Friday, December 17, 2010

Chicken in Orange-Scallion-Sauce with Big Fat Spicy Sate Noodles

(I'll apologize in advance for not having any photos of this dish, but trust me - the photos wouldn't have done it half the justice it deserves. Also, you can make just the sate noodles by themselves if you want a lighter option. They're delicious alone or with the sauce!)

Ingredients for Sauce:

  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt and black pepper
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 6 oz. each
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 navel oranges
  • 2" piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 C chicken stock
  • 3 tbsp tamari (dark soy sauce)
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
Directions for Sauce:
  1. In a bowl, combine the coriander, cayenne, and some salt and pepper. Season the chicken breasts with the spicy mixture. Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat with the vegetable oil, 2 times around the pan. Add the chicken and cook it on each side for 5 to 6 minutes, or until cooked through. 
  2. While the chicken is cooking, zest both oranges and reserve the zest. With a paring knife, slice off the peel and all of the pith (white part) from each orange. Slice each orange into 1/4"-thick disks and reserve.
  3. Remove the chicken from the skillet to plate and cover it loosely with a piece of aluminum foil. Return the skillet to the stovetop over medium-high heat and add the ginger, garlic, sat, pepper, and red pepper flakes - a little or a lot, you're in charge! Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 to 2 minutes, then add the chicken stock and tamari and turn the heat up to high. Cook until you've reduced the liquids by half. Add the reserved orange zest, orange disks, and the scallions. Continue to cook for 1 minute to heat the oranges and scallions. Add the sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds.
  4. Slice the chicken breasts and arrange them on a mound of the Big Fat Spicy Sate Noodles. Top them with the orange-scallion-sesame sauce.
Ingredients for Noodles:
  • salt
  • 1 lb bucatini pasta
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3" piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 C chicken stock
  • 1/3 C tamari (dark soy sauce)
  • 1/2 C smooth peanut butter
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1 C unsalted roasted peanuts
  • a generous handful of fresh cilantro or fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
Directions for Noodles:
  1. Bring a large covered pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Add some salt and the pasta and cook the pasta to al dente. Right before you drain it, remove and reserve 1 C of the pasta cooking liquid. Drain the noodles and reserve.
  2. Return the pot to the stovetop over medium-high heat; add the vegetable oil, 2 times around the pan. Add the ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes and cook for 2 minutes. Add 1/2 C of the reserved pasta cooking liquid, the chicken stock, and tamari and bring it up to a bubble over high heat. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. 
  3. Turn the heat off, add the peanut butter, and whisk to combine. If the sauce gets too thick, add a couple more splashes of the reserved pasta cooking liquid. Add the lime juice and the drained noodles, toss to coat the noodles, then add the chopped peanuts and cilantro and toss again. 
Et voila!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Wingless Buffalo Chicken Pizza

I've mentioned before that one of my favorite things about cooking spicy food at home is that I can control the heat it packs.

My dad LOVES spicy buffalo wings. He and my brother (and a handful of other crazies I know) have tried our hometown's flame-throwing, nasal-clearing, make-you-sign-a-waiver-'fore-you-try-'em wings. I, on the other hand, am the one who gets mad when I put too many red pepper flakes in things. I absolutely did NOT get the spicy-loving gene.

This recipe (from Rachael Ray) is the much cleaner way of getting a buffalo wing fix. And a fun way to season the new pizza crisper!

Serves: 4
Ingredients:

  • 3/4 lb chicken breast cutlets
  • EVOO, for drizzling
  • 2 tsp grill seasoning, such as McCormick's Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • 1 pizza dough, store-bought or from your favorite pizzeria
  • Cornmeal or flour, for dusting
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 to 3 tbsp hot sauce, to taste
  • 1/2 C tomato sauce
  • 1 C shredded Monterey Jack cheese, 4 generous handfuls
  • 1/2 C crumbled blue cheese (*I used a whole cup and loved it!)
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 425. Preheat a grill pan over high heat.
  2. Place the chicken on a plate and drizzle with EVOO. Season it with the grill seasoning. When the grill pan is hot, cook the chicken for about 3 minutes on each side, until it is cooked through.
  3. Stretch the dough to form a pizza, using cornmeal or flour to help you handle it. If you let it rest and warm up for a few minutes, it will handle more easily. Set the pizza on a pizza pan to the side.
  4. In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and stir in the Worcestershire, hot sauce, and tomato sauce.

