Sunday, June 26, 2011

Easy Lamb & Rice Pierogi Pie

Marina shared with me a very simple meat pierogi recipe a couple of months ago and its about time I share it with you all.  We made this on the day we had a cooking spree for Russian themed dishes.  Peorigis are traditionally boiled, baked or fried dumplings of unleavened dough  stuffed with potato filling, sauerkraut, ground meat, cheese, or fruit. Of central and eastern European provenance, they are usually semicircular, but are rectangular or triangular in some cuisines.  (Thanks Wikipedia)  This recipe was passed to Marina by her grandmother.  We decided to make a pie instead of dumplings since its much easier.  It's yummy and you can use any kind of ground meat. 

-Two puff pastry dough (Marina likes to use the Indo-European ones from the Persian markets).  We need one for the bottom of the pie and one for the top.
-2 onion ( We liked the sweet onions.)
-1 lb of ground meat (pork, lamb, beef, chicken, turkey)
-1 cup of cooked rice (leftover rice comes in handy for this recipe)
1)  Preheat over to 350 degrees.
2)  Chop the onions, fry in oil (we used grapeseed which is healthier than any other oil) until nice and brown and caramelized.  Once done, take it out of the frying pan.
3)  In the same frying pan, brown the meat.  
4)  With a hand blender, blend the ground meat until it has a smooth consistency.
5)  Add onions and rice to the mix.
6)  Add salt and pepper to taste
7)  Roll out puff pastry on an over-safe 8 x 11 baking  pan and add meat, onion, and rice mixture.
8)  Put the other puff pastry on top of the mixture, pinch the ends together and poke holes on the top so it does not get too puffy.
9)  Bake until golden brown.
10)  Enjoy with friends!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Classic Napoleon

One of they key things that I think people fail to appreciate within an organization is their IT support team.  As a sales rep, I can appreciate their efforts keeping my customers happy and satisfied with our solution and our company.  I decided to make a classic napoleon for my company's IT support team to show our gratitude for all their hard work.  Guess who showed me this recipe?  Of course, it was Marina.  It is a very simple yet decadent recipe that can be used for simple events or fancy dinners to end a nice meal with.


4 sheets of puff pastry  un-thawed ( we used Indo-Eurosian puff pastry but you can use the regular ones you find at the grocery store.
1 lbs of unsalted butter
2 cans of sweetened condensed milk

For the puff pastry:
1)  Preheat oven to 425°F/220°C. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or plain brown paper; set aside.
2)  Unfold puff pastry sheet and roll it out with a rolling pin.  Transfer to baking sheet
3)  Bake in a preheated oven for 18-23 minutes, or until golden. (Or bake according to package directions.)
4)  Carefully remove pastries from baking sheet. Cool on a rack.

For the filling:
1)  Whip butter and condensed milk until its similar to a melted yet fluffy marshmallow treat with a hand blender or a mixer.  

To assemble:
1) Trim off edges of puff pastry so all four layers are even.  For the trimming, leave those to be used as crumbled decorative toppings later.
2)  Layer one puff pastry, then add a layer of the filling - do this for all 4 sheets of puff pastry.  Make sure you leave enough filling to completely cover the whole napoleon.
3)  Add leftover puff pastry crumbles on top.
4)  Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Russian Style Sweet & Sour Fried Catfish

Three weeks ago, I did a 9 day nutritional cleansing and rebalancing program that helped me loose 7 lbs in 9 days!  That Friday, the day right after my last cleanse day, Marina invited me over to her house to cook Russian dishes.  What luck!  We were up by 6 AM that Saturday  and by 12 PM, we made five Russian dishes for her international dinner with her girlfriends.  This is one of the recipes she taught me.  It was passed down to her from her grandmother.  It's very simple and you can basically pair it with any side dish.  I opted for roasted veggies since it's a nobrainer. 


1.5 lbs catfish
1 large sweet onion
2 cups of shredded carrots
Grapeseed oil (it's healthier than olive and canola oil)
Tomato paste
Vegetable broth

1)  Cut catfish into medium-sized pieces.  Keep in mind it will shrink when you pan fry it. 
2)  Salt and pepper fish on both sides.
3)  On medium-heated pan, fry both sides of fish until it's about 2/3 done with oil.
4)  Take fish out and set aside on plate.
5)  On another clean pan, caramelize sweet onions with oil until they are brown. (This is my favorite part for I love the smell of onions cooking).
6)  Add the shredded carrots and continue caramelizing them together. 
7)  Add tomato paste, sugar, a little broth and ketchup to taste.  Add a little at a time and taste it until you have the right consistency of sweet and sour.
8)  Add fish to the sauce and gently mix both making sure the fish is covered from top to bottom with the sauce.
9)  Let the flavors sit for another 5 minutes.
10)  ENJOY!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Nutella Lava Cookies

Ok, so everyone already knows I LOVE CHOCOLATE. But Nutella and chocolate in combo?  System overload right?  When I heard about these cookies, I couldn't wait to make them.  Though I'm in the midst of nutritional cleansing program (no coffee or sugars or alcohol or processed foods),  I still  made these the other night and was quite proud of myself for not eating all 10 cookies. Rather, I hand-delivered them to a few of my friends.  Enjoy!

