linguine with red swiss chard and Egyptian fennel

lunch today was almost a disaster but thankfully the linguine tasted fine. but NOT the poached chicken.

i'm not sure if it was the limes or the herbs i used. the chicken was bitter! i think it's the herbs from Provence...no wonder my mother-in-law didn't want to keep this bottle of exotic sounding herbs. now one of my good friends thinks it's the limes. in any case, we won't talk about the chicken today.

as for the linguine, it was incorporated into a swiss chard recipe that i think came out of the Fields of Greens recipe book, which i don't own so i can't verify it now. this is how i remember cooking the chard.

Linguine with Red Swiss Chard and Egyptian Fennel

1 bunch red swiss chard, roughly chopped
1 medium carrot, cut into julienne strips
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Egyptian fennel
Spike seasoning, salt and pepper to taste
4 Tablespoons (or more) olive oil
linguine for 2 servings (I don't know exactly how much I used)

1 Cook linguine according to package instructions. Rinse with cold water and set aside.

2 Blanch swiss chard in boiling water for about 2-3 minutes. Drain and set aside.

3 Saute garlic, carrots and fennel in olive oil with some salt until fennel is slightly brown. Add swiss chard and stir fry for 1-2 minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper and Spike.

4 Add cooked linguine and stir, adding more salt to season the pasta.

5 Dish up and enjoy!

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Nobu inspired

inspired by Jaden's Steamy Kitchen and Rasa Malaysia's posts using Nobu-style miso marinades, i decided to try the marinade with tofu. i didn't have sake in my pantry so i substituted with rice wine, and used the miso that i had in my refrigerator.

i had a question about the miso i had because the label was all in Japanese. only the ingredients and nutritional information are in English, everything else on the label is in Japanese. if you click on the picture above, it will take you to my flickr photo post, which has more info on the product provided by one of my flickr/blog contacts, Blue Lotus. i know this is definitely not white miso, as you can see, and it's "chunky style":

i used extra firm Soga organic tofu for the first time today. bought it at Trader Joe's, 99 cents for a 15.5oz package. the tofu came in a twin pack, convenient for when you need a smaller portion.

i really liked the results of my adapted miso marinade for the tofu, which i broiled.

Broiled Tofu with Nobu-Inspired Miso

1/4 cup rice wine
1/4 cup mirin
4 Tablespoons miso paste
3 Tablespoons granulated sugar

1 lb extra firm tofu
Green onion slices for garnish

1 Slice tofu into approximately 1/4-inch thick pieces. You should get about eight pieces. Lay tofu slices on a tray lined with paper towels to blot out some of the moisture.

2 Meanwhile, bring rice wine and mirin to a boil in a small pot, allowing alcohol to evaporate.

3 Over medium heat, add miso paste, one tablespoon at a time. Blend in with a wooden spatula.

4 When the miso mixture has blended in, turn up the heat and add sugar one tablespoon at a time, stirring to dissolve sugar before adding the next spoonful. Remove from heat.

5 Baste one side of tofu pieces with miso marinade. Broil on lower rack of toaster oven for 10 minutes (or less depending on your oven). Turn tofu pieces over and baste with additional miso marinade. Broil for another 10 minutes or until golden brown.

6 Serve immediately, garnished with green onion slices.

i used the small amount of leftover miso marinade plus a dash of Bragg liquid aminos and a drizzle of sesame oil to season some soba noodles, mixed in some edamame, and topped off with green onion slices to accompany this wonderful broiled tofu.

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my first horchata recipe

i made my first attempt at making homemade horchata yesterday. using the recipes i posted this past weekend as a guide, i used whatever ingredients i had available in my pantry for this first try.

the result was a pleasant, refreshing drink, which my husband set his seal of approval on, except he said it was a little too sweet for him. i thought it was just right, definitely not as sweet as how they make it in the Mexican taquerias. you can reduce the amount of sugar to 6 Tablespoons if you like. the lime zest adds a very slight citrus undertone. here's my first recipe of horchata, using brown jasmine rice:

Horchata Arroz Marrón del Jazmín

1 cup brown jasmine rice
1/2 cup almonds, blanched and skinned*
1 teaspoon cinnamon (forgot I did not have cinnamon sticks!!!)
zest of 1 lime (I was too lazy to measure 1 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 cups water
1/2 cup sugar (about 7 Tablespoons)

*To skin almonds (method courtesy of The Food Section post):
Blanch almonds in boiling water for 30 seconds. Drain and discard water. When almonds are cool, squeeze between thumb and index finger. Almonds should squirt out of their skins.

