Friday, April 28, 2006

Curry Chicken Pocket

I bought some Pilsbury Crescent Dinner Rolls last week when they were on sale. Since then, I have been looking up recipes to try them on. Of course the simplest use of it would be to roll them up as the shape of a typical crescent roll and bake them. But I want to use them in a more creative way....Oh, and I am flummoxed by the choices available at the Pilsbury website.

In the end, I decided to be even more creative! I decided to make my very first Curry Chicken Pocket. I am not sure if this is a good name for it. But I really couldn't decide what they look like...

I think there are still plenty of room for improvement, but OCT seems to like them a lot....I think I will make one batch for OCT's next lab meeting, together with the tomyam rolls, to make it an Asia breakfast!


Thursday, April 27, 2006

Ben & Jerry Free Cone Day

Last Tuesday was Ben & Jerry free cone day. Coming from Asia where nothing is free, I was thrilled to learn of this exciting opportunity! We asked our friends Sean and Adeline over for dinner, and headed straight down for our free scoop of ice-cream after the meal.

The free cone event started from noon, and lasted till 8p.m. At around 3 p.m, I could saw line of queue from my apartment! I was pretty worry that we might miss the boat if we went down too late.....Luckily we managed to be there 20 mins before it ended. There was a queue, but it moved fairly quick. I was impressed with the efficiency of the BJ staff, who must have worked non-stop since 12.... From the time we went into the shop till we came out, it was merely 5 mins. I have anticipated a longer wait, like what we experienced when queing to buy Hello Kitty from Mc Donald in Singapore.

Because we went down in a rush, I forgot to take my camera!!!Arrgh....this would have been a more interesting entry with the pictures....Anyway, we were offered to choose from a few flavors on the menu. I was disappointed that Black & Tan was not one of them. I would have tried that if it was there. Since it was free, I decided to try something that I will not risk to buy a whole pint. So I went for the Lemonade Sorbet. And OCT ordered a Mango Sorbet. Our more experience friend Adeline ordered a Phish Food, which I initially heard as "fish food", and Sean got a Chocolate ice cream.

Well, the Lemonade sorbet was a bad choice. It tasted funny. But OCT's mango sorbet was not bad. I exchanged mine with his, and was being reprimanded for my choice. He said it tasted like ENO. hahaha.....But he finished it nevertheless. Well, it's always better to try something like this when it's free, rather than spending 4 bucks on a whole pint later (which is still cheaper than in Singapore....)

Apparently, the BJ store in Singapore was also given away free cones on the same day! I asked my friend June for the detail, so that I can tell the rest of the world about it. Unfortunately, it was only for those who have coupons....which Ben & Jerry distributed on an earlier date. What an anticlimax. But I can't blame them. They have to adapt to the "Nothing is free" culture in Asia....


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Oatmeal Chocolate Cookies

Ok, that's it. This is THE Oatmeal cookies recipe that I am going to keep. The one from Quaker's website was not too bad, but this one is my official favorite! And I am so going to repeat this soon for our friends.

This is a recipe from American Test Kitchen. I used cranberries, instead of the usual raisin. I love raisin but the combination of chocolate chunk + cranberries + walnut is really heavenly.....As usual, I cut down on the sugar required in the recipe, as Americans generally have VERY sweet tooth, but it still turns out sweet.

Last Sunday I baked a batch of chocolate hazelnut cookies for OCT's colleague who had gotten us some nice ice-cream. Apparently, it was not very well received....OCT told me that it was shared during their lunch hour, and there was still some leftover that was being casually left on the table. Well, to be honest, I didn't think that's the best cookies I have ever made. But nevertheless, I used the best ingredients I can ever get, and baked just the night before to ensure freshness. OCT was quite mad about the unfortunate fate of my cookies. But what really bothered me was the cookie itself. The texture was not right. I can't pinpoint on what's wrong, but I don't feel right about the cookies. Anyway, it bugs me so much, and I keep thinking about what's wrong with the cookies...So much so that I decided to bake another batch, from another source. And I am delighted that this batch of Oatmeal Chocolate cookies turn out really well!
Adapted from America's Test Kitchen

Makes sixteen 4-inch cookies

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (6 1/4 ounces)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 1/4 cups rolled oats , old-fashioned, (3 1/2 ounces)
1 cup toasted walnut(4 ounces), chopped
1 cup dried cranberries(5 ounces), chopped coarse
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate , chopped into chunks about size of chocolate chips (about 3/4 cup)
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened but still cool
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar (10 1/2 ounces), preferably dark
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions; heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large (18 by 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. In second medium bowl, stir together oats, walnuts, cranberries, and chocolate.