Yields:  8 large cookies

2 oz (56 grams) chopped hazelnuts plus about 1 tablespoon unsalted butter**
3 tablespoons (56 grams) unsalted butter, divided use
1 cup (170 grams) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 large egg
1/3 cup (65 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 scant teaspoon (a little less than 2 ml) salt
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
1/2 cup (63 grams) lightly spooned and leveled flour
1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) baking powder
8 teaspoons Nutella

1)  Melt butter in a large skillet set over medium heat. Add chopped hazelnuts and sauté, stirring often, for 4-5 minutes or until aromatic.

2)  Remove nuts from skillet and lay on a piece of foil to cool and crisp.

3)  Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan set over medium heat.

4) Reduce heat to low and stir in chocolate chips. Stir until melted; remove from heat and let cool slightly.

5)  Beat the egg, sugar, salt and vanilla in a medium bowl for about 2 minutes using high speed of an electric hand-held mixer. Beat in the melted chocolate mixture.

6)  Thoroughly stir together the flour and baking powder, then stir flour mixture into chocolate mixture and nuts. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill for an hour or more.

 7)  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

8)  Working one at a time, scoop up generous heaping tablespoons of dough and shape into a mounds a little larger than a golf ball.

9)  Press a hole into the mound and stuff it with a teaspoon of chilled Nutella. Seal the whole with some more dough.

10)  Place dough balls about 3 inches apart on lined baking sheet.

11)  Bake cookies one sheet at a time for exactly 12 minutes. Cool 3 to 5 minutes.

P-S- Thanks Marinas for forwarding the link to the Nutella cookies.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Brazilian Chicken & Shrimp in Tomato-Coconut Sauce

I finally made time to make myself homemade dinner.  Sometimes, I get so caught up with work, working out and running around that lately I found myself buying lunch/dinner  from my usual spots.  I missed how cooking made me feel calm.  I usually take my time in the kitchen and if anyone has ever cooked with me, you know I take F-O-R-E-V-E-R.   Better late than never though right?

I love coconut milk.  When I think of coconut milk, I remember my Grandmother's soups and dishes swimming in coconut milk and this immediately brings a warm feeling in my heart.  Not to mention the unstoppable watering & drooling that commences when I smell coconut milk.  Ok, you get the point, I love coconut milk.  It's raining outside and I wanted some comfort food.

This recipe came from Cuisine at Home Issue N. 67 Feb 2008

Yields:  2 servings
Total Time: 35 minutes

1/2 cup of long grain white rice ( I opted for brown and of course it's going to take F-O-R-E-V-E-R)

Saute in 2 T. Olive Oil; Add:
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, seasoned with salt & pepper (5 -6 oz. each)
1 cup of onion
1 cup green bell pepper, diced
1 T. garlic, minced
1. T. red pepper flakes

Stir In; Add:
2 cups of tomatoes, chopped
1 cup coconut milk
6 medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, halved lengthwise (3 oz.)
1/4 cup scallions, sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 T. fresh lime juice
Salt to taste

Garnish With:
Chopped fresh cilantro
Lime wedges

Cook rice according to package directions; keep warm.

Saute seasoned chicken in oil in a large sauce pan over medium-high heat until browned on both sides, about 4 minutes.  Add onion, bell peppers, garlic, and pepper flakes.

Cover and cook until onion is translucent, about 3 minutes.

Stir in tomatoes and coconut milk; cover and cook until tomatoes begin to break down, about 5-6 minutes.

Add shrimp, scallions, cilantro and lime juice; cover and simmer until shrimp are cooked, 2-3 minutes.

Season with salt.

Spoon rice onto 2 serving plates, then divide chicken and sauce between them.

Garnish with cilantro and lime.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Chocolate Glazed Raspberry Cream Puffs

I made these with my best friend, Celina, last week for my coworkers.  You wouldn't expect for cream puffs to be so simple to make, but it really is.  Granted, it might be time consumning pipping each single puff out and then filling it with flavored-whipped cream goodness, the wait is worth the while.   You can stuff the puffs with almost anything you like, just change the jelly/preserve/jam to whatever flavor your hearts' desire. These are crowd pleasures, sure to disappear within two hours at a party or a gathering.  It is best to chill the cream puff before you serve them. 

