Saturday, May 23, 2015

Memorial Day BBQ - Reflection and Gratitude to the Brave

Memorial Day is traditionally when we kickoff our BBQ season but since we have our nephew’s birthday party to go to that day we are switching it to Saturday this year to coincide with my cousin’s other day off. 

Just like Thanksgiving when you gather to reflect on what you have to be thankful for, do not forget to take time out of your Memorial Day BBQ to express gratitude for the service of so many brave men and women who made that ultimate sacrifice, our fallen heroes. 

The annual "Blossoms for the Brave" event in Maui brings communities together to honor their veterans http://mauinow.com/2015/05/15/annual-blossoms-for-the-brave-lei-making-event-honors-veterans/.  What can you do? 

Menu

BBQ Drumsticks – premarinade the night before with soy sauce and green onions, flipping once the next morning – grill for 35 min until no longer pink inside adding BBQ sauce the last 5 min

 

Kebobs – mushrooms, zucchini, and smoked beef sausages – if you use wood skewers, soak for an hour before use.  Since mushrooms cook much faster, skewer mushrooms separately on its own so you can remove earlier.  Grill mushrooms for about 8 minutes flipping once, the others for about 10-12 minutes flipping once


 

Burgers – chop some onions and mix with ground beef, mold into patties thinner in the middle and larger than your bun size as it will shrink – grill, cooking to desired doneness.  Also making those Maui Taro Burgers this year as well – over med to high heat, brush some oil on each side and cook frozen patties 5 minutes on each side until crisp.  You may want to flip a couple of times to ensure it doesn’t burn. 



T-bone steaks – Liberally rub the steaks with a cut clove of raw garlic before putting onto the grill, cooking to desired doneness

 

Beet and Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese – Roast beets as follows

Preheat oven to 375

Scrub beets with brush and trim the ends so that it can “stand up”

Place trimmed beats in aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil and some sea salt

Crimp the edges to create a pouch

Put in 375 degree oven for 45-60 min (when removed from oven, you should be able to insert toothpick through the beet)

Be careful opening up pouch as there is hot steam

Once beets are cooled, rub off skin with paper towel which should easily come off and cut in slices or wedges

Combine salad of spinach leaves, cut beets, crumbled goat cheese, and drizzle of your favorite salad dressing

 

Corn I admit that we never grilled corn but just cook it in the pot, which once shucked, you place in cold water, cover and bring to a boil and once boiled, cook for an additional 10 minutes until tender. 

 

Watermelon

Thank you to all the brave men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice, giving their lives to serve our country.  You are the true heroes that should always be remembered and looked up to. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Spam Fried Rice

Okay, I am not a huge Spam person but I do open up a can once in awhile especially since it’s become such a Hawaiian staple these days.  I had used only 3 slices in the Saimin Taro Burger so I ended up using ½ the can as the “protein” in fried rice this time around.  Another 2 slices left that would be perfect for regular saimin noodles to come!!  One can over 3 different recipes spaced out over 2 weeks is as close to moderation as I can come with this one. 

Fried Rice Recipe same as the Portuguese Sausage except I used Spam - http://www.cookwithzee.blogspot.com/2014/04/portuguese-sausage-fried-rice.html

Price:  Since pretty much everything are leftover items,  the eggs and peas are really the only thing “new” = $1 for 4 servings = 25 cents a serving


 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Socca

Many people know that I travel for food which means it is rare to see me at a McDonalds on vacation unless they have a location specific item that is only found there..cough…Haupia Pie!! 

So I do lots of research before my trips, much revolving around food and where we are eating.  One of the stops on our honeymoon years ago was Nice, a location I discovered during my 4 years of high school French and immediately filed in my mind to visit someday.  After a few days in the hustle and bustle of Paris, the more laid back atmosphere of Nice was exactly what we needed.  Starting with an unhurried stroll along the The Promenade des Anglais fronting the sparkling Mediterranean Sea, then over to the Cours Saleya an open air market teeming with fresh food that is quintessential France, making me wish we were staying someplace with a kitchen.  As my eyes were darting around the colorful stalls, the goal was to lay my eyes on one specific stall run by Theresa, the Queen of Socca!! 

