Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cranberry Chutney

When Fall arrives with the breeze of cool weather and the turning of the's time to make Cranberry Chutney.

Cranberry Chutney
1 C water
1 C sugar
4 cloves1 t cinnamon
1/2 C chopped onion
1/2 clove garlic
1/2 t salt
1/4 C vinegar
dash of cayenne
Simmer for 5 minutes, then add:
1/2 C raisins, 1/2 C dates, 1/4 C diced preserved ginger, 1/4 C brown sugar, 2 C cranberries
Cook until all cranberries POP open
Makes 1-1/2 pints; use as an accompaniment to your Thanksgiving turkey, pork roasts, on a turkey sandwich for this savory and delicious treat.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tilapia with Blood Oranges, baked sweet dumpling squash, and salad

I love blood oranges.  Everything about them speaks to me:  the rich variegated color of the skin, the deep red-orange of the flesh, the aroma.  I spotted a display in Central Market and had to bring some home.  Now, what to do with them?  I love slicing the top off and baking them.  For this meal I decided to see how they performed alongside fish as an accompaniment.

4-6 tilapia filets
grapeseed oil
salt and pepper
curry rub
1 tablespoon butter

Zest the blood orange and chop zest coarsely.
Slice the orange in thin cross-sections
Add oil and butter to pre-heated pan (medium heat)
Place tilapia in pan with one orange slice under and on top of each filet.
Season with small pinch of curry rub, salt and pepper.
Cook approximately 3-4 minutes on each side.
Turn carefully by using two spatulas:  one on top to stabilize the orange slice and prevent breaking the filet, and one underneath.
Sprinkle zest over turned filets.
Turned filets
Side dishes:
Roasted sweet dumpling squash & arugula salad with sauteed onions & mushrooms

here is a sweet dumpling squash (I'd never seen one before)
A deeper orange than a pumpkin, and  a tougher skin
It tastes like a blend of pumpkin and acorn squash.  Very tasty!
Cut squash in half and scoop out the seeds and pulp

Turn face-down in baking pan (use a pan with a lip, as the squash emit a lot of juice during roasting) lined with parchment
Roast @ 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.  Check skin for softness.
When soft, remove from oven and allow to cool.
Scoop squash out of skin and into a serving dish.  Use a fork to mash, or serve in loose chunks.
I serve the squash with a small dollop of butter, salt and pepper.

Saute sliced mushrooms, shallots, and scallions in small amount of olive or grapeseed oil until 
mushrooms are brown and onions are slightly caramelized.
Remove from pan and allow to cool slightly.
Dress salad greens with vinaigrette, then top with onion-mushroom mixture.

This meal is a beautiful, healthy, colorful feast for the eyes and the palette.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Guest Chef Ann Crane makes Risotto (Orange County, CA)

I’m happy to be a guest chef on the blog!  As a caterer, we do food for groups of 10 and groups of 100’s, and I love to cook risotto in the fall and winter for all of them!  Yes, it’s quite a bit of stirring, but in my view, well worth the effort!  I just make sure that the rest of the dinner doesn’t take much work or time!

This recipe was developed for a fellow foodie client who loves his beef, but has a wife, kids and extended family members who are vegetarians. He wanted risotto to go with his beef, and a hearty main course for the non-meat eaters.  This was the result. Enjoy!

(And just to clarify, cepes are dried shiitakes, and yes, you can substitute fresh, but then you won’t have the mushroom water for the broth.  Your choice.)  As with any recipe, be sure you have all the ingredients in hand before you start!  (photo 1) I chose to use Clos la Chance wine for this risotto. My cousin is the assistant wine maker, and I LOVE supporting her efforts!  But any clean, dry white wine will work.

2 envelopes of Knorr Swiss Vegetables Soup Mix in 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil.  Then strain out the solids, saving the liquid in the stock pot at simmer. (You may ask, why not just buy those cartons of vegetable broth?  In my opinion, it's too brown and fake tasting.  The dry mix in water tastes better!)                    
1/2 cup  Dried Cepes reconstituted in 2 cups boiling water (swish them around a bit and let them stand and absorb the water.  The sand/grit will fall to the bottom.  After 15 minutes, use a slotted spoon to lift them out of the water and julienne).  Line the strainer with a paper coffee filter.  Place it over a small bowl and pour the water through the strainer.  Save the water!  Throw out the filter!
1 1/2 cups  Minced Shallots and Red Onions  (I like using all shallots, but I didn’t have enough on hand, so I mixed them together).     
2 cloves Garlic Minced and 1/3 cup  Extra Virgin Olive Oil and some oil from the sundried tomatoes jar. Sweat the onions and garlic for 10 minutes (picture below).

