Category Archives: Dinner

New Year with New Recipe — Garlicky Shrimp Scampi

Featured Image -- 274

Happy New Year!! After a whirlwind of traveling and meetings during the holiday season, my schedule is finally calming down for once; it is finally allowing me to sit down to write again after a long hiatus on the blog…. I can’t be happier, this is all I want to do during this chill weekend at the ranch.

Because of all the traveling, I didn’t get to exchange presents with Chris till New Year’s Eve, and guess what I got as one of my presents – cookbooks with 365 Recipes for Every Day of the Year!! I love to cook, so I’m very excited about the gift, but how brilliant of him to give me cookbooks? I’d say it’s more of a gift that “keeps on giving” for himself than a gift to me….. well played, I say, well played!

FullSizeRender

The cookbooks are “Salad of the Day” and “One Pot of the Day” from Williams Sonoma, they are really awesome in the sense that all the recipes are mapped out according to the seasons, so you get to use to the proper ingredients that are actually in season, and they are all fairly easy and straightforward. Most importantly, they are all practical enough for modern day busy women like me!

Surprised and not surprised, he already picked out recipes that he wants me to make for New Year’s Day – Garlicky Shrimp Scampi. It is a recipe for May, but since we happen to have some fresh shrimp from the market, I decided to give it a go. This is a recipe for 4 people, but we didn’t find any problem finishing the dish with just the two of us…

Garlicky Shrimp Scampi

Ingredients

IMG_2970

1 ½ lb (about 24-28) jumbo shrimp, deveined and peeled with the tails intact

½ cup all-purpose flour

½ tsp Salt

¼ tsp freshly ground pepper

2 Tbsp olive oil

12 Tbsp unsalted butter (I only used about 8 tb)

3 cloves garlic (we like garlic, so I doubled it and used 6)

¼ cup dry white wine

grated zest of 1 lemon

2 Tbsp of lemon juice

2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Lemon wedges for garnish (optional)

Direction

1). In a shallow bowl, stir together the flour, salt and pepper. Toss the shrimp in the flour mixture to coat evenly, shaking off the excess.

IMG_2982

IMG_2980

2). In a large frying pan, heat the 2 Tbsp oil over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp to pan and cook, turning occasionally till opaque throughout, about 3 minute. Transfer to a plate and tent with foil to keep it warm on the side.

IMG_29873). Reduce the heat to medium-low, add 2 Tbsp of the butter and the garlic to cook, stirring frequently until the garlic softens and is fragrant but not browned, about 2 minutes. Add the wine, lemon zest and juice and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until reduced by half, about 1 minute.

IMG_2988

4). Reduce the heat to very low, whisk in the remaining butter, I Tbsp at a time, letting each addition soften into a creamy emulsion before adding more.

5). Return the shrimp to the sauce and mix gently to coat well. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve.

IMG_2993

Shrimp Scampi is often served over pasta, which makes a very hearty and comforting dish. We didn’t bother to make pasta; we simply served it as it is with some freshly based French baguette – nothing beats tearing apart that crusty bread with the steam still coming out from the soft center and dipping it into the garlicky butter sauce – ahh, need I say more? Pair the dish with a bottle of crisp white wine to cut the grease, it is amazing how simple flavors can bring such high satisfaction!

The amount of butter in this recipe can be a little bit overwhelming for those who want to maintain a healthier lifestyle. To make a lighter version of the dish, use 2 Tbsp to cook the garlic till fragrant, add about 2 Tbsp of flour to the pan and stir constantly till it forms a smooth uniform paste (the so-called white roux). Slowly add the wine, lemon zest and juice and stir constantly to avoid lumpy texture. Instead of another 6-10 Tbsp of butter, use chicken stock instead to finish the following steps. The end product (obviously) won’t be as buttery as the original scampi, but flavors holds up pretty well, and it contains a lot less guilt! Scallop are good with this sauce too, if you want to change things up a little.

