Monday, October 29, 2012

Beef Wontons

Pan fried Beef Wontons

Wontons are easy to make. They can be stuffed with a variety of fillings; sweet or savory. Wontons are one of those dishes that everybody just loves.Whenever I make them, I make a huge batch so I can whip some up whenever the mood strikes me.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Real Vanilla Extract is super expensive. The few months ago, I paid $8 for a 4 oz bottle of Bourbon Vanilla Extract and as of today, it's halfway done. I thought about looking online to see if I could buy vanilla extract in bulk from one of those restaurant supply, but found out I could make it by myself cheaper and easily.

Making vanilla extract yourself will guarantee quality and you'll know exactly what went into it. Your vanilla will be free of the artificial colors and corn sweeteners found in even high-quality vanilla extracts. Hand crafted vanilla extract is a great gift that will last a lifetime. Like a fine wine, vanilla extract matures with age.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Bacon Onion Marmalade Redux

Bacon Onion Marmalade with Goat Cheese on Ciabatta

My friend Josephine invited me, my boyfriend, and a bunch of other wonderful people over to her place for a Bacon Extravaganza.

She challenged us to make anything we wanted, as long as bacon was a key ingredient.

I knew immediately that I needed to revisit my Onion Bacon Marmalade I made a while ago and up the bacon big time.

Hence, Bacon Onion Marmalade was born.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The softest fluffiest 100% Whole Wheat Bread you will ever eat!!

Soft and Fluffy 100% Whole Wheat Rolls. Yes, it's possible.

My mom's boyfriend's doctor has informed him that he has to switch to whole wheat breads/pastas etc. I had a bag of whole wheat flour lying around. I've been wanting to try my hand at making a whole wheat bread, so this seemed like the perfect excuse to try making one!

The problem with whole wheat breads--especially 100% whole wheat--is that they tend to be more dense and chewy than their white flour counter part. Most whole wheat bread recipes call for a mixture of whole wheat and white flours to help combat that.

Luckily, I have a copy of "The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book: A Guide to Whole-Grain Breadmaking." In her book, Laurel Robertson states that anybody can make fluffy 100% whole wheat breads as long as they knead the dough for a long time until it passes the window pane test and you let the dough rise three times. While she provides tons of 100% whole wheat recipes in her book, I decided to use my own, and follow her techniques.

I decided to use the bread recipe I used for the April Daring Cook's Challenge, but use whole wheat flour instead of white flour and omit the mashed parsnips. I also used granulated sugar instead of the maple syrup as the sweetener.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Daring Cook's April 2012 Challenge: Create Your Own Recipe!

Goat Cheese and Strawberry Jam filled Parsnip Buns

Our April 2012 Daring Cooks hosts were David & Karen from Twenty-Fingered Cooking. They presented us with a very daring and unique challenge of forming our own recipes by using a set list of ingredients!

They required us to use at least one ingredient from each of the following three lists – to force us to think carefully about flavor combinations.

List 1: Parsnips, Eggplant (aubergine), Cauliflower
List 2: Balsamic Vinegar, Goat Cheese, Chipotle peppers
List 3: Maple Syrup, Instant Coffee, Bananas


I was really excited to do this challenge because it reminded me of one of my favorite shows "Chopped" on Food Network.

I always thought the dessert round was the hardest and most exciting of the 3 rounds, so I decided to go for a dessert like item.

After mulling over the list (fortunately, I had a whole month instead of 20-30 minutes like the "Chopped" chefs),  I decided to go with parsnips, goat cheese, and maple syrup as my chosen ingredients.

My dish: Goat cheese and Jam filled Parsnip Buns.

The bread recipe I used is similar to a potato bread recipe, but subbing boiled and mashed parsnips for the potatoes and maple syrup for the sugar. I also read about a Japanese method of bread baking that helps keep bread soft and moist called "tangzhong," so I decided to implement that into my bread as well.

Goat Cheese and Strawberry Jam filled Parsnip Buns

Parsnip Buns


1/2 cup water
1/6 cup flour

Whisk together the cold water and flour (there should be no lumps) and cook over low heat (stirring all the time) until the temperature reaches 149ºF or until the spoon you’re stirring with leaves a trace. The mixture should have the consistency of something between crème anglaise and pastry cream. Leave to cool down to room temperature.

