Sunday, December 4, 2016

Homemade mayo

Homemade Mayo

1 pastured egg (room temperature)
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp mustard powder
3/4 cup avocado oil
Paprika (optional)
Sea salt

Put pastured egg, apple cider vinegar and mustard in a glass jar wife enough for an immersion blender. While blending, drizzle in avocado oil. Add salt and paprika to taste. Refrigerate and used within a week.

Alternative variations:
Chipotle mayo: add 1 - 2 tsp chipotle paste or chipotle in adobo sauce
Garlic mayo: use garlic infused avocado oil (Heat avocado oil with 1 or 2 garlic cloves for 20 minutes. Remove the garlic and let oil cool to room temperature before using).

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Mushroom Risotto

Mushroom Risotto
Since I moved away, I no longer eat rice, mainly jasmine, on a daily basis. While the types of starches I had diversified, I found myself on many occasions craving rice. Last night was risotto. I happen to have about 10 crimini mushrooms, some leftover dry white wine (Sauvignon blanc), chicken stock and arborio rice. I also had some duck confit from a few weeks back so I used duck fat instead of butter and supplemented my stock with some duck gelatin (when you collect drippings from roasting a duck or chicken, there is a golden layer of concentrated flavor under the fat that solidifies as it chills - I freeze and use it for things like rice or veggies). The duck fat and gelatin were a bit salty since they were from the duck confit so I minimized the salt I added. After adding the Parmesan cheese, it was just salty enough for me. 

Ingredients (enough for 3 - 4 side portions or 2 full portions)
2 tbsp duck fat (or butter)
2 tspb olive oil
2 cups fresh crimini mushrooms, finely chopped 
3 cups vegetable or chicken stock (I prefer low sodium)
1/2 cup dry white wine (like, but not limited to, Sauvignon blanc)
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove
1 tspb parsley
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

1) Heat the duck fat (or butter) in a skillet over medium high heat. Add mushrooms and cook for 3 - 5 minutes until soft. Season to taste, remove from heat and set aside. 
2) Bring stock to a simmer over medium heat then reduce to low heat. You'll be adding this to the rice over time so you'll want to keep it warm without reducing the volume much. When I purchase shiitake mushrooms, I freeze the stems for stock as they add a nice earthy flavor. This would be a great addition while the stock simmers - just don't add the stems to the risotto. I didn't add any this time and it tasted fine.
3) Add the olive oil to a stock pot (2 quart was sufficient for me) and heat to medium. Add onions and garlic and sautee until soft but not brown. 
4) Add the rice to the onion/garlic mix and stir to thoroughly mix (1 - 2 minutes).
5) Add the white wine and stir until it is absorbed.
6) Add the stock 1/2 cup at a time and stir frequently to prevent sticking. Wait until each addition is absorbed prior to adding the next. After 25 - 35 minutes, when the rice is tender but not soft, add the mushrooms, Parmesan cheese, parsley and season to taste. 

I couldn't help but sample a bit while reheating the duck confit
I served my risotto with a delicious (and somewhat salty duck leg) and some honey roasted baby carrots.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Pearl Meatballs

Pearl Meatballs

Last week I decided I wanted pearl meatballs, specifically the ones my mom makes. Unfortunately my mom lives 850 miles away so the only way to satisfy my craving was to prepare them myself. If you're unfamiliar with pearl meatballs, they are steamed pork meatballs which were rolled in glutinous (aka sweet aka sticky) rice. The rice becomes translucent after it's cooked so the meatball appears to be studded in pearls. I didn't have short grain glutinous rice on hand so my my meatballs lack the pearl studded look. My favorite part is the bottom of the meatball where the rice takes on the meaty juices from the pork. This recipe requires a bit of prep time as the glutinous rice must be soaked for at least 2 hours before use. If I make this on a week night, I'll soak the rice before I leave for work in the morning.

Pearl Meatballs (~40 meatballs at 1 - 1-1/2")
2 cups of glutinous rice (preferably short grain, sometimes labeled as "sushi rice") soaked in water for 2 hours
1-1/2 lb ground pork
3 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp rice wine
2 tsp sesame oil
2 sprigs of green onion, finely chopped
4 shiitake mushrooms, finely chopped (I've used both fresh and dried)
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 medium eggs
1-2 tbsp minced ginger
2 tbsp cornstarch
salt and pepper to taste
~ 1.5 cups water

1) Soak rice for 2 hours. If using dried shiitakes, rehydrate with water (at least 45 minutes). After mushrooms are rehydrated, remove stems (I save these for soups) and finely chop.
2) Mix cornstarch with ~1/4 cup of cold water, soy sauce, rice wine, and eggs. Add remaining ingredients and additional cup of water and mix well. Allow mixture to rest 30 minutes. The mixture should feel moist but firm enough to form balls. Note: After making my mixture, I always heat up a frying pan and cook 1/2 - 1 tsp of the meat mixture for a taste test. This way I can adjust the flavor to my liking before rolling out and steaming all my meatballs.
3) Drain excess liquid from rice and lay rice out onto a plate.
4) Roll meat mixture into 1 - 1-1/2 inch balls. Roll the meat balls on the rice plate to coat.
5) Bring water for steaming to a boil. Once the water is boiling, set the plated meatballs in the steamer rack and steam for 30 minutes. Alternatively if you have a small steaming rack or a steaming insert for your rice cooker, the meatballs can be cooked concurrently with the rice. Just cook some veggies and the meal is complete!

Pumpkin Crepes

Pumpkin Crepes

It's been a few months since I've posted. Life gets busy and sometimes it's hard to pick things up after you've put them down. A while back when we had less than 8 hours of daylight, I had a craving for pumpkin crepes. Having picked up a can of pumpkin the week before, I thought I'd try making them for Sunday brunch. It's difficult for my husband and I to eat any meal other than dinner together because of work and gym schedules so Sunday is brunch day. It's just nice to sit down and have breakfast together without having to run off to work, whether that breakfast is a simple dish of scrambled eggs at home or a rare venture out.

I initially wanted traditional crepes with a pumpkin cream cheese filling but seeing as I was out of cream cheese, I opted for pumpkin flavored crepes. I used the crepe recipe from two tarts and had great success. The recipe requires the batter to sit for 30 minutes, which was time spent making a pumpkin spiced whipped cream, sea salt caramel sauce, and of course cleaning up the mess I was making. 

Pumpkin Crepes (10 - 12 crepes)

1 cup of pumpkin puree
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup milk
lukewarm water (recipe calls for 1/2 cup - I add as needed after batter rested)
4 eggs
1 tbsp unsalted butter (recipe calls for 4 tbsp in batter plus more for coating the pan - I felt the first batch was a bit too oily for my tastes)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt

1) Two Tarts instructs you to put everything in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. I mixed all of my dry ingredients together, and then slowly added milk, then eggs and finally the pumpkin puree. Let the batter stand for 30 minutes.
2) Mix the batter and adjust its consistency, as needed with lukewarm water. If you've never made crepes, the batter consistency is thinner than pancakes
3) Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat (I use an electric crepe pan). Coat the pan with butter and our about 1/4 cup of batter into the pan. Immediately lift pan and rotate to coat the pan with a thin, even layer of batter. Cook until the top is set and carefully flip with a spatula. Cook until the underside is lightly browned.
4) Remove from heat and dress with toppings. I drizzled some sea salt caramel sauce with a dollop of fresh whipped cream with pumpkin spices.

Note on pumpkin spiced whipped cream:
This is one of those things I literally throw together on a whim. I start with 3/4 cup of heavy whipping cream which I whip until I get stiff peaks. I then fold in about 1 tsp of cinnamon, 1/2 tsp of nutmeg, 1/4 tsp ground cloves and 1/2 tsp of ginger. I opted not to use sugar to balance out the sweetness from the pumpkin and the salted caramel sauce. This is definitely one of those taste and adjust to your liking toppings.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Loaded chocolate chip cookies

Loaded chocolate chip cookies

It seems strange to say this but I'm not a huge chocolate chip cookie fan. My mother never made them when I was growing up. When I was given a warm gooey chocolate chip cookie right out the oven, I was satisfied but never blown away by it. Several years ago I read an article in the New York Times about baking the best chocolate chip cookies from scratch. They key was to let the dough sit for over 24 hours to allow the sugars time to dissolve into the butter. I was intrigued. Perhaps this would yield a chocolate chip cookie I would love. Though curious, I never tried the NY Times recipe.

Years later I stumbled upon the "perfect" chocolate chip recipe in Cooks Illustrated and couldn't say no. I followed the recipe exactly and got rave reviews. The cookies were crisp on the outside but moist and chewy on the outside. During one prep, I realized I didn't have enough semi-sweet chocolate chips and rather than make a trip to the store, decided to add things I had in the pantry. White chocolate, dark chocolate, toffee bits, walnuts went in instead of the semi-sweet chocolate chips. Top with coarsely ground sea salt and some addictive cookies were born.

I love Cooks illustrated as they explain why certain steps and ingredients result in differences in the final results like using more brown sugar that granulated sugar gives the cookie a chewier texture than using equal amounts of both sugars and browning the butter enhances the flavor. The recipe from Cooks Illustrated with my comments and modifications in blue is below.

1-3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda (confirm it's not expired)
14 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar (light brown sugar is ok. If your sugar is )
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1-1/4 cups semi sweet chocolate chips or chunks (I basically use 1-1/4 cups total of whatever chips I want to add to the cookies with relatively equal amounts of each)
3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted (optional)
coarse sea salt

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and head to 375°. Line 2 large (18" x 12") baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk the flour and baking soda together in a medium bowl and set aside.
2. Heat 10 tbsp butter in a 10" skillet over medium-high until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling the pan constantly until butter is dark brown and has a nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to a large heatproof bowl. Stir the remaining 4 tbsp of butter until completely melted.
Browned butter - if you use a nonstick skillet, you can't really tell when it starts to brown
3. Add both sugars, salt, vanilla to the bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Repeat the process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is think, smooth and shiny, Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about one minute. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts, if using, giving the dough a final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.
Sugar, vanilla, salt, and butter mixture

Initial whisk with egg and egg yolk
Final whisk with egg and egg yolk. It is slightly shinier than the initial whisk but the key thing to note is it's much smoother
Dough prior to chocolate chip addition
4. Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tbsp (or use #24 cookie scoop). Arrange 2" apart on prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle some coarse sea salt on top - don't go too crazy. 

A 3 tbsp cookie is a nice sized cookie. If you're looking for a nice balance of both, I'd stick with the recommended 3 tbsp portion. I've tried decreasing the portions to 1 and 2 tsbp sizes to maximize the number of cookies. Sometimes 16 cookies just isn't enough for a gathering. Keeping the same temperature and reducing the baking time by 1 - 2 minutes gave me a more crisp cookie while decreasing the oven temp to 350ยบ and making until slightly golden brown gave a more chewy cookie. 
I usually sprinkle a bit of coarse sea salt on top 
5. Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft (10 to 14 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.
Fresh out of the oven
The edges are slightly crispy but the center is soft and chewy

Monday, May 27, 2013

Hefeweizen Cupcakes

Hefeweizen Cupcakes

My husband and I found ourselves with a lot of beer leftover from our reception, which was nearly a month ago. Rather than drinking all the beer (we did give a decent amount away to friends and family), I've been incorporating it into my cooking and baking with mixed results. My beer bread turned out delicious but my blueberry beer cinnamon rolls weren't very cinnamon roll-like. I managed to salvage my second attempt by turning them into a blueberry beer coffee cake. Today I decided to try hefeweizen beer cupcakes! I've made beer cupcakes before using stout and chocolate but not hefeweizen. There were a few recipes out there but I chose one from the Pyramid brewery since I had Pyramid hefeweizen.

I was pleasantly surprised with the cupcakes. They were very moist and only slightly sweet. I personally don't like the super sweet cupcakes or frosting. I didn't have any cardamon on hand so I substituted cinnamon in without any problems. I would definitely make these again with cardamon to see how different it tastes. As for the frosting, I ran out of lemons so I substituted with some orange zest. The recipe from Pyramid is below with my notes in blue.

