Chicken Jambalaya – Guest post (kind of) by my two daughters.

My goodness! It’s been few months since I last posted! It’s been a busy Summer and now we’re facing another school year to start.  We had a wonderful opportunity to visit Croatia, Slovenia, Austria and Italy this Summer (we walked a lot, ate delicious food, saw many beautiful sites/sceneries which were true eye candies, and came home satisfied); and we recently came back from our annual South Carolina beach trip (we have grown quite fond of Litchfield Beach near Pawley’s Island and hope to maybe retire there in 20 years?!).  However, the biggest event in between these trips was my hysterectomy surgery; I will not go into details since this is a food blog, but I’ve had this massive fibroid for few years and I finally parted with it.  I am in my 3rd week of recovery and I do have to say it’s been a smooth, but slow recovery.  So many people assume the recovery is the same as C-sec, and many people have different recovery process, but aside from the incision I don’t see anything similar.  With hysterectomy you are taking out organ(s) and re-attaching so many parts (ligaments, muscle, other organ parts) with hundreds and thousands of staple/sutures internally, things are shifting inside of you to adjust themselves, and … ok, let me stop here, this is a food blog!!

For the past 3 weeks my family has been supportive and helpful; my 2 daughters (A – age 14 and J – age 13) have truly risen to this occasion and have been cleaning the house, doing laundry, being my home nurse, giving me pedicures and cooking.  They’ve actually cooked quite a few dishes so far, but I wanted to show case last night’s dinner.  They cooked Chicken Jambalaya and it was de-li-cious!!  They still give me lots of grief, but I am very proud of how they are taking ownership and responsibility so therefore, in my book they are pretty good 🙂  I asked each of them to write a short paragraph of their experiences so far with cooking:

AI began cooking more because my mum couldn’t. It first started from necessity but as I continued throughout the summer, everything from choosing recipes to actually cooking became more enjoyable. Thus, I have had fun experimenting with different recipes and learning new techniques in the kitchen. I stumbled across this recipe for chicken jambalaya and decided to try it because I am allergic to shrimp and other shellfish, yet have always wanted to taste jambalaya. And it was worth it! The seasoning married well with the chicken and rice and I couldn’t resist second helpings. Although this dish isn’t my all-time favorite, I will most likely make it again.

JAbout three weeks ago, my mother had a major surgery, causing her to stay in bed for about a week after. She became dependent on my sister and me to cook for her. Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend anybody even letting me into the kitchen, but I didn’t really have a choice at that point. At first I just cooked anything simple that would feed the family and wouldn’t result in the house burning down, but as the weeks passed I still had to take care of my mother, who can now walk around a bit but still can’t stand in one place for too long, meaning she still can’t cook or clean. As I became more comfortable in the kitchen, as well as more willing to cook for my mother, my sister and I began to look through different recipes that looked interesting to us. My sister found the recipe for chicken jambalaya, and we instantly decided that we wanted to try this one out. Because my sister is allergic to shrimp, I’ve never actually tried jambalaya before. (Sad, I know.) By making this chicken version (which tasted lovely, by the way), I was able to both cook and taste jambalaya while I knew that it was safe for everybody to eat. My sister isn’t a big fan of spicy food, while I, on the other hand, love it. This was good for the both of us because it had a bit of a kick to it without being overwhelming. (Bonus points for Mum and Dad enjoying it too!) Overall, I think we did a pretty good job on this one and I would definitely make it again sometime!

Well, considering they are 14 and 13 I think they did a good job voicing their experiences on their mother’s blog pretty well 🙂  I would have been so embarrassed at their age!  Well, I’ve enjoyed everything my girls cooked for me so far and they have few more days to cook before their lives will become busy again with school and after school activities.  This Chicken Jambalaya was so flavorful and it truly hit the spot for me!  They found the recipe from a cookbook “The Slow Cook Book” by Heather Whinney, and the beauty of this book is Whinney gives both the slow cooker and traditional ways of cooking her recipes.  My daughters chose the traditional style.

