Saturday, July 28, 2012

Basic Swiss Meringues

Basic swiss meringue with whipped cream and berries.
I am not one to waste ingredients especially when a recipes calls for egg yolks only. While I was making my basic creme brulee, the first thing that came to my mind to use up the egg whites were meringues. Meringues are a dessert or cookie that is made up of egg whites and sugar. It's light and airy as well as crispy. I love meringues and they are so easy to make. I only make them when I make my  basic creme brulee that way I don't waste any eggs. I usually make them in mini sizes with a piping bag because I like to snack on them plain than top them with fruits. It's good either way.

3 egg whites
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar
Whipped cream
(I have a berry sauce recipe also)

Preheat the oven to 225 degrees.
**I did everything by hand just because I wanted an arm workout, but feel free to use a mixer**
Let the egg whites stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. This will make it easier to fluff it up. With a wire whisk, begin whisking the egg whites in a circular motion at the fastest speed of your arm. Add vanilla and cream of tartar and keep whisking until soft peaks form. Switch arms if you need to. Gradually add in the sugar a little at a time while whisking. Keep whisking in circular motion to incorporate air into the egg whites (air creates the soft peaks in the egg whites). Keep whisking until all the sugar is dissolved and stiff glossy peaks are formed. This will take a while depending on how fast you are whisking. Very good workout!

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and drop balls of the "cloud" onto the baking sheet. You can definitely pipe it if you want. It'll be prettier that way, but why waste piping bags. Using the back of a spoon, create a well in the center. Be sure all meringues are about the same size to ensure even cooking. This is where the whipped cream and the berries will sit. Bake the meringues on the middle rack for 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours or until the meringes are set and dry. Turn off the oven and leave the meringes in the hot oven for about 1 hour. This will ensure any uneven cooking. Cool on wire racks. Fill the shells with whipped cream and fresh berries. I made a berry sauce which was perfect! I also made the whipped cream by hand.

Simple Berry Sauce
My simple berry sauce for everything and anything
6-7 strawberries
6-7 black berries
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup water
Combine all the ingredients in a pan and bring it to boil. Simmer until liquid has reduced to half which can take up to 30 mins to 1 hour. Depends on how saucey you want your sauce to be. Let it cool before using.

Notice the bowl of heavy cream sitting ontop of another bowl
filled with ice. This keeps the cream cold and makes it easier
to rotate the bowl.
Hand-made Whipped Cream

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tbsp sugar

Place a bowl on top of another bowl that's filled with ice. Pour the ingredients into the top bowl that's sitting on ice. With a wire whisk, start whisking as fast as you can while rotating the bowl to keep the cool temperature. Be sure to incorporate lots of air into the heavy cream. Keep whisking until the mixture looks like whipped cream and forms soft peaks.

For the whipped cream, I used the leftover heavy cream from making my basic creme brulee which was the perfect amount. I've whipped heavy cream before by hand in my culinary class before so I knew how long it was going to take. However, I've gotten a lot faster since then. If you have never made it by hand before, DO TRY. It's a great arm workout. It's all about incorporating air into the cream. You'll be amaze at how easy it is to make home-made whipped cream and you can customize your own.

Basic swiss meringues with whipped cream and fresh berries

I've made all kinds of meringues, but I didn't start taking pictures of my food until this year. Meringues are easy to change. You can add food colorings and different flavors. Just substitute the vanilla extract. Be creative with this simple dish. The new Twix Truffle candybars are made with meringues. That's what gave it it's light, crispy texture.

I purposely made the mistake of topping my whipped cream and meringue with my hot berry sauce. It was still hot and it started to melt my whipped cream. But I don't regret it. I couldn't wait for the berry sauce to cool down so I ate it warm. It was delicious!! The warm sauce melting the whipped cream and softening my meringue, it was heaven for me. Plus, I love messy food and I loved the way the sauce and the whipped cream formed a pool around my cloud of goodness!

I thought I show you all how I come up with recipes and how I write them down. This is why it's hard for me to keep track of them and have an accurate recipe. I do lots of testing and experiments so I have lots of recipes thrown away because they did not turn out quite as good. I write all my recipes on scrap papers. Mostly from papers that I've printed for my online classes so they're a little scrunch up. I've been very busy lately so I try to do my best to experiment and post up some recipes every month. This is a recipe I've written down while making it. The top part is a recipe for my tortilla rolls which I will post up soon. The bottom part, as you can see, is my simple berry sauce. This is one of my many many handwritten recipes. Also, I only write down recipes when I remember to.

This was one of the nicer looking recipes that I wrote down...
the other recipes were barely legible

Basic Creme Brulee

Basic vanilla creme brulee
I had my first creme brulee when I was in the 10th grade. It was a green tea creme brulee and I fell in love. Great smooth custard texture and the flavor of the green tea with the carmalized sugar on top was the perfect balance of sweetness. My favorite part of the creme brulee was breaking the carmalized sugar on top. But now I love to torch the sugar. My husband has never had or heard of creme brulee and I wanted to make it for him. It's soooo much cheaper to do than ordering it at a restaurant. It's really not hard or difficult to do. My husband enjoyed the creme brulee. I made him an almond creme brulee topped with whipped cream and fresh berries. He's not into sweets, but he really enjoyed this dessert mostly because he got to use the torch. The ingredients are very simple and easy. I divided the ingredient list into sections so that it's easier for you to go along with.

