Tag Archives: recipe

Baklava

29 Aug

Baklava.

So delicious, and so intimidating.  We’ve all heard horror stories about working with phyllo dough.  And even if we haven’t (you really haven’t?  Huh.), it’s just hard to imagine being able to recreate something with so many precise layers, something so unbelievably delicious that it necessarily seems unattainable.

Maybe you don’t overanalyze your desserts like this.  Whatever.

I was intimidated by the idea of baklava.  I heard phyllo dough horror stories.  I was craving some and made it anyway.

It wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done.  But it did get done, and wow my baklava was (were?) insanely delicious.  So rich with butter, honey, and pistachios.  So sticky and good!

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And okay, actually?

Shelling the pistachios is the hardest part, no joke.  My thumb was in SO MUCH pain for days from wedging it under shells and prying them open.

You can use walnuts or pecans if you prefer, but I happen to love pistachios and for some reason the only unshelled ones that were in my grocery store came in little snack packs…  So I had to buy shelled ones.

But if, unlike me, your friends have not all left to resume college/left the country completely, you can enlist their help.

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Or you can do what I did, and shell pistachios while watching Orange is the New Black to distract yourself from the pain.  (You could watch the show anyway, you know, because it’s amazing.)

I got this recipe from The Pioneer Woman.

Ingredients:

  • One package phyllo dough
  • 4 cups chopped pistachios, walnuts, or pecans
  • 1 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 2 cups honey
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tsp vanilla

Recipe:

First of all, if your nuts have not come pre-chopped, food processor the hell out of them.

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Set those aside.

Now, about that phyllo dough.  The package will tell you how to defrost it, but maybe you’re like me and don’t want to follow the directions because the directions tell you to wait 24 hours for the dough to defrost.

Lame.

I did a lot of anxious searching for defrosting methods that didn’t take forever, thinking that surely there were people out there who went to make something with phyllo dough the night of some event or dinner and had to defrost in a hurry.

And I was right.

(Betting on the existence of human error is always a safe bet, especially when it comes to baking.)

Some people talked of a suspicious-sounding microwave method, while other talked about hot water baths.  Most, however, said to let it sit around for a few hours on the counter.  You might want to do your own searching for a method you like, or that is more precise, but I let mine sit out for about three hours and it was totally fine.

So okay, dough is out of the way.

Once you’re ready to work with the dough, butter a large pan.  Check the dimensions of your dough to determine the size of pan you should use.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

On your phyllo pile, butter the top sheet and lay it and the sheet below it into your pan, buttered side down.  Repeat two more times.

Sprinkle a single layer of nuts.  I would sprinkle sparsely, because I ran out of nuts a bit too soon.

Butter two sheets and lay them over the nuts.  Add a layer of nuts, then two more buttered sheets.  Repeat until you use up all your nuts, then lay four buttered sheets on top.

Slice into diamonds very carefully and with a very sharp knife.

Bake for 45 minutes, until a deep, golden brown.

While the baklava is baking, make the syrupy stuff.

In a pot over medium-high heat, combine one stick of butter, the honey, sugar, water, and vanilla, and bring to a boil, then simmer until the baklava is done.

When the baklava is out of the oven, pour half the syrup evenly over the pan and wait a few minutes for it to soak in.  Then, pour the other half.

Wait a few more hours for it to set and become gooey and wonderful (don’t worry, it’ll still be warm), and then go bananas and eat as much as you can stand.

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That’s what was left after family carved out their slices and after I ate many slices during many meandering, late nigh phone calls.

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Cover with plastic wrap to keep them fresh for up to a week and a half.

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You’ve probably heard of the new Netflix show Orange is the New Black, and maybe you’ve already watched it.  If you haven’t, this is your gentle reminder to get on that shit because it is pure gold.

I had my reservations about it, which is why I’m so late to the party.  I thought it would be a case of “Here is a real world problem that no one usually cares about, but we can care now because we have a pretty white female protagonist.”

I thought the other prisoners would be pigeon-holed and stereotyped, and that the main character would dominate the show.  They wouldn’t even be playing second fiddle; they’d be playing viola.  (No offense, violists, but you know.)

I was so wrong, and so happy to be so wrong.

In fact, all the characters are incredibly complex, well-written, well-developed and likeable.  I love all of them.  (Okay, most of them.)  Rarely do we get good ensemble cast shows where the ensemble is racially, sexually (there’s a trans* woman played by a trans* woman!  Sexuality is portrayed as a spectrum, not a “choice” of two options!), socio-economically diverse.

The show also handles prison life really well (I think).  It shows prison as being horrific and degrading without making the women look weak and like victims.

It’s a really well-written show with amazing characters, and I highly, highly recommend it.

White Chocolate Mango Bars

26 Aug

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I have quite the recipe for you today.

These bars are SO GOOD, let me tell you.

The original recipe called for passion fruit, but I couldn’t find any, so I used mango.  However, if you have goji berries handy, I would highly recommend using those instead.

(I’m a little obsessed with goji berries at the moment.)

I think my favorite thing about these, however, is that the chocolate isn’t melted to make a white chocolate-flavored bar.  It’s chopped so you get delicious bites of white chocolate in each bar.

I love the texture.  I love the sudden burst of buttery white chocolate.

(You’re going to want to get the good stuff, by the way.)

These bars go very well with a chai latte.  They go very well with nothing at all.

These bars are good if you have recently been to the library and you found the despairingly small collection of feminist books interspersed with books about being single.

These bars are good even if you haven’t done that.

I don’t know, I feel like you should probably just make these bars.  You won’t regret it.

I found this recipe in a sort of funny way because I follow other blogs on WordPress, as one does… but I never check them.  I never see my WordPress dashboard because I have no idea where it is.  When I was writing my last post, though, my computer died before I could finish so I went to use a different computer and when I logged into my account, it showed me all the blogs I apparently follow.

One of them is a really beautiful travel/food blog that I wish I had paid attention to earlier called Le Pirate, which is where I got the recipe.

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Ingredients:

  • 7 tbsp butter, nearly melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tbsp mango, chopped; goji berries; passion fruit pulp
  • 7 grams white chocolate

Recipe:

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Whisk the butter and sugar together until well-combined.

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Stir in the eggs, vanilla, and salt and whisk well.  Stir in the flour, chocolate, and fruit of your choice.

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Pour into a greased pan (or a pan lined with parchment paper).  Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes, or until just set.

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I’ve been reading a lot of David Sedaris lately.  I first read him in high school after I went to see him doing a reading at the Strand.  He signed my book very nicely (“To Kate – I can’t spell skateboard without you”) and my dad’s very snidely (“Your story touched my heart” – this to the man who barely said a word to Sedaris).  His stories never fail to embarrass me in public as I laugh out loud and disturb fellow subway-riders, park-sitters-in, and cafe-goers.  I highly recommend almost anything he’s written, and if you can’t get the audiobooks read by him, so much the better.

 

Now, if you’ll excuse me, Comcast just re-imbursed me $65.41 so I’m going to have a Frances Ha moment and find some way to spend it.

 

 

 

 

Soft Tofu Kimchi Stew

23 Aug

The neighbor’s dog keeps wandering into our yard.  Two days ago he made it all the way into our house where we half-heartedly attempted to kidnap him.

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Yes, we are the kind of people who kidnap dogs.

Okay not really.  But this dog is too precious.  And I mean, if you’re going to let your dog wander the neighborhood when you live on a busy road…

I’m just saying, we’d be very benevolent kidnappers.

Actually, my mom went next door to tell the neighbors we had their dog and were hanging onto him so he didn’t wander into traffic.  At first, it seemed like no one was home, so she came back, not having tried too too hard, reporting that they had an enormous tub of kimchi on their porch.

Our neighbors are new, and also Korean.  Well, the wife and the mother-in-law are, anyway.  The dog is not, as far as anyone can tell.

She wrote them a note and returned, and I shouted after her to demand the kimchi in exchange for the dog.

It turned out that someone was home, just didn’t hear the knocking, and came to collect the dog.  No kimchi was gained from this event, to my deep regret.

This is all to show how much I love kimchi.  I like that dog, too, but really I am the kind of person who tries to hold people’s pets hostage in exchange for their fermented cabbage.

Now you know.

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So on the off chance you find yourself in a similar situation, or you acquire your kimchi through more reputable means, here is my favorite recipe involving kimchi.  The recipe is simplified (out of laziness, typically) from Chow Hound.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced (you can substitute broccoli, in which case nix the oil)
  • 1 cup kimchi, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups broth, beef, chicken, or vegetable
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 package silken tofu
  • 2 whole scallions, chopped
  • steamed rice for serving

Recipe:

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and cook the zucchini for about a minute, seasoning with salt.  Add the kimchi and cook for an additional two minutes.

Add the broth and soy sauce and cook until boiling.  Season with salt (or chili paste, a the original recipe recommends).

