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March 30, 2011

Cara Cara Oranges in Salad



The cara cara orange is believed to have been developed as a cross between the Washington navel and the Brazilian Bahia navel. It was discovered at the Hacienda de Cara Cara in Venezuela in 1976. This orange that has the taste of honey and sunshine is fast gaining popularity everywhere especially here. They now grow them in California and is sought after  because of its delightful sweet flavor that is low in acid. It has been described as evoking hints of cherry, rose petal and blackberry. Such flavors are just lovely in salad. I made some for you to sample.

As for me, I consider it a jewel of the orange family.
The orange has a distinctive pinkish red  interior as compared here to the common navel orange.
Here are some fruit that go well with the special orange.
Himalayan pink salt, calamondin juice and extra virgin olive oil is sprinkled on the salad. I use this salt only because it is said to have a rich mineral and trace elements content although it has the same salty taste as the sea salt. I choose calamondin over lemon or lime because of its distinctive combined flavors of lemon and orange that goes so well with the fruit salad. Again, you can always put your favorite dressing for salads like these.
This is with avocado and cara cara orange wedges on a bed or romaine lettuce garnished with roasted macadamia nuts and dried sour cherries.
Navel,blood and cara cara oranges are combined on a bed of romaine lettuce and garnished with mint.
Slices of dragonfruit and segments of cara cara orange placed alternately.
Fruit salad of fresh pineapple chunks and green grapes with cara cara oranges.
Enjoy!





March 28, 2011

The Orange Roughy


The orange roughy or deep sea perch is a medium size fish that is really brick red in life but fades into yellowish orange when fished. It is found in some parts of the Pacific and Atlantic ocean.The fish actually appeared on the endangered species list because of over fishing but still appear in the popular markets when there is a surplus from New Zealand or Australia. It is considered a gourmet item on many restaurant menus. This is a medium size fish with firm and delicate tasting white flesh. The Monterey Bay Aquarium seafood watch here in California published an Environmental Defense Fund health advisory for orange roughy due to high levels of mercury. If you decide to eat it, you should eat no more than one meal per month. I think this is due to the fact that there is now too much pollution in our oceans and that the fish mature at a very slow rate and lives an extremely long life the the waters. The orange roughy lives 100 years or more, so the fillet in your freezer could be from a fish older than your grandmother! In short I decided to eat one that is organic and  good for you. You can get it at the farmer's market with vibrant carrot orange hue. I carved one specially for you. Enjoy!

March 25, 2011

Pico de Gallo for Avocado and Roast Chicken

One of  Mexico's cuisine more popular condiment is the Pico de Gallo, also called salsa fresca. The name means rooster's beak which resembles the shape of the chile serrano that is used to spice up the salsa. I heard this from my Mexican friends so I stick to this suggested etymology. The salsa is great with  quesadilla, open-faced sandwiches called molletes, tacos, and many more. I made the salsa for tacos, a corn or wheat tortlla folded or rolled around a filling.
The salsa is made by mixing diced tomatoes, diced red onions, roughly chopped cilantro and finely diced jalapeno peppers. Seasoned with lime juice, sea salt and pepper to taste. This condiment is always made according to ones taste but more hot chili or lime is added to really enjoy this zesty salsa!


Warm the tortillas by putting them in a covered plate for 1 minute in the microwave oven and keep them covered until serving.
Individual serving of sliced or shredded chicken is folded or rolled in a tortilla. This is a roast chicken that was rubbed with sea salt and pepper and lemon juice and the lemon pulp placed in the cavity and baked.
Sliced avocado with the salsa makes a delicious vegetarian dish as well.





Enjoy!



March 21, 2011

Zucchini Carpaccio and Some Carvings

Fresh zucchini are the best for slicing with a Japanese mandoline. It can shave paper thin slices you can arrange and dress for carpaccio.Cooked zucchini is delicious but having them raw this way is quite an eating experience too. After putting your favorite dressing and garnish, the zucchini will taste so delicious you would not even know they're raw. Drizzle olive oil, lemon juice, some freshly ground black pepper, and sea salt. Then garnish with your favorite cheese like ricotta, goat, shavings of parmigiano or pecorino and nuts too if you wish. For the herbs, you can choose from thyme, mint, chives or shreded leeks, tender parsley or even rosemary flowers. 








Pine nuts and shavings of Manchego are added to this one.
Balsamic vinegar that is extravecchio is sprinkled over the zucchini and capers. I carved regular and globe zucchini for you too.
Enjoy!









March 18, 2011

Sobao Pasiego - Spanish Regional Pastry from Cantabria


In Spain it is called sobao pasiego. A Cantabrian butter sponge cake baked in a paper mold. I first tasted it one Summer when our  tour bus on our way to San Sebastian stopped by a small town to sample the pastry. It reminded me of the madeleine but it was sweeter and heavier with butter or lard. I liked it a lot but thought of making it with less sugar and butter. I had to learn how to make the paper mold for the authentic look. I use parchment paper for this. I sometimes make them at home a little lighter for breakfast or for snack. For every cup of flour I put 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of melted butter, 2 large eggs separated, 1/2 tsp of baking powder, some lemon rind, a tsp of rum or anisette and a pinch of salt. I add a little oil if the batter is too thick. I start off by beating together the butter, salt, lemon rind, rum and the sugar until light and creamy, gradually adding the yolks. I beat the egg whites until stiff then mix half of it carefully to the butter mixture and fold in the sifted flour with the baking powder and then the remaining egg white. I fill the mold 3/4 full and bake in a 350F oven for 15 minutes or until golden.


The distinctive flavor of this treat is the lemon rind and rum or anisette but you can also add a drop of vanilla extract if you wish.

I love to eat them with a glass of cold milk.

Enjoy!



March 14, 2011

Flatbread Stuffed with Spicy Minced Meat

This type of dish is called Murtabak, an Indian flatbread stuffed with spiced minced meat. It is a favorite delicacy I saw in Singapore at stalls sold by vendors that  make everything from scratch beginning with the paper thin dough.They flip it masterfully for several times to incredible thinness and fold it with the meat stuffing over a hot iron griddle. I have been making this and never dared call it the same name for I make it differently. I call my version spicy flatbread because I use ready made feuille de brick for shortcut and other variations. I made two batches to show you, one with potatoes, hot chili and lemon juice. the other is with curry.

The stuffing is made with minced meat of lamb, beef or chicken. I used the chicken leg, drumstick and thigh which is  the tastier part of the chicken for me.  Spice up a pound of ground chicken with 1 tbsp of curry powder, 1 tsp of turmeric, 1/4 tsp or chili powder, Chinese celery or cilantro finely chopped and seasoned with salt and pepper. Sauteed everything in a bit of oil with 7 cloves of garlic and 1 onion minced until cooked and then add 3 slightly scrambled eggs and stir and finish cooking. The minced meat should be a little dry. Set aside to cool for the stuffing.

For shortcut use a good quality Spring roll wrapper if you don't have feuille de brik. To make the wrapper really crispy brush both side of the wrapper with oil leaving 1/2  inch on the edge of all the sides for the corn starch paste (boil 1/4 cup of water and 1tbsp of corn starch to make glue). Put about a cup of minced meat in the middle and flatten to a square leaving the edges to paste and seal. Smear the edges with the glue and put another leaf on top and seal like a ravioli.


Fold the edges with the paste and put the whole thing on top of another sheet and repeat the process once  again. 
At this point you have 4 sheets wrapped,sealed and brushed with oil. Put on top of a preheated flat grill and close. 
After a few minutes open to check for doneness. The stuffed flatbread should be golden brown and very crispy.


Remove the flatbread and cut to your desired shape.


Serve and garnish with red or green chili and cilantro if you wish. It is usually enjoyed with pickled red onions. A quick and easy way to make it is by boiling 1 shredded red onion in 3/4 cup of red vinegar and season with sugar, black pepper and salt. This can keep for a week in the fridge.



Enjoy!







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Napa, California, United States