Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Stir-Fried Fuzzy Melon and Ginger Pork | Wok Wednesdays

Stir-Fried Fuzzy Melon

Stir-Fried Fuzzy Melon and Ginger Pork

Fuzzy melon you ask? 

It's sort of like a big cucumber with a fine bit of fuzz on the outside. I'm just grateful that Grace Young, the author of Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge, posted a photo of fuzzy melons on the Wok Wednesday Facebook page, because the sign in the Asian market next to what looked a lot like Grace's photo said Moqua. The skin was fuzzy and it looked like Grace's photo.... 

Later, Grace translated moqua for me. Mo=hair, and qua=melon. 


This dish is so easy and the flavor is simply amazing. A small amount of ground pork, soy sauce, chicken broth, some smashed ginger, salt and pepper, and fuzzy melon topped with a bit of sesame oil and fresh scallions. 

This made a great side dish with barbecued flank steak. So good. 

I did make one aesthetic error. I misread the instructions and thought I had to slice the fuzzy melon lengthwise. Check out the links on the Wok Wednesdays page for beautifully sliced fuzzy melon cut the proper way. Next time. Still, very very tasty. 

For the recipe, check out page 232 of the book. You'll discover a whole new world of flavors!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Indoor S'mores Bars

Indoor S'mores Bars from Karen's Kitchen Stories

These Indoor S'mores Bars are ridiculously decadent. They are also super easy to make. The second best part? They don't require baking.

These bars are comprised of an amazing mixture of chopped graham crackers, marshmallows, milk and bittersweet chocolate, and espresso powder, topped with a chocolate glaze and graham cracker crumbs.

Indoor S'mores Bars from Karen's Kitchen Stories

Melt some chocolate, chop up some graham crackers, throw in some marshmallows and chopped chocolate, glaze the entire concoction with more chocolate and then dust it with some graham cracker crumbs. Heavenly.

Indoor S'mores Bars from Karen's Kitchen Stories

Indoor S'mores Bars

Ingredients

1 1/2 C semi sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 C milk chocolate chips
1 tsp espresso powder
2/3 C boiling water
1/4 C unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces
2 C graham crackers that have been cut into 1/8 to 1/4 inch squares (measure after they have been cut into pieces)
2 1/2 C mini marshmallows
Graham cracker crumbs

Instructions

  1. Line an 8 inch square cake pan with foil and spray it with spray oil. 
  2. Mix the chocolate chips and set aside 1/2 C. 
  3. Place the rest of the chocolate chips into a large bowl.
  4. Sprinkle the espresso powder over the chips. 
  5. Pour the boiling water over the chips and let the mixture sit for a few minutes.
  6. Stir until the chocolate has melted, and then add the butter and continue to stir until smooth. 
  7. Set aside 3/4 C of the chocolate mixture for the glaze.
  8. Mix the graham crackers into the remaining chocolate mixture, and then add the marshmallows. 
  9. As the mixture cools, chop the remaining 1/2 C of chocolate chips into 1/4 inch pieces, and fold into the chocolate, graham cracker, and marshmallow mixture. 
  10. Pour the mixture into the foil lined cake pan and spread evenly. 
  11. Evenly pour the chocolate glaze over the mixture. Let the mixture cool. Sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs. 
  12. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  13. Cut into 16 squares. 
These bars are best kept in the refrigerator until just a few minutes before serving. 
This recipe has been adapted from Simply Sensational Cookies by Nancy Baggett. The book is pretty sensational. 




The Creative Cookie Exchange theme this month is Beat the Heat with No Bake Cookies. Even if we don’t want to turn on the oven, we still want cookies! If you are a blogger and want to join in the fun, contact Laura via email (thespicedlife AT gmail DOT com) and she will get you added to our Facebook group where we coordinate events. You can also use us as a great resource for cookie recipes. Be sure to check out our Facebook page, our Pinterest Board, and our monthly posts. You will be able to find them the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month! Also, if you are looking for inspiration to get in the kitchen and start baking, check out what all of the hosting bloggers have made:



  • Chunky Chocolate Fruit and Nut Cookie Slice from Jill at Made with Love
  • Indoor S’mores Bars from Karen at Karen’s Kitchen Stories
  • Kashata Squares from Stacy at Food Lust People Love
  • Nutella Clusters from Tara at Noshing with the Nolands
  • No Bake Bourbon Pecan Cookies from Renee at Magnolia Days
  • No Bake Coconut Cookies from Kathya at Basic N Delicious
  • No Bake Cookie Butter Cookies from Heather at Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
  • No Bake Kit Kat Squares from Holly at A Baker’s House
  • No Bake Lemon Cheesecake Cookies from Becca at It’s Yummi!
  • Strawberry and Cream No Bake Cookies from Miranda at Cookie Dough and Oven Mitt


  • Saturday, July 19, 2014

    Banh Mi Rolls

    Banh Mi Rolls from Karen's Kitchen Stories

    These Banh Mi Rolls are Part One of my quest to create the Viet street food that is a fusion of French baguettes with the amazing sandwich fillings from Vietnam.

    Banh Mi Rolls from Karen's Kitchen Stories

    Banh mi rolls have a crispy crust and a fluffy interior. They are inspired by the French baguette, but the interior is softer.

    Banh Mi Rolls from Karen's Kitchen Stories

    This recipe has been adapted from The Banh Mi Handbook: Recipes for Crazy-Delicious Vietnamese Sandwiches.

    Andrea Nguyen, the author of this book, was on a quest to recreate the perfect bread for Banh Mi sandwiches. Once she finally deduced some of the secret ingredients and techniques involved in creating the perfect roll, she spent three months, baking every day, to create the perfect roll. She says she's happy with these, "for now."

    The secret ingredients? Ascorbic acid and vital wheat gluten, along with shortening.

    I actually have ascorbic acid on hand (of course I do), but if you don't, you can crush a 500 mg tablet of vitamin C and add it to the dough.

    Vital wheat gluten can usually be found in the Bob's Red Mill display at your grocery store.

    This recipe makes six rolls. The slice I tried was very tasty. The crust was crispy and the interior was fluffy, and the flavor was well developed. They disappeared very quickly from the place where I set the breads I've baked.

    I can't wait to use this bread to make the amazing sandwiches in the book.

    Banh Mi Rolls

    Makes 6 sandwich rolls

    Ingredients

    500 mg vitamin C (capsule or crushed tablet) or ascorbic acid
    5 g (1 tsp) fine sea salt
    1 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
    7 g (1 envelope) instant dry yeast. I used Red Star Platinum.
    18 g (2 T) vital wheat gluten
    454 g (3 C plus 3 1/2 T) unbleached all purpose flour
    18 g (1 1/2 T) shortening
    284 g (1 1/4 C) warm (110 degrees F) water

    Instructions

    1. Whisk the dry ingredients together in the bowl of a stand mixer. 
    2. Add the shortening and mix with the paddle attachment on low for about 30 seconds. 
    3. Add the water, and mix on low for one minute. 
    4. Rest the dough in the bowl for five minutes. 
    5. Switch to the dough hook and mix on speed 2 for 2 minutes, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. 
    6. Transfer the dough to an unfloured work surface and hand knead into a ball. The dough should be just slightly tacky, but not sticky. 
    7. Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for about 45 minutes, until doubled. 
    8. Gently remove the dough and place it on the counter. Cut into six equal pieces, about 4 1/2 ounces each. 
    9. Form each piece into a round ball. Place them seam side down and cover the rounds with plastic wrap, and let rest for 10 minutes. 
    10. Turn the rolls over (seam side up), and slightly flatten them. On the side facing you, roll the edge to the middle twice. Repeat on the other side to from a cylinder. Press the seam together, then roll and shape until the roll looks like a torpedo. 
    11. Arrange the rolls on a parchment lined baking sheet and cover with oiled plastic wrap. 
    12. Let rise for about an hour, until doubled in size. In the meantime, preheat the oven with a baking stone and steam pan to 475 degrees F. 
    13. At 45 minutes, remove the plastic wrap from the rolls and let them sit uncovered for 15 minutes. 
    14. Fill a spray bottle with water and fill a long handled pan with a cup of hot water. 
    15. With the knife at a deep angle, slash each roll lengthwise. 
    16. Spray the rolls with water and place the baking sheet on top of the baking stone. Pour the hot water in the steam pan and close the oven door. Lower the temperature to 425 degrees F.
    17. Bake for 22 to 24 minutes, until golden brown, rotating the pan halfway through. 
    18. When the rolls are done, turn the oven off and leave the rolls in the oven for another 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool on a rack for at least 45 minutes. 
    This post has been Yeastspotted

