Saturday, August 7, 2010

Back in The Saddle Again!

Sorry for the long hiatus folks, It's been crazy in the Cookin'Mama household for many weeks! Maintaining a household, running two totally separate businesses and chasing a baby around is omega work! So showing of my cooking prowess (or lack there of sometimes) had taken a wayyy back seat. Add to the fact that it took the movers FOREVER to deliver my kitchen, and you see where cooking get slowed down tremendously! For weeks I had to make due with just 2 or 3 pots to cook in. I have been in culinary hell I tell you! No Wolfgang Puck in sight, I made due with whatever we managed to find at the supermarket.

Long story short is...I'm back and I hope you are as well!

From My Kitchen to Yours.....Let's get cooking...(again)!

Japan Mom!

That's the latest name I have been given by my family..and it's all because of my latest exploits in the Daidokoro (台所;lit. "kitchen")! Let me give you some background......

I'm an avid lover of Asian food, seriously...I can't get enough of it. From Thai to Japan, it's all scrumptious to me. Sometimes I wish I could travel around like Andrew Zimmern! He has the most amazing job! So anyway....a few days ago I brought home some California rolls from the supermarket to have for lunch (I know...ewww! but in my defense this supermarket had a sushi chef station.. ok). Well after the family devoured the rolls, my husband teased me by saying "wow babe, these rolls are good....too bad you can't make these"........................If you know me....or even of me, then you know telling me I can't do something only makes me mad, and then I just have to achieve whatever you said I couldn't do....('s an Aries thing & yeah..I get tricked into doing tons of So I huffed and puffed how he was wrong and how I could cook anything if given the proper materials. Well... He quickly fired back about my long unused makisu (巻き簾) is a mat woven from bamboo and cotton string) & and other Asian cookware laying dormant in their respective boxes. 

Well what do you think I said??? I backed down and vowed to make his favorite rolls! It took me an hour to find the local Japanese supermarket around here...but I lucked out, and found this truly amazing spot! It had everything I needed and more to chump him..^_^. I should have took pictures of this place just like I did in Koreatown in NYC. But I'll leave that for another time.

Fast forward to crunch time....

Here's what you need..............This is the recipe I followed

Ingredients for 5 California Rolls [40 pieces]: 

1 English Cucumber - remove seeds and cut into strip - 10 cm long and 1/2 cm thick [leave the skin on... looks great in your roll]
200g Imitation Crab Sticks - Oosaki brand is our preferred choice - North American product should be squeezed to remove excess water
2 Avocados - Haas is the best - not to ripe [buy them green/hard and wrap in newspaper for 24 hours] peel and cut into wedges
5 Half sheets of Nori - Takaokaya Gold and Yamamotoyama Gold are excellent - Full sheets are to be halved width-wise by folding and then carefully pulling the sheet apart
50g Toasted Sesame Seeds - Buy Black and White for a decorative touch
50g Tobiko [flying fish roe] - You may use Masago but tobiko is a superior product - pick a color... a good Japanese food store will offer many colors. Our shop has red, orange, green wasabi, black, and gold.
Tezu Prepare a small bowl of water mixed with a small amount of unsweetened Rice Vinegar for moistening your finger tips [not your whole hands... we try to only use our fingertips!]
Wasabi and Japanese Mayonnaise [Optional Ingredients - QP is the best]
Let's Get Started
Place a sheet of cellophane wrap - same size as your rolling mat on your sudare [bamboo rolling mat]. Cool your hands down under a cold running water tap and dry your hands [cold hands will sweat less and stick less to your rice].

Dip your fingers in your Tezu and wave your hands to remove excess water. Take some rice with your finger tips [10 cm round ball]. Place the rice ball in the center of the wrap and gently distribute the rice the width of your nori sheet and 5 cm longer then then your sheet of seaweed. Don't work your rice too much [if you smash your rice grains you are pressing too hard].

Center your nori sheet on the sheet of rice. You may now fill your roll.

Almost Ready
Place a row of avocado wedges length-wise in the center of your nori sheet. Your nori should cover the entire rice sheet side to side and towards you. The extra 5 cm rice should be open along width-wise away from you [leave some room on the sides of your nori so the filling doesn't get squeezed out].

Put the cucumber strips alongside your avocado and do likewise with your crab sticks. Lay a strip of Japanese mayonnaise and/or wasabi.

Start To Roll
Roll the side nearest you to form a center core of ingredients surrounded by nori [there should be that 5 cm band of rice left after your nori].

Pull out you wrap at the end of your roll and overlap your ingredients roll over the last band of rice. By pulling and lightly squeezing your mat, form your roll circular or triangular-wise [gently hold your ingredient in on the ends while manipulating your roll].

Gently set your roll to the side and spread sesame seeds and/or tobiko on your cellophane wrap with your mat underneath. Re-position your roll on the cellophane and gently re-form your roll to embed slightly your outside ingredients. Carefully move your mat to one end of your roll to shape the end of your roll [a small amount of your ingredients squeezed out is normal... too much means your squeezing too much].

Cut & Serve
Cut your roll into 8 pieces. Your knife must be very sharp [a Yanagiba sushi knife is ideal... it is available in our online store].

Place the tip of your knife into your bowl of Tezu. Invert your knife to a vertical position and tap the butt end of your knife and let the water flow along the blade to the tip. This will insure that your rice does not stick to your knife. Place your roll on a cutting board and cut your roll in half [leave the cellophane on!].

Halve your pieces again and once more and remove the cellophane wrap and voila! 8 delicious California rolls.

This was soo much fun to make! Here are some things I left out.....
-I didnt use the Toasted Sesame Seeds
-I used tenzu on my palm as well as my fingers.....that rice is sticky!!
- I also used some tomago [たまご] egg in mine.
To complete the meal I added some from frozen gyoza and shumai...oh yeah...and some red bean Ice cream! Next time I'll make the shumai from scratch too!

All in all this meal was deemed a huge success by my family. Guess I have to keep making the rolls until I run out of ingredients!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Salvadoran Cabbage salad & Pupusa Take 2

Success taste good......yum!

A week and a half or so ago I dived in to remake the pupusa dish that was a moderate success. I finally have a method that works for me. To get them perfectly round I decided to press out the dough balls with two sheets of wax paper and the bottom of a coffee can. Crude I know.....but they were perfectly shaped, and that was the end result I was looking for. I also switched up the cheese to use a combination of mozzarella and the fresh cheese (Quesillo). That combination was very good, and melted like a dream. Best of all, I made the oh so important CURTIDO!

Putting this little "salad" together was easier than I thought

Here's what you need.....

  • Cabbage, shredded -- 1/2 head
  • 1 handful of peeled baby carrots,  grated.
  • 3 Scallions, minced 
  • White vinegar -- 1/2 cup
  • Water -- 1/2 cup
  • 1 Jalapeño pepper, minced
  • Salt -- 1/2 teaspoon
"Cook" it up.....

Place the cabbage and carrots in a large heat-proof bowl. Pour boiling water into the bowl to cover the cabbage and carrots and set aside for about 5 minutes. Drain in a colander, pressing out all remaining  liquid.

Return the cabbage to the bowl and toss with the remaining of the ingredients. Let set at room temperature for a couple hours if you like. Then chill and enjoy with some pupusas or other dish like it did!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Burnin' non Concernin' ~ Jerk Chicken!

Alright let's heat things up!

I recently got in on a good deal on some chicken at my local market. The price per pound was phenomenal so I snapped up more than my fair share. What to do with so much bird you ask???  Well I turned to my spice cabinet for some ideas....and it came to me!

Jerk it of course!!!!

What you need.........

  • 1 Tbl. ground allspice
  • 1 Tbl. ground thyme
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground sage
  • 3/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. minced ginger
  • 2 Tbls. fresh garlic (crushed)
  • 1 Tbls. brown sugar or molasses
  • 1/4 Cup. Soy sauce
  • 1/4 Cup. dark rum (optional, but encouraged)
  • 3/4 Cup. white vinegar
  • 1/2 Cup. orange juice
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 Scotch bonnet peppers
  • 3 green onions, diced
  • 1 Cup. white onion, diced
  • a few pounds of chicken thighs and drumsticks (I skinned mine).
* (or just get some GOOD pre-made jerk paste in a jar to save yourself time)

Wait a while!..................

Put all the ingredients in a blender until smooth.
Put chicken in a large freezer bag and pour in spice blend. Place in a bowl to make sure there isn't any leakage and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, but up to a day is preferable.

Cook it up!!!...............................
Preheat oven to 350 degrees or grill. If using an oven, place chicken in a roasting pan and roast until cooked through (about 45 minutes) flipping once halfway through the process.

I served this with some white rice and white beans......yum!

The dish was met with enthusiasm but proved too hot for The man of the house! LOL!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Delicious Discs

Ok, Last year I had the pleasure of eating out at this El Salvadorian restaurant that I had been taken to before, but didn't remember. They served up some very yummy dishes and I wished I knew how to make them. Well one of those things were called pupusa. What exactly are "pupusa" you may be asking...??
Pupusas are thick masa harina "cakes" stuffed with cheese or meat. They are very popular in El Salvador. They are made with "Masa harina". It'sdifferent from corn flour in that it is made with ground homily which has been said to be more nutritious than regular corn flour.
This is usually served with something called curtido. I HAVE to learn to make this! It taste sooooo good with the pupusa! Anywho.....This is my first crack at making them. I made the mistake of using cuajada cheese (thanks know who you are!!). Not a good idea, melting is an issue, soooo I think it should be made with Quesillo (or maybe jack??). Well here is the recipe. It was a fair success if you dont mind the un-melted cheese lol!!

What you need...........
  • 2 cups Masa Harina 
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup chopped up cheese

Cook it up.......

Stir the masa harina and water together in a mixing bowl until smooth; knead well. Cover bowl, and let the dough rest 5 to 10 minutes. Shape the dough into eight, 2 inch diameter balls.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out each ball into 6 inch diameter round. Sprinkle 1/4 cup queso fresco over each round. Place a second tortilla over the cheese, and pinch the edges together to seal in the cheese (use a little water to help the seal).
Heat ungreased skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until cheese melts (UNLIKE MINE :-) and pupusas are lightly browned, about 2 minutes on each side.
Eat & Enjoy!

Side note......I made mine with a side of fried batata. YUM!!!!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Quick Fix - Chicken & lime

Lately I have not made anything that I feel I want to add to my blog of cooking However, I do think I am going to include a post of quick fixes every now and then. Quick Fixes are not accomplishments in the kitchen by any stretch of the imagination, but are the every day meals that you just so happen to throw together and it turns out yummy and note worthy. So is my first blog on....................


What you need....
  • one or two pounds chicken breast(boneless and skinless if you have it)
  • two large onions (julienned)
  • one medium green pepper (julienned)
  • one large red pepper (julienned)
  • one small can of tomato sauce
  • half of a large lime (juiced then sliced up)
  • 1/4 cup of red vinegar
  • 1/2cup of cilantro
  • 1 tbs of adobo
  • 1 package of Sazón with Coriander and Annatto

Cook it up..........!

In a large deep skillet add 2tbs spoon oil and sauté chicken on medium heat until white. Add the veggies and seasonings (vinegar & lime juice w lime slices too) along with an additional tbs of oil. Turn heat down to low and continue to cook until the veggies are tender.

Thats it! you're all done. serve with crusty bread or favorite is basmati rice!

Nothing super or awesome...just a quick good meal!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bunny Love - Carrot Cake

Welcome back to my sweet-tooth cafe!

Spring is here, and so are the fruits and veggies of the season! Therefore I've decided to make a cake.....more specifically A CARROT CAKE! YUMMM!

This used to be my mom's most favorite cake. It was like her kryptonite, I remember walking into this store in Manhattan with my mom and sister once, there over on the counter.... she saw her favorite little square cake sitting all wrapped up in plastic and ready to eat. She promptly purchased that and I think some double mint gum. When we stepped outside she gave me and my sister a piece of the sweet carroty goodness......It's been my favorite ever since.

I had been craving this yummy treat for the longest it is, my version....enjoy!

What you need............
  • 3 extra large eggs
  • 3/4 cup melted butter
  • 2/4 cups olive oil
  • 1 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cups brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 Cups Soft a Silk or Swan’s Down Cake Flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 Cups Raw Shredded Carrot
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup crushed pineapples (drained)
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 package or 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 small peach - cut into slices
  • 1 small plum - cut into slices
Cook it up!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and lightly flour whatever size pan you are using.

In a large container, beat together eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla. Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir in carrots. Fold in walnuts. Pour into pan.Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Make your frosting (or buy some...but. I enjoyed making mine today!)

In a medium container, combine butter, cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Frost the cake once it is completely cool.

*If you tend to burn the edges like I do..Just trim the cake.
*decorate with your plum and peach slices!

ENJOY!! I know I will!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Black-out shrimp scampi

It's scary, it's frightful...... But I'm still cooking up something oh so delightful!

That's right folks I'm one of the lucky 80,000 ConEdison customers that don't have power in their homes due to the crazy storm that blew in Friday night. It's day two of the blackout and I'm beyond angry. My food is spoiling in the fridge, so I have decided to cook whatever I can rather than let it go to waste. Cooking in an almost pitch black house is no easy feat, and eating out was no option due to the high winds and soaking rains. I'm a mommy of two boys and one infant girl so there was no way I was getting in the car and chancing getting into an accident. Sooooooo I gathered up the remaining food worth saving and here is the most note worthy recipe. I was saving this shrimp for more pad Thai, but oh well. Sorry the pictures are bad..... They were taken in a blackout effected kitchen after all.

What you need.....

About 20 large shrimp
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup olive oil
6-8 cloves of garlic (minced)
2 stalks scalions ( chopped)
1 tbl spoon lemon herb seasoning
4 slices of lemon.
1 or 2 pinches of dried parsley

Cook it up!

Rinse shrimp (peel, and devein if necessary) and set aside. Heat butter and olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Cook garlic 1 or 2 minutes or until softened but not browned. Add shrimp, green onions, and lemon herb seasoning. cook until shrimp are pink and firm, about 3 to 4 minutes. Do not overcook.

Add chopped parsley and salt and pepper before serving. Garnish with lemon slices and cilantro sprigs.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My Super Fresh Tomatillo Pow!

How I love thee........

I honestly love this awesome green sauce!! I began making this when I first started making Mexican style tacos at home. Now I think I will make this and keep some in the freezer to put on just about everything. Lately I have been tweaking the recipe, and this is the final result......I think =^_^ least until I think of something else yummy that "just hasssss to be thrown in"! If you decide to give this sauce a go, then don't be affraid to do a little "tweaking of your I type I just added some sour cream & cotija cheese for a spicy, creamy, fresh tasting treat!

Tomatillo Pow

What you need.......
  • 2 large tomatillos, husks removed, washed, and quartered
  • 1 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup of cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons of vinegar
  • 2 small habanero or scotch bonnet peppers
  • a dash of salt
  • 1/2 of an avocado
  • 1/2 red tomato (you can leave this out if you like)
  • 1/2 large white onion (I like red if I remember to buy them)
  • a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Cook it up.......

Well there is no "cooking" involved...........but the next step is to toss all of these ingredients into a blender (I used my new awesome Wolfgang Puck immersion blender ^_^) and process to a smooth consistency.

All done! enjoy over some homemade tacos or whatever else you think of.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Spicy Chicken & Shrimp Pad Thai!


Another one of my favorite dishes to order when enjoying the occasional nice lunch out in the city! It's not too hard to make and will earn you fantastic reviews from the young and old (it did for me ^_^). If you don't try anything else on my blog.......please make an exception for this gem! I promise you it's worth every second spent searching for the elusive tamarind paste!

"Sweet, sour and salty tastes all blend and balance in this traditional Thai favorite. The fruity-sour taste of tamarind is almost impossible to duplicate, and is worth searching for in Asian or Indian markets".

What you need………..

  • 2 Packages of rice noodles
  • 18 shrimp large, shelled and de-veined
  • 1 ½ chicken breast sliced into thin strips
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup bean sprouts
  • ½ cup chopped scallions (I used a green pepper/onion mix...I forgot the scallions at the store :-( oh well)
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • ¼ cup unsalted peanuts, chopped
  • 1 medium sliced lime
  • 4 tablespoons Huy Fong Chili Sauce*
  • (2 cups prepared pad Thai sauce)* see below...

Make Thai sauce by combining the ingredients below (to taste) in a small sauce pan, bring to a boil then set aside.

½ cup palm (or regular) sugar
½ cup fish sauce
½ cup tamarind paste or concentrate
1 tbs. rice vinegar
2 tbs. vegetable oil
½ tbs. garlic, minced

Cook it up…….

Soak rice noodles in hot water for about 20 – 30 minutes or until soft. Drain and set aside.
In a bow

Heat oil in a wok, sir fry chicken until it turns white and is cooked through. Remove and set aside. Add shrimp to the wok, cook until shrimp is pink, remove and set aside. Clean out wok, reheat, then add 1 tablespoon oil, and scramble the eggs for about 1 minute, then add the noodles, chicken, shrimp, bean sprouts, scallions, cilantro, and sauce.

Stir-fry all ingredients until well cooked and combined. Serve with, peanuts sprinkled over the top, with Huy Fong chill sauce, fresh cilantro and lime wedges as garnishes.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Take-out - of the freezer 2

Ok, here is more of the yummy frozen Ambrose-like treats I got from K-Town. Super good and just as awesome as the gyoza.

It's shumai heaven! anytime I want. I'm going back downtown tomorrow in the early am to grab more. =^_^=

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Take-out - of the freezer

Good things.....

Some times.....Just sometimes super tasty things CAN come out of the freezer case. This is one of those oh so special times! On a recent trip to Korea Town, I picked up a few things that I usually have at the sushi restaurant, one of which happens to be gyoza. I had my doubts about this product.....about how tasty frozen dumplings could be...about if the sauce I picked up would even come close to what they serve at the restaurant....about how maybe ...just maybe this packaged stuff was aimed at us poor saps who can't get enough of everything they serve in the sushi place nor can recreate it on our own... at home.

Repudiating those thoughts, I shout loudly and sing the praises of gyoza from the freezer and the "spot on" sauce that is sold in a bottle,....that I'm sure the sushi place has a huge one of in the back cellar!

This "Cookin' Mama" didn't make this....but I sure ate it!! LOL

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Chicken & Broccoli Bam!

With this dish I officially declare the opening of Valles Garden!.....or Mom foo's as the kiddos call it! LOL!

Here is my (I must say AWESOME) version of one of my favorite Chinese dishes! Thanks to my recent shopping trip, I finally have the ingredients to make it.

What you need

• 1½ lb chicken breast (skinned & DE-boned)
• 2 medium eggs (whites only)
• 1 tablespoon cornstarch
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• ½ cup oyster sauce (or more if you like)
• 2 tablespoons regular soy sauce
• 1 tablespoon water
• 1 pound broccoli (I use florets or baby)
• Salt
• 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
• 4 garlic cloves
• 3 oz stir-fry oil
Cook it up!

Velvet the chicken.....
slice the chicken up into strips. Combine egg whites, 1 teaspoon corn starch, and two pinches of salt in a bowl....then add mixture to the chicken slices and store in a container with a tight fitting cover for 30 minutes. Next heat the wok to high and add 2oz of oil, stir fry chicken until it is white then promptly remove and place chicken on a plate or in a colander with paper towels to absorb moisture. Clean out the wok.

Place the broccoli in a microwave safe container, add ½ cup water and cook on high for 3 minutes (more or less depending on how firm you want your broccoli to be). drain and set aside.

Make the sauce by combining 2 tablespoons soy, oyster sauce, and water in a small bowl. In another small bowl, mix 2 teaspoons cornstarch and water.

Heat wok and add a few tablespoons of oil (more if needed). Add the broccoli and the velveted chicken, stirring and tossing to cook the chicken through. Add the sauce and cornstarch mixture, stir quickly to thicken. Mix everything together and serve hot rice.

All done!

*To add a spicy zip add a tiny dollop of Huy Fong chill sauce!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Lucky me!

With the thoughts of better homemade Asian fair in the back of my mind, An impromptu trip to K-Town (A strip of Korean stores & restaurants in Manhattan) turned into a super cool shopping trip!

When I walked into the little market I didn't expect to be visually assaulted by the humongous array of Asian food products! I'm sure some of you are wondering why I was so excited.......I mean it's just food right? Well for me it is exciting when I can walk into a market, and find Asian food other than soy sauce and ramen noodles! It's not like I live near a store that carries even 1/100th of what they had there so naturally I went nuts. I think I looked at everything they had in the store from pots to frozen pork patties, to dried anchovies and shitake mushrooms! they had it all........or maybe most of it..LOL!

On the list of goodies picked up by me were a few of my favorites! Shumai, red bean ice cream, gyoza and something else I can't remember without getting up and looking in the freezer..... :-p
Now with that said you know some super tasty food is coming your way soon!

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