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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Steamed Red Snapper with Ginger, Scallions & Shiitake Mushrooms

"The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” ~Julia Child



i recently had two chances to face one of my biggest fears in the kitchen: cooking fish. opening a can of whoop ass tuna does not count. i've made Cá Kho Tộ before but it was with a fish fillet, not a whole fish. doesn't count. however, during a recent grocery jaunt, i told nuria to go ahead and pick up whatever fish was on sale that day and we'd make a go at cooking it. she came back with two lovely red snappers, already beheaded, gutted and cleaned. for one, i roasted with a bunch of veggies, a recipe i had spotted in a saveur magazine some time ago. unfortunately, the pictures did not turn out as well as the fish tasted. a few weeks later, i remembered that we had another snapper in the freezer and i decided to steam it, like how wandering chopstick did. my steps are a little bit different and i added shiitake mushrooms. my only regret is, again, the pictures are still not that great. next time i make this, i'll keep the heads. scary but i think it makes for better presentation.

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Steamed Red Snapper with Ginger, Scallions and Shiitake Mushrooms
(Ca Hap Gung Hanh)

inspired and adapted from Wandering Chopstick

again, i don't have exact measurements. it's all dependent upon taste and size of the fish.

1 red snapper (or any white fish that'll hold up to being steamed), cleaned & gutted
2 Tbls worth of julienned ginger, divided use
2 stalks of scallions (green onions), one cut in 1" pieces and the other diced
soy sauce
fish sauce
shiitake mushrooms, sliced
2-3 Tbl light oil, like veggie or canola (not olive oil which would be too fruity)
sesame oil, just to drizzle at the end for some awesome asian aroma (optional)

with the fish already cleaned, i stuffed it with some ginger and the 1" scallion pieces. i also seasoned inside and out with salt & pepper. then, i loosely wrapped it in foil, creating basically a tent. also, add in a handful of the mushrooms. i don't have steamer so i used my wok, adding about an inch or so of water. then i put in my colander, the water should not reach beyond the bottom holes. bring water to a simmer. put in the foiled fish with a lid on top and allow to steam for about 25-30 minutes (depending on size... just until the the flesh loses it's translucent color and is flaky.)

meanwhile, in a sauce pan add in the oil, diced scallions, the rest of the ginger, soy sauce and fish sauce. heat the sauce thru.

when the fish is cooked, carefully open the foil tent, the steam inside is hot. put fish on plate. arrange the cooked mushrooms and raw mushrooms around fish. slowly pour the hot oil sauce over the fish. finish with a light drizzle of the sesame oil. serve with hot steamed rice.



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Today's Song: Toad the Wet Sprocket, Walk On the Ocean

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sept Daring Bakers: Vols-au-Vent turned Bánh Pâté Chaud style

The September 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.

Dear Fellow Daring Bakers,
you'll be proud of me this month, i started on the challenge early. i went savory and opted to do Bánh Pâté Chaud style. while i appreciated the learning and actual doing process of this recipe, i highly doubt i would ever do it again. it's so much easier to buy it already made in the frozen section of the supermarket. but at least now i know how to do it.

the meat filling i used was also the same filling i used for my wonton soup. totally killed two birds with one stone that weekend.

the end result just so reminded me of my childhood with my grandfather. he loved Bánh Pâté Chaud, the flaky layers and mostly the hot meat inside. i was jumping up and down with excitement over how well it turned out.

as usual, i did the mixing of the ingredients and nuria did the pounding and folding.
for more gorgeous interpretations of this month's challenge, hit the blogroll.

until next time, keep those ovens warm and your rolling pin clean,
Angry Asian and Nuria

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Prep Times:
-about 4-5 hours to prepare the puff pastry dough (much of this time is inactive, while you wait for the dough to chill between turns…it can be stretched out over an even longer period of time if that better suits your schedule)
-about 1.5 hours to shape, chill and bake the vols-au-vent after your puff pastry dough is complete

Forming and Baking the Vols-au-Vent
Yield: 1/3 of the puff pastry recipe below will yield about 8-10 1.5” vols-au-vent or 4 4” vols-au-vent

In addition to the equipment listed above, you will need:
-well-chilled puff pastry dough (recipe below)
-egg wash (1 egg or yolk beaten with a small amount of water)
-your filling of choice

Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.

