June 29, 2010

Yardlong Beans in Adobo Sauce

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Sitaw And Pork Belly Adobo

Here's a dish that has a dual personality, a bit healthy and a little bit un due to the fatty but yummy pork belly. The only vegetable I know that is cooked adobo style is the leafy green kangkong or water spinach but apparently among Filipinos, sitaw or yardlong beans is also cooked adobo style but flavored with pork belly.

I recently cooked adobo pork belly and there was one strip and lots of garlicky sauce left. I boiled the cut yardlong beans in salted water and finished cooking them with the sliced pork belly adobo and its sauce. The dish is so very yummy. I would like to think the unhealthy fatty pork is canceled out by the vegetable but I have my doubts.:p

Sitaw in Adobo Sauce
a 4-ounce piece of skin-on pork belly
½ cup coconut or cider vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
½ teaspoon sea salt
6 cloves skin-on garlic
1/8 teaspoon whole black pepper
1 small bay leaf
1 cup water
2 cups yardlong beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Put all the ingredients except the last 3 in a small saucepan. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer on medium-low heat for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until pork is tender. Add water if sauce is drying out. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  • Remove the pork, transfer onto a cutting board and let cool. When cool enough to handle, cut into thin slices. Transfer the sauce along with the pork in a bigger saucepan or wok. Turn heat to medium-low.
  • In another saucepan, place the cut beans, add enough water to cover and the salt. Boil until crisp tender. The beans should have bright green color. Drain and transfer into the saucepan. Turn up the heat to medium and simmer uncovered for 2 minutes, stirring to coat the beans with the sauce. Serve hot with steamed rice.

June 27, 2010

Daring Bakers Chocolate Pavlova

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pavlova with light chocolate meringue topped with dark chocolate mousse, kiwifruit, and candied mandarin oranges

The June 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Dawn from Doable and Delicious. Dawn challenged the Daring Bakers to make Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. The challenge recipe is based on a recipe from the book Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard.

I've seen recipes and photos of pavlovas but have never eaten nor tried to make them. I love meringues whether they are crispy, soft, or mixed with ground nuts and it was good to find out that the Daring Bakers are challenged to make pavlovas.

I changed the original recipe using just a quarter of the cocoa powder, omitted the confectioner's sugar, and baked it for a little over 1 hour which is half the recommended baking hours. The meringues came out crispy but still a little soft inside. I liked it. The recipe also calls for a mascarpone sauce that has 6 eggs yolks but I thought it was too rich. I'm sorry Dawn for not making the sauce this time. I will make it for another dessert because it sounds absolutely divine.

I made another one with slightly more chocolaty meringue but made a lighter mousse. I topped the cake with sliced mango and blueberries. This one has a more pillowy interior. I liked it too.

Chocolate Pavlova

This one is my favorite, a plain vanilla meringue shell topped with sweet strawberry halves and slightly sour sliced kiwifruit. I followed Audax's recipe which is very similar to the one in my British desserts cookbook. The shell has a crispy almost crackly exterior with soft marshmallow innards, is light as feather and has melt-in-your-mouth quality. Super-duper delicious!


Thanks Dawn for a thoroughly enjoyable challenge.:)

June 26, 2010

Whole Durum Pita

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different sizes pita and green chickpea hummus
I've never made pita before. I usually buy the 3-inch whole wheat from Wegmans grocery store. They are very soft and are the perfect size for small sandwiches or for dipping in lemony hummus swimming in fruity extra virgin olive oil.

A few months ago I read about Jose Andres's teeny crispy air breads filled with some kind of creamy cheese and wrapped with thin slices of roast beef, his version of Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich. I don't know if the sandwiches are made with pita dough but the concept certainly inspired me to make pita. I used whole durum flour and made them into various sizes ranging from 3 to 5 inches, and a few ovals that are really tiny. It was fun to watch them balloon in the hot oven within a minute or two. It is even more fun to eat the soft bread with green chickpea hummus. Green chickpeas have a sort of grassy earthy flavor and whole durum pita's perfect partner!

Whole Wheat or Whole Durum Pita
2 cups whole wheat or whole durum flour
½ teaspoon instant yeast
½ teaspoon honey
¾ cup water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • In a small bowl, dissolve honey in water. In a medium bowl, mix ¾ cup of the flour and yeast then stir in the water and honey mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand overnight or at least 4 hours until mixture is bubbly.
  • Sprinkle salt on top and mix in the rest of the flour. The dough should be stiff and slightly dry. Add more flour or water as needed. Knead by hand until smooth and elastic. Divide into 8 equal pieces or desired sizes and roll each into a ball. Cover with a moist towel or lightly oiled plastic film and let the balls rest for 1 hour on the kitchen counter.
  • Put a rack on the lowest position of the oven and place a pizza stone or an inverted sheet pan on the rack. Preheat the oven to 500°F.
  • Cut a few rectangular pieces of parchment and lay one piece on top of a peel.
  • Cut the sides and top of a gallon freezer bag. Open the bag and place a dough ball on the right side of the bag. Cover with the other side and flatten the dough balls into 6½-inch or ¼ inch thick rounds. [Tip: I use a small heavy skillet to flatten the dough to keep its rounded shape.] Place 4 pieces of flattened dough on the parchment and slide onto the hot sheet pan. Bake for 2 to 4 minutes or until completely puffed up. Remove with a spatula, transfer into a plate, and cover with a moist towel while baking the remaining dough. Enjoy while still warm.

