Monday, March 30, 2009

Cherry Dressing

I got the bottle of vinegar at the Taiwan festival (where I got the 3 boxes of strawberries) a few weeks ago and was waiting for an opportunity to use it. I didn't actually taste much of the salad, but one person really liked it. The vinegar is both extremely tart and sweet.
  • Cherry vinegar
  • olive oil
  • lemon juice
  • dijon mustard
  • black pepper
  1. Mix to taste.
  2. Shake vigorously
  3. Pour over salad greens and toss.

Salmon Roll Ups

My friend Nick made the most excellent roll ups a few years ago. I'd been meaning to try my hand at making them ever since. Here's my spin on it.
  • Burrito wraps (soft tacos)
  • Smoked salmon
  • Whipped cream cheese (I used onion flavored)
  • Fresh dill
  • Fresh spinach leaves
  1. Spread cream cheese on a wrap. Don't go all the way to the edge.
  2. Add spinach leaves and dill.
  3. Spread with salmon.
  4. Roll up as tightly as you can. Optional: As you roll you can add more cream cheese on the other side to help it stick.
  5. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate. Recommendation: Chill for 8 hours to let the flavors develop.
  6. When ready to serve, unwrap and slice.
  • avocado
  • lime juice with the cream cheese
  • scallions
  • sun dried tomatoes
  • red onion, parsley and cucumber
  • sour cream and chives instead of cream cheese
  • fresh basil
  • use prosciutto instead of smoked salmon (pictured, 8/23/09)

6 course meal

Saturday was my first time preparing a 6 course meal. It turned out quite well as far as guests commenting on the taste and my own feelings about effort and stress for putting it together. I started with ingredient shopping at 9 am, and had the first appetizer on the table at 6pm. It was not rushed at all and I had time to do other things in between prep work. Very doable! Don't forget to clean as you go.

  1. Salmon Roll Ups (cold)
  2. Stuffed Mushrooms (hot)
  3. Salad with Cherry Dressing (cold)
  4. Spicy Carrot Soup and Herb Bread (hot)
  5. Farfalle with Chicken Parmesan (hot)
  6. Apple Galette with vanilla ice cream (cold)
  1. Prepare the salmon roll ups and refrigerate.
  2. Prepare the galette dough and refrigerate.
  3. Prepare the mushroom filling and refrigerate.
  4. Bread the chicken and refrigerate.
  5. Use the bread machine to make the herb bread (done in 3 hours).
  6. Prepare the soup and blend (refrigerate or set to the side).
  7. Make the salad.
  8. Bake the galette.
  9. Cut the roll ups and serve on plate.
  10. Bake the mushrooms. [Serve 1]
  11. Reheat the soup. [Serve 2]
  12. Bake the chicken (as soon as you remove the mushrooms)/cook the pasta. [Serve 3]
  13. [Serve 4]
  14. [Serve 5]
  15. [Serve 6]

Stuffed Mushrooms

My sister taught me how to make this when I was a kid. At first, we grabbed for the biggest mushrooms, but soon discovered the smaller ones were tastier. So get a bunch of small mushrooms for best results!
  • button mushrooms (or some other stuffable mushroom)
  • ground pork (or spiced sausage)
  • bread crumbs
  • Italian seasoning
  • pepper
  • salt
  • parmesan
  • garlic, chopped
  • onion, chopped
  1. Pop the stems out of the mushrooms. You can also dig out a little more space from inside the mushrooms if you want. Chop the stems. Throw in a few whole mushrooms as well to chop.
  2. Fry the onion, about 5 min.
  3. Add the pork. Cook all the way through. Stir in garlic. Transfer to bowl.
  4. Cook the mushroom stems with a dash of salt.
  5. Drain mushrooms and pork fat. Combine. Add bread crumbs and flavorings. Amount depends on taste and the consistency you like. There should be enough bread crumbs to make everything stick together, without drying it out.
  6. Fill mushroom caps with filling, mounding as high as it will go.
  7. Bake 10-15 minutes at 200C/400F.
  8. Move to serving plate and serve immediately.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Apple Galette

My first successful flaky crust, ever. The trick is to leave large pieces of butter in the dough, so that when it cooks they create layers. So easy! This is a great way to make a pie-like dessert without a pie plate.

