Ethnic Cuisine

Cuisines from different Cultures including Western, Asian and So. American.

WINTER COMFORT FOODS – STUFFED CABBAGE

 

Comfort Food is Food that warms the body and the soul.  It makes you feel good and satisfied after eating it.  I think Comfort Food is different for different cultures and different people but there are variations within the dishes that we call ‘Comfort Food’.  The differences are not so much in the main ingredients but in the preparation techniques and the seasonings used.

 

There are also variations in Winter Weather throughout the world and there are not many days that we can call Winter Weather in Sunny Southern California but this year , January is definitely Winter and Cold it is! Wet and Cold that is!  Not complaining as we need the rain and cold can be fun for a little while, but all that aside, what do you eat when it is cold.  Our normal Salads and Vegies and light meals don’t work when the weather is cold.  We have to resort to old ‘Standbys from Childhood and our Mother’s favorites.  One of these in our family is Stuffed Cabbage.  Put together Green Cabbage, Seasoned Ground Beef and Tomatoes in a Sweet and Sour Sauce and serve with rice or pasta and you have a delicious bone warming meal.

 

So this is what I did the other night.  I made Stuffed Cabbage but cheated a little bit as I had preformed Meatballs in the freezer.  Having raised five sons I have a difficult time cooking small quantities of food for the 2 of us who make up our household now, so I usually make large quantities and freeze what we don’t eat  for future use.  The Meatballs were frozen in a single layer so as to make it easy to remove them and use them as needed.  If I didn’t have the Meatballs I would have made the complete recipe from scratch as per the directions in the recipe itself.  http://www.sylveeeskitchen.com/stuffed-cabbage/       Here are the step by step directions and photos for preparing this delicious and ‘heart warming’ dish.

 

First of all make sure you have all the ingredients.  If you have to shop for some of them, check your staples and seasonings before going to the market.

 

In addition to Ground Beef (or Chicken or Turkey) you will also need Tomato Sauce, Lemons, Brown Sugar and Salt and Pepper.  Instead of Tomato Sauce as per the recipe, I used ground Tomatoes which have much more flavor and body.  Shown below is one of my favorite tomato products.

 

 

 

If you don’t use the whole can place the leftovers in a covered container and refrigerate until needed.  They should keep up until a week depending on how cold your refrigerator is.

           Measured Tomatoes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In order to roll the meat in the Cabbage Leaves you will have to soften them.  The best way to do this is to:

1 – Core the Cabbage and remove any bad outer leaves.

2 – Bring a large pot of water (shown belown) to the boiling.  Add the whole head of Cabbage, turn the heat down to simmer  and leave the cabbage in the simmering water for about 5 minutes or until the outer leaves soften enough to be able to roll them.

 

 

 

Large Pot to Soften Cabbage Leaves

 

 

 

3 – Remove the Cabbage from the hot water (I use a colander for this) and remove as many leaves as have softened or as many as you will need if the whole head has softened.

4 – If need be, return the head to the simmering water and remove as needed.

5 – Place the leaves on a cutting board and cut out the hard part that was closest to the core.

6 – Place a scoop of meat on each leaf and wrap the leaf around the meat mixture.  Use clean Kitchen String to tie the rolls so they don’t fall apart in the cooking process.

 

 

Coarsely slice some of the remaining cabbage and place in the bottom of the vessel you are going to cook the Cabbage Rolls in.  This will serve as a bed for the rolls.  Next place the rolls on top of the sliced cabbage and then pour the sauce over all.

 

Cooking the Cabbage Rolls

 

 

Bring to a boil over medium high heat and then turn the heat down to medium.  Cook for about 45 minutes or longer, depending on the size of the rolls.  Use Kitchen Shears to cut and remove the string before the next step.

 

 

  String Removed

 

I like to add an additional Vegetable and in this case I added sliced Carrots.  They only need to cook for about 5 minutes or until they are barely fork tender.  The residual heat will continue to cook them once the vessel is removed from the heat.  If you use peas or corn, the cooking time will be shorter.

 

 Carrots Added

 

 

 

Serve with Rice, Pasta or Couscous.  This is a delicious heart-warming and body warming dish that is perfect for winter weather.  Vegans can also make by using a Barley or Rice in place of meat in the filling.

 

Served with Couscous and Mushrooms.

 

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Posted by sylveee - 2017/01/16 at 4:42 PM

Categories: Cooking for Everyone, Dinner Ideas, Ethnic Cuisine, Leftovers   Tags: , , , , , ,

THE CITIES OF VENTURA COUNTY – FILLMORE, CALIFORNIA

FILLMORE

 

 

 

 

 

The City of Fillmore, CA is known as the ‘Last, Best Small Town’.  Small it is, as it only incorporates an area of 3.4 square miles.  But small as it is, it is still an incorporated city since 1914.  The city gets its name from J. A. Fillmore who was a general superintendent for the Southern Pacific Railroad which came to the Santa Clara River Valley in 1887.

Fillmore is located 39 minutes north of Thousand Oaks traveling on the 23 North.  The 23 North ends at Moorpark,  so you have to exit the Freeway and travel down Los Angeles Avenue to get to the roads taking you to the 23 North. (It is well signed, so you can’t miss it)  (Google also gives you correct directions)  It is a mountainous route with lots of turns (and this time lots of road work being done)  One of the nice things about this drive is that you get to view the Orchards and farms that you thought had disappeared from the area.  (Fortunately, only the obvious ones facing the Freeway have been the culprit of more and more condos and homes.)  So the Santa Clara River Valley of which Fillmore is a part, still is well endowed with agriculture, fortunately.

As you enter the city limits the sign proclaims that the population is 14,000 and the elevation is 469 ft. The sign looked a little worn, so I am making an educated guess that the population is larger than 14,000.  (According to the 2012 Census, the Popoulation was 15,002.  The reason for this is that there are a lot of new home developments and people from outlying areas are probably taking advantage of this (home prices have got to be lower than the Conejo Valley or other nearby areas – it takes a little drive to get to Fillmore but it is a nice place to live and raise a family.  The School District consists of two High Schools, one Middle School and four elementary schools.

 

Returning home, I decided to take the 126 to Ventura to avoid the road work and the twists and turns.  It was quite a few miles longer but didn’t take any longer as you could go faster than 35 miles per hour and there were no twists and turns.

 

 

So much for particulars – Fillmore used to be a quaint little town that was fun to visit.  On my recent visit  there it looked entirely different than I remembered it from past visits.  Fast Food and Big Block stores have invaded there as they have in almost every sector of this country.  ‘Not so Good’.  But if you go to the back streets and the area where the City Hall is located you will find remnants of the past.  I went up one such street and found the water Tower with the name of the city well visible.  I also found the rail tracks and loading docks for the freight trains that bring merchandise to the town and/or take it from the town.

 

 

Freight Car at Loading Dock

                                    Freight Car at Loading Dock

 

The Train System is a big part of Fillmore – in addition to the freight trains bringing merchandise in and out of the town, there are also tourist trains which run to the orchards.  There are event trains such as the ‘Mystery Dinner Train’ which I have been on.  There are also other events such as the ‘Pumpkinliner’,  ‘Christmas Tree Train’, ‘North Pole Train’, etc. The train system is Fillmore is also the scene for many movies and tv shows.

 

This last time that I was there it was lunchtime and I decided to try what looked like and was an authentic Mexican Restaurant, called El Taco Llama.  The menu had a lot of variety – there were many, many items you could choose from and everything was made to order.  My lunch was the two taco plate which came with rice and beans and salad and Guacamole.  There were plenty of salsas on the side from the salsa buffet, both mild and spicy.  Even though the tacos were the small authentic style, I could not finish the whole plate as the sides were plentiful.

 

 

el-taco-llama

            El Taco Llama

Two Taco Plate

          Two Taco Plate

 

 

For something to do and someplace to go that is different try taking a trip out here – park your car and walk around but stay away from the chain stores.  These are not Fillmore, but everywhere USA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted by sylveee - 2016/11/16 at 11:39 AM

Categories: Ethnic Cuisine, Family Fun, Main, Mexican, Ventura County   Tags: , , , , ,

BACKYARD BOUNTY – TOMATO BASIL SOUP FROM BACKYARD TOMATOES

i love growing Tomatoes and contrary to the rule of thumb that you only need one plant per person in the household, I like to have many more.  First of all, I like variety and second of all, not all plants will produce as they should.  This year I planted 6 Tomato Plants and have two left over from last year.  Unfortunately, the ones from last year are not producing too well.  Probably because they are not in full sun – we only have so much garden space that will get sun.

 

 

 

Even though my larger Beefsteak type Tomatoes produce more and larger fruit, my favorites this year are the Green Zebra and the Lucky Tiger.  I don’t think my Lucky Tigers are growing to the size that they should but they are fun – they are shaped like the Romas, but thinner and are green with orange/red stripes that are supposed to be dark purple according to the tag that was on the plant when I bought it.  In spite of that, I still love the tomatoes.  They are fun to grow and delicious to eat.  They have a slightly tangy taste to them in contrast to the red tomatoes which are very sweet.

 

All this being said, what do you do with Tomatoes when you have an abundance of them? You can only make some many salads and eat so much salsa.  In past years I have made Chili Sauce and will probably do that again this year if the plants keep producing like they have.  For this batch though, I decided to make a Tomato Basil Soup.  This is a tasty soup that can be eaten hot, warm or cold so it is perfect for summer or any time of year.  The recipe actually calls for Roma Tomatoes, but not having Roma Tomatoes, I just used what I have growing and that is mostly red round tomatoes.  Even though I put the tags that came with the plants in front of the plants, they somehow get lost or covered up so except for a couple of the plants, I’m not really sure what kind they are.  Just round, red, sweet and delicious!

 

The Soup can be served as a first course or as a Vegetable Dish along with a meal – that is what I did last night.  We had Meat Loaf, Baked Potatoes and the Tomato Basil Soup which I actually served first, but we had seconds along with the meal.  I serve this soup in small bowls but it can be served in larger ones. Another way I like to serve it is in demitasse as a ‘stand-up appetizer’ for company meals.

 

The recipe calls for 2 lbs. of Tomatoes, 1/2 cup of diced Onion, Chicken Stock (I had Beet Water leftover from cooking Beets so I used that instead thereby making the soup good for the Vegan or Vegetarian Crowd.  Of course you also need Basil which I also have growing in the yard.  I used the Italian Sweet Basil for the Soup and Purple Basil for the Garnish along with the Lucky Tiger Tomatoes.

 

 

2 lbs. Garden Tomatoes

   2 lbs. Garden Tomatoes

 

 

After the Tomatoes are washed and cored, chop, quarter or dice them.  (It doesn’t really matter too much as they are going to be pureed after cooking)

 

 

Cut Tomatoes

  Cut Tomatoes

 

Saute the diced Onions in 2 Tbsps. of Olive Oil until they are soft – from the photo below, you will notice that mine are slightly caramelized.  This add additional flavor as long as you don’t let them burn.  If they do burn, discard and start over – the burn taste will ruin the soup.

 

Sauteed Onions

    Sauteed Onions

 

Once the Onions are sufficiently cooked, add the prepared Tomatoes and Basil and cook until the Tomatoes release their water.  Mix as they cook.  When the tomatoes are sufficiently cooked, transfer to a food processor fitted with the metal blade.  If you don’t have a food processor, use a blender or a food mill.

 

Sauteed Onions added to the Onions

 Sauteed Onions added to the Onions

 

Run the processor or blender until the Tomatoes are completely pureed and then return to the pot.  Add the remaining seasonings -taste and add additional salt or Vinegar, if so desired.

 

Serve Hot with tiny Meatballs or at Room Temperature or Cold as an Appetizer.  Garnish with additional Basil and diced Tomatoes, if desired.  I used the Purple Basil and Lucky Tiger Tomatoes which only need to be sliced vertically down the middle.  For additional zest add a splash of  your favorite style ‘Old Boney Mountain Hot Sauce’.

 

 

 

Purple Basil

  Purple Basil

 

 

Tomato Basil Soup garnished with Purple Basil and Lucky Tiger Tomatoes

  Tomato Basil Soup garnished with Purple Basil and Lucky Tiger Tomatoes

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Posted by Admin Test - 2016/08/21 at 4:33 PM

Categories: Dinner Ideas, Italian, Lunch Ideas, Main, Recipes for 'Boney Mountain Hot Sauce Products   Tags: , , , , , ,

NATIONAL SHRIMP DAY

 

May 10th is ‘National Shrimp Day’.  Shrimp are absolutely one of my favorite seafood in any form or style.  Below are a few recipes for you to try – one or all.  Enjoy preparing them and then enjoy eating them.  

 

 

Grilled Shrimp – marinated in Garlic, Basil, Lemon Juice and Olive Oil.  These shrimp are delicious as an appetizer, main dish or in a salad.  Good for any time, not just National Shrimp Day.

 

 

 

Grilled Shrimp

                                              Grilled Shrimp

 

 

 

 

Coconut Fried Shrimp – great for a Backyard Luau or any Summer/Spring Meal.  Served with an Orange-Lime Sauce.

