Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hoddeok (Sweet pancakes with brown sugar syrup filling)

Lately I've had a mild obsession for Korean food. I just can't get enough and I'm craving it constantly. Being my boring self, I've spent a lot of time searching recipes for Korean food. Then again I see nothing wrong in that because Korean food is absolutely delicious! I've been following the wonderfully talented cook, Maangchi, on youtube most recently. All of her recipes and videos look delicious. After making many of her recipes, I came to the realization that Maangchi is absolutely wonderful!!! Her recipes are usually quite straightforward and always delicious.

Recently I tried out her Hoddeok recipe. Hoddeok is basically a pancake filled with sugar syrup inside. It is a recipe popular street-side snack in Korea...and I know why. It's beyond delicious. It's slightly chewy, it's soft, it's sweet, and it's nutty. Believe me, if you decide to make this, you absolutely will not regret it. Enough with the chit chat, here's the recipe and some pictures to go along with it.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Linguine with parmesan crusted chicken

This is a very simple pasta dish that can be made very easily after a hard day's work. All you need is some tomato sauce, chicken breast, bread crumbs, and your favorite pasta. I created this recipe right before I decided to cook dinner for my family. I knew that I wanted to make pasta and I just so happened to have some fresh tomato sauce in the fridge, so I decided to create my own very simple recipe. Because I didn't really pay attention to what I was doing, the measurements may be off so you may have to adjust some things.

This was actually the first time I used parmesan breadcrumbs and pancetta. I never found any use for pancetta before, but now that I've used it, I know that it's something I'm going to use in my pasta dishes often. It's so crispy and just salty enough. In my opinion it's better than bacon because it's much thicker so there's more flavor.

Linguine with parmesan crusted chicken:

makes 4 servings

1 pound linguine
1 cup chopped pancetta
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 chicken breasts
1 egg
1 1/2 cup parmesan bread crumbs

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook linguine until it is al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain, and set aside.

In a bowl, beat one egg. In a separate bowl, pour in the breadcrumbs. Cut each chicken breast in half and pound them out slightly. Heat a large skillet with 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is heated, first dip the chicken slices into the beaten egg, then coat the chicken in bread crumbs and cook in the skillet until both sides are brown and crispy (about 5 minutes each side). Cut into slices and set aside.

In another large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is heated, cook the pancetta until it is brown and crisp. Once the pancetta has crisped, add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. After about 30 seconds add the tomato sauce and cook for about 5 minutes, just until the sauce is heated through. Toss the cooked linguine with the sauce and let the pasta finish cooking in the sauce, about 3 minutes.

To serve, place the pasta in a dish and arrange the chicken slices on top of the pasta.

This dish is wonderfully easy and absolutely delicious. It's surprisingly light and fresh tasting. Feel free to add some diced onion along with the pancetta if you want some more texture since the onion in the sauce becomes quite soft. I served the pasta with "perfect crusty bread" I made the day before. I highly recommend you make this dish if you're not in the mood to slave over the stove. It's absolutely delicious.

Happy Cooking!

Basic Tomato Sauce

For a while now, I've wanted to make tomato sauce from scratch. I got so tired of using the canned stuff but I was always too afraid to make my own sauce. I would always look at recipes and watch videos on how to make tomato sauce, but for some reason I never really attempted it....that is until recently.

I know I'm not the only one who watches Chef John's videos on youtube. He's an amazing chef and makes the tastiest looking food. So as I was watching his latest video, I came across his basic tomato sauce recipe and watched the video. As I was watching it I realized it didn't seem that difficult to make sauce from scratch. So that's how I came to the decision of trying to make tomato sauce.

You can find this recipe on youtube or you can visit his blog. There are so many different recipes to try out and everything looks delicious.

Basic tomato sauce recipe:

2 cans (28-oz) whole peeled San Marzano plum tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 rib celery, fine dice (I didn't use this since I didn't have any)
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
pinch of red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon anchovy paste (I didn't use this since I didn't have any)
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley

water as needed
In a dutch oven, sweat the celery and onions with the olive oil over medium-low heat. Cook the mixture for about 15 minutes, until the celery and onions become golden brown. 
Pour the whole tomatoes into a large bowl, and with your hands, crush the tomatoes. The tomatoes should almost have the consistency of a puree. 
After 15 minutes add the garlic, salt, sugar, herbs, red pepper flakes, anchoy paste, and white vinegar. Turn up the heat to medium and cook the mixture until all the liquid has evaporated. You do not want the mixture to brown or form a crust on the bottom of the pan. When the liquid has almost completely evaporated, add the tomato paste and cook for about 2 minutes. 

Next, add the crushed tomatoes and chopped parsley. Stir the sauce and add a splash of water. Let the mixture simmer. (You will be adding water about every 10 minutes.) When it comes up to a simmer, turn the heat down to low and simmer for 1 hour 30 minutes. Stir the sauce every 10 minutes when you add the water. After 1 1/2 hours, the mixture should be nice and thick. Serve on top of your favorite pasta and enjoy!

This sauce is very simple and it is absolutely delicious. I never thought I'd be able to make such a wonderful sauce, but I did. Really, it's a very yummy sauce. I made some linguine and parmasean bread crusted chicken and served it to my family. They loved it. My dad devoured the meal in 5 minutes. I guarantee this is going to be your go-to tomato sauce recipe after you make this. It's so great and I definitely think you should try it out! 

Happy Cooking!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Mother's Day (this post is a bit late)

Mother's Day is always a fun day. I usually let my mom wake up to a wonderful breakfast waiting for her in the dining room. But this year it wasn't like that. You see, my grandmother wasn't able to go to the family mother's day party due to health issues, so my mom thought of the idea of bringing another dinner to her. So we woke up early and headed to my grandmother's apartment in Flushing and prepared a wonderful dinner. She was so happy, and I absolutely love seeing her so happy. I think what really was the "icing on the cake" was the fact that I made a cake for her. She loved it. She always loves it when I bring her my baked goods. I was really happy to see her enjoy the cake so much. I bringing joy to peoples' lives through my desserts. I know that sounds corny, but it's true. 

I first made this cake around last Christmas. I had some left over coconut flakes from making seven layer cookie bars, so I decided to make a coconut-walnut cake with dulce de leche frosting. I think it was originally my brother's suggestion. It sounded kind of odd to me at first, but after I made it, I thought very differently. My goodness, it was delicious. I think the dulce de leche frosting was great, but what really made the cake was by adding texture by using walnuts. It wouldn't have been 100% without the walnuts. The cake's a bit time consuming and I put a lot of different elements together. There's quite a good amount of butter, but this cake was never intended to be healthy anyway, so why not? Here's the recipe:

Coconut Cake (adapted from Ina Garten) 

makes 2 9-inch cakes

3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pans
2 cups sugar
5 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pans
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
4 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
1 cup chopped toasted walnuts (This isn't in the original recipe, but I added it for texture. You can add more or less depending on your taste)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease2 (9-inch) round cake pans, then line them parchment paper. Grease them again. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light yellow and fluffy. Crack the eggs into a small bowl. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl once during mixing. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well. The mixture might look curdled; don't be concerned. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk to the batter in 3 parts, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Fold in the 4 ounces of coconut with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter evenly into the 2 pans and smooth the top with a knife. Bake in the center of the oven for 45 to 55 minutes, until the tops are browned and a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a baking rack for 30 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto a baking rack to finish cooling.

Dulce de Leche Frosting:

3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 c. Crisco shortening 
2 tsp vanilla extract
8 cups powdered sugar

In a mixer, cream the butter, shortening, and vanilla for 2-3 minutes, until it's light and fluffy. Then slowly incorporate the powdered sugar and cream that for about 3 minutes. You want the buttercream to look fluffy. Once it has come together and looks fluffy, slowly add the cooled dulce de leche. (Make sure the dulce de leche is cooled or the frosting will just melt!)

