Frita de Tita

Frita de Tita is a tomato and bell pepper salad from The Scent of Orange Blossoms. If you’re wondering where the term Tita comes from well that just means auntie and I’m pretty sure frita means salad but I couldn’t get a fact check on that one.

I love that the authors of this book include family recipes. Who doesn’t love a revered dish from a relative? Personally I have many loved dishes from my aunties and uncles, but my all time favorite dish comes from an uncle who makes a chicken and noodle dish from scratch.

I loved those noodles so much that during Thanksgiving, as a child, when it was time for round 2 I’d come back with a giant plate of just noodles. I was fine with one round of everything else you see. My family thought this was funny and teases me about it to this day.  That side of the family never forgets…

What you’ll need

  • 4 bell peppers, roasted and seeded (Feel free to use a variety of bell peppers)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 4 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and coarsely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 3/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika

The first step is to roast your peppers. Do so by pre-heating your oven to broil and lining a baking pan with foil. Place each pepper in the pan and boil for 10-12 minutes. turn them over about half way to make sure they blister evenly.

Once the boiling process is over, place the peppers in a bowl and wrap with plastic wrap. Let this cool for 15-20 minutes and then peel the skin and remove the core and seeds.

Once this is done you can cut the pepper into 1/2 inch strips. There will be a lot of juice as you cut so store them in a colander to drain until further notice.

This next step can be done while the peppers cool and/or broil and that step is peeling and seeding your tomatoes.

The first step in this process is to cut each tomato lightly with an x on the base. Then place the tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds. Once time is up, drain the water and allow the tomatoes to cool. Once they have cooled done enough to touch, peel off the skin and cut the tomatoes in half. Once halved, you can gently squeeze out the seeds and dice them up.

Once those tomatoes are ready we can combine them in our skillet along with olive oil, garlic, sugar, and tomato paste. Cook this mixture until the liquid from the tomatoes evaporates. This should take 12-15 minutes.

By now the peppers should be ready to also be added. If not wait, waiting until they are is advised. Add them along with salt and paprika. Then cover this mixture and stir occasionally for 10-15 minutes. We want this mixture to thicken and once that goal has been attained remove the lid and cook until most of the liquid evaporates.

This should also take around 10 minutes.

Once everything looks good remove from the heat and allow the salad to cool to room temperature for serving!

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As you can see this pepper salad is quite the colorful beauty and the looks match up to the taste.

It is intended to be eaten as a side dish but the cookbook mentions it can be enjoyed with poached eggs as a light meal. I opted for light dinner with that in mind and it was quite good. I’d describe it as a bell pepper version of Huevos Rancheros without beans and tortillas.

Speaking of Latin American food fare, this would make an excellent fajita topping.

I’m getting ideas here folks. I’ve seen Indian and Mexican fusion as well as Korean and Mexican, but what about Jewish Moroccan and Mexican? Seems legit right?

Whether you decide to fusion it up or not, I recommend you try out this dish. Aunties everywhere will be pleased that you did.

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Isa’s Faux Clam Chowder

I do admire vegans. Their love of animals is so monumental that even consuming cheese and dairy is an affront to their animal friends.

I love animals myself, but I also love cheese and dairy products. I don’t know if I can give that up. What I can do and would like to see happen is for all of us animal lovers to demand better treatment to the animals so that vegans can enjoy cheese and dairy again. I know some of us are already fighting the good fight, but vegans are still not able to enjoy the comforts of dairy and cheese.

I think our animal friends wouldn’t mind us enjoying such treats from them as long as it didn’t stem from abuse.

I’m not vegan, so this is my limited understanding that it’s the treatment of dairy animals that causes vegans to boycott it. Anyone reading this can feel free to educate me more on this issue. I would like to know, so feel free.

Another dairy rich meal I love is clam chowder and I was excited to see how the vegan alternative from Isa Does It would turn it out. True, you can’t have the clams, but what you can have is mushrooms and I do love mushrooms.

