Salads · Side Dish · Vegetables/Vegetarian

Middle Eastern Vegetable Salad

Middle Eastern Vegetable Salad

I’ve received a bunch of recipe inquiries about the salad we gobbled up during our last Family Dinner.

And I can’t blame ya because it was DEE-LISH!

Middle Eastern Vegetable Salad

My niece and seester prepared the dish using Ina Garten’s recipe for a Middle Eastern Vegetable Salad and it was a WINNER! It packed a huge punch of flavor from the abundance of herbs, feta cheese and citrus. It was extremely bright and would be a fab dish to enjoy on a warm day with a glass of pinot grigio and chunk of freshly baked bread. MMMMM!

Middle Eastern Vegetable Salad

We didn’t have fresh basil on hand and ended up omitting it. Truth be told, I didn’t really miss it—but I’m sure it would be wonderful with it.

Oh that Ina…..she knocks it out of the park—AGAIN! Think she needs a new bestie in the form of a quirky Vietnamese gal?

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Middle Eastern Vegetable Salad
Serves 6

Ingredients:

10 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
1 pound ripe tomatoes, seeded, cored, and 1/2-inch-diced
1 hothouse cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded, and 1/2-inch-diced
1 can or jar (12 to 16 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1/3 cup julienned fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4 lemons)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup good olive oil
8 ounces good feta cheese
Place the scallions, tomatoes, cucumber, chickpeas, parsley, mint, and basil in a large salad bowl and toss to combine.
In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the lemon juice, garlic, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Slowly whisk in the olive oil to make an emulsion.

Pour the dressing over the salad, tossing gently to coat all the vegetables. Add the feta, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss gently.

Recipe from Ina Garten

Breads · Side Dish

Honey Yeast Rolls with Sea Salt

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I’ve had this little number in my queue to try for some time now and with the holidays just around the corner–what better opportunity!

It was pretty simple to come together and were beautiful when proofed and baked. I decided to add to the original recipe by sprinkling the rolls with Maldon Sea Salt flakes before baking. It added a great flavor and texture to the slightly sweet rolls. YUM!

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I made this batch of rolls to accompany a few roasted game hens but they would be great alongside stews/soups, buns for mini sliders or simply slathered with butter. Whichever you choose, I would highly recommend trying them out.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Honey Yeast Rolls with Sea Salt

Ingredients:

2¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1 cup warm water
¼ cup honey, plus 2 tablespoons
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1¼ teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 cups bread flour
cooking spray
2 tablespoon butter, melted
1/2 tablespoon sea salt flakes

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the yeast and warm water.  Add ¼ cup honey, oil, salt, and egg and mix well.  Add 3 cups of the flour and mix until the dough comes together in a sticky mass.  Switch to the dough hook and, with the mixer on low speed, incorporate the remaining 1 cup of flour.  Continue kneading on low speed for about 8 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, turn once to coat, and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 30 seconds.  Cover with a towel and let rest for 10 minutes. Punch the dough down and divide into 10-12 equal size pieces.  Shape each piece into a smooth ball and place into a round, lightly greased 9- or 10-inch round baking dish, spacing evenly.  Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free spot for 20-30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  Mix together the melted butter and 2 tablespoons honey, and brush the tops of the rolls with the mixture.  Sprinkle the tops of the rolls with the sea salt. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and the rolls are baked through.  Let cool slightly before serving.

Slightly adapted from Annie Eats

Appetizers/Small Plates · Side Dish

Baked Spicy Kale Chips

Baked Spicy Kale Chips

Who would have ever thought that this Dorito-lovin’, Chips-feening gal would turn to Kale Chips?! Nope, not me!

Well….that was until I stepped into my friend J’s kitchen a few years ago and my whole world was flipped upside down. While we were sipping on one of her new cocktail creations, J pulled out a freshly baked tray of chips……oh yes, Kale Chips. Whaaa????? And before judgey-wudgey could set in, I grabbed a crispy leaf and took a bite.

Holy Cow! It was wonderful!!!

Crispy, light and full of salty goodness. And since then, I’ve been a Kale Chips believer!!! The recipe below is more of an introduction to a method versus exact measurements as you can add and omit as you see fit. I, myself, like a really kicked up version and throw in several pinches of cayenne and chili flakes. But if you prefer a milder approach, just add a pinch or so.

These are particularly delish on game days when you can wash it down with a nice icy cold beer or alongside a great sammy. Either way, these Kale Chips are wonderfully delish! And the perk? You can feel good about eating a big ol’ bowl of these.

And with that Friends, HAPPY ALOHA FRIDAY!

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Baked Spicy Kale Chips

Ingredients:

1 Large Bunch of Kale, washed and dried
Cayenne Pepper
Red Chili Flakes
Garlic Powder
Kosher Salt
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

Preheat oven 275 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Tear the kale leaves into pieces and place in a large bowl. Toss the kale with olive oil and sprinkle the spices over the leaves, coating evenly. Arrange the kale in a single, even layer on the baking sheet. Bake the kale for 20-25 minutes until crispy, flipping the leaves halfway. Enjoy immediately.

Side Dish · Vietnamese

Xôi Gấc for Tết (Baby Jackfruit Flavored Sticky Rice)

Xôi Gấc (Baby Jackfruit Flavored Sticky Rice)

It’s hard to believe that Tết, Vietnamese Lunar New Year, is just a few days away.

Growing up, our parents used to have us scrub down the entire house the days leading up to Tết. It was one of the many important traditions we used to follow to ensure a prosperous and lucky new year. Then, the entire clan would come together, cook up a feast of goodies, offer ancestral prayers at the alter, hand out lì xì (lucky money in red envelopes) to the kids, eat, drink, laugh, and well—gamble and play cards! Needless to say, it was always a fun time.

One of the traditional dishes often found around Tết is Xôi Gấc which is essentially, glutinous rice (sticky rice) that has been steamed with coconut milk and Gấc.

Xôi Gấc (Baby Jackfruit Flavored Sticky Rice)

This is one of those Vietnamese dishes whose name just doesn’t translate well into English. The first challenge is “Gấc”.  It has several English names such as Baby Jackfruit, Cochinchin Gourd, Sweet Gourd, Momordica Charantia Fruit, and my least favorite–Spiny Bitter Gourd. I mean, c’mon now…… How unappetizing does Spiny Bitter Gourd sound? You might as well throw in some other funky words like gelatinous and congealed and call it a day.

But I digress…..

Since I’ve seen Gấc more often called “Baby Jackfruit“—–I’m going with it. But for the record, it does not taste like regular jackfruit or even “young jackfruit”. Could I BE more confusing???

Xôi Gấc (Baby Jackfruit Flavored Sticky Rice)

The flesh of the Gấc fruit is deep red and is well suited to not only flavor Xôi (sticky rice) but also naturally dyes the grains of rice to an intense orange-reddish hue. It’s because of this that you’ll find Xôi Gấc served at celebrations such as Tết and weddings since the color red is considered to be very lucky.

Although fresh Gấc can now be found in many large Vietnamese grocery stores this time of year, I couldn’t convince myself to make the trek to Orange County to pick some up. I resorted to using frozen Gấc puree that my local Vietnamese grocery store has stocked year round. If you can get it, I would HIGHLY recommend using the fresh fruit over frozen as you won’t be able to get the same rich and vibrant hue if you use the latter. Truthfully, my finished Xôi Gấc looked a tad anemic because I used the frozen puree—but it was DARN TASTY all the same.

Oh—and if being healthier is one of your New Year’s resolutions….the Gấc fruit has a supposed astronomic amount of beta-carotene and lycopene.

Xôi Gấc (Baby Jackfruit Flavored Sticky Rice)

Since Xôi Gấc has a slightly sweet profile to it, it’s best served alongside something savory like roast pork or Chả lụa (pork sausage). But it can also be enjoyed as a breakfast item as well.

And with that Dear Friends, I better get back to cleaning my house before Tết is here. But before I sign off, let me wish you and your loved ones a joyous, adventure-filled, and delicious Year of the Dragon!

Chúc Mừng Năm Mới!!

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Xôi Gấc (Baby Jackfruit Flavored Sticky Rice)
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

2 Cups Sweet Glutinous Rice
12 Ounces Gấc Fruit, either fresh or frozen puree
1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
6-8 Fresh Pandan Leaves
1 Tablespoon Mirin
1/2 Cup Coconut Milk

Rinse the rice until the water runs clear. Fill a large bowl with cool water, add the rice and soak it overnight.

Once the rice has been properly soaked, drain the rice and shake off any excess water. With a kitchen towel, gently pat the rice dry and then transfer to a mixing bowl.

While wearing gloves, massage and rub the Gấc into the rice, allowing the grains to be thoroughly covered in the fruit. Sprinkle in the salt and mix until combined.