Cupcake Ingredients
6 tbsp butter, melted
2 eggs, room temperature4 oz buttermilk6 oz Pyramid Hefeweizen2 tsp vanilla1 cup brown sugar2 cups flour1 tsp cardamom (didn't have cardamon but substituted cinnamon)1 tsp baking soda

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Melt butter and set aside to cool down.
3) Whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, beer, vanilla in one bowl, and mix together the sugar, flour, cardamom, and baking soda in another.
4) Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in two parts, using a mixer to combine. Add the melted butter and combine.
5) Pour batter into cupcake cups and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool.

Lemon Cream Cheese Butter cream Ingredients
4 oz butter (room temp.)
4oz cream cheese (room temp.)
1 tsp lemon extract 
(didn't have lemon extract so I added ~1tbsp of orange juice and zest of 1 orange - husband said frosting slightly remind him of a creamsicle but thought it tasted ok with the cupcake)
3 cups powdered sugar 
(I probably used about 1-1/2 cups since I hate overly sweet frosting)
3 drops yellow food coloring 
(I skipped this since I used the orange zest)

1) Cream butter and cream cheese with mixer until smooth. Slowly add the powdered sugar about a ½ cup at a time. When mixed add flavor and food coloring.
I originally tried a citrus whipped cream topping but it was a bit too light for the cupcake.
Frosted with orange butter cream with bits of orange zest
Nice moist cupcake... would probably work as a layered cake

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Mango banana waffles

Mango Banana Waffles

I woke up this morning craving waffles but realized I had 1 ripe banana and several ripe mangoes in the house. Would mango banana waffles work? A quick internet search said yes. There were indeed others making mango waffles, some with bananas. The concept was simple - add mango and banana to waffle batter, add batter to waffle maker, and voila! Mango banana waffles!

I decided to use the recipe posted on My Love for Cooking as a starting point. It had good reviews and the waffle batter was similar to those I've used in the past. I did make a few minor adjustments (which I've indicated in blue). This recipe gave me ~4 large waffles using ~1 cup of batter per waffle with my waffle iron.

1¼ cup All purpose flour
½ cup White Whole wheat flour
3 Tbsp Ground Flax Meal (I didn't have flax meal and though almond flour would add a nice nutty dimension but I was out of that too so I substituted an equal amount of oat flour)
1 Tbsp Baking Powder
⅛ tsp Salt
1⅔ Cup Milk (I suggest Coconut)
2 Tbsp Sugar, Brown Sugar or honey (I used raw agave nectar - no particular reason)
3 Tbsp Vegetable oil
2 Large Eggs
2 Champagne Mangoes (or one regular one)
1 ripe banana
butter or cooking spray for waffle iron, if needed
Powdered sugar, syrup, and/or whipped cream for waffles (per your tastes - I thought it was sweet enough with the fresh fruit on top)

1) Heat up your waffle iron per the manufacturer's instructions.
2) Wash, peel and dice both mangoes. Set aside half for garnish. (I diced one mango and sliced the second for garnishing)
3) Dice 1/2 of the banana and slice the remaining half for garnish. Alternatively you can dice the whole banana.
I thought about making a puree for more uniform fruit flavor throughout the waffle but wanted to get bites of fruit chunks instead.
4) Combine the flours, flax meal, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
5) Combine the milk, sugar/honey, eggs and vegetable oil in a separate bowl. I find it easier to mix the eggs first, and then add the other ingredients.
6) Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients until combined. Do not over-mix. The batter is about the consistency of pancake batter, maybe slightly thicker.
7) Fold in the diced mango (just 1 mangoes-worth) and diced banana.
8) Add the recommended amount of batter to your waffle iron. Waffle is done with golden brown. Mine took ~2 minutes per side. (I use this time to clean up the dirty bowls and make coffee).
9) Garnish with remaining diced mangoes, sliced bananas and whatever you'd like to top your waffles with. I do suggest tasting the waffle before adding any powdered sugar or syrup. I used fairly ripe mangoes and bananas so the waffle was sweet enough for me as is.

Since I was making breakfast for myself, I garnished with extra fruit and ate what I didn't use.
Waffle texture was crisp on the outside and spongy on the inside
I love getting those warm gooey chunks of banana
Tasty bits of mango