Thursday, October 30, 2014

Grilled Salmon with Savory Miso Sauce

I just went back to Vietnam for the first time after leaving there 30 years ago. While waiting at Tokyo, Japan's airport for a connecting flight to go back to America, I had some time to walk around the airport to learn a little about the Japanese culture and paid special attention to their cuisine. As I especially noticed a little about their meals being served on the Nippon Airways flight home, I came to like them for the simplicity and healthy ingredients of each meal. Because of this experience, upon my return to America, I will do a few Japanese dishes to remind myself how wonderful and meaningful this trip was to me. The recipe below is for a simple dish that I enjoyed very much on the flight. So please try to create this dish with me.

Two 8 oz. salmon fillets, skin on
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper
2 tbs flour 
Sauce ingredients: 
2 tbs sake (Japanese rice wine)
1 tbs miso
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs mirin (Japanese sweet cooking wine)
1 tbs butter
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
Additional items:
Steamed vegetables, your choice
Cooked rice

Mix garlic, salt, black pepper, and flour together on a plate. Dredge both sides of each fish and set aside.
In a small mixing bowl, combine soy sauce, mirin, miso, and balsamic vinegar together and mix well (you might need a little water to dissolve the miso).
In a medium sauté pan or grilling pan over medium-high heat, add butter and a little oil. Wait until butter starts melting, then place fish with skin down. Grill fish for 3 minutes on each side. Remove and keep warm.
In the same pan, deglaze with sake. Pour all the sauce into the pan and bring to boil. Place fish onto a serving plate and pour sauce over fish. Serve with steamed vegetables of your choice and cooked rice.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Grilled Cod with Green Tomato Salsa

This recipe is another way to use up some of the green tomatoes that I have left at the end of this garden season. A simple marinade for fish and easy tomato salsa will make a wonderful complement to each other at the dinner table.

Two 6 oz. to 8 oz. cod fillets
Fish marinade ingredients:
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 juice of lime
2 tbs orange juice
3 tbs vermouth or sweet Marsala
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp honey
Ingredients for green tomato salsa:
2 large green tomatoes, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lime juice
1 jalapeno, chopped
1/2 cup sweet white onion
1/4 cup Italian dressing
2 green onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup sweet basil and cilantro, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil for grilling

Combine all the green tomato salsa ingredients in a non-metallic bowl. Mix well. Cover bowl with lid and let sit in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. This salsa is best if can be made a day before and keeps well for up to one week.

Combine all the ingredients for fish marinade and place cods into the marinade. Let sit for one hour.
Heat grill or a large nonstick pan with added olive oil. Grill each side of fish for 3 to 5 minutes or until fish is flaky or no longer transparent. Top each fish with tomato salsa. Serve.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Easy Chocolate Cookies

The cookie is part of many social events. It seems that  no matter what the occasion, there is always a tray of cookies. I find myself loving to bake cookies because they are easy to make. Especially, a batch of homemade cookies is an easy gift to give and well loved by the receiver regardless of age. The recipe here will result in cookies that are so fun to make.

Dry ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup chocolate chips
Wet ingredients:
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup coconut oil or butter softened to room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
Preheat the oven to 350°.
Mix all the dry ingredients, except the chocolate chips, in a bowl .
With a handheld electric mixer, beat both sugars, shortening, and coconut oil or butter in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, blending well. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and the chocolate chips to blend.
Use the smallest ice cream scoop to shape dough into 1 inch balls. Place balls 2 inches apart on ungreased cookies sheets.
Bake in the preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Grilled Tuna with Pan-Fried Tomato

I still have quite a lot of fresh tomatoes in the garden, so today I wanted to do a very simple dish yet with a touch of sophistication and quality nutrition for the body. This is a dish of tuna combined with ingredients that are available in my kitchen. This dish also addresses the issue of what to do with my very ripe tomatoes. Meaty, stomach-filling tuna will also be served and will please even the most demanding of tastes.
Two 8 oz. tuna fillets
4 tbs olive oil
Juice of one lemon or lime
1 tsp honey mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced 
1 tbs fresh thyme
1/2 tsp salt and black pepper
Ingredients for tomatoes:
2 medium tomatoes, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
2 tbs fresh parsley
2 tsp caper, chopped
1/4 cup green olives, sliced
2 tsp sun-dried tomato, chopped
In a non -metallic bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, mustard, thyme, salt and black pepper. Mix well and place tuna in to this mixture and marinate for one hour.
This dish can be finished on a stovetop using a grilling pan. Place grilling pan on the stovetop. Lift tuna from the marinade and place on the grilling pan. Cook each side for 4 minutes. Remove and keep warm.
In a same grilling pan, add about 1 tbs oil and cook the tomatoes for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Add the caper, green olives, sun-dried tomato, and the reserved marinade. 
Pour on top of the tuna and sprinkle with fresh parsley. Serve with crusty bread.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Red Rice, Quinoa, Chicken, and Mushroom Soup

