Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Orange Macadamia Salad with Crispy 'Butterflies'

Orange Macadamia Salad with Crispy 'Butterflies'
(You could add some grilled or poached sliced chicken if you like.)

The little crispy "butterflies" are optional, I happened to have a few wonton wrappers leftover so used them here. Quickly shaped and fried, they add a whimsical garnish and a crispy crunch.
You can just peel and slice the orange(s), but I like to cut the sections into supremes*,
eliminating all pith & membrane from the sections.I use bagged, organic baby field or spring mix for the greens in this salad. Baby spinach leave would work very well, too.
Be sure to toast the macadamia nuts to bring out the flavor. Toasted almonds (sliced or slivered), hazelnuts, or pecans would also be very good.

Besides the wonton wrapper "Butterflies", as a final garnish I slivered some candied ginger and sprinkled it over the orange segments.

Here are the ingredients for the vinaigrette (and basic proportions.) I rarely measure when I'm cooking, only when I'm baking, so taste as you go along. You may like it sweeter or more tart than I do. :)

Orange Vinaigrette

Orange zest
Orange juice
Unseasoned Rice Vinegar
Pure Maple Syrup
A little granulated sugar or Splenda (if you want more sweetness)
A splash of oil (canola or very mild olive oil)
Salt and Pepper (optional)

Before cutting the orange, use a microplane to collect some of the zest and set aside.After cutting th orange into supremes, squeeze the remaining membrane into a medium bowl, collecting the juice. (You can add a little more fresh orange juice if you like.)

For a salad for two I used one large, sweet orange.
The juice from the membrane of the orange, (after cutting into supremes)
1 to 2 tablespoons Rice Wine Vinegar (unseasoned)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
I added a teaspoon of Splenda
a pinch of kosher salt
Canola oil ~ about 2 1/2 teaspoons

Whisk all together in a bowl, taste. Adjust ingredients to your preference, drizzle over the composed salads just before serving.

* How to section an orange into supremes (click).

I don't eat a lot of fried foods, and rarely when I dine out. I'd rather prepare it at home where I can control the quality and freshness of the oil.

Although I have a couple of large electric fryers I leave them on the shelf and reach for the much smaller "Fry Daddy". It heats the oil in a matter of minutes and requires only a couple of cups of oil rather than quarts, as larger fryers or pots do. It's ideal for adding a little interesting garnish to a dish, like these wonton butterflies.

Depending upon what is cooked in the oil I usually can use it several times before discarding as long as it is kept refrigerated between uses. (I use a separate batch of oil for seafood.)

To make the "butterflies" simply streak a line of water down the center of each wonton wrapper with your fingertip then gather/pinch the center into accordian folds. Pinch the middle to make the shape hold it's shape then fry in hot oil until golden brown on each side. Drain well.

It's one of my favorite salads; I hope you like it too.

A little sunshine on your plate. :)

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Lemon-Seared Scallops on Wonton Crisps

Lemon-Seared Scallops on Wonton Crisps
~ For Two

1 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons olive oil, or other flavorless vegetable oil
4 scallops, cleaned and trimmed (The small Bay scallops don't work well for this recipe)
1 scallion (green onion), thinly sliced or slivered
4 wonton wrappers
vegetable oil for shallow-frying

First make the crispy wontons:

With a 2-inch to 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter, cut each wonton into rounds. Discard trimmings. Heat 1/3-inch of vegetable oil in a pan over high heat. Fry wontons in two batches until golden and crisp. Remove from pan and drain on absorbent paper. Set aside.

When ready to serve ~ Sprinkle a little green onion on each crisp wonton then proceed with searing the scallops:

Sprinkle the scallops with salt and cracked pepper. Over high heat, heat butter and olive oil in a frying pan, add scallops, turn after 20 to 30 seconds and add lemon zest. Allow to cook on second side for another 20 to 30 seconds.

Place one scallop on each prepared wonton; spoon a little of the pan juices over each scallop, garnish with finely grated lemon zest (use your microplane!)

Serve immediately with pre-dinner drinks.


Recipe adapted from Donna Hay

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Stacked Pear Salads

Stacked Pear Salads
4 servings (recipe can easily be halved or doubled)
4 smooth skinned pears
2 to 3 cups water cress, baby field lettuce, arugula or baby spinach
1/2 cup toasted pecans, walnuts, or hazelnuts
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese, or feta (I used reduced calorie feta)
simple vinagrette dressing (for this recipe skip the garlic if you usually use it. I used a commercial reduced calorie raspberry vinaigrette from the bottle.
honey (or agave syrup)
lemon juice

-Cut pears horizontally into three or four slices each. Use a knife to core the center pieces (they will resemble dougnuts.) Leave the stem on. Brush lemon juice on each cut side of the slices to prevent browning.

