Hazy, Lazy Days of Summer

Things seem to be very slow these days on both LJ and blog country.

It’s quite depressing when no one seems to be reading your posts.

So, I’m taking a break too. That will be hard since my camera is usually in the kitchen waiting to snap a picture of the latest dish. I took it with me today when I went out for sushi. It will be my last chance to eat out until the fall when I go back to work. I may post pics or maybe not. I still haven’t posted the pics from my dim sum outing a month ago.

I’m low on flour so I’m going to have to get a new bag before I bake any bread. Speaking of baking bread, I harvested some wild yeast and am trying to make my own sourdough starter.

And I have a huge backlog of food in the freezer to eat … and fanfic to read. And I should really go through the attic and clear out my parents’ clothes, old books and miscellaneous junk.

I hope everyone has a great summer.

See you all later.

M is for Mint … from soup to nuts (pine nuts)

I bought a big bunch of fresh mint at the city market a week ago and had to come up with some quick ideas for ways to use it up.

This was ONE of my favourites … Spinach, cheese and pine nut phyllo squares (see link to recipe at the bottom)

Of course, there’s the classic Mojito.

Classic Mint and Lime Mojito – serves 1

1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp lime juice
10 fresh mint leaves
1 1/2-2 oz white rum (or golden but NOT spiced rum)
ice cubes
club soda or Sprite/7-Up
mint sprig and/or wedge of lime for garnish

In a tall glass, add sugar, lime juice and mint leaves. Use a muddler or the handle of a wooden spoon to crush the mint leaves.

Add the rum.

Fill the glass with ice cubes and fill up the glass with club soda or soda pop if you want a sweeter drink. Garnish and enjoy.

A simple mint tea with honey is tasty as well. I gave my iced mint tea an extra kick by steeping fresh mint leaves along with a Moroccan loose leaf mint tea blend. The lighter cup in the picture on the right is tea made from steeped fresh mint leaves while the darker cup has the dried tea blend.

Youvarlakia or beef and rice meatballs to be added to Avgolemono soup. You can find the soup recipe here.

And, finally, Spinach, cheese and pine nut phyllo triangles. I used this basic recipe but simply shaped the phyllo differently. I had no fresh parsley so I used dried as well as some dried dill weed but I used LOTS of fresh mint and green onions. I love ‘phyllo’ … whether sweet or savoury, you can find so many ways to use it.

I added ~1/2 cup of home made paneer cheese crumbles to a generous cup of feta cheese, 1/4 cup of roughly chopped pine nuts, the herbs (fresh or dried), 3 eggs, salt and pepper for a tasty filling.

Chicken Katsu Curry Donburi

Earlier in the week, I had butterflied a couple of boneless, skinless chicken breasts and turned them into chicken fingers along with the tenders from 6 breasts. Coated in  a simple home made version of ‘Shake’n’Bake’ using regular dried breadcrumbs and baked in the oven, they were delicious. But … I had a craving.

A craving for chicken katsu.

A thin cutlet of chicken breast, floured, egg washed and dipped in Panko. And FRIED!!

So that’s what I did late Friday evening with the 2 chicken cutlets that I had set aside. One was a bit too thick and uneven but I didn’t bother pounding it down so it would be even. Cause it was  late enough that I just didn’t care.

The next day, I served it in one of my sushi bowls over hot sushi rice. Even though the crust had lost a lot of its crunch, it was still good. And worth frying.

No Japanese beer but the Moroccan mint iced tea was lovely.

Chicken Katsu Curry Donburi – serves 1

1 serving of hot cooked sushi rice
1 serving of Japanese curry
1 chicken katsu, sliced on the diagonal in 1/2 inch strips
Tonkatsu sauce (Bulldog brand isn’t bad)
garnish with ~1 tbsp thinly sliced green onion

Chicken Katsu – serves 4

4 chicken cutlets, thinly sliced and pounded 1/4 inch thick
1 egg, beaten with 1 tbsp cold water
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
salt and pepper as needed
2-3 cups vegetable oil

Season the chicken cutlets with salt and pepper on each side

Place the flour, beaten egg and bread crumbs each in their own large and relatively flat bowls

Dip each cutlet first in the flour, shaking off the excess, and coating each side. Then dip each side of the cutlet in the beaten egg, letting the excess drip off. Finally, coat the egged cutlets in the Panko bread crumbs, pressing the Panko into the cutlet so it will stick.

In a large cast iron skillet add enough vegetable oil to a depth of 1/2-3/4 inch. Heat the oil to 350 deg. Fahrenheit (medium-high on an electric stove if you don’t have a deep frying thermometer). Add a couple of cutlets at a time and fry until they’re a golden brown colour (5-7 minutes), turn and repeat.

Drain on a cooling rack set over a plate with several layers of paper toweling to absorb the oil. Do not place the cutlets directly on the paper towels as the crust will get soggy and you want a nice crunchy crust.

Japanese Vegetable** Curry – serves 4

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, cut into roughly 1/2 inch chunks
1-2 cloves garlic, finely mince
1 carrot, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
2 cups water
pinch or two of coarse sea or kosher salt
1 package of curry paste (Glico brand is my favourite and the $1.99 it costs is worth it for the convenience)

** If you want a meat curry, cut chunks of chicken, pork or beef into bite sized pieces and brown in the oil before adding the onions. About half a pound of meat is plenty. For a tougher cut of meat, like the beef, you may want to simmer the meat for 10-20 minutes before adding the vegetables so they don’t get too mushy.

In a large saute pan, stir fry the onions over medium heat for 7-10 minutes until tender and getting browned. Add the garlic, salt, carrot and potato chunks and stir fry for another few minutes.

Add 2 cups of water (you may need more to just cover the vegetables) and bring the water to a boil. Cover with the lid and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until the vegetables are fork tender, about 20 minutes.

Turn off the heat and take the saute pan off the burner. Break up the cubes of curry paste and stir into the vegetable mixture. The residual heat will help dissolve the cubes and thicken the mixture. When the cubes are completely dissolved, put the lid on and let the curry sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

Serve hot with rice, pasta or bread.

Dulce de Leche No-Churn Ice Cream

I’m reposting this recipe by itself cause too many people seem to have missed it in its original Canada Day posting and it deserves a second look. I’m adding a couple of new pictures as well.

It was too blah and gray to bbq so I made chicken cutlets out of some of the boneless and skinless chicken breasts I bought on sale yesterday and served them with roasted potato wedges and a classic mojito. I finished the meal with no churn ice cream.

I’ve made ice cream before using the classic cooked egg custard and my inexpensive ice cream maker. It was very tasty, but time consuming to make, since you need to pre-chill your freezer container for a MINIMUM of 24 hrs…72 is much better. And you have to make your custard mixture the day before and refrigerate it at least overnight before churning it.

As with no-knead bread, I thought the concept seemed too good to be true. All you need is sweetened condensed milk, whipping/heavy cream and flavourings. And time, of course. You have to let your mixture freeze for at least 6 hours or all you get is a milkshake.

I had a can of dulce de leche flavoured sweetened condensed milk, that I bought on sale a while ago, in the pantry … which would save having to buy the plain version. So I gave it a try.

After all, ice cream and summer go together.

Dulce de Leche No-Churn Ice Cream – 4 cups

350 ml (1 1/2 cups) cold whipping cream
250 ml (1 cup) dulce de leche-flavoured sweetened condensed milk
30 ml (2 tbsp) bourbon or whiskey
5 ml (1 tsp) pure vanilla extract

In a large bowl using an electric mixer, starting at low and gradually increasing speed to medium-high, whip the cream until stiff peaks form.

