Friday, May 15, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I finished an important, large section of my project at work that had been taking up pretty much all of my time and therefore left work around 4PM on Thursday. As it turns out, going home early? Means I get really bored sitting at home. So I decided to make chocolate chip cookies to bring to lab the next day, as a way to thank everyone who's helped me with my debugging and/or the rants that came with it.

I followed the Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, minus the walnuts. Instead of the Nestle chocolate chips though, I used Guittard because they were on sale at Safeway. Adrienne seems to think they taste better than other chocolate chips - I personally am not well-educated enough in the world of chocolate to tell the difference. (I can pretend to, but don't really, see a difference between Hersheys and Ghirardelli.) In my opinion, there is waaay too much sugar in this recipe and the cookies are way too sweet. However they were a big hit in the lab, so *shrug*

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Baked Roughy with Roasted Pepper Cream Sauce

I cooked lunch for my mother on Mother's Day. My mom likes seafood and pasta with cream sauces, so I tried following this pan seared scallops with roasted red pepper sauce recipe. It was absolutely delicious, so when I came home and had to figure out what to cook for the week, I decided to make the sauce again and serve it up alongside some orange roughy I had in the freezer. I just happened to have green bell peppers instead of red, so I used those. I used dried basil and black pepper when making the sauce for my mom because that's what my parents had in their pantry. I happen to have oregano, paprika and white pepper at home, so that's what I used here. The original recipe calls for cayenne pepper - it's really up to you to use what spices you like/have on hand.

Time: 0:45
Serves: 1, with leftover sauce

2 bell peppers
4oz light sour cream
salt, oregano, paprika to taste

1. Cut the bell peppers in half lengthwise and core. Broil in top oven shelf for 15 minutes. The skin should blacken and become loose. Rotate the pan if needed to roast evenly.
2. Remove the peppers from the oven and cover with aluminum foil. This is important - you want to steam the peppers for 5-10 minutes to make peeling the skin off easier.
3. Peel the skin off the peppers. It should be very easy along the top and slightly more difficult along the edges - it's OK if some skin remains.
4. Purée the meat of the peppers along with the salt, oregano and paprika. Once it's a nice mush, add the sour cream and blend until smooth.

1 fillet orange roughy
1/4 medium onion, sliced
salt, white pepper, oregano to taste

1. While the pepper are roasting, season the roughy on both sides with salt, pepper, and whatever spices you enjoy with the fish. Oil the bottom of a pan and put the fish in it.
2. Lightly sauté the onion and place on top the fish.
3. While the peppers are steaming, heat the oven to 400F. Bake the fish in the middle shelf for 15 minutes or until the fish flakes at the touch of a fork.

Serve with some pasta, steamed veggies, whatever you like.

9/14/09 Update:
I tried this again with 1 red and 1 green bell pepper. It turned out a very interesting shade of orange, with flecks of red and green. I also sautéed some sliced onions and mushrooms, and added the sauce to that over medium-high heat for a few minutes. Instead of orange roughy, I baked a fresh-caught rockfish fillet with some slivered almonds. It was delicious.

Friday, May 8, 2009

White Chocolate Raspberry Blackberry Homemade Ice Cream

One of my friends recently bought an ice cream maker...and it would be an understatement to say I was really excited! He let me pick the flavor of the batch we made last week, so I chose white chocolate raspberry blackberry.

1/2 pint of fresh blackberries
1/2 pint of fresh strawberries
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
8oz white chocolate
1 bar milk/dark chocolate

A few hours before we started we chilled the inner container of the ice cream maker, and sprinkled 1/4 cup of sugar over the washed blackberries to sweeten them up. When we were ready to start making the ice cream, we sliced up the strawberries, and added them to the blackberries. Then we mashed them up till the mixture was almost all liquid, like a sauce. In a separate bowl we mixed together the milk, cream, eggs, and remaining sugar, and wisked the mixture for a few minutes. Next we boiled some water, added the white chocolate to a pyrex container, and placed the container into the boiling water to melt the chocolate. We added a little bit of cream to help the melting along. We then wisked the chocolate into the milk/cream mixture, and poured it into the ice cream maker. We added the berry mix to the ice cream maker till the maker was full. We also shaved some milk chocolate chocolate and added that to the mix. Then we turned on the ice cream maker and waited. (Waiting was the hardest part!)
Finally, the ice cream hardened and was ready to eat. We had some left over sliced strawberries and berry sauce to use as toppings.

It was delicious!!!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Cookies

I like hazelnut. I like chocolate chip. I am stressed. Clearly, this meant inventing a recipe (since I couldn't find one out there). I don't like lots of sugar and butter, so I halved the amount of sugar and butter in the standard chocolate chip cookie recipe. I also didn't have baking soda on hand, so I just substituted baking powder. The cookies turned out neither chewy nor obscenely sweet, with hazelnut and chocolate flavor - exactly the way I like. :P

Time: 0:30
Serves: depends on size of cookies

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup white sugar (you should do half brown half white if you have brown sugar. I didn't and didn't feel like shopping)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 heaping or 3 flat teaspoons baking power
3 cups flour
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 cups chopped hazelnuts, roasted
1 package instant hazelnut coffee mix

