Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Easy Coffee Cake

I used to make sour cream coffee cake but it was never good as a spur of the moment weekend breakfast because I never have sour cream in the house. I started to like this recipe a lot more, which I got from my boyfriend's mother. This is a much more reasonable spur of the moment coffee cake. It uses ingredients you always find in your kitchen.

Coffee Cake


  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt` 
Ingredients for topping
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp melted butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  1. Beat egg, milk and melted butter. Mix in butter
  2. Mix the dry ingredients and add those to the wet ingredients. Mix until just combined
  3. Pour mix into greased loaf or cake pan. Top with brown sugar topping (you can double the topping if desired)
  4. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes, depending on the thickness of the loaf. It will look very skinny but it will rise quite a bit.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Daring Cooks Cornmeal Challenge: Mini Corn Dogs

Once more, it's time for the Daring Cooks Challenge!

Rachael of pizzarossa was our August 2012 Daring Cook hostess and she challenged us to broaden our knowledge or cornmeal! Rachel provided us with some amazing recipes and encouraged us to hunt down other cornmeal recipes that we'd never tried before - opening our eyes to the literally 100s of cuisines and 1000s of new-to-us recipes!

I like corn dogs. It's summer. It feels like State Faire time of year. I don't think I need to say any more.

Mini Corn Dogs


  • 4 hot dogs (cut in half for mini)
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ¾ cup corn meal
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ⅛ tsp cayenne
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup + 2 Tbsp buttermilk
  • oil for deep frying
  • flour for dusting

  1. Cut hot dogs in half and put toothpicks in the ends
  2. Mix together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, cayenne, egg and buttermilk. Add extra buttermilk for beer if needed to  get the right condistency
  3. Roll hot dogs in flour and tap off the excess. Dip in batter and fry in 350 degree oil until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Cinnamon Lime Panna Cotta

I thought I posted this recipe a long time ago, but looking back I realize I had not. I'm not sure why, especially since it's easy and very tasty and looks fancy. It can be made hours ahead, making it a perfect dinner party food.

Try it next time.

Cinnamon Lime Panna Cotta


  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 sheets gelatin
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 zested limes
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ½ tsp vanilla


  1. Bloom gelatin in ½ cup milk
  2. Combine cream sugar, milk, lime and cinnamon. Simmer until sugar dissolves
  3. Let zest and cinnamon steep in milk for half an hour
  4. Add gelatin and stir until dissolved.
  5. Divide into individual servings. Chill until fully set. Garnish with lime zest and cinnamon shavings

Friday, August 10, 2012

Rye Hot Dog Buns

Sometimes, I love a good hot dog, but the hot dog buns always leave much to be desired. I finally made my own hot dog buns and they weren't difficult at all. They were somewhat sweet with a not too strong rye and caraway flavor. They were soft and toasted perfectly. This is a hot dog that will go great with strong mustard and kraut. Do not sully this dog with ketchup.

The cool thing about hot dog buns is making them with the slit down the middle. How do you get them to stay attached? I didn't initially understand how to make these buns, but I've attached a diagram that should explain how to make these. Try them for your next BBQ. I guarantee you won't want to go back to regular hot dog buns.

This post has been submitted to Yeastspotting

Rye Hot Dog Buns


  • ¾ cup rye flour
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ½ cup onion, diced
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp yeast
  • 3 cups AP flour
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 Tbsp caraway
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 Tbsp water


  1. Puree onion in a blender to make an onion smoothie. If it won’t puree, add the honey to the blender as well.
  2. Combine rye flour, milk, yeast, onion, honey and butter in mixing, bowl. Stir and let rest 10 minutes
  3. Add water, salt, caraway and 2 ½ cup of flour. Mix and add more flour as necessary until dough pulls away from the bowl.
  4. Knead until smooth. Place in greased bowl and let rest for 1 hour
  5. After an hour, gently de-gas dough and divide dough into 13 pieces. Roll each piece into a 6 or 7 inch tube and line them up on a piece of parchment paper is ½ inch of space in between each.
  6. Let dough rest until about 20 minutes until tubes have begun to grow together
  7. Mix egg white and 2 Tbsp water together. Brush dough with egg white and let dough rest another 15 minutes
  8. Bake buns at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Let dough rest of pan another 5 minutes before transferring the parchment paper to a cooling rack. Let cool 30 minutes
  9. Now here’s the cool part!
  10. Slice completely down the center of each tube (lengthwise). Where you sliced will be the sides of the hot dog bun, and where the buns grew together is the split down the middle. You will end up with 12 hot dog buns and 2 slices of rye bread to eat immediately.
  11. Serve with hot dogs, or anything else delicious.

in the diagram, the black rectangles are the tubes of dough. The red dotted lines are cut lines. Where I have marked is one hot dog bun. And the blue arrows are the awesome end pieces you get to eat right away when you slice the buns

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Daring Bakers "Crazy for Crackers" cheddar rosemary walnut edition

It's time for another challenge from The Daring Kitchen.

