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Friday, March 27, 2009

March Daring Bakers: Homemade Spinach Lasagna

The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.

Dear Fellow Daring Bakers,
i am not waxing any kind of poetry about this month's challenge. i actually did it two weeks ago, and it was divine. muuuuuch easier than expected and tasted muuuuuuch better than i had dreamed it would. i am being curt because i am off to Puerto Rico for a much needed, long awaited vacation.

that is all.
till next month,
Angry Asian

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for more pretty takes on this month's challenge, hit the blogroll.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

chocolate angel food cake

after my challah craze last week, i had a plethora of egg whites at my disposal. not wanting to throw them out, i thought about making meringue cookies or tuilles. but they all seemed like so much work. more work than i wanted to put into after a night on the town. more work than i had energy for. the requirement of either doing tray load after tray load of cookies, or burning my fingers again, curling piping hot tuiles. not at all appealing. i wanted to put isabella to work. so i chose a simple chocolate angel foodcake. my goal was to put as little energy into the whole process as possible, while still having the end result of something light and airy, chocolate-y and perfect with coffee in the morning or tea in the evening.

chocolate angel food cake

Chocolate Angel Food Cake
recipe from epicurious

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 egg whites (or 1 1/2 cups prepackaged egg whites)
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract

Transfer the oven rack to the lowest level. Preheat oven to 325°F. Sift 1 cup sugar with flour, cocoa, and salt; set aside. Using an electric mixer set at medium-high speed, whip egg whites, lemon juice, and vanilla in a medium-sized bowl until peaks form. Set mixer to high speed and whip in remaining 1/2 cup sugar until semistiff peaks form (do not overbeat). With a plastic spatula, slowly fold in the remaining dry ingredients, 1/4 cup at a time, until flour mix disappears. Scoop batter into a 10" ungreased tube pan and spread evenly. Bake until cake springs back when touched, 45 to 55 minutes. Remove from oven, invert cake pan, and place upside down on a cooling rack.

today's song: aerosmith, angel

Thursday, March 19, 2009

mushroom bisque

It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade. ~Charles Dickens

to me, 50degrees is not warm. it's just not. then again, when it hit 80 in bangkok, i thought it was a tad chilly. I KNOW! this past weekend was no different in that i was esconsed in my flannel blanket and knee high socks. don't think i don't appreciate that the sun sets later now. that the wind, tho still with a bite of cold, holds a promise of green grass. and the sun. when it comes out from behind the grey clouds, the sun actually seems to smile. it makes me happy. cold. but happy. :)

a few weeks ago, jason bought me a cookbook. The Everything Cooking for Two Cookbook. (a hint, perhaps?) seriously tho, how cute! i found a recipe for portobello bisque. it looked interesting. what made it even better was that you can use any kind of mushroom, i used white button. because it's what i had handy. despite it's greyish-brown color, it was delicious. mushrooms when cooked down turns a dark brown. don't be turned off by the slight gruel color. coupled with my pumpkin challah, it was a warm and soothing dinner, just right for a not quite warm march evening.

mushroom bisque



Mushroom Bisque
adapted from The Everything Cooking for Two Cookbook, by David Poran

2 tbls butter
1 small onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic gloves
10 oz mushrooms (any will do), roughly chopped
1/4 cup uncooked long grain rice
5 cups broth (chicken, beef or veggie)
1/2 cup of half and half (or cream or milk)
salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp chopped fresh taragon (i used thyme)

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Heat the butter in a small saucepot over medium heat. When the butter stops bubbling, add the onion and garlic and saute for 3 minutes.

Add the mushrooms, rice and broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a gentle simmer and cook for 30 minutes, uncovered.

Remove from heat and add the half and half (or whatever you're using, you can even omit this ingredient if you want.)

Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth. After pureeing, return soup to the pot and heat to serving temp. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

** i added the thyme during the simmer process, just for even more earthy goodness.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

pumpkin challah

when H mentioned to me last week that she wanted to try my challah bread, i decided i'd make a go at another challah recipe, doing the initial dough steps and leaving the latter steps for her to do. it requires some kneading but i figured isabella could do most of the work.

h is preggers and poor girl is suffering from indegestion and heartburn. i read somewhere that pumpkin, when baked, can get rid of heartburn. (source) it's like killing two birds with one stone! feeding a friend and hopefully squashing her heartburn. i ended up quartering the dough, keeping a section for myself, and the rest for Kim, Buu and H. i think this is going to be the what i'll give as gifts from now on. :)

buu challah

(photo caption: taken by buu, who decided to braid H's challah. she also called me 3 times, even after i gave her detailed instructions on what to do with the dough.)