In medium bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk, bourbon and vanilla extract. Gently but thoroughly fold whipped cream into the milk mixture, being careful not to deflate the cream. You can start by stirring in about a cup to lighten the condensed milk mixture and then fold in the rest.

Spoon the mixture into a metal loaf pan or any freezer-safe container, lay a sheet of plastic wrap directly on top of the ice cream and freeze for 6 hours or overnight. You can drizzle additional dulce de leche over the ice cream as you pour it into the container. In Canada, a can of dulce de leche contains 300 ml, so you’ll have about 50 ml to play with.

NOTE: I used 2 tbsp of my whiskey vanilla bean extract in place of the liquor/vanilla combo. I tried to fold the whipped cream into the condensed milk mixture as carefully as possible in order not to deflate it but I lost a LOT of volume. Hopefully you’ll do better.

Greek Beef and Rice Meatballs in Egg-Lemon Sauce Soup … OPA!!!!

There are two very similar beef and rice meatball soups that I like and that I was torn between making … a Greek version in an egg-lemon sauce which is called “youvarlakia avgolemono” and a Spanish/Mexican version with a tomato based sauce called “albondigas”. I chose the Greek version because I wasn’t in the mood for tomatoes and because I hadn’t made an avgolemono soup in some time. The previous version used shredded chicken and rice in a flavourful and slightly tart broth … chicken soup with a definite Greek twist or two.

NOTE: You can cook your meatballs right in the chicken broth but I wanted a cleaner preparation so I precooked the rice meatballs in salted water. The rest of the soup was made with chicken broth. If you don’t want to lose the flavour from the cooking liquid or don’t have chicken broth, remove the meatballs, strain the cooking liquid and add 2 heaping tbsp of chicken soup mix  to it for a more ‘chicken-y’ taste.

youvarlakia = meat and rice meatballs
avgolemono = egg-lemon sauce

Greek Meatballs in Egg-Lemon Sauce (Youvarlakia Avgolemono) – serves 6, 3 meatballs per person

1 lb lean ground beef
2 tbsp uncooked rice or orzo
1 finely chopped onion (plus 1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil for sauteing, optional)
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
1 1/2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley or 1 1/2 tsp dried
1 1/2 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint or 1 1/2 tsp dried
1/4 tsp dried oregano
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste (start with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp of pepper for the meatballs)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
6 cups water, vegetable or chicken broth (plus 1 tsp of salt if using water)

For the Avgolemono Sauce:

3 large eggs (at room temperature)
juice of 2 lemons (more to taste)
1 heaping tbsp flour

NOTE: 1 lemon gives you ~3 tbsp of juice

Garnish:

Shredded fresh herbs (parsley or mint) or sliced green onion

I don’t like the texture of boiled onions in my meatballs so I sauteed them and the finely minced garlic in 1/2 tbsp of vegetable oil, drained and let them cool before adding them to the meat mixture.

Making the meatballs:

In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the beef, rice, onion, garlic, parsley, mint, oregano, salt, pepper and beaten egg. Mix all the ingredients well. (Use your hands!) You may refrigerate the meat mixture until the next day at this point.

Put 1/2 cup of flour in a small bowl for coating your meatballs.

Shaping and cooking the meatballs:

Roll the meat mixture into small balls (~2 tbsp each) and then roll each ball around in the flour (shaking off any excess flour). Place the meatball in a stock pot that’s large enough to fit the meatballs in a single layer. Repeat until the meat mixture is used up. (I got exactly 18 meatballs.)

Fill the stock pot with enough broth so that it goes about half an inch above the meatballs, and bring the broth to a boil.

Cover and simmer for 45 min or until the meatballs are cooked through and the rice is tender.

About 10 minutes before your meatballs are done, begin making your egg-lemon sauce.

