Saturday, February 21, 2009

Involtini Of Beef

The South Beach Food and Wine Festival is going on right now even as I write this... and I couldn't go. I'm absolutely bummed out.

It is a 4-day festival taking place by the beach (U.S.'s Riviera, South Beach) which showcases the amazing talents of the world's most renowned wine makers, celebrated chefs and culinary personalities. It's the ultimate event to go for foodies and foodies at heart!

The truth is, it's not so much as I couldn't but that I didn't go - for valid reasons. The tickets for this event are a little expensive. With how the economy is going nowadays, it just doesn't seem right for me to be spending between $200-$400 (for the events I wanted to attend). Arrgghhh!!! I so wanted to go. A part of me is screaming and kicking like a child; but the wise part of me hushed the child down :oD While the experience and fun of meeting all those celebrity chefs whom I admire is arguably worth it, but fact remains - my going isn't a real need. It is just a want; something that I can do away with, or at least, put off for now. If there's any time to spend wisely, it is now. Besides, there's always next year, right?

This festival is definitely an item in my bucket list, so I have to go even for just once. I do hope things will work out for me next time. Till then, I am keeping my fingers crossed, and praying that the economy will take a better turn in the next months to come.
I don't know about you but good food always lifts me up. And since I needed cheering up, I thought that this dish, Involtini Of Beef (or beef roll-ups), would do the trick. It is pleasing to the eye and tastes fantastic! What's more, it is not at all complicated to do. I actually find this quicker to do than, say, lasagna.

If you've been visiting this blog often, you'd notice that my recipes are simple and easy to do. So this dish is right up my alley. Much as I'd like to cook, but I don't want to be spending too much time in the kitchen and not have enough time left to spend with my loved ones. The latter is important too, you know.

I made this for Mr. J for his birthday and he totally liked it. This dish may be simple, but it obviously requires some effort (and love) and the end product is special -- very elegant.

So go ahead and try this dish. As Ingrid Hoffman says, "If I can do it, you can do it!".

I am sharing this dish to Lasang Pinoy Sundays (La.Pi.S): EATS A WRAP!. Lasang Pinoy is a weekly food photography meme, hosted by SpiCes.


Involtini Of Beef
(Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis)

1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cups carrots, julienned (cut into thin strips)
1/2 cup red or yellow bell pepper (cut into thin strips)
1/2 cup zucchini (cut into thin strips)
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 (3 to 4-ounces each) beef scaloppini (from London Broil or Top Sirloin)
All-purpose flour, for dredging
1/2 cup dry white wine*
1 bay leaf
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup frozen peas
1-ounce thinly sliced prosciutto, coarsely chopped

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat.
2. Add the veggies, onion, and garlic and saute until the veggies are tender, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
4. Stir in the Parmesan.
5. Season beef with salt and pepper.
6. Using 2 tablespoons for each, divide the veggie mixture among the beef slices. 6. Roll up the beef slices to enclose the filling, tucking in the ends. Secure the rolls with toothpicks.
7. Heat the remaining oil and the remaining tablespoon of butter in the same large frying pan over medium-high heat.
8. Dredge the beef rolls in flour to coat lightly.
9. Add the beef rolls and cook until brown on all sides, about 8 minutes.
10. Add the wine and stir to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the skillet.
11. Add the tomatoes with their juices and the bay leaf. Cover and simmer until the beef is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer the beef rolls to a platter.
12. Remove the toothpicks, then cover the beef rolls with foil to keep warm.
13. Add the peas and prosciutto to the sauce in the skillet and stir until the peas are heated through and the sauce reduces slightly, about 5 minutes.
14. Season the sauce, to taste, with salt and pepper.
15. Drizzle the sauce over the beef rolls and serve.

NOTE*: You may substitute wine with chicken broth, if preferred. As for the veggies, I didn't have zucchini on hand, so I just used carrots and green bell pepper and adjusted the amount accordingly .

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Triple Chocolate Mousse

"Chocolate cures everything".

Not an entirely accurate statement, but it holds a tiny grain of truth. Chocolate may not solve any of our problems, but it does make us feel better. Why? Because chocolate has substances called phenylethylamine and seratonin. These are mood lifting agents found in our brain. Once chocolate is eaten, these substances are released to the nervous system by our brain enducing a rapid mood change: a feeling of well-being, increase of heart rate and rise in blood pressure. Simply put, chocolate is an "upper" - it physically invigorates us and lessens our inhibitions.

No wonder why the Aztecs of Mexico thought for chocolate to have aphrodisiac qualities. This may also explain the reason why chocolate has become the food for romance and love --the feeling that it evokes within us mimics that of being in love.

For this Valentine's Day, I prepared a special treat for my husband. Guess what?? It's chocolate, of course! (no-brainer there, huh?)

I made a Triple Chocolate Mousse... 3x the aphrodisiac power, what do you say? *wink*

Mr. J unfortunately had to work on Valentines Day, so this meant that we were not going out for dinner. Not that we wanted to anyway. We're both low-key people, and the crowd just serves to take away the appeal for us to dine out on Valentine's Day.

So since he was at work the whole day, I had all the time to prepare our special Valentine's Day dinner. I kept our main course simple, with roasted pork tenderloin with veggies (which I will post later), but for dessert I took the extra effort.

I got the recipe for the Triple Chocolate Mousse from my friend, Kristel's bridal shower. For party favors, she gave away petite sizes of it along with the recipe (which I thought was neat). The mousse was to die for! That's why I promised to try to make it myself. And what better time to do it than on the day of romance???

This dessert is silky and rich, and one of the easiest mousse techniques to do. But, it does need time, at least an hour interval, for each layer to set.

But you know what, Mr. J is worth all my time and effort! Corny as it may sound, but everyday with him is Valentine's. I love him and I am so blessed to have him to share life, and chocolate mousse, with. :oD

Sending this treat out, first to Kristel - thanks for the recipe!... and to Lasang Pinoy Sundays (La.Pi.S): I LOVE FOOD. Lasang Pinoy is a weekly food photography meme, hosted by SpiCes.

Triple Chocolate Mousse
(Recipe is for a large group. You may cut the recipe in half for a smaller group, like I did)

Bittersweet chocolate mousse
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used 70% dark chocolate)
1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin powder
1/2 cup milk
1-1/4 cup whipping cream

White chocolate mousse
12 oz white chocolate, chopped
1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin powder
1/2 cup milk
1 cup whipping cream

Milk chocolate mousse
10 oz milk chocolate, chopped
1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin powder
1 cup milk
1 cup whipping cream

To assemble:

1. For bittersweet mousse, melt chocolate in a bowl resting over a pot of gently simmering water (or use a double boiler)m stirring constantly. Add gelatin powder into milk and let sit for a minute. Heat milk (microwave is easiest) to just below a simmer and whisk into chocolate. Let chocolate mixture cool to room temperature. In the meantime, whip cream to soft peak and fold into cooled chocolate. Pour mousse into plastic wrapped-lined- 9-in square pan, spreading well into corners. Chill for at least an hour to set.

2. For white chocolate mousse - follow the same direction above, then spoon or pour gently over bittersweet mousse layer and chill for at least an hour to set.

3. For milk chocolate mousse - repeat the same process. Pour mousse gently over white chocolate layer.

4. Chill for at least 4 hours before serving.

5. To serve, invert pan onto a plate and peel of plastic. With a hot, dry knife, slice squares of mousse and lift onto plates with pie lifter.

6. Garnish with fresh berries, or chocolate shavings.

*NOTE: As you can see in the photos, I built my mousse in martini glasses, which I thought would make a nice presentation and would save me step #5 above. Half the recipe fills about 6-8 martini glasses, depending on the size.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Shepherd's Pie


This past week a couple of coldfronts hit South Florida. The temperature actually dipped to somewhere in the upper 30's Fahrenheit (about 3 degrees Celsius). Bbbrrrrrrr! It was C-O-L-D!

Those who are from northern USA, north America or Europe might find this laughable. Compared to the inches of snow and below zero temperature you get out there, 30's must be a heatwave for you. But for the true blue South Floridians (I'm not a native here but I grew up in a tropical island), 30's is definitely freezing! As they say, our blood is thinner.

I don't mind it being nippy once in while though. I welcome the change, especially the opportunity to take out my once-a-year winter-garb and layer on outfits, don chic coats or leather jackets, cute scarves, opaque stockings and wear those lovely high heeled boots!!! Afterall, it's always about fashion,isn't it? Next to food, that is. ;o)


When the temperature gets cooler, I always think of comforting food such as soups and stews. But this time around, I wanted something different, so I thought of one of my fave eats: Shepherd's Pie. Also known as "Cottage Pie", this English dish refers to a meat pie with a crust made of mashed potato.

Shepherd's pie is basically a casserole, traditionally made using ground lamb (hence, the name Shepherd, I think). But here in the US people commonly use beef instead of lamb. In my case, I went even further. I used ground turkey for my meat, to make the dish a bit more healthy. What I like about this dish (beside it being soooo good) is it's versatility. You can substitute the ingredients according to preference or availability. What more, this dish is even better the next day! If you'll have some leftovers, that is.

Mashed potato atop stewed ground meat and veggies? That's comfort food through and through!

I'm sending this dish over to La.Pi.S, Lasang Pinoy Sundays: LAYERED. La.Pi.S. is a weekly food photography meme hosted by SpiceS.


Shepherd's Pie

Meat filling:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 med onion, chopped
1 lb ground lamb, beef or turkey
1 tbsp flour
1 can diced tomatoes (14 oz), drained, juice reserved
1/2 cup beef or chicken stock/broth
2 tsps Worcesteshire sauce
½ cup frozen peas, thawed
2 med carrots, diced finely
1 red bell pepper, diced finely
1 sprig rosemary, chopped

4 large potatoes (about 1-1/2 lbs), peeled and chopped
2 tbsp sour cream

1/2 cup heavy cream (or subsitute chicken/beef broth for healthier version)
1 egg yolk
2 tbsps fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
Dash of sweet paprika

1. Boil potatoes in salted water until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain potatoes and pour them into a bowl.
2. Combine sour cream, egg yolk and cream (or broth). Add the cream mixture into potatoes and mash until potatoes are almost smooth.
3. While potatoes boil, preheat a large skillet over medium high heat.
4. Add oil to hot pan with beef or lamb. Season meat with salt and pepper.
5. Brown and crumble meat for 3 or 4 minutes. If you are using lamb/beef and the pan is fatty, spoon away some of the drippings.
6. Add chopped carrot and onion to the meat. Cook veggies with meat 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add tomatoes.
7. In a second small skillet over medium heat cook butter and flour together 2 minutes. Whisk in broth and juice of tomato and Worcestershire sauce. Thicken gravy 1 minute. Add gravy to meat and vegetables. Stir in peas.
8. Preheat broiler to high. Fill a small rectangular casserole with meat and vegetable mixture.
9. Spoon potatoes over meat evenly. Top potatoes with paprika and broil 6 to 8 inches from the heat until potatoes are evenly browned.
10. Top casserole dish with chopped parsley and serve.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Imperial Asparagus


Friends, I have really been remiss in keeping my blog up to date. For this, I apologize. I didn't expect for the year 2009 to become as busy as I am now. But I'm not complaining. I like to be busy but I am in that period where I am still adjusting, trying to juggle my time in the hope of achieving a proper balance, so that I'd have time left to upload photos and write my blogs. So, please be patient with me.

I'm sure everyone agrees that food blogging is time consuming - the cooking, the photography set-up, shooting, uploading and then writing.. all these require a chunk of our time.

Then, there are times when your food has been photographed and uploaded, and yet you stare at the computer screen not knowing what to write about. Have you had that exprience? I'm sure you did. Isn't that frustrating?


Anyway, enough of my venting.

This week's Lasang Pinoy's theme is STEAMED. I have done Siomai (pork wanton dumplings) and Siopao (steamed buns) before so I can't post that here anymore. But, I do steam a lot - my veggies, especially. I prefer steaming because we all know that it is much healthier to do so, than blanching them in hot water. Steaming preserves more the vegetables' nutrients.

One of the favorite veggie I steam is Asparagus. I do like to roast them too, but since steaming is quicker, then I steam it most of the time. It is an excellent side dish to any entree you have, be it pork, fish or poultry.

As you can see here, I served the asparagus with roasted sweet potatoes ("kamote", as they're called in my native tongue) with caramelized onion, and chicken breasts simply roasted with extra-virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and herbs de Provence. This is a meal that is straightforward, but healthy and satisfying.

This my entry to Lasang Pinoy Sundays: Steamed.
Lasang Pinoy is weekly food photography meme, Filipino style.


Imperial Asparagus (serves 4)
2lbs of green or white asparagus, steamed
3 tablespoons of butter
3 tablespoons of flour
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup white wine
4 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
dash of hot sauce or ground cayenne pepper (optional)
salt and pepper
pinch of sugar

1. Trim the asparagus and peel the stalks to the tips.
2. Steam asparagus for 5-7 minutes (depending on how you like them. I like them crunchy still so I don't leave them that long)
3. Make the sauce. Melt the butter in a heavy based pan, in medium high heat.
4. Lower heat heat and stir in the flour. Stir with a wire whisk, for 1 minute to cook the flour a bit.
5. Gradually add the white wine and the stock. Stir until smooth then place over a low heat. Bring to the boil stirring constantly, until sauce thickens.
6. Add the cream and a dash of ground cayanne pepper, if preferred.
7. Now add the salt and pepper and a pinch of sugar, to taste.

Note*: My sauce didn't come out white because I cooked it in the same pan where I cooked my chicken, so I can have the chicken flavor in it. But if you've have guests, you might want to cook the sauce in a clean pan, so your sauce can come out white as it should be. Also, I added cayenne pepper because I wanted the kick. And lastly, I also added a dash of sweet paprika on top, as garnish.