Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Zucchini Flower Spinach Goat Cheese Pizza

                             Photos taken by Christina Kho 

Dough
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
4 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup tepid water
1 tablespoon olive oil

Toppings

marinara sauce, tomato sauce, or pizza sauce
grated mozzarella cheese
grated parmegiano reggiano
goat cheese crumbles
olive oil
zucchini flowers (strips of petals only)
spinach leaves
thinly sliced yellow onion
cherry tomatoes (cut in half)
lightly fried tiny balls of Italian sausage (about 1/2" diameter)
salt and pepper to taste

Combine yeast, warm water, and sugar in a small cup or bowl, cover with a kitchen towel, and leave to ferment for about 15 minutes.



Mix the flour and salt together in a bowl, make a well in the center and pour the yeast mixture, tepid water, and olive oil. Slowly mix together with your hand or a spatula in circular motion working from the center well going out towards the side of the bowl until fully incorporated and flour stick together.


Remove from bowl and put on a clean floured surface. Knead dough for about 8 minutes until smooth.  If dough is wet, add a little flour. If it’s dry, sprinkle a little water. Form into a ball and put back into the bowl, cover with a kitchen towel, and let rise in a warm place for about 1½ hours.


Punch dough in the center and cut into four pieces. Lightly knead each piece and form into a ball. Flatten with your palm or a rolling pin and make into a round flat dough,  Stretch to make 8 to 10 inches flat dough. Drizzle with flour, then cover with a kitchen towel to let rise for another hour.

Put your desired toppings and bake for about 10 minutes or until golden brown at 500* F preheated oven. Bake on a pizza stone or a baking sheet greased with olive oil.


Tested and tried at Chris kitchen on 07/25/20
11

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Buttermilk Pancake


Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons melted butter or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)

Procedure

Add all the dry ingredients together in a bowl and mix well.  In another bowl, beat one egg lightly, then add the buttermilk, oil or butter, and the vanilla.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients slowly mixing until all ingredients are fully incorporated.  Do not overwork flour. It's okay for batter to be lumpy.


Using a 1/3 measuring cup, scoop some batter and pour into the preheated griddle or pan and cook for 2 minutes on one side and 1 minute on the other.  Repeat the process. 


Makes 6 pancakes for 3 people


Tried and tested at Chris' kitchen on 7/25/2011

Tried and tested at Chris' kitchen on 07/20/2011

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Lasagna Bolognese


Meat Sauce
2 pounds ground beef
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 cups finely chopped garlic
2 stalks chopped celery
2 cups chopped carrots
3 big tomatoes (freshly boiled, skinned, and chopped)
1 can big tomato sauce (or tomato paste)
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon sage
½ teaspoon chopped rosemary
3 tablespoons olive oil

Saute onions, garlic, celery, carrots on medium heat with the olive oil until cooked for about 3 to 5 minutes. Put in the food processor to blend for about 3 to 4 minutes. Set aside.


Add the ground beef on the pot where you sautéed the vegetables and cook until no longer pink. Add the salt, pepper, sage, and rosemary and cook for a few more minutes.


 Add the pureed vegetable Bolognese sauce and the fresh tomato that you boiled and chopped earlier. Cook on medium heat for another 3 to 5 minutes.


Cooked Lasagna Ribbons - one 8 ounces package


Cheese and Fresh Basil Leaves (topping after the Meat Sauce)

½ cup Ricotta Cheese
2 cups part-skimmed Mozzarella Cheese
¼ cup Parmeggiano Reggiano (use only for last topping on top)
¼ cup chopped basil leaves

Bechamel Sauce

½ cup butter unsalted butter
½ cup all-purpose flour 4 cups milk
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon nutmeg

Melt the butter on a sauce pan on medium-low heat.


Meantime, bring the 4 cups of milk into a boil. Add the salt, freshly ground pepper, and sage to the milk.


When butter is melted, add the flour and whisk quickly to mix until fully incorporated.


Add the milk slowly and quickly whisk together until blended with no lumps formed until you reach the consistency that you like. Set aside.


