Tuesday, November 6, 2007


This is not super-traditional sushi, but I think its pretty close and it tastes pretty good. The “filling” ingredients can vary, and you can mix and match to create different rolls. This makes enough for 6 rolls, enough for 2 hungry sushi lovers (I do not use raw fish). Sushi is one of my all time favorite foods! (and that is why i learned to make it like 7 years ago)

500 gr Sushi rice (I’ve used “regular” rice with mixed results. I guess the main thing is that it should NOT pre-boiled or fast-cooking)
6 Nori (seaweed sheets)

1/2 cup rice vinegar (white vinegar works too)
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt

cucumber strips (peeled, seeded cucumber)
surimi stcks (imitation crab sticks)
avocado slices
smoked salmon slices
egg omelet (cut in strips)
cream cheese
Also try: Shrimp, crabmeat, fish (cooked), spinach leaves (blanched), carrot strips, sesame seeds, tuna (canned tuna mixed with cream cheese)

-to cook the rice (1 part rice, 2 parts water): Bring to boil, cover and simmer for 10 mins, turn off stove and let it rest for 15 mins.
-prepare all your filling ingredients (cut into strips about the length of a nori sheet)
-mix vinegar+sugar+salt
-fold in vinegar mix into rice carefully, you don’t want rice mush. Combine in a folding motion until rice is somewhat cooled.
-place your nori sheet on the bamboo rolling mat (or just a flat surface and use your hands to roll carefully), short side toward you, shiny side down.
-place a ball of rice about the size of a baseball in the center of the nori.
-moisten your fingers and spread the rice evenly on the bottom 3/4 of the nori
-now the roll is ready to be filled. I usually spread a thin layer of cream cheese on all my rolls, and then add the veggies and surimi.
-roll the nori carefully, keeping all the filling inside, but making sure its as tight as possible.
-Cut the rolls in 8 pcs with a sharp knife, wiping the knife after each cut.
-serve with wasabi (the green paste), and soy sauce.

For fried rolls:
Before cutting the roll, dip it in egg, roll it around in a mix of breadcrumbs and planko (Japanese breadcrumbs), fry until golden brown.
You can also fry the surimi and the shrimp this was before making the roll.

-If you don’t like nori, or are allergic to it, try using a big lettuce leaf (that has been blanched to make it pliable).
-To make the “inside-out” roll, use plastic wrap to cover your mat, and turn the nori over after spreading the rice to put the filling in the nori side of the sheet. (try sprinkling a bit of sesame seeds on the rice side)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


These are not like Mexican “street” churros, and are more like soft “doughnut sticks”, but they are yummy and fast and easy to make for a quick sugar/flour craving!
Churros in Mexico are sometimes filled with cajeta (caramel) or strawberry jelly, but these are perfect with just the sugar/cinnamon sprinkle. Best if enjoyed warm.

1 c. water
2 tbs. Brown sugar (regular sugar works)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 c. butter
1 c. flour
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Separately mix:
1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon (or more!)

-Heat oil for frying (on a steady 7)
-mix eggs and vanilla. Set aside.
-Heat water, brown sugar, salt and butter until it boils.
-Remove from heat and add flour. Stir well.
-Add egg/vanilla mixture to dough. Stir well. (this is a workout!)
-Place the “batter” in a piping bag with a star tip. I just used a ziplock bag and cut off the corner. (its got to be a sturdy bag, or it will “explode” when you try to squeeze it)
-Pipe the batter into the hot oil in 4” pieces, and fry until golden brown.
-Sprinkle the HOT churros with the Sugar/cinnamon powder GENEROUSLY!
-enjoy with a cup of hot chocolate.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

General Tso's Chicken

EDITED October 30, 2008:
I found another recipe for this that is even better! The cornstarch on this one did not make the sauce as "caramel-ly" as it should be. I will be posting that soon!

General Tso’s Chicken (my style!)
It is not as sweet and crispy as the restaurant style, but it is yummy good. The sauce will turn very thick when it cools, so make sure you eat it right away, add water if you reheat, or even better, don’t have any leftovers!

1/2 c. cornstarch
1/4 c. water
2 tsp. minced garlic (or powder)
1 1/2 tsp. minced ginger (or powder)
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. white vinegar
1/4 c. cooking wine
1 1/2 c. chicken broth (or 1 cube buillon + water)
5-8 small hot red chili peppers (dried or fresh), cut in half
1 c. sliced green onions

3 lb. Chicken breast in pcs.
1/4 c. soy sauce
1 tsp pepper
1 egg
1 c. cornstarch

-Mix all sauce ingredients except peppers and onions. Set aside.
-Mix chicken + soy sauce + pepper + egg+ cornstarch. Stir well until chicken is evenly coated.
-deep fry chicken pcs until crispy brown*. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
-On a pan with hot oil (about 3 tbsp.), stir fry the peppers and onions for a minute. (reserve some onions for garnish)
-add the sauce mixture (make sure the ingredients all well stirred).
-Stir sauce until it thickens (it gets darker too)
-add chicken pcs.
-Garnish with sliced green onions on top. Serve over white rice.

