Tuesday, November 30, 2010

homemade yogurt

This post is dedicated to Deeba at Passionate about Baking. She is an amazing cook, photographer, and blogger, who has inspired me a lot. She has great ideas for fruity, creamy, or chocolately desserts. And she makes her own cheeses and yogurts, and she's answered lots of questions from me about how to do these things. Thank you, Deeba!

At each stage of the cooking journey I have found that I am surprised at how easy a recipe or meal often is, especially those which seemed particularly tough previously. When I started to cook for myself as an adult I realised that many of the meals I had eaten at home were within my skills as a beginning cook. I had two cookbooks and a cooking notebook with some of my Mother's recipes, and I noticed that successful meals were as easy as following directions. And since starting this food blog, I have learned that making homemade risotto is quite simple, from-scratch Caesar salad is basic, and even making my own mayonnaise is not that hard.

Given all this, I was still blown away by how easy it is to make yogurt in my own kitchen. I have done it five times in the last five weeks--each time is has taken less than ten minutes.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

kiflice, Serbian mini cheese rolls

November's Fresh from the Oven challenge was these inventive cheese rolls called kiflice, from Serbia. Chosen by Maja from Cooks and Bakes, they are a yeasted mini bun that encloses a cottage cheese filling. For my version, I made a whole wheat dough and used onion and chive cottage cheese for the filling. The buns are glazed with milk and egg yolk, and, just for more shiny goodness, the baking pan is covered in dots of margerine. All this makes for a rich, cheesy snack.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

citrus mascarpone crostata

The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.

Crostata is an Italian tart made with a sweet short crust pasty and it can be filled with pastry cream or fruit. It's as easy to make as pie, and the pastry is delicious. (If I had any leftover pastry I would have made it into cookies.) I made my version with a mascarpone filling.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

a salad plate for lunch

When Anthony and I lived in London, we regularly travelled up to visit his family in Liverpool. His Nan would make us cold dinner plate so that we could have it whenever we arrived from the train. It included a little dollop of potato salad, coleslaw, some sliced tomatoes and cucumber, and a few slivers of sandwich meat, all on top of a couple of iceberg lettuce leaves. The more Ant's Nan got to know me, the salad plates evolved. Soon they also included organic walnuts and sliced avocado. And I managed to royally insult her lettuce leaves--by accident, I swear!--one day.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Persian chicken with saffron rice pilaf

I accidentally bought chicken thighs recently when I was expecting chicken breasts. But no matter, lots of chicken recipes can be made with either kind. Lots of recipes are actually better with thighs, since they are juicier. This Persian chicken recipe was a tasty dinner, and we ate it with peas with yogurt and crunchy bits.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Easy (and Quick) Chicken Dhansak

Ever noticed how a lot of stew or curry recipes finish with the instruction "simmer for 30/60/90 minutes"? On a busy weeknight, I just don't seem to have time for a long cooking stew recipe. But I've discovered there are two easy ways to speed up a recipe such as this chicken dhansak, a tasty Persian curry.

There are two reasons to simmer at the end of the recipe. One is to thoroughly cook the meat or other ingredients, so that it finishes meltingly tender. This is the case for a lamb stew or beef bourguignon. The second reason is to meld the flavours together as, for example, with chilli con carne. With chicken dhansak, both of these reasons come into play. Although the chicken cooks quickly, the lentils and winter squash need a long simmer to be cooked. And the flavours need to mix and deepen over time.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

formula one pasta with lemon and parsley

The final race of the Formula One season was on Sunday. I love the thrill of the overtaking, the strategy of the teams, the engineering genius, and the team work that is required to race well. One day I hope I get to see a Grand Prix in person, perhaps next year in Shanghai or Singapore. Then I will be a true "muffler bunny." :)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

watercress and chive souffle

Do you feel as though you learn something new every day? I often look for something new and try to pick up a new word, or try a new thing at work, or a new idea through my cooking. Joining a few blogging events groups has helped me learn new things in the kitchen. Thinking back, I was really pleased to learn how to make different nut butters, sweet potato falafel, and tiramisu through the Daring Cooks and Daring Bakers. And souffle is surely a challenging new thing, so I was thrilled when Dave and Linda from Monkeyshines in the Kitchen chose souffl├ęs as our November 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

light chicken laksa

Sometimes it really is better to be late than never. For example, the first time I was going to meet my new boss I got stuck in a rain storm (it was Amber Rain, in my defense) and I arrived 45 minutes late. Mortified, and dripping from head to toe, I went in to meet him--and was greeted with a massive smile and a firm handshake. I'm glad I persevered through the downpour.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

herbed spelt popovers

These little gems turn a slightly skimpy lunch or dinner into a satisfying meal. They are very similar to whole wheat gems in that they are easy to make, healthy, and a great addition to a slightly undersized meal. What makes these popovers enjoyable for me is that they use spelt flour. Spelt flour is high in protein and low GI, so after eating these you feel fuller longer. Spelt has a mild, nutty taste and spelt flour is usually available at large grocery stores. (Information for Hong Kong residents: I bought mine at CitySuper.)

So, get yourself some spelt flour and try out these popovers; they're a good introduction to the grain. Or use whole wheat flour instead. Either way, lunch is better with popovers on the side.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Moroccan style peas with yogurt and crunchy bits

A side dish that makes the meal.... I served this little peas and crunchy stuff combination with Persian chicken and saffron rice. It's a Jamie Oliver recipe, adapted, of course. Jamie's original recipe uses fava (lima) beans. But peas are more readily available to me--and to you, I imagine. The peas are paired with mint, lemon, crunchy fried breadcrumbs, and onion, and then served with creamy yogurt as well. Any recipe that turns plain old peas into a delectable dish is worth saving. Try it tonight with your dinner and let me know what you think.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

weekend links #9

food links:
--McDonald's in Hong Kong is set to offer wedding packages starting in 2011 (from The Independent). Couples will kiss over a portion of French fries. Really.
--How to eat to avoid energy slumps (from Lifehacker). Useful advice.
--How to increase students' purchase of healthy food in the school cafeteria (from the New York Times).
--A book called The Geometry of Pasta--very distinctive graphic design. Love it.

recipe links:
--Lentil and Lemon soup; sounds delcious (from Orangette via The Kitchn).
--Lebanese pumpkin kibbeh (from Strawberry Pepper). This is a baked main dish with layers of bulgur, spinach, pumpkin and chickpeas. It sounds delicious and different.
--Absolutely delicious looking beetroot and ginger brownies (from Girl Interrupted Eating). Yum, yum.

off-topic links:
--Vending machines that grow vegetables for restaurants (from Re-Nest).
--Is it more green to use paper cups or reusable at church coffee time? Interesting comments on the ethics of energy (from Hey, Mr Green).

Friday, November 5, 2010

broccoli and almond soup

Anthony has started to make fun of me when we eat out. Whatever the restaurant, I always choose soup and salad. Italian, Chinese, Mediterranean, or fusion menus, it's always the same for me. I choose a bowl of warm veggies complemented by a side of veggies! I can't help it if I know what I like.

Even if you are not veggie mad, as I am, soup is a great way to enjoy vegetables. Innovative pairings such as broccoli and almonds make it fun to try new soups.


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