We love this recipe, it’s easy enough to make at home after a workday, and it’s a good dish to impress the guests, too, if you like to host dinner parties! I give it a two-thumbs up, what a good way to kick off a new year!! Just got one recipe down from my new cookbooks… 364 recipes to go…. What are we making next?…

Cheers,

Alicia

IMG_2997

Happy New Year!!  After a whirlwind of traveling and meetings during the holiday season, my schedule is finally calming down for once and allowing me to sit down to write again after a long hiatus on the blog…. I can’t be happier, this is all I want to do during this chill weekend at the country house.

Because of all the traveling, I didn’t get to exchange presents with my man till New Year’s Eve, and guess what I got as one of my presents – cookbooks with 365 Recipes for Every Day of the Year!! I love to cook, so I’m very excited about the gift, but how brilliant of him to give me cookbooks? I’d say it’s more of a gift that “keeps on giving” for himself than a gift to me….. well played, I say, well played!

FullSizeRender

The cookbooks are “Salad of the Day” and “One Pot…

View original post 689 more words

Rack of Lamb for Dad

My father was a commercial airline pilot and in the latter years of his career, he routinely flew from his base of operations in Los Angeles (an hour north of where we lived) to Sydney, Australia, and then to Auckland, New Zealand before heading home. Often, my dad would return from these long trips with a white Styrofoam iced cooler under his arm containing a fresh rack of lamb that he purchased in New Zealand immediately prior to boarding the plane. My mom would prepare the lamb for that evening’s dinner, and I remember vividly the whole family eating in virtual silence and awe, mesmerized by the combination of this fresh lamb and my mom’s consistant ability to cook it perfectly. Mom has always been a remarkable cook, but there was something special about this dish.

The date of this post is 18 years ago to the day of my fathers passing, so in his honor, we have decided to feast on a rack of lamb. 

Rack of Lamb for Dad

Serves: 2 / prep & cook time: 90 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 rack of lamb (seven or eight cutlets)
  • 2 sprigs (about 2 tbs) of fresh rosemary
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • sprinkles of red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper

Fresh rack of lamb.

And fresh ingredients!

Directions:

Rub the rack of lamb with a thin coat of olive oil and place in an oven dish fatty side up. Chop the garlic into coarse chunks and let marinate in a prep bowl holding the remaining olive oil. Strip the rosemary from the stems and finely dice. Next, sprinkle the rosemary over both sides of the rack of lamb along with the oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Finally, lightly spoon the olive oil and chopped garlic mixture over the lamb covering as much of the rack as you can with garlic without drowning it in oil. Let sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Seasoned and ready for the oven.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place the cooking dish containing the rack in the oven’s center and let cook for 15 to 20 minutes for rare to medium rare temperature (our preference, longer if you prefer more cooked). Remove from the oven, place on a cutting board and cut individual cutlets. Plate and serve!

Done!

Chinese Dumpling Soup

Remember the delicious Homemade Chinese Dumplings we made!? We were so excited about our final product that we cooked them TWO separate ways in one meal. First, we pan-fried the dumplings to make delicious pot-stickers. And second, rather than boiling them and eating them straight, we cooked them in a home-made broth and made a dumpling soup. The  crisp Fall weather is here so it’s about the right time to for some soup dishes. Don’t underestimate this clear broth base, the ginger in this soup brings an additional layer of warming sensations and it is unexpectedly flavorful and comforting. And believe it or not, it’s probably pretty good for you too!

Chinese Dumpling Soup

Serves 2 / prep and cook time: 20 min

Ingredients:

  • 12 Chinese dumplings (frozen ones will work, too!)
  • 4 cups chicken or mushroom broth
  • 1 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into match sticks
  • 3 spring onions, cut into 2-inches pieces, both white and green parts
  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, cut into thin strips (We used a mixture of fresh and dried shiitake mushrooms)
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tb Chinese cooking wine or sake
  • 1 tb white wine vinegar (or Chinese dark vinegar if you have it)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • pinch of salt

Instructions:

Put the chicken broth, ginger, mushroom, soy sauce, cooking wine, vinegar and sesame oil into a soup pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the spring onions and adjust the heat so the broth simmers, about 10 to 15 minutes. Slowly add the dumplings into the broth, give a little stir so the dumplings don’t stick together. Cook for about 3 minutes. When the dumplings float up to the surface, cook for another 6 minutes. They are done when the skin in translucent. Divide among warm bowls and serve.

