Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Brownies

Greetings from Istanbul! Actually I'm not there quite yet but I'm jetting off this afternoon. I'm v. excited to indulge in some Turkish Delights and in the spirit of treating oneself, here's a post on some really decadent, fudgy brownies.
Start by melting the chocolate chips and butter together in a saucepan over low heat. It's important that you heat them gently so that nothing burns or seizes. As soon as everything is JUST melted, remove from the heat and add the vanilla, salt, and sugar. Whisk until it is smooth and glossy and then set aside to cool for about 10 minutes.
Once the chocolate mixture has cooled, add in the eggs (I opted for the 3-egg batter because I prefer a more cake-like brownie), sift the dry ingredients together, and then combine to form a batter.
Grease and flour the pan (8" x 8" or 9" x 9" pan is ideal) - I opted to use a little more cocoa powder instead of flour - and then add in the batter. The batter will be incredibly thick so use a spatula to smooth and spread it out.
Decadent.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Kalguksu - Knife Noodles

I've got an updated kalguksu recipe, if you're interested. It's been tweaked slightly and the photos are prettier and easier to follow.

Kalguksu literally translated is "knife noodles," and it makes sense because you make dough, roll it out, and cut it with a knife to make noodles and then dump it in some soup. A lot of Korean restaurants will make it using chicken but my childhood kalguksu was cooked in a broth made with anchovies.

Ingredients:
[NOODLES]
1-1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon canola oil (any neutral flavored oil will do)
1/2 cup warm water (I just stuck my water in the microwave for a few seconds - warm to the touch is what you're looking for)
[SOUP]
6 cups water
3 or 4 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon medium-sized dried anchovies**
1 medium-sized potato
1 small zucchini (I ended up using half of a HUGE zucchini)
1 teaspoon salt (or as much as you need to make the soup taste good)

**You're not likely to find these at a normal grocery store so you'll have to venture out to an Asian market to find these. Dried anchovies come in a few sizes - super tiny ones (smaller than 1/2"), medium sized ones (1/2" - 3/4"), and giant ones (>1") - and you can use any of those to make a stock; just use about 1 tablespoon worth. If you don't have anchovies or you don't want to use them, you can use a vegetable stock or chicken stock.
First I mixed the dough together. There isn't a real technique to it - just mix it all together and knead for about 10 minutes until it forms a smooth, elastic ball. Then I cut it into four equal pieces, floured the board and rolling pin, rolled it out to about 1/8" thick, folded it into thirds, and then cut it into noodles - similar to fettuccine. Make sure to use plenty of flour to make sure the noodles don't stick together or get gummy.
To make the stock, I filled a big pot with water, added the anchovies and garlic, and let it come to a boil and then lowered the heat to let the broth simmer for an hour. I cut up the potato and zucchini into sticks and added it to the stock and put the heat on medium high to bring it back up to a rolling boil. After about 10 minutes, when the veggies were tender, I added the noodles to the stock and then added a bit of salt to taste.
Serve piping hot.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Summer Rolls

I have an updated post with prettier photos, a slightly modified recipe, and a recipe page, if you're interested.

Summer rolls (sometimes called spring rolls) are a Vietnamese appetizer that I happen to love. I like making them at home because I can make an endless supply and it won't zap my budget into ashes. They typically cost around $5 per roll, from what I've seen. Here's how I like to make them using just 4 simple components: wrapper, noodles, veggies, and protein.

Ingredients:
rice paper wrappers - check the Asian foods aisle of your grocery store but you might have to go to a specialty Asian supply store
bean threads or Asian vermicelli noodles/glass noodles
broccoli slaw
protein: tofu, shrimp, beef, or chicken - I used chicken for this recipe - 2 chicken thighs to make between 4 to 6 rolls
basil leaves

marinade:
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon vinegar (rice wine is preferable)
2 or 3 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flake

sauce - same components as the marinade except using chili garlic sauce instead of the crushed red pepper flake

**Other ingredients that would be yummy wrapped up in the roll: bell peppers, scallions, cucumber, etc.

What's broccoli slaw? I discovered it while I was in college. It's grated broccoli stems, carrots, and a bit of red cabbage. I think it's awesome to use in the spring/summer rolls because the broccoli doesn't get limp and it adds a nice crunch.
I marinated the chicken thighs for a few hours. The vinegar helps tenderize the meat. If you don't have time to marinade the chicken for v. long, that's okay but if you do have the time, it'll taste better.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Stuffed Mushrooms

This is an amazing appetizer/side dish. It would go great with a steak dinner and it would be equally awesome as a snack during a football game.

