Wednesday, December 29, 2010

more from the nocturnal kitchen, ad hoc style

yes, more night time, indoor pictures. le sigh.
on the up side, full of deliciousness :)

first, a box of daifuku from a family friend...
a delicious rainbow of colors.
soft, chewy mochi enveloping a sweet azuki filling,
covered in things like toasted rice and sesame seeds!!

for one of my christmas gifts from my dad, i got thomas keller's ad hoc at home. so excited! it's a beautifully heavy book, big glossy pages filled with classic recipes i have only heard about. i spent a few nights looking at the gorgeous, mouth-watering photos and learning tips for improving execution within the kitchen. i've skimmed only about half of the book so far, and can't wait to learn all i can from it :) thanks dad!

tonight i prepared my family a dinner using recipes from the book, or inspired by the book. 

the 4 recipes that acted as my muses:

iceberg lettuce salad with blue cheese dressing
purée of garlic potatoes
honey-glazed cipollini onions
peppercorn-crusted beef tenderloin

usually, i am not a fan of iceberg lettuce. a proselytizing salad, i must say!! even my dad, who is normally not a huge fan of salads in general, loved the "fork and knife" quality of this one. the thyme on the oven-roasted tomatoes was great, and all of the textures worked very well together. i didn't render the fat off the bacon as called for, since bacon is better crispy, in my opinion.

i forgot to serve this with chives, whoops. this recipe was only inspired by the garlic purée from AHAH, i did not want to make garlic confit (sorry) since i prefer a sharper garlic taste. i simply used some of the techniques described in his recipe to prepare my regular garlic mashed potatoes. they were fantastic as always!

i couldn't find cipollini onions at the king soopers i went to, so i went ahead and applied the basic technique and ingredients to white pearl onions. still turned out wonderfully.. though i think i let the glaze reduce a bit too much so it was distributed throughout the dish in clumps. but a great accompaniment to the main course!

this meat was so tender and delicious. wow, this is the first time i haven't messed up a steak prepared in the kitchen (as opposed to on the grill). the peppercorns were steeped in oil so they weren't overwhelmingly spicy, but rather provided a nice crunch and textural contrast to the soft chewy flesh. a beautiful crimson color on the inside. these were made only with salt and pepper, and still tasted quite good.

a beautiful meal, a fresh yet classic take on meat and potatoes. comfort good, so delicious.

what other adventures will thomas keller take me on? we shall soon find out!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

holiday nosh

though it has been a rather volatile past month every which way, it is finally christmas. having no funds to properly decorate my boulder apartment, it was when i arrived at home that i really started to feel the season :)

a dinner of fresh shrimp pad thai last night, and after a night of little sleep (the norm!).

early this morning i chose this gooey diet-slayer as my breakfast of champions


cinnamon cardamom rolls

for the rolls:

  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup salted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 4 small eggs (i would guess 3 large would work, as well)
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 4 cups AP flour
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
for the guts:
  • 1/4 cup salted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp cardamom
dissolve yeast in warm water. sprinkle in sugar, let sit for 5 min to proof.
in a small bowl, combine melted butter, cream, eggs, and vinegar. add yeast mixture and stir well.
in a larger bowl, combine flour and sugar.
add wet ingredients to dry ingredients slowly, stirring to combine.
knead by hand for ~ 10 min, or until dough is smooth and elastic, and no longer sticky.
transfer dough to a large, well-oiled bowl. cover tightly with plastic wrap.
place bowl in a warm spot.
let rise til doubled or more in size, ~ 2.5 hours. (first rise)

once dough has properly risen, punch it down. 
roll out dough to a rectangle about the size of a jelly roll pan, about 1/4 or 1/3 inch thickness.
using spatula, smooth softened butter over surface of dough. leave about 1 inch at one short end.
sprinkle brown sugar, cinnamon, and cardamom over buttered surface. smooth with spatula.
start at a short end and roll up dough. make sure to end with the short end with no filling.
pinch end of the roll to seal.
using a serrated knife, slice roll into ~ 1 inch sections.
place these sections into a greased baking pan. (i used 9 x 13)
cover with plastic wrap and a clean dish towel.
place pan in a warm spot.
let rise til rolls appear well bloated, ~ 1 hour. (second rise)
bake at 320 F for ~ 20 min.

vanilla cream cheese glaze
  • 2 tbsp cream cheese, softened
  • 3-4 tbsp milk (i used cream and water)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • confectioners sugar, to taste (i used about 1/2 cup)
whisk cream cheese and milk til smooth.
add confectioner's sugar, 1 tbsp at a time, combining well.
add vanilla extract.
drizzle over warm rolls.

fresh outta ze oven
this dough is soft and supple, which is wonderfully suited to this bakery classic. plus it has a beautiful golden hue, all the more for visual feasting.

these spices always play nice with each other. cardamom adds another dimension to a classic cinnamon roll, a je ne sais quoi quality..
outdoor glamour shot

okay just one more photo :P

Saturday, December 18, 2010

spring onion sushi rolls, the tutorial

hello there!

thanks to everyone who took the time to look at my last post, spring onion sushi rolls. i wanted to share more with you all about how i made these simple yet beautiful rolls.

note, i did take these pictures at night so they won't be as beautifully lit as the previous post. perhaps a new years resolution, i will commit to transition my kitchen activities out of the night and into the more brightly lit day :)

anyhow, please forgive the fuzzy lines and muted colours. here are the basics!

