Shakshuka

Shakshuka has always been my favorite brunch choice whenever it’s available in any restaurant we dine in. Unfortunately, not many offer this on their menu, and not everyone makes a good one. One of the best Shakshuka I ever had was the one at Art Cafe in Nyack. We went there in the fall of 2014 when my sister was visiting us. It’s a cafe that serves traditional Israeli food.

This is the first time I have ever made it, and my family enjoyed this for our Sunday brunch.

In a large skillet, saute one medium-sized chopped onion in 2-3 Tbsp. Olive oil until translucent. Add two minced garlic cloves and stir until fragrant. Add one red bell pepper that has been seeded and diced and cook over low heat until very soft, around 20 minutes. Carefully pour in one 28 oz can of whole tomatoes crushed by hand. Stir until it’s blended. Then add your spices: 1 tsp. Cumin, 1 tsp. sweet paprika, 1 tsp. Kosher salt, 1/4 tsp. Black pepper and a pinch of sugar to balance the acidity. Cook and simmer for a couple of minutes until the sauce thickens.

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Carefully crack five eggs one at a time into the skillet over the tomatoes. Cover and cook until eggs are just set or cooked to your liking. Remove from heat and sprinkle with cilantro or parsley.

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Serve hot with crusty bread and salad.

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Steamed Mussels in White Wine

This is my go-to recipe for steamed mussels. It’s from the Foodnetwork channel by Tyler Florence. I’ve been making these for the past decade, and I still remember when I first made them. It was when I bought a bag the mussels from Costco. Remember when they were still selling fresh seafood on the weekends, their bagged mussels are usually a steal, so I almost always grab some whenever I can.

The recipe calls for wine, but my kids were too young then, so I omitted it, and the dish still turned out great. I followed this recipe but instead of chicken broth, I used chicken bouillon and added 1 cup of water.

This time I followed the recipe to a tee. It’s not a classic mussels meuniere, but this is somewhat similar. I love how all the ingredients complement each other.

I served this with a baguette and a bottle of wine. A side salad would also be wonderful addition to complete the meal.

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Longanisa, Kale and Ricotta Quiche

I love to experiment with flavors and use Filipino ingredients in western cuisine. This is what makes cooking fun and exciting for me. I like to surprise my family with new and unfamiliar dishes, and being adventurous, they more than welcome anything I serve.

This was something I came up with for a weeknight dinner. We wanted something light, so I thought of making a quiche.

First, make your crust. You can do this ahead of time. In a bowl, place 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 tsp. Salt and 7 Tbsp. Unsalted cold butter cut into small cubes. Cut the butter into the flour using a pastry blender until it resembles cornmeal. Then gradually add 3 tsp. Iced water and continue mixing until the dough comes together. Transfer dough onto a clean work surface and form into a disk. Place it on a sheet of cling wrap and refrigerate for about 1 – 2 hours.

Preheat your oven to 375 F. Remove the pastry dough from the fridge. On a lightly floured board, roll your dough into an 11″ circle. Carefully roll them out on a 9″ fluted tart pan. Gently press the dough on the pan and the edges of its fluted side. Using a knife or a rolling pin, cut off excess pastry. Place a piece of parchment paper over the pastry and fill it with dried beans or rice. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling: In a large bowl, combine 7 eggs, 2/3 cup milk (I used skim), and 2 Tbsp. Grated parmesan cheese and 1/4 tsp. Kosher salt and 2 cups baby kale. Pour the egg mixture into the pre-baked pie shell.

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In a small bowl, place 1/2 cup ricotta cheese (I used skim ricotta), 4 Tbsp. grated parmesan cheese, and mix until just incorporated. Spoon the mixture all over the pie shell. Dot about 3/4 cup of cherry tomatoes that has been sliced and about 1/2 cup of crumbled cooked longanisa all around the ricotta mixture. I used chicken longanisa patties, or you can take the meat out of the casing of any packaged longanisa of your choice. Place your pie pan on a baking sheet and bake at 350F for 50 – 55 minutes. Note: you can wrap the edge of the pie with foil to prevent burning.

Cool slightly before cutting. The quiche can be served warm or at room temperature.

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Apple Galette

Fall is the best time to make any dessert from apples. I almost always do apple crisps because it’s a family favorite. This year however, I wanted to try something different. So I made Apple Galette. My older sister says this is the only thing she makes because it is good and so easy.

First, make your pastry by placing in bowl 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 tsp. Sugar, 1/4 tsp. Salt, one stick cold unsalted butter. I use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the flour, then gradually add 1/3 cup of ice water. Continue to blend until the mixture just comes together; you should still see small pieces of butter in the dough. Gather into a ball, then place in a cling wrap and refrigerate until chilled, around 30 minutes to an hour.

Prepare the filling: Peel and core four medium-sized apples (I used honey crisp). Cut it into about 1/8 thick slices. Drizzle half a lemon to prevent it from discoloring. Pre-heat your oven to 400 F

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Roll our your pastry on a lightly floured board into an 8 – 10 inch diameter. Transfer to a parchment lined rimmed baking pan. Arrange the apple slices into a concentric circle within an inch of the edge. I made sure it’s slightly overlapping. Drrizzle one tablespoon honey over the apples. Then sprinkle a mixture of 2 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon evenly on top of apples. Dot all over with 1 tablespoon butter. Bring the pastry up over the apples to create a one inch border. Place in the center rack of oven and bake for 50 minutes to an hour, until pastry is crisp and apples are tender. Serve warm.

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Anko Toast with Half Boiled Eggs

Kaya Toast with Half Boiled Egg is a classic Kopi Tiam breakfast in Singapore and Malaysia. It’s served with a Hainanese-style coffee. Kaya is a sweet, creamy coconut jam made of coconut cream, beaten eggs, and palm sugar infused with pandan leaves. During a layover last spring, my girls and I tasted this at Changi Airport.

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Anko is a Japanese sweetened red bean paste that is spread on toast. This is also called Ogura toast which became popular in Nagoya and is usually served in cafes as part of a “morning set.” This is typically served with a boiled egg, coffee, and a salad. I have written a post on Ogura toast a while back, and you can read it here.

I found that these two Asian breakfast share similarities, so I combined the two. I wanted Kaya toast that morning, but sadly don’t have any. I did have some Anko butter spread that I recently purchased from Muji, so I ended up making this.


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First, make your half-boiled egg. Take 2-3 eggs out of the fridge and let them sit at the counter for around 15-20 minutes to take out the chill. Get a saucepan and fill it with enough water to cover the eggs. When it comes to a boil, remove from heat and add 1/2 cup cold water, then gently lower your eggs one at a time using a spoon. Cover and let stand for 6 minutes. Then promptly remove the eggs from the pan. Gently crack the eggs with the back of a spoon and let the yolks slip out into a bowl. Then scoop the remaining egg whites inside the shell; this will be very soft and silky. Add a few drops of soy sauce. (Optional)

Then toast two pieces of white bread and remove the crust. Generously spread a slice of bread with Anko, then place a thick cut of cold butter before covering it with the other piece. Then cut the toast in half.

Serve with coffee and the half-boiled egg. I like to dip the toast in the egg or the hot coffee.

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Pasta Bolognese

I have tried many different recipes for bolognese sauce but have never found something I genuinely love. It always seems to have something lacking. Maybe most recipes I follow don’t allow it to cook long enough since I have opted for the easier method.

This recipe takes about 2 hours to cook, so make sure to consider that when you decide to make this for dinner. The directions are very straightforward, and it uses simple ingredients. This is not my own, by the way, but adapted from this site.

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The type of pasta you need to use is also crucial; for authentic bolognese pasta you will need a wide flat pasta like pappardelle or tagliatelle. It would be best if you had a strong pasta with a large surface area that can carry a heavy sauce like bolognese. But if you can’t find any fettucine or spaghetti will do. The only change I made was to use Beef bouillon diluted in water since I didn’t have any Beef broth and added the required amount of liquid.

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Ube Toast

After trying out the Ube French Toast at Parkside Eats, which was utterly delicious by the way, I told myself I would make something similar. I wanted a dish that would not be too sweet since I am trying to cut back our sugar intake. We thoroughly indulged ourselves the past Summer and it’s time to make some changes to our diet.

I originally thought of mixing mascarpone cheese with some ube halaya. The thing is I forgot to pick up some on my recent grocery run. I just improvised and used some whipped cream in place.

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To make the spread, place 2-3 Tbsp. Ube Halaya (I just used a pre-made bottled one), 1 Tbsp. Ube Spread from Trader Joe’s and 1/2 tsp. Ube Flavoring for color. Beat until smooth then add 3/4 cup heavy cream and whip until still peaks form. Place the spread in a piping bag. Using a Wilton 2A tip pipe it on your toast using a zigzag motion. Enjoy !

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Hainanese Chicken Rice

I first had Hainanese Chicken during a Family trip to Singapore in May 1990. My older sister first tried it at a Hawker Center and it became our favorite dish. I didn’t know why we never did try to make it at home. It was only after all of us got married that we thought of preparing it ourselves. My sisters back home always served it for their families, but I was daunted by it.

Until I recently discovered an easy way to make it. This is adapted from the recipe on the website Marion’s Kitchen , I did make some modifications of my own.