Our July 2012 Daring Bakers' Host was Dana McFarland and she challenged us to make homemade crackers! Dana showed us some techniques for making crackers and encouraged us to use our creativity to  make each cracker our own way my using ingredients we love.

I opted to follow one of the recipes she provided because we had all of the ingredients in house. I've also made crackers in the past like wheat thins, so I wanted to do something I had not done before. Hand rolling my wheat thins did not work out so well, as they were never thin enough. This time, I decided to try slicing the crackers like icebox cookies.

The crackers turned out well and I loved the flavor profile, but I was not a fan of making crackers in this style. My cuts were never quite even, and because I used almonds instead of walnuts, it was more difficult to get even cuts. I would make this recipe again though.

Cheddar Rosemary Walnut Crackers


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) softened unsalted butter
  • 2 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/4 cup AP flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 Tbsp chopped rosemary
  • A couple cracks of fresh black pepper
  1. Mix together softened butter with cheese, flour and salt until uniform paste forms. Add in rosemary and walnuts and mix until uniform.
  2. Roll dough into a cylinder in plastic wrap and freeze at least one hou
  3. Thinly slice crackers (no thicker than 1/5inch) and bake on parchment paper at 325 degrees for about 10-12 minutes

Monday, July 23, 2012

Banana Apple Baked Oatmeal

Oatmeal is a perfect breakfast food. It's full of fiber, including soluble fiber (which helps lower cholesterol). Yet even though oatmeal is a great breakfast food, it gets boring very quickly.

I found this recipe for a baked oatmeal that makes about 4 servings. You can keep them multiple days and just heat it up in the morning. Its a new, interesting way of doing oatmeal. Best of all, it has a little crunch from the quinoa.

Baked Oatmeal


  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ¼ cup quinoa
  • ¼ cup wheat bran
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 cup frozen berries or sliced apples


  1. Mix together oats, quinoa, bran, baking powder, salt and cinnamon
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together milk, egg, vanilla, and one mashed banana. Mix with the dry ingredients
  3. Great a loaf pan and lay 1 sliced banana along the bottom and half the berries. Pour in oat mixture and top with remaining berries
  4. Bake at 375 for 40 minutes or until golden and slightly puffed.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Papusas! An El Salvadorian Specialty with vinegar cabbage slaw and pico de gallo

I had my first papusa 2 years ago in the Mission District in San Francisco. It was 1:30 am, and I was drunk. There was a woman who spoke no English who sold these from a cart out front of the bars. They would come off her griddle piping hot and oozing with cheese. They were perfect, magically circles at the wee hours of the morning.

I learned how to make papusas recently from the El Salvadorian women at my work. Now that I live in DC, there is a much larger population of El Salvadorian immigrants than there ever was in California. That means I might not get as much Mexican food as I would like, but I get plenty of papusas.

Papusas are made with Maseca, a cornmeal treated with lime. It has a very fine consistency and a somewhat acidic flavor that is great for tortillas. Papusas are normally served with a vinegar based slaw and a sauce that tastes like a very thin, somewhat reduced salsa that is served warm. I made a pico de gallo to go with mine at home. Papusas are also very versatile, and can be filled with cheese, beans, meat, or any combination for those. But the main reason I love papusas is because the ratios are amazingly easy to remember.

It's 1 to 1.



  • 1 part maseca (about 1 cup will yield generous main dish portions for 2 people)
  • 1 part water (also approximate. You need a little more water as this should be a very moist yet still workable dough)
  • Beans/cooked meat/desired filling
  • Melting cheese, like monterey jack or mozzarella
  1. If using multiple filling ingredients, mix as desired. I used cheese, black beans and red bell pepper. Mash beans or grind meat slightly to make a more uniform filling that will hold its shape well.
  2. Mix maseca and water until a paste forms. It will hold its shape, but it will be moist
  3. Break off a ball about 2 inches in diameter and pat into a circle about 1/4 inch thick. Wet your hands with water or oil as necessary to prevent cornmeal from sticking. 
  4. Form a small cup with your hands and place filling in the center. Be generous. I use a large tablespoon, but only do what you are comfortable with.
  5. Fold sides up around the filling and slowly begin patting the papusa into a circle again. Be sure not to leave any tears otherwise the cheese will melt out of the papusa. Pat out to into a circle no thicker than half an inch.
  6. Place papusas in a hot, lightly greased cast iron skillet and cook until done (until marked on both sides. See picture). Serve immediately
You can stop here if you want, or you can continue with the slaw, which is great for any old day, any old BBQ or to replace any old salad

Vinegar Slaw

  • 1/2 head green or red cabbage, shredded
  • 2 carrots, julienned
  • sprigs of cilantro
  • red wine vinegar
  • olive oil
  • oregano
  • cumin
  • salt and pepper
  • Shred carrots and cabbage into a large bowl. Tear whole cilantro leaves from stems and gently toss with cabbage
  • Separately, mix vinegar, olive oil, oregano and cumin in desired proportions. Should about 1 Tbsp of oil to 3 or 4 Tbsp vinegar. 
  • Dress cabbage as desired. Season with salt and pepper to taste and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Even though I'd recommend the reduced warm salsa, I'll include the pico de gallo recipe because I know how to do it, and because it's an easy addition to any taco night or party.

Pico de Gallo

  • 5 large tomatoes, diced
  • 2medium red onions, minced
  • 1 bunch cilantro,
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed and seeded, minced
  • lime juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Mix tomatoes, onion, cilantro and garlic together in a large bowl. Lightly toss when stirring so as not to break the tomatoes too much. Add more or less onion if desired, but it should look pretty even.
  2. Add lime juice, salt and pepper to taste. If you want more heat, add another jalapeno or a couple dashes of hot sauce
  3. Refrigerate until serving

Monday, July 16, 2012

Book Review: Fortune Cookie Chronicles - Jennifer 8 Lee

To view my other reviews, please see my Goodreads account

Title: The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food
Author: Jennifer 8 Lee
Published: Hatchette Book Group, 2008
Pages: 320

I loved Jennifer Lee's storytelling style when I first saw her TED talk about chinese food in America. She gives some delightful anecdotes about Chinese food in other countries, the history of the fortune cookie, and comparisons between General Tso and Colonel Sanders (men both known for chicken rather than war). I thought it was interesting and wanted to see what else her book had to offer.

Though I liked "Fortune Cookie Chronicles" it read a little too much like the long version of the talk I enjoyed. The parts that weren't in the talk, I didn't particularly care much about anyway. Lets be honest, if I actually cared about immigration law, I would read a book about that, not a book about food. Other parts of the book gave some great history on fortune cookies and the original Japanese (Not Chinese!) cookies. It felt like a collection of really interesting essays rather than a connected non-fiction work with a coherent thesis.

I liked some sections more than others. I really enjoyed the parts about General Tso and the skill in writing fortune cookie fortunes. I liked the section about the proliferation of Chinese restaurants around the world, their differences, and which is the best for its influence and food. I did not like the fact that her Chinese food journey in San Francisco took her to Yank Sing. Real Chinese people don't eat a Yank Sing. It's way too far to the right of the costs/benefits bell curve. It's expensive dim sum designed for white people (which I suppose also has its place). She ignored the most amazing, most influential, creative place THAT DELIVERS AND DOES CARRY-OUT in San Francisco. I realize Mission Chinese Food was probably not around when she was visiting San Francisco to sample various Chinese restaurants, but reading this book made me want order after order of their Kung Pao Pastrami, the Thrice Cooked Bacon and Numbing Lamb Face with Hand Pulled Noodles (though they haven't had that on the menu in over a year). It made me want all the things that made Mission Chinese Food so unique and yet so completely and utterly Szechuan.

Of course, it was really a book about American Chinese food. It is authentic in its own right. It was what I grew up eating at our local Chinese restaurant that we called "The Pink Flamingo" because that was the picture on their logo, and we never bothered to learn the real  name.

After reading this book, we ordered takeout Chinese food for dinner. I made sure to order General Tso's chicken, and it was more delicious than remembered. Chicken+fried+sweet really is the key to success in America.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Daring Cooks Challenge "En Papillote"

So a couple weeks ago, I signed up to become part of Daring Kitchen. It's one of those websites I've seen mentioned on tons of posts on Tastespotting for people to challenge themselves and participate in a monthly group challenge (either cooking or baking related). I opted to join both Daring Cooks and Daring Bakers. The 14th of each month is the post date for Daring Cooks, so keep and eye out in the future.

Our July 2012 Daring Cook' host was Sarah from All our Fingers in the Pie! Sarah challenges us to learn a new cooking technique called "Cooking En Papillote" which is French and translates to "cooking in parchment".

