Friday, January 25, 2013

I crave Chinese food errday

Sadly, I'm not so much of a cook with Chinese food. It's hard to find an good recipes because most of them are either written completely in Chinese, which I can barely read, or in English but not very authentic. My mom cooks intuitively and it tastes incredible whereas when I try to do that, it fails miserably.

I made two dishes: twice-cooked pork (hui guo rou) and west lake beef soup (xi hu niu rou geng). I did use English recipes, but just to get the gist of it. I made no measurements and skipped/substituted ingredient if I didn't have it on hand.

Twice-cooked pork: Boil sliced pork belly in water for 30+ minutes, then drain. Stir fry with onions, garlic, ginger, peppers, and green onions, using soy sauce, sugar, lao gan ma, and water for the sauce. 

West lake beef soupBrown ground beef marinated in soy sauce, sesame oil, water, and cornstarch. Add chicken stock and some cornstarch dissolved in water to thicken. Stir in beaten egg white and green onions to garnish.

The twice-cooked pork was surprisingly delicious. The pork could be more tender, so I'll boil it in water longer next time. I brought it to work for lunch for two consecutive days.

The soup... not so much :(

Monday, January 21, 2013

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes

Mmm I don't eat pancakes often, but when I do, I make sure to treat myself. I actually like making the healthy version of healthy pancakes because the chewy texture appeals to me more than the weird soft/floppy texture of traditional pancakes. These are pretty healthy, or at least before throwing in the chocolate chips. But it's acceptable because the chocolate chips make up for the lack of maple syrup (although you can add it if you like). 

To make these, soak 1/2 Tbsp chia seeds in 1 Tbsp milk for 5 minutes, then mash in half of a ripe banana. Add in a pinch of salt, a few drops vanilla extract, 1/2 Tbsp nut butter (almond or peanut will work), 1/2 Tbsp oil, 1 1/2 Tbsp milk, and stir well. Stir in 2 Tbsp whole wheat flour, 1/4 cup rolled oats, 1/2 tsp baking powder, and 2 Tbsp chocolate chips. Cook 1/4 cup scoops of batter at medium heat on a greased skilled for 2-4 minutes on each side.

Ta da, perfect pancakes for one! Aren't they gorgeous? Top with chocolate chips if desired.

Would I make this again? Definitely, the next time I want to treat myself to a lovely weekend breakfast, although I'd experiment with other mix-ins

Friday, January 18, 2013

Bi-Rite Creamery's Cara Cara Orange Cardamom Ice Cream

Okay, hold up. Stop right there. You need to try this. This is the most amazing ice cream flavor combination in the world. I stopped by Bi-Rite Creamery on my California road trip last summer and tried some of their ice cream. And while the texture and flavors were perfect, I didn't try anything that I would deem special. But that's because they didn't have this flavor as an option. The orange ice cream is creamsicle-esque, but the added punch of cardamom adds a very grown up undertone to this playful flavor. Seriously give it try.

Super simple recipe: Chop up 2 Tbsp cardamom pods and toast for two minutes in saucepan at medium heat, then add 1 3/4 cups heavy cream, 3/4 cup milk, 1/2 cup sugar, and a dash of salt. Heat until steaming, then remove from heat and let seep. While seeping, separate five eggs so that you have one bowl of yolks (reserve whites for another use, like macarons!). Slowly pour half of the cream mixture into the bowl of yolks, whisking constantly, then pour everything back into the saucepan. Continue to heat while stirring constantly until thickened. Stir in zest from one orange, then cool either in the fridge or via ice bath. Freeze using an ice cream machine.

Would I make this again? Not even a question

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Strawberry Lassi

Yummm. 1/2 a box of strawberries. A single serve container of Greek yogurt. A cup of ice cubes. A Tbsp of honey or to taste. A dash of sea salt. Blend, pour, perfect.

Would I make this again? Yes, all the time, it's fantastic

Monday, January 14, 2013

Chocolate Hazelnut Macarons

I also made chocolate hazelnut macarons for the party. Only I didn't have enough time to fit in both the macarons and the cupcakes, so I just brought over the cupcakes and finished making the macarons after I got back. Recipe for the cookies are the same as for these, except replacing 1/4 cup of almond flour with 3 Tbsp of cocoa powder instead. The filling is the same Nutella buttercream from the cupcakes.

They were...alright but not fantastic. I may have let them sit out for too long before baking. hence the enormous foot and a super crispy shell. But another part of it may also be that the shell goes wonky when you sub in cocoa powder :(

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Hummingbird Bakery's Chocolate Hazelnut Cupcakes

I've never heard of Hummingbird Bakery but they're supposedly a big deal in the UK or something? I've been wanting to make a Nutella-based cupcake for some time though, and these caught my eye. These are Nutella-filled, with Nutella buttercream on top. Yes, they're as delicious as they sound. 

Bake yo' cupcakes. Mix dry ingredients: 7/8 cup flour, 2 1/2 Tbsp cocoa powder, 3/4 tsp baking powder, pinch of salt. Mix wet ingredients: 3 Tbsp butter, 3/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup milk, 1 egg. Mix dry into wet, spoon into cupcake lined cupcake tin, bake in a preheated 325F oven for 20-25 min. Let cool.

Spoon out the middle of each cupcakes and put in a dollop of Nutella inside.

Buttercream is 2 cups powdered sugar, 5 tbsp softened butter, 2 tbsp milk, and 1/3 cup Nutella. Frost cupcakes and garnish with whatever you'd like (those brown and white circles are some toppings from a random yogurt thingy that I saved).

I brought them to my friend's jewelry party. She's trying to launch a business selling jewelry and wanted to gauge interest among friends. Yes I'm the token dessert person.

They're quite pretty

She has the coolest apartment

And the most photogenic cat

Everyone ('cept me)

Would I make this again? Yes, these are going on my repertoire

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Mole Style Chili

Last year in the spring, I went to Acapulco for spring break and developed a mole obsession of sorts, even though I still don't understand what it is. I thought it was a popular sauce in Mexico that always involves cocoa or chocolate, but it turns out that I'm mistaken because there are several varieties of the stuff. This mole style chili does involve cocoa. And coffee. And a heap ton of veggies. And it's both simple and delicious :) 

All you gotta do is brown a diced onion and some ground beef in oil. Throw in diced carrots, frozen corn, garlic, instant coffee, soy sauce, cumin, paprika, cinnamon, chipotle chili in adobo, bittersweet chocolate, water, and a can each of diced tomatoes and black beans. Ta da! You now have lunch for a week :)

Would I make this again? Yes, I've made a similar chili before that was awesome and this is a healthier version of that because of the plethora of veggies. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Blueberry Boy Bait

I stumbled across this recipe over a year ago and have bookmarked it every since. It's just a simple blueberry-based coffee cake, and not something that would typically catch my eyes, except this has an awesome name. Blueberry boy bait? How freaking adorable. 

Unfortunately, the baked good itself is kinda ugly. Like it looks okay here because I cut it into pieces and dusted it with powdered sugar, plus my DSLR makes everything look better than it really is. I don't think it suits its awesome name at all because it's totally not something that would bait a boy, no siree.

Don't believe me when I say it's ugly? This is what it looked like coming out of the oven...


Wait for it...



Now you believe me. I don't think out of the oven, it would win me any hearts, although a makeover certainly makes it look presentable.

Would I make this again? No, this is quite possibly the most hideous thing I've ever made

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Holiday Cookies

I had way too many sweets left over from the gingerbread house building session. I wanted to use them up (even though the holidays are over), especially the caramels and the peppermint Hershey's kisses, since I don't like how they taste alone. What could one possibly make with these?

Thumbprint cookies are generally the answer, since they can work with any variety of sweet filling. If you make chocolate cookie dough and chop up some walnuts...

...You can made dough balls. Roll the dough balls in the walnuts (actually, dip in egg whites first before rolling to help the walnuts stick better). Or not roll, since they're fine plain as well. Make an impression in the dough with your thumb for the candy filling...

...And while the cookies are baking, the caramels can be made into a caramel ganache. 

When done baking, fill all the cookies! Do this while they're still warm. And then drizzle with chocolate ganache.

In addition to those cookies, I couldn't help but remake Blue Bottle's saffron vanilla snickerdoodles. And wow, this was a whole different animal, as it tasted worlds better when following directions properly than my biscuits. I spiced up half of them by rolling in vanilla sugar before baking. This added a fantastic crunchy lightness to a cookie that was otherwise dense and chewy in the middle.

I added white chocolate chips to the other half of the dough. And this was even more wonderful, as in some of the best cookies I've ever tasted. White chocolate complements saffron well, surprisingly. I am especially pleased with these.

Would I make them again? Snickerdoodles: YES. The others: only on occasions when I have too much leftover candy. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Brie, Bacon, and Basil Pasta

I'm not a huge pasta fan but this is fantastic. How can one go wrong with brie and bacon? I made this a few weeks ago and it was hideous, but I had one taste and knew I had to make it again just so I can rave about it.

It's so simple too. Just fry up some bacon til crispy and cut into small pieces. Meanwhile, boil some pasta (linguini/angel hair preferable because bigger noodles require more sauce, and brie is expensive) and drain, reserving some pasta water for the sauce. For the sauce, fry up a little garlic and onions, then melt in some brie, adding pasta water to help thin it and let it melt smoothly. Stir in bacon pieces and cooked pasta, then add basil, salt, and pepper to taste. 

Would I make this again? Yes, I don't like repetition yet I could eat this each week. It's that good.