Sep 28, 2010

Something Refreshing - Carrot and Apple Juice/Granita

I don't wanna appear as a whining baby here,
But the weather is seriously getting off the charts,
104 degrees Fahrenheit yesterday!? What?
The number can only gets higher moving towards the inland area,
Maybe 110?
The heat is definitely penetrating my skin and frying up my brain (Pzzz"")

So why don't we save up the steak and hot pot recipe till the weather turns more tolerable,
Instead, let's talk about juice or granita (even better!).

Ingredients (for 2 to 3 people)?

1 pink lady apple (about 1 1/3 cups)
1 medium sized carrot (about 1 cup)
1 cup of ice cubes
1 cup of milk
1 1/2 tablespoons of amber honey


You don't really need to peel the carrot but I did, feel cleaner that way,
So chop the carrot and apple into smaller cubes,
Toss them into the blender along with ice cubes, milk, and honey,
Blend till fully incorporated.

The original recipe yields a pretty dense juice without filtering,
I personally like it that way,
If you want a more "regular" juice, here's what you need to do:
Use 2 cups of milk instead of one,
You might need to add one more tablespoon of honey to bump up the sweetness of the juice,
After blending, take a drainer and drain out all the larger bits,
Then you'll end up with nice and smooth carrot/apple juice, with a hint of honey!

What about granita?
Using the original recipe, follow the steps here to make the granita,
I bet it's a good way to get your kids eating more veggies!

Cindy's Rating: 8

Sep 24, 2010

Semi-Japanese Style Oven Baked Hambagu (Hamburger Patties)

This is a semi-Japanese inspired hambagu recipe,
Yes, I mean hambagu, not hamburger, not meat patties, just "hambagu," period.

Maybe the main difference is that over here, we have these burger patties with buns,
But in Japan, only the meaty goodness are allowed to stay,
No buns.
If eating as an entree, maybe salads on the side,
On top of that, hambagu is usually served with either rice or different types or spaghetti.

Enough with my babbling, let's start with the recipe!


1 lb ground pork
2 medium sized tomatoes
1.4 medium sized onion
2/3 cup of shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup of panko
Olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 tablespoons of oyster sauce
2 tablespoons of Japanese mayonaise
1 tablespoon of mirin
1/4 teaspoon of smoked paprika


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Line the foil on a baking sheet, it'll save you some cleaning time afterwards.

Finely chop the onion and give the tomatoes a few chops.
Drizzle some olive oil in the pan,
Turn to high heat, toss in chopped onions and sprinkle some salt,
Cook till the aroma comes out, shouldn't take too long since the onions are finely chopped,
Transfer that to a big container.

Put the ground pork inside that container along with panko and mozzarella,
Add more salt and black pepper in,
Combine all the ingredients till fully incorporated.

Now form the mixture into small patties,
Here's how I do it,
I take about a palm-ful of the meat mixture,
Toss them back and forth between my palms,
That's how I get the air out so the patties won't fall apart easily.
Put the patties on the baking sheet,
Evenly place the tomato wedges near the hambagu.

Have another smaller container,
Mix all the sauce ingredients there and pour over the burger patties,
Now into the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, that's it!

(See how juicy it is?!)

Side note:
I'm falling in love with oven baked tomatoes,
In fact, that's why I wanted to use some for this recipe,
The tomatoes get sweeter after baking,
And the juice just burst into your mouth when you bite into it,
Ugh, awesomeness.

Cindy's Rating: 7

Sep 21, 2010

Let's Bake the Mushrooms for Moon Festival!

Happy Moon Festival!
Here's the link if you have no single clue about it - Click Me.

So what do people usually do to celebrate this holiday?
Yes, we Chinese people love to celebrate all kinds of events by food,
Cough*, correction, I mean by "eating" food!

Back in Taiwan, we like to celebrate this holiday by having barbeque,
That's probably the most popular thing to do during Moon Festival,
Admiring the moon while enjoying grilled meat and "bottles" of icy cold beer,
That's life!

But today I'm not gonna talk about grill meat recipes,
(Cz I gonna be stuck in class without any meaty goodies!! Arghh!)
Instead, let's talk about mushrooms, 
Eh no no!
Please hold your objections first,
Just wait and see, this will be one yummy grill/bake mushroom recipe.  


2 packs of enoki mushroom
Ponzu sauce
Unsalted butter

Garlic slices
Toasted sesame seeds
Dried seaweed flakes


Today's main ingredient: Enoki mushrooms.

Super duper simple recipe,
You can make it with a grill or an oven,
Even a kid can do it, just follow my step-by-step pictures below.

If not using a grill, just preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cut off the very bottom stems of the enoki mushroom,
Give it a quick rinse and pat dry.

Make 5 medium sized foil cups and evenly divided the mushrooms into each cup.

Make sure you leave enough foil on the edges so you can close the case before cooking.

For each case,
Drizzle 2 tablespoons of ponzu sauce and place 2 tablespoons of butter on top.

You can also add some sliced garlic for that extra kick.

Seal the top of the case, into the oven for 20 minutes,
Or just place them on the grill (upper part if applicable) for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Once that's done, remove from heat and let them rest for couple minutes,
Be careful when you tear off the foil casing, the steam can burst out and burn your hands!

Best way to enjoy it, eat the mushrooms while they are still inside the foil casing,
Or you can make a prettier presentation by putting them on dark plates,
Sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds and dried seaweed flakes if desired.

Why don't you give it a try next time when having a barbeque?
Trust me,
It'll be a buttery addition next to your juicy burger and steak!

Happy Moon Festival people!

Cindy's Rating: 8

Sep 16, 2010

Stir Fry Mushrooms and Bak Choy (Giant Mushrooms!)

This is the dish I made a while ago,
There were so many kinds of mushrooms on sale so I grabbed a bunch home for dinner.
A small tip here,
If you ever need some "Asian" style mushrooms, go to an Asian grocery store,
It's way cheaper than big American chain stores.
Also stock up on dried mushrooms, it actually got more flavor once re-hydrated.


1 Packet/5 stems of king oyster mushroom
1 Packet of maitake mushroom
3 stems of bak choy
2 stalks of scallion
2 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons of oyster sauce
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
3/4 cup of hot water
Some olive oil
Some salt
Some corn starch


Look at how big this king oyster mushroom is....
Definitely a "king" indeed.

Next to my tiny bak choy -

Anyways, done with me admiring that giant mushroom,
Now it's time to eat it!
No use to be a "king" in front of my stomach. K.O.

Cut off the bottom stems for king oyster mushroom and maitake mushroom,
Chop the king oyster mushroom into big slices,
Break the maitake mushroom into smaller pieces,
For bak choy, cut off the bottom stems also.
Peel 2 garlic cloves,
Give the scallions a few chops, about 2 inches in length.

Have a pan ready, drizzle some olive oil and turn to high heat.
Toss in scallions and garlic cloves, sprinkle some salt,
Just let it cook till the fragrance come out, but don't burn the garlic!
Once that's done, pick out the garlic and scallions if you'd like,
I actually left the softer part of scallions in the pan, I love eating it.

Now toss in sliced king oyster mushroom and give it a quick stir,
Mushroom tends to soak up a lot of oil so you might have to drizzle some more here,
About 30 seconds, add in maitake mushroom and bak choy,
Quick stir again, Add the oyster sauce, soy sauce, and hot water,
Bring to a boil and turn to medium heat,
Let it cook for couple more minutes till the mushrooms turn soft,
You can taste it and see if more soy sauce is needed.

On the side,
Mix about 2 teaspoons of corn starch with some water,
It'll be our thickening agent for the dish,
Pour that into the pan,
Remember to gradually stir the mixture while adding corn starch water, otherwise you might find some chunky and gooey masses in your dish.

