Saturday, 24 May 2014

Recipe Test - Sushi

Recipe Test - Sushi

Game plan:

-  Seasoned sticky rice, tuna, avocado and sesame seeds, with spicy mayo garnish and small bowl of soy sauce with a pea sized ball of wasabi paste.

 It's my favorite restaurant sushi to order and pretty sure I could live on it.

Original Recipe Link Here

So I've tried to make Sushi and rice balls and other finicky things like that before, but never with any real success. Most of the attempts tasted alright, but ended up as a sticky ball of rice mess. So as a perfectionist I knew I just had to keep trying until I mastered it. Or at least made one pretty plate of sushi, because  I accept that I will never truly be a sushi master.

I am pretty positive that the only reason my sushi attempts failed before was because I didn't bother getting a bamboo rolling mat and thought I could get by without it and that it would be expensive when I did get it and in my small kitchen I don't have time for one-use only kitchen tools.

Let me tell you, you certainly can not get by without one, I've tried. Also, they are pretty cheap at Chinese Markets, I literally paid $1.77 for the one I ended up getting.  It's my new favorite one-purpose-only cooking tool. Plus I am moving soon to a better home and nicer kitchen (with a dishwasher!!) so it's alright that I have one more tool to try and hide away.

Tuna Sushi

Original Recipe Ingredients:

40g tuna
20g avocado
100g sushi rice, cooked
½ sheet nori
10g sesame seeds
½ cup rice vinegar
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1 banana leaf
Changes I made:
I had about 250g of Tuna, used 1/2 whole avocado and I cooked 1 cup dry sushi rice. I ended up with enough ingredients to make three full rolls, and one half roll. Also pretty positive there are no banana leaves on the island of Newfoundland so I just didn't even bother looking for it. Pretty sure it's only there as a serving garnish to make the plate look all fancy and what not.

Pretty only is as pretty does. . .

To season Sticky Rice:
1/3 Cup Rice Vinegar
1 Tablespoon mirin
2 Teaspoons Salt

I added all ingredients to a small bowl and stirred to dissolve the salt and mix in the mirin.

I also made a Spicy Mayo:

1 Tablespoon Mayo
1-3 Teaspoons Sriracha Sauce

Place in a small bowl and mix well to blend. Transfer to a pastry bag with a fine tip. Drizzle over top of cut sushi for a spicy kick. Or serve in a small serving bowl to dip the sushi in if you prefer.

Instructions:

Cook the sticky rice according to package directions. Once cooked transfer to a wood or stainless steel bowl. Let cool for about 5 minutes. Add the seasoning mixture to the rice and stir gently to coat. Trying not to over stir as that will make the rice gluey.

To prepare sushi, Slice the tuna fillet into 1cm X 1cm square finger sections. So that you have long small tuna "finger" fillets. Keep sliced ready to use tuna in a bowl which is in a ice bath to keep the tuna cold as you work. Thinly slice the avocado, or chop into small pieces.

Place bamboo mat on clean work surface. Lay a slightly larger piece of plastic wrap over the bamboo mat. Place nori sheet on top of plastic wrap. Carefully spread some sticky rice over almost the entire sheet of nori, only leaving a one centimeter  band at the top of the sheet to be used to seal the roll together.

Sprinkle some sesame seeds over top of the rice. If desired you can lightly toast the sesame seeds in a skillet. But I just didn't bother. . .

Arrange 3-4 tuna slices along the bottom edge of the rice. Layer slices of avocado along side the tuna.

Working carefully begin to tightly roll the sushi,  using the bamboo mat. Once tightly rolled, use your fingers dipped in a water bowl to dampen the bare exposed nori at the top of the roll, and press the roll closed and seal.

Wrap the rolls in the plastic wrap and place in the fridge until ready to serve. When time to serve, unwrap from plastic and slice with a very sharp knife into pieces that are about 1 inch wide. Drizzle with spicy mayo and serve with wasabi and soy sauce.

YUMMY! I actually made this!

Can't lie, pretty pleased about this one.

Enjoy!

PS, June 2014, made it again! Added some panko bread crumbs to the center of the rolls, as well as lightly toasting the sesame seeds in a dry skillet until just browning. Oh golly they were even better on the second attempt.

Notes:

Also do you know how to tell for certain how ripe or usable your avocado is? 'Cause I live on a island in the north Atlantic ocean so I know my avocados are always going to be frozen first, then shipped and then thawed when they get to me. Meaning sometimes the gentle squeeze test can be very misleading. I find the best way is to check the navel/stem spot on the fruit. Pluck out the little nub if there is one and have a look in the navel. It should look fresh and not browned or dried out. Fresh navel means fresh avocado. Just don't pop the navels out of every avocado or else someone is sure to shoot you an evil eye stare. If you honestly can't find a decent one after 3 or 4, you probably wont find a fresh one at that store/in the pile.

Other Places:

Something baked?

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Recipe Test - Italian Wonder Pot

Time for another recipe test! This one just seemed like it was too easy and good to be true. . . 

Original Recipe from a Buzzfeed article: Affordable Wonder Pot

Which was apparently based on a recipe from Martha Stewart, but I didn't see that one.

Recipe claims:

 Throw the magical list of ingredients into a pot, cover, bring to a boil, uncover and simmer for 15-20 minutes. . . and that's it, dinner is ready. Garnish with some crumbled feta cheese on top.

I don't know about you but I like the idea of a recipe I can literally throw everything  into a pot and have dinner ready in about 30 minutes. Also one pot anything is pretty awesome in my books (Who actually likes washing dishes anyways?).

Original Recipe Ingredients:

4 Cups Vegetable Broth
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
12 ounces Fettuccine
8 ounces Frozen Chopped Spinach
1 (28 Ounce) can Diced Tomatoes
1 Onion
4 Cloves Garlic
1/2 Tablespoon dried Basil
1/2 Tablespoon dried Oregano
1/2 Teaspoon red pepper flakes
Fresh cracked pepper
2 Ounces Feta Cheese

Changes I made:

  • I used half spinach fettuccine and half smart pasta noodles
  • My package of frozen spinach was 12 ounces so I used the whole thing
  • I increased the basil and oregano to about 1 tablespoon each, and omitted the red pepper flakes
  • I also added 3 home made sundried tomato sausages I had on hand, cooked and chopped into small bits.
Instructions:

Prepare all the ingredients, finely mince the onion and garlic, and get everything else together. Break the fettuccine noodles in half to make stirring easier later. Add everything to a large pot, including the juice from the canned tomatoes, only leave out the feta cheese.


Place lid over pot and over medium high heat bring to a full roiling boil. Uncover, reduce heat to medium and simmer 15-20 minutes until noodles are al dente. Stir occasionally to help noodles cook evenly, but be careful not to over stir as the noodles can get gluey I am told.


Ladle into warmed serving bowls, garnish with crumbled feta and serve with bread or salad.


Conclusions:


This recipe is a magical success story! Came together perfectly, was delicious and reheated well the next day for lunch. I seriously loved this recipe and plan to make it again! Though I might half it next time or some other smaller fraction somehow, I made this when it was only me and man-friend at home for supper. I had an awful lot of leftovers. The original recipe said it served six people but I think eight of my people could have eaten that no problem. 


Other Places:

Instead of something healthy how about something deep fried?

Perfect Fries

Prosciutto-Cod Fillet

Prosciutto-Cod Fillet

Ingredients:

Cod Fillet(s) - One per person
Paper thin sliced Prosciutto- 2-3 slices per fillet
Pepper

Per fillet: *
1 Clove Garlic
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/2-1 Tablespoon Butter
8 inch X 8 inch square parchment paper

Optional: **
1/2-1 Tablespoon lemon Zest per fillet

Lemon slices, garnish
Parsley, garnish

* Per Fillet, meaning if you are serving two people, double those ingredients, if serving three triple it, etc.
** I liked the lemon zest in the recipe, man-friend did not enjoy the lemon so much, so this is a judgment call for you to make.

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 450°F.

In a small bowl, or a stoneware mortar and pestle, add the amount of salt needed for the number of fillets you plan to make and finely mince the cloves of garlic into the bowl as well. Mash salt and garlic together until a firm paste forms.

Melt the butter, or lightly brown the butter in a skillet. Mix the melted butter in with the salt and garlic.

Lay a square of parchment paper on a work surface. Arrange 2-3 sheets of prosciutto on the parchment paper, so they overlap slightly and create a sheet. Season a fillet of cod with cracked black pepper on both sides. If using lemon zest, season the cod with it now.

Brush the salt, garlic, butter mixture lightly over one side of the fillet. Place the prepared side down on the prosciutto sheet. Brush the mixture over the top of the fillet. Fold the prosciutto over the short ends of the cod fillet first, then carefully wrap it over the long side. Be careful as the prosciutto likes to tear easily. The fillet should look like a prosciutto wrapped present on a bed of parchment paper.

Fold the parchment paper over so the fillet is in a little paper box. You can seal it with tooth picks or paperclips, or be like me and just fold and crimp it together.

Repeat process with all fillets to be baked.

Transfer parchment boxes to a baking sheet when finished and bake in preheated oven for about 12-14 minutes.

Serve either unwrapped or still in parchment, with parsley and lemon wedge as garnish.

Goes great with Parmesan Asparagus!

Enjoy!

Notes:

Did you know garlic can react with an awful lot of things while you are cooking? Not always in a good way either. If you add the lemon zest/ or lemon juice too early in this recipe it will oxidize the garlic and turn it a gross shade of blue. Also it will make it taste funny.

Fresh cut garlic will also react with tin foil. I made a potato-leek casserole once covered it with tin foil and put it in the fridge until time to cook, only to come back and find the top of my casserole had turned bread-mold-blue. Gross.

So be smart with your food chemistry. No tin foil near fresh cut garlic!

Other Places:

Something traditional and easy:

Meatballs

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Quick and Simple Pepper Steak

Pepper Steak

Ingredients:

1/2 Pound Steak, Flank or Blade is good
1/3 Cup Soy Sauce
1 Cup water
3 Stalks Celery
1-2 Bell Peppers
1 Onion
1-2 Cloves Garlic
Black Pepper
Cooking Oil, your choice friends!

Cooked Rice for four people, I prefer a long grain white

Instructions:

Freeze the steak for about 10 minutes to make it easy to slice. Slice into finger width slices, or bite sized cubes.

Heat the cooking oil in a large skillet or wok, preferably something with reasonably high sides.

Finely mince the onion and garlic. Once the oil is hot add the minced onion and garlic to the pan, season with pepper and stir fry for about 10 minutes, till soft and fragrant and possibly just slightly golden. Don't over cook the onions at this point!

While the onions and garlic mellow together in the pan, chop the celery and bell peppers into desired cuts, I usually finely slice the celery and chop the bell peppers.

Once the onions and garlic are softened, add the diced steak, and remaining chopped vegetables. Add the water and soy sauce, stir well to mix evenly. Reduce heat to a medium low setting and allow the skillet to simmer, uncovered (with a splatter guard if you happen to have one. . . ) for about 25-30 minutes or until steak is cooked through and tender. Stir it occasionally to keep things cooking evenly.

Serve over rice, with garlic toast if you want to be like my family!

Enjoy!

Notes:


A simpler recipe for peppered steak stir fry like I had when I was a kid. This one is pretty much identical to the one my father made. This was seriously his only recipe that everyone would eat. It's also fool proof simple. Plus any kids I've fed this too have loved it. Just remember to not add any extra salt! The soy sauce in the recipe is more than enough salt!

Other Places:

Something fancy:

Lemon Salmon

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Caramel Apple Dip

Always a hit at parties, just don't mistake it as a healthy party food!