What you’ll need

  • 1 cup of cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion diced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch thick half moons
  • 3/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth
  • 4 teaspoons of organic cornstarch
  • 4 ounces of shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces white button mushrooms, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 3 ribs of celery, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • ground black pepper
  • 1 or 2 nori sheets, finely chopped
  • 3 cups of vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice

The first step is remind you that this recipe takes some early preparation due to the cashew cream ingredient.

To make the cashew cream you just soak the cashews ahead of time for at least two hours. This soaking process can go up to three days if you really want to prepare. If you forgot and don’t have time to soak, you can also boil them for 15 minutes.

Whatever method you end up using, the final step for cashew cream is to blend it.

By the way, if you have a high powered blender you don’t have to soak at all. I’d make sure this is the case before you go all crazy and start blending things. Last year I got a nice high powered blender, but I still soak the cashews because I figure even strong items need a break now and then.

When you do blend the cashews, drain the water first and add 2 cups of vegetable broth and cornstarch.

While this is happening or even before if you want, pre-heat your largest soup pot over medium heat and add oil. Once pot is heated, add the onions and carrots with a little bit of salt. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the carrots soften.

Let’s revisit the cashew cream now. Is it smooth? If no, then keep blending. If it’s a little grainy, that’s fine, but we want it as smooth as possible.

Ok, let’s check out the carrots and onions now. If they are good, add the mushrooms and celery. Cook this for 3 minutes or until they soften. Then add the potatoes, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, pepper, nori, and 3 cups of vegetable broth.

Bring this mixture to a boil by covering the pot with a lid. Once boiled, remove the lid and lower the temperature so that the soup can simmer for 10-15 minutes. Don’t let the potatoes turn to mush, though! We want them to be like my idea of a perfect man, tender but still strong. Nobody wants a mush of a man.

At least I don’t…maybe some people do.

Anyway, now it’s time to add in the cashew cream sauce. Allow it to cook under low heat for 7 minutes. You’ll know it’s about ready when it thickens up and when this happens you will add the tomato paste, lemon juice, and more salt and pepper to your liking.

We are now ready to serve! Do so by garnishing your bowl of faux chowder with chopped parsley and/or chives, crackers, and lemon wedges.

I opted for parsley, chives, and lemon.

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As I mentioned earlier, I love clam chowder and while I thought this was a good substitute, it just wasn’t clam chowder folks.

I think if I ate this soup as a creature of his own design, I would like it more. The mushrooms are nice and chewy. You can’t go wrong with shiitake for me.

The potatoes also pair well with the cashew cream and that portion of the soup did remind me a bit of clam chowder.

It still wasn’t clam chowder, though. It just wasn’t.

This soup makes me think of a Pulp song I like called Bad Cover Version.

Here are some lyrics that reflect my feelings.

It’s like a later Tom And Jerry, when the two of them could talk
Like the Stones since the Eighties
Like the last days of Southfork
Like Planet Of The Apes on TV
The second side of Til The Band Comes In
Like an own brand box of cornflakes:
He’s going to let you down, my friend
Listen to the whole thing if you want later. It’s one of my favorite bands and I haven’t listened to them in awhile so I’m probably going to do that now.
Til next time friends.

Pineapple Ham Cake

Hello dear readers!

It rained a couple of days ago in Los Angeles and yet the clouds still hang low. The sun is in hiding, cause all that rain frizzed out her hair and she doesn’t want anyone to look at her.

It is a dreary day here in the city of angels and the Angelenos don’t know how to cope. They are supposed to be sunny and inviting. Reverie for the dreamers on those infamous  winter days.

What do you do when you can’t California dream?

You call up your cuz Hawaii and say. “Aloha cuz! Is it still paradise over there?”

“Yeah man! What’s up over there?”

“Well you know, we’re kind of a second rate paradise compared to you, but lately I’ve just wanted to slap on a beanie, wear some flannel, and smoke cigarettes while I drink coffee and contemplate the meaning of my existence.”

Hawaii pauses to think what could cheer up Cali cuz. “…would you like a pineapple? I mean I could send you some spam as well and maybe you could…”

Cali rips off their beanie, unbuttons the flannel, and snatches the pineapple out of Hawaii’s hands, “Oh sweet a pineapple! I’m good on that spam though!”

