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.

Thursday
Sep062012

REC: Chinese Sizzling Cumin Lamb with Chile Pickled Long Beans

I love Chinese food. I don’t care if it’s Americanized Chinese General Tso (Hello—who doesn’t like that), fiery Hunanese cuisine (which we have to drive to Vancouver to get because there’s none to be found in Seattle), hot and numbing Sichuan fare—I love it all. The food I’ve had in China that was the most memorable, and that which I most wanted to imitate is Xinjiang style, specifically the food I’ve been lucky enough to try in Xi’an. We ate the SHIT out of that stuff.

With a strong Muslim influence, the foods in Xi’an are full of chiles, laced with Sichuan peppercorns, and you find a lot of goat and lamb. There is a street outside the mosque with the most amazing  and diverse street food I’ve ever eaten, and I looooves me some street food. I’ve been trying for years to imitate a snack I found there called Guo Kui (“Little Helmets”). A colleague forwarded me a recipe he found last week on a chinese website after listening to me bitch and moan about how there are no English recipes that seemed authentic to my taste memory of that food, and my friend Kairu pulled in her mother to help translate. Stay tuned on that one…we’re giving it a test run this weekend.

While researching Sichuan recipes in my fervor around a trip I’m taking to cook at the Sichuan Culinary Institute next month, I came across this recipe from Danny Bowien of Mission Chinese Food in San Francisco. Bowien is a rock star, and the food he puts out has a cult following. Reading the ingredients on this recipe, I had to give it a try. Let me tell you: It. Is. Spectacular. This is the flavor I remember from trips to china, and specifically the couple of times I’ve been in Xi’an. The gaminess of the lamb, a rich meaty broth, thick noodles and that gorgeous marriage of chiles, cumin, and Sichuan pepper. We went insane for this soup. You will too.

A couple of quick modifications: I added Sichuan peppercorns to this recipe, because I love their addition to this mixture and they are key to my memory of similar dishes. Second, I substituted in my favorite Udon noodles because they’re just amazingly delicious in soups. Other than that, I stuck with the program.

Oh, one more thing…the photo. I was lucky enough to spend yesterday afternoon with my friends Becky Selengut (and her disgusting “I camped all weekend with the lesberati” dirty feet) and the supremely talented photo goddess Clare Barboza. Becky and I had arranged with Clare to have a private photo lesson to teach us how to use the “big boy cameras” we bought last year. We love the photos we manage to get using these cameras, but neither of us know what the hell we’re doing. (Ok, she has more of a clue than I do, but that’s a REALLY low bar). We brought fruit, nuts and some cheeses to use as practice subject but I thought, “Fuck that…if I’m going to be with the pros, I’m bringing something I actually want to put on my blog”. I brought the soup components and Clare helped style and set up the shot, and stepped me through modifying the elements on the table and with the camera to create the darker, moodier type of photo that typically draws me in. Thank you, Clare!

Danny Bowien use lamb breast or lamb belly, sometimes even lamb ribs, but lamb shoulder works just as well. (Note from Marc: I used shank and then added the bones to the stock during the braising process to pull out every ounce of lamby goodness).

Chinese Sizzling Cumin Lamb with Chile Pickled Long Beans

4–6 SERVINGS

MODIFIED FROM RECIPE BY Danny Bowien Of Mission Chinese Food In San Francisco, Ca

Bon Appetit, MAY 2012

INGREDIENTS

LAMB

•          1 cup cumin seeds, toasted

•          1/2 cup coriander seeds, toasted

•          1/2 cup fennel seed, toasted

•          3 tablespoons kosher salt

•          1 tablespoon (packed) light brown sugar

•          3 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla or nuoc nam)

•          1 tablespoon sesame oil (not toasted)

•          4 pounds lamb shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes

•          1/4 cup vegetable oil

•          1 1/2 cups beer (Budweiser or any other pilsner works well)

•          4 cups beef or low-salt chicken broth

•          1 1/2 cups cola

•          1/4 cup soy sauce

•          1 yellow onion, burnt over an open flame, finely chopped

•          2 jalapeños, burnt over an open flame, finely chopped with seeds

•          2 fresh bay leaves

•          1 garlic clove, smashed

•          ¼ cup Sichuan peppercorns, lightly toasted in a hot, dry pan

ASSEMBLY

•          1/2 tablespoon olive oil plus more for brushing

•          Kosher salt

•          1 onion, thinly sliced

•          3 red jalapeños, thinly sliced with seeds

•          1 pound ramen noodles (Note from Marc: I used udon noodles)

•          1 bunch cilantro, tough stems removed

•          3 scallions, thinly sliced

•          2 tablespoons black vinegar

•          1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

•          1 green jalapeño, thinly sliced with seeds

•          Chili Pickled Long Beans (recipe below)

PREPARATION

LAMB

Pulse cumin, coriander, and fennel in a food processor until you have a rough grind. Combine half of spice mixture, salt, sugar, fish sauce, and sesame oil in a medium bowl; add lamb and toss to coat (reserve remaining spice mixture). Let lamb marinate at room temperature for at least 2 hours and up to 4 hours.

Heat 1/4 cup vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Working in batches, cook meat until brown, about 4 minutes per batch; transfer meat to a platter. Add beer; stir, scraping up browned bits from the bottom of pan. Simmer until liquid is reduced by a third, about 4 minutes. Return lamb to pot; add broth and next 7 ingredients. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered and stirring occasionally, until meat is very tender, 2–3 hours. Using a slotted spoon, transfer lamb to a baking sheet; reserve. Skim fat from braising liquid.

ASSEMBLY

Heat a griddle or large cast-iron skillet until it is very hot. Pat lamb pieces dry. Brush with oil and season with some of reserved spice mix. Working in batches, cook lamb, turning occasionally, until smoky and fragrant but not burnt, about 3 minutes per batch. Transfer lamb to a large bowl. Toss onion and red jalapeños in a bowl with 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil. Add to griddle and cook until softened and charred in spots, about 3 minutes; add to bowl with lamb.

Bring lamb braising liquid to a simmer. Add noodles, simmer until just tender, about 1 minute. Add reserved meat, onions, and jalapeños.

Combine cilantro, scallions, vinegar, sesame seeds, ane green jalapeño in a large bowl. Season to taste with some of remaining spice mix; toss to coat. Divide lamb mixture among bowls. Top with the cilantro mixture. Serve Chili Pickled Long Beans on the side.

Chili Pickled Long Beans

MAKES 1 QUART

RECIPE BY Danny Bowien Of Mission Chinese Food In San Francisco, Ca

Bon Appetit, MAY 2012

INGREDIENTS

•          1 garlic clove, minced

•          2 cups soy sauce

•          1 cup black vinegar

•          1 tablespoon fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)

•          1 fresh red Thai chile, thinly sliced with seeds

•          1 red fresno pepper or jalapeño chile, thinly sliced with seeds

•          1 jalapeño, thinly sliced with seeds

•          1 12-ounce bunch Chinese long beans, cut into 1/4-inch rounds (4 cups)

PREPARATION

Combine garlic, soy, vinegar, fish sauce, and chiles in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer; add long beans. Remove from heat, cover, and let cool completely.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 week ahead. Transfer to a container, cover, and chill.

 

 

Thursday
Aug092012

You say tomato: Tomato Tonnato and Tomato, Fresh Fig & Blue Cheese Salad

It’s summer! Summer = Tomatoes, right? I’m one of those people who loathed the taste and texture of tomatoes as a kid (excluding ketchup and the jars of Ragu my mom served, natch). As an adult, I started liking tomatoes and over time, even loving them in some preparations.  I don't normally seek out tomato recipes specifically (unless they're written by Paul Bertolli, because his tomato recipes should be considered scripture). Occasionally, something all about the tomato will catch my eye, however. The New York Times posted a few inspiring tomato recipes this week in an article entitled, “Never Say No To A tomato Vine”, and I had to give ‘em a test drive.

