01 January


Brussels Sprouts with Bacon,

Garlic and Shallots

January 31: Eat Brussels Sprouts Day

Just a month into the new year, Islander continues her resolution to try new recipes and eat more greens. She dislikes Brussels sprouts when Highlander would steam them plain. They are just too bitter for her tastes and avoided eating the mini-looking cabbages—until she tried a soup recipe shared by her college roommate. Then she tasted other Brussels sprouts dishes at a restaurant and potluck parties and wanted to discover other ways to cook them (to the delight of Highlander who loves to eat Brussels sprouts). Of course, Islander believes anything tastes better with bacon so she sautéed it with the vegetable and flavored them with garlic and shallots. Discover how delicious and easy this side dish is to make—cook Brussels sprouts and eat them today!

Recipe

(Adapted from MyRecipes.com)

Ingredients

  • 1 – 1½ pounds fresh Brussels sprouts
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 large shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 6 slices center cut bacon, chopped
  • ¼ – ½ cup chicken broth (we used fat free and lower sodium)
  • salt and pepper to taste

 Directions

Wash and dry the Brussels sprouts. Cut off the stem and slice in half. Set aside. Peel the garlic cloves and slice thinly. Peel the shallots and slice thinly.

Chop the bacon. Sauté the bacon over medium-high heat until brown and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Discard all but 1-2 tablespoons of bacon drippings. Use this to sauté the shallots.

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Add the Brussels sprouts and sauté around 5 minutes, allowing some of the leaves to become tender and brown. Stir in the garlic and mix for another 5 minutes. Pour in the chicken broth and heat on high for 2 minutes until evaporated. Remove the pan from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot in a bowl as a side dish.

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Notes

  • Raw Brussels sprouts are a healthy vegetable full of vitamins B, C and K. With essential minerals and dietary fiber, they also have anti-cancer properties.
  • We resolve to cook more Brussels sprouts and share the recipes in future blog posts.

Massaman Chicken Curry

January 12: National Curried Chicken Day

We tend to be creatures of habit, ordering the same old foods whenever we go out to our favorite restaurants. Highlander almost always orders massaman chicken curry at Thai eateries. He loves different kinds of chicken curry that we have several recipe versions posted on our blog for National Curried Chicken Day.

Massaman curry, in particular, is derived from an archaic word “mussulman” for Muslim, which influenced Thailand’s cooking style for this curry during the early centuries of trading between the Middle East and South Asia. Curry paste is first mixed with coconut milk or cream, making this dish slightly sweeter than other curries. A 2011 CNNGo reader’s survey even ranked massaman curry #10 in its list of the “World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods”.

Following the Thai way, cook massaman chicken curry for National Curried Chicken Day!

Recipe

(Adapted from Maesri)

Ingredients

  • 1 – ½ cups of chicken breast
  • 1 can (4 ounces) massaman curry paste
  • 2 cans (14 ounces each) of coconut milk, divided use
  • 1 large potato, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • ½ cup baby carrots (optional)
  • cilantro, fresh chopped (optional garnish)

Directions

Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. In a large pot, stir one can of coconut milk with the curry paste. Simmer over medium heat for about five minutes.

Add the chicken and the other can of coconut milk. Bring to a boil. Add the potatoes.

Stir in the onions and baby carrots. Cover and heat until the chicken is cooked through (around 30 minutes). Garnish with cilantro. Serve hot with steamed white rice.

Notes

  • Substitute the chicken for lamb, beef or other favorite meat/protein. Muslims do not cook pork in massaman curry.
  • Search our blog for other curried chicken recipes for National Curried Chicken Day.

Kona Coffee Shortbread

January 6: National Shortbread Day

Shortbread is of Scottish origin but the cookie is very popular in Hawaii as fundraising items, souvenirs and local snacks. Some Scots settled in the islands in the 18th century and have left their culinary and cultural impact. In fact, Hawaii’s last princess, Ka’iulani, was half Scottish on her father’s side (her Anglo name is Princess Victoria Cleghorn).

Several companies in Hawaii produce shortbread in a variety of traditional and tropical flavors and shapes. Kauai Kookie (the factory is a mandatory stop when we visit the island) and Maui CookKwees make round, stacked discs. Honolulu Cookie Company has its signature miniature pineapple shapes. There are other companies that do drop/scoop/mound shapes as well. We tried to copy Big Island Candies and the Cookie Corner with their simple rectangular-shaped flavored cookies dipped diagonally in chocolate.

This Kona coffee shortbread recipe fits in with our Highlander and Islander (HI) Cookery blog (a Scot married a local girl) and is appropriate for observing National Shortbread Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from Panera Bread)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • ¼ cup sugar, granulated white
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons instant Kona coffee (or regular coffee), ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 ounces chocolate, melted

Directions

Cream the butter with the sugars. Finely grind the coffee granules to a powder then add to the butter mixture. Mix in the salt.

Gradually add the flour. Mix until a sticky but smooth dough comes together. Refrigerate for half and hour. Roll out to ¼ inch thickness between sheets of waxed paper. Refrigerate again to firm up the dough. Slice into rectangles (around 2 ½ by 1 1 ½ inches).

Place onto a lightly greased cookie sheet about two inches apart to allow for a little spreading. Refrigerate or freeze the baking sheet. Bake in a preheated oven at 300 degrees F for 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on the pan for about five minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Melt the chocolate in a bowl according to the package directions. Use a spatula to spread chocolate diagonally across the cookie, dipping the bottom and sides as necessary. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Continue dipping the rest of the cookies in chocolate. Refrigerate to firm up the chocolate. Serve at room temperature. When storing the cookies, place between sheets of small waxed paper to prevent the chocolate from sticking to other cookies.

Notes

  • We halved the recipe to share with another couple friend (also expatriates from Hawaii) when they visited us in Texas. The cookie dough is soft and needs to be kept cold when handling and rolling out. To minimize spreading, we freeze the cut cookies before placing them in the oven. Feel free to add finely chopped macadamia nuts in the recipe.
  • Learn more about Princess Ka’iulani from the Kaiulani Project website. 
  • Read highlights about the Scots in Hawaii from Coffee Times
  • Islander has attended the Hawaiian Scottish Festival and Highland Games to support Highlander’s clan. 
  • See a similar recipe for coffee and nut cookies on National Coffee Day on September 29. 
  • Search our blog for more shortbread recipes.

 

Brussels Sprouts Soup

January 31: Eat Brussels Sprouts Day

Highlander grew up eating Brussels sprouts and likes them. His mom cooked the baby-looking cabbage as a side dish for some of their Sunday suppers of roast beef, gravy, potatoes and Yorkshire pudding (traditional English meal). But like a lot of people, Islander did not like the taste of Brussels sprouts and passed on them during their family get-togethers. Highlander encouraged her to try making healthy Brussels sprouts in different recipes but she still did not like them…until her college roommate, Champa S., shared one for Brussels sprouts soup (Champa never liked the vegetable before either). Islander was skeptical about the recipe but she gave it a try. She actually liked it! Not only was it easy to make, it did not taste as bitter as the other recipes. Now Brussels sprouts soup is one of the ways she will eat those little leafy greens. Can we convince the skeptics, too, to try this simple soup on “Eat Brussels Sprouts Day”? It is also an appropriate dish to eat as an end to National Soup Month in January.

Recipe

(Adapted from Food.com)

Ingredients

  • 3 cups Brussels sprouts (or 1 ½ pounds)
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable stock
  • ¼ cup cream
  • fried onions (optional garnish)

Directions

Rinse the Brussels sprouts to remove any debri. Chop the onions. In a large pot, melt the butter or heat the olive oil. Saute the onions until soft.

Mix in the Brussels sprouts. Pour in the vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes until the sprouts are tender. Puree in batches in a blender.

Transfer the puree back to the pot. Stir in the cream and heat through. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with fried onions. Serve hot.

Notes

  • Find fried onions in the salad section of the grocery store.
  • Search our blog for other soup recipes.

Chocolate Croissants

(Pain au Chocolat)

 chocolatecroissants

January 30: National Croissant Day

Chocoholics like us will enjoy indulging in a chocolate-filled croissant for breakfast, brunch or snack time with a cup of tea or coffee. This recipe is so easy yet impresses our houseguests when they drop by for a friendly visit. Store-bought puff pastry is the key ingredient to creating the flaky-crisp layers. The chocolate croissant may be dusted with confectioner’s sugar but we drizzled ours with extra chocolate for a fancy finish. For National Croissant Day, prepare pain au chocolat with puff pastry.

 Recipe

(Adapted from Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry)

Ingredients

  • 1 package puff pastry sheets (we used Pepperidge Farm brand)
  • chocolate pieces (like Ghirardelli Squares or Baker’s brand chocolate bar)
  • 1 egg + 1 teaspoon water, beaten together to make an egg wash
  • extra chocolate for drizzling (optional)

Directions

Thaw the puff pastry according to the directions on the package. Unroll one sheet. Cut along the fold and then across the sheet to create six squares. Place chocolates in the center.

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Fold the flaps of the square. Press to seal the edges all around. Place seam side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush with egg wash.

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Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes or until puffed up and golden brown. Remove from the oven. Let the chocolate croissants cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes. Melt some chocolate and drizzle over the pastries. Serve warm while the chocolate can still ooze out and is not solidified inside. Yield: 1 dozen.

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Notes

  • Handle puff pastry minimally so it does not stretch out too much. It should be kept cold as possible after thawing to ensure a good rise in the oven.
  • It is best to reheat puff pastry products in the oven instead of a microwave to maintain its flaky-crisp texture.
  • Use good quality chocolate, like Baker’s semi-sweet baking bar.
  • This recipe is prepared in a rectangular roll instead of the crescent shape that gives the croissant its French name.

 

Lamingtons

January 26: Australia Day

Happy Australia Day to our awesome Aussie blog readers! And Happy Anniversary to our friends, Gary and Girlie B., whom we met when we lived in New Jersey (they still live in the Garden State and we visit each other when we can). They suggested some recipes from Down Under, which we could try, such as Lamingtons, for our blog on this special day.

Our friends came from Sydney, but Lamingtons originated in Queensland and were named after Lord Lamington who served as its first governor from 1896-1901. These snack-sized chocolate-covered, square-shaped sponge cakes are rolled in desiccated coconut to give it its distinct texture and taste.

Lamingtons are the quintessential Australian snack and they are terrific during tea time and for celebrating Australia Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from Chefs Jamie Oliver and David Lebovitz)

For the sponge cake

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar, granulated white
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled slightly

Directions

In a large bow, mix together the eggs, sugar and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and baking powder. Gradually add this to the egg mixture.

Stir in the melted butter and mix into a smooth batter. Pour into a lightly greased 8×8 inch square baking pan (we lined ours with wax paper). Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for about 25 minutes, testing cake for doneness.

Remove from the oven and cool completely. Square off the edges of the cake by trimming the sides (optional). Cut evenly into 2×2 inch squares (16 pieces).

For the chocolate-coconut coating

  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (we used Baker’s brand)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 3+ cups desiccated coconut

Directions

In a large microwavable bowl, melt the chocolate, butter and milk. Stir until smooth. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar and cocoa powder.

Gradually add the sugar-cocoa mixture into the chocolate mixture. Stir until smooth. Carefully dip a cooled square cake into the chocolate mixture and coat evenly around the cake. Roll into a pie plate of desiccated coconut. Let set on a baking sheet lined with wax or parchment paper.

Notes

 

Gruyère Cheese Puffs

January 20: National Cheese Lovers Day

We previously posted a recipe for pão de queijo (Brazilian cheese bread), which is similar to Gruyère cheese puffs without the chewy texture. This French gougere recipe is soft and light—and addicting! Pop these puffs in your mouth and prove you love cheese on National Cheese Lovers Day!

Recipe

(Adapted from People magazine)

Ingredients

  • 8 ½ tablespoons water
  • 8 ½ tablespoons milk
  • 7 tablespoons salted butter (we used European style butter)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 ¾ cup flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 7 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated

Directions

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (see Notes). In a large saucepan, boil the water, milk, butter and salt over medium heat, taking care not to scald the milk and butter. Stir in the flour all at once and mix with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until a smooth dough is formed.

Transfer to a mixing bowl. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until well blended. Stir in the cheese until well mixed (the cheese will melt slightly).

Place dough into a pastry/piping bag and pipe our 1-inch balls on the parchment paper, leaving 1-inch spaced apart. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until the puffs have risen and are golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve warm.

Notes

  • We placed a 1-inch round macaron pattern underneath the parchment paper to guide us when piping out the puffs. Remove the pattern before baking.
  • Check out our other cheese recipes by searching our blog.

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