Tag Archives: savory

Pão de Queij-ish (mochi flour in Brazilian cheese bread) [gluten-free]

15 Mar

There’s a Brazilian place next to campus that we grad students sometimes go to for happy hour and cheap margaritas and appetizers.  One of the apps is magical, delicious, fluffy, chewy, cheesy, amazing pão de queijo, which are essentially tapioca and cheese rolls but they’re SO GOOD.  The nth time she heard me waxing poetic about these cheese rolls, my officemate suggested I make them and then blog about them.  So here we are!

Any recipe for pão de queijo calls for tapioca flour, but I made these fairly impulsively with stuff in my house, so I used mochi flour instead.  This paragraph is me attempting to compare the two.  Tapioca flour makes the middle of the rolls chewy and mildly rubbery, like the bubbles in Taiwanese bubble tea/boba.  Versus the chewiness of mochi flour in these rolls has none of the pleasant rubberiness and more of a sticky bite, remarkably not too much like actual mochi but more like Dots, the candy.  Tapioca flour gives you a satisfying snap after some chewy give when you bite one of the rolls, as if you were pulling salt water taffy and took a sharp bite out of it.  While the mochi flour is all gummy give, like eating a Swedish Fish.

That’s all to say, this cheese bread I made is good, but it’s not exactly Pão de Queijo if that’s what you’re looking for.  It’s the mochi-fied version of pão de queijo.  And it’s super delicious, because butter, milk, eggs, and cheese together are so yummy.

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Cheese louise I’m trying to grab life by the eggs but I keep getting assalted by conflicting ideas of how to live wholly

I took a basic recipe and substituted Mochiko (the brand of sweet rice flour carried by an Asian supermarket near you!) for tapioca flour.  They probably react a bit differently (I think the dough is supposed to be salt-water taffy like when the tapioca flour is beaten in, instead of slightly clumpy) but the technique worked.

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Butter?  I hardly know ‘er!  Milky?  That’s neither grammatically correct nor anatomically possible, plus I hardly know he!

Lots of recipes out there call for oil, but… butter.  I don’t even need verbs for that sentence.  Butter is its own justification.  Butter.  Melt the butter with milk and salt until it just gets to boiling.  Then drop in your starchy flour of choice and stir stir stir until there aren’t any big dry clumps lying around.

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If your mochi flour comes from Japan and you stir slowly, you could be seeing a real-life instance of Tokyo Drift in your pot!

Alternative that I did not do: put the flour in your stand mixer and pour the hot salty butter-milk over it and turn on the mixer.  Because I at least ended up using the stand mixer anyway: not as necessary with mochi flour, definitely necessary with tapioca flour (that stuff is strong).

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I’m not sure if I’ve ever eaten a bowl of cottage cheese; I feel like I should do so but only if I’m sitting in a cottage or on a tuffet.

Upon first mixing, the dough looks like cottage cheese, all clumpy and mildly wet.  Then you beat in the eggs, one at a time, until smooth, and then fold/beat in the cheese.  Note that I used the paddle attachment on my stand mixer instead of the hook or whisk- you don’t want to add a ton of air (so doing it by hand is great!)

If using tapioca flour, it’ll take a few minutes to get smooth.  Mochi flour takes about one minute.  Then stir in your cheese.  I had a mix of shredded grana padano and shaved parmesan cheese and I just threw it all in, hoping the beater would take care of the shaved cheese.  Also I threw in lots of cheese, which I recommend.  Almost too much cheese, but of course there’s no such thing.

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The best kind of droppings (but don’t tell music record makers that)

Then you just bake these in your preheated oven while playing Dominion (if you’re me), and take them out after 20 minutes, let them cool a minute, and serve.  We actually ate almost all of them before I remembered to take a picture of the last two.  See those big cheese moles all over the rolls?  That’s because they’re so so cheesy.  They might not be as pretty but they sure are good!

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Mochi Pao de Quiejo, adapted from thekitchn and allrecipes

1 c milk

1/2 c butter (2 sticks)

1/2 tsp salt (I always use salted butter, increase this if you use unsalted butter)

2 c sweet rice flour (I use Mochiko)

2 eggs

1 1/2 c mixed shredded or grated cheeses: I did half parmesan, half grana padano

Preheat oven to 450 or some crazy high temperature (you won’t actually cook the bread at this temp; it’s just to blast it with heat and hopefully puff it up when it first pops in)

Melt the butter, milk, and salt together, heating and stirring just til it boils, then turn off heat.

Stir in the rice flour, stir stir stir, until not cottage-cheese-y looking anymore (smooth).  Beat each egg separately, then stir in one at a time until smooth.  Add in all the cheese and stir.  This is like 10 solid minutes of stirring or using a stand mixer.

