Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Conifer Sunrise January 5, 2012
View from my front porch!

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Shiitake and Dried Porcini Thai Noodle bowl with Tempura Veggies

I have very vivid memories of dinning on tempura vegetables made with fresh veggies from my moms garden that still resonate in my mind to this day.

The crisp vegetables picked from the garden just moments before being plunged into light batter, then deep fried to crispy perfection, creep into my head like an old friend every summer about this time.

Mom always made the batter just right; never too heavy as to take away from the fresh flavor of the veggies.  Yum!  Mom surprised us with her inventive cooking style on many occasions.  One of my favorite tempura memories was eating fried squash blossoms for the first time.  I need to remind you that this was many years before anyone thought it was a cool to eat the blossoms of plants or edible flowers.  My mom was a home cook way ahead of her time teaching our family how to eat adventurously at a very young age. 

I think mom started cooking Asian food for my dad after he returned home from being stationed in Japan, as a result of him catching the bug for the flavors of the orient, which in turn he brought home to us.  Dad also taught us kids how to use chopsticks when we were very small children.  It was so much fun to go to the local Japanese resturant and watch people, watch me; a toe headed little girl at the age of 5 using chopsticks like a pro! 

This is my version of my moms tempura recipe and my newly invented recipe for a Thai Noodle bowl.   

Recipe Noodle Broth

5 dried Shiitake Mushrooms
1-6 dried Porcini Mushrooms
1 tablespoons Dulce Seaweed leaves
1/2 14 ounce package Thai Stir Fry Noodles
2 cups water
1-1/2 tablespoons chicken base
2 teaspoon fish Sauce
1 teaspoon prepared garlic sauce
1/2 teaspoon powdered or fresh ginger
1 tablespoon high quality soy sauce
Hoisen sauce for dipping

4 cups grape seed oil for frying

Tempura Batter

1-1/2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 32 ounce bottle soda water


In a medium bowl cover Thai noodles with very hot tap water and rest for 15 minutes, rehydrate mushrooms in hot tap water  for 5-10 minutes, remove Shiitake stems and slice into thin strips.

In a large stock pot add water, chicken base, fish sauce, garlic sauce, ginger and soy sauce and heat on medium high for 15 minutes, add mushrooms to broth, strain the re-hydration liquid from mushroom through a fine sieve and add to stock pot, cook for 25-30 minutes.

In a large wok, heat grape seed oil on medium high heat, while oil is heating whisk flour, salt and soda water together to make the tempura batter.  Add the soda water in 1 cup increments until desired consistency is reached.  Tempura batter is much thinner than most deep fry batters, it should resemble the consistency of buttermilk.

Wash and dry fresh vegetables, slice the larger vegetables thinly and separate broccoli and cauliflower into florets.  I used yellow squash, green beans, cauliflower, broccoli, and sweet potatoes for this recipe.  I also like to use onions, mushrooms and just about anything you can get fresh from the market or right from your garden. Dip vegetables in tempura batter to coat thoroughly.

Deep fry the vegetables in batches starting with the ones that have a longer cooking time, save the tender vegetables for last. Drain on a clean dish towel

Add the noodles to a large tureen or bowl in a decorative manner, pour broth over noodles, allow your guests to take a bundle of noodles and broth in individual bowls and top with Tempura.  I usually serve additional garlic and soy sauce on the side and for those who like a sweeter broth, I serve Hoisin sauce.

Recipe serves 4
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Monday, June 27, 2011

Pineapple Mango Mojitos, Caprese Salad and Jumbo Burger...Backyard alfresco dinning at it's best

Finally, summer has arrived and we have the pleasure of dinning alfresco on our back patio.  It's such a treat to sit in the outdoors, experience the smells of the pine trees and the rustle of the Aspen leaves while taking in the fresh mountain air. 

To beat the heat in the kitchen we've been grilling just about anything that moves. Delicious and simple fare that hits the spot every time!

Caprese salad is one of the easiest dishes to prepare and the flavor is always fresh and satisfying.  This recipe benefited from my ability to round up some pretty yummy tomatoes this week.  The past few years it's been difficult to find vine ripe tomatoes in the grocer, honestly, it's been close to impossible! The green house variety generally have no taste and there's nothing worse than eating a tomato that lacks in flavor. 

I recently purchased a bedding plant with tomatoes already on the vine in hopes of a tiny harvest this summer.  However, the deer that visit our yard daily may hinder that end.  

