Sunday, January 27, 2013

Meyer Lemon Cupcakes with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

This cupcake has a very sophisticated flavor...nice to serve when you want something fun but different.  The brown butter in the frosting gives it a nice nuttiness that you can't really get any other way.  And the Meyer lemon is a more subtle, more floral citrus than a regular lemon.  Really lovely.

Makes about 18 cupcakes

1 cup neutral oil (I used sunflower)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup fresh meyer lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated meyer lemon zest
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup sour cream

1.  Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.  Set aside.
2.  With an electric mixer, mix sugar and eggs over medium-high speed until light in color.
3.  Add oil, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla.  Mix until well blended.
4.  Add half of flour mixture then half of sour cream.  Mix.
5.  Add rest of flour and rest of sour cream.  Mix just until batter is uniformly mixed.
6.  Bake in lined muffin tins in a 325 over for about 25 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.
7.  Cool and prepare frosting.

Frosting:
1 stick unsalted butter
1 bar cream cheese
1 tsp. meyer lemon zest
2 1/2 cups sugar

1.  Heat butter in a small saucepan until melted.
2.  Once butter starts to bubble, swirl butter around until you get brown butter bits at the bottom of the pan.  These are the milk solids in the butter.  Be careful not to burn the butter!
3.  Cool the butter for a few minutes then place in the bowl of an electric mixer.
4.  Add in the cream cheese and mix on medium-high until well incorporated.
5.  Add lemon zest and sugar and beat some more until frosting is a spreadable, light, fluffy consistency.
6.  Pipe or spread on top of the cooled cupcakes.

Banana Nutella Muffins



As a fun "stocking stuffer" for Christmas, I got Son #2 (who absolutely adores the stuff) a 5 kg jar of Nutella.  Now, he has Nutella with bread, crackers, in a mug of hot milk (which I must say is hot, sweet, hazelnut-chocolate goodness), on bananas, on ice cream, on a spoon, on his fingers...anyways, you get the picture.

I had a few overripe bananas and an excess of Nutella, so this recipe was a natural product of the circumstances.

3 overripe bananas
1/2-1 cup Nutella (depends on how much you like the stuff!)
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup neutral vegetable oil (I used sunflower)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1.  Mash bananas.
2.  Add oil, eggs, sugars and vanilla.  Mix well then set aside.
3.  In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt.
4.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix with a spatula just until incorporated.
5.  Line 2 12-cup muffin pans and fill with batter about a third of the way.
6  Swirl the Nutella into the batter gently.  I found that the best way to do this was to place the Nutella in a piping bag.  Or you could use a zip lock and snip of a corner.  Faster and easier than using a spoon.
7.  Add rest of batter to fill muffin cups to about 2/3 full.  Swirl Nutella on top.
8.  Bake in a 350 over for 22-25 minutes.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Asian Baked Chicken


This is what a perfect week night dinner recipe should be...easy, inexpensive, delicious, and most of all, fast.

I adapted this recipe from here but instead of chopping the aromatics, I grate them.  Much, much quicker.  And all moms know that on week nights, every minute counts!

I marinate the chicken the night before so that I can just pop the entire thing in the oven when I get home.  But if you're using boneless chicken pieces, even just a couple of hours in the marinade is enough.

Anyway, here goes...

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1-2 tbsp grated ginger (depending on how much you like ginger!)
5-6 cloves of garlic, grated
2 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
10-12 pieces of chicken

For the chicken, I sometimes buy a whole one and have it chopped, or I use a combination of chicken pieces (like in the photo above), or I will also use boneless, skin-on thighs or breasts.  You can use skinless chicken pieces too but I find that it dries up too much before the sauce gets nicely caramelized.

And another tip: When I buy ginger, I cut them up into 2-3 inch pieces and grate as I need. I could never finish those huge pieces and used to end up throwing a lot of shriveled ginger.  Now, I always have fresh ginger on hand.  Plus, if you grate it, you don't even have to peel!  How grate (pun intended) is that?!

On to the rest of the recipe...

In an oven proof dish, mix the first 6 ingredients.  Coat chicken pieces well with the marinade and leave for 12-24 hours in the fridge.  When you're ready to cook, take the chicken out about an hour before to let it come as close to room temperature as possible.  Bake in a 475 degree oven for 30-45 minutes.  Baking time will largely depend on what pieces you decide to use and whether you use bone-in or boneless chicken.  If you don't get that nice crust on top and the chicken is already done, turn on the broiler for a few minutes.  Watch closely because the sugar in the marinade will cause it to burn quickly.

