24 April 2010

Insalata Caprese

This is an easy to prepare salad, no cooking and it's ready in less than 15 minutes! A lovely combination of mozzarella, tomatoes, and plenty of fresh basil leaves.... Simply stunning and delicious! 

Ingredients :

350 g Mozzarella Bocconcini Cheese (mini)
300 g Mixed Tomato (any variety), halved or whole
2 Handful Basil Leaves, torn
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea Salt to taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Method :

Arrange the cheese, tomatoes, basil and season with olive oil, sea salt and some black pepper. Serve immediately.

Mango Sorbet


 2 Large, Ripe Mangoes (2 lbs, 1 kg), peeled and pitted

2/3 Cup (130 g) Sugar

2/3 Cup (160 ml) Water
4 tsp Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice, plus more to taste
1 Tbsp Dark Rum, plus more to taste
Pinch of Salt


Cut the mangoes into chunks and put them in a blender with the sugar, water, lime juice, rum, and salt. Squeeze the mango pits hard over the blender to extract as much of the pulp and juice as possible.

Puree the mixture until smooth. Taste, then add more lime juice or rum if desired. Allow the mixture to chill thoroughly, then freeze it in an ice cream maker. 

Brownie Pops

Dear readers, good day! I am so glad to announce that today is my blog’s first anniversary! I can’t believe it, time certainly does fly when you are having fun! I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the readers of Seasaltwithfood for supporting and leaving many nice comments on my blog. Not to mentioned as well, many emails with wonderful ideas and encouragements. I appreciated the kindness and will certainly continue to share as much recipes possible. Thanks!

FYI: One of my readers have also been so kind to bring to my attention recently that a certain new blog based in the UK, http://www.recipeideas.org.uk/, have been blatantly plagiarizing contents from my blog. Shocking! So, do you reckon that is some form of recognition that I must be doing something right? What do you think? Should I be flattered or upset that someone has made such an effort to steal my postings? Anyway, I hope the owners’ of that blog will read this and have some dignity to stop ripping off my work. Very disgraceful, don't you think so?

Anyway, I was rather busy the past few weeks and did not plan for any celebration for my blog’s first anniversary. Then, my two lovely kids thought they will make something pretty and sweet for me. I decided to have them make these cute brownie pops. It’s easy and a fun little project in the kitchen for them. So, keep those ideas and comments coming. Enjoy the recipe.


1 Brownie Buttons recipe
Brownie Pop Mold/Miniature Muffin Pan
Cookie Sticks/Lollipop Sticks
Candy and Chocolate Sprinkles

Grated Zest of 1/2 Orange
1 tsp Sugar
1/4 Cup plus 2 Tbsp All-Purpose Flour
1/2 Stick (4 Tbsp) Unsalted Butter
2 1/1 oz Bittersweet Chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/3 Cup (packed) Light Brown Sugar (I used 1/4 Cup)
1/2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
1 Large Egg

For the Glaze
2 oz Bittersweet/Semi-Sweet Chocolate, melted

Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

Combine the orange zest with sugar. In a medium bowl, combine the flour and salt.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter, chocolate and brown sugar over a very low heat. Stir until the mixture is smooth and remove from the heat and cool for about 2 minutes.

Then stir in the vanilla, egg and orange zest into the chocolate mixture. Stir until well blended. Add the flour and stir only until it is incorporated. The batter should be smooth and glossy.

Spoon the batter into the mold and bake for 14 to 16 minutes, or until the tops of the brownie spring back when touched. Transfer the mold to racks to cool for 3 minutes before carefully releasing the brownies. Cool to room temperature on the racks.

To assemble to Brownie Pops: Insert a cookie/lolly stick into the brownie. Dip the brownie pop into the melted chocolate and decorate with sprinkles.

Refrigerate the brownie pops for 15 minutes to set the glaze.

Indonesian Beef Rendang

Rendang is a traditional dish of the Minangkabau ethnic group from West Sumatra, Indonesia. It’s also a popular dish in the neighboring countries, such as, Malaysia and Singapore. It used to be served during special ceremonial occasions to honor guests; but, these days it’s available in the menu of many restaurants and is enjoyed regularly by all. Rendang is usually eaten with glutinous rice cooked in coconut milk or just with some steamed rice.