I used the freshest mozzarella I could find in the market but forgot to buy fresh basil.  I used dried instead.  Gasp!! It was a huge disappointment luckily, the salad didn't suffer too much dispute the lack of fresh basil.  However, I assure you... I'll be buying a basil plant on my next trip to the garden store to go with my other fresh kitchen herbs.

3-5 vine ripe tomatoes
1 pound fresh mozzarella
1 bunch fresh basil
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

slice tomatoes and cheese, alternate slices of tomato and cheese and top each with a fresh basil leaf, drizzle with olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.

I decided to try a new recipe for my Mojitos and added grilled pineapple mixed with fresh mango.  The smokey, caramelized pineapple was a delightful addition but the pulp kept getting stuck in my teeth causing me to get annoyed and taking away form the pleasure of the experience.  Next time I'll strain my pureed fruit before I mix it into my drink.

4 1/2 slices fresh pineapple, roasted
1 fresh mango
1 bunch mint leaves
juice 1 lime
1 cup simple syrup
6 ounces Brazilian Cachaca or Tequila
16 ounces soda water
bucket of ice

makes 4-6 ounce servings

Roast pineapple on hot grill until caramelized, cut in quarters, reserve 4 quarters for garnish, puree remaining pineapple, mint and juice of 1 lime. strain through a fine sieve

add 1/4 cup simple syrup to short highball glass, 3-5 mint leaves and muddle with the back of a spoon, add 1/4 cup puree mixture and ice, add Cachaca or tequila and cover with soda water, stir to combine

I used 90% grass feed beef and hand formed my hamburger patties.  Make sure to press a dent into the middle of the pattie prior to grilling to get an evenly cooked burger. 

Mix ground beef with a little sea salt, fresh ground black pepper, 2 teaspoons fresh thyme and 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce, top cooked burgers with Saga blue cheese crumbles and Maui onions then finished off with a fresh baked Kaiser roll. 

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

"Is Your Batter Better?" Fish & Chips Challenge

Once you've tasted the perfect Fish & Chips the flavors are burned into your flavor receptors forever! Then begins the insatiable desire for deep fried perfection and I can't stop thinking about eating them, until I dust off my Fry Daddy and cook up a batch!

I have a few good recipes for Fish & Chips but I still haven't found the perfect one. So, begins my quest to find the perfect Fish & Chips recipe.

I love eating the crispy, hot and succulent morsels of deep fried goodness but I still haven't found a batter that I can stick with for any length of time. Do you have what it takes to sooth my taste for the perfect Fish & Chips batter? Here's your chance to shine. It's time to link up your most famous Fish & Chips Recipes for the 2011 Fish & Chips Challenge!

Over the course of the next few months I'll prepare each entry and decide who's Batter is Better. The winner will receive bragging rights and a special winners badge to post on their blog. I can't wait to get into the kitchen to whip up your best recipes.

Is Your Batter Better?" Challenge 2011 is on!

Challenge rules include:
  • Link your favorite Fish & Chip recipes to this post, share the challenge badge on your blog, with a link back to my site. Over the next six months, I'll taste test each submission to see who's recipe reigns supreme!
  • Send a photo and your recipe to me at: rebeckaevans@comcast.net so I can post all of the entries at the end of the contest with links back to your sites.

  • Tell me all about your favorite family or restaurant recipe or one you've made using a famous chef's recipe. Share anecdotes or fond food memories about eating Fish & Chips, or even write a poem!

My favorite Fish & Chips recipe...thus far!

2 pounds frozen or fresh Cod, Halibut or Sea bass fillets
2 cups flour plus 1/2 cup for dusting
1 bottle Amber Beer
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
2 pounds large russet potatoes
1 gallon vegetable or peanut oil for deep fryer

I use either Cod Fillets, Halibut or Sea Bass when making Fish & Chips. Cod and Halibut are much more affordable for a large family or dinner party so I generally steer in that direction, but given the right amount of cash flow Sea Bass is my first choice.

Heat oil in a large deep fryer or other heavy sauce pan until oil smokes then lower heat slightly

Cut russet potatoes into shoe string slices using a mandolin or sharp knife, deep fry until golden brown, place in a 300 degree oven on a large baking sheet, Do Not Add Salt to the fries until ready to serve. Salt will make your fries limp and no one wants to eat a limp fry!

Rinse and dry fish fillets with a paper towel, season both sides with salt and pepper, set aside. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl, add 1 bottle beer, milk and egg and mix thoroughly, cut fish fillet's into 4-5 inch portions and dust dry fillet's in 1/2 cup flour.