Serve with lots of white rice to sop up all the sticky, sweet, savory sauce.

Chili Mushrooms and Tofu




Stir frying is one of my favorite cooking techniques. It's quick and always produces such excellent results. There are a few things to keep in mind when stir frying though. First, have a HOT pan. Second, have dry ingredients. These two factors will contribute greatly to the success of the dish. Third, make sure the ingredients are cut in relatively small pieces. They will need to cook in a very short period of time so size is important. Fourth, work quickly. Mise en place is especially important when stir-frying. And last, serve the food while it's hot. They Cantonese have a term for the aroma that comes from freshly stir-fried food..it's called wok hay, a concept I came to know through one of my favorite cookbooks.

1 bag pre-fried tofu squares (any Chinese grocery should have this)
1 cup sliced mushrooms (I used king oyster)
2 stalks green onions, sliced
2 tsp. chopped garlic
2 tbsp. XO sauce ("bits" and oil)
3 tbsp. oyster sauce
3 tbsp. sweet chili sauce
2 tbsp. bland cooking oil with a high smoke point (e.g. peanut, safflower, etc)
few drops of sesame oil

1. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a pan until very hot. Stir-fry garlic and green onions.
2. Add mushrooms and all the sauces. Stir-fry for a minute or two.
3. Add the tofu. Mix until all the tofu pieces are coated with the sauce.
4. Sprinkle a few drops of sesame oil. Stir a few times.
5. Done!

Braised short ribs

I found this recipe from Anne Burrell and was intrigued by the fact the the mire poix in her recipe is not chopped but pureed.  Plus, she also asks you to from a crud.  Now any recipe with the word crud is certainly worth trying!

Here's the recipe

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/anne-burrell/braised-short-ribs-recipe/index.html

And here's my finished product:





I have to say, crud makes for very good short ribs!

Sweet and sour meat balls

Once in a while, I like to pretend I'm on Iron Chef or Chopped :)

I had more beef patties left over after I made this so I checked my pantry and looked at what I wanted to finish off.  I found half a bottle of teriyaki sauce, 1/3 bottle of banana catsup, 1 can of mandarin orange slices in syrup and these: packets of ketchup and chili sauce from previous take out and delivery meals:

So I divided up the beef patties into meat balls and stuck them in a 450 degree oven for 20 minutes to brown.  Into a sauce pan went the teriyaki sauce, banana catsup, the entire can of oranges with the syrup, 1/2 cup of water, 1 tsp of garlic powder, 1 diced onion, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds, several packets of tomato ketchup, and several packets of chili sauce.

I simmered the sauce for a few minutes then threw in the browned meat balls.  Simmered again for 15 minutes or so until all the flavors came together and the sauce thickened up to just the right consistency.

Success!  I love it when I'm able to put a dish together on the fly, made with ingredients just sitting in the pantry.  And using up the chili sauce and ketchup packets cluttering my kitchen...that was the best part :)

Burger steak

We had a barbeque a couple of days ago and I set up a burger bar here at home.  Chili, sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions, 3 kinds of pickles, the works.  Of course, true to Filipino form, I bought too much food and now had to contend with lots and lots of burger patties in the fridge.  It's a good thing Son #1 absolutely loves, and I mean LOVES, burger steak.

6 large beef patties (got mine from Costco so they were gigantic) or 12 smaller ones
1 can low-sodium Campbell's cream of mushroom soup
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 large onion, sliced into rings
steak seasoning
1 tbsp. whole grain mustard

1.  In a large pan, brown patties well on both sides.  They don't have to be cooked all the way through, but a nice brown crust is essential.
2.  In the same pan, saute the onions and mushrooms.
3.  Add the mushroom soup.  Fill the can with water and pour that in as well.
4.  Mix in the mustard and season with steak seasoning (alternatively you could use liquid seasoning, worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, beef bouillon, or even just salt and pepper).
5.  Place the patties back into the pan, partially submerging them in the sauce.
6.  Cover and simmer over low heat for 10-15 minutes until beef is cooked through.
7.  Uncover and continue to simmer until sauce thickens a bit.  Adjust seasoning to taste.

Son #1, this is for you :)