Layering your Lasagna

Layer your Lasagna on a rectangular baking pan 13 ¼” X 9 ¼” starting with the meat sauce as your first layer. Spread evenly. For the second layer, lay the ricotta, mozzarella, and the chopped basil.. The third layer is the Bechamel sauce. Again, layer evenly. Repeat the process. Last layer should be the meat sauce with the cheese toppings including the Parmegiano Reggiano.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Banana Nut Bread


Ingredients
6 bananas, very ripe
1 tsp lemon juice
2 cups brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup butter
3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 ¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
¾ cup chopped chopped nuts (almonds, cashew, walnuts, pecans, etc.)

Procedure

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare two 8-inch loaf pans by spraying lightly with cooking spray or rubbing with softened butter.

Place the bananas, lemon, sugar, eggs, and butter into the bowl of an electric mixer. Blend for 30 seconds or until smooth gradually on slow to fast speed.


Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Set aside.


Pour wet mixture into dry mixture. Fold nuts in just until combined.


Divide batter evenly between the loaf pans. Gently tap the filled pans to burst any air bubbles. Bake until the bread springs back when pressed and a tester inserted near the center comes out clean, about 55 minutes.


Cool the loaves in the pans for 3 minutes. Remove bread from pans and transfer to cooling racks. Cool completely before slicing. They can be kept at room temperature for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 6 weeks.


*Makes two loaves

 
Tested and Tried at Chris' kitchen on 06/22/2011

Friday, June 17, 2011

Naan Bread


Making this traditional Indian naan bread is easy.  I followed Anjum Anand's recipe  from Indian Food Made Easy of BBC online at http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/naan_86626 . I flavored the naan with fresh coriander and it turned out so good.    Here's the recipe:

Dough


250g/9oz plain flour

2 tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
110-130ml/3½-4½fl oz milk
2 tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing

Topping

nigella seeds, poppy seeds or sesame seeds, or chopped garlic and fresh coriander
1 tbsp butter, melted, to serve

Procedure


.For the dough, sift the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder into a bowl. In another bowl, mix together the milk and oil.


Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in the liquid mixture. Slowly mix together the dough by working from the centre and incorporating the flour from the edges of the 'well', to make a smooth, soft dough. Knead well for 8-10 minutes, adding a little flour if the dough is too sticky.


Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with a damp tea-towel and leave in a warm place for 10-15 minutes. Form the dough into five balls.


Preheat the grill to medium and place a heavy baking sheet on the upper shelf of the grill to heat.


Roll the dough balls out quite thinly, ideally in a teardrop shape, but really this is just aesthetic. Sprinkle over your chosen topping and press into the surface of the dough. Place the naans onto the hot baking sheet and grill for just 1-2 minutes, or until lightly browned. Brush with butter and serve hot.


Tried and tested at Chris' kitchen on 06/17/2011

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Custard Pie 2


Here's the second custard pie I made with a little alteration on the ingredients.  I added more powdered milk and one more egg to see whether it would make the custard's consistency a little thicker than the light version I made earlier.  To me, this pie is better than the first pie I made.  The low temperature of 350 degrees F is just the right temperature to bake the pie for 45 minutes. The custard has more body, tastier, and the crust is golden brown,  just the way I want it. 

Ingredients

One 9" Pate Brisee pastry

2 1/2 cups non-fat milk
1 cup powdered milk (KLIM milkpowder)
5 eggs minus 1 egg white
1/2 cup sugar plus 1/3 cup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 freshly grated nutmeg

Procedure


Roll the pastry thin enough to fit a 9" pie pan.  Fit the pastry inside the pie pan by pressing gently with your fingers up to the edges.  Cut whatever hangs over the edge of the pan.


Add powdered milk to the non-fat milk in a sauce pan and blend well.  Scald the milk until film forms on top. 


Put 6 eggs minus 2 egg whites in the food processor and blend quickly.  Add Vanilla, salt, nutmeg, sugar and blend well.


Strain the scalded milk through a sieve to another container or bowl. Pour the scalded milk slowly to the egg mixture at the same time blending the eggs in the mixer. 