In a medium size bowl, toss the pecans, blue cheese, water cress (or tender greens of your choice) with the dressing until well coated.

Reassemble the pear, vertically, with the salad mixture between each slice. When assembled drizzle entire pear with honey; I used agave syrup instead of the honey ~ it measures more favorably on the Glucose Index than honey.

These are best made just shortly before serving. I hope you enjoy!

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Crispy Won Ton Chicken Stacks ~ Thai Style

Crispy Won Ton Chicken Stacks ~ Thai Style
As shared from the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate
4 servings, and easily multiplied

A great little starter or snack ~ you can make it as mild or as spicy as you like depending upon the heat and the amount of chili you add.

Vegetable oil for shallow frying
8 won ton wrappers
1 to 2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves *
1/2 cup mint leaves (optional) *
1/2 cup or more cilantro leaves *
1 fresh chili, mild or hot (your choice), slivered
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons fish sauce (or soy sauce)
2 teaspoons brown sugar

Optional Garnishes:

Thinly sliced scallions (green onions)
Sesame Seeds
Dark Sesame Oil
Crushed peanuts

* lightly packed


Heat oil in frying pan and fry won ton skins over high heat until crisp and golden brown, turning once. Drain on absorbent paper and arrange 2 won tons on each of 4 plates, set aside.

Combine chicken, basil, mint, cilantro and chili, divide evenly onto the crisp won tons.

Mix the lime juice, fish or soy sauce, and sugar until well blended. Drizzle evenly over each chicken stack.

Sprinkle with scallion slices, sesame seeds and/or a few drops of sesame oil if desired.

Recipe adapted from "Instant Entertaining"

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Chicken Breasts Roasted on Tomatoes and Eggplant with Oregano

Chicken Breasts Roasted on Tomatoes and Eggplant with Oregano
4 servings

1 eggplant
3 Roma, or other ripe tomatoes
1 Tablespoon fresh oregano leaves (or 2 teaspoons dried, crumbled)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper (coarse grind)
4 chicken breast fillets
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350* (F)

Line shallow rimmed baking pan with a silpat liner or parchment paper (for easy clean-up.)

Thickly slice eggplant (one slice for each chicken breast), place on lined baking pan, top with sliced tomatoes, oregano, salt and pepper.

Arrange chicken breasts on top of each eggplant/tomato stack. (At this point I like to brush or spray lightly with olive oil.)

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, remove from oven and sprinkle each evenly with the mozzarella and parmesan. Continue baking until chicken is cooked through and cheese is bubbling and lightly browned. This will depend upon thickness of the chicken breasts. The average size breasts I used required an additional 25 to 30 minutes baking time.
(Test with instant thermometer to make sure chicken is cooked through, and has reached an internal temperature of at least 165* (F) .)

Garnish with additional fresh oregano or parsley if desired. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Donna Hay

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Nectarines Wrapped in Prosciutto with Balsamic Vinegar Syrup Drizzle

Nectarines or Peaches Wrapped in Prosciutto with Balsamic Vinegar Drizzle
4 servings
2 nectarines or peaches
6 slices prosciutto, halved
3 or 4 ounces arugula or other tender salad greens
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
cracked black pepper
Cut each nectarine (or peach) into 6 wedges then wrap in the prosciutto.
Arrange greens on four plates, divide the wrapped fruit evenly among the plates.
To make Balsamic Syrup:
In a small pot or pan combine balsamic vinegar and brown sugar, place over high heat and boil until thickened. Cool slightly and spoon over the greens, sprinkle with the cracked black pepper and serve.

Recipe adapted from Donna Hay

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Tarte Tatin á la Tomate - Tomato Tart

Garnish with fresh basil, serve warm or at room temperature.

It's best the day it's made ~ but I have no hesitation having a slice the next day!

Tarte Tatin á la Tomate - Tomato Tatin
Recipe inspired by Clothilde Dusoulier
Serves 8 as a starter, 4 as a main course.