Socca is a Nice specialty that has the thickness between a crepe and a pancake with a little charring on the outside and made with chickpea flour.  After we watched her work her magic, she expertly served it up in a paper cone to be eaten piping hot, perfect as a snack or light lunch.  Put it all together and Nice really lives up to its name. 

Living in the Bay Area, I am pretty lucky to be able to find many of the foods that I try during my travels but socca was the one thing that still remains elusive all these years later.  Imagine my delight when I found a recipe recently and realize that it is super easy!!  It will never be as good as Theresa’s but without those decades of daily socca preparation under my belt, it is close enough. 


Notes: 

  1. I don’t own any oven safe skillets so I just made mine on the stovetop similar to crepes. 
  2. The best way to keep it together is to flip it like a pancake but it can be a challenge since it’s much thinner than a pancake.  Don’t despair, it is the taste that counts. 
  3. Since I have so much rosemary in my backyard, I added rosemary for my herbs and a dash of cumin for a little smokiness since I did not run it under the broiler. 
  4. I was able to get 3 soccas out of the mixture. 
Price:  Less than $3 for 3 Soccas







 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Chicken Breast Burger with Poached Eggs

As I mentioned previously, when eating out, I tend to order items that I cannot or find not worth my time to make myself so I can get my money’s worth so to speak and/or try something new.  So my go to brunch items for over a decade had always been some type of eggs benedict as poaching eggs was a skill of mine I was quite skeptical of testing out.  One day I saw Jacques Pepin make it on the Rachael Ray Show and realized it was not hard at all.  Yes, I still get the “spidery legs” from the egg whites which Sara Moulton had a tip for but I am too lazy to pre-strain the loose whites so I just continue with the whirlpool effect and a dash of vinegar.  Either way, I lose some whites anyways.  

So ever since I tried it decently successful for the first time - http://www.cookwithzee.blogspot.com/2014/07/kalua-pork-benedict.html, I have practiced with different types of eggs benedicts, http://www.cookwithzee.blogspot.com/2014/11/take-your-pick-eggs-benedict-kalua-pork.html, topping polenta - http://www.cookwithzee.blogspot.com/2014/10/polenta-with-mushrooms-poached-eggs-and.html, eggplant rounds - http://www.cookwithzee.blogspot.com/2015/03/crispy-eggplant-benedict.html, and now in a sandwich/burger and have not ordered an eggs benedict since. 

My high school friend loves poached eggs even more than I do and ironically neither of us grew up eating much eggs or cooked with them in non-breakfast items.   She ran across this idea over a month ago for me to try and with some minor adjustments, here is poached eggs in a “burger”

Ingredients

6 Burger Buns
2 Chicken Breast butterflied and cut into 3 bun sized pieces
1-2 tomatoes sliced
2 avocados sliced
Sliced Swiss Cheese
6 Eggs
Mayonnaise (optional)

Preparation
 
  1. Poach eggs – see http://www.cookwithzee.blogspot.com/2014/11/take-your-pick-eggs-benedict-kalua-pork.html for directions
  2. While eggs are poaching, grill chicken in a George Forman Grill until done (for about 4 minutes)
  3. Toast your burger buns
  4. Spread mayo on buns if desired, top with chicken, cheese, tomato, avocado, and egg
Notes: 

  1. Dry the poached eggs on a towel before setting in burger
  2. Poke the yolk before eating so it acts like a “glue” for your egg, otherwise, the egg is slippery and can slide off.  Either way have napkins ready if you are picking it up with your hand.  Otherwise, knife and fork works too. 
  3. I have added over medium eggs onto burgers in the past, but this is the first time with poached eggs. 
Price:  $15 for 6 servings = $2.50 a serving 

 
 



Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Zee Saimin Burger

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love Hawai`i especially Maui that I get homesick for the islands when I have to come back home.  You can say I am Hawaiian at Heart, so much so that I stock up every year before leaving Maui so I can have a taste of the islands here in CA until I return. 
 
One of the perks of cooking is being able to enjoy the flavors from around the world through food without having to get on a plane.  Just like last week, Mexico one day, Greece, the next.  So since I get homesick for Hawai`i and am happiest there, it has become my comfort food. 
 
