Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Stephen and Megan's Chocolate Pavlova

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What a treat!  On Christmas eve, Stephen and Megan baked this delicious double chocolate pavlova. It has become my favorite dessert, a light, airy chocolate meringue covered with mascarpone whipped cream. To die for!

6 egg whites
pinch of salt
1-3/4 cup superfine sugar
3 T unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

1 cup (8oz) mascarpone cheese, chilled
1-1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

1-1/2 cup fresh raspberries
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, grated

Pre-heat your oven to 300 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Draw a 9" circle on the parchment paper.  Turn the parchment paper over so the drawn part is underneath.  Using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and salt until foamy soft peaks form, about one minute.  Increase the speed to medium-high and slowly add the sugar, beating for another 8-9 minutes until stiff peaks form.  The whites will look glossy.  Next, using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the cocoa powder, vinegar and chopped chocolate.  Mound the mixture onto the parchment paper inside the circle and spread to fill the circle.  Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until it looks puffy and crispy all over.  After baking, leave the meringue in the oven to cool with the oven turned off and door propped open for 30 minutes. Separate the meringue from the parchment paper and place on a large platter.  

Beat the whipping cream, mascarpone cheese and vanilla until combined. Add the powdered sugar and beat until soft peaks form.  Spread the whipped cream on top of the meringue. Top with fresh raspberries and grated chocolate.

New Year's Day 2016 at the Obatake's

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We were so fortunate to attend another delicious New Year's Day feast at Hide and Reiko Obatake's house.  Our holiday trip to Seattle would not be complete without it.  It was truly a feast for the eyes and palate.  Hide is a talented, gifted and extraordinary chef.  Every dish was perfectly crafted, looked beautiful and tasted delicious.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Eggplant and Tomato Stacks

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Here's a way to serve eggplant as a salad, stacked with pesto, fresh tomatoes and mozzarella.  You bake the eggplant first, then stack it with the other ingredients.  It is so colorful and makes an attractive first course.

1-2 eggplants, medium size, sliced 
1-2 large tomatoes, sliced
Mozzarella cheese (the soft kind), cut in rounds
Fresh basil, chopped fine
Extra virgin olive oil
Balsamic syrup

Cut the eggplant into 1/2" round slices.  Baste with olive oil, kosher salt and pepper.  Spray a baking sheet with PAM, and roast the eggplant in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes, turning once at 10 min. Set aside to cool.  On an serving plate, drizzle some balsamic syrup first, then layer the eggplant, pesto, tomato slice, mozzarella and eggplant. Sprinkle basil on top. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Jan's Pimento Cheese Sandwich

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For a taste of the south, try this pimento cheese sandwich recipe which comes from my Jazzercise buddy, Jan Roberts.  It was her mother's most requested dish at church potlucks.  You can mix the ingredients in a food processor or mix it with a spoon.  The sandwich tastes good at room temperature, refrigerated or grilled as a toasted cheese sandwich.  It is the perfect little sandwich for afternoon tea.

1 cup of cheddar, shredded
3 T of mayonnaise (Hellman's/Best Foods)
2 oz (small jar) of diced pimentos

Mix the ingredients together. Spread on your favorite bread. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Sharon's Spicy Cucumber

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Cousin Sharon took me to Din Tai Fung restaurant at South Coast Plaza Mall on my recent trip to Southern California. As we were eating the spicy cucumber salad, Sharon shared her recipe for them. Of course, I had to make them when I returned home. They are so flavorful with just the right amount of heat in them. Thanks, Sharon for sharing!

4-5 Persian cucumbers
Kosher salt
1 T sugar
1 T Japanese vinegar
1 T chili oil
Sesame oil

Cut the Persian cucumbers in 3/4' to 1" chunks (as pictured above). Sprinkle a generous amount of kosher salt on the cucumbers, and set aside for 20 minutes. Rinse the cucumbers in cold water, drain and pat dry with paper towels.  In a small glass bowl, mix the vinegar and sugar and microwave for 20 seconds until the sugar is dissolved.  When it has cooled down, pour it over the cucumbers. Refrigerate for 2 hours. When ready to serve, place the cucumbers in a serving dish. Heat the chili oil in the microwave for 15-20 seconds until hot, and pour over the cucumbers. Drizzle sesame oil on top.

If you cannot find the chili oil at the grocery store, you can substitute it with 1 tablespoon of peanut oil mixed with 2 tsp Sriracha hot sauce (the one with the rooster label).

Friday, August 7, 2015

Robin's Heavenly Halibut

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So delicious!  This recipe can be found all over internet and was referred to me by Alaskan friend, Robin Forsi. It has a rich, cheesy topping that complements the fish perfectly.  You will want to scoop up the baked sauce remaining in the pan with a piece of crusty bread.

