Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Season's Greetings!

It's that time of year...

Happy Holidays to everyone and peace on earth!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Triple Chocolate Extravaganza of Double Chocolate–Orange Torte and Raspberry Truffle Cake

The Chocolate Experiment

My better half requested a chocolate cake for his birthday so I delved into my one and only favorite baking book - the Better Homes and Gardens New Baking Book - for a special chocolate cake recipe (preferably one that I haven’t tried before.) I found two recipes that sounded interesting. One is the Double Chocolate-Orange Torte (1) on page 144, and the other one is the Raspberry Truffle Cake (2) on page 146. Hmmm…., decision, decision! Both seemed simple enough to make, and with a little decoration here and there, either one of them had the potential to become a sumptuous birthday cake for that special someone.

I decided to go with the Double Chocolate-Orange Torte (Better Homes and Gardens New Baking Book – page 144) since it’s a layered cake that has orange marmalade filling in the middle and bittersweet chocolate icing on the outside, elements that make for a perfect birthday cake.

The recipe calls for an 8x8x2-inch baking pan and suggests a simple decoration of bittersweet chocolate frosting with chocolate curls pressed into icing on all four sides of the cake. Simple enough. But silly me, I decided to get creative and had an entirely different idea in my mind for the cake decoration. I have this pretty book called The Essential Guide to Cake Decorating by Whitecap books that I bought a few years ago that I like to browse through once in a while just to look at all the pretty pictures but never really follow through on any of the decorating ideas inside the book. This time, out of all the time in the world, I decided that I might just try one or two of the simpler ideas presented in the book: striped chocolate curls made of white and dark chocolate, on page 130, to be put on top of the cake and spotted collar (white chocolate dots on dark chocolate collar), on page 136, for around the cake. I also decided that instead of having a square cake, I wanted to experiment with having two-level round cakes, one bigger and the other smaller, with the chocolate spotted collars around the two-level cake and the striped chocolate curls prominently planted on the top level of the cake, wouldn’t that be pretty?

Things started well enough at the beginning. I followed the recipe exactly but instead of using an 8x8x2-inch baking pan, I switched to a 4-inch springform pan and a 6-inch baking pan for the two-level cake. While waiting for the cakes to bake, I did the preparation for the striped chocolate curls. I was in a good mood and was all excited to start decorating the cake, having a vivid picture of the pretty two-level Double Chocolate-Orange Torte - with the spotted collars and striped chocolate curls - in my mind’s eye.

And then this happened. Oops! Forgot to put a cookie sheet underneath that 4-inch springform and as a result, the dough spilled all over to the bottom of the oven and made this mess! There goes my two-level cake!

Not to be outdone, the chocolate that I was tempering to make the striped chocolate curls would not set properly, so no chocolate curls for now! This one was entirely my fault though, because I used a non-baking white chocolate, with a “smooth centre”, no less. So the chocolate didn’t set well. Lesson learned. Somehow this chocolate tempering session (3) still managed to produce some chocolate shavings that proved to be useful in the end.

Being the obsessive compulsive that I am, I just couldn’t make do with the one good cake that I had. I wanted to see my pretty two-level cake vision come to fruition, so I came up with plan B: bake another cake. But instead of baking the same cake twice, why not go with the runner-up this time: Raspberry Truffle Cake – page 146? (I was planning to try out that recipe right after the Double Chocolate-Orange Torte anyways and I already had all the ingredients, including the fresh raspberries and the seedless raspberry jam called for by the recipe!) Perfecto!! So I followed the recipe for the Raspberry Truffle Cake word for word, well, except for the 8-inch springform pan – I used a 7-inch one. I wouldn’t say that this process went smoothly either. I think I somehow overbeat the egg whites. Oh well!!

Because I didn’t have the right white chocolate and I was stuck with packages of baker’s dark chocolates, I failed to fulfill my vision of that perfect spotted collar made of white chocolate dots on dark chocolate collar. Instead, I finally got to utilize the never-before-used chocolate transfer sheets that I had hidden since I first bought them a year ago. And these chocolate transfer sheets turned out to be fun to use and pretty to look at! All was well in the end!

The Double Chocolate-Orange Torte was simply divine and the Raspberry Truffle Cake with a mix of raspberry and dark raspberry sauce was simply a chocolate lover’s dream.

(1) Source: Better Homes and Gardens New Baking Book, page 144
Double-Chocolate-Orange Torte

For cake: 3 squares of unsweetened chocolate; ¾ cup all-purpose flour; 11/2 tsp baking powder; ½ tsp baking soda; ½ tsp. salt; ½ cup butter; 1 cup sugar; 4 eggs; 2-3 tbsp. orange liqueur; ½ cup water; 1 tbsp. shredded orange peel.
For filling: Cut cake in half horizontally and drizzle each half with liqueur mixture of 1 tbsp. orange liqueur and 1 tbsp orange juice; spread ½ cup orange marmalade on top and top with remaining cake layer.
For Bittersweet chocolate icing: 1/3 cup whipping cream; 1 tbsp. light-colored corn syrup; 6 ounces semisweet chocolate.

(2) Source: Better Homes and Gardens New Baking Book, page 146
Raspberry Truffle Cake

For cake: 16 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, cut up; ½ cup butter; 1 tbsp. sugar; 11/2 tsp. all-purpose flour; 1 tsp. raspberry liqueur (optional); 4 eggs, separated.
For sauce and extra topping: 1 12-ounce jar seedless raspberry jam (I cup); sweetened whipped cream (optional); fresh raspberries (optional).

(3) Chocolate tempering tips from Chocolate Obsession – Confections and treats to Create and Savor by Michael Recchiuti & Fran Gage, page 28 - 29

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Mom’s Cooking 3 - Pork Feet Stew (Cu Kiok)

Pork Feet Stew
Pork Feet stew (Cu Kiok) is another old time favorite that my mom cooked during my visit; it’s another dish that I will probably never cook on my own since I’ll never get it right even if I try. It’s one of those dishes that is good to have once in a while, although the pork feet and the pork feet skin are supposed to be good for your joints - according to my mother that is - again, there’s no scientific proof whatsoever of this claim. This is another reason why I love mom’s cooking: there’s often a fascinating story or some kind of outlandish claim behind the delicious food that she prepares – I find it quite entertaining.

Pork feet I can tolerate, in fact, the stew sauce is quite tasty to have with a bowl of rice. Chicken feet on the other hand, that’s something else. The claws scare me. I can’t never ever, enjoy eating chicken feet (I tasted a very small bite one time at a dim sum, but really disliked even the texture of it). Some people love it though and I applaud them (since that means that they’re not scared of the claws). Plus, I heard that those chicken feet (supposedly) are good for your joints and cartilage.

Basic Ingredients:
1) Pork feet and thigh meat
2) Dark soy sauce
3) Garlic
4) Star anise
5) Brown sugar or kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)
6) Salt and pepper

Direction (roughly):
Rinse pork feet and meat with boiled water and set aside. Saute pork feet and meat with garlic until fragrant, add soy sauce and sweet soy sauce or sugar, a dash of salt and white pepper, water and star anise and cook on medium heat until boiled and lower heat and simmer for a few hours until the meat falls off the bones.

Mom’s Cooking 2 - Poulet Au Vin Chinois

Chicken soaked in Chinese Red Rice Wine or to make it sound more fancy: Poulet Au Vin Chinois

This Chicken soaked in Chinese red Rice Wine is actually something I’ll probably never cook on my own - no matter how adventurous I may feel in the kitchen. Firstly, this special soup dish needs a special red rice wine that is not available in any store in North America, Chinese or otherwise. My mom usually orders her supplies from a home brewer in Toronto when she’s in town because not everyone knows how to make this special red rice wine well; if you get the wrong make of wine, the soup just won’t taste how it’s supposed to taste: semi-sweet and spiced up. Secondly, this is not exactly a regular dish that one would have everyday, except for a woman who has just given birth to a baby or a woman who has just had her period. This soup (supposedly) has the properties to reinvigorate the after-giving-birth body and to stimulate new “qi” in the body to help strengthen a weakened body. A woman who just had a baby would usually eat several dishes of this per day, everyday, for forty straight days (which could add up to forty whole chickens for forty days, imagine that!!), and according to the (Hakka) Chinese old wives’ tales, a woman who’s just given birth should stay confined within the house for forty days and should not wash her hair for forty days (in the old days, anyways); the old wives’ logic being that a woman’s body who has just given birth has a weakened immune system and it takes about forty days to recuperate. The same (supposedly) “health” benefits of this dish also applies to a woman who has just finished her monthly cycle, except she doesn’t have to eat the dish for forty days obviously, just a couple of servings for a few days, enough to keep the next monthly cycle regular and on time.

I still look forward to having this soup on the rare occasions that my mom cooks it. It’s still a tasty dish even though it (supposedly) has some remedial properties. The combination of ginger and sesame oil produces a nice smoky fragrant that complements the dulcet and mulled flavor of the red rice wine. The chicken, soaked up in wine, is tender and succulent and the boiled eggs make the soup even more enjoyable. A sip of this Chicken soaked in Chinese red rice wine soup gives a jolt of energy to my body and a warm rush through my veins. The ginger is supposed to get rid of chill/wind/cold in the body and the red rice wine is supposed to clean the blood and stimulate new red blood cells, or something like that.

There’s certainly no scientific proof of any of these, after all, this is just a (Hakka) Chinese old wives tale that’s been passed down from the older generations to the new generation and then to me, and so I’m only repeating what I heard, therefore I take it with a grain of salt ☺ Well, there’s my little contribution of an old wives tale to the mother of all old wives tales.

