Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Shrimp With Okra And Black Olives

The only time I had ever tasted Okra was when I had the Campbell's chicken gumbo soup. Until recently, I have discovered that Okra can be very tasty when cooking them fresh.  The only problem I am experiencing is that not every supermarket here carries them.  Sometimes, I need to drive around several supermarkets in order to find Okra.  Today, I wanted to try something new.  I remember one day when I walked past a restaurant in Hong Kong during my trip, I saw they had a menu posted by the entrance.  Their menu really caught my eye as the images of their dishes looked beautiful and delicious.  There was one dish I mistakenly thought it was an Okra, Chinese black olives, and ground meat stir-fry from the image.  In fact, those were some kind of green beans, not Okra in that dish.  Because of the mix-up, it gave me an idea of pairing Okra with black olives.  I didn't use Chinese black olives today, but only used the ones I have at home.  Adding shrimp into this dish, I knew I would enjoy the dish as I am a big fan of shrimp.

1/2 lb shrimp - peeled and deveined
1/2 lb okra - diced
1/2 cup black olives - pitted and chopped
5 garlic cloves - minced
1 teaspoon ginger - minced
1 teaspoon corn starch
Pinch salt and pepper
2 tablespoons oil

  1. Wash and drain shrimp.  Dry shrimp with paper towels.  
  2. Mix shrimp with corn starch.
  3. Put one tablespoon of oil into a frying pan over medium heat.
  4. Place shrimp in the pan, and saute until cooked.  
  5. Remove shrimp from the pan.
  6. Put one remaining tablespoon of oil into the pan.
  7. Saute garlic and ginger.  Add in okra and stir fry them until tender.  
  8. Finally, add black olives and cooked shrimp into the okra and toss together.  
  9. Season with salt and pepper.
  10. Remove from heat.
  11. Serve with risotto or any kind of your favorite rice.  

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Honey Glazed Dough Crisps

I recently came back from a trip to Hong Kong, a vacation that inspired this recipe.  During my trip, I tried a new dessert at one of the Chinese restaurants.  It was a thin, crispy pastry glazed with sweet honey.  It melted in my mouth, and I instantly fell in love with this dessert. After recovering from some jetlag, I was immediately determined to figure out how to make it.  With a bit of experimentation, I was able to come up with something similar.

1 cup flour
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1/4 cup corn flour for sprinkling
4 cups oil
Toasted sesame seeds

Honey glaze
1 cup honey
1/4 cup water
Put honey and water into a saucepan.  Mix and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Remove from heat.  Set aside.

Or you can use full strength honey.
Cut the dough into strips
  1. Mix flour, baking soda, and salt well.
  2. Place eggs and flour mixture into a bowl of the stand mixer. Knead with a dough hook for a few minutes.  
  3. Add shortening and continue to knead for five minutes or until the dough is smooth.
  4. Take the dough out, sprinkle with corn flour and roll dough as thin as possible on a surface area.
  5. Cut into 1" X 3"strips. 
  6. Heat oil in a pot over medium heat.
  7. Stretch strips a little before dropping into the hot oil.  Fry five or six strips at a time.  Turn several times until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels.
  8. Transfer the crisps onto a serving plate.  Pour honey glaze evenly over the crisps, sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds and serve.  

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Creamy Tomato Mushroom Soup

When life is busy and hectic, no matter how much we enjoy cooking, finding time to cook can be nearly impossible.  If you are in this situation, having some canned food is always handy.  I don't stock up on canned food, only a few favorite ones in the pantry for an emergency.   I have this creamy tomato mushroom recipe for quite some time.  When I am on the go and don't have time to prepare a fancy meal, this quick and easy recipe will help me solve the problem.

1/4 cup extra lean ground pork
1 can 10 oz. fl. cream of mushroom soup - condensed
1 can 10 oz. fl. tomato soup - condensed
1 can 14.5 oz. diced tomatoes - don't drain
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup shredded carrot
Pinch of salt and pepper
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon green onions - chopped


  1. Season ground pork with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat oil in a pot over medium heat.
  3. Saute ground pork for one minute.
  4. Add mushroom soup, tomato soup, diced tomatoes, shredded carrot and water to the ground pork.  Stir well.  Bring to a boil.
  5. Turn down the temperature to low heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat.
  7. Garnish with chopped green onions.
  8. Serve with toast.
Makes 2 to 3 servings.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Phyllo Cheese Cups

It's fun making food that requires assembling, and I have a passion for appetizers.  Therefore, making these small phyllo cheese cups was what I wanted today.  I can't say that I love working with phyllo sheets.  It can be frustrating sometimes as they are hard to handle.  Nevertheless, I love the taste of these flaky, crisp dough sheets whether they are used for sweet or savory recipes.   Today, I decided to make something savory with the phyllo dough sheets.  For making these phyllo cheese cups, I started with laying the sheets one by one, cutting them into squares, brushing them with butter, and arranging them nicely into the muffin cups.  It was kind of nerve wracking the moment when I tried to take the cheese cups out of the pan after they were baked.  The thin layers could easily get crumbled if I didn't handle them carefully.  I made a total of six cups.  They all looked beautiful.  When I have guests coming over next time, these little delicate phyllo cheese cups will certainly be on the serving table.

5 Phyllo pastry sheets
8 oz mozzarella cheese
1/2 lb pork sausage
baby spinach
1/4 cup tomato - diced
3 strips bacon
The sheets have been brushed with butter and carefully arranged

Place some pork sausage in the cups

Place some spinach and mozzarella cheese on the sausage

Add some diced tomatoes before the muffin pan goes into the oven

  1. Cook the pork sausage in a pan until well done.  Drain the fat.  Set aside.
  2. Cut the bacon into dice.  Cook and drain the fat.  Set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
  4. Lay 5 layers of phyllo sheets on top of each other.  Cut into 3 strips lengthwise, and 2 strips crosswise to make 6 squares each sheet.  
  5. Brush each square layer with melted butter and press it into greased muffin cup.  5 layers for each cup.
  6. Arrange pork sausage, spinach, cheese and tomatoes in each cup.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove the phyllo cheese cups from the pan carefully.
  8. Sprinkle some bacon over, and decorate with some sweet pea sprouts.
  9. Serve immediately.  
Makes 6 phyllo cheese cups.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Vietnamese Chicken Spring Rolls

There is time that I just want to make something light but delicious for dinner.  This is what it came to my mind today.  I was thinking that a simple, healthy Vietnamese Fresh Spring rolls would probably be a good choice.  I like Vietnamese Fresh Spring rolls because all the ingredients are wrapped in one roll, which gives a balanced diet that we need.  We can get creative when making the spring rolls by choosing any ingredients that we like.   The fresh spring rolls may taste dull without dipping sauces.  That's why they don't stand alone.  The most popular dipping sauces are peanut sauce and hoisin sauce, but I like my mango coconut sauce which we seldom see restaurants put it on the side of the fresh spring rolls.   For the rice papers, there are two different sizes that I can get from my local supermarkets.  I bought the big one as I find it easier to roll without tearing when the filling is overloaded sometimes.  I baked my own chicken thighs and added to the ingredients, but you can always get roasting chicken or deli meats from the supermarket for your convenience.  

Baked Chicken Thighs
8 chicken thighs - boneless and skinless
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon ginger - minced
2 garlic cloves - minced

Mango Coconut Dipping Sauce
2 mangoes - peeled, pitted and cut into chunky pieces
6 tablespoons coconut milk
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 garlic clove - chopped
1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
1 teaspoon rice vinegar

For assembling
10 large sheets rice paper - 12" diameter 
Baked chicken thighs - cut into small pieces
3 to 3 1/2 oz rice vermicelli  - one block 
1 head lettuce - I used butter lettuce 
1 cup carrot - shredded 
1 small cucumber - cut into strips

Baked chicken thighs

Mango Coconut Dipping sauce

Baked Chicken Thighs
  1. In a bowl, mix all the ingredients except chicken thighs together. 
  2. Arrange chicken thighs in a baking dish.  Pour the ingredient mixture all over the chicken thighs.  Marinate for half an hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  4. Place the chicken thighs in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.  
  5. Remove from the oven.
  6. Preheat the oven to broil/grill. 
  7. Put the chicken thighs back into the oven and broil for 5 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven again.  Set aside.
For cooking rice vermicelli 
  1. Place the rice vermicelli in a pot of boiling water and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until the noodles are soft.  
  2. Drain well and rinse with cold water.  
  3. set aside.
For Mango Coconut Dipping Sauce
  1. Place all the ingredients into a blender.  Blend until smooth.
  2. Transfer to a serving bowl.

For assembling
  1. Fill a large bowl with water.  Dip one rice paper in the water.  Remove the rice paper from water when it's almost soft.  Lay flat and begin to assemble. 
  2. Layer with lettuce, handful of noodles, carrot, cucumber and chicken near the bottom edge of the wrapper.  Leave 1" border on each side. Tightly wrap the ingredients.  Roll toward the center.  Fold the right and left edges of the wrapper.  Continue rolling up.
  3. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
Makes 10 rolls.  Serve with dipping sauce.