Strawberry Guava Jam

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I moved to San Francisco exactly three weeks ago (a move that I will post about later!) and with the move came: TEMPORARY funemployment, closer proximity to Berkeley Bowl, and friends eager to learn about making jam (among many things). The combination of these three random things somehow resulted in homemade strawberry guava jam! It began when a friend and I went to Berkeley Bowl to where we let the produce inspire us. With strawberry season at its peak, we could not pass up the gorgeous bright red, cheap organic strawberries. But every jam needs pectin and strawberry doesn’t contain much so we looked for a tropical fruit that contained more pectin and chose guava. Thus our jam making journey began!

I weighed the ingredients I used because I prefer measuring with weight. Feel free to be loose about every measurement! Your jam taste buds may be very different from mine.

Ingredients:
150 grams guava (about 3 medium sized)
368 grams (one small green tray that we overstuffed :P)
75 grams brown sugar
50 grams white sugar
~ 1 tsp. lemon juice
a pint-sized mason jar

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Remove some of the seeds from the guava. I like to keep a little bit of the seeds because the fleshy part of the guava where the seeds are attached is sweet and pulpy. It’s also fun to bite into seeds sometimes.

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Slice your fruit into small cubes. They don’t have to be exactly the same size but as uniform as possible.

Then take a small pot and put the sliced guava in it. Fill the pot with just enough water to cover all the guava. Let it boil. Then lower the heat and simmer the pot uncovered for about 20-30 minutes or until most of the water is boiled off and the guava is mushy when poked with a fork. Mash it up real nicely while leaving a few chunks. It should look like this:
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While letting the guava boil, fill another pot with the strawberries. Simmer it covered for about 30 minutes or as long as it takes for the strawberries to release its juices. You can add the lemon juice now if you want or omit it altogether.

Once the strawberries have released a good amount of juice, crank up the heat to medium high and add the sugars. Let it boil for a few minutes while stirring frequently. Add the guava. Let it boil for a few more minutes and allow for the whole mixture to come together. Once you like the consistency of the jam (which depends on how much of the liquid you boil off), turn off the heat. It should look something like this:
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(Sorry for the poor photo quality!)

Once the jam is done, put the hot jam in the sterilized jar***. I let it cool for a bit before refrigerating and enjoyed it once it was cool.

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This jam is good on toast, Greek yogurt, or lemon thyme shortbread (as shown by the picture above)

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Jam making success! (:

***NOTE about canning: I am no expert on proper canning technique. BUT I did sterilize my jar by placing all of its pieces in a large pot of water, boiled it for 30 minutes and took it out with tongs right as my jam was ready to go in. Use a hot jar for hot jam!

Salad Days

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Do you ever have those days when you wake up and you just want to create something? Last Wednesday I woke up wanting to make salad. Not just one salad, but three different kinds and all in large quantities. It was an incredibly therapeutic activity for me, so much so that I didn’t bother to document the process and almost didn’t snap any photos of my creations or tell anyone about what I made. But thank goodness for a good friend who encouraged me to share these creations with others! So many people are eager to eat healthier and if these recipes can help them do so, I’d be glad to share!

Cabbage Salad Wrap with a Ginger Garlic dressing adapted from Hello Paper Moon
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Ingredients:
Whole wheat wraps
3 cups shredded green cabbage
1 1/2 cups julienned carrots
3/4 cup sliced cucumbers
1/2 cup sliced sugar snap peas
1/3 block extra firm tofu
little bits of cooked shrimp (optional)

Ginger Garlic Dressing:
4 cloves minced garlic
1 to 2 inch block of minced ginger
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp honey
3 tbsp water
a squeeze of Sriracha

Combine the dressing ingredients in a jar or sealed container and shake vigorously until mixture is homogenous. Toss the salad ingredients together in a large bowl. Slowly pour the ginger garlic dressing until it covers all ingredients. I only used a little more than half of the dressing recipe. Serve salad in a whole wheat wrap or eat by itself. Feel free to change any of the quantities for the salad and dressing. Measure to your tastebuds as I do with mine! (Just a note that I do prefer my foods spicier and more sour than “normal”)

Quinoa Salad with Miso Orange Dressing inspired by Sprouted Kitchen
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Ingredients:
2/3 block extra firm tofu
Canola oil
1 tsp soy sauce
Fresh ground pepper
2 cups cooked quinoa
1 cup thinly sliced carrots
½ cup sliced sugar snap peas (edamame would probably taste better)
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
Chopped cilantro (I’m always very generous with adding cilantro!)

Dressing:
2 tbsp white miso
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp sesame oil
3 tbsp rice vinegar
1 shallot minced
Juice of half an orange

Heat the oil in a pan. Slice the tofu into ½ inch cubes and add to the pan when the oil is hot. Add the soy sauce and a little bit of pepper and sauté for a few minutes. Let it cool.

Combine the quinoa, thinly sliced carrots, snap peas, sesame seeds and tofu in a large bowl. Mix the dressing together and pour in the bowl of quinoa. Roughly chop the cilantro and mix into the quinoa. I prefer to eat it cold rather than room temperature but either way should be fine.

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Delicious!

Kale Israeli Couscous Salad
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I first discovered Israeli couscous at Mendocino Farms where they make a deliciously tangy Israeli couscous salad. I knew that I wanted to recreate it someday. While this salad is not quite like the one from Mendocino Farms and was birthed from the random leftover ingredients in my fridge, I was rather pleased with the result so I decided to make it again! Kale is such a healthy and complex green that it just feels so good to consume it and I love the chewiness of Israeli couscous!

Ingredients:
2 cups cooked Israeli couscous (Trader Joe’s sells a box)
4 cups kale
1 medium to large sized sweet potato
½ cup chickpeas
Grape tomatoes sliced in half (only include if they are sweet!)
Crumbled feta cheese
Balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
Red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the Israeli couscous according to the instructions on the box and then set aside to cool. Chop the kale into small pieces, making sure that the stems are sliced small. Have a bowl of iced water ready. Boil a large pot of water. Blanch the kale in batches for about 30 seconds to a minute and then immediately place in the ice water bath. Drain well. (Alternatively, you can chop the kale into smaller pieces after blanching).

Prick the sweet potato with a fork in a few places. Bake it in the oven at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Take it out when it is just soft enough for the fork to go through but not mushy. Let it cool. Once it is cool enough to handle, peel it and cut it into small cubes.

Combine all ingredients together in a large bowl. Create a balsamic vinegar dressing using 2 parts balsamic vinegar to one part olive oil. Add some salt and pepper and dress the salad. Sprinkle some red pepper flakes. Keep in the fridge for a few hours before serving to allow the dressing to penetrate the salad. Serve it cold with crumbled feta on top.

I hope you enjoy your creations! Happy salad eating!

Ratatouille a la Remy and Baked Eggs

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Task me to cook dinner and I will make you my favorite chef’s prime creation, Ratatouille (and baked eggs for extra protein)! That chef is of course none other than Remy, a fictional rat from my favorite Pixar movie, Ratatouille.

In the movie, Remy is asked to cook for a famous food critic and out of all the fancy French dishes he is capable of making, he chooses to make Ratatouille…but in his own style! I don’t know too much about French cooking, but I do believe that Ratatouille is traditionally made in a pot, like a vegetable stew. In the movie, Remy slices the vegetables thinly and roasts it in the oven with some herbs and tops it with a sauce. The first time I wanted to recreate the dish, I found this New York times recipe that was supposedly conceptualized by the man/lady who made recipes for the movie. I tried making it during college and it wasn’t too difficult, though it was rather time consuming. This time around I wanted to try a simpler version so I used Smitten Kitchen’s version, which was much easier but still incredibly delicious!

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The main ingredients are very simple and easy to find. Some vegetables and a sprig of thyme is all you need! I substituted tomato paste mixed with water and a little tomato sauce for tomato puree because I already had them in my pantry. They worked just fine!

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The key to this recipe is to acquire and utilize a mandoline. Chopping these vegetables thinly is not very fun if you don’t have a sharp knife and above average knife skills. Don’t get too caught up on arranging the vegetables perfectly (I know I did the first time). Just make sure to alternate between each vegetable. Make sure you use salt and pepper generously!

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I served the Ratatouille on a bed of whole wheat couscous that I purchased from Trader Joe’s. It’s very easy to cook and pairs well with the Ratatouille. Do listen to Smitten Kitchen and top it with goat cheese. It works really well with it!

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I was brainstorming protein dishes that I thought would complement the Ratatouille well without taking the spotlight away from it and figured I should stay away from meat and go for eggs! To jazz my eggs up a little, I decided to bake them. All I used were:

– grated parmesan cheese
– sliced up ham/prosciutto/bacon/pancetta
– fresh parsley (sliced very small)
– fresh thyme (sliced very small)
– eggs, of course
– salt & pepper
– cute little ramekins to bake them in!

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It was very easy to make. Simply crack the eggs and place them in the ramekin. Top it with the cheese, fresh herbs, sliced up meat and sprinkle some salt and pepper. I held off a bit on the salt because I knew that the cheese and meat would add saltiness to it. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees (same temperature as the Ratatouille) for about 10-12 minutes for a runny egg (which I love!). The deeper the ramekin, the longer it takes to cook and since mine were pretty shallow, they were done in 10 minutes.

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Voila! Delicious and sophisticated baked eggs that can be served during any meal. Doesn’t that soft, bright yellow yoke just make you hungry?

This dinner was good for 3 people with a very small amount of Ratatouille leftover, which I then scrambled with some eggs the next morning for breakfast and topped with goat cheese!
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I ate it with a crispy whole wheat toast. It was a lovely, hearty breakfast. Two great and pretty healthy meals from one dish. Success! Thanks Remy and Smitten Kitchen!