Saturday, October 21, 2017

Deep Fried Apple Dumplings with Miso Caramel Dipping Sauce

You know how sometimes something is really, really hyped up and you're just like, "uh huh, okay, but it can't actually be that amazing."  Well, I just wanted to let you know that miso caramel is *actually* that amazing!  I first heard about it on Food52, but then I noticed that some of my favorite food bloggers were also incorporating it into their apple pies and raving about it.  It is rather rich and strong so it might not be for everyone, but if you like salted caramel and miso, you'll probably love this caramel too.  The best way I can describe it is "flavor bomb".  Try it on ice cream, in apple pies, with apple slices, or just straight out of the jar!

The reason I even decided to make miso caramel is because I was invited by Rebecca and Ruth from Square Meal Round Table to join a fall collaboration with a bunch of other Instagrammers/food bloggers centered around the prompt #Aisforalltheapples.  I had the idea to make apple dumplings, but not the American baked kind using pastry dough; I wanted to make them with Hong Kong style dumpling skins and shape them like pot stickers.  Get it?  Instead of pan-frying them, though, I was going to deep fry them like McDonald's used to fry their apple pies!  And I figured to continue with the Asian twist, I'd pair the apple dumplings with miso caramel sauce.

When it came time to shape the dumplings, I decided to go a little crazy with the pleating since I knew I wasn't making that many, but it's entirely unnecessary to do that many pleats.  In fact, I also experimented with making a couple that were just folded in half, sealed, and then crimped with a fork so that the looked like little hand pies (see above).  This shape was actually the easiest to fry evenly and dip in the caramel, so I'd probably make them this way in the future, unless I specifically wanted the pot sticker shape.

Deep Fried Apple Dumplings
makes about 2 dozen

2 apples (I used gala but fuji or pink lady would work too)
3 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cornstarch
Pinch of salt
Dumpling skins
Oil for frying

Peel the apples and finely dice.  Mix with the brown sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch, and salt in a small saucepan.  Heat over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, until the apples are tender and liquid starts to form.  Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.

Wet the edges of the dumpling skins and fill with the apple mixture.  Seal tightly.

Heat the oil in a pot to 350°F.  Fry the dumplings until golden brown and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.  Serve immediately with the miso caramel dipping sauce (recipe below).

Miso Caramel Dipping Sauce (from Minxeats via Food52)
makes 1 pint

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons white miso

Heat the sugar and water over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil and continue to cook without stirring until it turns a medium amber and wisps of smoke just start to appear.  Immediately remove from heat and whisk in the heavy cream.  If the caramel seizes, just return the pan to low heat and continue to whisk until everything is liquid again.  Whisk in the miso.  Pour into a glass jar and store in the refrigerator if not using immediately.  Rewarm briefly in the microwave before using after refrigeration.

Check out the rest of the entries in this collaboration below!
Previously:  Crane Rangoons
Last Year:  Pear Apple Cranberry Slab Pie
Two Years Ago:  Pad Thai
Three Years Ago:  Mochi Donuts and Pon de Rings
Four Years Ago:  Bahian Style Moqueca (Brazilian Fish Stew)
Five Years Ago:  Magical Pumpkin Spice Latte

Monday, October 16, 2017

Crane Rangoons

I've been toying with the idea to make these ever since I saw an article on Food52 about someone who folded wonton skins into origami cranes and deep fried them.  Naturally the only logical progression would be to stuff them with cream cheese and make crane rangoons, right?

My mom taught me how to fold paper cranes when I was a kid, and it's basically muscle memory for me, but if you're not familiar with how to fold a crane you'll definitely want to practice with paper first.  One thing I realized as I was doing research for this post is that the way my mom taught me how to fold a paper crane is different than the most popular way on the internet.  In fact, I can't seem to find a single tutorial showing the method my mom taught me!  It's a very disorienting feeling to realize that something that you thought everyone else knew is actually just something only your family knows.

Anyways, for science, I tried both ways with a wonton skin, and there doesn't seem to be too much of a difference.  I think the hollow space in the crane's body may be a tad larger using my mom's method, and the tail and head are a bit fatter so it's a little easier to have a defined head.  Both honestly, I'm not sure those differences are a big enough of a deal to learn a new way to fold a crane, especially since it's hard enough folding one with a wonton skin.

You will want to get the freshest, most pliable wonton skins you can find, and the thinner the better.  The ones I used weren't a perfect square, but you can still get a pretty decent looking crane.  Also, instead of making perfect creases like you'd usually do with paper, you want to try not to press down too hard on any folds so that the wonton skin doesn't break.

