January 14, 2011

The Daring Cooks: Cassoulet

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Our January 2011 Challenge comes from Jenni of The Gingered Whisk and Lisa from Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. They have challenged the Daring Cooks to learn how to make a confit and use it within the traditional French dish of Cassoulet. They have chosen a traditional recipe from Anthony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlman.


I have seen cassoulet in my cookbooks and several blogs but never cooked nor tried it before. Thanks to Jenni and Lisa for choosing cassoulet and Anthony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlman's recipe for this month's Daring Cooks challenge, now I have and can say this is an amazingly delicious bean stew.

It was easy for me to decide to make this seemingly intimidating dish as I already have most of the ingredients such as duck legs confit, which I made last month following Michael Ruhlman's recipe, pork belly, pork rind, sausages (with thyme and sage), and herbs. The only ingredient I had to get from the store was the dried cannellini beans. Making the dish is a bit involved but it's all worth it. The beans absorbed all the flavors and fats from the meats and they tasted even better the next day.

5 cups dried Tarbais beans or white beans such as Great Northern or cannellini
2 pounds fresh pork belly
1 onion, cut into 4 pieces
1 pound pork rind
1 bouquet garni (tie together two sprigs each parsley and thyme and one bay leaf)
salt and pepper
¼ cup duck fat
6 pork sausages
3 onions, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
4 confit duck legs

  • Drain and rinse the beans and place in the large pot. Add the pork belly, the quartered onion, ¼ pound pork rind, and the bouquet garni. Cover with water, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and continue to simmer until the beans are tender, about 30 minutes more. Let cool for 20 minutes, then discard the onion and the bouquet garni. Remove the pork belly, cut it into 2-inch squares, and set aside. (If you plan to wait another day before finishing the dish, wait to cut the pork belly until then.)
  • Strain the beans and the rind and set aside, reserving the cooking liquid separately. In the sauté pan, heat all but 1 tablespoon of the duck fat over medium-high heat until it shimmers and becomes transparent. Carefully add the sausages and brown on all sides. Remove sausages and set aside, draining on paper towels.
  • In the same pan, over medium-high heat, brown the sliced onions, the garlic and the reserved squares of pork rind from the beans (not the unused pork rind; you'll need that later). Once browned, remove from the heat and transfer to the blender. Add 1 tablespoon of the remaining duck fat and purée until smooth. Set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to moderate 350ºF. Place the uncooked pork rind in the bottom of a deep ovenproof non-reactive dish. You're looking to line the inside, almost like a pie crust. Arrange all your ingredients in alternating layers, beginning with a layer of beans, then sausages, then more beans, then pork belly, beans, duck confit and finally more beans, adding a dab of the onion and pork rind purée between each layer.
  • Add enough of the bean cooking liquid to just cover the beans, reserving 1 cup in the refrigerator for later use.
  • Cook the cassoulet in the oven for 1 hour, then reduce the heat to very slow 250ºF and cook for another hour. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Refrigerate overnight.
  • Preheat the oven to moderate 350ºF again. Cook the cassoulet for an hour. Break the crust on the top with the spoon and add ¼ cup of the reserved cooking liquid. Reduce the heat to very slow 250ºF and continue cooking another 15 minutes, or until screamingly hot through and through.
The complete recipe including how to confit duck legs is here.

January 13, 2011

Got Sauce?

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Got Sauce?
a few must-have sauces and condiments: Thai sriracha, Mang Tomas lechon, Thai sweet chilli, Jufran banana ketchup, Tabasco, tomato ketchup, KFC barbecue

Got Sauce?
this is my enabler, the Korean store's fully stocked shelves on both sides of the aisle: Asian sauces from China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam and (not pictured) on another aisle, Korean and Japanese sauces

food friday chiclet

How many bottles of opened sauces and condiments occupy your refrigerator and baskets? Me, I have lost count. Some that are labeled "refrigeration not necessary" are in a basket near the breakfast table and the rest, too numerous to list down, are scattered all over the fridge. I wonder if there is a support group for my sauce hoarding ailment.:D

January 11, 2011

Miso Salmon with Sake Butter Sauce

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Miso Salmon with Sake Butter Sauce
Miso Salmon with Sake Butter Sauce
my version of Cheesecake Factory® Miso Salmon with Sake Butter Sauce

I went for the first time to Cheesecake Factory for lunch yesterday and had Miso Salmon with Sake Butter Sauce, a large enough salmon fillet broiled and served on a bed of rice, surrounded by a shallow moat of sake butter sauce, and garnished on top with finely shredded scallions. The plate is also garnished around with snow peas. I didn't know it is one of their most popular entrees and it's easy to understand why. It is delicious and I love it! So I went to the store before going home and bought salmon steaks. I cooked them today following the widely available recipe online. The salmon dish tastes almost exactly like the restaurant's. Delicious!

Miso Salmon
my yummy lunch yesterday: Cheesecake Factory® Miso Salmon with Sake Butter Sauce

Miso Salmon with Sake Butter Sauce


¼ cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons hot water
2 tablespoons miso (soybean paste)
4 six-ounce salmon fillets
1 teaspoon light olive oil

sake butter sauce
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and julienned
1 tablespoon minced shallots
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
½ cup + 1 teaspoon sake
1 tablespoon heavy cream
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into large dice
½ teaspoon fresh lime juice
sea salt to taste

to serve
scallions (green parts), finely shredded and blanched
cooked rice
  • Prepare Salmon: Preheat broiler. Whisk together sugar, soy sauce, miso, and hot water. Brush a shallow baking dish with oil and place the fillets on the dish. Spoon miso mixture evenly over fish. Broil 10 to 12 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork, basting twice with miso mixture. Prepare the butter sauce while salmon is cooking.
  • Prepare the Sake Butter Sauce: In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, saute the ginger and shallots in one tablespoon butter for two to three minutes. Add ½ cup of the sake, bring to a boil, and reduce by two-thirds, approximately three minutes. Remove ginger and discard. Puree with a hand-held blender if desired. Add the heavy cream, bring to a boil, and reduce by half. Add the cold butter to the sauce, one piece at a time, whisking constantly over medium-high heat until emulsified and sauce is thick and creamy. Once all the butter has been incorporated, remove the pan from the heat. Whisk in the remaining one teaspoon sake and the lime juice. Season to taste with salt.
  • Plate the Salmon: Using a 5-inch mold, press a half-inch thick rice on a plate. Spoon sake butter around the rice. Place a fillet on top of the rice. Garnish top of the salmon with blanched scallions. Serve immediately.

Now, about the wheat bread. Last year I made a copycat from online recipes without having tasted it. I can now say the bread I baked is pretty close to taste and texture although mine is not as sweet. I think the CF whole wheat baguette doesn't have rye flour though, but I'm not too sure. Anyway, I liked it so much I just had to buy a whole loaf to bring home. The whole baguette is about 2½ feet long and costs $3.45. I love its soft sweet crumb and the slightly chewy crust and the crunchy oatmeal coating is definitely a plus.

Cheesecake Factory Wheat Baguette

January 4, 2011

Peanut Kisses

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Does anybody have a recipe for these peanut kisses from Bohol? My husband got these from the Philippines about 3 years ago and I have been searching for the recipe for a few years now but haven't been able to find one that makes cookies with similar texture. After baking many experimental batches using dozens and dozens of egg whites, I can say I'm not successful at all. They came out too flat or too puffy like the peanut meringue below.

Can you tell I'm obsessed? I eventually gave up when I saw them here and bought 5 boxes. They are so yummy, crunchy, peanuty, and the best thing is, they aren't very sweet. Totally addicting!

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