    Monday, July 14, 2014

    Stirato | Italian Baguettes

    Stirato | Italian Baguettes | Karen's Kitchen Stories

    Stirato is a form of ciabatta that is cut into lengths and then stretched just before baking. This is a no knead version, with the first rise lasting up to 18 hours to develop flavor. The flavor definitely lives up to the hype, and the thin crispy crust just sings when you first pull it out of the oven.

    It's incredibly easy to make, and the recipe is pretty foolproof. You can slice it crosswise for bruschetta, lengthwise for sandwiches, or use it for dipping in olive oil and balsamic.... or pizza sauce. It makes great garlic cheese bread too.

    Stirato | Italian Baguettes | Karen's Kitchen Stories

    I baked this bread on a baking stone and covered each loaf with the lid and the inverted bottom of this SuperStone /Covered Baker.If you don't have the baker, I recommend either making sure there is plenty of steam in your oven, or covering the loaves with disposable aluminum pans or the lid of a roaster. The cover just needs to be around the same size as your baking stone.

    Stirato | Italian Baguettes | Karen's Kitchen Stories

    The recipe for this bread has been adapted from My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method by Jim Lahey.

    I've got a collection of about two dozen books on bread, and I can easily be distracted by new "shiny things" (aka new bread books) on the horizon. Sadly, when I pulled the link for this book from Amazon, I was reminded that I bought this book in 2009.... and had NEVER cracked it open. Oy!!

    Stirato | Italian Baguettes | Karen's Kitchen Stories

    I have made several versions of no knead bread, but this book from Jim Lahey is the book that Mark Bittman cited in the New York Times when he ignited the no knead trend. Best that I pay my long overdue respect.

    Stirato | Italian Baguettes | Karen's Kitchen Stories

    For similar Italian style baguettes using a different method, check out these Pain à l’Ancienne Baguettes


    Stirato Recipe

    Ingredients


    400 grams (3 cups) bread flour
    1 1/4 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp instant yeast
    300 g (1 1/2 C) cool water

    Instructions

    1. In a medium bowl, mix all of the ingredients with a dough whisk, a large spoon, or your wet hand, until everything is moistened, about 30 seconds to a minute. 
    2. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 12 to 18 hours until totally bubbly and doubled in size. 
    3. Dust your counter with flour and scrape the dough out of the bowl in one piece. 
    4. Gently nudge the dough into the shape of a rectangle and then fold it over itself from each long side as if you were creating an envelope. With your hands, gently roll the dough out into a tube and then cut the dough in half, width-wise. 
    5. Place the dough pieces, seam side down, on a floured sheet pan sized piece of parchment and cover with oiled plastic wrap. 
    6. Place a baking stone on the center rack of your oven and place whatever cover you will be using on top of it (or set up your oven for steam). Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.
    7. When the dough has about doubled (30-45 minutes), pick up each piece and stretch it out to the length of your cover, about 11 to 13 inches. 
    8. Remove the hot cover from the stone, and, using a peel or the back of a baking sheet. drag the parchment with the dough onto the stone and place the hot cover/s over the loaves. 
    9. Bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 10 to 20 minutes, until a golden brown. 
    10. Cool on a wire rack. 
    Sharing with Yeastspotting

    Wednesday, July 9, 2014

    Section Challah

    Section Challah from Karen's Kitchen Stories

    What is "Section Challah" you ask?

    It's actually just a way of taking a challah recipe and baking it in a loaf pan. I've actually taken challah braids and tucked them into loaf pans, but when I saw this method in Inside the Jewish Bakery: Recipes and Memories from the Golden Age of Jewish Baking, I thought it would be nice to actually give my family a challah disguised as a sandwich loaf.

