Banana Split Cheesecake

Oi! I am finally posting my husband’s birthday cake from mid-February!¬† I’m kind of excited that I can finally move forward after this and post more up to date stuff ūüôā¬† I saw the recipe for this Banana Split Cheesecake¬†and knew I had to make this for my husband’s birthday.¬† Well, maybe it was a convenient excuse for me to try this recipe, but I think it was a win-win for all of us.¬† Before you go on reading the recipe, I need to warn you of few things :¬† 1. This is an ultra rich cheesecake! Even if you try to fool yourself you cannot eat a huge slice, your body begs you to stop.¬† 2.¬† I kind of under baked mine slightly and the top also cracked, but it turned out fine in the end.¬† You’ll see what I mean below.¬† 3.¬† This really tastes like a huge banana split!!¬† 4.¬† Even though the recipe says it’ll serve 10-12, it can easily serve 15 even if you slice them on a thinner side.

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Serves 10-12:

8 oz. vanilla wafers, finely crushed (2 cups of crumbs)
3 Tbs. granulated sugar
7 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
3 8-oz. packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1-1/4 cups banana purée
2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
Table salt
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 Tbs. pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
3 oz. chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
5 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 Tbs. light corn syrup
Toasted chopped nuts, for garnish
Whipped cream, for garnish

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375¬įF.

In a medium bowl, stir together the vanilla wafer crumbs and 3 Tbs. granulated sugar. Mix in the melted butter until the crumbs are evenly moist and clump together slightly. Transfer the mixture to a 9-inch springform¬†pan and press evenly onto the bottom and about 2 inches up the sides of the pan (to press, use plastic wrap or a flat-bottom measuring cup). Bake until the crust is fragrant and slightly darkened, 9 to 12 minutes. Let the pan cool on a rack. Lower the oven temperature to 300¬įF.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, banana purée, flour, and a pinch of table salt on medium speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl and the paddle frequently, until very smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Make sure the cheese has no lumps. Add the 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar and continue beating until well blended and smooth.

Add the vanilla and beat until blended, about 30 seconds. Add the eggs one at a time, beating just until blended. (Don’t overbeat once the eggs have been added or the cheesecake will puff too much and crack as it cools.) Pour the filling into the cooled crust and smooth the top.

Bake at 300¬įF until the center jiggles like Jell-O when nudged, 55 to 65 minutes. The cake will be slightly puffed around the edges, and the center will still look moist. Set on a rack and cool completely. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 8 hours and up to 3 days. The cake can also be frozen at this point for up to 1 month (see make-ahead tip, below).

In a small bowl, melt the 3 oz. chopped chocolate and the butter. Add the corn syrup and whisk until smooth. Unclasp and remove the side of the springform pan and run a long, thin metal spatula under the bottom crust of the cheesecake. Carefully slide the cake onto a flat serving plate. Pour the ganache on the cheesecake and spread evenly.

Garnish with chopped nuts and whipped cream and serve immediately. To cut, run a thin knife under hot water, wipe it dry, and cut the cake into slices, heating and wiping the knife after every slice.

**You can make ahead : To freeze, put the unmolded, cooled cake on a rimmed baking sheet in the freezer, uncovered, until the top is cold and firm; then wrap it in two layers of plastic and one layer of foil. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

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I used Trader Joe’s vanilla wafers (I love the taste of these vanilla wafers!).

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This stand mixer is one thing I’ll take if my house catches on fire…

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Ready to go inside the oven; so far so good.

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Came out of the oven and as it cooled cracked on the top – grrrrr.¬† Well, Food Network¬†has this to say about the crack on top of cheesecakes.¬† I simply filled mine with mashed bananas ūüôā

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Because I was putting this ganache¬†over the cheesecake I’m glad I had extra bananas to mash up and fill the crack.

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I cut a larger sized slice for picture sake, but even half this size would be sufficient!

My opinion:  Loved the crust, loved the filling and loved the ganache!! Once again, as I previously said this is a very-very rich cheesecake.  If you love bananas and banana split you will LOVE this cheesecake!  I probably will not make this often (for an obvious reason), but a great dessert for a special event.

Strawberry Marshmallows

I’m not a huge marshmallow fan, however, I ¬†have always wanted to make my own marshmallows.¬† My children love marshmallows, especially in their hot chocolate, but because marshmallows are not in my immediate food radar I haven’t bought any or thought much about them.¬† My youngest tween daughter mentioned she wanted to make some homemade marshmallows so I searched online and went back to my trusted source Saveur;¬† the only change I made in this recipe is omit the red food coloring (because I seriously don’t care for it).

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Canola oil, for greasing
1¬Ĺ cups sugar
¬ĺ cup light corn syrup
¬ľ cup honey
3 tbsp. unflavored powdered gelatin, softened in ¬Ĺ cup cold water
6 oz. dried strawberries, minced
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp. cornstarch
¬Ĺ cup confectioners’ sugar

1. Grease an 8″ x 8″ baking pan, line bottom and sides with parchment paper, and grease paper. Grease a rubber spatula; set aside. **I actually used 9″x13″ and it was still plentiful!

2. Combine sugar, syrup, honey, and ¬Ĺ cup water in a 2‚Äďqt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer; cook, without stirring, until syrup reaches 250¬į on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat; let cool to 220¬į.

3. Meanwhile, bring ¬Ĺ cup water to a boil in a small saucepan. Place bowl of gelatin over boiling water; whisk until gelatin becomes liquid. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk; add food coloring. Add cooled sugar syrup to gelatin; whisk on high speed¬†until mixture holds stiff peaks, 5‚Äď6 minutes. In a small bowl, toss together strawberries and 1 tbsp. cornstarch; add to marshmallow mixture; mix to incorporate. Pour mixture into prepared pan; smooth top with oiled spatula; let cool until set, 5‚Äď6 hours.

4. Combine remaining cornstarch and confectioners’ sugar in a bowl and transfer to a strainer; dust work surface with mixture. Slide a knife around edge of pan to release marshmallows; remove from pan. Dust cornstarch mixture over top. Using a slicing knife dusted with cornstarch mixture, cut marshmallows into forty 1¬Ĺ” squares. Toss marshmallows with remaining cornstarch mixture.

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I bought my dried strawberries from Trader Joe’s.

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This process takes a bit long, but candy thermometer comes in handy (it’s not expensive so I recommend you buy one if you want to make marshmallows or any other candy based desserts).

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Gelatin will melt fairly quickly once placed on top of hot water.

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It really looks pretty unimpressive when you start.

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After a while of whisking it gradually starts resembling a very thick frosted egg white mixture.

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After it was chilled.

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Dusting cubed marshmallows with cornstarch & powdered sugar mixture.

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My opinion:¬† Oh gosh, these marshmallows are so much better than the store bought¬†ones!¬† I actually added¬†more¬†dried strawberries than indicated, but the taste wasn’t overwhelming, and had enough real strawberry tastes (versus the artificial strawberry flavors).¬† With this recipe as a base you can make so many other variations – for the future we have plans to make green tea marshmallows, orange marshmallows, and chocolate marshmallows!¬† It’s a bit time consuming, but I can assure you it is all worth it!

Loco Moco

I think I’m finally catching up (I think…).¬† Now it feels like Spring has finally arrived and in the midst of ups and downs with families, friends and relatives I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel¬†(sort of).¬† I am posting one of our favorite food “Loco Moco”!!¬† My husband requested this for his birthday dinner in mid-February (yes, I’m about 2 months behind with my post) and I happily agreed since it’s been ages since I made this.¬† Loco Moco¬†is¬†one of the¬†Hawaiian specialties – with Japanese style hamburger patty placed over hot steaming rice, sunnyside¬†up egg on top of the hamburger¬†with generous amount of gravy; a true comfort food.¬† Read the history of Loco Moco here.

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It’s been such a long time since I made this; I lost the original recipe I had ūüė¶¬†¬† I searched online to see if I can find a similar recipe and this¬†came the closest and it tasted pretty darn good!

Serves 4:

Rice:

2 cups (rice measuring cup) short or medium grain white rice

Hamburger Patties:

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 cup onion, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs for sunny side up or over easy

Gravy:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 quart beef broth
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Cook the rice according to your rice cooker manual (or how you are used to cooking).

Make the gravy. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add flour and continually stir for 5 minutes or until the mixture turns golden-brown. Whisk in the beef broth, ketchup, soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Keep whisking and bring sauce to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes or until desired thickness is reached, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside and keep warm.

In a large bowl, mix beef, onion, one egg, panko, salt and pepper. Divide in four and make flat oval patties. Heat oil in a pan and grill patties over medium heat for 5 minutes then flip and grill both sides until cooked through.

Fry eggs sunny side up or over easy.

When rice completes cooking, place in serving plates and top with the cooked hamburger patties. Ladle the gravy and top with a fried egg.

My opinion:¬† I always loved Japanese style hamburgers while growing up, so naturally I fell in love with Loco Moco (which adopted this Japanese style¬†hamburger).¬† I don’t know how else to describe this, just a pure comfort food.¬† You have to try this!!

Kedgeree

Oh, life! Why are you flying by?!¬† I don’t even know where the time went (with all the family dramas, obligations and appointments to keep).¬† Anyway, I’m just going to keep my effort in catching up with my early February posts; so I’m just a mere month behind, that’s pretty good, right?

I always wanted to make kedgeree, and I was finally able to make some over our Downton Abbey finale dinner.¬† You would think kedgeree¬†for the Edwardian style dinner?¬† It’s not too weird if you think about it…¬† Due to the British colonization of India from the early 17th century, this Indian breakfast rice dish called kedgeree¬†became pretty popular in the Victorian era.¬† There are many variations of this kedgeree recipe, but I adopted Nigella Lawson’s recipe.¬† It’s pretty straightforward so no need to feel intimidated.

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  • 2 1/4 cups cold water, for poaching the fish
  • 2 lime leaves, torn into pieces
  • 4 salmon fillets (approximately 1-inch thick), preferably organic, skinned (about 1 1/2 pounds in total)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, quartered
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves, plus more, for garnish
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced plus lime segments, for garnish
  • Fish sauce, to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

This is because the easiest way to poach salmon for this dish is to do it in the oven. So: pour the water into a roasting pan, add the lime leaves and then the salmon. Cover the pan with foil, put in the oven and cook for about 15 minutes, by which time the salmon should be tender. Remove the pan from the oven and drain the liquid off into a pitcher. Keep the fish warm simply by replacing the foil on the pan.

Melt the butter in a wide, heavy saucepan that has a tight-fitting lid, and add the oil to stop the butter burning. Soften the onion in the pan and add the spices, then keep cooking till the onion is slightly translucent and suffused with soft perfume of the spices. Add the rice and stir with a wooden spoon so that it’s all well coated. There’s not enough onion to give a heavy coating: just make sure the rice is fragrantly slicked.

Pour in the reserved liquid from the pitcher, about 2 1/4 cups, and stir before covering with the lid and cooking gently for 15 minutes. If your stove is vociferous you may need a flame tamer.

At the end of the cooking time, when the rice is tender and has lost all chalkiness, turn off the heat, remove the lid, cover the pan with a dish towel and then replace the lid. This will help absorb any extra moisture form the rice. It is also the best way to let the rice stand without getting sticky or cold, which is useful when you’ve got a few friends and a few dishes to keep your eye on.

Just before you want to eat, drain off any extra liquid that’s collected in the dish with the salmon, then flake the fish with a fork. Add to it the rice, egg, cilantro, lime juice and a drop or 2 of fish sauce. Stir gently to mix – I use a couple of wooden paddles or spatulas – and taste to see if you want any more lime juice or fish sauce. Sprinkle over the zest from the 2 juiced halves of the lime and serve. I love it served just as it is in the roasting dish, but if you want to, and I often do (consistency is a requirement of a recipe but not of a cook), decant into large plate before you add the lime zest, then surround with lime segments and add the zest and a small handful of freshly chopped cilantro.

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My opinion:¬† First of all, this is a really light and favorful¬†rice dish.¬† Some people like it more dry and some more wet, but I personally¬†like it more on a drier side; I did end up adding more spices to adjust to my taste.¬† I love the use of the salmon stock to cook the basmati.¬† I made just enough quantity and I regretted – next time I’m going to probably triple the amount, because the leftover eaten the next day tastes really good!

Pear and Chocolate Cake

You will hear me still saying “I’m still so behind¬†with my posts!!”;¬† unfortunately, this will be a common phrase for the next couple of posts (alas, oh! alas…).¬† I am still continuing with a post from our wonderful Downton Abbey finale dinner from few weeks ago – I’m kind of feeling this heart constriction, the kind that you feel when you are past your deadline handing in your essay or a project.¬† I’m wondering if my college and grad school¬†life was ¬†that stressful for me that I’m experiencing PTSD type syndrome?!¬† Well, all jokes aside, I am feeling a bit disappointed with myself for having this many posts “late”.¬† I don’t think it’s the issue of disappointing the blog readers, but it’s more about¬†meeting my own expectations… yes, I guess I am a perfectionist in many ways.