Serves: 4-6

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 boneless chicken pieces (thigh and breast), cut into large chunky pieces
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 red  onion, finely chopped
  • 3  garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1  green pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1  red pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 7 oz thick slices pre-cooked ham, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups hot  chicken stock for the  slow cooker (3 cups for the traditional method), plus extra if necessary
  • 1 3/4 cups quick-cooking long-grain rice
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh  peas
  • Small handful of cilantro, finely chopped (optional)

**Instead of ham, my daughters used half chorizo and half mild sausages.

Heat half the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high-heat. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper, toss in the oregano and cayenne pepper, then add to the pot (in batches, if necessary) and cook for 6-10 minutes until golden brown. Remove and set aside.

Heat the remaining oil in the pot over medium heat, add the onion, garlic, and peppers, and cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring. Return the chicken to the pot and stir in the ham. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, season well, partially cover with the lid, and cook gently for about 40 minutes. Check occasionally that it’s not drying out, topping up with a little hot water if needed. Stir in the rice, turning so it absorbs all the stock, and cook for about 15 minutes or until the rice is cooked, topping up with more stock if necessary. Add the peas for the last 5 minutes.

Taste and add seasoning, if needed, and stir in the cilantro, if using. Try serving with a green salad, green beans, plain yogurt or sour cream, and some crusty bread.

Chicken Jambalaya

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As much as I am looking forward for my full recovery ( I heard it takes about a year for everything to heal, esp. internally) I will be sad for all this pampering to be gone 😦

Loco Moco

I think I’m finally catching up (I think…).  Now it feels like Spring has finally arrived and in the midst of ups and downs with families, friends and relatives I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel (sort of).  I am posting one of our favorite food “Loco Moco”!!  My husband requested this for his birthday dinner in mid-February (yes, I’m about 2 months behind with my post) and I happily agreed since it’s been ages since I made this.  Loco Moco is one of the Hawaiian specialties – with Japanese style hamburger patty placed over hot steaming rice, sunnyside up egg on top of the hamburger with generous amount of gravy; a true comfort food.  Read the history of Loco Moco here.

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It’s been such a long time since I made this; I lost the original recipe I had 😦   I searched online to see if I can find a similar recipe and this came the closest and it tasted pretty darn good!

Serves 4:

Rice:

2 cups (rice measuring cup) short or medium grain white rice

Hamburger Patties:

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 cup onion, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs for sunny side up or over easy

Gravy:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 quart beef broth
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Cook the rice according to your rice cooker manual (or how you are used to cooking).

Make the gravy. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add flour and continually stir for 5 minutes or until the mixture turns golden-brown. Whisk in the beef broth, ketchup, soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Keep whisking and bring sauce to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes or until desired thickness is reached, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside and keep warm.

In a large bowl, mix beef, onion, one egg, panko, salt and pepper. Divide in four and make flat oval patties. Heat oil in a pan and grill patties over medium heat for 5 minutes then flip and grill both sides until cooked through.

Fry eggs sunny side up or over easy.

When rice completes cooking, place in serving plates and top with the cooked hamburger patties. Ladle the gravy and top with a fried egg.

My opinion:  I always loved Japanese style hamburgers while growing up, so naturally I fell in love with Loco Moco (which adopted this Japanese style hamburger).  I don’t know how else to describe this, just a pure comfort food.  You have to try this!!

Kedgeree

Oh, life! Why are you flying by?!  I don’t even know where the time went (with all the family dramas, obligations and appointments to keep).  Anyway, I’m just going to keep my effort in catching up with my early February posts; so I’m just a mere month behind, that’s pretty good, right?

I always wanted to make kedgeree, and I was finally able to make some over our Downton Abbey finale dinner.  You would think kedgeree for the Edwardian style dinner?  It’s not too weird if you think about it…  Due to the British colonization of India from the early 17th century, this Indian breakfast rice dish called kedgeree became pretty popular in the Victorian era.  There are many variations of this kedgeree recipe, but I adopted Nigella Lawson’s recipe.  It’s pretty straightforward so no need to feel intimidated.

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  • 2 1/4 cups cold water, for poaching the fish
  • 2 lime leaves, torn into pieces
  • 4 salmon fillets (approximately 1-inch thick), preferably organic, skinned (about 1 1/2 pounds in total)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, quartered
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves, plus more, for garnish
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced plus lime segments, for garnish
  • Fish sauce, to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

This is because the easiest way to poach salmon for this dish is to do it in the oven. So: pour the water into a roasting pan, add the lime leaves and then the salmon. Cover the pan with foil, put in the oven and cook for about 15 minutes, by which time the salmon should be tender. Remove the pan from the oven and drain the liquid off into a pitcher. Keep the fish warm simply by replacing the foil on the pan.

Melt the butter in a wide, heavy saucepan that has a tight-fitting lid, and add the oil to stop the butter burning. Soften the onion in the pan and add the spices, then keep cooking till the onion is slightly translucent and suffused with soft perfume of the spices. Add the rice and stir with a wooden spoon so that it’s all well coated. There’s not enough onion to give a heavy coating: just make sure the rice is fragrantly slicked.

Pour in the reserved liquid from the pitcher, about 2 1/4 cups, and stir before covering with the lid and cooking gently for 15 minutes. If your stove is vociferous you may need a flame tamer.

At the end of the cooking time, when the rice is tender and has lost all chalkiness, turn off the heat, remove the lid, cover the pan with a dish towel and then replace the lid. This will help absorb any extra moisture form the rice. It is also the best way to let the rice stand without getting sticky or cold, which is useful when you’ve got a few friends and a few dishes to keep your eye on.

Just before you want to eat, drain off any extra liquid that’s collected in the dish with the salmon, then flake the fish with a fork. Add to it the rice, egg, cilantro, lime juice and a drop or 2 of fish sauce. Stir gently to mix – I use a couple of wooden paddles or spatulas – and taste to see if you want any more lime juice or fish sauce. Sprinkle over the zest from the 2 juiced halves of the lime and serve. I love it served just as it is in the roasting dish, but if you want to, and I often do (consistency is a requirement of a recipe but not of a cook), decant into large plate before you add the lime zest, then surround with lime segments and add the zest and a small handful of freshly chopped cilantro.

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My opinion:  First of all, this is a really light and favorful rice dish.  Some people like it more dry and some more wet, but I personally like it more on a drier side; I did end up adding more spices to adjust to my taste.  I love the use of the salmon stock to cook the basmati.  I made just enough quantity and I regretted – next time I’m going to probably triple the amount, because the leftover eaten the next day tastes really good!

Japanese Style Ginger Pork (Buta no Shogo Yaki) and Rice with Green Peas

Today’s post will be a quick one since I’ve been busy cleaning up our soon to be newly renovated bathroom!  Growing up in Japan my mom used to make this (but not frequently enough).  When I came to America at the age of 16 I completely forgot about this dish until now.  I would occasionally remember, but didn’t have to energy to think about exactly which ingredients went in and the quantity until I came upon Harumi Kurihara’s “Japanese Home Cooking”.  This is quite simple and so very delicious!!

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Trim the ends of the bean sprouts.

Mix together the soy sauce, mirin and grated ginger and dip the pork slices into this marinade briefly just before cooking.

Heat a little oil in a frying pan over medium heat.  Remove pork from the marinade and add to the pan, making sure it cooks evenly and doesn’t stick together or curl up.  Turn over after a couple of minutes and cook until both sides are browned.  Don’t leave the pork for long, as it cooks pretty fast, but make sure it’s cooked through.

In a separate pan, heat a tablespoon of oil over a high heat.  Add the sliced garlic.  When the aroma is released, add the bean sprouts and stir-fry.  Season with salt and pepper.

Put the bean sprouts onto a serving dish and then lay the slices of pork on top.  Pour any remaining juices from the frying pan over the pork.