***Don't throw away the egg whites!!! Make basic swiss meringues instead!!***
3 egg yolks
2 Tbsp sugar

1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Pot of boiling water (4 cups)


First, preheat the oven to 325 degrees then combine the cream and the 2 Tbsp of sugar into a saucepan over medium to low heat. Constantly stir the mixture to prevent cream from scorching. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn off heat and add in the vanilla extract.
Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolk and 2 Tbsp sugar together until sugar has dissolved.
HERE'S THE TRICKY PART: You are now going to temper the eggs (this means slowly mixing the egg mixture with the cream mixture without making scrambled eggs). Sounds difficult but it's not.
You are going to keep the bowl of the egg mixture on the table. Hold a whisk in one hand while you are holding the hot pot of cream mixture in the other.  With the hand whisk, start whisking slowly and then begin pouring a little bit of the cream mixture at a time.  DON'T STOP WHISKING. Pour a little bit more cream mixutre and keep whisking. Pour a bit more until you know for sure that the egg and cream mixture are about the same temperature. If you're unsure, just keep whisking and pouring until all the cream are mixed with the egg. However, be sure that all the mixture are poured back into the pan so that it keeps the warm temperature. So in the end of this process, all the mixture (egg and cream) should be in the pan in which the cream mixture was in.
 ***For the last step, it's best if you place the baking pan in the oven first with the ramekins so that you would not need to place it in the oven after adding the hot water which will prevent spills***
Place ramekins in a deep baking pan to prepare it for the water bath. Pour the mixture evenly into ramekins. Pour the boiling water around the ramekins MAKING SURE NONE OF THE WATER GETS INTO THE RAMEKINS. Fill the baking pan to about 1 inch deep or until the water is half way up the ramekins.
Bake for 50-55 minutes or until the center is set. Let it cool on the counter and then refrigerate it for about 4 hours. After 4 hours, sprinkle the top with an even layer of sugar and torch it. PLEASE BE CAREFUL WITH THE TORCH. If you don't have a torch, you may use the broiler (read the bottom) or eat it without the sugar crust. If you like a thick crunchy layer of sugar on top, feel free to sprinkle a lot but I find that it's great without all that sweets.

Make sure the sugar is spread out evenly

Torch the sugar using a right-to-left hand gesture until sugar is carmalized

**Broiler: After chilling the creme brulee, let it stand on room temperature for about 20 minutes before putting it in the broiler. Then place the ramekins on a baking sheet and broil it about 8 inches from the heat for about 5-8 minutes or until sugar is carmalized. Refrigerate it for 2-3 hours until firm and eat.***

Monday, July 23, 2012

Pork Stir Fry

Stir fry is a quick and easy way to use up a lot of vegetables and spend less time in the kitchen. That's why I do a lot of stir fry. This is a simple and tasty recipe that I came up with to cook something quick and easy on a busy day. I marinated the night before and cooked everything all in one pot. How can you go wrong with stir fry? You can't!

Chopped pork
2 red bell peppers, cut in strips
12 button mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion
2 pork chops, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 -1/2 cup soy sauce

Combine everything together in one big bowl. If you're not sure about the soy sauce, go with 1/4 cup first. If it comes out where it's not enough soy sauce to your taste, you can always add more on your plate. This is just for the marinating process. Mix everything well and let it sit over night or for 1 hour in the fridge.

Heat up a wok to high. Add in the beef mixture with the marinade. Turn the heat to medium high and stir. You will have to stir quite a bit if the heat is on medium high. If you'd like stir less, turn the heat to medium or medim low, but this will take longer to cook. Continuing stirring until pork is cooked all the way through. Lower the heat to medium low, if not already on medium low, and cook for an additional 30-40 minutes. Top with cilantro or just eat it as is with a bowl of rice.

Spicy Noodle Salad

Spicy noodle salad is amazing in the summer time. With my busy life schedule, I wanted something simple and refreshing to eat that will not required me to spend too much time in the kitchen or away from my school and son. My pantry is always stocked with noodles and my frigde is always stocked with peppers. This is a dish that I haven't made in a long time because my husband can't handle the heat as much as I do. However, since I was craving it so bad, I made it with less chilis. If you don't like shrimp and you're not a big fan of seafood, you can add shredded chicken or cold beef. I've done this recipe before with steamed pork which I prefer more than shrimp. You can find the steamed pork at any asian stores. I've also made this dish with fish balls which my husband prefers better than shrimp. They are all GREAT with this recipe. However, at the time, I only had shrimp which was still very tasty.

14 cooked shrimps
3 red Thai chili peppers, minced
1 tsp vinegar
2 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp + 1 1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup water
Vermicelli noodles
cilantro, minced *optional*

Boiled the noodles as directed or boil the noodles until they're cooked as to how you like it. Once cooked, drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside and start the spicy dressing.

Combing all the ingredients together except the shrimps. Mix until the sugar has dissolved.

Single Servings:
Grab some noodles and place them in a bowl, add some shrimps on top, and add some spoonfuls of the spicy dressing. Add chopped cilantro, toss, and eat.

Big Servings: *Add as much noodles as you like, but you want to make sure that there's enough dressings to coat all the noodles*
Toss noodles, dressings, and shrimps all into one big bowl. Add chopped cilantro and serve!

*I find that it tastes best right after you mix it*


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