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Saturday, February 28, 2009

February Daring Challenge: Flourless Chocolate Cake

The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE's blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef.
We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.

Thank you so much to both for host!

Dear Fellow Daring Bakers,
this month's challenge was definitely something that i'd always wanted to try out: flourless baking. i was going to wait til the very last minute to make this with my sister who is visiting from boarding school but one night last week i had a craving for something chocolate-y. rather than try to do something crazy original, i decided to actually do my homework in a timely manner. i may have let them stay in the oven too long so they weren't as fudge-y as i would've liked but they were still good. i made a vietnamese coffee granita because the ice cream maker that i bought off a friend doesn't work. for such a short month, i was able to do the challenge at my leisure. it's still up in the air if i'll ever make this again...

till next month,
Love and sunshine,
Angry Asian

(click on Read more for the recipe and more pix)

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Chocolate Valentino
Preparation Time: 20 minutes

16 ounces (1 pound) (454 grams) of semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
½ cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons (146 grams total) of unsalted butter
5 large eggs separated

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1. Put chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) and melt, stirring often.

2. While your chocolate butter mixture is cooling. Butter your pan and line with a parchment circle then butter the parchment.

3. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and put into two medium/large bowls.

4. Whip the egg whites in a medium/large grease free bowl until stiff peaks are formed (do not over-whip or the cake will be dry).

5. With the same beater beat the egg yolks together.

6. Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate.

7. Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and follow with remaining 2/3rds. Fold until no white remains without deflating the batter. {link of folding demonstration}

8. Pour batter into prepared pan, the batter should fill the pan 3/4 of the way full, and bake at 375F/190C

9. Bake for 25 minutes or until an instant read thermometer reads 140F/60C.

Note – If you do not have an instant read thermometer, the top of the cake will look similar to a brownie and a cake tester will appear wet.

10. Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes then unmold.

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Friday, February 27, 2009

Pumpkin Braised in Coconut Milk (Canh Bí Rợ Hầm Dừa)

when i lived in thailand, it was commonplace to see elephants in the streets. it was also common to see sidewalk restaurants spilling into busy streets, motorcycles weaving thru the scattered crowds of people vying for stools to sit on while they ate their food. it was like musical chairs, in the smog and heat, with hot bowls of soup in hand. what also mixed in with all the heavenly smells of food (and said pollution) was the smell of burning incense. thailand is a predominantly buddhist country (altho, i once volunteered at a blind school and Anan, the boy i read to was muslim). Their temples are things of legend. Egypt has pyramids. America has the Grand Canyon and Dollywood. France has the Eiffel Tower. The UK has Harry Potter and Take That. so thailand has temples of gold (Wat Traimit), or stone. those are the official temples. but then there are the mini wats, found on corners for people to go in, light an incense stick and pray.

they were commonplace. monks were too. early in the morning, they could be seen, in their bright orange robes, going about their almsround. from my understanding of buddhism, monks are vegetarians, they do not harm living things, ev.er. Flipping thru my cookbook one day last week i came upon a delectable soup, perfect for a cold winter night, but also tasty enough that i wouldn't be left feeling hungry. it's what i think a monk would eat: chunks of soft pumpkin, smooth creamy coconut milk. the original recipe calls for the use of salt, i used fish sauce and i also added a few other veggies in it to make it heartier. it came out so pretty, i enjoyed it thoroughly. i was going to substitute butternut squash because i do not like pumpkin but the asian market only had pumpkin. i was pleasantly surprised that the pumpkin was rather unoffensive. now that i think about it, this soup would be great in the summer too, it's that refreshing. even tho i am no longer a buddhist no longer play along with my elders and "fake" the buddhism thing, i've always appreciated the quietness of temples, of the peacefulness of being in a monk's presence, the rightness of burning incense to offer a prayer, i'm pleased to add this monk's soup to the list.

012 (2)

Pumpkin Braised in Coconut Milk (Canh Bí Rợ Hầm Dừa)
adapted from Authentic Recipes from Vietnam by Triệu Thị Chơi and Marcel Isaak

2 cups peeled and cubed pumpkin (¾-inch cubes)
1 can of coconut milk, thinned with water
1 can of bamboo shoots
1 can of straw mushrooms
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt or fish sauce, to taste
Fresh cilantro leaves

013 (2)

In a deep saucepan, bring coconut milk and pumpkin to a boil.
Cook for about 10 minutes, until pumpkin is half done (still too firm to be easily pierced with a knife).
Add the can of mushrooms and bamboo shoots at your leisure
Bring to a boil again, then remove from heat. Season with salt/fish sauce and sugar.
Serve garnished with fresh cilantro leaves.

014

Today's song: sara bareilles, gravity

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bo Kho (Vietnamese Beef Stew)

if there ever was a time for me to tackle a seriously spice laden dish like bò kho, it was definitely this winter. it's been a brutal winter, the coldest in the 7 years that i've lived in Baltimore. and now that i think about it, this deep reddish-brown beef stew was usually made in the heart of winter when i was kid. my grandmother would make a massive pot to eat with french bread. i always picked the soft insides of the bread to dip into the stew and grandfather would have the crunchy outside. we were a good team like that.

when wandering chopsticks posted her recipe for bò kho i figured i'd give it a shot. my token vietnamese cookbook has the recipe too but i found it to be lacking in a few steps. i admit to being quite lost in the spice aisle at the new asian market. one would think that all spices would be in one area. no. i found the 5 spice and star anise in another aisle while i was randomly searching for something else. I KNOW! so annoying. i started the stew friday night but i didn't dig in till Saturday night. with banh pho noodles. which brings up the question, what is the proper noodle to eat with bò kho? i always thought it was with hủ tiếu noodles but i completely forgot to look for them at the store. then i read somewhere egg noodles were ok and i swear, my mom served it with banh pho noodles, which was what i had handy at home. voilà.

Bo Kho



Bò Kho (Vietnamese Beef Stew)
adapted from Wandering Chopsticks

1 lb beef stew meat
1 lb beef neck bones
1 tblsp annatto seeds
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 stalks lemongrass, bruised
2 inch knob ginger, cut into big slices
1 Stick of cinnamon
3 Star anise
1 Bay leaf
2 tsp Chinese 5-spice powder
2 tsp Bò Kho powder (i was soooo tempted to take this short cut...)
2 tblsp fish sauce
2 tsp salt
6 oz can tomato sauce (i didn't have paste...)
carrots, peeled and cut into chunks (i think i used 4)
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
(i didn't add the potatoes)

bo kho



In a large pot on high heat, add 1 tblsp of annatto seeds to some oil. The seeds turn the oil a rich red color. When the oil is the desired color, coop out the seeds and discard. Meanwhile, sprinkle the flour over the beef and bones. Pan fry the meat until all sides are brown. Do in batches because if you just throw all the meat in the pot, it just steams the meat. When done, put all the meat in the pot, add any leftover flour, it'll thicken the stew. Next, basically add all the other ingredients, except for the carrots, into the pot, pour water in till it's 3/4 full. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for about an hour. After the hour has elapsed, throw in the carrots. Simmer. Simmer some more. this dish is best the next day. and then the next. be sure to take out the cinnamon, lemongrass, bay leaf and star anise before serving. i've had bò kho for dinner and lunch since Saturday: with rice, with bread, and with noodles. i love it. :)

bo kho 2



today's song: Tracy Chapman, For You





Monday, February 23, 2009

Oatmeal Slice Bread

back when we lived in africa, my mom used to make bread for my lunch sandwiches. she had a bread maker and i never really thought about the effort that went into making the bread. at the time, it was just annoying. not only did i have to make do with canned meats (think Spam and corned beef...), but it wasn't sandwiched between wonderbread. the bread my mom would make was good, just not thinly sliced, uniformed or store bought. it was crumbly. thankfully, my mom got over the whole making things at home kick. i wonder where that bread maker is now ...

anyway, some time ago i got over my fear of yeast and homemade breads. i've made a number of breads and as a result, i've come to appreciate the fact that homemade bread, or rather, my homemade bread tastes better sans preservatives, and whatever other random stuff manufacturers use when they make bulk sliced bread. since coming to this conclusion, i have not bought sliced bread. in fact, jason was over one day and asked if i had bread in the house. i told him, quite snottily, that i.do.not.buy.bread. if i can help it. i go thru cycles of the types of bread i bake: zuchinni, bananananana, challah, french, whatever. this week i had a hankering for actual sandwich bread. i chose an oatmeal based bread recipe that came out really well.

oatmeal bread

Oatmeal Bread
adapted from Pepsakoy

1 1/4 tsp dry yeast
2 tbsp warm water
3/4 cup + 1 tbsp warm buttermilk (i used 1 cup of milk mixed with 1 tbsp of vinegar)
2 tbsp honey
2/3 cup rolled oats (not instant) plus extra for topping
1+1/2 cup bread flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp melted butter

Dissolve the yeast with the water in a small bowl and set aside for 10 minutes until foamy. Mix the honey with the melted butter in another bowl. Stir together the flours, the oat and salt in a mixing bowl, then add the yeast and the honey butter mixtures along with the buttermilk into the flours mixture, mix with a dough hook to form a ball and knead for 10-15 minutes until smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and allow to rise for about 1-1.5 hours or until double in volume.

