Midnight Macaroons

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Chocolate-Covered Hazelnut Macaroons
Slightly adapted from Martha Stewart
Yields about 8 cookies

INGREDIENTS
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 large egg whites
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skinned and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

METHOD
Fill a sauce pot with water and heat to boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to just simmering. Fill a large metal (or heat-resistant) mixing bowl with the chocolate chips and place over the hot water bath. Allow to melt, stirring with a spatula every few minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg white. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Form the dough into eight, 2 tablespoon mounds and drop each onto the sheet pan about 2-inches apart.

Bake the macaroons until golden brown on the edges, about 15 minutes. Allow to sit for about 5 minutes then transfer to wire racks to cool. Using a spoon, drizzle the melted chocolate over the cooled macaroons. Serve.

Macaroons will keep in a sealed container for up to one week.

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

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Hot Noods

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I eat more ice cream in the winter than in the summer. I enjoy a good bowl of ramen or pho on a hot summer day. I bake more in the summer than in the winter.

Weird.

I don’t know what it is (maybe my body is calibrated to the opposite side of the hemisphere?), but I tend to eat atypical foods seasonally. Am I the only one here on this?

So it’s summer and it’s HOT. And this is coming from a girl who was born in LA. I LOVE the cold. While I lived in New York, most of my friends complained about the snow storms and low temps, I relished in it. So when the temps jump to above 80 degrees, I’m not too stoked.

Yet I crave hot things. And that’s not limited to the spicy-hot variety. I make this Thai-style noodle dish a lot in the summer. Instead of the standard peanut sauce, I swap it for almond butter, which is just as good. This time around I opted for a vegetarian version, but I’ve made this dish with shrimp, chicken, pork and tofu. All of which tasted excellent. Love pairing these noodles with this Thai Basil Chicken dish.

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Spicy Thai Noodles with Almond Butter Sauce
Serves 2-4

INGREDIENTS
6 ounces Pad Thai noodles
4 Tablespoons almond butter
4 Tablespoons soy sauce
½ cup chicken stock, plus 1 cup if needed
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 Tablespoons Thai Chile Garlic Sauce
3 Tablespoons Sriracha
1 cup cilantro leaves, for garnish

METHOD
Cook the noodles according to the manufacturers’ directions.

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As the noodles are cooking, whisk together all of the ingredients in a shallow skillet or pan. Cook over medium heat until the almond butter is completely melted and the sauce is smooth. If the sauce is too thick, add in another 1/2 cup of chicken stock to thin out. Adjust spice accordingly. Turn off the heat.

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In a large bowl, place the drained noodles and mix in the almond butter sauce. Sprinkle with cilantro leaves and serve immediately.

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(Bowie really liked the shrimp version I made of this recipe a few months back.)

Pancake Haus

hobaklede

Hobak Jeon 
Korean Zucchini Pancakes
Recipe adapted from Insanity Theory
Yields about 6 pancakes

INGREDIENTS
1 ea. zucchini and yellow squash
2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 ea. medium onion, peeled and minced
2 cups AP flour
2 large eggs
2 cups water
Salt and pepper, to taste

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METHOD
Cut off the ends of the yellow squash and zucchini, and then slice into 1/4-inch rounds. Then julienne the rounds.

Toss the squash with the salt, and then place into a bowl for about 30 minutes to drain out the water from the squash.

While you’re waiting for the squash to soften, beat the eggs together till combine. Slowly add in the flour and whisk till incorporated. Then add in the water slowly to thin out. You want the mixture to resemble pancake batter. Add in more water or flour accordingly.

Place the shredded squash into a kitchen towel or cloth, and squeeze out the excess water. Add the squash into the batter, discarding the water. Add in the minced onion.

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Heat a cast-iron skillet or non-stick frying pan with a tablespoon of olive oil over medium-low heat. Once the oil starts to haze, add in a scoopful (I used a 1/2 cup) of the pancake batter to the pan. Swirl the pan to evenly coat.

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Cook the pancake till light brown on one side (about 2-5 minutes, depending on your pan), then carefully flip over using a spatula and finish cooking, about 1-2 minutes. Transfer the cooked pancake onto a paper towel-lined plate, then repeat till all batter is used. Reapply oil as needed. Serve with hot dipping sauce. (I mixed 1 part Sambal 1/2 part soy sauce.)

