Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Liebster Blog Award


Liebster is German and translates to the English word
“dearest”or” favourite”. It’s meant for up-and-coming
blogs with less than 200 followers.”

A Liebster Blog Award is given to talented bloggers who have less than 200 followers. “Liebster” is a German word that means “Dearest”, it also means ”Favorite”. So, in a way the award not only recognizes these bloggers as amazingly gifted in their own right but also as your very own personal favorites. 

So I woke up this morning, checked my emails and almost fell of my chair when I read that Averil from Quirky Baker Girl recognized my humble blog with this award. All I can say is WOW! *speechless*.
 To Averil, I hereby raise my passion fruit flavored drink to offer you a sincere thank you, and I'm sending a big piece of virtual double fudge chocolate cake (with cherry on top) to all of you who drop by from time to time. I truly appreciate the comments, suggestions and encouragements. Please keep them coming.

Please don't forget to check Averil's lovely blog. It's filled with amazing recipes and mouthwatering pictures, guaranteed to inspire you to get busy in the kitchen.

Here are the rules
  1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.
  2. Link back to the blogger who presented the award to you.
  3. Copy and paste the blog award on your blog.
  4. Present the Liebster Blog Award to 5 blogs of 200 followers or less who you feel deserve to be noticed. (Some say just 3 or more blogs of less than 200 followers each)
  5. Let them know they have been chosen by leaving a comment at their blog.

So now I will pass the torch to my 5 favorite up and coming blogs. They have so far filled my days with inspiration, enjoyment and and the love for food. Congratulations! Here are:

Check out these awardees' wonderful blogs!

[Indonesian] Manadonese Chicken Woku


Ingredients:
  • 6 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass, white part only, bruised
  • 2 kaffir-lime leaves
  • 10 red Thai bird chili peppers
  • 1 cup shredded fresh sweet Thai basil
  • 1 tbsp fresh Turmeric leaves, chopped (optional)
  • 1 large tomato, sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon Turmeric powder
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 4 chicken breasts, cubed
  • 1 bunch fresh kale leaves, chopped into 1-inch length
  • 1/2 cup water or chicken stock
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
Directions:
  • In a dutch pan, heat oil over medium heat. Put the first 10 ingredients in the pan and fry until fragrant.
  • Add chicken, mix well with the spices. Add water or chicken stock, season with salt and pepper, cook covered until chicken is done and no longer pink. Toss in chopped kale leaves, continue cooking until the leaves are wilted. Remove from the stove.
  • Serve hot with steamed rice.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Blueberry Lemon Ice Cream


...and it all started from finding a pack of blueberries in the fridge...

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 strips lemon peels
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
Directions:
  • In a medium saucepan, boil together blueberries, sugar, salt, lemon juice and lemon strips over medium heat. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, remove from heat and cool down. Discard the lemon peels.
  • In a blender, puree blueberry mixture with milk until smooth, stir in heavy cream. Pour puree into a bowl, chill covered for about 2 hours, and up to 1 day. Freeze mixture in an ice cream maker. Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and put in the freezer to harden.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Asparagus and Tomato Tart


Sunday brunch perfect dish!

Ingredients:
For the tart shell:
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut in small pieces
  • 3 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 egg white, beaten
For the filling:
  • 8-10 asparagus
  • 1 cup small plum tomatoes, halves
  • 1 whole green onion, minced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup cream
  • 2 tablespoons tarragon leaves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley


Directions:
  • To make the tart dough: Place the flour, salt and butter in a food processor. Process until the flout mixture resembles cornmeal. With the machine on, add ice water and process until the dough just begins to stick together. Remove the dough from the processor and press together into a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to 1 day. Roll out the dough on a floured surface into a thin sheet; then transfer the dough to a 10-inch tart pan. Press into the sides of the pan. Brush with the egg white.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degree F. In a large mixing bowl, using a whisk, beat the eggs well, then beat in the cream. Stir in green onion, basil, garlic, tarragon, nutmeg, and salt. Add half of the grated cheese into the egg mixture and stir in.
  • Place a layer of halved tomatoes across the tart. Pour in the egg and cream mixture until it just rises to the edges of the tart. Sprinkle the remaining grated cheese over the tart, and arrange the asparagus across the tart. Sprinkle the chopped parsley all over. Place the tart on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven until the tart begins to bubble on the top and lightly brown, about 40 minutes. Remove the tart from the oven, and let cool for 10 minutes. Slice the tart and serve warm.


Friday, January 27, 2012

Risotto with Turkey, Portobello Mushrooms and Green Peas


Humble looking dish that packs a lot of flavors!

Ingredients:
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 5 to 6 cups hot chicken broth
  • 2 large Portobello mushrooms, stem and black parts removed, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup cooked and diced turkey breast
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen green peas
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Directions:
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degree F. Toss sliced mushrooms into rimmed baking sheet, top with 1 tablespoon of butter, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until the mushrooms are tender and slightly brown around the edges. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  • In a heavy saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add onions and cook until soy and translucent. Add rice, stir until well blended with the onions. Add wine, stir a little bit and cook until all the liquid is absorbed, about 2 minutes. Pour 1 cup of broth into the rice, stirring often and simmer until almost all of the liquid is absorbed. Continue the process with the remaining of the broth, until the rice becomes tender and creamy. The process should take about 20 minutes or so.
  • Stir in turkey, green peas, mushrooms, Pecorino Romano and the remaining of the butter. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Continue cooking and stirring for another 1-2 minutes. Transfer to bowls, sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Chicken Heart and Beef Pie


For those who never tried chicken hearts before, then you should. It's delicious! 
For those who are reluctant to try, let me tell you this: If I served this pie to you without telling what's inside, odds are you'll never guess. But you'll love it anyway.....

Ingredients:
For the crust:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cubed
  • 3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 4-6 tablespoons cold water
For the filling:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium sized onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup chicken hearts, cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen green peas
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
For egg wash:
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon milk


Directions:
  • In a food processor, combine butter and flour, pulse until they look crumbly. Add egg to the flour mixture, continue blending and add water a little at a time until the mixture take paste form. Roll the dough into 2 balls (one bigger than the other), wrap with plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Note: If you prefer to make your crust by hands, feel free to do so. Me, I have 2 left thumbs. So without shame I admit this to you, that my food processor does a much better job than my own hands in making pie crust. 
  • Heat the oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, stir occasionally and cook until the onion become translucent. Add chicken heart, ground beef, peas, chicken stock and thyme into the pan, cook until the meat is no longer pink. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and let it cool down completely.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degree F. Grease the pie pan with non-stick spray. Beat the egg yolk and milk in a small bowl, set aside. 
  • On a floured surface, take the bigger ball and roll out the dough into a big circle, about 1/8-inch thick. Line the pie pan with the dough, make sure that the bottom and sides are smooth. Put the filling in lined pie pan. Take the smaller dough ball, and roll it out into another big circle, about 1/8-inch thick. Cover the pie with the dough and cut the excess dough around the edges. Seal the top edges by pressing fork around the pie. Take a knife and make some slits on the top of the pie, to let the steam to come out. Brush the entire top with egg wash.
  • Bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until the crust begin to brown. Remove from the oven, cool for 15 minutes before serving.
Note: Pictures are of mini pies that I made using muffin pans. The same assembly process, with 2 tablespoons of filling in the center.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Shrimp Gumbo


Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces vegetable oil
  • 4 ounces all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 pounds raw, whole, head-on medium-sized (31-50 count) shrimp
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 cup diced green peppers
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup peeled, seeded and chopped tomato
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon file powder

