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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Roasted Red Pepper Spread

My friend Christine served this spread at her son’s birthday party and I could not get enough of it. She served it as a dip with veggie sticks. I decided on a whim to try it in place of tomato sauce on pizza and it was amazing! You could serve it as a dip with crackers or pita bread. I also think it would be divine served over hot pasta with some grated parmesan. You must try this recipe! My mouth is watering just thinking about it. My hubby says that it makes the best pizza he has ever had. And I can’t think of a tastier way to sneak some more veggies into a meal. (*Bonus- this is a really inexpensive thing to make. I always find fresher veggies at the wet market than the grocery store. I made this last week and I bought three red bell peppers for 10 quai from my vegetable lady)

1 medium eggplant
2 red bell peppers, seeded
1 red onion, peeled
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2-4 tbsp water

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C.
Cut the eggplant, bell pepper, and onion into 1-inch cubes. Toss them in a large with the garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper and spread on a baking sheet.

Slow roast for 1 ½ to 2 hours until the vegetables are soft, tossing several times while cooking. Cool slightly.

 Place the vegetables in a food processor or blender add the tomato paste and water and blend. Adjust seasonings as needed.

When we do pizza, I pile on the veggies. My boys love green peppers, black olives, tomatoes and onions. Sometimes I make it vegetarian pizza. Sometimes I sprinkle a little bacon or diced ham on it. Dee-licious!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Balsamic Vinaigrette

I have never been a fan of bottled salad dressings.  They're expensive and full of preservatives.  A lot of my cookbooks had recipes for salad dressings so I thought I'd give it a try and have made my own ever since.  That made it a lot easier once we moved to China because we still get to have our favorites!  This is just a basic balsamic vinaigrette and it seriously takes less than 5 minutes to make.  It's so easy I feel a little ridiculous taking pictures for you, but here they are nonetheless.  Don't laugh.

Gather your ingredients.  The full recipe is below.

Grab an old clean jar or even a plastic container with a lid.  Pour in your olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Mince a clove of garlic as small as possible.  Add the sugar and minced garlic to the jar with your olive oil and vinegar.

Season with salt and pepper to taste and shake it up!

See?  Easy.  You're done.  It should last a good 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients in a jar and shake until well combined. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Homemade tortillas

I had never made homemade tortillas before I came to Shanghai. Why bother when it is so easy to pick up a pack at any grocery store in the States? But this really is an awesome recipe. Homemade are so much tastier (though they don't keep long- again no preservatives) and they beat the month(s) old ones at City Shop any day. And truth be told, my ayi often helps me roll them out so we get them done pretty fast.

As long as you make the dough really soft and let the tortillas rest the right amount of time they roll out really thin.
These tortillas are perfect for soft flour tacos, fajitas and eating out of hand.

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
3/4 cup lukewarm milk

Stir together the flour, salt and baking powder in a large mixing bowl.
Add vegetable oil to the lukewarm milk and whisk briefly to incorporate. Gradually add the milk to the flour, and work the mixture into a dough with a fork. It will be sticky.

If too gooey add a little more flour, but be careful not to add too much.
Turn the dough out onto a surface dusted with flour and knead vigorously for about 2 minutes (Or you can just knead in the bowl). The kneading will take care of the stickiness.
Return the dough to the bowl, cover it with a damp cloth or plastic wrap, and let it rest for 15 minutes. (This dough will not rise, but it needs a rest.)
Divide your dough into 8 balls of equal size, cover them, and let them rest again for about 20 minutes.
Keep the pieces of dough you aren't working with covered so they won't dry out.
Dust your work surface with flour. Working one at a time, remove each piece of dough and pat into a circle. With a rolling pin, roll out the tortilla, working from the center out, turning 1/4 turn every few rolls. Roll out until you have a 10 inch tortilla.

Transfer the tortilla to a dry skillet or griddle over low heat. It will begin to blister. Let it cook for 20-30 seconds, turn it, and let the other side cook for 15-20 seconds. It is done when it has small brown spots. Repeat for the remaining tortillas.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Marinara Sauce

This is an inexpensive sauce to make here in China and it is so much fresher and better than anything you can get from a can. I usually have my darling ayi do the tedious part of cutting up the vegetables,  which means that it is hardly any trouble for me to make.
The recipe makes enough for my family of five to have for at least two, if not three nights for dinner. Usually I freeze at least part of it for a meal another time. I made this last night and we already had a fridge full of leftovers so I froze it all to have on hand the next time I want to make lasagna (And I think I might just have to use your ricotta recipe when I do make lasagna, Lauren!).

2 onions, chopped
8 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 tbsp olive oil
4 lbs (2 kg) tomatoes
1 tsp sugar
2-2 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp dried basil

In a large stockpot, add oilve oil,


and onions.

Saute for five minutes until onions and garlic are tender.

Add tomatoes,



and basil.

Simmer for 30-40 minutes until the sauce has reduced.

Take 1/2 to 2/3 (2-3 cups) of the sauce and process in a blender (if you like a really fine marinara sauce you can blend the whole thing- but I like to leave the sauce a little chunky)

Add the blended portion back into the pot. If the sauce is still a little too thin continue to simmer until the sauce has reduced to the consistency you like.

Serve over pasta or use in a recipe that calls for marinara sauce.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Cream Cheese Icing

The perfect icing for Cinnamon Rolls, Pumpkin Bars or Carrot cake.

1/2 brick of cream cheese (4 oz/115 gms)
2 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
2-3 cups of powdered (icing) sugar

In bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth.

Add milk and vanilla and beat on low until combined.

Add powdered sugar and beat until you've reached the consistency you like. (I like it a little bit more thin for cinnamon rolls than for something like carrot cake.)