Mar 29, 2012

The New Greens - Stir Fry Mizuna with Garlic, Grape Tomatoes, and Beech Mushroom

Spinach, broccoli, and zucchini are the three mostly used green vegetables in my recipe (excluding herb-like items such as cilantro and scallion). Last week at the grocery store, next to my usual bundle of spinach was something called "mizuna." Marked as $1 extra compared to $0.99 spinach, this green veggie is a rare find in Taiwan, sometimes in the states too.

I've tried mizuna before; it comes with a distinct aromatic taste. If you have to compare, maybe slightly close to celery. The leaves are soft but not as smooth as spinach, and its stems are crunchy, but not as tough as celery.

As for my first homemade mizuna dish, I think a simple garlic stir fry will do -


3 small bundles of mizuna
3 garlic cloves
1 cup of grape tomatoes
1 pack of beech mushroom (bunashimejii)
Some olive oil
Some sea salt
Some freshly ground black pepper


Our main ingredients -

Remove the very bottom stems from the mizuna. Thoroughly rinse the veggie and give it a few chops, just to shorten the length so it'll be easier to cook and eat,
Remove the stems from the mushroom and thoroughly rinse under water then drain well and set aside,
Peel the garlic cloves and cut into slices,
Halve the tomatoes.

Drizzle some olive oil in the pan,
Add in the garlic slices, some salt, and freshly ground black pepper,
Cook till the garlic about to burn, toss in the mushroom and cook for about couple minutes.

Add the halved tomatoes and sprinkle just a little bit more salt to draw out the liquid and flavor, cook for about 1 minute then add in the mizuna.

Cook till the greens wilted a little bit, taste and see if more seasonings are needed. Quick and easy, my first aromatic mizuna stir fry is ready -

Hopefully more mizuna will be available for purchase so at least I get more choices other than spinach and broccoli!

Cindy's Rating: 8

Mar 22, 2012

Top Recipe - Shabu Shabu Black Angus Beef Slices with Ponzu Garlic Dipping Sauce

Such an easy dish, yet easily top all my recipes from the past two month.

Shabu shabu Black Angus beef slices with ponzu garlic dipping sauce -


10 to 12 slices of good quality thin beef slices
3 tablespoons of ponzu sauce
2 tablespoon of hot water
2 red chili peppers
1 stalk of scallion
1 garlic clove


Since this is such a simple dish, the quality of the beef and the dipping sauce become the key to its success.

My thin beef slices were purchased from Mitsuwa - a local Japanese grocery store in California. I find it hard to come across thin beef or pork slices in American grocery stores. If you can't get a hold of such ingredient, maybe try to purchase large chunks and ask the butcher to slice it for you.

Definitely no brainer to prepare the meat,
Just bring a small pot of water to a boil, take one slice at a time and "shabu" in hot water for few seconds. Place the meat onto the plate once cooked but still remain that slightly pink hue throughout.

For the ponzu garlic dipping sauce,
Peel and mince the garlic,
Remove the stems from the chilies and finely chop them, keep the seeds to add some flame to our sauce.
Remove the stem from the scallion and finely chop it,
Mix everything together, but the beef slices of course, then you'll have a lovely dipping sauce.

It seriously taste like heaven, much credits to the fine quality beef slices I got there. Those marbled fats just melt in your mouth, immediately followed by garlicky yet refreshing scent from the ponzu sauce.

I will definitely have this treat like...once a week?

Cindy's Rating: 9

Mar 17, 2012

Simple Meatloaf with Cheddar and Monterey Jack Gravy

Meatloaf and gravy, can't get more American than that!

Inspired by the Food Network show Diners Drive-ins and Dives, seeing all the great American dishes being made and improvised, my inner comfort food craves just got higher and higher. Of course my version won't be as delicious as the good old recipe that grandma used to make, but hey! At least it ain't bad for an Asian girl's second attempt??