Red Fermented Rice is used to make the Chinese Red Rice Wine


1) Dry ginger – diced unpeeled ginger, sauté in pan on low heat without oil, until dry but not burnt.
2) Red Rice Wine
3) Free range chicken
4) Sesame Oil
5) Chinese herbs (optional) - Hong Zao; Dang Shen; Bei qi (consultation with professional Chinese herbalist required before consuming any of these Chinese herbs)
6) Boiled eggs

1) Saute dry ginger with sesame oil.
2) Add chicken and sauté.
3) Pour red rice wine and herbs and cover.
4) Cook on medium low heat for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until chicken is tender.
5) Add Boiled eggs

Mom’s Cooking 1 - Mom's Chicken Noodle and Dumplings

Mie Ayam mama dan Pangsit ala mama (Mom’s Chicken Noodle and Dumplings)

I had a family get together in Toronto a few weeks ago and I got to taste mom’s cooking again. One of the things she cooked was my all time favorite comfort food, namely mom’s chicken noodle and dumplings. I try to follow mom’s recipe as close as I can when I cook my own Mie Ayam ala luv0food and Pork and Prawns Dumplings, but as soon as I tasted mom’s version, I could tell even from the first bite that hers was somehow… better - the flavor had that certain zing to it that mine doesn’t have. My version is not that bad though, but just not as good as hers is all. It didn’t take much prodding for her to spill the beans, in fact, she is always too happy to share all of her recipes with anyone who cares to ask. I wrote down every detail this time and I am going to try out her exact version of Mie Ayam and pangsit, soon I hope, but meanwhile I have these pictures that I took of mom’s Mie Ayam and Pangsit.

Mie Ayam

A. Chicken and mushrooms topping
1) 2 cloves Garlic
2) 1 chicken breast, diced
3) 5 white mushrooms
4) 1 tbsp. soy sauce
5) 1 tsp. oyster sauce
6) A dash of white pepper
7) ½ tsp. chicken essence powder

B. Noodle sauce
1) Juice from chicken mix topping
2) Fish sauce

Sautee garlic until fragrant, add diced chicken and mushrooms and stir-fry for a few minutes. Add the sauces and pepper and essence powder and stir for a few more minutes until cooked. Marinate cooked noodles with noodle sauce and add the chicken and mushrooms topping and vegetables.

Mom’s Dumplings

1) Ground pork – marinade with a dash of cornstarch, sesame oil, soy sauce, fish sauce and white pepper (before mixing the other ingredients)
2) Ground (white) fish meat (optional)
3) Prawns or shrimps
4) Jicama/yam bean/bengkuang – peeled, cut and sliced
5) Dumpling wraps

Mix marinated pork with ground fish and stir in one direction (the fish meat will cause the meat to be too chewy otherwise). Add jicama and prawns/shrimp to the meat mixture and stir lightly. Put a spoonful of meat mixture on each dumpling skin and wrap. Bring the dumplings to a boil twice, drain and serve.

Note: Don’t put too much cornstarch if using ground fish otherwise the mixture will be too sticky and chewy.

A Variety of Mom's Cooking

I enjoyed a full week of mom’s cooking during my recent family reunion but too bad I didn’t take pictures of every single delicious dish that she prepared, but nonetheless, they were all enjoyable to the last bite. I managed to write down a few more recipes of my favorite dishes from mom though I will have to try cooking them myself before I post them here just to make sure they turn out ok.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Blueberry Muffins

Muffin Express!

Better Homes and Gardens – New Baking Book: page 328 is where I find the recipe to make these blueberry muffins. It’s a simple recipe that calls for a quick mix and stir of flour, sugar, baking powder, eggs, milk, orange peel, an option of either melted butter or cooking oil (I used extra light olive oil) and fresh/frozen blueberries (used frozen, thawed blueberries), baked in a 350F oven for about 35 minutes (or until golden). It only took me about 10 minutes to prepare the dough and then 20 minutes to bake (using convection oven); it was muffin express! The delicious and fluffy muffin was such a nice treat to have with a cup of hot coffee on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Smoked Salmon Spiral Pasta with Blue Cheese and Steamed Eggs

Pasta Express

One thing I love about pasta is that it is very quick and easy to cook no matter how you cook it (as long as it’s al dente). I’m not a big fan of whole-wheat spiral pasta but since it was the only kind of pasta that I had in the kitchen the other day, I had to improvise a simple pasta dish from what I had available in the fridge. The strong texture and taste of whole-wheat pasta (thick ones, like the spiral pasta), in my opinion, can be easily masked with an equally strong flavor sauce such as blue cheese sauce. It only took me 15 minutes (quick by my standard) to prepare this dish, including boiling the pasta. This dish was quick, easy and satisfying.


