Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Rustic Tagliatelle

Every since my trip to Italy, I have really appreciated fresh, homemade pasta.  It obviously takes a bit more time, but if you do have a few extra minutes to prepare your meal, it is so worth it.  No matter how 'gourmet' it may be, I've never had a dried pasta that can match the flavor of homemade.  There's actually something a bit therapeutic about the process as well, the repetitive kneading and rolling as the dough becomes elastic and silky.  I actually had to pump up the AC for a bit - is that pathetic?

I just bought a new pasta machine but a few days before, I was being very impatient and insisted on fresh pasta.  It would be the perfect complement to my last picking of summer tomatoes.  I wanted a rich pasta so I added a couple of extra yolks.  Since I didnt have a machine, I chose to make tagliatelle as it is a wider noodle.  In hindsight, I would have rolled the dough a bit thinner, but my arms were getting tired...  In a light and rustic sauce, complemented by a freshly baked parmesan crisp, it was the perfect meal to show off all of these simple and fresh ingredients. 

When making fresh pasta, the ingredients that you choose are very important.  '00' flour is a soft, fine-grain, Italian wheat flour that will give the pasta that silky and elastic texture.  While not as important as the flour that you use, organic eggs give it that beautiful yellow color.  If your recipe includes olive oil, make sure to use plain, not extra virgin as that will be too strong.  Check out a my step-by-step tutorial on how to make your own pasta with minimal tools required!

Fresh Tagliatelle


1 2/3 cups 00 flour
2 large organic eggs plus 3 egg yolks
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp fine salt
semolina, for dusting


1. Sift flour with salt into a mound on your clean working surface.  Make a well in the middle ensure that the walls are high enough to contain your egg mixture.  Keep a small mound of flour to the side if any extra is needed.

2. Mix eggs, yolks, and oil and pour into well.

3. Using fingertips or a fork, gradually draw flour into egg mixture in a circular motion.  When mixture is starting to come together, use both hands to form in a ball and knead for 5 minutes until elastic and silky.  If dough is too sticky, add a bit of flour a couple tablespoons at a time. 

4. Form into ball and gently wrap in plastic wrap.  Chill for at least 30 minutes.

5. Divide dough into 4 pieces.  Dust workspace with semolina and cover remaining dough with a tea towel to prevent it from drying out.  Dust rolling pin with flour then roll dough out into a large rectangle at desired thickness.  Flip dough often and dust with semolina to prevent sticking.  Repeat with remaining 3 pieces.  Keep pasta covered with a tea towel while you are working. 

6. For tagliatelle, roll the dough and cut at 1 cm intervals with a sharp knife. 

To cook, add to salted boiling water for about 3 minutes or until al dente.  While still hot, toss with oil, butter, or pasta sauce.  To make my light and rustic sauce, sautee sliced onion, garlic, and chili flakes for a few minutes, add white wine, reduce by half, add tomatoes 1 minute, remove from heat and stir through arugula.  Season and add a splash of fresh lemon juice.  Top with a parmesan crisp or shaved parmesan.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Melbourne Food and Wine Festival Review : 3rd Edition

After a disappointing morning at the Prahran Market Flavour Fiesta, we headed over to Southgate Promenade for the annual Cellar Door at Southgate.  There was pretty much no way this event was going to the disappoint.  It was a beautiful day and most importantly, we were going on a wine tour of Victoria all within the confines of the city. 

I was pleased to see representation from all of the major wine regions across Victoria.  It was a great opportunity to taste new releases from undiscovered boutique wineries, grab a few sips of your favorites, and try some new varietals you might normally ignore. 

We were not disappointed with our familiar favorites, but I was delighted to discover a couple of new gems to add to my list:

Berrys Bridge Victoria Pyrenees Shiraz 2005 - I love that their single vineyard wines are estate grown and produced.  This intense shiraz is packed with the flavors of dark fruits, hints of spice so characteristic of Australian shiraz, and has a long earthy finish.

Downing Estate Shiraz 2005 - Another earthy and rich shiraz, it is surprisingly smooth.  Plummy with hints of chocolate to be noted.  I would assume this wine would continue to develop over the next decade.

Nearing the end of our day, we picked up a plate of local artisan cheese and nibbles at the adjoining Providores’ Market.  Enjoying superb local cheese and wine with a backdrop of the iconic Melbourne city skyline, perfection.

If you were in need of something a bit more substantial after a couple hours of tasting, Southgate restaurants were offering tasting plates for an additional charge.

On a humorous note, I was certainly drawn over to this winery for a taste... happy drinking.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms

Zucchini blossoms are the bright yellow/orange flowers on the end of baby zucchini (also the blossoms on the stalks of males plants).  I wouldn't say they are your typical menu item, but if you've never enjoyed these delicate flowers, you are missing out!

Before I actually ventured to try zucchini blossoms, I must admit that I wrote them off as one of those 'cool ingredients' that are more attractive and exotic than they are appetizing.  While I do enjoy experimenting with new ingredients and combinations, I am of the opinion that not everything edible is meant for consumption and not all ingredients pair well.  I am sure my fiance will enjoy this... I WAS WRONG!  Yes, zucchini blossoms are attractive but they are also delicious. 

Since losing my zucchini blossom virginity, I've ordered them prepared in a variety of ways, but I definitely prefer them fried.  For a reason unbeknownst to myself, I was very intimated to have a go at these in my own kitchen.  They were staring me down at the market the other day and I knew I had to conquer my fear. 

As the blossoms themselves are very delicate, I wanted to keep the dish light.  I decided to go with a light and fluffy ricotta stuffing and used a batter of soda water and flour to give them an almost tempura-like crunch. 

I toyed with the idea of throwing some finely chopped sundried tomatoes into the stuffing but decided that I wanted to keep it very light and fresh.  They came out just as I had wanted, but I certainly could have added the sundried tomatoes if I were looking for a bit more depth of flavor. 

It was a beautiful dish, the creamy and fresh herbed ricotta stuffing was the perfect complement to the sweet flower and light, golden crisp
Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms

12 zucchini blossoms
1 cup ricotta
1 egg
1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano
3 tablespoons herbs, finely chopped (whatever you prefe, I used basil, parsley, and thyme)
1 1/2 tsp salt, divided
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sparkling water
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
oil, for frying (I used canola)


1. If you have any female flowers with the baby zucchini attached, slice the zucchinis into strips ensuring almost up to the flower so that the remain attached.  For all flowers, very gently open the petals and clip and discard the pistil.
2. For the filling, combine the cheeses, egg, herbs, and 3/4 tsp salt.  Spoon 1-2 tsp into each flower depending on size, but do not overfill.  Close the blossoms over the mixture and twist petals to seal.
3. For the batter, whisk together the flour, water and salt and pepper until smooth.
4. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat until you have reached 350 degrees F.  If you sprinkle a little flour in the oil and it sizzles, it's ready.
5. Dip the blossoms in the batter and all excess to drip off.  Fry for about 2 minutes, turning occasionally until they are golden brown.  Drain on paper towels.  Add more salt if desired.

I whipped up a quick pesto using my mortar and pestle.  I bashed together some chopped basil leaves, toasted pine nuts, paremesan cheese, salt, and EVOO - your pretty typical recipe.  You can serve with marinara, vinaigrette, whatever you prefer!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Rocket and Butternut Squash Salad

Butternut squash, known in Australia as butternut pumpkin, is just coming into season here as it is early fall.  I couldn't be happier.  During the fall and winter season, I usually have one on hand at all times as they can be stored in a cool, dry place for months.  They are great for roasting and using in risottos, soups, salads, pies, casseroles, stews, I could go on and on. 

If it hasn't become apparent already, I eat a lot of salads, probably at least one at some point every day.  Even the simplest salad can be a treat when you add a hit of sweet, nutty, butternut squash. 

