Thursday, February 26, 2009

Parmesan Crusted Tilapia

I know this is a little overdue, and the picture's not great, but I’ve finally got the time to post the main course I served at my dinner party the other night. I honestly didn’t think this was that great. Part of it was my fault, as I undercooked the fish. The crust was also a little lacking though. The mixture was too thick to really spread onto the fish, and so it was really more of fish covered by lumps. After it had gone back under the broiler it was spreadable, and if I had put it back under the broiler, it probably would have turned it into more of a crust, which is what I would recommend if you do this. As for the potato pancakes, I used this recipe. The centers of the pancakes were good, but the edges became blackened and charred. I don’t know if the cooking temperature should have been lower, the cooking time shorter, or if there just should have been thicker edges. I doubled the pancake recipe when I made it, but provided the original here. I also served steamed broccoli, but I won’t bother providing a recipe for that.

Parmesan Crusted Tilapia

Makes 5 filets

5 tilapia filets 
1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese 
1/3 cup bread crumbs 
2 ½ T unsalted butter, softened 
2 T low-fat mayonnaise 
4 t lemon juice 
¼ tsp smoked paprika 
¼ tsp garlic powder 
1/8 tsp onion powder 
1/8 tsp celery salt 
1/8 tsp dried basil 
Pinch black pepper 
Pinch salt 
Pinch cayenne pepper

1. Set your oven to broil. Whisk together everything that’s not the tilapia. Grease a broiler pan and place the tilapia in the pan.

2. Put the tilapia under the broiler, cook for three minutes, flip the tilapia over and bake for another 2 minutes. Take the tilapia out of the oven and spread the topping evenly over each piece of fish (I had trouble spreading it, so I more lumped it, if you have this problem take the tilapia out with a minute left and spread the topping better). Put the tilapia back under the broiler, and cook until it flakes, and is fully cooked.


Hashbrown cakes

Makes 4

1 1/2 cups paper-thin onion slices 
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, coarsely grated on large holes of box grater or in processor (about 2 1/2 cups) 
1 teaspoon salt, divided 
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Put the potatoes in a medium bowl with half of the salt. Let sit for 5 minutes. Place the onions in a large bowl. Squeeze the water out of the potatoes, and mix them with the onions. Toss with the butter and remaining salt.

2. Place 4 mounds of the potato mixture onto a buttered baking sheet. Place in the oven for 15 minutes. Take the baking sheet out of the oven, and turn the oven temperature down to 350 degrees. Use a flat spatula to press down each pancake until flat. Flip each pancake over, and place back in the oven. Bake for another 45 minutes, or until cakes are golden and crisp around the edges.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Pad Thai Dumplings

This was the first course of the meal I made for my friends this weekend. The idea here was to use vegetables in pad thai sauce, but to replace the noodles traditionally in pad thai with the wonton wrapper used to make the dumpling. I thought it worked pretty well, although I think I might have made the sauce a little too strong, or put a little too much tamarind in it. Other than the sauce, the measurements in this recipe are just rough estimates, and you should feel free to adjust them to suit your tastes. For a good set of instructions on how to fold the dumplings go here.

Pad Thai Dumplings

Makes ~ 30

2 T tamarind concentrate dissolved in 3 T hot water 
1 T + 1 tsp fish sauce 
1 ½ tsp chili paste (adjust to your taste) 
2 T brown sugar

3 cloves garlic, minced 
¾ cup shredded carrots
3 green onions, green and white parts thinly sliced 
½ cup coarsely chopped peanuts, plus more for garnish 
2/3 cup salad shrimp, coarsely diced 
¼ cup packed cilantro, diced Juice from half a lime (about 2 tsp)
Peanut oil for stir frying 
30 wonton wrappers
Spray oil (like pam)

1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spray with oil (making sure it is well covered, these things stick!) Whisk the first four ingredients in a bowl, this is the sauce, set aside.

2. Put a small amount of peanut oil into the bottom of a wok or pot set over medium-high heat, with just one piece of garlic. When the garlic starts to sizzle add the remaining garlic and stir fry for one minute. Add the carrots, green onions, peanuts, and half the sauce, stir fry for another thirty seconds, and then remove from heat.

3. Move the contents of the wok to a bowl, attempting to leave behind excess sauce. Stir in the shrimp, cilantro and lime juice.