  5. Remove the chicken from the grill pan and slice it thin. Add the chicken to the sauce and stir to coat. Cover the pizza dough with the saucy Buffalo chicken, cheeses, and scallions. Bake for 18 minutes, or until crisp.

    Et voila!
    (Yes, I know it's not beautiful, but what it lacks in aesthetics, it more than makes up for in taste!)

Snorkel-Happy Photo Evidence

A beautiful December morning on the East China Sea!

We snorkeled just off this - the Kadena Seawall.

Adam baptizinghelping me with my mask as we enter the water.

An elegant Moorish Idol (fish). 

Oh, hello handsome! Our sea turtle friend.

My starfish!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Celery and Pear Bisque and Snorkel-Happy

I finally get to say: Today -- I went snorkeling! (ahhh, that feels good!)

When I found out I was moving to Okinawa, I told myself to embrace it. (Truly, it's the only thing that's really made this move work.) Embracing is NOT the same thing as accepting (clearly). Embracing, to me, meant wanting to learn/understand/do. So, that's exactly what I try to do here. Today, that meant doing - and I loved it. :0)

(Here I am at the local dive shop trying on new booties!)

Actual snorkel photos to come. (Our friend Kristle has a really neat underwater digital camera.)

I can't believe how beautiful coral really is in real life. Some were so vibrant they looked fake. The brain coral looked just like, well, you guessed it. And the coral that sways with the current? Beautiful.

And who did I spy among the coral? A baby sea turtle! It's the only thing I have ever really wanted out of snorkeling/scuba diving and it happened on my very first trip.

::sighs::

I can't live my life under the sea so it's back to the kitchen - for the time being at least. Here's a delicious recipe that comes from the November 2010 issue of Bon Appetit.

Ingredients:

  • 4 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 6 C thinly sliced celery with leaves (preferably organic; about 12 stalks) plus chopped leaves (for garnish)
  • 18 oz. unpeeled ripe Bartlett pears, cored, diced (generous 3 C) plus 1/2 C finely diced (for garnish) (*We used a can of diced pears since the commissary was out and it worked just fine.)
  • 1 1/2 C chopped dark green leek tops
  • 3 small Turkish bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 1/2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 3 C (or more) low-salt chicken broth
Directions:
  1. Melt butter in pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add sliced celery, generous 3 C diced pears, leek tops, bay leaves, and thyme.
  3. Cover; cook until celery softens, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.
  4. Toss in flour. Stir in 3 C broth; bring to boil.
  5. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until celery is tender, about 20 minutes.
  6. Remove bay leaves from soup.
  7. Puree soup in batches in blender until smooth. (*I highly recommend using an immersion blender. I love our Cuisinart Smart Stick Hand Blender.)
  8. Return puree to same pot. 
  9. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  10. Thin with more broth by 1/4 cupfuls, if desired. 
  11. Rewarm briefly.
  12. Divide soup among bowls; garnish with 1/2 C finely diced pear and celery leaves. 
(If you're curious, yes - this soup does turn out to be a very light green!)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Apple and Arugula Salad

I burn out easily on salads. Too often they're dry or too mushy, too bland or too tart/vinegary. This salad is just the right combo of all my favorite elements. I have to thank Rachael Ray, yet again, for saving the day with a simple recipe that hits the spot. (She calls it "A Green Triple Threat: Green Olive-Dressed Green Apple and Arugula Salad", though, if you know me, you know I'm generally repulsed by olives. I'll include them in the ingredients and directions lists just case you aren't.)

