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.

 

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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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Plum Preserves

I’m going to admit something slightly embarrassing to all of you.

I took the term preserve too literally and didn’t realize that this was actually a jelly or jam if you will. Preserves to me are vegetables and fruits that are preserved. I mean that’s what I call a “preserve.”

This is exactly what jam and jelly are as well, but I interpreted the term for a broader base.

After trying to eat this preserve as a side item, I realized that this was more of a jelly. That and a phone conversation with my boyfriend who is mostly from the south. Why mostly? He moved around a lot as a kid. I’d say he’s a southern boy with a dash of mid-west.

Below our conversation,

“What are you making this time?”

“It’s a plum preserve…it’s kinda like a sweet plum applesauce type of thing.”

Boyfriend pauses for a moment. “….I think that’s a jelly! Ooh I’m excited! I’m pretty sure a preserve is a jelly.”

Being the sweet southern man that he is I’m pretty sure he knew this all along but didn’t want to make me feel stupid. Those southerners like to preserve your pride when they like you. I appreciate it.

Wherever you hail from and whether you enjoy jellies, jams, or preserves then you should try out this plum preserve from Cooking Light. It’s surprisingly easy to make and delicious!

What you need

  • 6 cups of sliced ripe plums (about three pounds)
  • 2 1/4 cups of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 4-inch cinnamon stick

The first thing you’re going to do is combine plums and sugar in a bowl. Once combined, cover and leave on your room temperature counter for 8 hours.

Then combine all the ingredients, including your plum mixture into a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce your heat so that it only simmers and cover the pot for 15 minutes.

Once those 15 minutes are up, uncover and cook for an additional hour.

While this cooking process occurs be sure to stir and mash the mixture every few minutes or so. When the hour is up you should have a nice even consistency that resembles a jelly.

Pour this into a large bowl to cool and throw away your cinnamon stick.  Once it’s chilled out you can then enjoy your jelly!

This turned out really well and it tasted like apple pie to me. Granted these are plums, but the taste of cinnamon and the slight gooey and chewy plums reminded me of that coveted pie.

Once I realized this was a jelly, I served it with cream cheese on a cracker as you can see below.

I also brought some to work and a co-worker liked it so much she took some to her grandmother. I was told the grandmother approved. She apparently is a preserve connoisseur.

If you haven’t gotten the hint, then let me be east coast blunt and tell you that you need to try this as soon as you can! It’s delicious and so easy to make! You’d be a moron not to try!

Midwest translation, “I think you should try this. It’s good and easy to make.”

Southern translation. “Honey you gotta try this! My grandma used to make preserves for me as a child and I’m telling you this is just so easy to make. You won’t regret it.”

West coast translation, “You should really think about making your own jelly. When you’re in control of your own food intake you can cut out all the preservatives and chemicals that are being forced fed into our body by the food industry. It’s a real comfort to know my jelly is completely organic.”

Plum preserve in a bowl

Jelly and cream cheese

 

The Scent of Fried Eggplant

Some of you may be thinking, “Oh no…not another eggplant recipe!”

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I get it, I like eggplant, but I’m getting tired of writing about it. So how do we make this fried recipe from The Scent of Orange Blossoms interesting?

History. Provided you find history interesting. I’ll make it entertaining….

Eggplant did not come from an Isle of Eggplants, but from the regions of India and China. It then spread in both directions, west and east where it ended up in Egypt, the Iberian peninsula and finally England. The Wikipedia page on eggplant pulled a quote from a British writer that states

This plant groweth in Egypt almost everywhere. -English Botanist 1597

The people of the western side of Earth loved this purple cucumber and it followed many cultures and crossed the pond into the Americas in such a fashion that would make a bodysnatcher proud.

If this little history lesson hasn’t amped you up enough, I have another tidbit for you. Apparently at some point in China’s history the below quote was a thing.

In China, as part of her “bride price,” a woman must have at least 12 eggplant recipes prior to her wedding day. –The Elegant Eggplant

So ladies, if you’re single this is number 4 of eggplant recipes that I have written about. You’ll need 8 more if you want to get married and I’ll certainly update you if I come across more.

What you’ll need

  • 1 globe eggplant
  • 1/3 cup of olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 12 sprigs of parsley, chopped
  • finely minced rind of 1/2 preserved lemon
  • 3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar or balsamic

The first step is to cut the eggplant into 1/2 thick slices. Then place them on paper towels and salt them. This will help with the frying process later.

Let the eggplant soak in its salt bath for about 15 minutes and then turn over the slices and repeat on the other side.

