Cheddar Jalapeno Biscuits

August 9, 2013 § Leave a comment

A warm, soft, and peppery biscuit is one of my favorite treats when I go out for brunch. I had the urge to make Cheddar Jalapeno biscuits because 1. I had cheddar cheese & jalapeno in the fridge 2. I craved biscuits  3. I wanted something gourmet that would blow my mind.   This biscuit recipe is a simple one I adapted from Food Network Favorites  Parmesan, Pepper, & Lemon Biscuit, which is equally delicious.

Ingredients for 8 biscuits:

Preheat Oven to 450 Degrees

  • 2 Cups of Flour; available at $0.79 per pound on sale at Sprouts
  • 1 Tablespoon White Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 Teaspoon of cracked black pepper
  • 1 Small to Medium Jalapeno, chopped. The seeds make it spicy, so it is up to you on the amount of seeds you’d like to use ($0.98 per pound at Sprouts).
  • 6 Tablespoons (divided into 6 pieces) of Salted Butter. If you use unsalted then add 2 teaspoons of fine salt.
  • 3/4 cup of small chunks of cheddar cheese (on sale at $2.88 per pound at Sprouts)
  • 3/4 Cup of Milk or 1/2 & 1/2 (available RBST free at Trader Joe’s for $1.99 for 1 Quart)

Directions

  1. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and pepper in a bowl and mix with a whisk.
  2. Throw all the butter in a bowl then use your fingers to rub butter with flour, piece by piece, until the flour looks like tiny peas.
  3. Mix in chopped jalapeno. Use your hands to mix to make sure that the jalapeno is evenly spread.
  4. Mix in cheddar chunks. Use your hands to make to make sure that the cheese is also spread evenly.
  5. Pour in 3/4 cups of milk (I use 1/2 & 1/2) in increments and mix the dough with a wooden spoon as your pouring the milk. Once all the milk is mixed with the flour, you should have a loose dough.
  6. Sprinkle flour on a board. Place the loose dough on top of the board and pat it into a rectangle that is about 1/2 inch thick. Visually divide the dough in 3 equal parts then fold the dough like a business letter. Pat it into about 3/4 inch thickness.
  7. Divide the dough into 8 biscuits and place on baking sheet. Bake for about 12-15 Minutes until the top is light golden brown.  Remove from sheet for the biscuits to cool.

Now, you get to enjoy wonderful biscuits oozing cheddar cheese and a spicy finish.  Transform the biscuit into mini sandwiches.  I made one with thinly sliced honey smoked ham, field greens, and caramelized onion.

Cheddar Jalapeno Biscuits

Cheddar Jalapeno Biscuits

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Biscuit Sandwich layered with thinly sliced honey smoked ham, field greens, and caramelized onion.
Dietz Watson honey smoked ham is available at Sprouts for $10.00 per pound or $7.99 per pound on sale. Organic field greens also available in bulk at $4.99 per pound, so you can get what you need.

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Easy Homemade Falafels

March 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

Falafel is a Middle Eastern ball of goodness made from mashed chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) and a combination of herbs and spices.  The best ones I have ever had were from Maoz in Barcelona, a popular chain that (I believe) originated in Spain. I have yet to find a yummy Falafel in San Diego.  I tried ones from Jimbos; they tasted like cardboard. I also bought some from a Middle Eastern cafe; they were stale by the time I arrived home. Huge disappointments on my falafel hunt!

Honestly, the Kraft commercial featuring Falafels reminded me of that crispy first bite followed by the soft and warm taste of chickpeas, cumin, garlic, and parsley.  I searched on Google for an easy recipe. Luckily, I found one that only takes about 15-20 minutes to make.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Can of Garbanzo Beans, drained ($0.89 or $1.19 for Organic at Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 Tablespoons of Garlic, minced (about 2 large cloves)
  • 3/4 Teaspoon of Cumin, ground (available by bulk at Sprouts Farmer’s Market)
  • 1 Teaspoon of Coriander (cilantro seed), ground. I used 1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh cilantro instead.
  • 2 Tablespoons of fresh Italian Parsley, finely chopped ($0.50 a bunch at Sprouts)
  • 2 Tablespoons of Flour
  • 1/4 cup of Canola or Vegetable oil for frying

Directions:

  1. Prepare the herbs and spices and combine them with the Garbanzo beans in a large bowl. Mash them with a large fork until it becomes a paste.  You can also use a food processor, but it is totally unnecessary.
  2. Once it’s a paste, pour in flour and mix well.
  3. When it’s all mixed together, form them into 1-2 inch balls and smash them into about 1 inch thickness.
  4. Heat oil just over medium heat in a frying pan or medium pot
  5. Place about 5 falafels in the pan.  Fry each side for 1-2 minutes or until golden brown. Fork them out (without stabbing them) and  place on a plate to let them slightly cool. You’ll get about 12 – 15 Falafels.