Ramen burger has been the craze for years but I always wonder why not make a Saimin Burger with saimin noodles that are synonymous with Hawai`i.  Add in some Made in Maui ingredients like the Maui Taro Burger and Pickled Pohole Ferns from Maui Preserved and a touch of Spam just because it is practically a Hawaiian staple these days and finally gild the lily as Rachael likes to say by topping it with an egg like a Loco Moco!!  It may seem crazy to have all these different combinations but true to Hawaiian food which is known to be a fusion of flavors that the early migrants brought with them and an attempt at using as many Made in Hawai`i and Farm to Table ingredients, it is a nod to the Hawaiian Regional cuisine as well. 
 
(I am sure someone in Hawai`i has already attempted the Saimin Burger but here is my version and creation from the Mainland)  Introducing Zee Saimin Burger!!
 
Ingredients
 
2 packs of saimin
2 Maui Taro Burgers
2 Eggs for pan frying
1 Egg scrambled to hold the noodle buns together
Maui Preserved Pickled Pohole Ferns
3 Slices of Spam (1 ½ slices per burger)
Olive oil for cooking
 
Preparation
 
  1. Cook the saimin noodles per package instructions
  2. Toss the noodles with the scrambled egg (I only used 1 but if it doesn’t seem to stick, use 2)
  3. Divide the noodle mixture into 4 round bun size containers (I used the plastic ones I got my take out miso soup in) and put in the fridge once it has cooled down a little
  4. Let the noodle and eggs set in fridge for about 30 minutes
  5. Once it has set, heat about 1-2 tbsp of oil in the skillet over medium heat and drop the now pre-formed noodle buns into pan and cook until it has lightly brown on each side (crisp on the outside and still soft on the inside)
  6. At the same time on a separate skillet with another tbsp of oil, heat and brown up the Maui Taro Burgers for 4 ½ minutes on each side
  7. The buns and burgers should take almost the same amount of time so once they are done, remove, cover, and set aside
  8. In the same two skillets, use one to pan fry the Spam slices and the other to pan fry the egg to your preference (over easy, over medium, or over hard)
  9. Assemble your saimin burger (saimin bun, pickled pohole ferns, taro burger, spam, egg, saimin bun)
Notes: 
  1. I get saimin in the Bay Area from either Tokyo Fish Market in Berkeley or Takahashi Market in San Mateo
  2. By using the Maui Taro Burger which is vegan, you don’t have to feel so guilty about the slice of Spam
  3. Maui Taro Burgers are now sold at certain Whole Foods on the Mainland and all over Hawai`i or can be ordered online - http://hawaiitaro.com/
  4. Pickled Pohole Ferns also available all over Hawai`i or online - http://www.mauipreserved.com/
  5. Warning, get those napkins ready as it is super messy but ono!!
Price:  $9.50 for 2 servings = $4.25 a serving 
 


7 Layer Dip's Got Nothing on this 6 Layered Burger
 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Salted Cashew and Milk Chocolate Whippersnapper Cookies

Although I rarely make the title dish, I do tend to find a recipe or two out of every Joanne Fluke mystery book that she has written.  So with the latest Double Fudge Brownie Murder, the Salted Cashew and Milk Chocolate Whippersnapper Cookies was the winner since I love cashews. 
DO NOT preheat your oven quite yet -- this cookie dough needs to chill before baking.
 
1 box (approximately 18 ounces) chocolate cake mix, the size you can bake in a 9-inch by 13-inch cake pan
1 large egg, beaten
2 cups Cool Whip, thawed (measure this – a tub of Cool Whip contains a little over 3 cups and that’s way too much!)
1 cup milk chocolate chips - I used mini morsels
1/2 cup salt cashews, finely chopped (measure AFTER chopping)
1/2 cup powdered (confectioner’s) sugar in a separate small, shallow bowl for rolling dough balls (you don’t have to sift it unless it’s got big lumps)
18 to 24 Maraschino cherries without stems, drained and cut in half - I skipped this
 
Place approximately HALF of the cake mix in a large bowl.
 
Whisk the egg in a medium-size bowl.
 
Stir in the 2 cups of thawed Cool Whip into the egg mixture
 
Add the egg and Cool Whip mixture to the cake mix in the large bowl.  Stir only until everything is combined.  You don’t want to stir all the air out of the Cool Whip.
 
