Mom’s Black Olive Salsa

It’s the Saturday before the Halloween, we have made some party plans for the evening, but there’s nothing going on in the afternoon. We thought it’d be perfect if we keep it low-key and just invite a couple of neighbors over and watch some college football. We bought some delicious seasonal pumpkin beer the day before, all we needed is a little snack for people to munch on during the game. Chris’s mom has this amazing recipe for black olive salsa, it looks simple, but it has the perfect amount of crunch and saltiness to go with the chips; it’s packed with flavors, and it’s pretty on the eyes, too! This is the perfect occasion for us to recreate this salsa to impress our neighbors!

Mom’s Black Olive Salsa

Serves: 8 / Prep & Cook Time: about 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 6 to 8 Roma tomatoes
  • 1 red onion
  • 3 tb of cilantro
  • ½ head of garlic (5 or 6 garlic cloves)
  • 1 can (6 or 7 ounces) of black olives
  • ¼ cup of olives oil
  • 1 small jar of (hot, medium or mild based on your preference) Picante sauce
  • pinch of garlic powder
  • salt (coarse if available) and pepper

Directions:

Dice the tomatoes, removing seeds where possible (it’s not necessary to remove all of the seeds), and place in a large bowl.  Next, finely dice the red onion and cilantro, then add to the tomatoes. Chop the garlic into small chucks and add to the bowl. At this point, pour the olive oil over the mix and lightly salt with ground coarse salt and add a pinch of garlic powder.

While this bowl of deliciousness marries, drain the black olives, chop and add. Pour in the Picante sauce and mix everything together, salt and pepper to taste.

We prefer to cover and cool in the refrigerator for maybe 20 minutes or so before serving.  Serve with tortilla chips of choice.

Baked Stuffed Jalapeño Peppers

The first time we discovered these stuffed peppers was at a friend’s house party. Among all of her amazing homemade hors d’oeuvres, it was these bacon wrapped stuffed jalapeño peppers that were the biggest hit. I mean, spicy jalapeño with salty bacon, and creamy filling? THAT is an amazing combo. I was angry that I didn’t come up with the idea first. These stuffed jalapeños were so delicious but the spiciness creeps up on you. My mouth was on fire but I just couldn’t stop eat them. It didn’t take us too long to recreate this spicy delight. We tweaked the recipe and made our own version and here’s how we made it:

Bake Stuffed Jalapeño Pepper 

Serves: 4 / prep & cook Time: about 30 min

Ingredients:

  • 12 jalapeño peppers
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese (gouda cheese works well, too)
  • sprinkles of onion powder (optional)
  • 4-5 slices of prosciutto, cut into bite-size pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions: 

Cut peppers in half lengthwise; remove seeds (reserve the seeds if you like your peppers spicy!). Cook the peppers in building water for 5 minutes, if you like it spicy, or cook for 10 minutes for a milder version. Drain well and let it cool.

Boiling the peppers!

Combine the cream cheese, parmesan cheese (or cheese of your choice), onion powder if you’re using it, and the reserved jalapeño seeds if you really want to turn up the heat. Fill the pepper with the cheese mixture and sprinkle the prosciutto bits on the top.

Place the peppers on a lined baking sheet and bake in 400F for 5 to 10 minutes, and broil until the prosciutto turn brown and crisp. 

We didn’t share with anyone this time, we ate them all! But these serve well as party food. It’s definitely a crowd pleaser and easy to make ahead of time. Enjoy!

Barbecue Pulled Pork Slider

The first time we made these delicious barbecue pulled pork sliders was at a western-themed cowboy party we threw for our neighbors. It requires quite a lot of work, but the finished product is really finger-licking good and well worth the effort. Today, we made some Kwas’Ne Polish Soup and have some of those flavor-infused slow-cooked pork reserved on the side… it’s a no brainer, we are making pulled pork sliders.

Barbecue Pulled Pork Sliders

Serves: varies (see notes below) / Prep-tme: 45 min

Ingredients

For the Barbecue Sauce: (this makes about 4 cups of sauce)

  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup bourbon whiskey
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • hot pepper sauce to taste (optional)

For the Slider: (we are only preparing for two this time)

  • 4 Small buns for dinner rolls
  • about 2 cups of slow-cooked pull pork
  • toppings such as sliced onions and pickles

Directions:

Combine the onion, garlic, and whiskey in a medium sauce pan over medium heat, simmer until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Mix in the ground black pepper, salt, ketchup, tomato paste, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce brown sugar, and hot sauce (if you’re using it).

Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes. We blended the sauce with a handheld blender for a smoother consistency. You can also run the sauce through a strainer to achieve the same texture, or just leave it as is. This recipe makes a big batch of sauce.

