Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tuesday's Cupful: Egg Whites Icing

A lighter alternative

Each dollop of this frosting won’t disappoint. We tweaked this recipe by Martha Stewart. We like the light and smooth results of this homemade cake icing made from egg whites and sugar. The addition of cream of tartar helps stabilize the meringue, which constitutes this airy frosting. Here’s the recipe:

What you will need:

1 kitchen mixer with bowl

1 heat proof bowl
1 medium-sized sauce pan
1 wire whisk
3 large egg whites or 4 medium egg whites
2 cups water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cups granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup water

Cooking and Directions:

Place medium-sized saucepan on stove at medium-high heat. Add water and bring to a rolling boil. Next, position the heat proof bowl over boiling water (making sort of a double boiler). Combine sugar, egg whites, water, and salt in heat proof bowl. Meanwhile, whisk constantly until sugar is completely dissolved, which should take 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to large mixer bowl and beat at medium-high speed for 4 minutes until peaks form. Reset mixer speed to low then add vanilla extract and cream of tartar. Mix for another 3 minutes then use immediately.

Note: This icing is at its best within the first 24 hours of preparing and frosting any cake since the meringue is delicate.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Monday’s Bread Bowl: Red Velvet Cake

The lady in red

Have you tried this colorful cake that’s flavored with chocolate? Here’s the recipe:

What you will need:

2 (9-inch) round cake pans
1 scissors
Parchment paper
1 kitchen mixer with large metal bowl
1 ½ cups buttermilk, at room temperature
3 eggs at room temperature, separated
1 medium-sized bowl
¾ cup butter, at room temperature
3 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup canola oil
2 ¼ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons red food coloring

Cooking and Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 2 cake pans. Line each pan with a fitting round-piece of parchment paper. Mix flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in medium-sized bowl. Next, cream butter, sugar, and canola oil in mixer bowl using paddle attachment until fluffy. Add eggs, individually, while scraping down accumulations on side of bowl until nicely blended. Stir in vinegar, food coloring, and vanilla extract. Gradually add cocoa powder mixture to batter being careful to alternate with buttermilk while mixer is at a medium speed. Next, pour and divide cake batter between prepared pans. Bake 45 to 60 minutes until toothpick comes out clean at center of each cake layer. Then remove cakes from oven and cool on rack for at least 15-20 minutes before removing cake from pans. Once cakes are completely cooled, frost them.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday’s Last Spoonful: Field Trip

Kelsey’s: Ellicott City, Md.

This restaurant is modeled after a typical Irish pub. Expect décor and an atmosphere worthy of traditional Irish favorites, such as Fish-N-Chips or Irish Stew with tender chunks of lamb and loads of potatoes. Kelsey’s also has a “neighborhood restaurant” charm. Sandwiches and burgers come with your choice of fries, potato chips, or applesauce (for those on a diet). The Mixed Stew crew ordered their hot Rueben ($9.99), a BIG Cheeseburger ($10.99), and their Lamb Gyro ($9.99). We also shared an appetizer special of Mussels in Cream Sauce W/ Garlic Bread. Everything is fairly priced with more than filling portions.

Kelsey’s Restaurant and Pub
8480 Baltimore National Pike
Ellicott City, Maryland 21043

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thursday’s Side Dish: Dried Canton Noodles

A cracker of dried-noodle possibilities
You’ll find several varieties and brands of dried-canton noodles at your favorite Asian foods store or Hmart. We suggest using these noodles in a pinch to make beef stroganoff or chicken marsala instead of the regular Italian pasta. These noodles tend to have a slight (and salty) nuttier flavor compared to other noodles. Also, crumble a small portion of these yellow noodles while uncooked to create a yummy substitute for bread croutons for any fresh veggie salad. We do not, however, recommend these specific noodles for soups and stews.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wednesday’s Helping: Healthier Pancit Canton

Tighten up this noodle dish
If you’re a health conscious cook, there are several options for making this Filipino stir-fry easier on waistlines. We suggest substituting chicken breast meat for the fattier pork. Add ½ tablespoon cornstarch and ¼ cup water to the freshly sliced chicken breast before cooking. These extra steps decrease the calorie count while preventing a dried-out result. The leaner chicken pieces end up more tender and flavorful.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tuesday’s Cupful: Background on Pancit

Roots in China
Pancit can be found on the fiesta tables at many Guam parties and celebrations. This dish was brought to the Marianas Islands along with Filipino soldiers and settlers who were brought to Guam by Spain. Look for different recipes and variations of this filling noodle dish. Pancit translates into “something easily cooked fast.” Noodles and soy sauce, which originated in China, tend to be mainstay ingredients in pancit canton. Also, pancit canton is the Filipino version of Chinese chow mein. Filipinos seasoned and added their favorite seasonings and ingredients. Pancit canton is popular throughout the Philippines and not exclusive to one region.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Monday’s Bread Bowl: Pancit Canton