4. Place about 2 tsp of filling in the center of each wonton wrapper. Use a wet finger to dampen the edges of the wrapper, and bring the opposite corners together (so you fold it into a triangle). Press closed the seam and bring the two outer points to the center and pinch the three points of the triangle together (it helps to have damp fingers when doing this, the wrapper will stick to itself better). If this seems unclear, check out the link to instructional pictures above, or those I’ve included at the bottom of this post.

5. Put the dumplings on the cookie sheet. Spray all of the dumplings with oil, and bake them for about ten minutes, or until the wonton wrappers are becoming translucent and look like they’re becoming crispy. Serve promptly with remaining sauce for dipping. Garnish with additional peanuts, green onions, and slices of lime.

A Complete Dinner

Over break I decided I wanted to make a complete dinner. Unfortunately I hadn’t had time to do that kind of cooking before this weekend. Over the course of the week I’ll be posting recipes for the various things I made. The menu was:

Paid Thai Dumplings


Parmesan crusted Tilapia with potato pancakes and broccoli

Chocolate mousse and almond Dacquoise with crème anglaise and raspberry coulis

I thought the pad thai dumplings were good, and the dessert was delicious. The fish was a little lacking, the crust didn’t quite spread out the way it should, and I undercooked it a little. The potato pancakes were also overcooked, with the edges singed. I’ll provide more details on the individual recipes throughout the week. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Stir Fry Noodles with Peanut Sauce

I’ve had some rice noodles in my pantry for a long time now. I bought them way back when I made pad thai last summer, and then set them in the back of the pantry and forgot about them until today. I wanted to make dinner without going shopping, so I decided to use them this week. I combined the method I learned to make pad thai with one of my favorite peanut sauces for stir fry, and I was very pleased with the results. I made this just for myself, so the recipe makes only one serving. Use whatever vegetables you like in stir fry, I used broccoli, grated carrots, green onion, bean sprouts, and water chestnuts. This recipe is easily made vegetarian by replacing the chicken broth with vegetable broth and omitting the chicken and fish sauce.

Stir Fry Peanut Noodles

For sauce:

1 T peanut butter
2 T Chicken Broth
1 T Low Sodium soy sauce
2 t honey
2 t mirin (rice wine)
2 t rice vinegar
1 t fish sauce
1 t thai chili paste (optional / to taste)


For Stir Fry

2 cloves garlic, finely diced 
2 tsp diced ginger 
½ cup rice stick noodles 
½ cup diced chicken 
½ cup vegetables to stir fry 
1 T sesame oil

1. Put the rice noodles in a pot of warm water. Let the noodles sit in the water for 15-20 minutes, until noodles are flexible, but still al dente

2. Put the oil in a wok or large pot over medium high heat. When the oil is hot enough that water boils on contact, add the ginger and garlic. Stir fry for 30 seconds.

3. Add the diced chicken and continue stir frying. Add a tablespoon of the sauce. Some of it will burn to the bottom of your pan, don’t worry about it.

4. When the chicken is cooked through, add the noodles, the vegetables, and the rest of the sauce. Stir fry the mix. Cook until the vegetables and noodles are cooked, 1-2 minutes. Immediately remove from heat and serve. 

Saturday, February 14, 2009

My First Macarons

I know that by posting this I am contributing nothing to the culinary world, basic recipes for macarons abound, and I just used someone else’s. In fact, if you want to make macarons, I strongly recommend this guide, which is what I used. Nonetheless, I am posting this because these are my first macarons, and I feel like making macarons are some kind of baking right of passage, given their notorious fickleness. Truthfully, these macarons weren’t perfect, the outer shell was very brittle, and there was a large air pocket. And from the descriptions in the guide, I suspect I overbeat the batter, as it was a little too thin when I was piping it. But, they grew feet, didn’t crack, and taste like almond, so I was at least pretty close. I have no idea how many cookies this actually makes, I successfully made 9 sandwiches, but that includes a lot of waste. Also, this recipe is in grams. I bought a small, plastic scale that measures in grams for under $5 from Kmart, so don’t let lack of one stop you. Especially if you’re interested in doing lots of European style baking, it’s worth having. I filled the macarons with a simple chocolate ganache

Basic Macarons

90 grams egg white (about 3 eggs worth) – separated and allowed to sit out for 24 hours (not covered with plastic) 
120 grams almond meal 
145 grams confectioner’s sugar 
75 grams regular sugar

1. Place the almond meal and confectioner’s sugar in a food processor, pulse until it is mixed into a fine powder

2. Put the room temperature egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer. Beat the egg whites at high speed until they are foamy and stiff peaks form.

3. Turn the mixer speed down to medium, and very gradually beat in the regular sugar. Continue beating until you get a stiff, glossy meringue (I beat until stiff peaks, but this might have been too much)

4. Remove the bowl from the standing mixer. Pour the sugar-almond mixture over the eggwhites. Using a folding motion begin to combine them (this should not be gentle folding). Continue folding until the mixture reaches a “magma like consistency,” or until a ribbon of batter dropped onto the rest takes about 30 seconds to disappear back into the mass. Tartlette says this should take about 50 strokes.

5. Using a large tip, pipe the meringue onto a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. The circles will spread out a little, so leave space. Try to make the circles 1 ½ - 2 inches across.

6. Let the piped cookies sit out on the counter for at least an hour. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

7. Put the cookie sheet on the oven’s center rack for 2 minutes. After two minutes, wedge the oven door open with a wooden spoon, and continue baking for another 5 minutes, or until the cookies have developed feet, and are a creamy ivory color

8. Remove from the oven and let cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes. Gently remove the cookies from the sheet and place them on a cooling rack (I lost a few cookies that stuck to the sheet, I’m under the impression this is inevitable).


Chocolate Ganache

9 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream 
2 T butter

1. Put the chocolate in a bowl. Pour the cream into a saucepan over medium high heat until it comes to a simmer.

2. Pour the heated cream over the chocolate and let it sit for 30 seconds. Add the butter and begin whisking. Whisk until the mixture is uniform.

3. Let the ganache cool to a spreadable consistency. If you’re impatient like me, stick it in the freezer, removing to whisk every few minutes to keep it even.

4. Gently sandwich the macarons with the ganche. Eat


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Stuffed Poblanos

I’ve always had a weakness for Chiles Rellenos, unfortunately, making a frequent habit of eating them is an invitation to a rapid death (they’re basically deep fried cheese inside peppers). I’m also generally hesitant to deep fry things myself, as I find hot oil a little intimidating. Instead I decided I would make my own recipe for stuffed peppers. These have a lot more than cheese in them, and I think they’re really good. Mostly I put in what I had sitting around, and I also guessed a little on the amounts of things, so feel free to experiment with them to your tastes. I’m not entirely sure how many it makes, as I’ve made the filling, and am stuffing them at a rate of one per night for my dinner. Also, everything in here is finely diced because it needs to end up fitting inside a pepper. I made this fairly spicy, tone it down if spicy isn’t how you like it. It would also make an excellent vegetarian dish if you cut out the chicken and sausage.

Stuffed Poblanos

½ white onion, finely diced 
3 cloves garlic, finely diced 
1 jalapeno chili, seeded and deveined, finely diced 
½ Serrano chili, seeded and deveined, finely diced 
½ green bell pepper, finely diced 
1 green onion, finely diced 
1 cup frozen corn 
1 can black beans, drained 
½ tsp chili powder 
½ tsp Chipotle chili powder 
¼ tsp coriander 
1 avocado, finely diced 
Juice of one lime 
1 chicken breast, cooked and diced into ~ ½ inch cubes 
1 chorizo sausage 
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese 
¼ cup fat free sour cream 
Poblano Peppers

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put the first 11 ingredients (onion through coriander) into a large, heavy bottomed pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes, or until onions begin to look cooked. Remove from heat.

2. Stir the remaining ingredients (except the poblanos) into the pan, and mix well

3. Cutting down from the top, remove the stems from the poblanos, but save the caps. Use a spoon to scoop out any seeds, and cut seed section from the poblano caps

4. Stuff each pepper with filling, and stick the caps back on. Put the peppers on a tinfoil lined baking sheet in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, flipping the peppers over half way through. Peppers are cooked when they have softened and the skin has just begun to blister.

5. Serve immediately, garnish with cilantro. 

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Chestnut and Banana Pancakes

A month or so ago I ordered some chestnut flour on a whim from L’Epicerie, largely because they were selling it pretty cheaply. However, I didn’t know what to do with it (although The Cake Bible does have a recipe for a chestnut flour genoise). This morning I decided to make pancakes using it. Aiming for an Italian theme, I used Ricotta as the dairy in the batter and honey as the sweetener. I also added a banana. I thought these pancakes were really good. The batter was very thick because of the ricotta and mashed banana, the ricotta kept the pancakes nice and moist (which is how I like my pancakes), and I thought the chestnut was subtle but present. The recipe is based on my old favorite pancake recipe, which originates from the Tasajara Bread Book.

Chestnut and Banana Pancakes

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour 
2/3 cups chestnut flour 
3 tsp baking powder  
1 tsp salt  
2 T honey 
3 eggs 
1 banana mashed with enough low-fat ricotta to make 1 ½ cups total ½ cup vegetable oil 
Butter for the pan

1. Whisk together the flours, the baking powder, and the salt, set aside

2. Whisk the eggs, add the honey, banana-ricotta mixture, and oil and whisk to combine.

3. Put your pan over medium-high heat and melt the butter. Once the butter is melted quickly fold the dry ingredients into the wet

4. Spoon out pancake batter to make pancakes of whatever size you like. Remember the batter is thick, you may need two spoons.

5. Cook the pancakes 3-4 minutes a side, or until both sides are brown and the pancakes are cooked through. Serve Warm with maple syrup.

Monday, February 2, 2009


I finally got my digital camera back, which means I can post again. Of course that might create the illusion that I’ve been cooking all week, which isn’t the case. This semester has been busier than the last, and I haven’t had that much time to cook. My roommate did have a Superbowl party though, so of course I had to make something. I decided to make a few kinds of appetizer sized empanadas. Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera while making them, so I couldn’t get any process pictures, but Laylita’s Recipes, from whom I got the recipe for the dough, has some great instructions. I decided to go with 4 kinds of filling, 3 savory and 1 sweet. With the assistance of my friend Jessica, who was instrumental in rolling out the dough and stuffing the empanadas, we made spinach and goat cheese, tomato, basil and mozzarella, chicken and vegetables, and rocky road. To top the first three I also made salsa verde. I thought the savory ones were good, but the rocky road was a little weak, they probably would have been better warm.

Basic Empanada Dough

Makes 25-30 small empanadas

3 cups all purpose flour 
¼ teaspoon salt 
6 oz unsalted butter (1 ½ sticks), cold and cut into 
12 pieces 
1 egg 
4-5 tbs water

1. Place flour and salt in a food processer. Mix to blend. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until a clumpy dough forms

2. Push the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes

3. When you’re ready to use them, roll the dough out to 1/8 inch thickness and cut out circles that are 4 -5 inches in diameter


Spinach and Goat Cheese filling

Makes ~20 empanadas

5 oz. goat cheese 
10 oz. spinach (fresh and wilted or frozen and thawed) 
2 tsp garlic powder 
½ tsp fresh ground nutmeg                                                       

1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl


Tomato, Basil, and Mozzarella filling

Makes ~35 small empanadas

2 cups freshly shredded, part skim mozzarella 
2 10.5 oz. cans diced tomatoes with basil and oregano, drained 
1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped 
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl


Chicken and Vegetable filling

Makes ~ 25 small empanadas

1 grilled chicken breast, cut into small pieces 
½ green pepper, diced 
½ medium onion, very finely diced 
½ cup frozen corn 
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, deveined, and very finely diced 
2 cloves garlic, very finely diced 
1 tsp chili pepper 
½ tsp chipotle pepper powder 
½ tsp cumin

1. Mix all ingredients but the chicken in a frying pan set over medium-high heat. Spray with a little cooking oil and stir fry for about 5 minutes.

2. Add the chicken and cook just until heated through. Remove from heat.


Rocky Road Filling

2 cups mini-marshmellows 
12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips 
6 oz. chopped pecans.

1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl



Dough disks 
1 egg mixed with 1 tsp water

1. Lay out the disks of dough, and place between 2 tsp and 1 T filling onto each disk.

2. Fold the disks over on themselves and press together the edges. You might want to use the tines of a fork to press into the dough

3. Brush each empanada with the egg wash (for sweet empanadas sprinkle sugar over the top).

4. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until the dough is browned.


Salsa Verde

I made this salsa to accompany the empanadas I made. People really ate this up, and I thought it was really good. When I first made it, it was a little on the oniony side, but the onion mellowed a little with a night in the fridge.

Salsa Verde

Makes 3 -4 cups

1 ½ lbs fresh tomatillos, husked 
1 medium white onion, coarsely chopped 
3 green onions 
2/3 cup cilantro leaves 
1 ½ T fresh lime juice 
5 cloves garlic 
¼ tsp sugar 
2 jalapenos deveined and seeded 
1 Serrano, deveined and seeded 
Salt to taste

1. Turn on your oven’s broiler with a rack directly under it and let it heat up. Cut the tomatillos in half, and place them cut side down on a baking sheet lined with tin foil. Broil them for 5-7 minutes, until the skins are just starting to blacken.

2. Place the roasted tomatillos and all the other ingredients into a food processor and blend until fully mixed.