Archive for June, 2010

Shrimp & Artichoke Feta Quesadillas

Posted in Mexican on June 30, 2010 by Cooking For Mark

I know what you are thinking. The words “shrimp” and “vegetarian” don’t really mesh well together. But for a pescetarian it does.  That’s what I am deciding to classify myself as since I can’t really part with seafood yet.

Anyways, these quesadillas are the best. You will need big raw shrimp and good quality uncooked flour tortillas or you will ruin the greatness of it.

Ingredients:

  • Raw Shrimp (the bigger, the better)
  • Uncooked flour tortillas (found in refrigerated section by the cheeses)
  • Feta cheese
  • Pepper Jack cheese
  • Artichokes in a bottle/can
  • Avocado
  • Shrimp Marinade: Cilantro, garlic, lime juice, jalapeno (or green salsa as alternative)
  • Southwest sauce (sour cream, mayo, lime, sauce of canned chipotles)

Directions:

  1. Very simple. Peel and de-vain shrimp. Marinade shrimp in either store-bought green salsa, or make own marinade by blending together cilantro, lime, garlic, jalapeno and a little oil (if you have tequilla, add some!) and marinade for 5-10 minutes
  2. Cook shrimp on hot skillet about 1 1/2 minutes on each side–and be careful to not overcook!
  3. Cook tortillas–do not brown yet. Assemble with pepper jack cheese and feta. Place in microwave for about 30 seconds to melt cheese. Add shrimp and artichoke. Place quesadilla in skillet with butter and brown quesadilla. Serve with avocado and southwest sauce.

You could serve this with tortilla soup, or your typical rice and beans. I made baked creamy rice (cooked white rice, sour cream, green onions, jalapeno, corn, pepper jack, green salsa) and stuffed red pepper with a black bean and corn salsa.

Freshly Baked Bagels

Posted in Breads on June 30, 2010 by Cooking For Mark

This was my second time making bagels; my first time was last week. Mark liked these so much he is already asking me for mini bagels so he can make mini pizzas–he is 25 years old. Kinda cute.

Now you might be asking, why the hell should I make bagels when I can buy them at the store? Yes, you can find them at any store, and yes, they are cheap. That’s why I never bothered. However, the taste is so amazingly different and the recipe is so easy and cheap you will not want to go back to those cardboard-tasting “bagels”.

Dough Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 c. warm water
  • 1 tb dry active yeast
  • 1 tb sugar
  • 1/2 tb honey (optional)
  • 1 tb vegetable or olive oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 1/2 c. bread flour

Boiling Water Ingredients:

  • 1 c. Sugar
  • Water

Instructions:

  1. Combine water and yeast until yeast dissolves, about 5 minutes. Then add rest of ingredients (add flour last). When all ingredients are combined, knead for a few minutes and form into a ball. Lightly oil the dough and cover with a damp towel. Let this rise for an hour or two, or you can let it sit overnight.
  2. Next morning, take the dough and divide in half, then in 4ths, and then in 8ths. Roll the pieces of dough into smooth balls. Break through the middle of the ball with your fingers to make the bagel hole (the hole can be as big as you like– I prefer a smaller hole). Let rest for about 15 minutes and cover with damp towel.
  3. In a big sized pot, place sugar on med heat to carmalize (like if you are making flan). When golden and sticky, add water 2/3rds from the top. This is your caramel water where you will boil you bagels.
  4. When caramel water is almost boiling, add bagels, one at a time. boil bagels for 1 minute on each side, then place on baking sheet.
  5. Top bagels with toppings of choice (sesame seeds, cheese, sugar + cinnamon). You can also add toppings inside the dough, such as blueberries, raisins and cinnamon, chocolate chips, and so on.
  6. Bake bagels on 425 degrees for about 15 minutes.

Voila! Fresh baked bagels!

Orange “Chicken” + Hot & Sour Soup

Posted in Asian with tags , , , , , , , , on June 30, 2010 by Cooking For Mark

This really did taste a bit like chicken! It was perfectly crunchy in the outside, soft in the inside, and the orange sauce was exceptional!