Fortunately, Seattle summers are extremely hot and tomatoes are very easy to grow here. I stepped outside into the blistering sun and plucked a few precious heirloom gems off of my huge tomato vines, which were straining under the weight of their tremendous bounty.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

I’m full of shit. Our summer, with a notable handful of days where the temperature got into the 90s, has sucked. Again. I could no more grow a crop of tomatoes than I could make a prize-winning cake or be a contestant on the Bachelorette (unless I was auditioning for the lead, of course). Fortunately, we have some great grocery stores who manage to pull in some beautiful product.

Here’s the dirt on the two recipes I selected: They’re not fussy. They’re not complicated. The tonnato isn’t beautiful, because my meager skills have a hard time making a tuna sauce (think classic italian Vitello Tonnato, minus the veal) look extremely appealing. I’m still posting the recipes, because both were absolutely delicious and would be the perfect light summery al fresco supper (if we ever get any summer). David liked the fig and tomato salad—I absolutely loved it. I liked the tomato tonnato—He absolutely loved it.

So give ‘em a go, and let us know which one you liked most.  And if it’s not too much trouble, can you send us some summer?

Tomato Tonnato

TOTAL TIME : 15 minutes

INGREDIENTS

                        5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

                        1 three-ounce can imported tuna packed in olive oil, drained and flaked

                        1/4 cup mayonnaise

                        2 teaspoons drained capers

                        2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

                        2 anchovy fillets, optional

                        1 fat garlic clove, smashed and peeled

                        2 tablespoons tightly packed basil leaves, more for garnish

                        2 pounds mixed tomatoes, large ones cut in slices, small ones cut in wedges

                        Coarse sea salt

                        Black pepper

                        Crusty bread, for serving.

PREPARATION

 

  1. In a blender, combine olive oil, tuna, mayonnaise, capers, lemon juice, anchovies, garlic and 2 tablespoons basil and purée until creamy.
  2. Lay tomatoes out on a platter and spoon sauce over the tops. Season with salt and a generous amount of pepper and garnish with basil leaves. Serve with bread.

 

 

YIELD: 6 to 8 servings.

Originally published with Never Say ‘No’ to a Tomato Vine, By MELISSA CLARK, August 3, 2012

Tomato, Fresh Fig and Blue Cheese Salad

TOTAL TIME: 20 minutes

INGREDIENTS

                        1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

                        1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

                        1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

                        3 tablespoons pine nuts

                        1 large or 2 small ripe tomatoes, about 8 ounces, thinly sliced

                        1/2 pound fresh figs, cut into quarters

                        1 ounce crumbled blue cheese, like Fourme d’Ambert, more to taste

                        1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

                        Black pepper.

PREPARATION

 

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar and salt. Whisk in oil.
  2. In a small skillet over medium-low heat, toast pine nuts, shaking the pan occasionally, until light golden, about 2 minutes.
  3. Spread tomato slices on a large plate. Scatter fig quarters and pine nuts over tomatoes. Sprinkle with cheese and thyme, drizzle with dressing and finish with pepper.

 

YIELD: 4 servings.

Originally published with Never Say ‘No’ to a Tomato Vine

By MELISSA CLARK, August 3, 2012

 

 

Sunday
Jul292012

Summer Chilled Corn Soup with Pequin Chiles and Lemon Oil

We keep getting our hopes up for Summer in Seattle. A few days of 80+ degrees, followed by a few days of eternal cloud cover. Unseasonably muggy and meh weather = grumpy summer mood swings. Don't get me wrong--I love Seattle and I love that we get seasons here--I just wish summer was a bit more...summery. If you don't live in Seattle, you're probably sweltering in the heat wave nailing the rest of the country. Ok, ok...I get it. You win.

