September 30, 2008

Apple Cider Doughnuts




Ingredients
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
3/4 cup milk, at room temperature
1/4 cup apple cider, at room temperature
1/4 cup warm apple cider (about 110 degrees)
3 1/4 cups flour
4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoons salt

apple cider frosting
3 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup apple cider


canola oil for frying


Directions:

for the frosting:
Beat all ingredients together until a spreadable icing forms.

For the doughnuts:
In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm cider in the bowl of a stand mixer or large mixing bowl. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

Add the flour, remaining cider, milk, butter, egg yolks, sugar, and salt until you have a soft, elastic dough that comes together easily into a ball.

Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover with a tea towel or plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until it has doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.

doughnutdough

Flour a clean work surface. Place the dough on the surface and roll it out. Roll until it is about 1/2 thick. Cut out doughnut shapes. Do not reroll to dough.

doughnutrolling

Place them on a parchment or silipat lined cookie sheet, cover again with the tea towel and let them rise 15-30 minutes. They should look puffy but don't need to have doubled.

doughnutcut

Meanwhile, heat (to 350) about 3 inchs of oil in a heavy pot. Fry the doughnuts (2 or 3 at a time works well) flipping at least once to insure that they are golden brown on all sides, about 2 minutes.

doughnutsfrying

Drain on paper towel lined plates or baking pans. Repeat for remaining doughnuts. Frost cooled doughnuts if desired. Eat the same day they are made.



Yield: about 12 doughnuts

doughnutbite


My thoughts:
Cider doughnuts are an Autumn classic found at apple orchards and farmers markets all over the US. Traditionally cider doughnuts are cake doughnuts (doughnuts made with baking powder rather than yeast) but I vastly prefer the texture of yeast raised doughnuts. For that reason I came up with this recipe that has the subtle sweetness of the traditional cider doughnut but instead of being dense and cakey, they are light and fluffy.

Doughnut making is so rewarding, hardly anyone makes doughnuts at home anymore so it seems like an especially special treat. The dough is very easy to work with and it is almost magical how they transform from cut up dough to doughnuts in just a couple of minutes in the pan.

The flavor of these doughnuts is wonderful, the doughnut itself is just barely sweet but full of cider flavor and the sweet icing complements them perfectly. You could also dip them in granulated or confectioners sugar if you want to skip making icing but you'd be missing out.

September 28, 2008

Pumpkin Pancakes with Homemade Cinnamon Butter


Ingredients:
for the pancakes:
1 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
2 1/2 tablespoons melted butter
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs

for the cinnamon butter:
4 tablespoons butter, very softened
2 teaspoons confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon



plus additional butter for griddle

Directions:
For the cinnamon butter: thoroughly combine all ingredients. Refrigerate until use.

Whisk together all pancake ingredients together in a large bowl until just mixed. Spoon 1/3 cup of batter on a hot, buttered griddle. Cook until the top is bubbling, then flip. Cook the pancakes until the underside is golden brown, then serve with cinnamon butter.

Yield: about 8-10 pancakes

My thoughts:
People are constantly asking me who I decide what I am going to make or what inspires my recipes. Truth be told, a lot of what I make is dictated by what is on sale at the supermarket or the sudden need to use up some ingredient or another. However, there are times when what I make is inspired by the world at large-novels, things I've had in restaurants, or even movies and television.

In this instance, I was watching an episode of Gilmore Girls and in it Luke, the diner owner, announces that the breakfast special is pumpkin pancakes with homemade cinnamon butter. Now if you have been reading the blog for a while now, you'll know I am not a fan of pumpkin pie* and thus don't make too many pumpkin recipes (just in case they end up tasting like pumpkin pie) but they sounded strangely good. I do like the flavor of actual pumpkin and thought the cinnamon butter would be enough to spice it up without having to add a bunch of spices to the actual pancake. Since I got the idea from a show that is decidedly not cooking oriented, I had to come up with an entirely new recipe. Luckily I got it right on the first try and ended up with moist but fluffy pancakes with a true pumpkin flavor. The not too sweet cinnamon butter was the perfect accompaniment.

*I think it is the combination of pumpkin pie spices + pumpkin that turns my stomach, ick.


Check out these other nonpumpkin-pie-tasting pumpkin recipes:
Pumpkin Power Muffins
Pumpkin Cheesecake Swirl Brownies
Pumpkin Cornbread


Or these tasty pancake recipes:
Gingerbread Pancakes
Coconut Pancakes with Cardamom Syrup
Rhubarb Orange Pancakes
Cranberry Pancakes

September 25, 2008

Baked Ziti with Rapini and Chicken Meatballs




Ingredients:
1 lb ziti, cooked to package instructions

cheese mixture:
15 oz ricotta
1/4 cup shredded Italian cheese
10 oz rapini, chopped and steamed
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 egg

sauce:
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
28 oz canned ground tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter

meatballs:
1 lb ground chicken
1 slice sandwich bread, crusts removed
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup grated Italian cheese*
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 egg
1/2 onion, minced
matzo meal or bread crumbs
salt
pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. In a medium bowl, mix together the cheese mixture ingredients. Set aside. In a large skillet, heat the butter and olive oil. Saute the onion and garlic until softened and fragrent. Add the tomatoes and simmer on low. Meanwhile, put the milk and the bread in a saucepan, heat low. Mash bread with fork after it has absorbed all milk. Remove from heat and cool. In a bowl, knead together the chicken, basil, onion, vinegar, egg, olive oil, cheese and the bread/milk mush, salt and pepper. Pour the matzo meal in a shallow bowl. Shape the meat into medium sized balls and roll all sides in the matzo meal. Place on a broiler pan and broil, turning once, until pretty much cooked through. Place the meatballs in the sauce and continue to simmer about 5 minutes. Toss the cooked pasta and the sauce together. Pour half of the mixture in a 13x9 baking dish. Dot with cheese filling. Top with remaining sauce. Sprinkle with additional shredded cheese if desired. Bake, covered in foil, for about 10 minutes, then remove the foil and cook an additional 10 minutes or until bubbly.



*I actually used this which is a mixture of Mozzarella, Provolone, Parmesan, Fontina, Romano and Asiago but any one of those cheese would work well.

My thoughts:
This is the latest result of my baked pasta tinkering. We had a pound of ground chicken I wanted to use and thought it might be fun to make meatballs. The great thing about ground chicken is that it is really easy to flavor with herbs and sauces and it is much lighter tasting than even really low fat ground beef.

Tossing the meatballs into a baked pasta dish was a stroke of genius, a nice change from our usual but not more time consuming or fussy. I also liked that if I didn't want a lot of meat, I could just take less meatballs since the meat wasn't evenly distributed in the sauce. Perfect if you live in a household where some people are more meat eaters than others. We love, love rapini and adding it to the dish makes this a one-dish meal.

The recipe is also very budget friendly-it easily feeds 4-6 and uses simple, inexpensive ingredients. Ground chicken is only about $2.50lb and you can't get more affordable than a dish that incorperates dried pasta and canned tomatoes.

This dish also reheats exceptionally well the next day.

September 23, 2008

Chipotle Guacamole




Ingredients:
4 avocados
3 chipotle peppers in adobo, finely chopped
1 medium tomato, cubed with excess liquid squeezed out
1 shallot, minced
1/8 cup cilantro, minced
1 teaspoon garlic powder
juice of 1 lime
salt
pepper

Directions:

In non-reactive bowl, use the back of a spoon or a potato masher to mash the avocados to desired constancy. Add lime juice and stir to combine. Add all other ingredients, stir to evenly distribute. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it slightly in to the guacamole to prevent oxidation and chill for at least 1/2 hour. For best results, serve the same day you make it.


