Garlic and Ginger Shrimp

Image

Yum!

Most of my recipes I either learn from a friend or family member or I find them on the Internet. This is one of the few recipes that I came up with myself. It is very flavorful and very easy. The hardest part is deveining the shrimp, which is more tedious than difficult. I actually find it to be somewhat relaxing.

I put this recipe together with a friend for a dinner party. I originally served it with spring rolls as an appetizer, but I like this recipe so much that I think it can stand on its own. I like to cook meals that are inspired by Chinese flavors. I would love to visit China and get a real sense of what authentic Chinese cooking is like. Unfortunately, I have not had the opportunity to do so yet.  It would be a fantastic opportunity to learn more about Chinese flavors, Chinese culture and hopefully help improve my rice making technique too.

I have a good friend from Malaysia and she makes the most wonderful Chinese food. She has shown me how to make rice properly, but mine does not come out nearly as well as hers. I will have to keep practicing. She did give me some really good advice about making fried rice. She said that it is better to use leftover rice for fried rice because it is firmer and drier than rice that has just been prepared. I did not have the foresight to seek her rice making counsel the day before I made my Garlic and Ginger Shrimp and consequently my rice was not as dry as it should have been.

Lesson learned.

As you can tell from the picture, I paired my shrimp with fried rice and some shredded carrots. I stir-fried the carrots at the same time as the shrimp. Next time I think I will steam some vegetables separately and then make a little extra marinade to spoon over them. Shrimp cooks super fast, so I overcooked mine slightly in an effort to soften my carrots a little more. It was still very tasty, but I think I should have taken the shrimp out of the pan a minute sooner than I did.

Happy Eating 🙂

3-4 tbs low sodium soy sauce

1 tbs oyster sauce

1 inch of ginger, finely chopped

2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

3-4 scallions finely chopped

1 tsp sugar

2 tsp allspice or Chinese 5-Spice

Optional:

1 chili, finely chopped or

1 tbs chili garlic sauce

½ lbs shrimp, cleaned and deveined

1-2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

1)   In a medium bowl combine all the marinade ingredients together. Taste a tiny bit on your finger. Adjust seasoning if necessary.

2)   Clean and devein the shrimp if necessary. Mix shrimp in the marinade and allow to sit for about a half hour.

3)   Heat olive oil in a wok or frying pan until it starts to sizzle.

4)   Using a spoon, scoop the shrimp out of the marinade and put into the pan.

5)   Stir-fry the shrimp for about 30 seconds before adding the remainder of the marinade.

Serve with rice and vegetables

Advertisements

Snowflake Cake: To Fondant or Not to Fondant?

Image

If you look closely, you should be able to see the sparkle from the cake dust. It creates a very nice snowy effect.

Image

Having the fondant stick around an edge was tricky. I think it worked reasonably well.

If you are anything like me, then you love to watch baking shows. I like the ones with competitions, the ones about a bakery and the good ol’ fashioned this-is-how-you-make-this-at-home ones. I like it all.

While salivating in front of my TV I did notice that fondant has become very trendy. I come from a family where everyone has a homemade birthday cake, and frosting from a can is unthinkable. I don’t even like thinking about it now.

I had never tried a cake with fondant. I had no idea what it was really like. It was just a big sugary question mark in my mind. I had heard some rumours that fondant isn’t very tasty. Maybe I’m too conventional, but I was apprehensive about putting something that isn’t tasty on my very tasty cake.

Still, some of the work that people do with fondant is really amazing. I always marvel over Cake Boss and Ace of Cakes (not the surrounding drama, just the cake decorating). Fondant enables you to do decorative things that are probably impossible to do with buttercream. Also, a layer of fondant over your cake creates a nice, neat, flat surface, which is harder to do with buttercream (you may have noticed that my frosting skills can use some improvement).

