Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Onion Chutney

Ah, onion chutney, you are my favorite Indian condiment. Most people will add a dainty spoonful of onion chutney to their plates. I like to slap a generous shovel-ful onto my plate. It's crazy delicious and adds a bright pickled element to every bite of food. Growing up on spicy, pickled kimchi has given me the type of palate that craves that brightness with every meal. Without it, food tastes heavy and bland and boring. I mention this little factoid every time I share something slightly pickly. I apologize for my redundancy.

I shared a red onion chutney recipe previously but I've since changed up my recipe a bit. Plus, the original post was created in the days before I started making recipe pages so I figured I should share a new post.
Ingredients [yields approximately ½ cup chutney]:
½ vidalia onion, diced
½ teaspoon grated ginger
1½ tablespoons brown sugar
1½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon garam masala
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground mustard
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (add more or less depending on your spice preference)

Monday, March 30, 2015

Garam Masala

Okay, so years ago, I couldn't find garam masala spice blend in my grocery store. Recently though, the store's gotten a little more diverse and better at stocking "exotic" ingredients and they sell it now! It's v. exciting and convenient.

However, I'm still in love with making my own garam masala mix. I can customize the heat level and make the blend in small batches as needed. I don't make Indian food all that often so it bums me out to think that the garam masala is sitting in the spice drawer feeling super lonely and sad and unused.

This week is Indian food themed. Garam masala will be used in every recipe that I share from tomorrow through Friday. By the way, I shared this garam masala blend previously but as I've been doing with many of my older posts, I wanted to update it.
Ingredients [yields approximately 4 tablespoons of garam masala]:
2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1½ teaspoons cayenne pepper (add more or less depending on your spice tolerance)

Friday, March 27, 2015

What I Ate: Chicken Kalguksu

I had planned on making Korean chicken porridge (dahk jook) for dinner. I had made the soup and everything but all of a sudden, I had the most insistent craving for noodles. I decided I would make kalguksu noodles and chuck them into the chicken soup. Tra-la! A delicious meal was born.
This is a 'What I Ate' style post so there will be few words and no recipe page at the bottom. However, if you just look at my dahk jook post, you can follow the directions for the soup, and if you just look at my kalguksu post, you can follow the directions for the noodles. Will looking at two posts be worth it? If you love food, then yes, it will be worth it.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

What I Ate: Gruyere Mac & Cheese

My sister says this was the best mac & cheese that I ever made.
I used my normal mac & cheese recipe except I used shallots instead of onion and, of course, gruyere cheese instead of cheddar.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

What I Ate: Truffle Mushroom Cheeseburgers

It's probably quite obvious that I've been on a major burger kick lately. Unfortunately for you (or fortunately if you are a burger lover), I discovered that Trader Joe's sells a truffle cheese and I had to make a truffle burger.
I'm sorry, my truffle obsession is pretty annoying, right? Chef Gordon Ramsay would probably slap me.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

What I Ate: Salsa Chicken

Cheesy salsa chicken is a recipe that was born out of desperation, using the random ingredients I happened to have in the fridge one evening. However, since then, we've been purposely buying the recipe ingredients because we love it.
This time, we chucked everything into tortillas and made burritos. It was awesome.

Monday, March 23, 2015

What I Ate: Chicken Noodle Soup

So it's technically Spring - the official start was on Friday - but it's still cold. I mean, we started the season with several inches of snow, which was just so stupid. Plus, since this is a season known for its rain, I think that chicken noodle soup is super appropriate, at least for the next month or so. I used my go-to recipe except I added in 1/4 grated parmesan (for its delicious salty flavor) and minced parsley instead of the tarragon. Oh, and I decided to use matchstick egg noodles because I was craving Katz Deli's chicken noodle soup, and that stuff is overflowing with delicious skinny egg noodles.
I made a huge pot of this over the weekend so I could eat some immediately and also have some to take to work for lunch. It was delicious. Instead of cornish hens (which looked really unappealing and disfigured at the store that week), I used a whole butchered chicken (giblets and all) to make the stock. And actually, only half of the stock went into making this soup. The other half was used for dinner later in the week.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Fried Mini Oreos

Let's make some carnival food at home.
Ingredients [yields 2 to 3 dozen]:
3 dozen mini oreos
½ cup flour
¼ cup butter
½ cup + ¼ cup milk
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
oil for frying
+ powdered sugar