 

 

Coconut-Shrimp

                                                Coconut-Shrimp

 

 

Shrimp Fritters – a delicious and different way to eat Shrimp.  For those of us who love Shrimp and who Fritters, this is the perfect dish.  Shrimp Fritters can be served as an appetizer with Cocktail Sauce or as a main dish with a salad and or vegetable.

 

 

 

 

Shrimp Fritters and Cocktail Sauce

                            Shrimp Fritters and Cocktail Sauce                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Enjoy your Shrimp today in whatever way you wish to prepare it, but remember that Shrimp are good any time and any place.  So try one or more of these recipes today and save one for another day or month!  ENJOY!!!                                                                                                                                                                                         

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Posted by Admin Test - 2016/05/10 at 10:13 AM

Categories: Condiments, Cooking for Everyone, Cooking for Kids, Dinner Ideas, Holiday Meals, Lunch Ideas, Main, Tropical, Tropical Food   Tags: , , , , , , ,

RECIPES FOR CINCO DE MAYO

Cinco de Mayo will be here in 2 hours or earlier for East Coasters.  Here are a few recipes you can use for your Celebrations tomorrow.

 

We will start with Appetizers including Salsas and conclude with Rice, Empanadas and Lemonade.

 

Mango Salsa which makes use of fresh Mangoes, Limes, Red Bell Peppers and Jalapenos if you wish.

Tacos w. Mango Salsa and Guacamole (3)

Tacos w. Mango Salsa and Guacamole

 

Nachos start with good quality chips, Cheese Sauce with Jalapenos (if desired) and serve with Salsa and Guacamole.

Nachos - Cheese Sauce on the Bottom - Salsa and Guacamole can go on top

Nachos – Cheese Sauce on the Bottom – Salsa and Guacamole can go on top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Salsa Cruda

     Salsa Cruda

 

 

 

Salsa Cruda – incorporates diced fresh Tomatoes, Jalapenos or Serranos, Cilantro, Lime Juice and a little Salt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beef Empanadas are more traditionally an Argentine Dish but they can also be found in Mexican Cooking.  The Empanada can be filled with whatever you please – diced Steak or Chicken or Ground Beef along with Tomatoes, Onions, Cheese and maybe some Chilies.

 

 

Beef Empanadas...

Beef Empanadas…made in one of my classes.

 

 

Sparkling Lemonade – we first had this in Acapulco and I have been making Lemonade this way every since.  It is delicious, refreshing and a great accompaniment to any meal.

 

Sparkling Lemonade

        Sparkling Lemonade

 

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Posted by Admin Test - 2016/05/04 at 10:30 PM

Categories: Beverages, Condiments, Cooking for Kids, Dinner Ideas, Family Fun, Food Festivals, Holiday Ideas, Holiday Meals, Holiday Tidbits, Main, Mexican, Tropical, Tropical Food   Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Homemade Ricotta in Cannelloni

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Update to Homemade Ricotta – In July and September I posted Blogs about making your own Ricotta Cheese.  The first batch that was made used Lemon Juice to curdle it.  The second batch I tried using Rennet Tables but that did not work so well, so here I am back using the Lemon Juice which works great!  This batch of Ricotta like the first batch made was very delicious and on a par (if not better) than the expensive brand I usually buy.  When I buy Ricotta I buy a whole milk product which has much more flavor and body than the lower fat one.  I usually pay between $5 & $6 for it.  The batch I made at home this time, cost:

 

Milk – $2.99

Cream – 75 cents

Milk, Salt and Cream

Milk, Salt and Cream

 

 

Lemon Juice – free (the lemons were given to me – if you have to purchase the lemons you will need 1-2 lemons depending on the size – also the price will vary from store to store and from State to State.

 

 

 

 

3 Tbsps. Fresh Lemon Juice

3 Tbsps. Fresh Lemon Juice

 

 

Cheese Cloth – about $2.00 worth (but I was able to wash it and will be able to reuse it again)

 

So, my fresh batch of Ricotta which tasted delicious and was made right in my own kitchen cost me about $4.00 to make, not counting the gas and the hot water for washing the pot.  Maybe it was as much as I pay for the finished product but it was well worth it as it is delicious.  For the directions for making the Ricotta, please visit Adventures in Cheese Making

 

 

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

 

 

Now, what did I do with this batch of Ricotta.  I made Cannelloni for dinner tonight and was able to freeze half of them for another meal.  If you have four or more eating dinner, the whole recipe will be sufficient for 4- 6 people, depending on appetites.  If teenage boys are involved, then you will have dinner only for four.  If like us, there are only 2 people at the meal, then you will have at least 2 meals out of it and maybe more.

 

While the Ricotta was draining  I made the Crepe Batter for the Cannelloni Shells and then refrigerated it.  Crepe batter needs to rest for at least one hour after being made. For the recipe see  Crepe Batter

While the Crepe Batter was resting, I started the Meat Sauce that was to go over the top of the filled shells.  Next, I shredded the Mozzarella Cheese that was to go over the Meat Sauce.  If you need a recipe for the Meat Sauce you can just use my Fresh Tomato Sauce but start out by sauteing a pound of ground beef, chicken or veal before you add the other ingredients.  Or you can use only Tomato Sauce.

 

Tomato Sauce

Meat & Tomato Sauce

 

After the Crepes are made and the Sauce is simmering, prepare your Ricotta Cheese by adding an Egg, some freshly shredded Parmesan, Basil and about 1/2 tsp. Salt and 1/4 tsp. White Pepper or whatever your taste buds decree.  The Basil that I added was actually a combo of minced Basil and Garlic in Olive Oil.

 

 

Basil, Egg and Parmesan Added

Basil, Egg and Parmesan Added

 

 

 

Set the Crepe Shells out on a flat surface and place 2-3 Tablespoons of the Ricotta filling on each Crepe (depending on the size of the Crepe).  Fold in the sides and then the top and bottom.

 

Filling on Crepes

Filling on Crepes

 

 

Wrapping the Crepes

Wrapping the Crepes

Wrapping the Crepes (2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wrapped Crepes

Wrapped Crepes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Place each filled and rolled Crepe in a baking dish that has been lightly oiled with Olive Oil.  Place them close together.  When all the shells are filled, wrapped and placed in the baking dish top with the Sauce and some shredded Mozzarella Cheese.

 

Wrapped Crepes in Baking Dish

Wrapped Crepes in Baking Dish

 

Sauce on Crepes

Sauce on Crepes

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until everything is hot and the Mozzarella Cheese has melted.

 

Baked Cannelloni

Baked Cannelloni

 

Serve immediately with a mixed Green Salad and fresh Italian Bread, if so desired.

 

This dish will serve from 4-6 people, depending on appetites.  We had enough leftover for a second meal and half the Manicotti went in the freezer for a third meal.  Of course, we are only two people and so we are lucky enough to have more than one meal out of this dish.

 

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Posted by Admin Test - 2016/04/10 at 7:47 PM

Categories: Cheese, Dinner Ideas, Ethnic Cuisine, Italian, Main, One Dish Meals, Pasta   Tags: , , , , , , ,

Southern California Farmer’s Markets – Calabassas

Saturday Morning Farmer’s Markets abound in Southern California.  Within the distance of approximately 33 miles, extending from the city of Ventura to Calabassas (at the far Western end of the San Fernando Valley) there are 4 markets that I know of:  Ventura, Camarillo Old Town, Newbury Park and Calabassas.  You can go further South and find quite a few more but of course, it would be difficult to attend all of them in one day.  On my foray to Calabassas I also went to Newbury Park and could have hit Camarillo if I had so desired.  The market is across the street from the most prominent and probably well-known business in Camarillo and that would be the Sage Brush Cantina.  The Cantina opened years ago in a one store front location and soon took over the properties next to it, so that now the whole block (where there used to be a bakery and other businesses) is now all Sage Brush Cantina and their parking lot.  It has become a gathering for locals and out of towners as well.

The Calabassas Market is probably the most diverse and exciting of the one that I previously mentioned.  The time slot is from 9 in the morning until 1 in the afternoon.  You can buy produce, flowers, artisan bread products and foods ready-made to eat on the spot.

The first thing when you walk into the market is a sign for Valet Parking and an attendant to manage it.  The fee is only $3.00 which is the same that the parking lot across the street charges.  There is very little street parking in Calabassas and since the Market is well-attended the lot or Valet Parking is well worth it.  An alternative is to park in the shopping center on Valley Circle – it is about a one block walk but if you are carrying market produce it can be a little tireing.

 

There are many flower vendors and they are the ones that are most prominent in the front of the market.  This is not to say there are no produce vendors there – there are plenty but the flowers are so colorful and beautiful that they do stand out.  If you are planning on purchasing flowers as well as produce wait until you are finished and almost ready to leave – that way your flowers will have stayed fresh in water until you pick them and take them home.  If you carry them around the market there is a strong possibility that they will start to wilt, especially if it is a hot day.

 

Orchids 3

Flowers at Cal. Mkt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are many produce vendors but one of my favorite has produce similar to Underwoods in Camarillo in that they have those beautiful heads of Purple and Gold Cauliflower along with Romesco which is shaped like a castle with little turrets.

 

Gold and Purple Cauliflower

    Gold and Purple Cauliflower

 

Green Cauliflower

          Green Cauliflower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Romanesco

              Romanesco

 

One of the ways in which I like to use the Cauliflower is to prepare it with a Cheese Sauce – the simplest Cheese Sauce that you will ever make.  Simply shred as much Medium or Sharp Cheddar Cheese and combine it with enough Mayonnaise to make a spreadable mixture.  Place the washed Cauliflower in a microwavable dish and spread the Mayo/Cheese mixture all over it.  Microwave for approximately five minutes or until the Cauliflower is fork tender.

 

Golden Cauliflower

Golden Cauliflower

2016-02-29 17.58.58

 Covered with Mayo/Cheese Mixture

             

 

 

Micro-waved - Ready for Eating

    Micro-waved – Ready for Eating

 

I love Mushrooms and one of the Vendors has a great variety of Mushrooms and they are locally (in the Conejo Valley just West of Calabassas) raised.  Mushrooms grow best in the dark and not exactly knowing I asked the Vendor where he grew them – in a Greenhouse?  The answer was no – he actually grows most of them in a warehouse building – probably in raised beds or flats.  You could purchase one type of mushroom or a variety pack of different sizes and different prices.  I couldn’t resist and did buy a $15 pack which did last me for several meals.

Mushroom Varities

   Mushroom Varieties

 

 

More Mushrooms

    More Mushrooms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also at the market were Citrus Vendors, Vegetable Vendors, Egg Vendors, Hot Sauce Vendors and many more.  I am pictured below at the booth of a vendor from Central California – at this point in the day (about 1 hours before closing) his products were marked down to 3 for $5.00.  An excellent and everything I purchase from his was of excellent quality.

 

 Sylvia at Calabassas Mkt

Sylvia at Calabassas Mkt

Organic Produce

Organic Produce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

      

This next vendor sells Cucumbers, Tomatoes and Beans at both the Calabassas Market and the Market in Thousand Oaks on Thursday afternoon.  When I visit these markets her stand is always one that I stop at.  The Cucumbers are of the Japanese variety and do not need to be peeled.  They are always sweet and crisp and delicious.

 

Wonderful Cukes

   Wonderful Cucumbers

 

One of the Vendors at the Calabassas Market was not selling produce but instead he had Pasta and Olives – the booth was called Zona de Italy.  Lots of interesting pasta and delicious Olives of various varieties.

 

So take a trip out to Calabassas and check out their produce, flowers, pasta, etc.

Olives

                      Olives

Zona Italy

   Zona Italy

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Posted by Admin Test - 2016/03/16 at 10:41 PM

Categories: Dinner Ideas, Farm Markets, Fruit, Lunch Ideas, Main, Pasta, Salads   Tags: , , , , , ,

HOMEMADE BREAD – CIABATTA

Baking is one of my favorite Kitchen Activities and I especially love making bread and the Winter Months are the ideal time to do it.  Not only will the result be a delicious product but your kitchen and your home will be warm with the fresh fragrance of baking bread and the communal warmth your family will feel when sitting down to the table and enjoying freshly buttered bread with their meals.

 

I love to watch the dough raise up and the smell of freshly baking bread is indeed heavenly.  When a fresh loaf comes out of the oven your taste buds perk up and your mouth waters for a slice of that hot, buttered bread!

 

One of my favorite type of breads is Ciabatta. Ciabatta is Italy’s answer to the French Baguette.  It was created in 1982 to stop the influx of French Baguettes into Italy.  The Bakers there were afraid that the use of the Baguette would hurt there business.  Ciabatta is a crusty bread with a chewy inside texture.   It is fairly simple to make, although it does take a little bit of time but if you do spend the time, the dough is so nice and easy to work with it is actually fun, not work to make this bread.  And when you eat it with melting butter it is so good you can practically swoon over it.

 

So let’s go through the actual steps of making Ciabatta (the complete recipe is at Recipe for Ciabatta

 

  • You have to make a starter that is called a Poolish.  The best time to do this is the night before you plan to make the bread as it has to proof for at least 10 hours.

Poolish

  Poolish

 

 

  • Once the Poolish is proofed, add the Olive Oil and mix it in with a Dough Spatula, if you have one;  if not, then use the next best tool that you have – perhaps a Wooden Spoon.

 

 

 

Dough Hook

     Dough Spatula

 

 

Then you add the remaining ingredients and knead the Dough;  a standing Electric Mixer fitted with the Dough Hook is the best to go but if you do not have one, then just make use of your Elbow Grease and knead the dough by hand.

 

Making Ciabatta (12)Dough Hook

 

 

Finish making  the Dough and let it rest for at least 20 minutes.

Next comes the fun – stretching and folding the Dough to develop the gluten.  This is a four step process, although you can shorten the process by eliminating any of the subsequent stretching and folding turns.  (If you do this, your bread won’t have the true Ciabatta texture – somewhat like the texture of sour dough but without the sour taste)  I figure that if you are going to make the Ciabatta and if you have the time, it is well worth it to go through the whole process and not eliminate any of the stretching turns)

 

Flattened Dough before Folding and Stretching

A

 

 

 

B

B

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

C

C

 

D

D

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A – Flattened Dough before Stretching

B – Bottom and Top Folds (fold from the side closest to you)

C – Sideways Folds – fold from the right side to the middle and then from the left side over the                 right side fold

D – Complete fold – cover and let rest 20 minutes before flattening and folding again

 

Once the stretching process is finished, then you allow the dough to rest for another 50 minutes before placing it on your baking sheet for baking.  The Dough can be made into a loaf or cut into rolls – whatever you do, unlike most yeast breads, do not flatten the dough – just gently transfer it to your greased and floured (use cornmeal or Semolina on the pans) baking sheets.

 

In the photo below left, the loaf is on a Pizza Paddle and below right, the loaf is on a Baking Stone.

The traditional way to bake Ciabatta is to place it on a greased and floured pan and bake it in the middle of the oven with a pan of water on the rack under.  The steaming water helps to give the bread its chewy crust.  The Baking Stone is an alternative way to bake the bread.  It still comes with a nice crusty exterior.

Shaped Dough

                 Shaped Dough

On Stone

On Stone

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Posted by Admin Test - 2016/01/10 at 3:51 PM

Categories: Baking, Bread, Ethnic Cuisine, Italian, Main   Tags: , , ,

SHRIMP QUESADILLAS

Summer weather is ideal for treating your family to Mexican Food and what tastes better than Grilled Shrimp nestling inside a Quesadilla?  Add to that freshly made Guacamole and Salsa Cruda.  A little salad and some Mexican Rice and you are set for the evening.  Sound like too much work – well maybe a little but it is also fun if you love to cook and simple enough for those of you who do not love to cook.  Follow the directions and photos below and you will be able to cook up a wonderful meal for your family or even for your next party!  Okay, let’s get busy!

 

The first thing you need to do is check up on the items that you have in your kitchen and then make a list of those that you will need to purchase.  Follow the simple suggestions below or create your own list.

 

Flour Tortillas

Olive Oil

Lemons

Garlic & Cilantro

Shrimp   (preferably large ones – they have more flavor)

Tomatoes & Avocadoes

Cheese for Quesadillas (your preference)

Sour Cream or Mexican Crema

 

Here are the  links for the recipes for the Grilled Shrimp

Salsa and Guacamole.

 

Once you have your ingredients on hand and know when you are going to be serving the Quesadillas you can plan your preparation.  The Salsa can be prepared hours ahead of time, unlike the Guacamole which tends to oxidize and become unappetizing in appearance.  The  Shrimp can be shelled and de-veined, but you do NOT WANT TO MARINATE them for more than 20 minutes before grilling, otherwise they will become mealy, mushy and not appetizing at all.

 

Probably Quesadillas are not going to be the only thing on your menu so you can prepare the other items ahead.  Re-fried Beans can be prepared hours ahead and reheated as can Mexican Rice.  If you are planning on having a salad, the components can be washed, dried and sliced and then refrigerated until just before serving time.

 

Shown below is a suggested timetable for preparation and serving.  To prepare this meal and have everything come together at the proposed time,  I would start the preparations no later than two hours before serving time.

 

1.     Wash, dry and slice, grate or dice Salad Ingredients.

2.     Prepare Salsa and refrigerate.

3.     Cook the re-fried Beans and set aside.  If you are using canned re-fried beans, saute some diced             onion in a little Olive Oil before adding the beans.  Also, if you are using canned beans, prepared             just before serving.  Home-made re-fried beans take hours to prepare, especially if you are using           dried beans that have to be soaked and cooked.  Actually, the canned ones are very good,                     especially if you doctor them up a little bit with the sauteed onions and anything else that                     you may  wish, like maybe cilantro.

4.     Make the Mexican Rice and set aside.    Mexican Rice

5.     Shred your Cheese or Cheeses, depending on whether you use one or more varieties.

6.     About 30 minutes before serving time, prepare your Guacamole.  To prevent it from oxidizing                 squeeze a thin layer of Lime Juice on the surface and then cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate           until serving time.

7.     Prepare the Shrimp – remove the Shrimp Shells and save to make Seafood Stock.  If using                     medium size Shrimp, slit down the back and remove the vein.  Wash and dry.  If using large                   Shrimp, slice in half lengthwise.  Be sure to remove the vein.  Wash and dry.

8.     Prepare the marinade per the directions in the Grilled Shrimp Recipe.  Allow the Shrimp to                     marinate for at least 15 minutes but no longer than 20.  (Marinating the Shrimp too long will                 make them mushy and mealy.)

Marinating the Shrimp

Marinating the Shrimp

9.     Before grilling the shrimp, make sure you have all your other dishes ready to serve.  Grill the                  Shrimp per the recipe directions.

10.   Place  2-3  Tablespoons of shredded Cheese in the middle of a Flour Tortilla; top with 3-4 pieces of          Shrimp 2-3 Tbsps. more  Cheese and a few sliced Scallions.  Add a second Tortilla on top.

 

Filling the Tortillas

Filling the Tortillas – ingredients on bottom half – top half not yet added

 

 

 

11.  Place the filled Tortillas on a lightly greased skillet or comal (griddle) and cook on each side until              golden in color and the Cheese begins to melt.  (If you have trouble keeping the two tortillas        together, secure them with wooden sandwich picks – remove the picks before serving.

12.   Remove from the griddle with a spatula; remove the sandwich picks and serve.

13.   Serve Guacamole, Salsa and Sour Cream on the side.

 

  Salsa Cruda

Salsa Cruda

 

 

 

Chunky Guacamole

Chunky Guacamole

 

 

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Posted by Admin Test - 2015/06/26 at 4:29 PM

Categories: Condiments, Cooking for Everyone, Dinner Ideas, Main, Mexican   Tags: , , ,

PIZZA PIE DAY

Monday, February 9th is ‘Pizza Pie Day’.  Are you going to go out and have pizza?  Or are you going to make and bake your own?  Homemade Pizza is delicious and easy to make.  I will say that it probably won’t cost you any less to make it than to buy it but the ingredients you use will be better than the ‘Take-Out Pizza’ or the Pizzeria Pizza.

 

To start with, you need good ingredients.  You could cheat a little and buy the Dough already made at Trader Joe’s or an Italian Deli.  But, if you have a Food Processor or a Sanding Mixer making the Dough is a cinch.  For the recipe see pizza-dough/

 

Shaped Pizza Dough

Shaped Pizza Dough

 

 

 

 

 

For the toppings you will need:  Crushed Tomatoes  (use a good brand – you want a thick one)

Basil, Oregano, Salt & Pepper

 

Crushed Tomatoes

 

 

 

 

Whole Milk Mozzarella (whole milk is by far better tasting than low-fat)

 

 

Shredded Mozzarella

Shredded Mozzarella

 

Other additional ingredients:  Mushrooms, Onions, Bell Peppers, Olives,

 

 

Vegetable Topped Pizza

Vegetable Topped Pizza

Pepperoni or whatever else you want on your pizza.

 

Pepperoni and Vegie Pizza

Pepperoni and Vegie Pizza

 

If you don’t want to create your own, here are some suggestions from other Posts and Pages from Sylveees Kitchen.

Sun-dried Tomato Pizza – -sun-dried-tomato/

 

Hawaiian Pizza

Hawaiian Pizza

Mexican Pizza                 –   mexican-pizza

Pizza Night                          pizza-time/

 

Okay everyone, get busy and make some Pizza tonight or tomorrow.  If you don’t get around to it tomorrow which is Pizza Pie Day, you can still do it anytime this week.  The second week in February is ‘American Pizza Bake Week’.

 

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Posted by Admin Test - 2015/02/08 at 12:40 PM

Categories: Baking, Bread, Cheese, Dairy, Italian, Main, Mexican, National Food Days, Pizza, Tropical   Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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