Tuesday, February 7, 2017

French Onion Tater Totchos

I had a good handful of Gruyere cheese leftover from making zucchini pizza the other day but no more squash so I was trying to figure out a good way to use it up.  I considered sprinkling it over some fingerling potatoes that I had gotten in my Boston Organics delivery, but then I had an eureka moment and decided to make French onion tater totchos!

They're French onion because I caramelized onions and then deglazed the pan with sherry and beef bouillon.  They're totchos because it's melted cheese and other toppings on top of tater tots that you'd eat like nachos.  But whatever you want to call them, they're amazing.

I ended up using a 10" skillet to bake the totchos in, but you could use another similarly sized pan or even double the recipe and make this in a sheet pan.  Using a full bouillon cube in the recipe as is makes a pretty salty dish, so if that's a concern for you, you can use half a cube; I was just too lazy to try to halve the cube myself.

French Onion Tater Totchos
serves 2-4

14 oz. frozen tater tots
1/2 cup cooking sherry
1 beef bouillon cube
2 medium onions, finely sliced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 oz. shredded Gruyere cheese

Arrange the tater tots in a single layer and bake according to the instructions on the bag.

While the tots are baking, dissolve the bouillon cube in the sherry.  Heat a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat and add the onions.  Start cooking them without any butter until they dry up and start to color.  Turn the heat down to medium-low, add the butter, and continue cooking until the onions are soft and evenly browned.  Add the bouillon-sherry to deglaze the pan and continue cooking until most of the liquid is gone.

When the tater tots are done, remove from the oven and set the oven to broil.  Top the tots with the onion mixture and then the shredded cheese.  Broil for a few minutes until the cheese is nice and melty.  Serve immediately.

Previously:  Salted Egg Yolk Mochi Ice Cream
Two Years Ago:  Burmese Coconut Noodles with Tofu
Three Years Ago:  Homemade Tagliatelle with Shaved Truffles
Four Years Ago:  Passion Fruit Marshmallows
Seven Years Ago:  Nutella Ice Cream
Eight Years Ago:  Tomato and Eggs Over Rice

Monday, January 30, 2017

Salted Egg Yolk Mochi Ice Cream

Earlier last year I discovered a new kind of steamed bun, the liu sha bao.  I think translated directly it means "quicksand bun" but it's actually a lot better tasting that it sounds.  Inside is a molten filling made of salted egg yolk custard, and I could probably eat 5 of them in a row.  I tried making some a few weeks ago, but the result was just okay and not really worth all the work when I can just get the perfected bun at dim sum.

Because of that experiment I still had 3 cooked salted duck eggs sitting in my fridge, though, so I figured I'd try to make an ice cream out of them.  I followed the template of Jeni's Salty Vanilla Frozen Custard, but I replaced 3 of the raw egg yolks with 3 cooked salted duck egg yolks, which you can find in the egg section of a Chinese grocery store.  I reduced the salt a little because the egg yolks were already salted and added a little bit of turmeric to increase the yellow coloring of the ice cream.  It still comes out a rather pale yellow, but I didn't want to add any artificial food coloring.

The resulting ice cream is incredibly rich, and tastes pretty much like the inside of a liu sha bao but in ice cream form.  So I decided to try making it into mochi ice cream to continue down that path.  I've tried making mochi ice cream before and that attempt was disastrous, to say the least, so this time I made sure to follow a trusted recipe.  I'm happy to say that the one from Just One Cookbook worked marvelously.  These salted egg yolk mochi ice creams are perfect because you only need a couple of bites of the ice cream, and the soft, chewy mochi helps keep the intense flavor from being too overwhelming.  Plus, I think they look super cute and remind me of liu sha bao!

Salted Egg Yolk Ice Cream (adapted from Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream Desserts)
makes about 1 quart

3 cooked salted duck eggs
2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
2 3/4 cups whole milk
3 large raw egg yolks
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup

Carefully crack and peel the salted duck eggs, removing the whites until you are left with only the egg yolks.  Mash the egg yolks in a medium bowl, then add the cream cheese, salt, and turmeric and whisk until smooth.

Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk, the raw egg yolks, and cornstarch in a small bowl and set aside.  Fill a large bowl with ice and water.

Combine the remaining milk, the cream, sugar, and corn syrup in a 4-quart saucepan, bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually add about 2 cups of the hot milk mixture to the egg yolk mixture, one ladleful at a time, stirring well after each addition. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula, just until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat and strain through a sieve if necessary.

Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese mixture until smooth. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.

Remove the frozen canister from the freezer, assemble your ice cream machine, and turn it on. Pour the custard base into the canister and spin until thick and creamy.

Pack the custard into a storage container. Press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.

Mochi Ice Cream (adapted from Just One Cookbook)
makes about 6-8 pieces

Ice cream
3/4 cup glutinous rice flour
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup cornstarch

Place a cupcake pan in the freezer to chill.  Use a cookie dough scooper to scoop 6-8 balls of ice cream.  Place each ball on an aluminum cupcake liner in the cupcake pan and freeze for several hours until hard.

Whisk together the glutinous rice flour, sugar, and water in a medium microwaveable bowl.  Cover and microwave for 30 seconds.  Stir with a wet rubber spatula then microwave for another 30 seconds.  Continue to stir and microwave in 30 second increments until the mochi comes together in a slightly translucent, sticky mass.

Generously dust a Silpat or parchment paper with cornstarch.  Transfer the mochi on top and dust with additional cornstarch.  Dust a rolling pin with cornstarch and roll out the mochi into a thin layer, about 1/8".  Chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Use a 3 1/2" cookie cutter to cut the mochi into circles.  I was able to easily cut out 6 circles, and if you want, you can reroll the scraps to make more circles, just make sure to redust with cornstarch.

Place one of the scoops of ice cream in the center of a mochi circle.  Bring the edges of the mochi up and over the ice cream and seal together, working quickly so that the ice cream doesn't melt.  Wrap in plastic wrap and return to the freezer.  Repeat with the other scoops of ice cream and mochi circles.

When ready to eat, let sit at room temperature for a few minutes so that the mochi can soften.

Next:  French Onion Tater Totchos
Previously:  Marion Cunningham's Yeast-Raised Waffles
Two Years Ago:  San Bei (Taiwanese Three Cup) Tofu and Ramen
Three Years Ago:  Grilled Cheese Egg in a Hole
Four Years Ago:  Homemade Bagels
Seven Years Ago:  Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Maple Cinnamon Sage Brown Butter
Eight Years Ago:  Dutch Babies

Monday, January 9, 2017

Marion Cunningham's Yeast-Raised Waffles

I've posted about overnight waffles before, but I wasn't very impressed with them so I've been making Waffles of Insane Greatness instead whenever I want waffles.  Then I discovered this recipe and everything changed.  I still love the Waffles of Insane Greatness, especially if I want waffles now and not tomorrow, but the flavor you get from letting the yeasted batter sit overnight is so amazing and complex and worth the wait.  Unlike the overnight waffle recipe I tried previously, these waffles stay crispy, especially if you keep them in a warm oven while you make the rest of the batch.  They also freeze very well, which is good because the recipe makes quite a lot of waffles.  I just pop them in my toaster oven in the morning like an Eggo waffle.

The original version of the recipe has you letting the batter sit out overnight on the counter at room temperature.  If that freaks you out, you can always let it sit in the refrigerator overnight, but you will lose a little of the flavor.  The first time I made these, I read the recipe wrong and added the eggs with everything else so I let it rise in the fridge.  The second time I added the eggs after letting it sit out overnight, and both times were pretty great so just do what you feel comfortable with.  The recipe also scales up and down pretty well; I've made a half batch when I've only had 1 egg as well as a 6x batch for a ski trip!

Marion Cunningham's Yeast-Raised Waffles (from The Breakfast Book)
makes about 12 waffles, depending on the size of your waffle iron

1/2 cup warm water, about 100°F
1 packet (about 2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
2 cups milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water in a large bowl and let dissolve while you measure the rest of the ingredients.  Add the milk, melted butter, salt, sugar, and flour and whisk until combined.  Cover and let sit overnight on your counter or in the refrigerator.

In the morning, whisk in the eggs and baking soda.  Cook in a waffle iron and serve warm.  Waffles will freeze well; just reheat in a toaster or toaster oven.

