Saturday, October 30, 2010

Thai word for the Day: Kanom Chin

Kanom Chin means boiled noodles. If Northern Thailand have their Khao Niao or sticky rice the Southern Thailand have Kanom Chin as their distinct staple. They usually have a curry dish, with raw vegetable platter, some pickled vegetables, boiled eggs and dried anchovies to accompany it just like how most part of Asia would have their rice and viand. Funny, they call it Kanom Chin because their this noodles came from the Hookien speaking Chinese that traded and migrated to the Southern part of Thailand specially during the tin mining era..but apart from the noodle, there is nothing Chinese about this dish. Or, I would bet my life that you cannot find this kind of dish in China.

I noticed that in most special occasions Southern Thais would prepare their food with Kanom Chin. Such was the case when a driver in the office won the local lottery and he brought Kanom Chin and Chicken Curry to celebrate.Also, it was present in the recent house warming party that I attended. One night last week, Nat, our new help asked me what I wanted her to prepare for dinner and I said I would like a Green Chicken Curry. She then said she will prepare it with Kanom Chin. Now, I know that Kanom means snack so I thought she would also make some Thai dessert after. To my surprise, she made this..

Nat's Green Curry with Kanom Chin

It was alright but for a rice eater like me, it really needs some getting used to. But on hindsight, I ended up having 2 servings so I guess I adjusted well and fast :P

Kanom Chin with Chicken Feet


Or you can pair it with satay, a curry sauce and some raw vegetable


This chicken feet with tomato broth was also yummy


If you're curious how it would taste with curry, all you have to do is boil the noodles and here is a great Chicken in Green Curry recipe that I got from Chef Charles Buranasingha of the Blue Elephant Phuket that I know would go very well with Kanom Chin. Enjoy!


Chicken Green Curry
 (serves 2)


2 table spoons Vegetable oil
2 table spoons Green curry paste
½ teaspoon Roasted ground cumin seeds
and coriander seeds
1 cup Coconut milk
70 grams Chicken breast
(sliced into bite-size pieces)
2 pieces Eggplants aubergines
(quartered cut and optionally
soaked in the lime juice and water)
10 pieces Small eggplant (pea aubergine)
1 leaf Kaffir lime leaf (torn in small pieces)

Ingredients for Seasoning
1 teaspoon Palm sugar
½ tables spoon Fish sauce

Ingredients for Garnish

10 leaves Horapha leaves (Sweet basil leaves)
1 piece Fresh red chilli (thinly or angled sliced)
1 table spoon Coconut cream

Method

1. Cut all vegetable and meat (Chicken). Rip all sweet basil leaves.
2. In a saucepan on a medium heat: add oil in until hot.
3. Add the curry paste, coriander seeds and cumin seeds, and stir-fry for about 1 minutes or until an aroma is developed.
4. Lower the heat and add 3 times of coconut milk - 1 scoop each time - when the 1st scoop is added, allow it cooked and the oil extracted from the mixture, then add the second and finally the third. After the third scoop, allow the curry to simmer for about 1 minute.
5. Add the chicken and eggplant aubergines and small eggplant aubergines cook until cooked through.
6. Add the sugar, fish sauce, kaffir lime leaves and chilli. Simmer for 5 minutes.
7. Add the basil leaves mix well, turn off the heat and Transfer the curry to a serving dish.
8. Garnish with coconut cream and tips of sweet basil leaves on the top of curry.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Baking Life

Between work, our dog and my baking, I still have time to play Baking Life on Facebook. And I just don't have one account, I play for Boo too. Baking Life is having this most beautiful bakery contest and I joined both mine and Boo's bakery. Most of the entries are totally out of this world..and I thought Boo and I will have a fighting chance in terms of layout and design coherence. hahaha! Yes, ! take this seriously!

Boo's Bakery



This one's mine

Just Desserts: Red Hot Velvet Cupcakes

I found this recipe a year ago when Sheila (Scott's mom) gave me a copy of O magazine. Featured there was a newly opened cafe in New York called Baked. After reading, I soon completely forgot about it then fast forward the present..I was cleaning the cabinet for Sheila's visit (cleaning cupboards and drawers would be her first order of business so I was trying to save her the work) and I found the magazine again. It must be synchronicity that I opened the pages that lead me straight to the article, because 1. now, i'm into baking 2. I was looking for a recipe that I would like to do for my friend Gail and Red Velvet was the flavor of his wedding cake 3. I got addicted to watching Top Chef : Just Dessert and I am secretly hoping that Eric Wolitzky, Pastry chef of Baked, would win because he seems to be the underdog and he is a baker :))

So, in honor of Eric and Gail I baked this Red Hot Velvet Number from the Baked cookbook.

