Archive for August, 2012

August 13, 2012

Oatmeal Date Bars

Use the best-quality dates you can find! Fresh medjool dates are my favorite and they worked perfectly in this recipe. Store in an airtight container, the bars will keep for a couple days.

 

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Total time: 1 hour, largely unattended

Prep: 20 minutes

Cook: 40 minutes

  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pitted dates
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, diced, room temperature

 

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Butter 8×8-inch metal baking pan.

3. Bring 1 1/2 cups water to simmer in medium saucepan. Add dates; simmer until very soft and thick, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Stir in vanilla.

4. Combine flour, sugar, oats, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in large bowl; stir to blend.

 

5. Add butter. Using fingertips, rub in until moist clumps form.

6. Press half of oat mixture evenly over bottom of prepared pan. Spread date mixture over. Sprinkle with remaining oat mixture; press gently to adhere. Bake until brown at edges and golden brown and set in center, about 40 minutes. Cool completely in pan on rack. Cut into bars and serve.

 

Happy Eating!

 

Love,

Yang

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August 13, 2012

Whole Roasted Trout with Thyme, Lemon, and Garlic

This is a simple and beautiful dish that is so easy to make. Roasting in foil packets minimizes cleanup. Instead of trout, you can use salmon, halibut, catfish, striped bass, rockfish, branzino, etc. Instead of thyme, you can also use fresh parsley, basil, rosemary, dill, and/or tarragon. A perfect weekday dinner, serve with rice (or any whole grain) and a fresh salad.

Advance preparation: You can prepare the fish and make the foil packets several hours ahead. Keep in the refrigerator until shortly before cooking.

Total time: 15-20 minutes

Prep: 5 minutes

Cook: 10-15 minutes, unattended

Serves 1-2

Adapted from Recipes for Health

  • 1 whole rainbow trout, boned
  • few sprigs of thyme
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ lemon, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • sea salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 bay leaves (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

2. Grease the foil with olive oil so that the fish doesn’t stick to it when roasted. Season both sides with salt and pepper, and open it out flat, skin side down.

3. Place the bay leaves, thyme sprigs, and a couple lemon slices down the middle of the trout, and fold the two sides together. Drizzle some olive oil over the fish.

4. Making sure that the trout is in the middle of each square, fold up the foil loosely, grabbing at the edges and crimping together tightly to make a packet. Place on a baking sheet, and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, checking one of the packets after 10 minutes. The flesh should be opaque and pull apart easily when tested with a fork.

5. Place each packet on a plate. Carefully cut across the top to open it, taking care not to let the steam from inside the packet burn you. Gently remove the fish from the packet, and pour the juices over it. Serve.

Happy Eating!

Love,

Yang

August 10, 2012

Kung Pao Tofu

This is NOT the Americanized version of this classic Sichuan dish: this is the real deal! You can find Sichuan peppercorns at a Chinese grocery store on the cheap, or you can order them online. The Sichuan peppercorns give this dish its characteristic tingly sensation and spicy flavor. If you don’t have both dark and light soy sauce, you can just use 2 tsp of the soy sauce you have.

Time: 30 minutes

Serves 2

Adapted from Appetite for China

  • 16 ounces dou gan or extra firm tofu
  • 2 to 3 gloves garlic, minced
  • 5 slices of ginger
  • 5 to 6 scallions, roughly chopped, plus some thinly sliced scallions for optional garnish
  • 2 tbsp peanut oil
  • At least 10 dried red chilis (add more for more spice)
  • 1 tbsp whole Sichuan peppercorns (or ½ tsp ground Sichuan peppercorns)
  • At least one handful of dry roasted peanuts

Marinade

  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Shaoxing rice wine or medium dry sherry
  • 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp water

Sauce

  • 3 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp dark Soy sauce
  • 1 tsp light Soy sauce
  • 2 tsp dark rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp chicken stock or water

1. Cube the tofu and mix in the marinade ingredients. Let stand while you prepare the other ingredients.

2. If you haven’t done so already, mince the garlic and peel and slice the ginger. Roughly chop the white parts of scallions, and thinly slice the green parts for garnish (optional.) Either leave the dried chilis whole, or slice them in half and take out as many seeds as possible.

3. In another bowl, mix together the ingredients for the sauce and set aside. (Note: Different brands of soy sauces vary in terms of saltiness, so taste your sauce. If it’s too salty, add some sugar and water to dilute.)

