Thursday, December 31, 2009

Spicy Caramel Popcorn

An easy new year's eve snack. I didn't put enough cayenne pepper for it to be noticeable right away. It left more of a light tingle on the tongue about 20 seconds after eating. And I couldn't taste the salt at all, but one of the tasters commented on it. However, he might have been the one to get one of the coarse salt bits. Based on a recipe from SmittenKitchen.
  • vegetable oil
  • 1 T butter
  • 1/2 c popcorn kernels
  • 1 1/2 t soda
  • 1/4 to 3/4 t cayenne pepper
  • 2 c sugar
  • 2-3 T butter
  • 1/2 T kosher salt or 1-1.5 T coarse sea salt
  • water
  1. Grease 2 baking sheets or large serving plates, a large rubber spatula, and a large mixing bowl with a thin amount of oil.
  2. Pop the popcorn with 1 T butter (melt butter over med heat, add kernels, cover and shake until 2 sec between pops).
  3. Transfer to greased bowl, not letting the un-popped kernels go in.
  4. Combine cayenne pepper and baking soda in a small bowl. If your cayenne pepper is strong use less. If you like it spicy use more. I only used 1/4 t. Mine was very weak.
  5. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, butter, salt and 1/3 c water. Cook on high heat, without stirring, until mixture turns light golden-yellow or very light brown. About 5-10 min.
  6. Remove from heat and whisk in soda-pepper mixture.
  7. Immediately pour over popcorn. Don't worry about scraping all the caramel out - there will be plenty.
  8. Toss the popcorn with the spatula to coat.
  9. Quickly spread on greased plates. Spread out flat and separate into chunks while still warm.
  10. Cool to room temperature and store in ziplock bag or airtight container.
  • Add in 2 cups of peanuts, pecans, almonds or cashews.
  • No cayenne? Try paprika or chili powder - you'll need more since these are less spicy.
  • Bake the corn at 250F/120 C stirring every 20 min for an hour to let the caramel really ooze into the popcorn.
  • Shape into balls instead, wrap in plastic and tie with a ribbon for an edible ornament gift.
  • For a less sweet version, cut the sugar in half.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Golden Egg Braid

This bread was a lot of fun to make. Used a recipe for Braided Egg Bread and modified it for the bread machine. Moist and delicious.
  • 3.5-4 c flour
  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 2 1/4 t yeast
  • 1 t salt
  • 3/4 c water (*use less b/c of extra egg, try 1/2c)
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 3 eggs
  • Topping: 1 egg, 1 t water, parsley flakes
  1. Combine non-topping ingredients in bread machine and set to dough cycle. Check on dough after 5 minutes and add flour or water to get the right consistency.
  2. Knead dough a few times on a floured surface.
  3. Cut off one third and set to side. With remaining dough, divide into 3 parts. Roll to 13" long. Place on greased baking sheet and braid. Tuck ends under.
  4. With remaining dough, divide into 3 pieces. Roll to 14" long. Braid. Place on top of shorter, fatter braid. Pinch and tuck ends under.
  5. Cover and let rise until doubled - about half an hour.
  6. Mix egg with water. Brush on dough. Sprinkle with parsley.
  7. Bake 190C for 10-15 min. Cover with foil and continue baking for another 15 minutes or until bread is golden and done.
  8. Remove from tray to cool.

Just braidedRisen with egg washBaked
  • Add another egg yolk to the dough for a more eggy taste.
  • Sprinkle with poppy seeds instead of parsley.
  • Fill braid ropes with filling.
3/7/10 Third time making this. Used 1/4 c sugar, 1/2 c water, 3 3/4-4 c flour. Put yolk on small bread, white on base bread. Topped with Italian seasoning. Would add a bit of coarse salt next time. Brought to Luke's and was gobbled up. Liked the ratio.

Halloween Mummy Bread

10/30/15 I used this dough to make two loaves of mummy bread. One small one filled with apple-almonds-cream cheese, and the other filled with spinach-ricotta-herbs. The first one I made was too long and skinny to really look mummy like. The next one I made much wider and wrapped the braids in different directions. Finished the breads with eyes - sliced olives on the savory one, cream cheese and raisins on the sweet one (not pictured).
Verdict: the larger (2/3 dough) one had too much filling and was undercooked. Next time divide it in half, and cover when baking. The smaller one (1/3 dough) filled with apples was perfectly cooked and tasted great!

    Thursday, December 24, 2009

    Gingerbread Muffins

    I've got that bottle of molasses to use up so I thought I'd make another go of a gingerbread treat. This time in the form of muffins. I modified a recipe I found online - increased the spices, reduced the molasses (I thought the upside down pear cake was molasses heavy) replacing it with more brown sugar, added raisins and made it in the form of muffins.
    • 1.5 c flour
    • 1 t ginger
    • 1 t cinnamon
    • 1/8 t cloves
    • 1/2 t salt
    • 1/2 t powder
    • 1/2 t soda
    • 1/2 c butter, melted
    • 1/2 c brown sugar
    • 1/4 c molasses
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/2 c water, very hot
    • handful of raisins
    1. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.
    2. Line 12 muffin tray with paper liners (or grease).
    3. In a large bowl, combine wet ingredients.
    4. Add dry ingredients to wet.
    5. Stir in raisins.
    6. Distribute among muffin cups evenly.
    7. Bake at 180C for 20-25 min.
    Next time, more ginger!

    Friday, December 18, 2009

    Chocolate Mint surprise muffins

    Modified a recipe for chocolate muffins to put a mint spin on them. Used a free candy cane from school (a mini peppermint one) and 2 kinds of Andes mints. Would have liked more peppermint but only had the one cane. Next time peppermint extract or more candy canes. Tasted delicious hot out of the oven - with the center coming out nice and gooey. Will see how they taste tomorrow in the cold. Original is on AllRecipes. Modified version below (with notes in parentheses).
    • 2 c flour
    • 2/3 c cocoa powder (increased)
    • 1 c sugar (reduced)
    • 1/2 t soda
    • 2 t powder
    • 1/2 t salt (increased)
    • 1.5 c milk (increased)
    • 1-3 candy canes, mini (added) [or mint extract]
    • 1 egg
    • 3 T vegetable oil (increased)
    • 1 t vanilla
    • 1 c chocolate pieces (semi-sweet morsels, Andes thin mints)
    • 12 Andes thin mints, mint on the outside (added)
    1. Dissolve candy cane(s) in milk.
    2. Combine flour, cocoa, sugar, soda, powder and salt in a medium sized bowl.
    3. Combine milk, egg, oil and vanilla in a large bowl.
    4. Add dry ingredients to wet. Do not overmix.
    5. Add in 1 c of chocolate pieces.
    6. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full with batter. Place green Andes on top. Cover with remaining batter.
    7. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 180C or until done. In a small oven, be sure to rotate muffin tray.
    Next time, either more peppermint sticks or peppermint extract to replace the vanilla. All Andes mints instead of half chocolate chips. Rotate muffin tray.

    Sunday, December 13, 2009

    Creamy Sweet Potato-Carrot Soup

    I used the Carrot Soup recipe as a basis but then used the ingredients I had on hand and the spice combination I wanted to try. I ended up with a delicious soup that was reminiscent of pumpkin pie. I probably put in a bit too much cloves and cinnamon. But it was still delicious.
    • 1 massive sweet potato, peeled and diced
    • 2 massive carrots, peeled and diced
    • 1 small potato, peeled and diced
    • 1/2 onion, chopped
    • 3-5 cloves garlic, minced
    • 6 cups water
    • bouillon cubes
    • cinnamon, cloves
    • ground cumin
    • black pepper
    • crushed red pepper
    • 4 T crushed red pepper
    • 1-2 c milk
    1. Melt the butter in a stock pot.
    2. Add the onions and fry until translucent, about 3-5 minutes.
    3. Add the garlic and spices. I used about 2 t cumin, healthy dash of crushed red pepper, several shakes of strong cinnamon, and a couple dashes of cloves. Stir for 1-2 minutes.
    4. Add the potatoes and carrots. Stir.
    5. Pour in water and bouillon cubes. I used chicken stock.
    6. Bring to boil. Lower to simmer, until potatoes are cooked, about 20-30 minutes.
    7. Turn off heat. Reserve 2 cups of solids. Puree the rest.
    8. Add milk to make desired consistency. (Soup may be reheated, but do not boil.)
    9. Grate black pepper on top.

    Friday, December 11, 2009

    Apple-Pear Brie Bread

    This is delightful fresh from the oven - with warm, sweet pears balanced out by the savory brie, all wrapped up in fresh baked bread. I made this bread a bit too long considering the size of my oven (tiny) but it still came out. I only had 2 apples so I diced 2 pears to make up for the filling.

