Saturday, April 24, 2010

Italian Wedding Soup

I'm finally done with my finals. This is probably the last time that I will have to take academic classes. I'm back to research and currently in the process of writing my thesis.

I found a great-looking soup on My Tasty Treasures, a blog that I regularly follow. One that caught my eyes was the Italian Wedding Soup. At first glance, it looks like a strange name to give for this dish. It seems to be an Italian mistranslation, Married Soup, which refers to the combination of green vegetables and meat.

Serves 8-10
Preparation Time: 20 mins
Cooking Time: 45 mins
Printable Recipe


1 cup pearl barley
3 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 lb ground pork & beef
6 cups chicken stock
1 egg, beaten
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup parmesan
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 (10z.) bag of spinach, triple washed


1. In a medium pot, add barley and 5-6 cups water. Boil over high heat and simmer fo 30 mins. Set aside.

2. In a large soup pot, cook carrots, celery and onions over medium heat, about 5 mins. Season with salt and pepper. Add broth and keep it hot.

3. In a bowl, combine meat, egg, garlic, parmesan, bread crumbs, salt and pepper. Shape into meatballs and add it into the soup pot. Cook until all browned about 10 mins.

4. Add in spinach and pearl barley to the soup pot. Cook until spinach changes color.  Serve.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Making Ice Cream with Liquid Nitrogen

Here is an interesting event that I hosted last week with a group of Montreal Food Bloggers. Working in a very cold temperature laboratory (near absolute zero, WAY colder than Antartica and the Moon), I thought of making something out of liquid nitrogen like in the show Iron Chef: Battle of the Beets. The foodies suggested to make ICE CREAM with liquid nitrogen. Due to quick freezing, the mix forms these small crystals which result into a smoother and creamier texture compared to ice cream via conventional cooling.

I would like to thank the foodies for coming to this cool event: Judy, Evelyne, Elaine, Valérie and Laurent.

Here is a basic ice cream recipe.

Serves 8-10
Preparation Time: 1 min
Freezing Time: 2 mins


5L liquid nitrogen
4 cups half-and-half or heavy cream
2 cups milk
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips or mashed fruits or any other flavorings


1. In a stainless steel bowl, mix cream, milk, sugar and vanilla extract using a wooden spoon.

2. While stirring, pour a small amount of liquid nitrogen into the mixture. Continue to stir while slowly adding more liquid nitrogen. Once it starts to thicken, add mashed fruits or chocolate chips.

3. Continue adding liquid nitrogen until it is hard to stir. Let the excess liquid nitrogen boil off. Immediately serve.

Check out the video filmed by Evelyne.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Mussels in Oyster Sauce

When I introduce my blog to people, they can't imagine how I was able to write over 150 recipes on Random Cuisine. Frequently, they asked me where I get my inspirations for cooking. As a foodie and I'm pretty sure this is the case for many other foodies, it is to check your local food market, see what items are on special and make a dish out of it. The reason is to narrow down our choices of what to cook.

Last week, mussels were on special. They are cheap and easy to cook. Once mussels open, it is ready to serve, but do not overcook it, otherwise it will taste rubbery. Last year in July, I made Mussels Marinières, a famous mussel dish in white wine sauce, this recipe went Top 9 on Foodbuzz. This time, I went for an Asian approach for cooking the mussels and it turns out pretty good.

Preparation Time: 5 mins + cleaning, about 20 mins
Cooking Time: about 8 mins, until mussels open.
Printable Recipe


1 celery stalk, sliced
2-3 tbsp ginger, cut in sticks
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 tsp soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock
2 lb mussels, cleaned
1 tbsp parsley, chopped (optional)


1. In a soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Cook celery and ginger for 2-3 mins. Add in garlic and cook for 1 min until fragrant.

2. Add soy sauce, oyster sauce and stock. Combine and add in the mussels. Cover and cook until mussels have opened, about 5 mins.

3. Transfer mussels into serving bowl and pour sauce over it. Garnish with parsley.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Strawberry Banana Muffins

I have to admit that I haven't bake muffins for a while, the last ones were Moist and Healthy Banana Muffins and Banana Chocolate Chip Bread. Here's another banana muffin involving fresh strawberries. Any other fresh fruits left in your fridge can also be used. This recipe can also be found on Joy of Baking.