Caramel Apple Dip

Ingredients:

1 Brick Cream Cheese
1/3-1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Zest of one Lemon or Lime* Optional
1 Cup Skor Chips, or 3-4 smashed Skor Bars
About one cup caramel sauce

About 6-8 Medium Apples, I like to use Granny Smith

Instructions:

Allow cream cheese to stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes or so to soften. Place the softened cream cheese in a large bowl along with the sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla extract (and the lemon/lime zest if you are using it). Beat with an electric mixer until creamy and well blended.

Using a rubber spatula transfer the cream cheese mixture to a deep sided platter or plate and smooth into an even layer.

Using another spatula carefully spread the caramel sauce over top of the cream cheese mixture, being careful to keep the layers separate.

Sprinkle the Skor bits over top of the caramel. Cover dish with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge until ready to serve. Can be made a few days ahead.

When ready to serve, rinse and dry the apples and slice nicely. Serve apple slices in a bowl along side the dip.

Enjoy!

Other Places:

For a great morning I suggest:

Waffles

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Ginger-Peanut Saute Sauce

I think I am sincerely getting better at making sauces. They turn out much better than they used to!

Ginger-Peanut Saute Sauce

Ingredients:

1/4 Cup Soy Sauce (Dark or Regular)
1/4 Cup Mirin
1-2 Cloves Garlic (you know I probably used 3. . . )
2 Tablespoons Ginger root, a chunk about as large as a thumb
2 Tablespoons Sesame Seed Oil
1/2 - 2 Tablespoons Chili Garlic Paste/Sauce
1-2 Tablespoons Peanut butter

Special Tools:

I used an immersion blender to break up any chunks and really mix the peanut butter in, but you could use a small food processor, or blender for the same purpose. Or just mash it all together with a fork really well to make a more rustic kind of sauce.

Instructions:

In a small bowl, or the strange vessel that comes with some immersion blenders, or in the bowl of your food processor/blender, add the soy sauce, mirin, sesame seed oil, chili garlic paste and peanut butter.

Finely mince the garlic cloves and ginger root (don't forget to peel the ginger root!). Add them to the bowl.

Pulse several times until evenly mixed and mixture looks smooth.

Enjoy!

How to Enjoy:
  • Works great as a marinade for chicken before grilling.
  • I used it in a stir fry tonight with pan seared scallops with diced baby bok choy, carrots, peppers, and edamame, all lightly steamed and then tossed with Chinese egg noodles and almost all of the sauce from this recipe. Garnish with fresh green onion and sesame seeds. Made a perfect stir fry for two-three people.
  • Is tasty enough to use a dipping sauce for dumplings.
  • As the seasoning/sauce when making fried rice, I normally just use egg, water and soy sauce to make my fried rice, but this adds some extra flavors that are quite nice. I would use about 1/4 cup or less sauce per cup of dry rice (before it's cooked).

Other Places:

A super easy quick recipe:

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Recipe Test - Chickpea "Fries"

Recipe Test - Chickpea fries, Better than the real thing?

Recipe Claims:

Replace the difficult task of fresh home cut french fries with this recipe instead. Takes slightly longer in the prep-time but is easier than blanching potatoes to make the perfect crisp fry.

Recipe Source/ Original

Ingredients:

2 Cups chicken or vegetable stock
1-2 Teaspoons ground rosemary
Salt and Pepper
1 Cup Chickpea flour (Available at bulk barn)

Instructions:

Basically boil stock, add rest of ingredients and whisk well until it starts to thicken. Transfer batter to a greased brownie pan and let stand in fridge for about 2 hours, or longer until firm. Cut the brick into fry shapes and fry for about 5-6 minutes in 350°F oil, cook in batches if needed. Drain cooked fries on paper towel and serve hot lightly dusted with salt.

Results:

The first fries out were quite tasty, had a nice crunchy shell and soft insides. Didn't quite taste or feel like a fry but was passable. However when an entire serving was put on the plate neither myself nor hubby to be could/wanted to finish them.

So maybe not the best as a french fry substitute, but could maybe work better as a causal party snack between friends. Would definitely be good with a flavored mayo or ailoi as a snack partner for a nice beer in summer time.

