Archive | May, 2010


30 May

Oh Radish, why so angry? Why are you making your face so red by screaming at the top of your lungs? You’re so spicy for a spring veg. You just got here.
These little guys lend their peppery bite to yogurt for souvlaki or tandoori skewers.


1/2 cup (125 ml) yogurt
1/3 cup (75 ml) mayonnaise
1/4 cup (50 ml) shredded or chopped radishes
1 tbsp (15 ml) chopped fresh cilantro or dill
1/4 tsp (1 ml) freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp (1 ml) salt

Combine all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate up to 1 hour. Yield: 1 cup (250 ml).
Tandoori Chicken With Radish Sauce Bamboo Skewers

1/2 cup (125 ml) yogurt
1/4 cup (50 ml) fresh lemon juice
1 tsp (5 ml) paprika
1 tsp (5 ml) turmeric
1/2 tsp (2 ml) ginger
1/2 tsp (2 ml) coriander
1/2 tsp (2 ml) cumin
1/4 tsp (1 ml) cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp (1 ml) salt
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 in. (2.5 cm) pieces

Soak bamboo skewers in hot water for 30 minutes. To prepare marinade, combine next 10 ingredients (yogurt through garlic) in a heavy zip-lock plastic bag. Add chicken and squeeze bag to coat chicken with marinade; seal bag. Let stand 30 minutes. Remove chicken from marinade and thread onto soaked skewers; discard marinade. Grill chicken skewers over medium heat on natural gas barbecue, turning occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Serve with radish sauce. Serves 4 to 6.

3/4 cup (175 mL) plain yogurt
1/4 cup (50 mL) sour cream
1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp (25 mL) chopped fresh mint
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon juice
1 cup (250 mL) coarsely grated red radish (about 5-6 medium radishes), squeezed of excess moisture
Salt and white pepper to taste

Place the first 5 ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine. Mix in the radish, salt and pepper. Cover and store in the fridge until needed. Can be readied several hours in advance.

Makes 2 cups.

Cocktail hour

28 May

Hoarding. We know, we know. Too many recipes from Vij. But we’ve broken them into two posts.
We think any of these dishes would make lovely nibbles to go with drinks.

60 grams fresh gingerroot
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
about 4 cups sparkling water, chilled

Finely grate ginger. Either use your hand to squeeze the juice from the ginger, or wring it out in a small piece of muslim. There should be four teaspoons of ginger juice.
Mix the ginger juice, lime, lemon, sugar and salt together.
Stir until sugar dissolves. Pour into four glasses.
Top up with water.

• 5 Cups Whole Mixed Nuts
• ¼ C Vij’s Garam Masala Spices
• 1/2 C Butter
• ½ C Honey
• Salt & Pepper

Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat and add the garam masala and toast until you can begin to smell the spices.  Add the butter and the honey and cook until the butter and honey are melted and the spices are well infused.
Add the nuts and cook until the nuts are beginning to brown and are well coated in the spice mixture. 
Remove to a silicone lined baking sheet to cool.  Pack into an airtight container once cool and serve as needed.

Pan-fried salmon potato cakes
What you need 
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 egg
1 pound fresh or tinned wild salmon
1/2 pound boiled and mashed russet potato or a little more
1/4 pound boiled and mashed yam
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/3 cup finely chopped onions
1 tablespoon finely chopped jalapeno peppers
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
11/2 tablespoons garam masala or 1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ajwain seeds
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup canola oil for pan frying
What you do 
Lightly pound coriander seeds in a mortar or on a plate with a heavy spoon. (You just want to break the seeds in half.) Set aside.
Beat the egg in a small bowl.
If you are using fresh salmon, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Immerse salmon and cook for five minutes. Remove from the heat, drain and allow the salmon to cool. Peel off the skin.
Thoroughly combine all ingredients except the oil in a large mixing bowl.
With your hands, form round cakes about two inches in diameter and one inch thick. Set them on a baking tray.
Heat one tablespoon of the oil in a shallow nonstick frying pan on high heat.
Once the oil is hot, reduce the heat to medium so the cakes don’t stick to the bottom of the pan or burn.
Place two cakes in the pan and cook for two to three minutes. Turn the cakes over and cook for another two to three minutes. The cakes should be brown and crispy on both sides.
Repeat, using one tablespoon of the oil for each two cakes, until all the cakes are cooked.
Serve the cakes as they are done, or keep warm on a plate in the oven.
Chutney makes a nice accompaniment.
Serves 6.

“This was one of our most popular appetizers at Vij’s. Wait until the weekend and open a bottle of Riesling to go with it. The kale smoothens out flavours of the livers and the Indian spices.  Although you can’t taste it, you must add it. One bunch of kale normally has seven to eight stalks. Take about three large stalks and tear off the kale leaves. It doesn’t matter if you’re slightly off. Asafetida and garam masala add a depth of flavour. If you have neither, you can skip the asafetida and use ground cumin in place of the garam masala.”


