Jul 29, 2009

Udon with tofu and baby bok choy

Tofu is one of my favorite ingredients to cook with, and eat. The fact that tofu doesn't have flavor on its self makes it so easy to use in any dish. It takes on the flavor that you choose for it. I always make sure that my tofu is organic, that is the most important thing to me, cooking the dish is usually easy and fast. Talking about tofu I have to mention my favorite...smoked tofu, If you tried tofu you are not sure if you like it( happened to me first time I tried it), you should try smoked tofu. Amazing smokey flavor, taste like cheese but of course no dairy, works great cut up and sprinkled over salads. My little one is convinced is cheese so he eats it as a snack with cucumbers, red pepper and carrot sticks. Now back to my dish. I adapted this dish from food network magazine, so many easy recipes you can find on food network.


8 ounces package udon noodles
3 tbsp of sesame oil combined with 1 tbsp of vegetable oil
12 ounces package firm tofu cut in 12 pieces
11 ounces of baby bok choy ( about 7 trimmed and washed)
1 bunch scallions thinly sliced ( green onion)
Large pinch pepper flakes
3 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
pinch sugar
salt and pepper to taste.
sesame seeds to sprinkle (optional)

Pat dry the tofu and cut into 12 pieces.

Cook udon noodles according to package instructions, don't over cook, they will get mushy.
Drain reserving 1/3 cup of the cooking water.

Heat 2 tbsp of the combined oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Season the tofu with salt and pepper. Add the tofu to the skillet and sear until golden brown about 2 minutes a side. Remove from skillet and set aside to keep warm.

Add 1 tbsp of oil to the skillet and the greens. Cook tossing until just wilted. Add the scallions, red pepper flakes, the remanning 1 tbsp of oil the soy sauce and sugar. Add the reserved cooking water and heat to create a broth.

Remove from stove and add the udon noodles, toss to combine.

Sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired, serve warm.


Jul 28, 2009

Ricotta Pancakes

Pancakes are usually the breakfast of choice in our household. Therefor I'm always on the look for new recipes. Last week in one of my cooking books, called Brunch recipes for cozy weekend mornings by Georgeanne Brennan , a book full of great recipes. I found the new favorite pancake recipe, the boys simply loved those.
If pancakes are a regular at your breakfast table, then you should give this recipe a try.


2 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon or vanilla ( your choice)
4 large eggs separated
2 cups whole milk ricotta
1 1/3 cups milk
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp vegetable oil or melted butter

In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
In a different mixing bowl whisk together the egg yolks, ricotta, milk and oil.

In a different mixing bowl with electric beaters, beat the egg whites and sugar until stiff.

Add the dry ingredients to the ricotta mixture and combine just until blended. Gently, using a silicon spatula fold the egg whites into the ricotta mixture until incorporated.

Cook the pancakes on an heated oiled griddle or a frying pan. Cook the pancakes for 1 or 2 minutes a side.

Serve with your favorite jam or sirup.


Jul 27, 2009

Home made Calzones

Every morning I ask my boys what would they like to eat for lunch. Makes it easier on me, if they actually agree on what to have for lunch, if not I would probably have to cook 3 different kinds of food.
Today the answer was " something with pizza". Who can cook something with pizza? Pizza is a food all on it's on, well a food group all on it's on when it comes to my boys.
I thought about making a pizza, but no pepperoni in the fridge, just plenty of left over roasted chicken breast. Calzones was perfect for my left over chicken breast, plus is a food "with pizza in it".
O.K. the recipe like most of my recipes is doubled up. If you don't have hungry sorry, starving teenagers in the house make just half of the recipe. Also the filling is what I had handy, but be creative and use your favorite ingredients. For my husbands calzone I added some roasted red pepper cut in small pieces. Mushrooms, artichokes, onion etc.... anything you like the sky is the limit. Also this dough is excellent for pizza, just make only half the recipe for one extra extra large pizza or 2 large ones.


For the dough

4 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
2 tbsp of sugar
4 tbsp of olive oil
5 1/2 cups of flour
2 cups of warm water
1 tsp of fresh basil finely chopped.
1 tsp fresh parsley finely chopped.
2 tsp salt

For the filling

3 cups of roasted chicken breast cut small ( or the equivalent in any other kind you like: pepperoni,salami, bacon etc....)
1 bottle of pizza sauce 375 ml ( I used Primo, but you can use any kind of pasta or spaghetti sauce)
2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese

1 egg well beaten for egg wash ( optional)
parmesan to sprinkle ( optional)

Place the water in a medium size bowl ( make sure it's warm), stir in the sugar and sprinkle the yeast on top. Let stand for 10 minutes, until foamy.
In a large mixing bowl place the flour make a well in the center and add salt, olive oil, chopped herbs.

When the yeast is foamy, stir to dissolve and add to the well.

Draw the flour in the middle little by little until all the ingredients are incorporated and the dough comes together.

Turn the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for 7 to 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Place the dough in a large mixing bowl lightly oiled turning once to grease top. Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and a tea towel and place in draft free place for 30 to 40 minutes or until it doubles in bulk.

In a medium pan pour the pizza sauce ( or pasta sauce) and set over medium heat. Cook for about 25 minutes stirring occasionally, until the water has evaporated almost completely and you are left with a jam consistency sauce. Remove from the stove and let reach room temperature.
In a mixing bowl mix the cut chicken breast, mozzarella cheese and add the sauce. Mix well.

Preheat the oven to 375˚F. You will need 3 baking sheets. If using a convection oven usually you have to go about 25˚ lower ( at list my oven needs to). I used silicone mats on the baking pans but you don't really need to.

When the dough has doubled in bulk, punch down to expel the air. Divide the dough in 16 or 17 equal size potions (as I said my recipe is for hungry people).

Stretch with your hands or gently roll the dough into a circle ( or close to it), place a generous amount of filling on one half of the circle and fold the other half over the filling pressing with your fingers on the edges to seal well.

I like using a ravioli cutter to cut the excess dough and to give a decorative edge to the calzones.
But this is purely optional.

Place the calzones on the baking sheets, brush with egg wash and sprinkle with parmesan if desired. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. If baking two pans at the time, rotate the baking pans at half time to ensure uniform baking.

Serve with green salad for a great lunch.


Jul 25, 2009

Banana Walnut Brownies

What to do with the bananas that are about to go bad? I usually make banana bread, but today I was in the mood for something more chocolaty. Thanks to my son Alexander who loves cook books and he's always looking thru them, I came across a recipe that was perfect for my very ripe bananas. The recipe is from "Golden book of chocolate" which is one of Alexander's favorite book (lots of great pictures of even better deserts).
So, I end up making the brownies. Great tasting, chocolaty, not very sweet and not very dens, actually very light tasting and with just the right hint of banana. Perfection!


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp of unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
6 oz semisweet chocolate ( coarsely chopped , or chips)
3/4 cup butter
1 1/4 cups brown sugar firmly packed
1 cup of chopped walnuts (or pecans)
3 eggs large
2 firm-ripe bananas mashed

Preheat the oven to 325˚F. Butter a 11x7 inch baking pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
In a double broiler, over barely simmering water, place the chocolate, butter and brown sugar.
Make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the water. Stir until melted, remove and set aside to cool slightly.

In a different mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder,cocoa and salt. Mix.

Lightly beat the eggs and add to the chocolate mixture,add the walnuts and the mashed bananas. Mix well.

Add the dry ingredients and mix well.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, bake until dry on top and almost firm to the touch. Depending on your oven this could take between 25 to 35 minutes.

Place the the baking pan on a cooling rack and let the brownies cool completely before removing from the baking pan.

Cut into squares, and.....
..... Enjoy!

Jul 24, 2009

Cheddar Cheese Straws

I'm always on the look for great snacks. I have to, my kids eat all day long ( I have two teenagers in the house) and because potato chips and other supermarket snacks don't make my grocery list I have to find alternatives. That's one of the reasons I was so happy when I found this recipe, in one of my cooking books " Gifts from the kitchen" by Ann Kleinberg.
Very cheesy and crispy, those were an instant hit with my boys. Now I make double the recipe every time. Those straws keep in an air tight container for up to one month ( not in my house).
The recipe that follows is for about 22 to 25 straws, as I said I made double the recipe which makes about 50.


1/2 cup unsalted butter
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese grated ( 225 g)
4 oz parmesan cheese (100 g)
1 cup all purpose flour sifted
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Cream the butter in a large mixing bowl, on medium speed for about 2 minutes.

Add the grated cheddar cheese.

Add the parmesan, the flour and the worcestershire sauce. Mix on low speed until the dough comes together.

Turn the dough on a lightly floured surface and form into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 hours.

After 3 hours remove the dough from the fridge, line 2 baking sheets with silicon mats or parchment paper set aside. Divide the dough into 1 inch balls.

Roll each ball into a long thin strip. My little chef had lots of fun making those.

Place the straws on the prepared baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven of 425˚F for about 12 minutes, or until golden and crisp.

Cool on a rack, once cool store in a air tight container.

Can be served as an appetizer, or as a snack.


"Basket with Flowers" Cake

As I promised yesterday, here are some pictures with my cake.
The cake that I made yesterday at the Wilton cake decorating class.
It was so much fun, not to say how impressed my boys were with my work ( that's the best part)
I just finish course 2, and I can't wait for the course 3( in august). Until then I signed up for a 2 hours cupcake decorating workshop ( offered by Wilton). I'll let you know how that turns out.
I'm pretty happy with the way the cake turned out.

Jul 23, 2009

Cake Decorations.

Hello, hello, hello to all my followers and my visitors.
I just wanted to let you guys know what I've been up to for the past month or so.
Because my boys are on summer break so there is no driving back and forward to school several times a day, I have some free time on my hands. My mom always said to use my time wisely, and I listen to my mom.
I signed up for Wilton cake decorating classes.
I can tell you that I love it. Today is my last day of course 2, and I signed for course 3 already.
It's great, you learn how to make the icing, piping techniques, how to ice a cake to get that professional look. It's pretty much like attending edible art classes (LOL ).
I posted some pictures with my edible art. And if my cake comes out right i'll post a picture later tonight or tomorrow. Only if it is as I imagine it to be.

Here are some royal icing pansies.

Some white daises.

Yellow chrysanthemum.

Daises and pansies.

Those are my flowers for the cake that I'm going to decorate tonight in class.
Those are not perfect but I'm working on it. I have to practice some more.
Anyway if any of you has time or is interested in eatable art, I fully recommend the Wilton classes.

Jul 22, 2009

Greek style Tofu Burgers

Just because I'm a vegetarian it does not mean that I don't like burgers, actually I love burgers just not the ones made out of meat. Tofu burgers are one of my favorite meals especially in the summer. And what's not to like? Great tasting, packed with proteins, easy to make and fast.
I know that veggie burgers are available in supermarkets, but (if you are a vegetarian, or just curios)next time you go shopping check the label and see how many other ingredients are listed that have nothing to do with veggies or tofu.
I was very happy when sometime ago, on food network on the show "Cooking like a Chef" Georges Laurier made the vegan tofu burgers, the episode was called " Vegetarians Mains"
I change the recipe a little to suit my liking.


350 g extra firm tofu ( 1 package) patted dry
1/4 cup balkan style plain yogurt ( or any other style )
4 tbsp fresh dill chopped
2 tbsp soy sauce ( I used low sodium)
4 oz mushrooms ( any kind)
1 cup breadcrumbs ( I used italian)
1 tbsp olive oil.
salt and pepper to taste

Cut the mushrooms in small pieces, and cook them in 1 tbsp of olive oil in frying pan over medium heat, until all the water is released and the mushroom start to caramelize.

In a large mixing bowl I mashed the tofu with a fork, add the yogurt, the chopped dill and breadcrumbs.

Add the caramelized mushrooms. Mix well.

The mixture should be just firm without being soggy.

Form the mixture into burger shapes. You can cook them on an oiled grill or on a lightly oiled frying pan. Cook until browned on both sides. Serve on a bun with your favorite toppings and tzatzicki sauce.


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