August 30, 2007

Miso Eggplant

4 Japanse eggplants, sliced lengthwise
4 tablespoons shiro miso
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 inch knob fresh ginger, finely grated

In a small bowl, whisk together the miso, vinegar, sugar, ginger and water until the sugar is dissolved. Brush the cut sides of the eggplant with oil and broil, face up for about 5 minutes or until they begin to turn golden and soften. Brush with the miso glaze and broil 2 additional minutes then brush again and broil 3 minutes until the eggplant is totally tender and golden brown.
My thoughts:
This is perhaps, not the most photogentic of foods, but it is tasty and easy to make on a weekday evening.

August 29, 2007

Carmelized Pears

4 pears, cored* and halved lengthwise

Sprinkle about a 1/4- 1/3 cup of sugar on a plate. Heat a large skillet. Press cut side of each halved pear in sugar. Place each pear half on the skillet, sugar side down, cook until beginning to brown, 7 to 8 minutes over medium-low hear. Add 1/2 cup water. Cover and simmer until the pears are tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Add more water if the sugar begins to burn. Remove pears to a plate. Simmer the remaining liquid until thickened. Serve over pears.

* A little trick: use a round tablespoon sized measuring spoon to scoop out the core.

My thoughts:
I hesitated posting such a autumnal recipe, but with September quickly approaching, it didn't seem too out of season. I like this recipe because it is easy but looks impressive and is self saucing. You can even make the pears ahead of time-just pour the sauce in a separate jar and drizzle it on the cooked pears before serving-it tastes just as good at room temperature as hot.

August 28, 2007

Six Flavor Summer Somen Salad with Cucumber and Green Onion

150 gram package somen noodles
4 scallions, chopped
1 cucumber* sliced
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sake
1 tablespoon miso (your choice)
2 inch knob fresh ginger, finely grated
sesame seeds to taste

Cook somen in boiling water for about 2 minutes. Drain and rise in cold water. Place in a bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the vineger, ginger, oil, miso, sake, soy sauce and sesame seeds. Toss with noodles. Top with green onions and cucumber. Serve.

Yield: about 4 servings

*Try and use a variety of long Asian variety or sub an English cuke if necessary.

My thoughts:
This is one of of those totally off the cuff-use-up-whatever-is-on-hand recipes that turned out really well. Amazingly well. I basically made it to use up some somen I found languishing in the back of the cabinet, but it has become of my husband's new favorite recipes. If you don't have somen, you could use the thicker, buckwheat soba noodles would work as well, but I like the finer texture of thin wheat noodles. I've generally only had somen served cold with a flavored broth or dressing, toppings and the noodles all in separate bowls or it hot in soup or my favorite incarnation, nagashi somen. It is so hot out, a quick noodle salad sounded like a less daunting, but no less tasty option. I served with with a simple miso glazed eggplant and added a bit of miso to the dressing to help tie the flavors together. The combination of the miso and the sake added a sort of salty/vaguely sweet touch that I enjoyed. The salad keeps well overnight for lunches the next day.

August 27, 2007

Pear Ginger Muffins


2 pears, diced (about 2 cups, I used Scarlet pears)
1 3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sour cream (reduced fat is okay)
2 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
2 inch knob fresh ginger, grated*
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 375. Line or grease and flour 12 wells in a standard muffin tin. In a large bowl, mix together sour cream, sugar, eggs and melted butter. Stir in ginger. In a separate bowl, whisk together the spices, baking powder and flour. Add to the wet ingredients and mix thoroughly. Fold in pears. Distribute evenly between the wells. Bake 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the center muffin comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

*I like to grate it right over the bowl when I go to add it, so I don't lose any of the juices or bits of ginger.

My thoughts:
We recently bought a huge amount of pears for anther project and I noticed that two were getting near over-ripe so I thought, why not make muffins? I am not sure if I have even eaten a pear muffin before, but it was the perfect choice-light, fluffy and full of pure ginger and pear flavor.

August 25, 2007

Red Bean Steamed Buns

2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup warm water PLUS 2 tablespoons
4 tablespoons sugar
1/4 oz active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt

red bean paste

12 4-5 inch wide wax paper or parchment paper squares

For the dough:
In a small bowl, dissolve 2 tablespoons of the sugar in the water. Sprinkle in the yeast and allow to sit 10 minutes. Mix in the remaining sugar, 2 cups of flour and the salt. Mix until the dough is no longer sticky, adding additional flour as needed. Place dough on a floured service and knead until smooth, about 8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, cover and allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Punch the dough down, roll it into a cylinder. Cut it into 12 equal pieces. Roll each into a ball. Then roll each ball into a circle about 4-6 inches in diameter. Place 1 tablespoon (or slightly more) of filling into the center of the circle. Pull the edges of the circle up over the filling, pinch in the center to seal. Place the buns seam side down on parchment paper lined cookie sheet and repeat for each circle, leave a 2 inch space between each bun. Cover and let rise until puffy and light. Bring water to boil in wok or saucepan. Place buns (still on waxed paper squares) in a bamboo steamer. Place over boiling water (using a wok works well) and steam about 15 minutes or until glossy and smooth.

