Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day Dinner 2008 Menu

Appetizer   : Garlic Cheese Encrusted Mussels
Soup           : Pumpkin Curry Soup
Salad          : Baby Mixed Greens with Raspberries, Prosciutto, Sun Dried

                       Tomatoes and Goat Cheese
Entree        : Potato Cheese Souffle
Main Dish : Mongolian Leg of Lamb (bone-in)
Side Dish   : Glazed Carrots, Baby Onions, Mushrooms, Green Beans, and 

                       Basmati Rice Pilaf
Dessert       : Italian Traditional Cheesecake
Beverage    : Martinelli's Sparkling Apple Cider (for kids) 

                       Gloria Ferrer Sparkling Wine, Sonoma Brut
                       Barefoot Cavernet Sauvignon
                       Freshly Brewed Sumatra French Roast Coffee

The guests have all gone. It was another memorable Christmas dinner for a few friends and family that took days to plan, prepare, shop, and cook the food. It's a blessing that my son is taking an interest in cooking. He did most of it. I was only there to guide him and teach him about some of the techniques I know about cooking, wine, and food service.

I will be posting the recipes soon, but for now I am too sleepy and exhausted, I can't even think. It's 2:37AM of the 26th and I'm just waiting for the tablecloth and table napkins to dry.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Deep Fried Quails

You don't always find quails at the Asian store, but I was lucky enough to get 6 quails to cook for dinner. These birds are small. One quail is about 4.3 ounces and the total weight for all 6 quails is 1 pound and 10 ounces. My next question was, how will I cook these tiny birds?

6 Quails
Salt and pepper
Cooking oil

First, I washed the birds thoroughly by cleaning the birds inside and out with running warm water. Then I pat them dry and sprinkled salt and pepper. One by one, I deep fried them in cooking oil at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 10 minutes or until golden brown.

To make Sauce

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a small pan on medium-low heat. Then add 3 tablespoons of hoisin sauce. Keep mixing with a wooden spatula until consistency becomes thinner. Next, add about 2 tablespoons of red wine and sprinkle freshly ground pepper.

Garnish with watercress, thin slices of apricot, and dots of the sauce.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Chorizo de Bilbao and Tomato Scrambled Eggs

It must have been around 12:00 noon when I got up from bed to make brunch. The chilly weather made me snuggle some more and enjoy the warmth of my blanket. In my mind, I was thinking what to cook for brunch.

My freezer is almost empty and today I need to go to Costco and to Ranch 99, my favorite Asian store, to stock up my pantry and buy food for the week.

Moisty Tomato Scrambled Eggs (always a favorite) and Chorizo de Bilbao (canned) was a good pairing, so I did not hesitate to cook them for brunch with Garlic Fried Rice. The chorizo was cooked in its' own oil and then sliced thinly. Just these, with a freshly made and newly ground brewed coffee jump started my day.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Mongolian Fried Chicken

12 chicken legs (room temperature)
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
salt and pepper
peanut oil or any cooking oil

Wash and dry chicken well with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken in flour. Deep fry in 350 degrees Fahrenheit cooking oil in a fryer or pan for 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown.

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup fish sauce 
1/4 cup lime juice or rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoon brown sugar or honey
2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon hot sauce (to taste)
1 stalk green onion, chopped 
2 stalks cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Mix sauce ingredients together and serve.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Chocolate Chip Cookies

My baking buddy, Sam, came by today with her dad (my son), and after lunch, we both knew we were craving cookies. Without hesitation, she asked if we could bake her favorite cookies, the chocolate chip cookies, which she had quite mastered to make.

This time, we followed the recipe written on the Nestle Semi-Sweet morsels bag. In a bowl, she measured 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1 teaspoon salt. In another bowl, she beat 1 cup softened butter (by hand) until creamy, and then she added 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 3/4 cup brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. She then added the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Then she gradually added the flour mixture a little at a time until incorporated. Lastly, she added the semi-sweet chocolate morsels. We did not put any nuts, for Sam does not like nuts in her cookies. You can if you want, add 1 cup chopped nuts. We also added just 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate morsels, for some of us preferred less chocolate morsels in the cookie. She then scooped the batter using a small ice cream scoop and dropped them on a parchment lined cookie sheet. I prefer lining the cookie sheet with parchment paper in making chocolate chip cookies because they are easier to remove later on. The cookies were baked in a preheated 375 degrees oven for 10 to 11 minutes. Let cool for about 20 minutes before eating

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup softened butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 cup chopped nuts

Collard Greens

With the economic downturn and escalating food prices, I've learned how to shop for healthy and inexpensive food to serve my family. For our everyday food, I always go with the basics. Eggs, milk, bananas, flour (to make bread or pancake), ground beef (instead of expensive meat cuts), and mostly fruits and vegetables in season which I find in the farmers market. One of my favorites is collard greens which is healthy and easy to cook.

