Thursday, October 29, 2009

Dulce de Leche

My name is Angelica and I am a Restaurant City addict.
The first thing i do every morning is log onto facebook and RC to retrieve my daily ingredient and answer the daily food quiz. After i finish buying ingredients and upgrading my dishes, i let my computer rest for a while before i come back from class to run my restaurant until i go to bed. Yes. That's everyday. And until i finish leveling off 50% of the dishes, i won't be quitting anytime soon. The reason I brought up Restaurant City is because a few days ago i got a question about dulce de leche which reminded me of the post i never published. Here it is:
Q: Dulce de leche is prepared by heating…?

Ideas, anyone? If i haven't made dulce de leche before, it would have probably taken me 5 seconds to pick an answer. But thanks to my south american roots and past baking experiences, i was able to choose Sweetened Condensed Milk in less than a blink. Amazing, isn't it! Who would've known something so delicious required nothing but a few hours of boiling? To think that I could have satiated my dulce de leche crave years ago... grrrr! For those wondering what dulce de leche tastes like, it's similar to normal caramel but with a much creamier flavor. They can be baked in muffins, frosted on cupcakes, rolled in croissants, or simply served on toast. I, for the most part, just eat it straight from the jar :P Anyways, I hope you enjoy this... it's not everyday you come across a one-ingredient post! With that being said, I am off to Restaurant City.

Dulce de Leche
from Baking Obsession
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk

  1. Place the can of condensed milk into a pot of water and bring it to a boil [picture 1].
  2. Once the water has boiled, bring it down to low heat and continue boiling for 2 and a half hours.
  3. Check on the water every 30 - 45 minutes to make sure there is enough water in the pot. The can has to be submerged all the time.
  4. After 2 and a half hours, let the cans cool completely in cold water [don't open when it's hot or it might explode!]
  5. Store at room temperature. Refridgerate once the cans are opened [picture 2].

    My Restaurant City!!
    sorry, I just had to post this up XD

Monday, October 26, 2009

Samgyetang (Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup)

Another chicken soup and another Korean recipe! I just can't ever get sick of either :) This is a recipe perfect for the constipated weather in POZ right now-- freezing cold and drizzling! Ughhh, it's like, please SNOW already... i would much rather walk to class in snow than to prance around the sidewalk avoiding puddles. Anyone feel the same way? Rainy weather just makes this city even more depressing... i wish a snow storm can just secretly invade tonight so i'll wake up to a winter wonderland. At least there will be a better scenery from my window :( But then again, snow in October is a bit too soon... so i think i'll shut up and stop asking God to speed up global warming. So back to my chicken soup- this one is even more benificiary to the body than the others i have posted. Why? cuz it's stewed with chinese medicine! Yep, with both of my parents being traditional chinese medicine doctors, growing up as a kid, i've had more than my share of herbs, grass, antlers, tiger bones, and all that good stuff. It sounds crazy, i know, but in some weird way they have kept me away from hospital/clinics my whole life. I even owe my taller-than-the-average-Asian height to Chinese medicine. With my parents measuring 156cm and 170cm, it's an anomaly that i passed the 160cm mark, hahaha. So if i do successfully become a doctor someday, there is no way i'm feeding my kids any of the chemically engineered, lab-rat tested pills unless it's absolutely necessary. I'm sending them to live with their grandparents until they've past puberty, LOL, jk jk. So if you're thinking about making some chicken soup to warm up the crummy weather, try adding ginseng and have your body revitalized for this early winter.