3. In standing mixer fitted with flat beater, beat butter and sugar at medium speed until no sugar lumps remain, about 1 minute. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula; add egg and vanilla and beat on medium-low speed until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape down bowl; with mixer running at low speed, add flour mixture; mix until just combined, about 30 seconds. With mixer still running on low, gradually add oat/nut mixture; mix until just incorporated. Give dough final stir with rubber spatula to ensure that no flour pockets remain and ingredients are evenly distributed.

4. Divide dough evenly into 16 portions, each about 1/4 cup, then roll between palms into balls about 2 inches in diameter; stagger 8 balls on each baking sheet, spacing them about 2 1/2 inches apart. Using hands, gently press each dough ball to 1 inch thickness. Bake both baking sheets 12 minutes, rotate them front to back and top to bottom, then continue to bake until cookies are medium brown and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft (cookies will seem underdone and will appear raw, wet, and shiny in cracks), 8 to 10 minutes longer. Do not overbake.

5. Cool cookies on baking sheets on wire rack 5 minutes; using wide metal spatula, transfer cookies to wire rack and cool to room temperature.


Another 1/2lb of macaroni

I didn't use up the cooked macaroni in the previous dish, so I was left with another half a pound of cooked macaroni... What I did with the rest? I decided to bake them, with tomato-based sauce and lots of parmesan and mozarella cheese! We had baked cheesedog and macaroni on Monday night.

I needed something real fast as we were meeting our friend, kind Vikas who offered us a lift to do grocery shopping. I decided to use cheesedogs because they are almost expiring....Plus, I figured that if I used cheesedogs, i probably didn't need to care too much about seasoning.

This was really a time saver. And I like it!

This was how it looked when it came out from the oven...

As it rest, the cheese harden, which is good. That way, it's actually easier to serve. I should have taken a photo of how the cross-section looks. But we were too hungry and couldn't wait to dig in. I felt sorry that we coudn't share this with Vikas, as he doesn't eat sausage. I should have asked before I baked this.....Instead, I baked him some no-fail scones.

Speaking of the grocery trip. He brought us to the World Food Market, where they sell lots of food from different ethic groups. Some really cool Italian, Greek, Russian, Mexican and Asian stuffs. As usual, I went crazy to stock up on some hard to find ingredients, and bought some new condiments. It was really a fruitful trip. I feel empowered to cook up a storm again!


Tuesday, April 25, 2006

My macaroni

I must not forget to include this dish in my blog. Because I am proud that I created this on my own! It all began from the cancellation of our planned trip to vineyard on Sunday. Intending of having a lovely picnic on site, I had cooked some macaroni for a pasta salad. Due to the bad weather forecast, we decided to pospone it till a later date. And so, I was stucked with a 1 lb cooked macaroni in the fridge....

Since I don't have to cook something tried and tested for the picnic, I decided to experiment with some odds and ends found in the fridge. Also, inspired by OCT's homemade instant noodle sauce, I added ketchup in my sauce.

The combination is diced carrot + diced yellow pepper+ diced pineapples +diced ham + macaroni + sambal oelek + ketchup + dash of soy sauce + splash of rice vinegar. Just throw in the ingredients in this order, and I get a yummy macaroni meal. A bit spicy, a bit sweet, and we both love it! I am so sorry for not including a more detailed recipe, but I guess all the amount on ingredients can be adjusted to suit individual preference......

Oh, and we find it nicer the next for some unknown reason. Maybe I will make more next time, so that we will have some leftover for the next day!


