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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Daring Baker's Bump on a Yule Log

Dear Daring Bakers ~
on the last day of 2008 i will have to say that i am a bum. i had good intentions to do this month's Daring Bakers' Challenge. i printed out the recipe, all 13 pages of it. tried to organize and break it down to manageable steps. then i pulled my back during a weird sneeze last week and when i finally arrived home Sunday, the day i was going to bang out most of the steps, i just was not in the mood to make out with my standmixer. so, i'm sorry. for those who participated, they're beautiful. i'll make a more concerted effort in the new year.

best wishes,
Angry Asian

Please head over to the Daring Bakers' Blogroll to see what they created this month.

Today's song: Claude Debussy, Claire de Lune

Thursday, December 25, 2008

what santa would appreciate: Soft Peanut Butter Cookies

today i'm in TN, with jab and his family, celebrating Jesus' Birthday. i hope the holiday celebration with your family is as warm and sweet as mine is.

as an alternative to the chocolate chip cookies Santa usually gets, i thought i'd set out some soft peanut butter cookies. he's getting up there in age and his teeth may not be as strong as in his youth. these cookies are buttery, melt in your mouth soft. i deliberately underbaked them and added extra peanut butter to the batter. my teeth are strong but they are confined by metal and these cookies make it possible for me to enjoy a sweet snack without wincing with every bite or having to dunk into milk. they're fast to whip up too, i made the batter in no time (again, thanks to my standmixer!) and baked them the next night in under an hour. i would've added some pretty green and red m&ms but i had forgotten to grab them when i was at the market. no biggie, these little cookies are great regardless.

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Santa's Soft Peanut Butter Cookies
adapted from Bake Space

1/2 cup margarine, softened
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

Combine margarine, peanut butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla. Blend together very well.
Add flour, baking soda and salt with mixer.
Chill dough overnight in the refrigerator. Roll into balls by hand.
Place on sprayed cookie sheet.
Using a fork, press down the balls and create a criss cross pattern.
Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) oven until edges very lightly browning (about 10 minutes). (**** i baked them for about 6 minutes)
Cool completely on wire rack and store in airtight container. (*** to be safe, i stored in plastic sandwich bags AND then put in airtight container.)

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today's song: I Wonder as I Wander

happy holidays. stay warm. be safe.

Monday, December 22, 2008

.peppermint.bark.

i succumbed. i could not resist. i made peppermint bark. and i have no thoughtful or heartfelt words to describe them. i'd never had them before and really, since making them, i have not tasted them (the hard peppermint hurts my teeth). my roommate and her boyfriend have assured to me that they're good. so good that i finally had to tell Sharan to stop eatting my bark because i wasn't a xmas shop and there wouldn't be any left to give out as gifts. not that i really minded, i had already decided to make up another batch.

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different recipes have popped up as of late for these holiday treats. it was very confusing on which to try so i basically combined a few tips from here and there. first layer, dark semi-sweet chocolate, melted on a cookie sheet. set aside to cool completely.

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meanwhile, melt some white chocolate in a double boiler. i had processed a dozen candy canes and any of the powder left over, i sifted into the white chocolate, stirring gently as to not turn it pink. working quickly and making sure the white chocolate wasn't too hot, spread over the dark chocolate.

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sprinkle the rest of the crushed peppermint over the white chocolate, pressing down gently. ignore til either the roommate starts pawing at it or til it sets. i cut them into small pieces, or you can just break them up.

they look fancy and all but they were a cinch to make.

today's soundtrack: Tears for Fears, Head over Heels

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Beef in Beer with Herb Dumplings

poor jab has been feeling ill this week. he has a bad habit of coming down with something around xmas time every year. as they say, tis the season. he also has the bad habit of not calling out sick from work, such a work horse is he that he'll suffer on thru nausea and the sniffles. in the hopes of making him feel better, i offered to make him some soup. he ix-nayed wonton soup (which is my grandmother's recipe and it is awesome!), chicken soup and chicken 'n dumplings. he likes his beef stew. so i rifled thru my one-pot cookbook for the ultimate recipe that would satisfy his palate but also mine. i'm a pretty easy eater, and i've been asked how i deal with jab's picky food nature. i see it as more of a challenge to work around. plus, when i first met him, he did not eat ethnic food. as in, no chicken penang, or vindaloo, or curry, and i think he tried Pho for the first time this year! it's no hardship for me to figure out what he'll enjoy. i've stopped beating my head against his dislikes and i just work my cooking around it. it all evens out in the end!

