Thursday, January 26, 2012

Brussels Sprout Salad

One evening at La Grande Orange Cafe in Pasadena, CA, we ordered their Brussels Sprout Salad.  There are very few recipes that I even think twice about replicating.  That is how much I adored this salad!  It quickly became one of my favorite salads of all time.  With a bit of searching, I found that LA Times had released the recipe.  Woo-hoo!! 

Culinary SOS
Courtesy of LA Times

Brussels sprout salad with mustard vinaigrette (Click on the link to LA Times FOOD)

I'm providing simpler instructions as to how I make my brussels sprout salad at home. 

Brussels sprout

Brussels sprout leaves

Brussels Sprouts Salad
Prep Time: 20 minutes          Cook Time: 3 minutes
Serves: 2
1 lb Brussels Sprouts
1/4 cup dried blueberries
1/4 cup walnut pieces
1 Tbsp light viniagrette salad dressing (of your choice)
*Note: This time, I used Goddess Dressing from Trader Joe's (a creamy, nutty, light dressing).

Separate the leaves of the brussels sprouts.

In a pot of boiling water, throw in the brussels sprouts' leaves.  Blanching should take about three minutes.

Drain the leaves and put on ice to stop the brussels sprouts' leaves from cooking longer.

In a large bowl, toss the brussels sprouts' leaves, 1/4 cup of blueberries, 1/4 cup of walnuts, manchego cheese (*If desired* Usually, I do not not have it in my refrigerator.), and a light salad dressing of your choice.  

There you have it!!  Since my first time making this wonderful brussels sprouts salad with a crunchy texture, it's been a staple in my home.  Once you taste it, you'll know why. 


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Chao Nian Gao (炒年糕)

For Chinese New Year's Dinner (January 23, 2012), I made several dishes.  The most traditional is to eat Chao Nian Gao for good luck because of increasing prosperity.  My previous post was about Nian Gao, the sweet dessert. Chao (炒) means to cook (or to stir fry).  Nian refers to the stickiness of the rice.  This type of  Nian Gao consists of oval slices of rice cake, commonly referred to as ovalettes.  The closest thing that Nian Gao can be described as is Chinese gnocchi.  These bags can be found in the refrigerated or frozen section in Chinese or Korean Supermarkets. 

My Chao Nian Gao is less oily and less salty than that of Chinese Restaurants.
This is the advantage to cooking at home.  (You can vary the vegetables and meat. Usually, it is made with mustard greens and shredded pork but I like to use cabbage. Some people like their nian gao with fish cake or dried shrimp instead of pork.)

Chao Nian Gao
Prep Time: 30 minutes          Cook Time: 15 minutes
24 ounce bag of Nian Gao (Oval Rice Cakes)
8 pieces of Napa Cabbage (roughly)
5 shittake mushrooms (5 - 8)
6 ounce bamboo shoots
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp cooking wine
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp minced ginger
1/2 lb of ground pork
1 tsp sesame oil (or oil of your choice)
1/4 cup of chicken broth
fresh ground pepper
white pepper

Soak the oval rice cakes for at least two hours by placing it into a bowl with water.  (If you buy it from the refrigerated section, there is no need to soak them.)

Meanwhile, wash your vegetables.  Slice your napa cabbage, shittake mushrooms, and bamboo shoots.  Set aside.

In a separate bowl, mix the following:  2 tsp soy sauce, 2 tsp cooking wine, 1 tsp sugar, and some fresh ground pepper.  This will be the marinade for the ground pork.  Next, put the ground pork and marinade together.  Mix well.  Keep the pork in the marinade for about twenty minutes.

In a huge frying pan (on medium heat), heat about 1 tsp of sesame oil.  Toss in the minced ginger to lightly brown.  Empty to bowl of ground pork in marinade into the pan. Cook the ground pork.

Once the ground pork is cooked, add the big bowl of vegetables (Napa Cabbage, shittake mushrooms, bamboo shoots) into the pan.  Keep mixing the ground pork with the vegetables.  Drain the oval rice cakes.  Add the oval rice cakes to the pan with a fourth cup of chicken broth.  Sprinkle white pepper to taste.  Stir fry everything together.  It takes approximately five minutes to stir fry the oval rice cakes al dente.  It should be soft but not mushy similar to cooking pasta.

ENJOY!!!  =)

Tip:  I like to add hot sauce (Yank Sing Chili Pepper Sauce) to my Chao Nian Gao.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Happy Year of the Dragon 2012!!! =D


May the Year of the Dragon bring LUCK, PROSPERITY,  and GOOD HEALTH to you and yours.

These daffodils from my backyard only bloom once a year during Lunar year.  I potted it as a gift.

A traditional dessert is sweet rice cake (nian gao).  I plan to make my own in the future but this time we were gifted Red Bean Nian Gao.  It has a soft, chewy consistency.  You could either microwave it for one minute (covered) or pan fry it (directions below).  I sliced them into rectangular pieces of about 3/4 inches in height.

How to Pan-Fry Nian Gao (Dessert): 
-- with two eggs and rectangular pieces of sweet nian gao

Whisk two eggs in a separate bowl.  As a little girl, I was taught to whisk by using my chopsticks in a vertical circular motion.  Dip each rectangular piece into the egg wash.  Make sure you flip it over so that both sides have the egg wash.  It's similar to how french toast is made.

Place a frying pan on medium heat.  Put a couple pieces in the pan carefully so that none of the other pieces touch.  Cover with a lid.  Cook three minutes per side.  Serve immediately.

ENJOY!!!  =D

There will be egg wash left.  I would recommend making french toast with it by adding 1/2 cup of milk, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon to the egg wash.  Dip bread and pan fry as per the directions above.  (Or you can cook the egg wash as scrambled eggs in a pan.)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Grilled Cheese

Ages ago back in college during my freshman year, one of my floormates taught me how to make a grilled cheese sandwich.  Until then I did not even think about how I had never actually consumed one.  My discovery of this delicious, fast, and cheap meal is still one of the staples in my kitchen.  Simple grilled cheese sandwich consists of two slices of bread, a slice of cheese, and some butter. 

Over the years, my grilled cheese sandwich has evolved but it is still simple.  My version of the the classic tastes like the crunchy cheese bread that I used to eat as a kid at Sizzler’s Restaurants. 

Parmesan Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Prep Time: 5 minutes                    Cook Time: 6 minutes
2 Slices of Bread (I prefer Wheat)
1 Slice of Cheese (I used Jalapeno Pepper Jack Cheese)
Some Butter
Parmesan Cheese (Grated)

Lightly butter one side of each slice of bread.  Sprinkle parmesan cheese onto the buttered bread using your fingers to gently pat the parmesan cheese to make sure it sticks to the bread.  Assemble the sandwich by placing a slice of the bread buttered side down.  Continue by placing the cheese on top.  Then put the slice of bread plain side down.  The buttered side of the slice of bread should be on the outside. 

Put a nonstick frying pan on the stove.  Place the sandwich in the pan on low to medium heat.  After about three minutes, a crispy layer should form.  Flip the sandwich so that the other buttered side is down. 

If you have a panini press or a George Foreman Grill, you can substitute the pan for the press.  Once you press the sandwich between the two grill plates, both buttered sides of bread grill at the same time.  This will save you half the grilling time.

ENJOY!!!  =)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Greetings from Purple Penguin Eats!!!

HAPPY 2012!!! 

This is just one of my many passions in life: FOOD.  I enjoy tasting new flavors and interesting combinations whereever I go.

Thanks for visiting.  Stay tuned...