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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Caramel Cake ~Daring Bakers' Nov. Challenge

Dear Fellow Daring Bakers,

This month's challenge has given me some insight on my abilities with flour and a spatula. i have come to the realization that yes, i can measure, mix, pour, stir and fold. i am capable of preheating an oven. i am even able to halve a cake recipe. however, i am completely inept at decorating. i can't ice to save my life. even with an easy peasy pampered chef icing thing, i still suck.

But i'm ok with this knowledge. because this cake came out divine. small enough that i wasn't overwhelmed by the size. and i didn't even bother slicing it. the roommate and i just dug our forks in after i took pictures. she ate most of the icing. i ate the cake part.

this is the kind of cake that i would make sans the caramel sauce. just because i hate having to wait for the color to turn. i really enjoyed this challenge because unlike the previous challenge, there was no wait time and i could just bang it out in one go. so thank you to the hosts: Deloris of Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity, Alex of Blondie and Brownie (she's the Brownie), and Jenny of Foray into Food. the cake turned out fugly but tasted really good!

Sincerely,
Angry Asian

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Caramel Cake by Shuna Fish Lydon (she also wrote the recipe) of Bay Area Bites.

CARAMEL CAKE with Caramelized Butter Frosting

10 Tablespoons UNSALTED BUTTER, ROOM TEMP
1 1/4 Cups SUGAR
1/2 teaspoon KOSHER SALT
1/3 Cup CARAMEL SYRUP*
2 each EGGS, ROOM TEMP
splash VANILLA EXTRACT
2 Cups AP FLOUR
1/2 teaspoon BAKING POWDER
1C MILK, ROOM TEMP

*Caramel syrup recipe follows

Preheat oven to 350F
Butter one tall 9" cake pan.

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth.
2. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy.
3. Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl.
4. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.
5. Sift flour and baking powder.
6. Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dries.
7. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time.
8. Add another third of the dries, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dries. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, drry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.}
9. Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds. making sure batter is uniform.

Place cake pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it. Cake will keep for three days unrefrigerated.

CARAMEL SYRUP

2 Cups SUGAR
1/2 Cup WATER

1 Cup water for "stopping"

1. In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand.
2. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush.
3. Turn on heat to highest flame.
4. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.
5. When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and prepared to step back.
6. Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}

For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.

CARAMELIZED BUTTER FROSTING

12 tablespoons UNSALTED BUTTER
1 Pound CONFECTIONER'S SUGAR, SIFTED
4-6 Tablespoons HEAVY CREAM
2 teaspoons VANILLA EXTRACT
2-4 Tablespoons CARAMEL SYRUP
Kosher or sea salt to taste

1. Cook butter until brown.
2. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool.
3. Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.
4. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner's sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner's sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.

Caramelized butter frosting will keep in fridge for up to a month. To smooth out from cold, microwave a bit, then mix with paddle attachment until smooth and light.

019

Monday, November 24, 2008

3 meat - 2 bean Chili

i hate it when i go food shopping and i'm inspired to make something new or just make dinner but things get in the way. things like a missing camera. a layoff. a new laptop to purchase. interviewing. gift-making. CSI:NY watching. so the food in the fridge hang out until it's on the verge of spoiling and something has to happen. so i make chili happen.

recently i had spicy sausage, ground turkey and pork in the fridge. all in small quantities that they wouldn't make much of anything on their own. into the pot it went. i had two cans of beans: pinto and red beans in the pantry. i wanted to finish off the last of my tube of tomato paste. a dash of spice here and there, stir and topped with sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese. it fed me, my roommate and jab. crystal and i went a little crazy that first night, we were so excited. i had baked a squash challah bread that was sooooo good dipped in the chili. i can't begin to tell you everything that i put in that pot. but trust me, it was good.

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today's soundtrack: The Fray, You Found Me

"Lost and insecure /You found me, you found me/Where were you, where were you?/Just a little late /You found me, You found me..."

