Category Archives: recipes

pumpkin pie & whiskey carmel in a shortbread crust

welcome back – it’s been too long. what i mean is i moved – from seattle to san francisco to boston – since my last post. a whirlwind! but now that i’m here – let’s talk about pie. jeti and prepared for thanksgiving in boston – brrrr.

we were only in charge of one dish – pie. the day before thanksgiving i rushed home from work to get started on my pie. what would i make?? then, i remembered that Jeti’s Master raving each year about his favorite pumpkin pie – from birdbath bakery – in a rich shortbread crust.

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so we got started. first – the crust. i thought i would get the crust ready before heading down to the store to pickup [ahem] the pumpkin… thirty minutes later, the crust was done but the snow was just picking up.

i tried to drive the car out of the small hill in the driveway, but i failed. i knew the snow wouldn’t last long. a few hours past and the plowers came by. 9pm rolled around quickly and i finally made it down the hill, but all the stores were shut. gah – my only responsibility was pie! how could i show up without one? the next morning, i made an emergency trip to every store i could imagine, until finally concluding that Walgreens was my only option. amazingly, canned pumpkin was in stock.

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in no time at all, we had pie. very, very delicious pie. since we were only having one pie, i decided to please both pumpkin and pecan parties and whipped up a caramel pecan topping infused with a dash of whiskey.

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the shortbread began to brown, but the result was unmatched. maybe my best pie – ever.

crust

1 c. unsalted butter [softened]

2 c. flour

1/3 c. sugar

filling

1 2/3 c. 100% pumpkin

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ginger

1/8 tsp allspice

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1/8 tsp cloves

2/3 c. sugar

touch of salt

1 1/3 c half and half

3 eggs

topping

1/2 c. butter

1 c. brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 shot whiskey

1 c. toasted pecans

1 tsp. heavy whipping cream

preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

prepare the crust by mixing together all ingredients. press into a 9″ pie pan. make sure to press the dough up high enough on the sides to prevent sliding.

bake for 10 minutes. remove and let stand while you prepare the pie filling.

preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

make the pie filling – heat the pumpkin and the sugar over medium heat in a saucepan until the pumpkin becomes fragrant (5 minutes) stirring occasionally. remove from heat and let cool. add the rest of the ingredients and mix until combined. add to pie crust and move back to the oven.

bake for 12 – 14 minutes, then reduce to 350 degrees. continue baking for 35 minutes, or until the top of the pie moves like jello when you move it. if you test it with a toothpick, make sure that the center is solid (but still moist).

while the pie is cooling, make the topping on the stovetop. melt the butter and brown sugar together over medium heat until the butter starts to boil. stir constantly with a whisk. allow the caramel to thicken. add the salt and the vanilla. continue stirring but remove from heat. add the whiskey and the whipping cream. allow to cool slightly, then pour over the top of the pie evenly. spread the pecans over the top, and let the pie set for 1 – 2 hours before serving. you can warm it back up at 250 degrees for 10 minutes before serving if you prefer it warm.

happy baking!

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butternut squash & apple soup du jour

seriously, how can it be November? we’ve officially come face to face with blustery cold days and frequent rain storms. on my regular trip to the market, i find butternut squash on sale for just $0.99/lbs! without a recipe in mind, i decided to pick one up.

the lonely squash stared at me from the counter for some 9 days as the search for an appetizing meal played on. and then suddenly, déjà vu. this time, last year, butternut squash, counter. i recalled last year trying out a butternut squash soup recipe on some friends, which was given a mediocre review of a bit too thick for soup and more resemblant of a baby food.

how gross, i thought. but i’m sure i can do better. so this time around, i decided to axe up the recipe by replacing sauteed apples with apple sauce and a touch of apple juice, and one additional cup of chicken stock.

the result was dreamy. the perfect creamy soup, hold the cream. a healthy take on fall with a warm cup of butternut squash & apple soup, finished with a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg.

butternut squash soup

one butternut squash (2 1/2 lbs or so)

2 cups of water

2 tbsp olive oil

3 tbsp butter

1 cup applesauce

1 small yellow onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic

1/4 c apple juice

2  1/4 c chicken stock

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp white pepper

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp coriander

preheat oven to 400°. slice squash lengthwise and remove the seeds. place sliced side down into baking pan with two cups of water. bake at 400° for 45-50 minutes, or until the squash is tender. remove from oven and allow to cool, until the pulp can be easily removed from the skins. this should give you approximately 3c of pulp.

saute diced onions in butter until translucent (5 mins). add applesauce and minced garlic. simmer for another 5 minutes. add chicken stock, apple juice, squash pulp, salt, pepper, and spices. whisk ingredients together and bring to a boil. lower heat to medium and reduce for about 10 minutes.

puree the soup in your food processor or food mill. keep warm over low heat and serve immediately. top with creme fraiche and cinnamon for a special treat. enjoy!

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halibut cheek sliders; cherry compote

for anyone who hasn’t had the luxury of indulging in halibut cheeks, i’m sorry. they aren’t easy to come by, but when you stumble across them they are a must have. this mild white fish cheek compares favorably against lobster tail, without the added work.

the halibut cheeks can be sautéed in a white wine, lemon, garlic, and butter pan for about 5-7 minutes – until thoroughly cooked. the texture is much different from a fillet with the shape and density resembling miniature lobster tails.

i served my sliders with mustard greens, red onion, cheeks, and cherry compote – though the dish would also complement well with garlicky aioli. the delicious juicy bing cherries were irresistible at the market. in fact, i used the remaining cherries to whip up an unforgettable cherry almond scone (coming soon…).

 

halibut cheek sliders

3/4 lbs of halibut cheek

1 lemon

3 garlic cloves – minced

1/2 c white wine (dry)

2tbsp butter

salt/pepper

slider buns (recommended: brioche rolls)

mustard greens

saute garlic and butter, add juice from one lemon and 1/2 c white wine. lightly salt and pepper your cheeks. simmer the sauce and add the cheeks, cooking for about 5-7 minutes or until thoroughly cooked. slice red onion and rinse mustard greens. serve cheeks on toasted slider buns with greens, onion, and a dollop of cherry compote.

cherry compote

1 c. pitted bing cherries

1 tsp lemon zest

1/4 c minced onion

1/4 balsamic vinegar

3 tbsp olive oil

1/4 c water and 1/4 c sugar dissolved

saute minced onion with olive oil and fine lemon zest. add the sugar-water, cherries, balsamic and a squeeze of lemon juice. simmer to a reduction.

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roasted beet salad & chèvre

i never used to care for beets. in fact, there was a point when if someone mentioned beets my mind immediately went to those underwhelming red vegetables served from a can. until recently, when beets became so much more than a canned vegetable.

typically i would leave the beets to the experts while dining out, but after finding some wonderful roasting ideas which all appeared pretty straight forward, i decided to give it a go. the beets are peeled and painted with olive oil. they are then surrounded with orange slices, thyme sprigs and a pinch of salt. i roasted my beets in foil the way i would a potato.

forty minutes later i had beautifully appointed rich red beets. my mom, who doesn’t much care for goat cheese was on her way over for dinner that evening. but since beets and goat cheese complement each other so well, i thought i attempt a chèvre crème fraiche sauce, toning down the goat cheese intensity for her.

the beets, finely diced were tossed with thinly sliced radishes, pickled shallots, arugula, and a balsamic vinaigrette.

roasted beet & chèvre salad 

3 red beets

1 shallot

4 or 5 radishes, thinly sliced

a handful of arugula

one orange

a few springs of thyme

salt

balsamic and olive oil dressing

3 ounces creme fraiche

2 ounces goat cheese

1 tbsp milk

salt

pepper

1 c vinegar

1/2 c sugar

1 tsp salt

pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. brush peeled beets with olive oil, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and wrap up with four slices of orange and several sprigs of thyme. bake for 30-40 minutes, or until tender.

while the beets are cooking, thinly slice a shallot for pickling. combine one cup of vinegar, half a cup of sugar, and a dash of salt to a  small bowl. add sliced shallots, cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

in a food processor, mix goat cheese, creme fraiche, and milk together until you have a smooth creamy sauce. store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

once the beets are cool, dice them into small bite sized pieces. toss cooled beets, radishes, and shallots in a balsamic vinaigrette of your choice, or balsamic and olive oil. spread goat cheese sauce over a plate. top with beets and arugula to taste. add cracked pepper and a dash of salt if desired.

enjoy!

