Spring Rolls

springrolls

I have had spring rolls on my list for some time. I had imagined that the process was rather difficult; however, the difficulties were half the fun. By roll ten, the spring rolls begin to take proper form. The recipe causes a sticky situation with a blast of fresh flavors. From crunch to crisp, there is an abundant of reasons to try these spring rolls at the next gathering.

Daikon, mooli, or white radish is a mild-flavored, large, white East Asian radish with a wide variety of culinary uses. Despite often being associated with Japan, it was originally cultivated in continental Asia. In Japanese cuisine, many types of pickles are made with daikon, including takuan and bettarazuke. Daikon is also frequently used grated and mixed into ponzu–a soy sauce and citrus juice condiment. Simmered dishes such as oden are popular. Daikon is very low in food energy. A 100-gram serving contains only 18 Calories, but it provides 27 percent of the RDA for vitamin C.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Rice paper rolls can be found in the Asian department of your supermarket. Ask for help if you can’t find them; they are essential to the whole process.springrolls2
  2. The carrots, cabbage, cucumber and daikon provide a nice crunch and refreshing taste to the rolls.
  3. Tofu can be used for vegan or vegetarian rolls and chicken can be used for more protein packed rolls.
  4. I nixed the green onion just because I did not have it on hand.
  5. The mint leaves and basil would provide freshness to your palate.
  6. The peanut butter will stay clumping in the dipping sauce no matter how fast or much you whisk.
  7. I made the mistake of microwaving my peanut butter and it made the
    sauce seize.
  8. Make the sauce ahead of time allowing the flavors to combine.
  9. Use coconut aminos for a Paleo or gluten free diet.
  10. Wetting the rice paper is essential. It makes the paper flexible, but be careful because it becomes sticky.
  11. Add an equal amount of each ingredient. I suggest adding more filling than you anticipate because an equal volume of rice paper to filling makes a tasty dish.
  12. Trial and error are the staple way to make a spring roll. My first few rolls were
    rather wonky.
  13. Do not be afraid of stretching the rice paper; it will not break.
  14. Fold the spring rolls burrito style–tucking in the sides to keep the filling from falling out.
  15. These rolls need to be eaten immediately. They will be sticky so keep napkins handy.
  16. I had plenty of rice paper left over to make these spring rolls again and again. Keep them sealed and dry for use later.

Now, a taste or Asian cuisine can be enjoyed at home. These tasty spring rolls provide a new twist on appetizers for friends and family. I love the refreshing crunch and vegetable loaded bites. Enjoy the dipping sauce in full force; enjoy the crisp flavors; enjoy a spring in your step and roll.

Leave a comment with your favorite Asian dishes. Follow my Pinterest. Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Teriyaki Chicken Wings

TeriyakiChickenWings

Added advantage of being on a paleo diet is that I can gorge on these delicious teriyaki chicken wings. Unlike diets with heavy carbohydrates, the paleo diet is heavy in protein and fats allowing me to enjoy in the skin and all. These wings deliver on all notes. The sauce combines sweet and salty tangs with a meaty juiciness.

Teriyaki is a cooking technique used in Japanese cuisine in which foods are broiled or grilled with a glaze of soy sauce, mirin and sugar. The word teriyaki derives from the noun teri–the shine or luster given by the sugar content in the tare–and yaki–the cooking method of grilling or broiling. Traditionally, the meat is dipped in or brushed with sauce several times during cooking. In North America, any dish made with a teriyaki-like sauce or with added ingredients such as sesame or garlic (uncommon in traditional Japanese cuisine), is described as teriyaki. Pineapple juice is usually used as it not only provides sweetness but also bromelain enzymes that help tenderize the meat.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. I used chicken wings. They combine both the drumettes and wings into one; however, using just wings or just drumettes is optional.
  2. I used coconut aminos for a paleo version. Using soy sauce will provide the same flavor, but it is not gluten free.
  3. I used honey for my sweetener. I think it is not overly sweet and works well as a thickening agent for a sauce.
  4. TeriyakiChickenWings2Careful using fresh ginger because it will cause chunks in the sauce that can be potent.
  5. Broiling works well in browning the outside skin without overcooking the meat inside.
  6. Cooking the wings skin side down for the first ten minutes, allows the meat to cook through without burning the skin.
  7. The sauce is easy! Mix all the ingredients until the desired thickness.
  8. The sauce will continue to thicken and cook after being removed from the heat, so I suggest not boiling it over seven minutes.
  9. Toss the wings evenly to coat the
    wings evenly.

Napkins will be your best friends with this meal. It is finger licking good, but on the sticky side. I could have continued to eat the entire batch myself. Keep that in mind and be sure to double or triple the meal, inviting friends and family to come and enjoy the dish. It is a quick and easy meal for reunions and parties. Have everyone over to enjoy some wings and wow them with the sweet and salty crunch of these meaty wings.