Makes 12 muffins
Preparation Time: 15 mins
Baking Time: 25 mins
Printable Recipe


2-3 ripe bananas
2 eggs
1/2 cup margarine or butter, melted
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup fresh strawberries, chopped


1. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly butter and flour 12 muffin cups.

2. In a large bowl, mash bananas. Whisk in eggs, margarine, sugar and vanilla extract.

3. In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Gently fold in the strawberries. Incorporate gradually the dry ingredients into the liquid mixture.

4. Divide batter evenly among 12 muffin cups. Bake for 25 minutes or until it passes the toothpick test. Rotate muffin pan halfway.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Lemon Meringue Pie

Have you ever tried to make your own meringue pie? I have to admit that this is my first attempt in making lemon meringue pie and surprisingly, it turns out great. The balance of sweetness and sourness is incredible, everyone should give it a try if you never made one in your life. This recipe is adapted from one of my favorite blog, Kitchen Parade. If you're busy and want to skip the "making piecrust" step, feel free to buy store-bought piecrust.

Here's a neat trick to know if your egg whites have reached stiff peaks found on Christine Cushing's cooking show (Fearless in the Kitchen). Simply invert the bowl of egg whites and hope that they would not fall on the ground. Another trick is found on the Dark Chocolate Mousse post.

Preparation Time: 20 mins
Cooking Time: 15 mins
Baking Time: 15-20 mins
Printable Recipe


1 baked pie shell or 1 store-bought graham pie crust

Lemon Filling
1/2 cup sugar
3 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup water
3 tbsp butter
4 egg yolks
2 lemons, juiced and zested

4 egg whites
pinch cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar


1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. Filling: In saucepan, stir sugar, cornstarch, salt and water. Turn to medium heat, cook until it bubbles, stir often.

3. Cook for an additional 3 mins, stir constantly. Turn heat off.

4. Beat egg yolks in bowl, then add in half cup of the hot mixture, immediately whisk.

5. Whisk combined mixture to the saucepan.

6. Turn to medium heat, cook for 3 more minutes, stir constantly. Turn off heat. Add butter, zest and lemon juice.

7. Meringue: In large bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until frothy. Gradually add in the sugar. Beat until stiff peaks.

8. Pour filling into pie shell.

9. With a spoon, spread meringue around the perimeter. Don't cover edges. Fill the center.

10. Bake for 15-20 mins until golden brown. Cool and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Quesadillas with Prosciutto and Sun-dried Tomatoes

Quesadillas are quick, tasty and simple to make, great for appetizer, main dish and even breakfast. Prosciutto is one of my favorite ingredient, I really missed its salty taste, the last time was in May 2009 with Zucchini Prosciutto Sandwiches, it has been almost a year that I haven't touched it. I still have half a jar of sun-dried tomatoes left from the Mediterranean Rolls and cheddar cheese. This combo gives an amazing taste.

Makes 1 quesadilla
Preparation Time : 5 mins
Cooking Time : 5 mins
Printable Recipe


2 tortillas
5 slices of sun-dried tomatoes, cut in half
2-3 slices prosciutto
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated


1. In a skillet, melt butter or margarine over medium heat. Place a tortilla in the skillet and cook for 30 seconds per side. Set aside and repeat with the second tortilla.

2. On the tortilla, layer half of the cheese, prosciutto, sun-dried tomatoes and remaining cheese. Top with the other tortilla.

3. Cook quesadillas until golden brown on both sides and cheese melted, flipping once.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Malaysian Steamed Cake - Ma Lai Koh (Short Version)

Did it occur to you that at some random time you are craving for a dish you haven't eaten in years? For the past years, most of my favorite Dim Sum restaurants don't serve Malaysian cakes ("Ma Lai Koh" in Chinese). One of my mother's friend loves to make Chinese pastry and I do learn a lot from her. This recipe is a "shortcut" version using Betty Crocker Cake Mix, impressively it matches the taste of what you can find in the restaurant. The "long" version uses custard powder, it might be hard to find in regular supermarket. Chances are you can find it in a Chinese supermarket.

Preparation Time : 20 mins
Steaming Time : 30-35 mins
Printable Recipe


3 eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 lb glutinous rice flour
1 package Betty Crocker Cake Mix (preferably lemon, any other flavours work as well)


1. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, milk and water.

2. In a separate bowl, combine and sift rice flour and cake.

3. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the liquid mixture until combined.

4. Lightly grease two 8'' baking pans. Pour batter into each of the pans.

5. Steam for 30-35 mins or until it passes the toothpick test.


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