A Filipino staple that’s all noodles

A serving of these stir-fried noodles will satisfy almost any hungry appetite. Pancit canton, which is made with trademark yellow noodles, has the yummy combination of pork and seafood that’s very popular in Guam and the Philippines. Here’s our rendition:

What you will need:

1 wooden spoon
1 spatula
1 large wok
2 medium-sized bowls
3 tablespoons cooking oil
1 (16 oz) package dried canton noodles
1lb pork or chicken, chopped into small pieces
1lb raw shrimp, cleaned and diced into small pieces
2 green bell peppers, sliced
1 napa cabbage, sliced into bite-sized pieces
2 carrots, peeled and jullienned
1 yellow onion, diced small
5 garlic cloves, chopped small
1 measuring cup
¼ cup soy sauce
¾ cup water or chicken stock
Pinch of salt and black pepper

Cooking and Directions:

Place wok on stove at medium-high heat. Add garlic, onion, salt, and black pepper. Sautee until onion turns translucent then pour in pork. Brown pork for 5 to 10 minutes while stirring. Mix soy sauce with water or chicken stock in measuring cup. Add half of the soy sauce mixture to the pork then toss well. Remove cooked ingredients from wok and set aside. Return wok to burner. Throw in shrimp and let pieces cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Stir constantly. Remove cooked shrimp from wok. Next, pour in bell pepper, cabbage, and carrots. Toss and let veggies cook for 3 to 5 minutes before removing from wok. Now, add the second half of soy sauce mixture to hot wok. Then quickly place dried canton noodles in wok. Flip and toss dried noodles carefully while crumbling them with spatula. The noodles should gradually soften and absorb any liquid or flavors left in the wok. Gradually return pork, shrimp, and veggies to canton noodles. Mix ingredients thoroughly and well then remove from heat to avoid overcooking.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday’s Last Spoonful: Herbs de Provence

A French seasoning blend
Look for jars and packages of this spice mix at most major supermarkets. The main ingredients are usually a combination of savory, thyme, rosemary, fennel, and marjoram. The traditional mix contains an array of spices used prevalently in southern France to season savory dishes. Many variations or recipes exist. This food item grew in popularity with American consumers during the 1970s. Cooks can also make their own “herbs de Provence” at home. Also, remember that freshly made herbs de Provence has a different aromatic character and flavor compared to a blend of the same ingredients that’s several months old.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thursday's Side Dish: Malt Drinks

Also known as children's beer

This beverage is popular in Latin America and Caribbean countries. Adults and children consume both carbonated and non-carbonated versions. Malta aka wheat soda, children’s beer, and young beer was first produced in Germany where it’s called malzbier. A serving of malta constitutes a serving of unfermented or sweet beer. Look for a dark appearance and sweet taste. Lovers of malta like to mix it with evaporated milk or condensed milk. The Mixed Stew crew spotted a six-pack in the International foods aisle at Safeway. Also, expect to run into malta drinkers throughout Germany.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wednesday’s Helping: Types of Beer

Several bubbly varieties

There’s nothing more satisfying or as refreshing than drinking an ice-cold beer during the game with a bunch of nibblers or party snacks. Again, humans have consumed beer since the Ancient Egyptians built the pyramids. Whether you like dark brews or lighter ones, here’s a short primer on this intoxicating libation:

Ale - tastes fruity and sweet. These beers are normally fermented between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The procedure uses top fermenting yeast that floats on the surface for the first few days of the fermentation process before gradually settling on the bottom.

Lager - possesses a mild sweetness. This type of beer is usually fermented between 46 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit. The process uses yeast that settles at the bottom, but does not float to the top during the early days of the fermentation cycle.

Pilsner – actually a kind of lager that originated in Bohemia of the modern Czech Republic. Pilsners tend to be light-colored to golden-yellow appearance with a slight earthy flavor.

Stout – aka Porter – tend to be darker compared to other types of beer and originated in the British Isles during the early 1700s. Stouts are known for their strength in flavor.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tuesday’s Cupful: Beer as a cooking ingredient

More than just a lager to drink
Some chefs like to cook with wine. The Mixed Stew crew likes to cook with beer, but we’re not the only ones. Yes, that refreshing ale made with hops can work well as an ingredient in different recipes. No wonder that beer has been around since the Ancient Egyptians. Beer adds an extra lightness to batters and baked goods, such as cakes, bread pudding, or biscuits. Also, beer provides more depth-of-flavor or extra richness to many homemade sauces. Beer also serves as a tenderizing agent in marinades for any poultry, meat, or fish. We suggest substituting beer in simmering recipes calling for water or soup stock.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Monday's Bread Bowl: Festive Beef Short Ribs

A yummy crock pot feast

The Mixed Stew crew threw this rustic but multilayered dish together in the rush of the holiday season. Herbs de provence provides effervescent flavor to the broth and mix of other ingredients. Here’s the recipe:

What you will need:

1 large spoon
1 fry-pan
1 crock pot with lid
1 metal tea holder
1 tablespoon canola oil
9 bone in-beef short ribs
1 teaspoon herbs de provence (placed in metal tea holder)
1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
16 to 24 baby-cut carrots
2 medium onions, quartered
1 (12oz) bottle beer
Salt and pepper to taste

Cooking and Directions:

Heat fry-pan on medium-high heat. Add oil. Season short ribs with salt and pepper then place ribs in pan. Brown ribs on all sides then set aside. Next, arrange a layer of carrots and onion in slow-cooker then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place browned ribs over first layer of veggies. Position remaining carrots and onion on top of ribs. Add mustard, Worcestershire sauce, beer, and enough water to almost cover ingredients. Insert tea holder into liquid making sure that its contents are submerged. Cover crockpot with lid and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or until meat is tender. Remove tea holder before serving.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday's Last Spoonful: Food Surf

Three books to chew on

Food Surfing will feature fun food links from around the Blogosphere, including leads to hardcover helpers. These recommended links may give you other interesting ideas for making your life taste better. The Mixed Stew crew likes hunting through cookbooks for a good recipe or three.

We recommend A Comfort Food Fix by Ellie Krieger for food lovers looking for healthier renditions of favorites, like Country-Fried Steak with Gravy, Chicken Pot Pie, and Lasagna.

Sepideh Saremi’s GOOD BITE has yummy recipes and food ideas to fill your weekly menus with hearty meals. Look out for recipes, such as curried shrimp fried rice or slow-cooker jambalaya.

Lastly, we like Delicious Dishes for Diabetics by Robin Ellis for simple diabetic-friendly recipes

Note: If you order via the links above, The Mixed Stew creators will get a tiny referral fee.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Thursday’s Side Dish: Other Kabocha dishes

A pumpkin standout
Kabocha or Japanese pumpkin can also be substituted in recipes calling for more typical pumpkin or squash varieties in your favorite traditional recipes. We suggest making mashed kabocha instead of the same old mashed potatoes or even sweet potatoes. Remember that Japanese pumpkin possesses a sweeter taste compared to other pumpkins. Also, try making kabocha pie instead of regular pumpkin pie.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wednesday’s Helping: Kabocha

A Japanese variation
We've seen it many times but only recently tried it out thanks to a sale at H Mart. This squash has an exceptionally thick and dark green skin with vibrant orange flesh on the inside. Kabocha is aka Japanese pumpkin. Japanese take kabocha slices and coat them in tempura batter and then fry them to a golden brown along with other tempura. Expect a semisweet taste from ripe kabocha. Mature Japanese pumpkin tends to be sweeter than other types of pumpkin. Kabocha lovers can buy immature kabocha at the grocery store then wait for it to ripen, which can take place between six weeks to three months after harvesting. Also, look for a corky or dried-out stems in ripe kabocha. Japanese pumpkin shares similar traits to buttercup squash. Food historians believe that the Portuguese introduced kabocha to Japan in the 1500s. Kabocha is a rich source of beta carotene, which helps prevent cancer and arthritis.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tuesday’s Side Dish: Dried Shrimp

An Asian secret ingredient
The long shelf-life and strong seafood flavor make this ingredient a plus in the Mixed Stew kitchen. Dried and salted shrimp can be soaked, rehydrated, or reconstituted to add tasty seafood flavoring to stir-frys, batches of soup, and sauces. Yes, you may keep the shells on when adding portions of this food item to different recipes. Look for sizes ranging between small and extra-large. Salt is the second main ingredient besides shrimp. Consumers can find salted-dried shrimp at their Asian Foods Market, Hmart, or International foods aisle at some major grocery stores.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Monday’s Bread Bowl: Simmered Kabocha Squash with Dried Shrimp

A veggie seafood combination

This hearty dish is just right for the cold wintry weather. Kabocha has a semi-sweet taste that’s enhanced by the addition of dried shrimp that has been reconstituted. The colorful yellow kabocha flesh will satisfy hungry appetites. Here’s our rendition:

What you will need:

1 large pot with lid
1 wooden spoon
1 small bowl
3 tablespoons cooking oil
½ cup warm water
2 kabocha squashes, peeled and chopped into bite-sized chunks
¼ cup dried shrimps, sold in packages at many Asian food stores
5 garlic cloves, chopped
Pinch of sea salt
Pinch of black pepper

