Baked Bass With Spicy Rub( Pa Pao) Laos and Spicy Cucumber Salad(Layou Huanggua) China

Sorry about the absence! I've been buried in work, life and lost my cooking mojo for a moment It happens I suppose.

Both of these recipes come from the Hot Sour Salty Sweet cookbook.

I've used the coriander root paste as a marinade for this dish many times and love it. This fish was good but I prefer the paste on chicken. I also think I overcooked my fish a bit which is never a good thing. I baked it in the oven telling myself the entire time I should have done it on the grill. Note to self: listen to inner voice.

The cucumber salad is also a regular on my summer dinner rotation. I absolutely love it! There are never any leftovers.



Baked Bass with Spicy Rub
2 1-1 1/2 lb whole gutted and scaled firm fleshed fish(bass, trout or snapper)
2 tbs Peppercorn-Coriander Root Flavor Paste
2 stalks lemongrass smashed and chopped into 1 inch lengths
2 limes cut into wedges
Salt and fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400 or grill to medium heat.
Wash the fish inside and out and pat dry.
Make 3 diagonal slashes in each side of the fish.
Stuff coriander paste into slashes and over outside and inside of fish.
Place lemongrass slices inside fish.
Wrap fish in foil or banana leaves and bake 30-40 minutes in oven or grill 15-20 minutes each side until done.
Serve with lime wedges.

Pepper Coriander Root Flavor Paste

2 tsp black peppercorns
5-6 large cloves of garlic, chopped
3 tbs coarsely chopped coriander roots
pinch salt
1 tsp Thai fish sauce

I took the lazy route and whirled the peppercorns, garlic, salt and coriander roots to a paste with my mini-prep until it formed a paste and added the fish sauce. The recipe suggests pounding to a paste in a mortar and pestle, and I've done that before with good results.

Spicy Cucumber Salad

In this salad, the cucumbers are first dressed with a little vinegar, then dressed again with hot oil. The contrast of smooth chile-warm oil and crisp fresh cucumber is a knockout. The salad has a mild but not aggressive heat made with the 5 dried red chiles. Note that the cucumbers will soften if they're left standing, so don't pour the hot oil over them until just before you wish to serve the salad.
1 large or 2 medium European cucumbers (1 to 1-1/4 pounds)
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
5 Thai dried red chiles, or 3 for milder heat
1/2 jalapeño, minced
7 Sichuan peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup packed torn coriander leaves

Peel the cucumber, leaving some thin strips of peel on if you wish, for a decorative effect. Cut lengthwise into quarters and scrape off and discard the seeds. Use the flat side of a cleaver or large knife to bash the cucumber pieces several times. Cut the pieces lengthwise into thinner strips, then cut crosswise into 2-inch lengths. Place in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, mix together the vinegar and sugar. Pour over the cucumber, mix well, and set aside.Place a wok or skillet over high heat. When it is hot, add the oil and swirl to coat the pan. Toss in the dried chiles, jalapeño, and peppercorns and stir-fry for 20 to 30 seconds. Pour this over the cucumbers. Sprinkle on the salt and mix well.Mound the salad in a shallow bowl. Sprinkle on the coriander leaves and serve immediately.

Note: The traditional way to make this uses 3 tablespoons of oil, giving a well-oiled texture that may be undesirable. If you wish, try both and see which you prefer (two was perfect for me).

Pecan- and Panko-crusted Chicken Breasts

A friend on my message board asked me if I had tried this recipe. I hadn't but I am always up for a new recipe!

This was fantabulous! And easy! I mean what's NOT to love about chicken coated in pecans and cooked in butter?

I did cut the recipe in half and it still made more than enough crumb coating. This is good enough to serve to company.

As you can see I served it with roasted asparagus and garlic bread. I roasted the asparagus right along with the chicken.


Pecan- and Panko-crusted Chicken Breasts
Bon Appétit | August 2006

4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1 cup finely chopped pecans(I bought chopped and chopped them further in my mini-prep)
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, divided

1/4 cup minced shallots
3/4 cup low-salt chicken broth
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 400°F. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Mix panko and pecans in dish. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in heavy large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Remove skillet from heat; brush some of melted butter onto chicken, then coat chicken in panko mixture. Place skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and sauté until brown on bottom, about 2 minutes. Turn chicken over. Place skillet in oven. Bake until chicken is cooked through, about 18 minutes. Transfer chicken to platter.

Using slotted spoon, remove any crumbs from skillet. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter and shallots; sauté over medium-high heat 1 minute. Add broth and simmer until slightly reduced, about 1 minute. Mix in parsley. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper; drizzle over chicken.

Posole Rojo and the Corniest Corn Muffins

I have a new favorite corn muffin recipe! Oh my these are so heavenly I had to quickly wrap up the extras and put them in the freezer so I wouldn't eat them all! I did take one as they cooled and drizzled it with butter and honey.

