Thursday, October 25, 2012

Chap Chae - Korean Noodles with Beef and Vegetables

I made this recipe without the beef so my Dad, a vegetarian, can try it.  It was good.  The sauce was a bit too sweet as is.

My older sister wanted a light taste with less sauce.  My younger sister thought the lack of sauce made the dish a bit tasteless.  My Dad thought the sauce too sweet, etc.  My Mom is always the sweetest person in the world who never says anything unpleasant, so she didn't comment at all.  It's hard to make a new dish in a house full of critics.  But I love them all.  :-)

3 Tbsp canola oil
2 cups julienned carrots
Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste
2 cups thinkly sliced onions
1 cup julienned red bell pepper
1 cup julienned button mushrooms
1 cup julienned filet mignon
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup sugar
16 oz dried Korean sweet potato noodles (called dangmyeon), soaked in boiling hot water until al dente.
2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 Tbsp thinly sliced scallions
1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a skillet over medium high heat; Add carrots.  Season with salt and pepper; cook; stirring until half-tender, about 3 minutes.
Transfer to a large bowl; repeat with 1 Tbsp oil, onions, peppers, and mushrooms.
Wipe skillet clean, heat remaining oil.  Add steak and garlic, cook until browned, about 4 minutes.
Add soy sauce and sugar; cook until sugar dissolves.
Pour over vegetables in bowl, add noodles and sesame oil, and toss.
Garnish with scallions and sesame seeds.

I didn't have time to take a picture of the final product, because everyone was already hungry, so all you have are the pictures of the julienned vegetables.

Remember to drain the vegetables before mixing or the dish could be too wet (like my husband did the next day).  This time, I didn't want to take a picture!  :)

Peanut Butter Cookies

I love a good peanut butter cookie, and I've been searching for the right recipe for me.  I love Central Market's PB cookie!  To me, it embodies what a perfect PB cookie should be: crispy on the edge, soft and chewy in the middle, crunchy peanuts, full of PB flavor, but with enough flour to make it a cookie.  I don't want a flourless PB cookie.   So I've tried a few PB cookie recipes, and while they were good, they weren't perfection.

This PB cookie recipe is near perfection, but it's pretty close to what a CM PB cookie is.  I would love a CM PB cookie recipe, if anyone knows and cares to share.  Please.

3 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
12 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs
1 cup peanut butter (I used Crunchy Jif PB)
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups peanut butter chips

Heat oven to 350F.
Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl.
Beat sugars and butter together until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each, until smooth.
Add peanut butter and vanilla; beat until smooth.
Add flour mixture, beat until combine.
Fold in the peanut butter chips.

Bake for about 12 minutes.  Actually I baked for about 15 minutes at 325F convection, but I think my cookies were a bit more done than I'd like.  The edges were very good, but the middle were not soft and chewy.  However, I think the cookies were underdone at 12 minutes.   I portioned the cookies using the 1-Tablespoon scoop.  I will make bigger cookies next time, and keep baking time at 15 minutes.

Also the original recipe didn't call for the peanut butter chips, but I know CM PB cookies have the chips as one of the ingredients, so I added the chips.  I think it made a world of difference to these cookies.

However, one of my picky friends didn't rave for the cookies.  But he didn't like the CM PB cookies either.  I just think he doesn't have the sophistication to appreciate a good cookie when he stumbles upon one.  :)

Bánh Bò Hấp (Steamed Sponge Cake)

I tried to make this 'cake' before, but failed miserably.  Other recipes didn't give enough time for fermentation.  I went a bit overboard with the colors.  My nieces call these Easter cakes.

1 1-lb (16 oz) bag of rice flour.
1 tsp sugar
1.5 tsp instant yeast
2 cups lukewarm water
Mix together until smooth.  Let mixture sit in covered container for 5 - 10 hours.
1 cup water
1.5 cup (1 can) coconut milk
1.5 to 2 cups sugar, depending on your preference for sweet.
Put everything into saucepan over medium heat.  Warm mixture just until sugar dissolved.  Do not boil (because it'll take you longer to cool it down).  Cool mixture down to 100F - 110F.
Combine coconut milk mixture into flour mixture.  Mix well.  Let mixture sit for another hour.  You should see some bubbles rising on top.
Divide batter.  Add food color if desired.
Lightly oil the molds.  Steam molds until hot before pouring the mixture in.  Steam for 8-10 minutes, if using small molds like I did above, until the top surface is solid.  If using pie pan, steam for 25-30 minutes.