That's it!
You can jazz it up by adding an additional tablespoon of spicy bean paste,
But I want to keep it simple,
Oyster sauce alone will do the trick,
After all I'm making a king "oyster" mushroom dish yep?

Cindy's Rating: 7

Sep 12, 2010

Homemade Pepperoni Pizza with Mozzarella and Taleggio Cheese

I was flipping through my thick recipe book - Le Cordon Bleu: Complete Cooking Techniques,
Looking at pages after pages of gorgeous bread dough pictures,
I was hit by an inspiration!

(As I looked over my kitchen..)
My food mixer was sitting in the corner,
Did my eyes get all fogged up, was that...a gloomy cloud hovering above my mixer?
Ok...I have to admit that the mixer hasn't really been used since it came to my house few months ago,
Less than five times for sure,
Maybe it's time to bring out the sobbing mixer and give it some works!

Utilizing food mixer - Pizza time

Ingredients? (small one...well..I think it was small..for my stomach..)

Dough (adapted from the "Le Cordon Bleu Complete Cooking Techniques"):
1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
2/3 cup of warm water
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of active dry yeast
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

1 can of diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning
Black pepper

1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup of cubed taleggio
2 oz to 3 oz pepperoni or salami slices

Red pepper flakes
Tabasco sauce


Sift the flour into the container attached with the mixer,
Stir in active dry yeast and salt,
Make a hole in the center, pour in warm water and olive oil,
Start "blending" (kneading) for about 5 minutes till the mixture forms into soft dough,
You might need to use a scraper to scrape the flour down into the center during blending.

Once that's done, cover and wait till the dough gets "fat!"
Wait for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Before and after -

The fat dough is cute huh?
Too bad all that cuteness won't save it from being hit by a hungry person,
Just punch it down and knead for additional 2 to 3 minutes.
Flour the board or the kitchen counter,
Transfer the dough there and roll it into a ball.

Shape the dough till it resembles the shape of pizza,
It was my first time making pizza dough...
Man oh was sticky and elastic for sure,
Remember, use enough flour! Otherwise the dough will stick on everything!

Line the baking sheet with parchment paper,
Place the flattened dough there.

For pizza sauce,
You can just use store bought spaghetti sauce for time saving's sake,
I actually heat up a can of diced tomatoes,
Add about 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning, some salt and pepper,
Cook till the sauce is reduced by half,
My simplified pizza sauce is done.

So spread the sauce over the dough,
Leave some space on the edges,
You had pizza before yep? (Please say yes, otherwise I might faint..) So at least you kind of know how much space to leave there.
Sprinkle shredded mozzarella and cubed taleggio over the sauce,
Cover all that goodies with pepperoni -

(Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit)
Into the oven for 15 to 20 minutes,
Sprinkle some red pepper flakes or just use some Tabasco sauce for that extra kick if desired.

Not bad for the first try?? least my food mixer is happy now.

Cindy's Rating: 6 (definitely a lot of room of improvements!)

Sep 8, 2010

Very Moist Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

Sweet tooth?

Ingredients? (5 to 6 medium size cupcakes)

6 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 tablespoon of heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup of self-rising flour
1/3 cup of granulated sugar
2/3 cup of semisweet chocolate chips
2 eggs


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit,
Line the muffin pan with paper cases.

This is probably the easiest cupcake recipe I've ever attempted,
Simply blend in all the ingredients,
Dump it in the paper muffin cups,
Less than half an hour, these very moist goodies will be ready for you.

Well, that was my "to make the story short" version,
Basically you sift the flour first,
For the butter,
Use room temperature (semi-soften) kind and dice it into little cubes,
So that the butter will blend smoothly with the mixer.

So here are the things you need to blend together first,
Butter, sugar, flour, eggs, heavy whipping cream.
Once all the above ingredients are fully blended, fold in the chocolate chips.

