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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Garlic Buckwheat Crusted Spinach Mushroom Quiche

What I like the most about quiche is that it's basically a fancier way of serving a jazzed up omlet.  It works perfectly for guests, and you can usually make it vegetarian without anyone noticing.  Make several in smaller portions to get extra fancy or just a big one you cut into slices for a nice appetizer.. Or meal it you pair it with a salad.
I'm on a sautéed spinach craze these days.  Until the local asparagus starts peaking it's coiffe, my go to wood ingredient is spinach.  Oh I can't wait for the first aparagus!  How I love to roast thee...
Since I was out all day and ended up having company, but didn't quite want to go shopping since I'm trying to empty my fridge for the upcomong abstinence week, my omlet no company plan flourished into this quiche-for-company creation.
The pairing of spinach, sautéed mushrooms, and garlic in a buckwheat crust is so symbiotic it seems one ingredient nourished and introduces you to the next with each bite.
Serves 6 as an appetizer
Ingredients
Garlic Buckwheat Crust:
100g (3.5oz) room temperature butter
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp paprika
2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
100g (3.5oz) buckwheat flour
130g (4.6oz) T80 flour
1 egg yolk
5 cL (2oz) water
Make the crust using the method, then pre-bake it at 190°C 375°F for 10 minutes

Spinach Mushroom Filling:
200g (about 1/2 lb) fresh spinach, washed and patted dry
200g (about 1/2 lb) mushrooms, sliced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, sliced into moons
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tsp dried savory or thyme
juice and zest from 1/2 lime
1 handful grated gruyère
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk (I used goat)
3/4 cup cream
1  tsp paprika
pinch nutmeg
lots freshly ground black pepper
pinch fleur de sel
Directions
1.  Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a pan and add the sliced mushrooms.  Sautée for a few minutes until colored and add half the garlic slices, a bit of savory, fleur de sel, and black pepper.  Do this in batches if your pan is not big enough.  Set aside.
2.  Do this again with the onions by adding only a drizzle of oil, since the mushrooms probably let the surface viscous.  Set aside.
3.  Add the rest of the olive oil and sautée the spinach in batches.  Add the rest of the garlic, the lime juice and zest, and cook until the spinach wilts.  Set aside while you construct.
4.  Make the "appareil" by beating together the eggs with the milk and cream.  Do this until frothy.  The frothier your appareil, the fluffier your quiche will be.  Add in the nutmeg, some fleur de sel, a generous hand of ground black pepper, and the paprika.
5.  Construct.  Place the sautéed spinach into the bottom of your pre-baked shortcrust.  Add the onions, gruyère, then mushrooms.  Pour the beaten mixture over it all.
6.  Cook at 180°C 350°F for 35-45 minutes or until the top starts to become golden.  It should still be jiggly in the center when removed from the oven.
7.  Let cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.  This is admittedly the most difficult part.  During this time, clean the kitchen, set the table, make a salad.. try to keep yourself from cutting it open while it's still piping hot and not completely set.

I served mine with a lambs lettuce salad and it was a gorgeous little meal.

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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Burgundy Truffle Buckwheat Risotto

Life is always full of surprises.  There are those you more or less find natural, and those that are in reality, a completely unexpected surprise.  I find that in my life, there are exactly those types of human beings.  Those that are just there, present, and those that illuminate my life with thoughtfulness and pleasant company.  Those are the ones I consider family because they truly know how to make me tick.
I can count those ones on one hand.  Those are the ones that know I'll always have their back.
Last night, for the first time in my life, I held a fresh little black Burgundy Truffle between my little palms and my mind started racing with all the potential creations I could make with it.
Since it was fresh, it needed to be kept in a sealed container in the vegetable drawer of the fridge for no longer than 2 weeks.. which wasn't a problem because I knew I would be consuming it right away.
I read that it can be frozen as well (just in case).
I'm familiar with the aroma, for I've been gifted truffle infused oil before, but never had I before been able to taste a slice of pure truffle.  Surprisingly, it was very mild.  I thought it would invade my senses, but since it was cold and right out of the fridge, I could hardly taste it.  The intoxicating invasion comes a few minutes later.
After pondering and filtering all my truffle ideas, I settled on a risotto made with buckwheat bulgur and quinoa instead of arborio rice.  Why this choice?  Well, first of all, I dont have any arborio rice on hand.  I have a myriad other treasures in my "dry' cabinet, but the only rice other than basmati I ever have is whole wheat basmati or red rice.  
Not suitable for risotto.
I did have this other product that makes me tick, buckwheat bulgur.  Quinoa is a given for me in risotto substitutes, but here I thought the starchiness and nuttiness of the buckwheat would make for a wonderful creamy risotto.
Serves 4
Ingredients
1 1/4 cup buckwheat bulgur
1/4 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 onion, chopped
2 turkey cutlets
3 cloves garlic, grated
1 quart hot chicken stock
fleur de sel
cracked black pepper
handful parmesan
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 black truffle, shaved (mine was 12g 0.4oz)
Directions
1.  Prepare the turkey cutlets by sprinkling them with some fleur de sel and black pepper, then rubbing one of the grated cloves garlic onto each side.  Place 1/2 Tbsp olive oil in a hot flat pan and cook the cutlets a few minutes on each side.  You want them to have a nice color.  Set aside, then slice.
2.  Prepare the risotto.  Heat the other 1/2 Tbsp of oil along with 1/2 Tbsp butter in the same pan.  Add the onions and cook until translucent.
3.  Add the quinoa and buckwheat and stir to coat.  Let toast a bit.
4.  Add a few ladles of the stock to level.  Reduce the heat and cook, stirring, until absorbed.  Repeat this a few more times.  You will probably not use the entire quart of stock.
5.  Right before you place your last ladle in, stir in the turkey slices.
6.  When the risotto is done absorbing, remove from heat and stir in the remaining butter, truffle shavings, and parmesan.  Add some ground black pepper as well.

I served mine with some lambs lettuce in a walnut oil-balsamic vinegar spritz.
This meal was so stimulating it's hard to describe.  At first, you search for the pungent truffle taste, but realize it is mild.  As you go, the nutty flavor of the buckwheat seems to enhance the truffle aroma.  When you finish you still somewhat search for the moment the truffle will slap you in the face.. and it doesn't.  Maybe these ones are milder than the ones from Périgord.  I don't really have a way to compare, since this is the first time I've had a fresh morale of divinity within my grasp.

10 minutes later, as you are cleaning up, your eyes roll back into your skull and you just stop what you're doing and enjoy the moment...

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Friday, February 27, 2015

Xián Dàn - Salted Duck Egg

During my last trip to wonderland, I planned to pick up some Century Duck Eggs for a friend in need.  You must be careful when picking up eggs in a Chinese supermarket, because right next to those creamy black and amber delights are other types of duck eggs; some intriguing and others with questionable ethics.  If you pluck the eggs on the far right, you will end up with duck fetus eggs, or balut.  I understand it's a cultural thing and a delicacy, but I draw the line there.  I couldn't ethically bring myself to eating an almost hatched egg.  I read that some like them up to the maturity where they have a light duvet.  It's probably delicious, but it's not for me although I consider myself adventurous.  I'd eat a grilled scorpion or toasted grasshoppers any day, but not that.
The other type of egg you can find there is the salted duck egg.  I've seen that in a few different recipes and felt so curious I picked up a 6 pack and decided to offer them along with the Century eggs.
The salted duck egg is one that has been placed in a brine (saturated salt water solution) for about 1 month as a preservation method.  The eggs must then be cooked before eaten.  These are usually eaten hard boiled an then mixed into congee (something I should probably get around to making).  Sometimes the raw yolk is used as a dressing or stir fry sauce, with the raw white discarded.
I was supposed to be offering these, but as I waited for the gift retrieval day, every time I opened my fridge, these eggs would scream "Please taste me!!!!!!!"
As I have a hard time giving into temptation, I decided to sample one or 2 of these little delights.
12 minutes in the steamer and they were done.  They would be a perfect topping to my evening Japchae and Kimchi plan.
Once the eggs are cooked, peel them and please do not just take a bite.  The outer white part is extremely salty and having a mouthful of just the white would be more of a punishment than a discovery.  The inner white part furthest from the shell is pleasantly edible with an interesting texture completely different from "normal" egg whites.
The best way is to use it completely (white and yolk) crumbled on a soup or stir fry as I did with my Japchae.  If you want to get a pure sample, scoop out the yolk which should have an amazing oily spreadable texture and place this nectar directly into your mouth.
Your eyelids will flutter with a pleasant sting, and you will be baptized into yet another intriguing Asian egg eating circle.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Quinoa Crusted Spinach Artichoke Quiche

