Hodge Podge Kitchen

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Shrimp Scampi

Shrimp Scampi
Originally uploaded by Alanmine.

I pretty much decide on what to cook based on: a) what seems like a fun, yet yummy science experiment (like stuffing a can inside a chicken), and b) what I happen to have on hand in the kitchen. Today, I had some snow peas in the fridge and decided that it would go well with some shrimp over pasta. Shrimp scampi supposedly has white wine in it, but I was afraid the kids wouldn't like the taste (they are a fan of my chicken marsala though, so who knows with those crazy kids). I substituted with a few cubes of turkey stock instead.

Heat a few swirl of olive oil in a large skillet-like device. Add 2 tablespoons of butter in small cubes. Add a few cloves of chopped garlic and brown for a few minutes. Add a can of diced tomatoes, adding only a quarter to a half of the tomato juice. Also stir in a quarter cup of white wine or broth (or for me, 4 cubes worth). Bring to boil and then simmer until it reduces to about half. Add 1 package of cooked shrimp (package said 350 to 500 shrimps, I didn't count, but it looks like it was around 406) and stir to heat through. Then stir in snow peas (that has been recently blanched) last to keep them from getting all floppy. Add cooked pasta of your choice and toss until sauce covers pasta.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Food Delivery

I love living in an urban area where there are plenty of restaurants that will deliver. There are times when we're just too lazy after work to even go out to dinner. Lucky for us, we have a restaurant nearby that will deliver sushi to our door. It's not like it's the best sushi we've had. But the price is good, $25 for 2 set dinner with tax and tip. The resturant also serves Chinese food as well. We tried it once and it was a bit oily for us. So we stick with the Japanese stuff. Oh, there's also a choice of an free item (California roll, fried rice, chow mein, egg rolls or pot stickers) over $20. The only problem is that I might start doing this every week!

Tao Yin
6288 Mission Street
Daly City, CA 94014

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Lake Tahoe Weekend

We drove up last Friday to spent a weekend up in Lake Tahoe last week. Not just because we wanted to enjoy the amazing weather we're finally having all the late May rain around here, but like a lot of our weekend trips, Chris have a bowling tournament. I call it his charity work since he bowls with juniors and they get to win scholarship money and well, Chris might get a paper certificate. =) At least Lake Tahoe is a nice place to spent a weekend. Some other places (like Auburn), let's just say there ain't a whole lot to do. He ended up bowling the first and last squad on Saturday so we have almost the whole day to hang out. Since this is a food blog and all, we got breakfast at Safeway (coffee and scones). Lunch and a very late dinner at 10 are both buffets. We're not even big buffet people since we prefer quality vs quantity. We just always ended up at them because it's fast and we don't have to decide on anything too specific. The view at Harrah's during lunch is probably the best view from a buffet.

Anyways, by the time we got back on Sunday afternoon, we are pretty sick of eating out. I managed to find enough ingredients to make cold noodles. I posted my version of cold noodles before, so I won't do it again. I added some small dried shrimps and pickled vegetables with the sauce like the cold noodles served at a place we like in the East Bay.

Oh, in case you're wondering, Chris shot a 700 series (with a 279 game) his last squad on Sunday. Hopefully that'll help the junior he was bowling with to get some scholarship money.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Drunken Chicken

Drunken Chicken
Originally uploaded by Alanmine.

I have always wanted try this because it just seemed so cool. Roast a chicken on the grill by sticking a can of beer up the chicken's...er...anyway I came upon a chicken courtesy of my parents. I don't actually drink beer so I made a trip to the local liquor store and got a six pack (hence the cheap stuff you see in the picture). Like a lot of people, my wife has a problem with sticking your hand inside of various poultry. I don't really mind that part, but sticking that can up in there was an interesting experience. Actually, trying to figure out how to yank it out was pretty interesting as well...Fun exercise, and pretty good chicken, but I don't really understand the science of it (which as you know by now, is important to me). I really like that I don't have the buy one of those chicken roaster stands that they sell. I know that the beer would provide moisture and I guess the alcohol adds that certain taste. What I want to know is, can I use cans of other beverages for different flavor and similar effects? I have never seen a recipe using a can of Coke or root beer. Where is Alton Brown when you need him...(or did I just miss that episode?)

