Fifty Shades of Glaze

vegan doughnuts, A Streetcar Named Devour

Yes, they’re real and they’re spectacular.

Let’s talk about Book Club. Not generally speaking; the 2018 rom-com, Book Club. Starring Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, Mary Steenburgen and Candice Bergen, the film follows these life-long best friends, (now in their 70s ) navigating their post-menopausal, post-divorced, post-widowed, and post-sexless marriage lives. (Side note: Did you know that Jane Fonda was 81 when this film released?! Yes, 81! She looks amazing.)

The friends are in a book club, and their next book is Fifty Shades of Grey. The story continues with them reading the book while finding love, rekindling love, reigniting love and rediscovering their self love. Some may say it’s cheesy, but I’m a sucker for any rom-com, and I found it lighthearted and endearing. The scenes between Fonda’s character, Vivian and former flame, Arthur (played by Don Johnson), clearly have incredible on-screen chemistry. Or the adorableness that’s Steenburgen’s, Carol, performing a tap-dancing number as her husband (a very hilarious Craig T. Nelson) rides in a motorcycle singing Meatloaf’s, “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That).”

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Original image by Apartment Story + June Pictures

I went to see this movie in theaters with my fellow rom-com loving friend, Lindsay when it first came out. I cried. I’m unsure if she did. But I definitely cry watching movies. I’m an empath. It happens.

I watched it again recently (it’s currently steaming on Amazon Prime.) I still enjoy it. With all of this extra time on my hands, I wanted to make time-consuming yeast-raised doughnuts. Fridge foraging is a trending hashtag on social media right now, as many of us are in self-quarantine and socially distancing. I discovered that I had almost three bottles of black sesame seeds in my pantry, so I wanted to make doughnuts with them. I found a recipe on Belly Rumbles, and made a couple of edits and vegan-ized it. I replaced the miso glaze in her recipe with matcha glaze (another ingredient I have plenty of in my pantry). And black sesame + matcha go together like peanut butter + jelly. Wouldn’t you agree?

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“To even be holding this book is embarrassing.” -Sharon (Candice Bergen)

Black Sesame Doughnuts with Matcha Glaze

Yields about 1 dozen
Recipe slightly adapted from Belly Rumbles


FOR THE BLACK SESAME PASTE

INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup black sesame seeds
4T date syrup (or honey if not vegan)

METHOD
Toast the black sesame seeds in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Swirl the pan, making sure all sides are toasted evenly. Toast till fragrant. Turn off burner and set pan aside to cool. Place seeds in a mini processor or coffee grinder and blitz till completely ground. In a bowl, mix with your liquid sweetener. Set aside.

FOR THE DOUGHNUTS


INGREDIENTS
¾ cup milk, warmed to 100-110 degrees
3T active dry yeast

¼ cup sugar
2 cups AP flour, plus more for dusting
2T flaxseeds + 2 1/2T water mixed together
¼ cup black sesame paste
Fryer oil

FOR THE GLAZE
3T soy milk (or other dairy-free option)
Pinch of salt
2T vegan butter, melted
2T food-grade matcha powder
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

METHOD
In a small bowl heat your milk to 100-110 degrees. Add in the yeast and 1T of sugar. Whisk to combine and allow to rest in a warm spot for about 10 minutes. There should be a layer of bubbles upon resting.

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“I would like to introduce you to Christian Grey” -Vivian

In a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, add the sugar, flour, flaxseed, water, black sesame paste and bubbled yeast mix. Beat on low speed for about 5-7 minutes. It’s done once the dough is smooth.

In a large lightly greased bowl, add the dough ball and secure with plastic wrap. Set the bowl aside where it’s warm. Dough should rest for about an hour (depending on your home temperature). You’ll know it’s ready when the dough has doubled.

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“I do like the idea of romance.” -Carol

Turn your dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for another 5 minutes. Then roll the dough to about 1-1.5cm thick. Use a doughnut punch cutter. Continue to roll out the dough scraps and punch out the doughnut rings till you have no more dough. You should get about 9-12 doughnuts in total.

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“We are too old.” -Sharon

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“But it does say right here, ‘for mature audiences'” -Carol

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Yeah, that certainly sounds like us.” -Diane

On a parchment-lined sheet tray place the cut out doughnut rings and holes, and top with plastic wrap on loosely. Put the tray somewhere warm to rest for 30 minutes to an hour. Dough should be doubled in size when it’s ready.

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Stimulate your mind.

Fill your deep-fryer or a large sauce pan half way with oil over medium heat till it reaches 350°F. Fry the doughnuts but don’t overfill the pan. Flip after 30-50 seconds on one side and finish with 30 seconds on the other. I like using wooden chopsticks to do the flipping, but you can use a stainless steel spatula if you don’t chopsticks on hand. Doughnuts should be golden brown when they’re done.

Allow doughnuts to drain excess oil on a cooling rack lined with a larger sheet tray underneath. While doughnuts are cooling make the glaze.

Add all ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk together till smooth and a think but pourable consistency. 

Dip the top of doughnuts in glaze and return to the cooling rack to drain and dry. Repeat with the rest of the doughnuts.

Enjoy. These are perfect with a cup of hot coffee, or my new favorite Dalgona coffee.

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“Drink up. Hoist that glass. Happy reading, ladies.” -Vivian

Let’s Twist Again (Like We Did Last Summer)

 

I need to get back into yoga. My body is constantly telling me I need to stretch and to weight train more. The aches + soreness associated with having a job where I’m on my feet 10+ hours a day, where I’m going up and down stairs all day is taking its toll. I average anywhere between 3-5 miles in steps alone by just being in the confines of the building. (That’s upped to 5-8 miles a day during our peak season!) On busy summer days (where the restaurant averages 2-hour wait times and lines stretch around the block like the ones in Disneyland) my body is wrecked from moving up and down and all around. I’m a bit older now (40 is getting closer and closer!) and I’m not as spry as I once was. So I’ve decided that yoga and weightlifting is a priority in 2020.

Another priority? This matcha and black sesame + dark chocolate babka. It is as heavenly as it sounds. The deep nutty and cocoa aromas from the toasted, ground black sesame seeds, and the full-bodied slight umami flavors from the matcha powder with the bittersweet chocolate is a lovely taste combination.

Babka is a dense cake comprised of yeasted dough that’s filled, rolled and cut in half vertically, then twisted and baked to perfection. I highly recommend upping your baking game by trying this easy to follow recipe if you are new to the beauty that is babka. Of course, I veganized it, sourcing a handful of recipes and testing combinations of each one. The recipe below gave me the best results. Share your babka experiences, tips and tricks below!

VEGAN Matcha Babka With Black Sesame + Dark Chocolate Filling

Recipe slightly adapted from Fix Feast Flair + The Little Epicurean 

Yields 1 babka loaf

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE MATCHA BABKA DOUGH

  • 1/2 cup soy milk, plus extra for brushing
  • 3.5 g active dry yeast
  • 344 g all-purpose flour
  • 64 g non-dairy, unsalted butter (I like Earth Balance) at room temperature
  • 25 g coconut sugar
  • 2 flaxseed eggs (2T flax + 5T warm water)
  • 1/3 t pure vanilla extract
  • 2 T matcha powder, cook-grade
  • 1/2 t kosher salt
  • Oil for coating bowl

FOR THE BLACK SESAME SEED FILLING

  • 6 T non-dairy unsalted butter (like Earth Balance or Melt), room temperature
  • 1/4 c coconut  sugar
  • 1.5 T maple syrup
  • 4 T black sesame seeds, toasted lightly and coarsely ground
  • 1/2 c miniature dairy-free dark chocolate chips (I like Enjoy Life)

