August 19, 2015

orange tomatoes

I found some interesting orange tomato variety at the grocery recently. They had good flavor so I used them to make a couple of light weekday meals.

Inspired by caprese salad, one of my favorites, I sliced the tomato thinly, arranged and layered them on a plate along with thinly sliced mozzarella cheese, then sprinkled them with salt, pepper and some creamy lemon vinaigrette (shown below). Balsamic vinaigrette will be just as good.

One of the biggest salads I made this summer, this was a combination of mixed baby greens, broccoli, cauliflower, avocado, julienned carrots, tomatoes, a colorful mix of green, red, yellow and orange sweet peppers, hard-boiled eggs and fresh mushroom slices. Red onions, red radishes and alfafa sprouts may also be added. Very healthy and crunchy :-) Serve with some homemade dressing.

refreshing, colorful and crunchy summer salad

August 16, 2015

baked cinnamon cake donuts

Baked instead of deep-fried, these donuts turned out light, moist and full of cinnamon flavor! My husband actually prefers cake donuts more than the other yeast-raised variety. I'm glad he bought this pan so we could try it :-)

The non-stick donut pan worked quite well and produced such perfectly shaped treats. I still sprayed each ring mold with baking spray just to make sure they would not stick. They all slid out of the mold easily. Brushing them with oil or melted butter and coating them evenly with flour using a small fine sieve will do the trick as well.

I just love the donut pan :-) It was fun to make donuts the healthier way with absolutely no messy oil to deal with. The shelf life was much better than those that were deep-fried which tend to dry up fast. Any muffin recipe will translate well. I used a simple recipe for Doughnut Muffins that I found long ago. There's a recipe for Pumpkin Donuts at the King Arthur Flour website that I also would like to try next time.

For the recipe...

August 5, 2015

more jams

Here's another batch of reduced sugar jam I made this summer. I enjoyed my jam making project using the Ball FreshTech jam and jelly maker that I featured on a previous post.

plump and juicy summer blueberries

One thing that made me very happy was seeing that the bright colors of the fruits were retained in the cooking process.

sweet and juicy peaches were just perfect for the jam

love the taste and color of this peach jam 

Enjoy the summer!

August 2, 2015

chimichurri sauce

A popular condiment in South America particularly in Argentina, the bright green color of this chimichurri mixture, shown above, makes an attractive and flavorful topping for roasted and grilled meat. It also worked quite well for my pan-fried salmon (shown below). It may also be used as a marinade or dip. I had some fresh prawns that I butterflied and stuffed with the chimichurri then baked. It turned out quite tasty too.

pan-fried salmon topped with chimichurri

In a food processor or blender, grind together a mixture of chopped parsley, garlic (use roasted garlic for milder flavor), a pinch of red pepper flakes, red wine vinegar, lemon juice (optional), olive oil, salt and pepper. Gradually add more olive oil if mixture is too dry. The sauce keeps well in the refrigerator for a few days.

roasted pork tenderloin with chimichurri

July 24, 2015


I think my fascination for these traditional shell-shaped French tea cakes must have started with the pan :-) I've never had madeleines before and I've always wondered about their taste and texture. Thanks to the many recipes and information I found online, my first madeleine baking session turned out well.

The distinctive hump of the madeleine (shown above) that's supposed to appear in these petite cakes, slowly rose and formed as the madeleines baked in the oven.

The underside, as shown above, with the characteristic shell design became nice and golden brown. Sprinkle them with powdered sugar before serving.

The batter is a basic sponge cake mixture or genoise which may be enhanced with different flavors. I found the first recipe I tried on youtube from the Culinary Institute of America baking videos. I ran out of butter so I searched and found a recipe using canola oil instead. These madeleines turned out soft and light but still just basic in flavor. I have to try another recipe with butter next time which I found on the Joy of Baking website.

the madeleine pan that started it all :-)
I found the recipe and video for these Lemon-Grand Marnier Madeleines on youtube demonstrated by a chef from the Culinary Institute of America.

July 21, 2015

vegetables for pinakbet

It's not often that we're able to stop by a bigger Asian grocery and produce market so when there's an opportunity, we rarely miss it. I like to browse the merchandise along the aisles. There are so many interesting items and I always enjoy my time there. Fresh Asian vegetables are also available and buying some of my favorites has always been a special treat for me. In Manila, these vegetables are very common at the local market.

This unique mix of vegetables was exactly what I needed to make a Filipino dish called pinakbet. It's a popular vegetable dish in the Northern Philippines particularly the Ilocos region. There are many variations using different eggplant varieties and other vegetables. One of the key ingredients used to season this dish is bagoong, a type of salty paste made with shrimp or fish. I had to replace it with patis (fish sauce) so my husband will have no problem with the pinakbet (he's very allergic to shrimp).

It has crossed my mind many times that pinakbet, shown above and below, may be the Filipino version of ratatouille, a French vegetable stew that also uses a variety of vegetables.

I also bought a bunch of garlic chives, sold cheaper at this Asian market than at regular grocery stores. A good amount went into these Asian potstickers, shown below. I made them many times before without the chives, even if the recipe required it. They were not just expensive at the grocery but they were hard to find sometimes. The chives definitely added more authentic flavors to the dumplings.

Asian potstickers with garlic chives

our complete meal ~ pinakbet and Asian potstickers
served with steamed rice
For the recipe,

July 19, 2015

jam & jelly maker

With strawberries still at their prime this summer, it was time to finally test this new gadget. It was a project that has been on hold for awhile now since my husband gave me this Ball Jam and Jelly Maker last Christmas. We were surprised how big the actual pot was when we unboxed it upon receiving it. It comes with a stirring paddle attached in the middle which starts as soon as the jam or jelly button is pressed.

I have to say, this gadget will surely please any avid jam & jelly maker and seller out there. Jams & jellies always make great gifts for the holiday season, so this is a handy gadget for such projects. It was very easy to use with simple instructions.

fresh strawberries all washed & ready for the test
Wash and drain the strawberries. Hull them and carefully crush with a potato masher. For jam, I prefer the berries chunkier than totally pureed. Measure the fruit and set aside. The enclosed recipe has two options, traditional or reduced sugar. We chose reduced sugar that required more fruit. Add the pectin into the pot followed by the fruit. Press the jam button to activate the stirrer and the timer. Wait for the beep before adding the sugar. It will automatically stop when the jam is done. Proceed with the canning process next. Otherwise, the jam may just be refrigerated or enjoyed immediately while still warm.

The jam making process shown above (1) Ball Real Fruit classic pectin and a set of lids (2) strawberry huller gadget worked well and made the job easier (3) strawberries crushed with a potato masher (4) the crushed strawberries in the jam maker (5) adding the sugar after the beep (6) a sample of the strawberry jam (7) tasty with gluten-free scones (8) strawberry jam preserved in jars.