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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

5 Star Makeover: Farm to Table Tamale Pie

It is always so much fun to participate in the monthly 5 Star Cooking Group, hosted by our friends Natasha at 5 Star Foodie and Lazaro at Lazaro Cooks! This summer's June and July theme is "Farmers' Market". We all love farmers' market. The fruits never disappoint and the unique produce always bring surprises like gorgeous flowers, exotic herbs, and cute heirloom tomatoes. This is the first 5 Star Makeover where I decided to browse and buy all the ingredients first before making a dish.
Farm to Table Tamale Pie
As I stared at the beautiful and colorful herbs, edible flowers, corn, heirloom tomatoes, I was reminded of Mexican cuisine. I envisioned a delicious tamale pie made with beans, corn, and tomatoes and served over a bed of mixed herbs, greens and flowers. I couldn't help but thinking it's a wonderful idea as I inhaled the fresh scent of all the herbs, mixed with the enticing smell of a baking corn tamale pie.

Tamale Pie on a Bed of Herbs, Greens and Edible Flowers

Tamale Pie
Serves 4-6

  • Butter for greasing casserole
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 lb of ground turkey
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed through garlic press
  • 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp of chili powder
  • 1 tsp of table salt
  • 1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 15 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup of fresh corn kernels
  • 1 tbsp of minced fresh oregano
  • 2 ounces of shredded monterey jack cheese
  • Ground black pepper
  • 4 cups of water
  • 2 tsp of table salt
  • 1.5 cups of coarse cornmeal
  1. For the filling, butter 3-quart casserole. Preheat oven to 375F. 
  2. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat and add ground turkey to cook until no longer pink (about 5 minutes). Add onion and jalapeno and cook for 3 minutes, then add garlic cayenne, chili powder, and salt, and cook for 30 seconds. 
  3. Add tomatoes with juice, black beans, and corn and simmer until most of liquid has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in oregano and season with salt (I added quite a bit of salt here) and pepper to taste.
  4. For the crust, bring water to boil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over high heat. Add salt and slowly pour in cornmeal while whisking vigorously. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook while whisking until cornmeal mixture thickens, about 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat.
  5. Spread 2/3 of cornmeal mixture on sides of buttered casserole (optional: you can also spread them on the bottom if you like). Spoon turkey mixture evenly into casserole and sprinkle with cheese. Spread remaining cornmeal mixture evenly on top of cheese, spreading it out to edges of casserole to seal filling.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes uncovered and serve. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Pork Trilogy III: Arugula Braised Pork Pizza

Here comes volume 3! You have now braised the pork from Volume I and made some delicious mouthwatering waffled french toast sandwiches. Take what's left of the braised pork and make a homemade pizza to share.

Arugula Braised Pork Pizza
Arugula Braised Pork Pizza Makes one 12-16 inch pizza

Pizza Crust
  • 1 cup of warm water
  • 1 tbsp of white sugar
  • 2 1/4 tsp of active dry yeast
  • 3 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
Pizza Topping
  • 1 cup of beer braised pork
  • 1/2 cup of tomato sauce
  • 10 slices of mozzarella cheese (I cut half a mozzarella ball into 10 slices)
  • 1/2 cup of toasted and crushed almonds
  • 1 cup of baby arugula
  • Arugula dressing: 1/2 tbsp of olive oil, 1/2 tsp of lemon juice, a dash of salt and pepper
  1. Stir water, yeast, and sugar together until dissolved. Add the olive oil (3 tbsp) and the salt. Stir in the flour until well blended. Let dough rest for 10 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 425F. Pat dough into pan or on to a pizza stone using fingers dipped in olive oil.
  3. In a shallow bowl, mix pork and tomato sauce. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and microwave for 5 minutes.
  4. Toast almonds, if you haven't already.
  5. Top pizza with pork and tomato mixture. Then sprinkle the crushed almonds over the mixture. Top with slices of mozzarella cheese.
  6. Bake the pizza for 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, toss arugula with arugula dressing. When the pizza is done, just top it with arugula salad and serve.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Pork Trilogy II: Waffled French Toast Sandwich

So assuming you have leftovers from that amazing beer braised pork (for those of you that missed my recipe for the delicious braised pork shoulder, please read Pork Trilogy Volume I), how about making a waffled french toast sandwich with pork shoulder, red sauce, and cheddar cheese? Serve it with a warm barley and kale salad with roasted pears and candied prosciutto.

Waffled French Toast Sandwich
with Red Sauce, Beer Braised Pork, and Cheddar Cheese

Waffled french toasts are perfect for this sandwich because they don't get soggy from cheese and sauce and they add texture to the tender braised pork.

Warm Barley and Kale Salad with Roasted Pears and Candied Prosciutto
served with Waffled French Toast Sandwich

Waffled French Toast Sandwich
Serves 2-4
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1/2 tbsp of cajun powder
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • Nonstick cooking spray for waffle maker
  • 4 slices of white or wheat bread
  • 2 cups of shredded pork shoulder
  • 1 cup of tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese (or 2 thick slices)
  1. Preheat waffle maker on medium-high heat. Preheat an oven to 200F. 
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until frothy. Add milk, cajun powder, and salt and whisk until blended.
  3. Dip 1 bread slice into the egg mixture and soak, turning once, 20 seconds per side. Repeat this with all bread slices. Spray the wells of the waffle maker with nonstick cooking spray. 
  4. Place 1 bread slice in each well of the waffle maker and close the lid. Cook the bread until golden brown and crisp, about 7 minutes. Transfer the french toast to a wire rack set on a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven while you prepare the pork.
  5. Mix shredded pork with tomato sauce in a shallow microwavable dish. Coat pork evenly and spread it out in the dish in a shallow layer. 
  6. Sprinkle or layer cheese on top of the tomato pork mixture.
  7. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and microwave for 5 minutes.
  8. Using a large spatula, gentle separate a square chunk of the pork mixture (about the size of the bread) and place it on a slice of waffled french toast. Top the sandwich with another slice of waffled french toast. Repeat this for the other sandwich. If desired, cut the sandwich into 2 triangles with a sharp knife. Serve with a side salad or on its own.  
I served the sandwich with a warm barley and kale salad with roasted pears and candied prosciutto. It was absolutely amazing. You can find the recipe here at LA Times

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Pork Trilogy: Volume I

Pork shoulder can be so juicy and so "falling off the bone" good, literally, when braised slowly and properly. If you are looking to make something good, try this one. Wait, I'm sorry, try this trilogy of recipes.

This is Volume I: how to properly braise pork shoulder (with beer). Then, in my next two blog posts, I will share with you Volumes II and III, where the tastiest dinners were made with the braised pork. Braise it on Sunday; eat it on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Perfect.

Beer Braised Pork Shoulder

Braised Pork Shoulder
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Serves 4 to 6 (or 8-10 if serving smaller portions along with other side dishes)
  • 4 oz pancetta, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 bone-in pork shoulder (4lbs), skin-on (I remove it after cooking but it adds flavor during the process)
  • coarse salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 head garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp of fennel seeds, toasted and ground (optional, depends if you like the taste of fennel)
  • 1/2 tsp of crushed coriander seeds
  • 2 cups of Belgian-style ale
  • 1 cup of chicken stock
  1. Preheat oven to 300F. Crisp pancetta in a large dutch oven over medium-low heat, until fat is rendered (about 10 minutes). Transfer to a plate using a slotted spoon.
  2. Add onions to dutch oven and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, about 25 minutes. Transfer to a plate using a slotted spoon.
  3. Season pork with salt and pepper. Add oil to dutch oven, and sear pork, fat side down, until golden, about 5 minutes. Flip and repeat.
  4. Add garlic and spices to pot. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add ale, stock, pancetta, and onions; bring to a simmer. Transfer to oven, and braise pork, covered, basting every hour, until meat is falling off the bone, about 4.5 hours. Shred meat (should be effortless at this point) using 2 forks, and drizzle with warm au jus. 
  5. Serve some pork over polenta, gnocchi or potatoes with some au jus drizzled over it.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Try the Nutritious & Cleansing Niçoise

Sometimes I just crave a nutritious and cleansing dinner, especially near the end of the week when a fun-filled/food-filled weekend is fast approaching. I love salads but I usually prefer to pair them with protein or grains. There is one salad that pretty much has it all - an almost forgotten Niçoise Salad.  

Niçoise Salad
I like to think of Niçoise Salad as the "prettier" version of an American Cobb Salad (though I must admit that the Cobb is just as good). It is a specialty of Cote D'Azur and named for the City of Nice. If you find the salad tedious (in relation to other types of salads), you can prep for the dressing and most of the ingredients hours or the day before and store them in separate ziplock bags. All you have to do before you eat is cook the remaining ingredients and toss all of it in the herb-infused olive oil dressing!

Niçoise Salad (recipe from Simply Recipes)
Serves 4-6

  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 1 Tbsp minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh basil leaves
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2-3 cans of tuna
  • 6 hard boiled eggs, peeled and either halved or quartered
  • 10 small new red potatoes (each about 2 inches in diameter, about 1 1/4 pounds total), each potato scrubbed and quartered
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium heads Boston lettuce or butter lettuce, leaves washed, dried, and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 3 small ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into eighths
  • 1 small red onion, sliced very thin (soak in cold water for a few minutes to get rid of the sharp taste)
  • 8 ounces green beans, stem ends trimmed and each bean halved crosswise
  • 1/4 cup niçoise olives (you can substitue kalamata if you can't find niçoise, but they are usually available at the store's salad bar)
  1. Whisk lemon juice, oil, thyme, shallot, basil, oregano, and mustard in a medium bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.
  2. Bring potatoes and 4 quarts cold water to boil in a large pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and cook until potatoes are tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer potatoes to a medium bowl with a slotted spoon (do not discard boiling water). Toss warm potatoes with 1/4 cup vinaigrette; set aside.
  3. While potatoes are cooking, toss lettuce with 1/4 cup vinaigrette in large bowl until coated. Arrange bed of lettuce on a large plate or serving platter (yes, I used a silver platter). Coat tuna with vinaigrette. Mound tuna in center of lettuce. Toss tomatoes, red onion, 3 tablespoons vinaigrette, and salt and pepper to taste in bowl; arrange tomato-onion mixture on the lettuce bed. Arrange reserved potatoes in a mound at edge of lettuce bed.
  4. Return water to boil; add 1 tablespoon salt and green beans. Cook until tender but crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain beans, transfer to reserved ice water, and let stand until just cool, about 30 seconds; dry beans well. Toss beans, 3 tablespoons vinaigrette, and salt and pepper to taste; arrange in a mound at edge of lettuce bed.
  5. Arrange hard boiled eggs and olives in mounds on the lettuce bed. Drizzle eggs with remaining 2 tablespoons dressing, drizzle entire salad with more dressing (if there is any left), and serve immediately.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Crab Noodles in Oyster Sauce

Don't be deceived by its simplicity. This Cantonese noodle dish is often served at parties and get togethers because of the incredible oyster sauce infused noodles. Deep fried noodles are typically used, but I used regular egg noodles instead for the sake of health. It makes a quick yet fancy dinner.

Crab Noodles in Oyster Sauce
I discovered the secret to buying lump crab meat at a good price: Costco. Whenever I visit, I can never resist grabbing a jar. With one entire pound of delicious crab meat, I usually end up making crab cakes, but tonight I wanted to try something new. This dish definitely does it for me!

Crab Noodles in Oyster Sauce
Serves 2 to 4

  • 1 package of egg noodles (usually serves 3)
  • 1 tbsp of vegetable oil
  • 1/2 lb of lump crab meat
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp of ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp of sesame oil
  • Sauce (1 cup of chicken broth, 1.5 tbsp of oyster sauce, 3 tsp of soy sauce, 1/2 tsp of sugar)
  • Starch water (mix 1 tsp of corn starch and 1 tbsp of water in a small bowl)
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 cup of chicken broth
  • Cilantro for garnish (optional)
  1. Follow package instructions to cook egg noodles. 
  2. Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Fry shallots for a minute and add ginger and half of the green onions. 
  3. Mix sauce in a small bowl and add to saute pan. Bring the sauce to a boil. Add cooked and drained egg noodles to pan and simmer noodles on low until most of the liquid has been absorbed (approximately 5 minutes). Mix in remaining green onions and sesame oil. Remove noodle mixture and keep warm in a covered bowl.
  4. Add chicken broth to the original pan and turn the heat up to high. Bring broth to a boil and add crab meat. Bring it to a boil again and add starch water. Cook until it's thickened to your liking, then fold in egg white. Cook for another minute or two while stirring gently.  
  5. Place some noodles in a bowl and scoop a little crab meat mixture on top. Garnish with cilantro if you desire. Serve warm. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

1967 NY Times: Veal Chops Beau Séjour

New York Times' recipes are ones that people preserve, whether they are from newspaper clippings or handwritten notes. NY Times has been publishing recipes since the 1850s! Amanda Hesser from NY Times had a brilliant idea six years ago to collect the best of the best for a big community cookbook - The Essential New York Times Cookbook.

Among the collection of classic recipes, I saw Veal Chops Beau Séjour that was released in 1967. A reader wrote to the NY Times, "I'm still using the original copy from the paper, now deep yellow with age, fragile, held together with Scotch tape." I don't know what it was, but it made me want to try it almost immediately.

Veal Chops Beau Séjour

I served the veal chops with a light lemon arugula salad and Welsh Rabbit mac n' cheese.

for the Lemon Arugula Salad... 
Whisk together 1/6 cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, 2.5 tbsp of olive oil, 1 tbsp of fresh lemon juice, and 1/2 tsp of grated lemon peel for the lemon vinaigrette. Toss with 2 cups of baby arugula.

for the Welsh Rabbit mac n' cheese...
Make Welsh Rabbit (see the recipe here). Mix with cooked rotini pasta. Bake for 20-30 minutes in a preheated 350F oven.

