Cantonese Style Spicy Clam Vermicelli Noodles

Happy Chinese New Year! Today is not only Australia Day but also Chinese New Year. Luckily we got the day off so I can experiment with some Chinese cooking. Usually we do Chinese New Year dinner with family at some big seafood restaurant but this year we’re kind of on our own. So to keep in the usual seafood theme, I made a Cantonese style clam & shrimp dish on top of fried vermicelli rice noodles. This is my ode to Chinese cooking, which I normally say I don’t do that well since my mother is so much better at it. This dish takes a bit of prep and a quite a few steps but it’s totally worth it!

And since it’s a bit long, you’ll have to read the details after the jump!

Continue reading ‘Cantonese Style Spicy Clam & Shrimp Vermicelli Noodles’


Scottish Scones

So over this Australia Day weekend my friend Em and I decided to make some impromptu scones when one of the boys said “I’ve been craving scones for weeks!” Random, I know, but it ended up being a great snack/dinner since we had a variety of jams to choose from. It also went along with my explanation of “high tea” to one of the boys. It’s always nice to be able to show and tell! I’m not quite sure where we ended up with this recipe but luckily I saved the post-it notes we wrote it down on.

These are more of the English/Scottish type of scone, not so buttery and flaky, more bready but goes well with different types of jam. Hope you like it!

2 3/4 cup of self-raising pastry flour
1 tablespoon white sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup of milk
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 egg

preheat oven to 425°F or 220°C

Step 1: Mix & Whisk
In a big mixing bowl mix together all the dry ingredients: flour, sugar and baking powder. In a separate bowl whisk together the egg, milk and vegetable oil. Whisk for about a minute or so until mixture is a little bubbly but not whipped! Slowly fold in the wet ingredients with the dry. Don’t mix too much, just enough to get the ingredients together.

Step 2: Knead & Roll
Put the lightly mixed dough on a floured surface and knead for about a minute, just to get everything mixed together. With a rolling pin, roll out the dough evenly to about 1-inch thick. Use a cookie cutter around 3-4 inches wide, or any funky shape if you want. Make sure whatever shape you choose has enough space in the middle to spread a good amount of jam! Place cut outs on a baking tray and bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown on top.

Serve warm with jam and heavy whipped cream!

World's Best Guacamole
I know it’s a bold statement, “World’s Best Guacamole”. BUT, if there’s so many places that claim to have the world’s best pizza and world’s best chili burger and world’s best coffee… why can’t I? Actually, it’s probably not the world’s best guacamole – it’s just a damn good traditional guac. And I named it “world’s best” because of Nigella Lawson. I am not a fan. She doesn’t show me anything  common sense doesn’t already teach me. Anyway, I was watching her show (I know, I torture myself) and she was doing a “latin” theme. She made a guacamole but put the most disgusting things in it… like blue cheese. Why would you ruin such a fabulous dip like that?! So, I’ve decided the world needs to know how to make a real guacamole. And I’ve had a lot of friends ask about the recipe. Rant over, recipe begins:

2 ripe hass avocados (you’ll know it is ripe by pressing down around the stem, soft = good to go!)
1 tomato – diced
1 yellow or red onion – diced (I prefer yellow, but for a milder onion crunch, go with red)
1 handful of cilantro – finely chopped
2 green onion stalks – chopped thin
1 jalapeño – diced (You can remove the seeds if you don’t want it too spicy)
1 lemon
pinch of cayenne pepper
fresh ground pepper
splash of habañero hot sauce
sea salt
garlic salt

1/2 red bell pepper (aka capsicum) – diced
1/2 a cucumber – diced

Step 1: Chop chop
In a large bowl, throw in all your chopped ingredients. Chopped onions, jalapeño, cilantro, tomato, green onion and optional red bell pepper and cucumber. The red pepper and cucumber adds a really nice crunch to the guac, I generally like to add a little bit of each to give it a different texture. Traditionally, it’s without. Okay, now season this mixture with fresh ground pepper and sea salt. Mix it all up and now we’re ready for the avocados.

