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Friday, November 29, 2013

Chinese Eggplant with Ground Meat

Delicious Asian dinner in about half an hour
Source: Salu-salo

Taste: 5 (out of 5)
Difficulty: 1 (out of 5)

- 1/2 lb ground turkey
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 1/2 lbs eggplant or Chinese eggplant 1 ½ lbs. Chinese eggplants, ends trimmed and cut on the diagonal into ½-inch slices
- 3 tbsp canola oil
- 8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 1 tbsp water
For the sauce:
- 1 cup chicken stock (or 1 cup of chicken flavored Better than Bullion dissolved in 1 cup of hot water)
- 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp of sambal oelek or sriracha (or up to 2 tbsp for a spicy version)
- 1 tsp sesame oil
Total: 6 servings

1. Trim the eggplants and cut into 1/2 inch slices.
2. Combine the turkey with soy sauce and let stand for 10 minutes.
3. In another bowl, combine all sauce ingredients. Set aside.
4. Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add garlic and cook for 10 to 15 seconds.
5. Add the turkey and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
6. Add the eggplants and the sauce and stir to mix well. Reduced the heat to medium, cover for about 10 minutes or until eggplants are tender.
7. Add cornstarch solution and cook, stirring until sauce thickens. Serve with steamed rice or cauliflower rice.

This is a really delicious simple recipe and it works with any kind of meat: pork, beef, chicken, turkey. Might even work with ground tofu?! ;-)

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Friday, November 22, 2013

Malaysian Fried Noodles - Mee Goreng

Super simple recipe for a quick week day dinner with exotic flavors 
Source: Adopted from Rasa Malaysia blog

Taste: 5 (out of 5)
Difficulty: 1 (out of 5)

- 2 cups of Asian noodles of your choice
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 1 cup shredded cabbage
- 1 cup stir fry vegetable mix
- 1/2 cup corn kernels
- 2 tbsp sweet white wine
- 2 tbsp green onions or chives
For the sauce:
- 1 tbsp Sriracha
- 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp oyster sauce
- 3 tbsp katchup
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp shrimp paste
Total: 3 servings (as main dish)

1. In a medium sized pot bring 3 cups of water to boil, cook the noodles in boiling water for 1/2 - 1 minute, drain and set aside.
2. In a small bowl mix all the sauce ingredients and set aside
3. Preheat a large wok or frying pan over high heat. Add canola oil, let it warm up and add the eggs. Stir the eggs for 20-30 seconds until scrambled.
4. Add the noodles, vegetables, cabbage and corn and continue stirring for 3-5 minutes, until cooked.
5. Add the sauce and stir well until all the vegetables are coated.
6. Add the wine and the shallot, stir and serve.

- This is a really simple and quick recipe, that takes 15-20 minutes from start to finish, and tastes delish.
- You can also add chicken or shrimp. The version here is almost vegetarian, as long as you don't mind the oyster sauce and the shrimp paste.

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Friday, November 15, 2013

Baked Falafel

Delicious falafel with a little twist
Source: Improvised based on this recipe from Epicurious

Taste: 5 (out of 5)
Difficulty: 3 (out of 5) - for scraping the food processor, rolling and refrigeration

- 2 cups dried garbanzo beans / chickpeas
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 1/2 cup parsley
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tsp hot red pepper
- 8 garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 4 tbsp / 1/4 cup flour
- 4 tbsp / 1/4 cup peanut butter
Total: about 40 falafels

