Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Turkey and Artichoke Stuffed Shells with Arabbiata Sauce

With the temperature dropping in the past few days, the mood at our house has gone from "grilling" to "baking". Since we love pasta, we thought that we should try this new variation of the regular ol' stuffed shells from Giada DeLaurentiis: it uses ground turkey and artichoke instead of just regular cheese stuffing! And spicy sauce? Yum, I was sold! It sounded like a winner, and it was a winner! We loved the heartiness of the dish, and the artichoke stuffing added a nice combination to it.


  • 1 (12-ounce) box jumbo pasta shells (recommended: Barilla)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus 1/2 teaspoon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus 1/4 teaspoon
  • 1 (8 to 10-ounce) package frozen artichokes, thawed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


5 cups Arrabbiata Sauce, recipe follows

  • 1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella (about 5 ounces)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and partially cook until tender but still very firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain pasta.

Meanwhile, in a large heavy skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and the garlic and cook until the onions are soft and starting to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the ground turkey, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is slightly golden and cooked through. Add the artichoke hearts and stir to combine. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a large bowl combine the cooled turkey mixture with the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, eggs, basil, parsley, and the remaining salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

To stuff the shells, cover the bottom of a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking dish with 1 cup of Arrabbiata sauce. Take a shell in the palm of your hand and stuff it with a large spoonful of turkey mixture, about 2 tablespoons. Place the stuffed shell in the baking dish. Continue filling the shells until the baking dish is full, about 24 shells. Drizzle the remaining Arrabbiata Sauce over the shells, top with the grated mozzarella. If freezing, cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 1 day and up to 1 month.

To bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake until the shells are warmed through and the cheese is beginning to brown, about 60 minutes (20 minutes if shells are unfrozen.)

Arrabbiata Sauce:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 ounces sliced pancetta, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced
5 cups jarred or fresh marinara sauce

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the pancetta and saute until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until tender, about 1 minute. Add the marinara sauce and red pepper flakes and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and let cool until ready to use.

Yield: approximately 6 cups

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Chocolate Butterscotch-Chip Cookies

Regardless of how consistently gorgeous the weather was all throughout last week, we started getting warning for "storm & hail" on Friday night. We ended up getting a cloudy Saturday and I even had to put on my little spring coat when we went for our grocery run. In the up side, however, we thought that this was a perfect baking weather.

Red has been asking for some kind of cookies, plus we're heading to a friend's house for dinner. So we decided that we would try making these chocolate butterscotch chip cookies that I saw from an old Martha Stewart magazine.

We really enjoyed this recipe, but they turned out a little bit thinner than what I would normally like my chocolate chip cookies be. And the amount of butter can also be cut down. But the cookies in overall have great flavor from the combination of chocolate chip and butterscotch chips.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Add eggs and vanilla; beat until well combined. Add the flour mixture all at once, and beat until just combined. Stir in chips.
  3. Drop tablespoons of batter onto prepared baking sheets, two inches apart. Bake until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool on baking sheet, one minute, then transfer cookies to rack to cool slightly. Repeat until all batter has been used.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Outback's Alice Spring Chicken

I have been wanting to try this recipe for a while. While I absolutely love Outback Steakhouse's ribs, somehow, this is the dish that I end up ordering every time I go out to Outback! It has all of my favorite ingredients: chicken breast, mushrooms, BACON (oh my goodness!! Have you noticed how many recipes I have had that has bacon in it?), and tons of cheese (my other weakness!).

Red licked his fingers & plate, clean and shiny, as he wolfed his dinner down. So I think this was a keeper, meaning that yes, we'll try this again in the future... maybe with a couple of modifications below.

I sauteed the mushrooms with sliced onions, because I thought it would make them softer, and sweeter... and I was right! Horaay! I also didn't have enough shredded Mexican cheese (gulp!), so more cheese would have been better next time (my waist wouldn't think so, but my taste buds usually win). And because I used really thick chicken breasts, I ended up leaving them in the oven additional 10-15 mins to ensure they are cooked thoroughly. Next time, I'd probably butterfly the thick slices for faster cooking. Enjoy!!