The assembly of this cake is no different from what you would usually do. It took me a while to frost the outside of the cake. Originally, I only used half the amount of frosting. However it didn't cover much of the cake so I just let that set overnight in the fridge and I whipped up another batch in the morning and re-frosted the cake. It looked much better then. So in the end, I used the entire frosting recipe....I should have just done that the first time... Regardless, the cake tasted delicious and looked wonderful. I really do recommend you making this cake. It's going to sell out, I promise!

Originally a four tiered cake, but the frosting soaked into the cake :(

Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake

I don't remember why, but for some reason I had bought some sour cream. I didn't want it to go to waste and I knew sour cream would make a mean coffee cake, so I decided to make cinnamon coffee cake. Funny story, I used to think that coffee cake actually had coffee in the cake. Now I know that it's called coffee cake because it's consumed with coffee or during a "coffee or tea break." At least, I think that's correct.

I've always been a big fan of coffee cake. My very first one was from Hostess....i think? It was one of those chain manufacturers. It was actually pretty good. Ever since then, I've been a very big fan of coffee cakes. They're delicious. I love the moist cake with cinnamon filling and the crumbly streusel topping all tied together with a nice glass of milk. It's a wonderful way to "celebrate" the fact that I just made a coffee cake.

This recipe is from King Arthur Flour's website. I was a bit unsure about it at first but after reading the reviews I decided to give it a try. It's a good thing too because it was a success! It's delicious, I really have to say. After having written so much about coffee cake, I kind of want some....oh well. I won't be writing the recipe out this time. Instead, here's the link. I think it's also a great recipe because it shows step-by-step photos of how to make the cake. It's a bit time consuming and uses a few bowls, but it's well worth the effort. I really recommend making this cake. You won't regret it, I promise!

Happy Baking!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mom!!!

Last thursday was my mom's birthday. I can't tell you her age though. I thought it would be wonderful if I cooked her a birthday dinner. I planned it for days. Everything had to be perfect, and in my opinion, everything was almost perfect. Of course there were a few things I'd like to tweak, but overall, it was a successful dinner. Enough with the talking, I'll show you the pictures!

from left to right:

~Seared salmon with pea puree
~tomato garlic bruschetta
~arugula salad w/bacon and balsamic vinaigrette

spinach-ricotta ravioli

spinach-ricotta ravioli with a butter sage sauce

chocolate cake filled with white chocolate mousse covered in chocolate buttercream

my wonderful mom!

my cousin and mom

my mom and I
(haha where are my eyes?!)

Although making this whole dinner was very tedious, especially since I was doing it all alone, I was very happy to see my mom happy. She absolutely loved every course. It was a great night and I'm really glad I decided to do this.

Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls

I love bread....especially warm dinner rolls. Honestly, one of my favorite parts about going to the Cheesecake Factory or Piccola Bussola is sitting down and eating those wonderful, freshly out of the oven dinner rolls. They're just so tasty! So, after having dreamt of dinner rolls for quite some time, I decided to make some. My timing couldn't have been better because it just so happened to be the day before my mom's birthday when I made them and she absolutely LOVES bread. So, I whipped up a batch of whole wheat dinner rolls and may I say, they were delicious.

The recipe I used was from Food Network. I used Tanya Holland's recipe. Since the original recipe yields 24-30 rolls, I cut the recipe in half and substituted half the all purpose flour for whole wheat flour. Here's the recipe:

Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls (adapted from Tanya Holland)

makes 12-18 rolls

1/2 package dry active yeast
1/2 cup warm water (about 110 degrees F)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 egg, beaten
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk, scalded but cooled to warm
2 ounces butter, melted, plus 1 ounce
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups whole-wheat flour, plus more, as needed (i used king Arthur flour)