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. With electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until smooth. Add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla, then baking power. Add flour and hazelnut coffee mix. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.
3. Chill in refrigerator for 10 minutes.
4. Drop spoonfuls onto ungreased baking pan. I like doing small spoonfuls so the cookies are bite-sized. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until edges are browned.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Silver Anniversary

My parents had their 25th wedding anniversary this past week. I took the whole family out to lunch today to celebrate. After much deliberation, Dynasty Seafood in Cupertino was chosen for its location, degree of fanciness, and food. It turned out really well because they gave us a semi-private room and split us into two tables to boot, since their tables could only seat 10 max. The restaurant is a little difficult to find since it's hidden in Cupertino Square Mall, but it still gets really crowded during lunch on weekends with people looking for dim sum. In China, Dynasty is a super-fancy restaurant, with gilded utensils, crystal chandeliers, the works. This one is definitely much closer to that than the one near downtown San Jose. If you have enough people to book the whole room (five tables), they even have a TV and what I suspect is a karaoke machine. I think they also have smaller rooms, but for some reason my parents didn't reserve one. Oh well.

Every Chinese place I looked at is substituting lobster for crab nowadays - Dungeness runs $9.99/lb, so it's not surprising. While I still think I prefer crab, the lobster was good. The Japanese-style beef was incredibly tender and flavorful. They forgot the chicken and we had to remind them, but as it turned out, that just meant they served it as soon as they finished cooking it, which made it absolutely delicious. I'm a huge fan of both mango and coconut pudding (as anyone who's been to dim sum with me knows) - the dessert of the day today turned out to be mango-coconut pudding and I was quite the happy camper. The only problem I had with it is I'm no longer used to MSG, so towards the end of lunch I was extremely thirsty and kept drinking pot after pot of tea.

After lunch, I picked up a chocolate mousse cake from La Patisserie on Stevens Creek, which was conveniently right next to Dynasty. The girl taking my order asked me how to spell anniversary, which slightly concerned me, but it turned out really well. I like this particular cake because the it isn't overly sweet (a big problem with most non-Chinese cakes we've had in the past) but is a bit fancier than the typical Sheng Kee cake my family gets. We reconvened at my parents' home for cake and champagne.

For dinner, the women made wontons while the men ooo'ed and ahhh'ed over the new PS3. I remember helping make wontons since, well, since I can remember. It's definitely on my top five comfort foods. All-in-all, I thought it was a very successful day.

Turkey Lasagna with Whole Wheat Spinach Pasta

Turkey Lasagna with Whole Wheat Spinach Pasta
Yield: ~8 servings (2 8x8" pans of lasanga)

For the dough:
1 1/2 c. white whole wheat flour
2 oz. frozen spinach, thawed
1 egg
1 Tbsp vegetable oil

For the sauce:
1.25 lbs ground turkey
1 16oz can tomato paste
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 c. chopped zucchini or squash
1 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt

handful of shredded mozzarella cheese

To make the dough: combine the spinach, egg, and oil in a blender and puree. Form a mound with the flour on a flat surface. Create a well in the center of the flour and pour in the wet ingredients. Using a finger, stir the wet ingredients to slowly incorporate the flour. After the wet has all been incorporated, knead the dough for another 8-10 minutes.

Wrap with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for an hr. Then remove the dough and roll into thin pieces (approximately 1-2mm thick). A pasta roller helps but it's possible even with a rolling pin, really!

Bring a pot of water to a boil and drop the pasta pieces in. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until cooked through.

While the dough is in the refrigerator, prepare the sauce. Coat a frying pan in vegetable oil and heat over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions and sautee for ~2 minutes, until the juices start to release. Add the ground turkey, garlic paste, and dry spices. Stir to combine, then cover and cook until the meat is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add the chopped vegetables. I found these adorable tiny squashes at the farmers market (the long ones were about 4" long and the little ones were about 1-2" in diameter) so I used them, but any other yummy veggie would do:

After the veggies are cooked, the sauce is done, and you are ready to layer the pasta. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of each 8x8" baking dish with a single layer of pasta. Spread 1/4 of the sauce on each layer of pasta. Place another single layer of pasta and spread the remaining sauce evenly across both dishes. Finally top with the remaining pasta. Bake for ~10 minutes in the oven uncovered. Then sprinkle mozzarella over the top of the lasagnas and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for another 10 min. Remove from the oven and enjoy! These will last for several days in fridge, and also freeze nicely.

Earl Grey and Chocolate Chunk Muffins

I saw a recipe for earl grey cupcakes a few months ago and have been wanting to make them ever since. But I wanted to make them a little healthier so I converted them into muffins so I could add whole wheat flour and oatmeal and avoid the icing :) They turned out a little dry, so next time I would increase the oil to 1/2 cup and increase the milk to 2/3 cup.

Ear Grey Chocolate Chunk Muffins
yield: 12 medium-large muffins

1 1/2 c. white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup instant oatmeal
1 Tbsp baking powder
3 teabags of Earl Grey tea
1 egg
1/3 c. honey
1/2 c. milk
1/3 c. vegetable oil
2 oz chocolate, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degreesF. Oil and flour a muffin tin. Thoroughly mix together flour, oatmeal, baking powder, and tea leaves. Add egg, honey, milk, and oil and mix until combined. It's ok if the batter is still lumpy. Stir in chocolate pieces. Evenly divide and spoon into muffin cups. Bake for 30 min or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean.