 1/2 hour, but my husband wasn’t home for 2 more hours, so that’s how long it got cooked.

When we finally did eat it, it was tender and delicious and it didn’t need any seasoning! The salt in the tomato products and the BBQ sauce was enough. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of it shredded or pretty on a plate or anything because we were  just too darn hungry and busy eating it!

Cooking this butt was so easy and made a ton of meat. We’ll be eating leftovers this week and I’ll still probably have some left over to freeze. We ate it on hamburger buns like sloppy joes, but you could make BBQ tacos or sandwiches or just eat it with some coleslaw. So the next time you see a giant butt for cheap at the supermarket, don’t be scared of it. Embrace the butt!

Green Curry

October 29, 2010

This recipe for green curry is adapted from one I learned in culinary school. You’ll end up making a ton of paste that you can use several times. It’ll last a few weeks in the refrigerator or even longer in the freezer. Beware – the longer it sits, the hotter it gets!

For the curry paste:

6 Tbsp. ground coriander

4 Tbsp. ground cumin

2 Tbsp. ground black pepper

3 Tbsp. kosher salt

1.5 cups lemon grass

1.5 cups garlic

3/4 cup shallots

4 Tbsp. galangal

Zest of 6 limes

1-2 cups thai green chiles

1.5 cups cilantro

5 Tbsp. shrimp paste

2 Tbsp. fish sauce

juice of 1 lime

12 thai basil leaves

To make the curry paste, get out a food processor and blend everything above together. You’ll probably have to do it in batches. When you’re done, it will look like this:

For the dish:

2 small cans coconut milk

3 small chicken breasts

1 large onion

4 small eggplant

12 thai basil leaves

6 lime leaves

juice of 2 limes

salt to taste

Mix 5 heaping tablespoons of the curry paste with 2 small cans of coconut milk. Set aside. Put the remaining curry paste in the refrigerator or freezer.

Brown the chicken and onions until the chicken is almost cooked. Add in the eggplant. Stir in the coconut milk curry mixture. It should be enough to cover the chicken and veggies at least half way. Add in the thai basil and lime leaves. Please note, the lime leaves are NOT edible. Remove them before you eat! Let the whole thing simmer covered for at least 45 minutes or until the eggplant is done. Take out those lime leaves. Finally, add in the juice of 2 limes. Serve over jasmine rice.

Eggplant Marinara Sauce

September 24, 2010

My friend Heather M. has a garden. Wonderful things come out of this garden. She grows giant zucchini!

The tomato is there for size comparison. It’s not a big tomato or a small tomato, but an average sized tomato. But still – look at the size of that zucchini!

She has also given me peppers, tomatoes and, my favorite, Japanese eggplant.

My Grandma goes to a little produce stand in the North San Fernando Valley (a suburb of Los Angeles) once a month to get the most amazing, flavorful, huge, ripe tomatoes I’ve ever had. Here’s one next to a decent sized head of garlic:

I found myself with a bunch of tomatoes and a bunch of Heather’s Japanese eggplant that were about to go bad. So I decided to roast them with a bunch of other vegetables and make a marinara sauce with them. This sauce is deceptively simple, but has the most wonderful, creamy, hearty texture and delicious, rich, complex flavor.

Here’s what you do! Get out a big sheet pan. Cut 5 or 6 small Japanese eggplant in half. Peel and cut some onions in half (red and white). Cut the very top off a couple of heads of garlic and put them on the sheet pan – skin and all. Put some delicious tomatoes on there too. If you have room, you can also add peppers or any other veggies you feel like sneaking into the sauce. Coat all the veggies in olive oil, mixing them around with your hands. Wipe off your hands and then sprinkle them all generously with salt and pepper.

Pop them into a 450F oven for 40 minutes or until the eggplant are very soft and almost falling apart.

Take the veggies out and let them sit until they are cool enough to handle. Squeeze each garlic clove out of its skin and throw out the skins.

In the meantime, if you want mushrooms or other whole veggies in your sauce, saute them in a little olive oil in a big sauce pan. Now you should add whatever herbs you like: oregano, thyme, rosemary, fennel, and basil are all good. Next, deglaze the pan with a little white wine and cook until the alcohol is mostly cooked off. Now you’re ready to start blending!

Get out your trusty blender or food processor and blend up those roasted veggies in batches. Pour the resulting puree into the sauce pan with the other veggies and herbs. Mix well, taste for salt and add some if you need it. I usually don’t. Heat up and serve over the pasta of your choice with a little bit of a good quality parmesan grated on top. 

This is a great way to get a bunch of vegetables into you (or your kids) without feeling like you just ate a garden. The roasted garlic and eggplant make the sauce extremely rich and creamy, but there’s no fat in it other than the olive oil you roasted the veggies in and the little bit of parmesan cheese you may choose to put on top!

Perfect Cinnamon Pancakes

August 21, 2010

Made-from-scratch cinnamon pancakes are one of the best things you can wake up to in the morning. Here is my recipe for making them perfect.

First, whisk together the dry ingredients in a big bowl until well combined:

2 cups all-purpose flour

3 Tbsp. sugar

2 Tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

Now add in:

2 beaten eggs

1/4 cup vegetable oil

milk (amount to be determined by you)

Stir in milk until you have a pretty loose batter. It should look something like this:

I usually use around 2 – 2 1/2 cups milk total. Now you’re ready to cook them up!

Use a large, dry non-stick pan. Turn the heat to medium-low and let your pan heat up for a good while before you put any batter in.

Use 2 heaping Tbsp. of batter for each pancake. Now just wait. Don’t flip them until lots of bubbles start to appear and pop and the edges look dry.

