Archive for This Week I Ate

Olive Oil and Coconut Brownies

Let me tell you about these brownies.

They taste like olive oil.

Now, many recipes tout ingredients in their titles that don’t always play a huge role in the flavor category. This one doesn’t. These actually taste like olive oil with some surrounding chocolate and a helping of coconut. So if you don’t like any of those ingredients, I’m sorry but these are probably not the brownies for you.

However, if you do like any (or all) of the above ingredients, you’re going to love these! I happen to be one of those people who could (did? I’m not telling!) eat these in spoonfuls out of the pan, who finds the flavor combination both sublime and addicting. The only real problem for me is that they’re not super awesome washed down with a glass of cold milk. Milk and olive oil? Not the best duo. But olive oil and chocolate and coconut with a few grains of salt? Oh baby, come to mama!

This Week I Ate..

  • Eats Well With Others’ Chicken Enchiladas with Mashed Plantains. After a slightly panicked text message, I was reassured in replacing the red chiles with 3 chipotle peppers (with accompanying adobo sauce) and Boy and I could not love this dish any more. It was the perfect amount of spicy and the queso fresco on top completely won us over. (I used an entire 12 oz block). I wish I still had leftovers.

Olive Oil and Coconut Brownies
adapted from NY Times

Makes 16-25 brownies, depending on how you cut them.

Ingredients

  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 1/2 heaping tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/4 c + 1 tbsp water, boiling
  • 1 oz unsweetened or bittersweet chocolate (I used 72%), finely chopped
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 c sugar
  • 1 c + 6 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 heaping tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 oz bittersweet chocolate (I used 60%), coarsely chopped
  • 1 c shredded sweetened coconut
  • extra kosher salt or fleur de sel for sprinkling

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8×8″ baking pan with foil and grease lightly with extra olive oil. Set aside.

Whisk together cocoa powder with boiling water until smooth. Add 1 oz unsweetened/bittersweet chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Whisk in olive oil. Whisk in egg, yolk, and vanilla. Add in sugar and whisk until completely incorporated. Switch to a spatula and fold in flour and salt until just mixed. Fold in coarsely chopped chocolate.

Pour half of the batter into the pan and smooth over. Sprinkle half the coconut over the batter. Then, in big spoonfuls, plop the rest of the batter over top the coconut and smooth over (it’s okay if it’s not perfect). Sprinkle with the remaining coconut and a good dose of sprinkling salt. Bake 25-30 minutes or until just set. Disregard the tester in this case because it won’t come out clean. Allow to cool completely on a rack.

This has been submitted to Sweets for a Saturday!

S’mores Bars

I apologize for the lack of posting this week but I’ve been doing a lot of carpe diem lately. This past week I went to the NY Wine Expo (and became a hot mess), watched the Knicks v. Heat game on Sunday while eating wings (yum), shopped for snowgear (but didn’t buy anything), and ate out a grand total of five times. Also I saw the King’s Speech, 127 Hours, and Tangled. All of which were fabulous. (If you want my opinion, while I thought King’s Speech was good, I didn’t think it should have won Best Picture but that’s the Academy for you!)

And all this time I’ve been working.

So there hasn’t been much time for baking or blogging (my Reader is out of control at the moment). But there has been time for these bars because they took all of 10 minutes to throw together! They were delicious to boot. Who can resist the classic s’mores combination? I have to say the chocolate was a little bit too sweet for my taste though. Next time I may try bittersweet chocolate or even unsweetened (the condensed milk adds a lot of sugar). These were easy, quick, and perfect for any sort of gathering. (Except I ate all of them on my own but shhhhhhh don’t tell!)

This Week I Ate..