There's no clear story to the origins of cream puffs.  Some claim its from the French and others claim its from the Brits.  Either way, give thanks for these delicate & wondrous pastries.

This recipe came from Food Everyday September 2010 Issue.

Yields:  110 small puffs (1 teaspoon batter each) or
             60 medium (1 1/2 teaspoons each) or
             40 large (2 teaspoons each)

- 1 cup of water
- 1/2 cup (1 stick of UNSALTED butter)
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- 1 cup of all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
- 4 large eggs

1)  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment.
2)  In a small saucepan, bring water, butter, and sugar to a boil over high.
3)  Immediately remove from heat.
4)  With a wooden spoon, stir in flour.  Continue to stir until mixture pulls away from sides of pan, about 2       minutes. 
5)  Let cool for 2 minutes.
6)  Add eggs, ONE AT A TIME, mixing after each addition until batter comes together.
7)  Transfer batter to a large zip-top bag; twist and squeeze bag so batter is in one corner.  With scissors, snip a 1/2 inch opening in corner (or use a pastry bag with a 1/2-inch round plain tip).
8)  Pipe batter into desired size mounds, 1 inch apart, onto sheets.
9)  With a wet finger, smooth pointy tops.
10) Bake for 10 minutes. 
11) Reduce Oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake until puffs are golden brown and feel light and hallow inside, 20-30 minutes.
12) Let cool on sheets on wire racks.

Yields:  40 

- 1 cup of heavy cream
- 1/2 cup of raspberry jam
- 1 tablespoon of brandy (optional)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 4 ounces of semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

1)  Use a toothpick or skewer to make a 1/4 inch wide hole in bottom of each puff.
2)  In a medium bowl, whip heavy cream to firm peaks.  (This might take a while depending on how powerful your mixer is but the key is FIRM PEAKS)
3)  Fold in raspberry jam and brandy.
4) Transfer mix to a large zip-top bag and snip a 1/4 inch opening in one corner.
5)  Place cut corner of bag in hole in puff and squeeze to fill puff with cream mixture.
6)  Place filled puffs, hole down, on a rimmed baking sheet.
7)  Refrigerate puffs while you are making the glaze.
8)  In a medium heatproof bowl, combine chocolate and light corn syrup.
9)  In a small saucepan, bring heavy cream to just a boil.
10) Immediately pour over chocolate and let sit 2 minutes.
11) Stir until mixture is smooth.
12) Dip top half of each puff into chocolate glaze (or pour on top).
13) Place puff glazed side up on baking sheet.
14)  Refrigerate uncovered for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.
15)  EAT ALL NOW - just kidding.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Crazy for Coconut Cream Pies

I love coconut.  I've known coconut all my life.  I can remember summer days in Lawis and having my cousins and friends challenging each other  to see who can climb up the coconut tree the fastest, the winner cutting down a fresh coconut fruit to drink and snack on.  We would run around with coconuts drilled with straws for easier consumption, it was like our Sunny Delight or Kool Aid.  Coconut is definitely known for its sweet usage.  I found this coconut cream pie recipe that called for fried pie dough.  I decided to just bake it on a regular  store-bought  pie crust to save time. Enjoy!

This recipe is from Cuisine at Home: Issue No 70 August 2008

Total Time:  30 minutes + chilling time

Heat in a saucepan over medium heat until bubbles form around the edge.
1 cup of whole milk
1 cup of coconut milk
Remove pan from burner

Whisk together in a bowl:
1/2 cup of cream of coconut
1/4 cup of cornstarch
1/4 t. kosher salt

Add 2 eggs, whisk until smooth, then gradually whisk in 1/2 of the hot milk.

Pour the egg-milk mixture into the milk remaining in the pan and cook over medium heat until thick, whisking often.

Boiling filling for 1 minute to thicken and eliminate the starchy taste.

Off heat, stir in:
1 1/2 cups of shredded & toasted coconut
2 T. salted butter
1/2 t. vanilla extract

Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing it onto the surface to prevent a skim from forming; chill filling until cold.

Take store bought pie crust and cut into half.

Place 5 T. cold filling in the center of each dough pieces.

Dab water around the edge of the dough, then fold dough over the filling and press edges together to seal tightly.

Crimp edges of the pies with a fork to reinforce the seal, then trim off ragged edges with a pizza cutter.

Transfer pies to parchment-lined baking sheets and freeze until dough is firm, 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and arrange formed pies on parchment-lined baking sheets,

Brush them with an egg beaten with 1 T. milk, sprinkle with coarse sugar.
Bake until golden, about 20-25 minutes.

Drizzle pies with coconut and melted chocolate before serving.

For the melted chocolate, I melted 1 cup of milk chocolate chips with 1/2 cup of cream of coconut over medium-low heat in a small sauce pan.