Monday, February 24, 2020

Miso-Glazed Cod

Next to making miso soup, this was the next most obvious thing to do with the miso paste I bought for the Shabu Shabu.  There are tons of recipes out there using miso paste for something other than soup.  My favorites seem to be mixing it with honey as a glaze or combining it with tahini for a vegetable dressing.  We'll attack the first idea here.

It's important to note that what I bought is actually dashi miso, which has the bonito (fish) already in it.  It's like buying the kind of chicken bullion that comes in a paste, where all you have to add to the soup is the chunky stuff.  If you're trying to be vegetarian or vegan, get plain white miso and check the ingredients. Obviously, glazing fish with it is not vegetarian, but if you were to use this glaze on tofu or a vegetable, it would be.  I guess mixing it with honey is also not vegan, but subbing in maple syrup or agave would be.  I'm assuming that most people who look at my recipes end up tweaking them to suit their tastes, just like I do.

Using cod was the fish counter guy's idea, and it was a good one.  The thickness of the fish worked very well with a low-heat roasting, and the flavor is mellow so it doesn't compete with the glaze.  For someone who only eats fish out of guilt that I haven't had it in a while, this was a good compromise.

1 lb cod fillet, cut in portions
*2 Tb white miso paste
1 Tb olive oil
2 tsp rice vinegar
*1" fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp sesame seeds
1/2 tsp soy sauce

1.  Preheat oven to 325º and foil line a roasting pan with a rack.  This is to make cleanup easier.
2.  Whisk together dressing ingredients.  Coat both sides of fish portions with glaze and place on rack.
3.  Roast for 15 minutes.  Turn over and continue to bake until opaque in center and flaky, about another 10 minutes.  Serve hot.

Difficulty rating  π

Friday, February 21, 2020

Pastry Scrap Pie

After cutting out the circles for the egg tarts, I had all the in-between spaces left over.  I kneaded them, which did remove the lamination, and re-rolled them into small crusts for my patty pans.  I ended up with three crusts.  One got filled that day with the overflow egg filling, and the other two went into the freezer for another time.

Patty pans (single-serve pie tins) used to be toys for little girls.  Their moms would give them the scraps of pie dough after the main crust was shaped, then they could fill it with any leftover filling.  It was part playing house, part learning a life skill, especially in a century which saw a pie on the American table at least twice a day.  It was also a way to avoid waste in a time when you couldn't go to the market any time you needed one thing.

In the time it took me to preheat the oven, I made the filling and readied the two patty pans.  It still took 40 minutes to bake them, but that's just going to happen with a fruit pie.

You can make this with any pie filling.  I had bought the pear specifically for this purpose, so here's my recipe.  To make a full pie, quadruple the recipe, maybe add a fifth pear if they're small.

1 pear
*1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp flour
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp butter, divided
2 individual (patty pan) crusts

1.  Start preheating oven to 375º and have pie crusts ready.  Slice pears in half longways and scoop out seed core.  Remove inner string.  Cut halves again, then slice thinly.  Place in a bowl and toss with lemon juice to reduce discoloration.
2.  Toss in cardamom, flour, and cloves.  Fill crusts with the fruit and flour "sludge".  Top each pie with 1/2 tsp of butter.  This will cook into the flour and thicken the syrup.

3.  Bake 35-40 minutes, until pears are cooked and pastry is golden.  Allow to cool before serving.

Makes 2 individual pie servings

Difficulty rating  π

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Roasted Vegetables with Red Lentil Purée

Try googling "red lentil and cauliflower" and everything comes up curry.  Half of the recipes were Aloo Gobi with lentils and coconut milk.  I was looking for something much less soupy, and certainly without highly fattening ingredients.  I've been baking a lot lately and need to cut back on the fat somewhere.

At the same time, curry powder needs to be cut with something.  After some consideration, what I really wanted was a creamy, yet flavorful, red lentil sauce with my seasoned vegetables.  Yes, it meant getting out the food processor, but it was used and cleaned before the vegetables were done.