Step 2: Scoop
Now cut the avocado in half, take out the pit and scoop in the yummy inside into the bowl. Save the pits! We’ll need them later. Do this to the 2 avocados and then squeeze the juice of an entire lemon all over it. This will help it from turning brown! Now add in the spicy parts. Splash of habañero if you like spice. Dash of cayenne pepper – to your liking – I like spice so I’m usually generous. Sprinkle some garlic salt and fresh ground pepper over the avocados.

Step 3: Smash & serve
Now take a fork and smash up the avocado against the walls of the bowl while mixing in the other ingredients on the bottom. You don’t need to go crazy, just enough to get the avocado mixed in with the other ingredients. You’re not making a puree so don’t over mix! Chunky is good! Now stick the two avocado pits in the bowl and that will help it from browning as well. Throw some chips in a bowl and you’re ready to serve!

When storing guacamole, make sure your saran wrap (cling wrap) is touching the actual guacamole and not letting any air in. This will keep it nice and fresh! You can also squeeze lemon juice all over the top layer before doing that but it will change the flavor of your left over guac – just a bit more lemony.

Apologies for the funky stuff going on around the site. I’ve finally gotten around to merging VANILLA LATTE with “another one of these”. Originally, I had started this blog as just a rant space but it’s since turned into my food and travel blog. And it only makes sense for this to be VANILLA LATTE, I finally made the merge. I’ve deleted irrelevant posts and I’m just cleaning up some random tidbits around the site.

Look forward to a new design coming soon – really this time, I’ve been working on it! And another recipe post coming soon!

Thanks for the continued support!

xox – Maggie

chicken cordon bleu

So it’s day one of 2009. I thought I’d try something a little different and somewhat complicated. Well, it wasn’t as bad as I thought, in fact it was really easy! Okay so this is more like my version of chicken cordon bleu because of the lack of ingredients in the fridge. Traditionally, you’re supposed to use prosciutto and Gruyère cheese. I only had sandwich-style ham and provolone. C’est la vie! It came out great, and apparently tasted delicious.

This recipe is good for 1 serving, multiply accordingly for more servings.

1 skinless & boneless chicken breast fillet
5 slices of ham (or prosciutto if you’re going traditional)
2 – 3 slices of provolone cheese (or Gruyère or Swiss works well too)
1 egg
2 tablespoons of all purpose flour
8 crushed Ritz crackers
2 tablespoons of butter
4 sprigs of fresh thyme – just the leaves
fresh ground pepper
fine white pepper
sea salt

Preheat oven to 390°F or 200°C

Step 1: Prep the chicken
Wash and pat dry the chicken breast. So you want to butterfly the chicken breast, it’s basically cutting it in half but not all the way so it folds out nicely into one big flat piece of chicken. Sprinkle some sea salt all over the butterflied chicken breast. Cover up the open faced chicken breast with some cling wrap, keep enough space for it to spread. Use a meat tenderizer, or a jar like I did, to flatten out the chicken breast – should be about 1/4 inch thick. Unwrap and sprinkle a little bit more sea salt on both sides.

Now we’re ready to roll! Literally. Roll up the ham/procscuitto slices and place it in the middle of the chicken. Crumble up the cheese and wedge it inbetween the rolls of ham/proscuitto. Now roll up the chicken breast and use the plastic wrap to help you keep it in place while you work on the crumbing. Twist the ends of the plastic wrap and place the chicken in the fridge while you do the next step!

Step 2: Crumbing & more prepping
In a large bowl mix together the flour, crushed ritz crackers, thyme leaves, and about 1/4 teaspoon of finely ground white pepper. Also add in a little bit of fresh ground black pepper and a pinch of sea salt. Set aside. In another large bowl, beat the egg so the yoke is all mixed up but not too much so that it’s frothy. Add in a pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a small saucepan melt about 2 tablespoons of butter and when it’s all melted, move away from the heat and let it cool. Also on another burner, heat a cast iron pan on low heat while you do the next step.

Now take your chicken out of the fridge and unwrap. Lightly dust the rolled chicken breast with flour and then dip it in the egg. Now cover the chicken breast thoroughly with the crumb mixture.

Step 3: Bake
Pour half of the melted butter onto the heated cast iron pan – careful, it might sizzle! Place your crumbed chicken roll in the middle of the cast iron pan and drizzle the rest of the butter on top – very slowly so you don’t take off all the crumbs! Place in  the top rack of the oven and bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes in the oven, spoon some of the butter in the pan over the chicken and then bake for another 15 minutes or until golden brown. You’ll want to cut into the middle to make sure the chicken is cooked through. Once ready, you can serve cut in half to show the rolls or in pinwheels. Serve with a small dollop of cranberry sauce, ranch dressing, or dijon mustard – yes all very different flavors so try them separately but each works really well!

Bon Appétit! Enjoy!

pressed caprese sandwich

Last post for 2008! It’s New Years Eve and this year we decided to stay in, make some of our favorite sandwiches in our new panini press. One of my favorite of all time is the classic caprese sandwich. I used to get them all the time at Le Dijonaise in Culver City – they never grilled theirs though. Urth Cafe also does a great caprese but they add an olive tapande – sometimes a bit too much. I prefer the classic caprese, it’s pretty simple to make, I hope you enjoy!

2 slices of thickly sliced artisan loaf bread – olive, onion or sourdough rye works really well
3 bocconcini cheese balls – sliced OR 1 buffalo mozzarella – sliced
(it depends on where you’re at and what they call their cheese, bocconcini = mozzarella just smaller)
5 basil leaves
3 slices of tomato
1 tablespoon of pesto
balsamic vinegar
extra virgin olive oil
fresh ground pepper

Step 1: Assemble
Spread about a tablespoon of pesto on the inside of one slice of bread. Then layer the bocconcini slices on top of the pesto. Then on top of the bocconcini, layer with fresh basil leaves and then top off with tomato slices. Drizzle a little be of balsamic vinegar on top of the tomatoes – just a little bit so it doesn’t soak the bread too much. Finish with salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Cover with the other slice of bread, and we’re ready to grill!

Step 2: Grill
If you have a panini press, brush on very lightly some extra virgin olive oil on the outside of the sandwich (both sides) and throw that sandwich on the press for about 5 minutes.

If you don’t have a panini press, we grill this on a pan with the help of a cast iron pan for the “pressing”. Heat a regular sauce pan and a cast iron pan separately. Make sure cast iron bottom has been cleaned well and very hot. Place your sandwich in the regular pan after brushing with extra virgin olive oil on both sides. Place hot cast iron pan on the top of the sandwich to press it. Should be ready in about 8-10 minutes, you’ll know when it looks toasty and the cheese is melting.

You can also do this without the cast iron press – just grill it on a pan on medium heat on both sides for about 5 mintues each.

That’s it! Hope you like it. Happy New Year!!! There’s lots to expect in the upcoming 09 – like a redesign!

Turkey Leftover Frittata

What to do with leftover turkey! I made a frittata for breakfast – the boys loved it! Unfortunately I still have about 2 containers worth of turkey left… eep! I’ll have to cook some more turkey things. The frittata is really easy to make. It’s basically a fancy baked omelet.

1 cup of cubed turkey meat
1/4 cup of leftover stuffing
2 eggs
3 tablespoons of whole milk
4 tablespoons of leftover gravy
1/3 cup of cheddar cheese
1/3 cup of diced onions
2 tablespoons of butter

preheat oven to 390°F or 200°C

Step 1: The onion
In a oven proof pan or cast iron skillet (I highly suggest cast iron skillet, both for cooking quality and for taste), melt the butter all around the pan. Throw on the chopped onions and let them sweat – till they’re a little see through.

Step 2: The mix
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk until a little fluffy. Now mix in the chopped turkey chunks and fold it until well mixed. Now mix in the stuffing. Then the cheese. Once this is ready, scoop off the onions that have been sweating on the pan and fold that into the mixture. Pour this whole thing on the skillet. Spoon on some dollops of gravy – straight from the fridge is perfect. And let that cook on medium-low heat for about 8 minutes – timing isn’t that important on the stove, it’s just to start the cooking before you pop it in the oven.

Step 3: The baking
So about 8 to 10 minutes later, toss the skillet in the oven on the top shelf and let that bake for 30 – 35 minutes. You want it golden brown on top. The gravy should be melty on top and the edges should look a little dark brown and crusty.