Next:  Salted Egg Yolk Mochi Ice Cream
Previously:  Chocolate Babka
Two Years Ago:  Peanut Butter Noodles
Three Years Ago:  Banoffee Pie
Seven Years Ago:  Banana Bread Yeasted Waffles
Eight Years Ago:  Buckeyes

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Chocolate Babka

Last year I had the smart idea to try making a matcha babka wreath with milk bread dough.  In my head it would be pretty, and green-tinged, and perfect for the holidays.  In reality, it was dense, ugly, and I ended up throwing it out.

This year I decided to follow this tried-and-true recipe for chocolate babka from Smitten Kitchen.  The only change I made to the ingredients is that I used the zest from a whole orange instead of half an orange, and the smells that came out of my oven were glorious.  I also tried shaping it using what I remembered from the pictures in the Baking Breads cookbook.

Since the recipe makes two loaves, I decided to give one of the loaves the "pull-apart swirly bread" treatment.  If you'd like to try it, roll out a quarter of the dough (half a loaf) into a rectangle about 10" wide and as long as you can get it.  Spread with 1/4 of the filling and roll it up along the long edge.  Seal the seam and place in the freezer for 15 minutes while you repeat the same with the other quarter of dough.  Slice each log into 8 pieces, and arrange all 16 pieces in a well-greased 9" springform or square pan.  Let rise for an hour and then bake for 25-30 minutes at 375°F until nicely browned.  Brush with syrup and serve.

Chocolate Babka (based on Smitten Kitchen)
makes 2 loaves

For the dough:
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (about 100 F)
4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Zest from 1 orange
3 large eggs
11 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

For the filling:
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

For the syrup:
1/3 cup water
6 tablespoons sugar

Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer and let sit while you measure out the rest of the ingredients.  Add all the ingredients for the dough except the butter and mix with a dough hook until it comes together.  Add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, until it is all incorporated.  Knead on medium until the dough is completely smooth and comes away from the bowl.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, make the filling by melting the chocolate chips and butter together, stirring until smooth.  Add the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and cinnamon and stir until it forms a spreadable paste.  Grease 2 loaf pans and line with parchment paper.

Remove half the dough from the refrigerator and roll out on a floured surface until 10" wide on the bottom and as long as you can get it.  Spread the filling on top, leaving an inch border on all sides except the bottom.  Roll up the dough in a tight spiral starting from the bottom.  Wet the top edge and seal together.  Wrap with aluminum foil and place in the freezer while you work on the second half of the dough.

Remove the first log from the freezer and use a sharp knife to slice in half, lengthwise, revealing all the layers of dough and chocolate filling.  Make an "X" with the two halves, placing the prettier half on top.  Twist the top half and bottom half and place in one of the greased pans, tucking the ends underneath.  Repeat with the second half.  Cover both and let rise another hour.  Preheat oven to 375°F.

Bake loaves for 25-30 minutes, until a skewer meets no resistance when inserted and comes out without any dough (it will most likely come out with some chocolate filling which is very tempting to lick).

While the babka is baking, make the syrup by combining the water and sugar in a small pot and heating until the sugar is all dissolved.  Brush the loaves with the syrup as soon as they come out of the oven.

And if you manage to have any leftover babka, you can turn it into the most amazing bread pudding using this recipe from Serious Eats!  (I just added some coconut milk on top for contrast.)

Next:  Marion Cunningham's Yeast-Raised Waffles
Previously:  Pull-Apart Scallion Swirly Bread
Two Years Ago:  Zuppa Toscana
Three Years Ago:  Flower Pavlovas
Four Years Ago:  Tartine Lemon Cream Tart
Seven Years Ago:  Gaufres de Liege (Belgian Waffles)
Eight Years Ago:  Hua Juan

Monday, December 19, 2016

Pull-Apart Scallion Swirly Bread

This is another post that started with a picture on Instagram.  I saw Sarah Jampel's picture of kubaneh from the Breaking Breads cookbook and was utterly transfixed.  Then it showed up again on the Food52 feed in a picture for their store's twine holder, but all anyone wanted to know was what the beautiful, crazy, swirly bread was on the right.  I managed to track down the recipe from my library's copy of Breaking Breads and tried it without even knowing what it was supposed to taste like.