Friday, November 21, 2008

pure blue scarf

i remember when i lived with my grandparents as a child, i would ask the most random questions and for the most part they would always answer me, patiently at first and then inevitably, i'd be sent to the corner for talking too much. i always liked seeing how far i could go before i was told to shut up. i remember asking my grandmother what her favorite color was. she told me it was blue. not just any blue, like the basic blue of a crayon. but the color of the sky in the early morning, she said. it reminded her of her home in vietnam, Nha Trang, when she would walk along the beach and watch the sun rise. she said it was the lightest of blue, pure and quiet. so i made her a blue scarf. i made one for grandpa, i couldn't very not make her one too. i couldn't find a sunrise blue but this blue ought to do.

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the pattern calls for just one skein and the end result comes out very long, and i think, pretty. i'm sure she'll find fault in it but i'll be amused anyway because i know it's her way of saying thank you. i think it took me about two nights to complete. i should've made it thicker in width, maybe. that's what i'll do next time. it doesn't get too cold out in cali but it's still pretty nippy for them.

today's soundtrack: Beth Nielsen Chapman, Beyond the Blue (you'll have to click on the preview, there is no video of this great song

"Away beyond the blue/One star belongs to you/And every breath I take/I'm closer to that place..."



Tuesday, November 18, 2008

ripple scarf

"sometimes out of your greatest rejection, comes your greatest direction..." ~Joel Osteen

as of this morning at 10am, i am employed. w00tw00t. moving along ...

before i go into the particulars of the scarf i pictured yesterday, i must give props to Debbie and Jamie. they were on my team last Baking Gals round and they made some beautiful cookies for our soldier Amie.



Ranger Cookies, Nibbly Cookies from Alice Medrich's Bittersweet but also from Dessert First, and biscotti from the Cookie Book..Got Milk? by Peggy Cullen. thanks ladies!

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the blue scarf was originally going to be for my grandmother. however, as i was examining the end result, i was trying to guess what she'd complain about: the holes and light weight yarn. the scarf wouldn't keep her warm. so i decided insted to gift it to my sister Pam who turns 18 next week. i used a ripple scarf pattern. naturally, i flubbed but not so much that one could tell, especially with the fringe. i really liked the pattern, and the yarn i used was Caron soft in a baby blue. i'll make this scarf again, eventually.

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today's soundtrack: Matt Nathanson, Little Victories

"This time, I'll have no fear/I'll be standing strong and tall/Turn my back towards them all..."

Monday, November 17, 2008

just breathe

i'm still here. around. lurking. just not blogging. i was laid off last week. bummer but not surprised. naturally, given the chance to sleep in, i don't. it's been a whirlwind of interviewing. i updated my resume over the summer so it's not like i wasn't prepared. and then this weekend at the restaurant. i've barely a moment's quiet. not only am i shopping around for a new job, but i'm looking for a new computer too. i have a new handy dandy digital buddy, thanks to patrick. it's not like i've been idle. just an idea of the next few posts...

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i've been tagged by Trish:

8 favorite TV shows
1. NCIS
2. Criminal Minds
3. Numb3rs
4. Grey's Anatomy
5. Private Practice
6. No Reservations: Anthony Bourdain
7. Cold Case
8. Without a Trace

8 favorite RESTAURANTS
1. Little Saigon
2. Jaleo
3. Georgia Brown
4. Zella's
5. Saffron
6. City Cafe
7. Brewer's Art
8. Thai Arroy

8 books you’d RECOMMEND
1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (i read this book when i was in 5th grade. the impact it made stays with me still)
2. My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult (the first of many picoult books i've read.)
3. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hussein (touching and earnest story)
4. The Smoke Jumper by Nicholas Evans (i've said it many times before, evans writes beautifully)
5. In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner (Weiner is able to write with humor and sarcasm that is both charming and interesting)
6. Silver Lake by Maeve Binchy (i love maeve binchy)
7. Harry Potter series by that rich brit-ish woman. (i read this series in 3 months, bawled my eyes out reading the last book. Accio KISS MY ASS!)
8. Digging to America by Anne Tyler (great novel by a local author)

8 things that happened YESTERDAY
1. Hit the farmer's market. didn't arrive til 10 so slightly less to choose from by at least it wasn't crowded and i still was able to get my fresh mini donuts.
2. hit the asian market and treated myself to a clay pot.
3. did 3 loads of laundry
4. made a bacon dish for kitchen doorknobs
5. finished the fringe of pammie's scarf, pictured above
6. made two cards
7. prepared for my interview this morning by modeling a few suits
8. finally finally FINALLY successfully made caramel squares ...

8 things to LOOK FORWARD TO
1. Tuesday. i won't say more on why... yet.
2. borrowing a friend's Twilight book, whatever the first one is... because Trish won't let me watch the movie first. she's the boss of me.
3. Big K's 30th going on 21 birthday weekend in Charlotte. she's asked me to make a dinner spread (think 80s theme) and her birthday cake (gasp!)
4. Buu's birthday weekend the following weekend (i'm already really tired)
5. lunch with jab tomorrow.
6. buu is hemming two of my jeans. so when i get them back, it'll be like i have "new" clothes
7. turkey dinner with the phamily next friday (thursday is dinner with jab and the roommate... i'm actualy supposed to be researching recipes right now...)
8. there's this new cookie recipe i'd like to dig into but i'll hold off till round 5 of the Baking Gals. plus, i want to tweak the checkered cookies ... soon ... (you'd think being unemployed i'd have more time but not so much!)

8 things on MY WISH LIST
1. a Kitchen Aid Mixer. a red one.
2. a new kitchen, complete with maybe a double oven and dishwasher
3. hardwood floors
4. new windows
5. crown molding
6. new bathroom
7. DSLR... preferably the Nikon D80 or D90. i'd even settle for the D60
8. a new comforter set, preferably corduroy. what? it'd keep me warm.

8 things I LOVE ABOUT FALL
1. i like Fall in pictures.
2. butternut squash soup
3. apple picking
4. the color orange
5. indian summer
6. apple cider
7. cinnamon
8. rustic, hearty foods

8 people I TAG
no tagging from me. anyone who is interested in doing this, please do so!

stay warm, it's gotten nippy out. be safe, there's been a slew of crime here in Baltimore. hard economic times causes people to do foolish things. be kind, rewind.

bear with me as i update angry asian creations. with the prospect of a new employer, i'm trying to determine if this blog is too ... angry. but i am perturbed at the idea of having to censor anything at all.

Today's Soundtrack: Sugarland, Already Gone

"Life is a runaway train you can't wait to jump on..."

Sunday, November 9, 2008

despondent dashing

i have to work today, as in... somehow or other i received the not so covetous honor of being put on call ALL day (11-10pm), on a sunday, at the restaurant (new hours, they've never been open on sundays before, this is trial run). i was under the impression that with two managers and a busser working, that the likelihood of me being called in was slim. slim turned to massive obesity when one of the managers had a gentleman caller come visit her for the weekend and so she ix-nayed her shift and put me on. am i bitter? morning coffee with friend? nope. lunch and matinee with jab? negatory. pumpkin potluck? no flippin way.

so real quickly before i deal with the church crowd, enjoy.

envious.

vicarious view.

inspirational.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Sup măng tây tôm hùm

recently there was a sale at the farmer's market for lobster. $7.99/lb! so i went for it and bought 3. mind you, i've never really cooked seafood before, much less something as daunting as lobster. the main challenge was what to do with it. i thought 3 lobsters was going to be more than enough to play with but alas... not so. i was hoping to make a salad of it, a soup and possibly enjoying it just dipped in butter. i settled for the latter two.

living with me, i don't require much. i do the cleaning, take out the garbage, i get control of the remote and the only things i expect in return: rent paid on time and taste tester. crystal was home sunday and she asked if she could help in the kitchen. after a quick run to the asian market, we set to boiling the lobster. i took care of two and she took one. you'd never think she was a med student who's assisted in surgeries before. you'd never believe that the girl who explained in painful detail some back surgery she worked on, for 10 hours on her feet, would be FREAKED at the prospect of putting a live lobster in the pot. but i held firm on my stance, she had to do it. she promptly dropped the lobster on the floor and let out the most blood curdling scream ev.er. we both jumped back. i started laughing so hard. i know this practice of cooking lobster is so ... mean and PETA will be banging down my door now but ... she was just so terrified. i quickly leaned down and scooped it up and plopped it in the pot. then i made her clean the floor. i didn't see her in the kitchen again til dinner time.



