Sunday, May 22, 2016

Pad kee mao / drunken noodles / spicy Thai stir-fried noodles

Have you heard about pad kee mao before ? No ? Me either , well , until a week ago . Saw the recipe on my newsfeed and had to ask Mr Google about it . Pad kee mao according to Wiki is a Chinese-influenced ( as most noodle dish known to mankind ) Thai noodle dish , nearly similar to pad see ew , a Thai stir-fried soy sauce noodles with meat and vegetables ( gon chow ngau ho or beef ho fun is a cousin living in Hongkong ) except for its spiciness . Pad or phat means noodles and kee mao means drunkard thus drunken noodles . There are several versions on where this dish got its name but I'll agree with one theory that the dish is so spicy that one needs to drink a beer to temper its spiciness. I don't drink beer so I just guzzled up an iced milky coffee while eating this dish .

Okay , my bowlful of noodles wasn't that spicy , I just used 2 pieces of red chillies and was perfect enough to make my taste buds tingle . The original recipe calls for 5 bird's eye chilies , that amount is not a problem if you eat chillies for breakfast !

Another tweak was reducing the amount of ground pork , 1 pound is just too much for my taste . Actually , while checking out the recipe for the first time , I thought , I bet each strand of noodles in this dish will be perfectly-covered with pork lol 

Not all Thai fish sauce are the same , some brands are more saltier than others , so keep that in mind when using it . Kecap manis is an Indonesian dark sweet soy sauce , if you can't find it , use dark soy sauce and just add enough brown sugar or granulated sugar . If fresh rice noodles is not available , use the dried one .

Simple to make and with delicious umami taste , this spicy stir-fried noodle is a must try ! 

Please check original recipe @ cooking.nytimes

Serves 2 or 3 

2 1/2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
2 tablespoons kecap manis / Indonesian sweet soy sauce 
2 teaspoons lime juice
4 cloves garlic , coarsely chopped 
2 red chillies , coarsely chopped 
1 small onion , sliced 
150 grams ground pork
1 cup red bell pepper , sliced 
350 grams fresh wide rice noodles
2 handful of Thai basil leaves 

lime slices , to serve 

* In a small bowl , mix together fish sauce , kecap manis and lime juice , set aside . 

* In a non-stick pan , heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat , add in the garlic , chillies and onion , cook , stirring constantly until  garlic is light brown and fragrant ,  about 30 seconds . Add in pork and 1 teaspoon of the sauce , cook , stir to break up the meat , for about 4 minutes or until pork is cooked through . 

* Add in the bell pepper and noodles , turn heat to high , add all the sauce , cook , tossing and stirring the noodles constantly , until noodles are coated by the sauce and take on slightly-charred look , about 3 minutes , adjust taste . Toss in the basil leaves , give it a good stir , dish up and serve immediately . 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Purple sweet potato mont blanc tartlets

I bought some purple sweet potato few days ago and had some leftover so I decided to make one recipe that I've been eyeing for quiet sometime .

Mont Blanc or chestnut cake is a dessert made from puréed , sweetened chestnuts , decorated with chestnut pastry cream and dusted with icing sugar . The name is derived from the highest mountain in the Alps , as it resembles a snow-capped mountain .

This is a Japanese-style version using purple sweet potato . It has 4 components , the tart base , almond cream , créme chantilly and sweet potato cream . It may look a bit complicated and too much work but once you've assembled all components , making it was pretty easy . Well , making the pâte sucrée or the sweet shortcrust pastry was a breeze but I had a hard time fitting each piece of pastry dough into the pastry rings and had to re-roll the dough twice . Good thing that the tart base turned out delightfully crunchy in every bite .

I had an issue with straining the mashed sweet potato as well , it took me as long as fitting all those dough into the pastry rings ! A necessary evil though as it resulted in a smooth , creamy and easily piped sweet potato cream .

As you can see the cross section of a tart below , it looks as if it only have 3 components instead of 4 . I think the pastry tart base need more baking time as the color is a bit pale at the bottom or maybe our oven is acting up again tsk ! That said , the texture of the tart base is still crunchy despite the pale color . These tarts are best eaten the day they're made , if you chill it overnight , it will lose some of its crunchiness but still delicious nonetheless .

East meets West delicate pastry with layers of wonderful flavours and texture , these pretty Japanese-style mont blanc tarts are a sure winner ! 

Pâte sucrée , recipe adapted from Bouchon Bakery cookbook via Serious Eats

Makes 837 grams tart dough ( I used half and freezes the other half for future use , hopefully ) 

375 grams all-purpose flour
46 grams icing sugar
47 grams almond flour
225 grams unsalted butter , at room temperature
94 grams icing sugar
1/2 vanilla bean ( I used 4 1/2-inch whole vanilla bean )
56 grams whisked egg

* Place flour in a medium bowl , sift in the 46 grams icing sugar and almond flour into the bowl . Break up any lumps of almond flour remaining in the sieve and add them to the bowl , whisk to combine .

* Place butter in a large mixing bowl , using an electric handmixer , beat over medium-high speed until butter is the consistency of a mayonnaise and hold a peak when beater is lifted . Sift in the remaining 94 grams icing sugar and beat on low for few seconds so that sugar won't fly around then increase to medium high and beat until mixture is fluffy , about 2 minutes . Scrape down bottom and sides of the bowl as needed . Scrape the seeds from vanilla beans and add them to the butter mixture , mix on low speed for about 1 minute to distribute seeds evenly .

* Add dry ingredients in 2 additions , mixing for about 1 minute or just until combined . Scrape the bottom of the bowl to incorporate any dry mixture that have settled . Add whisked egg and mix on low speed , about 1 minute .

* Transfer dough into the work surface , use the heel of your hand to smear the dough , maybe 6 times then gather the dough and pat it into a rough ball . Weigh the dough in half and form each half into a 4x6-inch rectangle , about an inch thick . Wrap each piece in a double later of plastic wrap . Refrigerate until firm , about 2 hours , preferably overnight .

* Roll out the 4x6 rectangle ( mine is more of an oval ) of pastry dough , about 1 cm thick , use a round cutter slightly bigger than the pastry rings that you're using . I used four 3 1/4 x 1/2-inch and two 2 3/4 x 1/2-inch round pastry rings . There were some leftover dough , maybe good for 2 more .

* Fit in dough into the pastry rings , trim the top and prick the bottom with fork , chill in the fridge until needed .

Almond cream , recipe adapted from Washoku guide / Cookpad

35 grams butter
35 grams icing sugar
35 grams whisked egg
35 grams almond meal / flour
1/2 tsp rum

* Mix all ingredients above until smooth .

Créme chantilly / whipped cream 

150 grams double cream
15 grams caster sugar

* Beat ingredients over high speed until soft peaks form . Chill in the fridge until needed .

Purple sweet potato cream 

210 grams ( steamed ) mashed purple sweet potato
30 grams caster sugar
30 grams milk
1 tsp rum , optional
60 grams créme chantilly

* Combine together sweet potato , sugar , milk and rum , mix well . Press mixture through a strainer to get rid of the lumps , it can take a while but very important . Add créme chantilly to the sweet potato mixture and mix well to combine . Place in a piping bag fitted with a plain small round tip or a mont blanc piping nozzle ( one with several small holes ) .


 * Preheat oven to 170ºC . 

* Take out pastry tarts from the fridge and divide the almond cream among them , smoothing the top .  Chill for another 10 minutes .

* Bake for 25 minutes or until pastry is golden . Take out from the oven and let cool in the wire rack completely , remove rings from the cooled pastry tarts .

To assemble Mont Blanc : 

* Place créme chantilly in a piping bag fitted with a 1 cm round nozzle . Pipe a mound of cream on top of tart then pipe the sweet potato cream around it , continue with the rest .

Monday, May 16, 2016

2 cheese Hokkaido milk bread

I finally caved in and bought a bread machine. Nope, I'm not crazy enough to buy a new one!


Summer is fast approaching and kneading a pound of dough in a small kitchen is not my cup of tea anymore. Hey, I'm getting older! A bread machine is a great help and cheaper alternative to standmixer if you like making bread. Not only it can knead 1 kilogram of dough , without breaking a sweat, it can also do the first proofing, too! No, I won't use it for baking bread. Okay, bread machine can't whip cream or do a meringue but where can I buy a HK $ 400. sturdy standmixer ?! That's the price of the second-hand but barely-used Philips bread machine that I bought last month. Not a bad deal, right?! 

Anyway,  I made another batch of Hokkaido milk toast, I botched my first 3 attempts in the last 2 weeks gahhhhh! I used an aluminium (see bottom photos) pullman tin, some of the cheese leaked out from the side and when I unmoulded it the first time , I got a bald spot in the middle. Same as the 2nd and 3rd attempt *sigh* This time, I used a non-stick pullman tin and as they say, 4th time's a charm?

This is a loaf bread using a Tangzhong starter/water roux method, the starter is basically a flour and water cooked together until thickens then added to the rest of the ingredients. This is a method used in breadmaking to create soft and fluffy bread and is thought to be originated in Japan. I made this bread manually years ago though this time it was more fluffier and softer, thanks bread machine lol 

The texture of the dough is a bit wet compare to some bread loaf recipes out there, if you want to try it but don't have a bread machine or standmixer, use elbow grease,  just add the liquid gradually to get the right consistency and knead until dough passes a window pane test. 

Recipe adapted from Christine's recipes

Makes 8 x 4-inch loaf ( final dough is 558 grams )

270 grams bread flour
45 grams caster sugar
4 grams salt
5 grams milk powder
5 grams instant yeast
25 grams unsalted butter, very soft
1 egg (65 grams with shell), whisked
65 grams Hokkaido milk
95 grams ***Tangzhong starter

100 grams cheese, a combination of mild cheddar and emmental, cubed  

*** To make tangzhong, place 25 grams bread flour in a small saucepan, gradually add 125 grams water and stir until mixture is smooth. Cook over medium heat until mixture thickens, 1 minute or so. Transfer starter in a small bowl and let cool completely before using.

* If using a bread machine, place liquid first - egg, milk and tangzhong followed by salt, milk powder,  caster sugar, flour and make a small hole on top of the flour and place the yeast. Select dough program, add butter after 10 minutes and let the machine do the rest.

* If you want to exercise your flabby arms, combine the flour, sugar, salt , milk powder and yeast in a mixing bowl, make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the whisked egg,  milk and tangzhong . Knead until it forms a cohesive dough , tip in dough into a clean work surface and knead for 10 or 15 minutes then add in the softened butter. Continue kneading until dough is smooth and elastic and passes a window pane test, about 30 minutes. Transfer dough into a lightly greased bowl , cover with plastic wrap and let rest until tripled in size, about 1 hour, depending on the ambient temperature.

* Tip dough into the work surface, knead briefly to get rid of air pockets in the dough. Divide into 3 pieces, form into balls, cover and let rest for 15 minutes.

* Lightly grease an 8x4x4-inch non-stick pullman tin.

* Roll out one portion of the dough, use a rolling pin to form a rough rectangle , about 8 by 5-inches. Scatter some cheese on top , on the long side, fold about an inch of the dough in the middle so as the other side to cover some of the cheese , roll from bottom to top and gently seal the edge. Place in the tin and continue with the rest.

* Cover tin with plastic wrap or a tea towel, let proof until 90% full (see photo below), about 1 hour and 15 minutes or depending on the ambient temperature.

* Meanwhile, preheat oven to 200ºC. Bake for about 15 minutes at 200ºC then lower to 180ºC and bake for another 20 minutes.

* Take out tin from the oven and if using an aluminium tin, gently, really, don't be like me, ran a small knife along the sides of the pan. Let bread cool completely. Slice and serve.