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Showing posts from 2020

Easiest Creme Brulee Ever! 1min prep, No Bake!

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  I am confident this is the easiest, quickest creme brûlée recipe of our time. At just 1-minute prep, 15-minute start-to-finish, this recipe bypasses the hour long oven baking and the overnight chilling, with no deterioration in quality. The result is a perfectly silky smooth custard, that takes no backseat to those made through the traditional method.  The gist of all the trickery: water is a better conductor of heat than air. That's why steaming on the stove top takes a fraction of the time as oven baking, and that's why chilling in an ice water bath will get your custard ready in no time. - This works on ice cream batter as well, btw. I have personally never chilled ice cream batter overnight. Waiting for dessert is unamerican.  If you've tried my 1-eggwhite-for-20 copycat Milano cookies,   and are now stuck with that extra yolk you don't know what to do with, the perfect answer is to make 2 creme brûlées! - 3 if you underfill your ramekins a little (which will make

Langue de chat (cat's tongue) - Sounds fancy, looks fancy, super easy!

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  Langue de chat ("cat's tongue") looks like something out of a fancy European bakery. These thin butter cookies have the rich flavor of a good shortbread, with a much lighter, more delicate texture, almost like the ice cream cones at a really good gelato place, that they definitely charge you extra for.   Truth is they're neither expensive nor difficult to make. In fact they're the perfect way to use up extra egg whites from other recipes, that you don't know what to with. Everyday recipes like cookies, custard, chocolate pudding, etc, often call for extra egg yolk for richness. If you're ever left with 1~3 extra egg white(s) that you feel bad wasting but just don't want to deal with, because scrambled feels too healthy and meringue feels too unhealthy, this is your perfect in-between. I'm sharing a small portion recipe that uses only 1 egg white, along with ~2tbsp of butter, flour, ground almond, and sugar. Feel free to scale up, but even this sm

Fondue for Two

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It's getting cold again. That means it's fondue season again! Swiss fondue is the ultimate winter comfort food. Usually this dish is best served with a larger group of people. That's why every fondue set you buy have so many little forks. It's such a fun social dish, I always think of it as European hot pot. Unfortunately it's social distancing season again, so I have to scale it down to, let's call it romantic dinner for two. It's boozy. It's intimate. It's great served with more booze.  Rule of thumb for cheese fondue: start with a good amount of white wine, that's about 1/3 of the weight of the cheese. For the cheese, usually it calls for a mix of 3~4 cheese, for some complexity. You're technically supposed to use alpine cheese here. A mix of Gruyere, Comte, Emmental, and Appenzeller would be lovely - but could get expensive depending on where you live.  I found that as long as you include at least one sharp, aged alpine cheese, you can us

2-Minute Panna Cotta

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    Panna cotta is perhaps the simplest fancy dessert to make at home. This Italian "cooked cream" is just sweetened cream thickened with gelatin. Like sweet cream ( fior di latte ) gelato, it celebrates dairy in the purest form and involves very few ingredients.  No eggs, no whipping, no simmering until things coat the back of a spoon. This is as easy to make as boxed jello. With a few small hacks for quick cooling, you can spend 2 minutes making it before dinner and have dessert ready after dinner!  I really prefer panna cotta made with pure cream and not milk or half & half. I make mine in 4oz mason jars. In addition to being great for portion control & easy to store, they also chill faster and set more quickly. I fill each jar up most of the way, to about 3oz, and each recipe will make 3 little jars. You have room for topping them with fruits/jam after they set, and they're easier to unmold if you prefer serving them on a plate. You'd think the serving siz

No-Lump Cacio e Pepe - Explaining Common Failures and the Fix

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  If you've been to Rome, and came back and tried this out based on the instruction you've heard from Rome, odds are you've had a couple batches that looked nothing like the creamy, smooth, luscious goodness that allegedly was achievable with just cheese and pasta water, with no cream or butter.  Nothing says "simple does not equal easy" as loudly as Cacio e Pepe. Not even the infamously temperamental soft scrambled eggs, because honestly, slightly over cooked eggs are still pretty tasty if you're not being snooty, but lumpy, unemulsified Cacio e Pepe is genuinely not enjoyable, aside from being entirely not presentable.    To avoid wasting food, I've "cheated" with butter, oil, cream, even a béchamel sauce to salvage the lumpy pasta. But a tasty mac and cheese is no Cacio e Pepe. The taste of Rome can only be achieved with the traditional simple ingredients the recipe calls for: pecorino, pepper, pasta, plus salt & water that the pasta is co

Sous Vide Duck Confit, in a Slow Cooker! No additional fat or special gadget needed!