Using a knife or metal bench scraper, divided your chilled puff pastry dough into three equal pieces. Work with one piece of the dough, and leave the rest wrapped and chilled. (If you are looking to make more vols-au-vent than the yield stated above, you can roll and cut the remaining two pieces of dough as well…if not, then leave refrigerated for the time being or prepare it for longer-term freezer storage. See the “Tips” section below for more storage info.)

On a lightly floured surface, roll the piece of dough into a rectangle about 1/8 to 1/4-inch (3-6 mm) thick. Transfer it to the baking sheet and refrigerate for about 10 minutes before proceeding with the cutting.

(This assumes you will be using round cutters, but if you do not have them, it is possible to cut square vols-au-vents using a sharp chef’s knife.) For smaller, hors d'oeuvre sized vols-au-vent, use a 1.5” round cutter to cut out 8-10 circles. For larger sized vols-au-vent, fit for a main course or dessert, use a 4” cutter to cut out about 4 circles. Make clean, sharp cuts and try not to twist your cutters back and forth or drag your knife through the dough. Half of these rounds will be for the bases, and the other half will be for the sides. (Save any scrap by stacking—not wadding up—the pieces…they can be re-rolled and used if you need extra dough. If you do need to re-roll scrap to get enough disks, be sure to use any rounds cut from it for the bases, not the ring-shaped sides.)

Using a ¾-inch cutter for small vols-au-vent, or a 2- to 2.5-inch round cutter for large, cut centers from half of the rounds to make rings. These rings will become the sides of the vols-au-vent, while the solid disks will be the bottoms. You can either save the center cut-outs to bake off as little “caps” for you vols-au-vent, or put them in the scrap pile.

Dock the solid bottom rounds with a fork (prick them lightly, making sure not to go all the way through the pastry) and lightly brush them with egg wash. Place the rings directly on top of the bottom rounds and very lightly press them to adhere. Brush the top rings lightly with egg wash, trying not to drip any down the sides (which may inhibit rise). If you are using the little “caps,” dock and egg wash them as well.

Refrigerate the assembled vols-au-vent on the lined baking sheet while you pre-heat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC). (You could also cover and refrigerate them for a few hours at this point.)

Once the oven is heated, remove the sheet from the refrigerator and place a silicon baking mat (preferred because of its weight) or another sheet of parchment over top of the shells. This will help them rise evenly. Bake the shells until they have risen and begin to brown, about 10-15 minutes depending on their size. Reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF (180ºC), and remove the silicon mat or parchment sheet from the top of the vols-au-vent. If the centers have risen up inside the vols-au-vent, you can gently press them down. Continue baking (with no sheet on top) until the layers are golden, about 15-20 minutes more. (If you are baking the center “caps” they will likely be finished well ahead of the shells, so keep an eye on them and remove them from the oven when browned.)

Remove to a rack to cool. Cool to room temperature for cold fillings or to warm for hot fillings.

Fill and serve.

*For additional rise on the larger-sized vols-au-vents, you can stack one or two additional ring layers on top of each other (using egg wash to "glue"). This will give higher sides to larger vols-au-vents, but is not advisable for the smaller ones, whose bases may not be large enough to support the extra weight.

*Although they are at their best filled and eaten soon after baking, baked vols-au-vent shells can be stored airtight for a day.

*Shaped, unbaked vols-au-vent can be wrapped and frozen for up to a month (bake from frozen, egg-washing them first).

Michel Richard’s Puff Pastry Dough
From: Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan
Yield: 2-1/2 pounds dough

Steph’s note: This recipe makes more than you will need for the quantity of vols-au-vent stated above. While I encourage you to make the full recipe of puff pastry, as extra dough freezes well, you can halve it successfully if you’d rather not have much leftover.

There is a wonderful on-line video from the PBS show “Baking with Julia” that accompanies the book. In it, Michel Richard and Julia Child demonstrate making puff pastry dough (although they go on to use it in other applications). They do seem to give slightly different ingredient measurements verbally than the ones in the book…I listed the recipe as it appears printed in the book. http://video.pbs.org/video/1174110297/search/Pastry

Ingredients:
2-1/2 cups (12.2 oz/ 354 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups (5.0 oz/ 142 g) cake flour
1 tbsp. salt (you can cut this by half for a less salty dough or for sweet preparations)
1-1/4 cups (10 fl oz/ 300 ml) ice water
1 pound (16 oz/ 454 g) very cold unsalted butter

plus extra flour for dusting work surface

Mixing the Dough:

Check the capacity of your food processor before you start. If it cannot hold the full quantity of ingredients, make the dough into two batches and combine them.

