Saturday, December 3, 2016

Aloo Tikki! (Indian Potato Coquette)

So I've been away visiting my family in Guangzhou, China this past month and thank goodness for some pre-written (somewhat boring...) drafts to post while I was over there. What a refreshing change of pace to be away for a while.

I have to be honest though, definitely ready to come home and sleep in my own bed surrounded by my own life ... is it wrong to say I even miss doing a little bit of my own chores. Perhaps its the personal gratification of cleaning up after yourself (if you're into that type of thing) or feeling less like a mooch. My aunts and uncles are the best! They won't be able to read this, 1. because its in English and 2. because China blocks almost everything from the outside world, hope that changes one day because its really not necessary anymore, but THANK YOU everyone for their awesome hospitality and the delicious food, my aunt is an awesome cook. Picked her brain on a couple of dishes. More later.

In being back I've managed to do... well nothing. Have gotten so used to not having to worry about anything or doing anything significant that it's taking me a little bit to get back into the groove of being productive. Even my cooking got a little rusty (made Green Thai Curry the other night...didn't turn out like how I wanted it...I secretly blame the coconut milk but maybe me not cooking a while had something to do with it too).  

Anyways, here is something I whipped up a couple of months ago, random Facebook ad for Tazo Chai Tea with an accompanying Aloo Tikki recipe... didn't know what that was so I looked it up and it sounded really delicious, super easy and quick, a great appetizer or snack. Enjoy! 

Aloo Tikki
makes 7-8 patties
  • 4 boiled potatoes, peeled and slightly mashed
  • 1/2 cup of thawed/fresh peas (corn or carrots is okay too)
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs (1/4 + 1/4) 
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro (ground coriander okay) 
  • 2 tsp finely chopped green chilies
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala powder ( I used Indian Madras curry powder)
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp white ground pepper
  • salt/black pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp sugar (optional)
  • 2-3 tbsp oil for pan frying
  1. Mix everything together (only use 1/4 cup of bread crumbs) in a bowl until well combined and dough like
  2. Form patties by tearing a small piece of dough off and rolling it into a ball with your hands then slightly flattening them with the palms of your hands. 
  3. Pour 1/4 cup of bread crumbs into a wide mouth shallow bowl, lightly coat the patties with bread crumbs
  4. Pan fry patties with a little bit of oil in a frying pan over medium high heat until crispy and golden brown
  5. Eat as is or serve with a chutney or mint sauce.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Travel Gear: Collapsible Water Bottles

** featured in photo:  TAP -Antibacterial Collapsible Water Bottle 16.9oz

Staying hydrated is super important no matter where you are. Unfortunately when you're traveling you don't always have that option. When you're at home, you have the convenience of taking a luscious drink whenever you please, when you're traveling unless you're carrying your own supply, you're going to be thirsty.

Carrying water bottles can be such a pain, have you noticed how bulky some reusable water bottles can get and some can have quite a bit of weight even when they're empty! You don't want any of that while you're traveling. You want something light, something durable but at the same time expendable. If you're traveling, the possibility of losing or damaging something is quite plausible as well. 

Solution: Collapsible water bottles! They're super light and fold ups when not in use. As you drink, it becomes lighter and takes up less space, something a solid water bottle cannot do. This is a huge positive especially when you're moving around a lot. I bought this with me to China and it was a lifesaver. Filled up where ever I could and shoved it back into my bag when I'm not using it, doesn't take up space at all. There are many options but I picked the TAP one because it says it can hold hot and cold water PLUS if you wanted to boil it (for cleaning purposes) you can. Caution, the bag is not lined for hot liquids so it does get hot on the outside when filled with hot water so I just held it by the corner while filling it. Aside from that little detail, it was great!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Caramel Apple Roses

This recipe is one I would consider a Pinterest gem. Its so simple but looks so intricate people are instantly impressed by it! Extra points!

I knew I had to make a batch as soon as I saw them and how easy they were to make. Of course, I can never leave well enough alone when I see the opportunity to add in some personal touches to the recipe. After a few changes here and there, I have somewhat made a different version of it but nonetheless props to the awesome technique. You can be creative in so many way with this. I've already made a savory version with bacon, caramelized onion, and cheddar cheese, oh dear! It is so good sweet or savory.

Caramel Apple Roses
inspired by Cooking With Manuela

  • 1 sheet of puff pastry
  • 2 red apples (or any apple of your choice, red stands out)
  • about 3 tbsp of apricot preserve 
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 2-3 tbsp brown sugar 
For caramel sauce topping:
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecan
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 stick (4tbsp) butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (or whole milk)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Prepare muffin/cupcake pan by spraying or greasing the pan
  2. Prepare apples by coring and then cutting the apples in half then thinly slicing them. In a microwave safe mixing bowl, mix apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg together then set aside for about 10-15 minutes. 
  3. Soften the apples by microwaving them slightly for 30 seconds to a minute. Apples should be soft enough to bend but not break
  4. Unwrap thawed pastry dough, using a rolling pin, stretch out the dough to roughly dough in length (approx 12 x 9 inches) then cut into 6 strips (approx 2 x 9 inches).
  5. Spread a thin layer of apricot preserve onto each strip
  6. Arrange the apples by placing the slices lengthwise on the top half of the dough making sure the slices are slightly overlapping (refer to Cooking with Manuela link for pictures on how to).
  7. Fold up the bottom half of the dough. Starting from one end, slowly roll the dough into a circle making sure to keep the apples in place. Once you have finished rolling it, place into a muffin pan
  8. Bake at 375F degrees for about 40 -45 minutes
For caramel sauce:
  1. In a sauce pan, bring everything except the pecan to a boil over medium heat then bring it down to a simmer and continue heating with occasional stirring until caramel is thicken.
  2. Drizzle over finished apple roses and top with chopped pecans.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Kitchen Gear: T-Fal Ultimate EZ Clean Fryer

** not an endorsement, these are my own opinion and experiences.

Yup, bought myself a fryer. 
"Well you know you can just put oil in a pot and create you're own fryer right...?" Yes while that's very true, it's actually the smell that occurs during frying and how it lingers is what prompt this fryer buying decision.

I like to play with all sorts of cooking methods, including frying but I don't like doing it because it makes the entire house smell like the inside of a greasy restaurant fryer and then the smell lingers for days if you don't have a well ventilated kitchen. My mom actually suggested a pretty good idea, "why don't you just buy one of those single portable stove burners and fry outside?" It was genius except for when I started looking up how much a decent single portable burner costs, the dollars started adding up. Then out of curiosity, I decided to see how much a fryer would cost me and it turns out it didn't cost too much more than the burner. Well I mind as well get something meant for frying instead of taking a dark jab at the single portable burners (a lot of them had temperature control issues, hit and miss according to numerous reviews with numerous versions). So I changed gears, time to look for a decent fryer.

After many, and I mean many, hours of searching, I found the T-Fal fryer.
  • Cleaning: The entire thing comes apart and is dishwasher friendly (except the heating element but that can be detached) ... downfall is if you don't have a dishwasher its somewhat painful to wash by hand
  • Little mess: the oil sits low enough in the fryer that splashing is minimal. While researching, I saw a video of someone using a different fryer and it made a mess! Oil went all over their counters, nope!
  • Size: It's pretty big but the size is for functionality
  • Material: Almost completely stainless steel. Oil container is made with quality plastic
  • Price: $80 -$120 depending. It's actually cheaper now than when I bought it.... and totally worth it then and even more now... wish I held off and waited
  • Reviews: reviews HERE
  • Other positives: The frying oil drains and filters into a separate container that comes out and is enclosed so you can reuse the oil up to 10 different frying sessions. It's also pretty lightweight,easy to use, and portable so I can fry foods anywhere I want and not have to worry about it.

Read more HERE

** Side note: Fried foods are not the greatest health friendly method of cooking BUT when done correctly, fried foods actually don't contain as much oil as one would think. Essentially the hot oil flash cooks the food and when it comes out of the fryer, if the food is properly drained of the residue frying oil (i.e using a paper towel to absorb leftover oil) then the oil won't be absorbed into the food itself making it less fatty. 

Monday, October 31, 2016

Roasted Garlic Chili Oil!

