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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tofu Balls with Cabbage

Healthy, vegan, gluten-free, low-calorie and yummy :-)
Adapted from the Food Obsessed blog

Taste 4 (out of 5)

2 (out of 5)


- 350 g extra firm tofu (400 cal)
- 1/4 cup parsley or cilantro, finely chopped
- 2 cabbage leaves, finely shredded (10 cal)
- 2 medium sized carrots, finely shredded (40 cal)
- 1 garlic clove, crushed (5 cal)
- 2 tbsp garlic chives, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup quinoa cooked (155 cal)
- 2 tbsp soy sauce (20 cal)
- 1/3 cup tahini (390cal)
- 3 tbsp tamarind sauce (70 cal)
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/4 tsp chili paste (sambal oelek)
- 1/4 cup cornmeal (110 cal)
Total 15 tofu balls, 1200 cal, 80 cal / ball


1. In a food processor, grind the tofu until its texture resembles that of breadcrumbs.
2. Pour the cornmeal onto a dry clean plate and set aside.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients to the food processor and pulse several times until mixed well.
4. Scoop large balls with an ice-cream scoop and roll in the cornmeal to coat the balls. Place the balls on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 400F for 15 minutes.


- Very nice, crumbly and light balls, somewhat resemble falafel, probably because of the tahini :-).
- These balls are great with some yogurt sauce. Sonia used a mint flavored sauce, I had a lot of cucumbers, so I added those as well.

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Edamame Corn Salad

A super easy, super healthy, super satisfying salad for the Secret Recipe Club
Source Savoring the Thyme blog

Taste: 5 (out of 5)

1 (out of 5)


- 1 cup shelled edamame, fresh or frozen, cooked and cooled (255 cal)
- 1 cup corn, either fresh or frozen, thawed (155 cal)
- 2 tomatoes or kumato (variety of tomato), chopped (40 cal)
- 1 scallion (green onion), chopped
- 2 tbsp parsley or any of your favorite herb, minced
- 1 tsp olive oil or vegetable (40 cal)
- 1 tbsp rice wine or red wine vinegar (10 cal)
- salt and pepper to taste
Total: 2 servings, 500 cal, 250 cal / serving

1. Cook or thaw the edamame if necessary. Drain and let cool.
2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl with gentle mixing.


- This is a perfect recipe for someone who loves edamame and corn, like I do. The salad is ready in no time, it is very substantial, can be a meal in itself, it’s delicious, and yet healthy. And it has all the colors of the traffic light ;-). What else can you ask from a dish.
- Last month I saw a link to the Secret Recipe Club on several blogs I follow. The club is hosted by Amanda, who had this brilliant idea of assigning each one of the participants a blog, from which you are free to choose any recipe to make. For May I was assigned Savoring the Thyme blog, which has a lot of wonderful recipes and beautiful photos. It was difficult to choose, but this month I decided to make salads every day to compensate for all the last month's whipping cream, and I love edamame and corn, so this salad was just perfect. Thanks to Amanda for the wonderful event, and to Jennifer from Savoring the Thyme for the inspiration!

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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Gumbowl - Gumbo in Bread Bowl

For May 2011 Daring Cooks challenge
Source Minimally adapted from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh

- 1 cup (240 ml) (230 gm) rendered chicken fat, duck fat, or canola oil
- 1 cup (240 ml) (140 gm) (5 oz) flour
- 2 large onions, diced
- 1 chicken (3 ½ to 4 lbs.), cut into 10 pieces
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) Basic Creole Spices (recipe follows), or store-bought Creole spice blend
- 2 pounds (2 kilograms) spicy smoked sausage, sliced ½ inch (15mm) thick
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 2 green bell peppers (capsicum), seeded and diced
- 1 tomato, seeded and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Leaves from 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 3 quarts (3 liters) Basic Chicken Stock (recipe follows), or canned chicken stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 ounces (175 gm) andouille sausage, chopped
- 2 cups (480 ml) (320 gm) (11 oz) sliced fresh okra, ½ -inch (15mm) thick slices (or frozen, if fresh is not available)
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) Worcestershire sauce
- Salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Filé powder, to taste
- Tabasco, to taste
- 4-6 cups (1 – 1½ liters) (650 gm – 950 gm) cooked Basic Louisiana White Rice (recipe follows)
Total 10-12 servings

