Tuesday, December 16, 2008

5 Dishes, 5 Roses, and an Early Christmas

UWAGA: very long entry.

With that being said, here comes a mega-update with enough recipes to last for the rest of the year. So consider this the last 2008 update as I will be gone for the next few weeks for Christmas break, yayyyy. So to what do I owe this extreme pleasure of laboring 4 hours on a Saturday night? You've guessed it: Christmas dinner! Last year JLo and I spent Christmas eve roaming the streets Madrid looking for an underground Chinese restaurant recommended by my aunt. This year, we'll probably be end up in a long cue outside a kebab store in some hidden corner of Istanbul. I'm not saying that it's gonna suck, but who wouldn't want to spend Christmas at home and enjoy a hearty home-cooked meal followed by long movies and an endless supply of Christmas cookies? Mmmhmm, that's when i decided to surprise JLo with a Christmas dinner that I have been preparing in my mind for the past few days:
  1. Roast Chicken
  2. Potatoes Au Gratin
  3. Caesar Salad
  4. Salmon risotto
  5. Simple corn sautee

Yea i know, these 5 dishes sounds simple enough but let me tell you, the preparation was freakin' hard work especially when you're doing it alone! To think that I thought I'd have some time in the middle to whip up some cookies or dessert AND pick out a nice romantic movie, HA! Yea, right. I'm just glad there was actually food on the table. So even though my dinner didn't turn out exactly as planned, at least I still got to spend some quality, fattening, weight-gaining time with JLo while watching the 2008 Victoria Secret's Fashion Show. Mmmhmm, great combination, i tell you. So enough with the blabber, here are 3 recipes of my Christmas dinner (salmon risotto and corn sautee aren't special enough to share) :
P.S Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Caesar Salad
from allrecipes.com

  • 6 cloves garlic
    (3 cloves for the salad dressing, 3 cloves for the croutons)
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 6 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated and divided
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 cups day-old bread, cubed
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces

  1. Mince 3 cloves of garlic, and combine in a small bowl with mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cut the remaining 3 cloves into quarters, and add to hot oil. Cook and stir until brown, then remove garlic from pan. Add bread cubes to the hot oil. Cook, turning frequently, until lightly browned. Remove bread cubes from oil, and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Place lettuce in a large bowl. Toss with dressing, remaining Parmesan cheese, and seasoned bread cubes.

Lemon Thyme Roast Chicken

from foodwishes (youtube), about.com
  • - 1 whole chicken
  • - 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • - 1/2 cup of butter, at room temperature
  • - 3 teaspoons of dried thyme, divided
  • - 1 lemon, zested and sliced
  • - salt and pepper


  1. COMPOUND BUTTER= Combine the butter, garlic, 2 teaspoons thyme, lemon zest, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl and mash until completely mixed [picture 1].
  2. Rinse the chicken and remove any giblets from the cavity. Cut off the chicken neck if they haven't done so.
  3. Position the turkey so that the cavity is facing you and you are working forward towards the neck. Using a long, thin flexible rubber or silicon spatula, slowly slide the tool between the skin and the flesh of the breasts on both side of the breastbone [picture 2].
  4. The skin is fairly tough and won't tear if you go slowly and carefully. You can pretty much separate the skin all the way from the cavity, where you started, to the front of the breast, and down toward the wing joint. Do this on both side of the breast, but leave the skin attached along the center of breastbone itself.
  5. Then simply divide the butter mixture in half and stuff it under the skin on both sides and massage it down toward the front of the bird. Spread as evenly as possible, but don't worry about getting it perfect, as it will melt and spread out as the chicken roasts [picture 3, 4].
  6. Season the chicken cavity with 1 teaspoon of thyme, salt, and pepper. Then stuff it with the sliced lemon [picture 5].
  7. Truss the chicken by using kitchen twine to tie up the legs (or you can just criss-cross and stuff the legs into the cavity to close it). Trussing helps the chicken to cook evenly, and it also makes for a more beautiful roasted bird [picture 6].
  8. Place the chicken on a roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil, 1 teaspoon of thyme, and season with salt and pepper [picture 7].
  9. Bake for 60 minutes and check for doneness by inserting a thermometer into the thigh meat; it should read 75 C (165 F). Cover the breasts with a piece of foil if it's getting too brown towards the end of the cooking time [picture 8].

Potatoes Au Gratin
from harvesteating.com

  • 2 lbs thinly sliced potatoes
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup of onions, chopped
  • 2 cups infused milk and cream
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/2 cup of seasoned bread crumbs

  1. Using a Mandoline, slice the potatoes as thin as you can. If you don't have a Mandoline, just slice it as think as possible with a normal knife.
  2. Put the sliced potatoes in water if you're not ready to make this, keeps it from oxidizing.
  3. Layer in the order of potatoes (dried), cheese, onions, milk mixture, salt and pepper. Repeat until your heavy bottomed baking dish is full.
  4. Top with remaining cheese and seasoned bread crumbs.
  5. Bake at 375F until bubbly and starting to brown.

J&A's Pseudo-Christmas Dinner 2008

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sausage & Pepper Calzone

I'm on a roll!! Updating the next day? Yea, i must be really bored. After the 4 pharmacology quizzes i had on Monday and Tuesday (that's right, 4 in 2 days), i immersed myself into a night of brainless Animal Crossing on NDS (which currently ranks #1 in my guilty pleasure list). I don't know if it was my burning heater or what, but i had a hard time sleeping last night. My conscience then woke me up before my alarm this morning, urging me to go to General Surgery. So I took the god-forsaken A bus to M1 only to find out only 2 other people showed up. SIGHHH... second time this happened! But ah well, at least i unexpectedly won over a scrub-in surgery from Patrica in a game of rock-paper-scissors, wahahaha. So i came home at noon with the entire day ahead of me and with absolutely NOTHING to do (or nothing i wanted to do). Aiii... so after a few hours of 混-ing around, I decided I'd sublimate my apathy/pms into some rigorous dough kneading which turned out to be quite therapeutic and gratifying. Mmhmm, i'm talking about the Calzone pictured above, isn't it lovely! Oozing globs of mozzarella points the way to my <3 heart <3.

Sausage & Pepper Calzone
from Keith Snow (youtube)
  • Prepared pizza dough (see recipe here)
  • Green peppers, chopped
  • Red onions, chopped
  • Button mushrooms, sliced
  • Meat medley (sausages, ham, salami, chicken, ground meat... etc)
  • Basil & Oregano (to taste)
  • Mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • Salt & pepper (to taste)
  • 1 egg (for egg wash)

  1. Pizza dough instructions can be found here, click me! Separate the dough into 6 balls and let it rise for 1 hour [picture 1].
  2. While dough is rising, prepare all the ingredients and set aside [picture 2].
  3. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium-heat. Stir in onions, green peppers and mushrooms, saute for 2 minutes [picture 3].
  4. Stir in the sausages or anything uncooked (ham and salami can be left out). Season with basil, oregano, salt, and pepper [picture 4]. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. Roll the dough out into an oval shape, and spoon the prepared filling (and any other topping) onto the dough. (place the mozzarella slices on top last) [pictures 5, 6].
  6. Fold the dough in half and seal the edges [picture 7].
  7. Place the calzones in a baking sheet and use a knife to make 3 slits on the calzone (helps steam escape). Brush the top with egg wash [picture 8].
  8. Bake at 190 degrees C for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Serve hot with Marinara sauce (recipe here).

Sausage & Pepper Calzone
served with Marinara Sauce

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

JLo's Hybrid 油飯 (Fried Glutinous Rice)

I haven't updated in a while and there's a good explanation for that. I've been extreeeeemly busy spending 8-11 hours at the hospital everyday for the past few weeks. Though i still get some time for myself after school, cooking would be the last thing on my mind. I rather sit in front of my computer for 3 hours munching on stale bread than to leave my toasty room for a 15 step excursion to the kitchen. Mmmhmm... a 2 hour minimum (or more) of 混-ing is required to keep me sane. Sigh... COME, CHRISTMAS, COME! May Santa grant me a blow torch this year to set my schedule aflame. Sheeeesh. So anyways, after a month, I'm finally updating on JLo's 油飯. I was gonna make him write this entry instead but then I thought, 算了... I think I'll pass on having my boyfriend write about his Ex's mom, cuz that's where this recipe came from.... AWK-WARD. wa.ha.ha... 好吃就好, 好吃就好了嘛! I'm just glad he cooked for me :) and made something other than chicken and rice...

JLo's 油飯 Fried Glutinous Rice
  • 2 steamer cups glutinous rice (long grain)
  • 2 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 5 shiitake mushrooms, soaked and sliced
  • 1/2 cup fried shallots
  • 1 hand full dried shrimps, soaked.
  • 1-2 tablespoons rice wine [or as needed]
  • 1 cup Cha-Shao
  • 2-3 tablespoons [or as needed] Lee Kum Kee's seasoned soy sauce for seafood (蒸魚醬油)
  • 1-2 tablespoons XO sauce (optional)
  • 1.5 steamer cups water

  1. Soak the glutinous rice in water for 2 hours. Drain well and set aside. [picture 1]
  2. Heat a wok or frying pan and add 2 tablespoons of sesame oil.
  3. When the oil is hot, add in the mushrooms, shrimps, and dried shallots. Stir-fry until fragrant, adding rice wine when it gets too dry. [picture 2]
  4. Next, add the Cha-Shao, XO sauce, and soy sauce. Continue to stir-fry, adding rice wine if it gets too dry. [picture 3]
  5. Add in the glutinous rice and stir-fry briefly until the rice is coated in a light brown color, adding more soy sauce if needed. [picture 4, 5]
  6. Scoop everything into your steamer pot and add 1.5 steamer cups of water.
  7. Pour 2 steamer cups of water in the outer layer of your steamer. Cover and steam. [picture 6]
  8. If your rice is undercooked, don't worry! Just add more water to the rice and continue steaming.

JLo's Hybrid 油飯 (Fried Glutinous Rice)