Thursday, 29 March 2012

Mandarin Garden Salad with Orange Poppy Seed Dressing

Ever since the end of Vogue, my diet has consisted of cookies, cereal, chips, and chicken nuggets. To get myself to eat healthy again, I need to make that salad damn tasty. I bought a salad book way back, about 2 years ago, and never touched it. It's one of the "Company's Coming" series. Anyways so I finally decided to try one of those recipes and it actually turned out pretty good.

It's a pretty simple salad but that little extra something is the can of mandarin oranges. I love them, and if I had to pick one thing to eat for the rest of my life, that would probably be it.


The reserved orange juice is used in the poppy seed dressing and it was a thousand times better than bottles that have been sitting in the grocery stores for months. The original recipe called for dijon mustard. I didn't have any so I cheated and used mayo and a little bit of mustard powder and ground up some mustard seeds. The mayo didn't mix easily with the oil so I switched from my whisk to an immersion blender and it was perfect!

The oranges and grapes brought a little bit of sweetness to the salad and made it way more interesting than a regular garden salad. It's finished off by a little sprinkling of chopped almonds for crunch.


Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Chicken Fried Rice


I'm so excited about this post because, for once, the pictures are going to look legit. Chris just gave me a quick session on photography 101 so that I could actually use his camera properly.

This was specially requested by Chris and it's a big experiment for me because it's been a while since last time I made rice. Ingredients are fairly straight forward: Use up the leftovers in your fridge. Here is what worked for me.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Chocolate and Toffee Covered Craisin Cookies

As promised! I think I have achieved what I believe to be perfection. These are baked in a hot oven (375) so its crunchy outside and fudgy inside.  I do acknowledge that the sugar ratio is quite low compared to other cookie recipes, which may or may not be a bad thing, but the chocolate chips and toffee bits make up for it.

I got so many compliments on this, it was actually quite amazing. At first I thought the toffee bits may be distracting because it sticks to your teeth sometimes. Then I realized it was only when they are warm that they do that. This cookie is actually better when it's completely cooled through, or a day old. The toffee bits hardens to a perfect crunch and is a great balance for the soft center. Did I mention that the center never hardens? So, the toffee bits are a mandatory ingredient now...you can't skip it!


I Need Your Help With a MasterCard Project!!

An internship position has turned up with MasterCard and the task is to do an experiment for a "Cashless Future". I've got a few ideas and I'm prepared to make my first Youtube video to incorporate the Cashless Future idea. The content will be a secret for now but I need some help.

I want to know what a Cashless Future means to you. What would your life be like with only credit cards and no cash. To help you along, try to imagine your life right now with only cash and no credit cards. Tell me what you buy online and how you use your credit cards.

Please please pleaseeeeee help and comment below!

Mediterranean Couscous Salad

I just recently had my first couscous salad and, oh it was amazing. Couscous are small particles of semolina, like a tiny pasta. I've never been keen to try it since it seemed like something that would be bland, flavourless, uninteresting.... But when it's made with chicken broth and cheese, it can be so good.

The one I had was a Greek couscous salad. The feta made a huge difference and provided the most flavour. I couldn't find feta at my school grocery store (and was too lazy to go to the neighbourhood grocery) so I had to settle for Parmesan and call it a Mediterranean salad.

There are many couscous recipes out there and a some call for summer squash as the vegetables. I personally don't like to use vegetables that need to be cooked because it takes away from the speediness of the dish. All you need for this recipe is a kettle, a knife and a cutting board. The best water-pasta ration for me is 1:1; easy to remember and provides the best texture.



Saturday, 24 March 2012

Chocolate Covered Craisins Cookie - Incomplete Version




My sister has been trying  to convince me to go to culinary school after I graduate from Queen's and I had always said "no" because I knew my parent's wouldn't like the idea.

Well, it's still a pretty big shocker to hear your mom scream at you over the phone, telling you what a stupid idea it is and that she doesn't understand how you could have possibly came up with something so ridiculous. It's not that I desperately want to go to culinary school..it just hurts to know that when it comes down to what you want to do with your life and what you are "supposed" to do, Asian parents are still Asian parents. I just thought my parents were different.

Anyways, I teared a bunch and then jumped into the kitchen to invent a cookie with everything in my pantry. Obviously I didn't dump in just anything, I had to pick what goes well together.

II automatically reached for my box of candy after I put down the phone with my mom and I grabbed a handful of yogurt covered craisins. I thought that would be an inspiration for my cookie since I've never seen a recipe like it before. I decided on cocoa powder, butterscotch chocolate chips, homemade toffee bits, and craisins for my ingredients and hoped to god they went well together.

