Monday, December 22, 2014

Sweet Potato Buttermilk Pie

I beta tested sweet potato pies for Thanksgiving. One was just a sweet potato pie and the other was a sweet potato buttermilk pie. Originally, both of the pies were going to be featured at this years Thanksgiving, but they were too similar and one was clearly better.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

MaPo Tofu

I've started school - so as a result, I want to focus on everything but school. Really, I've been meaning to write up a lot like usual, but school is gradually taking over my life. I've been meaning to do a special on eating well and cheap since I've had to revert to my lower cost diet, but since that can go on indefinitely, I'm going for a recipe that's been on my mind - before I forget it.

I've been severely limiting my pork intake for reasons I don't remember. I'd imagine it's the healthier route to go though. As a result, I can't get Mapo Tofu in restaurants anymore and that makes me sad.

I decided to start making my own variation with lamb (I completely stopped eating beef also). The not fun part is the fact that ground lamb is about $7 a pound. Other than that - it has a pretty good flavor. I started with Foodie Ling's recipe as the basis from there and then started modifying. I follow the same basic procedure, I just added more things.

Mapo Tofu Recipe

1/3 lb (150 g) ground lamb (1/4 lb works too if you really want to stretch your money)
3-5 garlic cloves - minced

60 mL water
1 1/2 Tbsp Broad Bean chili paste (doubanjiang)
2 Tbsp Lao Gan Ma black bean chili sauce
2 packs soft tofu - medium firm works well too. Cubed
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sugar

1 Tbsp potato starch + 2 Tbsp water (corn starch would work too)

1 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp Shao Xing wine
chopped spring onion

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Chicken Adobo: The Family Exchange

I got to see my uncle/godfather for the first time in 17 years. One thing that I found interesting was how similar I am to my uncle. The common interests were very apparent.

I've been cooking adobo for almost a decade and only now do I honestly feel that there's little to no need for experimentation. Once I tried my uncle's adobo, I realized why my adobo always seemed off and I learned to trust that you don't need an extensive amount of ingredients to make something good. Lastly, mistakes are not always a bad thing.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Okonomiyaki - 16 years in the making

I have this odd tendency to crave things on the basis of seeing other people enjoy them. When I crave things, that's when they taste the best - that's what happened when I was so eager to try Vegemite when it was hard to find around this neck of the woods. I enjoy salty and yeasty. From a more recent blog posting, the jajangmyun I made, I saw on a TV show and it just looked good. After researching about it, I decided I was going to like it.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Chinese Dumplings Expanded

The year of the Horse was ushered in on the 31st of January, so clearly, I'm behind on my posts. I made the Sweet Potato Dumplings last year, and this year, I've expanded my dumpling experimentation.

Yes. I decided to try out the recipe with Okinawan sweet potatoes and Japanese white flesh sweet potatoes.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Finally, a post not about cream sauce.

Sauce on noodles? Yes. But at least it's not cream sauce on pasta. I'm going to run through my trials and tribulations with jjajangmyeon.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Oy vey, Cream Sauce

I honestly and truly want to focus on things other than cream sauce, but I made one that my sister liked a lot. It combined well with the spinach tagliatelle that I used so I'm putting up a recipe - measurements and everything - because she wants me to teach it to her.

4 white button mushrooms (sliced)
1 shallot chopped (makes about 2 tablespoons)
80 mL sherry
tablespoon oil
240 mL chicken stock
80 mL evaporated milk
2 tsp parmesan bellafoglia (I know, they're in shavings)

Alright, while my pasta is boiling, I heat the oil and add the mushroom, toss for about 1 minute, than add the chopped shallot and saute both together until they're aromatic (2-3 minutes) - make sure they don't burn. Add sherry. Once that reduces, add chicken stock. Allow it to reduce (5-10 mins, it should look a little thicker) then add the evaporated milk. Let the mixture simmer then add the cheese and mix to combine.
Remove from heat and add cooked pasta to mix.

Ok, I added too much broth - so I'd recommend halving the broth amount, then adding as needed. The reason why the cheese was added to the sauce instead of the pasta separately was because I realized too late that the sauce was not thickening and I hope the cheese could do something for the sauce. Well, it tasted good.

I need a sabbatical from posting about cream sauce.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Forth Brush with Cream Sauce

I think that after this one, I had the general idea about cream sauces. I wanted to focus now on flavor and thickness.

Forth Brush with Cream Sauce

half & half

run through:
melt butter, saute shallots until golden, add finely chopped garlic - saute. Add sherry. Allow to evaporate for a minute or 3. Add chicken broth. Once reduced to desired thickness add the half & half slowly adjusting the amount according to taste. Add pasta - mix to coat then add pecorino romano

The sauce still kind of came out thick after cooling down. It wasn't bad, but my personal preference leans in the direction of something not so thickly creamy. Now I'm completely comfortable with the idea of using just regular milk or even evaporated milk as a friend suggested.

Thickly drying sauce I thought would be an easy fix, but now it's becoming something to contend with. Cheese not incorporated into the sauce is now the best idea ever as it yields the most options and offers a degree of sodium control.

I think this concludes my experimentation. My MO will definitely include shallots, broth, and sherry in varying degrees. My dairy will be lower percentage milk or evaporated and the cheese needs to have a high enough salt content to stand out but not overpower. I think I didn't use as much garlic as a lot of recipes intended so the garlic always came out subtle if not undetectable. I think more garlic with flavors that are not as overpowering could be good. I'm generally never craving JUST garlic. I was quite satisfied with a mushroom cream sauce that I made following my MO, other good ingredients would be shrimp, and/or garlic, spinach, basil. I shall go crazy with this after I work off all the added experimentation calories.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Third Brush with Cream Sauce

This time, I had to fight back the temptation add bacon or wine to see what kind of flavors are produced from the base cream sauce. I don't even add any chicken broth.

Third run with Cream Sauce

half & half
spinach pasta

run though:
melt butter, saute chopped garlic, add cream. Add cooked pasta and mix.

Sauce cools very thick. Butter and garlic only subtly flavor the sauce. Added some Parmesan cheese to the pasta afterwards.

The sauce could stand to be a little thinner. Wine or broth could be strategically used as a flavoring and thinning agent. Half & Half is too creamy even without the aid of thickening agents, I could drop it down to 2% milk, evaporated milk might also be a good try. I'm beginning to think it's okay to not fully incorporate cheese into the sauce, but just place it afterwards. You can taste the cheese and the sauce separately, which I like.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Second Brush with Cream Sauce

2nd go - clearly more effort involved, questioning the choice to use bacon in a cheese cream sauce

This go, I decided to go to the other extreme end of sauces and I added everything that seemed like a good idea.

Second Brush with Cream Sauce

Half & Half
Parmesan cheese
Cooking Sherry
Chicken broth
prepackaged Sweet Potato Gnocci

run through:
Boil water for gnocci. Chop bacon and saute until light brown, add more oil as needed. Add shallots & saute until golden. Add sherry and toss. Drizzle flour over the pan and mix well then add chicken stock. Stir and allow to thicken. Add half & half, stir, then add Parmesan according to taste. Drain gnocci and add to the sauce.

There was too much going on in this sauce. The cheese ended up overpowering everything so it was like a lot of the preliminary work wasn't for much. The gnocci was also unfortunately pre-seasoned (did not know) and that did not go too well with the sauce either.

This sauce would probably need a milder cheese or the cheese should be added sparingly. I think part of the problem is the fact that there is a lot of flavor elements going on: bacon, mushrooms, cheese, shallots --and they all become drowned out with cheese.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

First Brush with Cream Sauce

Lately, I've been stepping into the realm of cream sauces for pasta after an episode of being desperate for food and wanting to limit my grocery store trips.

First Brush with Cream Sauce

1st attempt inventory:
Frozen peas
2 small Laughing Cow Gouda rounds
cake flour
cremini mushrooms
spinach tagliatelle
chicken broth

1st attempt run through:
Water is heating on the stove. Mushrooms are added to heated oil. Chicken broth is added. I recall the need for flour and add haphazard chunks of cake flour trying to blend it with a whisk. Yes, there are minor balls of flour. Crud. I add more broth and the frozen peas. Once it reduces and thickens a little, I add 2% milk and the chopped pieces of gouda.

Gouda is too tart of a cheese for a cream sauce. The flour balls were not too bad. Prior to the adding of the cheese the mix tasted like cream of mushroom soup. The peas were an attempt to add some fiber. When combined with the pasta and a sprinkling of garlic salt - it wasn't bad. The sauce itself is mild so the garlic salt sticks out.

Given the mildness of the sauce itself, this recipe needed a saltier cheese like Parmesan