This is like eggplant’s version of sunbathing/spa treatment.

After both sides have been salted, rinse the eggplant with water, pat dry, and then set aside.

Get more paper towels and line a baking sheet with them.

Side note, what did people do before paper towels for these eggplants? I’m sure they just used a towel of some sort, but it had to have been a super absorbent one right? The middle ages version of a shamwow is what I’m picturing.

We are now ready to fry the eggplant. Do so by heating two tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Add just enough eggplant that each slice has its space and then fry each side. You’ll know they’ve been fried enough when the eggplant establishes a light brown color. Once each side is fried, allow it to drain on your paper towel pan.

Once they’ve cooled you can garnish with garlic, parsley, preserved lemon rind, and vinegar.

After this process they are ready to be served and enjoyed!

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Eggplant, (2018) fried in pan

 

Noodle Nuggets with Cheese Sauce

Have you ever had a noodle nugget? Well, I have and it’s all thanks to laziness.

So how do you create a noodle nugget? First step is to try to make your own pasta with a recipe from Classic Pasta at Home after your 9-5 job by yourself, get tired, and end up with pasta that’s 10 times thicker than water. Then you bring leftovers for your friends to enjoy who don them noodle nuggets.

Let me quickly add that my friends actually liked the noodle nuggets, but we all like to tease and have quirky senses of humor, thus noodle nuggets were born.

What you’ll need for noodle nuggets

  • 2 1/4 cups of un-bleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten

What you’ll need for noodle nugget cheese sauce

  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 cup of chicken broth
  • 3 ounces of fontina cheese, grated
  • 2 ounces of Gorgonzola cheese
  • 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of parsley

Our first step will be to make the noodle nuggets. By the way, feel free to not make noodle nuggets and buy fettuccine instead. You’ll be missing out though.

Place flour in a mound on a flat clean surface. Make a well in the center and add the beaten eggs. Using a fork, gradually mix the sides of the wall into the egg. Do this carefully so your wall doesn’t breach.

Continue this process until you can safely mix all the flour in and the dough is no longer wet.

You are no ready to knead the dough. Prepare your hands by dusting flour on them and then press your knuckles into the dough in a semi-circular motion until the dough is no longer sticky.

Divide the dough in half and roll out your divided half until smooth and flat. If you have a pasta machine, make it flat enough so it can go through the machine at the widest setting. Fold into thirds to make a rectangle and then flatten the dough again. Pass the dough into the machine again and repeat 9 times. Fold the dough into thirds after each pass through as well.

Set the machine to it’s second widest setting and pass the dough through. Continue this process but with each pass change the setting one notch lower.

Repeat this process with your other half and then cut the dough into strips. This will give you fettucine.

If you want noodle nuggets, do this same process until you’re like, “Eh, that’s good enough, I’m getting tired.”

Whichever pasta you choose to make, you’re now ready to boil water to cook the pasta. Do that. If you don’t know how to do that, just put water in a pot and then heat it until the water boils.

While that’s happening, combine cream and broth in a large skillet. Let it simmer over medium heat until it thickens. Reduce the heat to low once it’s thick and then stir in the cheeses. Let them melt and then add pepper and salt.

Allow the sauce to thin out and once it has thinned, keep it warm over low heat.

The water should be boiling at this point, which means you can cook your pasta. Allow the pasta to only cook for about a minute. Drain the water and then add the pasta to the cheese sauce. Increase the heat to medium-high and let it cook, stirring constantly until the pasta has absorbed the sauce and seems fully cooked.

The pasta should now be ready for serving and eating. Do so and touch it up a bit with some sprinkled parsley and pepper.

As I mentioned, my pasta came out very thick, but it was still tasty. The cheese sauce is rich, comforting, and flavorful. You could serve it with just about any variation of pasta, but I do think a thinner type would be best since the sauce is also thin and will easily absorb into the pasta.

I had to make new sauce for my leftovers, because the noodle nuggets absorbed practically all of the sauce. They had also congealed together, which made it difficult to get indivual pasta strands.

Making more sauce over corrected the problem so my friend added some spaghetti to it as well. The combo of spaghetti and noodle nuggets was interesting and it made the meal into a game where we felt like we won something if we got a big chunk of noodle nugget.

I highley recommed pursuing the noodle nugget, but don’t feel ashamed if you end up with fettucine or buy some pasta instead because this sauce is delicious and easy to make. There’s no reason to make it harder for yourself if you don’t feel like it.

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Noodle Nuggets

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Noodle Nuggets with sauce