Spring In A Bite

Spring is just around the corner and these are a perfect first bite of the season. I made them for a party and they held up perfectly. The stored ones for lunch got a little dry. I’d recommend making them fresh or try wrapping them with a damp towel if you’re storing them for tomorrow’s lunch. Enjoy!

Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce

  • 4-5 rice paper wraps (the circle ones that you have to rehydrate)
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • ½ hothouse cucumber, julienned
  • 2-3 carrots, julienned
  • ¼ head purple cabbage, very thinly sliced
  • 1/4 head napa cabbage, very thinly sliced
  • large handful baby spinach
  • Firm tofu (can be flavored) cut into 1/4″ strips
  • fresh cilantro, mint and basil
  • You could also add lobster or other meats and rice noodles if desired.

Peanut Sauce

  • ¼ cup creamy peanut butter
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1½ Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • juice of ½ lime
  1. Put all veggies and herb on a platter for eat assembly.
  2. Whisk together all Peanut Sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
  1. Fill a shallow bowl with warm water.
  1. Working one at a time, dip a rice paper wrap in warm water until it becomes just pliable, about 10 seconds. (You don’t want the wrapper to fully soften while you’re soaking it; it should still have structure when you pull it from the water and will continue to soften while you apply fillings.)
  2. Lay wrapper flat on a large clean surface and arrange a small amount of each topping in the center of the bottom-third, beginning with spinach and striving to keep the pokier ingredients (peppers, cucumbers, cabbage, carrots) last, where they will be more protected within the roll.
  3. Gently bring the bottom of the wrapper up over the ingredients, completing at least one full roll before folding in the left and right sides; continue to roll until fully wrapped. (Roll should be somewhat snug — and yes, it takes a couple of tries to get it right.) Set aside and repeat until all fillings have been used.
  4. Serve rolls whole or sliced in half (for presentation purposes only) with Peanut Sauce on the side.
  5. Enjoy!

Holy QUESO, Batman!!

Stop what you’re doing and make this NOW! Make it as a weekend snack. Serve it with margaritas. Bring it to your friends’ house in a fondue pot and be forever more, the most invited person to every eating event ever.

I love you, homesicktexan.com for this recipe – like love love!

Best Queso Ever (Bob Armstrong Dip)

Ingredients for the taco meat:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 bell pepper. seeded and diced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Pinch of cayenne

Ingredients for the chile con queso:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 pound American cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, diced
  • Salt
  • Sour cream and guacamole for garnishing
  • Tortilla chips, for serving

Instructions

  1. To make the taco meat, in a large skillet heat the oil on medium-low heat and add the bell pepper, jalapeño, and onion. While stirring occasionally, cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 more seconds.
  2. Add the ground beef to the skillet, along with the cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Stir until everything is well combined and then cook the ground beef for 15 more minutes, or until browned. Taste and adjust seasonings. Turn off the heat and drain any excess grease.
  3. To make the queso, in a saucepot heat the oil on medium-low heat and add the jalapeño and onion. While stirring occasionally, cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 more seconds.
  4. Leaving on the heat, stir in the cumin, black pepper, and cornstarch until the dry ingredients are well combined with the vegetables. Pour in the chicken broth and while stirring cook until the sauce has thickened, which should happen in a couple of minutes.
  5. Turn the heat down to low and working in batches, slowly stir in a handful of the cheese. After it’s melted into the sauce, repeat the process until all the cheese is added. Stir in the tomatoes, adjust seasonings, and add salt to taste.
  6. This makes a lot of queso. To keep it hot and reduce the “skin” from forming, serve in a fondue pot. To assemble, layer along the bottom of the dish the taco meat, then pour in the queso and then top with the guacamole and sour cream. Serve warm with chips

Strawberry and Rhubarb Jam

Ok, ok. I know. It’s not the season but I’ve been really delinquent in posting and really need to archive this recipe. It’s so damn good! Seriously. Mark this one for next Summer’s jam making extravaganza.

Summer Jam

Strawberry and Rhubarb Jam

Ingredients
  • 3 cups fresh strawberries (chopped)
  • 1 cup rhubarb (roughly 1 stalk) (chopped)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Place a small dish into the freezer to use for testing the jam.

In a large deep skillet, add strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, and lemon juice. Heat and stir until it reaches a rolling boil. Boil and stir until it thickens, 10 minutes. When it seems like it is gelling, take your plate out of the freezer. Put a small spoonful of the jam onto the plate and let sit for 30 seconds. Tilt it. If it slides too fast, keep cooking. If it moves slow, it is done. Test every minute or two and do not overcook it. Spoon into heat-proof container and cool to room temperature. Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. I froze some and am still loving the fruits of a quick Summer’s bounty boil.