    1/2     cup canola oil
    1/2     teaspoon asafetida
    1     medium to large red onion, finely chopped
    1     teaspoon garam masala or ground cumin
    1/2     teaspoon ground fenugreek seeds
    1/2     teaspoon ground red cayenne pepper
    1/4     teaspoon turmeric
    1     teaspoon salt
    1     cup pureed tomatoes (two large)
    1     lb chicken livers, washed
    1 1/2 ounces kale leaves, washed and finely chopped
    3     tablespoons dry white wine
    1     box sturdy crackers for serving

Heat oil in a medium pot on high heat for 1 minute. Add asafetida and cook for 10 seconds. Add onions, reduce the heat to medium and saute for 5 to 8 minutes, or until golden brown. Add garam masala, fenugreek, cayenne, turmeric and salt. Stir well and add tomatoes.  Saute for another 8 to 10 minutes, until the oil glistens on top.

Stir in chicken livers and kale leaves, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring regularly but gently. Once chicken livers harden a bit and stop bleeding during the cooking process, they are cooked. Remove from the stove and cool for 45 minutes.  

In a food processor, combine the chicken liver mixture and the white wine. Puree until smooth. Transfer to a stainless steel or glass bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.  

Serve with crackers.

Vij-ions of nirvana

27 May

We know, we know. Another ghetto fabulous bberry photo. We’re getting a camera soon, honest!

From the Vancouver legend Vikram Vij and his cookbook, Vij’s: Elegant and Inspired Indian Cuisine (Douglas & McIntyre, 205 pp., $40).

About 1/4 cup of oil is the most we’ve dared to add. We’ve also been adding coconut milk at the end instead of sour cream. Best yet!

½ Cup Canola Oil
2 Cups Finely Chopped Onions (2 Large)
3-inch Stick of Cinnamon
3 Tbsp Finely Chopped Garlic
2 Tbsp Chopped Ginger
2 Cups Chopped Tomatoes (2 Large)
1 Tbsp Sea Salt
½ tsp Ground Black Pepper
1 tsp Turmeric
1 Tbsp Ground Cumin
1 Tbsp Ground Coriander
1 Tbsp Garam Masala
½ tsp Ground Cayenne Pepper (I used 1 ½ tsp)
3 lbs Chicken Thighs, bone in
1 Cup Sour Cream, stirred
2 Cups Water
½ Cup Chopped Cilantro (including stems)
In a large pan, heat oil on medium heat for 1 minute. Add onions and cinnamon, and sauté for 5 to 8 minutes, until onions are golden. Add garlic and sauté for another 4 minutes. Add ginger, tomatoes, salt, black pepper, turmeric, cumin, coriander, garam masala and cayenne. Cook this masala for 5 minutes, or until the oil separates from the masala. Remove and discard skin from the chicken thighs. Wash thighs and add to the masala. Stir well. Cook chicken for 10 minutes, until the chicken looks cooked on the outside. Add sour cream and water and stir well. Increase the heat medium-high. When curry starts to boil, reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes, stirring 2 or 3 times, until chicken is completely cooked. Poke the thighs with a knife. If the meat is still pink, cook for 5 more minutes. Remove and discard the cinnamon stick. Cool curry for at least half an hour. Transfer cooled chicken to a mixing bowl. Wearing latex gloves, peel chicken meat off the bones. Discard bones and stir chicken back into the curry. Just before serving, heat the curry on medium heat until it starts to boil lightly. Stir in cilantro. Serves 8

The real secret to this recipe is to let the curry sit and cool for as long as you can- an hour is the minimum. This allows the flavours to blend together beautifully
from Bon Appetit’s readers’ favourite restaurant recipes, Jan/09
1 1/2 cups plain whole milk yogurt
1 1/2 cups canned tomato puree
3 Tablespoons ground cumin
2 Tablespoons ground coriander
2 Tablespoons canola oil
4 teaspoons paprika
1 Tablespoon celery seed
1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cardamom pods, cracked
10 whole cloves
5 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
2 pounds chicken thighs
hanful of chopped cilantro
Preheat oven to 375.  Whisk first 13 ingredients in a 2 quart baking dish.  Add chicken, and stir to coat the chicken with the sauce.  Bake until chicken is cooked through (for bone-in thighs, I cooked them 50 minutes).
Garnish with cilantro and serve with basmati rice.
2 cups cilantro, chopped
½ cup mint, chopped
2 jalapenos, finely chopped
1.5 cups red onion, chopped
1 tablespoon ginger, chopped
1 cup water
½ cup canola oil
1.5 tablespoons cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seed
3 tablespoons garlic , crushed
1 tablespoon salt
2 cup plain yoghourt, stirred, or 3/4C whole buttermilk
3 lbs chicken thighs, bone in
3 cups basmati rice, cooked
Mix cilantro leaves and stems, mint leaves, jalapenos, and ginger in a food processor and the cup of water and puree until smooth, set the cutney aside.
Heat oil in a heavy shallow pot on med heat for 1 min. Add cumin and coriander seeds and allow them to sizzle for about 30 seconds.
Add garlic and saute for about 3 minutes or until golden brown, Stir in salt.
Turn off the heat and after 2-3 minutes stir in 1C yogourt. Add chicken thighs and stir well. Turn the heat to medium and cover and cook for about 25 minutes, stirring regularly. (If you have the time, let it cook a little longer, then the chicken should just fall off the bone.) Remove curry from the heat and cool for about 20 minutes.
Transfer chicken to a mixing bowl. Wearing latex gloves peel chicken meat off the bones. The size of the chicken pieces doesn’t matter but do not shred them. Discard bones and stir chicken back into curry.
Stir in mint-cilantro chutney and the other cup of yogourt, About 15 mins before serving bring curry to a boil on medium heat. Turn down the heat to a summer cook, uncovered for about 10 minutes or until chicken is ell mixed.
Serve over rice.
Important Cooking tips from Vikram: Smell the cinnamon bark. If it’s very strong, break the bark in ½ and only use half. If it’s not strong enough, add ½ bark. Smell for the cinnamon throughout the cooking process. You should smell a mild cinnamon flavour instead of a strong one. If cinnamon is the only spice you smell, take out the bark and continue cooking the curry.If at any time the onions or tomato spice mixture begins to stick to the bottom of the pan or looks like it’s about to burn, either lower the heat or add 1 tablespoon of oil or ghee. Do not add water. This is meant to be a rich curry.

