"A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body." - Benjamin Franklin

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Salmon, Pesto Penne with Stir-Fry Garlic Spinach

Today’s post is salmon, pesto penne with stir-fry garlic spinach.  This idea is taken from my son’s creative mind in foods. As a team we created another fancy dinner for the family.
British Columbia of Canada has the best salmon. You can get this everywhere and in season all year round, and the price is not pricey. Since salmon is loaded with omega 3 and classified as brain food, our family likes to eat this very often. There are many ways of cooking salmon. Each cuisine has its own unique specialty. To name a few; Chinese like to steam it in black bean sauce or pan fried it just salt and pepper, Japanese as we all know- "Salmon Sushi" or "Salmon Sashimi" eat it raw, and the French likes it boil or pouch etc., They all have their special technique of creating this dish and always tasted delicious. What my son and I did is to boil it in salt and pepper with white wine sauce, it so simple and yet delicious.
To go with this, we used pesto penne as starch. The favor in pesto is so light fitted perfectly with the salmon. Wee touched up the dish with stir-fry garlic spinach. The whole meal takes no more than 45 minutes to complete from preparation to completion, of course with my son’s help….

  ½ of a good size salmon (serving for 3) 
·         1 lbs of fresh spinach
·         3 cups of Penne
·         2 cups of fresh basils
·         3 tablespoons of Pine nuts
·         ½ cup of parmesan cheese.
·         1 handful of grated mixed cheese (for garnish)
·         2 cups of white wine (white Zinfandel)
·         Lemon (for garnish)
·         1 teaspoon of salt
·         ½ teaspoon of pepper
·         3 cups of olive oil
·         1 ½ of fours
·         3 cups of cream
·         3 cloves of garlic (diced)



Marinate the salmon with salt and pepper. Preheat the oven to 350 degree for 5 minutes; place the salmon in the middle rack and let it bake for 10 minutes, cover it with a tin foil to trap the moisture in. On the side, create the white wine sauce for the salmon. Bring the cream to boil in a pot, add flours and stir until it becomes thicker. Add a touch of salt and pepper to adjust the taste. Finally, add the white wine in last.


Boil the pasta on a separate pot. Create the pesto sauce on the side in a blender with olive oil, salt, pepper, parmesan, fresh basils, garlic and pine nuts. Once the sauce is created, mix with penne in a salad bowl. Place a handful of mix grated cheese on top for garnish.


Bring the olive oil to boil with diced garlic. Place all the fresh spinach in and stir-fry until cooked. Once the salmon is baked, place everything on a plate and serve. It’s delicious! 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Turkey Pie:

Happy New Year everyone! It has been a very busy holidays; preparing dinners, shopping for gifts, wrapping gifts and setting up last minutes Christmas tree to celebrated these wonderful seasons. Now it has come and gone! Everything is back to normal. I wish year 2011 will brings everyone a prosperous year and might all yours dream come true.

On Christmas Day, our family had a tradition Christmas feast. All family members come together to celebrate this special day. Numerous foods were made on the dinner table and we had fun. We cooked a huge turkey for the family and as usual there were leftover. What should I do with the leftover? I've decided to make turkey pies.

For today’s post, it’s the first turkey pie I've made in life. It’s not the greatest but it’s edible. The most important part is…my family loves it. I used the leftove turkey to make into three turkey pies. I create my own dough with flours from scratch. I think they turned out great but it can still be improve. We ate one and give the other two to my in laws.


     Pie filling –

·         Leftover turkey (skinless)
·         1 cup of chopped onion
·         1 stalk celery
·         4 carrots (cut in small cubes)
·         1 cup peas
·         1 cup of green beans (frozen)
·         1 teaspoon salt
·         3 pinches of black pepper
·         2 teaspoon of chicken stock
·         2  tablespoon of olive oil

Pie crust –

·         2  cups All Purpose flour
·         4 teaspoons of baking powder
·         4 tablespoons of butter
·         2/4 teaspoon salt
·         1 teaspoon ground sage

Cook the pie filling first. Bring the garlic to sizzle in a frying pan with olive oil. Pan fries the turkey with the vegetables. Close lid to simmer for 15 minutes. Make the cream base sauce with butter, flour and milk on a separate pot. Drain out the turkey filling and mix with the cream sauce. Keep the juices from the turkey filling to use that as gravy if prefer. Let the turkey simmer for another 15 minutes.