i called grandma up for her recipe for sup măng tây cua, asparagus crab soup. i also told her i was going to use lobster instead. i received an earful on the cost of lobster ($7.99/lb is still too expensive for her) and how my house was going to stink now.

Grandma's Sup Măng Tây Cua
adapted from Grandma, i used lobster meat rather than crab

the recipe is generalized, she didn't give me exact measurements

chicken broth (i actually made stock out of the lobster shell)
cornstarch
egg
crab meat (or lobster meat)
can of asparagus spears
(i added a can of baby corn, that's how crystal's mom makes it)
fish sauce and pepper for taste

heat up the chicken broth, to lazy simmer. add in the meat (whichever you're using). put in a heaping tablespoon of cornstarch to thicken the broth. add in fish sauce for taste. about 10 minutes before serving, put in the asparagus spears, which are halved. they're already soft, you don't want to mush them. allow to heat thru. in a bowl, break open the egg and with a fork mix it up. grandma says to add pepper to the egg, to get rid of some odor? i did what she said. then with one hand, stir the soup fast and with the other hand slowly drizzle the egg into the soup, making ribbons.



this soup was much easier than i thought i would be. i added about half a pot of water to the lobster shells and let it all get merry. strained it and had myself some stock. that's what i used. it turned out well. i thought crystal was going to have another freak attack, but this time out of excitement. feeding her is hilarious.

next time i'll use crabmeat. but i do like this soup a lot.

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Today's soundtrack: The Cure, Treasure

this song is so dramatic! :)

"Remember me and smile.../For it's better to forget/Than to remember me/And cry..."


Thursday, November 6, 2008

baking for Amie: Checkered Cookies

the Baking Gals are at it again! round 4 is underway and i baked my cookies this week. not only was i going to send cookies to our soldier, amie, but i wanted to send a care package to pammie in school. she finished off her ginger-chip cookies. i love killing two birds with one stone, two care packages of cookies, but baking only once... well... not once but you know what i mean. for this round, i made the same NY Chocolate Chip cookies. i had made a batch some weeks ago and had three rolls in the freezer. sigh, i love being prepared. my 2nd cookie was the checkered cookies that i saw on one of the food porn sites. the moment i laid eyes on these cookies, i immediately had to send the link to kelcy and shannalee. as in, i was a nerd, and started drooling and had heart palpitations over it. i would imagine it was like cookie love at first sight.

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Checkerboard Cookies
shameless and futile attempt at copying Baking Obsession

(vera graciously included a diagram when i told her i was inept at picturing it properly in my head. i tried to take pictures of all the steps. this recipe took me about 3 days to complete, and in that span of time, my camera was stolen so some of the shots were with my old PS, my roommate's camera phone and jab's PS canon)

Makes about 8 dozens

Ingredients:

5 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 lb (2 cups or 4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Preparation:

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and mix to combine. Finish the mixing with your hands or a wooden spoon.

Divide the dough in half. Knead ½ cup of cocoa into one portion of the dough.





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Divide the chocolate and vanilla dough in half. Form each of total four portions into a rectangle, wrap individually in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to a day.





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Before proceeding, take one portion of the chocolate and one portion of the vanilla dough and let them sit on the counter for about 15-20 minutes to soften slightly. On parchment paper (preferred) or a lightly floured surface, using a floured rolling pin, roll one portion of the vanilla and one portion of the chocolate dough (separately, of course) into ½ -inch thick rectangles, with the sides about 12 x 5 inches long. Using a pizza wheel (such a wonderful tool for this job) cut out total of 9 ½ -inch wide strips from the each dough. Handling the strips delicately, form two checkerboard logs alternating the chocolate and vanilla strips (see the photo of the finished cookies). I never use an egg white or water to adhere the strips one to another. If you don’t use a lot of flour during the dough rolling it’s not necessary, everything stays together without any problem. Cover with plastic wrap or parchment paper and refrigerate until firm, at least for 2 hours.





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When ready to continue, on the parchment paper roll the remaining chocolate (or vanilla) dough into a rectangle about 1/3-inch thick and measuring 12 x 6 inches. Place the firmed checkerboard log into the center, long sides parallel, and with aid of parchment, wrap the dough around the checkerboard log pressing firmly to adhere. Roll the finished log from side to side to form sharp corners. Wrap in the parchment and/or plastic and refrigerate well. The best would be to leave the formed cookie log in the refrigerator overnight. Don’t rush if you are after the uniform shape of the cookies. Repeat with the rest of the dough and the second chilled checkerboard log to form another, opposite in colors, cookie log. Wrap, place in the fridge. As I mentioned, you can freeze the logs. Thaw them overnight in the refrigerator before using.





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When ready to bake, center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 350F. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat. Using a very sharp knife, slice the cookie-dough log into ¼-inch thick slices. Place on the prepared baking sheet leaving about 1 inch all way around them. Bake the cookies, in batches, for about 12 minutes until firm and golden brown on the bottom. Don’t let them bake for too long, or the color contrast between the chocolate and vanilla dough will be lost. Cool on a baking sheet on a rack for 15 minutes. Then transfer the cookies to the rack and cool completely.





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verdict:
i love them. they weren't too sweet and they garnered a massive amount of cookies! my first dozen were burned (i blame my roommate/sous chef. she was supposed to man the oven) but the rest were so good. i am annoyed with myself that they turned out more rectangle than square. the logs didn't exactly meld together like i had wanted, there were spaces in the middle that was not pleasing to my eye, i'll lay off the flour shower next time. i plan on making another batch to keep in the freezer for fast baking. with the holidays coming up quick, these treats would make cute little presents/packages. and if i planned it just right, i could make the dough beforehand and give them as presents, pre-baked. it's so prep-intensive, i bet some of my local friends would like these cookies to have on hand to bake for themselves when they were ready...

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Shannalee of Food Loves Writing sent her cookies to Amie on election day ...

Stephanie of The Hills are Burning sent her cookies yesterday ...

Today's Soundtrack: Skye Edwards (formerly of Morcheeba), Love Show

"Stand still./Breath in/Are you listening?/It's painless/Letting your love show..."


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Beef Rendang - Recipes to Rival October Challenge


this month's Recipes to Rival dish is Beef Rendang. it's a dish that encompasses spices from Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. i was concerned that i wouldn't be able to find the spices required to make this dish but there are alternative ingredients i could use. Rayrena of Happy Cows and Robyn of Culinary Adventures hosted. Thanks for such a great choice!

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(fyi, my camera was stolen this past weekend and until i receive my "new" camera, i'm using jab's. i'm still getting used to it and so my pix in the next few posts are slightly off. sorry about that!)

Beef Rendang
Excerpted from Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore by James Oseland (W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2006) Copyright 2006 by James Oseland.


For the Flavoring Paste:

* 1 whole nutmeg, cracked open with a nutcracker or a heavy, blunt object such as the bottom of a glass measuring cup
* 5 whole cloves
* 6 shallots (about 5 ounces), coarsely chopped
* 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
* 5 to 20 fresh red Holland chiles or other fresh long, red chiles such as Fresno or cayenne, stemmed and coarsely chopped
* 1 piece fresh or thawed, frozen turmeric, 2 inches long, peeled and coarsely chopped (about 2 teaspoons), or 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
* 1 piece fresh ginger, 2 inches long, peeled and thinly sliced against the grain (about 2 tablespoons)
* 1 piece fresh or thawed, frozen galangal, 2 inches long, peeled and thinly sliced against the grain (about 2 tablespoons; optional)
* 5 candlenuts or unsalted macadamia nuts

For the remainder of the dish:

* 2 pounds well-marbled boneless beef chuck or bottom round, cut into 2- to 2 1/2-inch cubes
* 2 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
* 3 thick stalks fresh lemongrass, each tied into a knot
* 1 piece cinnamon stick, 4 inches long
* 7 whole fresh or thawed, frozen kaffir lime leaves
* 5 whole daun salam leaves (optional)
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1 tablespoon very finely shredded fresh or thawed, frozen kaffir lime leaves (optional)

1. To make the flavoring paste, place the nutmeg and cloves in a small food processor and pulse until ground to a dusty powder, about 2 minutes.

