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Archive for October, 2011

Back then when I worked in downtown San Francisco, I used to go to Fuzio for lunch with my co-workers. I love their firecracker pork fusilli, calamari linguine and panini. Too bad, this restaurant chain closed down few years ago.

Recently I picked up a pack of beef short rib cut at Costco, then I suddenly remembered my favorite Fuzio’s firecracker pork pasta– I decided to try replicate the flavor. I searched the recipe online and found out I had most ingredients, so here comes my new beef stew/pasta dish…

How did it turn out? Well, since the restaurant closed long time ago there’s no way I can compare side by side, but I did remember the familiar flavor! I would say it’s pretty darn close to what Fuzio served. The other thing is that I found habanero cilantro aioli and sour cream are a must for this pasta dish– they complement each other well and give the pasta a full body taste, with a hint of heat to break up the richness in flavor.

Beef Stew Cavatappi Pasta

Beef Stew Cavatappi Pasta

Beef Stew Cavatappi Pasta Recipe– adapted from this free recipe website (serves 6-8 people)

Ingredients:
2.5 lbs beef short rib cut– cut into 1.5 inch size chunks

Marinade:
1/2 pineapple– remove the core– see note below
1 bunch cilantro– see note below
2 stalks green onion
5 cloves garlic
5 tbsp ginger
1 medium onion
6 tbsp sugar– see note below
1 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup water
2 packs (about 1 lb each) cavatappi pasta (spiral tube shape pasta)
habanero cilantro aioli– recipe follows
sour cream

Method:

  1. Blend all marinade ingredients until fine (soy sauce) in a food processor. Add in soy sauce and beef. Marinate in the fridge for 24 hours.
  2. Drain beef but keep the marinade. Add little oil in a frying pan, pan fry beef to brown the surface. Pour in marinade and add in  water. At this point you may also transfer beef to a deep pot for stewing.
  3. Cover, stew on high heat for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and stew until the beef is tender, at least 1 hour, depending what type/cut of meat you use. Be sure to stir occasionally so the meat won’t stick to the bottom of the pan/pot. Slightly shred the beef with a fork.
  4. Cook cavatappi pasta according package instruction.
  5. Serve beef stew with pasta, with a dollop of habanero cilantro aioli and sour cream on the top. Mix well before eating as the aioli and sour cream add a little heat and creamy touch to the flavor.

Habanero cilantro aioli (blend all ingredients in a food processor, add little more olive oil if necessary):
1 bunch cilantro– see note below
3 cloves garlic
1 habanero pepper– see note below
2 tbsp finely grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup olive oil

Regina’s Note:

  • This beef stew is towards a stronger flavor, so it goes well with Chinese dry tossed noodles, or even steam rice!
  • Beef tri tip or beef for stew can also be used. Pork (tenderloin, roast pork butt) can be used too. Trim off excess fat if necessary. Please note cooking time may vary.
  • Pineapple & Sugar: if canned pineapple juice is used, skip the sugar.
  • Cilantro: try to use as much leafy part as possible, especially for habanero cilantro aioli.
  • Habanero: the pepper was very HOT, but after the aioli was made the spicy level tones down to mild.

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I have over ripe bananas again! This time I’m not interested in banana quick bread, nor waffles or pancakes. I searched online for light and fluffy banana cake recipes, but didn’t find anything good (at least from all the food pictures– forget those recipes without picture!). So, I decided to throw in some ingredients together and make my own banana cake.

This cake is kinda like my banana chiffon cake, except it is baked in a rectangle 9 by 13 inch glass baking pan. Although it is much lighter and fluffy than average cakes, it is still a little denser than a chiffon cake. Oh, the cake bottom stuck on the baking pan even though I sprayed with cooking oil. Next time I should grease the pan really well before pouring in cake batter. One nice and crunchy touch is the coconut and walnut sprinkles on the top, especially the finely shredded coconut– it gives a nice sweet crunch and flavor to the cake. Love it !

