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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Coconut milk beef stew

 Delicious Indonesian beef stew, beef rendang, adopted for western ingredients. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words; in this case one whiff is worth a thousand pictures: your house will smell amazing all day!
Source: Adapted from Singapore Shiok and No Recipes

Taste: 5 (out of 5)
Difficulty: 3 (out of 5)

- 1.5 lb sirloin steak, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp ginger powder
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 shallots
- 1/2 tsp ground chili pepper
- 1 stalk of lemongrass
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp chili sauce
Total: 4 servings

1. Discard the outer leaves of the lemon grass, keep only the white part. Finely chop the lemongrass, the garlic and the shallots. Place in the food processor. Add the salt, coriander, turmeric, ginger, chili pepper and process until you have a smooth paste. You might need to scrub the sides a few times.
2. Preheat a frying pan on medium heat and saute the paste until fragrant (about 5 minutes), stirring frequently. Remove the paste in a bowl, do not wash the frying pan.
3. Add oil to the frying pan and in batches, not to overcrowd the pan, fry the meat until browned on all sides (about 3-4 mintues on each side). Remove the ready batches and keep in the same bowl with the paste.
4. Return the paste and the meat to the frying pan and add the coconut milk. Stir well, and let cook on medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, until simmers. Add sugar, lemon juice and chili paste, stir, reduce the heat to low, cover with the lead and let cook for 2 hours, stirring every 20 minutes or so.
5. By the time the beef is ready the liquid will have almost completely evaporated. Serve with rice.

- I love beef rendang, and this was probably the best one I've had. The beef was super tender and the sauce was amazing. And the house smells delicious for the rest of the day.
- The original recipes required some exotic vegetables that I could not find, like kaffir lime leaves and galangal, so I had to find substitutes. Also, I like my beef rendang very mild, so I significantly reduced the chili component, and increased the coconut milk. Also, I used a different cut of meat and smaller cubes, so I decreased cooking time.

- It is really challenging to grind lemongrass into a paste, because it's extremely fibrous. You might need to add water to your food processor, but even that might not necessarily help. The last time I made this stew I first chopped the lemongrass, then ground it in a meat / food grinder, then added water and processed in a blender. It was a very lengthy process but this was the first time I did not have lemongrass fibers in my food. I think next time I will prepare a large batch of lemongrass, and then make lemongrass paste cubes and freeze them for future use, similarly to roasted garlic cubes.

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Magic 3 layer 1 batter cake

3 delectable layers from 1 simple batter - it's a kind of magic...
Source: Old Time Cooking Recipes

Taste: 5 (out of 5)
Difficulty: 1 (out of 5)

- 4 eggs, separated, at room temperature (280 cal)
- 1/4 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp water
- 3/4 cup / 150 g sugar (580 cal)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract (20 cal)
- 1 stick / 125 g butter, melted (900 cal)
- 1 cup / 115 g white cake flour (420 cal)
- 2 cups / 500 ml milk, lukewarm (320 cal)
Total: 2520 cal, 12 servings, 210 cal/serving

1. Whisk egg whites. When the peaks start forming add the vinegar, to stabilize the whites, and continue whisking until stiff.
2. In another bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar, water and vanilla until light. Add melted butter and continue beating for another minute. Then sift in the flour and mix.
3. Add the milk (it has to be lukewarm, otherwise the butter will harden) and beat until well incorporated.
4. Add about 1/4 of the egg white mixture and whisk to lighten the batter. Then gently fold in the rest of the egg whites using a spatula.
5. Grease and dust with flour a 8x8 inch square pan or a 9 inch round pan. Do not use spring form because batter is too liquid and the pan could leak.
6. Pour the batter into the pan and bake in preheated 325F oven for about 60-80 minutes or until the top is golden.
7. Cool in the pan for at least 3 hours. Serve sprinkled with powdered sugar.

- Yummmm - what more can I say! My favorite layer is custard :-)
- In my case the top was refusing to brown evenly and then eventually it cracked a bit, but it still tasted amazing!
- You can also make this into cupcakes. If using standard sized muffin tins, this makes 12 cupcakes. Line the tins and fill to the rim and bake for 30-35 minutes. The same magical taste only in individual servings :-)

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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Flourless Rocky Road Cookies

Gooey, yummy and super quick flourless cookies. 
Source: Adapted from Ooey Gooey Rocky Road Cookies of Fifteen Spatulas

Taste: 4 (out of 5)
Difficulty: 1 (out of 5)

- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- pinch of salt (1/8 tsp)
- 2 egg whites
- 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chunks
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds or walnuts, toasted
- 1/2 cup mini marshmallows
Total: 12 giant cookies

- Preheat the oven to 350F, and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, the salt and the cocoa powder. Add the egg whites and vanilla and whisk until combined. Stir in the chocolate chunks and the almonds.
- Use a 2 tbsp cookie scoop to portions out small balls of dough onto the parchment paper, spacing them at least 3 inches apart, because the cookies will spread. Then top each cookie with 4-5 marshmallows. Pop into the freezer for 5 minutes to chill slightly to minimize the spreading.
- Bake for 12-13 minutes until the marshmallows are golden brown. Let the cookies cool down on the baking sheet. Best served the same day.

- These cookies are ooey gooey, brownie-like with great Rocky road texture. And the marshmallows on top are melted, roasted, yummy and delicious! The only thing I would change next time is reducing the sugar, quite a lot, maybe I would use 1/2 of the sugar, or at most 2/3. But I don't know what that would do to the texture: after all there is no flour in these cookies, so maybe the sugar is holding them together :-).

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Monday, March 4, 2013

Yogurt Panna Cotta

A healthier version of a classic Italian dessert
Source: Adapted from An Italian Cooking in the Midwest

Taste: 3 (out of 5)
Difficulty: 1 (out of 5)

- 1 cup non-fat yogurt
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tbsp gelatin
- 3 tbsp cold water
- 4 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp lingonberry syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Total: 4-6 servings (depending on serving size)

1. Soak the gelatin in cold water for about 5-10 minutes until it blooms.
2. In the mean time warm the milk until it starts to boil. Add the sugar, the lingonberry extract and the vanilla and mix. Add the gelatin and mix until dissolved.
3. Remove the milk from the heat and add the yogurt. Mix well.
4. Using a strainer to leave out gelatin lumps, pour the mixture into serving bowls and refrigerate for several hours until set.
5. Decorate with your favorite fruit or sauce and serve cold.

- I have to admit that I have deviated from the original recipe, it called for Greek yogurt, and I used a non-fat one, so my "panna cotta" lacked any creaminess and was more similar to yogurt jello. Another addition to the recipe that I made, using the lingonberry syrup, was probably another mistake, because as soon as I added it to the hot milk, it started separating. I love lingonberry syrup in milkshakes, it adds a really nice sweet and tangy flavor, but I did not account for the milk temperature in this case. So my panna cotta also did not look very pretty. Fortunately, the fruit topic hid the most of my wrong doings :-). And overall, after a heavy dinner, this panna cotta turned out to be a nice tangy dessert.
- This post was my SRC assignment. Just in case you don't know yet, SRC, or the Secret Recipe Club is a group of over a hundred food bloggers, who are assigned a "secret" blog each months. Then they choose a recipe from that blog, make it and post it on their own blog on a given reveal day. Then there is a big party, where you hop from one blog to another and check what everyone's been cooking. Lots of fun! And terrible for your diet ;-) I want to thank Amanda, Jane and April for making it all possible!
- Pola, the author of Italian in the Midwest, as the name of her blog suggests, has a lot of yummy Italian recipes on her blog, some classic and some with very original twists, for example her eggplant pesto. I will be back for that recipe.

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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Coconut Buns

Delicious fluffy and soft buns that will remind you of Hawaiian bread 
Source: Adapted from Pani Popo form Roxana's Home Baking

Taste: 5 (out of 5)
Difficulty: 2 (out of 5)

- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast (can use instant yeast)
- 2 tbsp lukewarm water
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp grapeseed oil (can use canola or coconut oil too)
- 1 can / 400 ml coconut milk (you might not need to use all of it)
- 1/3 cup sugar
Total: 8 buns

1. Fill a small bowl with 2 tbsp lukewarm water and let rest for 5 minutes until bubbles appear and the yeast starts dissolving.
2. Combine the sugar with the coconut milk and stir until incorporated.
3. Sift the flour and the salt into a bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook, pour in the water with the yeast and start mixing, slowly adding coconut milk until the dough comes clean from the sides of the bowl. I used slightly less than 1/2 can, about 190 ml.
4. Transfer the dough into a greased bowl, cover with wet towel or wet paper towel and let rest at room temperature until doubles in size. In my case in a warm kitchen it took about 1 hour.
5. Divide the dough into 8 balls and place in a greased 9x13'' baking pan. Cover again with and let rest until double in volume (another 30-40 minutes).
6. In the meantime preheat the oven to 375F.
7. Pour the remaining coconut milk over the buns. You don't need to use all of it. I did and the buns turned a little too soggy at the bottom. Next time I will use 1/2 of the remaining coconut milk, about 100 ml or 1/4 can. You can also sprinkle raw sugar on top of the buns.
8. Bake for 40 minutes or until the buns are golden brown and the coconut milk is absorbed.
9. Server warm or cold.

- These buns are super soft and fluffy. They are really great with butter and jam for breakfast.
- I followed the original recipe and poured all the remaining coconut milk over the buns, it was more than 1/2 a can, and it took very long for the milk to evaporate. Even though the buns were quite baked after 40 minutes, I had to keep them in the oven for another 30 minutes, until the milk was almost gone. I had to cover the top with parchment (so that it does not brown too much and burn) and decrease the temperature. And then eventually the buns were slightly soggy at the bottom. They tasted great, but I do not feel very comfortable eating soggy buns, so next time I will simply use less coconut milk. And I am sure I can find creative ways to use the remaining sweetened coconut milk (as a coffee creamer? or in a milkshake?)

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