Sunday, April 29, 2012

jade noodles with seared scallops

The glorious color of Jade comes from the pureeing of spinach, basil, and cilantro, thus creating an Asian pesto sauce. This pesto sauce is combined with chow mein stir-fry noodles. The cilantro, also known as “Chinese parsley", contributes a hint of spicy flavor, which collaborates well with the sweet peppery taste from the basil.  There is so much flavor from the pesto that the mild flavor of seared scallops compliment the jade noodles.

This pesto sauce also includes peanuts, garlic, and freshly grated Parmesan.  How did Asian pesto originate?  The Chinese use to import jars of pesto sauce from Italy, which they added some of their own spices to.

I have a daughter named Jade. I remember looking up the name “Jade” in a book of baby names, which read “There is no gem more precious than that of a daughter”. You know what?  This description is so true!

Jade enjoying her jade noodles with seared scallops.  Scallops are her favorite and I'm so glad that she loved this dish!

One of Jade’s favorite places to go is to the Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) Lake Shrine Temple. It is a serene meditative setting near Malibu. She goes for both the service and to mediate. The grounds offer a serenity of calmness and scenic beauty. There is a portion of Mahatma Gandhi’s ashes enshrined in a memorial.

“Self-realization is the knowing — in body, mind, and soul — that we are one with the omnipresence of God...”
— Paramahansa Yogananda

jade noodles with seared scallops
Malibu Kitchen original

For the noodles:
1 6-ounce package of Chow Mein stir-fry noodles

Bring salted water to a boil. Add noodles and cook for 3 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water; set aside.

For the pesto:
¾ cup fresh spinach leaves
¾ cup fresh basil leaves
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
3 tablespoons peanuts
1 clove garlic
¼ cup Parmigianino cheese, freshly grated
½ teaspoon sea salt
1/3-cup extra virgin olive oil

In a food processor or blender, combine the spinach, basil, cilantro, peanuts, garlic, parmigianino, and salt, process until finely chopped. Then, with the motor running, pour in the oil in a slow, steady stream and process until a smooth, flowing sauce forms; set aside.

Use at once, or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 2 months.

For the scallops:
6 scallops, washed and gently patted dry
Sea salt to taste
2-tablespoon olive oil
Black sesame seeds (optional)

Rinse scallops and gently pat dry.

Sprinkle sea salt onto both sides of scallops.

In a frying pan, heat olive oil. Add scallops and sear for 3 to 4 minutes. Using tongs, gently turn scallops over and continue to cook for an additional 3 to 4 minutes. Scallops should be golden brown on the sides that touch pan. Centers should look white and opaque. Do not overcook.

To assemble:
Place noodles in a large bowl; add pesto and using 2 forks, mix to combine. Top with scallops and serve.  Scallops can be topped off with a sprinkling of black sesame seeds.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

rhubarb strawberry coffee cake

Isn’t having your breakfast outdoors one of life's simple pleasures? I awoke to a sunny morning and couldn’t stop myself from quickly whipping up a decadent breakfast coffee cake, so that I could enjoy eating it outside on my balcony. What a wonderful start to my day, with warm rhubarb strawberry coffee cake, freshly brewed coffee, an ocean view and sunshine on my face.

This rhubarb strawberry coffee cake is so simple to make, the hardest part was trying to be very quite and not wake my family. However, it wasn’t the noise that woke them; it was the sweet aroma of cake and cinnamon.

Serve this cake warm or at room temperature. It is very moist and the cinnamon topping cooks throughout the cake, adding just enough spice. The rhubarb adds a slight tartness and the strawberries balance it off with sweet deliciousness. This breakfast cake is perfect with coffee and fresh fruit.   By the way, the island in the ocean view background is Catalina.

My family asked "what is rhubarb?"  I told them "it looks like red celery and is tart".  What I didn't tell them is that it's a vegetable and is used in desserts such as pies.  If you have never tried rhubarb, do not be afraid to do so.  Once my family tasted this coffee cake, they quickly got over the idea that it resembled celery.

This is a simple and quick coffee cake to make.  A brown sugar and cinnamon topping is added before baking.  The topping bakes into the cake.

Fresh out of the oven and already a piece is missing.

I sure hope that I wake up to a sunny morning tomorrow…I’m ready for some more rhubarb strawberry coffee cake.

rhubarb strawberry coffee cake
Adapted from At Blanchard’s Table: A trip to the beach

For the topping:
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
1-teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a small bowl, blend the sugars, cinnamon, and butter, using a pastry blender or your fingers, mix until crumbly. Set aside.

For the cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup (1stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups rhubarb, cut into 1/4-inch pieces (you can use frozen or fresh.  If using frozen, be sure to thaw and dry prior to using)
1-cup strawberries, quartered

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Generously butter a 9 x 13-inch cake pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

Pour the milk into a measuring cup and add vinegar, stir and set aside.

Using a mixer, cream the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the egg and blend well.

On low speed, add the flour mixture and beat only until just blended. Add the milk and vinegar mixture, and vanilla. Mix just enough to blend – do not over beat.

Using a rubber spatula, fold in the rhubarb and strawberries by hand.

Spread the batter in the prepared pan and sprinkle with the topping. Bake until golden brown or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.

Serve warm or at room temperature. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

spring salad with cantaloupe, raspberries, prosciutto and white balsamic vinaigrette

Not only is this salad beautiful, but also it is fresh and healthy and oh so simple to make. The mixed flavors of sweet cantaloupe, tart raspberries, earthy figs, and salty prosciutto, dance ever so perfectly on your pallet.

You will want to combine these flavors, by trying to fit everything on your fork all at once.

Even more dazzling is the white balsamic vinaigrette. Make this for your next gathering and your guests will think they are eating at an organic café. This is a very simple and impressive salad to make.  Add all of the simple ingredients to a jar then shake and serve.

Malibu isn’t all beaches. It is filled with glorious, rustic canyon country full of horses, goats, ranches and wineries. Some days are meant for escaping the beach. Today, my daughter and I left the cold and foggy beach and headed up the canyon to Malibu’s Calamigos Ranch, where the temperature was nearing 90 degrees.

Calamigos Ranch sits on 130 acres of wine country and was purchased by a family over 50 years ago. Generations later, this ranch is still family owned, but today they offer it’s beautiful land to special events such as weddings. The grounds are spacious with a mini lake, vintage merry-go-round, and trees, decorated with hanging chandeliers.

We had lunch at the ranches’ outdoor café, Malibu Café. Dogs are welcomed, as long as they remain leashed. Malibu Café purchases their fresh ingredients from Malibu’s local farm. I enjoy food more when I know that it’s organically grown. Don’t you?

The Malibu Cafe @ Calamigos Ranch on Urbanspoon

spring salad with cantaloupe, raspberries, prosciutto and white balsamic vinaigrette

Adapted from La tartine Gourmande, by Beatrice Peltre

For the vinaigrette:
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
pinch of sea salt
Pinch of freshly cracked pepper

In a jar (I used a mason jar), add the olive oil, vinegar, honey, garlic, salt and pepper and shake to combine; set aside.

For the salad:
¼ cup hazelnuts nuts, toasted in frying pan for 2 minutes
4 handfuls of spring, mesclun, or fresh herb salad, washed and dried
1 cup of cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 cup raspberries
½ cup figs, cut in bite size pieces
½ cantaloupe, spooned into balls or cubed
4 slices of prosciutto
Shaved Parmesan cheese to taste

To assemble:
Divide the salad greens among 4 plates. Add equal amounts of tomatoes, raspberries, figs, and cantaloupe. Drizzle the salads with the vinaigrette and top with shaved cheese and hazelnuts.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

strawberry shortcake scones

In Malibu, you know that spring has arrived once you start seeing signs with a large strawberry posted on telephone poles along the coast. These signs signal that a truck is parked along Pacific Coast Highway, filled with farm fresh strawberries for sale.

This truck has the sweetest, biggest, and juiciest strawberries around. I purchased a five-pound box full of strawberries and just knew that I had to make one of my most favorite desserts, strawberry shortcake.

Not only did I make strawberry shortcake, but also I made it with fresh baked scones. Oh wow, was this the right decision. The strawberries were sweetened with sugar and lemon zest, which resulted in a sweet syrup.  Ahh...the strawberries were so sweet and crisp that they reminded me of what spring taste like.  The scones baked to a moist, flaky and buttery goodness, better than a biscuit or pound cake. Topped off with homemade cream, this quickly became the best (emphasis on best) strawberry shortcake that I ever ate.

My family and I ate our strawberry shortcake scones for dessert and breakfast the next day. I stored the left over scones in a zip lock bag at room temperature and kept the strawberries and cream refrigerated. I know that I’ve made something great when it’s the last thing that my family eats at night and the first thing that they want to eat in the morning.

