Saturday, May 30, 2015

No Churn Chocolate Chip Chocolate Ice Cream

For the little girl... who has requested, repeatedly for several days now, chocolate ice cream with chocolate chips in it.

This recipe was given to me by an e-friend, who gave me permission to share...

1/2 cup chocolate milk
1/2 cup condensed milk
1/3 cup Dutch style cocoa
300 ml heavy 40% cream
3 to 5 tablespoons mini chocolate chips

Stir together the chocolate milk, condensed milk and cocoa until thoroughly mixed.  Chill for a couple of hours.

Whip the cream until stiff peaks.  Fold in the chocolate-milk mixture.

Pour into prepared container (about 1 liter capacity).  Freeze for 1 to 2 hours, until sides begin to freeze but center is still a bit liquid-y.  Stir the mixture then fold in chocolate chips.  Freeze until solid.

The little girl obviously loved her ice cream.  It was delicious, although I found it a tad a bit on the sweet side.  It's a little sweeter, particularly the end-note, than my go-to homemade chocolate ice cream, but it is darker and has a more complex chocolate-y taste, maybe due to chocolate milk component.

In any case, the little girl pronounced me her (kitchen) hero once again!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Homemade Cultured Butter

My first attempt to make homemade butter was a flop.  I used my KitchenAid stand mixer (it was really messy) and actually saw the buttermilk separate but thought that the liquid was too little so I kept going.  Big mistake.  The buttermilk reincorporated in the butter and I ended up with something NOT butter!  It spoiled overnight.

I did not want to try again!

But then I saw this video...

And I raced to the nearest supermarket and a 500ml bottle of water.  I still had some fresh cream in the fridge and started "culturing" the cream, because I wanted cultured butter.  I followed the instructions in the book Kitchen Creamery, page 55-56)

After 24 hours, I poured 250 ml of cultured cream in the (clean) water bottle.  Then I shook the bottle for about 10 to 15 minutes (no way I could do it in a minute, the guy in the video has serious muscle, I have serious fat).  About 3 minutes into shaking, I started to doubt myself (the little girl told me I looked really funny); it seemed that there was no activity within the bottle even as I shook it as hard as I could (which was nowhere near the guy in the video!).  I changed tactics and started smacking the bottle against the kitchen table to dislodge the contents which seemed to be sticking to the inside wall of the bottle.  After a while I heard sloshing!!!!  And I could see a solid mass separated from what looked like milk.  I drained the (real) buttermilk.

After most of the buttermilk was drained (and I realize that the small opening of the water bottle was actually ideal for draining!), there was a definite mass of butter!

I cut the bottle open and reveled in my success!

I poured the butter into a fine mesh sieve to drain for a couple of minutes. 

I wished I could get the bits of butter stuck to the sides of bottle out.

I used a coffee filter to pat the butter dry then moved it to a bowl for washing.  I washed 7 times until the water looked clear.

The third washing shows that the water was still very cloudy.

The seventh wash where the water was rather clear.

I drained the water from the final washing and dried the butter with another coffee filter.  Then I mixed in a pinch of Himalayan pink salt.

We had a taste of the butter smeared on a piece of bread... and I promptly promised never to buy butter (for eating) again!  It was honestly the best butter I have ever tasted!

And I am perfectly happy with this water bottle technique.  It yields about half a cup of butter, which suits us just fine.  We are not really lovers of butter so a very small batch is ok.  Especially since the butter has to be consumed within a week (fresh cream, no preservatives!).  I seriously doubt we could finish a large amount of butter anyway (plus it's not really healthy to consume copious amounts of butter!)

A week later...

We finished the first batch of homemade butter in less than a week.  And I'd been wanting to make another batch.

I got everything from the store a couple of days before... I even bought bottled water (just for the bottle, mind you!)  The first step?  Culturing the cream.

To my dismay, I discovered that someone took MY bottled water, drank the water, then threw the bottle away!  @#!$#%$^%^  Hmpf.  I didn't mind the water being gone, but I needed the bottle!  Now what was I going to use?  I couldn't go out of the house to buy bottle water again (not practical to waste gasoline just for a bottle!) so I checked all the cupboards and found a plastic tea/water bottle that I got as a gift last Christmas.  Well, I was rather desperate and that was all I could find... so that was it.

So I went to work and shook... it took longer (about 8 more minutes) than the disposable water bottle but it was still doable.  So I guess I will be using this from now on - at least I don't have to keep buy bottled water (and not for the water but for the container!)  This particular bottle has a big opening but it also has a smaller one so it was actually perfect... drain the buttermilk through the small spout, open the lid and scrape everything into a sieve!  I can get even the smaller bits stuck to the sides of the bottle.

This time I drained my butter directly in the sieve, without a coffee filter.

The butter was washed 7 times... the first wash - very cloudy - 

The final wash (I specifically prepared a separate container) - really clear! -

Then we had merienda!  Hot pandesal with fresh cultured butter slathered on!


Friday, May 22, 2015

Oatmeal and Chocolate Pudding

Ok, I'm finally admitting it... the truth is, I've been trying to have a healthier breakfast habit.  I usually have rice, a fried egg and some processed meat but hubby has been nagging me to eat healthier (and join him at the gym, but no!).  For now I'm trying the healthy breakfast... so here's another one... oatmeal-based once again...

The oatmeal layer is a half-cooked 1:1 oatmeal and low fat milk concoction.  Just mix together 1/2 cup each of whole oats and 1/2 cup low fat milk.  Heat gently until the mixture becomes paste-like.  Cool completely before assembling.

I vary the toppings (or layers - Greek-style yogurt and fruit are perfect!) and for this particular one, it's a chocolate pudding.  Okay, not really that healthy considering the heavy cream but baby steps!  baby steps!   (I promise to experiment with a yogurt pudding or something... but my problem with yogurt is that it is too tangy and I end up using quite a bit of sugar, which is not healthy either!)  Besides, this chocolate pudding is so easy (it's no cook and one bowl, to boot) I really couldn't resist!

1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp cocoa powder
60 grams bittersweet 62% chocolate
15 grams lightly salted butter (optional)
1/2 tsp vanilla in rum

Heat the cream, in the microwave, until nearly boiling (but do not boil).  A glass, micro-safe measuring cup is perfect for this.  Stir in the cocoa powder, chocolate and butter; stir until everything is melted and smooth.  Add the vanilla in rum.  (Cool slightly.)  Pour over the oatmeal layer and chill overnight.  If desired, garnish with chocolate curls.  Enjoy the next morning!

(I'm not a fan of oatmeal, but I like this concoction!)

The three of us ate this for breakfast... the little girl loved the pudding, the oatmeal, however, is another story.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Chilli con Carne and Cheese Dip

I like my chilli con carne with more meat than beans.  However, when it is meant as a dip, I like it with lots and lots of beans!  And cheese!!!

My recipe is a variation of my mom's; to be more accurate, it is a short cut of my mom's recipe.  My mom used to make it, beginning a couple of days before, with raw beans!  Uh... not me!  Canned beans are perfectly fine!  For this particular chilli con carne dip, the baked beans in tomato sauce (I like Ayam brand!  they even have a light version) is perfect!  Just drain the extra sauce (don't rinse, since the sweet-ish sauce completes the spiciness of the dish.

250 grams ground meat (pork, beef, chicken or a mix)
1 cup baked beans, drained
1 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup diced tomatoes, with liquids
2 tablespoons tomato paste, optional
1 to 2 pieces siling labuyo or hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
salt and pepper, to taste
pizza cheese mix (mozzarella, parmesan and cheddar mix), coarsely grated

Saute the onions and garlic.  Add the ground meat and stir-fry until the meat is almost done.  Add the drained beans, diced tomatoes, tomato paste (this is to help thicken the mix faster but optional) and the spices (feel free to adjust the spices according to personal taste).  Stir gently so that the beans don't get crushed.  If the mixture is too thick, add water gradually.  The dish should be thick but not soupy.  Simmer a few minutes for the flavors to meld.

Spoon into a bowl and sprinkle a generous/hefty amount of mixed cheese.  Zap with a torch (or broil a couple of minutes) to melt the cheese.  Serve immediately!  with nachos, of course!

We served this to hubby's Thursday group and they were a big hit!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Japanese Cucumber Salad with Creamy Sesame Dressing

Cucumbers have a special place in my heart.

I remember that it was favorite diet food - cucumber salad - a couple of decades ago when we were college students.  As college bud S says, back in those days we thought we were fat, but now we realize we may have been chunky but we were (definitely) not fat.

Anyway, I was killing time at the supermarket the other day and I saw organic Japanese cucumbers!  I immediately thought of hubby and how much he liked the Japanese cucumbers we had a couple of weeks ago.  I also remember how much I liked cucumbers and suddenly I had a craving for it.   

The salad begins, of course, with Japanese cucumbers.  A pack contained 3 pieces.

My mom told me that cucumbers needed preparation otherwise it would exude water and ruin the dish.  I assume that the preparation applied to all cucumbers, even the Japanese ones, so after peeling strips of skin then slicing the cucumbers into not-so-thin slices, I tossed them with sea salt.  The salted cucumbers sat for about 10 minutes (after which a significant amount of liquid was out, then I rinse them, drained them for another 10 minutes then patted the pieces dry with (a lot of) kitchen towels!  Chill in the refrigerator while the dressing is being prepared

Toss the dressing with the cucumbers.  A side note here - I find that too much dressing tends to overpower the cucumbers so I add the dressing gradually.  I usually have leftover dressing.

As far as I am concerned, I am perfectly happy with the salad as is.  But hubby likes crabsticks and asked if we had any.  We had about 7 pieces left, so I added them to the salad, and added some dressing as well.  Turns out my dressing was just enough with the crabsticks added.

Recipe:  Japanese Cucumber and Crabstick Salad with Creamy Sesame Dressing

3 pieces Japanese cucumbers
Sea salt
7 pieces crab sticks (optional)

For the dressing:
3 tablespoons roasted white sesame seeds
2 to 3 tablespoons Japanese mayonnaise
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
½ tablespoon sugar
½ to 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Prepare the cucumbers by rinsing, peeling, and slicing the cucumbers.  Toss then soak the sliced cucumbers in sea salt for about 10 minutes.  Rinse thoroughly and squeeze any liquid out.  Pat dry.  Chill in the meantime.

Mix the dressing ingredients together then toss with cucumbers and crabsticks, if using.

Chill until ready to serve.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Apple Caramel Tart

Hubby and I went to a baking fair about a month ago and (no surprise here) we came home with a few finds, one of which was this rectangular tart pan (with a removable bottom).  The first thing I wanted to bake in it was apple tart!

To make it easy, I used (1) puff pastry for the crust, (2) mandoline to slice the apples [2 pieces largish Fujis) and (3) honey, butter and apple pie spice for the "caramel" [mix together 1/8 cup honey, 1/4 cup softened butter and 1/4 teaspoon apple pie spice then dot over the sliced apples arranged in the puff pastry crust].  

Leave to bake at 375F for about 30 minutes (or until puff pastry edges turn golden).  Serve immediately.

Easiest dessert ever!  And delicious, to boot!!!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Braised Chicken with Chestnuts

I couldn't get out of cooking dinner.  As much as I preferred to eat out (just to escape the heat)... hubby insisted on having dinner at home.  He was tired of eating out and (he says) he missed my cooking.  So, fine.  If I had to cook, I wanted something that was fast... maximum of 15 minutes on the stove!

This is what I came up with...

250 grams boneless, skinless chicken thighs
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil

3 thin slices of ginger
6 pieces dried shitake mushrooms, rehydrated, stems removed
100 grams cooked, shelled chestnuts
splash of rice wine
water or stock
2 pieces star anise
1 piece siling labuyo (red chili)
light soy sauce, to taste

Rinse the chicken thighs and remove any excess fat.  Slice each thigh into 2 or 3 pieces.  Marinate in soy sauce and sesame oil for at least 2 hours (in the fridge).

Saute ginger then quick fry the chicken thighs (pour in all the marinade also).  Add the rehydrated mushrooms (slice in half if they are too big) and chestnuts.  Splash with a little rice wine.  Add enough water or stock to barely cover everything.  Throw in star anise and chili.  Season to taste.

Simmer about 15 minutes or until the chicken is done.  Thicken with cornstarch slurry, if desired.  Serve over rice.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Oatmeal-Yogurt-Berries Breakfast Parfait

Summer is in full swing and it is hot, hot, hot!  In fact, the weather bureau has announced a weak El Niño that is likely to exist until June or July!  The heat index is nearing 41 and several areas have been declared as drought areas, with farmers suffering as their crops and fields are damaged by the extreme heat and lack of water.

I have not used the oven in a month!  It really is too hot to bake!  The last time I baked, the kitchen felt like a sauna.  We don't even cook long, because even with an exhaust system, it is JUST TOO HOT.

So, how to cool off?  Well, I have been making tons of ice cream... so far, at least once a week!  And I'm learning to appreciate the so-called ice-box cakes (like this tiramisu), with my next project being a mango refirgerator cake (if I can find sweet mangoes, that is).

Anyway, because of the heat, I served hubby a cool breakfast...

Of course I made it with my homemade Greek-style yogurt... (I discovered another use for my coffee filter/maker!  Definitely takes up less space in the fridge.)

And the wonderful thing about this parfait?  No cooking at all!  And it's super chilled!

1/2 cup instant whole oats, raw
1/3 cup milk
1/2 to 1 tablespoon chia seeds

3/4 cup Greek-style yogurt

150 to 200 grams frozen berries (or any combination fruit as preferred)

mascarpone cheese, optional

Mix together the oats, milk and chia seeds.  Let stand in the fridge for about 30 minutes, or until the mixture is thick and goopy.

Using a parfait glass, or in my case, a short and wide-mouthed tumbler/drinking glass, spoon a layer of oatmeal at the bottom, top with yogurt then frozen or fresh berries.  Repeat the layering.  Chill overnight, or do as I did (because I made it early in the morning, about an hour before hubby returned from the gym), stick it in the freezer!  Just before serving, dollop a tablespoon of mascarpone on top.  (Hubby opted out of this.)


(If you notice there is no sweetener added to this recipe.  Hubby prefers it that way; he says that he likes his breakfast parfait on the tangy side.  Sweeten according to your preference.)