2. Add the shallots, garlic, chiles, turmeric, ginger, galangal (if using), and candlenuts to the ground spices. Pulse until you have a chunky-smooth paste the consistency of cooked oatmeal.

3. In a 12-inch skillet (nonstick works best), mix the beef and the flavoring paste until well combined. Add the coconut milk, lemongrass, cinnamon, whole lime leaves, daun salam leaves (if using), and salt. Stir well to combine and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Immediately reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered at a slow, steady bubble, stirring every 10 to 20 minutes with a spatula to prevent the meat and coconut milk from sticking and scorching. You'll probably need to adjust the heat periodically to maintain an even simmer.

4. The meat, coconut milk, and flavoring paste will now go on a fascinating journey. At first, the broth will be thin and gorgeously bright orange. As it cooks, the coconut milk will reduce, its fats (as well as the fat the meat renders) separating from the solids. It will become progressively thicker and darker, eventually turning brown. Continue to simmer gently until the liquid has reduced by about 95 percent, stirring every 15 minutes or so to prevent sticking. Only the meat, oils, and a bit of very thick sauce will remain in the pot. This will take anywhere from 2 to 3 hours, depending on the skillet that you use, how hot the fire is, and the richness of the coconut milk. Test the meat; it should be tender enough to poke easily with a fork. Taste some of the liquid for salt, and add a pinch more if needed.

5. When all the liquid has evaporated, reduce the heat to low (the meat and the remaining sauce are prone to burning) and allow the beef to brown slowly in the rendered fat. (The fat may be foamy at this point, but it will settle down when the cooking stops.) Stir every 5 minutes or so to prevent sticking and scorching, being careful not to break the beef apart. Continue sautéing the beef until it's the color of roasted coffee beans, 5 to 10 minutes longer. The surface of the beef should be barely moist and have an appetizing oily sheen. (If there is too much oil in the pan for your liking, skim some of it off with a spoon and set aside for later use; it's wonderful for sautéing potatoes.)

6. Remove and discard the cinnamon, lemongrass, lime leaves, and daun salam leaves (if used), and then transfer the beef to a serving dish. (Alternatively, serve this dish with all the aromatics, for a more rustic presentation.) Garnish with the shredded lime leaves, if using. Allow the beef to rest for at least 30 minutes before serving. Slightly warm room temperature will best show off its intensely aromatic flavors. This dish will taste even better the next day.

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notes:
somehow or another i lost the lemongrass, between the grocery store and home. my roommate put everything away and didn't recall seeing lemongrass. i had dry so that's what i used. i also totally forgot the tumeric. i started cooking this dish around noon and didn't eat dinner til closer to 7. i turned off the stove around 4, i was tired of being in the kitchen stirring and just basically watching it turn colors. i was hoping to have some gravy or juice to pour over my rice but no such luck.

verdict:
despite all that, i thought it tasted great. my roommate and i loved it. i made a container for jab's lunch and i also had it for lunch. i'd prefer it if it were wetter. however, i really liked this dish and i would make it again, but with chicken.

Thanks again Rayrena and Robyn!

Today's soundtrack: Anggun, Sang Penari

i have no idea what this song is about, i just know it translates to the dancer.