• 6 large beef short ribs, bone in with excess fat trimmed off
• 1/4 cup grapeseed or canola oil (60 ml)
• 2 tablespoons ghee (30 ml)
• 1 large onion, very finely chopped (approximately 1 cup)
• 1 heaping tbsp. finely chopped garlic (5 ml)
• 1 cup ground fresh tomatoes (250 ml)
• 1/2 cup red wine (250 ml)
• 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock with the fat skimmed off (1 litre)
• 1 tablespoon cumin seeds (15 ml)
• 1 whole piece cinnamon bark (approximately 3-inches long)
• ½ heaping tsp. ground fenugreek seeds (2 ml)
• 1 heaping tbsp. cumin powder (15 ml)
• 1/2 teaspoon turmeric (2 ml)
• 1/2 teaspoon ground red cayenne pepper (2 ml)
• 1 heaping tbsp. Mexican chilli powder (2 ml)

In a large, heavy saucepan with fitted lid, melt the ghee on medium to high heat. Add the cooking oil and the cumin seeds. Let the seeds sizzle for 30 seconds and add the cinnamon bark and onions. Sauté until the onions are medium brown in colour. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until garlic is golden brown and onions are a darker brown. The darker you sauté the onions without letting them burn, the richer the onion flavour will be in this dish.
Temporarily lower the heat and add the tomatoes and all of the remaining spices. Once you stir the powdered spices in the tomatoes, increase the heat back to medium. Stir regularly and continue cooking the spices until the oil/ghee separates from the tomatoes. This will take about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the stock and red wine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until the oil/ghee separates from the stock and rises to the top, stirring occasionally.
Add the short ribs and stir well. Bring back to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer the short ribs until the meat completely separates from the bone. This will take approximately 4 hours and you will need to stir occasionally.
This recipe is for 30 medium size popsicles, with five per person.”
Marinated Lamb Popsicles with Fenugreek Cream Curry Recipe
• 4 lbs French cut racks of lamb, in chops
• 1/4 cup white wine
• 3/4 cup grainy yellow mustard
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 tsp black pepper
Combine the popsicles with all the ingredients for the marinade in a large bowl. Cover and set aside in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.
Cream curry:
4 cups whipping cream
• 1 Tbs salt
• 1 tsp paprika
• 1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
• 1 tablespoon dried green fenugreek leaves (known as “kasuri methi”)
• 60 ml or 1/4 cup lemon juice
• 60 ml or 1/4 cup canola oil
• 3 tablespoons packed finely chopped garlic
• 1 tsp turmeric
In a large bowl, mix the whipping cream, salt, paprika, cayenne, fenugreek flakes and lemon juice. In a medium size pot, saute the garlic in canola oil on medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the garlic is golden. Stir in the turmeric, and cook for 1 minute. Add the cream mixture, stir and heat on low to medium heat for about five minutes, or until it is gently boiling.
Finish Lamb Popsicles:
Preheat a stove-top cast iron grill or an outside barbeque to high heat. Each side of the popsicles should be grilled for two to three minutes. You can either pour the cream curry over the grilled popsicles or use the cream curry as a dipping curry for the popsicles


4 portions of halibut
salt, pepper & pepper flakes to taste

Coconut Curry Sauce:

1/4 cup of canola oil
20 curry leaves
3 tbsp chopped garlic
1 cup pureed onion
1 lb tomatoes, finely chopped
1 tbsp each of ground cumin and coriander
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
6 whole cloves
3 cups of water
1 cup coconut milk, stirred

Sautee curry leaves, garlic, and onion in the oil for about 10 minutes until lightly browned. Add tomatoes, cumin, coriander, salt, cayenne and cloves. Continue cooking for 8 minutes until the water from the tomatoes has evaporated and the oil glistens on top. Add water and coconut milk, Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Strain and portion the liquid to 4 heated serving bowls.

Season fish with pepper flakes, salt and pepper and pan fry in olive oil and butter until cooked. Place on the serving bowls with the curry sauce, spoon a little bit of the sauce on top and garnish with cilantro leaves. The cookbook suggests serving with Muscat Ottonel.