METHOD FOR THE  DOUGH

  1. Heat the milk till the thermometer reaches 100-110°F.
  2. Whisk the warmed milk and yeast in a medium-sized bowl. Then whisk in 1/2 cup of the flour. Allow the mixture to sit for 20 minutes.
  3. Combine the butter and sugar in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment on medium speed till light and whipped fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add in half of the flax eggs mixture for about a minute. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl with a rubber spatula. Add in the rest of the flax mix and whip on medium for another minute. Add the vanilla. Stir for 30 seconds.
  5. At the lowest speed, slowly add in the rest of the flour and matcha powder till almost combined, and then mix in the  yeasted milk for another minute. Then add the salt. Mix on low till the dough starts to pull away from the bowl and it’s fully incorporated. About 5 minutes.
  6. Lightly coat a large bowl with a neutral oil and place the dough in it. Cover with a clean towel and place in a warm area for about 1-2 hours, depending on the temp of your house. (You’ll want the dough to double in size.)

METHOD FOR THE BLACK SESAME FILLING

  1. Heat the sesame seeds over medium-high heat and toss occasionally till the seeds start to give off a toasted aroma (you’ll know it when you smell it). Turn off the heat.
  2. Place the seeds in a food processor, blender or coffee grinder till completely ground.
  3. Using a paddle attachment on a standing mixer, combine the butter, sugar, syrup, and  toasted sesame seeds. On medium speed, whip till combined. Place in the refrigerator till you’re ready to assemble the babka.

ASSEMBLY

  1. Once the dough has doubled in size, place it on a lightly floured surface. Roll it out starting in the middle and working your way out. Roll the dough to a 12×16 rectangle.
  2. Use an offset spatula to evenly spread the sesame filling into the dough. Sprinkle a generous layer of chocolate chips on top.
  3. Line an 8” x 5” loaf pan with parchment paper.


  4. Starting at the short end, roll the dough tightly. The seam should be at the bottom of the roll.
  5. Cut the ends off of both sides using a sharp serrated knife.

  6. Gently cut the roll in half lengthwise, from top to bottom.
  7. With the cut sides up, twist the halves over and together. Cross the left end over the right, and then carefully lift the right side over the left again. Repeat till all sides are intertwined.
  8. Carefully place the dough twist into the prepped pan. Cover with a clean towel and let rise for about 45 minutes.
  9. Preheat oven to 350°F
  10. Remove towel. Brush the babka with soy milk.
  11. Place in the preheated oven for 25-35 minutes (depends on your oven) and till a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  12. When done, carefully remove from oven and allow to cook for about 15 minutes on a cooling rack before serving.

Mestiza Pop-Up Part 1!

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Well, this is happening.

I have long dreamt of showcasing my *own* food in a pop-up setting, and thanks to my friends at Opaline’s, it’s finally coming to fruition on Thursday, April 27.

Mestiza is a pop-up series concept paying homage to my multicultural background.

| Mestiza • noun. a woman of mixed racial or ethnic ancestry, especially, in Latin America, of mixed American Indian and European descent or, in the Philippines, of mixed native and foreign descent |

I am mestiza. My mother is mestiza. My maternal and paternal grandmothers are mestiza. I am a product comprised of multicultural mixing.

Part 1 of the series honors my mother’s Spanish and Filipino background. (Yes, that’s her pictured at around the age of 16.)

The menu I’ve created for Part 1 includes my interpretations of: halo-halo, mamon, turon, empanada, ensaymada, and more.

I’m very excited to share my food with you, and I hope to see you there!

Quantities are limited! Please RSVP by E-mail at Astreetcarnameddevour@gmail.com

When: Thursday, April 27 at 5pm till sold out

Where: Opaline’s, 221 SW Ankeny St. (Next to Tryst in Ankeny Alley.)

A Miracle Worker

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I don’t get sick too often. Maybe once or twice a year, tops. So when I do get sick all hell breaks loose. I simply hate getting sick and avoid it like, say, the plague.

Blame it on over-exhaustion, not getting enough sleep, working too much. Whatever week-long illness it was, it was completely unbearable. I had this unstoppable cough that seemed to worsen at night while in bed trying to sleep. The incessant coughing led to a sore throat and muscle pains in the abdomen; it was like I was doing nonstop crunches, but no 6-pack to show for.

What I needed was a miracle. Or Miracle Max.

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My regimen to nurse these ailments included daily vitamins, Emergen-C, so much orange juice, a hot elixir comprised of honey, fresh lemon juice, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne and turmeric. (It does the trick and nicely coats the throat.) But what really helps is a chicken soup of some kind. I had purchased a whole chicken and decided to make this Peruvian Aguadito soup quite reminiscent of the ones I used to enjoy at the L.A. Peruvian mini-chain, El Pollo Inka, that I used to frequent. The soup only gets better with a squeeze of the restaurant’s cilantro-chile sauce.

This Aguadito is a miracle worker, a magician, or brujo–the Miracle Max of soups. It has magical powers, I think, bringing you back to life. So much so that I felt increasingly better every time I consumed it (I ate the whole thing over the course of a week).

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I butchered the whole chicken into 10 pieces (halving the breasts) and kept the leftover bones to make stock for another time. The base of the recipe is usually mild, but I needed an extra kick of heat to help clear my nasal passages, and replaced with whole jalapeños for the typical serrano.

Make this the next time you start to have the ill feels. And once you start feeling better, have fun storming the castle.

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Peruvian Aguadito Chicken + Rice Soup
Recipe slightly adapted from A Cozy Kitchen
Serves 4-10

INGREDIENTS
2 bunches cilantro, stems discarded
12 garlic cloves, peeled
2 medium-sized jalapeños, stems discarded
10 cups chicken stock
3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 whole chicken, skin-on and bone-in, butchered into 10 pieces (2 drumsticks, 2 wings, 2 thighs, 2 breasts halved into 4 pieces)
1 medium-sized red onion, julienned
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne
1/3 cup long grain rice
1 can corn, drained
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
salt and pepper, to taste

METHOD
Purée the cilantro, garlic, jalapeños, and 1/2 cup of the chicken stock in a food processor or blender.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces, skin side down and season with salt and pepper, cooking for 5-10 minutes or till lightly browned. Turn and sear the other side for an additional 5 minutes. Once all sides are nicely seared, remove from the pot and set aside.

Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and add the onions and sauté till translucent. About 5-7 minutes. Add in the cilantro-garlic and jalapeño purée. Stir for 3 minutes to incorporate. Add in the rice, cumin and cayenne, stir for 2 minutes.

Slowly pour in the stock, stirring to incorporate. Bring to a boil, then add in the chicken pieces. Turn down the heat to low, add the corn and allow to simmer for 30-40 minutes.

Finish with the lime juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.

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(Editor’s Note: All movie screenshots in this story are property of Act III Communications and Twentieth Century Fox.)

Pie, Actually

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The first time I had heard the words “Banoffee Pie” were when Keira Knightley’s character, Juliet muttered them in the 2003 film, Love Actually. 

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“Banoffee pie?” she asked.

“No, thanks.” said Mark.

“Thank god. You would’ve broken my heart,” she sighed.

Such irony in that scene, as he was so secretly in love with her.

After watching the movie for the first time in 2004, I immediately investigated this “banoffee pie.” Ban (banana) offee (toffee). What I discovered, a British treat with a crisp, buttery crust, tender bites of banana and dulce de leche, and a soft, pillowy whipped cream topping. The combination is all too irresistible.

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Banoffee Pie
Recipe slightly adapted from Jamie Oliver
Serves 4-8

INGREDIENTS
4.1 ounces butter, melted
8.1 ounces Speculoos cookies (or digestive cookies), crushed into fine crumbs
1 can (10.5 ounces) condensed milk
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
2 large bananas, sliced 1 1/2 inches thick, on a bias
pinch salt
1 small bar of dark chocolate, finely chopped

METHOD
Make the dulce de leche. First, remove the label on the can. Take the upopened can and place into deep pot and completely immerse the can in water. The can must be completely submerged in the water or it will explode.