Pumpkin Challah
inspired by Spoon or Foon, recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart

2 1/2 tsps active dry yeast, (1 1/2 packages)
1 cup warm water (100 degrees to 110 degrees)
3/4 cup egg yolks, (11 to 12 large eggs), plus 1 large egg yolk for glaze
1 tbl salt
2 tbls canola oil, plus more for bowl
1/4 cup honey
2 cups homemade Pumpkin Puree, or one 15-ounce can
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp allspice
8 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

Proof the yeast: Place 1/2 cup warm water in a small bowl, and sprinkle yeast over it. Stir to combine, and let sit until mixture becomes foamy, about 10 minutes.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine egg yolks with remaining 1/2 cup warm water. In a medium bowl, combine salt, canola oil, honey, pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice. Replace paddle attachment with dough-hook attachment, and add the pumpkin mixture to the mixer bowl; combine. Add the yeast mixture, stirring until combined.

Slowly add flour, 1 cup at a time, until all the flour is incorporated into dough. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, and knead the dough by hand for 10 minutes. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, punch down the dough, and then form it into two 8-inch loaves. Place the loaves on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover with a kitchen towel, and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

While the dough is rising, heat the oven to 350º. Mix remaining egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water. Brush the loaves with the egg glaze, and bake until golden brown, about 50 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack, and serve.

***note: keep in mind, the portions were quartered and the loaves actually baked for closer to 30minutes.

Kim's Verdict: I decided to go non-traditional and not braid the challah dough. I found a blog a while back that made holiday wreath bread and i love what they did with the dough. source.

Overall the bread is delicious! the pumpkin flavor is very subtle but that's how I like it. Oven time should be about 35 mins. Mine is a little dark than I wanted.

Buu's Verdict: Really moist and good texture but I forgot a little salt.

My verdict: again, i did not brush with egg wash. i ran out of eggs. actually, what really happened was that i used up the egg whites in a angel food cake and neglected to section off a bit for the wash. oops. still, the challah came out moist and was the perfect accompaniament to the mushroom bisque i made for dinner.

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(photo caption: kim's wreath.)


today's song: Incubus, Drive

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

yeasted banana bread

when i first moved in with my father, peter, as a pre-teen, i think i showed signs of being very stubborn and headstrong, and perhaps belligerently arrogant. i say this because whenever i was reprimanded for something, peter would lecture me about "eating my humble pie." during those lectures, i wouldn't have the foggiest idea what the hell he was talking about because more than likely, i was being yelled at for getting a B in math or sassing my mother, so i couldn't figure out the correlation between the two. maybe i was too prideful, refusing to kowtow to anything he said. or maybe he was just trying to warn me that being so bigheaded about anything would eventually get me in trouble.
this past weekend i attempted to make banana bread. not the sweet, almost dessert-like bread. but a loaf-like bread, avec yeast. the tweaks i wanted to make, in hindsight, were a bit ambitious. baking is a science (a subject i loathed but even i see the practicality of it), exact measurements blah blah blah. i didn't want to use ONE banana, like the recipe calls for, i had TWO overripe ones that needed to be used. i didn't have dry milk, i never use dry milk so why buy a box of it? as a result, i used liquid form (1/4 cup dry milk = about a cup of liquid milk) so the batter came out wetter. i had to figure out how much extra flour to use. now, that is eating my humble pie. fighting with the Baking Gods to ensure the entire loaf doesn't come out like vomit. yeah, i was definitely in trouble. the dough refused to cooperate, basically making fun of me for trying to make short cuts of the recipe - short cuts that clearly became long cuts. but like how i was as a teenager, i refused to kowtow and start over (i had already used up all the friggin milk AND banana!). and like a repeat episode of my teen angst years, i was not going down without a fight.


yeasted bananananana bread

Yeasted Banana Bread
adapted from Technicolor Kitchen and the Zen Kitchen
(if you want the "real" recipe, go to their pages, i'm posting what *i* ended up doing)

2 teaspoons instant yeast
3 tablespoons sugar
¾ cup lukewarm water
5 - 6 cups unbleached all purpose flour (initially, it's 3 cups but i just added the extra flour based on the feel of the dough. when it started feeling and looking like bread dough, i stopped)
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (56g) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup milk (i used 2%)
2 ripe bananas, slightly mashed

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Place the yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer, add 1 pinch of the sugar and cover with the water. Mix well and set aside until foamy.
Add the flour, salt, remaining sugar, butter, milk and bananas and mix them using the dough hook (or knead by hand) until the dough is smooth and soft) Place in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise 1 to 1 ½ hours until almost doubled in bulk.