First recipe test, not exactly a raging success. But at least I tried something new and out of my comfort zone. Chickpea flour is going back into the cupboard and will be used to thicken up falafel paste that went wrong from now on.

Have you tried this recipe? Or eaten the results someone else made for you? How was it? 

Other Places:

How about a Miss Busy Bee original recipe?

Fairy tale themed pie

Chocolate Coconut Pound Cake

Chocolate Coconut Pound Cake

Ingredients:

1/4 Cup Butter
1 1/2 Cup Flour
1/2 Coco powder (unsweetened)
1 Teaspoon Salt (Optional)
3/4 Teaspoon Baking powder
1/2 Cup Coconut oil
1 Cups Sugar
3 Large Eggs
1 Teaspoon Vanilla extract
2/3 Cups Buttermilk
1/4-1/2 Cup Flaked unsweetened coconut

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Lightly mist either a bunt pan, or large loaf or brownie pan with cooking spray.

If the coconut oil is cold/refrigerated let it sit on counter for at least an hour to warm up. Allow the eggs and buttermilk to sit on the counter for about 30 minutes to warm up. Melt the butter in microwave until just melted and allow to cool for a minute before moving on.

In a small bowl whisk together the flour, coco powder, baking powder and salt. Set aside

In a stand mixer or electric hand mixer beat melted butter with sugar and coconut oil until light, fluffy and pale yellow. About 6 minutes.

Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla last mix well.

Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the batter and 1/3 cup of butter milk, mix until just combined. Add another third of flour mix and 1/3 of butter milk mix well. Add last third of flour and mix to just incorporate evenly. A small amount of extra buttermilk may be needed. Try carefully to not over mix as that will cause the cake middle to crack and buckle. Fold in flaked coconut and transfer batter to prepared pan.

Bake for about 60-70 minutes. Until a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.

Let stand in pan for about 10-20 minutes before transferring to platter or cooling rack.

Cake can be saved for up to 5-6 days if wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.

Enjoy!

Notes:

I made this cake on a Saturday afternoon after literally being out at a party until the sun came back up. So I can confirm that this is a stupid easy recipe as I was able to make it with pretty much no sleep or active brain cells that day. Plus it's chocolate and coconut, two of my favorite dessert things ever placed upon this great Earth. I truly enjoyed it and hope you will too. It is also slightly healthier than a traditional pound cake since coconut oil replaced more than half the butter, and buttermilk is fat free.

Now I feel like I ought to warn you about coconut oil because it really wasn't much like any other oil I've ever come across. For one, it's not a liquid at room temperature or at least not at the temperatures my rooms are at, it's more like a stiff shortening in a jar. Really it's almost like a wax. But whatever, it made for a delicious moist cake that I thought could only be created with the use of copious amounts of butter in the recipe. Now the jar of coconut oil is also telling me it is perfect as a cooking or saute oil. . . Next food experiment maybe?

Other Places:

Something for dinner:

Ginger-Soy Stir Fry

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Butter-Thyme Ham Glaze

Butter-Thyme Ham Glaze

Ingredients:

3 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons fresh Thyme or 2 teaspoons dried
1/4 Cup Cider Vinegar
1/4 Cup Honey
1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce

Instructions:

In a small saucepan heat the cider vinegar over medium heat until it has reduced to about 1 tablespoon in volume, takes less than 10 minutes.

While that is happening, melt the butter and add the thyme, stir to mix.

Once cider vinegar has reduced add the melted butter/thyme mixture to the warm pot, and the rest of the ingredients. Stir to mix.

Brush about 1/3 Mixture onto ham at start of cooking and re-glaze periodically. Bake ham at 375°F until cooked through.

Enjoy!

Notes:

Made for a delightful little ham dinner and even more delightful add in to a white-cheddar mac n' cheese I made the following night. Left overs are always best when they are transformed to a completely different meal.

Other Places:

Something to go with dinner:

Biscuits