Monday, August 31, 2009

Eggplant and Zucchini Pie with Roasted Bell Pepper Sauce

Ever since I found this recipe I wanted to try it... It looked so tasty and consisted of some of my favorite ingredients: eggplant, zucchini, goat cheese, tomatoes, hmmm...yum! I had all the veggies at home already and decided to give it a shot. I've use pre-made pie crust, blind baked it for 15 minutes than filled it with eggplant filling and baked it close to an hour, because when I checked it at 30 minute mark, the filling was still very giggly (is that even a word?)The roasted red pepper sauce is a must, I forgot to take a picture of it, but this pie is very mild in flavor and it needs an extra zip which the sauce provides. I have to admit, I was looking forward to eating this pie, but the end result was out of this world. It was soo delicious! My husband, who is generally not happy without meat in his dinner, had 2 helpings and asked if I could make it again...Now, that is what I call an endorsement. I hope you'll try this recipe and enjoy it as much as we did. It was adapted from Hubert Keller-I only used two of his recipes in the past and they were both a huge hit. I think I'll be back for more.

For this recipe you will need:
• 1 pre-baked pie shell (baked in a deep dish pie pan)
Eggplant Filling:
• 3 eggplants, ends cut off and cut in half lengthwise
• 5 tablespoons butter
• ½ cup flour
• 2 cup milk
• 4 oz goat cheese
• 4 large eggs
• Nutmeg, to taste
• Salt & Pepper, to taste
• 1 teaspoon garlic, finely minced
• Plum tomatoes, thinly sliced
• 4 small zucchini, thinly sliced (about 1 lb)
• ½ cup fresh bread crumbs
• 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
• 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Roasted Red Bell Pepper Sauce:

• ¼ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
• Onion, minced
• 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
• Plum tomatoes, blanched, peeled, seeded, diced
• 1 large red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded and diced
• ½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
• 1 teaspoon sugar or honey
• Salt & Pepper, to taste
• 6 fresh basil leaves, minced

Preheat oven to 350º F.
To prepare the filling, lightly brush a baking pan with olive oil. Place the eggplant halves skin side up
on the pan and roast in the oven for 40 – 45 minutes, or until completely tender. Remove from the
oven and set aside to cool. When cool, carefully scoop out the flesh and transfer to a strainer,
discarding the skin. Let drain for 20 minutes, and then chop coarsely.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until
blended. Gradually pour in the milk while stirring and continues to stir until the mixture thickens.
Remove from the heat. Fold in the goat cheese and the eggs one by one. Season to taste with salt,
pepper and a dash of nutmeg. Add the chopped eggplant and garlic into the mixture.
Spoon the eggplant mixture into the pie shell and spread it out evenly. Slice the tomatoes and
zucchinis into thin slices. Beginning on the outermost edge of the pie and working clockwise, arrange
alternating tomato and zucchini disks on top of the eggplant mixture, overlapping slightly. To fill the
center, arrange alternating tomato and zucchini disks counter clockwise, overlapping slightly. Sprinkle
with the breadcrumbs, thyme leaves and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Place the eggplant pie on a baking sheet in the center of the oven and bake about 30 minutes ( I baked it for 50-60 minutes)
To prepare the sauce, combine the olive oil and onion in a saucepan and sauté over medium heat for 3
minutes, or until translucent. Stir in the garlic, tomatoes, bell pepper, thyme, sugar, salt and pepper
and cook for 15 minutes, or until it thickens. Adjust the seasonings if necessary and stir in the basil.
Keep warm.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Pretzel Mania...

I asked my 4 year old daughter Olivia what she wanted to eat and she said: " Mommy, can you please make Prenzels?" Whenever we go to the mall and she sees Wetzel's Pretzels place she goes wild. Since I've never made pretzels before, I decides that today is the day and went to work...I found the recipe for New York Pretzels from Gourmet Magazine, March 2004 issue. They are reminiscent of the warm soft pretzels you may have had at baseball games or on the street, but these are even better because they're fresh. You can serve them with yellow mustard. These turned out perfectly! Crunchy and golden on the outside and soft in the middle. We Loved it!!!

* 1 tablespoon sugar
* 1 (1/4-oz) package active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
* 3 3/4 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 large egg, lightly beaten
* 2 teaspoons pretzel coarse salt

Stir together sugar, yeast, and 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water (105 to 110°F) in a glass measuring cup, then let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn't foam, discard and start over with new yeast.)

Whisk together 3 1/2 cups flour and 1 tablespoon table salt in a large bowl. Add yeast mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until it forms a dough. Dust work surface with 1 tablespoon flour, then turn out dough and knead, gradually dusting with just enough additional flour to make a smooth sticky dough, about 8 minutes. (Dough needs to be somewhat sticky to facilitate rolling and forming into pretzels).

Return dough to bowl and cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap, then let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. Turn out dough onto a clean work surface and cut into 8 equal pieces. Using your palms, roll 1 piece back and forth on a clean dry work surface into a rope about 24 inches long. If dough sticks to your hands, lightly dust them with flour. Twist dough into a pretzel shape. (Dough will retract as you form the pretzel.)

Transfer pretzel with your hands to an oiled baking sheet and form 7 more pretzels in same manner with remaining dough, spacing them 1 1/2 inches apart.

Let pretzels stand, uncovered, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, put oven rack in upper third of oven and preheat oven to 425°F. Bring a wide 6-quart pot of water to a boil.

Using both hands, carefully add 3 pretzels, 1 at a time, to boiling water and cook, turning over once with tongs, until pretzels are puffed and shape is set, about 3 minutes. Transfer parboiled pretzels to a rack to cool. Repeat with remaining 5 pretzels in 2 batches.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper and oil paper, then arrange pretzels on sheet. Brush pretzels lightly with some of egg and sprinkle with pretzel salt. Bake until golden brown and lightly crusted, about 35 minutes. Cool 15 minutes, then serve warm.

Crepes & Paris Memories...

Few years ago when George & I traveled to Paris we fell in love with the rich history and great architecture this town has to offer. It was a fabulous trip and we enjoyed every moment of it from visiting Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame & Louvre for sampling of art and history to wondering the streets and sampling the most surprising mix of fantastic food. We all know that Paris is known for its cuisine & the most decadent pastries but what I remember most are the street food... Prior to going to Paris, I had no idea that there are so many different street vendors selling anything from sandwiches to crepes...and that is where we had the BEST Crepes in the world.

In Paris, crepes can be eaten any time,and any where. There are breakfast crepes and dinner crepes, snack crepes etc. The best thing about street crepes is that they’re made fresh to order with your filling of choice. Deliciously decadent favorite is the Nutella(chocolate and hazelnut spread) crepe. I have found the picture on the Internet of one of the crepe stands in Paris. I wish I had taken one of my own when I was there but I was too busy enjoying my Nutella crepe ;)

Yesterday, when I was shopping @ Costco, I came across Nutella and knowing how much my husband would love it, decided to buy it and make Nutella crepes for breakfast this morning. This recipe makes neutral crepes that you can fill with anything sweet or savory, if you'd like to make it a dessert, add 1/4 cup of sugar as apposed to 2 TBSP.


2 eggs
2 tbsp of sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cups whole milk
1 cups water
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup vegetable oil


In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, sugar and salt. Add milk and water, stir.
Sift the flour with baking powder and add to the wet ingredients in the bowl. Whisk well, you don’t need any lumps in the batter. Add the oil, whisk again.

Heat a crêpe pan or medium size frying pan over medium heat. Very lightly brush it with oil and pour about 1/4 cup of batter onto the pan and swirl it around. Wait until the surface doesn’t appear wet and the crêpe is lightly browned on one side, about a minute, flip the crêpe onto the other side. Proceed with the other crepes till they are all made.

Sweet Potato and Zucchini Bread

Yes, you guessed it- My oven finally works!!! After much aggravation and frustration trying get it up and running, it was finally fixed last week. I had huge baking extravaganza planned for the weekend but with temperatures over 115'F, I wasn't really into using my oven too much. I did manage to bake this lovely bread, with the leftover zucchini I had in a fridge and was somewhat surprised at how well it turned out. The recipe called for zucchini and sweet potato, which I would never thought of combining but what a delicious mix! This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit magazine, November of 1992 issue. I did modify recipe a little... I used 1/2 cup brown sugar and 3/4 cup of granulated sugar instead of 2 cups of granulated sugar, recipe called for. I felt that it was plenty sweet but you can adjust it for your own taste. I also used 1/2 cup of vegetable oil and 1/4 cup of yogurt in lieu of 3/4 cup of oil asked for in the original recipe. I served it with homemade Apple Butter (recipe follows)


* 2 cups all purpose flour
* 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 2 cups sugar( I used 1/2 cup brown & 3/4 cup of granulated sugar instead)
* 3/4 cup vegetable oil ( I used 1/2 cup vegetable oil and 1/4 of plain yogurt)
* 3 large eggs
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1 1/2 cups grated zucchini
* 1 1/2 cups grated peeled sweet potato
* 1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. Sift first 5 ingredients into medium bowl. Beat sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla to blend in large bowl. Mix in zucchini and sweet potato. Add dry ingredients and walnuts and stir well.

Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 20 minutes. Cool bread in pan on rack 15 minutes. Cut around bread to loosen. Turn out onto rack and cool completely. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Wrap in foil and let stand at room temperature.)


4 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored
1 cup apple cider
2 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp each ground cloves and allspice

Combine apples and cider in a very large stainless steel or enamel saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and boil gently for 20 minutes or until mixture is reduced by half.
Stir in sugar, spices and lemon juice. Return to a boil, reduce heat, and boil gently for about 25 minutes or until mixture is very thick. There should still be some tender apple chunks remaining. Remove from heat. You can puree if you'd like a smooth butter

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Tag

What a week... I finally have a moment to make up some postings that I should have had up few days ago. Last week, my foodie blog buddy Anncoo from Anncoo's Hobby tagged me. Thanks so much Ancoo you've made my day.

The Rules

1. Link the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Share the ABCs of you.
4. Tag 4 people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.
5. Let the 4 tagged people know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website.
6. Do not tag the same person repeatedly but try to tag different people, so that there is a big network of bloggers doing this tag. it goes:

1. A – Available/Single? Married
2. B – Best friend? Alise
3. C – Cake or Pie? Cake
4. D – Drink of choice? Coffee
5. E – Essential item you use every day? Computer
6. F – Favorite color? Green
7. G – Gummy Bears Or Worms? Gummy Bear
8. H – Hometown? Henderson, NV
9. I – Indulgence? Desserts
10. J – January or February? January
11. K – Kids & their names? Olivia Grace
12. L – Life is incomplete without? Family
13. M – Marriage date? Hot summer evening
14. N – Number of siblings? 2 sisters
15. O – Oranges or Apples? Apples
16. P – Phobias/Fears? Locks- None
17. Q – Quote for today? Stay Positive
18. R – Reason to smile? Spending time with my husband and daughter
19. S – Season? Autumn
20. T – Tag 3 People? Cooking Practice,Kim,Cooking Gallery,Noelle
21. U – Unknown fact about me? I'm an open book
22. V – Vegetable you don't like? None
23. W – Worst habit? Procrastination
24. X – X-rays you've had? Dental x-rays in February
25. Y – Your favorite food? Too many to list
26. Z – Zodiac sign? Pisces

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Belgian Waffles

My father in law is a big fan of waffles. He generally gets them in a restaurant or uses purchased waffle mix at home. We do not get to see our parents often, so whenever they do come to visit we spoil them by making their favorite foods. This is my favorite waffle recipe. Adapted from Gourmet magazine, June of 2005 issue. They are moist and soft on the insider and crispy on the outside, hmmmm heavenly!

* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 2 tablespoons sugar
* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 3/4 teaspoon salt
* 2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
* 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
* 2 large eggs
* Vegetable oil for waffle iron

Put oven rack in middle position and put a large metal cooling rack directly on it. Preheat oven to 250°F and preheat waffle iron.

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.

Whisk together buttermilk, melted butter, and eggs in another bowl, then whisk into flour mixture until just combined.

Brush hot waffle iron lightly with vegetable oil and pour a batter into the waffle mold. Cook waffles according to manufacturer's instructions until golden and cooked through, about 3 minutes. Transfer as cooked to rack in oven to keep warm, keeping waffles in 1 layer to stay crisp. Make more waffles in same manner.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Chicken Parmesan

Since I can't use my oven, I've been cooking up a storm. I love having company to cook for and since my in laws are still visiting, it's a great excuse for me to experiment. I am not a big fan of chicken breast, but there are few dishes that I love to use it for...I always found that it is dry and flavorless (but then again, it might be me, not knowing how to cook it properly) One of the few dishes that I love to use chicken breast for is Chicken Parmesan. This recipe has always been a HUGE hit! It is very easy, flavorful and produces very crispy chicken that is moist on the inside. I've used Prego pasta sauce because it is my husband's favorite, but you can make your own or use your favorite brand.

* 1/3 cup (1 1/2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
* 1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
* 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
* 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
* 1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
* 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
* 1 pound chicken breast tenders
* 1 tablespoon butter
* 1 1/2 cups bottled of Prego Pasta Sauce or your favorite one.
* 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
* 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
* 1/3 cup (1 1/2 ounces) shredded provolone cheese

Combine 2 tablespoons of Parmesan, breadcrumbs, parsley, basil, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a shallow dish. Place egg white in a shallow dish. Dip each chicken tender in egg white; dredge in the breadcrumb mixture. Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 3 minutes on each side or until done. Set aside.

