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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Exotic Green Lentil with Roasted Vegetable Salad

I came home to a very pleasant surprise from Foodbuzz and Crisco. Three bottles of olive oil were delivered to my doorstep. As a part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program, I received Crisco Pure Olive Oil, Crisco Light Olive Oil, and Crisco 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Green Lentil Salad, Roasted Vegetables, Fresh Mozzarella

I used Crisco EVOO to make a warm green lentil salad with roasted vegetables and fresh mozzarella.

Green Lentil Salad
From LA Times Test Kitchen
Serves 4
  • 1 cup of French green lentils, rinsed
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup of chopped roasted carrots*
  • 2 chopped roasted shallots*
  • 3 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1.5 tbsp of fresh orange juice
  • 1 tbsp of lemon juice
  • 1.5 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp of dijon mustard
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup of chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1/8 cup of packed sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 3oz fresh mozzarella, chopped
  1. Place lentils, bay leaf, garlic, 4 cups of water, and 1/2 tsp of salt in a medium pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until lentils are tender, about 20-25 minutes. Drain lentils well and discard water, bay leaf, and garlic. Transfer hot lentils to a large bowl. Add roasted chopped carrots and shallots.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, orange juice, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, mustard, 1/8 tsp of salt and a pinch of pepper. Transfer dressing to the bowl of lentils and toss gently.
  3. Add parsley, tomatoes, and mozzarella and toss again, gently, just to combine. Serve warm.
*Roast peeled carrots (cut into chunks) and peeled shallots in preheated 375F oven for 30 minutes until golden brown. Chop roasted vegetables.

Crisco Olive Oil
~ Crisco EVOO - bold and fruity flavor, presents a rich olive flavor in dishes. Ideal for salad dressings, marinades, and dips.
~ Crisco Pure Olive Oil - mild and smooth flavor, adds a hint of fruity olive flavor to meals. Ideal for sauteing meats and vegetables.
~ Crisco Light Olive Oil - extra mild in flavor, perfect for everyday cooking. Ideal for baking and all-purpose cooking oil.

Crisco Olive Oil (100% extra-virgin, pure, and light)
Thanks to Foodbuzz and Crisco!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

5 Star Makeover: Margherita Pizza the Chinese Way

This month's 5 Star Makeover theme is... pizza! Loved the theme because pizza allows so much room for creativity. For my pizza, I chose to make Margherita pizza, with a Chinese twist.

Chinese Margherita Pizza
I wrapped the typical Margherita flavors in a Chinese pastry bun. The slight tinge of sweetness in the dough made the classic Margherita pizza that much more interesting. Although the taste of this pizza bun resembles that of a Calzone, the key difference lies in the multiple layers of a Chinese pastry dough. The texture is light and buttery as opposed to heavy and chewy.

Chinese Margherita Pizza served with a Mozzarella, Carrot, and Arugula "stirfry"
Margherita Pizza the Chinese Way
makes 12 buns
Outer Pastry Layer
  • 1.5 tbsp of butter
  • 2 tbsp of sugar
  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup of cold water
Inner Pastry Layer
  • 1 cup of cake flour
  • 4 tbsp of butter
  • 1 tomato, juice drained and chopped
  • 1/4 cup of basil leaves
  • a handful of toasted pine nuts
  • 1 tbsp of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tbsp of butter
  • 1 tsp of olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 oz of mozzarella cheese, cut into 1" x 2" rectangles
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Oregano, sea salt, and pepper for topping
  1. Mix outer layer ingredients and roll it into a dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes.
  2. Mix inner layer ingredients and roll it into a dough.
  3. Separate dough for each of the two layers into 12 balls. You now have 12 outer layer balls and 12 inner layer balls.
  4. Roll an outer layer dough ball into a flat circle, envelope the inner layer ball and wrap the outer layer around it. Use a rolling pin and roll the combined dough ball into a flat oval shape. From the short side, roll it up and have the opening face downward on a surface. Let it rest for 15 minutes. Repeat this for all dough balls.
  5. Preheat oven to 350F.
  6. Flatten the rolls with rolling pin. Then, roll the flat dough up again into a roll. Roll it out into a flat circle. Repeat this for all dough balls.
  7. Puree basil, cheddar cheese, pine nuts, garlic, butter in a food processor and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. On the flat dough circle, put a small piece of tomato, a small piece of mozzarella, and some basil mixture. Enclose the dough around the filling and shape it into a round ball. Brush with egg mixture and sprinkle dough ball with oregano, salt and pepper. Bake the 12 dough balls for about 25-30 minutes until top is golden brown.
As always, thank you to Natasha from 5 Star Foodie and Laz from Lazaro Cooks! for hosting this month's challenge. Looking forward to September!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hi, I'm a Butter-Braised Fig!

I find figs irresistible, mainly because of the combination of their natural sweetness and chewy texture. Not only that, aren't figs just so cute?! Also, they are one of the highest plant sources of calcium and fiber. What's not to like? This is my new favorite way of enjoying figs. I hope you like them as much as I do.

Butter Braised Figs, Cheese, Nuts
with Balsamic Syrup
 Butter Braised Figs, Cheese, Nuts
Adapted from Jennifer Jeffrey
  • 10 green ripe figs
  • 2 tbsp of butter
  • 2 tbsp of finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp of toasted pine nuts
  1. Melt butter over medium-low heat in a small nonstick pan. Rinse figs and pat dry. Cut off the sharp tips of figs and make a cross-shaped cut halfway deep into the figs like the photo above.
  2. Place figs in pan with melted butter and let it sit for 3 minutes, until the bottoms of the figs begin to soften. Toast nuts until lightly browned.
  3. Remove figs and set them on a plate or cheese board.
  4. Add balsamic vinegar to pan. Turn the heat up to medium-high and let it reduce by half.
  5. Slightly push open the tops to expose the insides of the figs. Sprinkled grated cheese into each. Drizzle with balsamic reduction and sprinkle toasted pine nuts over the top. Serve warm as appetizer or dessert.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Harvest to Heat: Burrata with Speck, Peas, and Mint

I am hooked to my new cookbook Harvest to Heat. For my first recipe, I chose Burrata with Speck, Peas, and Mint. Enjoy this recipe by Chef Nancy Silverton of Osteria Mozza.

Burrata with Speck, Peas, and Mint

This entire book is based on the concept of minimizing the time it takes from farm to table. Authors Darryl Estrine and Kelly Kochendorfer wanted to document a collection of recipes from "cooking with America's best chefs, farmers, and artisans."

This particular recipe is Chef Nancy Silverton's creation based on fresh burrata cheese supplied by Mimmo Bruno of DiStefano Cheese. Thanks to mozzarella, burrata's popularity actually resulted from using leftover mozzarella curd. The curd is stretched into a thin sheet, then filled with a mix of sweet cream and shreds of mozzarella (stracciatelle). I was first exposed to this delicious "cousin of mozzarella" at my favorite gastropub Waterloo & City with its Roasted Beets & Burrata Salad. I was head over heels in love ever since.

Harvest to Heat by Darryl Estrine and Kelly Kochendorfer

Burrata with Speck, Peas, and Mint
Serves 4

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh peas
  • 1/2 cup medium-sized mint leaves, julienned
  • 2 tbsp of fresh lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil)
  • 8 tbsp of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1lb of speck (thinly sliced, about 16 slices)
  • 1lb fresh burrata, cut into 8 slices (it will be oddly shaped) 
  1. Heat a small saucepan of water over medium-high heat. Add peas and cook for 2 minutes. Drain and cool under cold water.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine peas, mint, lemon juice, olive oil, cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix gently until thoroughly combined.
  3. Arrange 4 slices of speck on each of the 4 plates. Place 2 slices of burrata on top and drizzle with pea mixture. Sprinkle 1 tbsp of cheese evenly over the top of each plate. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Today's Bento: Oxtail Stew, Steamed Rice & Chile-Hot Edamame

Bento basically refers to a lunch box. Most of us probably have some sort of memories associated with packed lunches (hopefully positive ones). Thanks to mom, mine was almost always tasty. My bento usually consisted of rice, meat or seafood, and vegetables. Then, I got a little box for fruit. If you were to make yourself a bento, what would be in it? I know. Hard question.

Here was mine today, and I think I chose well. If you've never tried oxtail stew before, I invite you to try this recipe. It's easy and tasty!

Oxtail Stew & Edamame Bento
served with steamed rice

Oxtail Stew & Edamame Bento
Serves 4
Oxtail Stew

  • 1.5lb of oxtails (if you get it from the butcher, ask for oxtails cut into segments)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 cup of red wine
  • 1 cup of beef stock
  • 2 whole cloves of garlic (peel still on)
  • Pinch of thyme
  • Half a bay leaf
  • Cilantro (optional, for garnish)
Chile-Hot Edamame
  • 1/2lb fresh edamame
  • 1 tbsp of peanut oil
  • 2 dried red chiles
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 tsp of star anise pieces
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1 cup of chicken broth
  • 4 cups of cooked white rice
Oxtail Stew
  1. Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Season oxtails (make sure oxtails are patted dry) with salt and pepper. Brown meat on all sides in the Dutch oven. Place oxtails on a plate and set aside. 
  2. Turn down heat to medium. Cook chopped onions in oven until browned (about 5 minutes). Add back oxtails, wine, stock, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, and 1/2 tsp of salt. 
  3. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 3 hours, until meat is tender. 
  4. Skim off fat from the surface or refrigerate overnight and discard fat layer the next day. (If you are reheating the next day, reheat first before proceeding.) Remove oxtails from Dutch oven and cook down liquid by half over medium-high heat. Add back oxtails and let oxtails simmer with thickened sauce for 30 minutes. Serve hot. 
Chile-Hot Edamame
Recipe from LA Times
  1. Peel and rinse edamame under cold water, drain and set aside.
  2. Heat a wok over medium-high heat. Add the oil, swirl it around in the pan and heat until hot. Add chiles and garlic and stir-fry until aromatic (about 30 seconds). Add edamame and star anise and fry for 1 minute. 
  3. Add the salt and broth and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the beans are very tender, about 7 minutes. Serve in bento with oxtail stew and white rice. Garnish with cilantro if desired.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Meatloaf with Red Wine Braised Cabbage

This may sound like a thanksgiving dinner, but it is a tasty and satisfying weekend dinner anytime of the year. I recommend cooking the cabbage first to let it simmer on low heat while you prepare and cook the meatloaf.

Meatloaf with Red Wine Braised Cabbage
Adapted from Good Eats Meatloaf
Serves 6 to 8