Rice with Green Peas: serves 4

1-1/2 cups uncooked short grain rice

1-3/4 cups water

1-1/2 cups green peas

1 Tablespoon sake

1 teaspoon soy sauce

Mix all the ingredients together and cook the rice.

My opinion: One of my daughter is not a huge meat eater nor a meat lover; she especially don’t care much for pork, but guess what?  She had healthy servings of both pork and bean sprouts and didn’t complain once, in fact she said she really liked it!  I had enough left overs (because I made enough for 8 servings!) my husband is so thrilled to take this for his lunch tomorrow 🙂   Ginger is not overpowering, but blends so very well with the pork, soy sauce and mirin.  Bean Sprouts amazingly go very well with this pork.  If you don’t want to bother with the rice just make plain brown or white rice, but I think you should try this green pea rice just once.

Jamaican Jerk Chicken and Jamaican Rice & Peas

I’ve never cooked Jamaican food before (aside from the Jamaican Christmas fruit cake), and it sure has been a long time since I’ve eaten Jamaican food.  Today’s recipe is pretty simple, but you have to start prepping a day before since the meat has to marinate overnight in the refrigerator. 

This recipe came from the Food & Wine magazine.  To prepare for this recipe, I must have looked at close to 20 different Jamaican Jerk recipes.  One thing was common amongst all those recipes (aside from the recipe I used):  they all used acidic agents ie. orange juice, lemon/lime juice, vinegar, etc.   This is why your typical jerk chicken as that tangy flavor in it.  The recipe I used did not have any of these acids, however, I did add fresh juice from 1 lime (nothing compared to 1/4 cup of other acids).  I also thought it was interesting that the recipe came from a Korean-Jamaican chef who searched far and wide traveling throughout Jamaica, sampling various jerk recipes and came up with this recipe!!

I served my jerk chicken with the Jamaican Rice & Peas (also from Food & Wine).  I also made my Beet, Carrot and Apple Slaw (this has been my signature salad, I half jokingly call this my “power salad” because it’s filled with awesomeness!  Basically just shred all three ingredients in a food processor.  In a large bowl, mix some mayonnaise, apple vinegar, salt and pepper, mix well.  Toss in the veggie/fruit shreds and blend well.  Simple as that. 

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Jamaican Jerk Chicken : serves 8

  1. 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  2. 3 medium scallions, chopped
  3. 2 Scotch bonnet chiles, chopped
  4. 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  5. 1 tablespoon five-spice powder
  6. 1 tablespoon allspice berries, coarsely ground
  7. 1 tablespoon coarsely ground pepper
  8. 1 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
  9. 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  10. 1 teaspoon salt
  11. 1/2 cup soy sauce
  12. 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  13. Two 3 1/2- to 4-pound chickens, quartered (I used all chicken thighs instead)


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I did use mortar and pestle to grind my allspice berries.  Believe me, using these whole spices will make a difference to this dish. 
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This is my handy nutmeg grinder. 

  1. In a food processor, combine the onion, scallions, chiles, garlic, five-spice powder, allspice, pepper, thyme, nutmeg and salt; process to a coarse paste. With the machine on, add the the soy sauce and oil in a steady stream. Pour the marinade into a large, shallow dish, add the chicken and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bring the chicken to room temperature before proceeding.
  2. Light a grill. Grill the chicken over a medium-hot fire, turning occasionally, until well browned and cooked through, 35 to 40 minutes. (Cover the grill for a smokier flavor.) Transfer the chicken to a platter and serve. (I cooked my chicken in a 375F oven for 50-60 minutes:  Bake skin side down for about 20 minutes, and then skin side up for the remaining time). 

