Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pane Bianco

Pane Bianco

I couldn't help but be impressed with the shape and layers on this bread the first time I saw it on King Arthur Flour's blog, Baking Banter.  The one on the bottom is mine, filled with sundried tomatoes, basil, and cheese.  The one on the top is better -- I'm annoyed to admit -- and made by Joe.  It's got the same ingredients in different proportions, plus ham and pepperoni.  They're like our pizzas -- I'll scoff when he goes for the meat lover's variety, and I'll choose tomato and basil or eggplant and caramelized onion.  I do love meat, just not a whole barnyard of it.  But this time it just made the bread so moist and flavorful.  Although this bread may look complicated, it's actually a cinch to pull off.  Honest!

Pane Bianco
Bottom row: The risen dough; after spreading the filling, the dough is rolled up and then snipped to reveal the layers; my loaf is shaped into a figure-8.  Top row: The dough was rolled out and spread with cheeses, sundried tomatoes, and basil; the baked loaf had layers of the filling, pepperoni and ham, and bread.   

I'm not a fan of garlic powder, so we spread half a head of mashed roasted garlic on each bread.  And in addition to the cheese blend, we added chunks of fresh mozzarella.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Maple Ice Cream in Waffle Cone Cups

Maple Ice Cream

Who doesn't love maple, or maple ice cream?  Scoop it over waffles for waffles à la mode, or nestle scoops in little homemade waffle cone cups like I did here.  In my mind, maple is a fall flavor and very New England, perfect for these parts and this time of year.

Maple Ice Cream
Use the real deal here -- only 100% pure maple syrup.  Not pancake syrup, not maple-flavored syrup.  I know it's more expensive, but Trader Joe's sells this bottle at a fair price.  Like most ice creams, it gets slightly cooked into a custard before chilling in the fridge, churning in the machine, and firming in the freezer.

Do I recommend buying a waffle cone iron?  Not really.  Storebought ones are plenty tasty, but we got this as a gift along with our ice cream machine.  I adapted a recipe to make cups instead of cones, using a cupcake tin.  I'd tried just molding the cookie around and in little bowls, but the cupcake tin worked the best.  When it's fresh off the iron, immediately push it into a cupcake well using a coffee tamper.  After 5 seconds, gently ease the tamper out -- while the cookie is pliable and has taken on the cup shape, but before it hardens up and molds around your tamper.  Leave them in the cupcake wells until they cool and harden.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mascarpone Gelato

Mascarpone Gelato
I had been looking forward to trying this gelato, and Sis had been nagging me to make it.  Would I make it again?  Probably not, because of how much it cost!  The recipe calls for two tubs of mascarpone, and I was shocked they cost $4.99 each.  That means you're making a $10+ quart of gelato!  So I wasn't even upset when Joe returned from the grocery store with just one tub, and I halved the recipe.

The gelato recipe also didn't get a thumbs-up.  I thought it was all right, but both Joe and Sis complained the lemon flavor was too aggressive, and lemon aside, it just failed to wow them.  I found that funny, since I used only the zest of one lemon.  And I left the pine nuts out, since no one wanted them.  The Mascarpone Gelato recipe is on this page.  If you know of a better one -- and if it doesn't cost over $10 to make -- let me know!  I've got another ice cream post on the way, a winner that I make over and over again.  Stay tuned!

Tomato Tart Unbaked
And some gratuitous photos of a tomato tart with roasted garlic and fontina I made, just because the colors look cool.

The colors got very muted after baking.  Plus, I didn't have time to snap a photo before it got eaten at a potluck.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Singapore Mei Fun

Singapore Mei Fun

I was happy to tackle this dish since my dad is from Singapore, (though my parental sources informed me it was created by Cantonese people who thought the flavors were like Singapore's, not Singaporeans).  Also, because I attempted it a couple of months ago with the result of mushy and crumbled noodles.  Happily, all went right with this attempt, and I have another old favorite under my belt.  In a departure from the recipe, I used roast pork (char siu) instead of ordinary pork for added flavor.  There are roast pork recipes online, but most people, myself included, just buy it from the restaurant.

Singapore Mei Fun
I learned that all rice vermicelli (mei fun or mi fen) is not created equal, and that certain types hold up better to stir-frying.  Also, don't stir-fry the noodles so long that they fall apart on you.  My mother recommended this brand from Thailand since she's used it before, but I can't say more beyond that on what brands to look out for.  Let me know if you have more guidance in this vein.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Beef Chow Fun (Beef with Rice Noodles)

Beef Chow Fun
So I spent a hectic few days in New York, and learned this recipe from Mom.  I wanted to take her out someplace for a belated birthday dinner, but she didn't feel like going out.  She really wanted to cook with me.  I decided not to push for a restaurant if she wouldn't enjoy it, plus I took away a lesson for one of my favorite dishes.

Magnolia Cupcake & Pandan Mooncake
And it was way better than a restaurant meal I'd had earlier in the week.  My sister and I agreed Bellini on Manhattan's Upper West Side was awfully underwhelming for Italian food.  Dessert was another disappointment, at the famed Magnolia bakery.  My devil's food cupcake was all right but nothing exciting, and the frosting was just too sweet.  The Crack Pie at Momofuku's Milk Bar was good, if a bit on the too-sweet side, but it wasn't as addictive as its name would have you believe and I was disappointed after all the hype.  Ippudo with my friend Bao, who writes some dining pieces for The New York Times, was a real winner -- delicious pork buns and ramen noodles that are nothing like what you get in the cheap plastic packets.  I also had some mooncakes (yue bing) with the Mid-Autumn Festival not far away, and this pandan version was not only flavorful but very pretty.

Beef Chow Fun1
But back to the important stuff.  This dish is often called Beef Chow Fun on restaurant menus, and the wide, flat rice noodles are called sha he fen.  They're only sold fresh, not dried, and sometimes they're already sliced and other times sold in a sheet.  Look for them and the bean sprouts, which lend a nice crunch, at your Asian market or Chinatown. 

Beef Chow Fun2
And Mom says the Chinese restaurant secret to getting that beef so tender is a pinch of baking soda.  Sounds weird, I know, but it works!