Friday, November 27, 2009

Chicken and Dumplings

A few weeks ago, one of my friends, Danni, got appendicitis. A group of us went down to visit her in the hospital. It was fairly late, our bus wasn't arriving for another 45 minutes and we were starving so we headed down to the hospital food service area. They had some soup and dumplings. Personally I only got a single dumpling and some gravy which fetched an odd look from our cashier. The dumpling was split between 3 people and was so yummy that I just had to go back for more. Who would have known a lump of dough could be so tasty?

For Chicken Soup
  • cooked chicken carcass 
  • 1/2 onion, roughly chopped
  • 5 cups boiling water
  • 2 celery stalks, 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 large carrot, 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 t dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
For Dumplings
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 T baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 c milk
  1. In a large saucepan, start heating up the chicken pieces, letting it get aromatic along with the onions. Cook for about 5 minutes, the onions don't have to be soft yet.
  2. Add the 5 cups of water to the chicken, and celery, carrots,  thyme and salt and pepper. Simmer for at least 30 minutes. 
  3. While the stock is cooking, start making the dumpling dough. Mix all the dry ingredients together, and then the butter, and slowly mix in the milk until it forms a dough. Knead the dough maybe 8 times. Form the dough into 1.5 inch diameter balls. Set aside.
  4. When the broth has finished simmering, fish out the chicken carcass pieces. Pick off any remaining meat and place in the broth. The broth should still have onion, carrot, and celery pieces.
  5. Place the dough balls into the simmering water and place a lid on the pan. Do not open for at least 15 minutes as the dough is cooking in the steam. When the dumplings are ready they should float to the top, enlarged and fluffy. Check to make sure the insides are cooked by inserting a toothpick. If they are not done, cook for another 5-10 minutes with the lid on.
  6. When the dumplings are ready, serve the soup and dumplings together immediately.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Salmon Provencal

This is what fresh fish should taste like. Simple but beautifully soft and succulent.
I got the recipe from Simply Recipes but again I made a few modifications.

  • 2 Fresh Salmon Fillets
  • Olive oil for baking Salmon
  • 2 T Olive Oil
  • 1 T Balsamic Vinegar
  • Juice of 1/2 Lemon
  • 1/2 t Dried Thyme
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 Springs Green Onion, chopped
  • 1 Medium Tomato, diced
  • 1 Garlic Clove, minced
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  2. Place the salmon on a greased baking dish, drizzling olive oil on the fish. Salt and pepper to taste.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the 2 Tablespoons of oil with the balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, and thyme. Squeeze a few drops of lemon juice onto the salmon.
  4. Place the salmon in the oven for 10-12minutes, until pink and just barely cooked through. There may be some cooked fat collecting around the salmon.
  5. Serve the fish immediately topped with the green onions, tomatoes, and garlic and then the oil, balsamic mixture drizzled on top. Garnish with a lemon slice. 
  6. Goes well over a bed of pasta, rice, or spinach.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Lemon Butter Prawn Pasta

I happened to have all the ingredients on hand so this was a delicious midnight snack after playing pool at the pub. It's incredibly easy to put together, I think it took me 15 minutes total. But it's also a recipe that demands top-notch ingredients.

I got the recipe from bbc , I changed it a little bit which I'll just retype here. 
  • small handful of linguine or spaghetti (enough for 1)
  • 1/4 c butter
  • 1/2 c raw peeled prawns , preferably tiger prawns
  • squeeze lemon juice
  • small handful flatleaf parsley , roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper
  1. Prepare your pasta according to the package directions.
  2. When your pasta is nearly done, melt half your butter on low heat in a saucepan, then saute your prawns in the butter for about 1.5 min. 
  3. Squeeze your lemon over the shrimp, and add the parsley and remaining butter. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook for another minute.
  4. Take the shrimp off the heat immediately and try one to see if it's at the right consistency for you. Better to start off undercooking than to end up with rubbery expensive seafood.
  5. If it's to your satisfaction just pour the entire prawn butter concoction over your pasta and enjoy!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Apple Turnovers

Well first off, college kitchens are not conducive to baking. I ended up making these turnovers without a rolling pin, pastry brush, or more importantly an oven. Instead, I made due with a good deal of palm pressing, a wooden spoon, and a microwave oven with an oven setting. Okay, so they ended up a bit underdone, but I blame the microwave oven.