Shape the dough into a loaf and place in a 8 1/2 inch greased loaf pan, cover and let rise for ± 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Cut the bread lengthwise, brush with an eggwash (i actually brushed with olive oil) and sprinkle some oats over the top before baking.

Bake for 25-30 minutes (i baked for about 20 minutes), turn out on a wire rack to cool before slicing and serve.

i've had the bread toasted with jam and sandwiched with egg salad.

oatmeal bread 2

today's song: Bread, Make it With You

Friday, February 20, 2009

Teddy Bear in a jif

one of the things that set me apart when i was a kid from my other cousins was that i did not hold much stock to stuffed animals or dolls. i just wasn't into them. my cousin huey had a white, fluffy teddy bear he carried around with him. his brother Minh had a grey pound puppy (remember those?!). yes i thought they were cute, snuggly and squishy, but i didn't feel the need to have them constantly in my arms. i collected my fair share of the things and boyfriends have given me teddy bears. i have one stuffed gorilla that jason gave me years ago that i keep because it's adorable but i don't sleep with it. what is it about these things that kids love so much? and most importantly, aren't they freaked out when they wake up in the middle of the night with these things in their arms and the unmoving eyes are looking at them, judging them?

last year jason's sister gave birth to a baby boy. i met him for the first time over xmas break and he is the most photogenic child i've ever met. if it were ever a guarantee that all babies could be as angelic as Cole, i'd be more inclined to have kids myself. last month he turned one and i decided to not only celebrate his birth but i wanted to acknowledge jason's sister because afterall, she gave birth to Cole.

teddy bear

For Cole i made him a stuffed animal. i figured i'm the odd one, he probably likes teddy bears. i used a lion brand pattern, it swore it wasn't going to take long but it literally took me weeks to complete. i hate the sewing part and i think i have an aversion to making limbs, as mine turned out uneven sizes. i've done my fair share of stuffed animals this past year and it's all the same, there's always something off with the limbs. i used a J hook rather than the H because i wanted the teddy bear to be somewhat on the big side for Cole. for michelle, i bought cute frames from Restoration Hardware and filled with pictures i had taken of Cole over xmas. i had a lot of pictures to choose from, i couldn't help not snapping away on my camera! he wasn't talking yet but he did make the "ba" sound which i informed Michelle means daddy in vietnamese. the kid is totally bi-lingual! :)

teddy bear 2

today's song: Sesame Street Theme Song

would you believe, in two days my own blog is a year old? :) i started out doing crafts and then i realized that cooking and baking was pretty damn enjoyable, and chronicling it was amusing so... here i am. speaking of which, have you seen the list of Top 50 Food Blogs? most of the blogs listed are ones i visit and drool over... not only for content, but for the beautiful pictures and inspiration. my friend Mike gave me the best compliment: given a more professional layout, i could eventually get on that list. AW! that is not my goal, that would take too much time and effort on my part, i'm just glad my own personal friends enjoy this blog and that i've met other bloggers too. happy weekend!


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Chicken Tikka Masala

i've always said that if i ever won the lottery, i would travel. that's such a broad idea of traveling. there are many, many, many countries i'd like to see. however, i'd love to spend a month in india. to be fair, i don't even know much about india, apart from what i learned in World History and what i've seen in movies. maybe it's one of those things where one feels a rightness in something unknown: you don't necessarily know when a cake has come out right, but it feels perfect, or having just completed a difficult test that you studied for and leaving the classroom just knowing you did well. that's how i feel about visiting India.

until i actually win the lottery, i make do with eating indian food. chicken tikka masala is one of my favorite indian dishes, with it's tangy spices and tender chicken. it's usually my go-to dish when i go out for indian, unless there's a pre-fixed menu or i'm feeling adventurous.

it's been so cold lately, i decided to make use of some spices i had hanging out in my pantry. i didn't have all the necessary ingredients, but i made an adequate attempt at it. it sure has been keeping me warm this week, what with temperatures dipping into the 30s again.

chicken tikka masala

Chicken Tikka Masala
adapted from Food & Wine and Grace Parisi

MASALA MARINADE
cup plain low-fat yogurt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, fat trimmed
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 tablespoons garam masala
1 1/2 teaspoons pure chile powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

MAKE THE MASALA MARINADE:
In a large glass or stainless steel bowl, combine the yogurt, garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, cardamom, cayenne and turmeric. Season with salt and pepper.

the recipe calls for A LOT of different steps and use of some other ingredients that i didn't have. the next evening, i basically cut up the chicken, threw all the ingredients into a pot, added water, cooked on low til sauce had thickened. a very, very lazy way of cooking but it suited me.

