Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Lumpia with Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce

For years Mr. T. has been wanting me to try Lumpia.  So when the opportunity came to make this appetizer it was easy to say, "Yes!"  But, what is Lumpia?  Simply put, it is a Filipino Eggroll.

I was a little nervous about wrapping them as I had a few coaches who kept telling me that it was difficult....but I didn't find that to be the case.  I did a little research and it was suggested that the filling be cool to cold before wrapping.  I think that was the trick.  It was easy to mold the filling and wrap it tightly in the Lumpia Wrappers.

We were please with the way that they turned out and Mr. T. loved the Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce.

Lumpia with Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 pound ground pork
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
1/2 cup shredded cabbage
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1 Tbsp soy sauce
30 Lumpia Wrappers
1 egg, beaten

Heat 1 Tbsp of vegetable oil in a large skillet.  Add the ground pork.  Cook, stirring frequently until the pork is done.  Use a fork to break the pork up as fine as possible.

Remove the pork from the pan, draining off all but a tablespoon of the fat.  Let the pork cool while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

In the same pan, cook the onion and garlic until soft, about 2-3 minutes.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and add in the carrots and cabbage.  Stir for about a minute.

Add the green onions, soy sauce and cooked ground pork.  Cook for about 1 minute.  Remove the pan from the heat and set aside until the mixture is cool enough to handle.  (I allowed the mixture to become cold before wrapping.)

Lightly mix an egg in a small bowl to use as a wash which will seal the rolled lumpia.

Lay one lumpia wrapper in front of you in a diamond shape, (with a point toward you.)  Take two tablespoons of the mixture and place it across the bottom 1/3 of the wrapper. (I formed the 2 tablespoons of mixture into a cylinder.)

Fold the bottom of the wrapper up and over the mixture.  Roll it once away from you.  Fold each side in to make an envelope shape.  Roll it up, keeping it as tight as possible.

Brush a small amount of the egg wash on the edge of the wrapper and seal the lumpia closed.  Place your lumpia rolls on a plate covered with a very lightly dampened towel until all of the lumpia are rolled.

Put two cups of vegetable oil in a heavy duty skillet.  It should be 1/2" deep.  Heat to approximately 375° F.  This will take about 5 minutes over medium heat.

Place 3-4 lumpia in the pan and cook them about 1-3 minutes or until golden brown.  If too many lumpia are in the pan at the same time, they will not fry properly.  Turn the lumpia to assure that they brown evenly.

Dipping Sauce

1/2 small green bell pepper, seeded and minced
1 cup vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp cooking oil
2 Tbsp ketchup

In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and water.  Stir until the mixture is smooth.

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the bell pepper and cook, stirring regularly until softened.  Add the vinegar, sugar, salt and ketchup and cook, whisking regularly, until the sugar and salt are completely dissolved and the mixture is well-blended.  Bring to a boil.  While whisking continuously, add the cornstarch mixture and continue to cook until the sauce thickens.

Tips:  If you are unable to find Lumpia Wrappers get the thinnest Spring Roll Wrapper you can find. Lumpia Wrappers are very thin.  The regular Spring Roll Wrappers with not work well.

Lumpia freeze well so it is very easy to make a batch and have some tucked away in the freezer for company!

A Vinegar-Garlic Dipping Sauce is nice, also.  It is made with 2 cloves garlic, finely minced, 1/2 cup white vinegar and 1/4 cup soy sauce mixed together.  This may be kept in the refrigerator but should be brought to room temperature before serving.  (I think this sauce is my preferred sauce....Mr. T. liked the sweet and sour....)


I wish I had more pictures of wrapping the lumpia but when I noticed the time, I had to move along or we would be late....and the person bringing the appetizer cannot be late!!

I intend to make another batch and freeze some for unexpected company....or for those evenings when we are having an appetizer dinner!

I am sharing at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage and Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Maple-Roasted Carrots

I love carrots.   I have loved them since I was a little girl and my uncle promised me that my eyes would turn blue if I ate my carrots.  I have been waiting a good long time to have blue eyes.  It has yet to happen....but my love of carrots grew.  That said, it only seemed logical that I share my love with you.

I was searching for an easy side dish and saw a picture of the cutest little baby carrots....I loved the adorable little guys with the bit of top attached....they had been glazed and roasted...I was sold...  Sadly, there were no baby carrots to be found...but I did find some red, purple, yellow, orange and white carrots that would work just fine.

These sweet, tender carrots were glazed with maple syrup, olive oil and a bit of bourbon (which is optional) and sprinkled with cayenne and sea salt....they were so tasty that I know I could have made a whole meal of them.  This will definitely be a recipe that I will continue to make....the problem I had was that I didn't anticipate how popular they would be and should have roasted more!

Maple-Roasted Carrots
adapted from Fine Cooking, Issue 119

3 lbs. baby carrots, with green tops, peeled and trimmed or a variety of carrots cut into two-inch logs, split in half
1/3  cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbs. good quality bourbon, I used Maker's Mark (optional)
1/8 tsp cayenne
Sea salt
Chopped parsley for garnish

Preheat oven:  425° F. Position the rack in the upper third of the oven.

Spread the carrots in a single  layer of a baking sheet.  Combine the maple syrup, oil, and bourbon (if desired) in a measuring cup.

Drizzle the syrup mixture over the carrots and sprinkle with the cayenne and 2 tsp salt.  Toss the carrots to coat them evenly.

Roast the carrots, undisturbed, for 15 minutes.  Toss and continue to roast until fork-tender, about 20 minutes.  Transfer to a platter and serve.  (Times will vary dependent upon the diameter of the carrots.)

The carrots can be made an hour ahead and kept at room temperature on the baking sheet.  Reheat them in the oven or serve at room temperature.

Serve the carrots sprinkled with chopped parsley.


I am not certain if a person can eat too many carrots....I do believe I am getting close..
I know you won't be able to eat just one helping...and if you don't already have blue eyes...keep looking in the mirror to see what happens.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Triple Chocolate Peppermint Cookies - Cookie Carnival!

Baking and cold weather seem to go together.  As a child remember that we always baked cookies on a rainy day....I loved doing that...the warmth from the oven, the wonderful smells from the kitchen wafting through the house, and, most importantly to me, the sound of rain pitter-pattering on the roof and splashing against the windows.  It made cookie baking a warm and cozy activity.

Today, if I wait for rain, we would never eat cookies.  Rain is always promised but a few drops here and there aren't quite what I grew up enjoying!  That is why I thought participating in a Secret Recipe Club Cookie Carnival for the holidays would be fun, regardless of the weather, we would have cookies!

Aren't they pretty?  I just love the sparkle of the sanding sugar.  Rolling the cookies in sanding sugar was actually an afterthought on my part and I must say it was a good thought!  What could be better than triple chocolate, peppermint kisses and sparkles!!?

These Triple Chocolate Peppermint Cookies were inspired by a recipe posted by Wendy at The Weekend Gourmet.  Wendy is a Texas girl who loves to cook and travel....not only does she post recipes, but she has numerous product spotlights featured, as well as regional restaurant features and travelogues.  

I was tempted to make her Chocolate Vanilla Bean Meringue Cookies  but decided that chocolate was in the pantry, and so.....while, Wendy went for the peppermint bang in her chocolate cookie recipe...after thinking about it, I decided to go for the chocolate with a hint of peppermint.  Thank you for the inspiration, Wendy.  And, I must fess up....I made a few adjustments along the way, one being that I omitted the Crisco that Wendy used....(it isn't something that I have on-hand).

Mr. T and the neighbors have attested to how tasty these cookies are...I will definitely make them again...do I have to wait until next year?

Triple Chocolate Peppermint Cookies
inspired by The Weekend Gourmet and Hershey's

48 Hershey's Kisses Brand Candy Cane Mint Candies
1 stick butter, softened (1/2 cup)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 Tbsp milk
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1/4 cup white sanding sugar

Yield:  About 48 cookies

Preheat oven:  350° F.

Prepare the baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper.

Remove the wrappers from the Candy Cane Mint Candies.  Place the candies in a bowl and set aside.

Place the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla in the mixing bowl and beat well.  Add the eggs and milk and beat well.

Stir together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.  Add the flour mixture gradually to the butter mixture.  Beat until well blended.  Stir in the mini chocolate chips.  

Shape the dough into 1-inch balls.  Roll the balls in the sanding sugar.  Place the balls on the parchment lined baking sheets.

Bake the sheet for 10 to 11 minutes or until set.  Remove from the oven and gently press the candy cane mint kiss in the center of each cookie.  Remove the cookies from the baking sheet to a wire rack to cool completely.  

We really enjoyed these cookies.  They had a soft and chewy texture....and it was really difficult to just eat one....

Hope you enjoy the Cookie Carnival!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Gramercy Tavern Gingerbread...This is the absolute best!!

As I mentioned in the last post, this is the year for gingerbread.  I have been on a quest for the gingerbread (of my dreams) recipe!  I love a dark, moist, sticky, spicy, chewy gingerbread....and this is just what I dreamed of...

While the previous Gingerbread was good, the Gramercy Tavern Gingerbread from Chef Claudia Fleming, is the one...just what I envisioned a "real" gingerbread should taste like.  Even better is that the flavor improves as it ages.  It can be kept for up to three days covered at room temperature.

Once again, I wanted individual servings so I baked the gingerbread in my mini bundt pan.  The only issue that I came across was that during baking the gingerbread sunk.  I had thought it was due to too much air in the batter as I did not whisk as the recipe said...I used the mixer. But, it could be related to the baking powder...it didn't matter, as I a bundt cake is turned over and it doesn't show.  "smile"

I intend to make the recipe again in two weeks to serve as a birthday cake.   I can hardly wait.

