Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Roasted Sage-Rubbed Cornish Hen with Cranberry and Pecan Stuffing

The name Cornish hen, in and of itself is a complete and utter misrepresentation of what the product really is. First of all, it does not originate from the Cornwall region of the United Kingdom (ie. not Cornish) nor is it always a hen (it could be either male or female). It is actually just a regular chicken that is slaughtered at a younger age, hence its smaller size. Yes, that's about as exotic as the young bird gets. It is also often referred to as a poussin. But I digress. We are not here to debate the poultry industry's branding methodology but to really talk about how to roast yourself a delicious bird as an alternative to turkey during Thanksgiving. So, read on.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Blu-ray Releases: The Week of Nov. 29th, 2010 - Disney's Fantasia

After getting through the tryptophan coma on Thanksgiving and surviving the Black Friday melee at the mall, most of us are basically spent, both in terms of energy and cash. The holiday shopping season is officially in full swing and if you've been on Amazon.com, there were plenty of fantastic wallet-busting Blu-ray deals to be had over the weekend. But, you know what? It's not quite over just yet. Today is Cyber Monday and you know what that means......even more deals and more shopping to do! Geez....the fun never stops!

Anyway, while you shop for older and cheaper Blu-ray releases, there are some new ones releasing this week. Not a big blowout week but good enough to highlight some of them. Here we go!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Parsnip Puree (with Braised Short Ribs)

The closest relative to the parsnip is the carrot but it often gets overlooked compared to its more popular orange cousin. Not only does the parsnip's sweetness rivals the carrot's, its starchiness adds a potato-like characteristic to any dish. Flavor-wise, it is like a mild turnip, only sweeter and better. A root vegetable, parsnip can be prepared in many ways. When raw, it can be shredded into a salad or if you like your parsnip cooked, you can roast, boil, braise, steam or sauté. I have found parsnip to be a great compliment to braised short ribs and the best preparation for it is in puree form. Here's the recipe:

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Harry Potter Years 1-6 Giftset (Blu-ray) for $39.99 on Amazon

With the release of the new Harry Potter film and with interest in the franchise at a high, Amazon.com has just come up with a sweet deal for Blu-ray owners. You can now get the Harry Potter Years 1-6 Giftset on Blu-ray for just $39.99. That comes up to less than $7 per movie. On Blu-ray. All 6 Harry Potter movies.

So what are you waiting for? Link here: Harry Potter Years 1-6 Giftset [Blu-ray] or Harry Potter Years 1-6 Giftset on DVD for $23.99.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Blu-ray Releases: The Week of Nov. 22nd, 2010 - Are You Expandable?

Are you going Blu? With the holiday season drawing near, there are plenty of reasons to convert to Blu-ray for your home entertainment. Prices for Blu-ray players are dropping like stones in a pond and the hi-def movies themselves are coming down to DVD-level prices as well. This upcoming Black Friday/Cyber Monday should see record-breaking deals for both Blu-ray hardware and software. In some cases, it is even cheaper to buy the Blu-ray version of a movie. If you are not looking to brave the massive crowds this coming weekend, why not shop online? Amazon.com is already starting their Black Friday sales today (11/22). Just go to their "Black Friday Deals" page. New deals will come online everyday for the rest of the week. Happy shopping!

So what's coming out this week on Blu-ray? Well, headlining this week's release list are the aging-action stars ensemble film The Expendables, the romantic drama, Eat Pray Love and the epic miniseries, The Pillars of the Earth, adapted from Ken Follet's best-selling novel of the same name. There are also a bunch of Lionsgate Blu-ray Legends 2-packs that pairs two action flicks in a single package at a super low price. So, without further ado, here's the list of interesting Blu-ray releases that you should watch out for this week:

Friday, November 19, 2010

Food & Wine Magazine: Now on the iPad

If you don't already know, you can now download an App on iTunes that will put the entire issue of Food & Wine Magazine on your iPad for your reading pleasure. Just go here to iTunes and best of all, it is free!

So Bad, It's Good? Not These 2 Movies

Ever heard of the idiom used on really bad movies? The one that states: "it's so bad, it's good"? This is usually reserved for movies that have become cult classics and heavy on camp. You can even call them guilty pleasures. Perfect examples include the infamous Ed Wood film, Plan 9 from Outer SpaceThe Rocky Horror Picture Show and many of the Grindhouse flicks.

I recently had the (dis)pleasure of reviewing a couple of really bad movies, both of them horror flicks and both them frankly stunk! There is nothing remotely good about these movies and the idiom above is not to be applied in both these cases. The first is titled Altitude and the other is Damned by Dawn. Read on if you dare!

Crunchy Spring Rolls with Spicy Aioli

Suitable as an appetizer or a meal by itself, this crunchy fried spring roll preparation is one of my favorite dishes to make (and to eat, of course). Instead of just keeping it strictly vegetarian, I like add minced shrimp and pork as a filling to give it some great robust flavors. I must admit that this dish can be a little time-consuming but the payoff is great. Here's what you need (makes 10-12 spring rolls):

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Movie Openings: Week of November 19th, 2010 - Deathly Hallows Calling

There is only one single movie that you would want to see this weekend and it's all been building up to this moment. I can't say how excited I am that the first part of the Harry Potter movie finale is finally premiering this week. And knowing what a juggernaut the Harry Potter movie franchise is, there are hardly any other noteworthy movies premiering alongside it. But we'll get to them anyway.

So, here we go!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Blueberry Cheesecake - Not As Hard As You Think

Ahhhh.....the blueberry cheesecake. First of all, I love all things blueberry: muffins, pies, tarts, shortbreads, cobblers, etc. And my favorite cake is of course, cheesecake. Combine them both and I'm in sweet heaven! When you hear cheesecake, you just can't help but think that it is a daunting task to take on. I mean, how can something that tastes so good be easy to make, right? Well, I'm here to refute that notion. It is not only easy, it costs less than $10 in ingredients to make a 9-inch cake.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Roasted Rosemary Chicken with Collard Greens & Garlic Mashed Potatoes

This is one of my favorite chicken preparations and a complete meal on a plate. It is delicious, easy to cook and when paired with collard greens cooked with bacon and garlic-parmesan mashed potatoes drenched with chicken jus, it is simply a great restaurant-quality meal you can have right at home.

Let's start with marinating the chicken. I love crispy chicken skin, so whenever I roast a chicken, I leave the skin on. This also helps to keep the chicken moist with the thin layer of fat just underneath the skin. For the marinade, I use:

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary (chopped)
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme (chopped)
3 cloves garlic (chopped fine)
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

Monday, November 15, 2010

Blu-ray Releases: The Week of Nov. 15th, 2010 - Avatar Redux and 3D Blasts Off

Two headlines dominate this week's Blu-ray releases. First, 2009's biggest movie takes a return trip to Blu-ray (who didn't see that coming?) and second, new 3D technology makes a splashly debut on the home video market. A pretty varied list of Blu-ray releases this week, featuring some exciting debuts and 3D upgrades plus a trio of silent movie classics and even a slew of Sony Blu-ray re-releases (with a lower price). In the coming weeks and months, you will be seeing more and more 3D versions of your favorite movies coming out in droves, in order to support all 5 of you who have actually bought a 3D high-definition TV. There are a lot of stuff to sort through this week, so without further ado, let's get on with it, shall we?

We'll first start with the non-3D releases:

Friday, November 12, 2010

Lemon-Garlic Shrimp with Cheese Ravioli

Ravioli, those miniature pockets of goodness is my favorite type of pasta. My kids love anything to do with pasta (sometimes I think they have Italian blood in them!) and cheese and when you combine both in cheese ravioli, it's like heaven to them. This lemon-garlic shrimp preparation is easy and also my favorite. To add some green to the dish, I use broccoli (sometimes I like grilled asparagus) but any other greens are fine as well. It is easy to make you can have complete meal in about 30 minutes.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Movie Openings: Week of November 12th, 2010

Two major film releases share the highlight for this week's outing. One is a sci-fi alien invasion offering and the other is a more down-to-earth disaster film about a runaway train carrying toxic chemicals. Other releases this week include a romantic comedy, a couple of indie films and a documentary. So, let's get on with it, shall we?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Explosive Spicy Mayo or How I Learned to Love Sriracha

To hear chefs sing praises about it, you would think that sriracha is the second coming of sauces and God forbid, even rivaling the French mother sauces. For those of us who can't pronounce its name (the right pronunciation is sir-rotch-ah), we simply call it "the rooster sauce," after the trademark crowing white rooter on its signature green-capped bottle or just simply "that spicy red sauce." Made by Huy Fong Foods out of Los Angeles, sriracha--and not many people know this--originated right here in the U.S. But its roots cut much closer to the Pacific Rim countries of South-east Asia, where David Tran, the creator of the sauce is from.

I first came across sriracha when I first attended college here in the U.S., staring at me from the shelf of a tiny Asian store in a small town in central Michigan. It piqued my interest because first, I love spicy food, second, the flaming red sauce in the green-capped bottle was eye-catching and third, I've never heard of it before. Growing up in Asia, I thought I knew all my sauces. Indonesian, Vietnamese, Thai, you name it, I've seen or tasted it. But this particular one with a funky name, nope. Then I found out that it was actually invented in the U.S. It tasted a lot like some of the spicy sauces I've had before and I didn't really give much thought to it.

