Monday, January 23, 2012

Cherry Empanada and Arancini and Guacamole

Snack Attack!?  during the football game....  but my commitment is to use whatever I have in the kitchen.... So, I came up with Cherry Empanada made with Flour Tortilla and canned Cherry Pie filling.     Deep fry it.   Coat them with Ceylon Cinnamon and sugar mixture.    Oh, yes!  it is delicious.      It is one of my recipe that I prepared for my children for easy snack.     It's my turn to treat myself.

 And yes! those frozen Suppli al Telefono that I prepared a month ago for the just in case... snack.   I defrosted them, dipped in beaten egg and coated them with the bread crumbs.     Voila, another satisfying snacks.

 And while at it, why not cut 1 or 2 flour tortilla into strips and deep fry them?  Make my own chips.   Mash those Avocado, add some lime juice, finely chopped onions, cilantro.    Uh, huh... it is good.


Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken Breast with Dijon and Candied Oranges

Testing what else can I make with the existing ingredients I find in my kitchen.

Cooking it slowly with all the wonderful flavorful ingredients produced moist tasty chicken.     I was very satisfied with the tangy sweet taste infused by the sun-dried tomatoes and candied oranges.   Dijon mustard under the skin, added a coat to protect from the moisture loss for the 45 minutes that I was cooking this single chicken breast.   45 minutes?!  sounds crazy, but yep, it was cooking gently to it's perfection.    I packed it as my lunch for the next day.     That was really  a good lunch.

Rice Chex French Toast Coming Right Up!

This is a concoction of a hungry guy in a hurry.     A day old Sourdough bread slices dipped in beaten eggs and milk.    Then coated with Rice Chex and cooked in fry pan with butter.
Serve with your favorite syrup.

 Anyway you look at it - just eat it!  it is crunchy delicious!

Polly's Tabbouleh

 Why do I call some of the menu with "Polly's"?   because I added extra ingredients that are not normally added in the type of recipes.    This Tabbouleh included Japanese FUYU KAKI (persimmon) and navel oranges.    Anything that I can find in my kitchen.     I think it turned out very good.     I never thought of eating the curly parsley other than using them as garnish, but the lemon juice, garlic, onions, and olive oil dressing really brought out the gentle flavor of parsley.    Cilantro, Bulger, KAKI, and oranges made it a filling colorful dish.

 Enjoy with a slice of homebaked Ciabatta bread toasted in olive oil.

BA-BAO FUN - Chinese Eight Treasure Rice

For the longest time, I wanted to try making this.    It was one of the dessert dish that I always wondered how it is made.     It is so pretty with all the dates and dried fruits and nuts cut into flower shapes or in other form and artfully placed all around the sweet (glutinous) rice.    At the center of it all is yet another surprise - sweet red beans.     It is normally served at the large banquet party at the end of the course meal.    I don't see it served at the Chinese restaurants over here in the States.     My first experience is at the large multi-family banquet while living in Japan.    After 12 some dishes of wonderful colorful servings of varieties of meat and vegetable dishes all made from scratch by every women of the families in the kitchen, Ba-Bao Fun is served.    I always look for the Jujube dates and Longan - 'dragon's eyes' in it.    They are my favorites.   They are more like Northern province dessert than the south, 'I think'.   I have not done my homework, yet, to find out, because I have not seen it served often at the banquets held in South Viet-Nam (or here in the States.)     While my version does not include the normal LONGAN, cooked Ginko nuts, rehydrated and precooked Lotus nuts, peeled/roasted peanuts, and maraschino cherry, Jujube dates, peeled walnuts, red beans, Gwei Hwa, e.g. and long-grain sweet glutinous rice from Thailand .....  I included the Jujube, golden raisins, walnuts, cranberries, candied oranges (homemade) that I have in my pantry.      The result?   for the first timer, it turned out ... let's say A- for the taste.      I need to work on the fruits and nuts arrangement better the next time.

Jujube fruits - naturally air dried over the summer.        Rehydrate it a bit with some water and steam it in the microwave.

Arrange anything you like in a buttered or oiled bowl.     Oil is to help with releasing / unmolding of the 'sticky' rice when done.

Sweet glutinous rice is washed and kept hydrated overnight or for 4 hours min.       Then, cook it  -  If you have "Zojirushi" brand atomic rice cooker, set the 'menu' to "sweet rice".      If you have a regular rice cooker with no menu selection, just cook it normal.      But be aware that "New Crop" rice always need 1/2 cup less water per cup to cook.    (You don't want mushy rice.)   The old fashion way is to Steam cook the Sweet Rice in the Chinese steamer.
After arranging the fruits and nuts in the bowl.     Fill it up with cooked sweet rice in concave shape - hollow center - so you can fill it with red bean paste of your choice.    Then, fill the top up to seal the top.     Press down gently to pack.     Fill with some more sweet rice, if needed.
Place on top of a plate.     Fill with 2 TB or 1/4 C of water and cover with microwaveable cover.
Microwave for 5 minutes.         Place a serving plate on top of the bowl and invert carefully - wear mitten or hold the bowl with towels.    !! be very careful - the bowl if very hot .
Drizzle the the top with the prepared honey syrup/glaze.

Serve warm.

Tips:   if using walnuts, find peeled walnuts or peel walnuts before using. I did not remember to do that and it caused some bitterness.     And had to pick the walnuts out while eating.    Option is to use peel toasted almond and peeled peanuts.

Sparkles of 2012 New Year

Friday, January 06, 2012

Calissons de Polly

During my research for class report I came across another wonderful confectionery.    My report could have been on any of the known pastry or foie gras, but interestingly in the book of Culinaria France, Calissons d'AIX caught my interests.   The region even has Calissons festival each year in September.     As mysterious and delicious as Canneles de Bordeaux to the world, Calissons d'Aix en Provence is another confectionery mystery that I took interest in.    The making of Calissons took several weeks.    First, several homemade candied fruits have to be prepared.... of course, you can buy premade candied fruits somewhere, but I made candied watermelons from my one and only one homegrown watermelon of the year, then made candied honeydews.  Both took a couple of weeks to dry (view my November 2011 blog:; and candied clementines; also homemade almond paste.    Just to make sure that my calissons are like the Calissons d'AIX , I even ordered the authentic confectionery from France, ,, just to make sure.    Calissons d'AIX is served as part of the Thirteen Desserts of Christmas served on the Christmas eve in France.    Each region add their regionally known product as part of the thirteen desserts of Christmas and AIX-en-Provence is famous for Calissons.   My calissons turned out delicious and became an enjoyable favorites at our Christmas treats.


  Butter the aluminum foil and powder with rice flour.   Bake to dry in oven at the lowest temperature 120'F until dry but not 'cracked'... check every 5 minutes.
 I used the small fondant leaf mold to cut out the calisson.    I find the size to be just perfect to enjoy the morsel in one bite.

 Calissons d'AIX Provence par Polly

 Delicious!!  Crisp sugar top - a bite would burst the bitter sweetness of orange flavor from the candied clementine rinds, tanginess dances around the mouth and mellowed out by the mellony taste from the candied watermelon and honeydew, all brought together by the nutty almond paste with the blessing of the rice wafer.