Saturday, May 30, 2009

Stuffed Dates Wrapped with Bacon

Here is the second quick and easy appetizer. I don't remember where I got this recipe since there is only 3 ingredients to memorize. I must have seen on Food Network. There is not much to say about it, it is easy as 1 2 3. Important : do not omit the bacon since it actually burns the dates and it doesn't taste good without bacon.

Makes 16
Preparation Time : 10 mins
Baking Time : 10 mins


16 small sticks Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
16 large dates
8 slices bacon


1. Preheat oven to 450F.

2. Cut one side of the date and take the pit out. Stuff a stick of cheese into each date and seal it.

3. Wrap half a slice of bacon around each date. Secure it with a pick.

4. Bake 5 mins, then turn dates over, bake until crisp, about 5 more mins. Drain in a paper towel and serve.

Garlic, Herb and Parmesan Bread

This Friday cooking is not like other week, because this week is Appetizer Party! No soup, no main dishes, only finger food. I guarantee you will be full at the end of the day. Appetizers are usually quick and easy, and I manage to make 3 appetizers in less than an hour. The first was greatly inspired by Dragon's Kitchen and I couldn't resist to try her recipe. So, check out her blog. I always wanted to make garlic bread and this is the best garlic bread I ever tasted. You can really taste the garlic and the butter, and it is very moist in the middle and crunchy on the outside. Since I didn't have fresh herbs at my disposal, I used Italian seasonings instead.

Serves 6
Preparation Time : 10 mins
Cooking Time : 10 mins


1 large baguette
1/2 cup salted butter, softened
3 garlic cloves, minced (add more if you love garlic)
2 tbsp Italian seasonings
ground pepper to taste


1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. Slice baguette in half lengthwise. Use a fork to prick the top of each slice.

3. Combine butter, garlic and herbs. Season with ground pepper.

4. Spred butter mixture on each slice. Cover each slice with parmesan. Optional : you can slice the bread into smaller pieces.

5. Place bread on aluminium foil lined with baking sheet. Place bread in the oven for 10 mins or until toasted.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Zucchini Prosciutto Sandwiches

This week Friday cooking, I was assigned to work on appetizer. As you can see, there is not much appetizer on my blog and especially, it is the most important part of an entertainment party. Probably, I will organize an appetizer party. The zucchini sandwiches recipe is inspired by Michael Chiarello. I made some changes to the recipe because I found that it might be salty. For a vegetarian version, omit the prosciutto.

Makes about 16
Preparation Time : 10 mins
Cooking Time : 5 mins


3 zucchinis
8 slices of prosciutto
Basil leaves (1-2 leaves per sandwich)
100g Gruyère or Emmental cheese
1-2 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup olive oil or more
parmesan cheese (optional)


1. Cut each zucchini in half, then slice lengthwise about 1/4 inch. Lay them in pairs on paper towel.

2. Stack half of the zucchinis with prosciutto, 1-2 basil leaves and Gruyère cheese.

3. Lay the remaining zucchini slices on top of each stack. Cover with another paper towel and press down firmly in order to extract moisture.

4. Beat eggs in one bowl and pour flour into another bowl. Dip each stack in egg first then dredge it in the flour, shake off the excess.

5. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook zucchini until golden brown, about 2 mins on each side.

6. Remove and use a paper towel to drain oil. Top stacks with grated parmsean cheese.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Spicy Squid - Asian Cuisine Pt. 4

As promised, here is the last of four Asian dishes. I wasn't sure what to call this dish, this is simply squid in hot sauce with a kink of lime juice.

Serves 4
Preparation Time : 5 mins
Cooking Time : 3 mins
Printable Recipe


6-8 squid tubes
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp hot sauce (adjust spiciness to your taste)
1 lime, juiced
2 tbsp fresh coriander


1. Clean, pat dry and cut squid into 1/2 inch rings.

2. In a wok or large skillet, heat oil over high heat. Sauté squid tubes until edges start to curl, about 2-3 mins.
3. Remove from heat. Add the remaining ingredients and toss well. Serve immediately.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Ma Po Tofu - Asian Cuisine Pt. 3

Here is the third Asian dish. Ma Po Tofu is a famous dish in Szechuan cuisine. This dish is a combinaison of tofu and ground meat with spicy chili bean sauce added. A great story about the origin of Ma Po Tofu is found on wiki.