Spoon the batter into each individual paper cups,
Into the oven for about 20 to 25 minutes,
I baked it till the edges turn golden brown-

That way I get a crunchy crust with very moist and melted center for my cupcakes.

*I was actually done with taking pictures and ready to enjoy my sweet afternoon treat,
But after finishing half of the cupcake,
( o ___ o )"
All that melted chocolate chips hiding inside my cupcake,
My hands automatically grabbed the camera and started shooting again,
Just can't let go this chocolate-melting moment!

Love it.

Sep 3, 2010

Pesto Fettuccine with Shrimps (Revised Recipe After 2 Years!)

The heat is preventing me from updating my blog,
Seriously, it's not a joke,
My arms, my legs, even my fingers all refused to move a bit when the temperature hit 85...
(trying not to turn on the AC that often...but seems like I can no longer hold my ground this summer...)

The heat has won once again...
I'm sitting here comfortably...writing this post,
But I did keep the temperature nothing lower than 78 degrees,
*Still trying to be a bit more "environmentally friendly" while enjoying the cool air at the same time.

So what are we cooking today?
Pesto fettuccine with shrimps!
Scarily Surprising, I found a similar recipe from my blog that was first written 2 years ago,
Looking back to my old posts, that terrible writing (still terrible) and can't-open-my-eyes-to-see-pictures...
Man...I did improve over time huh? Yep yep??

Ingredients (for 4 to 5)?

1 box of fettuccine
1 lb of shrimps (peeled and deveined)
3 garlic cloves (peeled)
2.5 oz/70 grams of basil
1/2 cup of pine nuts
1 cup of grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
Pasta water
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper


Let's toast up the pine nuts first,
Simply turn on the broiler, lay the nuts on a baking sheet and toast them till slightly brown on all sides.

You'll definitely smell that freshly toasted nutty aroma once it's done,
Take it out from the oven and set aside.

In the meantime, prepare a pot of water,
Bring to a boil and sprinkle few pinches of salt,
Cook the fettuccine according to the package instruction,
Al dente preferably,
Once it's done,
Save about 2 cups of pasta water (don't need that much, but better safe than sorry) and drain out the remaining liquid from the pasta.

Have a food processor ready,
I don't own one ( > _.< ) so I actually used a blender for the pesto,
How does that work?
Well, it requires a lot of muscle power to shake that blender and patience to stir up the bottom mixture constantly.

If you do have a food processor (I mean...lucky you!),
Simply toss in the garlic cloves, toasted pine nuts, grated Parmesan, basil, and give it a few pulses so that everything all mixed well together,
Once it's done, drizzle some extra virgin olive while blending at the same time till desired consistency,
Don't get scared if you feel like pouring a lot of oil, you need it!
Afterwards, give it a quick taste,
Depend on the cheese you use, see how much salt are needed for the sauce,
Don't forget to grind some black pepper into the mixture.

So what happened if you don't have a food processor?
Well, I actually poured in some olive oil first in order to get enough moisture for the blender to work,
Trust me, it's quite a process,
Good thing my pesto still tastes great!

So the sauce is ready, pasta should be cooking at the moment,
It's time to cook up some shrimps,
Drizzle some olive oil in the pan, turn to high heat and add 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes,
About 10 seconds, add in the shrimps,
You can also add about 1 tablespoon of that pesto mixture while cooking the shrimps,
More flavorful that way.

Once the shrimps are cooked through, pour in drained pasta and all the pesto sauce,
If it's too dry, add some saved pasta water till desired consistency.
Voila, yummy meal has appeared!

You don't have to cook a whole box of spaghetti,
This recipe is actually perfect for one serving too,
But what to do with all the leftover pesto?
Well, do you have ice cube trays at home?
If so, simple freeze them into little cubes,
You can reuse them in the future for dishes like...grilled fish, roasted chicken, salad, etc,
Can't be any better!

Cindy's Rating: 8 (one point higher than my old post, yeah!)