Ingredients:
8 oz. package of baby portabella mushrooms (or regular white mushrooms if you prefer)
1 thick slice of cheddar (1 oz) or 1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup roughly chopped blanched spinach (frozen is fine but I cooked my own)
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese (or cream cheese)
2 cloves garlic (not pictured)
1/4 cup finely diced onion
1/4 cup finely diced bell pepper (I used a yellow pepper)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce (or regular hot sauce if that's all you have)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Fat-Free Carrot Cake + Fat-Full Cream Cheese Frosting

When I was younger, my mom, sister, and I would always make carrot cake (from the box) for my birthday. I'm not sure why, since it's hardly my favorite (though I still love it) but it was just a tradition. But since boxed cake mixes contain preservatives and dehydrated carrots, it kind of nullifies the health benefits of carrot cake. It's so easy to make though, so no worries. Here's my recipe for carrot cake.

CAKE:
2 cups grated carrots
1-1/2 cup sugar
1 cup apple sauce (I like all-natural, unsweetened)
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

FROSTING:
1/2 an 8 oz package of cream cheese (1/2 cup)
1/2 an 8 oz. container of mascarpone cheese (1/2 cup)
1/2 stick of butter (1/4 cup)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup walnuts

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Broccolini - easy side dish


Broccolini is one of my favorite vegetables to use as a side dish. If you've never had it before, I recommend that you try it. It's like broccoli with a thinner, more tender stalk and smaller florets. It's v. good for you (calcium, vitamin C, vitamin A, iron) and it's available year round.

Ingredients:
1 bunch broccolini (usually packaged in a bundle of 6 to 8 stalks bound with rubber bands) - I trim the bottoms a little, as they can get tough and dried out where they were cut
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic (2 or 3 cloves)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flake
1 pinch salt + 1 teaspoon salt for the blanching water


Start by boiling a big pot of water, salting it, and then dipping the broccolini in for just a few seconds. What you'll see is that the florets will turn a BRIGHT vibrant green and lose that chalky/ashy color it has when it's raw. 

As soon as that transformation takes place, drain the stalks and either run some cold sink water over it for a few seconds (works great in the winter when the water in the pipes is freezing) or you can dip it in a big bowl of ice water. This blanching and shocking process makes the veggies tender but still crisp and fresh. No one likes mushy, depressing olive green vegetables, do they?

Place the garlic, crushed red pepper flake, and oil in a cold frying pan and then put it on medium heat. Gently heating the ingredients will help draw all the garlic and spicy flavor into the oil. Once the garlic starts to sizzle, add the broccolini to the pan and toss to coat in the oil and flavorings. Sprinkle a little salt over the stalks.

Serve immediately!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Spaghetti Carbonara

Spaghetti carbonara is one of my favorite pasta dishes, when made correctly. If you get it at a chain "Italian" restaurant (e.g. Olive Garden), you'll be presented with a pasta dish smothered in a heavy cream sauce and bacon. I used to think carbonara was kind of disgusting but then I had it in Italy, made with super delicious pancetta and a creamy sauce made out of egg and cheese and I was converted. This was on my New Years Resolution post as an oldie that I love to make but haven't blogged about yet so now I can check that off the list.

