Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘jam’

Since probably the mid 80’s, Thai cuisine has seen an explosion of popularity, likely due to a booming post-war tourism industry in Southeast Asia. As all popular things do, Thai cuisine was quickly adopted as the trendy go-to cuisine in America, built to excess, and generally ruined. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good dish of Pad Thai as much as the next person might. But a vast difference can be found from one pad thai to another. Generally, when seeking out foreign cuisines, look for recipes that aren’t written in english.

Thailand is host to a litany of amazing dishes exemplifying the core four flavors of their cuisine: sweet, sour, salty, and spicy. One thing that people don’t necessarily think about, however (maybe I can’t speak for you, but I’ve really never considered it), is what breakfast looks like in this part of the world. Rice and noodles are all well and good, but when it comes to the most important meal of the day I’ll usually reach for something a bit more familiar.

IMG_5528

Pa Thong Ko are a Thai version of a traditional Chinese-style cruller. Crispy on the outside, light and airy on the inside; They’re almost more similar to the fried bread dough you’d get from a dirty cart at the county fair. Served with coconut jam (which is really a custard), you can see the influence from French colonialism, much the same way that the Banh Mi came about in Vietnam.

According to Thai tradition, the traditional X shaped fritters represent two inseparable lovers, always seen together. In stark contrast, Chinese tradition recounts a tale of two evil men who were put to death in boiling oil.

Pa Thong Ko, adapted from SheSimmers
makes 10-12 fritters

  • Bread Flour*, 260g
  • Active Dry Yeast, 2g
  • Baker’s Ammonia, 2g
  • Alum Powder, 1/2 teaspoon
  • Kosher Salt, 8g
  • Granulated Sugar, 14g
  • Warm Water, 170g (3/4 cup)
  • Vegetable Oil, 1 tablespoon, plus more as needed
  • Baking Powder, 4g

Combine all ingredients except baking powder in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix on medium speed for 8 minutes. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and lightly coat top of dough with oil. Cover with a towel and allow to rise 4-5 hours. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and lightly dust flour over dough. Sprinkle baking powder over dough. Fold and knead about 4 times. Roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut to desired shapes.
In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat 4-5 inches of vegetable oil to 350F. Fry dough until deep brown and crispy, 1-2 minutes on each side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain excess oil

*Yes, you can use All-Purpose flour

Sangkhaya (Coconut Jam/Custard)
makes just over 1 cup

  • Egg Yolk, large, 4 each
  • Palm Sugar, 3 tablespoons
  • Granulated Sugar, 5 tablespoons
  • Coconut Milk, full-fat, 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons
  • Dried Pandan Leaf**, about 1/4 cup
  • Kosher Salt, 1/8 teaspoon

Combine egg yolks and sugar in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk vigorously until thick and creamy. Meanwhile, heat coconut milk, pandan and salt in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. While whisking, add 1/3 of the hot coconut milk to the egg yolk mixture. Continue whisking until full incorporated. While whisking, add egg mixture to remaining coconut milk. Continue cooking over medium heat, whisking very frequently, until sauce is thick, about 5-8 minutes. Once thick, immediately remove from heat, transfer sauce to a bowl or other container and refrigerate until cooled completely.

**If you can’t find pandan or don’t want to buy it, substitute 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

There’s no pleasure quite as great as good food paired with a good beverage. While it’s easy to study up on the subject and learn how different components in food compliment and contrast aspects of whatever beverage you’ve got, I think the even easier method, and much more enjoyable, is to eat well and drink well and allow things to come naturally. What a drag, right? This week it’s all about finding that great match: food that makes a drink better, and drink that makes that food better.

In my last actual kitchen class in college, one of our assignments was to submit a food and drink pairing that we thought went really well together, with an explanation of the choice we made. Each team of 3 submitted 3 recipes, and one was chosen to be made in the following session. What we didn’t know until it was time to go, however, was that whoever’s recipe was chosen wasn’t allow to actually cook it, but rather would direct their team to make the dish the way they wanted it to happen. Likely to the chagrin of my team, my dish was chosen; Intending to poke fun at the somewhat elitist and highly conceptual dishes that many great restaurants have come to be known for, I submitted a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, with sliced apples and caramel dip on the side. The pairing: Viognier (vee-OWN-yay), a light, fruity white wine largely found in the northern Rhone region of France. The wine tropical notes in the wine complimented the homemade concord grape jam, and the acidity helped to cut through honey-roasted peanut butter. The other key element was pumpernickel  bread, which has a few spices that contrasted well with the light bodied wine.

