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Sunday, April 28, 2013

[Asparagus with Balsamic Butter Sauce] Outstanding Side Dish with Minimum Effort

Asparagus is a wonderful accompaniment for any fish.  Well, actually asparagus add a nice addition to any meal. And this asparagus dish is a real treat for asparagus lovers. For balsamic  vinegar lovers like me, too. :) 

Asparagus will be ready with no sweat and you will enjoy the dish till the last shoot.

I served this asparagus with salmon last time.
(You can see Roasted Salmon with Greek Yogurt Sauce recipe here)

Here goes the recipe for a great Asparagus with butter and balsamic vinegar. (I call it BB(balsamic butter) sauce :))
(adapted from

1 bunch fresh asparagus
1/2 - 1 teaspoon oil (olive oil or vegetable oil) 
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

2. Trim the ends of the asparagus shoots.

3. Arrange the asparagus on a baking plate. 

4. Coat with oil , and season with salt and pepper.
5. Bake asparagus 12-14 minutes in the preheated oven, or until tender.

6. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. 

7. Remove from heat, and stir in soy sauce and balsamic vinegar. 

8. Pour the balsamic butter sauce over the baked asparagus, and serve with main dish.

Asparagus with Balsamic Butter Sauce

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

[Easy Tomato Sauce] Homemade Versatile Sauce for High Utilization

There are a few reasons I make my own tomato sauce. I had bought jarred tomato sauce before, and decided to make my own sauce forever. I can tell two of the many reasons I've made my own sauce:

First, Jarred tomato sauce is too salty for my taste. 

Personally, I try to use sodium moderately or as little as possible, for my cooking. I like my tomato sauce slightly bland so that I can add other ingredients and seasoning freely later when I add tomato sauce to other dishes. I've made this tomato sauce for more than 10 years, and at least twice a month. Once you have this sauce ready in the fridge, you can prepare some hearty meal in 15-20 minutes. 

Second, It's too expensive. :(  I use tomato sauce for lots of different dishes, e.g. lasagna, beef pot pie, pasta, etc.
A 700ml(24 oz) jar of tomato sauce is over $4, and I need more than a jar a week. You might say it's not so bad, but it costs less than half to make your own healthier sauce. 

Such as beef pot pie

I can easily say that I've made this sauce more than 200 times. I can assure  you that it's really really easy to make your own tomato sauce. 

Here goes the easiest tomato sauce recipe:

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons Italian herb seasoning
2 cans unsalted diced (28 oz/796 mL) tomatoes
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 cup fresh basil (optional)
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon of dried thyme 
* I am a big oregano fan. Oregano upgrades any italian dish from pizza to pasta.


1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a heavy saucepan.
2. Saute garlic to bring out flavour for 5 minutes.

3. Stir in tomatoes and bring to boil; Add fresh herbs.

4. Reduce heat and simmer for 4-50 minutes, until the watery diced tomato becomes no longer watery. 

5. Add Italian seasoning and oregano, and simmer for another 5-10 minutes.

6. You can either use as it is, or blend it, if you want.

Actually active time is only 10 minutes or less.  It tastes simple, but great.


Homemade Tomato Sauce

Sunday, April 21, 2013

[Roasted Salmon with Greek Yogurt Sauce] Perfect Salmon to serve hot or at room temperature

It's very hard to make a bad salmon dish only because salmon is a great fish with wonderful taste. Salmon is a hearty oily fish that can amplify a lot of nice flavours. Still you want to make the best out of it, don't you?  

As a true Greek yogurt fan, I try lots of recipes that use Greek yogurt. This salmon recipe is one of many that survived my test kitchen. :) 

I've made this salmon dish several times, and included it in my repertoire. 

It's just deliciously easy. I try to eat salmon as often as possible as the fish is known for its high protein, high omega-3 fatty acids, and high vitamin D content. I tend to eat even more often since I heard the fish is good to reduce dark under-eye circles! :) 

If you are worried about dark circles under eyes, salmon is the fish you want to eat :) 
Here goes the recipe.
(adapted from Marta Stewart)
(4 servings)
1/4 cup Greek yogurt (preferrably 2%)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill, plus sprigs for serving
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
Coarse salt and ground pepper
4 fillets (160g each)
Lemon wedges, for serving


1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. 

2. Combine yogurt, mustard, dill, and parsley and season with salt and pepper. 

3. Place salmon, skin side down, on a rimmed baking sheet. Spread yogurt mixture on salmon.

4. Roast until opaque throughout, 10-12 minutes. 

5. Sprinkle with dill sprigs and serve warm or at room temperature with lemon wedges.

It's simple, isn't it? It is scrumptious! Warm vegetables are great companions for this healthy fish.
Hope you like it as much as I do.

Roasted Salmon with Yogurt Sauce

Thursday, April 18, 2013

[Super Soft Sponge Cake] Feather Light Sponge Cake with Chocolate with Chocolate Frosting

I've always baked cakes for my three guys' birthdays, and Remi and Pablo have put their requests a few weeks/months ahead. 

Remi made a request for a white cake with chocolate frosting, for his ninth birthday a few weeks ago. 

Actually he asked for a vanilla cake with chocolate frosting, but I slightly modified it by changing from vanilla cake to a super soft sponge cake.

As the angel food cake was ultimately light and soft, I adapted the angel food cake recipe and applied it to sponge cake baking, a few years ago, for an experiment. I'm sorry to brag about it, but it was a hit. Since then, I've always used this feather light sponge cake recipe. The main difference between angel food cake and this super-soft-sponge cake is that Super soft sponge cake uses egg yolks while angel food cake only uses egg whites.

Remi was content with the cake!

Here goes the recipe for a Super Soft Sponge Cake

7/8 cup cake flour, sifted
(Take 2 tablespoons flour out from one cup flour scooped)
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup milk
6 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt

1. Preheat the oven at 350 F.

2. Sift flour.

Line the baking pan with parchment paper.

3. Beat 1 egg and 5 egg yolks until foamy and the yolk and white are combined, on high speed.

4. Add in flour and milk in 2-3 times: start with flour and finish with flour, i.e.
1/3 flour → 1/2 milk → 1/3 flour → 1/2 milk → 1/3 flour.

5. Add in melted butter and mix. Set aside.

6.  Beat egg whites on high speed until white & frothy for about 2 minutes. 

7. Add in salt & sugar little by little while running the mixer. Beat until stiff & thick foamy, for another 2-3 minutes.

8.  Fold in 1/3 egg whites into egg yolk batter with a spatula until combined. 

Then, repeat the same step for two more times. Never ever ever ever overmix if you want to bake a fluffy cake.

9. Pour batter into the lined baking pan. Gently bang or rattle the pan on the counter for a few times, to get the air bubbles out of the batter.

10. Bake a preheated oven 350 F for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 310F and bake for 30-35 more minutes.

11. Remove the cake pan from oven and cool for 5-10 minutes, before running a metal spatula around the inside edge of the pan. Remove the cake from the pan. Place them on a wire rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make chocolate frosting.
(adapted from Food Network)

3 cups confectioners' sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 stick butter, softened
3 - 4 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla


1. Sift sugar and cocoa together into a large bowl. 

2. In another bowl combine 1 cup of sugar mixture with butter and 1 tablespoon cream, beating until smooth. 

3. Add another cup of sugar and another tablespoon of cream, beating well. Continue until all ingredients are combined and frosting is fluffy. Beat in vanilla. 

Once cake is completely cooled, spread frosting on top sides of the cake with frosting.

That big ugly dots were meant to be hearts :(

Nonetheless, it was just so light and soft :)
Super Scrumptious!

(Cupcakes for daycare.)

Slice and serve :)

Super Soft Sponge Cake