Servings: 2
Ingredients:

  • 10-12 large pitted green olives, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • salt and black pepper
  • 1/4 C EVOO
  • 1 green apple, such as Granny Smith, cored and thinly sliced
  • 5 to 6 C arugula, coarsely chopped
  • *We found that crumbled goat cheese set this all off marvelously and highly recommend you add some!
Directions:
  1. In a salad bowl, combine the green olives, mustard, white wine vinegar, and a little salt and pepper. 
  2. In a slow, steady stream, whisk in the EVOO. 
  3. Add the apples and arugula and toss to coat.

  4. Top with goat cheese if you're including it. 
  5. Serve.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Indian-Spiced Chickpea and Fire-Roasted Tomato Soup

Sometimes there's just nothing better than a piping hot, robust soup -- and this is one of those soups. This recipe comes from Rachael Ray's 2, 4, 6, 8 cookbook and was an immediate hit in my house. Shoot, I'd make this soup just for the aroma alone. Roasted garlic, spices, mmmm ...

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 C EVOO
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 - 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained
  • 1/2 small onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • salt and black pepper
  • 1 C chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 - 28 oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1/4 C plain yogurt
Directions:
  1. Heat the EVOO in a medium pot over medium heat. 
  2. Add the garlic and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Combine the chickpeas and onions in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Add them to the pot and cook for 5 minutes to sweeten the onions.
  4. Season the chickpeas with the cumin, cardamom, turmeric, salt, and pepper. 
  5. Stir in the stock, then the tomatoes, and simmer the soup for 5 to 10 minutes to combine the flavors.
  6. Serve it with a dollop of yogurt on top.
My apologies (again) for not having a photo. For a week or two, I was feeling a little hopeless with this blog. I wish I had a better "relationship" with viewers/followers - as in, I wish I knew who you were, what you want to see, what you're reading, etc. So, while I may not have a photo of this soup, I do have a warm wish for any/all readers to feel the warmth (even if it's solely on the inside) as the holidays move into a full swing. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Fruit Curry Chicken Salad

Since I live on an island where this is the view (on an overcast day):


I like to plan picnics on the beach. (I'm not saying they always happen, but there are well-intentioned plans for them.) One of my favorite picnic staples is chicken salad. It's always refreshing on a summer day and a good way to get more fruits/veggies into a meal. This recipe (from AllRecipes) is a tasty twist on the usual chicken salad. (As they recommended, it's best to make this the night before and let the flavors mesh and bolden!) It's yummy on pita bread or croissants.

Ingredients:

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cooked and diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced (I like two.)
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1 Golden Delicious apple - peeled, cored and diced
  • 1/3 C golden raisins
  • 1/3 C seedless grapes, halved
  • 1/2 C chopped toasted pecans
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 3/4 C light mayonnaise (I'm a Miracle Whip kinda girl.)
Directions:
  1. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients.
  2. Mix together.
  3. Cover and chill.
  4. Serve.

 
Et voila!

Butter Bean Risotto with Chard and Fried Okra

My subscription to Bon Appetit magazine started almost a year ago when my sister- and brother-in law were kind enough to sign me up for Christmas. Since then, I've enjoyed so many fun photos, articles, how-tos, and more. That being said, I look forward to receiving them every month. When I moved overseas three months ago, I updated my mailing address on the ONE magazine I receive and hoped that the change would take place immediately -- not so. A couple phone calls and emails later, I know that my dad and his girlfriend have safely received them instead. (I'll take knowing where they are and who they're with over imagining them left to the fate of the dear USPS.)