This week, I wanted to pay tribute to that dish, while switching it up just a little bit. IMG_3061 For the sandwich, I used pumpernickel bread again just because I really like it. The jam is a four-fruit blend of strawberry, raspberry, cherry, and red currant. The peanut butter is jarred, but a really nice, locally produced one with lots of texture and a good amount of fat. As for the wine, I did a little research and came across the suggestion of a Torrontes from Argentina. Similar in body and acidity to a Viognier, but less sweet and less fruity, with a few spicier, minerally notes. When all’s said and done, it’s an excellent pairing, especially for these hot, humid summer afternoons we’ve been having recently.

Read Full Post »

Sometimes, it’s really strange to me that people have normal jobs. Like, non-kitchen jobs. I’ve worked a single job outside of a kitchen or restaurant since the age of 13 (I did a brief stint at the IT department in college, go figure), so the thought of having eight-hour days with nights and weekends off is incredibly foreign to me. You mean to tell me that you don’t work until midnight and then have dinner? Weirdo. One benefit, I will concede, of working the abnormal hours that kitchen life requires is that getting drunk on Monday doesn’t seem that bad when Sunday is your Friday. But of the strangeness between us in the restaurant industry and the rest of the world, the strangest to me by far is the idea of breaks; 15 minutes or more where you can basically just fuck off and not worry about anything. I don’t smoke, so if I’m able to get a minute to run to the restroom during the night I consider myself lucky. But an actual break, nearly unheard of.

But I do realize that it’s a totally normal thing for pretty much everyone else. And when you are afforded this opportunity, refueling yourself for the rest of your day is crucial.  Food has to be quick, and require pretty minimal-to-no cooking or preparation. That being said, that doesn’t mean that you’re stuck with eating crap for your lunch break. With a little bit of thinking and beforehand prep,  you can become the King or Queen of the break room.

IMG_2147

I’m sure I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again (and will continue to keep saying it).: Sandwiches are the best food, hands down. Endless combinations of great flavors and textures, wrapped up in a perfect vehicle. For brown baggin’ it at work, sandwiches are a staple, and since cooking options can be really limited, cold is the way to go. My go-to format for cold sandwiches is to try and hit all the major tastes: something sweet, salty, tart, and bitter (if you can get some umami in there, all the better). This week, I was lucky enough to take home some Goat Prosciutto* from work, and I wanted to base my sandwich around that (please excuse the horrendously cut prosciutto in the photo). Prosciutto is normally paired with cheese and fruits, so building a cohesive sandwich isn’t all that difficult. I normally like darker fruits with prosciutto, so I went with some fig jam, and keeping with the goat that I had already, I used chevre for the cheese. Vegetables are always good to add some texture (especially in cold sandwiches), so I added a nice handful of dandelion greens, which also provide a great bitter contrast the the jam. As for bread, you can use whatever floats your boat. I really enjoy baguettes, so I went with that.

The best part about packing yourself lunch is that it can really be as simple or complex as you want it to be. Crockpot chili? Awesome. Salad? Perfect. Just by planning a little bit in advance, you can save yourself from raiding the vending machine too often.

*I can say with near 100% certainty that you won’t be able to find goat prosciutto anywhere. Just use regular prosciutto.

Read Full Post »

Na Zdrowie! The 2nd week of Reddit’s 52 Weeks of Cooking Challenge is here, celebrating the cuisine of Poland! Given it’s somewhat centralized geographic location, Poland shares many of it’s culinary traditions with the surrounding areas. Like many cuisines of eastern and northern Europe, Polish cuisine is hearty, relying heavily on meats, root vegetables and breads. While stews and roasts are a mainstay of any Polish meal, they don’t shy away from their desserts either, and none is more famous that the humble pączki.