2 cups Carnaroli Arborio Rice – add the rice to the onions, sautee the rice to coat.  Add a 6oz ladle of vegetarian broth and start stirring with a wooden spoon (Yes, a wooden spoon!  It works better than metal.  I don't know why, but it's true!).  Once that ladleful has been absorbed, alternately add some white wine, a ladleful of broth and cepe water
1 cup  White Wine (plus a glass on the side for cook consumption!)
                        You’ll know you’re at the right temperature if you see small bubbles around the edges and in the stirring strokes.  On my flat top electric cooktop at home, it's one click over medium to maintain the right rice temperature
                        When you’re about 20 minutes thru the process, add the solids.
1/2 cup Chopped fine Carrots, 1/2 cup Julienned Sundried Tomatoes in oil and Julienned Cepe mushrooms 

Continue until all the wine and mushroom water are gone, but you may have vegetable broth leftover.   After 20 minutes of stirring, start tasting!  The rice should have a little texture to it.  Not perfectly soft like Uncle Ben's.  Once you get to the "I think it's done" point, turn off the fire and stir in the cheese, parsley and butter to finish.
2 T Butter, 1-1/2 cups Asiago grated skinny and 2T Chopped Parsley                     

You’ll see a texture change as the cheese and butter melt.  Now’s the time to taste for flavor.  The cheese probably gave it enough salt, but I usually grind some black pepper on top and garnish with a little more cheese.   The pan can sit off the fire for a good 10 minutes, if need be. Just add a little more stock to loosen it back up, just before you plate up.

All in all, it should take at least 40 minutes from start to finish.  Stirring most of the time, but not every second

And it’s always a good idea to get all your measured pieces assembled before you start the whole skillet process,  The French call this the mise en place.

Sweat the onions and garlic in a large saute pan or risotto pan.  (Sweating means to let the onions and garlic cook and get translucent, but not brown.  I always start this first, since it will take a good 10 minutes, right off the bat.

You’ll know all the liquid has been absorbed when you see the bottom of the pan when you stir.  You don't want to add more liquid until the previous liquid is absorbed

Adding the solids;  You’ll see a texture change as the cheese and butter melt.  Now’s the time to taste for flavor.  The cheese probably gave it enough salt, but I usually grind some black pepper on top and garnish with a little more cheese.   The pan can sit off the fire for a good 10 minutes, if need be. Just add a little more stock to loosen it back up, just before you plate up.
I had about 9 cups of risotto when I was finished.  I figure Mom and I will have some aracini on Sunday - round balls of cooked risotto dipped in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs.  If I have peanut oil, I'll deep fry them to golden and serve them with some marinara.  If not, I'll saute in olive oil.  If I do it hot and fast, it should work.
So, what happens if you cook the risotto too fast?  I found out the hard way!  The rice kernels sort of exploded and turned all mushy.  Part of the slow absorption process allows the starch to be released from each piece of rice and create that creamy texture.  It’s not cream, it’s the starch that makes your final product creamy!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Lamb Chops: The Ultimate Fast Food

 There is a wonderful purveyor of lamb at the Pearl Farmer's Market here in San Antonio.  We are so fortunate!  The lamb is the best I've ever had.
Tonight's dinner used lamb, arugula, onions, and I used some products from a new purveyor at the Pearl Market, Oil Fusion, makers of balsamic vinegars, truffle oil, and more.

Pan-seared Lamb Chops:
4 lamb chops, brought out of the refrigerator and close to room temp
Royer's lemon-pepper dry rub
Oil Fusion blackberry balsamic vinegar
grapeseed oil

In a small sealable container, place 1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 2 Tablespoons grapeseed oil.  Shake well to emulsify.
Pour over chops, coating on both sides.

 Sprinkle a generous amount of lemon-pepper rub, or any sort of dry rub, on chops.  The dry rub isn't necessary to achieve great flavor.  I added a small sprinkle of homemade curry rub, too.

Heat a pan on medium-high heat.  Add a small amount of grapeseed oil.  Add chops.  Cook for approximately 3.5 minutes on both sides.  Remove from heat and allow to rest for a few minutes prior to serving.
Sliced onions were tossed with a small amount of truffle-infused olive oil,
sauteed until slightly caramelized, and set aside to cool . 

Arugula was tossed with a vinaigrette composed of more blackberry balsamic vinegar,
grapeseed oil, a dash of curry mixture, and pepper.

Arugula was plated, then topped with onions

A delicious meal, easily cooked in less than 15 minutes!

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Field Trip to Whole Food Market Flagship Store in Austin TX!