Source: www.recipezaar.com

  • 1 cup Dijon Mustard
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 4-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 12 slices bacon, cooked
  • 3 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
  1. With an electric mixer combine the mustard, honey, and 1 Tbsp oil, and lemon juice for 1 minute.
  2. Pour 1/2 mixture over chicken in a gallon ziplock to marinate in fridge 2-24 hours.
  3. Chill remaining marinade to serve with chicken.
  4. After marinating chicken, preheat oven to 375°F Put remaining oil in frying pan. Heat and sear chicken on both sides.
  5. Transfer chicken to oven safe pan and brush with marinade.
  6. Meanwhile in frying pan add butter and saute mushrooms.
  7. Season chicken breasts with salt and peppers.
  8. Stack bacon across each breast, spoon mushrooms on each breast and then approx 1/3- 1/2 cup cheese on each.
  9. Cover pan with foil and bake 7-10 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with honey mustard marinade.
Yield: 4-6 servings

Barefoot Blogger: Croque Monsieur

This was my first recipe with the Barefoot Blogger group. For those of you who love Ina Garten as much as I do, please consider joining this awesome group. Click on the link on the right side of my web page to check out the details.

We made this the other night and invited a friend and her adorable young son over for dinner. She said that her husband was traveling to Germany for work. So I said, "We're happened to be making Croque Monsieur for dinner tonight, wanna come over?" She said, in caps lock (because I was on IM with her)," YES. I LOVE CROQUE MONSIEUR. What time?"

We only used half of the recipe, but it was perfect for 4 people (we had a side dish and dessert as well though). The sauce took longer than I had anticipated to thicken, but it turned out great after I added more flour. My friend, by the way, is a French-American woman who have made this hundred times, and she thought that the recipe was “excellent”. Used the thick-sliced honey ham, and the white Pepperidge farm as Ina recommended.



2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups hot milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch nutmeg
12 ounces Gruyere, grated (5 cups)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
16 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
Dijon mustard
8 ounces baked Virginia ham, sliced but not paper thin


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan and add the flour all at once, stirring with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Slowly pour the hot milk into the butter–flour mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened. Off the heat add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup grated Gruyere, and the Parmesan and set aside.
To toast the bread, place the slices on 2 baking sheets and bake for 5 minutes. Turn each slice and bake for another 2 minutes, until toasted.
Lightly brush half the toasted breads with mustard, add a slice of ham to each, and sprinkle with half the remaining Gruyere. Top with another piece of toasted bread. Slather the tops with the cheese sauce, sprinkle with the remaining Gruyere, and bake the sandwiches for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned. Serve hot.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Banana Cream Pie

I have been wanting to make a banana cream pie forever. All of the recipes that I have seen used 6+ eggs, some even call for 8-10 eggs! I wanted a simple recipe that produces delicious result, so I thought this Paula Deen's recipe was a good one to use a starting point.

So what was the verdict? This pie has a wonderful flavor, but I thought that the filling could be a little less runny. "But it's not supposed to be firm," Red pointed out. I was wondering if he was right... Here are a few more observations.

We ended up using a 1% milk instead of whole-milk like she called for (and this could have been the reason the pie was runnier than I had expected). I also used 3 large bananas so I could make 2 layers of fruit. My bananas also were very ripe, so next time, I would probably take 2 T of sugar out of the measurement because I want my desserts to be a little less sweet than standard dessert.

Adapted from: The Lady and Sons, Savannah Country Cookbook by Paula Deen
Serves 6-8 pieces

1/3 cup plus 1/4 sugar, separated
3 T cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups milk
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 T butter
2 tsp vanilla
2 egg whites
2 bananas, sliced (or more)
One 9-inch pre-baked pie shell

In a saucepan over a medium heat, combine 1/3 cup of sugar with the corn-starch and salt. Blend in the milk, then egg yolks. Cook and stir until mixture thickens. Remove from heat, stir in butter and vanilla. Cool to room temperature.

Beat egg whites until soft peaks form, gradually add 1/4 cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Fold in egg yolk mixture. In pie shell, alternate layers of banana slices and cream filling. Cover and chill. Top with whipped cream and additional sliced bananas, if desired.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Ricotta Pancakes with Banana Pecan Syrup

I stumbled upon this while searching for a recipe to use up my big bucket of ricotta cheese. While I absolutely love Ina Garten's Banana Sour Cream Pancake, I was still very intrigued by this recipe and didn't mind another pancake recipe in my repertoire.

This recipe uses very simple ingredients that you can find in any pantry and ricotta (I guess you can argue this as a pantry staple in an Italian home). At the same time, it skips the vanilla extract or lemon zest that are the standard in most homemade pancakes. And... the verdict?

Wow, I was absolutely blown away! This is probably even lighter & fluffier than Ina's recipe, and the syrup was just absolutely divine. It makes the regular maple syrup even appropriate for a company. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did.

Adapted from Food Network

For the Banana-Pecan syrup:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 small bananas, thinly sliced (3/4 cup)
1 cup cane or maple syrup

For the Ricotta pancakes
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, separated
2 cups milk
4 ounces ricotta, well drained (1/2 cup)
Butter or vegetable oil


For the Banana-Pecan Syrup:
Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the nuts and saute for about 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add the bananas and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Add the syrup and cook for about 1 to 2 minutes, or until the syrup is hot and slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and set aside in a warm place.

For the Ricotta Pancakes:
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt together onto waxed paper or a plate. Beat the egg whites in a medium bowl with an electric mixer or whisk until stiff but not dry. Beat the egg yolks, milk, and ricotta together in a large bowl until well blended and smooth. Add the dry ingredients and mix gently with a large spoon. Stir a spoonful of the egg whites into the batter to lighten it, then fold in the remaining egg whites with a rubber spatula.
Warm a serving platter in a 200 degree F oven.

Heat a nonstick flat griddle or large nonstick skillet over medium high heat until hot. Grease with butter or vegetable oil. Pour 1/4 to 1/3 cup batter per pancake onto the pan and cook for about 2 minutes, or until bubbles form on the surface, then flip the pancakes over using a large wide spatula. Cook on the other side for 2 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer the pancakes to the warm platter.

Serve immediately or hold in the oven while you cook the rest of the pancakes. Serve the pancakes on heated plates topped with the syrup.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Bacon-wrapped Jalapeno

I first saw this recipe on Pioneer Woman's website and literally sprint to the grocery store as soon a I found out how easy this was to make! This has been a regular at our house when we can find fresh jalapeno at the grocery store!

Check out how easy this was to make:
Split the the jalapeno length-wise into two different pieces, seed both halves of the jalapeno (wear gloves!), and fill them with teaspoon of cream cheese. Next, wrap about 2-inch piece of bacon, secure them with tooth pick, and broil them for about 6-8 minutes until the bacon is slightly browned, and the cream cheese is bubbly!


Migas (Mexican-style Scrambled Eggs with Migas)

I first tried chorizo, the Mexican-version, when I visited my dearest, old college friend Jessica. At that time, Jess was living in Hoboken, NY. Jess and I love to eat, cook, and bake! During one of my visits to her, she told me one morning that she'd whip up a "migas", a Mexican-style eggs. I was in a foodie's heaven. I even volunteered to finish up the portion that our other friend, Candace, couldn't finish! I have been hooked on this ever since!

Fast-forward 5-6 years later, I found myself serving this style egg to Red, who literally licked the plate clean! We've been making this ever since (especially if we can find good choriz0).