With a large spoon, shave off chunks of silken tofu and drop them into the stew, being careful not to squish the chunks to pieces.

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I love this stuff.  At first I thought it sounded gross even though I love firm tofu, but then I tried it and wow it is so good.  I need to find more recipes calling for it, or find an acceptable way to snack on it.

Anyway, simmer the stew for about three minutes, letting the tofu soak up flavor and blending the ingredients together.

Garnish with the chopped scallions.

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The original recipe recommends serving the stew in its own bowl with rice on the side, but I like pouring the stew over a pile of rice (partially because it’s spicy and I’m pathetic), so serve however you want.

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This keeps for about a week when refrigerated and is perfectly delicious when reheated.

I just finished a really excellent book called On the Noodle Road, by Jen Lin-Liu.  It’s part travel book, part noodle anthropology.  Lin-Liu’s six month trek from Beijing to Rome began as a search for the origin of the noodle.  Was it Chinese or Italian?  Did it originate in Iran or Turkey and slowly become replaced by pilaf?  Spoiler: she doesn’t figure out where exactly noodles come from, but it hardly matters in light of the food and the people she writes about.  There’s so much food anthropology in this book, from the origins of certain dishes to the traditions associated with cooking in each country she visits, to the food-laden hospitality of everyone she meets, to the mores surrounding each dish.  I also appreciated that, as a woman who recently married and was trying to negotiate married life and professional and emotional independence, she paid extra attention to women’s roles in relation to food and the husband-wife dynamic across cultures.  Travel books are sadly dominated by men, particularly when talking about Asian and Middle Eastern countries, and much as I love the books I’ve read by male authors, I always wonder how their experiences would be different if they were women.  Basically, this book hit all the right buttons for me, and best of all, included a ton of really delicious-sounding recipes that, if all goes well, I’ll be testing shortly.

Matcha Pound Cake

17 Aug

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I could never get sick of this place.  I think I’ve made my peace with living in Chicago at last because I know it’s temporary.  I’ve even fallen a bit in love with Chicago knowing that I only have another year left there.

I used to hate it because it wasn’t New York (and for other less petty reasons, I swear).  But while I do love Chicago, I’ll never live there again, whereas New York will always be the home I return to.  It’s where I grew up and it’s where I can always go back to.

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I love Chicago and I love Paris and I’ll probably love Beijing, and I have no doubt that I’ll live all over the world, but wherever I go there will be a string around my finger that leads straight back to New York.  The more I think about it, the more I realize that I can’t even begin to explain how much I love this place, so I’m going to stop before I veer too far into oversharing awkward sentimentality and actually get to the subject of this post.

Which is… some seriously delicious pound cake.

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Matcha, if you don’t know, is green tea powder made by grinding the whole leaf superfine.  You can use it in baking, you can make lattes (amazing lattes!), and you can brew a much stronger, earthier cup of tea than you would get from loose leaves or a tea bag.

I was very excited to get some matcha powder recently (thanks, Mom!) because I am a serious green tea fiend.  I’ll eat anything flavored with green tea (but especially ice cream).  This pound cake certainly being no exception.

Interestingly, it doesn’t really taste like green tea…  It tastes like your average pound cake, but it’s earthier, fuller tasting.  It’s got a very subtle something that pound cake doesn’t have.  Even if you don’t like green tea you will probably love this pound cake.

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The recipe is straight from Appetite for China.  The only thing I would change would be to grate 1/4-1/2 tsp of ginger into the batter, which I sadly didn’t think of until after I had baked it.  But you know it would be amazing.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp matcha powder
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp ginger, grated (optional)

Recipe:

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and matcha powder.  In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in the eggs.  Add the flour mixture and stir until well-combined.  Stir in the grated ginger, if you’re using it.

Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for at least 45 minutes.  Typically, mine took probably 20 minutes longer.  I don’t know why I have such trouble with loaves.  A tester should come out clean when inserted into the middle, and don’t worry if the top gets super brown and crispy, as mine did.  It actually made it taste like it had a sugar crust, which was cool.