Friday, May 20, 2005

IMBB #15 - Has my blog jelled?

The latest edition of IMBB is hosted by Elise at Simply Recipe. I made this coconut milk gelatin dessert the same day I made the lemon sherbet tacos. I guess I should have known better than to try to experiment on Friday the 13th. This one at least *looked* the way I pictured it. I don't really have a recipe to post for this at all since I have to play with this three times before I get the consistency that is more edible. The first time, I tried to follow the 6g of agar agar to 120g liquid. That didn't set the coconut milk at all. I melted some more agar agar with water and mixed it in. Then it got really, really hard and dense. Finally, I cutted it up and melted it over the stove. More milk was added to thin the mixture. It is still a bit too hard, but not unpleasantly so. So you see, I have no idea what the measurements ended up to be. =) The bigger problem is the lack of coconut milk flavor after I heated the coconut milk. I could at least list the ingredients if anybody else wanted to try their hand on it. The base liquid is a mixture of coconut milk and milk. Agar agar is used for setting the whole thing. Sugar was added to the desired sweetness level. Diced mango and green/pink colored tapioca cubes (regular tapioca will work, just not as colorful. Cook until clear, rinse and cool before adding to coconut mixture.) are added to provide some different textures and flavor.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Sugar High Friday #8 - Pucker Up With Citrus!

The fun part about trying a new recipe is that you don't know exactly how it will turn out. The bad part about trying a new recipe is that you don't know exactly how it will turn out. Alice at My Adventure in Breadbox is the host for the latest edition of SHF. The theme is the refreshing citrus. I always like citrus in dessert because it prevents the dessert from getting too rich and sweet. My original idea was to make ice cream sandwiches. Little did I know that the lemon oatmeal cookie recipe I decided to try made thin, crispy cookies, NOT what I was looking for at all. Chris suggested folding the cookie in half so you could still hold it to eat. That's the tale behind the ice cream tacos! (IF I would have planned this all along I would have put melted chocolate on one side of the cookie like the choco-taco thing you find in stores.) I think it ended up well, except the cookies get really sticky after a couple of days so don't try to do it too far in advance. I topped one above with mini chocolate chips and another with chopped pecans.

Lemon Sherbet
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp lemon zest
Pulse the sugar and lemon zest for a few second to mix in blender. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend for no more than 10 second (you don't want to whip the cream too much.) Follow your ice cream maker direction until it reaches soft serve stage. Transfer to another container and keep in freezer until ready to use.

Lemon Oatmeal Cookie
1/2 cup Shortening
1 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Brown sugar
1 large Egg
1 tsp Lemon zest
1/4 cup Lemon Juice
3/4 cup Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
1 1/2 cup Rolled oats

Cream shortening and white sugar, and then add brown sugar & mix. Add egg, and beat until light. Add lemon rind & juices. Sift flour, baking soda, and salt. Add gradually to creamed mixture.
Mix in rolled oats. Drop onto greased cookie sheet. Bake in 375F oven for 10-12 minutes.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Smoothies anyone? I treated these as a dessert. With a cup of frozen strawberries, 2 frozen bananas, two scoops of turtle sundae ice cream, a cup of whipped cream, and two cute martinee glasses, maybe you can see why I think they seem more like dessert than beverage. Went well with a big, satisfying meal. The best kind of eating is over-eating! Posted by Hello

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Dinner for One - Potato Gnocchi

I feel like I needed to document everytime I cook for just myself. Especially since lately, I've been very lazy about cooking dinner in general. Last night's dinner for me was a can of soup. (BTW, can someone explain to me how processed food can be so high in sodium but yet be so tasteless at the same time???) So tonight, I refused to open another can. Okay, so the diced tomatoes are from a can, but that was opened a couple of days ago. The potato gnocchi were from my attempt to use up 10 lbs of potatoes as quickly as possible a few months ago. (I beleive it was like $1 for the whole bag of potatoes.) The gnocchi have been sitting in my freezer way too long since there are only enough to feed one. Luckily, they still cooked up pretty well. I have one pot with water to boil the gnocchi and a pan to cook the tomatoes with a little dried basil and red pepper flakes. When the gnocchi are done, drain and add to the tomato sauce for a couple of minutes. Parmesan cheese shavings topped the gnocchi at the end. I added a fried egg at the end just so I have some sort of protein (and I also just really wanted a fried egg).

