September 30, 2010

Italian Sunday Gravy

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Italian Sunday Gravy

I don't watch much TV these days but when I do, it's some cooking show or contest. I always catch just the last part of Cook's Country episode on Italian Sunday gravy. I got curious as to why it's called gravy and not tomato sauce. After a lot of web searching I found one recipe that has pigs feet and immediately forgot why I was searching for it. Of course, with the pigs feet how can I resist so I made a very small quantity combining the Cook's Country version and the recipe from one of Serious Eats readers. This is one delicious tomato sauce and I love the soft gelatinous skin and meat of the pigs feet. One serving with some, okay lots of meat, over a cup of whole grain penne for lunch was so filling I had to skip dinner.

September 27, 2010

Pain Meunier

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Pain Meunier
Pain Meunier

Oh boy, I bought yet another baking book and I promise this would be the last, really...for the rest of the year. The book is called ADVANCED BREAD AND PASTRY A Professional Approach by Michel Suas. It's a big and heavy book with lots of beautiful photos and recipes for yeasted and quick breads, cakes, pastries, candies, fondants, and all sorts of confectionery. The book is definitely not for beginners but I recommend it to someone who is thinking of starting a baking business. Although I have been baking breads, cakes, and pastries for years now, it will take me many more to make them as professional looking as the ones in the book. Maybe I'll just read, learn a little, and admire the photos...or bake some of the yeasted breads that look and sound good. Like Pain Muenier or Miller's bread. This delicious and nutritious bread has all the components of the wheat kernel: bread flour, whole wheat flour, cracked wheat, and wheat germ. It's easy to make too, nothing too complicated or time consuming.

Pain Meunier history and a recipe that's almost identical to the book's is here.

Shaping Fendu
shaping fendu: make a thin 1½-inch indentation down the center of the batard, then fold one side into the center

September 23, 2010

Five-Spice Crispy-Skin Chicken

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Crispy Baked Chicken
crispy-skin baked chicken seasoned with 5-spice powder and honey

food friday chiclet

The original plan was to deep-fry a whole chicken but I decided on baked chicken halves instead because I'm not too keen on deep-frying. The recipe is from my ancient Wei Chuan's Chinese Cuisine cookbook by Huang Su-Huei which is my favorite of all my Chinese cookbooks. The recipes in this book are simple, authentic, and delicious.

Perhaps I deviated too much from the recipe, the result may not be representative of the book's recipe. The skin came out crispy enough but probably not as crispy as deep-fried. But the flavor and aroma of the chicken are fantastic and the meat so moist. The 5-spice powder, honey, rice wine, and vinegar all go well together. I like it a lot. It's finger lickin' good.

Crispy-Skin Chicken
adapted from Wei Chuan's Chinese Cuisine by Huang Su-Huei

1 whole chicken, about 3 pounds
2 tablespoons fine sea salt
1 teaspoon five-spice powder
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons hot water
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 tablespoon rice wine
1 teaspoon cornstarch
about 10 cups oil for deep-frying
  • Rinse and pat dry the chicken.
  • In a small skillet heat salt over low heat until very hot. Remove from heat and stir in the five-spice powder. Let cool then rub half of the mixture into the cavity of the chicken. Reserve the other half to serve with the cooked chicken.
  • In a small skillet heat the rest of the ingredients except oil until honey is dissolved. Baste the chicken with half of the mixture until completely coated. Reserve the remaining honey mixture and keep in the refrigerator.
  • Place the chicken on a rack set on a baking sheet pan and refrigerate uncovered for 2 days, basting with the remaining honey mixture, until the skin appears dry (the book says to hang outside to dry for 8 hours or use an electric fan indoors).
  • Heat oil in a deep pot or fryer and fry chicken over low heat for 30 minutes. Turn the heat to high and fry for 2 minutes more or until golden brown. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. Cut into serving portions. Serve with lemon wedges and the remaining 5-spice salt.
My chicken obviously does not have cavity. I rubbed the 5-spice salt on the meat under the skin and all over the exposed meat. It has just the right amount of salt and the skin has a hint of sweetness from the honey. To bake: Preheat oven to 325° F. Bake on a metal rack set on a roasting pan until golden brown and juices run clear. Chicken halves: 1 hour; whole chicken: 1½ to 1¾ hours.

September 20, 2010

Thou Shalt Not Steal (Blog Posts and Photos)

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Maja Blanca
A concerned reader alerted me that one of my entries, Maja Blanca, appears word for word complete with one of my photos without attribution to me or to KULINARYA guidebook, on a facebook page of a pretend chef. He purposely didn't link his page to mine and omitted KULINARYA to make it look like he "created" the recipe and cooked it himself, the title of his post is maja blanca, my way. I was told that at least 5 more of his food posts on his facebook pages were directly lifted from other people's blogs and had the audacity of putting a watermark on a photo that he swiped from those blogs. What a loser and a fraud!