    • 1 c milk
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/3 c butter (75 grams)
    • 1/3 c sugar
    • 1/2 t salt (or less if using salted butter)
    • 4.5 c all purpose flour
    • 1 T yeast
    • 1 T butter
    • 4 c fruit (apples, pears), diced
    • 1/4 c brown sugar, lightly packed
    • 4 T sliced almonds
    • 4 oz brie (110 g), rind removed
    Topping (Optional)
    • 1/4 c brown sugar
    • 1 t flour
    • 1 T butter
    1. In a bread machine, combine dough ingredients. Set to dough cycle.
    2. Saute fruit with butter for 10 minutes on medium heat. Add brown sugar and continue stirring on low for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
    3. On lightly floured surface, roll dough to 12x15 inches or if using a mini oven to length of tray. Transfer to greased foil.
    4. Mix almonds with fruit. Spread mixture evenly down the center.
    5. Top with globs of brie.
    6. Cut sides at a diagonal to 1/2" from fruit, about 1.5" apart. Lift dough on alternating sides to lay over center as a braid.
    7. Let rise until doubled - about 1h30.
    8. Mix flour, sugar and butter. Sprinkle on top.
    9. Bake at 180C for 30 minutes or until browned.
    • The original recipe calls for Granny Smith. I used Fuji and two red pears.
    • Sprinkle some spices in for additional flavor: nutmeg, cinnamon, etc.
    • Use a different cheese - cheddar, mozzarella, your favorite, etc
    • Use a completely different filling. Check out this one with mustard, onions, pears, walnuts, cranberries and brie!
    • Don't use the topping - just spread melted butter on top before baking - or nothing at all.
    I was expecting the topping to melt over the bread - instead it stayed in clumps and came out as a strangely brown-spotted bread. Not the prettiest, but when you bite into it, it's a little crunchy, and of course sweet. So it does have its benefits.

    Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice

    This one's a no-brainer - get yourself some oranges, a juicer and squeeze away. Or if you're without a juicer, scroll down for directions on doing it by hand. Here are some facts about oranges in Taipei as I find out...

    Oranges in winter are super cheap in Taipei. They're everywhere and then disappear suddenly -- much like the seasons for mangoes and strawberries. So get them while you can. And 8-13 jin (9-14 lb) gets heavy in plastic bags so bring a backpack with you when you go.

    2009 Season
    12/5/09 spotted oranges on sale at the fruit market around the corner from the xiaonanmen/ximen Carrefour for 1 jin = 12 nt. That's 8 1/3 jin for 100 nt. Pretty good! We bought 50 nt worth. I squeezed it the next day to fill a 1.5 liter bottle and a full mug.

    12/8/09 spotted orange trucks at Fuxing-Heping intersection and on the SE side of Daan park while on the bus. Both had signs for 13 jin = 100 nt.

    12/11/09 found the Fuxing-Heping truck. 13 jin = 100 nt or 6 jin for 50 nt on one side of the truck. These oranges were all a little dark in color - spotted...what most would consider a little ugly. Seemed on average a little smaller than the other side, though they came in all sizes (tiny to huge). On the other half were 8 jin for 100 nt of oranges that were purely orange. Better looking over all. I asked him the difference (besides looks) and he said the tastes were about the same. I think the keyword is about. Had I brought a backpack I would have bought both kinds to do a side-by-side taste test. As it was, I didn't, so I just bought the cheaper ones. 13.2 jin for 100 nt. He said he's there on certain days (I forget now...but definitely Fridays) and at 7:30 pm he's at the Daan location on other days. Squeezed about 6 jin right away to make 1.7 liters of juice. It wasn't as sweet as the 12/5 batch but still tasty. Who's complaining at this price? On the way, I passed another truck selling pears, tomatoes and oranges - but these were a different variety - 1 jin for 30 nt. They were on Heping heading east, just before the Fuxing intersection. On the way back, on the south side of Heping at Long Quan St there was a truck selling 8 jin for 100 nt.

    Oranges at the market range in price depending on the type of orange, the size, and the quality. I recently got some juicing oranges, which were very small and very dark - so dark that squeezing them stained my nails. I no longer have an electric juicer so I was forced to squeeze the old-fashioned way - by hand!

    Hand Squeezed Orange Juice
    1. Squeeze each orange tightly.
    2. Rinse thoroughly.
    3. Cut in half. Remove seeds.
    4. Optional: Slice along the edge separating the fruit from the peel (about a half inch deep).
    5. Squeeze orange half over large bowl. Keep rotating and squeezing orange until there's no more juice.
    6. Transfer from bowl into juice container and refrigerate.
    • This method leaves a lot of pulp and some whole bits of orange.
    • I recommend wearing an apron so as not to spray your clothes.