Drop tablespoons of dough onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, and put into the oven.  Turn heat down to 350, bake 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

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Biscuits and Gravy, super easy

16 Dec

About a year ago two of my friends held a Southern dinner party, where a bunch of displaced Southerners brought comfort food.  It was just as delicious as it sounds, with greens, fried chicken, fried green tomatoes, okra, pies, shrimp and grits… and biscuits and gravy.  I’ve always loved biscuits and gravy and I associate this heavy breakfast with long road trips through the flyover states as we trekked from Minnesota to Texas or California in our minivan, stopping at diners with big signs that said “RESTAURANT” or “EATS.”  So at this dinner party I asked the people who brought the awesome gravy for their recipe, and it was so simple that I memorized it and have made it several times since.  It’s literally “1, 2, 3, lots.”  Then for biscuit recipes I’ve done my friend’s secret family recipe as well as one from allrecipes that I’ve made several times (because it’s on the internet and my friend’s is written in a book).

Biscuits and gravy is great because once you pop the biscuits in the oven, you have just enough time to make gravy and everything is hot and ready at the same time.  So let’s start with the biscuits.

Not to be confused with bisque-it's a smooth creamy soup often made with seafood.  These are small rolls of unyeasted bread

Not to be confused with bisque-it’s a smooth creamy soup often made with seafood. These are small rolls of unyeasted bread

Several years ago I went on a huge biscuit kick, the first time I lived in an apartment with a kitchen (not a dorm).  My dear friend/roommate (now non-coincidentally a math educator) and I made so many biscuits and so much homemade jam within a few months.  It was just as wonderful as it sounds.  If you are young I highly recommend eating a ridiculous amount of carbs for a short while, because your metabolism and stomach will likely not be so great in the future [I am young but I do not think I could eat half a pan of biscuits by myself in one sitting anymore].  Anyways, biscuits are really easy!  Mix flour with a few other things (salt, baking powder, sugar), cut in your fat (shortening and/or butter), and then mix in your liquid (milk or buttermilk or vegan substitute) until sticky dough is formed.

Cloudy with a chance of meatballs?  Not quite, there are biscuits in the forkast today

Cloudy with a chance of meatballs? Not quite, there are biscuits in the forkast today

Throw some (1/4 cup) flour on a clean counter or table, and lightly knead the dough until it’s smooth (not smooth and elastic like yeasty bread dough, just not lumpy).

My husband really doesn't appreciate my puns.  Oh well, you can't always get what you want.  But if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you knead.  Here, I'm kneading biscuits.

My husband really doesn’t appreciate my puns. Oh well, you can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you knead. Here, I’m kneading biscuits.

Then pat or roll it out, and cut it out with a glass dipped in flour.  Roll the scraps together and cut out more.  I always end up with one funky biscuit, the last one made of tiny pieces sadly patted together into an approximation of a circle.

That last biscuit is always teased, and he always responds "cut it out, guys" and they respond "that's what we did but what are you?"

That last biscuit is always teased, and he always responds “cut it out, guys” and they respond “that’s what we did but what are you?”

Then toss those beauties into the oven on an ungreased baking sheet, and get ready for gravy!

The recipe said it makes 9 but I'm not good at uniformity.  It makes me too ten-se.

The recipe said it makes 9 but I’m not good at uniformity. It makes me too ten-se.

You need one pound of breakfast sausage (I like Jimmy Dean’s sage sausage), two tablespoons of flour, three cups of milk, and far more pepper than you think is reasonable.  Brown the sausage…

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Making breakfast for the family before everyone is up definitely gave me brownie points

Then sprinkle it with the two tablespoons of flour and stir until the meat is evenly covered with flour; by then the flour should be browned too.  Pour in the three cups of milk.

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I tried to milk this good deed for all it’s worth

Now it looks like greasy sausage floating in milk, but bring it to a simmer and let it simmer for awhile, stirring, until it’s thick and turned into gravy.  Then add way more pepper than seems necessary.

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Even if I mess up, my family still eats it and loves me. It’s all gravy.

Those biscuits should be wrapping up in a few minutes.  To serve, split a biscuit and put it on a plate, then drown it in gravy.  I actually went back to sleep after making this and my family ate it without me (this is what happens when you have a baby who doesn’t understand time zones) and merely dabbed with gravy.  Nope, drown it!

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Biscuits and gravy (biscuits adapted from allrecipes, gravy from folklore)

2 c flour +more for dusting

1 TB white sugar

1 TB baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/3 c butter

1 c buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425.  Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt, then cut in the butter until crumbly.  Slowly stir in the milk until it’s doughy and pulls away from side of bowl.

Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead (they say 15-20 times; 10 is fine) lightly, then roll out to 1 inch thickness and cut rounds with a glass dipped in flour.  Place on an ungreased baking sheet, and bake 13-15 minutes.

Meanwhile…

1 lb sausage (I’ve enjoyed Jimmy Dean’s maple as well as hot, and I hear good things about sage)

2 TB flour

3 c milk

black pepper

Brown the sausage in a large saucepan or medium sized pot over medium heat, crumbling/breaking it up into chunks using a wooden spoon.  Sprinkle with the flour and mix well until flour is browned, then pour in the milk.  Turn up the heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, then lower heat and let simmer until thick/coats the spoon.  Stir in lots of fresh ground black pepper (like 2 tsp or more).  Serve on the biscuits, which should be done by now!

My mom’s goi cuon (Vietnamese spring rolls)

26 Oct

Apologies for the long delay in blog posts.  I have no excuses, really.  I’ll make up for it by trying to post a lot this week.  This afternoon I’m planning on chatting with a postdoc friend about some math for a blog post!  In the meantime, here’s a cooking post.

I get a lot of compliments on the sauce that accompanies these light, fresh spring rolls.  Peanut, hoisin, onion, garlic are the main players.  Usually I make a bunch of goi cuon as an appetizer for a party, though the other night we ate a bunch of these for dinner and they make a great light dinner.

The end (of the onion) is nigh-fed (pronounced 'knifed' in case you thought that said nigh fed)

The end (of the onion) is nigh-fed (pronounced ‘knifed’ in case you thought that said nigh fed)

It’s also nice because you can throw out all the ingredients on the table and people make their own rolls with whatever they want.

First, you’ll want to boil a piece of pork.  I had a hunk of pork leg leftover in my freezer that I used for this.  Something without too much fat, but with a little bit of fat (so like a tenderloin but with more fat).  If you want to boil the first (so boil just the outside of the pork, then toss out the water and boil it to cooked with new water), you can do that to minimize the smell, or just throw half an onion in the water.

You heat the water. Por que? To cook the pork!

You heat the water. Por que? To cook the pork!

It takes surprisingly long to cook a hunk of pork.  This took about 25 minutes at a low steady boil (not a simmer).  But that’s fine, because I did everything else during that time- prep veggies, make sauce, make noodles and shrimp.

Do you think a group of Irish people in Argentina would be called Garlic?

Do you think a group of Irish people in Argentina would be called Garlic?

Consider putting a pot of water on to boil after putting the pork in, so you’re ready for the noodles/shrimp.  Anyways, minced onion goes in a pan with a bit of oil as long as you can stand in (the more caramelized, the better!), then add minced garlic until fragrant.  Toss in a can of diced tomatoes (I used fresh because I had them), peanut butter, hoisin sauce, and enough water so it can actually simmer down and the tomatoes cook away.

These tomatoes were being really fresh with me so I told them to simmer down

These tomatoes were being really fresh with me so I told them to simmer down

You’re left with a delicious, sweet and salty and umami-sauce for dipping.  I’ve used an immersion blender on this sauce to great effect in the past, but since it was just for us two I let us eat it chunkily.  My mom also likes squeezing a lime into it, for some acid to cut the richness of the peanut butter.

While that’s simmering away, hopefully your secondary pot of water has got to boiling, and you can toss in some noodles (bun tao or whatever kind of rice noodles you want) and cook per package directions.  Shrimp boils for just 2 minutes or so, depending on the size (until it’s opaque).  Rice noodles are very thin and slippery, so I’d recommend getting a metal strainer instead of just a plastic colander.

Making Vietnamese food was a huge strain before I got this piece of kitchen equipment

Making Vietnamese food was a huge strain before I got this piece of kitchen equipment

A colander just coldn't cut it

A colander just coldn’t cut it

You’re almost there!  Time to thinly slice the pork…

Whaddup, homeslice? Not much, I'm about to get eaten. Oh... that doesn't sound great.

Whaddup, homeslice? Not much, I’m about to get eaten.
Oh… that doesn’t sound great.

And peel the shrimp.  My mom likes cutting them in half, which is a lot of work but also looks nice.

To serve, place your proteins, noodles, and veggies on a table along with rice paper and a bowl of WARM water (or one of these cool things).  Also small dishes for the dipping sauce and a plate for rolling for each person.  For veggies: lettuce is a must, also something crunchy like pickled shredded carrots (shred carrots, add some rice vinegar and sugar and salt and water and leave in a bowl for at least an hour), or sliced apples, or sliced cucumber or bean sprouts.  Spearmint, shiso leaf, and cilantro are all good.  If you’re at a Vietnamese grocery store, just get everything that’s labelled “rau sống” and try everything to see what you like.

