Saturday, November 28, 2009

Quick Candied Yams

I hope all of you Americans enjoyed Thanksgiving. Even though we are Canadian, we do have at least one American friend, so we celebrated Thanksgiving for my American friend. A few weeks ago, she introduced me to a side dish known as candied yams, basically yams in syrup topped with marshmallows. I was very curious about this dish that she decided to make for Thanksgiving. I am very impressed on how good it tasted. This is a quick side dish to bake where canned yams are used. If you do have time, you can use yams and cook until soft and follow the recipe.

Serves 4
Preparation Time : 5 mins
Cooking Time : 15-20 mins
Printable Recipe


1 can yams or sweet potatoes, drained
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar


1. Preheat oven to 375F.

2. In a saucepan, melt butter and gradually add sugar to make a syrup.

3. Place drained yams in a baking dish. Pour syrup and cover with marshmallows.

4. Bake until marshmallows become golden and crispy. Serve as a side dish.

Seafood Paella

Paella... this is the first time that I heard and ate paella made by my Taiwanese friend. I'm not sure how paella should really taste like, but this paella tasted so good that I cannot stop eating.

Serves 6
Preparation Time : 30 mins
Cooking Time : 1 hour
Printable Recipe


1 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 sausages, cut into pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp fresh thyme
4 ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 1/2 cups short-grain white rice
pinch saffron threads soaked in 2 cups water
5 cups chicken or fish stock
1 kg mussels
1 lb white fish fillets
10 oz. uncooked prawns, deveined
8 oz. scallops
3 squid tubes
1 tbsp fresh parsley


1. Cut fish into 1-inch pieces and squid into 1/2-inch tubes.

2. On large paella pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, sausages and thyme, cook until onions are transparent, about 5 mins. Add garlic and cook until fragrant.

3. Add tomatoes and stir for about 5 mins.

4. Add rice and cook, stirring until translucent, about 4 mins. Stir in saffron mixture and stock, and bring to simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until the rice has absorbed almost all of the liquid.

5. Add mussels, cover and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add in fish, prawns and scallops and cook for 2-3 mins. Stir in squid and parsley and cook until seafood is cooked and mussels open.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Meaty Lasagna with Jalapeno Tomato Sauce

Finally, the main dish of the evening, my friend has been dying to bake lasagna for us, especially for the tomato sauce with jalapeno peppers, it tasted soooo good. We are glad that he shared his "secret" recipe. This is one of the best homemade lasagna ever tasted. You do not have to follow exactly the recipe, be creative, especially the spices.

Preparation Time : 15 mins
Cooking Time : 2-3 hours (sauce) + 25 mins
Printable Recipe


Jalapeno Tomato Sauce
2 celery stalks
2 carrots
2 green bell peppers
3 jalapeno peppers, seeded
1 medium onion
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2 796mL can of whole italian tomatoes
4 156mL can of tomato paste
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp dried basil

Meat Lasagna
12 lasagna pasta (not instant)
Choice of meat (Hungarian salami, pepperoni)
Mozzarella cheese, grated


1. For the sauce, dice celeries, carrots, bell peppers, jalapeno peppers and onion.

2. In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high and cook all the diced ingredients until softened. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

3. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, 2-3 tbsp olive oil and spices to the pot. Bring heat to a simmer and let it cook for 2-3 hours until thick and tomatoes lose its structure.

4. Cook lasagna pasta in boiling salted water according to package instructions.

5. Preheat oven to 375F.

6. On a 13'' x 9'' baking pan, spread a laddle of tomato sauce at the bottom of the pan. Layer with 3 sheets of lasagna pasta, pepperoni, salami and tomato sauce. Finish the layering with lasagna pasta.

7. Top with mozzarella cheese. Bake for 10 mins, or until the cheese melts to your likeness.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Basic Crêpes

My life as a Master student is ending soon and I will have to decide whether I am going continue for the PhD program or find a job in industry. Life is full of choices and hopefully I stick with the right choice. I haven't blog for a while, struggling in writing my statement of purpose, proposed research, application letter and CV for PhD and industry application. I'm out-of-date from one month collective cooking, but I'm still alive and keep updating as much as possible. From the same day as the Piémontaise Salad and Avgolemono Soup, my computer science friend made crêpes for desserts. You can put any fillings on crêpes, so make it fun.

Makes 12 crêpes
Preparation Time : 5 mins + overnight refrigeration
Cooking Time : 2 mins per side per crêpe


1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup milk
1 pinch salt
2 eggs


1. In a medium bowl, mix all the ingredients except for the eggs.

2. Add egg one at a time and whisk until incorporated.

3. Refrigerate batter overnight.

4. Lightly oil a medium frying pan, heat over medium heat. Scoop 1/4 cup of batter onto pan. Swirl batter until it coats the surface evenly.

5. Cook crêpe until lightly brown, about 2 minutes. Loosen with a spatula and turn. Cook for 2 more minutes. Serve hot with your favorite fillings.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Piémontaise Salad

Last Saturday, we had a collective cooking with the most recent cooking group, this is now our third meet-up. The couple decided to take on the entrees. We have here another great blend of flavours of sweet, sour and freshness from this dish similar from their last dish with shrimp and grapefruit salad. Potato salad can be made in so many different ways and each country has its own style. Piémontaise Salad is an entree from France which consist of a mix of tomatoes, ham, pickles and hard-boiled eggs.

Serves 6
Preparation Time : 5 mins
Cooking Time : 20 mins
Cooling Time : 1 hour


3 tomatoes
4 medium potatoes, russet or red
3 eggs
6 large pickles in vinegar (not the sweet one)
ham to taste
1/3 cup mayonnaise (or to taste)


1. In a large pot, cook potatoes with skin on for 20 minutes in boiled salted water or cut into pieces using a pressure cooker to keep its texture. Set aside, cool and peel.

2. To avoid cracking, put eggs in warm water and cook it for 10 minutes in boiling water.

3. Remove seeds from tomatoes and cut into small cubes. Dice ham and cut pickels into small pieces. Remove shell from eggs and cut into large pieces.

4. In a medium bowl, combine tomatoes, pickles, ham, eggs and potatoes.

5. Mix in the mayonnaise and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate for an hour. Serve. Bon appétit!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Avgolemono Soup

Avgolemono is from Greek which translates to "egg-lemon". This combination is usually added before serving to give a creamy look to the soup or to thicken a cooking juice. The first time using orzo was a disaster, I added dried orzo with the broth and the rest of the ingredients, it ended to absorb most of the broth. This time, I cooked first the orzo with water and then added at the end to the soup, I was very satisfied.

Serves 6
Preparation Time : 10 mins
Cooking Time : 20 mins
Printable Recipe


7 cups chicken broth
3 boneless chicken breasts, cut into medium pieces
1 cup orzo
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 tsp oregano
Salt and pepper
2 eggs
3 tbsp lemon juice


1. Cook orzo as directed in a large pot in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and set aside.

2. In a soup pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook chicken for 5 mins until all white. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

3. In the same pot, add all the vegetables and cook until tender. 

4. Add the chicken broth, bring it to a boil and simmer for 10 mins. Add oregano and season with salt and pepper. Add cooked orzo and cooked chicken.

5. Meanwhile, whisk eggs in a small bowl until frothy. Whisk in the lemon juice.

6. Temper egg mix with a ladle of warm chicken broth, whisking constantly to avoid egg from cooking.

7. Take pot off the heat and add avgolemono sauce to soup pot, stir well until soup thickened.


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