In a standing mixing bowl with dough hook, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let sit until lightly foamy, then stir in sugar and add egg, salt, warm milk, and 2 ounces of butter. Slowly add 2 1/2 cups flour, adding more as needed to make an elastic dough. Mix well, then roll out to floured surface and knead dough for about 5 minutes. Place dough in buttered bowl, cover with towel, and set in a warm place to rise until double in bulk, about 1 hour. Punch down dough and form dough into 1-inch balls. Place the balls onto a greased baking sheet, and allow to rise an additional 1/2 hour. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Brush the risen dough balls with remaining melted butter. Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

letting the yeast foam

yeast, water, egg, salt, milk, butter

this is what your dough should look like after 5 minutes

getting ready for the first rise

This is the best I can do when it comes to having a "kitchen towel"

getting ready for the second rise

I have to say, these dinner rolls were a success. My mom absolutely loved them. They were crispy on the outside but oh-so fluffy on the inside. I highly recommend you serving these the day they were made. My mom placed them in a container and they go slightly soft on the outside. They still tasted great, but I think that I will definitely serve them the day I make them next time. Well, there's nothing left to say but enjoy! 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Snicker doodles

Who can resist the warm feeling you get when you eat a wonderful cinnamon-sugar drenched cookie? Yes that's right....I'm talking about snicker doodles. They're so yummy! Maybe I think this because I absolutely love cinnamon. Or maybe it's because they remind me of Christmas, which is my favorite holiday. I guess I kind of miss that time of year now that spring is here. (I rhymed :D) There's just something magical about Christmas; how it brings family together and just makes everybody happy. So, missing the holidays so much, I decided to whip up a batch of these delicious cookies. Here's the recipe:

Snicker doodles:

makes 18 cookies

1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

  • cinnamon-sugar mixture:
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cream together butter, shortening, 3/4 cups sugar, the egg and the vanilla. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Once the butter mixture has been creamed, mix in the flour mixture. Using a tablespoon, scoop the dough and shape them into balls. In another bowl, mix the sugar and the cinnamon. Roll the dough balls into the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place the dough balls 2 inches apart on greased baking sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or golden brown. Remove from the baking sheets and let cool.

This recipe is super simple and takes only 15 minutes to prepare. They're absolutely delicious straight from the oven.....but I suggest you don't eat them when they're scorching hot. You must have will power and wait for them to cool for at least 5 minutes. Trust me, they're worth the wait. 

Happy Baking! 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

200 cupcakes

One of my friends recently requested that I make her 200 "Alice in Wonderland" themed cupcakes. When I first heard of this request, I knew there would be absolutely no way I could ever possibly do such a task with my single oven. But I gave it some thought and decided I'd give it a test run with just a few cupcakes and designs over spring break. So I did a few days ago and here's what I came up with:

Well, what do you think? In my opinion the cupcakes were a success. I had my friend come over yesterday and she was absolutely ecstatic. She loved them. After seeing here reaction, I knew that I would most likely be able to pull this off. Who knows?...maybe this could be the start to my future baking business. 

Friday, April 8, 2011

Milk and Cookies

Never is there a time when a good old fashioned chocolate chip cookie doesn't make you feel happier. There's just something about this comfort food that brightens the moment. I think it's the brown sugar which adds the rich, chewy texture we all look for. In my opinion, a good chocolate cookie consists of crisp outer edges, and a wonderfully chewy center. This cookie, is all that and more.

This is probably the easiest cookie recipe on the face of the earth and it yields wonderful cookies. Here's the recipe:

Chocolate Chip Cookies:

makes 36 cookies

  • 1 cup and 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (i used mini chocolate chips)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Sift the flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Using a mixer, beat the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract until creamy. Then add the egg and beat well. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto greased baking sheets. (i used a small ice-cream scoop) Bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Once golden brown, cool for 5-10 minutes. 

The hardest part about making these cookies is most likely waiting for them to bake. The entire house become filled with a wonderfully sweet aroma that you just cannot resist. Try not to stare at them baking because you know what they say, "a watched pot never boils." But, once your cookies have been baked and cooled, I think you know what to do next.... DEVOUR THEM! Don't save them, EAT THEM! Pour yourself a nice cold glass of milk, and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Happy Baking! 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Bread Pudding Galore

What does someone do with left over, unwanted, stale croissants?... Well, I make caramel croissant bread pudding. Nigella Lawson's recipe to be exact. This bread pudding is absolutely delicious. It's quite sweet, though, so I try not to eat too much. It's a bit difficult to do that. 

Now, if you're watching your weight, this is definitely NOT something you want to eat. It's wonderfully rich and caramelly, which means it's definitely not on the Weight Watchers recipe book. But if you feeling like just letting yourself go for one night, this is definitely the "go to" dessert. It's definitely one I make over and over again!

Caramel Croissant Bread Pudding (adapted from Nigella Lawson)

makes 2 servings (1 croissant per person)

2 stale croissants
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp water
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk (I used 1%)
2 eggs, beaten

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Tear the croissants into pieces and put them into 2 5-ounce ramekins. Be sure to lightly grease them. 
Put the sugar and water into a saucepan, and swirl around to help dissolve the sugar before putting the saucepan on the hob over medium to high heat. Caramelize the sugar and water mixture by letting it bubble away until it all turns a deep amber colour; this will take 3 to 5 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and add the cream  followed by the milk. (the mixture will bubble violently, so be careful) Whisk the mixture to mix and while still whisking, add the beaten eggs. Pour this quickly over the croissants and leave to steep for 10 minutes. Once the croissants have soaked the custard mixture, bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, the croissant pudding should be golden brown. Let them cool for a few minutes, then invert them onto a plate and serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

Happy Baking! 

Hazelnut "Entremet"

For the past week I've been pretty much obsessed with Entremets. Entremet literally translates into "between servings" (from old French). They're either small dishes served between courses or dessert. I was first introduced to these small delights when I came across this food blog: Evan's Kitchen Ramblings is now my favorite blog to follow. Her desserts are absolutely gorgeous. Now, I would hardly ever attempt to create her desserts, therefore last night I created my own, simpler version of an Entremet; my hazelnut/Nutella entremet. I served it to my parents and they absolutely loved it. So here's the recipe:

makes approx 8-10 servings

for the chocolate cake (Hershey's Perfectly Perfect Chocolate Cake): 
2 cups sugar 
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil 
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
for the hazelnut crunch:
1/4 cup hazelnut spread (I used Nutella)
2 tbsp shortening (Don't use butter)
1-1 1/4 cup crisped rice (I used Rice Krispies) 
for the hazelnut mousse:
2 tbsp butter, softened
1 1/2 tbsp cream cheese; softened
1/2 cup Nutella, softened(You can use more if you prefer a more prominent hazelnut flavor or less if you don't)
1/3 cup heavy cream

1. chocolate cake:
Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour the baking sheet tray. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan to wire racks. Cool completely.
* I used most of the batter to make 12 cupcakes. I poured the remaining batter into a baking sheet. Once it was baked and cooled I cut the sheet cake in half vertically. Then I trimmed the cakes into approx 8"x6" pieces.  However you can make them as big or small as you want.* 
2. hazelnut crunch:
In the microwave, melt the hazelnut spread and butter. (the butter will be melted, the hazelnut spread will be softened). Once the butter has melted, stir in the crisped rice. The mixture should be slightly wet/damp. Set this aside. 
3. hazelnut mousse:
Cream the softened butter and cream cheese until pale and fluffy. Then add the hazelnut spread into the mixture and cream. In a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream until it reaches slightly stiff peaks. Fold in 1/4 of the whipped cream into the hazelnut mixture to lighten it. Then slowly fold in the rest of the whipped cream into the hazelnut mixture. The mousse should be nice and fluffy. 
4. assembly:
Line a rectangular mousse ring with parchment paper. In the ring layer one of the halves of chocolate cake on the bottom. Next, spread a generous layer of the hazelnut crunch onto the cake. Refrigerate until set. (approx 10 minutes) Then layer the other half of the cake on top of the crunch. Next, spread the mousse on top the cake. Make sure the mousse is layered nice and smoothly. Refrigerate until set. (approx 30 minutes) Once set, dust the cake with cocoa powder. Remove the cake from the ring and cut the cake into approx 8 3"x2" slices. Garnish and serve. Enjoy! 

Happy Baking!