1) 2 Green Onions
2) Salt, black and white pepper, Mrs. Dash, paprika
3) Cayenne pepper (optional)
4) Blue Cheese
5) Pacific Northwest Smoked Salmon fillet
6) Olive Oil
7) Capers
8) 1 cube frozen dill or fresh dill
9) Whole Wheat Spiral Pasta


Drain pasta and set aside. Heat oil on medium heat. Stir in green onions, salt, pepper, Mrs. Dash, paprika and cayenne pepper and sauté for a few seconds. Add the smoked salmon fillet, divide into chunks and sauté for a minute or until salmon is warm and then remove from the pan and set aside. Add olive oil to the same pan and put the pasta in. Add salt, pepper, Mrs. Dash, paprika and cayenne pepper to taste. Add the cubed dill and Blue Cheese and mix until most of the Blue Cheese melts (with a few small crumbs left behind). Turn off heat and add capers and mix. Add the mixture to the salmon and mix. Can be served warm or cold.

Steamed Eggs with Smoked Salmon

My mom used to cook steamed eggs dish as a last resort - whenever the supplies of fresh ingredients had run out by the end of the week and she had not gone to the market to resupply. It’s basically scrambled eggs, mixed with a few drops of water, salt and white pepper and then steamed. I was just trying to be creative with this dish by adding chunks of smoked salmon fillet, green onions and red-hot chili pepper. But I think mine was a little bit dryer than the ones I used to have. It wasn’t bad though, but it wasn’t great either. I think it would’ve been better without the extra ingredients in it; it would’ve been better to stick with the tried and true, simple but original recipe.


1) 3 eggs
2) Green Onions
3) Salt, black and white pepper, paprika
4) 2 small red hot chili peppers (optional)
5) Pacific Northwest Smoked Salmon fillet
6) 1 tbsp. water


Beat eggs, green onions, peppers, salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix in chunks of smoked salmon and water. Put the bowl on a steamer stand inside a big enough pot with 2 cups of water. Cover and let the water boil and the egg is cooked.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Chicken Braised with Caramelized Red Onions in Red Wine Reduction and Chicken Leeks Clear Soup

Multitasking Chicken Thighs

It has been raining a lot in this part of the world and the air has been cold and damp so I was planning to make a big pot of hot chicken soup with the package of 4 chicken thighs that I had in the fridge. But then I thought it would be such a waste to only cook soup with those meaty chicken thighs; surely you can make a hearty meal out of those chicken thighs in addition to the soup (as it turned out, they made four hearty meals for two people in two dinners). So with those four chicken thighs I managed to not only make a big pot of Chicken Leeks Clear Soup, but also a chicken dish that I’d like to call Chicken Thighs Braised with Caramelized Red Onions in Red Wine Reduction.

Chicken Leeks Clear Soup


1) 2 leeks – chopped
2) 4 chicken thighs

3) 2 cloves garlic – smashed

4) Thumb sized ginger – smashed

5) Salt, black and white pepper, Mrs. Dash

6) ½ tsp turmeric


Put all ingredients except turmeric in a pot with water and boil on high heat. Once boiled for the first time (10-15 minutes), take chicken thighs out and set aside. Add ½ tsp turmeric and 1/4 cup of water and bring to another boil. Let simmer for another 10 minutes on medium low heat and then on low heat until serving time.

Chicken Thighs Braised with Caramelized Red Onions in Red Wine Reduction


1) 1 clove garlic – chopped
2) 1 shallot – sliced

3) 1 red onion – thinly sliced
4) Sea salt, black pepper, Mrs. Dash, paprika

5) ½ cup red wine

6) Canola or Olive oil

7) 4 chicken thighs from the soup


Heat canola oil in a pan on medium high heat. Add sliced shallot and chopped garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add a dash of sea salt, black pepper, Mrs. Dash and paprika. Add red onion and sauté for one minute. Add ¼ cup of red wine and turn heat to medium low and let simmer for about 5-10 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by half. Add another ¼ cup of red wine and let simmer again for another 5-10 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by half. Put the chicken thighs from the leeks soup on top of the semi caramelized onions with the wine reduction and cover and let simmer on medium low heat for another 5 minutes. Add a pinch of sea salt, black pepper, Mrs. Dash and paprika on top of the chicken, turn chicken over once and then once more so the skin side is up. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and put the pan in the oven and let bake for 15-20 minutes (or until the meat is cooked and no longer red inside). Remove the aluminum foil and broil for 3 minutes. Take the pan out of the oven and let sit for a minute and serve with pasta.

Whole Wheat Pasta soaked in Olive Oil

Drain pasta once boiled. Add olive oil, salt, pepper, Mrs. Dash to taste and garnish with thyme. Serve with the Chicken Thighs Braised with Caramelized Red Onions in Red Wine Reduction.

