downy yellow bundt butter cake

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I love the way this cake turned out! It has a wonderful vanilla scent, and the crumb is moist and tender. The foolproof way to make this wonderful cake is to weigh the ingredients. Grams are more accurate than ounces. Instead of baking a layer cake, I made a bundt. I glazed it with a tart lemon-lime glaze which tempers the sweetness.

All-Occasion Downy Yellow Butter Cake (Adapted from: The Cake Bible)

Have at room temperature:
6 (112g) large egg yolks
1 (242g) cup milk
2 1/4 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups (300g) sifted cake flour
1 1/2 (338g) cups superfine or caster sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 (170g) tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350˚F/180˚C. Grease and flour:
• Two 9×1 1/2 inch cake pans, bottom lined with waxed paper or parchment, OR
• One 10×3 inch bundt cake pan (total: 12 cups)

In a medium bowl, lightly combine the yolks, 1/4 cup milk, and vanilla.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Blend on low speed 30 seconds.

Add butter and remaining milk. Mix until the dry ingredients are just moistened. Increase to medium speed and beat for 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape down the sides.

Gradually add the egg mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition. Scrape down the sides.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan(s). Smooth the top with a spatula. The pan(s) will be half full. Tap the pan(s) lightly on the counter then bake 25-35 minutes, or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean.

Cool the cake(s) in the pan on racks for 10 minutes. When the cake cools, it will begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. Invert the cake onto the wire rack to finish cooling.

When completely cooled, the cake layers can be frosted. For the bundt cake, I recommend glazing it. To make the glaze, add 1 tablespoon each lemon juice and lime juice to 1 cup powdered confectioner’s sugar. Whisk and pour over cooled cake.

turkey, leek, and winter melon shepherd’s pie with mashed cauliflower

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You could say I actually started cooking this dish the day after Christmas when I put the turkey carcass in the pressure cooker to make a broth. This recipe uses 2 cups of the broth and it is based on an Eating Well recipe. Since a shepherd’s pie is basically meat and vegetables,  you can use just about any meat and vegetable you have on hand. I used turkey and ham, fresh corn, frozen peas, a large fat carrot, and half of a winter melon. Instead of the traditional mashed potato topping for a shepherd’s pie, I used mashed cauliflower which is lower in carbs. And I added umami to flavor the pie. I made my own umami in New York from dried porcini mushrooms which I ground up in the food processor. Umami is sometimes called the fifth taste which simply means savory.

Turkey Leek and Winter Melon Shepherd’s Pie with Mashed Cauliflower (adapted from Eating Well)

Prep time: 20 minutes
Baking time: 25 minutes

Filling
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, well washed and thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced carrots
1 cup corn kernels (1 ear, fresh)
1 1/2 cups winter melon, peeled, seeded, and chopped
4 large cloves garlic,minced
1/3 cup dry white wine
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 tablespoon ground porcini mushrooms (umami)
2 cups reduced-sodium turkey broth
1 1/2 cups diced cooked turkey
1 cup diced cooked ham
1 cup frozen peas
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Mashed Cauliflower
1 large head cauliflower, florets only
1/2-3/4 tablespoon nonfat milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Preparation

Preheat oven to 425°F/220˚C.

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add leeks, carrots, corn, and winter melon and cook, stirring, until the leeks soften, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 30 seconds more.

Pour in wine and stir until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add flour, thyme, and umami, and cook, stirring constantly, until the flour starts to turn light brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in broth and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens and the carrots are barely tender, about 5 minutes.

Add turkey, ham, and peas and season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer the mixture to a deep 10-inch pie pan or other 2-quart baking dish and set aside.

To mash cauliflower and bake pie: Place florets in a large saucepan and add cold salted water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook, uncovered, until the florets are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and process in a food processor until smooth. Add milk if the florets are too dry. Season with salt and pepper.

Spread the cauliflower on top of the turkey mixture. With the back of a spoon, smooth the top. Set the dish on a baking sheet and bake until the cauliflower and filling are heated through and the top is golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes.

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getting creative with turkey dinner leftovers: rice bowl

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I love making my Aunt Cela’s “Chimaicanese” (thanks, Andrew Zimmern)  turkey dinner. It’s an annual event at our house. We invite our family and friends in Bangkok to share it with us. But we always have the problem of leftovers. It’s not really a problem because we love to savor the leftovers. And I love the challenge of finding creative ways to use them up. I found this idea on Calorie Count for a vegetarian rice bowl, but then I thought that some turkey and ham would really jazz this up. Later this morning,  our neighbor gave me a bowl of woon sen or Chinese rice noodles with shiitake mushrooms stewed in soy sauce, and I thought I’ll add it to the rice bowl too. Here’s the basic recipe for rice bowl for 4 people:

2 rice cooker cups uncooked sushi rice (cooked it will make enough rice for 4)
1 cup steamed broccoli and carrots, or steamed sugar snap peas
1 1/2 cups shredded cooked  turkey and/or ham (This being Christmas, but chicken will do too)
1 egg, poached or fried, per person

sour milk bundt cake with cranberries

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This is my 300th post! Yeay…

It’s been so hectic around here; no time for blogging. There were two whole days before Christmas devoted to baking. I baked three mini bundt cakes.  I baked the first two according to volume but the third was according to weight. It was moist and tender. I’m now convinced that weighing ingredients is the best method for baking. So you see, even old bags can learn new tricks!