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Jamaican Rice & Peas: serves 6 (“peas” = beans)

  1. 2 tablespoons canola oil
  2. 1 small onion, finely chopped
  3. 1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
  4. 2 cups long grain white rice, such as jasmine
  5. One 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  6. 1/2 Scotch bonnet or habanero chile, seeded
  7. One 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
  8. 1 1/2 cups water
  9. Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  10. 4 scallions, thinly sliced

  1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil. Add the onion and ginger and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring, until coated with the oil. Stir in the kidney beans and Scotch bonnet, then stir in the coconut milk and water. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed, 18 minutes.
  2. Remove the rice from the heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Stir in the scallions and season with salt and black pepper. Discard the Scotch bonnet and serve.

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My opinion:  Maybe I’m prejudiced, but I just loved, absolutely loved this dish!!  The chicken was so flavorful I wasn’t embarrassed to suck the bone (the spices blended so well together).  The rice did not have strong coconut flavor (I love Indonesian coconut rice, and you can taste coconut milk, but sometimes it could be too overpowering) which really married well with the chicken.  Needless to say my family love this dish too and wanted more!!

Seco, Arroz a la Peruana, and Friojoles Guisados

Warning:  today’s post is a long post since it includes 3 recipes!! If you plan to make these dishes, give yourself at least half a day.  This is more like a weekend recipe.  It takes a while to cook these, but believe me, it’s all worth it!!

No, I didn’t miraculously learn how to speak Spanish (I wish).  Today’s post is dedicated to the Peruvian dishes!!  Why Peruvian you may wonder.  Well, nothing complicated, my brother in law (Steve’s 2nd oldest brother) is engaged to a Peruvian woman!  They sent me couple of Peruvian recipes and also sent me some Peruvian spices so I have been waiting and planning to cook these recipes for a while!

Seco, is a traditional Peruvian stew, typically made with lamb shank, but I used beef for today’s recipe (due to someone in my family not liking the lamb too much, seriously, how can anyone not like lamb?!).  This stew uses a very traditional Peruvian pepper paste called Aji Amarillo – it comes in a paste form or the whole pepper (soaked in liquid).  This is a yellow/orange pepper that’s hot, but also has this fruity aftertaste, weird, right?  Unless you live in Florida, New York, or maybe Los Angeles, it’ll be difficult to find this.  I looked at a major Latin American market in Philadelphia and they didn’t have it.  However, do you know where I found one?  At Assi, Korean supermarket in North Wales, PA!!  You can also purchase this online. 

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This is what I found at Assi, the whole pepper Aji Amarillo (you can just use the food processor to grind them into paste).
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This is Aji Amarillo sent to me by my brother in law and his fiancé from Florida. 
 Arroz a la Peruana is very savory and aromatic Peruvian rice (you can just eat this rice by itself, it’s that good!),  and Friojoles Guisados is beans stewed with onions, cumin, bacon/salted pork and tomatoes. 

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Seco: This recipe was sent to me by my brother in law and his fiancéThis will probably serve about 6. 

6 lamb shanks, weighing approx, 3/4lb (325grams) each (you can substitute with beef or pork)
2 cups chicha de jora (corn beer) – I just used the regular beer
1 teaspoon paprika
3 Tablespoons aji amarillo
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 red onion, chopped finely
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup cilantro puree (use the food processor for this)
2 cups stock
salt and pepper

In a large bowl, combine beer, paprika, oregano, aji amarillo paste.  Trim lamb shanks and marinate in the beer mixture for at least 4 hours (half way through I flipped the meat so that the other side can be marinated too). 

In a large pot, heat a little of the oil and sear lamb shanks until golden brown on both sides.  Remove the shanks from the pan and set aside.  In the same pan, heat some more oil and sauté onion over medium heat, until translucent, about 3 minutes, add garlic and continue cooking for another couple of minutes.  Add 1/2 cup of the cilantro puree and cook for another 2 minutes.

Add stock and bring to boil.  Put the lamb shanks back into the pot, cover and simmer on a very low heat until the meat is fork tender (about 2 hours) **When I added the stock, I also added the marinade (it was too good to throw it out). 

When the meat is cooked, stir through the remaining cilantro puree.  Serve with rice, yellow potatoes and Frijoles Guisados.

