Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Mulligatawny Soup

I just got back from the eye doctor and they told me I have a stye. Gross. I'm glad I went in now after only 3 days of it hurting as opposed to a week from now when it would have gotten much worse. I can thank my husband for that. It's an internal eyelid stye, not an external one, so it doesn't look gross. It just feels uncomfortable.
They wrote me my prescription for antibiotics and my eyelid cream and I just realized I can't drink anything for 10 days. And it's the Superbowl! Life sucks sometimes, but I guess this is better than getting glaucoma and going blind. It could be worse.
In case you haven't heard, we've been getting  "blizzard" on the East Coast of underwhelming proportions. By that, I mean DC was forecasted to get a 6-8 inches of snow and we got about an inch. It's cold, but it wasn't even cold enough to merit soup. It doesn't matter though, because this soup is absolutely delicious.
Mulligatawny is an amazing soup created by British imperialists during their colonization of India. It has all the great flavors and complexities of curry but it is still definitely a creamy European style soup. This is my favorite soup ever. Every time I make it, I make a big pot and freeze it to eat whenever I want. It's delicious and I'm absolutely sure you'll love it too.
Mulligatawny Soup
  • 1 4 lb chicken, cut into quarters
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 leek (white parts only)
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 3 ribs of celery, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 4 Tbsp curry powder
  • 2 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 2 granny smith apples , peeled, cored and diced
  • 2/3 cup long grain rice
  • 3 quarts chicken stock
  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup whipping cream
  • lemon juice (about 1 Tbsp)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cilantro and slivered almonds to garnish
  1. Sautee the chicken in a heavy bottom pot or dutch oven using a couple tablespoons of butter. Sautee until chicken is well browned on all sides. Remove from pot.
  2. Add onion, garlic, leeks, celery, carrots and spices. Sautee until onion is softened and translucent. Add a little stock to deglaze and scrape up as much fond as possible.
  3. Add the rest of the stock and season to taste. Add the chicken and simmer for 30 minutes until chicken is cooked.
  4. Remove chicken with slotted spoon and set aside to cool. Add rice to soup and simmer gently for 15 minutes
  5. Pull chicken or dice into bite sized pieces, discarding skin and bones. Return to soup. Add apples and yogurt and simmer for another 10 minutes
  6. Stir in cream and lemon juice. Adjust seasoning as necessary and serve with cilantro and almonds.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Tartine Basic Country Bread

In San Francisco, there is an amazing bakery called Tartine. It's located in the Mission District and serves the most beautiful pastries, cakes, croissants, quiche and bread. My God, the bread really is a stand-out. It has the perfect crust, the perfect flavor and makes the perfect sound as it cools. It's like the bread is speaking to you. It's like that scene in Ratatouille when they say that you can known great bread by the sound. It really is true.
Everything about this bread is perfect, from the smell to the sound. It's great with cheese or just butter and jam for breakfast. It is especially perfect when used to mop up jus or gravy with dinner. 
Best of all, this bread is easy. Well, easy is a relative term. It will take you about a week of active preparation to make this bread (unless you maintain an active sourdough starter, in which case it's only about 2 days of active prep time). You need plenty of time to make this bread, but if you do you'll never go back to another one.
This is a no-knead bread with a very high hydration percentage. You develop the gluten with a series of folds over a long period of time followed by an overnight refrigeration to slow fermentation and develop the flavors. It takes time, but not a lot of work. I highly recommend it.
If you didn't know, this recipe comes form the Tartine Bread book.
Ingredients for the Leaven
  • 1 Tbsp mature sourdough starter at 100% hydration, made with a 50/50 ratio of white bread flour and whole wheat flour
  • 200 grams flour mixture
  • 200 grams warm water
Directions for Leaven
  1. Mix together all ingredients, cover and leave at room temperature for about 12 hours. To test if it's ready, drop a small spoonful into a bowl of warm water. If it floats, it's ready to be mixed into the dough. If it doesn't float, leave to ripen a little while longer.
Ingredients for Dough
  • 900 grams white bread flour
  • 100 grams whole wheat flour
  • 200 grams leaven
  • 750 grams water
  • 20 grams salt
Directions for Dough
  1. Mix together leaven and 700 grams of water in a large bowl until leaven is well dispersed. Add flours and mix until no dry flour remains. Let rest 30 minutes before adding the rest of the water and salt, squeezing it in your hands.
  2. Put dough in a glass bowl of plastic container and cover with a kitchen towel to maintain warmth. Develop the gluten by folding the dough over on itself every half hour. To accomplish that, dip your hand in water and reach it to the bottom of the container. Pull the dough from the bottom up and fold it over. Give the bowl a quarter turn and do that 3 more times. Then cover to rest again.
  3. Do this every half hour for 3 hours or until the dough is aerated, light and has increased in size by about 30%
  4. Pull dough out of the container onto a flour surface. Cut dough into 2 pieces and work each piece into a round until it has a taunt, smooth surface. Dust with flour, cover with a towel and let rest for 30 minutes. The dough should relax and spread with a rounded lip but not be dripping or flat. If it is, then form into a round again and repeat to develop more gluten.
  5. Flip the dough over so the floured side is down. and form into a round loaf like an envelope. Fold 1/3 of the dough closest to you to the middle of the round. Fold in the sides and then fold the rest of the dough by rolling the dough away from you over the top half. Pinch the seam closed if necessary. Repeat with the other round
  6. Place the dough, seam side up, in a rice floured basket or bowl lined with a kitchen towel. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 12 hours overnight.
  7. The next day, preheat dutch oven with lid to 500 degrees for half an hour. Remove one loaf of bread from the refrigerator.
  8. Remove dutch oven and turn bread into the bottom, being careful not to burn yourself. Slash the top with a razor and put the lid back on. Turn oven down to 450 and bake for 20 minutes.
  9. Remove lid and bake for 25 minutes more until the crust is a deep brown the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow.
  10. Remove bread from dutch oven. Allow to reheat before proceeding with baking the second loaf.