There are definitely valid reasons to use fondant. My question was, “Is it really worth it?” Expertly decorated or not, cakes are meant to be eaten. I have an endless amount of appreciation for extreme cake decorating (when the cake looks like a pirate ship, or the Eiffel Tower etc), but if the taste does not live up to the pretty picture… then I just don’t see the point!  So to bring an end to a lot of ado… I went to Michael’s and bought fondant.

My initial reaction is that kneading it into a workable texture is a lot like playing with Play Dough. No complaints from me there. My next step was to do the obvious: rip off a tiny piece and taste it. Now I have complaints: I found it to be flavorless and it felt like I had swallowed some gum. Footnote: you can flavor fondant, but that isn’t going to fix the gum-like consistency issue. Still, I’d come so far… I took out the rolling pin and covered my counter in confectionary sugar. In my opinion, the time to back out is well before you’ve made a mess of your kitchen.

I made some very pretty snowflakes (I felt like being festive for the holiday season), which I dusted in pearl cake dust (also, from Michaels. I am definitely a big fan of the cake dust). I pressed the snowflakes onto the cake (vanilla buttercream is the most delcious adhesive). The snowflakes that bend around an edge in the cake did not stick quite as well as the ones that were completely flat, but I suppose that is to be expected.

I thought the cake was very pretty (for a first fondant attempt). I would like to be a little more ambitious next time. Still, this was only my first date with fondant, so I’d like it get it know it a bit better before things get wild.

Much to my relief, on the finished product, you could not even taste the fondant. It seems that in small doses, fondant blends into the background, which is a good thing. I’ve never tried a cake that has a lot of fondant on it. I encourage anyone who has to leave a comment sharing your thoughts. I don’t know what to expect from a cake with a lot of fondant, but I am curious.

I also readily acknowledge that I did not make my fondant myself. I don’t know that it would make a significant difference in taste. I find that DIY is usually better than store bought. The reason I did not make the fondant from scratch is that since I had never used it, I really had no idea what kind of consistency I should be looking for. By the time I finish using the package of fondant I bought, I will probably be comfortable enough to try making it myself.

I’ve included the recipe for both the vanilla cake and vanilla buttercream. I love them individually and together. I’ve experimented with different recipes on occasion, but this is what I always come back to. Some things are classic for a reason.

I am planning to make from scratch a very extravagant gingerbread house. Keep on watch for the results. I may even break out the fondant.

Happy Eating 🙂

Vanilla Cake

2 2/3 cup sifted flour

3 ½ tsp baking powder

¾ tsp salt

¾ cup butter

1 2/3 cup granulated sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

3 eggs

1 cup milk

  1. Lightly butter and flour 2 9’’ cake pans and preheat oven to 375F
  2. Cream butter, sugar and vanilla extract.
  3. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.
  4. In a separate bowl (I just use the measuring cup) combine flour, baking soda and salt.
  5. Alternate between adding flour mixture and milk to the butter mixture.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Allow the cakes to cool before removing from pans. The cakes should be completely cool when you frost them.

Vanilla Buttercream

1 lb Domino Confectioners 10-X Sugar

½ cup soft butter

1/8 tsp salt

2 tsp vanilla extract

3-4 tbsp milk

  1. Cream 1/3 of sugar with butter and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Blend in vanilla extract, 2 tbsp milk and remaining sugar into the mixture.
  3. Gradually still remaining milk into frosting until desired spreading consistency is reached.

Scrambled Omelette: spinach, feta & spring onions

scrambled omelette: spinach, feta & spring onions

Image

Scrambled Omelette with a side of toast. Yum!

If there was an omelette island, the spinach and feta combo would be its king. Spinach and feta is a great combination in general, but I particularly like it with eggs. Feta cheese gives eggs the saltiness that they desperately desire and the spinach is fresh and mild. I added green onions because I like my eggs to have an onion-y flavor. I do think that on this occasion, the feta overpowered the green onions, so next time I will probably add more green onions to see if they hold their own a little better.

I have to confess that I am extremely picky about eggs. I only started eating eggs last year, and now I like them a lot… if they are cooked to my specifications. I like them well done and well seasoned so that they don’t taste eggy. If you like your eggs less well done then you should add the feta cheese when you add the eggs so that the eggs don’t overcook (See Step 6 below).

