Sunday, February 27, 2011

Asian Salmon with Fried (Brown) Rice

Asian Cuisine is probably my favorite. I love the culture and the history behind the food. They are masters of flavors, truly genius people, who passed down recipes from centuries ago. And religion plays a big part in how they eat. For the Daoists, Yin and Yang balance in all food is very important. The 5 Tastes are also important--sweet, sour, spicy, bitter, salty. Go here for more details.
So, I wanted to make salmon, for some reason I was craving it, even though it isn't my favorite fish in the sea. But I guess my body needed some Omega-3s. Those are the healthy fats your body needs. They are found in avocados, dark chocolate, fatty fish, some nuts and nut oils. If you are feeling down, you should add more of these to your diet, because it reduces depression.
So all of you people who think food is just something that doesn't matter, or doesn't affect you, think again. What you eat now will directly affect your body in the near future. It's not just eating healthy that's important, it is knowing WHY you need to eat healthy that makes a difference. If you are interested in being healthy and learning new things about food and the way it affects your body, check out My Food Pyramid.

I decided to treat Jen (I make my friend's lunches $6 each) with a delicious meal. She very much enjoyed it too! Excellent!

Asian Salmon
2 salmon filets
1/4 c low sodium soy sauce
2T rice wine vinegar
1.5 T miso paste (optional)
drizzle sesame oil
grated ginger (or very finely chopped)
1 clove minced garlic
chopped green onion sprinkle of brown sugar

1. Mix all ingredients, except salmon, in a bowl. Place salmon in a large plastic bag (or two small separate) and pour marinade over top. Make sure all of the salmon is covered with marinade. Set salmon in a small bowl so it doesn't leak and put in fridge for 30 minutes.
2. Preheat broiler to 400 degrees. Place a piece of foil on a baking sheet. Take out salmon with tongs, and shake off excess sauce. Place on foil. With a fork or spoon, or even the end of the tongs, take out the garlic, ginger, and green onions from the marinade and place on top of the salmon. (just try not to get too much of the sauce with it). Place fish in oven for about 20-30 minutes. 
3. Every 5 minutes, spoon some of the marinade over the top of the fish. The fish will be done when it is firm like a pound cake and the outside is crispy.

Veggie Fried Brown Rice
3-4 c precooked (day old, optional) brown rice, you want it to be a little dry so it doesn't turn out mushy like mine did
frozen mixed veggies
broccoli (cut small)
green onions
1 egg
soy sauce
ginger, optional
garlic, optional
1 tsp sugar
2T soy sauce
drizzle sesame oil
any other green veggie you want

1. Because I have only made fried rice once in my life, and it was this time, and I slightly failed at it, I will give you a BASIC fried rice recipe that will satisfy all of your needs. All you need to do is add the veggies (like broccoli) to the pan and cook a bit before you add the egg. You may also add the ginger and/or garlic when the veggies have cooked for 2-3minutes. You want the vegetables to be slightly cooked, but still crunchy throughout. Push veggies to the side and scramble the egg in the bottom of the pan. Add the rice, sugar, soy, sesame, green onions. Stir and cook for a few more minutes. But if you can't figure it out go here.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sweet, Sweet Valentine's Day!

I traveled back to Roswell to spend time with my mother and make delicious sweets!

Oh! They're so cute!

 They're also cute on this plate!
 And they're cute over here...
 And singularly!

Recipe coming soon! Enjoy!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Sopa de Pollo

Actually craving it as I write...
For some reason, the flavors of Mexico are soothing to me. I know the reason. My mother, whilst I was in the midst of her belly, ate a plethora of foods, from none other than the neighborhood Mexican restaurant. Now, maybe I'm stretching the truth a bit here when I say that it was a weekly outing for her, but I do know that once I was out of said womb, it was a weekly ritual to join friends at Cazadores on Friday night.

I know some of you cringe at the thought of American-Mexican food, and I concur that the state of Mexican food in this country is unjustly represented, but hear me out. My sister just LOVES the queso. It is always a perfect, unassuming bowl of cheese dip they fling on the table just scalding hot from the microwave, but it is also more than that. Then there's the Child's Plate No. 3 (my childhood favorite): a cheese quesadilla with bean instead of rice, please. But it's more than that. Then there's longer on the menu, but always a GREAT standby. But it's more than that. Chile Verde, favorite meal to share with Dad. Taco salad, on lighter days. Nachos Supreme when I was in my prime. And chicken soup.

Little Sopa de Pollo, over there on the bottom of the left hand side of the menu, I see you. I see how (yet again) unassuming and simple you are. But ah! here is the perk of being a Regular. A perfect meal, but it's more than that. Those dishes really bring me back to childhood and the nostalgic reality of life. I try to go to Cazadores every time I'm home, but sometimes I don't make it. On my last trip, we ordered ToGo and I was about to leave to come back to my apartment. I got chicken soup. I was lost in my thoughts while I hastily gobbled down chunks of chicken and avocado. The perfect meal after an 8 hour car ride when you want something light. The perfect way to lift your spirits on a cold winter day. The perfect accompaniment to a long, sickly day spent on the couch. Why can't I make this? It felt like an epiphany. I mean sure, I can make a MEAN carnita and all the enchiladas in the world but THIS? Of course, it is REALLY REALLY simple.

Sopa de Pollo
shredded chicken from 2 cooked chicken breasts or meat from a rotisserie chicken
one-two boxes low sodium chicken broth
cooked brown rice (1-1.5c uncooked)
Pico de Gallo (make your own by FINELY chopping 2:2:1:1 onions:tomatoes:jalepeno:cilantro)
1-2 avocado, depending on taste
chopped green pepper (my addition)

1. Cook brown rice according to the instructions on the package. Shred chicken into bite-sized pieces. Heat up in a saucepan with the chicken broth. 
2. Meanwhile, chop all your veggies. Slice the limes for juicing. Squeeze some lime on avocado so it doesn't brown.
3. When the broth is heated, scoop a bit of rice in your bowl, then some chicken and broth, then add all other ingredients. Squeeze fresh lime on top.
Great with a cheese quesadilla on the side.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pork Gyoza

For those of you who have never been to the wonderful land of Dim Sum, I pity you. You may not know, but you've missed out on the most wonderful food of your life. Don't fret, I'm here to help
I've only made gyoza (dumplings) on a handful of occasions, but that's enough times to know how to make them correctly and incorrectly.
Now you might be wondering, "Aren't pot stickers really difficult to master?" I will answer No. Maybe your first 25 dumplings wont look the greatest, but they will taste delicious!
Asian food is to me as Soul Food is to the south. It's what I crave, it's what I want on a perfectly rainy Sunday afternoon, and it's the only thing I want when I'm sick.
Now, you might look at the recipe and freak out at the list of ingredients, but honestly, you'll love these SO MUCH that you'll want to make them all the time. Those ingredients like Fish Sauce, Rice wine Vinegar (probably the most useful ingredient you'll have to buy for this) and Sesame Oil will probably not get used as frequently as you wish, but you should try to experiment with them. I use Sesame Oil on numerous things to finish them off.  Maybe add it to your favorite marinade for a new twist...

Pork Gyoza/Dumplings/Pot stickers
somewhere between 1/2 and whole pound of ground pork (as lean as you can find)
(For a vegetarian option, use sauteed cabbage)
sauteed spinach, finely chopped and squeezed in a paper towel to get out extra moisture
2 green onions
thumb-sized piece of ginger
2-3 garlic cloves minced and mashed
Few dashes of Fish Sauce
2 tsp sugar
2Tbls soy sauce
1 tsp rice vine vinegar
round wonton wrappers
Dipping Sauce
soy sauce
sesame oil
rice wine vinegar