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I have books to recommend but I’m going to forgo them in favor of a film.  I saw Frances Ha last night at the IFC Center and I loved it to little pieces.  It’s a Noah Baumbach film, written by Baumbach and Greta Gerwig, who plays Frances.  It’s a slice of life film about being poor and in your 20s and kind of a human disaster in New York, but it’s got some things that those kinds of films usually don’t:

  • a super strong female friendship that totally eclipses any romantic relationship in the movie (possibly in any movie)
  • a modern dancer for a main character (that’s just cool)
  • some nods to Leos Carax
  • a main character who is a total mess and can’t handle basic adult things and bumbles through life so hard but isn’t an anxious trainwreck and isn’t depressed and isn’t ambitious.  She’s just happy.  She’s so happy.  In a city of 8 million crazily ambitious people and tons and tons of folks who follow the college degree -> job -> marry a person -> suburbs (give or take) and tons more who stop at “job” and become Career People, it was awesome to see a character who isn’t ambitious and really just wants to have good friends and be happy and bounce around wherever life might toss her.  She’s not immune to sadness, but she accepts the bad things and bends around them, accommodates them, and then moves on, fundamentally untouched.  She reacts badly to things, she gets depressed, she does stupid, impulsive shit, but she never spirals out of control and she always finds a way to move, if not forward, then at least in some direction worth pursuing, at least for now.

Salty Chocolate Cookies

16 Aug

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18 days to go and it doesn’t feel any more like it’s really happening than it did a year ago.

I’m going to make a list of things I want to do, things that I’ll miss, before I leave for Beijing.  Things like

  • Spend as much time on the Highline as possible
  • Eat oysters at P.J. Clarke’s with my dad
  • See American movies in American theaters (which I’m doing tonight, so hurray)
  • Eat a lot of tacos
  • A lot of tacos
  • And peanut butter.  Just load up on that stuff.
  • Bike to Manhattan at least one more time
  • Go to museums (like the Whitney!  I’ve still never been.  I’m such a bad art history student)
  • Read books that are not about China
  • Have Magnolia’s banana bread pudding (also might do this tonight!)

Okay, a lot of it is food-related, but a lot of my life is food-related, so there you go.  Also, something NOT to do–eat Chinese food!  I swear to god, I eat so much of it, and logically I know that I should eat things I CAN’T get in China…  But Chinese is my favorite.

I’ll work on it…

I also have a ton of video to edit, but that’s a totally different story and one that we will not be talking about anytime soon.

But okay, let’s talk about cookies, then!  These are, in terms of chocolate levels, pretty obscene.  You’ve go melted chocolate AND cocoa powder, so even though the dough needs to be refrigerated, they’re really chocolatey and delicious (I don’t really like refrigerated dough; it always seems bland).

The recipe is (adapted not even a little bit) from Butter Me Up Brooklyn, which is a really excellent blog that I highly recommend.  She has some really creative recipes that I want to try one day when I’m not feeling horrifically lazy.

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Ingredients:

  • 3.5 oz bittersweet chocolate (I may have used semisweet…)
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup coarse sugar or sprinkles
  • sea salt for sprinkling

Recipe:

Chop the chocolate and melt it in a double boiler of your own fashioning over low heat.

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Meanwhile, combine the flour, baking powder, cocoa, and salt in a small bowl and set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in the egg and vanilla until well-combined.  Stir in the melted chocolate completely and then the flour mixture.  BMUB warns that the dough will be stiff, so don’t be afraid to get your hands in there to thoroughly combine the flour.

Divide the dough in two and form into logs about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.  Wrap the logs in parchment paper and refrigerate for an hour or freeze for half an hour.

Once they’ve chilled sufficiently, unwrap them and roll them around in the coarse sugar/sprinkles.  I had trouble getting it to stick, so I pretty much rubbed the sprinkles onto the logs, which sort of worked.

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Slice at 1/2 inch intervals and place them on cookie sheets.  You can space them pretty close together since they don’t really expand much.  Sprinkle with sea salt and bake at 350 for 6 minutes, until the tops begin to crack.

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I have been informed that they are particularly delicious when crumbled into ice cream, so there’s an idea.  Also, they stay good for a ridiculously long time in an airtight container (not that they’ll be lying around for very long!  Just in case.)

 

I finally finished putting all of my photos from my year-long photography challenge on they’re own website, so you can check that out here if you’re so inclined.

Today’s book recommendation is brought to you by a mysterious coincidence of the universe.  I was looking up books about the Peace Corps in my library’s database (as you do) and found one by a woman named Hilary Liftin co-authored with… Kate Montgomery.  (That is my name, if you don’t know.)  The book, Dear Exile, is a collection of letters between the two women from when Kate (!!!) was in Kenya with the Peace Corps alongside her husband.