Making the egg-lemon sauce (Avgolemono):

Separate the three eggs into two bowls. Place the yolks in a small bowl and beat gently with a fork.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk the egg whites by hand until they’re frothy (a few minutes). While still beating, add the beaten yolks to the bowl slowly. Continue beating and add 1 heaping tablespoon of flour. Stop beating and add the lemon juice. Start by only adding 3 tbsp of the lemon juice. You can always add more at the end. Whisk together until the mixture is smooth.

Finishing the soup:

Once the meatballs are cooked, remove them with a slotted spoon and set them aside in a medium sized bowl.

You may want to cut one in half to make sure it’s cooked through.

Skim any scum from the top of the broth so it looks nice and clean. Or you may prefer to strain the broth through a sieve into another stock pot or a dutch oven.

This came from straining 2 cups of the cooking liquid which I used for the egg-lemon sauce.

Take 2 cups of the hot broth, a ladle at a time, and slowly pour it into the egg froth, mixing well as you do so. NOTE: This is important or the eggs may curdle when you add them into the hot broth. The mixture should be smooth and creamy.

Pour the egg/flour/broth mixture back into the stock pot and bring the broth to a slow boil. Taste to see if the seasonings need to be adjusted by adding more salt and pepper or more lemon juice.

Place 3 meatballs in each serving bowl and pour about one cup of the hot egg-lemon sauce over them.

Serve immediately with a sprinkling of fresh herbs or sliced green onion on top.

NOTE: You may also add the cooked meatballs to the egg-lemon sauce and serve family style out of the stock pot.

The frothy sauce will lose its texture on standing and reheating so you’ll want to serve it immediately.

Happy Canada Day / 4th of July!

Happy Canada Day
to  my fellow Canadians
and
a Joyous
4th of July Celebration
for my American friends

I didn’t attend the local Canada Day parade but I was able to see a lot of it from the 2nd story window of my house overlooking the parade route. Highlights that I recall from the last half that I watched include the local Black Heritage and Sikh community groups, separate assemblies of the English and Western riding schools (with ponies to pet for the latter). There were a couple of members of the English group following with a wheelbarrow and brooms on horse poop patrol. Not a job I would have enjoyed. :)

And then there were floats: Garfield who actually floated, Oscar in his garbage can, the Genie and his lamp from Alladin. Bands entertaining, representatives of the local Freemason chapter, classic cars and a costumed Batman, Leia with Storm Trooper and assorted robots to entertain the kids. A lot of fun for the families gathered along the parade route.

It was too blah and gray to bbq so I made chicken cutlets out of some of the boneless and skinless chicken breasts I bought on sale yesterday and served them with roasted potato wedges and a classic mojito. I finished the meal with no churn ice cream.

Mojito … the fresh mint is what makes this cocktail so special

Dulce de Leche no-churn ice cream … look for the recipe on a subsequent post.

Asian Rolls Revisited Sushi and Summer

This post is a clearance of some rolls I threw together in June but didn’t feel like blogging about.

Sushi Rolls – (top row) asparagus, (middle 3 rows) surimi/fake crab decorated with capelin roe and (bottom row) breaded chicken cutlet

Asparagus, carrot and avocado

Fake crab, avocado and spicy mayo

Breaded chicken cutlet with carrot and sweet chili mayo

It’s been ages since I made summer rolls, let alone posted my efforts. My nephew and I always order them when we go out for Thai food. This summer, he’s not coming home to visit so I’m going to make them for myself and enjoy them while remembering. This version has the more traditional ingredients of rice vermicelli/noodles and bean sprouts but no fresh herbs. If you can get your hands on fresh mint and Thai basil, use them. You’ll enjoy the taste.

I made 8 rolls, half filled with fake crab and half with cooked and thawed shrimp. I had leftover rice vermicelli which ended up in the miso soup that you’ve seen.

For a non-seafood version: Use Chinese bbq’d pork, seasoned bbq’d pork chops or chicken

Dips: Sweet and sour sauce, sweet chili sauce, plum sauce or your favourite Vietnamese dipping sauce. I’ve posted a peanut dipping sauce in an earlier post but I find it too heavy to go with these delicately flavoured rolls so the dipping sauce is still my favourite.

ETA: Here’s a Vietnamese dipping sauce I like:

Summer Roll Dipping Sauce

3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce such as Thai nam pla or Vietnamese nuoc mam*
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons water
2 1/2 teaspoons packed brown sugar
1/4-1/2 tsp chili paste like sambal oelek

Stir together all sauce ingredients in a small bowl until sugar is dissolved

More Recipes with Hokkaido Milk Bread Dough

WARNING: PICTURE HEAVY POST

You can make a lot of different baked goods with this dough. You can split the ingredients including the tangzhong and make each one separately, as I did or make double of each one.

For a large group, make the Raisin Buns below.

Raisin Buns – makes 16 buns with a half batch of the milk bread recipe below

[Use half of the tangzhong made below and reduce all final dough ingredient amounts by half as well.] Add 1/2 tsp cinnamon to the dry ingredients. Add 1/2 a cup of raisins 5 minutes before the end of the kneading process. (NOTE: If I made this again, I’d add 1 cup of raisins and soak them first.)

For shaping, divide risen dough into 4 portions and then each portion into 4 for a total of 16 balls. Place them into a well buttered 8×8″ baking dish and let rise. Continue as with recipe below.

After 25 minutes of baking, cover with foil and continue baking for another 10 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes, remove from pan and continue cooling on a rack until the buns are room temperature.

Matcha Swirl Bread – for elegant sandwiches or just to spread butter over and eat.

Matcha Swirl Bread – 2 mini loaves with a half batch of the milk bread recipe below

[Use half of the tangzhong made below and reduce all final dough ingredient amounts by half as well.] After the first knead, remove half of the dough to another bowl. Add 1 tbsp matcha powder to the remaining dough and knead for another 2 or 3 minutes. Proceed with recipe.

After the first rise, divide each dough into 3 balls. Roll out into 6 rectangles, 3 of each colour. Arrange contrasting swirls (Matcha, Plain, Matcha and Plain, Matcha, Plain).

Roll up the rectangles into a ‘snake’ shape. Let rise. Brush with egg wash and bake as per recipe below.

Hokkaido Milk Bread – enough for 2 or 3 loaves

Tangzhong

1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 cup liquid (all water, half milk and half water or all milk)

Method of making tangzhong:

In a small saucepan, whisk the flour into the liquid until you don’t have any lumps. Cook over medium-low to medium  (#5 or 6 on electric stove) heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, whisk or spatula to prevent burning and sticking.

The mixture will thicken very quickly once the liquid gets warm enough, about 5-6 minutes in total. Once you notice some “lines” appear in the mixture for every stir you make with the spoon, you’re done.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and transfer the cooked mixture into a clean bowl. Cover with cling wrap, sticking the wrap onto the surface of the tangzhong to prevent it from drying up. Let cool to room temperature. The tangzhong can be used straight away once it cools down to room temperature. Just measure out the amount you need. The leftover tangzhong can be stored in the fridge up to a few days as long as it doesn’t turn grey. If so, you need to discard and cook some more.

(Note: The chilled tangzhong should be brought to room temperature before adding into other ingredients. )

Final Dough

800 g (around 5 cups) bread or all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
50 g (1/2 cup) milk powder
1/2 cup half and half*
3/4 cup milk*
2 eggs
4 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature
4 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp salt
all of the tangzhong

*I didn’t have any half and half so I used 1 1/4 cup of 2 % milk.

NOTE: For savoury fillings reduce the sugar to half/a quarter of the amount used for the full recipe.

Combine all the dry ingredients in the large bowl of your stand mixer whisking to mix together. In a second bowl, combine all the wet ingredients including the tangzhong and the softened butter. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and mix in the wet ingredients. Turn on the stand mixer and beat for 10 or 15 minutes, until the dough is silky and smooth.

