Friday, December 31, 2010

New Years Eve Dinner

Today, I prepared a seafood dinner for my family for New Years Eve. I bought ready-to-cook stuffed salmon from Costco and baked them in the oven. I made Irish Champ (coarsely mashed potatoes with scallions) and Bacon wrapped Scallops. I served all with a little dollop of creamy dill sauce.
As for myself, I bought  butternut squash ravioli from Costco and made a creamy, Bechamel sauce to go with.

Have a Happy New Year!

Stuffed Salmon with Champ, scallops and creamy dill sauce

Butternut squash ravioli with bechamel sauce

Christmas Eve Feast


So, for Christmas Eve, my family and I hosted a huge, bad-ass party for both sides of my extended family. I was the cook, making several dishes for the buffet style dinner. We had three ducks, four crowns of pork, purple mash, brussel sprouts, apple-cranberry stuffing, spinach tarts and etc. Appetizers included smoked salmon on crostini, shrimp wrapped in prosciutto in peach sauce, whole wheat cranberry scones, cheeseballs with crackers and apple with cheese pastries. Dessert included mini peppermint cheesecakes, pastries and Viet treats and fruit. My brother made is signature Cran-Orange Berry Swirl Drink for guests.
Unfortunately, I was unable to take many photos. Most of these photos are taken by my cousin. She, unfotunately did not have enough time to take pictures of the ducks before they were consumed by my hungry guests. Hopefully my other family members have a picture so I can borrow and post.

It was a night full of anxiety, laughter, and satisfied tummies. I don't think I ever cooked that much in my life...

Pine Cone CheeseBall with crackers

Whole Wheat Cranberry Scones/Biscuits

Two of the Four Crowns of Pork, Wrapped in bacon


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Citrus Spiced Duck

So...I decided to do a trial today with the duck that I plan to serve at my family Christmas Eve Party. The recipe and methods are basically the same as the Spiced Christmas Goose recipe by Gordon Ramsay. I roasted the bird in my new culinary toy: the portable roasting oven. It is awesome! I can fit either a whole turkey in it or a couple of smaller birds or meat cuts for roasting. And since it is portable, I just plug it in my garage to avoid having my whole house smell and the settings allow me to keep the heat constant but controlled. I highly recommend it ^^
The duck turned out amazingly moist and I used the drippings to make a very nice but light gravy. My only disappointment was the missing drumstick on the just kind of lost my appeal lol.
I served the duck on sauteed pea greens along with buttery purple mash (taro and purple yam) and garlic orange mash (sweet potato). Yum, yum, yum!!!

The Whole Duck
Orange and Lemons for zesting

Chocolate-Candy Cane Cookies

Hello!! It's the holiday season!! And I felt like baking something. Recipe is from my Kraft magazine but I added a little adjustment of my own; peppermint extract. Also, instead of crushed peppermint, I used crushed minty melts for an extra treat.

1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
3/4 cup  butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 tsp.  vanilla 
2 tsp. peppermint extract
2-1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp.  baking soda
4 squares BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate, melted
1 pkg.  (6 squares) BAKER'S White Chocolate
12 minty peppermint candies, crushed 
HEAT oven to 350ºF.
BEAT first 5 ingredients in large bowl with mixer until blended. Add flour and baking soda; mix well. Blend in melted chocolate. (Dough will be stiff.)
ROLL tablespoonfuls of dough into 52 balls; roll each into 3-inch-long rope. Place, 2 inches apart, on baking sheets, bending top of each slightly to resemble candy cane.
BAKE 10 to 12 min. or until puffed and set; cool 5 min. on baking sheets. Remove to wire racks; cool completely. Melt white chocolate; drizzle over cookies. Sprinkle with crushed candy. Let stand until chocolate is firm.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Steamed Red Snapper with Lemongrass Rice

 Red Snapper steamed in soy sauce, scallions and ginger. My mom bought this whole snapper but it was a tad too big to fit my freezer so she asked the fish monger to saw the head off. So here, I only have the body and tail part (I'm saving the head for a soup). I steamed the fish after marinating it in soy sauce, fish sauce, water, and sesame oil. I steamed the fish with scallions, ginger and lemongrass over a pot of boiling water with white wine and a few stalks of lemongrass for aroma. Rice was cooked with lemongrass stalks and lime zest. Served with Gai Lan that was stir fried in garlic and sesame oil. Garnished with scallions, cilantro and sweet n' salty, deep-fried lotus root slices. Fish was filleted before serving. Yummeh!

Body and Tail of Snapper

Dressed for the steamer
The finished steamed dish

Vietnamese Crepe

Vietnamese crepes, usually filled with bean sprouts, fat belly pork slices, onions and shrimp. These are filled with mushrooms, bean sprouts, and onions because I'm a vegetarian lol. Served with veggie fish sauce, lettuce, cilantro and herbs. I did not made these, my mom did, actually. I usually don't make traditional Vietnamese food because no one can do it better than my mom, so why should I bother? lol
I love wrapping these in crisp lettuce leaves and herbs then dipping it into the salt n' tangy fish sauce. Yum yum!!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Canadian Dirt Cups