We made 6 dumpling per serving as a side dish but you’re more than welcome to add more dumplings and turn it into a main dish. We also were running low on vegetables when we made it, but this broth goes well with almost all vegetables, such as napa cabbage, broccoli, spinach, snow peas…. you name it. Throw in some greens right before you drop in the dumplings, it’ll only make the soup healthier, and of course, better tasting!!!

Homemade Chinese Dumplings And Potstickers

Just another beautiful Sunday afternoon and we are sitting in the apartment with nothing planned… such a luxury to have some relaxing time like this after a busy week of work. We randomly watched a video clip my mother sent me, a video introducing traditional Chinese food and the making of some famous dishes. As we watch them make all the doughy delicacies with all different kinds of fillings, we started to crave something similar. We want to make some dough, too!! We didn’t even finish the clip before we decided to take the challenge and make some Chinese dumplings for dinner, from scratch!

I remember making dumplings with my aunties and grandma in Taiwan when I was still a little kid. The adults would prepare the meat filling and dough wrappers and I would help filling, pinching and, of course, eating! It was easy, fun, and satisfying!

Well, nobody is around to prepare the fillings and wrappers for me but I crave for that old experience, so I am stepping up to recreate this fun and delicious recipe. Base on some memories and some research, this is our Eat.F.G. recipe.

Chinese Pork Dumplings

Makes about 40 dumplings / prep: about an hour, cook time: 10 min

Ingredients:

For the dumpling wrappers:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup cold water
  • pinch of salt

For the filling:

  • 1 lb ground pork (pork is what they use for traditional chinese dumplings, and we like to honor that!)
  • 1/4 head (about 1 pound) of  cabbage
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 green onions, minced (both white and green parts)
  • 1 tb fresh ginger root, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 3 tb soy sauce
  • 1 tb Chinese rice wine or sake
  • 1 tb toasted sesame oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the dipping sauce:

  • 3 tb soy sauce
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar ( or Chinese black vinegar if you can find it)
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced (optional)
  • 2 tsp hot chili oil (optional, but have I mentioned that we like it spicy?!)

Instructions:

To make the dumpling wrappers: put the flour in a mixing bowl, add 1/2 cup of water and a pinch of salt into the flour. Slowly mix it with your hands, add the remaining water if it gets too dry. Knead the mixture until it forms a soft dough, place the dough on a lightly floured counter and knead nut ill smooth. Set the dough on the side and let it stand for 10 minutes, (perfect time to prep the filling here). Roll the dough into a long baton-like roll and cut it into 40 small pieces. Use a rolling pin to roll each piece to a thin circle, about 3 to 4 inches in diameter.

Flour + Water, pre-kneading!

Roll the dough into a baton-like roll, and cut into small pieces

Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into small circles

To make the filling: finely chop the cabbage into very small pieces, sprinkle the 1 tsp salt and mix well to dehydrate the cabbage. Give it a few minutes and then squeeze out the excess water (it should look like the picture below). Combine the cabbage with ground pork, green onion and the rest of the seasoning and mix well.

Fresh cabbage, finely chopped and squeezed!!

Filling with all ingredients mixed in.

To make the dumplings: get a small dish with water. Place about a tablespoonful of filling in the center of a dough circle. Dip your finger in the water and moist the edge of the dough, fold the circle in half, and use index finger and thumb to pinch the edges of the dough on one side of the dumpling into “pleats”, pressing each pleat against the flat side of the dough to seal the dumpling as you go. I usually start from the center to the corner and make about 3 pleats on each side, but any direction would work. Firmly pressed the pleaded side of the of the wrapper against the flat side and make sure the dumpling is completely sealed (we don’t want the dumpling to burst open or have any leakage during cooking). Line up the finished dumplings on a floured surface to prevent them from sticking together.