Rocket and Butternut Squash Salad


1/2 butternut squash (lengthwise)
3 handfuls of arugula (rocket)
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Scrape the seeds and pulp from the center of the squash and discard.
2. Line a baking tray with foil and spray with olive oil spray.  You may also peel, cube and toss the squash ith olive oil before roasting to get that 'roasty' flavor throughout.
3. Cook for about 40 minutes depending on size, or until tender.  Let cool and cube.
4. For dressing, whisk together lemon juice, honey, and salt.  Gradually add olive oil while whisking.
5. Toss together rocket, onion, and dressing.  Gently toss in squash, Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts and serve.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Thai-style Whole Snapper

Cooking a fish whole is probably the best way to get all of the flavor that you can out of the fish.  As with most meats, cooking the flesh on the bone makes it very juicy and flavorful.  It also makes for a very dramatic presentation as long as your guests are comfortable seeing the whole fish, head and all.  Make sure your fishmonger has scaled and cleaned the fish as this is a task I doubt you have much interest in.

Tell me this little guy isn't just aching to get doused in a spicy marinade, thrown on a sizzling grill, and devoured by 2 hungry mouths love that love a bit of spice.  I hope he likes chili...

Using some pretty typical ingredients in Asian cooking, I made a fresh, yet quite spicy marinade to give our tasty friend a little kick.  You can really use whatever you like - add different herbs, less chili, MORE chili, skip the coconut, add more lime if you want it zingier.  Whatever goes!  A lesson learned on my part... next time I need to more heavily oil the grill, or better yet, use a fish basket.  I had some issues with the skin sticking to grill.  Despite looking a little rough, it was absolutely delicious.  I served the fish with plain steamed rice to balance the spiciness.

Thai-style Grilled Snapper


1 whole snapper (mine was just over 1 lb)
olive oil
1 tbsp cilantro (coriander) leaves, to garnish
1 lime, cut into rounds, to garnish

1 cup cilantro (coriander) leaves
1/2 cup thai basil leaves
6 garlic cloves
3 shallots
3 chilis
2 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp white pepper
 2 tbsp lime juice
1/4 cup coconut cream
2 tbsp fish sauce

1. Cut incisions diagonally along both sides of fish using sharp knife.  Incisions should be about 1/2 inch apart.

2. For marinade, blend all ingredients in food processor and pour over fish.  Reserve about 1/4 of the marinade for brushing over the fish once it has been grilled.

3. Thoroughly oil grill by soaking a paper towel in oil and using tongs to rub oiled town onto grates. This is an important step, I did not oil my grill well enough which caused the skin to stick a bit.  If you have a fish basket, use it!

4. Grill on each side for about 6 minutes or until cooked through.  Make sure to flip your fish carefully using a large spatula. 

5. Remove fish from grill, pour over remaining marinade and garnish with cilantro.  Now... dig in!!!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Melbourne Food and Wine Festival Review: 2nd Edition

Prahran Market held the Flavour Fiesta yesterday.  In a word : Disappointed.  VERY disappointed.  In my opinion, it was barely worth the two dollars that we paid to park.  I couldn't see much difference from any other day visiting Prahran Market.

We were expecting a 'very special tasting event' as it was advertised, an event to educate shoppers, compare produce and learn about selection.  There were VERY few tastings and most of them were the same thing, grilled sausages.  Honestly, I most enjoyed reading the few educational postings about food and ingredients.

I do not recommend this event and I am disappointed that Prahran Market did not do more for this great concept.  Heading the Roman Block Party tonight and I do not expect to be disappointed.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Melbourne Food and Wine Festival Review: 1st Edition

The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival is currently underway and there are fabulous events going on all over the city!  This is the first of many events that I plan on attending.  I look forward to taking advantage of this wonderful opportunity to further explore the food and wine culture which Melbourne is so well known for. 

"Lose yourself in Melbourne."  As Melbourne is famous for it's hidden treasures found in the most unrecognizable laneways, we figured a laneway party was a great way to start enjoying the festival.  Again this year, Comme Kitchen in Melbourne's CBD hosted Joie de Vivre. 

