Pork with Korean Rice Cakes, Asparagus, Carrots and Spicy Black Bean Sauce

Pork with Korean Rice Cakes, Asparagus, Carrots, and Spicy Black Bean Sauce

The tteokbokki or traditional Korean rice cake noodles used in this dish are a thick, elongated noodle that are soft and chewy and go really well with the ground pork.  The sauce is made with some traditional Korean accompaniments which include soy sauce, gochujang paste, black bean sauce, ginger, and garlic.  You could also use ground beef or ground turkey.  This dish is really quick to put together and packed with flavor.  I added asparagus and carrots for more veggies in the dinner.  Look for the rice cake noodles in an Asian store, or you could use other rice noodles or even fettuccine or rice.  Click here for the recipe….

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe and I have used it for years.  I always use dark brown sugar, add lots of vanilla and always refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes before I bake them. This prevents them from baking flat.  Another tip is not to cream the butter, sugar and eggs too long, but long enough for them to mix together and do not over mix after you add the flour. I usually add pecans or walnuts, but a friend requested some without nuts (they are pictured here) which just isn’t the same!  They have a nice chewy consistency and are dense without being cakey.   I like to use Ghiradelli semi-sweet chocolate chunks, but any chocolate chip is good including white chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, peanut butter chips or peppermint chocolate chips.  Click here for the recipe….

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Carrots with Orange Glaze, Za’atar Spices, Cranberries and Pistashios

Carrots with Orange Glaze, Za’atar Spices, Cranberries and Pistachios

The orange glaze and za’atar spices give these carrots a wonderful sweetness.  I made this dish with fresh rainbow baby carrots that I peeled and cut in half, but you could use regular carrots and cut them in rounds or on the diagonal if you prefer. I made these for Thanksgiving and they are a good side dish because I can make them on the stove when my oven space is at a premium.  All the ingredients can be prepped the day before, and the carrots cook in 5-8 minutes and make a delicious and easy side dish for any meal.  Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice is mix of thyme, sumac, oregano, and sesame seeds, but there are a lot of variations.  Mix orange marmalade, orange juice and zest together for the glaze.  In a skillet, add carrots, glaze mixture, dried cranberries, salt and pepper and a little water.  Put a lid on skillet and cook until the carrots are almost cooked through about 4-5 minutes.  Remove lid and allow the glaze to cook down and evenly coat the carrots.  Sprinkle with toasted and chopped pistachio nuts and serve.  Click here for the recipe….

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Five Spice Chicken with Vermicelli, Mushrooms and Fennel

Five Spice Chicken with Vermicelli, Mushrooms and Fennel

Chinese five spice powder is a wonderful spice combination that has been used for centuries and traditionally has Szechwan peppercorns, star anise, cloves, cinnamon and anise or fennel seeds that are ground into a complex spice mix.  You can find it at most grocery stores. The chicken is served over rice vermicelli (noodles), but if you don’t have them on hand, you can use spaghetti, fettuccine or angel hair pasta, or even serve the chicken over rice.  The chicken is sprinkled with the five spice powder and cooked and set aside.  The veggies cook together quickly and you sauté green onion, garlic, ginger, mushrooms, collard greens, fennel and when they have browned, make a sauce with hoisin and soy sauce.  It makes a delicious and healthy week night dinner and takes less than 30 minutes to cook, always a plus.  Click here for recipe….

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Chocolate Hazelnut Thumbprint Cookies with Caramel

Chocolate Hazelnut Thumbprint Cookies with Caramel

These chocolate hazelnut thumbprint cookies with caramel centers and drizzled with chocolate will be a big hit at any cookie exchange or dessert table.  The chocolate cookie has a nice crisp bite and when you roll the chocolate balls in hazelnuts, they become nice and toasted after baking.  The soft caramel centers are a perfect combo with the chocolate and hazelnuts. I unwrapped caramels and melted them with a little heavy cream for the centers and spooned them into the thumbprint center when the cookies came out of the oven.  When the cookies had completely cooled, I melted some chocolate chips in a baggie, cut a little end off and drizzled it over the tops of the cookies.  I wish I had one of these cookies now!  Click here for the recipe….