2 lbs skinless halibut fillets
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 T mayonnaise
2 T lemon juice
3 T chopped green onions
1/4 tsp salt
1 dash Tabasco sauce

Lightly grease a baking dish. Mix the parmesan, butter, mayonnaise, lemon juice, green onions, salt and Tabasco together.  Put a thick layer of the sauce on the fish fillets.  Bake at 425 degrees for 12-14 min. depending on thickness of the fish.
Pictured here are the Forsi's, Powell's and Denny in Alaska.

Jennifer's Asian Grilled Salmon or Halibut

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I got this fish marinade recipe from my buddy, Jennifer Powell, while she was in Alaska.  It's an Ina Garten recipe that she has modified with the addition of grated ginger.  I chose a different method of cooking it, by baking it in the oven, adding reserved marinade for extra flavor. We will definitely make this one again!

Fresh salmon or halibut fillets
2 T Dijon mustard
3 T soy sauce
6 T extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
1/2 - 1" piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated

Mix the marinade ingredients together.  Reserve 1/4 of the marinade for later use.  Marinate the fish for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator in a large Ziploc bag.  Place the salmon on a lightly greased baking pan.  Baste the rest of the marinade onto the fish.  Bake at 425 degrees for 12-15 min. depending on thickness of the fish.  

Friday, July 24, 2015

Lidwin's Eggplant Salad

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This salad recipe comes from my Jazzercise friend, Lidwin Serpanchy. It is truly refreshing and delicious.  You fry the eggplant cubes first, drain it on paper towels to remove the excess oil, then mix it with the other ingredients, lemon juice and salt and pepper. In the one pictured above, I used crisp Persian cucumbers and heirloom tomatoes which were in season.  Lidwin arranges her tomatoes which have been sliced, rather than chopped, around the perimeter of the bowl with the rest of the dressed ingredients in the middle, so that the tomatoes don't get soggy from the salt.

1 medium eggplant, cut in cubes
Canola oil
1 cucumber, cut in cubes
1-2 tomatoes, cut in cubes or slices
Red onion, cut in rings
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
1/2-1 lemon, juiced

Saute the eggplant in canola oil for several minutes until the eggplant is cooked.  Since the eggplant absorbs a lot of the oil, drain the eggplant on paper towels to remove some of the oil.  Set eggplant aside to cool to room temperature.  In a large bowl, mix the eggplant, cucumber, tomatoes, red onions and cilantro.  Squeeze lemon juice over all. Season with salt and pepper to your taste. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Lasagna Soup

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This recipe for lasagna soup came from a Penzeys Spices catalog, given to me by my friend, Jan Roberts, along with a cool assortment of Penzeys spices to try. The soup is a meal in itself, very filling and satisfying. You can adjust the seasonings as I did to fit your tastes and add whatever type of noodles you want.

1 lb. ground beef or ground turkey
1 medium onion, diced
1 green or red bell pepper, seeded and diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 cups chicken broth (3 cups water with 2 tsp chicken soup base)
1, 14.5-oz can of diced tomatoes
1, 15-oz. can tomato sauce
2 tsp Italian herb mix (I used Herbs de Provence)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp basil
1 cup broken lasagna noodles (or any small noodle)
3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1-1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

In a large pot, brown the meat with the onion, green pepper and garlic for about 10 minutes. Add the broth, tomatoes, tomato sauce and seasonings. Bring to boil over medium-high heat for 2 minutes, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 30 minutes. Add the noodles and cook for 15 minutes more. Stir in the parmesan cheese. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Serve immediately.

Pictured here is Jan in the living room of her former residence, a beautiful 1916 Craftsman.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Coq Au Vin

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I have tried different versions of this recipe, but this one is my favorite.  Be sure to use a good quality wine as it will influence the taste of the sauce.

2 slices bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 chicken thighs
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 cup dry red wine (cabernet or burgundy)
Salt, pepper
1 T flour

Using a large ovenproof casserole pot (like a LeCreuset), saute the bacon until crisp. Remove bacon from the pan and set aside. Saute the onion, carrots and garlic in the same pot for a few minutes. Then remove from pan and set aside. Saute the mushrooms with a little butter for a few minutes, then remove from pan and set aside. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then saute the chicken until browned. Now add all the sauteed veggies. Mix a little of the wine with the flour to blend, then add that and the rest of the wine to the pot.  Cover the casserole pot, and place in a 350 degree oven for 1-1/2 hours. Serve with fresh green beans and wild rice -- a delicious French feast for the family.

Sunday, June 7, 2015


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Here's a yummy frozen chocolate dessert that reminiscent of the old days. It is easy to make and tastes delicious. It is the perfect treat for a hot summer day or when you need that chocolate fix.