today's song: Tyler Ramsey, Worried

Monday, February 16, 2009

Molasses-Ginger Cookies

happy heart day! i spent mine with jason and it was an all around great day. :) as i do every year, i made my valentine's day cards. this year tho, rather than spend hours playing with stickers i decided i wanted to try my hand at origami. martha stewart has an antique-style valentine that i couldn't resist. however, her instructions were left to be desired. reading thru the comments section, i came across Debbie's Place and she posted a video on how to make the card properly. thank goodness for her because i was going to boycott martha over this card. another kind of card i made was the heart card. it is so cute! i used to write notes to my friends in middle school and fold them into hearts. i figured since i was going to be sending little notes to my friends, i'd fold them. plus, it's so much easier and less time consuming. along with these cards, i made heart soaps and molasses-ginger cookies.

vday gift bakets

Molasses-Ginger Cookies

adapted from SammyW

1 1/8 cup oil
3/8 cup molasses
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 tsp ginger
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
3 tsp baking soda
3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
pieces of candied ginger, diced

Mix the oil, molasses, eggs and brown sugar together until well combined. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Roll out dough and top with candied ginger pieces.

Bake at 375 for 5-8 minutes, cookies should be soft and chewy. Cool on rack.

molasses cookies

today's song: AJ Roach, Fashionistas


Sunday, February 15, 2009

.: lunch at el patron :.


for two saturdays in a row, jason and i have hit up el patron in mt. vernon. it used to be a quaint chinese restaurant, and when i wandered the halls of the big rowhouse i saw remnants of the former resident. they still had a few of the silk ottoman chairs and the frosted glass doors had dragons depicted on them. we mainly stayed in the front room tho, which fronted as the bar. our first lunch there was pretty busy for just one waitress/bartender. poor girl was running around between the different rooms. despite the lack of a waitstaff, service was not slow. jason ordered the beef enchillada platter and i went with the classic jalapeno cheesesteak.

jason devoured his plate, i think i had one bite of my sandwich and he was basically done. then again, i'm a notoriously slow eatter. my sandwich was good, fresh. i liked the way the steak was cooked, just medium rare, and the added avocado gave it some creaminess. i washed it down with a fruity red wine sangria. it was actually really good and i'm not usually the biggest fan of mexican cuisine. naturally, i had to have dessert: flan. :) mexican flan is different from vietnamese flan. it's heavier, thicker and more bitter. still enjoyable tho.

our experience there was so positive that for vday lunch, jason and i went back there. this time, their staff had grown. again, service was good. i had a white wine sangria with lunch. jason and i shared the beef enchillada plate. we didn't stay for very long, but i'm sure we'll be back often.




Friday, February 13, 2009

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Chip Oatmeal Cookies

remember back when i claimed that i had a signature cake? and remember how i determine something as good vs. Kim-Good? this week, i've discovered my signature cookie and oh, dare i say it? it's above the Kim-Good level. i know! this tryst actually began back in december when Shannalee of Food Loves Writing posted about her grandmother's Oatmeal Cookies. her recipe calls for hand stirring only. at the time, i was so enamored with my mixer, Isabella, that i could not bear to NOT use her services. the cookies came out nice, lovely even. but i didn't.love.them. happenstance last week i had all the ingredients handy and i figured, why not? my soldier could use another flavor of goodness to choose from... i followed the recipe exactly, even hand stirring them, except i also added equal parts chocolate chips AND peanut butter chips.

i'll say it, GENIUS addition. the peanut butter just added a little extra ... LOVE to the cookies. i spooned them out with a tablespoon and baked them just shy of 10 minutes. **I** believe that the combination of the lower temperature and shorter bake time make these cookies better. i brought a few to work to nibble on and had one of the account reps try half (i couldn't bear to give him the whole piece...) he said they were the best oatmeal cookies he's ever had, better than his wife's. i admit, i felt smug. when the weekend came, i doubled the batch and added a few tweaks ... the end result... well. i told kelcy i believed these cookies could cure anorexia. an obnoxious statement, yes, but they are that good.

oatmeal cookies

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Chip Oatmeal Cookies
adapted and inspired by Shannalee's Grandma

2 sticks of margarine
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 tbls water
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour (slight, not over)
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsps baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/4 cup peanut butter chips (i used reeses pieces cus i ran out of the chips)
about 1 cup creamy peanut butter (my not-so-secret addition)

oatmeal cookies 2

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients but the oatmeal and the chips. After well-mixed, add the oatmeal and stir together. Then add the chips.

Drop by rounded spoons (shannalee's gma used tablespoons, i used my half tablespoon for smaller cookies) on baking sheet. i baked them at around 10 minutes, until they were just touched golden. cool completely on wire rack.

oatmeal cookies 3

these cookies make me feel like i could fight crime, but the only thing i'd fight would be my jeans because they'd be hard to put on after i've eatten a few dozen.

today's song: Exile, i want to kiss you all over


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Chocolate Ginger Swirl Cookies

don't think i've forgotten my fling with all things ginger. i still have beaucoup amounts of the syrup and ginger pieces hanging out in my fridge. i've thrown each or both in the most random of foods. talk about multiple uses of one ingredient! when i saw a pretty swirly fudge and caramel cookie on foodgawker, i knew i had incorporate ginger in there somewhere. Katharine's recipe calls for the use of caramel syrup so i figured i could use ginger syrup instead. i emailed her for her thoughts and she was very encouraging. so these swirl cookies became part of a baking gals package for my soldier this month. i included three types of cookies this round: the swirls, ginger-molasses cookies and oatmeal cookies. the latter two will be posted about eventually.

for this round of Baking Gals, i joined team KelseyKakes again and our soldier is Bryan Tull who is a broadcast journalist in the Army Reserves. This will be his second tour to Iraq, and it's a year long. His unit's primary mission is to work directly with members of the international media who visit Iraq to get "the real story". This is such an important job as we all know that the information we have access to is a priceless tool for understanding what’s really happening in our world. He is protecting our freedom of press and freedom of speech... and for that, we bake! Bryan's unit, being the journalists they are, have a blog: Blogs Over Baghdad.

Please remember our troops overseas. Despite the somber environment of everyday Life, we are blessed to have Sgt. Tull and all the men and women in service who are protecting our way of life.

swirly cookies

Ginger Fudge Swirls
adapted and inspired by Sugar Laws

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/3 cup sugar (i only put a cup)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar (i did not pack it in, it probably equaled to about 1/4 cup)
1 egg
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup ginger syrup
1/3 cup all-purpose flour (or less, as needed)
1/4 cup cocoa powder

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars. Beat in the egg, vanilla and lemon juice. In a separate bowl, combine 2 1/4 cups flour, the baking soda and salt, add them to the creamed mixture. Divide the dough in half and place each half into a separate bowl.

For half the dough, mix in the cocoa powder until the dough is unformly colored. For the other half, add the ginger syrup and enough extra flour that the dough is not extremely sticky — about 1/4 to 1/3 cup. Roll each half of the dough into a half-sheet pan-sized rectangle (about 16″ by 12″) and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. (i actually refrigerated overnight).

Place the cocoa-flavored sheet of dough on top of the caramel one, and roll them together into one log. Refrigerate the log for an hour. After 45 minutes, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

When the cookies are ready to be baked, cut the dough into 1/4-inch slices. Place each cookie 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with silipat. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool. (i baked the latter half of the cookies at about 5-6 minutes).

084

verdict: the first batch of cookies were on the harder side. i like my cookies soft so to compromise, i baked them a bit under and they were better. my exroommate Crystal was in town and i had her try it, without telling her what the ingredients were. she liked the subtle ginger kick. my current roommate Samir liked that the cookies weren't all that sweet, they were just sweet enough.

085

today's song: Kings of Leon, Sex on Fire

i'm really digging on this band right now.

Monday, February 9, 2009

.: Aldo's during restaurant week :.

normally when restaurant week arrives in Baltimore, i try to make room in my budget for at least one visit. however, with the economy as it is, i completely let it bypass me. that is, until jab mentioned that he wanted to try an italian place. we rarely have italian and it's actually jab's favorite cuisine. i'm not as enthused about it. if i want my food covered in a heavy sauce, i prefer that sauce to be a black bean sauce, or a spicy tamarind, or ginger soy sauce. that gets me salivating. but i was willing to give it a go.

the thing about italian for me is that it's heavy. mind you, giada is my fave celeb chef on foodtv and i turn to her recipes the most. her dishes are light and airy and pretty. but would you really call her dishes really italian? Aldo's promised to be an italian experience. from the moment i stepped into the restaurant, tho, i was not impressed. the maitre d' was not warm or inviting. with a few minutes to spare, i ordered a glass of wine at the bar, that was packed. the bartender was efficient but again, not very inviting. i hoped that the first two ambassadors of this place was not a sign of things to come.

oh but it was. the restaurant was busy, i think much more so than they normally are for a thursday night. the one lone server our section was so rushed. he was very polite and i actually felt sorry for him. he was way over his head. service took forever.