Pâte Brisée (your favorite recipe), OR 1 sheet commercially prepared puff pastry, thawed
Extra virgin olive oil
2 pounds Roma or plum tomatoes (substitute any other firm and not too juicy variety)
Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Herbes de Provence (or a mix of dried rosemary, basil, oregano, and thyme)
1/4 cup black olive tapenade, store-bought or homemade
6 ounces fresh goat cheese
1/3 cup (loosely packed) fresh basil leaves
Chilling time: 30 minutes for the dough

Prepare the Pâte Brisée, wrap securely in cling film and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. May be made up to 24 hours ahead.

I used a sheet of commercially prepared puff pastry, (thawed as directed on package.)

Preheat the oven to 350°F

Rub the interior of a 10-inch ceramic quiche pan with 1 teaspoon olive oil.
Halve the tomatoes lengthwise and core them. Using your thumb dislodge seeds in the crevices (discard), squeeze tomatoes gently to rid them of some of their juices.

Arrange them in the prepared pan, skin side down, in a circular pattern. They will shrink as they bake, fill the pan snugly.

Season with salt, pepper, herbs, and a good drizzle of olive oil. Bake for 30 minutes, until softened. Remove from the oven (retaining oven temperature).

Remove the dough from the fridge and let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes. Working on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough in an 11-inch circle and prick all over with a fork. Spread with tapenade, leaving a 1-inch margin all around.
Cut the cheese in 1⁄3-inch slices and arrange over the tomatoes in the pan. Lay the dough, tapenade side down, on the cheese, and tuck in the overhanging flaps of dough.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the crust is golden. Remove to a rack and allow to cool for several minutes. Loosen the edge of the pastry by running a knife around the inside of the quiche pan.

To flip: Protect your hands with oven mitts and place an overturned serving plate over the top of the pan, flip quickly but carefully. Don't worry if some of the tomatoes stay in the pan, just arrange them on the tart.

Just before serving garnish with fresh basil leaves, snipped or torn if desired.

This is best served warm or at room temperature the same day it is made.

Suggested variations: Instead of tapenade, spread the dough with onion confit, anchovy paste, or pesto. Instead of goat cheese, use slices of buffalo mozzarella, drained and patted dry with paper towels.

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Lemon, Ricotta and Pea Pasta

Lemon, Ricotta and Pea Pappardelle Pasta

adapted from Donna Hay

Almost any shaped pasta can be substituted for the wide Pappardelli pasta ~ I also tossed in some cherry tomato halves at the last moment, though I didn't get a picture of it that way. It was a nice addition and one I would do again.

400 g (14 ounces) Pappardelle or other pasta

1/4 cup lemon juice

3 Tablespoons olive oil

1 cup peas (I use petite frozen, and just thaw them)

1/2 cup slivered mint leaves (I used basil leaves)

sea salt and cracked black pepper

500 grams (1 pound) fresh ricotta cheese

Grated Parmesan cheese to serve

* Optional: Cherry Tomato halves

Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water until al dente. Drain and return to the pot, reserving a little of the pasta water. Toss the pasta with all ingredients EXCEPT the ricotta (and reserved water).

After tossing, add ricotta and mix gently. If the pasta seems too "tight", add a little of the reserved pasta water.

Spoon onto serving plates and pass the grated Parmesan cheese.


Recipe provides 4 servings.

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Monday, September 7, 2009

My favorite (somewhat more healthful) Pizza Crust so far

I've tried all kinds of whole wheat pizza crust recipes, most to mixed reviews. Some are just too heavy and dry, others flabby, or too sweet, and some just downright tough, or have all the charm and taste of a piece of cardboard.

After experimenting for a while with the proportions of whole wheat to white flour this one is my family's favorite, even kids like this one ~ and I'm so pleased to share it with you.

No rising time is necessary, also see tips below for making it ahead and freezing.
Favorite Pizza Dough using Whole Wheat Flour
From the kitchen of Once Upon a Plate

1 cup whole wheat white flour
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon fast-rise dry active yeast
2 tablespoon olive oil (may substitute vegetable oil of your choice)
1 teaspoon salt
1 to 3 teaspoons white sugar (I use 1 teaspoon)
1 cup warm water, about 110*


Preheat oven with baking stone 500 to 550 degrees (F) for at least 1/2 hour. *
See important note below.

Combine flour, salt, sugar and yeast in food processor fitted with metal blade, or stand mixer fitted with dough hook, pulse or blend for a moment until combined. Mix oil and warm water and add to flour mixture. If using food processor, process or until dough ball forms.