Under Cali’s breath, “Hawaii and their spam fixation, what a weirdo.”

“Okay well hope you enjoy! A hui hou!”

Under Hawaii’s breath, “Man I’m tired of Cali snubbing spam. They’re probably going to have ham with that pineapple. What a waste!”

And so dear readers, we shall have ham with our pineapple and with the help of Taste of Home Cooking for Two we will bring that paradise to our stomachs.

What you’ll need

  • 1 can (8 ounces) sliced pineapple
  • 2 tablespoons of beaten egg
  • 2 tablespoons of 2% milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tablespoons dry bread crumbs
  • 1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/4 pound fully cooked ground ham (about 1 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar

Our first step is to crack open that can of pineapple. Drain the juice, but don’t throw it out, we will be using it later as a glaze.

Get two round containers that are about 10-oz. Taste of Home recommends ramekins or custard cups. I had neither of these. I made this a couple of weeks ago and can’t recall if I just used a bowl or just cooked it on a pan. The point is that you can make this without a custard cup, but I do think you should use it if you’ve got one.

Whatever you end up using, you’ll want to spray that device with a non stick cooking spray and then place your pineapple in it.

Next, get out a mixing bowl and combine the egg, milk, Worcestershire sauce, bread crumbs, 1/4 teaspoon of mustard, and a dash of salt and pepper. Once this mixture is well combined, sprinkle in the pork and ham and mix everything together as evenly as possible.

We are now ready to form our ham patty. Do so by dividing this mixture into two round forms like a burger patty.

Place each patty on top of each pineapple ring.

While they sit there, in a small bowl mix brown sugar, remaining mustard, and one tablespoon of pineapple juice. Once mixed, pour this mixture on top of your patties and bake!

Pineapple ham cakes should be baked under 350 for 35-40 minutes and you’ll know it’s ready when the pork turns slightly brown.

When this happens remove from the oven, flip pineapple side up, and enjoy!

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Spam and custard cups not required

Does the pineapple ham cake bring paradise? Yes, yes it does.

Have you ever had a thick chunk of ham with pineapple? Pineapple ham cake is like a modification of that. Both are delicious, thick, juicy, and slightly sweet.

I ate this plain, but I think it would make an excellent sandwich or “ham” burger if you will.

Side note, did you know hamburgers got their fame from Hamburg and that’s why we call them hamburgers? Why are so many food origins linked to common names for other foods/countries? Like German chocolate cake. It’s not German, just some dude whose last name was German made it. Strange right?

Moving on, I have to say this is a heavenly modification of the classic pineapple and ham paring. It fits perfectly in the hammy city of angels, but you can enjoy it anywhere and you should.

 

Shrimp and Scallop Salad

Well folks, I have another easy recipe to write about.

If you’re looking for a challenge I suggest renting a boat and fishing for your own scallops and shrimp, otherwise there’s not a whole lot of challenge to this salad from At Home with the French Classics.

Not that there is anything wrong with that, I just miss the days when something would go wrong and I could write something funny and entertaining. Talk about challenges. I am challenged in the being entertaining department these days.

What you’ll need

  • 3/4 pound of large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 3/4 pound of sea scallops, rinsed, tendon removed
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice or white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons light olive oil
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh herbs, dill, chives, or basil
  • 1 large head Bibb lettuce, separated into leaves

The first step is boil 3 quarts of water. Place your seafood in the water and cook until the water reaches a boil again. Once it boils again, drain the water and rinse the seafood under cold water.

Grab the shrimp and slice in half vertically. Do the same with the scallops only horizontally. You can slice the scallops 2-3 times as well to make the slices smaller.

Once the seafood is sliced, set aside and grab a bowl that will be able to hold all ingredients.

We are not going to add everything just yet, because we need to make the vinaigrette. Do so by mixing the lemon juice and mustard and then the oil. Whisk this away and then season with salt and pepper.

Finally add the herbs and set aside.

We are now ready to serve.

