Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cajun Spiced Kale Chips

  • 1 bunch kale, washed and completely dried
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • cajun seasoning (combination of garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne powder, cumin, dried oregano, salt and black pepper), or pre-mixed
  • Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F. Remove the ribs from kale and cut into 2-inch pieces. Spread kale over lined (with parchment paper) baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle the seasoning. Toss to combine. 
  • Bake in the oven until crisp, turning about halfway through, about 20 to 30 minutes. Serve as snacks or side dish to burger/sandwich.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Otak-Otak - [Indonesian] Grilled Fish Cakes


For the fish cakes:
  • 1 pound white fish fillet (preferably spanish mackerel), cubed
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk
  • 4 tablespoons tapioca starch (substitute with corn starch if not available)
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onions
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper 
  • Banana leaves, washed and wiped, cut into 4x6 for wrapping
  • Toothpicks
For the spicy peanut sauce:
  • 1/2 cup fried peanuts
  • 2-3 red Thai chili peppers
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2/3 to 1 cup water
  • 2-3 tablespoons lime juice, or rice vinegar

  • To make fish cakes: In a food processor, pulse the fish until it forms a paste. Transfer fish paste into a large glass mixing bowl. Add coconut milk, tapioca starch, egg white, sugar, green onions, salt and pepper. Mix all the ingredients until well blended.
  • Take about 2 tablespoons of fish mixture and place it in the center of a banana leaf. Wrap the fish mixture by rolling the leaf tightly, and secure both ends with toothpicks. Trim the ends with scissors if necessary. Repeat the process with the remaining fish mixture. Place the fish packets onto the preheated grill and cook for about 15 minutes, turning them over after 6 minutes for even cooking. (If using the oven, place the packets in a single layer on a baking sheet, and bake in the top third of the 450 degree oven).
  • To make spicy peanut sauce: Place fried peanut and chili peppers in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Transfer to a bowl. Add water, sugar, lime juice/vinegar, water and salt. Mix all the ingredients together until well blended.
  • Serve the fish cakes warm with the dipping sauce.

Banana Coconut Bread

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup mashed ripe banana (from 2-3 medium bananas)
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes, plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 cup flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add mashed banana, butter, and milk. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until well blended, then on high speed for 2 minutes. Add eggs and remaining flour; beat until mixed well. Stir in coconut flakes.
  • Pour batter into a greased loaf pan. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of coconut flakes over the batter. Bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Remove bread from pan and cool thoroughly. Slice before serving.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Glass Potato Chips

I have a weakness. 
A big one. 
Actually, it's like a disease. 
That is, I can't say 'no' to my children. 
3 days ago, when my kids saw this page from, they promptly expressed their amazing idea that Mom (the kitchen ninja) should try and make some, too.
And somewhere in between folding laundry and washing the dog, I haphazardly said 'yes' (or maybe unconsciously, I don't know. That moment had become one big blur....).

So I did it.
Every step in the instruction was followed meticulously, the end result surprisingly tasted like, well.....potato chips. 
Delicious, savory, herby potato chips
But they are very, very impressive, nevertheless.
Impressive enough to get that "It's awesome, Mom!" from my offsprings.
Impressive enough to get that "O Mi Gosh!! You did not, like, make these yourself, did you? I mean, It's like, whatever...It's like, friggin' cool! It's boss!" from my kid's teenage friends. (Boss??)
And impressive enough to get "You need to get out more!" from hubby.

Maybe he's right.....
And I still need to learn to say 'no'....


  • 8 red potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • sea salt
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 tablespoons potato starch
  • Fresh herbs (I used rosemary), optional
You will also need:
  • Parchment paper
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Baking sheets


Step 1:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. 
Wash the potatoes in cold water and dry them using paper towel. 
Place the potatoes on a cutting board, and using a knife, make a vertical slit on each of them, about 1 inch deep. 
Transfer the potatoes to a large bowl, add olive oil, salt and herbs (if using), toss to combine. 
Place the potatoes in a large deep baking dish, bake in the oven for about 30 minutes.

Note: I accidentally deleted the picture for this step. Now I don't have any.

Step 2:
While the potatoes are baking, pour 4 cups of water into a medium pot and bring it to the temperature right under a boil. 
Remove the potatoes from the oven. Pour the hot water directly into the baking dish. 
Cover the top of the dish and let it sit for 2 hours in room temperature.
Remove the potatoes and save for another dish.
Strain the liquid using fine mesh strainer. 
Place the stock in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for a few hours, preferably overnight.

Step 3:
Pour the chilled stock into medium pot and cook over medium heat. Add 4 tablespoons of potato starch and whisk immediately to blend. Continue cooking and whisking until the stock turns into gel form.

Step 4:
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees F. (The recipe called for 135 degrees, but 170 is the lowest my oven can go. This works, too.)
Line a baking sheet with a parchment paper.
Drop about 1/2 teaspoon of gel onto the paper, to form small dots, at least 2 inches apart.
Using the back of a small spoon, spread the dots to make them thinner (I used another piece of parchment paper to cover the dots, press them down slightly to form the semi-thin circles). Make sure that your circles are not too thin, as they will break when you fry them.

Place the baking sheet(s) in the oven and let the chips dry for several hours, or overnight. Properly dried chips will come off the parchment paper by themselves. Un-fried chips will look like the one in the picture below.

Step 5:

Pour the vegetable oil into a frying pan. Heat the oil on low setting and fry the chips, a few at the time. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towel. Sprinkle with salt, if desired.
This recipe will make a truck load of potato chips.

Note: If the oil is too hot, the chips will lose the 'glass' texture and will look like pork rind. Make sure to keep the oil temperature low at all time. Run some tests until you reach the desired temperature.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Creamy Tomato-Basil Soup Shooter with Grilled Brie Sandwich

Tomato-Basil Soup

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) crushed tomatoes 
  • Salt and pepper
  • In a soup pot, heat the oil. Add onions and garlics, cook over medium heat, stirring, until the onions turn translucent. Add milk, chicken stock, tomatoes, chopped basil into the pot. Stir to blend. Reduce the heat, simmer the soup for about 10 minutes, or until the soup thickens a little bit.
  • Transfer the soup to a blender and pulse until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Divide soup into shooter glasses or small bowls. Serve warm with mini grilled brie sandwiches.

Grilled Brie Sandwiches

  • 8 slices white bread 
  • 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 4 ounces Brie (1/2 wheel), rind/white part removed, and sliced thinly
  • Butter one side of each slice of bread and place 2 on a hot pan, buttered side down.
  • Top each bread with sliced Brie, cover with bread, buttered side up.
  • Grill until the cheese has melted and the bread turns golden brown, about 2-4 minutes per side.
  • Transfer sandwich to the cutting board. Remove the crust, and cut the sandwich into smaller pieces. Serve warm with tomato-basil soup.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Lemon Lime Basil Shortbread Cookies

87 degrees outside
The sun is shining and the birds are chirping
The kids are playing and the dog is napping
A good book in hand
A glass of orange juice on the coffee table
A plateful of lemon lime basil shortbread cookies on its side
Life.....does not suck!

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into smaller pieces
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus some more for sprinkling
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper. Place all of the ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until large moist clumps form. Measure level tablespoonfuls of dough; roll each in between your palms to form a balls. Place on the lined baking sheet, spacing 2" apart. Press each ball with the bottom of a measuring cup into 2" rounds. Sprinkle the top of each cookie with some sugar.
  • Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the edges are brown. Transfer to a word rack to cool down.

Recipe is adapted from this Epicurious entry

Friday, June 8, 2012

Slow Cooked Pork Ragu with Farfalle

Today is the last day of school for my children. Summer break will officially start tomorrow, and  I will have different kind of hectic and crazy days ahead of me. 
That means a lot of driving to and from the kids' summer camps, a lot of play date and sleepover hosting, a lot of time spent at the pool, and tons of prepare-in-advance meals to cook.
This, is just one of them.

  • 2 1/2 pounds pork shoulder, cubed (about 2 X 2 inch)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 package Farfalle (or Pappardelle, or Rigatoni)
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley

  • Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Season the pork with salt and pepper. Brown the pork on all sides, about 3-4 minutes per side. Remove pork from skillet and transfer to slow cooker. Add onions, garlics, wine, crushed tomatoes, chicken stock and bay leaves into the slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours, or on high for 4-5 hours, until the pork is fork tender and the juice thickens.
  • Remove the pork from the crock pot, shred with 2 forks to make smaller pieces. Remove bay leaves and return shredded pork into the crock pot. Season with additional salt and pepper if necessary. Simmer/warm for additional 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, cook pasta in a boiling salt water until soft, per package directions. Drain pasta, toss with pork ragu, serve immediately with grated parmesan and chopped parley.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Connor's Favorite Fish Tacos

Fish tacos with Saffron-Ancho-Lime Dressing

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 cup light mayonnaise
  • 3 garlic cloves, grind into paste
  • a pinch of saffron, crushed and soaked in 1 tablespoon warm water for 5 minutes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 pound cod filets, cut into thin strips
  • 2 medium ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and cut lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 small head cabbage, finely shredded 
  • 1 quart oil, for frying
  • 1 package corn tortillas (about 8)
  • In a large bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, cumin, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper until well mixed. Add fish strips into the flour mixture and toss until well coated in flour. 
  • In a medium bowl, combine mayonnaise, garlic paste, saffron (with water), ancho chili powder and lime juice. Mix until well blended.
  • Heat oil in a fryer to 375 degrees F. Fry the fish until they turn crisp and golden brown. 
  • To serve: Place the shredded cabbage, avocado strips, fried fish, cilantro and the dressing on a corn tortilla.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

[Indonesian] Tinoransak - Manadonese Hot and Spicy Pork Dish

  • 8 shallots
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 10 Thai bird chilies (adjust the amount to your spiciness preference)
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1/2 inch fresh turmeric, peeled
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves, shredded
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, white part only, bruised
  • 1 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 pound pork shoulder, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Using mortar and pestle, grind the first 6 ingredients until they form (slightly) chunky paste. Use food processor if mortar and pestle are not available.
  • Heat vegetable oil in a large, thick-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Stir fry the spice paste until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add pork cubes into skillet, then lemongrass, tomatoes and some sugar. Mix until well blended. Bring to boil. Reduce the heat to low, continue to simmer, stirring occasionally (add some water if the sauce becomes too dry), until the pork is tender and the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot with steamed rice.