Yield: 4-6 servings


My thoughts:
I've made the same perfectly delicious classic guacamole recipe for years now and thought it might be time for a change. While on vacation we came across the cutest avocado shaped (the spoon is the stem!) guacamole bowl* ever and well, we had to have it. I can't resist anything that is in the shape of something else, especially cooking related items. Anyway, we bought the bowl a week or so ago and ever since I have been looking for avocados on sale. I finally found them for the low(er) but still not so low price of $1.50 each and snatched some up. Since I am all about the smoky, I thought using chipotle peppers in adobe would be fun instead of my usual habanero or bird's eye. I wish I had come papalo to use instead of cilantro (not my favorite herb) but using just a small amount of cilantro lend it some flavor without totally overpowering it. And you know what? Matt says it is the best guacamole he's ever had, even better (gasp!) than the classic version. I also love our bowl, it has a lid and holds the perfect amount of guacamole.

September 21, 2008

Eye of the Tiger Cupcakes




Ingredients:
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup cocoa
1/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla paste (or extract)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, at room temperature

vanilla chocolate swirl frosting
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Grease or line a 12 wells in a cupcake tin. Whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream sugar and butter together until light and fluffy. Add the egg, sour cream and vanilla paste/extract and beat until fluffy. Add the flour mixture and milk alternately, beginning and ending with flour, mixing well with each addition. Pour out half the cupcake batter into a separate bowl and whisk in the cocoa powder. Add a tablespoon of chocolate batter to each well, carefully smoothing it to all sides, top with a tablespoon of vanilla batter again smoothing it to all sides. Repeat until all of the batter is gone. Depending on how evenly you divided the batter some may have 3 layers while others may have 4.

cupcakes!

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the center cupcake comes back mostly clean.


cupcakes!

Cool completely on a wire rack, then ice with vanilla chocolate swirl frosting.

sneak peek

My thoughts:


cupcakes!

It has been years since I've participated in a Sugar High Friday event but since this one involved cupcakes and a cute flamingo logo, I couldn't resist. Tiger (cup)cakes (very similar to marble cakes but with more of a striped/layered effect than swirls because you don't run a knife though the layers) are equally hard to resist. The chocolate layer is super chocolatey and both are perfectly moist. I love how each cupcake is slightly different.

inside of cupcake

Some have 3 stripes, some have four and they are are all delicious.

cupcakes!

And while they look difficult and certainly are impressive to bite into, they really only take a few extra minutes to make than regular, single layer cupcakes.

September 20, 2008

Vanilla Chocolate Swirl Frosting



Ingredients:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla paste
1/8 cup cocoa

Directions:
In a large bowl, beat together the vanilla paste (or extract)cream cheese and confectioners sugar until smooth. Frost 12 cupcakes. Add the cocoa to the remaining icing (there should be about 1/4 left) and beat until smooth. Dip a toothpick into the chocolate frosting, thoroughly coating it. Use the toothpick to swirl the chocolate into the vanilla frosting.


IMG_0016
My thoughts:
A subtle swirled icing. More than enough to ice 12 cupcakes or a single layer cake.

September 19, 2008

Pork & Cellophane Noodle Salad




Ingredients:
8 to 10 oz cellophane noodles*
2 thick cut pork chops or about 8 oz of pork tenderloin
1 thin skinned, low seed cucumber, cut into strips
2 carrots, cut into strips
1 bunch scallion, diced
1 bunch baby bok choy or Shanghai cabbage, chopped

for the marinade:
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice (I actually used key limes)
1 clove garlic, sliced

for the dressing:
1 Thai chile, minced
2 tablespoons lime juice (again, I actually used key limes)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1/4 teaspoon agave nectar



Directions:
Marinade the pork for about 30 minutes. Heat the oil in a skillet. Add the pork and cook thoroughly, flipping once, about 10 minutes. If the chops are very thick, cover the pan for a few minutes of the cooking time. Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to package instructions. Add the bok choy in to the water/noodles during the last minute of soaking. Drain. I actually put it all my beloved salad spinner and spun it dry. Whisk together the dressing ingredients in small bowl and set aside. Slice the pork into thin strips. Toss with noodles, bok choy, carrots, cucumber and dressing. Serve cool.

*also known as vermicelli, bean threads, bean thread noodles, or glass noodles, they always make Mister Cellophane get stuck in my head.

noodlesalad2

Note: You might have noticed that I actually used my crinkle cutter instead of slicing the vegetables. It is just as easy as using a knife and since the salad is so simple, it added some extra visual interest. Totally unnecessary though.

Yield: 2-4 servings

My thoughts:
I always find making dinner in September a daunting task. Some days it is as hot as July and on others it is downright chilly. Salad can be a perfect choice but tomato season is waning so I can't muster up too much enthusam for a leafy salad. Instead, I opt for salads like this, hardy but not heavy and boasts juicy meat and crisp vegetables. It is perfect for a hot day or one with a bit of a nip in the air.

This is another recipe that is truly more than the sum of its parts. It is a complete meal that goes from raw ingredients to finished product in under 15 minutes-perfect for a busy weeknight. The dressing is divine-be careful to really mince that pepper though, you don't want an unsuspecting diner to get a big chunk of one of them, they are pretty fiery-and just coats the noodles with flavor. Using pork chops is a great short cut, they cook quickly and stay juicy even when thoroughly cooked. This salad holds up well overnight so you might want to make a bit extra to have for lunch the next day.


If you like this you might also enjoy:

Cold Black Rice Noodle Salad with Mixed Vegetables

Superlative Sesame Noodles

Swiss Chard, Beef, Tofu & Shrimp Summer Rolls

September 17, 2008

Everything But the Kitchen Sink Cookies



Ingredients:

1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
1/4 cup toffee chips
1/8 cup cocoa nibs
1 egg, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder



Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a medium sized bowl combine flour, salt, and baking powder. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and combine thoroughly. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the sweetened butter and mix until a very thick dough forms. Fold in the chocolate chips, coconut, nibs and toffee. Distribute them evenly in the batter. Form cookies by dropping 1 teaspoon of dough on the sheet two inches apart. Flatten slightly then bake until light brown, about 12 minutes. Remove (using a flat turner or spatula) to a wire rack to cool.

One tip: The center of these cookies should look slightly soft (almost as if they were raw, but not shiny) when they are ready to be taken out of the oven. The trick is to take them out when their bottoms are just lightly brown-generally at exactly 12 minutes. They will set up as they cool.

Yield: about 1 dozen cookies

My thoughts:
What does one do when they realize that they have a bunch of odd amounts of their favorite baking ingredients? Make cookies! This recipe unfortunately didn't entirely take care of my odds and ends problem but does combine a wide range of ingredients into one delicious drop cookie. The ingredients might not sound like they go together but the cookie totally works. The nibs provide a nutty crunch and the toffee helps keep the cookie soft and chewy. The coconut provides a back note of flavor and the chocolate pulls it all together. Seriously tasty stuff.

September 15, 2008

Crab Pretzel





Ingredients:
for the dip:
1 small shallot, grated
8 oz fresh blue crab meat
3 oz shredded sharp cheddar
3 oz cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1/2 tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard


for the pretzel:

3/4 oz active dry yeast
1 1/3 cups flour
1/2 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar PLUS 1/8 teaspoon
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt

pretzel topping:
sea salt
water


to sprinkle: additional shredded sharp cheddar


Directions:
for the crab dip:
Before you begin, make sure you pick out any bits of shell or cartilage that might have been over looked in the crab processing process. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together. Make sure all ingredients are evenly distributed. Refrigerate before use.

for the pretzels:
Dissolve yeast into water with the 1/8 teaspoon of sugar, let stand 5 minutes. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, remaining sugar, salt and butter. Add the dissolved yeast and then pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer and knead until a smooth, elastic round ball forms. Add a little more flour or water a tablespoon at a time if the dough looks too wet or dry. Alternately, knead by hand on a clean, floured flat surface. Place in an buttered bowl, cover with a tea towel or plastic wrap and allow to rise in a cool place for 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425. Pour the water into a shallow bowl. Stretch the dough into a long tube about 1/2 inch thick. Set aside to rest for 5 minutes. Fold into a pretzel shape by making a rough circle and crossing the ends inward. Brush with water and sprinkle lightly with sea salt.