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Groceries

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The second part of Liz’s spiritual journey of self-discovery continued in an ashram in India, where she meets pivotal characters like Richard from Texas. The meals were simple, but I thought something as comforting as a big bowl of yummy butter chicken and rice with fresh homemade naan would be the perfect meal. (Especially right now, since it’s been cold and raining here in Portland for the past week.)

praybutterchixLEAD

Butter Chicken
Recipe slightly adapted from Foodess
Serves 2-4

INGREDIENTS
FOR THE MARINADE (do a day ahead)
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1- to 2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 tablespoon oil

FOR THE SAUCE
2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
1 cup small diced white onions
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
2 tablespoons garam masala
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 can diced (no salt added) tomatoes
1 cup milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

GARNISH
1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
3 cups cooked basmati, brown or jasmine rice

SERVE WITH
Homemade Naan (recipe HERE)

METHOD
FOR THE MARINADE
Place all ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and thoroughly combine with a spoon. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.

FOR THE SAUCE
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the onions, cooking till tender. About 20-25 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for about a minute. Add the spices and salt, tossing to coat the onions. Cook for five minutes. Add the tomatoes, milk and butter. Bring to a boil and then allow to simmer for 1 hour. Turn off the heat and allow to cool. Cover and place in the refrigerator overnight.

(Cook’s Note: I do this step overnight because I feel that the flavors develop even more after a day.)

The next day: Drain the excess oil from marinade and set aside. Return the sauce to the stove and reheat till boiling. Lower the heat to a gentle simmer and add the chicken, slowly stirring to cook. Add the cilantro. Cook for about 10 minutes (or until done). Turn off the heat and serve.

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

BReaking BRead

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This delicious bread is best served with THIS recipe for Indian Butter Chicken.

Homemade Naan
Recipe slightly adapted from Baking Steel
Yields 4 pieces

INGREDIENTS
3/4 cup lukewarm water
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt

METHOD
Preheat your oven to 425º F degrees. In a medium bowl sprinkle yeast over the lukewarm water, then sprinkle sugar on top. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes or until foamy.

Whisk in the olive oil and yogurt. Add the flour and salt, mixing till combined.

(Cook’s note: Dough will be rather wet and sticky. That’s OK.)

Cover the bowl with a damp side towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm spot in your kitchen. Allow the dough to rise until doubled in size, about 1 to 2 hours, depending on how warm your kitchen is. About 30 minutes before baking, place a baking steel (if you have one) or cast-iron skillet into the oven to heat the pan.

Put some flour on your hands and turn dough out onto a well-floured work surface, sprinkling the dough with the flour as you work with it. Divide the dough into 4 equal-sized pieces. The dough will be rather sticky, so attempt to work the dough as minimally as possible, using as much flour as needed to keep it from sticking to your hands. Shape each section into a ball and let rest for about 20 minutes before shaping. Cover the dough balls with a damp towel.

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To shape the dough, use your hands to gently stretch the dough, lightly pulling the edges to stretch evenly, using all of your fingers to elongate it. Wet your fingers and lightly rub the surface of the dough with a bit of water. Using an oven mitt, remove your cast-iron skillet from the oven and then gently place the dough (water rubbed side down) onto it. Bake for 3-4 minutes. Using a pair of tongs, check to see if the side has gotten golden brown, if so, flip it over and bake for another 2 minutes. Remove from the oven and repeat the process with remaining pieces of dough.

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Nooks and Jammies

englishlead
As a child of the ’80s, I can recall watching some of the best commercials like it was just yesterday. Remember this one? Thomas’ English Muffins were a breakfast mainstay when I was a kid. The “nooks and crannies” are key–they’re like little pools collecting all the butter and jam or whatever you put on the bread.

I’m a breakfast person but I’m always on the go in the mornings, so it’s sometimes difficult to have a decent breakfast before I start my day. Making these homemade English muffins ahead of time is a great option when you’re on-the-go like me. And the best part is, you can top them with whatever butter, jam, or spread you like. Or you can make your very own breakfast sandwiches. Endless options, really.

