Monday, April 29, 2013

Quiche Lorraine

My friend Vivi invited me to tag along for brunch with her and some girls at Ted's Bulletin near Eastern Market. It was a gorgeous day out and despite having eaten a big breakfast already, I figured that I should join them and not be a bum (I've been catching up on Game of Thrones, and you know how that can be a downward spiral).

I just ordered a cup of soup since I wasn't that hungry. My other friend had also eaten a big breakfast, and she ordered the quiche but split it with those sitting around her. It was filled with diced onions and apple (I think?) and was so light and fluffy with the most delightful crust. I exercised restraint initially but when the bill came and there was still some left over, I polished it off because it'd be a shame to let such deliciousness go to waste.

And ever since then, I've been obsessed with quiches. That quiche was unlike any that I've ever tasted. I did some googling for quiche recipes that would achieve that heavenly texture, and stumbled upon this one linked on Chowhound so it was off to the kitchen for me. I made the crust from scratch as per the instructions, but unfortunately I don't have a rolling pin. I made do with a cylindrical coffee mug instead, but I couldn't roll the crust thin enough so my resulting quiche came out super flat unfortunately :( Still, it was mighty tasty and thus salvaged.

Recipe from Betty Crocker

Ingredients for Crust:
  • 1 cup Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp shortening (I just used butter cause it's yummier)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons cold water
Ingredients for Filling:
  • 8 slices bacon, crisply cooked, crumbled (1/2 cup)
  • 1 cup shredded Swiss or Cheddar cheese (4 oz)
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups whipping cream or half-and-half
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper (I used flakes, you can also use cayenne)

To make the crust, soften butter then cut in flour and salt. Sprinkle with cold water about a Tbsp at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost cleans side of bowl. You may add a tiny bit more water to moisten more if necessary. Gather into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for an hour or until chilled.

While the crust is chilling, fry yo bacon! I cut each slice in half since the long size wouldn't fit into my frying pans unfortunately. 

Also, dice up the onion.

Preheat oven to 425F. When the dough has been thoroughly chilled, roll it out with a rolling pin. I'm baking in a springform pan but you can also use a tart or pie tin, and the rolled out dough should be about 2 inches larger in diameter than your pan (unfortunately, I think I only managed to make it 1 inch larger...). Fold pastry into fourths and place in dish, pressing firmly into sides and trimming when necessary.

 Line pastry with two layers of foil and bake for 10 minutes, then remove and bake for an additional 2-4 minutes until it starts to brown. 

Mmm buttery. Once the crust is done baking, reduce oven temperature to 325F.

To make the filling, beat 4 eggs.

In a large bowl, add in all the filling ingredients and give it a big stir. 

Pour your filling into the crust and bake for 45-50 minutes. My filling went higher than my crust unfortunately, but I was stubborn and kept pouring. Thank god I baked the springform pan in a cookie sheet which collected all the egg filling that leaked.

Piping hot quiche out of the oven. Yummy.

It was too flat :( But everything else was right. I think I'll use storebought crust in the future to save trouble.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Chicago Style Deep Dish...kinda

I hate how some recipes are so gosh darn complicated. I get that they're detailed to ensure that your results will be authentic, but if I can cut out half the time for 90% payoff, it's worthwhile to me for the time saved to results lost ratio. Like this Chicago style pizza recipe for example. I've been craving the stuff and stumbled across this recipe taken from Cook's Illustrated. But if you take all the time specified spent making the dough, laminating the dough, and making the sauce, that would be a couple of hours and that's before you even start putting your pizza together. 

So here's what I did. I made the dough from scratch using the recipe (omitting cornmeal since I didn't have any, you can use any dough recipe actually). And that was the most tedious unnecessary step since Trader Joe's sell bags of premade dough that are delicious. Alas I didn't have time for a TJ's run so from scratch it is. I simmered some diced tomatoes in pasta sauce to cook it down and added dried herbs for flavor, but you can just use storebought pizza sauce directly. When ready to build your pizza, just preheat oven to 425F and mold dough to a deep dish cast iron skillet or a springform pan. Pour in 8oz of shredded mozzarella on top of the dough, and top with your pizza sauce.

Sprinkle the top layer with your meat toppings (pepperoni in my case) and parmesan cheese. If you used a springform pan, you can now place it in the oven to bake directly for 20-30 minutes until golden brown. If you used cast iron, you would need to warm up the pan first, so turn your stove on high heat and let your pizza pan heat up for about 3-5 minutes until you can see the sauce bubble a little. Transfer to oven to finish baking.