You need:

1/4  c        dark unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbsp.       red no-taste gel food coloring
1/4  c         boiling water
6 tbsp.       unsalted butter, cut to small pieces and softened
2 tbsp.       vegetable shortening ( or veg. lard) at room temperature
1 2/3  c      sugar
3                large eggs
1 c             buttermilk
1 tsp          pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 c       cake flour
1 tsp          salt
1 tbsp        cider vinegar
1 tsp          baking soda


Directions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 325 C. Line 36 ( 2 1/2 in) muffin pan cups with paper liners. In a medium bowl, whisk together cocoa powder, food coloring and boiling water. Set aside to cool

chocolate and red coloring mix



2.In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and shortening until smooth. Scrape down bowl and add sugar. Beat until mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add egg, one at a time, beating well after each addition.




Stir buttermilk and vanilla into the cooled mixture. Sift cake flour and salt together into another bowl. With the mixer on low, alternate adding the flour mixture (3 parts) and cocoa mixture (2 parts) to the egg mixture. Beat until incorporated. In a small bowl, combine vinegar and baking soda and stir until baking soda dissolves, the mixture will fizz.

That's the baking soda  and vinegar although it appeared clear in the photo


Add to batter and stir until just combined.

3. Fill each cupcake liner about 2/3 full with batter. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven, transfer to a wire rack, and let cool for 10 minutes. remove cupcakes from pan and remove completely.



AND VOILA!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Phuket here and there: Sunset Restaurant

This new series/segment will be featuring places that we usually frequent here in Phuket. Some cater to the locals and the others are a little bit touristy. Some have good food and there are those which only have a nice view:

Sunset Restaurant in Bangtao- located in Cherngtalay from the Laguna entrance, its on the left side right after Black Cat before the Police station. They offer delicious Thai dishes that are very affordable. The place have limited seats so make sure to go there earlier during busy hours.

My friend Gail helping himself @ Sunset


Chicken with cashew nuts

Phad Si Yu

Fish in green curry




Must reads

When I am not cooking, or baking, or walking the dog, or doing errands, I am reading. I have come across 3 wonderful food related literature this year.




1. UNITED STATES OF ARUGULA: HOW WE BECAME A GOURMET NATION
by David Kamp


It chronicles America's interest for food and how it learned to refine its palate. Along the way you will meet characters like Julia Child, James Beard and Jeremiah Towers. And names that you read every now and then like Alice Waters and Thomas Keller and familiar names that I remember growing up while watching TV like Mario Batali. Every one who cares about food have some memories connected to a meaningful meal, taken together this is America's trip down memory lane (and to an extent, the Philippines because we are influenced by American culture) and how it honed its taste buds, how it became cosmopolitan having been introduced to food from different cultures around the world like Italian, French, Japanese, Mexican etc..

2. MFK Fisher's GASTRONOMICAL ME

What got me hooked on food journalism/literature was Anthony Bourdain but the reason that the genre elevated in my eyes was MFK Fisher. She is a true artist. She writes beautiful stories that seem so rare nowadays. Her passion for food and life really stays with you after you close the last page of this book.

3. Ani Phyo  RAW FOOD DESSERTS

In my wildest fantasies, I am a health food freak. I even went to Ani Phyo's Raw Food Diet Workshop hoping that I could actually convert into a gluten free existence..to no avail.To get her recipes--WATCH THE VIDEO OF THE WORKSHOP HERE. If  that video gives a wide shot, we even have exactly the same Saucony shoes!!! hehehe..

I have 3 sneakers that I don't use to exercise :(

But there are some gems in her cookbook that is not just healthy but even a staunch carnivore like me would really love!

Just Desserts: Chocolate Cupcakes

I used to think that baking was not my thing because I was and still am not a very 'exact' person..precision was never my best quality. Having a mother that is one of the best cook that I know but who cannot bake to save her life did not also help. Until I realized how baking makes you exercise your focus and puts you in a zone when you are doing it did I appreciate the whole process. So, every Saturday for a month now, I have been doing some baking. My first ever cupcake is this Moist Chocolate Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Ganache..it is actually just a mini-me version of my Chocolate Cake since I was only trying to finish all the left over ingredients.The recipe is taken from the Martha Stewart's Devil's Food Cupcake.


Here is how to do it. You need:



·         3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
·         3/4 cup hot water
·         3 cups all-purpose flour
·         1 teaspoon baking soda
·         1 teaspoon baking powder
·         1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
·         1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
·         2 1/4 cups sugar
·         4 large eggs, room temperature
·         1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
·         1 cup sour cream, room tempt.

       Directions:


1.      Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together cocoa and hot water until smooth. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

2.     Melt butter with sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring to combine. Remove from heat, and pour into a mixing bowl. With an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat until mixture is cooled, 4 to 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add vanilla, then cocoa mixture, and beat until combined. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the sour cream, and beating until just combined after each.