  • Smitten Kitchen’s Sour Cream Pancakes. These were wonderful! Tangy and fluffy, perfect for dousing in maple syrup with a side of strawberries. A solid breakfast is always best way to start my day.
  • Curry Creamed Chicken with Couscous Salad. I used to make this all the time when I first started living on my own but my need for variety and the staggering amount of good recipes I have yet to try have prevented me from making it the past few years. I revisited my old favorite and can only say that I usually double the cream sauce because it’s so delicious. This dish comes together in under 20 minutes and it’s great for a weeknight meal (and fairly healthy too besides the cream).
  • Annie’s Eats Chicken Ranch Pizza. There was a sale on fresh pizza dough at my local supermarket this week so I stocked up and made a bunch of pizza. This is one of my favorite pizzas ever! I’ve made it at least half a dozen times now and Boy can’t get enough.
  • Chicken BBQ pizza. With my extra pizza dough I just threw on about 1/4 c barbecue sauce (hickory smoked), 3/4 c shredded mozzarella, caramelized red onion, and cooked chicken, and called it a day. Simple but delicious just the same.

S’mores Bars
adapted from Williams Sonoma, seen on Annie’s Eats

Makes 16 or 1 8×8″ square pan.

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 c graham cracker crumbs (approximately 6-7 graham crackers)
  • 3/4 c sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/3 c semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 c mini marshmallows
  • 2 whole graham crackers
  • extra butter to grease the pan

Instructions
Line an 8×8″ baking dish with aluminum foil and lightly grease with extra butter. (I found it easier to grease the foil first and then place in the pan.

Using a fork, mix melted butter with graham cracker crumbs until evenly moistened. Pour into the bottom of the pan and press into an even layer. (I used the bottom of a glass.)

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the condensed milk and chocolate chips. Stir occasionally until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the vanilla and salt. Quickly pour the mixture over the graham cracker base and smooth with a spatula. Sprinkle marshmallows over the chocolate and gently press them in so they are anchored. Break up the whole graham crackers and insert between the marshmallows.

Cover and refrigerate about 4 hours or until firm. Cut into bars and serve cool.

When was the last time you carpe diem’d?

Egg Custard

It’s Sunday.

To different people, Sundays mean different things. To some it’s a day of relaxation, some prepare for the busy week ahead, some celebrate their religions, and so on and so forth.

My family?

We eat.

We’re not foodies by any means but I was always raised to love food and to love to eat it. My shining example of this is how we used to drive to Newport, Rhode Island at least once a summer (more if we had out-of-town/country guests or if we were feeling particularly gluttonous that year) to eat lobster. We’d pile up into our van in the early morning and drive the 4 hours to the wharf where we’d pick up some freshly caught and freshly steamed baby lobsters (they’re much sweeter and more tender than their larger friends). From there we’d drive off to Brenton Point State Park where we’d unload the car, sit at a picnic table, and eat our succulent lobsters while watching all the kites being flown overhead.

Then, we’d pack it all up and drive the 4 hours home on the same day. Yup. That’s how my family rolls.

A more local tradition we enjoy is to have dim sum on Sunday afternoons following church services. If you’ve never been to Chinese dim sum, it’s basically carts full of little bites of food that roam around the room that allow you to pick the hot plates at your leisure. It’s almost their form of brunch. You get served right away (provided you like what’s on the carts at the time) and can get full fast ordering plate after plate before you even realize you’re full to the brim.

(We don’t usually eat dinner after this type of gorging.)

One of our favorite carts is the dessert cart which always holds these little babies, the egg custards. After seeing this recipe, I knew I had to try it out. The recipe calls for puff pastry to make the shells which isn’t conventional (they don’t use puff pastry in China) but was a good substitute for a homemade version. The custard itself will remind anyone of the sought after dim sum treat with its creamy and rich texture. These are easy to make in very little time so if you’re still looking for something special for Valentine’s Day I definitely recommend trying these out!

This Week I Ate..

  • Tiny Urban Kitchen’s Taiwanese Meat Sauce over Rice. I used half normal and half dark soy sauce and after it began to simmer I realized that I had accidentally doubled the amount of pork. No difference though! Also, the sauce is NOT meant for consumption. It’s quite salty — Dilute with water as needed. Other than that though it was delicious and reminded my Taiwanese Boy of a dish his mom makes. (Score!) Over rice, this is an easy dinner to pull together.
  • Pizza with caramelized yellow and red onions, mozzarella, prosciutto, and a light sprinkling of gorgonzola. My 93-year-old grandmother loved this! She kept calling the prosciutto “bacon” but whatever. As long as it’s good, does it matter what it’s called?
  • Annie’s Eats Ginger Beef Stir Fry. The sauce was delicious but my beef came out overly tough and the broccoli didn’t soften up as much as I would like. In the future I’d slice the steak much thinner and maybe steam the broccoli a little beforehand. With some adjustments this could be a new weeknight staple.

Egg Custard
adapted from Tiny Urban Kitchen

Makes 10.

Ingredients

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, defrosted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 1/3 c granulated sugar
  • yellow food coloring (optional)

Instructions
Preheat oven to 400F.

For shells, Cut out 3-inch rounds of puff pastry. Press rounds into a muffin tin, shaping them like little tarts. Bake for 10 minutes or until slightly browned.

For custard, Lightly beat eggs until yolks and whites are well combined. Try not to beat too much air into them. Set aside. Heat milk and sugar in a saucepan until hot but not boiling and the sugar is mostly, if not completely, dissolved. Remove pan from heat. While stirring constantly, add the beaten eggs in a slow stream. Strain mixture into a clean bowl (or measuring cup to save a step). Allow to cool for several minutes. Add food coloring if using (to achieve more of the typical color, otherwise custards will be pale yellow).

Once shells are baked, decrease oven to 350F and poke holes in the shells to allow for filling. Fill with custard. Bake for 15 minutes or until set.

What’s your favorite dim sum treat?

Banana Bread – Take 2

Has it been long enough since I made my last banana bread? It’s just been a little over a month.

Not long enough, you say? In the words of Adrienne Maloof, “Well, whaddyou know?”

[Personal life aside: Is anyone else obsessed with all the Real Housewives like I am? Well, except Atlanta. I can’t seem to get into it for some reason. A friend told me how she saw Andy Cohen at a bar the night before the Superbowl and I was teeming with jealousy. Seriously. I have a problem. I’m a RH addict and I’m not afraid to show it. HOLLER!]

Anyhow, my home never seems to be without its share of overripe bananas and given my constant desire for baked breakfast goods, banana bread has been topping my list lately.

So banana bread version 2 was a go and I’m so glad it was because this recipe is super simple, requires one bowl, and doesn’t even need the help of electricity for mixing! Don’t get me wrong, I heart my KitchenAid like my own child but, like a child, sometimes you just want to do it on your own without an extra bowl or utensil to clean. The flavor of this banana bread was wonderful too. I wish there were still something of it left.. It got consumed too quick for my liking. Next time, I’ve made a mental note to double the recipe and get two loaves (one of which will be for me and me alone)!

Before I go sharing the recipe with you though, I’m a little behind on my posting of my daily eats. So..

This (Past Two) Week(s) I Ate:

  • Epicurious’ Apricot Glazed Chicken. Not a huge fan. Perhaps the chicken was a little bit dry but, for some reason, the flavor didn’t work for me either.
  • For Chinese New Year, I made Kevin’s dumplings with some adaptation (such as adding a bit of water chestnuts for crunch) using Jaden’s well-explained technique and sauce with the slurry and folding the dumplings. They came out super-cute, super-delicious, and Boy (and I) loved it! I also made some very quick bok choy. It was a wonderful way to start the new lunar year.
  • Mac & cheese that I adapted from the back of a Kraft shredded sharp cheddar package (I accidentally threw the package out before writing down the recipe). It had peas and bacon and was not as cheesy as I may usually like but probably healthier as a result so.. winning dish! Also, sometime in the leftover process I discovered the merits of adding just a bit of sour cream. Oh it was genius, forrealllll.
  • Our Superbowl extravaganza consisted of pizza from an unnamed pizza place, Buffalo Wild Wings (yummy), homemade chili from another friend, nachos, taquitos, lots of dips, salsa, guacamole, and finished with my (now-famous-in-my-group-of-friends) Mint Blueberry Cupcakes.
  • More Trader Joe’s and cafeteria food. Yum to the former. Ew to the latter.

In other news, I’m busy concocting February’s STO original recipe to follow up January’s success. A friend made a cupcake request so be on the lookout!

Banana Bread – Take 2
adapted from Simply Recipes

Makes 1 loaf.

Ingredients

  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted
  • heaping 3/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 c all-purpose flour

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 4 x 8″ loaf pan.

Using a wooden spoon, combine bananas and butter in a large bowl. Add in the sugar, egg, and extract and mix. Add in the baking powder and salt and mix. Finally, add the flour and mix just until the flour disappears. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool however long you can and serve!

Is there a dish you make often for whatever reason? What is it? Do share!

 

Lace Cookie Cannolis

January is kicking my butt.

I’m sleep-deprived, gym-deprived, friend-and-family-time-deprived, and generally life-deprived. It took some planning, brainstorming, and baking at random hours of the night, but I managed to eek out some delicious baked goods this past week and can’t wait to share them with you.

But first, the new feature!

This Week I Ate

  • Annie’s Zuppa Tuscana. This soup was easy enough for a weeknight dinner but was extremely filling and satisfying. The kick of cayenne was a perfect complement to the creamy base and the hearty kale. It looks like a thick heavy soup but it’s mainly stock and white wine based which definitely offers comfort without making you hit food coma right afterward. Loved it!
  • Trader Joe’s Stuffed Pork Loin with Spinach (and some cheese.. I think feta but I don’t remember). Boy made this. Just as a side, when Boy makes dinner it’s either one of two things at all times. 1: Trader Joe’s, or 2: pasta with doctored up jarred sauce. He’s gotten pretty good at doctoring things up adding fresh veggies, herbs (we owned a basil plant for awhile until he let it die), or even white wine. This pork loin was quite delicious too. I heart Trader Joe’s.
  • and a whole lot of hospital cafeteria food. Such is my life.

Ever since I came up with the resolution to create a new recipe each month I’ve been brainstorming ideas. The goal of the resolution was to start learning how to make other baked goodies besides cupcakes which, up until now, has really been the only branch of baking I’ve felt comfortable tinkering around with. So this month I didn’t set any limits on myself. I set out to find inspiration.

On my interview trail (what we call the interview season between November and January when most residency programs hold their interviews), I began to treat myself to a baked good while traveling back home. After a long day of interviewing (our days usually go from 7.30 or 8am until 2 or 3 pm), the only redeeming part of the day would be finding a nearby bakery and finding something wonderful to nosh on.

One particular interview in the Bronx brought me to Conti’s, home of a wonderful cannoli I just couldn’t turn down.

And because we’re meant to be together, literally the next day Boy and I were discussing what I could make and he suggested something to do with cannolis.

Mind you, we are not exactly an Italian, cannoli-eating couple.

So then it had to be done.

It’s not exactly a completely original recipe but the idea is all mine. Baby steps, people!

The crunchy, slightly nutty lace cookies are a perfect complement to the ricotta cannoli cream dotted with chocolate shavings. Sometimes I find cannoli shells a bit too sweet for my taste but these flavors worked really well together. For a nice dinner, you can make napoleons or for something a little more casual you can form the lace cookies into taco shapes and make little cannoli tacos!

I’m quite proud.

 

Lace Cookie Cannolis
a STO original of sorts

Ingredients
For lace cookie
(adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod, originally from Essence of Chocolate):

  • 1/2 c all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 c old-fashioned oats
  • 1/3 c unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For cannoli cream (STO original):

  • 3/4 c ricotta, full-fat preferred
  • 1/2 c confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • pinch cinnamon
  • 1/4 c heavy cream
  • 1 oz semisweet chocolate, shaved

Instructions
For cookies: Preheat oven to 375F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine flour, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, salt, and oats in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Using a stand or hand mixer, mix together butter, cream, corn syrup, and vanilla. Slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix.

Drop 3/4 tsp of batter onto baking sheets leaving 2 inches all around each cookie as they spread in the oven. Bake 7-9 minutes or until golden. If molding into taco shapes, balance a wooden spoon atop 2 glasses turned upside-down. Once cookies come out of the oven, while they’re still warm, carefully drape over the wooden spoon handle into a taco shape and allow to cool in that position. Otherwise, allow cookies to cool on baking sheets for about 2 minutes before transferring to a rack.

For cream: Fold together ricotta, confectioner’s sugar, and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, whip heavy cream to stiff peaks. Then fold heavy cream into ricotta mixture. Finish by folding in shaved chocolate.

For assembly: For napoleons, layer 3 same-sized cookies with 2 dollops of cannoli cream. Top with extra cream.

Is your January out of control?

 

Homemade Oreos

I’m starting a new feature on my blog called This Week I Ate…

With the new year and my impending first salaried position coming this July, I’ve decided that now more than ever I need to put myself on a budget and cook more meals. I used to cook quite a bit in my first two years of med school but long hours in the hospital during third year definitely lent itself to eating out a lot more and sometimes just going to bed without eating, too tired to put in the effort.

But I’m turning a new leaf! And to keep me somewhat accountable, I’m going to document the things I make here. However, since this was never meant to be a blog about what I had for dinner, I often don’t have the patience to photograph hot food before I dig in, and I currently don’t have much of a desire to start making up my own recipes in that field, this will just be a side project. More of a bullet point list with a small review.

Like this!

This Week I Ate…

  • Xiaolu’s Boy-Approved Spiked Pasta (Spaghetti with Vodka Cream Sauce). It was certainly Boy-approved on my end as well. I used ground cayenne pepper instead of the crushed which gave a lot of kick but to quote Boy, “I think cayenne is your secret ingredient. You can make everything taste good with it!” And I agree. (So do the Neely’s if you ever watch them or make their stuff.) The sauce was easy for a weeknight meal and I had everything on hand already! Also, since med school started I’ve seriously lost my ability to imbibe so there’s a lot of vodka in this place that is taking a very long time to consume.
  • Sara’s Baked Fish Sticks with Tartar Sauce. One of my few attempts at making seafood (it scares me for some reason?). I’ve made these before and while the fish sticks are great and healthy and you should probably make these for that reason alone, the real star here in my opinion is the tartar sauce. Boy agrees. We could dip anything into that sauce and it’d be delicious.

Okay. Onto the recipe. I’ve made these Oreos three times now (2 of those time in my preblogging days) and they never ever disappoint. How could they? They’re OREOS for crying out loud. It’s no secret I’m a fan as evidenced by these, this, and these. But making them from scratch just adds that extra element of love and handmade kitsch that elevate these to a whole new level. The filling tastes nearly identical to the store-bought brand and the wafers are not overpowering in sweetness. I’m in love.

Homemade Oreos
adapted from smitten kitchen, originally from Retro Desserts

Makes 25-30 sandwich cookies.

Ingredients

For wafers:

  • 1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c (1 stick) + 2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 large egg

For filling:

  • 1/4 c (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 c vegetable shortening
  • 2 c sifted confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions
For wafers: Preheat oven to 375F and prepare line baking sheets with parchment paper. In a food processor or with an electric mixer, combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar. While pulsing or on low speed, add in the butter and egg until the dough comes together in a mass. Place rounded teaspoonfuls of batter onto prepared sheets about 2 inches apart. With moist hands, gently press down on dough to flatten tops slightly. Bake for approximately 9 minutes, rotating once. Let sheets cool on racks.

For filling: Cream together butter and shortening using a stand or hand mixer. Then slowly add in the sugar and vanilla extract. When combined, beat on high for another 2-3 minutes or until fluffy.

To assemble: Find two cookies similar in size. Pipe or spread about 1 tsp of filling onto the bottom of one cookie. Create a sandwich by pressing the bottom of the other cookie into the filling, gently working the filling to the edges of the cookies. Voila!

Have you recreated any childhood favorites lately?