    Monday, December 7, 2009

    Sweet Potato, Potato and Onion Casserole

    The onions absorb incredible flavor in this dish, but I had trouble getting the top layer of potatoes to cook through. Possibly because I forgot to cover it the first 30 min of baking or maybe because I didn't add enough water or because I added the cheese later. But it still turned out delicious and I would make it again.
    • 1 large sweet potato, thinly sliced
    • 3 small potatoes, very thinly sliced
    • 1 onion, very thinly sliced
    • 4 T butter
    • salt and pepper
    • 2 T flour
    • 3/4 c broth
    • 1 c shredded mozzarella
    1. Preheat oven to 180C. Grease an 8x8 baking dish.
    2. Make a layer of potatoes. Place some onion slices on top. Dot with butter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
    3. Repeat, alternating layers of sweet potatoes and potatoes.
    4. In a small bowl, combine broth and flour. Pour over potatoes.
    5. Dot with butter.
    6. Sprinkle cheese over the potatoes.
    7. Cover with foil.
    8. Bake for 1 hour or until potatoes are cooked through.
    • Put cheese in with every layer.
    • Add breadcrumbs and dried parsley on top before baking.
    • Use a different kind of cheese: cheddar, Swiss, Monteray Jack, etc

    Sweet Potato and Vegetable Soup

    Now that winter weather is upon us, it's time to put my 14 qt massive soup pot into use. The first soup of the season comes from Vegetarian Classics by Jeanne Lemlin. Limited by both ingredients I can find in Taipei and the ones that I like, I made some minor changes. I served this at a potluck dinner party and everyone enjoyed it. Flavor improved by the next day - the sweetness of the potatoes seemed to come through more.
    • 1/4 c olive oil
    • 1 onion, (finely) diced
    • 5 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 (28 oz) can whole tomatoes, diced (or ready-cut diced)
    • 6 cups soup stock
    • 1 massive sweet potato (or 2 large), preferably dark orange, cut into 1/2" cubes
    • 1 (15 oz) can Fagioli beans (or small white beans, navy/Greath Northern), rinsed well and drained
    • 2 c diced fresh or frozen green beans
    • (1 t salt, if stock isn't salty enough)
    • freshly ground pepper, generous seasoning
    • a few pinches of cayenne pepper (if you like it strong, otherwise just a few dashes)
    • 1 T minced fresh basil
    • 1 large carrot, diced
    1. Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute until tender and golden, about 5-10 min.
    2. Mix in the tomatoes and stock. Bring to a boil.
    3. Stir in remaining ingredients. Return to a boil, lower to a lively simmer, and cook until sweet potatoes are tender, about 20-30 min.
    4. Serve at once or reheat when needed.
    Add 4 c frozen corn instead of/in addition to the carrot.

    • The orange sweet potatoes, white beans, green beans, yellow corn, red tomatoes produce a colorful soup. Switching it to brown Fagioli beans and dark orange carrots mutes the colors a bit but it still looks quite nice.
    • Flavor improves with time. The potatoes seemed sweeter the next day.
    • Freezes well - just remember that liquids expand in the freezer, so leave a little extra room in your container.
    Frozen soup reheats nicely

    Upside-down Pear Gingerbread

    This is a good-looking cake but too sweet for my taste. I'd probably cut the sugar-butter base in half next time, reduce the sugar/molasses in the cake, and increase the spices. Actually, maybe I'd try to find a pear cake recipe instead. I was inspired to make this after seeing molasses for the first time, in the Wellcome (supermarket) near the Guting McDonalds. The recipe is from Jeanne Lemlin's Vegetarian Classics - slightly modified below.
    • 4 T butter (1/2 stick)
    • 1/2 c brown sugar (light or dark)
    • 2 ripe but firm pears, Anjou or Red
    • 1 c flour
    • 1 t baking soda
    • 1/4 t salt
    • 2 t cinnamon (if weak, use more)
    • 1 t ginger
    • 1/2 t allspice (cloves if you have it)
    • 1 egg
    • 1/2 c brown sugar
    • 1/3 c unsulfured molasses
    • 1/2 c sour milk (milk + 1 T lemon juice)
    • 4 T melted butter
    1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Butter the sides of a 9" round cake pan.
    2. To prepare the topping, melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the brown sugar and stir together until blended. Heat for a few minutes until it thickens slightly. Spread evenly into the cake pan. Note: When the cake is flipped over, this topping will infuse itself into the cake.
    3. Peel and slice each pear into quarters. Core, then slice each piece into 3 slices. Arrange the 24 slices evenly around the pan.
    4. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.
    5. In a separate bowl, beat together the egg, brown sugar, molasses, sour milk and melted butter. Pour into flour mixture and mix until well blended.
    6. Pour the batter over the pears. Bake 30-40 min or until knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
    7. Cool for 10 min. Invert onto plate.
    8. Serve warm or at room temperature.

    Saturday, December 5, 2009

    Refried Beans

    I finally spotted pinto beans here (at Carrefour) - so was very excited to try my hand at refried beans to go with the tortilla wraps (from Costco).
    • 1 15-oz can pinto beans
    • 1/4 onion
    • 2-3 cloves garlic
    • 1 T oil
    • salt + pepper
    • optional: cheese
    1. Mash the undrained beans in a bowl. Note: A potato masher is a lot easier than a fork!
    2. Heat the oil in a small pan.
    3. Add the onion and garlic. Stir until translucent.
    4. Add the beans. Continue stirring until boiling. Reduce heat to a simmer.
    5. Continue stirring until enough liquid has evaporated to suit your taste - about 5 minutes.
    6. Season as desired. Stir in cheese if using. Serve immediately!

    Variations and Notes
    Blend half the beans first.
    Add chili powder and cumin.
    5/29/10 Use one can of pinto beans and two cans of berlotti/fagoli/cranberry beans with 1 onion, 9 cl garlic, and 1 t? cumin. Put in 8x8 dish and topped with mozzarella. Good for burrito filling and as chip dip.
    ZhongXiao Fuxing Wellcome used to have pinto beans, but did not have any (nor gorbanzo beans) on the 5/29/10 visit.

    Baked Custard

    When I was growing up I often made custard with my mom. It was an incredibly simple recipe and my favorite part was sprinkling the nutmeg on top and watching it spread. I looked up several recipes and went with this one. However, it didn't really turn out right - which may be more my oven's fault, but then again could be a ratio difference. I prefer a deeper custard and a firmer consistency.
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 c milk
    • 1/2 t vanilla
    • 2 T sugar
    • pinch of salt
    • nutmeg
    1. Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl.
    2. Add the milk, vanilla, sugar and salt. Stir.
    3. Pour into baking dish. Sprinkle with nutmeg (amount depends on strength of your nutmeg).
    4. Bake 325F/165C for 50-60 min. You may need to rotate the dish part way to ensure even baking (such as in a mini-oven).
    5. Cool.
    6. Refrigerate.

    Thursday, December 3, 2009

    Cocoa Brownies

    I still don't have any vanilla extract so I found this recipe which replaced it with almond extract. It also uses cocoa powder instead of chocolate which I thought would be easier to make. I had to tweak the original since I also still don't have a heatproof bowl, butter that comes in sticks, or any pecans or walnuts. The cocoa powder can be either kind since there isn't any baking powder in this recipe - it's the eggs that act as the leavening agent. The almond flavor is quite strong, and since I'm a big fan, I'm giving this 5 stars. However, if you don't like the taste of almond extract you'll definitely want to use vanilla instead. Here's an approximation of what I did.
    • scant 1/2 c melted butter
    • 1 c sugar (orig: 1 1/4)
    • 3/4 c + 2 T cocoa powder
    • 1/4 t salt
    • 2 t almond extract
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/2 c flour
    • small handful of semisweet chocolate chips (1/3 c?)
    1. Preheat oven to 165C. Line 8" baking dish with foil. Grease bottom.
    2. Combine butter, sugar, sifted cocoa and salt.
    3. Stir in extract.
    4. Add eggs one at a time. Stir until shiny, thick and well mixed.
    5. Sift in flour. Stir until not visible. Then beat another 40 strokes.
    6. Add chocolate chips and stir.
    7. Transfer to pan and spread evenly. Bake 20-25 minutes.
    8. Cool completely.
    9. Lift foil out and cut into 16-25 pieces.
    • Add 2/3 c pecans or walnuts instead of chocolate chips.
    • Use 1/2 t vanilla instead of almond extract.
    • Top with almonds.
    • Combine butter with other 3 ingredients and melt in microwave in 20 sec intervals.
    • Add a dash of cinnamon.
    • Other brownie recipes: Brunette, Peanut Butter, Regular

    Thursday, November 19, 2009

    Chocolate Yogurt Muffins

    I ran out of vanilla extract and only had semisweet chocolate chips so ended up making some changes to the original recipe. It came out OK. I would use a higher quality chocolate next time, with a little less sugar, some vanilla extract and maybe skip the cinnamon. The top came out like a brownie and the inside like a chocolate cake. Here's what I did...
    • 1 1/6 c semisweet chocolate morsels
    • 1/2 c oil
    • 1/2 c yogurt
    • scant 1 cup sugar
    • 3 large eggs, room temp
    • 1 t almond extract
    • 1.5 c flour
    • 1.5 t baking powder
    • 1/2 t salt
    • 2 heaping teaspoons cocoa powder
    • Several hefty dashes of cinnamon
    1. Set 12 muffin liners in tray. Preheat oven to 180C.
    2. In a large bowl, combine flour, powder, salt, cocoa, and cinnamon. Make a well in center.
    3. In a medium bowl, combine 1/4 c oil with yogurt, sugar, eggs, and extract.
    4. Melt chocolate and 1/4 c oil in pan over very low heat, stirring constantly.
    5. Add yogurt mixture to dry ingredients and stir slightly (need not be fully incorporated).
    6. Add melted chocolate mixture to the batter and stir.
    7. Pour into cups.
    8. Bake 30-35 min or until done.

    Saturday, October 3, 2009

    Brownies and Variations

    I made two batches of brownies for a Moon Festival bbq at a friend's house. The regular brownies were a smashing hit (5 stars), but the peanut butter ones were a little off (3 stars).

    Brownies *****
    • 2 oz dark/bitter chocolate (half a Carrefour bar)
    • 1/2 c butter
    • cocoa powder (to taste, about a tsp or two)
    • 1 c sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/2 t vanilla
    • 1/4 c flour
    • 1/4 t salt
    1. Butter and flour/cocoa an 8x8 or 9" round pan.
    2. In a medium bowl, break chocolate into coarse pieces.
    3. Melt the butter. Pour over the chocolate. Stir until chocolate is melted.
    4. Mix in cocoa.
    5. Stir in sugar, followed by eggs and vanilla.
    6. Add flour and salt. Do not overstir.
    7. Pour into pan.
    8. Bake at 165C for 30-35 min. Do not overbake.
    9. Let cool.
    10. Serve warm or chilled. Freezes well.
    Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies ***
    They were undercooked and because I'd ran out of regular sugar used a coarse grain one and it was definitely noticeable. The recipe is still fixable though...just bake longer next time and use a finer sugar.
    • 1/2 c peanut butter
    • 1/6 c sugar (the finer the better)
    • 2 T butter, softened
    • 1 T flour
    • 1/2 t vanilla
    1. Prepare brownie batter as above. Pour into pan.
    2. Combine all filling ingredients.
    3. Drop by spoonfuls into pan.
    4. Gently swirl with knife.
    • Add in chopped nuts.
    • Infuse sugar water with flavor from mint leaves.
    • Cocoa powder (less fat) vs chocolate
    • Stir in chocolate chips.
    • Use a cream cheese-peanut butter filling.
    Looking for something
    • with a little less of a chocolate hit? Try Brunette Brownies.
    • without vanilla or baking powder? Try Cocoa Brownies.

    Thursday, August 27, 2009

    Kidney Bean Ideas

    Got some cans of kidney beans from JM. Too hot to cook chili so need to figure out what else to do with them.

    Monday, August 24, 2009

    Chocolate Sponge Cake

    The cake rises to about double, but deflated to half for me after I flipped it out. The mini oven cooks differently from regular ovens, so next time I'd cook this above the middle shelf and at a slightly higher heat. It still tasted delicious.
    • 1/3 c all purpose flour
    • 1/3 c cornstarch
    • 1/3 c cocoa
    • 4 eggs, separated
    • 3/4 c sugar, divided
    • 1 t vanilla
    • pinch of salt
    1. Use a 9" round cake pan with high sides or a springform pan. Line bottom with foil or wax paper. Grease bottom and flour sides generously.
    2. Sift flour, cornstarch and cocoa into a medium bowl.
    3. In a separate medium bowl, cream yolks, half the sugar and vanilla using an electric mixer - 5 minutes.
    4. In a large bowl, whip whites and salt until soft peaks form. Add sugar gradually and whip until stiff.
    5. Fold dry ingredients and yolk mixture into egg white mixture.
    6. Pour into prepared pan.
    7. Bake 30 min at 180C/350F on middle shelf or until center is firm to the touch.
    8. Separate cake from sides of pan with knife. Invert, right side up, onto cooling rack.
    9. Serve with chocolate mousse or ice cream.

    For Comparison
    This was the recipe that came with the bend'n'bake silicone cake pan.

    Chocolate Sponge
    • 8 whole eggs
    • 250 g caster sugar
    • 200 g plain flour
    • 50 g cocoa powder
    • 1 t baking powder
    1. Preheat oven to 180C/356F.
    2. In an electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar until light and fluffy.
    3. Sift together flour, cocoa and baking powder.
    4. Gently fold with a spatula the flour mix into the egg mixture.
    5. Pour mixture into mould. Place into a preheated oven for approx 35-40 min.

    Fajitas Chicken

    I'd make a few changes for next time, though this turned out quite easy and delicious.
    • 1 t paprika powder
    • 1 t szechuan chili powder
    • 1 t salt
    • 1 t ground cumin (didn't have any so used a bit of thai seasoning)
    • 1/2 t garlic powder
    • 2 T cornstarch
    • 1/2 c water
    • 2 T olive oil (used 4 T grapeseed oil -- too much)
    • 2 skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into strips
    • 1/2 onion, sliced
    • fresh lime juice (I used lemon)
    • oil for the pan
    1. In an 8x8 dish (or large ziploc), combine spices, cornstarch, water and oil.
    2. Add chicken and onion. Coat thoroughly.
    3. Refrigerate 15 min-several hours.
    4. Heat oil in pan over medium heat. Cook chicken, approximately 6 minutes.
    5. Transfer to bowl. Sprinkle with lime juice.
    6. Serve immediately with tortillas, tomatoes, greens, cheese, etc.
    Chicken Fajita Marinade II ****
    5/29/10 Prepared this for a Mexican dinner. First batch without the chili and paprika, second with. Prefer it with additional spices.
    • 1/4 c beer
    • 1/3 c fresh lemon juice (or lime)
    • 1 T oil
    • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
    • 1 T brown sugar
    • 1 T worcestershire sauce
    • 1 T minced fresh cilantro
    • 1 t ground cumin
    • salt to taste
    • [1 t chili powder]
    • [1/2 t paprika]
    • 4 chicken breasts, cut into strips
    Place in glass dish or 1 gallon zip lock, and marinate 1-3 hours. Drain before cooking.

    Chicken Fajita Marinade III *****
    5/29/10 Tried this third marinade - the orange has a strong flavor - which is tasty but not for everyone. The citrus flavor was not there in the leftovers.
    • 4 cl garlic, chopped
    • 2 t gr cumin
    • 2 t chili powder
    • 2 t paprika
    • [1/2 t dried oregano]
    • orange's zest
    • 1 lemon's juice
    • 2 T oil
    • 6 T fresh coriander, chopped
    • 4 chicken breasts, cut into strips
    Marinate at least 15 min.
      Prepare a beef filling instead.
      Great with mango salsa and refried beans.

      Sunday, August 23, 2009

      Pasta Salad

      A good summer dish.
      • 1 lb short pasta (spirals or shells)
      • 3 small, narrow cucumbers (seedless)
      • 1/2 large carrot
      • tomatoes (yellow cherry tomatoes best for color variety, but red will do too)
      • red onion, chopped
      • red bell pepper
      • spiced tofu gan
      • balsamic vinegar
      • olive oil
      • fresh garlic, grated
      • fresh ginger, grated
      • lime juice
      • black pepper
      • cilantro, chopped
      1. Boil the pasta. Drain well. Put in large bowl. Let cool.
      2. In a small jar, combine oil and vinegar in a 1:3 ratio or to taste. Add garlic, ginger, black pepper, lime juice and any other seasoning. Shake well. Pour over pasta and mix.
      3. Score the sides of the cucumbers with a fork. Cut lengthwise in quarters. Slice. (In the picture, the cukes on the left have been scored and to me, look fancier than the plain ones on the right.)
      4. Cut carrot into short matchsticks.
      5. Seed and chop tomatoes.
      6. Chop onion.
      7. Cut capsicum into small pieces.
      8. Cut tofu gan in half. Slice into small pieces.
      9. Add all chopped items to pasta and stir well.
      10. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
      • pine nuts
      • olives
      • cheese (grated or feta)

      Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

      It's impossible to find crushed pineapple and last time I tried using fresh it came out way too moist. So I substituted grated apple for the pineapple and it still came out very moist. I don't like a super sweet frosting - I even found this low sugar recipe too sweet - next time I might only use one cup of confectioners sugar and half the amount of butter.
      2/28/16 Made this again and reduced the oil and sugar and it came out great. Adjusted below with original amounts in brackets

