September 14, 2011

The Daring Cooks: Stock, Soup, Consommé

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Pig Tail Sinigang
Filipino pig tail sour soup

Peta, of the blog Peta Eats, was our lovely hostess for the Daring Cook's September 2011 challenge, “Stock to Soup to Consommé”.  We were taught the meaning between the three dishes, how to make a crystal clear Consommé if we so chose to do so, and encouraged to share our own delicious soup recipes!

The recipes are here.

I've never made consommé before but thanks to Peta and this month's challenge, I now have and enjoyed the process. Preparation of consommé is not complicated but there are several steps [including making the stock which is part of the challenge], not to mention lots of kitchen towels for straining the stock. I used the egg white method for both the chicken and beef consommé. I can't believe my eyes when the cloudy stock became clear. Consommé has to be adequately seasoned though because it loses some of the flavor when clarified.

from chicken stock to consommé 

chicken feet and necks for the chicken consomme,
 roasted beef bones with meat and vegetables for beef consomme,
countless numbers of kitchen towels for straining stock 

We were also asked to prepare bread or crackers to go with our soups. I baked a brioche filled with sauteed chopped baby rainbow Swiss chard, garlic, and onion, and grated Parmesan cheese to go with a simple beef consommé and cubed savory egg custard. 

Consomme With Savory Egg Custard
Brioche Filled With Sauteed Baby Swiss Chard

Savory Egg Custard
3 eggs, well beaten
¾ teaspoon sea salt
½ cup chicken stock
½ teaspoon finely minced scallion, white part only
  • Mix all ingredients and pour into a lightly greased 6 x 4 inch pan. Place on a steamer and steam over boiling water for 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool slightly, transfer into a chopping board; cut into half-inch cubes.
For the Filipino pig tail sour soup, I added some beef stock to the strained pig tail stock. I used tamarind paste to sour the soup and added my favorite vegetables. We usually eat this soup on top of a bowl of hot steamed rice with extra fish extract on the side. 

Pig Tail Sinigang Soup
2½ pounds pig tails, cut into 6 inch sections
1 onion, quartered.
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 carrot, cut into 3 pieces
2 celery ribs with leaves, cut into 3 pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon whole black peppercorn
1 tablespoon sea salt

3 cups strained pig tail stock
1½ cups prepared beef stock
¼ cup tamarind past
1 tablespoon fish extract
1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
3 large tomatoes, quartered
2 Asian eggplants, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 small daikon, sliced
2 cups of water spinach leaves
2 medium-hot green finger chiles
  • Stock: In a sheet pan, mix ingredients except water, and roast in a 400°F oven until pig tails and vegetables are golden brown. Transfer into a large pot, add water topping 2 inches; bring to a boil, turn heat to medium-low, cover, and let simmer until tails are tender. Remove tails to a large plate and leave until cool enough to handle. Cut into 2-inch pieces. Strain the broth, discard vegetables, and reserve 3 cups of the stock. 
  • Soup: Return the pig tails and stock to the pot, add the beef stock, tamarind paste, tomatoes, and fish extract. Taste the soup and add salt if needed. Let come to a boil, add vegetables, and boil until tender. Serve while hot.

September 8, 2011

Food Friday: Savory Monkey Bread

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Savory Monkey Bread
Savory Monkey Bread

Monkey bread sounds funny and I don't know why this pull-apart bread is called such. Most recipes I've seen are sweet, usually with sticky gooey cinnamon sugar and butter coating . Although I love sweet bread, I wasn't feeling it and opted for a savory one. I added cubed sharp cheddar cheese in the dough and as topping. The rolls are very soft and fluffy and great to munch on anytime of the day. I can easily go ape over this bread.🐵

Cheddar Cheese Monkey Bread
3½ cups bread flour
½ tablespoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
½ tablespoon kosher salt
¼ cup powdered milk
½ teaspoon garlic powder, optional
½ teaspoon onion powder, optional
1¼ cups water
¼ cup olive oil
1 cup cubed sharp cheddar cheese
¼ cup melted butter
¼ cup finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • In the bowl of a standing mixer whisk together flour, instant yeast, sugar, salt, powdered milk, and garlic and onion, if using. Stir in water and oil. With the dough hook attachment, knead on medium speed for 2 minutes, scraping sides if necessary. Increase speed to medium-high and knead for 5 minutes until dough is smooth and pliable. Transfer on the kitchen counter and knead in the cubed cheese. Transfer dough into a lightly greased container, cover with plastic wrap, and let ferment for 1 to 1½ hours. 
  • Lightly knead dough, divide, and shape into 1-inch balls. Dip each ball in the melted butter and roll in the remaining cheese. Place balls almost touching in a 10-inch round pan. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise for 45 minutes. Bake in a preheated 375° F oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown. 

September 7, 2011


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assorted lotus seed mooncakes

Lotus Seed Mooncake with Salted Duck Egg Yolk
lotus seed mooncake with a salted duck egg yolk

I've always wanted to make mooncakes for Chinese mid-Autumn festival [this year it's on September 12] but couldn't find easy to use molds. I finally found and bought from a Singaporean catalog one large round with 4 different plate designs and a small square with 3 plates. For the filling I used lotus seeds I bought from the Asian store and added one salted duck egg yolk in each of the 3 big ones. Some have chopped walnuts which I really like and a few I added pandan paste to the filling. I still have to learn how to make the impressions more pronounced though and I think I have to use a different recipe for the pastry to achieve that. Right now I'm happy with the way they look and I love the flavor of all of them. 

Mooncake Molds

The lotus seeds I got were already shelled and only some of the seeds had the green thingie inside that needs to be discarded before cooking. 

Lotus Seeds and Moncakes

Lotus Seed Mooncake

pastry shell
173 ml golden syrup
78 ml light olive oil
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ tablespoon water
10½ ounces all-purpose flour, sifted twice

lotus seed filling
1 pound shelled dried lotus seeds
1 cup sugar, or to taste
shelled watermelon seeds, chopped walnuts, pandan paste

egg wash
1 well beaten egg
  • Pastry: Mix syrup, olive oil, baking soda, and water. Slowly add flour and mix with hands or rubber spatula until incorporated. It will be sticky. Cover with plastic wrap and leave on the kitchen counter for 6 hours.
  • Filling: Wash the seeds, cover with water and soak for 3 hours. Remove the green germ if necessary. Wash 2 more times. Put in a medium saucepan, add water, and boil gently until tender. Cool slightly, then blend in a blender or food processor until smooth. Return to the pan, add sugar, and cook until all the moisture has evaporated. Cool before adding flavoring, watermelon seeds, or walnuts. 
  • Shape and bake: Proportion should be 65% filling to 35% pastry shell. Shape portions of filling into balls. Flatten a piece of dough into a very thin round, place the ball in the center and cover completely with dough. Place the balls seams side down on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Use the mold to stamp the design or leave plain if you don't have one but flatten slightly. Brush with egg wash and bake in a preheated 400° F oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely before cutting into portions.

September 1, 2011

Tocino de Cielo

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Tocino de Cielo
tiny silky smooth sweet "fat back" from heaven

Food Friday

Tocino de Cielo or bacon from heaven, is another Filipino sweet inherited from the Spanish. In the Philippines, these rich silky smooth treats, made with only 3 ingredients, egg yolks, sugar, and water, are cooked in small individual molds. I baked mine in a small rectangular pan and cut them into one inch cubes to resemble fat back, which is probably the reason it is called tocino de cielo.

Tocino de Cielo
4 tablespoons sugar for caramel
1¼ cups sugar
½ cup water
12 egg yolks

  • In a small stainless steel skillet, melt the 4 tablespoons sugar until golden or dark brown. Pour into a 6 x 4 inch pan; set aside. Over medium heat in a small sauce pan, cook the remaining sugar and water to 200° F; let cool. In a small bowl, stir the egg yolks with a rubber spatula; slowly pour the cooled syrup, stirring until well combined. 
  • Pour over a fine strainer into the prepared pan. Place the pan into a larger pan; carefully fill the larger pan with hot water halfway up the sides of the smaller pan. Bake in a preheated 300°F oven for 40 to 50 minutes. Let cool completely on the kitchen counter; refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. Turn  the pan over on a cutting board and carefully unmold. Cut into 1 inch cubes. 

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