Archive | August, 2009

Kitchen Karma Returns!

28 Aug

I have to say two things before this post begins.  1) I don’t always like everything I cook but I was really disappointed in myself a couple of nights ago, and 2) I am in no way an Asian cook and any “Asian” food I make I will readily admit is not going to be authentic.

That said, I was soooo happy to be on my way home last night and come up with a fun dinner idea, and even more, to execute it well!   I had some left over (rather overcooked) tequila-lime-garlic shrimp I had from the last night’s Mexican dinner (it was too hot to cook at home, so we went out).  I stopped on the way home and grabbed some more ingredients from North Park Produce (I love love love that place) and started in on shrimp dumplings as soon as I got home!

I was so excited to be able to use the newest gadget in my kitchen – the dumpling press.  A few months back, hubby and I were walking through a kitchen gadget store and saw these curious little dumpling presses; at less than $5 a pop, it wasn’t a bad price, but I just felt like it was a little bit of a silly thing to get.   I mean, making dumplings is not that hard by hand – why did I need a dumpling press?  Even so, when I saw it the next week at a thrift store for under $1, I had to throw it in my basket.  Why not?

Well, I’m so glad I did.  I’ll tell you, even at $5 each, this little thing is pretty awesome.  It cut down the time I spent assembling the dumplings, made it a lot cleaner (no exploding dumplings!) and was super-duper easy and FUN!

I didn’t cook these with any sort of a recipe – just threw the bits and pieces in the food processor – so I’m trying to recreate what I did, for the “recipe”.  Again, I know it’s not particularly authentic, but who cares?  The dumplings turned out really, really yummy – and the shrimp went from being slightly too limey and overcooked to being part of a really flavorful, gorgeous dish.  We served them with vegetables sauteed with a little garlic and soy sauce.

Elisa’s Shrimp Dumplings

  • 12-16 large cooked shrimp (or about 15-25 of the medium ones that you can usually get in the frozen food section).  Mine were cooked with a lot of lime and tequila, which I think helped balance out the saltiness of the soy sauce…  I actually think if you use plain cooked shrimp and then add a little lime to the mixture it’ll be tasty.
  • 5-7 cloves roasted garlic (I roasted mine in the toaster in aluminum foil at 400 degrees for 10 minutes)
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard (I love adding mustard to Asian dishes; it helps balance the flavors for me)
  • dime-sized piece of fresh ginger, minced (you could use jarred ginger or ground powdered ginger if you want; I don’t know the exact amount though)
  • ground black pepper
  • 2 green onions, chopped fine (greens only)
  • 20-24 wonton wrappers

In a food processor, combine shrimp, garlic, mustard, soy sauce, ginger, and black pepper.  Blend for approx. 1 minute or until the texture is similar to ground meat.  Add green onions and mix together.

Shrimp mixture, ready for stuffing!

Shrimp mixture, ready for stuffing!

Place a small amount (approx. 1 1/2 tsp) of the mixture in a wonton/gyoza wrapper (the dumpling maker is soo nice for this – there’s a little indentation where you put the filling!) and seal the edges (also nice) with water.

filling in the dumpling wrapper

filling in the dumpling wrapper

fold over the wrapper

fold over the wrapper

seal the dumpling

seal the dumpling

pretty little sealed pocket

pretty little sealed pocket

Place finished dumplings in a single layer in a frying pan with a very thin layer of hot oil and fry on high for 1-2 minutes or until the dumplings begin to brown on the bottom. 

frying the dumplings

frying the dumplings

Carefully add about 1/4 cup of water to the pan and quickly put a lid on the pan to catch the steam.  This step includes a LOT of hissing and spitting, so when I say “carefully” it’s very important!  Steam the dumplings for approx. 5 minutes.  They’ll turn almost translucent and become very tender.

steaming

steaming

Carefully remove the dumplings from the pan (they stick) and serve.  These were so good I forgot the dipping sauce I’d made!

mmmmmm!

mmmmmm!

Lemon Rosemary Buttered Chicken

27 Aug

I was super excited two nights ago to finally cook dinner, for the first time since July!  I chose a super-easy recipe of mine that always yields great results: Lemon Rosemary Buttered Chicken.  This is a recipe I came up with because we have a gorgeous rosemary bush in the backyard and I had a bunch of lemons two summers ago that I wanted to use in something…  When I first made it, I was cooking it about 3 times a week!  It is sooooo yummy.

Unfortunately, being totally out of practice, I was a leetle too generous with the wine and basically “drowned” the chicken.  I almost didn’t even post it – but since I’d told people I would, I wanted to keep my promise.  Just know that it’s usually a heck of a lot prettier than this, so I’ll update photos when I can! 

Lemon Rosemary Buttered Chicken

  • 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp butter
  • 1/2 large shallot (approx. 2-3 tbsp, chopped); I used an onion because it’s what I had on hand, but shallot honestly tastes better if you can find it)
  • 2 medium/large cloves of garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 large chicken breast, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
  • splash wine (approx. 2-3 tbsp, no more than 1/4 cup)
  • juice of 1/2 a medium lemon
  • 1 inch sprig of rosemary, stripped and chopped into very small bits (or you can use about 1/2 tsp of dried rosemary)
  • pepper to taste

Lightly sautee shallot in a large frying pan in 1 tbsp butter for approx. 1 minute.  Add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes or until the shallot is almost tender.  Add the rosemary and half of the lemon juice and cook another 30 seconds.  Add the chicken to the pan and cook until the edges turn white (don’t overcrowd the pan!).  Flip chicken pieces and cook for another minute.  Add wine to the pan (just enough to coat the bottom of the pan).  Cook on low 3-5 minutes or until cooked through.  Add the rest of the lemon juice and the remaining tsp of butter and stir until well-coated.

Serve over cooked Israeli or pearl couscous or orzo pasta (I like the Israeli couscous because it has a nice toasty flavor) with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.

I wish it looked nicer but it's soooo good!!!

I wish it looked nicer but it's soooo good!!!

Beauty

25 Aug

I don’t usually repost links…  But since I don’t think anyone who reads my blog reads Big Fat Deal (though there are a lot of good reasons to), I have to  post this link that I got from them. 

It’s antique photos of beauty queens.  Before you think, “oh, how weird”, just check it out.  Look at how our world’s perception of beauty has changed over the last hundred or so years (they are fairly sure these photos are from the 1920s, although they were not marked).

It’s really stunning.  And this is my favorite.

missargentina

By the way, my crazy numbers of working hours are done for now.  Which means I (theoretically) can post more! 😉

Microwaved Eggs

21 Aug

I am not a huge fan of using the microwave for anything except reheating leftovers.  Don’t get me wrong – I have one and I use it – but it’s just not a part of my “normal” cooking routine.  Of course, since my “normal” routine for literally everything has been severely disrupted this month (as is probably obvious by my lack of posting, among other cues), I don’t have time to be too choosy.

This morning I realized that I needed to start the day off with some protein.  With all the work hours lately I have been just not eating right – and for a hypoclycemic, eating a lot of not-so-healthy-for-you food can seriously disrupt your blood sugar.  The last few days I’ve had blood sugar spikes and dips, a whole lot of fatigue, upset stomach, indigestion, headache, etc., etc.  I’m convinced that it has to do with several factors – sheer number of hours that I spend “on” (in addition, often times, to the number of hours I’m actually doing something), a large amount of work-related stress, lack of restorative sleep (I’m sleeping – but when you wake up more tired than you were when you went to bed, it’s not very good sleep), house-hunting stress, not eating right, drinking too much caffeine, not exercising (I’m doing as much as I can – and in fact I specifically spent 20 minutes yesterday doing nothing but walking during lunchtime…  it’s just not enough).  The list goes on.

Anyway, I wasn’t actually posting to rail about my stress levels or my eating habits of late.  I was posting to share a discovery.  I’m probably the last person on the planet to try this, but I thought it was cool nonetheless.

Since I was in need of protein this morning, in no mood for animal protein (my stomach in the morning at the best of times is never particularly able to digest animal protein), and without the basic pans needed to cook an egg (I actually got home before dark last night and my hubby actually made me dinner, but used every skillet in the process), I decided to get creative.  I googled steamed eggs first – but the recipes were mostly Asian-style lunch dishes.  So I tried “microwave egg”.  Voila!

The basic recipe is to mix up an egg with a little bit of liquid (my recipe said 1 tbsp but I think I’d add no more than a teaspoon since mine was a little runny), stick it in the microwave, and eat it.  Seriously, that’s it.  The recipe I read said to cook the egg on 50% power for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes; I ended up cooking mine for about 2 1/2.

It looks unassuming, but this is a great way to cook an egg!

It looks unassuming, but this is a great way to cook an egg!

The texture is light and fluffy and not a bit stuck to the bottom of the ramekin.  I was pleasantly surprised at the result – I just think that next time I’d add a little cheese, since cooking the egg in the microwave means that there isn’t even the flavor of just cooking in a pan (so it was a little bland).  Even so, I feel like this is a pretty awesome discovery – no pan required.

Floating Away…

19 Aug

I just got home from a party where different groups came up with different themes.  Each group then hosted a progressive party based on their theme.  Our theme was a 1950s Malt Shop.  I’m not going to lie, it was adorable!!  But that’s not the reason I’m posting at 1:00 am on a Tuesday (er, Wednesday?).

It’s to tell you to run – don’t walk – to your grocery store and get all the bits and pieces you need to make these drinks.

Like, now.

 

No, seriously. 

 

Last year my group did waaaay too many drinks and made a very complicated mess.  This year we decided to focus on just three alcoholic beverages – all of them floats.  We used a good vanilla gelato, but any good vanilla ice cream would work.  Each of the drinks was made with about 1 shot of the alcohol, 1 small scoop of gelato, and 10-ish ounces of the soda.  I wish I had photos – unfortunately we were scrambling at the end and I didn’t take them – but we garnished them with cookies and wedges of clementine orange and stuck a straw in each one (the gelato melted enough that no spoon was needed, but if I were making these for a smaller group, on demand, in nice glasses, I’d use iced tea spoons).

The three flavors were:

  1. Rock Star Root Beer (vanilla vodka and root beer; the most popular flavor)
  2. Blue Dreamsicle (blue curacao and creme soda; a gorgeous blue color and oh so tasty; people were scared of this one but trust me it’s worth it…  alternatively you could do some sort of citrusy vodka or triple sec with an orange soda, but who doesn’t think that a bright blue drink is a party in a glass?)
  3. Rum and Coke (this one tells it like it is – spiced rum with coca cola)

The drinks were fun and oh-so-tasty; a very sweet and refreshing end to an evening and an mature twist to a classic favorite.  I want to have an ice cream party just so I can serve them to my friends!!!

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