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Beef in Beer with Herb Dumplings
from Linda Doeser's One Pot Recipes

2 tbl corn oil
2 large onions, thinly sliced
8 carrots, sliced
4 tbl all-purpose flour
salt and pepper
2 lb 12 oz/1.25 kg stewing steak, cut into cubes
scant 2 cups stout
2 tsp brown sugar
2 bay leaves
1 tbl chopped fresh thyme

Herb Dumplings
3/4 cup self-rising flour
pinch of salt
1/2 cup shredded shortening
2 tbl chopped fresh parsley, plus extra to garnish
about 4 tbl water

Preheat the oven to 325F/160C. Heat the oil in an ovenproof casserole. Add the onions and carrots and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for five minutes, or until the onions are softened. Meanwhile, place the flour in a plastic bag and season. Add the steak to the bag, tie the top, and shake well to coat. Do this in batches, if necessary.

Remove the veggies from the casserole with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the steak to the casserole, in batches and cook, stirring frequently, until browned all over. Return the meat, onions and carrots to the casserole and sprinkle in any remaining seasoned flour. Pour in the stout and add the sugar, bay leaves and thyme. Bring to a boil, cover and bake in the preheated over for 1 3/4 hours.

To make the Herb Dumplings, sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Stir in the shortening and parsley, then add enough water to make a dough. Shapre into small balls. Add to the casserole and return to the oven for 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaves. Serve, sprinkled with parsley.

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Today's Soundtrack: Alice in Chains, Heaven Beside You


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Maple Leaf Cookies

to say that i am all cookie'd out is putting it very, very, very mildly. i am so over cookies right now. i think i will retire from baking cookies for a few weeks. i baked cookies for Operation Baking Gals, Round Five. my team, KelseyKakes (can you guess why i chose to be on her team?!) baked for our soldier Jason. (yet another reason why i chose to be on this team this round!). i actually sent out the package last week, filled with caramel squares and shannalee's oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (which i added raisins to). this week, i'm baking cookies to send out with my xmas cards. i figured i can't just feed my new coworkers, i gotta share some of this cookie love with some faraway friends. i've stuck to the basics: checkered cookies and my fave NY Chocolate Chip Cookies. my checkered cookies are a tad bit different tho, rather than chocolate, i used red food coloring for that added holiday cheer. also, i added peanut butter chips to the NY cookies, just to see how they would turn out. (delish!) on top of all that, i made another batch of caramel squares and another kind of cookie. a maple cookie that was featured in Martha Stewart's Living magazine, it was the cookie of the month.

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Maple Leaf Cookies
adapted from Martha Stewart's Living, November 2008
makes about 8 dozen (no it doesnt!)
Be sure to use pure maple syrup, not a lesser imitation


3 cups all purpose flour, plus more for surface
1/2 tsp salt
8 oz (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup maple syrup (preferabl grade A)
Vegetable oil cooking spray
1/3 cup sanding sugar

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1. Sift flour and stalk into a medium bowl. Beat butter and granulated and brown sugars with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low, and add yolk, then 1/2 cup maple syrup, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture, and beat until just incorporated. Shape into 2 disks, wrap each in plastic, and refridgerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 2 days.

2. Preheat oven to 325F. Roll out 1 disk of dough to 1/4" thickness on a sheet of lightly floured parchment. Place parchment with dough on baking sheet. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.

3. Coat baking sheets with cooking spray, line with parchment. Cut out cookies from frozen dough using a 3 1/2" maple leaf shaped cutter, and space 1" apart on sheet. Roll and cut scraps once. Freeze cookies until frim about 15 minutes.

4. Bake cookies until edges begin to turn golden, 14 - 16 minutes. Transfer parchment with cookies to wire racks, and let cool for 5 minutes. Brush cookies with 2 tbls maple syrup and spring with 1/2 sanding sugar. Let cool. Repeat with remaining dough, maple syrup and sugar.

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my take:
i am not a cookie cutter kinda girl. i thought they turned out cute snowflake shaped but then the rolling and then using the cutter got so annoying. further, i didn't have sanding sugar so i just used regular sugar. i ended up just rolling the dough and slicing them. furthermore, the taste... nothing to write home about. so i added something. i added chopped sugared ginger pieces. it was exactly what these cookies needed. don't think i'm not calling Martha to tell her what's up.