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baba’s pirozhki

i’ve risen from dormancy. i almost forgot about you, blog. but i’m back. my computer and life ‘tasks’ have been salvaged from disarray (for now…). i have been back piling recipes to share with you, and am particularly excited about this one.

my babaushka (aka baba, grammy, grams, grand-ma-ma, etc.) more often than not prepared a dense russian cuisine for family meals. as children, our favorite meal was always baba’s pirozhki. the same crispy deep-fried dough and various fillings gave the  seven-year old in me just enough excitement to keep me coming back for more. often she would prepare three or four different pirozhki and each bite sized popper would be a surprising delight.

what didn’t occur to me, until i began recreating baba’s pirozhki, was that our ‘russian’ cuisine was actually russian with a chinese twist. my baba, 1/2 russian and 1/2 chinese made a minced meat pirozhki with soy and oyster sauce! she then served the meal with a homemade dipping soy sauce alongside.

i know, it sounds amazing weird. but believe me, it’s good. the pirozhki dough takes a few hours to rise and is easy to work with. i flattened a golf ball sized glob of dough and put one spoonful of filling in each dumpling.

don’t let the deep-frying scare you away from this recipe. we find that only ~10% of the oil used in the cooking process remains in the food after crisping on a paper towel. OK, it’s not a great statistic, but it could be worse.

the recipe my baba kept of course calls for 10 cups of flour and enough to feed an army of people. i cut the recipe into 1/4 and still have leftovers! it should feed 4-6 easily. the rolls also freeze very well. the result will be best if you reheat them in the oven @ 350 degrees.

pirozhki (пирожок)

dough

2 1/2 c flour

1 tsp salt

2 eggs

1/2 c milk

1/4 c warm water

1 tsp cooking oil

1/2 yeast packet

2 tbsp butter

melt butter in a microwave safe bowl. add 1/4 cup of milk. separately, dissolve 1/2 packet of yeast with warm water. allow to proof for ten minutes. add 1/4 c milk, oil, and eggs to yeast mixture. transfer to a large bowl. sift flour and salt together. add buttermilk mixture to yeast mixture. begin slowly adding flour until dough can be kneaded (approximately 2 1/2 cups). knead dough and allow to rise in a warm covered bowl for 3 hours or until it has doubled in size.

filling

1 yellow onion

1 tsp dill

2 garlic gloves

1 tbsp oil

bunch of fresh thyme or herbs of choice

salt

black pepper

3/4 lbs minced pork

1/2 lbs minced beef

2 hardboiled eggs

saute onions and garlic in oil. add dill, pepper and salt. add minced meat once the onions are translucent. if desired, add about 2 tablespoons of soy or oyster sauce to the meat mixture. cook meat until browned (10-15 minutes over medium). drain the meat mixture. dice the hardboiled eggs into small pieces and add to meat pan. mix in a 1/8 c of flour for thickening and set aside until dough is ready.

when the dough is done rising, take a small amount of dough (golf ball size) and flatten it like the picture shows. add one scoop of filling. Close and pinch the dough together. allow pirzohki to rise for another ten minutes prior to deep-frying. deep fry until golden brown on each side in 3 cups of vegetable oil.

be sure to try them with soy sauce! other popular side sauces are sour cream, horseradish, or mustard. enjoy!

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shrimp scampi & linguine

with warmer days finally sprinkling in around seattle’s tiresome gray hues, it hit me like a brick. oh dear – summer. you know, that short-lived 6-week season when short shorts, tank tops, and summer dresses come out to play haunt all of us with our pasty legs and bloated winter bellies.

ugh, I must start eating lighter meals and researching this year’s best streak-free sunless tanner. seattle’s summer slogan ought to be warning: don’t blink or you might miss it. what I find most unusual is the volume of high end speed boats and convertibles that seem to rise from the dead just long enough to get their annual tune-up.

the joys of shrimp scampi were calling to me – a dish that I first made with the help of a good friend, and would proceed to make many of times thereafter. citrusy lemons and garlic galore, sub parsley for what some would refer to as ‘you love it or you hate it’, cilantro. this dish is quick, easy, and light.

 shrimp scampi

1 lbs shrimp – veined and peeled

1/4 c butter

1/2 c chopped cilantro

2 shallots

2 lemons, for juice and peel

4-6 garlic cloves

1 c white wine

linguine

boil 2 quarts of water for linguine. cook per package instructions. 

sauté shrimp for about 1 minute in steaming water until just cooked. remove from pan and set aside. melt butter until foaming, add garlic and shallots. sauté 3 minutes until shallots become translucent. add white wine and lemon juice from two small/medium lemons, continue simmer. add 1/2 tablespoon of grated lemon peel. add cilantro, salt and pepper to taste. add back the shrimp to reheat over medium heat for 2 minutes.

combine shrimp and sauce with strained linguine noodles. serve and enjoy with a delicious crusty bread or side salad!

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chocolate black raspberry cupcakes; champagne frosting

easter weekend and book club tonight. my first book club ever. i’ve never considered going in the past, because i figure if i don’t have time to read the book – why go? as if reading the book was a mandatory requirement of attendance or something. i’ve since been informed ‘book club’ is more a rendition of Sex In the City – a total excuse for a room full of ladies to drink wine and indulge in delicious treats while ranting and raving about everything under the sun. thus, my cupcakes and i will be there.

as much as i am craving chocolate peanut butter cake – i needed to make something a bit more ‘girly’. in lieu of Easter pastels, and managing to include my daily dose of chocolate, raspberry and champagne fit the bill.

why chocolate stout? well to be honest, the stout (such as Guinness) complements dark chocolate so well that the end result is simply a richer moister chocolate cupcake.

critic approved!

chocolate cupcake

1 c stout (such as Guinness)

1 stick unsalted butter

3/4 c pressed cocoa powder

1/2 c canola or grapeseed oil

1/3 c sour cream

1/3 c milk

2 eggs

2 c flour

2 c sugar

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

pinch of salt

chocolate raspberry ganache

6 oz dark chocolate (high quality)

1 c heavy cream

1/2 c seedless black raspberry preserve

raspberry whipped cream frosting (optional)

1 c heavy whip cream

1/3 c seedless black raspberry preserves

6 tbsp powdered sugar

champagne frosting

2 sticks unsalted butter

4 tbsp champagne

3 c powdered sugar

2 tbsp heavy cream

pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. line 24 muffin cups with your favorite cupcake liners.

melt butter in a sauce pan. add oil, cocoa powder, and stout. whisk until thoroughly combined. let cool.

sift flour, sugar, soda, and salt together. in a separate bowl, beat sour cream, milk and eggs. add stout sauce. slowly fold in flour mixture until just combined. pour batter into your cupcake liners, filling each 3/4 way to top. bake for 15-17 minutes, until the centers are clean on a toothpick. let cool.

while the cupcakes are baking, chop dark chocolate chunks and put in a heat proof bowl or double boiler. heat heavy cream for ganache in a sauce pan until just bubbling at the edges. pour over heavy cream over the chocolate chunks and stir until chocolate is melted (may need to heat over double broiler. add raspberry preserves until smooth.  allow to cool for a few minutes, but not too long that the chocolate begins to settle.

using an apple corer, gently remove the centers of the cupcakes. push the corer down until it feels like you are about 1/2 way to the bottom.  fill with ganache. allow to cool completely.

now, you do not need to make both frosting recipe’s, so take your pick.

raspberry whipped cream frosting:

whip on high heavy cream, preserves, and powdered sugar for 5 minutes or until peaks are forming. fill plastic sandwich bag or a piping bag. frost cupcakes in the design of your choice!

champagne frosting:

whip butter and heavy cream until light and fluffy. begin adding powdered sugar 1 tsbp at a time. whip on high until powdered sugar is fully incorporated. alternate between powdered sugar and champagne. using a piping bag to frost your cupcakes – enjoy!

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