*3/4 C red lentils
1 single-serve container plain Greek yogurt (approx 5 oz)
olive oil
2 tsp curry powder, or to taste
1" fresh ginger, grated
*1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tb tomato paste
1 small head cauliflower
1 red onion
1/2 lb green beans
1 lb gold potatoes
salt and pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp ground cumin

1.  Preheat oven to 375º.  Cut potatoes and cauliflower into manageable pieces.  Peel and French cut (longways) onion.  Trim ends off beans.  Toss in a bowl with 2 Tb oil, salt, pepper, cumin, and paprika.  Spread on a lined, rimmed baking sheet and roast until the potatoes are fork-tender, 35-45 minutes depending on size.
2.  Sort and rinse lentils.  Simmer in lightly salted water for 10 minutes, until soft.  Drain.

3.  In 1 Tb oil, heat ginger, garlic, tomato paste, and curry powder until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

4.  In food processor, purée lentils, spice slurry, and yogurt.  The mixture will be the consistency of hummus.  If you prefer a thinner sauce, add water or milk.
5.  Serve roasted vegetables with purée either on top as a sauce or in a side bowl for dipping.  Rice makes a good side dish.

Difficulty rating  :)

Saturday, February 15, 2020

S'mores Cookies

The Girl Scouts have two versions of S'mores cookies.  My area gets the bars.  They're like graham flavored shortbreads with a filling of chocolate on one half and marshmallow on the other.  The other kind is more like a Chips Ahoy with marshmallows in it.  Either way, they're not what I had in mind.

What I found online was a plethora of recipes.  The prevailing version is like a Tollhouse with crushed graham crackers in the batter and the addition of chopped up Hershey bars and mini marshmallows on top.  That's what I wanted.

I opted for the recipe on a YouTube channel, SweetTreats.  It seemed to fix a couple of the problems on a different recipe I was considering, primarily by lowering the baking temperature and proportion of sugar.  The graham crackers already have some sugar in them, plus they decrease the gluten development of the cookie.  Too much added sugar will make them spread out and burn.  The other recipe did try to minimize that problem with cornstarch, but leaving out 2 Tb of white sugar does it just as easily.

I made my cookies slightly smaller than the 1oz ones in the video, so my half-batch would make a dozen.  They are still a lot larger than I would normally make.  You could easily get two dozen smaller cookies out of this and still have space to dot each one with marshmallow and Hershey bits.  It will cut the baking time down from 12 minutes to 8.

1/2 C (1 stick) margarine
6 Tb brown sugar
1/4 C granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 C flour
1/2 C crushed graham crackers (about 3 whole sheets)
1/4 C mini marshmallows, plus more for the top
1/2 C semisweet chocolate chips
1 Hershey bar, broken into small bits

1.  Preheat oven to 350º.  Line a baking sheet with parchment or a baking mat.  Do two if you want to make more, smaller cookies.  This is non-negotiable.  The marshmallows will melt onto a metal pan, even a nonstick one.

2.  Cream together margarine and both sugars.  Add egg and vanilla and beat until smooth.  While that's going on, crush the graham crackers in a ziplock bag.  It's the easiest way to do it without adding more dishes.
3.  Stir graham, flour, and baking soda into butter mixture until it makes an even batter.  Stir in 1/4 C marshmallows and the chocolate chips.
4.  Portion batter onto prepared baking sheet, then dot mounds with more marshmallows and the Hershey bits.  Put them near the middle of the mound, or they'll slide off the side when the cookie spreads out.  The brand of marshmallow you use does seem to make a difference.  I used the store brand, and most of them melted.  SweetTreats used Kraft; it looks like most of hers were intact.  Interestingly, you could still read "Hershey's" on the chocolate bar pieces after baking.
5.  Bake 12 minutes (8 for a 2-dozen yield), until edges are golden but middles are still soft.  Allow to cool on pan 5 minutes before removing to a baking rack.  Try not to let them cool all the way on the baking tray, or any melted marshmallow will get harder to remove.

Makes one dozen

Difficulty rating  π

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

New Ingredient: Alternative Pasta

Looking for something to do with the other cup of evaporated milk after the egg tarts, I saw the suggestion to use it in pasta sauce.  I had most of the ingredients I needed for Mac and Cheese, and only needed some pasta.  I decided to go with something different.

Thanks to the gluten-free craze, there are several kinds of wheat-free pastas on store shelves.  Asian-style noodles have used rice and buckwheat flour for ages, but bringing that technology to Italian-style dried pasta took a while.
The penne I bought had one ingredient, pulverized black beans.  There were also pastas made of green lentil, red lentil, and quite a variety from chickpeas.  One pricier brand sneaked in several other veggies as well.  It sounded good, but would not have worked in mac and cheese.  Some other time.

These pastas cook the same way as dried wheat pasta.  Being gluten-free, they will start to dissolve if you overcook them.  Got close to that with my box.  Like black beans, they turn the water black as they cook, which would have been easier to see if I hadn't been using a black pot.
The real question is how do they taste.  The texture is the same as wheat pasta, at least for the black bean variety that I got.  I forgot to taste some before drowning it in cheese sauce, but I couldn't taste the difference.  The color is kind of weird for pasta, but there are black pastas out there, generally colored with squid ink.  It isn't completely unheard-of, just surprising.

It does cost at least twice what I'm used to paying for dried pasta.  $2.50 at club price for a 4-serving box.  Wheat pasta is usually sold in 8-serving packages.  However, I didn't have to buy veggies.  The nutritional value of the pasta is the same as the beans it is made from, and the brand I got had zero salt added.  Tons of fiber, protein, and iron, making it easy to have a balanced, meatless meal disguised as something the kids like.  Ok, I tossed in some kielbasa, but I made that decision before the one to use bean pasta.
So if you're looking for a good cheat swap, I'd go with something made of bean, lentil, or quinoa pasta.  Backing it up with portion control will keep you on a healthy plan, while feeling like you had a cheat day.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Welsh Cakes

There are a few recipes in The Book of Afternoon Tea I keep skipping because they have currants in them.  I don't hate currants, but I don't usually have them on hand.  Right now I do have some, and I recently watched a video reviewing a shop in Cardiff, Wales.  They looked good, but the only British bakery I know of in my area is in the touristy area of Santa Monica.  I hate going down there.

Pice ar y maen, as they're called in Welsh (don't ask me to pronounce it), are popular on St. David's Day, March 1st.  They're also found year round in parts of the U.K., the way you can find Irish soda bread any time of the year, but most often near St. Patrick's Day.

The ingredients and method for the dough are a cross between pastry crust and scones, then you cook them on a griddle like an English muffin.  They taste somewhere between a pancake and a cookie.  The Welsh toast them up with butter and sometimes jam, but I found these rich enough to eat plain.

This recipe is for the traditional currant and nutmeg flavor.  Modern flavors include cinnamon, nuts, chocolate, orange, and pretty much anything you would consider using in a scone.

One constant I found in the several recipes I utilized for this version was that there's 1/3 the amount of sugar as flour by volume.  I shook off maybe a tablespoon when I was measuring, but then you dust them with powdered sugar after grilling, so it's right back on there.  I did not find them too sweet, which really surprised me.

2 C flour
1 Tb baking powder
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 C chilled shortening
1/4 C chilled unsalted butter
2/3 C sugar
*2/3 C dried currants
1 egg
milk as needed (about 1/3 C)
powdered sugar for dusting
oil for greasing skillet

1.  Into a bowl, sift flour, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt.  Cut in shortening and butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in sugar and currants.
2.  In a measuring cup, beat egg.  Add enough milk to equal 1/2 C.  Add to flour mixture in bowl and mix into a smooth but not sticky dough.  If necessary, add a little more milk to get everything to stick together, but you're looking for a ball only slightly more hydrated than pie dough.
3.  Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface 1/4" thick.  Using a 2-1/2" round cutter, fluted if you have it, cut out circles.  Re-roll dough as needed until all is used.  The recipe says it makes 16, but I got 21.  If you roll your dough even slightly thinner than 1/4", it will make a big difference in your yield, but err on the thinner side rather than making them too thick to cook evenly.
4.  Heat a griddle or skillet on medium-low and lightly grease with oil.  These do not spread, so you can place the circles close to each other.  Cook until browned, about 4 minutes per side.  They will puff up slightly.  If they start to get dark before the middles are cooked, turn down the heat.

5.  Serve warm, dusted with powdered sugar.  Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for up to two days, or frozen for longer.  Toast before serving.

Makes about 16

Difficulty rating  π

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Quinoa and Eggplant Tabouli

I finally got off my Asian recipe trend.  First up was a vegetarian tamale pie that I didn't bother to post because it was similar to a previous recipe.  After that, I really wanted to get back on a Mediterranean diet and chose this.

For those who have never had regular tabouli, it's a parsley and bulgur wheat salad.  To make this a main dish vegan meal with proper proteins, I'm subbing in quinoa here.  The other substitution I'm making is roasted eggplant instead of chopped tomatoes.  It's still winter, and I wanted one cooked veggie in the salad.

The substitution of quinoa does make this gluten-free.  I had a cheesy roll on the side.  One thing about so much Asian food is all the rice.  I was missing bread.

1 bunch parsley
3/4 C dry quinoa
1 large eggplant
*1/2 C diced red onion
3 stalks green onion, finely chopped
1 cucumber, peeled and chopped in bite-sized pieces
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 Tb olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1.  Soak quinoa if necessary, then cook to package directions.  Toss with lemon juice and oil and set aside.  Can be refrigerated ahead of time.

2.  Preheat oven to 400º.  Pierce eggplant in several places and roast until soft but not deflated, about 45 minutes.  Allow to cool a bit, then peel and chop insides.
3.  Remove large stems from parsley and chop.  Add to a bowl with the remaining ingredients.  Add salt and pepper as needed.  If too dry, add more oil.  Chill until ready to serve.

Difficulty rating :)

Monday, February 3, 2020

Hong Kong Egg Tarts

They were out of egg custard tarts when I went to 99 Ranch.  So disappointed.  If I'd realized there was a difference between Western and Chinese puff pastry, I would have bought some while I was there.  Off to the internet for a recipe.

Egg tarts were originally Portugese, then the Chinese co-opted them and made them better.  Possibly payback for Marco Polo stealing pasta.  Now, they're a standard at Chinese bakeries and one of the items I look forward to most at dim sum.

After reading several recipes, I settled on the one from The Woks of Life.  It had the most sensible DIY crust, which I ended up tweaking only slightly.  All the fillings are pretty much the same on every site; the only change is the quantity you get out of it.  This one is like making croissants, except there's no yeast and you only have to do one turn.

I made these in muffin pans.  Sarah from The Woks of Life saved a pile of past egg tart tins for her project.  Genius.  I'll have to do that if I ever get a chance to buy them again.

1-1/2 C flour
1/8 tsp salt
1 Tb sugar
3/4 C (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2-4 Tb cold water
2 Tb shortening

1.  In a bowl, stir together flour, salt and sugar.  Cut in butter until flaky, but bigger pieces than you usually use in pie crust.  Add 2 Tb of water and the dough will start to come together.  Add water a tablespoon at a time until dough sticks together but is not moist.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate 20 minutes.
2.  Roll out dough on a floured surface to 8" x 20".  My extra large wooden board comes in handy some days.  Spread out shortening over 2/3 of the rectangle.  I used my hands and it got messy.  Maybe use a spatula.  Fold clean 1/3 over the middle, then the other 1/3 over that.  Turn the dough 1/4 turn and roll out to 8x20 again.  Do the tri-fold one more time, wrap back in plastic, and refrigerate 30 minutes or until you need it.  The dough can be sealed and frozen for use another day at this point.