Brush the pastry that you molded in the pie pan with egg whites. Pour the custard mixture. Bake in the preheated 350 F degrees oven for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool before slicing. 


*  Serves 8


Tested and tried at Chris' kitchen on 06/13/2011

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Moussaka

Moussaka is a Greek oven casserole made of ground lamb or beef sauteed in garlic, onions, and tomatoes, layered with eggplants, cheese,  and topped with Bechamel sauce.  Some cooks add potatoes to make moussaka's foundation firm and and not limp.

To make it more authentic, I used Halloumi cheese which has the texture of mozzarella and the brine moisture of a feta. It's amazingly delicious. But if you can't find Halloumi cheese in your grocery store, you can use Mozzarella or Cheddar, and Parmesan cheese.

There are three basic layers in this dish; the vegetables, the ground meat, and the Bechamel sauce.  I prefer to make just three layers.

Since making healthy meals is my priority, the procedures used were substituted with ways to lessen the use of too much oil and salt. 

For example, instead of frying the vegetables, they were grilled with very little oil in a grill pan. The eggplants were soaked in water with little salt instead of individually sprinkling them with salt so they do not turn dark in color, and to remove the bitter taste.

Here's how I made my Moussaka:

Meat Sauce
1 1/2 pound ground lamb
1 1/2 pound ground beef
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 big finely chopped yellow onion
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
4 finely chopped Roma tomatoes (cooked on medium-low to simmer for 5 minutes)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons oregano powder
salt and pepper 
1/2 cup red wine
3 beaten egg whites
1/2 cup finely chopped Italian parsley 

Heat a pan with the olive oil over medium-high heat and saute the onions. Add the garlic and cook until onions are transparent. Add the ground beef or ground lamb or a combination of both and cook until brown or no longer pink. Add the red wine and cook a few minutes more. Then add the tomatoes and tomato paste. Season with salt and pepper according to taste. Add the oregano powder. Cook for about 5 more minutes to let the flavors mix together. Set aside to cool.

When cooled, pass through a colander to remove liquid.  Add egg whites to the meat mixture and mix well.

Vegetables
2 big eggplants, sliced 
6 medium-sized gold Yukon potatoes, sliced
1 tablespoon olive spray oil
3 tablespoons bread crumbs

Slice both eggplants and potatoes about 1/4" thick. Soak separately in water with salt and let sit for about 10 minutes.  Wipe dry with paper towels.

Heat a grill pan over high and add the oil. Grill eggplants and potatoes until lightly brown. Set aside.

Bechamel Sauce
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 egg yolks
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup Halloumi cheese for sprinkling on top (Mozzarella or cheddar, and Parmesan)

Heat a sauce pan on medium and melt the butter.  When completely melted, add the flour beating with a whisk until blended. Add the milk and beat faster with a whisk so no lumps are formed. Consistency should be creamy. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool. Strain the Bechamel sauce through a sieve and press with a rubber spatula to remove lumps.

When cooled, fold the beaten egg yolks in until mixed together.

Layer your Moussaka

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Grease a big rectangular baking dish, and sprinkle generously with bread crumbs. Layer the potatoes (overlapping each other), then the eggplants. Top generously with breadcrumbs and then with the cheeses. Layer the ground meat mixture evenly on top. Sprinkle with parsley and top with the cheeses. Last but not least, pour the Bechamel sauce on top covering all the ground meat mixture layers underneath.  Add freshly grated nutmeg on top. Finally,  top with the cheeses generously. Bake in the oven for one hour.  Let it rest for 15 or more  minutes before serving.

You can make this dish in advance for dinner parties. Keep in the refrigerator and reheat the whole baking dish in a preheated oven for 10 minutes at 350 degrees F.

* Serve with Greek salad
* Serves about 10 to 12 or more
* Tested and tried at Chris' kitchen 05/23/2011

Monday, May 16, 2011

How To Cook Turkey


Depending on how many pounds your turkey is, here's how I do it without stuffing:

Ingredients

12 pounds  turkey
Salt and pepper

*Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.