I found that the key ingredients to making a very authentic & delicious migas is good chorizo (the homemade kind is the best!), fresh cilantro, and good white Mexican cheese which you can find at any Mexican grocery store!

Yield: 4-6 servings

Olive oil or cooking spray
1/2 lb of fresh chorizo
1/4 cup small diced onion
2 green onions, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small tomato, seeded, diced
1 serrano or jalapeno pepper, seeded, minced
8 large eggs or 4 regular eggs & use egg substitutes for remaining 4
2 stale corn tortillas broken into pieces (or equivalent in baked tortilla chips)
1-ounce Mexican white cheese, cubed
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Hot sauce, broken tortilla chips, salsa, sour cream (optional for serving)


In a heavy nonstick skillet, cook the chorizo with the olive oil or cooking spray over medium heat for about 5 min, until they are thoroughly browned. Then add the onion for 1 minute. Add the green onion, garlic, tomato and serrano pepper and cook until the tomato has rendered most of its moisture. Beat all of the eggs together and add to the sauteed onion mixture, stirring gently. When the eggs are half set, add the tortilla pieces and continue to cook until almost set. Fold in the cheese and cilantro and season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

It's official...!!!

Before I started a food blog, I had almost zero knowledge of how much fellowship there was out there for cooks, foodies, and all who had passion for anything food-related on the web. I began immersing myself in the vast of ideas, suggestions, creativity of women and men from all over the US, and the world, who shared the same passion as I do. And it's pretty cool!

Then, I stumbled upon this amazing group called Barefoot Bloggers who loved anything about Ina Garten! And I jumped at the opportunity to join in the group. Not only that this is very fitting me... they are still accepting new members!

This is a bi-weekly event, so every 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month, I will be making the chosen recipe for that week! So on Thursday the 23rd, I will be making the Croque Monsier from Barefoot in Paris book (like I need a new motivation to cook!!). Just wait until I tell Red what we will be making for dinner that night...!!

Now if I can figure out how to add the Barefoot Bloggers Logo on the side bar then I am all set. Happy Cooking!!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Ricotta Orange Pound Cake with Strawberries

I have been eyeing this recipe from Giada since I first saw her making it on Food Network. I have made a couple of Ina Garten's pound cake recipes, all of which are yummy. But I really wanted to test how ricotta can play into this recipe.

I did make three modifications to this recipe... not in purpose, really. But for convenience purpose. I didn't have cake flour on hand, so I decided to just use regular all-purpose flour. I measured 1.5 cups, and took out 2 TBSP out. I also substituted Amaretto for Grand Marnier, which I thought worked out well considering this recipe uses grated orange zest. And it did. Finally, I didn't have the exact pan that she used, so I used my bundt cake pan.
Overall, we really enjoyed this cake. Go ahead and try it, and let me know!!

1 1/2 cups cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, room temperature, plus more to grease the baking pan
1 1/2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 orange, zested
2 tablespoons Amaretto
Powdered sugar, for dusting
1 pint strawberries, hulled and quartered or 3 oranges, cut into supremes

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 5 by 3-inch loaf pan with butter. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir to combine.

Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter, ricotta, and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. With the machine running, add the eggs 1 at a time. Add the vanilla, orange zest, and Amaretto until combined.

Add the dry ingredients, a small amount at a time, until just incorporated. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick comes out clean and the cake is beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 45 to 50 minutes.

Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Using a mesh sieve, dust the cooled cake with powdered sugar.

Meanwhile, place the strawberries (or orange supremes) in a small bowl with the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Let sit until the juices have pooled around the strawberries.

To serve, slice the cake and serve with a spoonful of strawberries and their juices over the top of the cake.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Flamiche Aux Poireaux (Leek Tart)

As many of you probably saw from my post last week, I have been reading Patricia Wells' Bistro Cooking. Her cookbook is full with so many bistro dishes that are simple, yet delicious!