1/2 C sugar
1 C water
3 eggs, room temperature
1/2 C evaporated milk, room temperature
3/4 tsp vanilla

1.  Heat water and sugar until sugar dissolves, forming a light simple syrup.  Allow to cool to room temperature.

2.  Whisk eggs until smooth.  Add evaporated milk and vanilla and whisk again until uniform.  Whisk this mixture into the cooled syrup.
3.  Pour mixture through a fine-mesh strainer.  This step is important to remove stray bits of albumen (egg white) and air bubbles from whisking, which will prevent the tops of the tarts from becoming glossy.

1.  Roll out dough very thin.  I cut it in half to make it manageable.  Cut 5" rounds if using muffin tins, or to fit your mini-tart pans.  Try to do as many as possible on the first roll.  This is laminated dough; only the first roll will have the beautiful, flaky layers that separate.  The dough is just as good on subsequent rolls, but it won't flake the same.
2.  Start preheating the oven to 400º.  Gently coax the circles into the muffin tins.  If desired, flute the edges with a fork.

3.  Fill the pastry cups to just below the edge of the dough.  I did pan spray the tins because I didn't know what would happen, but the patty pans I didn't spray released the crust just as easily.  Bake on the low rack of your oven, or rotate halfway through.  Leave in for 15 minutes at 400º, then turn down the temperature to 350º for another 10-12.  The crust will start to get golden, but the custard should not brown.  You can see that the crust shrinks up, but the filling does not run over.
4.  Remove from oven and wait for them to stop bubbling.  They will deflate slightly, but retain the glossy shine.  Gently run a spatula around the edges, in case any egg is touching the pan.  Allow to cool 10 minutes in pan, before removing to a rack.  Can be eaten warm from the oven or room temperature.

Makes 2 dozen
Difficulty rating :-0

Friday, January 31, 2020

Pickled Carrot and Daikon Radish

I bought the smallest daikon they had for the shabu-shabu.  I still had most of it left.  I almost started a batch of kimchi with it, but that would have involved an inconvenient trip to the grocery store.  Plus, I'm still kind of weirded out by home-fermentation of vegetables.  Instead, I went flipping through canning books, remembering the kohlrabi relish.

Food in Jars had this recipe.  The phrasing is slightly different in the cookbook than on the blog, but the result is the same.  Super easy, and I had everything for it on hand.  Plus, it was something I could process for a later date when I figured out what to do with it.  Marisa's suggestion is as a sandwich condiment.  I like to put things like this in a green salad.  Don't really like pickles in sandwiches.  They can be on the side at a picnic or with a cheese plate.  Or chopped fine and added to tuna salad.  Just think of whatever you like to use cucumber pickles for, then substitute these.

I made a smaller batch than her full recipe, and scaled ingredients accordingly.  I do recommend wide-mouth jars if you process.  Even a narrow daikon might not fit through a regular mouth lid.  I cut mine in quarters lengthwise, to match the diameter of the carrots.
1 lb carrots (fat is better)
1 lb young daikon radish (thin, to match the carrots)
1-1/2 C distilled white vinegar
3/4 C granulated sugar
3 Tb pickling or kosher salt
1-1/2 tsp ground ginger
*3 Tb coriander seeds
*2 tsp black mustard seeds
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
3 whole star anise

1.  Prepare a boiling bath canner and jars for a 3 pint yield.  Start simmering lids.

2.  Peel carrots and daikon.  Using a mandoline or food processor with the slicing blade, slice carrots and daikon into paper-thin slices.  Set aside.
3.  Combine vinegar, 1-1/2 C water, sugar, salt, and ginger in a pot and bring to a boil to create the brine.  In a separate bowl, combine remaining spices.  If using something smaller than three pint jars (um, me), break apart star anise into the appropriate number of pieces.  Divide whole spices between the sterilized jars.
4.  Add sliced vegetables to brine and remove from heat.  Using tongs, add vegetables to jars.  Slowly pour the hot brine over the vegetables, leaving 1/2" headspace.  Tap jars and poke with a clean chopstick to remove air bubbles.  Add more brine as necessary.  I saved the remaining brine to mix with oil and use as a sweet ginger salad dressing.

