Friday, December 27, 2013

baked pandan mochi

Inspired by some genius pandan custard donuts at a ramen shop and Miss Hangry Pants (yes, brilliant blog name), I busted out these squishy treats while visiting Houston.

Pandan, sadly of no relation to pandas, is a leaf that gives a gently sweet, floral, complex flavor that's irresistibly paired with coconut. It's that flavor you can't quite describe in Thai and Vietnamese desserts.

Mochi is fast, easy, and makes you look fancy pants. Let's do it.

What you need:

16 oz box mochiko (glutinous sweet rice flour)
2 c sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

13.5 oz can coconut milk
1 3/4 c water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp pandan extract (Look for it in Asian markets. It's scarily bright green.)

potato starch (for dusting. Cornstarch is probably fine, too)

9" x 13" pan (or in my case, 2 pans totaling 117 sq inches of surface area)
parchment paper!
Cookie sheet or extra pan to put the pan on top of

What to do:

Heat oven to 350 F.

Combine mochiko, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a big bowl.

In a separate bowl, combine, coconut milk, water, vanilla, and pandan extracts.

Slowly pour liquid into dry ingredients, stirring with a fork as you go. It's gonna be lumpy. Keep stirring till it smooths out. It'll happen.

Line a pan with enough parchment paper so it hangs off the sides. Oil any pan surface not covered by parchment.

Pour batter into pan.
Cover pan tightly with foil.
Place pan on top of cookie sheet (this prevents the bottom from getting too brown).
Bake 50 min.

Remove from oven. Leave foil on. Let cool about 15 mins.
Transfer to fridge to chill overnight OR put in freezer for about 30 mins till mochi is thoroughly chilled. If your mochi is warm it will be way too sticky to handle. Just don't do it.

Cover a cutting board in a generous layer of potato starch.
Flip mochi out of pan onto cutting board. Peel off parchment.
Cover top and sides in more potato starch.
Trim off the tough edges.

Cut up mochi into fun shapes with a sharp knife.
Toss in potato starch so they won't stick to everything they touch.
Admire stack of mochi. Eat too many. Store at room temperature.

Friday, May 3, 2013

this is just to say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

-- william carlos williams

Sunday, April 14, 2013

mango chipotle pasta

As much as I love cooking, I eat an embarrassing amount of pasta with jarred tomato sauce gussied up with a handful of pre-washed spinach. Loath to eat my standard pasta ration yet again, and inspired by my elevated consumption of salsa (tomatoes! onions! chiles!) at work, I gave the tomato base a little Mexican persuasion. Smoky chipotle brightens up with sweet mango and a dollop of yogurt. Maybe yogurt sounds a little weird, but think how hella rico chipotle mayo or sour cream in your burrito is.

Mango Chipotle Pasta

1/2 lb pasta (~1/2 a box)

1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 mango, diced

1 chipotle pepper, minced + spoon of the adobo sauce

1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 jar tomato sauce
2 spoonfuls plain yogurt

lime juice to taste

Boil the pasta to your liking.

Meanwhile, heat up a pan and cook up the onion, garlic, and bell pepper in some oil. After a few minutes, hit it with the chipotle, adobo sauce, cumin, and oregano.

Add the tomato sauce and yogurt. Stir in the pasta, adjust the seasonings, y fin!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Texas Cookies

Things I miss about Texas today (in no particular order):

1. Wearing shorts
2. Bluebonnet and Indian paintbrush-lined highways
3. Queso
4. White chocolate bread pudding

Things that taste good and are largely from Texas:

1. Ruby red grapefruit
2. Pecans

Inspired by Homesick Texan's grapefruit cookies, I bring you these sassed up chewy sugar cookies that remind me a little bit of warm days, though mostly call for a cup of tea.

My Texas Cookies 

1 ¼ c sugar
8 tbs (1 stick butter)
¼ c canola oil
1 egg
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 tbs grapefruit juice
zest 1 grapefruit

2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon

¼ c crystallized ginger finely chopped
¼ c pecans finely chopped

Heat oven to 350F.

Cream together butter, sugar, and grapefruit zest. Mix in canola oil. Mix in egg, vanilla extract, and grapefruit juice.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.

Stir flour mixture into wet ingredients a third at a time, mixing in between. Stir in ginger and pecans.

The dough will be sticky, so chill it for a spell.

Scoop out dough balls and give them room to spread on the baking sheet. Bake off for 10-12 minutes.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

avocado salsa verde

This salsa is like that e-mail you've had starred in your inbox for so long it seems impossibly impolite to reply to, but it would seem wrong to sweep it under the archive rug and pretend it never happened.

So let's forget that happened and have some salsa! This is a pretty low frills salsa verde with avocados blended in because avocados are delicious. It's light, bright, and creamy. It reminds me of that dreamy green salsa from Los Arcos in Houston that probably none of you know what I'm talking about. The lime accent was a failed effort to up the ante for a salsa competition at work. You never know when one of your co-workers will know how to turn a piece fruit into a swan... Let that be a lesson.

Avocado Salsa Verde

1 lb fresh tomatillos
2 avocados
4 cloves garlic
1 or 2 serrano or jalapeno peppers
1 handful cilantro
lime juice to taste
salt to taste

Salt some boiling water. Blanch the tomatillos (husks removed) for 3 or 4 minutes, just until they start to lose their bright green hue. Rinse in cold water.

Cut the peppers in half and remove the seeds and ribs. Save those to modulate the hotness of the salsa to your liking.

Halve the tomatillos a throw into a food processor. Add the garlic cloves, avocados (flesh only, of course), cilantro, and peppers. Blend it up.

Taste it. Add more pepper seeds to make it hotter if needed. Hit it with some lime juice and salt. Fiesta time!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

slugging it out

A Visual Guide to Éclairs:

1. Make some pâte à choux and pipe some banana slugs.

About yay long should be just fine.

2. Pop those babies in the oven until they metamorphose into a mini-baguette bonanza.
3. Stuff them silly with pastry cream and shellac with ganache. Excellent.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Indian à la mode

My Indian food suffers from a curse. Despite the best efforts of my extensive spice collection, all my dishes taste the same. Until today. Here's my latest (and most simple) renditions of aloo gobi and saag paneer served up with bulgar wheat. Tell me this isn't the shortest ingredient list you've ever seen. Maybe it would be more prudent to present these as in the style of aloo gobi and saag paneer - à la mode if you will. I'm only claiming deliciousness, not authenticity.

Aloo Gobi
à la mode

1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 serrano chile, seeded and minced

1 cauliflower, cut into florets
1 potato, 1-in. cubes
1 24-oz. can diced tomatoes

1 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp coriander
salt to taste

Heat some oil in a pan. Cook onions for a few minutes, then add garlic, chile, ginger, and spices. Cook for another minute. Add potatoes, cauliflower, and tomatoes. Cover and simmer until potatoes are done, ~20 minutes. Mash up with a fork if you want it a bit thicker. Salt to taste.

Saag Paneer
à la mode

1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 bunch spinach, roughly chopped
1/4 c buttermilk
1/2 c yogurt
splash of heavy cream

paneer, cut into cubes (tofu works, but cheese is yummier)

Heat some oil in a pan. Cook the onions, garlic, and spices for a few minutes. Add the spinach, buttermilk, and yogurt. Simmer till spinach is wilted. Send some of it through a blender. Return to pan. Salt to taste. Add the paneer and heavy cream. Done-zo.