The original was a bit too salty for my liking, but the picture above garnered the most likes I've ever gotten for an Instagram post!  I decided to take a cue from Molly Yeh's scallion pancake challah bread and try a hua juan version of kubaneh by brushing a mixture of scallions and sesame oil on the dough before rolling it up.  I also used a fresher yeast this time, and the results are pretty spectacular if I do say so myself.

The bread itself reminds me a lot of milk bread in that it's slightly sweet and very soft, yet the parts that get browned turn out a little crunchy from all the butter!  And even though you just apply a small smear of the sesame-scallion filling, it's so fragrant that the flavor gets infused throughout the whole roll.  It's definitely better when warm, so if you're eating it a day or two later, microwave it for 10-20 seconds to rewarm it.

Pull-Apart Scallion Swirly Bread (adapted from Breaking Breads)
makes 16 rolls

For the bread dough:
1 1/4 cups water
1 packet (about 2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 stick butter, very soft

For the filling:
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup finely chopped scallions
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar

Sprinkle the yeast over the water in a stand mixer bowl and allow to dissolve.  Mix the flour, sugar, and salt in a separate bowl, then add to the yeast and water.

Use the dough hook on low to combine the ingredients, then mix on medium-high until the dough comes away from the bowl cleanly.  Give the dough a few folds to form a nice, tight ball.  Cover the bowl and let rise until almost doubled, about 30 minutes.

Lightly butter a large plate (I usually use the butter wrapper to do this).  Divide the dough into 8 pieces, shape each into a tight ball, and place on the plate.  Cover and let rise for another 30 minutes.

Mix the sesame oil, scallions, salt, and sugar in a small bowl.  Generously grease a 9" springform pan with the softened butter.

Use about a tablespoon of the butter to generously grease a clean 11" x 17" rimmed baking sheet.  Place one of the balls of dough on the baking sheet, smear a little more butter on top, and start pressing it out to cover almost the entire sheet.  Sprinkle some of the scallion filling across the middle lengthwise third of the dough.  Fold the top third of the dough down and then the bottom third up (like a business letter fold, but lengthwise).  Roll the dough up into a tight spiral and cut in half.  Place the cut sides up in the buttered pan.  Repeat with the remaining balls of dough.  Cover the bottom of the pan with a large piece of aluminum foil or place in another pan to catch any melted butter that leaks out.  Cover the pan and let the dough rise a final time for 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Bake the bread for 15 minutes, then turn the heat down to 325°F.  Bake for another 30-40 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.  If there is any butter left, melt it and add it to any remaining filling mixture and brush on top of the rolls.  Serve warm.

Next:  Chocolate Babka
Previously:  Cranberry Curd Tart
Two Years Ago:  Puppy Chow Pie
Three Years Ago:  Miso Pumpkin Soup
Four Years Ago:  Homemade Ramen Noodles
Seven Years Ago:  Tim Tam Slam Ice Cream
Eight Years Ago:  Pork and Cabbage Dumplings

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Cranberry Curd Tart

When I first saw NYT Food's Instagram post featuring a cranberry curd tart I knew I needed to make it if only because of how gorgeous it was.  But each time I made it I couldn't figure out how to photograph it so that the picture would do it justice.  Which meant I just kept making it over and over again.  Awful, I know.  Then this last time I got a pomegranate in my Boston Organics delivery and decided to try sprinkling some on top of the tart for some contrast, and it finally looked as good as it tasted!  They also give the tart a little crunch and freshness to cut all the richness.

For the crust, instead of the using the hazelnut crust in the original recipe, I used Smitten Kitchen's "great unshrinkable sweet tart shell" because hazelnuts are expensive and it's pretty much a no-fail recipe.  To save time and effort, I usually end up just pressing the dough into the tart pan right after making it (starting with the edges), docking it, and then freezing it for 30 minutes before blind baking it with the buttered aluminum foil on top.  Feel free to use whatever tart crust you prefer, though, as long as it's blind baked beforehand.  I can see Thomas Keller's pine crust tart crust being amazing for this recipe.