The chicken is tender and juicy and the red onion with red wine reduction sauce adds a rich and delectable flavor to the whole dish.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Génoise in Strawberry Champagne Sauce

Strawberry spectacular!

Génoise in Strawberry Champagne Sauce, page 242 in the “Spectacular Desserts” section of the “Better Homes and Gardens - New Baking Book”. The exact title is: Olive Oil Génoise in Strawberry Champagne Sauce.

I generally don’t make any dessert that contains the word “spectacular”, or any fancy foreign word (especially in French – which to me is like the couture of all cuisines) in its description. “Spectacular” sounds a little too intimidating to me - if a dessert is “spectacular”, it must be hard to make - and “génoise”?? Well, that just sounds too sophisticated and I didn’t even know what the word meant. And so for the past two years since I purchased this “Better Homes and Gardens - New Baking Book”, never once did I try any of the recipes in the “Spectacular Desserts” section, that is, until last week.

Olive Oil Génoise in Strawberry Champagne Sauce is the first of the “Spectacular Desserts” recipes that I have ever tried. I chose this recipe because after reading the step-by-step instruction carefully, I realized how simple it actually was (especially if you own a KitchenAid Stand Mixer). In addition, I also liked the fact that it only contains 275 calories per serving, which is a fraction of what those other fancy desserts usually contain. How can I not love this “Better Homes and Gardens - New Baking Book”? Not only can I pick and choose any of the 600 plus recipes based on how easy the recipe is and how nice the picture looks in the book, but I can also pick and choose the recipe based on its nutritional value.

The recipe for the génoise calls for 6 eggs, ¾ cup sugar, 1/3 cup extra-light olive oil (not extra-virgin olive oil), and 1¼ cups sifted all-purpose flour, and the mixture is to be baked in a 9-inch springform pan. However, since I didn’t want to use so many eggs, I only used 2/3 of each of the ingredients, starting with 4 eggs, etc. (hence, I’d like to speculate that I only consumed 2/3 of the given calories and fat per serving,) and I used a 6½-inch springform pan. To my relief, the génoise turned out well and those high school math classes really paid off. The génoise was nice and fluffy and the strawberry champagne sauce gave a complementary fruity-syrupy flavor to it. It was spectacular indeed!

P.s. After googling “génoise”, I now know what the word means.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Sandwich Pizza with Prosciutto, Capicolla, Soppressata & Mozzarella

The Italian dish that never was...

I’m sure the Italians don’t serve them like these (pictured above), but when you’ve got prosciutto, capicolla, soppressata and a chunk of fresh mozzarella in the fridge and nothing else but an empty stomach, you do what you gotta do. In my case, I just quickly layered the prosciutto, capicolla, soppressata together with some mozzarella and sliced Swiss cheese (a slight deviation here), sliced tomatoes, diced green olives and slices of red onions on top of slices of cornbread (that’s been sitting on the kitchen counter for a few days), baked them for about 10 minutes in the oven and pronto! I just built myself a number of makeshift but delicious mini pizzas good enough to quiet down my growling stomach. The authentic Italian panini can be made some other day, when I am not starving.

Melted cheese is simply the best!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Turkey Soup

Turkey Leftover - Day 6 - Turkey soup for the soul

No turkey left behind! My partner took the initiative to put the leftover turkey bones in a big pot of water and boil it into soup because I argued that those leftover bones would not make a good soup since they had been roasted/cooked before. To my delightful surprise, the soup was actually quite delicious and even heart warming. I love a nice hot bowl of clear and simple soup and this leftover turkey soup was definitely clear and simple in appearance but rich and complex in flavor. Never again will I underestimate those leftover turkey bones!

1) Thanksgiving turkey leftover bones.
2) Water.
3) 2-3 carrots, peeled and cut.
4) Cilantro.
5) Salt, black and white pepper and Mrs. Dash.

Place all ingredients in a big pot and bring to a boil. Lower heat and let simmer for a few more minutes. Serve warm in a bowl.

Turkey Whole Wheat Pasta

Turkey Leftover - Day 5 - Turkey pasta - Part II

Another plate of pasta, with cheese on top.

1) Whole wheat pasta, boiled and drained.
2) Leftover turkey, stuffing, gravy and vegetable broth.
3) Italian parsley, chopped.
4) 1 small shallot, diced.
5) Salt, pepper, Mrs. Dash and paprika to taste.
5) Grated cheese.

Heat oil on medium heat. Sautee diced shallot until fragrant. Add leftover turkey and stuffing and stir fry for a few minutes. Add gravy and vegetable broth by the tablespoons and let simmer for a few more minutes. Add chopped Italian parsley and cooked pasta. Season with salt, pepper, Mrs. Dash and paprika. Remove from pan and serve warm. Garnish with grated cheese. Serve with fried egg on the side (optional).

