Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Glass Noodles

Well, it’s been forever and a day since we’ve posted a recipe! We are both now working at Cummins Inc., in the same group, with the same boss. While we don’t live together anymore (a point of continued negotiation), we still get together to have dinner and frivolously shop and, yes, cook and bake.

My husband (I got married!) and I recently bought a new house (with plenty of basement space for a roommate =P) close to my work, and so I wanted to make something special the first time I used our new kitchen. One of my family traditions is to have a Filipino noodle dish called “pancit” (pronounced pahn-seat) for special occasions and holidays (New Year’s, birthdays, etc) for good luck and longevity, so I thought it fitting to have pancit be the first thing I cooked in our new house.

This recipe is only slightly different than how my mom prepares it. It turns out a bit similar to a lo mein style dish, though the noodles are quite different. We use something we like to call “glass noodles” – they are actually made out of bean thread and you can find them at an Asian specialty store, or sometimes even at a Walmart. The brand I like best comes in a pink mesh bag (other brands are available, but the prep is more involved):

"Glass" (bean thread) noodles
~1 lb chicken breast (for a vegetarian option, you can use extra firm tofu or a wheat protein called seitan)
1 bag cole slaw mix
Chopped onion (I usually use dried)
Garlic powder
Soy sauce
Lemon juice
Canola oil

First, soak about half the package of glass noodles in water. While the noodles are soaking, cook the chicken in a pan or skillet over med-hi heat for roughly 7-10 minutes on each side. When the chicken is just done, pull it apart with a fork so you have shredded chicken. Place the chicken back in the pan and season with onion, pepper, garlic, ginger, and a little soy sauce. Let it simmer.

In a larger pot, use canola oil to stir-fry the cole slaw mix for maybe 10-15 minutes – it really depends on how crunchy you want your vegetables! When it’s just about done, season with pepper, garlic, ginger, and maybe ¼ - ½ cup soy sauce. Add a few tablespoons of lemon juice. Add the chicken to the mix and stir it all up.

At this point, the noodles should be ready (the package will direct you to soak for 10 minutes before use, so I just stick them in water before starting on the chicken). Drain the water, and mix the noodles into the chicken and vegetables a handful at a time.

Once everything is mixed up, you can season it further with more soy sauce, lemon juice, pepper, garlic, and ginger to taste. Usually I add ingredients until it smells just noticeably soy-sauce-y but the garlic and pepper also come through. Then, dish up and enjoy!


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Mini Whoopie Pies

The past few months have gone by really fast. Karla and I finished grad school…Yay! We had so much fun being roommates for three years. Lots of baking, shopping and traveling :) …. and since we will be working together in a few months, hopefully we’ll get to do more of that!!

After defending my dissertation this spring, I spent a couple months in California, where I had another baking buddy! My sister and I baked some goodies for her baby shower. Since we had to make a lot of food, I chose mini whoopie pies as one of the desserts since it bakes and cools down very fast, and is super easy to assemble.

Ingredients: (Recipe source: http://www.projectwedding.com/blog/)
2 cups flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 egg
1/4 cup oil (I used canola oil)
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the filling:
1/2 cup butter/margarine
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 cup Marshmallow Fluff
1 tsp vanilla extract
Food coloring (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Beat egg, oil and sugar. Add vanilla extract. Mix flour and baking soda in another bowl. Add the flour mixture and milk alternately to the egg, oil and sugar mixture.

Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper and drop teaspoonfuls of dough on the sheet, leaving about 2 inches between drops.

Bake 6-7 minutes (times may vary for different ovens, the original recipe says 5 minutes). Gently touch the top of the cakes to check. If baked well, the top should spring back. Let the cakes cool completely before spreading the filling.

To make the filling, mix all ingredients and beat well. Spread the filling on the flat side of one cake and top it with another cake. We used a couple drops of red food coloring to make the pink filling and added colorful sprinkles to pretty up the whoopie pies for the party!


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Malai Burfi (Milk Fudge)


Most celebrations in India aren't complete without some kind of burfi or pedha. Both are different kinds of fudge, generally flavored with fruits, nuts, chocolate etc. - burfi in the form of cubes, while pedha as little balls. One of my favorites is malai burfi, especially the one we used to get from a store near our home called ‘Jagruti Sweets’. The fresh burfi used to be so soft that we couldn't cut it into pieces, and had to eat with a spoon….yummm. I've experimented a lot to get the same taste and texture using ricotta cheese and milk powder, but the best result I've got is using paneer! Paneer is a type of curd cheese very common in Indian cuisine. It is easily available at any Indian grocery store or can be made at home by curdling hot milk using lemon juice, yogurt or vinegar. Here's the quick and easy recipe for this delicious dessert.

~400g. sweetened condensed milk (1 can)
1/3 cup milk
250g. finely grated paneer (Fresh homemade paneer works best since its super soft, but I’ve used store bought frozen paneer as well and got good results)
1 tsp ghee or clarified butter (optional) – can be found in Indian grocery stores.
1 tsp cardamom powder
saffron strands, chopped almonds and pistachios for garnishing (optional)

1. Combine the sweetened condensed milk, grated paneer and milk in a non-stick pan. 
2. Bring to a boil while stirring continuously on medium-high heat.
3. Once the mixture starts to thicken (~10 minutes), add ghee (if using) along the sides of the pan.
4. Add cardamom powder, saffron strands and chopped nuts.
5. Keep stirring until the mixture starts to move as one mass.
6. Take the pan off the heat and transfer the mixture to a tray/container. Press lightly to flatten. Garnish with more saffron strands and nuts.

No refrigeration is required for the burfi to set, however let it cool for a half hour if you’re trying to cut a piece. I usually just dig in with a spoon :). If you have leftover burfi for the next day, store it in the refrigerator.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Honey Whole-WHAT? Bread

Honey. Whole wheat. Yogurt. Wait, what? Well, we had some good yogurt that was going to go bad soon, and I didn’t want it to go to waste. I searched for interesting-looking baking recipes that used yogurt - cakes, muffins, pastries, anything was game. I came across this recipe for a honey bread that used yogurt for its liquid constituent, and it looked delicious. After some minor tweaks of my own, I ended up with a bread that was both sweet and tangy and relatively healthy to boot.

1 cup fat-free plain yogurt
¼ cup honey
2 ¼ cup whole wheat flour (divide in half)
2 ¼ TSP yeast
pinch of salt
2 TBSP butter(unsalted) at room temperature

Pour the honey and yogurt together in a small bowl and microwave on high for about 30 seconds to soften. Stir together until the honey is well-mixed with the yogurt. In a large bowl, combine half the flour with the yeast and yogurt-honey mixture and stir to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for about 20 minutes.
Add the remaining flour and knead until incorporated. Then add the salt and butter and continue kneading, adding additional flour (about a tablespoon at a time) until the dough no longer feels greasy. Sprinkle some flour on a baking sheet and place dough on it in the desired shape. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 2¼ to 2½ hours.

Heat oven to 325°F. Bake for about 40 minutes, until the crust has browned. Let cool, then slice and serve. It tastes great warm with fruit preserves, or simply on its own!