SO! When my friend Jillian visited last month, she brought a suitcase filled with things from my parents back home - including two very-missed Bon Appetits. After thumbing through them a couple of times, I kept finding myself drawn to the Daily Specials section of the September 2010 issue. This recipe comes from Cotton Row in Huntsville, Alabama and is a delicious, creamy risotto (with an extra punch of protein from the beans) and a side of Southern warmth served up in one night. How could it not be nearly perfect? :)

Ingredients for Okra:

  • 1/2 C 1/2-inch pieces trimmed fresh okra (I had to use frozen, but was tickled I could find even that out here!)
  • 1/2 C buttermilk
  • 1/2 C yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 C olive oil
Ingredients for Risotto:
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 3/4 C (packed) 1/2-inch squares Swiss chard (from about 3 large leaves)
  • 4 C low-salt chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/4 C chopped onion
  • 3/4 C arborio rice or medium-grain white rice
  • 1/4 C dry white wine
  • 1 15- to 16-oz. can butter beans, rinsed, drained
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for serving
Directions for Okra:

  1. Preheat oven to 375. Place okra in small bowl; pour buttermilk over. Let stand 15 minutes. Drain off buttermilk.
  2. Place cornmeal in medium bowl. Mix in salt and pepper. Add okra; toss to coat.
  3. Heat oil in small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add okra; saute until brown on all sides, about 4 minutes. Transfer to baking sheet. (Do ahead: Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Rewarm in 375-degree oven 5 minutes before using.)
Directions for Risotto:
  1. Heat oil in heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add chard and toss until wilted and tender, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

  2. Bring broth to simmer in large saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to very low and keep broth warm.
  3. Melt 1 tbsp butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; saute until soft but not brown, about 2 minutes. Add rice; stir to coat well, about 3 minutes. Add wine; simmer until wine evaporates, stirring constantly, about 1 minutes. Add 1 cup broth. Simmer until absorbed, stirring almost constantly, about 2 minutes. Continue to add broth, 1/2 cup at a time, simmering until broth is absorbed each time and rice is creamy and just tender, stirring almost constantly, about 18 minutes longer. Mix in chard, then beans, 1 tablespoon Parmesan, and 1 tablespoon butter. Season risotto with salt and pepper.
  4. Divide risotto among bowls; sprinkle with okra. Pass more Parmesan alongside. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

I'm Curious ...

Whatcha readin'? 

I just finished I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (a great memoir from Maya Angelou) and am ready to dive into the next book ... just not sure what that is yet!

Buffalo Chicken Chili Mac

While we haven't seen any snow flakes or bundled up in winter jackets, the temperatures have dropped a little here in Okinawa. That being said, a little buffalo chicken chili mac was just what we needed to warm us on the inside. The nice thing about this recipe (from Rachael Ray) is that you can control the heat!

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp EVOO
  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into small bits
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 5 large garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated
  • 1 tbsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 C chicken stock
  • 1/4 to 1/2 C hot sauce, depending on how hot you like it
  • 1 (15 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 lb whole wheat elbow macaroni
  • 1/2 C shredded pepper Jack cheese
  • 1/2 C crumbled blue cheese
  • 2 scallions, ends trimmed, thinly sliced
Directions:
  1. Preheat the broiler and bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat for the pasta.
  2. Place a large pot over medium-high heat and add the EVOO.
  3. Add the chicken bits and brown them, stirring often, for 5 to 6 minutes.
  4. Add the carrot, onion, celery, garlic, paprika, and bay leaf and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Cook the veggies, stirring frequently, until tender, 3 to 4 minutes.
  6. Add the chicken stock and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot. 
  7. Add the hot sauce and crushed tomatoes, and bring up to a bubble. Reduce the heat and simmer the chili for 8 to 10 minutes to let the flavors come together and thicken slightly.
  8. While the chili is simmering, salt the boiling water, add the pasta, and cook until al dente.
  9. Drain the pasta and toss it into the chili, then transfer everything to a 9x13-inch casserole dish.
  10. Discard the bay leaf.
  11. Sprinkle the cheeses evenly over the top and place the dish under the broiler until the cheeses have melted and the top is golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes.
  12. Sprinkle the sliced scallions over the top.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Mixed Vegetable Curry with Nut Pilau

As I've mentioned before, I try and make every Monday a day for "Meatless Monday" dinner. (Google it if you're interested in learning more about it, see who's participating, what you can make, etc.)

This recipe comes from India's 500 Best Recipes, a go-to in our house for Indian cravings. If you don't have all of the vegetables for this (or they aren't in season), you can always substitute a different hearty vegetable to keep the nutrient (and taste) level up.