Beef Rendang is slowly cooked in spiced coconut milk for several hours until almost all the sauce is absorbed into the beef, giving it the fusion of delicious flavors from all the spices like galangal, garlic, chilies, turmeric lemongrass, and ginger. Besides the delicious dark brown spiced beef, the slow cooking process will also naturally tenderize the meat as well.


1.35 kg/3 lb Beef (Brisket, Chuck or Silverside), cut into cubes of about 2 cm/ ¾ inches
6 Shallots, finely sliced
4 Cloves Garlic, sliced
2.5 cm/1 inch Piece of Fresh Ginger, peeled, roughly chopped
2.5 cm/1 inch Piece of Turmeric Root, peeled and roughly chopped, or 1 tsp Ground Turmeric
10 Fresh Red Chilies, deseeded, or 1 Tbsp Chili Powder
1 tsp Chopped Galangal or ½ tsp Ground Galangal
2.3 litres/4 Pints Coconut Milk
1 Salam Leaf or Bay Leaf
1 Fresh Turmeric Leaf or 1 Lemongrass Stem
2 tsp Sea Salt


Put the shallots, garlic, ginger, turmeric root, chilies and galangal in a blender with 4 Tbsp of the coconut milk, and puree until smooth. Put this paste and the coconut milk in a large wok or saucepan. Add the meat and the rest of the ingredients to the pan; making sure that there is enough coconut milk to cover.

Stir the contents of the pan, and start cooking, uncovered, over a medium heat. Let the pan bubble gently for 1 ½ - 2 hours, stirring from time to time. The coconut milk will by then be quite thick and, of course much reduced.

If you started in a large saucepan, transfer everything to a wok and continue cooking in the same way for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. By now the coconut milk is beginning to reduce to oil, and the meat, which has so far been boiling, will soon be frying. From now on, the rendang needs to be stirred frequently. Taste, and add salt if necessary. When the coconut oil becomes thick and brown, stir continuously for about 15 minutes until the oil has been more or less completely absorbed by the meat. Take out and discard the salam or bay leaf, turmeric leaf or lemongrass. Serve warm with lots of rice.

General Tso's Chicken (Changsha Version)

Fancy some General Tso’s chicken? That was exactly how I asked and confused my kids. Their immediate response were like…huh, who is that?? Well, names aside, this General’s chicken does taste really good. :-) According to the author of the cookbook, this is a Hunanese version of the General Tso’s chicken, the other is from Taiwan. There isn’t a lot of difference between the two, just that the former uses black vinegar and the latter uses white vinegar. I like both versions of vinegar. So, next time I’ll try cooking the white vinegar, Taiwan version. 


4 Boned Chicken Thighs with skin (about 12 oz)
6-10 small Dried Red Chilies
3/4 inch Piece Fresh Ginger, peeled and sliced
1 Tbsp Double Concentrate Tomato Paste-mixed with 1 Tbsp Water
3 Scallions, green parts only, sliced
1 tsp Sesame Oil
Peanut Oil for cooking

For the marinade:
2 tsp Light Soy Sauce
1/2 tsp Dark Soy Sauce
1 Egg Yolk
4 Tbsp Potato Flour

For the sauce:
1/2 tsp Potato Flour
2 tsp White Sugar
2 tsp Chinkiang Vinegar
1/4 tsp Dark Soy Sauce
2 tsp Light Soy Sauce
3 Tbsp Stock or Water


Unfold the chicken thighs and lay them, skin side down, on a chopping board. Use a sharp knife to make a few shallow crisscross cuts into the meat-this will help the flavors to penetrate. Then cut each thigh into bite-size slices, an uneven 1/4 inch or so in thickness. Place the chicken slices in a bowl.

To make the marinade, add the soy sauces, sugar, and egg yolk to the chicken and mix well, then coat the chicken slices with potato flour.

Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl; set aside. Use a pair of scissors to snip the dried chilies into 3/4-inch pieces, discarding the seeds.

Heat enough oil for deep-frying to 350-400˚F. Add the chicken and deep-fry until it is crisp and golden. (If you are deep-frying in a wok with a relatively small volume of oil, fry the chicken in batches.) Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and set aside. Pour the oil into a heatproof container, and clean the wok if necessary.

