Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Maple and Mustard-Glazed Salmon


This delicious and simple salmon recipe is a major time-saver. It only takes a few minutes to whip up the glaze and about 5-6 minutes for broiling. Not to mention, it's my favorite dish of all time!  

How To Make Maple and Mustard-Glazed Salmon

Ingredients: salmon fillet, dijon mustard, Sriracha (red rooster) hot sauce, maple syrup and chili powder.



Mix dijon mustard, maple syrup and chili powder in a bowl. Season it with a pinch of salt. This will be the glaze for the salmon.


Brush the glaze on the salmon fillet.


Set the broiler to high and place the salmon on top rack. It's important to place the salmon close to the broiler so the glaze will caramelize (as shown below).  It's also important to use a conventional versus a toaster oven for broiling, as the toaster oven broiler is not strong enough to caramelize the glaze. I have tried using a toaster oven for this, which was an epic failure. Make sure the oven is slightly open for ventilation. Broil in high heat for 5-6 minutes, or until the glaze turns into small dark circles.  The dish is done! 


I personally like to use Sriracha hot sauce as a dip for this salmon dish. It compliments so well with the sweetness and sourness of the maple-mustard glaze.


Ingredients: 

1 lb of Salmon Fillet
1 tbs of Maple Syrup 
1 tbs of Dijon Mustard
1/4 tsp of Chili Pepper 
1/2 tsp of Salt

Optional:
Sriracha Hot Sauce
Lemon Juice

Directions: 

1. Mix dijon mustard, maple syrup and chili powder in a bowl. Season it with a pinch of salt.

2. Brush the maple-mustard glaze on the salmon fillet. 

3. Set the broiler to high and place the salmon on top rack (must use a conventional oven). Broil for 5-6 minutes or until the glaze turns into small dark circles. 

Optional: compliment with a splash of lemon juice and Sriracha hot sauce.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Upgraded Knives


Since it was raining today, my family and I decided to spend our Saturday at the mall. We went to Valley Fair to walk around and of course I had to stop by one of my favorite shops, Williams-Sonoma! I was browsing their specialty herbs section when my husband asked me to come over to check out the knives. They had a demo area with cutting board and vegetables. I have never used high-end knives before and was curious how they cut compared to my Zwilling J.A. Henckels set my husband bought years ago. I decided to give them a try and instantly fell in love. I compared a Wustof Classic to a Shun Classic and preferred the Shun because the handle felt better and blade seems sharper. But after talking to the salesperson, he noted that the Shuns are sharper because of the damascus steel (created by bonding thin layers of high carbon steel) but may not be as durable as the Wustof's single cast steel. In the end, I did an impulse purchase on a set of Wustof Classics to replace my trusty Henckels. If you love cooking like me, you need to try one of these knives. I didn't know what I was missing out on all my life!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Simple Lasagna



Lasagna is among one of my favorite foods and I have craving for it every now and then. After tasting so many frozen lasagnas and not being impressed, I decided to make my own. The recipe I am posting is a result of combining and simplifying a few recipes that I found online. The biggest difference in my recipe is the use of oven-ready lasagna noodles, which saved me a lot of time. This recipe is so easy that anyone can make it without buying a whole lot of ingredients.

Ingredients at a Glance

The main ingredients are ground beef, Italian sausages, mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, ricotta cheese, marinara sauce, onion and oven-ready lasagna noodles.


How To Make Simple Lasagna

Dice onion into small pieces. In a deep skillet, brown onion, and then put in ground beef and Italian sausages. You may slice the sausages before bringing them to the skillet, but to save time, I just cut them into pieces with kitchen shears while cooking. Cook on medium-high heat until meats are slightly brown. Empty a jar of marinara sauce into the pan, stir, and let it simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes or until meats are completely cooked. Meanwhile, season the meat sauce with salt and pepper.


