Sunday, March 14, 2010

WHB #224 Round-Up

Interesting weekend with loads to do and look forward to in the following week. I hope the weekend was as eventful to all of you as it had for us. The Pancakes celebrat(ing) our first year anniversary, in stages and how apt that we are hosting our first WHB. (It was a coincidence, totally not planned.) We love food. And that's the best celebration of life (and our union). 


And now to start our pot-luck party from around the world. The #224 one.

Maninas, a Croatian from UK shares with us the wonders of putting together curry leaves and pineapples. The marriage of the flavours is oooh-so-tempting!

tigerfish, US weaves magic with the highly versatile hairy gourd (mother) after a 3-year hiatus (of the vegetable) from the kitchen.

Cinzia of Lake Garda, Italy introduces the marvels of turmeric and uses it in a very simple recipe that yields a great tasting munchie.

Mangocheeks from West Scotland shares the different uses of Jerusalem Artichoke (a type of sunflower) and a very nice risotto recipe.

Kiran of  Lowell,Massachusetts turns a page from mama's cookbook. The easy, quick stir-fry way to serve the very lovely cauliflower while preserving the nutritious value of it!

Christine of Vancouver, Canada tested out her new wok with this very classic chinese recipe which marries the freshness of the sea (prawns) and the peppery greens. 

Oz, of the Netherlands announces the magical enchantments of the Citrus Dust. A great way to convert your citrus harvest to a sprinkle of magic that can be used almost anywhere!

First time participant of WHB, Cynthia, from Vancouver, Canada was short on ingredients to cook what she planned but exhibited her creativity and whipped out an impromptu dish using what she found in the fridge! 

Chris of Atlanta Georgia shares these wonderful cakes that packs a citrus surprise! A great alternative to the regular citrus family that we are so used to.

Brii from Lake Garda, Italy toasts a nice nutty mix that can be used extensively, in salads, vegetable dishes and I suspect that will taste great on its own!
Haalo from Australia, the great manager of the WHB series, turned inspiration when dining out into a great treat in the kitchen. These wonderful slices of royalty will sure come great on their own as a snack or as a side!

And my very own entry for this week's WHB shares my personal fascination of the pine  nuts.

And that's is for our round up. Host for WHB#225 - March 15th to March 21st  will be Yasmeen from Healthnut Send your posts to YasmeenHealthnut AT gmail DOT com

Friday, March 12, 2010

Weekend Herb Blogging - Mushroom Risotto with Pine Nuts

It's WHB #224 and WE are hosting this edition of Weekend Herb BloggingHere's a quick summary of the rules, if you are interested in this weekly activity. I am immensely excited as the entries for this week comes flowing in.

Focus of this week will be the pine nuts.  Pine nuts comes from the seeds of various species of pine trees, generally in Mexico, southwestern US and Europe with Spain and Italy the world's top producers. A single pine cone contains hundreds of seeds but the cones needs to be heated to open and loosen the nuts. Thereafter the hull protecting each individual nuts must to cracked open to obtain the individual nuts which explains the high cost of pine nuts. (It sells for SGD5-7 per 100grams here in Singapore.)

Aren't they beautiful? Pine nuts contain 24 grams of protein for every 100 grams and provide one of the most protein among nuts or seeds. They are also an excellent source of vitamins B1 and B3, and trace metals such as manganese, copper, magnesium, potassium etc... They are believed to help produce a strong and healthy heartbeat, lower blood pressure and improve blood flow. 

Taste-wise, the pine nuts releases a buttery taste when bitten into with a hint of spice, which taste very like thyme. The nutty aroma follows as the nut is chewed further into. They can be taken raw as snacks or added to salads or rice dishes to provide volume or supplement protein intake. Roasting pine nuts prior to topping meat dishes will greatly intensify their flavour.

I used pine nuts in my risotto and viola! It added crunch and texture to the creamy risotto and added depth to the taste!

Mushrooom Risotto with Pine Nuts.

(adapted from Jamie Oliver's basic risotto recipe)

You will need: (Serves 2)

400ml chicken stock
40g unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 stalk celery finely chopped
1 small onion finely chopped
handful pine nuts
2 portobello mushrooms, diced
125g risotto rice
1 glass white wine
salt, grounded black pepper
40g freshly grated parmesan cheese

1. Melt butter in oilve oil. Soften the onion, garlic and celery in the pan with the oil and melted butter on low heat.

2. Add in the rice when the vegetables soften and lightly fry, on medium heat. Keep stirring. Once the rice looks transluscent, add the wine.

3. Once the wine had cooked into the grains, turn down the heat to low to prevent overcooking the grains on the surface with the center still hard. Add in the first ladle of stock together with a good pinch of salt. Continue stirring to massage the starch out of the risotto. Add stock ladle by ladle while stirring making sure each ladle of stock is absorbed before adding the next.

4. Cooked till the risotto is soft but with a slight bite when bitten into. (If you run out of stock before this stage, just add hot water.)

5. Stir in the diced mushrooms, stir to mix well.

6. Turn off heat and add in shredded cheese and pine nuts. Mix well. Cover the pot/pan. The risotto will turn super creamy in the next couple of minutes.

7. Serve as soon as possible.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Announcing - Weekend Herb Blogging #224 Hosting

What an exciting week! This week will be hosting the Weekend Herb Blogging and a big thank you to Haalo for letting us to have the chance to be the potluck blog this week showcasing the dishes from around the globe. The rules are simple, check out the details here

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Weekend Herb Blogging - Mandarin Orange Muffins with walnuts

Been a busy week in the kitchen as I am taking a sabbatical from work. So back to Weekend Herb Blogging to share some of my adventures... from the cooking pit. Susan from The Well-Seasoned Cook is hosting this edition of Weekend Herb Blogging. Here's a quick summary of the rules, if you are interested in this weekly activity.

One of the must-have for the Lunar New Year (Chinese New Year) is mandarin oranges. It stands for prosperity and luck and we have to bring a pair when we go visiting during the festive period.  It didn't help when the oranges are sold in cartons of 12, 18 or 24 depending on their sizes.  Papa being his usual generous self bought us the carton that had 24 of the fruit. Needless to say, at the end of the festive period (14days) we still have about 20 of the mandarin oranges lying around.

Mandarin oranges belong to the citrus group and contains the usual goodness from that family. High in vitamin C and the skins full of flavour.  These fruits are gorgeous, their thin skins make them easy to peel, and the juice taste great if you decide to pass it through the juicer.

Well, something had to be done to use up the oranges and they came in the form of muffins!

You will need (make 1 dozen)
(recipe modified  from Martha Stewart's)

115g unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 & 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 mandarin oranges, peeled, segments cut into bite-size
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped.
3/4 cups sugar (more if desired, I like it less sweet)
2 eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1.  Preheat oven to 190 deg cel. Mix flour, baking powder and salt. 

2. Coat thinly cut segments of mandarin orange with flour. (Prevents them from sinking to bottom during baking)

3. Beat butter and sugar till fluffy. Add in eggs, one at a time until combined. Add in vanilla.

4. Set mixer to low speed and add in flour mixture (from step 1). Add in milk, beating until just combined. Do not over mix.

5. Fold in mandarin orange segments and walnuts.

6. Scoop batter into a standard 12-cup muffin pan. Sprinkle mixture of sugar and nutmeg on top of the muffin batter.

7. Bake, rotating the pan halfway through until muffins are golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean. (It takes 20-30mins).

8. Transfer pan to cool for about 10 minutes. Turn muffins on their sides in the muffin cup and let cool. Best served warm.

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