And okay, as far as Peace Corps books go, it’s pretty disappointing.  In the end, Kate and her husband didn’t seem to accomplish much since the first place they went had such toxic water they had to be pulled out and the second place they went devolved into horrific violence as the students went on strike to protest the abysmal conditions in which they lived and went to school.  On the one hand, it was a good reminder that not every Peace Corps experience results in the building of a giant water pump and a career lobbying for Peace Corps funding… but on the other I am 100% not recommending this book if you’re looking for something about the Peace Corps.

I’m recommending it because of the letters.  These two women are so incredibly close (it seems like) and it’s really wonderful to read about such a lovely friendship.  They’re also really funny and touching (Hilary dates idiots, commutes super long distance, has a mysterious job that never does get described, looks for an apartment, deals with crazy neighbors, etc., and who can’t relate to at least half of that list), and it’s just an all-around solid read, good for the beach or what-have-you.

Homemade Vegetarian Dumplings + Announcement!

8 Aug

I have some news to formally announce to you since I have just looked back through my recent posts and realized I have not mentioned it previously.

As of September this blog will be on tentative hiatus for an entire academic year because I am moving to Beijing to study abroad at Tsinghua University.  My apartment in China will have a fully decked-out kitchen but because I’m unsure of the availability of certain ingredients and also myself (school + trying to explore the city and go to concerts and parks and museums and such = probable mess), I don’t know how frequently I’ll be able to update.

That being said, I have a blog dedicated to my China experience, which will be found here and will also have links to some of the other things I do across the Internet.

Before September, though, I have a nice long month that will be filled with posts beginning with this insanely simple and delicious dumpling recipe!

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You can fill dumplings with pretty much anything, but I made half of the dumplings kimchi-filled and the other half filled with an egg + spring onion mixture that I found in Fuchsia Dunlop‘s Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking.  Fuchsia Dunlop’s book has a lot of really great filling options, and also is just plain excellent so I highly recommend getting it.  I’ll probably hunt down a copy whilst in China so I have things to cook.

 

Ingredients:

  • Package of dumpling skins.  You can make your own, but why bother?  These are really cheap and it’s hard to make good skins.
  • 2 eggs
  • ~4 spring onions, white and green parts
  • 1/4 cup kimchi
  • Ground Sichuan peppercorns (optional)

Recipe:

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For the first set of dumplings, scramble two eggs.  When just cooked, transfer to cutting board and chop finely.  Also chop the spring onions finely.


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For the other set of dumplings, drain 1/4 cup kimchi.  I salted the kimchi and put it in a wire strainer to draw out the moisture and let it sit over the sink for a few minutes.

In a small bowl, mix the eggs and onions.  Chop the drained kimchi finely and place in another small bowl.

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Now, the fun part!  Folding dumplings is monotonous on its own, so put on a podcast or a show or something while you make these.  I think I was watching Orphan Black…

For folding directions with pictures, I highly recommend this step-by-step from Appetite for China.  Once you start folding it totally makes sense, but it seems very confusing at first.

Hold a dumpling skin in one hand and drop a spoonful of filling in the middle.  Wet the tip of your finger with water and run it along the upper half so the skin will stick to itself.

Fold the skin like a taco.  Starting from the right of the dumpling taco, pinch the end and fold the dough over.  So you’ll be pinching on the right and folding the dough over from your left, progressively working leftwards.

Does this make sense?

Sorry.

I would follow the link if I were you.

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I was going to make my own pictorial, but I was learning while folding and didn’t want to try to make an instructional thing on top of that.

Maybe next time?

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So do this until you run out of filling.  I had about two dozen by the end.  You can boil them all at once, pan fry them, or freeze them for later.  If you boil them, heat a pot of water to a rolling boil and drop in the dumplings.  You should cook them for 4-5 minutes, dropping in a cup of cold water every time the water starts to boil rapidly (according to Fuchsia Dunlop’s book) so they don’t fall apart.

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You know, it really thrills me to make things that you most often buy pre-made.  Like dumplings or ravioli, pumpkin purée, etc.  It feels self-sufficient, I think.  Like you’re putting effort into your life instead of being a passive consumer and accepting what is given to you without question or curiosity.  Perhaps this is too heavy for a blog post about dumplings.  Perhaps it is just heavy enough.

In any case, we have 26 days together until I leave, and many recipes to cover!

 

But before I go, a recommendation.  I have been giving more and more consideration to joining the Peace Corps, and my consideration recently turned much more committed after reading Rajeev Goyal’s A Spring in Namje.  Goyal was a PC volunteer in Nepal about 10 years ago teaching English.  However, the town in which Goyal was stationed (Namje, way up in the mountains) and the surrounding area was experiencing a crippling water shortage by dint of being way up in the mountains, far above the river.  All day people would have to trek down to the river and then trek back up hauling containers of water.

Goyal proposed building a water pump.  The water pump ended up being 21 feet taller than the Empire State Building, assembled by the people of Namje, engineered by a few men from the town who didn’t even have a complete high school education, and financed by serious lobbying of the Nepalese ex-pat community in New York as well as some other sources by Goyal.  The pump was successful and the town has since prospered (for a given definition; you’ll have to read the book).

That, however, is only half the book.  The other half covers Goyal’s tenure as a UN translator and his current career as a Congressional bird-dogger who lobbies for increased Peace Corps funding.  His book–and career and life and abilities–is incredible and I highly, highly recommend it for everyone.

Off-the-Chart Ridiculously Great Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 Aug

I’m having a great food week.  I just finished an elaborate crêpe breakfast with my sister, I’m looking at a rack of chocolate cookies I made yesterday, and I’ve got homemade yoghurt congealing on the buffet.

Yesterday I made some amazing kimchi stir fry noodles and my mom made shrimp and papaya for dinner.

The day before that?  Eating out around the Lower East Side and the brilliant Italian place in my town.

And so in the spirit of good eating, I offer this chocolate chip cookie recipe to end all chocolate chip cookie recipes.  Seriously.  I’ve compiled a lot of chocolate chip cookie recipes, so I like to think I’m speaking with some authority here.

Naturally, we all have Top With Cinnamon to thank.  She created these ridiculous cookies using basil + verbena infused brown butter.  I can only imagine.  How fucking epic that must taste.

I had neither basil nor verbena, but I did have chili pepper.  I am firm believer that everything in the world can be improved with the addition of some kind of chili.

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(Side note: I have Mexican Chili Chocolate ice cream, which is AMAZING, further supporting this theory of the power of the chili.)

If you don’t like spicy food you will definitely still like this cookie.  Trust me.  It doesn’t taste like chili.  It just has this subtle heat, a hint of spice, that make the dough that much better than your average, blasé, sugary cookie dough.  It’s divine.  Just have faith.

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And so, with minor adaptation from the lovely TWC, I give you chili-pepper-infused brown butter chocolate chip cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4-1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 10 tbsp butter, cubed
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup + 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • chocolate chips; I don’t like to include measurements because I think it’s largely a matter of taste and also I have a tendency to use entire bags oops

Recipe:

In a small saucepan, brown the butter with the chili pepper.  You’ll know it’s browned when it starts to foam and smell nutty and delicious, which should happen fairly soon after the butter completely melts.  BE CAREFUL because it goes from brown to burnt very quickly.  As soon as it’s browned, pour into a small bowl and set aside.

While the butter is browning, combine the flour, baking powder and soda, both sugars, and the salt in a large bowl.  When the butter has cooled, pour into the flour mixture and mix until well-combined.  Mix in the egg and then the chocolate chips.

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TWC warns not to stir for too long.

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With a 1/4 cup measuring spoon, scoop the cookie dough onto prepared baking sheets.  Interestingly TWC is adamant about using a spoon with a 1/4 cup measure.

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Apparently she has experimented with size and found a noticeable advantage to the 1/4 cup.  Trust.

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Space the cookies 3 inches apart and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Bake at 400 degrees for 8-12 minutes, or until golden brown.

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I now have whole slew of books to recommend in the coming weeks (I have a lot of recipes to share, so get doubly excited), but I’ll start with a really excellent I read while in Rhode Island.

Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper is Fuchsia Dunlop’s memoirs of eating around China, beginning with her introduction to China and Chinese cooking in Chengdu, Sichuan and following her food-writing career to Hunan, Hong Kong, Fujian, Beijing, and other provinces and places.  She’s had a really remarkable career, exposing the world to so many previously unknown parts of various Chinese cuisines.  She’s fearless and bold, eating literally anything that can be eaten and forging a path through as many Chinese kitchens as she can.  Her memoirs are really lovely and funny and bizarre and completely absorbing.

My favorite thing about this book is that, while it’s about Chinese cooking and Dunlop’s life, it doesn’t ignore politics and social issues, it addresses environmental concerns that come hand-in-hand with Chinese haute cuisine, and it shows (I think) the ever-present danger to foreigners of forgetting that they are not, in fact, actually Chinese.  If you have any interest in China, culinary anthropology, or seriously crazy but endearing stories, you should read this.