Monday, August 31, 2009

Homemade Burger

Hubby and I were craving hamburgers (especially after reading Ila's posts about her fabulous burgers) so I decided to make some homemade burgers with the random ingredients in my fridge. They were so fresh and tasty.

HOMEMADE HAMBURGER
Ingredients:
1 pound ground beef
4 sliced of bacon, fried
1/2 onion grated
2 cloves of garlic, grated
1 tsp sriracha sauce
salt and pepper to taste
sliced tomatoes, lettuce, red onions
sliced cheddar cheese
ketchup
mustard
mayonnaise

Panini bread

Directions:
1. Mix together ground beef, sriracha sauce, salt & onion, grated onion and garlic.
2. Pat into (4) patties and grill to your liking.
3. Place hamburger patties on toasted panini bread with melted cheddar cheese, and top with sliced red onion, lettuce, tomato, and fried bacon.
4. Don't forget the ketchup, mustard, and mayo.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Greek Salad

I fell in love with Greek food when I visited the Greek islands with hubby almost 5 years ago. Till then, I've never even tasted Greek food before. While traveling the islands I had Greek salad every single day. I was obsessed with Feta cheese and the fresh sweet tomatoes. This salad has become one of our favorite summer salads. With a side of pita bread, hummus, and tzatziki sauce, it is a great summer lunch.
GREEK SALAD RECIPE
Ingredients:
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 red onion sliced
4 tomatoes roughly cut
3 cucumbers cut
4 oz. Feta cheese, diced or crumbled
handful of Kalamata olives

Directions:
1. Mix all ingredients together, toss salad and eat!
This is a photo I took in Oia, Santorini. Some of the places hubby and I visited during our trip to Greece was; Athens, Santorini, Paros, and Mykonos. The islands were magically beautiful and romantic, I hope to visit again one day!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

French Toast

French toast is one of hubbys favorite breakfast dishes. French toast is called pain perdu in France and they say that it was created as a way to use stale bread. I like to make French toast to use up the "ends" of my loaves that otherwise go to waste. It's ridiculously easy to make and tastes so yummy.

FRENCH TOAST RECIPE
Ingredients:
4 slices of any kind of bread
4 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tbsp butter for frying

Directions:
1. In a shallow mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla and cinnamon.

2. Dip slices in egg mixture and cook until golden brown on both sides.
3.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with warm maple syrup & fresh whipped cream.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Honey Madeleines

Just bought a brand new silicone Madeleine pan. I was dying to try out this recipe I read on Confessions of a tart. These Madeleines were surprisingly easy to make. They were so fluffy with a nice hint of honey, hubby and I just ate them warm as they came straight out of the oven. They tasted kind of like Japanese baby castellas, so hubby requested that next time I fill them with custard somehow. But these little cakes were wonderful just as they were.
HONEY MADELEINES
Once Upon A Tart
borrowed from Confessions of a Tart
(makes 12 full sized Madeleines or 24 minis)

3/4 cup all purpose flour
4 tbsp butter (plus more for buttering pan)
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp honey (I prefer to use dark, fragrant honey)
1 tsp vanilla or almond extract
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt

In a small saucepan or microwave, melt the 4 tbsp of butter (some people like to brown it, but I haven't tried that yet). Stir in honey and extract. Let cool to room temperature.

While the butter/honey/extract is cooling, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl. For full disclosure, I have to tell you that for the best, the tenderest cookies, what you really need to do is sift the dry ingredients together, and possibly sift them twice (but if you are short on time or patience, or you are me, whisking is just fine).

Break the two eggs into a large bowl and add the sugars. Now, this part is really important - whip the eggs on a high speed for at least 3 minutes -- possibly as much as 5 -- until they are thick and light in color, and fall in a dense ribbon when you lift your beater out of the bowl. This is what gives Madeleines their airy texture, so don't skimp on the whipping.

