Seafood

Chirashizushi {Chirashi} – Fresh Sashimi Rice Bowls

Chirashizushi

Oh Chirashizushi….how do I love thee?

Fresh fish, veggies, pickled ginger, wasabi and perfectly cooked sushi rice—-all mixed up in a bowl. Chirashizushi (ちらし寿司) or chirashi, translates to “scattered” which is one of the beauties about this dish.

Perfection.

As much as I love sushi rolls and nigiris, this gal can get terribly lazy sometimes. So to be able to throw all the ingredients that I love in sushi into one bowl is just genius.

And delicious.

Chirashizushi

I had been up at my seester’s place one weekend when we decided to pop into a local fishmonger we had discovered some time ago– Dry Dock Fish Company. It’s a smaller little shop, tucked away in Fullerton. But if you’re in the area, you must check it out because it’s an absolute gem.

Chirashizushi

I contemplated writing out a recipe for chirashi but I felt kind of silly doing it.

Make-at-home chirashi is all about using whatever types of fish that tickles your fancy. The chirashi pictured above has slices of ahi, hamachi, salmon, spoonfuls of ahi shoyu poke that I whipped up, avocado slices, lemon slices, lightly pickled Persian cucumbers, wasabi paste, scallions, gari (pickled young ginger), yuzu kosho (yuzu paste), nori crackers, and of course–sushi rice.

But again, chirashi can be anything you’d like my Friends. Just be sure to use sashimi grade fish ❤

Happy Saturday!!!

Vegetables/Vegetarian

Spring Risotto – Spring has Sprung!

Spring Risotto

Spring has sprung–and boy do I have a plateful of deliciousness that screams of spring flavors.

Creamy, cheesy risotto with leeks, peas and asparagus. The whole plate is then showered with parmesan and bright lemon zest.

Mega drools….

Spring Risotto

You could really throw whatever fresh veggies that your local market or farmers’ stands may have available. Zucchinis, mushrooms, chard and spinach would be rad options. As for cooking liquids, I opted to use some white wine and chicken stock in the risotto but if you want to go with a purely vegetarian route, a well flavored vegetable stock would also work well.

Spring Risotto

Have a delectable weekend, Folks!

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Spring Risotto
Serves approximately 4

Ingredients:
4 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup chopped leeks, thoroughly washed and dried
1 tablespoon minced garlic
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 cup Arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, more to garnish
1 cup peas
1 cup blanched asparagus tips
kosher salt
black pepper
fresh lemon zest

Heat the chicken stock in a medum saucepan and keep warm over low heat.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a pot over medium heat. Add the leeks and sauté until softened and translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, thyme leaves, rice and stir quickly until the rice is well coated and opaque—about 1 minute.  Stir in the wine and cook until the liquid is nearly all evaporated.

Ladle in 1 cup of the chicken broth into the rice. Simmer and slowly stir until the rice has absorbed the liquid. Add the remaining broth, 1 cup at a time. Continue to simmer and stir, allowing the rice to absorb each addition of broth before adding more. The risotto should be slightly firm and creamy–approximately 25 minutes in total.

Stir in Parmesan cheese until the cheese has melted. Gently fold in the peas and asparagus tips. Check for seasonings and adjust with the kosher salt and pepper.

Spoon the risotto into dishes. Grate additional parmesan cheese on top and sprinkle fresh lemon zest over each dish. Serve immediately.

 

Pastas/Noodles · Seafood

20-Minute Garlicky Shrimp Scampi with Spinach

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When I was in the elevator at work yesterday, I overheard someone saying how they made their grandma’s famous linguine alle vongole for Easter Dinner.

And then it was over.

I craved pasta all day long.

Preferably a pasta that someone’s grandma made but beggers can’t be choosers–I had to settle for something I could wrangle up.

20-Minute Garlicky Shrimp Scampi with Spinach

So as I drove home I did a quick inventory of what I had in the fridge/freezer and decided upon a quick shrimp scampi. I have a delish recipe for Shrimp Scampi on the blog already but I wanted to change it up a bit.

I opted to throw in some fresh spinach leaves at the end for a bit of greens. I had originally played around with the idea of adding peas but went for the spee-natch instead. But who knows, I may throw some peas in next time for some oohs and ahhs.

Peas and thank you!