Frijoles Guisados:  about 10 servings.  I got this recipe from Johnson and Wales Culinary School website

8 ounces (225gr) bacon or salted pork, diced
1 small onion, diced
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 bunch cilantro, washed, stemmed, and chopped
1-1/2 pounds pinto beans, dry, soaked overnight (I used canned pinto beans)
1-1/2 quarts (1.4 liters) stocks, vegetable or chicken
4 tomatoes, diced
salt and pepper to taste

Brown the bacon and add onion, garlic, cumin and half of the chopped cilantro.
Add beans and stock and simmer.
As beans begin to tenderize, add tomatoes, salt, pepper and the rest of the chopped cilantro. 

Arroz a la Peruana: Yields 4.  I found this recipe from this Peruvian recipe site.

1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups long grain rice
4 cups chicken stock or water
1 cup peas, hot
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1 Tablespoon butter

Sauté onion in olive oil over medium heat until translucent.  Add garlic; sauté until soft, but do not brown.
Add the rice, and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Add the liquid, salt and butter, stir.
Bring to a boil; cover, and reduce to low heat.
Cook the rice for approximately 10-15 minutes, or until just tender.
Taste, adjust salt as desired.  Fluff rice with a fork, then very gently fold in the peas. 

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My opinion: Extraordinary!!!  Yes, my hard labor has paid off!!  Loved the taste of cilantro, aji amarillo and other ingredients all blended into one outstanding flavor in Seco!!  The rice, as I said, can be eaten along, so flavorful!!  The beans are so complimentary to the rice and seco.  I added the sweet potato and some julienned carrots and orange bell peppers.  The sweet potatoes soaked up the sauce from seco and that was very tasty too!!

Gallo Pinto (Rice & Bean with Fried Eggs), and Krazy Kake

I guess today is Cinco de Mayo.  No, we’re not Mexicans, but unknowingly I ended up cooking Latin American food today.  Today’s recipe is Gallo Pinto, which is Costa Rican and Nicaraguan national dish.  It’s basically rice and beans with fried eggs.  It’s mostly eaten for breakfast, but they also serve this for lunch and dinner.  I found this recipe in one of my favorite magazine “Fine Cooking”. 
Another recipe I tried is called “Krazy Kake”, no, I didn’t misspell the name.  My friend Aiko found this recipe in her 6th grade (I think) Home Economics’ class – I saw this recipe on her blog and thought it was interesting. 
On another note, not that I’m patting myself on my back, but I was so darn tired today.  However, dinner had to be prepared, but I resisted the urge to order out,  despite the temptation, and  I pressed on and cooked!

Gallo Pinto: serves 4
This dish uses Costa Rican condiment called “Salsa Lizano”.  I didn’t have time to order this (because none of the Latin American stores had this).  You can substitute with Worcestershire sauce. 
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3/4 cup long grain white rice (I used 1 cup)
Kosher salt
2 Tablespoons canola oil
1 small yellow onion, cut into small dice
1/2 medium red bell pepper, seeded and cut into small dice
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup canned tomato sauce
1  15-1/2 ounce can black bean, drained and rinsed
3 Tablespoons Salsa Lizano
Freshly ground black pepper
8 large eggs
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Put the rice, a big pinch of salt, and 1-1/2 cups of water (I used 2 cups) in a 3 quart saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the rice has absorbed the water and is tender, about 15 minutes.  Remove from the heat and set aside with the lid on. 
Meanwhile, heat 1 Tablespoon of the oil in a 4 quart saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic and a pinch of salt; cook stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes.  Add the cumin and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the tomato sauce and stir for 1 minute.  Add the beans and 1 cup of water and simmer until the liquid reduces to the level of the beans, about 4 minutes. 
Add the rice to the beans and mix well. Stir in the Salsa Lizano and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Keep warm. 
Heat the remaining 1 Tablespoon oil in a 12 inch nonstick skillet over medium heat, swirling the pan to coat evenly.  Gently crack the eggs into the pan.  Season with salt and pepper, cover, and cook until the yolks’ edges have just begun to set, 2-3 minutes. (The eggs should cook gently, so lower the heat if needed.)
To serve, put a heaping spoonful of the rice and beans on a plate and slide 2 eggs on top.  Sprinkle with the cilantro. 
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My opinion:  Simple and absolutely delicious!! I also pan fried some plantains (if you are like us and like sweeter plantains, buy it a week in advance and let it sit on your kitchen counter.  I bought the darker skinned ones to begin with). 