1. In a large bowl, soak the dried chickpeas in cold / lukewarm water at room temperature overnight. The water level should be 1-2 inches above the chickpeas, and the bowl should be large enough to have room for the chickpeas to double in volume, as they absorb the water. Drain the chickpeas before continuing, but reserve a little liquid just in case your falafel mix turns out a bit dry.
2. Now you will need a food processor. If your food processor is large enough to accommodate all the ingredients, you can first process the chickpeas with the onion. You want to reach fine grainy consistency (like uncooked chia seeds), but not puree them (that would be hummus). You might want to pulse the food processor several times and scrape the sides of the bowl periodically to get uniform texture. Then add the rest of the ingredients and pulse more.
3. My processor is 9 cups, so I processed the chickpeas in 2 batches: half the chickpeas with all the flour and peanut butter. I processed this batch to an almost-paste consistency, In the second batch I processed the rest of the ingredients until they had a grainy texture. Then I combined the 2 batches and mixed in the baking powder at the very end.
4. Your "batter" should be still grainy but should be sticky enough to hold the shape when rolled into balls. Refrigerate the batter for 2-3 hours.
5. Shape the mix into small balls, approximately the size of a ping pong ball, and arrange on a parchment lined baking sheet. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. You can also freeze the falafels at this stage. Place them on a baking sheet in the freezer for 4 hours or more, and once they are completely frozen, remove them from the sheet into freezer bag and store until needed. If the frozen falafels stick to the baking sheet on which they were frozen, place the sheet on a towel soaked in hot water for several seconds, and it will release the falafels. To prepare the baked falafels, thaw them in the refrigerator overnight, and proceed to the next step.
6. Preheat the oven to 400F and bake the falafels for 10 minutes. Then turn on the broiler to high and broil for 3 more minutes.
7. Remove from the oven and serve with warm pita bread, pickles and tahina.

- I tried several other falafel recipes, but they ended up too dry. Maybe this would not be a big obstacle for deep-fried falafels, because the hot oil would keep the batter together, but if you bake them, they simply fall apart. Hence the addition of the secret ingredient: the peanut butter! It is sticky and helps keep the mix together. And it adds a nice subtle flavor. In most circumstances I am not a fan of peanut butter, but I think that in this recipe it's a great addition.
- Don't over-bake your falafels. They will never look as brown and crisp as the deep fried ones. But that's ok. They will still taste moist and yummy, and since they go inside the pita, you won't really see them that much.
- If you are allergic to peanut butter, try another nut butter instead, like tahini (sesame seed butter), cashew butter, etc.

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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Pecan Pie or Bars

Delicious, crumbly, soft and gooey - all that a pecan pie should be
Source: Adapted from allrecipes

Taste: 5 (out of 5)
Difficulty: 2 (out of 5)

For the crust:
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup margarine
For the filling:
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup corn syrup
- 1/2 unpacked brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tbsp margarine melted
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cups chopped pecans
Total: 16 squares or 1 9 inch pie

1. Grease a 9 inch pie pan or a 10x10 baking dish, if making the bars. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Mix the flour, the sugar and the salt. Add cold margarine or butter and work it into the flour using Pastry Blender
3. Press the dough (with your hands or a small rolling pin) into the baking dish and bake for 20 minutes.
4. In the meantime prepare the filling. Melt the margarine and let cool slightly (it should be tepid, but still liquid).
5. Lightly mix the eggs with corn syrup and brown sugar until the sugar dissolves.
6. Add vanilla extract and margarine and mix well again.
7. Mix in the pecans.
8. When the crust is ready, pour the filling over it and continue cooking for another 35 minutes, until the filling solidifies.
9. Leave the bars in the pan on a wire rack to cool completely. It's better to refrigerate the pie overnight before removing from the pan and slicing.

- The bars taste great, but I would still like to improve this recipe.
- The original recipe calls for more sugar and corn syrup for the filling. I find it to be too much as it is. I might reduce corn syrup to 1/4 or 1/3 cup next time.
- The eggs create a little foam in the filling. I tried to beat them as little as possible, but could not skip the beating completely because I had to dissolve the brown sugar. Maybe next time I should try mixing the sugar with the melted margarine, and once the lumps are dissolved, adding the eggs.
- There were some dryer and wetter patches on the crust. The crust dough was very flaky. Maybe next time I should use a bit more margarine for binding, and bake the crust for 25 minutes,

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