To make I used two pieces Bill Evans Whole Chicken Legs. Traditional recipe calls for using a whole chicken but I find using parts is easier. First Rub your chicken all over with kosher salt and rinse well. Trim excess fat and set it aside to be used for the rice.

Place your chicken legs in a wide enough pot and add 4-5 slices ginger and 4 spring onions and pour enough water to cover. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil then immediately lower heat. Cover and continue cooking at a gentle simmer for about 35 – 40 minutes. Once chicken is done, immediately plunge in an ice bath for around 3 minutes to stop cooking. Pat dry with paper towels and rub chicken with sesame oil.

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While the chicken is cooking, prepare your rice. Heat 4 Tbsp. vegetable oil and 1 tsp Sesame oil in a pot or skillet. Then add your chicken skin trimmings, three cloves minced garlic, 1 Tbsp. Minced ginger and 1 tsp salt. Cook until spices are fragrant. Add two cups of Jasmine rice and cook until it’s coated with the aromatics. Transfer the rice mixture to a rice cooker, add two cups of the poaching broth, and cook until done.

Carfefully remove bones before slicing your chicken. To serve place chicken pieces on a plate around a cup of rice and some cucumber slices. Serve with a ginger scallion and soy dipping sauce.

To make ginger sauce, place 1/2 cup finely chopped scallions, 2 Tbsp finely minced ginger in a bowl and add 1 tsp. salt. Heat 1/4 cup vegetable oil and 1 tsp. sesame oil until hot. Then carefully pour over the ginger and scallions. Stir until well combined.

For the soy dipping sauce, combine one tablespoon oyster sauce, three tablespoons dark sweet soy sauce, one tablespoon light soy sauce, and two tablespoons reserved chicken poaching broth in a saucepan, heat until slightly thickened.

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Beef Chili

I rarely make chili since I find it too American and didn’t grow up eating it. My daughters, however, love it, and when the weather starts becoming coo grouler, they repeatedly request this for dinner.

Last night was a Chili kind of weather, it’s only the beginning of Fall but the temperature dropped to a high 40SF. I brought out my Staub since I have a feeling I will be making a lot of soups and stews in the days ahead.

To make, saute one medium size chopped white onion in about 2-3 Tbsp—of olive oil. Cook until translucent, add four cloves of minced garlic, and continue cooking for about 2 minutes. Once the garlic is fragrant, add 1 lb of ground beef and 1/2 tsp. of black pepper. Cook until the meat has browned all over; this will take about 5-8 minutes. Then add your seasonings: 2 Tbsp. Chili powder, 2 Tbsp. Cumin, 2 Tbsp. Sugar, 2 Tbsp. Tomato paste, 1 tsp. Salt. Saute until everything is well combined. Then add one 15 oz can of diced tomato and one 16 oz. Can red kidney beans (drained), one 8 oz can tomato sauce, one beef bouillon, and 1 1/2 cups water. You may use beef broth in place of beef bouillon. Simmer for 15 – 20 minutes while stirring occasionally. When done, scoop into bowls and top with a dollop of sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, and some chopped scallions. We like to squeeze some lime too. My girls love to add corn chips to their bowls for added crunch. We had it with pita bread and a side of salad.

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Asparagus Tart

Asparagus is available all year round, but it’s best during spring. It’s the vegetable that heralds the arrival of this season. It’s also so versatile and easy to prepare that you can serve it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

April is its peak. I made this Asparagus Tart last Easter, and it became the star of our brunch.

To make you need a sheet of puff pastry; you can get this frozen from any grocery store. I bought the Dufour brand from our local Whole Foods. Keep in mind that you must defrost it for 2-3 hours in the refrigerator for the easiest handling.

Preheat your oven to 400F. Roll out your pastry crust into a rectangle roughly 10 x 16 inches on a lightly floured surface. Make sure to trim uneven edges. Carefully place this on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Then, lightly score your pastry dough with a sharp knife all around one inch from the edge. With a fork, prick dough inside the marking you just made. Then bake it for around 12 minutes, and use a timer. When done, cool slightly.

Wash your asparagus and trim and cut the lower fibrous end. Blanch your asparagus for 2-3 minutes until they are bright green, then drain and quickly immerse in a bowl of ice water to stop cooking. Drain and pat dry and set aside.

In a bowl, mix 1 cup grated fontina, 1 cup grated gruyere cheese (you may substitute Swiss or Emmental), two large egg yolks, 3 Tbsp. Milk, 1/4 tsp. Salt and pepper and a pinch of nutmeg. Pour the cheese mixture evenly on your puff pastry. Meanwhile, drizzle your asparagus with some olive oil and season with a bit of salt and pepper. Arrange your asparagus on top of the cheese mixture, then sprinkle with lemon zest. Bake for another 15-18 minutes until golden, and the cheese is puffy. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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