Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Rustic Cabbage Soup

This week at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), we are saying goodbye to Heidi Swanson. We have cooked from her recipes for the  past six months, and it is time we move on to another chosen chef. I have not been cooking with Heidi's recipes as much as I wanted to, but I can always cook with her on our Potluck weeks. To say "Bon Voyage Heidi!", I've made her Rustic Cabbage Soup.



This soup is very easy to cook and do not take much time at all. Shredded cabbage, potatoes, white beans, onions and garlic are the ingredients used for this soup. For the stock, I've used Rapunzel vegetable stock bouillon. I've used canned butter beans. Heidi serves the soup with freshly shredded Parmesan cheese as the topping, of which I've omitted, preferring to eat it just as it is.



I made this soup for lunch, and it was a satisfying and lovely lunch. It is not often I had soup for lunch, and I would not mind making this again. 

Rustic Cabbage Soup
(source from 101cookbooks.com)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
a big pinch of salt
1/2 pound potatoes, skin on, cut 1/4-inch pieces
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
5 cups stock
1-1/2 cup white beans, precooked or canned (drained)
1/2 medium cabbage, cored and sliced into 1/4-inch ribbons

more good-quality extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Warm the olive oil in a large thick-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Stir in the salt and potatoes. Cover and cook until they are a bit tender and starting to brown a bit, about 5 minutes - it's o.k to uncover to stir a couple times. Stir in the garlic and onions and cook for another minute or two. Add the stock and the beans and bring the pot to a simmer. Stir in the cabbage and cook for a couple more minutes, until the cabbage softens up a bit. Now adjust the seasoning - getting the seasoning right is important or your soup will taste flat and uninteresting. Taste and add more salt if needed, the amount of salt you will need to add will depend on how salty your stock is.
Serve drizzled with a bit of olive oil and a generous dusting of cheese.


********

Out of the nine Heidi recipes which I've made, the most favourite has got to be this Kale Rice Bowl.

I love everything in this bowl!


To see what the other lovely ladies have made  to say Bon Voyage Heidi! please stop by IHCC. Starting from April, our new featured chef will be Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. You are welcome to join us! 


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Pithiviers

It is Tuesdays With Dorie week for Baking Chez Moi. Two recipes selected for this month, Black-and-White Marbled Madeleines which I have baked and posted here, and for this week it is Pithiviers. I have never made Pithiviers before, and Dorie's version is yummy!

Pithiviers, with puff pastry as the base and the top, sandwiched with the filling of frangipane and a layer of homemade prune jam spread on top of the frangipane. Very easy to make, especially when there's ready-made store-bought puff pastry stashed in the freezer!



My pithiviers is slightly smaller than the recipe states, as the frozen puff pastry I bought comes in 8" squares. Did not roll the pastry as they are already about 1/8 inch thick. You would need two sheets of puff pastry. I made the almond filling and prune jam the day before, keep refrigerated while the frozen puff pastry is left to thaw overnight in the fridge. I opted to use the dark rum over the vanilla extract for the prune jam. Both the almond filling and the prune jam are easy to make and takes only minutes.

Simply assemble the Pithiviers the next day. Place the smaller round of the pastry on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place the almond filling in the centre, and spread the prune jam over it. Brush the pastry with egg wash all around the filling, then top with the bigger piece of pastry. Press the edges together and seal. Brush the top with egg wash, then place in the fridge for at least 30 minute. Meanwhile preheat the oven at 450F. Remove the pithivier from the fridge, brush with egg wash once again, make some slits on top, and sprinkle with some sugar, of which I've used demerara sugar. Place in the oven, and immediately reduce the temperature to 375F. Bake until golden and puffy.

I did not seal the pastry well enough, and the almond filling leaked out, which is not a waste, as it bakes up around the pithiver, crispy and delicious! 







This Pithiviers are quite yummy. The prune jam and the almond filling are really good together. And I like it that it is not too sweet, with the crispy buttery pastry, makes it a delight to eat with a cup of warm tea.


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Quick-Pickled Carrots

It's Potluck week at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC). I've made Nigella Lawson's Quick-Pickled Carrots, recipe from her latest cookbook Simply Nigella. 

This is a really quick pickle to make, as it's name implies. The only "extra" work is to cut the carrots into matchsticks. Nigella's very own words "if I can summon the patience to cut carrots into julienne strips, then anyone can". 