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Today's Soundtrack: The Corrs (or Rolling Stones...), Ruby Tuesday

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

randomosity at its best

i know i ought to be working, or planning exactly how i'm going to bake three different types of cookies tonight with different oven temp requirements, as well as bust out a lunch for jab this week, wrap up the caramel squares, package up all the cookies and said wrapped caramel squares to be shipped out in time for jesus' birthday, carve out time to devote to the Daring Bakers', AND pack for my trip to TN next week. on top of that, i found the cutest crochet pattern that i need to complete by monday night for my aunt's birthday. ah well. all things will fall in place i'm sure. there are only 24 hours in a day and i require 8 of those hours to sleep or else i'm a beast but trust, i always find a way. some thing will get lost along the way, like combing my hair or just not emailing important people back. it happens! and so i will take the next 11 minutes to fill out this meme that Kirby of The Knitting Type tagged me for, before i need to rush out to SuperFresh to buy groceries.

The rules of the game get posted at the beginning. Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5-6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

1) What was I doing 10 years ago?
i was 21. completing fall semester of my senior year at Radford. dreading going home because i just felt so stifled after having been able to go out and about in college. it was both a very happy yet disatisfying time for me.

2)What are 5 things on my to-do list for today (not in any particular order):
bake cookies
make a beef stew
get cracking on a crochet project due on monday
finish packaging up caramels
take pictures. i haven't taken proper pictures in a long time.

3) Snack I enjoy:
chocolate chip cookies and milk

4) Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
there was a time i would've said i would make my sisters trust fund babies but i've decided that they don't now the value of the dollar, and now i believe they should know what it's like to work hard. so no, i would not give them a portion until much later in their lives. i would however put my grandparents up in much more comfortable environments (altho, i think they're quite taken care of now, thankfully.), take care of bills and some close friends and phamily will not have a want in the world. once all that is taken care of, i would travel. take a pastry or cooking course or two. read a good book in a cafe in paris. hold hands with jab in italy. get expensive spa massages and facials in switzerland with big k. chow the eff down with buu in vietnam. go on african safaris. visit new zealand. spend a month in india. and never be cold again.

5) Places I have lived
San Diego, CA
Bangkok, Thailand
Manila, Philippines
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Radford, Virginia

6) 5 peeps I wanna know more about:
i'm not going to put anyone down, not because i'm not interested in knowing about them but because there're seriously so many great bloggers out there i'd love to know more about. if anyone wishes to partake in this fun meme, please by all means do so and let me know.

Today's Soundtrack: Rascal Flatts, Stand




Monday, December 15, 2008

Chocolate Guinness Cake for Buu day

i think december babies rock. iJustDo.

today is buu's official 30th birthday but we celebrated in high style this past Saturday. naturally, she had to bring it in all dramatical. she requested that i bring in buckets of Popeye's Chicken and biscuits, along with chocolate cake and white icing. the only thing missing was the grape soda.

for her cake, i used a Nigella Lawson recipe, who by the way, knows her cake! you know how some angst ridden teens ask "how do you know you're in love?" and the sage response is always "you'll know it when it happens..." well as i was assembling her cake, i just knew it was my best piece of work yet. it just felt right. and i called her to let her know too.

Me: Buu?
Buu: yo, what's up?
Me: i just wanted to let you know that i am done making your cake and i think it's the best mother f-ing cake i've ever made. Ev.Er.
Buu: word?

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i initially saw the recipe at Culinary Saints and i knew i had to make it. i doubled the recipe and what i'll post will be the american measurements because seriously, whose bright idea was it to have to different metric systems???? keep in mind, i doubled this recipe, and i also used half special dark cocoa powder and half regular cocoa powder.

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Chocolate Guinness Cake
From "Feast" by Nigella Lawson

1 cups Guinness
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup cocoa
2 cups superfine sugar
3/4 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Preheat oven to 350° and grease and line with parchment paper a 9-inch springform pan. (i also used a smaller spring foam pan for the top tier)
Pour the Guinness into a large saucepan and add the sliced butter. Heat until the butter is melted and remove from the heat. Whisk in the cocoa and sugar. In a separate bowl, beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla. Add the sour cream mixture to the Guinness mixture in the saucepan. Finally, beat in the flour and baking soda.
Pour the batter into the greased and lined springform pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.