Grind rice into fine powder using a coffee grinder. In a glass pitcher, combine ground rice, blanched almonds, cinnamon, lime zest, and vanilla extract with 3 cups of water. Cover and let sit overnight in refrigerator.

The next day, pour rice mixture into blender and puree until smooth, adding sugar and the remaining 3 cups of water. I did this in 3 batches. Strain the horchata into a pitcher using a strainer and cheesecloth. Press/squeeze cheesecloth to extract as much of the liquid as possible.

Put a couple of ice cubes in a glass, pour desired amount of horchata, enjoy! Refrigerate the rest to enjoy later.

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whole wheat banana pancakes

tall stack, anyone? made a batch of these pancakes today. the recipe is adapted from this excellent basic pancake recipe, which makes nice fluffy pancakes. i just added some whole-wheat flour and made the suggested banana variation. didn't use cinnamon this time, but have used it before and it tastes wonderful.

Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes

1/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1 egg
1 cup soy milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 very ripe banana, mashed

1 stick butter to grease skillet (optional)

1 In a medium bowl, mix together with a wire whisk flours, baking powder, sugar, salt, and cinnamon (if using).

2 In a 1-cup glass mixing cup, beat egg. Add milk and vegetable oil; mix well.

3 Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients, stirring until just moist. Gently mix in mashed bananas. Let mixture rest 30 seconds. Pancake batter will rise and bubble.

4 Heat nonstick skillet on medium heat. (Rub butter stick lightly on skillet to grease, if you like.) Spoon 1/4 cup of pancake batter onto skillet, spreading batter to form four-inch pancakes.

5 When bubbles appear on the surface of the pancake, flip over and cook for 1-2 minutes until bottom is golden.

Makes about 8 four-inch pancakes.

this was the last bonus size pancake of the batch:

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5 things you might not know about me

i have been blog-tagged by my newest blog contact Jaden. blog-tagging is something rather new to me, and whilst i was reading up on this game of blogosphere, i even came across a Blog Tag Tree first started by Jeff Pulver.

well, here are 5 things about me unknown to most people:

1 i was a vegan for about 10 years in my young adult days. my mother calls me a "back-slidden vegetarian" now.

2 i have done some knitting, too. 2 projects i've managed to complete: a scarf and a dish rag.

3 i was once a college instructor at 三育基督學院, a Christian college in Taiwan. i spent 3 very rewarding school years there teaching music and office administration courses. looking back, i find it really hard myself to believe that i actually lectured in 國語. had to re-learn my Mandarin Chinese very quickly in order to communicate effectively with my students. i had studied Mandarin Chinese as a second language in school but never used it growing up. i can testify that total immersion in a language/culture really facilitates the language learning process!

4 my favorite ice popsicle flavor: tamarind

5 countries i've lived in: Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, England, Taiwan, USA; countries i've visited: Indonesia, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Austria, Sweden, Finland, Canada, Japan, China, Hong Kong; countries i've stopped over: Russia, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates.

now i'm tagging some of my blog friends:

Manisha of Indian Food Rocks

Dr Stonielove

Amy of Blue Lotus

Deb of Smitten Kitchen





one of my favorite "Mexican" beverages is horchata (the other being Sangria Senorial). this post from Slashfood for Cinco de Mayo got me interested in how horchata is made. i never thought that it was actually made using raw rice. some recipes use cooked rice, but i think the raw rice method is more authentic. there's also horchata de chufas, made from tigernuts, but that's the Spanish version of horchata, which i'm not familiar with. horchata de arroz is what i'm talkin' 'bout here.

anyways, besides the recipe on Slashfood, i found two more that caught my interest. one is by Too Many Chefs, which led me to the post by The Food Section. here is a photo of the main ingredients that are used to make horchata, courtesy of The Food Section.

i'm going to pick up ingredients to make this wonderful beverage. my husband says i can use his coffee grinder to grind the rice, too!



matzo balls

i made matzo balls for the first time last night with store-bought Manischewitz Matzo Ball Mix. placed the cooked matzo balls in a vegetable chicken broth and they were yummy.

then i went online afterward to do some reading on what to do with leftover matzo balls and came across this really great post Cooking Live with Slashfood: Matzo Ball Soup. you know there are some posts that just make you want to read them because of the way they are written and laid out and photographed, etc. this one was one of them. great how-to post that i had to bookmark here for later use.

well, here are some ideas for leftover cooked matzo balls:

* slice the leftover matzo balls and fry in oil
* Coconut & Lime advises to store cooked matzo balls separately from broth so they don't soak up too much liquid and fall apart
* Gail Simmons says cooked matzo balls can be kept in an airtight container for up to 2 days
* Norene Gilletz shares her secret: matzo balls can be cooked in advance and frozen in chicken soup; or freeze them on a cookie sheet until firm then transfer to freezer bags and store in freezer, then reheat frozen matzo balls in soup when needed

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Jamaican Jerk Chicken

i recently received a recipe for jerk chicken from my friend Betty, which sparked my interest in researching about jerk seasonings. from a Wikipedia article i learned that jerk "is a style of cooking native to Jamaica in which meats (traditionally pork, but now including chicken, fish, beef and even tofu) are dry-rubbed with a fiery spice mixture called Jamaican jerk spice. Jerk seasoning principally relies upon two items: allspice (Jamaican Pimento) and Scotch Bonnet peppers (among the hottest peppers on the Scoville scale). other ingredients include cloves, cinnamon, scallions, Todd (elm cultivar), nutmeg, thyme, garlic, which is mixed together to form a marinade which is rubbed onto pork, chicken, or fish."

a search online led me to this recipe for Jamaican Jerk Chicken. i adapted the two recipes i had on hand and the result is pictured below:

a mildly tangy and spicy moist baked chicken dish, which i served over brown rice and accompanied with a green salad. i'd like to try a dry rub recipe next time to see which i prefer. and maybe use tofu instead. my adapted recipe follows.

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

4 to 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Kosher salt

1 habanero pepper – seeded and chopped
(I used 1 tsp of crushed red pepper instead)
½ medium onion – finely chopped

2 tsp ground allspice
2 tsp ground thyme
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp ground sage
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp garlic powder (or fresh garlic)
2 Tbsp brown sugar

¼ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup orange juice
juice of 1 lime

¼ cup olive oil

1 small red onion – finely diced
1 small cucumber – peeled and finely diced
1 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 Rinse chicken and pat dry. Trim off excess fat. With a sharp knife, make several slits in each piece of chicken. Sprinkle generously with Kosher salt and rub salt into chicken.

2 In a large bowl, combine allspice, thyme, cayenne pepper, black pepper, sage, nutmeg, cinnamon, garlic powder and brown sugar. Mix well with a wire whisk.

3 Combine cider vinegar, orange juice and lime juice in a measuring cup.

4 Slowly add the olive oil and vinegar juice mixture into the spices, whisking with a wire whisk. Add the habanero pepper and onion. Mix well.

5 Add the chicken breasts, cover and marinate for at least 1 hour in refrigerator, longer if possible.

6 Combine all relish ingredients and refrigerate.

7 Heat oven to 375˚. Place chicken in pyrex baking dish. Spoon some of the marinade on top of the chicken. Bake chicken 25 minutes or until fully cooked. (Or heat grill to medium-high, remove breasts from marinade and grill chicken 6 minutes each side or until fully cooked. Baste with marinade while grilling.)

8 Serve chicken with brown rice topped with relish. Accompany with green salad (romaine, cilantro, roma tomato, avocado, and lime juice vinaigrette).

Note: Habanero peppers (also known as Scotch Bonnet peppers) are the hottest of the capsicum peppers! Substitute Serranos or Thai Bird Chiles if you can't find them.

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