1 lb of ground beef
1 lb of ground veal
1 lb of ground pork
1/2 caramelized onion
1/2 cup of bread crumbs
1 small bundle/18 grams of chives (chopped)
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning
1 egg

Cheese gravy:

6 tablespoons of unsalted butter
5 tablespoons of all purpose flour
1 1/2 cup of milk
1 to 1 1/2 cup of sharp cheddar and monterey jack cheese blend
Small pinch of white pepper
Some sea salt


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mix all the ingredients for the meatloaf -

For caramelized onion, I simply drizzle some olive oil in the pan, toss in chopped onion and some salt and pepper. Cook with medium high heat till the onion turned semi-brown color.

Line the baking sheet with foil,
Pour in the meatloaf mix and form a rectangle log -

Into the oven for about 40 to 50 minutes,
Once done, take out the meatloaf and cover with foil,
Let it rest for 10 minutes so all the meaty juice can get locked inside the loaf.

Take a sauce pan and turn to medium heat,
Toss in butter and wait till it melts, then we add in the flour,
Keep mixing to prevent doughy lumps, about 2 minutes,
Gradually pour in the milk and the cheese mix and keep stirring till fully combined,
Season with some white pepper and salt to taste.

The gravy is ready when you do the wooden spoon test,
Just use your finger and draw a line on the spoon that was dipped in the gravy,
If the gravy won't drip all over the line, it's ready.

Drizzle some gravy over the meatloaf slices and garnish with some chopped chives,
What makes it even better?
A few dashes of Tabasco sauce!

Cindy's Rating: 6 (still room for improvement!)

Mar 12, 2012

Very Bacony and Garlicky Spaghetti

The main ingredient for this dish was meant to be thick slices of pancetta cut into cubes. However, the grocery store next door does not carry such ingredient. Maybe it ain't so bad for me? Last time when I bought those Italian cured meat, just 2 slices of pancetta cost me $$$ compared to the more wallet-friendly and more accessible bacon counterpart.

Bacon it is.

Very bacony and garlicky spaghetti -

Ingredients (3 to 4 portion)?

8 strips of smoked bacon
8 cremini mushroom
2 Roman tomatoes
1 bundle of spinach
4 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon of red chili flakes
Some sea salt
Some freshly ground black pepper
3 to 4 portions of spaghetti


Bring a big pot of water to a boil, add in few pinches of salt,
Cook the spaghetti in boiling water according to package instruction,
Preferably al dente in texture. Once done, drain well and aside for later use.

Cut the bacon into bite size pieces, toss half of the bacon to the pan then turn to medium-high heat.

While rendering the fat, let's dice up the remaining ingredients. Do remember to check on the bacon and give it a quick stir once a while to prevent burning.

Peel and finely chop the garlic,
Cut the mushroom in half then roughly slice it -

Dice up the Roman tomatoes, there's no need to remove the skin first -

Give the spinach a few chops to shorten the length -

Back to the bacon,
Add in the remaining 1/2 of bacon, all the chopped garlic, and chili flakes,
Sprinkle some salt and pepper, cook for about 30 seconds -

The reason why I add the bacon in separate batches is to get two different textures while biting into the pasta. You get that semi-burned yet crunchy edges together with soft and moist fat at the same time, how good can it be?

Toss in sliced mushroom and sprinkle some more salt, we want to season every layer for this recipe.
Cook for about 30 seconds,
Add the cubed tomatoes and sprinkle some more salt.

On top of juicy tomatoes, adding salt will further help in drawing out the liquid from them. Those yummy juices will then be absorbed by the mushroom - the flavor just keeps building up in our magic pan.

Lastly, toss in the spinach and cook till it starts to wilt, sprinkle some more salt if needed. It should be on the slightly salty side since we are going to mix in the spaghetti, which will dilute the taste a bit.

Once the flavor is checked, mix in the spaghetti and you'll have a very bacony and garlicky meal. I suppose some freshly grated parmesan will be a great addition to the pasta!

Buon appetito!

Cindy's Rating: 8

Mar 8, 2012

No Fuss Cooking - Steamed Vegetables with Asian Vinaigrette

This recipe requires zero kitchen skills,
As long as you know how to wash the vegetables and hook up the steamer,
You'll find yourself the best steamed veggies ever,
Healthy, colorful, and maybe the best thing of all - no crazy cleanup after cooking!

