Monday, October 14, 2013

Braised Fennel

This week in the Pathmark supermarket sales circular, I noticed that fennel is selling at 98¢ each. 98¢ EACH! That's right! E-A-C-H! You don't always see that vegetable going for that price at a large supermarket so that's a bargain!
 If you have never had fennel, it is a vegetable that has the texture and crunch of celery but the subtle sweetness and flavor of anise or licorice. In it's raw state, it's fabulous sliced and served with fresh orange slices in a salad but when cooked, the flavor is more delicate with a soft texture.  It is popular in Mediterranean cuisine.

Here is a braised fennel recipe that I like from the October/November 1992 issue of Martha Stewart Living. It's simple and easy to make.


Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 4 medium bulbs fennel
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 cup water
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Flat-leaf parsley leaves, as garnish

Directions

  1. Trim the tops of the fennel bulbs; cut bulbs in half lengthwise.
  2. Melt butter in a large iron skillet over medium heat. Add sugar and stir until melted. Add garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add fennel, cut side down, and cook until well browned, about 5 to 10 minutes. Be careful not to let the fennel burn.
  3. Turn over bulbs and add orange juice, water, and salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low. Cover pan and cook until fennel is soft and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 20 to 30 minutes. If the pan becomes dry during cooking, add a little more water. If any liquid is left at the end of the cooking time, continue to cook, uncovered, at medium heat until the liquid evaporates. Garnish with parsley leaves and serve immediately.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

CVS Pharmacy

Consumer Value Stores (known as CVS) which is the second largest pharmacy chain in the United States, has become my favorite place to stop by to see what's on sale whether it be food, snacks, beauty products, or prescription. I used to be a die hard Duane Reade shopper but when it was acquired by Walgreens, the prices sky rocketed and the prices not competitive.

First off, sign up for the CVS membership card which will offer more saving when you swipe it at the card reader near the entrance to the store. The kiosk will spit out coupons for you on certain products as well as a possible 20% off your total purchase or $4 off a $20 purchase. Occasionally you will also receive a printed coupon on your purchase receipt. If you don't mind promotional mail, CVS will periodically send you a 25% off your purchase coupon.

Of all the pharmacy chains in NYC, only CVS seems to provide the most savings.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Recipe: Filipino BBQ Marinade

The Memorial Day holiday weekend is coming up and Americans will be grilling and barbequing as part of the annual celebration.
Here is a nice change from the store bought BBQ sauces and marinades that you may be used to. I first tasted this at a friend's rooftop BBQ cook out and was intrigued watching her making the marinade especially with the use of 7 Up. She said that it helps tenderize the meat and adds sweetness and that lemon-lime flavor. Traditionally in the Philippines, the juice of calamansi is used but here in the United States, a lemon will have to suffice.

Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup 7 Up or Sprite
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions
  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl and taste for flavor balance, you may need to add a pinch of salt or more lemon juice depending on the soy sauce you use and sourness of the lemon.
  2. Pour the marinade over the meat of your choice and marinate (chicken: about an hour, pork or beef: over night or longer).
  3. Grill and enjoy!  

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Recipe: Japanese Carrot Ginger Dressing (Revisited)

I had another carrot ginger dressing recipe posted that was very simple to make if you didn't have Japanese ingredients.
This one is another version that has more ingredients and a more complex flavor.
This recipe makes 2 cups.

Ingredients

  • 3 medium-size carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced across the grain
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • ¼ cup neutral flavored oil like canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil (I like Kadoya brand)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 4 teaspoons white miso paste
  • 2 teaspoons mirin

Directions

Place all ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend/process until a creamy puree. You may add a bit of water and mix until it is to your preferred consistency.
Keeps in the refrigerator for about a week.

Dark sesame oil is made with toasted sesame seeds and has great depth of flavor.
The miso you find at Asian markets is often sold red or white with white being the one commonly used in miso soup.
Miring is a sweet cooking wine that gives teriyaki dishes it's shiny luster.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Video: How To Make Sushi Rolls



    Making your own sushi at home can be fun and cheaper than going to a Japanese sushi bar.
You'll need to buy sushi rice which is a small grain rice that is sticky when cooked. Other ingredients needed are dried nori sheets and seasoned rice vinegar. You can find these in the Asian Foods section of a large supermarket chain or in Chinatown. Pick up an inexpensive sushi mat too.
Fillings can be endless!

Video courtesy of AllRecipes.com


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Recipe: Microwaved Sweet Potato Chips

If you have ever perused the Snack & Chip aisle in your supermarket, you might have seen sweet potato chips in those fancy black bags. Most often times they are pretty pricey, more so than regular potato chips but I had a craving for them and had mentioned how pricey they were at work. Luckily, a co-worker who happens to be a vegetarian cook suggested I try making sweet potato chips at home using a microwave. She offered some of her own samples and I was impressed!
"Use the thinnest setting on your mandoline slicer", she said "and microwave them for 7 minutes on parchment paper circle or use spray oil on a plate. They have a tendency to stick."

I learned that ONE large sweet potato yields about 4 dinner plates of chips and that everyone's microwave is a different power so 7 minutes for one person might burn the chips for someone else. After trial and error, I figured that my microwave did the job in about 5 minutes. Large sized chips took a bit longer. If they weren't crispy enough for my liking after that, I continued to cook them at 30 second intervals, watching them so that they don't burn. They are best served fresh (they're so tasty that you'll probably eat them faster than you can make them!) and have lower fat than if you fried them in oil.
Note: Smaller end slices cook in less time than large center slices.

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • fine sea salt (optional)
  • spray cooking oil

Directions

  1. Using a peeler, remove then skin of the sweet potato and cut off the pointy ends.
  2. Using your mandoline slicer set on the thinnest setting, slice the sweet potato.
  3. Arrange the sweet potato slices in a single layer on a microwave safe plate lined with parchment paper or coated with a bit of spray oil. You can sprinkle some salt on the chips now before cooking them as the moisture that escapes during cooking will help the salt adhere.
  4. Microwave at high power for 5 to 7 minutes depending on the strength of your microwave. You may have to experiment with the time to find the correct time for your microwave oven. 
  5. As you are cooking one plate, slice and prepare another.
  6. When sweet potatoes are cooked to your liking, remove and allow to cool on a paper towel. This will remove additional moisture and keep the chips crisp. Continue with the rest of the batch.
  7. Serve.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Recipe: Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta and Beans)

After a few years of being spoiled by mild Winters here (felt more like Spring), Old Man Winter has come back with a vengeance and it is bitterly cold with temperatures below freezing.  Nothing like a bowl of hearty hot soup to warm you up but what to make? If you have been keeping your pantry stocked up with basic items bought on sale such as dried pasta, tomato sauce, canned beans, and chicken broth, you can make this hearty Italian soup called "Pasta e Fagioli". Pronounced "pastah eh fahzeeohl", it has been also popularly called "pasta fazool" by American-Italians.
It started off as a peasant dish in Italy using inexpensive ingredients and what better recipe to make on a shoestring budget?
You can make this strictly vegetarian by substituting vegetable broth.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 rib celery, finely chopped
  • 4 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans cannelini or kidney beans (undrained)
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups dried pasta (traditionally ditalini is used but you can use elbow shape) 

Directions

  1. Heat a large pot over medium heat and add the oil.  Saute the herbs and chopped vegetables until soft. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Add the cans of beans with their liquid (it will help thicken the soup), tomato sauce, broth and water. Bring to a boil over high heat and then stir in the pasta. Lower heat and allow the pasta to cook for about 8 minutes.
  3. Turn off heat and remove the herbs before serving.
  4. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese on top (optional).