    Section Challah from Karen's Kitchen Stories

    They've been pretty patient with all of the bread shapes I've made and the precise slicing instructions I've given for boules, baguettes, and batards, so the least I could do was give them something with which they could make a chicken salad sandwich.

    Besides, I've only mastered the three strand braid at this point.

    Here's a shot of the dough prior to baking. It's amazing what happens when the dough hits the oven.

    Section Challah from Karen's Kitchen Stories

    You can use any challah dough you like to make this bread. I used a dough that is enriched with 7 1/2 egg yolks and enough sugar to give it a faintly sweet taste. The bread is just amazing when it's toasted, and is excellent slathered with peanut butter and jam. It's also perfect for chicken salad sandwiches.

    Section Challah from Karen's Kitchen Stories

    For more challah recipes, check out these posts:

    Demerara Sugar Honey Challah, Italian Challah, and Whole Wheat Challah with Apricots.

    Section Challah

    Makes two 24 ounce loaves

    Ingredients


    795 g (5 2/3 C) bread flour
    85 g (1/3 C plus 1 T) granulated sugar
    2 1/4 tsp salt
    2 1/2 tsp instant yeast (I used SAF Gold)
    130 g (7 1/2 large) egg yolks
    1/4 C vegetable oil
    1 1/2 C warm (90 degrees F) water
    1 beaten egg white for glazing
    Poppy seeds for sprinkling

    Instructions

    1. Whisk the first four ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer.
    2. In a large measuring cup, whisk the egg yolks and oil. Add the water and whisk again. Add to the dry ingredients. 
    3. Stir with a dough whisk or mix with your hand in the bowl until you have a "shaggy dough." 
    4. With the dough hook, knead for about 10 minutes on low. The dough should be smooth and shiny. You can also knead by hand for about 12 to 15 minutes. 
    5. Place the dough into an oiled bowl or dough rising bucket, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise until doubled, about an hour. 
    6. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat it into a rectangle. Cut the dough into two equal pieces, cover one piece with plastic wrap, and set it aside. 
    7. Cut the dough piece into six equal pieces (about 4 ounces each) and form each piece into a ball. Flatten the balls and place them into a greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pan as shown in the photo. They will not fill up the pan at first, but will when the dough expands. 
    8. Cover the loaf with oiled plastic wrap. Repeat with the second dough piece. Let the dough rise until it doesn't spring back when you poke it with your finger, about an hour. 
    9. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 
    10. When the loaves are ready, brush with the egg white and sprinkle with the poppy seeds. 
    11. Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes, until the loaves are browned and reach an internal temperature of about 190 degrees F. 
    12. Remove from the pan and cool on a wire rack. 
    Sharing with Yeastspotting

    Monday, July 7, 2014

    Salted Chocolate Caramel Tartlets

    Salted Chocolate Caramel Tartlets from Karen's Kitchen Stories

    This recipe for Salted Chocolate Caramel Tartlets makes just two 4 inch tarts, but they are so decadent that just a quarter or half of a tart is plenty to satisfy your sweet tooth. The bits of sea salt sprinkled on top are a perfect balance to the chocolate and caramel. The flavor reminds me of the salted caramels from Fran's Chocolates in Seattle. So good!

    The tart starts with a sweet, crispy, and flaky pastry crust. Next comes a layer of creamy caramel, followed by a layer of chocolaty ganache. The tart is then sprinkled with bits of sea salt. So elegant.

    Salted Chocolate Caramel Tartlets from Karen's Kitchen Stories


    Salted Chocolate Caramel Tartlets

    Pastry Ingredients


    1/4 C confectioners' sugar
    1/2 C plus 1 T all purpose flour
    Pinch of salt
    2 tsp egg yolk
    2 T plus one tsp unsalted butter
    2 to 3 tsp ice water

    Pastry Instructions

    1. In the bowl of a food processor (I used a mini food processor), pulse the sugar, flour, and salt. 
    2. Add the egg yolk, butter, and the water and pulse until the dough begins to clump together. If it is too dry, add more ice water by the teaspoon. 
    3. Pour the ingredients onto a piece of plastic wrap and form it into a cohesive mass, and divide in two. Wrap each half in plastic and refrigerate for an hour.
    4. Roll each piece into a 6 inch disk and press them into a 4 to 4 1/2 inch oiled tartlet pan. Use any excess dough to patch any bare spots. Pierce the bottom of each tartlet several times with a fork. 
    5. Freeze the tartlet shells for 15 minutes. 
    6. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
    7. Line each tartlet with foil and fill with pie weights. 
    8. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and pie weights, and bake for another 10 minutes. Cool in the tart pans. 

    Caramel Ingredients

    3 T heavy cream
    2 tsp unsalted butter
    1/4 C sugar
    1 T water
    1 T light corn syrup
    1 tsp vanilla

    Caramel Instructions

    1. Please the cream and butter into a microwave safe glass measuring cup and microwave at 15 second intervals until simmering. 
    2. In a small, heavy sauce pan or saucier pan, add the sugar, water, and corn syrup, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly until the sugar disolves. Continue to boil until it becomes a caramel color (be very careful not to burn it). Immediately remove the pan from the heat, and with a long handled whisk, slowly whisk in the cream mixture. Be careful as it may splatter. Continue to whisk until the bubbling stops and then pour the mixture, dividing it evenly, into the two tart pans. Refrigerate for one hour.

    Ganache Ingredients

    3 T heavy cream
    1 tsp light corn syrup
    2 1/4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
    Sea salt for finishing

    Ganache Instructions

    1. Heat the heavy cream and corn syrup in a microwave save bowl until simmering, for about 25 to 30 seconds. Stir in the chocolate until melted. 
    2. Pour into the tartlets and chill until hardened, for about an hour. 
    3. Sprinkle the tops lightly with sea salt. 

    It's #ChocolateParty time. This month's ingredients are chocolate (of course) and heavy cream. 

    How to participate (the rules)1.) Blog about your chocolate treat. Your recipe must include the two ingredients we choose. It can be a simple no bake treat or a sophisticated layer cake, the complexity level of the recipe is totally up to you.
    2.) Include a link back to the Chocolate party page.  Optionally, add the Chocolate Party logo in your blog post or on your sidebar.
    3.) Your recipe must be published during the current month. Please do not link old recipes, they will be deleted.



    Saturday, July 5, 2014

    Pain de Pecan

    Pain de Pecan from Karen's Kitchen Stories

    This Pain de Pecan recipe is the June Bread of the Month for the Artisan Bread Bakers Facebook group. The recipe was contributed by David Wolfe of Hearth Baked Tunes, who was inspired by Richard Miscovich, the author of From the Wood-Fired Oven: New and Traditional Techniques for Cooking and Baking with Fire to adapt this recipe.

    Pain de Pecan from Karen's Kitchen Stories

    This bread is a combination of white and whole wheat flours, and is studded with toasted whole pecans. Get the biggest pecans you can find. I toasted my pecans on a hot cast iron skillet, but you can also toast them on a sheet pan in the oven. Just watch them closely and remove them from the heat when they are browned and fragrant, but not burned.

    This bread is tasty with just butter, or toasted with butter. It also makes nice cinnamon toast or grilled cheese.

    Pain de Pecan

    Ingredients

    250 g active levain, fed within the last 24 hours and bubbly
    227 g water
    228 g bread flour
    114 whole wheat flour
    9 g salt
    90 g toasted pecans

    Instructions

    1. Combine the levain, water, and flour in a large bowl until mixed. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 40 minutes. 
    2. Add the salt and knead the dough by hand for 8 to 10 minutes. At about the 6 to 7 minute mark, knead in the pecans. 
    3. Place the dough in an oiled bowl or bucket, and let it rise for 2 hours and 30 minutes. Gently fold the dough every 30 minutes, four times. 
    4. Pre-shape the dough into a boule, cover, and let it rest for 20 minutes.
    5. Shape the final boule and place it into a floured basket or towel lined bowl, cover, and let it proof for two hours.
    6. Place a Dutch oven into the oven and preheat it to 500 degrees F. 
    7. Turn the dough into the Dutch oven, slash it with a sharp knife, cover it, and bake for 30 minutes. 
    8. Uncover the loaf and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes.***
    ***Note: My loaf was already done at the 30 minute mark.