The long ingredient list might seem daunting, but I promise it’s not as hard as it looks. A word of caution: I didn’t really measure ingredients, so if something does not taste right try adding a bit more of this and that until you are satisfied with the taste.

Orange Sauce Ingredients:

  • grated garlic and ginger (about 1 tps each)
  • 1/2 c. water + 1/2 c. veg/chicken stock + 1/2 c. orange juice (plus orange zest, if available)
  • lime zest + 1/2 fresh lime, squeezed
  • 1 tb rice vinegar
  • 2  1/2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 or 1 tbsp chili garlic sauce + 1/2 or 1 tb chili sauce (see pictures in last post
  • 1/2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp corn starch + additional 1 tb of soy sauce & 1tb orange juice (wisk together and set aside)

Orange Sauce Directions:

Heat a bit of oil in skillet (sesame oil preferred, but can use any). Add grated garlic and ginger and cook for 30 seconds. Without letting garlic brown, add liquids and the rest of ingredients (excet corn starch mixture). Bring sauce to a boil. Add cornstarch mixture and wisk for a minute, then reduce heat to low and cook for a few minutes until thick. Remove from heat.

Tofu Ingredients:

  • Extra firm tofu
  • Corn starch
  • egg (whisked)
  • Panko bread crumbs (or regular is fine)

Note: using panko bread crumbs will give you a much crispier tofu. It is worth using!

Tofu Directions:

Heat oil in skillet. Cut tofu in bite size pieces. Create an assembly line with corn starch, egg and bread crumbs. Coat with corn starch, then with egg, and finally with bread crumbs. When you place breaded tofu do not have them touch eachother or the breading will fall apart.

When oil is hot, fry tofu until all sides are brown.  Tofu will fry very quick, so keep a close eye on them.

When ready to serve, combine tofu and orange sauce and top with green onions.

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HOT & SOUR SOUP

Ingredients:

  • Grated garlic and ginger (1 tp each)
  • 3 c. Veg or chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp chili sauce
  • Season: salt, pepper, and a bit of sugar
  • Mushrooms (shitake or any other kind is fine)
  • 1/2 can bamboo shoots (important!)
  • a bit of tofu cut in small pieces (optional)
  • whisked egg
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 2 tb water
  • garnish: cilantro, green onion

Directions:

Combine liquids, garlic, ginger and chili sauce. Season. When hot, add mushrooms bamboo and tofu. When mushrooms are tender, add cornstarch mixture and stir for 1 minute. Take off heat and add wisked egg. Finish with cilantro and green onions.

Getting Started With Asian Cooking

Posted in Asian on June 30, 2010 by Cooking For Mark

I alway thought making asian food was too dificult.  But I will share a little secret with you: once you have the main ingredients, you will be making asian food ALL the time.  Why? It is super easy, fast, cheap and delicious!  And there are so many varieties of foods you can make. Chinese, Thai, Vietnamesse, Indian, Japanesse–you can make it all! First step is to visit your local Asian Market to get your shopping list. DO NOT get these things at your local supermarket or you will get ripped off!

Shopping List:

  • Chili sauce (see picture above)
  • Garlic Chili sauce (see picture below)
  • Fresh ginger
  • Egg roll wrappers (refrigerated section)
  • Wanton Wrappers (refrigerated section)
  • Thai Spring roll wrapper (these are dry–made out of rice)
  • Canned coconut milk and coconut cream
  • Canned bamboo shoots
  • Green Curry (see picture below)
  • Red Curry
  • Brown Jasmin Rice
  • Soy Suce
  • Rice Vinegar
  • Sesame Oil


Spanish Churros & Chocolate

Posted in Dessert with tags , , , on June 30, 2010 by Cooking For Mark

I was telling my little sister the other day that the well known rainy weather in Seattle coupled with our cool and dark apartment is the perfect place to sleep in and cuddle. I love rainy days, and here we get these special days a little bit more often.  I now understand why coffee is so popular in Washington, home to Starbucks coffee. Hot drinks just taste so much better in the cool rain.  Thinking about this kind of weather and hot drinks made me think about breakfast in northern Spain: hot chocolate and churros.