Ingredients for the Curry:
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds (I only had yellow so I used those instead.)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds (I only had ground cumin, so I dashed that into the mix.)
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 curry leaves (again - just a dash of ground curry instead - Seeing a trend here?)
  • 1 fresh green chili, finely chopped
  • 1" piece fresh root ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp curry paste
  • 1 small cauliflower, broken into florets
  • 1 large carrot, thickly sliced
  • 4 oz. green beans, cut into 1" lengths
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1/2 C frozen peas, thawed
  • 2/3 C vegetable stock
  • curry leaves, to garnish
Directions for the Curry:
  1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy pan and fry the mustard seeds and cumin seeds for 2 minutes until they begin to sputter.  If they are very lively, put a lid on the pan.
  2. Add the onion and the curry leaves and fry for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the chopped chili and fresh ginger and fry for 2 minutes. Stir in the curry paste, mix well and fry for 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add the cauliflower florets, sliced carrot and beans, and cook for 4-5 minutes. Add the turmeric, chili powder, salt and tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Finally add the thawed peas and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Pour in the stock. Cover and simmer over a low heat for 10-15 minutes until all the vegetables are tender. 
  6. Serve, garnished with curry leaves if you like.
Ingredients for the Pilau:
  • 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 large carrot, coarsely grated
  • generous 1 C basmati rice, soaked for 20-30 minutes
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds (or a couple dashes of ground cumin)
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 4 green cardamom pods
  • scant 2 C vegetable stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3/4 C unsalted walnuts and cashew nuts
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • fresh coriander (cilantro) sprigs, to garnish
Directions for the Pilau:
  1. Heat the oil in a karahi, wok or large pan. Fry the onion, garlic and carrot for 3-4 minutes. Drain the rice and add to the pan with the spices. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring to coat the grains in oil.
  2. Pour in the stock, stirring. Add the bay leaf and season well.
  3. Bring to boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer very gently for 10-12 minutes without stirring.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat without lifting the lid. Leave to stand for 5 minutes, then check the rice. If it is cooked, there will be small steam holes on the surface of the rice. Discard the bay leaf and the cardamom pods.
  5. Stir in the walnuts and cashew nuts and check the seasoning. Spoon on to a warmed platter, garnish with the fresh coriander (cilantro), and serve.
I apologize for not having any photos of this meal. Maybe this cute kitty that strolled up to my parked car window at the seawall will help you forgive me?


Monday, November 22, 2010

Bobby Flay's Red Velvet Cake

I'm back! I can't believe it's been two weeks since I posted. So many things to talk about!

Visiting with my friend was a nice taste of home right before the holidays. We adventured a little, ate/drank a lot, and overall just enjoyed each other's company. Here's a picture from the Marine Corps Birthday Ball we attended:


We ventured up the road to explore the local pottery village. It was awesome! Tons of cool pottery, beautiful sights, and even some sweet shop pets. One of the best parts of our week together, though, was definitely the food. (No surprise - if you know me or my bestie, it's a no-brainer that we love good food.)

We popped by a cafe on the way home from touring the pineapple farm/winery and OH.MY.YUMMY. The food was just *perfect.* Here are some shots of our smorgasbord (is there a Japanese word for that?):


(yaki udon)

(crunch spicy tuna roll)

(rainbow roll)

Mmmmm!

While I haven't learned how to craft Japanese classics yet, I did get by with making hubby's birthday cake. It was my first "layered" cake and I was pretty happy with how it turned out. Here is Bobby Flay's Red Velvet Cake - moist with hints of chocolate, it's an easy (and elegant) change from your standard cake and frosting. 

Prep and Bake Time: 2 hours, 40 minutes
Ingredients for the Cake:
  • 3 3/4 C all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp Dutch processed cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 12 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 1/4 C granulated sugar
  • 3/4 C vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp red food coloring
  • 1 1/2 C buttermilk, at room temperature
  • Frosting, recipe follows
Directions for the Cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Butter and flour two 9" cake pans. (*Bobby adds that you should then line each pan with a round of parchment paper.)
  3. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in small bowl.
  4. Cream the butter, sugar, and oil in a stand mixer fitted the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beat until incorporated. Beat in the vanilla, vinegar, and food coloring.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the batter in three batches alternating with the buttermilk, mixing well after each addition.


  6. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs.
  7. Cool on a baking rack for 15 minutes before removing the cake from the pans. 
  8. Let cool completely before frosting. 
  9. Slice each cake into two layers and frost.

    (The frosting picked up bits of the cake and I just kind of went with it. Peppermint-speckle cake, anyone?)
Ingredients for the Frosting:
  1. 1/2 C heavy cream
  2. 1 C whole milk
  3. 1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
  4. 7 tbsp all-purpose flour
  5. 3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  6. 1 1/2 C superfine sugar
Directions for the Frosting:
  1. Combine the cream, milk, vanilla bean and seeds in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Remove the vanilla bean and discard. 
  2. Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until thickened to a paste, about 2 minutes. 
  3. Scrape into a bowl, cover and refrigerate until very cold, at least 2 hours.
  4. Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat until the mixture is very fluffy and the sugar is totally dissolved, about 6 minutes.
  5. Add the cold paste, a few tablespoons at a time, to the butter mixture and whip until light and fluffy.  
Happy Birthday, Baby! <3

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Cafe's Closed [For the Week]

QUICK UPDATE:
Just taking a minute to let you know the cafe will be "closed" until next Monday. 

After being separated for two months, my hubby and I were reunited with our sweet boxer Banks yesterday. My best friend was gracious (and patient and loving!) enough to fly all the way across the world to bring him to us and to play for the week. 

While I'll miss the blogosphere for the week, I can't wait to spend quality time with my loved ones. Plans include: castle ruins, beach trip(s), pedicures, and military balls - with a healthy dose of wine and shopping thrown in the mix. 

Ciao for now!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Brea's Pumpkin Bread

Living on Okinawa, while amazingly beautiful and rich in culture, can often be lonely. I am so thankful to have a few friends from home who live on the island with me.

One of these dear friends (the one I adventured into the great blue (green, really) yonder with to find Cafe Kugafu), had a little housewarming/BBQ/get-together last week. One of our other friends from back home came, too, and it was great getting to sit down and chat just like old times.

My friend mentioned that she had been cooking/baking up all kinds of pumpkin goodies lately for her son's school. Of course I perked up - I'm still on my pumpkin kick! She was gracious enough to share this very simple and very delicious pumpkin bread recipe. I made a little loaf for me/hubby and a giant loaf for hubby to take to work. I was lucky enough to have *just* enough batter left for one more little loaf that I plan to make tomorrow.

Ingredients:
  • 2 C pumpkin puree
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 C vegetable oil
  • 2/3 C water
  • 3 C sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 1/2 C flour
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp baking soda
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. 
  2. Grease 3 loaf pans.
  3. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix.


  4. Fill loaf pans half full. 
  5. Bake for 1 hour. (If making muffins, bake for 25 minutes.)
Et voila!
(P.S. I'm loving these cheap, but decorative 1/3 lb disposable paper loaf pans I found at the ¥100 shop!)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Lamb Koftas with Tomato, Basil, and Feta Salad

The first time I tried lamb was on a date with hubby (then-boyfriend) at Lebanese Taverna in McLean, Virginia. Being with a handsome, smart new guy was romantic enough, but the sights and smells really warmed the atmosphere.

When our meals were delivered to the table, the smell was overwhelming. I'd never smelled lamb, but wow. It was earthier than I would have expected (something I've come to love about it). Hubby took a bite and told me how much it reminded him of the local food he had in Iraq.

Since then, we've made lamb a couple times on our own and every time it has turned out fantastically. (Not because I'm a fantastic cook, but because lamb is so versatile and savory on its own!) I have found that too much lamb in dishes can be overload. For me, it's best when there's a smaller-than-usual quantity of lamb but with plenty of sauce (and naan or flatbread).

This recipe comes from The Confident Cook by Lauraine Jacobs. Because we don't have a propane tank for the outdoor grill at the moment, we used our grill pan (which I LOVE). That being said, we didn't use skewers for the koftas as they wouldn't have fit in the pan. No worries - just shape the lamb into the same oval cylinders as you would if you were using skewers and use tongs (rubber-tipped if you're using non-stick a pan) to flip.

Ingredients for Koftas:

  • 2 lbs minced lamb (ground lamb works, too)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground fennel
  • 1 tsp spicy paprika
  • 1 large onion, very finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and grated
  • small bunch fresh flat-leafed parsley, finely chopped
  • *I love lamb with Greek (plain) yogurt and recommend about 3/4 C for dipping and garnish. 
Ingredients for Salad:
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 8 oz. feta cheese
  • large bunch basil, shredded
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tbsp EVOO
Directions for Koftas:
  1. Place all the kofta ingredients in a large bowl. Work the mixture together really well, kneading the spices into the meat. The longer you knead, the better the texture will become. Try to do this for at least five minutes.
  2. Wet your hands and work the mixture into longish oval cylinders to thread on to skewers. This should make about 12.


  3. Heat the grill, turn the heat to low and cook the skewered meat for about 10 minutes on one side, and then a further six minutes on the other. Times are approximate as it will depend on how thick your koftas are and how hot the grill is.


Directions for Salad:
  1. Slice the tomatoes in half. 
  2. Cut the cheese into cubes about the size of tomatoes.
  3. Combine the tomatoes and feta in a small serving bowl.
  4. Toss the shredded basil on top and dress with a little salt and pepper and the olive oil.


    Et voila!

    Shared here:

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Halloween!


Happy Halloween!
:0)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Fall Blondies

The winds whipped and howled.
The fierce rain bore down.
It was a scary few days
here in Okinawa-Town!

Now the time has come
for creepy goblins & beasts
to wander the lands
"boo!"-ing & begging for treats!

(Is is just me or does Halloween seem to encourage rhyming? Ok - just me...)


This recipe (though renamed from "Halloween" to "Fall") comes from Martha Stewart. I get a lot of daily recipe ideas delivered to my inbox and don't ever have enough time to check them all out and/or try them out. This time, I couldn't say no. I didn't grow up with "blondies" (other than Momma!) so I thought it'd be fun to try my hand at them and see if I like them as an adult. The verdict? Heck yes, I do!

Ingredients:

  • 1 C (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus more, room temperature, for pan
  • 1 C packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 C all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/4 C each orange, yellow, and brown candy-coated chocolates (from a 12.6 oz bag)*
*I used autumn-colored M&Ms for this, but would really love to make these a few times with different "themes" - alma mater (Hokie, Hokie, Hokie Hi! Tech, Tech, VPI!), sports team, or holiday (how cute would this be on Valentine's Day?). You could also experiment with the M&Ms, making different shapes/designs. Or change up the candy itself and try Reese's Pieces! Either way, this recipe is sure not to disappoint (and is little goblin helping hands friendly). 

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Brush an 8"-square baking pan with butter; line pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2" overhang on two sides. Butter paper.


  3. In a large bowl, whisk together butter and sugars until smooth. Whisk in eggs and vanilla. Add flour and salt; stir just until moistened.


  4. Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth top. 
  5. Arrange candies in rows on top of dough.

    (They don't spell "mmmm" for no reason!)

  6. Bake until top of cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. (*I set the timer for 45 minutes and think 38-40 would have been perfect.)
  7. Set the pan on a wire rack and let cool completely. 
  8. Using parchment overhang, lift cake from pan and transfer to a cutting board; cut into 16 squares.
    (To store, keep in an airtight container at room temperature, up to 2 days.)
Et voila!


Shared here:


Keeping It Simple Mouthwatering Mondays at A Southern Fairytale

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Homemade Pumpkin Butter

(All this talk of sweets and I had totally forgotten to share the recipe for homemade pumpkin butter! That's just wrong!)