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Apples are snappy and the spoon is saucy, but the noodles are just limp. They are poor conversation partners.

To eat: wet the rice paper.  Some recipes say to leave it in the water for 5-10 seconds, which is way too long in my opinion unless the water isn’t warm.  Just dip it so that every part of the rice paper is wet; it will soften on your place as you assemble the roll.

About 1 inch from a side, make a line of herbs and lettuce.  Put on about a tablespoon of noodles, a few pieces of pork, and whatever else you want.  About one inch above the rectangle, place the peeled shrimp in a line.

Fold the bottom side (the close one) over your rectangle, then fold in the sides and roll it up like a burrito.

They see me rollin'... they hatin'... because they're jealous

They see me rollin’… they hatin’… because they’re jealous

My husband likes putting the sauce directly inside the roll, which makes sense if you’re going to eat it immediately and aren’t making these ahead of time.  I like dipping them.  Either way is fine.

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Enjoy!

My mom’s goi cuon: this recipe makes about 10 rolls, so dinner for 3 or appetizers for 10.

1 lb Pork leg/shoulder/some cut with a little fat on it

1 onion

1 apple and/or carrot and/or cucumber and/or bean sprout, sliced/shredded

1 can tomatoes

3 TB peanut butter

3 TB hoisin sauce

garlic

1/2 lb shrimp

herbs: half a head of lettuce, cilantro, shiso leaf, coriander leaf, spearmint, peppermint…

rice paper

rice noodles

  1. Boil the pork with half the onion and a spoonful of salt and a spoonful of sugar for about half an hour or until cooked.
  2. Make the sauce: dice the onion and saute in some oil until translucent, then add minced garlic until fragrant.  Add tomatoes, hoisin, peanut butter, and enough water to thin, let simmer until tomatoes are cooked down.
  3. Cook the rice noodles according to package directions (boil for 4 minutes, rinse with cool water).  Boil shrimp for 1-2 minutes until just opaque.
  4. Serve noodles, pork, and shrimp with vegetables and rice paper and a bowl of warm water.

Tofu twofer: marinated and baked, and my mom’s garlic-lemongrass fried (dau hu chien)

8 Oct

We’ve been on a bit of a tofu kick lately, and have been buying the big family packs from Costco even though there’s only two of us.  But whenever I make one of these two preparations we gobble it all up!  I actually don’t like tofu as a meat substitute (had a goat cheese salad last night with grilled tofu on it; ick), which is why I like these two recipes so much: the tofu doesn’t pretend to be meat, it’s just delicious squishy flavorful tofu!

Note: both of these recipes require thinking ahead.  Not a lot of effort, but they just aren’t as good if it’s half an hour til you eat and you throw them together.  For the fried tofu, it’s fine to prepare in the morning (5 minutes, if that), and cook for dinner.  For the baked tofu, I think it’s better to prepare the night before and let marinate for a whole day.

First, my mom’s fried tofu with garlic and lemongrass.  This stuff is addictive and very, very easy.  Lots of recipes say to press your tofu to make it firm/get the water out, but that takes effort.  You can also leave tofu uncovered on a plate, and the fridge will dry it out.  Yay!

The other day I saw Cheetos described as "cheese toes", which is so gross.  But also makes you think about other potential Toe Fuuds

The other day I saw Cheetos described as “cheese toes”, which is so gross. But also makes you think about other potential Toe Fuuds

If you eat lemongrass ever, I suggest planting it!  We have so much lemongrass and it’s so fresh and delicious and I do nothing to take care of it!  Start by finely chopping about 3 TB of lemongrass (more is better).

Then mince a bunch of garlic.  Lots of recipes say to use 1 or 2 cloves of garlic (I mean any recipe anywhere for anything), and I always use 6 or 7.  I love garlic!

I saw the Foo Fighters last weekend at ACL.  If their van broke down and they called AAA to come help them, would the truck guy say "I tow foo"?

I saw the Foo Fighters last weekend at ACL. If their van broke down and they called AAA to come help them, would the truck guy say “I tow foo”?

Chop up your tofu into slabs: my mom cuts one of these blocks into 6 slabs; I like to cut those in half.  Arrange on a plate to maximize exposed surface area (I mean, lay them flat).  Cover liberally with garlic and lemongrass, and a bunch of salt (a TB or so).  Put it in the fridge, exposed, for a day (or two).

I think the Japanese eat soybeans a lot, right?  This is a KyoTO Fuud?

