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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Entries in appetizer (8)

Thursday
Sep192013

Sichuan Smoky Eggplant with Garlic (Huo Shao Qie Zi)

Again, I’ve been remiss in posting updates to Baketard when we’ve had new dishes I felt were keepers. I could blame work, a constant flow of houseguests this summer, some work and vacation travel, or my own damned laziness. I think you know which one of the above is to blame as well as I do. Hopefully this dish will help make it up to you. I am in LOVE with this cold appetizer.

I’ve posted a few items describing my latest trip to China and the time I spent at the Sichuan Culinary Institute in Chengdu, and I’ve put up a couple of recipes (with permission) while trying to honor the requests from the heads of the program not to publish what they teach at the school (Because if I did, why would anyone go and have that amazing experience for themselves). I completely respect their wishes.  This said, I still have some Chinese dishes to share. 

This summer, we have thrown a few Sichuan-themed dinner parties, taking what I learned during the program and adding in bits and pieces from cookbooks I’ve acquired abroad, notes from colleagues who are always willing to help me look up and translate cool dishes I’ve had when traveling, and of course, Fuchsia Dunlop’s published recipes. This eggplant dish is one of hers, and it’s a regular at our table. Cool, smoky, spicy, slightly sweet, creamy….it’s got it all, is relatively simple to make and I think it’s a stunning dish. I always double this recipe. Always.

The only modification I’ve made is to use Chinese thin-skinned eggplant (which require a greater number as they yield less flesh), and at the end I roughly chop the mixture rather than leaving them in strips. I also don’t bother with removing the seeds. If you do that with Chinese or Japanese eggplant, there isn’t much left over to work with.

Enjoy this one. It’s fantastic.

Ingredients:

2 eggplant (about 1 ¼ lb/600g)

2 tsp light soy sauce

2 tsp Chinkiang Vinegar

2 Tbsp chile oil with its sediment

1-2 tsp finely chopped garlic, to taste

½ tsp sesame seeds

2 Tbsp finely sliced spring onions

Instructions:

Prick each eggplant a couple of times with a fork, then lay them on a very low gas flame and allow them to soften and char, turning from time to time for even cooking (this can take up to an hour, so its best done when you have other chores in or near the kitchen).

When the skins have blackened and the flesh is soft and pulpy within, remove them from the stove and allow to cool.

Strip away the burned skin and tear the eggplant into strips, discarding the seeds as far as possible. Pile on a serving dish and pour or scatter over the other ingredients. Mix well before eating.

Click here for a link to the book: Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking

Sunday
Apr212013

Lamb Dolmas with Dill Zabaglione

Things have been pretty boring in the Baketard household the past few months. I mentioned in a previous post that we were cutting out the booze and most of the carbs for the new year, and for the most part we did—David and I completed our diet challenge with our trainer, Anna the Horrible. What does that mean?  Well, she will now be required to do a workout of OUR choosing for an hour while we watch from comfy yoga mats, eating fried chicken. Oh, and in addition to the gloating rights, we both lost between 25-30 lbs each in the process of doing this.  We can get back into our tube tops and hot pants for summer.

Surprisingly, the diet wasn’t too tough, and throwing a dinner party here and there to eat a few things we enjoy didn’t hurt.  I’ll post some of the healthy recipes we loved throughout the diet in a later post (I really did find/concoct some great stuff in SPITE of it being healthy), but in the mean time, let’s talk about one of the splurge dinners and one of my favorite do-ahead appetizers.

I love Dolmas. I’ve had good dolmas, I’ve had bad dolmas, and I’ve had middle of the road dolmas. This recipe makes the best fucking dolmas I’ve ever tasted.  It comes from Wayne Johnson, formerly of Andaluca and now Ray’s Boathouse in Seattle. Chef Johnson taught us to make this recipe years ago at a charity event called Cooking with Class, run by my friend Connie Adams. (You should check this out, because it’s a fun hands-on cooking event with wine pairings, a fun auction and it benefits a great cause where the proceeds go to benefit seniors in our community. Keep gramma off the streets! She’s not to be trusted). These dolmas blew us away then, and they continue to do the same today. Honestly, I made these as one of my dishes for my International Cuisine final in culinary school and they guaranteed me an A.

There’s no big complicated trick here. When I make these I line a half hotel pan with grape leaves, place the rolled dolmas inside and put another half pan on top, weighing it down as much as possible with cans of water (The weight helps with the absorption). You can use whatever pans/dishes you have as long as they’re stackable. The dolmas can be assembled and cooked a day ahead, and re-steamed briefly before serving. They’re fine at room temperature, but better warm.

The zabaglione needs to be made fairly close to the time you serve the dish, but it’s a quick process. These will seriously be the most kick ass dolmas you’ve ever eaten. Trust me. Would I lie to you?

Lamb Dolmas

Chef Wayne Johnson

Yield: 6 Servings

Ingredients:

Dolmas

▪1 Tablespoon olive oil

▪1 pound lamb, lean ground

▪1 pound onion, small dice

▪½ cup red bell pepper, small dice

▪1 cup basmati rice

▪2 teaspoons salt

▪1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

▪¾ cup tomato purée

▪2 Tablespoons currants

▪¼ cup pine nuts, toasted

▪2 Tablespoons craisins™

▪¼ cup Italian parsley, minced

▪2 Tablespoons oregano, minced

▪2 Tablespoons mint, minced

▪3 Tablespoons dill, minced

▪Grape leaves, as needed, rinsed & drained

▪½ cup lemon juice

▪3 cups chicken broth

▪6 sprigs thyme, for garnish

Zabaglione

▪4 egg yolks

▪2 Tablespoons lemon juice, fresh

▪6 Tablespoons chicken stock

▪½ cup olive oil

▪1 Tablespoon dill, fresh minced

▪¾ teaspoon salt, kosher

▪Pinch of white pepper finely ground

Instructions:

For Dolmas: Break up lamb with whisk for small and uniform pieces. In sauté pan over medium high heat cook lamb and onion in olive oil until well-browned. Add bell pepper, rice, salt and cayenne and sauté 2 more minutes.

Add tomato purée, currants, half the pine nuts, craisins, Italian parsley, oregano, mint and dill and heat through. Remove from heat. Let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until cool.

On work surface, arrange grape leaves, shiny side down. Place 1 ounce filling per leaf, roll up, folding sides in burrito-style. Dolmas must be rolled neatly and tightly to cook correctly.

Line deep casserole with small or torn grape leaves. Place in pan seam-side down. Fit snugly but not packed together. Line entire pan with Dolmas. Cover with additional grape leaves.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bring lemon juice and chicken broth to boil, then pour over Dolmas. Weigh down Dolmas by placing small, perforated cooling rack upside down on top. Cover pan with foil sealed well. Bake 1 hour or until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. Remove foil. Let cool. Can be stored up to 5 days in airtight container in refrigerator.

For Zabaglione: Combine egg yolks, lemon juice and stock over double boiler. Whisk constantly over medium high heat until mixture is pale yellow, fluffy and thickened. Slowly add olive oil to incorporate. Whisk in dill, salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Zabaglione will last 4 hours at room temperature.

To Serve: Steam Dolmas 5 minutes or until hot. Place 3 Dolmas per plate, corners on top of each other at right angles. Sauce Zabaglione across Dolmas, covering each one. Sprinkle pine nuts across Dolmas, place dill sprigs in upper right corner of plate.

 

 

Saturday
Oct062012

Queso Fundido with Chorizo

Cheese. I just love Cheese. Reaaaaaaaaaaally I do.  If you're not old enough to remember that Loony Tunes line, begone. We are unable to use cheese, say cheese or think of cheese without blurting out this line. I can't remember what I had for dinner last night, but ridiculous cartoon lines from childhood are seared into my memory forever.

What are the lines you can't get rid of?

This recipe is one of my favorite easy Tex-Mex beauties from Chef Stephan Pyles' book, New Texas Cuisine. It's one of three Tex-Mex books he has published, all of which play largely into our repertoire when we cater Southwestern or Mexican themed parties. His recipes work--every time--and this one has always been a hit. It doesn't hurt that you can assemble the main mass of cheeses well in advance of the party, sautee your chorizo (you want the ground, crumbly and spicy Mexican chorizo for this, not the harder, cured Spanish type), chiles and onions ahead of time and have them ready to go. You can throw these ingredients together after the initial melting of the queso base and blast 'em in the oven as instructed below right before your guests arrive (Unless you're a complete glutton and have decided to shove three quarters of a pound of cheese into your own piehole in one sitting, in which case I applaud and am slightly repulsed by you).

For the photo above, I doubled the recipe for a hungry crowd. And since it's hard to get just 4oz of chorizo, I bought a pound, increased the onions, chiles and spices accordingly, and piled that on to the melted cheese mound for the last few minutes in the oven. What's not to love about more meat? (Just don't. It's too easy).

It's not fancy. It's not my norm with all the Asian and Italian recipes I toss up to this blog, but I love Southwestern, Tex-Mex and true Mexican food, and while I was going through photos and recipes this morning this one caught my eye. Besides, you'll appreciate how all that cheese binds you up before you dig into the later courses of beans and spices. Trust me.

And I still want to hear the lines from childhood you can't get out of your head.

Queso Fundido With Chorizo

Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 small onions, chopped
  • 1 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapenos, seeded and diced
  • 2 ounces chorizo sausage
  • 4 ounces mozzarella cheese, cubed
  • 4 ounces monterey jack cheese, cubed
  • 3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • 6 small flour tortillas
Directions
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place an 8 inch casserole in oven while preparing the fundido.
  • Heat oil in skillet over medium high heat until slightly smoking. Add onion, garlic and pepper and cook for one minute stirring constantly.
  • Add chorizo and break up while coooking for about 10 minutes.
  • Remove the casserole from oven. Spread the cheeses over hot bottom of dish. Return the dish to oven and bake until cheese is just melted, about five minutes.
  • Remove from oven and sprinkle chorizo mixture over top. Return to oven and heat for about three minutes.
  • Serve with warmed tortillas.

 

Tuesday
Sep252012

Thai Galloping Horses - Ma Hor

Ok, kids…Ready for some of the most intriguing and delicious Thai food you’ve ever tried? This is one of those recipes where you completely control that delicate balance of hot/sour/salty/sweet for which Thai food is so well known.  And as an added serendipitous surprise, the recipe (called Ma Hor) is named after your mom! How could you NOT try it?

This recipe is modified (via Australian Gourmet Traveller--best cooking magazine in the world, IMHO) from David Thompson’s book, Thai Food (or Thai Cookery if you couldn’t wait to order the book when it was released in the US, and ordered it from Australia. It’s the same book either way). If you like Thai cuisine, both his Thai Food book and his Thai Street Food tome are the authoritative books on the subject. Supplement it with Chef McDang’s Principles of Thai Cookery and you’ve got the wide spectrum covered at a high level.

Ok, it can be a bitch to find quail if you don’t have an Asian grocery. Seattleites, I found it frozen at Uwajimaya for about 8 bucks for 4 semi-boneless quails. Yes, it’s a little bit of work to remove the meat from their tiny little bodies, but this dish is seriously worth the effort. If you can’t find quail or you’re a lazyass, you can substitute chicken thigh meat for the poultry in this recipe. If you’re going to do that because you’re a lazyass, you can also substitute a cup of Mrs. Butterworth’s mixed with a can of tuna for the fish sauce caramel, and a 7-11 package of corn nuts for the fried peanuts and shallots. And then you can fuck off. How dare you shortcut your mother's namesake dish?!?!?

Not kidding, this recipe was our hit of the summer. I’ve made it as an appetizer a few times and it instantly disappears from the serving plate every time. You can make the meat and caramel mixture (up through step 3 below) ahead of time and reheat it once you want to serve it on the pineapple slices. Just be sure to add the last half of the fried items and garnishes at the end (step 4) so they don’t get soggy. It’s how your mom would want it.

Ma hor (Galloping horses)

Serves 12

Cooking Time Prep time 40 mins, cook 20 mins (plus cooling)

2 tbsp peanut oil

150 gm each coarsely minced pork and minced quail (see note)

150 gm  peeled medium uncooked prawns, coarsely chopped

165 gm  crushed light palm sugar

125 ml (½ cup) fish sauce

80 gm each fried shallots and fried garlic (see note)

50 gm  roasted unsalted peanuts, coarsely crushed

1  pineapple, quartered, core removed, thinly sliced

To serve:  julienned long red chilli, kaffir lime leaf and coriander leaves

Coriander and garlic paste

8 coriander roots, scrubbed

8 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

½ tsp white peppercorns

2 tbsp peanut oil

 

  1. Heat one-third of oil on the flat plate of a barbecue, cook pork until cooked through (2-3 minutes), season to taste, remove, drain on absorbent paper, set aside to cool. Repeat with quail and prawns, cooking separately.
  2. For coriander and garlic paste, pound coriander, garlic and peppercorns in a mortar and pestle to a fine paste. Heat oil in a frying pan over high heat, add paste and fry until fragrant (1-2 minutes).
  3. Add palm sugar and fish sauce to coriander and garlic paste, simmer until slightly thickened (4-5 minutes). Add pork, quail and prawns and stir until reduced (3-4 minutes). Stir through half of each of the fried shallots, fried garlic and peanuts and set aside to cool slightly.
  4. Top pineapple slices with pork mixture, scatter with julienned chilli, lime leaf and coriander and serve with remaining fried shallots, fried garlic and peanuts.

Note You will need to order minced quail from your butcher. If it's unavailable, you can mince it yourself, or substitute coarsely minced chicken thigh. Fried shallots and fried garlic are available from Asian grocers.

Friday
Jul222011

3 Chicks One Plate

This post is about Fried Chicken. What did you THINK it was about? Sickos. 

I loooooooves me some fried chicken. It seems like everyone does, and everyone has their own special way of making it. It’s one of those things like meat loaf, where we all have that nostalgia factor going on when we eat it, and usually the best version is the one we remember from way back, or the one mom taught us to cook. 

My mom made amazing fried chicken, and it always included mashed potatoes, corn, and cream gravy. For whatever reason, I don’t ever make it the way she did though. (Probably because my gravy never tastes as good as hers did.) When I make fried chicken, I follow my friend Clara’s lead. Clara is an amazing cook who does a ton of delicious Asian dishes. Her fried chicken drumettes are what bring all the boys to her front yard. They’re simple, crispy, sweet and salty. I can spend days slaving over an elaborate menu for friends and I guarantee you, the recipe they’ll clamor for are these drumettes. It never ceases to make me grind my teeth and shake my fist in the air, but I get it. They’re delicious. Because I’m a giver, I’m sharing them with you along with my favorite Korean fried chicken recipe (taken from Australian Gourmet Traveller, my favorite cooking magazine) and one done with my favorite barbecue sauce, modified from the recipe I use for Oola’s Crispy Fried Ribs. My partner David pointed out that I would be remiss not to acknowledge him having to stand in the driveway cooking batch after batch of drumettes in the turkey fryer for the 4th of July. Thanks, honey!

Enjoy! Betcha can’t eat just one…. 

Ingredients

Fried Chicken Drumettes:

48 Chicken Drumettes or Wings

2 cups cornstarch

Canola oil, for frying 

Clara’s Magic Drumette Sauce:

2 cups soy sauce

¾ cup sugar

1/8 cup dried chili flakes

¼ cup garlic, peeled and chopped

¼ cup ginger, peeled and chopped 

Korean Fried Chicken Chile Sauce:

¼ cup gochujang (Note from Marc-You can find this in any Asian market. If you can’t find this ingredient, a good substitution is not to make it at all—quit your bitching. This isn’t Sandra Lee and sometimes you cant get by subbing in a cup of ketchup or hiding it under some frozen tater tots.)

3/4 cup gochujang

2 tbsp each soy sauce and rice vinegar

1 tbsp honey

2 tsp sesame oil

2 tsp sugar

2 tsp ginger (about 1” piece), finely grated

1  garlic clove, finely chopped 

Modified Oola Sauce:

6 large garlic cloves, minced

1/2  cup sliced fresh ginger plus 1/4 cup minced (6 ounces total)

6 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated

1 1/2 cups soy sauce

1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro                  

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 cups lightly packed brown sugar

1 cup ketchup

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1/8 cup toasted, ground Sichuan peppercorns (optional…I like the tongue numbing, citrusy smack this adds to the sauce) 

Preparation:

For Clara’s Magic Sauce:

  1. Put soy sauce and sugar in a small saucepan and heat over low heat until sugar has dissolved and incorporated into the soy. Add remaining ingredients and reduce sauce by 1/3. Do this slowly, as the soy sauce will burn and turn bitter if you boil it too vigorously.

For Korean Sauce:

  1. Combine ingredients in a large bowl, season to taste with freshly ground pepper and set aside.

For the Oola Sauce:

  1. In a large saucepan, heat 1/4 cup of the vegetable oil. Add the minced garlic and ginger and the scallion greens and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add soy sauce, the brown sugar, ketchup and crushed red pepper and bring to a boil. Add vinegar and Sichuan peppercorn, if using. Cook over moderately high heat for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and add the chopped cilantro. Transfer the rib sauce to a large bowl.

For the Chicken:

  1. Put the cornstarch in a large freezer bag and add the drumettes. Seal and shake to ensure all of the drumettes are well covered by the cornstarch.
  2. Heat oil to 350 degrees Farenheit. Cook the drumettes in batches in the hot oil, cooking until the chicken turns golden brown, about 8-10 minutes per batch. It is critical that you let the oil return to 350 degrees before you add the next batch.
  3. Place chicken on a baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain. (Note: As counter-intuitive as it seems you can fry the chicken earlier in the day and even freeze the pieces (once cooled) individually on a sheet pan and transfer to a freezer bag. Just before serving, put the chicken on a sheet pan and blast in a high oven (425-450 degrees) until brown and sizzling, about 8 minutes. You wont be able to tell these didn’t just come out of the hot oil. If you’re planning to do this, cook the chicken in your initial batch a couple of minutes less than you would if you were serving it right away.)
  4. Divide the chicken and dredge in Clara’s Magic Sauce or the Oola Sauce. For the Korean Fried Chicken, toss the chicken in a large bowl with the chile sauce mixture. Garnish with sliced scallions.
  5. Stand back. Your guests will eat the fuck out of this chicken and you dont want to get in their way.