Monday, 18 January 2010

Nicoise Salad

Pronounced "nee-swah"

I have this thing for tuna salads i've discovered. But i think it's more than the tuna in the salad that gets to me, it's actually the capers and kalamata olives.

I'm a huge fan of really delicate salads that have something with a bite that is surprising. This salad is classic of that. Here's a simple recipe of my rendition of this salad. Unfortunately I didn't make the dressing for this salad because honestly, i don't use one the capers and olives are salty enough for me. I also eat this salad for lunch, so portions are ultimately up to you.

2 cups of mixed salad greens
1 can of white albacore tuna (although i admit that the pouched tuna tastes better)
1/4 cup of white button mushrooms sliced
1/4 cup of blanched greenbeans (instructions below)
1/2 of a small shallot sliced very very thinly
1 tbsp of capers
as many kalamata olives as you please.
1 hard boiled egg, sliced.

Take all the ingredients and mix in a bowl. easy enough. EAT!

blanching is a skill even i'm trying to perfect. It's all about timing for this. As far as the green beans go, I first cleaned and cut the ends before placing them in boiling water. I only set them in boiling water for 1.5 mins before quickly transferring them to a bowl of ice water. Have all this set up before you start boiling the vegetables. then for the salad, i took the green beans out of the water, pat them dry and then sliced them into thirds.

Mushroom Spinach Israeli Couscous

Please excuse the quality of the photo as it has been taken from my blackberry. How rustic it looks yeah?

Story behind why I'm eating Israeli couscous first!
I went to Trader Joe's last week in order to buy a salad for lunch and came across this amazing TJ's original country chicken cob salad or other.. something like that. It had these great little Israeli couscous pearls and i was instantly hooked! The texture and the size were much more pleasurable to eat than smaller grainier couscous which can get too dry for me sometimes. So i picked up a box and it sat in my cupboard for a week. All i could think about was how i was going to prepare this couscous alone without it being only a side for a salad. All thanks to i found this great recipe that was all in Australian metric measurements so I'll give you my own take and how nicely it turned out. This recipe is also VERY much like a mushroom risotto, so you can definitely try it with Arborio rice.

1 tbsp Olive Oil
3 slices English cut bacon (thicker and no smoke flavor) chopped
1 cup of sliced button mushrooms
4 cloves of minced garlic
1 cup of Israeli (pearl) couscous
1 1/2 cup of chicken stock
handful of fresh spinach
fresh grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste.

Cook the chopped bacon in olive oil over low heat in a medium sized saucepan. As the bottom of the pan starts to brown, move the bacon to the side of the pan and brown the mushrooms. Once the mushroom has finished browning add the garlic and the couscous and cook over medium heat until couscous soaks up all the excess oil. Pour in the chicken stock and bring the pot to a boil. Once boiling, bring to a simmer and cover with a lid for 10 mins. Afterwards, put the fresh spinach inside the couscous and stir until it wilts. Serve immediately with some freshly grated Parmesan or cover and refrigerate.


Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Pumpkin Cupcakes

I love you Martha for being such a model turned housemom who makes delicious pumpking cupcakes.

This recipe is flawlesss

Martha's Pumpkin Cupcakes
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together, brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, and eggs. Add dry ingredients, and whisk until smooth. Whisk in pumpkin puree.
  3. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about halfway. Bake until tops spring back when touched, and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pans once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.

    I'll be adding pictures as soon as i load them on to my computer.  

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Daddy is 57

Sorting out a meal for my pops who turns 57 today.

Menu options so far-

I haven't really tied a theme together so far.. but i'm looking into these things so far:

+ Apple spiced brussel sprouts w/ candied walnuts or pecans
+ Grilled green onion with fresh squeezed lemons
+ Broiled salmon with pesto and toasted pistachios
+ Roasted potatoes patatas bravas style

Maybe i'll try my own version of a tapas style dinner. Sangria et. al.

For certain though, dessert will be coconut cupcakes topped with a cream cheese frosting + toasted almonds. The recipe for the coconut cupcakes is the one from Barefoot Contessa i've been dying to try!

Monday, 24 August 2009

Chipotle Marinated Steak Kebabs

4 large top sirloin steaks
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper

1/2 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup of minced cilantro (coriander)
5 cloves of garlic
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
1/4 tsp paprika
1 tsp red pepper powder
salt and pepper

Wooden skewers

Soak skewers in water.
  1. Begin by chopping the sirloins into 1 1/2 in cubes. Place the steak inside a large zip lock bag.
  2. Inside a food processor place all ingredients for marinade. Blend until smooth and pour into zip lock bag with meat.
  3. Shake the bag around until all the ingredients are well-incorporated. Place in refridgerator for at least 1 hour.
  4. Cut the bell peppers into small 1 1/2 inch squares. Keep the size relative to how you cut the meat.
  5. Assemble the kebabs - meat, bell pepper, meat, bell pepper, then meat again. You can definitely mix and match different vegetables i just prefer these because the colors contrast so well. 
  6. Grill over med-high heat.
Note: I love my food really garlic-y so if you're not so much into garlic just take out a few cloves.

Spanish Rice

Mexican Spanish Rice

2 cups  long grain rice
2 cups of water
1 tbsp butter
3 tomatoes
1/2 onion
3 garlic cloves
salt & pepper
1/4 cup of frozen peas


  1. Quarter the tomatoes and onion and place inside a food blender along with garlic. Blend until a smooth puree. Set aside.
  2. Heat up a large pot with butter. Cook the rice until it has an almost glassy translucency. Once some of the grains start browning pour in the tomato puree along with the water. Salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover for 20 mins.
  4. Once the rice is finished turn off heat and fluff with a fork. Mix the peas into the rice. Let the peas cook in the remaining heat.
If you find the tomatoes to be a bit bland i added about a tablespoon of canned tomato paste. This also helps in making that brilliant orange-red color.

This recipe was courtesy of E. Munoz.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Grandma's 70th Birthday

I've decided to go with a Southwestern inspired menu for my Grandma's 70th birthday dinner party.

On the menu so far -

+ Southwest ranch salad with avocado and grilled corn.
+ Chipotle marinated grilled steak kebabs
+ Spanish rice with peas
+ Fresh guacamole
+ Cornbread from scratch with whipped honey butter

and dessert

completely off kilter but potentially a Green Tea Strawberry Swirl layer cake or a Lemon Tart a la  mode.

We'll see!