Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Orange Marmalade-Stuffed French Toast

My husband banned us from the Crest Cafe in Hillcrest--if you want to know why, you need to ask him--which, I don't mind because their food is so rich and fattening, but I do sometimes miss their incredibly luscious breakfasts. One of my all-time favorite breakfast dish from the Crest Cafe is their orange marmalade French toast. It's sinful; it's stuffed with cream cheese; and you will definitely need a nap afterwards. Since I could not find their recipe, I found one suspiciously similar in Gourmet magazine...hmmmmm?!?!? I think this recipe will also work with challah or brioche bread.

INGREDIENTS (Makes 4 servings)

  • 8 thick bread slices (about 1 inch thick)
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup orange marmalade
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • Orange Syrup or your favorite maple syrup

Preheat oven to 300°F.

Place baking sheet in oven. Cutting through top crust of each bread slice, make 4-inch-long by 2-inch-deep pocket. Stir cream cheese and marmalade in small bowl. Spoon 1 generous tablespoonful cream cheese mixture into each bread pocket.

Whisk eggs, milk, vanilla extract, cinnamon and nutmeg in pie plate.

Dip 4 stuffed bread slices into egg mixture, coating completely. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add dipped bread to skillet. Cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer French toast to baking sheet in oven. Repeat dipping and cooking with remaining 4 bread slices, egg mixture and 1 tablespoon butter. Serve with Orange Syrup.

Recipe courtesy of Bon Appétit, March 1998

Monday, April 23, 2007

Arroz Con Pollo

arroz con pollo
My mom makes the best arroz con pollo. I tried to mimic her recipe and it came out pretty good, despite the fact that she wasn’t around to supervise me—she was in Hawaii!!! You do not have to use gandules (pigeon peas) in the rice like I did, but that's how my mom usually makes this dish. You can substitute with sliced green olives, or even regular frozen peas would work (I would add them during the last 10 minutes of cooking, though).

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

  • 8 pieces of mixed chicken pieces (such as thighs, drumsticks, breast and/or wings)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tbsp. Goya Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1½ cups Long Grain Rice
  • 1 cup onion, finely diced
  • 3 cups homemade chicken stock or good quality low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 packet Sazón Goya with Azafrán
  • 1 (8oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 can Goya Gandules (Pigeon peas)
  • Handful of Sliced Pimientos (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (optional)

  1. Generously season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a large heavy pot, heat oil on medium-high. Cook the chicken, in batches if necessary, until brown on all sides. Set aside.
  2. In the same pot, stir in garlic cloves and rice and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, until rice turns into a light golden brown. Add the diced onion and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
  3. Stir the sazón packet and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the tomato sauce, chicken broth, and gandules and bring to a boil.
  4. Add the chicken into the pot. Stir, cover, and reduce heat to low, and simmer for 20 - 25 minutes or until rice is tender. Stir in the chopped cilantro during the last minute of cooking, if using.
  5. To serve, fluff rice and garnish with pimiento strips.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Dry-Rubbed Skirt Steak

I was watching iconoclasts on the Sundance Channel the other night and they had Chef Mario Batali interview of Michael Stipe of REM. I was pleasantly surprised with the show and the interview. But the show got me thinking that I had never tried any of chef Batali's recipes. So I went online and looked for a non-pasta recipe from him and found this dry-rubbed skirt steak. What's so great about it, you ask? The man uses ground dry porcini mushrooms in the rub. The best part is that you can either grill outdoors, or make it in your broiler. Serve it atop an baby green salad. Manga!

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon finely ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup dry porcini mushrooms, ground to a fine powder in a spice grinder
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds skirt steak, trimmed of fibrous fat
  • Best-quality extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • Best-quality balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
  1. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, salt, garlic, red pepper flakes, pepper, mushroom powder, and olive oil and stir well to form a thick, fairly dry paste. Rub the past all over the steak, coating it evenly, and refrigerate, wrapped in plastic for 12 hours or overnight.
  2. Pre-heat the grill or broiler and remove the steak from the refrigerator and brush off the excess marinade with a paper towel. Cook on the hottest part of the grill for four minutes on one side then turn carefully with tongs and cook three minutes on the other side. dry-rubbed skirt steak on the grill
  3. Allow the steak to rest for three to five minutes, then slice against the grain. Drizzle with the olive oil and the balsamic vinegar and serve immediately.
Recipe courtesy of Mario Batali copyright © 2003.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Chicken Tikka Masala

chicken tikka masala
The best thing about living in Boston (besides the Red Sox, pubs in every corner and not having to own a car <-pronounced: CAH-r), was the incredible and extremely diverse food available there. Fortunately, one of my roommates was of Indian heritage and so my education in all-things curry began. My all-time favorite Indian cosine is chicken korma, samosas, their infamous naan bread, and of course, chicken tikka masala. Tikka masala is slightly spicier than chicken korma, but very delicious. If you want to pair wine with any Indian dish, a tangy Pinot Grigio or even a spicy Riesling would go do the trick. And remember, don't forget the naan bread. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS (serves 6)


  • 4 whole boneless chicken breasts, skin removed and cut into strips or cubes
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 2-inch piece of fresh gingerroot, peeled and minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoons oil or ghee
  • 1-inch piece ginger-root, peeled and minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce (you can use canned diced tomatoes if you want a more chunky sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • Salt to taste
  • About 1 cup heay cream
  • Chopped fresh cilantro

To make marinade: Combine all marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Add chicken and toss to coat. Marinate for 1 to 2 hours.

Preheat a gas grill (you can use your broiler if you don't want to grill). Thread the chicken on skewers, and grill, turning, until chicken is cooked, about 5 minutes per side. Discard the marinade. Remove chicken skewers from heat, then remove chicken from skewers and set aside.

To make sauce: Heat one tablespoons oil in a skillet. Add the ginger and garlic, and sauté until golden but not browned. Add the onions, and sauté until soft and golden brown. Stir in the cumin, coriander, curry powder and salt, and cook for another 5 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce and cream.

Simmer on low heat until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Add grilled chicken, and simmer for 10 minutes more. Transfer to a serving platter, and garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve the chicken tikka masala over basmati rice. YUMMERS!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Moros y Cristianos (Cuban Style Black Beans & Rice)

Lindsey's Moros y Cristianos
This dish is always a big hit at parties. The combination of black beans, rice and ground beef is such a sinful, yet healthy, combination. This dish is a staple in Cuba and it's extremely popular in Florida—especially in Miami.

My sister-in-law found this recipe in a Recipezaar and in order to make the dish slightly less healthy, she used ground beef instead of the crumbled turkey sausage that the original recipe calls for. And if you want to make it even more flavorful, try using bulk Italian sausage. In my opinion, Mona Lisa deli has the best bulk sausage in San Diego. Buen provecho!

INGREDIENTS (10 servings)

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (you want 1 cup of chopped onions)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup tomato sauce
  • 1 (15 3/4 ounce) can chicken broth
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 ½ to 2 lb. cooked crumbled ground beef or bulk Italian sausage
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1 cup diced green bell peppers
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cups cooked white rice
  • Cilantro, for garnish
  • parmesan cheese (optional)

Heat oil in pan and sauté onion and garlic for 2 minutes.

Add tomato sauce and broth and bring to boil.

Add next seven ingredients (beans through bay leaf) and bring to boil.

Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Discard bay leaf before serving; place the cooked white rice in a large serving bowl or platter and top serve the bean-sausage mixture over rice; gently toss to combine and sprinkle parmesan cheese, if desired, and add cilantro for garnish.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Linguine with Shrimp and Peas

It saddens me that when I go on a diet, my blog has to suffer. Yes, unfortunately I have not been doing any "fancy" cooking lately. I've just been sticking with salads, and the frozen lean cuisine meals. I know, I know what you're thinking; that I can probably cook healthy meals for myself, but since Matt is in Minnesota, it has been very difficult to motivate myself to cook. However, I am happy to announce that this past weekend my tia decided to cook and I was invited over for dinner. My tia Mary, as we all call her, is an interesting character in the Diva's life.

She's my mom's sister; married an Italian whom she is now divorcing; and has two beautiful children, which I call Ying and Yang: One is very dark, and the other very white. Nevertheless, the wonderful thing is that my tia learned how to cook real Italian food. The recipe below is actually one that she learned from one of her ex's family members. She used a San Marzano tomato sauce, which is unlike any tomato sauce I've ever tasted. This dish is satisfying and it's a great Italian comfort food you'll enjoy.

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

  • 2 lb. package dried linguine pasta
  • 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups fresh San Marzano tomato sauce (or your favorite marinara sauce)
  • 12 olives, pitted and sliced
  • 1 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • Grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions.

In the meantime, sauté garlic in olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until garlic is soft, about 1 minute. Add tomato sauce, olives, peas and shrimp; cook, stirring, 5 to 7 minutes or until shrimp are opaque and cooked through. Make sure you do not overcook the shrimp. Remove from heat.

Add the pasta to the tomato-shrimp mixture; tossing to coat evenly. Place pasta onto individual serving plates and serve immediately. Top with Parmesan cheese.