Serve over Salad or enjoy them as a wrap.  I had mine with a salad, pita, and hummus. If I were fancier, I would call it a deconstructed Salad.

Homemade Falafels

Homemade Falafels

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The total cost is approximately $2.00, and  the parsley can be used for a Spanish Chicken, but that will be for next time.

This recipe was adapted from about.com.

Chile Verde con Puerco

March 15, 2013 § Leave a comment

Dining out costs at least 3 times more than dining in. Once beverages, tax, and gratuity are included, the cost is closer to at least 4 times.  Business Insider recently published an article on how the restaurant industry saw its worst decline in revenues from 4th Qtr 2012 to present day while grocery store revenues have seen steady increases.  Looks like people are catching on!

So, if you’ve also caught on to the trend of dining in, consider making Chile Verde con Puerco, a recipe I found in Padma Lakshmi’s Tangy, Tart, Hot & Sweet.  I love this recipe not only because of it’s simplicity, but it was an opportunity to cook with Tomatillos (the main ingredient in Salsa Verde).

Ingredients for 2-4 servings (double the amount of ingredients for 4-8 servings) | Purchased from Sprouts Farmer’s Market.

  • 3/4 lb of Pork (stew meat), $2.45
  • 1/2 lb of Tomatillos (quarted) , $0.98
  • 3 Jalapenos (chopped), $0.16
  • 1 Medium Onion (yellow or sweet – chopped), $0.43
  • Garlic (1 Clove – minced)
  • Dried Oregano (1 tablespoon)
  • Fresh Cilantro (1/2 Cup), $0.25/bunch on Sale

Optional:

  • White Wine (Charles Shaw Sauvignon Blanc from Trader Joe’s) $2.50 or whatever wine you have left over
  • Chicken or Vegetable Stock, $1.99/32 oz (you’ll only need 1 Cup)

Directions:

  1. Prep the vegetable ingredients (I’ve learned the importance of preparing ingredients. It saves more time than trying to cook and chop simultaneously. Chef’s don’t do it, and there’s a very good reason). Make sure to discard the tomatillo husks before quarting them.
  2. In a Pot (at least 2 Qrt Pot), heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat.  Once heated, throw in the pork stew meat and brown all sides.  When all sides are browned, toss in the onions and stir.  Let the onions cook for about 5 minutes or until glassy.   Optional: Before throwing in the onions, pour about a 1/4 cup of white wine and let it reduce for a few minutes before throwing in the onions.
  3.  When the onions are cooked, throw in the Garlic, Jalapenos, and Tomatillos.  Cook another 5 minutes or when the tomatillos have softened.
  4. Stir in oregano then pour 1 Cup of Hot Water. Cover the pot and bring the mixture to a boil.  Once that happens, reduce the heat to medium low/simmer (between 9 & 12 o’clock).  Stir every 15 minutes and let the stew cook for an hour.  Optional: Use chicken or vegetable stock as a substitute for hot water. I personally used room temperature stock instead of heating it.
  5. Once the hour is up, take the pot off the stove and stir in Cilantro. Season with salt and pepper.  Serve the stew over a bed of rice or warm tortillas. Finish with a squeeze of lime or lemon juice.  Pair the dish with a Glass of Sauvignon Blanc (that you also bought to cook with). Enjoy the stew and money you just saved!

This dish cost around $5.00 to make for 2-4 Servings.  It would have cost at least $15.00 at a restaurant, and a glass of wine definitely would have cost at least $5.00. IMG_3011

Buen Provecho!

Potage Parmentier ala Julia Child (Potato and Onion or Leek Soup)

December 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

It has been numbing to walk outside in San Diego. Thus, it has been a soup week for me.  A while ago I discovered the most simple potato soup recipe in my friend The French Chef Cookbook  by Julia Child. I think this recipe is as simple as it gets for French Cooking.  Today was the perfect day to try it.

