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Monday, November 30, 2009

Kabocha Biscuits



Alrighty get ready for this series of post Thanksgiving recipes. Dish #1. Biscuits. Oh, Mr. Kabocha has a way of sneaking into the Thanksgiving meal, too. Sneaky one you are! It's still a pumpkin. Sounds good to me. I'll take it.

The recipe for this follows the same as my buttermilk biscuits. Just add the pumpkin puree to the batter and baked. Really good. I didn't have any buttermilk, plus the recipe only require a small bit. So a trick to make buttermilk is to spike 1 cup of regular milk with 1 teaspoon of vinegar. Let it stand for at least 10 minutes and you've got yourself instant buttermilk. Plus, it helps save from having a barely used carton of buttermilk from going bad in the fridge.

The biscuits came out as a slightly yellowish-orange in color, which I found pretty cool. I didn't mix the pumpkin puree as thorough to give then a sort of marbled look. Super tasty warm with a nice spread of butter or dollop of cranberry sauce with a slice of turkey or in my case roast duck. 

Makes 9-12 biscuits.

Kabocha on Foodista




Kabocha Biscuits
3/4 c kabocha or pumpkin puree
2 c flour (plus extra for dusting)
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp Sugar
1 Tbsp Baking Powder
2/3 c Buttermilk
1/3 unsalted butter

--
To puree fresh pumpkin: heat the pumpkin in the microwave for 5 minutes and scoop out the flesh. Puree with a blender, food processor or masher.

If you want to buy a whole carton of buttermilk, simply add 1 Tbsp lemon juice or vinegar to 1 c milk and let it stand for a least 10min.
--

Peel and cut the sweet potato into cubes and place them in to some boiling water. Cook them until tender. Cool them off in some cold running water, then mash. Set aside 2/3 c for the sweet potato.

Preheat your oven to 425˚F

Combine flour, salt, sugar and baking powder in a bowl. Cut in the butter until it resembles crumbs. Add in the mashed sweet potato and the buttermilk. Mix it all together until it forms a dough ball.

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead a few time. Roll out the dough to 1/2-thick. And cut into 9 or 10 round biscuits.

Place them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for roughly 10-13 min.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Production Eats - No. 9

This week I finished off the episode I worked on for Lie To Me. On this day, the whole cast was there again. It was a long day, but a good one.



I went to the same cafe I had the pizza last time. I was tempted to get the pizza again, but my eye caught the parmesan crusted salmon and Israeli couscous. I enjoyed this one quite a bit. The salmon was tender and flaky as it should be. The sauce was great. It was a white sauce, I couldn't really make out that it was, but it complimented the salmon well. Of course, I needed to have my usual side salad.





For the next several days, I'll be posting about these delicious yummies. My Thanksgiving meal. It's just too special for me not to put them into one big post. This was actually the first year I made the attempt to make the whole meal. The overall result. Success! All made by yours truly except for the pumpkin pie in the front. That was a gift from a friend. Here's one of my mom and I before you dug in.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Dimsum of A Time



Ah, the ladies pushing those carts full of delicious morsels up and down, left and right of the restaurant. That's how I spent my a Sunday morning with one of closest friends. Dimsum was the word. It's been way too long wince the two of us had some dimsum, plus I've been craving for it for the past couple of months now. We decided to stay a bit local and ventured into Chinatown near Downtown Los Angeles.

Our choice was Empress Pavillion on Hill street, right off the 110 Freeway. The place was packed, but that was expected. Luckily, the wait wasn't too long. We had spent the time chatting it up and catching up on the time since we last saw each other. Our number was called and we were escorted to a table. We ask for some hot tea and begin the feasting. As the carts move, we glance at our choices. The down-side to eating dimsum is that there's so much to choose from that you just can't eat them all.



Shu Mai & Potstickers


Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf

 

Inside Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf
(sticky rice with shrimp and mushrooms)

 
Shrimp Eggrolls with Sweet and Sour Sauce (sorry for the blurry pic)



 Baked BBQ Pork Buns
(I wanted the steamed pork buns, but the lady with that cart never came by)



Calamari with Seasoned batter
(I was eagerly waiting for the lady with this cart to stop by. Took a while,
but I was determined to get it.)


For dessert: Left is Almond Jelly. Right is Mango custard
I actually like the mango better.

It was filling, but so delicious. Took the leftovers home and ate it another day. We probably spent a good 2 hours just enjoying our meal. It was a Sunday well spent.


Friday, November 27, 2009

Pasta in Spam Sauce



While I reorganize and get my post-Thanksgiving self together. I'm still in that food coma phase, here's a little something I had cooked up several days ago. I can imagine the look your faces now. SPAM SAUCE?!?!?!? So here's how it came about. I was tempted to try and make spam meatballs. I ground the meat in the food processor and turned them into balls and started to cook the. This is where it had gone wrong. As I cooked the spam balls, it began to fall apart on me. Oh, how disappointed I was as the cute little golf sized balls crumbled before my eyes as I tried to keep them in tact. I guess I should have put a binding agent into the mix like an egg and some panko crumbs.

Anyway, since it was too late to salvage the spam balls, I decided to go ahead and turn my supposed marinara sauce into a meat sauce. You don't need to add any salt since the spam already has a saty taste to it. Just added some herbs, tomato chunks and green onions. I boiled some farfalle pasta and ladled a generous serving of the sauce on top and chowed down. You can't taste the spam as the tomato and herbs compensate for that. I'm happy with how it turned out. I shall give the Spam balls another try some day. Luckily, I still have one can of Spam in the pantry. But for now I'm content. Who knew processed meats can be a little more interesting?

Serves 4-5




Pasta in Spam Sauce

1/2 box of uncooked pasta
1 12oz can spam lite - finely chopped
1 12oz tomato chunks
1 tsp dry basil
1 tsp dry oregano
1 c fresh parsley - chopped
3 green onion - chopped
1 large garlic clove - finely chopped
 pepper to taste

Bring a pot of water to a boil, Season the water with some salt and a little bit of olive oil. When the water is bubbling, add the pasta. Stir a couple of times to prevent the pasta from sticking to each other. Cook until al dente. Roughly 8-10 minutes.

In a sauce pan, saute the green onions and garlic in a tiny drizzle of extra virgin olive oil for 30 seconds. Then add the chopped spam. Cook until they slightly start to brown. Add the dry and fresh herbs (basil, oregano, and parsley) Mix them in and cook for roughly 2 minutes. Season with a little pepper. Add the tomato chucks and stir. Bring to a slight simmer.

When the pasta is ready ladle some the sauce on top and enjoy!


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Turkey...er...Thanksgiving!!



Hello my loyal and lovely readers. Today, I'll be taking the day off to gorge of some food as we in the US celebrate Thanksgiving. Don't worry, I'll be back posting all the mouthwatering food that will adorn my dining table on this fine day.

I know you've seen this question asked many times these past few days, but what are you thankful for? 

Anyway, just to give you a sampling, here's my menu for the day:

Herb Roasted Duck
Gravy
Pomegranate Cranberry Sauce
Smashed Potatoes
BroccoBean
Sweet Potato Bread
Pumpkin Biscuits
Cheesecake Cookie Cups
Pumpkin Pie (gift from a family friend)

Recipes, photos and all that jazz on the days to come! Stay tuned! (Oh, and come back tomorrow, too.)

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!


Gobble Gobble!!



Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cornbread



Who doesn't love cornbread? Whenever someone goes out to Hometown Buffet, I make it a habit to make sure that cornbread if brought back. Forget everything else, I want the cornbread. If not, there will be hell to pay. Okay, maybe not. I'm too nice to be mean. Seriously, with a face like mine, I always have a smile on my face. Just ask anyone who knows me. Anyway, I think that's the second thing I love about Thanksgiving.