Return the wok to a high flame with 2-3 Tbsp of the oil. Add the dried chilies and stir-fry briefly until they are fragrant and just changing color (do not burn them). Toss in the ginger and stir-fry for a few seconds more, then add the tomato paste and stir-fry until the oil is stained a deep orange.

Add the mixed ingredients for the sauce, stirring as it thickens. Tip in the chicken and stir vigorously to coat it in sauce. Add the scallions and stir a few times, then, switch off the heat, stir in the sesame oil and serve.

Orange Chicken

Have a go at making this fantastic tasting Orange Chicken recipe. A cinch to make, marinate it and roast it in the oven. Can’t get any easier, right? Bet you will love the taste of this chicken, slightly tangy, juicy, tender, spicy, and the right amount of sweetness from the orange juice and fragrance from the orange zest. So, do try the recipe and enjoy!


8 Pieces Chicken Drumsticks

Marinate Sauce
8 Tbsp Orange Juice (from 1 large-sized orange)
1 ½ tsp Orange Zest (from 1 large-sized orange)
2 tsp Minced Ginger
1 Clove of Garlic, minced
2 Stalks Scallions, finely sliced
1 Tbsp Chili Flakes
¼ tsp Sea Salt
1 Tbsp Sugar
1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Dark Soy Sauce (Caramel Soy Sauce, if available)
½ tsp Mei Kuei Lu (Chinese Rose wine)
1 tsp Chinese White Rice Vinegar
½ tsp Sesame Oil
2 Tbsp Peanut Oil


Rinse the chicken pieces and pat dry.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the orange juice, orange zest, ginger, garlic, scallions, chili flakes, sugar, soy sauce, dark soy sauce, rose wine, vinegar, sesame oil, and peanut oil. Mix well. Set aside half of the mixture, and pour the remainder over the chicken.

Place the chicken in the refrigerator and marinate for 4 to 5 hours, turning pieces every hour.

Preheat the oven to 400˚F.

Remove the chicken from the marinade, place in a roasting pan, and roast, turning to brown on all sides. Spoon the reserved marinate mixture over the chicken as it roasts. Test for doneness by piercing with a knife; chicken will be done when juices run clear and the meat is tender, about 45 minutes.

Moong Dal Pancakes

Moong Dal Pancakes is a fantastic savory pancakes made out of split peas. They are rich in protein and can be eaten as it is or served with some chutney. Delish!


185 g (6 ½ oz) Moong Dal, picked over, washed and drained
85 to 100 ml Water
2.5 cm (1 inch) Ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, peeled
2 Green Chilies, chopped
1 tsp Sea Salt
1/2 tsp Ground Turmeric
50 g (2 oz) Onion, peeled and minced
2 Tbsp Finely chopped Fresh Coriander
¼ tsp Baking Powder
Vegetable Oil for frying


Soak the dal with 1 liter of water for about 5 hours. Drain.

Combine the ginger, garlic, chilies, sea salt, turmeric, dal and 85 ml plus 1 Tbsp water and blend until you have a smooth batter. (Adjust the consistency with more water if necessary) Let the machine run for 2 to 3 minutes so the batter gets light and airy.

Empty the batter into a bowl. Add the onion, fresh coriander, and baking powder. Mix the batter well.

Brush a 20cm (8 inch) non-stick frying pan with about 1 tsp of the oil and set over a medium-low heat. When the oil is hot, ladle about 55 ml (2 fl oz) of batter in the center of the pan. Spread the batter with the back of a soup spoon. Using a gentle but continuous spiral motion spread the batter outwards. Make a pancake that is about 5 to 6 inches in diameter. Turn the pancake over and cook for another 1 ½ minutes or until lightly brown in color.

Make all the pancakes this way, making sure you stir the batter each time. These pancakes are best eaten hot, just as soon as they are made. You could, if you wish, stack them on a sheet of aluminum foil and then wrap them into a bundle.

The whole bundle can be heated in the oven at 220˚C/425˚F for 15 minutes.

Makes about 9 pancakes.

