Saturday, October 27, 2012

Persimmon Galette

Last week I harvested a big load of Fufu persimmons from the tiny tree that I've planted for a couple of years and have been eating 3-4 persimmons every day because I love them so much. But today I've decided to make persimmon galette or a free form pie because……first, I still had Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust and only 1 roll left in the box. Second, I need to get rid of it because I need some room for other things.

And third, I have actually never cooked with persimmons before, except eating them raw – they are so good when eating raw and fresh who would think of cooking them, right? And this is my first cooking with persimmon ever! The recipe is so easy and the result is very impressive for a quick dessert on the weekend. The taste is really nice and clean with a hint of fresh ginger in them. But if you have a scoop of vanilla ice cream along side with it, then you know how to treat yourself right.

What you need:

1 sheet Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust, softened as directed on box
4-5 Fuyu persimmon, peeled and sliced
3 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp orange juice
Pinch of salt
granulated sugar for sprinkle

How To:

Preheat the oven to 375’F
- Combine persimmon, brown sugar, salt, orange juice, ginger, coconut oil, nutmeg, and gently toss to mix well, set aside.
- Unroll the pie crust onto the cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Arrange persimmon slice as you like in the middle of the pie crust and leave the edges about 2 inches all around
- Fold up the edges around the fruit filling and pleats/press to secure them together. Brush the edges with the coconut oil and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
- Bake the galette until it turns golden brown and filling is cooked for about 40-45 minutes, rotate once.
- Let it cool a little on the rack and serve warm, with cool whip or a scoop of vanilla ice cream, if desired


Friday, October 19, 2012

Pad Thai Koong (shrimp)

Here it is…Pad Thai.

I’ve been sitting on the fence thinking whether to post this famous Thai dish “Pad Thai” since the beginning of this blog.  Why?  Because cooking Pad Thai is a lot of works!  And I am little bit of lazy bones lately!    And yet, to make authentic Pad Thai, there are some rules to follow and I’m not so good in following the rules.   But Pad Thai is something that I don’t want to mess with; Pad Thai is a Thai dish that needs some respects!   Nonetheless, here’s I am trying to be a master chef telling you what makes Pad Thai authentic.

And this is my attempt!

Make Pad Thai like Thais do
1. The real Pad Thai has brown color, and not red as for some might try to add ketchup, tomato paste, or chili sauce.  It’s considered a no-no!
2. The real Pad Thai use tamarind pulps and not vinegar in the Pad Thai sauce.  Oh yes, I can tell the different.
3. The real Pad Thai contain these essential ingredients: preserved radishes, dried shrimp, shallots, garlic chives, bean sprouts, tofu, eggs, fish sauce, and palm sugar.
4. The real Pad Thai serves with additional on the side including granulated sugar, dried chili flakes, ground peanut, lime wedge, fresh bean sprouts, and fresh garlic chives……….and a small wedge of fresh cut baby banana blossom!  Well, I was not going to mention it because I don’t like it, and nowadays, they don’t serve baby banana blossom with Pad Thai anymore!  
5. Do not add anything else I did not mention here even though you might think it sounds like “Thai” – such as ginger or Thai Basil.   Noooo….

…You got it?   Awesome!

As for the Pad Thai sauce, I don’t think there is an “exact” recipe for that.  It depends on how “you” like it!    Since the must-have main three ingredients of the sauce include the saltiness from fish sauce, the sweetness from palm sugar, and the sourness from tamarind, the result of the sauce can be prepared as however you preferred.   If you like salty, add more fish sauce; If you like sweet, add more palm sugar; and if you like sour, add more tamarind pulps.  It’s that simple. 
 If you try to find the “balance” of how the sauce should be, I suggest that you use the same equal amount of those three ingredients to make the sauce.  But I doubt that the result would not be as “balance” as you wanted to be since those three have a very unique and distinctive taste of their own.  You just have to play around with it.  I like more tamarind in the sauce.  You know what you like, don’t you?

Now you know why I’m being indecisive to post this since my style of cooking is just to having fun, and not for the exact required rules.  Did I mention that I’m not so good in following the rules?
However, I’m not here trying to tell you episodes of “How-To Pad Thai,” and I wouldn’t want anyone to be intimidated by it.     It might require some simple rules and times to prepare with some of wired ingredients that some of you out there might have never heard of them before, but it worth to try.    Like my dad used to say, “You never know you might like it!”    

