chinese frittata with chinese sausage and chives

DSC02392

Big Mac joke! No kidding. McDonald’s in Thailand serves Chinese rice porridge or joke for breakfast. It comes with bits of shredded chicken that reminds me of a crispy fried chicken nugget. It’s not bad, though. It’s hardly a culinary triumph but I like trying East-West Fusion food, some of it is not bad, like the time I put krapow gai (Thai basil chicken) in a shepherd’s pie! But some of my experiments need more work, like the penne with Chinese sausage and flowering chives. Well, I tried again, this time in a frittata, an Italian style omelet. The Thais have an omelet called kai jio which is absolutely delicious but I hate to use the cupful of oil it requires to make this. In this frittata, the eggs are salty but not oily, the sausage is sweet and crisp, and the chives are mellow. Yum.

Ingredients
1 cup Chinese sausage sliced on the diagonal
1/2 cup Chinese chives, diced
5 eggs, well beaten
salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons olive oil
Sriracha sauce, for serving

Heat a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage in a single layer and cook until the bottom is browned. Flip once to brown the second side, about 1 minute per side. Remove from heat and put in a small bowl. Set aside.

In the pan, stir fry the chives until wilted and bright green. Remove from heat. Meanwhile, beat the eggs in a medium bowl, and add a teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper to the eggs. Blend well. Mix in the cooked chives.

Heat oil in the pan over medium heat. When it is hot, pour in the beaten egg mixture and layer the sausage on top. Cover the skillet and cook, covered, five minutes or until the eggs are set and the bottom is golden brown. When you take off the lid, you will see the eggs are puffy and they will immediately deflate. Flip the eggs over to brown the top. You can do this with a wide spatula or you can flip the eggs out onto a large plate then slide them back in the pan with the white side down. Brown for 1-2 minutes. Slide the frittata out onto the plate, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Slice into wedges and serve with Sriracha sauce.

DSC02398

Advertisements

chicken, avocado, and bacon sandwich

DSC02391

My sister-in-law gave me five whole wheat buns. That was the inspiration and the basis for this recipe. I grilled breaded chicken tenders which were just the right length for these small buns, then topped them with a little chicken gravy, avocado slices, romaine lettuce and crisp bacon. It was the perfect light supper.

scenes at the mall: a northern Thai village dining experience

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
Create a free slideshow

We went to Seacon Square for lunch today and discovered a recreation of a northern Thai village market in the mall’s atrium. We took off our shoes and sat on the mat around a khantoke or pedestal tray, eating food we purchased from the hawker stalls: somtam, roasted sticky rice, khao soi, and more. It brought back memories of our trip to Chiang Mai six years ago.

little wonton shepherd’s pies

DSC02352

I’m a copycat, I admit it! I get inspired by other people’s recipes. This one called Petite Wonton Shepherd’s Pies was from Hungry Girl, but I changed it up by using mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potato and ground chicken breast instead of turkey. Since I’m an old hand at making shepherd’s pies I did not follow a recipe but I’ll list the ingredients (roughly speaking). We ate these for a light supper but they will make a great appetizer too.

1 medium head caulflower florets, stem discarded
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon milk
olive oil
1/2 pound ground chicken breast
1 teaspoon fish sauce (nampla)
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 1/2 cups mixed frozen vegetables (e.g. peas and carrots)
1 cup chicken gravy from a packet
1 package square wonton skins

Heat the oven to 400˚F. Brush the inside of a small 12 cup muffin tin with olive oil. Line each cup with a wonton skin. Fold it to fit the cup if necessary. The extra bits of dough will hang over the edge of each cup like a four-point star.

Boil a large pot of water filled 1/3 full. Add the cauliflower florets and cook 4-6 minutes or until tender. Drain and put florets into the workbowl of a food processor. Pulse 3-4 times, adding 1 teaspoon milk to moisten the vegetable. Season to taste.

Cook the frozen vegetables in hot boiling water about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a small skillet and cook the ground chicken until it just turns white. Set aside.

To assemble the wonton pies, put a spoonful of vegetable in each cup. Top with a spoonful of meat. Drizzle a spoonful of gravy on top. Generously top with a tablespoon of mashed cauliflower. If desired, sprinkle a little seasoning salt on top. Bake 15 minutes or until the edges of the wonton are crisp and brown. Serve hot.

Variation
I made my own quick and easy chicken gravy! Melt 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter in a skillet. Remove from heat. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons flour and whisk to combine. Return to heat and add 1 cup water and 1/2 chicken bouillon cube. Stir often until it begins to bubble. Add 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Season with onion powder, garlic powder, and herbs, if desired. Taste, and if desired, add salt. As the gravy gets hotter, it will thicken–no need to add more flour.

DSC02356

orange angel food cake with fresh caramel sauce and tropical fruit compote

DSC02338I made this cake for AJ’s birthday two years ago, so I thought I would revisit this recipe for Andy’s birthday. This time I made a tropical fruit compote as an accompaniment. Don’t be tempted to save time and buy a jar of caramel sauce! This caramel sauce is so buttery and fresh, you’ll want to wipe up the plate with a piece of cake.

Orange Angel Food Cake with Caramel Sauce and Tropical Fruit Compote (adapted from bon appétit)

10 SERVINGS

INGREDIENTS
CARAMEL SAUCE
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
Pinch of salt

CAKE
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1 cup cake flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups egg whites (about 9 large)
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 cup superfine sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated orange peel
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

TROPICAL FRUIT COMPOTE
2 navel oranges
3 ripe golden kiwi, peeled, quartered lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
1 ripe mango cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 cups cantaloupe cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1/2 cup fresh pineapple cut into 1/2-inch chunks
3 Kluay Namwah (aka Finger Banana or Dwarf Banana) sliced
1 to 2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons dark Jamaican rum, optional

PREPARATION
SAUCE Combine sugar and 1/3 cup water in heavy medium saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high; boil without stirring until syrup is deep amber, occasionally brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush and swirling pan, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Carefully add cream (mixture will bubble vigorously). The caramel will harden into a lump. Place pan over low heat; stir until caramel dissolves and sauce is smooth. Remove from heat; add butter, cardamom, and pinch of salt; stir until butter melts. Cool. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 week ahead. Cover; chill. Bring to room temperature or re-warm over low heat before using.

CAKE Preheat oven to 350°F. Sift powdered sugar, flour, and salt 3 times. Place in medium bowl.

Separate eggs when cold. Then allow whites to come to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

Using electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat egg whites in a large bowl until foamy, about 1 minute. Add cream of tartar; beat until whites are opaque and soft peaks form, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium high. Gradually add superfine sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until whites are thick and shiny and fluffy peaks form (peaks should droop over gently; do not overbeat). This should take 1-3 minutes.

Cake Baker’s Note: In this next step it’s essential that you SIFT the flour over the egg whites or it will not combine.

Add orange peel and vanilla to egg whites; beat just until blended. Sift 1/4 cup of flour mixture over whites. Using large rubber spatula, gently fold flour mixture into whites. Repeat with remaining flour mixture 1/4 cup at a time.

Cake Baker’s Note: To fold in flour, cut with the edge of the spatula down the middle. Scraping along the bottom, bring the spatula under the flour to the side of the bowl. Fold the batter over the flour. Turn the bowl one-quarter turn. Repeat: cut, fold, turn until all the flour is incorporated. See YouTube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rLQFfolobY for a folding demonstration.

Transfer batter to ungreased 10-inch-diameter angel food cake pan with removable bottom and 4-inch-high sides; smooth top with an off set spatula. Lightly run a skewer through the batter to remove any air bubbles. Bake cake until golden and springy to touch, about 50 minutes. Immediately invert pan onto countertop if pan has feet, or invert center tube of pan onto neck of bottle or funnel. Cool cake completely,1-2 hours. Gently tap bottom edge of pan on work surface while rotating pan until cake loosens. Transfer to platter. DO AHEAD Can be made 8 hours ahead. Cover with cake dome; let stand at room temperature.

TROPICAL FRUIT COMPOTE Cut all peel and white pith from oranges. If orange segments are large, cut each in half or thirds. Add remaining fruits and sugar. If desired, add 2 tablespoons rum to the compote. Toss gently to combine. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover and chill.

Slice cake; transfer to plates. Spoon compote alongside and pour the caramel in a pool so the cake and the fruit can get some of that sweet goodness.

recipe redux: chinese barbecued spareribs and sesame noodles

Chinese barbecued spare ribs with string beans in ginger and garlic on a bed of sesame noodles

My sister-in-law requested this recipe for Patricia Yeo’s Sesame Noodles (from Food 52). We had it for dinner made with a home-made sesame dressing rather than with tahini sauce, and the taste was superior. For the Chinese barbecued spare rib recipe follow this link. So, Mimi, bon appétit.

Sesame Noodles (adapted from Patricia Yeo’s Sesame Noodles)

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 1-10 minutes depending on whether you are using fresh or dried noodles
Servings: 6 as a main dish, 8 to 10 as a side dish

For the sesame dressing:
3/4 cup white sesame seeds plus 1 tablespoon
7 tablespoons peanut oil (I used rice bran oil)
3 medium or 2 large shallots (I used one large onion)
1 large clove garlic, minced (I used 2 garlic cloves)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup sugar (or to taste)
1 teaspoon hot chile paste
3/4 to 1 cup water (or less)
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

For the noodles:
12 ounces dry spaghetti pasta (or fresh Chinese egg noodles, if available)
3 tablespoons peanut oil (I used rice bran oil)
1 cup blanched snow peas (I used asparagus in the photo. Green beans will do too)
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced, optional
1 cup daikon radish, thinly sliced, optional
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup chopped peanuts (I used whole peanuts)
1 cup scallions, thinly sliced on the bias

Preparation

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add the sesame seeds and toast, stirring,  until golden brown and fragrant, about 5-10 minutes. Be careful not to burn them. Put the toasted seeds in a blender. Save the skillet for the next step.

Cook’s Note: The original recipe says to toast the sesame seeds in a 350˚F oven for 10-15 minutes. I find the toasting them on the stove top is faster.

In the empty skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-low heat. Sauté the shallots or onion and garlic until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Add the shallots or onion, garlic, remaining 6 tablespoons peanut oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, and chile paste to the sesame seeds in the blender. Blend on high speed just until a thick, rough paste forms, 2 to 3 minutes. Stop blending when most of the seeds have broken up and been puréed. After the paste forms, it will begin to get oily if you continue to purée it, as the seeds begin to give off their oil. Taste and adjust seasonings by adding more sugar, chile paste, and/or soy sauce.

Cook’s Note: The original recipe recommends putting up the puree in the refrigerator for a day, to give the flavors time to develop.  This is not necessary, however.

Bring a large pot of unsalted water to a rolling boil. Cook the noodles according to package directions. If using fresh Chinese egg noodles, gently fluff the noodles and add them to the water, stirring. Return the water to a boil and cook the noodles for just 10 to 30 seconds. Drain the noodles immediately and cool them under cold running water. Drain well. Put the cold noodles in a bowl and toss with 3 tablespoons oil.

To dress the drained cooled noodles, drain off any oil that has gathered on the top of the purée. Whisk about 3/4 cup water into the purée to thin it and to reach a creamy consistency; the sauce will lighten in color and emulsify. Add more water as needed. Add the chopped cilantro to the dressing.

Cook’s Note: Adding the chopped cilantro is optional at this point because it will be added as a garnish on top of the noodles at the end.

In a large bowl, toss the noodles with about half the dressing. Add the snow peas or asparagus, red pepper, and daikon, if using, and gently toss to combine (using a pair of silicone tipped tongs is recommended). Taste and add more dressing if desired. Put the noodles in a large serving bowl or on individual plates. Garnish with the cilantro leaves, chopped peanuts, and sliced scallions, or pass little bowls of the garnishes at the table.

apple tart with almond cream

DSC02320

It’s a steaming hot night so of course, I decided to bake. I wanted to bake apple tarts with almond cream from a Food and Wine recipe.  The top one is made with Asian pear while the one on the bottom is Granny Smith apple. The almond cream inside these tarts is made of chopped almonds, butter, eggs, a bit of flour and sugar, and a tablespoon of rum. Both tarts are liberally sprinkled with turbinado sugar and ready to go into the hot oven. These tartlettes were ready in 30 minutes rather than the 1 hour baking time. The crust was flaky and the almond cream was lightly sweet. And the fruit! Oh, the Asian pear is a fruit I’ve come to respect as something versatile enough to eat raw in a salad and baked up in a tart.

Baked Pastry Shell

Prep time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Baking time: 25 minutes

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons (2 oz) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
2 to 3 tablespoons ice water

Preheat the oven to 400°. In a food processor, pulse the flour and salt. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles small peas. Add the egg yolk and 2 tablespoons of ice water and pulse just until the dough holds together when pinched. If needed, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of ice
water to the dough.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic and chill until firm, 1 hour.

Cake Baker’s Note: I didn’t have a 9 inch tart pan but I had two eight-inch non-stick tartlette pans. I divided the dough between them. It tore in places but I used the extra dough to patch it.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a 12-inch round, about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer to a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Push a rolling pin over the top to trim any overhang. Prick the bottom in several places with a fork.

Cake Baker’s Note: I didn’t have pie weights so I used dried beans. Improvise!

Line the tart shell with foil and fill with pie weights. Bake for 25 minutes, until the shell is lightly colored around the edges. Remove the foil and weights and bake for 10 minutes, or until golden. Let cool before filling.

Cake Baker’s Note: The tartlettes did not need the extra 10 minutes, so I skipped this step. It’s best to go with how the shell looks rather than follow the recipe exactly. And because I was anxious to get to the next step, I popped the pastry shells in the freezer to speed up the cooling. While they were cooling I made the filling.

Apple Tart with Almond Cream

Prep time: 20 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes

1 cup slivered almonds (about 4 ounces)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter,softened, plus 1 tablespoon melted butter, for brushing
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon dark rum
Baked Pastry Shell
1 Asian pear and 1 Granny Smith apple peeled, halved, cored and sliced 1/8 inch thick (3 golden delicious apples in original recipe)
1/4 cup turbinado sugar

Preheat the oven to 400°. In a food processor, process 3/4 cup almonds until finely ground. Transfer to a medium bowl. Pulse the remaining 1/4 cup almonds, until coarsely chopped–about four or five pulses. Transfer to the bowl. Add the granulated sugar, flour and salt and toss gently to combine.

In another bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat the 4 tablespoons of butter until creamy. Add the almond mixture all at once and beat until blended. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the rum. At this stage, the almond cream has the most wonderful smell.

Spread the almond filling in the Baked Pastry Shell. Arrange the apple slices on top in concentric circles. Brush the apple slices with the melted butter and sprinkle with the brown sugar.

Cake Baker’s Note: I skipped the melted butter.

Bake the tart for 1 hour, until the filling is set and the apples are browned and tender. Transfer the tart to a rack and let cool slightly. Remove the ring (if your tart pan is two piece) and serve the tart warm or at room temperature.

Cake Baker’s Note: My tarts were ready in 30 minutes. I recommend checking the tart after 30 minutes to see if additional baking time is needed. A tester inserted in the center should come out clean or with a few crumbs attached. If it is still moist and shiny, give it another 5 minutes.

The baked pastry shell can be made a day ahead. The tart can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature for a day. But in Bangkok’s heat, I’d refrigerate it.

DSC02327

jade garden@the montien hotel

A couple of weeks ago when we were at the Montien enjoying Hainanese Chicken Rice, we passed another in-house restaurant called the Jade Garden which serves all you can eat Chinese dimsum for Baht 300 (about US$10.00) per person. To enjoy it we ate only a bit of toast for breakfast so we were ravenous for dimsum. We tried to do it justice.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
Picture slideshow made with Smilebox

I didn’t care too much for the fried cakes but the steamed dimsum was delectable. Everything had shrimp in it which was great because it was fresh and steamed until it was just done. The best was the shrimp wrapped in fish with slivers of ginger–the ginger wasn’t overpowering, just a discreet note to remind you it’s there to counter the blandness of the seafood. There was soup, too, but rather indifferent. Maybe that’s why I forgot to take a picture! I ordered the wonton soup, shrimp of course, but the soup itself  lacked the delicate dimensions of flavor you get when it steeps in ginger and scallion. It looked and tasted like a Knorr bouillon cube–salty and flat. Now, I don’t mind Knorr because I use it as a shortcut when my recipes call for stock, but when a soup is on display, you don’t want that shortcut. For dessert we both ordered the sesame dumplings in warm ginger syrup. I love it. The syrup is spicy and warm and the dumpling, when you suck on it, pulls apart on your tongue leaving a wonderful sweet sesame grit. It’s like eating sand if it were edible and made of sesame and sugar.