4. Heat a wok with oil over high heat. Before the wok begins to smoke, add the chilis and Sichuan peppercorn. Stir-fry briefly until the chilis are slightly blistered and oil is slightly fragrant.

5. Add tofu and stir-fry 2 to 3 minutes.

6. Add garlic, ginger, and scallions, and stir-fry until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

7. Pour in sauce and mix to coat the other ingredients.

8. When the sauce is thickened and shiny, stir in peanuts.

9. Transfer to plates, garnish with thinly sliced scallions, and serve.

Happy Eating!

Love,

Yang

August 9, 2012

Artichoke, Goat Cheese, Sweet Pea, and Mint Ravioli with Lemon Chive Butter Sauce

More ravioli from Eastern Market! Again, the sauce is versatile: you can use any type of pasta you want!

Tip: If you don’t have a grater, you can shave the Parmigiano-Reggiano with a peeler.

Time: 15 minutes

Serves 4

  • Pasta, of choice
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • small bunch of fresh chives, finely chopped
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1. Cook the pasta.

2. While your pasta cooks, melt butter over medium-high heat; cook until golden brown.

3. Add chives and remove from heat. Add lemon juice and set aside.

4. Drain the pasta, but leaving some cooking water, and gently pour into saute pan and return to heat.

5. Add the cheese, toss to coat, season with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.

Happy Eating!

Love,

Yang

August 9, 2012

Roasted Eggplant and Heirloom Tomato Stacks with Pesto and Feta

This is a delicious Greek-Mediterranean fusion recipe that features the beautiful produce of summer. Since there are so few ingredients in this recipe, make sure that each ingredient is the freshest and best quality you can find! Be careful not to over-season, since the feta is naturally salty. Although this is best eaten right away, you can make a big batch and store in the fridge for about a week. This would be great in a sandwich or wrap for a weekday lunch or as a quick snack.

 

Time: 30 minutes

Serves 4

Adapted from Gluten-Free Veggie Gourmet

  • Olive oil
  • Basil Pesto
  • 2 medium eggplants
  • 3 large tomatoes
  • 3 oz feta, crumbled (about 3/4 cup), more if you desire
  • Garnish: finely shredded fresh basil leaves

 

1. Preheat oven to 450F and line a baking pan with foil.

2. Cut off bottoms of eggplants, then cut 1/4″ thick crosswise rounds. Cut 1/3” thick rounds from the tomatoes.

Gorgeous heirloom tomatoes from DC’s Eastern Market

3. On baking pan, arrange the eggplant rounds side by side. Lightly brush eggplant rounds on both sides with olive oil to keep the eggplant moist and to prevent it from sticking to the foil. Season with a little salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 8 minutes.


4. Spread each eggplant round with pesto, then top each with the largest tomato rounds. Top the tomato rounds with feta. Make another layer with eggplant rounds, pesto, tomato rounds, and feta, then top with remaining eggplant and feta.

Roasted eggplant

Stacks on stacks on stacks!

5. Roast in the oven for about 10 minutes, until heated through and cheese on top is softened. Transfer stacks to 4 plates and drizzle plates with olive oil, salt, and pepper, to taste.

Happy Eating!

 

Love,

Yang

August 9, 2012

Basil Pesto

Basil pesto is a staple everyone should know how to make: it’s versatile (put it on eggs, pasta, risotto, fresh vegetables, chicken, sandwiches, wraps, stir it in a soup, etc.), it’s delicious, and it’s EASY!

Tip: Fresh pesto will keep in the refrigerator for a week or two. You can also make a big batch and freeze it for several months in ice cube trays. Use the pesto “cubes” as needed. If freezing, don’t stir in the cheese; stir in the cheese by hand just before serving.

Time: 5-15 minutes

Makes about 1 cup

Adapted from Mark Bittman, How to Cook Everything

  • 2 loosely packed cups fresh basil leaves, big stems discarded, rinsed and dried
  • ½ to 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts, lightly toasted in a dry skillet
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, or more
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan or other hard cheese (optional)
  • salt, to taste

1. Combine the basil, salt, garlic, nuts and about half the oil in a food processor or blender (or mortar and pestle).

Pine nuts

Toasted pine nuts

Quality extra virgin olive oil

2. Process, stopping to scrape down the sides of the container occasionally, and adding the rest of the oil gradually. Add additional oil if you prefer a thinner mixture.

Pesto!

3. Stir in the parmesan by hand just before serving.

Happy Eating!

Love,

Yang

August 8, 2012

Sichuan Eggplant

This is a classic Sichuan dish that is spicy, sour, salty, and sweet all at the same time. You can find Sichuan peppercorns at a Chinese grocery store on the cheap, or you can order them online. The Sichuan peppercorns give this dish its characteristic tingly sensation and spicy flavor.

Tip: To grind the Sichuan peppercorns: Toast peppercorns in a dry heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until very fragrant and smoking, 3 to 5 minutes (be careful not to let them burn). Grind, while still hot, to a powder in an electric coffee/spice grinder (or a blender/food processor). If you want, you can sift through a fine sieve, discarding hulls.

 

Time: 30 minutes

Serves 4

Adapted from Appetite for China

  • 1 1/2 pounds Asian eggplant
  • 2 tablespoons chicken stock, or substitute water
  • 2 tablespoons chili bean paste
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar, or substitute good-quality balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorns
  • Scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish

Toasted and ground Sichuan peppercorns

1. Slice each eggplant in half lengthwise, then slice each length into quarters. Cut each quarter in somewhat substantial, but still bite-sized, cubes (about 1 1/4-inch to 1 1/2-inch cubes).

2. Prepare the sauce: In a small bowl, mix together the chicken stock, chili bean paste, soy sauce, rice vinegar, rice wine, sugar, and cornstarch. Set aside.

3. Heat the oil in a wok over high heat until a bead of water sizzles and evaporates on contact. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil and swirl the pan to coat the base and sides. Add the eggplants and stir-fry until outsides become golden brown and insides begin to soften, about 2 to 3 minutes.

4. Add the garlic, ginger, and Sichuan peppercorn and stir-fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

 

5. Pour in the sauce mixture and mix well. Simmer for 3 to 4 minutes to allow the eggplant to fully cook and the sauce to thicken enough to coat the back of a spoon.

6. Remove from the heat, plate, and sprinkle scallions on top.

Happy Eating!

 

Love,

Yang

August 6, 2012

Pumpkin Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter

Ok, I didn’t make this pasta (it’s from DC’s Eastern Market), but it’s fresh! This is a delicious and comforting fall recipe and it can also be a quick weeknight recipe because it’s versatile: you can use any type of pasta you want!

Tip: If you don’t have a grater, you can shave the Parmigiano-Reggiano with a peeler.

Time: 15 minutes

Serves 4

Adapted from Mario Batali

  • Pasta, of choice
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 8 sage leaves
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1. Cook the pasta.

2. While your pasta cooks, melt butter in a saute pan and continue cooking until golden brown color appears in the thinnest liquid of the butter.

3. Add sage leaves and remove from heat. Add lemon juice and set aside.

4. Drain the pasta, but leaving some cooking water, and gently pour into saute pan and return to heat.

5. Add the cheese, toss to coat, season with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.

Happy Eating!

Love,

Yang

August 2, 2012

Raspberry Mint Limeade

I like lemonade, but I LOVE limeade. This drink is refreshing, good for you, gorgeous, and perfect for summer. Use fresh limes! To extract the juice more easily, cut the limes in half and microwave them for 30 seconds. Use more or less honey or sugar depending on how sweet you like it.

Adapted from An Hour In The Kitchen

Time: 20 minutes

Makes 1 quart

  • 1 cup lime juice (6-10 limes)
  • 1 pint fresh raspberries
  • ¼ cup fresh mint
  • ½ cup honey or sugar
  • 2 cups water

1. Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.

2. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve to remove seeds.

3. Serve over ice and garnish with mint and lime slice.

Happy Eating!

Love,

Yang

August 2, 2012

White Peach and Basil Salad with Orange Honey Champagne Vinaigrette

This is another quick summer salad recipe. White peaches are my favorite: they’re sweeter than regular peaches and have a firmer texture.  You can substitute the delicate champagne vinegar with a little bit of white wine vinegar, rice vinegar, raspberry vinegar, or apple cider vinegar (all of which are not as mild as champagne vinegar, so use less).

 

Time: 10 minutes

Serves 1

 

Salad

  • 1 white peach, diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 bunch of salad greens

 ORANGE HONEY CHAMPAGNE VINAIGRETTE

  • Juice of ½ orange
  • 1 tbsp champagne vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 4 tbsp good quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

 

1. Whisk the vinaigrette.

2. Toss the salad with the vinaigrette.

Happy Eating!

Love,

Yang

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