There are so many ways to cook the dumplings. Most of the time they are either steamed, boiled or  pan fried. Pan fried dumplings are also known as pot stickers, it is definitely the most popular kind. Tonight, we are having dumplings, TWO ways!! For the first kind, we’ve decided to make some pot stickers, and for the second kind, instead of boiling the dumplings in plain water, we are making some Chinese Dumpling Soup as we like to take things to the next level!

To make the pot stickers, drizzle about 1 tb oil in a pan and heat it up. Place the desired amount of dumplings flat-side-down in the pan, turn the heat low and fry the dumplings for about a minute, or until golden brown. Add 1/2 a cup of hot water and cover, let it steam for about 6 minutes or until all water has evaporated. Remove the dumplings, now pot stickers, serve hot with dipping sauce!

Dumplings sitting flat-side-down in the hot pan!

I know it looks very complicated with the long lists of ingredients and instructions, but it really is not hard. The first few dumplings we made looked a bit funny, but they soon started to look better and almost professional as we got into the rhythm.  I must say it is VERY rewarding when we finished and had a whole army of fresh dumplings lined up in front of us.  All we needed to do was to decide which way to cook them so we could eat them all up. The dumplings store very well too if you’er not planning on eating all of them immediately. Just separate the dumplings with wax paper so they don’t stick together in the container and tuck it in the freezer. The dumplings should store up to a month or so.

That’s the project of our Sunday, and I’m pretty proud of our end product. And I am also very happy to announce that after all these years, the experience of making dumpling remains the same: it’s easy, fun and very satisfying!

Mediterranean Roasted Fish with Potato

Exactly a year ago from today, we took some time off for a sailing trip in Croatia. During our one week vacation, we sailed around the Dalmatian Coast.  Once we settled into our island of the day, we would explore the area to find the best restaurant in town and reward ourselves with a local feast. Usually we’d find a seaside restaurant, watching the sunset while sipping some local wine, and then following up with a hearty dinner.  Seriously, life can’t get any better from there. We didn’t have a bad meal throughout he whole trip, but some were definitely better than others which we will never forget. Besides the more common staples such as steak and lamb dishes, the fish dishes are definitely to die for. In Croatia, almost all the fish were served whole, as in from head to tail. Some restaurants even bring over a tray of fish for you to choose from.

Whole fish on the plate in Croatia!

If you don’t mind deboning the fish (I grew up in Taiwan eating fish like that, deboning a fish is almost second nature to me, no big deal at all!), these are the dishes that you don’t want to miss. There is this particular dish we had on an island called Hvar, a whole fish baked in herbs with sliced potatoes. With just a few simple ingredients, this fish is so unexpectedly light but flavorful… here’s the picture of it:
When we got back from Croatia, we could not stop think about that dinner. We’d sail back to the town of Hvar to order this dish again, but in reality, recreating something similar in the kitchen would be the fastest way to have a little taste of Croatia again.
Mediterranean Roast Fish with Potatoes 
Serves 2-3 (depending on the size of the fish) / Prep-time: 45 min
Ingredients:
  • 1 big red snapper ( I think the one we got was about 2 and a half pound)
  • 3 or 4 small potatoes (thinly sliced)
  • 1 leeks (thinly sliced)
  • olive oil
  • garlic (minced)
  • fresh parsley (chopped)
  • capers
  • lemon
  • dry white wine
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

Pre-heat oven 375F
Rub the fish with olive oil. Combine garlic, parsley, capers, wine and lemon juice, and pour the mixture over the fish. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour yourself  a glass of wine and take a sip, we’re recreating the Croatian lifestyle here. Mix the sliced potatoes and leeks, season it with olive oil, parsley, salt and pepper. In a baking dish, arrange the potato-leek around the fish. Bake for 20-30 min or until done.

Ready to put in the oven.

You’ll have to debone it at the table before eating, if you don’t know how, you might have to invite a Chinese guest to share the dish and help you with that!!

%d bloggers like this: