Okra, Beef & Tofu Stir Fry

I was eating at dinner at Gaku (this really amazing Japanese restaurant you have to go there) last time I was home on Oahu and I saw the chef creating this dish for his employee family meal.  This dish exactly?  No, but something similar- okra, beef, broth and tofu all simmered together.  Don’t be scared away by the slimy texture of okra, if you cook it the right way the sliminess goes away!  Here is my interpretation, pardon the eyeballed quantities…

Ingredients:

2 blocks tofu, firm

1 package okra, quartered

1 cup+ low sodium beef broth

1 package of beef, salt & pepper seasoned

1/2 onion, sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 tbsp+ oyster sauce

1/8 cup+ low sodium soy sauce

1 tbsp+ sesame oil

1 tbsp+ cornstarch (dependent on amount of broth used & desired consistency)

cooking oil

-Heat cooking oil in a medium skillet on high heat and add garlic and onions.  Saute for 3 minutes, until garlic is fragrant and onions sweat.

-Add okra for another 3 minutes, or until slime is no longer being produced.  A dash more of cooking oil may be required.

-Push veggies to the side of the skillet and add in sliced beef, browning each side.  Then add in beef broth, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil and stir.  Turn the heat to low-medium heat.

-Cube tofu and add to mixture.  Allow to simmer.  Taste broth and add oyster sauce, soy sauce and sesame oil to taste.  Simmer for… a long time, until you feel that the tofu has absorbed the flavors of the dish.

-Push the veggies, beef and tofu to one side of the skillet so you have a puddle of sauce.  Add cornstarch and stir well, to thicken the sauce.  Keep adding until satisfied with the consistency.  Mix the sauce back with the goods and serve.

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Shaved Asparagus Quinoa Salad


Simple and light, dressed in olive oil and lemon juice.

Ingredients:

3/4 to 1 cup cooked quinoa

6-7 stalks of asparagus

1 small lemon

olive oil, to taste

sea salt, to taste

black pepper, to taste

2 tbsp pine nuts

1 -2 oz parmesan, shaved

-Shave asparagus with a vegetable peeler.  Hold the ends against the cutter board, and peel from the tough end to the tip

-Toast the pine nuts in a skillet over medium heat, stirring often

-Zest the lemon and slice it in half

-In a bowl or on a plate, combine cooked quinoa and shaved asparagus.  Squeeze in the juice of half a lemon and a good drizzle of olive oil.  Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper then toss.  Sprinkle with pine nuts, lemon zest and parmesan.  Serve immediately~

Chocolate Caramel Cookie Brittle

Crunchy and sugarly with a slight hint of salt inside and a smooth chocolate exterior.  I gave this away as a holiday treat this year and I was asked for the recipe so many times.  It’s seriously that good, and ridiculously easy to make.  You can even customize it and use white chocolate, crunch up some candy canes, or smear on some marshmallow cream before the final rechilling.

Ingredients

1 sleeve saltines

2 sticks butter

1 cup brown sugar

12 oz chocolate chips

-Preheat oven to 400 d F while you line an 11-17 baking pan with foil.

-Lay out all saltines in a single layer in the pan, sides touching.

-Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat, then add the brown sugar and heat to boiling for 3 minutes while stirring.

-Pour butter/sugar mixture over saltines, covering thoroughly!

-Bake for 7 minutes while you melt all the chocolate chips, then spread over saltines covering thoroughly.

-Refrigerate until completely cooled and hardened, then break into pieces and enjoy!

Quinoa Fishcakes with Sriracha Butter

Dish pictured »here«.  This recipe was an experiment using leftovers from my »Fish en Papillote« and quinoa, so not all of the measurements are exact although I’ll try.  Using quinoa for the fishcakes instead of potato kept them really light and, taking into consideration the mahi mahi, very healthy.  Healthy, though the serrano chili and sriracha butter keep them from lacking flavor.  If I recall correctly, this recipe produces 8 fishcakes.

Ingredients

1 filet of white fish, I used mahi mahi

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 serrano chili, finely chopped

small bundle of green onion, finely chopped

splash of toasted sesame oil

splash of shoyu (soy sauce)

1 tbsp freshly grated ginger

1-2 egg whites, beaten

1 cup cooked quinoa

1/3 cup breadcrumbs or panko

-Salt and pepper your filet then, in an oiled skillet, cook for just about a minute per side.

-In a large bowl, flake filet into small pieces with a fork.  Mix in chili, green onion, ginger, garlic, quinoa, sesame oil and shoyu.  Add in one egg white and breadcrumbs until mixture sticks together well.  Add more egg whites if needed- you want your mixture to be on the more wet side.

-Roll a golf ball sized spoonful of mixture into patty form and fry in an oiled skillet for about 3 minutes per side, or until golden brown.

-Serve with a drizzle of sriracha butter and some vegetables.

Sriracha Butter

Ingredients

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

5 tbsp sriracha

3 cloves garlic, minced

pinch of salt

swirl of olive oil

2 tbsp chopped cilantro

-Combine minced garlic, salt and olive oil.  Add butter and cilantro, mix well.

-Add 1tbsp of sriracha at a time, while mixing well.

-Once ingredients are well blended, form into a log or scoop into jars and refrigerate for at least an hour before use.  Good for 2 weeks in fridge.

Fish en Papillote Recipe

Mahi Mahi en Papillote with serrano chillies, shiitake mushrooms, garlic and ginger.  Finished dish pictured »here«.  I used mahi mahi, but you could use any white fish of your liking.  ”En papillote” simply refers to the method of cooking the fish in parchment paper with the sides and sauces in order to lock in all of the flavor.  Recipe serves 2.

Ingredients

2 filets of white fish

Splashes of toasted sesame oil

Splashes of mirin

6-8 cloves of fresh garlic, minced

Fresh ginger, minced or grated equal to the garlic

2-3 serrano chillies

Handful of dried shiitake mushrooms

Handful of fresh shiitake mushrooms

Bundle of green onion

One zucchini

Salt and pepper 
-Using about twice as much water as mushrooms, bring dried mushrooms and water into a simmer in a sauce pan.  Allow mushrooms to simmer and create a broth while you prepare your other ingredients.
-Mince garlic, grate ginger, chop serrano chillies finely, and thinly slice green onion.  Slice zucchini about 1/4 of an inch thick, to place your filet over.
-Prepare a parchment paper for each fish.  Allow it to be double the size of your fish so you have room to wrap the fish and fold the sides in — similar to a book opened at the spine.
-Lay parchment onto a sheet pan and add a generous amount of sesame oil about the size of your filet.
-Add the ginger, garlic, chillies, green onion and zucchini on top of the oil.  Season with salt and pepper.
-Lay your filet atop the zucchini and season again with salt and pepper.
-In a small dish, combine some of the shiitake broth with a splash of mirin and pour over your fish.
-Chop up the fresh shiitake and place over your fish, along with some of the extra ginger, garlic, chillies and green onions.
-Wrap it up!  Fold the other side over your fish and fold in the edges little by little.  Just make sure it seems secure in there!  Cook at 425*F for about 10-15 minutes, just long enough to steam the fish.

Homemade Strawberry Marshmallow Cookies to-be

Bacon and Goat Cheese Muffins

Easy breakfast, as pictured »here«.

Ingredients

5 oz of bacon (I estimated about 5 slices, will probably use in the future)

1/2 cup whole wheat flour **

1/2 cup all purpose flour **

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

3 eggs

1/2 cup warm milk

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

4 oz mozzarella

4 oz chevre, goat cheese

*** Do you notice my attempt to make this healthy? feel free to use 1 cup of whichever flour you prefer

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

-Cook bacon until crisp and remove all rendered fat

-Mix flour and baking powder in a bowl.  Add the warm milk, eggs, and oil until incorporated.

-With a spatula, mix in bacon, mozzarella and half of goat cheese.

-Pour into six muffin tins, and sprinkle the remaining goat cheese on top.

-Bake for 30-35 minutes and serve warm.

Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Arugula Salad with Candied Walnuts

The creaminess from the cheese, with the rich berry flavor from the roasted beets, and the sweet crunch from the candied walnuts doused in a refreshing citrus dressing over peppery arugula… yeah- this is good.  I wish my camera phone hadn’t been temporarily out of service, because I want to show you how pretty it was too.  The dark red beets contrasting with the pillowy goat cheese makes for a very nice presentation.  This recipe is flexible and can make 2-6 entrees, depending on how you plate it.

Ingredients:

Arugula (as much greens as you would prefer)

4 large beets

1/2 cup extra olive oil

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

splash of orange juice

coarse sea salt & ground black pepper

4 oz chevre goat cheese, crumbled (suggest 1 oz per salad)

1 cup walnut halves

1 tbsp butter

2 tbsp brown sugar

2 tbsp maple syrup

dash of cinnamon

dash of paprika

3/4 tbsp sea salt

For the beets:

-Preheat oven to 400 deg. F

-Remove stems, wash, scrub and dry thoroughly

-Place beets on a sheet of foil and drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper

-Fold over the foil and crimp edges tightly creating an envelope

-Place packets on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until tender when pierced with a knife, about 55 minutes depending on size

-Allow beets to cool before handling, then rub each beet with a paper towl to remove its “skin”

-This can be done ahead of time; roasted beets last up to one week refrigerated

For the walnuts:

-Preheat oven to 375 deg.F

-In a small saucepan, melt the butter.  Stir in sugar, cinnamon, salt, paprika and maple syrup

-Bring to a simmer and cook for three minutes, add in the walnuts and stir to coat cooking for an additional three minutes

-Transfer nuts to a parchment lined baking sheet in a single layer and bake for 10 minutes

-Allow to cool until hardened, approximately 30 minutes.