Serve immediately.

Refrigerate or freeze any leftovers. Leftovers can be reheated in the microwave (for about 2 minutes) with great success.

My thoughts:
I made these yummy red bean buns for the Baltimore area food blogger party I'm hosting tonight. Normally I'd steam them when it was time to serve them, but this time, I made them ahead of time (no last minute cleaning!) and plan to just reheat them at the event. They're actually not bad at room temperature either.

August 24, 2007

Sweet Red Bean Paste

1 cup dried red beans*
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons oil

Place the beans in a large pot. Cover with water and boil until soft (warning: this can take about 2 hours, depending on your beans) adding additional water if needed. Drain. Mash the beans with the sugar. Heat the oil in a pan, add the beans and cook until all of the moisture has cooked out. Store in an air tight container.

Yield: about 1 1/2 cup red bean paste

*aka azuki beans, not kidney beans. They are small and rather plump.

My thoughts:
I love read bean flavored things, red bean ice cream, red bean candies and most of all red bean steamed buns. You can buy it already made in a can, but if you can find dry red beans at an Asian market is isn't difficult to make you own paste. The beans are so soft, they don't have to soaked overnight, although you can-just cut down on the boiling time. Red bean paste can be used in a variety of Korean, Japanese and Chinese recipes, sometimes with minor variations to taste. Some common uses are to fill steamed buns, in red bean pancakes, sesame balls, steamed cakes, soup, yummy mochi, mooncakes, glutenous rice balls and ice cream. And if you are a hard core red bean fan with a love of kitch (like I am) be sure to check out Anpanman, a superhero who is also a sweet bean paste filled bun (anpan).

August 23, 2007

Roasted Eggplant & Tomato Pasta

1 1/2 pounds eggplant, striped* and cut into 3/4 inch wedges
1 large onion, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
1 pepperoncini pepper, sliced, seeds & stem discarded
3 cups cherry or grape tomatoes
6 anchovy fillets
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
feta cheese

1 lb cooked short pasta

*Cut the skin off in alternating rows, to help keep the eggplant from turning into mush. Example:
Preheat oven to 450 . In a bowl, toss together the olive oil, salt, garlic pepper,anchovies, pepperoncini, cherry tomatoes and eggplant. Place on a baking sheet and roast for about 30 minutes or until tender. Stir the roasted vegetables in their juices into the hot, cooked pasta. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with feta. Serve immediately.

My thoughts:
We've had quite a cherry tomato and eggplant harvest this summer. I was running out of ideas of what to do with them when we got a sudden chilly, rainy spell hit and I got the idea to do a roasted vegetable sauce. I was particularly overwhelmed that night so I gave my husband the recipe and he made it. It came out perfectly and required virtually no hands on time beyond chopping the veggies.

August 22, 2007

Balsamic Onion Jam

4 onions, cut into 1/4 inch thick half rounds
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
pinch salt

In a large saute pan with a lid, heat the oil. Add the onions, cover and cook on low, stirring occasionally, until translucent but not browned. Sprinkle with sugar, cover and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes or onions are golden and soft. Add half of the water, sprinkle with salt, cover and continue to cook on low, stirring occasionally for another 20 minutes or until the onions are a rich, dark brown. Add the remaining water and the vinegar, cook 10=15 additional minutes, uncovered, or until the water and vinegar has been absorbed. Serve as is, or store in a air tight jar and refrigerate up to 1 week.

My thoughts:
It has suddenly gotten freakishly damp and chilly here in Baltimore. Not quite cold enough for major baking, but cool enough that you don't mind spending some time over the stove. It's a little time consuming-don't be tempted to skip any steps or hurry it along-but you are left with a great sandwich spread, soft cheese topper or even the filling for a simple tart.

August 21, 2007

Goji Berry Brownies

1 1/2 cup flour
1 cup applesauce
1 cup light brown sugar
2/3 cup cocoa
1/3 cup goji berries, soaked in 3 tablespoons of water
1/4 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
pink sea salt

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour or spray an 8x8 inch baking dish. In a large bowl, beat together applesauce, oil, sugar and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking soda, baking powder and cocoa. Beat until well mixed then fold in the goji berries (with any residual water). Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of pan comes out clean or with only a small, dry crumb attached.

My thoughts:
You all know how much I love the Vosges goji berry bar-I've already made an ice cream version- and I've been thinking about what else I could make this this flavor. The easiest, most logical choice was brownies. These brownies are particularly good, chocolatey but not so much that it over powders the subtle flavor of a goji berry and the salt provides just the right balance.