1. Prepare homemade chicken stock, if using (recipe below).
2. Prepare homemade Basic Creole Spices, if using (recipe below).
3. Season the chicken pieces with about 2 tablespoons of the Creole Spices while you prepare the vegetables.
4. Make sure all of your vegetables are cut, diced, chopped, minced and ready to go before beginning the roux. You must stand at the stove and stir the roux continuously to prevent it from burning.
5. In a large cast-iron or heavy-bottomed pan, heat the chicken fat, duck fat, or canola oil over high heat. Whisk the flour into the hot oil – it will start to sizzle. Reduce the heat to moderate, and continue whisking until the roux becomes deep brown in color, about 15 minutes.
6. Add the onions. Switch to a wooden spoon and stir the onions into the roux. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue stirring until the roux becomes a glossy dark brown, about 10 minutes.
7. Add the chicken to the pot; raise the heat to moderate, and cook, turning the pieces until slightly browned, about 10 minutes.
8. Add the sliced smoked sausage and stir for about a minute.
9. Add the celery, bell peppers, tomato, and garlic, and continue stirring for about 3 minutes.
10. Add the thyme, chicken stock, and bay leaves. Bring the gumbo to a boil, stirring occasionally.
11. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally, skimming off the fat from the surface of the gumbo every so often.
12. Add the chopped andouille, okra, and Worcestershire. Season with salt and pepper, several dashes of filé powder, and Tabasco, all to taste.
13. Simmer for another 45 minutes, continuing to skim the fat from the surface of the gumbo. Remove the bay leaves and serve in bowls over rice. Pass more filé powder at the table if desired.

- This was certainly the most challenging challenge I've participated in: stirring the stew non-stop for at least an hour - wheeeeew.... I don't think I can knowingly do that to myself again - will just have to do without a home made gumbo. But I will certainly treasure every bite next time I go to New Orleans and order it :-).
- I've made a lot of changes to the orignial recipes, and the final result is not worth reproducing, so I posted here the recipe just as it appeared on the Daring Cooks site, not my version. I could not rank the taste of this recipe, because the thing I have tasted was very different :-).

Blog-checking lines: Our May hostess, Denise, of There’s a Newf in My Soup!, challenged The Daring Cooks to make Gumbo! She provided us with all the recipes we’d need, from creole spices, homemade stock, and Louisiana white rice, to Drew’s Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo and Seafood Gumbo from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh.

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Friday, May 13, 2011

Chicken Coconut Soup

A refreshing spicy Thai-inspired soup
Adopted from “New Flavors for Soups” by Williams-Sonoma

Taste 4 (out of 5)

Difficulty 3 (out of 5)

- 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs (330 cal)
- 1 package enoki mushrooms (30 cal)
- 1/2 small acorn squash (85 cal)
- 3/4 cup frozen shelled edamame (280 cal)
- 2 shallots, chopped (30 cal)
- 2 limes (20 cal)
- 1/4 bunch cilantro
- 1/2 inch piece of ginger
- 2.5 cups chicken stock (25 cal)
- 1 can /14 oz coconut milk (180 cal)
- 1/4 tsp sambal oelek
- 1/2 tsp yellow Thai curry paste
- 1 tbsp Asian fish sauce
- 1 tbsp light brown sugar (50 cal)
- 1 tsp kosher salt
Total 4 servings, 1030 cal, 260 cal / serving


1. Peel and crush ginger, chop cilantro, zest and juice the limes (you’ll need both the zest and the juice).
2. In a large saucepan combine the stock, 1/2 can of coconut milk, ginger, cilantro, sambal oelek, shallots, and 1/2 tbsp of the fish sauce. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer to blend the flavors for about 15 minutes.
3. Peel and cut the squash into 1/4 inch thick slices and set aside. Cut the chicken into thin slices and set aside separately. Separate enoki mushrooms (they come in one bunch).
4. Strain the infused broth through a fine mesh sieve. Wipe the pot clean and return the broth to the pot. Add the brown sugar, the remaining coconut milk and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir in the chicken and edamame and return to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the chicken is almost opaque throughout, about 5 minutes. Add the squash and the mushrooms and simmer until tender, about 5 more minutes.
5. Meanwhile whisk the lime juice with the curry paste and the remaining fish sauce. Add the mixture and 1 tsp of salt to the pot and stir to blend well. Taste the soup and adjust seasoning.

I liked it, not surprisingly given my (by now not so) recently acquired obsession with coconuts :-)

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Friday, May 6, 2011

Spinach Ricotta Roll

It’s healthy, delicious and fits any occasion.
Adapted from Eva Toneva’s beautiful blog

5 (out of 5)

Difficulty 2 (out of 5)


For spinach roll (780 cal)
- 400 g fresh or frozen thawed spinach (90 cal)
- 5 eggs (350 cal)
- 50 g cream cheese (175 cal)
- 3 tbsp flour (165 cal)
- pinch of baking powder
- salt to taste
For ricotta filling (420 cal)
- 150 g ricotta or farmers’ cheese (205 cal)
- 3 cloves garlic (15 cal)
- 2 tbsp sour cream (100 cal)
- salt and thyme to taste
- 3 tbsp sun dried tomatoes (100 cal)
For topping
- 50 g grated Parmesan (200 cal)
Total 4 servings, 1400 cal, 350 cal / serving

For spinach roll
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Cook spinach in boiling water for 2 minutes, then immediately dip in a bowl with cold water and ice cube to stop the cooking process. Drain and chop the spinach.
3. In a large bowl beat eggs. Add cream cheese, salt, baking powder and flour. Mix well, so there are no lumps and add the spinach.
4. Pour the batter into a 9 x 13 inches parchment lined baking tray. Level the batter and bake for 10-12 minutes.
For ricotta filling
5. Mix ricotta (or farmers’) cheese with crushed garlic and sour cream, and season with salt and thyme to taste.
For assembly
6. When the spinach has baked and cooled down, place a piece of parchment paper on your work surface and sprinkle with thoroughly with shredded Parmesan.
7. Invert the baking tray, release the spinach onto Parmesan and peel of the baking paper that lined the baking sheet.
8. Spread the filling evenly, leaving about 1 inch on the sides uncovered. Distribute the sundried tomatoes over the cheese.
9. Using the parchment paper roll the spinach to wrap the cheese and chill in refrigerator.
10. Can be served cold or can be warmed up in microwave or oven.

Tastes wonderful, healthy and so-so pretty, especially on Eva’s original photograph. I was completely obsessed with this dish ever since I saw that photo, and it took me a couple of weeks to translate the recipe and get all the ingredients. I am so happy I did :-).

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Macaron + mascarpone tiramisu-like filling
About a month ago I won Jill Colonna’s book “Mad about Macarons” along with delicious French chocolates and more goodies in a giveaway by Joshua from Just Eat. I started on my first ever batch of macarons as soon as I’ve received the book. These are my second batch.
Macaron from Jill Colonna’s “Mad about Macarons”, mascarpone filling based on the homemade mascarpone cheese recipe on Passionate about Baking

Taste 5 (out of 5)

5 (out of 5)