Here's the recipe:


1/2 pound ground beef
1 bunch collard greens (you can also use swiss chard) - cut about 3/4"
1 1/2 Roma medium-size tomato - cut into 1/8"
1/2 medium-size yellow onion - sliced
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
3 to 4 tablespoon fish sauce
dashes of freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons cooking (I use canola) oil


Brown the garlic in a wok with the oil. Add the sliced onion and cook until transparent. Add the ground beef until cooked. Sprinkle dashes of freshly ground pepper. Add the collards and mix well. Season with the fish sauce and mix until collards are wilted but not overcooked. Serve immediately with steamed rice or bread.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Simple Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner

This year, when our family planned the menu for Thanksgiving Dinner, I had to fight for my turkey. I, against the young hip generation, disagreed with whether or not we should have turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. They wanted Leg of Lamb, or a Standing Rib Roast, and I wanted my Thanksgiving Turkey.

It didn't take long for me to end this squabble. I just declared my verdict: "Don't take away my Thanksgiving Turkey away from me!" End of story. I explained later on, that a Moroccan Leg of Lamb or a succulent Standing Rib Roast sounds delicious, but we only cook a whole Roasted Thanksgiving Turkey once a year, and only on Thanksgiving Day.

We have agreed on the menu, and my son was chosen in charge of cooking the main dish, the Roasted Turkey. My daughter made Tiramisu for dessert, a recipe shared by her sister, who got the recipe from Cordon Bleu in Paris, where she studied Culinary Arts. My granddaughter and a neighbor enjoyed removing the Brussel Sprouts from the stalk which was made into a side dish.

We all helped in setting the big dining table for 12 family and friends with my daughter in charge of the decoration. Although it's tedious to wash all the special china, silverware, wine glasses, and serving plates by hand, we all shared the work. There is something beautiful about this sharing, a giving of oneself to a special celebration. We shared a feast prepared by everyone and we were thankful for all the blessings.

With my son in charge of the event, I sat back and relaxed, reminiscing when I used to do everything by myself. I remember having to wake up early in the morning to prepare everything so we could have a good thanksgiving dinner. Now that my children have grown up, they have learned the values and tradition I have tried to inculcate in them all these years.

We had a simple thanksgiving dinner, fine enough to have reason to use our special china, silverware, and wine glasses. Our menu of traditional roasted turkey with simple side dishes, and dessert were easy to make, just right for our budget, and were enjoyed by everyone.

Thanksgiving Dinner Menu

Appetizers       : Sliced Baguettes with Triple Creme Cheese
Soup                 : Cinnamon Pumpkin Soup
Salad                : Herbed Butter Lettuce with Sprinkles of Goat Cheese
Main Dish       : Rosemary Roasted Turkey with Cranberry Sauce and Turkey Gravy
Side Dishes     : Brussel Sprouts, Broccoli florettes, Carrots, Corn, Corn Bread Stuffing,
                             Mashed Potato
Bread                : Dinner Rolls
Dessert             : Tiramisu, Lazy Woman's Apple Pie, Pumpkin Pie
Beverage          : Apple Cider (for kids)
                             Santa Rita Cavernet Sauvignon RESERVA 2005 D. O. Maipo Valley, Chile
                             Freshly Brewed Newly Ground Coffee

The roasted turkey was crispy outside and juicy inside. It was cooked at 350*F throughout. My son was planning to cook the turkey in a lower temperature like most people do (at 325*F), but he knew most of us preferred the skin crispy and the turkey still juicy inside. He stuffed the turkey with onions, carrots, celery, salt and pepper, and rosemary which he snipped from our herb garden.

The salad was easy to make, just a whole bunch of butter lettuce broken by hand in big pieces strewn with pine nuts and sprinkles of goat cheese. The mashed potato was made with yellow potatoes, butter, sour cream, salt and pepper, and Romano cheese. All the vegetables were steamed separately. He also made the gravy from scratch by boiling the neck, the gizzard, and the liver of the turkey, and then he made roux to make the gravy.

The recipe for the Lazy woman's apple pie is actually the same recipe as my regular apple pie. The only difference is, we did not use a pie pan. The pie was baked on a cookie sheet. The round Pate Brisee crust was set in the middle of the sheet and the pie filling was plopped on the center of the crust, the sides were folded toward the center of the pie. Hence the name, Lazy Woman's Apple Pie.

The wine we served at the dinner was a fine wine from Chile. It was a Cavernet Sauvignon reserve wine from Maipo Valley Vintage 2005, with superb quality and craftmanship, well structured, fruity and youthful style, perfect for any occasion.

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