Remove from bowl and knead a bit. the original recipe calls to ball the dough but i just loaf'd it. the dough wasn't exactly that pliable and i didn't want to add much more flour or else it would've been too dry.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF; bake bread for 35 minutes, until golden.

verdict:
it actually came out alright. the bread was moist and not too banana-y. not exactly a failure, thank goodness. i served it during my crafternoon special with the broads on sunday, and i had a slice for breakfast today.

it was definitely a whew moment for me, reminding me not to mess around that much because i could've definitely gotten in some baking trouble. how's that for eating my humble pie?

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today's song: Matt Nathanson, Bare

Monday, March 9, 2009

cà phê sữa đá panna cotta (vietnamese ice coffee panna cotta)

this technically constitutes as a repeat item because i first made coffee panna cotta last summer. however, this time, i put a bit more effort and thought into the process. it turned out well, but maybe with this weekend and the loss of an hour already, it wasn't the best thing to be taste testing at 10pm, thereby postponing bedtime by a few hours.

to me, cà phê sữa đá or vietnamese ice coffee is the ultimate pick me up. the condensed milk at the bottom of the cup, and hot black coffee slowly dripping on top of it. mix it all together and pour over ice. the sweet bitterness of the drink never fails to remind me of hole in the wall pho restaurants; and usually brings to mind the smell of cigarettes and men milling around small tables.
use real butter had a pomegranate lemon panna cotta that used yogurt and had a lovely swirl design to it. i used that for inspiration.

Picnik collage

cà phê sữa đá panna cotta
inspired by use real butter

sữa (milk) panna cotta
1 1/2 cups milk (i used 2%)
1/2 cup condensed milk
1 cup of plain non-fat yogurt
1 packet of unflavored gelatin

gently heat the milk and condensed milk. when warm, sprinkle gelatin and set aside, until soft. stir in the yogurt until well incorporated. pour into glasses, but not all the way, but to desired amount. refrigerate, keep remaining panna cotta on stove. it won't set totally and when you're ready to pour in the next layer, gently reheat.

cà phê gelatin
i didn't pay attention to the exact measurement, probably about 3 cups of strong black coffee. i used cafe du monde.
1 tbl brown sugar (optional)
1/2 packet unflavored gelatin

sprinkle gelatin into coffee (it was not piping hot but it was fairly warm). when dissolved, add the brown sugar and stir well. when the panna cotta has firmed sufficiently pour in the layer of the cà phê gelatin. alternate layers etc.

to be fancy, like use real butter, i tilted my glasses. shall i say, it was a pain in the ass. the swirly layers came out pretty so i'm not really complaining.

Picnik collage


today's song: keane, somewhere only we know




Friday, March 6, 2009

challah bread

the first time i attempted to make challah bread, i used a recipe that called for the use of pureed pumpkin. i substituted butternut squash. it was good. but it did not turn out pretty. i didn't bother with a braid, nor did i bother to take pictures. my roommate crystal and i tore into it and snacked on it all night. when i attempted to make challah again, i went simple and no-knead.

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No Knead Challah
from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois

1 3/4 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tbl granulated yeast (2 packets)
1 1/2 tbl salt
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup veggie oil plus more for greasing the cookie sheet
7 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water)
Poppy or sesame seeds for the top (i ix-nayed this)

Mixing and storing the dough: Mix the yeast, salt, eggs, honey, and oil with the water in a bowl, or a lidded (no airtight) food container.

Mix in the flour without kneading, using a spoon, a 14-cup capacity food processor (with dough attachment), or a heavy-duty stand mixer (with dough hook). If you're not using a machine, you may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour.

Cover (not airtight), and allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.

The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 5 days. Beyond 5 days, freeze in 1-pound portions in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks. Defrost frozen dough overnight in the refrigerator before using. Then allow the usual rest and rise time.

On baking day, butter or grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper, or a silicone mat. Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1-pound piece. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.

Divide the ball into thirds, using a dough scraper or knife. Roll the balls between your hands (or on a board), stretching, to form each into a long, thin rope. If the dough resists shaping, let it rest for 5 minutes and try again. Braid the ropes, starting from the center and working to one end. Turn the loaf over, rotate it, and braid from the center out to the remaining end. This produces a loaf with a more uniform thickness than when braided from end to end.

Allow the bread to rest and rise on the prepared cookie sheet for 1 hour and 20 minutes (or just 40 minutes if you're using fresh, unrefrigerated dough).

Twenty minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 350-degrees F. If you're not using a stone in the oven, 5 minutes is adequate. Brush the loaf with egg wash and sprinkle with the seeds.

