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December 20, 2009

The Inconvenient Blizzard of 2009

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Blanketed
Blanketed
Blizzard 2009
Ribbon
global warming has visited Ashburn, VA and the rest of the Eastern USA/sarc

total snowfall in Ashburn: 20 - 21.5 inches

December 16, 2009

Bibingka And Suman

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Ginger Suman And Black And White Bibingka
ginger suman and black and white bibingka

Black And White Bibingka
black and white layered bibingka topped with coconut jam

Ginger Suman
suman with grated fresh ginger

This is my last post for the year and here are a few favorite Filipino snacks I'd like to share: black and white bibingka (actually purple and white), suman, and if you have the energy, puto bumbong.

For black and white rice bibingka and puto bumbong, it is important to use glutinous black rice. There are non-glutinous black rice which I am not recommending because they don't have the same consistency as glutinous and take forever to cook.

For the suman, you can add a variety of flavors after boiling the glutinous rice in coconut milk and sugar. Fresh grated ginger is extra yummy paired with a mug of hot cocoa, chai, or jasmine tea. Another delicious flavor is the combination of chopped peanuts and chocolate, adding either grated dark chocolate or dark cocoa powder. Wrap in banana leaves and steam for 30 minutes.

Black And White Layered Bibingka
1 cup black glutinous rice
1 cup white glutinous rice
3 cups water, halved
½ cup sugar, halved
2 cups coconut milk, halved
salt
banana leaves
coconut jam
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch round or square pan with banana leaves, set aside.
  • Cook the rice in 2 separate non-stick saucepans: Heat 1½ cups water, then add each of the rice. Let come to a full boil, lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk, sugar, and a pinch of salt and cook for 1 minute more. Spread the cooked black rice evenly on the lined pan. Spread the cooked white rice evenly on top of the black rice. Spread coconut jam all over the rice.
  • Bake for 30 minutes. Transfer the pan on the upper rack, turn on the broiler, and broil for a few minutes until jam is bubbly and browned. Do not let burn. Cool before slicing.
See you in 2010!

December 14, 2009

Cannellini Bean Soup With Kale

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Cannellini Bean Soup With Kale

Kale is my latest green leaf vegetable "flavor of the month". The dark green leaves are very good simply steamed and served with flaked sea salt and drizzled with lemon juice. They are also excellent baked into crispy chips, and of course added to soups. Kale not only tastes great, it's also very nutritious.

Bean soup with kale is the perfect comfort food during the cold months. It has been very cold the past 2 weeks; we had 6-inch snow 2 Fridays ago which took almost two weeks to melt completely. Where is this so-called global warming when you need it because we have 20°F nights for weeks now, our heater is working overtime and it's not even officially winter yet. It's okay though because I love the cold months, giving me a reason to cook and enjoy soups.

Cannellini Bean Soup With Kale
8 ounces dry cannellini beans
1 ounce pancetta or unsmoked thick sliced bacon, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
2 whole unpeeled garlic cloves
1 bay leaf
1 sprig each fresh rosemary and thyme
2 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
2 cups coarsely chopped de-ribbed kale
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • Clean the beans and soak overnight in cold water.
  • The next day, preheat oven to 250°F. Rinse the beans, drain, and set aside.
  • In a Dutch oven, heat the oil and saute pancetta until golden brown. Add the chicken broth, water, garlic, bay leaf, rosemary, thyme, and beans. Bring to a gentle boil, cover, transfer into the oven, and bake for 1½ hours. Remove from oven, uncover and gently stir in the salt, then add the tomatoes and kale. Cover and continue to bake for another half to one hour or until the beans are tender. Discard garlic, bay leaf, rosemary, and thyme.
  • Transfer into a serving bowl, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil if desired.

December 11, 2009

New York Deli Rye: BBAC #31

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New York Deli Rye Loaf
with onions, perfect for sandwiches or dipped in soups

The Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge Recipe #31: New York Deli Rye. I don't recall ever eating this type of rye bread; maybe I had although I'm not too sure.

Anyways, for this recipe, I divided the dough (with buttermilk but sans caraway seeds) and added cooked onion in one half and left the other half plain, let them rest on the the kitchen counter for 4 hours before putting them in the refrigerator overnight. The simple preparation and rising the next day took a total of about 5 and ½ hours. Both loaves are very tasty, slightly tangy, sweetish, and chewy. The one with onions make perfect sandwiches and I love it extra crispy dipped into soups, and the plain one is excellent toasted and buttered for breakfast. This recipe is another winner IMHO.

New York Deli Rye Loaf
New York Deli Rye Loaf
baked in a Pullman loaf pan

Rating:
flavor 5
texture 5
visual appeal 5
ease of preparation 5
performance 5
worth 5
Total: 30
Average: 5

It was not in my schedule to bake this week but when I read last Sunday's Pearls Before Swine comic strip featuring toasted rye bread I decided to make it since it's next in line to be baked anyway.

I love puns including this groaner, it made me roll my eyes and laugh at the same time.^__^


PBS

December 8, 2009

Sweet Potato Gnocchi With Chestnuts And Sage

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Sweet Potato Gnocchi With Chestnuts And Sage

I never imagined gnocchi could be so delicious. I've had these in restaurants many years ago and also bought ready made ones from the refrigerated section at the grocery stores, not too often, just a few times. They were not too exciting and I remember them being chewy. I never had them again until I saw a recipe of sweet potato gnocchi with chestnuts and sage in the Gourmet magazine October 2009 issue. Anything that has chestnuts gets my attention right away, and the article describing the gnocchi as pillowy soft made me salivate even more. And it's true, they are pillowy soft, a bit sweet, and the simple combination of butter, crispy fried sage leaves, and chestnuts enhances these little orange gems. These are the best gnocchi I ever had, gnocchi-ding! Sorry for the bad pun.:D

Sweet Potato Gnocchi With Chestnuts And Sage
recipe adapted from Gourmet magazine

1 pound yukon gold or white potato
¾ pound
sweet potato
1
large egg
½ teas
poon grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup
grated Parmesan cheese plus more for serving
cups all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
4 tablespoons
extra-virgin olive oil
1
cup sage leaves
1/3
cup roasted chestnuts, crumbled
2
tablespoons salted butter
  • Scrub both potatoes, place in a large pan, cover with water, and boil until soft (or bake them, if preferred). Cool potatoes slightly, then peel and force through ricer into a sheet pan, spreading in an even layer. Cool potatoes completely.
  • Lightly flour 2 or 3 large baking sheets or line with parchment paper.
  • Beat together egg, nutmeg, and salt in a small bowl.
  • Gather potatoes into a mound in sheet pan and form a well in center.
  • Pour egg mixture into well, then knead into potatoes. Knead in cheese and 1 and ¼ cups flour, then knead, adding more flour as necessary, until mixture forms a smooth but slightly sticky dough. Dust top lightly with some of the flour.
  • Cut dough into 6 pieces. Form 1 piece of dough into a half-inch-thick rope on a lightly floured surface. Cut rope into ½-inch pieces and lightly dust with flour. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough.
  • Turn a fork over and hold at a 45-degree angle, with tips of tines touching work surface. Working with one at a time, roll gnocchi down fork tines, pressing with your thumb, to make ridges on one side. Transfer gnocchi as formed to baking sheets. Occasionally rub clean and flour the tines as it gets sticky.
  • Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. Fry sage leaves in 3 batches, stirring, until they turn just a shade lighter and crisp (they will continue to crisp as they cool), about 30 seconds per batch. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Season lightly with salt. Fry the chestnuts briefly and transfer into a plate.
  • Add butter to oil in skillet and cook until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn off heat.
  • In a large pot, bring well salted water into a boil, add half the gnocchi and stir. Cook until they float to the surface, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to the skillet with butter sauce. Cook remaining gnocchi in same manner, transferring to skillet when cooked.
  • Heat gnocchi in skillet over medium heat, add chestnuts, and stir to coat. Transfer into a serving plate. Serve sprinkled with fried sage and grated Parmesan.
Gourmet note: Uncooked gnocchi can be frozen up to 1 month. Freeze in one layer on a baking sheet then transfer into resealable freezer bag/s. Do not thaw before cooking.