melon wrapped with proscuitto

to start, i ordered the Prosciutto e Melone, which i enjoyed but had to trade with jab because he got the Sashimi-Grade Saku Tuna Loin Carpaccio, Tonnato Sauce. i enjoyed that too tho so it's all good. all the appetizers did not require cooking and yet it took close to 45 minutes for us to be served.

tuna tartar

our entrees did arrive late as well. i think we finished yet another basket of bread before they arrived. i chose the Tagliata di Manzo • Seared Beef Tenderloin which came out very nicely albeit a small portion. jab ordered well, he chose the Line-Caught Florida Grouper "Francese". the risotto was creamy and warm, the grouper fresh and cooked just right. i nibbled off his plate more than mine.

steak and potatoes

grouper  and creamy seafood risotto

normally i don't finish my plate, there is always leftovers to take home to have for lunch the next day. not that night. even when i was already fully, i picked at my plate waiting for someone to clear the table. I KNOW! when my panna cotta came out, overly drizzled with mango coulis, it was just not appetizing. jab's cannoli was better but i thought kinda hard. maybe it was a day old?

mango panna cotta

canoli

i won't go back. but i liked the company. and really, sometimes that's enough to make an evening.


fondant calla lily

last week i went to a Fun with Fondant Hands on Workshop. it was just for a few hours. i wanted to see what the hype was about. to me, fondant makes cakes look pretty but i can't say that it looks appetizing. i've never been a frosting or icing kind of girl and something told me that i wasn't going to be much of a fondant kind of girl either. want to know a secret? it's not that great. the practical part of me, the part that thinks about how much money and time is put into it is just not worth it. because in the end, the fondant is not consumed and all that energy spent to mold it, color it and make it beautiful ... really? but then i see creations of the most beautiful ribbons, colors and i think ... ok, i get it.

really, i do. at this workshop, i learned how to make a marshmallow fondant. i learned how to play with it. i also learned that i was a mediocre art student, particularly during the clay works. fondant was no different. flowers seemed like easiest thing i could create that looked pretty enough to pass off as hard. :)

fondant cake

Marshmallow Fondant

15 oz mini marshmallows
2 tbl water
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp lemon juice (fresh or bottled)
2 tsp light corn syrup (helps with pliability)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp lemon extract
2 lbs (approx 7 cups) confectioner's sugar, sifted
1/2 cup crisco or vegetable shortening

Grease microwave proof bowl with crisco. Also grease wooden or heat proof spoon. Pour marshmallows and water into bowl. Nuke for approximately 2 minutes stopping and stirring at 40 second intervals. Mixture should be soupy.

Take out of microwave and immediately add corn syrup, lemon juice, salt and extracts. Stir well. Sift confectioner's sugar into mixture, one cup at a time. After approximately 5 cups, grease your hands well crisco and knead the mixture in the bowl. add the 6th cup and continue to knead. Now grease work surface well and turn mixture out of bowl onto counter. Sifter remaining sugar, regrease hand and knead well. If mixture seems soft, add one additional cup of powdered sugar.

Shape into a mound and put a coating of crisco on the outside. DOuble wrap in plastic wrap and insert into ziplock bag. Press air out of bag and seal. Allow to rest overnight, but can be used after sitting for a few hours.

for the calla lily i made, it was so easy. if i ever play with this again, i'll take step by step pix. i credit a lot of my daring bakers challenges and bread kneading in the past for making this so easy. trust me, if i can do it, anyone can.

fondant calla lily

today's song: Holly Brook, Wanted


Friday, February 6, 2009

Cincinnati Chili

i've been to Cincinnati, OH once. it was for a week, during the height of summer. actually, i was right at the border of KY and OH. my hotel was in one state and i cross the bridge to the next building where training was and i was in the other state. not only was it hot as hades, it was a boot camp for recruiters. it wasn't like Band Camp or the Parent Trap kind of camp; it was a week long camp for ambitious and aggressive recruiter trainees from all over the country converged to do one thing and one thing only: make sure our respective home offices were well represented by our exemplar behavior and witty minds. can i say that there wasn't a day during that week that i didn't talk to my manager and basically cuss him out for sending me? thankfully, during my absence, he worked my desk and i was able to close 4 deals; a feat that paid off handsomely 6 months later when i bought my place.

now, about Cincinnati. apparently they're famous for a type of chili. i read the recipe, i liked it because it doesn't call for the use of any beans. i'm not a beans person. also, it lists chocolate as an ingredient! anything with chocolate can't be bad, right?! the taste has a sweetness to it and the raw onions gives it an extra bite. i liked it a lot and the pot i made lasted me all week. i used ground chicken, only because i don't buy ground beef normally. the first night, the sauce came out thick. as a result, the next night when i heated up the pot, i added about half a cup of water to thin it out. much better.

chili 2



Cincinnati Chili
adapted from Sounding My Barbaric Gulp

1 pound ground chicken
1 onion, minced
1 tbl of minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons chili powder

3 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt

2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
15-ounces tomato sauce
1 cup chicken or beef broth
1/2 cup water

Heat a large, heavy frying pan with a tablespoon or so of olive oil over medium high heat and when hot add the beef, minced onion and garlic, and chili powder. Sprinkle in the red pepper flakes. Cook until the meat is browned.

In a separate bowl combine the cocoa, cinnamon, allspice, cumin, and salt. Add to the meat and stir fry for another couple minutes until fragrant.

Add the bay leaves, Worcestershire, vinegar, tomato sauce, broth and water. Turn heat to low and simmer for an hour, or until thickened.

** i did not add any peppers, altho i've seen recipes list the use of chipotle peppers, etc. i like my food spicy but i'm just not a fan of it being so spicy that my tongue gets numbed and i don't taste anything.

this chili can be topped with raw onions, cheese, pinto beans or oyster crackers. i just topped mine with chopped raw onions.

OH chili

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Tom Yum Goong ต้มยำกุ้ง (Thai Hot & Sour Soup with Shrimp)

at the height of my teen angst i lived in bangkok, thailand. looking back, being a third culture kid wasn't that hard or bad. i actually had it really good. i was immersed in a completely different culture than i was used to, i received a solid preparatory education and the exposure to the exotic food was first class. to this day i view street vendor food as first class cuisine. it may not come in a fancy bowl or have five-star presentation but i would bet it'd taste better. the thais really put care into their food, using fresh ingredients. further, they always always had a wide variety of condiments to add to their already delicious dishes. to choose: different fish sauces, chilis, soy sauce, sugar, crushed peanuts, mints, vinegar, and herbs. what is also really notable is that it was all very cheap. i can't wax poetic words like Anthony Bourdain but believe when i tell you that there are some words that can't give these flavors justice. when i see episodes of him in southeast asian countries, it makes me miss the streets of bangkok. and with this raging winter now, i really miss bangkok.

to bring back some of that warmth, i recently made tom yum goong, a thai hot and sour soup with shrimp. this soup is very different from the vietnamese version in that, to me, it's very sour. but there's a balance that the thais have perfected that makes the combination of sourness and spiciness work. i was unable to capture it but it was still warm and kept the cold at bay.

016



Tom Yum Goong, ต้มยำกุ้ง
adapted from Real Thai Recipes

2 lemongrass stalks, cut into 1" pieces and smashed a bit
6 lime leaves (1 tablespoon), torn with center vein removed
2 tbls galangal sliced thin
1 tbl coriander roots, about 2 roots
1 shallot, minced
1 medium tomato, cut lengthwised and then cut into bite size pieces
2 cups broth (pork, chicken)
1 can of straw mushrooms
4 or 5 medium-sized saltwater shrimp, cleaned and shelled
pinch salt
1 1/4 teaspoon fish sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons roasted chili paste
1 tablespoon lime juice (or more to taste)

1 tablespoon coriander chopped

prep all the ingredients. i like to have it all cut, diced, minced and measured out already. Bring the broth to a boil. Add the lime leaves, lemongrass, coriander root, galangal and tomato. Boil for 4-5 minutes. add the mushrooms and tomato and this is where *i* season the soup. it's all to taste. i didn't use exactly a pinch of salt or whatever amount of fish sauce, it's all about how it tastes to me. (this is perhaps why it did not taste like it came from thailand. whatever.) when ready to eat, add the shrimp. cook till just pink, serve topped with the chopped cilantro. i didn't have any at home, i used green onions instead.

hot sour soup


this video was soooo big when i was 11th grade and it was filmed in malaysia. for some reason i had always thought it was thailand.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Recipes to Rival: Holopchi

Dear Fellow Recipe to Rivalers,
i'm sorry i'm a day late. at least i did it tho, right? i'm trying to stick to my rule of not blogging on weekends. i started the process the day the challenge was due. it was a gorgeous day out, i even stepped out in a short sleeve tshirt and i was ok!

anyway, this month's challenge was Holopchi, a Ukranian dish. i'd never heard of it. reading the recipe it calls for beet leaves or kale. i like neither so i used cabbage. it also called for the use of some crazy amount of butter and cream.

it can't be said that i loved this dish. it was certainly different. i made it with a side of sauteed apples and leeks and baked chicken. i doused the chicken in the cream sauce.

Special thanks to
Equal Opportunity Kitchen and A Good Appetite for hosting this month! to view more Holopchi entries, hit the Recipes to Rival blogroll.

