Category Archives: Kitchen

Pumpkin Ice Cream and Pumpkin Chai Tea

I just survived hosting my first Thanksgiving and roasting my first turkey.  I had so much fun preparing and making everything and everything was very well received.  However, spending an extended period with my in-laws was very stressful (my husband’s grandmother asked me during dinner if my teeth were real) and after all our guests went home, I rewarded myself with my favorite pumpkin treat, a pumpkin chai tea.  I love all things pumpkin and I recently made some pumpkin ice cream and from there discovered pumpkin milkshakes and pumpkin chai tea.

Pumpkin Chai Tea

Ingredients

3 tablespoons Pumpkin ice cream (available at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s or make your own with the recipe listed below)
1 cup Milk
2 tablespoons Chai tea mix

Directions

Combine ingredients in mug and microwave on high for about 90 seconds.  Or heat in small saucepan until warm.  Stir and enjoy!

Pumpkin Ice Cream

Ingredients

5 large egg yolks
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cinnamon stick
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup pumpkin puree

Directions

Whisk the egg yolks together in a bowl and set aside. Combine the milk, cream, sugar, ground ginger, ground cinnamon, cinnamon stick, ground nutmeg and salt in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Cook until the edges begin to bubble.

Slowly pour the warm liquid over the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then pour the egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan. Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (between 160º and 170ºF on an instant read thermometer).

Set a mesh strainer over a large bowl. Pour the mixture through the strainer and then whisk in brown sugar until dissolved. Place bowl in an ice bath and stir until cool, then chill completely in the refrigerator, preferably overnight. Once chilled, whisk in the vanilla and pumpkin. Press through the strainer once more and then freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Freeze for at least an hour before serving.

Adapted from:  David Lebovitz

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No-Knead Bread

Happy Halloween! Due to all the panic before Hurricane Sandy came along, I decided to be prepared for extreme conditions and for the power to be out for several days and possibly even the rest of the week. Since Pepco went ahead and warned everyone on Friday that we would most likely not have power for several days and our power always goes out with any inclement weather, I spent Sunday afternoon in the kitchen cooking and baking bread to prepare for the hurricane and power outage.  After hearing so many things about Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Bread, I finally decided to give it a try and I was shocked by how great the bread turned out with such simple preparations!  The bread is chewy and delicious on the inside and nice and crusty on the outside, just the way I like it!

We were very blessed to survive through the hurricane without losing power and were even able to make it to work both Monday and Tuesday without difficulty. I will be keeping those impacted by Hurricane Sandy in my prayers. And I urge you to make this bread as soon as possible! It does require some planning ahead, but you will be rewarded for your planning! Have a safe and happy Halloween!

 Ingredients

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 5/8 cups water

Directions

In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450°F. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats.  I used my 7.25 quart Le Creuset dutch oven with the original handle and it held up fine in the 450 degree oven.  When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is what it’s supposed to look like. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Adapted from:  Jim Lahey at the Sullivan Street Bakery via The New York Times

 

Sichuan Cucumber Salad

My husband absolutely adores cucumbers.  He can just wash a cucumber and start munching away.  So keeping in line with my recent goal to learn to cook more Chinese food for my husband, I found this great recipe for Sichuan cucumber salad and made it for dinner one night.  I was surprised by how quick and easy the dish was to make and it tasted like something I could order at a Chinese restaurant.  We both loved it and I will be making this dish many more times in the future.

Ingredients

1 large or 2 medium-sized cucumbers, peeled
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablepoon sugar
2 teaspoons chili garlic paste
Directions

Cut the cucumber(s) in half lengthwise, then cut each half again so you have quartered strips.  You can cut or scoop out the seedy middle section if  you like or leave it if you want. Slice each strip into 3cm (1 inch) cubes.  You can also slice the cucumber into longer strips, but that is just personal preference.  Put the cucumbers in a bowl, and toss with salt. Set aside for 5 to 10 minutes, as the salt draws out excess moisture from the cucumbers.

Heat a small pan on medium-low heat. Add vegetable oil, then add minced garlic and red chili flakes. Cook until fragrant, but careful to not to let the garlic burn. Set aside in a small dish to cool.

Drain the cucumbers through a strainer, and return them to the bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the rice vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, and chili garlic paste. Pour the mixture over the cucumbers. Add in the garlic and pepper that was cooling, and mix well. Serve at room temperature, or chill in the fridge for up to a day to serve cold.  Enjoy!

Adapted from:  Appetite for China

Key Lime Cupcakes

I made these adorable cupcakes for the first time over the summer for my coworker’s birthday and they have quickly become the most commonly requested cupcakes from my friends and coworkers.  As a result, I find myself making them pretty regularly for birthdays, potlucks, bridal showers and baby showers.  Before making them for the first time, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like them because I don’t particularly like key lime pie, but my coworker loves key lime pie and she also loves cupcakes, so I thought these would be just perfect for her.  And I was shocked to find that I absolutely adore these cupcakes!  I’m so glad that I have friends to share these with or else I would eat them all!  I decided to frost the cupcakes with cream cheese frosting instead of the recommended whipped cream that Annie of Annie’s Eats recommends and I love the combination of the key lime flavor with the cream cheese frosting.

If you or anyone you know enjoys key lime pie, make these right away and you won’t regret it!

Ingredients
For the crust:1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup sugar
5 1/3 tbsp. unsalted butter, meltedFor the cupcakes:

3 cups cake flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
16 tbsp. (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
Zest of 1 lime (or 2-3 key limes)
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1¾ cups buttermilk, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. coconut extract

For the key lime curd:

3 large eggs
¾ cups sugar
¼ cup key lime juice
4 tbsp. (2 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces

For the frosting:

10 oz. cream cheese, chilled
6½ tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
3¼ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
4 tsp. clear vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line two cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a small mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter; mix well with a fork.  Drop about 1 tablespoon of the graham cracker mixture in the bottom of each cupcake liner and press down to line the bottom. (Note: the bottom of a squeeze bottle or shot glass works very well.)  Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, and maintain the oven temperature.

To make the cupcakes, combine the cake flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.  Whisk together and set aside.  Add the butter to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until light and creamy in color.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for one more minute.  Beat in the lime zest.  Add the sugar to the butter mixture, ¼ cup at a time, beating 1 minute after each addition.  Mix in the eggs one at a time until incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition.  Combine the buttermilk and the vanilla and coconut extracts in a liquid measuring cup.  With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients alternately with the wet ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing just until incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for 15 seconds longer.

Divide the batter between the prepared paper liners, filling each about 2/3 of the way full.  Bake 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

To make the key lime curd, combine the eggs and sugar in a saucepan.  Whisk together until well blended.  Whisk in the key lime juice.  Place the pan over medium-low heat.  Cook, stirring or whisking constantly, until the mixture is warmed through.  Be careful not to heat the mixture too quickly to avoid curdling the eggs.  Whisk in the butter a little bit at a time, stirring in each addition until completely incorporated before adding more.  Continue to cook, scraping the bottom of the pan, until the mixture thickens and a spoon or spatula leaves a path when drawn through it (no higher than 175˚ F on an instant-read thermometer.)  Immediately remove the pan from the heat and pass the mixture through a fine mesh strainer.  Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate.  (This keeps up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.)

To assemble the cupcakes, use a paring knife to make a well in the center of each cupcake.  Discard the core of the cupcake from each well.  Fill each well with about 1½ tablespoons of the lime curd.  I used a piping bag to pipe the key lime curd into each well.

To make the cream cheese frosting, combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Add in the confectioners’ sugar and mix on low speed just until incorporated.  Increase the speed to medium-high and beat 2-3 minutes more.  Blend in the vanilla. Using a piping bag, pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes.  I used the Ateco 825 tip.  Garnish with key lime slices if you would like and enjoy!

Adapted from:  Annie’s Eats

Hot and Sour Soup

Now that the weather is getting cooler and it’s officially fall, I have been craving soup almost every night.  My goal for the past month has been to cook more Chinese and Taiwanese food since my husband and I are both Taiwanese.  Even though my husband is very sweet and says that he likes everything I cook, I know that deep down, he really loves the Chinese and Taiwanese food that his mom cooks.  Hot and sour soup has been one of my favorites since I was a kid and it was perfect for my soup craving.

Ingredients

8 dried shiitake mushrooms
16 oz firm tofu
1/2 cup dried wood ear
1/2 cup bamboo shoots (fresh or canned)
6 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 eggs
4 tablespoons dark vinegar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1-2 teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon cornstarch, dissolved in 2 tablespoons water

Directions

Soak the dried shiitake mushrooms and wood ear in water for 20 minutes.  Squeeze out excess water.  Rinse bamboo shoots with water.  Thinly slice shiitake mushrooms, wood ear, bamboo shots and tofu.

Heat 6 cups of chicken broth in a large stockpot and bring to a boil.  Then, toss in shiitake mushrooms and bamboo.  Let it simmer for about 10 minutes.

Add soy sauce and tofu and let it simmer for another 5 minutes.

Add vinegar, sesame oil and white pepper.  Beat 2 eggs and then drizzle egg into the soup while stirring.  Stir in cornstarch mixture to thicken.  Simmer for 5-10 minutes.  Add salt or more white pepper to taste and serve.

 

Coffee Ice Cream

My husband got me the ice cream attachment for my KitchenAid for my birthday and I’ve been having so much fun making ice with it.  My coworkers love it when I bring in homemade ice cream and my in-laws love it too!  I also picked up The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz, which is THE ice cream recipe book.  Of course the first recipe I tried was for my favorite ice cream flavor-coffee!  Even though I’m not a coffee drinker, coffee is definitely my favorite ice cream flavor and I loved, loved, loved this ice cream!  It was so much easier to make than I thought it would be and it was delicious!

Ingredients

1½ cups whole milk

¾ cup sugar

1½ cups whole coffee beans

Pinch of salt

1½ cups heavy cream, divided

5 large egg yolks

¼ tsp. vanilla extract

¼ tsp. finely  espresso powder

Directions

Combine the milk, sugar, coffee beans, salt and ½ cup of the heavy cream in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Once the mixture is warm and just begins to bubble, remove from the heat and let steep at room temperature for 1 hour.

After steeping, return the saucepan with the coffee mixture to the burner over medium heat.  Pour the remaining 1 cup heavy cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer over the top.  In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth.  Once the coffee mixture has become warm again, slowly pour the mixture into the bowl with the egg yolks, whisking constantly to temper the eggs.  Return the egg-coffee bean mixture to the saucepan over medium high heat.

Cook the mixture, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula or spoon (about 170-175° F.)  Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream.  Press on the coffee beans in the strainer to extract as much of the coffee flavor as possible, then discard the beans.    Mix in the vanilla and espresso powder.  Chill the batter  in the refrigerator.  Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator and then freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Adapted from:  The Perfect Scoop

Sauteed Scallops and Swiss Chard

I recently purchased Williams-Sonoma’s Weeknight Fresh + Fast cookbook and it’s my new favorite cookbook!  I’ve tried several recipes already and this scallop dish is one of my favorites.

Ingredients

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch of swiss chard, stems removed and leaves chopped
Salt
Pepper
3/4 pound sea scallops
All purpose flour for dredging
1 minced shallot
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Cooked basmati rice

Directions

In a large non-stick frying pan, warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat.  Add the chard and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper until just softened (about 3 minutes).  Transfer to a bowl and cover to keep warm.

Sprinkle the scallops lightly with salt and pepper and then dredge in flour to coat.  In the same frying pan over medium heat, warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Add the scallops and cook until springy to the touch ad no longer translucent (about 3 minutes on each side).  Using tongs, transfer the scallops to a place.  Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the frying pan and then add the minced shallot.  Saute until it begins to soften for about 1 minute.  Add the wine and boil until almost evaporated, stirring up any browned bits for about 2 minutes.  Add the chicken broth, lemon juice, mustard and 1/2 teaspoon tarragon and boil until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat, add butter and stir until melted.  Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

Spoon the cooked basmati rice onto plate and spoon the chard over the rice.  Arrange the scallops on the chard and then spoon the sauce over everything.  Enjoy!

Adapted from:  Williams-Sonoma Weeknight Fresh + Fast