I buy Chinese roasted chestnuts from the Korean grocery. They are about a dollar for a 3.6-ounce packet, which contains more than enough for this recipe. In my opinion these small chestnuts from China are the best tasting and they are a bit sweeter than other varieties.

December 6, 2009

Basic Sourdough Bread: BBAC#30 Plus 5 More

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Sourdough Bread
The Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge #30: Basic Sourdough Bread

For this challenge I used wild yeast mother starter (mistakenly referred to as BARM in the book) to prepare the sourdough starter. I didn't use commercial yeast for the final dough and fermented at a shorter period so the bread doesn't become too tangy. The sourdough refers to the starter which is acidic but depending on individual taste, the breads made with sourdough starters can be very sour or not at all. I prefer the latter because I never liked breads that are very sour.

I added a very small amount of rye flour to the dough and I really love the flavor of the bread which has a hint of sweetness. I made a free standing loaf and a small pain d'epi with half of the dough and into the second half I kneaded crumbled blue cheese then baked them in three 5 x 2 inch loaf pans. The mini loaves are incredibly yummy and the aroma is just wonderful. The crumb is chewy and the crust is very crispy. I love these tiny loaves. I started eating a large piece that I tore off from one of the loaves right after photographing them and ended up devouring the whole loaf while uploading the photos into my laptop. Yes, the bread is thaaat good. Mini sourdough loaf with blue cheese rocks!

Sourdough Epi
Sourdough Epi
shaping pain d'epi needs more practice

Mini Sourdough Loaves With Blue Cheese
the middle part of the mini loaves had an enormous oven spring; they look like toy cars, don't they

Mini Sourdough Loaf With Blue Cheese
mmmmm

Rating:
flavor 5
texture 5
visual appeal 5
ease of preparation 5
performance 5
worth 5
Total: 30
Average: 5

==================================================================

I continued baking while on "vacation" from this blog and here are the photos and ratings:

#29 Pugliese
BBAC29 Pugliese
another flavorful bread from the book although crumb is not as open as I would have liked; the slices make very nice appetizer toasted and drizzled with black truffle-flavored olive oil, then topped with lemon zest and chiffonade of mint

Rating:
flavor 5
texture 3
visual appeal 5
ease of preparation 5
performance 4
worth 5
Total: 27
Average: 4.5

#28 Potato Rosemary Bread
BBAC28 Potato Rosemary Bread
I love everything about this bread: the flavor, the texture, and aroma

Rating:
flavor 5
texture 5
visual appeal 5
ease of preparation 5
performance 5
worth 5
Total: 30
Average: 5

#27 Portuguese Sweet Bread
BBAC27 Portuguese Sweet  Bread
sweet and soft, delicious just with butter; an instant favorite
Rating:
flavor 5
texture 5
visual appeal 5
ease of preparation 5
performance 5
worth 5
Total: 30
Average: 5

#26 Poolish Baguettes
BBAC26 Poolish Baguettes
bread is tasty but crumb is not open
Rating:
flavor 4
texture 2
visual appeal 4
ease of preparation 5
performance 3
worth 3
Total: 18
Average: 3

#25 Pizza Napoletana
BBAC25 Pizza Napoletana
the best tasting pizza ever; the bread is sweetish, its edges are crispy and the rest of the thin crust with its almost charred bottom is chewy, just the way I like it; it's also perfect for sweet dessert pizzas with berries, apples, or pears drizzled with chocolate sauce or ribbons of Nutella
Rating:
flavor 5
texture 5
visual appeal 5
ease of preparation 5
performance 5
worth 5
Total: 30
Average: 5

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