Rice ovalets

Hmmmm not a great first blog post, but just testing to see if this works. This is some rice ovalets with left-over chicken thighs a la Macau and frozen peas/carrots. I got the chicken recipe from my mom. The interesting part of that recipe, to me,was the use of satay sauce and white wine. Very flavorful! I'd post the recipe when the lethargy subsides. =) I didn't know that the ovalets in a way release a lot of starch and really thickened up the sauce from the chicken. I needed almost another cup of chicken stock to bring it all together nicely. Iit was a nice meal x4... a little ovalet goes a long way! Very filling.. beware! Posted by Hello

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Pocky! (and Pretz!)

I have yet to know anybody who don't like Pocky. The debate is only regarding which flavor is the best. Chris likes the coconut ones the best, but he likes anything with coconut in it. As for me, I always find a flavor to try and so far I haven't tried one that I won't buy again. But I don't have one that I keep going back for either. In the meantime, here are a sample of what I'm munching on: Honey & Butter Pretz, Green Tea Mousse and a special edition Banana Semi-Sucree. All three are quite tasty. I think I like the Green Tea one a little more than the others, wait, maybe it's the Banana Semi-Sucree that I like a little more, hmm...

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Shrimp and Peas Risotto

Okay, so it's shrimp and peas and carrots risotto; it's what I had in the freezer. I haven't really cooked all week so I decided to make something special for Sunday night dinner. The beef stock I used gave the rice a darker brown color than expected. To make this meal, I sauteed half an onion and one garlic cloves in some olive oil in a pan until the onions were opaque. Then I threw in one cup of medium grain rice and sauteed until translucent. After I added ladlefuls of stock. I used a combination of chicken and beef stock. (hey, it's what ever this college student has on hand when she cooks). Each ladleful should be added in one at a time after the perceding stock has been aborbed. (if you make a line in the pan and nothing moves to fill in the line, it's time for more stock.) In all, I used about four cups of stock. The amount of stock depends on how much rice and what kind it is. Just like making pasta, I never follow what is written on the packaging. To avoid overcooking, the defrosted shrimp, peas, and carrots were added before the last ladleful. I cut the shrimp in to bits to make it seem like I had more than actual in there. Again, just a college student. All seasoning went in at the end, especially any salt adjustment. Stock can be quite high in sodium. Just for a bite at the end, I added white pepper and indian chile powder. I make the distinction in chile powders because that's was what my Indian roommate had and it's stronger than what's normally found in American supermarkets. Served up a bowl topped it off with some melty cheese of choice for myself and volia! Dinner! Alright a dinner that took about an hour, prep and all, but it was all worth it. Posted by Hello

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Ginger Sugar Syrup

I told Santo that I might make a ginger syrup to eat with the soft tofu after reading about her hiya-yakko post on her blog. Little did I know that she was having just that while reading my comment. You could check our her version here. So since I mentioned it, it's only fair that I should actually make it as well. Here's my take on it.

Ginger Syrup
2 slabs of chinese brown sugar (about 4 oz total)
2" of fresh ginger, sliced thin
1 cup of water
Melt sugar over low heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Cover and take off heat until cool. Steep ginger in syrup if stronger ginger flavor is desired. Besides adding the ginger syrup to extra soft tofu, I also topped the tofu with candied ginger.

I also tried using the syrup to sweeten a lemonade. I got these HUGE lemons, 6 for $1, at the market the other days. The ginger flavor is still pretty mild right now, hopefully it will get better after a day or two.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Cinco de Mayo

Mexican is one cuisine I have no desires to learn how to cook. When you live so close to so many good and cheap Mexican restaurants, there's really no need to. You see, I lives near Mission St in Daly City, a place where it averages at least one Mexican restaurant on every block. Not to mention that going the other direction on Mission into San Francisco gives me even more options. Since it's Cinco de Mayo (my theory on why this is so much more popular than the actual Mexican Independence Day is because this is easier to remember), we went to a place nearby and got takeouts. (Chris needed to come back to watch the Celtics game!) It's not pretty, but the carnitas nachos was sooo good. The Mexican Coca-Cola goes really well with it too. As good as the nachos was, I do think that I need to go on a diet starting tomorrow...

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Easy Dinner: Fish Baked in Foil

Sometimes dinner needs to be as easy as possible, even better when there's next to no clean up afterward. You could use parchment paper here if you want to make it prettier. But since I'm just going for quick and easy, foil works just fine. Chop up whatever vegetables you have around. I happened to have red cabbage, baby carrots, onion and zucchini. Cut all of them into small pieces. Lightly toss with oil, season with poultry/vegetable seasoning mix. Sprinkle the same seasoning mix over both sides of the fish (tilapia fillets here). Wrap the whole thing in foil and bake in 350F for 20 minutes.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Getting Your Money's Worth

I was shopping recently and saw that turkeys were on sale and I thought it would be cool to roast one. Everyone loves turkey and how you get turkey sandwiches for days afterward. It's a good economic investment if you have the time to prepare it so I went for it. The first obstacle I faced was that it was frozen solid at the time of purchased and I had to either roast the sucker the next day or have to wait until next weekend. While tryptophan swirled in my head, I decided that I would try and thaw it as fast as I could and get some immediate gratification. I placed the boulder in a cooler and stuck it in my bath tub under running water for a few hours. Meanwhile I prepared the brine for the turkey...

I had only made two other turkeys before, but I know that brining it before roasting is really the only way to go (I hear deep frying is good too and I want to try it one day, but the hardware investments and managing all that oil is beyond what I feel like doing at this point of my culinary career). Brining brings so much flavor deep into the meat as well as keeping all the juices to be around. There is nothing worse than dry breast meat...I didn't think I would make another turkey until the holidays because I use a vegetable broth base brine and buying a gallon worth of broth can be expensive. This time, however, I am going with a new approach. Along with the brown sugar and kosher salt, I mixed 4 quarts of water with 1 6oz container of frozen orange juice concentrate. After heating the mixture to dissolve the salt and sugar, I let it cool and pour it into the cooler with the turkey. I then topped off the brine with broth until the turkey is submerged. Throw in some ice to keep things cold and I was off to bed.

The rest was pretty standard turkey making. Rinse turkey and pat dry, stuff turkey with sliced apple and onion for aromatics, and brush with canola oil for nice brown skin. I of course subscribe to the Alton Brown method and blast the turkey at 500 degree for 30 minutes, then lowering the heat to 350 degrees until the breast hit 161 degrees (I like my probe thermometer. Have you seen the wireless ones? That is cool...and I am a kitchen geek). As you can see, it looked pretty...

Taste-wise the turkey was pretty good. I don't know just how thaw the turkey was so it took a little longer than expected to cook. I think it might have defeated the brine a little bit and dried out the breast just a touch. Overall it turned out well, with whole lot of turkey left for lots of sandwiches.

More importantly, I really wanted to make use of everything, including the carcass. I had wasted two carcasses before and I wanted to try making stock. I use stock for everything lately so having some homemade stock would keep me from having to buy some more. I threw the bones in a pot with some carrots and celery and simmer it all for about 8 hours, occasionally taking time to get all that foamy film off the top. Let it cool in a sink of ice water, and refrigerate overnight. Come back the next morning and get the hardened fat out of there and package. I filled my ice cube tray with half of the stock and froze them into convenient cubes. The other half I wanted to use now so I made Turkey Noodle soup.

I didn't want to do much more cooking so I kept it simple. Boil the (now gelatinous) stock for 2 minutes and add chopped onion and carrots (celery too, if you like it. I don't). Cook egg noodle according to package directions and add to soup with some of the leftover turkey, diced. Serve when heated through.

For $12.99 plus tax, I figured I fed everyone for quite a few meals. You can't beat that.