7 ounces green onions (about 8 stalks)
1 cup plain yogurt, stirred
1 tablespoon Mexican chili powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
21/2 teaspoons salt
1 eggplant, skin on, in 1-inch cubes
2 cups chopped tomatoes (2 large)
1/2 cup canola oil

Wash the green onions. Chop the white parts in rounds ¼-inch long. Remove and discard the hollow green parts. Chop the remaining solid green parts in rounds ¾-inch long. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine yogurt, chili powder, turmeric, cayenne and salt. Add the eggplant, tomatoes and onions and stir well to make sure the vegetables are well covered in the curry mixture.
In a shallow, heavy pan, heat oil on medium-high for 45 seconds. Pour the curry into the pan and stir well. Sauté for about three minutes, reduce the heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer for another 10 minutes, stirring once halfway through the cooking. Turn off the heat and stir once more. Remove the lid if you are not going to serve the curry immediately, or the eggplant will become too mushy.
To serve, ladle the curry into six bowls or plates. If serving with another curry, serve this one in a bowl, so that it doesn’t “run” on the plate. Serves 6.
1/2 cup canola oil
25 to 30 fresh curry leaves
1 tbsp black mustard seeds
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onions
1 tbsp + 1 tsp chopped garlic
2 cups chopped tomatoes (2 large)
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 12 ounce can coconut milk, stirred
1 lb eggplant, cubed
1 lb cauliflower, cut into small florets
3/4 lb red, green or yellow bell peppers, cubed
3/4 cup cilantro, chopped
In a large pot, heat oil on medium heat. Keeping your head at a distance from the pot, add the curry leaves and mustard seeds and allow them to sizzle for about one minute or until a few seeds pop.
Immediately add onions and saute until golden brown, about 8 minutes
Add tomatoes and remaining spices and saute for 8 minutes or until oil glistens on top.
Stir in coconut milk an d bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low. Add eggplant. Cover and simmer to five minutes. Add cauliflower and bell peppers, cover and simmer for another five minutes. Stir in cilantro
Serve over basmati rice.
1 kilogram lamb, cut into pieces
½ kilogram plain yogurt
2 teaspoons of salt (or to taste)
2 medium onions, ground in a food processor
2 bulbs garlic, peeled and ground
4 tablespoons oil
1 bay leaf
6 cloves
8 peppercorns
2 black cardamoms
4 medium onions, chopped
1 tablespoon grated coconut, soaked and ground
1 tablespoon poppy seeds, soaked and ground
6 tablespoons milk

Wash the meat and squeeze out all the water. Add the yogurt, salt, ground onions, garlic and mix thoroughly.
Heat oil on medium in a heavy-bottomed pot. When slightly smoking, add the bay leaf, cloves, peppercorns and cardamoms.
Add the chopped onions and fry until golden brown. When the onions are nicely brown, add the meat/yogurt mixture and keep stirring. Bring the heat to medium, cover the pot with a lid and let it simmer for 20 to 25 minutes.
Cook until the lamb is almost tender. Add the coconut, poppy seeds and milk and bring to boil. Cook till the gravy thickens. If you like fruity flavours, you can add dried apricots or raisins as a little garnish. Serves 4 to 6.

May Two-Four

24 May

Oh Canada. How badly you behave on Victoria Day. The frigid overnight camping(!), the four-wheeling, the mud-bogging, the hooligan bon fires — it boggles our wee WASPy sensibilities.

Make no mistake, we love the May Two-Four — and our Canadian ale — but our favourite celebration includes being lakeside in Windermere, B.C. with croquet, cocktails, and courtesy (not in that order).

Although the spring holiday weather is almost always chilly in these parts, the long weekend wouldn’t be complete without this optimistic heritage cocktail.

1 can frozen pink lemonade
1 can-ful of water
1 can-ful of gin
4 ice cubes
1 bottle beer, cold

Place lemonade, water, gin and ice cubes in blender. Blend until ice is crushed. Pour into four medium glasses and top with beer.
The desired go-with for Skip and Go Naked. These babies make perfect broiled toast points.

Recipe: Bonnie Stern
Bonnie says this spread can be used for an appetizer or a filling for cold or grilled sandwiches.
1 lb (500 g) old Cheddar (or a mixture of cheese), grated
4 oz (125 g) cream cheese
1 tbsp (15 mL) grainy mustard or Dijon
1 clove garlic, minced, optional
1 tbsp (15 mL) Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp (5 mL) Tabasco or favourite hot sauce (or to taste)
¾ cup (175mL) favourite beer
pinch smoked paprika

Combine cheese, cream cheese, mustard, garlic, Worcestershire and Tabasco in a food processor until smooth.
Add beer until spread is the consistency you like. Season to taste with salt and pepper only if necessary. Dust with smoked paprika. Makes about 2 cups.

Ho Lee Chow

18 May

Our love of PF Chang’s China Bistro is not exactly the height of sophistication, we know. But certain dishes enjoyed on holiday leave lasting memories.

Recently, our happy group delighted in chicken lettuce wraps and dynamite shrimp, followed by coconut curry vegetables with crispy silken tofu and peanuts in a coconut curry sauce, shrimp with candied walnuts tossed in a creamy sauce (which we fear is mayo-based) and honeydew melon balls.

We’d returned from southern California for one day before a craving struck. And that craving was for orange peel chicken. The menu describes it as tossed with chili peppers and fresh orange peel for a spicy, citrus combination. We tried this recipe, and it is bang on.