Bake near the center of the oven for about 25 minutes. Smaller or larger loaves will require adjustments in baking time. The challah is done when golden brown, and the braids near the center of the loaf offer resistance to pressure. Due to the fat in the dough, challah will not form a hard, crackling crust.

Allow to cool before slicing or eating.

challah

i completely forgot to brush with eggwash so it looks unshiny and dry but it actually tasted really good. i'll still play around for the ultimate challah bread recipe tho. tgif. Challah!

today's song: Stereofuse, Everything


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

homemade pizza

there are things that give people a glimpse of the kind of person you are. for example, my home is jam packed with books. i used to dream of living in a bookstore or a library because i love books that much. i would say that about 95% of my shoe collection are high heels. i like wearing shoes that elongate my legs. my closet is full of slacks and blouses in shades of grey and black, not because i'm a maudlin kinda girl, but because they're shades that are easy to inter-match together. and when i eat, my food does not touch. i prefer my plate to be orderly, a slight wall between portions of food. anal maybe? or maybe, i just like my food to taste a certain way without anything else all intermingling. inevitably my plate is usually clean by the end of the meal. my cousin buulinh likes to mix it all up. she enjoys assaulting my eyes when we eat together and just piling it all on her plate. {gag}

when she came over this weekend for a visit, i gave her the ultimate pile up the food dish: Pizza. my sister pam was also visiting from boarding school and requested bbq chicken pizza. as a result, i decided to have them both play with the pizza dough and do the toppings. i thought of using the daring bakers pizza challenge recipe but good grief, the steps were not appealing to me. waiting for the dough to rise, i just didn't have the time. so i used food loves writing's recipe and it was much much more enjoyable this time around. :)

pizza pizza
(photo caption: this is buu tossing the pizza, i'm egging her on so i can get the picture...)


what made it so enjoyable for me: bossing my sous chefs around. i did the initial steps of the dough and after it had risen and we were ready for dinner, i halved the dough and had them both knead and stretch the dough. i bet pam is going to think twice when she demands pizza from me again! she balked at the whole topping process, not exactly sure how to proceed. i wanted her to think about how food is prepared, in particular foods she loves but expects others to make for her.

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buu, on the other hand, after i made her do the twirling thing, she got back at me. by basically taking everything in my fridge and putting it on the pizza. and her declaration: "I LIKE SUPREME PIZZAS! WHAT?!"

the toppings: spinach, leftover lasagna meat sauce, green onions, red peppers, tomato sauce, bbq chicken, minced garlic, and mozzarella cheese. i only had slight anxiety! :)

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Monday, March 2, 2009

Recipes to Rival: Homemade Ricotta Cheese

To my Dearest Recipe to Rivalers,

i apologize for being a day late. it's a been a helluva weekend, i had my sister and cousin over and i just couldn't bear to be on the computer plugging away about my monthly challenges. i only had the daring bakers up on time because i had posted it in advance.

anyway, this month's challenge was wonderful, something i'd always wanted to try: homemade cheese, specifically Ricotta Cheese. it was hosted by Lauren of I'll Eat You and KatBoro of A Good Appetite. i quartered the recipe, using 4 cups of whole milk and 1 cup of buttermilk.

i had grand plans to make a lovely spinach ricotta cheese souffle (mixing the cheese, with an egg and some spinach, sectioned into cute ramekins, baked in the oven for about 25 minutes...) but somehow i promptly forgot i had put them in the oven. i sat around with my sister and cousin, hanging out and watching TV and completely blanked on having anything in the oven. by the time i walked back into the kitchen, i remembered and they were brown and entirely overcooked. boo! thankfully, i hadn't made a lot and it's not like i can't whip up another small batch of ricotta cheese, now that i know how completely easy it is to create!

Till next month,
love and sunshine,
Angry Asian

ricotta cheese



(click Read More for the recipe and another pic)

Fresh Ricotta

1 gallon milk (you can use 1 percent on up, remember that the more fat in the milk, the more cheese it will yield.)
1 quart buttermilk
-cheesecloth (a good, tightly woven one, not the kind you buy at the supermarket)- If you don't have one of these, you can get by with a slotted spoon, but you may lose some of the cheese.
-a thermometer (mine is for oil and candy)

Place buttermilk and milk in a pot, heat on med-low heat until it reaches 185 degrees F.

It will begin to separate into curds and whey. Be sure to stir occasionally to make sure no curds stick to the bottom and burn. You will see that as the temperature approaches 185, the whey becomes clearer as the curds coagulate more.

Pour the curds into a cheesecloth lined colander. Tie the ends of the cheesecloth together and hang for 10-15 minutes. Remove from cheesecloth and place in an airtight container.

Voila! Cheese!

ricotta cheese 2