To can jam:
  1. Wash one 8-ounce (or 6-ounce + 2-ounce) glass mason jar with a two-piece lid with soap and hot water. Dry completely.
  2. Add the jar(s) and lid pieces to a large pot of boiling water deep enough for the jar(s) to be completely submerged in water. Once the water is boiling, leave the jar(s) in there until ready to use.
  3. Remove the jar(s) and lids from water and drain out all of the water from the jar. Keep the water boiling. Spoon the jam into the jar(s). Wipe excess jam off the rim of the jar(s) so it will seal properly. Add the lid. You may want to use an oven mitt so you can hold the jar(s) still.
  4. Place sealed jar(s) back into the boiling water and boil for 15 minutes. Make sure it is submerged in the water. Remove from the water and let dry on a heat-resistant surface for 18-24 hours. Once cool, press down on the lid. If it stays down, it is sealed. If it pops back up, put in the refrigerator and use within two weeks.

Shrimp Ceviche

After living on the islands for two weeks, I came home a pescaderian. Not really but I feel so good when I eat fish. And I was craving something summery and fresh. Sooo, why not try ceviche?

Note: this being my first time cooking with lime and shrimp, the shrimp don’t necessarily turn pink like when you cook them in the pan. I waited and waited and waited for them to turn pink and it never happened. They were cooked after about 20 mins. But I waited like 5 hours. Ha!

20140627-171823.jpg

Shrimp Ceviche

* 1/2 lb prawns, shelled and deveined and cut into 3-4 pieces
* 2 limes (squeezed to make 1/2 cup lime juice)
* 1 lime to squeeze at the end
* 1 celery stalk diced
* 1 ripe avocado cut into 1″ cubes
* 1 red or orange bell pepper, cut into cubes
* 2 TBSP chopped cilantro
* 1/2 jalapeño diced
* pinch of salt

Put shrimp and lime juice in a non-reactive bowl (basically a glass one) and put in fridge for ~ 20 minutes. The shrimp will be firm when done.

Drain lime juice and mix shrimp with other veggies. Squeeze up to a whole lime in the mixture (I only used 1/2). Add salt to taste. Serve chilled with some corn chips (Have’A Corn Chips are our absolute favorites).

Enjoy!

Stuffed Shrooms

These stuffed mushrooms are such a hit every time I make them (which is usually for Superbowl Parties or family get-togethers). While at the Campbell market, I came across some gorgeous button mushrooms that were the perfect size for stuffed shrooms. I couldn’t resist buying a couple to make for our little family dinner (of 2 and a half).

Goat Cheese, Prosciutto and Chive Stuffed Mushrooms

  • 2 lb crimini or white button mushrooms (stems removed by plucking the stems out of the cap)
  • 1 package (8 0z) cream cheese (leave out of the fridge for 15 minutes to soften)
  • ~6 oz of Harley Farms Fromage Blanc or any soft chevre goat cheese (leave out of the fridge for 15 minutes to soften)
  • 7-8 pieces of thinly sliced prosciutto
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small bunch fresh chives, minced (about 1/4 cup) and extra for garnishing (if desired)
  • 1 cup panko (japanese breadcrumbs)
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmesean
  • Pepper

Preheat oven to 400˚F

Sauté the shallots over medium heat in a bit of olive oil until softened (about 3 minutes).  Add garlic and cook for another minute.

In a medium bowl, mix the cream cheese and goat cheese until combined.  Add the chopped proscuitto, shallots and garlic, chives, a bit of pepper.  Stir to combine.

In another bowl, combine the panko, parmesean and the extra chives with a bit of freshly cracked pepper.

Stuff the mushrooms and dip in panko:

Using a table spoon, generously fill each mushroom cap.  Dip the top of each mushroom in the panko mixture, and then put on the baking sheet.  Lightly drizzle the mushroom tops with olive oil.

Bake the mushrooms in a 400˚ oven for 12-18 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.

Serve warm. This batch didn’t even make it to the platter. We ate them straight from the cookie sheet.

Lu’s eggplants – from garden to hummus

I’m lucky enough to be gardening again in San Jose. Or rather, planting and harvesting in SJ. My sister has graciously let me plant some of my favorites in her veggie garden: tomatoes, squashes, peppers and eggplants. She’s since kept up the watering and tending. And now the veggies are going bonkers. Each visit, I go out to her garden and am wowed by both the massive quantity of veggies on each plant and the enormous size of her veggies. Seriously, the zucchinis look like wiffle ball bats.

The last visit she gave me her first eggplants. They are so beautiful with their shiny, deep purple skins. I couldn’t wait to get them into the oven (I love the smell of roasted veggies!) and then I added this with them.

To make this scrumptious appetizer:

Roasted Eggplant and Feta Hummus

  • 2 medium eggplants, peeled and cut into ½” cubes
  • 1 cup plain 2% FAGE yogurt
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 4 TB olive oil
  • ¼ cup Harley Farms feta
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • lemon juice from one lemon
  • 1 bunch of mint (from Jacobs Farm)
  • S&P

Roast eggplant in 350 degree oven for 30 mins until soft (on a cookie sheet with olive oil and S&P)

Blend yogurt, chickpeas, 2 TB olive oil, garlic, and half lemon juice until slightly blended (looks gritty). Add feta, eggplant and give it a quick whirl (should be chunky). Stir in mint and S&P to taste. Add more lemon juice if needed.

Scrumptious with any bread and additional feta and kalamata olives. Can be served hot or cold (best warm).