Friday, March 27, 2009

Artichokes Provencal

I have been waiting for baby artichokes to be in season to cook this recipe by Mark Bittman. Baby artichokes grown in California are at my local co-op this week - get them while they last because I know I will be making this at least one more time over the weekend!

  • 6-8 baby artichokes
  • 1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup water
  • olive oil
  • salt
How to:
  1. Heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a skillet, add whole cloves of garlic and thyme
  2. Prep the baby artichokes by peeling off the tough outer leaves, trimming the outer edges of the stem, cut the top inch off of the top, and cut in half. Add the artichokes into the skillet.
  3. Once the bottom of the artichokes are slightly brown, add the olives and tomatoes.
  4. Add in the water, cover and let simmer on medium heat for 20 minutes
  5. Salt to taste
  6. Serve with good crusty bread and a little grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Notes: This may be good with a pasta or grain like farro. The bread is great since it soaks up all of the juices.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Indoor Sweet and Sour Tofu Kabobs

Anyone anxiously awaiting outdoor barbecue season? Here is an idea - indoor kabobs that fit on a stove top grill pan. These would be great to serve at a party.

I made kabobs with pineapple, tofu, scallions, and orange bell pepper by skewering on toothpicks. Just like kabobs on the grill, be sure to soak the toothpicks in water for a minute. I grilled these on the indoor stove top grill lightly oiled with canola oil.

My main goal with the sweet and sour sauce was to not use ketchup as so many recipes do (even my vegetarian Chinese cookbook in Chinese).

Sweet and Sour Sauce Ingredients:
  • 6 ounces pineapple juice
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon water
How to:
  1. Combine all of the ingredients except the cornstarch and water in a sauce pot. Heat and let boil for about 30 seconds. Reduce heat.
  2. Make a slurry by mixing cornstarch and water.
  3. Slowly add into the sauce pot and stir until thickened.

Note: The sauce would be perfect to add to a stir fry.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Mango Ginger Creme Brulee

I recently had a wonderful ginger creme brulee at Ngon Vietnamese Bistro in St. Paul. Here is my take on the classic creme brulee inspired by the dish at Ngon.

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 mango
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
How to:
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. In a food processor puree the mango with 1 tablespoon of cream. Mix in the grated ginger and set aside.
  3. Heat the remaining cream and vanilla in a sauce pot until the mixture reaches a boil. Remove from the heat and let cool for 10-15 minutes.
  4. While the cream is cooling, beat the egg yolks and 1/4 cup of sugar until the egg yolks become a pale yellow. Mix in the mango ginger puree.
  5. Slowly whisk in the cream mixture
  6. Pour mixture into 3 8-ounce or 6 4-ounce ramekins. Place the ramekins into a roasting pan and fill up the pan with warm water until the water covers half the ramekins half way.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes if 8 ounce ramekins, or about 30 minutes if 4 ounce ramekins. The mixture should look firm with slightly soft center.
  8. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  9. Before serving, sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar over the custard. Either using a kitchen blow torch or broiler, caramelize the sugar on top. Serve immediately.
Notes: Delicious and highly recommended! I was a bit nervous to add in more liquids (mango puree) in fear that the creme brulee wouldn't set, but it turned out great! I would recommend this or even experimenting with more flavors. The mango ginger puree added about 3-4 tablespoons of extra liquid.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Coconut Chocolate Chunk Cookies

These cookies were an attempt to use up the shredded coconut in the baking cabinet. They turned out so good that I think I will have to replenish our coconut supply to make them again!

This recipe made about two dozen cookies.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark-brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1 egg
  • 6 oz. semisweet chocolate chunks
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
How to:
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl and set aside.
  4. Using an electric mixer, mix together the butter and sugar until well incorporated. Then add the egg and coconut extract to the butter and sugar. Mix until smooth.
  5. Slowly add in the dry ingredients. Once the dry ingredients are well incorporated, use a wooden spoon and mix in the chocolate and coconut.
  6. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the cookie dough onto the cookie sheets, about 1 1/2 inches apart.
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately move the parchment paper and cookies off the pan and cool on a wire rack.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Cheese Soufflé

My soufflé dish has been storing onions and garlic for about a year. I think I was traumatized by the Gorgonzola cheese soufflé I made for Valentine's Day last year. It was time to get back to the basics. I cleaned out the garlic and onions peels and made a classic chesse soufflé.

I used this recipe from Alton Brown. I was a little nervous since the recipe calls for greasing the sides of the soufflé dish, which I thought was the ultimate no-no. But, you coat the edges with grated parmesan cheese for the soufflé to catch upon and rise.

This turned out really well and would recommend this recipe especially for first time soufflé makers.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


I will never buy crackers again. This recipe has been on my food-to-do list for a while and it took a weekend of sipping tea, soup and homemade cold remedies to give it a whirl. These are definitely worth the effort and I highly recommend getting on the homemade cracker bandwagon!

This recipe is adapted from the Bread Baker's Apprentice.

  • 1.5 cups whole wheat flour (see note)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon canola or olive oil
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup room temperature water
  • Spices
How to:
  1. Stir the flour, salt yeast, honey and oil together.
  2. While continuing to stir, slowly add the water into the dry ingredients. Stir until the dough gathers into a ball. The recipe says you may not need the entire half cup of water. I used the entire 1/2 cup -- since I am in such a dry cold climate.
  3. Lightly flour the counter top and knead the dough for 10 minutes. You will know the dough is ready when it stretches thin without breaking.
  4. Spray a bowl with oil and swirl the dough to coat with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for 90 minutes -- the dough should double in size.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  6. Lightly oil the counter top. Place dough on the oiled surface and sprinkle with flour. Roll the dough out until its paper thin. It should be at least 12" x 15".
  7. Place dough on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  8. Mist the dough with water. Sprinkle any spices you would like onto the dough. I used paprika, caraway seeds, cumin seeds, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, salt and pepper.
  9. If you would like pre-cut crackers, use a pizza cutter and cut the desired shapes - the crackers will break even once removed from the oven.
  10. Bake the crackers for 15-20 minutes, when the crackers are evenly browned.
Notes: The original recipe used unbleached white flour. I used whole wheat since I like grainy crackers. Also, the recipe suggests misting water on the dough before placing the spices on top to help the spices stick. It worked well, but I think I would try an egg wash next time to see if it makes a difference. Lastly, you may need two baking sheets with this recipe. I used a second baking sheet to include the scraps.