Veal Chops Beau Séjour
Adapted from the NY Times (I mainly revised the servings from 6 to 4)
Servings: 4


  • 4 French-Cut Veal Chops (if it's not frenched already, ask your butcher to do this for you)
  • Flour
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 4 tbsp of unsalted butter
  • 4 peeled cloves of garlic
  • 2 small bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp of red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of chicken stock
  1. Lightly dredge the chops on all sides in flour. In a lidded skillet large enough to hold all 4 chops, heat the oil and 3 tablespoons of the butter. Brown the chops on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes total.
  2. Scatter the garlic cloves around the chops. Cut each bay leaf in half. Place 1 piece on each chop. Add thyme, salt and pepper. Cook the chops, tightly covered, over moderate to low heat for about 20 minutes, or until they are cooked through and the natural sauce in the skillet is syrupy. Transfer the chops to a hot serving dish and keep warm. Leave the garlic and bay leaves in the skillet.
  3. Add the vinegar to the skillet and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until it has evaporated. Add the stock and ¼ cup water and reduce to your liking. Check the seasoning. Turn off the heat and swirl in the remaining tablespoon of butter. Pour the sauce over the chops and garnish each chop with 1 clove of garlic and 1 piece of bay leaf. Serve immediately. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Twist on a Japanese Favorite: Sesame Dorayaki

I remember visiting Japanese shopping centers with my mom when I was younger. The underground level was always a bustling food court that had everything from shabu shabu to beautifully decorated mochi. I could easily spend hours wandering the food halls and sampling a myriad of snacks.

Sesame Dorayaki
One of these delicious desserts was Dorayaki. Dorayaki was basically sweet red bean paste filling sandwiched between two small sweet and fluffy pancakes. These were usually freshly made and served hot.

I made Dorayaki with a sweet sesame paste filling instead. They turned out so well that I told myself I would be making these again soon (with ice cream).

Sesame Dorayaki
Makes about 4 Dorayaki

  • 1 egg
  • 90g of all purpose flour
  • 70g of sugar
  • 1/2 tsp of baking soda
  • 1/2 tbsp of honey
  • 1/2 tbsp of melted butter
  • 20g of cold water
  • 20g of milk
  • Cooking spray
  • Sesame filling: 1/2 cup of roasted black sesame, 1/8 cup of brown sugar, 1/8 cup of softened butter
  1. Beat egg in a medium bowl until bubbly. Add sugar and honey. Continue to beat until thickened slightly. 
  2. Add baking soda and milk into the bowl and mix well.
  3. Sift flour and add flour to mixture. Let it stand for 15 minutes.
  4. Add butter and water to the mixture and stir until well incorporated. 
  5. Heat a small nonstick pan over medium heat and coat pan with some cooking spray. Ladle 1 tbsp of batter onto the pan and let it cook until the surface begins to bubble. Flip and cook the other side until the pancake is well browned. Repeat with remaining pancakes.
  6. With a mortar and pestle, mix sesame filling ingredients together until well incorporated. Taste and adjust sugar or sesame level if necessary. 
  7. Spread some paste on top of one pancake and cover with a second pancake. Enjoy your Dorayaki!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sinful Treat: The Welsh Rabbit

No, the Welsh Rabbit has nothing to do with rabbits.

Welsh Rabbit
You see? No rabbits. Welsh Rabbit, or Welsh Rarebit (which was a term coined later on to avoid confusion with rabbits), is basically hot savory melted cheese served over bread. It is an old British tavern food that has been around since the 18th century. I tried to stay true to the original version as much as possible. Mine is made with Guinness and aged cheddar cheese.

I got carried away researching the history of the Welsh Rabbit and the origin of its name. Why the funny name? Oh some say that rabbit is a poor Englishman's meat and cheese is a poor Welshman's meat. And there are some who say that Welsh peasants were not allowed to eat rabbits on the estates of nobility, so they use cheese as a substitute. Here is my favorite one of all - there goes the saying "if a Welshman went rabbit hunting, cheese would be his supper." I don't know how believable any of these are, but a Welshman knows his food.

Seriously, sinfully delicious. Trust me, it is worth it.

Welsh Rabbit

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground dry mustard
  • 1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup of good dark beer (I used Guinness)
  • 1/2 lb of cheddar cheese, shredded (preferably aged, I used 4-year aged Wisconsin cheddar cheese)
  • A few slices of wheat bread (or any kind of bread you prefer)


  1. Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add flour, salt, pepper, dry mustard and Worcestershire sauce. 
  2. Continue cooking and stirring until mixture is smooth and bubbly, about 5 minutes.
  3. Slowly add milk and continue stirring until mixture comes to a boil. 
  4. Pour in beer and cook for another minute. 
  5. Stir in cheese and mix until melted and well incorporated.
  6. Remove from heat and ladle cheese sauce over wheat bread. Enjoy immediately.