At this point you may form pizza immediately, or allow to rise for 30 to 45 minutes before shaping if that is more convenient. *

To form the pizza, stretch the dough as thin as possible, or roll out on a lightly floured board. It's your choice; make one large pizza, 2 medium, or several smaller pizzas.

Because we like a crisp crust, I prebake the pizza without any toppings for a couple of minutes, then remove it from oven, apply toppings then return to oven to continue baking until the crust is crisp and begins to brown. I use a pizza peel very lightly sprinkled with corn meal to transfer the pizza to and from the oven; a rimless cookie sheet, or thin, flexible cutting board also works well in lieu of a pizza peel.

* For my small family I usually make the entire recipe, then use the amount of dough I need immediately, and form the remainder of the dough into a ball, (or balls). Wrap each ball well in oiled cling film, twist to close and place the balls into a resealable plastic bag and place in the freezer for up to 2 to 3 months.

To use, remove from freezer and allow to thaw completely either in the refrigerator, or at room temperature, you can use it immediately upon thawing, or allow it to rise until doubled, then form the pizza dough.

* If you do not have a baking stone, preheat the oven to 375 degrees (F) and you bake the pizza on a metal baking sheet for 20 to 25 minutes, or until done to your liking.
If you try this recipe, I hope you enjoy it!

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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Chicken Cakes (Spicy or Not) with Sweet Chilli Sauce

I used ideas from 3 recipes to come up with this one ~ I think it is the best of all. If you try it I hope you like it, too.

Chicken Cakes with Sweet Chilli Sauce* Drizzle ~ From the Kitchen of Once Upon a Plate
Makes about 10 medium or 20 small cakes (this of course will depend upon the size of the cakes you make.)
Note: For dinner salads to serve 2 or 3, I halve the recipe and use a small cookie dough scoop/portion scoop, it holds a volume of just under 2 ounces. That size scoop ~(with mixture leveled, not mounded) produces cakes which are about 1 3/4-inches to 2"-inches in diameter.

This is such a quick recipe to put together with the help of your food processor. You'll find the coconut cream makes these brown very quickly so to assure they stay juicy and flavorful without burning, brown them briefly in a pan (stove top), then transfer the patties to a sheet pan and finish cooking for a few minutes in a 325* (F) oven for about 5 minutes, or until they spring back when touched. With this two step cooking method you get the nice brown exterior without drying out the interiors while assuring that they cook through.

- About 12 ounces lean skinless chicken, roughly chopped (You can use boneless thighs, I usually use chicken breasts) *
- 1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves, or fresh basil leaves, or parsley leaves
- 1 scallion (green onion), both white and green parts, finely sliced
- Finely grated zest of 1 lime or lemon (use your microplane)
- 2 tablespoons sweet Thai chilli sauce, from the bottle ~ I use Mae Ploy brand)
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce, or 1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 egg white
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup coconut cream (I use Coco Lopez brand, from the can)
Optional --
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced or pressed
- Jalapeno, or other hot pepper, finely minced *

- Canola, or other flavorless oil for frying

* You can combine the minced hot pepper into the patties, but I prefer to offer them on the side in a small bowl with a spoon as some people are very sensitive/allergic to the heat.

Optional to serve:
Additional Sweet Chilli Sauce (I always drizzle this lightly over all), or Salsa, Guacamole, or Basil Oil.

I serve with roquet/rocket (arugula) and/or baby spinach leaves


Place all ingredients, except coconut cream and oil, in food processor fitted with the metal blad and pulse to a coarse purée. With motor running, add coconut cream mix until evenly combined.

Cook in batches:

Heat a lightly oiled, non-stick frypan and cook small scoopfuls* of mixture 2-3 minutes each side over medium heat until cooked through and springy to the touch. Serve on rocket leaves and accompany with Sweet Chilli Sauce, Avocado Salsa or Basil Oil

These can be made and cooked up to a day ahead, then cooled, covered and refrigerated. When ready to serve reheat for just a couple of minutes in a hot oven, until heated through...but don't let them dry out. I tent them very loosely with a piece of foil to slow down the escape of steam while they are reheating.

* This recipe can also be prepared with raw prawn meat or raw fish.
If you are unfamiliar with Sweet Chili Sauce, here is what it looks like:

Click link to learn more.

I keep it on hand always ~ it's NOT hot and spicy, rather mild and sweet; perfect for all ages and even sensitive taste buds.
It makes a terrific dip for egg rolls, spring rolls, cocktail meatballs, prawns, dim sum, chicken nuggets, and as a condiment for grilled chicken, meat or fish.

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