Sunday, 23 December 2012

Kitchen Experiment #11: Cheese waffles, two ways

Cheese in waffles...sounds ridiculous ? Trust me, it works! The saltiness of the cheese marries well with the sweetness of the maple syrup and makes for a great breakfast. I tried 2 versions, one using cheese cubes and another using grated parmesan cheese.

Cut the cheddar cheese block into small cubes. Set aside.


Use your favorite store bought grated parmesan cheese.


For a no fuss breakfast, use your favorite waffle mix. Our favorite is PC Extra Fluffy.


Sprinkle the cheese onto the waffle batter.



This is how it turns out.


I have to say that both versions were actually good. The one with the cubes had pockets of melted cheese inside when you bite into the waffle. The other version with the grated cheese smelled so good with shreds of toasted cheese. As to which is better is a personal preference. Breakfast is served!



Saturday, 22 December 2012

Kitchen Experiment #10 Roast Pork Tenderloin in Orange Terriyaki Sauce

I am not a fan of pork tenderloin because it is prone to being dry if not cooked correctly. I'd rather use a more fatty cut such as pork shoulder or pork belly since they are more forgiving and always turn out oh so tender. For health reasons though, I force myself to cook using leaner cuts of meat such as pork tenderloin. This is a no fuss dish that takes minutes to prepare and yet turns out delicious.

Rub the pork tenderloin with olive oil. Combine salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder, paprika, and onion powder. I tried this rub on ribs and they turned out great! As to the proportions, just eyeball it!


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Sear the tenderloin over medium high heat on all sides until it is nice and brown.


Roast the meat until internal temperature reaches 150 degrees, around 15-20 minutes.

Brush the meat with orange terriyaki glaze every so often. For the glaze, I used a recipe I found online which uses orange juice, soy sauce, honey and ginger juice. Combine everything, bring it up to a boil and turn down the heat to simmer until the sauce thickens.

To serve, cut the tenderloin into pieces but don't forget to let it rest before slicing! As you can see below, I had to slice the meat before adequate resting since the kids were too hungry to wait. Thus, some of the juices escaped :(

Serve with some sauteed greens such as spinach in garlic.



Friday, 17 August 2012

Kitchen Experiment #9: Quinoa Salad

One no-fail dish that all my kids and my husband like is my baked salmon. It is a rich dish that you pretty much have to serve with something with a little acidity to balance out its richness. Since white wine is not an option (at least not in front of the kids during dinner time), I decided to serve it with a simple quinoa salad.


I chopped some fresh veggies and herbs -- yellow peppers, grape tomatoes, cucumber, parsley leaves.

Mixed some lime juice with olive oil, salt, and pepper to make the dressing...

Tossed everything together with the cooked quinoa...

It was a great accompaniment to my rich baked salmon...


Kitchen Experiment #8: Shrimp Scampi

What can you cook on a Thursday night when the fridge is almost empty ? With a few ingredients left in the fridge, an almost empty cupboard, and an ounce of energy left after a long day at work, I had to dig deep to come up with a quick dish for my hungry boys. Without much thinking, Shrimp Scampi it is !


I sautéed lots of chopped garlic in olive oil then added the canned diced tomatoes.

I poured in some white wine then tossed the frozen shrimps in...not to forget is a generous sprinkling of freshly cracked tri-colored pepper, salt and a dab of butter. If I had uncooked shrimps, I would've seared them to perfection but it is what it is.

Finished off the sauce with some spinach ...

Finally, I tossed the sauce into the cooked spaghettini to conclude this humble undertaking.

Dinner for 4 hungry boys is served...


Saturday, 4 August 2012

Kitchen Experiment #7: $50 Prime Rib Meal for 5, not bad !

When we were living in Chicago, one of our favorites was the charred prime rib at Gibsons Steakhouse. One slice can set you back a good $50 so we end up ordering just a slice of prime rib and a Chicago cut (22 oz) to share. Even with the restrained order, with the drinks, taxes and tip, our bill ends up outrageous. Since my kids eat meat at sordid quantities, I was forced to experiment on making prime rib at home for economical reasons.


Using Costco's bone-in AAA rib eye cut which I snagged for $45, I first tied the meat with kitchen twine and seasoned it generously with rosemary, thyme, sea salt and pepper.

I seared the meat on all sides to lock in the juices, after which I popped it inside the oven for some serious slow roasting.

For a side dish, I tossed some colorful baby carrots in olive oil, salt and pepper and blast roasted them.

For the finishing touch, I made some gravy by sautéing some baby bellas, adding a canned mushroom gravy mix, adding the flavorful drippings from the meat and simmering until incorporated. This is the preferred gravy in this house more than the thinner jus.

Time to slice ! The meat turned out juicy and perfectly pink to our liking.  With horseradish cream on the side, my boys relentlessly devoured it. The great thing about this meal is that it only set me back $50 ! Definitely not bad for a prime rib meal !



Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Kitchen Experiment #6: Salted Toffee Cookies

My youngest son has a sweet tooth. He does not appreciate majority of the savoury dishes I make but raves about my baking...that is, as long as I use one of his favorite ingredients -- chocolate, toffee, caramel, and peanut butter . Almost every day, as soon as I get home from work, he asks me to bake him some cookies. This is not a good thing because I barely have energy left to cook dinner, let alone bake some dessert. But today I gave in to his pleadings and baked him some salted toffee cookies.


I used the Hershey's Toffee Cookies recipe and added a sprinkling of sea salt (on my batch of cookies) to balance out the sweetness of the toffee bits. That way, I was able to come up with both a kiddie and adult version of the cookie.

10 minutes per batch was not that bad. My son waited impatiently, not taking his eyes off the blobs of cookie dough slowly melting away in the oven. He had to wait 10 more minutes to let the cookies cool down, asking every minute or two "Are they ready, Mom?"

It was worth the wait because it turned out moist and delicious.

Time for some cookies and milk ! He smiled a big smile with his front milk teeth hanging by a thread and uttered the sweetest "Thank you, Mom !" Now, that was worth staying up late for :)


Saturday, 28 July 2012

Kitchen Experiment #5 Holy Guacamole !

Our family lived in Northbrook, Illinois for close to 4 years. Our favorite Mexican restaurant in the neighborhood was San Gabriel Mexican Cafe. My husband and I would usually cap off the week with a glass or two of their phenomenal Margaritas alongside freshly made tortilla chips and Guacamole en Molcajete. Their version of guacamole is made table side on a molcajete, a bowl carved from volcanic rock . I loved it a lot that I searched far and wide to buy my own molcajete so I can make an authentic version of this healthy dip at home anytime.


I started out by chopping some onions, garlic, tomatoes, Haas avocados, and cilantro. I then squeezed the juice of one lime.

I put some of the chopped onions, garlic, tomatoes, lime juice and sea salt on the molcajete and pounded them into a paste.  The salt helps break down the chunks thus releasing more flavor out of these ingredients.

I then added half of the chopped avocados and tomatoes, put in more lime juice, salt and pepper and mashed everything together. For extra chunkiness, I added the rest of the chopped onions and tomatoes without mashing them. Lastly, I garnished the dip with some chopped cilantro.

It was a perfect snack while watching the opening of the 2012 London Olympics.


Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Kitchen Experiment #4: Biscotti

I have a handful of biscotti recipes but the Americas Test Kitchen version is my holy grail. My favorite combination is pistachios and cranberries. The only problem is finding peeled pistachios here in Toronto. It is so hard to peel pistachios so I ask my boys to help (after thoroughly washing their hands) and promise them a yummy treat after their hard work.

Contrary to public perception, it is actually very easy to make biscotti. No matter how many times I make this treat without paying too much attention to measurements, they always turn out great. The only really tedious part is having to bake them twice -- the first time as loaves...

and the second time as strips ...

Then they turn out delicious ! Nothing is more satisfying than a cup of tea and some biscotti.


Sunday, 22 July 2012

Kitchen Experiment #3: Mini Bruschetta Bar...Can it pass for a light dinner ?

After gorging on all you can eat sushi at Sakura, our favorite neighborhood Japanese restaurant, we arrived home all in a state of food coma. A few hours later, my eldest son shouts -- What's for dinner, Mom?  These bottomless pits ! What can I possibly whip up in minutes ? One todo on my list which I always forget is "thaw out the chicken". So I had to make do with whatever was in the fridge -- mushrooms, tomatoes, arugula. Bruschetta maybe ? Good thing I grabbed some good quality baguette on my way home that morning.


I sauteed some baby bella mushrooms with lots of garlic and some butter.

I then chopped some roma tomatoes and basil leaves, drizzled them with extra virgin olive oil, and seasoned them with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. I sliced the baguette into 1/2 inch slices, brushed the slices with olive oil, rubbed them with garlic, and popped them into the toaster oven. While waiting for the bread slices to toast, I washed some baby arugula.

Voila ! A Mini Bruschetta Bar !

The tomato and arugula bruschetta was a sight to behold with the bold red color from the fresh roma tomatoes and the vibrant green from the baby arugula! It was as tasty as it was pretty!