Despite my reggservations, I think eggs, in general, and this recipe can be used for breakfast, lunch or dinner (today I had it for lunch). One of my goals is to incorporate more protein into my diet (if it were possible to sustain myself on bread alone I would!) and eggs, full of protein, are a nice alternative to a boring old sandwich (despite being carbolicious—I really don’t like sandwiches. Don’t even get me started)! It also works well, because if you are a carboholic, like me, then you can indulge your craving by supplementing the meal with some toast. If I made this for dinner I might accompany it with some hash brown style potatoes, which are more substantial than toast. Should be delicious either way.

I suppose by now you’re wondering why I haven’t explained why I call this a “scrambled omelette”. The answer is simple: flipping omelettes isn’t one of my talents. I intend to practice, but today I was hungry and was in no mood to dither around the kitchen, attempting to make my eggs into a beautiful, well shaped omelette. Anyway you shake it, eggs are eggs and I don’t think eggs ever look that attractive. I typically cook my eggs scrambled style, it’s easier and it allows me to make sure my eggs are nice and well done. So I think of it as a scrambled omelette because the eggs are scrambled, but it has fun stuff in it, like an omelette.

Recipe:

2 tblspn extra virgin olive oil

2 large eggs

a drop of milk

2 spring onions (aka green onions or scallions)

handful of baby spinach leaves

hunk of feta

  1. Heat up olive oil in a frying pan to a medium heat, while the pan is heating up chop the spring onions finely. After this is done add spring onions to the pan.
  2. Roll the baby spinach leaves into a ball and slice with a chopping knife so that the spinach is cut into nice ribbons. The spring onions shouldn’t need too much attention, but give them a stir and shake every few minutes to make sure they don’t burn.
  3. If your feta cheese is not pre-crumbled, cut a chunk off and break up into crumbly pieces. Add spinach leaves to the pan with the spring onions. Mix together.
  4. In a separate bowl whisk your eggs, add milk and whisk again. The milk measurement should be approximately the same as what you would add to a cup of coffee.
  5. By this point the spinach leaves should have reduced considerably and you are ready to add the egg mixture. Stir the ingredients so that the spinach and spring onion is well mixed with the eggs. Let cook, stirring occasionally until the eggs have begun to solidfy.
  6. Once the eggs are semi-solid, add the feta cheese. Mix so that the feta is well interspersed with the other ingredients.
  7. Stir occasionally, as you would scrambled eggs. When the feta is melted into the eggs it is ready.

Happy Eating 🙂

Cinnamon and Banana Crumble Muffins

Cinnamon and bananas is one of my favorite flavor combinations. I even contemplated it as a name for this blog because I love it so much! I found this recipe on allrecipes.com and I think it is really delicious. If you are skeptical, on allrecipes.com it has 5 stars and almost 7500 reviews. If almost 7500 people can agree something is delicious then it is probably worth investigating. Right?

I did tweak the recipe slightly…

I added 1 tsp vanilla extract and 3 tsp cinnamon to the muffin batter and in the muffin crumble used 1/4 tsp cinnamon instead of 1/8 tsp cinnamon. In my opinion the cinnamon was not at all overpowering, and gave a nice undercurrent of flavor to the muffins. If you aren’t hot for cinnamon then try the original recipe first. You can always spice things up next time.

In addition, I strongly recommend using very ripe bananas. The recipe does not specify this, but I am. If you use bananas that are not ripe enough your muffins will not have a strong and rich banana flavor. I once made banana bread (one of my all time favorite recipes, I will post it next time I make it) with yellow bananas without many spots… it wasn’t the same, trust me! Or don’t. Your choice entirely. Either way, if you have thoughts, a similar recipe or other recommendation let me know.

Happy Eating 🙂

Image

End result. Wish they rose a little bit more, but were very delicious!

Image

Ideal banana muffin/bread bananas. Penguin sticker: optional.