Top Secret Restaurant Recipes Volume Two

1 T oil
2 T minced or sliced garlic
4 green onions, sliced
1 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar (we’ve been using brown)
2 T chili garlic/Rooster sauce
1 T soy sauce
juice of half an orange
1/2 cup oil
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1/2 cup cornstarch

peel from 1/4 orange, julienned into 1/8 in. strips

Prepare sauce by heating 1 T of oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Saute garlic and green onions. Add tomato sauce and water quickly before the garlic burns. Add sugar, chili sauce, orange juice and soy sauce and bring to a boil. Simmer 5-6 minutes or until sauce thickens, then turn off the heat.
Prepare the chicken by heating 1/2 cup oil in a wok over medium heat. Slice chicken breast into bite size pieces. Coat each piece with cornstarch. Arrange chicken on a plate until all chicken is coated. When oil in the wok is hot, add half the chicken to the oil and cook for a couple of minutes or until brown on one side, then flip. When chicken is golden brown, remove the pieces to a rack to drain. Repeat with remaining chicken. When all chicken is cooked rinse the oil out of the wok with water and place it back on the stove to heat up.
(Note: I used a frying pan and only two tablespoons of oil to nicely brown and crisp the chicken chunks. Then I added the orange peel, followed by a few ladlefulls of sauce, which boiled furiously and was left clinging to the chicken.)
When wok is hot again add orange peel and chicken. Heat for 20-30 seconds, stirring gently. Add sauce to the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Stir to coat. Cook until the sauce thickens then serve with rice on the side.

Note: Martin Yan’s version calls for 1/3 cup fresh orange juice, 2 tbsp rice wine or sherry, 1 tbsp hoisin, 2 tsp sugar, and 1 tsp chili garlic sauce


8 dried Shiitake mushrooms
2 teaspoons cooking sherry
2 teaspoons water
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped into bite size pieces or ground chicken
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon fresh minced ginger
2 cloves minced garlic
2 chopped green onions
8 oz can bamboo shoots, chopped up
8 oz can water chestnuts, chopped
2 small dried chilies (optional)
1 package of Chinese cellophane rice noodles, cooked according to instructions on the package
Iceberg lettuce leaves

Lettuce Wrap Sauce:
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon cooking sherry
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Pour enough boiling water over dried mushrooms to cover. Let soak for 30 minutes, then drain. After the mushrooms have soaked, remove any woody stems and chop up the mushrooms.
While waitng for the mushrooms to finish soaking, combine all of the ingredients for the sauce.
In a separate bowl, mix together the sherry, water, soy sauce, cornstarch, salt, pepper, and chicken. Stir together until chicken is well coated.
Heat large skillet over medium high heat. Add 3 tablespoons of oil. After the oil gets hots, add the chicken mixture. Fry quickly for about 3 minutes, or til chicken is no longer pink. Stir constantly to prevent burning. Remove chicken.
To the same skillet, add 2 more tablespoons of oil. Add the fresh ginger, garlic, green onions, and optional chilies, if desired. Fry quickly for 45-60 seconds, or til garlic is a golden color. Do not overcook garlic, or it will taste bitter. Add the dried mushrooms, bamboo shoots and water chestnuts. Fry quickly for about 2 minutes.
Return chicken to the skillet. Add the sauce ingredients to the same skillet. Cook until the sauce thickens.
Break the cooked cellophane noodles into small pieces. Spread the noodles onto the bottom of a platter. Pour the chicken mixture on top of the noodles. Spoon into lettuce leafs. Roll up chicken lettuce wraps and secure with toothpicks. See if this doesn’t taste just like the PF Chang lettuce wrap recipe to you.


For the Tofu
2 tablespoons sesame oil
12 ounces package extra firm water-packed tofu (although menu describes crispy fried silken tofu)
1 small onion, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 small red bell pepper, cubed
1 cup halved mushrooms
4 ounces (3 cups) cauliflower or broccoli florets
1 cup thinly sliced carrots or whole sugar snap peas

Coconut-Curry Sauce:
1/2 cup canned coconut milk
2 Tbl. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. curry powder
1 – 2 Tbl. packed brown sugar
2 tsp. unseasoned rice vinegar or cider vinegar
1/2 cup peanuts

2 Tbl. canola oil for stir-frying

2 tsp. cornstarch dissolved in 1 1/2 Tbl. cold water mixed together in small bowl.

Drain the tofu, cube and fry in 1 tablespoon oil until brown. Set aside.
Separately blanch the broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and sugar snap peas until tender-crisp in plain boiling water. Drain and flush with cold water to stop the cooking. Drain again.
Combine the coconut-curry sauce ingredients. Taste and adjust the sugar to your liking.
Heat a wok or wide skillet over high heat until hot. Add the canola oil, swirl to glaze the pan, then add the onions and bell pepper. Stir-fry until tender-crisp, 3-4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and stir until hot, a few minutes more. Add the blanched vegetables and toss to mix.
Stir the sauce and add it to the pan. Bring to a simmer, tossing to combine.
Stir the cornstarch mixture to recombine and add it to the pan. Stir until the sauce turns glossy, about 10 seconds (a bit longer if you`re doubling the sauce).
Add the peanuts.
Serve with rice, noodles, or a warm loaf of bread.
Use a milder or hotter curry powder to vary the spice.
For a really saucy dish to serve over rice or noodles, double the sauce ingredients and the cornstarch mixture.
We’re not big on battered anything, so we’ll try this with a dusting on cornstarch or flour.