You should see the honeycomb rising from cake bottom.

Since this recipe used all rice flour, my sister complained that it lacked the typical chew in Vietnamese dessert.  So when I made it the second time, I added about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of tapioca starch.  I've seen some recipes call for 50g of tapioca flour, but my kitchen scale ran out of battery, so I just guessimated.  The cake came out dense and heavy, lacking the fluffy soft texture of the steamed cake.  Did not like.

Spaghetti Alla Primavera

I tried this recipe, and liked it so much that I made it three times in a month.  I loved the taste:  clean, light, yet complex.  I don't love pasta that's too saucy, not something with too much cream or cheese, but I liked this dish very much.  There was just enough cream and cheese to cling on the pasta, and no sauce pooling at the bottom of the dish.

I will definitely make this again.  But for my husband and sons, I might have to add grilled chicken or something.  They kept asking, "No meat?"

6 Tbsp olive oil
3 gloves garlic
6 oz button mushrooms, quartered
1 cup asparagus tips, blanched
1 cup small broccoli florets, blanched
1/2 cup frozen peas, blanched
1 small zucchini, quatered lengthwise, cut to 1" lengths, blanched
1 lb. spaghetti, cooked al dente
1 cup heavy cram
2/3 cup grated Parmesan
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
Kosher salt, to taste
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
2 Tbsp thinly shredded basil
1/2 cup lightly toasted pine nuts

I added a lot more vegetables called for in the recipe, and I still didn't think I had enough vegetables. I used 1 lb. asparagus, 1 full head of broccoli, 2 zucchini, 2 squash for my recipe.

Heat 5 Tbsp oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add 2/3 of the garlic, cook until golden.  Add mushrooms; cook until golden, about 3 minutes.  Add vegetables, cook for 3 minutes.  Add pasta, cream, Parmesan, and butter; season with salt.  Toss to combine.  Transfer to a platter.

Bring 1 Tbsp olive oil and garlic, tomatoes, and basil to simmer over medium heat.  Pour over pasta.  Garnish with pine nuts.

It was so good that we started eating, and I forgot about taking pictures.  I've been very lazy with taking pictures lately, so I hardly have any picture of the prep.  Sometimes, the only pictures I might have are those taken with my old clunky blackberry.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Cong You Bing - Scallion Pancakes

Scallion Pancakes

2 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking power
2/3 cup cold water
 Process in food processor for 40 seconds.  Remove.  Set aside.
2 cups flour
1 Tbsp salt
2/3 cup boiling water
Process in food processor for 40 seconds.  Add cold dough, pulse to combine, about 35 seconds.
Transfer to a floured surface, knead until smooth, about 4 minutes.  Transfer to greased bowl, let sit for 2 hours.
2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1-1/2 cups thinly sliced scallions
1 tsp crushed red chili flakes
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
Divide dough into 6 equal parts, roll out in rectangles thinly.  Brush with sesame oil, scallions, chili flakes and white pepper.  Roll tightly like jelly roll.  Then coil like a snail, tucking end underneath.  Flatten coil into a disk.  Roll out into 5" circle.

Let pancakes sit for about 10 minutes.

 Heat 2 tsp canola oil in skillet.  Cook, swirling skillet and turning once, until golden about crisp, about 10 minutes.

I made this dish twice.

The first time, I think I mistakenly used only 1 teaspoon of baking powder instead of 1 tablespoon as called for in the recipe.  However, it turned out better.

The second time, I followed the recipe, and the pancake was a bit bitter / metallic.  Did not like as much.  Or maybe the novelty wore off, so I wasn't as enamored with it as the first time.