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February 23, 2009

Mongolian Beef

Ever had Mongolian Beef at P.F Chang's? If you have, there's no need to go back. If not, give this one a try and you'll never have to go there and spend $15 for it.

2 tsp veg oil
1/2 tsp minced ginger
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup dark brown sugar

3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 pound flank steak
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 bunch of green onions

1. Slice the flank steak against the grain into 1/4 inch thick slices. Tilt the blade of your knife at about a 45 degree angle to the top of the steak so that you get wider cuts. Dip the steak pieces into the cornstarch to apply a very thin dusting to both sides of each piece. Let the beef sit for 10 min. so that the cornstarch sticks. In the meantime, prepare the sauce.

2. Heat the sauce by heating 2 tsp. veg oil in medium saucepan over med/low heat. Don't get the oil too hot or you'll get a major splatter when adding the other liquids. Add ginger and garlic to the pan and quickly add the soy sauce and water before the garlic scorches. Dissolve the brown sugar in the sauce, then raise the heat to med and boil the sauce for 2-3 min. or until the sauce thickens. Allow to simmer while you prepare the beef.

3. Heat (on high) the 3/4 cup of oil in a wok or skillet. Add the beef to the oil and saute for just 2 min. or until the beef just begins to darken on the edges. Stir the meat around a little so that it cooks evenly. After a couple minutes, use a large slotted spoon to take the meat out onto paper towels, then pour the oil out of the wok. Put the pan back over the heat, dump the meat back into it and simmer for one minute. Add the sauce, cook for one minute while stirring, then add all the green onions. Cook for 1 more min., then remove the beef and onions with slotted spoon to serving plate. Leave excess sauce behind in the pan, if you dont want the extra sauce.

I, on the other hand, love sauce.... so I reduced the sauce that was left in the pan by boiling it for five minutes....and served the sauce over rice. WOW!

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Red Velvet - Take 3

I decided to bake some more red velvet cupcakes. I used a recipe that doesn't require cake flour or buttermilk, but used sour cream instead. (Cake flour & buttermilk aren't cheap!).

Makes 12

1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon red food coloring
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting, recipe follows

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in medium bowl. Set aside. (No sifting necessary)

2. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Mix in sour cream, milk, food color and vanilla. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until just blended. Do not overbeat. Spoon batter into paper-lined muffin cups, filling each cup two-thirds full.

3. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into cupcake comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire rack 5 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely. Frost with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting.

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting: Beat 4 ounces cream cheese, softened, 1/4 stick butter, softened, 1 tablespoon sour cream and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in large bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in 1 cup confectioners' sugar until smooth.

THE VERDICT: I like the frosting! I always like the frosting.
The cake was good, too. Lighter than Red Velvet 2 and tastier than Red Velvet 1. No more searching for red velvet recipes is necessary. If you want a fast, easy to make and tasty red velvet cupcake.... use this one. But that doesn't stop MY QUEST to test recipes.

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February 15, 2009

Green Tea Ice Cream

This is another one of those recipes that's so easy to make that you will never have to buy it from the supermarket or order it at a Japanese restaurant ever again. Another lovely reason is that you don't even need an ice cream maker for this... but of course, if you have it, use it. Mine is still sealed in the box, somewhere in the basement.

(adapted from Harumi's Japanese Home Cooking)
Below are the ingredients for double the original recipe which makes 1 1/2 quarts.

1/4 cup matcha powder
1 cup granulated sugar
6 egg yolks
1 1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cup heavy cream

1. In a small bow, mix the green tea powder with 2 tablespoons granulated sugar.

2. In a separate bowl, mix together the egg yolks and remaining sugar.

3. Pour the milk into a small pan and gently heat taking care not to let it boil (ideally the temperature of the milk should be 176 degrees F). Remove the from the heat and mix a few spoonfuls of the warm milk with the green tea powder and sugar in a small bowl. When you have a smooth paste (it looked like green mud), add it to the remaining milk in the pan. Temper the eggs and then gradually combine with the egg yolk mixture.

4. Return mixture to the stove and heat slowly over low heat (taking care to not let the mixture boil), until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat, strain through a fine sieve, and allow to cool completely.

5. Whip the cream until stiff peaks were formed and then fold in the cold green tea-milk mixture.

6. Transfer the mixture to a large container and [chill for an hour or two in the refrigerator] and then put it in the freezer. As ice crystals start to form, remove, and mix well with a spoon (use a wooden spoon and stir very vigorously) to break them up and return the mixture to the freezer. Repeat this a few times as it freezes to ensure that the ice cream is smooth.
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February 14, 2009

For Your Valentine

A slice of heaven.

What's Valentine's Day without Chocolate? And I dont mean a box of truffles or a chocolate cupcake. I'm talking 3 layers of chocolate: cake, frosting & ganache.

Adapted from Food Network's, Sara Campbell. Her recipe uses Vanilla Buttercream for the middle... i used the much-loved Chocolate Buttercream, which can be found here.

I decided to go all out... no one bowl recipe here. This has got to be the most moist, rich & decadent chocolate cake i've ever made. This screams, "GOT MILK?!?!??!!!!" I would say this compares to Cheesecake Factory's Linda's Fudge Cake or P.F. Chang's Great Wall of Chocolate.

Go ahead, I dare you.... make this and tell me its not the best chocolate layered-fudge cake you've ever had!

3 cups packed brown sugar
3/4 cup canola oil
3 eggs
2 2/3 cups flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/8 cups cocoa powder

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Oil and then flour 3 (10-inch) cake pans.*
* I didnt want one huge cake... what I did was cut the recipe in half and made for four 5" cakes.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the brown sugar and oil. Turn the mixer to a low speed and mix in the eggs. Let the sugar, oil, and eggs mix while sifting together the flour, baking powder, soda, and salt in a separate bowl. Set this mixture aside. In another small bowl, mix the vanilla into the milk and set this aside as well.

Bring the water to a boil and pour over the cocoa and whisk it until it is smooth. To the egg mixture, alternately add the flour mixture and the milk mixture beginning and ending with flour. With the mixer off, scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition.

With the mixer at a low speed add the cocoa. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and pour this mixture into the prepared cake pans. (Please note, that the batter is very thin.) Bake the cake for approximately 30 minutes** or until tester comes out clean. When cake layers have cooled, remove from pans and refrigerate until cold.

** The baking time posted on the original recipe says 15 minutes -- that is such a typo. For my FOUR MINI cakes, I baked them for 35 minutes! For three 10" cakes, I would assume it would be at least 35-45 minutes.

Using your favorite frosting flavor, fill and frost the cake. Refrigerate it for 10 to 20 minutes to set up the frosting.

1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 tablespoon light corn syrup
3/4 cup heavy cream

To make the ganache: In a heatproof bowl, place the
chocolate chips and the corn syrup. Bring the heavy cream to a full boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and whisk it until smooth then set it aside. Pour ganache over the top of the cake and, with a cake spatula, smooth the top of the cake and allow ganache to spill over the sides.

Refrigerate for 20 minutes or longer. Serve the cake cold or allow it to come to room temperature before serving.

I wouldnt skip the steps where it says to refrigerate... it DOES help (and it makes things easier) to keep everything cold.
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February 10, 2009

Thai Green Curry

This is so easy to make and delicious that I refuse to order this when we go out for Thai. Most ingredients can be found at Thai and most Asian Supermarkets.