Combine 1/8 teaspoon salt, pasta sauce, vinegar, and pepper in a skillet. Cook until heated through. Pour the sauce over chicken in pan. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining Parmesan and provolone cheese and fresh basil (if you like it). Put cover on and let the cheese melt.

Serve with spaghetti noodles.

Oven Drama... VENT

As I mentioned in a previous post, my oven died one July afternoon when I least expected it...It's been 33 days, 792 hours and 47520 minutes since I baked anything :( The timing couldn't have been worse...My daughter's birthday, my in laws visiting...I could have used my oven in the worst way. The first time I had to purchase Olivia's Birthday cake, instead of making one :(

I'M ANGRY!!! I have had a repair technician came by on July 24th and diagnosed the problem. I was told that the main relay board needs to be replaced. I was quoted $530 and asked to pay 50% deposit before they can order a part. I did that on 7/27 and was told that it will take 5-10 days for the part to arrive. On 8/2 I called to see what was the status of the part and was advised that my order had been lost and they've just placed another order today (8/2) and it will take yet another 5-10 days for the part to arrive. Finally the part showed up on 8/19....Chris-the tech showed up with the part, took my oven apart and then realized that the part the came was not a relay board but display board?!!! ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME? Anyway, I calmly requested that since they seem to have made a mistake, they should re-order the part and ship it next day air...Chris said that he is sorry and of course he would order it the next day but the $65 shipping will be passed on to me! I don't have to tell you that I nearly lost it when he said that... I immediately called the manager and demanded that they not only order the part next day air and pay for shipping but also have it installed the very day, the part gets here! The manager was very nice and accommodating, and ultimately I've gotten my way. The part gotten here and was installed last Wednesday. I was working on a plum crumble yesterday for my friend's BBQ and was thrilled to be able to finally bake something, when my oven stopped working again... Not really stop working but have gone cold. It seems to preheat just fine but does not keep the heat. I called Sam (the manager) again and was told that David-senior tech and Bosh certified tech will be here first thing on Monday morning to remedy the situation... At this point I am SUPER PISSED OFF and worried that the very expensive part, I just paid for might not have been the problem to begin with... Well, I will keep you posted after I know more but for now, thanks for reading and letting me vent...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Orzo Pasta Salad

I had some leftover vegetables in my fridge and wanted to make something that is light and refreshing. Few years back when we first moved to Vegas, I attended the luncheon where they served sandwiches... My favorite one was a veggie sandwich, it consisted of grilled eggplant and zucchini with goat cheese, served on sourdough bread. It was soooo delicious! I wanted to make a salad that is healthy and light but still delicious and use grilled vegetables. I love orzo and combined with grilled veggies, fresh tomatoes and refreshing lemon vinaigrette it is a winning combination.

Orzo Pasta Salad

* 1 pound orzo, cooked


* 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
* 1 teaspoon of dry oregano
* 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
* 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
* 1/2 cup olive oil
* 1 teaspoon of salt
*1/2 teaspoon of black pepper

Mix lemon juice, oregano, dijon mustard and lemon peel. After it is all combined, add olive oil in small stream while whisking continuously to make a vinaigrette. Set aside.

* 1 small eggplant, sliced lengthwise into 1/4 slices
* 1 zucchini, sliced lengthwise into 1/4 slices
* 1 yellow squash, sliced lengthwise into 1/4 slices
* 1 medium red onion, sliced lengthwise into 1/4 slices
* 8 oz of steamed broccoli
* 8 oz of steamed cauliflower
* 1 pint of cherry tomatoes
* Handful of cilantro leaves

Steam broccoli and cauliflower till tender, set aside. Brush eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash and red onion slices with olive oil and grill till tender. Chopped in bite size pieces. Cut cherry tomatoes in half, chop cilantro leaves.
In a large bowl combine cooked orzo, grilled veggies, tomatoes, cilantro, and steamed broccoli and cauliflower. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and mix well. add salt and pepper if needed.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Greek Panzanella Salad

I saw a new episode of Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics yesterday... As you know Ina is one of my favorite if not THE Favorite chef. One of the recipes she made on the show was a Greek panzanella, a twist on a traditional Italian salad but with olives, feta cheese and Greek vinaigrette. It was a HUGE HIT!!! If you like traditional panzanella, you will love this one as well.