Samgyetang (Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup)
from Terri of A Daily Obsession
  • 1 large chicken (1.5 -2kg)
  • 1 bulb garlic, unpeeled
  • 3 small pieces dried ginseng root, soaked
  • 10 pieces red dates, soaked
  • 2 thin slices fresh ginger
  • 8 to 10 dried chestnuts
  • 1 cup uncooked glutinous rice, washed & soaked 1/2 hour
  • Spring onions, chopped (for garnish)

  1. Prepare all ingredients [picture 1]. Do not trim too much skin off the chicken's neck and tail end because you want some covering for the stuffing.
  2. Put 1 ginseng root into the neck cavity of the bird to stop the rice from coming out, then some (drained) rice, 2 or 3 red dates, rice again till cavity is almost 3/4 full [picture 2].
  3. Using a wooden skewer or chopsticks, sew up the cavity (rice coming out means you didn't do a good job) .
  4. Boil water in a table-presentable pot, such as Corningware or some cast iron pot. Put the chicken in, carefully, thigh -side up, and add enough water to just cover the chicken. Not too much water or too big a pot or the soup will be too diluted [picture 3].
  5. Add everything else, cover and simmer at least 1 1/2 hours or till chicken is so soft the thighs come off easily, but not so soft the meat has come off.
  6. When you check on it once in a while, move the chicken so the bottom won't stick. Skim off the oil. Soup would be cloudy-white, not due to the rice but the other ingredients [picture 4].

    It's better to leave the soup unsalted as salt may ruin the medicinal purposes of the roots. When serving, have a small saucer of salt and pepper at the side which will be the dip for the chicken.

Samgyetang (Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Vietnamese Chicken Pho

The October 2009 Daring Cooks’ challenge was brought to us by Jaden of the blog Steamy Kitchen. The recipes are from her new cookbook, The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook.

Oh no, I'm late for the challenge....AGAIN. And to make things worse, I only got to complete half of October challenge :( I really wanted to make the dessert wontons but I just didn't have time to get wrappers from the Asian grocery store which is a bit far from my dorm. On top of that, we've got a lot of clinical rotations this school year... which means i have finals EVERY Friday. Seriously... forget Mondays, Thursdays are the real beeches of the week! Gahhh, I hope they don't kick me out of the Daring kitchen with this half-ass post... I tried :'( But despite my tardy post, I really enjoyed making/eating this month's challenge! The recipe was straight-forward and simple... and there's nothing I love more than noodle soups! JLo especially loved it cuz 1) it reminded him of the vietnamese food he used to have in the states and 2) cuz there were chicken breasts! LOL, JLo got me so sick of them since that's all he would eat for his work-out diet. This was the first time in MONTHS since I had chicken breasts in my fridge... but the soup still turned out delicious even for a hater like me. Can't wait for next month's challenge, yayyy!

I posted up the simplified Chicken Pho recipe below but used Jaden's original Chicken Pho recipe which can be found on her website.

Vietnamese Chicken Pho (Pho Ga)
  • For the Chicken Pho Broth:
  • 2 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 2 quarts (2 liters/8 cups/64 fluid ounces) store-bought or homemade chicken stock
  • 1 whole chicken breast (bone in or boneless)
  • ½ onion
  • 1 3-inch (7.5 cm) chunk of ginger, sliced and smashed with side of knife
  • 1 to 2 tbsps. sugar
  • 1 to 2 tbsps. fish sauce

  • 1 lb. (500 grams/16 ounces) dried rice noodles (about ¼ inch/6 mm wide)

  • Accompaniments:
  • 2 cups (200 grams/7 ounces) bean sprouts, washed and tails pinched off (couldn't find bean sprouts at the grocery store so I went with spinach instead)
  • Fresh cilantro (coriander) tops (leaves and tender stems)
  • ½ cup (50 grams/approx. 2 ounces) shaved red onions
  • ½ lime, cut into 4 wedges
  • Sriracha chili sauce
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Sliced fresh chili peppers of your choice
  1. To make the Chicken Pho Broth: heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds, cloves and star anise and toast until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Immediately spoon out the spices to avoid burning [picture 2].
  2. In a large pot, add all the chicken broth ingredients (including the toasted spices) and bring to a boil [picture 4].
  3. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes, skimming the surface frequently.
  4. Use tongs to remove the chicken breasts and shred the meat with your fingers [picture 6], discarding the bone if you have used bone-in breasts.
  5. Taste the broth and add more fish sauce or sugar, if needed. Strain the broth and discard the solids [picture 5].
  6. Prepare the noodles as per directions on the package [picture 7].
  7. Ladle the broth into bowls. Then divide the shredded chicken breast and the soft noodles evenly into each bowl.
  8. Have the accompaniments spread out on the table [picture 8]. Each person can customize their own bowl with these ingredients.
Vietnamese Chicken Pho

Monday, October 12, 2009

Homemade Tofu

I've been looking forward to sharing this post ever since JLo brought back my tofu kit that I've ordered from the states! This summer while i was in Taiwan, i spent hours on the Internet and markets looking for stores with Nigari (the coagulant used for tofu) but they either didn't have it or the ones who do were located in the middle of nowhere. Ironic how i had to get Nigari in the US when you'd think they'd be everywhere in Taiwan since we're such tofu-loving people. Sigh, 誰叫台灣那麼方便, tofu is even sold at 7-11!

So after living for 4 years in Poland, i have well adapted to life without tofu... until last year when i found out that they've started selling them at PiP! Though they are now accessible, i can only find tofu every 1 out of 8 PiP visits. You'd have to be super lucky to get that box cuz they'll probably disappear within the same afternoon they're re-stocked. A lot of people probably don't even know they sell tofu in PiP cuz they're neeeeever there! OR because certain people i know *not pointing any fingers here* would hide them at very back of the fridge, camouflaged among other soybean items... so you'd actually have to dig to find it. LOL, we're THAT desperate. So instead of holding my breath every time i head towards the soybean section, i decided it was time to make my own... and they did not disappoint! My first block went directly into my pot of miso soup :) Even though, I'll admit, its hella mah-fahn to make soymilk every time you want tofu, mah-fahn tofu is still better than no tofu at all! I'd pick 20 minutes of soymilk squeezing and sore arms over 7/8 disappointing PiP visits ANYTIME!

Homemade Tofu
  • 400g dried soybeans, soaked overnight
  • 4 liters of water
  • 2-3 teaspoons Nigari (culinary magnesium chloride)
  • 1 cheesecloth bag

  1. Drain the soaked soybeans and divide them in 4 batches. Place each soybean batch into your blender along with 1 liter of water. Let the machine run for 3 minutes each time to grind the beans well [picture 1].
  2. Strain each batch of the liquidised beans through the cheesecloth bag, and capture the liquid in a big stockpot. Each batch will take ten minutes to drain through. When all the beans are strained, twist up the cheesecloth bag and squeeze the pulp tightly to get as much liquid as you can [picture 4, 5]. [My blender comes with a filter so I just pour the soymilk into a large pot and squeezed out the remaining milk from the pulp picture 3].
  3. The liquid that was strained into the pan is now soya milk (soy milk). Bring the liquid to a boil (it will foam up), then turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir constantly, or it'll burn! [picture 6]
  4. Turn off the heat and allow the liquid to cool for 5 minutes. For best results use a sugar thermometer to check when the liquid has cooled to 80 Celsius (176 Fahrenheit).
  5. In a separate cup, take 2-3 teaspoons of nigari crystals and add them to 100ml water. Stir to dissolve [picture 7].
  6. Add the nigari solution to the soya milk and stir just ONCE [picture 8]. The liquid should immediately coagulate - split into large curds and watery whey. Leave the curds for 10-12 minutes to firm up a little [picture 9].
  7. Line your tofu kit with cheesecloth so that enough cloth is left to fold over and cover the top of the box opening [picture 10].
  8. Ladle the curds and whey into the cheesecloth and allow the whey to drain away. Cover the soymilk curd by folding the cheesecloth over the top [picture 11]. Then place the Tofu press on top.
  9. Place a weight on top of the tofu press (around 2 kgs) and let sit for 15-30 minutes [picture 12]. The longer you press, the firmer your tofu will be.
  10. Remove the weight and the Tofu press. Unwrap and carefully remove your tofu [picture 13, 14].
  11. To store tofu, place it in a container and cover with water + 2 teaspoons of salt [picture 15]. Refrigerate and use it up as soon as possible!

Homemade Tofu