1 lb shrimp, butterflied
Vegetable oil for frying

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 egg
3/4 cup ice water or soda water
1/8 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. baking soda

Shrimp marinade:
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tbsp cornstarch


1/2 cup sake or rice wine (mirin)
1/ 3 cup honey
1/3 cup rice vinegar
3 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp minced garlic

Cornstarch slurry–1/4 cup corn starch mixed with 1/4 cup water

To make batter: mix ingredients till just combined. Let rest in refrigerator for a couple of hours. Coat shrimp with seasonings and marinate in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.

Pour vegetable oil into fryer or heavy bottomed sauce pot. Heat slowly to 340-350 degrees. Batter shrimp a little at a time. Shake off excess batter. Carefully place shrimp into the hot oil. Shrimp is done when golden to light brown and crisp. Remove to platter with paper towels to drain. Repeat for all the shrimp. Remember to check the oil temperature, it must remain hot.

Mix sauce ingredients in small sauce pan, bring to a boil. Add cornstarch slurry, a little at a time (you will not need all of it). The sauce will thicken, let it come to a thickness of “loose honey.” Let cook for a minute or two.

Serve sauce on side for dipping or drizzle over top.

Lazing on the lanai

10 May

Truly this is the last of the Lilly-obsessed inspired posts.
We can’t stop longing for loungetime on the lanai with these fresh-tasting, yummy bites.

Recipe from “Essentially Lilly: A Guide to Colorful Holidays,” by Lilly Pulitzer and Jay Mulvaney.
Use mango in place of the pineapple, if you like.

20 12-inch soaked bamboo skewers
1 cup (loosely packed) fresh basil leaves
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh ginger
60 large shrimp, deveined, tails left intact
1 fresh pineapple, peeled, cored, cut into 60 chunks
Soak bamboo skewers in pan of water until ready to use.

Finely chop basil; set aside half of basil to sprinkle over skewers after grilling. Place remaining half of basil in large bowl. Add orange juice, oil and ginger; whisk well. Add shrimp to marinade and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 and up to 4 hours.

Remove shrimp from marinade and thread onto skewers, alternating with pineapple chunks, for a total of 3 shrimp and 3 pineapple chunks on each skewer.

Prepare grill (medium high heat). Grill skewers until shrimp are opaque and brown in spots, turning once, about 3 minutes per side. Sprinkle with reserved basil and serve. Makes 10 servings.

Skirt steak would also work well with this marinade.

2 cups light Mexican beer (such as Corona)
2 cups (loosely packed) fresh cilantro leaves
1 cup fresh lime juice
1 cup vegetable oil
6 cloves garlic
4 pounds flank steaks
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Process beer, cilantro, lime juice, oil and garlic in food processor until ingredients are finely chopped. Place steaks in large resealable plastic bags. Divide marinade between bags. Seal and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 8 hours.

Prepare grill (medium high heat). Remove steaks from marinade and place on grill; sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Grill to desired doneness, turning once, about 6 minutes per side. Transfer to cutting board. Slice steak diagonally across the grain and serve. Serves 10.

Pink and green — everything’s Lilly

7 May

We’ve already droned on about our favorite preppy fruit salad here, but that won’t stop our Lilly Pulitzer-esque obsesssions to make even our food pink and green.

Although Lilly has some lovely party books that we’ve missed out on, we were lucky enough to snag a silk re-issue of a pink and orange shift. We can’t wait to slip it on, mix something cool and nibble one of these salads with friends.

Recipe from “EsSentially Lilly: A Guide to Colorful Holidays,” by Lilly Pulitzer and Jay Mulvaney.
Substitute or add mussels, grilled diced swordfish or cooked calamari to the salad. The acids in the lime vinaigrette will help keep the avocados from turning brown, so you can make the salad a few hours ahead.

1 cup dry white wine
1 small onion, sliced
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 1/2 pounds bay scallops
1 pound large (21 to 25 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined.
1 pound lobster or crabmeat
2 ripe Florida (or 3 Haas) avocados, pitted, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch cubes
1 pint grape tomatoes, cut lengthwise into halves
2 scallions, white and green parts, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 large head green leaf lettuce, separated into individual leaves, washed and dried

Boil 2 quarts of water with first five ingredients, then add scallops and shrimp, cooking 3 minutes. Remove to bowl, cover and refrigerate two hours. Combine lobster or crabmeat and remaining ingredients in large bowl. Drizzle with 1/3 cup lime vinaigrette and toss gently. Serve over lettuce leaves, with remaining lime vinaigrette.


Grated zest of 2 limes
6 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 garlic glove, crushed and peeled
1 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced shallot
In medium bowl, whisk together lime zest, juice and garlic. Gradually whisk in olive oil and shallot. Season with salt and pepper.

1 pound large cooked shrimp
1 avocado, in large dice
1 cup fresh corn
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped red onion
½ cup fresh lime juice
¼ cup honey
1 garlic clove, pressed or chopped
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup olive oil

Combine the shrimp, avocado, corn, cilantro and onion in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, honey, garlic clove, salt, pepper and olive oil and whisk until well combined.

Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and gently toss to combine. Cover and chill for at least an hour before serving.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, cook 1 1/2 cups pomegranate juice for 10 minutes or until reduced by one-third.
Remove from heat and let cool completely.
Pour cooled juice into a medium non-reactive bowl. Whisk in 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 3 tbsp sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 tsp fresh lemon juice, 1/4 tsp pepper. Stream in 1/4 cup olive oil and whisk until incorporated.
Toss into salad of baby spinach, cubed avocado, supremed pink grapefruit.

1/4 cup ruby red grapefruit juice
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
8-10 rosemary sprigs with straight stems
1 pound (26-30 per pound) shrimp

In a bowl, combine grapefruit juice, orange juice, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice.
Pull most of the leaves from each rosemary stem, leaving about 2 inches at the top of the sprig (look like mini Lilly palm trees, lol). Mince enough rosemary leaves to make 1 teaspoon and add to bowl. Save extra leaves for other uses.
Add shrimp to bowl and mix. Let stand at least 15 minutes, or cover and refrigerate up to 2 hours.
While waiting for shrimp to marinate, put rosemary stems in a bowl and cover with water.
Drain shrimp, discard marinade. Form 1 shrimp into a C shape and push thick end of Rosemary sprig through fat section, then through tail end of the shrimp. Continue skewering shrimp with remaining rosemary, distributing shrimp equally among the sprigs.
Lay skewered shrimp on a BBQ grill over very hot coals or very high heat on a gas grill (you can hold your hand at grill level only 1 or 2 seconds), close lid on gas grill. Turn shrimp as needed to cook evenly until they are opaque but still moist looking in center of thickest part (cut to test), about 4 minutes.


2 cups diced avocado
lemon juice
1 cup chopped celery
24 boiled, cleaned shrimp
1 T green onions
1 cup chili sauce/mayonnaise/sour cream Shrimp Louis-style homemade dressing
6 slices crumbled bacon

Sprinkle avocado w/lemon juice. Add remaining ingredients except bacon, and mix. Chill. Serve on lettuce and garnish w/bacon.

Turkey talk

6 May

Oh, Internets. You know how obsessive we are when it comes to pairing food with dreamy destinations. If we can’t afford to jet away to some exotic locale right this minute, surely we can transport ourselves to a happy place with a little bit of delish. Can we help it if the sight of honeydew melon balls paired with pink grapefruit, freshly torn mint, honey and lime makes us think of Lilly Pulitzer sundresses and Palm Beach?

We’d like to pair that preppy fruit salad with this luscious turkey burger:

Oprah found a new favorite food when she tried this turkey burger at Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump’s private club in Palm Beach. “I believe [it] may be the best turkey burger in the entire world,” she says. The Mar-a-Lago Turkey Burger will be permanently available at the Trump Bar and Grille in Trump Tower in New York City, open to the public for lunch and dinner. It will also be served during lunch in Chicago at Sixteen, the Trump International Hotel restaurant.

1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
1/8 cup canola oil
4 pounds ground turkey breast
2 Tbsp. salt (this seems excessive, so we used less than half this amount. They were fine.)
1 Tbsp. black pepper
2 tsp. Tabasco® chipotle pepper sauce
1 lemon , juiced and grated zest
1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup Major Grey’s Chutney, pureed

Sauté the scallions, celery and apples in the canola oil until tender. Let cool.

Place the ground turkey in a large mixing bowl. Add sautéed items and the remaining ingredients. Shape into eight 8-ounce burgers. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

Season the turkey burgers with salt and pepper. Place on a preheated, lightly oiled grill. Grill each side for 7 minutes until meat is thoroughly cooked. Let sit for 5 minutes.
Serve with a side of Mar-a-Lago Pear Chutney (see below) and your favorite toasted bread, pita or hamburger roll.

Mar-A-Lago Pear Chutney

1 Anjour pear , peeled and diced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups Major Grey’s Chutney
1/4 cup dried currants or raisins

Preheat oven to 350°. Toss the diced pears with the cinnamon and salt. Bake on a parchment-lined cookie sheet for 10 minutes. Cool and mix with the chutney and currants or raisins.

Cinco de Mayo

5 May

Here’s our Mexican-inspired party fare. The pork turned out amazing!

We have an array of organic corn and flour tortillas, crisp radishes, cheese, salsas, chipotle lime crema, and guacamole, accompanied by a sunny salad of orange supremes, red onion, and lettuces in a cumin-scented roasted garlic and parmesan dressing.

To further the Mexicans conquering the French theme, we are treating our guests to chocolate mousse spiked with cinnamon and cayenne, topped with fruit salsa: kiwi, mango and strawberry.

To begin, we have cassava chips and some corn tortillas chips in the colours of the Mexican flag. For dipping: guac, salsa verde, picante sauce, refried bean dip. And of course, darling two-bite epanadaditas with chicken/achiote/raisin/olive filling.

Now, where’s that margarita?