Chicken with Lime Sauce

Sunday night, I tried a new recipe: Chicken with Lime Sauce from Cookinglight, while OCT went for his soccer game.

It was a sweet and tangy dish, and fairly simple to put together. Maybe because I didn't measure the ingredients for the sauce, it came out tasting a bit off, and certainly too watery for only 2 chicken breasts I used...The recipe called for dijon mustard, personally I have never been a big fan for mustard. So maybe that's why I didn't really enjoy this dish. Having said that, I was astonished by the reviews of other cooks who tried the recipe. They thought it was indeed very good and worth repeating. Well, one man's meat is another man's poison. So, I guess I shouldn't rely so much on other people's reviews in the future..... So are you. You should give this dish a try, if you like the combination of lime + dijon mustard.

I also cooked a stirfry mushroom with celery dish on the same night, which I liked a lot. However, it only received a lukewarm response from OCT. I used rice vinegar + sugar as sauce instead of the soy sauce that he is accustomed to. That's why he thought it was an ok dish, not really an excellent one. What to do, he has a wife who likes to experiment with new condiments. Recently, I have been experimenting with rice vinegar. You know, the kind you use in sushi. It lends a very complex flavor to the dish. Sometime when I used it in some dishes, they gained approval from OCT. Well, before he knew what was used, of course.....

Chicken with Lime Sauce

4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
Cooking spray
3/4 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons lime juice, divided
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon butter

Place each chicken breast half between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; pound to 1/4-inch thickness using a meat mallet or small heavy skillet. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 4 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove from pan; keep warm.

Add chicken broth, sugar, 2 tablespoons juice, and mustard to pan; cook over medium heat, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.

Combine water and cornstarch in a small bowl. Add cornstarch mixture to pan; stir well with a whisk. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; cook 1 minute or until sauce thickens slightly. Whisk in remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice and butter, stirring until butter melts. Return chicken to pan; simmer 2 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly heated.


Saturday, April 22, 2006

Walnut Coffee Cake

It's Friday night, and I have the urge to bake something. I decided to bake the Walnut Coffee Cake from Cooklight, and see how it compares to the Ina Garten's Sour Cream Coffee Cake. Both recipes use more or less the same ingredients. Except than the Cookinglight's version used buttermilk insteads of sour cream, and different sugar to flour proportion.

I want to make this for OCT's coming lab meeting, so I used a bundt pan; so that it will be more presentable than my usual square pan. As usual, the process of weighing, mixing and cutting was fun! And I was rewarded with a Walnut Coffee Cake in lesser than the expected time mentioned in the magazine!

See how unassuming the cake looks in the bundt pan....

After inverting it onto a large plate

I wonder how the interior looks, so I cut out 2 pieces, one for OCT and one for myself :)

See the brown sugar streak? Isn't this interesting?

As if this is not attractive enough, I quickly went into the kitchen and mix some powdered sugar + milk to give it a final touch.

ok, it looks much better now....

Nice eaten warm, we find this coffee cake tastes even nicer the next day. Having said this, I still prefer Ina Garten's Sour Cream Coffee Cake over this. Maybe because her version's sweeter and more tender. This coffee cake, however, offers a healthier alternative. It will be nice with a cup of coffee. I hope OCT's colleagues will like it.

Walnut Coffee Cake
(Adapted from Cookinglight April 2006)

3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (about 14 1/2 ounces)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
10 tablespoon butter, softened
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups nonfat buttermilk
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.
Combine brown sugar, walnuts, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk.

Combine sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium-high speed until well combined (about 3 minutes). Add eggs; beat 3 minutes or until combined. Beat in vanilla.

Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating well after each addition and scraping sides of bowl. Spoon half of batter into a 10-inch Bundt pan coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle half of brown sugar mixture evenly over batter; spoon remaining half of batter into pan. Top with remaining brown sugar mixture.

Bake at 350° for 55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.


Thursday, April 20, 2006

What a plesant surprise....