Anyway, this is my attempt to tell you about “Pad Thai.”   Now it’s your turn, have fun!

Chive flowers, aren't they cute?
Chive grown in my backyard
Main ingredients for Pad Thai: from the left - beansprouts, preserved radish, dried baby shrimp, cooked shrimp (or your choice of meat),rice noodles, eggs, chives, tofu, shallots, and Pad Thai sauce.

What you need:    for 2-3 servings
6 oz. fresh rice stick noodle (or dried but if you can find it fresh, it’s better)
8 oz. pre-cooked shrimp or chicken, pork, or other seafood
2 large eggs
4 oz. extra firm tofu (I used fried firm tofu), cut into strips 1’ long and not too thin
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots  
2 tbsp small dried shrimp, soaked in water to soften
2 tbsp finely chopped preserved radishes
1/4 cup garlic chives cut into 1 1/2’ long + for serving on the side
1 cup fresh bean sprouts + for serving on the side
1/4 cups Pad Thai sauce (recipe below)
4-5 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
1/2 cup water

concentrate tamarind paste
I like to grate the palm sugar first so it dissolves easier.

Pad Thai Sauce:
3 tbsp fish sauce
4 tbsp palm sugar
3 tbsp tamarind pulps concentrate
2 tbsp water
: add all the ingredients into a small sauce pan and bring to a boil until the sugar is dissolved and turn a little bit thicken, set aside. Make 1/4 cup.

the finished sauce

As for servings on the side use as little or as much as you like:
Fresh bean sprouts
Garlic chives, washed and cut into 4’ long from the bottom
Granulated sugar
Dried chili pepper flakes
Ground peanuts
Banana blossom (I was not going to mention that!)

How to:

1. Set the large sauté pan or wok or large skillet over the medium-high heat; add 3 tbsp the canola oil
2. When the oil is hot, add shallot, preserved radishes, tofu, and dried shrimp, and quickly toss together to mix well.
3. Immediately add the noodles, followed by the sauce, stir to mix well.  If you feel like the pan become dry and the noodles stick to bottom, you can add 1-2 tbsp water, little by little so the noodles won’t get dry and burn.

 4. Push the noodles to the side of the pan to make room for the eggs.  Add another 2 tbsp of oil and crack the eggs directly to the center of pan and scramble quickly to cook through; add cooked shrimp and stir everything together to mix well.  Again, if you think the pan is too dry, add a little bit of water.  However, be careful about adding water, the noodles should be soft and chewy but not mushy.

5. Turn off the heat and add bean sprouts and chives.  Stir gently to mix well in the noodles.  Done!
Serve immediately with the sides: 1 tsp each sugar, ground peanuts, and chili flakes along with a lime wedge, a handful of fresh bean sprouts and a few chives leaves/stalks.


Friday, October 12, 2012

Thai Green Mango Salad or “Yum Ma-muang”

It’s so hard to find the right green mango here in Los Angeles to make this salad. When I said the “right” green mango, I meant the green mango that is still green and very sour. The green mangoes I can find here are mostly from Central America which they aren’t really sour. You might think that I’m being picky but they aren’t just the “right sour” that I’m looking for. 

Ma-muang Ok Rong is the mango used for this dish, and it’s very sour when it’s still green, but It becomes surprisingly super sweet when it ripe!    “Ok-Rong”  literally means “cleavage.”  Because it has a deep crease along from its stem down to almost the bottom of it, who gave it a name you might ask. Well, I dunno! Somebody who has some sense of humor may be! And mango, in Thai, is ma-muang.
I remembered the “Ok-Rong” mango tree from my childhood at my grandmother’s house that full of fire ants!   Every summer the whole family loved to pick them while they were still green and we made spicy green mango salad in the hot summer days.  And here was the funny story about it.  There was one time my cousin and I, we both were about 10 years old, made this salad SUPER SPICY and we dared each other to eat and whoever stopped  first was a looser.   I remembered we were all crying and eating and laughing and jumping ups and downs at the same time trying to win over each other.   But at the end, my cousin won. There was no prize but the bragging right!   We continued to laugh and cry for another hour while gulping down ice cold water and a little dash of salt on the tongue (we believed that salt helped fight off the spiciness!) until the burning had slowly cooled down. My spicy addiction, I supposed, was started from then. 

Spicy green mango salad can be made with or without dried baby shrimp which most people seem to shy away from using them. But I grown up with them, and believe me, those tiny salty dried baby shrimp will make salad tastes a lot better. As for chili, fresh or dried, both can be used depends on your preference. I used both!  As for mint leaves and the hard-boiled eggs are just my own addition to this dish which you can skip using them, but they absolutely make great addition to the dish.   And make sure you don't forget a handful of toasted cashew nuts or peanuts sprinkling on top for the crunchy yumminess.    Now, you gotta try it and let me know what you think.

What you need:

1 large very green mango peeled and julienned
1/4 cup dried baby shrimp, soaked in water for a few minutes and rinsed well
4 medium shallots, finely julienned
1/4 cup mint leaves, finely julienned
3 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp palm sugar
3 tbsp fresh squeeze lime juice 
1 tbsp dried chili flakes and/or fresh Thai chilies
A handful Unsalted toasted peanuts for garnish (or other nuts of your choice)
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and quartered - optional 

- Whisk together fish sauce, sugar, lime juice, and dried chili flakes
- Gently toss in mango, shrimp, shallots, peanuts, and mint leaves to blend well - Serve immediately with the garnish of toasted cashew nuts or peanuts and chopped hard-boiled eggs.


Monday, October 8, 2012

Cocoa-Coffee Cupcakes with Cocoa-Mousse Frosting

 I've been craving for anything chocolate for a couple of weeks and after having such a hard time going back and forth between brownies or cupcakes, I've decided (and the hubby’s vote) to make chocolate cupcakes!

The recipe I used is adapted from several sources I found on the net which I've changed and substituted with what I had in hand at the moment, and I also reduced the amount of some ingredients to what I only need to make 12 cupcakes. The result? The batter came out just perfectly enough for normal size 12 cupcakes. I was really happy with that, especially, the taste of coffee that gave these cupcakes the extra-caffeine-lift for my coffee obsession.
As for the frosting, I was not planning on that until after I finished baking which I was still thinking while waiting for the cupcakes to cool down if I wanted to put the frosting on them or not, or I could just making a blizzard snow on top with powdered sugar and that would be done. Hmmm…..

Ahh…let’s make chocolate mousse for the frosting…and why not sprinkling with white chocolate shaving and put the fresh raspberry cap on them, just for fun? ooh lalaa….sweet!

This chocolate mousse was very easy to make and took a little time to finish, with or without gelatin you decide, but I used gelatin because it helped hold the mousse together for a longer times. Therefore, this mousse recipe can be whipped up using fruit puree and served by itself or with fresh fruit, like raspberry or strawberry, for a luxurious cocktail party dessert in no times. I like that, don’t you? 

Okay, my craving for chocolate has been fixed. What’s next?

For cupcakes:

1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup Hershey’s cocoa powder
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda 
1 large egg
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup strong brewed coffee, room temperature
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract 

How to cupcakes: 

- Preheat the oven to 350’F. Line the muffin pan with paper liners.
- In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda. Set aside
- In a separate mixing bowl, beat together in a medium speed sugar, butter, and egg for a minute and gradually add milk, brewed coffee, and vanilla extract and beat another minute.
- Slowly whisk in the dry ingredients in 2 or 3 batches. Do not over mixing. 
- Fill in each paper cups evenly only half of each cup (this batter made perfectly for 12-muffin pan).
- Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
- Let cool completely on a wire rack. 

For the mousse:

1 cup heavy cream very cold
1/4 cup Hershey’s cocoa powder
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/4 tsp unflavored gelatin powder
2 tbsp water

*Optional - White chocolate chips shaving and fresh raspberries for topping. 

How to frosting:

- In a small cup, sprinkle the gelatin over water and let stand for 3 minutes.
- In a medium bowl, combine cocoa powder and powdered sugar, set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whip the very cold heavy cream with a medium speed for 1 minute, and then gradually add the cocoa and sugar mixture little by little (probably 3-4 batches) and blend well, add the gelatin mixture and continue whipping until the mixture become stiff peak, about 3 minutes. (I chilled the metal mixing bowl in the freezer for 5 minutes before I whipped the cream)
- Put the mixture in piping bag, if used (I didn't have a piping bag so I used the zip log bag) and start to frost the cupcakes as desire
 - Garnish with white chocolate shaving and fresh raspberries


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