Leave a comment with your favorite wing sauce. Follow my Pinterest. Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Sushi Trifle

sushitriffle

Deconstructed sushi! I love enjoying sushi at restaurants; however, rolling sushi can be time consuming and takes technique. The sushi trifle satisfies taste without the inconvenience of rolling. It can be plated to impress or mixed for ultimate enjoyment. Mix and match various flavors and ingredients to match sushi at
famous restaurants.

Sushi is a $14 billion industry in Japan. There are types of sushi to fit every taste–vegetables, raw fish, cooked fish and meat are common ingredients. The original type of sushi, known today as nare-zushi, was first made in Southeast Asia, possibly along what is now known as the Mekong River. The term sushi comes from an archaic grammatical form no longer used in other contexts. Literally, sushi means “sour-tasting”, a reflection of its historic fermented roots. The oldest form of sushi in Japan, narezushi, still very closely resembles this process, wherein fish is fermented via being wrapped in soured fermenting rice. The fish proteins break down via fermentation into their constituent amino acids. The fermenting rice and fish results in a sour taste and one of the five basic tastes, called umami in Japanese.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. I replaced the sushi rice with white rice. Brown and sticky rice work as replacements.
  2. The crumbled nori provides the full sushi roll flavor. It is salty and tastes best when slightly softened.
  3. I nixed the wasabi sauce because I prefer my food non-spicy.
  4. You can stack the ingredients in any fashion. For formal meals and fancy plating, use a clear wine glass and stack the ingredients in layers as seen.
  5. In the future, I suggest mixing the ingredients in a bowl to have all the flavors in
    each bite.
  6. Be sure to cook the salmon unless the sushi deconstruction is calling for raw meat. Be advised as to meats that can be eaten raw and those that need to be cooked.

Sushi has a long history throughout Asia. Methods have changed and contemporized allowing for variety and maximum flavor. While tackling sushi rolls may be challenging, sushi trifles complete flavor and ease. Mix and match favorite sushi rolls to triumph.

Leave a comment with your favorite Asian dishes. Follow my Pinterest. Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Chicken Shawarma

chickenshawarma3

My cabinets are brimming with spices.  Spices allow for big taste without the heavy calories.  I imagined that making a shawarma dish would be rather difficult because I lacked the usual cooking utensils.  I lack the space and budget for a large rotating-roaster; however, I found this chicken shawarma recipe that does my taste buds justice.  With a few easy steps, you can have an authentic, Arabic dish to satisfy a rumbling tummy.

Shawarma is an Arabic meat preparation, where lamb, chicken, turkey, beef, veal or mixed meats are placed on a spit (commonly a vertical spit in restaurants), and may be grilled for as long as a day.  Shawarma is made by alternately stacking strips of fat and pieces of seasoned meat on a stick.  An onion, a tomato, or a halved lemon is sometimes placed at the top of the stack for additional flavoring.  Shavings are cut off the block of meat for serving, and the remainder of the block of meat is kept heated on the rotating spit.  Although it can be served in shavings on a plate (generally with accompaniments), shawarma also refers to a sandwich or wrap made with shawarma meat.  Shawarma is usually eaten with tabbouleh, fattoush, taboon bread, tomato and cucumber.  Toppings can include tahini, hummus, pickled turnips and amba. It is similar to Turkish döner kebab and Greek gyros.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. I halved the recipe by using just one package of chicken rather than two (two pounds).chickenshawarma
  2. It is important to marinade the chicken overnight allowing the spices and flavors to be absorbed.
  3. I decided to keep my breast whole and making cross cuts.
  4. In place of cayenne, I used chili powder.  Add a little, or add a lot for a kick of spice.
  5. I cooked my chicken in the oven at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.
  6. I nixed the second part of the recipe because I did not want to overcook the chicken and thought it worked well in a spice balance.
  7. I suggest following it more closely for a more traditional shawarma.
  8. Cutting the chicken into strips allows for more marinating to take place.
  9. The chicken works well in pitas with hummus or baba ghanoush.

Arabic dishes are heavily seasoned with various combined spices to obtain a certain flavor.  The dishes are decadent and a party in the mouth.  They are complicated meals made simple.

Leave a comment with your favorite Arabic dishes.  Follow my Pinterest for more recipes.  Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Roasted Red Pepper and Basil Pesto Penne

roastedredpepperpestopenne

The few times I enjoy pasta I love to use pesto. From ordinary pesto to out of the box recipes, there are variations for all foodies. Roasted red pepper and basil pesto can compliment a volume of dishes. Pasta can be so bland, but elevate it with pesto; chicken can be boring, but change normal with pesto. I enjoy the added note of half and half to create a creamy texture. It softens the dish and creates a tasty dinner for friends and family.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Toasting your pine nuts accentuates their nutty flavor.roastedredpepperpestopenne2
  2. I used a fresh bell pepper. Char the pepper stovetop or broil it to produce a roasted, fresh flavor.
  3. Using fresh basil is the only way to make a pesto.
  4. Olive oil creates that creaminess ideal in pesto and facilitates cohesion among the ingredients.
  5. I used half and half, but you can use heavy cream or evaporated milk in exchange. The point is to add a creamy thickness to your sauce.
  6. I oven roasted a few chicken breasts in place of the rotisserie chicken. It is healthier because there is less butter, and you are using only white meat.
  7. Adding fresh basil on top of the finished dish enhances the brightness of the pesto.
  8. I topped the dish with sun-dried tomatoes; however, roasted or halved cherry tomatoes compliment the dish as well.
  9. I used a hand food processor leaving my pesto chunkier than normal.