Procedure

Rub your turkey generously with salt and pepper inside and out.  Put the turkey on a baking pan. Cover breast and wings of turkey with aluminum foil.

Bake your turkey for 30 minutes and then lower the heat to 350 degrees F and cook each pound for 12 minutes until thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reads 160* Fahrenheit.


Bring out of the oven and let cool for 30 minutes before slicing. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Beef Empanada




1 1/2 pounds  lean ground beef 
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup diced potatoes 1/4"
1 cup green peas
1 small packet raisins
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 or 3 splashes of Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
pastry, room temperature (made earlier)

Saute the garlic in a medium pan over medium heat in oil for 1 minute, then add the onion and cook until translucent. Saute in the beef and cook until no longer pink or for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the potatoes and raisins. Splash worcestershire sauce 2 times stirring and mixing everything together. Thicken the sauce with the cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup water.  

To form dough 
Put pastry on a lightly floured board.  Cut into 16 pieces. With the palm of your hands, shape each piece into a small ball.  Roll each small ball with a rolling pin into a round thin flat dough until about 5" in diameter. Repeat the process.

Make Empanadas
Fill the center of the flat dough with 1 tablespoon beef filling. Bring one side of the dough to the other side of the pastry and start pressing both edges together to seal them.  Now you either can either crimp the edge with the tines of a fork or fold with your fingers. Repeat the process.  With practice you can master the sealing and folding with your hands or crimping with the tines of a fork, whichever you prefer.

Bake
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. On a greased or parchment lined cookie sheet, arrange  empanadas  about an inch apart. Brush the top with egg wash.  Poke each Empanada with a fork to create a vents. Bake at 425 degrees F for 10 minutes, then  lower the temperature to 400 degrees F and bake for 15 minutes more. Let cool.

Yields  24 or more Empanadas
Tried and tested at Chris kitchen 05/11/2011

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Chinese Beef Stew with Daikon (Cantonese Style)


Ingredients

2 1/2 pounds brisket (cut into small bite-sized pieces)

3 tablespoons peanut oil (canola oil or any cooking oil will do)
7 slices of ginger
5 crushed cloves of garlic
1/4 cup Chinese cooking wine plus 1 tablespoon
2 tablespoons Chee Hou Sauce (soybean paste sauce)
2 star anise
2 cinnamon sticks
1 small piece rock sugar
3 cups Daikon - cut into about 1" X 1"
4 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 1/2  tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 3 tablespoons water


Procedure

Heat your wok until very hot.  Add the 2 tablespoons oil and drop the meat until brown on all sides.  Mix well and set aside.  Add the remaining 1 tablespoon remaining oil and brown the ginger for 1 to 2 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook until brown. De glaze with the cooking wine.  Add the beef that you set aside earlier. Mix well. Add the Chee Hou Sauce and mix well.  Add the soy sauce, star anise, cinnamon sticks, rock sugar, Daikon, and about 4 cups of water (or just about meat is covered).  Bring to a boil and simmer on medium-low heat for 1 1/2 hours.  Add the cornstarch mixed with water and mixed well.

*servings for 8 to 10
*Serve with steamed Jazmine rice
*Tested and tried at Chris' kitchen 04/14/2011

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Chinese Chicken Adobo


Last night's dinner was Chinese Chicken Adobo with the Pea Sprouts as a side dish. I learned this dish from my mother-in-law, Uy Siok Hui (born in China) who had taught me several secrets of chinese home cooking. She was a great cook and I'm so grateful to her for passing on to me this valuable knowledge   She's gone now, but her memory will live forever every time I cook the dishes she had taught me. 

Ingredients
2  pounds chicken - cut into bite-sized pieces 
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce 
4 hard-boiled eggs (optional)


Procedure
Wash the chicken well under running warm to hot water and cut into bite-sized pieces.  Heat the pan on high with the oil and add the garlic until lightly brown.  Add the sugar until melted and caramelized. Add the chicken and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes and then add the soy sauce by pouring slowly all over the chicken.  Add the hard-boiled eggs. Mix well and cover the pan. Cook for another 10 minutes on medium -low heat.  Mix well and continiue cooking.  Do not add water.  Chicken will perspire.  Simmer on low for about 15 to 20 minutes.  *Serve immediately.

*Serve with steamed jazmine rice
*Makes 4 servings
*Tested and tried at Chris' kitchen 04/12/2011 

Pea Sprouts


Pea sprouts are good accompaniment to your main dish, a highly nutritious green vegetable derived from snow peas or snap peas.  They are very rich in vitamins and minerals, high in Vitamin K and Vitamin C, and a good source of Vitamin A. 

Pea sprouts have a mild delicate flavor, crisp, light, and refreshing.  You can eat them fresh, lightly steamed, lightly sauteed, make into a salad, or as a garnishing.  My favorite is stir frying with little oil and garlic. 

Ingredients
8 to 10  cups pea spouts
1 1/2 tablespoon canola oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon oyster sauce (optional)
pinch of salt

Procedure
Wash the pea sprouts under cold water and spin dry in a salad spinner. Heat the wok, add the oil and the garlic.  Just cook until lightly brown.  Add the pea sprouts and keep mixing until just about wilted.  Sprinkle salt and add the oyster sauce.  Mix well but do not overcook.

*side dish
*Tested and tried in Chris' kitchen 04/12/2011

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Charcoal Grilled Butterfish and Shrimps with Tomato Orange Salsa


Yesterday dinner's menu was still a no meat meal. It's Friday and it's Lent.  My son and his girlfriend made a simple dinner using Butterfish and shrimps with some salsa on the side.  It turned out really really good for they served them immediately after grilling, still hot from the live charcoals which complimented the cold tomato orange salsa with cilantro that Ann made.  Thank you guys! 

This is very easy. You don't need a recipe for this. Anybody can char grill anything.  Bernard said he cooked the fish for about 10 to 15 minutes on high heat.  The shrimps were skewered alternately with cherry tomatoes and a piece of sliced onion.  The salsa was super easy.  Just chop the tomatoes, onion, cilantro and oranges and mix together.  You can sprinkle salt and pepper and drizzle the juice of one lime if you wish.  Think flavor. Anything you put in there  will enhance the flavor. Just do it in moderation. Serve immediately.

*Serves 4
* Serve with steamed rice
*Tested and tried at Chris' kitchen  04/08/2011

*

Chicken Soup


This soup was made from the other half of the chicken from my previous post which I made into Paprika Chicken.  This dish is so simple and yet so delicious and satisfying.  It was cooked at the same time the Paprika Chicken was roasting in the oven. 

Ingredients
1/2 chicken (cut into 8 to 10 pieces)
1 big yellow onion - cut into chunks
2 stalks celery - cut 1/2"
3 medium-sized carrots - peeled and cut 1/2"
3 medium- sized potatoes - cut into fourths
1/2 cabbage - cut lengthwise into 4 pieces
1 tablespoon salt
3/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Procedure
Bring the chicken to boil with about 6 cups of water in a medium pot for 10 minutes.  Remove the foam or scum that floats on top.  Add the onion, celery, carrots, salt, and pepper and cook on medium-low heat for 20 minutes.  Add the potatoes and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes until potatoes are cooked. Add the cabbage and cook for another 2 or 3 minutes until cabbage is about wilted. Turn the heat off.  Serve immediately.

*Makes 6 to 8 servings
*Tested and tried at Chris' kitchen

Paprika Chicken


Two in one. Yes, I made two dishes out of one bird. I roasted one half of the chicken and made a simple chicken soup out of the other half. It's home cooking and less people will be home to eat lunch.  I just thought it was a good idea to make the entree and the soup out of one chicken. Very satisfying  yet unrivaled in its' ambrosial simplicity.

Ingredients
1/2 chicken
1 heaping tablespoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon canola oil or butter

Procedure
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Wash the chicken well in running warm to hot water.  Mix the paprika, salt, and pepper. Rub the mixture on the chicken.  Coat with oil or butter.  Cook in the oven for 30 minutes. Lower the temperature to 375 degrees F and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes. Rest for 5 minutes before chopping. Serve on a plate.  Serve immediately.