They should be this color when they are done.


Add the traditional butter and syrup or whatever topping you like. I like mine with almond butter, but I’m weird! You can also feel free to add whatever you like to the batter. Sometimes, I add a little vanilla extract or some banana. If you make these, please let me know how they come out. Have a great breakfast!

Adventures In Curry

July 28, 2010

My friend Heather M. gave me a bunch of veggies from her garden including lots of Japanese eggplant. Then she posted on facebook about a Thai recipe and it got me poking around the internet. My favorite Thai dish by far is beef panang. I thought why not make eggplant panang? I looked at several recipes that used premade red curry paste, but that’s not what I wanted. I wanted to make it from scratch. Finally, I stumbled across this recipe.

The next step was to find a place to buy the exotic ingredients listed in the recipe. I went over to Yelp and did a search for “Thai Market” in my area code. Bangluck Market seemed like the best place to go. I decided at this point to make green curry (a recipe from culinary school) later in the week as long as I was going out to get ingredients. Reviews of the market were mixed. Some said it was dirty. Some said they didn’t take credit cards and that the parking was a nightmare. I headed over to Bangluck, not knowing quite what to expect.

Got there and scored a parking spot right in front of the store. One obstacle down. Went in, got a cart and started looking around. The shelves and flooring were obviously old and well used, but definitely not dirty. I got to the dried chile section. The recipe calls for large red dried chiles. Well, that doesn’t really help because they had several kinds. I found an employee and told him I was making panang and asked which chiles I should buy. He asked one of the female employees at the front and here’s what I ended up with:

I found everything else I needed with no help except for the coriander (cilantro) root. I figured I’d just add extra ground coriander to the recipe and not worry about it.

Here are some of my other spoils. Lime leaves and galangal:

Thai basil and thai green chilies:

Coconut Milk, Palm Sugar, and Shrimp Paste:

I came home and started making the panang paste right away. The recipe said to use a mortar and pestle. I have tendonitis and carpel tunnel syndrome in both hands. That just was NOT going to happen. So I used my trusty food processor. I threw ALL the listed ingredients except the meat and the coconut milk into the machine. Whizzed it up and ended up with this paste:

Ta-da! I just fried up the curry in the coconut cream from the top of the coconut milk can, added the milk, a little chicken broth and put the eggplant in. I’m gonna let it braise until my husband gets home and then eat it up. I cheated and tasted the sauce and it is as good as it looks!

Dream Recipes

June 28, 2010

I do strange things in my sleep. Once, I made cupcakes. Honest. I woke up and the oven was open (and thankfully OFF) with cooked cupcakes inside. No one else had access to my apartment. Scary right?

Well, what’s not scary is when I dream about cooking and wake up remembering what I made. My dream a couple of nights ago involved an arugula salad and a cheese quiche. I decided to make them for dinner tonight and here are the results!

Arugula Salad with Honey-Mustard Balsamic Dressing:

A whole bunch of arugula  mixed with just a little chopped mint, sliced red onion, sliced cucumbers, thinly sliced tomatoes, a few marcona almonds and a couple shavings of a good quality ricotta salata (or parmesan if you can’t find it).

The dressing has about a tsp. of honey, a Tbsp. of dijon mustard and 2 parts olive oil to 1 part balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.

Four Cheese Quiche:

Either make your own pie dough or buy it. I had some left over from the apple pie I made for Father’s Day, so I used that.  This recipe is for a standard 9″ pie. As you can see in my picture, my pie plate is enormous so I used way more. More for us!

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 Tbsp. butter

4 eggs, beaten

2 Tbsp. whole milk

1 cup monterey jack cheese

2 Tbsp. cream cheese

1/4 cup cottage cheese

2 Tbsp. feta cheese

Cook the onions in the butter until very soft and brown. Put in the bottom of the prepared pie crust. Mix all the cheeses together with your hands, squishing them to make a smooth mixture. Then combine well with the beaten eggs and milk. Put the mixture on top of the onions and bake the whole thing at 375F for 50 minutes. Shake it gently and if the center doesn’t jiggle too much, it’s done.

Now if I could only dream up a couple of good recipes a night, I’d have a book out in no time!
Arugula on FoodistaArugula


July 15, 2009

Dolma is just like Sarma, only you stuff veggies instead of grape leaves. This time, my Grandma and I used tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini and bell peppers but you can really use any vegetable you like that is suitable for stuffing. As always, you can substitute ground beef or turkey if you don’t like lamb.

4 lbs. ground lamb

2 large white onions

1/4 cup finely chopped parsley

1 cup rice (mahatma is good)

8 oz. tomato sauce

12 oz. tomato paste

1 tsp. pepper

1 1/2 Tbsp. garlic salt

Lemon juice

Veggies for stuffing


Mix everything but the lemon juice and the veggies together just like you would meatloaf. Hollow out the veggies, then put a sprinkle of salt, pepper and a drop of lemon juice in the bottom of each one. Stuff with meat mixture and put in a large heavy pot.

Squeeze the stuff you scooped out of the veggies into the empty spaces between the vegetables. Pour about 1/4 cup lemon juice over everything evenly. Then put 1/2-1 cup of water (depending on the size of your pot) in the bottom of the pot. Put a plate on top of everything to weigh it down. Cover and place on the stove, bring to a boil then turn down to low and let simmer for 1 hour.

Serve hot with some of the juice from the bottom of the pot over the top. We like to eat dolma with madzoon (plain yogurt). Give it a try!
Aubergine Dolmas on Foodista