 

cajun seasoned whitefish with red beans and rice

Cajun seasoned whitefish, curried root vegetables, red beans and rice
Whitefish with cajun seasoning, curried root vegetables, red beans and rice
Whitefish with cajun seasoning, curried root vegetables, red beans and rice

Many cultures of the Caribbean have their own version of  what we call rice and peas in Jamaica. It is basically rice and kidney beans cooked in coconut milk  and salted pig’s tail. This version called red beans and rice,  is from the Southern US, most likely Louisiana, via Emeril Lagasse. Instead of cooking the rice with the kidney beans, meat,  and other seasonings, the rice is cooked separately. Red beans and rice is quite easy to make but time-consuming, taking up to 2 hours to make. I halved the recipe and made some adaptations

Red Beans and Rice

Prep time: 5 hours 20 minutes
Cook time: 2 hours
Servings: 4

Ingredients:
1cup dried red beans, rinsed and picked over
1  tablespoon rice bran oil (bacon grease in the original recipe)
2 1/4 cups chopped ham, divided
1 cup chopped yellow onions
1/3 cup chopped Chinese celery (celery in the original recipe)
1/3 cup chopped spur chilies (green bell peppers in the original recipe)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch cayenne
1  large bay leave
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
1 teaspoons dried thyme  (or 2 teaspoons fresh)
1/2 cup smoked sausage, split in half lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped garlic
5 cups chicken stock, or water (I used 3 chicken bouillon cubes)
2 cups cooked long grain brown rice (long grain white rice in the original)
1/4 cup green onions, sliced on the bias,  optional

Preparation:
Place the beans in a large bowl or pot and cover with water by 2 inches. Let soak for 8 hours or overnight. Drain and
set aside. Meanwhile make the rice in a rice cooker and leave it on the keep warm feature until ready to serve.

Cook’s Note: I soaked the beans for 5 hours on the counter top. Then I cooked them in the pressure cooker for 8 minutes. Drain the beans and set aside.

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add 1/4 cup of the ham and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the
onions, celery and peppers to the pot. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne, and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are softened, about 4 minutes.

Add the bay leaf, cilantro, thyme, sausage, and the remainder of the ham, then cook, stirring, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the beans and stock or water, stir well, and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender and the liquid starts to thicken, about 2 hours. (If  the beans become too thick and dry, add more water, about 1/4 cup at a time.)

Cook’s Note: I checked the beans every 30 minutes to make sure they weren’t drying out. At first I had the heat turned to medium low, but that was too low to cook and thicken the gravy. The liquid in the pot should bubble gently, so adjust the heat accordingly. In the last half hour of cooking, prep the fish and fry it. See instructions below.

I served the red beans and rice with whitefish seasoned with Cajun seasoning. Pat two whitefish fillets dry with paper towels, then liberally sprinkle each side with Cajun seasoning. Heat  1 tablespoon oil in a 10 inch skillet over medium high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the fillets. Cook on one side 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. Flip and cook on the second side 3-4 more minutes. You’ll know the fillets are done when the meat flakes easily when gently prodded with a fork. Before serving, sprinkle fillets with salt and pepper, if desired.

Remove the pot of beans from the heat and with the back of a wooden spoon, mash about 1/4 of the beans against the side of the pot.

Cook’s Note: Alternatively, remove about a cupful of beans and ham and simply mash the beans in a bowl  with a fork then return the smashed beans and ham to the pot.

Continue to cook until the beans are fork tender but look firm, and the liquid in the pot has turned reddish brown and thickened, 15 to 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and remove the bay leaves. Serve over rice and garnish with green onions.