Serves 4
Preparation Time : 5 mins
Cooking Time : 20 mins


850g hard tofu, do not use soft tofu
500g ground beef or pork
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 1/2 tbsp chili bean sauce
1 green onion, chopped


1. Cut each tofu block into 6 pieces as shown in the picture below.

2. In a wok or in a large skillet, heat oil over high heat. Cook ground meat until it turns brown. Add in garlic and cook for 1 min.

3. Add tofu to the wok and add water until the tofu is 3/4 covered. Add chili bean sauce and mix it with water. Stir occasionally.

4. Evaporate until there is almost no liquid (1/4 liquid left) and tofu softens, about 15 mins.

5. Remove from heat. Transfer onto a plate and add green onion on top of the tofu. Serve.

Salt and Pepper Shrimp - Asian Cuisine Pt. 2

This is the second of four dishes. The name is self-explanatory, it is basically shrimp seasoned with salt and cracked peppercorns. Peppercorns are usually crushed using a mortar and a pestle, if you don't have one, put it in a ziploc and crack it using the side of a frying pan.

Serves 4
Preparation Time : 3 mins
Cooking time : 2-3 mins


2 tbsp olive oil
24 medium shrimps, deveined and peeled
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp mixed peppercorns, cracked
1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)


1. Pat dry shrimps before cooking.

2. In a wok or large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add shrimp, toss wok to coat. Add red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.

3. Toss until shrimp have turned pink and curled, 2-3 minutes. Serve immediately.

Corn and Crab Meat Soup - Asian Cuisine Pt. 1

On this Friday cooking, I took it more relaxed and let my Taiwanese friend do the cooking. I redid Summer Berry Medley, excellent after a series of spicy dishes. This dessert is a real reliever. As some of you voted to see more Asian food on this blog, here is a series of 4 quick and easy Asian dishes. The first of four dishes is the corn and crab meat soup. This shortcut soup can be found in many Chinese menus. If you have fresh crab meat, go for it!

Serves 4
Preparation Time : 5 mins
Cooking Time : 8 mins
Printable Recipe


250g crab meat
2 284mL can creamed sweet corn
2 cups chicken stock
2 eggs, scrambled
Salt and Pepper
1 tbsp coriander (optional)


1. In a medium soup pot, combine stock and sweet corn over high heat until boiling.

2. Add crab meat and turn to medium heat. Let it cook for 8 mins.

3. Remove from heat. Add eggs and stir into pot to form ribbons. Add salt and pepper to taste, and top with coriander. Serve.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Blue Cheese Risotto with Prosciutto

Risotto is the first dish that my Brazilian friend knows how to cook when she came to Montreal. This is excellent because I love risotto, but never had a chance to make one yet. This dish is straightforward. If she knows how to do it, you can do it also. Weirdly, she puts blue cheese in it. I'm not a big fan of strong cheese, but this makes the risotto very delicious. You can always substitute blue cheese for parmesan for a softer taste. Also, prosciutto can be cooked at the beginning with the onions for crispness or for uncooked prosciutto, add at the end along with the blue cheese.

Serves 4
Preparation Time : 10 mins
Cooking Time : 30 mins
Printable Recipe


1 1/2 cups arborio rice or carnaroli
3-4 cups beef or vegetable stock
1 medium onion, chopped
200g blue cheese or 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
8 strips of prosciutto, cut into small pieces


1. In a medium saucepan, heat the stock to a simmer.

2. Meanwhile, in a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Cook onions (and prosciutto) until golden, about 5 mins. Add rice and stir for 2 mins.