Pronounced (PAUNCH-key),  pączki are small fried  pastries akin to the American doughnut. Pączki were traditionally made and eaten on Fat Thursday, the last Thursday before the Catholic lent. During lent, followers of the faith are bound to fasting or other types of self-deprivation. Fat, sugar, fruit and sweets were considered an indulgence, and were generally cooked and eaten as to not be a temptation (hence then name Fat Thursday). Much like a doughnut, pączki can be filled or unfilled, glazed, or coated in powdered or granulated sugar. Traditional fillings included stewed plums or rose jam, but in the modern era fillings have grown to include classics such as strawberry, blueberry, chocolate, and even custard. While Fat Thursday is well over a month today, I knew I wanted to try my hand at making some pączki while I had the chance.

pączki

While this may look nearly identical to an American jelly doughnut, the pączki are a totally different beast. Rather than a regular yeast dough that would be used for doughnuts, the pączki dough becomes extra rich with the addition of butter, eggs, sugar, milk and brandy. If you’re going for an all out indulgence for Fat Thursday, this would definitely be the way to go. Traditionally, the dough is fried (hooray! more fat!), but since I don’t celebrate Fat Thursday and I’m also working on watching my waistline for the new year, I chose to bake mine. Brushed with a little melted butter, the dough was rich enough to give off the same effect as a fried dough. Rolled about half the batch in granulated sugar and the other half in powdered. For the filling, I went traditional with a rose petal jam. It turns out that if you’re with your girlfriend at the grocery store and you’re buying roses, chances are that the cashier is going to ask you what they’re for. Chances are also high that they’ll give you a weird look when you say that you’re cooking with them. I told them that I was just as confused as they were and we shared a brief, awkward laugh. I found a traditional recipe that called for a few handfuls of wild rose petals to be ground down in a mortar and pestle with a bit of sugar. According to the recipe, that was all that was needed for the filling. While this process gave and incredible color, flavor and aroma, the raw sugar was too grainy to make an enjoyable filling. I added some water and lemon juice and cooked the mixture down into a more recognizable jam. I had never made a jam without using fruit or vegetables, and I had never cooked with flowers at all before, so I was really pleased with the results. The sweet, fatty pączki and the extremely floral filling created this weird sensation I had never really experienced before. It was like eating a doughnut, but also somehow completely different at the same time. There’s really not a good way to describe it. While the jam is a great sweet element, I bet it would work great to glaze a pork or lamb roast, and I’m sure somewhere back in time a like mind Polak would have had the same idea.

Pączki

makes about 12 rolls

  • Instant Yeast, 1 packet
  • Warm Water (110F), 1/4 cup
  • Sugar, 1 teaspoon
  • Whole Milk, 3/4 cup
  • Butter, softened, 1/2 stick
  • Sugar, 1/4 cup
  • Egg, 1 each
  • Egg Yolk, 2 each
  • Brandy or Rum, 1/2 tablespoon
  • Kosher Salt, 1/2 teaspoon
  • All-Purpose Flour, about 3 1/2 cups
  • Melted Butter, as needed
  • Granulated Sugar, as needed for coating
  • Powdered Sugar, as needed for coating
  • Rose Petal Jam (recipe follows), or filling of choice

Combine yeast, warm water and sugar. Let sit about 5 minutes to proof. Warm milk to 110F. Combine yeast mixture and milk and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar together until smooth and fluffy. Add eggs, liquor and salt, mixing to combine. Mixing on medium speed, alternate adding flour and milk mixture until both are completely incorporated, adding more flour as needed to bring dough together. Remove dough from mixer and transfer to a greased bowl big enough to allow dough to double in size. Cover bowl with a towel and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Press dough to release gas and allow to rise again until doubled, about 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 375F. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface. Divide dough into 12 even pieces. Place rolls on a parchment lined baking sheet, cover with a towel and place in a warm place to rise for 30 minutes. Bake rolls for 10 minutes at 375F. Once baking is finished, lightly brush roll on the top and bottom with melted butter. Roll in granulated or powdered sugar to coat completely. Using a pastry bag fitted with a round piping tip or a doughnut filler, fill pączki with your choice of filling. Serve warm or room temperature.

Rose Petal Jam

makes about 3 cups

  • Rose Petals, yield from 1 dozen roses
  • Granulated sugar, 2 cups
  • Water, 3 cups
  • Juice of 2 lemons

Working in batches, grind rose petals with sugar with a mortar and pestle until smooth and deep purple. Let mixture sit overnight to marinate flavors. In a sauce pot, combine rose-sugar mixture with water and lemon. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Continue cooking until reduced and liquid begins to thicken, about 30 to 45 minutes. Transfer to a heat-proof container and allow to cool in the refrigerator. Jam with thicken as it cools.