If you decide to try the strawberry shortcake scones, be sure to pour spoonfuls of the strawberry syrup onto your scone. You will love how the scone absorbs that sweet juice. It will tickle your tongue pink.

I accidently dropped a strawberry on the floor and my dog, Dolce, gobbled it up within seconds. She continued to beg for another strawberry. So, being the softy that I am, I gave in and handed her another one. I’m not sure if strawberries are good for dogs or not, but they didn’t seem to have any effect on her. Wouldn’t you agree?

Oh yeah, the pink fur came from Malibu Grooming Co., not the strawberries.

I’m so happy that tonight is Sunday night and two of my favorite shows are on TV.  The Long Island Medium and The Real Housewives of New Jersey. I’m pretty sure that my hubby is happy too - NOT!  But he loves me so much, that he is willing to suffer for my happiness. I will continue to show him my love by making him another batch of strawberry shortcake scones.

strawberry shortcake scones
Adapted from Simply Divine by Lisa Vanderpump (The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills)

For the strawberries:
8 cups strawberries, cut tops off and slice after measuring
1 teaspoon lemon zest
¾ cups sugar

In a medium bowl, combine the strawberries and lemon zest with the sugar. Place bowl in refrigerator for approximately 20 minutes and up to 3 hours. The sugar will cause the strawberries to juice.

For the scones:
2-½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
3-tablespoon sugar
2-teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
2/3-cup whole milk
2 large eggs

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees.

In a medium bowl, sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

Add the butter, using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs with some pea-sized pieces of butter.

Mix the milk and egg with a fork to blend. Using a wooden spoon, slowly stir the milk mixture into the flour mixture just until it forms soft dough. Do not over mix.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Cut the dough into 4 to 6 equal pieces, depending on how large you want them. Scones will expand slightly when baked. Carefully shape each into a round mound. They do not have to be neat or evenly round. Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Sprinkle each of the tops with a little bit of sugar.

Bake until raised and golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and let cool.

For the cream:
1-cup heavy whipping cream
2-tablespoon sugar
1-teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Using an electric mixer beat the cream, sugar, and vanilla until soft peaks form.

Spit each scone in half horizontally. For each serving, place a scone bottom on a dessert plate, top with sliced strawberries, their juice and cream, add the scone top and serve immediately.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

parmesan gruyere potato gratin

The weather was perfect this past Easter weekend. Spring was definitely in the air and the view, magnificent! Catalina was in full view and sailboats were scatted across the ocean. I loved lying out by the pool with my hubby, reading my book (yes, a cookbook) and listening to the sounds of water falling from the pool slide and trickling out of our fountain. Makes me super excited for summer.

For dinner I made a side dish of these yummy Parmesan Gruyere potato gratin with lamb. The Parmesan added a perfect sharpness of cheese flavor, which combined well with the hint of garlic. This dish is basically mac and cheese, but with potatoes instead of macaroni.

This dish is a classic comfort food and so simple to make. Once again, I’m making a modern comfort food dish. The combination of the Parmesan and Gruyere is what gives it a modern twist.

Gruyere cheese is made of cow’s milk and produced in Switzerland and France. It has a nutty, rich flavor and melts wonderfully.

I hope you too are enjoying the beginnings of this Spring Season!

Recipe: Parmesan Gruyere Potato Gratin
Adapted by: Nordstrom Entertaining At Home Cookbook

6 tablespoons (3/4) stick unsalted butter, plus 1 tablespoon more for preparing baking dish
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups heavy (whipping) cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 ½ pounds Russet Potatoes, peeled and cut crosswise into ¼-inch slices
1 cup (reserve ¼ cup for topping) Parmesan cheese (go for the gusto and use Parmigiano-Reggiano), grated
1 cup (reserve ¼ cup for topping) Gruyere cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a large 9-by-13-inch casserole dish with 1 tablespoon of butter.

In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the 6 tablespoons butter , add the garlic and cook 1 minute, until fragrant. Add the cream, bring to a simmer, and cook, uncovered, until reduced by one-third, 12 to 14 minutes. Stir in the salt, pepper, and nutmeg and remove from heat.

In a large bowl, combine the potatoes and ¾ cup each of the Parmesan and Gruyere cheese and cream mixture, stir to combine. Transfer mixture to the prepared casserole dish. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and seal the edges well.

Bake the gratin for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and evenly scatter the remaining Parmesan and Gruyere cheese over to the top. Continue baking, uncovered, until the liquid is bubbling, the potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, and the cheese in nicely browned, about 30 minutes longer.

Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Serve directly from the dish.

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