Cooking and Directions:

Place dried shrimp into warm water to soak for at least 15 minutes. Drain and reserve flavored water for later use. Heat pot at medium-high heat, then add oil, onion, shrimp, and garlic. Let ingredients sweat until onion turns translucent. Stir well. Next, add kabocha. Let pieces of squash cook for about 10-15 minutes. The squash might still be firm but don't worry. It will eventually soften. Add shrimp-flavored water, cover with lid, and bring to a slow simmer. Continue simmering until liquid is practically evaporated. Sticking to pan may occur. Remove from heat and serve. Warning: Your kitchen may become quite aromatic. Try to have vents open to keep air circulating.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Friday’s Last Spoonful: Sweet Rice Flour

A neat Japanese food item
Look for the white boxes of Mochiko Blue Star Brand sweet rice flour at your favorite Asian foods market or Hmart. Koda Farms mills this special flour from their Sho-Chiku-Bai Sweet Rice. This sweet rice flour serves as a neat substitute for cornstarch and shares a similar consistency and appearance. Mochiko rice flour works as a great thickening agent for homemade sauces and gravies. We also recommend this rice flour for breading and coating food ingredients for golden-brown frying. Koda Farms in San Joaquin Valley, CA has produced sweet-rice flour since the 1920s, which makes for three family generations. This ingredient is also suitable for people on wheat, rye, oat, and barley gluten-free diets.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Thursday’s Side Dish: Red Rice

A Chamorro staple

This Guam side dish, by custom, is usually placed at the front of the fiesta table at traditional Guam celebrations. Chopped garlic and onion enhances the annatto flavors. Also, the deep red color makes every scoop visually appetizing. Here’s the recipe:

What you will need:

1 large spoon
1 (6 to 10 cup) rice put with lid
3 to 4 cups white rice
5 to 7 cups water
3 garlic cloves, chopped
½ large yellow onion, diced small
1 tablespoon annatto powder, diluted in 1 cup warm water
3 tablespoons cooking oil
Pinch of salt

Cooking and Directions:

Turn on rice cooker by pressing button switch. Pour in oil and let pot heat up for 3 to 5 minutes. Then add garlic, salt, and onion. Let the pot heat up for 8 to 10 more minutes, which allows the ingredients to sweat and sauté. Mix well. Pour in annatto water and stir well. Next pour in uncooked rice and rest of water. Stir well so that rice is submerged in colored water. Place lid on rice pot and let it cook until button on rice pot pops up. Finally, thoroughly mix cooked red rice and return lid until time to serve. For a real island effect, put a sheet of banana leaf on top of cooked rice and cover with lid until time to serve.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wednesday’s Helping: Adding Coconut in Cake

Heighten the nutrition

The moist flesh of this huge nut can add a lot of taste and flavor to any regular cake recipe. We used meat from two young coconuts that were already husked and delivered fresh to our door. If you are near an Asian or Latino food market with a good produce section, you should be able to find similar produce. The monounsaturated fat content in coconuts helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels. If you don’t mind a tropical hint in every bite of any traditional cake recipe, like our mochi cake, then we suggest adding nutritious coconut flesh to the mix. Also, remember that sweetened young coconut aka macapuno can be substituted and comes conveniently packed in jars or frozen packages.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Tuesday’s Cupful: Background on Mochi Cake

A Japanese celebratory tradition
Enjoying mochi cake stems from the unique consistency of the final product. Mochi cakes tend to have more of a gummy or gelatinous feeling in every bite compared to cakes made from wheat flour. Many first-timers may confuse mochi cake for a pudding or custard. The customary pounding of mochi-based cakes comprises a part of the traditional Japanese New Year celebration aka Mochitsuki that dates back several centuries in Japan. Mochiko flour is made from sweet-glutinous rice, which lends its sticky texture to any mochi cake.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Monday’s Bread Bowl: Coconut Mochi Cake

A loaded custard cake

This treat possesses a consistency that’s somewhere between a cake and custard. The gooey and young coconut bits add a tropical twist to this yummy rice cake. Here’s the recipe:

What you will need:

1 wooden spoon
1 large bowl
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ cup butter, softened
1 (9 x 13-inch) baking pan, greased
Flesh of 2 young coconuts, chopped
1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
1 (16 oz.) can coconut milk
4 eggs
1 (16 oz.) box mochiko sweet rice flour
Pinch of salt

Cooking and Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine sugar and butter in large bowl while beating well. Add each egg individually, mixing each well into mixture before adding next one. Toss in the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Pour into greased pan. Bake for 1 and ¼ hours. Remove cake from oven and let it cool to room temperature. Next, place cake in fridge to chill for 6 to 8 hours. Serve chilled.