1/2 cup sugar
2 T cornstarch
2 T cocoa powder
2-1/2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 T butter

In a saucepan, whisk the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder and milk. Cook over medium heat until slightly thick and smooth. Add the vanilla and butter. Cool and pour into popsicle molds. Freeze overnight.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Hawaiian Hurricane Popcorn

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Simply addicting. We had this popcorn in Hawaii and could not stop eating it.  It is easy to make -- just add some furikake and Japanese rice crackers to your home-popped popcorn and enjoy. In Hawaii you can buy the hurricane popcorn packaged seasoning mix (the one Bea is holding) at Hawaiian grocery stores. On the mainland, you can find furikake, a Japanese rice seasoning of salt, sugar, sesame seeds and roasted seaweed, at Japanese markets or in the Asian food aisle at some Safeway stores.
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels 
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 tsp soy sauce
1/4 cup furikake
Arare or Japanese rice crackers (small size, any shape)

In a large covered pot, heat the oil on high heat and add the popcorn. When the kernels begin to pop, reduce the heat to medium until all the kernels have popped. After popping, quickly remove the lid so the popcorn does not steam. Mix the soy sauce with the butter. Add the melted butter mixture to the popcorn, then sprinkle furikake.  Add the rice crackers last.  You can also use an air-popper, if you wish, omitting the canola oil.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Fat-Free FrozenYogurt

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For those of you with an ice cream maker, this is an easy dessert to make that is virtually fat-free and delicious. You can use any fresh fruit in season.  In the one pictured here, I used fresh strawberries which were pureed first.

2 cups fat free Greek yogurt
2 cups pureed strawberries
1 can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
1 cup fat-free milk
3 tsp vanilla

Puree the fruit using your food processor or hand blender.  Mix the yogurt, pureed fruit, sweetened condensed milk, non-fat milk and vanilla until blended. Pour it into your ice cream maker, and process according to manufacturer's directions. Freeze for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Mediterranean Orzo Salad

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This is another great variation of the orzo salad.  What makes it unique is that it has garbanzo beans in it. It is so colorful with a refreshing lemon dressing.

12 oz. orzo
1 cup olives, sliced (black, Greek or green)
1 cup cucumbers, chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup feta, crumbled
1/4 red onion, chopped
3T fresh basil or Italian parsley, chopped

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt, pepper, to taste

Cook the orzo according to package directions, rinse in cold water and drain.  Mix the orzo with the remaining ingredients.  Add the dressing to taste.  Adjust the seasoning by adding salt and pepper as needed. Chill for one hour before serving.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Lemon Garlic Shrimp

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This shrimp is so good, you will want to soak up its butter-garlic-lemon sauce with French bread. It is sometimes called Louisiana style barbecued shrimp although it is not cooked on a barbeque but in a skillet instead.  You can buy shrimp with its head on or off, whichever way you prefer. I like using Costco's jumbo prawns which are fresh and firm.

1 lb large shrimp, peeled
1 stick unsalted butter, cut up
1 T garlic, minced
1 T fresh rosemary, chopped fine
1/3 cup lemon juice (2 lemons) - Save the rinds
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1-1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
Pepper, freshly ground to taste

After squeezing the lemons, cut the rinds into round slices.  Heat a large skillet using medium-high heat. Melt the butter, then add the garlic, rosemary, Worcestershire, Tabasco, lemon juice and lemon rind slices. Season the shrimp with Kosher salt and pepper, then add to the skillet and cook for 3-4 min. Serve with crusty French bread or baguette.

Pickled Maui Onions

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Here's another pickled Maui onion recipe that is easy to make.  It resembles rakkyo, Japanese pickled scallions, in taste.  Be sure to use Maui or a mild white onion which is less pungent and sweeter in flavor. You can serve this alongside fish, hamburger, steak or as an appetizer, just by itself.

2 medium Maui onions, sliced
1-1/2 cups water
3/4 cups distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
3 cloves garlic, crushed
Dried hot red chilies, to taste
1 T salt

Place the sliced onions in a wide-mouth 1-quart (or larger) jar.  Boil the water, vinegar, sugar, garlic, chilies and salt in a saucepan.  Pour over onions and let cool.  Chill 3 days or up to a month.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Jennifer's Caprese Bread Skewers

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Jennifer made these scrumptious caprese skewers when we visited their beautiful Alaskan house on the Kenai River last summer.  The skewers are so colorful and simple to make. 

Cherry tomatoes
Fresh basil leaves
Fresh mozzarella balls
Artisan bread, cut in cubes
Balsamic vinegar or balsamic syrup
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Cut the bread into 1-2" cubes.  Place a cherry tomato on the skewer, followed by a basil leaf, mozzarella ball and bread cube.  Repeat until the skewer is full.  Right before serving, sprinkle with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.  

Pictures from our trip to Denny and Jennifer's in Alaska...