I've cooked "En Papillote" before and forgot how simple it was. I always made vegetables or fully contained meals that way when I was in high school and just beginning to enjoy cooking. I went back to my one package ways by making salmon for this challenge.

I wanted to try a different marinade than I have in the past. It involved bourbon, soy sauce, brown sugar, cayenne, ginger and other seasonings. But I wasn't sure how well this marinade would turn out cooked in paper, when I would normally go for lighter flavors like dill and lemon. I cooked the salmon two ways: in paper for myself and simple pan seared for Steve. Given these flavors, the pan worked best, but it was still a good experiment.

I also purchased skin on fish, which I never used to do. I skinned the salmon, salted the skin, and fried it until crispy. I could serve it with the fish afterward and it tasted "like fish bacon" so said my dining companion.

Note: I did not measure the ingredients for my marinade. I just poured some soy sauce, sesame oil, bourbon and a little siracha in a bowl with brown sugar, pepper, garlic, ginger and paprika. I don't know what proportions I used, but you can use whatever marinade you desire as well.

Salmon En Papillote


  • 2 salmon fillets, skin on
  • 1/2 cup couscous
  • 1 lemon
  • some cilantro
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 handfulls of spinach
  1. Fillet skin off the salmon and save to pan fry.
  2. Cook couscous. Bring 1/2 cup or water or stock to a boil and add couscous. Immediately turn off heat and cover for 5 minutes. Fluff with fork.
  3. Cut 2 large pieces of parchment. Spoon couscous into each one and top with a handfull of spinach.
  4. Season fish with salt and pepper. Place fish on top of the spinach. Top fish with cilantro sprigs and slices of lemon.
  5. Wrap fish completely in parchment, making sure to crimp the edges. Cook at 350 for 15 minutes, depending on the size of your fish.
  6. While fish is cooking, generously season the fish skin and pan fry until crispy. Drain on paper towels
  7. Remove fish from oven and cut open paper. Serve with crispy skin and extra lemon.

For reference, I will include a picture of the other salmon. The crisp edges went much better with the bourbon flavor. Perhaps if I'd poured some of the marinade in the paper, it would have been better. Ah well, next time.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Infinite Zest Lemon Lime Cupcakes for the Infinite Jest Bookclub Potluck

After 4 months of putting off reading Infinite Jest, one month of slowly reading Infinite Jest, and 1 month of plowing through the last 800 pages of Infinite Jest, I finally finished it. Let me tell you, it was brilliant. It was so perfect and purposeful. It was 1100 pages but it was all super tight and wonderfully connected. I loved loved loved it. You can read my full review on Goodreads

Of course, when we discussed it at book club, I had to bring a thematically appropriate food. In the book, the only foods that appear are hash brownies and heroine. Even though those seemed thematically appropriate, they seemed questionably legal. I opted for cupcakes instead. I named them "Infinite Zest" because although I liked "The Year of the SuperMoist Betty Crocker Cake Mix" better, I did not think it would work for a from-scratch cake. (Note: if you read the book, you'd understand the years of subsidized time)

I got this recipe from Baking Bites but upped the amount of lemon.

These cupcakes have a delightful lemon lime flavor. They're not too sweet and I top them with a cooked flour frosting (because that's really the only kind of frosting I really like)

Infinite Zest Lemon Lime Cupcakes


  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • zest of 3 lemons
  • zest of 2 limes
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  1. Muddle together sugar, lemon and lime zest so the zest doesn't stick together.
  2. Cream together butter and lemon-lime sugar until light and fully. Add eggs one at a time, incorporating fully in between
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the eggs and butter. Then half the milk. Alternate, ending with the dry ingredients
  5. Fill muffin cups and bake for 15-20 minutes at 350 until done. Let cool completely before frosting
Ingredients for cooked flour frosting
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter
  • vanilla or lemon extract (depending on how lemony you want the cake)
  • yellow and green food coloring
Directions for frosting
  1. Cook flour, milk and sugar on the stove until a very thick paste forms
  2. Cool mixture completely in the refrigerator
  3. Pour milk mixture into a mixing bowl and beat on high speed. Add butter one tablespoon at a time until it emulsifies and makes a light, fluffy frosting. Add extracts as desired
  4. Remove a little of the white frosting and set aside for the white lines on the tennis ball. Color the rest of the frosting as desired. (To make tennis ball green, it will probably take about 20 drops of yellow and like 3 drops of green)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Chili Mango Arugula Salad (with cashews!)

Summer is a time for salads. They're refreshing, light, and go perfectly with hot weather. With the last couple weeks being 100+ degrees and over 80% humidity, I didn't want to turn on the oven at all. It was time for dinner salads, and lots of them.

This is one of my favorite side salads for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I love with with eggs in the morning, with a sandwich (or on its own) in the afternoon, and with fish or anything vaguely caribbean themed at night. It's sweet, savory and spicy all at the same time.

Chili Mango Salad


  • 1 mango, julienned
  • 1/2 bag arugula
  • 1 small hand full of cashews
  • juice from one or two limes
  • 2 Tbsp whole cilantro leaves
  • 1 tsp crushed red chili flakes (give or take, depending on preference)
  • olive oil (about 2 tsp)
  • salt and pepper to taste.
  1. Slice mango and toss with red chili flakes and cashews to coat evenly with the spice.
  2. Toss with arugula and dress with lime juice, salt, pepper and oil to personal preference. I don't put very much oil at all, but I put a lot of lemon/lime juice. I also have a greater arugula to mango ratio

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Tabouleh Salad

Note: the salad pictured does not have nearly as much parsley in it as I could have liked. It is also made with cous-cous due to time and product constraints that day. It was good, but I highly recommend the following recipe if you want a much more pungent tabouleh salad.

I love tabouleh salad in the summer. It's light, refreshing, and has a taste of parsley and lemon. It goes perfectly with lamb or fresh pita bread. Best of all, it keeps for multiple days and is a perfect make-ahead salad for a picnic or potluck (or workday lunch).

Tabouleh Salad

  • ½ cup bulgur wheat
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 3 whole lemons, juiced
  • half bunch of fresh mint, chiffonade
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 8 large bunches of curly parsley, finely chopped
  • 4 whole scallions
  • 3 whole roma tomatoes, de-seeded and diced
  • 1 whole English cucumber, de-seeded and diced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt, pepper and allspice to taste

  1. Pour boiling water over bulgur and let sit covered until tender. Drain off excess liquid and let cool
  2. Take out seeds from tomatoes and cucumber and dice
  3. Finely dice/mince all other ingredients and mix together. Toss with cooled bulgar.
  4. Pour lemon and olive oil over the salad. Add seasonings to taste. Additional lemon can be incorporated if desired.
  5. Let chill at least a couple hours until ready to serve.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Creole Tomato and Onion Salad

At first, the idea of an onion and tomato salad just did not sound good. I've learned so many new things since moving to the south, and have expanded my palate in so many ways. Is this onion salad an everyday thing? No. But it's a good refreshing summer side dish that's spicy and flavorful enough to go with more plain dinner foods like chicken or grits.

For this salad I used "Shut My Mouth" brand creole mustard (which I purchased simply because I liked the name. You need to say it like a sassy black woman. At least in my mind that's how you say it...)

Creole mustard is different than regular mustard because it's mixed with horseradish, worcestershire sauce and vinegar. You could also use stone ground mustard if you did not want as strong a flavor, but I like the pungent flavor of all parts of the creole mustard.

Note: all amounts are guesses. Adjust to fit personal taste

Creole Onion Tomato Salad


  • 5 roma tomatoes, cut into 1/8 or 1/6 sections
  • 1 small red onion, shaved into rings on a mandolin (I would use Maui or a sweeter onion next time)
  • Creole mustard
  • 1 tsp mayonaise
  • honey (optional)
  • Chives for garnish
  1. Slice tomatoes and onions as desired.
  2. Mix mayonaise with creole mustard in a separate bowl until you reach desired spice level. Add honey if desire to add sweetness and round out the flavors
  3. Toss onion and tomatoes lightly with dressing.
  4. Chill until ready to serve. Garnish with chives.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Arancini - Italian Fried Delicious

Arancini is the most delicious way to eat leftover risotto. Arancini is usually fried and stuffed with a variety of fillings. The most common filling is ragu: a combination of pork, tomatoes and vegetables. It can also be stuffed with mushrooms, eggplant, corn or cheese. I went for the most easy one: the cheese arancini.

The word "arancini" is derived from the Italian word for "little orange", which is an apt description of the color and shape of the fried rice balls. You could call them an appetizer, but I honestly at them as a main dish alongside an arugula salad.

A couple helpful hints:

  • If you're making cheese arancini, use block pieces of mozzarella cheese. I use shredded mozzarella cheese and it was a lot more difficult to work with.
  • Use fine bread crumbs. I used panko and I feel like it would have been better with fine Italian breadcrumbs.

  • Leftover risotto (I used mushroom, but plain risotto would work best
  • Cheese
  • Flour, egg and breadcrumbs for coating
  • Oil for deep frying
  1. Pour oil into a wok or deep pot. Begin heating to 350 degrees.
  2. Shape risotto in the palm of your hand into a disk. Fill with cheese or desired filling and wrap the rice around it. If necessary, pat rice on the top of enclose the filling.
  3. Roll risotto ball in flour, egg, and then breadcrumbs.
  4. Fry risotto balls for a couple minutes until the outside are a dark golden brown. Dry on paper towel and serve immediately with a green salad.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Book Review: Salt a World History - Mark Kurlansky

To view all of my book reviews (not just the food related ones), please check out my Goodreads account

Title: Salt: A World History
Author: Mark Kurlansky
Published: Penguin Books, 2002
Pages: 484 pages

This book was really interesting. Salt is such a common substance and I only knew vaguely of its history. I knew of its food uses (originally out of necessity and now as a delicacy) and a large part of the book gave me a craving for salt cod and bacon. I learned some great things but it was just too long. It was interesting for the first 300 pages but the next 150 pages were just dull. It was simply a rehash of the same themes covered before. All societies use salt, it was very valuable before the discovery of its abundance, and here are a few cool anecdotes and some really old recipes for salted food.

I would have given it 4 stars if it had been shorter.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dutch Crunch Bread

I consider Dutch Crunch the perfect sandwich bread for anything with a lighter flavor (fish, chicken, turkey, etc). For all things like roast beef and pastrami, rye bread will always be the winner. But after seeing so many posts for Dutch Crunch rolls after it was assigned for a Daring Bakers challenge, I knew I had to give it a shot.

That night, I had these rolls with a baked basa (a Vietnamese freshwater fish similar to catfish) sandwich with red wine vinegar coleslaw. It was delicious. I'm sure it would be perfect with tuna melts as well.

This post has been submitted to Yeastspotting

Dutch Crunch Bread


  • 2 ¼ tsp dry yeast
  • 1 ¼ cup warm milk
  • 1 ½ Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp veg oil
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • about 3 ½ cups bread flour

Ingredients for topping
  • 4 ½ tsp dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp veg oil
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ cups rice flour

  1. For the bread, combine yeast, milk and sugar to let yeast proof
  2. Add vegetable oil, salt and 2 cups of flour. Mix until it comes together
  3. Add more bread flour about ¼ cup at a time until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Knead dough until springy and elastic
  4. Place in oiled bowl covered until doubled in size (1 hour)
  5. Divide dough into 8 pieces and shape into a ball. Cover and let rest 15 minutes while preparing the topping
  6. For the topping, mix all ingredients together until a stiff consistency of icing (it should just drip slowly off the whisk. Let rest for 15 minutes
  7. Coat rolls liberally with the topping and let rest another 15-20 minutes
  8. Bake at 375 degrees 25-30 minutes until well browned.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Mushroom Risotto - The best way to eat carbs

Risotto is my favorite way to eat carbs. It will always be my favorite way to eat carbs. It's creamy, savory and unctuous. It has all the flavors I crave in a dish, and it accompanies fish, chicken or meat perfectly (depending on the type of risotto). But who am I kidding, I can eat risotto as a dish all on its own.

Risotto is not complicated. It's not a food you have to order at a restaurant. The only reason it seems daunting is because one person has to stand by the stove while it cooks, but it only takes twenty minutes. It's worth every moment and every penny to make this dish.

Usually, mushroom risotto is made with porcini mushrooms, but because I wanted to make a frugal weeknight dinner, I substituted dried shiitake mushrooms for the porcini. It still has as earthy richness, but without the price.

This recipe makes about 6 main course servings. I usually cut the recipe in half because I use it as a side dish for fewer people.

Mushroom Risotto
  • about 9 cups chicken stock
  • 1 oz dried shiitake mushroom caps
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • ½ lb sliced button mushrooms
  • ½ lb assorted wild mushrooms (I used enoki, miatake, and oyster mushrooms)
  • ¼ cup fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 Tbsp fresh minced thyme
  • 3 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine (not Chardonnay) at room temp
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Bring the stock to a simmer Remove from heat and add the dried shiitake mushrooms, soaking for 20 minutes. Remove mushrooms, squeezing out the liquid. Chop and set aside. Turn the stock back on to a very low simmer.
  2. In a heavy saucepan, sautee garlic in olive oil on medium heat. Add all the fresh mushrooms and cook until they are softened. Add the chopped shitake, parsley, thyme and half a cup of the simmering stock. Cook until thickened, then remove mushrooms with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  3. Add rie to the pan and stir over medium heat until each grain is translucent with a white dot in the center. Add the wine and stir until that is completely absorbed.
  4. Add the simmering stock a ladle full at a time, stirring frequently after each addition. When stock is almost completely absorbed, add the next ladle of stock. Repeat, saving ¼ cup until the end.
  5. When the rice is al dente (tender, but slightly firm and creamy) Add mushrooms and stir to reheat (about 3 minutes) Remove from heat. Add butter and remaining stock. Season to taste and eat immediately.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Heidelberg Pastry Shop - A Restaurant Review

Heidelberg Pastry Shop
2150 North Culpeper Street
Arlington VA 22207
(703) 527 - 8394

Heidelberg Pastry Shop is within a couple miles of my house. I'd heard about this amazing German bakery and finally got the chance to try it out.

I looked first at their bread section. Most were soft sandwich bread looking loaves like multigrain or oatmeal breads. There was some great looking challah as well, but I was looking to try the baked goods that afternoon.

Pictured above are a pretzel, cheese crackers and marzipan. The pretzel was soft and chewy with that essential pretzel taste. They're made in house, as you can see from the ugly shape of the pretzels. The cheese crackers were very buttery and delicious. I could have easily eaten a whole bag of the. And the marzipan was delicious and beautiful. Regular price is about $4 but I got a day old piece which was only $2. They came mostly in fruit and vegetable shapes, but there were some animals as well.

I also discovered that Heidelberg sells real food as well. You can go in for house made sausages and German style potato salad. The sausages smelled fantastic and they were only served one way: with mustard and sauerkraut. No ketchup in this joint.

Check it out if you get a chance.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sourdough Danishes with Cream Cheese filling: my first adventures with laminated dough

Laminated dough always sounded intimidating. Croissants were items I bought at the bakery, not things I made at home. I knew it was going to be time consuming and I never thought I would have the time. But over a three day weekend, I decided to try this amazing recipe because I am always looking for new ways to use sourdough starter when I feed it.

This recipe took two days to complete, but most of it was inactive time. The first day was 5 minutes to make the ferment. The second day was probably a grand total of an hour and a half to make the dough, roll it, and add the butter. The third morning was only 20 minutes of shaping the dough and filling it.

My favorite shapes were the pinwheels, and vol-au-vents (both pictured) but there are plenty of other options for shaping. This recipe will make 16-20 danishes, depending on the size. I cut the recipe in half because I knew I didn't have enough baking trays. Be sure to leave plenty of space because they will expand.

For these pastries I used fresh blueberries, raspberry preserves and apricot/peach/passion fruit compote. The compote was definitely the winner.

This post has been submitted to Yeastspotting

Sourdough Danishes

Ingredients for ferment

  • 44 grams sourdough starter from the refrigerator at 100% hydration
  • 75 grams water
  • 134 grams bread flour


  1. Mix ingredients together with your hands until it forms a dry ball. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature overnight for at least 12 hours

Ingredients for main dough
  • 341 grams bread flour
  • 77 grams beaten eggs
  • 135 grams milk
  • 60 grams sugar
  • 5 grams salt
  • 7 grams yeast
  • 41 grams softened butter
  • 361 grams cold cubed unsalted butter.

  1. Mix levain with all ingredients except 361 grams butter. Mix on low speed for 3 minutes and medium speed for 3 minutes. Remove from mixing bowl, pat into a square, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hour.
  2. While dough is chilling, roll dough into a 7.5x7.5 inch rectangle. between pieces of parchment paper. Chill in refrigerator.
  3. Remove butter to let it come to the same texture as the dough. Roll dough into an 11 inch square so it can completely enclose the butter. Orient butter so corners are in the middle of the sides. Fold dough around butter.
  4. Roll out dough into an 8 x 24 inch rectangle, starting from the middle and rolling outward. Cut off the short edges of the dough and fold like a letter. Fold the bottom edge up and the top edge over. Wrap in plastic and chill 1 hour.
  5. Orient dough with the closed side facing left and roll as before. into an 8x24 inch rectangle. Repeat 3 more times for a total of 4 folds total. Refrigerate overnight.
  6. In the morning, roll dough into an 8x24 inch rectangle. Cut in half to make 2 8 x 12 inch halves. Continue rolling each half to make two 9 x 18 inch rectangles. Trim all the edges and divide into 8 squares each.
  7. Shape dough as desired into squares, vol au vents, pinwheels and braids. Proof dough for 2 hours
  8. Fill dough with cream cheese filling (about 1 Tbsp each) and jam or desired. Brush with egg wash and bake for 10 minutes at 425 and 10 minutes at 375 degrees. Eat when still warm.

