Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Easy Lime Curd Ice Box Cake

Ever since I got knocked up, my nausea caused my culinary adventures to be on hold for a while (hence, not too many recipes lately in case you didn't notice). But, thankfully I'm over the first trimester, and I also lost weight to boot!!!

Now, my appetite is slowly coming back and I'm slowly starting to eat more meat. Nevertheless, I noticed that I'm getting more of a sweet tooth now, too, which is weird because I am not a dessert person. So I decided to make this super easy, but quite rich and sweet, dessert. I have no idea what it's really called, nor do I know where it came from, but pretty much every mom in Latin America knows how to make this and I figured since I'm going to be a mommy soon, I better learn how to make it, too.


  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 3/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 5 limes)
  • 2 teaspoons lime zest, divided
  • 1 package galletas Marias (these cookies are found in the Hispanic grocery isle)
  • 2 of the cookies, crumbled

Place the sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk in a blender. Start blending the milks on medium-high while slowly pouring the fresh lime juice. Keep blending until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Add 1 teaspoon of lime zest and blend to combine. Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes to thicken slightly more.

In a glass, 8x8x5 pan place a layer of the cookies, then pour 1/3 of the lime curd. Do this two more times, ending with the lime curd. Mix the cookie crumbs with the remaining lime zest and sprinkle over the dessert. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in freezer for 2 to 3 hours.

Serve right out of the freezer; cut into small squares (this is a very rich dessert) and garnish with lime wedges, if desired.

Calories: a gazilion. Fat: YES!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Pappardelle with Slow-Braised Leeks and Crispy Porcini Pangrattato

I bought a bunch of nice looking leeks at the farmer's market this weekend, and when I got home I didn't know what to do with them. Sometimes I'm one of those food shoppers that buys interesting or weird looking foods or vegetables if they're on sale. Anyway, I got some suggestions for leeks soup and vichyssoise, but I decided to try this pappardelle recipe with braised leeks. The original recipe (below) comes from Jamie Oliver, however I cut it down by 1/3 since it's just me and the peanut right now. I also used pancetta because I could not find Parma ham.


  • 5 big leeks, outer leaves trimmed back, washed
  • Olive oil
  • 3 good knobs butter, divided
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
  • A few sprigs fresh thyme, leaves picked
  • A small wineglass white wine
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pint good-quality vegetable or chicken stock
  • 12 slices ham, preferably Parma
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages fresh lasagne sheets
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • 2 handfuls freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
  • 1 small handful dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1/2 ciabatta bread, preferably stale, cut into chunks
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary

Halve the leeks lengthways and cut at an angle into 1/2-inch slices and place in a large bowl of water to clean. Pat dry with a paper towel. Heat a wide saucepan, add a teaspoon of oil and a knob of butter, and when you hear a gentle sizzling add the sliced garlic, thyme leaves and leeks. Move the leeks around so every piece gets coated. Pour in the wine, season with pepper and stir in the stock. Cover the leeks with the slices of Parma ham, place a lid on the pan and cook gently for 25 to 30 minutes. Once the leeks are tender, take the pan off the heat.

To make the pangrattato:

Whiz the mushrooms and bread with a pinch of salt and pepper in a food processor until the mixture looks like bread crumbs. Heat a generous tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan. Add the garlic cloves and the rosemary and cook for a minute, then fry the bread crumbs in the oil until golden and crisp. Keep shaking the pan - don't let the bread crumbs catch on the bottom. Drain on paper towels, discard the rosemary and garlic and allow the bread crumbs to cool.

Bring a big pan of salted water to the boil. Lay the lasagne sheets on a clean working surface and sprinkle with a little flour. Place the sheets on top of each other and slice into 1/2-inch strips. Toss through your fingers to shake out the pappardelle, then cook in the boiling water 2 minutes or until al dente.

Remove the Parma ham from the saucepan, slice up and stir back into the leeks. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then stir in the Parmesan and the rest of the butter. Drain the pasta, reserving a little of the cooking water, and add the pasta to the leeks. Add a little of the cooking water if need be, to give you a silky, smooth sauce. Serve quickly, sprinkled with some pangrattato, extra Parmesan and any leftover thyme tips. Serve the rest of the pangrattato in a bowl on the side.

Friday, March 27, 2009

My Pizza Obsession

Ever since we got our cob-oven, I've been obsessed with the perfect pizza. To me, a perfect pizza is thin crust that is crispy on the outside and slightly chewy in the center. It has to have just the right amount of pizza sauce (and the perfect pizza sauce, of course), 100% mozzarella, a little bit of fresh basil and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. But I think the two most important components of the perfect pizza is the pizza dough and the pizza sauce.

I made the two components below: the dough recipe comes from Andrew Green from the April 2009 Food & Wine magazine. And I came up with the pizza sauce recipe. You can always tweak the sauce to your liking, but I made it the way I like my sauce: tangy, slightly sweet with just hints of spices. Also, since I'm not allowed to use the cob-oven while my husband is not here, I made the pizza in a super hot oven, and it almost comes out as crispy and delish as it would in a cob or wood-fired oven.

Pizza Sauce

  • 1 can (1 lb. 12oz) of 6 in 1 All-Purpose Ground Tomatoes (6 in 1 Brand is a MUST!)
  • 1/2 Tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 Tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 Tsp. dried parsley
  • 1/4 Tsp. granulated garlic
  • 1/4 Tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/2 Tsp. Grey sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp. Extra-virgin olive oil

In a glass or plastic container with a lid, combine all ingredients and mix well. Place in the fridge overnight to let the flavors meld together.

Pizza Dough

  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 2 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. confectioner's sugar
  • 1 pkg. rapid rise yeast
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour

In a small sauce pan bring the water to 125 F. Use an instant-read thermometer to monitor temperature. Stir in the salt and sugar and let it dissolve. Next stir in the yeast and olive oil and let it rest at room temperature for 5 minutes until foamy.

In a bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the flour with the yeast mixture at low speed for 10 minutes. Let the pizza dough rest for 10 more minutes, then mix again at low speed for an additional 10 minutes.

Lightly oil a large bowl (ceramic or glass). Transfer the dough to the bowl, cover with a damp towel and let the dough stand in a warm place until doubled, about 2 hours. This batch will make 2 large pizza, or about 4 to 5 individual 7" pizzas.

Margheritta Pizza

  • Pizza dough
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup pizza sauce
  • fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • fresh basil leaves
  • dash of dried oregano
  • good olive oil

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Roll out pizza as thin as you possibly can. Place dough in a pizza pan, lightly dusted with corn meal. Drizzle a little olive oil over the dough, then spread the pizza sauce, leaving about 1/4" border around the pizza. Place the cheese slices over the sauce.

Bake at 500 degrees for 12 to 14 minutes, or until edges of dough are cooked and cheese is bubbly.

Remove from oven and drizzle a little more olive oil and a dash of dried oregano. Sprinkle fresh basil over pizza and let cool a couple of minutes before cutting.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Prosciutto-wrapped Asparagus with Truffle Butter

I subscribe to a foodie newsletter called Gourmet Tastemakers and sometimes they come up with really interesting dishes. I jumped at the idea of this one because I personally love truffles. Of course, I've never had "real" truffles, just truffle oil or truffle butter, but hopefully one of these days I'll actually taste this quite elusive and expensive fungi.

INGREDIENTS (makes 18 to 20 hors d'oeuvres)

  • 1 lb medium asparagus (18 to 20)
  • 1/2 tsp white-truffle oil
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 9 or 10 large thin of baslices prosciutto (1/3 lb)

Prepare a large bowl of ice and cold water. Trim asparagus to 5 inches long, then steam in a steamer over boiling water until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Transfer to cold water to stop cooking. Drain and pat dry. Season with salt.

Stir oil into butter until incorporated.

Cut prosciutto slices into roughly 3- by 3-inch pieces, then thinly coat with truffle butter and place an asparagus stalk at one edge. Roll up, leaving tip and end visible. Repeat with remaining asparagus and prosciutto.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Kermit Shake

My sister-in-law, Lindsey, once mentioned to me that she uses avocados when making smoothies. I figured, why not? Avocados have a very creamy texture and a very delicate, buttery flavor. I came up with this shake after my husband started experiencing joint pain; he needed to get more potassium in his diet. Unfortunately, he hates bananas, so I put this shake together for him and he loved it. Remember to drink within 20 minutes as avocados tend to darken after a while. Enjoy.


  • 1 large ripe banana, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 medium ripe avocado, peeled, seed removed and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cup milk (I used half and half; if you want your shake less creamy, add 1/4 cup more milk)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • A good dash of nutmeg

In a blender add the banana, avocado, and remaining ingredients. Blend on medium for 10 seconds, then on high for 10 more seconds. Serve and enjoy.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Irish Roast Leg of Lamb

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Every time this holiday comes around, it reminds me of our incredible trip we made to Ireland a few years ago. And it brings such wonderful memories, specially memories of us spending time with the Keniry Family (somehow, long lost relations to my husband's family) in Dungourney, Co. Cork. They are farmers and farm everything from potatoes, broccoli to pumpkins. They also have a large flock of sheep, and one of the most special meals we had was leg of lamb, simply roasted with potatoes and carrots. Perhaps it was the people; perhaps it was the air; perhaps it was the Irish spirit, but that was one of the best lamb roasts I have ever had.


  • 3 1/2 Leg of Lamb, de-boned (preferably Irish lamb)
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 3 to 4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 2" pieces
  • 4 potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • Good white wine
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Make around 15 deep slits in the lamb. Push the garlic slices into half of them.
  2. Separate the leaves from the rosemary stalks and push into the remaining slits.
  3. Season lamb liberally with salt and pepper, rubbing well into the skin.
  4. Place the lamb in a roasting pan, then place the potatoes and carrots around the roast.
  5. Pour 3/4 cup of white wine into the pan, then season veggies with salt and pepper.
  6. Cover roast tightly with foil and cook in the oven for 30 minutes.
  7. Reduce the temperature to 350ºF and cook for 1.5 hours, or until the meat is tender. Remove the foil during the last 15 minutes of cooking.
  8. Sprinkle the parsley all over the roast and veggies and garnish with extra rosemary before serving.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Chicken with Asparagus and Roasted Red Peppers

When my brother-in-law was here, he bought chicken and asparagus for us to cook. I kind of had to find a recipe to use these two ingredients. I was thinking chicken rolled up with asparagus, or even a chicken-asparagus pasta, but I found the following recipe to be quite good, specially for those of us watching our weight and/or for people who want more protein in their diet. You can serve this dish with a side of brown or white rice, or even couscous. Or you can cut up the chicken into bite-sized pieces and serve it over penne pasta.

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 pound boned and skinned chicken breast halves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 (7 ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped roma (plum) tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, or to taste
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  1. Heat the broth in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper, and place in the skillet. Cook 15 minutes, until chicken is almost done.
  2. Place asparagus, red peppers and garlic in skillet. Continue cooking 10 minutes, or until chicken juices run clear and asparagus is tender.
  3. Place tomatoes in skillet during last 2 minutes of cook time. Sprinkle with vinegar. Top with mozzarella cheese to serve.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Fun Rainbow Cake

I have not been feeling well; I have been suffering from migraines lately, so I've put my spatula down for a while and have not been cooking much. I was feeling much better today after staying home for the day and just laying in a dark room. After finally being able to sleep I woke up ravished, but for something sweet. I searched the web for a recipe and I found this incredible rainbow cake from Aleta Meadowlark from the deliciously written food blog Omnomicon. Click here to see the whole process of making this fabulous cake. She has some incredible pics of the recipe.

I'm thinking that I might make this awesome, yet groovy looking cake for my niece's first birthday. It looks very fun and I specially love the colors.

