Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Dulce de Leche Gelato and Caramel Banana Bread "Brioche"

I saw this recipe on making your own dulce de leche- it's like magic! You start out with a can of sweetened condensed milk, and voila, after 3 hours, it's can of heavenly dulce de leche.

So, Dulce de leche = milk caramel. The slow simmering of sugar and milk causes caramelization, evaporation of excess water, and the Maillard reaction. What this all means is one delicious can of goodness. I made my dulce de leche the old fashioned way, by cooking it in the can directly. To lessen the chance of an explosion, I used my can opener to puncture 2 small holes in the can.

Make-your-own-Dulce de Leche

- 1 x 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk (larger sized can may require longer cooking time)
- 1 pot of hot water

  1. Using a can opener, make 2 small holes in the top of the can. No need to pull the lid back.
  2. Place in pot of simmering water on medium, maintain water level at 3/4 height of can. Check periodically to refill water as needed.
  3. Simmer for 3 hours.
  4. Open can, marvel in amazement at deliciousness, and lick fingers. Don't burn your tongue.

Dulce de Leche Gelato

- 1 x can of Dulce de leche from above (reserve small amount for creating ribbons)
- 2 cups whole milk (reserve small amount for dissolving corn starch)
- 1/2 cup cream
- vanilla bean from 1 pod
- 1.5 Tbsp corn starch

  1. Add milk, cream and vanilla bean together.
  2. Bring to a boil.
  3. Dissolve corn starch in reserve amount of milk, and add to milk mixture.
  4. Remove from heat, whisk in dulce de leche. Reserve some of the dulce de leche for creating "ribbons" in the gelato.
  5. Chill overnight in refrigerator.
  6. Add into gelato machine in the morning.
  7. Add reserved dulce de leche while making gelato to create ribbons therein.

Banana Bread "Brioche"

This isn't really a brioche; rather, it's a standard banana bread recipe, but baked in brioche tins. I liked the shape and size of the brioche tins, and thought a hearty banana bread would go well with caramel flavors.

Recipe adapted from "Aunt Holly's" Banana Bread on Epicurious:

- 7-8 ripe bananas
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 eggs beaten
- 2 tsp baking soda

  1. Mash bananas.
  2. Add remaining ingredients.
  3. Bake in brioche tins and/or loaf pans.
  4. Serve banana bread "brioche" with quenelle of dulce de leche gelato, and drizzle ensemble with caramel.
  5. Add toasted walnuts.

Not my best plating, the quenelle of gelato looks like a fat slug, haha.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Blueberry and Vanilla Gelato with Chocolate Tuile Two Ways

Gelato turned out superb in my Delonghi GM6000 Gelato machine; as good as, if not better than Ciao Bella. This gelato used heavy cream and whole milk; expect future variations to be on the healthier side.

Blueberry Gelato

- ~ 2 pints blueberries
- orange juice
This makes about 2 cups of blueberry reduction

- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1.5 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1.5 Tbsp cornstarch
- dash of salt
- 1.5 cups of above blueberry reduction

  1. First, wash blueberries, and add to pan. Add orange juice until tops of blueberries are covered. Add in sugar, and cook until blueberries are opened and softened, and liquid is reduced by about 1/3 to 1/2.
  2. Puree in food processor, strain. Should produce about 2 cups of blueberry reduction, depending on how much orange juice was added.
  3. Next, add the heavy cream, milk, sugar, cornstarch (dissolve cornstarch in a little bit of milk before adding in) and a dash of salt.
  4. Bring to a light boil, whisking constantly.
  5. Remove from heat, and add in blueberry reduction.
  6. Let chill overnight in refrigerator.
  7. Mix in gelato machine, ~ 30-40 minutes.

Vanilla Custard Gelato

- 2 1/4 cups whole milk
- 2/3 cups heavy cream
- dash of salt
- 1-2 vanilla beans split lengthwise, seeds scooped out and added in
- 6 egg yolks (save egg whites for tuiles!)
- 3/4 cup sugar

  1. In a saucepan, heat milk, cream, salt, vanilla beans together until bubbles form on the surface. Remove from heat, but keep hot.
  2. Whisk together yolks and sugar.
  3. Gradually add the hot milk mixture, whisking constantly, tempering the yolks.
  4. Return to saucepan, and continue heating on low-medium heat.
  5. Heat until egg mixture thickens, coating the back of a spoon.
  6. Remove immediately, let cool in ice water bath.
  7. Refrigerate overnight.
  8. Add to gelato machine.

Chocolate Tuiles

- 1/3 cup flour
- 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
- pinch salt
- 3-4 Tbsp cocoa powder
- 3 egg whites (use leftover whites from the vanilla bean custard gelato recipe above)
- 2.5 Tbsp melted butter

  1. Add flour, sugar, salt, cocoa powder to bowl.
  2. Add egg whites, then melted butter, and whisk together.
  3. Let rest for 30 minutes before using.
  4. Cut stencils.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 8-10 minutes, or until edges are golden and centers are beginning to color.
  6. Remove from oven.
  7. Let cool slightly, then drape around cylinder of choice (wine bottles, rolling pins, etc..)
  8. If cookies cool/harden too much to prevent forming, heat in microwave for 10-15 seconds to soften.
  9. Pour excess tuile batter into pan, and bake like a cake. Stamp out mini-rounds.

Blueberry gelato sitting on a bed of french vanilla bean gelato base, spiked with a chocolate tuile.
Served with a blueberry syrup reduction, and mini chocolate tuile cake rounds at the end of the plate.

Also liked this second picture, which shows all the elements of the dessert more distinctly. Actually, it's almost like a deconstructed ice cream cake, due to the chocolate tuile cake portion prepared the second way.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Zha Jiang Mian

Trying to make an old Chinese staple/favorite here. I used ground beef, but I'd probably use ground turkey or ground pork in the future. Also, instead of sweet bean paste I used hoisin, which was slightly overpowering. In the future, I'd stick to the sweet bean paste, and perhaps also add a little heat from some chili sauce. Also, I was lazy and cooked everything in the same pot; for best results, the meat should be cooked first, then removed. Then the garlic/green onions sauteed, then the meat added back in, then the sauces mixed separately then added into the meat.

Quantities aren't listed here; mix to taste.

Zha Jiang Mian

- Ground beef
- Scallions (use more scallions + green onions for a fresher taste)
- Garlic
- Shaoxin rice wine
- Hoisin sauce or sweet bean sauce
- Fermented black bean sauce
- Pepper (skip the salt since the black bean sauce is very salty)
- Sugar
- Julienned carrots and cucumbers for garnish

  1. Sautee green onions and minced garlic together.
  2. Add in ground meat.
  3. Add Shaoxin rice wine.
  4. Add in hoisin sauce, black bean sauce, pepper, sugar. Mix to taste. Alternatively, dissolve the hoisin, black bean sauce, and other flavorings in 1/2 cup water first, add to meat, then reduce.
  5. Serve with thicker style noodles, and top with julienned carrots and cucumbers.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Crispy Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Since sweet potatoes have a high moisture/starch ratio, they will not crisp in the oven if these critical steps are not followed; ice water soaking and egg wash.

Sweet Potato Fries

- Sweet potatoes
- 2 egg whites beaten until foamy
- olive oil
- salt or sea salt
- garlic powder
- paprika
- cayenne pepper
- cinnamon
- black pepper
- ice water bath

  1. Peel and cut sweet potatoes into thick matchsticks.
  2. Soak in ice waterbath for at least 30 minutes (IMPORTANT).
  3. Remove from waterbath, and carefully dry sweet potatoes.
  4. Whisk together egg whites and 1-2 Tbsp olive oil.
  5. Brush all the sweet potatoes with egg white wash. Don't worry if there's excess egg white wash.
  6. Sprinkle dry spice mix over sweet potatoes.
  7. When arranging fries on parchment paper covered baking sheet, make sure NOT to crowd the fries, otherwise they will steam and create soggy fries.
  8. Bake at 400 degrees F for about 30-40 minutes, or until fries are slightly blackened towards the tips. Remove from oven halfway through and flip fries over.

They were quite tasty.

Brioche Hamburger Buns

Decided to make my own hamburger buns; had a problem with the buns cracking along the top, but otherwise, it was quite successful. I think the texture was pretty good, actually.

Makes about 7-8 buns.

Brioche Hamburger Buns

- 3/4 cup milk (needs to be slightly warmer, 120-130 degrees F for quick yeast)
- 1 packet quick yeast (didn't have time that day for active dry)
- salt
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1.5 sticks melted butter
- 3 cups unbleached AP flour
- 1 cup bleached AP flour
- 2-3 additional Tbsp flour
- egg wash (1 beaten egg + 1 Tbsp water)
- poppy and sesame seeds

  1. Mix dry ingredients together (quick years, flours, sugar, salt).
  2. Add butter; other recipes suggested using softened, not melted butter, and mixing with the flour to achieve a crumbly consistency.
  3. Add butter, eggs, warm milk.
  4. Add additional 2-3 Tbsp flour as needed, but no more! Dough will be very moist.
  5. Knead with dough hook for 15 minutes. When done, the dough will slap the sides of the mixer container, and will look, as some have said, like a "fat, napping caterpillar".
  6. Remove dough, cover with plastic wrap, let it sit for the first rise.
  7. Refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight (makes it easier to work with).
  8. Remove from refrigerator, shape into balls, then flatten with palm of hand.
  9. Paint once with egg wash, sprinkle sesame and poppy seeds on top, then paint with egg wash again.
  10. Let sit on baking sheet covered with parchment paper for about 1 hr+.
  11. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 25-35 minutes, or until golden brown.
  12. Remove, and place on cooling rack.
  13. Enjoy with favorite hamburger!

Shaped brioche buns undergoing their 2nd rise.

Fresh out of the oven.

Served with a burger!