Line the bottom of your steamer with a sheet of cheesecloth. Place a layer of pandan leaves on top of the cheesecloth and then spread the rice mixture evenly on top the leaves. Cover the rice mixture with additional pandan leaves and place the steamer lid on. Steam for about 15 minutes and then remove the lid and top layer of pandan leaves. Using chopsticks, stir in the coconut milk and mirin while fluffing the rice. Place the leaves and steamer lid back on and continue cooking for an additional 5 minutes or until rice is fully cooked. Enjoy!

Side Dish · Vegetables/Vegetarian

Korokke (Japanese Potato Croquette)

Korokke (Japanese Potato Croquette)

 

 

Okay….my first confession with this is that I had no intention of writing a post about this.  These Korokke were a result of me rummaging around the fridge one day, extremely hungry and wanting to find something quick to make. And then I stumbled upon a tupperware of leftover mashed potatoes—-something I RARELY have leftovers of. I am, after all, a Potato Monster .

I quickly decided upon fixing up some Korokke to eat along side some eggs……a Japanese “hashbrown” if you will. Super quick to make (especially if using mashed potatoes) and delish when lightly flavored with some curry powder. I often order it as a side dish when I’m having ramen for that added bit of texture and crunch.

Then I thought…..there must be tons of potato monsters out there, right? It was decided—I HAD to share my Korokke with you.

 

 

Korokke (Japanese Potato Croquette)

My second confession is that I got a little OCD when forming the potato patties. Usually I just free form them in my hands but I suddenly got it into my head that I was going to use my cookie cutters to get more uniformed shapes. Yeah…I have issues.

If you’re a normal person—just go with forming oval patties out of the potato mixture. But if you’re a crazy food blogger like me, gently press the mixture into an even layer on a lightly floured surface.  Then, use a cookie cutter or biscuit cutter to make your shapes.  Trust me….either way results in a crispy and delish potato croquette. 🙂

Potato Monster signing off!

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Korokke (Japanese Potato Croquette)
Makes approximately 4 croquettes

Ingredients:

2 Cups Mashed Potatoes (or boil and mash 2 large potatoes)
1/2 Teaspoon Curry Powder
1 Egg, lightly beaten
1/2 Cup Flour
1 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs
Salt and Pepper
Oil for frying

Heat oil in a skillet to 350 degrees F.

Thoroughly combine the potatoes and curry powder. Season with salt and pepper. Plate the beaten egg, flour, and panko in 3 separate, shallow dishes.

Using the potato mixture, form patties. This can be done by free forming them in your hands or by the cookie cutter method described above. Carefully coat each patty in the flour and gently shake off excess. Dip patty into the egg and then cover in the panko bread crumbs. Use the tips of your fingers to gently press the crumbs into the patty.

When the oil reaches temperature, fry the patties on each side until golden brown—about 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove from skillet and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately with tonkatsu sauce or sauce of your choice.

Salads · Side Dish · Vegetables/Vegetarian

Refreshing Greek Salad…..Opa!

Greek Salad

It’s been unusually warm these past few weeks — not your typical fall weather at all. Not that I’m really complaining but it does make me turn to lighter dishes instead of slaving away in a hot kitchen.

The other day I picked up a bunch of produce at my weekly farmer’s market and decided to make a refreshing Greek Salad for lunch.

Greek Salad

The salad is full of bright flavors from the fresh veggies, feta and the olives. Delish! And the leftovers were the perfect accompaniment to the Spanakopita I made the next day.

Up next, flaky and buttery Spanakopita!

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Greek Salad
Serves 4

Ingredients:

3 Cups Cucumbers, diced
2 Cups Grape Tomatoes, diced
2/3 Cup Kalamata Olives, pitted and chopped
½ Small Red Onion, thinly sliced
1 Cup Feta Cheese, cubed or crumbled
1 Tablespoon Fresh Parsley, finely chopped
½ Cup Quality Olive Oil
¼ Cup Red Wine Vinegar
1 Garlic Clove, finely minced
¼ Teaspoon Dried Oregano
Kosher Salt and Black Pepper

In a small bowl, combine vinegar, garlic, and oregano. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl combine the rest of the ingredients. Drizzle dressing over salad, and toss to coat.

Breads · Side Dish

Jalapeño-Cheddar Skillet Cornbread

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread

I love Bread. I love Corn. But I’ve never really LOVED cornbread.

Odd, I know.

I think it’s because most of the cornbreads I’ve sampled always had some major flaws…..either too dry, too sweet—or, just lacked flavor.

But there have been some times that I’ve tasted different versions and I’ve thought—-huh, that’s not bad at all. When it comes down to it, I prefer the ones that aren’t overly sweet but have a lot of good corn flavor. I also like the ones that have nice crispy edges.