Tuesday, November 4, 2008

apple raisin cookies for Election Day

i voted today. did you?

it's my first election. and a history-making election at that. i wanted to make something "american" but that term is so diluted now. what is american? it's a word that can't be defined because it would depend on who was answering. to simplify things a bit, what do you think is a quintessential american sweet treat? for me, i think of apple pies. but i couldn't very well bake a bunch of apple pies and carry them around in line to vote! cookies are much easier to share.

you'd think i would be done with my stash of picked apples but no dice. but this is my 3rd and final apple dish for the season. i'll figure out what to do with the rest of the apples.

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Apple Raisin Cookies
adapted from about.com: Southern Food

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup finely chopped unpeeled apples
(i also added about a tsp of cinnamon)

Cream butter with sugars; beat in egg and vanilla. Sift together the dry ingredients then add to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream, raisins, and chopped apples. Drop cookie dough by teaspoons onto greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375° for 12to 15 minutes.

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Today's soundtrack: Live, Overcome

"...in our castle where we're always free to choose/never free enough to find/i wish somethin' would break/cuz we're runnin' out of time..."

Monday, November 3, 2008

homemade laundry detergent

last week i finally had ALL the ingredients to make my own homemade laundry detergent. i bought my washing soda from ebay for the bargain price of $4.99 ($4.75 shipping). i got borax from walmart for like $3 and the soap flakes for $12.90 (shipping included). total: $25.64. those are the items that a normal household would not have. the baking soda, i already had, and that's a few bucks a pop. all the ingredients will last me a good amount of time that i won't have to replemish. normally detergent, liquid or powder, costs about $7 already and for the pricier brand names like Tide, they cost even more. i'd say i spend about $25/year for commercially made detergent. and i think with what i have, my homemade stuff will last me about year, maybe more... and it's eco-friendly. i dig that.

HPIM4065


Homemade Laundry Detergent
adapted from The Habit of Being

basic recipe for soap flakes
using a cheese grater, grate a bar of gentle
castile soap or gentle glycerine soap.*

*do not use non-foaming varieties

all-purpose washing machine laundry soap
1 cup baking soda
1 1/2 cups unpacked soap flakes*
1/2 cup washing soda (sodium carbonate)
1/2 cup borax

mix the ingredients together and use as you would a commercial washing detergent (about 1/2 cup per full load). the finer and dryer the soap flakes before mixing with the other ingredients, the longer shelf life.

*the soap flakes must be from glycerine or castile bar soaps.

i also added 15 drops of lavender essential oil. i left the lid off to allow the mixture to completely dry out. i also didn't make a lot on purpose just to make sure i don't break out etc.

HPIM4070


so far, so good. :)

Today's soundtrack: Anggun, In Your Mind (french version)

i discovered anggun in college and i've been a fan since.

"`cause a woman should do/What she wants to do/Nothing wrong with this dress I wear/Nothing wrong with this smile I dare/Nothing wrong with my long black hair/It's all in your mind, in your mind..."

Sunday, November 2, 2008

busy sunday

quick update post. nothing fancy here, sorry! busy day planned and it's only 11! hit the farmer's market and bought 3 lobsters on sale! my poor roommate will play sous chef again while i fumble my way thru with these lobsters. oh but the dishes i have planned!

uncle lee is stopping by to check on a window, and possibly some fresh ideas on how to remodel my kitchen. i am so excited. i know it'll still be awhile before i can afford to start on remodelling but it'll hopefully give me an idea of cost and a concrete idea of where my tips should go (other than my yarn addiction). halloween night was long (a 12-top walked in 30 minutes before closing time, dressed up and slightly tipsy! wtf?!) will post pix on facebook when i get the chance!

real quick:

Election Day is coming up, are you going to vote? if you're still undecided, Politico will have campaign information for you.

read: Random Mutterings

drool: Eat Make Read (thanks Shannalee!)

sew cute!: Children's Boutique

cheap fashion: The Recessionista

craft love: Greeting Arts

that's it for now. i have a kitchen floor to clean, quick asian market run and then crazy baking. (as well as losbter-ing to do)

Have a great Sunday!

Today's Soundtrack: Death Cab for Cutie, Your Heart is an Empty Room

"And all you see/Is where else you could be/When you're at home/Out on the street/Are so many possibilities/To not be alone..."