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Monday, August 31, 2009

forgo the glass of milk this time: Milk Cake

a few weeks ago (gawd, i am so far behind in my blogging!) i made a luscious cake for a friend's 30th birthday. an occasion that i didn't even partake in because another friend was celebrating her birthday that evening. to make up for my absence i offered to bake him a cake. he requested a custard cake, which of course brought to mind something fruity. but he wanted chocolate, so i thought maybe something boston cream pie-like? then he corrected himself, saying it was more like a chocolate mousse cake. mmmkay. so i sent him a list of about 10 (!!) links to my fave baked goods from tastespotting and foodgawker, one of them being the tri-mousse cake. i hoped he wouldn't choose that one, because seriously, i've already made it. over it. he responded with his top 3, and i could choose whichever. fine. i love being the one who makes the final, executive decision.

before i go into his verdict, i do want to say that two things happened while making this:

1. i did not have corn starch. so i had to substitute flour. fyi: for every 1 TBL of cornstarch, use 2TBLs of all-purpose flour.

2. i effed up the layers. as in, i forgot the damn biscuit mid way thru 2nd pour of the milk layer. i screamed in agony, my roommate found me crouched on the kitchen floor writhing in actual pain. she had to scoop out the layer and put in the biscuit for me, i was so distraught. yes, i was that dramatical.

Mike's verdict, he's so eloquent: in between the alcohol, i had a piece of cake. the best way i can explain it is, it tasted like a chocolate covered cream puff. Not sure if that was what it was supposed to taste like, but it did. i don't know if freezing vs. refrigerating it makes a difference. we let it sit out so it wasn't frozen, but not mush. very easy to cut through, not messy. would i eat it again while drinking? sure. Would i eat it sober? Sure.

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Milk Cake slightly altered from Palachinka, only because i didn't have a *major* ingredient.

Biscuit
2 eggs
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1.5 Tbsp cocoa powder
2 Tbsp warm water

Beat eggs with sugar. Sift flour, cocoa and baking powder in a separate bowl and fold it into the egg mixture. Add water and stir.

Bake in a preheated oven on 350°F for about 15 minutes in a 8" diameter spring-form pan, or until toothpick inserted comes out of the biscuit clean. (I used a 9" because it's what i had)

Bake 2 biscuits like this for the cake.

Milk cream
670ml (roughly 2 3/4cups) milk
70g corn starch (5/8 cup or in my case, 1 1/4 cup of flour, altho i think i only used half that amount for fear it would come out cake-like)
2.5 Tbsp sugar
70g white chocolate (5/8 cup)
170g margarine, on room temperature (3/4 cup)
100g powdered sugar (7/8 cup)

Mix 1/2 cup milk with sugar and corn starch. Pour remaining milk in a pot add white chocolate and cook on medium heat until it boils. Reduce the heat and pour in corn starch mixture, stirring constantly. Continue to cook until it thickens. You will know it is thick enough if, when you scrape the bottom of the pot with the spoon, you can see the bottom. Let cool.

Beat margarine with powdered sugar and beat in milk cream.

Topping
140 g milk chocolate (1 1/4 cup)
3 Tbsp milk
2.5 Tbsp sugar
100 g margarine (1/2 cup)

Put all the ingredients into a double boiler and cook until you get nice cream. Leave it to cool.

Assembling: 1 biscuit, half of the milk cream, half of the topping, repeat.

to be fair, my roommate helped with the conversion. i would've been lost without her.

bday


today's song: Kings of Leon, Use Somebody

Thursday, August 27, 2009

August Daring Bakers: Dobos Torte

The August 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers' cookbook Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caff├ęs of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