Turn the heat on the stove to medium-high. Cover the pot and once the water begins to boil, turn down to a gentle simmer. Set a timer for 1.5 hours, checking frequently to make sure the can is completely covered in water, and pouring in more water if needed.

After 1.5 hours, using a long pair of tongs, carefully flip the can upside-down and return back to the simmering water. Add more water to the pot if needed. Set another timer for 45 minutes. When done, carefully remove the can from the water and allow to cool in room temperature for about 30 minutes before opening. Set aside.

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Mix the melted butter with the cookie crumbs in a bowl. Place the mixture into a pie tin, pressing down to ensure the crust is evenly distributed. Place into the refrigerator for 1 hour.

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While the crust sets, whip the cream in a mixing bowl with a whisk till soft peaks form. Don’t over-mix. Set aside.

After the crust has set for 1 hour, spread the dulce de leche over the base of the crust evenly.

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Layer on the sliced bananas. Add a pinch of salt to the bananas.

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Then frost the top with the whipped cream.

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Sprinkle the top of the pie with the chopped chocolate. Place into the refrigerator to set for at least an hour. Serve.

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(Editor’s Note: All movie screenshots in this story are property of Universal Pictures.)

DINING IN…

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A pet peeve of mine: When stores begin selling their holiday decorations months before the holiday has even come close. (Can we just celebrate Halloween and Thanksgiving first, please?) It’s annoying, really. I don’t even want to think about Christmas in October when I’m trying desperately to put together my last-minute Halloween costume. Let’s keep them separated, people.

Another pet peeve of mine: Playing Christmas music in October. Or November.

Just stop.

I appreciate the wanting to get into the holiday spirit deal, but I just can’t justify listening to Bing Crosby singing “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” 100 times before Christmas. I just can’t. And as much as I love Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You”, I don’t want to hear it every single day leading up to Christmas.

I can’t.

I like to wait a good four to three weeks before the holiday to get everything done. That includes shopping, getting the tree, decorating, and watching all of my usual holiday favorites (The Holiday, Love Actually, Home Alone, Hook, Bad Santa, Bridget Jones’ Diary, and While You Were Sleeping).

And The Family Stone. With an all-star cast–Diane Keaton, Sarah Jessica Parker, Dermot Mulroney, Luke Wilson, and Craig T. Nelson, to name a few, The Family Stone circles around the Stone clan during Christmastime.

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The story starts off with the Stone’s prodigal son, Everett, (Mulroney) who brings his uptight, conservative girlfriend, Meredith Morton (Parker), with him to his family’s New England home for the holidays. Everett intends (albeit a bit skeptical) on proposing to her with his mom Sybil’s ring (Keaton), but is met with a bit of resistance from Sybil, who also has a terminal illness, and disapproves of her eldest son’s choice for a wife. None of the family approves of Everett’s girlfriend, either, and gives her a hard time at every opportunity they can. (Except Ben, played by Wilson, who shares a connection to Meredith.)

When Meredith sends an emergency SOS to her sister Julie (Claire Danes) to come stay at the Stones’ home with her for support, things get interesting when Julie arrives, and her growing mutual attraction to Everett cannot be denied. These star-cr0ssed siblings endure a few fights, misunderstandings and an engagement ring stuck on someone’s finger. Uh-oh.

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One of the more pivotal scenes in the movie is when Meredith plans to make her family’s traditional “Morton Strata”, a savory bread pudding, on Christmas Day for the Stone’s. But things quickly turn upside-down, quite literally.

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Without further giving away anymore spoilers, I encourage you to watch this heartwarming movie.

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This week’s post is dedicated to Meredith’s Christmas Strata, which includes mushrooms (even though Everett is allergic to them…oops!). Perfect for Christmas morning, make this recipe a day-ahead, as it’s important for the bread to absorb all of that custardy goodness.

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Meredith’s Christmas Strata with Swiss Chard, Mushrooms and Gruyère

Recipe slightly adapted from NYT Cooking
Serves 6

INGREDIENTS
½ pound stale bread, sliced about 3/4 to 1-inch thick cubes
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pats
2 1/2 cups milk
1 ¾ cup mushrooms, quartered
1 cup cooking greens stemmed and cleaned (Swiss chard, kale or spinach)
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup Mozzarella cheese, grated
½ cup Gruyère cheese, grated
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 Tablespoons fresh thyme, picked and chopped
 3 Tablespoons Kosher salt
1 Tablespoon red pepper flake
4 large eggs
½ teaspoon salt

METHOD
Lightly butter a 2-quart baking dish.

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In a large pan, toast the bread cubes lightly in 2 Tablespoons of the butter. Place in a large bowl, and toss with 1 cup of the milk. Set aside.

Sauté the mushrooms in 2 Tablespoons of the butter, then add in the thyme. Remove from the pan and into the bowl with the bread and milk.

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Using the same pan, heat another 2 Tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat, and add the cooking greens.

Stir for about 5 minutes, then add the garlic. Cover the pan, and allow the steam to cook the greens till it has completely collapsed, about three minutes. Uncover and stir, season with salt and red pepper flake.

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Remove from the pan, roughly chop and transfer to the bowl with the bread and mushrooms. Add the cheeses, and mix to incorporate. Arrange in the buttered baking dish.

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Beat together the eggs in a separate bowl, add in the remaining milk. Then pour over the bread mixture. Press the bread down into the custard mixture. Cover with foil and place into the refrigerator overnight.

On the next day, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place in the oven, and bake 45 to 50 minutes, until puffed and golden brown. Remove from the oven, and serve hot.

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(Editor’s Note: All movie screenshots in this story are property of Twentieth Century Fox.)

No Contest

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Thai food has become my comfort food. It’s the cuisine I crave on the regular. It’s become a big problem.

At work we had an open call “Salmon Chowder Contest” that would run on our menu at the restaurant if it was chosen to be the winner. This is the soup I made for the contest.

I decided to base my recipe off of one I made last year for my Tom Kha Gai soup. It’s not your traditional chowder, but it’s crazy delicious. Like, it’s really good. Trust me.

Forget tradition and try this! You won’t be disappointed.

Coconut Salmon Chowder
Yields 2 quarts

FOR THE CHOWDER

INGREDIENTS
2 nubs medium-sized galangal, peeled and sliced*
1 stalk lemongrass, white part only, sliced thin
5 kaffir lime leaves
6 Thai bird chiles
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
1 yellow onion, julienned
2 cups Yukon potatoes, peeled and medium-diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans coconut cream
2 cups vegetable stock
1 pound salmon, skin-off, cut into medium-sized cubes
1/8 cup fish sauce
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup Thai basil, picked and minced
1 cup cilantro, picked and minced
1 lime, zested and juiced
salt and pepper, to taste
*galangal is a rhizome from the same family as ginger, used primarily in Thai, Lao and Vietnamese cooking. Find it at your local Asian supermarket.

METHOD
Place the first 4 ingredients in a food processor and process to a paste. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat and add the paste, stirring till fragrant; about 5 minutes. Add the onions and saute till lightly browned. Add the potatoes and garlic and stir for a minute.

Turn down the heat and add the coconut cream and stir. Stir in the fish sauce and sugar, and bring to a gentle simmer, then add the salmon and simmer for an additional 5 minutes or till salmon is cooked.

Add the cilantro, Thai basil, lime zest and juice. Season with salt and pepper. Top with a healthy drizzle of Thai basil oil. (Recipe below).

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FOR THE THAI BASIL OIL
Yields 2 cups

INGREDIENTS
2 cups Thai basil, packed
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 3/4 cups olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt

METHOD
Blanch the basil leaves in boiling salted water for 20 seconds. Remove the basil and shock in an ice water bath. Add in the garlic and olive oil. Process in a food processor till fully combined.

Store in an airtight container overnight in the refrigerator. Not he next day, strain the oil through a fine-mesh sieve, discarding the leaves.

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