Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer Spring Rolls

Summer Spring Rolls by Chelsea and Aunt Barbara

Chelsea and I made these Spring Rolls last summer at the lake -- they are easy to make once you get the hang of working with the rice-paper round wrappers.

The first step is to cook the shrimp and drop it into an ice bath to cool them done.  This can be done ahead of time.  Then peel them and dry.  Slice each one in half, lengthwise.
Then soak your noodles.  We used cellophane noodles.  You can use soba or whatever you like.  Cook per the instructions, then drain well.  Be sure they are cool.

Slice thinly 2 or 3 green onions or scallions.

Add a jalapeno pepper for some heat.  We were using the one Uncle Tom grew.  If you don't have a jalapeno, just add red pepper flakes later when you make the sauce.

Be sure to chop the jalapeno very fine so no one gets too big of a bite of heat.

The next step is to add some crunch.  I had shredded carrots, but you could use any veggie:  cucumbers, bean sprouts, sliced napa cabbage.

Add the drained, cool noodles and your sauce and toss.

For your sauce, I always concoct something but here is a suggestion:  2 T. hoisin sauce, 1.5 T. lime juice, 1.5 t. fish sauce, 1.5 t. peanut butter or peanut sauce, pinch of brown sugar.  I usually add soy sauce, too. 
Then add lots of fresh basil.  Toss it all together again, and be sure that the ingredients are evenly distributed.

The rice-paper wrappers are very thin, stiff circles that come in a package in the International aisle of the grocery store.

Chelsea used a pie plate filled with lukewarm water to soften one at a time.  She slid them in starting with one edge until it was fully emerged.

The rice wrapper will soften in about 30 seconds but still hold its shape.  Pull it out and put it on a flat surface to fill.

Place 4 halves of shrimp in the middle of the wrapper, then the filling, about 1/2 cup.  Fold the sides in, then top flap, roll it together and place it seam down.

Here's a very full spring roll.  Slice in half and serve. 

The sweet meat of shrimp goes well with all of the fresh basil, plus there is a nice contrast between the crunchiness of the veggies and the softness of the noodles.  The sauce is salty and spicy.  Delicious on a summer day! 


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Aloo Baigan by AnneJP

Found this recipe online--I made it last night--quite good with a few minor mods. 

ALOO BAIGAN (Eggplant with Potatoes)

1/2" piece of ginger root
2 Minced green chilies (I used yellow chiles--that's all I had on hand)
1/4 cup Shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 tsp Garam masala
4 tbsp Ghee
1 tsp Black mustard seeds
1/2 tbsp Whole cumin seeds
1/8 tsp Asafetida
6 md Potatoes, boiled & cubed
1 tsp Turmeric
1 tbsp Coriander
1 sm Eggplant in 1" cubes( I used 4 small Indian eggplants--so a bit more than the recipe called for. The recipe didn't say to remove the skins, so I didn't, but based on the finished product, I probably will next time--the skins are pretty tough and don't have enough time to cook through.)
1 tsp Salt
3 tbsp Fresh coriander, chopped (I used about twice this amount)
1 tbsp Lemon juice (I used about twice this amount)

Preparation of aloo baingan:

Combine ginger, green chilies & coconut in blender with 1/3 cup of water till smooth. Add garam masala & pulse for a few seconds. Set aside.

Heat ghee. When hot, add mustard & cumin seeds & fry for a few seconds. Stir in the asafetida & almost immediately put in the potatoes. Stir fry for 5 minutes Then pour in the mixture from the blender. Add the turmeric, coriander, eggplant, salt & half the fresh coriander. Mix very gently so as not to break the vegetables. Reduce heat & fry very gently until the liquid has evaporated. (I ended up adding about an additional 2/3 Cup water a bit at a time to keep the eggplants cooking. Each time all the water evaporated, I'd add a little more)

Add lemon juice & remaining coriander greens & serve.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Whoopie Cake by Buddy

Here's the whoopie cake I made!


Whoopie Cake

From Whoopie Pies by Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell

½ cup butter softened
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 2/3 cups flour
2/3 cup cocoa
1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Take a nine inch pie or cake pan and draw a circle around it in the middle of each piece of parchment. Flip the parchment so the mark is face down.

Beat butter and brown sugar until combined, and then beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat 2 more minutes.

Sift together the cocoa, flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl. Add half to the butter mixture with ½ cup of the milk. Beat until incorporated. Add remaining flour and milk and repeat.

Put half the batter in the middle of each circle on the parchment. Use an offset spatula to spread the batter to the edge of the circle. Try to get the batter even. Bake each tray separately for 15 minutes. Check to see if cake springs back in center and remove from oven. Let cool for five minutes and then slide parchment/cake off onto a cooling rack. Repeat with other cake. When cool, peel off parchment and frost with filling of your choice.

Suggested Filling:

Classic Marshmallow

2 ½ sticks butter, softened
1 7 oz jar of Marshmallow Fluff
1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon Vanilla

Beat the butter and marshmallow together until smooth and fluffy. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat together on low. When mixed, beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes more. Spread between layers of Whoopie Cake.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette on the Grill

Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette
A variation on the classic vinaigrette: add sweet roasted garlic done on the grill.  A perfect compliment for a fresh green salad.

Start with some nice fresh garlic.

Cut the tops off.

Douse them with lots of good olive oil plus salt, pepper and your favorite herb.  I chose French thyme.

Grill them until they are caramelized and start to ooze.

Squeeze the roasted garlic into your basic vinaigrette ingredients for today's salad.  Save the rest of the garlic in the fridge for future dressing. 

A classic vinaigrette uses good olive oil and vinegar in a 3 to 1 ratio plus Dijon mustard and shallots, salt and pepper.  Whisk together until emulsified.   In this case, I am using roasted garlic instead of shallots.

A little goes a long way.  The dressing is a deep caramel color and rich in flavor.  You can thin it out, if you wish,  by adding more olive oil.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Tuscan Bread Salad with Fresh Mozzarella and Basil

This recipe comes from Tom Douglas' restaurant, Dahlia Lounge, and is in his cookbook, Tom Douglas' Seattle Kitchen.  I made it for a party over the winter and now want to post it on the blog so that I can make it for summer guests.  It is so good!

Tuscan Bread Salad
Serves 4 generously

For the mustard vinaigrette:
2 T. red wine vinegar
1 t. Dijon mustard
1 t. minced shallots
1/2 t. chopped fresh thyme
1/2 t. minced garlic
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

For the salad:
4 slices rustic bread, 1 inch thick
extra virgin olive oil
24 oil-cured black olives, pits removed
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
6 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced or cubed
4 cups loosely packed flavorful salad greens, such as mache, radicchio, arugula, spinach, romaine, endive, washed and dried, torn into bite size pieces
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
4 lemon wedges
Freshly ground black pepper

Make the vinaigrette, will store in the fridge up to a week.  Bring to room temperature and whisk before using.

Liberally, oil the slices of bread then grill on the grill or under the broiler until golden.  Remove and use a serrated knife to cut the bread into bite size cubes.

In the serving bowl, put the bread in with the olives, tomatoes, mozzarella and greens.  Mix the basil into the vinaigrette.  Pour it over the salad and mix well.

Divide the salad among 4 plates.  Scatter with Parmesan and pine nuts and garnish with a lemon wedge.  Offer ground pepper at the table.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Two Recipes from Jeanne: Shrimp with Ginger Herb Butter and Steak with Chimichurri Sauce


School ended here last week and the exodus out of Taipei for the summer has already started, and like every year there are friends who move on to other locations. Over the weekend we had one last dinner party before good friends move on to Korea. I was looking to make some new dishes that would be easy to prepare and different. As usual I go to epicurious.com to look for interesting ideas. I found 2 that I made over the weekend and were excellent!

