Wednesday, June 26, 2013

WW: Chinese Indian Vegetarian Fried Rice

Wok Wednesdays wokking thru Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge
by Grace Young

This is one of the easiest stir-fries so far that we have made. It uses few ingredients which means short prep time and easy cleanup. It takes even less time if you use leftover rice.

It is known (after reading SFTTSE) that for great fried rice, you use day-old, cold rice so your finished dish does not come out gummy and clumped together. However, this recipe goes against that advice. It uses fresh, hot, basmati rice (I made it ahead and used cold). Basmati rice is drier and less sticky than your typical long-grained rice, so it can be used immediately.

This is not your typical fried rice, at least not what I am used to having. It has no pork (hence vegetarian in the title), peas, or egg. The recipe calls for green onion, carrot, and green beans. I also added some edamame for protein since I was serving this as our main meal and not as a side dish. You toss the rice and vegetables with a mixture of soy sauce, ketchup and chili garlic sauce - this adds a bit of a punch.

At first bite, I thought - eh, it's OK. However this grew on me before I finished the bowl and it is actually quite tasty.  Hubby said a couple of times while he was chowing down, "this has some heat to it" and it does. He was also very proud of himself for finishing the whole bowl using chopsticks - something he has been trying hard to accomplish. Good job hon!

Really, the only Indian influence in this dish is the basmati rice and maybe the heat level.

Next time, and I will make fried rice again for it is one of Andy's favorite Chinese dishes - I will not use the edamame or the green beans. I did not care for them - I'll add peas and maybe even some egg.

Success meter (1-3): 3

The reason behind the poor quality photos above, aside from the fact that it is raining here in our first few days of summer - which equates to poor lighting - is my camera stopped working due to lens failure. Had to use Andy's phone camera. This happened three months ago on a hike, I've been lucky it lasted this long!

One of the rules of the Wok Wednesdays group is we are asked not to post the recipes here on our blog. If you would like the recipe, you will find it on page 265 in Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge, which you can purchase at your local bookstore or find it at your local library. I highly recommend purchasing the book - you won't be disappointed. 
Wok Wednesdays is an online cooking group. If you would like to join us or just want more information, click here or visit us on Facebook.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Book Ninety-Nine: Great Coffee Cakes

by Carole Walter

There are so many delectable sounding baked goods in this book (Country Cherry Honey Scones, Apple Walnut Strudel, Pineapple Cheese Braid and Macadamia Fudge Squares), and this would not have been my first choice (more than likely I would not have chosen it at all), except I had a few bananas that desperately needed to be used up.

I was actually looking for a quick banana bread recipe - which I have one that I like a lot, but thought if I could knock out another book from the shelf, I would be a happy camper; enter Banana Chocolate Chip Cake.

I was still in the mind-frame of "quick" as I was pluggin' away with this recipe. This is not quick - not terribly labor intensive - but a bit more than I was hoping for and used up a lot more dishes and equipment.

First you butter and flour your pan, and set aside. Mix your dry ingredients, and set aside. Mix the puréed banana and yogurt (which you use your food processor and a strainer), and set aside. Mix the butter and sugar in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer - yep - a lot of dishes.

I loved this batter from the beginning. First I thought, what a pain to add the sugar a couple of tablespoons at a time, but it turned out so smooth and fluffy. Then after adding the dry and wet ingredients (alternately), it had a soft, light, pillowy texture to it.

The recipe calls for banana extract - I have never seen, let alone hear of banana extract. I omitted this, as well as the vanilla extract (in error). Still I thought the cake had a nice light banana flavor. I think if you use really ripe bananas as I did, you don't need the banana extract, unless you want a strong banana flavor.

In no way is this heavy like your typical banana bread. This has a soft, airy, light texture to it. However, if I was to make it again, I would bake it in the middle of the oven, rather than the bottom third of the oven. The bottom of the cake (which is the top when turned out of the pan) was more browned than I like and was a bit dry. I even took it out ten minutes sooner than the lower suggested cooking time. I would probably have taken it out earlier if I were in the kitchen at the time.

Aside from the top of the cake being a bit dry, which is easily fixed with a shorter cooking time, I really enjoyed this, and I hope my sister's co-workers will too.

Success meter (1-3): 3

I also have her Great Cookies cookbook which I love. I'll probably be posting on this book closer to the Christmas holiday. 

She has you sift the flour before measuring.

I did not have mace, so I substituted nutmeg. "Mace is a product of the Myristica fragrans tree - mace is the exterior web-like membrane that surrounds the nutmeg. Mace is normally sold in dried, ground form and used in many cuisines including Indian, Asian and Europe." -(source)

You purée the banana with lemon juice then pass it through a medium-gauge strainer to remove the seeds of the banana. (I'm thinking you can skip the straining part - I would next time- how heavy can they be?)

Butter and sugar mixed until lightened and smooth.

The recipe calls for mini chocolate chips. I was going to use walnuts until I found an opened bag of chocolate chips (very rarely do they make it into baked goods...) and a small block of chocolate from another recipe that I was unable to make (could not find dark chocolate liqueur). I tossed them into the food processor to make them more "mini" like - the block chocolate had no problem breaking up, but most of the chips stayed whole - hmmm.

The "bottom" of the cake looks beautifully golden.

The top, a bit more browned then I like.

Because I like it.

Carole instructs you to spoon the glaze over the cake. I opted to place the glaze in a baggie and snip a corner and drizzle the glaze in as much as uniform lines as I could.

The drippings from the glaze is almost as pretty as the cake!

The center of the cake is delicious. With a shorter cooking time, the whole cake will be delicious.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

TWD: Cheese and Tomato Galette

Tuesdays with Dorie baking through Baking with Julia
by Dorie Greenspan
Contributing Baker: Flo Braker

This is an incredibly quick and easy recipe- so easy that you can make a few to serve at a gathering, each with a different filling. I made the recipe as instructed, though this is one of those recipes begging for optional fillings of unlimited possibilities. (I did add a sprinkling of salt and pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil before baking.)

The filling for this recipe is made up of Monterey Jack & mozzarella cheeses, basil, and tomatoes, a common flavor combination. You see it as caprese salad, margarita pizza, and caprese skewers to name a few, sans the Monterey Jack cheese.

At first bite I thought this tasted like your typical pizza, though bite after bite, I realized it was really great, fresh pizza. I am, however, undecided as to whether I like the crust or not. The dough is made with cornmeal which gives it a gritty bite, though it is soft and flaky at the same time. This is the same dough that was used for the berry galette the group made back in August; I used leftover pie dough I had in the freezer. I'm sure I would not have cared for this dough for the berry galette. I do still have half the dough in the freezer to give it another go to see if I truly like it or not. I'll let you know.

Other than being undecided about the crust, this was an easy, flavorful, light dinner. I served it alongside one of my favorite salads - Arugula Strawberry Salad.

Success meter (1-3): 3

Why is it for the life of me, I cannot roll out a circle of dough, except when I need to roll out a rectangular shape as I did here.

It did turn out round in the end, and if it didn't, that would be OK too, for galettes are supposed to be rustic looking.

I'm sure there will be many different versions of this galette made by the many talented bakers of this group. You can find the links for their delicious creations on the TWD site; look for the LYL: Cheese and Tomato Galette link.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

WW: Hong Kong-Style Mango Ginger Chicken

Wok Wednesdays wokking through Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge
by Grace Young

When I saw this recipe on the schedule, excitement ensued. I love mangoes! Especially the manila mango which I used here. They must be the same type that Grace mentions in her book, her favorite being the ataulfo mango, for they too are buttery, and sweeter than the typical large red/orange mango you find in the local grocery store.

 manila mango

As you can see I once again switched out the green bell pepper for red. I am not very fond of the green bell; though I do use it when I make chili. I also mistakenly purchased skinless-boneless chicken thighs instead of breasts out of habit. We eat a lot of grilled chicken and prefer the more tender, moister, thigh meat over breast.

However, you will never have dry, tough, chicken breasts in any of your stir-fries again if you follow Grace's recipe for velveted chicken. Your meat is marinated in egg white, cornstarch, rice wine, and oil, and after a thirty minute chill in the refrigerator, it is par-boiled for a very short time in oiled water. It's an amazing process - you won't believe how tender and moist this makes the chicken.

You can read all about velvet stir-frying on page one-hundred of her book. This process not only works on chicken, but shrimp, scallops, beef, and pork as well. If you don't already have this fabulously awesome cookbook, you'll want to purchase a copy soon and give this technique a try, as well as stir-frying up other delicious recipes she shares.

The only change I would make the next time I make this, is to add extra red pepper flakes - I like my dishes on the spicy side.

Wok on my friends...

Success meter (1-3): 3

This deliciousness is comprised of ginger, garlic, red onion, bell pepper, chicken, salt, chicken broth, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, rice wine, cornstarch, and delectable mango.

One of the rules of the Wok Wednesdays group is we are asked not to post the recipes here on our blog. If you would like the recipe, you will find it on page 124 in Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge, which you can purchase at your local bookstore or find it at your local library. I highly recommend purchasing the book - you won't be disappointed. 

Wok Wednesdays is an online cooking group. If you would like to join us or just want more information, click here or visit us on Facebook.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

TWD: Savarin with Cointreau Sabayon

Tuesdays with Dorie baking through Baking with Julia
by Dorie Greenspan
Contributing Baker: David Blom 

The Savarin. A spongy (equates to dry) cake that gets soaked in a simple syrup (sugar water) and served with berries and cream, or anything else that suits your personal preference.

This cake is made from a baba dough minus the raisins. I found this dough difficult to work with while filling the mini tins I had ended up using. My original plan was to make one large cake, but it did not appear to be enough dough to fill the pan.

This particular recipe has you soak the cake in plain simple syrup and give it a sprinkle of poire eau-de-vie (pear brandy) before serving. I was not about to buy a whole bottle of brandy to use only three tablespoons. My first choice was to substitute Grand Marnier which I always have on hand - until today. I do have a bottle of Cointreau - this will work - they are both orange flavored.

I was not fond of the texture these cakes had; even after a 30-plus minute soaking they still had a dryness/crumbly feeling to them, though they were moist at the same time, an odd texture.

I used Emily Luchetti's recipe of an orange flavored simple syrup to soak the cakes. This gave the cakes a bright and sweet taste, with orange flavored undertones. I think using only plain sugar-water syrup these would have been quite bland, as a handful of recipes in this book have been. I also served it with Emily's Sabayon sauce which is heavenly; I literally licked the plate clean.

Without the addition of Emily's simple syrup and sabayon sauce, I would have rated this a one. 

Success meter (1-3): 2+ due to the texture-

No way is this enough dough to fill the pan I planned on using. The book does not specify what size  pan to use. I was going to go with a ten-inch flan pan and decided I better use the mini tins.

The recipe instructs you to use clarified butter to coat your pan with. I was not in the mood to boil my butter and separate the fat solids. Just popped some butter in the microwave and used that. Worked fine.

A very sticky, somewhat elastic(y) dough. Not fun to work with when you are filling twenty four mini tins. The dough did not want to release from the tip of the piping bag. When I tried, it pulled the dough right back out of tins. I had to squeeze the dough away from the tip, then it stuck like crazy to my fingers. Wish I had thought to use scissors or to butter my fingers as suggested in Stars Desserts.

Once all the tins are filled, they were covered with another half-sheet pan and allowed to rise for thirty minutes or until the dough fills the molds. (I read that at this point you can allow the second rise to happen overnight in the refrigerator.)

Well, they did not fill the molds (other than the 4-inch pan), but they did poof up slightly.

The finished cakes are reminiscent of madeleines. Spongy and dry. This is why they are soaked in a simple syrup (this can be flavored to your liking).

Just for a little perspective. All the little cakes fit into a large Ziplock bag - with room to spare. This is supposed to serve six people? The baba dough recipe said it would serve eight. I was thinking I don't think so. In the end I think three mini cakes per person would be plenty; after all we do not need to be gluttons do we?

 Soaking away in a simple syrup made up of water, sugar, lemon juice, Cointreau and orange juice.

The leftover sabayon sauce and berries were heavenly served over pancakes.

Note: I had made the cakes two days before soaking and assembling them. After their soaking I then had leftovers a day or two later, and I think they actually improved in flavor and texture. The larger four-inch cake definitely had better texture than the mini cakes, which are about 2 3/4-inch in diameter.

We have recently been granted permission by the administrator of TWD to post the Baking with Julia recipes on our blog.