With a rubber spatula, gently fold the dry ingredients into the eggs, being really careful not to deflate the eggs and mixing only until the flour disappears. Then, being just as careful, fold in the cooled butter/honey/extract mixture. I do this by pouring it down the side of the bowl and then swirling it around with the spatula until the texture is uniform.

Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Turn the oven to 400F and brush your Madeleine pan with softened or melted butter. Brush it well - the worst is to be stuck prying your beautiful little cakes from the pan because you didn't butter it enough. Fill the molds about 3/4 of the way - don't worry, they will spread and rise as they bake. Bake until the Madeleines rise and the edges are browned. In practice, it's usually about 10-12 minutes for full sized cakes or 8-10 for minis. Please watch carefully because even 30 seconds extra makes a difference with these.

Take out the pan and tap it lightly on the counter to unmold the cakes and then carefully pry them out of the molds (I use a dull butter knife to help me there), arrange on plate and dust with confectioner's sugar. Usually, Madeleines should be eaten the same day they are made, but these were still totally awesome the next day.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Angel Food Birthday Cake

Dad, my dog, hubby, and brother all share birthdays just within a few days of each other. It has become our family tradition to celebrate all 4 birthdays together. This year, we celebrated by having a backyard BBQ. Dad requested an angel food cake for his birthday so that's what we had! For some reason, the cake deflated a little after I took it out of the oven and it was not as fluffy as I hoped it would be (it was a little on the dense side for an angel food cake). But I covered it up with some fresh whipped cream and strawberries and it tasted pretty good.

ANGEL FOOD CAKE RECIPE
Ingredients:
1 cup cake flour (sifted)
1 1/2 cup sugar
12 large egg whites
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Directions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Beat egg whites, cream of tartar and salt, beat on medium high.
3. Add 3/4 cups of sugar slowly on high until stiff peaks form.
4. Add sifted cake flour and another 3/4 cups of sugar while continuing to beat on low.
5. Fold in the vanilla and almond extract, scraping the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl.
6. Pour the mixture into an ungreased angel food cake pan.
7. bake for 30-35 minutes until the top springs back when you touch it lightly.
8. Let it cool on a cake rack and then invert the pan. (This is the hardest part!)
9. Decorate the cake with homemade whipped cream and strawberries if desired.
Check out this new gadget I got! A cake sifter to add to my baking tools. I've always wanted one and I love it. I've only had it for about a week and I've been using it a lot. Is it lame that I get super excited over kitchen utensils?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Banana Dream Pie

Hubby and I visited Mazatlan back in 07' it was a great trip, but I reminisce about the pie I had there. I actually had banana cream pie for the first time in the small village of Copala, Mexico, about 40 miles from the beach resort of Mazatlan. Above is a picture of that legendary pie before I inhaled it. I don't even remember what the name of the restaurant was, but I was blown away with the first bite! They served a coconut banana cream pie that just melted in my mouth. I've been dreaming about that pie for about 2 years now, and I decided to relive the moment by creating my very own banana cream pie. I even made the crust myself. I didn't add any coconut to it, but wow... I think this pie is like one of the best things that I have ever baked. It was so delicious!

BANANA CREAM PIE RECIPE

Ingredients:

1 9-inch baked Graham Cracker pie shell
3 cups whole milk
3/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 bananas

Directions:

1. Have a baked 9-inch Graham Cracker pie shell ready.
2. In a large saucepan, scald the milk.
3. another saucepan, combine the sugar, flour and salt; gradually stir in the scalded milk.
4. Over medium heat, stirring constantly, cook until thickened. Cover and, stirring occasionally, cook for two minutes longer.
5. In a separate bowl have 1 mashed banana ready for use.
6. In a small bowl, have the 3 egg yolks, slightly beaten, ready; stir a small amount of the hot mixture into beaten yolks; when thoroughly combined, stir yolks and mashed bananas into hot mixture.
7. Cook for one minute longer, stirring constantly.
8. Remove from heat and blend in the butter and vanilla.
9. Let sit until lukewarm.
10. When ready to pour, slice bananas and scatter in pie shell; pour warm mixture over bananas.
11. If desired, decorate with fresh whipped cream before serving.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Summer Veggies