  • 2.5 c flour
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 c butter (16 T), cut in 1/2" pieces
  • 2/3 c ice water
  1. Mix dry ingredients.
  2. Add butter and mix until butter is evenly dispersed, yet chunks are still visible. Use fork, food processor, or cold hands.
  3. Add ice water all at once and mix until it just comes together.
  4. Split in half and shape into 2 disks. Wrap each in plastic and refrigerate for 4 hours+.
  • 3 apples
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1.5 t cinnamon
  • 1 t lemon juice
  • dash of salt
  • 1 T flour
  1. Peel, core and slice apples (thin or thick).
  2. Mix with the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Roll out dough on floured surface to 12-15" in diameter.
  4. Transfer to greased baking sheet.
  5. Place apple mixture in center, leaving 2-3" of edge.
  6. Fold in edge, overlapping as you go.
  7. Bake 400F/205C for 40 minutes or until apples are cooked and crust has lightly browned.
  8. Serve immediately with vanilla ice cream or let cool.
  • You can freeze the dough by securely wrapping it in plastic. Defrost it in the fridge for a day before using it or in a bowl of warm water for one hour.
  • It can last a couple days in the fridge as well.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Herb Bread

The first time I made this I put it on a light crust setting and it didn't cook all the way through, but was still really tasty. I put in fresh basil, dried rosemary, Italian seasoning and fresh chopped onion. This time I used basil and rosemary from the garden and a dried Italian seasoning mix.
  • 2 t yeast
  • 3 c flour
  • 2 t dried rosemary or 2 T fresh, chopped
  • 1 t each dried Italian seasoning and basil (or 1 T each fresh)
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 c warm water
  1. Add items to bread machine. Set to 2 lb loaf, medium crust. Done in 3 hours.
  2. Let cool before slicing.
  • 1 T dill (or 3 T fresh) and 1/4 c finely chopped onion
  • oregano instead of Italian seasoning
1/12/2010 Made this with 2 T fresh rosemary, 1 T fresh basil and 1 t dried Italian seasoning. Put everything in and consistency was perfect -- then I realized I forgot the egg. Added it plus a lot more flour.

Take 2

June 2015: With a new bread machine and Canadian flour, tried this recipe for a 1.5 lb loaf. Though I had run out of milk and used about an 1/8 c milk and the rest was water.

  • 1.25 c milk
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 3 T dried parsley (or use 1/4 c fresh)
  • 1 t basil
  • 1 t rosemary
  • 1 t thyme
  • 3 1/3 c flour (all purpose or bread)
  • 1 t yeast
  1. Place in bread machine.
  2. Set to 1.5 lb loaf dark setting, basic cycle.
  3. Serve as sandwich bread, with a soup or salad, or turn into croutons.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Strawberry Cinnamon Muffins

I made these a while ago and forget what changes I was going to make. They turned out a little too sticky. Otherwise I can't remember the taste, especially in comparison to the other two recipes. The original only called for 1/4 t cinnamon, but I think it can do with at least one full teaspoon. I'll have to make it again with some adjustments to see what needs to be changed.
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 c sugar
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 1/4 c plain yogurt
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1/2 stick butter (1/4 c), melted and cooled
  • 2 c flour
  • 1 T powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1.5 c strawberries (fresh or thawed, whole or in chunks)
  1. Combine flour, powder, salt, and cinnamon in bowl.
  2. Add strawberries to coat.
  3. In separate bowl, combine eggs and sugar. Add milk, yogurt, vanilla and butter.
  4. Add strawberry mixture to wet ingredients and stir just until combined.
  5. Spoon batter into 12 (paper-lined) muffin cups. Bake at 375F for 25 minutes.
  • Thaw frozen strawberries at 350F for 10 minutes.
  • If you use whole frozen strawberries, they will create large holes in the muffin. For a more even texture cut the strawberries into smaller pieces.

