Monday, July 27, 2009

Linguine with Butter, Pecorino, Arugula and Black Pepper and Seared Jumbo Shrimp

This is one of Giada's recipes I saw on the Food Network about a week ago and it seemed easy enough. The only changes I made was that I used a mixture of Pecorino Romano and grated Manchego cheese, and I used spaghetti instead of linguine. I also cut the recipe in half because it's just me and baby fetus right now. I topped the spaghetti with seared jumbo shrimp that I quickly marinated in a little store bought pesto. This is a quick meal that I whipped up after a full day of travel and it certainly hit the spot and baby Blaha loved it!

INGREDIENTS (4 servings)

  • Salt
  • 1 pound linguine
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups very finely grated Pecorino Romano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped arugula
  • 12 Jumbo shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • store bought pesto

Place shrimp in a ziploc bag and add 1/4 cup of your favorite store bought pesto. Marinate in the fridge 15 to 30 minutes.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the linguine and cook until it is al dente, stirring frequently, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, sear or grill the shrimp until just done.

Immediately toss the hot pasta in a large bowl with the butter to coat. While tossing the linguine, gradually sprinkle the cheese, pepper, and enough of the reserved cooking liquid evenly over the linguine to moisten. Add the arugula and toss to combine. Season the pasta, to taste, with salt.

Divide the pasta among 4 plates and place 3 seared shrimps on each plate and serve.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Ham and Brie Sandwich

When I first found out that I wasn't supposed to eat things such as raw fish in sushi, or cold cuts, and certain cheeses such as feta, queso fresco and brie because of the minuscule risk that they may give me listeriosis, well I almost died. Isn't it enough that I couldn't drink for 9 months? I wasn't sure if I was going to make it, but so far so good. It's been 29 weeks and I have been able to deny myself all that food that I love...but I had an insatiable craving for brie the other day. I couldn't stop thinking of the brie sandwich my husband and I shared in Paris almost 3 years ago. But how could I recreate a similar sandwich without potentially contaminating my fetus with listeria? I mean, don't pregnant women in France eat brie? But, to be safe I created this sandwich. It was delicious and it certainly satisfied my craving.

INGREDIENTS (makes 1 sandwich)

  • A demi French baguette
  • Brie
  • Thin sliced deli ham
  • Dijon mustard
  • Mayo

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Slice the baguette lengthwise and smear a little mayo on one side and Dijon on the other. Place slices of brie on one slice of bread and top with several slices of the thin sliced ham. Bake the sandwich, open faced, for 5 to 7 minutes, or until brie begins to get melty. Then top the sandwich and squish it a little and bake another 4 to 5 minutes.

Remove from oven and slightly cool before eating with faux red wine, a.k.a. grape juice.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Mexican Wedding Cookies

Photo from
These delightful, buttery and flaky cookies are known as Mexican Wedding cookies or Russian Tea Cakes. I was at my friend's wedding last Saturday and she had small favor bags for each guest filled with these cookies. I took 3 and now I wished I would have taken more! These are probably one of my favorite cookies, but I like to receive then rather than bake them only because a couple of years ago I made about 400 of these cookies to give out as favors for my step-dad's retirement party. There are various recipes on the net, but the one below is the one I tried out for the favors and they are so sinfully good, especially when you serve them with tea. Yum!

INGREDIENTS (makes 2 ½ dozen)

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for coating baked cookies
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting hands
  • 1 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped into very small pieces (I usually grind them in my mini-food processor)

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar at low speed until it is smooth. Beat in the vanilla. At low speed, gradually add the flour. Mix in the pecans with a spatula.

With floured hands, shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place, 1-1/2 inches apart, on ungreased baking sheets.Continue to dust hands with flour as you make more cookies. Place onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 40 minute, but check them after 30 minutes. My oven cooks very high, so mine were done in 30 minutes. When cool enough to handle but still warm, roll the cookies in additional confectioners' sugar. Cool on wire racks.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Irish Potato Pancakes

(Photo by Marge Perry / December 21, 2005)
Sadly, the great writer Frank McCourt died today. If you don't know who he is, then I'm sure you've read his book (or watched the movie) "Angela's Ashes." I have to say that I wouldn't have read any of Mr. McCourt's books had it not been for my friend, Amy. When we lived and worked in Boston, she invited me to a reading at the Copley Hotel. I was skeptical, but decided to go because she said there was an open bar.

