Hodge Podge Kitchen

Friday, April 29, 2005

Seafood Green Curry

A picture of the last of my batch of green curry paste in action. I figure if I post this I might remember to make another batch or two again. (I used the recipe from It Rains Fishes: Legends, Traditions and the Joys of Thai Cooking
by Kasma Loha-Unchit. I highly recommended if anyone is looking for a Thai cookbook.) Truthfully, spicy food is starting to give me heartburns. But that's what TUMS are for right??

Saturday, April 23, 2005

IMBB #14: Orange you hungry?

The latest IMBB hosted by Foodgoat with the theme of orange. I chose to make something orange in color rather than the fruit orange because out of all the food that are orange in color, mangoes are my favorite. For those that have been to Chinese restaurant for dim sum will recognize this mango pudding. I always thought the dessert came from a box of Robinson's mango pudding mix (kind of like jello). So when I came across this recipe, I knew I had to try it. I used Manila mango (it's our favorite kind), but any ripe ones will do. Since the mango puree was so sweet, I cut the sugar down to 1/2 cup and we didn't miss it at all. It could have probably stay in the refrigerator a bit longer since it just barely set. But I waited as long as I could keep myself away. Make sure to serve with more evaporated milk over.

Mango Pudding

1 envelope unflavored gelatin
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup hot water
1/2 cup 2 percent evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups pureed fresh mangoes
4 ice cubes

Dissolve gelatin and sugar in hot water and stir until the liquid is smooth.
Mix it with the rest of the ingredients and stir until ice cubes are melted.
Pour mixture into molds and chill for 4 hours.

Food adventures

Over the weekend I unintentionally ventured into the stranger areas of the culinary world. I went out to lunch with my family and decided on trying a mexican place near our house. As soon as I saw the menu, I recall that I had always wanted to try menudo and it seems like it's only served in restaurants on weekends so I gave it a go. I knew it was basically beef tripe and hominy in broth (I actually found out later that is also includes pig's feet). I never had a problem in any of those ingredients. Being chinese, I've had all parts of your basic farm raised animals and I even admit to liking the instestines and livers of the world. When the bowl was brought to me though, I had to rethink my position. Sure I like tripe, but a whole big bowl of nothing but? I also wondered if it would be enough for lunch. Again, just tripe? ... Well I am happy to report that it was quite good and more than filling. The spicy broth made me all warm and refreshed from the inside (many latin cultures believe that menudo is a great cure for hangovers). Who knew you can fill a whole stomach with another?

I ended up having dinner at my parents that night and I was greeted by something that even I thought was strange. It looked like a plateful of little beaks. I asked my mom what it was and she told me they were duck tongues...Why hadn't I seen this on Fear Factor yet? I had a second thought before I tried it, and was surprised to find it had a bone to it. I think it's actually the bottom beak that the tongue was attached to, but it was pretty weird. Stranger than the taste was the fact that the stuff is kind of expensive -- seven to eight dollars per pound. As my mom explained it so well, "Each duck only has one beak, you know." Well put, mom...

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Sugar High Friday: Molasses

Since I missed the last SHF, I have been keeping my eyes out on the next one to make sure I will get a chance to participate. As luck would have it, this edition is hosted by a friend, Derrick at An Obsession with Food. I missed out on his IMBB on terrine last time, so there's definitely no way I'm going to miss this one. I do have to confess first that I'm not a big fan of molasses. Sure I like molasses in gingerbread, but that's the only thing I use molasses for. (I think my bottle of molasses has been in my pantry for more than a year!) I came across this molasses-pumpkin bread recipe that sounded good and a little more unique. I baked them in the muffin pan instead of a loaf pan because it's easier to take one with me in the morning to work for breakfast. It was good, too much for the two of us to eat before they spoil. So half of them are sitting in my freezer for a quick and healthy breakfast on the go.

Molasses-Pumpkin Muffin
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup canned pumpkin (plain pumpkin puree, NOT pumpkin pie filling)
2 tablespoons apple juice (or orange juice)
1/2 cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped (may substitute raisins)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease and flour 12 muffin pan, set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
In a separate bowl, combine molasses, sugar, applesauce, oil, eggs, pumpkin and apple juice with an electric mixer.
Add dry ingredients.
Fold in cranberries or raisins.
Spoon mixture into prepared pan. (I put a few pumpkin seeds on top for decorations.)
Bake until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes.
Let muffins sit for about 10 minutes, then turn the muffins out of the pan onto a wire rack to cool completely.

While the muffins came out well, it just wasn't that sweet. And since this is a dessert event, I wanted to make something sweeter. Since pomegranate molasses counts and I ran out of molasses, I came up with these pomegranate shortbreads. The sourness from the pomegranate molasses balanced the richness of the shortbread nicely. Next time, I think I will replace two more tablespoons of sugar with the molasses to see if it will tint the dough a little more. The shortbread were great to have with your afternoon tea.