It was a really amazing cookie on flavour but I missed the ball park with texture. I had too much butter and not enough flour so the dough spread a lot in the oven. I also didn't add enough eggs because the cookie broke really easily. For those reasons, I'm not going to post the recipe but I'll make sure I fix it up and post it early next week. I will however give you my toffee recipe cause it's really simple.


Friday, 16 March 2012

Irish Carbomb Cupcakes- Guinness Cupcakes and Bailey's ButterCream Frosting

I have been kinda MIA for the past few days but I have a very valid reason. There's a charity fashion show at Queen's and I'm modeling for it this year. We've had 2 shows so far, yesterday and today, and the last one is tomorrow. I've been pretty much running on adrenalin for the past couple of days and I can't begin to describe how tired I am. (pictures from the show to follow)

I baked these for my lingerie scene and I must say I was scared I would be coming back with left overs. Thank god they were all gone, or else my pride may take a hit. I did receive one comment that it was too rich so just warning you!


Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Honey Garlic Chicken Drumsticks

Kind of a funny story how I came to make this recipe; totally unintentional. On the way back from the bar last Friday, I decided to go grocery shopping. I vaguely remember screaming "OMG the chicken is sooooo cheap!" and then bought a club pack. The next day I thought what on earth am I gonna do with these. I wanted to deep fry them and finish them with some sort of glaze, but scrapped that first thought cause it was too unhealthy.

Chef John from Foodwishes has a great recipe for oven fried chicken wings and I thought I'd try it on these drumsticks cause it's much healthier. They turned out great and I really didn't miss the oil.

I thought the glaze worked out great. I just used crushed ginger and garlic and heated them up in some honey and vinegar so that the flavour is infused in there. I didn't need to cut the garlic very finely, it wasn't strong at all.


Saturday, 10 March 2012

Guacamole

We are going Mexican today and I'm doing what in my opinion is an authentic guacamole. This inspiration came after my cruise in the caribbean, we had stopped at 2 Mexican ports and all we ate were guacamole and salsa. I've had my share of the dips prior to the trip but never was I deeply in love with them. But I can tell you now that I am.


Ingredients:
3 avocados
1/2 lime
1 roma tomato
1/4 of onion
a handful of cilantro
1 tsp of cumin (optional)
salt and pepper

The avocados need to be ripe but not mushy. I think it oxidizes too fast when it's over ripened. Cut the Avocados in half and put them in a bowl filled with the juice of half a lime. Flip the avocados in the bowl so that it's covered by the lime juice all over. This will prevent the avocados from browning during the mashing process.



Quarter and seed the roma tomato and dice it into small cubes. Chop the onions finely and run it through boiling water for 30 seconds to get rid of the pungent flavour (optional step). Chop the cilantro finely and add it to the bowl as well. Adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and cumin.



Mash until only a few small chunks of avocados are left and the mixture is dip-able.


Transfer to a serving dish and enjoy with chips! To store, wrap it with plastic wrap and directly press the plastic wrap onto the surface to prevent browning.

It also makes amazing grilled cheese sandwiches. Just smear it on one side of the bread and top it off with cheese (I use a mix of mozzarella and white cheddar) and another piece of bread. Coat the bread in bacon fat (so healthy, I know) and fry! 

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio

Spaghetti aglio e olio is basically spaghetti that is tossed in a garlic infused olive oil. It's a super easy recipe that you can do in 15 minutes, and in my opinion, so much better than tomato sauce. You don't see pasta very often around my house but something like this would convince me to eat it more than twice a week.


Ingredients:

8 cloves of garlic
1/3 cup of olive oil
200 g of dry spaghetti
heavily salted water ( use 3-4 tbsps for a pot of water)
parmesan cheese
pepper
finely chopped parsley
red pepper flakes
shrimp (optional)

Get a pot and a pan ready because you want to cook both at the same time. Make sure you pot of water is heavily salted because this is the only time you're going to season the pasta. When the water is at a boil, drop in the pasta and turn on the heat for your oil pan. The heat should be at medium low. Make sure your garlic cloves are thinly sliced, not chopped. Toss them in with the olive oil and bring them up to temperature together. In about seven minutes, they should just begin to brown. 


When the garlic starts to brown, sprinkle with red pepper flakes and parsley. Add the shrimp and continue to cook for another minute or two. Make sure the heat is medium low the entire time, you don't want the garlic to burn.



When the pasta is cooked to your liking, drain and put back into the pot. Do NOT rinse as many of you may already know. Season it with freshly ground black pepper and about 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese. I usually buy a chunk of the real thing and store it in the freezer. I don't know if I have violated any of the Italian rules at this moment, but it grates perfectly fine so I'm not worried. 

Drizzle in the garlic oil and shrimp and garnish with some more chopped parsley. Honestly, I wish I had found this recipe earlier because I'm really not a big fan of spaghetti (with tomato sauce). Now I declare myself a big, big fan.



Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Naan Bread

Another really simple, straight forward recipe. I discovered these before the reading break and fell in love with them. For a bread that requires so little ingredients, they are packed with flavour. The idea came because Chris always came home with these shawarma things after a night of drinking, and I thought it would be really cool if I could make my own. Well I didn't get very far but I'm glad I came across these.


Ingredients:
2 3/4 cups of flour
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp greek yogurt 2%
1 cup of warm water

Mix the flour, yeast, salt, sugar, and baking soda together in a bowl.


Add the olive oil and yogurt and mix until the mixture is crumbly. 
Add in the water and knead until smooth and elastic. Place it at a warm place and let rise for 4 hours. I know it's a long time but some how this dough doesn't rise as fast as normal bread dough.


Cut into 8 equal pieces and roll them into little balls. 


Roll it out really thin, 1/16 th of an inch thick. The dough will want to shrink but you can keep stretching it.


Turn on your boiler and place a cast iron skillet in the oven. When the skillet is nice and hot, place the dough inside.


The total cooking time per bread is 3-4 minutes so you need to keep you eye on it while it browns. The magic happens about 1 minute into the process, and the bread puffs up into a big ball. You can stuff the inside with whatever you have or just eat it as is. 

I think the yogurt makes a world of difference. You don't taste yogurt at all, but it does something to the texture and the bite and it is so good!



Sunday, 4 March 2012

Triple Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies- Is It Possible To Have Too Much Chocolate?

I haven't posted much about cookies because, well, they seem a bit simple. I came across a recipe on the cooking channel that put a twist on cookies. Fancier or easier, whatever, but instead of creaming the butter, you melt it. The cookies turned out amazing so I thought it would be a sin not to share!


The ingredients are pretty standard so here we go.

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cup flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 cup dark chocolate chunks
1 cup white chocolate chips
3/4 cup peanut butter chocolate chips


Melt the butter in a sauce pan and take it off the heat.


Stir in the sugars until it becomes smooth. If it's not too hot, you can whisk in the egg, the yolk and the vanilla. If it's still bubbly hot then let it cool in the fridge for a bit.


Add the flour, oats, baking soda and mix it together.


Add in the chocolate chunks and the 2 chocolate chips.


It may seem like a lot of chocolate, and it is, but keep on mixing and don't lose faith. I really thought it was a lot because the little chocolate pieces try to escape as I form the dough into little balls, but the result...delicious! I've never been happier to have so many types of chocolate on hand.


Divide them into equal pieces and roll into balls. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. 

Preheat your oven to 325.
Flatten the dough so that they are roughly the cookie size. They don't really spread out in the oven. Bake it for 13-14 minutes or until the bottom is just slightly golden brown. 


Carefully transfer them unto a wire rack because they will want to fall apart before they have completely cooled. I wasn't completely convinced they were amazing until I brought them to a party and they were munched up within 10 minutes. Until I find a better recipe, they will be my go to cookie from now on.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Tuna Steak in a Lemon and Parsley Marinade

I know this post came way too late since Valentine's day was a couple of weeks ago. But it's a really good recipe and you can make it for just about any occasion. Expensive ingredients I know, but cheaper than eating out and I thought it tasted just as good.

So lets talk about tuna steak. It's completely different from canned tuna in taste and texture. If you are a big sushi fan, then you might know that raw tuna is really smooth in texture and smells nothing like canned tuna. Canned tuna has that texture because it's cooked, canned, then cooked again to kill whatever bacteria is left in the cans. By that stage, the tuna is way over cooked.

the steaks are really expensive, something like 10 dollars a steak compared to salmon at 4 dollars. You might also have a hard time finding it in the grocery stores. I got lucky that day and haven't seen them since then.


Juice of a lemon
a handful of chopped parsley
salt and pepper
1/4 cup of olive oil

Mix the ingredients in a bowl to make a marinade. Toss in the tuna and coat it with the marinade on both sides. Transfer into a plastic bag and squeeze out all the air to make sure the tuna is in contact with the marinade. Store it in the fridge for an hour before cooking. Any longer and the tuna will be over cooked by the acid.


You can sort of see the tuna is sort of discolored after the hour


Get a pan really hot with a tbsp of oil. Once its really hot, sear the tuna for 90 seconds on each side. If you like it well cooked then you can sear it for a bit longer. Either way, make sure you sear it for the same amount of time on each side so that the tuna looks evenly cooked when you slice it. I like my rare so 90 seconds was perfect. 

Let it rest on the board for 5 minutes and slice it right before you serve. It was really light and lemony, and would have been a very healthy dinner if I didn't throw on the twice baked potatoes.