Friday, October 24, 2008

Turkey Grilled Gouda Sandwich

Turkey Leftover - Day 4 - Turkey Sandwich

It's good-a!

1) Whole wheat bread.
2) A couple of slices of Smoked Gouda cheese.
3) Leftover turkey and stuffing
4) 1 tsp. of leftover turkey gravy (for extra flavor)
5) 1 tsp. of cranberry sauce.
6) Italian parsley.
7) 1/4 tsp. of butter to brush on the outside of the bread.

Layer all ingredients on each side of the bread, sandwiched together. Brush butter on the outer side of each bread and grill. Serve warm.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Drunken Turkey Pasta

Turkey Leftover - Day 3 - Turkey Pasta

1) Leftover turkey and stuffing.
2) Leftover gravy.
3) 1/8 cup red wine.
4) 1 small shallot, diced.
5) Pasta, boiled and drained.
6) Canola oil.
7) Salt and pepper to taste.
8) Thyme.

Heat oil in a pan. Sautee diced shallot until fragrant. Add slices of leftover turkey and stir fry for a few minutes. Add 1/4 cup of leftover gravy and 1/8 cup of red wine and let simmer on low heat. Add cooked pasta and mix. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with fresh thyme and serve with reheated leftover stuffing on the side.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Turkey Wraps

Turkey Leftover - Day 2 - The Wraps


1) Leftover turkey & stuffing
2) Italian parsley or cilantro
3) 1 tbsp. of blue cheese
4) 1 whole wheat wrapper
5) 1 tsp. cranberry sauce
6) 1 tsp. leftover gravy
7) 1 leave of lettuce (optional)

Place all ingredients on the wrapper. Grill for 5 minutes. Serve warm.

Turkey Dinner Platter

Turkey Leftover - Day 1

Enough said!

Thanksgiving Roast Turkey Dinner with Potatoes and Green Beans

A week of Turkey Delights

What happens when you have an 8 lb. worth of Thanksgiving roast turkey and only 2 people to eat it? A Turkeyathon - a full week of turkey themed dishes!

The first time I ever roasted a turkey was about 6 years ago. There isn’t any kitchen nightmare story to tell though: the turkey didn’t get burnt or caused a fire in the kitchen or anything disastrous like that. The turkey got roasted all right, but not only did it look pathetic (it didn’t have that roasted brown look that I imagined it would look based on what I’d seen in TV commercials and restaurant’s chef prepared rotisserie chicken), it also tasted very bland and dry and at the time I thought that it really wasn’t worth all the mess left in the kitchen, not to mention the whole day wasted preparing it, and so I’ve sworn off roasting turkey ever since. As a result, I’ve skipped Thanksgiving dinners for the next 6 years after that (not that I have a family tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving in the first place), at least until last week. It was a last minute decision. We went grocery shopping and saw a mountain of frozen turkeys and thought maybe we’d give roast turkey a try. It was on the Sunday before Thanksgiving Monday holiday so we thought, “Heck, why not!” After all, what would a Thanksgiving holiday be without some self-inflicted kitchen disaster?

This time around I had a little bit more of confidence in my cooking ability and a little bit of motivation. I attended a Christmas soiree at my cousin’s house last year where she prepared a variety of sumptuous holiday dishes, including a delicious and juicy roast turkey. I admit that I was a little jealous of her delicious and juicy roast turkey so I picked up some tips from her on how to successfully prepare a roast turkey that won’t look or taste bad. As it turns out the secret really is in brining the turkey overnight and then brush some butter on the skin while roasting to make the skin brown and somewhat crispy (a few steps I missed some years ago when I unsuccessfully attempted to roast a turkey). I followed her advice this time and armed with some culinary courage of my own and a pack of poultry blend herbs, I attempted to roast a turkey once again, without expecting too much out of this experiment. To my delightful surprise, the roast turkey turned out nicely: browned and crispy on the outside, juicy and delicious on the inside. I especially loved the stuffing and the gravy that was made out of the turkey juice. Bland, it was not at all! As a result we were stuck with lots of delightful and delicious leftovers that we actually didn’t mind eating day after day for one whole week.

A Canadian Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner

1. Defrost frozen Turkey in salt water overnight (starting midnight) at room temperature up until around 11 AM the next day.
2. Prepare stuffing
3. Prepare herb (poultry herb) butter
4. Prepare vegetable stock

Vegetable stock:
1) ½ large white onion
2) 2 shallots
3) 3 carrots
4) ½ cup cilantro (replacing celery – there was no celery)
5) 2 cloves garlic
6) ¼ cup shiitake mushrooms
7) Salt, black and white pepper and Mrs. Dash

Direction for stock:
Put all ingredients in pot with water and boil. Once boiled, strain to get the liquid and discard ingredients. Set aside.