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Japanese Chicken Tenders with Lemon Sauce

Japanese Chicken Tenders with Lemon Sauce

Sometimes you just crave something fried and this is really good to make without having to get a deep fryer out. It’s also quick to cook because the chicken tenders have no bones and the pieces are smaller than a whole chicken breast which takes longer to cook. I used chicken tenders because they are usually all the same size and you don’t have to cut anything, but you can also use chicken breasts and cut them into equal strips.  I combined flour and buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk you can use milk or half and half and add a teaspoon of white vinegar and let it sit for 5 minutes) with some salt and pepper and dipped the chicken in the batter and fried it in a skillet with an inch of canola oil.  To make the glaze you combine honey, soy sauce, pineapple juice, brown sugar, lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, pepper and garlic powder in a small saucepan cook until slightly thickened, about 10-12 minutes.  After the chicken is cooked, just pour the glaze over.  I served it with some Japanese sticky rice and some quickly sauteed snap peas.  Click here for the recipe….

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Citrus Salad over a Bed of Arugula with a Date and Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette, Almonds, and Picholine Olives

Citrus Salad over a bed of Arugula with a Date and Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette, Almonds, and Picholine Olives
Citrus Salad over a bed of Arugula with a Date and Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette, Almonds, and Picholine Olives

I made this salad to serve alongside a middle Eastern lamb dish I made and it was just right with the acidity and tartness paired of the oranges with the rich rack of lamb.  I couldn’t find blood oranges in the store which would have been pretty, but I got several kinds of oranges and mixed them all together.  I found some delicious date and fig mustard at Granville Island market and used it to make a vinaigrette, but you could also use apple cider vinegar, white balsamic or even rice vinegar. I lightly tossed some arugula with the dressing and plated it and then added the oranges and sprinkled toasted almonds, thinly sliced shallots, and sliced picholine olives to complete the salad.  Click here for recipe….

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Moroccan Braised Lamb Shanks with Quince and Couscous with Apricots, Mint, Cilantro, Parsley and Fried Shallots

Moroccan Braised Lamb Shanks with Quince Served with Couscous with Apricots, Mint, Cilantro, Parsley and Fried Shallots
Moroccan Braised Lamb Shanks with Quince Served with Couscous with Apricots, Mint, Cilantro, Parsley and Fried Shallots

Quince

Saffron

Saffron

My friend has a quince tree that was brimming with ripe quince and he brought me a bag of this beautiful fruit from his backyard.  Quince is a fall fruit and resembles an apple or Asian pear, but it is quite bitter and a little chalky in texture.  It makes a wonderful jam and the flavor is really brought out with slow cooking and a little sugar with almost a sweet perfume quality.  I decided to make Moroccan Braised Lamb Shanks with Quince because stewing brings out the best flavors in both the lamb and the quince.  The dish was also enhanced by a beautiful gift of saffron he brought me back from his trip to the Middle East – a perfect gift for someone like me who loves to cook!  Saffron is one of the most expensive spices in the world because the stigmas are picked by hand from the crocus flower.  It takes 75,000 blossoms or 225,000 to make a single pound!  It has a slightly honey-sweet hay taste and imparts a beautiful yellow-orange hue to the dish so this lamb was extra special.  You brown the lamb shanks with an onion, and add garlic, coriander, ginger, cinnamon a touch of tomato paste, lemon peel, beef stock, saffron, honey and quince and braise it in the oven for several hours.  To finish the dish, you add some fresh lemon juice and I garnished it with fresh cilantro which brings some fresh vibrancy to the stewed dish.  I served Couscous with Apricots, Mint, Cilantro, Parsley and Fried Shallots alongside and it made a delicious side dish.  A wonderful fall stew with a fruit you don’t often think about pairing with a hearty lamb dish. Click here for the recipe….

