Friday, April 27, 2012

Stuffed Red Chili Peppers With Bacon

This is not for the faint-hearted.

Or rather, this is not for those who cannot take spicy food because this is, well, pretty spicy! Stuffed with two types of cheese and wrapped with salty bacon, the chili halves act as a mini boat to catch all those delicious drippings from the bacon. Can I say YUM? 

Just a little warning though, a possible side effect might be hallucination of your tongue being set on fire. But what's the fun without a little kick, yes? Just make sure to have a glass of water on stand-by! ;)

This is a really easy and quick recipe with minimal ingredients needed!

Stuffed Red Chili Peppers With Bacon

6 red chiles
4 strips of bacon, cut into three parts
a handful of cheddar cheese
a handful of mozzarella cheese
toothpicks to skewer the chiles

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Cut the chiles in half and remove the seeds.

Then, stuff the chiles with equal parts of cheddar an mozzarella cheese. Wrap a bacon around it and fasten it with a toothpick.

Place the stuffed chiles on a rack with a tray underneath it and back it for 20 minutes. If the bacon is still not brown and crisp to your liking, you can set it under a broiler for a minute or less. Make sure to watch over the chiles in case they burn under the broiler.

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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Black Bean Soup With Pork Ribs

I've been boiling pots of Chinese soups for the last few days due to a couple of reasons: The bout of rain and chill that had overtaken LA in the past week, and a bad case of cold and throat infection that I have, unfortunately, just passed on to my husband!

So on to soups we go! A soup is not only packed with nutrients, it is easy to make, easy to chew on and warms up the body in a flash. When I am nursing a cold, all I want is a nice bowl of broth and a blanket to bury myself under!

love how the bones are totally blackened by the beans!
My mom used to make this soup for me when I was young, but she would use pig's tail instead of pork ribs. I wasn't able to get my hands on any pig's tail, so I used pork ribs instead. I'd like to think of that as a healthier alternative too! LOL To be honest, I am not a fan of beans, and black beans are one of the few that I actually enjoy eating!

Just a note, I didn't need to add any salt to the soup because the flavor of the pork, beans, dried scallops and red dates are so intense that there isn't any need to. But feel free to add them if you wish to!

Black Bean Soup With Pork Ribs

200g of pork ribs 
1 cup of black beans, soaked for at least an hour and rinsed.
7 red dates/jujube dates
4 small dried scallops
2.5 liters of water

Boil pork ribs vigorously in a pot of  water over high heat for 10 minutes. This is to remove scum and unpleasant smell from the pork. Pour the dirty water away and rinse the pork ribs.

In the same pot, combine the pork ribs, black beans, red dates and dried scallops in 2.5 liters of water. Bring it to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium and cook for 2 hours. Add a cup of water gradually if the soup dries up too fast.

Taste and correct for salt. If the soup is too thick, dilute it with a bit of water. If it is too diluted for your liking, boil it further to thicken it. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Kettle Corn

A movie's best friend.
I love my popcorn. One of the best snacks to go along with a movie is popcorn, for sure. The other is nachos with oozy cheese - but that is another story altogether.

So yes, I love popcorn. One of my weaknesses that my husband frowns upon is my love for snacks. I love snacking on chips, chocs, popcorn, etc. But for some reason, snacking on popcorn always feels healthier to me compared to, say, a bag of highly salted potato chips. Having said that, in the past, I used to make my popcorn at home using pre-made microwavable popcorn. However, what I noticed was that I always had a this weird, powdery sensation on my tongue after going through just half a bag of them. It made me feel like I was eating something artificial. With that, I decided to try making my own popcorn at home. To my amazement, I realised that making my own popcorn is SO EASY!! Since then, I have been making bags of it for myself as well as friends and bags of popcorn would disappear in a flash. They are THAT good. I don't think I can go back to those pre-packaged ones anymore!

Kettle Corn

1/2 cup of corn kernels (I use Trader Joe's organic corn kernels)
1/4 cup of vegetable oil
1/4 cup of sugar, or to taste
Salt, to taste

*a tip about storing the dried kernels: make sure that they are in an air-tight container or bag as being exposed to air means losing moisture, which would result in the kernels not being able to pop when heated.

Pour the vegetable oil into a large pot over medium-high heat. Place 3 corn kernels inside and cover. When the 3 kernels have popped, the oil is ready. Remove the popped corn.

Pour the rest of the corn kernels into the pot and sprinkle the sugar over them evenly. Do a quick stir-through and cover the pot. Wait for 3 seconds and then shake the pot for 3 seconds. Shake it well to prevent the sugar from burning at the bottom. Repeat the sequence until most of the kernels have popped and you hear pops spread over a few seconds. Do not wait for the popping sounds to stop completely as that would mean some of the popcorn at the bottom might be burnt. Take the pot off the stove and continue to shake the pot until you can no longer hear any more popping sounds.

Remove popcorn from the pot and into a bowl, sprinkle some salt over it, mix and enjoy!

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Mrs Fields Super Fudge Brownies

Call it a divine moment.

A few weeks ago, I was craving for Mrs Fields brownies. When I was a teenager, I used to buy her cookies and brownies all the time. I would trot to the nearest Mrs Fields store after school to satisfy my sweet craving. Lately, I haven't seen any Mrs Fields stores around my area and thought perhaps, I would just have to wait till I return back to Singapore to have my brownie.

Shortly after that, my library had a book sale and lo and behold, they were selling her cookie book!! It features 100 recipes from her kitchen, including the double fudge brownies! Needless to say, I bought the book in a heartbeat!

I was happy to find out that her recipes are not very complicated. In fact, this super fudge brownie (above) is really easy. My only issue was that I used a smaller pan than what was stated, so my baking time took much longer than the original slated time. However, the result was SUPERB. It was not overly sweet, it was chewy, it was fudge-y, it was everything I wanted! =D

Super Fudge Brownies (from Mrs Fields Cookie Book)

6 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate (I used Ghiradelli's)
1 cup salted butter, softened (I used unsalted butter)
4 large eggs
2 cups white sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup (6oz.) semisweet chocolate chips

Yields: 16 brownies, 2 inches square

Preheat oven to 300F. Grease an 8-by-8-inch baking pan.

Combine unsweetened baking chocolate and butter in a medium saucepan. Melt over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until pieces are almost melted. Remove from heat and stir until smooth.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat eggs until light yellow in color - about 5 minutes. Add sugar and blend on low until thoroughly combined.

Add vanilla and melted chocolate to the egg and sugar mixture. Blend on low speed until smooth. Add the flour and mix thoroughly.

Pour batter into greased pan. Smooth surface with a spatula, and sprinkle uniformly with chocolate chips. Bake on the center rack of oven for 45-55 minutes. The batter should be set and a toothpick inserted in center should come out clean. Do not overbake.

Cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Cut and serve chilled.

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Sunday, March 18, 2012


Beautiful array of colors. Nice to look at and good to eat!
Oh man, I can't believe how long it has been since my last blog entry! March has been one crazy month for me so sorry for the lag!

Even though I didn't update this blog, I have still been cooking and experimenting with different dishes so I do hope I will be able to share as much as possible with you guys! =) Recently, I've got my hands on Morimoto's (well known as the iron chef!) cookbook and have been really excited to try his recipes. In fact, right now, I am braising a large hunk of pork belly in the oven that is supposed to be a favorite in his restaurant. It is pretty time-consuming, taking about 2 days to complete the whole process so I hope it turns out well!

Today, I am going to share with you one of my favorite korean dishes of all time - Bibimbap! As you can see in the picture, I don't own a dolsot (stone-pot) so I just made a simple Bibimbap on a plate. Of course, if you have a stone-pot, feel free to use it. I love it when the stone-pot heats the rice at the base and you get those nice, crispy bits of rice at the end!

Before I list down the recipe, I must disclaim that this is a very simplified version of Bibimbap and I just did the dish according to my own taste. I wanted a very quick meal and used whatever I had in my pantry so this is not your traditional Bibimbap. But it still tasted really good! =D

(serves 3)

1 cup of corn kernels (I used fresh corn, shaved from a cob)
1 cup of carrot, coarsely shredded
1 cup of cucumber, coarsely shredded
1/2 cup of minced meat (I used turkey)
6 to 8 large handfuls of fresh spinach (they will be cooked down by a lot)
3 eggs
1/2 tablespoon of korean bulgogi sauce
3 tablespoons of shredded nori (seaweed) 
3 portions of cooked short-grain rice
toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Bibimbap Sauce
3 tablespoon of gochujang (korean chilli paste)
1 1/2 tablespoon of sesame oil, or to taste

In a bowl, mix the korean bulgogi sauce with the minced meat and set aside.

Stir-fry the corn, carrot, cucumber individually (in 3 separate batches) with a little oil over medium heat for about 4 to 5 minutes, or until cooked through. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, wash the spinach, put it in a pot and cook over medium-high heat. Let it steam until softened, about 4 to 5 minutes. Stir occasionally to make sure the leaves are cooked evenly. Drain well and set aside.

Fry the three eggs sunny side up and set aside.

To make the sauce, mix the gochujang and sesame oil in a bowl. Adjust according to taste (ie: less sesame oil or more chilli paste).

On a plate, arrange the vegetables around the rice. Place the shredded nori in the centre. Top it off with an egg and garnish with the toasted sesame seeds.

To eat, mix one tablespoon of Bibimbap sauce with the plated rice and vegetables, making sure they are evenly coated. Break the yolk and mix it into the rice too. Enjoy! Best Blogger Tips

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tofu with Hot Spring Egg (Onsen Tamago)

I have been head-over-heels with Japanese cooking recently. Japanese food is my all-time favorite cuisine but I never really ventured anything beyond making sushi, maki and teriyaki haha. However, a few months back, I came across Harumi Kurihara's cookbooks and it completely blew my mind away. Her recipes are a mix of traditional and contemporary Japanese food and not only did they not require a lot of different ingredients (more like a play on a few ingredients in different ways), the steps to create the dish is not too complicated.

Hence, I've been experimenting with her cookbook (bless my library that has her book) and am totally sold on the recipes! I've tried her gyudon (beef rice bowl), grilled mackerel with special sauce, hijiki salad, just to name a few. They are simply delicious! I am so going to get one of her cookbooks soon for my keeping! :)

I just love how Japanese food is so delicate, and can be made into really beautiful looking dishes. The above dish is one fine example of it, and the latest recipe I tried from her book. I hope you enjoy making it as much as I did! :)

Tofu with Hot Spring Egg (from Harumi's Japanese Cooking)

2 (12.3-oz) boxes soft silken tofu
4 hot spring eggs
1 teaspoon of dried fish flakes
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon sake
chopped green onions or chives to taste
grated fresh ginger to taste

To make hot spring egg (onsen tamago)
Put the eggs into a wideneck flask (or any other container that will hold heat) - make sure the eggs are at room temperature, not chilled.
Add boiling water to cover them and leave for 10 minutes. They yolk should still be runny with the white just cooked.

Drain tofu and wrap in paper towels to remove excess water.

Make the dressing by combining the dried fish flakes, soy sauce, mirin and sake in a microwave-safe bowl and cooking it in the microwave on medium for 2 minutes. Leave to cool and then strain. If you cannot obtain the fish flakes then use a little concentrated fish stock to give a slight fish flavor to the dressing.

*Note: I didn't have fish flakes on hand so I used a few (about 5) granules of dashi as a substitute. Also, I microwaves the sauce a wee bit longer cos I prefer a slightly thicker consistency.

Cut the tofu into 4 pieces and place one piece in each bowl. Scoop out a hollow in each one like this (I used a large block of tofu instead of cutting it up)

I love how cute it looks with that hole heh.
 Put a hot spring egg into each hollow:

Think I dug the hole a little too deep haha
Arrange the scooped tofu around the edge. Scatter some green onions on top and dab on a little grated ginger.

Pour the dressing over the tofu and serve.

And there you have it! Yummy yummy yum!

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Balsamic Glaze

Nicely roasted.
Last month, while on vacation, I chanced upon The Pioneer Woman on television. If you don't know who she is, she is great blogger (and a very funny one) who writes extensively on food, recipes as well as snippets of her family and life on the ranch. I love her blog and her style of writing! :) 

As I was saying, she was preparing a holiday feast for her family and one of the dishes she made was roasted brussels sprouts with balsamic glaze. She made it look so easy and delicious that before long, I bought myself a bag of brussels sprouts just to try it.  

Roasted brussels sprouts by itself is already a lovely dish, with the vegetable caramelizing at the edges as it roasts. So, if you are looking for a shortcut, you can omit the glaze and the dried cranberries. But paired with the balsamic glaze, it does give it an extra oomph, making it a very suitable appetizer, with the right amount of acidity to further whet your appetite for the next course! :)

For this recipe, I used dried cherries because I don't have dried cranberries which was what the original recipe calls for. The cherries I had were quite tart so I would pair it with cranberries the next time instead because I believe that will lend itself a slightly sweeter flavor.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Balsamic Glaze (from The Pioneer Woman)

3 pounds Brussels Sprouts
1/2 cup Olive Oil 
Salt And Pepper
1 cup Balsamic Vinegar 
1/2 cup Sugar 
1 cup Dried Cranberries

Trim/clean Brussels sprouts, then cut them in half if desired (or you can leave them whole). Arrange on two baking sheets and toss with olive oil. Sprinkle with plenty of salt and pepper and roast at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, or until brown.

Combine balsamic vinegar and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and reduce until very thick, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Drizzle the balsamic reduction over the roasted sprouts, then sprinkle on dried cranberries. Toss and serve immediately.
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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Compound Butter

I've always been very fascinated with compound butter. I love it when I eat out and my slab of steak came with a knob of compound butter on it because it is really a flavor enhancer for the steak (or chicken, fish, etc for that matter) and the flavor varies from restaurant to restaurant, dish to dish.

So, that day I bought some steak and thought, why not make my own compound butter from scratch? After reading several articles and recipes online for compound butter, I decided to use my favorite herbs and make a simple one. Nothing too fancy, since it was my first time making it.

Using a knife, mash the softened butter with the other ingredients.
I used 1/4 cup of unsalted butter softened at room temperature. Do not soften it in the microwave, cos the butter will break down into an oily mess - which is not what you want.

My added ingredients are: 1 large clove of garlic (minced), 1 teaspoon of fresh parsley (minced), 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice and a tiny pinch of salt. I love garlic, so I added a wee bit more. The good thing about making your own compound butter (as with all other recipes) is that you can adjust according to your taste so please taste a pinch before wrapping it up! Add more or less herbs, juice, etc to taste!

Roll them up with some cling wrap.

Twist the ends of the cling wrap as you would with a sweet, making sure it is compact all the way through. Try to not have holes and gaps in between.

There you have it. Store it in the fridge for a couple of hours for it to hold its shape.

Cut a knob out and put it on a good piece of sirloin like what I did!
The result was absolutely delicious and I can't believe how EASY it was. I can't wait to try other combinations next time! Other common elements that can be added are shallots, dill, thyme and even red wine - in varying combinations of course, not all at once!

I also baked some potatoes a couple of days later and stuck a knob of butter into the piping hot potato and it was delish! Don't bake the butter with the potato... just stick it in when the potato is cooked and out of the oven. Such an easy way to kick a dish up a notch!

So there you have it - easy, creamy, beautiful - compound butter!

Edit: As to how long this compound butter can last, I try to use it within a week since it has fresh herbs inside (some websites says more, some says less). If you want to prolong its shelf life, you can also put it in the freezer - but even then, I'd say no more than 2 weeks. But that's just me. Hehe. Since this recipe is so easy, I'd just make it in smaller quantities, hence the 1/4 cup butter measurement.

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Friday, February 3, 2012

Key Lime Cupcakes

I've been in the mood for all things citrus-y and sour lately. Must be passed on from my hubby's current obsession with clementines! We've been eating them by the handfuls!

And so, I was thinking of making cupcakes that day when I chanced upon this key lime recipe from Bon Appetit. It looked pretty simple, and all I needed was to get myself some key limes - which i love! :D Whenever I have hokkien mee I must spray it with a good dose of lime juice before tucking in. Same with mee siam. But of course I don't use key limes for them. The ones I use in Singapore have yellow centers, as opposed to the ones shown below.

Each lime packs quite a punch!
By the way, this cupcake recipe calls for buttermilk, which I don't have. The good news is, buttermilk can be easily (oh so simply!) made at home using normal milk and white vinegar. All you have to do is put one tablespoon of vinegar in one cup of milk and let it sit for 10 minutes. You'll notice the change in texture and there you have it - buttermilk! Save yourself from running to the store and getting a huge packet - the bulk of it which won't be needed for this recipe!

Just a note, I didn't use the cream cheese frosting from Bon Appetit's recipe. Instead, I used normal butter cream frosting, and added the juice of one lime and some lime zest, to taste. Also, I followed the recipe pretty closely and felt that it was pretty sweet. I wished the cake was more sour so I topped mine off with a lime wedge for that added punch! :)

Key Lime Cupcakes (from Bon Appetit)

Ingredients for Cupcakes

1 cup all purpose flour 
3/4 cup self-rising flour 
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature 
1 1/4 cup sugar 
2 large eggs 
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice 
1 tablespoon finely grated lime peel 
1/4 teaspoon neon-green food coloring 
3/4 cup buttermilk

Ingredients for Cream Cheese Frosting  

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature 
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar 
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature 
1 tablespoon finely grated lime peel 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line standard muffin pan with 12 paper liners. Whisk both flours in medium bowl. Beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add sugar; beat to blend. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, then next 3 ingredients (batter may look curdled). Beat in flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with buttermilk in 2 additions. Spoon scant 1/3 cup batter into each liner.

Bake cupcakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool 10 minutes. Remove from pan; cool.

For the frosting, beat all the ingredients in medium bowl until smooth. Spread over cupcakes.

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Chicken Class

I had my second class at Fiore Market Cafe and this time round, we learnt how to make chicken stock! Wait, scratch that, we were supposed to learn how to make chicken stock, but Bill, the chef and owner of the cafe, had kindly taught us how to roast a chicken, braise beef shanks, make chicken, beef and vegetable stock AND two types of soup! Man, it was such an enriching class and I learnt so much, my pen was up in the air scribbling most of the time.

For those who are not familiar with Fiore Market Cafe, you can read the first class I had with them here, where I learnt how to make a few types of bread, as well as a short review on my favorite cafe in the world! :)

So yes, back to the class. I had a great time meeting new people, fellow foodies like myself who are interested in making wholesome food! I love how we get to witness the whole process, which allowed me to pick up small tips here and there on how to make broth, braise meet, etc. This was also the first time I interacted with Bill's wife, Anne, and she is just so friendly and humorous.

Below are some of the pictures I took at the class. Cooking classes are so fun... I can't wait to sign up for more! :D

Taking the meat off the bones of the beef shank.

The chef at work!

We learnt, we cooked and we ate heartily. What more can we ask for? :) I LOVE their roast chicken sandwich with pesto and cheese on focaccia bread (left).

Carrot soup, one of the two soups we made that day.
On another note, I went to the cafe yesterday and tried their roast chicken salad for the first time. I have been thinking about it ever since! It was just such a delicious plate of greens, topped with juicy roast chicken, maple-glazed bacon, blue cheese and oil-cured olives. I am a little apprehensive with blue cheese, cos some can be overpowering to me, but I loved the ones served on my plate. In fact, I ate my plate so clean, when Bill collected it, he said he has never seen a cleaner plate in his life. Haha!

Fiore Market Cafe
1000 Fremont Avenue
South Pasadena 91030
626 441 2280

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Bak Kwa

Chinese all across the globe are ushering the year of the dragon and celebrating the Chinese New Year now and one of the quintessential Chinese New Year (CNY) goodies is the bak kwa!

It is sort of like a jerky, but much less dry than your usual beef jerky. It is my all-time favorite CNY snack! A week prior to CNY, I was hunting all over Chinatown and the Chinese neighborhood around my area to try and get my hands on some, but to no avail. Seems like it is a Southeast Asian specialty, not so readily available here. I did managed to find a website that sells it, but it is rather costly. Hence, a quick google search led me to various websites that offers homemade bak kwa recipes!

It looked simple enough, and I had almost all the ingredients on hand, so I tried and it was SO GOOD!! I was so surprised! Especially how easy it was to make it! I am definitely going to make it again when the craving kicks in.. and it is MUCH cheaper than buying it from elsewhere.

The only ingredient I didn't have was 5-spice powder. So, I made my own from scratch. It is easy enough if you have all the spices, and then just pound them with a pestle and mortar into powder and mix them. I included the 5-spice powder recipe at the end.

I read from other food blogs that adding a little food coloring will give the bak kwa a lovely red hue, so I did that but it is up to you! I suppose without the addition, the final product will just look a little brownish.

Bak Kwa (adapted from The Lazy Stay-at-Home Mommy)

1 lb. Ground Pork
1.5 Tbsp Fish Sauce
1 Tbsp dark soy sauce
1 Tbsp light soy sauce
1 Tbsp cooking wine
1/2 cup sugar
a few good dashes of 5 spice powder (est. about 1/3tsp)
1/2 Tbsp cooking oil
4 drops of red food coloring (not found in the original recipe, I added this)

Honey mixture for glazing (I mix 3Tbsp of honey with 1Tbsp of water) - this will be more than enough. I only used about half of the mix.

1. Put all ingredients (except honey mixture) in a big bowl and start mixing them with a pair of chopsticks. Blend and stir the mixture in one direction until the meat becomes gluey.

2. Put some gluey meat on parchment paper and lay a big cling wrap on it. Using a rolling pin, roll the minced meat to about 3-5mm, your preference.  I wouldn't make it too thin cos I live a good bite to it.

3. Put the parchment paper with ground meat on a baking tray and bake at 200F for 20 minutes or until the meat is solid to touch. (Just lift up one corner, if it feels like a rubber mat, it is done.)

4. Remove the meat and cut into size or shape of your preference, then place them on a new piece of parchment paper/aluminum foil.

5. Brush the meat with some honey mixture before broiling/grilling at 450F. Make sure you keep a close watch on the bak kwa because they brown and burn easily.

6. Flip over when the meat turns golden brown, and repeat #5.

7. Once done, let it cool and enjoy!

To store, place them in an air-tight container, like a tupperware, and put them in the fridge. They can last for 3 days. To reheat them, just pop them in a toaster, or microwave them for 20 seconds!

5-spice Powder (from

1 tsp. ground Szechwan pepper
1 tsp. ground star anise
1-1/4 tsp. ground fennel seeds
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground white pepper

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pasta Puttanesca

I cannot think of a pasta sauce more appetizing than Puttanesca. To me, it is the combination of many ingredients that would trigger my saliva glands into overdrive. I'm talking about capers, olives, anchovies - elements that would make you keep wanting for more - which was what happened to me! What was supposed to be a portion for 3 to 6 was finished by my husband and me in one serving. I love it!

The idea to make this dish came about because I had capers, olives, anchovies and chilli flakes lying around in my pantry one day. I remembered coming across this dish several times and wanted to try it, but somehow, I never had the chance to. Knowing that I had everything I needed in my kitchen to make it, I went online to scout for recipes. My search led me to The New York Times food section, a place where I'd visit every now and then to get inspiration for my food. I find it really reliable because I have not yet tried any of their dishes that turned out bad. Moreover, this recipe from them looked easy enough. So, I printed a copy out, tacked it to my refrigerator and cooked. Boy did it turn out way delicious!

Pasta Puttanesca (from The New York Times)
Yields 3 to 6 servings

Start the sauce while the pasta water is coming to a boil; finish it while the pasta is cooking. Add a salad and a loaf of bread and you're out the door to your evening's activity, whatever it might be.


Salt to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 or more cloves garlic, lightly smashed and peeled
3 or more anchovy fillets
1 28-ounce can whole plum tomatoes
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup pitted black olives, preferably oil-cured
2 tablespoons capers
Crushed red pepper flakes to taste
1 pound linguine or other long pasta
Chopped fresh parsley, oregano, marjoram or basil leaves for garnish, optional

Bring pot of water to boil and salt it. Warm 2 tablespoons oil with garlic and anchovies in skillet over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is lightly golden.

Drain tomatoes and crush with fork or hands. Add to skillet, with some salt and pepper. Raise heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes break down and mixture becomes saucy, about 10 minutes. Stir in olives, capers and red pepper flakes, and continue to simmer.

Cook pasta, stirring occasionally, until it is tender but not mushy. Drain quickly and toss with sauce and remaining tablespoon of oil. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary, garnish with herbs if you like, and serve.
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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Fiore Market Cafe

I have found my favorite cafe in South Pasadena.

Yes, I have.

I have visited it a number of times to confirm my decision, and yes, it is my favorite. Top of the list!

In fact, I love their food so much that I took one of their classes last Sunday and learnt how to make bread. Good old rustic loaf of bread. That's not all. I also got to learn how to make focaccia bread (loves!) and baguette!

Although I've baked bread (with reasonable success) before at home, I could never attain that kind of soft, fluffy, yet chewy texture Fiore Market offers in their sandwiches. I've tried three different recipes with varying success. So, when I saw that Fiore Market had bread making classes, I took a shot at it!

And boy was it fun! I got to meet some really great people at the class, ate some delicious granola, sandwiches, etc and brought home both the recipe (with notes and tips) plus a loaf of bread. The recipe is easy and Bill gives us really clear instructions on what to do, and answers all our questions patiently. Also, one of the things I really like about the class is that you just pay per lesson, so I can choose whichever lesson I want to take (bread, chicken, pizza and the like) without having to commit to a series, so it's really flexible! In fact, I just signed myself up for their lesson on cooking chicken and I can't wait! :D

So here are some snapshots of that day. Unfortunately, I didn't take many photos cos most of the time my hands were either making the dough or digging into the delicious refreshments but I managed to capture a few shots of Bill, the owner, teaching us the steps to attaining that yummy loaf.

Bill removing the foccacia bread from the pan.
The loaves of bread that we would bring home. What is missing is the focaccia, which we gobbled up with some grilled vegetables and cheese. Mmm...!
We were coming to the end of the class and were preparing to take our individual loaves of bread home.
There you have it! Sitting so pretty and nice in my kitchen. It even has a pretty card on it!
So yes, I love the cafe. There is just something really unpretentious and genuine about it. The owners, Bill and his wife Anna, are really friendly. Very often, Bill would step out of the kitchen to say hi to his customers. This gesture may seem small, but it goes a long way to make a customer feel welcomed! :) The cafe is tucked in a corner, with a very cosy interior and a refreshing alfresco dining area where most of the customers would be. The cafe is also surrounded with different types of vegetables in their garden, like arugula, cabbage, etc. Just another thing to amp up the cosy factor! ;)

One of my favorite items in their menu is the tempeh bacon sandwich (it's vegetarian and I never knew tempeh could taste this delicious!), and the other is their cream of chicken soup. They have the Soup of the Day, which changes regularly, so I've only managed to drink that once. But that one time was good enough for me to look forward to having it again each time I pop by. My friend who was with me when we had that said it was the best chicken soup he's ever tasted haha! Their vegetarian salad is also another winner - I love the dressing, and the sugared walnuts makes the salad really special.

Yup, so that ends my rather lengthy post. I do have more things I'd like to add, but I shall stop being so long-winded. Just go experience the delicious food for yourself! :)

Fiore Market Cafe
1000 Fremont Avenue
South Pasadena 91030
626 441 2280 Best Blogger Tips

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter

Today is the National Spaghetti day and I am going to post a spag recipe before the clock strikes 12! :)

If I have to name my hubby's favorite spag sauce, this is it. I really like it too, but probably not as much as him, who lives by the principle of less is more for his food. So, to him, this recipe is so good because the few ingredients required (literally can count them with one hand) gives a very clean taste, yet it is not boring nor tasteless. Rather, it is quite the opposite and is very tasty.

So without further ado, here's the recipe for you to enjoy! :)

Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter
(serves 6)

2 cups of canned tomatoes, preferably San Marzano whole tomatoes, cut up with their juice
5 tablespoons of butter
1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half

Put the canned tomatoes in a skillet, add the butter, onion and a good pinch of salt. Cook it uncovered at a very slow but steady simmer for 45 minutes, or until the fat floats free from the tomato. Stir from time to time, mashing any large pieces of tomato in the pain with the back of a wooden spoon. Taste and correct for salt. Discard the onion before tossing the sauce with cooked pasta. Sprinkle generously with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and enjoy! 

Adapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazaan. Best Blogger Tips

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Blessed 2012!

Woohoo! Blessed 2012, everyone!! :)

New year, new beginning, new grace! Cheers!

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