Fluffy Banana Cake

Fluffy Banana Cake

Fluffy Banana Cake

Fluffy Banana Cake

Fluffy Banana Cake Recipe (makes one 9 x 13 inch pan)

Ingredients:

for yolk mixture:
4 egg yolks
4 tbsp sugar
2 ripe bananas– mashed
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
5 tbsp unsalted butter– melted
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

for egg white mixture:
4 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
3 tbsp sugar

for sprinkles:
finely shredded sweetened coconut
chopped walnuts

Method:

  1. Prepare yolk mixture: In a large mixing bowl whisk yolks and sugar with a balloon whisk, until it is pale yellow and fluffy. Mix in mashed bananas, vanilla extract, butter and salt to combine. Sift in cake flour, baking powder and ground cinnamon combined, in 2 batches. Mix until no dry ingredients appear.
  2. Prepare egg white mixture: In a separate bowl, whip egg white and cream of tartar until frothy. Gradually add in sugar, one tbsp at a time, and whip on high speed until soft peak (whipped egg white should have a little curl at the end tip when lifted up).
  3. Gently FOLD IN whipped egg whites to yolk mixture, in 3 batches. Pour cake batter into a well greased 9 x 13 inch cake pan. Sprinkle grated coconut and walnuts on the top. Bake in preheated 350°F oven for 20 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cake cool in pan for 5 minutes before transferring out to continue cooling on a rack.

Regina’s Note:

  • Baking pan: grease the pan really well or use parchment paper for lining to prevent cake sticking at the bottom.
  • Baking time: I baked at 350°F oven for 20 minutes and I noticed the edges of the cake are a little dry. Try 325°/20-30 minutes next time?

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“Rendang” is a type of stew that tastes like curry, but with a tangy flavor as tamarind juice is used to create that slightly sour taste. If you use chicken then it is called rendang chicken, use beef then it becomes rendang beef. I have made rendang chicken before with spice paste made from scratch. It was very delicious, except it took a good 30-45 minutes to cook the spices paste which kinda of drives me away sometimes when I just don’t have the time for it.

Now, the problem solved with the help of “bamboe” brand rendang instant spices paste. One of my Chinese drawing classmates made rendang beef with instant spice paste for our potluck gathering last year, and it turned out very delicious– the sauce was rich in flavor and the beef was very tender. I finally tried out the instant spice the other day; it was very easy indeed as per instructions. All you need are cut beef chunks, instant spice paste and coconut milk, nothing else– not even salt! And yet, the result is very promising restaurant style gourmet food that will impress everyone. Try it out for your next potluck.

Rendang Beef

Rendang Beef

Rendang Beef (serves 4-6 people)

Ingredients:
2 1/2 lb beef– see note below
2 packs “bamboe” Brand rendang instant spices paste– see picture below
2 cans (about 14 fl. oz. each) coconut milk– see note below

Method:

  1. Cut beef into bite size chunks. Boil beef in a large pot along with 3-4 slices of fresh ginger (optional– to remove any beef meaty smell). Be sure there is enough water to cover the beef during boiling. Cover and cook over medium heat for at least 1 hour, until the meat is tender. Remove beef and discard ginger.
  2. Put beef, instant spices paste and coconut milk in another pot. Stir the sauce to blend well. Cook over medium heat, uncovered and stir occasionally, until the sauce thickens to a gravy stage– at this point there will be oil forming from the bubbling sauce and the sauce looks like spicy oily mud (if you cook longer there will be more oil (from coconut milk) forming). Serves hot with steamed rice.

Regina’s Note:

  • Beef: I like to use beef tri tip cut as it has some marble fat, but you can also use beef cuts for stew.
  • Coconut milk: Regardless of what brand I use, I always check the nutrition fact for the total fat content– the higher the percentage the better, meaning it has more coconut milk instead of water. One of the highest percentage I found is 27% (Yep, that is why rendang dishes is only a rare occasion treat due to its fat content ;-))
  • Spiciness: The spices paste is not spicy at all. I have to add 1-2 tbsp of homemade sambal chilli sauce to make it a little spicy.
Rendang Beef-- the instant spices paste

Rendang Beef-- the instant spices paste

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Hi all! I am excited to tell you that I was invited to be a guest blogger on my friend, Luisa Ormonde’s blog– Tales of Three Bakers. It is my very first guest blog and I feel very honorable. The recipe I chose was chocolate hazelnut tart. I am only posting the pictures here, for recipe please visit her website 🙂

I met Luisa through the Nishihiras, close friends of our family. She is a very good cook, and runs a gourmet food catering business. We are always drooling over the pictures of delicious food that she made. If you have catering needs for any occasions, check out her catering website. I am sure you won’t be disappointed!

Chocolate Hazelnut Tart

Chocolate Hazelnut Tart

Chocolate Hazelnut Tart

Chocolate Hazelnut Tart

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I finally found these mochi puff premix from a local Korean grocery store. There is not English baking instructions but luckily there are pictures for guidance too. The instructions are pretty simple, just add water and one egg to the premix, knead and bake. These treats are super yummy once they came out from the oven, while center is soft and slightly chewy and crispy on the crust. As they cool down, they gets chewier and chewier and  the crust eventually gets soft.

Anyhow, this is what I have been trying to replicate after all my mochi puff trials. I’m not giving up yet, wish me luck!

Mochi Puff (Premix)-- all I did was adding water and 1 egg to the premix.

Mochi Puff (Premix)-- all I did was adding water and 1 egg to the premix.

Mochi Puff (Premix)-- here is the texture of the dough.

Mochi Puff (Premix)-- here is the texture of the dough.

Mochi Puff (Premix)-- spraying sowm water on the dough before baking.

Mochi Puff (Premix)-- spraying sowm water on the dough before baking.

Mochi Puff (Premix)-- after baking, they puff up beautifully round. See how nicely they crack on the surface too?

Mochi Puff (Premix)-- after baking, they puff up beautifully round. See how nicely they crack on the surface too?

Mochi Puff (Premix)-- a close up look of a mochi puff. It is very light, airy and hollow in the center while crispy on the surface.

Mochi Puff (Premix)-- a close up look of a mochi puff. It is very light, airy and hollow in the center while crispy on the surface.

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The flavor is good– slightly sweet and milky, and nutty from black sesame seeds. But, the texture is more like a bread than a chewy mochi. I think I used too much bread flour this time. After adding the wet ingredients to the flour mixture, the dough was still quite wet so I added in 2 more tbsp of tapioca flour and bread flour each. At this point I was able to knead the dough and rolled into individual balls by hand, but also making the puffs even more bread like. Next time I should cut down water and see how it goes…

Mochi Puff Trial #3

Mochi Puff Trial #3

Mochi Puff Trial #3

Ingredients:
2/3 cup + 2 tbsp tapioca flour
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp bread flour
2 1/2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp milk powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp toasted black sesame seeds
1 egg
1/2 tbsp oil
50 ml water

Method:

  1. Preheat oven t 350°F. Mix all ingredients in a mixing bowl to form a dough. Knead to blend well. Divide and roll into 12-15 balls.
  2. Place balls on baking pan lined with parchment paper. Spray some water on the balls. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool on the rack. Serve immediately while they are still soft and chewy in the center while crispy on the surface. As they cool down they turn more chewy and harder.
Mochi Puff Trial #3

Mochi Puff Trial #3

Mochi Puff Trial #3

Mochi Puff Trial #3

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This is one of the popular dessert soups in Malaysia. I like to use coconut sugar “gula Melaka” 椰糖 for making this dessert; it does bring out the nice fragrant that is hard to describe. Unfortunately, I can’t find “gula Melaka” here in US and I have to bring some from Malaysia. I tried using palm sugar (available here in Asian grocery stores) but it just doesn’t taste the same. Also, the other ingredient to make this dessert soup fragrant is fresh pandan leaves. I can’t find any fresh pandan leaves (and I don’t want to use pandan juice/extract because I don’t want to turn it to a green soup), so I skip it.

Bo Bo Cha Cha

Bo Bo Cha Cha

BoBo ChaCha Recipe (serves 4-6 people)

Ingredients:
1 lb taro– peel and cut into small cubes
1 lb sweet potatoes (Japanese sweet potatoes preferred)– peel and cut into small cubes
1 cylinder block  (2 inch diameter) coconut sugar “gula Melaka” 椰糖
1/3 cup + 5 cups water
3-4 pandan leaves
1/2 cup sago balls or tiny tapioca balls– soak for a couple of minutes then drain
2 cans (5.6fl oz/165 ml each) coconut milk
2/3 cup sugar

Method:

  1. In a small sauce pan, boil 1/3 cup water and coconut sugar “gula Melaka” until sugar dissolves. Sift and set aside.
  2. Cook sago balls in a different pot with enough water until sago is  transparent. Drain and rinse under cold water. Put cooked sago balls in a bowl with cool water so they don’t stick together.
  3. Boil 5 cups of water and fresh pandan leaves (if used) in a medium pot, cook taro for 5-8 minutes then add in sweet potatoes. Cook until taro and sweet potatoes are soft. Stir in coconut milk, coconut sugar syrup and sugar, bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in cooked sago balls. Serve hot or cold.

Regina’s Note:

  • Sago balls: soaking sago balls briefly will speed up cooking time and help cook through the center of the balls.

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