Pomegranate Shortbreads
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cool unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
coarse sugar like Sugar in the Raw
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Cream the butter until soft in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
Add 1/4 cup sugar and mix until incorporated. Add the pomegranate molasses. Stir together the flour, cornstarch, and salt in a medium bowl.
Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix at low speed just until the dough starts to come together.
Flour a work surface, turn the dough onto it, and knead it 5 to 10 times, to bring the dough together and smooth it out.
Roll the dough into a big log. Then roll the log in raw sugar until the surface is well covered. Cover the dough and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
Slice the dough into 1/2" thick. Place on cookie sheet (I used a silicone mat). Bake for 11-12 minutes. Cool for a couple of minutes on the pan, transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Now that I made something that's sweeter, I wanted something else with a stronger pomegranate flavor. Something cold sounded like a good idea with the warm weather we have been having, so I ended up making a pomegranate sorbet as well. Celestial Seasonings makes a pomegranate red tea that was added to give the sorbet a little more flavor. This is definitely my favorite out of the three.

Pomegranate Sorbet
6 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
3 cups water
3/4 cup sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
1-2 pomegranate red tea bag (optional)
Warm water, pomegranate molasses, water and sugar in a non-reactive pot (glass or stainless steel, not aluminum), stirring until sugar dissolves. Add tea bags if using.
Cool in refrigerator.
Discard the tea bags.
Add lime juice to chilled mixture.
Freeze according to instructions for your ice cream maker.
Serve a scoop of sorbet on top of a slice of grilled pineapple.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Sesame-Crusted Tuna

Tuesday's night dinner turned out so pretty that I had to take a picture of it. Black and white sesame seeds coated the outside of a tuna steak, seared quickly. The sauce with the tuna and steamed asparagus was easily made by blending sesame paste, miso, and a little water. Finally, to give the mashed potato an Asian twist, I added wasabi powder to it. I wish I could say that I cook like this all the time. If only work doesn't drain all my energy by the time I get home...

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Blood Orange Cake

I meant to make this cake back on Easter. I never got around to it until this weekend. Normally, I don't put icing on cakes. I think all frostings and icings are too sweet. But the blood orange juice has such pretty color I thought I'll use it. I even decorated with a little rose I made our of sour gummy candy, something I'm surprised to still remember from 6th grade home-ed class.

Blood Orange Cake
3 oz cream cheese -- room temperature
3 egg whites -- room temperature
1 tbs cornstarch
1-2 tbs evaporated milk
zest from 1 small blood orange
2 egg yolk -- room temperature
2 oz cake flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 oz sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1. Mix cream cheese, evaporate milk, egg yolk, orange zest and half the sugar together until well combined.
2. Whip egg whites and the rest of the sugar together until stiff but not dry.
3. Sift together flour, baking powder, cornstarch, and salt. Add to the egg yolk mixture and mix lightly. Fold this mixture into the egg whites.
4. Pour mixture into a cake pan and bake in a preheated oven of 180C (about 350F) until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes.
1 cup powdered sugar
juice from blood orange
I forgot to measure how much juice I put in the sugar, but enough so it could be poured. The cake will absorb all of it if it's too thin.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Salmon Dumplings

I remember when I was still living in Hong Kong, my family would have dinner with my aunt on Sundays. In the winter, we will often have a dumpling feast where we would make everything from scratch. Each person is responsible for a certain task; cutting the dough into small pieces, rolling the dough into thin little rounds, and finally filling and folding the dough in the perfect shape. My brother and I were really too small to be useful. They usually just gave us a small piece of dough to play with. We also used to have little competition on who could eat the most. Fastforward to around 15 years later, when I was going to school in San Luis Obispo, one of the things that I would bring back to school with me are my parents potstickers/dumplings. No longer do they make the dough by hand at this point. But the fillings are seasoned the way I liked them, freezed and packed for me. Alas, my parents are no longer willing to make them anymore. Instead, they buy premade ones at restaurant distribution store that I really don't like. I never have much of an urge to make them myself since I never got that whole wrapping thing down. A trip to the library last week inspired me to at least attempt it. Instead of following a recipe from the book I checked out, of course I have to make something totally different. No recipe, cause well, I didn't pay attention to the quanity at all. The filling consist of salmon, grated ginger and garlic, soy sauce, sugar, white peppers, and a little salt. The wrappers are premade spinach ones you can get at Asian grocery store. I decided to wrap them in the simplest manner. Here's a picture of them after they're wrapped:

Here's another showing the pink filling with the green wrapper:

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Southeast Asian Style Beef Salad

A few weeks ago we had dinner at Bambudda Lounge in San Francisco with some friends. Chris and I were not that impressed with the food. The five-spice duck with coconut pancakes appetizer was good, but that's about it. I'm guessing it's more for people looking for a trendy, cool atmosphere rather than really good food. So I was not surprise at all that the restaurant didn't make it to the Chronicle's Top 100 Restaurant List this year. Anyways, the day after that dinner, I had a craving for something with that southeast asian sweet-sour-salty-spicy taste that I was craving from the night before. Since Chris wasn't there for lunch with me, I made myself a beef salad. (It's a little bit of a hassle to cook something else for him when I want beef since he doesn't eat red meat.)
Southeast Asian Style Beef Salad
Cut a small piece of beef (I don't remember what cut) into thin strips and marinate with a little soy sauce, oil, and brown sugar. While the beef is marinating, I shredded some cabbage and carrot. For the sauce, I mixed a little fish sauce, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar and sweet chili sauce. Stir-fry the beef in a hot skillet on high until just cooked. Add to the cabbage mixture and pour the dressing over it. I also topped it off with some fried shallots and garlic (premade). It definitely satisfied me more than dinner from the previous night.