Sunday, February 20, 2011

"whoopsie" pies - an accidental success

Now that I'm home on Mondays instead of Saturdays, I try to make my day off a mix of a few things: relaxing and occasionally staying in bed until noon, running my errands, and doing some serious damage in the kitchen.

A few weeks ago, I decided to do another test run on the cakes I'm baking for a friend's wedding this summer. I was pretty sure I had locked into a cake recipe, but wanted to try another just to be sure. I chose this recipe from Pioneer Woman.

You'll notice the title of this post isn't "really awesome test run cupcakes." So, clearly a few things went wrong.

First, I somehow ran out of cupcake papers, so I was forced to use my silicone cupcake tray. I'm not a huge fan of this, because it usually makes squat little cakes rather than nice fluffy ones.

Next, and more importantly, I somehow managed to leave the leavening agent out of the cake batter. So my first batch of "cupcakes" came out like little hockey puck cakelettes. I halved the baking soda in the recipe and added it for the second batch.

My second batch stuck to the silicone pan and were mostly ruined, until I decided to lop off the bottoms and just use the tops to make whoopie pies.

So, I sliced all the little flat cakes in half, and paired them up along side the more cake-like tops of the actual cupcakes. I whipped a batch of the peanut butter mousse I will probably use for the wedding this summer and my "whoopsie" pies were born.

The  slightly smaller ones are the ones without baking soda, and the larger ones on the upper right are the more cakelike ones. 

Overall, they were still really delicious. I think I like my original whoopie pies recipe better but this was definitely a decent way to save this recipe. 

Mix 1 stick of butter with 1 cup of peanut butter on high. Slowly add 1 tsp vanilla and about 2 cups of powdered sugar.
If filling is too crumbly, dribble up milk one teaspoon at a time. Add 1 more cup of powdered sugar, or until fluffy.

Monday, February 14, 2011

LetsLunch: Lucky recipes edition

OK, I'll admit I *knew* it was LetsLunch week at some point last week but when Friday came around I totally spaced...

We decided our February LetsLunch date would be "lucky" foods, in honor of the lunar new year celebration during the first-ish week the month.

The lunar new year is kind of a weird thing for me. In the last couple of years, I have learned more about my Korean heritage, so I know the basics of  traditions during the Korean New Year (Seollal)-- I've just never actually put them into play. 

What's definitely clear to me is the importance of eating tteok guk for luck in the new year. This suits me perfectly, since tteok guk (Korean rice cake soup) is one of my very favorite Korean foods.

Some Korean recipes call for beef stock (I used my pho broth last January) but I really like to make mine with a mix of kelp, bonito flakes and dashida (Korean beef stock powder).

I forgot to take photos this month when I made tteok guk last week, but there are step by step photos here and here.

Korean Rice Cake Soup - (2 big bowls or 4 appetizer size)
1 pack bonito flakes (about 2 TBS)
4-6 pieces kelp
2 TBS dashida (Korean beef stock powder)
1/2 to 1 cup sliced beef (marinate in 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1 scant TBS each: sesame oil, rice vinegar, sugar)*
2 cups sliced rice cake** (tteok guk tteok -- as opposed to tteok bogi tteok, which are shaped like tubes)
3-4 eggs, beaten
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds, divided
2 sheets kim/nori (seaweed sheets -- the kind for sushi or kimbap), cut into matchstick size strips
2 green onions, sliced thinly

- Bring 8 cups of water to a boil. Add bonito flakes and kelp. Boil 10-15 minutes.
- While broth is boiling, fry bulgogi until rare to medium rare (the meat will continue cooking in the soup).
- Strain the broth to remove the bonito and kelp. Return to stovetop and whisk in dashida.
- Bring the broth back up to a boil and slowly add the rice cake. When the rice cakes float they are done (about 3-6 minutes, longer if they were frozen)
- Use a slotted spoon and remove the tteok (if you do not think you will have leftovers, you may skip this step). Toss the tteok with the sesame oil to keep from sticking.
- Keeping the broth at a boil, slowly pour in the beaten egg. Count to 10 (seriously, all the way to 10) then use a fork or chopstick to make egg ribbons. Cook 1-2 more minutes.
- Split the tteok and beef into bowls, then ladle the broth over. If you did not remove the tteok from the broth, split the sesame oil in each bowl too.
- Garnish the tteok guk with strips of nori, sesame seeds, green onion and lots of freshly cracked pepper.

* I often use leftover bulgogi I already have, so the amount varies. But each person should have 1/4 cup of meat at the minimum up to as much as you have (no more than 1 cup... be reasonable!)
** I like a lot of tteok in my tteok guk! You might increase this to 3 cups if you like a lot too.

LetsLunch is a monthly meeting for food bloggers and is the brain child of Cheryl Tan. Our group chooses a date and a theme, then we all post our recipes on the same day (or at least we try to... mine is 3 days late this month).

If you'd like to join us, we'd love to have you! send a Tweet to us using #letslunch (I'm @emmacarew).

Find the other posts on Cheryl's blog or by searching #Letslunch on Twitter.

See you next month for "Thank Goodness It's Spring!" recipes.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

"A Tiger in the Kitchen" launch day: family recipes

Today I'm part of a group who are posting their favorite family recipes to honor our friend Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, who releases her book, A Tiger in the Kitchen, today.

Cheryl put her talents as a cook and a journalist to good use for the book, learning recipes and family stories from her relatives in Singapore. She has asked us to share a family recipe today in that spirit of family and cooking.

My recipe is a simple one, and one I've shared before. My Nan's Irish Soda Bread is still one of my very favorite recipes and it's one that I learned when I was first starting to cook, back in my tiny college kitchen, with a crappy temperamental and bakeware that had seen finer days.

The first time I made Nan's bread was a complete failure -- but it had nothing to do with the quality of my kitchen. No, in my haste to copy the recipe from the e-mail my aunt had sent me, I had written 450 degrees instead of 350.

Miraculously, the bread wasn't too burnt, just hard as a rock. A big "350" is now scrawled across the top of the recipe in my notebook, so I never forget.

Nan's Irish Soda Bread:
4 c white flour
1/4 c sugar
1 tsp salt
1 heaping tsp baking powder
1/4 stick  butter broken into tiny pieces
optional: 1 c soaked raisins (I never use these -- always had to pick them out as a kid)

1 2/3 c buttermilk
1 egg
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp baking soda

Mix the first 5 ingredients in a mixing bowl. Mix the wet ingredients separately with the cream of tartar and baking soda, then add slowly to the flour mixture.

Knead gently and shape into a large round loaf.

Place on an oiled cookie sheet, cut a 4" X on the top, and brush with beaten egg.

Bake 60-70 mins at 350 F. Cool for as long as you bear to wait (I can usually only wait about 10 minutes!).

Serve with butter and enjoy!

So, raise a glass to Cheryl's success with the book. I'll try to update the post with other family recipes as I find them. (scroll to end of the post)

Go home and cook a meal with your family tonight. (or stop at your favorite locally owned bookstore and pick up Cheryl's book, like I am)

Call your favorite grandparent, aunt or uncle and ask for a family recipe. Share one of your own with your son, daughter, niece or nephew.

I hope I'm fortunate enough to have an adventure similar to Cheryl's with my Korean birth family some day. In 2007, I learned the basics of Korean cooking from the cook at Ae Ran Won home for unwed birthmothers. The stress of everything else going on with my birth family meant I didn't get the chance to cook with my halmonie and ohmma and learn from them. Hopefully I'll get that chance someday.

Update: here's a running list from Twitter of recipes posted so far: