Thursday, January 26, 2006

Lemon-Herb Sauce

I found the recipe for this sauce in October 2005 addition of Real Simple Magazine. I have found so many recipes in here that I use on a regular basis to feed the family. Most of the recipes that I've found in this magazine are not fancy at all. They are mainly fast and easy. However, many of the recipes do not seem simple when being placed on the table.

Last night, I used this sauce in a shrimp stir-fry. I try to use whatever vegitables that are in season in the stir-fry. However, here in Japan much of their produce is very high quality so I have many choices. Last night, I used bok choy, carrots, and asperagus. Being that this is a Lemon-Herb sauce, it might be traditionally used with chicken, pork, shrimp, scallops or even firm cubes of Tofu. This may even serve as a good marinade for fish, seafood or poultry. If someone tries this sauce with beef please let me know how it turns out!

A quick blurb about Tofu. If you have never cooked or eaten Tofu, please give it a try! Tofu for the most part is flavorless and absorbs the flavors of sauces and broths very well. Infact I have finally convinced my "steak-and-potatoes husband" to eat tofu. The easiest way to cook tofu for a stir-fry, is to first place oil in a wok (or large pan) and fry it until the Tofu takes on a beige color on all or most sides. Then add the vegitables and sauce. Cooking the tofu like this will prevent it from breaking up. In the past, I've actually cut firm tofu in the shape of french fries and baked them with a little bit of seasoning salt and olive oil. My son loves these. He calls them "french fries" and I give him marinara sauce to dip them in. A much healthier version of french fries!

1/4 cup soy sauce
2 1/2-3 Tbs. lemon juice
1 1/2 Tbs. sugar
1 1/2 Tbs. minced garlic
1 1/2 Tbs. basil
1 1/2 cilantro

Combine soy sauce, lemon juice and sugar in a medium size bowl. Stir or whisk liquids until sugar is dissolved. Add the garlic, basil, and cilantro. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Chicken with Chorizo and Cannellini

Ok, the title says Cannellini but really you can use any white bean you want. This recipe is super protien packed. However, the beans give you a little fiber and carbs. I like to think of this recipe has a glorified franks and beans. If everything is prepped, this takes 15 minutes to make! Probably 25 minutes if you add prep time in there. Also, it's strickly stove top. So, my friends who live off base and don't have an oven....this will work!

The only chorizo that I've been able to find here is Goya's slicing chorizo. You can find it in the commissary with all the other Goya products. This brand of chorizo is not spicy at all. This is one of Mike's favorites after a big workout! Nigella lists this as 2 servings but, it's more like 2 hefty servings plus a little left over for lunch tomorrow.

Despite the fat content in this recipe, poaching chicken in stock is probably on of the fasted and healthiest way you can cook a chicken. You can also use the poaching meathod when topping off your salad with some lean protien!

4 cups chicken stock (or water)
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
About 1/2 trimmed kale (or any other steardy leafy green)
1-2 teaspoons olive oil
8 ounces chorizo sausage, sliced them chopped
2 cans of white beans (drained and rinsed)
paprika for sprinkling

In a saucepan, bring the stock to a gentle boil, lower in the chicken and cook, still gently for 10 minutes or until all trace of pink has disapeared. Pierce with the point of a knife to check.

Meanwhile, cook the kale, which you've roughly torn into pieces, in boiling salted water for about 5 minutes (if it's tough) and drain. Then heat the oil in a frying pan, throw in the chopped chorizo, add the drained beans, stirring, warm everything through, moistening with a couple of tablespoons or so of the chicken stock-or more if you want this soupier. (if you choose the soupy option, instead of boiling the kale seperatly, you add the stock then top off the beans and chorizo mixture with kale then quickly place a lid over the pan. This gives the kale some time to "steam cook". It saves you from washing another pan after dinner!)

Tip the beans and chorizo into a shallow bowl or lipped plate, roughly arrange the kale on top (drizzling with a littl extra-virgin olive oil if you like) and then lift the cooked chicken out of the stock with a spatula and sit this on top of the kale ruff. Sprinkle the pale chicken brast with the paprika and gaze at your Spanish still life of a supper before eating it.

Serves 2.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Bacardi Rum Bundt Cake

My Aunt Tori gave this recipe to me on my wedding shower. The recipe also accompanied several baking pans: spring form and a bundt pan. My Aunt Tori is my Moms life long friend from child hood. I do not like to bake. I've heard a saying that people who hate to cook love baking. I suppose, I'm the opposite of that rule. That being said this is so easy to make especially if you buy the cake mix with pudding already in it. Thankfully, the commissary had this as they were out of instant vanilla pudding mix.