For this, I adapted it from I a recipe that found in the back of a box of corn meal. I haven't really made it before and I've always been interested in trying to make my own. I never really reaziled how simple it was until now. I always thought there was some complicated technique I had to do or get some special ingredient. Now I know.

I added some nutella on top to give it a chocolate hazelnut flavor. I know, I know. More nutella, but it was staring right at me. It gave me those big googley eyes like that bundle of money from those Geico commercials. Staring at people who could have saved on car insurance. (Note: This is in no way an endorsement for Geico. Just wanted to point that out. I was merely referencing that bundle of google-eyed money.) I think next time I'll add corn kernals into it. I love it when there's real corn in the bread.

Makes 1 9-inch round cake




Cornbread
adapted from Alber's Cornbread Recipe

1 c yellow corn meal
1 c cake flour
1/4 c granulated sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 c milk
1/3 c canola oil
1 egg - lightly beaten
nutella

Preheat your oven to 400˚F

In a small bowl, combine milk, oil, and egg.

In another bowl, combine corn meal, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt. Then add in the milk mixture. Stir to blend.

Pour the batter into 9-inch greased pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.


 

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Kabocha Walnutella Cake



I wanted a fun treat. Actually, my intention was to make brownies. But that idea quickly ran out the window. But instead of drowning in my sorrows of not being able to have a brownie, I made a cake instead. A kabocha cake with a little surprise on top. If you hadn't guess what walnutella is, then reread it again. You know my love for word scrambles.

I made the cake like you would for any other cake. Sift the dry ingredients together and mix the wet stuff in a bowl. Add the pumpkin and place in a baking pan. The little surprise on top is the walnut and nutella lovingly swirl on top. The cool thing about this is the nutella still has a soft consistency. Ooey gooey good! Oh, it's also soft, moist, and chewy. Me. Like. A lot.

Makes 1 13x9 cake or 2 9x9 cake




Kabocha Walnutella Cake

1 c sugar
1 c canola oil
4 eggs
2 c cake flour
1 1/4 c pureed kabocha or pumpkin puree
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick butter - softened
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
4-5 Tbsp nutella - melted
1/2 c walnuts -chopped
--
to pureed fresh kabocha:
heat in the microwave for 5 minutes. The slice in half. Heat for another five minutes to cook until tender. Let it cool for several minutes before handling. Scoop out the flesh and into the food processor or blender. blend until smooth. You may also mash them, if you don't have either.
--

Preheat your oven 350˚F

Sift all the dry ingredients together. Flour, salt, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves.

In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugar.  Then add each egg, mixing after each one. Then slowly mix in the flour mixture.

Add the oil and mix well again.

Prepare you cake pan. Lightly greast the pan and line it with some parchment paper. This will prevent eh cake from sticking.

Pour the batter into the pan. Spread the nutella on top in various lines or scquare shapes. With a toothpick or skewer. Draw circles to give it that swirled look.

Place it into the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. Let it cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan.


 

Monday, November 23, 2009

Grilled Eggplant Sammies



Who says you can't grill when it's not summer? Thank goodness for old Georgie. Very handy during the colder months and when there's unfavorable weather. Add on to it when the body says "I'm being lazy today, so you better not over work me or I'll make you tired even more!" Apparently, my mind and body weren't in sync with each other on this particular day. My energy was drained without doing much during the day. Granted, I had some errands, but they weren't very strenuous.

Anyway, this one's a simple sandwich. Grilled eggplants with avocado, cucumber slices and sauteed balsamic onions on ciabatta bread. Make it sound fancy without it being fancy.

Makes 2 sandwiches





Grilled Eggplant Sammies

1 Medium Eggplant - 1/2-inch sliced
1/2 small cucumber - sliced
1 small avocado - sliced
1 small sweet onion - sliced
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 ciabatta rolls (or your choice of bread)
horseradish mustard or mayo

Prepare your grill.

In a skillet melt the butter and saute the onions. Once the onions are translucent add the balsamic vinegar. Saute for a few more minutes. Then remove from heat and set aside.

Season the eggplant with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Both side. Grill the eggplants until tender depending on the heat of your grill roughly 5-10 minutes.

Toast the bread on the grill or in the oven for a few minutes.

Putting all together:
Once the bread has been toasted on both slices. Spread a thin layer of horseradish mustard or mayo. Add a few slices of the eggplant, followed by the cucumber, avocado then the onions. Top with the other half of the bread.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Production Eats - No. 8

This week I worked on the show Lie to Me. It's a drama on Fox with Tim Roth and Kelli Williams. I've actually been a fan of both actors for many years now. Tim Roth for his many films that he's done and Kelli Williams for her role as Lindsey Dole on the show The Practice. Lie to Me airs Monday nights after House. It's a really good show. It's probably one of my favorites this TV season. Also shooting scenes on those days were Jennifer Beals (Flashdance), Brendan Hines, and Monica Raymond. Basically the whole cast. I worked on the show for 3 days pretending it was winter in DC. I'll be working on it again this coming week. An upside on one of the days was when Tim Roth said hello to me on my way to the stage. I didn't care how long I worked, I was happy as can be (on the inside)  Now on to the food.

Day 1. We were on location in downtown Los Angeles, so food and snacks were plenty to keep the cast and crew happy, while we worked long hours on these next two days.


 Clockwise from top: White bread with sun-dried tomatoes and cheese baked on top, pasta in white sauce with ham, white rice, fire roasted roma tomatoes, roast beef with herbs.

I enjoyed the fire-roasted tomato. Just look at the char on the skin. When sliced open, the juices of the tomato just oozed out. Cut a tiny slice of that with a piece of the roast beef and some rice. Delicious. Probably the best roast beef I've had in a while. There was also some grilled calamari steaks, but the roast beef was just calling my name. How can you not resist that tender piece of meat?


I had it with a side of salad of mixed greens, pomegranates and grape fruit, tossed in a vinaigrette topped with some fresh mushrooms, fresh pineapple slices. For dessert, a delicious fruit tart.

I don't think I need to tell you how much I LOVED the fruit tart, do I? 

Day 2. Same location as day 1.


Top clockwise: Grilled yellowfin with tomato sauce, white rice with beans, a slice of pumpernickel bread, lima beans with sauteed mushrooms, pasta with red sauce or what looked like a tomato pesto. I was craving something a little lighter thatn a large piece of a grilled chicken thigh and leg, so I opted for the fish. It was enjoyable. A little cooked through for my taste, but I ate it all up. I did love the lima beans with mushrooms. It was a beany kind of meal.



I had the usual side salad of mixed greens with fresh mushrooms and a balsamic dressing and a couple of pineapple slices. Now the dessert was something to die for. A nice scoop of apple pie with graham cracker crust and a piece rich chocolate fudge cake. Oh yeah!!! I was tempted to get a second slice, but I didn't want to look greedy, so I just savored what I had in front of me. One bite at a time.

Day 3. Working on the 20th Century Fox Studio lot. Since we had a late call time by the time we were released for lunch most of the places to eat on the lot were already closed for the day. Luckily, there was one cafe that was opened late. So I ventured out in the cold with a fellow actor walking through the Fox lot towards some grub.



I had a simple slice of pepperoni pizza with some mixed greens with corn, edamame, topped with some balsamic dressing. A simple satisfying flair. We were also served some chili and chowder as well as fresh made crepes later into the night, I didn't have some of the soup as I was still full from the pizza, but it looked delicious and warm for a cold night. But I did manage to snag some snacks from the craft service table to take home with me. The perks of the craft service table.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Roasted BroccoBean in Garlic Browned Butter Sauce



There's no such thing as a broccobean. But wouldn't it be cool if there was? What would it look like? Would it have the florets of the broccoli with the thin body of the green bean? What about the taste? We can only imagine. Let ponder that for a moment. ...  ... Ok, back to out regularly schedule recipe.

