Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Decadent Chocolate Chip Cookies

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This is the absolute best chocolate chip cookie recipe I have ever tried.   What makes the cookies so delicious and different is their large size and the hint of almond flavoring.  Be sure to toast the walnuts as that adds a unique taste to the cookie as well.  I would definitely make these again soon.

2 sticks COLD butter, unsalted
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
3/4 tsp almond flavoring
3-1/4 to 3-1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp kosher salt
3/4 tsp to 1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup TOASTED walnuts

While the oven is warming to 350 degrees, place the walnuts in the oven for 10-15 min. on a baking sheet to toast.  With an electric mixer, blend the butter, sugar and brown sugar until well-mixed.  Add one egg at a time and blend thoroughly, then add the almond flavoring.  In a separate bowl, mix the flour, kosher salt, baking powder and baking soda together.  Then add to the egg and butter mixture.  Mix just until blended (be careful not to overmix, or your cookies will be tough).  Fold in the chocolate chips and walnuts.  Using a full 1/4 cup measuring cup, drop the batter onto a cooking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake 16-18 min. until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.  Makes about 14-16 big cookies.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Hide's Nuta and Sugaki

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While in Seattle, we were treated to the most wonderful appetizers at Hide and Reiko Obatake's house.  We are big fans of Hide's healthy Japanese cooking.  He made Nuta and Sugaki, two dishes we had never tasted before, which were incredibly delicious. Both dishes included seafood in light delicate sauces with the very freshest ingredients.  Nuta (pictured above) is sashimi-grade seafood swimming in a miso salad dressing with green onions.  Its name, "Nuta", originated from "Numa" which means muddy pond and Ta" for rice field because of its appearance from the miso dressing.

2-4 green onions
Assorted sashimi-grade seafood:  tako, ika, maguro (diced), clams, white fish (like red snapper)
2 T white miso
2 T mirin
1 T rice vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp mustard

To make the miso dressing, combine the white miso, mirin, rice vinegar, sugar and mustard. Boil the green onions in hot water for about 5-6 minutes.  Cool to room temperature, then cut into 2" strips.  Cut the seafood into bite-size pieces.  In a medium saucepan, boil water, then cook the seafood for 3 SECONDS, then transfer to ICED WATER to stop the cooking process.  Wipe off the water from the seafood, then mix the seafood with the miso dressing and green onions in a serving bowl.  You can add also add as an option: shirataki, wakame, boiled daikon or carrots.

Sugaki (pictured here) is a vinegared oyster.  I had never been fond of oysters, but found I could not stop eating them.  They were small in size, tender and so delicate in flavor.  The ingredients are simply your favorite Ponzu sauce, mixed with shredded daikon.  What made this dish so special was the freshness of the YEARLING oysters.

Yearling oysters
Ponzu sauce
Daikon, shredded
Lemon, thinly sliced
Green onions, finely chopped

Mix all ingredients together in a large serving bowl.  Enjoy!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Martha's Grilled Shrimp with Cilantro, Lime and Peanuts

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Corinne and I made this dish together a few months ago. The recipe came from Martha Stewart Living Magazine and is Vietnamese style. You just grill the shrimp until pink, and toss it with the peanut and lime sauce at the end....so easy. It's a little messy to peel, but tastes so tender and delicious. Serve it with lots of big napkins. Costco sells nice fresh, large-size, jumbo shrimp that works well in this recipe, if you don't have a good fish market nearby.

2 limes
2 tsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
1 lb jumbo shrimp, shells on (about 15)
2 tsp safflower oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1-1/2 cups coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup salted peanuts, chopped
2 green onions, finely chopped

Zest the limes into a bowl.  Squeeze in the juice from one lime. Whisk in the fish sauce and sugar. Preheat grill to high. Brush shrimp with oil on both sides, and lightly season with salt and pepper. Grill until pink and firm to the touch, about 2-3 minutes per side. Toss shrimp with fish sauce mixture, cilantro, peanuts and green onions. Juice remaining lime over the shrimp.

Stephen's Chicken Cacciatore

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Here's a super chicken cacciatore recipe from my son, Stephen, picture here (on the left) with his buddy, Brent, while they were in Las Vegas.  The chicken turns out so tender and delicious.  You can serve it over spaghetti noodles or your favorite pasta.  The recipe originally came from Men's Health Magazine, but has been adjusted slightly.

2 T olive oil
8 pieces of chicken
Salt and pepper
1 bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp red pepper, optional
approx. 10 olives, sliced
1T sugar
2 generous splashes of Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup dry red wine (Cabernet)
1-1/2 cup chicken broth
1-lb roma tomatoes, chopped
1T flat leaf parsley
Grated cheese, optional

Season the chicken with salt and pepper and saute in olive oil for 8-10 minutes.  Set aside.  Saute the bell pepper, onion, garlic, red pepper and olives for 10 min. in a large skillet.  Add the red wine and cook for 5 min.  Add the sugar, Worcestershire sauce, chicken stock, roma tomatoes and chicken, and simmer for 20-30 min. until the chicken is tender and a lot of the liquid has been evaporated.  Top with the flat leaf parsley.  Serve over your favorite pasta.  Add grated cheese to your liking.

