All posts by A_Boleyn

About A_Boleyn

Having come late to the kitchen, other than in an eating capacity, each new recipe I try is an exciting opportunity to enjoy the original and then make it my own.

Pumpkin Fudge and Pies/Tarts

I haven’t bought a can of pumpkin puree in six to seven years but I decided to make my first ever pumpkin pie this Thanksgiving, so I picked up a can. It was even on sale.

But before attempting the pumpkin pie, I made something that I haven’t tasted for even longer … pumpkin fudge. My first taste of that rather unique flavour came from the seasonal fudge that my brother made for my SIL’s chocolate store. It was an unexpectedly tasty candy and I hoped to be able to make something similar. My results weren’t bad but not as amazing as the one I remember. Of course, my cranberry fudge wasn’t as good as his either. Maybe one day.

Pumpkin Tart and Fudge

I made a couple of half batches (400-420 gm) of pumpkin fudge using this recipe. I over-cooked the first batch because I don’t have an accurate candy thermometer, so I had to use the soft ball test. It may have been a bit crumbly but it was tasty and I ate the whole thing in no time at all. For the second batch, I may have under-cooked it JUST a bit but some judicious stirring once I had poured the fudge into the pan and I got it to where it should be.

The half batch of pumpkin pie filling I made used Chef John’s recipe from Food Wishes, and filled a couple of mini pie crust shells (6 inch diameter) and two tart shells made in muffin tins.

And, lest you think that all I made with that pumpkin puree was desserts, I also made a batch of creamy red lentil and pumpkin soup using about a cup of the puree.

Beef Bulgogi Redux

I’ve made a half-hearted version of beef bulgogi in the past but this time, I made it as authentically as I could. I bought a nice piece of sirloin steak, par froze it and cut it as thinly as possible. I also bought an Asian pear. And watched several videos before I chose the one which produced this dish.

PS: I only used half the pear in this dish so I sliced up and ate the rest on its own. It LOOKS like an apple but tastes like a pear with a finer granular texture. It is delicious.

Sweet and salty though it COULD be hotter. Next time … more gochujang. Or I’ll buy a hotter version of the Korean chili paste. I used the this recipe, but I added shaved carrots for added colour and nutrition.

Still, it’s a tasty and relatively inexpensive home made bulgogi. Served over sushi rice but rice noodles are delicious too.

Mise en place – the meat was marinated overnight.

After cooking

Pie Duo … Nectarine and Chess

Once you can make a pie crust/pastry, the possible fillings are endless.

I thought I’d include both a fruit and a custard type pie in this post.

Nectarines are delicious … sweet and juicy and a very good price in season. Instead of making a pastry top crust, I used a crumble. It’s something I’ve got to work on. Delicious but not as pretty as I would have liked. I didn’t bother peeling the nectarines.

  

I have no idea where the name of this pie comes from … there are many explanations for how Chess pie got its name. But however the name came about, the result is tasty. I used the recipe I found here. Half the recipe for the filling was enough for two mini (6 inch diameter) pies. I had some extra filling so I baked the custard in a small oiled ramekin.

  

Chicken Meatball Soup

It’s that time of year again … soup making time.

Not that I don’t make soups year round. It’s just that I kick it into high gear when the weather gets cooler.

This chicken meatball soup uses lean breast meat ground up in my food processor and a half package of chopped spinach. The result is delicious and filling.

Chicken Meatball  and Spinach Soup – serves 4-6

Meatballs – makes 16 meatballs (292 gm, divided into 16 x 18 gm portions)

210 gm chicken breast, ground
1 egg
3/4 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 tsp several shakes of garlic powder
1/4 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

For the Soup

3/4 cup orzo, tubettini, ditalini or other small pasta
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup carrots, peeled and sliced thinly
1 cup chopped spinach, frozen and thawed*

* Swiss chard was used in the original recipe that inspired this.

In a medium bowl, combine the ground chicken, bread crumbs, egg, Parmesan, garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper. Mix well, then form into 1-inch (2 cm) meatballs. You should have 16-18 total.

In a large pot, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Sear the meatballs on all sides until golden brown, 4-5 minutes. Remove from the pot and set aside.

In the same pot, heat the remaining tbsp of oil. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook, stirring occasionally until tender, 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.

Add the chicken stock and bay leaf. Cover and bring to a boil.

Once boiling, add the pasta and meatballs. Cover and simmer for 7-8 minutes, until the pasta is tender.

Add the Swiss chard, cover, and cook for 2-3 minutes until the chard has wilted.

Add the Parmesan cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the lemon juice.

Ladle into bowls and serve.

Honetsuki Dori (Crispy Bone-in Chicken)

This Japanese dish features chicken legs prepared very simply. The result is a juicy piece of meat inside with a crunchy skin on the outside.

The only ‘fussy’ aspect of the cooking process is preparing the chicken oil or fat flavoured with ginger and garlic, in which the chicken is roasted. If you have some rendered chicken fat (schmaltz) in your fridge … what do you mean you don’t … you can save yourself a lot of work by poaching a peeled and crushed clove of garlic and a slice of fresh ginger in the chicken fat for 10 minutes.

A bonus from rendering down the chicken oil or fat is the resulting crunchy chicken skin.

The recipe I am including below was transcribed from a Youtube video and edited for clarity.

In Japanese restaurants that serve this dish, you’re given a choice between hinadori (young chicken) or oyadori (adult chicken). Apparently, although the former is more tender and easier to chew, the latter is preferred by many for its distinctive flavour. They seem to be equally juicy.

Honetsuki Dori (Bone-In Roast Chicken) – serves 2 people

2 bone-in chicken legs (drumstick and thigh)
1 clove garlic
1 tsp salt
large amount of coarsely ground pepper (1 tsp)

4 tbsp Chi-yu (see below), for roasting

Chi-yu (Chicken oil)

300 gm chicken skin
1 slice ginger (~1/4 inch thick)
1 clove garlic

Preparing the chicken legs:

Split open the chicken legs on the underside (not the skin side) down to the bone. Trim off the excess skin and fat.

With a fork, prick the meat and skin side thoroughly.

Finely grate the garlic and spread it over the meat (flesh side). Sprinkle the salt all over the meat. Then the pepper. Massage the garlic paste and spices into the meat. Sprinkle some more pepper over the meat. Place the legs into a dish, cover tightly with food wrap and refrigerate overnight.

The two legs after being split open along the bone and rubbed with garlic paste, salt and pepper.

To cook, bring the meat to room temperature.

Preparing the chicken oil:

Smash the slice of ginger. Smash the peeled clove of garlic as well. Set aside.

Cut up the chicken skin into roughly 1-1 1/4 inch pieces.

Preheat a wok over low heat. Add the coarsely chopped chicken skin and fry for about 20 minutes, stir occasionally. Add the smashed clove of garlic and the ginger slice. Stir fry for another 10 minutes. Drain off the chicken oil.

(NOTE: Reserve the crispy skin for eating as a snack.)

Cooking the chicken legs:

Preheat the oven to 400 deg F/200 deg C.

Add 2 tbsp of the chicken oil to each of 2 trays. Add the chicken ( skin side down) and roast for 10 min. Turn over and roast for another 10 min (skin side up).

Raise the heat to 480 deg F/250 deg C and roast for another 5 min, until golden brown. Serve on preheated plate. Pour some chicken oil over the chicken.

NOTE: The skin wasn’t crispy enough so I turned on the broiler to HI and broiled the chicken with the pan in the middle of the oven for 3-5 min.

To Serve: Tear apart a leaf or two of cabbage, wash and spin dry.  Make 2-3 onigiri and garnish with black sesame seeds and yellow pickled radish (takuwan). Dip both the chunks of cabbage and the onigiri into the chicken oil.

Review:  Delicious. The skin loses its crispy texture when reheated but is still nice and juicy. If possible, only roast as many legs as will be eaten at one time.

Shokupan … Japanese Eating Bread

Shokupan is a very popular daily or “eating bread” in Japan.

In light of my summer obsession with expanding my repertoire of Japanese foods, I couldn’t pass up giving it a try. The blog where I found the recipe has two easy-to-follow versions. The easier of the two is kneaded very briefly in a food processor … and I’m all about EASY recipes or techniques.

I always find sight of the risen dough appealing, don’t you?

And, of course, the crumb shot … delicious spread with some sweet softened butter.

For a second attempt at the recipe, I shaped the dough into stuffed buns.

I choose both anko (sweetened red bean paste, on the left) and lotus seed paste (on the right) for the filling.

I was experimenting with a coloured whipping cream wash (not necessary in baked buns but should give a nice golden colour in a future steamed bun version) and the crease in the middle for the lotus seed paste filled buns. It’s supposed to resemble the dried lotus seeds after removing the germ.

REVIEW: The bread is fast and easy to make in the food processor and the taste is delicious. What more do you need? Give it a try.

Beef Chow Fun ala Frugal Hausfrau

Last post today … I promise. I was on a roll.

I get my ideas/recipes from ‘only the best’ people.

Like this beef chow fun (beef and rice noodles) which came from the blog, “The Frugal Hausfrau”. I followed the recipe exactly and didn’t have to make any substitutions because I HAD all the ingredients. (So proud of my pantry.)

The wide rice noodles (the red package) took 5 minutes to cook. Then I drained, ice shocked and drained them well and set them aside just before assembly.

I blanched the bean sprouts by placing them into a stand drainer and pouring the boiling water from cooking the noodles over them. They were still crunchy after being added to the beef and sauce along with the noodles and tossing together just long enough to coat the noodles and warm everything through.

REVIEW: An amazing dish. Easy to make and cook with some judicious planning/prepping. Make it. You won’t be disappointed.

Japanese Tea Duo – Genmaicha and Mugicha

I’m not much of a tea drinker but these two varieties are quite enjoyable.

Genmaicha is a “Japanese brown rice green tea consisting of green tea mixed with roasted popped brown rice” according to Wikipedia.

I was intrigued when I saw it listed on the menu in my favourite all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant and ordered it. Instead, I was served jasmine tea. It was hard to understand the server but I got the impression that they didn’t have it. I don’t know if they EVER had it. In any case, I looked for it at my newest ‘go to’ Asian grocery store and came home with a bag.

Some ‘recipes’ are pretty complicated … apparently you can get THREE brews of tea from the same spoon of tea. The water temperature varies among each brew. Or, if you just want a simple cup … add 1 cup of boiled water (150-170 deg F) to 1 tsp of the genmaicha and let steep for 1-3 minutes. You can drink it plain or with a splash of milk.

I wasn’t sure which mug/cup I wanted to use so I pulled out an assortment and had the tea plain.

The second tea, mugicha, is a roasted barley tea so it’s caffeine free. I had some pearl barley in my pantry so I decided to roast my own (REAL mugicha is made with roasted hull-on barley). It can be drunk hot or cold (refrigerated/iced). I added honey and lemon to the jar of cold mugicha.

Homemade Mugicha (Japanese Roasted Barley Tea) – makes 8 cups

1/3 cup uncooked pearl barley
8 cups water

Optional add-ins
sliced lemons, sugar or honey

Put the barley in a large dry skillet and toast over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring the grains and shaking the skillet occasionally so that they toast evenly, until the grains have turned a dark rich brown color. Remove from the heat and pour out into a bowl or a paper towel to cool.

Before and after toasting (8 minutes) the pearl barley

I was curious if it would get darker still so I roasted half the previously barley for another 4 minutes … a total of 12 minutes. I didn’t really see, or taste, much of a difference in the tea made from the two batches.

Bring the water to a boil in a pot, add the cooled toasted barley, and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let the barley continue to steep as the mugicha cools, for about 5 minutes.

Strain out the barley and drink immediately, or store in the fridge to drink it cold. Flavor with optional lemon and honey or sugar when ready to drink.

There’s nothing like drinking a cup of tea with a biscuit or, in Japan, a rice cracker (senbei). I made my own senbei and shared them in an earlier post but brought home a package ($3.49) to taste test.

There are 8 of these mini packages (each with 2 crackers inside) inside the big bag.

The crackers were basted with soy sauce and had shredded nori sprinkled over the top.

Nice and puffy interior

They were delicious but very MOR-ish, so you can’t eat just one mini pack.

Bonus: Strawberry tapioca ball tea … my first time trying this type of tea. Enjoyable as it was refreshing and just slightly sweetened.

Mushroom Egg Foo Young

Cooking for one means you ALWAYS have odds and end of leftovers from recipes you’ve made to deal with. Often they’re perishable and I hate to throw things away because they’ve spoiled. In this case, it was bean sprouts from making Pad Thai. And white button mushrooms.

So I made mushroom egg foo young.

Mushroom Egg Foo Young – makes 4 omelettes, serves 2

Omelettes

1 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
1/2 lb white mushrooms, thickly sliced
4 large eggs
1/2 lb bean sprouts, rinsed and drained well
1-2 green onions, tops only, thinly sliced
1-2 handfuls shredded coleslaw mix
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp white pepper

Sauce/Gravy

1 cup chicken stock
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice wine or mirin
dash or two white pepper
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp sesame oil

Making the omelettes

Preheat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add about half the vegetable oil and the white mushrooms, saute without stirring until golden brown on one side, flip and saute for another minute or two until that side is also golden brown. Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl and let cool slightly.

Return the saute pan to the heat.

In a large bowl, add the eggs, beat well. Add the salt and pepper, bean sprouts, green onions, coleslaw mix and cooled mushrooms. Mix well.

With a ladle, add about 1/4 of the egg/vegetable mixture to the saute pan. Try to give the mixture a roughly round shape. Cook for several minutes until the base is set and golden brown, flip and continue cooking until the second side is set and golden brown as well. Repeat with the remaining egg/vegetable mixture using additional vegetable oil if needed.

Making the sauce

In a small bowl, combine about 1/4 cup of the chicken stock with the cornstarch. Whisk well so there are no lumps.

Combine the remaining stock, soy sauce, rice wine, pepper and sesame oil in a small saucepan. Bring just to the boil over medium heat.

Whisk the cornstarch mixture again and slowly whisk into the stock mixture. Cook while whisking until the mixture comes to a boil. Allow to boil for one minute and then remove the saucepan from the heat.

Serve the omelettes alongside a serving of steamed rice, drizzling some of the sauce over both.