Read Full Post »

Peppers! They come in all shapes, sizes, colors and flavors and each has an amazing number of uses.  Whether you prefer things on the milder side with bells and Anaheims, or hot peppers like jalapenos and habaneros, there’s a pepper to suit each taste. Peppers are rated on the Scoville Scale. Named after American pharmacist Wilbur Scoville, who developed the original method for testing the spiciness of peppers.  Peppers are on the menu for the 33rd week of Reddit’s 52 Weeks of Cooking Challenge, and I had just the thing in mind.

As I’ve mentioned before, I try to sample new and different foods as often as I can.  This goes doubly when I go out to eat at a restaurant. I like looking through menus to find their unique and unusual dishes rather than getting a familiar favorite. Right before the 4th of July celebrations this year, I got to go out to Our House in Winooski, Vermont. Specializing in what they dub “twisted comfort food”, the menu takes beloved favorites and gives them a unique twist. The “Three Little Pigs” sandwich is their take on a traditional pulled pork sandwich featuring pulled pork, ham, and bacon, all topped with a sunny-side-up egg. A main feature of their menu is their Twisted Mac: macaroni and cheese live you’ve never seen it before. Of course you can get a dish of the ol’ standby or even create your own combination, their signature mac’s include BLT, Rueben, Buffalo Chicken, jambalaya, and even surf & turf. The one that really caught my eye, however, was their Peanut Butter and Jelly Mac. Orichette pasta tossed with sauteed green grapes and a Thai-style peanut sauce and topped with house-made jalapeno jam. It was too tempting to pass up. When the dish was brought to the table, it didn’t seem to be too out-of-the-ordinary. It looked like what you expect from a restaurant specializing in mac and cheese. But as the saying goes, don’t judge a book by it’s cover. The sauce was reminiscent of American pad-thai, but much thicker and creamier. The grapes added a nice burst of sweetness here and there, and the jalapeno jam gave the spiciness that Thai cuisine is known for. It was one of the most interesting dishes I’ve tried in a very long time, simply because I had never even thought to try that combinations of flavors together. For my pepper dish this week, I knew that I wanted to recreate this dish for myself.

macandcheese

Rather than using green grapes, which I actually found to be a little too tart in the original dish, I used red grapes and roasted them until the skin started to blister. To my surprise, this gave the grapes an almost jam-like quality of their own which was really nice. For the sauce, I made a basic bechamel and seasoned it with garlic, ginger, onion, Sriracha, soy sauce and fish sauce, and of course, the peanut butter. I think I could have gone a little bit heavier on the seasonings, but the peanut butter flavor for nicely subdued by everything else, so that was good. The jam wasn’t as spicy as I remember it being at the restaurant, but did have a really nice peppery flavor. The sauce was actually a touch spicier than I had intended, so I think it was good that the jam wasn’t as potent. I don’t  want to be that guy, but I think I prefer my version to the restaurants. While the flavors were pretty much the same, the one at the restaurant seemed really heavy, even for macaroni and cheese. My sauce was a little bit lighter and I used a bit less cheese. That being said though, the resulting food coma was all too familiar.

Peanut Butter Macaroni & Cheese

makes 1 9×13 pan

  • Shell or Orichette Pasta, 1lb
  • Butter, 2 tablespoons
  • Coarse Ground Mustard, 1 teaspoon
  • Sriracha Chili Sauce, 1 teaspoon
  • All-Purpose Flour, 1/2 cup
  • Whole Milk, 1 quart
  • Ground Ginger, to taste
  • Garlic Powder, to taste
  • Onion Powder, to taste
  • Soy Sauce, to taste
  • Fish Sauce, to taste
  • Cream Cheese, 8 ounces
  • Swiss Cheese, shredded, 6 ounces
  • Red Grapes, about 2 cups
  • Bread Crumbs, as needed

Boil pasta in salted water until tender, about 11 minutes. Drain and toss with oil to prevent sticking. In a large sauce pot, melt butter. Add mustard and Sriracha, whisking to combine. Add flour, whisking to form a roux. Cook roux 10 minutes. Slowly add milk, about 1 cup at a time, until incorporated and mixture begins to thicken, stirring often. Add cheeses and whisk until fully melted. Season to taste with  ginger, garlic, onion, soy, fish sauce and Sriracha. Heat a boiler on high or an oven to 500 degrees. Cut grapes in half and place onto a baking sheet. Cook until skins are blistered and begin to blacken, about 15 minutes. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Combine pasta and sauce and fold in grapes. Transfer to a lightly greased 9×13 baking dish and top with breadcrumbs. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Top with jalapeno jam.