Glenda's Lemon-Cilantro Salmon with Couscous

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Absolutely delicious!  This recipe comes from my friend, Glenda Stephens of San Diego (recipe from RealSimple.com).  It has such fresh flavors of lemon and cilantro in a light vinaigrette. Be sure to serve it over couscous which absorbs that wonderful vinaigrette and salmon juices.  It was so good. We could not stop eating it.

1, 10-oz box couscous (1-1/2 cups)
3 T olive oil
1 salmon fillet (1-1/4 lbs)
1/2 tsp paprika
Kosher salt
Black pepper
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
4 green onions, sliced thin
2 T fresh lemon juice

Cook the couscous according to package directions. In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1T oil.  Season the salmon with paprika, 1/2 tsp. kosher salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper.  Cook the salmon until opaque about 3-4 min. per side.  In a small bowl, combine the cilantro, green onions, lemon juice and 2T oil with 1/4 tsp salt and pepper.  Drizzle over the salmon and couscous.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Buttermilk Biscuits

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Yum, these are delicious buttermilk biscuits! The recipe came from Alton Brown of the Food Network where it got a 5-star rating from reviewers. The biscuits turned out so light and fluffy.  Your kitchen will smell great as these bake.  This recipe made 6 large biscuits, so you will want to double it for a bigger batch.

2 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 T butter, chilled
2 T shortening
1 cup buttermilk, chilled

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using a pastry blender, mix the butter, shortening into the dry mixture until crumbs form. Make a well in the center of the bowl and pour in the chilled buttermilk.  Stir the dough until just blended and sticky (do not overmix!). Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead 5 or 6 times.  Press into a 1-inch thick round, and cut out biscuits with a 2-inch cutter.  Re-shape the scrap dough into a biscuit shape.  Place on an ungreased baking sheet so they touch slightly. Bake 450 degrees for 15-20 min.

Barbecued Short Ribs

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These short ribs are sweet, tangy and so tender -- they will melt in your mouth. I tried making them in a crockpot, and it was much easier than having to watch it on the stove. You will want to skim the excess fat from the sauce before thickening. They go great with faux mashed potatoes (mashed cauliflower) or real mashed potatoes. The sauce is so flavorful, yummy and has that barbeque tang to it.

3-5 lbs. beef short ribs, cut into big serving pieces
1/4 cup oil
3/4 cup water
1 medium onion, chopped
1-1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup diced celery
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup vinegar (any kind)
1-1/2 T Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp salt
1 tsp prepared mustard
2 T flour
4 T water

Brown the meat in oil. Combine the next 10 ingredients and pour over the ribs. Cover and simmer until tender, about 2-3 hours -- or you could put everything in a crockpot on low for 4-6 hours. Remove short ribs from the pan and place on a platter. Skim excess fat from the pan. Combine flour and water, stir into sauce and cook, stirring constantly until thickened. Pour sauce over the meat and serve.

Sam's Rosemary Feta Potatoes

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This my very favorite potato recipe! So good! They go great with prime rib or any roast. The recipe comes from Sam Zien, the Cooking Guy, one of my favorite San Diego TV chefs. His recipes are always simple, easy to follow and turn out great. I love his sense of humor which he incorporates in his cooking techniques. You can view his recipes and techniques on his website, www.thecookingguy.com. I guarantee you have a fun time watching his cooking videos.  

1-1/2 lbs red or white (Yukon gold) potatoes, quartered
3 T fresh rosemary, chopped
5 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 large red onion cut into a big dice
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
2-3 T olive oil

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Put the potatoes, garlic, rosemary and onions in a large bowl. Add the olive oil and mix well. Place on a baking sheet, and roast until brown and crispy - about 30 min. Remove from oven and put on a serving dish. Sprinkle with feta and more rosemary.

Layered Spinach Tortellini Salad

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I love this salad as it is so colorful.  Be sure to serve it in a deep glass bowl, so you can see the multicolored layers.  I make my own ranch dressing, but you can substitute that with your favorite brand of dressing.

6 cups baby spinach leaves
2 cups red cabbage, chopped
1 pkg (9 oz) refrigerated cheese tortellini
1 bottle (8 oz) ranch salad dressing*
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
3/4-1 lb. bacon, cut, browned and drained
1/2 cup green onions, chopped

Cook tortellini according to package directions.  Drain and rinse in cold water.  In a large glass bowl, layer the ingredients in the order listed above.