  • 1 large granny smith apple
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Hopefully, you got a sheet of puff pastry and not a block of it. If you did get a block, roll it out into a square like shape of about 14x14 inches (or larger) The dough should be 1/4" thick. Cut the dough into 4 7x7 inch squares
  3. Cut the apple into thin wedges, the apple should make about 16. Coat these wedges in a mixture of the sugar and cinnamon. Make sure they are well covered.
  4. Scramble the egg in a small bowl, and using a fork.
  5. Brush the egg onto the edges of each of the puff pastry squares with a pastry brush.
  6. Place 4 or so wedges onto each square. 
  7. Now fold the squares over diagonally, to make little triangular turnovers. Be sure get all the apple within them, and then pinch the edges close.
  8. Place the turnovers in the baking dish
  9. Brush the tops of the turnovers with the egg wash, and cut 2-3 slits on the tops of the turnovers for steam to come out.
  10. Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Serve immediately

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Simple Lasagna

Mmm. I think we all crave a good cheesy lasagna every now and again. My flatmates had just brought back two huge lasagnas in a row from home, and I decided to make my own. The one problem with lasagna is that they come in huge boxes of like 20+ noodles, and you can never use them all up, without having to buy another box. This recipe is really quick for a lasagna recipe. Makes a 9x9 pan.

  • 8 Lasagna Noodles
  • 1 lb Ground Beef
  • 2 T ketchup
  • 1 T mixed herbs
  • 2 T fresh parsley
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
  • 4 cups store-bought pasta sauce
  • 3 large tomatoes, sliced
  1. Start off by soaking the lasagna noodles in hot water for about 15 minutes.
  2. Mix the ground beef with the ketchup, herbs, parsley, and salt and pepper. 
  3. Brown the beef mixture with the onion in a frying pan for about 7 minutes until the meat gets dark, and the pan is full of juices.
  4. Place four of the lasagna noodles in a layer on the bottom of your lasagna pan.
  5. Spread half the ricotta cheese on the noodles, and then half the meat fry. Top with 2 cups of pasta sauce and half of the mozzarella cheese.
  6. Repeat with the remaining ingredients
  7. Top the entire thing with the tomato slices and place in the oven at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

Monday, November 16, 2009


I'm finally putting that absolutely lovely gift basket of bento supplies into good use.   THANK YOU AGAIN!! ♥ it was like finding a baby on the porch...only much quieter and less worrying. ;D

My favorite online bento resources:
Lunch in a Box -- the emphasis on food safety, healthy cooking, and speed-packing are ♥
Just Bento and Just Hungry -- same owner, similar excellent material; special emphasis on diet/healthy bento
Cooking Cute -- one of the first sites I found; sadly inactive for more than a year now, but still full of useful info, some neat recipes, and lovely pictures
Freakin' Tasty Bento -- this is actually a link to a specific entry: "Bento for Cheap Bastards"; it's a nice little reality check with practical advice :)

all links in food item names go to recipes~

Bento 1!
Top (actually it's the bottom compartment, haha~): white rice (sprinkled w/ green onions post-photo)
Bottom: mini banana-choco muffin; dried mango slices; mock-Italian hamburger halves; balsamic-stir fried bell peppers

(sad story: I flipped it off the table while I was eating, so the mini-muffin and some of the mango slices became not-edible ;-;  oh well.)

Bento 2!
Left: Curry-fried rice -- heat leftover curry in frying pan, add rice, heat thoroughly and stir until fairly dry; there was a layer of plastic wrap b/t the rice and the container so it wouldn't be as smelly :P
Right: Trader Joe's gyoza over spinach; one slice of dried mango; chocolate mochi squares; fruit jelly cups

Bento 3!
This is the triangular onigiri case~ :)
Top: Soboro-stuffed onigiri (soboro is easy!  awesomely tasty!  eat it with plain rice for dinner!)
Bottom: Hard boiled egg (not cut very cleanly..>_>;;), blanched snow peas
the persimmon is table decoration :P

Bento 4!
Left: blanched bok choy stalks and leaf-rosette; tamagoyaki w/ nori filling; leftover pasta and sauce
Right: gingersnap halves; dried mango slices; fruit jelly cup; frozen-then-reheated curry-flavored beef and potato croquettes

Bento 5!  BIG (3-person) picnic lunch~
Top: Soboro-stuffed (rounds w/ seaweed wrap), plain rice onigiri (triangles); chicken; zucchini
Bottom: dessert tray; balsamic green beans and red bell pepper pieces

Lemon Chicken Nuggets and Pan-fried Zucchini (used Country Crock margarine--ahahaha yeah i know i said i never use it in baking, but i do use it in sandwiches and stuff--instead of oil)

 Dessert: Coconut jello (from a packet; I added less water than recommended so they'd be a little firmer) and blueberries

And then, because this meal was just too healthy, we went and ate $1-a-scoop ice cream. :]
Pumpkin flavor = oooomgsh good.  Next time you come to Berkeley, we're going!!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Recipe Recommendations [I]

Not everything I make comes from the amazing, fermented brilliance of my mind.

In fact, quite a lot of it originates in other people's recipes, especially those of the huuuuge community at

here are some of the things I've made from there that are worth trying for yourself :D
  1. Gingersnaps!  they don't snap, but they're sweet, spicy, and deliciousss
  2. Soft Sugar Cookies IV -- ahh they're kinda cakey.  really yummy~~
  3. Rasberry and Almond Shortbread Thumbprints -- oooh they're rather buttery.  but an excellent, homemade substitution for those knott's jelly-filled cookies i used to often buy from the vending machines at school.
  4. Easy Fruit Cobbler -- made this with apple slices leftover from an apple pie~  a very bread-like base, and i'd like to try it again with peaches or some other fruit..maybe plums?  mmm..
  5. Black Magic Cake -- AHHH it's wonderful.  and wonderfully easy.  definitely making it again, and trying it with frosting~  (last time it was totally finished even w/o, kept fairly moist for 3-4 days, maybe more!)
  6. Quiche Lorraine -- haha, it's not sweet or a cookie.  it's SAVORY and supersuper good.  also very easy, and open to modification, like adding spinach~
  7. Chicken and Apple Curry -- i made a couple modifications, like cooking it on the stovetop and chopping the chicken breasts into cubes, but the heart and taste of the recipe was still there.  my first successful curry ♥
  8. Caramelized Pork Slices -- a little bit sweet, but still quite good.  I'd make it again :)
  9. Spam Musubi --It's so simple that you really only need the recipe the first time; the marinade was tasty, but since i'm usually kinda pressed for time, i don't mind frying the sliced spam straight-from-the-can; also, as long as you're using a non-stick pan, you don't really need oil to fry's plenty greasy on its own..

click to see full-size! :D

  • I never use shortening or margarine... if they're in any recipe, i always replace them with butter.  I do so because shortening scares me, and butter somehow scares me less by being uhhh "natural".  it just seems easier to trust. :P
  • The recipes listed here are simple & ones I haven't made much modification to; they can be followed pretty much as-is (or by reading one or two of the reviews); only the butter thing, halving recipe yields (i usually only cook for 1 person...and for one person to finish everything...too much, yeah?), and ummm dropping-out-spices-because-i-don't-have-them
I went through a whole pound of butter in about one week.
((just thought I'd mention it.))

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sangria and Seafood Paella

Went to Spain for the last couple of days and I took a "cooking" class. Well, I watched someone else make food more-like but here were the recipes, and they were delicious. 


Tools required:

· A jug / pitcher.
· A wooden spatchulla.
· Thirst.


· Fruit, washed and chopped (orange, lemon, apple, peach…).
· White sugar.
· Brandy and fruit liquour if you like such as peach snaps.
· Red wine.
· Orange and lemon soda, or juice.
· Ice.


Place the fruit in the jug, add the sugar and the brandy (count until 3 or 23) and mix with the spatchulla.

Then 2/3 of red wine and top up with the soda / juice.

Serve chilled or with ice and carefull, it’s so sweet, refreshing and easy-drinking, you may get under ground before you realize.