In the large bowl combine flour, baking powder, ground sage, salt, cold butter and milk. Form the dough into a ball and roll out. Slightly grease the pie dish before placing the flour piece on the bottom. Fill pie dish with the filling just right to the rim. Cover the top with another piece of flour. Close up the rim. Brush the top with egg whites. Poke three holes with fork on top for air release. Preheat oven to 450c and bake the pie for 20 minutes. Cool the pie off for about 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Chicken Broth with Beef Balls:

In an Asian family, having 3 course meal and a soup for a family of four is considered fortunate. I try to cook different kind of soup for my family daily. Chinese believes certain soup has a therapeutic effect and can cure illness. A traditional Chinese soup   made from different herds can have a special purpose. For example; soup made from bitter melon is good for the skin, carrots in soup are best for digestive system and tomatoes has one of the highest glutamic acid and is best for bacterial prevention and also loaded with Vitamin C. I truly believe the curing miracle in soup and like to provide soup for my family as much as possible.
The soup for tonight is a clear chicken broth with beef ball. It’s a combination of carrots, tomatoes and potatoes with beef balls. I used turkey necks as the base which I found it’s the best bones for soup. The tomatoes bring out a bit of citrus and the potatoes release the starchy texture in the soup. This soup gives a combination of a sweet from the carrots and a tiny citrus from the tomatoes. It’s just delicious!
This is so simple and easy to make. It only takes about 30 minutes and the soup is ready. I usually cook my soup first and then prepare for the rest of the meal. By the time all my other dishes are cooked, the soup is also ready. Soup is one dish that my family never lacked of. It’s an s important as my rice.
·         2 tomatoes
·         2 potatoes.
·         3 carrots
·         5 instant beef balls (you can get this in a Chinese supermarket or locate Chinatown)
·         3 scallions green onion
·         1 pack/tray of turkey necks (usually contain 3 necks)
·         1 pinch salt
·         1 tablespoon of chicken instant powder
·         1 teaspoon of fish sauce
·         1 pinch of black pepper

Bring the turkey necks to boil in a pot of water. Place all the vegetables in the pot and cook it for 30 minutes. The green onions added at the end.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Steam Minced Pork with Salty Eggs:

Since we are on the topic of “Eggs”, I am going to post this one back to back from my previous post, “Chinese Steamed Eggs”. This one is similar to the last dish except this one has meat and salty duck eggs added. As you all know, eggs are versatile and can be created in many forms. It all depends on your appetite and mood of the night.
There was an old Chinese saying, “this dish is meant for the poor”. Because of the salty flavor, family members will eats more rice (which is cheaper) and less meat. Due to poverty in China, some families can’t afford to have a varieties of dishes on the dinner table. They usually can afford a single dish to feed the entire family of eight. Therefore, this single dish has to be created more on the saltier side. The saltiness flavor comes from the salty duck eggs. Over the years, cuisine has evolved and passed down from generation to generation; now this dish has become so popular that it offered in almost every Chinese Restaurant across North America.

This dish is steamed and it’s no doubt an appetite enhancer. Families have their specific way of cooking this. Some like to add Century eggs due to personal preference. As for my family, I like to make it with normal eggs and salty eggs mixed with minced pork. Here is another tradition dish I want to bring into the Western families. It tastes great with plain steamed rice. Simple but delicious!

·         4 chicken eggs
·         2 salty duck eggs
·         ½ pound extra lean ground pork
·         1 teaspoon fish sauce
·         1 teaspoon sesame oil
·         1 pinch of black pepper
·         A few cilantros (decoration)
·         1 teaspoon of corn starch


Empty the normal eggs in a bowl. Mix the lean ground pork evenly with the corn starch and spices together. The corn starch creates the smooth texture on the pork. Add the salty eggs at last. Bring the water to boil on separate pot with a cover. Once the water is boiled, put the plate of eggs in, cover it and steam it in high heat for 20 minutes. Place the cilantros on top for decorations.  

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Chinese Steamed Eggs:

Eggs are fascinating! It can be done in many different forms, from omelets to sunny-side up to pouch, they all tasted delicious. Here is another traditional Chinese home-style dish I routinely made out of my kitchen, “Steamed Eggs”. This dish seems to be very simple and easy to make but the hidden challenge is…can you make it perfectly? These eggs are supposed to be steam until it becomes tender and has the silky texture but firms. The trick is on the water measurement and the heats while steaming it. For example; to high of the heat will makes the eggs overly cooked and becomes harder and rough. We want the eggs looking smooth and silky texture.
Asian families have different ways of cooking this dish. Some like to add minced porks and salty eggs. Some like it with soya sauce, sesame oils and pour heated oil over the eggs when served. I prefer not using the oil part because I want to keep this dish as healthy as possible. I put all my spices in the eggs first then steam them. My family love this dish and it’s easy to make. Nutritionist suggests we need at least 3 eggs per day for protein. This dish contains enough protein intakes for my family.
·         7 eggs
·         7 eggs shell of water
·         1 teaspoon of salt
·         1 tablespoon of sesame oil
·         ½ teaspoon of black pepper
·         1 teaspoon of chicken stock powder
·         2 scallions of green onion (diced)
My secret recipe is on the volume of water and the heat. I used 7 eggs and the egg shell for measuring the water. For example; once I crack the egg into a bowl, I used the same cracked egg shell to add the water with. The ratio is 1 egg: 1 egg shell of water, so if I use 7 eggs, there will be 7 egg shells of water. The eggs need to be beaten evenly. I use a pot/wok with a cover. Bring the water to boil in high heat first and then place the eggs in to steam. Quickly turn the heat to medium and cover the pot/wok. Steam it for 35 minutes in medium heat. Don’t lift the cover in between time. When the eggs are 98 % cooked, sprinkle the diced green onions on top.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Panda-lala Salad:

On the menu tonight is a salad I created and love to make routinely. My diet is more leaning toward on the vegetarian side so eating salad once a week is the protocol in my family.  I like to mix and match with different variety of lettuces and try different salad dressings. A combination of fruits with lettuces in a salad is always a good choice.

This mouth watering salad is very light. I made the dressing out of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. The balsamic vinegar gives out a touch of citrus flavor which blends perfectly with the sweetness from the Fuji Apple. I used spring mixed as the choice of lettuce because of the varieties, fresh orange/yellow peppers and grape tomatoes are great for presentation. The Lollo Rossa has a sweetish flavor and the Frisee has a bitterness which creates a great contrasting flavor to the salad.  Finally, the dry basil I used in the dressing bring out the enticing aroma awakens the senses and arouses the appetite.
The whole work is unquestionably fresh and delicious. In my years of making salads, this is the best combination of all. Since I am inventor of this salad, I should give it a name. My name is “Lala” and my husband often called me by my nickname, “Panda”, I might as well call this a…“Panda-lala Salad”!  I hope you like my creation.


1 box of Spring Mixed lettuce
3 scallion green onions
1 small Fuji Apple
1 yellow pepper
1 orange pepper
10 grapes tomatoes

1 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon dry basil
2 pinch of black peppers
1 pinch of salt
½ teaspoon sugar


Mix the dressing on a separate bowl. Put all the salad ingredients into a big bowl and mix it evenly with the pre-made dressing. Simple and delicious!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Stir-fried Beef Rice Noodles:

Traditionally, chow mein is a common dish and has been around for many years. Chinese has their ways of creating this chow mein dish. The word “mein” mean noodles and “chow” has the definition of stir-fry in a wok.  In Asia, there are many ways of putting a dish of chow mein together. Some like it with “yellow noodles” as known as mein whereas; some like it with “rice noodles” which called “fun”. In addition, different meats and vegetables can be added to the chow mein and will create different favors. Chow mein has evolved over the years and has become one of the signature dishes in Chinese cuisine.
Chow mein (yellow noodles) and chow fun (rice noodles) can be classified into two main categories. It either stir-fried with sauce called the “wet” style or the “dry” style would be the type you stir-fried with no sauce (aka: lo mein). The option of meat and vegetable is your personal choice. Beef, pork or chicken can be used as the meat portion and broccoli, cauliflower, mushroom and bok choy is a great viariety to use on chow mein - the list could goes on forever. Asain like to slightly deep fry the noodles so it is crunchy at the base and pour the meat and vegetable content over the dry noodles before serving. However, with the American Chinese cuisine, the noodles are usually steam or boil first then mix with the meat and vegetable at the end.  You need to be more specific if you are in a Chinese Restaurant as to which kind of chow mein you want. Evidently, there is a distinct between the two.
For my family, just because I don’t have a commercial kitchen with a huge wok or a deep fryer, I tense to cook my chow mein in a stream and boil approach. I like to be creative and use different options to cook my chow mein. Using different type of noodles (ie; vermicelli, skinny rice noodles, flat fresh/dry noodles and the yellow noodles etc.) for my base and with different kind of meat and vegetable each time. My dinner of choice for tonight is “Ground Beef with Radish and Basil on Rice Noodles”. Cooking time is approx. 30 minutes. It’s so simple and yet so delicious!
Ingredients: (serving for 4)

·         1.5 lbs extra lean ground beef
·         1 pack of dry rice noodle (contain 8 squares)
·         1 small bag (90 grams) of preserved diced radish (aka; Char-Choy)
·         1 bunch of fresh basil (Chinese basil)
·         3 scallion green onions
·         2 teaspoons of olive oil
·         1 clove garlic
·         2 teaspoons of soya sauce
·         3 tablespoons of oyster sauce
·         2 teaspoons of sesame oil
·         1 pinch of salt
·         2 pinch of black pepper
·         1 tablespoon of cornstarch


Bring the rice noodles to boil in a separate pot. Drain out the rice noodles and rinse under cold water for about 3 minutes. On a wok, bring the olive oil and garlic into a sizzle stage. Put the ground beef in and stir-fry it for about 3 minutes. Add the preserved radish and stir-fry for about 2 minutes. Combine with the rest of the spices and 2 tablespoons of oyster sauce in and cook it for another 5 minutes, cover it and let it simmer for 5 minutes until the beef is cooked right through. Put the cornstarch into a rice bowl (Chinese style) and add 1 cup of water and the remaining 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce. Stir it evenly and pour into the wok to create the sauce. Add the drained rice noodles and the green onion and basil at the end. Stir-fry it and mix everything together throughly.