Monthly Archives: June 2016

Kongguksu (Chilled Soy Milk Noodle)

Koreans love cold noodle soups during the summer. One of the most popular Korean cold noodle dishes is naeng myun, which is made with beef broth and buckwheat noodles. Kongguksu, a distant cousin of naeng myun, is made with chilled soy milk and somen noodles. Every summer, when my mom made kongguksu, it always put a smile on my face. I’ve had many versions of kongguksu and have yet to try one better than my mom’s. Most restaurants blend the cooked soybeans but don’t strain it, resulting in a thick, clumpy soup, but my mom adds an extra step and strains the puréed beans in a cheesecloth, yielding a smooth and silky broth. After learning how to prepare kongguksu from my mom, I wrote down the recipe and added it to my repertoire. Note that the recipe requires the soybeans to soak overnight, so please add a day to your prep time.

For those who are only interested in the homemade soy milk portion of the recipe, you will end up with with two quarts. You can easily cut this recipe in half to make 1 quart. To make a sweet soy milk for use in cereal or coffee, add a little superfine sugar and vanilla extract. To make Taiwanese salty soy milk, heat the prepare soy milk, add pork song, Chinese donuts, preserved vegetables, fried shallots, and scallions. Enjoy!

Kongguksu (Chilled Soy Milk Noodle)

Yield: 2 quarts of soy milk for 4 bowls of noodles.

1 pound of dried organic soy beans*
Superfine sea salt, to taste
1 package of organic somen noodles, 9.5 ounces*
1 large Japanese cucumber
2 teaspoons of toasted sesame seeds*
12 small ice cubes
Kimchee for serving
1. Soak the soybeans in water overnight in 10 cups of water.

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2. The next morning, strain the soybeans and rinse well.

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3. Put the soy beans in a large pot and place enough cold water to cover 1 1/2 inches above the beans.

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4. Bring to a boil and skim the impurities during the boiling process.

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5. Reduce to a simmer. Cook the beans uncovered for about 25 minutes.

6. Turn off the heat and leave the pot sitting on the stove top for 10 more minutes.

7. Strain the beans and give them a quick rinse.

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8. Rub the beans together and try to remove as many skins as possible.

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9. Place 2 cups of beans and 3 cups of water in a blender and purée on high until smooth. (This will be about 1/3 of the cooked beans.) Transfer the puréed beans to a large bowl and repeat this process 2 more times.

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10. Pour the puréed soybean liquid into a chinois or cheese cloth over a large bowl. Strain, using a large paddle or spoon to push down the solids to push out as much of the liquid as possible. Discard the solids.

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11. You should have about 2 quarts of soy milk. Add sea salt to taste.

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12. Cover and store the soy milk in the refrigerator until it gets cold. You can store the salted say milk in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

13. Cut the cucumber into 2-inch strips using a mandolin, and discard the center with the seeds. Set aside.

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14. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the somen noodles and boil for 2 minutes. Rinse noodles in cold water.

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15. To assemble the kongguksu, divide the noodles equally in 4 large bowls. Ladle some soy milk over the noodles. Place 3 ice cubes and some sliced cucumbers into the bowl and sprinkle in 1/2 teaspoon of sesame seeds. Serve with kimchee.

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*You can find these ingredients at most Korean or Japanese markets.

 

 

 

Sour Cherry Pie

Sour cherries are extremely hard to acquire here in Southern California. They’re coveted by many pastry chefs at the farmers market because they are great for baking and due to the limited supply. Your best options are to pre-order them or to have them shipped to you from Oregon or Utah. Personally, I haven’t had much luck with sour cherries the past few years but I scored some last week at the Hollywood Farmers Market. I bought just enough to make one pie. I explained to my son that a sour cherry pie is a seasonal treat and that it is important to use the best ingredients when making them.

For this pie, I used Grist and Toll’s pie crust recipe. Grist and Toll is a local flour mill in Pasadena that produces high quality flour worthy of such a special treat. Typically I use my own pie dough recipe, but the owner encouraged me to try her recipe and I was pleased with the results. The recipe calls for their Sonora wheat flour. One important thing to note is that the crust browns more quickly then other pie crust recipes, so it is important to keep an eye on the pie and tent it early enough in the baking process to prevent it from burning before the contents of the pie are completely cooked. The only two changes that I made to the pie crust recipe are: 1) I added one additional tablespoon of sugar, and 2) I used a food processor instead of cutting in the butter by hand.

