Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!

Hola! Hispanic Heritage Month is from September 15th-October 15th. In honor of this celebration, we’re featuring salsa verde and empanadas this week. Ironically, these are the dishes I made for my first week of my new course on culinary and pâtisserie. Whoo hoo!

Let’s start with salsa verde- ‘coz it was simple and pretty quick- hehe!

Ingredients (yields two cups):

  • 1 oz Canola oil
  • Bunch of cilantro (or parsley)
  • 1 Garlic
  • 1 Lime (juiced)
  • 1/2 oz Onion
  • Salt- to taste
  • 1/2 of Jalapeño or serrano peppers
  • Tomatillos (canned or fresh)
    • 1 canned 13oz
    • 5 fresh (I guestimated since I couldn’t find canned tomatillos at my grocery stores)

When using fresh tomatillos, be sure to remove the husk. Also, before blending, fresh tomatillos, they should be blanched or broiled. I did both.

  • Blend all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor to desired consistency.
  • Heat canola oil over medium high heat.
  • Season with salt.
  • Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Salsa will keep fresh up to five-to-seven days.

I’ve never made my own salsa before. I couldn’t believe how simple and quick it was. I would love to experiment in making other salsas like pico de gallo and salsa roja (red salsa). Ooh, I can’t wait! I’m on a salsa kick! (I’m doing my quick salsa dance right now 🤪💃🏻). My university had a ballroom dancing course that I took. It was pretty cool, but definitely had its challenges. Salsa was a bit difficult to learn. My favorite dance was the foxtrot. It was the first dance we learned and was the easiest.

Onto empanadas… Empanadas are basically Spanish turnovers. They can be filled with either a savory or sweet filling. We’re filling them with savory ingredients.

Ingredients (yields eight servings)

  • 2 oz bread flour
  • 1 oz cake flour
    • *NOTE: can substitute both flours for all-purpose flour (3 oz total)
  • Canola oil (optional for deep-frying)
  • 1/2 oz lard or vegetable shortening
  • 2 oz monterrey jack cheese or mild cheddar, shredded
  • 1 poblano pepper (roasted, seeded and diced)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1.5 oz warm water
  • Sift flours into a mixing bowl.
  • Add lard or vegetable shortening and blend into flour (I used vegetable shortening).
  • Dissolve salt in warm water before pouring into the flour mixture.
  • Knead dough until smooth.
  • Wrap the dough in a plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile…

  • Scrape the filmed skin off the poblano pepper, using the back of the knife.
  • Remove seeds and cut into dices. (The seeds will make the flavor more acidic)
  • Combine cheese and pepper into bowl.

30 minutes later…

  • Weigh the dough on a food scale and divide into eight equal pieces.
  • Sprinkle flour on surface and rolling pin.
  • Roll dough into a ball and flatten with a rolling pin, creating a circle.
  • Place cheese/pepper mixture on one side of the circle.
  • Fold the other side to create a turnover.
  • Press dough around the filling and crimp edges with a fork.
  • Line baking sheet with parchment paper and bake in a 375ºF oven until golden brown.

Happy October! Wishing you a great week ahead. Until next week…

Peace and wellness,

FS x

Please check out my social media platforms for more posts throughout the week!

Poached chicken/salmon with a buttery goodness

Happy last Sunday of August! This week, we learned to poach a protein. Poaching involves simmering something in liquid. I poached not one, but two proteins. Whoop whoop! I loved this technique. It was so simple and clean. Before poaching, I made a court bouillon to poach the chicken and salmon in. It was a very acidic broth. Wowsers!

The court bouillon includes the following ingredients:

  • water
  • white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
  • yellow onion (coarsely chopped)
  • celery (coarsely chopped)
  • leeks (coarsely chopped)
  • bay leaves
  • crushed peppercorn
  • dried thyme
  • parsley stems
  • whole cloves
  • salt

The liquid with all its ingredients are brought to a boil and then simmered for 20 minutes. The contents are then strained and discarded. The clean broth is ready for use.

Before submerging the protein in the bouillon, the temperature of the liquid needs to be brought to 160ºF (for the chicken) and 140ºF (for the salmon). The protein is then submerged in the low-heat liquid until it reaches its well-done temperatures (165ºF for chicken and 145ºF for salmon).

Both proteins were paired with a beurre blanc (aka white buttery) sauce. Here are the ingredients used to make this glorious sauce:

  • dry white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
  • white wine vinegar
  • shallots (chopped brunoise style (1/8 x 1/8 x 1/8 cut)
  • cold unsalted butter (cut into cubes)
  • salt

This sauce requires a lot of attention and focus to maintain its consistency. My chef instructors spoke about this sauce “breaking” if left unattended or overheated. The sauce will lose its thick texture and become runny, similar to melted butter. That would be a mess.

First, the wine, vinegar, and shallots are reduced to about an ounce or two tablespoons in the saucepan. Next, add one or two cubes of butter at a time, while whisking vigorously. This creates an emulsion, which is a mixture of two or more liquids that are typically immiscible, like oil and water. Continue slowly adding the butter and whisk. Lift the pot on-and-off the heat (“pot dancing”) while adding the butter and whisking persistently to control the temperature. Once the emulsion takes hold, more amounts of butter can be added a time, while still continuing to whisk. Shallots can be taken out or left in the pan. Season before serving.

This sauce is kept in a warm place or thermos until it’s ready to be served. Once this sauce is made, it cannot be reheated, as the sauce will break. I was so nervous about breaking the sauce, but thankfully, I didn’t. I was intently focused on making sure I kept the consistency of the thickness of the sauce. I was so attentive that I forgot to take required pictures of the steps leading to the final production of this sauce for my class assignment. Therefore, I had to remake it. It was great practice to make it again. I’m glad I had the opportunity. Because I knew what to expect, I felt more confident making the sauce the second time around. I was so amazed that whisking butter in an ounce of liquid could create a rich, acidic, and thick buttery sauce. The color reminded me of cream of chicken. It was so delightful and paired so well with the chicken and salmon. Yum!

Have a lovely week as we head into September. There’s a lot happening in the world. The pandemic. The situation in Afghanistan…. People in Louisiana, you’re in my thoughts and prayers as y’all encounter Hurricane Ida. Let’s not let the negative events of the world consume our mind. Take time to reflect on the positive and always exercise gratitude. That’s what I was reminded of this past week. Being thankful for what I have and keeping that close to my heart.

Take care,

FS x

We’ve got ourselves a Mexican fiesta!

Happy last weekend of July and start to the 2020 Olympics! I watched the opening ceremony on Friday night. The Japanese do not disappoint! My peeps; my motherland. So proud! Go Teams USA and Japan! Wishing all the athletes the best of luck!

On Saturday night I witnessed the men’s street skateboarding athletes from the US, Japan, Peru, Brazil, and France showcasing good sportsmanship to one another. Hugging, encouraging, and supporting each other. It brought a warmness to my heart. The world coming together.

I recalled my very first trip to Japan in 2015. Tokyo was already underway in preparing for the Olympics. A lot of construction building those extraordinary infrastructures. Amazing! They were already selling Olympics merch, too. I bought some hand towels as souvenirs. I remember thinking about wanting to be in Tokyo when the Olympics occurred. Who knew that we’d experience a global pandemic in 2020. So glad I didn’t buy tickets. I hope all who did were able to get a refund. Sending good energy that cases don’t soar out-of-control during these next couple weeks in Tokyo and amongst the athletes and all who are involved in making the Olympics happen. I’m looking forward to watching my favorite sports: gymnastics, swimming, and diving.

We’re highlighting on two dishes I made: rice pilaf and Mexican pinto beans, aka frijoles de olla. I was extremely nervous to make the rice pilaf on the stove. Every time I used to make pilaf on the stove, my rice would turn out mushy. Thank goodness for rice cookers! It’s a staple in almost every home in Hawai’i and especially amongst Asians. I learned over the years that a rice cooker can be very handy in cooking all sorts of foods, besides rice. There’s a Buzz Feed article I came across years ago. I’m glad the link is still active: https://www.buzzfeed.com/melissaharrison/rice-cooker-recipes

As suspected, my first attempt at making the rice pilaf turned out mushy. Ugh! While my taste testers enjoyed the texture, I certainly didn’t. I had another go at making it. This was unacceptable to submit to my instructor. The second time, I didn’t follow the recipe to “the T.” I added in less liquid than the recipe called for and hoped it would be enough to create a “just right” texture and consistency. Phew! Thank God it worked! My second attempt turned out perfect! And boy, was it delicious! Or should I say, addicting! It was buttery, light, fluffy, and somewhat chewy (in a good way). The dish included butter, chicken broth, and onions (brunoise style cut 1/8″ x 1/8″ x 1/8″). I didn’t know rice pilaf required baking for 18-20 minutes after boiling on the stove top. Whaaaat? Yep! It helps the rice absorb the liquid and creates that fluffy texture. Ooh whee!

Onto the frijoles de olla. That was pretty simple and self-explanatory. I soaked the pinto beans overnight. Any dried beans needs to be soaked overnight before cooking. Also, they’re to be seasoned last, after the beans are fully cooked. If they’re seasoned before they’re tender, the beans won’t cook properly. I learned something new! The Mexican pinto beans included the following ingredients: sliced onions, and chopped garlic and jalapeños. All ingredients are thrown into a pot, covered in water. They’re to be brought to a boil and then to a simmer until the beans become tender. Once the beans are tender, lard, or white fat from pig, is added. Lard can be substituted for butter, which is what I used. Bam!

Have a marvelous new week ahead!

Stay safe,

FS x

An Adventure in Fargo

Happy June and soon-to-be summer! The days are getting longer, which is the best part about summer. Though, I wish the sun would go down later in Hawai’i. It goes down a little past 7pm here, which I was used to until I started traveling. I remember being so amazed when the sun went down past 8pm whenever my family and I would travel to Las Vegas in the summer. When I traveled overseas, it was so cool to see the sun go down close to 10pm. It boggled my mind!

In the fall of 2019, I visited my dear friend in the Midwest. We went to a lovely district in Fargo (North Dakota) of restaurants and bars, and came across a Liberian restaurant, called A&E. We both had not eaten Liberian food before and decided to try it. We were both excited and had no idea what to expect.

The owner of the restaurant was a gem. She was friendly and kind to suggest dishes for us to try. We ordered: cassava leaf with rice, roasted meat, and plantains. It was a nice, quiet, and quaint place. Perfect for catching up.

The cassava leaf, which is not pictured, reminded me of both canned spinach and lu’au leaves, Hawaiian leaves, that is used to wrap the chicken, pork, or fish in lau lau. The cassava leaves had a similar texture and taste to the lu’au leaves- my favorite part of the lau lau . I also tried plantain for the first time (featured image). It was very yummy and sweet. It reminded me of banana lumpia, which is a Filipino dessert. The roasted meat was very tasty. I can’t wait to go back to try more food the next time I’m in town again.

I remember our evening together so vividly. It was a chilly fall night, one of my fave seasons. (The other being summer). Snow flurries fell from the clear evening sky. The stars were shining so brightly. Two great friends- a night on the town. It was beautiful.

I found this link: https://www.tasteatlas.com/most-popular-food-in-liberia. It has some interesting dishes I would like to try making. One of them is the Liberian peanut soup. It has peanut butter- my fave! I’m always game to make anything with PB!

It’s always an exciting adventure to explore different ethnic foods during my travels. That is the best part! I love being spontaneous, trying amazing and exotic foods, and then sharing about them with everyone. It’s a treat; a joy! And then, doing some research to find some dishes to make at home. It’s fun to experiment cooking various cuisines. It makes cooking very interesting and entertaining for me.

Have a great week!

FS x

Sixteen of 20 Things 2020 Has Taught and Reminded Me + Brick Oven Pizza

It’s sweet 16.

16. Recognizing that everyone deals with crises differently.

We’ve gone through an ordeal of crises in 2020. I came to understand that everyone has dealt with the tribulations differently this year, including myself. While I was feeling motivated and optimistic, others around me were feeling stressed and depressed. As a compassionate person and licensed social worker, it’s in my nature to empathize and imagine myself in other people’s shoes to understand how the certain situations and multiple factors affect their emotions. Things like: familial discord, financial struggles, loss of vocation, lack of socialization and personal interaction, loneliness, and uncertainty of the future… This year’s circumstances immensely attested to our emotional and mental health. But we will rise from this. We always do. We are resilient. We come out better and stronger.

Overtime, I’ve experienced going through the spectrum of emotions this year. I started off feeling positive and driven, but those emotions slowly turned into frustration and despair. I had to practice a lot of self-talk, self-motivation, and self-love to get myself through the year.

I was searching the internet and came across a colorful wheel of emotions. This pretty much explains the entire year, and then some…

Last Christmas, my colleagues and I went to our boss’s house to make pizzas in her man-made brick oven (see featured image). It was a beautiful oven. The pizzas we made were delicious. I made a pesto base with spinach, vegan cheese, onions, and garlic. It was scrumptious. Yum!

Wishing you all the best last week of 2020. Let’s go out with a BANG!

FS x

Ground lamb and turkey squash stew

Happy Spring!

In light of a new season, I made a yummy squash stew with ground lamb and turkey and barley rice from Japan. I was inspired by this recipe.

Ingredients used:

  • Ground lamb
  • Ground turkey
  • Large onion
  • Garlic
  • Sprigs of thyme
  • Kale
  • Carrots
  • Kosher salt
  • Garlic salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic pepper/powder
  • 1.5 bottle of beer (I used Miller Lite)
  • Butternut squash
  • Chicken stock (no salt)
  • Barley rice
  • Flour for thickening

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Barley rice from Daiso in Japan.

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Ta da! A very tasty stew.

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I wish I had bought more of this rice. It was so delicious!

A healthy, yummy dinner just in time to welcome spring! I was very pleased with this dish.

Now that Honolulu has Daiso, I hope to find this rice there. It was to-die-for!

 

Spring chicken soup before spring is over!

I saw this awesome spring chicken soup recipe while browsing my Facebook and I HAD to make it!

https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/a19992009/spring-chicken-soup-recipe/

Ingredients: (of course, as y’all know, I modified the recipe.)
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1″ pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried thyme
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
6 c. low-sodium organic chicken broth
1 whole chicken, shredded
2 sprigs thyme
1/4 c. lemon juice
2 cans of Southwest corn
Lemon slices, for garnish
My ingredients for this awesome soup!
Directions:
  1. In a large pot over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add onion, carrots, celery, and asparagus, and cook until soft. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, then add oregano, salt, and pepper.
  2. Pour in chicken broth and thyme. Bring to a boil then add chicken and lower heat. Let simmer until chicken is cooked through, 10 minutes.
  3. Remove chicken from pot and shred with two forks. Add chicken, lemon juice, and corn to pot. Cook until warmed through, 5 minutes. Garnish with lemon slices and parsley to serve.

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This soup was amazing! It lasted my family and I for three days!

I made pesto grilled cheese sandwiches to go along with the hearty soup.

The homemade pesto recipe is super simple:

  • Basil (Thai basil is also fine to use)
  • Pine nuts
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic cloves

Blend ingredients in a food processor or blender. It is so good! The best pesto I’ve ever eaten!

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I wanted to try Muenster cheese. It reminds me of Swiss. It was very yummy!

Bringing out an old friend… Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Happy Cinco de Mayo!!

In honor of this holiday, I was inspired to make some grinds with tequila! This time, with lamb shanks, baby!

I made orange-tequila lamb shanks.

I tweaked the recipe, as I always do.

Ingredients (Foodnista Soul’s way):

Hard core balsamic vinegar!

Boy, oh boy! Balsamic vinegar is where it’s at! It’s potent, but oh-so-good, and healthy for ya. Did you know it’s made from grapes?! I had no idea! Where was I? Haha! Makes me think of wine.

I was inspired by our Easter luncheon to make a dish with balsamic vinegar. I also learned how healthy it is for you. Time to use this ingredient much more often.

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I made a honey-balsamic chicken dish, courtesy of AllRecipes.

It was a very simple dish. I, of course, added onions and garlic to my dish. My must-haves!

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I baked the chicken for an hour and 10 minutes at 375 degrees. It was really good! Best to marinate the night before- not required, though.

I also made a spinach, quinoa, and strawberry salad with homemade oil and vinegar dressing. Oh, to-die-for!

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Ingredients for the dressing. I measured 1/3 c oil and vinegar and 2 tsp. sugar. The garlic powder and pepper are bonuses! Hehe!

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Beautiful salad; beautiful colors. You can cook the quinoa in a rice cooker or on the stove. I cooked it in the rice cooker- one cup of quinoa and measured two cups of water, as instructed, but the quinoa came out a bit mushy. Next time, I’ll put 1.5 cups of water instead. Can’t always trust the instructions. That’s why I always cook by taste, rather than following a recipe to-the-tee. I use recipes as a guide.

Happy Friday and upcoming weekend! Relax and unwind…

 

Yee haw! We going country!

The other weekend, I made a country hamburger dish. It was fairly simple; only required several ingredients.

Here is the recipe: https://www.copymethat.com/r/ItaR9ec/country-hamburger-skillet-dinner/

I used hash browns instead of what the recipe called for, which was Yukon potatoes. It turned out pretty good!

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Of course I had to add onions and garlic to the dish! Those are must-have ingredients.

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Let’s get cooking!

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I first placed the hash browns onto a 9×13″ pan. You can pan-fry them first to get them golden brown. Then, layered the cooked hamburger before baking at 350°.

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After baking it for about an hour, I sprinkled cheese and put it back in the oven for five minutes, so it could melt. Garished some chives for some extra taste!

Bon appétit! Have a great weekend.