Put the all-purpose flour, cake flour, and salt in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse a couple of times just to mix. Add the water all at once, pulsing until the dough forms a ball on the blade. The dough will be very moist and pliable and will hold together when squeezed between your fingers. (Actually, it will feel like Play-Doh.)

Remove the dough from the machine, form it into a ball, with a small sharp knife, slash the top in a tic-tac-toe pattern. Wrap the dough in a damp towel and refrigerate for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the butter between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and beat it with a rolling pin until it flattens into a square that's about 1" thick. Take care that the butter remains cool and firm: if it has softened or become oily, chill it before continuing.

Incorporating the Butter:

Unwrap the dough and place it on a work surface dusted with all-purpose flour (A cool piece of marble is the ideal surface for puff pastry) with your rolling pin (preferably a French rolling pin without handles), press on the dough to flatten it and then roll it into a 10" square. Keep the top and bottom of the dough well floured to prevent sticking and lift the dough and move it around frequently. Starting from the center of the square, roll out over each corner to create a thick center pad with "ears," or flaps.

Place the cold butter in the middle of the dough and fold the ears over the butter, stretching them as needed so that they overlap slightly and encase the butter completely. (If you have to stretch the dough, stretch it from all over; don't just pull the ends) you should now have a package that is 8" square.

To make great puff pastry, it is important to keep the dough cold at all times. There are specified times for chilling the dough, but if your room is warm, or you work slowly, or you find that for no particular reason the butter starts to ooze out of the pastry, cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate it . You can stop at any point in the process and continue at your convenience or when the dough is properly chilled.

Making the Turns:

Gently but firmly press the rolling pin against the top and bottom edges of the square (this will help keep it square). Then, keeping the work surface and the top of the dough well floured to prevent sticking, roll the dough into a rectangle that is three times as long as the square you started with, about 24" (don't worry about the width of the rectangle: if you get the 24", everything else will work itself out.) With this first roll, it is particularly important that the butter be rolled evenly along the length and width of the rectangle; check when you start rolling that the butter is moving along well, and roll a bit harder or more evenly, if necessary, to get a smooth, even dough-butter sandwich (use your arm-strength!).

With a pastry brush, brush off the excess flour from the top of the dough, and fold the rectangle up from the bottom and down from the top in thirds, like a business letter, brushing off the excess flour. You have completed one turn.

Rotate the dough so that the closed fold is to your left, like the spine of a book. Repeat the rolling and folding process, rolling the dough to a length of 24" and then folding it in thirds. This is the second turn.

Chilling the Dough:

If the dough is still cool and no butter is oozing out, you can give the dough another two turns now. If the condition of the dough is iffy, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes. Each time you refrigerate the dough, mark the number of turns you've completed by indenting the dough with your fingertips. It is best to refrigerate the dough for 30 to 60 minutes between each set of two turns.

The total number of turns needed is six. If you prefer, you can give the dough just four turns now, chill it overnight, and do the last two turns the next day. Puff pastry is extremely flexible in this regard. However, no matter how you arrange your schedule, you should plan to chill the dough for at least an hour before cutting or shaping it.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Dinner of Champions - Eggs Over Veggie Hash

most of the time i'm inspired to make a proper meal for dinner: rice, meat dish and then soup. that is the typical meal i had growing up, in either grandparent's or parent's house. actually, any typical vietnamese household. one night, i rebelled. partially because i was home alone (Nuria had a date) and partially because i didn't have much in the fridge to drum up two proper dishes. plus, i wanted something quick. breakfast is quick. so i made breakfast for dinner.

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Eggs Over Veggie Hash
Inspired by Just Eat Food

1 potato, whatever kind you have handy, cubed
1 stalk of celery, diced into bite size chunks
1 carrot, skinned and diced into bite size chunks
1/2 small onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, diced
whatever spices you like and have handy:
cayenne pepper
italian seasoning
cumin
salt/pepper
olive oil

boil the potato, celery and carrot for a few minutes, till tender. drain. in a skillet, heat up the oil. then add in the onions, sauteeing till translucent. throw in the garlic till fragrant. next, add the veggies and cook till the potatoes have a nice brown color to it, the carrots and celery are soft but still with some bite to it. add seasoning at your leisure, according to taste.

in the same skillet (or if you have another pan), put the veggies to the side and cook your egg sunny side up (how i like it) or whichever way you want to.

serve with egg on top of mound of veggies.