Anyway, Mr. McCourt was the guest speaker and he was supposed to read from his new book, "'Tis," however all I recall was that he told us stories of his family, of Ireland, of moving to America and just made everyone laugh with his wonderful Irish sayings and his Irish wit. He was a great storyteller and, I think, a great writer.

Here's a great recipe for Irish potato pancakes, a.k.a., latkes. Serve the potato pancakes while crisp. I don't know what they would top these with in Ireland, but I know here in the states we love sour cream or apple sauce on our pancakes. RIP Frank.

INGREDIENTS (makes 6 pancakes)

  • 2 medium potatoes
  • whole egg
  • 4 slices Irish rashers or lean Canadian bacon
  • 1 tablespoon finely diced onion
  • 1 teaspoon chopped parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons grated cheddar cheese
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Peel and grate raw potato; place in a bowl. Beat egg, and add to the potato.

Slice the raw lean bacon into thin strips (julienne). Add to the potatoes along with the diced onion, parsley, salt, pepper, and cheddar. Combine thoroughly.

In a crepe pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Pour the mix onto the pan. Cook on both sides, until golden brown.

Recipe courtesy of

Friday, July 17, 2009

Rosemary Focaccia Bread

I found this recipe in and I know what you're thinking: how can I bake in this hot weather? Well, let me tell you something when a pregnant woman wants focaccia bread she's going to get focaccia bread. This is a very easy recipe and I used some of the fresh rosemary I'm growing in the backyard but you can totally make it your own by using your own variations. Instead of the rosemary, you might add fresh chopped sage to the dough with some fresh Parmesan on top; or you can add sliced olives, thinly sliced zucchini or thinly sliced onions and top the bread with such cheeses as grated Parmesan, Asiago, or even Fontina.


  • 1 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup warm water (105 to 110 degrees)
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary, divided
  • coarse salt

Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup of the warm water, and let sit 10 minutes until bubbly.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the flour, 1 tablespoon rosemary, one teaspoon of salt, yeast mixture and remaining water. Mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon and then your hands. (Note: if dough feels dry, add a bit more water a tablespoon at a time until it feels more elastic).

Transfer to a floured work surface and knead by hand for a few minutes or until smooth.

Place in a well oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 425.

Punch down and place on an oiled baking sheet, forming into an oval or circle or rectangle. If you want, you can sprinkle corn meal on baking sheet instead of oil for a more rustic focaccia.

Dimple the top surface with your finger tips, then prick about 10 to 12 times with a fork and finally brush olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt and remaining rosemary. Bake about 15 to 20 minutes or until golden. Serve warm or at room temperature.

I usually eat focaccia with slices of brie, but since I'm not supposed to eat fresh brie, I just cut myself a chunk of brie and baked it until it got all melty and paired it with the focaccia. It was heaven!

Edamame Hummus

Edamame Hummus

Elaine and my mom and Lindsey are throwing me a baby shower next month and when they were talking about what food to serve, it reminded me of a wonderful dip I once had at my friend's shower a few years ago. This is an absolutely great dip. I looks like guacamole, but the taste is completely different. Nowadays you can find tahini in the Asian food section of your grocery store or at any Middle Eastern supermarket. Serve with pita chips or sliced cucumber, celery sticks and olives. I'm telling you, if you're into soy and healthy eating, you're going to enjoy this dip.

INGREDIENTS (makes about 1-1/2 cup)

  • 1/2 pound frozen shelled edamame (green soy beans)
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons), juiced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3/4 teaspooon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Suggested serving: pita chips, sliced cucumbers, celery, and olives

Boil the beans in salted water for 4 to 5 minutes, or microwave, covered, for 2 to 3 minutes.

boiling the edamame

In a food processor, puree the edamame, tahini, water, lemon zest and juice, garlic, salt, cumin, and coriander until smooth. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and mix until absorbed.

all the ingredients in the food processor

Transfer to a small bowl, stir in the parsley and drizzle with remaining oil. Serve with the suggested vegetables, or refrigerate, covered, up to 1 day.

Recipe courtesy of Food Network Kitchens

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Prado Chipotle Hummus

Picture courtesy of
I know you've read many posts and many reviews of the various foods Matthew and I have eaten at The Prado. Yes, I can say that The Prado Restaurant in Balboa Park is our favorite restaurant. We have eaten inside the fancy shmancy restaurant, which is great, but our favorite (and my parents, too) is eating outside in the cocktail area and load up on their wonderful appetizers. One thing I don't think I mentioned is that no matter if you eat inside or outside, every table always gets a complimentary hummus and flatbread starter. I was so lucky to have found the hummus recipe from Chef Jeff Thurston. If you love hummus, you'll love this recipe because it has that unexpected chipotle kick in the background.

INGREDIENTS (makes 2 cups)

Source: Chef Jeff Thurston, The Prado, San Diego, California

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked garbanzo beans
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice, or more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon lime juice, or more to taste
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1/8 bunch cilantro, cleaned and chopped
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil blend
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Put beans through a meat grinder on a medium die, or puree them in a blender or food processor.

In blender or food processor or in bowl of an electric mixer, combine garbanzo puree, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, lime juice, chipotles, kosher salt and cilantro. On low speed, mix ingredients well while adding oil in a slow, steady stream. Season with salt and pepper, and add more citrus juice if needed.

Serve with flatbread for dipping.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Shrimp Cakes with Sriracha-Lemon Cream

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was in a cleaning frenzy a few days ago and I started cleaning out the fridge and freezer. Well, lo and behold I found some large, uncooked frozen shrimp tucked way back in the freezer. I thaweded them and made sure they were still good to use (and they were). So I found this shrimp cake recipe but I totally changed it and made it my own. I also came up with the Sriracha-Lemon Cream sauce, although I have to say I was inspired by the orangy-mayo sauce the sushi chefs drizzle over the rolls. Anyway, these were gooood...although kind of spicy hot, which for some reason I'm really craving right now. I made my cakes about the size of a crab cake, but you can make them smaller if you prefer.

INGREDIENTS (makes 6 large or 12 small cakes)

  • 16 uncooked large shrimp (about 1 pound), peeled, deveined
  • 1 smal garlic clove, minced
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons shallot, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (I only used 1/4 tsp.)
  • Pinch of ground black pepper
  • 2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • Oil for frying
Siracha-Lemon Cream
  • 1/4 cup good mayo
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt, preferably Greek
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ketchup
  • 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Pinch of salt

Corasely chop shrimp and garlic in processor. Add egg, shallot, lemon juice, mustard, parsley, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Blend-in using on/off turns. Add 1 cup panko and blend-in using on/off turns. Form mixture into twelve 3-inch-diameter cakes (I formed mine into 4 to 5 inch cakes for large ones). Roll cakes in remaining 1 cup panko; transfer to waxed-paper-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate 10 minutes. (Can be made up to 4 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.) Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, fry cakes until cooked through and golden brown on both sides, adding more oil to skillet as needed, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Place 2 shrimp cakes per plate and spoon some of the Sriracha-Lemon Cream sauce on each and serve immediately.

To make the sriracha-lemon cream: in a small bowl mix all ingredients until well blended and refrigerate 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Cheese Pupusas

Pupusas are similar to corn tortillas, only thicker and stuffed with cheese, beans or meat. The pupusa originated in El Salvador and I personally love them because I enjoy the corn flavor of the masa dough. If you ever have any leftover refried beans, you can use that to stuff pupusas. At my local Salvadorian restaurant they serve pupusas with a curtido, which is a pickled cole-slaw, and salsa roja. However, you can top it with your favorite salsa and even some crema fresca.

