Saturday, October 27, 2012

Pumpkin and beef brisket stew 南瓜牛腩腸粉

I don't think I've ever made anything else with such a Chinese twist. Last night I was craving some pumpkin, and I figured maybe I can make some Cantonese style beef brisket and throw some pumpkin in there! I figured the sweetness of the pumpkin will pair well with the beef. I was looking for some fresh flat broad noodles (河粉) to go with it, but instead I saw this pack of rice noodle rolls (肠粉) that looked very promising. Pumpkin and beef brisket stew on rice noodle roll. Sounds delicious so far. So that's what I did. And it was delicious. (Note: this takes at least 6 hours to make!)

Pumpkin and beef brisket stew 南瓜牛腩腸粉
2-3lb pumpkin, cubed
1-1.5lb beef stomach*, cubed
1 packet fresh rice noodle roll
1 can chicken broth
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp chu hou paste (a premade garlic, ginger, and soybean paste found in Chinese supermarkets)
5 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp olive oil

*For beef preparation:
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp rice cooking wine
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tbsp corn starch

1. After cubing the tendony beef stomach, toss it in the soy sauce, rice cooking wine, garlic powder, baking soda, brown sugar, and corn starch.
2. Heat a large saucepan (preferably nonstick) with the vegetable oil and garlic. When sizzling, drop in the beef with the chu hou paste and sear it until a nice brown color.
3. Add the chicken broth to the beef and simmer for 5-6 hours (good times). Every other hour or so, remove it from the heat and let it cool down. Then place it back on the stove to simmer again.
4. When you have about 2 hours of waiting left to go, preheat the oven to 325 degrees Farenheit.
5. Toss the pumpkin in a tbsp of olive oil. Then place it in a baking dish.
6. Scoop out several spoonfuls of the beef brisket stock into the baking dish. Bake for 1.5-2 hrs or until soft.
7. When there are fifteen minutes left, take out the rice noodle rolls and pan fry them with a touch of vegetable oil. (Careful, it gets sticky!)
8. WHEN EVERYTHING IS FINALLY FINISHED COOKING, dump the baking dish full of pumpkin in with the beef brisket and stir.
9. Serve the pumpkin and beef brisket stew over the rice noodle rolls!

It was a TON of work, but completely worth it and flavorful in the end! Perfect recipe for autumn. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Homemade apple crisp!

I hope this recipe comes just in time before apple season is over (though apple season is magically year round in America...), because I just made some apple crisp last night and it turned out absolutely delicious! Before I forget, let me tell you all how EASY this recipe is. So simple that I made it with no glasses and a facial mask on. TMI? Well, it was that easy.

Since my apple picking adventure last weekend, I've been pretty much eating an apple a day. However, it is quite difficult to finish an entire peck, so I had a few that have gotten a bruise or a bump here or there that I decided to slice up and throw together in the form of a crisp! 

This is not as traditional a recipe because:
1. I use a fraction the recommended amount of loose sugar
2. You enjoy it with yogurt and honey instead of ice cream
I'm still in nutrition school, so when a recipe called for 1 cup of brown sugar and 1 cup of white sugar for just 3 apples, I couldn't take it. But if you're itching for that extra tinge of sweetness, fear not because the yogurt and honey topping is so delicious you will want to eat it with every dessert and by itself. Furthermore, this recipe calls for ROLLED OATS. YAY, LOTS OF FIBER! So I found this version preferably to those that only use sugar and butter for the crumble. 

Apple Crisp (serves 6)
2-3 medium apples*, sliced thinly
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tbsp of butter, a little warmer than room temp (I microwaved it for 20 seconds) 
4 tsp ground cinnamon

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. 
2. In a mixing bowl, mix the butter, half the brown sugar, flour, and oats until crumbly. (Easier if you get down and dirty with your hands)
3. In a square baking dish (I used an 8x8 in), spread the sliced apples on top. Sift cinnamon and remaining sugar over the apples and mix well. 
4. Spread the the crumble mixture over the apples evenly.
5. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown.

*I just so happen to have Cortland apples, which are a bit tart and crunchier and preferred for baking. Other apples that you can use: Honeycrisp, Braeburn, Granny Smith, Gala.


Okay, so this yogurt and honey topping isn't a real groundbreaking recipe, but I think it's a great things to keep in mind for topping replacement for whipped cream or ice cream because it's a lot lower in sugar and fat. And it's a lot more delicious and interesting than just plain yogurt, and a lot more bougie than just flavored yogurt, so go impress your dinner guests and save them a few calories! 

Yogurt and honey topping (serves 6)
1 cup Greek yogurt*  
2 tbsp honey

*I used 2%, but please use fat free if you so choose.  