* Good olive oil
* 1 small French bread cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
* Kosher salt
* 1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
* 1 red bell pepper, large diced
* 1 yellow bell pepper, large diced
* 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
* 1/2 red onion, sliced in half rounds
* 1/2 pound feta cheese, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
* 1/2 cup calamata olives, pitted

For the vinaigrette:

* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 teaspoon dried oregano
* 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
* 1/4 cup good red wine vinegar
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 1/2 cup good olive oil


Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread cubes and sprinkle with salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 5 to 10 minutes, until nicely browned. Add more olive oil as needed.

Place the cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, tomatoes and red onion in a large bowl.

For the vinaigrette, whisk together the garlic, oregano, mustard, vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper in a small bowl. While still whisking, add the olive oil and make an emulsion. Pour the vinaigrette over the vegetables. Add the feta, olives and bread cubes and mix together lightly. Set aside for 30 minutes for the flavors to blend. Serve at room temperature.

Blueberry Pancakes

I wasn't sure what to make for breakfast today...Confronted with having to make breakfast for 6 and one that everybody likes, it was a challenge. I would normally make a fritata of some sort, but with no oven, that was not an option. "How about pancakes?" Olivia asked...not a bad idea. I had some fresh blueberries on hand, so blueberry pancakes it is. I love Martha Stewart's buttermilk pancake recipe with blueberries. Here is the recipe:

* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 3 tablespoons sugar
* 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
* 3 cups buttermilk
* 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1. Heat griddle. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl. Add eggs, buttermilk, and 4 tablespoons butter; whisk to combine. Batter should have small to medium lumps.
2. Heat oven to 175 degrees. Test griddle by sprinkling a few drops of water on it. If water bounces and spatters off griddle, it is hot enough. Using a pastry brush, brush remaining 1/2 teaspoon of butter or reserved bacon fat onto griddle. Wipe off excess.
3. Using a 4-ounce ladle, about 1/2 cup, pour pancake batter, in pools 2 inches away from one other. When pancakes have bubbles on top and are slightly dry around edges, about 2 1/2 minutes, flip over. Cook until golden on bottom, about 1 minute.
4. Repeat with remaining batter, keeping finished pancakes on a heatproof plate in oven. Serve warm.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Daring Cooks Challenge-Rice with mushrooms, cuttlefish and artichokes

This month's Daring Cooks challenge hosted by Olga from Las Cosas de Olga and Olga’s Recipes is Rice with Mushrooms, Cuttlefish and Artichokes. I have to say I've been a little disappointed since I've joined Daring Cooks two months ago...Both my husband and daughter are allergic to fish and both recipes so far were centered around fish. I decided to skip last month's challenge due to fish allergies in my house, but this month I was lucky enough to have my mother in law, who is a fish enthusiast, visiting, so I decided to give this challenge a try... Overall it was a pretty straightforward process, but I did make some changes (see below) I also did not use saffron or tumeric, I did not have either in my spice cabinet... I don't know how this happend because I seem to have all spices known to men in my kitchen...LOL As a result, my paella was a bit pale. I've never had a paella before and did not expect to love it, but what a wonderful meal, so flavorful and delicious!!!

Rice with Mushrooms, Cuttlefish and Artichokes

Cooking time: 45 minutes

1 Chopping Board
1 knife
1 medium saucepan
1 Paella pan (30 cm/11” is enough for 4 people. If not available, you may use a simple pan that size)
1 Saucepan

Ingredients: (serves 4):

* 4 Artichokes- I used jarred
* 12 Mushrooms-Portobello
* 1 or 2 Bay leaves
* 1 glass of white wine
* 2 Cuttlefish
* 2 lb of shrimp
* “Sofregit” (see recipe below)
* 2 cups Short grain rice (Spanish types Calasparra or Montsant are preferred, but you can choose any other short grain. This kind of rice absorbs flavor very well) – ½ cup per person.
* Water or Fish Stock (use 1 ½ cup of liquid per ½ cup of rice)
* Saffron threads-skipped this step
* Allioli (olive oil and garlic sauce, similar to mayonnaise sauce) – optional