Sprinkle the milk chocolate chips on top.
 
Sprinkle the 1/2 cup of chopped cashews on top of the milk chocolate chips.  Gently stir until they’re combined.  Again, don’t over-stir!
 
Sprinkle in the rest of the cake mix and fold it in with a rubber spatula, stirring only until everything is combined.  The object here is to keep as much air in the batter as possible.  Air is what will make your cookies soft and have that melt-in-your-mouth quality.
 
Hannah's Note:  This dough is very sticky.  It's much easier to work with if you chill it before you try to form the cookies.  Just cover the bowl and stick it in the refrigerator for an hour.
 
When your cookie dough has chilled for an hour, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F., rack in the middle position.  DO NOT take your chilled cookie dough out of the refrigerator until after your oven has preheated to the proper temperature.
 
While your oven is preheating, prepare your cookie sheets by spraying them with Pam or another nonstick baking spray, or lining them with parchment paper and spraying that.
 
When your oven is ready, take your dough out of the refrigerator.  Using a teaspoon from your silverware drawer, drop the dough by rounded teaspoonful into the bowl of powdered sugar.  Roll the dough around with your fingers to form powdered sugar coated cookie dough balls.
 
Place the dough balls on your prepared cookie sheets, no more than 12 cookies for a standard-size sheet.
 
Press a half cherry, rounded side up, on top of each cookie.
 
Hannah’s 2nd Note: Work with only one cookie dough ball at a time.  If you drop more than one in the bowl of powdered sugar, they’ll stick together.
 
Andrea’s Note: Make only as many cookie balls as you can bake at one time and then return the dough to the refrigerator.  I have a double oven so I prepare 2 sheets of Whippersnapper Cookies at once.
 
Bake the Salted Cashew and Milk Chocolate Whippersnapper Cookies at 350 degrees F., for 10 minutes.  Let them cool on the cookie sheets for 2 minutes or so, and then move them to a wire rack to cool completely.  (This is a lot easier if you line your cookie sheets with parchment paper -- then you don’t need to lift the cookies one by one.  All you have to do is grab one end of the parchment paper and pull it, cookies and all, onto the wire rack.)
 
Once the cookies are completely cool, store them between sheets of waxed paper in a cool, dry place.  (Your refrigerator is cool, but it’s definitely not dry!)
 
Yield: 3 to 4 dozen soft, chewy cookies, depending on cookie size.

Note: 

Personally I thought the chopped cashews were overpowered by the chocolate so you may want to place a whole cashew on top of the cookies instead of the maraschino cherry to highlight the nut. 







Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Happy Cinco De Mayo Chicken Enchiladas

Last year’s Cinco De Mayo, my heart just wasn’t into it as I had just lost my aunt and her wake was that night.  So I just barely had it in me to make some beef tacos -


This year I am hoping that it will be a happier one motivating me to make enchiladas even on a Tuesday night.  I haven’t made this since I made them for my best friend and her now husband when they were visiting right before their wedding almost 2 years ago but I hope the second helping was an indication that they enjoyed it. 

Ingredients

12 oz shredded chicken (you can just use rotisserie if you like)
Fresh tomatos
8 Burrito Sized Flour Tortillas (I am going to try using 10 smaller soft taco flour tortillas tonight)
Corn – can or frozen or fresh
1 Large Can of Refried Beans
1 Can of Mild Enchilada Sauce
Cheddar Cheese
1/2 tsp ground oregano
1 tsp salt

Preparation

  1. Combine first chicken, tomatoes, corn, and refried beans with oregano and salt in a bowl 
  2. Put ¼ cup enchilada sauce on bottom of glass Pyrex dish
  3. Add mixture in center of each tortilla and top with 1 tbsp cheddar and roll
  4. Place rolled enchiladas seam side down in glass dish
  5. Pour rest of sauce on top
  6. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes
  7. Uncover, sprinkle some more cheddar on top and bake 5 more minutes
Price:  $9 for 6 servings = $1.50 a serving 

Feel free to try out any of the Mexican or Mexican fusion recipes I have made in the past if you want a twist on a traditional taco or nachos.