Cheater Waffles

There's a new coffee shop on the corner that has a great deal for waffles. They make them extra thick, by leaving the machine open after pouring in the batter. Once it's mostly set, they close it and flip it. This gives a waffle that is about twice as thick as a normal one. They only offer powdered sugar, chocolate syrup or strawberry sauce as choices for toppings. Their batter is a little too sweet, so I don't think it needs any of it. However, it can do with a little fresh fruit. So here's a cheater "recipe" for fruited waffles.
  • one waffle, fresh from the iron
  • fresh fruit, sliced
    • banana
    • peach
    • strawberries
    • mango
    • etc
  1. Top waffle with fruit.
  2. Best served with side of fresh squeezed orange juice.
Oranges sell by the jin (about a pound) and you can get a bag of them for 100 NT during peak season in Taipei, containing 7-17 jins. About 4 oranges per good-sized cup.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Mango-Banana Smoothie

Yummy. It's far from mango season, but when someone gives you a tub of frozen mango for your birthday, you can have this delicious treat in the off season. Big thanks to LB - the perfect present!
  • frozen cubed mango
  • 1 sweet banana
  • milk
  1. Defrost mango for 15 minutes to soften slightly.
  2. Blend ingredients. Use less milk for something thick and creamy. Add more milk for something more pourable.

Chicken Parmesan with Pasta

An easy meal to make. You can prepare the chicken ahead of time and refrigerate until it's ready to bake.
  • 2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
  • 1 egg
  • bread crumbs
  • parmesan
  • Italian seasoning
  • pasta sauce
  • cheese (mozzarella-cheddar mixture)
  • pasta
  1. Beat the egg in one bowl.
  2. Combine bread crumbs and parmesan in another bowl in a 1:1 ratio (or to taste). Add seasoning.
  3. Flatten breasts if necessary. Dip in egg, then in dry mixture. Lay in 8x8 baking dish.
  4. Optional: Refrigerate.
  5. Bake at 180C for 30 minutes.
  6. Cook pasta.
  7. Flip chicken. Cover with sauce and cheese. Return to oven for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.
  8. Serve pasta in bowls covered with chicken and sauce.
  • increase to 5 breasts, 2 eggs, 1 cup each of crumbs and parmesan.
  • Pan fry the chicken until brown on both sides on medium high heat. Bake with sauce.
    • Fry 4-5 min each side, bake 175C for 25 min.
    • Fry 8-10 min each side, bake 190C for 20 min.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Strawberry Banana Muffins

In a side-by-side taste test against the previous recipe for Strawberry Muffins, this one was top choice for 5 out of 6 on texture and 4 out of 6 on taste. I personally liked the pure strawberry flavor better. I think another egg in the first recipe might have helped with the texture (I had run out, so could only use one that day). The main ingredient differences: butter/oil, brown/white sugar, banana/nutmeg. Based on the joyofbaking recipe.
  • 1/2 c butter
  • 2 1/4 c flour
  • 1 1/2 t powder
  • 1/4 t soda
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 c fresh strawberries, chopped
  • 3/4 c brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  1. Melt the butter in a small pan. Let cool.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, powder, soda, cinnamon, and salt. Gently fold in the berries to coat with flour.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together the brown sugar, eggs, vanilla and banana. Stir in the melted butter.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until combined.
  5. Fill 12 paper lined muffin cups.
  6. Bake at 180C/350F for 25 minutes or until done.
  • nutmeg
  • chopped walnuts
  • blueberries instead of strawberries
  • frozen and thawed instead of fresh
6/3/15 Made this with only scant 1/2 c brown sugar (instead of 3/4 c) and used heaping cup of frozen sliced strawberries.
3/16/16 Made with 1/2 c brown sugar and slightly defrosted sliced strawberries.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Strawberry Muffins

We just made out like bandits at the Taiwan Bazaar at Taipei City Hall. Three massive boxes of strawberries for 400 NT - that's $11.50 USD. I ate 50 from one box and barely made a dent. Some are in the freezer, some we'll eat fresh later, and the rest I'll be experimenting with some strawberry recipes. Here's the first of the bunch.
  • 1/4 c grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 1 egg
  • splash of vanilla
  • 1 3/4 c flour
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2 t powder
  • dash of cinnamon
  • dash of nutmeg
  • 1/2 c sugar (or less)
  • 1 cup strawberries, cleaned, hulled, dried and chopped (or more)
  1. Mix the wet ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients.
  3. Add the strawberries and toss to coat with flour. Pour the wet ingredients in and stir, without overmixing.
  4. Fill 8-10 muffin cups. Bake at 190C for 30 minutes, or until the tops are browned and bounce back from a push.