I got a parcel from ST again! She sent me my favorite Singer Emil Chow's latest CD : Rainman! Shortly after I heard of his new album from Singapore's radio station....And I am disappointed that I can't get hold of a copy of that because I am oversea.... How thoughtful is ST! She sent me my most wanted item!

Oh, what have I done to deserve such a good friend. A friend who knows me inside out, and have always be there for me.

I listen to the CD over and over again today, the soothing croon of Emil and the thought of ST mist my eyes. And OCT teased me when I broke into tears last night. :( Sometime I wish I am more emotionally stable.

Apparently, I am always on the left side while taking photos :P
(Left: In HK airport express. Right: In Bangkok airport)

Smile and be nice to this gal when you see her in Singapore :) BTW, she is still available....


Bow tie Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper and Cream Sauce

This is a hectic week for OCT as he has 2 presentations tomorrow. Because of this, he has to stay behind until 9p.m tonight, and I have to eat dinner alone :(

Dinner tonight is a new recipe from Cookinglight. I am glad that it turns out nice. When you have a well stocked pantry, making dinner is really a breeze. It suddenly struck me that we have not bought any commercial pasta sauce lately. It's good that we save ourselves some money and sodium loaded pasta sauce for awhile. Anyway, I think I kind of like of the combination of onion + milk + cheese + white wine. You can't go wrong with this. And add on with other stuff like spinach, prawn, chicken, roast pepper etc. The best thing is I got my calcium intake without having to drink milk! Plus I can add wine to my dish without complaint from OCT. Apparently, he kind of enjoy the pasta that I conjure.

Coming back to tonight's dinner. It uses a few pantry's staples like onion, roast red pepper, pasta, parmesan cheese, milk and ham. Though it's a vegetarian recipe, I gave it a twist by adding ham, and simplify some of the steps. I am too lazy to type out the recipe now, but will certainly add it in this entry sometime soon......


Mash banana, mash banana!

Yes, I am happily mashing bananas in the kitchen. Apparently most recipes don't require a lot of bananas. So I end up using one banana each in 3 recipes.

First recipe was very very simple: Banana Corn Muffins, which only 3 ingredients are required-- banana + 1/2 cup milk + 1 box of jiffy corn muffin mix. I only used my measuring cup to mix all three ingredients together. Though simple, the recipe is a loser. The muffins turn out dry and grainy. I wasted one banana in this experiment.

Now, I am down with two very ripe bananas. I struggle between risking another loser recipe or repeat a tried and true banana cake recipe. After checking the index pages of all my cookbooks,

I decided to try the one from Rose Levy Beranbaum's "The Bread Bible". Being an authoritative figure in the baking world, I believe she knows her stuff. Besides, my friend MY in Brisbane constantly uses her recipes, so I decide to go for it!

I make 2 variations using her recipes, one as Banana poppy seed bread and another one as Banana chocolate chips muffins. These seemingly unassuming bread and muffins taste really nice. I love the subtle lemon taste from 1 tespoon of lemon zest. What a clever twist on a classic banana cake recipe!

Now, I hope it can last till we have our picnic on Sunday.....


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

I think I gain weight...

Scary isn't it? I didn't realise it until I weighed myself yesterday. OCT said that's because I haven't been to exercise for the past 2/3 weeks. Finally a wakeup call for me to hit the gym again!

In an effort to shed off the 2 kg I put on, I went gym for the past 2 days. I like the gym in OCT's school a lot, as they have cable channels (we don't have this luxury at home). I especially like the Food Network. Time flies when there's something to distract my attention.

Coming back to food. I got three very ripe bananas from my friend Gerrie. If you were me, what will you do with that?
1. Just eat it as it is
2. Make banana shake
3. Banana muffin?
4. Banana cake?

Stay tune, I will tell you the fate of the bananas tomorrow!


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

No new recipe yet....

Yes, nothing new has come out from our kitchen for the past few days. We had beef stew on Monday night, which should last us for another day or two. I also made some scones to fill up the freezer space over the weekend, out of boredness. And a low fat cheesecake on Sunday night. Nothing particularly exciting. I am still angry with my camera, so I am not going to use it for awhile, hence no photos in this entry.