Whatever it may be, the broccoli and green beans are the stars of this dish. Slightly accentuated by the browned butter sauce. It actually reminds me of a garlic broccoli dish I would always get from Whole Foods. I would be happy with a small to-go box of that from their hot foods section. I tossed the vegetable in some extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and paprika. To put a little kick to it, I spiked it with a teeny bit of tobasco. While that roasted, I made the sauce. The key is to let the butter cool after removing from the skillet before adding the garlic. Or else it will cook and burn pretty quick. No need to go to Whole Foods to get the garlic broccoli. I can now make it at home.

Serves 2




Roasted BroccoBean with Almonds in Garlic Browned Butter Sauce
1 lb green bean - rinsed with ends removed
1 head of broccoli or one small frozen bag.
1 Tbsp paprika
1 tsp tobasco
1/4 c sliced almonds
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
garlic-almond browned butter sauce (recipe below)
shredded cheese topping - optional

Preheat your oven to 375˚F

Toss the green beans and broccoli in a light drizzle of olive oil. Season with some salt, pepper, and paprika. Add the tobasco as well. You may add more to your liking.

Place the green beans and broccoli on a foil-lined baking pan and roast for 25-30 minutes.

When roasted toss it with the garlic-almond browned butter sauce, add the almonds and serve.




Garlic Browned Butter Sauce
3-4 Tbsp butter
2-3 large garlic cloves - finely chopped

In a saucepan, melt the butter.  Heat it until it begins to foam. Carefully remove the top foamy layer, then transfer the melted butter into a small bowl and let it cool for 2 minutes. Then add the chopped garlic. Let it sit for for 5-10 minutes before serving.


Friday, November 20, 2009

Stuffed Chayote



If you hadn't notice by now, for you loyal readers, one of my favorite vegetables is the chayote squash. They're just so good. This time around I decided to stuff them. Stuff them I did. There's really no good story about this one really. I was just hungry.

The stuffing included sardines, onion and tomato. Oh and I must not forget the panko crumbs as well. I poached the chayote halves in water first to get them nice and tender, then scooped out the delicious flesh and mixed the filling together. Once they were ready I baked them in the oven just to get the chayote bowls a good roast as well as bake the filling.

Not too filling and just right. At least, for me it was.

Makes 4 chayote bowls




Stuffed Chayote

2 Chayote
1 ripe tomato - deseeded and chopped
1/2 small sweet onion - chopped
1 5oz can sardine in oil or tuna in oil
1 tsp dry basil
1 tsp dry thyme
1/4 c panko breadcrumbs - plus extra
1/4 c shredded cheese - your choice
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
 
Half each chayote and remove the pit/seed.

Bring a small pot of water to a boil and season it with some salt. When the water is boiling carefully add the chayote. Cook until tender.

Drain most, but not all the oil from the sardines/tuna.

Chop the tomatoes and place them into a bowl with the sardines/tuna, dry basil, dry thyme, and sweet onion. Set aside.

Preheat your oven to 375˚F

With a slotted spoon, remove the chayote and let it cool for a few minutes before scooping out the flesh.

Coat the chayote bowls and lightly coat the skins with some olive oil. Place on a foil lines baking sheet.

Once the flesh has been scooped out, chop them into pieces and place into a bowl with the sardine/tuna mixture. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Mix in the panko crumbs.

Divide the filling among the 4 bowls. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the panko crumbs are lightly browned.

Top the chayote with the shredded cheese and bake for another 3-4 minutes until cheese is melted.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Orzo Salad



Orzo pasta looks like long grain rice. I actually thought it was rice at first. After several days of heavy eating. I wanted to relatively have something filling and light at the same time. I had a tomato, persian cucumber, baby bok choy. I roasted the bok choy and left the others fresh. The thing that made this stand out was when I added some sweet pickled relish. Then to give it an Asian flair, gave it a splash some rice wine vinegar.

I had this with a couple left over avocado rolls.  It was deliciously good. I still have tons of orzo left, so now I need to figure out what else I can make this with.

Serves 3




Orzo Salad

1 c uncooked orzo pasta
1 persian cucumber or 1 small regular cucumber - sliced into  half moons.
1 ripe medium tomato - deseeded and chopped
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (plus extra)
2 Tbsp sweet pickle relish
3-4 baby bok choy
2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar

Preheat your oven to 375˚F

Separated the bok choy leaves leave the inner bulb in tact. For larger leaves you may cut them in half. Lightly coat them in some olive oil and season with some salt. Place on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

In a large bowl combine the diced tomatoes, cucumber and sweet pickled relish. Set aside

In a pot bring of water to a boil. Season with some salt and a tiny drizzle of olive oil. When the water is bubbling add the orzo. Stir a couple times to avoid the pasta from clumping together. Cook until al dente roughly 8 minutes. Then strain. Add 1/8 c olive oil to prevent the pasta from sticking.

Add the orzo with the tomatoes and cucumbers. Add the relish and rice wince vinegar. Toss together to combine. Finally add the baby bok choy. Toss once more.

Serve cooled.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Cream Cheese Stuffed Bacon Wrapped Chicken



I had one lone chicken breast left in the freezer. The poor thing has been waiting for me to gobble it up for a while. Next to him, I didn't realize that I had a couple of bacon slices left. What the...? I thought I had used all my bacon already. How can that be? I stuffed bacon into the chicken, so why not wrap it around this time. I had an idea to stuff the chicken with a cream cheese mixture. So I prepped that. A simple filling of cream cheese, sweet onion and garlic powder.  Rolled the chicken as tight as I could without having the filling ooze out, then wrapped it with a couple slices of bacon. I then baked it in a 375˚F oven.

Then my smoke alarm decided to wig out and scare the crap out of me. When there's no remote sign of smoke or the smell it. My windows are open to let the heat out and it's pretty chilly in my place, so I can't find a reason why it would do that. I was baffled. I swear once in a while that thing has a mind of its own. Or it's telling me that it want a piece of my chicken. I say, "No chicken for you!!"

I also made a white wine sauce as well with a side serving of some oven-steamed mixed veggies. It's the frozen kind from the grocery. Nothing special about those. I considered it a lazy Sunday and I didn't feel like chopping anything. I have to cut some corners sometimes. Anyway, the chicken was juicy and tender. The bacon with a slight crisp. It definitely adds to the flavor of the dish. It was awesomeness!!

Serves 1-2



Cream Cheese Stuffed Bacon Wrapped Chicken

1 large chicken breast
2-3 sliced of bacon
2 Tbsp Cream Cheese
1/4 c sweet onion - chopped
1 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper
parchment paper
tooth picks
white wine sauce (recipe below) - optional

Preheat your oven to 375˚F

In a small bowl, mix together the cream cheese, onion, garlic power. Set aside

Butterfly the chicken breast. Place it in between two pieces of parchment paper and pound it lightly to flatten to 1/2-inch thickness. Season with a little salt and pepper.

Then spread the cream cheese mixture evenly over the chicken and roll it up. Next wrap it with two or three slices of bacon strips. Pierce it with a tooth pick to keep it together. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes or until juices run clear. Drizzle some of the white wine sauce on top and enjoy.

To get the bacon a little more crispy, place it in the broil for 5 minutes after baking.




White Wine Sauce

1/2 c white wine
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp unsalted butter
1 large garlic clove
1 Tbsp fresh parsley - chopped

In a sauce pan on medium heat, melt the butter and saute the garlic for 30 seconds, Add the white wine and bring it to a slight boil and the wine reduces slightly. Once boiling, lower the heat and add the rice wine vinegar and fresh parsley. Bring to a simmer for 2-3 minutes, then serve.


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