Alfred Place was shipped overseas to France as guests enjoyed the tastes and sounds of France.  Contemporary French fare served hors d'oeuvre style, Frech wine, Kronenbourg, and French accordion music were enjoyed alfresco.   

My take.  We had a wonderful time, the weather held out and we enjoyed some nice food and drink.  Would we have had a great time if it weren't for good company?  I dont know if I would use the word great.  Although there were a limited number of tickets sold, they seemed to be short on food.  Servers brought around hors d'oeuvres throughout the evening, but at times, we didn't see any for 15 minutes or more and they ran out before the server made it to our table.  There was a point when they ran out of wine as well and had to restock. 

I was limited in what I tasted as I am not currently eating meat.  The ratatouille tarts were good although the actual tart was a bit dry.  The salted cod balls were fantastic, perfectly light and fluffy with a nice crunch.  Unfortunatly, we did not get to taste the scallop ceviche as they seemed to run out before it made it's way over.  Obviously, there were many hors d'oeuvres which I did not get to try so I am not sure if my review is a good reflection of the fare.

Would I go again next year?  No, unless I had the great company that I did this year and was confident that I would leave with a bit more food in my stomach.  I will be doing some catching up this weekend... looking forward to Cellar Door at Southgate, The Flavour Fiesta at Prahran Market, and the Roman Block Party at Giuseppe Arnold & Sons.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

In the spirit of today's world renowned Irish holiday, I wanted to make a traditional Irish dish for dinner.  The first thing that came to mind was the obvious, corned beef and cabbage.  I had never made it before and it's fun to do something a bit different for holidays.  While I'm not eating meat during Lent, I did make an exception in the case, I don't exactly think vegetarian or seafood when I think of Irish cuisine.  Can someone say Dispensation?

Corned beef is not something I would usually cook, or even eat.  It's just not really the style of cuisine that I enjoy.  I did partake in the Irish feast and although it wasn't my favorite and I'll probably never make it any other day of the year, the final word was that is was a very good corned beef.  It's actually pretty easy to make.  Although it takes a few hours to cook, there's isn't much active time on your part.

Corned Beef and Cabbage


2 1b. uncooked corned beef brisket
4 cups beef stock
1 bottle of beer
2 tsp black peppercorns
3 cloves of garlic, smashed
2 bay leaves
4 whole cloves
dash of nutmeg
3 sprigs thyme
3 sprigs parsley
2 carrots, cut into chunks
2 onions, quartered
2 potatoes, cubed
1/2 head of cabbage, cut into wedges
salt and pepper to taste


1. In large pot, add corned beef and all ingredients through parsley.  Cover with water and cover.  Bring to a boil then reduce to low and simmer for about 2 1/2 hours depending on the size of your corned beef until it is tender.
2. Add carrots, onions, and potatoes and cook for 15 minutes.
3. Add cabbage and cook for 15 more minutes. 
4. Remove corned beef and let it rest for 15 minutes.  Slice and serve with horseradish.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Miso-glazed Eggplant

Miso-based marinades are fantastic on fish.  That was the original purpose for this marinade, but I had plenty leftover so I decided to use it for these japaenese eggplants.  The marinade can also be used as a base for sauces or dressings.  It will keep in the fridge for up to a month and or may be freezed so feel free to make this in large quantities.  I wish I had made more!

Miso Marinade


2 cups miso paste
1 cup mirin
1/2 cup honey


1. Combine the ingredients in a glass bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. 
2. Remove from heat and allow to cool.  Use as marinade.

Miso-glazed Eggplant


4 japanese eggplants, halved lengthwise
1/2 cup Miso Marinade (see above)


1. Brush eggplants with half of the marinade and allow to infuse for 30 minutes. 
2. Prepare grill for high heat cooking.  Place eggplants flesh side down and cook for 2 minutes until marinade has caramelized.  Turn over and cook for another 3 minutes until soft.
3. Remove and brush with a little more marinade.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

DIY: Pantry Storage Jars

I don't know about your pantry, but mine is always filled with half-used bags, plastic jars, random boxes... it's messy... and sometimes embarrassing. 

