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Back to the Mother Ship

Back to the Mother Ship

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Pho

Pho

52 weeks of cooking – Stocks and Broths There are two parts to a good Vietnamese pho, a rich flavorful stock and the toppings. Let’s start with the stock. Lots of people use the term stock and broth interchangeably, but there is a difference. My […]

Yeasted Blini

Yeasted Blini

52 weeks of baking – The Roaring 20’s

I’m a bit of a history nerd, mostly when it comes to clothing and complicated royal family trees, not so much with food. The history of food is interesting, but what people actually ate as their everyday fair, especially in the Western world, is a little boring for my creative taste buds. Looking into historical food I prefer recipes for preserving interesting cuts of meat along the lines of homesteading, raising your own animals and using every piece of it. There are some really great British programs out there on the subject, Historical Farm Series and Supersizers Eat.

This week’s baking challenge is to make something from the 1920’s, my gut reaction was to make a finger food, something for a cocktail party. Canapés became popular because they were one bite, pop it into your mouth and still have your hand free to hold your drink as you socialize. In French canapé translate as sofa, you can see how little savory bites on slices of bread can look like they are sitting on a sofa.

I made a yeasted blini as my couch, fluffy little pancakes with a hint of sour from an overnight fermentation topped with a cream cheese and goat cream, sliced cucumber, shards of hot smoked salmon and strips of pickled red onion. This makes a lot of tiny pancakes, after awhile I got tired of making them so I made them a little bigger. They work well for both sweet and savory applications, so top these with whatever you like, sour cream and macerated berries is a great option for leftovers the following day after you cocktail party.

 

Yeasted Blini

Ingredients

Sponge

  • 1/2 c water
  • 1/4 c flour
  • 1 tsp. yeast
  • 1 tsp. sugar

Batter

  • 3/4 c milk
  • 1/2 c heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1 egg yolk, save the white for later
  • 1 1/4 c flour
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • butter for cooking

Suggested toppings

  • Cream cheese, cucumber, salmon
  • Fried mushrooms
  • Parsley mayo and hard boiled egg slices
  • Caviar
  • Sour cream and jam
  • Lemon curd

Directions

Day before

  1. In a large bowl whisk the sponge ingredients together, let sit at room temperature for 1 hour until it doubles in size.
  2. Add the batter ingredients to the sponge ingredients, mix till combined. Make sure to hang on to the that egg white, you’ll use it tomorrow. Cover and refrigerate the batter over night.

Day of

  1. Let the batter sit out and come to room temperature, 1-2 hours.
  2. In a clean bowl whisk the egg white to soft peaks and gently fold into the batter.
  3. Add some butter to a large skillet on medium high heat, use a ladle to make small, very small, dollops of batter. Cook them just like pancakes, flip them when little bubbles form on the surface of the raw batter.
  4. These do not have to be served piping hot, pile on a plate and cover with a towel while you make all of them. They can sit like this for up to an hour before you serve, it will take a little bit of time to make them, specially if you make them very small.
Tortang Talong – Eggplant and Pork Omelet

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Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies and Cookie Milk Cocktail

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Basic Pizza Crust

Basic Pizza Crust

Some foods are easy to make for small groups, but when you scale them up to 75 portions it becomes tedious.

Students can be persistent and repetitive, they would always ask for grilled cheese, pizza and hamburgers, over and over. I’m not a big fan of making those dishes, they are more time consuming than you’d think when you do everything from scratch. Grilled cheese: make 10 loaves of bread, slice the bread, slice giant blocks of cheese, assemble sandwiches and grill the sandwiches on a big griddle in a poorly ventilated galley in the Caribbean. Maybe that’ll help paint a picture as to why I don’t like making grilled cheese sandwiches for 75 people, you can imagine why hamburgers are even worse. And it’s not even just 75, no starving teenager wants just one sandwich, they want another one.

Out of those three I think that pizza is the most special and easiest so I would only make it when someone would request it for their birthday… and if I liked them. When I did make it I wanted it to be a surprise, be as sneaky about it as I could be. I had a chalkboard in the galley, I’d write the day’s menu on it so I wouldn’t have to me asked 50 times a day what the coming meal was. When I would make pizza I’d put something crazy like “Rutabaga Pie” on the board, then they’d spend all day wondering what that was. The galley was down below and could be closed off from prying eyes so it was easy to make things in secret occasionally. I’d have one or two students who I knew could be trusted guard the door while I was topping the pizzas and then hide them away in the fridge until the last minute.

I really got the students good one time, they had no idea, even the students who were in the galley that day helping me with dishes were oblivious until I pulled the hot pies out of the oven. Everyone in the galley grabbed a tray and we paraded it up to the service area where everyone was waiting for dinner. Surprising people with food, seeing the joy in their face is something that I really love and teenagers always give great reactions.

Luckily I no longer cook for vast hordes of ravenous teenagers on a regular basis and I still enjoy making pizza. When I make pizza at home I have a slightly different approach, it’s more about the texture of the crust rather than making a lot of crust and a different selection of ingredients for toppings instead of just cheese and pepperoni.

Some of the toppings I went with this time, a classic margherita, sausage and mushroom, broccoli with lemon zest and pickled onions and anchovy, olive, capers and salami.

