28 March 2011

Crème brûlée meets Spain

Today was both a good day as well as a bad day. It started when I woke up this morning one hour later then normal. Due to daylight saving we lost one hour of our day and somehow this day went by faster then normal.
I made little apple cinnamon and blueberry pancakes for breakfast. Not everything in one but two different fillings for one kind of batter. This is the first time I made pancakes from scratch. Normally I buy the pancake batter where I only have to add some milk or eggs. This time I had to make it from scratch. I used plain wheat flower, one egg, some milk, some ricotta cheese and a pinch of yeast. This batter I separated in two bowls so that I could add chopped apples and raisins in one and blueberries in the other.

This is my first time using ricotta cheese. I see it in the supermarket all the time, but since I am not a big fan of cheese I never bought it. For this pancake recipe I thought I give it a try. It really made my pancakes light and fluffy.
After dinner I wanted to use all the milk I had before it expired. I searched for a crema catalana recipe in one of my cook books and started cooking. First I put a pan of milk on the stove together with some orange peal and some sugar. Then in another pan in made the caramel sauce by heating sugar and just when it chanced color I added 2 table spoons of orange juice.

After all the suger and orange juice blended together I poured it into ramekins and squeezed some more drops of orance juice on top. That was not a good move, because after that the sugar didn’t set. 
I left it to cool anyway. Who knows I might still be able to work with it.
In the meantime I wisked 6 eggs and 4 egg yolks together and added the warm milk to the eggs, a little bit at a time to prefend having scrambled eggs. The mixture looked really runny and I don’t know what I was thinking, but I put everything back on the stove. And of course everything turned to scrambled eggs. Such a waiste! My poor sink, I had to pour everthing through it before the hubby sees it. What to do, what to do…

Since I already had the caramel sauce in the ramakins and I still had some whipping cream in the fridge I deceded to not let the rest go to waist and try to make crème brûlée. I tried it once and that didn’t work out well. This time I tried to stick as close as the recipe I could.

For this crème brûlée I used:
-          500 ml whipping cream
-          4 egg yolks
-          3 table spoons of sugar
-          1 package vanilla sugar or a couple drops of vanilla essence
-          Some drops of fresh orange juice

I sacrifice 4 eggs, using only the yolk. Added three table spoons of sugar, some vanilla sugar and some drops of orange juice and creamed it all together till it was pale yellow and double the volume. 

I heated the whipping cream till it almost cooked and slowly added it to the egg cream. This time I poured it straight into the ramekins. No more messing around.
The ramekins were in a backing tray with water half way up. The oven was heated on 160 degrees (not Fahrenheit) and I put the ramekins in for 30 minutes, after that I increased it to another 15 minutes. When I took them out I was so exited to see that it was still wiggly, but firmed up enough. I still covered them with some foil, just so they can cook a little bit longer.
It almost looks like I pooled it off. Can’t tell you how they taste yet. They are sitting in my fridge as we speak. Luckily it is now; otherwise one of the 6 might disappear, in my belly…

Tomorrow will be a good day for sure. I’ll have my crème brûlée waiting for me. And don't worry, I'll be sharing pictures =)

23 March 2011

Bo kho (braised beef stew)

Now that I finally finished my Asian food tour I am excited to go back to what I do best...which is eating...
I wish I could say cooking, but after joining Foodbuzz and checking out other foodie blogs I got a bit intimidated (very intimidated). They do such a good job. Their pictures are so awesome and they actually have a recipe! There is still so much to learn and I have a long way to go.

That's why I am extra proud of my bo kho. Finally something I can pull off "easy". I don't make it as often as I should. I don't know why. It is relatively easy to make so I should make it more often. Lets get started.
I used a little bit more then a kilo of beef (riblappen) and I always try to find a piece that has some fat on.
My list of ingredients: carrots (lots of them), garlic powder, Chinese 5 spices, onions, fresh garlic, fresh bay leaves, star anise, cinnamon, cloves and some lemon grass. Oh I forgot to include curry powder, star anise powder and fresh ginger.
I cut the meat in big junks. They have to simmer for a long time and I like them big so they don't fall apart. I seasoned the meat with lots of fresh pepper, salt, some curry powder and some star anise powder.
Chop the onion, the lemon grass, the ginger and the garlic and sweat them in a pan with some olive oil. Then add the bay leaves, star anise and cloves.
Add the meat in the same pan and sear it as much as you can.
When the meat turns a bit brown it's time to add some water.
Make sure everything is covered and bring it to a boil. Then taste the broth and add some salt or fish sauce if necessarily. Remove all the foam and fat you see to get a clear broth. And remember to put in 3 table spoons of my secret ingredient...ketchup. It will help tenderizing the meat.
Now comes the easy part: cover the pot and let it simmer for at least 3 hours. Check up ever 30 minutes to make sure there's enough broth left and after two and a half hours add the carrots. Make sure you don't cut them to small, they will fall apart. Taste again to make sure that it is to your liking. After your 3 hour cooking set it aside. If you want to eat it right away, you might need to simmer it for another hour. What you are looking for is melt in your mouth meat and carrots. That's why I always cook it in two days so all the flavors can marry together.
The next day I removed as much fat as I could and cooked it for another hour. I like my meat to be super tender and soft.
I served my bo kho with rice noodles, bean sprouts, some sprinkles of spring onion and a couple drops of lime juice. Before I put everything in a bowl I made sure I removed the bay leaves, the star anise and the lemon grass. Noting that ruins your meal as accidentally biting in one of them.
I used the bunh bo hue noodles, which are slightly thicker noodles. No bread this time.
And now the reason why I am so proud of my bo kho...This is the one I made...
And this was the one we ate in Vietnam...The taste of my bo kho was very close to the one we had here. Mine just lacked the nice red color that came from the annatto seeds.

You don't eat the seeds but sweat them in oil to get the nice red color and then use the oil to color your food.
I looked everywhere for them, but apparantly they are not available here in Holland. And I forgot to bring them from Vietnam...bummer.