Dry Ingredients


Chocolate mix

The egg, butter, and sugar mixture



3. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three- quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 15 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.


4. To finish, use a small offset spatula to spread cupcakes with frosting. Refrigerate up to 3 days in airtight containers; bring to room temperature and garnish with chocolate curls just before serving.


Thai word for the Day: Rad Na

Just when I thought that Thai food is all about spices and bold flavors, I was instantly proven wrong because Thai food can actually be subtle and sublime without always giving me the heartburn. Call it serendipity when I accidentally found my 'Thai comfort food' as I was exploring the old part of Phuket Town. This store with no name in Pang Nga Road serves Rad Na or noodles with gravy..




I so love the perfectly battered fish and the flat noodles with gravy that I brought my friend Gail when he visited me in July.


This is just a snack 555!!!


The fish was perfectly crisp and the soup devoid with any spicy flavor was a welcomed change and it just spelled comfort. And, I must have done something good because the heavens just abundantly poured some Rad Na bliss when we hired a new help that can cook. Really cook. Impressively cook.The first thing that I asked her to do is to teach me how to do my 'soul food'. And she made a wonderful twist to it my frying the noodle that added a pleasant crunch.


Our Crispy Noodle Rad na




When it rains it pours. The floodgates must have been opened up there when I recently got acquainted with Chef Charles Buranasingha of the Blue Elephant and I got hold of his Rad Na Moo recipe and to multiply my blessings tenfolds I am sharing this recipe with all of you.

That's me with Chef Charles


RAD NA MOO ALA BLUE ELEPHANT
(Fried rice noodle topped with pork gravy)

Ingredients
½ cup rice noodle
300 grams pork (cut into bite-size pieces) If you wish to change the meat, you might use chicken thigh, or mixed seafood like prawns, squid (they have to be un-shelled, devained and cleaned)... See More
2 stalks Chinese kale (cut into bite-size pieces, for the stem, they are thick and hard, peeled and sliced)
4 cloves garlic (peeled and finely chopped)
¾ cup chicken stock (or plain water)
2 tablespoons corn flour
4 tablespoons soy bean oil (vegetable oil)

Seasoning
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce (sweet flavored)
1 tablespoon fermented soy bean
½ teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon white pepper

Method
1. If you use dried rice noodle, please use the big size noodle, soak in room temperature water about 10 minutes (or until noodle gets soft). And drain. Set aside.

2. In a bowl, mix pork with fish sauce (only 1 tablespoon), corn flour (only 1 tablespoon), and marinate at least 30 minutes. (Put in a refrigerator.)

3. In a wok on a low heat add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, add soft rice noodle Stir-fry for 3-4 minutes (or until noodle get cooked and soft), add dark soy sauce. Mix until the brown color go throughout noodle. Remove from heat. Set aside or prepared in dishes.

4. In a separate wok on a medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of soy bean oil, garlic. Stir-fry until an aroma develops, add pork (or other meats), stir until pork cooked about 80 %, add Chinese kale. Stir fry until the Chinese kale cooked, add chicken stock (or water) and fermented soy bean.

5. Wait until the stock boils, add remaining corn four which already mixed in cold water (1 tablespoon of corn flour mixed well in cold water). Add the flour water bit by bit, keep stirring while adding until the mixture gets thick like gravy.

6. Add seasoning: fish sauce, and sugar. Turn off the heat.

7. Top on the prepared cooked rice noodle.

8. Served with some condiments like – dried chili powder, vinegar with slice big chilies (sorono chilies) and fish sauce

Monday, October 25, 2010

To Cream Cheese or not to Cream Cheese? That is the question..




 I was craving for Cinnabon one chilly night and it made me wonder, when can I taste that melt-in-your-mouth goodness again?!? Can you imagine being in a place where the next Mc Donald's used to be 35minutes away? (since 2 months ago its only been 5 minutes).

Sawadeeka!
Let me put it this way, I can't just crave for something ..like a Twister Fries for example (hell, we they don't even serve that here) and go walk to the corner to have it. We have to plan, wait for a week or sometimes when desperate times call for desperate measures, make it. Going back to that one chilly night, I got too desperate enough that I went to my recipe box in Epicurious.com and prepared this recipe from Bon Appetit magazine.