Once you’ve kneaded the dough well, remove the bowl from the stand, cover the bowl and let the dough rise until doubled in size, roughly an hour.

Divide the dough into smaller portions depending on your final product.

For 3 loaves, divide dough into 12 equal pieces and place 4 each into loaf pans that have been sprayed with cooking spray or rubbed with softened butter.

Cover the pans loosely and allow to rise for half an hour, then glaze with milk or an egg wash.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit while letting the loaves rise another 15-30 minutes.

Bake the loaves at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 40 minutes.  If they are browning too much, you can cover them loosely with foil.

Quick Mexican Rice

I’m sure than anyone who likes Tex-Mex food already has his/her own favourite recipe for “Mexican Rice”, but if you don’t, this isn’t a bad one to start from. My recipe varies based on what I’ve got in the house. This is the most recent version I threw together.

I served the rice with shrimp mole and refried beans. Because I wanted to give a bit of extra flavour to the rice and make it match the protein I used, I used a shrimp bouillon cube in my cooking liquid for the rice. (I DO have some seafood stock in the freezer but am saving it for something else.)

Quick Mexican Rice – serves 4

1 cup long grain rice, rinsed and drained
2 cups chicken stock (or 2 cups water plus 1 bouillon cube)
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup salsa, hot or mild
1/2 tsp salt
1 package Goya Sazon seasoning

In a large saucepan, whisk together the stock, tomato paste, salt and seasoning and bring to a boil.

Stir in the rice and salsa.

Cover and reduce the heat to a low simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Take the saucepan off the heat and let steam for 10 minutes or until it’s as ‘dry’ as you like. The rice will keep absorbing any additional moisture in the saucepan as it sits.

Fluff up and serve.

Picspam: Hokkaido Milk Bread with Tangzhong

ETA: For more ideas of ways to use this dough, go HERE.

WARNING: PICTURE HEAVY POST

The recipe for this amazing bread is found everywhere on the net. I referred to this web page which had lots of great pictures of the process, especially of the tangzhong or flour/milk paste, which is cooked first, and then added to a fairly ordinary sweetened, butter, egg and milk-based bread dough.

The results, however, are anything BUT ordinary.

Crumb of the plain loaf

And the cheddar cheese and bacon loaf

I do NOT recommend trying to knead this dough by hand. If you have a bread machine or a strong stand mixer (use the dough hook attachment) you can make the entire recipe. However, if you have a cheap stand mixer like I do, make a half recipe. I still had to babysit the mixer cause it kept travelling across the counter and I didn’t want it to end up on the floor.

Kneading the dough – after 12 minutes

Stretch the kneaded dough … you’re looking for it to be elastic enough NOT to rip.
Poke a hole in the stretched dough and if the edges of the hole are even, it’s been kneaded enough.

Cover dough and let it rise for an hour.  After an hour, poke a hole in the dough with your finger. If it doesn’t spring back, it’s risen enough.

I had some grated old cheddar cheese and crispy bacon bits in my fridge from the Southwestern Turkey and Corn Chowder that I made yesterday so I used it with half of the dough I made for a savoury loaf.

Risen dough divided into 4, rolled into balls and allowed to rise for 30 minutes. Two of the balls were divided into half and rolled into ovals.

Then covered with crispy bacon bits and grated old cheddar cheese, and folded in thirds like an envelope.

The package is turned 90 degrees, and rolled out with a rolling pin until it’s as long as the loaf pan. Then the sheet is rolled up into a snake with the sealed edge at the bottom.

The 4 rolls are fitted snuggly into the baking pan, which has been sprayed with cooking spray, and allowed to rise for 30 minutes.

Then the dough is brushed with an egg wash and allowed to rise for another 15-30 minutes while the oven is preheated to 350 deg Fahrenheit. Bake, covering with a sheet of aluminum foil if the top gets too dark before the loaf is cooked through.