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today's song: Jose Gonzalez, Crosses

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Odds & Ends Ingredients = Yogurt Panna Cotta Topped with Balsamic Blackberries

sometimes i just like to throw things together in the hopes that something good will come of it. most of the time it leaves me with odds and ends in the fridge, barely enough for a proper dish but too wasteful to throw out. i should've been a scientist, except i failed biology and chemistry in college, and i barely passed with the lowest level science (environmental science 101) for my general ed credits (D+, thanks). as a result, i'm constantly faced with the dilemma of what to make out of scraps. some time ago i had small portions of sour cream and yogurt and lord have mercy, some almost-rotting-but-not-quite-yet blackberries. i had made oven baked red snapper (with potatoes, olives, and fennel) for dinner and i needed a simple but delightful dessert. in walks panna cotta. simple enough, i've made it before to good results and really, the perfect way to use up scraps.

the only thing i can complain about is that i didn't wait long enough for the panna cotta to set. it was hard to get out of the ramekin but when it finally did (with the assistance of hot water, a knife along the edge and alot of coaxing & cussing), topped with the cooled berries that had simmered in balsamic vinegar, the combination was ...melting. weird description, i know but that's exactly what it did on my tongue. it was soft, almost sweet but not like i was snorting sugar and that added tang of the blackberries at the end was just what i needed.

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Yogurt Panna Cotta topped with Blackberry Balsamic Sauce
Panna Cotta adapted from Sugar Plum

2 tablespoons cold water
1 1/2 teaspoons gelatin
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar (i measured just shy of 1/3 cup)
2/3 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pour 2 tablespoons cold water in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over water, stir until dissolved, set aside for a minute.

Whisk together milk and sugar, in a large saucepan over medium heat. When mixture is hot, but not boiling, whisk mixture into gelatin, until well combined. Whisk in sour cream, yogurt and vanilla. Divide mixture into 4 ramekins. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 3 hours, or until ready to serve.

Dip the bottoms of ramekins in hot water. Run a knife around ramekin edges, and invert panna cotta onto serving plates. Drizzle with blackberry balsamic sauce, which is just some overripe blackberries and 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar brought to a slow simmer in a saucepan until reduced.

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Today's song: Barcelona, Please Don't Go




Friday, September 18, 2009

Grateful & Perfect - Sweet Onion & Tomato Tart

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now that the summer is coming to an end and the end of the year looms, i don't know about anyone else but i'm scrambling to make use of my FSA and get my doctor appointments in. i have the poor habit of ignoring my body, stretching myself to the absolute limits and overlooking any ailments that may pop up and interrupt my busy schedule. however, in recent years health issues have popped up in the phamily -- my youngest sister has thyroid issues, i think every member on the paternal side has cholesterol and blood pressure problems and my oldest uncle has diabetes and a hereditary eye disease (paternal gma has it too). early this month i hauled ass to the doctor, who basically put the fear of Gawd in me. i've gained a lot of weight in recent months, i'm always slightly fatigued, my stomach constantly hurts, and my hair falls out to the point where my bathroom drain gets clogged every few months.

rest assured, i'm fine. in fact, my cholesterol is very, very, very good. kidneys and liver functions are excellent (face to haters who make fun of me for not drinking more) and my thyroid is normal. i lost 3lbs since that doctor visit. i am, however, potentially a lactard lactose intolerant. so i'm cutting out dairy {sob} from my diet to see if that's what's causing my stomach issues. wish me luck.

the news was weight off my shoulders (altho, i still am quite sleep deprived, i don't care what the doc says, 6 hours of sleep is not enough) and i am grateful for my health. (so grateful that i went drinking last night to celebrate, didn't do this blog post on time and i'm slightly hung over). not only am i grateful for my health, but i am grateful to my friends. in my previous post, i mentioned that Wandering Chopstick sent me her stash of lemongrass chili, but she also sent me some mini-tart pans!! i'd been looking for some mini-tart pans for awhile and voila, she gifted me some! don't be jealous. i made Sweet Onion and Tomato Tart to make use of these cute pans and dude, they were good. i'm a little in love with these pans. i'm a little in love with my friends. may your life be filled with these little goodnesses too. and may you always be grateful.

Basil Garlic Crust
from Ezra Pound Cake

1/3 cup fresh basil leaves
1 medium garlic clove
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 8 to 10 pieces
4-5 tablespoons ice water

1. Place the basil and garlic a food processor. Process, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until finely chopped. Add flour and salt; pulse to combine.