Speaking of cakes, I made the chocoflan again several weeks ago, and this cake still baffles me. I wish the show "Good Eats" would explain why this cake works. I mean, you place the cake batter then a wetter, custard batter on top (see pic below),

yet when it comes out, the flan forms at the bottom and chocolate cake goodness remains moist. The original chocoflan recipe is here.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Fried Veggies, Cretian Style

My husband is currently in Crete for work. I hope that I get to visit him there in the near future because Greek food is one my top 5 favorite foods of all time. I especially love how Greeks eat a lot of veggies and greens and fish, and rarely eat any meat. Of course they also drink wine like there's no tomorrow and rarely ever use butter...olive oil is the way of life there. So no wonder they live very long and healthy lives.

Matthew went out to the local market in Chania, Crete and he found a local vendor selling fresh cuttlefish and fried veggies. This is fried vegetable recipe is quite common in Greece and its islands, and as Matthew told me, "if all moms in the US cooked their vegetables this way, kids would eat them up!"

INGREDIENTS (Serves 4 as a side dish)

  • 1 large zucchini, washed, trimmed, cut lengthwise into strips 1/8 to 3/16 inch thick
  • 1 medium eggplant, trimmed, unpeeled, sliced into strips 1/8 to 3/16-inch thick
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets
  • olive oil for frying
  • 1/2 tablespoon of salt
Latholemono Sauce
  • 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 8 ounces of bottled soda water
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour

Prepare zucchini: Cut zucchini slices in half if they are long. Slices measuring about 3 inches long work best.

Prepare eggplant: Put slices in a bowl, salt, and let sit 20-25 minutes. Pour off liquid before dipping in batter.

Prepare cauliflower: Boil florets for 2-3 minutes until slightly softened. Shock in an ice water bath to cool and place in paper towels to remove excess water.

Make the batter: Pour the soda into a bowl, and stir in flour and salt slowly, using a whisk or fork to mix.

Fry: Bring oil to high heat (you want at least 2 to 3 inches of oil) . Coat zucchini, eggplant and cauliflower in the batter. Use a fork to place pieces in oil (do not overcrowd the pan; only fry a few pieces at a time). Fry until veggies golden on both sides and batter puffs up. Drain on absorbent paper toweling just long enough to remove excess oil.

Latholemono Sauce: In a small bowl or food processor, combine olive oil and lemon juice. Whisk or puree until fully blended. Serve veggies hot with lathelemono sauce.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Pan-Seared Salmon with Yam-Red Bell Pepper Curry Sauce

I learned from cooking classes that I've taken, and from professional chefs, that good, beautiful food takes time. Lots of time. The reason why food we eat at our favorite restaurants is consistently good and beautiful is because they've already prepared most of the major components, such as sauces or gastriques or spice mixtures, ahead of time. The recipe below is something you can start the night before. You can make the curry sauce and refrigerate and just slowly reheat the next day. Make the gastrique that morning and keep it a room temperature. And about half and hour before you eat, make the mashed turnips and sauteed greens and salmon. Of course, you can save lots of time by using a jarred curry sauce and blending it with some cooked yams and roasted red bell peppers.

INGREDIENTS (4 servings)


  • 4 skin-on salmon fillets, about 6 ounces and 1 to 1-1/4" thick
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chopped dill
  • Mashed turnips (for side dish)
  • Sauteed greens, such as spinach or Swiss chard (for side dish)

Run some cold water over fillets to clean; pat dry. Remove any bones. Salt and pepper both sides of fillet. Sprinkle the fresh dill over flesh of each fillet (no need on the skin side).

Heat a 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet (cast iron) for 3 minutes over high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. When oil shimmers (but does not smoke) add fillets skin side down and cook, without moving fillets, until pan regains lost heat, about 30 seconds. Reduce heat to medium-high; continue to cook until skin side is well browned and bottom half of fillets turns opaque, 4-1/2 minutes.

Turn fillets and cook, without moving them, until they are no longer translucent on the exterior and are firm, but not hard, when gently squeezed: 3 minutes for medium-rare and 3-1/2 minutes for medium. You can easily remove the skin from the salmon at this point with a knife, gently pulling until all skin is removed. Turn the salmon over and sear briefly, or until desired doneness is reached.

Remove fillets from pan; let stand 1 minute. Serve immediately.