PLAYLIST: Tequila-The Champs… Tijuana Taxi-Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass…La Bamba-Ritchie Valens…South of the Border-Frank Sinatra… Low Rider-War…Spanish Flea-HA&TB…Conquest-White Stripes… El Paso-Marty Robbins…

From America’s Test Kitchen: “Why this recipe works: Traditional carnitas, Mexico’s version of pulled pork, is fried in gallons of lard or oil. The results are tasty, but who wants to deal with all that hot fat? We wanted to create restaurant-style carnitas—tender chunks of lightly crisped, caramelized pork, subtly accented with oregano and citrus—without the hassle of frying.
Our initial recipe for carnitas started by simmering the meat (taste tests proved boneless pork butt had the best flavor) in a seasoned broth in the oven and then sautéing it in some of the rendered fat. The flavor was OK, but too much of the pork flavor went down the drain when we discarded the cooking liquid. So we kept the liquid and reduced it on the stovetop (after the meat had been removed) until it developed the consistency of a thick, syrupy glaze that was perfect for coating the meat. Broiled on a rack set over a baking sheet, the glazed meat developed a wonderfully rich flavor and the rack allowed the excess fat to drip off. We emulated the flavor of the Mexican sour oranges used in authentic carnitas with a mixture of fresh lime and orange juices. Bay leaves and oregano provided aromatic notes, and cumin brought an earthy dimension that complemented the other flavors.
We like serving carnitas spooned into tacos, but you can also use it as a filling for tamales, enchiladas, and burritos.
Don’t Cut the Fat. Leaving a 1/8-inch layer of fat on the pork is critical to imparting the best flavor and texture to the final dish. Overtrimming the meat will lead to dry, bland carnitas.”

America’s Test Kitchen: Supper From South of the Border
1 (3 1/2-to 4-pound) boneless pork butt , fat cap trimmed to 1/8 inch thick, cut into 2-inch chunks
1 teaspoon ground cumin 1 small onion, peeled and halved
2 bay leaves 1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons juice from 1 lime
2 cups water 1 medium orange , halved

Tortillas and Garnishes
18 (6-inch) corn tortillas , warmed
Lime wedges
Minced white or red onion
Fresh cilantro leaves
Thinly sliced radishes
Sour cream

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Combine pork, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, cumin, onion, bay leaves, oregano, lime juice, and water in large Dutch oven (liquid should just barely cover meat). Juice orange into medium bowl and remove any seeds (you should have about 1/3 cup juice). Add juice and spent orange halves to pot. Bring mixture to simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Cover pot and transfer to oven; cook until meat is soft and falls apart when prodded with fork, about 2 hours, flipping pieces of meat once during cooking.
Remove pot from oven and turn oven to broil. Using slotted spoon, transfer pork to bowl; remove orange halves, onion, and bay leaves from cooking liquid and discard (do not skim fat from liquid). Place pot over high heat (use caution, as handles will be very hot) and simmer liquid, stirring frequently, until thick and syrupy (heatsafe spatula should leave wide trail when dragged through glaze), 8 to 12 minutes. You should have about 1 cup reduced liquid.
Using 2 forks, pull each piece of pork in half. Fold in reduced liquid; season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread pork in even layer on wire rack set inside rimmed baking sheet or on broiler pan (meat should cover almost entire surface of rack or broiler pan). Place baking sheet on lower-middle rack and broil until top of meat is well browned (but not charred) and edges are slightly crisp, 5 to 8 minutes. Using wide metal spatula, flip pieces of meat and continue to broil until top is well browned and edges are slightly crisp, 5 to 8 minutes longer. Serve immediately with warm tortillas and garnishes.

Bacon slinky

4 May

We were recently treated to a fantastic night out and have a huge food debt to repay. After stuffing ourselves silly at a Brazilian rodizio, we got the idea to whip up a dinner of bacon-wrapped stuffed chicken to show appreciation for our hosts.
After assembling these little bacon slinky logs, chilling them helps keep the filling together for barbecuing.
Once the logs have cooled, they look lovely sliced into rounds. Perfect finger food for summer patio cocktail parties, tasty comfort in the winter months.
The filling itself is open to all sorts of tweaks. Roasted vegetables, chopped nuts, herbs — all are good here.
An ’80s trifecta of pesto/sun-dried tomatoes/feta or lemon zest would be a dreamy filling.
As would a Greek spinoff of feta, oregano, lemon, chopped spinach and green onion.

Recipe: Julie Zwillich, Summer’s Best

8 large boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
8 ounces cream cheese or goat cheese softened (250 grams)
1 bunch green onions, chopped
24 slices bacon

Combine cream cheese and onion.
Butterfly chicken breasts from the thinnest edge towards the thickest (thick edge will be the middle when it is opened). Working one piece at a time, open breast on a piece of plastic wrap. Cover with a second piece of plastic wrap and pound to 1/4″ (6 millimetres) thickness with a mallet or rolling pin.
Spread an equal amount of cream cheese mixture evenly over the 8 breasts. Roll up the chicken enclosing the cheese completely. Wrap 1 strip of bacon, end to end around chicken, stretching it slightly. Add a second piece of bacon, wrapped to cover any exposed chicken. If necessary, continue wrapping with bacon until most of the chicken is covered. Secure with toothpicks. Chill several hours or overnight.
Cover grill with sheet of aluminum foil to help prevent flare-ups. Preheat to high. Place chicken on the foil. Reduce heat to medium and close lid. Turn chicken every 5 minutes until golden brown and cooked through, about 30 minutes.