Soup is a dish dubbed the comforting spirit for everyone when the dreary damp somber skies indicate autumn is coming. When enjoying soup, I always feel warm inside. Also, it is reminiscent of my childhood when I was sick. Soup was the dish that my mother always cooked for her children. However, another simple reason for cooking soup is to finish the rest of the excess kitchen food from the day before. Changing the flavor and adding fresh herbs and spices will make a very attractive new dish. Soup is indeed a heart warming dish for our tummies and gentle for our hearts.

2 cups roasted chicken (Costco brand)
1 cup cooked red rice , quinoa or both
5 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
2 tbs olive oil
1 cup chopped white onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups fresh mushrooms – any kind, such as shiitake or portabella
1 cup sliced celery
1 cup carrots 
1/2 cup fresh chopped marjoram, parsley, thyme, and sage
Salt and pepper to taste 

In a medium sauce pan, warm oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic, celery, and carrots and cook for 5 minutes.

Add mushroom and white wine (cook for 3 minutes).

Add broth and bring to boil. Add chicken, , cooked rice and fresh herbs.

Reduce heat to low and simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes .

Season with salt and pepper. Ladle soup in a serving bowl and sprinkle with more fresh herbs and enjoy.

 *Any leftover cooked rice or quinoa is suitable for this recipe.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Fruity Blueberry Tea Bread

One of my favorite snacks is tea bread or quick bread. This kind of bread is usually very easy to implement, and it does not even cost that much. Normally, tea bread will be served at breakfast or afternoon tea. I often make this snack for my family or friends who unexpectedly visit. They will appreciate when served this cake. So pick a simple recipe, such as for nut bread or fruit bread that I will today. I believe that tea bread will bring a pleasant feeling when done. The aroma while baking will make the kitchen feel cozy.
Dry ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbs baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
Wet ingredients:
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Zest of one orange
3/4 cup orange juice
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup vegetable oil, melted butter or melted coconut oil
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
Line the bottom of a 9” x 5” loaf pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking oil.
 Preheat oven to 350°.
Sift the dry ingredients together and make a well in the center. 

Combine the wet ingredients in a mixing bowl and pour into the well in the center of a bowl of dry ingredients.

 Use a whisk to mix them until well mixed (about 20 strokes). Add blueberries and use a spatula to mix the batter and fruit well.

 Pour the batter into the loaf pan.

 Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let bread cool for 20 minutes before slicing and serving.

Tilapia Simmered in Tomato Lemon Sauce

The feeling of being very pleased will occur when cooking dishes in the family kitchen. It is also spiritual food for women like me to cook, and I also experience this feeling when I prepare simple dishes, which provide sufficient nutrients that are needed daily. Thereby, I often encourage people to prepare dinner for the family instead of always buying take-out food or going to a restaurant on the way home from work. This autumn time when the weather starts to be chilly is also the time to clean up my small garden, which provides plenty of herbs and a significant amount of tomatoes. Therefore, I will now make a fish dish that is very familiar in any Italian restaurant. Even though this dish usually uses a mullet, I use tilapia instead because I do not have a mullet on hand. This dish is so easy to prepare and has a unique quality. Of course, if there are no fresh tomatoes available, canned tomatoes are acceptable. Let’s do some cooking now!


Two 8 oz. tilapia fillets or mullets 
Sauce ingredients:
1/2 lb. fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup white wine
1/4 cup chopped white onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbs olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp chili flakes
Fresh chopped parsley (1/4 cup)
1 small lemon, thinly sliced


Bring a small pot of water to boil. Add tomatoes and cook for a couple of minutes. Remove and let cool before peeling off the skins and roughly chopping.
In a medium heavy skillet, heat oil and stirfry onions, garlic, and chili flakes for a few minutes or until fragrant. Add chopped tomatoes and parsley and bring to simmer. Cook tomatoes for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper.
Add fish to tomato sauce in one layer and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add wine and lemon slices and bring sauce back to boil for 2 more minutes or until fish flakes easily with fork. Remove fish from the sauce and place onto a serving plate.
Cook sauce further to reduce it slightly and spoon sauce over fish and serve. I like to add some fresh basil on top.