Most of us love Whole Food Market.  I love my San Antonio store.  Until this week, I hadn't visited the gorgeous flagship store in Austin TX, home of Whole Food.  The store is incredible!  The layout of the market is unique:  eateries are located throughout the store.  It makes for an interesting ambience for both  diners and shoppers.  If you are ever in the area, it is a must-see.  I'm posting some random images.  I love "living walls" and hope to incorporate one into my garden someday.  I don't mess around with chocolate, but admire the artistry of those who use it as sculpture!
creepy haunted tree in a chocolate cemetery!

chocolate skeleton and coffin-yay!

living wall near the store parking entrance
(I love the conveyer-belt escalator that allows shopping carts!)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Wonderful Turkish dishes!

 Ozlem Warren is a wonderful cook and cooking instructor from Austin (by way of Turkey).  I have had the pleasure of taking a cooking class from her at Central Market in San Antonio.  I receive her periodic newsletter, and these recipes look so delicious I wrote and asked permission to share them on our blog.  Ozlem graciously agreed to share.  I hope you enjoy them and take a moment to stop by her website and blog.  Someday I would love to accompany her on a tour of her native Turkey!  Thanks, Ozlem!
Here is her post:
I wanted to share a couple of new, exciting entries on Ozlem's Turkish Table. My fillo pastry with aubergine (eggplant) recipe won the borek competition run by the Foods of Turkey website ! Here is the link to the article :
And below is the winning smoked eggplant borek recipe; it is very delicious, I hope you give it a go sometime.

And a classic all in one dish Mousakka; a delight to all senses, featuring our beloved Patlican (eggplant/aubergine).
The joy of this special dish is that you can prepare in advance and give a gentle reheat before serving – and you get to enjoy your company without the last minute rush. 

If you would like to get regular updates for delicious, healthy and easy to make Turkish recipes, you can subscribe to my web/blog by clicking to subscribe button at my website

Afiyet Olsun & Best wishes for share of good food to you all,


Ozlem's Aubergine (Eggplant) Borek - Winner of the Foods of Turkey! 
Posted: 06 Oct 2010 03:41 AM PDT

Stop Press! I am delighted to let you know that Ozlem's Turkish Table won the "Borek" (stuffed pastry) Competition run by the Foods of Turkey website with my aubergine (eggplant) borek recipe! Here is the link to the article :
And here is the winning smoked eggplant recipe; it is very delicious, I hope you give it a go sometime:
Eggplant, aubergine is the king of vegetables (actually fruit, as it has seeds) at home; we must have over 200 recipes featuring our beloved eggplant. I made a twist to the eggplant boreks at home, this time grilling the eggplants with the skin on and using the lovely soft flesh. The result was a wonderful marriage of smoked eggplant flesh with sweet onions, tomatoes and mozzarella (you can also use mild cheddar cheese instead). These pastries would make great vegetarian appetizers; they are also lovely served with garlic yoghurt by the side.

Once cooked, they freeze very well too.

Serves 4 - 6 
Preparation time: 45 minutes Cooking time: 25 - 30 minutes

260 gr / 9 oz fillo pastry sheets, thawed
1 medium eggplant (aubergine)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 small tomatoes, finely diced
1 bunch or 1/2 cup Italian flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
60 gr / 2 oz shredded mild cheddar or mozzarella
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 egg, beaten and 1 tablespoon olive oil for brushing the boreks
Sesame seeds to decorate the boreks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bowl of water to seal the boreks

Preheat the oven to 180 C / 350 F/ Gas Mark 4

For best results, thaw the frozen filo pastry in the fridge overnight and bring it to the room temperature 2 hours before using. That enables the filo thaw completely. If it is sold fresh as in the UK, you only need to bring the filo to the room temperature 30 minutes before using.

Cook the eggplants (aubergines) on a barbecue grill or over and open gas flame turning occasionally by the stalks until the outer skin is charred and blistered and the inner flesh soft. (Alternatively they can be baked in a hot oven for about 45 minutes). Peel away the burnt skin and discard the stalks. Put the flesh in a colander to drain away any bitter juices. (You can prepare the eggplants this way a day in advance; squeeze lemon juice over to retain its color and keep in the fridge covered). Finely chop the flesh and set aside.

Sauté the onions with some olive oil for a couple of minutes, until soft. Add the tomatoes and cook for another couple of minutes, until most of the liquid is evaporated. Stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper. Once cooled, add the cheese and mix well. Check if more seasoning is needed, set aside to cool.

Place the sheets of filo on a flat surface and cover with a damp dish towel to keep moist.On a dry surface, place 2 fillo pastry sheets on top of one another and cut in half horizontally to form two rectangles. Place 1 tablespoon of the mixture in the middle and roll like a cigar. Then, starting from one end, roll the cigar shape into a rose shape sealing the end with a little water. Make sure you seal all the openings/cracks with a little water. Repeat this with all rectangles.