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i baked my cakes at 47 minutes. the knife came out clean but the cakes were a bit on the still slightly shaky side. i liked it immediately, that meant it was going to be deliciously chocolately moist. (also, the batter is quite liquidy, not so much a thick batter) word of warning, wait til the cakes are completely and thoroughly cool before springing them out of the pan. they're delicate and easily comes apart. buu asked for store bought icing (i was scandalized) and so i used whipped vanilla icing on top. that is all. simple and actually, quite stress free.


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Today's Soundtrack: Tupac, All Eyez on Me


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Big K's 80's Bday

i realize i'm posting this all backwards, ending with the first night of Kelcy's Birthday dinner. i just feel all sorts of discombobulated this week, going into a baking frenzy, to send out cookies in time for the Baking Gals, but also to send them out as holiday gifts for faraway friends. i'm baking buu's bday cake this weekend. i'm really putting my stand mixer to use!

anyway, for kelcy's dinner last week, i found the cutest meatloaf cupcakes that i had to do. for sides, i made a simple crock pot mac 'n cheese, a salad and my now favorite bread.

mac and cheese


the meatloaf was yummy and cute. the rolls were soft and buttery. and the mac 'n cheese was great to snack on in the middle of the night. i'd say it was a successful dinner!

cupcake meatloaf



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to add to the fun, kelcy made it a themed evening: diggin on the 80's.

me and big k


Today's Soundtrack: Madonna, Material Girl




Wednesday, December 10, 2008

add inches to your buns Sweet Buns

this past weekend kelcy had a houseful of women. women with voracious appetites for not only delicious food, but for fun, shopping, and all around giggles. i know kelcy's boyfriend matt loved it. :) i made him my honorary sous chef.

Matt: whatever you want Lan, i'll do.
Lan: Matt, could you grab me the cream cheese, eggs, and milk from the fridge?
Matt: i'm going to go take nap now...

precious. :) kelcy had mentioned she'd like some breakfast for sunday, something simple, easy to pop into the oven and basically forget about as we either catnapped or prepared for our respective departures. saturday afternoon, while the girls either shopped or napped, i set about making a simple egg casserole and cinnamon buns. something to warm you up as you get ready to exit, cloyingly sweet that will help the coffee go down easier and of course, something yummy but easy.

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the Veggie Egg Casserole is very similar to the egg dish i made this past summer. it came out light and fluffy, warm and with a kick from the hot sauce i used rather liberally. i used sliced whole wheat bread (cubed), green and yellow bell peppers (diced), diced onions, dried thyme, 2 handfuls of sharp cheddar cheese, sliced mushrooms and about 10 eggs. season with sea salt, fresh cracked pepper and a few dashs of hot sauce. all mixed together in a casserole dish. i cooked it at 350 degrees for about an hour.

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for the Cinnamon Buns, i used Shannalee's Ooey-Gooey Cinnamon Rolls recipe. i kept them in the oven for the 20 minutes but next time i make these, i'll take them out around 17 minutes. they still came out fab, i actually had two and had to cut myself off. the cream cheese on top mixed in with the melted cinnamon sugar was just divine. i used Kelcy's kitchen aid mixer and it really did make life easier. having both hands free while the dough was being mixed is such a luxury that i was unaware of! (plus, her kitchen is so big compared to mine, the counter space to knead made me so envious...) i am also thinking that next time i'll add chopped pecans for some crunch. the two pans definitely works. you don't want to overcrowd as the buns do expand, very much like how your own buns could expand if you have one too many of these goodness. :)

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Today's Soundtrack: Ricky Martin, Shake Your Bon Bon

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

decadent Devil's Food Cheesecake

kelcy and i take birthdays seriously. {yet another thing about kelcy that i adore.} so serious that when i returned from my overseas trip last spring, i promptly booked a plane ticket bound for Charlotte. 8 months early. yes. that early. and sporadically, we'd discuss different dinner options, desserts, hot spots to hit. when, sometime in the summer, kelcy asked me to bake her her birthday cake, i was touched. misty eyed even. when i got over that, i had to think about WHAT TO MAKE. she loves all things sweet, as long as there weren't any nuts. ok. so kinda like my Timothy Cake, i had carte blanche. i finally came to the conclusion that the girl likes everything and anything, which makes my life so much easier. i settled on a simple cake, in concept. she likes cheesecake. she likes chocolate cake. put it all together and you get Devil's Food Cheesecake. God Bless Manggy because she totally scaled it down. the recipe calls for 6" pan, i only had an 8" pan handy so the cake turned out wider and the layers not as high. oh well.