Note: This post has been submitted to Yeastspotting

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Secret Recipe Club: Crockpot Pork Carnitas

It has been too long since we last had a Secret Recipe Club post. I got to participate in the Cookie Swap in December, but I have missed the regular dinner inspiration of the scheduled Secret Recipe Club posts. I missed finding a new blog and searching through all the delicious recipes with my husband. I missed the anticipation the week leading up to the reveal date as I waited to find out what other people had made and if they enjoyed it. Basically, I missed this fantastic group of bloggers and all of their work. But now I'm back and ready to kick off 2015 with the club.
This month, I was assigned Desiree's blog, Steak N Potatoes Kinda Gurl. Based on her About Me page, I'm pretty sure we would be fast friends in real life. She's a Masters Student at Xavier University who likes books/bookstores and dislikes E-Readers. She likes Bud Lite Lime, The Bachelor (hate that I love it... such a train wreck) and  Football (sorry about the Bengals and their post season losses the last few years... it's almost as bad as being a Chargers fan...)  I might not mind cleaning or running, but they are also on my personal dislikes list.  She has great photos on her blog and an awesome, inspirational list of difficult food-things to try making.
In short, I think we would get along. :-)
Desi had so many great recipes on her blog like her Jalapeno Poppers or her White Chicken Chili.  They all look so great, but I decided on her AMAZING Crockpot Pork Carnitas. I bought up about 10 things to choose from and my husband instantly went with the carnitas. I couldn't sway him towards anything else. I am so happy he chose this recipe because it was incredibly delicious and easy. We had three other friends over for dinner that night and we had so many leftovers. We served these great carnitas with a vinegar cabbage slaw, black beans, Spanish rice and my homemade flour tortillas. It was a fantastic Friday night dinner.
I wasn't sure if I believed her recipes when she said to put these carnitas under the broiler for 10 minutes. It sounded like a really long time, but they turned out perfectly with just the right ratio of tender pork to crunchy outer pieces. Check it after 5 minutes, but trust the timing of this recipe.
Thanks again for this awesome recipe Desi. I know I'll be back to pull more ideas from your blog and your recipe bucket list.

Crockpot Carnitas
  • 4-5 lbs boneless pork butt
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbsp hot sauce (I use Marie Sharp's Belizian Heat)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1 bottle of beer (I use Dos Equis)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup salsa (I use Jack's Special Garden Fresh)
  • queso fresco, white onion, red radish and cilantro for serving
  1. Mix garlic, salt, cumin, chili powder, oregano, pepper, cinnamon and cayenne pepper together and rub all over the pork. Place in a large container in the refrigerator.
  2. Pour lime juice, hot sauce, bay leaves, beer, orange juice and salsa over the top. Let refrigerate overnight.
  3. In the morning, pour pork with marinade in the crockpot and cook on low for 8 hours until tender.
  4. Pull pork apart with forks and put under the broiler for 10 minutes until crisped around the edges
  5. Serve with all your desired toppings and warm tortillas. Store pork by putting a little extra braising liquid with the pork so it doesn't dry out too much.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Kinako Ice Cream

My Christmas list for my mother-in-law this year included books on homemade ice cream. My mother in law is super organized and has a great Google doc excel spread sheet for the entire family  that everyone fills out for Secret Santa (for my husband's siblings and their significant others). It makes shopping way easier than it is in my family.

So she got me some great "not turtleneck, not ugly plaid, long sleeve,  petite extra small" shirts and the David Lebowitz book "The Perfect Scoop" on homemade ice cream (as well as some home goods for both my husband and me).

A lot of the recipes in this book are super interesting. Some of them are savory and some are sweet but I'll probably make all of them at some point. I started with something a little more basic by making the Kinako ice cream recipe.

For those who don't know, kinako is a Japanese roasted soybean flour and it is AMAZING. It takes some getting used to (my husband and a lot of my Caucasian friends thought it was strange. My Asian friends thought it was amazing). Kinako tastes like a cross between toasted sesame seeds and peanut butter. It smells very sweet but doesn't taste super sweet. You would serve kinako as a dessert sprinkled over ice cream or mixed with sugar and used to dredge mochi (rice cakes).

It's not for everyone, and it's not ultra smooth because it is made with soybean flour, but it's worth trying out.

Kinako Ice cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 6 Tbsp kinako
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 cups cream
  • 6 egg yolks
  1. Whisk together milk, kinako, salt, cream and half the sugar in a pot. Whisk together egg yolks and the rest of the sugar in a separate bowl.
  2. Heat milk until scalded and temper into your eggs. Stream eggs back into the pot while whisking.
  3. Cook egg and cream mixture over low for a minute or two until it passes the back of the spoon test (you can run your finger along the back of a wooden spoon and it doesn't immediately run back together).
  4. Remove from heat immediately and pour through a fine strainer. Chill in a bowl of ice and refrigerate overnight.
  5. Churn according to ice cream maker directions.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Popcorn Balls

I make these popcorn balls  whenever my husband and I go to the movies. My mother raised me to bring the big purse to the theatre filled with candy and bottles of soda. My husband doesn't believe in doing things that way. He talks to me about how the only way they make any money is off concessions, etc etc. I still don't like buying concessions, but I do it.

However, there is one theatre that has the BEST concessions ever and I have no problem buying from them. I mean, of course you're going to have the best concessions when your main offerings are beer, wine, kim chi hot dogs, toasted caramel corn and tandoori yogurt popcorn (my favorite). This theatre shows a lot more independent/artsy films, so we went there A LOT this past December for all the great Oscar bait films (Theory of Everything, Imitation Game, Foxcatcher, etc)

The last time we went, we had some leftover toasted caramel popcorn that I didn't want to throw away. I brought it home and made these popcorn balls. Popcorn balls are pretty strange because I don't actually like them. They always taste stale and strange yet you can't stop eating them. My husband shares my sentiments and said, "It tastes like you're eating sweet Styrofoam, yet I can't stop eating it).

So make it if you want, but it's not like you're doing anything else with that movie theatre popcorn.

Popcorn Balls
  • 3 cups leftover popped popcorn
  • 2 1/2 cups marshmallows
  • 1-2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 roasted peanuts, candy, etc.
  1. Melt butter and marshmallows in a pot. Stir in popcorn, nuts and candy until fully coated.
  2. Form popcorn mix into balls with buttered or gloved hands. Let set and enjoy the weird Styrofoam texture.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Flour Tortillas

When my husband and I took our honeymoon to Belize, we had the most amazing flour tortillas. They were larger, soft, puffy and amazing. I've never had tortillas so good in my entire life.

I bought the Flavors of Belize cookbook our on honeymoon and made this recipe for flour tortillas from it. They aren't quite as puffy like the ones we got while we were there, but they are soft, delicious, EASY and about a hundred times better than any flour tortilla you might buy at the grocery store.

I am normally a corn tortilla person, but my husband is a flour tortilla person. I made these because I knew he would like them, but these tortillas could convert me. It is a perfect addition to taco night in any house.

Flour Tortillas
Ingredients (makes 12 6 inch tortillas)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable shortening
  • 3/4 cup water
  1. Combine flour, salt and baking powder. Cut in shortening with a fork.
  2. Add water a little at a time and mix with your hands until smooth. Knead 2 or 3 minutes  until smooth
  3. Divide dough into 12 pieces, cover and rest for 15 minutes
  4. On a well floured surface, roll dough until flat and very thin
  5. In a very hot cast iron pan or griddle, cook each tortilla bout 1 or 2 minutes on each side until slightly puffed. Eat immediately.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

General Tso's Chicken

I know it's not Chinese food. I know it's not real, but it's still one of my favorite things to order when we get takeout Chinese food. I've loved it since I was a child. I mean, what's not to love about it? It combines sweet, sour, crunchy and chicken into one dish. It's really fantastic.

When I saw this recipe posted on Serious Eats, I knew I had to give it a shot. The Serious Eats food lab does tons of tests for their recipe so I was sure it would turn out great. This recipe certainly didn't disappoint. It looks like a lot of ingredients, but it's really not. It's the same ingredients for multiple components.

I basically made this recipe exactly as they showed it on Serious Eats and it did not disappoint. I added some extra chilies and extra ginger (because you know me and my love of spice). Give this recipe a try. It's really excellent and if you like General Chicken, I'm sure you will like this homemade version much more than any version you find in your carryout bag.

General Tso's Chicken
Ingredients for marinade
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 Tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Shaoxing wine (I subbed sake, because that's what I had)
  • 2 Tbsp vodka
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3 Tbsp corn starch
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into half inch chuncks
Ingredients for Dredge
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Ingredients for Sauce
  • 3 Tbsp dark soy
  • 3 Tbsp chicken stock
  • 2 Tbsp Shaoxing
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 4 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp minced ginger
  • 2 tsp minced scallions +6 scallions reserved, cut into 1 inch lengths
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 8 small arbol chilies
  1. Whisk egg whit until foamy and add soy sauce, vodka and Shaoxing. Reserve half the marinade in a small bowl and add baking soda and corn starch to the larger bowl. Whisk to combine and coat chicken in the marinade. Set aside.
  2. For the dredge, sift together flour, corn starch, salt and baking powder until combined. Add the reserved marinade and mix until coarse, mealy clumps form.
  3. For the sauce, combine soy sauce, Shaoxing, vinegar, chicken stock, sugar, sesame oil and cornstarch in a small bowl. Sautee ginger, garlic, scallions and chilies in a little oil until fragrant. Add sauce and cook for 1 minute until thickened. Remove to bowl and set aside but do not clean the skillet
  4. Heat about a quart and a half of oil in a wok to 350 degrees for deep frying. Place chicken in the dry coating one piece at a time, coating thoroughly and pressing coating into the chicken. Place chicken into the hot oil and cook through and very crispy. Let drain on a paper towel.
  5.  Add chicken to skillet and return sauce to skillet, folding constantly until all pieces are coated. Garnish with remaining scallions and serve immediately with white rice. 

Friday, January 2, 2015

Weight Watchers Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins

Happy New Year, folks.

It's the start of 2015 and we know everyone is attempting to make their resolutions. Some people want to lose weight, some want to quit smoking. All of those are admirable goals.

My goals for 2015 are:
  • Read 50 pages per day with a mix of fiction and non-fiction.
  • Post on this blog at least once a week (make sure to talk about life and making things more interesting)
  • Go to the gym at least three days per week/be able to run 10k by June.
I think these are all pretty reasonable goals. I don't think need to lose weight, but I would like to be more fit. Having a healthy lifestyle and being able to live in moderation is far more important than a "diet" in my opinion.

It's only day two of the new year, but I'm already in the process of writing my first post of 2015. I managed to read 50 pages yesterday in Walter Isaacson's Albert Einstein biography and on Monday I plan to start my Couch to 5K training program. I started the year hungover, but the second day has been much better.

I might not be dieting for the new year, but I'm sure a lot of you are. I'm posting on of my favorite "diet" recipes that I make not because it's a diet recipe, but just because it tastes good. One of my friends was always on and off Weight Watchers all the time, which is how I discovered this recipe. I found it again online and adapted my recipe from Laaloosh. I added fruit and flax seeds to my muffins because I like the added complexity. I ended up soaking my fruit in rum because I wanted to make stollen for Christmas and then never got around to it. I needed to find another use for my fruit.

Thanks for stopping by. Hope you enjoy this recipe and hope to see you a lot more in 2015

Weight Watchers 3 point Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup milk (a little extra if adding flax seeds)
  • 2 Tbsp flax seeds (or more if desired)
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup dried fruit, soaked in a little dark rum
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  1. Soak oats and flax seeds in milk for about an hour. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Mix together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a small bowl.
  3. Add the applesauce, egg whites and vanilla to the oatmeal soak.
  4. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
  5. Fold in fruit very quickly and spoon into prepared muffin cups. Bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
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