Who's the Baketard?

Why Baketard? Love to cook, hate to bake. Despite having gone to cooking school and working in some top kitchens, I never learned the baking side of things. I'm building my baking and photography skills, while sharing recipes that rock my world in the mean time.

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Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup from Lorna Yee's Newlywed Kitchen Cookbook

I don’t typically love soup. To me, soup is good but having it as an evening meal usually leaves me dissatisfied and cranky unless I’m sick and ALREADY dissatisfied and cranky.

Then it feels restorative.


Right now, we’re trying to eat more at home and make healthier choices in the new year (so we look good for our vacation photos in April. (The Gays are a shallow and vain people---Well, at least THESE gays are). This soup is one of a handful of exceptions to my “Soup is unsatisfying” bias. It’s truly my favorite soup in the world. My good friend Lorna Lee made this for us years ago when she was writing her Newlywed Kitchen cookbook and we were absolutely blown away. Every time it’s cold, blustery and gray in Seattle, I want this soup. I typically make a double batch and freeze it. It reheats really well.

The adaptation I make to this recipe is that after I remove and shred the meat, I run the soup through a cheesecloth-lined chinois a couple of times to help clarify the broth and remove the impurities. I also add both fresh and dried chiles to the initial braise because I like soul-searing heat in this soup. If you can’t get bok choy, Chinese broccoli or broccolini work well.

Taiwanese beef noodle soup

Serves 2, with leftovers for the next day

In Taiwan, beef noodle soup is a vital part of the food culture, much like the hamburger is to America. Taiwanese foodies gather to seek out the best bowl of beef noodle soup in town, much like how Americans enjoy searching for the best burger in their city. Once you try this savory broth, flavored with star anise, five spice, and the addictive, slightly numbing heat of the Szechuan peppercorns, you’ll know why this dish has become an obsession for the Chinese. 


2 tbsp vegetable or peanut oil

3 lbs. bone-in beef shank or short rib, cut into four equal pieces

3 star anise (or ½ tsp ground star anise powder)

¾ tsp. Chinese five spice powder

1 ½ tsp. whole Szechuan peppercorns

8 cloves garlic, lightly smashed with the heel of your knife

5 slices of ginger, cut 1/4” thick

5 green onions, cut into 4” pieces

3 tbsp Chinese chili black bean sauce

¼ cup Chinese rice wine (Shao Tsing wine, or dry sherry)

1 small piece (about 2 tbsp worth) Chinese rock sugar, or substitute brown sugar

1/3 cup light soy sauce

2 tbsp dark soy sauce

6 cups low sodium beef broth

2 cups water

2-4 fresh, small red chilis, seeded (use 4 chilis if you like things spicy!)

For serving:

Your favorite Asian noodles, cooked and drained

Baby bok choy

2 tbsp cilantro, chopped

Chinese chili oil (optional)


In a cheesecloth, combine the star anise, peppercorns, and red chilis.

In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil until smoking on high heat. Brown the pieces of meat on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. Add the garlic, ginger, and green onions to the oil and stir until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot, including the spices bundled in the cheesecloth. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium-low and cover. Simmer for 3 ½-4 hours, until the meat is very tender.

Remove the meat from the pot, and discard the bones. Cut the meat into bite-size pieces. Strain the broth and discard the cheesecloth, ginger, scallions, and garlic.

To serve:

Cook the bok choy directly in the hot broth for 3-4 minutes, until tender. Place a portion of the cooked noodles in each bowl, and ladle the soup over top. Add some of beef shank and bok choy to the bowl, and garnish with a bit of cilantro and a bit of hot chili oil.

Enjoy, and check out lorna’s books.




A Cookbook Review - Tyler Florence: Inside the Test Kitchen

Ok, I admit it. I've been a big time slacker.  It isn't that I haven't been cooking...the past few months I've been cooking a lot of new things, putting recipes aside, and telling myself I'd get to sharing the recipes. But then something else would distract me, I'd be in a mood, whatever. I didn't get to blogging. I WILL post some recipes for some new favorites soon, I promise.