This recipe was adapted from The Essential New York Times Cookbook recipe for sour milk cake. The name comes from a vinegar-milk mixture that sours the milk for baking. I often use sour milk in place of buttermilk in recipes, so it stands to reason that you could use buttermilk if you have it on hand. It’s just hard to come by in Bangkok. I used cranberries instead of the raisins because I prefer the tart flavor and they are firm and chewy when you bite into a baked cranberry.

Sour Milk Bundt Cake with Cranberries

Prep time: 30 minutes (includes cooling time)
Bake time: 35 minutes
Servings: 6-8

1 tablespoon butter, for greasing
75g dried cranberries, chopped (substitute: any chopped dried fruit)
260g all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
A pinch of salt
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon white vinegar (substitute: any kind of vinegar)
250ml whole milk
100g unsalted butter, softened
200g sugar
1 large egg

1 Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Grease and flour one 10 inch bundt cake pan. I used an 8″ bundt cake pan. The batter rose over the top, causing some anxious moments but it did not overflow.

2 Toss the chopped fruit with 1 teaspoon of the flour. Mix the remaining flour with the baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir the vinegar into the milk in a small bowl.

3 In a mixer fitted with a paddle (or in a large bowl), beat the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy. Add the egg and blend. Add 1/3 flour mixture and mix until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add half the milk and blend until just combined. Scrape down the sides. Add half the remaining flour and the remainder of the milk, beating after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add the remainder of the flour and beat until just combined. Scrape the sides. Fold in the chopped fruit mixture.

4 Pour the batter into the prepared bundt cake pan and level the top. Tap the pan lightly on the countertop to dislodge any bubbles in the batter. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes on a rack, then remove the cake from the pan. Dust with a little confectioner’s sugar and cinnamon, or glaze it if you wish.

roasted asian vegetable mac & cheese with chorizo and garlic-panko topping

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This is a multicultural mac and cheese! I love it. The great thing about mac and cheese is that it is adaptable and open to creative permutations. I adapted this recipe from howsweeteats.com, and though it took nearly two hours to make, it was well worth the wait. I made the following substitutions: I  used winter melon instead of zucchini, pumpkin instead of summer squash, red wine vinegar instead of balsamic, and chorizo instead of ham. As it is very difficult to get havarti cheese in Bangkok, I used ordinary white supermarket cheese.

Roasted Asian Vegetable Mac and Cheese with Chorizo and Garlic-Panko Topping

Prep time: 40 minutes (includes roasting vegetables)
Bake time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6-8

For Roasting Vegetables
4 cups fresh corn kernels (4 ears)
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cups winter melon, peeled, seeded, chopped (1/2 small winter melon)
2 cups pumpkin, peeled, seeded, chopped (1/2 small pumpkin)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon palm sugar dissolved in water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

For mac and cheese
2 cups chorizo sliced into 1/8 inch thick rounds
1 pound penne or small shell pasta
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 1/2 cups milk (2% or whole)
8 oz Havarti cheese
8 oz cheddar cheese
2 oz Parmesan cheese
6 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
pinch of salt
avocado slices for serving, optional
Maldon’s sea salt, optional

Preheat the oven to 400˚F/225˚C. Spray a 9×13 inch glass baking dish with cooking oil. Set aside. Cover a baking tray with foil. Set aside.

Remove the corn kernels from the cob and put in a large bowl with the pepper, onion, winter melon, and pumpkin. In a medium bowl, whisk the olive oil, vinegar, palm sugar solution, and salt and pepper. Spread the corn mixture evenly on the baking tray. Bake 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and reduce heat to 350˚F/180˚C. Don’t wash out the bowl. Add the chorizo slices to the bowl, and when the vegetables are roasted add them to the sausage too.

Cook’s Note: I used the palm sugar solution to add a little sweetness to the dressing. And I also wanted it to caramelize the vegetables.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta. One to two minutes before the pasta is cooked, remove from heat. Drain and rinse the pasta. Add the undercooked pasta to the bowl with the chorizo and vegetables. In a small bowl, put the breadcrumbs and mix with the minced/pressed garlic and a pinch of salt. Set aside.

In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter over medium high heat. When it bubbles, add the flour and whisk continuously for 2 minutes until the mixture thickens and browns. This is called roux. Slowly pour the milk into the roux, stirring constantly. Heat until the milk thickens slightly. Add all except 1/2 cup of the grated Havarti/cheddar cheeses and all of the Parmesan. Taste and add salt and pepper.

Add the cheese sauce to the bowl with the sausage, vegetables, and pasta. Toss to coat thoroughly. Pour the mixture in the prepared baking dish. Smooth the top. Sprinkle  remaining cheese on top, then the garlic-panko breadcrumb mixture. Bake 30 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Let the mac and cheese rest 10 minutes before serving. If desired, top with a slice of avocado sprinkled with a little sea salt. My husband prefers red pepper flakes on his mac and cheese.

cho-cho with scrambled egg, baby bokchoy, and crunchy baked pork chops

When I was growing up in Jamaica we had these green pear like vegetables we called cho-cho. It’s more commonly known as chayote in North America and choko in Australia. In Thailand it’s called fak miao which is really embarrassing to say as an English-speaker because it sounds like I’m swearing.  Cho-cho has a bland taste, and it cooks up soft, turning from a pale greenish white to a delicate jade green when fully cooked–which doesn’t take long at all.

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Cho-Cho with Scrambled Egg

1 cho-cho, peeled, seed scooped out,  and sliced thin crosswise
2 large eggs
1-2 teaspoons oyster sauce
4 tablespoons oil
1/2 – 1 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until frothy. Add the oyster sauce. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet. When the oil is hot, whisk the eggs one more time and pour all at once into the hot oil. Use a spatula to break up the curds. When the egg is cooked, remove to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.

Using the same skillet, add the cho-cho slices and cook, stirring all the time until the vegetable starts to wilt and the slices turn jade green. Add the salt. Return the cooked eggs to the skillet and combine. Serve hot.

I had signed up for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November so I wasn’t able to cook as often as I should have, especially when it got closer to the 30th and I was writing 3000 to 4000 words a day. Crunch time! I had bought baby bokchoy and winter melon (fak khiao or green melon in Thai) intending to cook them. Fortunately winter melon can keep in the fridge if it is uncut but the baby bokchoy’s outer leaves started to yellow after a week. So I plucked off the yellow leaves and washed the stems carefully. Dirt collects in the stems so I pulled the bunches apart to wash them. I had a sweet pepper too so I tossed that in too.

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Baby Bokchoy with Winter Melon and Sweet Pepper

1 pound baby bokchoy, stems washed and leaves separated from the bunch
1/2 winter melon, peeled, seeded, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2 inch thick slices
1/2 sweet bell pepper, seeded, thinly sliced and cut in half
2 large cloves garlic, minced or pressed
salt and pepper
nampla (fish sauce)
1 tablespoon oil

Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the sweet bell pepper and cook for thirty seconds. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add the winter melon and cook 2-3 minutes or until softened but still firm. Season with a little salt and pepper, not too much to finish, but just enough to flavor the vegetables. Add the baby bokchoy and cook until the leaves turn bright green. The stems should be crunchy, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle fish sauce over all, about 1 teaspoon. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve at once.

I served these two veggie dishes and mashed cauliflower as sides for these pork chops. They are so crunchy and garlicky, tender and moist.

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Crunchy Baked Pork Chops (Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)
Serves 4

Table salt
4 boneless center-cut pork chops, 6 to 8 ounces each, 3/4 to 1 inch thick, trimmed of excess fat
4 slices hearty white sandwich bread, torn into 1-inch pieces (I used whole wheat bread)
1/2 onion, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Ground black pepper
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves (I used 1 teaspoon dried)
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves (I used cilantro)
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3 large egg whites
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard (I substituted Coleman’s mustard)
Lemon wedges, optional

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Dissolve 1/4 cup salt in 1 quart water in a medium bowl. Submerge chops, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate 30 minutes. Rinse chops under cold water and dry thoroughly with paper towels. Set aside.

2. Meanwhile, pulse bread in food processor until coarsely ground, about eight 1-second pulses (you should have about 3 1/2 cups crumbs). Transfer crumbs to rimmed baking sheet and add shallot, garlic, oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Toss until crumbs are evenly coated with oil. Bake until deep golden brown and dry, about 15 minutes, stirring twice during baking time. (Do not turn off oven.) Cool to room temperature. Toss crumbs with Parmesan, thyme, and parsley. Set aside.

3. Place 1/4 cup flour in pie plate. In second pie plate, whisk egg whites and mustard until combined.

4. Increase oven temperature to 400˚F. Spray wire rack with nonstick cooking spray and place in rimmed baking sheet. Season chops with pepper. Dredge 1 pork chop in flour; shake off excess. Using tongs, coat with egg mixture; let excess drip off. Coat all sides of chop with bread crumb mixture, pressing gently so that thick layer of crumbs adheres to chop. Don’t forge to do the edges, too. Transfer breaded chop to wire rack. Repeat with remaining 3 chops.

5. Bake until instant-read thermometer inserted into center of chops registers 135˚F, 17 to 25 minutes. Let rest on rack 5 minutes before serving with lemon wedges, if desired. The temperature at resting should rise to 150˚F.