 

Basic Pizza Crust

Ingredients

  • 3 c bread flour
  • 3 c all purpose flour
  • 4 tsp. yeast
  • 2 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 2 1/4 c water

Directions

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer mix together all of the dry ingredients, stir together and shake the bowl to create a level surface. To avoid having to wash a measuring cup I press a ¼ dry measuring cup into the flour mixture to create a well the depth of the cup, then pour the oil into this well. Using a dough hook begin to mix the dough and slowly pour in the water. After the initial two cups of water let it knead for a minute and add more water if needed. You want the dough to pull away from the sides of the bowl cleaning leaving no sticky dough behind.
  2. Knead the dough in a stand mixer for a total of 5 minutes, the dough will still be a little rough, not as smooth as a traditional bread dough. The shorter kneading time creates a weaker gluten structure making the pizza crust not as chewy.
  3. Let the dough rest in a greased and covered bowl for at least 2 hours, this dough can be made the night before and left in the refrigerator, doing so will allow for a more flavorful crust. If you refrigerate the dough make sure to leave it on the counter for an hour or two before shaping.
  4. Divide the dough into two or four portions depending on how many pizzas you want to make. Roll and stretch the dough into your desired shape, round or rectangular to fill a sheet pan. If you are having trouble stretching let the dough rest for 5 minutes to relax the gluten and you’ll have an easier time manipulating it.
  5. Lightly brush the crust with olive oil, this prevents it from drying out and makes a beautiful golden brown crust. Let the dough rest while your oven preheats to 500F and you prepare your pizza toppings, at least 30 minutes.
  6. Par bake the crusts on the lowest rack of the oven at 500F for 8-12 minutes depending on the thickness, you want there to be a kiss of color on the edge of the crust and the top feels set to the touch.
  7. Once the crusts come out of the oven top them with your desired ingredients and return to the oven on a rack in the upper half of the oven for 10-15 minutes until the crust is nicely browned and the cheese melted. Let cool for 3-5 minutes, slice and serve.
Ricotta Stuffed Chicken with Black and White Gastrique

Ricotta Stuffed Chicken with Black and White Gastrique

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Chicken and Pork Pastry Rolls

Chicken and Pork Pastry Rolls

52 weeks of Baking – Geekery I have been in love with historical clothing for as long as I can remember. Simple everyday dresses to elaborate evening gowns, what’s not to love, there is something for everyone, every era has its own unique style. My […]

Red Bean Buns 2 ways

Red Bean Buns 2 ways

52 weeks of cooking – Olympics

This week’s reddit cooking challenge is to cook something for the Olympics, my first idea was for something Korean. My husband recently fell in love with Korean food so this was another great opportunity to make some and I just happened to have some red bean paste on hand.

These two red bean buns are very different in taste and texture even though they both contain the exact same filling. The steamed buns are soft and have a vanilla cake like taste, I feel I can’t put it in my mouth fast enough because of how fluffy they are. The sticky rice cakes on the other hand are chewy with small bits of crunch from the seeds and those seeds also leaned to their very toasty flavor. Sprinkling salt on the sticky cakes as soon as they come out of the pan is a must, it brings out the butter flavor and compliments their sweetness.

I also made some cinnamon and ginger tea to accompany the buns, 4 cups of water boiled for 20 minutes with 1 inch of ginger sliced thin and 2 medium cinnamon sticks. Add sugar to taste.

 

Red Bean Buns 2 ways

  • Yield: 6 steamed buns, 6 sticky rice cakes
  • Category:

Ingredients

Steamed bun dough

  • 1 3/4 - 2 c flour
  • 1 tsp. yeast
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tbsp. butter, softened
  • 3/4 c milk

Red bean filling

  • 400 g prepared red bean paste
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. brown rice syrup

Sticky rice cake dough

  • 3/4 c glutinous rice flour
  • 1/4 - 1/2 c water
  • 1/4 c toasted sesame seeds
  • butter for frying
  • salt for garnish

Directions

Steamed bun dough

  1. Mix all of the steamed bun dough ingredients together until it forms a shaggy ball. On a clean surface knead for 3-5 minutes until you have a uniform smooth ball, cover and rest for 1 hour. Make the red bean filling while you wait.
  2. Divide the dough into 6 equal portions and roll into balls. Flatten and put about 1 ½ tablespoons of red bean paste into the center. Gather the edges of the dough together to seal the filling in to make a tight ball.
  3. Line your steaming basket with a sheet of parchment paper cut into a circle with a few holes in it to allow steam through, place buns into steaming basket about 1 inch apart and let the buns rise for 30 minutes.
  4. Heat up the steaming water and place the basket in the pan, place a cloth over the lid to collect the steam so it doesn’t drip onto the buns. Turn to medium low and steam for 15 minutes. Serve warm. These freeze great, to reheat wrap in a damp paper towel and microwave for 1 minute.

Red bean filling

  1. Taste your red bean paste, add sugar to taste. Mix everything together in a small pan, cook for about 5 minutes stirring often to prevent sticking. The paste will caramelize and thicken, let cool.

Sticky rice cake dough

  1. Slowly drizzle the water into the rice flour, only add as much water is needed so there is no dry flour left. Knead the dough a few times until the texture is consistent, the dough should be soft and tacky, not runny, add more flour if needed.
  2. Divide the dough into 6 equal portions and roll into balls. Flatten and put about 1 ½ tablespoons of red bean paste into the center, pat down the paste. Gather the edges of the dough together to seal the filling in, softly pat between your hands to help seal it.
  3. Wet your fingers and tap the buns so they become slightly moist, dry your hands and press each ball into the sesame seeds flattening it into a round patty, both sides should be pressed into the seeds, shake off the excess.
  4. Heat a non stick skillet over medium heat, when hot turn down to medium low, add butter and the cakes. Cook for 3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Sprinkle with salt and serve warm.
Roasted Red Bell Pepper Soup

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