From SkinnyTaste, I present: an uber delicious, multi-purpose homemade pumpkin butter! (Try this on toast, crepes, in your yogurt, or use to make pumpkin-spiced coffees, cream cheese spreads, or in a cheesecake!)

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 C pumpkin puree, or (1) 29 oz. can - NOT pumpkin pie filling (*The really helpful tutorial I used to make pumpkin puree can be found here at Chef In You.)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 C apple cider or apple juice
  • 1 C packed brown sugar
  • 2-3 cinnamon sticks (*You can use ground cinnamon, but the sticks are more festive.)
  • 1-2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (to taste)
Directions:
  1. Combine pureed pumpkin, vanilla, cider/juice, spices, cinnamon sticks and sugar in a large saucepan; stir well.
  2. Bring mixture to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30-40 minutes or until thickened.
  4. Stir frequently!
  5. Adjust spices to your taste. 
 
Et voila!
(My newest addition to the kitchen - a little air-tight, light-tight cannister I picked up at the "one-coin" ¥100 store!)

Shared here:



 
The Girl Creative
MangoesandChutney


Monday, October 25, 2010

Seeking Sweets in Okinawa: Part II

You didn't really think we could stop at just honey, did you?

Next it was down the street to Patisserie!


Typical Okinawa, a very tall, very typhoon-proof building that houses a dojo upstairs and Patisserie downstairs.

When we entered the shop, we were happy to see a wide variety of yummies behind a refrigerated glass case. We couldn't necessarily read all of the labels, but much of it was intuitive (cheesecake, tiramisu, and assorted log cakes, including green tea). The rest all looked like they'd be scrumptious surprises. 

One wall was covered with baskets loaded with packaged fresh cookies, muffins, and other baked goods. I was approached by a very friendly saleswoman who (wordlessly) offered me a basket. Good thing hubby was there to keep my baked-good buying in check or I may just have filled a basket!


To keep Patisserie special, we decided to only try one thing at a time (so we have more things to look forward to next time). Our bag held two apple turnovers, fresh that day from the oven, with buttery layers and gooey apple-chunk centers. They would have been delicious with a hot mug of tea or coffee, but I couldn't contain myself and devoured enjoyed it bite by bite for dessert.

Before leaving, I wanted to snap just one more photo - this time, of their adorable Halloween display. Just as a took it, a young Okinawan girl visiting the shop with her family kind of "leaned" (shyly, but purposefully) into the photo. I smiled and pointed to her and then to the display. She nodded and let me take her photo next to it. It was a sweet moment - again, with no words needed. :)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Seeking Sweets in Okinawa: Part I

It's been a beautiful (though slightly muggy) weekend in Okinawa. I was bummed to only get one day with my hubby as he had duty (that's 24 hours of being at work ... the day before Monday - ick). So! Since we knew we only had the day, we chose to seize it.

When we moved here, we began a list of things to do and places to see. One of the places was Okinawa Yoho, a local honey shop. It's located about two miles from our house and, as usual, tucked in a string of cement buildings off the road. Here's the entrance to it:


(If you can't read the sign, just look for the bee!)

When we entered the shop, we heard a chime announce our arrival, but no one was to be found. The shop was tiny, but well-stocked with products. Everything was written in Japanese so we tried to infer as much as we could from the packaging. 


We suddenly heard footsteps and I had just enough time to snap the photo above before a little, elderly Japanese woman emerged from a side room. She apologized quickly ("gomennasai!") before starting our honey tasting. She squirted dollops of different honeys into our disposable spoons and explained each honey  - in Japanese! Like many "lost in translation" moments, we just nodded and smiled a lot - not hard with how tasty it all was. 

We had the tough task of choosing which honey to bring home - 100% local Okinawan honey? Blueberry honey? Or how 'bout what the saleswoman said was "cookie honey"? Ultimately, we bought one that tasted like vanilla-brown sugar honey. Mmmm!