Turkey and Bean Chili

So when I made a big ol’ pot of chili for some friends the other weekend for the big game, it just seemed right to serve it with cornbread. They go hand in hand, right?

My take below is still a work in progress but I think it’s almost there. The key components are lots of Jalapeños , whole corn kernels, cheese—and of course, the crispy edges from the cast iron skillet. Yummers.

There’s definitely still room to tweak this cornbread to make it the ultimate real deal but I barely had enough time to snap a few pictures of it before my friends inhaled it. And I mean all of it! 🙂

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Jalapeño-Cheddar Skillet Cornbread

Ingredients:

1 Cup All Purpose Flour
1 Cup Yellow Cornmeal
1½ Teaspoon Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon Salt
4 Tablespoons Sugar
1 Cup Buttermilk
2 Large Eggs
1 Cup Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
5 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, melted and cooled, divided
3-4 Jalapeño Peppers, seeded and minced
¼ Cup Scallions, chopped
1 Cup Corn Kernels

Place a 9 inch cast iron skillet in the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Add the cheese and gently toss.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, and 4 tablespoons of butter.

Combine the wet and dry ingredients, stirring until all items are well incorporated. Fold in the jalapeños , scallions, and corn.

Carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven. Pour the remaining butter into the bottom of the skillet and swirl around to cover the pan. Be careful as butter may splatter. Pour the batter into the skillet. Lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake for about 25-30 minutes or until the center is firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before serving.

Side Dish · Vegetables/Vegetarian

Rosemary-Garlic Hasselback Potatoes

Rosemary-Garlic Hasselback Potatoes

 

My love for Potatoes knows no boundaries. In fact, I’m even contemplating the idea of dedicating an entire month of posts to different potato recipes of the world. Mmmm……..Yum.

Needless to say, I’ve never met a potato I didn’t like. Especially when they’re all dolled up like these lovely Hasselback Potatoes.

Rosemary-Garlic Hasselback Potatoes to be exact.

Now say that three times fast.

 

 

 

Rosemary-Garlic Hasselback Potatoes

 

Originating from Sweden, these potatoes are meant to mirror the fan shape created by accordions. But don’t let their looks fool you as they’re super easy to make and can dress up any dinner plate.

 

 

Rosemary-Garlic Hasselback Potatoes

 

In addition to the elegant look, there’s also some brilliance to the way these potatoes are sliced. With the additional crevices that are exposed to the heat, the exterior becomes deliciously crispy while the interior remains super tender.

As for these potatoes, I chose to pair them with both rosemary and garlic but the options are endless. Parmesan cheese, chives, bacon…….so many choices, so little time 🙂

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Rosemary-Garlic Hasselback Potatoes
Serves 4

Ingredients:

4 Medium Sized Yukon Gold Potatoes, washed and dried
½ Cup Olive Oil
4 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary
3 Whole Garlic Cloves, thinly sliced
Sea Salt and Black Pepper

Place oil and rosemary in a small saucepan and heat on medium-low for 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place one potato on a cutting board. Starting from one end of the potato, make slits about 1/8 inch apart but do not cut all the way through the bottom. You can also place the potato in a wooden spoon before you make the slices. The spoon will act as a “guard” to help you not slice all the way through the bottom. Repeat with the remaining potatoes.

Carefully slip one slice of garlic in between every few segments of the potatoes until all the garlic has been evenly distributed. Place potatoes on a baking sheet and brush them all over with the rosemary infused oil. Season with sea salt and pepper.

Bake the potatoes for 30-40 minutes, depending on size. Interior should be soft and exterior should be slightly crisp.

Serve warm.

Appetizers/Small Plates · Side Dish · Vegetables/Vegetarian

Oven Baked Potato Chips…..and an Interview.

Oven Baked Potato Chips

One of my greatest vices are Potato Chips.

Sour Cream and Cheddar, Kettle, Spicy Jalapeno.….I love them all. Salty, crunchy—and they’re so freaking addicting.

I’m not embarrassed to admit that I can polish off an entire bag by myself in one fell swoop. And I’m not talking about one of those small snack-bags either 🙂

These Oven Baked Potato Chips are an easy and “healthier” way for me to fulfill my chips cravings. This is a basic recipe but would be great with the addition of herbs or even Parmesan cheese–YUM! Just be sure to keep a close eye on them while they’re baking as some can brown faster than others.

On another note, I recently participated in a fun event with Gordon Attard from Pimp That Food. Check out my interview with him as May’s Food Blogger of the Month. Thanks Gordon!

