Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Wine Gelée with Fresh Peaches and Blackberries

Here's an idea to use up summer fruits.  Light, pretty, slightly intoxicating as well, a choice to have when you don't have time to make an elaborate desserts.  The choice of using white wine, sweet wine, or sparkling wine is really up to you.  Even you can use sparkling juice to make it non-alcoholic if you're serving for little people under ages as well.

Fresh peaches were plentiful this season and their so very juicy and sweet.  Most of my peaches were canned, but I made sure I left some to eat with this gelée.  Blackberries?  They could be found anywhere in Oregon, I got some from an empty city lot across the street from my friend's house.  They could be prickly but when they're ripe, there's no going back.

Wine Gelée with Fresh Peaches and Blackberries

Serves 4 to 6

One 1/4-ounce envelope unflavored gelatin

1/3 cup organic sugar

1/2 cup wine or water

1 1/2 cups sweet and/or sparkling wine, or sparkling juice

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 to 1 1/2 cups peaches, sliced into small pieces and lightly sugared

1/2 cup fresh blackberries

Sprinkle the gelatin over 1/4 cup cold water and set it aside to soften.

Combine the sugar with the 1/2 cup wine in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved.  Remove from the heat and stir in the softened gelatin.  Stir until it's thoroughly dissolved, then pour it into the rest the wine along with the lemon juice.  Mix well, then pour into a bowl or a compote dish and refrigerate until set.  Wine takes longer to set, so plan on at least 6 hours, or even overnight for a firm set.

Chop the jelly into cubes, then serve it in glasses interspersed with the fruits.

Source:  adapted from Seasonal Fruit Desserts by Deborah Madison

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Flax Seed Bread

Sunday is the day when you're supposed to take it easy and be relax.  But in reality, it's most often the day that household chores are done in my household.  My chores were a mile long, barked like a military order:  bake a bread, do laundry, do a quick food photo session, get lunch, help put up shelves in bedroom, touch up the wall with paint, vacuum, mop, clean the backyard.  Pheww...when all of those were done, I could finally wipe my forehead; literally, sweats coming from raking the fallen leaves in the backyard.

But, I got a chance, even if it's only a sliver of relaxation, to have a lazy breakfast.  No need to cook elaborate breakfast dishes; I only serve slices of my flax seed bread, butter, and chocolate sprinkles.  Spreading chocolate sprinkles on buttered bread slices is definitely something from old tradition growing up in Indonesia that I keep till now.  My son grows to love it too, and I made sure I bought some packages of chocolate sprinkles when we went back to Indonesia.  There are three different types of chocolate sprinkles sold, milk chocolate, classic (which is taste like dark chocolate), and festive (which is colored sprinkles mixed in with chocolate ones).  These chocolate sprinkles are quite different from the sprinkles I find here in the US since the chocolate sprinkles from Indonesia are made with real chocolate, not just sugar.

I often make flax seed bread because not only it tastes good, it's also a way to serve flax seed to my family.  I couldn't eat them raw, neither could my other family members.  They're still quite crunchy in the bread but in a good way.  So even if the sliced bread is buttered and sprinkled with chocolate, at least the flax seed is providing healthy addition.

Flax Seed Bread

Yield 1 1/2-pound loaf

1 1/8 cup water

2 tablespoons canola oil

3 tablespoons honey

3 cups bread flour

1/4 cup nonfat dry milk

2 tablespoons flax seed

1 tablespoon gluten

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoon SAF yeast or 2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast

Place all the ingredients in the pan according to the order in the manufacturer's instructions.  Set crust on medium and program for the Basic cycle; press Start.  (This recipe may be made using the Delay Timer.)

When the baking cycle ends, immediately remove the bread from the pan and place it on a rack.  Let cool to room temperature before slicing.

Source:  The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook

Friday, August 27, 2010

Shrimp, Potato, and Corn Chowder

The summer almost ends, in a few weeks we'll begin new days with shorter days and cooler temperatures.  Between entertaining my son from summer boredom, I'm also keeping up my personal blog with my vacation stories.  Prior to writing those stories, I also have to edit numerous photos from the trip.  Sometimes when it's too overwhelming, I take a break.  Some breaks are short, reading magazines or books, biking with my son; some breaks are long, canning blueberry pie filling and blackberry-chocolate sundae topper.  I still have bags of blueberries, safely frozen in the freezer, waiting for me to make use of them creatively.

There's already a box of freestone peaches that need tending, as I'm planning to can them as well.  I'm still debating whether to can all of them as fruit in juices, or to make some preserves, peaches pie filling, peaches preserves, or peaches ice cream.  I know, I know, the list is long, the time is short, I just need to make up my mind soon before the peaches go bad.

That got me thinking, what else is there to eat while we're at the season's transition?  Fresh corns.  Since there's plenty of corns still available in the market, I want to utilize them for my dinner this week.  Fresh corns are juicy, sweet, and flavorful, the best way to eat them in my opinion is boiling or grilling them until they are tender and slab them with butter and a bit of salt.  Back in Indonesia, grilled corns are flavored with many sauces.  You want sweet, salty, spicy, with barbecue sauce?  You can have it all.  But I'm not posting a recipe about grilled corns this time.  My mind wandered to soup.  Corn and potato chowder to be exact, because even though it is a soup dish, it doesn't have to have many ingredients in it.  With garlic, leeks, potato, milk, and cream, the soup is delicious.  If you use bi-color corns, the soup will look fantastic, and you could omit the shrimp to make it a vegetarian soup.  Give me a bowl of soup and crusty bread, I'm ready to sit and eat.  This is something comforting to make as I get ready to welcome the fall season.

Shrimp, Potato, and Corn Chowder

Serves 4-6

1 1/4 lbs. medium shrimp

3 corncobs, husks and silks removed

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 leeks, white part only, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 1/4 lbs. potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

3 cups chicken stock

1 1/2 cups milk

1 cup cream

Pinch of cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-parsley

Peel and devein the shrimp, then chop into 1/2-inch pieces.

Cut the kernels from the corncobs.  Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the leeks.  Cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until soft and lightly golden.  Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, then add the corn, potatoes, stock, and milk.

Bring to boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft but not mushy.  Remove the lid and simmer for another 10 minutes.  Reduce the heat to low.  Put 2 cups of the soup in the blender and blend until very smooth.

Return the blended soup to the saucepan and add the shrimp.  Increase the heat to medium and simmer for 2 minutes or until the shrimp are pink and cooked through.  Stir in the cream, cayenne pepper, and 1 tablespoon of the parsley.  Season to taste with salt, then serve garnished with the remaining parsley.

Source:  adapted from Bowl Food by Katy Scarlett

Monday, August 16, 2010

Banana-Blueberry Gelato

When the weather was predicted to be super hot late last week, I quietly rejoiced because it's been cool ever since I was back in town.  It's like waiting for the summer to begin, my friends told me that I didn't miss much in July anyway.  August is supposed to be very nice in Oregon, I'm counting on you, Mother Earth.  We all wish that school didn't end till the end of June and will not start again until middle of September so we all can enjoy the warmth.

So yeah, the weather hovers around the upper 90's.  It's dry hot that's quite uncomfortable at times, I try to keep my house cool by opening windows in the morning, and shut them midmorning when the sun's going high.  The plan to make gelato came just as I had quite a bit fresh blueberries in the frigde.  I wanted to whip it up pretty quickly, providing it's also made of fruits, blueberry is one of them.

The first thing I made was the blueberry sauce for it to be added to the gelato.  The sauce was supposed to be a bit thicker, but it turned out okay, I could still use it.  Once the sauce chills, time to make the gealto base.  It's quite simple since it only used milk, sugar, vanilla extract, mashed bananas, and a bit of lemon juice to prevent the bananas from getting brown.  My idea was also to make gelato popsicle because it's fun for my son to eat it like that.  And you know what, chocolate covered gelato-on-a-stick is even better!

Photographing melted gelato on a hot day was fun, the waiting time is rewarded with something cool in the end.

Banana-Blueberry Gelato

Yields about 9 3-oz portions

Blueberry Sauce:

6 tablespoons granulated sugar

3 tablespoons water

1 1/2 cups fresh bluberries


1 1/4 cups whole milk

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 ripe bananas

Juice of 1/2 lemon

9 3-oz. paper cups

9 popsicle sticks

Make the blueberry sauce:

Mix the sugar and water in a small pan.  Heat until sugar is dissolved, then boil for 3 minutes or until the mixture is thickened, do not let it caramelized.  Cool slightly.  Puree the fresh blueberry in a food processor or a blender then press through a sieve over a bowl.  Stir in the syrup and chill well.

Make the gelato:

Heat the milk in a medium-sized pan, bring to boil continuously.  Take the pan off heat and pour the sugar and vanilla extract, stir until dissolved, cool slightly then chill well.

Put the lemon juice in a bowl, mash the bananas with fork into the bowl.  It is okay if the bananas pieces are a bit chunky.  Mix banana mixture with gelato base.  If using an ice cream machine, follow the manufacturer's instruction.  After the churning process is done while the gelato is still partly frozen, drop blueberry sauce by spoon into the gelato.  Mix it just enough to get ripple effects into the gelato.

Spoon and divide the mixture into the 3-oz. cups evenly, fill the cups until it is full.  Insert the popsicle sticks.  Freeze the gelato until firm.

*If desired, coat the gelato with melted chocolate.  I used bittersweet chocolate here, but you could use different types of chocolate as well.*

Source:  adapted from Making Ice Cream and Iced Desserts by Joanna Farrow and Sara Lewis

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Foodista Food Blog of the Day

Yay!  My Eggplant Parmesan post made it into the Foodista Food Blog of the Day today!  I almost forgotten to do it today :)  Here is the link to Foodista page: Food Blog of the Day.

Now I'm going back enjoying the 90's degrees weather and will post soon about an ice cream recipe that I made yesterday.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Eggplant Parmesan

I vow to eat lighter meal from now on and pretend I don't see three luggages still full of Indonesian snacks...

Sigh, you don't know how hard it is to resist the temptation of not eating those snacks, and my other half doesn't help either.  He insisted that we have to finish all of those soon, very soon, or otherwise they'll go bad and we'll be sorry that we hauled all sixty-four kilos worth of food--delicious, hard to find food-- back home.  Sixty-four kilos?  Excuse me, my books were counted in that sixty-four kilos, so I believe it's less than that.

My diet is now consisted of fruits, lots of them, and vegetables.  I drink tons of water and try to diligently do my exercises, do some biking with my son, and tackle the unruly yard.  By staying active I believe I could lose the weight and then start my baking routine again :)  A bowl of fruits in the morning will welcome the beginning of my day, and it helps that summer fruits are varied right now so I don't get bored.

You know, when I was in Indonesia, the first three weeks of eating local food seemed exciting.  But soon, the appeal wore off and I longed for a dish of spaghetti marinara, which I actually ordered when I was staying at The Phoenix Hotel, Yogyakarta.  And it tasted pretty good, very generous in size, and not too expensive.  Italian food is my other comfort food so naturally when I got my latest Cook's Country magazine which featured eggplant parmesan recipe, I decided to make it.

What I like about this dish is that by combining Parmesan cheese with panko breadcrumb resulted in much flavorful crust for the eggplant, it's crusty and tangy.  And chopped eggplants in the sauce is just a boost to the dish, the sauce tastes even better the second day; all the flavor has mingled together, garlicky good.  Have a try!

Eggplant Parmesan For Two

Serves 2

1 medium eggplant, about 1 pound

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 large egg

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper

1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons olive oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1/2 cup shredded provolone or mozzarella cheese

Slice off one side of eggplant and cut two 3/4-inch planks lengthwise from center of eggplant.   Halve each plank crosswise, and cut reserved side pieces into strips, then chop into 1/2-inch cubes.

Place flour in a shallow dish.  Beat egg in a second shallow dish.  Combine bread crumbs, 1/4 cup Parmesan, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a third shallow dish.

One at a time, coat eggplant slices lightly with flour, dip them in egg, and dredge in bread-crumb mixture, pressing to adhere.  Transfer to a wire rack set inside rimmed baking sheet and let sit for 5 minutes or refrigerate for up to 1 hour.

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees F.  Heat 1/2 cup oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-hight heat until shimmering.  Cook eggplant slices until lightly browned, about 1 minute per side.  Transfer to wire rack set inside baking sheet and bake until eggplant is tender and deep golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.

Pour off oil and wipe out skillet with paper towels.  Heat 2 tablespoon oil in empty skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add chopped eggplant and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes.  Stir in remaining oil, garlic, and pepper flakes, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add tomatoes and reduce heat to medium.  Simmer until eggplant is tender and sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in basil and season with salt and pepper; cover and keep warm.

Combine remaining Parmesan and provolone or mozzarella in medium bowl.  Top browned eggplant slices with cheese mixture and bake until cheese is melted.  Transfer half of the sauce to platter and top with eggplant slices.  Spoon remaining sauce over eggplant.  Serve.

Source:  adapted from Cook's Country, August-September 2010

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Start writing again, soon

Pardon me for not writing for a long time.  I had a month-long vacation to Hong Kong and Indonesia in June and has just arrived back in town July 21.  My jet lag was pretty bad that since I was back home, I didn't want to do anything else except sleeping in ungodly hour.  My son ended up badly too, he would be up in the middle of the night, complaining that he's hungry :)   Not for me, though, I didn't have much appetite for eating.  I had too much of good food when I was in Hong Kong and Indonesia that I didn't feel like making anything.  Plus, with an extra five-pound around my waist, I'd better watch what I eat!

Thus, no recipe, no new food pictures, nothing to share at this moment; well, except for this photo of mango ice cream I got to savor in Hong Kong.  Looks like this month would be a very relaxing month for me.  I'm slowly getting back to my routine and am trying to enjoying a mild summer in Oregon.  After a month of heat and humidity, it's quite nice to have a mid-70's temperature, though the mornings could be a bit cold for me now.  I don't want the summer to go away too soon, but I've been away for a month, for pete's sake!

One chore that I have to do (a must for the summer!) is picking blueberries on the backyard of my parents' house.  I wanted to make blueberry sauce and pie filling this time; sounds wonderful isn't it?  Maybe this will be a momentum for my writing to get going!  Fingers crossed :)