IMG_0012

Place the giant pretzel on to a parchment or silipat lined baking sheet. Allow to sit for 5 additional minutes. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until pretzel is golden brown.

IMG_0013


Remove from the oven. Top with a generous amount of crab dip. Sprinkle with cheddar then stick the pretzel back into the oven for 1-2 minutes to melt the cheese. Serve hot. I suggest placing it on a cutting board and allowing people to slice off chunks with a bread knife to eat off of an individual plate.

IMG_0086

Yield: 1 giant crab pretzel (serves many as an appetizer)


My thoughts:
Coming back from an Eastern Shore vacation where not a day went by when blue crab didn't pass my lips, I still hunger for crab.

The crab pretzel is dish that is found on many menus throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Basically an extremely large soft pretzel covered in a Old Bay-spiked crab dip, the crab pretzel's origins are unclear although several restaurants (perhaps most adamantly, the Silver Spring Mining Company) claim to have invented it. Soft pretzels are extremely common and popular in the Mid-Atlantic and up to New York and crab dip is particularly Baltimore and Maryland favorite, though both have found national fans, so perhaps it isn't surprising some enterprising soul brought them together. I know the pairing of the two sounds unlikely but it totally works-the soft, saltiness of the pretzel complements the creaminess of the dip and is a nice alternative to crackers or chips. Some places cover the dip with a large amount of cheddar but for my homemade version I added just a sprinkle to avoid overpowering the crab. This homemade version is a bit lighter and fresher tasting than many of the crab pretzels sold in restaurants and I think, even more delicious.

I know some people find working with yeast daunting but this is really a great, soft and easy to handle dough. Practically fool-proof yet very impressive. Who makes homemade pretzels anymore much less one covered in crab?

If crab pretzels are not quite your thing the pretzel recipe is perfect for making plain soft pretzels (divide it into 4 more normal sized pretzels if you'd like) and the dip is delightful on its own. Crab dip is normally served hot so I'd spoon it into ramekins or a small baking dish, sprinkle it with cheese and bake at 350 for about 10 minutes before serving.


A note about the crab meat:
Some restaurants boast that the crab meat on the crab pretzel is "jumbo lump" which is lovely stuff but very expensive (too expensive to make dip with in my opinion) and some times hard to find outside of the region. I find that backfin/generic "lump" crab meat works just as well and frankly is what many restaurants use in their crabcakes and crab pretzels even if they do claim to use jumbo lump-they just hope you don't notice.




Interested in trying out some other Mid-Atlantic regional recipes?
Check out my recipe for Baltimore-style Sour Beef & Dumplings or the local variation on cheesecake, Smearcase. Or if you want something super simple, try lemon sticks, another Baltimore classic.

September 13, 2008

Korean Style Spicy Cucumber Salad




Ingredients:
3 Korean cucumbers, thinly sliced
1 bunch green onion, diced

for the dressing
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons ground Korean red pepper
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon Korean red pepper paste (gochujang)
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil


Directions:
In a small bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients together. Pour over the cucumbers and green onions. Refrigerate until cool. Serve chilled.


Yield: 6-8 servings

Quick note: Korean cucumbers are thin skinned and have minimal seeds. A good substitute would be a Kirby or English cucumber.

My thoughts:
This is a pretty firey cucumber salad. The contrast between the hot chile sauce and cool cucumbers is refreshing. It would be great served with a Korean meal, but I also enjoy it as a side dish for other meals, like steak or grilled chicken.