Food Blogger Interview

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Oven Baked Potato Chips
Serves 2-3

Ingredients:

1 Large Russet Potato
Sea Salt
Cooking Spray

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

Using a mandolin or very sharp knife, thinly slice the potatoes. Use paper towels to dry off any excess moisture from the potatoes.

Cover a large baking sheet with cooking spray. Place the potato slices in one layer on the baking sheet. Spray the slices with cooking spray.

Bake the potato slices for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. You may need to flip the slices every few minutes to evenly bake them. Keep a close eye on the potatoes, as some will crisp up faster than others. Once browned, remove them from the oven and immediately sprinkle them with sea salt.

Enjoy!

Breads · Side Dish

Whole Wheat Garlic Naan…..Where it all started.

Whole Wheat Garlic Naan

 

I blame it ALL on this Garlic Naan.

I had seen a photo of it on Tasty Kitchen awhile back and I’ve been obsessed with it every since. And when I finally got the chance to try it, I went nuts–I was out of control! I went from making just one dish to creating a full blown Indian dinner! I guess I figured if I was going to take the effort to make Naan, I better go the extra mile to make some dishes to enjoy with it. 🙂

But perhaps now would be a good time to mention the fact that I’ve never really cooked Indian food before—so it was going to be quite a FoodVenture! The next few posts will be recounting the dishes I created and how it all came together.

But let’s turn our focus back to the Naan.

 

Whole Wheat Garlic Naan

 

Jessica from How Sweet It Is did a really great job covering Homemade Naan from Indian Simmer. The only thing I did different was that I used a stove top grill to cook the first side of the Naan before cooking the other side on an open flame. I would have definitely preferred to use a cast iron skillet per the instructions but have yet to replace my skillet that had rusted—-REALLY rusted. Eeew. And if you’re wondering, using an enamel-coated cast iron skillet won’t work either. Yup, I tried it.

But when everything was finished, I had really mixed feelings about the Naan. They did puff up pretty well when cooked over the open flame and were ok when I tasted them right away. But once they cooled, I found that the dough became really tough and loss some flavor. I’m not sure if it was due to my use of Whole Wheat Pastry Flour or if I overworked the dough prior to cooking it. When we warmed them up later on, they became pretty hard and crunchy—-in fact, it was more cracker-like than puffy Naan.

Still, I’m glad I gave it a go. I will DEFINITELY try this recipe again when I finally get my hands on a cast iron skillet because I think it would definitely improve the texture. I’ll also try it with AP Flour in hopes of getting a lighter product.

So even though this Garlic Naan didn’t work out so well for me this time, it did give me the motivation to create an entire Indian feast!

**Next Post:  Chicken Tikka Masala!

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Whole Wheat Garlic Naan
From Indian Simmer

Ingredients:

2 cups Wheat Flour (or AP Flour)
¾ teaspoons Baking Powder
½ teaspoons Baking Soda
½ teaspoons Sugar
¼ teaspoons Salt
½ cups Warm Milk
½ cups Yogurt
½ Tablespoons Oil, As Needed
Additional Optional Herbs And Seasonings To Flavor The Naan (See Note Below)

Note: The ingredient list includes the ingredients for the dough. You can flavor your naan with all kinds of herbs. I made cumin naan, garlic naan, butter naan, and some topped with cilantro.

Mix all the dry ingredients together and make a well of flour.

Mix milk and yogurt together and pour half of it into the well and slowly combine it together.

I don’t think there’s an exact amount of liquid that should be added to the exact amount of flour to make a perfect dough. So what I do is continue adding liquid slowly and combining it all together slowly until a soft dough is made. The dough should be soft enough for you to be able to dig your finger into it without applying any pressure. If dough sticks to your hand too much, then use little bit of oil on your hands and then punch into the dough.

Cover with a damp cloth and let it sit in a warm place for at least 2 hours.

After a few hours, dust your working board, take out the dough and knead it for about 2-3 minutes. Divide the dough into smaller balls (in this case you should get about 8 balls to make naans).

Dust the board again and flatten the balls to make bread that is a little thick and elongated.

Now sprinkle one side of the bread with your desired flavor. I made cumin, minced garlic, chopped cilantro and some simple butter naans.

Brush the other side with water.

Heat a thick-bottomed skillet or a wok or any heavy-bottomed pan with a lid. Once it is nicely hot, place the naan wet side down (it will stick) and cover it with a lid.

Let it cook for about 30 seconds or until you see bubbles on it. Now cook the other side of the naan over a direct flame on the burner with the help of tongs. When you see some charred brown spots then you know that the naan is done.

Smother a good amount of butter on your naans and when you taste them, you’ll know what a peaceful life means!