For macarons
see Joshua’s post (or “Mad about Macarons”)
For mascarpone
- 2 cups of heavy (whipping) cream (1640 cal)
- 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (10 cal)
For tiramisu flavor
- 2 tbsp boiling water
- 2 tsp instant coffee
- 3 tbsp sugar (135 cal)
- 1 tsp orange extract
- 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder (10 cal)
Total filling for 20 medium sized macarons + some extra, 1795 cal, 90 cal / macaron filling

For macarons
See Joshua’s post or “Mad about Macarons”
For mascarpone cheese
1. In a double broiler heat the cream until it reaches 180F. Pour in the fresh lemon juice and continue stirring for several minutes.
2. When the cream starts to thicken slightly remove it from heat, cover and leave at room temperature until it cools down. Refrigerate overnight.
3. By now the cream will be significantly thicker. Pour the cream into a strainer lined with a several layers of cheesecloth to let the whey drain. Refrigerate for 24 hours. The amount in this recipe will yield a little over a cup / 250 g of mascarpone.
For tiramisu flavor
4. Add instant coffee, sugar and orange extract to the boiling water and stir until dissolved.
5. Combine mascarpone, coffee and cocoa powder. Mix well with a fork until uniform. Adjust sugar to taste, if needed.
6. Assemble the macarons and let the sit in the fridge for 24 hours before serving to allow the filling to penetrate into the hard shell.
7. Eat whatever is left of the filling with a spoon or serve with fresh fruit :-)

- First of all, thank you so much to Joshua (Just Eat), Jill (Mad about Macarons) and Deeba (Passionate about Baking)!

- Regarding macarons, I am still in the very beginning of my learning curve, that’s why I am sending you to Joshua’s post :-). What I’ve learned so far from my mistakes, from Jill’s book and from her kind replies to my questions on her blog:
1. If you over mix your batter the macaroons will be too liquid and misshapen, if you don’t mix enough the macarons will be too stiff and will have a peak on top, like little turbans.
2. You must be patient and let your macarons sit on a tray for quite some time (in my case an hour) to make sure the tops are hard. Otherwise you won’t get those pretty feet and the tops might crack.
3. You need to know your over settings. Not all ovens are made equal, so it takes a lot of experimenting no matter how good the recipe. I’m still working on this part..
- Regarding mascarpone, it’s absolutely divine! I’ve tried several recipes before and it turned out sour and dry. Deeba’s recipe gives you a wonderfully light and fresh mascarpone. Next time I’ll make more and make the full tiramisu – yum!

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Monday, May 2, 2011

Buttermilk Biscuits

As quick and tasty as it gets…
Forgiving Martha

Taste 5 (out of 5)

Difficulty 1 (out of 5)

- 2 cups all-purpose flour (910 cal)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 2 tbsp sugar (90 cal)
- 1/2 tsp coarse salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes (815 cal)
- 3/4 cup buttermilk, chilled, plus additional for brushing (105 cal)
Total 1920 cal, 12 biscuit, 160 cal / biscuit

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicon mat.
2. In a medium bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix in the butter with a pastry cutter or a fork until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the buttermilk and stir until the dough comes together in a ball.
3. Gather the dough into a bowl and knead gently 6 times. Divide the dough in half, pat each half into a 1/2 inch thick circle and cut into 6 slices. Place on the prepared baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Brush with buttermilk.
4. Bake until golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

- They are super easy to make – you can serve warm yummy biscuits in 30 minutes, out of which 15 minutes is the baking time. And they are really perfect for a weekend brunch, especially if it’s a sea-side picnic :-)
- All the stars in heavens and all the ingredients in my fridge conspired to make me bake those ;-). Usually when I see a nice recipe, I am missing some ingredients or have other plans for that day, and so the recipe goes into my long-long wish list. This time I wanted something baked and nice for a brunch, and I had all the ingredients ready, and it did not rain, so we could actually go out and have a picnic. It must have been fate :-).
- Thanks to Jess from Forgiving Martha for this delish recipe. You have to check out her site – there are soooo many great posts there. I will be making more of them soon…

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