Ingredients [serves 4]:
1/2 lb (1/2 box) pasta - I used thick spaghetti; I suggest a long-noodle pasta like spaghetti, linguini, bucatini, or fettuccine
1/4" thick slice of pancetta from the butcher/deli section
1/8 onion, diced - enough to make about 1/4 cup
3 or 4 cloves of garlic, minced (I used my garlic press)
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/3 cup peas, frozen or fresh
1 egg
1/2 cup grated parmegiano cheese

1 teaspoon black pepper (freshly ground, please!)
1 teaspoon salt for the pasta water
First, I chopped up the onion, parsley, and minced the garlic and set them aside.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Fruit Pizza

Remember the dough from yesterday's post? Here's how I used it:

Other Ingredients


Knowing I wasn't going to have a chance to eat much fruit later on, I didn't want to buy whole containers of berries. So instead, I just bought fruit from the salad bar at my local grocery store. That way I could buy just what I needed, no more, no less.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Pizza Dough

I bought some quick rise yeast and wanted to test how quick it really was so I decided to make some pizza dough. This recipe yields enough dough for one thin 12" pizza or one thicker crust 9" pizza
I bloomed the yeast with 1 teaspoon of sugar in 1/2 cup of warm water. Like I always say, the water should not be any warmer than 110 degrees or you will murder your yeast! After just 1 minute (vs. the usual 5 minutes), it was already starting to get a little bubbly and foamy so the yeast was already showing me its power.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Lobster Mac & Cheese

I think lobster mac & cheese is an awesome thing to serve guests. It's a v. affordable way to stretch an expensive ingredient and it's really homey and comforting and great for a winter night meal. **You can remove the lobster from this recipe to make regular mac & cheese.

Ingredients [serves 4]:
1 butter poached lobster (1 whole lobster, 3/4ths stick of butter, 1 tablespoon water)

1/2 lb pasta, which is about half the box - I used shells to go with the seafood theme but I also love using cavatappi to make mac & cheese, or you can use macaroni or any other short cut pasta
1 teaspoon sea salt

2-1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese (10 oz. chunk)
1/2 cup grated asiago cheese (or you can use parmesan or pecorino or any other salty Italian cheese)
1/4 cup brie cheese, cut into chunks (3 oz. chunk)
1-1/2 cups milk
leftover beurre monté
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 small onion, finely diced
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

First, I started by getting a huge pot of water on the stove boiling for the pasta and grating the cheeses.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Butter Poached Lobster

For an updated set of photos and instructions on butter poaching lobster (re: prettier looking post) check out my lobster roll recipe.

Here's #3 from my New Year's Resolution list: butter poached lobster.

Ingredients:
- 1 small whole lobster (or one big lobster tail), raw, NOT cooked
- 3/4 stick of butter, cut into 1/2 tablespoon pieces
- 1 tablespoon water

** I used a fresh live lobster but I was SO scared and squeamish the whole time. I totally regretted it, except for the fact that fresh lobster tastes so much better than frozen or dead-and-sitting-on-ice-for-two-days. I'm still traumatized because you're pretty much handling a giant bug that wiggles its feelers and has creepy crawly legs. Seriously, feel free to use lobster tails if you don't want to have to deal with the creepy-crawly bits.

Step 1: Removing the lobster meat from the shell.
Bring a big pot of water to a boil and add the lobster and turn off the heat. Allow the lobster to sit for three minutes. Drain the pot and shock the lobster in an ice bath or by running cold water over it. You don't want this step to cook the lobster through. You just want to be able to remove the shell easily.
showering beforehand

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sauteed Kale

Happy Valentine's Day! :) This post doesn't seem v. romantic. However, what's more loving than caring about someone's health? Kale is super healthy and really delicious. And even though there's lots of garlic in this dish, two garlics cancel each other out so no worries!

Kale, a member of the cabbage family, is one of my favorite vegetables. It's really nutritious (high in vitamin C, beta carotene, vitamin K, lutein, and calcium) and contains sulforaphane which is a compound which has anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, and antimicrobial properties.

This is my favorite way to prepare kale:

**NOTE: this cooking method can be applied to swiss chard or mustard greens as well.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Kanpoong Shrimp (sweet, spicy, sour shrimp)

I love ordering kanpoongi (sweet, spicy, sour chicken) as an appetizer when I go to eat jjajangmyun (noodles with black bean sauce). I decided to (attempt to) make kanpoong shrimp at home. Here's what I did:

Ingredients
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup corn starch
1 bell pepper, roughly chopped
1 long hot pepper, roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

sauce--
2 tablespoons hot pepper paste
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 cup vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar, something clear and fruity is good)
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon corn starch
2 tablespoons water

2 or 3 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil (for frying)

I started by stirring together the sauce ingredients until combined and smooth.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Japchae (Korean stir-fried noodles)

I have an updated japchae post, if you're interested.

Japchae is a Korean noodle dish made with sweet potato starch noodles (glass noodles) and lots of vegetables, flavored with soy sauce and sesame oil. You can use pretty much any vegetables that work well in a stir fry but I like to choose based on colors to make the dish look pretty.

Ingredients [serves 4]:
1/2 onion
1/2 red bell pepper
1/4 cup baby carrots
4 shitake mushrooms, stems removed
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 cup spinach
handful of glass noodles (around a 2" diameter handful)
1/4 lb sirloin tip steak, sliced (optional)
1/2 tablespoon oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

Prepare sauce - mix the soy sauce, sesame oil, and sugar together.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Jeyuk Bokkeum (Stir-Fried Spicy Pork)

I've got a prettier, updated version of this recipe, if you're interested in better photos and clearer step-by-step instructions!

Ingredients [serves 4]:
1 lb sliced pork belly
4 cloves garlic
1/2" piece of ginger, grated
1/4 cup Korean hot pepper paste
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 onion, sliced
3 scallions, cut into fourths
2 teaspoons oil
1 cup cabbage kimchee, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 14 oz. package of firm tofu (optional)
1 package udon noodles (optioal)

Steak Frites Part Quatre: the steak

So far, I've posted on how I made the sauce, a salad, and fries. Now it's time to present how I made the star of the meal: the steak.

Ingredients:
New York Strip Steak (1 per person) - you can also use sirloin, thick steaks are preferable for those that tend to like their steaks underdone
salt & pepper to season
1/2 tablespoon butter per steak

Luckily for me, these strip steaks were on sale at my grocery store. I looked for a package that had red flesh (if they look pale pink, avoid) and had lots of marbling. Marbling means fat which equals flavor. I pulled the steaks from my fridge about an hour before I was going to start cooking. Bringing the meat to room temperature means that it will cook more easily and evenly. Plus, if you're someone who likes their steaks well done (waste of a steak, if you ask me, but to each his/her own!) then you'll have an easier time cooking it without drying it out if the steak isn't ice cold when it hits the pan and/or oven.
I started by getting an oven safe stainless steel pan on the stove and put the heat on medium high and added in the butter. My pan was big enough to cook two steaks without crowding the pan so I threw in 1 tablespoon. Make sure you don't try and squish in too many steaks because you'll suck all of the heat out of the pan and ruin the quality of the steaks. If your pan was heated thoroughly enough, it should only take a few seconds before the butter melts and starts to brown up. If it takes more than 15 seconds for the butter to melt, your pan is not hot enough and you need to crank it heat. If the butter starts to burn immediately, then obviously your pan is too hot and you need to start over.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Steak Frites Part Trois: the fries

Here's Part Trois (3), how I made the fries:

Ingredients
large Idaho potatoes (1 per person)
3 cups canola oil
salt

I gave the potatoes a good scrub, peeled them, and then cut them into small fries. I like smaller fries because they crisp up faster.
As I was cutting up the fries, I'd toss them in a bowl filled with cold water. The cold water serves two purposes: prevents oxidation so the potatoes don't turn ugly and brown and it also rinses off the starch. Once I finished cutting up all of the potatoes, I let them soak for 5 minutes and then rinsed them in more cold water and then drained them in a colander.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Steak Frites Part Deux: the salad

We used to have six or seven different bottled dressings in our fridge all the time but we don't any more. It's so easy to make your own dressing at home, why buy it? And I find it's better because I tend to get bored of using the same dressing over and over.

This is a simple mustard vinaigrette dressing that I created after having a salad in France with a mustardy dressing. And it goes so well with steak frites because the sharpness cuts the greasiness of the fries and the heaviness of the steak.

Ingredients:
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon hot pepper jelly (substitute marmalade, peach jam, or the like - nothing red though)
1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

3 cups of greens (I used spinach because that's all that looked good in the store but frisee would be so much better)
handful of toasted walnuts
Whisk to combine the ingredients and give the dressing a taste. It should be sweet, savory, tart, and creamy, with just a little bite from the peppers in the pepper jelly.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Steak Frites Part Un: the sauce

I was craving steak frites (steak & fries) the other day so I set out to make it for dinner. A little background information:

L'entrecôte is a French cut of steak: the sirloin opposite the tenderloin. It's hard to find this exact cut of meat in America but it's comparable to a sirloin steak or strip steak. There are a bunch of restaurants, Le Relais de L'Entrecôte and a chain Le Relais de Venise (there's a location in NYC and here's a yelp link for the one I visited in Paris), where they serve just steak frites and your only choices are the doneness of the meat (rare, medium, or well - nothing in between), beverage, and dessert. The steak frites at these restaurants are served with this amazing secret sauce and there seem to be many people out there who try and replicate it (from what I've learned on google).

Here is Part Un (1) of a series of posts: my version of the sauce, which isn't exactly the same, but comes pretty darn close.

Ingredients [makes enough for about 4 steaks, can be made 1 day ahead, refrigerated, and warmed before serving]:
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 shallot, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon mustard
3 sprigs of tarragon
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste (or 1 anchovy)
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
I made my own chicken stock using 2 cups of water, 1 garlic clove, and 3 wing tips (which I had leftover from making wings for the Super Bowl). I brought the ingredients to a boil in a small sauce pan, lowered the heat a bit to a simmer, and let the stock reduce until I had about 1/2 cup of stock.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Baguette

French bread is actually defined by law in France - something about the ingredients (namely: no preservatives) and the way it's baked.

This weekend, I attempted to make my own baguette. The result wasn't as delicious as the chewy, crusty breads I've had in France but it was much more delicious than the pathetic loaves posing as French bread in my local grocery store.

Ingredients:
1-2/3 cups bread flour (high protein, high gluten)
1 teaspoon dry active yeast (half package)
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cups warm water
1 teaspoon oil (something neutral like canola or vegetable)
1 tablespoon cornmeal (to sprinkle on pan)

Time:
30 minutes prep - mixing and kneading dough
1 hour rising time
10 minutes - punch down dough and shape into baguette
1 hour rising time
30 minutes baking time
3 hours, 10 minutes






Start by blooming the yeast. Like I've mentioned before, this step is crucial because you can test the yeast and find out whether or not it's really active. Combine water, yeast, and sugar and let sit for five minutes. If the mixture looks frothy, the yeast is alive. If not, you must start over.





Slowly mix the ingredients using a fork or wooden spoon. Stir just in the center, slowly incorporating more and more flour until the mixture is stiff and can no longer be handled using the fork. (Or you can use a stand mixer if you have one, of course).


Knead the dough by hand until it is no longer sticky and form into a ball.
Add a little oil to a bowl, roll the dough ball in the oil until coated. Score the top of the dough with an 'X' and cover with saran wrap or a moist towel.



Leave the dough somewhere warm and let it rise until it has doubled in size (about 1 hour). The scored 'X' is helpful because it shows how much the dough has risen.


Keep rolling the dough until you have a loaf that's about 12" long with a 3" diameter.














Let the dough rise for another hour until it has doubled in size again.
Prepare a water bath in the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. The water bath will create a steamy environment in the oven which will help the dough's surface stay moist and cause it to rise more. About 15 minutes into baking, remove the water bath.
This step is optional: after removing the water bath (15 minutes into baking), remove the loaf from the oven and brush (or spray) the surface with water. This will help form a hearty crust on the outside of the bread. Put the loaf back in the oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until golden brown.



Now that your bread is baked, what can you do with it? Always slice it using a serrated knife. If you try and use a chef's knife, you'll just squish the bread. Spread some butter on one side of the bread.
Toast the slices in a frying pan until the butter browns slightly. Flip over and let the non-buttered side also get warmed up.
Now you have some buttered toast.
Or you can top it with an egg for some protein.
Or you can top it with some slices of brie cheese and red raspberry jam for a sweet and savory treat.
Bon appetit!
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