  • 6oz of garlic flavored croutons
  • Spices: 1/2 tsp of black pepper, 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper, 1 tsp of chili powder, 1 tsp of dried thyme
  • Vegetable mixture: 1/2 onion (roughly chopped), 1 carrot (peeled and broken), 1/2 red bell pepper (roughly chopped), 3 cloves of garlic (peeled and pressed lightly)
  • 18oz of ground turkey
  • 18oz of ground beef
  • 1 1/2 tsp of kosher salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of ketchup
  • 1 tsp of chili powder
  • Dash of worcestershire sauce
  • Dash of tabasco
  • 1 tbsp of honey
  1. Preheat oven to 325F. In a food processor, combine croutons and spices. Pulse until the mixture is fine. Set the mixture in a large bowl. 
  2. Combine the vegetable mixture in the food processor and pulse until the mixture is fine but not pureed. Add to the bowl with spices. 
  3. Add ground meat, kosher salt, and egg into the large bowl. Mix until well incorporated. Pack this mixture into a 10 inch loaf pan and turn it over onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  4. Bake meatloaf in the oven. Meanwhile, combine glaze ingredients and brush sauce over the meatloaf after the meatloaf bakes for about 10 minutes. Continue baking for another 35 minutes. Make sure to check meatloaf internal temperature to ensure that it's cooked thoroughly.
Red Wine Braised Cabbage
Adapted from LA Times
Serves 6 to 8
  • 2 tbsp of butter
  • 1/4 cup of finely chopped shallots
  • 1 cup of peeled and diced gala apple
  • 1 medium red cabbage, cored, toughly leaves removed, and thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup of dry red wine (I suggest a Pinot Noir)
  • 1 tbsp of honey
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 tsp of caraway seeds, toasted
  • 1 cup of chopped almonds, toasted
  1. In a large Dutch oven, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add shallots and apple and cook for 5 minutes until softened.
  2. Add cabbage, 3/4 cup of red wine, vinegar, honey, and 1 tsp of salt. Add thyme sprigs. Cover the pot, turn the heat to low, and bring to a slow simmer. Simmer for 1 hour while stirring occasionally to ensure the cabbage does not stick to the pan. 
  3. Stir in an additional 1/4 cup of red wine halfway through cooking and add additional water throughout cooking if cabbage becomes dry (though you shouldn't need to). 
  4. Season cabbage with salt and pepper to taste. Add caraway seeds and stir in chopped almonds. Serve alongside a slice of meatloaf.  

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The French Laundry

We finally visited Chef Thomas Keller's 3-Michelin-starred world-renowned restaurant, The French Laundry

Once we were seated, we were provided with two sets of menu that change daily and an ipad for wine selection. One menu was the restaurant's standard menu and the other was a vegetable menu that consisted of lighter courses. We, of course, opted for the standard menu. The restaurant also has four sommeliers to help select the best wine for each course.

The French Laundry Dinner July 31, 2011
"Oysters and Pearls"
Sabayon of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and White Sturgeon Caviar
"Salad of Hawaiian Hearts of Palm"
Beets, Navel Orange, Australian Black Truffle, Pickled Ramps and Nasturtium
Choice A - "Sauteed Fillet of Gulf Coast Red Snapper"
Forest Mushrooms "a la Grecque," Nantes Carrots, Sunchokes and Cilantro Shoots
Choice B - "Seven Spice-Cured Atlantic Fluke"
Hen-of-the-Woods Mushroom "Tempura," Asian Pear, Red Radish, Hass Avocado and Bonito "Gelee"
Choice A - "Flour Story Hill Farm Poularde"
Yukon Gold Potato, Celery Branch and Summer Truffles 

Choice B - "Tete De Cochon"
Brentwood Corn, Bing Cherries, Black Walnut and Arugula

"Elysian Fields Farm Lamb"
"Petit Sale," Marinated Toybox Tomatoes, Summer Squash, "Panisse" and Spanish Capers

"Andante Dairy Cadence"
English Muffin, Blackberry, Fennel Bulb, and Mustard "Aigre-Doux"

"Chamomile Sherbet"
Sunflower Seed "Granola," Summer Melon and Honey

Choice A - "Carramelia Chocolate Cremeiux"
Gros Michel Banana, Georgia Peanuts, "Dentelle" and Salted Popcorn Ice Cream
Choice B - "Nectarine Melba"
Sicilian Pistachio "Pain de Genes," Andante Dairy Yogurt, Biscotti and Raspberry Sorbet
One of the many "snacks" throughout the evening - "Assorted Chocolates"
Peanut Butter Jelly, Hazelnut, Olive oil, Ginger, Fruit, Cherry

A Tour of The French Laundry Kitchen
Real Time Monitor of Per Se, New York
Beautiful Conclusion of our Evening at The French Laundry