Monday, July 30, 2012

Tonkatsu, Japanese Fried Pork Cutlet

Tonkatsu is really just a Japanese fried pork chop. It all started at the Asian grocery store today, because I had no inkling that I wanted to make this until I saw this package of pork. The pork chops are boneless and very lean, to make sure they stay tender, they are run through a tenderizing machine by the butcher.  You could probably do it yourself with a mallet, or a Jaccard hand held unit.

The meat said "Pork for Tonkatsu".  That was very helpful to me, because it reminded me of a dish that I had in Japan, but couldn't remember the name! The recipe can't be easier; meat, egg, panko crumbs and salt and pepper.  Easy!  I found recipe that told you how to make the meat, but that you could buy the sauce at any Asian store.  Silly really, because the sauce was simple to make too. It's just a basic BBQ like sauce, sweet and tangy.  I think this would be a great meal for kids too, they will love everything about this!

Tonkatsu is traditionally served on a bed of shredded cabbage, I have no idea why, but it was a nice way to do it.  I tossed my cabbage with a little rice wine vinegar and some salt and let it wilt a bit before I started cooking the meat. Steamed rice would be great too.

Here's the sauce ingredients:

Serves about 3-4

1 lb pork steaks, tenderized, about 6-7 small pieces
1 egg
1 cup panko Japanese bread crumbs
Ssalt and Pepper

Sauce Ingredients
1/4 cup ketchup
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp yellow mustard
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp ground cloves, ground allspice and powdered garlic (if desired) 

Mix all the sauce ingredients together and set aside while preparing the pork.

Season both sides of the pork cutlets with salt and pepper. Beat an egg, and put on a plate, or a low dish.  Have another dish for your panko crumbs.  Dip both sides of the pork in the egg, then immediately into the crumbs working until all pieces are coated.  Lightly pressing the panko onto both sides of the pork, if needed.

Over medium high heat, add about 1/2 inch of vegetable oil to a drying pan.  When the oil is hot, add the pork working in batches until you are done.  Cook until the outside is crispy brown, about 2-3 minutes per side.  I found that the pork cooks super quick.  

Drain on paper towels, then serve immediately.  You could also slice each cutlet into thin strips which makes it convenient for dipping into the sauce.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Singapore Flying Crab

Singapore.... just WOW.

I didn't expect too much, many people told me that Singapore was just a big shopping mall.  Since some of those who know me, know that I had more years than I care to admit in a retail environment, shopping is not one of my favorite things to do.
I realize I didn't buy anything in Singapore. Nothing, nada, zilch.   And I'm good with that.
More people should have mentioned the food to me.  Don't they know me?  
The food was amazing.. I didn't have one bad meal there.
Okay, there may have been one lousy soup, but that is all. Maybe I will talk about  it later...

The Singapore Flyer

I am not usually the biggest ferris wheel fan, but this was a very fun thing to do, and not scary at all. About 8 of us had a capsule to ourselves. Each can carry up to 28 people, and you can even schedule one for a special function, like a champagne dinner.. It takes about 30 minutes to go all the way around and the views are pretty darn spectacular!

The Black Pepper Crab (pictured above) was served at a really nice seafood restaurant below the Singapore Flyer, with views of the harbor, the stunning Sands resort and the Singapore Gardens by the Bay.
About twelve of us sat down to dinner at a huge  at a huge round table with a big lazy susan.
The food just kept coming. So many interesting dishes; deep fried baby squids, soup with a whole fish, geoduck done in a spicy sauce, crab prepared two different ways and more. When I served a huge crab claw in black pepper sauce, I was looking at how to crack it in a lady-like fashion at this business dinner,  I was sitting next to the host, who reached over, put the claw on the tablecloth between our plates and smacked it with a mallet about ten times. I was shrieking the whole time, for a multitude of reasons, mainly concerned about my shirt and the flying black sauce,  crab bits and having to pack it in my luggage for the next week. The tablecloth took the brunt of the impact and mess, and thankfully my shirt remained unscathed. I was a bit mortified to be sitting at the messiest place at the table though. 

The soup was served in a bowl big enough for a baby bathtub and included two whole fish. It was a spotted fish with an unhappy face... and eyes. I could tell, because it was still attached and in the soup.  They took the bowl away to serve it, and brought the heads back to the table on a platter, in case we wanted to nibble on them.  We'd been to lunch the previous day with this same group, so we knew that the heads were considered a deliciacy as we had watched one of the local guys pick the head clean.  This time, a coworker and I gave each other a look, a dare, perhaps.  I decided I would try the cheek... because everyone knows halibut cheeks are the best part, right?  So I went for it, it was good, fine, nothing to be afraid of.  My co-worker said he was going for the eyeball, after getting egged on by the local beside him.  I have pictures of that whole endeavor, but I figured he didn't want to be famous in my blog for eating an eyeball.

We had these two days in a row, some sort of sticky sweet and spicy prawns.  The heads were still attached, so I ate that too. It was delicious.

Below is the baby fried squid in a sweet sticky sauce, sliced duck, whole fried fish (the yellow things) and I have no idea what the round things on the cucumber was. Tasty though...

I wish I had pictures of the famous Singapore Chili Crab, but by the time that dish came my hands were a sticky mess and frankly, I was in the eating zone.  I think I may have called the sauce "the best stuff on earth" or something like that.  It came with this amazing bread that you dipped in the sauce.  The bread was almost like fry bread, sweet, dense, crispy fried ready to dunk in a chili creamy sauce with crab. I would eat that dish again.... any time, any time.

This isn't my picture, but it looks like our dish did that night. I wish I had a photo of the bread...

Here's a couple more images of Singapore that day.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Cherries Jubilee Martini

Not everyone has had Cherries Jubilee before... but wow, what a glorious dessert!
Canned black cherries mixed with brandy, flambeed and served over vanilla ice cream. My Mom used to make this for us for special occasions and holidays.  A chafing dish, home canned cherries, and a little cooking flair to make your little girls "ooh" and "ahh".  It's not a dessert you hear too much about these days, but I know it would still be a big hit with friends today.  Now, I just have to get my hands on some home canned cherries....

This little martini might just elicit some "ooh's and aah's" as well.  I've made it twice in the past couple weeks, once for my hubby, who is a major cherry lover, and once for my sister; they both gave all the enthusiastic responses.  You know what that means?  Yep they will be invited to partake again as official martini taste testers! OXOXO

Serves 2

4 jiggers vodka (vanilla or whipped cream vodka would be good options too!)
2 jiggers cherry brandy
3 jiggers black cherry juice
2 jiggers lemon lime soda

A float of whip cream, if desired.

Mix the vodka, cherry brandy and the black cherry juice together in a cocktail shaker of ice.  Shake, shake, shake. Pour in a glass and add a float of cream, if desired.  I tried it both ways, both are truly enjoyable.

My advice, have one... only one. It's dessert, folks!

Here are some of my most popular (and favorite martinis):

Blackberry Raindrop Martini
Coconut Water Martini
Honey Badger Martini

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Prawns with Creamy Habanero Sauce

Spicy and creamy, the perfect addition to slightly sweet grilled prawns. This recipe is really all about the sauce, because grilled prawns are an easy basic, but this sauce takes it to a whole 'nother level!

I had this dish at a local restaurant called The Matador.  I loved it, and wanted to recreate it at home.  When I Googled the recipe, I found a couple that were called Habanero Cream sauce, but they just didn't look right.

What I created was so simple and delicious that we served this with our prawns for an appetizer (as shown) but also had it with our steaks too!  I think this sauce would be fantastic on pasta or as a creamy enchilada sauce too.

I used 3/4 chicken stock and only 1/4 cream to make it a bit healthier.  By adding the corn tortilla's as a thickener, it give it a great taste that lends itself to the chili pepper and also gives it some creamy consistency.

If you are worried that it will be too hot and spicy, you could add the habanero in larger pieces and remove them before you blend the mixture.  I will admit to using two habanero's in my first batch and realizing that it was too hot for even me! So I picked out one pepper before mixing it and it was just right. I figure if you are a spicy wimp then  you are probably not looking at this recipe anyways, right?

So this is what I came up with.

Makes about 2 1/2 cups

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 habanero, chopped (remove seeds)
1 roasted red pepper, chopped (about 1/3 cup)
1 1/2 cup chicken broth
4 corn tortillas, chopped
1/2 cup cream

Rough chop the onions, garlic, roasted red pepper and habanero.  You probably should use some latex gloves, or a a plastic bag on your hands to chop that pepper.  And wash your cutting board and knife right away too!

Over medium heat, saute the onions, garlic and peppers in the olive oil until they soften.

Add the chopped corn tortillas and the chicken stock and bring to a boil, cooking until the tortillas are soft and starting to fall apart, about 5 minutes.

Blend over the highest setting on your blend and process until it is totally smooth.  Add the cream and blend a bit more.  The sauce should be as smooth as possible.

Reheat gently and serve on a plate, topped with grilled prawns.

Oh yeah, so excited about the sauce, I almost forgot to talk about the prawns!

4-5 prawns per person, skewered and brushed with oil.
Grill over medium high heat, serve at once on a plate of warmed sauce.
Top with a little chopped cilantro.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Apricot Amaretto Bread & Butter Pudding

I love bread pudding... for breakfast, afternoon snack or dessert. 
I had a leftover loaf of Italian sliced bread from Trader Joe's.  It's a great dense bread that just said "make bread pudding with me"!
This one is creamy and delicious with almond flavoring and jam.
The fragrance of this is amazing!
Basically, I made jam and butter sandwiches and layered them up in a baking pan! I still wanted the cubed and crispy top, so I did top it with cubes of bread also.  
I served it with a little sauce made of warmed up apricot jam, thinned with a little Amaretto, then poured over the top.  Oh yeah... it was 'over the top'!

I was really torn over making this with Almonds and Cherry jam, or Apricot jam.  Both would be equally delicious, use what you have.  You know... got it? Cook it!

I made this the night before and let it soak up the custard overnight.  It was ready to bake in the morning for a breakfast with some overnight guests.  Add eggs and bacon, and breakfast is ready. 

One note, if you like to serve perfect squares of this bread pudding, let it sit and cool for 30-45 minutes before serving.  If you try to take it out of the oven and serve it right away, then it kinda falls apart.  Believe me, I know.  Still tastes great though. 

Makes a 9x9 pan, serves 6-8

1 cup apricot jam (or peach, or nectarine)..... or more.
2 cups half n' half, or whole milk
3 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1 large loaf of dense french or Italian salad, sliced.
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tsp almond flavoring
1/4 cup Amaretto, divided in half

Sliced bread (I cut off most of the crust...) layered up with apricot jam in between,  and butter one side of the sandwich.  Layer them up in the pan, making sure to fill in any gaps with more sandwiches cut to fit.

I could have even done a better job filling this in.... Oh well.

In a large bowl, beat the three eggs with the sugar, then add the half and half, almond flavoring and half of the Amaretto.  Pour over the top of the bread and jam.  Tell sit and soak in for at least an hour, or even over night.

Preheat the oven to 375.
Bake for about 60 minutes, or until the top starts to look golden bread.  Top with a little of the glaze (recipe below) and some sliced almonds.  Bake another 5-10 minutes until the almonds get a little golden.

Apricot Almond Glaze-
1/2 cup apricot jam
2-3 Tbsp Amaretto

In a small saucepan, warm the apricot jam until it melts, add the Amaretto and mix.  
Serve with the bread pudding.

Here's another of my favorite bread pudding recipes:

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Margarita Ice Cream

You don't see ice cream recipes with tequila in it that much...
Darn shame that.
You really need to try Margarita ice cream... tangy, creamy, cold and refreshing with some nice, real margarita flavoring. It IS rich, so small servings are probably needed!
And need I mention it?
Probably not the flavor that you would want to serve to kids...

I hate to have a recipe lurking about in 'draft' mode waiting, waiting waiting to be made, finally after almost a year and a half, I have a reason, the weather and all the ingredients on hand! This one came from Nigella Lawson, but for some reason she doesn't use an ice cream maker, just freezes the mixture.

Thank you to our friend Chrissy for hosting last night, what a blast we had laughing with the boys and enjoying your beautiful house on a Summer's evening!

(I should have shown two cans of sweetened condensed milk!)

Serves 8

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
6 large egg yolks
2 cans sweetened condensed milk
7 Tbsp tequila
2 Tbsp Grand Marnier (Triple Sec or Cointreau- orange liqueurs)
Juice of 5- 6 limes and zest of 1, about 1/2 cup

Zest your lime, and squeeze the rest; set aside.  Separate the eggs, retaining the egg whites for another use.  Pre-measure the tequila and Grand Marnier and add it to the lime juice mixture.

Over medium heat, slowly heat the cream by whisking until it is quite warm and bubbles start to appear around the edges. Remove from heat.

In a small container, beat the egg yolks, and while stirring them, slowly add a bit of the hot cream to the eggs.  Add a bit more, mixing the whole time.  Add this now "tempered" egg mixture back to the saucepan of hot cream and continue whisking over medium heat until it starts to thicken, about 3-4 minutes.

Remove from heat and leave to cool for a little bit, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the condensed milk, tequila and orange-flavored liqueur, lime juice and zest,mixing thoroughly and then cool completely. Refrigerating the mixture for 2-3 hours.

If you are short on time, you could put your pan, or bowl, in a sink filled with ice and some water.  Stirring to bring down the temperature more quickly.

Using an ice cream maker, add the mixture to the pre- iced container and mix according to your instructions.  I have a double Cuinsinart maker and it takes about 20-30 minutes to freeze it to a soft serve. This recipe filled both containers.

It will be firmer if you make it and freeze it ahead of time.  Put it in a plastic covered container and throw it in the freezer for another 2-3 hours before you want to serve it, or even overnight.

Serve in margarita glasses rimmed with sugar.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Gram's Carrot Cake

I've made this cake so many times in my life. 
I made it for multiple wedding cakes for people I LOVE.... for birthdays, office gatherings, anything that needs a little celebrating.  Today I made it for my BFF's birthday party.  I made her this carrot cake into her wedding cake too.  Lots of people save the top small layer of their wedding cakes to eat a year later on their first anniversary, and even though I told her that the top layer wouldn't be very good eating after a year in the freezer, she assures me it was "the best".
Always cook for people who are enthusiastic... that's the best feeling ever.

I usually customize the recipe for the person we are celebrating... haven't you noticed how some people don't like coconut, some don't like nuts (!) and some don't like raisins?  I have made this cake without each of those, but I do prefer to make it with ALL of them. It's up to you.

This recipe comes from my grandma, "Gram".  I copied it carefully on a index card when I was 17 years old as I went off to Scotland as an exchange student for a year.  I'm not sure what my Scottish family thought of it, as veggies in cake was kind of progressive back then for the UK. My Gram wasn't the world's best cook, but her baking was pretty fabulous.    I'm showing the cake above on the Fenton glass cake plate that she loved, and I inherited.
Thanks Gram... we love you and miss you.

Makes 1 double layer 8-9" cake, 9x13 sheet cake or about 24 cupcakes

3 cups flour
2 tsp. Baking soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
2-3 tsp. Cinnamon
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 cups grated carrots
1- 8oz. can crushed pineapple w/liquid
1 cup nuts and/or raisins
2 tsp. Vanilla

Sift all dry ingredients together, mix all wet ingredients together in a separate bowl.  Slowly mix one mix into the other.  Pour into a 9x13 pan, or 2 round cake pans.  Bake about 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees. I used three 8 inch cake pans, so my layers were thinner, and they cooked in about 28-30 minutes---- don't overcook, you want this cake moist!

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8-oz. packages cream cheese, at almost room temperature
1 cup salted butter at almost room temperature
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract

Whip together the cream cheese, butter, and extract until light and fluffy. Add in the powdered sugar and whip until smooth and fully incorporated. Refrigerate any leftovers (or anything you’ve frosted that doesn’t get eaten immediately).

Happy Birthday Rose! There were a bunch of candles, so it was a community effort on the candle lighting...

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

4th of July Salad Ideas- Top 10

It's Fourth of July, I hope you are going to someone else's house tomorrow!?!
After year's of having the party at my house,I love going to someone else's house!
It's especially funny that I am going to our OLD house where my niece and her family reside.  I love that she has carried on the tradition.  It wasn't me that told her to do it, but the neighbors.  Love those neighbors!  Best news is that we can walk home after the festivities.

Be a great guest, bring a big salad that is big enough for a crowd and doesn't need any special attention. Nothing with mayo or meat that will give someone salmonella.... just easy to make, eat and enjoy.

Always come to the party with everything already ready to go... none of "assembling it there" (hostesses hate that!) and heck, bring your own serving utensils too!

Oh yeah.... take your stuff home too, don't leave your dirty stuff for the hostess...

My favorite salads for Summer picnic or BBQ:
Couscous Black Bean Salad

Spicy Coleslaw- - #1 Salad on my blog!


Grilled Greek Potato Salad

Greek Panzanella Bread Salad

Quinoa, Cauliflower and Feta Salad

Southwestern Edamame Salad ... the most homely picture on my blog, but the first salad I ever posted in Nov 2010.
Quinoa with Roasted Corn and Green Beans