I made this today as a gift to our wonderful neighbors who stopped by last night and gave us one of their old kerosine heaters. They are awesome and I wanted to make them one of my best cakes to thank them. I just hope that they like it!
For the Cake
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 1 box yellow cake mix (see note below)
  • 1 3 3/4 ounce box Jell-o Vanilla Instant Pudding and Pie Filling
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/2 cup vegitable oil
  • 1/2 cup Bicardi dark rum (80 proof)

For the Glaze

  • 1/4 pound butter
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup Bacardi rum (80 proof)
  • Whipped Cream (Optional)
NOTE: if using yellow cake mix with pudding alredy in the mix omit instant pudding, use 3 eggs instead of 4 and 1/3 cup oil instead of 1/2.

Preheat oven to 325 F
Grease and flour 12-cup Bundt pan & Sprinkle nuts over bottom of pan. Mix cake ingreadients together & Pour over nuts. Bake for 1 hour & Cool. For the Glaze, melt butter in sauce pan. Stir in water and sugar. Boil 5 minutes, stiring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in rum. Prick the top of the cake. Spoon and brush glaze evenly over top and sides. Allow cake to absorb glaze. Repeat until glaze is used up. Decorate with whipped cream if desired. Or serve with ice cream (pecan or toffee flavors work great.)

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Hoisin-Glazed Chicken with Cabbage Slaw

Finally, I've taken a step away from Nigella's cookbook. My eyes have now traveled to my most recent addition of Real Simple Magazine. Tonight we tried this recipe and it's been a relief from all of the comfort food that I've made recently. I've used quite a few recipes from Real Simple. They are great at creating a meal that has your veggies & meat all in one. A real winner in my book is if my son will eat it and he did. He especially loved the bell peppers. He called them apples. I frankly didn't care what he called them as long as he ate them!

The hoisin sauce really makes the dish. I was first introduced to hoisin sauce here in Japan at the commissary. It's of gravy consistancy and contains a mixture of soy sauce, chili sauce, rice vinegar, and sugar among other things. You should be able to find Hoisin sauce now a days just about at any major grocery chain. You might be able to locate it near the soy sauce and stir fry mixes.

This dish is low in fat and perfect for a Summer cook out. In fact, they call for the chicken to be stuck under the broiler but it could just as easily be thrown on the grill.

Next time around, I may try marinating the chicken overnight and letting the veggies sit in the dressing for a few extra hours before serving. Also, the chicken could just as easily be replaced with fish or pork. If you have particularly thick chicken cutlets (like frozen costco ones) butterfly them before tenderizing, they'll cook a lot faster.

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken cutlets
  • 1/3 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce (optional)
  • 3 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 red bell pepper sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper sliced
  • 3 scallions (green onions), halved and cut into 4 inch strips
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
Heat broiler on high. Rinse the cutlets and pat dry with paper towels. Pound the cutlets to an even thinness. Place on the broiler pan. IN a small bowl, whisk together the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of rice vinegar, and fish sauce (if using).

Transfer 2 tablespoons of the glaze to a large bowl and stir in teh remaining rice vinegar. Add the cabbage, peppers, scallions and cilantro and toss. Cover and refrigerate(unless of course, you're house is close to freezing like ours. You can just leave it out on the counter).

Pour about 1 tablespoon of the remaining glaze into a small bowl; set aside as a finishing sauce. Brush the chicken with the glaze that remains. Broil, brushing occasionally, until cooked through, 5-8 minutes. Spoon the reserved glaze over the top. Serve with the slaw.

Bitter Orange Ice Cream

Another recipe brought to you by Nigella Lawson. She says in her introduction for this dessert that it wouldn't kill you to whisk it by hand.....she lies! Just kidding, for those of you who have wrists of steel you may whisk this by hand. However, I strongly suggest you should use an electric mixer if you have one. Nigella prefers using Seville oranges in this recipe however, she also suggested using some limes mixed with oranges if you weren't able to find Seville oranges or, they weren't in season. It doesn't taste exactly like ice cream but it's an easy and tasty substitute. In classic UK fashion, Nigella does not shy away from lots of sugar.....I hear that there sugary treats put our US sweets to shame! This might also serve as a good fruit dip at a party if not frozen. After trying this recipe, I've come up with quite a few ideas on trying different flavors. Pineaple might be a great taste. I've never invested in a fancy zester a fine grater works just as well except for you might want to take caution not to get the white pill from the citris.

3 Seville oranges or 1 orange and 2 limes
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
wafers to serve (optional)

If using Seville oranges, grate the zest of 2 of them. Squeeze the juice of all 3 and pour into a bowl with the zest and sugar. If you're going for the sweet orange and lime option, grate the zest of the orange and one of the limes, juice them and add to the sugar as before. Stir to dissolve the sugar and add the heavy cream.

Whip everything until it holds soft peaks, and then trun into a shallow airtight container (of approximately 2 quarts) with a lid. Cover and freeze until firm (from 3-5 hours). Remove to ripen for 15-20 minutes (or 30-40 in the refrigerator) before eating. Serve in a bowl, in cones, with wafers-however you like.
Serves 8

Ham in Coca-Cola

Another recipe that would have been delicious I imagine. When I purchase my supposed "Ham" I realized, after tearing the 1st round packaging off that, the commissary had labeled it wrong and infact it was a Smoked Pork Shoulder. At any rate, I was unable to try this recipe first hand. However, I was able to make the broth for the South Beach Black Bean Soup by taking out the shoulder bone and letting that boil in the Coca-Cola. If anyone has a chance, let me know how this turns out!

  • 4 1/4-4 1/2-pound bone-in ham
  • 1 onion, peeled and cut in half
  • 2-liter bottle of Coca-Cola (or a six pack)

for the glaze:

  • hand full of cloves
  • 1 heaping tablespoon molasses
  • 1 teaspoons English mustard powder
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
If you know that you are dealing with a salty ham, put it in a pan covered with cold water, bring to a boil, then tip into a colander in the sink and start from here; otherwise, put the ham in a pan, skin-side down if it fits like that, add the onion, then pour over the coke. Bring to a boil, redure to a good simmer, put the lid on, though not tightly, and cook for just under 2 1/2 hours. If your joint is larger or smaller, work out timing by reckoning on an hour for every 2 lbs. rememberbing that it's going to get a quick blast in the oven later. But do take into account that if the ham's been in the refrigerator right up to the moment you cook it, you will have to give it a good 15 minutes of so extra so that the interior is porperly cooked.

Meanwhile, preheat the over to 500 degrees F

When the ham's had it's time, take it out of the pan (but do not throw away the cooking liquid) and let cool a little for ease of handling. (Indeed, you can let it cool completley then finish off the cooking at some later stage if you want.) Then remove the skin, leaving a thin layer of fat. Score the fat with a sharp knife to make fairly large diamond shapes, and stud each deamond with a clove. Then carefully spread the molases over the bark-budded skin, taking care not to dislodge the cloves. Gently pat the mustard and sugar onto the sticky fat. Cook in a foil-lined roasting pan for approximatley 10 minutes or until the glaze is burnished and bubbly.

Should you want to do the braizing stge in advance and then let the ham cool, clove and glaze it and give it 30-40 minutes, from room temperature, at 350 F, turning up the heat toward the end if you think it needs it.

This is seriously fabulous with anything, but the eggily golden Sweet Corn pudding is perfect.
Serves 8

South Beach Black Bean Soup

This is not for the weak at heart. If you love Coca-Cola you will enjoy this recipe. I tried this after making a variation of the Ham in Coca-Cola. Which I will also include on the site. I'd have to say that this wasn't one of my most favorite recipes but Mike really liked it. I had never used coriander in a recipe before. It was always one of those spices that I had but never used. This recipe calls for ground coriander which, I couldn't find at the commissary. So, I used the whole coriander but placed it in my little chopping machine/coffee grinder and that pretty much did the trick. Also, instead of letting the black beans soak, Nigella just says she boils them in water for 10 minutes before cooking.

- About 3 cups (18 ounces) black beans
- Coca-Cola Ham stock from earlier recipe
- Juice of 1/2 lime
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander

to serve:

- sour cream
- fresh cilantro, chopped
- lime wedges

Cook the black beans in enough coca-cola ham stock and water, if needed, to cover by about 2 inches until they're tender. Let the liquid first come to a boil and then reduce the heat to low and cook, partially covered, for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Remove about 3 ladles of the soup to a blender, add the lime juice and ground spices, blitz to a muddy puree and stir this back into the pan of soup. And that's it.