I love summer! The weather in LA has been wonderful this summer season. Not to hot at all. One of the best things about summer is the seasonal veggies and fruits! My parents recently started a little garden in their backyard and I reap the goodness.
I especially love the bright red cherry tomatoes! They are so sweet they taste like candy. These tomatoes are too good to put into any recipe so I just ate them all straight up, right off the stem. yum.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Custard Pudding

A few friends came over during the weekend for a dinner party at my house. My girlfriend and I decided that it would be fun if the two of us challenged ourselves with a little desert project. We wanted to make something that the both of us has never made before so we decided on Japanese style pudding. I totally messed up on making the caramel sauce. I didn't leave it on the heat for long enough and it ended up being more of a creamy color than the rich dark brown color. Other than that, our desert was a great hit after dinner!
JAPANESE STYLE CUSTARD PUDDING

Ingredients:
For the pudding
4 eggs
500cc whole milk
70g sugar
1tsp vanilla essence

For the caramel sauce
3tbsp water
70g granulated sugar

Directions:
1. First make the caramel sauce. Heat the sugar on a moderately high heat in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. As the sugar begins to melt, stir it vigorously with a whisk or wooden spoon
2.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Adjust oven rack to center position. Lightly butter custard cups and set them into a large baking dish.
3. Pour caramel sauce into the bottom of each custard cup.
4. Now prepare the custard. Heat 500cc of milk for 1 minute in the microwave and add the sugar.
5. In a large bowl, beat eggs slightly; add sugar, milk, and vanilla extract, beat until dissolved.
6. Pour mixture into prepared custard cups.
7. Bring the water for the water bath to a light simmer on the stove, carefully pour hot water into the baking pan to come half-way up the sides of the custard cups.
8. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the custard is set around the edges but still slightly loose in the center.
9. Cool on a wire rack and refrigerate.
10. Turn the cups upside down when ready to serve.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Camping in Yosemite

The final destination of our road trip was Yosemite National Park. I have never been to Yosemite before so I was so excited! I was not dissapointed, it was just gorgeous.
We were amazed by the beauty of the trees, waterfalls, and cliffs.

We even got to enjoy a sunset from Glacier Point and watch the colors of the sun change shades against the half dome.
Hubby and I camped out at a campsite inside of the park near Glacier Point. We didn't have a tent, so we slept in our car again. But we came prepared for a campfire and of course, Smores!
Smores are the best! The perfect Smores just take a few simple steps and ingredients.
Campfire. check.
Graham cracker. check.
Marshmallows and chocolate. check.
I learned that I have been roasting my marshmallows the wrong way all these years. I would plunge my marshmallow-on-a-stick into the fire until it was a flaming fire ball and then I would blow out the fire and peel off the black burnt skin of my marshmallow before eating it. But this time, I think I perfected the art of marshmallow roasting.
The best way roast the marshmallow is not directly in the flames of the campfire but slightly over it, while making sure to rotate your stick. This will take longer to cook than the fireball method, but is definitely worth it. Make sure to check your marshmallow to make sure it doesn't burn. Once it is a golden brown color, you know its ready for that chocolate and Graham cracker.After stuffing ourselves silly with sugar and chocolate we were in dire need of some exercise the next morning. What better way to burn off those calories than a beautiful nature hike! One of the best hikes of our trip was to the top of Sentinel Dome.
We also hiked the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias The Fallen Monarch was so cool! It was a giant Sequoia tree that fell more than three hundred years ago. To see those huge towaring roots was really neat.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Monterey Bay Aquarium & Seafood Watch

During our road trip we made a stop at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The jellyfish and seahorse exhibits were really extensive and beautiful. I had a field day taking photos through the glass. Not only was our visit to the aquarium fun, but it was really insightful. The aquarium has a program called "Seafood Watch" that educates people about how the choices we make about our seafood impact marine life.