3. Gradually add a ladleful of simmering stock and stir constantly until it is absorbed before adding more. Continue in this manner, until the rice is tender and has a creamy consistency but still retains a bite. It takes about 25 mins. If stock has run out, add water.

4. Turn off and remove from the heat. Stir in the cheese (and prosciutto) and serve immediately.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Beef with Tomatoes

Thanks for all of you who have answered the first poll of this blog, I never thought that some of you are actually interested in having more desserts (42%) on this blog, this will be taking in consideration. We have a tie for second, Italian and Asian food (35%). I have to admit that I don't have that much of these cuisine here. I'll put more for sure.

As promised, here is an Asian dish. This recipe has been in our family for several years and we are still cooking it. One technique in Asian cuisine is through water evaporation in order to get the full flavour of your dish. This dish is very simple and easy to make.

Serves 6
Preparation Time : 10 mins
Cooking Time : 10 mins + evaporation time (5 mins - 20 mins)
Printable Recipe


2 steaks, any cuts would do
4 large tomatoes
1 medium onion, sliced
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup ketchup
3 tbsp coriander
3 slices ginger
Rice for serving


1. Cut steaks into strips. Cut tomatoes into 8 pieces.

2. In a wok or large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook steaks until it starts turning brown (still a little bloody) and onions until transparent. Remove steaks and onions out of the wok or pot.

3. Add tomatoes, ginger and ketchup until the liquid becomes thicker, about 12 to 15 minutes. Stir time to time. Do not scoop out the water. Once the liquid thickens, throw in the beef. As the beef becomes entirely cooked, mix in sugar and salt. Serve immediately. Top it with coriander and serve with rice.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Summer Berry Medley

Need a last minute idea for Mother's day? Don't know what to make for your beloved mother? This fruit recipe will wow everyone, my friends wanted seconds and even thirds. I am even impressed of myself when I made this dessert on Friday. This recipe is quick and easy, and it only takes a few minutes of your time. It consists of a variety of berries, mixed into a lemon syrup.

Serves 6
Preparation Time : 15 mins + chilling
Cooking Time : 2 minutes


1 3/4 cups water
1/2 cup white sugar
1 lemon, zested
3 tbsp lemon juice
800 g mixed fresh berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and/or blackberries)
4-5 mint leaves
Whipped cream (optional)


1. Bring water and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat, stir until dissolve.

2. Stop stirring, increase heat to high, and let it boil for 2 minutes.

3. Remove from heat. Stir in zest, lemon juice and mint and let it cool completely.

4. Cut large strawberries in half with tops removed. Combine berries in a large bowl and add lemon syrup. Stir gently to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.

5. Spoon into bowls or wine glasses for Mother's day along with the syrup and top it with a large dollop of whipped cream and serve.

Cheese Twists

These flaky, twisted and crispy cheese straws are great for starters when you have guests coming over and also, great for decoration. They are quick and easy can be served with drinks at any occasion. They can be eaten as plain or strong flavors added.

Makes about 15
Preparation Time : 10 mins
Baking Time : 12 mins
Printable Recipe


1 Puff Pastry sheet
1 egg
1 tbsp water
1/2 cup grated sharp Cheddar or blue cheese
or 3/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese or Parmesan


1. Preheat oven to 375F.

2. Roll out puff pastry, not too thin, on lightly floured surface, trimming the edges.

3. In a small bowl, beat egg and water with a fork. Brush the whole surface of the dough with the egg mixture.

4. Fully cover the top of the dough with cheese. Using a rolling pin, lightly press the cheese onto the pastry.
5. Using a pizza cutter, cut the pastry into strips about 1/2in (12 mm) wide.

6. Holding both ends, twist strips into a spiral and place, well spaced, on lightly oil baking sheets.

7. Bake for 12 mins or until golden. Maximum 15 minutes, otherwise it darkens. Let it cool for a few mins. For decoration, put the sticks into a tall glass.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Crispy Mozzarella Sticks

I have never tried puff pastry before. Puff pastry (pâte feuilletée) is a dough that once baked, it becomes light and flake. Croissant is actually made out of this dough. These can be homemade or bought in any supermarket in the frozen pastry section. Here is a great appetizer to serve for your guests. This recipe comes from Pepperidge Farm website.

