Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Homemade Ravioli

There are many different types of Ravioli, and I love homemade Chinese dumplings.    They are so much alike and yet so different, and I appreciate the differences to make my gastronomic experience so much more interesting.   While making the Siberian Pelmeni, I end up with extra meat to make them into Ravioli my way.  My ravioli is filled with 50% ground beef, 25% ground pork, 25% eggplants, some bokchoy and spices topped with homemade tomato sauce and homegrown basil.

Jasmine Fried Rice with Beets Greens, Onions, and Raisins

One of the advantages in learning Mediterranean cooking is to use some of the ingredients that you would never thought of adding to the 'white rice' that you maybe so use to eating.    I have fried rice before and many times with different types of ingredients.    But once I learned the new methods of preparing the rice - risotto way, paella way, pilaf way, then, the varieties of ingredients that I started to experiment with have increased quite a bit.    I never thought of eating the Beets Greens.     After I chop off the greens off the top of the beets that I am preparing to make my salad, I just threw away the greens.     One of the unfounded reasons I had in my head is because of the color of the stem of the beets greens - red.  (If its yellow beets, the stems are yellow.)   So, thinking that it maybe similar to Rhubarb, leaves are toxic, I never thought of researching and has been tossing the good greens.    Well, this time, I tried it.     I sauteed them with onions and garlic.    Then, added jasmine rice to stir fry - Pilaf method.  Added some raisins and my new dish is created.

Roasted Butternut Squash and KAKI (Persimmons)

I have been trying to come up with a recipe to cook with Japanese Persimmons - KAKI.    It seems that all the recipes that I came across always seems to use a lot of cinnamon or other spices that seems to overpower the natural taste of the persimmons.    KAKI in natural state - raw is wonderful to eat, especially when they are ripened to its peak moment on the tree.    Of course, there is a loss in doing so.    I have a personal experience this winter, while waiting for 7 out of 70 KAKI blossoms that turned into beautiful mature FUYU KAKI.    Medium size non-astringent KAKI.    I waited and waited for the right moment to pick.    Then, one day when I went out there, I counted only 6.   I noticed the whole entire KAKI has disappeared from the branch left with only the stem still attached to the branch.    In panic, I took one off and ate it.    The sugar and starch have started to mature and have started to form the beautiful brown lines in the flesh.    For the 5 I have left, I decided to give it another day or two to ripen some more.    But alas!  the very next day I went to check, the bird has eaten an entire half side of the KAKI leaving a wonderful Bird Art again for me to just wonder - just how do they know that they are just so perfect for their beaks to penetrate those sweet flesh.      All right, my turn.   I cropped the final 4 and half.   The next evening, I acquired some extra butternut squash that someone didn't want.     I started to prepare to roast them in the small covered roaster pan.     Then, the color of the butternut squash reminded me of the KAKI.     Why not roast them, too?   Thus far, all the roasted vegetables and fruits and nuts and olives in the Mediterranean cooking have turned out great.  Why not roast the butternut squash with the KAKI, I thought.    So, I tried it.     I added, just a small handful of chopped celery tossed with pinch of poultry herbs; cut up the butternut squash and sliced the KAKI.    Added some Olive oil and baked for 45 minutes in 375'F gas oven..... Then, I decided to squeeze one large lemon juice to spike up the ... rather bland, yet sweet taste of butternut squash and 'not so sure' taste of KAKI when cooked with the usual heavy spices like the cinnamon and nutmeg, etc.    The result:  I think it turned out great and worth making it again.   The tangy lemon juice covered the roasted butternut squash and intensified the squash flavor dancing on the tongue with a hint of herb flavors and celery.    When you bite into the KAKI, it complimented the squash with its soft fruity taste and you want to take another bite to see if it's really KAKI that you just had.     It is a new fun experience eating the KAKI this way.

Polly's Piggy Scallops

Sometimes, the worst time to cook is when you are soooo hungry.    Your mind wants to do short cut in every way to get that food into the mouth.    I tried to come up with a way to make my Piggy Scallops.   Well, I didn't think and couldn't wait.   After wrapping my scallops with bacon, I started to sear it in the saute pan.   That didn't work out quite well with the bacon.   It was not getting crispy.   Normally, we bake the Piggy Scallops.   The bacon will brown quite nicely in the oven cooking.   But what if you wanted to use the saute pan?    Well, I had to unwrap the bacons off the scallops.   Then, grilled them in the George Foreman's hamburger maker.    Crisp it up and get rid of some of the extra fat, and rewrap them around the scallops.   The great seafood flavor - UMAMI of the scallops were pleasantly enveloped in the blanket of piggy without the need for additional seasoning. 

Melons Confit et Oranges Confit - Candied Melons and Oranges

In preparation to make Calisson (Calisson d'AIX wannabe), I started by making the melons confit.   While I do not have the same type of melons from Cavaillon, France, and with Cantaloupes in quarantine, this summer, I ventured to make the melons confit with honey dew and some watermelon rinds.   The formula is 2-1/4 lb of melons to 1 kilos or 5 Cups of sugar.



 Crystallization forming

Candied Clementines - "Oranges Confit".    I have never made these candied fruits before.    While doing the research at some of the French websites related to Calisson d'AIX, oranges confit or fruite confit of Apt, France has given me inspiration to try them at home.    These do not look anything like the ones made so beautifully in Apt, France, but I will keep trying, and maybe one day they will look just as good.    But for my purpose to to make the Calisson d'Aix wannabe, these candied oranges and melons .... I think will work out fine.   

Remove from the syrup and air dry on a wire rack for a few days.  If you want to crystallize the sugar, repeat the heating process each day for 3 days by heating the syrup to quick boil for 1 minutes with the clementines in it.     Remove and air dry, and repeat.  Dry for a couple of weeks, then, store in a sterilized Mason jar.
I also made the candied orange peels from the navel orange peels without the pith.

My First Greek Galatomboureko

After learning some Greecian food preparation in my class, I knew exactly what to do with my phyllo leaves that I have in my freezer.   I fell in love with this Galatomboureko.  Never thought that cream of wheat could taste so good by becoming the center of attraction in this sweet creamy custard wrapped in buttery phyllo leaves drizzled with lemon fragranted simple syrup.  So simple and so different from some of the sweet desserts that I have tasted.    I made another one right away for my family and shared one with the neighbor. Learning the Mediterranean Cooking has really opened my pantry to milliards of different spices and possibilities in eating well.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


It is so much fun to watch everyone's facial expression when they spot their favorite childhood junk food being served at the party.   It does not need any introduction.    It is like an invisible phenomena, their body just automatically and quietly like an invisible man make its way to the dish.    For my family member's birthday party, I made a bunch of MITARASHI YAKI DANGO.   I thought I made enough of them to serve 3 sticks per person, 3 balls per stick, but I was two short.   But it all worked out at the end. 
I used 1 Tb cookie scoop to control the portion size.

 Add the potato starch slurry into the MITARASHI syrup.   Stir continuously and gently until Very thick syrup forms.

 Coat the DANGO that has been slightly Grilled - I grilled them on the teflon pan at medium low heat.   
For the recipe - how to make this DANGO and which rice flour to use, please go to: