Friday, September 21, 2012

Fresh Summer Rolls

Honestly, I was not planning to post this summer rolls, or fresh spring rolls whichever you like to call, but I make these rolls every summer whenever it gets too hot to cook. And the weather in L.A. hasn’t cool down a bit.
Traditionally, summer rolls has vermicelli noodles in the main ingredients. But whenever I make these summer rolls, I skip it. Because I think vermicelli noodles and rice paper wrappers are both the same carb, I just have to skip one, which is the carb from noodles. If I choose to skip the carb from rice paper, I wouldn’t be able to make summer rolls, right?

To make these rolls more fun to make is to keep it simple and use whatever you have “fresh and raw” to make the rolls. And when I say, “raw” I meant raw vegetables or fruit, not raw meats! As for the proteins, you can use leftover rotisserie chicken or turkey, cooked shrimp or crab meat, tofu or mushrooms (mushrooms are rich source proteins), or other cooked proteins that you want to impress yourself, friends, and family. For me, I love making these rolls the day after Thanksgiving since we always have lots of turkey leftovers, and I ‘d call it “Sissy Nui’s Leftover Rolls.” Haaaaaaaaaaa…… 

And for the sauce, you can go ahead calling me lazy because this store-bought Thai sweet chili sauce is so perfect for these summer rolls. Just add some ground peanuts and you are set. Remember, these are summer rolls. We make these when it’s too hot to cook. Why bother turning the stove on to make the dipping sauce?! Agree?

What you need:

8 sheets rice papers (plus for mistakes)
1/2 cup carrots - shredded or julienned
1 medium cucumber julienned
1/4 cup Thai basil leaves
1/2 cup bean sprouts washed
8 medium size cooked shrimp halved
Sweet Chili Sauce for dipping
2 cups lukewarm water
Sweet chili sauce for dipping
Ground peanuts 

so thin that you can see through!

How to:

- In the medium bowl, stir ground peanuts into sweet chili sauce for the dipping, set aside.
- Add 2 cups of lukewarm water into a shallow dish such as a glass pie pan which fit perfectly to the size of rice paper wrappers.
- One at a time, submerge the dried rice paper into the lukewarm water for about 10 seconds or until it become soft.
- Lift it up to drip off the water and lay it on the dry surface and blot out the excess water that may have left. I used the kitchen towel to dry out the water from the rice paper, but it has be rolled fast before the rice paper dry out. 
- Fill with the ingredients start a few of Thai basil leaves, 2 halved of shrimp, few slices cucumber, few shredded carrots, and few bean sprouts. Be careful not to pile on too much ingredients because it might be too difficult to roll.
- Start to roll with the nearest side to you to the middle up and gently tighten up. Pull the two ends to close and roll up outward to seal the roll. Place it on the plate and cover with a damp paper towel or plastic wrap to prevent dry. Repeat the steps with the remaining ingredients. 
- When serve, cut the middle of the roll diagonally to make they look neat and professional. Serve with Thai sweet chili and ground peanut sauce.

Enjoy and farewell Summer!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Fresh Fig & Toasted Almonds Pie

So, I made pie! The truth is that I am not a real baker but I find myself baking a lot lately. And this time I’m making a pie because we have so much of fresh figs that are ripening at the same time (we have 3 fig trees in our yard) and I have to find the ways to cook them after we’ve been giving out to friends, still those fig trees are loaded and have become so messy on the ground from the one that falls and the leftovers from the birds and squirrels that nobody teach them the manner to not making a mess when you are a guest.       hhmm….am I just rambling? But I’m glad that they are well fed because when the winter comes, they will be no worry about hungry, or do they?

Anyhow, this fresh fig pie is so easy to make because I use ready-to-use pie crust. Now that’s convenient! But you can go ahead call me lazy! Turn on the oven and let it works the magic for 40 minutes and it’s ready to enjoy!   If you notice, I only use 1 tablespoon of honey mixed with the fresh fig filling, because I think that figs are already sweet.  However, if you feel like you need more sweetness, not that you already are, you can drizzle some honey on top when serving. The floral hint of honey and citrus scents from orange zest give the gorgeous sweetness to the pie, which you can also top it with a dollop of whipped cream or Greek yogurt if you like, or serve the warm pie with vanilla ice cream…A la mode….ooohhh.....  that’s sound so gooood, isn’t?
Too bad I didn’t have vanilla ice cream with me at the moment!

What you need:

1 sheet Pillsbury ready-to-use pie crust
3 cups chopped fresh figs (peeled or unpeeled, I peeled them)
1 tbsp honey + more honey for drizzling on top
1 tbsp finely grated orange zest
1/2 cup finely ground toasted almond
5-6 medium fresh figs, cut crosswise, unpeeled

How to:

- Preheat the oven to 375’ F
- Prepare the pie crust according to the package
- Lay out the pie crust onto the 9-in pie pan and trim the edge, set aside
- In a medium bowl, mash chopped fresh figs with fork into small pieces, add 1 tablespoon honey and orange zest, and mix well
- Pour the mashed fresh figs filling into a pie crust and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the crust turns golden
- Remove the pie and spread the ground tasted almond evenly on top of the filling and let the pie cool down on the rack for 15 minutes
- Arrange cut fresh figs on top in concentric circle form lapping over one another, or as you like
- Cut and serve with a drizzle of honey, a dollop of whip cream or Greek yogurt, or with vanilla ice cream as desired.


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Watermelon n Ginger Slushy

OMG!     The weather in Los Angeles is up to three digits in some areas, and it’s September!   Can you believe that?     And some people think that is no such thing of global warming! How sad! Anyhow!

Watermelon is one of the hubby’s favorite fruit and he buys it one after another all summer long.  Sometimes, he complains how bad the watermelon tasted and not as sweet as it should be, still, he buys it all the times. Whenever the watermelon tastes like water and no melon, I often make slushy, like this one, with a dash of fresh ginger.   And you know what?   After big sips of this slushy that often giving me a brain freeze, I don’t even care. Because it makes my “hot as hell” goes away!


Watermelon and ginger is a mate made from heaven! They blend perfectly together when making a drink that provide a rich refreshing tastes that ginger helps in enhancing and bringing out the sweetness even when watermelon is not sweet. And you may already know that they are numerous health benefits of ginger, including reduce cough, cold, and sore throat; ease cramping in women during period; anti-inflammatory and helps muscles aches; reduce motion sickness; fight gall stones; and can help control cholesterol levels. See? I think that’s enough reasons why I include ginger to most of my dishes…and you should, too.


What you need: for 2 servings

2 cups chopped seedless watermelon
1 tbsp granulated sugar (more or less can adjust to your own)
1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
1 cup crushed ice

: Blend the entire ingredients together until smooth and frothy.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Yum-Kun-Chiang / Spicy Chinese Sausage Salad

Thai called Chinese style sweet sausage, “Kun-Chiang or Koon-Chiang.” I remembered eating this kind of sausage with hot jasmine rice porridge in the morning for breakfast before leaving for school. My dad would fry them in the hot oil until they slightly caramelized and crisped on the outside. The combinations of sweet, salty and fatty taste of fried Kun-Chiang were balanced out by plain steamed rice or rice porridge. He would cut into small pieces, and then we ate and were set off for school in the morning. It was only thing I knew about Kun-Chiang! 

When I grew up to adulthood, I discovered that Kun-Chiang could be used in many dishes including this one “Spicy Yum Kun Chiang,” the grownups version to eat with rice porridge, and cold beer! Aha…the grownups were so sneaky, weren’t they? I thought! 

Anyway, I still love a simple fried Kun-Chiang with just plain jasmine rice as my father used to make for me. It was the best! 

Since I moved to L.A., I remember buying Kun-Chiang and frying them once, but the hubby didn’t really care for its taste. So I stopped buying it.

Yesterday, I was craving for Yum Kun-Chiang, specifically, so here I was making this spicy yum eating by myself. But while I was eating it, the hubby wanted to try. 

Did you know what he said after he had a bite?   “hmmm…..this is so tasty. I’ve never had it like this before. Have you ever made this before?” 

“I grew up eating it in Thailand but you said you didn’t care for Kun-Chiang. So, nope! I’ve never made this yum for you.”  I responded. 

…………..and he just walked away with my plate in his hands!  Oh boy, what have I done! 

This dish is best for an appetizer with cold beer, as Thais say, but I’m not a beer drinker so any cold drinks would do. If you want to try making this dish, please keep in mind that this sausage is already sweet so sugar can be omitted for the dressing. The other ingredients such as chilies, fish sauce, lime juice, or rice vinegar can be adjusted more or less for your own preference. 

Mine was very spicylicious!

What you need:

4 links Chinese sausage
2 small cucumber, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup white or red onion, thinly sliced
1 small tomato, sliced
1 stalk celery, sliced
1/8 cup finely chopped celery leaves
1/2 cup thinly chopped lettuce leaves - optional

For the dressing:

2 tbsp Asian chili garlic sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
1 1/2 tbsp fresh lime juice

How to:

- Cok the Chinese sausage over the grill, as I did, or fry them slightly in the hot oil for a few minutes on both side over medium heat until the outside of sausage turn little brown and crisp. Let them cool down to handle and slice them diagonally about 1/4 inch thick

- In a large bowl, add sausage, cucumber, celery, celery leaves, onion, and tomato, set aside

- In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients for the dressing and pour onto the prepared salad bowl, gently toss them to blend the flavors - Serve over chopped lettuce bed as an appetizer or light lunch with you very cold drink, if preferred.


Friday, September 7, 2012

Cabbage Slaw with Peanut-Lime Dressing

I’ve made cabbage slaw as a side dish for many times with the usual dressing, without lime juice and peanuts. But this time I want to go beyond what I usually do with the additions of garlic, ginger, and lime juice which make this cabbage slaw more zingy, tangy, sweet, and sour at the same time. And the ground peanuts provide the creamy nutty taste making this slaw even yummier with the crunchy goodness. There was one thing I forgot to add into this slaw after I finished eating it was chili!   Notes to self that next time there will be some spicy in this slaw, I swear!
So, why not try something new with your own experimental. It’s fun!

*If you allergic to peanuts, use other nuts of your choice. 

For the slaw:

2 cups shredded cabbage
2 cups shredded red cabbage
1 cup shredded carrot
1/4 cup finely chopped green scallion
1/4 cup whole toasted unsalted peanuts 

For the dressing

3 tbsp rice vinegar
4 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp finely minced garlic
1 tbsp finely grated ginger
2 tbsp ground toasted unsalted peanuts
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp lime juice + zest 

How to:

- Combine shredded cabbage, carrot, and green scallion, except the toasted peanut, in a large mixing bowl
- Whisk the ingredients for the dressing until the sugar is dissolved.
- Pour the dressing over the veggies and gently toss them together to blend the flavors and serve with sprinkle of toasted peanut on top.


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Banana - Fresh Fig and Walnuts Muffins

There were reasons why I made these muffins, and I was so happy that I did.

Firstly, I was trying to use up 3 overripe bananas I kept in my refrigerator for 2 weeks.

Secondly, since we still have lots of figs, I wanted to put them in good uses after I’d been making lots of things with them already.

Thirdly, my mother-in-law was coming to visit; she loves figs; and she used to bake a lot! (…and?!?!)

And lastly, it’s to show off that I actually could bake (she’s never knew that)! Not that she cares if I could or not!

Now that you want to know what she’s said about my muffins……drum rolls please……
"It isn’t too sweet, which I like it!”
Whew!!!    (Well, I’m still thinking (and hoping) that was an honest compliment!)

However, I love these muffins. They turned out to be so moist and have just enough sweet that pair great with a cuppa coffee in the morning.  And when I checked on the ingredients in these muffins, banana and figs, cinnamon and walnuts, they are considered pretty healthy to boost up your morning’s energy, don’t you think?    I will use whole wheat flour next time though!

What you need:  make 12 muffins

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts + for toppings
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
5 tbsp melted unsalted butter
2 cups mashed ripe bananas (3 bananas)
5 small fresh figs cut into small pieces
Cinnamon sugar for toppings

How to:

- Preheat the oven to 350’F
- In a bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and chopped walnuts
- In another bowl, whisk together mashed banana, egg, vanilla extract, melted butter, and brown sugar
- Then stir in the dry ingredients and mix well
- Fill the batter half way through in each muffin cups, with the muffin paper liners if used, and add some cut fresh figs and then cover with the batter
- Sprinkle some cinnamon sugar on the top and broken walnuts pieces on each muffin
- Bake for 25 minutes until the muffins turn golden and the center come out clean - Let cool before removing the muffins


Monday, September 3, 2012

Fig Jam.....of course it is!

Fig season is normally started in September but our figs started to ripe early in late July. And by the middle of August with the extreme summer heat, our figs are almost done. With the fig trees loaded with figs, the hubby and I have been picking them almost every day and giving them out to our friends who love figs. Still, there are lots of figs keep falling down and making a mess on the ground. We even share some of them with little birds and squirrels that love to hang around in our backyard, but lots will be ripen and ready to pick until the end of September!


I am not really a fan of figs and the hubby is not crazy about it. But all these years we have learned to appreciate them more since we have 3 different varieties of fig trees in our backyard which we don't really know what they really are.   However, I have done some researches and as close as it gets, I believed we have Italian Black, Italian White and Celeste fig trees. 

According to Wikipedia – “Figs are one of the highest plant sources of calcium, fiber, copper, manganese, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and vitamin K, relative to human needs.” That sounds so awesome! Don’t you think?

Since we have endless of figs right now, I decided to make fig jam. YES, I’m making fig jam! I’ve never make fig jam before; I’ve never make any jams, period. And only jam I’ve ever liked to eat is orange marmalade. That's it! 

I was trying to make a jam that is not too sweet because I don’t like things that too sweet, opposite from the hubby. So, this fig jam was the compromise between the hubby and me so that we can both enjoy together without making funny faces. And the result? The hubby loves it! I love it (second to the orange marmalade, of course!). It tastes so great and has just the right amounts of sweetness spread perfectly on buttered toasted English muffins and waffles.…………..No wonder why I've been gaining weights!  Drat!   

What you need:

4 cups chopped fresh figs 
1 cups sugar 
3 tbsp honey 
3 tbsp lemon juice + zest 
1 tsp ground cinnamon 

How To:

- Combine everything in the medium pan over medium heat.
- Cook until the sugar is melted, then low the heat down to simmer for another 30-40 minutes or until the fruit is softened and the liquid is thickened. Stir occasionally to prevent burn in the bottom.
- Fill the jam into the sterilized jars and keep in the refrigerator 


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