 A bite of late summer in early spring.. canned and dried food can do wonders for psychological vitality...
Serves 3-4
Ingredients
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, sliced into moons
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and halved
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 handful sundried tomatoes, chopped
1 handful parmesan
1 handful grated gruyère
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
3/4 cup cream
pinch nutmeg
lots freshly ground black pepper
pinch fleur de sel
pinch piment d'espelette
1/2 cup quinoa, soaked 1 hour, rinsed and drained
Directions
1.  Heat the olive oil in a wok or pan and add the sliced onions.  Cook until translucent, then add the artichoke halves, face down.
2.  Let the artichokes color a bit, then add a bit of fleur de sel, ground pepper, and garlic slices.  Heat through, then set aside.
3.  Make the "appareil" by beating together the eggs with the milk and cream.  Do this until frothy.  The frothier your appareil, the fluffier your quiche will be.  Add in the nutmeg, some fleur de sel, a generous hand of ground black pepper, and a pinch of piment d'espelette.
4.  Butter a baking dish well on the bottom and sides.  Place the quinoa so it covers the bottom of the dish.  Add the sautéed spinach with fennel, then the parmesan, followed by the artichoke mixture, sundried tomatoes, and grated gruyere cheese.  Finish by pouring the appareil or egg mixture over it all.
5.  Cook at 180°C 350°F for 35-45 minutes or until the top starts to become golden.
6.  Let cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.  This is admittedly the most difficult part.
The fruits of your labor will be mush appreciated and the new season will prepare your soul for the emergence of the Wood element...

This quiche is much easier to scoop once it has cooled.  The quinoa somewhat solidifies and forms a pleasantly nutty crust that ins nicely contrasted with the tang of the sundried tomatoes.

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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Sprouted Moong Sabzi - How to Sprout

For a few months now, I've been wanting to actively produce some bean sprouts and then use them in a normal daal recipe.  I've accidentally sprouted some kala chana before by letting it soak too long, and I loved the texture of it.  I figured I could do it with any whole bean or lentil and be equally amazed.  The thing is, you need to plan ahead.  You can't just decide at noon that you want to have some sprouted daal for dinner.  You need to have that urge a few days beforehand.  I knew a week ahead that I was going to be hosting an Indian dinner party, so I had plenty of time to wait for my little moons to develop.  
I like mine to be just barely sprouted.  It's actually quite easy.. Even if you accidentally do it wrong, like leaving the beans underwater for over 24 hours, they will still sprout.
How to sprout
Wash the beans well under running water, then leave them to soak for a few hours or overnight.  After the soaking time, drain and place in a transparent recipient and cover.  You basically want them to not dry out (hence the cover) and not be completely in the dark (hence the transparent recipient).  After 1 day, you will see little white tails staring to emerge from the bean's navel.  You can rinse to re-wet and leave them for another day for a slightly larger sprout, or'longer for longer and longer sprouts.
I soaked'mone for 24 hours and let them hang out drained for another 24 hours.  They were perfect, with the bean just starting to split to let life spring from it.  It was beautiful and filled my heart full of joy.  
And then there was life...
I was then able to use them in this amazing sabzi recipe, inspired by VegrecipesofIndia.
Serves 6-8 as a side
Ingedients
2 cups sprouted moong (1 cup dry)
1 1/2 Tbsp oil
6 cloves garlic, grated
1/2 inch ginger, grated
1 green chile, sliced
1 red onion, chopped
Pinch hing (asafoetida)
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chile powder
1 1/2 tsp garam masala
2 cups water or whey
1 tsp sea salt or to taste
Chopped cilantro for garnish
Directions
1.  Heat the oil in a wok and add the ginger, garlic, and sliced chiles.  Cook about 1 minute.
2.  Add the hing and turmeric until it fizzes, then add the chopped onion.
3.  Cook until onion is translucent, then add the chopped tomato.  Cook until it softens.
4.  Add the spice powders and cook for another 30 seconds, stirring.
5.  Add the sprouted moong and stir to coat, keeping on high heat.
6.  Add the water or whey with the sea salt.  Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the moong are tender.  
The cooking time will depend on how sprouted they are.  The more they are blossomed, the less time they will take to cook and adjust the seasoning

I served with some Paneer Lababdar, Bhindi, and Garlic Naan, preceded by some Samosas and Punugulu with Green Chutney, and followed by some Coconut Burfi.
This meal was a dream come true.
As I made the paneer, I saved the whey and used every last drop of it in place of water in each of the dishes.  It adds an extra dimension to the dish you can't quite put your finger on.  The best part is that adding whey makes this a double whammy in terms of nutrition.  Sprouts contain more protein and less phytic acid than their harder bean predecessor, which means your body can absorb the nutrients more easily.  Sprouts are also considered easier to digest than normal beans.
The sprouted mung sabzi, the way I made it, was like a secret pleasure.
The sprout was so discreet that I felt I was the only one with the power, because I knew...

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Friday, February 20, 2015

Soy Sauce Chicken and Fried Brown Rice

Since yesterday, the sun seems to be noticeably rising earlier and setting later, the birds have been happily chirping away into the late morning, and sour taste cravings are in the forefront.
Happy New Year, we have entered the year of the Goat!
As the Chinese New Year marks the beginning of seasonal Spring (not western calendar spring), the Goat is important to me.  I'm not sure what it symbolizes in Chinese astrology, but to me it symbolizes fraternal love.  Precisely, the love I have for my brother, and the reciprocal love he has for me.  Although my brother was born under the Rabbit and I myself under the Pig, the Goat has always been a heartwarming symbol for us (which my parents probably never will understand.)
So, as I probably won't be posting any goat recipes (unless that little buggar shares one with me), I'll be gorging on farmer's goat cheese all year while sharing my latest Sichuan Cuisine experiences.. which I am quite proud of as of yet.  The chicken has an almost roasted visual appeal, but a tender broth infused texture and flavor, which intrigued me when I ate it fresh off the stove, and again even more the next day!

Adapted from ChinaSichuanFood
Soy Sauce Chicken
Serves 4
Ingredients
Marinade:
4 chicken legs
1 inch piece ginger, grated
1 green onion, cut
2 Tbsp soy sauce
Rub the soy sauce all over the chicken, then add the grated ginger and green onion.  Marinate for 2 hours in the fridge.
Simmer:
2 inch piece ginger, sliced
2 bay leaves
5 star anis
3 dried red chiles
1 green onion, cut
1 cinnamon stick
white part of 1 leek, sliced
3 Tbsp light soy sauce
1 Tbsp dark soy sauce
1 Tbsp Shao Xing wine
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 1/2 cups water
1 tsp sugar
Garnish:
chopped cilantro
Directions
1.  Place all the "simmer" ingredients in a pot or deep pan and bring to a simmer.  Let simmer for 5-7 minutes.
2.  Slide in the marinated chicken.  Bring to a boil, then cook covered and simmer for 20 minutes, flipping the chicken once.
3.  Turn up the heat a bit, flip chicken again, and cook, uncovered for another 5-10 minutes until done (you can tell by poking it.. if the juices run clear, it's done).

My own personal creation
Fried Brown Rice
Serves 4
Ingredients
1 cup shredded cabbage
1/2 cup seaweed (rehydrated)
1/2 cup wood ear mushrooms (rehydrated)
2 carrots, peeled and grated
1/2 cup sliced leeks
1 green chile, seeded and sliced
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup cooked brown rice
2 garlic cloves, sliced
2 Tbsp oil
3 Tbsp Soy Sauce Chicken Simmer Broth (once chicken is done cooking)
1 Tbsp black vinegar
Directions
1.  Heat half the oil in a wok and add the carrots and leeks.  Cook until fragrant, then add the chile and cabbage.  Make sure not to overcrowd the wok, pushing the "done" ingredients to the side to make room for the new ingredients in the center.
2.  When the cabbage starts to become tender, make room in the center and add the beaten eggs.  Let cook without touching for about 2 minutes, then stir into pieces.
3.  Make room in the center and add the rehydrated wood ear mushrooms and seaweed.  Heat through.
4.  Make room in the center again, add the rest of the oil, wait a few seconds, then add the cooked brown rice.  I used brown basmati rice.  I have a hard time using any other type of rice.  I don't know why, but it just doesn't seem "right."  Cook for about 2-3 minutes, stirring only the rice, then stir everything together.
5.  Add the soy sauce broth and vinegar and stir fry another 30 seconds.

Serve hot, without the broth, garnished with some chopped cilantro.
This would have been excellent with some Goat.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Paneer Lababdar

I made this extraordinary dish a few days ago, and had prepared a wonderful monologue concerning its richness and heartwarming goodness, the way it makes me feel inside, and the way it makes my eyes glitter.
But I wrote all that with my Bearded Dragon, Abby, on my shoulder.. and as I went to pour my tea for a few seconds, Abby had jumped onto the desk and played around with my monologue.  She deleted and saved during the 2 seconds I left her alone on the desk.
Unfortunately, I cannot rewrite the moments of joy I was feeling during my previous writing of this recipe, but I can share it.
I can say how wonderful it was, this Punjabi paneer recipe.  So wonderful, in fact, that it was asked of me that I make it again this weekend for an Indian dinner party I'll be hosting.
Maybe I'll come back and edit this with my newly replenished feelings toward the cuisine process of this dish...
Borrowed from VegRecipesofIndia
Serves 4-5 as a side
Ingredients
to blend:
1 can high quality tomato pulp
15 cashews
1 inch chunk ginger, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 green cardamom pod
2 cloves
for the curry:
1 Tbsp butter
1 Indian bay leaf (tej pata)
1 small red onion, chopped
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp chile powder
1 cup water
2 slit green chiles or 1 sliced Moroccan chile
200g (1/2 lb) paneer, cubed
1 tsp dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi)
1/4 tsp garam masala
2 Tbsp heavy cream
1/2 tsp fleur de sel
Garnish:
Chopped cilantro
Julienned ginger
Directions
1.  Make the spice paste.  Simmer the "to blend" ingredients together in a saucepan for about 7-8 minutes.  Let cool, then blend into a smooth paste.  Set aside.
2.  Heat the butter in a wok with the bay leaf and chopped onion.  Cook until onion is tender, then add the spice paste along with the cumin, coriander, and chile powder.
3.  Cook, stirring until the paste becomes clumpy, about 6-8 minutes.
4.  Add water and stir to loosen the sauce, then add green chiles.  Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to a simmer.
5.  Add the paneer cubes, fenugreek, and garam masala.  Heat through, then stir in the cream.  Taste and season with fleur de sel if needed.  Just a touch will do.

Serve garnished with julienned ginger and chopped cilantro.  I didn't have any cilantro but I sure will next time...
I served mine alongside some Green Ki Dal, Cabbage Sambharo, and some basmati rice.
Conclusion:
Omg I can't wait to cook some Bhindi again..
It's going to be a perfect pairing with this paneer!

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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Grilled Prime Rib with Aïoli Crusted Lobster

Europeans assume that the only specialty the US has is hamburgers, and when they say hamburgers, they are thinking McD's.  They assume that any meal Americans eat other than burgers is an import (Italian, Mexican, Japanese...). While it is true that the US is a melting pot of cultures, and thus, cuisine, there are a few dishes that are typically American and are rarely seen in other countries.
Surf and Turf is one of them.  The association of a superbe cut of beef with some shrimp, crab, or lobster is unheard of on this side of the pond.  Surf and Turf over here consists of  scallops and leeks. The Surf element is usually some type of shellfish and the Turf element some type of vegetable grown in the ground (as opposed to picked off its plant.). While the Euro style is delicious, nothing screams Vegas the way some excellent prime rib and lobster or king crab does.
Mmm king crab.  Found rarely and always frozen here.
Another diffence I've noticed about France is that shrimp, crab, or lobster is always eaten cold and usually with mayonaise.  Aside from the peel and eat shrimp, I haven't been able to adapt to the cold crustacean business.
No wonder they never thought to pair it with a lovely côte de boeuf!  They don't really imagine hot lobster tail at all.
The advantage of being an expat is being able to create fusion between the two cultures.  In the south of France, they have this garlic emulsion called aïoli that they eat with their cold seafood and steamed vegetables.  I took it to the fusion level and brushed it onto my lobster before roasting it, making it beautifully crusty.  I did a similar version of this a few months ago with rouille.
To balance it out, I made a side of garlic mashed potatoes and sautéed fennel with spinach. 
Since I have mega issues cooking for 1 or 2, this happily feeds 4.
Rusted Aïoli
5 cloves garlic, smashed
Pinch fleur de sel
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp Rouille spices (chile powder, paprika, saffron)
1 tsp minneola (tangelo) juice
Few grinds black pepper

Make this first.  You can do it ahead of time. (Metal)
1.  In a mortar and pestle, grind the garlic into a paste with the fleur de sel.  You don't want any bits and pieces.  You want a smooth paste.
2.  Transfer to a mixing bowl and add the egg yolk and the minneola juice.  Whisk well.  There will be a chemical reaction happening between the acid and the egg.
3.  Very slowly pour in the olive oil while whisking, just a little at a time.  You want to create a mayonnaise-like emulsion.  I completely suck at doing this, but I don't really care because I'm going to brush it on some lobster and roast it.. not dip cold crab into it!

Garlic Mashed Potatoes
4 medium potatoes, scrubbed and steamed (pressure cook 15 minutes)
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp minneola juice
1 Tbsp aïoli
Pinch fleur de sel
Few grinds black pepper
Handful freshly chopped parsley
1/2 cup milk

The mashed potatoes can be done ahead of time and reheated stovetop during the roasting waiting time. (Earth)
1.  While still hot, peel the potatoes.  Why not peel them before and avoid burning your fingers?  Well, because they lose much of their taste and nutrients when you do it that way.  Potatoes don't have many nutrients to begin with, so who cares about that.. they taste better this way, trust me.
2.  Put them in a pot off heat and mash them with a fork along with the butter, minneola juice and aïoli.
3.  At this point if you feel like using a whisk, go right ahead, but I just kept my fork and was quite happy with the result.  On low heat, add in the milk a bit at a time until they reach desired consistency.
note if making ahead:  don't use all the milk beforehand for you might need it when you reheat stovetop.
4.  Whisk in the parsley, fleur de sel, and black pepper.  Taste and make sure they are garlicky enough.  If not, add more aïoli!

Sautéed Fennel and Spinach
200g (about 1/2lb) fresh spinach, washed and dried
1 fennel bulb, sliced into moons
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp aïoli
Pinch fleur de sel
Few grinds black pepper
2 Tbsp minneola juice

Get your veggie fix (Wood and Metal).
1.  Heat half the oil in a wok and add the sliced fennel until softened, then set aside.  I did this step ahead and the rest during the roasting waiting time.
2.  Heat the other half of the oil in the same wok and wilt the spinach.  You may want to do this in batches so it doesn't steam.
3.  Add the fennel back in along with the minneola juice, fleur de sel, and black pepper.
4.  Remove from heat and stir in the aïoli.

Prime Rib
450g (1 lb) côte de boeuf about 1 1/2 inch thick
Fleur de sel
Cracked black pepper
Drizzle olive oil
pinch chopped parsley

Prep your prime rib. (Fire)
1.  Rub some fleur de sel and black pepper onto each side of your lovely Côte, then massage a drizzle of olive oil onto it.  That's it fir the prepping.  Make sure it is out of the fridge for at least 10 minutes before cooking.
2.  Heat your griddle pan or BBQ on high.  Cook for 2 1/2 minutes on each side, then transfer to a 190°C 375°F oven (griddle pan and all) for another 8 minutes for medium rare.
3.  Let rest for 2-3 minutes before cutting.

Roasted Lobster
2 small North American lobsters, defrosted and halved
Squeeze of minneola (tangelo) juice
Freshly chopped parsley
2 Tbsp aïoli

Get your crust on your lobsters. (Water)
1.  Make sure you drain any liquid from the defrosted lobsters.  I don't do live lobster.  Can't kill it.  I don't mind so much with oysters or mussels, but things that walk and can look at me and scream are too hard for me to kill.  Yes, I'm a softie..
2.  Squeeze some of the minneola juice onto each half, then brush the aïoli on.  Top with fresh parsley.  As I cut my lobsters in half, I noticed one was male and one was female.  Guess who saved all the lobster roe for herself?  Teehee!
3.  Roast at 190°C 375°C for 10 minutes.  If you time this right, the lobster is the last thing you serve, so your prime rib has already rested and your sides are already served.  Get it? Yes, be efficient.

I even managed to make this balanced with the Elements.

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Friday, February 13, 2015

Gujarati Cabbage Sambharo

It has been well over a week since I've last cooked and quite some time I've been eating heavy French food several evenings in a row.  At first it's nice to be pampered and invited.. but in the end, it's torture to not be able to help out in the kitchen or completely create the menu.. or even add a touch of ginger or chile!  This type of abstinence makes me naturally inclined to my own version of "home-style" food.
Lucky for me, my family "home-style" is transcontinental, so I have a plethora of choices and cravings depending on the time of day, season, or weekly events.
Since I was able to sneak a peek of Cambodian/Chinese food at my all-time favorite place, the Angkor, I was craving Ba's (grandma) food.
The first thing I did upon arriving was to soak some green and red lentils while I returned the rental car.
Then I naturally started grating carrots and cabbage, letting my Ba's energy flow through me as I remember feeling when eating her food.  It usually included cabbage and peas with black mustard seeds, or sometimes potatoes and cauliflower in a similar seasoning.  Of course, all of this was accompanied by an okra main dish with a daal side, some fresh rotis with ghee, and some tainted yellow rice once you thought you were finished.
I don't know if I love to eat this way because of my genetics or because of the fond warm memory it awakens within me, but what I do know is that it is the best way to replenish my depleted nutrients after a week-long out-of-the-kitchen business trip.
Serves 3-4 as a side
Ingredients
2 Tbsp oil
1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp turmeric
pinch hing (asafoetida)
2 carrots, peeled and grated
1-2 green chiles, seeded and sliced
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 small red onion, sliced into moons (optional)
2 cups shredded cabbage
pinch fleur de sel
Directions
1.  Heat the oil in a wok and add the cumin and mustard seeds.  Cook until they sputter a bit.
2.  Add the hing and turmeric.  It should fizz and be sensually pleasing.
3.  Add the carrots and chiles and stir-fry for about 40-60 seconds.
4.  Add the peas and onion slices and cook for another 30 seconds, stirring.
5.  Make space into the center of the wok and add the shredded cabbage.  Spread so that it doesn't cook in a pile, but evenly.
6.  Cook, stirring for another minute or 2.

Serve as a side in a "Welcome Home" thali.
I served mine alongside some Green Ki Dal and some basmati rice.  
If I had had the time, I would have made some Rotis.. because nothing screams GUJU GIRL like rotis.
Wow I'm realizing I haven't done that in quite some time.  I think I'll be taking advantage of this rainy weekend and abundant leftovers to do something productive with my fingers..

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Sunday, February 8, 2015

Chicken Hearts with Cabbage Fried Rice

So, I stumbled upon some chicken hearts the other day at my local supermarket while waiting in line for just salad and green onions.  The person before and after me had them in their basket, and I must have said out loud "wow I be that's insanely delicious..." which is not unusual for me to say to myself out loud.
Lucky for me, the person behind me actually answered my self comment.  He was either Vietnamese, Cambodian, or Laos (I still don't have it down pat) but with his wife, they seemed to know exactly what they were talking about.  He saved my spot in line while I quickly ran over to the meat section to buy the absolute last saturday night chicken hearts in the aisle.  He then explained to me in detail (to the utter exhaustion of the cashier) how to prepare them, that they are not tough, but rather tender, and are best grilled or pan fried and paired with shallots.
Be still my hearts.. and rock my world.
The best part is that they are very healthy.  Any heart is good for the heart, and they are almost dirt cheap (for meat).  My ginger chile garlic concoctions of late have quickly and efficiently kicked my cold out of my body, and now this is perfect to strengthen that important little muscle trapped in my cage soon to find itself in a straight jacket all next week, dying to breathe again. 
Serves 2
Chicken Hearts
150-200g (around 1/2 lb) chicken hearts, quartered lengthwise and rinsed
4 small or 2 normal shallots, sliced crosswise
1 Tbsp oil
Marinade:
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 tsp ginger, grated
1 tsp soy sauce or tamari
1 tsp black vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp red pepper flakes

Cabbage Fried Rice
2 Tbsp oil
2 carrots, peeled and grated
1 cup shredded cabbage
1 slit green chile
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 cup cooked rice
2 eggs
1 green onion, chopped
2 Tbsp soy sauce or tamari
1 tsp black vinegar
juice from 1/2 lemon
few cracks green pepper
Garnish:
Thai chile
chopped green onions
chopped cilantro
Sriracha sauce
few drops sesame oil

Directions
1.  Make the marinade for the chicken hearts by stirring all the ingredients together.  Place the sliced hearts into the marinade and refrigerate covered for at least 1 hour.  Do this either in the morning or as the first step before prepping all the other ingredients.
2.  Make the cabbage fried rice.  Heat the oil in a wok and add the carrots.  Cook stirring for 1-2 minutes, then add the cabbage and chile.  Cook, stirring until cabbage is tender, about 2-3 minutes, then add the garlic and cooked rice.  Heat through, stirring and making sure the rice is well coated.  When ready, push everything to the sides of the wok to make space for the eggs.  Crack the eggs into the center of the wok and let simmer and bubble.  Stir lightly in the center to break the yolks and spread out the egg.  When you can stir and the eggs break apart into pieces, stir in the rest from the side to make a homogenous mixture.
Stir fry for another 1-2 minutes, then add the green onions, lemon juice, soy sauce, vinegar, and pepper.  
3.  During the "off" time of the cabbage fried rice, cook the chicken hearts.  Heat the oil in a wok and add the shallots.  Cook until softened, about 2-3 minutes, then add the marinated chicken hearts.  Let cook for 2-3 minutes, then stir and let cook another 2-3 minutes.
Serve the chicken hearts with the cabbage fried rice garnished with a few droplets of sesame oil, chopped cilantro, and chopped green onions.  I added a Thai chile to my plate and a  drizzle of Sriracha for extra red hot heart thumping.

I cannot believe how tender these were.  If I had not cooked them myself, I would never have guessed they were organs.  I've tasted liver (other than fois gras) gizzards (other than confit) and kidneys (rognons) and they do taste very much like organs, which isn't something I go crazy for.  These are very soft and meaty without that extra gamey strange taste.  The best part is that any heart you eat will nourish your own...except any of that Hannibal nonsense.

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