In a mixing bowl, crack one egg, use all the ricotta cheese, 2/3 of the mozzarella, and 2/3 of the parmesan. Reserve the two 1/3 bags of cheeses (mozzarella and parmesan) for the top layer later. Season the cheese mixture with cayenne pepper and dried parsley. Mix everything well until it turns into a thick cream. You are welcome to use fresh parsley if you have it. Since I rarely keep fresh parsley in my fridge, I just used what I have in hand. 

 

After mixing the cheeses and cooking the meat sauce, the next step is to compose the lasagna. I was really lost reading other recipes on the composing part, so for convenience, I came up with an easy way to remember the layering order (starting from the bottom layer):
1. Meat Sauce
2. Noodles
3. Cheese Mixture
4. Meat Sauce
5. Noodles
6. Cheese Mixture
7. Meat Sauce
8. Un-mixed Cheeses (Mozzarella & Parmesan) 

For best results, spread the cheese mixture using a soft spatula. Gently shake the pan to level meat sauce. The container I am using is a 9 x 13 inches Pyrex baking pan. 


Cover the pan with foil and make sure it's not in contact with the cheese. Place the covered pan in a 375 degree heated oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the cover, and bake for another 30 minutes. Once it's done, let it cool down for another 20 minutes at room temperature before serving. 


Sprinkle dried parsley over the lasagna. The lasagna is complete and ready to serve. The portion shown here can serve 10, which makes a great party dish. After learning that lasagna is so simple, I don't think I will be buying frozen lasagna anymore.


Ingredients

15 oz Ricotta Cheese
8 oz Mozzarella Cheese, grated
8 oz Parmesan Cheese, grated 
1 lb Ground beef
1 lb Italian Sausages
25 oz Marinara Sauce
1 Medium Size Onion
1 Egg
Salt 
Black Pepper
Cayenne Pepper
Dried Parsley (fresh is even better)
(Makes 10 servings)

Directions
1. Brown diced onion in a deep skillet. Add sliced Italian sausages and ground beef. Cook on medium-high heat. Add marinara sauce, stir, and let it simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes or until meats are completely cooked. Season the meat sauce with salt and pepper.

2. Mix egg, ricotta cheese, 2/3 of the mozzarella, and 2/3 of the parmesan. Reserve the two 1/3 bags of cheeses (mozzarella and parmesan) for the top layer later. Season the cheese mixture with cayenne pepper and dried parsley. Mix everything well until it turns into a thick cream. 

3. In a 9 x 13 inches baking pan, compose the lasagna with the following order (starting from bottom layer):
  • Meat Sauce
  • Noodles
  • Cheese Mixture
  • Meat Sauce
  • Noodles
  • Cheese Mixture
  • Meat Sauce
  • Un-mixed Cheeses (Mozzarella & Parmesan)

4. Cover the pan with foil and make sure it's not in contact with the cheese. Place the covered pan in a 375 degree heated oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the cover, and bake for another 30 minutes.

5. Let the lasagna cool down at room temperature for 20 minutes. Sprinkle dried parsley and serve.  

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

San Francisco Chinese Food Trek

After moving to the south bay for a few years, I feel like I am no different than a tourist whenever I have a chance to visit San Francisco.  Last Sunday, I was being a tourist again - waiting in line for the best dim-sum joint in the city and waiting in line for the best egg custards in Chinatown.

My family and I arrived at Hong Kong Lounge around noon. To my surprise, the line was not typically long. Perhaps it had to do with the spring forward time change and the rain in the morning. We were happily seated after waiting for 20 minutes.

A typical scene outside of Hong Kong Lounge on Geary St.

We ordered our usual plates: sui-mai, wrapped rice noodle, beef meatballs, etc. My favorite plate is less commonly accepted by others - the Durian pastry. It has a sulfur odor that many people would not like, but for me, this is a delicacy that I keep coming back to.  Hong Kong Lounge is one of the few places that can make it right.

 

 

After grabbing dim sum, we decided to bring my baby daughter to Chinatown for the first time. We walked along Grant Ave, and revisited those pretty gift shops selling oriental souvenirs. I actually have no idea how those shops can stay in business for years, because I've never seen anyone buying anything. 

As we walked toward Columbus Street on Grant Ave, there was a familiar smell coming from a seemingly rundown pastry shop. There's only one pastry shop on Grant Ave - the famous Golden Gate Bakery. Like any other tourists, we patiently waited behind 20 people for the baked goods. 

After buying the egg custards, we walked down to Tien Ren's Tea Time for some tapioca drinks. It was a good place to sit down and savor our fresh baked custards. Although Tien Ren doesn't have the best tapioca balls in town, the tea is undoubtedly excellent. I definitely like it better than other tapioca places in Chinatown. 


With a milk-tea tapioca and SF's most famous egg custard, my San Francisco food trek was complete! 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Tofu with Preserved Duck Eggs Salad (皮蛋豆腐)- A Shanghainese Cold Dish

Ever have one of those days where you felt very lazy, and didn't even want to turn on the stove to cook? Then how about a plate that doesn't require any cooking? Today's recipe is a slightly modified Shanghainese cold dish - Tofu with Preserved Duck Eggs (皮蛋豆腐). It's simple and quick to make, and best of all - don't need to turn on the stove!

The main ingredients are soft tofu, preserved duck eggs(皮蛋), cooked shredded dried pork and green onions. The seasoning sauce ingredients include sesame oil, chicken broth powder mix (use real chicken stock if you have it) and soy sauce. I used the broth mix because I didn't have chicken stock at home. The preserved eggs and shredded dried pork might be a bit hard to find, if you don't have any Asian supermarkets nearby.


How To Make Tofu with Preserved Duck Eggs

Carefully slice soft tofu into 3-quarter inch cubes and transfer to a mesh drainer.  Drain for at least 15 minutes. There's no need to cook soft raw tofu, as they are safe to consume.   



Next step is to dice preserved duck eggs into half-inch pieces. Preserved duck eggs are ready to eat, so no need to cook.  


Next step is to chop green onions. 


After preparing all ingredients, next step is mixing the sauce. The sauce consists of sesame oil, chicken broth and soy sauce, seasoned with sugar.  Use hot water when mixing the chicken broth, so that way the powder can easily dissolve.  One good thing about using chicken broth mix is the flexibility of controlling taste, therefore I haven't been buying chicken stock lately.  You can definitely use the regular chicken stock for this recipe, but need to add seasoning to strengthen the taste.


With all the ingredients and sauce set aside, the dish is almost ready.  Lightly transfer the tofu to a dish bowl, then followed by diced preserved duck eggs, shredded dried pork and green onions.
  
 


















Drizzle the sauce mixture evenly over the ingredients and ready to serve.




Ingredients:

1 Box of Soft Tofu
2 Preserved Duck Eggs
1.5 Oz of Cooked Shredded Dried Pork
1 Stalk of Green Onion
1 Tbs of Sesame Oil
1 Tsp of Soy Sauce
2/3 Tbs of Chicken Broth Powder Mix (or use 1/3 cups of chicken stock)
1/3 Cup of Hot Water (if using broth powder mix)
1/2 Tbs of Sugar
(Serves 4 as appetizer or 2 as main dish)

Directions:

1. Slice soft tofu into 3-quarter inch cubes. Drain in a mesh and sit for at least 15 minutes. 

2. Dice preserved duck eggs into half-inch pieces. Chop green onion. 

3. Mix chicken broth mix powder with hot water. Whisk together chicken broth with sesame oil, soy sauce and sugar. 

4. In a dish bowl, layer tofu first, followed by preserved duck eggs, shredded dried pork and then green onions. 

5. Drizzle sauce mixture evenly over the ingredients and serve. 

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