17 April 2010

Collards Stuffed with Red Beans and Rice

I have a real admiration for collards and other greens because they are survivors. Tomatoes, eggplants, and other warm-weather vegetables are delicious, of course, but they have it easy, basking in the sun all day and not being expected to withstand repeated freezes. And while Mississippi isn’t exactly known for its cold weather, this year, like much of the country, we experienced one of the harshest winters on record. At the coldest point, the temperature stayed below freezing for days on end, breaking waterlines in the city where I live, shutting down schools and leaving us without drinking water for about a week. Since December, it’s snowed more times that I can remember, which is amazing when you realize that we usually see snow maybe once every 5 years, so we remember even the faintest flurry by the year it happened, not the month.

So my collards made it through some real winter weather this year. At the height of the big freeze, I went outside to check on them and they were literally frozen solid. During the heaviest snow, they were buried in white for a couple of days, until I finally thought to go out there and dig them out so the leaves could get some light. But did the winter weather phase them? No, they shook it off and emerged just as vibrant as ever, perhaps even stronger for having endured:

That’s how they looked right after the coldest weather, before I started stealing some of their largest leaves to cook with. That’s another great thing about collards; unlike head lettuces or cabbages, you can cut off what you need, and the plant will keep growing.
When the weather really starts to get warm, the collard’s central stem shoots up and sprouts clusters of florets that look a little like broccoli. Eventually those florets bloom into little yellow flowers, which are pretty, yes, but signal the end of the growing season for the collards. The leaves become more bitter once the plant has flowered, so I try to harvest the leaves before that can happen. In this I almost never succeed. Currently my collards have stalks about 4 feet tall and more flowers than leaves.
I’ve been been racing against summer to use all the collards, adding them to as many meals as my family can tolerate. The simplest (and to my taste best) way to cook them is in the pressure cooker, as a side dish for beans and rice. But this time, I wanted to do something a little more ambitious, so I wrapped the beans and rice inside the collard leaves and baked them with a simple tomato sauce. In the words of my husband, “This one’s a keeper.”

Collards Stuffed with Red Beans and Rice

If collard greens aren’t available, you can use large cabbage leaves to make this recipe.
1 cup cooked brown rice (I used brown jasmine)
1 1/2 cup small red beans, cooked
1 large onion, finely diced
1 green or yellow bell pepper, chopped
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 15-ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
1/2 – 1 tablespoon Tabasco, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
salt to taste
12 leaves collard greens

You will need cooked rice and red beans, so before you do anything else, make sure you have those prepared. I pressure-cooked 1 cup of small red beans for 25 minutes (natural pressure release) and had about 3/4 cup of beans leftover after making this recipe.
Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Spray or wipe it with olive oil, if you like. Add the onion and a pinch of salt, and cook, stirring regularly, until it begins to brown. Add the green pepper and celery and cook, adding a little water if it starts to dry out, until the vegetables are tender. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
Remove 3/4 of a cup of the vegetables from the skillet and mix them in a bowl with the fire-roasted tomatoes and a little salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
To the skillet, add the rice, red beans, the seasonings, and 1/4 cup of bean-cooking liquid or vegetable broth. Reduce heat to very low and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring regularly and adding additional liquid if it starts to dry out. Remove from heat.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil. Wash the collard leaves and cut off the stems level with the bottom of the leaves. Turn them with the coarse stem-side of the leaf up, and holding a very sharp knife parallel to the leaf, trim off part of the thickened central rib. Be careful not to cut through the leaves. If leaves are very large, you can just cut out the thickest part of the central rib.

In two batches of 6, place the collard leaves into the boiling water, pressing them down gently to make sure all leaves are submerged. Boil for 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and rinse in cool water. Repeat with remaining leaves.
Preheat oven to 350F.
To assemble, spoon half of the tomato mixture into the bottom of a long, oiled casserole dish. Place a collard leaf in front of you, trimmed side up and stem closest to you. Place about 2-3 tablespoons of the rice mixture (2 for small leaves, 3 for larger) about a quarter of the way from the bottom.
Fold the side edges over the middle. Fold the bottom (stem end) over the filling, tucking it in behind the filling. Roll up tightly, and place each roll into the casserole dish. Spoon the remaining tomato mixture over the rolls, and cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Serve hot. Original Article >>