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Dear Fellow Daring Bakers,
i was so thrilled this month that we were doing an actual cake. Further, i had an actual event to offload said cake. i'm thinking, tho, based on the recipe and activity on the boards that i could've gotten away with halving this recipe and making miniatures instead, and it would've come out fine. as it was, because i was attending a company lunch and feeding whoever was in attendance that day, i decided to double the cake recipe (to offset any flubbing of the layers as well). i knew the amount of butter cream was going to be enough, because i hate having extra. (i'm not an icing kinda girl...)

had i planned correctly, i would've done this challenge over two nights but as it was, one of the nights was date night and so my 4 hours after work the day before the picnic was spent sweating my ass off in the kitchen as Baltimore went thru a killer heat wave. in addition, Top Chef premiered that night and i had to watch because there were 3 local contestants, one of them being Bryan Voltaggio of VOLT. thru two degrees of separation, i had to cheer him on, plus i'm headed there for lunch this weekend. :)

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my first layers looked ugly and the subsequent ones came out a tad thicker than i would've liked but still rather pretty. i flubbed majorly doing the caramel topping and even tho i liked the pix of other bakers' on the boards, i thought it was too cumbersome on top. the commute into work that morning with the cake in the passenger seat was dire for some reason. i decided to just break off the caramel pieces that weren't effed and stick them randomly on top. how's that for cumbersome?
my coworkers were rather impressed with the cake. i flecked the sides of the cake with some almonds. my account rep Steve said the cake was "rather spongey" and my office girlfriend Courtney preferred the cake cold. (in regards to that, i had left the cake out at room temp on day of picnic and there were some pieces leftover, which was put in the fridge. the next day, Courtney had a piece and it was firmer and the icing not as soft.)

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to see how other daring bakers fared, hit the blogroll.

Thanks for such a great challenge this month Angela and Lorraine!

Love and Sunshine,
Angry Asian

Equipment
2 baking sheets
9” (23cm) spring form tin and 8” cake tin, for templates
mixing bowls (1 medium, 1 large)
a sieve
a double boiler (a large saucepan plus a large heat-proof mixing bowl which fits snugly over the top of the pan)
a small saucepan
a whisk (you could use a balloon whisk for the entire cake, but an electric hand whisk or stand mixer will make life much easier)
metal offset spatula
sharp knife
a 7 1/2” cardboard cake round, or just build cake on the base of a springfrom tin.
piping bag and tip, optional

Prep times

Sponge layers 20 mins prep, 40 mins cooking total if baking each layer individually.
Buttercream: 20 mins cooking. Cooling time for butter cream: about 1 hour plus 10 minutes after this to beat and divide.
Caramel layer: 10-15 minutes.
Assembly of whole cake: 20 minutes

Sponge cake layers
6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups (162g) confectioner's (icing) sugar, divided
1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (112g) sifted cake flour (SUBSTITUTE 95g plain flour + 17g cornflour (cornstarch) sifted together)
pinch of salt

Chocolate Butter cream
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (200g) caster (ultra fine or superfine white) sugar
4oz (110g) bakers chocolate or your favourite dark chocolate, finely chopped
2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (250g) unsalted butter, at room temperature.

Caramel topping
1 cup (200g) caster (superfine or ultra fine white) sugar
12 tablespoons (180 ml) water
8 teaspoons (40 ml) lemon juice
1 tablespoon neutral oil (e.g. grape seed, rice bran, sunflower)

Finishing touches
a 7” cardboard round
12 whole hazelnuts, peeled and toasted
½ cup (50g) peeled and finely chopped hazelnuts
Directions for the sponge layers:

NB. The sponge layers can be prepared in advance and stored interleaved with parchment and well-wrapped in the fridge overnight.

1.Position the racks in the top and centre thirds of the oven and heat to 400F (200C).
2.Cut six pieces of parchment paper to fit the baking sheets. Using the bottom of a 9" (23cm) spring form tin as a template and a dark pencil or a pen, trace a circle on each of the papers, and turn them over (the circle should be visible from the other side, so that the graphite or ink doesn't touch the cake batter.)
3.Beat the egg yolks, 2/3 cup (81g) of the confectioner's (icing) sugar, and the vanilla in a medium bowl with a mixer on high speed until the mixture is thick, pale yellow and forms a thick ribbon when the beaters are lifted a few inches above the batter, about 3 minutes. (You can do this step with a balloon whisk if you don't have a mixer.)