Gramercy Tavern Gingerbread
Chef Claudia Fleming

1 cup oatmeal stout or Guinness Stout
1 cup dark molasses (not blackstrap)
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of cardamom
3 large eggs
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup oil
Confectioner's sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Generously butter/flour a 10-12 cup bundt pan, knocking out excess flour.

In a large saucepan, bring Stout and molasses to a boil and remove from heat.  Whisk in the baking soda, then cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and spices.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugars.  Whisk in the oil until blended, then mix in the molasses mixture.  Add the wet mixture to the flour mixture and whisk until just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan.  Rap the pan sharply on the counter to eliminate air bubbles.

Bake the cake in the middle of the oven until the tester comes out with just a few moist crumbs, about 45-50 minutes.  Cool the cake on a rack for 5 minutes; then turn it out on the rack to cool completely. Serve the cake dusted with confectioner's sugar or with whipped cream.


This is the gingerbread of my dreams...so delicious.  I think the the stout adds a very nice dimension and depth of flavor to the cake....

I am sharing this week at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage and Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Gingerbread Trees and Men

December brings out the baker in me.  There isn't any other time of year that beckons one to spend so much time in the kitchen preparing wonderful confections.  The abundance of sweet treats this time of year can be overwhelming....candies, cookies, cakes, pies, puddings, tarts....you name it and it appears.

This year I am focused on making a good gingerbread.  Being curious about the origin of gingerbread, I did a little research and learned that there is a lot of information about gingerbread and its medicinal uses, its use in affairs of the heart and as a treat!    It wasn't until the 15th century that Gingerbread, as we know it, began to appear....breads, cookies, or houses flavored with ginger, honey, molasses and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom and anise.  Gingerbread was also a favorite treat at festivals and fairs in Medieval Europe. It is even said that Elizabeth I had gingerbread cookies baked in the likeness of visiting dignitaries!  Can you imagine....?

Each year, I seem to add another gingerbread recipe to the file but I never seemed to make it....until now.  This is the year!  I was swayed to do it when I saw some adorable Gingerbread Trees while visiting Marsha's blog, The Harried Cook.  Swayed?  I should say, sold!  Of course, this meant that I had to buy a new pan...one cannot make adorable little Gingerbread Trees without the right pan....and, the pan I found had both trees and men therefore, I made Gingerbread Trees and Men! Fun times in the kitchen!!

As you have guessed, it is time for The Secret Recipe Club post.  Being assigned Marsha's blog has been fun...  Marsha had been scribbling recipes on pieces of paper, napkins, notebooks, textbooks, mobile phone memos and attests to losing most of them which is why she began blogging. The blog assures that there is a recipe legacy for her daughters.  As is evidenced by her blog, Marsha does love to bake and December is the month for baking...so, needless to say, I found a variety of recipes from which to choose.   I had debated about baking her Chocolate Cupcakes with Whipped Ganache Frosting (and I may still make them....) but gingerbread was beckoning today.

Gingerbread Trees and Men
adapted from The Harried Cook and Martha Stewart, Cakes

Yield:  8 molded cakes or 1 loaf cake
Grease the mold or pan with butter.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
Confectioner's sugar for dusting
Sprinkles for decoration

Preheat oven:  350° F.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and spices.  Set aside.

In the mixer bowl, cream the softened butter with the sugars until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each egg before adding the next.  Add the vanilla and mix into the mixture.

With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture and stir until just incorporated.  Do not over-mix the batter.

Pour into the prepared pan or mold. Smooth the top using an offset spatula.

Bake until the tester comes out clean, about 45-50 minutes for the loaf or if using the molds, bake for about 18-20 minutes.  Allow the pan to cool for about 10 minutes and then turn the cakes out onto a plate.  Allow to cool completely before dusting with confectioner's sugar.


These cute little guys were a treat that I served at a recent meeting...they were a hit!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Creamy Ham and Potato Cheese Soup

Hustle and bustle, cold, brisk breezes, parades, shopping and getting home too late to think about cooking? For me it was recovering from the flu so I decided to take the easy route for dinner....soup!

I smiled as I realized I had everything on hand to make this creamy, cheesy soup...and I love Gruyère cheese so dinner was easily decided.

Ham and Potato Cheese Soup
adapted from Pacific Fresh

Yield:  about 6 cups

2 Tbsp butter
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1 cup cubed baked ham
1/2-3/4 tsp dried thyme, crumbled
3 large potatoes, sliced
3 cups chicken broth or stock
1 cup grated Gruyère cheese
1/4 cup whole milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the ham, then add in the thyme, potatoes, and broth.  Cover and simmer until potatoes are very tender, about 20 minutes.  Potatoes should be broken up and slightly mushy.

Add the cheese and milk and stir until the cheese melts and the soup is heated to serving temperature.  Season with salt and pepper.  Keep warm over low heat.  Ladle into bowls, garnish with parsley and serve immediately with crusty bread.


We loved this soup...how long does one have to wait to make it again?  Mmmmm....

I am sharing at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage and Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm.