Monday, December 12, 2016

chicken, date, almond & olive bread pudding

Sometimes I think I would be great on Chopped. Then I realize I'd probably be that fool that just makes bread pudding out of everything. Bread pudding may not be a good cooking competition strategy, but it's a good life strategy. One of my favorite things to eat for dinner, and a great way to reduce food waste by using up bread and anything else you might have in your pantry. The pantry item that inspired me this time was dates. So sweet, yet they go so well with savory ingredients. This Moroccan-inspired bread pudding is a flavor festival... savory, sweet, a bit of tartness from goat cheese, rich spices. It's got the familiar comfort of a Midwestern casserole with the flavors of the mid-east. 

Chicken, Date, Almond & Olive Bread Pudding
-1 Tablespoon olive oil
-1 lb. ground chicken
-3 shallots, chopped
-1/2 teaspoon cumin
-1/2 teaspoon turmeric
-1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
-salt and pepper to taste
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-1/2 cup chopped dates
-1/2 cup almonds, chopped
-1/2 cup green pitted olives, chopped
-small handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
-about 6 cups of crusty bread cubes (from a small loaf or about half a large loaf)
 -6 large eggs
-3 cups milk
-4 oz. goat cheese

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. In a large skillet, cook the chicken in the olive oil until no longer pink. add the shallots and spices and cook until the shallots are just translucent and the spices are fragrant. Stir in the garlic and remove from heat. Stir in the dates, olives, almonds and cilantro. Set aside. Place the bread cubes in a greased 9" x 13" casserole dish. Spread the chicken mixture over the bread evenly, slightly tossing to combine. Beat the eggs with the milk and pour over the bread and meat. Press down lightly so all the bread is wet. Let sit 5-10 minutes so the bread can soak up the egg mixture. Crumble the goat cheese evenly over the top. Bake for 40-45 minutes until edges and top are brown and the middle is set. Serve hot with fresh cilantro for garnish.

Related recipes from the archives:
Fennel Bacon Bread Pudding
Savory Bread Pudding with Raisins and Bacon
Sausage Fennel Bread Pudding
Savory Stuffed French Toast
Baked Shrimp with Feta
Delicious Dubai
Baked Blue Cheese Fig Balls
Moroccan Lamb Meatballs with Figs
Fig Pistachio Goat Cheese Spread

Saturday, November 19, 2016

szechuan celery tofu stir-fry

I've followed Fuchsia Dunlop on Twitter for years, and have heard her books are great. I can't buy every cookbook I want, though, I'm just not that much of a baller. A few weeks ago I finally got a library card again, and went through my Amazon Wishlist to reserve a bunch of the cookbooks I've been meaning to check out (see what I did there?) Dunlop's Every Grain of Rice will have to become a permanent addition to my collection. It's full of really great information and inspiring recipes. One that caught my eye was a celery beef stir-fry. Celery is usually overlooked, thought of mostly as a background flavor or a kid's snack. I love the flavor of celery, and I love chopping it... it's so satisfying! Anyone? I decided to go meatless for mine, though I do plan on trying Fuchsia's recipe soon. This was quick and pleasantly spicy, the celery adding crunch and it's distinct flavor.

Szechuan Celery Tofu Stir-fry

-3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
-1 Tablespoon whole Section peppercorns
-1 block extra firm tofu weighted and drained on paper towels, cut into 2-inch sticks
-2 Thai red chiles, sliced thin
-4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
-4 stalks celery cut into 2-inch sticks
-3 Tablespoons soy sauce
-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
-1 teaspoon sesame oil

In a large skillet heat the oil and peppercorns over medium heat, let them sizzle for about 1-2 minutes until they are very fragrant, but not burnt. Use a slotted spoon to remove the peppercorns and discard, leaving the flavored oil. Add the tofu to the hot oil and cook on high heat, tossing (gently) often, until golden on all sides. Add the garlic and chile peppers, toss to combine and let sizzle about 30 seconds. Meanwhile, whisk the soy sauce, crushed red pepper and sesame oil together. Add the mixture and the celery to the pan. Cook, gently stirring or tossing often, for 3-5 minutes until the celery is just soft and everything is hot and well-Incorporated. Serve hot over rice. Serves 2 as a full meal.

Similar recipes from the archives:

Friday, November 11, 2016

tortellini casserole with acorn squash

I made this on election night to calm my nerves. Turns out I would need comfort food more than I thought :(
What a terrible time in American history. I am heartbroken for my country. And yes, I plan to take action to try and make this place better for people. I wish I could bake everyone a casserole. Take care of yourselves, friends.

Tortellini Casserole with Acorn Squash & Spinach

-4 strips bacon, cut into bite-size pieces
-2 chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
-1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
-1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
-1 medium yellow onion, chopped
-6 cloves garlic, minced, divided
-1 small acorn squash, peeled, seeded, cut into bite-sized cubes
-2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
-1 bag of fresh baby spinach, about 4 cups
-3 Tablespoons flour
-2 cups milk
-1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
-1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese + 1/2 cup for topping
-1 19 oz. pkg. frozen cheese tortellini, boiled according to directions

Preheat oven to 375ºF. in a large dutch oven or pot, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove bacon to drain on a paper towel, leaving 3 Tablespoons of the grease in the pot. Add the chicken and cook until no longer pink on all sides. Add the squash, onion and 1/2 of the garlic. Cook until the squash is just soft. Add the tomatoes, spinach and rest of the garlic and cook until the spinach is just wilted. Sprinkle the flour over everything and stir, cooking for a couple minutes. Add the milk and bring to a boil. Let boil 2 minutes until thickened, to a pot-pie like consistency. Remove from heat and stir in the cheeses. Gently stir in the tortellini so everything is combined. Pour into a buttered casserole dish and cook for 30 minutes until the cheese on top is browned.

More comfort food from the archives:

Friday, November 04, 2016

coconut peanut shrimp vegetable soup

Sometimes you have a bucket of shrimp heads in your freezer, amitrite? Well, I did for months, and it was finally time to do something with them. Stock of course, but then what to make with this flavorful stock? A flavorful soup... one of my favorite kinds of soups... the kind with coconut milk and peanut butter in it! I've posted a couple Thai peanut soups on the blog. This one is packed with vegetables, making it nutritious and hearty for the cooler weather. It warms you in all the ways... the heat from the chiles, the hot, creamy broth, the cheerful bright colors. 

Shrimp heads becoming delicious stock.

Coconut Peanut Shrimp & Vegetable Soup

-2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
-2 medium onions, roughly diced
-6 cloves garlic, minced, divided in half
-1 thumb sized piece of ginger, grated fine, divided in half
-3 stalks lemongrass, outer 3 layers removed, minced
-1 teaspoon curry powder
-1/2 teaspoon white pepper
-6 red Thai chiles, seeded and minced (leave some seeds if you want more heat)
-8 cups shrimp stock (or chicken or vegetable stock)
-1 can coconut milk
-1 cup creamy peanut butter
-1 cooked chicken breast, roughly chopped
-6 small white potatoes, cubed
-5 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch matchsticks
-1 Red bell pepper, cut into strips
-8 oz. oyster mushrooms, roughly chopped
-1 large bunch water spinach, lower stems removed, chopped into 20inch strips
-handful of cilantro, roughly chopped
-1/2 lb. peeled & deveined shrimp

In a Dutch oven or large pot, cook the onions in the oil until translucent. Add half the garlic, half the ginger and the lemongrass and cook until everything is softened, about 2-3 minutes. Add the curry powder, white pepper and chiles and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the shrimp stock and bring to a simmer. Add the coconut milk and peanut butter and bring back to a simmer, stirring well to incorporate. Add the chicken, potatoes and carrots and cook for 7-8 minutes. Add the mushrooms and bell pepper and cook another 7-10 minutes. Add the water spinach and cilantro and cook until wilted (it will shrink quite a bit, like regular spinach). Add the shrimp, stir in and cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat and serve with cilantro and lemon or lime wedges.

Related posts from the archives:

Friday, October 28, 2016

Italian shrimp & grits

My boyfriend is not from the South, but for some reason he always seems to have the ingredients for shrimp & grits on hand. I am not complaining. While figuring out dinner earlier this week, we realized, once again, the best option to use what we already had was shrimp & grits, again. We decided to change it up a bit. So, based on the fact that the sausage we had was Italian, we gave the classic dish a bit of Mediterranean flair. It's a pretty obvious "twist," really... grits...polenta...

Italian Shrimp & Grits
for the shrimp:
1/2 lb. raw peeled & deveined shrimp
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh shopped oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground sage
2 Tablespoons olive oil

for the grits:
2 cups Bob's Red Mill Corn Grits Polenta
1 teaspoon salt
7 cups water
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1.5 cups grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste

for the sausage & vegetables:
3 Tablespoons Olive oil, divided
5 fresh Italian chicken sausages
1 small onion, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground sage
1/4 cup dry white wine
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 small zucchini, sliced into bite-size pieces
1 Tablespoons chopped fresh Oregano

Marinate the shrimp: Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and let marinate while you cook the rest of the meal.

For the grits/polenta: In a large pot, bring water and salt to a boil. Slowly stir in grits. Reduce heat to low and add the garlic powder. Stir frequently, cooking for about 30 minutes. Stir in olive oil and cheese. Serve hot with shrimp and sausage.

In a large pot or dutch oven, cook the sausages in 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil until browned on all sides. Remove and set aside. Add rest of olive oil to pot and add the onions and peppers. Cook until translucent and starting to brown. add the sage and red pepper flakes and cook about 3o seconds until fragrant. Add wine, scraping up browned bits from the pot. Cook until wine is evaporated. Add the tomatoes, zucchini, garlic and oregano. Cook until the zucchini is just tender, about 5 minutes. Chop up the sausage and add it back in. Heat through. Add the shrimp, marinade and all, and stir in, cooking another 3-5 minutes until shrimp is opaque and pink. Serve hot over polenta.

Similar recipes from the archives:
Baked Shrimp with Feta
Bacon-wrapped Shrimp
Red Bean & Shrimp Cajun Tacos
Chipotle Shrimp Tacos with Jicama Mango Salsa
Italian Sausage Balls with Gnocchi
Chicken Sausage Balls with Fennel and Waffled Polenta
Salsiccia Balls with Peppers

Friday, October 21, 2016

creamy mushroom and thyme linguine

Am I the only one who craves mushrooms and thyme regularly? Surely not. They are so delicious together! This is a pretty simple pasta dish. The only time-consuming part is prepping all the mushrooms. If you don't wanna do all that, you could just substitute pre-cleaned, pre-sliced ones. I like the variety of mushrooms, though... gives the dish a bit more flavor and depth than it would have with just one kind of mushroom. Also, I used whole-wheat linguine. I don't normally like whole wheat pastas, but they do go well with the right sauces. This sauce is earthy and creamy, and I thought it worked with the slightly nutty taste of the whole-wheat pasta.

Creamy Mushroom & Thyme Linguine

-16 oz. whole grain linguine
-2 Tablespoons olive oil
-1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
-2 shallots, finely chopped
-4 garlic cloves, minced, divided
-3 portabella mushroom caps, cleaned & cubed
-16 oz. button mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
-1 cup oyster mushrooms, cleaned and cut into bite-size pieces
-1 cup shiitake mushrooms, cleaned cut into bite-size pieces
-2 Tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, divided
-1/4 cup dry white wine
-1/4 cup flour
-2 cups milk
-1 cup grated Romano cheese
-salt and pepper to taste

Cook the linguine to al dente according to package instructions. reserve some of the cooking water, just in case. Drain, cool with water and set aside.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large dutch oven or pot. Cook the shallots and half the garlic until translucent and just starting to brown. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring often until they have released all their liquid, then keep cooking until they are almost completely dry again... about 10-15 minutes. Add the thyme, rest of the garlic and white wine. Cook until all the wine is absorbed/evaporated, about 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms and stir, cooking about 2-3 minutes. Pour in the milk, stirring and scraping the bottom until it comes to a boil. Turn off heat and stir in cheese and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Gently toss with pasta,  check for seasoning again, and if it's too thick, stir in a splash of the pasta cooking water. Serve immediately. Makes like 6 dinner servings.

Related posts from the archives:
Chanterelle Andouille Risotto
Homemade Pasta with Morel Mushrooms
Mushroom Soup and Gougeres
Cider Bourbon Cocktail for Fall
Caramelized Leeks and Morel Tart
Fettuccine with Tuna and Capers
Walnut Ricotta Pesto
Chanterelle-Stuffed Gnocchi
Bacon Corn Pesto with Pierogies
Pasta with Anchovies, Garlic & Eggs
Pumpkin Risotto with Vanilla Scallops

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

new york

I haven't been to New York since 2001. Lots can change in 15 years. Back then I was just out of college, and hadn't traveled much. I wasn't yet obsessed with food...we chose restaurants based on their pop culture connections... Hello Deli from the Dave Letterman show, the diner from Seinfeld, A deli with sandwiches named after famous New Yorkers. This time food was the center of our wanderings. I am more star-struck by chefs and amazing dishes now. One thing hasn't changed. I am still completely smitten with this city. Great people, great energy, always something to do, look at, talk about, taste... I *heart* New York!

First things first...RAMEN. I love St. Louis, I really really do... but we are lacking in TRADITIONAL ramen. Our first meal in NY was at Ippudo West. I have to confess, my BF and I had been to several ramen places here in STL, and he was disappointed every time. I thought he was being overly-picky. Now that I've tasted how traditional ramen is supposed to taste, at Ippudo, I understand his pickyness. This ramen was otherworldly. Rich broth, milky and unctuous with glistening pork fat. The noodles had a perfectly al-dente texture. The meat was savory and the eggs were perfectly gooey. I could not get enough. Wow. I have seen the ramen light. I am transformed.

The appetizers we got at Ippudo were fantastic, too. Shishito peppers with yes dipping salt and Fried octopus with matcha dipping salt. Both were addicting. I love the idea of dipping salts instead of sauces. I hope it becomes a trend (I hope my doctor isn't reading this...)

Another thing New York has that is harder to find in St. Louis... great bagels. We went to Russ & Daughters Cafe for some bagels and smoked fish. The classic bagel and lox was dreamy. 
The Super Heebster was fun and a flavor win: whitefish and baked salmon salad, wasabi-infused fish roe, horseradish, dill cream cheese on bagel toast. Super, indeed!
I loved the look of Russ & Daughters cafe, too. Such a gorgeously cute place... all white marble and old woods and the servers wearing pharmacists jackets. 

Alas, R&D is more about their smoked fish than they are about bagels (though they do make their own). So we sought out the best bagels where we were staying in Astoria, Queens. After some research we went to Astoria Bagel Company. Just look at that chewy, golden beauty. So fresh and scrumptious. Check it out if you're in area. Also in Astoria (but I didn't get any decent photos), look for the King of Tacos taco truck outside the CVS. We pretty much stopped there every night, because they are open late and the tacos are seriously top-notch.

OF COURSE we had to get classic, foldable New York slices. Joe's Pizza was just what the pizza doctor ordered. 

Fishs Eddy is my dinnerware Mecca. I could spend all day there, surrounded by plates and kitchen gadgets and dish towels. Some funny, some gorgeous, all of it interesting. Look for new props in my photos soon :)

 New York Loves Brunch. I, too, love brunch. So we brunched! Above are the brisket bao buns at Momofuko Saäm Bar. I was so excited to finally eat a David Chang joint, and I was not disappointed. The bao buns were so fluffy with such flavorful fillings.
 The shrimp and grits had XO sauce and flash-fried baby kale and were such smart blend of southern comfort food and bold Asian flavors. 

We also brunched at Jeepney, a super-cool Filipino restaurant. Pro-tip: Get the bottomless brunch... so many great boozy brunch drinks, as many as you want! I got the Kare Kare Fried Chicken with peanut butter gravy and pickled green beans. PEANUT BUTTER GRAVY. Swoon.

NYC is sweet. Literally. I got some of the legen-dairy cereal milk soft serve at Milk Bar (photo at top of post) and this Salty Pimp at Big Gay Ice Cream. Quirky but appropriate name. Salted caramel, chocolate, creamy soft serve. If this thing drank, it would be out of a chalice.

Also, Waffles & Dingus! Funny name, glorious fresh waffles. 

During our trip, we learned that Carnegie Deli will be closing permanently at the end of this year. We had planned on going to a classic deli, so knowing this was our last chance to eat at this time-honored landmark made our decision easy. The pickles were honestly my favorite part of the meal. I love a good half-sour. 
The Reuben was silly big. I could only manage to eat 1/3. It was the last day of our trip, so I was kind of burnt out on indulgent foods. Well, I did still have room for the blueberry cheesecake, though. Yum!

Oh, New York. I can't wait to get back to you! Was there anything we missed out on? Leave a comment with your favorite New York eats! 

Friday, September 23, 2016

grilled brussel sprout naan pizza

Did you guys know that naan bread makes amazing weeknight pizza crust? You know, because you can just throw your toppings on, heat it through, and have a "pizza" in less than 30 minutes. Tonight was a lovely night for grilling and sauvignon blanc. It's still quite warm out, but a few leaves have fallen, so this pizza has a touch of fall with walnuts and Brussels sprouts.

Grilled Brussels Sprout Naan Pizza with Walnuts, 
Goat Cheese and Spicy Honey Drizzle (whew)
-1/4 cup honey
-1 small red Chile, chopped fine
-zest of 1 lemon
-1/2 lb. Brussels sprouts, stems removed, sliced thin
-3 garlic cloves, chopped
-1/2 cup walnuts
-1/2 teaspoon curry powder
-1/4 teaspoon turmeric
-1/4 teaspoon chili powder
-1/4 teaspoon black pepper
-1 Tablespoon butter
-1 Tablespoon vegetable or Walnut oil
-6 oz. goat cheese

Make the honey drizzle: heat the honey and Chile in a small sauce pan over low heat for about 2 minutes. turn off heat and stir in lemon zest. Let sit while you prepare the pizzas.

Prepare the grill: light charcoal in a starter chimney. When the charcoal is mostly gray and has stopped flaming, distribute hot coals in half of the grill base, so you can do indirect grilling on the other half. 

Place a cast iron skillet on the grill directly over the coals and add the butter and oil. When butter is melted, add the walnuts and spices to the pan. Cook until just fragrant. Add the sliced Brussels sprouts and cook until bright green and just barely soft, about 4-5 Minutes. Remove from heat. 

Brush the Naan with oil on both sides. Evenly distribute the Brussels sprout mixture on the 2 naan breads. Break up the goat cheese into small hunks and place evenly on the pizzas. Place the pizzas on the cool side of the grill, close the lid and let cook 4-5 minutes. Turn the pizzas 180º and cook for another 4-5 minutes, until crust is crisp but not charred, and cheese is slightly melted. Drizzle with spicy honey and serve hot!

Related posts from the archives:

Friday, September 16, 2016

rice krispy kremes

I work in an office where we celebrate every one's birthday. At the beginning of the year everyone writes 2 or 3 of their favorite treats on a slip of paper and we all draw some one's name. I drew my boss's name, and his requests were Rice Krispie Treats and Krispy Kreme Donuts. Not much fun for someone who likes to make things from scratch and be creative in the kitchen, but I had to grant his birthday sweets wishes... so I combined them! It was too perfect... like, duh, the metamorphosis of the two was inevitable.

So, not really a recipe... I just made the classic Rice Krispie Treats recipe and spread it out in a single layer about 1-inch thick. After it cooled a little, I used a biscuit cutter and a small circle cutter to make donut shapes. Then I dipped them in a copycat Krispy Kreme glaze (recipe here) and added sprinkles. They turned out adorable, and were a hit with my coworkers.

Chocolate glazed!

So cute!

Friday, September 09, 2016

succotash casserole with biscuit top

My garden surprised me. I had given up on it due to disappearing tomatoes (deer? squirrels? aliens??) and non-producing pepper plants. But the other evening as I was mowing I saw a bounty of poblano peppers and even a couple little tomatoes and some chile peppers! Praise Be!

Between my garden  miracle and the last of the summer corn at the grocery store, I knew I needed to make something to honor the end of summer (and celebrate my electric bill being slashed in half for the fall/winter). I came up with this succotash casserole with a biscuit top. It has summery flavors... bright, sweet, a little spicy, but with the warm autumnal comfort that casseroles evoke.

Succotash Casserole with Biscuit Top
-4 medium yellow potatoes, peeled and diced
-3 strips of thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
-1/2 large red onion, diced
-2 teaspoons seasoned salt (I used Lawry's low-sodium)
-3 Tablespoons all purpose flour
-2 cups chicken stock
-1/2 cup milk
-2 cups fresh corn (from 3 ears)
-1 large poblano chile, or 2 small, chopped fine
-1 medium tomato, chopped
-12 oz. frozen baby lima beans
-Salt and pepper to taste

Crust: (borrowed from Serious Eats)
-1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and refrigerated
-1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
-2 teaspoons baking powder
-1 teaspoon salt
-3/4 cups milk

Make the filling: Bring water to boil in a 4-5 qt. dutch oven. Add some salt and cook the potatoes until just fork tender, about 6-8 minutes. Drain and set aside. Add the bacon to the dutch oven and cook until crisp. Remove the bacon to a paper towel, leaving the grease in the pot. If needed, add more cooking oil so that there is 3 Tablespoons of oil in the dutch oven. Add onion and seasoned salt and cook until just translucent. Sprinkle flour over onions and stir, cooking for about 2-3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and milk and let come up to a simmer, stirring and scraping the bottom to get any brown bits. Remove from heat. Add the potatoes, bacon, corn, poblanos, tomatoes and lima beans. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine well.

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Make the biscuits: Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and use a fork or pastry blender to quickly work the butter into the flour until the mixture has pea-sized crumbles. Add the milk and stir until just combined. Drop the dough in golf ball-sized heaps onto the top of the filling mixture in the dutch oven. Bake for about 40 minutes until the biscuits are golden on top. Let cool 10 minutes or so before serving.

Related posts from the archives:
Fry Bread with Maple Corn Hash
Bacon Corn Pesto with Pierogies
Gluten-Free Gnocchi with Corn & Tomatoes
Chicken Upside Down Cake
Tater Tot Pizza
Peach Ginger Scones
Potato Chicken Casserole with Lemon and Truffle Salt
Beer Bratwurst Mac 'n Cheese


Friday, September 02, 2016

bao buns with filipino fillings

My boyfriend has been instrumental in getting me to start blogging again. He loves to cook as much as I do, and in fact owns a restaurant and food truck here in St. Louis, Guerrilla Street Food. They are kind of a big deal. They serve modernized Filipino food. I've learned quite a bit about Filipino food in the past year, and I've fallen for it pretty hard. It's Island food, Asian food, Spanish food, American food, and more, all brilliantly combined into it's own unique cuisine. It's fusion before fusion became an overused buzzword.

These Bao/Siopao buns are a combination of Chinese Gua Bao, which are little taco-shaped steam buns usually filled with pork belly, and Siopao Asada, which are a street food popular in the Philippines consisting of a sweet barbecue pork encased in a fluffy white steamed bun.

We both made a different filling. I made Longganisa sausage, which is a sweet pork sausage that I've come to know from Guerrilla Street's longganisa corn dogs and from various dishes at their monthly brunch. I got a grinder attachment for Christmas and have been meaning to try out grinding my own meat and making sausage. This is a fresh, uncased version that's simple to make and very flavorful. There's a good amount of sugar in it so it gets really caramelized when you cook it. HECK YES.

He made a vegetarian version of Asado filling using jack fruit instead of pork. We heard that jack fruit is used a good substitute for pulled pork because of it's texture. It really did turn out great! We're not gonna give up pork, but jack fruit is a good option in it's own right.

It was so fun to "project-cook" with each other. It takes some planning, and good communication, and sharing and helping... and random dancing. I encourage everyone to get in the kitchen with their significant other. I hope these recipes or other recipes on my blog inspire these kind of kitchen adventures.

Bao Buns 
(makes 16)
-1 teaspoon active dry yeast
-1 teaspoon granulated sugar
-1/2 cup water
-1/2 cup all purpose flour
-1 1/2 cups cake flour
-1 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
-1/4 cup sugar
-1 Tablespoon vegetable shortening, melted
-1/4 teaspoon salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the yeast and sugar in warm water (105ºF-115ºF), and let it stand for 10 minutes or until foamy. In a separate bowl, sift together the flours and baking powder, stir in the 1/4 cup of sugar. Add the melted shortening and salt to the yeast mixture. With the dough hook, on low speed, add the flour mixture to the yeast mixture and mix until a dough forms. Continue to mix on medium speed to knead the dough for 5 minutes or so until it is smooth. Clean out bowl and oil it. Place the ball of dough back in the bowl, cover and let sit in a warm spot until it doubles in size, at least an hour, mine took almost 2.

Form the dough into a 16 inch log and slice into 16 1 inch pieces. Roll the pieces into balls, then flatten and roll out into ovals, approx 3" x 6".  Lightly brush the top of each oval with vegetable oil, fold lightly then set aside to rise, covered, for another 30 minutes to an hour.
Place each bun on a square of wax or parchment paper and place in a bamboo steamer to steam for 10 minutes. Work in batches, depending on the size of your steamer. Do not crowd the buns in the steamer. Serve immediately with the fillings of your choice, or allow to cool then freeze.

Longganisa filled buns

Fresh Longganisa Sausage 
(makes more than you'll need for the bao...keeps well and is great for breakfast)
-2 tablespoons soy sauce
-3 tablespoons rice vinegar
-1 Tablespoon Pernod
-½ cup brown sugar
-1 tablespoon salt
-2.5 lbs coarsely ground pork butt
-6-8 cloves garlic, minced
-2 teaspoons black pepper
-2 teaspoons smoked paprika

Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, Pernod, sugar and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, mix the pork with the garlic, pepper and paprika. Pour in the soy sauce mixture and work into the meat with your hands until well-incorporated. Cover and refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days. Form and cook as desired. For these buns, I did some free-form sausage shapes, patties and balls. Yep. Balls.

Cucumber Red Onion Quick Pickles
-1 cucumber
-1/2 medium red onion
-3 Tablespoons rice vinegar
-2 Tablespoons soy sauce
-2 teaspoons sugar
-2 Tablespoons minced cilantro
-5-6 pineapple sage leaves, chopped fine

Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and scrape the seeds out with a spoon. Slice thin and place in a shallow baking dish with the sliced onions. Combine the vinegar, soy sauce and sugar in a small bowl until the sugar is dissolved. Pour over the cucumbers and onions. Sprinkle the cilantro and sage over. Toss to combine everything. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Stir before serving.

Jack fruit Asado-filled buns
Jack fruit Asado
-2 20 oz. cans jack fruit, rinsed and drained, seeds removed
-1 Tablespoon vegetable shortening
-1 yellow onion, chopped
-6 garlic cloves, minced
-1/2 cup water
-3/4 cup Asado sauce (below)

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. In a shallow sauce pan or dutch oven over medium heat, melt the shortening. Add the onions and garlic and season with salt, cook until translucent. Add the jack fruit and water. Cover and cook for 10 minutes or until jack fruit can be pulled apart like pulled pork. Mash with a wire potato masher or pull apart using 2 forks. Do not over mash. It should look like pulled pork. Pour the Asado sauce over the jack fruit and stir, cooking another 2 or 3 minutes until well combined. Line a cookie sheet with foil and coat with vegetable oil. Spread the jack fruit evenly on the sheet and place in the oven. Roast for 20-30 minutes until the sauce has absorbed into the jack fruit and it has gotten darker and drier. Serve on steamed buns hot, with extra sauce, chopped scallions and chiles (if desired) or cucumber red onion quick pickles (see above).

Asado Sauce
-4 Tablespoons soy sauce
-4 Tablespoons sugar
-3 Tablespoons oyster sauce
-1 Tablespoon hoisin sauce

Combine all ingredients well. Serve on jack fruit Asado buns.

Related posts from the archives
Siopao pork steamed buns
Salsiccia balls with peppers and polenta
Pretzel balls with mustard rarebit
Mongolian beef balls
Wonton soup
Fish balls with sweet pork filling

Friday, August 26, 2016

potato chicken casserole with lemon and truffle salt

There was an awesome sale on potatoes over the weekend. I'm trying to reserve my meager funds for a couple of upcoming trips, so dinners are often based on what leftovers I have and what deals I can get at the grocery store. I had some leftover baked chicken and lots of potatoes. Casseroles are always an option for me. Hanging out at home, music playing, drinking martinis, wearing a sweet apron, making a creamy, comforting casserole? Dreamy.

Potato Chicken Casserole with Lemon & Truffle Salt

-5 medium red potatoes, peeled and cubed
-1.5 Tablespoons butter + 1 Tablespoon for the topping
-1.5 Tablespoons olive oil
-1 large shallot, chopped
-8 oz. white mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
-3 Tablespoons flour
-1 pint half & half
-3/4 teaspoons truffle salt
-1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
-1 lemon, zested and sliced thin
-1 large chicken breast, cooked, cubed
-1/4 cup bread crumbs
-1/4 cup finely shredded Pecorino cheese

Preheat oven to 400ºF

Bring a bot of water to a boil in a large pot or dutch oven. Boil the potatoes for 5-7 minutes until tender but not mushy. Drain, set aside.

Add butter and olive oil to the pot and cook the shallots until just just translucent. Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt and cook until the mushrooms are brown and shriveled a bit. Sprinkle the flour over everything and stir to coat, cooking about 30 seconds. Add the half & half and bring to a simmer until slightly thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in the rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon of the truffle salt, lemon zest, chicken and potatoes.

Pour potato mixture into a buttered 2.5 qt. casserole dish (approx. 7" x 11"). Combine the breadcrumbs, 1/4 teaspoon of truffle salt and pecorino cheese and sprinkle on top of the potato mixture. Cut 1 Tablespoon of butter into small pieces and dot the top of the casserole with them. Lay the lemon slices on top. Bake at 400ºF for about 20 minutes until crumbs are browned. Let rest a few minutes before serving.