Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Curry Strudel

The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.

Ever since the May challenge [Apple Strudel] was revealed, i convinced myself that i was going to sit this one out. Why? I don't particularly like my fruits cooked/baked and rolling out paper-thin dough required time I did not have (Pathology NBMEs). Sighhh, but after 25 days of looking through numerous DB's completed challenges, i just couldn't resist-- the savory strudels were the ones that won me over. So for my strudel, I stuffed it with a curry filling that was inspired by the popular Chinese pastry-- Curry Dumplings. Everything went surprisingly well during the process and i had no problems rolling out the dough. It was so soft and moist that it took almost no effort to produce that translucent flour sheet. Now i wish i've tried out this recipe earlier in the month and had the time to experiment other fillings and variations... ah well, summer is just 2 weeks away... there's always next time!

Strudel Dough
from “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers

  • 1 1/3 cups (200 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 7 tablespoons (105 ml) water, plus more if needed
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough
  • 1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar [ i used red wine vinegar]
  1. Combine the flour and salt in bowl.
  2. Mix the water, oil and vinegar in a measuring cup.
  3. Add the water/oil mixture to the flour and mix until it comes together [picture 1, 2]. You will get a soft dough. Make sure it is not too dry, add a little more water if necessary.
  4. Take the dough out of the bowl and continue kneading by hand on an unfloured work surface. Knead for about 5 minutes. Pick up the dough and throw it down hard onto your working surface occasionally [picture 3.
  5. Shape the dough into a ball and transfer it to a plate. Oil the top of the dough ball lightly. Cover the ball tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to stand for 30-90 minutes (longer is better) [picture4].
Curry Filling
  • 150g onions, chopped
  • 350g ground pork [i used ground turkey]
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon salt (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoon starch + 1 tablespoon water [or any other thickening agent]

  1. Heat a saucepan with a little olive oil and add in the onions. Saute until onions are soft [picture 1].
  2. Add in the ground pork and cook for 3 minutes [picture 2].
  3. Add curry powder, salt, sugar, soy sauce to the ground pork and cook until meat is done [picture 3].
  4. Pour in the starch water and stir until the meat mixture thickens [picture 4].
Curry Strudel

  1. It would be best if you have a work area that you can walk around on all sides like a 36 inch (90 cm) round table or a work surface of 23 x 38 inches (60 x 100 cm). Cover your working area with table cloth, dust it with flour and rub it into the fabric. Put your dough ball in the middle and roll it out as much as you can [picture 1].
  2. Pick the dough up by holding it by an edge. This way the weight of the dough and gravity can help stretching it as it hangs. Using the back of your hands to gently stretch and pull the dough. You can use your forearms to support it.
  3. The dough will become too large to hold. Put it on your work surface. Leave the thicker edge of the dough to hang over the edge of the table. Place your hands underneath the dough and stretch and pull the dough thinner using the backs of your hands. Stretch and pull the dough until it's about 2 feet (60 cm) wide and 3 feet (90 cm) long, it will be tissue-thin by this time. Cut away the thick dough around the edges with scissors. The dough is now ready to be filled.
  4. Spread about 3 tablespoons of the melted butter over the dough using your hands.
  5. Spoon the filling onto the dough and fold the short end of the dough onto the filling [picture 2]. Lift the tablecloth at the short end of the dough so that the strudel rolls onto itself [i didn't have a tablecloth so i rolled it with my hands] [picture 3, 4].
  6. Transfer the strudel to the prepared baking sheet by lifting it. Curve it into a horseshoe to fit. Tuck the ends under the strudel. Brush the top with the remaining melted butter.
  7. Bake the strudel for about 30 minutes or until it is deep golden brown.
  8. Cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Use a serrated knife and serve either warm or at room temperature. It is best on the day it is baked.

My "Colon" strudel... or so my bf says ;)

Curry Strudel

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup

I must be the worst blog keeper everrrr... either that or I just severely lack in stress-management skills :( The school year's almost over and that means more tests are coming up. I'm currently stressing over the Pathology NBMEs we're having in a 2 weeks... sigh, keeping up with school is one thing, but having to memorize the morphology and mechanisms of all the diseases taught throughout the past 2 years sounds nearly impossible right now. And with so many little quizzes here and there, i just can't find the right time to start studying for the NBMEs, ARGHHHHHHHHHHH. But anyways, here's a wayyyyy overdue blog post for Taiwanese beef noodles that has been requested by Aisha about... a month ago O_o. You can probably find ten thousand different ways to make beef noodles online, but here's a simple throw-it-all-in-a-pot recipe from my mom. She scribbled the steps onto my recipe book the year i left for college and it has never failed me since. So enjoy this post as i probably won't be updating in a while, tata!

Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup
from MamaC
  • 1 kilogram beef (ones with tendon are the best choice)
  • Water, enough to cover the beef
  • 7 slices of ginger
  • 5 garlic cloves, smashed
  • Red chili peppers, chopped (to taste)
  • 1 Chinese spice pouch (or 1-2 tablespoon 5 spice powder)
  • 1/3 - 1/2 cup soy sauce (to taste)
  • 3 - 4 tablespoon black bean sauce (to taste)
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons brown sugar (to taste)
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced (optional)
  • 1 medium white radish (daikon), diced into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 medium carrots, diced into 1 inch cubes [i was too lazy to dice mine]
  • Chinese noodles
  • Spring onions, chopped (for garnish)
  • Bok choy, cooked (optional)

  1. Rinse the beef and cut them into pieces or slices [picture 1].
  2. Blanch the beef in boiling water for about 3 - 5 minutes, strain, and wash off the dirty foam from the beef [picture 2].
  3. Bring water, ginger, garlic, red chili peppers, and spice pouch/five-spice (do not open the pouch!!) to a boil [picture 3].
  4. Add in the beef, soy sauce, black bean sauce, and brown sugar [picture 4].
  5. Bring the soup to a boil. Turn down to low heat and let is simmer, covered, for 30 minutes - 1 hour [picture 5].
  6. After simmering, add in the tomatoes (optional), white radish, and carrots [picture 6, 7]. Continue simmering, covered, for another 30 minutes - 1 hour. Make sure the vegetables are cooked through. Season to taste with salt or other condiments.
  7. Boil and strain the noodles [picture 8]. Serve with Beef soup, bok choy (optional), and garnish with chopped spring onions.

Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup

Friday, May 15, 2009

Ricotta Gnocchi

OMG... I thought the posting date was May 15th!! If it wasn't for the comment i just got from Olga, i would've been completely oblivious of the fact that I missed the posting date or the first ever Daring COOK'S challenge...*whew* thank-you, Olga! This month's Daring Cook's challenge was to make our own Ricotta Gnocchi. I've never had gnocchi before in my life-- i always thought they were just ball-shaped pasta that didn't look too appetizing... it never crossed my mind to order/try gnocchi. I didn't know what i was missing out on until i made them myself... they were delicious! The inside turned out light and airy... nothing close to the dense pasta balls i imagined. For the sauce, I followed "culinary adventures of a new wife"'s recipe and made Gnocchi with Spinach & White Beans with half of my batch... it tasted amazing! JLo is on his special work-out diet now so he didn't have any... I gave my brother 1/3 of the gnocchis and finished the rest all by myself! XD! For the second batch, i topped them with a homemade Gorgonzola sauce with spinach and mushrooms, these tasted even better! I'll save the Gorgonzola sauce recipe for another entry since I'm running out of time... gotta post this up before I forget about it again. Till next time, everyone! Hopefully it won't take me another two weeks to update my blog...

Ricotta Gnocchi
A Daring Cook's Challenge (makes about 90 gnocchis)
  • 1 pound (454 grams/16 ounces) fresh ricotta (2 cups)
  • 2 large cold eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) unsalted butter
  • 2 or 3 fresh sage leaves, or a few pinches of freshly grated nutmeg, or a few pinches of chopped lemon zest (all optional)
  • ½ ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated (about ¼ cup very lightly packed)
  • about ¼ teaspoon salt (a little more if using kosher salt)
  • all-purpose flour for forming the gnocchi

  • Step 1 (the day before you make the gnocchi): Preparing the ricotta.
    If the ricotta is too wet, your gnocchi will not form properly. In her cookbook, Judy Rodgers recommends checking the ricotta’s wetness. To test the ricotta, take a teaspoon or so and place it on a paper towel [picture 3]. If you notice a very large ring of dampness forming around the ricotta after a minute or so, then the ricotta is too wet. To remove some of the moisture, line a sieve with cheesecloth or paper towels and place the ricotta in the sieve. Cover it and let it drain for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours in the refrigerator. Alternatively, you can wrap the ricotta carefully in cheesecloth (2 layers) and suspend it in your refrigerator for 8 to 24 hours with a bowl underneath to catch the water that’s released [picture 1, 2]. Either way, it’s recommended that you do this step the day before you plan on making the gnocchi.

  • Step 2 (the day you plan on eating the gnocchi): Making the gnocchi dough.

    1. To make great gnocchi, the ricotta has to be fairly smooth. Place the drained ricotta in a large bowl and mash it as best as you can, then press the ricotta through a strainer to smooth it out as much as possible [picture 4, 5].
    2. Add the lightly beaten eggs to the mashed ricotta [picture 6].
    3. Melt the tablespoon of butter. As it melts, add in the sage if you’re using it. If not, just melt the butter and add it to the ricotta mixture [picture 7].
    4. Add in any flavouring that you’re using (i.e., nutmeg, lemon zest, etc.). If you’re not using any particular flavouring, that’s fine.
    5. Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano and the salt [picture 8].
    6. Beat all the ingredients together very well. You should end up with a soft and fluffy batter with no streaks (everything should be mixed in very well) [picture 9. 10].
  • Step 3: Forming the gnocchi.
    1. Fill a small pot with water and bring to a boil. When it boils, salt the water generously and keep it at a simmer. You will use this water to test the first gnocchi that you make to ensure that it holds together and that your gnocchi batter isn’t too damp.
    2. In a large, shallow baking dish or on a sheet pan, make a bed of all-purpose flour that’s ½ an inch deep.
    3. With a spatula, scrape the ricotta mixture away from the sides of the bowl and form a large mass in the centre of your bowl .
    4. Using a tablespoon, scoop up about 2 to 3 teaspoons of batter and then holding the spoon at an angle, use your finger tip to gently push the ball of dough from the spoon into the bed of flour [picture 11].
    5. At this point you can either shake the dish or pan gently to ensure that the flour covers the gnocchi or use your fingers to very gently dust the gnocchi with flour. Gently pick up the gnocchi and cradle it in your hand rolling it to form it in an oval as best as you can, at no point should you squeeze it. What you’re looking for is an oval lump of sorts that’s dusted in flour and plump [picture 12, 13].
    6. To test the gnocchi, Gently place them in the simmering water. It will sink and then bob to the top. From the time that it bobs to the surface, you want to cook the gnocchi until it’s just firm. This could take 3 to 5 minutes.
    7. If your gnocchi begins to fall apart, this means that the ricotta cheese was probably still too wet. You can remedy this by beating a teaspoon of egg white into your gnocchi batter. If your gnocchi batter was fluffy but the sample comes out heavy, add a teaspoon of beaten egg to the batter and beat that in. Test a second gnocchi to ensure success.
    8. Form the rest of your gnocchi. You can put 4 to 6 gnocchi in the bed of flour at a time. But don’t overcrowd your bed of flour or you may damage your gnocchi as you coat them.
    9. Have a sheet pan ready to rest the formed gnocchi on. Line the sheet pan with wax or parchment paper and dust it with flour.
    10. You can cook the gnocchi right away, however, Judy Rodgers recommends storing them in the refrigerator for an hour prior to cooking to allow them to firm up.

  • Step 4: Cooking the gnocchi.
    1. Once the water is boiling, salt it generously.Drop the gnocchi into the water one by one. Once they float to the top, cook them for 3 to 5 minutes (as in the case with the test gnocchi) [picture 14]
    2. When the gnocchi float to the top, you can start your sauce (of your choice) while you wait for them to finish cooking.
    3. With a slotted spoon, remove the gnocchi from the boiling water [picture 15] and gently drop into your sauce of choice. Carefully roll in the sauce until coated. Serve immediately.
  • Freezing the gnocchi: If you don’t want to cook your gnocchi right away or if you don’t want to cook all of them, you can make them and freeze them. Once they are formed and resting on the flour-dusted, lined tray, place them uncovered in the freezer. Leave them for several hours to freeze. Once frozen, place them in a plastic bag. Remove the air and seal the bag. Return to the freezer. To cook frozen gnocchi, remove them from the bag and place individually on a plate or on a tray. Place in the refrigerator to thaw completely. Cook as directed for fresh gnocchi.

Ricotta Gnocchi with Spinach, Mushrooms, and Gorgonzola Sauce

Ricotta Gnocchi with Spinach and White Beans