Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Blueberry Bundt Cake


This is a bit of a late post but behold my first bake of the year! Melissa Clark's blueberry bundt cake from the New York times. The cake was pretty dense but moist and the glaze was awesome. I felt like I was glazing a donut/doughnut (not that I've done that before).

It's a great cake if you have blueberries that are just getting a little too ripe because you cook them down for the glaze. In a pinch, you can always use frozen berries. And it's a huge cake so it'll last you the entire week! Make sure you use a bundt pan that's large enough, or use two loaf pans.

Blueberry Bundt Cake
Serves 10-12

3 1/2 cups (450g) all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup (225g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups (300g) granulated sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract or bourbon or brandy
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp nutmeg (optional)
1 tsp lemon zest (optional)
1/2 cup (120mil) sour cream
1/2 cup (120 mil) whole milk
2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)

1/2 cup blueberries
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 cups (245g) confectioners/powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Thoroughly brush the bundt pan with butter and then sprinkle sugar throughout, tapping out the access.

In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. 

Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, thoroughly mixing between eggs. Beat in the extracts/alcohol/nutmeg/zest in whatever increments you are using them in.

Add half the flour mixture, then the sour cream, then half the flour mixture and then the milk. Make sure you don't over beat. Remove bowl and use a spatula to fold in blueberries. Scrape into pan(s).

Bake for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean or with a few crumbs clinging - just make sure it's not wet. Take care not to overbake. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes, then unmold carefully and cool completely.

In the meantime, cook berries with lemon juice until berries burst. Use a fork to smush into a jam. At this point, you can strain it for a perfectly smooth glaze but I like it "rustic" with some of the skin. Stir in the sugar to make a thick but pour-able glaze. If it seems too thick, stir in a bit more lemon juice or some milk.

Pour glaze over cake and let set 30 minutes before serving.

Optional replacements: any increment of vanilla extract, almond extract, bourbon and brandy to make 2.5 tsp total. Yogurt or buttermilk to replace sour cream or whole milk.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Chirashi & Sushi Rice

 


I don't know why it's been so long since I've made sushi rice. Like 12+ years. I remember making it once with my ex and it was SO CUMBERSOME. Maybe I was just younger and a more inexperienced cook back then. Or maybe we were trying to make it too authentically ... as opposed to this time, where I didn't care if a few grains of my rice were broken.

We had gotten amazing scallops from Lux Seafood so I went to the Japanese market and also got a block of chutoro and yellowtail (from Japan). Assembling our own chirashi bowls was super quick!

Sushi Rice
Makes 2 "rice cooker cups" (enough for approx 2-3 people)

2 "rice cooker cups" short grain rice
4 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp kosher salt

I use a Tatung rice cooker (the best rice cooker ever IMHO). Measure two rice cooker cups of rice, add water to the 2-line in the rice pot and add water to the rice cooker at the 2-measure on the rice cooker cup. If you're making regular rice, just make sure it's a bit drier than usual since you will be adding liquid to the rice ... more of a 1:1 ratio of water to rice. Soak for 30 minutes before cooking.

While the rice is cooking, combine the vinegar, sugar and salt in a measuring cup. Microwave for 30 seconds and then stir until the sugar and salt dissolve. Set aside to cool.

When the rice is steamed, spread it out while hot on a parchment lined baking sheet. Pour the sushi vinegar all over the rice and then use a paddle to "cut through and flip" the rice in order to even distribute the sushi vinegar. Fan the rice simultaneously to cool it down and encourage the rice to soak up the sushi vinegar but not get mushy - you may want to get someone to assist you with the fanning. Stop when the sushi vinegar is soaked up and the rice looks shiny.

Definitely click on the Just One Cookbook link to get a more thorough photo-demonstration. It's also more authentic to add konbu to the rice but we didn't have the time for that.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Ssamjang

 



Instead of going out for Korean BBQ (which is not do-able right now anyways, because COVID), consider making your own Korean BBQ at home! There's definitely convenience to going out because of all the banchan (the side dishes, my favorite part) ... but at home it's a fraction of the price.

All you need is steamed rice, romaine lettuce or red leaf lettuce, sliced green onions and some roasted sesame oil with sea salt mixed in. Your choice of meat - in the refrigerated section of Asian markets, you'll find a lot of sliced meats, mainly for shabu. Look for thicker sliced pieces meant for grilling, about 1/8" thick. The above photo is pork jowl (my favorite cut) but you can also use short rib, which is common at KBBQ. If you go to a Korean market, you'll also find marinated meats and bulgogi, which also work with the above.

As for banchan, you'll also find them readily available at Korean markets. I made the steamed egg custard above when I made the rice, but you can buy a ton of items pre-made. And of course kimchi (we were out and M didn't like the brands at the market we went to).

And you'll want ssamjang - this is totally optional but it ties everything together.


Eat in any combination you like but I like bites with a bit of everything on it - lettuce topped with rice, ssamjang, green onion, meat and maybe a bit of banchan. It's totally up to you!

Ssamjang
Approx 1 cup

1 green onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, grated
1/3 cup dwengjang (Korean soybean paste - NOT miso)
3.5 Tbsp gochujang (Korean chili paste)
2.25 Tbsp mirin
2.5 tsp roasted sesame oil
2 Tbsp white sesame seeds

Mix everything together thoroughly. Use to taste, it's salty and full of flavor!

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Hong Kong Oxtail Borscht

 
There's Russian borscht with beets and Hong Kong borscht with beef/tomato/cabbage. I abhor the first and love the second. My old co-worker used to try to get me to eat the Russian borscht whenever she brought some in for lunch and I always refused.


However, I find HKB very comforting. Sometimes they give out little cups of it at Hong Kong cafes, though those are mainly broth and a few wisps of cabbage. If you were truly lucky, you'd get a random tiiiiiinnnyyyyyy slice of beef.


No matter how much I've scaled this recipe down, it is a COMMITMENT. Like, soup for 8-12 people, depeding on if it's eaten as a meal or as a side. Considering how much time is spent preparing it though ... makes sense to make a lot.

Hong Kong Oxtail Borscht
Adapted from Christine's Recipes
Serves 8-12

Large pot boiling water for blanching
Approx 5 lbs oxtail (can use strips beef brisket or beef bones for soup)
1 can beef broth (approx 2 cups or 500ml)
10 cups water

2 Tbsp olive oil
3 stalks celery, 1/4 sliced
3 medium red potatoes, 1/2" cubed
1 onion, 1/2" diced
3 tomatoes, 1/4" diced
1 carrot, sliced into coins
1/2 head small cabbage, 1/2" cubed
2 cloves garlic, chopped
10 to 15 white peppercorns
3 bay leaves
3 Tbsp tomato paste
Zest from 1 lemon
Lemon juice/zest, sugar, kosher salt, white pepper to taste

Heat a large pot of water over high heat. Once boiling, blanch oxtails (or whatever beef you're using) in boiling water for approximately 3 minutes to remove blood and impurities. Let cool slightly and trim any fat away from the meat.

In the largest pot you have (and I mean largest), combine oxtails, beef broth and 10 cups water. Bring to a boil and then lower heat and simmer for 90 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté garlic until aromatic. Add onion and cook until translucent, approx 5 minutes. Add celery and cook for another 3 minutes. Add the rest of the vegetables and sauté until softened, approx 15-20 minutes.

After the 90 minutes, combine all the vegetables into the stock. Add tomato paste, whole white peppercorns and bay leaves. You can tie the peppercorns into a cheesecloth for easy removal, if desired. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for another 60 minutes.

Grate lemon zest into the soup. Season well with kosher salt, sugar, white pepper and lemon juice to taste.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Split Pea Soup (the best!)


Split pea soup might not be the sexiest of soups but it's the one you want to crawl into bed with on a cold, cold winter night. You know, winter in Los Angeles and the "cold snap" of this week - high of 65degreesF, low of 42degreesF. SO CRAZY COMPARED TO THE REST OF THE MIDWEST OR EAST COAST. Hey, we pay a "weather tax" for this glorious-ness.

Split Pea Soup
Serves 6
Adapted from Ina Garten

1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
Glug of good olive oil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 cups medium-diced carrots
1 cup medium-diced red boiling potatoes, unpeeled
1 pound dried split green peas, rinsed
8 cups chicken stock (low sodium if possible)

In a large stockpot on medium heat, saute the onions and garlic with the olive oil, dried oregano, salt, and pepper until the onions are translucent, approx 5-7 minutes. Add the carrots, red potatoes, split peas, and chicken stock.

Bring to a boil, then skim off all the foam that rises to the top. Place a wooden spoon across the top of the pot to keep it from boiling over (I have no idea why this works). Simmer uncovered for approximately 1 1/2 hours. Stir frequently to keep the solids from burning on the bottom – really don’t ignore this step! It'll look super watery at first but as it cooks it gets super thick and creamy. 

Taste for salt and pepper. Serve hot.