I saw this great (and CHEAP) storage idea on a local channel here in Melbourne.  Using leftover jars, you can create cute storage containers.  You only have to buy the spray paint and any stencils that you may want.

I love this glass frosting spray paint.  For just a few dollars, you can turn an old jar of pickles into an attractive way to store your flaked almonds.  A pantry full of these jars would be nothing to be embarrassed about! 

To make these, just follow these easy steps:

1. Prepare a workspace outside, spray paint can be messy.  I used an old cardboard box and cut out one side.
2. Using tape or stencils, prepare your jars to your liking.
3. Following the directions on the glass frosting spray paint, apply a few coats to the jars as necessary.
4. Do the same for the lids in your favorite color.
5. Allow to dry completely before removing the stencils.

Save your jars and soon you can have an organized attractive pantry.  I plan on color-coding with the lids when I have more jars!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

These heirlooms won't be around for long!

Although there is no exact definition of an heirloom, or heritage tomato, it is generally considered to be a variety that has been passed down for generations due to desired characteristics.  They have strong and unique colors and flavors.  Rarely are they perfectly round and can often be lumpy and misshaped.  Don't be turned off by this as they are divine!  It's best to use them for dishes where their flavors can really shine.

I found some beautiful, ripe heirloom tomatoes at the farmers market and put them to immediate use when I got home.  It's hard to believe that they pack so much punch, they were bursting with flavor!  As I really wanted to concentrate on the flavor of the tomato, I decided to do a simple tomato salad.

Heirloom Tomato Salad


1 lb heirloom tomatoes
small handful of basil leaves, plus more for garnish
1/2 tsp garlic, chopped
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
pinch of salt
cracked black pepper


1. Halve, quarter and slice the tomatoes as you please.  Feel free to do rough chops.
2. Roughly chop basil and add to mortar and pestle with garlic, olive oil and salt.  Grind to a liquidy paste.  Add more olive oil or basil to reach desired consistency.

3. Drizzle over tomatoes and gently toss.  Garnish with torn basil leaves and cracked black pepper.  Sprinkle with additional salt if desired.

The salad would be great with some creamy buffalo mozzeralla to soak up the flavors!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Zucchini Carpaccio Salad

Lately, I just cannot get enough rocket (known as baby arugula in the States).  It's addicting, I seriously find myself munching on it like a rabbit at times.  I am having to force myself to use other greens when making salads.  I suppose it's not the worst addiction that I could have... (I won't mention a little thing called red wine).

Not only is this herb great in salads but it's also perfect if you are looking to add a peppery zip to your dish!  I actually planted some seedlings on Saturday, but about 30 minutes we later we had the most fierce hailstorm that I have ever witnessed and these poor little guys were torn to shreds.  I think I have some more digging to do...

Here's a lovely salad featuring this beautiful herb.  It's light, refreshing and has a perfect sweet, sour, and peppery balance.  It is best served immediately.

Zucchini Carpaccio Salad


2 zucchini
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 handfuls of baby arugula (rocket)
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
10 basil leaves
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, shaved
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper


1. Using vegetable peeler and firmly holding zucchini by stem end, shave zucchini lengthwise into long ribbons, discarding outer pieces. 
2. To remove moisture, toss zucchini slices with 1 tsp salt in a large colander set over a bowl and let drain 20 minutes.
3. Rinse zucchini ribbons and gently squeeze with kitchen towel to remove moisture. Pat dry.
4. Whisk together lemon juice, salt and gradually add olive oil to emulsify.  Toss rocket with dressing.
5. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Drizzle 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil over greens and toss.
6. Chiffonade basil leaves by rolling them tightly, then cutting across the rolled leaves to produce fine ribbons.
7. To arrange salad, sprinkle basil leaves over arugula, top with zucchini slices, sprinkle with lemon zest, shaved parm and pepper. Give a very gentle toss and serve.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Tomatoes Provencal

I had to make a side dish for a lunch that I was attending so I figured that I would take advantage of the wonderful, juicy summer tomatoes while they are still in season!  With this classic yet simple French side dish from Provence, you really can't go wrong when using ripe, good-quality tomatoes.  Heirloom tomatoes are great if you can find them!