1) 3/4 (large size) yam
2) 3 Carrots
3) ½ large white onion
4) 2 shallots
5) 1 clove garlic
6) ¾ cup shiitake mushrooms
7) 4 multigrain toasts
8) 1 tbsp. roasted sesame seeds
9) Salt, pepper, Mrs. Dash

Direction for stuffing:
1) Heat canola oil in a pan and cook yam slices, put a pinch of salt, pepper and Mrs. Dash, cook until slightly soft but not mushy. Add a couple of tablespoons of vegetable stock to prevent the yams from drying out and burning. Place the cooked yams in a mixing bowl and set aside.
2) Using the same pan, add more canola oil. Put the rest of the ingredients, except sesame seeds and toasts, and sautee until all the vegetable juices come out. Season with salt, white and black pepper and Mrs. Dash and a pinch of paprika. Add a little of the vegetable stock to the mixture to keep it moist. Once cook, add to the yams and mix. Shred the toasts into the mixture and add the sesame seeds. Stuff into the turkey’s cavity (after inserting some of the poultry herbs from the herb butter dressing into the cavity – see herb butter).

Herb butter dressing:
1) Place a bunch of poultry herb in a pan (thyme, rosemary, sage and Italian parsley) on a medium heat.
2) Spoon approximately 3 tbsp. of butter into the herb mixture and heat till butter is melted. Set aside.
3) Take out a few of the herbs from the butter mixture and insert into turkey cavity before inserting the stuffing.

Roast Turkey:
1) After inserting herb and stuffing, place turkey in a roasting pan with carrots and yams and 2 - 3 cups of vegetable stock, a couple more sprigs of herbs from the herb butter dressing and cover and place in a preheated oven at 350 F.
2) Roast for about one hour.
3) Open the oven and baste the turkey with juices from inside the pan. Keep roasting and check turkey and keep basting with juices a couple more times every half hour for a few more hours or so until the turkey and stuffing inside it reach a temperature of around 150 F. Sprinkle the turkey skin with a pinch of paprika and pieces of thyme. Start brushing the skin evenly with herb butter dressing and keep roasting, uncovered this time until the turkey and the stuffing inside it reach a temperature of 175- 180 F and the skin turns brown. If the skin turns brown before reaching the desired temperature, cover with aluminum foil to prevent burning.

Turkey mushroom gravy:

1) 2 cups of roast turkey juice.
2) 1 shallot.
3) ½ cup vegetable stock.
4) ½ cup dried or fresh black mushroom.
5) Salt, pepper, Mrs. Dash, paprika, saffron.
6) ¼ cup of red wine.
7) 2 tbsp. of cornstarch.

1) Heat oil over medium heat and sautee slices of 1 shallot. Once fragrant, pour 2 – 3 cups of juices from the roasting pan (roast turkey juices) and heat until almost boiled. Prepare ½ cup of dried black mushrooms that has been rehydrated. Mix mushroom into the juice in the pan and keep boiling under medium heat. Add a couple of tablespoon of vegetable stock once it boils and keep boiling.
2) Season with salt and pepper and Mrs. Dash and a pinch of paprika. Add a couple strands of saffron (optional). Lower heat.
3) Pour ¼ cup of red wine and keep boiling under low heat.
4) Place 2 tbsp. of cornstarch in a small bowl and dissolve with cold vegetable stock/water. Pour the cornstarch mixture into the juice and keep boiling for a few more minutes under low heat.

Green beans:
1) 2 – 3 cups of green beans, washed and drained.
2) ½ tbsp. canola oil and ¼ tbsp. sesame oil
3) ¼ tbsp. roasted sesame seeds

Heat canola and sesame oil in a pan over medium heat. Add green beans and sautee until cooked. Add a couple of tablespoons of vegetable stocks now and then to keep the vegetables from drying out. Once cooked, sprinkle sesame seeds and turn off heat.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Buffalo Lettuce Cheese - BLC

Buffalo Saucer

For dinner last night, I had this spontaneous creation that I dubbed the "Buffalo Saucer". I had a half-pound package of ground buffalo meat that has been sitting in the fridge for a few days so I finally decided to do something with it. I was initially planning to cook Mexican styled meat as a taco dish, except that I did not have the right Mexican spices or any taco shells. Off my partner went to the closest store to get some taco shells. Unfortunately, the store does not stock any taco shells so my partner made do on the only available alternative – English muffins; hence the creation of "Buffalo Saucer" in my kitchen.