Jalapeno Pepper Jam

maked about 3 cups

  • Jalapeno Pepper*, 4 each
  • Green Bell Pepper, seeded, 2 each
  • Lemon Juice, 1/4 cup
  • Cider Vinegar, 1/2 cup
  • Sugar, 3 cups
  • SureJell Fruit Pectin, 1 package

Combine peppers in the bowl of a food processor and process until evenly minced. Combine peppers with lemon, vinegar and sugar in a medium sauce pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Return to a boil and add pectin, whisking to combine. Remove from heat and transfer to an airtight container. Let sit overnight to thicken.

Read Full Post »

Everyone, young or old, man or woman, loves a good old-fashioned PB&J. Chances are that when you were a kid you had your fair share of them (if not, I genuinely feel sorry for you). I realize that there may be those of you that have never had the joy of this sandwich, so here’s a quick overview: peanut butter, jelly or jam, bread. It seems so simple, but it is truly something to behold. The combination of salty peanut butter and sweet jam is the perfect mid-day snack to keep the kids happy and hopefully quiet. However, you don’t have to be a kid to enjoy this classic treat. Reddit’s 5th installment of the 52 Weeks of Cooking Challenge set Legumes as the ingredient of the week, and I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to showcase a couple of great  recipes.

edit-7356

While it may be easy enough to grab a jar off the shelf, the taste of homemade peanut butter really can’t be beat. Dry roasted peanuts can be ground in a food processor with a little bit of peanut oil until the mixture reaches you desired consistency (it probably won’t get as smooth a the store-bought stuff, but that’s ok).  For a little extra flavor in mine, I tossed the peanuts in a sweet syrup to get the “honey-roasted peanut” flavor.

edit-7360

Now everyone’s personal tastes may vary when it comes to the jam or jelly, but from what I can find grape seems to be the most traditional. To make a quick jam, mash your choice of grapes (if using seeded grapes, make sure to take the seeds out) with some sugar and boil the juices down. Let the mixture cool and it will thicken to to a nice consistency. If you want to make a smoother jelly, strain the solids out and set with pectin according to the box directions.

edit-7364

Voila!  Slap that stuff between some bread and you’re good to go. I did mine with Klingers Bread Company Vermont Maple Oat Walnut bread, but your favorite will work just as well. I’ve found that this particular recipes also works nicely with a crusty sourdough or even pumpernickel.

Honey Roasted Peanut Butter

makes about 1lb

  • Skinless Peanuts, 1lbs
  • Sugar, 4oz
  • Salt, 4oz
  • Honey, 1.5oz
  • Brown Sugar, 9.7oz
  • Water, 8oz
  • Butter, cubed, 2tablespoons
  • Peanut Oil, as needed

Toast peanuts at 350° until lightly browned. Combine sugar and salt, set aside. In a large pot, combine honey, brown sugar and water. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook 10-15 minutes. Add butter and stir until melted. Toss peanuts in sugar mixture. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with sugar and salt mixture to coat peanuts and prevent sticking. Transfer to a sheet tray and allow to cool. Working in batches, puree nuts in a food processor until peanut butter consistency is achieved, adding peanut oil as needed. Store in an airtight container and allow to set for 24 hours.

 

Concord Grape Jam

makes about 1pint

  • Concord Grapes, 1lb
  • Sugar, 1c
  • Lemon Juice, 1tablespoon

With a paring knife, cut each grape in half to remove seeds. Combine grapes, sugar, and lemon juice in a large pot and mix to combine. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once mixture comes to a boil, reduce to a simmer and continue cooking until thick, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. Once thickened and reduced, mash mixture to achieve jam-like consistency.

 

 

Read Full Post »