INGREDIENTS (makes 5 to 6 pupusas)

  • 2 cups Masa harina
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 cup grated quesillo, queso fresco, farmer's cheese, mozzarella, Swiss cheese or a combination of any of these cheeses
  1. In a large bowl, mix together the masa harina and water and knead well. Knead in more water, one tablespoonful at a time if needed, to make a moist, yet firm dough. (It should not crack at the edges when you press down on it.) Cover and set aside to rest for 10 minutes.
  2. Roll the dough into a log and cut it into 8 equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball.
  3. Press an indentation in each ball with your thumb. Put about 1 tablespoon of cheese filling into each indentation and fold the dough over to completely enclose it. Press the ball out with your palms to form a disc, taking care that that the filling doesn't spill out.
  4. Line a tortilla press with plastic and press out each ball to about 5-6 inches wide and about 1/4-inch thick. If you don't have a tortilla press, place the dough between two pieces of plastic wrap or wax paper and roll it out with a rolling pin.
  5. Heat an ungreased skillet over medium-high flame. Cook each pupusa for about 1-2 minutes on each side, until lightly browned and blistered. Remove to a plate and hold warm until all pupusas are done. Serve with curtido and salsa roja.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Creamy Bowties with Chicken and Broccoli

I decided to clean out the freezer and I found two chicken breasts, skin on and bone in, in there that were almost three months old. Instead of throwing them out, I thawed them and roasted them. Then I removed the skin and the bones and shredded the chicken. So now I had a couple of of cups of shredded chicken and below is a very simple, yet quite easy dish where I used some of the shredded chicken. I added red pepper flakes to my recipe because I just love the spiciness with broccoli. If you're unable to find the garlic and herb soft-spread cheese, you can use Philadelphia cream cheese instead and add Italian herbs and some garlic to flavor it up.

INGREDIENTS (makes 4 servings)

  • 8 ounces bow-tie pasta
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 small red bell pepper, cut into thin strips (I omitted them from this recipe)
  • 1 cup canned low-sodium chicken broth
  • 6.5-ounces garlic and herb soft-spread cheese*
  • Good pinch of red pepper flakes, optional

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add bow ties and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, stirring, until done, about 5 minutes. Remove chicken and set aside. (I skipped this step as I already had cooked chicken).

Add broccoli, red pepper flakes (if using), red bell pepper strips and chicken broth to skillet. Cover and simmer until broccoli is tender, about 5 minutes. Return chicken to skillet and cook 1 minute. Remove from heat and add the cooked pasta and cheese. Stir until cheese is melted.

* There are several brands of garlic and herb soft-spread cheeses on the market, including Alouette, Rondele, and Boursin.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Chicken Salad with Peanut Dressing and Toasted Sesame Seeds

As you can see, I haven't been cooking much and that was due to the "sick" I had. But now I'm over it and my appetite is back more than ever specially since I'm almost 7 months pregnant. I'm still having issues with red meat, but I know I need to get protein in my system so I combined the peanut dressing from one recipe with some roasted chicken I had and came up with this salad. The peanut dressing is actually for hot pasta (like spaghetti or fettuccine) and it makes about 2 cups of dressing. Since I only needed a few tablespoons for one salad, I'm saving the leftover so that I can make this Crunch Noodle Salad tomorrow.


  • Mixed greens
  • Cooked chicken, cut into bite sized chunks
  • Peanut dressing (recipe below)
  • 1/2 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds or chopped peanuts
Peanut Dressing
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons dark sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey (I added a little more than a tablespoon)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons toasted white sesame seeds, divided
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

Make the dressing: Whisk together the vegetable oil, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, garlic, ginger, 2 tablespoons sesame seeds and peanut butter in a medium bowl.

To make salad (for one): place enough mixed greens on plate and top with chopped chicken. Drizzle some of the peanut dressing over the salad then top with toasted sesame seeds or toasted chopped peanuts.