set up your nori sheet on some plastic wrap as above.
using wet hands, uniformly spread room temp sushi rice.
carefully roll up into a tight cylinder, using bamboo mat for shaping.

here is how your roll will look.
wrap firmly with plastic wrap, set aside in a cool spot to set.

after about 10-15 min, take a wet knife and slice down the center.
take each half and slice down the centers as well.
you end up with four quarters of the original roll.
be sure to keep your knife wet as needed.
place a fresh nori sheet on your setup.
taking 2 of the pieces, place back to back at the edge of the sheet.
place your filling in the middle
i used spring onion, but get creative!

 seafood, tamago, vegetables are all great variations.
place other 2 quarters atop the first two.
they should mirror the bottom; form the square.
 use your hand and fold the nori sheet around the roll.
pinch each corner to make sure it forms a neat square angle.
use your bamboo mat to firmly wrap the angular aspects.
set aside wrapped square roll for 10-15 min.
again with a wet knife, carefully slice into bites of desired thickness.
i served mine with a reverse-rolled roll with baked kabocha squash.
the brightly colored centers remind me of springtime!
serve immediately, with soy sauce, etc.
i hope you all enjoy! i look forward to experimenting with more rolls soon, and i will be sure to share all my adventures :)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

a study break

alas, i do have one more post before this term ends. 

amidst the flurry of finals, a pretty study snack.

calrose med-grain cooked with a few grains of wild rice, adding a subtle pink hue.

a center of fresh, pungent spring onion

wrapped with nori into delightful, artful squares!

enjoyed with vinegar-spiked soy sauce :D

four exams down, one to go!

***UPDATE*** tutorial up, click here! :) enjoy

Saturday, December 4, 2010


sporadic posting... an end of the semester curse!
the good news? in no more than 2 short weeks, i will have almost a month off from school!  with no classes or assignments to worry about, i will be free to play in the kitchen without hesitation <3

a thing or two miscellaneous items from the past month or so,
a snapshot of an unfinished project
i made little mocha and chocolate chip cakes, which were filled with handmade raspberry-balsamic whipped cream. then they were covered in mint rolled buttercream, made with real mint and schnapps. i was then going to decorate them with white chocolate details.. but life became quite busy and the cakes eventually became soggy waiting for in the fridge. sigh... someday i will re-do this project, and finish successfully.

springform pizza
i have found my favorite springform pan idea. chicago style stuffed pizzas! amazing.
please check out the link! i used a different pizza dough recipe (i'll post it later, when i make a proper post for this food item!) and the results are beautiful. it's easy, impressive, and most importantly delicious.

the first time i made this was in my apartment, here's the insides gushing out. 
mmm... messy and great
after sharing this springform pizza with some friends, i decided to make it for my family. i made this as lunch for my parents the second day i was back home for break. (better lighting!)
ready for the oven
(you can see, i got better at shaping the crust this time :D)
fresh from the oven!
thanksgiving week was a bit more hectic than planned, i had to study lots for upcoming exams, spend time with family and friends, and catch up on much needed rest.

mr. kim, one of our family friends, created beautiful amazing appetizers! everyone was amazed. i took a picture of one, it manages to be the only decent picture of the evening.
wheat crostini, thin steak slice, orange marmalade, sesame seeds?, parsley
i can't remember the exact ingredients clear off the top of my head, but i believe the above is somewhat correct. it was a beautiful mix of sweet, salty, crispy, umami, nutty, bitter... the right amount of everything was well put together so each element contrasted the other just perfectly to create one exciting bite. definitely a highlight of this meal! thank you mr. kim!

dinner was amazing like usual... turkey, roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, spinach-fruit-shrimp salad, stuffing, BBQ ribs, spinach casserole, mac n cheese, green been casserole, gravy, rolls... endless plates of amazing food made with love by people we love :)

for thanksgiving i created three desserts:
1. pumpkin pie
the picture looks funky since there was a heart-shaped ring of pie crust adorning the center as decoration, which sunk in upon slicing.

timeless fall holiday dessert.. i spiced the pumpkin using cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, ginger, and cardamom. with moist brown sugar and both heavy and sour creams. set and given silky texture with egg. all baked into a homemade pie crust.. buttery, flaky yet also somewhat dense. it's pretty hard to mess up pumpkin pie..really!

2. chocolate amaretto torte
my experiment dessert. especially with anything that comes out of an oven, i am reluctant to serve to people something i am making for the very first time. i like to have that trial run by myself, so i won't be embarrassed! so i know how to nuance and time the dish correctly. but i really wanted to try this out, and thanksgiving seemed like a great occasion.

the main ingredient of this is chocolate! rich, dark chocolate. the end result has an exterior that is hard and crunchy like biscotti, and an inside that is moist and like a rich brownie. since this torte is mostly chocolate, it is obscenely rich and decadent. a tiny slice to hush even the most profound chocolate cravings.

3. apple spice cheesecake
if cheesecake and apple pie had a child... this would be it. a gingersnap crust, plain cheesecake flavoured with spices similar to those used in pumpkin pie... when baked the top of caramelized beautifully. granny smith slices were simmered in cider, sugar, and spices until soft and then placed atop the cheesecake. the leftover simmering liquid made a great serving sauce that was perfect for the fall flavours. this one was the favourite at dinner! people loved it :)

i would love to write more but i'm off... to make some calzones! bye until after finals, i'll be back soon enough :) wish me luck