Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Hoppin' Beans


I've been listening to the Recipe Club podcast, and finally found a website where they publish all of the recipes that they talk about! This is fantastic, because I don't have to spend a ton of time searching for everything. Recently, they talked about "Daniel Reasor's Hoppin' John" recipe, which came worked perfectly a few weeks ago during the start of June gloom.

The recipe calls for black-eyed peas so it could be eaten on New Year's Day but I've never had those before so I got pinto beans instead. Excited to maybe try it with dried beans next time.

Luckily, I got some chunk ham from Vons for a really good price; they were having a sale. The recipe definitely says that this soup lives and dies by the ham and they're right. Do not use sliced deli ham! The final product was just on the edge of salty so I've adjusted the recipe below to account for that next time.

Hoppin Beans
Adapted from Recipe Club
Serves 4

24oz canned beans (or dried beans, soaked overnight)
12oz canned diced tomatoes
3 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 cup water
12 oz ham (smoked would be good)
2 Tbps butter
3 tsp molasses
1 sweet onion
1 yellow bell pepper
1 red bell pepper

Chop ham, bell peppers and onion into 1/2" cubes. In a large sauté pan, melt the butter and then add the ham, onion and red bell pepper (save the yellow for later). Sautee on medium-high until browned and dry. You need a sauté pan instead of a pot for this, for the surface area.

Add canned tomatoes, beans, chicken stock and water. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Stir in molasses.

Cover pan and simmer for an hour, covered. Taste and add salt if needed. Stir in the yellow bell pepper and simmer covered for 20 more minutes.

Cool covered for 5 minutes and serve over rice.

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Lions Head Meatballs


I loved lion head meatballs as a child. The sauce was oftentimes thick and sweet, which provided a great component when I mixed it all into my rice. Now that I'm older, I'm also very into the napa cabbage that cooks with it as well (always napa cabbage > bok choy).

One of the recipes had a great tip to forming the meatballs, because the meat mixture is pretty soft and runny. After portioning it out (eyeballing it) into six portions, I scooped the portion out and put it into a rice bowl for formation, and then into the oil. No messy hands!

I did a shallow fry on it because I didn't want to deep fry. Am I trying to be healthier? Maybe. My friend told me that she bakes hers sometimes but I feel like the oil makes it taste better haha. Even if it's a marginal amount of oil.

I cobbled two recipes together for this recipe, and added enoki mushrooms because I had them. I think I'll make adjustments next time; the Shaoxing wine taste was strong. My mom said that just smelling the meat made her feel drunk LOL.

Lion Heat Meatballs
Adapted from Woks of Life
Adapted from Red House Spice

2 stalks scallions, chopped in 1-inch pieces
1-inch piece ginger, sliced
500g ground pork
1 Tbsp Shaoxing wine
2 Tbps light soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 large egg
1 Tbps cornstarch
60g canned water chestnuts, minced

Soak scallions and ginger in 7 Tbsp hot water, set aside to cool. After about 20 minutes, remove the ginger and scallion, set aside for the soup.

In a bowl, mix together all other ingredients, minus the water chestnuts. Stir constantly with 4 chopsticks (bundled together in your fist) in one direction. Add the scallion ginger water a little at a time while stirring, until fully absorbed. Whip together for at least 3 minutes, ideally 10 minutes. Once the meat is sticky/jiggly, add the water chestnuts.

Heat a large pan with about 1/4 inch of vegetable or canola oil (something neutral, so not olive oil). Divide the meat into six portions, shape in the bowl and add to the oil after each shaping. Fry over medium high heat until they develop a golden brown crust, and remove to a plate. Do not crowd the pan!

1 small head napa cabbage
Previously soaked ginger and scallions
6 large dried shitake mushrooms, soaked in 500 mL warm water for at least an hour
1 bunch enoki mushrooms, trimmed
1/4 tsp salt
Ground white pepper

Remove shitake mushrooms from water, squeeze out excess water into the soaking cup (you want to retain all that flavor!) and slice mushrooms.

In a large pot, layer the bottom portions of the napa cabbage. Add meatballs over the top, then the sliced mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, scallions and ginger. Season with salt and white pepper. Pour in the mushroom soaking liquid over the top, ensuring not to pour in the solid bits at the bottom of the liquid.

Bring the soup to a full boil, then turn the heat to low. Cover with a lid and simmer for 15 minutes, then remove the cover and put the leafy part of the napa cabbage over the top. Continue simmering for 5 more minutes, then stir to submerge whatever possible in the soup. Simmer for 5 more minutes, then garnish with finely chopped scallions and serve! Warm rice is a must.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Three Cup Mushrooms


Every time I get take-out pho now (cause we're still in this pandemic, guys - get vaccinated please), I always have a bunch of basil left over. But now, I just use it to make three cup mushrooms! It's a great way to use up the extra herb instead of throwing it away. And Thai basil is key; the Italian basil just doesn't give the same punch/effect.

I tried making this in a cast iron Staub and the sauce was thick and reduced, but when I tried making it in a regular pot, it just wasn't the same. The mushrooms leeched a lot of liquid - but that may also depend on the type of mushroom used? In any case, if that happens, boil vigorously at the end over medium-high until the liquid reduces.

Three Cup Mushrooms
Adapted from Rasa Malaysia

2 lbs assorted mushrooms (I've used sliced king oyster plus shimeji and baby king oyster plus shimeji - but the sliced king oyster was the one that had a lot of liquid with the pot. Must experiment)
2 Tbps dark or toasted sesame oil
1 inch chunk of sliced ginger
6 cloves peel ginger, left whole
1 Tbps soy sauce
1 1/2 Tbps dark sweet soy sauce
1 1/2 Tbps Shaoxing wine
Handful of Thai basil leaves

Heat sesame oil in a heavy bottom cast iron pot (or clay pot, ideally) over medium-high heat. Add ginger and garlic, cook until lightly golden and aromatic. Add mushrooms and mix thoroughly.

Add the rest of the liquids and mix again to comvine. Cover the lid, lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Once cooked, add the basil leaves and stir well. Serve hot with rice.

Notes: You can substitute the 2 lbs mushrooms with 1.5 lbs dark meat chicken. Cut into bite sized pieces and rub them with 1/2 tsp baking soda. Marinade for 10 minutes and then rinse off completely. Pat the chicken dry and then continue the recipe method above.

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.