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Pastas are like people. They come in various shapes and sizes, but what it all boils down to; is that it’s all made from the same ingredient.

Just like this one; orecchiette. I really love the shape of this pasta. I think it’s so cute. Orecchiette got its name because of its unique shape which would remind one of a small ear. “Orecchio” in Italian means ear and “etto” means small. So put that together and you get small ears. If you ask me I’ve always thought they look more like teeny tiny pasta bowls.  I’ve even made this in a soup before and just love the way the pasta holds the soups in!

I have yet to do my grocery shopping this weekend and all I had in my pantry was a big box of orecchiette and some spicy Italian turkey sausages. It reminded me of a dish I had last year at my birthday dinner, only it wasn’t turkey sausage it was lamb and it wasn’t the same pasta but somewhere between browning the sausages over the skillet and the smell of pasta cooking over a pot of salty boiling water it brought me back to that night.

This a pretty easy dish to put together and one that packs in a lot of flavor.

Start off by browning the sausage on a skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil. Remove the sausage from the pan and allow it cool slightly. Then slice it or dice it into small pieces. Now, add about two small cloves of chopped garlic into the pan with another tablespoon of olive oil. Then add in the diced Italian sausage and season it with some salt and pepper and about a teaspoon of dried oregano. Now add a half a cup of fresh diced tomatoes and let that continue to cook in the pan for three to five minutes on a medium high heat. Then add in about half a cup of red wine and a third cup of chicken or turkey broth. Then add in the cooked orecchiette pasta and half a cup of petite peas and fresh parsley. Stir everything together and serve this with some grated romano cheese and enjoy!

 

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In my perfect world, there would be no dirty dishes; I could eat as much as I want without having to wear spanx under my dress and I would never have to worry about applying eye cream before going to bed.

But as we all know, that world doesn’t exist.

We have to create our own perfect world to find happiness. And that is exactly what I did. As soon as I started to dip the chicken in rich buttermilk, i was already doing my happy dance in my head. Then, by the time the batter hit the waffle iron and started to sizzle I was already in heaven. In no time, I fixed myself a plate, poured hot peppermint tea in my big pink mug and found my seat on the couch next to the window and started tearing down the chicken and the waffle greedily. At this point, you can just forget about being a lady with the fork and knife, once the syrup, butter, chicken and waffle start to play; things will get crazy. Crazy good!

I’ll tell you what, this whole sweet and savory combo is the real deal.

 

Recipe Source

 

Time is flying by so fast these days and I find myself trying to catch my breath just to catch up on things.I didn’t even realize that it’s been more than two weeks since my last post. I have been keeping myself busy these days planning and stressing over the wedding cake that I will be making this spring. I have less than two months before the wedding and right now it’s all about preparing the decorations and sorting out the check list. I recently had a light bulb moment at 3 am and woke up all giddy with ideas on how my cake would look like. Finally, I now have it figured out after months of searching for inspiration I am happy to report that I finally got it. And with that, I would like to celebrate it with something sweet of course!

As the weather here in the Northeast is slowly but surely finding its way to spring, I am seeing a lot of pretty bright colors everywhere; in dresses, shoes, bags and of course food. My color for today is yellow. And this makes me think of an old time family favorite that my mom and I used to bake. The idea of crushing golden crisp cornflakes with my hands is really fun plus it’s also a great way to release any build up aggression.

These cookies are really yummy. I love the idea of using corn flakes in cookies. It adds a delicious crunch to sink your teeth in and of course, corn flakes appeals to just about anyone.

Corn flake Crisps

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup ground almonds
1 cup self-rising flour
2 cups lightly crushed corn flakes 

In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Then add in the egg and vanilla and continue to mix.

Combine the ground almond and self-rising flour; add to the creamed mixture and mix well.

Roll a tablespoon of the mixture into a ball or use a small ice cream scoop and roll in the crushed corn flakes. Place on cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until lightly golden.

Gulab Jamun

I have been obsessed with making fritters lately. I absolutely love the sight of those tiny deep fried sweeten dough. It’s comforting and very forgiving. You really cannot go wrong making it. Those uneven shapes and irregular burn patches makes them special and oh so delicious.

These babies are my latest obsession. I tried them once at my favorite Indian restaurant here in the city and now, I am hooked. I love the earthy combination of cardamom and the delicate flavor of rose in this fritter. It can also be somewhat sensual.  But what makes this fritter special is that after it is fried, it is then soaked in a syrup flavored in rosewater. You can serve this gorgeous dumplings warm or at room temperature. I like mine scattered with some chopped pistachios, it does make a pretty dessert plate.

Gulab Jamun

1 cup dry non-fat milk powder
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons clarified butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup warm milk
a pinch of ground cardamom
a pinch of salt

vegetable oil for deep frying

In a large bowl, mix together the milk powder, flour, baking powder, cardamom and salt. Next, add in the melted clarified butter and then mix in the milk until well blended. Cover the mixture and allow it to rest for 30 minutes.

Heat enough oil in a heavy skillet or use a dutch oven on medium heat for deep frying. Gently knead the dough, and form them into small balls, about 20 – 25.

Lower the heat before dropping the balls in the hot oil. Deep fry the balls in batches. They will start to float and expand from their original size after 3 minutes. Then, increase the heat back to medium and turn them frequently until lightly golden.

Now, remove the fritters from the oil and let them drain and rest on paper towels. After it’s cooled, immerse the fritters into the syrup for a couple of hours before serving as they will start to plump up. You can serve this dumplings chilled, room temperature or even slightly warm.  

Rose water syrup

2 cups white sugar
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon rose water

To make the syrup, place sugar and water in a pot and bring it to a boil. Allow it to simmer and 5 minutes. Then add in the rose water and set aside.

Sometimes the best gifts are the ones you make or the ones you bake. It’s the gifts that comes from the heart are the ones that matters the most. And it doesn’t hurt if the gift you’re giving is something sweet and covered in delicious frosting too. Like this cute little cake.

I baked this cake for a friend awhile back, it’s a vanilla cake layered in double chocolate fudge. I wanted to make a small cake just because I know she would love it. So, I bake it in a six inch round cake pan in three layers, and then filled each layer with some double chocolate fudge. Then, I frosted the entire cake with chocolate buttercream.

Using ready-made fondant tinted in pale pink, I cut out some tiny blossoms using a plastic cutter and then, piped some vanilla buttercream in the middle. Then, I decorated all over the top of the cake with the tiny blossoms. I also tinted some of the fondant in dark green for the leaves. After it all came together, I realize that the cake now looks like a tiny flower pot. Which wasn’t part of my original plan but somehow it worked.  At least, I think so. This tiny little cake would really brighten up just about anyone’s day on any occasion. Let them know you care.

 

A couple of weeks ago, I wanted to make some chicken teriyaki for dinner. I was still in the whole phase where I wanted to cook everything in soy sauce, ginger and rice wine. (Like my previous post on Chinese Steamed Chicken) I was so obsessed with those flavors that I even had dreams about it. While shopping at the grocery store, my eyes were hooked on some gorgeous salmon fillets and just like that I canceled my chicken idea and new plan, we’re having salmon! I also grab a bottle of ready-made teriyaki sauce in hopes to speed up the cooking process but when i tried the sauce and I was so disappointed. It tasted really bad. It didn’t even taste like teriyaki.

But, lucky for me I had all the ingredients I need to make my own teriyaki sauce. It turns out; all I needed was just five simple ingredients to achieve a good teriyaki sauce. All you need is some good quality soy sauce (I recommend using Kikkoman brand), fresh ginger, sugar, rice wine or sake and cornstarch to thicken it. You can obviously substitute the salmon for just about anything you want. Serve it warm over rice or noodles.

Teriyaki Sauce

1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon cold water
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoon rice wine or sake
2 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced

Combine all the ingredients in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Stir the mixture well. Then, bring it to a boil and then reduce the heat to low and allow it to simmer, continue to stir the sauce until it starts to thicken and bubbles. Remove the sauce from the heat and let it cool completely. You can store the sauce in a clean bottle or container and keep it refrigerated until ready to use.

To make the Salmon Teriyaki

Use half of the sauce to marinade the salmon for an hour or overnight in the fridge. When you’re ready to cook, pan sear the salmon over medium heat until you’ve achieve good caramelization for about 2 minutes. Now, transfer the salmon to the oven and allow it bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for 15 minutes or until the salmon is cooked. Brush some teriyaki sauce over the salmon and sprinkle the top with some toasted sesame seed if desire and serve it warm.

I love making pies. When I was little, I remember being in the kitchen with my grandmother and watch her make pies on different occasions. The sight of her making the pie crust from scratch with her delicate hands feels somewhat soothing to me. And when I became older enough to handle my own pastry from scratch, my soothing theory was instantly validated.

These cute little pies are similar to the traditional shepherd’s pie concept, except for the rich and buttery pastry cases that holds the meat and potatoes together. You can be really creative here and add any filling you want. Take this to your loved ones or your neighbors. If you’re are living somewhere really nice and warm right now, then take this out to your picnic. Or if it’s freezing outside, then eat this by your fireplace. I packed mine up in a container and took it to the movies. It was pretty darn romantic, really.

Pie Crust

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup cold butter cut in cubes
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup ice water, approximately

In a large bowl, mix together flour and salt. Then add in the cold butter and rub in with flour until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

Add in the egg yolk and enough water to make the dough cling together. Knead the dough on a floured surface until smooth. Be careful not to overwork the dough.

Wrap in plastic and let it rest in refrigerator for half an hour or until you’re ready to use. Roll out pastry dough on floured surface. Cut out twelve 3 1/2 inch rounds using a glass or pastry cutter; then gently press the pastry into the greased muffin pan.

Spoon the filling into the pastry cases and then top it with the mashed potato topping.

Bake pies in a preheated oven on 350F for 30 minutes or until the crust and the potato tops are nice and golden. Allow the pies to stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Meat Filling

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup of chopped red onions
1/4 cup of chopped celery
1/2 cup of carrots, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1/2 cup white button mushrooms, finely chopped
salt and pepper
1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
3 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 cups beef broth
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1 bay leave

Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Then sauté the onions, celery, carrots, garlic and mushroom together with some salt and pepper. Once the onions and carrots start to soften, add in the ground beef and cook until well browned. Then add the flour and continue to cook further for a couple of minutes. Now, add in the broth, worcestershire sauce and bay leave. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and allow it to simmer until the meat sauce starts to thicken. Allow the filling to cool down before making the pies.

Tip: you can also make this ahead of time and freeze it until ready to use.

Potato Topping
5 large potatoes, peeled and cut
2 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/3 cup of light cream or whole milk

Place the potatoes into a large pot and cover with salter water. Bring it to a boil over high heat and cook until the potatoes are tender. Drain and mash the potatoes. Mix in the butter, cheese and light cream. Whip the potatoes with an electric mixer on medium speed until nice and smooth. Season it with salt and pepper.