Ta da! There's some oil that collected in the middle of my pizza, probably from the pepperoni. This whole process took an hour and a half and that includes making dough from scratch (and half assing some pasta sauce). So if you use storebought dough and pizza sauce, you can make it in 45 minutes or less. It's not the most authentic but it's close enough and delicious enough.

Mmmm cheesy. After it's done baking, you're supposed to let it sit for 10 minutes, but I like my food piping hot so we cut into it right away. Alas the cheese/sauce was too melty and oozy straight out of the oven, so my slice fell apart :( But so good. It serves two with plenty of leftovers.

Recipe: 30 A Week (who got their recipe from Cook's Illustrated)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Vanilla Cupcake with Coffee Buttercream

I used to hate coffee when I was little. But now that I'm all grown up, coffee is a magical word that I equate with all things happy and fulfilling in this world. Enter these cupcakes. I brought a batch to work for a coworker's birthday and they were a huge hit. The cupcake is from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook, so you can't go wrong, and the whipped coffee buttercream is heavenly. And they're each topped with a large Ghiradelli dark chocolate chip. Did I do it right?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Japanese Cheesecake

I love cheesecake. Love. But only when I get them in the store. When I bake one at home, it comes out delicious, but they're so dense that by the time I polish off a slice, I'm already tired of it and can't take anymore. Enter the Japanese cheesecake, the only kind of Cheesecake light enough for me to eat more than a slice. The secret is that instead of using whole eggs, you separate the egg yolks from the whites. The whites are whipped until stiff, and then folded into the batter in order to achieve the light and airy texture. Yum.

Recipe from Jo Cooks

  • 10.5 oz cream cheese
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350F. Separate eggs so that you have a bowl of yolks and a bowl of whites. Place the whites in the freezer until it just starts to freeze around the edges.

In a large bowl, heat the butter and cream cheese slightly until softened, then whisk to combine. The instructions said to use a double broiler...but the defrost setting on the microwave worked fine for me.

In a separate bowl, mix together the egg yolks, 1 Tbsp sugar, and cornstarch. 

Boil the milk, then stir in the egg yolk mixture. Whisk bowl over boiling water on the stove (double broiler setup) until thickened. Add cream cheese mixture and mix well.

Add remaining sugar to the bowl of egg whites. Whisk using a mixer until soft peaks form. 

Gently fold the egg whites into the cream cheese mixture. Transfer mixture into a springform pan, which has been wrapped on the outside with plastic foil. Place springform pan into a cake pan or rimmed baking sheet and pour hot water into the outside pan. Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 300F and continue baking for 25 minutes. When it's done baking, turn off the heat but leave the pan in the oven for an additional 40 minutes.

While my cheesecake was baking, I threw in some blackberries and sugar into a saucepan (no measurements) and cooked for 5 minutes on medium heat to make a compote. All that juice is from the sugar drawing out liquid from the berries.

Let the berry mixture cool in the fridge

When the cheesecake is done in the oven, allow it to chill completely in the fridge overnight. This is an exercise in self control.

Slice and top with berries when ready to serve :)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Bacon Egg Cheesy Grits

I've been obsessed with grits recently. It's not one of those things that I grew up eating, so when I tried shrimp 'n grits for the first time ever about a year ago at Mindy's Hot Chocolate, it boggled my mind a bit. I bought a pack of grits at TJ's recently and have been trying to cook it with everything.

This, my friends, is the easiest thing ever. Having a boy over for brunch and want to make something impressive but simple? Try this. Directions:
  • Cook up grits following package directions, although use milk instead of water and throw in some cheese near the end.
  • While grits are cooking, fry up some bacon and eggs. Don't overcook the eggs so that the yolk stays nice and gooey.
  • Plating: Scoop out some grits, top with bacon, egg, and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Break yolk and eat!

That's the gist of it. When I cook, I tend to just throw stuff together and it works out, but if you can't roll that way, more specific directions are given here. Cheers and happy brunching.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Spring Break DC: The Source

The Source is a Wolfgang Puck restaurant in DC, and it's one of the more expensive restaurants to dine at in the city. But there's a secret for dining there on the cheap. On Saturday mornings, they serve a dim sum brunch special and it's only $42 for 8 small dim sum plates. The plates are enough to serve two people, so it's a delicious and filling meal for just $20-ish per person (before tax/tip). It's not significantly more expensive than your average dim sum restaurant in Chinatown but the quality of the food is noticeably more creative and delicious.

Pork belly pot stickers. They were tasty but not special. I wouldn't order more pot stickers if I visit again.

Chow fun with rock shrimp. I loved the shrimp, so good! The noodles were a touch salty.

Lobster egg rolls. This was my favorite dish, since the eggrolls were lightly fried and stuffed with so much lobster.

Shanghai noodles. This dish didn't stand out much -- I really like my dishes to have some type of interesting protein, and this was just noodles.

Wok fried shrimp dumplings. I liked these and wish the dumplings were bigger :(

Duck bao. Amazing! We got two orders of this because we each wanted two bao to ourselves (each serving comes with two bao). Bun was fluffy, duck was well cooked, sauce was good, and I liked the veggie garnish.

General Tso's wings. Wings were lightly fried and then rolled in a sweet and savory sauce. Very good, although we waited a long time for this course to arrive at our table. Maybe they ran out of chicken wings or something.

We went to hang out at the Newseum afterwards, which is my favorite museum in DC. If you bring your receipt from The Source, they give you 15% off regular admission prices of 20% off student prices (just show your receipt and ask for The Source discount).

575 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20565
(202) 637-6100

Strawberry Buttermilk and Lemon Cream Ice Cream Sundae

I recently received a great present: the Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home cookbook. I went through a crazy phase when I had too much heavy cream on hand and ended up making four different types of ice cream: salty caramel, darkest chocolate in the world, and the strawberry buttermilk and lemon cream pictured here.

Of the four flavors that I've made, the strawberry buttermilk is my standout favorite. I love how the tanginess of the buttermilk enhances the strawberry flavor. I've served the ice creams to several people and everyone had a different favorite, which shows that they are all delicious. It's just a difference of opinion.


Spring Break DC: Birch and Barley

Birch and Barley is my roommate Irene's favorite restaurant in DC. She's been here several times and says it's fantastic, so I made it a point to book a reservation. For me, what really set Birch and Barley apart from the pack is the decor. It's dimly lit and very intimate, with orbs of candlelight hanging from the ceiling and perched on the walls. I really wish that I had taken photos of the restaurant.

Amuse of delicious risotto fritters, with an assorted bread plate in the back. The bread plate came with three varieties (dinner roll, pretzel, and biscuit) and some spreads, and is the type of thing you would have to pay for at other restaurants to get such quality. 

The appetizer: proscuitto and fig flatbread. It was served with brie cheese and balsamic drizzle. We expected flatbread to mean thin crust so we got the full size portion, but the crust was actually thick and fluffy like a personal pizza. We asked the waiter to pack half of it up so that it wouldn't ruin our appetite for our main courses. I brought it to work for lunch on the following Monday and mmm it was still delicious.

David's honey roasted duck, with wild rice cherries plus some other veggies. This was the best duck dish that I've ever had in my life, and that's quite the compliment coming from a huge duck fan like me.

Hand cut pappardelle with yogurt and goat ragu. I really liked it, although the noodles were thicker and tougher than what I like from pappardelle. They didn't get the texture right.

Lemon chantilly dessert. We heard the pastry chef is a seminfinalist for a James Beard award so we had to try this. It was fantastic, much better than the dessert we ordered at Mindy's Hot Chocolate (restaurant of last year's pastry chef winner). I really hope B&B succeeds in the award this year as I think that they deserve it.

1337 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 567-2576

Friday, April 12, 2013

Spring Break DC: Rasika

Man, sometimes I swear that I was meant to be born Indian since I dig their food way too much for any normal person. Plus I really like the whole eating with your hands thing. I'm a weirdo and I admit it. Although I adore Indian food, it usually tastes the same from restaurant to restaurant, so I was confused why Rasika in DC is so well regarded. What could set it so far head of the pack? I was able to find out for myself.

Mango lassi. Really great and so smooth, although it could've been served more chilled.

Palak chaat, a crispy spinach appetizer. This was incredible, with such an interesting combination of flavors and textures in each bite. I asked David if we could order a second one but we decided to wait for our mains first and see if we had more appetite later.

My lamb biryani, which was not on the menu. The bread baked on top of the rice was a cute touch.

David's black cod. Holy crap this was fantastic. It was the best fish dish that I've ever had. I wouldn't call it very Indian-style dish, but this is what Rasika is famous for.

The garlic naan. Really nice and pillowy, although the portion was small.

I made Indian food the next day. I told David that it would blow Rasika out of the water, but I don't think it did :( I made my chicken tikka makhani and this chickpea coconut curry. I promise my food was much tastier than it looks...

And my homemade dessert was a nice touch :) I made salty caramel and the darkest chocolate ice cream in the world from the Jeni's ice cream cookbook. I threw in some french macarons from Trader Joe's, which were a nice touch. 

633 D St NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 637-1222