After I finished folding the cranes, I microwaved them for 8-10 seconds, just enough to make them a little stiffer, but not totally cooked.  Basically I watched them as they microwaved and pulled them out as soon as they started to distort.  At that point, I was still able to manipulate them back into the desired shape.

Then I whipped up some softened cream cheese with some chopped scallions and a pinch or two of salt.  To fill the cranes, I used a piping bag with a no. 12 round tip.  A slightly smaller tip would probably have been a little better, but you don't want to use a tiny one or else the scallions might get stuck in the tip.

I deep fried the crane rangoons in 375°F oil until they were golden brown.  After some trial and error, it seemed like frying them upside down was the best way to get them to cook as evenly as possible.  When they were done, I let them drain on a paper towel-lined plate.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Blueberry Salted Caramel Ice Cream with Chocolate Freckles

My friend Christine and I have been making a day trip to Portland, ME every summer for the last couple of years and basically spend the day stuffing ourselves.  We always go to Eventide Oysters for my favorite lobster rolls, The Holy Donut for potato donuts, Duckfat for their fries, and Gelato Fiasco for ice cream (the honeycomb ice cream sundae from Honeypaw has made it onto our itinerary for the last 2 years as well).  My favorite flavor is the Maine Wild Blueberry Caramel Sea Salt Stracciatella gelato, but they didn't have it this year so I had to settle for the Blueberry Milk and Cookies flavor which was still really good.

So when Boston Organics contacted me and offered to send me a 5 lb. box of their wild Maine blueberries, I knew the first thing I wanted to make with them.  I consulted with my favorite ice cream cookbook, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home, and realized I could make something similar using her salty caramel ice cream recipe, adding some blueberry compote, and then swirling in some chocolate freckles when the ice cream was almost done churning.

I also wanted to share some more information about these wonderful blueberries because they're so different from the ones you usually find in the grocery store.  These are from Burke Hill Farm in Cherryfield, ME and come in a compact wax box that will fit perfectly in most freezers.  Known as lowbush blueberries, these wild blueberries grow in northern New England’s naturally acidic soil and are resilient enough to withstand the region's icy winters.  They're smaller and sweeter than the highbush berries you're probably used to, and perfect for freezing, baking, and just snacking on!  You can find more information here on the Boston Organics website.

I wish the ice cream could be as brilliantly colored as the blueberry milk and cookies gelato above, but I was worried that adding too much blueberry compote to the ice cream base might make it too icy.  Regardless, the flavor is incredible; the sweetness of the caramel is tempered by the tartness of the blueberries, and the crackly dark chocolate freckles adds a fun textural component.

Blueberry Salted Caramel Ice Cream with Chocolate Freckles
makes about 1 quart

1 cup wild Maine blueberries (frozen is fine)*
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 oz. dark chocolate, chopped

Heat the blueberries and 2 tablespoons of sugar in a small saucepan until it comes to a boil.  Gently mash the blueberries and remove from heat.

Mix a couple tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch to make a slurry and set aside.  Whisk the cream cheese and kosher salt in a large bowl and set aside.  Mix the heavy cream and corn syrup in a measuring cup with a spout.

Add the remaining 2/3 cup of sugar to a 4-quart saucepan and heat over medium heat.  Wait until a layer of sugar has melted and turned amber before stirring with a heatproof spatula.  Once all the sugar has melted and is a dark amber remove from heat and add about 1/4 cup of the heavy cream mixture while stirring.  It will violently erupt with steam so be careful!  Continue to stir and add more and more of the cream until it is all incorporated.

Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the rest of the milk.  Bring to a boil and cook for 4 minutes.  Whisk in the cornstarch slurry and bring back to a boil.  Continue to cook and stir until slightly thickened, about one minute.

Add a little of the hot cream mixture to the cream cheese and whisk until the cream cheese is dissolved.  Add the rest of the cream mixture, vanilla, and blueberry compote and mix.  Chill the mixture, then churn in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

While the ice cream is churning, place the chopped chocolate in a plastic sandwich bag, seal it shut, and then place in some very hot water.  Occasionally squeeze the chocolate around until it is all melted.  Remove the bag from the water and dry the outside.  Keep the chocolate melted but not hot.

Once the ice cream is almost done churning, snip a corner off of the sandwich bag and squeeze a steady stream of the melted chocolate into the ice cream while it continues to churn.  Pack the churned ice cream into a storage container and freeze for at least 4 hours.

*If you can't get your hands on wild Maine blueberries, you can use regular blueberries to make the compote, but you may want to boil it longer to reduce it further and add some more sugar as needed.

Next:  Crane Rangoons
Previously:  Greyscale Cream Puffs
Last Year:  Macau-Style Portuguese Chicken Rice
Three Years Ago:  Taiwanese Taro Swirl Mooncakes
Four Years Ago:  Ramen Lobster Rolls
Five Years Ago:  Caramelized Onion and Swiss Chard Quiche

Friday, July 28, 2017

Greyscale Cream Puffs

I was inspired by the latest episode of Game of Thrones to make these choux pastries, color the craquelin with dark cocoa, and call them Greyscale Cream Puffs!

Greyscale Cream Puffs (adapted from Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan)
makes 24 cream puffs

For the vanilla diplomat cream:
1/2 vanilla bean
1 cup whole milk
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small cubes
1 cup whipped cream

Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds.  Add to a small saucepan with the milk and bring to a boil.  Cover and let steep for 10-60 minutes.

Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch in a small mixing bowl.  Bring the milk back to a boil and stream a 1/4 cup of the hot milk into the egg yolks while whisking.  Whisk in the rest of the hot milk and return to the saucepan.  Bring to a boil whisk whisking continuously.  Whisk for another minute until thickened and remove from the heat.  Let sit for 10 minutes then whisk in the butter.  Press a piece of cling film to the top of the cream and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Fold in the whipped cream when ready to use.

For the craquelin:
65 grams unsalted butter
100 grams light brown sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
20 grams dark cocoa powder
65 grams all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Let the butter for the craquelin sit at room temperature for 10 minutes, then cut into small cubes.  Use a food processor to process the butter, brown sugar, and salt until almost blended.  Add the cocoa powder and flour and pulse until you get small curds.  Add the vanilla and pulse until mixed.

Dump the mixture onto a large piece of parchment paper.  Make a disk and then roll it out to 1/16" thickness and cover with another piece of parchment.  Use a cutting board to transfer it to the freezer and freeze for at least 2 hours.  Use a 1 1/2" cookie cutter to cut out 24 circles and return the circles to the freezer for at least 30 minutes.

For the cream puff:
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup water
1 stick unsalted butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
136 grams all-purpose flour
4 large eggs

Position your oven racks so they divide the space in thirds and preheat the oven to 425°F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats.

Bring the milk, water, butter, sugar, and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Dump all the flour in at once, lower the heat, and start stirring with a wooden spoon until a smooth dough forms and a thin film begins to form on the bottom of the saucepan.

Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer and let cool for 3 minutes.  Using the paddle attachment, beat in the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated.

Use a medium cookie scooper (one with a 1 1/2 tablespoon capacity and 1 1/2" diameter) to portion out 24 scoops onto the two baking sheets.  Place a frozen round of craquelin dough on top of each scoop.

Place the baking sheets in the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 375°F.  Bake for 20 minutes then rotate the baking sheets.  Bake for another 10-15 minutes, until golden brown.  Allow to cool to room temperature.

Use a pastry bag with a small round trip attached to pipe the diplomat cream into the cream puffs and serve.

Next:  Blueberry Salted Caramel Ice Cream with Chocolate Freckles
Previously:  3-28 Slab Pie
Last Year:  Zucchini Pizza
Three Years Ago:  Strawberry Pop Tart Slab Pie
Four Years Ago:  Backyard Mint Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Freckles

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

3-28 Slab Pie

Where were you when the Patriots came from behind and won Superbowl 51?  I was at my church, watching the game on the big screen.  By the time halftime rolled around, I knew the Patriots were in big trouble, and I called my mom, who has the gift of prayer (I have the gift of faith) to pray for them to win.  She didn't believe they could, but after I begged her to, she relented and agreed to pray for them.  So I guess you could say that what happened next was all because of me and my mom.

The idea for this pie had been brewing in my mind for a long time, but I wanted to wait until strawberries and blueberries were in season to make it.  I usually brush an egg wash on top of my pie dough before baking, but I decided I wanted to keep crust as pale as possible to make it look more similar to the infamous chyron.  If I had had more time, I might have made some royal icing to make the numbers and letters stand out even more, but I think it looks pretty good as is.  =)

3-28 Slab Pie
makes one 10" x 15" slab pie

For the pie crust:
3 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1/2 cup ice water, plus more as needed

For the filling:
3 cups fresh blueberries
3 cups fresh sliced strawberries
1 cup sugar, divided
3 tablespoons cornstarch, divided

Pulse the flour, sugar, and salt together in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until the butter has been cut into pea-sized pieces. Add the water and pulse to combine. Add more water if needed, a tablespoon at a time, just until the dough comes together. Divide the dough into two pieces, one twice the size of the other, and wrap both with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least an hour or as long as overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Roll out the larger piece of dough to about a 13" x 18" rectangle.  Press into a 10" x 15" baking sheet and fold the excess dough underneath.  Prick the bottom of the dough all over with a fork and crimp the edges.  Chill while assembling the rest of the pie.

Roll out the smaller piece of dough and cut out the letters and numbers.  You'll also want to cut out a thin strip of dough about 10" long to use as a divider between the two fillings.  You should end up with a lot of leftover dough, which you can use to make a tart or galette.  Chill while you fix up the filling.

In a small mixing bowl, toss the blueberries with 1/2 cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch.  Toss the sliced strawberries with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in another bowl.

Place the dividing strip of dough down the middle of the pie.  Fill the left side with the blueberries and the right side with the strawberries.  Carefully arrange the letters and numbers on top. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.

Next:  Greyscale Cream Puffs
Previously:  Rhubarb Strawberry Coconut Cream Tart
Last Year:  My Mom's Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry
Two Years Ago:  Pasta con le Sarde
Three Years Ago:  Cleveland Cassata Cake
Four Years Ago:  Zuni Cafe's Fried Eggs in Bread Crumbs
Seven Years Ago:  Coconut Lime Sorbet
Eight Years Ago:  Homemade Bulgogi Dumplings

Monday, April 24, 2017

Rhubarb Strawberry Coconut Cream Tart

Ever since I attempted the herringbone lattice pie crust a few months ago, I've been wanting another shot at getting it right.  So when I saw rhubarb being sold at my local grocery story, I figured I'd try to make a tart and top it with a herringbone lattice made of poached rhubarb strips!

When buying the rhubarb for this, try to get ones of equal width so the lattice will look nice and neat.  I pretty much followed the instructions for poaching the rhubarb from Baking a Moment's beautiful post on making a rhubarb tart with a (regular) lattice top.  Instead of using a mandolin, I used my vegetable peeler which, honestly, was a labor of love.  I probably had to ditch a third of my attempts at getting nice long thin ribbons.  Luckily, I bought a couple more rhubarbs that I thought I'd need exactly for this reason.

For the tart crust, I used the recipe for a sweet tart crust from Mark Bittman's How to Bake Everything.  I also followed his suggestion to use sweetened whipped coconut cream as the base.  I originally wasn't going to add the layer of strawberries, but my friends Celine and Alex were over this weekend and left me some beautiful strawberries.  I'm so glad I added them because they have a natural sweet-tartness which perfectly complements the flavor of the rhubarb.  The nice thing about this recipe is that if you use a vegan and/or gluten-free tart crust, the rest of the pie is also vegan and gluten-free!

Rhubarb Strawberry Coconut Cream Tart
makes a 9" tart

Your favorite 9" sweet tart crust, blind baked and cooled
14 oz. can of coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup sliced strawberries
6-8 rhubarb stalks of equal width
1/2 cup sugar

Before you fit the tart dough into your tart pan, remove the bottom and trace it on a large piece of parchment paper.  Then proceed to line the pan with the dough, chill, and blind bake until golden brown all over.

Place the can of coconut milk, a large bowl, and the metal beaters of your electric beater in the fridge overnight.  The next morning, open the can and spoon out the solid white coconut cream into the chilled bowl.  You can discard the leftover liquid or save it to add to smoothies or overnight oats.  Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract to the bowl and use the chilled beaters to beat the cream until it is light and fluffy.  Spread it evenly across the bottom of the tart crust and chill in the refrigerator while you wash and slice the strawberries.

Arrange the strawberries on top of the coconut cream in an even layer.  Cover and return to the fridge to chill while you prepare the rhubarb.

Use a vegetable peeler or mandolin to peel long, thin strips from the rhubarb stalks.  Roughly chop any leftover red parts and add to a large pot along with any leftover strawberry pieces.  Add a cup of water and the sugar and bring to a simmer.

Prepare a rimmed baking sheet with a couple layers of paper towels.  Poach the strips of rhubarb in batches for about a minute or so until softened.  Remove with a slotted spoon to the paper towels to drain.  Reserve the poaching liquid.

Use the parchment paper with the outline of the tart pan to lay out half the rhubarb strips vertically.  Then, fold the first strip halfway down, skip 3, then fold down the next 3, and skip the next 3, following this pattern until you reach the end.

Lay a long strip down horizontally across the middle, then, leaving the 1st vertical strip folded over, fold down the 2nd vertical strip over the horizontal strip you just laid down, skip the next 2, fold the 5th strip back up, leave the next 2 as is, and fold down the one after that, etc.  Lay another strip down horizontally above the first one you laid down.  Continue to repeat this pattern until you've covered the outlined 9" circle.  This post from Serious Eats is also a great resource (with pictures!) on how to create the herringbone lattice top.  You can also just do a plain checkered lattice crust which would still look very nice.

Remove the tart from the fridge and carefully flip the woven rhubarb lattice onto the tart (it will seem quite scary but because the strips are still wet, they will adhere to the parchment paper pretty well).  Peel the parchment paper away and re-adjust the lattice as needed.  Use a sharp pair of kitchen shears or paring knife to cut away any extra rhubarb.  Brush some of the poaching liquid on top, being careful not to disturb the herringbone pattern.  Chill until ready to serve.

Next:  3-28 Slab Pie
Previously:  Rainbow Crepe Cake
Last Year:  Will It Puffle?
Two Years Ago:  Gordon Ramsay's Sublime Scrambled Eggs - Two Ways
Three Years Ago:  Nutella Mini Crepe Cakes
Seven Years Ago:  The Best Scones in the World
Eight Years Ago:  Bacon and Egg Bunny Buns

Friday, March 10, 2017

Rainbow Crepe Cake

I've been wanting to try making a full-size crepe cake ever since I made those Nutelle mini crepe cakes 3 years ago, and seeing a recent picture of my friend Serene's matcha crepe cake re-inspired me.  But when I couldn't decide which flavor crepe cake to make, my other friend Christine reminded me of a rainbow crepe cake she had shown me on Instagram before.  I knew what I must do.

After some research on-line, it seemed that most rainbow crepe cakes used 6 discrete colors of crepes, but I wanted to try to blend them together so that the color of the crepes was more progressive.  I figured I'd make 2 crepes of each color, then start mixing the leftover batter together a little at a time.  This just made an already complicated process even more complicated, but I'm rather pleased with the result.  If you'd rather just leave it as 6 discrete colors, just divide the batter evenly between 6 bowls before coloring.  But if you'd like to try the ombr√© approach, you can put 1/3 less batter in the bowls for the red and purple since you're only blending those one way instead of two (a scale makes it a lot easier to figure out).

I decided to just use sweetened whipped cream for the filling (a recommendation from Serene) instead of pastry cream plus whipped cream like a lot of other recipes use because it was easier, and I liked the pure white color of the filling against the rainbow of colors.  Serene also suggested freezing the cake if not serving right away to help stabilize it and prevent weeping.

Rainbow Crepe Cake (crepe recipe from Alton Brown)
makes a 24-layer crepe cake

4 large eggs
1 1/2 cup milk
1 cup water
2 cups all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespooon vanilla extract, divided
Oil, for greasing
2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup powdered sugar
Rainbow sprinkles (optional)

Combine the eggs, milk, water, flour, sugar, butter, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract in a blender and pulse for 10 seconds.  Let rest in the fridge for at least an hour or overnight.

Divide the batter into 6 bowls, with about 1/3 less in two of the bowls.  Color the bowls with less batter in them red and purple.  Color the other bowls orange, yellow, green, and blue.

Lightly grease a non-stick pan with oil and heat over medium-low.  Pour a scant 1/4 cup of the purple batter into the middle of the pan and swirl to spread into an even circle.  Cook for 30 seconds and flip carefully.  Cook for another 10 seconds, then transfer to a cutting board or baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Repeat, making 2 crepes each of all 6 colors.  Once the crepes have cooled on the parchment paper you can start stacking them on a plate.

Gradually mix the rainbow-adjacent colors together to make the rest of the crepes.  You should end up with about 24 crepes, more if you don't mess any up.  I messed up 2 or 3 (the first one is always a fail) and ended up with 24.

Beat the heavy cream to soft peaks, then add the powdered sugar and remaining teaspoon of vanilla extract.  Beat again to barely stiff peaks.

Place a purple crepe on a plate and spread a thin layer of the whipped cream on top, leaving a little bit of a border.  Top with another crepe and continue with alternating layers of crepes and whipped cream.

If you have any whipped cream leftover, frost the top and garnish with sprinkles, if you like.  Chill until ready to serve.

To be honest, I thought the cake looked a lot prettier than it tasted.  This happened the last time I made a rainbow confection too.  I think I was so focused on the looks I forgot that I never really flavored the crepes or whipped cream, and Alton Brown's crepes are made to be filled with something tasty not just eaten alone.  Luckily, Serene sent me her crepe recipe so I'll probably use that one next time.  =)

Next:  Rhubarb Strawberry Coconut Cream Tart
Previously:  Japanese Chicken Curry Rice
Last Year:  The 4-Hour Baguette
Two Years Ago:  Homemade Squid Ink Pasta
Three Years Ago:  Miso-Glazed Eggplant
Four Years Ago:  Happiness Cake
Seven Years Ago:  Momofuku's Crack Pie
Eight Years Ago:  Korean Pancake Face-Off

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Japanese Chicken Curry Rice

If you’ve ever made Japanese curry rice from one of those store-bought curry blocks, you know how delicious and easy it is, but did you know it’s almost as easy to make it from scratch?  And considering the palm oil, MSG, and preservatives used in the blocks, it’s probably a lot healthier to make your own.

I pretty much followed the chicken curry rice recipe from Just One Cookbook except I caramelized the onions as recommended by Marc from No Recipes and Serious Eats.  I also used chicken breast instead of chicken thighs because I really, really hate dark meat.  Another great thing about making your own curry roux is that it’s easily customizable.  If you prefer it spicier, add cayenne pepper; if you prefer it sweeter add honey, etc.  This recipe makes a slightly sweet, medium-mild spicy curry.

Japanese curry is usually served with steamed rice, but if you want to have a little more fun, I’d highly suggest waffling some day-old cooked rice.  The rice gets crispy-crunchy-toasty-chewy and adds a really interesting texture. 

Japanese Chicken Curry Rice (adapted from Just One Cookbook)
serves 4-6

1 lb. boneless chicken, skinless thighs or breast
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons oil
2 onions, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 qt. chicken broth
1 apple
2 large Yukon gold potatoes
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon honey (optional)
Cooked rice

Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and season with salt and pepper.

Add the onions to a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.  Cook with a large pinch of salt until dry and just starting to color.  Add a tablespoon of oil, mix, and continue to cook until the onions start sticking to the bottom again.  Add the rest of the oil and continue to cook until caramelized.  Add the minced garlic, grated ginger, and chicken.  Cook until the chicken turns white.  Add the chopped carrot and chicken broth and bring to a boil.

Peel the apple, coarsely grate, and add to the pot.  Peel the potatoes, cut into bite-sized chunks, and add to the pot.  Simmer for 20 minutes until the potatoes are tender.

In the meantime, make the curry roux by melting the butter in a small pan over medium-low heat.  Add the flour and stir until the roux starts to get darker, about 5-10 minutes.  Mix in the garam masala and curry powder and take off the heat once combined.

When the potatoes are done, add some of the hot liquid to the roux and whisk until the roux is loose, adding more liquid as necessary.  Add back to the pot and bring back to a boil.  Stir in the soy sauce and ketchup.  Taste, and add the honey if you'd prefer it sweeter.  Simmer until the curry has thickened.  Serve with cooked rice.

Next:  Rainbow Crepe Cake
Previously:  Quintessential Apple Pie with Bacon Fat Crust
Last Year:  Tropical Pulled Pork on Griddled Banana Bread Sandwiches
Two Years Ago:  A Better Homemade Pasta Recipe
Three Years Ago:  Mushroom Marsala Pizza
Four Years Ago:  Peking Duck Pizza
Seven Years Ago:  Bacon Fat Caramels
Eight Years Ago:  Potato Leek Soup with Bacon

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Quintessential Apple Pie with Bacon Fat Crust

Food52 started its cookbook club this month, and the inaugural cookbook was Kate McDermott's Art of the Pie!  I thought it was an interesting choice because it's the dead of winter here in New England, and I usually think of the summer and fall as better pie-making seasons.  But I was able to get a copy of the book from the library so I figured I'd take a look and see what might inspire me.

The first pie I tried was the Banana Rum Caramel Coconut Pie because, while there were several components to the pie--a blind baked pie crust, bananas, rum caramel, rum pastry cream, and toasted coconut chips--I actually already had all the ingredients!  Personally, I thought the pie was too sweet, but it didn't stop me from trying a couple more pies from the book.

Since I had a bunch of egg whites leftover from rum pastry cream for the previous pie, I decided to try my first lemon meringue pie.  While the pie tasted great, I had issues with the meringue weeping even after following all the directions from the book.  I was also a little confused with the direction to "pull up some soft peaks with the handle of a spoon".  I got little itty-bitty peaks whereas I would've preferred larger waves.  If I ever make a meringue pie again, I'll probably just use a spatula to do that.

My favorite pie that I made from the book was the Quintessential Apple Pie.  Kate's preferred pie crust is one made with butter and leaf lard, but since I didn't feel like sourcing any leaf lard, I turned to what I already had in my freezer:  bacon fat.  It was definitely more malleable than the butter even when chilled, but I think it made for a wonderfully flaky pie crust with a subtle bacon flavor.

For the filling Kate suggests using a mix of sweet and tart apples, so I used a blend of Gala, Fuji, Golden Delicious, Macintosh, Cortland, and Red Delicious apples.  She also wrote that you don't need to peel the apples if the skins are pretty thin, so I nixed that time-consuming step.  She was right; the inclusion of the apple peels didn't really make a difference in the texture of the cooked filling and may have even improved the taste with their tannins.

And since I've been eyeing Serious Eats' herringbone lattice crust for a while now, I decided to try it on top of this pie.  It was actually my first time making any sort of lattice pie crust!  I was pretty pleased with the result even though I did mess up the pattern.  Because you want the filling to be quite flat before laying the herringbone lattice on top, I decided to pre-cook the apple pie filling which reduces the volume ahead of time and prevents the dreaded gaping hole between the top crust and filling after baking.

Quintessential Apple Pie with Bacon Fat Crust (adapted from Art of the Pie)
makes 1 pie

For the pie crust:
1/2 cup rendered bacon fat
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup ice water

Cut the bacon fat and butter into tablespoon-size pieces.  Place the bacon fat, butter, flour, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse 15 times.

Add 1/4 cup of the ice water and pulse 10 more times.  Add the remaining 1/4 cup of ice water and pulse 5 more times.  Dump the contents into another bowl and use chilled hands to bring the dough together.  Divide the dough in half and place half in the fridge.

Place the other half on a floured surface and cover with plastic wrap.  Roll the dough out to 1/16" thickness and an inch or two larger than your pie pan.  Carefully transfer to the pie pan, trim the edges, cover, and let chill in the refrigerator.  Add the excess trimmings to the other half of the pie dough that was already chilling in the fridge.

For the filling:
10 cups of apples, preferably a mix of tart and sweet ones with thin skins
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 gratings of nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 tablespoon artisan apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg white (for the egg wash)

Leaving the skins on, slice the apples and mix with the sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.  Cook in a large pan over medium-low for about 15 minutes, just until the juices start to flow.  Toss with the vinegar and flour and let cool completely before filling the pie shell.  Dot the top of the apples with the small pieces of butter.

If you want to do the herringbone lattice, follow the directions from Serious Eats.  Otherwise, roll out the other half of the dough and top the pie, cutting a few vents on top.  Trim the excess dough and crimp the edges.  Cover the pie and let it chill in the fridge while you preheat the oven to 425°F.

Mix the egg white with 1 tablespoon of water and brush on top of the pie.  Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375°F and bake for another 40 minutes.  Cool the pie for at least an hour before serving.

Next:  Japanese Chicken Curry Rice
Previously:  French Onion Tater Totchos
Two Years Ago:  Hugo & Victor's Pink Grapefruit Tart
Three Years Ago:  Okonomiyaki
Four Years Ago:  Cauliflower Steak with Cauliflower Puree
Seven Years Ago:  Bacon Caramel Corn
Eight Years Ago:  Wok-Fried Edamame with Garlic

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

French Onion Tater Totchos

I had a good handful of Gruyere cheese leftover from making zucchini pizza the other day but no more squash so I was trying to figure out a good way to use it up.  I considered sprinkling it over some fingerling potatoes that I had gotten in my Boston Organics delivery, but then I had an eureka moment and decided to make French onion tater totchos!

They're French onion because I caramelized onions and then deglazed the pan with sherry and beef bouillon.  They're totchos because it's melted cheese and other toppings on top of tater tots that you'd eat like nachos.  But whatever you want to call them, they're amazing.

I ended up using a 10" skillet to bake the totchos in, but you could use another similarly sized pan or even double the recipe and make this in a sheet pan.  Using a full bouillon cube in the recipe as is makes a pretty salty dish, so if that's a concern for you, you can use half a cube; I was just too lazy to try to halve the cube myself.

French Onion Tater Totchos
serves 2-4

14 oz. frozen tater tots
1/2 cup cooking sherry
1 beef bouillon cube
2 medium onions, finely sliced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 oz. shredded Gruyere cheese

Arrange the tater tots in a single layer and bake according to the instructions on the bag.

While the tots are baking, dissolve the bouillon cube in the sherry.  Heat a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat and add the onions.  Start cooking them without any butter until they dry up and start to color.  Turn the heat down to medium-low, add the butter, and continue cooking until the onions are soft and evenly browned.  Add the bouillon-sherry to deglaze the pan and continue cooking until most of the liquid is gone.

When the tater tots are done, remove from the oven and set the oven to broil.  Top the tots with the onion mixture and then the shredded cheese.  Broil for a few minutes until the cheese is nice and melty.  Serve immediately.

Next:  Quintessential Apple Pie with Bacon Fat Crust
Previously:  Salted Egg Yolk Mochi Ice Cream
Two Years Ago:  Burmese Coconut Noodles with Tofu
Three Years Ago:  Homemade Tagliatelle with Shaved Truffles
Four Years Ago:  Passion Fruit Marshmallows
Seven Years Ago:  Nutella Ice Cream
Eight Years Ago:  Tomato and Eggs Over Rice

Monday, January 30, 2017

Salted Egg Yolk Mochi Ice Cream

Earlier last year I discovered a new kind of steamed bun, the liu sha bao.  I think translated directly it means "quicksand bun" but it's actually a lot better tasting that it sounds.  Inside is a molten filling made of salted egg yolk custard, and I could probably eat 5 of them in a row.  I tried making some a few weeks ago, but the result was just okay and not really worth all the work when I can just get the perfected bun at dim sum.

Because of that experiment I still had 3 cooked salted duck eggs sitting in my fridge, though, so I figured I'd try to make an ice cream out of them.  I followed the template of Jeni's Salty Vanilla Frozen Custard, but I replaced 3 of the raw egg yolks with 3 cooked salted duck egg yolks, which you can find in the egg section of a Chinese grocery store.  I reduced the salt a little because the egg yolks were already salted and added a little bit of turmeric to increase the yellow coloring of the ice cream.  It still comes out a rather pale yellow, but I didn't want to add any artificial food coloring.

The resulting ice cream is incredibly rich, and tastes pretty much like the inside of a liu sha bao but in ice cream form.  So I decided to try making it into mochi ice cream to continue down that path.  I've tried making mochi ice cream before and that attempt was disastrous, to say the least, so this time I made sure to follow a trusted recipe.  I'm happy to say that the one from Just One Cookbook worked marvelously.  These salted egg yolk mochi ice creams are perfect because you only need a couple of bites of the ice cream, and the soft, chewy mochi helps keep the intense flavor from being too overwhelming.  Plus, I think they look super cute and remind me of liu sha bao!

Salted Egg Yolk Ice Cream (adapted from Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream Desserts)
makes about 1 quart

3 cooked salted duck eggs
2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
2 3/4 cups whole milk
3 large raw egg yolks
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup

Carefully crack and peel the salted duck eggs, removing the whites until you are left with only the egg yolks.  Mash the egg yolks in a medium bowl, then add the cream cheese, salt, and turmeric and whisk until smooth.

Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk, the raw egg yolks, and cornstarch in a small bowl and set aside.  Fill a large bowl with ice and water.

Combine the remaining milk, the cream, sugar, and corn syrup in a 4-quart saucepan, bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually add about 2 cups of the hot milk mixture to the egg yolk mixture, one ladleful at a time, stirring well after each addition. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula, just until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat and strain through a sieve if necessary.

Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese mixture until smooth. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.

Remove the frozen canister from the freezer, assemble your ice cream machine, and turn it on. Pour the custard base into the canister and spin until thick and creamy.

Pack the custard into a storage container. Press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.

Mochi Ice Cream (adapted from Just One Cookbook)
makes about 6-8 pieces

Ice cream
3/4 cup glutinous rice flour
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup cornstarch

Place a cupcake pan in the freezer to chill.  Use a cookie dough scooper to scoop 6-8 balls of ice cream.  Place each ball on an aluminum cupcake liner in the cupcake pan and freeze for several hours until hard.

Whisk together the glutinous rice flour, sugar, and water in a medium microwaveable bowl.  Cover and microwave for 30 seconds.  Stir with a wet rubber spatula then microwave for another 30 seconds.  Continue to stir and microwave in 30 second increments until the mochi comes together in a slightly translucent, sticky mass.

Generously dust a Silpat or parchment paper with cornstarch.  Transfer the mochi on top and dust with additional cornstarch.  Dust a rolling pin with cornstarch and roll out the mochi into a thin layer, about 1/8".  Chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Use a 3 1/2" cookie cutter to cut the mochi into circles.  I was able to easily cut out 6 circles, and if you want, you can reroll the scraps to make more circles, just make sure to redust with cornstarch.

Place one of the scoops of ice cream in the center of a mochi circle.  Bring the edges of the mochi up and over the ice cream and seal together, working quickly so that the ice cream doesn't melt.  Wrap in plastic wrap and return to the freezer.  Repeat with the other scoops of ice cream and mochi circles.

When ready to eat, let sit at room temperature for a few minutes so that the mochi can soften.

Next:  French Onion Tater Totchos
Previously:  Marion Cunningham's Yeast-Raised Waffles
Two Years Ago:  San Bei (Taiwanese Three Cup) Tofu and Ramen
Three Years Ago:  Grilled Cheese Egg in a Hole
Four Years Ago:  Homemade Bagels
Seven Years Ago:  Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Maple Cinnamon Sage Brown Butter
Eight Years Ago:  Dutch Babies