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  As with many French classic dishes, duck confit ( confit de canard ) is an incredibly decadent treat that is unfortunately a huge hassle to make. Confit means to cure in salt & cook in its own fat (or in its literal definition, "to preserve"). Duck confit are traditionally made by curing duck legs in salt & spice and submerging them in large amount of duck fat, slow cook in fat & aromatics at below boiling temperature for extended period of time, for a soft, buttery texture. It's like oil poaching on steroid. The dish generally needs to be then chilled over night so that the falling-apart tender meat would firm up enough for that final sear, for that signature crispy skin that really makes the dish perfect.  Time consuming aside, what makes this dish borderline prohibitive for home cooking is that duck fat isn't easily accessible, and even when you can find them, they aren't cheap. Naturally this makes the sous vide method an appealing alternative. B

Make Pad Thai from Jarritos Tamarind Soda!

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  Two conundrums we've all come across at some point: missing essential ingredient for a dish that you love but don't make often enough, & trouble finishing a 2-liter soda before it goes flat. Here's to killing two birds with one stone! There is no real substitute for tamarind. Trying to make Pad Thai without tamarind is sorta like trying to make lemon tart without lemon. It's a fruit with a signature tang and its own special flavor. Tamarind pods are both tricky to find and tricky to handle. My local Whole Foods and Wegmans carry them - often sold in boxes much bigger than needed. They also can't be used straight out of the box. You'll need to soak the pods in hot water, dig your hand in and squeeze everything into a pulp, strain that through a mesh sieve, and cook it down into a paste. Worth the trouble if you make Thai food weekly, but not the easiest fix for sudden cravings.  Tamarind Soda, unlike the fruit that it's made from, is ubiquitous and inex

Fried Olives!

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    Fried. Olives. This dish requires no further selling than its name. I used to squander so much of my work-study paycheck at this snooty campus restaurant just for their fried olives. Zero regret to this day. And they didn't even use the good stuff! You can take a small jar of plain store brand pimento stuffed manzanilla olives, strain, coat in bread crumb and fry for half a minute. It'll cost you ~$2 in ingredients and maybe 5 minutes of time. Think of it, I really should regret those spending a little.  For an upgrade, I'm stuffing my favorite olive bar ingredients together: castelvetrano olives & peppadew peppers! Castelvetrano are my 'gateway' olives. As someone who took a long time to 'acquire' a taste for olives, castelvetrano was love at first try. They're mild, subtle, yet buttery & olive-y at the same time. The bright green color are just so pleasant to look at. In contrast with the green olives, in more than just the colors, peppadew

Amarena Cinnamon Black Forest Cake Roll

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Chocolate cake is a bit like pizza sauce, not hard to make tasty, but hard to make special. This is my take on black forest. This is a soft sponge that doesn't require whipping eggs. The chocolate isn't overpowering. The cake itself should have just a hint of tartness, and a hint of what's-that spice. Your friends won't quite know exactly what's in it, but they'll know it's good and it's not like the other chocolate cakes they've had. This recipe is inspired by the question - what can I do with yogurt flavors I don't love? We all know someone that doesn't love vanilla yogurt. I happen to have some cinnamon vanilla Chobani from my Costco variety pack when the question came up. I have since tested the same recipe on strawberry, raspberry, and cherry yogurt. All work very well in a chocolate cake! Just one more thing you can do with any 5oz cup of yogurt - make a healthy light dessert! Ingredients: dry ingredients: 1/2 cup all purpose flo

Tomato Tarte Tatin - Make an Already Simple Classic Even Faster!

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This is a faster way to make Tarte a la Moutarde (French Tomato and Mustard Pie). By using the tarte tatin method, you can reduce the cooking time by applying direct heat to the tomatoes, and skipping the par baking step altogether. Most importantly, it allows me to use extra tomatoes (my favorite part of the whole dish), without having to worry about soggy crust.  I'm making mine with Campari tomatoes. They are sweet and flavorful, but not sinfully expensive. I don't have the heart to cook those beautiful heirloom tomatoes. It feels like cooking sashimi cut fish. halved tomatoes retains juice well. Tomato juice will be mostly trapped between tomato skin and layer of melted Parmesan cheese. You'll have a wonderfully moist and flavorful tart that's still perfectly puffed. Ingredients: 6~8 campari tomatoes, halved 1/4 cup grated Parmesan 2 tbsp mustard 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1 tsp herbs de province 1 tsp fresh basil 1 sheet puff pastry or pie doug

Salade Nicoise - Eat Healthy, Happily!

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I'm sharing my version of salade nicoise . This hearty summer dish originates from the French city of Nice. Modern renditions commonly includes cooked eggs, green bean, potatoes, olives, all the good stuff you can think of. I'm making mine with a quick seared tuna steak, and some not-quite hard boiled eggs. This looks like a lot of ingredients, but each one takes little time to prep, and with a little multi-threading, you can easily complete this in under 15 minutes.  Obligatory disclaimer: this is not exactly traditional; will fail purity test. But it makes for a very enjoyable summertime meal. The briny olives and creamy eggs complements the tuna perfectly. The starchiness from the potatoes, freshness of the green bean, and little bite from the shallot, just all work so well together. This is one healthy dinner that won't leave you feel remotely deprived! Ingredients: for the dressing: 1 shallot, minced 1 lemon, juiced 2 tsp sugar 1 tsp dijon mustard 1

10-minute Saag Aloo (Indian-Style Spanich & Potato Curry)

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This is my take on this Indian restaurant favorite. A vibrant green vegetable curry, so flavorful even a carnivore would love it. If you follow my channel or blog you might've guessed, this is yet another, quick shortcut recipe. Get some frozen naan or roti ready and dinner will be ready in 10 minutes! Usual disclaimer: this is far from authentic, & no offense intended. I've made gnocchi with instant mashed potato mix , and soup dumpling with gelatin & pasta press . This is another one of those quick, easy, hacky fix for lazy foodies in quarantine. I'm microwaving the potato, wilting the spinach, and using jalapeno instead of whatever proper pepper I should've used but don't have easy access to. Ingredients: 4 cups spinach 3 cloves garlic, crushed 2 medium potatoes, diced 1 medium onion, chopped 1 shallot, chopped 1 green chili pepper, chopped (I'm using jalapeno) 1 tsp chopped ginger 1 tsp cumin powder 1 tsp onion salt 1/2 tsp corriand

Tofu Dango, As Seen in Anime!

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We've all seen these in anime! Dangos are chewy rice balls on skewers. They can be sweet or savory, and prepped with a variety of ingredients. Some use a combination of short grain rice flour & sticky rice flour, some use hot water & kneading, all to achieve a good balance of texture. They should be soft but hold shape, chewy but not too sticky, bouncy and slightly al dente. A shortcut to making these with minimum experience and effort is to use equal weight silken tofu and mochiko. It won't quite be the stuff you get at a Kyoto tea house, but will yield a pleasant, balanced result, without hand-kneading a steaming hot dough and trying not to get burned. The dangos themselves are not strongly flavored. They rely on sauces & toppings for flavor. Sort of like fresh homemade pasta - taste great even with the simplest seasoning, but if you don't put anything at all on it, it won't be nearly as enjoyable on its own (think unsalted pasta). If you ha

Tomato Paste Pizza Sauce on a No-Knead Dough, Easiest Margherita!

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I was gifted a case of tomato paste (6oz cans). It had me hooked on pizza for a month (and ongoing). I will probably never bother to cook down tomato sauce again for pizza sauce. This almost-instant tomato paste pizza sauce is so delightful it's unfair (given how little work went into it). It's good for margherita, tomato pie, and good old classic cheese pizza. It is embarrassingly addicting, such that I had to roll up the edge of the pizza to accommodate the extra sauce too often requested. Happy accident - this yields an extra crispy edge, like a crusty Stromboli, so good that my dog no longer gets pizza crust from the table. I'm cooking mine at a lower temperature than recommended by conventional recipes. Traditional Neapolitan pizza are cooked in 900 degree ovens, such that the dough is completely cooked before everything else is dried out. To mimic this effect, pizza recipes often call for heating the oven as high as it would go, and using a pizza stone for the

Stovetop Flan/Custard pudding

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Due to social distancing, making large portion decadent desserts no longer feels like a good idea. This is a delicate dessert that is light by nature. Flan has a silky smooth gelatin-like texture that resembles panna cotta, and a rich caramel flavor that resembles creme brulee. But unlike its fancy counterparts, flan requires no heavy cream - just plain milk will do. It is set purely by egg protein, so no gelatin & extended chilling required. When made stove top, it takes only 10 minutes to set (vs 40~60 minutes in the oven). I'm making single-serve for two (or two desserts for one if you aren't sharing). All this takes is one egg, less than a cup of milk, and a few spoonful of sugar. Very quarantine-friendly for those of us who try to avoid grocery shopping as much as possible, and don't have a lot of supplies at home. Ingredients: for the caramel: 2 tbsp sugar 1 tbsp water 1 tbsp hot water for the flan mixture: 1 egg 2/3 cup milk 2 tbsp sugar   Ins

School Lunch Cheese Sticks - You know you miss them!

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School lunch cheese sticks were such childhood favorite, I still remember them all these years later, and the fact that we apparently can't buy them easily just makes me want them more. FYI, you can apparently buy max pizza sticks from amazon in bulk - but pack of 192 is bit too much for my freezer. As much as the serving size of 2 sticks at a time in school never felt enough, baking them half a dozen at a time is plenty for my household. My recipe will make at least 6 pizza sticks, with extra dough, that you can trim and make more cheese sticks or mini pizza. Additionally, I'd like to share a few hacks for minimum-knead, easy same-day pizza dough. No sticky mess, no planning ahead required! First of all, let autolyse take care of most of the kneading for you. Resting a rough dough for at least 20 minutes will yield a dough that is softer, less sticky, and easier to knead to smooth stage, by allowing flour enzyme to work on the protein bond for you. One thing to keep i