Mix the egg with the olive oil. Brush the boreks with this mixture and place them on a greased tray. Sprinkle sesame seeds over the boreks and bake them in the oven for about 25 minutes or until golden. 

Serve immediately with a leafy salad or garlic yoghurt by the side.

Afiyet Olsun!
Patlicanli Musakka – Aubergine (Eggplant) Mousakka 
Posted: 06 Oct 2010 03:43 AM PDT

There are several versions of Musakka, featuring our beloved eggplant, patlican, in Turkey. For example in Aegean region we would exclude the béchamel sauce. In some other regions, potatoes, courgettes (zucchini) maybe added on. This is a dish we share with our Greek friends too, and I like mine with a nice creamy béchamel sauce, similar to the Greek version. The joy of this special dish is that you can prepare in advance and give a gentle reheat before serving – and you get to enjoy your company. Once cooked, mousakka freezes successfully too.

This recipe is an adaptation from Ghille Basan’s recipe, one of my favourite cookery authors. And I would like to dedicate this recipe to Eleni and Babis, for many happy years to spend and enjoy good food together :)

Serves 4 – 6
Preparation time: 30 - 40 minutes Cooking time: About 1 hour

4 medium aubergines (eggplants), cut lengthways and sliced crossed ways
Olive oil or sunflower oil for shallow frying
30 ml/2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
500gr/1 ¼ lb ground (minced) lamb
400gr/14 oz can of chopped tomatoes
15 ml/ 1 tbsp tomato paste
10 ml/2 tsp oregano
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

For the béchamel sauce:
2 eggs, beaten
450 ml/2 cups milk
25 ml/1 ½ tbsp butter
45 ml/3tbsp plain (all purpose) flour
225gr/ 8oz grated mozzarella 
2.5ml/1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

Preheat to oven to 200 C/400 F/ Gas 6

Sprinkle salt over the sliced aubergines and leave for about 15-20 minutes. Drain the excess water in aubergines and squeeze dry with paper towel.

Heat some olive or sunflower oil in a frying pan and lightly fry the aubergine slices in batches until light golden (you will need to top up the oil during cooking, as the aubergines absorb it). Drain them on paper towel.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan. Stir the onions and garlic and cook until transparent. Add the ground lamb and cook for 2-3 minutes. Then add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, cook for another 2 minutes. Then season with salt and pepper, mix well.

Layer the aubergines and the ground meat in an ovenproof dish, starting with a layer of aubergines. You can prepare up to this stage a day in advance or ahead of time.

For the sauce; melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the flour to make a roux. Return the pan to the heat and pour in the milk, whisking constantly, until the sauce begins to thicken. 

Beat in the nutmeg, and season with salt and pepper. Stir 30 ml/ 2 tbsp of the hot sauce into the beaten eggs and then pour them into the pan. Add half of the shredded mozzarella cheese and stir, until the sauce is smooth.

Pour the sauce over the top layer of aubergines and sprinkle the remaining cheese over evenly. Place the dish in the preheated oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until the top of the mousakka is nicely browned. You can serve mousakka with salad and plain rice.

Afiyet Olsun!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Steak Dinner Leftovers Stir Fry

We often have a steak dinner on the weekends, and if we have leftovers, I am always looking for ways to use them.  I begin with a sweet onion chopped and saute in a swig of olive oil, just enough to coat the pan and onions.

2 already baked potatoes, cut into bite-size pieces and set aside

From the frig, I added 2 cups of pre cooked broccoli and one zucchini, but into bite size pieces

The potatoes are ready to throw in.  and if you have any tomatoes on hand, cut it up and add it to the pan.  Lightly salt and pepper the ingredients in the stir fry pan

I had some carrots too that I had pre-cooked, so they weren't hard - add them to the pan.  You might have to throw in some more olive oil to keep the ingredients moistened so they really cook and meld with the oil

At the end, I added the other half of my steak, chopped into bite size pieces - cook to heat through.

a nice steak and veggie stir fry for a quick dinner.  You could add rice or noodles to this dish too.

Leftovers stored in an air tight container  in the frig for lunch next week

Easy Side Dish for a Steak Dinner

The steak dinner with a filet, half baked potato and side dish; one sweet onion, chopped; a bunch of asparagus, diced, and one container of sliced mushrooms.

saute onions in a swig of olive oil over a medium heat till they are transparent

Chopped asparagus cooked in the microwave for 2 minutes - still crisp - add to pan after the mushrooms have been cooking with the onions

container of sliced mushrooms; add to pan when the onions reach the transparent look with a little bit more of olive oil just to moisten the pan; after you can see some shrinkage in the mushrooms, add the asparagus and cook till hot.