September 15, 2010


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Raspberry Marshmallows
Raspberry Marshmallows
homemade marshmallows with raspberry puree

Lemon Marshmallows
sour and sweet lemon marshmallows

I made marshmallows yesterday and today using a recipe that doesn't have egg whites. I have a carton of raspberries, pureed them and used it instead of water to soften the gelatin powder. The fruit is naturally tart and cuts the sweetness of these melt-in-your-mouth marshmallows. These homemade candies are superior to the one from the stores. They're so light and fluffy and I was so pleased with the result I made a second batch using fresh lemon juice because I love Super Lemon, the pucker-inducing deliciously sour and sweet hard candies from Japan. The marshmallows are sour enough but I'd like to coat it with the super sour powder similar to the hard candy's if I can figure out where to buy it.

2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
3 ounces water, fruit juice, or fruit puree
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups sugar
3 ounces water
5 ounces light corn syrup
¼ teaspoon salt
gel food dye if using juice or puree
potato or corn starch
powdered sugar
  • Line an 8 x 8-inch square pan with parchment paper. Brush with a very thin layer of vegetable oil and sprinkle generously with powdered sugar.
  • In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, combine water and vanilla extract. Sprinkle the gelatin and leave to soften.
  • In a heavy saucepan, combine sugar, salt, corn syrup and water. Heat to boiling while stirring until sugar has dissolved. Clip a candy thermometer and continue to cook on medium heat without stirring until it reaches 240° F.
  • With the mixer at low speed, carefully pour the hot syrup slowly down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. When the mixture has slightly thickened, increase the speed to high and whip until mixture is fluffy and stiff, about 10 minutes, adding food dye if using.
  • Pour marshmallow into the parchment lined pan and smooth with a lightly oiled rubber scraper if necessary. Leave uncovered at room temperature for 10-12 hours or in the refrigerator for 3 hours until set.
  • Mix equal parts cornstarch and powdered sugar and sprinkle over the marshmallows. Turn the marshmallow onto a cutting board generously sprinkled with powdered sugar and starch mixture, peel off paper and dust with more of the powder mixture. Cut into desired size and dredge all sides again in the powder mixture. Shake off excess powder.

This is a very messy project. Strings of marshmallows got stuck everywhere including my hair. And I went outside to blow off some of the excess powder on the plate of marshmallows and the powder went all over my red shirt, shoes, hair.... but it's worth all the mess in the kitchen and myself. I'll make them again when I feel like fruity marshmallows; hmm, blueberries sound good. I'll wear a light colored shirt next time I make them.:p

Messy Shirt

September 12, 2010

Parmesan Biscuits

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Parmesan Biscuits

These Parmesan biscuits are the easiest I have ever baked. It took me just a little over 30 minutes from start to finish including preheating the oven. The recipe is from the cookbook Biscuit Bliss by James Villas. The book is thin and small but has loads, 101 in all, of delicious sweet and savory biscuits and some scones to choose from and delivers on its promise of having fresh fluffy biscuits in just minutes.

This recipe doesn't have butter but has lots of heavy whipping cream. The round [and some rectangular] biscuits came out light, airy, flaky, and cheesy. Soooo good.

Parmesan Biscuits
Parmesan Biscuits
light airy flaky cheesy biscuits

Parmesan Biscuits

adapted from Biscuit Bliss by James Villas

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1½ cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1¼ cups heavy whipping cream
  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the cheese and stir till well blended. Add the cream and stir until the mixture becomes a loose dough.
  • Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead 8 times. Pat out the dough ½ inch thick and cut out rounds with a 2½-inch biscuit cutter or into 2 x 1 inch rectangles. Pat the scraps together and cut out more rounds. Arrange the biscuits on a baking sheet ½ inch apart and bake in the upper third rack for 13 to 15 minutes or until golden.

Next on my biscuit baking list from the book is Thomas Jefferson's Sweet Potato Biscuits that has lard, heavy cream, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and pecans. Doesn't it sound yummy? I can't wait to make them.