That is until I started working in commercial kitchens. Asian restaurants use it. A lot. Fusion restaurants use it too. A lot. I've even found it in some fine dining restaurants that serve Asian-inspired dishes. Even the famous chef, Jean-Georges Vongerichten has found a use for it. Hint: hollandaise with sriracha. I can see many of you slapping your foreheads and going, "Why didn't I think of that?"

Sriracha, I quickly found out, is very versatile. Its garlicky, spicy and slightly sweet flavors lends itself well when blended with aiolis and other types of sauces like hollandaise. If you love French fries, then this simple spicy mayo recipe is going to be your favorite go-to condiment, I guarantee it.

Mix together:
1/2 cup good quality mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sriracha sauce
1/4 tablespoon sesame oil
1/4 tablespoon honey

Mayonnaise makes a good base for many sauces (aiolis) because it is neutral tasting and creamy, which adds body and richness to the sauce. Mix them all well together and you have yourself a delicious spicy sauce that goes well with all types of fried foods. And if you like spicy tuna sushi, mix this sauce with your tuna. You'll be surprised how good it tastes.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Blu-ray Releases: The Week of Nov. 8th, 2010 - Scott Pilgrim, FIGHT!

After some wallet-chomping weeks of Blu-ray releases, this week, the bank account can take a slight breather. This week's Blu-ray release slate looks pretty thin, with no blockbuster releases to catch your fancy. However, this lack of quality is made up for with quantity. There is something for everyone, from an entertaining video game-like action flick to a highly controversial drama to classic sci-fi comedy to British TV classic updates to music concert releases. There are even a couple of releases for the tween Disney/Nickelodeon set. So, let's get to it, shall we?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Stir-fried Asian-style Collard Greens

Collard greens is a staple vegetable served frequently in Southern U.S. cuisine. It is usually flavored with bacon and or salt pork and can be quite delicious when cooked tender. I've decided to apply a Chinese-style stir-fry technique to the collard green.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Quick Brussels Sprouts: Simple & Delicious

Remember when your mother made you eat your brussels sprouts? Well, I don't! Growing up in Malaysia, these miniature cabbages do not exist, so I was spared this childhood nightmare of consuming them. However, I suffered from having to eat another kind of sprout, the dreaded bean sprouts! But that's a story for another time. Though these little guys have a bad rep, they can be quite delicious, if prepared properly. Brussels sprouts are an autumn/winter vegetable and they are in season right now.

I have a quick and delicious way to prepare them that would please even the most picky eaters and it involves just a couple of extra ingredients other than the sprouts.

Food Network Recipes for Your iPhone & iPad

From Macworld comes this latest report that you can now purchase an App for your iPhone or iPad that features recipes from your favorite celebrity chefs like Paula Deen, Bobby Flay or Guy Fieri. Each recipe comes with step-by-step instructions plus photos. You can also create a customizable shopping list, save your favorite recipes, etc. It only costs $2 and this app should be getting frequent updates to add new seasonal recipes.

Movie Openings: Week of November 5th, 2010

With Halloween in our rear view mirror and most of the horror films out of the way, this week is pretty light on big name movie releases but we have some good and some not so good ones.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Kick-Ass (3-disc Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy) for $12.99 at Amazon

Matching the price at Best Buy, Amazon.com has dropped the price on the funny and entertaining pseudo-superhero film, Kick-Ass to $12.99. This is--I hate to say it--a kick-ass price for a great movie. And it is 3-disc set too: you get the Blu-ray and DVD versions of the film plus a Digital Copy for your mobile devices. A great package for a kick-ass price (sorry, can't help it)!

The Human Centipede - A Movie Review

Darkness comes in many forms. Human suffering and torture is one of the more extreme forms and you wouldn't wish that on anyone. Sometimes, a quick death is preferred to prolonged suffering. And that was how I felt when, on Halloween night, I decided to foolishly ratchet up the nausea level and allow a pretty intense and horrific movie experience to unfold on my TV screen. I purposely saved my viewing of “The Human Centipede” until a special night like Halloween to fully embrace the midnight movie experience. And boy, was it ever an experience!

Monday, November 1, 2010

New England Clam Chowdah!

In the New England area, making good clam chowder is as sacred as cooking a Maine lobster perfectly or watching the hometown Sox beat the Yankees at Fenway Park with an Ortiz walkoff. There are no two ways about it, get it right or don't do it at all. On a cold Fall or Winter's day, there is nothing more comforting than a cup of hot steaming chowder.