Krazy Kake:
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1-1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar (1/2 white and 1/2 dark)
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
3 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extrace
3 Tablespoons vinegar
5 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup water

Sift first 5 ingredients into an 8 inch round cake pan.
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Make 3 wells and put vanilla in one, vinegar in the 2nd, and oil in the 3rd
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Pour water on everything and mix well until smooth
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Bake 350F for about 30-35 minutes
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** Note: I didn’t grease the pan.  The cake came out fine after letting it cool down a bit.
Make the cream topping:  whip 150ml heavy cream with 1 Tablespoon powdered sugar.  Melt 100 gm dark chocolate and drizzle in the whipping cream.  Let the topping set in the fridge and ice the cake. 
For melting the chocolate,  you can carefully melt  it in the microwave, however, I used the double boiler (simply cut up a good quality dark chocolate and put in a smaller pot, in a slightly larger pot, add water and let it come to boil.  Put the smaller pot in the boiling water and carefully watch and stir until the chocolate melts). 
**Instead of making single cake, I made double cakes and layered them.  I also added cherry jam in between the layers (along with some of the cream). 

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My opinion:  I am soooo glad my friend found this recipe and posted on her blog!!  I think we all agreed this is one of the best chocolate cake we had!!  Despite not adding eggs, and adding vinegar instead, the cake came out fluffy, but with substance.  I don’t particularly like buttercream icing, so melted chocolate added in the whipped cream was perfect for me!  It’s a simple recipe and it’s definitely a keeper!

Sweet Pepper Vegetable Omu Rice

Yesterday, my youngest daughter turned 10 years old.  I’m thinking to myself, “Wow, she’s double digit!!  Pretty soon she’ll be graduating from high school, college, grad school, work, getting married, and I’ll be a grandmom!! ” She specifically requested for one of her favorite food “Omu Rice” which is Japanese version of fried rice nestled inside the omelet with ketchup on the top, and Strawberry Tiramisu for her dinner and birthday cake. 
We had abundant sweet peppers (courtesy of my friend who went to a farm in NJ and picked plenty of peppers and tomatoes) so I decided to incorporate this into the fried rice.  I once saw on a Japanese TV show how they used bell peppers for children who didn’t like the taste of peppers.  Basically you roast the peppers and once cooled, you puree them and add them to the fried rice.  In this way kids don’t taste the “bitterness” of peppers (as they claim) and still get tons of vitamins.  My girls will eat the yellow and orange bell peppers, but they always have issues with the green and the red, so for us, this was a very good use of the red peppers!!

Here, I have 5 bell peppers (washed, dried, cut into halves and deseeded) – Lightly coat them in olive oil and sprinkle sea salt
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Bake in 450F for about 25-30 minutes; let them cool completely
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Puree in the blender
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I diced carrots, zucchinis and onions; added frozen corns and peas, cook them until softened, and just add black pepper a little more salt to taste
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I usually cook the rice a day ahead and have the rice chill in the frig (it’s easier to make fried rice this way); make sure the veggies and rice are fully mixed well
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Add the bell pepper puree and mix well
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Serve the fried rice on the plate, drape the omelet and tuck in the edges, pour ketchup and dig in!  For us grown ups, we like to put sriracha  (Thai hot sauce – in fact, one of my friend’s grandmother, who is a Thai,  is said to be the creator of the original Sriracha recipe! ) and ketchup for the zing!
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I only put salt and pepper for the fried rice seasoning (to keep it simple), but you can add other seasonings too!