If it's hot and you're too sticky, sweaty and can't seem to dredge up some ambition to move off that chair, here's just the thing for you. What says hot summer days like corn? Add some citrusy olive oil, a little bit of chile kick and giiiiiiirl, you've got yerself some summer lovin'. 

This recipe is really simple. There aren't a million ingredients, there's no instruction set beginning with, "Day 1: Do this", and it's even vegetarian and gluten free. I know--BORING, right? Wrong. This recipe is inspired by a "Fire and Ice" recipe contest put out there by my friends at Marx Foods. They sent a variety of chile samples to contest participants with the simple instructions to create a cold dish with a fiery component brought on by the chiles. I love corn soup, and I think the chiles give it just a little more oomph.  From the varieties they sent, I chose to use the Pequin Chiles based upon the tasting notes included in te package, indicating flavors of citrus and sweetness. You can modify this recipe to your heat tolerance. Using about a quarter cup of the little dried pequins there's a nice burn in the back of your throat. I found it to be about a 4 on a 1-10 scale, but we are spice pigs...tailor it to what you like. 

The olive oil I used for this is my favorite lemon-infused olive oil made by Temecula Olive Oil company in California. Their lemon oil is called D'Luscious Lemon. I've had some lemon olive oils that taste like you're huffing your mom's Pledge. Fortunately, this isn't like that at all. This oil is very subtle, and it makes a nice counter to the heat and sweetness of the soup.

Happy Summer, everyone...and if you manage to peel yourself out of that chair and make this soup, let me know what you think.

By the way, you can vote for this recipe here.

Chilled Corn Soup with Pequin Chiles and Lemon Olive Oil

Serves 8
 
8 ears corn, shucked
4 cups whole milk + 1/2 - 1 cup for thinning after refrigeration (see note)
1/4 cup Pequin Chiles
1 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Lemon olive oil for garnish (see note)
1-2 Tbsp fresh chives
 
Cut the corn kernels from the cobs and set aside. Put the cobs in a large stockpot and add the milk and chiles. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until reduced by two-thirds, about 20 minutes. Remove the cobs and the chiles and discard. Add the corn kernels and cream and simmer until the kernels are tender, about 5 minutes.   
 
In batches, transfer the corn mixture to a blender and puree. Strain through a fine meshed sieve into a bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until chilled, 4 to 6 hours.
Note: Depending on the starchiness of the corn, the soup may chill quite solid and require a bit more milk to thin back into a soupy consistency. Using a whisk, add milk to your chilled soup to achieve the consistency you like. Ideally, this soup comes out slightly thick like a bisque.
 
Divide among 8 small bowls and drizzle a liberal amount of lemon olive oil over each serving. Sprinkle with chives and serve.
 
Monday
Jul232012

The Perfect Pad Thai

There are certain recipes I’ve spent years trying to make just…right: The perfect Bolognese (I’m about 95% of the way there), a flawless souffle (Thanks to Jerry Traunfeld, I’ve got that one down) and Pad Thai. I’ve made good Pad Thai. I’ve even made what I think is great Pad Thai. This is the recipe I think makes flawless Pad Thai. I tested it last week for David, and made it again for friends this weekend. It. Is. AWESOME.  Seriously, I think it is as good as the best Pad Thai I’ve had in any restaurant or even in Thailand.

The author of this book, is Thailand’s tv food celebrity. Born into the royal family, Chef McDang has cookbooks, tv shows, and lucrative consulting gigs for Thai food companies. His cookbook is broken out into basic Thai ingredients and dives deep into the spice pastes that form the core of Thai cooking. He discusses the regional differences and how they affect food, and then provides recipes to demonstrate the basic cooking techniques of boiling, grilling, salads, dips, stir-frying, deep-frying, steaming, curries and (my bane) desserts. In addition to the Pad Thai recipe, I’ve also made his Pad Grapao Nuea (Stir-Fried ground beef with chili, garlic and Thai holy basil) and it came out perfect. Again, as good as anything I’ve had in a restaurant or during my visits to Thailand.

A couple of notes on sourcing the ingredients: You need to have a good Asian grocery near you, or you will need to buy some of the more esoteric items (pickled turnip, pickled garlic, Thai chile sauce—not the sweet one) from internet sources. In Seattle, I found everything at Uwajimaya with the exception of the sweet pickled turnip, which I bought at Viet Wah. The base sauce recipe starts at about 6 quarts, and you reduce it down by half—it makes enough to last a while. The reduction took me a couple of hours, but then actually making the Pad Thai was an exercise of about 10 minutes. It’s well worth that initial time investment. You can use any protein in place of the shrimp. Because this was made as part of an asian meal already including a different shrimp preparation, I seared scallops instead.

If you’ve ever wanted to make Pad Thai, give this recipe a go. You won’t be disappointed. The measurements are metric, as this book was originally published in Thailand. Although a US Version has not been released, I found mine on Amazon.

Pad Thai Goong Sod

Adapted from The Principles of Thai Cookery, by Chef McDang

Serves 4

Ingredients:

60ml vegetable oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

250g prawns, peeled and cleaned (or other protein)

150g white bean curd, diced small

80g sweet pickled Chinese turnip (daikon), finely chopped

30g dried shrimp

300g dry Thai rice stick noodles (Chantaburi), soaked in cold water until strands are white, drained

230ml Pad Thai sauce (Recipe below)

2 eggs

150g bean sprouts

70g chives, cut into 1 ½ inch lengths

50g unsalted, toasted peanuts, chopped

Chili powder (for garnish), as required

4 lime wedges (for garnish)

Preparation:

  1. In a wok, heat 2 Tbsp of the oil over moderate heat. Add garlic and stir-fry until fragrant. Add prawns and stir-fry until pink but not cooked. Immediately take out of the wok and reserve.
  2. In the same wok, add a little more oil, then add white bean curd and dried shrimp. Stir-fry until bean curd browns.
  3. Add the noodles and stir-fry to soften. Add Pad Thai sauce, a little at a time. Stir-fry to mix quickly. The noodles will soften further and absorb the flavors of the sauce. Taste.
  4. If the flavors are not intense enough, add a little more sauce and allow it to seep into the noodles. Add the pickled Chinese turnip and more dried shrimp. Stir-fry to incorporate these ingredients.
  5. Move the noodles to once side of the wok. Add the cooked shrimp and a little oil to the bottom of the wok. Raise the temperature and crack the eggs into the bottom of the pan.
  6. Cover the eggs with the noodles. Reduce the heat a little and allow the eggs to cook.
  7. Toss all the noodles together to spread the eggs. Mix in the bean sprouts, the chopped Chinese chives, and peanuts.
  8. Serve the Pad Thai, garnished with fresh bean sprouts, Chinese chives, banana blossom and a lime wedge. If you like peanuts, add a few more to the side of the plate.

Pad Thai Sauce

Ingredients:

300g pickled garlic

100g fresh garlic, peeled and chopped

170g fresh Thai chile peppers

3 cups chili sauce (I used the Taste of Thai brand, but any chili sauce will work)

1 cup pickled garlic juice

1 kg palm sugar

375ml distilled vinegar

3 cups tamarind juice

3 Tbsp salt

½ cup fish sauce

3 liters water

Preparation:

  1. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.
  2. Transfer the mixture to the saucepan, stir to mix well and bring the mixture to a boil.
  3. Reduce the heat and simer in order to allow the sauce to evaporate and thicken. Once the liquid is reduced almost by half and tastes sweet, sour and slightly salty, allow it to cool. Once cooled, transfer to an air-tight container and refrigerate ready for use when making Pad Thai.

Sauce will be enough for 12-15 servings.

Monday
Jul022012

Strawberry Shortcake Trifle

This weekend we went strawberry picking. In Seattle, thanks to Jon Rowley (the man who brought us Copper River Salmon) it’s ALL about Shuksan strawberries. They’re ripe, they’re juicy and they’re extremely perishable. When you get your hands on some, you have about 30 seconds to figure out what to do with them before they begin to spoil. They’re that ripe.

This weekend, there Jon hosted a picking event at a farm in Mt. Vernon (about an hour north of Seattle). A group of about 20 people descended on the farm at 9am, got the primer on these gems, and were all set loose to pick their own.  It was muggy (rare for Seattle), rainy (not so rare) and a muddy mess in the fields, but we were determined to find our own perfect berries. Now, as someone who loves cooking and for whom sustainability is top of mind, it is very important for me to go to farms and get closer to my food. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Was that believable? Screw that pretentious blather. It was muggy and gross, and there was no cocktail service. But we had fun seeing some familiar faces, meeting some new ones, and joking about whether or not the berries would survive the hour-long drive home without turning into their own moldy ecosystem. “Oh my god, I blinked….I think it made my berries rot”!

Joking aside, it was a fun experience, and it was cool to learn about the berries, the marketing behind them, and meet the 6th generation farmer who hosted the group.

When I got home and hosed the mud off, I searched for strawberry shortcake recipes online. Fearing my baketardedness, I decided to go with Emeril’s recipe for a strawberry shortcake trifle. Trifles are delicious, and forgiving if you screw up the cake...WHICH I DIDN'T DO, for the record. The cake was delicious on its own, but adding booze to it at the end made it even better. The recipe calls for ½ cup of liqueur ala the famous 70s Jello Poke Cake. I doubled that for ours, and I think it could still take a little bit more. When in doubt, add more booze.

Yes, Kairu. I MADE the cake. From scratch. It didn’t come from Safeway. As you can tell from the photo, it was so delicious, it sparkled!

And you’re a bitch.

Strawberry Shortcake

(Adapted from Emeril Lagasse)

Ingredients

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled, plus 2 teaspoons, softened

 6 large eggs, at room temperature

2 tablespoons milk, at room temperature

3 1/3 cups granulated sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 pounds strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and sliced

1/2 cup orange-flavored liqueur, plus a little more for drizzling (recommended: Grand Marnier)

1 1/2 teaspoons orange zest

2 1/2 cups heavy cream

5 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and grease a 9 by 13-inch glass casserole with the 2 teaspoons of butter and set aside.

Combine the eggs and milk in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until frothy. Add 1 1/3 cups of the sugar and continue to beat at high speed until the mixture is quite thick and pale yellow, about 7 to 10 minutes.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Fold this mixture gently into the egg mixture. Gently stir in the melted butter and then transfer the batter to the prepared baking pan and bake in the center of the oven until risen and golden brown, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack before proceeding.

Make the strawberry topping by combining the strawberries, remaining 2 cups sugar, 1/2 cup orange liqueur, and orange zest in a large bowl and tossing to combine. Let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until all sugar is dissolved. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to assemble the dessert.

Make the whipped cream by combining the heavy cream with the confectioners' sugar in a large bowl and beating with an electric mixer or whisk until slightly thickened. Add the vanilla and continue to beat until the mixture nearly forms stiff peaks.

When ready to assemble the dessert, poke holes all over the cake using a cake tester or toothpick. Drizzle cake with a little orange liqueur. Cut the cake into 1 1/2-inch cubes and place half of the cake cubes on the bottom of a deep-sided dessert bowl. Add half of the strawberry mixture over the top of the cake cubes, juices and all, spreading strawberries evenly with a spatula and allowing the juices to absorb into the cake. Top with the remaining cake cubes and then the remaining strawberries. Top with the whipped cream and serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 hour in advance before serving.

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