Tag Archives: flavorful

Tofu Katsu

7 Dec

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A few years ago I made Tonkatsu without ever having tasted it. A neighbor friend, who happened to conveniently stop by mostly at dinner time, was over the night I made it. He had traveled to Japan and told me it tasted just like the authentic dish he had when he was there. This, of course, made me feel great! Since then, I’ve been wanting to create a tofu version and have added some delicious fresh vegetables.

Time: 30 minutes                     Serves: 4

Ingredients


  • Tofu


  • 1 15 oz. block extra firm tofu (I use organic sprouted tofu from Trader Joe’s)
  • salt and black pepper
  • about 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs (I use a Ian’s gluten free from Whole Foods)
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup corn starch
  • 1 egg plus 2 tbsp water
  • rice bran oil for frying

 

  • Katsu Sauce


  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire
  • 2 tbsp sake
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp mustard powder

How to make it


  • Tofu


  • Drain tofu from liquid. Wrap in paper towel and then a dish towel. Place on a cutting board or flat dish. Place something on top that is light enough that it won’t break the tender tofu, just enough to press out some of the moisture.
  • Meanwhile, combine flour and cornstarch in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine beaten egg with water. Place panko crumbs into a third bowl.
  • Heat oil in a small-medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Test if oil is heated by throwing some panko crumbs in. If it sizzles, it’s ready.
  • Take pressed tofu and cut in half and then into four slices, then cut on diagonal to make triangles or down the middle for rectangular pieces.
  • Season tofu with salt and pepper on both sides. Dredge in flour mixture, then into the egg mixture, and then into the panko.
  • Add the breaded tofu into the hot oil. Do not overcrowd the pan, as overcrowding will drop down the temperature. Cook about 2-3 pieces at a time until golden brown, about 4-6 minutes. Place on paper towel lined plate. Season with salt while hot.

 

  • Rice and Vegetables


  • Soak and rinse sticky rice and cook according to package instructions or in your rice cooker.
  • Slice radishes (any variety would work), cube seedless cucumbers. Shred napa/savoy/or regular green cabbage. Prepare cherry tomatoes and Asian microgreens (Mizuna, broccoli sprouts, etc). Cut fried tofu into slices.
  • To serve, place a scoop of sticky rice on plate. Place a bed of cabbage beside the rice. Arrange tofu over it. Drizzle sauce over top. Add fresh vegetables and enjoy! This dish also goes nicely with pickled vegetables, recipe coming soon.
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Ginger Snaps

17 Nov

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I spent part of my summer hanging out with my dad in his cute little house in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We have bonded a lot through food over the years and without fail, my dear ol’ always requests that we bake when I’m there. “We” mostly means me, but I’m more than happy to oblige. This time, he requested ginger snaps – one of his favorites and also something I had never made before. I’m always up for a challenge in the kitchen! My poppa’s palate was pleased by these wholesome morsels and they are just perfect for the autumn and upcoming winter season with all of their aromatic spices.

Time: 30 minutes                   Yield: 18 cookies

Ingredients


  • 1/2 cup butter or Earth Balance, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 cups flour (I used brown rice flour)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1  tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1-2 tbsp fresh grated ginger (these are strong in ginger flavor, if you want less use 2 tsp)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

How to make it


  • Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine brown sugar and butter. Mix until creamy and well incorporated. Add molasses and egg and mix well.
  • In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and cardamom . Slowly add dry ingredients into wet, mixing well to incorporate. Next, fold in ginger and mix well.
  • Place granulated sugar in a small shallow dish. Form dough into about 1″ balls. Roll dough in granulated sugar. Place on prepared baking sheet, allowing room between each as these spread as they bake.
  • Bake for 16 minutes in middle rack. Remove from oven, lift silpat or parchment paper and gently move to cool off of the hot baking sheet.

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Orange Mango Banana Poppy Seed Bread

15 Jun

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One of my fellow MasterChef 4 competitors invited me to write a guest post for her blog. I decided to share this delicious quick bread (or muffins – your choice!). Oh, and would you believe it’s low-fat and gluten-free?! Oh, yes!!! Please visit Celebration Generation for the recipe and other interesting tidbits about our MasterChef 4 experience.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

10 Jun

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One thing I try to focus on when creating dishes is being able to eat and make what I love, without having to compromise much. Unfortunately, I suffer from a digestive disorder – what kind of cruel joke is that for a chef and “foodie”?! I’ve done quite a bit of trial and error on my diet to try to keep myself in good health and pain-free. Although I’m not allergic to wheat or gluten, I find that I feel much better when I don’t eat it. It seems a lot of people can benefit from reducing the amount of wheat they consume. With that said, I don’t want to give up my favorite foods or feel like I’m missing out on anything and this fried chicken is the perfect example! The buttermilk marinade adds to the flavor and moisture of the meat while the cornstarch helps to keep the breading from falling off while frying. If you haven’t tried brown rice flour yet, I highly recommend it!

Time: 45 minutes + marinate time                   Serves: 4

Ingredients


  • 1 chicken cut into 8 pieces – about 2.5 pounds
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 large garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp rainbow peppercorns
  • 1 handful celery leaves
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • neutral oil, for frying

How to make it


  • Combine buttermilk,salt,pepper,paprika,rosemary,onion,garlic,celery stalks & leaves in a large plastic zipper bag. Seal and toss to incorporate. Add chicken pieces, reseal, and refrigerate for at least 12 hours, and up to 36 hours.
  • Place cornstarch in a bowl.
  • Place egg, hot sauce, and water in another bowl.
  • Place flour, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne pepper in a third bowl. Mix to incorporate.lunapic_137046272434386_28
  • Remove chicken from fridge. Heat oil in a medium stock pot to about 350F – a cube of bread should brown in one minute when the oil is ready.
  • Remove chicken from buttermilk mixture, letting excess drip off. Dredge first in cornstarch, then dip in egg wash, and finally dredge in seasoned flour. Place in hot oil and cook for about 20 minutes. Wings may need less time and larger pieces may need a few more minutes. I went about 25 minutes on the breasts, 20 minutes on the legs and thighs, and 15 minutes on the wings. Remove and transfer to a paper towel lined cooling rack. Fry in batches if needed. (I like to fry in smaller batches in a smaller pot to use less oil and give the pieces room to brown well without sticking).

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Honey Lemon Lamb En Brochette

5 Jun

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Here it is folks! This is the dish I prepared for the the lamb challenge on Episode 3 of MasterChef Season 4 on FOX. When we were waiting to go in to meet with the judges and found out our challenge, the smells that come with fresh livestock came wafting in to my nose. I looked around to see if any of the other contestants noticed and it seemed many did not. We were all anxious and excited to find out what our challenge would be and for a moment I had a flash of panic, thinking “what if we have to slaughter something?!” After a few minutes, which felt like hours, we were brought in to the judges to find out what we would be doing. When I first saw the sweet little lamb that Gordon Ramsay held in his arms, my heart dropped.

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Then, the rest of the herd was let in and our challenge was announced. We could create any dish with lamb as the star ingredient and we had our pick of any and all parts of the animal. In addition, we had the privilege of using the fully-stocked MasterChef pantry. I had to shake the feeling of being sad for the little lamb and keep my head in the game!

I got the inspiration for this dish from a recipe in Matthew Kenney’s “Big City Cooking”. One of my dearest friends, Katie, gave the book to me as a gift years ago – before I discovered my passion for cooking. It’s a lovely book and back then I found it quite intimidating as many of the ingredients were unfamiliar to me at the time and the preparations are so elegant. I used to flip through it and think, “one day…” Now I can really dig into it. Thanks, Katie!

Time: 15 minutes + marinating                  Serves: 4

Ingredients


  • 2 cups 0% plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 boneless lamb loins – about 10 oz each – cut crosswise into pieces 1-inch thick
  • mint leaves, for garnish

How to make it


  • In a large non-reactive bowl, combine yogurt, oil, honey, lemon juice, tahini, cumin, cayenne, and salt. Whisk together to incorporate.
  • Add lamb loin to marinade and cover. Refrigerate for 3-6 hours or let set on the counter for about 40 minutes before grilling.
  • Preheat grill or grill pan over medium-high heat.
  • Thread lamb onto metal or wooden skewers (if using wood, be sure to soak in water for 10 minutes so they don’t burn). Reserve marinade.
  • Place skewers on hot grill/grill pan and cook, turning occasionally, until desired doneness – I go 5-6 minutes for medium-rare.
  • Let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with mint leaves.

