Saturday, November 24, 2012

We're supposed to eat turkey or something

We celebrated this year's Thanksgiving with our wonderful friends the M family. Yesterday's dinner menu included:

  • Roast Turkey (Traditions must be observed)
  • Catherine M's Chestnut Stuffing 
  • Green beens with lemon
  • My dad's Pommes Anna
  • My brother's Ginger Cranberry Sauce
  • Cornbread
  • Hazelnut and Fuyu Persimmon Salad
  • Pumpkin Pie
  • Sara M's Maple Pots de Crème

I read Bon Appetit Magazine, and in their Thanksgiving issue this year they found issue with using stuffing as stuffing because it prevents the bird from cooking or some other nonsense. They even decided to call their stuffing recipes "dressing" to discourage putting them inside turkeys. This name change doesn't even make any sense because, at least in my experience, dressing is a flavorful sauce. I do not believe that bread mixed with various vegetables/meats fall in that category.
In any case, if your stuffing is hot when you put it in the turkey, it isn't going to prevent the turkey from cooking, and the turkey juices will make the stuffing that much better.

Enough ranting. For the potatoes, my dad found a recipe in that same Bon Appetit magazine for "Mini Herbed Pommes Anna" , which are basically cakes of potato slices layered with butter and herbs. This recipe turned out delicious, and it can be easily made into advance, so I recommend it to anyone who needs a showstopper side.

My brother is the family cranberry expert, and he found a recipe for ginger-lemon cranberry sauce. The sauce came out strong and savory, not as sweet as more classic recipes. The ginger complemented the the rich gravy quite well. 

I made the Hazelnut/Persimmon salad and the pumpkin pie. For the salad, I first toasted some hazelnuts in the oven at 400F for 10-15 minutes (stirring them often). According to Catherine M's instructions, we peeled the hazelnuts by rubbing them in a dish towel.

We then sliced up some fuyu persimmons (the ones with rounded bottoms: they're not astringent) into a cider vinegar-olive oil-mustard-black pepper vinaigrette and added some mixed greens and arugula. The sweetness of the persimmon was nicely complemented by the tartness of the vinegar and the bitterness of the arugula.

For the pumpkin pie, I used Cook's Illustrated recipe, which can be found here . I really like this recipe because it combines canned pumpkin with fresh sweet potato to give a complex flavor. Compared to the pumpkin pie from the dining hall I had eaten last week, this pie tasted full and complete.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Sriracha Ice Cream

For the past year or so, I have had the idea of savory or savory-inspired ice cream churning in the back of my mind. Pun Intended. Although I don't think I'll go as far as "clam raisin," mentioned in David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop, I do have a list of flavors building up:
  • Curry, perhaps mixed with rice like a rice pudding ice cream
  • Guacamole
  • Avocado-Bacon
  • Corn/Corn-Bacon
  • Pepper
  • Goat Cheese (perhaps with honey)
  • Pho sorbet
  • Lemongrass
  • Tomato-Basil soup
  • Butternut squash
  • Sriracha
As you can probably tell from the title of this post, I started with the bottom of the list. This sriracha ice cream is more "savory-inspired" than actually savory; it contains sugar and vanilla.

The ice cream is sweet, hot, and salty. The first bite is very weird, but I found that I liked it more as I continued to eat it. The spiciness doesn't build up until the third or fourth spoonful, and it never gets unbearable because of the sugar and cream. This flavor is definitely worth trying if your are a Sriracha fan.

When I brought this to the dorm lounge, I got mixed reactions. My roommates actually liked it, but one of my friends literally spat out the ice cream, drank some soda, spat that out too, and then had a cookie to make sure all traces of the ice cream were gone. It was quite a show. I recommend offering this ice cream to people under the name "Mango Ice cream" and taking pictures of their faces as they dig in enthusiastically.

You may be wondering, how does one make this strange ice cream? Since I don't have a kitchen this year, I opted for a "philadelphia-style" cream. That means that instead of making a custard by cooking egg yolks in milk, I just added some flavor to cream and froze it. I went off of the recipe I found here.

Sriracha Ice Cream

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk (fat percentage is not very important)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2tbsp to 1/4 cup sriracha (rooster sauce), to taste
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  1. Make sure the frozen part of your ice cream maker is frozen.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, sriracha, and vanilla. 
  3. It looks like blood-spattered snow...
  4. Stir well.

  5. Add the cream and milk, stir until the sugar is dissolved

  6. Add more hot sauce or sugar to taste.
  7. Put in the ice cream machine and churn for 20 minutes.
  8. Transfer soft serve ice cream to a container and freeze for at least 3 hours.
The freshly churned cream is much lighter in color than the frozen ice cream (top)
The churned ice cream will have a strange sticky texture, but it will feel fine when eaten. Enjoy! (Or psych out your friends.)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A study on Ginger and Saffron

My family recently went to the "molecular" restaurant Beaumé, and one dish there that particularly interested me was the turbot with turmeric cream, chanterelles, and pickled kohlrabi. Beaumé cooked the turbot "sous-vide" and placed it in the bright yellow sauce. The pickled kohlrabi added a nice bright touch to the soft dish.
Beaumé's turbot
Inspired by this dish and by the saffron my family received as a gift, I decided to make a variation on this recipe. I was curious about the combination of ginger and saffron, so I put together a menu using both spices.

The Menu:
  • Cod poached in ginger, kefir lime leaves, and lemongrass
  • Colorful vegetables in dashi and ginger broth
  • Saffron rice pilaf
  • Saffron and Ginger bechamel

The cod and vegetables turned out well. For the vegetables, I found a bundle of heirloom carrots (purple, red, and yellow) to which I added leeks and celery. I boiled some water with dashi granules, ginger, lemon grass, and kefir limes leaves to make a flavored broth for both the vegetables and fish, and I added more ginger to the vegetables as they cooked. 

The carrots

The vegetables
The rice did not go as smoothly. I bloomed the saffron in boiling water to try to get the flavor and color out of it, but the rice did not end up becoming yellow. My mother says that I should have have ground up the saffron with a mortar before blooming it. Well, now I know! And even though the rice was not yellow, it still tasted of saffron.
To make the pilaf, I sautéed some leeks in a tbsp of butter, then added the riced and sautéed it for a couple minutes as well. I made a broth of saffron juice (saffron + boiling water + kefir lime leaf + time) and a cube of vegetable bouillon. Per traditional pilaf method, I added enough broth to cover the rice, brought it to a simmer, and then stirred/added more broth as needed until the rice cooked through.

The Bechamel was tricky. I heated some milk with saffron and ginger to get flavor. In a saucepan I cooked 1 tbsp flour in 1 tbsp melted butter for a couple minutes and then added the milk a little bit at a time, stirring well after each addition, until the sauce was the desired thickness. Because I don't have much experience, my sauce ended up a bit curdled, so I strained it to remove the bits. Like for the rice, the sauce was not yellow because I had not ground the saffron before infusing the milk.

To replace the kohlrabi, I made some pickled ginger (this recipe, it was a bit too salty)

And here is the final plate.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Strawberry Cardamom Sour Cream Upside-Down Cake

Well, it certainly has been a while since I last posted here. Turns out having a job and taking a class at the same time is a lot of work. I've been taking a b&w film photography class this summer. At first I was a bit confused as to why film photo is a pre-req for digital photo, but the class is actually very interesting. Contrary to everyones expectations, I did not take pictures of food, because food in black and white is just not particularly exciting. So I have been exploring the bay area / my house in search of situations to take pictures of.

(Creepy?) Handbags in Half Moon Bay


California + Bikes

Public Transit

Donner Lake
That last picture somehow became brown when I took a picture of it, probably because the white balance on my digital camera was off. I think it fits the landscape well though.

But anyways, back to food.

Mmmm strawberries

Strawberries are good, right? And sour cream is pretty good with strawberries. And cardamom is just plain delicious. (While making this cake I discovered that chewing a cardamom seed is very refreshing.)

Mmmm cardamom

Joy from Joythebaker is a genius and combined these three flavors into a cake. The super thick batter is spread on top of sliced strawberries that are sitting in some butter and brown sugar. I decreased the amount of sugar from Joy's recipe because my strawberries were sweet enough for my taste. (And of course I doubled the number of strawberries!)

Also, if you look at her post, she somehow manages to keep her strawberries bright red, while mine went to a dull purple. I'm guessing that adding some lemon juice to the strawberries before baking might help prevent discoloration. 

Ugly but delicious. I'm sure your cake will be beautiful and delicious!

Anyways, recipe time!

But first some sliced strawberries

     For the strawberries:
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 cups sliced strawberries
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice (opt, may preserve color) 
     For the cake:
  • 6 tbsp butter, soft
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Mix strawberries with lemon juice (if using.)
  3. Put the 2 tbsp of butter in a 9" round cake pan and place in the oven until melted.
  4. Rotate pan to coat all sides with butter, sprinkle the 2 tbsp brown sugar into the bottom of the pan.
  5. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder + soda, salt.
  6. In a large bowl cream together the butter and 1/2 cup brown sugar.
  7. When butter is fluffy, add egg and vanilla, and beat until well combined.
  8. Beat in dry ingredients and sour cream, batter will be very thick. 
  9. Spread strawberries on bottom of pan.
  10. Spoon batter over strawberries and spread evenly.
  11. Spread it out more evenly than this
  12. Bake for about 35 minutes.
  13. When cake is cooked, run a knife along the edge of the cake and then invert over a plate. If the cake sticks to the pan, leave the pan upside-down over the plate and go read a book or check your email. After ~5 minutes, the cake will have unstuck from the pan (Yay gravity!)
  14. Serve with a spoonful of sour cream

I brought this cake to a friend's house and it was gone in 5 minutes. Granted, there were three tall and skinny runner guys participating, so it wasn't particularly surprising. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Garlic Bread

... is basically at the top of the list for foods both delicious and quick to make. I mean, who doesn't like garlic bread? (Many people, I am sure, especially those who dislike garlic.) But I cannot resist the warm combination of fresh crusty bread, melted butter, and garlic.
Of course, like all inherently simple things, there are many different recipes, each claiming to "be the very best" (that no one ever was??) My suitemate, for example, simply kept a bowl of garlic-butter on the counter (for some reason unrefrigerated) and whenever he wanted garlic bread, he would spread a thick layer of butter on a slice of sandwich bread and microwaved it until the butter was melted. I must say, it was delicious. Some people put cheese or zest or their garlic bread, which is delicious too. The main debate I have seen is olive oil vs butter. But hey, this recipe uses both, so anything is possible.I am personally a fan of butter garlic bread, probably because I am a fan of butter.

But why am I talking about garlic bread anyways? Well, the other night we had family friends come over for dinner, and my parents (Hi parents!) basically assigned me to make the dinner they had planned: clams and fish cooked in a tomato-chorizo-roasted red pepper-garlic-onion sauce and garlic bread.
So how did I make this garlic bread? Well, I opted for the "melt butter with garlic and brush/pour on top of the bread" method.

Garlic Bread (serves 6-8)


  • 1 baguette
  • 3 tbsp of salted butter
  • 4 medium garlic cloves
  • Parsley (opt)
Tasting the melted garlic butter :)

  1. Cut the baguette in half to make 2 short baguettes
  2. Cut each of those in half like you are splitting them for a sub sandwich. The goal here is to have have access to the crumb of the bread.
  3. Use a garlic press or knife to mince the garlic and place it in a small microwaveable bowl.
  4. Add the butter to the bowl and microwave the contents until the butter is melted and bubbly.
  5. Use your communism skills to distribute the melted garlic butter evenly among the pieces of bread (on the not crusty side). 
  6. Sprinkle on a bit of chopped parsley if you want to.
  7. Slice the bread into the number/size of pieces you desire.
  8. But the bread pieces crust down on a baking sheet and stick under the broiler until the edges of the bread brown.
  9. Serve warm!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Bento #1: Hoisin salmon, spinach, carrot kinpira, and sushi rice

Sooo I started my job this week, but my job does not have a physical location, so I work whereever I want to. Today I decided to work at the library, so I made myself a bento lunch. I had been wanting to try making bento for a while (I was especially inspired by; I even bought her cookbook!)
In today's bento I put some leftover hoisin glazed salmon and vietnamese spinach that I had frozen last week. I also had about 3/4 cup of "sushi rice" (read more to learn why I put quotations there) and some carrot kinpira, blanched bean sprouts, and "pickled" cucumber from the Just Bento cookbook. I had prepared the carrots and bean sprouts last friday, and they were fine today, although not as delicious as they were fresh on Friday. Especially the carrots, those were really darn good. The salmon was a tad dry, but the spinach was good.

The rice, however, kinda failed. It was mushy and the flavor ratio was off. I think one issue is that I put too much water in the rice cooker because I was trying to cook only half a cup of rice but the rice cooker does not have half cup markings. I also was not sure how much vinegar mixture to put into the rice. Well, with practice I'll get the hang of it.

As a sidenote: this recipe looks delicious.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Gâteau au Yaourt: Yogurt Cake

This is a cake that my family has been making for a long time; I think we got the recipe from some of my cousins. It is a very simple and customizable snack cake that uses yogurt as a flavor base but doesn't actually taste like yogurt. The original recipe has all the measurements (except the eggs) based on the size of a pot of yogurt. Unfortunately, yogurt pots in France are smaller than in the US (they contain 150g of yogurt instead of 170g.) To make this recipe in the US, I find a glass that holds a bit less than a cup of water and use that as my measurement tool.
Once you have made the batter, you can pretty much add whatever flavor you want. The cake in the photo has chocolate chips and unsweetened coconut flakes, but I have also had success with pears, nutella  (mix nutella into some of the batter and swirl that into the rest of the batter,) dried fruit, etc. You could could probably make this a savory cake by removing most of the sugar and putting cheese or bacon or herbs in.
And to prove how easy this recipe is, I was able to make it in the kitchen of my college dorm with my bf.

Gâteau au Yaourt:

  • 3 eggs (separated)
  • 1.5 pots sugar
  • 1 pot yogurt
  • 0.5 pots oil or 60g butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 pots flour
  • 0.5 tsp baking soda
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • up to 1.5 cups filling (ie 1 cup chocolate chips + 0.5 cup unsweetened coconut)

  1. Preheat an oven to 350F.
  2. Beat yolks with sugar until thick and white.
  3. Add egg whites, yogurt, oil, and vanilla, still beating.
  4. Add remaining ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt) but not the filling. Mix by hand.
  5. Stir in the filling gently.
  6. Grease a cake pan or loaf pan and pour in the batter.
  7. Bake for 40 (cake pan) to 50 (loaf pan) minutes
  8. Enjoy on a picnic or as a snack or casual dessert! You can serve it with greek yogurt and berries or dress it up with whipped cream.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Spring Break 2: Bread-y stuff

So on Thursday I pulled out my beloved The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart and made some bread. I made a caprese-inspired loaf by putting fresh mozzarella, sundried tomatoes, and basil in Challah dough (I'm sure this is terribly sacrilegious) and pizza.

For the Caprese Bread I made the challah dough per the instructions of Peter Reinhart. To incorporate the filling into the dough, I stretched out the dough like pizza, placed the filling on top, and rolled it up like a log. 

And then I split it into 3 and braided it!

I also made pizza dough (also from Reinhart's book) that I rested in the refrigerator overnight. As toppings for the pizza, I roasted some brussels sprouts and broccolini in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes, then I turned the oven down to 330 for another 10-20 minutes. For sauce, I blended some canned diced tomatoes and cooked them with onions, garlic, and oregano.

I made 3 pizzas, one with brussels sprouts, broccolini and caramelized onions (not pictured), one with broccolini, copa, and caramelized onions (first), and, at my dad's suggestion, one with chorizo, brussels sprouts, roasted garlic, and an egg in the center (second). The chorizo one was the family favorite!


 And on Pi day (3/14) I visited my friend and we made pie!!! (We did not have enough crust dough to make a complete top crust, so we put a circle on top instead! It is off center on purpose.)

Spring Break 1: Roasted Cauliflower with Indian Style BBQ sauce

Today is the last day of Spring Break. And apparently to me, spring break means time to make delicious foods! (And read A Dance with Dragons)

I started out the break relatively simple: Roasted Cauliflower with Indian style BBQ sauce (based off of this recipe.)
Cauliflower is really pretty.

Roasted cauliflower is really tasty.

I thought the recipe's ingredients for the bbq sauce had way too much ketchup, so I just made something up:
I heated together
  • 1 crushed garlic clove
  • 1 tsp thai red curry paste
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste
  • 2 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
in some oil to bring out their flavors. Then I added
  • 1/4 ketchup
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp bbq sauce.
 If I had ginger, I would have added it.

Roasted cauliflower with this sauce is even tastier.

According to Epicurious, someone called roasted cauliflower "veggie candy." I wholeheartedly agree, I could eat this stuff all day.