Ingredients for cream cheese filling
  • 250 grams softened cream cheese
  • 113 grams granulated sugar
  • 19 grams butter
  • 28 grams flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 21 grams beaten egg

  • Mix together all ingredients until softened in stand mixer.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Sunomono has always been one of my favorite salads. It's just Japanese quick pickles with seaweed and a dashi sauce, but it's so light and refreshing. It's sweet and savory with an herbal quality as well. It makes a perfect summer salad and a great accompaniment to any meal. If necessary, you can make it a couple days ahead of time too and the pickles will keep their fantastic crunch.

Traditionally, you want to use Japanese cucumbers that have been rubbed with kosher salt to remove the bitterness. They're relatively small and very thin, but they can occasionally be hard to find in your grocery store. You should not use regular cucumbers, but you can use English cucumbers (the hydroponically grown ones wrapped in plastic). The salad is traditionally dressed with Sanbaizu, meaning "three flavors". 



  • 5 very firm Japanese or English cucumbers, sliced
  • 2 or 3 shiso leaves
  • wakame seaweed to taste
  • kosher salt
  • Sanbaizu dressing (recipe follows)
  1. Slice cucumbers very thin on a mandolin and salt liberally with kosher salt. They should taste oversalted. 
  2. After about 20 minutes, squeeze the cucumbers in your hands. The salt will draw out the water and make the cucumbers crunchy. If the cucumbers aren't crunchy yet, leave them for another 10 minutes. If they're too salty, rinse them in water and squeeze. The cucumbers can be made about 4 days ahead if you squeeze the water out every day.
  3. When you want to serve the cucumbers, take a couple tablespoons of dried wakame seaweed and rehydrate them in cool water. Squeeze the water out and toss with the cucumbers as much as desired (about 2 parts cucumber to 1 part seaweed)
  4. Chiffonade the shiso and mix with the cucumbers and seaweed.
  5. Dress the salad with sanbaizu and garnish with sesame seeds.
  • 3/4 cup dashi
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp mirin
  1. Mix all ingredients together and serve.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Corned Beef - It's Not Just for St. Patrick's Day

I wanted to make corned beef for St Patrick's day, but I didn't want to spend the money on enough corned beef for a large party and leftovers. I wanted to make it myself, but pre-brined corned beef was cheaper than a regular brisket. It's funny how that works. Additionally, all the briskets I found were half fat and would yield very little of the lean meat when I finished trimming it.

But at the asian market, I found a great, very lean brisket ideal for pho at a sale price. So what if it was May. I still wanted to make corned beef and try my hand at brining it myself.

There are a variety of recipes for pickling spice. For the most part, they always involve peppercorns, bay leaves, hot pepper flakes, coriander, mustard, allspice and cinnamon. I added a few more things that I know I enjoy based on how I've had them before. First, I'll give you my recipe for pickling spice. 

Pickling Spice

  • 1 Tbsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 Tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1 Tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 Tbsp hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp juniper berries
  • 1 Tbsp allspice beries
  • 12 bay leaves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, crushed or broken
  • 1 Tbsp cloves
  • ½ Tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 Tbsp celery seeds
  • ½ Tbsp thyme
  • 2 star anise pods


  1. Toast peppercorns, mustard, coriander, juniper, allspice and star anise in a skillet until aromatic
  2. Mix together with remaining ingredients and crush with mortar/pestle. Store in airtight jar.

I thought this was a great recipe but I would make a few changes next time. I'd all a little more cinnamon and more juniper. I would also NOT replace the hot pepper flakes with 2 szechwan chilis (the only thing I had in the house). It gave the beef a great flavor but it made my cabbage way too spicy. I've never had a spicy cabbage that was not kim chi, so this was surprising.

When you have your spice, you can finally start making your corned beef.

Corned Beef

  • 1 4lb brisket
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 celery rib
  • 1 onion
  • 10 oz kosher salt
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 4 Tbsp pickling spice


  1. Combine 2 or 3 Tbsp pickling spice with 1 gallon of water, salt and sugar. Bring ingredients to boil until sugar and salt are dissolved. Let cool completely
  2. When mix is cool, add brisket, making sure it’s submerged in liquid. Leave brisket in refrigerator for 5 days
  3. When ready to cook brisket, remove from brine and rinse thoroughly. Cover brisket with water and add 2-3 Tbsp pickling spice, onion, carrot and celery. Bring to boil and simmer for 3 hours or until brisket is fork tender.
  4. Just before brisket is finished cooking, add potatoes, cabbage and extra carrots to cooking liquid and cook until done.
  5. Store leftovers in a little cooking liquid and refrigerate.

We only had a two and a half pound brisket but that didn't matter. The extra salt comes out in the cooking liquid and it still tasted fantastic. We even had leftovers for reuben sandwiches the next day, which is always worth it.

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