2. Add butter. Pulse about 10 times, or until the mixture resembles pea-sized crumbs.

3. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing several times after each addition. After 4 tablespoons water have been added, process the dough for several seconds to see if the mixture forms a ball. If not, add remaining water. Process until dough forms into a ball. Remove dough from processor.

4. Flatten the dough into a 5-inch disk. Wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (The dough can be placed in a zipper-lock plastic bag and refrigerated for several days or frozen for 1 month. If frozen, defrost the dough in the refrigerator.)

5. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a 12-inch circle (or in my case, enough to cover mini-tart pan). Lay the dough over the tart pan, and press it into the pan. Trim the dough, and proceed with the recipe as directed.

Sweet Onion and Tomato Tart
i just kinda made it up

2 onions, sliced thin
1 tomato, sliced
olive oil
garlic, diced
salt and pepper to taste
some peas
dash of balsamic vinegar at the end

i sweated the onions in olive oil until brown and caramelized. when the tarts were ready to go, i plopped the onions in, topped with a tomato slice and strategically placed the peas around. baked in oven for about 20-30 minutes. done.

Today's song: Tori Amos, A Sorta Fairytale

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

cus i need another condiment in my fridge: Lemongrass Chili

From an early age on I’ve always liked spicy food. I was capable at a young age to dip my dumplings in chili sauce, and sometimes I could be found picking out the tiny cut chili pieces in soy or fish dipping sauces, to add to my meal. That bite to the tongue, infusing my mouth with heat and causing my eyes to tear up was a welcome addition to whatever food I was eating: sandwiches, rice, noodles, soup, whatever. As I got older tho, my palate changed a bit. No longer was it necessary for me to douse my food in spicy sriracha sauce, rather, with just the right combination and amount, spice can be added to heighten a dish, and not so much overpower it. (I think, also, my stomach just cannot handle the heat anymore!)

This past summer I was able to successfully make my own guinness mustard and the next condiment, one would think, would be ketchup. However, I don’t love ketchup and I don’t use it that much (never mind that I rarely use mustard, but I love it). Homemade chili sauce seemed like the next obvious condiment. The recipes I found looked good but they all had expiration dates of 2 weeks – 1month. Not interested. At least the mustard lasts about 6 months. I need something to last awhile because I was going to make a lot. I needed a jar at home and one at work (my coworker and I like to add spice to pretty much anything we eat for lunch). Wandering Chopsticks’ Lemongrass Chili was just what I was looking for AND she told me it lasts for.ever.

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Further, she sent me a sample of hers to compare with what I came up with. Don’t be jealous. when i inherited my last pattypan squash, i also snagged two chilis of unknown origin and heat factor. alright. i had a handful of chilis hanging out in the freezer and thanks to the last recipes to rival challenge, i had a few stalks of lemongrass handy. while i followed the outline of her recipe, i pretty much added things at my leisure. the end result was just right for my tastebuds. a bit sweet and salty and plenty hot. WC's sample was hotter and tasted strongly of lemongrass, with a lingering heat right at the base of my throat. again, don't be jealous she hooked me up with her stash! :)

lemongrass chili


what i would change for the next batch, because this would make excellent gifts now that i know it travels well: i would puree until it's smoother, maybe add some water or more oil to make it less dense. i'd like to put the concoction in a squeeze bottle for easier dispensing. i'm kinda anal about anybody who partakes in this spice fest to use only clean spoons (as one should but i definitely vocalize it loud and clear...) when digging into the jar. keep in mind, the spice factor is entirely up to you but for the instructions and list of ingredients, hit the recipe.

today's song: the Spice Girls, Spice Up Your Life

Monday, September 14, 2009

Comfort in a Bowl - Grandma's Wonton Soup

did i ever tell you the story of when, at the age of 8, i ate 24 of my grandmother's wonton dumplings? no? well allow me. 24 may not seem like a lot, or maybe it does, but at the time, i was a scrawny little shit, shorter than most of my classmates and while i never went to bed hungry, i can't imagine it was cheap keeping me fed. i wasn't aware of all the details, but i do recall grandmother counting pennies for my lunch money everyday and that is why she holds such prime real estate in my heart.

what i recall of that day is that grandma put a bowl of hot soup in front of me, heaping with wonton dumplings, the wrappers slick but at the same time wrinkly, clinging to the meat filling. and every time i emptied my bowl with a declaration that i wanted more, she would smile and make me more. for awhile, rather than extolling my grades (because back then, i really was a good student) or pimping my dance moves (Michael Jackson had nothing on me), she would tell anybody and everybody that i ate 24 of her wonton dumplings in one sitting. a pat on my head would follow. rather than be embarrassed, i would be comforted. yet another thing grandma was proud of me for, eating an assload of her food, something so easy and so damn good.

so when last weekend i felt like ass warmed over, i wanted comfort food. something to warm my very being, something that could possibly put more spring in my step. i spent all day saturday not only working on my DB challenge and a homemade chili concoction, i made grandma's wonton dumplings. it is unbelievable and magical to me that despite how much my head and stomach hurt, i was able to stand in my kitchen all day and prepare this comfort food. because let me tell you, wrapping dumplings takes a hot minute! i meant it when i said on twitter that cooking/baking is such a balm for anything, especially when the end result brought such comfort to my sick body.

wonton soup


Wonton Soup
adapted from memory

*again, i don't have exact measurements, i dumped a lot of stuff in a bowl

Wonton wrappers
about 1 lb ground pork
wood ear fungus, rehydrated in hot water, roughly chopped
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
some vermicelli noodles, hydrated in hot water, roughly chopped
fish sauce to taste
4oz pate
homemade chicken stock (really, you can use any kind of stock you want)

mix ground pork, fungus, onions, garlic, vermicelli, and pate together. add a dollop in the middle of wonton wrapper and make sure that you seal the meat in. i went simple and just folded the wrappers diagonally and sealed with a water/cornstarch mix. store in container covered with damp paper towel until ready to cook.

to cook, add to simmering pot of water (or stock) until wrappers are translucent. it doesn't take long for the meat to cook thru. to serve, put in bowls and pour hot stock over dumplings. consume as is, or dipped in hoisin/chili sauce.

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Today's Song: Pat Monahan, Always Midnight



Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Few Life Certainties: Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies

of a few things i am certain: country music can be oh so sad sometimes (i'm listening to Sammy Kershaw's Matches right now), i am incapable of coloring between designated lines, i like reading obituaries (maudlin and emo, i know) and wedding and birth announcements (that should even out the whole creepy dark vibe and tip the scale to just plain sappy), and i don't like icing. that may be kinda un-american, verging on just odd but the sweet stickiness of icing does not sit well on my palate. even when my mother used to cut back the sugar in her icing, the richness of the butter in the icing would get to me. i always always always leave icing untouched on a slice of cake, sometimes my plate looking like it's playing host to an icing carcass. and don't get me started on fondant. since picking up the whisk and spatula, committing to following the rules of baking (ie. doing the exact measurements thing) and really making an effort to create edible sweet confections, i've been introduced to butter cream, ganache, and flavored whipping cream, and i'm still certain: icing is icing and icing is evil. and not in a good way.

so, dear readers, you'll be surprised and maybe even turned off to find out that i pulled a completely hypocritical thing this past weekend. i used an exorbitant amount of icing for delicious almond chocolate chip cookies and... well. um. the icing was store bought. I KNOW! but the thought of playing with the powdered sugar, butter and tracking down some amaretto liqueur annoyed me. so i bought whipped vanilla icing and called it a day. however, rest assured, these cookies turned out lovely. chewing, soft with a hint of crunch. definately good cookies. for certain.

Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies


Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies
slightly modified from Bella Eats who adapted from Giada di Laurentiis

makes 4 dozen cookies or 2 dozen cookie sandwiches

1/2 cup rolled oats
2-1/4 cups all purpose flour (i used 50/50 AP and Whole wheat flour)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar (i used about 2/3 cup of brown sugar, not very packed)
1 cup granulated sugar (again, about 2/3 cup of sugar)
2 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 tsp pure almond extract
1 (12 oz) bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup whole almonds, toasted and chopped

i scaled back the amount of sugar used to offset the sweetness of the icing. i also broke down the prep into two days, a la NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies, not adding the oats and chocolate chips until the day of baking (48 hours later).

Method:

Preheat oven to 325*. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Finely chop oats in a food processor (we used a small chopper) (i did this step separately and 48 hours later), mix in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer beat the butter and sugars in a large bowl until fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl and beat in the eggs and extract.

Add the flour mixture in 3 batches and mix until just blended.

Gently fold in the chocolate chips and almonds, and in my case, the rolled oats as well.

Drop dough (about one rounded tablespoon each) onto cookie sheet, two inches apart.

Do not flatten.

Bake until cookies are golden, about 13 minutes.

Cool the cookies on sheets for 5 minutes and then transfer to wire cooling rack.

Can be eaten sans icing (but with a glass of cold milk) or sandwich icing between two cookies.
Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies


today's song: Kings of Leon, Revelry

**i was at this show Tuesday night. great band.




Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Taste of Yellow: Mini-Ginger Cheesecake Topped with Lemon Curd

Picnik collage

my thought process in making these mini-cheesecakes was to comfort my roommate. she is in the throes of Harry Potter. when i made these last week, she was towards the end of the 5th novel and i knew a death was eminent. something needed to be available to her to nibble on. it was the least i could do, after all, i was the one who introduced her to the wizarding world.

the flavor of the cheesecake was a bit of puzzle for me. i normally go with the standard coffee or chocolate but this time, i noticed that LiveStrong with the Taste of Yellow 2009 was happening around now. so i went with lemon and ginger, for a last hoorah for summer and to show my support to such a worthy cause. this project is a way for food bloggers to raise awareness of cancer issues, thru their own experiences, indirectly or directly. i say a prayer to all who have been touched by this disease in any way.

Mini-Ginger Cheesecake Topped with Lemon Curd
adapted from The Craving Chronicles and Wives with Knives, respectively.

*note, i used a simple graham cracker crust. for 12 mini cupcakes molds, i used 5 sheets of graham cracker and i *think* 3TBL melted butter and just put them on the bottoms.

for the cheesecake filling:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 egg
1/8 cup of sugar
1/8 cup of ginger syrup
4 pieces of candied ginger, finely diced

Preheat oven to 375° F. Line 12 cups of a mini muffin tin with paper liners or grease each cup very well.

For the filling, combine all the ingredients except for the candied ginger and mix with a handmixer, until smooth. Fold in the candied ginger. Spoon mixture into the cups, evenly distributing throughout all the cups.

Bake for 7-8 minutes. You don't want to cool them all the way thru, because the lemon curd will be put on top and then baked. It'll all bake thru at that point.

for the Lemon Curd:
4 egg yolks
1 tablespoon corn starch
1/2 cup of sugar, 1/4 ginger syrup
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 teaspoons worth of diced candied ginger
2 tablespoons butter

Blend egg yolks with the cornstarch, ginger syrup and sugar in a saucepan. Place over low heat and slowly whisk in water and lemon juice. Increase heat to medium, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. Remove from heat, add lemon zest, candied ginger and butter. Cool for 10 minutes.

When ready to assemble, spoon over top of mini-cheesecakes. Bake for another 8-10 minutes, but no more than 15 minutes, until edges turn golden brown. Cool completely on rack before refrigerating. Serve cold.

i served this the next night and it was creamy with just a hint of tartness. the ginger taste was mellow, which is how the roommate likes it.

Today's Song: Kings of Leon, Notion

Friday, September 4, 2009

wishing for an indian summer but settling for stuffed pattypan squash instead

if there were ever an appropriate time for me to begrudge autumn and the coming cold, it would be now. right when the day begins with just a bite of crisp coolness, a stark contrast to just the previous week, when the hazy heat pressed down on us mercilessly. it was like a flip of a switch, all of a sudden it got cold. and while the rest of my peers are rejoicing in the break in high temperatures, i lament over the loss of it. i suppose that the beauty of spring and autumn is the brutal extremes of winter and summer. somehow this thought still does not make me feel better about the rushing cool breeze that carries the hint of something mildly sinister throughout my abode.

when i inherited another pattypan squash this week, i decided to forgo the soup and stuff it instead. what with the chorizo i used and baking it in the oven to complete the cooking process, the end result presented something quite autumn-like. reddish-orange, warm and toasty, something hearty to dig into on a cool night, which is becoming quite common place now that september has crept in. i am still crossing my fingers for an indian summer tho.

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Stuffed Pattypan Squash

1 pattypan, i'd say it was about 2lbs
1 spanish chorizo
1/2 cup day old cooked rice
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, finely diced
1 tomato, rough chopped

first soften the pattypan by baking it for about 40-45 minutes at 375*. cut off top and gut it of seeds. i didn't want to make it completely hallow because the entire pattypan, skin included, is edible. (so be sure to clean the squash completely) note, you should season inside of squash with salt. i forgot and it was kinda bland.

meanwhile, to make the stuffing, cook the chorizo in pan, grounding it. add in the garlic and onions, sauteeing and mix well together. add in the rice to warm thru, then add in the tomato. all done. stuff squash with mix.

throw back into oven at 350 for another 15-20 minutes, till squash is soft but not mushy. i thought of making a sauce but i was pretty lost with what kind so i ate as was.

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today's song: Jason Mraz, You and I Both



Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Recipes to Rival: Lemongrass Risotto & Peas

Dear Fellow Recipes to Rivalers,
this month's challenge is risotto. not only that, the broth to be used in said risotto had to be homemade. further, it had to be vegan & gluten free. it is hosted by Debyi of The Healthy Vegan Kitchen. the only change i made to this was that i used peas instead of asparagus. Nuria is not a fan and asparagus can be high up there in price. while the dish itself is vegan, i served it as a side to a meat dish. i made a lovely baked 10 cloves of garlic chicken. overall, the meal itself was lovely. the lemongrass broth provided a lovely aroma, reminiscent of an asian kitchen, the chili provided a kick at the base of the throat, not all that unpleasant and i added the peas at the last possible minute, so they were still firm and vibrantly green. i used a spanish moscato wine, giving the risotto an added sweetness.

i would definitely make this again, i have bag full of arborio rice to use up after all. i've made polenta cakes before, i wonder if it's possible to make risotto cakes? hmmm... the ideas! to see what everyone else made, hit up the blogroll.

and so, another challenge completed. till next time,
Angry Asian

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Please click "read more" for the recipe.

Asparagus and Lemongrass Risotto
by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero from Veganomicon

Time: 1 hour 20 minutes Serves 4-6

Lemongrass Broth:
3 cloves garlic, whole and unpeeled
1” piece fresh ginger, sliced into ¼” slices
1 small stalk lemongrass, or 1 TBSP dried, chopped lemongrass
3 cups vegetable broth
3 cups water
3 TBSP tamari (or soy sauce, or more broth)

Risotto:
½ cup cooking sherry or white wine (D'Aquino Pinot Grigio is a good choice, any dry white wine, or just water)
1 lb asparagus
2 TBSP vegetable broth
1 cup basil leaves (Thai, if you can find it), sliced into thin strips
2 TBSP chopped fresh mint
6 large shallots, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 serrano red chile, sliced very thinly (or ½ – 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes)
1 ½ cups Arborio rice
1 tsp sugar (optional)
2 TBSP lime juice
Chopped roasted peanuts and lime wedges, for garnish (you can use pine nuts or sliced almonds instead of the peanuts)

1.If using fresh lemongrass, peel away and discard any brown stems from the stalk. Slice the stalk in half lengthwise and cut into 3” to 4” lengths, then julienne.

2.Give the garlic and the ginger a could whack with the side of your knife, keeping them whole. Prepare your herb pouch, if using.

3.Place all of the broth ingredients in a large stockpot and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain the broth, discarding the vegetables and herbs. Pour the broth back into the pot, cover and simmer over as low a heat as possible to keep warm.

4.Slice the asparagus into ½” pieces, removing any tough parts from the bottom of the stem. Separate the tips from the stems and place each in separate bowls.

5.In a medium-sized heavy-bottomed pot, saute the asparagus in 1 TBSP vegetable broth over medium heat until bright and crisp tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the basil and mint, saute for 30 seconds, remove from heat and set aside.

6.Add the remaining tablespoon vegetable broth to the pan. Saute the shallots and garlic, stirring occasionally, until shallots are very soft, about 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the serrano and rice, saute for about 8 minutes, until the rice smells slightly toasted. Add the cooking sherry (or white wine) and stir constantly until the liquid is absorbed.

7.Now, time for relaxation and stirring. Get a glass of your favorite beverage, turn on some soothing music, or a good movie. Ladle about ½ cup of the broth at a time into the rice, stirring constantly until each addition is absorbed. Stir and cook until the rice is creamy but still somewhat firm in the center.

8.When the broth is almost gone, stir the sugar and lime juice into the remaining broth before adding it to the risotto. You may add more water or vegetable broth in ¼ cup increments if needed. This will take about 35 minutes.

9.Stir the asparagus stems into the risotto and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the asparagus has reached desired tenderness.

10.Garnish each serving with the asparagus tips, chopped roasted peanuts, and lime wedges.