As fancy as the title sounds, this dish is truly what we already know and love: quiche lorraine. With a little extra. And the little extra here comes from the use of chopped leeks & Gruyere Cheese instead of bacon and regular shredded mozzarella! Trust me, this is truly a simple dish that you can easily make for a brunch, lunch, or supper at home, or when hosting a company! We served this along with a mesclun mix drizzled with lemon vinaigrette, and a big hefty crusty loaf of French bread for lunch, when my old friend Lindsay came to visit us. Go ahead and try this, and let me know what you think! I think we just found another new favorite at the Red's.

1 pie crust
12 small leeks (~ 3 lbs)
4 tbsp (~ 2 oz) unsalted butter
1 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
1/4 cups of creme fraiche, or heavy cream
4 slices (~ 3 oz) ham, such as Parma ham, coarsely chopped
1 cup (~ 3 oz) freshly grated imported Gruyere Cheese

1. Roll out the dough to line a 10/5-inch (27-cm) tart pan. Carefully transfer the dough to the pan. Chill for 30 mins, or until firm. Carefully transfer the dough to the pan. Chill for 30 mins, or until firm.

2. Preheat the oven to 425 deg F.

3. Prepare the filling. Trim the leeks at the root. Cut off and discard the fibrous dark green portion. Split the leeks lengthwise for easier cleaning, and rinse well in cold water until no grit appears. Coarsely chop the leeks.

4. Melt the butter in a medium-size saucepan over low-heat. Add the leeks, salt, and pepper to taste until the leeks are very soft but not browned, about 20 mins. If the leeks have given up an excessive amount of liquid, drain them in a colander.

5. Combine the eggs & heavy cream in a medium-sized bowl and mix until thoroughly blended. Add the leeks and mix again. Reserve 1/4 cup each of the ham and cheese to sprinkle on top of the tart. Mix the rest into the leek mixture.

6. Pour the leek mixture into the prepared pastry shell. Sprinkle with the reserved ham, and then the cheese. Season generously with freshly ground black pepper.

7. Bake until nicely browned, 40-45 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 6-8 servings. Adapted from Patricia Wells' Bistro Cooking.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Help me decide on a cooking class!

Red & I are heading to Italy in June, and we're excited about our 3-weeks trip, touring Rome, Venice, Bologna, Florence, and Milan! One of the activities that we wanted to book prior to getting there is a cooking class in Bologna. We wanted to do all of them, of course, but can not fit all three into our trips! So, tell me, which one would you do from these classes below and why? Thank you!!

Traditional Bolognese Pasta Dishes
We make the pasta dough, make the sauces, the fillings, stuff the pastas and eat everything with wine, water, coffee and dessert included.

1. Tortellini in broth

2. Tortelli Bolognese (ricotta, parmesan, garlic and parsley) with tomato or butter and sage sauce

3. Tagliatelle with Bolognese ragu’

A Traditional Bolognese Lunch
We prepare the pasta dough, regular and green, make the Bolognese ragu, a good besciamella sauce (bechamel) and compose the lasagna. We will eat everything with wine, water, coffee and dessert included.

1. Bolognese green lasagne

2. Tagliatelle with Bolognese ragu’

3. Cotoletta Bolognese with salad or vegetable side dish

Romagna Style Pasta
We make the pasta dough, make the sauces, the fillings, stuff the pastas and eat everything with wine, water, coffee and dessert included.

1. Capelletti Brisighella style (with chicken, veal and pork meats) served in broth

2. Capelleti di magro Marradi style (with several cheeses) served in broth

3. Tortelli Romagna style (with ricotta, parmesan and spinach)

Fresh Pasta Dishes
We prepare the pasta dough, make the sauces, the fillings, stuff the pastas and eat everything with wine, water, coffee and dessert included.

We prepare the pasta dough, cut different shapes (tagliolini, strichetti, garganelli, etc) to serve with the following easy and quick sauces that we will prepare (Please choose 3-4)

1. Fava, peas and ricotta salata sauce (spring)

2. Speck and lemon sauce

3. White ragu (no tomato sauce)

4. Fresh Basil Pesto

5. Salmon and cream sauce

6. asparagus from Altedo and speck (spring)

7. Porcini mushroom sauce
can also make with chestnut lasagne

8. Pumpkin and luganega sausage sauce (autumn)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Roast Chicken Dinner

Red picked up two "baby" chickens, not hens, from the grocery store over the weekend. While the bag stated these chickens as "baby" size, they weren't exactly "baby". They were about 4-5 lbs each. Originally, we were going to use my baby Foreman Rotisserie, but guess what... it did not fit!!! If anyone has any Foreman Rotisserie, I can use some tips on sizing!!

So we had to switch to plan B, and use a regular roasting rack instead. I didn't follow any recipe, and decided to just mix this and that to come up with an oil-based marinade. I marinated the chicken for about 3 hrs, and let it cook in the 450 degree oven for 1 hr. I must say it was pretty successful!

We enjoyed this dinner with a glass of 2005 Pinot Noir from our favorite winery in Yountville, CA.

1 piece of 4-5 lb chicken
2 large baking potatoes, cubed
2 pieces of carrots, cut into 1-inch
2 stalks of celery, cut into 1-inch
1 large onion, cut into 1-inch

1 1/2 cups of olive oil
1/2 tsp of kosher salt
1 tsp of freshly ground black peppercorn
Juice of 1 lemon
2 T of minced garlic
1/2 cup of diced onion
1/2 tsp of thyme

Mix all of the marinade ingredients together, and drizzle on top of the chicken. Marinate for 2-3 hrs.
Warm up the oven to 450 degree.
Toss all of the vegetables together, drizzle with a little bit of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Place chicken on top of the vegetables.
Cook for 1 hr.
Remove from heat, cover with an aluminum foil for 20 mins.
Serve hot.

Yield: 5-6 servings

Plum Raspberry Crumble

As soon as I saw this recipe on Barefoot in Paris, I knew that I had to try it! While the spring is almost here, I can still see snow on the ground-- so I thought something fruity, with light crumble topping would be delicious. What's a better way to get your daily fruit requirement than a big fat piece of this crumble?? But get this--we couldn't find any good looking raspberry in our grocery store! So I had to scramble around to find some "replacement" fruits-- and decided to use up my leftover blueberries and strawberries. Delicious!


  • 2 pounds red plums, cut in 1/2, pitted, and cut in 1-inch wedges
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1/2 pint fresh raspberries
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, plus extra for sprinkling


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the sliced plums, 1/3 cup of the granulated sugar, 1/4 cup of the flour, and the orange juice and toss well. Add the raspberries and toss lightly. Pour into a 9 by 12 by 2-inch baking dish.

For the topping, place the remaining 1 cup of flour, the remaining 1/3 cup of granulated sugar, the brown sugar, and the salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the butter is the size of peas. Pour the mixture into a bowl, add the oats, and work it with your hands until it's in large crumbles. Add 1/2 cup of the almonds and mix well.

Spread the topping evenly over the plums, making sure the fruit is covered. Sprinkle with some extra almonds. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the fruit is tender and bubbly and the topping is golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 8 servings

Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts

I have been craving goat cheese ever since I saw the Barefoot Contessa episode where she made this recipe. I was so excited when my friend Lindsay is coming over to spend an afternoon with us. Red and I decided that this was going to be recipe that we will use! Boy, wasn't this a hit! She loved it, and we loved it too!!


