I love to work in my garden and grow as much fresh produce as possible in the warm months, nature just provides the best growing environments. I had been on the look out for some Asian herbs, not found at any of the local nurseries. A good friend and neighbour, suggested Well sweep Herb Farm. I was hesitant,it was a good hours drive for me. However after a brief conversation over the phone with them confirming they indeed had what I was looking for ,I headed out today.
Let me say,Herb farm is deceptive. They have every variety of herb known to me in different flavors.So much to choose from,it was a gardeners dream come true. I picked up a Kaffir Lime plant with bright healthy leaves, a curry leaf plant ,Siamese Basil,Key lime plant,Holy Basil ,just to name a few.
At check out the cashier was so helpful and knowledgeable, about repotting, type of soil,watering and treatment once the fall was here. I encourage anyone wishing to build a herb garden (even flower or fruit) to stop by.Believe me,you’ll be thrilled you did.
They have a terrific warranty on all their plants and they ship nation wide,what could be more convenient?
Well-Sweep Herb Farm
205 Mount Bethel Rd,Port Murray
New Jersey 07865
908 852 5390
Its funny how life evolves , an idea starts out with one intention and suddenly takes on a new tradition. The sauce for these simple store bought mini chicken dumplings was created by me for unexpected dinner guests as an appetizer till dinner was ready . My husband took such a “loving ” to them , they are now regularly served at our week night family dinners ( yes , we ALL still eat together , every night !) You may use store bought or home made dumplings , depending on your pleasure or time frame . I do however stress using a home made Asian peanut sauce, such as Perfect peanut sauce , found on this web site , it really does make a difference .
Photograph by Rahul Mahtani
24 mini chicken or pork dumplings
1/2 cup Perfect peanut sauce
2 tbs lite soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 to 2 tbs Sambal Oelek ( ground fresh chili paste , or any crushed red chilis )
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tbs sesame paste
pinch of salt and pinch of ground white pepper
Chiu Chow oil for drizzling as garnish
1 sliced scallion
a few sprigs of cilantro
Mix all sauce ingredients and set aside.
Steam dumplings as directed just until cooked.
Pour sauce into a wide saucepan , warm , stirring. Add in steamed dumplings and gently JUST WARM THROUGH . Off heat.
My son is a great fan of Tortuga Rum cake , minus the nuts . I found this recipe on recipezaar , and , despite the glowing ratings , had my misgivings it would compare to the original . O boy was I wrong ! I feel bold enough to say its even better . We had a group of friends over and they simply could not get enough . It is well risen , moist and really keeps well for days thanks to the butter rum syrup poured over it ,. it is the perfect cake for entertaining as it can even be made a couple of days ahead , saving time on the day of . I must confess I decided to switch from the reccomended Whaler’s Rum to Spice Rum , it gave the cake a more intriguing lingering mouth feel . Really hope you try this .
Recipezaar , by Heart ‘N Soul
Makes one 9 inch cake
Photograph by Rahul Mahtani
BASIC CAKE MIX
1 cup cake flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter, cut into bits ( please , room temperature butter is important )
4 1/2 tsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts ( I simply omitted them )
1/2 ( 3 1/2 oz ) package instant vanilla pudding mix
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup whaler vanilla rum ( I used spice rum )
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
RUM SOAKING GLAZE
1/4 cup butter , do not substitute
2 tbs water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup whaler rum ( or spice rum )
In a large mixing bowl , combine basic cake mix ingredients . On low speed combine ingredients until the mix is the consistency of fine gravel , and all particles are about the same size .( This mix may be contained and stored for up to 3 months in the refridgerator )
Preheat oven to 325*F . Spary a 9 inch cake pan with non stick spray . I lined the bottom with parchment paper . Sprinkle the chopped walnuts on the bottom.
Place basic cake mix , pudding mix , milk , eggs, rum , oil and vanilla in a large bowl and combine on medium speed with electric mixer for 2 to 3 minutes , scrape down the bowl half way through . Batter should be very smooth .
Pour into prepared pan .
Bake for about 40 to 50 minutes until fully golden and tester comes out clean and cake springs back . Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack while making the soaking glaze .
Combine butter , water and sugar in a small saucepan . Bring to a boil carefully as mixture boils over easily . reduce to a simmer and cook until sugar is dissolved and syrup is well combined and a little thicker .
Remove from heat and add the rum, mix to combine. While cake is still cooling , pour some of the hot syrup on top of the cake , allowing it time to soak ( this may take a few minutes as there will be a lot of syrup ) continue adding syrup until all of the syrup is added . Allow cake to cool completely in pan before turning out on to a serving platter . Sprinkle with podered sugar , if liked .
Fudge is one of those feel good , childhood memories . I remember walking “Kingsway ” ( now Republic street , Valetta Malta ) and going into the tiny , quaint candy store , where they had the most delicious fudge . Funny , I used to imagine the store owner getting up before dawn to whip up a fresh batch !!! These are just delicious , enjoy !
Christine McFadden and Christine France
1 cup sugar
1 can ( 13 oz ) Condensed milk
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 oz dark chocolated , grated
3/4 cup pistachios , almonds or hazlenuts
Grease a 7 inch square cake pan and line with parchment paper . Mix the sugar , condensed milk and butter in a heavy pan . Heat gently , stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved completely and the mixture is smooth .