20-Minute Garlicky Shrimp Scampi with Spinach

The pasta was bright, citrus-y, uber garlicky (vampires beware) and totally satisfying. And the best thing? Despite me calling this a 20-Minute Garlicky Shrimp Scampi with Spinach, you can probably have it done in 15. But why not pour yourself a glass of wine during the process and take the few extra minutes?

Cheers!

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20-Minute Garlicky Shrimp Scampi with Spinach
Serves 2

Ingredients:

kosher salt
4 ounces dry linguine or spaghetti pasta
½ pound shrimp, cleaned and deveined
1½ tablespoons minced garlic
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, more to garnish
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon garlic salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
4-5 thin slices lemon
½ cup white wine
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
black pepper
2 handfuls (about 2 cups) spinach leaves
fresh grated parmesan cheese

Boil the pasta for approximately 8-10 minutes in heavily salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta and reserve ¼ cup of the starchy water that the pasta was cooked in.

While the pasta boils, mix the shrimp, garlic, red pepper flakes, thyme, and garlic salt together in a bowl. In a large skillet, heat the oil to medium heat. Add the shrimp (with all the garlic and herbs) and lemon slices* to the skillet. Cook the shrimp on both sides until they turn pink—approximately a minute on each side. Remove the shrimp to a clean bowl/plate.

Turn the heat to high and pour the the wine into the skillet. Use a wooden spoon and scrape the bottom of the skillet to release all the brown bits. Allow the wine to come to a boil and add the lemon juice. Reduce the liquid for 2-3 minutes on the high heat. Add the butter and whisk/melt it into the reduced wine.

Turn the heat to medium-low and toss in the cooked/drained pasta. Vigorously toss the pasta with the sauce, adding a tablespoon at a time of the pasta water until you reach your desired consistency. Season the pasta with additional kosher salt and black pepper as needed. Toss in the spinach and plate the pasta with the light sauce.

Top each dish with the cooked shrimp. Sprinkle the top with additional red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

*While plating the pasta, you can remove the cooked lemon slices. Some do not enjoy the slight bitter taste of biting into cooked lemons but I’m all about it.

DIY · Drinks

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Limoncello!

Limoncello

When Life gives you lemons……

Make Limoncello!

Though, if that’s the case, it would help if Life threw in a bottle of vodka to help out with the process, too.

Limoncello

Last month, my sister equipped me with a bag of Meyer lemons from her mother-in-law’s tree. After using many of the fragrant lemons for baking, I decided to use the rest to make a batch of Limoncello to give away as gifts for the holidays.

Originating from the South of Italy, Limoncello is traditionally made with lemon peels and a very high proof grain alcohol—but vodka can also do the trick.

The floral (and STRONG) boozy goodness can be served straight up over ice or with some tonic water and squeeze of lime. Either way, you’ll be enjoying a bit of summer in a glass.

Salute!

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Limoncello

Ingredients:

1 750ml Bottle Vodka (100 proof or higher)
Peels of 12 Lemons (I used a combination of Meyer and Eureka)
3 Cups Simple Syrup

In a very large container with an airtight lid, combine lemon peels and vodka. (I used a 1 gallon glass jar.) Tightly screw on the lid and place the jar in a cool, dark place for 14-15 days. Take off the lid, remove the lemon peels, and stir in the simple syrup. Screw the lid back on and replace to the cool, dark place for an additional 30 days. Gently shake the container every day or so if/when the sugar collects at the bottom.

When ready to bottle, strain the limoncello with a fine sieve. Using a funnel, fill airtight bottles. ENJOY!

*I ended up squeezing the 12 “naked” lemons and made a TON of fresh lemonade and froze the remaining juice in ice trays to use at a later time.

Desserts/Pastries

“Two Peas in a Pod” Lemon Cupcakes

"Two Peas in a Pod" Lemon Cupcakes

 

Mimi is one of my oldest and dearest friends that I’ve known for almost 25 years. We’ve shared so many milestones, made so many memories……..needless to say, I love me some Mimi 🙂

So you can imagine my utter glee when I found out that she was expecting twins!!! In fact, the twins were such eager little ones that they arrived almost two months early. We were excited to welcome Baby Christopher and Baby Abigail at the end of February—and both are getting stronger with each day!

Mimi and Jinhyeong had their baby shower this past weekend and the theme was perfect—–Two Peas in a Pod. The color scheme was green and yellow and with that, I just knew what I wanted to bring to the baby shower.

 

"Two Peas in a Pod" Lemon Cupcakes

 

Lemon Cupcakes filled with Lemon Curd and a Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting—-and topped with fondant sculpted peas! Aren’t the peas darling?

 

"Two Peas in a Pod" Lemon Cupcakes

 

I must admit, I spent more time making these little fondant toppers than I did making the cupcakes—-but they were so much fun! I used premade fondant and dyed them with food color gels to get the right hue for the peas and shells. I also painted on some eyelashes and rosy cheeks for the “Baby Abigail peas” to delineate them from her big brother Christopher.

 

"Two Peas in a Pod" Lemon Cupcakes

 

Fondant is pretty fun and easy to work with—quite reminiscent of sculpting with Play-Doh! I also learned from my cake pops to nix the food color markers and painted the faces with food color gels and toothpicks. MUCH more effective don’t you think?

I’ll be the first to say that I’m not the greatest fan of the flavor fondant. But it’s the perfect medium to sculpt things with. Just be sure to use a tad of water when you adhere the pieces together or cornstarch when you want to prevent the fondant from sticking.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t give full credit to my nieces Nina and Maya for rolling out all the little peas while I shaped the shells. They were such troopers! 🙂

 

"Two Peas in a Pod" Lemon Cupcakes

 

Over all, I think the new Mama, Papa and their guests enjoyed the “Two Peas in a Pod” Lemon Cupcakes. They were whimsical treats to accompany the oober cute decor that the hostesses prepared. 🙂

Just my small contribution to Welcome Baby Christopher and Baby Abigail!!!!!!!! xoxo!

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“Two Peas in a Pod” Lemon Cupcakes
From Brown Eyed Baker
Makes 28-30 Cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cup granulated sugar
5 large eggs
4 tablespoons limoncello
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup lemon juice
Zest of two lemons

For the lemon curd:
Zest of 2 lemons
1 cup lemon juice
½ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs + 2 egg yolks

For the cream cheese limoncello frosting:
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoon limoncello
4-5 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1-2 drops yellow food color

1. Prepare the cupcakes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and position a rack in the center. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, cream cheese and sugar on medium speed until light and creamy, 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the limoncello and beat an additional minute. On low speed, add flour mixture and buttermilk alternatively, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Add the lemon juice and zest and mix on low speed just until incorporated. Divide the batter between 12 muffin tins. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the middle comes out clean. Let cool completely.

2. Prepare the lemon curd. In a heavy medium saucepan, stir together the lemon zest, juice and sugar and bring to a simmer over medium heat. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and egg yolk. Whisk the lemon mixture into the eggs to temper them. Scrape the mixture back into the saucepan and place over medium heat, whisking constantly until it thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, and let cool completely.

3. Prepare the cream cheese limoncello frosting. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until light and creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the limoncello and beat for an additional minute. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the sifted powdered sugar and beat until fully incorporated and smooth.

4. Assemble the cupcakes. Cut a hole into each cupcake with the large end of a melon baller or the back end of a large pastry tip. Fill each cavity with the lemon curd. Fill a pastry bag with the cream cheese limoncello frosting and pipe onto each cupcake. Top with fondant peas.

Poultry

Oven Braised Lemon Chicken

Oven Braised Lemon Chicken

 

I often braise chicken because it’s so easy and makes the meat deliciously juicy. And best of all—you only need to use one pot!

 

Oven Braised Lemon Chicken

 

This Oven Braised Lemon Chicken pairs thighs and drumsticks (my favorite chicken cuts) with the bright notes of lemon and capers to produce a wonderfully hearty dish. I also threw in some mushrooms since I’m kind of obsessed with them. But if you’re not a fan, leave them out. It won’t hurt my feelings 🙂

 

Oven Braised Lemon Chicken

 

Your finished product will be so beautifully tender and flavorful that you’ll be doing a little dance after your first bite. Because if you didn’t know….a little dancing while you eat helps with digestion 🙂

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Oven Braised Lemon Chicken
Serves 4

Ingredients:

8 Pieces Bone-In Chicken (I prefer thighs and drumsticks)
6 Whole Garlic Cloves
1 Small Onion, thinly sliced
2 Cups Crimini Mushrooms, sliced
4 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary
8 Lemon Slices, seeds removed
1 Dried Bay Leaf
2 Tablespoons Capers, drained
2 Cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
½ Teaspoon Red Chili Flakes
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Kosher Salt and Black Pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Liberally season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch Oven heat olive oil to medium high. In batches, brown chicken pieces on both sides and transfer to a plate. Discard all but 2-3 tablespoons of left over grease. Lower heat to medium and add garlic cloves, cooking until lightly golden. Add onions and cook until all items are evenly browned. Add chili flakes and sauté for an additional minute.  Add mushrooms and sauté for an additional 2-3 minutes. Carefully add chicken stock and bring to a boil. With a wooden spoon, scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Return the chicken to the pot with the skin side up. Add lemon slices, bay leaf, capers, and rosemary sprigs–submerging those items underneath the liquid.  Place lid over the pot and put into the oven for 25-30 minutes or until chicken is done.

Carefully take the pot out of the oven. Remove rosemary sprigs, bay leaves and skim off and discard any fat and impurities from the juices. Check for seasonings and adjust with kosher salt and pepper as necessary.

Plate chicken with sauce and serve with fresh bread or other desired sides.

Pastas/Noodles · Poultry

Chicken Piccata with Angel Hair Pasta

Chicken Piccata with Angel Hair Pasta

 

In college, one of my dearest friends and I would often meander over to The Cheesecake Factory to grab some food, sip on a few cocktails, and catch up. We would always sit at the bar for our meal because let’s face it, no matter what time of day, the average wait for The Cheesecake Factory can be ridiculous! Why are they always so PACKED?!

But I digress…..

Despite their billion page menu, PB (as she will now be known) and I would always split an order of their Chicken Piccata. It was always tasty, a TON of food (even for two to share), and was well priced. Hey, we were college students on a budget after all 🙂

 

Chicken Piccata with Angel Hair Pasta

 

After college when I finally got into my own kitchen, I began making my own version of Chicken Piccata. I love the light, lemony sauce with capers and how it pairs so well with the tender chicken. As an added bonus, you can get away with eating a huge plate of it without feeling too weighed down. Now that’s a Nguyen-Win Situation!

Quick, simple—and delicious.

And yes, PB. A very large plate of this Piccata will be waiting for you with an extra large Gimlet next time you come into town 🙂

Note: Up for seafood instead? Switch up the chicken for some scallops or a lovely white fish. Follow the same method and it will be just as delish!

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Chicken Piccata with Angel Hair Pasta
Serves 2

Ingredients:

1/3 Pound Angel Hair Pasta
1 Boneless Chicken Breast
½ Cup All Purpose Flour, plus ½ Tablespoon
1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Teaspoon Lemon Zest, freshly grated
6-7 Lemon Slices, very thinly sliced
1 Lemon, juiced
1 Tablespoon Capers, drained
½ Cup Roma Tomatoes, diced
2 Garlic Cloves, finely diced
¼ Teaspoon Red Chili Flakes
1 ½ Cups Chicken Broth
2 Tablespoons Fresh Basil, chiffonade
Kosher Salt and Black Pepper

Place ½ cup of flour in a shallow dish. Using a sharp knife, slice chicken breast in half. Place a piece of wax paper on top of each piece of chicken and pound with a kitchen mallet until it is about ½ inch thin. Season the chicken well with salt and pepper.  Take the chicken and roll it into the flour, using your fingers to assist in adhering it to the meat. Carefully shake off excess flour. Repeat with second piece of chicken.

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Slide chicken into the skillet and sauté on each side until it becomes golden brown—about 3-4 minutes each side. Once chicken is done, transfer to a clean plate and tent with a sheet of aluminum foil.

Begin boiling the pasta.

Using the same skillet, add remaining olive oil and sauté garlic until it becomes aromatic but not browned. Add chili flakes, capers, lemon juice, lemon slices, zest, and chicken broth. Use a wooden spoon to scrape off the tasty brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. Raise the temperature to medium high heat and allow the liquid to reduce by almost half. While the liquid is reducing, use a fork to mash together remaining 1 tablespoon of flour and butter in a small bowl.  Whisk it into the reducing liquid and allow to cook for 1-2 minutes. Be sure to whisk out any lumps of flour. Check for seasonings and adjust with salt/pepper accordingly. Remove from heat.

Drain the cooked pasta, reserving a few tablespoons of the starch water. Toss the pasta in the lemon caper sauce, tomatoes, and basil–reserving a few spoonfuls of sauce. Add in a few spoonfuls of pasta water if you want a “looser” pasta consistency (optional). Check for seasonings and adjust with salt/pepper accordingly. Plate pasta and top each with a piece of chicken. Spoon extra lemon caper sauce over the chicken and pasta. Serve immediately.