Scoop the sauce over the pulled pork and mix until all of the pork is coated evenly. Layer the pulled pork, onion, and pickles on the dinner rolls, and you have your homemade barbecue pulled pork sliders!

Kwas ‘Ne Polish Soup

It is a cold and rainy Saturday and some friends are planning to stop by later for a glass of wine.  What better reason than to make a large pot of mom’s Polish Kwas ‘Ne (pronounced VASH-nuh, at least in our household).  Although we’ve never come across this recipe in cookbooks or even online, it’s been in the family for years (note to our readers: you might’ve figured out that one of us is Taiwanese; the other has strong Polish roots and grew up eating this soup).

Some have referred to this recipe as “sweet and sour soup”, and my five year old niece calls it “pickled soup” (most likely from the vinegar added at the end).  Whatever you call it, this makes for a fantastic and hearty meal that is always a hit with first-timers, and reheats well even after being frozen (so freeze whatever you don’t eat!).

Kwas ‘Ne Polish Soup

Serves 10 / Prep & Cook Time: about 4 hours

Ingredients:

  • peppercorns
  • 1 large brown onion
  • 1 pork shoulder or other ham bone (about three to four pounds)
  • 1 five-pound bag of brown potatoes
  • 6 eggs
  • ¼ cup of vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Cut a two inch by two inch piece of cheesecloth, fill it with peppercorns and coarse salt and, using excess threat from the cheesecloth, tie into a ball.  Throw this into a large pot of salted water. Dice the large onion and add to pot along with the pork shoulder or other ham bone.  Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for at least three and a half hours.

 While the spices, onions and pork simmer (and create a heavenly smell in your kitchen), peel the potatoes, cut them into eighths and then store in a bowl of cold water.

After about three and a half hours or so, test the pork with a fork to see if it’ll fall of the bone with little resistance.  If so, remove the entire pork shoulder from the broth and place on a cutting board.  At this point, drain the potatoes from the cold water, add to the broth, bring to a boil and then simmer.

Clean the pork off of the bone and remove the fat, then shred into manageable pieces and salt.  Once the potatoes are cooked through (about the time you are finished preparing the meat), add about half of the now shredded and salted pork into the pot (the other half can be used for anything else you desire including pulled pork sliders, spicy pork tacos, a filling for an omelet, etc.).

With the onions, potatoes and pork now waltzing together in the broth, bring to a full boil once again.  At boil, crack and beat six eggs into the soup and then reduce heat.

Cracking in the eggs.

Add salt and the vinegar and you are ready to serve!

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!

Tuna Tartar with Avocado

Today was hot and humid outside, one of those summer days where I just didn’t have an appetite for anything. I walked into the neighborhood fish market to look for inspiration for dinner as seafood always seems lighter and it seemed to suit the weather perfectly.  It didn’t take me too long before I set my eyes on this big block of tuna sitting on a pile of crushed ice…. clear, translucent pink sushi graded tuna, there was no way I was turing that down.  We love raw tuna, and we do make some five-star-world-class seared tuna…(I’m not bragging, I’m just telling the truth!!)… but today, it’s simply too hot and I don’t want to mess with anything involving heat. I think we’re going to keep it all raw and make some tuna tartar with avocado, because avocado is awesome, and it goes well with tuna! Now THAT’s my answer for dinner!!

Tuna Tartar with Avocado

Serves 2 / Prep time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb sushi grade tuna steak
  • 1 ripe Hass avocado
  • 1/4 cup scallions, minced (use both white and green parts)
  • 1 lime (or 2 tb lime juice)
  • 1/2 TB soy sauce
  • 1 tsp hot sauce
  • 1 tsp salt and pepper each
  • toasted sesame seeds (optional)
  • rice cracker (optional)

Instructions:

Cut the tuna into 1/4 inch (or smaller) cubes and put aside. In a large bowl, mix together the scallions, line juice, soy sauce, hot sauce, and salt and pepper. Pour the mixture over the tuna and let it sit for a few minutes. White waiting for the flavors to blend in with the tuna, peel the avocado and remove the seed. Dice it into 1/4 inch dices, or lightly mash it with a fork. Carefully fold the avocado into the tuna mixture, sprinkle with some sesame seeds or some extra scallions for garnish. Arrange the rice crackers on the side right before serving so the crackers don’t become soggy.

This has been a very popular appetizer in many fine dinning restaurants. Who would know this sophisticated dish is so easy to make. The portion here is suggested as an appetizer for two people, but I could devour this whole thing without sharing, no problem at all.  This is also a easy dish to make at parties to impress your guests. Make it ahead and let it sit for a couple hours.  The flavor stays very well with time, just make sure to keep it cool to maintain the freshness. Enjoy!!

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