  • 1/2 cup champagne vinegar
  • 1/2 cup blood orange juice
  • 4 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup petite diced roma tomato
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped

Combine vinegar and orange juice in small saucepan. Bring to boil and reduce by 1/3. Add sugar and cook until mixture begins to lightly coat a spoon. Remove from heat and add tomato segments and fresh thyme. Let cool to room temperature.

Yam & Red Bell Pepper Curry

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil or ghee
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and diced
  • 1 or 2 green chiles, seeded and diced
  • 1 tbsp cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp corriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp chile powder or cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 can of petite-diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup cooked yams, roughly chopped
  • 1 roasted red bell pepper, skin removed and seeded and roughly chopped
  1. Heat the oil or ghee in a sauce pan, wok or pot on medium high.
  2. Add the cumin seeds and fry until they start to brown, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the onion and stir well. You want onion to lightly brown and soft (about 5 minutes).
  4. Add the garlic, ginger and chiles. When the garlic turns light brown, move to next step.
  5. Lower heat a little then add in the rest of the spices and stir well, and cook for another minute or two.
  6. Pour in the tomatoes and stir occasionally. Aim for something roughly as thick as tomato sauce; not too watery and not too thick and pasty--this could take up to 15 minutes.
  7. Add the salt, cooked yam and roasted red bell peppers. Stir well, to let it absorb the ingredients.
  8. Take off the heat and let it cool a little.
  9. Add the contents into a blender and puree until very smooth. If too thick, add a little water, a tablespoon at a time.
  10. Put the puréed mixture back into the pan and cook for 15 to 20 minutes over very low heat stirring occasionally.
  11. To serve, place a dollop of mashed turnips, followed by some sauteed greens in center of 4 plates. Top with pan-seared salmon fillet, and slowly pour a little curry sauce around each plate. Top each fillet with a teaspoon of gastrique.

      Monday, March 02, 2009

      Rosemary Roasted Jidori Chicken

      I've been noticing several restaurants here in San Diego now offer "Jidori Chicken" in their menus, and for a while I thought Jidori was a method of cooking, but later I found out it was a type of chicken. Basically, Jidori is a Japanese term meaning "chicken of the Earth." These chickens are fresh, all-natural, no hormones, free range and the chickens eat the best feed. Jidori chickens are apparently so fresh that some Japanese restaurants even serve them sashimi-style...yes raw!

      We went to the Prado a couple of weeks ago with my parents and I ordered the Rosemary Jidori chicken. It was moist, perfectly roasted and perfectly seasoned. It was served with garlic mashed potatoes, sauteed spinach and perfectly sauteed mushrooms. The dish is under $20 and I recommend it. We had a nice sauvignon blanc to go with the chicken and it worked wonderfully, although a lighter pinot noir would have been good, too.

      I've been looking for Jidori chicken recipes, but it's very difficult to find one. Also, it's almost impossible for a consumer to buy fresh Jidori chicken here in San Diego, unless you're a restaurant owner. So, if you're lucky, buy one and roast it. Below is a simple yet classic recipe for rosemary chicken.

      INGREDIENTS (4 servings)

      • 2 young chickens, about 2 to 3 pounds each
      • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
      • 1 or 2 fresh rosemary sprigs
      • 1 1/2 lemons, cut into chunks
      Seasoned Salt
      • 2 tablespoons very finely minced lemon zest
      • 2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
      • 2 tablespoons sea salt, preferably gray salt
      • Freshly ground black pepper

      Preheat oven to 450 degrees F if you have no convection fan, or to 425 degrees F if you have a convection fan.

      Rinse the chickens inside and out and dry well.

      Make the salt: In a bowl, combine the lemon zest, rosemary, salt, and pepper, mixing well. Rub the chicken all over with the olive oil, and then rub with 3 tablespoons of the seasoned salt. (Reserve the remaining salt for another use.) Tuck the rosemary sprigs and lemon chunks into the chicken cavity. You don't need to truss the chicken.

      Place the birds on a rack in a roasting pan and roast for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature by 75 degrees F and continue roasting until the juices run clear when a thigh is pierced with a skewer, about 50 to 55 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken to a platter and let rest for at least 10 minutes before carving.