2 1/2 cups bread flour
1 cup boiled and mashed parsnip
3 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
All of the tangzhong
2 tsp instant yeast
3 tbsp butter (cut into small pieces, softened at room temperature)


4oz log of goat cheese
1 jar of strawberry jam (you won't be using the whole container)


1. Combine the flour, salt, maple syrup and instant yeast in a bowl of a stand mixer. Make a well in the center. Add in all wet ingredients: milk, egg, mashed parsnip, and tangzhong. Fit the dough hook attachment on your stand mixer and begin mixing on medium speed and knead until your dough comes together and then add in the butter and continue kneading.  Keep kneading until the dough is smooth, not too sticky on the surface and elastic.

2. Knead the dough into a ball shape. Take a large bowl and grease with oil.  Place dough into  greased bowl and cover with a wet towel. Let it proof until it’s doubled in size, about 40 minutes.

3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and punch down. Divide into 10 equal pieces, rolling each into a ball (I find a kitchen scale very helpful for this). Working with one ball at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent drying), roll dough into a 5-inch circle.

4. Place about 1 1/2 teaspoons each goat cheese and strawberry jam in the center of the circle. Carefully fold the edges of each round up and around the filling.  You can't get any of the filling on the edge or it simply won't seal.  Pinch all of the edges together and seal as well as possible (although be careful to not strech the dough too thin on the filling side...).

5. Place buns, seam side down, on a baking sheet coated lightly with cooking spray (or use parchment paper). Tuck ends under and cover. Repeat until all the buns are prepared this way.

6. Lightly coat formed buns with cooking spray, cover and let rise in a warm place (85 degrees), free from drafts, 40 minutes or until doubled in size.

7. Bake at 375 degrees for 17 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

Out of the oven
 These were such a success. The buns themselves were soft and sweet and the filling gooey and yummy.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Homemade Mayonnaise

Homemade Mayonnaise. Better than store brought. A little on the yellow side because of the added mustard.

I wanted to make tuna salad, but I realized I didn't have any mayonnaise only after I had all of my other ingredients ready. Then I remember seeing a post on Cooking Weekends for making mayonnaise. I've seen recipes for homemade mayo before, but they've all used immersion blenders. Cooking Weekends was the first recipe for mayo I've seen using a handheld mixer. Since I have no immersion blender and have a handheld mixer, I knew this was the recipe for me!

Homemade Mayonnaise (inspired by this recipe)

1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
A pinch of kosher salt
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Egg yolk, Dijon mustard, salt, and lemon juice

1. Add egg yolk, kosher salt, Dijon mustard, and lemon juice into a bowl. Beat the egg yolk mixture until it lightens in color. Continue to beat while adding in drops of oil until you have used up about a tablespoon of oil. The yolk mixture will look creamy and smooth.

Slowly adding in the oil

2. Once you have added about a tablespoon or so of the oil successfully, you can add it a bit more quickly in a very thin stream.

Just about done

3. When all of the oil has been added, taste the mayonnaise and beat in more salt and lemon juice as needed.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Daring Baker's March 2012 Challenge: Lions, Tigers, and Bears, oh my!

Dutch Crunch Tuna Melt!
Sara and Erica of Baking JDs were our March 2012 Daring Baker hostesses! Sara & Erica challenged us to make Dutch Crunch bread, a delicious sandwich bread with a unique, crunchy topping. Sara and Erica also challenged us to create a one of a kind sandwich with our bread!

Technically, Dutch Crunch doesn’t refer to the type of bread, but rather the topping that is spread over the bread before baking. In Dutch it’s called Tijgerbrood or “tiger bread” after the tiger-like shell on the bread when it comes out of the oven. The final product has a delightful sweet crunch to it that makes it perfect for a sandwich roll.


I had never heard of Dutch Crunch bread before and was excited to try making some. I was gifted a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer last Christmas and haven't used it for bread making yet. My usual go-to bread recipe is a no knead recipe that goes in the refrigerator for a few days before use.

It's a lean dough (no oil, eggs, etc), and no so appropriate for dutch crunch, so I decided to use the soft white bread recipe provided by Sara and Erica.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Daring Cooks' March 2012 Challenge - Brave the Braise!

Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic

Braving the Braise! My very first Daring Cooks and certainly not last.

The March, 2012 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Carol, a/k/a Poisonive – and she challenged us all to learn the art of Braising! Carol focused on Michael Ruhlman’s technique and shared with us some of his expertise from his book “Ruhlman’s Twenty”.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

"Ghetto" Sous Vide

Inside shot. Perfect medium rare all the way through. The meat was like butter. Served with some homemade ciabatta.
Sous-vide is a method of cooking food sealed in airtight plastic bags in a water bath for a long time. The intention is to cook the item evenly, not overcook the outside while still keeping the inside at the same 'doneness' and to keep the food juicier.