I think the Japanese eat soybeans a lot, right? This is a KyoTO Fuud?

I was in a foosball tourney my freshman year of college.  At the end, someone said "I propose a TOast!  FOOsball!"

I was in a foosball tourney my freshman year of college. At the end, someone said “I propose a TOast! FOOsball!”

When you’re ready to cook, heat some oil in a pan over medium-high heat, and carefully put in your tofu.  Don’t overcrowd them (this’ll probably take two batches or two pans).  Leave for about 4 minutes, until golden, and then flip over and leave for another 2-3 minutes.

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I'm not a huge fan of discrete subgroups of PSL(2,R).  I'll hover near them, but I'll only toe Fuchsian groups instead of diving in.

I’m not a huge fan of discrete subgroups of PSL(2,R). I’ll hover near them, but I’ll only toe Fuchsian groups instead of diving in.

You can cook them longer, so they’re crispy, but I like them less crispy.  After you’re done frying all the tofu, toss in that garlic and lemongrass and let it cook til golden brown and a little crispy.  Delicious crunchy topping!  Also, cut up some green onion and heat it in oil, then pour over the whole thing.

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Second, my marinated and baked tofu.  Similar idea: dump stuff on tofu, let it sit, and cook it. This time, cut up the tofu into smaller pieces: I do rectangles, just half the size of the previous recipe.  You don’t have to be religious about draining it this time either, I like to leave a little liquid in.

I wonder what they thought in Mortar of Frodo: probably that this Pest'll go away soon

I wonder what they thought in Mortar of Frodo: probably that this Pest’ll go away soon

Also, try to use a tofu-sized container for this, preferably with a lid.  I’ve done this in a bowl and the tofu doesn’t get as much flavor.  Less space for moving = more tofu submerged in deliciousness= more flavorful tofu.

What if I use body parts instead of swear words in this blog? I tried using a smaller tupperware earlier, and felt like a to fool.

What if I use body parts instead of swear words in this blog? I tried using a smaller tupperware earlier, and felt like a to fool.

If you have a mortar and pestle, this recipe is great!  Just smash up some garlic and ginger, no need to worry about making them small or uniform: we’re just trying to infuse the flavors in.  If you don’t, just slice them up and toss them on top of the tofu.

I love using the pestle to smash garlic and get the paper off: it's so appeeling

I love using the pestle to smash garlic and get the paper off: it’s so appeeling

If I lost this mortar and pestle, I'd be totally crushed.

If I lost this mortar and pestle, I’d be totally crushed.

Now the fun part!  Pour on 1-2 TB of soy sauce, 1 TB of sesame oil, 1 TB rice vinegar.  If you have it, add 1 TB rice wine for cooking, and 1 tsp of fish sauce (I love fish sauce; I am Vietnamese).

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This recipe doesn’t fit in with NATO. FOOlish Europeans and North Americans; they’re missing out on so much flavor!

Close your container and give it a shake, then leave it in the fridge for awhile (I’ve left it for two days and it’s awesome).  Turn it upside down every now and then if you want.

Here in Austin we're proud of the local vodka company.  TiTO's FUrnishes all of Texas and then some with quality alcohol

Here in Austin we’re proud of the local vodka company. TiTO’s FUrnishes all of Texas and then some with quality alcohol

Once you’re an hour out from eating, turn the oven to 350, shake the tofu out onto an oiled baking sheet, and toss em in.  You can turn them if you aren’t lazy like me, or just bake them for 50-60 minutes until they look and smell delicious.  Don’t forget to put the garlic and ginger in there too.  This stuff is addictive.

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My mom’s garlic-lemongrass fried tofu:

3 TB minced lemongrass

3 TB minced garlic

2 TB finely chopped green onion

1 lb tofu (1 16-oz package)

Chop tofu into thick slabs.  Cover liberally with lemongrass and garlic, and sprinkle heavily with salt (1-2 TB).  Arrange on a plate and let marinate for a day or two.

Heat up a thick frying pan with a drizzle of vegetable oil (1-2 TB), add tofu, being careful not to overcrowd.  Do not touch!  Fry for four minutes on one side, then turn and fry 2-3 on the other side.  After finishing the tofu, fry the remaining lemongrass/garlic for a few minutes until crispy.  Add 2 TB more oil to the pan, and add the green onion for just 1 minute, until wilted.  Top tofu with crispy lemongrass/garlic and green onion oil.

Marinated baked tofu, adapted from food.com

1 lb tofu

1 TB each: soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, fish sauce, rice wine (optional)

1 inch piece of ginger

6 garlic cloves

Cut tofu into cubes, draining off most of water.  Put into a small container.  Smash garlic and ginger, removing peels, and put on top of tofu.  Add all remaining ingredients.  Close container, if possible, and leave in fridge for 8-60 hours.

Heat oven to 350.  Oil a baking sheet, and pour tofu and garlic/ginger out onto it.  Bake for one hour.

Easy ga kho gung (Vietnamese braised chicken with ginger) [based on my mom’s recipe]

23 Jul

Slow-cooked chicken with ginger, garlic, and onions.  I love this recipe.  It’s one of those classic home-cooking recipes that you aren’t likely to see at a restaurant, but every family makes it.  In fact, when I was in Vietnam several years ago I made some friends and visited their village for one night.  They showed me how to grow rice in their paddy, and we walked around the village, and practiced driving a motor scooter while trying to avoid the water buffalo that hung out on the roads.  At night their mom made us a big feast for dinner, consisting of rice from said paddy, rau muong xao toi, and this braised chicken (freshly killed from their neighbor).  Very traditional, very delicious.

I also ask my mom for it every time I make it, so I thought I’d blog it so I could stop bugging her.  I’ll tell you how I do it and also make notes for where my mom takes more time and makes it more delicious than I do.  Also, it’s made with items that you probably have in your pantry (we buy garlic from Costco and always have onions and ginger and frozen chicken parts).

This is a RAW file.  I'm just kidding it's a jpeg.

This is a RAW file. I’m just kidding it’s a jpeg.

If you don’t have fish sauce in your pantry and you’re interested in making Vietnamese food ever, then you should buy a bottle.  If you aren’t, then I’m not sure why you’re reading this post.  I like using coconut water/juice (I always keep it around because it’s all I drink when I’m sick), but water or chicken broth work great too.

My mom always soaks chicken in salted water for half an hour before cooking it, “to get rid of the smell.”  Brining does keep the chicken super moist, but I’m always too lazy to do it.  It’s good if you feel like it though!

Also, traditionally the chicken parts are chopped up into bite-size pieces for this dish.  Part of that is frugality and part of it is flavor- more surface area to soak in more of the sauce.  Plus it’s fun to bust out your cleaver!  I generally make the pieces baby-fist sized (so three or four bites) because I am lazy.  You could also not chop them.

I guess they had to give that suburban sitcom star a nickname instead of just calling him by his last name.  Then it'd sound like a serial killer sitcom instead of a family one: Leave it to Cleaver!

I guess they had to give that suburban sitcom star a nickname instead of just calling him by his last name. Then it’d sound like a serial killer sitcom instead of a family one: Leave it to Cleaver!

Next, chop up some garlic, onion, and ginger.  A few thoughts on this: for our wedding someone gave us a mortar and pestle, and it is AWESOME for garlic.  I don’t even peel or smash the cloves, I just throw them in and smash them a couple times.  The paper falls off and you can pick it out.  This isn’t great if you care about uniform sizes, but if you want a ton of garlic quickly smashed into smallish pieces, this is definitely the way to go.

If the actress from Young Frankenstein comes up to you and wants to fight, try to walk away.  You'll get Teri Garr-licked in no time.

If the actress from Young Frankenstein comes up to you and wants to fight, try to walk away. You’ll get Teri Garr-licked in no time.

I am a total sucker for those stupid “17 life hacks that will change the way you sit on a couch!!!” articles.  I’ve seen “one weird trick” a few times for peeling ginger: use a spoon.  Unfortunately, this one actually works!  Especially if you have a fairly smooth/not-too-knobby piece of ginger.  Just push the spoon tip in at one end of peel, eating side facing the ginger, and pull down while pushing into the ginger.  I can’t believe this worked and now I’ll go nail polish my keys so I don’t mix them up and save my bread bag close-things to label cords.

I actually have naked ginger in my house a lot (my baby is a redhead!)

I actually have naked ginger in my house a lot (my baby is a redhead!)

You’ll want diced onion, smashed pieces of garlic, and matchsticks of ginger.  Throw that in with your chicken (if you brined it, toss the brine), along with sugar and salt, and let it marinate for at least 15 minutes.

Just like in the human world, in horse races there are far more males than females.  I've been to exactly one horse race in my life, and it was almost all stallions, but there was one lane with a female.  There was a mare in eight.

Just like in the human world, in horse races there are far more males than females. I’ve been to exactly one horse race in my life, and it was almost all stallions, but there was one lane with a female. There was a mare in eight.  [I just told my husband this caption, and his response: “our kid is going to love you.”  Not even a chuckle from him!]

My mom first browns the chicken in a little bit of oil, then adds in the garlic, ginger, onion.  I actually marinated it in the pot, and just put the pot on the stove and turned it on.  Like I said, super easy.  Put it on high, add some fish sauce for flavor, and then your liquid (I used coconut water).  Bring it to a boil, then turn it down and simmer for as long as you have.  The longer you simmer, the richer the flavor.  The chicken will be cooked after about 15 minutes so if you’re in a rush just eat it then.

How cute would it be if we called every adult animal like we call chickens?  Kittenens?  Puppyens?  PUPPY YENS?!?!

How cute would it be if we called every adult animal like we call chickens? Kittenens? Puppyens? PUPPY YENS?!?!

A few minutes before you want to finish it, I like to add some cornstarch to thicken it.  To avoid lumps, put the cornstarch in a small bowl/ramekin and spoon some of the hot liquid into it, then whisk that til smooth.  Add the mix to your pot, and stir.  Then bring it back to a boil.

'don, sob', some', shiratak': these are all rame'kin.

‘don, sob’, some’, shiratak’: these are all rame’kin.

Serve this with rice and plain boiled vegetables to soak up as much of the sauce as you can.

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Easy ga kho gung:

Bone-in chicken pieces (I like thighs, but drumsticks or a whole chicken are also great) [Enough for the number of people you are serving]

1/2 head of garlic (just a lot of garlic.  Like 7 cloves at least)

1 thumb-sized piece of garlic per 4 servings

1/2-1 onion

2 TB sugar

2 TB fish sauce (nuoc mam; we always get Three Crabs brand)

salt, pepper

2 C water or chicken broth or coconut juice

2 TB corn starch

Chop chicken into pieces.  If desired, brine in salt water for half an hour.

Dice onion, smash garlic, and peel and matchstick ginger.  Add to chicken (drain brine, if using) with sugar, and salt and pepper to taste (about 1 TB of salt should be fine, you can always add more fish sauce later).  Stir, and marinate for at least 15 minutes and up to overnight.

If desired, heat 2 TB of oil over medium-high, and brown chicken pieces, 5 minutes.  Then add marinade, and proceed.

If you didn’t brown, just cook the whole thing over medium high.  Add fish sauce and liquid of choice, bring to a boil, stirring a few times (at least two or three times).  Lower heat and simmer at least 15 minutes, or for an hour.

Five minutes before you want to eat, place corn starch into a small bowl.  Spoon in some of the hot liquid, and whisk until smooth.  Add corn starch mix to pot, and incorporate and bring back to a boil.  Boil for one minute while stirring, then turn off stove.

Serve with rice and boiled vegetables.

Soda-unders? Nope, popovers!

17 Jun
I wonder if the author of The Circle is really into baking.  He must get that a lot.

I wonder if the author of The Circle is really into baking. He must get that a lot.

When baby was four months old I was really itching to start baking again, but I needed things that required very little time/effort and preferably had lots of reward.  Turning to my trusty Moosewood Cookbook (affiliate link), I paged through until I saw a super easy recipe that included the word “or” in the ingredient list.  I don’t think I’ve said enough how much I love this cookbook- the recipes are so good and so forgiving and I actually follow them.  I love that this recipe says “2 or 3 or 4 eggs.”  And despite my love of excess amounts of butter (see super easy french toast souffle), Moosewood in general uses little butter to great effect.

So these are popovers, which I hadn’t had before but I guess are a thing.  A DELICIOUS thing!  First, butter some muffin tins- I have these little ceramic ramekins and I microwaved two tablespoons for thirty seconds and stirred it up.  Also, we have pastry brushes now (thanks, Crate and Barrel wedding gift cards!)

I haven't greased pans a lot in this way- guess I have to BRUSH up on my skills

I haven’t greased pans a lot in this way- guess I have to BRUSH up on my skills

Butter, flour, eggs, milk, salt.  That’s it for these crisp-on-the-outside, custardy-on-the-inside soft rolls.  And it’s just one bowl.

I feel like I'm running out of puns... guess I should milk my head for what I can

I feel like I’m running out of puns… guess I should milk my head for what I can

After whisking up the eggs, add the flour and salt and beat that.  Then pour into your buttered muffin tins.

My lovely ladle lumps (I realize that is a whisk but I am tired let's just pretend it's a ladle and that ladle sounds like lady)

My lovely ladle lumps (I realize that is a whisk but I am tired let’s just pretend it’s a ladle and that ladle sounds like lady)

I used to always get confused when people said "in" after a "y" sound because I thought it sounded like my name (Minnesota accent?).  I wonder if that famous blind musician got confused a lot when people baked muffins and said oh look, an ar-RAY of muffins

I used to always get confused when people said “in” after a “y” sound because I thought it sounded like my name (Minnesota accent?). I wonder if that famous blind musician got confused a lot when people baked muffins and said oh look, an ar-RAY of muffins

That’s it!  Half an hour from start to finish, even faster than lime pie!  These are so good fresh and hot with nothing, or with a bit of jam or butter on them.  After they come out, poke the top sides with a fork so the steam can escape.

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Moosewood Popovers

2 TB melted butter

4 eggs (moosewood says 2 or 3 but I love eggs)

1 1/4 c milk

1 1/4 c flour

1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 375, and grease a muffin tin with the melted butter.  Whisk the eggs with the milk until mixed, then add the flour and salt and whisk together.  Pour into the muffin tins and bake for 35 minutes until the top looks dry.  Prick with a fork and eat!

Fun-stuffed peppers

24 Mar

I don’t normally like making hors d’oeuvres, dumplings, or even cookies that require anything besides dropping, because I am lazy in this very specific respect.  But my advisor’s weekly “secret” seminar has treats (the speaker from the previous week brings treats for the following week), and I thought I’d try something crazy and wild.  So I bought a can of crescent roll dough (key to making the amazing easy cinnamon buns) and a bag of sweet mini peppers, and figured I’d figure out the rest the day before seminar.

I was surprised that I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted by googling, so here’s a Yen original recipe.  What actually happened was that I wanted to make pigs in a blanket, but then remembered we had a vegetarian in the seminar, so I bought the peppers instead.  These turned out AWESOME- the sweet peppers popped a bit, the paprika + pepper jack made it a little bit interesting, the cheesy filling was so creamy and offset perfectly the crispy buttery crescent roll dough.  I highly recommend.

I hope one day baby gets a tutor named Jack, so I can tell him to go pepper Jack with questions

I hope one day baby gets a tutor named Jack, so I can tell him to go pepper Jack with questions

There are two annoying things to do: one, seed the peppers.  I was lazy and just chopped off the tops to take out the seeds, but they’d look prettier if you left them on and cut a slit to pull out the seeds.  Two, fill the peppers.

Of course Jack won't be useful for taking tests.  Baby will just have to cr(e)am if he doesn't study ahead of time

Of course Jack won’t be useful for taking tests. Baby will just have to cr(e)am if he doesn’t study ahead of time

We'll just want to fill his head up with knowledge

We’ll just want to fill his head up with knowledge

I used a regular knife to fill the peppers.  The filling was a block of cream cheese + a few slices of pepper jack cheese + paprika for color.  These would also be great with some sliced green onion, any other sliced cheese, and any other savory spice.  Using a mixer to whip the cream cheese was key for making the filling spreadable, and it also spread out the sliced cheese very well.

Third annoying thing that was less annoying because it meant we were close to done: wrapping the peppers in crescent roll dough.

But academics isn't everything.  I don't want him to tear up if he messes up on a test.  Just roll with the punches, baby!

But academics isn’t everything. I don’t want him to tear up if he messes up on a test. Just roll with the punches, baby!

Also I got to use our pizza cutter, which we never use!  I don’t know if we’ve ever used it on pizza.  Or made pizza.  Hmm I should make pizza!

I guess that's what happens with kids: you just have to bundle them up and send them off into the world

I guess that’s what happens with kids: you just have to bundle them up and send them off into the world

These are both adorable and misshapen.  If you’re a fancy Pinterest-er who follows food blogs, I’m flattered you look at this and you should make these and make them more beautiful and tell me about it.  If you’re not a fancy Pinterest-er, you could make these and really impress people with them because they are so delicious and don’t need to be beautiful.  And they come out beautiful anyway!

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Fun-stuffed peppers (Makes about 20 peppers, about 7 appetizer-sized servings.  The “about” is how many peppers come in your bag)

1 package of Pillsbury Crescent Roll Dough (or something similar)

1 bag of mini sweet peppers

4 oz cream cheese (half a block)

2 slices of cheese (I used pepper jack, but cheddar or gouda could also be good) [you could also grate some cheese]

1/2 tsp paprika (ideas for other seasonings: garlic salt, oregano, cilantro…)

Set the oven to 350.  Seed your mini peppers by slicing them the long way and scooping out the seeds w/knife, or just cutting off the tops (the seeds are connected to the tops).  You’ll still want them sliced the long way.

Use a mixer to beat the cream cheese w/cheese and paprika.  Use a knife to scoop a small amount of filling into each mini pepper.

Roll out the crescent roll dough.  Use a pizza cutter to cut each triangle into three slimmer triangles, or be lazy as I was above and just cut strips.

Wrap each pepper with a small triangle or strip of dough.  If there’s leftover dough, just press it onto a larger pepper.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until dough is golden brown.

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