Vlad’s Kebabs

Dearest readers, how have I missed thee.

Apologies for the hiatus. I was too busy to cook the last few weeks, which meant I couldn’t write about cooking.

Our time apart has been well spent, though I did miss all of you. In case you’re curious what kept me, well I was performing in a little play called Othello and I’ve been taking a stand-up comedy class so expect classier jokes in the near future.

My pesky day job is also a thing that keeps me away, but that’s not fun to talk about so I’d rather move on to my next recipe which is chorizo and mushroom kebabs from I Love Spice.

What you’ll need

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 24 slices of chorizo, each about a half inch thick
  • 24 button mushrooms
  • 1 green bell pepper, roasted, peeled, and cut into 24 squares

Kebabs are the best aren’t they? They don’t require a lot of skill. You just grill some stuff and then stab it with a stake.

I dare say this had to be Vlad the Impaler’s favorite meal to cook.

I must caution you readers, however, that when it comes to chorizo we can’t be all Vlad the Impaler about it. We have to choose wisely and pick the right chorizo. Not every chorizo can be impaled. Mexican chorizo, for example is usually grounded and crumbly which means it is unable to be staked.

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Sorry Vlad, you just can’t impale Mexican chorizo

What we want to buy is Spanish chorizo which usually comes cured and dried aka a solid form of sausage.

My neighborhood Vons did not have Spanish chorizo, but they did have longaniza which google has told me is similar to chorizo and even better is in a solid shape that one can hopefully impale.

Now that we got that important info out of the way, the only step that I need to advise you on is roasting your pepper.

I recommend roasting it in an oven with a pan coated in olive oil under 400 for 20 minutes. When the 20 minutes are up, turn the pepper so it can have an even tan and roast for another 20 minutes.

Once this step is over, remove the pepper from the oven and allow it to cool so you can remove the skin and cut it into 24 squares.

While the peppers are cooling you might as well get started on cooking your chorizo. To do so, get a skillet and coat that in olive oil. Heat the skillet under medium heat and then add the chorizo.

Now if you got dried and cured chorizo, you should only need to cook this for 20 seconds, but if you had to substitute like me, you’ll need to cook for a longer amount of time, because 20 seconds is going to give you a health code violation for sure.

Once your meat is cooked throughly, we can add the mushrooms into the skillet. Cook this for 1-2 minutes. You’ll know the mushrooms are ready when they look slightly brown and are glossy just like Vlad after a hard day of impaling people.

Speaking of Vlad, we are now ready for his favorite part! Making the actual kebab!

All you have to do is impale a bell pepper, followed by a mushroom, and then a kebab.

You can use a toothpick to make this more of an appetizer or get your large stake and make it a meal.

The choice is up to you for your enjoyment.

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So as you may have guessed from the professional photo above, I failed. Turns out that longaniza is not easily impaled. It is more solid than Mexican chorizo, but it fell apart when I tried to stab it.

I will say that this combo is tasty one, so if you find the right chorizo do give it a try. Otherwise I recommend making yourself some chorizo and eggs instead of a kebab.

 

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Nectarine and Radish Salsa

This refreshing salsa come from Cooking Light’s summer edition and I can tell you now if you want to make it right, please wait til summer.

Frequent readers know that I like to challenge myself and be resourceful and sometimes rebellious in my cooking. I do this not only for the value of entertainment, (which is hopefully entertaining to you as it is to me), but so you can learn from my mistakes.

I personally trust those who inform me of their mistakes more than those who claim perfection.

Show me the person who is perfect and I’ll look for some kind of loophole. Like maybe they came from space. It’s not a thing that should be ruled out folks.

What you’ll need.

  • 2 1/4 cups (1/4-inch) diced nectarines
  • 1 1/2 cups radishes, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped cucumber
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

The major ingredient in this salsa is nectarines which is why I strongly suggest you only make this dish in the summer. I made it in the winter and could not find nectarines to save my life.

I also could not find fresh peaches, which is the alternative I was hoping to use. What I opted for was canned peaches, which messed with the texture of the salsa and left me feeling a bit disappointed.

If you absolutely have to use canned peaches as a substitute, drain the liquid as much as possible.

Other than nectarines, the ingredients should be easy to find. The rest of the steps are also easy peachy.  All you have to do is mix everything together and then let it sit for a half hour.

That’s all there is to it.

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Again, this turned out ok, but the texture was off which disappointed me.  The canned peaches caused too much saturation and as I mentioned earlier were too mushy.

I think if done right, it should come out like a fruity ceviche which I suppose can also be a bit saturated, but I’d say a good ceviche should be more like a steady creek stream instead of a roaring river or lake as it was in my case.

Despite my disappointment I do recommend giving this is a try. I’m sure it’d be satisfying in the summer time on a hot day.

I look forward to hearing if that’s the case.

Darling Party Bread Spread

Olives know how to party according to Carol Darling from Tastes of Monroe County.

By the way, I didn’t know Darling was a real name. I thought that was just a cutsie thing made up for Peter Pan. The Darlings. Wendy Darling. Pan’s little precious.

I wonder if that’s why Tink was so annoyed with him. Maybe she felt he picked Wendy to give a thimble kiss to based on her last name. It seems something a man with Peter Pan syndrome would do right?

Sadly I’ve become a bitter lady and what once was a cute movie about a boy who got to fly and hang out with a badass fairy is now a metaphor of all the immature men out there promising you Neverland and not delivering.

That’s why it’s called Neverland, cause it’s never going to happen.

You know what can happen though? Olive party spreads.

So let’s forget about the Pans in our lives and deal with the bitterness by cooking.

What you’ll need

  • 1 cup of finely chopped pecans
  • 2 large hard boiled eggs, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion minced
  • 1/2 cup of mayo
  • 1 4 ounce jar of green pimento olives, finely chopped

Another reason this recipe is your answer when recovering from bitterness about Pans is that all you have to do is combine all ingredients together and then stick in the fridge.

Like with Pan, you’ll have to wait around, but only for 6 hours and un-like Pan the olive spread will deliver on it’s promises.

Enjoy the spread with crackers or bread as the title suggests. You can party with either one. I myself chose crackers.

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If you just look at the ingredients in this spread it sounds very odd, but don’t discredit it. It’s actually palatable. I was pleased with the results. The consistency and taste were similar to a cream cheese, cheese ball my uncle makes. Which is scrumptious by the way.

The mayo combined with the egg created a smooth cheese-like texture while the olive, onions, and pecans assisted in giving a slightly bitter and chunky flavor. The olives did make it more bitter than a cheese ball, but I still feel like they are similar enough that you could call them first cousins.

Despite the similarities, I don’t think it’s a healthier alternative to a cheese ball. If your mind was going there. I’d need a nutritionist to look into it, but I’m pretty sure mayo is just as bad as cream cheese. It might be slightly less in calorie-intake, but not enough to justify as a replacement if you have a cheese ball addiction.

Whether you do or not, I recommend trying this spread out. It’s not difficult to make and most of you know I like to encourage trying new things. It makes life enjoyable.

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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