  • 1 package (17.3 ounces/2 sheets) puff pastry, defrosted
  • Good olive oil
  • 4 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (2 large onions)
  • 3 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, plus 2 ounces shaved with a vegetable peeler
  • 4 ounces garlic-and-herb goat cheese (recommended: Montrachet)
  • 1 large tomato, cut into 4 (1/4-inch-thick) slices
  • 3 tablespoons julienned basil leaves


Unfold a sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and roll it lightly to an 11 by 11-inch square. Using a 6-inch wide saucer or other round object as a guide, cut 2 circles from the sheet of puff pastry, discarding the scraps. Repeat with the second pastry sheet to make 4 circles in all. Place the pastry circles on 2 sheet pans lined with parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium to low heat and add the onions and garlic. Saute for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are limp and there is almost no moisture remaining in the skillet. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the wine, and thyme and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned. Remove from the heat.

Using a sharp paring knife, score a 1/4-inch-wide border around each pastry circle. Prick the pastry inside the score lines with the tines of a fork and sprinkle a tablespoon of grated Parmesan on each round, staying inside the scored border.

Place 1/4 of the onion mixture on each circle, again staying within the scored edge. Crumble 1 ounce of goat cheese on top of the onions. Place a slice of tomato in the center of each tart. Brush the tomato lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with basil, salt, and pepper. Finally, scatter 4 or 5 shards of Parmesan on each tart.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. The bottom sheet pan may need an extra few minutes in the oven. Serve hot or warm.

Mustard Roasted Potatoes

This is another fave recipe at the Red household. We love red potatoes, and always in the look for a new delicious way to prepare them. Here's a recipe from Ina Garten which we go back to over and over again! Please don't skimp on the salt, they really bring out the potatoes flavor.

I hope you enjoy this!

2 1/2 pounds small red potatoes
2 yellow onions
3 TBS good olive oil
2 TBS whole-grain mustard
Kosher Salt
1 TSP freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preheat the oven to 425 degree.

Cut the potatoes in halves, or quarters, depending on their size, and place them on a sheet pan. Remove the ends of the onions, peel them, and cut them in half. Slice them crosswide in 1/4-thick slices to make half rounds. Toss the onions and potatoes together on the sheet pan.

Add the olive oil, mustard, 2 tsp salt, and pepper and toss them together.
Bake for 50 mins to an hour, until the potatoes are lightly browned on the outside, but tender on the inside. Toss the potatoes from time to time with metal spatula so they brow evenly.

Serve hot sprinkled with the chopped parsley and a little extra salt.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Crepes Fines Sucrees (Light Batter)

For our breakfast this weekend, both Red and I were wondering what haven't we made in a while? I have made so many muffins in the past few weeks, or banana breads, that I think we can easily say that I won't miss it for a while. Even I started to groan. We were toying with the idea of making pancakes with new addition, like maybe ricotta? But oh wait, we didn't have any ricotta at home. But we have the basic ingredients like flour (yes, the 25-lb bag!), eggs, milk, sugar. What about CREPES! So here you go. The batter tasted fantastic: light, not too sweet, buttery. We could also improve on our technique. Still has a LONG way to go!

Adapted from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

3/4 cup cold milk
3/4 cup cold water
3 egg yolks
1 TB granulated sugar
3 TB orange liqueur, rum, or brandy
1 Cup flour
5 TB melted butter
2-3 TB cooking oil, to cook the crepes

An electric blender, a rubber scraper

Place the ingredients in the blender jar in the order in which they were listed. Cover and blend at top speed for 1 minute. If bits of flour adhere to sides of jar, dislodge with a rubber scrapper and blend 3 secons more. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.


Rub the skillet with the rind or brush it lightly with oil. Set over moderate high heat until the pan is just beginning to smoke.

Immediately remove from the heat, and holding handle of pan in your right hand, pour with your left hand, a scant 1/4 cup of batter into the middle of the pan. Quickly tilt the pan in all directions to run the batter all over the bottom of the pan in a thin film. (Pour any batter that does not adhere to the pan back into your bowl,; judge the amount for your next crepe accordingly). This whole operation takes about 2-03 seconds.

Return the pan to heat for 60-80 seconds. Then jerk and toss pan sharply back and forth and up and down to loosen the crepe. Lift its edges with a spatula and if the under side is a nice light brown, the crepe is ready for turning.

Turn the crepe by using 2 spatulas, or grasp the edge nearest you in your fingers and sweet it up toward you and over again into the pan in a reverse circle, or toss it over by a flip of the pan.

Brown lightly for about 1/2 minute on the other side. This second side is rarely more than a spotty brown, and is always kept as the underneath or non-public aspects of the crepe. As they are done, slide the crepes onto a rack and let cool several minutes before stacking on a plate.

Grease skillet, heat to just smoking, and proceed with the rest of the crepes.

Yield: 10-12 for 6" crepes, and more for smaller crepes

Friday, April 3, 2009

Reading. Cookbooks. And more.

With my "rest" order from the doctor, I have decided to pick up some books to read. I have a very energetic nature, so reading is not something that I can do very well at. I do love cookbooks, so those are obvious choices:

1) Patricia Wells' cookbooks collection, my fave so far is her Bistro Cooking. This book is a proof that the best dishes can be made from the simplest recipes, using the most common ingredients. And yes, there are several variations of "potato gratins"or "apple tart" that deserve "the #1" praises!

2) Ina Garten's collection. Of course! I am contemplating whether I should purchase her Barefoot in Paris. I need to be able to purchase all of the ingredients on her recipes. Everything she has is unpretentious, thus irresistible. I have, so far, successfully convinced myself that I don't need a creme brulee torch. God forbids!

3) How to Cook Everything. This book actually belongs to Red. He has had this book for many years, and I decided to go through it for inspirations.

4) The Olive Harvest. This is a sequel of the Olive Farm book, another delicious memoir from Carol Drinkwater. Warning: Red believes that I should not read this book before bed, as it awakens my full tummy and convinces me that I need a plateful of juicy sliced tomatoes with young goat cheese, lathered in olive oil and ground black pepper for a 2nd supper.

5) Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. Red got this for me for Christmas. This woman is genius. She goes through different baking and cooking technique in such great details, I am a better cook because of her.

Parmesan Chicken

The Red household (which consists of Mr & Mrs. Red and Charlotte Mae) was rather shaken up last week with my accident. As the result of my accident, I have been ordered to skip driving while the smart folks at the hospital are running a bunch of tests on me. I have also been asked to limit my activity and stay safe in my activity, so I guess I have to cancel my appointment for the sky diving lessons and trek to the Great Wall of China.

With all of these restrictions, Red has been in charge of the cooking this week. We wanted to use up the chicken breast we have on hand, so thought that we should try this. This is a comfort food, that has been beaten up to death by so many different variations of the recipe.

The key here is have thin, juicy chicken breast with crispy skin -- and we think this recipe did it.

Red took Ina Garten's recipe and modified the technique slightly using the one suggested on Cook's Illustrated magazine, which is an amazing publication for all of us who are trying to improve our home cooking skills! We had this with spinach salad & Lemon Vinaigrette dressing.


  • 4 to 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 1/4 cups seasoned dry bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
  • Unsalted butter
  • Good olive oil
  • Salad greens for 6, washed and spun dry
  • 1 recipe Lemon Vinaigrette, recipe follows


Pound the chicken breasts until they are 1/4-inch thick, or if the breast is to thick, slice the pieces into two thin pieces. You can use either a meat mallet or a rolling pin.

Combine the flour, salt, and pepper on a dinner plate. On a second plate, beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon of water. On a third plate, combine the bread crumbs and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan.

Coat the chicken breasts on both sides with the flour mixture, then dip both sides into the egg mixture and dredge both sides in the bread-crumb mixture, pressing lightly.

Leave the breaded chicken breast pieces on top of rack placed on a baking sheet. Let stand for approximately 20 mins.

Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan and cook 2 or 3 chicken breasts on medium-low heat for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until cooked through. Add more butter and oil and cook the rest of the chicken breasts. Serve immediately with extra grated Parmesan.

Yield: 6 servings