The nutty and slight salty Gruyere paired exquisitely with the fresh herbs and sweet, juicy tomato.  Each layer gave a textural contrast - the tender, juicy tomatos, topped with crispy, toasted herbed breadcrumbs, and finished off with creamy, melted gruyere. 

This dish is great for an easy side for entertaining and also travels well.  You can arrange the stuffed tomatoes ahead and time and refrigerate until you are ready to bake.  It's also very easy to make in large quantities. 

Tomatoes Provencal


6 ripe tomatoes
5 slices of fresh white bread
1/4 cup shallots, minced
1/4 cup basil leaves, minced
2 tbsp parsley, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
pinch of fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup Gruyere cheese, grated
high-quality olive oil, for drizzling


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Cut crusts from the bread and process to make fine crumbs.
2. Cut the cores from the tomatoes, removing as little as possible. Cut them in half crosswise and remove the seeds with your fingers.  Place the tomato halves in a baking dish and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.

3. Combine the bread crumbs, shallots, herbs, and 1 tsp salt. Stuff tomato cavities and cover with bread crumb mixture.

Cover with foil and bake the tomatoes for 10 minutes, remove foil and bake for 10 more minutes until tomatoes are tender. Sprinkle with the cheese, drizzle with olive oil, and bake for 2 more minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Friday, March 5, 2010


As I've said before, I'm not a huge sweets person, so these two-bite treats are perfect!  Cupcakes are just so appealing!  AND so versatile!  They come in all different sizes, shapes, and flavors.  You can play around with the cake, the icing, and the toppings.  The possibilities are endless. 

For my first experience with cupcakes, yes - I said my first experience, I went with a very basic recipe.  There were tasty albeit a little buttery for me. 


1/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup self-raising flour, sifted
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup icing sugar


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C).  Line 24-cup mini muffin pan with mini-cupcake papers. 

2. Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg.  Beat in flour, milk, and vanilla.

3. Divide mixture among cupcake papers and bake for 10-15 minutes until golden and firm.  Cool fully on wire rack.

4. For icing, beat butter and vanilla until light and fluffy.  Gradually add icing sugar until fully combined.  Spoon into a piping bag, and pipe onto cooled cupcakes. 

I can't wait to try some new and fun cupcakes recips but I'm still looking for that perfect vanilla cupcake recipe... any insider tips?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

My Asian-fusion Seafood Feast

Since living in Australia, my cooking has definitely been influenced by our proximity to Asia.  I'm really enjoying experimenting with different ingredients and techniques.  The food is healthy, I love the complex flavors, and I can't find anything wrong with eating a ton of seafood!

After a quick run to the market, I stopped by my favorite asian grocery, picked up a few things, and headed home to prepare my seafood feast.  I gathered together all of my 'asian ingredients' and waited for inspiration. 

I decided on pan-fried ginger scallops, tuna tartare over fried rice, and tuna and mango sashimi cups.  I had intended to make another small dish - something with shrimp and shitake mushrooms but my ideas were bigger than my stomach and I'd have to save those shrimp for something else!

As only the sashimi cups, scallops, and fried rice require cooking, you can do much of the preparation ahead of time and throw a few things together last minute!  For my first tuna dish...

Tuna & Mango Sashimi Cups


3/4 cup tuna, diced
1/4 cup mango, diced
1/4 cup cucumber, diced
2 tbsp onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp lime juice
1 tsp cilantro chopped
2 spring roll wrappers


1. Combine sashimi ingredients, through lime juice and refrigerate.

2. To make 'cups' for the sashimi, preheat oven to 400 degrees F, slighten dampen spring roll wrappers, cut into rounds, and mold into cups in a mini muffin pan.  Bake for about 5 minutes until firm and crisp.  Remove from pan and let cool.
3. Fill cups with sashimi and serve.  Garnish with additional cilantro if desired.

The spring rolls cups were light, gave a nice crunch, and served their purpose; however, I'd probably try something with a bit more flavor next time.  They would be great if I could figure out a way to do them fried?

Pan-fried Ginger Scallops



8 large scallops
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1-inch knob of ginger sliced
2 garlic cloves, sliced

For sauce:
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp mirin
1/2-inch knob of ginger, grated 

For garnish:
1 tbsp cilantro leaves
1 stalk green onion, thinly sliced
1 red chili, thinly sliced
1 tsp fried shallots


1.  Heat oil over medium heat and add ginger and garlic slices.  Cook for 4 minute to infuse oil with flavor.  Increase heat to medium high.  Season scallops, add to pan and cook 1-2 minutes on each side until almost cooked through and golden brown.  Remove from pan 

2.  Whisk together ingredients for sauce, toss in pan quickly, and strain over scallops

3.  Garnish with cilantro, green onion, chili, and fried shallots.

And last but not least (my personal favorite of the night)...

Tuna Tartare over Fried Rice


3/4 cup tuna, diced
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp honey
2 tsp mirin
1 tsp wasabi paste
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp pepper

For fried rice:*
2 cups cooked white rice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, chopped
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 egg beaten

For garnish:
1/2 cup watercress
1 lemon, juiced
1/2-inch know of ginger, grated

* This will make more fried rice than is required for this dish, but I don't see that as a bad thing :)


1. To make your ginger-infused lemon juice for your garnish, combine grated ginger and lemon juice and let sit for at least 30 minutes.
2. Combine all ingredients for tuna and refrigerate.
3. For fried rice, heat vegetable oil in a wok over medium-high heat.  Add onion and garlic, tossing constantly so it does not burn.  When softened, add rice and stir through. 
4. Push rice up the sides of wok creating a hole in the center.  Add egg and loosely scramble.  Season with salt and pepper.
5. To arrange dish, use circular mold.  Push rice into bottom half of the mold.  Remove tuna from marinade and fill mold.  Strain lemon juice over watercress, toss, and layer on top of tuna.

With the mix of ingredients that I had to work with, there was not way that I could go wrong!  It was a delicious and healthy seafood feast!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Upside-down Applesauce Cake

I am going to keep this one short today... Saw a recipe using applesauce in a cake.  Liked the idea. Made a few changes.  Made a lot of changes.  Turned it upside-down.  Came out pretty and pretty tasty.  Enjoy.

Upside-down Applesauce Cake


2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 stick unsalted butter, softened, plus 1/4 cup, melted for topping
1 cup light brown sugar, packed plus 1/2 cup for topping
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups applesauce
3 granny smith apples

Note: This recipe makes 2 shallow cakes.  As I was playing around a bit, I came out with a lot of batter!


1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180 C).  Prepare your baking dish by buttering sides throughly.  You will be adding melted butter to dish so you not need to butter bottom.

2. Whisk together dry ingredients through cloves.  Leave a small bit of cinnamon to sprinkle on your topping.  Set aside.

3. Beat stick of butter, 1 cup brown sugar, and vanilla until pale and fluffy.  Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Then beat in applesauce. Mix in flour at a low speed until just combined.  Do not overmix.

4.  For your gooey apple topping, core, peel, and slice apples. Do not worry about them browning.

5. Add melted butter to your baking dish so that you have a thin layer. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Adjust the amounts if required.  Dust with leftover cinnamon and arrange apples in even layer.  Remember that this will be the top of your cake, so get creative!  Pour batter over topping.

6. Bake for about 30-40 minutes or until golden brown.  Use the toothpick test!

7. Cool in pan for about 10 minutes and invert onto platter.  Serve warm topped with scoop of vanilla ice cream.


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