Saturday, April 15, 2006

Not my day....

This morning we went to the nearby Forest Park for a stroll, and visited the Tulip Fest that was held in the Jewel Box. We were both awestruck by the beauty of so many Tulips in the garden, and OCT helped me took some really nice shots. I intended to send some photos to my good friend ST, as I remember she loves Tulip.

We reached our destination after 30 minutes walk, I was highly distracted by other interesting scene on our way there, as usual. All in all, I think we have taken 60+ pictures in this morning.Excited though exhausted, I can't wait to upload the photos once we were home, even though OCT was using my laptop at that time. Since I have uploaded photos for countless time, it's like a reflex action to press the Enter keys several times without reading the message prompted. After the photos were uploaded, I happily left OCT alone to internet surfing, and went ahead to delete the photos in my memory card.

Big mistake!!!!!!I can't find my photos in my laptop though I was quite sure I uploaded them. Using my limited IT skill, I tried to search through all my file, but to no avail.....All the photos are gone! :(

You won't understand how I feel unless you have had the same experience before. Deep down in my heart, I believe the photos are hidden beneath some files, awaiting my rescue.......I really hope this is the case....sob sob.


Thursday, April 13, 2006

Lack of motivation....

I haven't tried a single new recipe yet this week....I think I have tried far too many new recipes, to the point that OCT gets confused when being asked what he thinks about certain recipe. He can't recall he tried the dish that I mentioned, let alone its taste. So, I think, it's time for me to slow down, and revisit some old and reliable recipes.

Yesterday, we had Spaghetti Arrabiata. As the temperature climbing, I prefer to eat something simple over rice with dishes....Oh, and I also went out to stock up on my baking supply! When the price of cream cheese goes below one dollar and butter is half price, I greedily shove many blocks into my shopping basket, and can't wait to get started with another round of baking marathon!

OCT helpfully reminded me of the Tiger Cake incident and suggested that I should half the recipe of whatever I make in the future....well, so that he doesn't have to swallow my failure. Heading that advice, I am making half a recipe of Lemon Cake now! It smells so refreshing in the oven, which is soooo different from the rest of cakes I make.

Fast forward half an hour......

I just have a slice of the lemon's so nice!!!!And it tastes refreshing, definitely the kind of cake that goes well with a cup of tea. What a relief :)

Fast forward another few hours later, OCT was home. I asked him to try the lemon cake as dinner was not ready.

"OMG, OMG, it's so good, it's so good!!!!!!" He giggled with an exaggerated expression on his face.
"I think you should sell this in my Dad's Singapore shop to revive his dying business." He went on.
"Hello, how many lemon cakes do you want? What? I am rude? So do you still want your lemon cake?" OCT went on with his imaginary scenario of taking order for the lemon cake....

Obviously, OCT loves the cake. He bursted into giggles, and continued to talk to the cake/himself..... I know I hit a homerun, for OCT behaved quite abnormal after tasting the cake.

Now, I wish I had made the full recipe....

Ina's Lemon Cake

Makes two 8-inch Loaves

1/2 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 extra large eggs at room temperature
1/3 cup grated lemon zest ( 6-8 large lemons)
3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup buttermilk at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the glaze:
2 cups confectioners' sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 8 1/2 x 4 1/4 x 2 1/2-inch loaf pans.

Cream the butter and 2 cups of granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, oneat a time, and the lemon zest.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and butermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juic in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves.

When the cakes are done, let them cool for 10 minutes, then invert them onto a rack set over a tray, and spoon the lemon syrup over the cake. Allow the cake to cool completely.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners' sugar and lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the top of the cakes and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sizes.


Sunday, April 09, 2006

Semi Home Made Pizza

Saturday = Pizza Day! Basically, I like everything that's unhealthy. So it doesn't come as a surprise that I like the cheese loaded pizzas. This week however, I decided to make OCT and my favorite version using the Pilsbury pizza dough I bought some time ago.

Baking is really a bliss when you have everything on hand. I made half the pizza with OCT's favorite Hawaiian combo: ham + pineapple+ mozzarella cheese, and a healthy spinach + roast red bell pepper + crumbled Gorgonzola Cheese on the other side. Because I made the pizza myself, i omitted the olive oil that often make the store bought version drenching with oil.

We really like the spinach side better than the Hawaiian side. Maybe because this Gorgonzola cheese + spinach combination is new to us, so we actually prefer it. Anyway, the two gluttons quickly finished the whole pizza on our own.

Because I wasn't feeling too well on Saturday, we cancelled our plan to go out and just chill at home. OCT insisted to cook me dinner while I rest. This was what we had:

Simple and nice meal for the weekend.


Friday, April 07, 2006

Spaghetti with Spinach and Gorgonzola cheese sauce

I like cheese, but I don't like to eat it on its own. So I am constantly looking for recipes that call for different type of cheeses. This week, I bought a block of Gorgonzola cheese to try out one recipe, only to find out that I don't have some of the other ingredients..... Thanks to the advance in technology, I found another recipe that uses Gorgonzola cheese, in no time. And we are set for another unpredictable new recipe for the week, again!

Growing up in a Chinese family, my encounter with cheese is understandably, limited. Except for the occasionally sliced Cheddar cheese in sandwiches, shredded Mozzarella on top of the pizzas, and cream cheese in Cheesecakes. I found myself flummoxed by the vast choices available in supermarkets here. Not to mention the countless combination of cheese used in cookbooks.

Coming back to this new recipe. I think the highlight is really the Gorgonzola cheese sauce. Though pungent and salty on its own, Gorgonzola cheese added dimensions to this simple spaghetti dish. Even OCT who is not adventurous in trying out new food, find this delicious. This is the kind of recipe I like. Simple and straightforward in its preparation, but taste sophisticated, and keeps people guessing what's in the recipe. Very much like a good chinese dish, where everything has blended so harmoniously well, that you can never call out all the ingredients.
The photo I took didn't do the dish any justice, for it tasted much much nicer than it appears here.

Spaghetti with Spinach and Gorgonzola Cheese Sauce

1 (9-ounce) package spaghetti
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated low-fat milk ( *I used 2 tablespoons and roughly 3/4 cup of 2% milk)
3/4 cup (3 ounces) crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
8 oz white button mushroom, sliced
1 large yellow onion, diced
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 (6-ounce) bag fresh baby spinach (about 6 cups)

Add the diced yellow onion to 2 teaspoons of hot oil and cook until it turns translucent. Add in mushroom, followed by spinach. Remove all from pan once spinach wilts.

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.
While pasta cooks, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly with a whisk. Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly with a whisk. Increase heat to medium-high; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat; simmer 3 minutes or until sauce thickens slightly, stirring frequently.Add in the spinach mixture. Remove from heat, and stir in cheese, salt, and pepper. Combine the sauce and pasta, tossing gently to coat.

Serves 4


Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Monday dinner: Peanut crusted tilapia & Broccoli with toasted garlic crumbs

Have I mentioned that I love to eat fish? I was very excited when the tilapia fillets were on sale last week, and bought some to try on the new recipes. First to go was pan fried Peanut-crusted Tilapia. Crusted peanuts were used in place of bread crumbs to coat the fillet. OCT went "Hmmm~ very nice" after one bite. I couldn't wait to join him, and had to agree that it's nice, not to mention that it's super easy. The only complaint was it left our small apartment smelt fishy for the whole night!

Instead of the usual stirfry broccoli with soy sauce, I am delighted to find another recipe to tackle them. Brocolli is one of OCT's favorite veggies, so we will eat it at least once a week. This recipe that I saw from Gourmet magazine sounds yummy and different from what we usually eat and use lots of garlic; which I like.

Broccoli with toasted garlic crumbs

1 1/2 lb broccoli, trimmed and cut into 2- to 3-inch-wide florets (5 inches long)
4 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
1/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup panko (Japanese coarse bread crumbs)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest

Put 1 inch of water in a 5-quart wide heavy pot, then put a steamer basket inside pot and bring water to a boil. Add broccoli and steam, covered, until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes.Meanwhile, cook garlic in oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until pale golden, about 5 minutes.

Stir in panko, pepper, and salt, then increase heat to moderate and cook, stirring occasionally, until crumbs are golden, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in zest.Transfer broccoli with tongs to crumb mixture in skillet and toss to coat.


Monday, April 03, 2006

Weekend Baking:Carrot Cupcake, Farmer Casserole & Chocolate Hazelnut Biscottis

The tiger cake failure didn't affect me too much after a good night sleep. On the following day, I moved on to make OCT his favorite dinner: Fried Beehoon, that I mentioned in my last post. To jump start my weekend baking project, I started off with Ina Garten's Carrot cupcake. It was a simple recipe, but required a lot of grated carrot.Because of the good experience with her sour cream coffee cake recipe I tried last week, I obediently followed each and every step of the recipe (except of cutting down on the sugar).

As expected, the carrot cupcakes didn't disappoint us! They turned out moist and tasty, and OCT said they won't last long in our house.

Carrot Cupcakes

Make 22 cupcakes

2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
3 extra large eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour plus one tablespoon
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound carrots, grated
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts

3/4 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 pound confectioners' sugar, sieved

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup grated or shaved carrots
2 tablespoons good maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 400F. Line muffin pans with paper liners.

Beat the sugar, oil and eggs together in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light yellow. Add the vanilla. In another bowl, sift together 2 cups flour, the cinnamon, baking soda and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Toss the carrots, raisins, and walnuts with 1 tablespoon flour. Add the batter and mix well.

Scoop the batter into the muffin cups until each is almost full. Bake for 10 mins, then lower the oven to 350F and bake for 35 mins, or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack.

For the frosting, mix the cream cheese, butter and vanilla in the bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment until just combined. Add the sugar and mix until smooth.

For the decoration, melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat; add the carrots and maple syrup and saute for 2 to 3 minutes, until the carrots are tender. Spread them on a paper towel to cool.

Whent the cupcakes are cool, frost them generously and garnish with big pinches of sauteed carrots.

On Saturday morning, I baked the Farmer Casserole that I included in my to try list, as breakfast. The recipe required 4 eggs, but I only left with one egg, sitting exclusively in the empty egg tray. It was too late, I had assembled all the other ingredients. So I went ahead, and topped up the balance with milk. Luckily, it turned out ok. Only a bit runny, because ofthe lack of support from eggs.

Anyway, I like it for its simplicity and versatility. It was healthy as compared to other recipes that called for canned cream soup. I think I will add some mushrooms next time too.

In case you wonder, it's not a heavy breakfast dish. OCT has the same concern too, when he saw the chessy topping on the casserole.Actually it was just one thin layer of cheddar cheese. We almost finished the whole tray, which was enough to serve 4 people!

Sunday night, I baked a batch of chocolate hazelnut biscottis. Though this was not my first time baking biscottis, I was anxious to try this version with hazelnut. Call me bias, I think chocolate tastes best with hazelnut. It reminds me of my favorite chocolate since young: Cadbury Hazelnut Chocolate. Hazelnut lent an interesting, not overpowering, almost instantly likable flavor to the chocolate. It blended so well in the milk chocolate that it has become part of the chocolate. If you were to take a blind test on chocolate with different nuts, I bet you can identify the one with hazelnut even before your teeth sink into a piece with the nut in it. Chocolate + Hazelnut is just an irresistible combination. At least for me.

With good faith in Martha Stewart's Tried and Tested recipe, I baked a full recipe this time. This landed me with a full bag of biscottis. Since biscottis can keep for a long time, I am not too concern about finishing them asap like other stuff I baked. But I doubt they can last long, judging from the speed I snack on them. I have already eaten 4 pieces since this morning.

But I think it's ok, since biscottis are low fat snack. It doesn't require a single drop of oil in the dough. (At least for this recipe) How nice is that. And the amount of sugar used was moderate. I used dark chocolate, which is good for the heart too! Ok, all these are just the excuses for another piece of biscotti......

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