One of my favorite coworker makes some of the most delicious authentic Mexican food in the world (at least in my world) and every time she whips up anything, knowing I have a deep love for food, she would always give me some. Another reason why I love her food is because she knows how to put some kick in her food. Yum! I love spicy!

So one time she brings me some chili oil to go with the dish and I could not get enough of of the chili oil, I could probably have put it on everything. It was delicious and I want more! I wanted to learn how to make it so I would never run out of it! Luckily, she was kind enough to share with me how she made it. Turns out, there's not much to it, actually gave me a few more ideas along the way. In the meantime, enjoy!

Roasted Garlic Chili Oil (very spicy!)
thanks Aqua!

  • 3oz bag of arbol chili (should be able to find in you local grocery store in the Mexican aisle)
  • 3-4 cups of olive oil
  • 7 - 8 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • pinch of salt
  • 2-3 tbsp smoked paprika 
  1.  Place all the ingredients into a sauce pan, over medium heat (in a simmer), cook everything until chili oil becomes very aromatic (about 15-20 minutes). Occasionally stirring. Be very careful, oil can be very HOT (literally)
  2. Once the oil is done cooking, set aside to cool. When the oil is cool enough to handle, transfer everything into a blender and pulse until desire consistency for the chili bits.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Beer: Guide for Sour Beers

Of course my first beer post is going to be about sour beers because they are my FAVORITE! Up until about a year ago, I didn't even know such a thing existed. This beer business is still relatively new for me, I've only started taking interest in it these last few years (mainly due to the caveman). To my greatest surprise, the world of craft beers is enormous! Arguably just as vast as the wine industry but very down played. It's definitely something that's gaining more momentum these days.

When I didn't know any better, I thought all beers were just slight variations of Coors Light, BudLight, Budwiser, etc, so initially after I had a few "beers," I decided it wasn't not my cup of tea. Well turns out, I didn't even scratch the surface. After being introduced to a lot more varieties and types of beers, I slowly began to develop a newfound respect for it. 

I ran across an article by Lucky Peach: A Guide to Sour Beers, that I'd like to share. Even though sours are my favorite, I actually don't know a whole lot about them so this is a pretty cool article to go through for some basic starting information and recommendations. Unfortunately some of the descriptions doesn't really do the beer justice, if anything it may sound gross but just note that the description is generalized and when it says things like "barnyard" it does not mean the pungent punch you in the face smell you get when you walk into an actual barnyard, it's talking about subtle notes of the aroma, like if you were a few houses away subtle. 
So here is a quick summary guide: 

  • originated around Brussels
  • wheat ale fermented by wild yeasts
  • hops are aged for several years to provide oxidized and cheesy aromas
  • the hot wort (unfermented beer) is left open to the cool air overnight to inoculate with wild microorganisms for fermentation
  • beer is tart, acidic, barnyard and animal funk, lemon, vinegar, and sharp cider
  • could be vintage specific or a blend of vintages
(pronounced gooz, if you're French and ger-za if you're Dutch, and ??? if you're American? ...a little bit of American humor?)
  • made similar to lambics but is a blend of old and new lambic to create a new concoction. 
  • usually made up of lambics 1-3 year olds although sometimes can be much older
Fruit Lambics:
  • made same as lambics but cut with whole, crushed, or juiced fruits to help balance harsh overtones of pure lambics
  • young lambics sweetened with Belgian candi sugar
Flanders Red:
  • originated in West Flanders region
  • blend of aged and young beer
  • reddish-brown malts, lacto fermented in oak vessels for 2-3 years
  • funky, bracingly tart with fruity esters and red wine-like tannins 
Old Bruin: 
("old brown" or brown Flanders)
  • similar to Flanders Red except this is from East Flanders
  • more malty and sweeter notes of ripe plum and raisins, lower tartness
Berliner Weisse:
  • native to Berlin
  • quick ferment wheat ale
  • lactobacillus fermentation causes tartness in beer
  • very similar to Berliner Weisse except with the addition of salt and coriander. 
Smoked Sour Ale:
  • no longer made but was once produced using smoked wheat that were unintentionally smoked using old malting techniques
** side note: I guess similar to wines, old world naming systems for beers are very region specific and strict which basically states that only beers produced in that region can be called that specific name. Example: Lambic are called lambics because of the region in which they were produced, like Champagne is produced in Champagne, France and the rest of the world has to call their bubbly "Sparkling Wine" even though they may be made the same way (another topic for another day)
Spontaneous Ale: 
  • the American made version of German lambics minus the official name of being called Lambics
Mixed Fermenation Ale:
  • like spontaneous ale but with specific strains of yeast/bacteria that are intentionally added to the fermentation
  • several different types of yeast are added and goes through a couple of fermentations
  • not necessarily sour if there was no lacto- or pedio- aids during fermentation where tartness is developed
American Style Gose:
  • better known as German Gose inspired new world version of the historic one which means its free play, like a remix
American Style Berliner Weisse: 
  • same as above but Berliner Weisse inspired.
  • kettle souring: where lactobacillus is introduced to the warm wort in the boil kettle there the wort is acidified then the bacteria is killed off by boiling the wort.
Dry-hopped Sour:
  • a blend between Gose and Weisse but hops are added to the mix to introduce citrus characteristics

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Passionfruit Almond Bostock!

What are bostocks? They look everything opposite of glamorous. Remember one of my favorite local bakeries, Gayle's? That's where I first set eyes on these mysterious pastries. They were 1/2 off in the day old pile! Can you believe it!? I snagged them up out of blind faith that anything from this bakery is delicious (and because they were 1/2 off! Duh inner cheap Asian). Thankfully, I was right, Gayle's never lets me down, they were delicious!

After I returned home from my victorious bargain find, I did a little research to see what they were but soon forgot about them completely until recently when I went to visit the Gayle's website and my eyes landed on the words bostock, suddenly every memory came flooding back and I wanted some! So what are they? Well according to a few web sources (Flo Braker of SFGate, Chad Robertson of Foodthinkers, and Sarah Jampel of Food52): Bostock is a simple French pastry, made with day-old bread (usually brioche or similar dense bread), brushed with a flavored syrup, topped with an almond cream and sliced almonds, and baked until golden. It is as simple and delicious as it sounds.

It's a pretty versatile piece of work. Enjoy it with a cup of hot coffee in the morning, snack on it in the afternoon with some fresh fruit, or have it as a dessert after a hardy meal with a dollop of whip cream. Whichever way you want it, it's all good! 

I had some passionfruit sitting around at home so I decided to make that my syrup of choice, but any syrup will do just fine. Yum.  
Passionfruit Almond Bostocks
bostock based on Atelier Christine and syrup based on PBS Foods 

  • 1 loaf Brioche bread, cut slices 3/4" to 1" thick (I used Trader Joe's Brioche buns, $2.99 for 4 buns)
  • sliced toasted almonds for topping (optional) 
For almond cream:
  • 6 tbsp butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup of sugar
  • 3/4 cup of almond meal
  • 2 tbsp of flour
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp Grand Marnier
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp almond extract 
For passionfruit syrup:
  • 2/3 cup of sugar
  • 2/3 cup of water
  • few drops of lemon juice
  • 3 passionfruits (they are considered ripe when they're all shriveled like a raisin) 
  • 1/2 tsp orange extract (or orange zest)
  • 1-2 tbsp amaretto      
To make almond cream:
  1. Cream together butter and sugar then mix in almond meal, flour, and cornstarch until well combine and then add in egg. Mix together and then add in almond extract and Grand Marnier. Set aside in fridge to chill while you make the syrup.
 For syrup:
  1. Combine sugar, water, and lemon juice in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally for 5 minutes while still boiling
  2. Add in the passionfruit (including the seeds), lower heat to a simmer cook for an addtional 1-2 minutes then add in orange extract and amaretto
  3. Remove from heat and let it cool for a few minutes
To assemble/bake 
  1. Take a slice of brioche bread, brush with a layer of syrup (let its get saturated a little), then spread 2-3 tbsp of almond cream on top, sprinkle on sliced almonds. ** Make sure to leave about 1/4" between the almond cream and edge of the bread if you don't want it to bake over
  2. Bake in the oven at 350F for 12-20 minutes or until the cream is golden brown and fluffy.