Monday, May 30, 2011

Surf Clam Ceviche

I love surf clams. But when I found myself looking at a box of frozen surf clams I recently got from Ranch 99, it struck me that the only times I have had surf clams are when they are sitting on top of sushi rice.
So what to do with them? Checking online, there are only limited amount of recipes available and none of them thrilled me. Well, the only other thing I could think of was to make ceviche. I followed recipe for the traditional Peruvian ceviche, substituted white fish with surf clams, omitted the corn and steamed yam (you can add them if you like) and the result was something to brag about.....

  • 1 lb frozen surf clam, thawed
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
  • 2-3 red thai chili peppers, chopped
  • 3 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • salt to taste
Mix all the ingredients together, put covered in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Lontong Sayur

This is one dish that screams breakfast to me, although I would gladly eat it any time of day. Buttermilk pancakes and Belgian waffles, move over!

  • 3 Coyote (Chayote) squash, julienne cut
  • 2 chicken breasts, diced
  • 2 fried tofu, diced
  • 1 stalk of lemon grass, white part only, bruised
  • 1 inch of Galangal, bruised
  • 2 Indian bay leaves (use regular bay leaves if not available)
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 1.5 liter of water/ chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Spice paste:
  • 6 shallots
  • 5 garlics
  • 7-8 red chili pepper (adjust accordingly)
  • 1 tsp terasi (fermented shrimp paste)
  • 7 candlenuts 
  • 1 inch of turmeric
Put all ingredients for the spice paste in a mortar (or food processor) and grind together with a pestle until it forms a thick paste.

  • Heat oil in a dutch-pan. Add the spice paste and fry until fragrant. Add chicken pieces and cook until the chicken are no longer pink.
  • Add coconut milk and the rest of the ingredients into the pot. Bring to boil.
  • Reduce the heat and continue to cook until all of the meat and vegetables are cooked thoroughly and the soup turns oily from the coconut milk.
  • Serve with rice cake, sprinkle with fried shallots, shrimp/fish/garlic cracker and additional hot chili sauce on the side.
Note: I, in fact, did not make my own rice cake from scratch. I am way too lazy to do so. So this is what I found in my neighborhood Asian store:

Not my own picture. I don't remember where I got it from but it had been sitting pretty in my computer's picture folder. Until now.

And for those who are not terribly familiar with Coyote/Chayote squash (different store has different spelling and pronunciation), here is the picture of the culprit:

Again, not my own picture. It was taken from this website.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Birthday Cake

Got my inspiration from I made this for my son's 9th birthday. It's probably the most ambitious project I have ever attempted. Took me 5 days to get it done.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Dark Devil's Food Cupcakes with Swiss Meringue Buttercream Icing

Dark Devil's Food Cake:

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for pans
3/4 cup Cacao Barry Extra Brute (or other premium dark) cocoa powder,
1/2 cup boiling water
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Butter three 8″ x 2″ round cake pans, line with parchment rounds, and dust with flour, tapping out the excess. Add boiling water to sifted cocoa powder in medium bowl and whisk; set aside to cool.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla on medium-high speed until lighter in color and slightly increased in volume, 3 to 5 minutes. Lower the speed to medium and add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until each is fully incorporated before adding the next.
Sift the flour and baking soda into a medium bowl. Add the salt to the dry ingredients after sifting and whisk together. Whisk buttermilk into cocoa mixture. Alternate dry ingredients and buttermilk into butter mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated, or finish by hand gently. 
Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. If possible, weigh the batter in each cake pan to ensure even layers.  Smooth with small offset palette knife, and bake for about 35 minutes, rotating once after 20 minutes. Cake is done when toothpick or skewer comes barely clean. Try not to over-bake. I tend to under-bake a few moments, so the skewer is a little bit gummy. This works well for a moist chocolate cake (not vanilla). Let pans cool on wire rack for 20 minutes, then invert cakes onto racks, gently, peeling away parchment rounds. Let cool completely.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream Icing:
16 large egg whites (30g each--total 450g, or 2 cups)
4 cups granulated sugar (800g)
5 cups (2.5 lbs, 10 sticks) of unsalted butter, softened but cool, cut into cubes
30 ml (2 tablespoons) pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt

Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk attachment, small bowl, and whisk with paper towel and lemon juice (or vinegar), to remove any trace of grease. Add egg whites and sugar,  and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 140 degrees F, or if you don't have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot (you can feel a drop in between your fingers to ensure no granules.).
Take off of stove, and place bowl back on electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, begin to whip until the mixture is thick, glossy, and neutral (you can feel outside of the bowl to test temperature). Switch over to paddle attachment and, while mixing on medium speed continously, add butter one cube at a time until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture (if curdles, keep mixing and it will come back to smooth).  Add vanilla and salt, mix well. You can also add a wide variety of flavourings, extracts, and more. If buttercream is too runny, the butter was possibly too soft--place into the refrigerator for about 15 minutes, then beat again. If still too runny, add a few more cubes of butter and keep beating. Use immediately, or refrigerate/freeze.

Keep in airtight container in refrigerator for up to one week, leaving out at room temperature when needed, rewhipping in mixer for 5 minutes.
Can freeze for up to 6-8 weeks. To thaw, place on counter overnight, and rewhip for 5 minutes with paddle attachment in an electric mixer.
If buttercream still doesn't have its satiny finish after rewhipping, microwave 1/3 of the buttercream for approximately 10 seconds and add to remaining buttercream in mixer bowl, beating for a few moments to incorporate.

The variations are almost endless, but here are some delicious options:
Chocolate Buttercream:  Add 300 g (1 1/2 cups before melting) melted bittersweet high quality chocolate (the best you can get--I use Callebaut) for every 5 cups of vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream and beat until incorporated.
Strawberry Buttercream (or any other berry version):  Add fruit puree to taste (approximately 1/2 cup for 5 cups of SMB).
Vanilla Bean Buttercream: Add 1 tablespoon of Vanilla Bean Paste OR 1 vanilla bean, scraped for every 5 cups of SMB, and beat until incorporated.
You can also add liqueurs, extracts, and other flavourings, as well as any food gel colours to achieve any desired colour. Just a note that SMB has a yellow tone, due to the butter, so it really can't be pure white.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Skirt Steak with Chimichurri Sauce


  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil 
  • 2/3 cup sherry wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves 
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 3/4 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 (1 3/4-2 lb) skirt steaks


  • In the bowl of a food processor, combine the olive oil, sherry wine vinegar, lemon juice, parsley, basil, oregano and garlic. Pulse until well blended but do not puree.
  • Add 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt & the crushed red pepper flakes.
  • Remove 1 cup of the chimichurri sauce from the processor and transfer to a non-reactive bowl, cover with plastic wrap and reserve at room temperature for up to 6 hours. (Can be made the day before.). If cooking steak another day, refrigerate sauce and return to room temperature before serving.
  • Season the steak with 1 teaspoon salt on each side, as well 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper per side and place in a large resealable plastic bag. Add the remaining chimichurri sauce from the processor. Seal bag and refrigerate the steak for at least 2 and up to 4 hours.
  • Preheat a grill or oven to 350F - medium heat.
  • Once the steak has finished marinating, remove it from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature for 30 minutes.
  • Brush the excess chimichurri sauce off the steak and set the steak over the hot grill or oven. Cook for 6 minutes on the first side. Rotate the steak 45 degrees and cook another 6 minutes. Turn the steak over and continue to cook until the steak is done, about 6-8 minutes for medium-rare.
  • Once cooked, lay the steak on a clean cutting board, and allow it to rest for 5 to 7 minutes before slicing across the grain into 2-inch wide strips.