I was also excited about making posole. I've ordered it in restaurants but have never thought to make it myself, mainly because canned hominy does not sound appealing and I couldn't find dried at the grocery store when I thought to look.

So I decided to order some dried with my last Rancho Gordo order to see if there's a difference. There is! This recipe came with my order and I had to try it.

I did use Penzey's hot chili powder which made the soup a bit spicier than I like but I just ate an extra corn muffin to cool my mouth.


Posole Rojo
Steve Sando, Rancho Gordo

1 tbs olive oil
2 med white onions, chopped
8 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup tomato paste
3 tbs chili powder
1 tbs Mexican oregano(mine is Turkish)
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
4 cups cooked hominy
7 cups cooked shredded chicken(I poached boneless skinless breasts in chicken broth)
salt and pepper

Garnishes, diced avocado, chopped cilantro, finely chopped onions, chili powder (HA! is he kidding?)crumbled queso fresco, thinly sliced radishes in any combination.

I garnished with avocado, cilantro and queso fresco.

1. Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and onion and cook until soft. Add tomato paste and spices stirring until mixed and warmed.

2. Add 4 cups of water, broth and hominy. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add chicken and serve with garnishes.

Publish Post

Corniest Corn Muffins

- makes 12 muffins -
Adapted from Baking From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan


1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
6 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
1 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 tablespoons corn oil
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 cup corn kernels (add up to 1/3 cup more if you’d like), fresh, frozen or canned (in which case they should be drained and patted dry)


Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Butter or spray the 12 muffin molds in a regular-size muffin tin, or fit the molds with paper muffin cups.

Working in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. In a large glass measuring cup with a spout or in another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, melted butter, oil, egg and yolk. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Don’t worry about being thorough – the batter will be lumpy and that’s just the way it should be. Stir in the corn kernels. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin molds.

Slide the pan into the oven and bake 15 to 18 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Pull the pan from the oven and carefully lift each muffin out of its mold and onto a rack to cool.

Serving: The muffins are great warm or at room temperature and particularly great split, toasted and slathered with butter or jam or both (if they’re not in breadbasket at dinner, that is).

Storing: Like all muffins, these are best eaten the day they are made. If you want to keep them, it’s best to wrap them airtight and pop them into the freezer, where they’ll keep for about a month; re-warm in a 300°F oven, if you’d like, or split them and toast them—do that and they’ll be that much more delicious with butter.

Lemon Garlic Shrimp and Vegetables USA

Yea my favorite cooking show Top Chef has started again! I always like to think about what I would do for the challenges. This week they assigned classic dishes and amazingly some of the chefs had no idea what they were let alone how to make them. One of the items was souffle. About 10 years ago I attempted a souffle and couldn't resist peeking in the oven. That was the end of my souffle. Anyway I was thinking maybe that's a dish I should try again. And that got me thinking further about culinary goals. What would I like to learn? So I composed a list. It's a short list but one I'll continue to ponder and add to. So far:

1. Souffle
2. Charcuterie-confit, cassoulet, rillettes...
3. Yeast bread baking
4. Make a decent pie crust. Pastry is not my friend.
5. Peel an apple like Sakai without losing a finger. Just for fun.

Last night I tied up a burner cooking dried hominy for tomorrows Mexican dish and wanted something quick and healthy for dinner. This Eating Well recipe fit the bill perfectly although, you all are probably wondering about my cholesterol with all the shrimp dishes on this blog. Most of the time I stick to vegetarian meals but I do like shrimp!

I also love asparagus and now that it's in season plan on eating as much as possible.

And the weather is beautiful so it was another poolside dinner.


Lemon-Garlic Shrimp & Vegetables
Makes 4 servings

4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 large red bell peppers, diced
2 pounds asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest½ teaspoon salt, divided
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound raw shrimp (26-30 per pound), peeled and deveined
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Lemon-Garlic Shrimp & Vegetables Instructions
1. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add bell peppers, asparagus, lemon zest and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until just beginning to soften, about 6 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl; cover to keep warm.2. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil and garlic to the pan and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add shrimp and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Whisk broth and cornstarch in a small bowl until smooth and add to the pan along with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, until the sauce has thickened slightly and the shrimp are pink and just cooked through, about 2 minutes more. Remove from the heat. Stir in lemon juice and parsley. Serve the shrimp and sauce over the vegetables.

Lemon-Garlic Shrimp & Vegetables Nutrition Information
Per serving: 226 calories; 7 g fat (1 g sat, 4 g mono); 174 mg cholesterol; 14 g carbohydrate; 28 g protein; 4 g fiber; 514 mg sodium; 670 mg potassium. Nutrition bonus: Vitamin C (210% daily value), Vitamin A (80% dv), Folate (53% dv), Iron (25% dv).1 Carbohydrate Serving Exchanges: 2 vegetable, 3 lean meat, 1 fat

Shrimp Ragu

This recipe comes from Mark Bittmans Blog.