In 10 easy steps

Tools required:

· Fire (or it’s electric equivalent).
· A flat pan (a flat frying pan but not a wok).
· A wooden spatchulla.
· Hunger and patience.


· Prawns.
· White fish, boneless and skinless, in chunks.
· Calamari rings / squid fish.
· Mussels / clams, clean.
· Olive oil.
· Onion and garlic, chopped.
· Red pepper/capsicum, courgette/zuccini, green asparragus, carrot, green peas, green beans or any other seasonal vegetable of your choice, chopped small.
· Tomatoes, blended.
· White rice (long grain if you don’t want a mashy paella).
· Fish broth.
· Olive oil.
· White sugar.
· A pinch of safron.


1- Cover the bottom of the pan with olive oil, heat and slightly fry the prawns for a minute. Take them out and save for the end.

2- Add the garlic and the onion until it appears translucent.

3- Add the rest of the veggies and cook slowly and then the tomato until all the colors start blending.

4- Toast a little sugar and mix the golden caramel with the vegetable base.

5- Add the rice, a handful per person, plus one for the pan , cook for a minute ensuring it doesn’t stick at the bottom with the wooden spatchulla.

6- Fully cover with broth, sprinkle the safron all over and allow to cook with no rush, slowly, at the lowest heat until the rice is about 74.18% cooked or until somehow you can predict it only needs 5 more minutes and has enough broth for it. Trick: taste a little bit and by the way check if it’s salty enough.

7- Place the sea food on top, in circles if you want a charming one.

8- Once it’s 95% cooked (the rice is tender but not mashy and the fish is done but not flaked out) cover the paella with a tapa, wether it is a lid, foil or a cloth. Wait for 10 minutes or take the chance to open a chilled bottle of white wine or fresh water or prepare a jug of sangría.

9- Proceed to enjoy your paella served on a plate or eating straight from the pan with a wooden spoon like the creators of this dish from Valencia’s countryside (although they had no fish there -minor detail- but you could have done a meaty paella instead).

10- Lay on your bed or your beach towel, on the beach (supposing it’s already 4pm and the sun is not roasting) and close your eyes. Think about how mellow it feels or instead, think nothing and just chill... For 30 minutes! If you crash out and sleep through the afternoon that’s not a “siesta”! Traditionally, the man of the house prepares a paella on Sundays and does the washing up as well.


To prepare a broth, slightly fry in a deep pot the parts of the fish or meat you don’t eat in a bit of olive oil and add salt. You can also use garlic, parsley or white pepper if you like. Then add a large amount of water, allow to boil for about an hour and strain it.
You can either add the clean mussels with the shell closed or steam them first for a couple of minutes with a little white wine and mix this liquid with the fish broth.
The ten minute wait for the paella to meditate will allow all the flavors to settle down and fuse while the rice absorbs the rest of the broth. Be aware some times this last step overcooks the rice, so we can stop the fire when there’s still a little broth and the rice “only needs a little bit more”.
In the hypothetical case the heat wasn’t low enough and the rice got really stuck at the bottom of the pan and it’s burning, don’t scratch it and keep going like nothing happens. Eat only the top and next time you know!
If you prefer you could finish cooking the paella in the oven once you have poured the broth.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Spicy Asian Style Chicken

This was my quick lunch in between classes. Yay for improvisation! Makes enough to serve 2.
  • 2 Chicken Breasts
  • 1 T Soy Sauce
  • 1 T Chinkiang Black Rice Vinegar
  • 1 t Oyster sauce
  • 2 T Vegetable Oil
  • 1 t ground chilli pepper
  • 1 pinch chilli pepper flakes
  • 1 green onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 c snap peas, with ends cut off
  • rice
  1. Clean the chicken breasts, and cut off any stringy white tendon. Cut the chicken into large 1.5 inch chunks, feel free to make a stab or two into each piece so the marinade gets in better.
  2. Mix together the soy sauce, vinegar, oyster sauce, vegetable oil, and chili pepper. Add the chicken and coat.
  3. Fry the chicken on medium heat for 6 minutes. Add the green onions and snap peas, then stirfry for another 5 minutes.
  4. Serve over rice