Here's the first: 

Shrimp with Ginger Herb Butter

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, room temperature
1/4 cup (packed) chopped fresh cilantro
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2 teaspoons oriental sesame oil
24 uncooked large shrimp, peeled, deveined
Lime wedges


Preheat broiler. Mix first 6 ingredients in small bowl until well blended; season to taste with salt and pepper. Brush 13x9x2-inch metal pan with some of seasoned butter. Arrange shrimp in single layer in prepared pan; sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Spread all of butter mixture over shrimp, dividing equally. Broil shrimp just until opaque in center, about 2 minutes. Transfer shrimp to plates. Spoon butter from pan over shrimp. Serve with lime wedges.

Second was Flank Steak with Chimichurri sauce. I couldn’t find a flank steak, so I used boneless rib eye steaks. This is one we will have to try this summer. So easy to make and soooooo good!

Flank Steak with Chimichurri Sauce
1 1/2 pounds trimmed flank steak
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 large garlic clove
1 1/2 cups fresh cilantro
1 1/2 cups fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon cayenne

Preheat broiler.

Pat steak dry. Stir together 1 teaspoon salt, cumin, coriander, and pepper in a small bowl and rub mixture onto both sides of steak. Broil steak on a broiler pan about 4 inches from heat 6 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let stand 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, with motor running, add garlic to a food processor and finely chop. Add cilantro, parsley, vinegar, oil, cayenne, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, then pulse until herbs are finely chopped.

Holding a knife at a 45-degree angle, thinly slice steak. Serve with sauce.




Saturday, June 4, 2011

Strawberries by Jeanne

Hi Barbara,

Finally finding the time to send photos and a recipe for your blog!
So here goes…

One of the many things I love about TW [Taipei, Taiwan] is the fresh produce and outdoor markets. My Saturday morning routine usually consists of exercise, kid’s swimming lessons, followed by a trip to the grocery store and produce market on bike. We don’t have a car here and for the most part am happy not to have one. The rules of road are very different here. But on a bike I’m at the grocery store in 10 minutes, and I just love maneuvering my bike thru the maze of people without having to stop!

I’ve attached a bunch of pictures from a typical Sat am journey…the weather was beautiful that day, a clear, sunny day with low humidity and perfect temps is a rarity here…

Me on my bike!

Navigating thru the market, and yes I am on my bike, riding and taking the picture at the same time...


My favorite strawberry lady. It really does pay to be loyal to one fruit stand. They always make sure you get the best and offer a small discount. BTW, Taiwanese rarely smile and show their teeth in photos….

My kids love, and I mean love strawberries and strawberry season goes from December thru mid-May…so we are very lucky. The recipe for the strawberries is very simple, but with fresh really sweet strawberries, balsamic vinegar, and mascarpone make a terrific combination.

The recipe is courtesy of Epicurious.com

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons plus 4 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chilled mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup chilled whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1-pint baskets (about 24 ounces) strawberries, hulled, halved

Combine vinegar, 2 teaspoons sugar, and lemon juice in heavy small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Boil until syrup is reduced to scant 1/4 cup, about 3 minutes. Transfer to small bowl; cool completely. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Combine mascarpone, cream, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl. Whisk until thick soft peaks form. Cover and refrigerate up to 4 hours.

Combine berries and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar in large bowl; drizzle with balsamic syrup and toss to blend. Let stand 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Divide berries and syrup among 6 goblets. Top with mascarpone mixture.

We should try this recipe when we’re back in the US in June with some local strawberries…


Friday, June 3, 2011

Avoid Artificial Sweeteners by Paul G.

Hi Barb,

You heard that I was not a big fan of artificial sweeteners and asked me to share my thoughts on your blog so here goes:

I think it was back when I was a teenager that it was either cyclamates or Sacharin was introduced as a substitute for sugar. I tried it and thought it had a terrible taste and I never used it or gave it much thought until studies came out linking it to an increase in cancer (at least in rats I believe).

Years later other artificial sweeteners came out and began wide use in foods especially pastries, snacks, and sodas. I tried those things and again I did not like the taste. But apparently a lot of other people did because sales of foods and drinks with artificial sweeteners really took off.

During this time it appeared to me that people were starting to get heavier which seemed odd because they should've been getting slimmer eating and drinking all that low calorie stuff, right? Concurrently there was the war on fat and that seemed to help drive the attraction to artificial sweeteners.

However, there was always the controversy about the safety of artificial sweeteners and if go online you can see them being linked to a variety of health risks including of all things...obesity. Perhaps most disturbing is that analysis of the chemical make up of artificial sweeteners puts them in the same neurotoxin family as DDT and dioxin. Even if this is remotely true why take the chance especially when you can always use plain old sugar which is only 15 calories per teaspoon. 15 calories...big deal!!

So I've always been sceptical of artificial sweeteners but what really hit home was when my friend DeeDee came down with a brain tumor. What's interesting about her was that she was really, really, fond of Sweet & Low. And for this reason she was so easy to please at Xmas because people knew her love for Sweet & Low and they would buy her a case for an Xmas present. Up to the point where she was diagnosed with the cancer at the age of 55 she was a very healthy person. Unfortunately the cancer got the best of her and she died a few years later. Was it the Sweet & Low which caused her cancer? No one can say for sure but it certainly is suspicious.

To wrap things up, people need to become educated about artificial sweeteners which is so easy to do on the internet. You'll be surprised at the numerous bad things they can do to your body. Also, people should get more educated about fats. Except for transfats, many are not the villain they're made out to be . Butter, olive oil, and even coconut oil are very healthy saturated fats, although ideally they should be of the organic version. At the very least you need fats to absorb fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K. At best, you'll look better, feel better, and probably will lose weight! And of course the other thing about fats is that you will crave sweets less which for many folks means less artificial sweeteners and/or less sugar.

Bottom line, avoid artificial sweeteners. Use Stevia if you want a low cal natural sweetener. Also, go online and learn about healthy fats.

   ---Paul  G.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Graduation Party Recipes by Christine


I had our big graduation party and there were a few items people were asking me for the recipe so I thought I would send them on to you too. Jane took the photos for me.


Broccoli Cole Slaw
2 bags Oriental flavored Ramon Noodles
¾ stick butter
¼ cup slivered almonds
2 bags (12oz.) broccoli cole slaw
¼ cup sunflower seeds
Chopped green onions for garnish
Dressing Mix:
¾ cup canola oil
¼ cup brown or white sugar
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 ramen noodle seasoning packet

Put the ramen noodles in a bag and crush them with a rolling pin while melting the butter in a large skillet over low/medium heat. Add the crushed noodles and slivered almonds to the skillet and sauté, stirring occasionally ( keep temperature at low/medium heat). Meanwhile, whisk together all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Place the broccoli slaw into a bowl and toss with the noodles, almonds, and sunflower seeds. Pour dressing over salad and toss to coat. Garnish with chopped green onions. Note: Add Craisins for sweet and sour salad.


4 8 oz. softened cream cheese
1 c. finely chopped red onion
8 T. chopped fresh dill
1/3 c. drained, chopped capers
2 T. fresh lemon juice
12 oz. smoked salmon slices, divided

Line 9x5x3-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving an overhang. Using an electric mixer, combine cheese, onion, dill, capers and lemon juice. Mix in 6 oz of salmon. Spread a few slices of salmon on bottom of pan (decoratively). Spread 1/3 of cheese in pan. Top with ½ of remaining salmon. Spread with another 1/3 of spread, remaining salmon and remaining spread. Cover and chill at least 4 hours up to 3 days. Turn terrine onto platter and serve with baguette slices or crackers.


Serves 12
1 pound pasta ( wagon wheel shaped or fusilli), cooked and drained
2/3 cup cider vinegar
¼ cup safflower oil
¾ cup chopped celery
¾ cup chopped green bell pepper
8 scallions, chopped
1 ( 2 ounce) jar chopped pimientos, drained
4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
4 dashes Tobasco
2 tablespoons chopped green chilies( I used canned)
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons ground black pepper
2 cups black-eyed peas, cooked and drained ( I used canned)
6 ounces ripe olives, chopped and drained ( I used sliced, prettier)
2 ounces green olives, chopped and drained ( I used sliced, prettier)
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons picante salsa

In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients. Cover and chill at least 24 hours.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Rapture Lemon Bars by Colleen

Background note:  Last week, Colleen (who was down with a cold) mentioned that she was thinking about making lemon squares. So,  I asked her to share her recipe since Tom has been wanting me to make them. 

Hi Barb --

Almost feel human enough to bake today. I have four lemons. I found a recipe from Barefoot Contessa online, and then a modification from Smitten Kitchen of the same recipe. So I might try that. I guess BC likes 50/50 on the cookie and lemon custard , while SK likes more 70/30 in favor of cookie. I will ponder my own feelings on this key issue and attempt a batch. Will report back later.


Hi again Barb --

I have the bars in the oven. I went with the Smitten Kitchen recipe which calls for less sugar. But I did the BC ratio with 1:1 cookie/lemon.

HOWEVER, I have done a "Barbara," meaning I decided I like raspberry with lemon so I put some fresh raspberries on the crust before I poured on the lemon custard. We will see if this works! I forgot to take any photos when I did this - I just don't cook with a camera in mind, although all the good
bloggers do!

Anyway, I'll let you know how this turns out. Today the world was supposed to end. Actually by 6 EST, and 3 PST. I had planned to get them made prior to the end of the world - I figured who cares about calories if the world is ending? Go out with a bang! However, it seems that the world is NOT ending. So if the recipe works, you can make it too!

We can call them To Die For Lemon Bars! Or Rapture Lemon Bars. Sherri Shepherd on the View said she was cleaning her house and making cupcakes so if the rapture did happen Jesus would have something to eat when he came to get her. She is such a weird mixture of funny and village idiot all in one package.

Okay Barb - see recipe attached. I think Tom will enjoy. The cookie is delicious and the SK version of the bar with reduced sugar in the lemon custard is good. I think with or without the berries will be a hit. Go for it!

Smitten Kitchen Lemon Bars
(or The Rapture Lemon Bars/May 21, 2011)
Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

For those of you who like the 1:1 crust to lemon layer ratio, use the second option.

For the crust:
1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

For the full-size lemon layer:
6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (4 to 6 lemons)
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup flour

Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

[Or] for a thinner lemon layer:
4 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (3 to 4 lemons)
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2/3 cup flour

Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet.

For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into the greased baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill.

Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.

For the lemon layer, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes (less if  you are using the thinner topping), or about five minutes beyond the point where the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.

Cut into triangles and dust with confectioners' sugar.

Here is what I did differently from SK:

Eggs: If you don't have XL eggs, use 7 large instead of 6 XL. Close enough.

I prepped the pan with Crisco Baker's Spray ­ it has some sort of flour suspended in the oil and the bars did not stick. SK had had some issue with bars adhering to pan like glue. I also went around the edge with a flat knife when I took them out of the oven to loosen the edges.

I didn't bother with putting the cookie dough onto a board with flour. I just pressed it into the pan. Seemed to work just find. But I also didn't use a mixer for the dough. I just did it by hand until the ingredients just came together into a ball.

iPhoto, thanks to Buddy

Berries: I added about 1 cup of fresh raspberries to the recipe. I think you could use either raspberries or blueberries. After I baked the crust I let it cool. Then I sprinkled on the berries and poured the lemon custard over the top. The berries traveled a little toward the edges, so I moved them back to a more even distribution before I put it in the oven to bake.

I baked the second round for 30 minutes. It might have been a bit too long, even with the thicker layer of lemon. Be careful to check them at 25 minutes, especially if your oven runs hot. When I cut the bars, the outside edge was bit overdone, but the inside was delicious. You can just cut a 1/4 to 1/2 inche strip around the edge of the pan and only serve the interior portion.

I really liked the addition of the berries. One, it gives them a little hit of color. Two the tartness of the berries helps mitigate against the sweetness of the cookie. Three, it adds fiber and potassium. So you can consider the bar a health food. Win-win!!

So William just tried one of the bars. He likes the raspberry because he says normally the lemon is overwhelming. Let me know if you make them and what Tom thinks if you add the fruit.