Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Ever since I moved to the Northern Virginia area I have heard so much about Pho. I have never been to a Pho restaurant, but have always wanted to try it. Then I was doing my daily blog hop and came to My Kitchen Addiction and her Kitchen Boot camp. She has a new one every month usually for technique, but this time it was a food challenge, based on the book The Professional Chef. I haven't done one before and it looked like fun, so I decided to give it a try. The challenge is from the second part of the book: The Americas, Asia and Europe. I chose to focus on Asia, because I make "American" food all the time plus I don't know if I'm ready to take on European food. Now I've made my share of stir fry's and fried rice, but this is supposed to be a challenge.
So I went to the library and headed for the cooking section to look for region to focus on. I finally decided on Vietnamese cooking and found a book that spoke to me Quick and Easy Vietnamese. I looked through it and found a recipe for Pho, and thought this is it. I immediately checked out the book and headed for my local Asian Market to get my ingredients. My first thoughts when I got home were, man this is a lot of ingredients and I hope I don't mess this up. My hubby (my pho expert) gave me a little insight "it's all about the broth," so with that I went to work.
Pho Noodles with Beef
For the Broth
8 cups of Chicken Broth
1lb round steak, sliced crosswise into 1 inch strips
3 cinnamon sticks
3 whole cloves
3 star anise
1 unpeeled onion, cut into quarters lengthwise
½ peeled and coarsely chopped fresh ginger (to peel use the back of a spoon)
For the Bowl
½ lb linguine-width dried rice noodles (banh pho)
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
3 cups bean sprouts
1 cup thinly sliced onion or shallots
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh Asian basil (I like Thai basil), cilantro or mint, or a combination
½ cup thinly sliced green onion
¼ cup of freshly squeezed lime juice (I just cut the lime, that way you can use as much as you want)
2 fresh jalapeno chilies cut into thin rounds
1 ¼ pound boneless rib-eye, strip or flank steak
To prepare the broth, combine chicken broth, sliced round steak, cinnamon stick, cloves and star anise in a large stock pot. Bring to a gentle boil over medium high heat. Your house will smell AMAZING.
Meanwhile, brown the onion and ginger to bring out the flavor: heat a large skillet over medium high heat until very hot, about one minute. Add onion and ginger and cook until browned on all surfaces. Then add to broth, and boil for 1 hour.
While broth is cooking soften the noodles by immersing them in warm water for 15-20 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Remove broth from the heat and stir in fish sauce, sugar and salt. Strain broth into a large saucepan, discarding the solids.
About a half hour before serving, prepare the noodles, beef and accompaniments.
Bring a large saucepan of water to a rapid boil for the noodles; also bring broth to a boil as well.
Slice the steak, drop the broth and cook until medium rare.
Right before serving cook noodles by dropping them in water, remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Be sure to break up any clumps.
Drain noodles and divide them into 4 bowls, top with steak, bean sprouts, onions, herbs, green onions, and chilies.
Ladle hot broth over noodles and serve with lime.
I really enjoyed taking part in this challenge. While this recipe wasn't very quick, it was very satisfying. I hope you all enjoy this recipe. Be blessed
Thursday, March 24, 2011
I woke up this morning and felt inspired to make a real breakfast. Now I "make" breakfast every morning, and by make I mean a bowl of cereal or oatmeal. But this morning I wanted some more. I looked around my kitchen for some inspiration; I have eggs (ok), milk (alright), bread (I might be on to something) and Nutella (Eureka; French Toast). Now if you don't know what Nutella is, I will help you out. It is a chocolate hazelnut spread that is the yummiest thing ever. Whether on a piece of toast or right out of the jar, which is how I usually enjoy it, I just love it. So I decided I would make French Toast, but I would take it up a notch and stuff it with Nutella. Just thinking about it while I'm writing is making my mouth water for more.
I gathered all my ingredients, got out my trusty flat top griddle and got to work. If you don't have a griddle you can use a non stick pan and be just fine. The recipe is a simple French Toast recipe, so I put my own little spin on it by play with flavorings. I have been looking for a way to use Nutella in a recipe for a while, and this was my chance.
You can also try using different extracts, I used vanilla because that's what I had, but you can use almond or if you have hazelnut extract that would work nice as well. Just remember that recipes like this you have lots of room to get creative.
Nutella Stuffed French Toast
Recipe Makes 6 stuffed French toast
About a cup of milk
1 tsp cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
Splash of vanilla extract
12 slices of whole wheat bread (that makes it healthy)
A jar of Nutella
1. Preheat griddle to 350. Mix eggs, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, sugar and vanilla together well.
2. Lay out 6 slices of bread and smear on the Nutella (use as much or little as you like), then top with remaining slices of bread.
3. Rub a teaspoon of butter on the griddle. Coat each sandwich in the egg mixture until completely coated.
4. Place on griddle and cook until golden brown on each side.
5. Slice on a diagonal to show the chocolatey goodness. Dust with powdered sugar; serve with your favorite breakfast sides and enjoy.
I must say that these were soooo good that I didn't even need any syrup. I can wait for you to try this and let me know how you like it. Enjoy and be blessed. I think I'll go get another helping.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
There are a few things I crave when the sky is gray and it looks like rain. One of them is a big bowl of chili; the other is a Cinnabon cinnamon roll. Since it is raining out, and my hubby is not a big Chili fan I decided to go the Cinnamon Roll route.
I had quite an obsession for Cinnamon Rolls, specifically Cinnabon Rolls. I remember, back when I worked for a particular airline based out of Charlotte, whenever I went there for training I would have to stop by to feed my obsession. I mean they were just so good, as soon as I got off the plane and made my way through the terminal and, if I ever caught a whiff of the sweet cinnamonny, buttery goodness. I would just have to get one or four. Yeah, that happen a lot.
Nowadays, since the closest Cinnabon is about 20 minutes away and current gas prices are almost $4.00 a gallon, I decided to try my hand at making these wonderful confections myself. I'll admit I was a bit nervous at first, because working with yeast can be tricky. If the water is too cold the yeast won't bloom, and if it's too hot you'll kill it. But with my trusty thermometer (and prayer) I got it right on the first try. The recipe I adapted my happiness from called for hand mixing the dough, but I'm not in to manual labor. I broke out my best friend, the KitchenAid mixer. Now if you don't have one, drop everything you are doing and get one now, or just use a wooden spoon.
The next thing I started thinking about was the icing. Cinnabon uses a cream cheese icing (so they say) but I do not like cream cheese… at all. The mere mention of it gets my face to turning up in all kinds of directions. I don't like the taste, the smell… I'm just not a fan. Usually when I make the icing I will simply use my good old Buttercream recipe, but since I have 3, 3lb containers of cream cheese in the freezer I figured I would give it a try.
A quick heads up before you get started following along with me; this recipe calls for Bread Flour. I know not everyone keeps a 50lb bag of bread flour in their kitchen like I do, but cinnamon rolls are breakfast bread so it is needed. There are plenty of good, no expensive brands you can find in the store. Pillsbury and King Arthur's are both good brands.
•1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
•2 eggs, room temperature
•1/3 cup butter, melted
•4 1/2 cups bread flour
•1 teas salt
•1/2 cup white sugar
•1 pkg yeast (1/4 ounce or 2 ½ tsp if you buy in bulk like me)
For the Filling:
•1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
•2 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
•1/2 cup butter, softened
For the Icing:
•3 oz cream cheese, softened
•1/2 cup butter, softened
•2 cups confectioners' sugar
•1/2 tsp vanilla extract
•1/8 tsp salt
- Dissolve, yeast in warm milk in a large bowl. Add sugar, butter, salt, eggs, and flour. Mix well. Knead dough into a large ball, using your hands dusted lightly with flour otherwise you will be pick dough off your hands for hours. Put in a bowl and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour or until dough has doubled in size. Now here is the great thing about making any kind of dough. If you aren't ready to use it, go and let out some aggression and punch down the dough. I call it dough therapy. Do this until you are ready to move to the next step.
3. Spray work surface, whatever it may be (counter top or grandma's antique table) with cooking spray or sprinkle flour on it otherwise get out your chisel to get the dried dough up.
4. Roll dough out into a 16x21 inch rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Spread dough with 1/2 cup butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture and pat it down.
5. Roll up dough and cut into 12 rolls (or smaller rolls). Place rolls in a lightly greased 9x13 inch glass baking dish. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled. This should take about 30 minutes.
|To roll the log, start in the middle and work your way out until you get a long log.|
|To make sure you get even rolls. Using a serrated knife and slice log in half, then line the halves next to each other. Score tops of dough to ensure even size then slice through.|
6. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown, about 18–20 minutes.
7. While rolls are baking, beat together cream cheese, butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Spread frosting on while they are still warm so that it melts into the roll.
|Doesn't that look good.|
So the verdict on the cream cheese frosting, still not a fan. My compromise, add more butter (butter fixes everything especially pants being too loose). It is the perfect blend of butter and cream cheese. If you happen to be a fan of cream cheese, simply lower the butter to a ¼ cup. I hope you enjoy these yummy treats as much as I did. Be blessed.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
This has to be one of my favorite pound cake recipes; it is actually one of the first things I learned to make. When I was younger my Grandmother would make this every holiday season. I remember arriving at her house every Christmas and wait for this to hit the table. She would make several because she would let the families take home half a cake.
But, Christmas is too far away to wait for this yummy cake. This has to be the most requested cake that I make; so much that I keep apples in my fridge at all times. I recently made this for a book club meeting and it was a success.
Now while I have changed the recipe some from the way my Nana made it, it still brings me back to Christmas when I eat it. I have tried almost every type of apple in this recipe to see if it changed the flavor or texture, and they all seem to hold up well. So your favorite baking apple will be fine or mix them up if you like. My grandmother used walnuts in her batter and it does give a flavor and texture, but due to nut allergies among friends I tend to leave them out. Otherwise, the recipe is pretty simple. Just remember to have fun.
Jewish Apple Cake
3 medium apples, peeled cored and diced
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups white sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup orange juice
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour one 10 inch tube pan.
2. Sprinkle apples with 5 tablespoons white sugar and the ground cinnamon (I could stop here and just eat this by itself). Toss to coat and set aside.
3. Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and set aside.
4. In the mixer combine butter, sugar and oil until light and fluffy.
5. Add eggs one at a time until well blended. Then add orange juice and vanilla.
6. Reduce blender speed to low and add flour. Mix until well combined.
7. Pour 1/2 of the batter into the prepared pan. Place half apple mixture over the batter then pour the remaining batter and sprinkle remaining apples on the top.
8. Bake at 350 degrees F for 60 to 80 minutes. Let cake cool in pan, if you can.
I hope you enjoy this cake as much as I do. Enjoy a little piece of my family, be blessed.