For the cranberry curd, make sure that you don't overcook it after adding the eggs, because the egg whites curdle really easily if the mixture gets too hot.  Since it's kind of hard to tell when it starts to thicken, the sign I look for is when steam starts rising off the top.  You definitely don't want the mixture to start bubbling, and it helps to keep stirring to distribute the heat.

Cranberry Curd Tart (adapted from The New York Times)
makes a 9" tart

Your favorite 9" sweet tart crust, blind baked
12 oz. cranberries
1 cup sugar
Juice and zest from 1 orange
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 eggs plus 2 egg yolk
Pomegranate arils, for garnishing (optional)

Heat the cranberries, sugar, orange juice, and zest in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Cook until the cranberries have popped and softened, about 10 minutes.  Transfer to a food mill or sieve and push the cooking liquid into a medium bowl.  Place butter in the saucepan and pour the liquid back into the saucepan.

Whisk the eggs and egg yolks in the bowl, then add a couple of ladlefuls of the liquid into the bowl and whisk to temper the eggs.  Pour everything back into the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened and steam just starts coming off.  Cool to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Pour the cooled curd into the blind-baked tart crust.  Bake for 10 minutes to set the curd.  Allow to cool completely before garnishing with pomegranate arils.

Next:  Pull-Apart Scallion Swirly Bread
Previously:  Pear Apple Cranberry Slab Pie
Two Years Ago:  Pull-Apart Thanksgiving Leftover Stuffed Bread
Three Years Ago:  Thai Coconut Sticky Rice with Mango
Four Years Ago:  Vanilla Passion Caramels
Seven Years Ago:  Wah Guay (Taiwanese Rice Cake with Meat Sauce)

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Pear Apple Cranberry Slab Pie

Sometimes you get an idea in your head that you just need to make a reality.  This was one of those times.  I already had alphabet cookie cutters from another project and a good slab pie recipe.  I didn't have any leaf cookie cutters, but those were easy enough to freehand cut out of the dough.

For the filling I used up fruits that had been accumulating from my Boston Organics deliveries and ended up using 3 pears, 2 apples, and 4 oz. of cranberries, which I think ended up being about 5-6 cups of chopped fruit.  I liked how the cranberries added a little tartness and color to the otherwise simply sweet filling.  (If you want to add more than 4 oz. of cranberries, I would also up the amount of sugar to account for the additional tartness.)

I cheated a little and didn't make a bottom crust, but in the end I think that was a good call because it saved a lot of time and aggravation and really, no one likes the soggy bottom crust right?  That meant I could make the top crust a little thicker and have plenty of dough left for the cut outs.  If I had had the time, I would've added more leaves, but for my first attempt at pie dough decorations, I think it went pretty well.  =)

Pear Apple Cranberry Slab Pie
makes a 9" x 13" slab pie

2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
12 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cubed
3 tablespoons ice water, more as needed
3 pears, peeled and chopped
2 apples, peeled and chopped
4 oz. fresh cranberries
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg, beaten

Remove a heaping tablespoon of flour from the 2 cups and reserve for the filling.  Mix the remaining flour, sugar, and salt together in a food processor.  Add the butter and pulse until the butter has been cut into pea-sized pieces.  Add the water and pulse to combine.  Add more water if needed, a teaspoon at a time, just until the dough comes together.  Form the dough into a disc, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Place the chilled dough on a large piece of floured parchment paper or Silpat and roll the dough out to a 9" x 13" rectangle about 1/6" thick.  You should have enough leftover dough to make cut outs from.  Cover and return to the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

Mix the sugar with the reserved flour and cinnamon,  Toss with the chopped pears, apples, and cranberries.  Pour into a 9" x 13" baking pan.

Decorate the pie dough as you like and place it over the fruit.  Make an egg wash by mixing the beaten egg with 1 tablespoon of water.  Brush the entire crust with the egg wash.  Bake for 20 minutes, then rotate and bake for another 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Next:  Cranberry Curd Tart
Previously:  Soy Garlic Glazed Korean Fried Cauliflower
Last Year:  Pad Thai
Two Years Ago:  Raindrop Cake
Three Years Ago:  My Mom's Taiwanese Sticky Rice
Four Years Ago:  Duchikey (Simplified Turkducken)
Seven Years Ago:  Nanaimo Bars
Eight Years Ago:  Homemade Crystallized Ginger