I had high hopes for it and it was good but I felt it needed more flavor. Maybe some garlic or another herb.

Shrimp lovers will enoy it as the shrimp stock+shrimp pieces+whole shrimp=a very shrimpy dish.


Yield 4 to 6 servings
Time 40 minutes

To make the stock, take shrimp shells, cover them in water -- you can add aromatics like carrots and onions, but it's hardly necessary -- bring to a boil, simmer for a few minutes, and drain. When you are done you have essence of shrimp, a broth of a very high order, the perfect liquid for seafood risottos, stews, soups . . . and this sauce.

1 1/2 pounds medium-to-large shrimp, in their shells
Salt and ground black pepper
Pinch cayenne
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 medium or 1 large chopped onion
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 large or 3 plum tomatoes, chopped, with juice
1 teaspoon chopped fresh marjoram or oregano, plus a few leaves for garnish
1 pound pasta, preferably fresh.

1. Shell the shrimp; boil shells with just enough water to cover, a large pinch of salt, a grinding of pepper and a pinch of cayenne. Simmer 10 minutes, then drain, reserving liquid (discard shells). Bring a pot of water to boil for pasta and salt it.
2. Meanwhile, finely chop about a third of the shrimp. Put olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; a minute later add onion and carrot, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are quite soft, about 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, herb and chopped shrimp, and cook, still over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes begin to break down. Add stock from shrimp shells and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is no longer soupy but still moist.
3. When sauce is almost done, cook pasta. When pasta has about 5 minutes to go, stir whole shrimp


I'm a convert to old fashioned popcorn!

My Whirly-Pop arrived yesterday along with a sample of popcorn. So today for lunch I decided to have popcorn poolside with a glass of water and a good book. The weather is beautiful! Too bad I have to do some cleaning today.

I popped the corn in olive oil (1 tbs popcorn and 1 tsp oil). It took about 3 minutes to pop which is the same time it takes to nuke a bag only this smelled and tasted way better. No un-poppped kernels or burned pieces either.

I just drizzled a little melted butter and sprinkled it with a little sea salt. For cleaning the popper just needs to be wiped out with paper towel.

I'm really anxious for the Rancho Gordo Crimson Corn to get here! I have a feeling I'm about to become a popcorn snob. I also want to try the seasoned popcorn recipes in the booklet that came with the popper.


Zesty Lemon Basted Trout -USA

My brother bought me Fish & Shellfish, Grilled & Smoked by Karen Adler and Judith M. Fertig in September and I'm embarrassed to say I'm just starting to cook from it now. I love grilled fish although sometimes I feel a little intimidated by it.

I bought my trout boned because that's what the store had but it still held together as well as a bone in fish. My grill time was also considerably less. I loved the baste but beware the recipe makes a LOT. I cut it in half because there are only two of us and had more than enough.

The end result of this was tender, juicy, flavorful, melt in your mouth trout. YUM! A definite do-over! My boyfriend agreed!



Zesty Lemon Basted Trout

4 12-16 oz rainbow trout, dressed
2 lemons, thinly sliced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
8 sprigs fresh Italian parsley
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
Zesty Lemon Baste (see below)

Prepare medium-hot grill
Rinse fish and place 2-3 lemon slices, 2 onion slices and a sprig of parsley in the cavity of each fish and season with salt and pepper.
Grill until the meat is opaque and is just beginning to flake with a fork-about 8-10 minutes each side(my time was only about four minutes each side)basting frequently with the lemon baste
Serve garnished with lemon slices and parsley.

Zesty Lemon Baste

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp cayenne pepper
grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
4 minced garlic cloves

Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Will keep refrigerated and wrapped for 7 days.

I served it with Spanish-Style Grilled Vegetables with Breadcrumb Picada from the July 2007 issue of Bon Appetit. This has become my "go to" Grilled vegetable recipe. I even reviewed it over at Epicurious. Their picture is a lot prettier than mine too.

Spanish-Style Grilled Vegetables with Breadcrumb Picada

Picada is a Spanish flavoring made with garlic, herbs, and ground nuts. Here, breadcrumbs stand in for the nuts.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Tori Ritchie
On the grill
3 large red bell peppers (about 1 1/2 pounds), stemmed, seeded, quartered
4 large Japanese eggplants (about 1 1/4 pounds), trimmed, cut lengthwise into 3 slices
4 medium green or yellow zucchini (preferably 2 of each; about 1 pound), trimmed, cut lengthwise into 1/3-inch-thick slices
Extra-virgin olive oil (for grilling)

For the dish
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)*
2 tablespoons Sherry wine vinegar
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano

*Available in the Asian foods section of some supermarkets and at Asian markets.
Prepare barbecue (medium heat). Arrange vegetables on baking sheets. Brush with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill peppers, skin side down and without turning, until blackened and blistered, moving occasionally for even cooking, about 10 minutes. Enclose in plastic bag. Let stand until skins loosen, about 30 minutes. Grill eggplants and zucchini until charred and tender, turning and rearranging for even browning, 5 to 6 minutes. Place on foillined baking sheet. Peel peppers. Transfer to sheet with eggplants and zucchini.

Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and crushed red pepper; stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add breadcrumbs; stir until golden, about 3 minutes. Season breadcrumb picada to taste with salt; scrape into small bowl.

Place vinegar in another small bowl; whisk in 3 tablespoons oil. Mix in parsley and oregano. Season to taste with salt.

Arrange vegetables on platter. Spoon herb dressing over; sprinkle with breadcrumbs.

Shrimp That's Really My Way and Some Rambling

Serious Eats published a List of Obsolete Cooking Skills last week. One of the skills was popping corn in oil. I thought about that and realized I don't like microwave popcorn with it's faux butter or air popped corn. I remember eating oil popped corn as a child. I think that ended in the 80's when air poppers and microwaves became more common.

I had an Amazon gift certificate so I decided to buy a Whirly Pop.


And I included some Rancho Gordo Crimson Popcorn in my next bean order. I hear great things about this popcorn-like it's buttery without the butter.


So here's to bringing back an obsolete skill! I'm not worried about the fat as I'll use coconut oil which isn't absorbed into food as much as other fats. Maybe I'll even make kettle corn!

Now on to my shrimp. I have no clue where I got this idea but it's one of my favorite, "don't know what the heck else to do" meals. I love sriracha and never pass up a chance to use it.

Simply combine sriracha and soy sauce to taste. Marinate shrimp and cook as desired (I sautee). I marinate the shrimp for about as long as it takes to cook the rice. Yum!!!


Spaghetti alle Olive Verde-Italy

I realized out of all the countries I've cooked from I have not made anything from Italy. Strange because I LOVE Italian food! So I checked Cucina Del Sole; A Celebration of Southern Italian Cooking by Nancy Harmon Jenkins out from the library. The recipes look fantastic but there are no pictures! I like cookbooks with pictures!

Anyway, this version of spaghetti caught my eye because I had most of the ingredients on hand. She recommends using olive oil packed tuna. I used water packed because I cannot open a can of tuna in my house without having a yowling cat at my feet. I don't actually feed her the tuna but I do let her lick the can. I really didn't want to give her olive oil because I'm the one who cleans the litterbox. This recipe does work with water-packed tuna but I will tell you that if you use it you may want to increase the amount of olive oil in the paste as mine was a bit dry. I was also intrigued by salt packed capers. I've always bought the brined. I picked up a bottle of salt packed, rinsed one off and the flavor is different. Not suprisingly they're salty and lack the vinegar taste of the brined.

I liked this dish and will definitely make it again, although next time I will add more olive oil for the aforementioned reason and make it into more of a pesto. And I'll keep telling myself how good all this oil is for my heart. Mediterranean people live longer than a lot of us and diet has been credited.

I did not add any extra salt as the olives and capers provided enough. I also used multi-grain spaghetti. Safeway has a brand called Eating Right which has the same nutritional profile as Barilla Plus but I think it tastes better and it's cheaper.


Spaghetti alle Olive Verde
Spaghetti with Green Olives and Lemon Zest

3-4 Tbs Olive Oil
2 Garlic Cloves sliced
3/4 cup bread crumbs-preferably homemade
1/4 to 1/3 cup drained canned tuna preferably oil-packed
2 tbs capers, preferably salt packed, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup mixed flat-leaf parsley leaves and basil leaves
2/3 cup coarsely chopped pitted green olives(I got mine at the olive bar at the grocery store)
Sea Salt (I ommitted this)
Crumbled dried red chili (I used red pepper flakes)
1 lb spaghetti
Grated zest of one lemon

Combine 2 tbs of the olive oil with the garlic in a small skillet and cook over medium-low heat for a few minutes, stirring frequently until the garlic begins to brown. Remove the garlic slices from the oil and discard. Add the bread crumbs to the oil in the pan and toast, stirring frequently, until the crumbs are golden and crisp. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a food processor combine the tuna through the olives and process to a coarse paste. Add 1-2 tbs of olive oil and procss again. Taste for salt and add salt(if desired) and the chili to taste.

Cook spaghetti. Toss in a large bowl with the paste. Add the lemon zest and toss again. Top with the bread crumbs and serve.

Makes 4-6 servings.