Bring the mixture to a boil , stirring occasionally , and boil until it registers 240 *F on a sugar thermometer or until a small amout of the mixture dropped into a cup of ice water forms a soft ball .
Remove the pan from the heat and beat in the vanilla , chocolate and nuts . Beat vigorously until the mixture is smooth and creamy .
Pour the mixture into the prepared cake and spread evenly . Leave until just set , then mark into squares . Let set completely before cutting into squares and removing from pan . Store into an airtight container in a cool place .
This is such a versatile rub , delicious , smoky and fragrant, so easy to prepare and so impressive. I use it on pork chops , other cuts of meat and even tofu or potatoes. I have even rubbed small , new potatoes , boiled rubbed with the paste and grilled and a medly of other grilled vegetables and tossed them into couscous…oh what a vegan feast.
Makes 1/2 cup
Photograph by Rahul Mahtani
1 Tbs ground cumin
1 Tbs paprika
1 Tbs ground black pepper
1 Tbs ground coriander
1 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 Tbs lemon juice
3 Tbs chopped garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
Mix all ingredients in a food processor and blend , scraping the sides occasionally ,until you have a paste. Use on your favorite meat , vegetables or tofu.
This dish known as pad kee mao , in Thailand has the perfect balace of Thai flaqvors . sweet , sour , salty and spicy. You do need fresh rice noodles , also known as kway teow , for this dish . Floow these easy steps and you are in for a real treat.
1 lb fresh rice noodles (kway Teow)
3 tbs peanut oil
4 garlic cloves , minced
2 large shallots , sliced
1 fresh red chili , sliced
8 oz large shrimp , peeled and deveined
8 oz squid , cut into rings
3 tbs fish sauce or to taste
3 tbs sweet soy sauce
1/8 tsp freshly ground white pepper
1 tsp roasted chili paste
1 cup firmly packed fresh Asian basil leaves.
Gently seperate the rice noodles into individual strands , as they are quite sticky , set aside.
Heat a wok over medium heat for 40 seconds and then add oil around the perimeter of the wok so that it coats the sides and bottom. when the surface shimmers slightly , about 30 seconds , and the garlic , shallots , and chile and cook , stirring constantly , until the garlic appeas golden brown and fragrant….., 3 to 4 minutes. The chili should have transferred some of its natural red color to the oil by now. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring , about 2 minutes. Add the squid and cook about 1 minute.
Add the noodles , fish sauce , sweet soy sauce , white pepper and roasted chili paste. Raise the heat to medium high and cook , spreading the noodles evenly, around the wok and placing the seafood over the noodles to avoid over cooking, until all the liquid has been absorbed by the noodles , 2 to 3 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning with fish sauce for desired saltiness.
Toss in the basil leaves and cook for 30 seconds until the basil is wilted. Serve immediately.
This is one of the most versatile dressings I make and always keep on hand, refridgerated. It is awesom on blanced vegetables with some fresh aromatic herbs or on grilled eggplant and ofcourse and grilled seafood.
Makes 1 cup
1/2 cup fresh lime juice ( from 4 limes)
2 1/2 tbs Asian Fish sauce
3 1/2 tbs palm sugar
2 small dried Thai Red Chilies
1 large garlic clove ,crushed
In a bowl whisk together and let stand 15 minutes before serving.
This satiny smooth baked custard is ideal for the fall months,but, I must admit to having switched over wirh Mango pulp, available from Asian markets,for a change in the warmer months. This recipe is a real winner from Better homes and Gardens. However,in the event you may wish to try the Mango version (sorry Better Homes and Garden,I know you did not have this in mind), I would omit the pumpkin spice completly and switch the orange peel to lime peel, for flavor.
2/3 cup sugar
1 15 oz can pumpkin or Mango puree
2 5 oz cans evaporated milk(1 1/3 cups)
2 teaspoons finely shredded orange peel (lime peel for Mango)
2 teaspoons vanilla
11/2 teaspoons pumpkin spice (omit for mango)
Pomegranate seeds for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven 325*F
To caramelize sugar in a heavy large skillet melt the 2/3 cup sugar over medium -high heat ,shaking skillet occasionally to heat sugar evenly. When sugar starts to melt, reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon until sugar is golden brown. Remove skillet from heat;immediately pour the caramelized sugar into eight ungreased 6 oz custard cups. Holding cups with pot holders,quickly tilt to coat cup bottoms. Place cups in two 2-quart square baking dishes.
In a large bowl,beat eggs until combined..Stir pumpkin ,evaporated milk,the half cup sugar,the orange peel,vanilla and pumpkin spice into eggs till combined. Pour into cups with caramelized sugar.place the baking dishes on oven rack.Pour boiling waterinto the baking dishes to a depth of 1 inch.
Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a knife inserted near the centers comes out clean. Remove cups from water. Cool slightly on a wire rack. Cover and chill for 4-24 hours.
To serve loosen the edges of custards with a knife.. Invert a dessert olate over each custard,turn cup and plate over together. If desired garnish with pomegranate seeds.