I made these based on the recipe above. This makes a full 12 muffins. Still needs some tweaking.
I made this again with fresh strawberries (and no wheat flour) and it made the world of difference. The batter is moister and the strawberries are evenly distributed without any huge pockets.
  • 1/2 c wheat flour
  • 1.5 c flour
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2 t powder (soda+tartar)
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • dash nutmeg
  • dash of allspice
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1.5 c frozen*** or fresh**** strawberries, small or chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1/4 c grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 c milk
  1. Essentially the same as above. Bake at 195C for 30 minutes or until lightly browned.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Thai Red Curry

This is a standard dish of mine, loaded with vegetables and plenty of flavor. This time I used bamboo, mushrooms, zucchini, red bell pepper and 家常 tofu. You can also use meat instead of tofu (chicken, duck, etc).
  • cooking oil (canola, grapeseed, etc)
  • 1 package tofu, firm or extra firm (家常)
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • red curry paste, to taste (2-4 t from jar or one packet)
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1/4 c water
  • vegetables, sliced or chopped (mushrooms, bamboo, red bell pepper, zucchini, Indian or Thai eggplant, baby corn)
  • salt
  • Thai basil (substitute: coriander, European basil)
  • optional: lemon juice, fish sauce, chopped hot Thai chillies, lemongrass
  1. Drain the tofu and press as much liquid out as possible. Cut into cubes.
    Optional: Fry the tofu.
  2. Fry the onion. Add garlic and paste. Optional: skim the coconut cream off the top of the can and mix with paste.
  3. Add the remaining coconut juice (or add all at once) and water.
  4. Add vegetables of choice and a dash of salt.
  5. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add tofu and any other veggies needing less cooking time.
  6. If too salty, add lemon juice. If too spicy, add more coconut milk or yogurt.
  7. Add basil and any other optional ingredients.
  8. Serve over rice (Thai jasmine is a good choice).

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


What to do when you don't own a microwave and you're sick of the super-oily, super-salty stuff from FamilyMart? Get yourself a bag of kernels and pop them yourself in a wok! It's fun and much healthier than the brand name kind.
  • 1/2 c kernels
  • 1 T butter
  • heavy pan with cover
  • optional: salt, pepper, butter
  1. Melt butter in pan over medium heat.
  2. Add kernels. Cover.
  3. Shake pan continuously.
  4. When the popcorn is all popped (maybe 2 seconds between pops), turn off the heat.
  5. Transfer popcorn to large bowl.
  6. Optional: add butter to hot pan. Melt it, and then pour over popcorn. Season with salt and freshly grated pepper.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Black Bottom Cupcakes

No pictures this time. I used half water and half milk. I'm not sure if this made it rise any less than normal, since the milk is basic and the soda needed something acidic (hence the vinegar). I'll try it again with just plain water.
  • 1 pkg cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 c sugar
  • dash of salt
  • 1 egg
  • splash of vanilla
  • 1 c semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1.5 c flour
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1/4-1/3 c pure cocoa powder
  • 1 t soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 c liquid (water, coffee, milk*)
  • 1/3 c grapeseed oil
  • 1 T vinegar
  • 1 t vanilla
  1. For the filling, mix the cream cheese, sugar and salt. Add in egg and vanilla. Stir in chips.
  2. For the cake, combine the dry ingredients. Add the remaining in a well in the center and mix.
  3. Pour batter into lined muffin tins, 1/2 full. Drop a tablespoon of filling into center or dropped evenly over top.
  4. Bake 180C/350F for 25 minutes or until done. Makes 18 cupcakes, depending on size.
  • Bake as cake in square pan. 9x9 for 40 min. 8x8 for ??.
  • Next time, a splash of cinnamon in the cake mixture?
1/11/11 Made this again with Almond Milk (sweetened) for the liquid, canola oil, apple cider vinegar, and 1/2 c mini choc chips. I softened the cream cheese in the microwave, which made it too gooey. Next time just let it be room temperature. Made 12 cupcakes and 1 ramekin-cake.