Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Baaaaack: Mango Salad, Crab Rangoon, Brussels Sprouts

I'm back. The hiatus may be explained at a later date, but the important thing is: we're back. We've tried a few more recipes in the past few weeks. The following are all very simple recipes, ideal for someone who has been out of the kitchen for a while or who only has a few minutes to prepare a meal. The crab rangoon assembly may have been a little tedious, but it's not complicated.

Green Mango Salad
Mostly adapted from: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/green-mango-salad
This is a great recipe if you accidentally start to peel a mango and discover it's totally green. Just an example.

Red chili flakes (or other hot pepper)
1 clove of garlic
1/2 cup of lime juice
1/4 cup fish sauce
2 TBS vegetable oil
1 TBS sugar

2-3 green onions/scallions, chopped
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
bunch o cilantro (approx 1/2 cup)
toasted sesame seeds

2 green mangos, thinly cut. Some would say julienned.

Puree chili, garlic, lime juice, fish sauce, vegetable oil, and sugar. A hand blender was perfect. Then: toss the puree/dressing with everything else. Voila. TASTY. It made great leftovers too, as it seems the flavors had even more times to soak in.

Crab Rangoon
Recipe from a hodge podge of internet sources, A's instinct, and the wonton wrapper package.

16 ounces cream cheese
Approx 7 ounces lump crab meat
3 scallions, chopped fine
Dash of garlic powder

Wonton wrappers (we got the package of 48 squares)

Oil for frying

Mix the ingredients. Place a teaspoon or so in each wonton wrapper and fold in half to make a cute triangle. Seal the edges well with water. (We used water instead of egg white).
Then, fry in about half and inch of 350F oil, turning as needed. When done, place on a paper towel.

That's it. I love ordering these at restaurants (Um, cheese in a fried wrapper? Yes, please), and these were definitely more crab-tasting than any restaurant. I liked it, but A thought maybe it was a little toooo crabby. So next time, decreasing the amount of crab would be fine. We served with Mae Ploy Sweet Chili Sauce. Perfection.

Sauteed Brussels Sprouts
The sprouts/onions/garlic immediately after they were added to the pan, before real cooking commenced. 

Do you ever go to the grocery store and see something that looks so fresh that you just buy it, knowing you'll figure out a time to cook it later? This week, Brussels sprouts looked so pretty! And, every since my dear friend made Brussels sprouts by cutting them up first a few years ago, the vegetable has been transformed in my mind. This recipe is also very simple, from the various comments/reviews with this: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/216805/pan-fried-brussels-sprouts/

Brussels Sprouts, chopped (into rough eighths. Each chunk was about the size of a peanut)
Approx 1/4 white onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Garlic Powder
Olive Oil

Place oil and onions in a cast iron pan. Heat on the stove top for a few seconds.
Then add the brussels sprouts, garlic, salt, and pepper.
Saute, stirring regularly over medium heat. After a few minutes, as the oil starts to disappear, add about 1/4 cup of water and cover for about 3-5 minutes. This seems to allow the sprouts to char slightly, get softer, and soften the onions as well.
Then, uncover and saute a few minutes longer, adding salt and pepper to taste.
Near the end, add a a sprinkle of garlic powder.
Serve hot :)

Sunday, January 24, 2016

West Valley Eateries

The west valley of the Phoenix area that is. We've done some exploring. We've really enjoyed having more restaurants available and not ever having to worry about snow interfering with plans or spontaneity. So, a few quick notes on some places that have been awesome.

Song Lynn for Vietnamese food. We've only had the pho. But we've had it several times. And it's the best yet. We've tried another place that was a little closer, but it didn't have the same near-perfect flavor.

Pita Palms for falafel. They have other things too, like exceptional baba ganoush, but let's focus on the falafel. It is such a good feeling to know that stellar falafel exists so close by.

Wok Wei for standard American-Chinese. Maybe I was extremely hungry when we went there (true), but it definitely hit the spot. Their garlic generosity was probably a big part of it. Delicious.

Akaihana for sushi. Fresh and tasty. What else does one ask for with sushi? Their excellent happy hour specials are a bonus.

I think I'll continue to update this as needed. Maybe I'll do another post of the East Valley which would be rather lengthy. . .

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Pie Crust

This is a cherry pie A made. He's been on a quest to perfect cherry pie, and tonight, he achieved near-perfect crust. It was flaky and just sweet enough. This is what he did:

3 cups of all purpose flour
2 sticks of cubed frozen butter (He took the butter out of the fridge, cut it up in little cubes, then put it in the freezer until it was totally frozen)
some ice water (somewhere over 10 tablespoons, maybe a cup?)

First, mix the butter and the flour with a fork, "until it looks like little peas in the flour." Then add just enough water to make it a little wet. It will look crumbly, but that is okay. Put it in plastic wrap and mush it into a ball. Keep it in the fridge until ready to use, at least until it is nice and cold again.
Roll out the usual way and assemble the pie. Sprinkle some sugar on top and paint with egg white.
Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then 350 for 45 minutes.
Let cool. Serve.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Spaghetti Squash Carbonara

This dish is wonderful. It has that comforting & filling quality that tastes so good when the weather cools. I think the main issue people have with spaghetti squash is that they expect it to taste like spaghetti. But it doesn't. It's a squash. So, although this has the essence and appearance of pasta, it's probably best as a filling side dish, like mashed potatoes.  The recipe below is adapted from a paleo website. http://paleogrubs.com/spaghetti-squash-carbonara. I've made a few changes, most notably replacing the bacon.