Well, let me introduce to you a wonderful gluten-free chocolate cake I found on this site.¬†¬†At first I was a bit hesitant trying this because it didn’t have any reviews.¬† Also, reviews on other recipes on this site weren’t¬†¬†all that good; but I took a look at the recipe for this cake and thought it would work.

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  • 100g unsalted butter (slightly less than 1 stick of butter), plus extra for greasing
  • 100g¬†caster sugar (1/2 cup), plus extra for tin
  • 100g bar dark chocolate, chopped
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 4 ripe pears (choose smaller sized pears)
  • 100g (1 cup)¬†packet ground almonds
  • 2 Tbsp apricot glaze or sieved apricot jam
  • Icing sugar, for dusting
  • 23cm deep, fluted flan tin (9 inch tart pan)
  • Baking parchment

**Note: I used “almond meals” from Trader Joe’s and it worked out perfectly; you can also grind your own almonds too.

  • Set the oven to 180¬įC/350¬įF/Gas Mark 4. Butter the flan tin and put a disc¬† of baking parchment in the base. Spoon in a little sugar and use it to coat the¬† inside of the tin, then tip out the excess.
  • Melt the butter and chocolate together, in a bowl over a pan of hot water or¬† in a microwave oven. Leave it to cool slightly, but don‚Äôt allow it to¬† reset.
  • Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture is thick and creamy¬† and a trail can be seen in the mixture when the whisk is lifted up. This is¬† easiest done using a tabletop mixer, as it can take 5-10 mins, so it‚Äôs a long¬† time to be holding a hand-held whisk.
  • To prepare the pears, peel them with a vegetable peeler¬†and then halve¬†them.¬† Use a melon baller, or a teaspoon, to scoop out the pips in the centre.
  • Fold the melted chocolate mixture and ground almonds into the whisked¬† egg-yolk mixture.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they‚Äôre stiff. Fold a couple¬† of tablespoons of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, to loosen it.
  • Pour the chocolate mixture into the bowl with the egg whites; pour it to one¬† side of the egg whites rather than in the centre, to avoid knocking out too much¬† of the air from the egg whites.
  • Fold both mixtures together, using a large metal spoon, or a spatula, taking¬† care not to overwork it or the air will be lost and the sponge won‚Äôt rise as¬† much.
  • Pour the mixture into the tin; hold the bowl just above the tin while¬† pouring ‚ÄĒ again, so that the air isn‚Äôt lost from the mixture.
  • Arrange the pear halves on top, with the cut-side down. Bake cake in the centre of the oven for 45 mins to 1 hour, or until it‚Äôs set in the centre and the mixture doesn‚Äôt wobble. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for a few minutes before transferring it to a wire rack.
  • While the cake is still hot, warm the apricot glaze or jam and brush it over¬† the top. Dredge the cake with icing sugar just before serving. It may be served¬† warm or at room temperature.

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My opinion: I was in a rush so I didn’t get a chance to ripen my pears, but it turned out very well, however, I can imagine the cake tasting heavenly with ripe pears.¬† I also used 70% cacao dark chocolate – I thought this was perfect for adults, but maybe use lower percentage cacao if your child(ren) aren’t into dark chocolates (fortunately mine will eat up to 80% cacao).¬† All in all this was an easy, simple and elegant dessert – just make sure you read the recipe and know the steps (ie. planning when to whip the egg whites so you can time combining ingredients).

Beef and Yorkshire Pudding Canapes

I am behind posting few blog posts… In fact, I don’t want to think how many I’m behind – I think I’m in a major procrastinating mood nowadays.¬† February 15th was my husband’s birthday and I have 2 recipes to post from that, on February 17th I hosted a Downton Abbey finale party and I have few recipes from that, and few isolated recipes… oh boy.¬† Anyway, before I ramble on I will get right to it and post one of the recipe from the Downton finale party – this Beef and Yorkshire Pudding Canape¬†was so delicious and simple to make!¬† Perfect finger food for any ocassion; my only advice is to get a really good cut of roast beef.¬† We got our roast beef from the Whole Foods Market and asked them to thinly slice – about 1-1/2lbs¬†of sliced roast beef for¬†4 dozen canapes (plus some left over to make some sandwiches).

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Makes at least 24

Yorkshire puddings:

1 cup flour

1/4 tsp. salt

1 cup milk

2 eggs, beaten

 Horseradish cream:

1/2 cup non fat greek yoghurt or non fat sour cream

2 tbsp. prepared horseradish (we love extra hot to give a burst of flavour)

salt and pepper

 Mustard cream:

1/2 cup non fat greek yoghurt or nonfat sour cream

2 – 3 tbsp. Dijon mustard (we love grainy and spicy)

salt and pepper

For the filling:

12 slices of thinly shaved roast beef

flat leaf parsley, to garnish

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  • Add a very thin layer of vegetable oil in each cup of a 24 mini muffin tins and heat in the oven.
  • To make the Yorkshire puddings, blend the four and salt, gradually whisk in the milk to ensure no lumps, then add the eggs.
  • When the tray is hot, spoon in the batter in each muffin tin and return to the oven.¬† Watch carefully, and cook for about 8-10 minutes until the mixture has puffed up and has browned. Then let cool on a wire rack.
  • To the make horseradish cream, simply mix the ingredients together. To make the mustard cream do the same.
  • Tear each slice of roast beef in half.¬† Loosely wrap into a rose shape and pile on each of¬†the baby Yorkshire pudding. Add a dollop of horseradish cream to half of the canap√©s, mustard cream to the other.¬† Decorate all with a sprig of flat leaf parsley, tray and serve at room temperature.

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My opinion:¬† If you want to indulge a bit, use bacon drippings instead of oil when making yorkshire pudding.¬† I usually save bacon drippings in a container and keep it in the refrigerator.¬† The muffin tins will have to get really hot (in fact when the oil starts smoking a bit take the tins out of the oven) and immediately pour in the batter.¬† You’ll see the batter puff up as they bake, but once the pudding is done baking and allowed to cool they’ll shrivel down so don’t be alarmed.

I only made horseradish cream because I love horseradish (and used sour cream) – so yummy!!

Japanese Style Ginger Pork (Buta no Shogo Yaki) and Rice with Green Peas

Today’s post will be a quick one since I’ve been busy cleaning up our soon to be newly renovated bathroom!¬† Growing up in Japan my mom used to make this (but not frequently¬†enough).¬† When I came to America at the age of 16 I completely forgot about this dish¬†until now.¬† I would occasionally remember, but didn’t have to energy to think about exactly which ingredients went in and the quantity until I came upon Harumi¬†Kurihara’s “Japanese Home Cooking”.¬† This is quite simple and so very delicious!!

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Trim the ends of the bean sprouts.

Mix together the soy sauce, mirin and grated ginger and dip the pork slices into this marinade briefly just before cooking.

Heat a little oil in a frying pan over medium heat.¬† Remove pork from the marinade and add to the pan, making sure it cooks evenly and doesn’t stick together or curl up.¬† Turn over after a couple of minutes and cook until both sides are browned.¬† Don’t leave the pork for long, as it cooks pretty fast, but make sure it’s cooked through.

In a separate pan, heat a tablespoon of oil over a high heat.  Add the sliced garlic.  When the aroma is released, add the bean sprouts and stir-fry.  Season with salt and pepper.

Put the bean sprouts onto a serving dish and then lay the slices of pork on top.  Pour any remaining juices from the frying pan over the pork.

Rice with Green Peas: serves 4

1-1/2 cups uncooked short grain rice

1-3/4 cups water

1-1/2 cups green peas

1 Tablespoon sake

1 teaspoon soy sauce

Mix all the ingredients together and cook the rice.

My opinion: One of my daughter is not a huge meat eater nor a meat lover; she especially don’t care much for pork, but guess what?¬† She had healthy servings of both pork and bean sprouts and didn’t complain once, in fact she said she really liked it!¬† I had enough left overs (because I made enough for 8 servings!) my husband is so thrilled to take this for his lunch tomorrow ūüôā¬†¬† Ginger is not overpowering, but blends so very well with the pork, soy sauce and mirin.¬† Bean Sprouts amazingly go very well with this pork.¬† If you don’t want to bother with the rice just make plain brown or white rice, but I think you should try this green pea rice just once.

Turnip Cake

I am rather proud of myself today; with organizing some items to take to the local thrift store, with our heater broken since last night, still feeling sluggish from my residual cold (although I am suspecting I may have an infection), and the bathroom renovation going on I wasn’t sure if I was able to make this turnip cake.¬† I made turnip cake few years ago, but somehow the recipe wasn’t quite what I wanted, and I really wanted to make this turnip cake from Yi Reservation.¬† Even though Koreans follow the Lunar Calender and thus celebrate the lunar New Year, growing up in Japan I always observed the regular new years.¬† When I came upon Yi Reservation’s blog I was really impressed by so many¬†different recipes of regional Chinese cooking.¬†¬† Then I saw Yi’s turnip cake and I had to make this! I’m so glad I was able to make this in time for Chinese New Year and we really enjoyed eating this!