To assemble:

-In a large bowl whisk together the oil, lemon zest and juice, salt, pepper and orange juice to make the vinaigrette

-Add the salad greens and toss to coat

-Plate salad and top with crumbled goat cheese, chopped candied walnuts, and cubed roasted beets.

Black Pepper and Sesame Sea Scallops

Ingredients:

6 jumbo sea scallops

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp shoyu

1 tsp black sesame seeds

1 tsp white sesame seeds

fresh ground black pepper, to taste

-In a smal bowl, mix together olive oil and shoyu.  Pour over scallops, generously dousing each one and allow to marinate for 10 minutes.

-Sprinkle sesame seeds and grind black pepper on top.

-Place into a heated skillet over medium-high heat, pouring extra sauce on top, and sear for 1-2 minutes per side.

-Serve warm over a bed of greens and, like I did, crispy kale chips.

Caramelized Chicken with Mushroom Sauce and Herb Bread

Mushrooms.  Wine.  Butter.  Bread.  I could probably eat attempt to eat a whole loaf of bread as long as it was dipped into that sauce.  My picture doesn’t do the dish justice at all; go make this for dinner tonight.

Ingredients

4 thinly sliced boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/3 cup all purpose flour

2 tbsp olive oil

3 tbsp butter

1/4 cup butter, softened + herbs of choice 

1/4 onion, chopped

2 cups sliced mushrooms

1/3 cup white wine (+ some to sip on)

bread of choice (I had french on hand)

salt + pepper to taste

-Heat a large skillet on medium high heat then add olive oil.

-Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then dredge in a bowl of flour to achieve a thin coat on the chicken.

-Add the chicken to skillet and brown each side, about 4 minutes per side.  While chicken is browning, chop onion and slice mushrooms.

-Once chicken is done, set it aside.  Turn heat down to medium and add 1 tbsp butter and the chopped onion.  Saute for 1 minute, add the remaining 2 tbsp butter and mushrooms, and saute for 6-8 minutes.

-Add in wine to deglaze the pan and stir well.  Add the chicken back in with the mushroom onion sauce.  After a moment, replate.

-Combine 1/4 cup of softened butter and herbs (I chose basil and parsley).  Spread over sliced bread and place under broiler for 1-2 minutes, or grill buttered side down.

-Serve hot, and keep the sauce on the side for dipping.

Warm Spring Salad

Here’s the recipe for the warm spring salad I made yesterday (pictured here) as an adaption of two warm spinach salads.  It’s easy, filling and includes bacon… no brainer.

Ingredients:

8 oz of Spinach leaves or whatever you have on hand- I used Spring Mix greens

4 hard boiled eggs

4 pieces of thick sliced bacon or pancetta, chopped

3 tbs extra virgin olive oil

3 tbs red wine vinegar

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 small onion, thinly sliced

ground pepper and nutmeg to taste

Parmesan to top

-Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Once hot, add bacon to skillet until crispy.

-Remove crispy bacon with a slotted spoon, and add onions and garlic to the skillet with the bacon fat.

-After 3-4 minutes, deglaze the pan with the red wine vinegar and turn the heat down to simmer.  Add the greens and allow to wilt down a little while tossing it in the sauce.

-Season with pepper and nutmeg, then transfer greens to serving plates.  Top with the chopped bacon, shredded cheese and quartered eggs.

Red Velvet White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup butter (softened)

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

3 cups AP flour

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2/3 cup cocoa powder

2 tsp red food coloring

3/4 cup white chocolate chip

-Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease two large cookie sheets

-Cream together the butter and both sugars until mixture is smooth and fluffy.  Add in eggs one at a time.  Add in food coloring and vanilla.

-In a separate bowl, whisk together your dry ingredients— the flour, salt, baking soda, and cocoa powder.  Gradually add dry mixture to butter mixture until just combined.  Fold in white chocolate chips last.

-Scoop dough onto cookie sheets in heaping tbps about two inches apart, and bake for 10-12 minutes.