1. Cut the cuttlefish in little strips.
2. Add 1 or 2 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and put the cuttlefish in the pan.
3. If you use fresh artichokes, clean them as shown in the video in tip #7. Cut artichokes in eights. Clean the mushrooms and cut them in fourths.
4. Add a bay leaf to the cuttlefish and add also the artichokes and the mushrooms.
5. Sauté until we get a golden color in the artichokes.
6. Put a touch of white wine so all the solids in the bottom of the get mixed, getting a more flavorful dish.
7. Add a couple or three tablespoons of sofregit and mix to make sure everything gets impregnated with the sofregit.
8. Add all the liquid and bring it to boil.
9. Add all the rice. Let boil for about 5 minutes in heavy heat.
10. Add some saffron thread to enrich the dish with its flavor and color. Stir a little bit so the rice and the other ingredients get the entire flavor. If you’re using turmeric or yellow coloring, use only 1/4 teaspoon.
11. Turn to low heat and boil for another 8 minutes (or until rice is a little softer than “al dente”)
12. Put the pan away from heat and let the rice stand a couple of minutes. Add the shrimp and let it steam, so they do not overcook.

Sofregit (a well cooked and fragrant sauce made of olive oil, tomatoes, garlic and onions, and may at times different vegetables such as peppers or mushrooms)

Cooking time: approximately 1 hour


* 2 tablespoons of olive oil
* 5 big red ripe tomatoes, chopped
* 2 small onions, chopped
* 1 green pepper, chopped (optional)
* 4 or 5 garlic cloves, chopped
* 1 cup of button or Portobello mushrooms, chopped (optional)
* 1 Bay leaf
* Salt
* Touch of ground cumin
* Touch of dried oregano


1. Put all the ingredients together in a frying pan and sauté slowly until all vegetables are soft.
2. Taste and salt if necessary (maybe it’s not!)

Allioli is the optional part of the recipe. You must choose one of the two recipes given, even though I highly recommend you to try traditional one. Allioli is served together with the rice and it gives a very nice taste

Allioli (Traditional recipe)

Cooking time: approximately 20 min


* 4 garlic cloves, peeled
* Pinch of salt
* Fresh lemon juice (some drops)
* Extra-virgin olive oil (Spanish preferred but not essential)


1. Place the garlic in a mortar along with the salt.
2. Using a pestle, smash the garlic cloves to a smooth paste. (The salt stops the garlic from slipping at the bottom of the mortar as you pound it down.)
3. Add the lemon juice to the garlic.
4. Drop by drop; pour the olive oil into the mortar slowly as you continue to crush the paste with your pestle.
5. Keep turning your pestle in a slow, continuous circular motion in the mortar. The drip needs to be slow and steady. Make sure the paste soaks up the olive oil as you go.
6. Keep adding the oil, drop by drop, until you have the consistency of a very thick mayonnaise. If your allioli gets too dense, add water to thin it out. This takes time—around 20 minutes of slow motion around the mortar—to create a dense, rich sauce.

José's tips for traditional recipe: It's hard to think that, when you start crushing the garlic, it will ever turn into something as dense and smooth as allioli. But don't give up. It's worth the extra time and effort to see the oil and garlic come together before your eyes. Just make sure you're adding the olive oil slowly, drop by drop. Keep moving the pestle around the mortar in a circular motion and keep dreaming of the thick, creamy sauce at the end of it all.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Braised Eggplant in garlic sauce

I was talking to my mother in law today about cooking eggplant...We went out to lunch and among all the goodies we ordered was a braised eggplant-sooo yummy!!! I've never eaten eggplant growing up but enjoy it great deal in the past few years. I generally serve it grilled, in a salad or in Moussaka (traditional eggplant-based dish that comes out of the Mediterranean, made with eggplant, ground meat and tomatoes, onions and some kind of pepper) but have never braised it. I feel a little intimidated when it comes to asian dishes, it just seems so complicated when you looking at the recipe. Those of you who know me, know that I do not shy away from the challenge and since there is no time like a present, I decided to make my own version of braised eggplant in garlic sauce... The outcome was delicious!! It was a bit spicy but I think it gives the eggplant a little zip, which is needed.

4 Asian eggplants or 1 large regular eggplant (about 1 1/4 lbs)
1 tsp salt

3/4 cup chicken broth
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp dry sherry or Chinese rice wine
2 tsp seasame oil
2 tsp hoisin sauce
2 tsp chili paste

2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbps minced garlic
1 tsp minced ginger
2 green onions (including tops) thinly sliced
2 tsp cornstarch disolved in water
4 tsp water
Slivered green onion for garnish


Peel the eggplant and cut it into 1/2 inch cubes. Place in a medium bowl, sprinkle with salt, and toss gently to mix. Set aside for 30 minutes.
Combine the sauce ingredients in a medium bowl. Drain and rinse the eggplant and squeeze it dry. Place a wok or wide frying pan over high heat until hot. Add the vegetable oil, swirling to coat the sides. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Add the eggplant, green onions, mix well. Add the sauce. Reduce the heat to medium, cover the pan and braise until the eggplant is tender and the liquid is slightly reduced, about 10 minutes. Add the cornstarch solution and cook, stirring, until the sauce boils and thickens. Garnish with slivered green onions.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Southwest-Style Salisbury Steaks

Continuing with the spirit of making something new everyday while my in laws are visiting...On today's menu, we have Southwest-Style Salisbury Steaks which I served with mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes and cucumber-dill salad. The cucumber salad is a twist on popular Polish dish called mizeria.