4.In another bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining 2/3 cup (81g) of confectioner's (icing)sugar until the whites form stiff, shiny peaks. Using a large rubber spatula, stir about 1/4 of the beaten whites into the egg yolk mixture, then fold in the remainder, leaving a few wisps of white visible. Combine the flour and salt. Sift half the flour over the eggs, and fold in; repeat with the remaining flour.
5.Line one of the baking sheets with a circle-marked paper. Using a small offset spatula, spread about 3/4cup of the batter in an even layer, filling in the traced circle on one baking sheet. Bake on the top rack for 5 minutes, until the cake springs back when pressed gently in the centre and the edges are lightly browned. While this cake bakes, repeat the process on the other baking sheet, placing it on the centre rack. When the first cake is done, move the second cake to the top rack. Invert the first cake onto a flat surface and carefully peel off the paper. Slide the cake layer back onto the paper and let stand until cool. Rinse the baking sheet under cold running water to cool, and dry it before lining with another parchment. Continue with the remaining papers and batter to make a total of six layers. Completely cool the layers. Using an 8" spring form pan bottom or plate as a template, trim each cake layer into a neat round. (A small serrated knife is best for this task.)

Directions for the chocolate butter cream:

NB. This can be prepared in advance and kept chilled until required.

1.Prepare a double-boiler: quarter-fill a large saucepan with water and bring it to a boil.
2.Meanwhile, whisk the eggs with the sugar until pale and thickened, about five minutes. You can use a balloon whisk or electric hand mixer for this.
3.Fit bowl over the boiling water in the saucepan (water should not touch bowl) and lower the heat to a brisk simmer. Cook the egg mixture, whisking constantly, for 2-3 minutes until you see it starting to thicken a bit. Whisk in the finely chopped chocolate and cook, stirring, for a further 2-3 minutes.
4.Scrape the chocolate mixture into a medium bowl and leave to cool to room temperature. It should be quite thick and sticky in consistency.
5.When cool, beat in the soft butter, a small piece (about 2 tablespoons/30g) at a time. An electric hand mixer is great here, but it is possible to beat the butter in with a spatula if it is soft enough. You should end up with a thick, velvety chocolate butter cream. Chill while you make the caramel topping.

Lorraine's note: If you're in Winter just now your butter might not soften enough at room temperature, which leads to lumps forming in the butter cream. Male sure the butter is of a very soft texture I.e. running a knife through it will provide little resistance, before you try to beat it into the chocolate mixture. Also, if you beat the butter in while the chocolate mixture is hot you'll end up with more of a ganache than a butter cream!

Directions for the caramel topping:
1.Choose the best-looking cake layer for the caramel top. To make the caramel topping: Line a jellyroll pan with parchment paper and butter the paper. Place the reserved cake layer on the paper. Score the cake into 12 equal wedges. Lightly oil a thin, sharp knife and an offset metal spatula.
2.Stir the sugar, water and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over a medium heat, stirring often to dissolve the sugar. Once dissolved into a smooth syrup, turn the heat up to high and boil without stirring, swirling the pan by the handle occasionally and washing down any sugar crystals on the sides of the pan with a wet brush until the syrup has turned into an amber-coloured caramel.
3.The top layer is perhaps the hardest part of the whole cake so make sure you have a oiled, hot offset spatula ready. I also find it helps if the cake layer hasn't just been taken out of the refrigerator. I made mine ahead of time and the cake layer was cold and the toffee set very, very quickly—too quickly for me to spread it. Immediately pour all of the hot caramel over the cake layer. You will have some leftover most probably but more is better than less and you can always make nice toffee pattern using the extra to decorate. Using the offset spatula, quickly spread the caramel evenly to the edge of the cake layer. Let cool until beginning to set, about 30 seconds. Using the tip of the hot oiled knife (keep re-oiling this with a pastry brush between cutting), cut through the scored marks to divide the caramel layer into 12 equal wedges. Cool another minute or so, then use the edge of the knife to completely cut and separate the wedges using one firm slice movement (rather than rocking back and forth which may produce toffee strands). Cool completely.

