Friday, January 21, 2011

Testing out 2 different 'Madeleines' recipes...

one from a new recipe book I recently picked up from Borders called tea & crumpets by Margaret M. Johnson and another recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks Baking: From my home to yours by Dorie Greenspan.

Jenny and her son Ethan inspired this baking experiment. Ethan has been asking his mom, Jenny to make madeleines for a while. Jenny and I both love to bake, she had some baking questions and issues with making these little cakes. She was finding her madeleines we're baking up with a big crack and a hump on top. After testing both recipes, and allowing both batters to rest overnight in the refrigerator, our madeleines baked up beautifully with no big crack or a hump on top. The resting time in the refrigerator allow the batter to rest and for the melted butter to firm back up.

The recipes tested are very similar in ingredients and techniques. Dorie Greenspan describes madeleines as a plain cookie made from a sponge cake batter, "What distinguishes it, is its lightness, its textures-the tiny-bubbled crumb is
très raffiné; its flavor, a delicate mix of lemon, vanilla and butter." The baked up madeleines from both recipes tasted delicious, if you are looking for a more moist and bolder flavors of lemon and orange; make Margaret's recipe. Dorie's recipe is more on the lighter sponge cake texture with subtle hints of lemon and vanilla. I decided to share both recipes on my blog so you can have the opportunity to try both. Margaret's recipe is adapted from 'Madeleines de Proust' served during afternoon tea at the Bar Vendôme at the Ritz Hôtel in Paris, France.

Traditional Madeleines

Adapted from Baking: From my home to yours by Dorie Greenspan

2/3 c. all purpose flour
3/4 tsp. double-acting baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 c. sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Confectioners sugar, for dusting

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Working in a mixer bowl, rub the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add in the eggs.

In a mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the eggs and sugar together at medium-high speed until they thicken and lighten in color, about 2-4 minutes.

Beat in the vanilla. With a large rubber spatula, gently fold in the dry ingredients, followed by the melted butter. Cover the batter with plastic wrap, pressing it against the surface to create an airtight seal. Chill for at least 3 hours or for up to 2 days. **Tip: Instead of covering the batter with plastic, scrape the batter into a ziploc bag and refrigerate over night. When you're ready to bake them up, cut the corner of the bag and pipe onto your pan, makes filling those pans quickly and cleanly.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. If your madeleine pan is not nonstick, generously butter it and dust with flour. Set the pan on a baking sheet for easy transportability. Spoon the batter into the molds, filling them almost to the top.** Don’t worry about smoothing the batter. It will even out as it bakes.

In the center rack of the oven, bake large madeleines for 11-13 minutes, and small ones for 8-10 minutes, or until they are puffed and golden and spring back when touched.

Remove the cookies by either rapping the pan against the counter or gently running a butter knife around the edges of the cookies. Cool on a cooling rack.

**Note-do not overfill the pans, a little batter goes a long way. The cookies will rise while baking.

Madeleines de Proust served at Bar Vendôme

Adapted from the cookbook Tea & Crumpets by Margaret M. Johnson.

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup ground blanched almonds (optional)
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon grated orange zest

Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Stir in the flour, almonds if using, salt, and baking powder and beat for 3 to 5 minutes, or until well blended. Stir in the honey, melted butter, and lemon and orange zests. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap and refrigerate the batter for 3 to 4 hours or up to 1 day. **See tip from above recipe.

Preheat the oven to 325° F. Generously butter two 12-well madeleine pans. Dust with flour, tapping out the excess.

Spoon a rounded tablespoon of the batter into each well (they will be about two-thirds full). Bake in the upper and lower thirds of the oven, switching the position of the pans halfway through baking, for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden around the edges. Remove the pans from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Invert the pans to remove the cookies and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Chocolate Madeleines: Substitute 3 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder and 1 ounce (1 square) bittersweet (not unsweetened) chocolate, melted and cooled, for the almonds and lemon and orange zests. Proceed with the recipe as directed.

As time allows, make both recipes and invite some friends over to enjoy your madeleines with some tea and conversation.
Bon Appétit!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Hello Kitty ... an inspiration from Bakerella... "Cake Pops"

I had picked up 2 copies of "Cake Pops" by Bakerella from Costco in November. A copy to keep and one to give away. It was the same time of my younger sister, Irene's birthday and she was the lucky recipient of the extra book. I thought she would enjoy it because she is the trained 'pastry chef' in our family. She was the first one in our family to attend Pastry School at the Seattle Art Institute. The funny thing was, it was my niece and nephew that enjoyed looking at all the pictures. They would go through the book and pick out what they had wanted 'momma to make'.

They have been visiting us from Hawaii and the timing could not be so perfect to surprise my niece for her 5th birthday. We had been planning her birthday surprise, at first, the idea was to make her a 'Hello Kitty' cake. However, as I was browsing the internet for Hello Kitty theme ideas, I happen to find Bakerella's blog for making Hello Kitty cake pops.

That's it! It was enough inspiration and "how to" detail from her blog for my first attempt at making these cute little treats.

I had success on my first try at making cake pops, Bakerella's instructions were easy to follow and the only deviation I made with the recipe was to replace the 'food grade' black marker with melted dark chocolate for the eyes and whiskers.

Though they were time consuming to make, about 3 hours of my time, it was all worth it in the long run to see the expression on my niece's face when she was presented with her 'Hello Kitty' cake pops! She loved them!

Happy 5th birthday, Madison!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Experiment with making steamed Cha Siu Bao...

Part 3 : Making the dough and putting it all together.

Bun Dough
10-1/8 oz. (2-1/4 cups) bleached all-purpose flour, preferably Gold Medal; more as needed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3-1/2 tsp. baking powder
6 Tbs. whole milk, at room temperature
6 Tbs. water
2 Tbs. melted lard or peanut oil**

** Substitute Canola or Olive oil, to avoid issues with food allergies associated with peanuts or nuts in general.

Mix the flour, sugar, and baking powder on a clean work surface and make a well in the center. While slowly pouring the milk into the well, use your fingers in a circular motion to pull the flour mixture into the milk until it’s absorbed. Make another well, add 6 Tbs. room-temperature water, and continue to use your fingers to work the dough. Add the lard or **peanut oil and, using your fingers and a dough scraper or bench knife, work the dough until thoroughly combined.

Gather the dough with the dough scraper in one hand and begin kneading with the other. Knead the dough for 10 to 12 minutes—it should feel smooth, pliable, elastic, and slightly tacky to the touch. If the dough is too sticky to work with, sprinkle a little flour on the work surface and your hands as you knead it. If the dough feels dry, lightly wet your hands with water and continue kneading. When the dough is smooth and elastic, shape it into a ball, cover with a slightly damp cloth, and let rest at room temperature for about 1 hour. (The dough must be used within 2 hours of the time it was made. It cannot be frozen.)

Putting it all together:

Have ready sixteen 2-1/2-inch squares of parchment or waxed paper.

Lightly flour a work surface. Roll the prepared dough into a 16-inch-long log. Cut the log into 16 equal pieces and then roll each piece into a ball. Cover the dough with the damp cloth.
Make the buns

Working with one piece at a time, shape a dough ball into a cup that’s about 1-1/2 inches deep and about 3 inches in diameter. The sides of the dough cup should be thinner than the bottom. Hold the dough cup in one hand and spoon about 1 Tbs. of the pork filling into the center. Gather the edges of the dough and pull them up and over the filling, using your thumb to push the filling down as you pleat with your fingers to cover the filling. It may seem like a tight fit at first, but the dough will stretch as you pull it around the filling. Twist the top to seal the bun and pinch off any excess dough. Put the bun, knot side up, on a parchment square and set aside. As you gain confidence, you may use 1-1/2 Tbs. of filling in subsequent buns. Repeat until 16 buns have been made, cleaning off your thumb on a damp cloth after making each bun.

Divide the buns (still on their parchment squares) equally between 2 bamboo steamers, spacing the buns at least 2 inches apart. Stack the steamers on top of each other and cover.

In a wok, bring 6 cups of water to a boil over high heat. Set the stacked steamers over the boiling water and steam the buns until they look fluffy and their tops have opened like flowers to slightly reveal the filling, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the steamers from the wok, put them on platters and serve the buns immediately, straight from the steamers.

Enjoy the steamed Cha Siu Bao with some tea, yum cha (drink tea in Chinese).

For further instruction, watch the video of Chef Lo's step-by-step demonstration of how to make the dough, the filling, and how to shape the buns.

Steamed Pork Buns by Chef Eileen Yin-Fei Lo, Fine Cooking Magazine, Feb/Mar 2011 issue, page 75-80.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Experiment with making steamed Cha Siu Bao...

Part 2 : Making the BBQ Pork filling.

This is a delicious BBQ Pork filling recipe for buns. My cousin Erin has made this filling recipe to go into the bun recipe for Baked Hom Baos. The dough recipe for the baked version can also be found in my blog under "Making Pork Buns with Mom"

Steamed Pork Buns by Chef Eileen Yin-Fei Lo
BBQ Pork Filling
1/2 cup lower-salt chicken broth
2 Tbs. oyster sauce
2 Tbs. ketchup
5 tsp. granulated sugar
4 tsp. cornstarch
1 Tbs. dark soy sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper
1 recipe Chinese Barbecued Roast Pork
2 Tbs. peanut oil **
1 small yellow onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1/2 cup)
1 Tbs. Shaoxing (Chinese rice wine)
1-1/2 tsp. Asian sesame oil

** Substitute Canola or Olive oil, to avoid issues with food allergies associated with peanuts or nuts in general.

In a medium bowl, stir or whisk the broth, oyster sauce, ketchup, sugar, cornstarch, soy sauce, 1/2 tsp. salt, and a pinch of pepper. Finely dice enough of the barbecued roast pork to yield 1-1/2 cups (about 6 oz.). Heat a wok over high heat for 30 seconds. Add the peanut** oil and swirl to coat. When a wisp of white smoke appears, in about 30 seconds, add the onion. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook, stirring often, until soft, about 6 minutes.

Add in the diced pork, increase the heat to high, and stir-fry to combine, 2 to 3 minutes. Drizzle the wine from the edge of the wok into the pork mixture and stir well. Reduce the heat to medium.

Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in the sauce. Stir until the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes. Add the sesame oil and mix well. Refrigerate until cool.

See part 3 for making the Bun Dough and putting it all together.

Steamed Pork Buns by Chef Eileen Yin-Fei Lo, Fine Cooking Magazine, Feb/Mar 2011 issue, page 75-80.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Experiment with making steamed Cha Siu Bao...

Part 1 : Making BBQ Pork

The inspiration for this recipe comes from the Feb/Mar 2011 issue of Fine Cooking. The feature article gave step by step instructions based on Chef Eileen Yin-Fei Lo's recipe for making her BBQ Pork Bun, aka Steamed Cha Siu Bao. The article has excellent instructions and photos to follow, we had success the first time making this recipe. If the directions are still not clear, they have provided a video for making these delicious buns.

My taste tester hubby agrees that the buns taste just like what you get at a good Dim Sum Restaurant.

For the first part of the recipe, you will need to make the Cha Siu (BBQ Pork) or purchase it from a good Chinese BBQ shop. Chef Lo's recipe is easy to follow and makes more BBQ pork than you will need for the Bun recipe. It is definitely worth it to make your own, it's more economical and healthier without all the food dyes and preservatives associated with purchased BBQ pork.

Chinese Barbecued Roast Pork
1 (2-lb.) boneless pork loin roast
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
3-1/2 Tbs. double dark soy sauce or double black soy sauce
3-1/2 Tbs. light soy sauce
3 Tbs. Shaoxing (Chinese rice wine)
1-1/4 tsp. five-spice powder
Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper

Cut the pork loin lengthwise into 4 equal strips. Using a small knife, pierce each strip 4 times to help the marinade penetrate the meat. Put the pork in a 'Ziploc' bag.

Combine the honey, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, double dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, Shaoxing (Rice wine), five-spice powder, 1/2 tsp. salt, and a pinch of white pepper in a small bowl and pour over the meat to coat well. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.

Position a rack in the top third of the oven and heat the oven to 450°F. Line a small heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet with heavy-duty foil. Put the meat on the baking sheet and spoon some of the marinade over it. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the middle of the pork registers 165°F, 30 to 40 minutes. During cooking, baste the meat with the juice from the pan and flip it 4 times. If the pan gets dry and the juices start to brown and caramelize, add some water into the pan. Be careful to not let it burn and turn black.

Position an oven rack about 4 inches from the broiler and heat the broiler on high. Broil the pork until it’s slightly charred in places, about 2 minutes.

Let the pork cool and refrigerate until ready to make the bun filling.

Note: The pork may be refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for up to a month.

Steamed Pork Buns by Chef Eileen Yin-Fei Lo, Fine Cooking Magazine, Feb/Mar 2011 issue, page 75-80.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Happy 2011!!! A new year and a new start.

Starting out with a recipe for Panna Cotta. I picked up the January 2011 issue of Bon Appetite and this recipe for Blood Orange Panna Cotta jump out at me. I figure this time of the year, there is an abundance of citrus around. I found some of the Blood Oranges but they were asking for a pretty penny for them. I can't imagine paying $2.99/lb for them and would need about 12 of them to make this recipe. So I improvised, I guess that's what we went to Culinary school for, to 'step out of our comfort zone' and experiment with different flavors and recipes. 'Texas Ruby Red Grapefruits' were my citrus of choice since they were on sale at 4 for $1. To counteract the bitter and sour of the grapefruit juice, I juiced 2 grapefruits with 2 navel oranges.

Grapefruit/Orange Panna Cotta

2 1/3 cups fresh grapefruit and orange juice (from 2 grapefruits and 2 large oranges) divided into 1 cup and 1 1/3 cups.
1 3/4 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
3/4 cup sugar divided in 1/2 cup and 1/4 cup
7 teaspoon of zest from both grapefruits divided in 5 tsp and 2 tsp
2/3 cup plain greek style yogurt
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cardamom seeds, crushed (from about 16 pods)

1. Pour 1 cup juice into medium saucepan; sprinkle gelatin over. Let stand for 5 minutes.
2. Stir gelatin mixture over low heat until gelatin dissolves, 1 to 2 minutes.
3. Add in 1/2 cup of sugar and 5 teaspoon of zest, stir until sugar dissolves about 1 to 2 minutes longer.
4. Strain mixture into medium bowl, pressing on the solids. Discard solids left in the strainer.
5. Cool juice mixture for 10 minutes.
6. Whisk in yogurt, cream and lemon juice into the grapefruit/orange juice until smooth. Strain into a 2 cup measuring cup with a pouring spout.
7. Divide among six small goblets.
8. Chill until set, at least 4 hours ahead.

Grapefruit/Orange Cardamom syrup
1. Stir 1 1/3 cup Grapefruit/orange juice, 1/4 cup sugar, 2 teaspoon zest and cardamom in medium saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves.
2. Increase heat and boil until reduced to 6 tablespoons, about 16 to 17 minutes.
3. Strain syrup into small bowl; chill.

For serving, garnish with a small slice of orange and grapefruit, spoon some syrup over each panna cotta.

Recipe adapted from January 2011 issue of Bon Appetit Magazine, page 46.