Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad

I think one of the prettiest salads you can have is the Caprese Salad.  It’s vibrant colors are so inviting, promising something creamy, fresh and delicious.

What you may ask is a Caprese Salad.  It’s an Italian salad of fresh mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, and basil with a light vinaigrette dressing.  It’s said that Caprese Salad was originally made to honor the Italian flag which is Red, White, and Green; the same colors of the salad.

Caprese Salad is definitely a family favorite.  It’s not only delicious but it’s so easy to make.  We have it for lunch, as a panino or sandwich.  You can place the ingredients between 2 slices of bread or better yet a ciabatta roll, grill it just until the bread is toasted and the cheese melts, and you have a wonderfully simple meal!

The most important thing to remember when making Caprese Salad at home is to use the freshest ingredients you can find.  This mean unless absolutely necessary the prepacked balls of mozzarella in the supermarket’s dairy case just won’t do!

Short of bringing home fresh mozzarella from Italy (which I’ve actually done) I usually find fresh mozzarella at Costco or the deli counter.  It’s the balls of cheese that’s usually floating in the tub it’s packaged in.  You’ll know it’s fresh because it’s softer than those hard balls packed in plastic wrap.

Tomatoes of course are fresh, pick nice ripe ones.  I get mine from my garden along with the fresh basil.  If you don’t have a basil plant (and you should! it’s so easy to keep even a small one in the kitchen window) you can buy fresh basil leaves at the grocery store.

Once you have all the fresh ingredients all  you really need is some extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a bit of Italian seasoning if  you have it, and some salt.  If you don’t have Italian seasoning you can use dried oregano, parsley, or basil or you can just use black pepper.

Caprese Salad is great for a light lunch or as a fresh addition to any meal.  It’s tasty and refreshing, the perfect summer salad!

Caprese Salad

Ingredients:

5-6 slices of Fresh Mozzarella Cheese (slices should be about 1/2″ thick)

1 Firm Ripe Tomato – sliced in about 1/2″ thick rounds

3-6 Fresh Basil Leaves

1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar

1 Tsp. Italian Dressing

Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:

Slice mozzarella and tomatoes into 1/2″ rounds and arrange on a plate.  Alternate tomato and cheese to make it look nice.

You can also add a basil leaf between the cheese and tomato or you can place the leaves in the center.  Place the three ingredients on the plate any way you find pleasing.

Mix together oil and vinegar.

Add 1/2 Tsp. of Italian seasoning to the oil mixture and stir well.

Drizzle over the fresh ingredients just before serving.

Sprinkle remaining Italian Seasoning over all and season with salt and pepper if desired.

 

 

Caprese Salad
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Sweetcorn with pancetta, rosemary and garlic butter

Sweetcorn with pancetta, rosemary and garlic butter

SERVES 6
Time icon
HANDS-ON TIME 25 MIN, PLUS CHILLING
Yes, hot sweetcorn slathered with salty butter is good but have you tried hot sweetcorn smothered with a pancetta, rosemary and garlic butter? It is divine!

NUTRITION: PER SERVING

ALORIES – 240KCALS
FAT – 20.3G (10G SATURATED)
PROTEIN – 5.4G
CARBOHYDRATES – 8G (2G SUGARS)
FIBRE – 2.1G
SALT – 0.5G

 

Ingredients

6 pancetta slices, finely chopped
2 fresh rosemary sprigs, leaves stripped and chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
100g unsalted butter, softened
Vegetable oil to rub

Method

1. Cook the pancetta in a frying pan over a high heat for 1 minute on each side until beginning to crisp. Add the rosemary and garlic and cook for 2 minutes until fragrant and the pancetta is very crisp. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

2. Put the butter in a bowl, add the cooled pancetta mix and stir to combine. Chill for 20 minutes. Once firm enough to handle, spoon onto a sheet of cling film and roll up into a long cylinder, twisting the ends tightly. Wrap in more cling film and chill until firm (see make ahead).

3. Light a barbecue or heat a griddle pan. When the coals are glowing white or the pan is hot, peel back the husks from the corn and cut off or tie back with string. Rub the corn cobs all over with the oil, then grill for 8-10 minutes, turning, until charred and tender. Spread with the flavoured butter and eat straightaway.

The butter will keep, well wrapped, for up to 48 hours in the fridge or up to 1 month in the freezer.
A sunny white from hot Sicily has the right balance – try a fiano.