To serve, grab a plate and add a handful of lettuce to it. Then whisk your vinaigrette mixture so it is smooth again and add the seafood. Toss the seafood and vinaigrette together until everything is coated well and then add this mixture to our plates.

By the way, you can get creative with your serving and make a circular design with your salad by overlapping the shrimp and scallops or just place the seafood in the middle with the lettuce surrounding the outer edges.

I opted for just mixing everything together. It didn’t occur to me that I could be creative until after I had already dumped everything together.

Feel free to do what you wish. I would advise no triangles though.

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This is a simple recipe with a simple taste and there’s not much to say. I recommend enjoying this on a hot summer day when you just want to be whisked away to a beachfront locale where everything is perfect and airy.

It’s how I imagine The Hamptons would be if you didn’t look beyond surface appearances.

Yakisoba with Shrimp

Yakisoba is a Japanese noodle that can be best described as the Japanese version of lo mein. This is because they are both thin noodles that are also slightly thick and chewy. Both generally are made as stir-fry, but yakisoba is also enjoyed as a noodle soup and that is the variation we will be cooking from Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Meals.

What you’ll need

  • 1 32 ounce container of chicken broth
  • 1 cup of peas
  • 1 cup of carrot slices
  • 1 tablespoon of dark sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of Szechuan stir fry sauce
  • 17 ounces of refrigerated yakisoba noodles
  • 1 pound of medium shrimp, peeled

The first step is to combine the broth, peas, carrots, sesame oil, soy sauce, and Szechuan sauce in a large pot. Set your stove to high heat so the mixture can boil. Once it’s boiled, reduce heat to low and let it simmer for 6 minutes.

Once the 6 minutes are up add your yakisoba and kick the heat up again to high. Allow this to boil and like before return it to a simmer once it starts boiling. This time we will simmer for 2 minutes. When those 2 minutes are up, add the shrimp and simmer for an additional 2 minutes or until the shrimp has been properly heated through.

Your yakisoba should now be ready to serve!

Do so by grabbing the yakisoba first with tongs or a pasta ladle and then pouring in the broth like so.

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I’m generally impressed with Sandra Lee, but I finally found a recipe that didn’t impress. To be fair to Sandra Lee, I think I’ve been spoiled by all the tasty asian cuisine that surrounds Los Angeles.

That and my Janpanese bestie who has spoiled me with her excellent cooking. When you combine these two experiences your standards go up.

I try to not be too snobbish despite this and I will say that most of this recipe was fine, it’s just the broth is lacking in flavor. It’s too bland. Most noodle soups I’ve consumed made from my bestie or at a restaurant tend to be quite flavorful.

I’m guessing the restaurants use fresh marinated chicken broth and this is why their broth is so flavorful, but my friend is able to make flavorful soup without making her own chicken broth. This leads me to believe some sort of spice or ingredient is missing.

I’ll have to ask my friend if she has any insights. For now, I’ll tell you that it needs something to make it richer and I suggest researching what would help contribute to a richer flavor.

Other than that, this was quite good. You can’t go wrong with yakisoba. It’s a comfort noodle for sure and combining shrimp with peas and carrots is never a bad idea.

If you’re picky about that broth, like I was, you could probably cook down the broth and have yourself some marinated stir fry. I could foresee that being a tasty alternative and would love to hear if I’m right.

Spicy Ground Pork in Basil Leaves

Good news everyone! I have another winner from The Everything Thai Cookbook! 

I made this with my LA bestie one Sunday afternoon at her home in the deep north of the valleys of Los Angeles.

Conditions were fair that afternoon, so fair that I don’t have any notes of interest about our cooking process. I can only say we both liked this recipe and had fun making it together.

Let’s get straight to the punch then!

What you’ll need

  • Juice of 1-2 limes
  • 1/2 pound of ground pork
  • 3 tablespoons of fish sauce
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 tablespoon ground dried chili pepper
  • 5 sprigs cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon toasted rice powder
  • Lettuce and/or large basil leaves

The first step is to squeeze half of the juice of a lime on the pork. Let it marinate in the juices as you slice your shallot and chop your cilantro.

Now get a skillet out and heat it on high. Add a couple of tablespoons of water and stir in the pork. Cook it completely through then remove the excess fat.

We are now ready to combine everything but the lettuce and basil into a bowel. Do so and  feel free to adjust lime juice to taste.

Once everything has been throughly mixed you will be ready to serve and eat!

The consumption and serving protocol is a lot like chips and salsa only with meat and lettuce. Lettuce being your chips and the pork being the salsa. Both require scooping and placing in your mouth!

As I mentioned earlier, this turned out extremely well. My bestie and I were pleasantly surprised. Even my bestie’s husband liked it and he can be a little picky in comparison to the two of us.

Taste wise it reminds me a lot of Vietnamese noodle bowls only without the noodles. I think this is because both use ground pork, basil, and light fish sauce.

The ground pork gives both dishes a grainy and chewy texture that is complimented with a slight tang from the fish sauce.

All in all I am so pleased to have another win from this cookbook and look forward to the next recipe.

Hope all of you enjoy this as well!

 

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Olives Rolled around in Fried Breadcrumbs

I have changed the translation of this recipe from Sicilian Cookery to the above, because I feel it is mis-leading. The cookbook translated Olive Con Pangrattato Fritto to Fried Breaded Olives. This puzzles me.

I know this is an authentic Italian cookbook that was translated into English because my sister got it for me when she visited Italy. The Italian portion should be correct but it doesn’t add up for me.

I studied Italian in college and I wouldn’t brag about my translation abilities, but I’m pretty sure fritto is Italian for fried. I did not know what pangrattato meant and had to look it up. It means breadcrumbs.

Olives = Olives, Con = with, Pangrattato = Breadcrumbs, and Fritto = Fried.When we put it all together and translate this literally, it’d be Olives with Fried Breadcrumbs.

Olives with Fried Breadcrumbs is a more honest and accurate translation in my opinion.

My current job is quality control for subtitles. I’ve seen a lot of languages pass my way and have encountered cases where translators debate on how to translate because just like certain words in English can mean the same thing, they can also be interpreted differently depending on where you live and/or the placement of such translated words.

In this case, I think the term fried solely applies to the breadcrumbs, whereas in the United States, when we say fried we mean the whole damn thing is fried. If it’s just one portion we are quick to point that out.

What can I say, we enjoy the delicacies of frying and to flat out translate this as Fried Breaded Olives, just makes it seem like it’s fried olives. It’s offensive I say to trick us like this!

Of course, I’m just joking around and translating is a hard gig. It’s a lot of pressure. You gotta be careful sometimes. Still at the end of the day, this translation is mis-leading. I’d reject it if I was translation q.c.

What you’ll need

  • 1 pound/3 cups of green olives, scored
  • 4 ounces/1 cup of dry breadcrumbs
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • hot red pepper
  • olive oil
  • vinegar

The first step is to fry the breadcrumbs, do so by heating a little oil in your pan, adding the crumbs, and stirring continuously.

In a bowl, get your olives and toss them around with your seasoning of garlic and some chopped parsley that was not mentioned in the ingredient list for some reason.

To be fair, parsley is practically in every Italian recipe. It’s just something a chef of Italian cuisine should just know.

We will then add the hot pepper, olive oil, a pinch of vinegar, and the fried breadcrumbs.

Mix this well and serve!

I brought this recipe over to my friend’s place because I wanted verification that I was reading the recipe right. Despite knowing Italian I was thrown off by the whole fried breaded olives interpretation.

We read the instructions a couple of times and determined that was indeed not fried. So we moved forward and created the below.

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Blessed be the olives

I’m not going to lie, they’re a little odd, but they aren’t bad. Ultimately I don’t know if I liked this enough to make again. My friend seemed to like it, but I was on the fence. The breadcrumbs were just too crumbly for me.

What I liked most were the olives. Why bother spreading bread crumbs all over if they aren’t enhancing the taste?

This might be wonderful for some people, but I’ll admit I’m just not really feeling it. I recommend making this recipe but leaving the breadcrumbs out.

Then again, if you’re like me and enjoy trying new things, you really should just try it and decide for yourself.

Choose your own adventure folks. It’s the way of life.