*you can skip the fried chicken part if you want to be somewhat healthier. Just cook the seasoned chicken on a pan with a bit of oil until done.

Monday, August 27, 2007

No-eggs tiramisu

No-eggs Tiramisu
This great Italian classic is super easy to make, and it’s sure to impress your guests. The original version is a bit more complicated and contains raw eggs. This is adapted from a Rachel Ray recipe, and it’s easy and delicious! Make it in martini or wine glasses for a fancy look, decorate with chocolate shavings.

For 3 servings (3 wine glasses)
-25 Lady fingers*
-1/2 cup Coffee liqueur (Kahlua, or make your own!) (you can omit for kids)
-1/2 cup really strong coffee
-250 gr. Mascarpone (similar to cream cheese)
-cocoa powder
-1/2 cup (or less) confectioner’s sugar

-Mix the mascarpone and confectioner’s sugar until creamy **
-in a shallow bowl, combine coffee and liqueur
-have your ingredients ready to assemble
-quickly dip ladyfingers (one at a time, right before using) in coffee mixture, and layer them on your pan (in my case, a wine glass). Layer soaked ladyfinger, mascarpone, a sprinkle of cocoa powder, and repeat. (soak, layer, mascarpone, chocolate, soak….)
-Make it about 5 or 6 layers tall, and finish with a generous sprinkle of chocolate
-Chill for at least 30 mins, preferably a couple of hours.
-Garnish with chocolate shavings

*vanilla wafers or sliced pound cake could work
** Try adding whipped cream to the mascarpone mix for a fluffier texture.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken
This is a “tribute” to our all-time favorite dish from Shanti Restaurant in Bloomington IN. I must say that it does not look like the “original” (the original was creamier), but it tastes very good! I somewhat followed the recipe on the box of the masala, but I altered it a bit.
I hope you like it! (the trick is to find the masala, otherwise it’s a lot of spices to mix together!)

(edited sept 19th to add the following comment: If you think all that butter and cream is just too much, try using plain low-fat yoghurt instead of cream, and leave out the butter. I tried it and it is just as yummy, without the guilt)

Served with steamed rice (basmati) and/or with buttery parathas

1 tomato (diced)
1/4 onion (diced)
50 gr butter
100 gr almond powder*
2 tbsp tomato paste
90 gr cream (25% fat)
2 1/2 tbsp Butter Chicken Masala
250 gr Chicken breast in pcs.

Sautee tomato + onion. Puree with 1/2 c. water and tomato paste.
Cook chicken on the same pan (season with salt + pepper)
Add the tomato/onion mix + 1c water + almond powder
Let simmer a bit
Add Masala, cream, and butter
Let simmera bit
Taste and adjust seasonings (more masala if you like it spicier, more cream/butter for a creamier taste…)

*I think you could substitute with almond butter also, to make it creamier, but I haven’t tried.
Edited October 30, 2008:
I have managed to make this recipe with NO butter, and plain yoghurt instead of cream. Also in a hurry i skip the tomato/onion part and just use tomato paste and onion powder. It still comes out great!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Tortillas de Harina / Flour tortillas

Tortillas de Harina
Flour Tortillas (wheat)
(this are NOT to be confused with CORN tortillas. Corn tortillas are made with MASECA, this are made with plain wheat flour, or you can use whole wheat also. Flour tortillas are rolled with a rolling pin, NOT pressed with a tortilla press)

These tortillas are great for quesadillas or burritos (I guess you could even do “wraps” with them, as long as you use them warm, otherwise they’re not very flexible). They are moist and buttery, and even if they don’t come out perfectly round (mine never do!), you can wow your friends and family! They are not as good as my mom’s, but they’re pretty close.
UPDATE!(july 2012). I wrote this post 5 years ago. We had recently moved to Switzerland (still here), and I was trying to a)do something with my time (now I have an almost 4 year old to keep me busy), b)bring some familiarity back to my life, it was overwhelming to be in a new country living a new life.
I pinned this (and a couple other posts) on pinterest, just trying it out, and I am super surprised to see how many visits it brought. I will read the comments and try to update the recipe to answer questions. Thanks!

revisions/comments in red

(makes about 35 tortillas about 6 inches in diameter)

1 kilogram of Flour (all purpose OR whole wheat) + 1 cup for rolling surface (=2.2 lbs, OR 8 cups)
1 1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used oil because it was easy to find in a Swiss supermarket. I had just arrived to Switzerland and I did not know the language or the products. Please feel free to use vegetable lard. Lard is actually the "traditional" ingredient) (Also, I've had good results using less oil/lard, so feel free to experiment)
1 tbsp. Baking powder
2 tbsp. Salt (or less)
1 1/2 cup warm water (as hot as you can handle to mix with your hands)

  • Mix your dry ingredients
  • Make a “hole” in the middle of your “mountain” of flour.
  • Add oil (or melted vegetable lard) and water and start mixing .
  • When the dough is firm enough to handle, knead it a bit on a flat surface.
  • “break” pieces off the dough (about the size of a golf ball) by squeezing it with your thumb and index finger (like you’re choking it :))
  • Make several round balls (called “testales”), and place them on a floured surface (cookie sheet works great).
  • Let the testales rest for about 30 mins. covered with a damp towel. (comments say 1 hour works best, I will try that, although it's just too long for me to wait :)
  • Place a testal on a floured surface. Flour your rolling pin and roll. Whatever technique you use for rolling… just spread them enough so they are bout 6 inches in diameter. (do not try a tortilla press for flour tortillas :)  It just doesn't work)
  • Cook your tortillas on a “comal”, flat griddle or skillet at medium heat (mine was on 6 on an electric stove). You don’t need to oil the skillet (there’s enough oil in there). 
  • Just like with pancakes, the 1st one is never good, but the rest are delicious.
  • You can pile up the uncooked tortillas, they won’t stick. (but not more than 5, and keep them far from the hot stove, otherwise they DO stick together)
  • My process is usually: flatten, place in comal, flatten another one, turn the one in the comal, flatten another one, remove the one from the comal and repeat!
  • It takes about 1 minute to cook on the 1st side (you will see some bubbles appear on the surface, this is normal), then you turn and press with it down with a flat turner to make a bubble again it takes about 30 seconds on the second side. Do not overcook or they will turn hard like cookies. delicious cookies, but not good for burritos. 

Eat them warm with butter, avocado, queso, or refired beans, but to freeze or refrigerate, make sure you cool them spread out on a flat surface before bagging them.

(on the photos I had henna in my hands… they’re not dirty! Hehe)

thanks to all those who have taken the time to comment and give tips and feedback! I don't know why I cannot reply on each of your comments individually... but I read them and I appreciate them!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Tacos al pastor

Updated October 30, 2008:
This recipe has attracted a lot of readers to this blog. I was surprised to see the numbers!! Thanks to all who read it, and please feel free to post a comment.
Since i posted this recipe, i started making big batches of the sauce and freezing it for weeks with no problems.

Tacos al pastor (also known as Tacos de Trompo)
These tacos are traditionally cooked in a kebab-like vertical rotisserie with a pineapple on top. You can also make quesadillas (with soft flour tortillas) and add some of the meat and make what is known as a “Gringa”.
Enough for 15-20 tacos (enough for 3 or 4 people)

let me know if you try this! its super easy and SUPER good!

5 Pasilla chiles
5 Guajillo chiles
4-6 cloves of garlic
1 cup white vinegar
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt

15-20 soft corn tortillas
1 kg pork meat (boneless, cut into 1/2 in. pcs)

Garnish + serve
Pineapple (fresh or canned)
Finely chopped onion
Coarsely shopped cilantro

1- Gather ingredients (notice the chiles are dried, and can be found in any Mexican grocery shop)
2- Clean the chiles: remove stem, cut open and remove seeds and veins.
3- Boil chiles + vinegar + a bit of water (about 1/2 c) until soft (about 15 mins). WARNING: eyes will water, and you’ll get the sniffles with the chile/vinegar fumes, so work in a well ventilated kitchen.
4- Blend chiles (with liquid), garlic, cumin and salt
5- Strain chile blend and cook again for about 5 minutes (it will bubble and jump and if you get it on your skin, it burns!)
6- Let the mix cool and marinate pork meat for at least 4 hours (6-8 is best). Use a plastic bag or a glass container, the chile will stain plastic!
7- Add a bit of oil to the skillet and cook the meat (marinade and all). The juices will reduce, and the flavor will concentrate. Do not cover, but I do recommend you use one of those mesh covers for oil splatters, because this stuff jumps!
8- Remove the meat from the skillet and keep warm. In the same skillet, sautee the pineapple until it caramelizes a bit.
9- Warm tortillas in a skillet (or comal). Serve tacos with onion, pineapple and cilantro on top. (photo is sasn-cilantro because I don’t like it). Add salsa* (optional) and lime juice right before eating.

*”Salsa Taquera” is good to use, also available at Mexican food stores. (please don’t use any of that chunky el paso salsa for this!!)