Cook filet's in small batches (3 or 4 pieces). Using tongs, dip floured fillet's in batter and place in fryer, swish the each fillet in the hot oil for one second so they won't stick to the fry basket or bottom of sauce pan. Cook until golden brown.

Salt Chips and serve

My family can't agree on condiments so I serve my Fish & Chips with Ketchup, Malt Vinegar, Tarter and Cocktail Sauce, that way everyone is happy!

Tarter Sauce
1 cup Miracle Whip
1/4 cup Sweet Relish
salt and pepper to taste

Cocktail Sauce
1 cup Ketchup
1 tablespoon horseradish
1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce

Now it's your turn....I can't wait to taste your Fish & Chips

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Strawberry Angel Cakes

Strawberry Angel Cakes are beautiful, easy to make and delicious. 

This "no cook" recipe is perfect for  those hot summer days when you want to make a yummy dessert but you don't want to spend time baking in a hot kitchen.    

Another plus... these little angel cakes don't get soggy when individually wrapped in wax paper.  Make these sweet refreshing treats for an intimate picnic with your special someone or a picnic treat that will make the kids squeal.  

3/4 cups fresh strawberries
1/4 cup strawberry syrup
1-1/4 cup sugar
1 cup heavy whip cream
6 ounces Philadelphia Cream Cheese
1 loaf shape angel food cake ( other shaped angel cakes will work but are more difficult to obtain a uniform cut)


  • In a large colander wash strawberries in cold running water, pat dry with a paper towel or drain over a clean dish cloth, slice the berries and place them in a medium glass bowl and cover with 1 cup granulated sugar, mix well and cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate for 30 minutes. 

  • Whip the heavy whipping cream until hard peaks form and add 1/4 cup sugar, gently fold sugar in with a spoon, in another mixing bowl blend room temperature cream cheese until smooth and slightly fluffy, fold cream cheese into whipped cream, refrigerate until ready to use. 

  • Slice the angel food cake into 1 inch squares then cut each square in half.  Remove strawberries from refrigerator and toss in their own liquid.  Measure out 1/4 cup of the liquid and gently fold into whip cream mixture.

  • Spread a generous amount of the whip cream mixture onto both sides of the angel food cake, place sliced strawberries on top of the cream of one cake and cover with the other piece. 

These travel friendly Angel Cakes made it to my family picnic perfectly intact and were the highlight of the day!

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

COTS n QUATS Marmalade with Madagascar Vanilla Bean & Morbier Cheese


The bright orange skin of the kumquat is so inviting but with one taste your mouth will twist up into a pucker.  The tart pucker can be eased by adding sugar allowing the complex citrus flavor the perfect vehicle for consumption. In contrast, the soft almost furry skin of the apricot beacons me for a bite, revealing it's sweet tart flavor and juicy flesh. Apricots are filled with natural pectin and are perfect fruit for preserving.

These two distinct flavors sounded like a perfect pairing for a marmalade and since I'm in "canning mode" that's exactly what I decided to make.  I also wanted to add an element of surprise to my recipe so I incorporated the rich flavor of Madagascar Vanilla Bean and a touch of almond extract.   

Filled with inspiration from these fresh ingredients I rendered one of the most flavorful marmalade's in my canning history!  A mouthful of nectar fit for a king! 



2 cups kumquats sliced skin on, seeds removed
6 pounds fresh apricots (10 cups) cut into quarters, pits removed
4 cups sugar
1 Madagascar Vanilla Bean
1 teaspoon almond extract


In a large stock pot combine kumquats, apricots,  whole vanilla bean and sugar, stir to combine, cover and cook on medium heat until kumquats release their liquid about 15 minutes, remove lid and bring to a boil.  Skim foam from top of hot mixture, remove vanilla bean and split with a sharp knife, remove seeds by scraping a sharp knife inside seed pod, add all seeds to mixture and return seed pod to hot mixture; simmer uncovered for 30 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally.  Add almond extract and stir mixture vigorously with a metal spoon to break apart apricots, mixture will thicken naturally, do not add pectin.

Ladle hot mixture into prepared jars and cover with clean lids and rims.  Return sealed jars to a hot water bath and boil for 15 minutes, remove jars to a clean dry towel, rest jars until seals form, this can take 15 minutes to 24 hours (see instructions for jar preparation and how to create a proper seal)

The tart sweet flavor of this marmalade makes for a fabulous light picnic paired with Morbier cheese and crackers. French Morbier is from the eponymous town in the Jura Mountains, this raw cow's milk cheese is traditionally made from two milkings, an evening and a morning, separated by a layer of vegetable ash. Legend has it that Comté cheese-makers with extra curds at the end of each day sprinkled them with soot to protect their bounty from flies until they could add milk the following morning to complete a smaller wheel of cheese for personal consumption. Thus, Semi-Soft, pressed and uncooked cheese with pronounced aroma and hearty flavor, which is Morbier. Today the layer is one of vegetable ash, usually decorative, and the paste remains supple and sweet.(source, shopwiki.com)

A fine bottle of Proseco and sweet ice coffee accompanied my picnic.


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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Tart Cherry Pie

Tart Cherry Pie

This yummy pie recipe has a secret ingredient....with the addition of almond extract, what was once just a good piece of pie becomes an extraordinarily delicious slice of heaven!! 

First a confession before we start!  I used pre-made pie crust to make this recipe!  Gasp!  For all of my fellow foodies who are purest when it comes to making "homemade" pie crust, I'm sorry however, I can't feel too badly for choosing to use store bought because I think pre-made pie crust are fabulous!   There super easy to use, there's no mess and they taste delicious.  For this busy mom on the go... that is the perfect trifecta!


1 box pre-made refrigerated pie crust
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour
2 cans (16 ounces) pitted tart cherries, drained
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
3 tablespoons butter


  • Preheat oven 400 degrees
Prepare pie crust to manufactures directions, lay one pie shell into a 9 inch pie pan,   Mix sugar and flour, stir in drained cherries add almond extract and pour mixture into prepared pie crust. Dot the top of mixture with butter and cover with the remaining pie crust.  Pinch edges together with fingers to flute or use tines of a fork to press edges together to seal.  Cut 4 slits into the top crust to allow stem to escape.  Place a cookie sheet lined with foil below the pie to catch any spills.

Bake until golden brown, about 35-45 minutes.

This is the perfect slice of pie!  Enjoy♥

Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker Cook Book

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Wednesday, June 1, 2011



These lovely awards are from one of my most favorite food blogging friends, Joy from kitchen flavours.  Joy is from Malacca Malaysia and I met her through this crazy world of food blogging.  Joy is warm and generous and she can cook like a rock star!  Stop by and visit her lovely blog and while your there check out her other beautiful blog My Little Potted Garden.  Joy has a really big green thumb!  Thanks Joy for honoring me with all of these wonderful blog awards!! xoxo



Seven things about myself :
1. I'm much too serious these days....I need to lighten up!
2. I drink one or two cups of coffee a day...I think it keeps me young...lol!
3. I love to read but don't have the time to get through an entire book...therefore, I read cook books
4. My favorite foods are pretty much what ever you put in front of me...I like it all!
5. I'm addicted to food blogging, but you already knew that
6. My favorite mixed drink...Margarita(s) more than one if I have a D.D.
7. Wish I didn't have to work but happy to have a job!

I would like to pass on these lovely awards to the following fantastic blogs :

Joy has been one of my most ardent followers!  Thank you Joy for your loyalty, and support.  I know that living life and trying to do all the things we love, can get very busy.  I'm so honored that you have been my sweet Malaysian friend.  Thanks for sharing these awards with me♥
Anncoo Journal
Ann is stellar in the kitchen!  She knows her way around a mixing bowl especially when it comes to baking! Ann makes baking seem simple, even for me! I've tried many of her recipes and they've all been absolutely delicious
Liv Life  
Kim from Liv Life has always impressed me with her ability to take amazing photos of her food. I've
learned so much about food photography and food blogging just reading and studying her blog! Kim is also a master in the kitchen
Hoop is one of the most talented women I've met since I became a food blogger.  She is ingenious with her recipes, "How To" videos, and her amazing wit is unmatched.  Hoop is a blast, I wish we could get together and play!
My Sweet and Savory
The Comfy Cook always brings it home with her inspired dishes.   Talk about a lady on the move...she is the host of several very successful linky blog hops! 
Diabetes and Me
Carol Ann has the sweetest spirit!  Filled with positive energy and a plethora of fine dishes!  A true friend to the end!  xo
5 Star Foodie
Natasha, thinks outside the box when creating her dishes.  I always love to see what she'll be making next!
Adventures in the Ordinary
Jackie, is one of the most prolific, well read and inspired writers I've had the pleasure to meet!  Her stories are no where near ordinary!

Do visit these fantastic blogs, they are all truly wonderful!

To each of my featured blogger's...if you feel so inclined, please post this on your blog and share the 7 things about you and make a fellow blogger's days by sending them these lovely blog awards!  
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