Steamed vegetable with Asian vinaigrette -

I was basically in pain while packing for my U.S. trip couple weeks ago,
Due to my excessive "necessities" of clothes, lotion, know..all the girl stuff..
I had to leave my digital SLR camera at home,
Literally, there were tears in my eyes while walking out the door to the airport,
Hugging my camera goodbye, making sure "he" can take care of himself in the cabinet..
So for this and the next few posts,
All pictures will be taken with my second greatest helper - Iphone 4!


3 skinny carrots
3 small/medium squash
1 to 2 broccolis
10 button mushroom
3 tomatoes on the vine
4 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Some sea salt
Some freshly ground black pepper
1 lime (juice part)
3 tablespoons of light soy sauce (I used tsuyu sauce)
1 teaspoon of sesame oil


Thoroughly clean up all the vegetables -

Rinsing, peeling, and cutting them into bite sizes.
Take the container that's going to be used for steaming,
Layer the tough vegetable on the bottom, here's my sequence from bottom up:
Carrot, broccoli, mushroom, squash, tomatoes.
Finely chop the garlic, evenly layer on the very top of the vegetables,
Also evenly sprinkle some salt and pepper on the top, this will help in drawing out the liquid from the vegetables,
Thoroughly drizzle some olive oil,
Steam for about 10 to 15 minutes, or till desired texture,
I like mine mushy.

Once the veggies are ready, transfer on to a plate and leave the juice inside the container,
Combine all the ingredients for the vinaigrette and mix together with the steamed vegetable juice,
Pour the sauce all over the veggies and toss the whole mixture,
Sprinkle some toasted sesame seed for extra nutrient (too bad mine was out).

I actually served it with seared chicken breast marinated in garlic and herb sauce,
For sure this healthy side dish will also work well with grilled salmon or steak!

Cindy's Rating: 9

Mar 3, 2012

Homemade Spinach Noodles - Time to Invest in a Pasta Roller/Cutter

Since I was going to be on a trip to California for about one month,
There has to be a way to use up the spinach left in my fridge, perhaps something for my parents while I'm away?

Homemade spinach noodles (recipe adapted from Martha Stewart) -

Ingredients (for 2 to 3 people)?

1 bundle of spinach
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
2 1/2 cup of all purpose flour
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon of sea salt
Some extra flour for dusting and storage purpose


Steam the spinach till wilted or softened,
Wait till it cools down, drain well and transfer to a food processor,
Drain well - I mean really squeeze out the liquid from the veggie, a kitchen towel might do the trick for you.

Puree the spinach and set aside for later use.

With the same food processor,
Add in the eggs and yolks, blend till fully combined,
Pour in half of the flour, give it a few pulses then pour the in the remaining flour and salt,
Again, few pulses then just keep blending while drizzle in the olive oil at the same time,
Blend till nearly combined.

Sprinkle some flour on the working surface,
Transfer the dough over and knead till elastic, took about 6 minutes for me,
You might have to sprinkle some more flour either on the surface or on the dough if too sticky.

Wrap the dough with plastic foil and just let it rest for about an hour.

Now here it comes the labor work,
Since I don't have a pasta machine, or a pasta roller/cutter, I had to "manually" roll out the dough and cut into noodles one strip at a time.

Here's how I did it,
Divide the dough by 4,
Take a rolling pin, dust with some flour and start rolling out the dough into thin flour sheet,
Remember to dust the dough also to prevent stickiness,
Once one, I used a cutting board as my leverage in order to cut out straight lines for the noodles.

Dust the noodles; you can cook them right away or store in Ziploc bags up to months in the freezer.

But man oh man...
I think I got buff just by rolling out these 4 small dough.
Quick advice,
Invest in a pasta roller/cutter if you're planning on making more noodles and pasta in the future.

Mine is already on the way,
They're kind of costly but I think it's totally worth the $$,
What's even better?
No more sweating and man-like arms while making noodles!

Cindy's Rating: 7