For 6 – 8 Servings you’ll need:

  • 3 to 4 cups (sliced or diced) peeled potatoes – it ‘s about 2 medium Russet Potatoes; on sale at Sprouts for $0.50 per lb.
  • 3 Cups of thinly sliced leeks or yellow onions – it is about 1 1/2 small onions; on sale at Sprouts $0.50 per lb., leeks are more expensive at $1.99 per lb.
  • 2 Quarts (8 Cups) of Water
  • 1 TBSP of Salt
  • 1/3 Cup of Heavy Cream
  • 2-3 TBSP of Butter
  • Bacon (optional) – $2.51 for 6 slices at Sprouts or buy in single slices from Butcher Shop at Vons.

In a 3 to 4 quart sauce span – simmer the vegetables, water, and salt together partially covered for 40 to 50 Minutes until the vegetables are tender. Once the vegetables are soft, either blend in batches with a food blender or mash the potatoes and onions with a fork.  If you prefer a smooth texture, use the blender.  If you like potato chunks, go with the fork.  Season with Salt and Pepper to your taste.  Stir in the heavy cream and butter.

You’re done! Hard to believe, right?

I decided to add bacon to the soup because I wanted a rendition of the potato and bacon soup my friends and I used to have at Schlotsky’s Deli before soccer practice.  So good!

Next time, I’m going to add a touch of shredded Cheddar Cheese, Chives, and a small scoop of sour cream for a baked potato soup.  I’ll let you know how it is!

All together, this soup required 10 minutes of actual effort and cost about $3.00 for 6-8 servings. Image

Chinese Cucumber Salad

November 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

Cucumbers are refreshing.  I love them plain. I love them with Ranch Dressing.  I also enjoy a simple Chinese liang ban which means “cold mix” in its literal translation, or in Western food terminology: Chinese Cucumber Salad.

My grandma’s Chinese Cucumber Salad was mixed with thin glass noodles.  Her dressing had a touch of minced garlic, which I loved, but hated because of garlic breath.

So, here’s my version.  It’s super easy.

Dressing:

  • 1 Tablespoon of Soy Sauce +/- (I used low sodium)
  • A splash of Rice Vinegar
  • A Dash of Sesame Oil and Yuzu (Japanese Lemon Juice concenrate, optional)
  • A 1/2 Tablespoon +/- White Sugar
  • A squeeze of Siracha

Mix it all and taste it.  Modify as you wish.

Prepare the cucumber with or without the skin.  My grandma would thinly slice them into rice noodle like pieces. To save time. I slice and quart.  Put the cucumber in the bowl and dress it!

This will take you less than 10 minutes, and it serves 2.

Tom Kah Soup

November 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

My friend introduced me to Thai food when I was a little fish in High School. We went to this awesome restaurant Spice n Rice in La Jolla, CA which continues to live on the quaint block of Girard Avenue after 13 + years.  Hands down, they have one of the best Tom Kah Soups I have ever had.

When I lived at home during Summers between college school years, I wanted to make this soup, but thought it was too complicated with ingredients such as lemongrass, coconut milk, and fish sauce.  Being a newbie, I seriously had no idea where to even find those items.

Well, the cold weather that San Diegans are experiencing persuaded me to take another look at the recipe, knowing that I would most likely have a different opinion about the level of difficulty.  Since I have been cooking and grocery shopping after permanently moving out of the nest, the ingredients for Tom Kah soup failed to intimdate me into making this wonderful concoction.

I Googled “Tom Kah Soup” and found the most simple recipes.  It has so many variations – some call for brown sugar. Others call for chili paste over serrano chilis. I know this soup requires Fish Sauce, but that is the one ingredient I left out because I really did not want to drive 25 minutes to get a fish sauce that I would probably use once a year.

So here are the ingredients I used:

Liquids:

  • 1 1/2 Can of Coconut Milk – $1.50 at Sprouts
  • 32 Oz of Chicken Broth or Vegetable Broth -$1.50 (on sale at Sprouts) or $2.00 at Trader Joe’s

Greens, Veggies, Fruit, and Herbs:

  • 3 Stalks of Lemongrass $5.99/lb
  • 1 Onion $0.69/lb
  • 1 Small Piece of Ginger (Subsitutes for Galangal, a type of ginger)
  • 1 Bunch of Cilantro – $0.49
  • 1 Lime – $0.20
  • Serrano Chilis $0.99/lb (how many you use depends on how spicy you would like it. I used 2 and it was a medium+ spice).
  • 1 Medium Carrot
  • I Medium Broccoli Crown
  • 1/2 Bell Pepper

Directions:

  • Watch this Video on how to Prepare Lemongrass: 
  • Slice the Onions and Serrano Chillies. Slice the carrot or use baby carrots. Chop the Bell Pepper into medium sized Chunks. Slice the ginger. To peel the ginger skin, use a spoon and scrape the outside layer.

After the Prep:

  1. Bring Stock to a boil. Once boiled, throw in Lemongrass, Ginger, and Lime Juice from 1/2 Lime (some use Lime zest and save the juice for later). Bring the heat to medium low and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. Make sure to keep a lid on the pot.
  2. Meanwhile, if you decide to use chicken, brown the chicken breast or thigh chunks in a separate pan on medium high heat.
  3. After 10 minutes, pour in 1 can of coconut milk. Mix in the onions and Serranos and simmer for another 5 minutes (If the soup is clear, use more coconut milk.  I had left over light coconut milk, and had to use about 1/4 can of regular coconut milk. You want to make sure that it looks more like coconut milk than stock).
  4. Finally, throw in the vegetables and chicken. Season with salt. The soup is ready once the veggies are soft.

Garnish with Cilantro. Finish it with Siracha or Chili Oil and a drizzle of Lime Juice.  Enjoy!

Tis is an adaptation from the recipe I found on http://www.fortheloveoffoodblog.com/2012/05/tom-kha-soup.html.

There are so many versions, as I mentioned, and different ways of cooking Tom Kah. Use this one, or Google it to find a version that sounds yummy to you. Overall, the ingredients cost about $7.00 for 4-6 Servings.

Tortilla Espanola: Spanish Omlette

October 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

I grew up eating tortillas. You know, the thin pita like round made from either corn or flour then used to make tacos, burritos, tostadas, or chips. Today, after eating tortillas for over two decades, I learned the literal Spanish translation of tortilla. While the term is often associated with such previously named foods for us Southern Californians and Mexicans, in Spain, they’ll be serving an egg dish filled with goodness. Thus, tortilla in Spanish means Omelette – very different from Mexican tortilla which refers to Flat Bread. So, if you order a Tortilla Espanola, you’ll be enjoying a tapa created from eggs, potatoes, and caramelized onions.

Oddly enough, the first time I had Tortilla Espanola was at an European Tapas bar just up the street in North Pacific Beach, San Diego – far from Spain. And, it’s funny how the most simple dishes served abroad such as a Spanish Omlette can carry such a high dollar amount in the States at $6.00 for three little slices.  For less than that amount of $, I made enough to feed 4-6 people.

Tortilla Espanola needs the following:

  •  4 to 5 Eggs – A Dozen Eggs Cost $1.79 at Trader Joe’s –
  • 4 Medium Potatoes (my preference is Yukon Gold) or about 10 Fingerling Potatoes (which is what I had left over) – Potatoes range from $0.49/lb to $0.79/lb at Sprouts depending on what’s on sale or which type of potato is used.
  • 3/4 to 1 Whole Onion – Yellow Onions are on sale for $0.25/lb at Sprouts, but are usually $0.49/lb to $0.69/lb –
  • 2 1/4 +/-  Cups of Olive Oil

Please keep in mind that this is a combination of directions that I obtained from other recipes.

  1. Peel and slice potatoes thinly, sources say 1/8 inch thickness
  2. Slice onions thinly
  3. Whisk 4 to 5 Eggs in a Medium Bowl
  4. Heat about 2 Cups of Olive Oil in Skillet or Non Stick Pan at Medium High Heat. Once heated, throw in Potatoes & Onions. Season with Salt & Pepper. The heat may have to be reduced to prevent potatoes from burning. Stir frequently. Cook the mixture until the potatoes are soft.  A good indicator is when you’re able to split the potato in half with a spatula.
  5. When the Potatoes & Onions are cooked, pour them out from the pan and into the bowl with Egg. Season again with Salt & Pepper.
  6. Re-heat the pan with about 2 tbsp more of Olive Oil over medium high heat. Once heated, pour the entire mixture into the pan. Reduce the heat to low. Let the egg cook for 10 minutes covered.
  7. While the egg is cooking on the stove, turn the broiler on.
  8. When the Omlette can be lifted without sticking, transfer it on a sheet pan and broil for 1-2 minutes until the top is slightly browned. I personally did not have a clean cast iron or metal skillet. If you have a one, just place the entire thing in the oven.
  9. Let it rest for 5 Minutes
  10. Slice into pies or however you desire

Mine turned out thinner because the skillet I have is more shallow. It was still just as tasty – even better than the bar.

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