So, til next time, from my rice paddy to yours,
love and sunshine,
Angry Asian



(click Read more for the recipe)


Beet Leaf Holopchi
from The Keld Community Ladies Club in Ashville, Manitoba.

Bread Dough:
2 pkgs. yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp sugar
2 cups scalded milk
4 cups warm water
1/4 cup melted butter
8 cups flour
3 eggs, beaten
2 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp Sugar
6 1/2 cups flour
a couple bunches of beet leaves

1. Dissolve 1 ts. sugar in 1/2 cup tepid water, sprinkle with yeast and let stand for 10 minutes.

2. To the milk-water liquid add the melted butter, dissolved yeast and 8 cups of flour. Let rise in a warm place until double in bulk (about 1 hour)

3. Add salt, beaten eggs, sugar and remaining flour.

4. Knead well until dough is smooth and top with melted butter or oil.

5. Place in a warm place and let rise until double in bulk. It will take about 2 hours. Punch down . When dough has risen to double in bulk, place a piece of dough, the size of a walnut on a beet leaf and roll up (leaving sides open)

6. Place holopchi loosely in a pot to allow for dough to rise to double in bulk again.

7. Arrange in layers, dotting each layer with butter.

8. Cover tightly, bake in a moderate oven of 350 F for 3/4 to 1 hour. Serve with dill sauce or cream and onion sauce. (I like to cook the holopchi with the sauce but you don't have to. You can add it later - just make sure you have enough butter in roasting pan before layering your beet leaf rolls.)
(I baked mine longer - about 1 1/2 hours and was happy with the result)

Sauce

1/2 cup butter
2 cups whipping cream
8 small onions (I used chives)
2 handfuls of chopped fresh dill (this makes the whole dish)
2-4 large cloves of garlic, chopped fine

Melt butter in saucepan. Add onions (chives) garlic, dill and cream.
Let it come to a boil and then turn down the heat.
I like to cook the holopchi with the sauce but you don't have to. You can add it later - just make sure you have enough butter in roasting pan before layering your beet leaf rolls.

This is not a 5 minute recipe. When you commit to making it - it's an adventure - most definitely a worthwhile one. This recipe filled an open roaster and a turkey sized roaster.


Sunday, February 1, 2009

.:one night in india:.

the three times i've been to NYC with jab, without fail, we've had indian for dinner. and the other time before, with buu, we had indian. i could not tell you, tho, where the restaurants were. i can tell you tho it was always an experience. this past time, i made sure to make note of the name of the restaurant at least!

my love affair with indian food began when i lived in ethiopia. for the most part, during my two years there, i did not eat meat much. however, when we did patron the token indian restaurant in addis ababa i'd venture to have meat again. and my love for lamb and goat also started there. i'm a fan of lamb vindaloo but lately i've been all about the chicken tikka masala.

jab loooooves him some chicken vindaloo and without fail, he'll casually mention that he wants it spicy... and without fail, they bring out spicy for him. i remember one year it came out so spicy, he had to share my chicken curry. :)



prior to hitting broadway, he and i went to utsav, which means celebration. the decor was subdued, nice. jab and i enjoyed a drink at the bar first. the bartender was very welcoming, chatty which is exactly what jab likes. when we were ready for dinner we headed upstairs. i can't say it was elaborately decorated but i still liked it. while the server was very nice, i can't say he was as polished as the bartender. he didn't provide much of an introduction to the cuisine/menu and was kinda short when taking our order. of course jab went with the vindaloo and i opted for the prefixed menu.



i chose lasuni gobhi to start, cauliflower tossed in a garlic and tomato sauce. it was actually a bit on the spicy side, something i wasn't expecting. it came with a side of mixed greens.



for the main course, i chose the lamb pasanda, which came out tender and warm. not too spicy which was perfect for me. my plate had a side of mixed greens, sauteed spinach and saffron rice. the waiter also brought out a lentil stew, but he didn't realy say much other than that it was lentil.





while i enjoyed my entree, jab was sniffling thru his chicken vindaloo and naan. i encouraged him to try the indian beer. he was determined to finished his vindaloo. i had a bite and it was good, but the spiciness did creep up on me. a bite was more than enough for me.



to end the meal, i had mango mousse which i wasn't a fan of. i'm not much on ethnic desserts, not even vietnamese. i'm a basic chocolate cake or apple pie kinda girl.

overall, it was nice restaurant. by the time we left to go to the show, the restaurant had filled up with quite a bit of people, all older tho. i don't know if this restaurant were in baltimore if jab and i would go again. i personally felt some kind of warmth was missing from the atmosphere. my previous experience in nyc at other indian joints, there was always bollywood music blaring and a effusive amount of fawning from the servers.