August 19, 2007

Chocolate Malted Cupcakes

2 eggs, at room temperature
1 ⅔ cup flour
2/3 cup malted milk powder*
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup dutch process cocoa
4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 375. Line or grease and flour 12 wells in a cupcake pan. Whisk together the flour, malted milk powder, both sugars, cocoa and baking powder. Stir in the milk, eggs, butter, and vanilla. Beat until smooth and fluffy. Divide evenly among cupcake wells and bake 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the center cupcake comes out clean. Cool briefly than remove to a wire rack to cool completely before icing.

Good with chocolate malt frosting.

*Make sure you use actual malted milk powder and not malt flavored drink mix. Most stores carry it near breakfast beverages.

My thoughts:
Today is my 28th birthday and to celebrate, my husband made me these cupcakes. It's a good set up, I create the recipe, and he bakes. I've been toying with the idea of making a chocolate malted cupcake for a while now, I love malted milkshakes and recently discovered some lovely dark chocolate malt balls at Harry & David that reawakened my malt interest. These cupcakes are so good, you should stop what you are doing right now and make them. It is like the best malted milk ball in cupcake form. I will say that because they are made with malted milk powder they are on the dense side, so please don't be disappointed if they don't have that super fluffy texture of say, a cake mix cake.

Chocolate Malt Frosting

1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup dutch process cocoa
1/4 cup malted milk powder*
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons milk

In a large bowl, whisk together the milk and the malted milk powder. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until smooth.
**Make sure you use actual malted milk powder and not malt flavored drink mix. Most stores carry it near breakfast beverages.

Frosts: 12-18 cupcakes or one cake
Good with Chocolate Malted Cupcakes

My thoughts:
Why did it take so long for me to make chocolate malt icing? I've been missing out.

August 16, 2007

Chinese Chives with Shrimp, Pork & Rice Noodles

1/2 lb medium sized flat rice noodles, broken in half lengthwise (if long)

1 lb Chinese chives, cut into 2 1/2 inch pieces*
3/4 lb medium to large raw shrimp, peeled and cut in half
1/2 lb ground pork
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons canola oil
pinch salt
pinch palm sugar
juice of 1 lime

for sauce:
1/2 teaspoon palm sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 1/2 tablespoons water

In a large bowl, soak the noodles in warm tap water for about 15 minutes or until just pliable. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large pan or wok with high sides. Add the garlic and cook until just fragrant. Add the shrimp and pork and stir, breaking up any chunks of pork with your spoon, and sprinkle on the salt and sugar. Cook until they are about cooked through, only about 3 minutes or so. Add the chives. Toss the ingredients together and stir. Cook for about 3-5 minutes or until the chives have wilted. Add the noodles. Stir, than cover for about 1 minute. Stir in the sauce and cook about 3-5 additional minutes or until the flavors have combined and the noodles are soft. Serve immediately.

Yield: about 2 servings if a main course, about 4 if a side dish.
*Sometimes the bottom inch or two of the chive is rather tough. If this is the case, just chop it off.

My thoughts:
This is a perfect dish for summer, quick, light and fresh. The trick is treating the chives like a vegetable and not just a garnish or accent. Chinese chives (also known as garlic chives) look like your basic chive but have a little white bulb or even white flowers blossoming at one end. They have more a garlic flavor than oniony and when you cook them as this recipe states, the flavor goes out of them and into the pork and shrimp and the chives themselves take on this lovely fresh green flavor. Most Asian markets sell Chinese chives in 1/2 lb or 1 lb bundles, look for ones that bright green and crisp looking.

August 15, 2007

Mango Mania

I recently wrote a short guide to mangos for Culinate and it is up today if you are interested in reading more about my favorite fruit. You can also check out the two original recipes I created to accompany it: Mango Frozen Yogurt and one of my new favorite things to make, Mango and Chicken Summer Rolls with Soy-Mango Dipping Sauce.

August 12, 2007

Prickly Pear Sorbet

4 prickly pears, prickles removed
3 tablespoons simple syrup
1 tablespoon tequila
1 tablespoon key lime juice

Cut each prickly pear in half length-wise, scoop out the insides. Discard the skin. Place the pulp in a blender and pulse until smooth. Pour through a sieve to remove the seeds then return to the blender. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse for 10 seconds. Pour into an electric ice cream maker and churn about 25 minutes or until frozen. Serve immediately or freeze in a freezer safe container.