See how the other half of the chicken was made into a simple chicken soup on the next post. 

*Seves 2 to 3
*Serve with bread or rice.
/*Tested and tried at Chris' kitchen/

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Sauteed Shrimps


The simpler you cook the food, the tastier it becomes. You can taste the natural flavor of the food without drowning it in different flavors. If you want to enhance the flavor, you can dip it in any of your favorite sauce.  The simpler the better. You will be amazed how wonderful and tastier food is in its natural form and flavor.  Today I sauteed the shrimps in garlic and little oil just until they turned pink. 

Ingredients
2 lbs medium-sized shrimps with shell
2 tablespoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons sesame oil (you can use any oil)
1/2 teaspoon salt
sprigs of cilantro - for garnishing

Procedure
Wash the shimps well with cold water and cut the two long whiskers/hair with a kitchen scissors on the head of the shrimps. Heat the oil in a pan to high and add the garlic until a little brown.  Add the shrimps and cook just until every shrimp turns pink.  Add the salt. Do not over cook. Put on a serving plate and top with cilantro.

*Serve with steamed rice with your favorite sauce. My favorite is vinegar with chili sauce. 

*Serves 3 or 4
Tested and tried at Chris' kitchen on 04/06/11

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Salted Eggs and Dried Fish Salad


 Ingredients

2 salted eggs, remove shell and slice 
3 teaspoons of fried  dried Herring fish
4 green lettuce leaves
3 slices of big table tomato
1 sprig cilantro

Procedure

Wash your lettuce leaves and dry in a salad spinner. Put 4 whole leaves on a plate. Wash and dry a big table tomato and then slice three 1/4" pieces and lay on top of the lettuce at the center. Shell the salted eggs and slice coarsely. Mold them inside a cup. Turn cup upside down to lay on top of tomatoes at the center. Scoop three teaspoons of the fried dried fish and put on top of tomatoes around the eggs.  Top with cilantro leaves.

*Serves 2
*Side Dish/Salad/Appetizer
*Tried and tested at Chris' kitchen 04/06/11

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Penne Rigate



Today's lunch was prepared and cooked by my son whose fondness for Italian food like all kinds of pasta, Polenta, Italian sausage, pizza, to name a few, is heightened by his affiliation with his Italian-American girlfiend and his Italian-American best friend. His dedication to eating healthy foods and exercising regularly greatly inspires and encourages our family to stay fit and eat healthier foods.

Ingredients
1 lb ground turkey
3 big cloves minced garlic
1 medium-sized finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon salt
dashes of freshly ground pepper
1 big can marinara sauce
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 laurel leaf (optional)
1 package Penne Rigate pasta
1 tablespoon finely chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley, for garnishing
Parmegianno Regianno

Procedure
In a pan, brown the garlic with olive oil in medium heat and then add the chopped onion until it becomes transparent.  Add the ground turkey and  cook until no longer pink.  Add salt and dashes of freshly ground pepper, and 1/2  laurel leaf (optional). Add the marinara sauce and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes.

Bring 8 cups of water to boil and drop the pasta to cook al dente or about 8 to 10 minutes. You can add 1 tablespoon of salt in the water if you like (optional). Strain through a colander and set aside.

Add the cooked pasta together with the cooked sauce and mix well.  Put in a serving plate, sprinkle with the cheese and top with freshly chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley.  Serve immediately.

*Serves 8 to 10 people
*Serve with garlic bread

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What To Do With Herbs in Your Garden

It's springtime but not until yesterday did I see the sun come out after many days of rainfall.  Non-stop raining, days and night, generously watered my plants, my roses, and my herbs, until my backyard almost got flooded. What a way  of nature providing me water to  keep my plants hydrated without any cost and helping me save on my water bill.  

Together with Marley, my chihuahua buddy, it was a delight to discover that some of my plants became so lush and some were inundated with water and were almost dying.  The several pieces of ginger which I kept on top of the soil under my rosemary bush came back to life.  They were starting to get wrinkly in my kitchen when I decided to keep them in the garden. This is one tip I learned from my mother which keeps ginger fresh and ready for use anytime. 

The spearmint has taken over everything. If I don't contain it, all the other herbs will die or just be covered underneath it.  They really spread so fast. I have to trim them by cutting about 6 inches from top, then bundling  5 or 6 sprigs together with a kitchen string and hanging them upside down to dry.  They are good to make tea either fresh or dried.  I just love pouring hot boiling water into some fresh spearmint leaves in a cup, covering them with a small plate and letting them sit for a few minutes. You can also add lemon or brown sugar if you desire.  I also use them more often as a garnish to any dish that I cook.  They add more color and presents the food in a more visually palatable way. You can also use the mint as an additional flavoring in making sauces, salad dressings, and other great ideas and experiments you would like to try.  I remember, I also used it as one of the herbs in making the french sauce for my son's project in his French class in high school, the French Roast Prime Rib with French Green Sauce project. 

How else can you use the prolific mint in your garden?  Some people use it to freshen their breath.  Just snip some leaves, pop them into your mouth and chew.  Don't forget to rinse with water afterwards for you don't want the green chlorophyll to stain your teeth and remain in your mouth. 

Mint is also good to eat with a Vietnamese soup called Pho with some sprouts, basil, and lime.  I have the recipe in my blog if you want to make this delectable soup.  The key to making a good Pho is by simmering the beef for a long time until the meat practically falls of its' bones.

The chives became lush and it's now good to use as a sprinkle on top of my omelets or just for garnishing.  I love how just two pieces of chive artistically placed on top of a dish, one on  top of each other, can visually enhance the appearance of the dish.  It is remarkable that so simple an herb as  chive can make dishes created by famous chefs visually appealing.

My oregano grew and it has to be replanted so it can allow for the small sprouts to grow bigger and have more room to grow.  I use both the dry and fresh oregano in my cooking.  A little will go a long way.  I use it in making a Philippine delicacy called "Dinuguan" meaning made of blood.  Pig's blood is commonly used.  I also use it to make some Italian dishes.

Same with the mint, you can use your oregano fresh or dried.  It is a perennial plant you can keep for a long time.  You can dry them by cutting the sprigs, bundling them together, and drying them upside down by hanging in a cool dry place for about three weeks.  When they dry,  you can keep them in jars with a tight lid and store them for future use.  Just don't forget to label each jar and put the date on them.  This way you can distinguish one from another.  Thyme and oregano might look similar when dried and if they're not labeled, you might use the wrong herb and ruin your dish.

My green onion grew so tall and the leaves were bent, most likely from the wind or because it cannot support itself from it's height and weight.  This is one herb I use a lot.  I put green onion in almost everything; omelets, soups, and as garnish to all my noodle dishes. You can also dry it like the way you dry the other herbs as I have mentioned earlier.  The only thing different is, I would cut them with a kitchen scissors 1/4", the size I prefer to dry and store them. You can either air dry them by putting in a bowl and covering them  with a screen food cover or by putting a cheese cloth on top of the bowl and securing it with a string so no bugs will get into them.  After two or three weeks, keep in a jar and cover with a cap. 

You can also dry them by putting them in the oven on a baking tray. Keep the temperature to 'warm' for  6 to 10 hours or more. I also accidentally discovered drying herbs by refrigerating the chopped herb (Italian parsley) for a few days.  This happened when at one time, after dinner, we had so much chopped Italian parsley which we used to sprinkle over our pasta.  I saved and kept them in the ref and days after, I discovered they dried up.  Just cover them or better still keep them  in a jar with the lid on.  You don't want the smell of the other foods in your ref to get absorbed by your herbs.  I was fascinated to find out a few days later that they practically dried so well.   

There are other ways on what to do and how to keep your herbs  in your garden. I'm sure if you research online you can find other ways. These are how I do mine and I have proven them to work for me.  I'm sure it will for you too. 

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