For those in NYC, there are two Thai grocery stores in Chinatown:
  • Bangkok Center Grocery: 104 Mosco St., New York, NY 10013
  • Udom Grocery: 81 Bayard St., New York, NY 10013

You will need:
One can of coconut milk

Thai Green Curry Paste

Bamboo Shoots

Straw Mushrooms

I set aside the 1/2 cup of the bamboo shoots, 1/4 cup of the straw mushrooms and also some julienned orange & green peppers (about half of each)

Other ingredients:
- sugar
- fish sauce
- meat of your choice (i used chicken)

To begin, refrigerate the coconut milk for about 20 minutes. This will cause the milk to seperate and a thicker, top layer will form once its cold. In a heated pan, spoon about 3-4 tablespoons of the creamy (solidified) layer of the coconut milk. It will start boiling/sizzling. Add in 1 tablespoon of the green curry paste. (If you like it SPICY, add in more. But be warned: I used two HEAPING tablespoons and it was SUPER DUPER spicy.)

Cook the coconut milk & curry paste together (about 5 minutes). It'll be dry & look like its gonna burn... but it's getting the oil out of the coconut milk & curry. Then add in the rest of the coconut milk. Bring to a boil and then add in your meat & veggies. Bring all that to a boil once more and then add in 1 tablespoon of sugar, 2-3 tablespoons of fish sauce, pinch of salt (to your taste).

Simmer for 15-20 minutes more (to ensure that the meat is cooked thoroughly) and then serve.
From karen's cookies cakes & more

Serves 4.
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February 08, 2009

Billy's Vanilla, Vanilla Cupcakes

I think I found it! The best vanilla cupcake recipe. It's moist, light, fluffy and not too sweet. There isnt a strong eggy-taste either. There's just the right amount of vanilla flavor. And it's by Billy. Who is Billy?

Makes about 30 cupcakes
1 3/4 cups cake flour
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 325°. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt; mix on low speed until combined. Add butter, mixing until just coated with flour.

2. In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together eggs, milk, and vanilla. With mixer on medium speed, add wet ingredients in 3 parts, scraping down sides of bowl before each addition; beat until ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat.

3. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling about two-thirds full. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 17 to 20 minutes.

4. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat process with remaining batter. Once cupcakes have cooled, use a small offset spatula to frost tops of each cupcake. Decorate with sprinkles, if desired. Serve at room temperature.

Here they are cooling:

I topped it off with whipped matcha frosting.
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February 02, 2009

Bacon Explosion

Pork Lovers, REJOICE!
This one's for the MEN! No boys or sissies allowed in here. This is THE recipe for pork & BBQ lovers. I mean.... seriously.... this aint for vegetarians. I decided to make this for the guys for SuperBowl Sunday.

TWO POUNDS of Bacon.
TWO POUNDS of Sausage.
All rolled into one!

The recipe (found here) was featured on Good Morning America on Friday, before the Super Bowl.... and I did exactly what they said to do.

Two pounds of thick cut bacon
Two pounds of italian sausage (i used sweet)
BBQ Sauce

Make a 5x5 bacon weave.

Sprinkle on some BBQ rub.

I bought sausage from the market and removed the casings. This part was so gross. I advise you to wear gloves, if you have them.

Next, pile the sausage onto your bacon weave, and press in firmly.

Set aside. Cook remaining bacon the way you like it. Shred cooled bacon and add it on top of the sausauge.

Add some BBQ seasoning and drizzle on some BBQ sauce.

According to the bloggers @ BBQ addict, next comes the fun part.
To me, this was actually the hard part. Rolling up the sausage & the cooked bacon without the bacon weave. [WEAR GLOVES, for this!] This wasnt as easy as they said it would be but i did it.

Next, wrap your bacon weave around your sausage loaf.

The recipe says to smoke the loaf. I didnt have a smoker -- i just used my oven.
Baked at 250 degrees for 2.5 hours. I know why they said to smoke it. OMG... the grease from the bacon & sausauge was kinda gross. I removed this when it was done.

Then I slathered some more BBQ sauce on top and broiled at 450 degrees for 10 minutes.

THE VERDICT: This was really easy to make and very tasty. It wasn't dry because of the slow & low - cooking method. I would make this again but maybe to be a lil more healthier, I'm going to use turkey bacon & sausage; and probably add in some pepper & onion strips in the middle.

To avoid all the grease, next time I'm going to use a roasting pan with rack.
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