Yield: about 2 modest servings

My thoughts:
I had never had prickly pear before but I don't know why not, they taste sort of like a tart watermelon and are a vibrant magenta. I wasn't sure what to make, but in this heat only making something cool makes sense. The resulting sorbet is really creamy, slightly tart and a breeze to make. The only tricky thing about prickly pears are the seeds, they are really had and spread throughout the flesh, so pureeing and then straining is really the only way to go but luckily the seeds are so hard, they don't crack or chip even when in contact with a powerful blender blade so the task isn't too arduous.

August 11, 2007

Buttered Rum Caramel Sauce

1 cup heavy cream
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon rum

In a tall-sided pan, heat the sugar, corn syrup and cream. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the butter, stirring occasionally. After the butter melts, allow it to come to a boil then reduce heat slightly and cook until the mixture reaches 250. Do not stir during this time. When it reaches 250, remove from heat and stir in the rum. Pour into a glass jar. Use immediately or refrigerate and reheat before use.

My thoughts:
I had some cream leftover from making Jell-O 1-2-3 and decided to make caramel sauce. It is pretty good on ice cream or used anywhere you would use dulce de leche.

August 08, 2007

Mango Avocado Burger

1 1/2 lb ground beef*
2 tablespoons mango juice or nectar
2 tablespoons Montreal seasoning**
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 shallot, minced
1 small onion minced

to serve:
split crusty rolls
sliced mango
sliced avocado

*I use 94% lean
**a blend of coarse salt, pepper, granulated garlic, red pepper flakes and paprika

Prepare your grill as usual-if you are using charcoal, we like to add some wood chips for added smoky flavor. Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix together all of the burger ingredients by hand. Do not over work the meat. Gently form into 6 patties. Grill to your desired doneness. Place on the bottom half of the roll, top with alternating slices of mango and avocado. Top with the roll and serve.
My thoughts:
I have to say, avocado and mango slices are my favorite toppings for burgers. The avocado's creamy mildness offsets the sweet mango and both play off the smoky burger flavor. Matt likes his with a little mango ketchup, but I'm a purist.

August 06, 2007

How to Poach Chicken

First, remove the chicken from your neighbor's coop under the cover of darkness. Kill, pluck and chop into pieces.

Then, add the following things to a large pot of water: 1 onion in quarters, a bay leaf, about 2 tablespoons salt, pepper, 1 bunch thyme, 1 bunch parsley. Bring to a boil.

Add the cut up chicken (or just bone-in chicken breasts, that's good too), reduce heat and allow to simmer (not boil!) for about 30 minutes loosely covered or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken from the broth and debone. The leftover, strained broth can be used as chicken stock.

My thoughts:
Poaching is a great way to cook chicken to use recipes that call for shredded chicken or in cold salads. The chicken will be very moist and flavorful. Sometimes if I buy a large pack of chicken, I just go ahead and poach it. It is a great way to "cook once, eat twice", you will have cooked chicken on hand for quick meals throughout the week.

August 05, 2007

Virtuous Blueberry Muffins

1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350. Line or grease and flour `1 12-well muffin tin. In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, flaxseed meal, egg, vanilla, salt, oil, and the baking soda and powder until a fairly smooth batter forms. Fold in the blueberries. Divide evenly among 12 wells in a muffin tin. Bake 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the center muffin comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

My thoughts:
These muffins are so tasty and good for you, even if you spend the day knocking down old ladies and robbing babies of their candy, you will feel like a good person because you had a healthy breakfast.

August 03, 2007

Spicy Honey Mustard Basting Sauce

3-4 tablespoons mesquite honey
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 2 inch knob fresh ginger, grated

In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients. Brush on to both sides of raw meat*, grill as desired.

* We used it on a 1 1/2 lb flank steak, but I think it would be good on chicken or pork as well.
My thoughts:
I apologize for the picture, sauces and strips of meat are not the most photogenic of subjects but I just had to share this basting sauce. I am not a fan of sweet main dishes at all but I had heard about basting steak with honey and it sounded kind of good so I had to try it. Adding the mustard and ginger tempers the sweetness of the honey and adds a spicy, caramelized flavor to the meat while sealing in the juices .

August 01, 2007

Hot or Cold Potato Salad with Green and Wax Beans

2 lb thin skinned potatoes, diced
3/4 lb mixed green and wax beans
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon capers
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add potatoes. Cook until almost tender, then add the beans. Cook for about 2 additional minutes, drain. Meanwhile, whisk together the vinegar, oil, salt, capers, pepper, shallot, garlic and mustard. Toss with the hot potatoes, beans and parsley or wait until the potatoes and beans cool, then toss.

Yield: about 4-6 servings

My thoughts:
I made this on a whim to use up some farmers market buys and it is so good! I had some both hot and cold and I can't decide what I like better. It is sort of pickley-tart which I much prefer to some the almost sweet ways people make potato salad. I bet it would be good made with roasted potatoes instead of the boiled, but it's too hot to test that idea out.