Thursday, July 24, 2014

Orange-Glazed Salmon

Wild sockeye salmon is in season right now and I wanted to eat it before the season ended so here's what I did to the fish.  With a simple rub of Cajun and orange marmalade glaze, this is a sure winning recipe for eating simple, flavorful, and satisfying meal.  We ate it with rice pilaf, our favorite side dish to eat with fish, and steamed carrots--totally coincidental, I didn't realize it's the same color as the salmon until after!  If Seville orange marmalade is hard to find, you can substitute with regular orange marmalade, but double the amount of lime juice used.  

Orange-Glazed Salmon

Makes 4 fillets

3 tablespoons Cajun seasoning (salt-free)
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 boneless, skinless salmon fillets (6 oz. each)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup Seville orange marmalade
1 tablespoon lime juice
Lime wedges

Combine Cajun seasoning, sugar, and salt in a small bowl.  Rub over all surfaces of fillets.

Saute fillets in oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat for 3-4 minutes.  Turn and saute an additional 2-3 minutes.

Blend marmalade and lime juice; swirl in skillet until melted.  Carefully turn fish to glaze on all sides.  The salmon is done when it begins to flake when tested with a fork.

Serve with lime wedges.

Source:  Cuisine at Home

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Chile and Cheese Quiche

Is everyone enjoying the summer weather?  I am.  Everytime I drive with my windows open, I'm reminded how happy I am to be able to feel the warmth of the sun.  Yes, there're days with scorching heat even in Oregon, but thanks to a window AC, those are bearable :)  The only thing I despise to do when it's too hot is to water my yard.  Last Sunday when we had a thunderstorm, I felt relieved, literally!

This recipe that I'm writing is one that I think is yummy for a summer meal.  It's a quiche with Southwestern flavor, and the main proteins are cheese and eggs.  Really, you can make a wonderful meal with great tasting cheese and good quality eggs, I don't think my family ever gets bored by those two.  Yes, there's pastry crust that needs to be done first but it's not that hard to make one.  Pair this quiche with whatever vegetables in season or even chips and salsa, you'll have a complete meal for the day.  

Chile and Cheese Quiche

Serves 6 to 8

1 recipe Flaky Pastry (recipe follows), refrigerated for 30 minutes
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon chili powder
1 ½ cups hal-and-half
1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chiles
½ cup sliced ripe black olives
2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions (white and green parts)
Guacamole for serving
Sour cream for serving

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Roll out the chilled pastry into a 12-inch circle and transfer to a 9-inch pie pan.  Flute the edges.

Mix the cheeses together and spread over the bottom of the pastry.  In a medium bowl, mix the eggs, salt, chili powder, half-and-half, chiles, olives, and green onion.  Pour the mixture over the cheeses in the pie pan.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center of the filling comes out clean.  Serve each piece with a dollop of guacamole and sour cream.

Flaky Pastry

Makes one 8- or 9-inch piecrust

¾ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 to 4 tablespoons ice water

In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt.  Using a pastry blender, two knives, or a pastry fork, cut in the butter until the fat is the size of dried peas.  Alternately, combine the ingredients in a food processor with the steel blade in place, and pulse.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, lemon juice, and 2 to 3 tablespoons of the ice water.  Drizzle the egg mixture over the flour mixture.  With a fork or spatula, mix until the pastry holds together in a ball, adding more ice water if necessary.

Turn out onto a work surface and knead lightly once or twice to shape the dough into a ball.  Wrap in aluminum foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes, before rolling out the dough.  Proceed as directed in the recipe you are using.

Source:  The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever by Beatrice Ojakangas

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Lemon-Blueberry Muffins

When life gives you blueberries, you'll make blueberry muffins, won't you?  I've abundant blueberries right now and since last week I've made blueberry pancakes to use them up.  The two blueberry plants in the backyard won't stop producing even some fruits fell to the ground.  One produces slightly sour and smaller fruits whereas the second one yields sweeter and bigger fruits.  I've never had to pick or buy blueberries for many years to come!

One of my favorite things to make with blueberries is muffins.  I like soft, fluffy and slightly sweet muffins to be the backdrop of juicy, sweet, some tart blueberry fruits.  These are good for breakfast, but don't let it stop you from eating it for snack as well.  

I like this recipe from America's Test Kitchen baking book, it's a great base muffin recipe that can be used for a variety of fruits or nuts fillings and it always makes good size muffins with soft texture.  I had last bit of Nancy's honey yogurt in my fridge (Nancy's a local yogurt company, based in Eugene, OR) and that's what I used to make these babies.  Often time I don't have yogurt but sour cream, and I think that works out well too.  Because of the soft texture of the muffins, I leave them longer in the pan after they're done baking.  That way, it'll hold its shape well when it's taken out.  

I also sprinkled some cinnamon-sugar mixture on top of the muffins to give them extra flavor.  Any little touch will make these muffins extra special :)

Lemon-Blueberry Muffins

Makes 12

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups whole plain yogurt
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon grated fresh lemon zest
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 ½ cups fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Cinnamon-sugar mixture, optional

Place a rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 375F.  Grease a 12-cup muffin pan.  Toss blueberries with 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour.

Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl.  In a medium bowl, whisk the yogurt, eggs, lemon zest, and melted butter until smooth.  Gently fold the yogurt mixture into the flour mixture with a rubber spatula until just combined, then fold in the blueberries.

Using a greased ice cream scooper, portion the batter into each muffin cup.  Scatter some cinnamon-sugar mixture if desired.  Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out with just a few crumbs attached, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.

Let the muffins cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then flip out onto a wire rack, and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Source:  The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Fresh blueberries

My son and I picked two bowlful of blueberries from my parents' backyard. And today, we made pancakes for breakfast with the blueberries. Truly, happiness is picking blueberries.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Twice-Baked Sour Cherry Pie

Happy Independence Day!  I hope you all get to eat good food today ;)  I'm making this sour cherry pie because my son and I picked sour cherry and sweet cherry a few days ago.  We went to an orchard in Sherwood on a hot day which I kinda regret it but it's the only day of this week that I could go and I really wanted to make this pie for today.  Cherries are starting to show up in the market and anywhere; sour cherries have a short season so don't miss it while it's available.  We didn't end up with too much of cherries, but it's enough to munch, for pie filling, and for freezing.  I also put cherries in my smoothies, oh, it's so good!  

The technique in pre-baking the crust is slightly different than what I used to make.  The crust is baked all the way in the beginning and then it's baked again with the filling.  You just have to watch out the rims of the crust that it doesn't get too dark.  I normally place a pie shield once I notice it starting to go brown.  This crust stays crisp after baking, which I really like; the filling's sweetness level is just right and the flavor is good.  I also had fun making stars for the upper crust.  Since it's the 4th of July, it's only fitting that stars decorate my pie today :)

Twice-Baked Sour Cherry Pie

Makes 1 9-inch pie

1 ¾ cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, more for rolling out dough
⅜ teaspoon kosher salt
15 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
1 cup sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons instant tapioca
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
2 pounds sour cherries (about 6 cups), rinsed and pitted
1 tablespoon kirsch or brandy
3 tablespoons heavy cream
Demerara sugar, for sprinkling

To make dough:  In bowl of a food processor, pulse together flour and salt just to combine.  Add butter and pulse until chickpea-size pieces form.  Add 3 to 6 tablespoons ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse until mixture just comes together.  Separate dough into 2 disks, one using ⅔ of dough, the other using the remaining.  Wrap disks in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour (and up to 3 days) before rolling out and baking.

Heat oven to 425F.  Place larger dough disk on a lightly floured surface and roll into a 12-inch circle, about ⅜-inch thick.  Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate.  Line dough with foil and weigh it down with pie weights.  Bake until crust is light golden brown, about 30 minutes.

While pie crust is baking, prepare filling.  In bowl of a food processor, combine sugar, tapioca, and cinnamon (use more tapioca if you prefer a thicker, more solid filling, and less if you like a looser, juicier filling).  Run the motor until tapioca is finely ground.  Place cherries in a bowl and add sugar and tapioca mixture.  Drizzle in kirsch or brandy and toss gently to combine.

When pie crust is ready, transfer it to a wire rack to cool slightly and reduce heat to 375F.  Remove foil and weights.  Scrape cherry filling to pie crust.

Place smaller disk of dough on a lightly floured surface and roll it ⅜-inch thick.  Use a star cookie cutter (or several star cookie cutters of different sizes) to cut out stars of dough.  Arrange stars on top of cherry filling in a pattern of your choice.

Brush top crust with cream and sprinkle generously with Demerara sugar.  Bake until crust is dark golden brown and filling begins to bubble, 50 minutes to 1 hour.  Transfer pie to a wire rack to cool for at least 2 hours, allowing filling to set before serving.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

A new home and peanut butter cookies

This blog is finally ready.  Since I started keeping a blog in 2005, I've moved my blog twice before to new address and I'm hoping this will be the last time that it moved.  I don't lose many posts when I moved this time, but still, it's a lot of tinkering to do with the layout.  I'm gonna let it be this simple for a while until I've time and energy to make it, maybe, better.  My blog is always meant for me to write recipes, post food photos, and have fun with the process of making food; it's never meant to be the most popular blog in the Internet.  I don't have the energy anymore, I'm getting old!  :D

With that, I'm going to start with this Peanut Butter Icebox Cookies.  I love this recipe because the cookies stay crisp and crunchy after many days, and it's a good medium to eat with other staple pantry foods, like Nutella and strawberry jam.  It's like a shortbread really.  The jam is homemade, made from my fresh picked Hood strawberries last month.  Easy to make, easy to eat.  And I think this goodies are just perfect things to have after the stress of moving.

I hope you'll enjoy your time as was before.  Thank you!

Peanut Butter Icebox Cookies

Makes about 40 to 48 cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
⅓ cup smooth peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
⅛ teaspoon almond extract
⅓ cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg

Sift together the flour, baking soda, and cinnamon, and set aside.  In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and peanut butter until soft and smooth.  Add the vanilla and almond extracts and both sugars and beat until incorporated.  Beat in the egg.  Then, on low speed, add the dry ingredients and beat until thoroughly mixed.

Turn the mixture out onto a work surface, knead it a bit, and then "push off" the dough as follows:  Form the dough into a ball; start at the far end of the dough and, using the heel of your hand, push off small pieces (the size of about 2 tablespoons) against the work surface and away from you.  Continue until all the dough has been pushed off.  Re-from the dough and push it off (or "break" it) again; re-form the dough (it will feel like clay).

Form the dough into a long round shape or a long oblong.  Either way, the shape should be 10 to 12 inches log and 1 ¾ to 2 inches in diameter.

Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours until firm, or place the wrapped dough in the freezer for 45 to 60 minutes until firm.

When you are ready to bake, adjust two racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350F.  Line cookie sheets with aluminum foil or parchment paper.  Slice the firm dough into ¼-inch slices.  Place them ½ to 1 inch apart on the lined sheets.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until lightly colored (darker on the rims), reversing the sheets top to bottom and front to back once during baking to ensure even browning.

With a wide metal spatula, transfer the cookies to racks to cool.

Source:  Maida Heatter's Cookies