Serves 6
Preparation Time : 15 mins
Baking Time : 17 mins


1 Puff Pastry sheet
1 egg
1 tbsp water
1/4 cup grated parmigiano reggiano cheese or Parmesan
6 slices of mozzarella (cut into 3'' x 1.5'' each)
1/2 cup of your favorite pasta sauce


1. Thaw pastry sheets according to package instructions.

2. Preheat oven to 400F.

3. In a small bowl, beat egg and water with a fork.

4. Roll out the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface into 15'' x 8'' rectangle.

5. Cut pastry into 5'' x 4'' rectangles.

6. For each mozzarella sticks, put it along the long edge of the pastry rectangle and roll up in the pastry. Gently press the pastry along the long edge and pinch the edges to seal. Place the pastry rolls seam-side down on work surface.

7. Brush the tops of each roll with egg mixture. Top it with grated cheese. Transfer it to an ungreased baking sheet. With a fork, prick the tops of the pastry 6 times for each roll.

8. Bake for 17 minutes or until golden brown. It might happen that the cheese might come out during baking.

9. Meanwhile, heat your favorite pasta sauce in a small saucepan.

10. Put the baked rolls on a serving platter. Serve warm with pasta sauce for dipping.

Papas a la Huancaína

Another great tasty dish from my Peruvian friend Jorge. Papas a la Huancaína is a famous traditional dish made by women from the town in Huancoyo, Peru. Boiled potatoes are topped with a rich, creamy and slightly spicy cheese sauce and usually, it is served either cold or at room temperature as a starter or side dish. This sauce is versatile, it can be used as a dipping sauce for shrimps.

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


10 Russet Potatoes, peeled, boiled and quartered (New, Red or Yukon can be used as well)
2 whole cloves of garlic
2 Peruvian yellow chili peppers, seeded or 2 tbsp yellow chili paste (aji amarillo), or any chili peppers
400g Ricotta cheese or any fresh cheese
1/2 cup vegetable oil + 1 tbsp for cooking
3 hardboiled eggs
Milk, if needed


3 lettuce leaves for each serving
Black olives


1. In a small skillet, heat 1 tbsp oil over medium-high heat, add garlic and chili peppers, until garlic turns lightly brown.

2. In a blender, add cooked garlic and chili peppers, cheese, oil until smooth.

3. If mixture is not soft after blending, add milk until smooth.

4. As a tradition, assemble lettuce leaves on a small plate. Lay half hardboiled eggs, two olives and potato slices on top. Pour sauce over potatoes and lettuce.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Tomato Basil Soup

This soup was done by my Mexican friend Mon on the last Friday cooking, it took me a while to get the recipe from her. In this recipe, she made the tomato sauce herself one day in advance, if you think it is too much work or do not have a juicer, feel free to use Clamato juice.

Serves 4
Preparation Time : 15 mins
Cooking Time : 35 mins


4 large tomatoes, diced
4 cups Clamato juice or tomato sauce
14 leaves fresh basil
1 cup sour cream/heavy whipping cream
1/8 cup butter
2 tbsp chives
salt and pepper to taste
1 small green chili pepper, diced (optional)

Tomato Sauce
5 tomatoes
1 green pepper
1 celery stalk
1/2 bunch of parsley
1/2 bunch of coriander
6 green onion
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup mayonnaise


Tomato Sauce
1. In a juicer, add tomatoes, pepper, celery, parsley and onion.

2. Mix in lemon juice and mayonnaise to the tomato juice.

3. In large soup pot, boil diced tomatoes, chives and tomato sauce/Clamato juice over medium-high heat. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

4. In a blender, puree the soup mixture along with basil leaves.

5. Return the puree to soup pot over medium heat. Mix in cream and butter to soup. Stir oftenly until the butter is melted. Do not boil. Season with salt and pepper and serve.


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