Monday, August 31, 2009

Layang Layang

We've been eating out a lot lately, so I don't have many new recipes, but I do have some restaurant reviews. :) The best impression I've gotten from a restaurant lately was when we went to Layang Layang in San Jose for a friend's birthday. The setting was kind of sub-optimal - it's a chain restaurant, but this location had a very hole-in-the-wall-ish appearance. I've been to the one in Milpitas, which is much cleaner/newer looking. At most Thai/Singapore/Malaysian/other SEA restaurants, I normally go for the Thai iced tea/coffee if available, since I rather like them. But this looked too good to pass up giving a try - it's a drink consisting of red bean, coconut milk, and shaved ice. And I've just gotta say - it was delicious. :)

I'm normally quite carnivorous (I'm from Shanghai; I grew up on pork of all forms), but I got really excited at their vegetarian menu. I ended up ordering the Veggie Pineapple Chicken, which was basically vegetarian chicken (tofu) and pineapple. But! It was served in half a pineapple shell, on a boat-shaped platter, with a little paper umbrella. ♥ I was really excited at the presentation. It tasted really good, too - a little on the spicy side for my tastes, but balanced well by the slight sweet and sour of the pineapple. It wasn't exactly what I'd expected, which I guess was partly my fault. I was thinking vegetarian chicken (素鸡) like the kind we have in Shanghai, but it was totally different - though not in a bad way. A couple other people tasted it and the general comment was, "It... tastes... like chicken..." It really does! I'd say it tastes more like chicken than the Shanghai style 素鸡, so I give it two thumbs up.

Oh and just because I can, here's a picture of the desserts we got. One came out first with a candle in it for the birthday boy, then we ordered two more for the rest of the table. Fried ice cream with fried bananas - always a crowd pleaser. I really liked that they added a little leaf on top - doesn't it look like an orange freshly picked off the tree? So cute!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Peach Pie

For the crust: (modified from here)
Toss the following into a food processor, then press into the bottom of a pie dish:
1 c white whole wheat flour
1/2 c shelled walnuts
1/2 c cold butter
1/2 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp ice cold water

For the filling: (modified from here)
Toss the following ingredients together and then pour into prepared pie crust:
6 large ripe peaches, pitted and sliced
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp lime juice
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Bake in preheated 400F oven for 20 min. Cover the edges of the pie with strips of foil to keep the crust from burning. Bake for another 20 min or until the juices are bubbling. Enjoy warm with vanilla ice cream.

Stuffed French Toast with Blueberry Compote

Hehe it looks and sounds much fancier than it really is. For the toast, i whipped together cream cheese and sugar, and spread between two slices of bread (plain cream cheese works too, as do chocolate chips and cream cheese). Then I dunked the sandwich into a mixture of beaten eggs, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Cooked in some butter on a heated nonstick pan over medium/medium-high heat for a few minutes on each side until golden brown. Cut into triangles (because what other way is there to cut a sandwich??). Garnish with powdered sugar and blueberry compote. Ok, to be honest, I'm not exactly sure that what I made is "compote", but it sounds so fancy that way! I just heated up blueberries and a little sugar in a saucepan until the berry juices started to ooooze. Overall--delicious! I've definitely decided that stuffed french toast >>> regular french toast.

Blueberry Muffins

Big sale on blueberries --> lots of muffins :D

This recipe was modified from a Betty Crocker cookbook. I added some oatmeal and put in way more blueberries than i was supposed to....

Blueberry Muffins
3/4 c milk
1/4 c veg oil
1 egg
1 2/3 c white whole wheat flour
1/2 c oatmeal
1/2 c sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 c blueberries

- preheat oven to 400F
- grease bottoms only of muffin pan
- beat milk, oil, egg
- stir in flour, oatmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt all at once until just moistened
- fold in blueberries
- bake for 20-25 min, allow to cool in tin for 5 min

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies, aka Death By Chocolate. No, Seriously.

I stumbled across this idea on Bakerella and decided I just simply had to try it. I did the making it from scratch thing though, using the one bowl brownie recipe from smitten kitchen and Symphony cookie recipe from this very blog! These were a big hit with everyone - I found it incredibly sweet/rich, so I cut them into tiny little 1.5x1.5cm squares, handed people a toothpick, and had them eat it like little brownie/cookie lollipops.

Time: 1:30
Serves: a lot

Brownie from smitten kitchen, minus 1/2 stick butter
Cookie from Epicurean Adventures

12oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
slightly less than 3/4 cup heavy cream
6Tbsp butter

1. Make the cookie dough recipe according to OhmsAndFarads's recipe on Epicurean Adventures.
2. Make the brownie batter according to the recipe on smitten kitchen. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9x13 pan. Pour the brownie batter into the pan. Drop spoonfuls of the cookie dough into the batter, pressing lightly to level it. Bake at 350F for 35min, or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean. Let cool.
3. Heat the cream and butter over low flame (don't boil). Pour over the chocolate chips and stir until the chocolate melts. It initially looks like it's seizing up, but just keep stirring and it'll be fine. Spread over the cookie-brownies and let set in the fridge. Cut and enjoy!

I think you can cut down the amount of sugar/butter/eggs that the individual recipes call for. I personally found this super super rich, so next time I think I would only use 2 eggs & 1 cup sugar for the brownie, 1 bar of chocolate for the chocolate chip cookie, and perhaps use half unsweetened and half semi-sweet chocolate for the ganache. It's really up to each baker to determine how they want to adjust recipes to their own tastes though.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Symphony Cookies

These cookies are really easy to make, and they're always a bit hit. Soooo, there are times (like around Christmastime) when I make hundreds of these...

Now, the trick is to use Symphony chocolate bars. Symphony chocolate is incredibly creamy, and far superior to any chocolate chips you'll find. I decided to also try out a few different ingredients: mint chocolate chips from Trader Joe's, mini peanut butter cups also from Trader Joe's, and Cadbury caramellos (chocolate stuffed with caramel mmm):

This recipe is adapted from a Hershey's cookbook we mail ordered many many years ago.

Symphony Cookies
(yield: ~50 cookies)
2 Symphony bars (2-4.25oz bars), chopped into chocolate-chip-sized pieces
6 Tbsp. butter
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 c. walnuts, chopped

- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Beat together butter, sugars, and vanilla.
- Add egg and beat
- Sift together flour and baking powder in a separate bowl.
- Blend flour mixture into butter mixture
- Stir chocolate and walnuts into into batter
- Drop batter by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. I usually put about 30 cookies on each sheet, because i keep the cookies pretty small. If you want bigger cookies, try maybe 15-20 cookies on a sheet. Bigger cookies generally taste better because there's more batter (this recipe has a LOT of chocolate chunks), and so the cookies become softer.
- bake for about 10-15 min until the cookies are golden brown. halfway through baking, rotate the sheet(s) for more even cooking.
- transfer cookies to wire rack to cool. for crispier cookies, allow the cookies to cool completely before placing in an airtight container. for chewier cookies, place into an airtight container as soon as they are cool enough to handle.
- best way to enjoy--nuked in the microwave to 15 sec with a tall glass of milk (or a scoop of ice cream!)

Chicken Tikka Masala

(Please excuse the lousy picture, I kept getting too busy eating this dish!)

This is a dish all my non-Indian friends recognize from the Indian restaurant, and it's surprisingly easy to make, so, it's one of the first dishes I consider making for other people. It's actually not a dish from my region of India, so it's not something I grew up eating. Hence, I have to admit, I've adapted an online recipe :P My version is quite spicy, so if you like the milder restaurant version, replace the green chili with half a jalapeno, and halve the coriander-cumin powder, chili powder, and garam masala in the sauce.

Chicken Tikka Masala (Yield: 6 servings)

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1inch cubes

1 c. plain yogurt
2 Tbsp. lime juice
2 tsp. cumin-coriander powder
2 tsp. red chili powder
2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ginger paste

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tsp. garlic paste
1 green chili pepper, sliced
3 tsp. cumin-coriander powder
1 tsp. red chili powder
1 tsp. garam masala
1/2 tsp. salt
6 medium tomatoes, chopped and blended in a food processor
2 c. half and half

Veggies-I like potatoes and bell peppers, but many others will work too, e.g. green beans, peas, etc.

First, combine all marinade ingredients, and then mix chicken cubes in. Allow to marinate for 2 hrs.

While the chicken is marinating, melt the butter on medium high heat in a pot. Add garlic and chili pepper and cook 1 minute. Stir in dry spices and salt. Stir in tomatoes and other veggies. Simmer 15 minutes. Remove green chili so that no one eats it accidentally! Stir in half and half and simmer to thicken--about another 5 minutes.

Remove chicken from marinade and broil until cooked through. Add to the sauce and simmer another 5 minutes. Serve with brown basmati rice or naan.

Red (err, Purple) Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

So, red velvet cupcakes are kinda gross, because there's so much food coloring in them. But nevertheless, I was craving them one evening, so this is what came out of the oven! These are in the same vein as other "healthified" cupcakes--I used white whole wheat flour instead of all purpose flour. Also, we didn't have enough red food color, hence the purple cupcakes! I adapted Paula Deen's recipe from here.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Ingredients (yields 21 small-medium cupcakes)
1 1/4 c. white whole wheat flour
3/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cocoa powder
3/4 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. buttermilk, room temperature
1 egg, room temperature
1 Tbsp. food coloring
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and flour muffin tins.

In medium mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder. In a large bowl, gently beat together oil, buttermilk, egg, food coloring, and vanilla:

Add sifted dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined:

Divide batter evenly among 21 cupcake molds. Each cup should be 2/3 filled:

Bake in oven for about 15-20 min, turning pans once, half way through. Test cupcakes for doneness. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting with cream cheese frosting.

Home-made Burritos

As anyone will tell you, burritos are pretty much my favorite meal ever. But till this experiment, I had never made burritos myself at home. I must say, I was quite satisfied with the results! Not quite the same as an authentic taqueria, but definitely a cheaper and slightly healthier alternative to eating out. I didn't get a picture of the filled burrito because, let's face it, I can't see a burrito without taking a bite right away :P

I stuffed my burrito-sized tortillas with the following ingredients: chicken, homemade "mexican" rice, black beans, homemade salsa, queso freso (from the cheese aisle of my safeway! i was impressed), and sour cream.

I like my salsa super-simple--I simply chopped together tomatoes, onions, and jalapenos, and stirred in some salt to taste. Some minced garlic would have been a nice addition as well.

For the rice, I sauteed some onions, added some chili powder and cumin, and then cooked some brown basmati rice in condensed tomato soup, the onions, and water. I've used this technique before, but with fresh tomatoes instead of tomato soup. The tomato soup gave a very strange flavor, so I'll stick with the fresh tomatoes (or even tomato paste or sauce) instead.

The chicken was really simple too--i just chopped a chicken breast into tiny cubes, and sauteed in oil with salt, pepper, chili powder, turmeric, and garlic.

I put each tortilla on a plate, covered it with a damp paper towel, and microwaved for 15 seconds before stuffing. That kept the tortillas soft and pliable. I couldn't really stuff the tortillas as much as they do at the taquerias, so my burritos turned out more like Taco Bell burritos than taqueria burritos. But still, delicious!