* I mix equal parts sour cream and mayonnaise with Hidden Valley Ranch Salad Seasoning Packet, instead of using a bottled ranch dressing.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Glenda's Spaghetti Salad

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Here's a great summertime salad that is easy to prepare. It comes from my buddy Glenda, pictured here with her cool roommate, Meggie. You can make it the night before, so all of the flavors have time to blend together. It's an easy dish to make for potlucks or when you are entertaining guests.

1 pkg. spaghetti noodles, cooked
1/2 English cucumber, diced
15 black olives, sliced
1 red pepper, julienned
1 green pepper, julienned
1, 8 oz. bottle Wishbone Italian Dressing
4 T of Schilling Salad Supreme or McCormick Salad Supreme Seasoning

Cook the spaghetti according to package directions. Place the noodles, cucumbers, olives and peppers in a big serving bowl. Mix the salad dressing with the salad seasoning, pour over the salad and then mix everything together. Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight. Can be served at room temperature.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Corinne's Crab with Black Bean Sauce

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OMG, this is so good. This recipe comes from my good buddy, Corinne, and is utterly magnificent! The dish is salty and savory, full of Asian flavors and will become a family favorite of yours. The sauce is wonderful over rice. Be sure to have extra napkins as everyone will need them during this meal.

1 whole Dungeness crab, cooked and cleaned
2 T fermented black beans, rinsed
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 slice ginger, minced
1 T sherry
1/2 tsp salt
1 T soy sauce
3 T canola oil
1/2 cup ground pork
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 eggs, beaten
1 T cornstarch dissolved in 2 T water
1 stalk green onion, chopped

Cut the crab into individual pieces and crack the shells for easy peeling; set aside. Crush the black beans, garlic and ginger together. Add the sherry, salt and soy sauce. In a large frying pan over high heat, heat the oil, fry the pork for 2 minutes. Add the crab pieces, black bean sauce and chicken broth. Cook 5 min. Stir in the beaten egg and thicken with cornstarch mixture. Place on a platter and top with chopped green onions. Serve with steamed white rice. Serves 6.

Make Your Own Sushi

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Here's an easy way to serve sushi to your guests without spending hours in the kitchen. Simply make a large batch of sushi rice and cut up your favorite sushi ingredients. Place those ingredients on a large platter and let your guests make their own sushi hand rolls themselves.

Fresh ahi, salmon or any sashimi-grade fish
Baby shrimp, cooked
Baked tofu
Shiitake mushrooms (fresh), sauteed in teriyaki sauce
English cucumber
Radish sprouts

Nori (seaweed) cut into fourths
Soy sauce
Pickled ginger, as garnish

Sushi rice:
3 cups Calrose short grain rice, uncooked
3/4 cup white vinegar
3/4 cup sugar

Cook the rice according to package directions. Mix the vinegar and sugar together and pour over the cooked rice until absorbed. Place the sushi rice in a large serving bowl.

Slice all the ingredients so they are the same size, approximately 1/4" by 4" strips. Saute the shiitake mushrooms in a little teriyaki sauce until cooked. Place these ingredients on a large platter (see photo). Serve with the nori (seaweed) and sushi rice. Soy sauce and wasabi can be mixed by your guests in small dishes as a dip. Each guest takes a nori square, spreads a little sushi rice on top along with their favorite ingredients, then curls the nori up to eat. Very delicious!

If your guests don't care for raw fish, you can bake some salmon, slice it into strips and serve that instead.

Liz's Broccoli Grape Salad

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Here is Liz Olschefski's delicious broccoli grape salad recipe. It is the perfect dish for potlucks as it is so colorful and flavorful. You can adjust the quantity of the ingredients to your liking. Pictured here (left to right) are Betty Yuasa, Liz Olschefski, Karen Loase and Marilyn Kihara vacationing on Hilton Head Island.

1 bunch of broccoli, cut into small pieces
Bacon, cut up small, fried and drained
Raisins or Craisins
Sunflower seeds
Slivered almonds
Red onion, chopped
Red grapes
Grated cheddar

1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sugar
2 T vinegar

Cut up the broccoli into little flowerets. Cut the bacon into bite-sized pieces, fry until crisp and drain on paper towels. Add the raisins, sunflower seeds, almonds, onions, grapes and cheese to the broccoli. Mix the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and pour over the salad. Toss everything together and serve.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Lorena's Stir-Fried Broccoli

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This was the most flavorful stir-fried broccoli from Lorena Velasquez. The broccoli makes a nice vegetable side dish for an Asian menu. You can adjust the seasoning to your taste buds. It was the perfect accompaniment to baked salmon and teriyaki chicken -- broccoli at its best!

4 broccoli clusters
2 T sesame oil
1 T olive or canola oil
1 tsp black bean sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
1 T teriyaki sauce (optional) to taste

Cut the broccoli clusters into small flowerets. Heat the oils in a wok or frying pan. Add the broccoli, black bean sauce and soy sauce. Cover and stir occasionally until tender crisp - about 3 minutes.