Friday, October 31

Condensed Milk Choco Chunk Cookies

I made some coconut macaroons for a friend and got some leftover condensed milk that I didn't know what to do with then I remembered MunatyCooking's condensed milk recipe that I've been wanting to try. Only problem was internet was acting up so I had to make do with what I can remember from the recipe and hope that I'd come out right. So here's my take on these gorgeously golden chunks of comfort.

Condensed Milk Choco Chunk Cookies

Makes 24-28 cookies
1 3/4 cups flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup softened butter
1/3 cup condensed milk
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup dark or semi sweet chocolate, roughly chopped

1) Preheat oven to 350F.
2) Combine flour, butter, salt, baking powder and baking soda and set aside. 
3) Cream butter, brown sugar and condensed milk until fluffy using a hand mixer.  You can also do this by hand but make sure that the butter is softened to ensure ease in mxing.
4) Add in egg and vanilla into the butter-condensed milk mixture until well combined.
5) Pour the dry ingredients and chopped chocolate slowly into the wet mixture until no trace of flour can be seen. Cover mixing bowl with cling wrap and chill for 30 minutes. At this point, if you are not ready to bake these cookies yet, you can dump the cookie dough into a sheet of cling wrap and shape it into a log before freezing it.
6) Once chilled, take 1 tablespoon of the dough and drop into a parchment-paper lined baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.

Sunday, October 19

Charsiu Pork Soba and vegetable stirfry

I discovered something. I never knew I loved grilled onion leeks. They're sweet, tangy and smoky. And being Asian, it's one of those vegetables that is always present in our fridge. And since I am always looking for ways to concoct something out of what I have on hand, I decided to make it more Asian and make Charsiu pork (Chinese pork barbecue) for protein,throw in noodles for carbs and vegetables for fiber. So this recipe happened.

I first tasted authentic Char sui pork when i visited Singapore's colorful Chinatown 2 years ago and it was divine. It was red, sweet, smoky, tender and just beyond words. 2 years later, I figured maybe I can replicate it now that I have a pantry full of Asian (among other cuisine's) spices, herbs and sauces. And so i did.

I adapted the recipe for Char siu marinade from Kirbie and then made the rest of the recipe based on what vegetables I have in the fridge. 

Char Sui Pork Soba and vegetable Stirfry

Char Sui Pork:
2 pork chops marinated (1 hour min, 24 hours max) with a mixture of:
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1/2 tsp 5-spice powder
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce

*Reserve the marinade. This will be the sauce for the noodles.

Soba stirfry:
200 grams buckwheat or egg noodles, cooked in boiling water until al dente
2-3 onion leeks, brushed with char sui marinade and grilled then chopped into 1 inch long pieces
1 clove of garlic chopped
1/2 tsp grated ginger
1/4 tsp 5-spice powder
canned button or shitake mushrooms, drained
1 small carrot, julienned
1 bell pepper, julienned
1/4 cup sliced green beans
1 cup cabbage, chopped thinly
1 cup spinach, blanched (optional)
toasted sesame seeds
chili flakes to taste
salt and pepper to taste

1) Grill marinated pork chops until done about 4 minutes per side depending on thickness.  Let sit for 10 minutes before slicing.

2) Saute garlic, chili flakes and grated ginger in about 1 tbsp of oil. Add in carrots, green beans and canned mushrooms. Cook until carrots are tender but still firm.

3) Stir in cabbage and sliced grilled onion leeks. Pour in reserved marinade. Add about 2 tbsp of water and salt and pepper to taste. Let simmer for about 2 minutes and toss in cooked noodles and blanched spinach and cook for 2 more minutes. Turn off heat and serve with sliced char sui pork. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.

Saturday, October 4

honey, oat and wheat loaf

I have always been fascinated with breads. I haven't had time to research on how yeast works yet so to me, it's all magic.  it requires (most of the time) less ingredients than say, cookies and cakes. The only downer i can think of is that it takes about a total of 3 hours from mixer to table to bake 1 batch.

I started trying yeast bread-making about a year ago but did not have any success (hint: liquid temperature and proper yeast storage).  I didn't try again. I felt like I was wasting cups of flour when i could have used it for making pastries that does yield results.  I only just got back on the bread making train when my dad requested that I make pan de sal (translation: bread of salt). And I couldn't stop. I realized that kneading bread dough is kinda therapeutic and seeing that the dough rises after crossing my fingers for an hour isa wave of satisfaction and relief.

With this recipe, i reduced everything by a 3rd of each measure only because my teeny tiny oven won't fit the 9x15 inch yield of this recipes. Plus I only have one loaf pan. I also used bread and wheat flours and low fat milk for this recipe to up the health factor of this recipe. And it IS soft. And because I used bread flour, the bread is chewy (which i love).

Honey, Oat and Wheat Bread

1 cup bread flour(all purpose flour also works)
1 cup wheat flour
1/2 cup instant/quick oats
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 teaspoons salt
2/3 cup milk
3 tbps lukewarm water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine
3 tbsp honey 

1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons honey, warmed
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons oats

In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, combine the flour, oats, yeast, and salt.

In a small bowl, or two cup (450 ml) measuring cup, warm the milk so that it’s hot enough to melt the butter, but not boiling. Add the butter, stirring until melted, then stir in the water and honey.

Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture, mixing with a dough hook until it just comes together to form a dough. Knead in the mixer, with the dough hook attachment, for 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic (if you’re making this recipe by hand, the dough will be very sticky at first; flour your hands and work surface generously and be patient). If the dough is still very wet and sticky after 5 minutes of kneading, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough is barely tacky. If the dough is too dry, add water, 1 teaspoon (5 ml) at a time, to soften it up.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and allow to rise until doubled, about 1/2 to 1 hour.

Once doubled, place the dough on a clean, dry work surface. If the dough is too sticky, lightly flour the surface before continuing. With your fingers, flatten the dough into a 9 by 12-inch rectangle. Tightly roll the dough, tucking the ends as needed, into a loaf. Place the shaped dough into a 9×5-inch loaf pan, cover with a clean dry towel, and allow to rise until doubled, about 1/2 to 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (180 C). Place an empty loaf pan on the bottom rack of the oven and bring 2 cups of water to a boil.

When the loaf is doubled again, brush the top with the warmed honey and sprinkle with the oats.

Place the bread in the oven and pour the boiling water into the empty loaf pan on the bottom rack of the oven. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until the bread is deep golden brown and the internal temperature is about 190 degrees.

Transfer to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely before serving.

Note: Recipe adapted from Bakingdom

Vanilla cake with chocolate fudge frosting

It's my grandma's 87th birthday! Yup, 87 and can still beat you at needle point poker.  Now, being someone who cannot pass up a Sunday without baking even if she just got back from attending a friend's wedding, I decided to take the easy route and just whip up some chocolate fudge frosting rather than make buttercream.

Also, I added some lemon zest to the cake for a burst of freshness.

Vanilla Butter cake

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
3/4 cup cake flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups
2 large eggs
zest from half a lemon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9-by-2-inch round cake pans; line the bottoms with parchment paper. Butter parchment, and dust with flour, tapping out excess; set aside. Into a medium bowl, sift together flours, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour; beat until combined after each addition.

Divide batter between the prepared pans, and smooth with an offset spatula. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through, until cakes are golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool 20 minutes. Invert cakes onto the rack; peel off the parchment. Reinvert cakes and let them cool completely, top sides up.

Chocolate Fudge Frosting
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2/3 cup evaporated milk
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
2 tbsp butter

Mix all ingredients with a wire whisk and cook over low heat  until thick. while stirring continuously.  This will take about 5-7 minutes. Once it arrives at the right consistency, turn off heat and add the butter. Whisk until butter is melted.

chocolate almond cookies

My 9-year old adopted sister is coming by to visit for my parents' anniversary lunch and for us to celebrate her birthday (Sept 17) and just like any kid, she loves loves chocolate so I'm making these chocolatey, nutty treats because she's the kind of kid that goes out to play outside and only comes back in to drink water and get cookies from the cookie jar so this is just perfect for when she decides she needed a shot of sugar rush.

I also use these cookies as base of an ice cream sandwich since the texture is chewy and soft but firm enough to hold the ice cream. And since it's a soft cookie, it doesn't crack when you bite into the sandwich therefore less mess.

Chocolate Almond Cookies
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1/4 cup toasted, cooled, and finely chopped almonds
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Sift the flour, cocoa, and baking soda together into a bowl. Set the dry ingredients aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar and cream together on medium-high speed until very pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl.

Add the egg on medium-low speed and beat to incorporate.

Scrape the bowl and the paddle and add the pecans, vanilla extract, and salt.

Add the dry ingredients on low speed in 3 or 4 additions and mix until just combined. Do not overmix. Remove the bowl from the mixer and scrape down all the way to the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula, to be sure everything is well mixed.

Chill the cookie dough an hour or longer before shaping.

When you are ready to shape and bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Portion the dough using a 1/3-ounce (or #100) ice cream scoop. (If you dont have a scoop, use about 2 teaspoons of dough per cookie.) You should get 30 cookies.

Place the cookies 3/4 to 1-inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets and use your fingers to press them flat, a little less than 1/4-inch thick. 
Bake until cooked through and the cookies feel set, about 7-9 minutes. Do not open the oven door while they are baking. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool at least 10 minutes before removing the cookies with a metal spatula. Cool cookies completely before filling.

Glammed-up Pesto

When pesto gets a little boring...

I love love pesto. It's easy to make. It's a healthier alternative that cream sauce (i think.) You can use it as a pizza sauce or dip bread in it.  If you need a quick dinner, just toss it with some angel hair and you're good to go. But it's something that may get a little boring through time.  Sometimes you want more out of it just so to make it a little more exciting.

I was inspired by the recipe at the back of my store-brought pesto pouch. (Guilty, but only because my blender has given up on my and I haven't got a time to buy a new one yet.)  It's got tuna, olives and garlic sauteed together and sprinkled with some chili flakes. Now that is already good but my penchant for tuna is quite unreliable. But i found 1 more thing that could kick things up a notch: coriander seeds! I know! But trust me, it's gonna be good. It brings a little sweetness and a hint of freshness to to dish.

As for me, I made this version because i realized that I still have a lot of coriander seeds in my pantry and haven't really gotten the time to figure out what to do with them so I might as well start with this recipe.

Serves 2
1/2 cup prepared pesto (store-bought or home-made)
1 tbsp olive oil (or oil from your pesto)
2 cups cooked angel hair or spaghetti
1/3 cup shredded rotisserie chicken (you can also use shrimps or canned tuna)
2-3 tbsp chopped olives
6-8 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp coriander seeds, crushed but not ground
salt and pepper to taste
chili flakes to taste
2 lemon wedges

Cook the pasta as directed in the package.

Peel garlic cloves and blush them with olive oil.  Sear them in a pan until tender and golden brown. (Alternately, roast the garlic in a 400F oven.)  

Push the seared garlic cloves to side of the pan and put in the oil. Saute coriander seeds, shredded chicken the seared garlic cloves until you can smell the aroma of the coriander seeds wafting through the air.  

Add olives and chili flakes. Stir for a few seconds and pour in the pesto. Stir until heated through. Stir in pasta. Transfer to a plate and serve with shaved parmesan and a lemon wedge.