September 12, 2008

Sesame & Ginger Panko Shrimp




Ingredients:
1 lb raw shrimp, peeled, tails intact
1 cup panko
1/2 cup flour
1 egg
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon ground ginger
salt
black pepper

canola oil

Directions:
Whisk together the salt, pepper, sesame seeds, ginger and flour. Pour into a shallow bowl and set aside. Pour the panko in a second shallow bowl. Beat an egg in a third bowl. Heat about 1 1/2 inches of oil in a large saucepan or skillet, enough to cover the shrimp. Dredge the shrimp in egg, then dip into the flour mixture, then th panko Make sure all sides are coated. Drop in a single layer into the hot oil and cook about 3 minutes or until crisp and cooked through. They should float to the surface when they are cooked through. Drain on paper towel lined plates. Serve hot.

My thoughts:
These are super quick but very satisfying addition to my hors d' oeuvres repertoire. Ginger and sesame is a classic flavor combination that doesn't overpower the shrimp at all and the panko gives them a great crunch.

September 10, 2008

Pork, Sticky Rice and Shiitake Mushrooms Wrapped in Banana Leaf



Ingredients:
1 cup sticky rice
1 lb ground pork
3 oz fresh shiitake mushrooms, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons kecap manis
1 tablespoon kalamansi infused soy sauce*
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 shallot, minced
white pepper

10 6 x 10 inch squares of banana leaf
10 1/2 inch x 10 inch strips of banana leaf

cuttingleaf


Directions:
Prepare rice according to package instructions. In a large pan, saute the shallot in both of the oils until soft. Add the mushrooms and pork, saute until almost cooked through. Make sure you break up any large chunks with your spoon. Add the sauces and pepper. Continue to saute until the pork is cooked through.

groundporkmushrooms

Allow to cool slightly, then stir in the rice. Pour into a 8x8 inch pan and use a spatula to press the mixture down firmly.

meatandrice

Allow to cool then invert on to a platter and cut into 9 equal squares.

squares

Place one square in the middle of a leaf and fold the smaller ends inward and then the longer pieces towards the center as if you were wrapping a present. Secure with banana leaf strip if needed. Repeat for remaining squares. If you make no mistakes, you should have one leaf and one strip leftover. Discard the leftover leaf and strip. Place the packets in a bamboo steamer.

wrappedrice

You can stack them if you run out of room, they will not stick. Steam over boiling water in a wok for about 45 minutes. Make sure the water does not boil away, add extra during the cooking time if the need arises. Remove, unwrap and eat.

cookedleafrice




My thoughts:
This is sort of a cross between my favorite thing to get at a dim sum restaurant- sticky rice surrounding Chinese sausage wrapped in a lotus leaf and suman, a Filipino treat that comes in a variety of both sweet and savory fillings. I have a huge amount of ground pork in my freezer (as a result of a unadvertised 99 cents a pound special I came across at the grocery, a 20 lb bag of sticky rice and some frozen banana leaves so it seemed pretty clear what I had to make. Rather than stuff the rice which is a some what tedious process when you are using ground meat, I merely mixed it in. This gave it a hardier and meatier flavor that then filled packets I've had in the made and make them extra filling. While steaming them for 40 minutes seems like a lot of extra work, it really infused the rice and meat with a wonderful, delicate flavor that was worth the effort.


Notes about ingredients:
Kecap Manis is a thick, palm sugar sweetened soy sauce available at many Asian groceries and well stocked supermarkets. If you had to, substitute dark soy sauce with a pinch of sugar stirred in.

Banana leaves are frequently found Asian, Caribbean or African groceries or well stocked supermarkets. Occasionally I have seen them for sale fresh but more often they are sold frozen. If using frozen, defrost overnight in the refrigerator before using.

I found kalamansi flavored soy sauce (toyomansi)at my local Asian grocer, but you could mix light soy sauce with fresh or bottled kalamansi (calamansi) juice or lime juice for a similar effect.