 I haven't made a dessert in a while and this idea came from a very strange tale. I was on a bus, going home one evening and I noticed the snow-covered ground. However, it has been warm, therefore, snow has melted, mixed with dirt creating mush and mud. And of course, my culinary mind exploded in ecstasy and I got this crazy idea. Dirt cups, a dessert made of layer cookie crumbles and chocolate pudding. What makes the dessert are the worms that are present, poking out of the layers like real worms poking out of the earth. However, here in Canada, especially where I live, it gets very cold. So, thus I got the idea of placing the worms at the bottom of the cup (hibernating, I guess) continuing the layers of the crumbles (dirt) and pudding (mud). At the top is vanilla ice cream, representing the snow we get. Yummeh but next time I'll use mousse instead of pudding for a lighter treat.
I used Berkley vanilla ice cream; Jello pudding powder; oreo cookie crumbles; and regular gummy worms. The worms weren't as vibrant as I wanted but they worked.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Stuffed Rigatoni

Made this for my dinner tonight. Rigatoni stuffed with a mixture of ricotta and broccoli. Baked in tomato sauce, parmesan and mozzarella. Mmmhhmmmmm!

Ricotta cheese and broccoli mixture
A layer of the stuffed rigatoni.

Dish before being baked.

Mahi-Mahi Fillet with Jewel Coconut Rice

Mahi-Mahi Fillet with Jewel Coconut Rice

This is a little fish dish I cooked up for dinner tonight. Mahi-mahi is a fish that I have never cooked before so it was interesting. Doing some research, I found that the fish resides in subtropical waters thus I decided to make a Hawaiian inspired dish. When thinking of Hawaii I think of pineapples, coconuts and fresh ingredients as well as bright colors. So thus, I made the pineapple puree and the rice.
I did not want to challenge the natural flavor of the fish so I only lightly seasoned the fillets with salt, pepper and a little bit fish sauce. I pan fried the fillets in olive oil and served it with Jewel Saffron-Coconut Basmati Rice and a Spicy n' Sour Pineapple Puree. Very healthy and delicious!

Mahi-Mahi Fillet with Jewel Coconut Rice

Pineapple Puree
1 can of chunked pineapples in juice
1/4 cup reserved pineapple juice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp chopped chilis
2 tsp cornstarch

In a sauce pan, mix all ingredients together and cook over medium heat until pineapples produce more juice. Remove from heat, cool and pulse in a blender. Return to sauce pan and heat through, keeping warm before serving.

2 1/2 cup of brown basmati rice, rinsed and drained
1 can coconut milk
2 1/4 cups of water
1 pinch of saffron
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
5 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

In the rice cooker pot, combine all ingredients and turn switch to cook.
If you don't have a rice cooker, combine all ingredients in a pot and turn heat to medium-high. Cook for covered for 30 minutes or until rice is cooked.
Saute red and green peppers with 1 tsp salt until peppers are tender.
In a large bowl, mix around 2 cups of cooked rice with the sauted peppers. Season more according to your taste. Add in cilantro. Set aside.

4 Mahi-Mahi fish fillets
2 tsp pepper
2 tsp salt
4 tbsp fish sauce*
1 tbsp olive oil

Season the fillets with salt, pepper and the fish sauce (1 tbsp each fillet). Heat the oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Cook skin down until skin is crispy around 3-5 minutes. Flip over and cook other side for 2-3 minutes.

Serve hot with puree and rice. Garnish with a sprig of cilantro if desired.

*I used the Squid Brand which is lighter or I use the Three Crab Brand which is a bit more bold.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Pan-Fried Veggie Fish with Spicy Tomato Sauce

This was homemade veggie fish made by my auntie. It's tofu and other soy products wrapped in seaweed if you want to know the technicality of it lol. I pan-fried it and served it with a spicy tomato sauce made from one fresh tomato, diced and sauteed on a skillet with basil, hot sauce and seasonings. Matched perfectly with the "fishiness" of the "fish." This sauce can also be used on tuna steaks or any other strong smelling fish.

Fuzzy Melon and Egg Stir-Fry


I made this yesterday for supper. This is a household recipe that most Vietnamese families serve. The dish consists of a Chinese gourd called "Mo Qua" or "fuzzy" melon (because of the little fuzz surrounding the outside of the gourd) and eggs. Fuzzy melon has a very delicate texture when cooked, similar to cooked cucumber, and a subtle sweet taste. The gourd is known to increase metabolism and therefore, is a very beneficial health food if you are thinking about going on a diet. It is great in soups and stir fries.

Fuzzy melons
Fuzzy Melon and Egg Stir-Fry
2 medium-sized fuzzy melons, ends cut off and peeled
2 tsp salt or more to taste
2 tsp pepper or more to taste
3 tsp mushroom granules (optional)*
4 eggs, lightly whisked
1 tsp soy sauce
5 tbsp of cilantro, chopped

Slice the melon into half inch thick circles and then slice those circles into half inch thick strips. In a skillet or pan, melt 1 tbsp of butter until it starts to bubble. Add in the melon strips. Cook on high heat until the majority of liquid is evaporated and the melon begins to turn translucent. Season with salt and pepper and the mushroom granules. Lower the heat to medium. Mix soy sauce to the whisked eggs and add to the melons. Stir until eggs are firm and cooked. Remove from heat. Fold in chopped cilantro. Serve hot with steamed rice.

*if you are going to use the mushroom granules, reduce the amount of salt used.