I’m a huge fan of red bell peppers; I’m a huge fan of pesto; I’m a huge fan of splurging on pasta. This recipe delivers on all notes of flavor. With a few easy steps and ingredients, you can stretch your wallet without stretching your waistband. Enjoy a splurging pasta dish with the notes above and learn to love eating healthy.

Leave a comment with your favorite pesto recipes. Follow my Pinterest for more recipes. Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Broccolini Chicken Pizza

brocollinipizza

It was not until recently that I became obsessed with adding greens onto my pizza. I grew up with pizza consisting of cheese, pepperoni and sauce–no deterring from the norm. However, greens add a nutritional note to your dishes without unnecessary calories and pair well with a variety of ingredients. For instance, broccolini chicken pizza is a sweet and savory combination. The sweet, citrus ricotta paired with the vibrant greens and mouthwatering chicken brings heavenly flavors to my tummy. The recipe shows me that greens and creativity bring delicious meals to the table.

Broccolini is a green vegetable similar to broccoli but with smaller florets and longer, thinner stalks. It is a hybrid of broccoli and kai-lan, Chinese broccoli, developed by the Sakata Seed Company of Yokohama, Japan. Broccolini is also known as asparation, asparations, bimi, broccoletti, broccolette and tenderstem. The entire vegetable is consumable, including theoccasional yellow flower. Common cooking methods include sauteeing, steaming, boiling and stir-frying. Its flavor is sweet, with notes of both broccoli and asparagus, although it is not closely related to the latter. Nutritionally, it is high in vitamin C and contains vitamin A, calcium and iron.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. I used broccolini. It is one of my favorite vegetables, but it can be hard to find in grocery stores. Take advantage while you can!
  2. I nixed the lemon zest because I had bottled lemon juice only. The zest helps the acidity and adds a fresh note to the pizza.
  3. I used a pre-made crust and adjusted the cooking times; however, soon after I found out that Trader Joe’s has whole-wheat pizza dough. (Shout out to Charlie Mai for letting me know it existed!)brocollinipizza2
  4. I suggest nixing the oil in half. I felt the oiled pizza crust made it soggy and was unnecessary fat in your diet. Save those calories for something you really want–like dessert…heehee.
  5. Ricotta is thick and grainy. Mixing it with lemon juice helps soften the cheese, and it becomes similar in texture to pesto.
  6. I cleaned my chicken breast of the fatty deposits and chopped them evenly. You need the pieces small enough to cook through without overcooking your broccolini.
  7. Pile the toppings onto the crust; I had enough topping to make two pizzas.
  8. Baking the pizza with the toppings facilitates the process of creating an adhesion between ingredients and melting the ricotta.
  9. I suggest cooking the chicken until just about done on the stovetop. This method will allow the chicken to continue cooking while preparing the pizza and again in the oven without overcooking it creating a dry, juiceless texture.

The topping alone contains vast amounts of flavor. Adding those flavors to the top of a delicious bread and we have a winner. The pizza adds a variety to your daily routine. You can still enjoy the normalcy of pizza with a twist. Incorporating broccolini onto circular bread is a great way to trick little ones, or yourself, into eating their greens.

Leave a comment with your favorite pizza recipes. Follow my Pinterest for more recipes. Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Best of 2013

To ring in the New Year, I’m going to count down the top 10 recipes that you, the readers, enjoyed most. Go ahead and take time to check them out. You won’t be disappointed.  Ring in the New Year with a new recipe!

Here we go! The top 10 recipes are:

  1. Cauliflower Pizza
  2. Honey Roasted Chickpeas
  3. Pumpkin Pie
  4. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
  5. Pesto, Shrimp and Tomato Cauliflower Pizza
  6. Pumpkin Pie Spiced Popcorn with White Chocolate Drizzle
  7. Pumpkin Pecan Butter
  8. Rosemary Cornish Hens
  9. Oreo Truffles
  10. Gnocchi

Be sure to check out the above links to find you new year recipes.  My approach to making recipes even healthier will keep your New Year’s resolution in check.  Now, make a new resolution to check out these recipes and more to come. It looks like 2014 is going to be
pretty delicious.

Leave a message with your thoughts about my top ten. Follow my Pinterest for more recipes. Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.