Since we just went to a specialty Italian grocery store the other day, we had a full stock of Italian goodies such as assorted olives, the Italissima's red pepper spread and sun dried tomatoes that we couldn't wait to try out, so we decided to incorporate those ingredients into the dish.
The result was better than expected - the meat was juicy and slightly spiced and the English muffin gave a unique texture to the dish. It was a symphony of flavors, if I may say so myself ;-)

½ lb. ground buffalo
¼ tsp. of Salt and black pepper
¼ tsp. Mrs. Dash
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
¼ tsp. paprika
A pinch of sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 shallots, minced
1 green onion
1/4 cup of red wine
2 tbsp. red pepper spread/paste
3-4 sundried tomatoes, sliced
1 tbsp. olive oil or canola oil

Lettuce leaf
Mozzarella cheese, grated
Hot sauce to taste
English Muffin, toasted
Salsa sauce
Olives (side dish)
Red beans (side dish)

Heat oil in a pan on medium high heat. Sautee garlic and shallot until fragrant, add ground buffalo and mix. Add salt, pepper, Mrs. Dash, cayenne pepper, paprika and a pinch of sugar and sautee meat until almost cooked. Turn heat down to medium low. Add green onion and half of the 1/4 cup of red wine and let simmer. Add red pepper paste and sundried tomatoes and the rest of the red wine and let simmer for a few more minutes. Turn off heat and let sit on in the pan.

Place one side of toasted muffins on a plate and layer with lettuce leaf. Add a tablespoonful of meat mixture, a teaspoon of salsa and a dash of hot sauce and garnish with grated cheese. Put the other side of muffin on top and serve.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Mie Ayam ala luv0food

My Comfort Food

As an Indonesian living abroad, one of the dishes that I often miss is "Mie Ayam", literally means Chicken Noodle, except it's not the Chicken Noodle as it's know in the West that comes in soup base. The Indonesian Mie Ayam, or rather, Mie Ayam ala Jakarta (there's also Mie ala Medan, etc), is usually served dry with soup on the side and from my experience, you can not find anything like the original Mie Ayam outside of Jakarta, not even in other parts of Asia. There were times when I often craved Mie Ayam only to end up being frustrated by the lack of similar tasting noodles all around North America and as a result ended up stuffing myself, dissatisfying as they were, with Hong Kong style noodles instead.
The only time that I would ever satiated my craving for Mie Ayam was either when my mom came to town and prepared it for me, or when I went to visit Jakarta and gorged on every variety of Mie Ayam there was . But that was before I ever got used to spending time in the kitchen (preferring to eat out/take out most of the time). I am a little bit more familiar with working around the kitchen these days (as I've matured....), so I asked my mom for the recipe that she uses in constructing her homemade Mie Ayam (and with a little tweaking of my own, as usual); although it's still not the exact taste that you get from the original Mie Ayam that you can only get in Jakarta, it is close enough. As it turns out, it's not as hard as I have imagined - it never is. So these days, whenever I have a craving for Mie Ayam - which I consider to be my ultimate comfort food - I no longer end up stuffing myself with other dissatisfying food to compensate for the unfulfilled craving, but instead, I just go to my favorite Chinese supermarket (T&T supermarket, where they have just the perfect type of noodles for Mie Ayam), get all the necessary ingredients and concoct the perfect Mie Ayam as best I can. And I always end up being satisfied - even if I end up eating the same thing for three days in a row (sick, isn't it?)


1) Noodles Mixing Sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 shallots, minced and 1/2 green onion
  • 1/2 tsp. white pepper and a pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tbsp. light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1/2 tbsp. Chinese white cooking wine
  • 1 tbsp. chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp. canola oil
2) Chicken and Mushrooms Toppings
  • 2 Chicken breasts, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 tsp. corn starch mixed with 1 tbsp. chicken broth
  • 1/2 dozen of white mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 shallots, minced and 1/2 green onions
  • 1/2 white pepper, a dash of salt and 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp Chinese white cooking wine
  • 1 tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp. sweet soy sauce (kecap manis ABC or similar)
3) A pack of Shanghainese pulled noodles (usually comes with 3 portions of noodles)
4) Bok choi or any Chinese greens
5) Bean sprouts
6) Optional: Fish Cake, sliced, fried till crispy and add to toppings


1) Noodles Mixing Sauce - Heat oil in a skillet on low heat, throw in minced garlic and stir till fragrant, mix in sauce and stir for a few minutes till mixture is boiled, set aside and let cool.

2) Chicken and Mushrooms Toppings - Mix chicken cubes with cornstarch mixture and cook with half of prepared garlic in a skillet on medium-high heat. Add the minced shallots and green onions and mix. Pour a tablespoonful of sauce mixture and keep stirring. Add more liquid (chicken broth) to prevent meat from drying and sticking to the pan. Set aside once cooked. In same skillet, throw in the rest of minced garlic and mushroom and add sauce by the teaspoonful till mushrooms are cooked. Throw in the cooked chicken and mix together with mushrooms for a few more minutes, add the rest of the sauce mixture. Set aside in a bowl.

3) Boil vegetables and noodles. Once boiled, drain the water and put on a plate. Add the Noodle Mixing Sauce by the tablespoons to the noodle and vegetables and mix right away to make sure the noodles don't stick together. Put Chicken and Mushroom Toppings on top. Enjoy!