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Makes 2-9inch loaves

**I made few changes since one of my daughter is allergic to shrimp and the other one doesn’t¬†care much for shrimp.¬† Please check the original recipe¬†if you want shrimp!¬† To supplement the lack of shrimp and wanting to add some color, I grated carrots and added chopped green onions.¬† Also, similar to Yi’s recipe, I omitted Chinese sausage and used ground pork instead.¬†

1 lb Plain rice flour (not to be confused with glutinous rice flour)
6 lb Fresh long radish (aka daikon/turnip)
6 Dry shiitake mushroom
1 large carrot, grated
1 lb ground pork
3/4 tbsp + 2 tsp Salt
¬Ĺ tbsp + 1 tsp White pepper powder
1 tbsp Soy sauce
1 tbsp cooking wine

**I added 3-4 finely chopped green onions

I  used Shao Hsing Cooking Wine (which I think has deeper flavor than the regular cooking wine).

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Make sure you don’t confuse the rice flour with the sweet rice flour (which is glutinous).¬† You want to get the plain rice flour.

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1. Soak shiitake mushrooms for at least two hours until all softened. Clean and drain well.

2. Chop shiitake mushroom and set aside. Peel the radish & carrot skin.

3. Use a Mandolin or an electric shredder to shred the radish into the size of matches. Grate the carrot also.¬†¬†¬†I used my food processor so I’m thankful this saved me some time!

4. In a large skillet or wok, combine the radish, 2 tsp of salt, and enough water to cover. Boil in medium heat until boils. About 15 minutes. Drain off most of the liquid from the radish and save about 2 cups of the liquid for later use.

5. In a oiled pan, combine the pork, carrot,  shiitake mushroom, soy sauce, cooking wine, and 1 tsp of white pepper powder. Stir fry until the pork is cooked. About 4 minutes.

6. In a large mixing bowl, combine the rice flour, radish, and cooked ingredients. Also add 1 tbsp of salt and ¬Ĺ tbsp of white pepper. Stir with a spatula to mix.

7. Gradually add saved liquid to the mix while you stir. Depending on how well you drained your radish you‚Äôll need about ¬Ĺ ‚Äď 1 cup of liquid to make a thick batter¬† such it will not fall off your spatula. Try to avoid putting too much liquid in there.¬† If you’re adding green onions, add them here and fold them into the mixture.

8. Fill a 9-inch loaf pan with the batter. Steam the batter with lid on for 40 minutes over medium high heat.

9. Once it’s done steaming, cool it down to room temperature. It can be served now but more commonly it is sliced to 1 inch thick pieces and pan fried to gold brown on both sides. As Yi has suggested, I ate this with hoisin and sriracha (so delicious!).

Turnip Cake

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Luckily I have 2 huge steamer pots, but if you don’t have a big steamer pot¬†like the ones above you can cut this recipe into half and use the mini-loaf pans.

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After cooling the cake inside the pan for a little bit, invert the cake and let it cool down.

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Slice them.

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Pan fry on both sides until golden!

My opinion: Yum, yum, and mega yum!!¬† This was well worth the effort!¬† I only¬†cooked 1/4 of the cake; I gave some to my mom and I wrapped the rest with the foil and put in the refrigerator.¬† I’m sure I’ll pan fry more tomorrow ūüôā¬†¬† I enjoyed eating this without the sauce and with the sauce; seriously, it’s one of those things where you come out as a winner which ever way you eat this!

Please check Yi’s turnip cake post, his photos are so nice and looks more authentic!

Lomo Saltado

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I have been sick for the past 2 weeks and my kids have been taking turns getting sick also.¬† For some reason I have not been able to shake this virus or whatever it is I have – maybe I’m not getting better fast because of my age!!¬† Oh well, anyway, I have been craving¬†this Peruvian dish called “Lomo¬†Saltado” – it’s basically a Peruvian stir-fry you eat with homemade fries and rice.¬† I first had lomo¬†saltado¬†while we vacationed in Peru for a month last summer.¬† It was love at first sight!¬† Don’t get me wrong, I loved all the food I tasted in Peru (from different Peruvian fruits and vegetables, fresh ceviche, pisco¬†sour, grilled guinea pig and other meats, Chifa, etc.), but lomo¬†saltado¬†was one dish I kept on craving in Peru.¬† I don’t know what it is, maybe I fell in love with the tender beef sauteed with onions, peppers and tomatoes, or maybe it was the homemade fries made with Peruvian potatoes.¬† Don’t get me started with Peruvian potatoes! They taste phenomenal!¬† I believe Peru has about 4000 varieties of potatoes, and their corn too (with over 55 varieties of corn), oh my gosh, so good!

Peruvian cuisine is largely influenced by the Chinese, who immigrated to Peru in the mid-1800’s¬†(in fact, they were actually brought over as laborers).¬† This Chinese-Peruvian cuisine is called “Chifa” and you see many Chifa¬†restaurants all over Lima and its surrounding districts.¬† It’s almost like the Chinese-American takeout places here in America, but you can find Chifa¬†in all price categories.¬† We’ve eaten at a hole in the wall Chifa¬†where we got a huge order of lunch special of fried rice and stir-fried vegetable for $2.00 to very nice sit down Chifa restaurants.

Lomo¬†Saltado¬†isn’t exactly Chifa, however, it does use soy sauce. Another main ingredient is typical Peruvian pepper called “Aji Amarillo“.¬† As the name indicates, it has a yellowish color and it’s used in Peruvian cooking.¬† I have not found fresh aji¬†amarillo¬†here in Philadelphia, but I heard that¬†you can get some in and around Miami area.¬† What you can find in larger Latin American markets are the marinated aji¬†amarillo¬†and the paste kind.¬†¬† I love using aji¬†amarillo paste especially in my empanadas!¬†¬† You can find quite¬†a few lomo¬†saltado¬†recipes, but only a few have either fresh aji¬†amarillo¬†or paste in the ingredient list.¬† I’m very lucky, because my lomo¬†saltado recipe came from a book given to me by my sister-in-law in Peru (yes, she’s Peruvian).¬† It is a humongous and expensive book, perfect as a coffee table book, but I refuse to just let this book sit pretty on my coffee table!

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Here’s my favorite aji¬†amarillo paste:

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Since I have been waiting¬†to make this dish, I did splurge and bought a really good piece of sirloin meat.¬† I will not disclose how much I paid, but I wasn’t about to skimp on my favorite dish!

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So, seriously, at this point in my sickness with a major lomo¬†saltado¬†craving, and no decent Peruvian restaurants in sight what was my choice?¬† I could have just ignored my craving or just make it myself… well, I chose the latter ūüôā¬† I had to alter the recipe a bit because there was no way I was able to get fresh aji¬†amarillo, so I added the paste and bell peppers instead.¬† Homemade fries would have been great, but you know, I wasn’t up to spending more time cooking so I used organic frozen fries (which was pretty darn good).

4-6 Servings:

1-1/2 to 2lbs best beef tenderloin (or any cut you prefer), sliced

2 medium onions,sliced

2 bell peppers, thinly sliced

3 medium tomatoes, each sliced into 8 wedges

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

3 Tablespoons red vinegar

4 Tablespoons soy sauce

3-4 Tablespoons Aji Amarillo paste

Salt and pepper, to taste

4-5 Tablespoons beef broth or water

Over a high flame, heat the oil in a frying pan (or a wok) until it begins to smoke; add the meat and saute well for 3 minutes or done.  Set aside.

In the same frying pan saute the onion, bell peppers and tomatoes.  Pour the vinegar, soy sauce and aji paste; add salt and pepper to taste.  Add the cilantro and beef broth or water.  Mix together to blend the flavors.

To serve:¬† scoop rice at the one corner of a plate, spread fries and pour the beef mixture with sauce over fries. Here’s a little rice mold I bought in Lima, Peru.

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My opinion:¬† I know it’s going to sound cocky saying this about my own cooking, but this was DELICIOUS!!¬† My family loved it too!¬† Love to eat the crispy fries soaked with the beef sauce and mixing together with rice (well, at least that’s the way I like to eat this).¬†¬† Truly delicious:)

Brunsviger

I have a very dear childhood friend living in Denmark.¬† In 2009 my family went to visit my friend and her family in Odense, Denmark;¬† Odense is on an island of Fyn (pronounced “foon”- also known as Funen¬†for us¬†English speakers) and is well known¬†as a birthplace for Hans Christian Andersen (in fact they have a really nice Hans Christian Andersen museum in the city center of Odense).¬†¬† Another famous Odense specialty is a pastry called “Brunsviger” – roughly pronounced “brons-we-ahr” but you have to say it a bit fast.¬† Danish is a language I don’t think I can master at all – a grave mistake if you try to pronounce words based on English pronounciation because they sound very VERY different!!¬† Anyhow, I learned how to make this even before I went to visit my friend in Denmark.¬† A year before my visit my friend and I were exchanging recipes and she gave this recipe to me, so basically I have been making¬†this since 2008.¬† It is something like a flat version of sticky buns, but much better; it has caramelized¬†brown sugar and butter topping (and many times custard cream blended into it).¬† You can literally find brunsviger¬†at every bakery (and believe me there are tons of wonderful bakeries in Odense!!) and you eat this for breakfast and/or afternoon tea time.¬† Instead of typical birthday cakes many children will have brunsviger¬†(shaped into gingerbread girl/boy, etc) with toothpicks with Danish flags all over brunsviger.¬† Unfortunately, outside of Fyn it is difficult to find brunsviger¬†so I took full advantage and ate my share of authentic brunsviger!!

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I have no idea how many times I made this since 2008; it’s one of our family’s favorites and we don’t get tired of eating this at all!¬† It’s a special recipe because it was given to me by my friend and we have¬† very fond memories of Denmark (seriously awesome food there!!).¬†¬† I took quite a few photos to explain various steps so I arranged the photos differently for this post, and I hope they make sense to you.

I usually put custard cream into the brown sugar/butter topping – I like to make the topping beforehand and keep it aside.¬† I like to make custard cream, but you can always use the instant vanilla pudding, but I do have to say the homemade one is very delicious and it’s not difficult to make at all:

Custard Cream:

2 Tablespoons flour

1/2 cups sugar

1 cup warm milk

2 egg yolks

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

Mix egg yolks and sugar in a saucepan; all sifted flour and mix well.¬† Gradually add warm milk as you mix; place the saucepan on a low heat and add butter, ¬†and stir until the mixture thickens (once it comes to a bubbling boil it’ll thicken soon after).¬† Let it cool completely.

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Brown Sugar/Butter Topping:

4 Tablespoons brown sugar

4 Tablespoons granulated sugar

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

Add all the ingredients in saucepan on a low heat and bring to a slow simmer.  Take off the heat once everything has melted.  Slightly cool and combine with the custard cream.

**This dough recipe requires you to make fresh yeast¬†dough, it’s quite¬†easy, but if you feel intimidated you can substitute with store bought bread/pizza dough.

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Dough:¬† enough for 9×13 inch pan

1-1/2 Tablespoons dry yeast (or 2 yeast packets)

1 cup lukewarm water (divided into 1/2 cup each)

9 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 eggs

2 teaspoons sugar

4 cups all-purpose flour

Mix the yeast and 1/2 cup lukewarm water (dissolve the yeast and let it stand for few minutes until the yeast looks bubbly and spongy).   Mix melted butter and remaining 1/2 cup luke warm water and add to the yeast mixture.

In a standmixer¬†add the yeast/butter mixture (I usually add the yeast mixture and butter mixture in the standmixer first) and add the eggs, sugar and flour.¬† Let it mix for less than a minute and with a dough hook knead the dough for about 3-4 minutes (scraping the sides).¬†¬† Transfer the dough into a large glass or stainless bowl, cover with a plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm place for about 30-40 minutes¬†(either on top of a radiator, inside an oven (that’s turned off) or in a microwave (just heat about 2 cups water in the microwave and add the bowl inside the microwave along with the hot water).

Once the dough has risen, punch it down and transfer it to a lined & greased 9x13inch baking pan with an aluminum foil.  Let the dough sit for about 15 minutes; then with all your fingers make indentations in the dough all across the pan (except for the edges) so that it looks like the dough has crater-like dents.   Spread the topping mixture evenly and bake in a 350F oven for about 30-35 minutes.  Let it slightly cool and dig in!!

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**Sorry, photo #9 should at #7 (oops)…

My opinion:¬† I always smile when I take this first bite and taste the brown/butter topping with custard cream… oh my… I am so glad I don’t live in Fyn, I will be frequenting the bakery daily for brunsviger.¬† If you want a little taste of Fyn, brunsviger is calling your name!