June 24, 2010

Food Friday: Pizza

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Pizza Napoletana
barbecue sauce, roasted garlic, flaked Thai chicken, chives, cilantro, and mozzarella

Pizza is one food that nobody doesn't like. It's probably the perfect food with the right toppings, of course. Having made pizzas from half a dozen dough recipes, including Neo-Neapolitan from Peter Reinhart's new book ARTISAN BREADS EVERY DAY, I am sticking with the one I think is the best for my preference in pizza dough, Peter Reinhart's Pizza Napoletana from the The Bread Baker's Apprentice. For this pizza dough recipe, there's a choice of high gluten flour, unbleached bread flour, and all-purpose. The high gluten and bread flours need a quarter cup of olive oil to tenderize the dough. I have always used unbleached all-purpose flour for this recipe and have gotten excellent results each and every time.

This is an unusual dough because it uses ice cold water and made to rest in the refrigerator overnight (or for up to 4 days). The dough is a bit slack but easy enough to handle. The finished pizza has all the qualities I love: thin crisp but tender chewy sweetish creamy crust with puffy crispy chewy edges. This pizza dough does not need a lot of toppings and I usually add homemade tomato paste, 2 kinds of cheeses, and small pieces of vegetables such as roasted peppers or baby artichokes. Peter divides the dough into small 6 ounce balls for easier handling. I make mine 8 ounces each and stretch them into 12-inch rounds.

For pizza and other rustic breads I use 6-inch unglazed quarry tiles that I purchased from Home Depot for 33 cents each. The tiles get really hot and seem to do a great job of searing the bottom better than a pizza stone. They are also conveniently mobile and can easily be moved from oven to the outdoor grill.

Peter's notes:
The dough does not need "lip", but one inevitably occurs because the edge is usually thicker than the center and it doesn't have any sauce to hold it down. Do not try to build up the edges by crimping because you want it to bubble up on its own and create a light, airy crumb.

Neapolitan-style Pizza
adapted from The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart
4½ cups [20.25 ounces] unbleached all purpose flour, chilled
1¾ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1¾ cups [14 ounces] ice cold water (40°F)
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 zipper freezer bags
  • Sift together the flour, salt, and instant yeast in a 4-quart bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment. Stir in the water until all the flour is absorbed, and mix for about 5 minutes. Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for up to 7 minutes. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet and doesn't come off the sides, sprinkle in some more flour just until it clears the sides. If it clears the bottom, dribble in a teaspoon or two of cold water. The finished dough will be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and registers 50° to 55°F.
  • Sprinkle flour on a work surface. Using a metal scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces. Sprinkle the dough with a little flour and form into balls. Place the oil in a bowl and roll each ball in the oil and place in separate bags. Place the bags in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, or place some in the freezer for up to 3 months (transfer the frozen doughs in the refrigerator one day before you plan to bake them).
  • On the day you plan to make the pizza, remove the desired amount of dough balls from the refrigerator.
  • Dust the work surface and your hands with flour. Gently press the dough into flat disks about ½ inch thick and 5 inches in diameter. Sprinkle the dough with flour and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rest for 2 hours.
  • At least 45 minutes before baking, place a baking stone or unglazed quarry tiles on the lowest rack of the oven and preheat the oven to the highest heat setting.
  • Place a large sheet of parchment on your peel or generously dust with semolina flour. Make the pizza one at a time. Dip your hands including the back and knuckles in flour and gently lift one piece of dough with the help of a pastry scraper. Very gently lay the dough across your fists and carefully stretch it by bouncing the dough in a circular motion, giving it a stretch with each bounce. If it begins to stick, lay it down on the floured surface and reflour your hands, then continue shaping. If you are brave enough, toss the dough up in the air.
  • When the dough is stretched out to your satisfaction, lay it on the paper-lined or semolina dusted peel. Lightly top it with your toppings and slide the pizza, including parchment, on the stone and close the door. The pizza should take about 5 to 8 minutes to bake. Remove from oven and transfer to a cutting board. Wait 3 minutes before slicing and serving to allow the cheese to set slightly.
These are from last year's BBA Challenge:

 Neapolitan-style Pizza
tomato sauce, capers, mozzarella, feta, and kesong puti (Filipino fresh white cheese)

Blueberry Pizza
dessert pizza topped with fresh blueberries and coarse raw sugar

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