Swil some sour cream, as you please, into the bowls of the soup as you ladle them out and sprinkle with freshly chopped cilantro. Plonk the lime wedges onto the table and let people squeeze the sharp juice into this dense, sweet soup as they eat.
Serves 8

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Sweet Corn Pudding

I WILL NOT EAT GREEN EGGS AND HAM.....I WILL NOT EAT THEM SAM I AM. OK, this is what was going through my head when I read this recipe in my Nigella Bites book. The picture of the recipe was unsettling also. This egg concoction with canned corn is supposed to taste good?! Well my friends, "don't knock it till you've tried it". My plan for tonight was to make a Coca-Cola Ham then, the next night use left over ham to pair up with this sweet corn pudding. I thought I had it made until I unwrapped the commissary label from the supposed "ham" revealing the manufacturers label. Instead of it being Ham, suddenly this ham turned into roasted pork shoulder. I cursed myself because my week menu had been spoiled. 'No worries', I thought 'I'll just make this pudding stuff tonight and pair it with this pork sholder'. So, off I went.

This recipe is by no means health food. Though easy, it does take a little more time than the run of the mill half our week day meal. However, it is soooooo satisfying and my 2 year old didn't throw it on the floor. Also, if you do have small children in the house, you may have all of these ingredients on hand. Plus, it's a fairly inexpensive dish as the ingredients aren't to exotic! Truely, it sound odd but, this is really good comfort food.

Nigella put this into her "trashy" chapter. I resent this label just a tad as she has also put such recipes like corn bread and fried chicken in this chapter. Clearly to any American, these are respectable staples in our diet. Furthermore, as the wife of a Southerner I'm a offended. But, I degress. The food is good no matter what label is put on it.

I didn't have the exact amount of corn. I just bought 2 cans and threw them in and it worked out. Instead of butter in the baking pan, I used pam. I don't like how butter sometimes burns and pam is just easier. This corn pudding is suggested serving for 8. However, I'd say a hungry family of 4 could finish it off.

5 eggs
18 ounces (about 2 1/4 cups) canned sweet corn, drained
14 ounces (about 1 3/4 canned creamed corn
1 1/3 cups whole milk
1 1/3 cups heavy cream
generous 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the over to 375 degrees. Butter an ovenproof dish about 12x10". Whisk the eggs in a large bowl, and then add, beating unenergetically, all the other ingredients. Pour into the buttered dish and cook for about an hour, by which time it should have set within and puffed up slightly on top. Serves 8

Tomorrow, my plan is to make South Beach Black Bean Soup. We shall see if this recipe too will make my blog!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Bean and Bacon Soup with Cheese Toast

I've been reading, "The Essentials of Japanese Cooking" lately. It's a cookbook that was given to me over the holidays. It's been a lot of fun to read. And although I'm excited, at the same time, I'm also intimidated and overwhelmed by the recipes. Japanese cooking is SO different than any other style of cooking that I have tried. I know here in Yokosuka, that every ingredient to these recipes exists. The problem is trying to find all of those ingredients, or maybe trying to ask a grocer if they carry that item. You all should have seen me the other day trying to ask where the Tempura Sauce was.

At any rate, after a couple days of reading this book it made me want to cook something completely simple and this did the trick. Also, I made this because I had 8 ounces of Bacon/Salted Pork left over from the previous night. Mostly during the week, I enjoy making quick, easy & cheap meals. I really get excited when I can find a recipe that will fill up my family of three for very little $$$ (or Yen). I'm sure that there are many variations of Bean and Bacon soup. This one fits for me if only because of it's simplicity. Cut this out of the Fall 2003 edition of Martha Stewart Kids Magazine. This is a great family recipe. You can use Navy Beans or Great Northern Beans in this soup. Whatever floats your boat. I skipped the whole step 2 of draining the fat and reserving 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease. Since I had the salted pork instead of bacon slices, I just cut it up in small bits and fried it in the same soup pot with everything. I'd suggest cutting everything in advance if you can. While the pork was cooking I just cut everything up and threw it in as I cut it though. I didn't have any chicken stock on hand last night so, I just used 4 cups of water and 2 bouillon cubes then an additional cup of water to cut the saltiness. In fact, try leaving out the salt listed in the ingredients if you are watching your salt intake or just don't like really salty dishes. Also, try using a toaster oven if you have one instead of the broiler when making the cheese toast that way, both sides turn out crunchy. I didn't garnish the soup this time on account that I didn't use bacon slices.

I've copied the directions directly from the original recipe. Being that this is from a Martha Stewart magazine, it's very exact in it's directions. I don't know anyone whose taken out a ruler when cutting vegitables so please, use your best judgement!

1/2 lb. bacon (about 10 slices)
1 small onion, finely diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch peices
2 celery stalks, cut into 1/4-inch peices
3 cups chicken or vegitable stock
2 cans (15.5 ounces each) white beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon salt (about a half of 1/8 of a teaspoon)
4 slices sandwich bread
3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese

1. In a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, cook the bacon pieces, stirring frequently, until brown and just crip, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate; set aside
2.. Pour all but about 1 tablespoon of bacon fat from the pan. Return the pan to the heat; add the onion, carrots, and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften about 3 minutes. Add the stock and 2 cups water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer unitl vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Add the beans, sage, salt and pepper, and half of the reserved bacon. Simmer for a few more minutes while preparing the cheese toasts.
3. Meanwhile, heat the broiler; place bread on a baking sheet. Sprinkle berad with cheese; broil until cheese is melted and bread is just golden, about 2 minutes. Cut into triangles.
4. Garnish soup with remaining bacon and serve with cheese toast on the side.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Linguine With Garlic Oil and Pancetta

Mike and I had this last night and loved it. I got this recipe from Nigella Lawson's Cookbook "Nigella Bites". It's a very simple recipe that only takes about 15 minutes to make. Unfortunately, here in Yokosuka, Pancetta is hard to come by so I replaced the Pancetta with salted pork/bacon. I added some pepper while mixing with the olive oil. I bought roughly a pound of pork at the commissary because I wanted to use the other half for the Bean and Bacon soup that I'm planning on making tonight. The block came with the skin on, so I sliced the skin off and threw it in the pan while baking as it adds more juices. Some readers may be firm believers in frying bacon. The only reason why I don't fry in the pan is that it's much easier to put in the oven and not have to hover over it/make sure it's done at the same time as the pasta.
If, you are unable to find garlic-infused olive oil you can make your own. I've included a recipe for that as well (just click on the link and it will take you there). Be forwarned that the recipe for the oil takes about 2 hours so, I'd suggest making it ahead of time. The bottom instructions are from the cookbook. The top portion is just my opinion!

2 tablespoons garlic-inused olive oil
8 ounces pancetta
8 ounces linguine (about half a box)
Fresh Parsley (optional)

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to a boil. While it's heating up, put the garlic olive in an ovenproof dish; last night I used a baking pan 12X8". Nigella uses her Le Crueset 13.5" but not all of us are so lucky! (Some of us maybe. In which case I am pea grean with envy!) Dice the rest of the pancetta and add these cubes to the oil, smooshing them about with your fingers to make sure they're equally, if lightly, coated. When the water's boiling, put the dish of garlic-oiled pancetta in the oven, then salt the boiling water and add the linquine; these should need about 10 minutes to cook. (Go by the package instructions) When the pasta's ready, drain it, reservin a scant cupful of the cooking water and take the pancetta dish out of the oven. Tip the drained linquine into the dish and toss well, adding some of the pasta-cooking water, drop by cautious drop, for lubrication as you need it. Add the parsley. Enjoy!

2 hefty servings

Garlic Olive Oil

This Recipe is From Rozanne Gold's Cooking 1-2-3 a fantastic book. You can purchase her books on Amazon All recipes include only 3 ingredients. It may sound simple, but some of these recipes are a little involved. Anyway, I've found this recipe fairly simple and the oil is useful for many many things. You can substitude jarred prechopped garlic. About a tablespoon for each clove is recommended but, I've always used teaspoons instead just because it seems more realistic. (I don't think that I've ever chopped a clove and gotten a whole tablespoon full.) Use your best judgement. I've never used the crushed red pepper flakes so let me know if someone has tried this and it's turned out great.

1 cup extra virgin olive oil
8 large cloves of garlic
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Put olive oil in a small saucepan. Peel garlic and add to oil with red pepper flakes. Cook over medium heat until small bubbles form at the surface, then continue cooking over very low heat for 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and add a large pinch of salt. Let sit for 2 1/2 hours. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a clean jar. (I've used tupperware) Cover and refrigerate. Keeps for 2 weeks.

Makes 1 cup