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Rack of Lamb with Chermoula and Preserved Lemon with Roasted Fennel and Beets

Rack of Lamb with Chermoula and Preserved Lemon with Roasted Fennel and Beets, Pistachios, and Pomegranates
Rack of Lamb with Chermoula and Preserved Lemon with Roasted Fennel and Beets, Pistachios, and Pomegranates

This is now one of my favorite ways to cook rack of lamb, and the chermoula with the preserved lemon really makes a delicious marinade and sauce for the lamb.  I usually make my own preserved lemons which are really easy and take about a month to preserve, but didn’t have any homemade on hand, so I bought a jar.  I removed the pulp from the rind and chopped the rind to add to the chermoula and wanted to keep it in small pieces instead of pureeing it down with the herbs that went into the sauce for texture.  There are hundreds of ways to make chermoula, but it is usually a mix of fresh herbs, garlic, spices, and vinegar.  I made this chermoula in a my mini food processor with fresh cilantro and parsley, and added cumin, smoked paprika, coriander, cayenne, lemon zest and juice, garlic, olive oil, a touch of honey and preserved diced lemon rind at the end.  I browned the rack of lamb in a skillet with salt and pepper and allowed it to cool a little while I prepped the vegetables. I bought 3 different kinds of beets and quartered them along with 2 bulbs of fennel. I also quartered and a large onion and tossed it with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic.  I put them on a large baking sheet and set the rack of lamb on top and brushed the top with half of the chermoula and roasted it in a 450 degree oven for 15 minutes.  I tossed the vegetables and continued roasting it until the internal temperature of the lamb was 120 degrees so it was medium rare which I think is the only way to eat lamb.  Remove lamb and tent lightly with foil and continued roasting the vegetables until they are nicely browned and cooked through.  To serve, I tumbled all the roasted vegetables onto a serving platter, placed the rack of lamb on top and brushed the lamb with a little more of the chermoula before garnishing the dish with pomegranate seeds, roasted pistachios and fresh cilantro.  I made a quick yogurt sauce with garlic, lemon zest and juice and drizzled it over the dish and served more chermoula alongside the lamb.  Love, love, love!  Click here for recipe….

 

 

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Roasted Acorn Squash with Miso Glaze

Roasted Acorn Squash with Miso Glaze
Roasted Acorn Squash with Miso Glaze

Roasted Acorn Squash with Miso Glaze

This roasted acorn squash with miso glaze is a great side dish and as the squash pieces  brown, the glaze sweet becomes sweet with a salty, nutty ~umami flavor that is delicious.

Miso is a thick paste made from fermented soybeans, salt and a koji mold.  It is used in Japanese soups, salad dressing, marinades and sauces and comes in several different varieties from white to yellow to dark brown. Koji is a key ingredient in miso and is a microbe that is mixed with partially cooked rice and has a nutty, floral, sweet woodsy fragrance.  When it has bloomed, it is gathered and mixed with soybeans to continue the fermentation process for miso.  Koji is also used to make soy sauce and sake.  Miso has a salty-sweet taste and look for miso that has not been pasteurized so it still contains healthy, enzyme rich microorganisms for your gut. You can find it in the refrigerator aisle and it contains all essential amino acids and is loaded with vitamin B12.  Keep it tightly sealed and it will last in the refrigerator for months. I also like to make a miso salad dressing similar to the ones they often serve in Japanese restaurants with garlic, ginger, rice vinegar and sesame oil.  To make the miso glaze, mix up some miso with ginger, sake, rice vinegar, soy, and a little brown sugar and brush it over the squash.  I like to line a baking tray with foil or parchment because the glaze can be a little sticky as it browns.  The glaze is also good brushed on kabocha, butternut squash or sliced eggplant and makes a great glaze for salmon or chicken.  click here for the recipe….

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