September 10, 2010

Food Friday: Asparagus Tofu Stir Fry

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Asparagus Tofu Stir Fry

food friday chiclet

This easy to prepare and yummy healthy dish has two of my favorite ingredients: silken tofu and asparagus. I crave for tofu when I've had too much meat and because I love it. It's a Filipino thing; we ♥ our tofu!;D

Asparagus Tofu Stir Fry
1 block extra firm silken tofu, cubed
2 tablespoons light olive oil, divided
½ pound fresh asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 scallions, cut into half-inch pieces
1½ tablespoons soy sauce, more or less to taste
2 tablespoons dry sherry or rice wine
a pinch of red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon cracked sichuan peppercorns
  • In a wok or large non-stick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil and pan fry the tofu until golden brown. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil and add scallions. Stir fry for 1 minute then add the asparagus. Stir fry for 1 minute. Add soy sauce, sherry, and red pepper flakes. Stir cook for 2 minutes or until half of the liquid has evaporated and asparagus is cooked but still crunchy.
  • Turn the heat off and sprinkle the sichuan peppercorns. Serve immediately over hot steamed rice.

September 5, 2010

Twisty Baguettes

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Twisted Baguettes
Twisted Baguette Crumb

David Lebovitz's blog never fails to inspire me. The latest is the USA-made hazelnut spread on holey twisted baguettes. The hazelnut spread looks really really yummy but the steep price is preventing me from getting a jar. I am more than happy and willing to make the twisted bread instead which is the more interesting of the two.

I have never heard of twisted baguettes which are supposed to be Swiss in origin. After reading about it here, I decided to use Peter Reinhart's pain à l'ancienne rustic bread recipe because I love its natural sweet flavor and ease of preparation. I altered the recipe a bit by substituting whole wheat flour for 5 ounces of the bread flour and increased the resting time between folds from 10 minutes to 30. The holey sweetish thin mini baguettes are superb and I love it with Nutella, of course, and with creamy spreadable just-made buttermilk cheese. I also made tiny ones, 6 inches in length, with a piece of bittersweet chocolate baton inside. It's very good but some of the chocolate oozed out and made a little bit of a mess.

What I love about the twisted shape is there is no need to score the loaves and they come out looking nice. I'll definitely make these again and will follow Jeffrey Hamelman's French Bread with Poolish recipe just to compare the flavors.

Twisty Baguettes
adapted from Peter Reinhart's ARTISAN BREADS EVERY DAY
Pain à l'Ancienne Rustic Bread recipe

15 ounces bread flour
5 ounces whole wheat flour
2½ teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1¼ teaspoons instant yeast
2 cups chilled water
  • Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir with a wooden spoon for 1 minute until well combined. The dough should be coarse and sticky. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes to fully hydrate the flour. Mix for 1 minute in machine or by hand using a wet spoon or wet hands. The dough should become smoother but will still be very soft, sticky, and wet. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled container, cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  • Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled surface. With wet hands, stretch and fold the dough: reach under the front end, stretch it out, and fold it back onto the top; stretch and fold the 3 remaining sides. Flip the dough and tuck into a ball and return to the container. Cover and repeat the stretch and fold 3 more times at 30 minute intervals. After the final stretch and fold, immediately cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or up to 4 days.
  • On baking day, remove the dough 1 hour before baking. Place a sheet pan on the bottom shelf of the oven and put the rack and stone in the lower middle shelf or wherever you want to position them. Preheat oven to 475°F for at least 45 minutes before baking.
  • Place the dough on a generously floured work surface and shape into a 12 x 8 inch rectangle. With a metal pastry scraper, cut off a slice 1½ inches wide and roll on the flour. Stretch to elongate and make it thinner, if desired. Twist the dough from end to end (or from middle to both ends) and carefully transfer on a sheet pan lined with parchment; if baking directly on a stone place the shaped baguette on a piece of parchment laid on top of a peel or inverted sheet pan.
  • Slide the baguettes on the stone or place the sheet pan in the oven. Pour ½ cup hot water on the bottom pan and bake for 12 to 18 minutes or until the crust is a rich brown. Cool baguettes on a wire rack for 15 minutes before slicing.
Baguettes in Oven

I just replaced my 13-year old gas oven. It was not working 100% for probably 6 months already. I noticed that the right side of the oven does not glow and it takes an hour or more to preheat to 350 degrees and can't maintain the heat while baking which is not good for baking cakes and breads. The cost to have it looked at by a professional is $200.00 plus more for parts and other services. I was tempted to open the oven floor and repair it myself but because this is a natural gas oven I was scared I might end up blowing up my house. The new oven, a Maytag, has more advanced features and preheats super fast. To test it for temperature accuracy, baking time, best rack position, etc I went nuts and baked today a loaf of white bread, chocolate Milo layer cake and cupcakes, and the mini baguettes. I'm quite happy with the oven. Which means more baked goods to write about.:p

September 3, 2010

Food Friday: The Hamburger Sandwich

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The Burger

Fat juicy burger topped with red wine-pickled tiny cucumbers, spiced ketchup, watercress, and sharp cheddar. The beef patty is a combination of ground boneless short ribs, skirt steak, brisket, and a little suet and bone marrow. The entire recipe is from bon appétit.

food friday chiclet

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