Angela's note: I recommend cutting, rather than scoring, the cake layer into wedges before covering in caramel (reform them into a round). If you have an 8” silicon round form, then I highly recommend placing the wedges in that for easy removal later and it also ensures that the caramel stays on the cake layer. Once set, use a very sharp knife to separate the wedges.

Assembling the Dobos
1.Divide the butter cream into six equal parts.
2.Place a dab of chocolate butter cream on the middle of a 7 1/2” cardboard round and top with one cake layer. Spread the layer with one part of the chocolate icing. Repeat with 4 more cake layers. Spread the remaining icing on the sides of the cake.
3.Optional: press the finely chopped hazelnuts onto the sides of the cake.
4.Propping a hazelnut under each wedge so that it sits at an angle, arrange the wedges on top of the cake in a spoke pattern. If you have any leftover butter cream, you can pipe rosettes under each hazelnut or a large rosette in the centre of the cake. Refrigerate the cake under a cake dome until the icing is set, about 2 hours. Let slices come to room temperature for the best possible flavour.

Storage
I (Angela) am quite happy to store this cake at room temperature under a glass dome, but your mileage may vary. If you do decide to chill it, then I would advise also using a glass dome if you have done. I should also note that the cake will cut more cleanly when chilled.

Variations
Shape: The traditional shape of a Dobos Torta is a circular cake, but you can vary the shape and size if you want. Sherry Yard in Desserts By The Yard makes a skyscraper Dobos by cutting a full-size cake into four wedges and stacking them to create a tall, sail-shaped cake. Mini Dobos would be very cute, and you could perch a little disc of caramel on top.

Flavour: While we both love the dark chocolate butter cream and this is traditional, we think it would be fun to see what fun butter creams you all come up with! So, go wild! Or, you could brush each layer with a flavoured syrup if you just want a hint of a second flavour. Cointreau syrup would be divine!

Nuts: These are optional for decoration, so no worries if you're allergic to them. If you don't like hazelnuts, then substitute for another variety that you like.



Tuesday, August 25, 2009

something cold for a hot summer day: Watermelon Soup

there are some things that i find unnatural. for example, rhubarb. i realize that i've reconcilled with this vegetable but i still think it's rather unnatural, despite it being a natural produce. to me, it looks like a bleeding celery stalk. so when i tried a cold soup for the first time the summer before 6th grade, in Seoul, South Korea, even tho it was seasoned nicely, i thought it was unnatural and actually, i thought "this would probably taste better warm." same thing with gazpacho when i first tried it about 9 years ago. i gave gazpacho another chance last week with Nuria, again, my reaction to it was rather tepid. one would think i'd give up already. however, i did enjoy me some cool cucumber avocado soup last summer (that's more to do with the fact that i love avocado...) and since this summer is all about trying different things, i decided to make a watermelon soup, to use up all the extra watermelon i had laying around.

the end result was nice. it was sweet, the salt bringing out the natural sweetness of the watermelon, but the creamy goat cheese added another layer of flavor. i could just make out the hint of garlic in the background, and the balsamic vinegar was a nice touch of tang.