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Place the vegetable oil and flour into a 5 to 6-quart cast iron Dutch oven and whisk together to combine. Place on the middle shelf of the oven, uncovered, and bake for 1 1/2 hours, whisking 2 to 3 times throughout the cooking process.
  • While the roux is baking, de-head, peel and devein the shrimp. Place the shrimp in a bowl and set in the refrigerator. Place the heads and shells in a 4-quart saucepan along with the 2 quarts of water, set over high heat and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour or until the liquid has reduced to 1-quart. Remove from the heat and strain the liquid into a container, discarding the solids.
  • Once the roux is done, carefully remove it from the oven and set over medium-high heat. Gently add the onions, celery, green peppers and garlic and cook, moving constantly for 7 to 8 minutes or until the onions begin to turn translucent. Add the tomatoes, salt, black pepper, thyme, cayenne pepper, and bay leaves and stir to combine. Gradually add the shrimp broth while whisking continually. Decrease the heat to low, cover and cook for 35 minutes. Turn off the heat, add the shrimp and stir to combine. Add the file powder while stirring constantly. Cover and allow to sit for 10 minutes prior to serving. Serve over rice.



Note: Recipe taken from Alton Brown's Good Eats gumbo recipe. I choose to make my roux on the stove top, with lots of stirring until the roux turns dark copper color.  
I also sometimes add 1/2 pound of Andouille sausages, browned on the greased skillet and added to gumbo together with the shrimp.

Quinoa and Corn Fritters


Classic recipe for 'perkedel jagung' (Indonesian corn fritters), with quinoa added for the extra crunch.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (15 1/4 oz) can sweet corn, drained 
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup water/chicken stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • salt and ground white pepper to taste
  • cooking oil for frying (you should have enough oil to cover at least 2-inches from the bottom of your skillet)
Directions:
  • Heat the cooking oil in a skillet over medium heat. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, egg, water/chicken stock, coriander, salt and pepper. Mix until well blended and reach thick batter consistency (add a little bit more water if necessary). Add corn, quinoa and chopped green onions, mix together with the batter. 
  • Once the oil is hot enough, drop a tablespoon of the corn batter into the oil. Repeat with the remaining batter. Fry until the fritters turn golden brown, remove from the skillet and drain on paper towel. 



Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Coconut Lemongrass Panna Cotta with Kiwi Compote


It's been raining constantly for about a week here in Northern California. While the rain was much needed, I'm more than ready to welcome warm sunny days back into my life. To bring a little piece of sunshine, here is the recipe for Panna Cotta with a tropical twist. Coconut milk, lemongrass, basil and kiwi....and I'm imagining myself at the beach....somewhere far, far away.......


Ingredients:
For Panna Cotta:
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, white part only, chopped and crushed
  • 1/2 cup Thai sweet basil, coarsely chopped
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2.5 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 packets powdered gelatin
  • 6 tablespoons cold water
For compote:
  • 1 pound kiwi, peeled and sliced
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
Directions:
  • In a medium saucepan, heat milk, sugar, lemongrass and basil over medium heat. Bring to boil, reduce the heat and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, for another 10 minutes. Remove from heat, then add coconut milk into milk mixture. Mix until incorporated.
  • Sprinkle gelatin over the cold water in a medium sized bowl, and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Using strainer, pour very hot Panna Cotta mixture over the gelatin (make sure that you get rid all of lemongrass and basil) and stir until the gelatin completely dissolved.
  • Divide Panna Cotta into 8 serving bowls/cups, chill in the refrigerator until firm, at least 2 hours.
  • To make compote: heat sugar, water and lime juice in a saucepan over medium heat, let it simmer until it thickens. Remove from heat and cool down. 
  • To serve, toss sliced kiwis into the sugar syrup and blend well. Spoon kiwi compote on to each Panna Cotta bowl.

Beef, Chocolate and Dark Beer Chili


Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 5 pounds ground chuck
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 1/2 pounds onions, coarsely chopped
  • 10 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 pounds green bell peppers, seeded, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 ounces extra dark chocolate bar (75% or more)
  • 2 large Jalapeño chilies with seeds, chopped
  • 7 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons (packed) minced canned chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
  • 2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes with added puree
  • 2 15-ounce cans kidney beans, drained
  • 1 12-ounce bottle dark beer (such as stout)
  • Sour cream
  • Chopped green onions
  • Coarsely grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
Directions:

  • Sautee beef in a heavy large pot over medium heat until no longer pink, breaking up with spoon, drain the liquid. In a separate large skillet, heat the oil, add onions, garlics, peppers and jalapeño, sauté until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the vegetable to the pot with meat. Mix in spices, chili powder, chipotle chilies and chocolate. Pour in crushed tomatoes, kidney beans and beer. Bring chili to boil, stirring occasionally. 
  • Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes, stirring often. Season with salt and pepper. When chili is done, ladle into bowls, serve with sour cream, chopped onions and grated cheese.

Note: Recipe is adapted from this website, modified (a little bit) by me.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Chinese Sesame Balls

Happy New Year of the Dragon! 龙年快乐!


Ingredients:
  • 3 cups glutinous-rice flour
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup tasted sesame seeds
  • 1 cup Chinese sweet red bean paste (Adzuki)
  • Cooking oil for frying



Directions:
  • In a heavy saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat, make sure there's at least 3 inches of oil in the saucepan. Spread the sesame seeds over a shallow plate and place a bowl of water next to it.
  • Dissolve the sugar in a cup of boiling water. Place the rice flour in a large mixing bowl, make a well in the middle of the flour and pour the sugar water mixture into the well. Stir and knead the flour until it forms sticky dough, adding a little more water if necessary. Take about 1 tablespoon of the dough (about the size of a golfball), push your thumb into the middle of the dough to make indentation. Add about 1 teaspoon of bean paste to the hole, shape the dough over the top to seal, make sure that the bean paste is completely covered. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  • Dip a ball into the bowl of water, roll the ball over the sesame seeds. Repeat the process with the remainder of the ball. Deep fry the sesame balls, a few at a time, in the hot oil.
  • Once the sesame seeds turn light brown, use the back of the spatula to gently press the balls against the side of the saucepan. Continue applying pressure as the balls turn golden brown and expand to approximately 3 times their normal size. Drain the balls on the paper towel. Serve warm.



Homemade Cottage Cheese


Ingredients:
  • 1 gallon pasteurized whole milk
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup half and half or heavy cream



Directions:
  • Put the milk in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat. Insert cooking thermometer and continue cooking until the milk reach 120 degree F. Remove from the heat. Pour lemon juice into the milk, stir slowly for about 1-2 minutes. The curd will separate from the whey (as pictured above). Cover and let cool at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
  • Pour the mixture into the colander lined with cheese cloth, allow to sit and drain for 5 minutes. Gather the edges of the cloth and rinse it under cold water for 3-5 minutes, or until the curd is completely cooled down, squeezing and moving the curd the whole time. Once it cooled, squeeze as dry as possible and transfer to a mixing bowl, add salt, mix and break the curd into little pieces as you go. Refrigerate. Add half and half or heavy cream prior to serving.



Yield about 2 cups of delicious cottage cheese.


Friday, January 20, 2012

[Dutch] Sausijzenbroodje Triangles - Sausage in Homemade Puff Pastry


There was a small neighborhood bakery near my parents' house in Jakarta. It was so small, I don't think it even had a name. It was practically someone's living room, and they baked their delicious goodies in their own family kitchen. But one thing I remember fondly, out of many scrumptious pastries, cakes and buns they produced, there was Sausijzenbroodje. 

In my attempt to reminisce my childhood, I was searching for the recipe and happened to acquire one from a friend in Indonesia. The original recipe for the puff pastry calls for lard, but I decided to try different recipe that uses butter instead. I found the amazing recipe and easy to understand tutorial from this fantastic blog, tried it and was successful on my first attempt! Could not be happier!

For the puff pastry:
Ingredients for the dough packet:

  • 150 ml water
  • 5 grams salt
  • 350 grams flour
  • 110 grams butter, melted and cooled
Ingredients for the butter packet:
  • 350 grams butter
  • 150 grams flour
Directions:
  • Prepare the dough packet: Put the flour on the kitchen counter, make a well right in the center. Mix salt and water until the salt is completely dissolved, pour this into the well. Working from the inside wall of the flour, mix the water and flour using a fork until the flour is all stirred. Add melted butter into the mixture and continue stirring, adding a little bit of water if necessary. Hand knead the dough for about a minute or two, shape the dough into a 6" x 10" rectangle, wrap with plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  • Prepare the butter packet: Using mixer, cream the butter until soft, then add the flour and blend together. Lay a piece of plastic wrap on the kitchen counter. Spread the butter mixture directly onto the plastic wrap, shape into a rectangle that's about the same size with the dough rectangle. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  • For the instructions on how to roll and turn, please visit here. You cannot get better explanation elsewhere.
For the Sausijzenbroodjes:
Ingredients :
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry
  • 350 grams of ground beef (don't choose the lean one, as we need a little fat in the meat)
  • 1 tablespoons of chopped parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk (beaten) for brushing
  • 1 tablespoon bread crumb
  • salt and ground white pepper
Directions:
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degree F. In a medium bowl, mix the meat and spiced together. Add egg and breadcrumbs, continue mixing until well incorporated. Set aside
  • Thaw the puff pastry if frozen. Cut into 4" squares. Put about a teaspoon of meat filling in the middle of the pastry, fold over and press the edge with fork to seal it. Repeat the process with the rest, transfer to lined baking sheet. Brush the top of the pastry with the egg yolk. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown.



Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Collard Greens (and Ham Hock) Soup


It's nothing fancy. But for the love of God, I can't explain why I LOVE this dish a lot. 
No measurement for the ingredients in this recipe, simply use your best guess when cooking.

Ingredients:
  • Collard greens, cut into 1 to 1 1/2 inch length
  • Ham hock
  • Water
  • Bouillon cube
  • Garlic powder
  • Chili flakes
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pickled chili pepper juice (optional, picture below)
Directions:
  • Fill a large pot with water, enough to completely submerse the ham hock and add chili flakes, bouillon cube and garlic powder. Bring to boil over medium high heat, cover and simmer until the meat falls off the bone (about 1-2 hours). Discard the bone.
  • Rinse the collard greens, add into the the the pot. Cover and continue cooking for about 45 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot in the bowl. If desired, drizzle some pickled chili pepper juice  over the soup

(Photo's borrowed from this website)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Rum and Raisin Brownies


Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup dark rum, plus 2 tablespoons for brushing
  • 200g/6.5oz butter
  • 125g/4oz dark chocolate, chopped
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp dark chocolate powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
Directions:
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degree. Place the raisins and 1/2 cup of rum in a saucepan over low heat and simmer until almost all of the rum has been absorbed. Set aside to cool.
  • Place the butter and chocolate in the saucepan over low heat and stir until smooth.
  • Place the chocolate mixture in a bowl and add sugar, eggs, flour, cocoa, baking powder and raisins and mix until combined.
  • Pour the mixture into a 8 inch square cake pan that has been grease and floured. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until set. Drizzle or brush the remaining 2 tablespoons of rum onto the brownies. Cool completely before cutting into squares.
Note: Recipe is adapted from Flavour cookbook authored by Donna Hay

Friday, January 13, 2012

Pastry Cream and Blackberry Tartlettes


For the tart shell:
Ingredients:
  • 3 1/2 cups (16 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 4 to 8 tablespoons heavy cream
Directions:
  • In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the b utter and beat until the mixture is the consistency of cornmeal, about 5 minutes.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and 2 tablespoons of cream. Add to the flour mixture and mix until just combined. If the dough does not come together into large chunks, slowly add the remaining cream, a little bit at a time, until it does. Gather the dough into a ball, pat it into a disk and wrap it tightly in plastic bag. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Remove the dough from the refrigerator and unwrap. Divide the dough to make tyne portions you need and again pat gently into disks. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out each dough disk into a round about 1/4 inch thick and about 1 inch greater in diameter than the pan you're using (8 inches for a 7-inch pan; 4 inches for 3 1/2-inch tartlet pans). Drape the rolled-out dough into the tart pan(s), gently pushing it into the bottom edges and against the pan sides to make a strong and straight shell. Trim the edges flush with the rim of the pan(s) using a sharp knife, or roll the rolling pin over the edges to cut off the excess dough. Prick all over the bottom with the tines of a fork and place in the freezer to firm up for 30 minutes. 
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the shells until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before filling.


For the pastry cream:
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 7 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup ( 3 1/2 ounces) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
Directions:
  • Pour the milk into medium pot. Use sharp knife to slit the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the milk. Put the pod in the milk as well. Heat the milk until almost boiling (bubbles will begin to form at the edges). Cover and let steep for 1 hour if time permits, otherwise proceed as directed.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch until smooth. Set the bowl on a kitchen towel or nonskid surface and whisk the egg mixture while pouring about 1/2 cup of the hot milk into the mixture to temper. Gradually pour in the rest of the milk, whisking constantly. Pour the contents of the bowl into the pan and set over medium-low heat.
  • Cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens and comes to a slow boil, about 2 minutes. Immediately strain the cream through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean container. Discard the vanilla bean or wash and reuse it. Let the pastry cool to room temperature, 10 minutes, and the whisk in the butter. You want the butter to be incorporated without being melted.
  • Cover the pastry cream with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic directly on the surface of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until well chilled, at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.
  • Spoon a good amount of chilled pastry cream into the pre-baked pastry shells. Top with the fruits of your choice.



Recipe was taken from Miette cookbook by Meg Ray with Leslie Jonath

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Penne with Chile - Black Bean Sauce and Garlic-Fried Bread Crumbs










Ingredients:
  • 2/3 cup small dried black beans or 15 oz. canned black beans
  • olive oil, for cooking
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 15 oz. canned plum tomatoes, drained (reserve the juice), seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • a large handful of arugula
  • 8 oz. pasta (I use Penne), freshly cooked
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese shavings, to serve
Garlic-fried bread crumbs:
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
Directions:
  • If using dried black beans, soak them overnight in plenty of cold water. Next day, drain them, rinse well, put in a saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to boil. DO not add salt. Boil hard for 15 minutes, then drain and rinse. If using canned beans, drain and rinse them
  • Cover the base of the medium saucepan with olive oil, then heat gently. Add the carrot, onion, celery, garlic and beans, and stir gently in the oil for 5 minutes, or until vegetables soften. Add the tomatoes and pepper flakes plus cinnamon and stir again. Heat to simmering, cover with lid and cook over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring from time to time. It might be necessary to add a little reserved tomato juice to keep the sauce moist. Add salt and pepper to taste and discard the cinnamon stick.
  • To make the garlic-fried bread crumbs, heat the 3 tablespoons olive oil in the skillet. Put the bread crumbs, rosemary and garlic in a bowl and mix well. When the oil starts to haze, add the bread crumbs mixture and sauté until crisp and golden. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel, let drain and cool.
  • Add the sauce and arugula to the freshly cooked pasta and stir well. Serve topped with garlic-fried bread crumbs and Parmesan shavings.
Note: Recipe was taken from Pasta cookbook, authored by Silvana Franco and Lindy Wildsmith

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Pastrami Filled Chinese Steam Buns


I'm not sure when or where did I acquire this recipe for the Chinese steam buns. I found the old page yesterday tucked in between pages of a cookbook. It was a sweet coincidence that I was looking for something to cook for my kids' lunches at school. With some Pastrami in the refrigerator, I thought that it would work just wonderful. Add some fruits and baby carrots, they'll have nice healthy fulfilling lunches.

Ingredients:
  • 1 package (1 1/4 oz) active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (100-105 F)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • Pastrami or any filling of your choice
Directions:
  • In the small bowl, sprinkle the yeast and sugar onto the warm water, stir with spoon until the yeast dissolves and let sit for about 10 minutes until foamy.
  • In a large bowl, mix flour and yeast mixture. Using hand, knead the dough until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Spray another large bowl with nonstick cooking spray, transfer the dough to the oiled bowl, cover with plastic or with damp towel. Let the dough rise until it triples in size, about 3 hours. Punch down the dough.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough using rolling pin. Roll into a log, then cut into 16 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball. Using your hand, flatten each ball into a 3" diameter circle. Place a teaspoon of the filling in the center and gather up edges to enclose the filling, seal the edges. 
  • Line the steamer rack with parchment paper, fill the bottom part of the steamer with enough water, bring to boil then reduce the temperature to simmer. Place the buns on the lined rack at least 1 inch apart.. Cover and cook until they are fluffy and cooked through.




Monday, January 9, 2012

Pork Chile Verde


Serve with Mexican rice and red + green pepper + onion stir fry.

Ingredients:
  • 4 pounds pork butt or shoulder, trimmed of fat and cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Flour for dredging
  • 1/4 vegetable oil
  • 3 yellow onions
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 green bell peppers, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 Anaheim or Poblano chiles, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2-3 Jalapeños, seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 Tomatillos, roasted, peeled and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried Oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds, crushed and soaked in a scant amount of water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 bunch cilantro leaves, cleaned and chopped
  • 4 cup chicken stock
Directions:
  • Season the pork meat generously with salt and pepper, lightly flour. Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium high heat and brown pork chunks well in small batches, on all sides. Lift pork out of the pan and place in a wide soup pot. Discard fat and place the onions and peppers in the same skillet and sweat over moderate heat, stirring occasionally until limp, about 5 minutes. Add all of the chiles and cook an additional 3-4 minutes, then add the garlic and cook 1-2 minutes more.
  • Add the sautéed vegetables, chopped tomatillos, dried herbs and cilantro to the meat, cover with chicken stock and bring up to a boil and reduce to slight simmer. Cook 2-3 hours uncovered or until the pork is fork tender.
  • Adjust the seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with rice.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Gingerbread Cookie Ornaments


This is what I forgot to post last month due to the craziness of the holiday season. Now that the Christmas tree is neatly packed in its box, I have time to include these pictures in my blog.
Every year, we have sort of our own Christmas tradition by baking gingerbread cookies and hang them on the Christmas tree. It's fun activity to do with the kids, they get to decorate their own ornaments, the tree looks fantastic, and the house smells absolutely incredible with all the spices.

I use my beloved gingerbread cookie recipe (click here), make sure to poke holes in the cookies before baking so we can tie the strings later on. Cool down and decorate with royal icing. 
Important note: after the royal icing dries, leave the cookies uncovered (exposed to air) for at least 3 days before hanging them on the tree. The purpose is to let most of the moisture out of the cookies, leaving them completely dry, thus prevent them from falling off the tree.




Bacon Banana Cookies



So I ended up with a few of ripe bananas in my fruit basket, but I'm tired of banana bread. For the next few days I looked at them, thinking about what to do with them. Until yesterday, when I stumbled across this recipe at epicurious.com, then something clicked in my head. 
Banana and bacon in the cookies? 
It's too good to be true! Must try! Now!
They turned out great. They're not your usual chewy chocolate chip cookie type, they're more cakey and crumbly, but yummy nevertheless. Now I'm just wondering, if I serve these with cold beer, wouldn't that be perfect?

Ingredients:
  • 2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 bananas, mashed (about 1 1/3 cups)
  • 1/2 pound bacon, cooked crisp, chopped
Directions:
  • Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and salt.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, use a hand mixer to cream together butter and 1 cup of sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at the time, until they are fully incorporated. Beat in the vanilla. Add the butter mixture to the flour mixture, then stir in the mashed bananas, beating well after each addition. Fold in the bacon.
  • Stir together the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and the remaining cinnamon.
  • Drop the dough by the heaping tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheet 1 inch apart. Sprinkle generously with the cinnamon-sugar and bake for 10-12 minutes, until slightly brown. Allow the cookies to cool completely before storing in an airtight container. Yield about 30 cookies.


Note: The recipe was taken originally from The Whole Hog Cookbook: Chops, Loin, Shoulder, Bacon, and All That Good Stuff authored by Libbie Summers.