When you buy sour cherries, you can pit them and freeze them until you are ready to use them. They freeze beautifully. This is a great pie for Father’s Day or for the Fourth of July. And if you can’t acquire sour cherries this year, there’s always next year. Enjoy!

Sour Cherry Pie

Yields one 9-inch deep dish pie (about 8 slices)

3/4 cup of granulated sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons of organic cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 vanilla bean pod, scraped for seeds
6 cups of sour cherries or tart mountain cherries (washed and pitted)*
1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
1 Grist and Toll’s double-crusted pie crust recipe or your favorite pie crust recipe**
1 tablespoon of heavy cream
1 tablespoon of sugar crystals
Vanilla ice cream, for serving
1. Preheat oven to  375° .

2. Place the cherries and lemon juice in a large bowl. In a small bowl, add the sugar, cornstarch, salt, and the seeds from the vanilla bean. Pour the dry mixture over the cherries. Stir to combine. Set aside.

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3. In a lightly floured workstation, roll out the first pie crust dough into a 12″ inch wide circle, 1/4″ thickness. Work quickly so the dough doesn’t soften. Gently roll the pie crust around your rolling pin and transfer it to your pie dish, draping it over the edges as you unroll it. Press the pie crust down into the dish and cut off any excess crust. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

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4. Place a large piece of parchment paper on your workstation and lightly dust with flour. Roll out the second piecrust dough into large circle, a little bit larger than the last piece. Go a little thinner than 1/4″ thickness. Using a fluted pastry wheel or a pizza wheel, cut into 1″ strips. You should have about 12-14 strips. Place the strips in the freezer for about 5 minutes and remove.

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5. Remove the pie dish from the refrigerator. Give the cherry mixture a quick stir and pour into the pie crust. Place 6 to 7 vertical strips on the pie, all in the same direction.

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6. You will weave the remaining strips in one strip at a time, horizontally, to make it look like an Easter basket.

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7. Cut excess dough on the edge. You don’t want the edges to be doughy when baked. Fold over the edge and seal the pie crust. Then crimp the edges using your forefinger from one hand and your thumb and forefinger from the other.

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8. Place the pie in the freezer for five minutes. Remove.

9. Using a pastry brush, brush the heavy cream all over the lattice top. Sprinkle with the crystal sugar.

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10. Place the pie on a baking sheet and place it on the center rack of the oven. Bake for about 30 minutes.

11. After 30 minutes, tent the edges of the pie with foil to prevent it from browning too fast.

12. Bake for an additional 20-25 minutes. Remove the tent and bake an additional 5-10 minutes or until golden brown.

13. Remove the pie out of the oven place on cooling rack for about 1 hour before slicing. Serve with a scoop of your favorite vanilla ice cream.

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* Finding sour cherries may be difficult. Try the farmers market or order them from your local cherry farmer if possible. If you have no other options, you can use frozen tart cherries, but you may need to increase the cornstarch a bit.

** If using the Grist and Toll pie crust recipe, you can make it in the food processor. See pictures below. You want to add all the dry ingredients in the food processor and pulse a couple of times. Add the butter and pulse 6-8 times. Add the water vinegar mixture and pulse a couple more times. Then transfer the entire mixture to your workstation and proceed with the recipe as written. If you choose to use another double crust pie recipe, make sure the pie crust can hold up to the juicy filling. I tend to work my piecrust dough a little bit longer to give it more structure when making cherry pies. You still want the piecrust to be flaky and not tough.

Creole BBQ Shrimp

The first time I tried New Orleans-style BBQ shrimp, I expected grilled shrimp on the barbie, but tasted something completely different. The shrimp didn’t come off a grill and they weren’t coated in a sweet and smoky barbecue sauce – instead, they were swimming in a delicious sauce made with butter, Worcestershire sauce, garlic and Creole seasoning. Essentially, they are a “peel and eat” shrimp dish in a spicy rich sauce. Since then, I’ve tried a few versions of this dish at different restaurants in New Orleans and BBQ shrimp has become one of my favorite Creole dishes.

Unfortunately I don’t live in New Orleans, so to fulfill my craving, I developed my own version of this recipe. It most closely resembles the BBQ shrimp dish I had at Mr. B’s Bistro, though with a couple of adjustments. At Mr. B’s, they don’t hold back on the heat or the butter, but in my version I cut the amount of butter used in half, and I also add fresh thyme and lots of garlic. You can add more heat if you like, but don’t reduce the butter any more than I did, as this amount will make a generous amount of sauce. Finally, in New Orleans they use gulf shrimp for this dish, but I recommend using local wild-caught shrimp with the shell and head on.

This dish is very easy to prepare and takes less than 15 minutes once all the prep is done. Serve with a French baguette or rice to sop up the delicious sauce. If you like shrimp, try this dish – it will become one of your favorites. Enjoy!

 
Creole BBQ Shrimp

Serves 2

1/2 cup of unsalted butter, divided
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
1/2 teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
1/3 cup of Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
2 teaspoon of Creole seasoning (recipe follows) or store bought like Tony Chachere
1/2 teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon of freshly grated black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 lbs of wild-caught shrimp or prawns (16-18 per pound), with shell and head on
Sea salt to taste
1 lemon, cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
1 French baguette, toasted (or cooked long grain rice)
Tabasco sauce for serving, optional

1. Cut the butter into 16 equal pieces.

2. Heat a large stainless steel sauté pan to medium-low. Add 2 pieces of the cut butter (1 tablespoon) and heat until melted. Add the garlic and thyme leaves and sauté for one minute.

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3. Add the Worcestershire sauce, Creole seasoning, Cayenne pepper, black pepper and bay leaf. Stir well and increase the heat to medium-high.

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4. Add all the shrimp into the pan and stir to coat. Cook for about 1 minute.

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5. Push the shrimp to the back of the pan and whisk in the remaining butter, couple pieces at a time, until the sauce thickens.

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6. Stir and cook for about 1 more minute. Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed. Add the lemon slices and parsley and cook for 30 more seconds.

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7. Serve with a toasted baguette or cooked rice.

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Creole Seasoning

Yield 1/4 cup

2 tablespoon of sweet paprika
1/2 tablespoon of freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon of dried basil
1 teaspoon of thyme
1 teaspoon of onion powder
1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika

Place all and ingredients into a glass mason jar. Secure a lid on top and shake until the mixture is combine. Store in a cool dark place for up to 1 year.

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Dark Chocolate Cherry Muffins

You rarely find fresh cherries in pastries and desserts because cherries aren’t available year-round like other fruits. In California, cherry season is from mid-April to early June, so if you blink you just might miss it. This week, I bought the last of the season cherries from Murray Family Farms. While Murray’s won’t have any more cherries available this season, there are other farmers that will have cherries available for a couple more weeks, but after that we’ll have to wait until next year.

Due to limited availability and a very short season, I am always torn whether to just eat them fresh or bake with them. With that said, I do enjoy adding fresh cherries to baked goods. In this recipe, I created a dark chocolate muffin recipe with fresh cherries. The slightly bitter chocolate and the tart dark cherries compliment each other well. These muffins are moist in the center and crunchy on top from the raw turbinado sugar, which adds a golden brown color that contrasts nicely with the dark brown muffins. Try this recipe before cherry season is over. Enjoy!

Dark Chocolate Cherry Muffins

Yield: About 16 muffins

2 cups of Sonora wheat flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup of Valrhona cocoa powder or unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt
½ cup of unsalted butter, soften
3/4 cup of sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup of sour cream
1/3 cup of whole milk
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups of pitted and chopped ripe dark cherries (Bing or Tulare)
2/3 cup of dark chocolate chips
Turbinado sugar for topping

1. Preheat the oven to 350° and line the muffin pans with cupcake liners.

2. In a medium bowl, add the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk and break up any lumps. If the cocoa powder is lumpy, sift the dry ingredients.

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3. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the sugar and butter on medium speed for 2 minutes.

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4. Add one egg, beat until combined. Add the second egg ask beat well until smooth.

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5. Add sour cream, milk, and the vanilla extract. Beat until the mixture is smooth.image6. Set the mixer on low speed. Slowly add the in the dry ingredients until just a few streaks of flour is visible. Turn off the mixer and release the bowl.

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7. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the dark chocolate chips and the cherries, but don’t over mix.

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8. Scoop the batter with a large ice cream scoop into a lined muffin pan. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar.

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9. Bake for 20-22 minutes, but don’t overbake. Check with a toothpick at the 20 minute mark.

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10. When the muffins are done, immediately remove them from the muffin pans and transfer to a cooling rack. Cool for 10 minutes and serve with a tall glass of milk or coffee.

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