Monday, May 27, 2013

Shish Taouk (Chicken Skewers)

Arabic-spiced chicken skewers is known by many names... Persian Jujeh Kabab, the Turkish Tavuk Şiş Kebap, the Azerbaijani Toyuq Kababi, the Moroccan Brochette, and this Syrian Shish Taouk. I just chose the Syrian name because it sounded really nice. Arabian cuisine is one of the most wonderful and healthy cuisines out there, yet it remains underrated here in our country. It looks intimidating to make but really it's not! As long as you have the 3 basic spices - curry, cumin and turmeric, it is easy to turn your everyday food into the exotic.

Here's how to:

Cut chicken into cutlets and season liberally with curry, cumin, turmeric, salt, pepper and olive oil

Skewer onto sticks and grill

For the side dish, roast tomatoes and onions in a pan drizzled lightly w/ olive oil. season with s&p and rosemary

Serve with flat bread and with a cucumber yogurt sauce (sauce: cucumber chunks, add yogurt and a little salt)

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Basic Chicken Wrap

Wraps are so easy to make. As long as you have good fresh tortilla, you can make several variations of this type of sandwich. Serve alone for a light meal or with soup for a fuller meal.

available in major supermarkets

prep your veggies - tomato, cucumber and lettuce

slice your chicken thinly and season with salt, pepper and dried oregano

warm up your tortilla by placing them on top of the stove on low heat. start layering.

layer the lettuce, chicken, tomato then cucumber slices

drizzle with sour cream and you are done!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Poached Pears With Dark Caramel Sauce

Easy and elegant. What more can you ask?

a different plating design

Spiced Wine (Poaching Liquid)

You can use this poaching liquid recipe which I used for my baked apples:

Use the same process to make the spiced wine. Basically, it's star anise, cinammon barks, 1/4 part red wine, 3/4 part water, juice of 1/2 or 1 orange and it's zest.

Poached Pears

Peel and poach the pears in boiling liquid for 30 minutes or until tender when poked through with a bbq stick. If the liquid is not enough to submerge the pears, just turn them once or twice every 10-15 mins. Allow to cool before dousing with caramel.

Dark Caramel Sauce

A dark caramel sauce is smoky and less sweet than the regular one since I used brown vs white sugar.

1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp butter
1/4 cup cream

In a pan, melt sugar and bring to a boil, constantly whisking throughout the process. once sugar bubbles, add butter. take it out of the stove immediately and add the cream. constantly whisk until smooth. let it cool and pour onto pears. Sprinkle with sea salt if you want a salted caramel version.

Although mine's a bit messy, it's always good to try to be creative with the presentation. I added droplets of cream and used a toothpick to create shapes that looked like mini-pacmans. When I drizzled the caramel, it went down into the liquid in cool snake shapes.

Veggie Patties With Gravy

"As long as you have the 3 basic ingredients in cooking: Imagination... the Senses... and Love, you can't go wrong."

It's the weekend and we all deserve a full and scrumptious breakfast meal. Try these fritters and you will never ever give plain old potato hash browns any further thought.

Veggie Patties

Boil potatoes and carrots (optional: garbanzo beans) and wilt spinach with it at the very end. Chop the spinach into smaller pieces later.

Tip: Boil only half-way through. You still need a firm texture since if it's too mushy, the patties may fall apart during the frying process.

In the meantime, saute some scallions and season with salt & pepper.

Once done add to the rest of the vegetables. Mash the mixture to a chunky pulp. Season again once more then start forming into patties.

Proceed with frying up the veggie fritters until they form a golden crust on each side.

Note: The patties are already cooked. By frying them, your aim is just to form a crust. You can also opt to bake instead of fry.

Adding a beautiful sunny side up and/or a couple of strips of crisp bacon is a great idea. Serve it with gravy.

Simple Onion and Beef-flavored Gravy

Saute some finely chopped onions with olive oil then lightly sprinkle with flour. Cook through then add a small portion of a beef cube (1/4 of the cube will do) and some water. Stir and simmer until thick.

Hope you enjoy making and eating breakfast!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Summery Baked Apples

This is an apple dish and the blog is aptly titled "apple cheeks" but by no means this blog is just about everything apples. Rather this blog hopes to celebrate food - beautiful flavors, simple home cooking, the health and comfort it brings to the hungry and the elegance it brings out from the maker. I hope through this, I can share with everyone one of my passions in life... food.

It's summer and the market is brimming with apples. This recipe I made combines fresh with musky. Imagine, the scent of apples and oranges embracing the warmth of earthy grains, nuts, spices and wine. Summer may be almost gone but this will instantly transport you to a sunset picnic in the open country.

Prepare the poison

In a pot, toss in a few cinnamon barks, star anise, a couple of orange slices and combine with a generous serving of red wine (left-over wine that's been sitting in your ref some time is the best option), some water, the juice of an orange and it's zest.

Bring to a boil and let it simmer for 5 mins.

Transfer to a baking dish.

In the meantime, the apples and the filling....

Take the core out from the top of each apple with a small knife (core only 3/4 through). I used one Gala and one Washington apple.

Prepare the trail mix. Combine oats, nuts (I used almond, cashew and unsalted peanuts), dried fruit (like raisins, dates, apricots and others), a few chocolate chips and brown sugar and stuff it in the cored apples.

 Place the apples on the baking dish and add a small pat of butter on top of each.

Pop into the oven 200 degrees C for 30 min. or until the apple is tender inside (you can poke it with a barbecue stick to test for doneness. The skin of the apple will wrinkle when you take it out of the oven so don't panic - your apples are NOT ruined.

Need I say that it is best served with vanilla ice cream!

Save the liquid! Store it in a jar and refrigerate. We'll use it next time to poach pears.