1. Get out the wonton wrappers to thaw (if they are the frozen kind). Start by finely chopping all veggies and grating the ginger on a micro plane. Mix all ingredients into the pork and set aside to marinate for 30 minutes.
2. Set up a workstation with a cutting board in front of you, the bowl of pork near your working hand, and get a small bowl of water for your fingers. Unwrap the wrappers and lay a damp paper towel on top.
3. Start with one wrapper in your hand and with the other hand, grab a very small (about a small teaspoon size, you might want to measure first to get the feel) amount of pork mixture. Place it into the center of the wonton wrapper. With the same hand that grabbed the pork, dab your finger into the water and run it around all the edges of the wonton wrapper, making sure every part is moistened. Then bring together two opposite edges of the wrapper, pressing to seal. Starting on the right side, bring the front part of the wrapper towards the center, making a pleat, and press to seal. You should have room for about two-three pleats before you get to the corners. When I get to the corners, I push the very end in towards the center and press to seal. Repeat on the other side. While making these, since you are taking more wrapper from the front side, your dumpling will start to shape like a half-moon. Keep working till you run out of pork and/or pot stickers.
4. Heat a large, flat skillet on medium and spray with good amount of oil. Place filled dumplings onto the  hot pan and cook until the bottoms turn brown (you can lift them up to peek). Then add about a 1/4-1/3 cup water to the pan and cover quickly with a lid. Steam pot stickers until they are cooked through and most of the water is cooked off. (Note: the wrappers may look transparent when cooked completely) You might have to try one to see!  :]
5. For the sauce, start with about 1/3 c soy sauce, drizzle in 1 tsp sesame oil and 1 tsp rice wine vinegar. Garnish sauce with chopped green onions.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The College Cook, An Entrepreneur

It's never enough to just love to cook. It helps if you love to give. That way, both parties benefit. But why not reap more benefits? Say we throw money into the situation...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Vanilla Roasted Pears

While looking at my favorite place to find recipes,, I stumbled upon these roasted pears. And can I just tell you that they are such a wonderful dessert if you are watching your figure. (and even if you aren't!) They are so easy to make and would be great for a large dinner party.
This works for ripe pears and under ripe pears alike. Maybe it is better if the pears a slightly under ripe so they hold up to the baking, but I've had fine results either way. These pears would be AWESOME dolloped with whipped cream or with a serving of vanilla icecream. pears and cold vanilla icecream!

Vanilla Roasted Pears
2-4 pears, depending on the serving size and amount of people
2 Tbls fresh lemon juice
2Tbls water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 Tbls brown sugar or splenda
2 Tbls unsalted butter

1. Preheat oven to 375. Peel and core pears, also removing the stems from the inside (you can leave some outside stems for decoration.) Squeeze lemon, add water and stir in splenda (not brown sugar, if using) and vanilla.
2. Pour this mixture over pears, coating every crevice. If using brown sugar, add on top of the pears (cut side up) after they are coated with the liquid.
3. Dot with equal pieces of  butter. Cook for 30 minutes on each side, every fifteen minutes or so baste with the liquid that runs off of the pears.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Tilapia with Spinach Salad

It's nice to switch it up a bit, especially if "switching it up" means buying fish instead of chicken and beef. There's really not much else to say about this dish besides it's deliciousness...
So my favorite part about this dish is how the flavors all work together. First of all, spinach and cranberries were a match made in heaven! Secondly, and most importantly, goat cheese goes perfectly well with a light, mellow fish such as tilapia. I once saw on a show, and have made it myself, tilapia with goat cheese pucks, where both were breaded and pan fried then served on a bed of spinach. YUM!
Yesterday I found myself at Your Dekalb Farmer's Market in North Decatur and I had the most spectacular time! They had large tanks packed with live tilapia and catfish and blue crabs. BUT I didn't want to reach my hand in and grab a whole fish (they don't let you do that anyways) and there was a long line at the fish counter so I grabbed some at Publix on the way home. 

Tilapia with Spinach Salad
1-2 Tilapia filets
1/2 c flour (I used whole-wheat of course) seasoned with salt and pepper
3-4 Tbls veg oil
baby spinach
handful of walnuts (toasted) and craisins
1-2 oz goat cheese
Newman's Own Oil and Vinegar Dressing

1. Heat oil in a large skillet. Combine flour with salt and pepper on a plate. Run the filets under water and shake off excess. Coat with flour on the plate. 
2. Once the skillet it hot, cook the tilapia for about 4-5 minutes on each side (depending on the thickness). While it is cooking, mix together the salad. Break up small chunks of goat cheese on top or mix in.
3. Take out fish, sprinkle with more salt (if desired) and serve on top or along side the salad.