Cold Soba Noodle Salad

INGREDIENTS

8 Servings

  • 1/2 package (from 14 ounce box) 
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce 
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 1/2 cups baby spinach or arugula
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 1/2 cup julienne-cut red bell pepper
  • 2 green onions, green part only, thinly sliced

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Prepare noodles according to package instructions. Rinse with cold water. Drain well.
  2. Meanwhile, mix vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, oil and sesame seeds in small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Place noodles in large bowl. Add lettuce, carrot and red bell pepper; toss to mix well. Divide noodle salad among serving plates. Sprinkle with onions. Drizzle with dressing. Serve immediately.
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How to prevent cakes from sticking to Bundt pans

1. If it ain’t broke…
If you use your grandma’s beat-up old aluminum pan (or a brand new top-of-the-line model), and your Bundt cakes ALWAYS come out of the pan with nary a crumb out of place — thank your lucky stars! Read the rest of this post if you feel like having a self-satisfied chuckle, but don’t change a thing in your Bundt-baking routine.
2. Use a non-stick pan — preferably one in good shape

Non-stick pans are the perfect solution to the inherent challenges in a Bundt cake’s intricate design. But beware the older non-stick pan: a scratched, worn non-stick surface may no longer be slick enough to release your cake flawlessly.

3. Grease the pan thoroughly

Use non-stick vegetable oil spray or melted shortening — not butter. The milk solids in butter can act like glue, encouraging cake batter to stick to the pan. (You always butter your pan, and your cake never sticks? See tip #1, above).

4. Grease the pan just prior to adding the batter
Most recipes start out, “Preheat your oven. Grease your pan…” We’ve found that greasing a non-stick Bundt pan too far ahead of time allows the oil to slide down the inside of the pan and pool in the bottom.

5. Don’t flour the pan; but do coat it

If you’re using a non-stick pan and still having trouble with sticking Bundts, try sprinkling a coating of either finely ground nut flour (that’s toasted almond flour on the left) or granulated sugar into the greased pan before adding the batter. Either will provide a barrier between batter and pan — which is what you’re seeking.
“But isn’t sugar sticky?” Yes, it becomes sticky as it cools; and it can act like glue when fully cooled. But while warm, sugar is still semi-liquid, and your sugar-coated cake should slide right out of the pan.
What about flour?
Not only does flour sometimes provide a less-than-satisfactory non-stick experience, it also adds a dry layer of “gunk” to the cake’s surface. I prefer either sugar or finely ground nuts (nut flour).

6. Loosen the edges of the cake when you remove it from the oven

A bit of gentle poking with a table knife or thin heatproof spatula is all you need to do. Carefully slide the knife or spatula down the sides of the pan as far as you can, to release any sticking spots.

7.Don’t forget the tube 

Sometimes your cake may rise up and over the tube, which will effectively block it from releasing from the pan. Either cut away any extra cake that’s encroached on the tube; or gently push it back with your fingers. You want the entire top surface of the tube to show.

8. Let the hot cake rest for a few minutes

If your cake breaks when you turn it out of the pan, you could be misinterpreting the cause. Some cakes are extremely fragile right out of the oven; even if they don’t stick to the pan, the simple act of moving them from pan to rack causes a fracture.

I like to let my Bundt cakes rest for about 5 minutes right side up; then for another 5 minutes upside down on a rack. Sometimes the cake drops out of the pan as soon as I turn the pan onto the rack. Sometimes it needs a little help — read on.

9. Give your Bundt a gentle nudge

If you’ve turned the pan over, waited, and the cake hasn’t dropped out of the pan onto the rack, give it a few gentle side-to-side jiggles. This small motion is often enough to release it.

10. If all else fails…

Return your cake to the cooling (but still warm) oven for about 10 minutes. Often this mild heat is just enough to soften and release any baked-on areas clinging to the sides of the pan.

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Apple Tartlets

1 box Pillsbury pie crusts
4 large Granny Smith Apples
2 C homemade thick applesauce
1 C homemade thick apple butter
1/4 C + 1/4 C sugar
2 t + 1T lemon juice
3 T brandy
2 pinches salt
3 T unsalted butter, melted
1/2 C apricot (or any light colored homemade) jam heated and strained

Place applesauce, apple butter, 1/4 C sugar, 2t lemon juice, brandy and salt in a small pot over low heat, stir and reduce, to thicken as much as possible without burning. Cool completely.
Place 10 4-inch mini tart pans on a baking sheet.
Roll out pie crusts to thickness between 1/8 and 1/4″.
Cut out 10  4.75″ rounds. Press dough into bottoms and up sides of tart pans. Trim excess dough flush with the rims. Scraps can be rerolled and cut as needed.
Refrigerate 20 min.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. (350 deg convection oven).
Peel, core and slice apples very thin, so that the outer edges are thicker than the centers. Toss with 1T lemon juice. Drain.

Spread 2 T of apple mixture into each tart shell.
Fan apple slices on top of mixture.
Brush with melted butter, and sprinkle with remaining sugar.
Bake tartlets till apples are  golden brown on edges, 50-60 mins.
Brush tops with jam,
Transfer to wire rack and cool slightly before serving.

Makes 12 tartlets

 

 

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Mussels in White wine

Adapted from Recipe by Ina Garten


Ingredients

3 lbs of fresh mussels
1/3 C all purpose flour

2 T butter
2 T olive oil
1 C of coursely chopped onion
1 1/2 T minced garlic

1/2 C of chopped canned tomatoes or 3/4 C of chopped fresh tomatoes
1/3 C chopped parsley
1 T fresh thyme leaves
1 C dry white wine
1 t kosher salt
1/2 t ground black pepper


Directions

To clean the mussels:
Put mussels in a large bowl with 2 Qts of water and the flour and soak for 30 minutes. This promotes the mussels to disgorge any sand  in their shells.
Drain the mussels, remove any beard, scrub with a brush or scrape off with a knife any dirt of growths on the shells. Soak in cold water till ready to put in the pot. Discard any mussel whose shell is not tightly shut.

To cook:
In a large stockpot, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat.
Add onions and cook for 5 mins.
Add garlic and cook for about 3 more mins. till garlic golden  and onion translucent.
Add all the other ingredients (except the mussels)  and bring to a boil.
Add the mussels, stir well, cover the pot, cook over medium heat for 3 mins.
Uncover, stir well, cover and cook for 3 more minutes.
Check to make sure mussels are cooked. (The meat will be attached only to one shell and not to both).
Pour into a large bowl and serve!

 

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Nian Gao (Chinese New Year Cake)

Ingredients

1 /3/4 C dark brown sugar (if using light brown sugar, add 2 T molasses)
1 1/2 C water, divided
1 lb sweet rice powder
2 T canola oil
1-2 t vanilla or almond extract, or 1 t of each

Instructions

Line 2  6-inch cake pans with parchment paper
Add 2″ of water to a pot fitted  with steamer racks, and bring water to a boil.
Combine 3/4 C of water and the brown sugar, stir and microwave for 1 min.
Stir, and if sugar is not dissolved, microwave 30 sec more. Repeat till sugar all dissolved.
Add the other 3/4 C water, extract(s) and molasses if required, stir to mix.
Put sweet rice flour into a med-large bowl,
Add the liquid mix, stir to combine and until mixture is smooth and free of lumps.
Pour into the cake pans.
Put pans on the steamer racks and steam for 1 1/2 hours.

Check the water periodically, and add hot water as needed.
* Try to avoid letting the condensation from the lid drip on the cake, when lifting the lid. But if such water is laying on top of either cake, just take a paper towel, fold it a few times and siphon up the water by touching the edges of the paper to the water.

While warm, you can cut or spoon off pieces of the cake and roll it in fresh coconut flakes (adding some sugar and salt to the coconut is optional and, I think, adds a lot to the taste) and serve, Malaysian style.

Allow the cakes to cool completely, then cover. In a few hours, when completely cool, you can slice and serve. Or you can slice, dip it in beaten egg and pan fry with a little oil. Yummy!

Eating Nian Gao is supposed to bring GOOD LUCK, because “Nian Gao”, which means “sticky cake” is also a homonym for “higher year”.

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Sour Dough Starter

Potato Flake Sourdough Starter and Bread Recipe Potato flakes make an easy starter for sourdough bread. This is a variation of friendship starter for breads. With attention, you can keep this starter going for a very long time. It will continue to gather wild yeast from the air and just get better. As with most yeast breads, you will need to plan ahead for rising time when you use the starter to bake bread.

Ingredients:

Starter (first time):

1 cup warm water
1/2 cup sugar
1 package (2-1/4 teaspoons) dry yeast
3 level Tablespoons instant potato flakes

Starter Feeder (subsequent times):

1 cup warm water
1/2 cup sugar
2 level Tablespoons instant potato flakes

To Make Bread:

6 cups bread flour (Pillsbury Brand)
1 Tablespoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
1-1/4 cups warm water
1 cup starter (See notes below)

Preparation:

First Time Starter Directions:

Mix water, sugar, yeast, and potato flakes.
Let ferment on counter for two days.
Then feed with starter feeder (below).
If you get starter from someone else, you can omit this step.

Starter Feeder:

Combine water, sugar, and potato flakes.
Add to starter.
Let stand on countertop eight hours.
Refrigerate 3 to 5 days, then make bread.

After using 1 cup of the starter for dough, pour one cup back into container and refrigerate.
Discard any other starter.
Store starter in refrigerator.

When you are ready to make more bread or every 3 to 5 days add starter feeder mix again. Stir well and leave on the counter overnight or all day (about 12 hours).

To Make Bread:

Add flour, salt, sugar, oil, and water to starter. Mix well.
Knead on a floured surface for 5 to 10 minutes.
Put dough into a greased bowl. Cover with a wet dish towel and let it rise in a warm place overnight or all day (about 12 hours).
Punch down. Knead on a floured surface to get any air bubbles out.
Spray 3 loaf pans with cooking spray and divide dough approximately equal into the 3 pans (shaping into loaf form).
Let rise 6 to 8 hours, covered loosely.
Bake at 350 degrees F. for 25 to 30 minutes

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Soy Sauce Cucumber Pickles

Ingredients:

4 large English cucumbers
1 t kosher salt
1 t sugar

Marinade
3/4 C water
3/4 C soy sauce
3/4 C rice vinegar
1/2 C sugar

Directions:

Cut the cucumbers crosswise into 4 pieces – they should be 3-4″ long, each.

Cut each piece in half, lengthwise.

Lay each piece, cut side down on a cutting board.

With the flat part of a large knife, smash down on the cucumber piece – the piece will        crack down the middle lengthwise.

Cut the piece into 2, lengthwise, along the crack, remove the seeds, then slice each              piece into 3 pieces. Repeat with all the pieces.

Place all the pieces into a large strainer sitting on top of a bowl, and toss with the 1 tsp      of salt and 1 tsp of sugar.

Fill a 1 gal ziploc bag full but  loosely with ice cubes and drape the ice bag on top  of          the cucumbers.

Let drain 1/2 – 2 hours on the counter.

Mix the ingredients of the marinade.

Place 12 half-pint canning jars in the dishwasher and wash.

When washing cycle is almost done, put the marinade into a medium pot and                      bring to a boil on high.

Add the cucumbers and when the marinade begins to boil, remove pot from the                  heat.

Using a slotted spoon, ladle cucumber pieces into jars till they come up to within 1/2          inch of the top of the jars.

Then ladle the hot liquid to 1/4 inch from the top of the jars.

Seal and place in water bath. Process for 15 min, then turn off the heat and open the          canner lid and allow to sit for 5 mins, then remove the jars from the water bath.

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