I never really thought about the sources of my seafood but reading about the species of fish being threatened by overfishing and improper fishing practices really opened my eyes. Worldwide, the demand for seafood is increasing. Many populations of the large fish we enjoy eating are over fished and, in the U.S., we import 80% of our seafood to meet the demand. God forbid tuna should ever go extinct! But by choosing to eat fish caught or farmed using environmentally friendly practices, we will be supporting healthy, abundant oceans.
These sea dragons look like kelp!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Dametra Cafe

While walking along the shops on Ocean Ave. in Carmel, we came across a crowded little restaurant called Dametra Cafe. It is a Mediterranean restaurant and they seemed to be quite popular in the area so we decided to try it out for lunch. Hubby ordered the gyros, and I honestly think it was the best gyros I had outside of Greece. Ever since I had gyros for the first time in Greece 4 years ago, I have been searching for a good gyros place in the states with no luck. Dametras still can't come close to the gyros I had in Santorini, but it was still pretty good.
I had the chicken schwarma sandwich, which was marinated chicken in Lebanese spices roasted and wrapped in flat bread. It was very fresh and was kind of a Californian Mediterranean fusion style. I really enjoyed the lemon garlic aoli sauce in the wrap.
*Outside the restaurant
We sat by the big windows and enjoyed the sunny weather and watching people walking by. I have to mention that service at this restaurant was superb, the waiters were very attentive and friendly.
After lunch we visited the Borromeo del Rio Carmelo Mission. This historical mission was a serene and beautiful place. The gardens and flowers and surrounding the courtyard were lovely. I really enjoyed the exhibits, museums, and old cemetery in the mission. It brought me back to my 4th grade self when I was so excited about our "mission reports".
And did I mention what wonderful weather we had?
DAMETRA CAFE

South East corner of Ocean & Lincoln
Carmel by the Sea, CA 93921
tel: (831) 622-7766

BORROMEO DEL RIO CARMELO MISSION
3080 Rio Road
Carmel, CA 93923
tel: 831-624-1271

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Wedding Anniversary

Today is our wedding anniversary. On this day, three years ago, hubby and I were married at the American church in Paris, France.
To celebrate, I made tonkatsu. The first meal I ever made hubby when we first started dating.
To my warm loving husband, I love growing old with you. May we have many more tonkatsu dinners together.

Carmel-by-the-Sea

Carmel-by-the-Sea was another stop during our road trip. It was my first time visiting this quaint seaside town and I was instantly in love. I would love to have a vacation home here! Who wouldn't!?We arrived early morning and hiked through the Point Lobos State Reserve. Although the water was freezing cold, we enjoyed walking along the white sandy beaches and watching the seals play in the water. This state reserve had many picturesque hiking trails and I think that this is the most wonderfully calming and serene place that I have ever hiked.
I love this little town not only for the nature and beauty, but all of the wonderful trendy boutique shops and little restaurants. We had breakfast at an amazing cafe called Katy's Place. I don't drink coffee, so I normally have tea or juice for breakfast but I love to order hot chocolate as a special treat once in a while. The restaurant was so cozy and had a real family restaurant vibe. This breakfast joint is known for their amazing egg Benedict so we had to order that. They have a very large selection of all different kinds of egg Benedict. We got the Sonora Benedict with Canadian bacon with guacamole ($14.95). We shared the plate because it was HUGE and got the Hollandaise sauce on the side. OMG it was a heavenly breakfast. It was the finest egg Benedict I ever had. The combination of avocado, ham, and egg was amazing. I have to learn how to make egg Benedict just like this!
The potatoes were also very wonderful, especially with this Pepper Plant hot sauce! I love any kind of hot sauce but this was great! I need to get a bottle of this for home.
When we go back to Carmel, we will definitely be visiting Katy's place and the Point Lobos State Reserve again. We had a wonderful time.KATY'S PLACE
Mission St
Between 5th & 6th

Carmel, CA 93921
Tel:(831) 624-0199

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