Sunday, August 31, 2008

Copycat of Feast's Fennel, Radish, and Orange Salad

I had this salad at Feast and once again, they got me thinking outside my inexperienced box. The recipe is easy to figure out. I have no idea where to begine with measurements.

1 orange, peeled and sliced
bulb of fennel
few basil leaves
white vinegar
teeny bit of olive oil
chili powder and paprika
roasted garlic??

Mix the salad up as in the picture. For the dressing I just mixed mayo with vinegar until it was slightly creamy. Add a little oil. Be careful not to add too much vinegar. Add whatever spices you want. I choose chili powder and paprika. I couldnt remember what the spice was I tasted. I think there was garlic in there too, but I'm not certain. But I'm a garlicaholic, so in my opinion you can just go ahead and add it it everything!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Chilean Sea Bass and Asparagus w/ Lemon Beurre Blanc

After the'll get the recipe.

Garam Masala Scallops w/ Curried Fufu

Again, recipe to come at the 15th...

Sunflower Greens, Cherry Tomatos, Shaved Cranberries, and Pecan Crusted Brillant Savarian

Sunflower greens are very nutty. I love them. I think they go well with sweet and nutty flavors.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Green Pepper and Crab Bisque

My husband recently met me for lunch in downtown Houston. We decided to splurge and go to Ibiza. Normally, I only go here when my company is paying for it. They have this really tasty green pepper crab bisque. My husband loved it. So we decided I'd have myself a throw down. Ultimately, my husband said it was a tie. They both taste different enough to make comparing difficult. Here is the recipe I came up with.

4 c. fish stock (frozen is best)
2 bay leaves
2 tsp. old bay seasoning
1/3-1/2 lb. jumbo lump crab meat (the prepackaged kind at Whole Foods is good)
1 small lobster tail
1 c. heavy cream
1 tblsp. butter
1 tblsp. flour
1/2 onion
1 green bell pepper
1 poblano pepper
1 c. fresh spinach
1 celery stalk
salt and pepper to taste

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Wash the two peppers and place on a cooking sheet. Bake in the oven until soft, about 20-25 minutes.

2. Cut the lobster tail in half and remove the meat and set aside.

3. Place the lobster shell in a stock pot with the fish stock, bay leaf, celery stalk, and old bay seasoning. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 10-15 minutes. The lobster shell gives a nice flavor to the stock.

4. Meanwhile, in another pot melt butter with the onions saute until soft.

5. Mix flour into the butter/onion mix. Cook the flour for a rouge.

6. Strain the stock in a seeve into another bowl, netting out the tail shell, the bay leaves, and the celery stalk from the stock, and slowly pour the stock into the butter/onion rouge, one cup at a time, mixing constantly.

7. Add the heavy cream to the mix.

8. Remove the peppers from the oven. Remove seeds and stems (haha, that sounds interesting)and place the peppers with the spinach in a food processor. Grind it all up and add it to the soup.

9. Put the lobster meat into the food processor to shred it up.

10. Add the lobster meat to the soup. Cook for 10 minutes.

11. Add the crabmeat to the soup. Cook for an additional 5-10 minutes.

Note: If you have a basic understand of what "bisque" is, you can go crazy with making your own version. Crab Bisque is basically a 1 part cream to 4 parts fish stock with about 1 tbslp butter for every 2 cups of stock. Variations of this recipe might include adding butternut squash instead of peppers or cauliflower. Also try adding some cream sherry to the bisque. It gives it a little kick and sweetness. You could add corn. Mix it up. Good luck!

Manadrin, Almond, Red Pepper and Feta Salad

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Beet, Peach, Apple, Blue Cheese Salad w/ Balsamic

This was just a little improvised side for the bisque. It turned out well.


1 bag bibb lettuce
1/2 c. blue cheese
1 can beets
1 green apple
1 peach

Just layer it all. Make a good dressing by mixing balsamic with olive oil and lemon. taste as you go. It is really very easy.

Chocolate Molten Cake

Discussion to come...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Shrimp Empanadas

My husband loved the "Beef" and Cheese Empanadas so much, that he requested I copy the shrimp empanadas from Escalante's. I did, and I must say, I've beat them :)


Follow the recipe for "Beef and Cheese Empanadas" for the dough.


1/2 lb shrimp
1/2 block Monterrey jack cheese (it is kind of hard to add too much or too little)
1/2 onion chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 red pepper chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 tblsp. cumin
1/2 tblsp. chili powder
salt and pepper to taste

1. Saute onion, red pepper, and garlic in olive oil until soft, about 8 minutes

2. Add tomato and spices. Cook until soft.

4. Add Shrimp. Cook for 3.5 minutes.

5. Remove the filling from heat.

6. Add one tblsp. filling to the empananda wrapper, and deep fry following the "Beef and Cheese Empanada" recipe.


1 bunch of fresh cilantro

Okay, so I don't measure--I need to.

In a food processor mince the leaves of the bunch of cilantro. Add about 1/2 c. mayo and 2 tblsp. vinegar. The sauce needs to be creamy and runny, so add enough vinegar to do this.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Heirloom Caprese Salad

I love heirloom tomatoes. They are so delicious. This weekend I bought three--a deep red one, a red one, and a yellow one. Here is the recipe for the salad I made using them.

3 tricolored heirloom tomatoes
20 fresh basil leaves
2 tsp. grated red onion
1 tsp grated green apple
1/4 c. basil oil (regular olive oil will work)
2 tblsp. sherry vinegar
2 balls of the Mozerella di buffelo
salt and pepper to taste

1. Mix the grated onions and apple with the oil and vinegar. Shake well. Taste the dressing and add salt and pepper as desired.

2. Slice the tomatoes and cheese into equally thick slices.

3. Stack the tomatoes, cheese, basil, until you have about 6 layers. Pour the dressing on top and around.

Then eat it. :)

Barbeque Soy Chicken

This is the easiest thing in the world.


1 bag of Morningstar Soy Chicken Strips
barbeque sauce
Hamburger Buns

1. Defrost chicken strips over night in the refrigerator.

2. Mix enough bbq sauce with chicken to coat.

3. Microwave for 2 minutes.

4. Serve on the hamburger buns.

Green Beans w/ Truffle Oil, Garlic, and Murcia Curado

Again, I improvised. Go by taste. I don't measure. I wish I did, it would be easier to put in the blog...


1 lb. Haricot Verts (French Green Beans)
3/4 red onion, sliced thinly
6 cloves of garlic. chopped in quarters
2-3 tsp. truffle oil
1/2 tsp butter
Murcia Curado shavings
salt and pepper to taste

1. First blanch the green beans in boiling water until a little soft, but not too much--maybe 3 minutes.

2. Saute onion, garlic, truffle oil, and butter until they are soft. Add the salt and pepper to the saute to taste.

3. When the green beans are done, drain, and add to the onion and garlic mix. Saute for an additional 1-2 minutes.

4. Arrange the green bean dish on a plate and top with shavings of murcia curado. Try to make them more thick than thin.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Potato Salad with Herbs de Provence

I made all new things for lunch today. I made all of my recipes up, and unfortunately, I didn't write anything down. But I'm going to do my best to remember. Really, I highly recommend just buying some of the ingredients and modifying by tasting as you go. Don't be afraid to try new things. This is how you learn.

Here is what was on the lunch menu: Potato salad with herbs de Provence; French green beans with garlic, truffle oils, red onions, and murcia curado cheese; and barbecue soy chicken.

Potato Salad:

1 bag of red jacket potatoes from Whole Foods
1/4 red onion, finely diced
3/4 c. mayo (more or less, depending on your taste--taste it as you go)
5 eggs, hard-boiled and chopped
1 tsp. of each of the following, Thyme, oregano, rosemary, sage, bay leaf, basil, savory, marjoram, chives, tarragon, and anything else you want--(it really is up to you)
2 tblsp. white vinegar
salt and pepper to taste.

1. boil a deep pot of water plus a couple tsp. salt. Add red jacket potatoes. Cook for 15 minutes.

2. Drain potatoes and sliced into quarters. Mix with all of the other ingredients. Mix well.

Recipe Note: It is hard to mess up potato salad. Taste it as you go. This is what I do.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Tyrokavteri with Cannellini Beans

I wanted to make hummas. And I pulled out the can of what I thought was garbanzo beans, opened it up, and thought "hmm, those are small garbanzo beans". So I looked closer and realized I grabbed a can of cannellini beans. Now that I had it opened, I had to use it. So I decided I'd make a hybrid tyrokavteri with beans. Tyrokavteri is a greek dip made with just roasted red peppers and feta.


1 can of cannellini beans (garbanzo would work too)
3 roasted red peppers from the jar
1 small block (1/2 in. thick 2X3 rectangular--really you don't have to be exact)
1 lemon
2 tblsp. olive oil
1 tsp. tahini
1/2 tsp. white pepper
salt to taste

1. squeeze the juice of the lemon out into a food processor, then mix in the remaining ingrediants. Mix it all up until it is smooth.

2. Serve with fresh basil leaves and pita bread.

Fereni (Iranian Rice Pudding with Rose Water)

For Christmas this year my inlaws gave me the famed Iranian cook book New Food of Life by Najmieh Batmanglij. This book is probably in every Persian-American's kitchen. My father in law follows the recipes to the T and makes some very good dishes from it.

Since my husband loves Fereni, he once requested that I make it. The first time I followed Batmanglij recipe. It came out not thick enough and not as rose-tasting as I'd like. So I've made a few modifications. I think I got it down pat now. My husband ate about 4 bowls the last time I made it--he loves the stuff.

My Recipe:

1/4 c. Plus 2 Tblsp. rice flour
4 c. Milk
3 tbsp. rose water
1/2 c. sugar

1. In a saucepan, combine all the ingredients. Cook for about 15-20 minutes stirring almost constantly (good exercise for your arm) until it is thick and creamy.

2. When thick, remove from heat and pour in a bowl and refrigerate at least 8 hrs. When ready to serve garnish with finely chopped pistachios and chopped rose petals. Nush-e Jan! :)

Beef and Cheese Empanadas (Vegetarian)

I also made this recipe up.


1 pkg. of Fango brand empanada dough (you can buy this at Phoenicia in the frozen food or at Fiesta)
1 bag Morningstar ground soy beef
1 small onion sliced
3 cloves garlic chopped
1 1/2 tblsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 8 oz block of Monterrey jack cheese, shredded with grater
4 tblsp. salsa (any kind will do, this is just acting as a wetting agent)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Defrost empanada dough and soy meat by placing in the refrigerator the night before.

2. Heat deep fryer to 350, or if on stove fill deep pot with enough canola oil to cover the empanadas, maybe four inches (get a deep fryer if you plan to fry often--it is worth it)

3. saute onion and garlic with a little oil in a pan. Mix in salsa and cumin and cook just a minute.

4. Place the onion/garlic/salsa mix in a food processor. Grind up. Then add the soy meat and cheese. Mix up.

5. Now, take a heaping tblsp. of the mix and place in the center of the empanada dough wrapper. Fold over in a half moon and with the tip of a fork seal the edges around. Do this until you run out of wrappers or filling.

6. Deep fry until golden brown.

Cook's Note: You can make a sauce by just mixing salsa and a little mayo, or mix 1/4 cup mayo with finely chopped fresh cilantro and enough vinegar to make it a little creamy and runny--this is what they do at Escalantes in Houston. Also get creative with the filling. You could also add corn or mashed black beans or even chicken (soy of course).

Stuffed Green Pepper (Vegetarian)

When I was younger my mother used to make stuffed green peppers. Her recipe was very basic. As a child I hated it, because it had ground beef in it. I hated meat when I was younger, which was my original reason for being a vegetarian. It wasn't until adulthood that I discovered there are sooo many more reasons not to eat meat (thanks to my wonderfully ethical and educated husband:). I later tried my mother's recipe and liked it--with soy ground beef. I've modified her recipe to work with soy meat. When you are using real beef, the recipe can be simple, because the beef adds flavor. Soy beef can be bland, and needs a little kick. I add tons of herbs. It is delicious.


1 bag of Morningstar ground beef
1 c. uncooked long grain white rice
2 c. water
6-8 green bell peppers
2 (14.5 oz.) cans crushed tomatoes
1/4 c. white cooking wine
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped finely
1/4 c. pine nuts
1 tblsp. dried tarragon
1 tblsp. dried oregano
1 tblsp. dried sage
1 tblsp. dried basil
1 tblsp. dried fennel seeds
1 tblsp. dried dill weed
1 tblsp. dried mint
1 tblsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. cumin
salt and pepper to taste

If using soy beef, defrost the the soy beef by putting it in the refrigerator a day ahead.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Place the rice and water in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and cook 20 minutes. In a skillet over medium heat, cook the onions and garlic until evenly browned. Remove 2 tblsp. of the onion/garlic mixture for the sauce and set aside. Add a little more oil and add herbs and pine nuts and saute for about 1 or so minutes. Add the soy beef, and saute only until the beef looks warmed. Remove from heat and mix with cooked rice.

For the sauce, mix the crushed tomatoes and reserved onion garlic mixture in a sauce pan. Add salt to taste. Also add white wine and cook until reduced a bit.

Cut the tops of the peppers off and remove the seeds and membrane inside. Reserve the tops for later, but cut the seed portion off. Fill each pepper with the rice and soy beef filling. Arrange peppers in a baking dish with the hollowed sides facing upward. (Slice the bottoms of the peppers slightly if necessary so that they will stand upright.)

Pour the tomato sauce over the stuffed peppers. Top the peppers off with the reserved tops.

Bake 1 hour in the preheated oven, basting with sauce in the dish every 15 minutes, until the peppers are tender.

Cook's Note: This recipe is easy to be creative with. Try adding some goat cheese, feta, lentils, garbanzo beans, or olives to the filling.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Vegetarian Eggrolls

One of the wedding gifts I received is an Emeril deep fryer. I have really been enjoying this thing. I used to be afraid of deep frying after I gave myself 3rd degree burns on my hands and singed my hair and eyebrows from a deep frying accident where I spilled hot oil in WATER! Don't ever do that. Not only did I hurt myself, I really messed up my mother's kitchen. Anyway, the Emeril fryer is nothing to fear.

Here is my own recipe for vegetarian eggrolls. Enjoy!

1 bag of slaw mix (cabbage and carrots and stuff)
1 bag of morningstar soy chicken strips, chopped up into bitsy pieces.
1/2 c. english peas (frozen is fine)
1/2 c. corn kernels
1 tsp. Chinese Five Spice
1 Pkg. of the large wontons (Kroger has two sizes--small and large)
1 tsp. Low sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp. hoisen sauce
salt and pepper to taste

1. De-thaw Moringstar chicken overnight in the refrigerator.

2. Saute the slaw mix, peas, corn in oil until soft, about 10 minutes.

3. Add the chopped soy chicken (if you add it too early it gets dried out) to the vegetable mix, along with the spices and sauces and salt and pepper. (Taste it to see if you want to add any more)

4. Take one wonton at a time, and brush the edges with water.

5. Place 2 tbsp. the filling on one corner of the wonton wrapper. Roll the corner over it, then fold in the side corners and roll the rest of the way. Try to keep the rolls as tight as possible without breaking the wrapper. I thought it was easiest to mash the filling tightly together in your hand before putting it in the wrapper.

6. Place a couple of the wrapped eggrolls in the hot oil (If you are using a pan on the stove, make sure it is enough to cover the eggrolls. If you are using an Emeril fryer, or any other fryer, make sure you have enough oil to cover the rolls.) Fry until golden brown. Remove from oil and place on paper towels to drain.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Deviled Quail Eggs

The recipe is simple. Though making them is difficult. It requires gentleness and patience. Finding quail eggs can be hard, depending on where you live. Once you find them, peeling is a trick. You have to be very gentle! Then getting the yolks out, while leaving the little fragile white intact is hard. Filling and transporting them is even hard. But they are so pretty when finished, and they taste so good :)

20 Quail Eggs
2 1/2 tbsps. Mayonnaise
1 tsp. Horseradish mustard (any mustard will work--horseradish just gives it a little zip)
paprika for garnish

Hard boil the quail eggs until done. Once cooled GENTLY peel and slice in half. Remove the yolks and put in a small mixing bowl. Add the mayo and the mustard to the yolk. Mix well. Use a pastry bag (with fancy nozzle if you want) to squeeze filling back into the egg white. Sprinkle paprika on top.

Beginner Chef Tips: Be very careful removing the shell. The shell likes to stick to the egg and you can easily break the white. Also, you will be able to see the yolk sometimes through the white. That means it is very close to the edge. That part is particularly fragile. You will get the hang of it as you go.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter Sauce

This is an easy recipe, yet it tastes gourmet...

I am going to let you in on a little secret. Making your own pasta dough is not worth it. It is very hard and time consuming. It takes a lot of practice to perfect. That is why you should buy it on the internet. Http://

This website is great. They also sell ready made ravioli, including butternut squash ravioli. It is quite good too. I bought the butternut squash ravioli from this website. If you would like to be more creative you can try your hand at making your own filing and just get the pasta sheets.

So here is the recipe:

11 oz. package of butternut squash ravioli from
3 tbsps. butter
8 fresh sage leaves (you can get this at Kroger)
1/2 lemon (optional--but worth it!)
Parmesan (or Romano or Asiago or Pecorino)
Salt and pepper to taste it.

1. Boil a pot of water (enough to cover the ravioli).

2 When it is boiling add the raviolis (frozen is fine).

3. Chop sage into bitsy pieces and set aside.

4. In a medium saucepan heat butter on medium. Cook the butter, stirring often until it turns kind of a brownish color. Remove from heat.

5. Add chopped sage to the butter sauce. Squeeze half the lemon in it too.

6. By this time the ravioli will probably be ready. Be careful not to over cook. Monitor the texture by breaking off a little snip here and there.

7. Mix the raviolis with the sauce.

8. Top with a little shaved pecorino or parmesan or romano or asiago.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Perfect Potstickers

I felt like making potstickers tonight. I have never made potstickers. So I scoured the internet for a recipe. I looked at dozens, just to get an idea of the "typical" potsticker recipe. I ended up choosing and modifying the following recipe from Alton Brown on Food Network. My modifications will be discussed following the recipe. Overall, this is a good basic recipe.

1/2 lb ground pork
1/4 c. finely chopped scallions
2 tbsp. finely chopped red bell pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tsp. ketchup
1 tsp. yellow mustard
2 tsp. worchestershire sauce
1 tsp. light brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
35 to 40 wonton wrappers
3 to 4 tbsp. vegetable oil, for frying
1 1/3 c. chicken stock

Preheat over to 200 degrees F.

Combine ingredients 1 through 11 in a medium mixing bowl (pork through cayenne)

To form dumplings, remove 1 wonton wrapper from the package, covering others with a damp cloth. Brush edges of the wrapper with water. Place 1/2 round tsp. of the mixture in the center of the wrapper and fold as desired. Repeat until filling is done.

Heat oil in a 12 inch sauce pan on medium heat. Add potstickers. Fry for 2 minutes without touching. Next add the chicken broth and cook for another 2 minutes. Place cooked dumplings on a pan and put in the preheated oven until ready to serve.

My Modifications

First, I am a vegetarian...sort of. I eat fish and shellfish. I do not think it is ethical to consume meat, nor do I even like meat. Now, if I go to someone's house and they are serving meat I will eat it because I do not believe in wasting food.

I used soy meat instead of the pork. I also didn't really follow the recipe in terms of the filling. I used green pepper (that was all I had), minced onion, spinach, and cabbage to fill my potstickers. This worked out fine, except soy meat is harder to mesh together an stick in a wonton wrapper. You need to be careful. I recommend forming little balls of the mixture first, then putting them in the wrappers. Obviously, this is only if you are using soy meat. Otherwise, pork sticks together very well--because of all the fat--yuck! I also substituted the chicken stock with vegetable stock--doesn't matter because it is all just salty flavored water anyway!

Other than changing the filling I followed this recipe to the T. The wrappers turned out very nice. This is clearly how you make potstickers. I feel like it is important to mention that the shape of your wonton wrappers will affect how they look. Typically, at Asian restaurants they serve dumplings shaped as half moons. This can only be achieved if you buy round (circular) wonton wrappers. I purchased square ones, so I ended up making them look like little purses (see picture).

Another thing. This recipe does not include a dipping sauce! This is very important. I was kind of left hanging. I had to improvise on the sauce, which didn't even turn out good. So please find a good sauce recipe for your dumplings. I will look for a good one, and post it eventually.

What I took from this recipe is that the frying and boiling in stock is a great method of cooking dumplings.



The purpose of this blog is to share my experiences as I home-school myself to become a gourmet chef. Every Sunday I try a new recipe or technique, and once a month I hold a dinner party featuring a five course meal for my friends and family. I have actually been doing this for some time, and I thought it would be nice to document my progress and creations.

Generally, I get inspiration for a meal from trips to restaurants, the internet,, and the Food Network (I don't own a television, but I watch at the gym on the eliptical). I also like to try new things, so sometimes I just go to an ethnic market and find a item I've never heard of and whip it up.

During the week I am an economist for one of the "Big Four". I am twenty somthing, married, have no children (hence the time to do this), live in houston, and well, am a very into cooking :)