Just like NYC is home to hot dog stands and Mexico to taco stands, Spain is the original home to churro & chocolate stands for a morning breakfast.  Instead of going out for morning bread, as many Europeans do, Spaniards go to the churro street vendors and take home the “calientitos” by the kilo. The churros are often sold in spirals or wheels, which can be broken into edible portions after frying. An important companion to the “calentitos” is a delicious hot and thick dipping chocolate. Most people have had churros before, but the traditional churros are definitively worth trying.

This recipe is extremely easy and fast.  All you need is a piping bag with a star-shaped nozzle and some dark chocolate and you will have “calientitos con chocolate” in no time.

Note: use the big star-shapped nozzle, not the tiny plastic ones or it will not turn out.

Churro Ingredients:

  • 1 c. warm water
  • 6 Tb butter
  • 2 Tb sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 c. flour
  • 2 room temperature eggs

Chocolate Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 c. whole milk (or a combo of low fat milk and evaporated milk)
  • 1 bar dark chocolate
  • 1 Tb corn starch (for thickening)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Sugar, to taste

Churro Directions:

  1. Heat skillet with oil (olive, canola or vegetable). Heat water, butter, sugar, salt and cinnamon to a low boil.
  2. Add flour and stir for a minute until mixture forms a smooth ball. Take off heat and let cool for another minute.
  3. Add 1 egg at a time while stirring (to prevent scrambling of the egg).
  4. Place mixture in piping bag with the star shaped nozzle.

5.  When oil is hot, squeeze churro mixture around the pan in a spiral. Let bottom cook for a few minutes               until brown, then flip over and cook for another 2 minutes. Drain on paper towel and sprinkle a little                 bit of sugar and a tiny bit of cinnamon.

Note: you do not want a lot of sugar and cinnamon ala Mexican  since these will be dipped in chocolate. In fact, the Spanish churros often do not have cinnamon and even some don’t use sugar.

Chocolate Directions:

You want to work simultaneously so that the chocolate and churros are done at the same time.

  1. Heat 2 cups of milk in saucepan with chocolate, adding a few blocks at a time until you get the deep chocolate color.
  2. Once melted, taste and adjust with sugar.
  3. In a separate bowl mix 1/2 c. milk with 1 Tb cornstarch and whisk. Add to chocolate mixture and whisk for a few minutes until thick. Add vanilla.

This recipe makes a lot of churros.  If you don’t want to make them all save the batter! It can be used for many other things like donuts, eclaires and more.

There you have it! Extremely easy and inexpensive Spanish churros! Enjoy!

Veggie Enchiladas

Posted in Mexican with tags , , on June 30, 2010 by Cooking For Mark

This dish was especially made for Mark. I don’t really enjoy cooking or eating Mexican food, probably because it’s all that I grew up with, but Mark LOVES it. I had not made anything Mexican in over a week, and Mark was growing anxious. And even though this dish is all veggie, Mark absolutely enjoyed it. 15 days ago, Mark would get home from work and would proceed to the kitchen with caution. Two weeks later, he once again looks forward to dinnertime! Makes me so happy!

This dish is pretty quick. It should take you 30-45 minutes. I usually don’t like to use pre-made stuff like salsa and beans, but I am not the best at making salsa. Plus, I was in a hurry. But if you want to make a home made green salsa, let me know and I will give you the recipe. Its a little time consuming, but ohh so worth it (and it’s cheaper too)!

I should warn you I usually don’t measure ingredients. So, always adjust to your own taste and tweak as you like.

Grocery List: (4-6 servings)

Filling: (Season with salt, pepper, & cumin)

1 white onion (diced small)

1 clove garlic (grated)

1 zucchini (diced small)

1 pack of button mushrooms (cut in 4Th’s)

1 small can of corn

1/2 can black beans

pepper jack cheese

1/4- 1/3 c. heavy cream

1/2-3/4 c. green enchilada sauce

Other Ingredients:

1 c. rice

2 c. vegetable stock (or chicken stock)

Corn tortillas

Pico (tomato, onion, cilantro, lime, salt, pepper)

sour cream

1 can pinto beans (I used S&W chili beans cooked in a zesty sauce–it has a much better flavor)

Green & red enchilada sauce

1 can of Herdez Salsa Ranchera (found on Mexican section of local grocery store) (Spicy)

Rice Instructions: Heat olive oil on med heat. Add 1/4 of a white onion (diced small) and grate 1 clove garlic. Add 1 c. rice and brown for 2 minutes. Add 2 cups of stock and juice of 1/2 lime. Cover, and let it simmer on med heat for a few minutes, then reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes (not sure about time, so keep an eye on it). When rice is done, chop a handful of cilantro and add to rice. Zest 1 lime and add zest, along with 1/2 of lime juice. For extra flavor I like to add some achiote powder as well (or cayanne). Lastly, season to taste.

Turn oven to 400 degrees. Prepare pico de gallo salsa (chopped tomato, onions (or green onion is good too), cilantro, juice of lime, salt + pepper (optional: avocado).

Filling Instructions: On med heat add olive oil to skillet. Add onions. Let cook for 1 min, then add grated garlic. Add zucchini, and let cook for 2 mins. Add mushrooms and wait another minute. Season with salt, pepper and cumin. Add drained corn and black beans. When all the veggies are heated through, place them in a big bowl. Add heavy cream, a handful of cheese, green sauce, and season a bit more to taste. Set aside.

Tortilla Instructions: Heat skillet on med heat with olive oil. When hot, fry corn tortilla for about 35 seconds on each side. Now you are ready to assemble.

Place filling on a tortilla and place enchilada on baking dish. Finish off with the enchilada sauce and cheese. I did 1/2 of the enchiladas with green sauce and 1/2 with red sauce. Since the enchilada sauce is not spicy, I added some of the Herdez Salsa Ranchera on top of the red enchilada sauce to make it spicy. Place in oven until cheese melts.

While enchiladas are baking heat the can of pinto beans (or chili beans). If you use regular pinto, you can add some of the red enchilada sauce, some cumin, and a little sour cream and it will be delicious.

Plate enchiladas, rice, beans, pico and sour cream. Enjoy! For best taste, serve with a coronita and lime 🙂

Chicken Enchiladas Alternative

If this veggie recipe is not turning you on, you can try an easy chicken alternative. Dice some chicken in tiny pieces. Heat olive oil and add onion and garlic. Add chicken and season; cook until brown. When done, place in large bowl and add green salsa, heavy cream, cheese, salt, pepper, and cumin. That’s it-easy and delicious.

Going Vegan (or Vegetarian)

Posted in Introduction on June 30, 2010 by Cooking For Mark

Earlier this month I decided to become a vegan. Shocked? So was Mark. It all started on a Monday morning when Mark had to go to the office downtown for a couple of hours, so I decided to go with him so we could go to Pike Place Market afterwards. Since I had a couple of hours I went to Barns & Noble to pick up the sequal to The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo. As I passed the Best Seller section an odd book caught my attention:Skinny Bitches. Reading the title made me laugh so I picked it up and browsed. Right away I noticed something that drew my attention. I didn’t notice it was a book promoting veganism, but rather, I noticed there was a heavy amount of cussing–I liked it. Before I knew it I had read the entire book and had simultaneously made my decision to leave my meat-eating past behind. When Mark picked me up, I excitedly told him of the exciting news. He was not too happy. Actually, I’m pretty sure he was a bit scared.

When I got home a few hours later I went to http://www.goveg.com and forced myself to watch those horrible videos. I will never eat meat again. Milk, eggs, and cheese, on the other hand, I cannot live without, yet. So, veganism will have to wait.

Although most recipes I make will be vegetarian (with the exception of some seafood recipes), I will post alternatives for those of you who want to add a little cruel protein in your dish 🙂