5.  Wipe the rims clean with a paper towel, apply lids and rings, and process in a boiling bath canner for 5 minutes.  Remove and check the seals once cooled.  Refrigerate any unsealed jars and use within one month.  These do not require a curing time, and can be enjoyed immediately.  They also benefit from sitting in the jar at least a week, to intensify the flavor.

Yield 3 pints

Difficulty rating  :)

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Shabu-Shabu at Home

So after griping about all the work involved in Bowls, I decided to do this.

As long as I was stocking up on frozen dim sum and cheap Asian essentials at 99 Ranch for Chinese New Year, I decided to partake of their shabu-slice meat selection.  I spent a lot.  I did manage to control myself and only get one packet of shabu chicken.  The beef was crazy expensive.  I splurged on a duck instead.  Come on, $3.29/lb for duck?  Had to.
Shabu-shabu, or "hot pot" as the dated Oriental Cookbook calls it, is kind of like Japanese fondue with broth.  You are presented with a pot of flavorful broth and a plate of beautifully arranged raw foods, plus a rice landing pad for the cooked items and a sauce or two.

Similar to fondue, it is very important not to mix up the raw and cooked plates.  Even vegetables must get a one minute-minimum bath, since they shared a plate with raw meat or fish.  Dip the chopsticks in the broth, too, to sanitize them.  The exception is a vegetarian arrangement.  Also as with fondue, the finished product is very hot.  Give it a moment to cool in the rice bowl before consuming.

As a group thing, you would want to make sure no one is allergic to any of the dipping ingredients or on a special diet (like vegetarian or gluten-free).  It isn't impossible to do at a dinner party, but maybe have no more than three people to a pot.  I'm considering doing this for Passover, with appropriate dietary modifications.

As a disclaimer for the photos, I've been eating a lot of white rice lately and decided to fill the final bowl with udon noodles instead.  Usually, the noodles go on the serving plate to swirl in the broth, along with everything else.

You can change the dipping ingredients to fit your preferences and availability.  Tofu instead of meat or fish, zucchini, other kinds of cabbage, etc.

And expect more recipes with miso in them.  The smallest package was 500g.

2 qt unsalted chicken stock
2 Tb dashi miso paste (optional)
1 lb very thinly sliced chicken, beef, or pork
1 kamoboko (fish cake, the pink thing), sliced
1 bunch green onion, sliced in 1" pieces
1 carrot, sliced in ovals
2 baby bok choi, cut into manageable pieces
4 oz daikon radish, sliced
4 oz mushrooms, sliced or quartered
2 bundles udon noodles
1 C dry white rice
soy sauce as needed

1.  Cook the rice and udon according to package directions.

2.  While that's going on, heat stock and miso paste in a large pot to boiling.

3.  Cut all the vegetables (and meat, if necessary).  Arrange on individual serving platters or bowls.  Add udon noodles to the plate when done.  When the rice is ready, make four bowls of it.  Place soy sauce into serving cups for everyone to flavor their own dish.

4.  Pour now-flavored stock into fondue pots set on simmer.  I used the cheese baker thingy as an easier thing for one person to use.
5.  To eat, dip ingredients in pot and allow to simmer for a couple of minutes.  Move cooked items to rice bowl and eat as the next batch is cooking.  This is when you would add any soy to taste.  Waiting for everything to cook makes this meal last a long time.  It's a very social way of eating.
6.  By the end of the meal, the stock in the fondue pot has picked up the flavors of everything that has been in it.  Pour the remainder into the bowl and have it as soup.
7.  Alternately, any leftovers can be microwaved directly into leftover stock and had as nabeyaki udon the next day.

Difficulty rating  π