      Carrot Cake
      • 3 eggs
      • 3/4 c buttermilk (or regular milk and 1 T lemon juice)
      • 1/2 c oil (or part applesauce) [was 2/3 c]
      • 1.3 c white sugar (or use part brown) [was 1.5]
      • 2 t vanilla
      • 2 t cinnamon
      • 1/4 t salt
      • 2 3/4 c flour [was 2 1/4 c]
      • 2 t soda
      • 2 c shredded carrot
      • 3/4 c coconut
      • 3/4 c walnuts
      • 8 oz crushed pineapple with juice (or grated apple and extra carrot)
      • 1 c raisins
      1. Grease and flour two 9" round cake pans.
      2. In a medium bowl, combine cinnamon, salt, flour and soda.
      3. In a large bowl, combine eggs, milk, oil and sugar. Add flour to mixture.
      4. In a large bowl, combine carrots, coconut, nuts, pineapple and raisins. Add to egg-flour mixture and fold in well.
      5. Pour into pans and bake 45 minutes at 180C or until done.
      6. Let rest in pan several minutes. Invert onto serving plates to cool.
      7. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to frost.
      • In the mini oven use a higher rack.
      • If very wet, add more flour.
      • OK to bake in two rounds.
      • 10" springform, 55 min. 8x8 and 12 cupcakes, 30 min.
      • 5/28/2010 Used 2 carrots, 1 apple, 1/2 c butter, ~3 T oil, no nuts. Increase flour to 2 3/4 c. Be sure to let cool in pan for several minutes so it doesn't fall apart!
      • 2/28/2016 Used 3 large carrots shredded in food processor. Made 8" and 9" rounds and layered with cream cheese frosting below (only using 2/3 of the batch).
      Cream Cheese Frosting

      • 2 - 8 oz pkg cream cheese, softened
      • 1/2 c butter (or less), softened
      • 1 t vanilla (or more)
      • 1 c confectioner's sugar [was 2 c]
      1. Combine cream cheese and butter until smooth.
      2. Add vanilla.
      3. Sift in sugar to avoid lumps. Mix well.
      4. Refrigerate until firm enough to spread on cake.
      Combining it All Together
      1. Spread 1/3 frosting on bottom layer.
      2. Place other cake layer on top.
      3. Spread remaining frosting on sides and top.
      4. Decorate with walnut pieces or carrot sticks or fresh fruit.
      5. Chill until ready to serve.

      Fresh Mango Salsa

      I made this in the morning, chilled it in two spaghetti sauce jars and had them served up with tostitos for a party. Delicious! This is close to the original recipe, but because mangoes and avocados come in giant sizes, this made a lot more than it would have in the US. So I increased the garlic and red onion to match. Also couldn't find a jalapeno so used a dried chili from the garden, and no limes, so used lemon instead.
      • 1 large mango, diced
      • 1 large avocado, diced
      • 4 tomatoes, seeded and diced
      • 1 chili pepper (jalapeno or other), chopped
      • 1/2 c cilantro, chopped
      • 6 cloves garlic, minced
      • 1 t salt
      • 2 T lime juice (or lemon)
      • 1/2 c red onion, chopped
      • 3 T olive oil
      1. In a large bowl, combine mango, avocado, tomatoes, jalapeno, cilantro and garlic.
      2. Add salt, lime juice, red onion and olive oil.
      3. Transfer to jars and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
      4. Serve with chips, on top of baked fish, or in a burrito.
      Use papaya or pineapple instead of mango.
      Add cucumber, red bell pepper, ...
      Add 1 t minced fresh ginger.

      5/29/10 Used ai-wen mangoes, no avocado, and 2 peppers from the roof (Stewart's gift). Next time, be sure to wear gloves when chopping the chili. The peppers tasted quite spicy fresh (had a burning left hand for 8 hours) but did not come through in the salsa after marinating.

      6/12/10 Used ai-wen mangoes and 2 avocados.

      6/26/18 Used several mangoes, several avocados, roma tomatoes, garlic, 1/2 a small purple onion and 1 jalapeno. It was not spicy at all - recommend leaving jalapeno seeds in next time.

        Wednesday, July 29, 2009

        Spinach Potato mix

        This is a work in progress. It's really hard to get fresh or frozen spinach in Taipei, so while I'm out of the country, I thought I'd try my hand at some spinach recipes. This one needs some modification - mostly less potato and more spices. First what I used:
        • 3 medium Yukon gold potatoes
        • 16 oz frozen spinach (2 packages, or 1 large package)
        • oil
        • 1/2 med onion, chopped
        • 5 garlic cloves, minced
        • Curry powder (garam masala mix)
        • salt
        1. Boil the potatoes until softened but still firm (not fork split/mashable).
        2. Add the spinach at the end.
        3. Drain. Set aside.
        4. Heat the oil in a pan. Add the garlic. Fry 1 minute. Add the onion.
        5. Add spices (cinnamon, coriander, mustard seeds, paprika, cardamom, ginger, turmeric).
        6. Add spinach-potato mixture.
        7. Keep at low heat for 20 minutes so spinach can absorb the flavors.
        8. Season with salt as needed.
        9. Serve with rice or bread (naan).
        Too much potato! Not enough spice flavor.

        Next time
        only one potato. Add turmeric.
        Maybe cook the spinach separately. Combine with garlic and then puree.
        Add yogurt to make it creamy.
        More spices!