In the mean time, there was Cookbooktober. I've been gleefully up to my neck in new cookbooks. Many good, a few flops, and all of them pissing off my husband when they arrive at the front door. 

He'll get over it.

One of the books I found intriguing was Tyler Florence's new Inside the Test Kitchen book. I don't usually watch Food TV, and most of the celebrity chefs on there just don't interest me. Beginner cookbooks also hold little interest becuase I've sone my time in culinary school and don't often find a lot in those books I find interesting or challenging. Some still make it to the shelves, however, because I like the content, they've done something new, the photography is inspiring....something. This is one of those books. 

I like that instead of teaching you some bullshit Rachel Ray lowest common denominator recipe it actually shows you how to cook with step by step pictures and techniques. I also think it's really cool that the chapters are divided into things like Barbecue, Burgers, Eggs and Souffles, Pasta, etc. It's not the standard breakdown with slight variations on the recipes your mom made. Instead, it's step-by-step technique to make something you'd be proud to serve your friends whether you know how to cook or not. Yes, it teaches you how to make waffles--but they're orange waffles, bacon waffles, pumpkin waffles and banana waffles. Want to loearn how to roast a chicken? Cool! Everyone should know how to roast a chicken. And when you have leftovers, it will also tell you how to make a Thai chicken salad with those. Everyone likes grilled cheese....here's how to do it using an isi CO2 siphon for a modern take. THAT'S COOL!

There are a few recipes in here that make me cringe: Spaghetti carbonara with scrambled eggs. THAT'S A FUCKING ABOMINATION!!! But his bolognese is decent, the pomodoro passes muster, and he makes everything approachable. That combined with the creativity makes this a book worth having, IMHO.

To sum it up:

On a 1-5 Scale:

Content: 3.5

Photography: 2.5

Ease of Understanding / Use: 5

Overall: 3.5

Full disclosure: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.



A Cookbook Review: The Pizza Bible

Cookbooktober is the best month of the year for cookbook hoarders like me, and this year has offered a HUGE bounty of quality books. Once all of the new releases are in I’ll be doing a blog post on my personal favorites from the season.

One of the books I’m really enjoying right now is Tony Gemignani’s, “The Pizza Bible”. This book is a comprehensive how-to tome on pizza making including a wide range of international and regional US variations, including Neopolitan, Deep-dish, Wood-Fired, Calzones and Focaccia, New York, Chicago and Detroit style pies. I love the detailed “how to” component of this book as well.

As someone who is most inspired by the old school authentic dishes of Italy, this isn’t my favorite specialty pizza book. There are some other quality contenders if you want to go deep into a particular style of pizza, such as Pizza Alba Pezone for Neopolitan pizza. It is, however, a great instructional guide to help you master the basics and then make changes based upon the style you prefer. If you only buy one pizza book, this is a good choice. If you’re a hoarder like me, it’s a good start so you can go deeper with other books. The photography isn’t the most inspiring I’ve seen in a book of this genre, but again—to help you master the basics the step by step photographs map nicely to the instruction set.

This one is worth having in your collection, regardless of the style you prefer. Give it a go. You won’t regret it.

On a 1-5 Scale:

Content: 4

Photography: 3.5

Ease of Understanding / Use: 5

Overall: 4

Full disclosure: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.



Food & Life, a Cookbook Preview and Meatball Recipe

I love meatballs. Lamb, pork, chicken, shrimp – you name it. LOVE meatballs. Like everyone, I have a couple of prized recipes I consider to be my favorites. As a matter of fact, my Poodle Becky Selengut and I constantly argue about who has the BEST lamb meatball recipe in the world. Mine is garlicky, minty and served in a fiery tomato sauce. Hers is amazing – Indian-influenced in a creamy tomato sauce, full of depth and heat -- it’s the second best lamb meatball ever ;) All of this said, I'm always on the hunt for new and interesting variations. Well, I found one. But first, some background…