Salisbury Steaks

* 1 1/2 pounds ground chuck beef
* 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
* 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
* 1 4-ounce can chopped mild green chilies
* 2 tablespoons minced green onions
* 1 tablespoon tequila
* 2 teaspoons chili powder
* 1 teaspoon salt

Using hands, gently mix first 8 ingredients in large bowl just until blended. Form into four 3/4-inch-thick oval patties.

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Grill patties until cooked to desired doneness.

Mushroom Gravy

1 lb of baby portabello mushrooms, sliced
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cups milk
2 cup of beef broth

Melt the butter in the same skillet, and add the mushrooms. Cook and stir for about 2 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over, and mix in until blended. Stir in the milk and beef broth. Cook and stir over medium heat until smooth and starting to thicken. Return the patties to the gravy and cook over low heat, uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Cucumber Salad-Mizeria

2 English Cucumbers
1 cup of greek yougurt
1/4 cup of chopped fresh dill
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a medium bowl mix greek yogurt, dill and season with salt and pepper, add cucumber slices and mix well.

Gail's Fresh Tomato Basil Soup & Grilled Cheese

I love grilled cheese sandwiches...Whenever I do not know what to make for dinner I seem to gravitate toward some sort of grilled sandwich/panini. It generally is a glorified grilled cheese as I am a HUGE cheese lover. No grilled cheese would be complete without tomato soup. For many years I could not find a good and easy recipe for tomato soup, until my friend Ali given me her sister's recipe for a fresh tomato/basil soup. It is very easy and quick soup, rich in bright tomato and basil flavors. If you like tomato and basil combination this is a must try recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as my family does. Thank you Ali & Gail for sharing!!!

Gail's Fresh Tomato & Basil Soup

3 TBS of butter
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 onion, chopped
28 oz can of crashed tomatoes
15 leaves of fresh basil (use more if you like the basil flavor)
1 can of chicken stock
1 tsp of sugar
cayenne pepper to taste
Salt to taste
1/2 cup of Heavy cream

Saute butter, garlic and onion till soft, put it in the blender, add basil and blend till smooth, add crashed tomatoes and blend till pureed. Return to pan and add chicken stock, season with cayenne pepper, salt and sugar. Heat just till boiling (do not boil)Add heavy cream, remove from heat and serve.

Serve alone or with your favorite grilled cheese sandwich.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Abundance of Broccoli

Somehow I've ended up with 5 lbs bag of broccoli florets...Don't ask me why or how, I'm sure I bought it in one of my "let's eat healthier" Costco trips and after using the first pound I did not know what to do with the rest. As I mentioned in my previous post, my mother in law is visiting and she likes EVERYTHING, I kid you not, there isn't a thing that I've ever saw her complaining about when it comes to food. I don't know where she puts it either, she has a fabulous figure and can eat anything she'd like...My point is that since she is in town I can cook anything at all especially things I generally stay away from because my hubby does not like it. Cheddar and broccoli soup is one of those things I would not cook just for the 3 of us but with MIL in town and 4 lbs of broccoli left in the fridge it was a natural choice.

I've never made a Cheddar Broccoli Soup before and wanted a good recipe...I turn to my friend Vikki who has a lot of experience in the kitchen and is an expert on a lot of different dishes. She had great suggestions but I ultimately made a mish-mash of different recipes to create Sylwia's Original.

3 tablespoons butter, room temperature
3 pounds fresh broccoli
1 large onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 Celery chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups of water
1 cup of half and half
1 roasted red pepper (you can use more if you like roasted peppers)
2 cloves of garlic minced
2 cups of sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Melt butter over medium-high heat. Add broccoli, onion, carrot, celery and garlic salt and pepper and saute until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the roasted red pepper chopped and cook for 1 minute. Add stock and bring to boil.

Simmer uncovered until broccoli is tender, about 15 minutes. Pour in half and half. Puree the soup. Add cheddar cheese, salt and pepper, to taste, and ENJOY!

The end result was very YUMMY and a hit with everybody including my Hubby and Olivia.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Stuffed crepes-Krokiety

I don't get the chance to cook much Polish food these days but every now and again I get a craving for tastes of my childhood...Krokiety are Polish crepes filled with cooked sourkraut, mushrooms and fried onion. They taste great served with red borsch (beet soup) These were a staple in our house and we all loved it. I know not a lot of people like sourkraut but these were a hit even with people who were adamant that they do not eat/will not try anything with sourkraut in it. I realize that I can't convert you into sourkraut lover but if you would give this recipe a try you will see how DELICIOUS it is. My husband (NO SOURKRAUT KIND OF GUY) and my daughter who is 4 years old are now huge fans of these tasty treats as well.


2 eggs
2 tbsp of sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cups whole milk
1 cups water
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup vegetable oil


In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, sugar and salt. Add milk and water, stir.
Sift the flour with baking powder and add to the wet ingredients in the bowl. Whisk well, you don’t need any lumps in the batter. Add the oil, whisk again.

Heat a crêpe pan or medium size frying pan over medium heat. Very lightly brush it with oil and pour about 1/4 cup of batter onto the pan and swirl it around. Wait until the surface doesn’t appear wet and the crêpe is lightly browned on one side, about a minute, flip the crêpe onto the other side. Proceed with the other crepes till they are all made.


2 1/4 cup of sauerkraut
8 oz mushrooms -( wild mushrooms would be perfect, but any other will do fine as well),chopped
1 big onion, chopped
chicken broth
salt, pepper to taste

Boil chicken broth, add sauerkraut and cook it for about 15 minutes until soft,drain it and put aside. In the skillet melt 1 tablespoon of butter, add chopped onion, fry until well cooked. Season with salt and pepper.

When our sauerkraut is drained and of room temperature chop it into small pieces.
Then mix it with mushrooms and onions, season with salt and pepper.

Next, take one crepe, place it on a smooth surface,place 2 tablespoons of mushroom filling in to the center of the crepe; spread it evenly leaving about 1/2 inch border along the edge.

Roll your crepe so that all the corners were inside. The best way to do it is to fold two opposite corners toward the middle of the crepe, then still pressing these corners roll two remaining corners .If you look at the shorter side of your crepe it will look like a snail :)with no filling visible.

Finally, place your crepes into beaten egg making sure that it is coated well, then into bread crumbs . Heat a skillet with 4 tablespoons of oil. cook each crepe so it was fried on each side.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Chicken sun dried tomato alfredo pasta

So, it seems I have some blogging to do...It's been couple of weeks since I've posted anything and I'm a little...OK, very envious of all of your creations!
I am in mourning... On July 21st, 2009 tragedy striked in my kitchen... MY OVEN DIED :( I was going to roast some potatoes for dinner and it refused to heat up... Now, how often does that happen? This is the first oven EVER that had gone dead on me... I though Bosh appliances supposed to be good! I had a technician come to fix it and was told that my main rely board is fried and is going to cost $530 to get it working again!!! So, here I am two weeks later, with both ovens out of commission, miserable waiting for the new relay board to show up... there is no telling how long it will take Bosh to send the part so I can get some baking therapy. I've never thought that not having an oven will have that much of an impact on my day to day life, but it has been very challenging. I guess I did not realize how much I've used the oven till I no longer had it available.

Needless to say, I've been trying to keep myself out of trouble by cooking...My in-laws are visiting and my mother in law is a HUGE pasta fan... The pasta # 1 is adapted from Guy Fieri's recipe:

Chicken sun dried tomato alfredo pasta

* 4 chicken breasts cut into cubes
* 2 tabelspoons of Cajun spice
* 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
* 3 tablespoons minced garlic
* 1 cup marinated sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
* 1/4 cup white wine
* 3 cups heavy cream
* 3/4 cup grated Parmesan
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 1 pound cooked fettuccine
* 1/2 cup sliced asparagus
* 1/4 cup of green onions

Generously sprinkle chicken with Cajun spice and brown it in the skillet. Remove the chicken and put it aside.

In a saute pan over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil. Add garlic and lightly caramelize. Then add the sun-dried tomatoes, asparagus and chicken. Deglaze the pan with the white wine. Add the heavy cream, increase the heat to a simmer, and reduce the cream sauce by half.

When the cream sauce is to desired consistency, stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan, salt, pepper, and pasta.

Nest the pasta on large rimmed plates, pour sauce over pasta, and garnish with scallions and the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan.