Wednesday, September 14, 2011

August 2011 Daring Cooks: Stock to Soup to Consomme

Chicken soup with daikon, celery, carrot, been sprout

Paired with the compulsory accompaniment, homemade noodles! =)

Peta, of the blog Peta Eats, was our lovely hostess for the Daring Cook‟s September 2011 challenge, “Stock to Soup to Consommé”. We were taught the
meaning between the three dishes, how to make a crystal clear Consommé if we so chose to do so, and encouraged to share our own delicious soup recipes!

This challenge was actually really fun! Pity we didn't go all the way to make the soup to the consomme though cause we realized that we had no eggs when we were trying out the challenge but I reckon this won't be our last soup and there will definitely come a chance where we will attempt a consomme!

Making the egg noodles

The egg noodles were pretty challenging, to say the least. Rolling it out to the consistency we want and then cooking it is not that easy. Furthermore, we only had a rolling pin to help us on our way. CK attempted mee pok (fettucine shaped) while I attempted mee (spaghetti shaped). His mee pok came out beautifully but I can't say the same for my mee. The shapes were irregular, with some parts being thicker than others, so the cooking wasn't uniform. Urgh.


I can't remember what I did for the stock so I'll just share a recipe from Peta.

1 kg chicken bones or skinned Marylands 1 boiling chicken or 2 kg (21⁄4 lb) wings 400 gm (14 oz) onions, about 4 medium 400 gm (14 oz) carrots, about 6 medium 200 gm (7 oz) celery, about 4 large ribs
50 gm (13⁄4 oz) dried mushrooms, about 12 200 gm (7 oz) broccoli stalk, two large stalks

Soup or Consommé
2 litres (8 cups/2 quarts) chicken stock 500 gm (1 lb) chicken mince 2 whole star anise 1 cinnamon stick
4 cm (11⁄2 inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled, thinly sliced 1 stalk lemongrass, bruised 4 cm (11⁄2 inch) piece fresh ginger, extra, peeled, chopped 1⁄2 red capsicum (red bell pepper), chopped 2 spring (green) onions, chopped 4 kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded 2 red bird's eye chillies, seeded (optional), thinly sliced 1⁄2 cup (120 ml) (30 gm) (1 oz) Vietnamese mint leaves 1 cup (240 ml) (60 gm) (2 oz) coriander (cilantro) (Reserve 18 of the smallest leaves and 6 of the tips for service) wash the rest of the bunch including the roots. 1/4 cup (60ml) lime juice 1 - 2 tablespoons (30 ml) fish sauce

Clarifying the soup
1 egg white per 4 cups of stock (for clarifying)
1 cup crushed ice per 4 cups of stock


Step 1 - Stock

1. Cook your bones and chicken until brown. 2. Sweat the vegetables in the oil or butter until soft.
3. Put ingredients in a stockpot and cover with cold water.
4. Cover with a lid, then bring to a boil on medium-high heat.
5. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered, skimming foam from surface, for 2 hours or
until meat falls from bone. Lift out the chicken and keep for another use. 6. Strain stock through a muslin-lined sieve. Discard solids.

Step 2 – Soup
1. Fry the mince until brown and cooked. Allow any juices to cook off. You don‟t want any burnt bits as it will make your stock bitter.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 30 – 40 minutes 3. Skim off any fat. 4. Strain the soup to remove any solids. Allow 1 cup/240ml per serve

Step 3 – Consommé (clarified with egg whites)
1. Place egg whites in a bowl. This is the time to taste your stock and decide if it needs more flavourings or salt and pepper. Add seasoning to the egg whites.
2. Whisk the whites to a bubbly froth and add the crushed ice.
3. Add to the cooked meat. Mix together.
4. Add this mixture to the simmering stock. Whisk for a slow count of three.
5. Let it heat slowly back to a simmer. Don‟t stir it again.

6. The raft is a delicate thing. It is vital it doesn‟t break apart (if it breaks apart it will all mix back into the soup and you‟ll have to start again with the egg whites.), you want to bring it up to a simmer very slowly. Keep a close eye on it. I try to push the middle back so I get a good hole. Once the raft is substantial, break a little hole in it if there isn‟t already one.
7. As the consommé simmers, you will see bubbles and foam, come up through your hole. Skim it off and throw it away. When the bubbles stop coming and the consommé looks clear underneath, then you‟re ready to take it out. Remove the pot from the heat and let it sit for ten minutes.
8. Removing the consommé from underneath the raft is another nerve racking procedure. You want to break as little of the raft as possible, but you have to get underneath it to remove the liquid.
9. Enlarge your hole with a ladle and spoon it all out as gently as you can. You can strain it if you want too but hopefully the liquid is clear. Once you‟ve removed all of the consommé from the pot discard the raft. If you have never made a consommé before Victory dances and loud cheering are totally appropriate.
10. Now you are ready to serve.

For egg noodles

1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup of water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour

1) Mix everything in a bowl and knead until stiff and elastic
2) Let the dough sit and rest in a covered area for 30 minutes
3) Roll into desired shapes!
4) Cook them in boiling water for about 1minute, depending on your thickness really. The mee pok took 1 minute. The noodles took about 2.

Make some noodles today and work your arms out! =D

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Lor Bak (Braised Pork)

Oh. Man.

I love Lor Bak. I love the melt-in-your-mouth texture of the meat, I love the fragrant and delicious braising liquid smothered over my rice, I love the accompaniments to the dish like the semi-solid garlic cloves, eggs and sometimes tau kwa and tau pok.

Damn I just love to eat.

I've made this a couple of times and each time I'm learning more and more about it's preparation then the previous attempt. And each time I feel that it's getting better and better and better. I can't wait to make this again and hopefully one day, attain the level of yum that is conjured by my grandma. In fact, I'm gonna spend more time in my grandma's kitchen and pick up her mad awesome cooking skills!

The magical ingredients!

Grandma's Braised Pork

500g of pork belly. I used a loin portion which has less fat and more meat. But if you can, use pure unadulterated pork belly. =D
3 tablespoon dary soy sauce
2 tablespoon light soy sauce
2 teaspoon 5 spice powder

2 tablespoons of brown sugar
2 tablespoons of oil (I used vegetable oil.)
4 cloves
12 white peppercorn (more is fine.. I bumped it up to 1 tablespoon after taking this photo)
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise
11 cloves of garlic (but the more the merrier, really!)

Hard boiled eggs if desired. I tossed in a couple 15minutes before serving so that it absorbs the color.

1) Marinate the pork in the soy sauces and 5 spice powder for at least 2 hours. Overnight is best!
2) Start cooking approximately 2 hours before serving this dish.
3) Heat the braising pan on medium high heat.
4) Fry the dry spices without adding any oil to let the oils of the spices come out, for about 2minutes.
5) Add the oil in and let the oil heat up, about a minute
6) Add the brown sugar and fry until it has dissolved, about a minute
7) Put in the pieces of pork and fry them until the sides have browned, about 3 minutes. Then, flip the pork around and brown the other side, another 3 minutes.
8)Once the pork has browned, add enough water to barely cover the top if you have to. I didn't have to as my pork released a fair amount of water.
9) Toss in the garlic, unpeeled and turn the heat to low and cover the pot.
10) Let it simmer in the liquid (braising!) for a good 1 hour or more, stirring occasionally (like every 15minutes?) to ensure that it doesn't burn and to ensure even braising of both sides of the meat. Also, top up the water until the water level in the pot BARELY covers the surface of the pork when required to ensure enough braising action goes on.
11) Meat is done in half an hour if in a hurry but will become AWESOME in an hour or more. ;)

Cutting the pork before serving and licking my fingers behind the lens

So so so yummy. Especially for a student studying overseas, this dish is relatively no fuss, recreates home tastes, and is absolutely comforting. It doesn't take much effort at all and the lingering fragrance really is reminiscent. Ahhhh..

Sliced lor bak with egg on a bowl of rice. AWESOME, especially with the gravy.

Pressure points and top tips! (from trial and error) =D

1) It's braising, not boiling. Don't pour too much water. Boiling seals in the flavors.

2) Don't over spice. More is not better for spices.

3) I used 2 tablespoon of soy sauce and found that it was sufficiently salty. If you want it saltier, add more soy sauce at the end.

4) Do not waste any of that awesome braising liquid goodness. You WILL be punished in some tiny way or another.

Oh no... I'm drooling again. T_T

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Fluffy pancakes

Fooling around with the focus..

Kiwis are beautiful too

I think DSLRs make a world of a difference. Even a shitty layout like the above can look decent, with all the colors popping up, the blurring of the objects not in focus, the sharpness of the images. Gosh. I really need to brush up on my photography.

It's spring time here in lovely Perth. Strawberries are cheaper again. *hurrah!*And hey, they always look better on camera right? =D

I love fluffy carbohydrates. I really do. There's something about bread, pancakes, muffins, cakes, paus, buns, pizzas and burgers that just turn me on. Crepes, not so much. But I forgive it as it can be used to stuff with other goodies. Like chocolate mousse. Chocolate brownies. Chocolate cake. Melted chocolate. Chocolate bars...

Pancake stack with cut strawberries, kiwis and oodles of maple syrup

Here's a pancake recipe that I go to every single time. It's one of those recipes where after you have it, you know you've struck gold and The Search is over. This recipe is elegant in that it doesn't require out of the ordinary pantry ingredients like buttermilk and/or ricotta cheese to make. Awesome for a poor distracted student. =D

Fluffy pancakes recipe!

The ratio is pretty standard. 1 cup of flour serves 2 hungry growing guys. =D

1 cup plain flour
1 cup milk (I used low fat.)
1 large egg, separated (minimum 60g ones please!)
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon melted butter
small pinch of salt, using the thumb, index and middle finger

1) Heat pan on medium heat. Mix the flour, salt and baking powder together in a big bowl.

2) Whisk the egg yolk, milk and sugar together in a separate bowl until the sugar has dissolved.

3) Add the melted butter into the egg yolk mixture and continue whisking until the butter has incorporated into the mixture

4) Beat the egg whites in a separate clean, dry bowl on low speed on the mixer or patiently with your strong hands until it reaches soft peaks.

5) Once the whites reach soft peaks, add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk normally until no more dry ingredients can be seen. Do not overwork it with a mixer though, don't want to let all the precious air pockets from the baking powder be beaten out of it.

6) Once the mixture is homogenous, gently fold all of the soft-peaked egg whites INTO the mixture, stopping once no more white streaks are left.

7) Add a small teaspoon of butter into the pan and let the butter melt before scooping the batter and pouring it unto the hot pan. I used the 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop the batter because I love the size of the pancakes from it.

8) Cook for about 1 - 2 minutes or until the bottom of the pancake is nicely browned before flipping and browning the other side. Don't cook at too high a temperature! Medium to medium-high is ample.

Drenching our pancakes with maple syrup. And no, we don't need to explain why. ;)

Pressure points and top tips! (from trial and error) =D

1) Resist nicking them before plating. You will only end up with enough for 1 plate

2) Beat the egg whites to soft peaks for easier incorporation. It's harder to fold in stiff peaks and you'll end up smashing out the precious air pockets.

3) Medium to medium-high heat for pancakes is sufficient! Too high and you'll end up with goo on the inside.

4) DRENCH your pancakes with maple syrup. Because you're worth it. ;)

A stack of 5 pancakes, cause thats how we roll~

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