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.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Almond Crusted Rack of Pork with Apple-Currant Puree

Almond Crusted Rack of Pork with Apple-Currant Puree
So today, after getting our first heavy snowfall for the winter season, I decided try my hand at cooking pork. I usually never cook pork besides pre-cooked ham or bacon. My mom loves to buy stuff that are at a good price or is interesting but the problem is, half the time she does not know how to cook it. This time, she bought a fresh rack of pork with six sections (almost spelled 'sextions' lol). So, inspired by Gordon Ramsay and his 'Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb' preparation, I applied a similar method to the rack of pork in my fridge. Surfing the web for other inspirations, I came across a few crusting recipes, one of which was almonds. I tweaked the recipe to my own taste and decided to make a tart/sweet sauce to go with the pork. I chose apple as the fruit because from my knowledge, apples pair great with pork (plus it's a little something different for my house hold). Served with sweet potato mash and wine-spiked boiled broccoli.

Rack of Pork
1 rack of pork with six sections
2 tsp salt (or more to taste)
2 tsp pepper (or more to taste)
1 tbsp olive oil

Divide up the rack into three portions, each wielding two sections. Score fatty side (remove skin if any). On a plate, season with salt and pepper and evenly rub it in on all sides. Heat oil in a skillet or pan and brown all sides. Place on a greased baking sheet in oven and bake at 275 degree Celsius for 15-22 minutes.

1 cup almonds (blanched)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp dry thyme

In a food processor or blender, pulse all ingredients together until well combined and almonds is coarsely blitzed (not into a paste but like course crumbs.) Pour on a shallow plate and set aside.

Sweet Potato Mash
3 medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp butter
5 tbsp cream

In a pot, bring water and salt to a boil and add in both potatoes. Boil until potatoes crumble when poked with a fork. Drain into a coriander and let cool. Mash with a whisk of potato masher. Whisk in butter and cream. Set aside.

Apple-Currant Puree
Instead of making my own apple puree, I bought unsweetened applesauce because I was tight for time.
1 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce (reserve 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup dried black currants
1/2 cup white wine**
5 tbsp real maple syrup
1 tsp salt

Hydrate currants in white wine for 10 minutes. In a sauce pan or skillet, heat 1 cup apple sauce on medium heat. Increase heat and add in currant and wine combo; simmer until alcohol burns off. Add in maple syrup and salt to taste.

Wine Blanched Broccoli
1 cup water
1 cup white wine**
3 tsp salt
1/2 cup broccoli

Bring water,salt and wine to simmer and add in broccoli. Simmer until broccoli is just tender. Take broccoli out of the hot water and emerge in cold ice water for 1 minute to stop cooking process. Drain and set aside.

Back to to the rack (of pork)
Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Bush portions with apple sauce and then coat with the almond mixture. Place onto a clean baking sheet and broil pork in oven at 300 degree Celsius until crust is browned, turning portions occasionally to evenly brown all sides. turn off heat and let rest for 5 minutes. Divide sections and serve. Makes three servings, two sections for each person.


**I used Naked Grape White Wine

Friday, November 12, 2010

Sushi Tray

From top, clockwise: Ebi (shrimp) Nigiri, Smoked Salmon and Philly Maki, Kappa (cucumber) Maki, and California Maki

I was lucky enough to get extra cash this week by making this tray of sushi for one of my mom's customers. They ordered this tray for 40 bucks, with 50 pieces (plus a few bonuses) of sushi. I love making sushi.
I also made a tray for 20 dollars for a family friend who wanted to try. There was around 35 pieces in her tray (I forgot to take a photo...)
Anyways, yeah, so 60 bucks extra in my pocket this week hehe.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Beef Filet with Lobster Tail

So today is my dad's birthday. As part of my gift, I made him and the rest of the family a rather expensive dinner.
Grilled beef filet (medium rare) wrapped in bacon with baked lemon-buttered lobster tail. Served with steamed green asparagus and hollandaise sauce; stir-fried kale and garlic butter potatoes.
The dish was accompanied with  Naked Grape White Wine.