As we were cooking, the judges came around to talk to us, see what we were up to, and in some cases take a taste. Gordon Ramsay came to my station and asked me what I was preparing. After I described it to him, he stuck his index finger in the bowl of marinade, lamb and all, stuck it in his mouth and proclaimed, “It’s fucking delicious!” I may have been sent home on this challenge but this was a great affirmation! I know I think it’s delicious, but to know Gordon Ramsay does too… That’s saying something! Check me out doing my thing in the second row from the bottom on the left.

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The marinade may not look like much, but it does great things! The yogurt tenderizes the meat, while the lemon tames the lamb’s robust flavor.

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The lamb is served over a Moroccan Cucumber Mint Salad which provides a wonderful textural contrast and freshness. Recipe coming soon.

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The dish is also served with Harissa

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…and Honey Cumin Yogurt.

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It also pairs perfectly with Moroccan Carrots.

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Lamb Meatballs and Napoli Sauce

30 May

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I acquired these traditional Italian recipes, passed down through generations, from a chef in LA. As per usual, I added my own touches to make this dish sing. The simplicity of the sauce highlights the succulent, herbaceous lamb and everything is in harmony – the pleasant tune of spring.

Time: 30 minutes + simmer Serves: 5

Ingredients


  • Meatballs


  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup cubed bread (I used Udi’s Gluten Free White)
  • milk, enough to cover bread cubes
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tbsp thyme leaves
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • sea salt and black pepper – to taste (about 1/4 tsp each)
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large leek, white and light green part only – carefully cleaned and cut into thin half moons
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Sauce


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion (about 1/2 a medium-large onion)
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • pinch of sugar
  • 2 tbsp oregano
  • sea salt and black pepper – to taste
  • 8 basil leaves, roughly chopped or chiffonade

How to make it


  • Meatballs


  • Combine bread cubes and milk in a small bowl to soak.
  • Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add oil. Once hot, add leeks and cook for about 5-7 minutes until soft and translucent. Add garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Transfer soaked bread to a large mixing bowl. Discard excess milk any remains. Add lamb, parsley, rosemary, thyme, beaten egg, salt, pepper, and cooled leeks & garlic. Mix just to incorporate.
  • Form mixture into 2-inch balls and set on a lined baking sheet.
  • At this point you can bake them in a preheated oven at 400F for 20 minutes. Or you can braise them in the sauce by allowing them to cook for 25 minutes. Finally, you can pan fry them in batches with a bit of olive oil over medium-high until browned on all sides and cooked through, about 8-10 minutes.
  • I always cook my meatballs, let them cool, then put them on a baking sheet and into the freeze. Once frozen, pop them into a freezer bag or container and you’ll have homemade meatballs waiting for you anytime.
  • Sauce


  • In a medium stock pot, heat olive oil over medium-high. Add onions and cook for 5-7 minutes until softened and translucent. Add garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes.
  • Add crushed tomatoes, oregano, some salt & pepper and stir. Bring to a boil. Then reduce to simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 2 hours. Add basil during last 30 minutes of simmer.
  • Serve meatballs tossed in sauce and spaghetti. Top with shaved Parmesan Reggiano Asiago blend and garnish with small basil leaves.

Creamy Spring Michigan Asparagus Soup

14 May

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I look forward to the spring for so many reasons, and Michigan asparagus is one of them! It’s fresh, subtly sweet, and oh so delicious. The simplicity of this luscious soup lets it shine through and really be the star. May be served hot or chilled.

Time: 45 minutes                            Serves: 6

Ingredients


  • 1 onion,  finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 pounds asparagus, tough ends removed – cut into 2-inch pieces, tips reserved
  • 2 cups peeled & cubed potatoes
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • sea salt and black pepper, freshly ground – to taste
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

How to make it


  • Heat olive oil over medium heat in a 5 qt stock pot. Add onion and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute.
  • Add potatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Then, add asparagus (not the tips!). Add stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.
  • Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400F. Place asparagus tips on a lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in oven and roast 5-7 minutes, depending on size. Remove from oven and set aside
  • Once potatoes are tender, use an immersion blender to puree or standing blender in batches. Return to pot and add cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Garnish with roasted asparagus tips.