The recipe states to use two large carrots equivalent to about 8 ounces total. I grabbed a pack of two large carrots from the organic store and each carrot already weigh 8 ounces each! So I use only one carrot, since the only pickle lover in my house is me! 

Slice the carrot into julienned strips, then place in a bowl. The pickling brine is made by boiling together apple cider vinegar, water, honey, salt, bay leaves, mustard seeds, fennel seeds and lightly crushed cardamom pods. Once the brine has come to a boil, pour it over the carrots, then leave for one hour or so to reach room temperature. Refrigerate for at least an hour before eating.

There is no sugar used at all, but honey is used instead. I added an extra tablespoon of honey as the pickle is quite sour. The carrots are crunchy, a little sour and salty. This would be a lovely accompaniment for roasted meat, I was thinking of Chinese roasted pork! This is a sour pickle, you can add more honey to taste, if you prefer a sweeter pickle.


Quick-Pickled Carrots
(adapted from "Simply Nigella", by Nigella Lawson)
makes approx 2 cups
2 large carrots (approx 8 ounces total), peeled
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
3/4 cup cold water
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons sea salt flakes or kosher salt
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
4 cardamom pods
1 x 2-cup preserving jar or any resealable jar with vinegar-proof lid

Peel the carrots and cut them into matchsticks, and put them into a non-metallic bowl or large measuring cup while you get on with the pickling liquid.
Put the vinegar, water, honey, salt, bay leaves, mustard, and fennel seeds into a saucepan. Crush or crack the cardamom pods and put them in, too. Bring to a boil, then take the pan off the heat, and stir to make sure that the salt is dissolved. Pour this liquid over the carrots and leave for about 1 hour to reach room temperature, then stash in the refrigerator for about 1 hour before eating.



I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs, theme for this week
March IHCC Potluck



and 

I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #15 hosted by 




Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Cheese Swirl Bread

A lovely soft white bread, swirled with Cheddar cheese. This fabulous bread comes from George Greenstein's book, Secrets Of A Jewish Baker. In the recipe, the cheese is mixed into the dough, but the author had also included the swirled version. Instead of mixing the cheese into the dough, the dough is rolled out, then scatter with the Cheddar cheese, and roll up, jelly-roll style. So that was what I made, his cheese swirl version.



Straightforward and easy bread to make. There's three methods given to make this bread ; by hand, using the food processor and the stand mixer. I opted for the stand mixer method. The recipe given for mixing in the stand mixer makes 3 loaves. I have scaled down to make only one loaf with further reduction of the salt. In the recipe, to make 3 loaves, a full tablespoon of salt is required, so to make one loaf, that would be 1/3 tablespoon which equals to 1 teaspoon, which I think would be too salty for such  a small loaf. So I have used only scant half teaspoon, which turns out perfect. 



This bread has lovely golden crust with soft crumbs. Makes a delicious sandwich bread, which we had with ham, eggs on a bed of lettuce green as the sandwich filling, spread with some of our favourite sauce ; mustard, cheesy mayo and chilli sauce. This is one fabulous bread!


Recipe has been scaled down to make only 1 loaf, with my changes listed in blue.
Cheese Swirl Bread
(adapted from Secrets Of A Jewish Baker, by George Greenstein)
makes 1 loaf (8-1/2" x 4-1/2" loaf pan)
Sponge :
1 cup warm water
1 package active dry yeast (I use 2 teaspoons instant yeast)
1-1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (I use bread flour)

Dough :
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter or shortening (I use salted butter)
1 cup grated Cheddar cheese
1/3 cup skim milk powder
1-1/2 to 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (I use bread flour)
1/3 tablespoon salt (I use scant half teaspoon)
vegetable oil or melted butter for brushing loaves
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for topping (omitted)

Sponge : In the mixing bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and allow to soften. Add the flour and mix at first speed until smooth. Cover and allow to rise until doubled in size (30 to 45 minutes). (Use the beater hook)

Dough : Stir down the sponge with one or two rotations of the beater, then add the sugar, butter, milk powder, 1-1/2 cups of the flour, and the salt. Mix until the ingredients are incorporated. Run the machine at first speed until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl. If the dough is too soft, add more flour 1/4 cup at a time.
Remove and scrape down the beater and insert the dough hook. Run at first speed until the dough forms up on the hook and comes away from the sides of the bowl (8 to 10 minutes). You can use second speed for the last few minutes to strengthen the gluten.
Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and turn to coat. Cover and allow to rise until puffy (15 to 20 minutes). (at this point, I allow the dough to rise until doubled in size)

Shaping : Flatten the dough, sprinkle with the Cheddar cheese, and form up jelly-roll style. Place into a 8 or 9-inch loaf pan, seam down. Cover with a flour-dusted cloth (I use oiled cling wrap) and proof in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in size, or the loaves rise 1 inch above the tops of the pans (45 to 60 minutes). Brush the tops with oil or melted butter and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese (if using). Punch 3 holes in the top of each loaf with an ice pick or a skewer. 

Baking : Preheat the oven to 375F. Bake with steam* until the bread is golden brown and emits a hollow sound when thumped on the bottom with your fingertips (25 to 35 minutes).

*Bake with steam : Place an empty roasting pan or other heavy pan on the floor of the oven 5 to 10 minutes before baking, so it gets hot. When ready to bake, place the bread in the oven and carefully toss 6 to 8 ice cubes into the hot pan, and immediately close the oven door.


I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #15 hosted by 




Monday, March 20, 2017

Banana Loaf

This month, at The Cake Slice Bakers, the four recipes selected from the book World Class Cakes by Roger Pizey, which we are currently baking from are ;

Thierry Busset's Ten Layer Coffee Chocolate Cake
Greek Coconut Cake
Banana Loaf
Mandarin, Polenta, and Macadamia Cake


Members can choose any of those cakes to bake, and my choice is Banana Loaf.


I did make a few changes to the recipe. The changes are :
  1. I used 2 medium ripe bananas for the batter, and one more for the topping. Recipe indicated two bananas, one each, for the batter and topping.
  2. I reduced the sugar to half cup, original recipe uses 1 cup. By reducing the sugar, the sweetness was just right, without being overly sweet.
  3. I've used only 1/3 cup of ground hazelnuts instead of 2/3 cup, replacing the other 1/3 cup with all-purpose flour (an addition to the 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour indicated in the recipe).
  4. Instead of sour cream, I've used yoghurt.
  5. I've added 2 tablespoons of rum to the batter.
Recipe indicated to use a small baking tin, size 7in x 3-1/4in x 3-1/4in, lined with parchment paper. However, when the batter was ready, it was just too much and from the looks of it, could not fit into the small pan. I then used a 8-1/2in x 4-1/2in loaf pan, and filled it with the batter. Even with this bigger sized pan, the batter fills up almost to the top level of the pan. I was keeping my fingers crossed that the batter would not spill over during baking! 

I baked the loaf at 350F for 57 minutes (the books says to bake at 325F for 45 to 50 minutes). It smells wonderful during baking, with the lovely aroma of the bananas and the rum. What a relief that the batter did not spill over. It rises a little, then it stopped rising, and continue on to bake to a lovely golden colour.



A delicious banana loaf. Moist, soft tender crumbs, not as dense as some banana loaves are, and the sweetness was just right. I am so glad to have reduced the sugar.



A slice (or two!) is wonderful with a cup of tea or coffee. We like this Banana Loaf and I will be making this again when I have some extra bananas.


Friday, March 17, 2017

Caramel Pork Ribs

Cook the Book Fridays recipe pick for this week is Caramel Pork Ribs. CtBF is an online group of lovely bloggers who are currently cooking from David Lebovitz's cookbook, My Paris Kitchen.

To make this dish, the caramel must be prepared first. There's beer and bourbon in the caramel sauce, which already sounds so delicious! Granulated sugar is cooked in a large pot (one that can be used in the oven, with a cover) to a caramel, colour similar to dark maple syrup, and it will be smoking, but take care not to burnt it. My caramel turns out great. It was smoking, with the colour of dark maple syrup. I removed the pot from the heat, then add the brown sugar and beer. Mixture will sizzle, then harden. 

Let the mixture cool down a bit, then add the rest of the ingredients; bourbon, cider vinegar, ketchup, ginger, soy sauce, harissa, Dijon mustard, pepper and the ribs. Return the pot to the stove and let come to a boil, turning the ribs now and then to coat with the sauce. Cover and place in the oven to bake for about 1-1/2 to 2 hours. I baked the ribs for 1 hour 45 minutes, turning the ribs every half hour, then remove the cover and continue to bake for another 40 minutes, turning halfway.



The caramel sauce has thickened a bit, with the ribs coated gloriously with the sauce. The ribs are tender and soft, and have soaked up the flavours of the sauce. I thought that this dish is delicious, but it is a little too sweet for me. The next time I would probably either omit the brown sugar or go easy on it.



I served this Caramel Pork Ribs with rice and a green bean dish. The son loves it. There was some leftover, which reheated well the next day, and was finished off by the two men in my house.

The recipe can be found here, or from My Paris Kitchen, on page 187.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Black-And-White Marbled Madeleines

It's Tuesdays With Dorie week, the two bakes for this month are Pithiviers and Black-And-White Marbled Madeleines. I've chosen to make the madeleines for this week. 

Easy to make and delightful to eat. Before making the batter, chill the greased madeleine moulds in the fridge until needed. Once the batter is made, spoon into the cooled madeleines moulds, then keep refrigerated for at least an hour before baking. Some minor changes I've made was to use orange zest instead of lime zest, and I've reduced the sugar to only 1/4 cup (since the yield is only for 12 madeleines).  The chocolate batter is very thick and did not budge much when I made the marble swirl with a small knife. I made ten madeleines with swirls and left the other five un-swirled as what Dorie says, "they'll bake with a dark bull's eye".



I baked the madeleines for 13 minutes, though I think they could have done baking at 11 minutes or so, as mine has some cracks at the top, maybe I over baked them a little, even at 13 minutes. And instead of 12, I got 15 madeleines. They pop out of the moulds very easily. 



According to Dorie, "with the chocolate grounding them a bit, the madeleines don't develop the hefty bump that their plainer relatives do", but mine has high bumps!



These madeleines are kinda addictive when eaten while still warm, minutes right after baking, with a cup of warm tea. I love the light crisp crust all around and spongy crumbs inside, with bites of the two different flavours, vanilla and chocolate. Makes a lovely yummy tea time treat! 

Stop by Tuesdays With Dorie to see what the other bakers bake for this week.

I'm sharing this post with Cookbook Countdown #15 hosted by Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Stir-Fried Chopped Choy Sum

Choy Sum is one of my most favourite vegetable. It is great with noodles, in soups, and stir-fry as a dish in itself. This recipe is quite different in the way it is prepared. The choy sum is first blanced briefly in hot boiling water, refresh in cold water, then squeeze dry as much as possible. Chop them up finely and they are ready to be stir-fry.




Even the stir-fry method is a little different. The chopped choy sum are heated up in a dry wok, stir to release any water, add chopped chillies and a pinch of salt, and stir till the wok is no longer moist. The choy sum is then removed to a plate while the wok is heated up once more. Add some oil to the heated wok, saute the chopped ginger and garlic till fragrant. Stir in the choy sum, season to taste with some salt, stir till everything is hot and smells nice. Stir in the sesame oil, dish out and serve.

This method is very different from my regular way of cooking choy sum, which I stir-fry without any blanching or sauteeing the veggie to release it's moisture. I was afraid that the veggie would be overcooked with those extra steps above, but I find that the choy sum cooked this way is quite delicious. Great as part of a meal with rice, with some other main dish.


Stir-Fried Chopped Choy Sum
(adapted from Every Grain Of Rice by Fuchsia Dunlop)
salt
1-1/2 tbsp cooking oil, plus more for blanching and for seasoning the wok
375gm choy sum
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh red chilli
1 tsp finely chopped ginger
1 tsp finely chopped garlic
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1-2 tbsp chilli oil (optional)

Bring a large panful of water to a boil. Add some salt, and a small dash of cooking oil. Add the choy sum and blanch for about 30 seconds to wilt the leaves. Refresh immediately under the cold tap and squeeze out as much water as possible. Chop the choy sum finely and evenly.
Heat a dry wok over a high flame. Add the chopped choy sum and stir it to release any excess water as steam. As the choy sum loses its water, add the chilli and a good pinch of salt. Continue to stir until the surface of the wok is no longer moist and the steam is rising more slowly, then remove the choy sum from the wok and set aside.
Use a thick wad of kitchen paper to rub the surface of the wok with cooking oil and heat over a high flame to re-season. Then pour in the 1-1/2 tbsp cooking oil, swirl it around, then add the ginger and garlic, and stir-fry briefly until you can smell their fragrance.
Add the choy sum and stir-fry to incorporate, seasoning with salt to taste. When everything is hot and smells wonderful, remove from the heat, stir in the sesame oil and the chilli oil, if using, and serve.


I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #15 hosted by 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Black Bean Chicken

A simple, quick and easy chicken stir-fry with delicious flavours. Recipe is from the fabulous book, Every Grain Of Rice by Fuchsia Dunlop. According to the author, this dish is from the Hunanese firework-producing city of Liuyang. While in the original recipe, the chicken is deep-fried, here, the author has simply stir-fry the chicken pieces to keep its succulent mouthfeel. The seasonings remain the same as the original recipe.




I have cooked this dish twice, the first time, I've used chicken thigh with a combination of chicken breast meat. The photo above is cooked with all chicken breast meat. The author mentioned that fermented black beans are among the most distinctive Hunanese seasonings, especially when used in combination with chillies. In this recipe, there's a teaspoon or two of ground chilli used, do not skip that, as it really brings out the flavour of this dish. The next time instead of using only ground chilli, I would mix some coarse chilli flakes as well. Served with some stir-fry veggie and a soup, with fluffy white rice, makes such a satisfying meal.


Black Bean Chicken
(Every Grain Of Rice by Fuchsia Dunlop)
2 boneless chicken thighs (225gm)
1 smallish green pepper, or 1/2 each red and green pepper
3 tbsp cooking oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
an equivalent amount of ginger, peeled and sliced
2 tbsp fermented black beans, rinsed and drained
1-2 tsp ground chillies, to taste
salt
2 tbsp finely sliced spring onion greens
1 tsp sesame oil

For the marinade :
1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
1/4 tsp salt
1-1/2 tsp potato flour
1 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp dark soy sauce

Cut the chicken into 1-2cm cubes and put into a bowl. Stir together the marinade ingredients, add to the chicken and mix well.
Cut the pepper(s) into small squares to match the chicken. Heat a wok over a high flame, add 1 tbsp of the oil, then the peppers and stir-fry until hot and slightly cooked, but still crisp. Remove and set aside.
Reheat the wok over a high flame. Add the remainder of the oil, swirl it around, then tip in the marinated chicken and stir-fry to separate the pieces. When they have separated and are starting to become pale, add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry until they smell delicious. Add the black beans and stir a few times until you can smell them. Then add the ground chillies and return the pepper to the wok. Continue to stir-fry until the chicken is just cooked through and everything is sizzlingly delicious, seasoning with salt to taste. Then stir in the spring onions and, off the heat, the sesame oil. Serve.


I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #15 hosted by 




Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Spaghettini With Egg & Toasted Parsley Breadcrumbs

This week at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), it's March Monthly Featured Ingredient Challenge : Pasta. I've made one of Tessa Kiros's pasta recipe, from the book Tessa Kiros : The Recipe Collection. Spaghettini With Egg & Toasted Parsley Breadcrumbs recipe can also be found in her book Apples For Jam.



This is a simple and quick pasta meal to prepare. I made this for a weekday lunch and it is a very filling meal. For the breadcrumbs, I've used dried breadcrumbs instead of soft white bread. And have used cilantro leaves instead of parsley. Makes a nice lunch, and my son likes it.


Spaghettini With Egg & Toasted Parsley Breadcrumbs
(Tessa Kiros - The Recipe Collection, & from Apples For Jam)
Serves 4
4 eggs, at room temperature
4 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra to serve
300gm (10-1/2 oz) spaghettini
60gm (2-1/4 oz) soft white bread, broken up into coarse crumbs
2 anchovy fillets packed in oil, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 heaped tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
finely grated zest of 1/2 a lemon
grated Parmesan cheese, to serve

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add the eggs and boil for 4 minutes. Fish out the eggs with a slotted spoon, run under cold water and peel off the shells. Put the eggs in a large serving bowl and mash up into small bits with a fork. Add a couple of tablespoons of the olive oil and a little salt. (At the end of 4 minutes, the egg yolks are still runny, so I boil a couple of eggs more a little longer, about 7 minutes).

Add the spaghettini to the boiling water and cook, following the packet instructions. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a non-stick frying pan, then add the breadcrumbs, anchovies and garlic and saute over medium heat until the breadcrumbs are golden and crisp. Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley and lemon zest.

Drain the spaghettini, keeping some of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the egg with a few spoonfuls of the cooking water. Toss through very well and serve immediately. Drizzle each serving with some olive oil and scatter parsley breadcrumbs over the top. Pass around the Parmesan, and some black pepper for those who like it.


I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), theme for this week
March Monthly Featured Ingredient Challenge : Pasta


and

I'm linking this post with Cookbook Countdown #15 hosted by 



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