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

What I Ate: Truffle Eggs & Bacon Jam Toast

I recently bought a little jar of truffle salt and I've been looking for ways to use it in everything.
The first time I used the salt, I just sprinkled some onto a fried egg. It was delicious.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Pasta Aglio, Olio, e Peperoncino

In one month, I'll be in Italy. I know that when I come back, any Italian dish I attempt to make will taste like sawdust. So, in the meantime, I'm sharing a favorite while it still tastes delicious. It's just pasta, olive oil, garlic, and crushed pepper flakes. If you're like me and you're a fan of the way the noodles themselves taste, this is the best preparation of pasta. It's so simple.
Ingredients [serves 2]:
½ lb. pasta
salt for the pasta water
1 tablespoon olive oil (the fruitier, the better)
2 cloves garlic, sliced
½ teaspoon crushed pepper flakes
1 teaspoon minced parsley
2 tablespoons grated parmesan

Friday, March 13, 2015

No Knead Bread

I love experimenting with bread recipes. Every time I come up with a new one, I declare, "This one is my favorite. I'm never making any other type of bread again." And that happened again with today's and I may actually mean it because it's the easiest, most low-maintenance recipe ever but even with that minimal effort, you end up with a supremely delicious loaf of bread. I mean, look at it. How pro does that bread look?
3 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1½ cups warm water
2¼ teaspoons dry active yeast (1 packet)
1 teaspoon sugar

Thursday, March 12, 2015

What I Ate: Truffle Salt Burgers with Bacon Jam

I'm obsessed with truffle salt. I sprinkled a little onto a burger and it came out delicious.
Oh, and I built the burgers on pretzel buns that were toasted in bacon fat and spread with bacon jam.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Spicy Bacon Jam

Vegetarians will not agree, but bacon is the best. Smoky, salty, fatty pork just cannot be beat. Bacon is the most popular ingredient of the decade, of the century, of Pinterest. And why shouldn't it be? It's friggin' delicious. You can wrap it around things, you can cook other ingredients in its rendered fat, you can crumble it onto a salad, you can top a burger with it, you can make it the star of its own sandwich (hello, BLT), you can even make it an ingredient in donuts. Basically, it's v. versatile; so versatile, in fact, that you can make jam with it.

I hadn't heard of bacon jam until I had lunch at Butter. It was a featured ingredient in the Butter Burger 2.0 and it totally made the meal for me. Since I'm an insane burger lover, I decided I had to make my own bacon jam. For me, the only thing missing from Butter's bacon jam was some heat. I decided to make a spicy variation and it turned out so delicious that I had to share the recipe here. It's too good to keep to myself.
Ingredients [yields about 1.5 cups of bacon jam]:
¾ lb. bacon (about 15 slices)
1 onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon crushed pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon ancho chili powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1½ tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons molasses
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
½ cup water

Monday, March 9, 2015

Vanilla Bean Tofu Cheesecake

This past weekend was so amazing. It was a balmy 30F. I walked the dog in just a fleecy hoodie and I barely shivered. I also felt tremendously productive. I managed to make and document three blog posts' worth of content and I finished reading Gone Girl. Admittedly, I was a little disappointed with how it ended - it was so dramatic throughout that the ending seemed anticlimactic - but it was still a great read. If anyone has any book recommendations, send them my way. I've always been in love with reading but even more so, now that I can download anything I want with the tap of a finger.

That's enough small talk, I think. Let's talk about today's cheesecake. I hadn't made (or eaten) cheesecake in a long time (like years) but then, I watched that episode of Friends where Chandler and Rachel obsess over a cheesecake from Mama's Little Bakery (delivered from Chicago, IL to their apartment instead of Mrs. Braverman's). When Rachel describes the cake she says, "It had a buttery, crumbly, graham cracker crust, with a very rich yet light, cream cheese filling… Wow! My whole mouth just filled with saliva!" It gave me an automatic craving for cheesecake.

I shared a tofu cheesecake recipe three years ago and I thought it was time for an update. Prettier photos, adjusted recipe, you know, the works. You may be thinking, "Tofu? Gross!" But the tofu just adds a lightness to the filling. It's how you achieve that "very rich yet light" texture.
Ingredients [yields 1 regular 8" round, 4 regular 4" mini rounds, 2 thin 8" rounds, or 8 thin 4" mini rounds]:
16 oz. silken tofu, room temperature
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1 tablespoon orange zest (or lemon zest)
1 vanilla bean, scraped
3 eggs, room temperature
⅔ cup sugar
¼ cup flour
pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8.8 oz. package Biscoff cookies or ½ package Biscoff cookies and ½ package chocolate wafers
¼ cup butter, melted
butter for greasing
*If you plan on making thinner cheesecakes (less cheesecake filling) double the amount of crust

Friday, March 6, 2015

Vietnamese-Style Meatballs

After work, I drive home and make dinner. Luckily, my commute is short because otherwise, I would never want to slave over a stove after a long day's work. Some days, I look forward to cooking because most of the time, I think it's fun and relaxing. But some days, whether it's due to a long day at work or lack of sleep or just plain old crankiness, I dread cooking.

Today's dish is something I slapped together when I was feeling particularly blah. It's a simple meatball dish served over rice noodles and it was inspired by my favorite vermicelli noodles served by my favorite Vietnamese restaurant.
1¼ lbs. ground beef
¼ cup grated carrot
¼ cup grated onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced lemongrass
1 scallion, chopped
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons tamari
1 egg
¼ onion, diced
½ teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons oil (canola, vegetable, corn, something neutral)
+ scallion
+ cilantro
+ rice sticks
+ pickled carrot & daikon

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Popcorn at Home

As a kid, the only time I ever had popcorn was when we went to the movie theater, and even then, it was rare. The rarity was due to my parents' frugality. Once in a while, my mom would buy the microwaveable stuff but she wasn't the biggest fan of microwaving food. She said it was unnatural and that too many chemicals were surely involved to make the processed food microwaveable. I guess she's passed on that paranoia because I didn't want to get a microwave when we redid our kitchen.

But, a lack of a microwave doesn't mean a lack of popcorn. I bought a $10 air popper and it's been pretty awesome. My only complaint is that sometimes, it gets a little overexcited and shoots popcorn everywhere but my dog seems to love it.
Ingredients [yields 10 to 12 cups air-popped popcorn]:
½ cup popping corn
¼ cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
+ seasonings

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Orange Darjeeling Moscow Mule

I found copper mugs for cheap at Christmas Tree Shops and bought them because I thought they were pretty and would look nice in our glass cabinets. And then, I decided I need to make a cocktail so that I would have a reason to feature them on my blog. The most well-known reason for using a copper mug is to make a Moscow mule.

The Moscow mule has a fun, but murky history. Murky meaning that there are several stories out there. However, the gist is that there was someone trying to popularize (or get rid of a stock of) vodka, someone else trying to do the same thing with ginger beer, and a third party who contributed the copper mugs. All three came together to form the Moscow mule.

I'm not sharing a traditional Moscow mule because there's no fun in that. I came up with this variation because I thought it would be yummy and it totally is.
Ingredients [for one]:
2 oz. vodka (or more if you're a lush)
2 oz. orange juice (freshly squeezed)
4 oz. hot water
1 tablespoon darjeeling
2 teaspoons marmalade
orange slice

Monday, March 2, 2015

Coconut Cake

I think that with yesterday's snow, this cake fits right in with the weather. The shredded coconut looks like snow, right?

I'm really picky when it comes to coconut cake. I once had a coconut cupcake (from a shop that actually won an episode of Cupcake Wars) that ended up being a vanilla cupcake with vanilla frosting. The only coconut component was the shredded coconut embedded into the frosting. It was terrible. I mean, it was edible and tasted fine but it was not a coconut cake. I like my coconut cake to be coconutty enough to be recognizable as coconut-flavored, light and fluffy to qualify as really good cake, and just sweet enough be dessert and not bread.

The first recipe I ever posted was a coconut cake. If that doesn't prove how much I love coconut cake, I don't know what does. I've since altered that recipe, ever so slightly. I reduced the amount of sugar and switched over to cake flour to make sure the cake meets the criteria I listed above.
Ingredients [yields 2 x 8" layers or 4 x 4" layers]:
3 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, room temp (2 sticks)
½ cup sugar
16 oz. can cream of coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 eggs, separated
1 cup buttermilk
+ 1 cup coconut flakes (optional)
+ 1 cup coconut custard (I use the custard I use for my coconut pie)
+ 2 cups whipped cream
+ ½ cup shredded coconut
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