Friday, February 02, 2007

Pizza night

The cold weather is making me lazy. I have no desire to tackle any complicated recipes than to simply sit in a warm place, with a cup of hot coffee and a book. But there's OCT I have to feed. And I can't possibly dish out the instant noodle with frozen dumplings on a weekday night. No, that is too irresponsible.

But I am still feeling lazy. So I made pizzas. I would have used the store bought dough in a heartbeat, if there's any in the fridge. But there is none. So, I made my own pizza dough. No big deal. It's not remotely difficult at all. All one needs, is plenty of time, and patient, to wait for the dough to rise into something that can eventually be baked and devoured.

One thing I like about homemade pizzas is the absolute control of all ingredients used. For our dinner, I made one with pineapple chunks, pepperoni and mushroom, and another one with green peppers, roasted onion, pesto,mushroom and pepperoni. Both have been topped with "reasonable" amount of monterey and mozzarella cheese.

And because I have problem making the crust into perfect 12-inch round, I decided to make them into rectangular. I believe that shouldn't affect their taste.


Thursday, February 01, 2007

Something healthy

Like a salad, is perfect for a lazy Sunday night when I don't feel like cooking up a storm. Besides there are too many distractions from TV on Sunday night!

So, here's what we had on Sunday night: Cornmeal Crusted Tilapia Salad.

Cornmeal Crusted Tilapia Salad
Adapted from CL Jan 07

4 (6-inch) corn tortillas, cut into 1/4-inch strips
Cooking spray
1 teaspoon chili powder, divided
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (about 1 ounce)
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon onion flakes, crushed
4 (6-ounce) tilapia fillets
7 teaspoons canola oil, divided
6 cups chopped romaine lettuce
1 1/2 cups chopped red bell pepper (about 1 large)
1 cup halved grape tomatoes
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup preshredded reduced-fat 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese

Preheat oven to 425º.
Place tortilla strips on a baking sheet lined with foil; lightly coat tortilla strips with cooking spray. Sprinkle strips with 1/2 teaspoon chili powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bake at 425º for 10 minutes or until crisp, and set aside.

Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, cornmeal, onion flakes, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon chili powder in a shallow dish. Sprinkle fish with 1/4 teaspoon salt; dredge in cornmeal mixture.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add fish; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned and fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness.

Combine romaine and next 4 ingredients (through cilantro) in a large bowl. Combine juice, mustard, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Gradually add remaining 4 teaspoons oil, stirring constantly with a whisk. Drizzle juice mixture over lettuce mixture; toss gently to coat. Place 1 1/2 cups salad mixture on each of 4 plates; sprinkle each serving with 1 tablespoon cheese. Place 1 fish fillet on each salad; top with 5 tortilla strips.

Yield: 4 servings


Some cookies for the sweet tooth

Last Friday I baked a batch of chocolate cranberry oatmeal cookies with some new twists for a special guest. Unfortunately, the inner shopaholic had gotten the better of him, and he ended up lugging more than what he was allowed on a long haul flight, and decided to leave the full batch of cookies behind....

I remember the last time I baked these cookies, I made them huge, using the 1/4 cup as a guide. This time however, I wanted to make them small. So small that they can be squeezed into the festive containers, and passed around during Chinese New Year (I opted to use the teaspoon as a guide in the end).Yes, I have developed a serious craving for new year goodies after our friend passed us some that she brought back from Singapore. I would have been making pineapple tarts or peanut cookies, if I had the necessary ingredients. But I digress. I was thinking of making these small cookies as goodies for new year. So this batch was actually an experiment. To give it a festive flair, I added the colourful kisses on the little mossels. For some, I added the Andes peppermint pieces on top; which you can't see from the photos above, unfortunately.

Both types with the new size turned out well. I have even took the liberty to reduce the amount of sugar and added in some milk chocolate chunks. With so many modifications, maybe I can claim it as my own recipe. Maybe not. I shall wait until others have tried, and give their approval. Then I will casually add that it's my own recipe. If not, I will say it's OCT who made them. Sounds like a plan!

Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal 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
1/2 cup chopped 72% chocolate

1/4 cup chopped milk chocolate
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened but still cool
1 cup plus 2 tbsp packed brown sugar, preferably dark
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Andes Creme De Menthes Baking Chips
Hershey Kisses

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. Use teaspoon as a guide to scope out dough and place them on2 baking sheets, spacing them 1.5 inches apart.Press one kisses onto each cookie dough, or a few pieces of Creme De Menthes. Bake for 6 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), 5 to 8 more minutes longer. Do not overbake. (the baking time is just a guideline, check your cookies often for your desired doneness.)

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.


More Thai Cuisine: Thai Seafood Noodle

I think I am hooked on Thai food. Fish sauce, to be more specific. Yes, I know it's weird, but I am afraid I have fallen in love with fish sauce. The complex taste that I savoured in so many Thai dishes, but could'nt pinpoint what was THAT ingredient that contributed to the exciting taste. Now I know. It's fish sauce.

Thais are clever, because they use fish sauce in place of salt. With fish sauce, they can achieve more sophisticated flavours with fewer ingredients.

This recipe that I have choosen for our weeknight meal is an " all-in-one-wok winner".Although OCT may not be the most picky eater, he insists on having a balance meal everyday. With balance, I mean the inclusive of carbohydrate ( any type of grains, preferably rice), protein (in the form of meat, definitely not TOFU, we consider tofu a vegetable dish. weird, i know) and fibre (which is vegetable). The Thai Seafood Noodle I have selected, consists of all of the above. And it tastes great.

(Recipe will be uploaded soon)

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