1. Stir together in a bowl, and serve over apple crisp, pie, fresh fruit, or just about anything!
1. Scoop a dollop of yogurt over apple crisp, pie, fresh fruit, etc., and drizzle honey over. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Oh! Taisho

If you like barbecued meat, Oh! Taisho might just be the place for you. Now that the weather is getting progressively more unpleasant, wouldn't you want to sit in a warm restaurant to eat some steaming hot fresh off the grill skewers? 

Oh! Taisho is located on Saint Marks next to all the other Japanese izakayas. They specialize especially in yakitori, grilled skewered marinated meat. How good does that sound already? Though I usually just get an assortment of that, since I was dining with three other people, we decided to try a few other things as well. 

We started off with the chikuwa cheese, which was deep fried fishcake with mozzarella. Yeah, I know, that must sound weird, but I love my cheesy things. In addition, we got a spicy cod roe and a plum onigiri (rice ball) for the table, which were surprisingly gargantuan. 

From the grill, we ordered an assortment of skewers a la carte because the combos just never have exactly what I want. 
Things I always get at yakitoris
- chicken gizzard
- chicken skin (whatever, super guilty pleasure from childhood)
- gingko nut (not available everywhere, like here)
- beef tongue 
- scallion
- mushrooms
- garlic
Things in addition to that you should definitely try at Oh! Taisho: 
- chicken meat ball
I've never been one for meat balls, but this one was particularly juicy! I'd definitely go back for some more of that. We also got an order of spare ribs, which were also massive in size. They were kind of rough, and we couldn't finish them, but they tasted great when I had them for leftovers the next day.

To top everything off, we got an unatama don, a sort of eel omelet over rice. I don't know why I love these omelet rices, but egg with rice in general is always a winner for me, so this was great to balance with the sometimes salty skewers. 

This place can get crowded and noisy, so if you're looking for a quieter/more upscale eatery, perhaps try Yakitori Totto uptown instead. Otherwise, squeeze right in to Oh! Taisho. 

Unatama don (top left), Chikuwa cheese (bottom), and onigiri (right)

Barbecued spare ribs

Unatama don

Oh! Taisho
9 Saint Marks Place
New York, NY 10003

Monday, October 15, 2012

Things to do this fall: cider donuts, pumpkin picking, and hot chocolate

Fine, I realize that I've posted about both these places before, but they are the perfect locales to visit during this blustery fall season. 

The pumpkin patch at Smolak

I went to Smolak Farms again for some late apple picking. Usually by early October, all the apples are gone and the pumpkins are in. However, they were still letting visitors venture into their orchards to pick the last few apples on the very top of their trees (I honestly couldn't reach more than 80% of the apples). Despite the challenges, I managed to get a full peck! (20-25 apples... did you know that?) 

But let's be real. The reason why I returned to Smolak was because the last time I was visited, their apple cider doughnuts were sold out, which I attribute to their recent selection as best cider doughnuts on the North Shore. But because 'tis the season, the doughnuts are back by the hoards. There was an endless supply of them, and you could find them at every register and stand at the farm. I got myself the original Apple Cider Donuts, which are covered in cinnamon sugar and spice, but they also have powdered sugar or plain options. They come in 6 packs for $6, and they're $10 a dozen on their website if you want them delivered. Dip 'em in their hot apple cider, and you're golden. 

Note: They also have seasonal festivities such as haystack rides (currently Peter Pan themed to promote their on-site drama production) and hot apple sundaes!

Where the doughnuts are made

Apple Cider Donut

Selections from their gift shop

Victor and Michael enjoying the wild life at Smolak

Apple picking with Dan, Urey, and  Victor!

Michael the juggler from Middlebury
Smolak Farms
315 South Bradford Street  
North Andover, MA 01845

My order ticket/ cocoa bean shell!

I finally got a chance to sit down for some hot chocolate and cake at L.A. Burdick ! There were lots of people in there, per usual, but Michael and I managed to snag a cozy table and enjoy some of their treats.

I ordered their famous dark blend hot cocoa, which is pretty much pure melted chocolate with what seems like a touch of steamed milk. It was plenty rich, and I must say I'm glad I went no more than a small. To balance out the richness, I went for their raspberry tart, which is a glorious flaky tart with a custard layer and mashed raspberries served with a thick whipped cream. I highly recommend that one. I almost didn't even get it because I wanted to stick with their chocolate goods! Speaking of chocolate goods, I had to have their Burdick cake again. The layers of japonaise biscuit and rum ganache seriously gets me going. 

All that plus a large latte set me back a good $17, but they're so worth it. I've been thinking of this hot cocoa date ever since I first set my mouth on their Burdick cake. Seriously drool worthy. 

Raspberry tart

Burdick cake

Hot cocoa

L.A. Burdick
52-D Brattle Street
Cambridge, MA 02138