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what i did was make the cheesecake layer first, on Thursday night. nothing spectacularly hard. i didn't freeze. i must've skipped that part. the cake part i did Friday afternoon. kelcy didn't have cream of tartar and the recipe only calls for a pinch so that was left out. when i assembled the entire thing Saturday morning, i debated on whether to cut the cake into two layers. i decided not to. why make life harder? plus, i wanted to prep for Sunday's breakfast treats...

and so... on the cake stand, i plopped the cake layer down. generously lathered on the chocolate icing. next, i was bit more tender with the cheesecake layer, playing it face side down onto the icing and cake. finally, i added the frosting, heating it a bit so that it was a tad runny and would spill over the edge. allowed it all to cool.

so sunday morning (around 2:30am) after a night of dancing and mixed drinks, we girls all gathered round the kitchen, and sang, rather off key and more slurring than actual enunciation, Happy Birthday to Kelcy, we dug in... with a side of milk, and for some, beer. :)

Today's Soundtrack: Belinda Carlisle, Heaven is a Place on Earth

Monday, December 8, 2008

frogger girls

i met kelcy during the second semester of our freshman year in college. it was by random circumstances too. let's just say... Delta Chi, Dave Matthews Band, ODU, and a tumble down the stairs brought us together. this winter, we'll celebrate 12 years together.

we only see each other but once or twice a year. and we make the most of the time when we do meet up. i flew into Charlotte on Thursday night and from the moment i landed in the Dirty South, there was laughter, insults, one-liners, barely any sleep, and gasping. i'm sure this week i'll highlight the things we did, food that was consumed, high jinx that ensued, with plenty of pix... but for this post, i'll just point out a few things that i heart about kelcy.

frogger portrait


1. she is kind. not just to people but to animals. i remember one late night of partying in Roanoke, she and i, with my roommate Lindsay were driving back to Radford along the country road. right in the middle of the country road, there was a family of possum just hanging out. Kelcy stopped the car, jumped out and rushed them off to safety. she's a sweetie like that.

2. she's a trooper. hung over or not, she can always be counted on to show up for a party with puke bag in one hand, and glass of wine in the other.

3. she spoils me. she sent me Madonna's latest album earlier this year because i was strapped for cash and hadn't bought it yet.

4. she has my back. she knew i had been covetting a kitchen aid mixer for the longest time. when Kohl's listed it for sale for Black Friday, she not only let me know, but she also headed out early that morning to her Kohl's on the off chance that my Kohl's didn't have it.

5. she plays with me. as in, she really gets into the spirit of all my randomness. i wanted to do a food blogger competition thing, and so Kitchen Doorknobs was born. the Lord of the Rings trilogy is our all time favorite movie and during its heyday, she and i used to make up quizzes for each other, trying to stump one another on random LOTR trivia. when i picked up crocheting last winter, i told her i had an idea to play Frogger. not the actual video game, but a real life human version of it. i would crochet frogger hats for us and we'd basically jump around like a bunch of ass clowns. amusing. and she was totally game for it.

that's just five things that are great about Kelcy. of her 29 years, i've only been a part of 11+ and it's been wonderful.

frogger


Happy 30th Birthday Big K!

Today's Soundtrack: Europe, It's the Final Countdown

note: for kelcy's hat, i used an actual pattern. Bizzy Crochet's Frog Pattern. i actually crocheted it last spring. for the one that i wore, it's just a basic beanie, in single crochet. for 4 lines, i got bored and made a few double crochet stitches, skipping stitches for a block effect. i used black yarn for a contrast brim. for the eyes, i used black yarn, four stitches in the ring, and in white, 8 stitches. the back was in green again, and sewed the sides back to back, stuffing them.



Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Pecan Maple Caramel

"Failure is the excuse to try again..." ~The Friday Night Knitting Club

back in september i won a Pay It Forward thing from one of my fave bloggers, Under Consideration. She sent me some lovely caramel squares that basically wrecked havoc on my braces but i could not resist them. So i had it in my head to make them as possible gifts for my sister Pam or even for an Operation Baking Gals soldier. the first time i tried making them, i failed. miserably. my candy thermometer got all foggy and i got all impatient. at first i thought maybe it was cus i used pancake syrup rather than real maple syrup but now i know it's cus i didn't get the mixture to the right temp. the first batch, they tasted good but they were too soft. and so one night i set out to try again and this time, i used a bigger pot, and i vowed to be more patient.

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Pecan Maple Caramel
from the Chocolate Gourmand

3 cups chopped raw pecans
1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
2 cups whipping cream
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Some Safflower oil.


Oil the foil lined baking dish (alternative: line dish with silpat).
Using safflower oil and a paper towel, generously oil a 9x13 baking dish lined with foil. Don't skimp! If using silpat, just make sure the silpat you are using is large enough so that caramel won't leak out. Try to push the silpat down along th edges to simlate lining pan with foil.

Chop the pecans into morsel sized chunks.
Using a chef's knife, chop the pecans on a cutting board until they are the size of chocolate morsels. You can use a food processor, but since you are only coarsely chopping the pecans it isn't necessary and produces pecan dust which you don't need and would have to sift out.

Combine sugars, corn and maple syrups, cream and butter and bring to boil.
Combine the sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup, corn syrup, cream and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir frequently until it comes to a boil. Wash down sides several times with water using a pastry brush.

Once boiling, increase heat to medium high and stir constantly until it reaches target temperature. With the heat increased to medium high, stir the mixture continuously until it reaches 242-243° F (116°) for dipping or else 246-248° F (117° C) for wrapping..

Remove from heat and add salt and vanilla. Then add pecans and stir.
After removing the caramel from heat, add the salt and vanilla and stir until blended. Add the pecans and give another stir to thoroughly mix.

Pour into oiled or silpat lined baking dish. Let sit overnight wrapped tightly.
Pour mixture into prepared baking pan. Cover well and let cool overnight. Once you are ready to dip or wrap, peel the foil off the caramel. This can be a major pain, particularly for gooier caramels (dipping), but I recently found that shoving a silpat sheet into a baking pan solves the problem. Oil a large plastic cutting board and place the caramel slab there. Slice into pieces and wrap or dip.

*** i used light brown sugar, it's what i had handy. i also did not use safflower oil, just regular veggie oil.

i knew that i had done it right the 2nd time around because the caramel hardened as it cooled. it took awhile for me to cut and wrap but i ended up with a lot. my roommate loved it, pam loved it, and my phamily did too when i brought some for turkey dinner. hopefully my soldier will too. i'll probably make this again for the holidays to have around the office.

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Today's soundtrack, David Cook, Always Be My Baby

it's my fave Mariah song but he does a great version of it.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Chicken Claypot

one of the things that i've learned about working as a server is that it not only requires a customer service oriented mindset (something i lack but sure can fake), but a sales mentality. i'm constantly upselling, suggesting veggie sides, pimping the more expensive seafood items and cocktails. working for my tips is turning me into a car salesman. awesome. another thing i've taken to is sampling the menu. working on my feet burns calories and so i'm constantly hungry. i didn't lie when i said i did not like their food but i have been able to find a select few dishes that i can actually say with honesty that are ... ok. not authentic vietnamese per say but i don't feel bad when i tell patrons that they taste ... ok. management tells us servers to not "bash" the menu but to say everything tastes delicious. not me. i'll be damned if i tell someone to eat the pho or ca kho to when i know that it tastes like doo doo brown. iJustSayin. instead, i pause (for dramatic effect) and say as sweetly as possible... "it's not my grandmother's... however... the chicken claypot is quite good..." (i get kudos a lot for my brutal honesty which i'll take any day over tips)

so their chicken claypot is my preferred dish. presentation-wise, it gets a lot of oohs and aahs. (some people are so easily awed. suckers.) taste-wise, it's pleasantly sweet, salty and warm. it's served in the claypot itself, the rice marinated and immersed in the caramalized ginger soy sauce, the chicken tender and peppery. and sometimes, if they ask, i will tell them how it's made so they can make it at home. repeat customers are nice but i like to think they're returning for my sunshine disposition, and not so much for the ok cuisine. :) again, iJustSayin.

CIMG0027


Chicken Claypot
as inspired by the place i PT at

***note, in the style of my grandmother, i do not have exact measurements, i just cooked as i went ***

day old rice
chicken cutlets, cut into smaller than bite size pieces
ginger, julienned or big pieces (which i did because i like the hint of ginger in the background, but not so much the pieces themselves. so when they're bigger, i can pick them out to discard easier)
soy sauce
sugar
ground black pepper and sliced green onions for garnish

in a pot, add some sugar and soy sauce. allow to dissolve and get gooey. when it reaches desired texture and color, add in ginger pieces. then add the chicken cutlets. cook chicken. add in the rice and mix well. there should be enough sauce to coat the rice. for presentation purposes, i sectioned off the dish in a ceramic pot and threw it in the oven for about 15 minutes. it got all merry in there. when i was ready to eat, i topped with pepper and green onions. it was fab.

CIMG0026



Today's soundtrack: Groove Theory, Tell Me

it's just a great song...

Monday, December 1, 2008

Miso Butternut Squash Soup ~ Nov's Recipe to Rival

Dear Recipe to Rival Peeps ~
i was very thankful this month that the challenge was a soup. perfect for the weather and for turkey dinner. so thank you to Meg of Joy Through Cooking and Lori of Lipsmacking Goodness for hosting. i reduced the recipe drastically to feed just 3 people. i hosted turkey dinner this year, with jab, my roommate and her sister. i knew jab was not going to touch the soup and i definitely did not want a huge container of leftover soup in my fridge.

i made the broth a few days in advance. there's no science to it. i threw in a bunch of vegetables i picked up at the farmer's market, a few herbs (rosemary, thyme and bay leaf), some salt and then i ignored it for about 1.5 hours. i also made chicken stock afterwards. call it a stock kick.

i'd never made mirepoix before but i was totally game to it. it added such a depth of flavor to the soup! and the miso was a nice touch to it all. i did not use Creme Fraich. i used sour cream instead.

overall, the dish came out lovely. i don't know if i'd go thru the whole mirepoix thing again. it made the soup taste great, yes, but sometimes this psuedo-cook just does not need that added step or pan to wash. just saying. i served the soup with Turkey Dinner. it was a hit. i made some bread to go along with it, had i thought about it, i should've made a bread bowl and served the soup that way. next time ...

i look forward to the next challenge. i bought a kitchen aid mixer during Black Friday (elbows were not thrown but i was prepared to use them) and i hope to make use of it.

till next time, take care,
Angry Asian

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Squash Soup with Vanilla Crème Fraiche
Prep Time: one hour and 30 minutes
Serves: more than 8
Spike & Andrew's recipe:

Mirepoix:
3 sliced leek bottoms (rinsed)
4 carrots (peeled and sliced)
10 shallots (peeled and sliced)
1 clove garlic
1/2 lb butter
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup miso stir
Salt and pepper

Squash:
5 acorn
5 butternut
Oil for rubbing
Salt and pepper

Vegetable Stock:
4 quarts water
2 white onions
4 carrots, peeled
2 leeks
6-8 button mushrooms
Bouquet garnish (parsley, bay leaves, peppercorns)

Vanilla Creme Fraiche:
Creme fraiche
2 vanilla beans

Additional Ingredients:
Salt to taste
Cayenne to taste

DIRECTIONS:
Mirepoix:
Sweat all of the vegetables with butter. Sweat down and deglaze with honey. Stir and add miso. Season with salt and pepper.

Squash:
Cut squash in half, scoop out seeds and reserve one butternut head for garnish. Rub squash with oil and season with salt and pepper. Place one piece of sage under every piece of squash. Place squash face down on a sheet tray and roast at 350 degrees until done. Scoop flesh out and pass through a ricer.
Vegetable Stock:
In a pot, boil all ingredients together with the exception of the bouquet garnishes. (NOTE: allow to simmer for at least 1 hour)

Vanilla Creme Fraiche:
Whip creme fraiche and scrape vanilla beans and fold in.

Soup:
Combine squash and vegetable stock to desired consistency. Add mirepoix and cook. Blend with a vita prep and strain through a chinois. Season with salt and cayenne.
To Plate:
Add 6 ounces of soup in bowl and spoon in creme fraiche. Garnish with bouquet garnishes.

*** Note: as stated before, i reduced the recipe quite a bit, but there was no science to the reduction. i used whatever was available and whatever tasted good to me.

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for more butternut soup goodness...