September 08, 2008

Mango & Coconut Lumpia



8 lumpia wrappers
1 mango, sliced into strips
1 cup macapuno*
canola oil
sesame seeds (optional)


Directions:
Heat about 3 inches of oil in a deep pan. Meanwhile, dampen the outer edges of the wrapper with water.

mango & coconut lumpia

Place 2 slices of mango and about 1/4 cup of macapuno towards the bottom of the wrapper (optional: sprinkle with sesame seeds.

mango & coconut lumpia

Then roll them egg roll style-bottom towards the middle, then fold in each side, then fold the top triangle down to cover.

mango & coconut lumpia

Place the wrapped lumpia on bottom half of a second wrapper and repeat.

lumpia6


Set aside. Repeat until all of the wrappers are filled. Fry until crisp and golden brown. I used my Fissler pressure skillet which in addition to being a pressure cooker is the best pan I've ever fried in.

mango & coconut lumpia


Drain on a paper towel lined plate then serve.

lumpia4

Yield: 4 lumpia



*Most often found jarred, it is a type of coconut that is grown in the Philippines. I've seen it labeled as "string coconut". It normally comes in a sort of thick syrup/jelly.


My thoughts:
I've mostly had savory lumpia but I have had some sweet banana a mango lumpia in the past (I've also heard the sweet ones referred to as turon)that was pretty good. While I love mango, I am not a big banana eater so I never made them but I kept the idea in the back of my mind. Recently I came across a jar of macapuno and I knew what I had to make: mango and coconut lumpia. They are so tasty and positively oozing delicious Keitt mango and coconut juices. They were also surprisingly quick to make, we spent only about 15 minutes on them from start to finish. Another great thing about making dessert lumpia is that while you want the filling to be hot, there is nothing in them (like egg or meat) that you wouldn't want to eat raw so you really can take them out of the oil

Note:
I like to wrap my lumpia in two wrappers because they are less likely to fall apart and I think it makes them a little crunchier. The two layers sort of meld together when cooking so it isn't noticeable.


Keitt mango

September 07, 2008

Pork Summer Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce



Ingredients:

1 lb thick cut pork chops
2 tablespoons canola oil
6 rice paper wrappers*
1/2 pound rice stick noodles
1 cucumber, in thin strips
2 carrots, in long strips
1 head red or green leaf lettuce
fresh mint

pork marinade:

2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons rice wine
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon black sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, sliced


dipping sauce:

1 quarter cup roasted peanuts, ground
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon grated garlic



Directions:
First, mix marinade ingredients in a small bowl and marinate pork in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Heat the oil in a skillet Add pork and cook until pork is cooked and sauce has thickened, covering if needed. Cut into thin strips. Then, boil rice stick noodles for 5 minutes and blanch in cold water. Cut noodles into bite-sized pieces.

Whisk together all ingredients for the dipping sauce, set aside.

Fill a wide bowl or pot with warm water. Each rice paper wrapper must be soaked individually. For each roll, soak a wrapper until pliable and soft. Remove the wrapper and spread out on a clean surface. Add a small portion of the noodles towards the middle of the wrapper. Add a portion of the lettuce, a portion of the meat, and mint. Fold the rice paper from both sides in towards the middle, then lift the end closest to you and roll away from you, grabbing all of the filling, and roll until the spring roll is closed. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Serve at room temperature.

*Sometimes labeled spring roll wrappers. Not to be confused with refrigerated egg roll wrappers, they are round, brittle, translucent and sold directly off the shelf.



Yield: 6 rolls
My thoughts:
Summer rolls (gỏi cuốn) are salads convinently served in roll form. They are a bit of work but it is worth it, they are quite filling and we often have them as a meal unto themselves. They can also keep for a few hours in the refrigerator if you cover them with a damp towel so they can be made ahead. For this version I kept the filling simple and made a yummy dipping sauce which takes them to the next level of deliciousness and cut down on the prep time.

September 05, 2008

Chilled Borscht


Ingredients:
6 small to medium sized beets, peeled
1/2 large onion, chopped
2 cups water
2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoons salt
1/2 tablespoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 egg
juice of 1 lemon

to serve:
sour cream
chopped cucumber

Directions:
In a large pot, bring the beets, onions, salt, celery seed, pepper, broth and water to a boil. Boil for 1 hour. Add the sugar and lemon juice and simmer for 1/2 hour. Remove the beets and grate half. Reserve the other half for another use. Pour the liquid into a large measuring cup. Beat the egg until very fluffy in a large bowl. Add about 1/4 cup of the liquid and beat, continue adding the soup in a slow stream to the egg, whisking continuously. Stir in the grated beets. Chill at least 4 hours or overnight. Ladle into bowls and top with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of cucumber.


Yield: 2 meal-sized servings



My thoughts:
Labor Day may have come and gone but here in Baltimore it stays pretty hot and humid until about October which leaves me a few more weeks to experiment with hot weather food before turning to roasts. Chilled soups normally leave me cold but I really enjoyed this one. It had the perfect texture, not too chunky but not totally smooth either, the sour cream added a creamy note and the cucumber the right amount of crunch. I am glad I added some celery seed to the mix, it added just a hint of bright, fresh flavor and gave the soup a great depth. Perfectly refreshing on a hot day-the best borscht I've ever had.

September 03, 2008

Island Pineapple Pulled Pork



Ingredients
3 lb boneless pork shoulder roast (trim off any excess fat)
4 cloves garlic
1 onion, roughly chopped
2/3 cup chopped pineapple
1/4 cup chili sauce
1/4 cup coconut vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce with kalamansi
1/4 cup pineapple juice
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
2 jalapeno peppers, seeds removed and chopped
juice and zest of one lime
1 tablespoon canola oil


spice rub:
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons lemon zest


Directions:

Mix the spice rub ingredients together. Rub them on the pork. In a large skillet heat the oil and then brown the roast well on all sides. Place roast in slow cooker. Add all remaining ingredients to slow cooker. Cook on high in the slow cooker 6-7 hours*. When done, meat should shred easily with a fork. Remove roast from slow cooker. Shred with a fork (or use your fingers) and set aside. Mash any solid bits left in the sauce with a potato masher. Return the pork and the sauce to slow cooker, and toss to evenly coat. Serve on rolls.


*Or on low for 8-9 hours.

My thoughts:
We have been seriously into Filipino food lately so I made this pulled pork (another one of our obsessions) with some of the flavors we have been enjoying. And the results? Swoon-worthy. Juicy, fruity (but not sweet!) and succulent; the meat just melts in your mouth. Perfect on a Hawaiian roll or just on the plate.


Notes about ingredients:
Coconut vinegar is available at Asian grocery stores.

I found kalamansi flavored soy sauce (toyomansi)at my local Asian grocery store, but you could mix light soy sauce with fresh or bottled calamansi (kalamansi) juice or lime juice for a similar effect.

September 01, 2008

Creamy Dill-Caper Dip




Ingredients:
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup (loose) fresh dill, chopped
4 oz cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoons capers
1 bunch scallions, white and greens chopped
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt
pepper

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir until combined. Alternately, place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse a few times for a smoother texture. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

My thoughts:
What is a cookout or Summer party without some sort of dip? This dip uses in-season dill to its advantage. Low fat/high calcium yogurt replaces sour cream for a dip that is creamy yet not totally naughty. I even used reduced fat cream cheese and (as always) canola mayonnaise to reduce the fat/calorie content even more and no one noticed. It isn't totally fat free or exactly health food but it is super tasty and better for you than some of the other sour cream and cheese heavy dips out there.

Excellent on: salmon, tomato slices, cucumbers, baked potatoes, tortilla chips, celery or instead of tartar sauce.

Perfect for: parties, lunch, snacks, eating directly from the bowl.