Sweetcorn with pancetta, rosemary and garlic butter
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Servings
6
Cook Time
25 min
Servings
6
Cook Time
25 min
Sweetcorn with pancetta, rosemary and garlic butter
Print Recipe
Servings
6
Cook Time
25 min
Servings
6
Cook Time
25 min
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Easy Fried Rice

Easy Fried Rice

I’m a Filipina who grew up in NYC and now lives in Hawaii.  Growing up rice was always part of the breakfast menu, actually it was part of every meal.  This my have been considered weird back in the 60’s in NYC, but when my family moved to Hawaii in the late 70’s we fit right in.

Growing up we always had an electric rice cooker filled with rice in the kitchen.  Left over or day old rice was fried with garlic for breakfast the next morning, we called it “Sinangag”.  These days Filipino restaurants call it “Garlic Fried Rice”.  Whatever you call it Filipino fried rice is delicious with fried eggs and breakfast meats, preferably Filipino cured meats like Tocino or Tapa.

My grandmothers would make fried rice every morning adding their own twist.  Traditionally I think it was made by stir frying left over rice with garlic.  My family added soy sauce and green onions to this mix, so that’s pretty much how we make it today.

In Hawaii which is a melting pot of different cultures the Filipino garlic fried rice has melded with other Asian versions of fried rice.  On the islands an order of Fried Rice is a meal by itself covering most of the basic food groups; dairy, grains, meats, and veggies, depending on what you put in it.

I look at making fried rice like I do making Lumpia or Eggrolls; you toss in whatever you find in the fridge and call it a day.  I simply build ingredients around day old rice (using fresh rice isn’t recommended as it can get too mushy).  Fried Rice can be as simple as stir frying garlic and rice or as elaborate as tossing in seafood, meat, and vegetables, like what you’d find on a Chinese Restaurant menu.

If I’m serving it as a side dish then the simpler version usually works best, but if I intend for it to be a complete meal then of course I add more “stuff” in it.  So today I’ll share my “recipe” for easy fried rice.  Measurements really aren’t that important because it pretty much depends on how much day old rice you have.  If you do decide to make it using fresh cooked rice then decrease the water when cooking so that the rice is drier and not mushy; it helps to make fresh rice in the morning and letting it “dry” a bit before making fried rice for lunch or dinner.

Easy Fried Rice

Ingredients:

Cooked White Rice – preferably day old rice

1-2 Tsp. Minced Garlic – adjust to taste

1/4  Cup Soy Sauce – adjust to taste and the amount of rice you have

Scrambled Egg chopped into pieces

Meat – I use canned Spam or Portuguese Sausage but you can use any type of breakfast meat you want like bacon or sausage – cooked and diced

2-4 Stalks Green Onions Chopped

1/2 Cup Frozen Green Peas (Optional)

2 Tbl. Oil

Directions:

Cook and dice your Egg and Meat – set aside.

Heat Oil in Wok or Frying Pan

Stir in garlic and cook about 45 seconds.  Don’t let it burn – lower heat if you have to.

Add cooked rice and mix well with garlic.  Break up any large clumps of rice.

Drizzle soy sauce over rice and stir in making sure it is evenly distributed.  Add more a little at a time if needed.  Don’t over do the soy sauce as your fried rice will be too salty.

Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix in to the rice evenly.

Garnish with extra green onions if desired.  Serve hot.

 

 

 

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Homemade Potato Chips

Homemade Potato Chips

I love potato chips!  Not the flavored ones (the flavors get more exotic each year, like Taco Flavor); just plain salty chips.  Simple right?

These days potato chips don’t seem as simple as they should be.  Exotic flavors aside they’re also packed with preservatives, I mean they do have to last thru shipping and sitting in the store until you get it home.  And even then it can sit resealed in the bag for days depending on the humidity.  So what happened to those simple natural chips that are crispy and salty?  They’re pretty much a thing of the past unless  you make them at home.

That’s pretty much what I’ve been doing since this Pandemic forced everyone to stay home and limit trips to the grocery store.  With time on my hands and a bag of potatoes in the pantry I started making Homemade Potato Chips, and my they are delicious!  We may never buy chips again!

Really it’s simple, just a bit tedious if you’re like me and make several bowlfuls.  But they do store pretty well in ziplock bags, that is if you can keep enough to store.  My family eats them as snacks and with their sandwiches.

All you need are 3 ingredients; potatoes, salt, and oil.  I use olive oil, but Canola Oil works wells too.  The trick is to heat the oil enough so that you flash fry the chips and you got to work fast so you don’t burn them.  Oh, and if you really need them flavored you can toss them in garlic salt, or whatever seasoning you want as long as it’s dry.  Or you can dip them in your favorite dip.  But like I said I like mine just crispy and salty!

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Ingredients:

6 Large Russet Potatoes

1/2 Cup Oil – more if you need it while frying

Sea Salt or seasonings of your choice

Directions:

Scrub potatoes and peel (if you don’t want to peel them that’s ok too, just be sure they’re scrubbed clean)

Using a mandolin slicer shave the potatoes (you can choose the thickness, I prefer the thinnest setting; thicker chips don’t get very crispy and tend to get hard) If you don’t have a mandolin slicer any veggie slicer should work as long as it has a straight blade.  Or if you prefer you can use a food processor just be sure you use the correct blade.

Place slices in a bowl of cold water to keep them from turning brown while you slice the rest of the potatoes.

Heat about 1/2″  oil in a large frying pan.

Place slices on paper towels – work in small batches to keep chips from burning and clumping together.

Pat chips dry – they don’t have to be bone dry just dry enough so they’re not dripping in water.  Placing really wet chips in hot oil will cause the oil to pop and sizzle and may burn you.

Fry chips both sides until golden brown – about 45 seconds at most.  Adjust heat if they start to burn.

Drain chips on a paper towel.  Repeat until all chips are cooked.

Sprinkle with sea salt and gently toss chips to salt all the chips.

To store place in ziplock bags and keep at room temperature.


Homemade Potato Chips
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Best-ever veggie sides for Christmas

Best-ever veggie sides for Christmas

Every family has their favourite Christmas veggie side dishes – from citrussy carrots and braised red cabbage, to cauliflower cheese, roast parsnips, and infamous brussels sprouts, we have all the recipes you need for Christmas dinner

Try our best Christmas vegetable side dishes. Here are our top Christmas dinner side dishes, from Brussels sprouts to red cabbage and roast parsnips. Plus winter greens and some indulgent gratin recipes. We also have plenty of Christmas trimmings ideas here, from pigs in blankets to the perfect gravy.

We have made Christmas side dishes easy to make, and here’s our turkey guide to cook the perfect turkey.

If you’re going all out vegetarian this Christmas, try our Christmas vegetarian recipes here.

 

Ingredients:

Our veggie sides use Christmas ingredients such as orange peel, cinnamon and more to add a festive touch

 

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Best-ever veggie sides for Christmas
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Best-ever veggie sides for Christmas
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Roasted Garlic Polenta “Mash” with Herbs and Mascarpone

Roasted Garlic Polenta “Mash” with Herbs and Mascarpone

Using a medium-coarsely ground cornmeal for this dish leaves some texture in the polenta while getting it as close to the consistency of soft, fluffy mashed potatoes as possible. (If using a more coarsely ground meal, increase both the cooking time and quantity of stock accordingly.)

 

What You Will Need

  • Small Bowl
  • Spoon
  • Medium Roasting Pan
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Medium Saucepan
  • Whisk

Ingredients

  • 1 medium head of garlic (1¾ oz.)
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup cornmeal (ground to a medium coarseness)
  • 1⁄4 cup (2 oz.) mascarpone
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 1⁄2 tsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Drizzle the whole garlic head with olive oil and wrap it tightly in a sheet of foil. Roast for until the cloves are very soft and fragrant, 30–35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool at room temperature.
  2. Once the garlic is cool enough to handle, separate each clove from the head. Peel and discard the skins. Transfer the cloves to a small bowl, mash them well with a fork, and set it aside.
  3. In a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, bring the stock to a boil. Slowly pour the cornmeal into the boiling stock, whisking constantly. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook, whisking continuously until the polenta starts to thicken slightly, 2–3 minutes. Cover the pot and continue cooking, stirring every 5 minutes and scraping the bottom well to ensure that the polenta does not clump, until the polenta is creamy and lightly bubbling, but still falls off the spoon in ribbons, about 30 minutes. Stir in the mashed garlic, salt, pepper, butter and mascarpone. Continue cooking, while stirring, just until the butter and mascarpone are completely melted and the garlic is incorporated, about 5 minutes more. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more kosher salt or pepper as needed.
  4. Immediately before serving, stir in the sage, thyme, and rosemary. Transfer to a large serving bowl and serve hot.

 

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Roasted Garlic Polenta “Mash” with Herbs and Mascarpone
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Roasted Garlic Polenta “Mash” with Herbs and Mascarpone
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