Typically it's done in these expensive machines that circulate the water and maintain it at precise temperatures. They go for about $1000, but you can get a small home version for about $299.

Not wanting to drop so much money on a device I won't be using often, I discovered on Serious Eats a hack, if you will, to cook items sous-vide, without spending lots of money. They suggest using a large beer cooler to help maintain your desired temperature in order to cook your food of choice.

I thought it would be easier for me to just use a large pot of water on a stove and a thermometer and just adjust the heat from time to time.

Friday, March 2, 2012


I've been wanting to check out the tapas bar, Degustation for a while now.

It was so delicious! I've been to several fancy-ish places to dine in the past year and this is the only one I would return too.

Unfortunately, I don't remember exactly what all the items are because we did a chef tasting menu and a lot of the items we had were not present on their current menu.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I think my mom would get mad at me if I tried to do this with her coffee maker, lol.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Daring Bakers' February, 2012 Challenge: Quick! Gimme a Flavor!

Beer Cheese Bread
The Daring Bakers’ February 2012 host was – Lis! Lisa stepped in last minute and challenged us to create a quick bread we could call our own. She supplied us with a base recipe and shared some recipes she loves from various websites and encouraged us to build upon them and create new flavor profiles.

Check out the post HERE

I decided to go with a Beer Bread recipe because ever since I've heard of beer bread, I've been obsessed with making some and never really had a valid excuse to whip some up until now.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pulled Pork

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich
I had President's Day off. What better way to spend a day off than slow roasting a whole pork shoulder for hours and hours?

I absolutely love pulled pork because it's so cheap and easy to make! I got a 5.5 lb pork shoulder from my local grocery store for about $6!

You can't get any easier than seasoning a shoulder and then literally placing it into a low oven and walking away.

I decided to go a little more complicated with my seasoning though. I made my own rub using salt, sugar and various spices such as paprika, cumin and garlic powder.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Experimental Tart Dough

My very first try at making a tart!
 So I picked up these mini tart pans at Bed Bath and Beyond the other day. I don't normally make tarts. In fact, I've never made a tart!. It was an impulse buy.

What am I going to do with these mini tart pans?

Make a tart, of course.

I was fully planning on whipping up a small amount of standard pie crust dough to line one of the pans with, but while looking through various food blogs, I noticed a recipe on David Lebovitz's food blog for something he called French Tart Dough.

His French Tart Dough looked a lot like Cream Puff Dough (Pâte à Choux if you wanna be fancy) without the eggs!

His recipe calls for combining your fat, water, sugar and salt and slowly heating it in an oven for 15 minutes. This is done to slowly brown the butter and create a layer of flavor that way.

I decided to skip that and treat the recipe as if I was making a batch of Cream Puff Dough (minus adding the egg, of course). I quartered the recipe so it could fit one mini tart pan.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Small Batch Cream Puffs

Cream Puff with Vanilla Ice Cream and Strawberry Sauce

I love desserts. Then again, who doesn't? I'm serious though. Put any kind of dessert in front of me and I go right it, and have a hard time stopping.

No self control. It's such a shame.

If only I could make a small amount of my favorite treats without making a full batch and potentially eat it all.

Well, after messing around with ratios, I discovered I could in fact make a small batch of cream puffs.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Onion Bacon Marmalade

 Onion Bacon Marmalade. Sweet. Salty. Smokey.

The first time I came across the concept of a onion and bacon spread, it was in the form of an ice cream sandwich my boyfriend got at an ice cream shop. It consisted of two chocolate cookies, chocolate soft serve and a layer of caramelized bacon and onions.

Yeah, the thought of bacon, onions and ice cream didn't phase us in the slightest. We were quite excited, in fact.

The ice cream sandwich in question was just ok. There were too many flaws going on with it. The cookies were too hard...the ice cream too soft...the bacon too chunky and way too salty.

While the sandwich to me was a "meh," I still couldn't get over the bacon onion spread they used. While it wasn't perfect, I knew it had potential. Maybe if I could recreate it and go easier on the bacon and heavier on the onions.

Hense, Onion Bacon Marmalade was born.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A come back! (Hopefully)

So my friend, Michelle, decided to start a food blog (visit her at Science Cooks!). After reading her first post, I remembered I too had this food blog, but sadly never had the time to update. It's such a shame too because I love taking pictures of the food I make and showing it off.

Well, no more! Thanks to Michelle, I've decided to make the time and update this long neglected blog at least once a week.

See you soon!
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