July 25, 2016

wholesome 10-grain bread

Perfect for sandwiches and simple breakfast toasts, it was surprising that this whole grain bread did not turn out heavy at all. The crumb texture was light and springy with a very good whole grain flavor. The recipe suggested 7-grain hot cereal mix but I used Bob's Red Mill's 10-grain mix which I already have. Either one is good to use. I used a bread machine to knead the dough but it can be done by hand or with an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook as well.

The dough wasn't too sticky so it was fast and easy to shape them into logs (shown above). The dough was divided into equal parts (I like to weigh them using a kitchen scale to get equal portions) then rolled tightly into logs. Brush the tops with beaten eggs. Sprinkle oats evenly on a cutting board then dip or roll the logs on the oats for an even coating.

Cover them with plastic wrap or clean kitchen towel. A good tip I found was to use new and clean shower caps. They're the right size and fit most bowls and pans plus the elastic band works great. Set them in a warm place until they rise to about 1" above the rim of the pans. They rise very well for about an hour.

Freshly baked loaves of bread are shown above and below. I made a previous batch sprinkled with just plain water but the oats adhered to the tops of the bread brushed with beaten eggs better.

For the recipe...

July 20, 2016

classic Vietnamese favorites at home

Split yellow mung beans in the light batter made these Vietnamese crepes or banh xeo quite unique. Traditionally filled with shrimp, other meat like chicken and pork may be substituted. I also used sauteed ground pork cooked with coconut milk. As with many Vietnamese specialties, these crepes were served with beansprouts and fresh herbs like Thai basil and cilantro.

Vietnamese crepe assembly

To complete our Vietnamese meal, I also tried to cook Vietnamese pho for the first time at home. I didn't feel the need to cook it at home before because we used to go to a very good Vietnamese pho restaurant but lately we haven't been there much. I do miss and crave the taste of this popular Vietnamese soup.

A platter of herbs, lime, jalapenos, beansprouts and mushrooms to complete a bowl of pho (shown above). The mushrooms are not traditional but it was a nice addition.

I got 3 pounds of beef marrow soup bones at our local grocery to make the pho. I also got some lean round beef cut for the thinly sliced rare beef that was also essential to complete a bowl of pho. Fresh ginger and a whole onion are usually charred on a hot grill or roasted in the oven. Spices such as star anise, cinnamon sticks and whole cloves were also added to the water. I used the Instant Pot pressure cooker for the broth. I later learned that the broth was best made a day ahead and refrigerated to intensify the flavors. The extra fat was skimmed off the surface before reheating. It was a bit time consuming to make but the result was a full-flavored soup broth.

The most important part of pho is the broth. It's just not right without the classic combination of flavors. Before serving time, simmer the broth. Soak the rice noodles in warm water for a few minutes to soften them. Pour boiling water over the noodles or place in a colander and dip in boiling water for a few minutes until fully cooked. Drain well. To serve, place the cooked noodles in a serving bowl, arrange a few slices of very thinly sliced beef on top then ladle the hot broth into the bowl. Top with beansprouts and lots of fresh herbs. Serve with lime and sliced jalapenos.

This particular recipe for Pressure Cooker Pho from The New York Times was my guide for the ingredients and process to make the pho.

earthy shimeji mushrooms from the Asian market

July 10, 2016

frozen raspberry cake

Frozen fruit cakes, popularly known as "raw cheesecakes" sparked my curiosity from the time I saw them at Maka by Mana, a restaurant in Maui that became our favorite when we there. Unfortunately I didn't really get a chance to try them there. However, seeing them on some vegan food websites actually brought back my interest in them. Cashews (labeled "raw" at the store) were soaked for a few hours or overnight then processed with some of the water they soaked in.

a slice of raspberry frozen cake

date-walnut crust and processed cashew filling

For me, the crust was the highlight of this frozen cake. It was easy to press the sticky mixture of ground walnuts and dates into the bottom of a 7" springform pan. A food processor works best for this task. The soft dates (medjool dates were recommended but I just used Sunsweet brand pitted dates).

Fresh or frozen raspberries may be used for the cake mixture. If using frozen berries, they should be thawed out first before using. The pureed cashews and fruit were combined together then poured into the prepared crust. Freeze for a few hours until set. I was happy with how this refreshing and fruity summer dessert turned out :-)

tropical papaya version shown above
I used this Raw Raspberry Dreamcake recipe from My New Roots as my inspiration to create my version. I replaced the almonds with walnuts in the crust.