You need:

Dough:
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 1/2 cups (or more) unbleached all purpose flour, divided
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons rapid-rise yeast (from 2 envelopes yeast)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray

Filling:
  • 3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

Glaze:
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. For dough:
Combine milk and butter in glass measuring cup. Microwave on high until butter melts and mixture is just warmed to 120°F to 130°F, 30 to 45 seconds. Pour into bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add 1 cup flour, sugar, egg, yeast, and salt. Beat on low speed 3 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Add 21/2 cups flour. Beat on low until flour is absorbed and dough is sticky, scraping down sides of bowl. If dough is very sticky, add more flour by tablespoonfuls until dough begins to form ball and pulls away from sides of bowl. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if sticky, about 8 minutes. Form into ball.
Lightly oil large bowl with nonstick spray. Transfer dough to bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.





melted butter and milk


Add egg to dry ingredients


Form dough into a ball and let rise tell double in size




2.For filling:
Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in medium bowl.
Punch down dough. Transfer to floured work surface. Roll out to 15x11-inch rectangle. Spread butter over dough, leaving 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar evenly over butter. Starting at 1 long side, roll dough into log, pinching gently to keep it rolled up. With seam side down, cut dough crosswise with thin sharp knife into 18 equal slices (each about 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide).
Spray two 9-inch square glass baking dishes with nonstick spray. Divide rolls between baking dishes, arranging cut side up (there will be almost no space between rolls). Cover baking dishes with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until almost doubled in volume, 40 to 45 minutes.
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Bake rolls until tops are golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and invert immediately onto rack. Cool 10 minutes. Turn rolls right side up.







3.  For glaze:
Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat until smooth. Spread glaze on rolls. Serve warm or at room temperature.




The making of a Chocolate Cake


I’m afraid that this post is one of those long winding story (although it's got a happy este yummy ending) so consider yourselves forewarned. It started when Scott and I decided to buy a new car.  We thought getting a second hand car would be cheaper but when we started looking around, we found out that resale value of vehicles in Thailand is too high ( Bht 350,000 for a 5 year old car). Considering that there is not much difference on the price, we scouted for brand new small cars like a Toyota Yaris, Honda Jazz or Nissan March. Then, Scott asked me one night, “..would you like to have a toy dog in your garden or a big dog like a Great Dane or Altasian?”. I am a little bit wary of answering Scott’s penchant for hypothetical questions since the last question he asked (“How would you like a dog like Manuel?”) ended up with me raising  a highly energetic Thai Bankeaw. So, I pretended that I did not get the question and that my mind was preoccupied with something else and threw back a question instead, “Huh? What you mean?”.  “Would you prefer a small car or a pick-up truck?” Finally, the cat is out of the bag and I just answered back that it’s not that we cannot afford it but it’s a matter of how he can justify having a truck. But hey! I’m easy like a Sunday morning so without doing a test drive and shopping around for half a day, we took home our ‘Benjie’.

our Benjie

Benjie and Boo

Buying a car was one thing but getting a driver’s license for all of us was another thing. This is not Manila where you can pay somebody to arrange everything for you. We actually have to do a series of very difficult obstacles (like in the police training that you see in the movies). We need a smaller car  to handle very narrow and sharp curves. And we have to take it in Pang  Nga because it is known to be more lenient there, otherwise, if you take it in Phuket, one mistake and you’re out. Mu lent her car  for the test..( I told you this is a long winding story)..and as a thank you for her generosity,  Scott suggested that we baked something. The ‘we’ being just ‘me’.

So ladies and gents, my first ever cake. I did it in 2 tries. The recipe required to bake the chocolate cake in 2 layers but I only had one mold and being a natural numpty, I forgot to add additional baking time because the cake became thicker so I have to redo everything and we ended up with 2 cakes, one for Mu and one for us..which turned out great for everybody!


VERY MOIST CHOCOLATE CAKE WITH CHOCOLATE GANACHE
(from Martha Stewart)

You need:


-1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans


-1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa (spooned and leveled), plus more for pans


-2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)


-1/2 teaspoon baking powder


-1/2 teaspoon baking soda


-1/2 teaspoon salt


-1 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar


-2 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks, room temperature


-6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted


-1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


-1 cup low-fat buttermilk ( or if you don't have buttermilk, you can substitute 1 cup of milk+1 tbsp of  white or apple cider vinegar)



Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans; dust with cocoa, tapping out excess. Line bottom of each pan with a round of parchment paper; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.




 2.In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and yolks, one at a   time, beating well after each addition; beat in chocolate and vanilla. With mixer on low, alternately add flour mixture in three parts and buttermilk in two, beginning and ending with flour mixture.



3.Divide batter between prepared pans; smooth tops. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool in pans 15 minutes; run a knife around edge of each pan, and invert cakes onto a wire rack to cool completely.



4.Set a rimmed baking sheet upside down on a work surface. Place one cake on sheet, and spread top with 1/3 of ganache. Place second cake on top, and spread remaining ganache over top and sides of cake. Using two wide metal spatulas, carefully transfer frosted cake to a serving platter

For the ganache, please check here ( I replaced 1 cup heavy cream and 1 cup plain yogurt because there was not enough cream in the fridge and it actually worked! )