I was thrilled to receive a review copy of Joel Robuchon’s new book last week, Food & Life. Like all of the books published by Assouline, it combines appealing recipes with some stunning photography. This book divides Robuchion’s magic into five main areas, focusing on not only the recipes but how they impact the wellness of your body and spirit. Normally such an approach would make me roll my eyes, assuming it was some new age woo-woo pass-the-quinoa-and-kale-salad-while-we-sit-around-the-drum-circle hippie book. It’s not that—it’s Robuchon. He was one of the chefs whose recipes formed the foundation of my French cuisine education when I was in culinary school. Here, combining his creativity and recipe development skills with Dr. Nadia Volf’s focus on the body, they’ve come up with an engrossing, vibrant book full of things I can’t wait to make. Oh, and lest you think it’s all healthy food, there are recipes for things like foie gras, pastas and tarts, seafood and meats. The book and accompanying recipes are grouped into The Magic Of Foods,  Foods that Prevent and Foods That Cure, The Virtuosity of the Magician, Food and Climate, and Celebratory Dishes. Each of the recipes gives detailed instruction and discusses the impact on physical and mental well being. 

The first recipe that caught my eye was the Meatballs with Tomato Sauce, and I vowed to make the dish the same night I received the book. It didn’t take long to throw this dish together, and I was intrigued by some of the Mediterranean spices he included in the recipe. The resulting dish was interesting, had great depth, and by adding the optional eggs to the pan, we had a delicious dinner. This recipe is definitely going into my repertoire for future repeats.

You can find more information on Food & Life directly on the Assouline site, linked here, or pre-order the book on Amazon.

And you should really try Becky's meatballs sometime. They're almost as good as mine.






Presidential Oaxacan Black Mole with Chile-Rubbed Ribeyes and Chile Fried Onions

I love mole. It’s truly one of those tasks that has to be a labor of love, because it takes an entire day to do it properly.  THIS particular recipe for black mole is one I read about a few years ago when Rick Bayless made it at the White House for President Obama. He mentioned how difficult it is to procure the chihuacle chiles and talked about the authenticity of using them.

Challenge accepted!

I scoured the web trying to find them. No luck. We went to Mexico with our lesbii for Christmas and I asked everywhere…nada. They’re native to a very small region in Oaxaca. Back to the internet. Zip. I blamed my husband David, because he’s the reason I can’t have nice things. That didn’t work either.

Finally, I found Michael Beary, the chef at Zocalito Latin Bistro in Aspen. He was mentioned in some articles  online and it turns out he also does mail order for hard to find ingredients. You can find chihuacles at his website, www.zocalito.com.

Here’s the deal with mole. Because it’s a pain in the ass to make, MULTIPLY the recipe. It freezes really well. In this case, I made it according to how many chihuacle chiles I bought. I ordered two packages, unsure how the weight would convert into actual chiles. Turns out two was a LOT so I ended up making a quadruple batch. Boo hoo, right? Too much mole. There are worse things.

As with all Bayless recipes, everything worked without exception. His instruction is always golden for me. The only note I’d add is that when you defrost and reheat the mole, it tends to be a bit on the dry side, so I end up adding chicken stock. I also added a tiny bit more piloncillo to taste.

When I made the large batch of this, I did it exactly as described in the recipe below, which I lifted from an article on Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/05/20/bayless-black-mole-recipe_n_583397.html ). Last night,we did a tex-mex theme at our place, so I did a chili-rub on some ribeyes, slapped them on the grill and served them over the mole with some chile-fried onions on top.  We served them with the Firecracker cole slaw from Dean Fearing’s new book, “The Texas Food Bible” and some Mexican street corn. For you cookbook hoarders, the inspiration for the chile rub and the onions came from Stephan Pyles' book, "New Tastes From Texas".

If you decide to give this a go, you won’t be sorry. You’ll just be bored. And irritated at the amount of dishes you have to do. And then bored again as you stir that damned pot….but hey, sometimes pot stirring is fun. Mole is also a perfect example of a dish where you can taste the time going into it—those layers of flavor add a depth and nuance making every minute worth it.


Serves 8 (with about 10 cups of sauce, which will mean leftovers to make enchiladas or more chicken)

11 medium (about 5 1/2 ounces) dried mulato chiles

6 medium (about 2 ounces) dried chihualces chiles (see note in Variations and Improvisations below)

6 medium (about 2 ounces) dried pasilla chiles

1 dried chipotle chile (preferably the tan-brown chipotle meco)

1 corn tortilla, torn into small pieces

2 1/4-inch-thick slices of white onion

4 garlic cloves, unpeeled

About 2 cups rich-tasting lard or vegetable oil (for frying the chiles)

1/2 cup sesame seeds, plus a few extra for garnish

1/4 cup pecan halves

1/4 cup unskinned or Spanish peanuts

1/4 cup unskinned almonds

About 10 cups chicken broth (canned or homemade)

1 pound (2 medium-large or 6 to 8 plum) green tomatoes, roughly chopped

4 ounces (2 to 3 medium) tomatillos, husked, rinsed and roughly chopped

2 slices stale bread, toasted until very dark

1/4 teaspoon cloves, preferably freshly ground

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, preferably freshly ground

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, preferably freshly ground Mexican canela

A scant teaspoon oregano, preferably Mexican

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 ripe banana

1/2 cup (about 3 ounces) finely chopped Mexican chocolate

2 or 3 avocado leaves (if you have them)

Salt, about 1 tablespoon depending on the saltiness of the broth

Sugar, about 1/4 cup (or a little more)

2 large (3 1/2- to 4-pound) chickens, cut into quarters

1. Getting started. Pull out the stems (and attached seed pods) from the chiles, tear them open and shake or scrape out the seeds, collecting them as you go.

Now, do something that will seem very odd: scoop the seeds into an ungreased medium-size (8- to 9-inch) skillet along with the torn-up tortilla, set over medium heat, turn on an exhaust fan, open a window and toast your seeds and tortilla, shaking the pan regularly, until thoroughly burned to charcoal black, about 15 minutes. (This is very important to the flavor and color of the mole.) Now, scrape them into a fine-mesh strainer and rinse for 30 seconds or so, then transfer to a blender.

Set an ungreased skillet or griddle over medium heat, lay on a piece of aluminum foil, and lay the onion slices and garlic cloves on that. Roast until soft and very dark (about 5 minutes on each side of the onion slices – peel it off the foil to turn it; about 15 minutes for the garlic – turn it frequently as it roasts). Cool the garlic a bit, peel it and combine with the onion in a large bowl.

While the onion and garlic are roasting, turn on the oven to 350 degrees (for toasting nuts), return the skillet to medium heat, measure in a scant 2 cups of the lard or oil (you'll need about 1/2-inch depth), and, when hot, begin frying the chiles a couple at a time: They'll unfurl quickly, then release their aroma and piquancy (keep that exhaust on and window open) and, after about 30 seconds, have lightened in color and be well toasted (they should be crisp when cool, but not burnt smelling). Drain them well, gather them into a large bowl, cover with hot tap water, and let rehydrate for 30 minutes, stirring regularly to ensure even soaking. Drain, reserving the soaking liquid.

While the chiles are soaking, toast the seeds and nuts. Spread the sesame seeds onto a baking sheet or ovenproof skillet, spread the pecans, peanuts and almonds onto another baking sheet or skillet, then set both into the oven. In about 12 minutes the sesame seeds will have toasted to a dark brown; the nuts will take slightly longer. Add all of them to the blender (reserving a few sesame seeds for garnish), along with 1 1/2 cups of the chicken broth and blend to as smooth a puree as you can. Transfer to a small bowl.

Without rinsing the blender, combine the green tomatoes and tomatillos with another 1/2 cup of the broth and puree. Pour into another bowl. Again, without rinsing the blender, combine the roasted onion and garlic with the toasted bread, cloves, black pepper, cinnamon, oregano, thyme, banana and 3/4 cup broth. Blend to a smooth puree and pour into a small bowl.

Finally, without rinsing the blender, scoop in half of the chiles, measure in 1/2 cup of the soaking liquid, blend to a smooth puree, then pour into another bowl. Repeat with the remaining chiles and another 1/2 cup of the soaking liquid.

2. From four purees to mole. In a very large (8- to 9-quart) pot (preferably a Dutch oven or Mexican cazuela), heat 3 tablespoons of the lard or oil (some of what you used for the chiles is fine) and set over medium-high heat. When very hot, add the tomato puree and stir and scrape (a flat-sided wooden spatula works well here) for 15 to 20 minutes until reduced, thick as tomato paste, and very dark (it'll be the color of cinnamon stick and may be sticking to the pot in places). Add the nut puree and continue the stirring and scraping until reduced, thick and dark again (this time it'll be the color of black olive paste), about 8 minutes. Then, as you guessed it, add the banana-spice puree and stir and scrape for another 7 or 8 minutes as the whole thing simmers back down to a thick mass about the same color it was before you added this one.

Add the chile puree, stir well and let reduce over medium-low heat until very thick and almost black, about 30 minutes, stirring regularly (but, thankfully, not constantly). Stir in the remaining 7 cups of broth, the chocolate and avocado leaves (if you have them), partially cover and simmer gently for about an hour, for all the flavors to come together. Season with salt and sugar (remembering that this is quite a sweet mole and that sugar helps balance the dark, toasty flavors). Remove the avocado leaves.

In batches in a loosely covered blender, puree the sauce until as smooth as possible, then pass through a medium-mesh strainer into a large bowl.

3. Finishing the dish. Return the mole to the same pot and heat it to a simmer. Nestle the leg-and-thigh quarters of the chicken into the bubbling black liquid, partially cover and time 15 minutes, then nestle in the breast quarters, partially cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, until all the chicken is done.

With a slotted spoon, fish out the chicken pieces and transfer them to a large warm platter. Spoon a generous amount of the mole over and around them, sprinkle with the reserved sesame seeds and set triumphantly before your lucky guests.

Advance Preparation: The mole can be completed through Step 2 several days ahead (it gets better, in fact); cover and refrigerate. Completele Step 3 shortly before serving.

VARIATIONS AND IMPROVISATIONS: Chilhuacle chiles are very difficult to find unless you're in Oaxaca (even then they're sometimes hard to obtain). Without them you can make a very respectable black mole with 6 ounces (12 total) dried mulato chiles, 2 1/2 ounces (8 total) dried pasilla chiles and 1 ounce (4 total) dried guajillo chiles.

For the Chile-Rubbed Ribeyes and Red Chile Onion Rings:

(Yields 4 servings)

4 bigassed ribeyes (Bone-in if you want to serve huge, impressive man-steaks)

Spice Blend ( mix 1 cup ground chiles, 1 cup paprika, 1/3 cup sugar, salt and pepper to taste)

Canola Oil for Frying

3 onions, cut into rings

1 quart buttermilk, for soaking

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup paprika

1/2 cup chile powder

2 tbsp ground cumin seeds

salt to taste

cayenne powder to taste

For the steaks: Rub spice blend on both sides of ribeyes, place in the refrigerator and allow to marinate 8-12 hours. Remove an hour before grilling and allow to come to room temperature. Grill to desired doneness. We tend to pull them at about 120 degrees and let them rest for 10 minutes before serving.

For the onion rings: Pour enough canola oil in a large frying pan to come 3 to 4 inches up the side. Heat the oil to 350 degrees F or until lightly smoking. Place the onions in a large bowl and cover with buttermilk; let soak for 20 minutes. Combine the flour, paprika, chile powder and cumin in a medium bowl; mix thoroughly. Shake the excess milk off the onions and toss in the flour mixture until well coated. Fry in the hot canola oil until golden. Drain the rings on paper towels and season with salt and cayenne to taste. 

Ladle mole onto plate, place grilled ribeye on top, and scatter onion rings over that. We served this with margaritas and far, far too many bottles of a big red zinfandel.