1 medium spaghetti squash
olive oil
salt & pepper
half an onion
2 garlic cloves
2 eggs (or 1 egg and some egg whites)
1/4 to 1/3 cup of coconut milk
1 tsp dry oregano
+/- parsley as a garnish

1. Split the squash in half. (Possibly microwave a little first so it's easier to cut through?), and scrape out the seeds.
2. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place face up on a baking sheet. Bake at 400F for about 45-50 minutes.

After 30 minutes or so of baking, the rest of the recipe can be followed. The timing works out okay.

3. Whisk together eggs, coconut milk, oregano, salt, and pepper.
4. Heat a deep skillet or pot on the stove top. Add about a teaspoon or more of ghee. (Butter would probably also work). Add onions to soften.
5. Add the garlic.
6. When the squash is ready, scrape it into the pot with the ghee/onion/garlic mixture.
7. Turn the heat way down, to the lowest setting.
8. Slowly add the egg mixture while stirring constantly&vigorously with the other hand until the eggmixture forms a creamy sauce. (The goal is to avoid making scrambled eggs, thus the stirring vigorously while slowly pouring.)
9. Season with salt and pepper.

ENJOY. Seriously. It's so so good.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Green Rice

This rice was a great side dish for fish tacos. It is basically straight from the following link, with the addition of coconut milk: http://www.chowhound.com/post/cilantro-rice-328780
Below are my notes and modifications.

2/3 + cup cilantro, loosely packed, plus extra for garnish
1/2 small chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped scalions, plus 1-2 extra scallions for garnish
2 jalapenos 
2 tbsp lime juice
1-2 tsp olive oil

All above ingredients are pureed in a blender. This can be done in advance.

(1 cup of uncooked Basmati rice was cooked the usual way. I should have added salt.)

Add the puree to the cooked rice. Fold in about 1/4 to 1/2 can of coconut milk.
Garnish with chopped scallion and cilantro. 

I read in the comments from the above link that adding the puree earlier allows for more flavors to seep in. Adding the puree later (like right before serving) allows for a brighter more dramatic color. 

Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Best Blueberry Muffins

No really. These are the best.
Soooo, last summer, we went to a local blueberry field. Many times. Did you know blueberries freeze really easily? They do. And now that summer approaches again, we are going through our freezer, using the last of berries frozen so many months ago. I made these muffins awhile ago and don't remember where I got the recipe, tweaked only slightly. I made them again today. A and I agreed: they are the best. Moist on the inside, with a slightly sweet crispness on the outside. This recipe is a keeper. If you know where the basics come from, do let me know. So I can give due credit.
Meanwhile, from my handwritten notes:

0.75 cup of butter
1 cup of sugar
1 egg
0.75 cup of milk
1.75 cups of flour
2.5 teaspoons of baking powder
0.5 teaspoon of salt
1-2 cups of blueberries

1. Cream butter and sugar.
2. Add milk and egg. Mix until smooth.
3. Sift together: flour, baking powder, and salt. (Reserve about 1 tablespoon of flour). Add the sifted stuff to the the creamed mixture.
4. In a separate bowl, toss the blueberries with the tablespoon of flour. I learned today that it's totally fine if the berries are still frozen.
5. Next, fold the blueberries into the batter.
6. Pour into muffin tin and bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes.

This would make 12 very large muffins. Or, 12 normal muffins and 2 mini-muffiny cakes, if you were to use a couple of greased ramekins for the remaining batter. (For example.)

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Custard-y Fruit Tarts

I made this on a leap of faith. The instructions seemed too easy. The process seemed too quick. But it worked. A quick delicious creamy custardy pie filling that accompanied blueberries and pre-made grocery store graham cracker crust perfectly. I loved that it wasn't terribly sweet.
Huge props to http://www.salad-in-a-jar.com/family-recipes/fruit-and-cream-mini-tarts, where this recipe is from. I, obviously, didn't make the crust, but it also seems worth a try sometime. I halved the recipe for 5 mini graham cracker crust tarts.
Anyway, the steps, from the above link, with my own notes and halved quantities.

1 & 3/8 cups milk I used part evaporated milk and part half&half
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 cup cornstarch
1/16 teaspoon salt
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Add milk, sugar, cornstarch, salt and egg yolks --in that order-- into a blender or the hand blender cup.
2. Blend for 5 seconds.
3. Pour into a microwave-safe bowl.
4. Microwave for 6 minutes, whisking until smooth after 3 minutes, then every minute thereafter.
5. Add butter and vanilla. Whisk until smooth. Note to self, don't worry about using a tablespoon of butter straight from the fridge. The mixture will be hot enough that it will melt quickly as you whisk.

6. Let cool a little, but not too much. Then, pour into the crusts. Immediately top with fruit. 
Honestly, I think I let it cool too long before pouring into the crust. At that point, it was more like scooping, rather than pouring, Thus the slight lumpiness. It still tasted great. The blueberries are some we picked locally and froze last summer. Still delicious!