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Homemade English Muffins
Recipe slightly adapted from The Woks of Life
Yields 14 muffins or 7 sandwich-size muffins

INGREDIENTS
3 2/3 cups flour, plus more for kneading
1 envelope active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup lukewarm water
2/3 cup plain yogurt
semolina flour, for sprinkling
canola oil, for frying

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METHOD

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, yeast and salt. Add water and yogurt, and mix into a soft dough. Knead the mixture for about 10 minutes, until smooth, adding more flour if it gets too sticky. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes.

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Roll out the dough to a thickness of about ¾ inch. Cut out 14 circles with a 3-inch round cutter (I used a Mason jar lid). Sprinkle a sheet tray with semolina. Cover the portioned muffins with a damp towel and allow the dough to rise in a warm place for about 2 hours, or until almost doubled in size.

For sandwich-size muffins (like the ones pictured above)  pair up the muffins and stick them together my pinching the side creases with the tips of your fingers to create a seam for one large muffin. Repeat this process for as many larger-size muffins you want to make.
(Cook’s note: I do this step after the muffins have been proofed because the slight separation of the two muffin halves post-proofing makes it super easy to cut them in half at serving.) 

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Heat a flat griddle pan to medium-high heat and brush with oil. Add the muffins and cook for 6 minutes, three minutes per side, till golden brown. Once both sides have been seared, transfer to a sheet tray and finish in the oven for about 3-6 minutes. Serve with butter, jam and coffee.

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Fat Stacks

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I dream of pancakes. Literally. I dream of all flavors: buttermilk, blueberry, chocolate chip, Bananas Foster, peanut butter and jelly, bacon-maple. I can totally emulate Bubba Blue from Forrest Gump and name off more combinations, but I’m sure you get the picture. I woke up one morning with the instant craving for oatmeal pancakes. Oatmeal is always in my pantry. And because I love me some strawberries (and they’re perfectly in season right now) I topped ’em with a strawberry compote.

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Oatmeal Pancakes
Recipe slightly adapted from The Flour Sack
Yields 4 pancakes

FOR THE WET INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup old-fashioned strawberries n’ cream oats
1/2 cup water
Pinch of kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted (plus extra for the pan)
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 tablespoon honey
1 egg
1/2 cup strawberries, quartered (larger ones cut into 1/8ths)

FOR THE DRY INGREDIENTS
1/4 cup old-fashioned strawberries n’ cream oats
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

METHOD
Prepare the wet ingredients. Place the oats with water and a pinch of salt in a small bowl and microwave for 60 seconds or until cooked. In the same bowl, add the melted (but slightly cooled) butter, milk, honey and egg. Mix till well incorporated.

Prepare the dry ingredients. In a medium-sized bowl whisk all of the dry ingredients together. Using a rubber spatula, slowly and gently fold in the WET ingredients into the DRY ingredients. I always get asked by friends why their pancakes are always flat. The trick here is not to over-mix the batter. It’s perfectly OK to have flour clumps in the batter, you want a thick consistency. Get it? Got it? Good!

Heat a cast-iron skillet or non-stick pan over medium heat, butter the pan and when hot, use a 1/4 cup to scoop the batter and pour into the pan. Because there is a fair amount of oatmeal clumps in the batter, it may be hard to see the tiny bubbles that form on the sides of the pancake, indicating it’s ready to turn over. In this case, using a spatula gently lift the pancake and check to see if it’s golden brown and “flippable.” If you’re forcing the spatula on the pan to scrape it out, stop. Leave it be for another minute or two. When you start to see the bubbles start to form, sprinkle a small handful of the fresh strawberries onto the pancake. Then when the pancake gets to a golden brown color, flip it onto the side. This should take a total of 5 minutes. Watch your heat, though, to avoid burning the pancake. Continue scooping 1/4 cups of batter into the butter-greased pan till all batter has been cooked off.

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Strawberry Compote
Recipe slightly adapted from Food & Wine
Yields 3 1/2 cups

1 pint strawberries, hulled and quartered
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Place all of your ingredients in a medium-size saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean and serve warm.

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