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Come Dine with Me!

15 Apr

I decided I had had enough of cooking only for myself! I was going to have people over and make a meal with at least 4 courses! I had in mind that I would keep it Asian as I know I can make the most complex and delicious flavors when I stick to that general area.

I had already made the Empire cookies and as I figured they would be fine for my dessert course. I didn’t want to go too crazy. I planned to stick to things that I had been cooking for the last few weeks that I knew I could the best with.  This was a bit of insurance so that I would not spend too much money either.

My Menu was going to consist of:

  • Vietnamese Style Fresh Spring Rolls with minced Chicken.
  • Chicken and Shrimp Shumai.
  • Thai Style Coconut curry served with Basmati Rice
  • Empire cookies served with Tea.

I started the afternoon meal with the Vietnamese style spring rolls. They were a spicy mixture of ground chicken, vermecelli noodles,  bean sprouts, and red tipped lettuce wrapped in Vietnamese rice paper.

Vietnamese Springs Rolls with chicken.

The meat of spring rolls was cooked in chicken broth and then after chopping all the cooked vermicelli noodles ( They are a little hard to bite through) I added to that some lemon juice and chili flake for some heat.

The next course were some Dim Sum that I had made up the day before for some fun challenge. I really want a steamer now as what I was using was not all that utilitarian with what I wanted it to do. I got the job done and they were a big hit anyway. I had tried them the day before and let me tell you I was so happy with them I couldn’t wait to share the jewels of mixed meat and dough.

Chicken and Shrimp Shumai”>

Chicken and Shrimp Shumai

Steamed Chicken Shrimp Shumai

The last dish was for a Thai cononut curry with a different approach than I usually take. I would normally make a pot of curry sauce  and then add all the ingredients cooked. I would not cook them in the sauce just use the coconut curry sauce as a base to bring everything together.

What I did, was took 2 large chicken breasts and chopped them up into chunks that would work well in the pot that I was cooking in. It is a 2 quart 12 inch cast iron pot with a glass lid. What I did was brown the chicken in the pan with some vegetable oil until it started to smoke and then I turned it over and then added the premixed curry. I then popped it into the oven set to around 400° and let it cook for 1 hour. I, of course was doing this a little in advance so my guests did not have to wait for their food.

Chicken and Thai Coconut Curry

The chicken in the curry was so tender and the sauce was packed with flavor.

I tried my best to make take pictures where I could. I was able to get some picture that I was happy with and my friends all know what kind of crazy foody I am, and so they were very understanding while waiting for this dish to be served up. I had fed them so many dimsum by this point they were a bit full. I aspire to be a large latina woman that turns a deaf ear to sounds of people playing at being full. All lies…

We digested a bit before cracking into The Empire cookies and tea. It was a good afternoon with friends and I look forward to doing something like this again soon! Thanks ladies for coming over and letting me feed you! Good times!

The Empire Cookies



3 Apr

I love working with a Sous-Chef!!!! Thank you Sarah for taking the roll on Friday! I really appreciated the extra set of hands and great conversation.  It has been a long time since I baked with anyone else on a foodie project.

I actually had no idea what cookie to cook that night. I still had oatmeal cookies left over and I was motivated to challenge myself on something new. As well, when I made those pre-mixed cookies for Valentines, I really loved the cookie that was premixed and packet-ed in the box. I am no food chemist, but I know what each component in baking a cookie is supposed to do. What I did was read the box to see what the dry ingredients contained and then looked up a recipe where the contents might have been similar.

It worked.

I found the recipe for Empire Cookies in a magazine I “liberated’ from my mothers house in Canada.  The cookie portion mixes up pretty easily. It’s not a very moist cookie, and I think I will still change the butter content on it next time and make it even more brittle.


The Cooling Cookies

The Empire Cookie after being dipped in sugar and filled with jam.

I actually remembered a technique I learned on a cooking show about putting the cookie in-between two sheets of parchment paper when rolling out the dough. Of course, I only remembered this after having the hardest time with the first batch we rolled out sans some parchment paper. It all got stuck to the counter and it was a mess. When we used the parchment, it was like seeing ray of light beam through on a cloudy day. The cookies were so much easier to roll out and get thin, not to mention getting them off the darn flat surface without breaking the delicate dough became a much more do-able process.


The Empire Cookie Dipped and filled

The Empire cookie dipped and filled


I had most of everything in my pantry.The recipe asks for almond extract, but it said that vanilla extract could be used and that is what I did. It also called for a candied cherry to be placed on top. As cute as this looks, that is just one thing that I don’t keep on hand. Looking at the cookies they did look somewhat barren on the top. I had red sprinkles I used to sub for the cherry and then Sarah asked it I had some coconut! I thought that was a great idea and I did indeed have some unsweetened coconut in stock.


The Empire Cookies

The Empire cookies are topped with a dot of colored sugar and unsweetened coconut

Was very happy with the outcome of this cookie. There is a lot that you can do design wise. It’s a nice crunchity cookie. Makes you feel like a cookie monster with it’s brittle crusty batter. Even with the icing on top it’s not all that sweet. I was thinking it was going to be really overpowering, but I think the tartness of jam, and that the cookie only has half a cup of sugar, makes it all come together really nicely.



The Empire cookies

The recipe I used for the cookie is as follows:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter(1 stick)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar ( I am going to try castors sugar next time)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup any fruit jam


  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 4 tsp hot/boiling water


  • Colored Sugar
  • or Unsweetened Coconut ( I think that the coconut might be better baked until lightly brown)

Bake in a 350° oven until edges are brown. It was about 12 minutes in my oven. They are very brittle, so be care when removing from sheet.



Empanadas kind of look like footballs, right?

9 Feb

So where I was going with this food project was from the thought that American footballs and empanadas kind of  have a resemblance. I had a blast making them. It is possible that  I wont wait as long as I did to get up and get them going in the oven, but I make no promises. They took more than a bit of time to prepare.

I chose to  make two tastes:

Taste one: Beef Empanadas

I followed to recipe in The Joy of Cooking for reference and amounts. I changed some of the seasoning up bit adding cumin and I used fresh thyme instead of dried. My roommates woke up to a simmering pan of bliss in the kitchen.


For the second taste: Potato and Pepper Curry

I had an idea to make a vegetarian option for people. I figured I had the time and the ingredients also I had been meaning to challenge myself to making vegetarian dishes. I am sorry but I didn’t write this recipe down. I played a lot by ear.
I knew how much to make with meat and so I tied to make sure the outcome would work same volume of vegetable.
I followed the Joy of Cooking recipe only I replaced the pound of meat with:

one extra cup of potatoes
3 medium Bell Peppers (Green, Yellow, Red)
1/8 cup of Black olives (used them for texture and color contrast, I also like the way they taste with peppers)
1/8 cup of Green pitted olives.
Curry flavors as you wish to mix.


I let them cool off and then stuffed them into pie crust. They I was unsure about the outcome. I had been tasting the filling and I didn’t think it was going to have the “Yum” impact that I wanted it to have. I could not have been more wrong. Hot out of the oven I busted into one of the meat ones and yum-pact was shocking!
There is something about pie encased foods. The empanadas smelled amazing and my one wish is that everyone could have had them fresh out of the oven.

The empty plate, where a pile or appetizer size once rested, was my joyful site for me at the end of the night. Thank you everyone for your praises and encouragement!

*Thanks Lizzy-cakes for the used of your iPhone photos!