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Watermelon Soup
i made it up, kinda. i'm sure it's already been created, i just threw things into a bowl and pureed to my heart's content

watermelon
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
ripe tomato, divided. diced to be topped and chunked to be pureed with mixture
salt and pepper for taste
1 garlic clove

again, no measurements. use your tastebuds for this one. essentially, i added all the ingredients and pureed until smooth. i had a few leftover diced tomatoes and watermelon pieces and crumbled goat cheese to garnish with. i also added a few drops of olive oil and balsamic vinegar for looks. there were so many other things i would've liked to have added: cucumbers, cilantro, green peppers, some herb...

today's song: ana carolina and Seu Jorge, E Isso Ai

Monday, August 24, 2009

Grilled Watermelon Salad

it's been hot lately, hitting up to the 90s. i know, cry me a river. 90s isn't that hot but sometimes with the heat, i just don't much feel like cooking. so when i caught an episode of a new show on Foodtv called 5 Ingredients Fix and the chef made a simple grilled watermelon salad, i decided that it had to be made, and soon.

this heat is also causing me to not feel much like blogging. i'm in the midst of something right now and my words are spent. so have a look-see.

the verdict: i hope to make this often before it gets too cool to enjoy watermelon, and i feel the urge to make heavy soups and stews again. hopefully by that time i'll feel like talking again.

out of curiousity, what have you been throwing together to eat for dinner when you just don't feel like cooking?

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Grilled Watermelon Salad
adapted from 5 Ingredient Fix

seedless watermelon, cut into 1" thick slices and 3X3
balsamic vinegar
olive oil
kosher salt
boston bib lettuce
green onions, diced
crumbled goat cheese

i don't have exact measurements, i just layered on the plate, like a napoleon. first layer is the bib lettuce, next watermelon slice in the middle (which i grilled on the forman grill for a few minutes. unfortch, the grill doesn't get hot enough to produce grill marks), and top with some crumbled goat cheese. repeat steps. top it all off with some green onions, and lightly drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. serve immediately.

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today's song: Greg Laswell, And Then You

Monday, August 17, 2009

Pattypan Squash Soup

i like squash, not just the word but the actual vegetable. so when i inherited a huge pattypan squash from a coworker i was excited. i'd never actually tried it before, but i figured it was anything like it's cousins the zucchini or butternut, i'd be ok. i was right.

what i liked most about this veggie tho is the fact that the skin is edible. i can't tell you how annoying it is having to skin acorn or butternut squashes, either putting some muscle into the task when i'm too lazy to roast them first or waiting impatiently for the skins to be cool enough to peel off if i do roast them. i did boil the pattypan first. i was surprised to see the flesh to be very similiar to wintermelon, pale in shade with just the hint of green. i tried a semi cooked slice, it had a crunchy bite to it, rather bland but still pleasant.

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once the chopping was done, i sauteed a medium onion that i had diced in some olive oil. i also threw in a few cloves of garlic, also diced, into the mix, until the kitchen was fragrant and the onions translucent. next, i added the chopped squash and seasoned with salt. i also added a bay leaf and pint of veggie stock. when the squash was just tender, i carefully pureed the mixture until smooth. i added a dash of cream, but that's optional.

i served this on a warm summer night, because soup to me is good all year round, no matter what season. however, i had allowed the pot to cool somewhat, until it was lukewarm. not quite a full on cream of squash soup to warm the belly and also not a cold soup, but a perfect bowl for an overly warm night. i put some leftover in the freezer for when in a few months, autumn will release us of summer's grip.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Strawberry and Rosemary Scones

today's post is going to be a slight departure from what i normally write: my somewhat maudlin babble about food and what it does to me or why i like it. this time around, because i didn't actually make the scones that i'm picturing (Nuria did, i just poked and prodded, encouraged and teased), i'm going to list my 10 favorite words. i came across this excercise from Elle's New England Kitchen, who reposted it from Dawn of Not Going Postal. Basically, you list what your favorite words are and why. this challenge got me thinking. i like words. i wanted to be a writer of fiction back in the day, and then the dream morphed into journalist. i spent my entire high school career writing for the newspaper, yearbook and literary magazines. my degree is in international journalism. so here i am. doing something completely different, spending the bulk of my day pining for my avocado peeler. but that is neither here nor there. without further ado...

1. Racecar. it's a palindrome. i learned about this concept in the 4th grade. there are plenty of other palindrome words but that's the one i remember.

2. Laugh. i love that the "gh" makes an "ff" sound. and i love the actual acting living out of the word.

3. Smiles. this is so hokey but the two S's on either side of the word spells "mile" making it the longest word ev.er. plus, this is something that i need to do more and dang it if my braces won't eventually help in that cause.

4. Obsess. i do this a lot. it's what i do. i obsess about yarn, food, books, shoes, the future, the present and the past. sometimes i seem to just embody the concept of obsession.

5. Quality. this was a 5th grade vocabulary word. and it's something that i have gradually learned to incorporate in my Life.

6. F*ck. anyone who knows me that knows that i swear a lot. this particular word encompasses passion and anger, is a verb and a noun, and when said correctly anyone who speaks any language will understand it. it's a worldly word. haha.

7. Twelve. i like that the sound the T and W make and then add in the L and V. plus, i was born on the twelth day of the twelth month. 12 is another way to express it in written form. it's also my favorite number. need i say more?

8. Hysterical. i use it to describe something extremely funny. i know it also means a state of uncontrolled panic, anger, or excitement. in my case i use that word to describe some uncontrollable hilarity.

9. Hooker. when i was a kid, with the exception of buu, i was in the company of a bunch of boy cousins. i was rather girly, i danced around and posed in front of the mirror a lot. this earned me a nickname that translates figuratively as Ms. Priss, however, when translated literally the term basically means... well... hooker. now i use the term rather loosely. haha.

10. Seethe. for awhile. no wait. for years. or maybe, truth be told, the early part of my Life, i seethed. whether it was in bitterness, envy, anger or desperation, it was always silently. it's good to not do that anymore.

what are your favorite words?

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Strawberry and Rosemary Scones
from Giada Di Laurentiis

Scones:
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tbl finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
6 tbl unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup strawberry rhubarb jam

Glaze:
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, from 1 large lemon
2 cups powdered sugar

Directions
Special equipment: a 3-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter

For the scones: Place an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper. Set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar, baking powder, rosemary, salt, and butter until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl. Gradually stir in the cream until the mixture forms a dough. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 1/2-inch thick, 10-inch circle. Using a 3-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out heart-shaped pieces of dough and put on the prepared baking sheet. Gently knead together any leftover pieces of dough and roll out to 1/2-inch thick. Cut the dough into more heart shapes and add to the baking sheet. Using an index finger or a small, round measuring spoon, gently make an indentation in the center of each pastry heart. Spoon a heaped 1/2 teaspoon of jam into each indentation. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Transfer the cooked scones onto a wire rack and cool for 30 minutes.

For the glaze: In a medium bowl, mix together the lemon juice and powdered sugar until smooth. Gradually add the water until the mixture is thin enough to spread. Using a spoon, drizzle the glaze over the scones. Let the glaze set for about 30 minutes. Serve or store in an airtight plastic container for 2 days.

Cook's Note: i don't have a food processor so this was done by hand by stirring together the flour, sugar, baking powder, rosemary, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter. Using your fingertips or a pastry blender, work the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Gradually stir in the cream until the mixture forms a dough. we also put the dough in the fridge for 2 hours before rolling it out and cutting into it.

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verdict: soft and flaky. i had nuria bake them just under, barely golden at the edges. this batch of jam was on the tart side, which complemented the dough quite nicely. the cookie/scone itself isn't sweet but with the added punch of the jam, it created a lovely mix on the tongue. i'd ix-nay the lemon glaze next time.

today's song: Usher, Burn

Monday, August 10, 2009

another first: Cottage Cheese Pancakes

i would have to say breakfast is my favoritest meals of the day (the 1st one at around 9am and then eleven-sies. The hobbits have nothing on me!) however, i'm not big on pancakes. it's heavy to me, the cakes sticking not only to the roof of my mouth but then sliding down my esophagus and basically sitting like a brick in my stomach. the added syrup coating my entire insides, because there is no such thing as putting just a little on your cakes. admit it, you do it. i feel the same way about waffles and french toast. a bite or two of someone else's is usually enough for me and i'm set for a year. however, recently Nuria told me that she's never had pancakes before. as one of my twitter friends said, that's tragic. i mean, really? so that saturday morning, in lieu of making fun of Rachael Ray, i whipped up some cottage cheese pancakes. i had a spare container hanging out and i figured it would lighten the cakes. plus, the recipe i found called for just FOUR ingredients. score.

the thing about making pancakes (or anything like it ie: crepes, french toast etc) is that the first few look like ass. the temp is not right, the shape is off, it's burned on one side or whatever. plus, getting the right amount of fluffiness is key. i fear that i may not have achieved said fluffiness, i'm just not skilled in the art of making pancakes. it happens. i'm over it. Nuria was only ok about them. it ended up being too sweet (good thing i didn't top it all with powdered sugar). i topped with strawberries, adding a bit more sweetness and tartness, and making it easier to consume. the cakes were lighter than normal. still. i'm good till next summer.

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Cottage Cheese Pancakes
from Amy of My Famous Recipe

*note, i halved the recipe. since i wasn't sure if Nuria was going to like and with my penchant for having just a bite or two, i didn't want all that batter to go to waste.

3 eggs
1/2 Tbl vanilla
6 oz cottage cheese
1/4 cup flour
oil

separate the eggs and beat the ever living hell out of the whites, thank goodness for Bella, my mixer. when peaks are reached and it's all fluffy, set aside. in another bowl, beat the yolks until they're pale yellow. add the vanilla, cottage cheese (i used non-fat) and flour. the mixture will still be rather liquidy. gently fold the yolk batter into the whites, be careful to not over mix. (this is tricky... don't stress about it)

heat up a frying pan (i have only two small ones so i had two going at the same time. i'm a multi tasker... don't be jealous) with some oil. pour about a ladle full of batter in the middle and fry up until lightly brown and then flip. re-oil pan between batches.

Note: Amy errs on the side of under cooking them so that they're not deflated by the time they leave the pan. like when i'm cooking beef, i err on the side of making sure they're really cooked (don't fret, i still order my steak medium-rare at restaurants... it's the cooking part that gets me). can be topped with sugar (granulated or powdered), jam, fresh fruit, butter, maple syrup, really whatever you want!

serve immediately.

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Today's song: O.A.R., One Day







Thursday, August 6, 2009

something new: grilled fennel salad

i tried fennel for the first time this summer. it was a big deal. i mean, not a big deal like when i became a US citizen or when i finally parallel parked my car by myself but a big deal nonetheless. i'd been dodging the fennel bullet for awhile because i had heard it tasted like licorice. i hate licorice. my only point of reference is the black licorice candy that coats and sticks to your tongue, bitter and not exactly sweet. the very smell grosses me out. so why in the world would i entertain trying fennel?

i blame the foodnetwork. i followed Racheal Ray closely back in the day, attracted to her angle that cooking, from start to finish, should be around 30 minutes. my type of cooking in general because i'm a girl with a time budget and many other hobbies that require my attention away from the kitchen. Racheal cooked often with fennel, to showcase her sicilian roots. Giada di Laurentiis also plays with fennel often. it's only natural that i would succumb eventually. during a twitter infested night my twitter friend @dorifern posted something about her fave fennel salad. i requested the recipe for use and that became my big deal.

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Grilled Fennel Salad
from @dorifern

@dorifern's salad is raw but i decided to grill the fennel, to soften it a bit. my braces-impaired teeth was feeling rather tender.

slice fennel thinly and splash with a bit of olive oil. grill till desired softness. dressing: smashed and minced garlic, lemon juice, olive oil & salt to taste. pour over fennel. mix that junx up and enjoy! i was going to shave some parmesan cheese but i didn't have any.

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it still tasted wonderful. i don't know if i didn't pick the a "ripe" fennel or the grilling and dressing masked it, but i didn't taste the licorice-ness. it was a fresh taste, still slightly crisp, sweet but with a note of sourness from the lemon juice. it was the personification of summer on a plate.


today's song: Jason Mraz, If It Kills Me

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Roasted Pork Loin Rubbed with Guinness Mustard

last week, after i made the guinness mustard i knew i had to make something proper to highlight it. i meant it when i said that altho i love me some mustard, it's not an everday ingredient that i use. a roasted pork loin rubbed with the stuff sounded like something i could sink my teeth into. pork can be pretty bland if not seasoned properly and very dry and hard if cooked for too long. i'll be honest, i was intimidated. pork loin is not something i've cooked with before. however, i wasn't going to not do it just because i wasn't familiar with it.

at the grocery store, i stood at the meat section examining every single pork item. with bone. without. chops. ground. ham. then i reached the loin section. i was pretty much lost. so i closed my eyes and grabbed one and that was that. decision made. that wasn't the only good decision i made. when cooked properly, the loin was juicy with just the right amount of taste and the guinness mustard added a slight tang, the little mustard seeds bursting delicately as i chewed. *this* has become my fave dinner.

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Roasted Pork Loin Rubbed with Guinness Mustard
adapted from Kathleen of One Tree Past the Fence

1 boneless pork loin (i bought a 3 lb loin)
salt/pepper to taste
1 tbl vegetable oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
1 tbl Guiness Mustard (or dijon mustard)
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 cup water (or stock)
splash of milk
1 tsp flour

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Preheat oven to 375 Season meat with salt/pepper. Mix the oil with the cumin, paprika and cayenne, rub the loin with the mixture all over. Put the pork in a baking dish that it will fit comfortably. Sprinkle with nutmeg on top and bake for 15minutes.

In the meantime, mix the mustard with the garlic and set aside.

After 15 minutes, turn the meat. Bake 15 minutes longer.

Remove from oven temporarily and place pork on a plate, rub the mustard on top.

Pour off all the fat from the baking dish.

Place the baking dish on the stove and add the water, stirring with a whisk, to dissolve the good brown bits at the bottom of the pan.

Return the pork to the baking dish.

Return the meat to the oven and continue baking 15 minutes.

Remove the meat to a warm platter and heat the sauce. At this point the sauce is kinda thin, the pork wasn't that fatty so i added a bit of flour to the milk before adding it to the sauce. Allow it to heat thru and thicken slightly.

Allow the meat to rest for about 10 minutes before slicing in. Serve with sauce spooned on top.

Mouth watering much?

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Saturday, August 1, 2009

Bruschetta & Limoncello : July Recipes to Rival

To my Fellow Recipes to Rivalers,
i skipped last month due to budgetary and time contraints. but i am back again to participate. this month's challenge is brought to you by Lauren of Fried Pickles and Ice Cream. we went to Italy: Bruschetta and Limoncello. it's a perfect summer meal: slices of crunchy garlic bread topped with cool diced tomato and olive oil concoction. the limoncello is a palate cleanser, usually drunk after dinner or added in something sweet like semifreddo.

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i added chopped green peppers to my bruschetta, i had half of one leftover and i didn't want it to go to waste. the limoncello was more like an experiment for me. it initially smelled like rubbing alcohol and the end result, prior to the simple syrup being added, looked rather unappetizing with it's neon yellow hue. however, once the syrup was added, the yellow became a lovely buttercup shade, but cloudy. the taste was still strong but Nuria thought it was great. i'd add it as a splash with some seltzer water or clear soda.

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have a great August,
Angry Asian