Friday, May 8, 2015

Steamed dumplings with chili dipping sauce

My attempts at trying to keep this space up and moving, aiming towards a one-broadcast-per-week circuit, a repertoire I honestly intended to stick to, is just not happening. As you've come to see over the past three years, multitasking, diligent foodblogger extraordinaire I am not. Those be the gifted and brilliant, and you know who you are, that get timely meals on the table, snap magazineworthy pictures of the same meals, keep house/pets/kids/clean, wax poetic over garlic like its nobody's business, save the world, all the while looking like Giada. How do you do? 

Whereas, I'm trying to shake off  what could be a rapidly advancing attention deficit, as well as the ton of bricks that occasionally sit on the wee right of my brain. This, while taking on the day's charming activities/ distractions/task checklist, read updating FB, switching/ OCD checking between three email accounts, feeding/bathing/cleaning up after dog/kids/sometimes me, killing scorpions and properly disposing of the pesky dead bird from my backyard. Really? Do you call that a conducive blogpost-a-week environment?

Spot on too, with meddlesome mental funk, is the pesky SAD which ultimately takes on my world. It's beginning, that time of the year, where supposedly balmy summer nights, shown in ads of pretty people roasting marshmallows over bonfires and barbecues happens not in my  reality. Just because I can do that on the sidewalk, along with  searing meat, frying eggs, browning potatoes, even baking cookies. For a good eight months, I live in The Inferno. Aahh, the benefits of the desert habitat, people, and I can't even cry.

But, wait... here is where it all comes full circle and I do what I must to stay afloat. As I see it, it's the only road to freedom. I eat my way through each and every nefarious experiment that happens in my kitchen, bringing in hope and a resurgence that I so need.

Now I can redirect the million conversations my mind has made to self during the inbetween, bringing today's subject to debut, expelling any and all illocution stuck in my head, straight to keyboard and onto screen. All the while making sure that today is the day it comes to the one nearest you, even if it means gluing myself to this chair. All day. Perhaps all night

And so we begin the subject of momos. Delightful little dumplings, found in profusion on streets of Southeast Asia. They are actually a delicacy native to the regions of Tibet and Nepal. Popularity of the quaint and cute packet has gained much momentum in the past few decades, where momos have invaded places from the corner cafe, roadside coffee shops, to well and beyond, most wanted feature on five star menus. Why even the spot of  map I sprung from, and my onceuponatime momo memory, brings in nostalgic bits I never wish to push aside. 

Like the Japanese gyoza, these consist of a thinly pulled flour-oil-water cover that can house a variety of filling. Vegetables. Shrimp. Meat- pork/beef/lamb/chicken. Take one, take many, the inside contents can be interchangeable and worked into creative combinations, anything that makes your heart, mind, and soul spin.

And with it you can master the make-your-own-dumpling-wrapper technique, which may not be as laborious as it sounds, but just that first step in achieving stunning bundled perfection.

From the mixing, kneading, wrapping, twisting and engineering into a somewhat original, attractive shape is both the challenge and appeal of the whole project. Where All-Homemade strikes an inner chord, and your kitchen counter becomes momomaking central, end to end. 

Ground turkey meat lends a healthful extension to this light-hearted affair and brings in a balanced, distinctly fresh complement. Zested up with the powerful combine of ginger-red chillies and kissed with masala-esque components, the meat tremendously works wonders against the backdrop of an otherwise bland dough. Served in conjunction with the potent, yet smooth dipping sauce, a more than three dozen batch reaches unbearably good heights, granting you access to eat much much more than you normally would. 

So here is where I leave you and wish you well. Go on. The weekend calls. And this could be precisely what it is asking for.

This is what happens when you a boss. Right??

Ingredients for the dough~
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 c water upto 2, enough to mix and make a smooth, pliable dough
  • Mix flour, oil and salt in a medium bowl or in bowl of stand mixer
  • If using hands, slowly add water in parts and knead to a firm, yet supple dough. 
  • For the stand mixer, using dough attachment: knead pouring water in at intervals (1/4 cup at time) on medium speed till it forms nonstickydough. Use a light hand with the water, as it tends to get real sticky, real fast.
  • Cover the dough and keep aside for 30 minutes.
Ingredients for the filling~
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 tsp chopped ginger
  • 2 tsp sambal oelek, or fresh ground chili paste
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 lb ground turkey or chicken
  • salt
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil

  • Heat oil in a large skillet, over medium heat.
  • Add onions, ginger, saute for a minute.
  • Mix in remaining ingredients and stir thoroughly until well combined.
  • Allow to cook covered on medium low heat, stirring occasionally, until meat is done and all moisture is evaporated. About 20 minutes.

After the first few, you' would've found your own rhythm and pace. But if you're like me, you've gone through enough YouTube visuals to confuse your brain. So there's all shapes, all sizes. All good. No worries if things aren't perfect. We just hide, secretly eat those and move on.
  • Divide the dough in two equal parts. Place a damp towel over one and remove the other to a well flour-dusted counter/workspace.
  • Flatten the dough and using a rolling pin, also dusted with flour, roll the dough thin, but not transparent, to about ¼ inch thickness. It should be large enough in diameter to cut out about 4-5  4" inch disks. I used a 4"biscuit cutter/cookie cutter. You can use also the top of a wide mouthed glass/cup. Collect and knead the remaining dough scraps, cut out until remaining dough is used up. Repeat with the other half.
  • With your fingers, press and thin out the edge of each circle, just so that it is slightly thinner than the center.
  • Place 1 heaping tsp of turkey stuffing in the center of each disc/wrapper.
  • Using your forefinger and middle finger, start making small pleats along the edge of the dough circle. Fold in/ out from one side and go all the way around, trying to squeeze out any air, fully turning the dumpling around to close. 
  • Gently twist the top to seal. 
  • Keep the prepared momos covered until ready to steam.
  • Grease a steamer tray and and fill water in the basket. Place on high heat, and have it come to a boil. 
  • Place the momos on the greased tray, careful to keep space between each and not have skins touch. Cover.
  • With heat on medium- high, steam momos 15-20 minutes, until done. Dough will be smooth and taught.
  • Serve with chili dipping sauce.
With a deft hand and some serious dough twisting skills, you'll achieve art, which I clearly did not. I could only equate this pleating to sari draping. Those of you who've worn the 9 yard Indian national dress know what I mean. For those who haven't, you have nothing to worry about- pleat on. But as I stated on my page the other day, an awkward fold here or there produces not much wrong. Instead, the overall picture will actually look impressive, much like the sari's drape and fall. Subsequently, you may want to call yourself Momo Queen. Yes, I did.

Dipping sauce~
  • 1/4 cup tomato ketchup
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2-3 tbsp Sriracha/Asian chili sauce
  • Combine all ingredients until smooth. Serve alongside momos.
  • Adjust/add more seasonings to your meat filling.
  • Use a brush of water to seal opened or loosed pleats, although the dough will stick together when pressure is applied.
  • Don't overcook/ oversteam. You'll end up with dry, dense dumpling covers.

Three years ago~ cake pops 

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18

Friday, April 17, 2015

Chocolate-vanilla marble cake and a marshmallow fondant revisit

If you were to ask me how many times a year I make cake or have baked desserts. I'd stumble, mmm, how would I give you a definitive answer? More so, what would you think if you really knew ? And I will admit it's more, much more than I've had you  believe. 
You see, of the 365 days I walk my kitchen, I live to bake, cake, on most- big, smallloaf, cupped, layeredcheckered, pop-stickedsoaked- and eat the results. Though, often than not, it's the weeknight one-bowl whipandbake, unadorned, negates any amount of loft which might have them in for a showandtell. Frequents, that make for substantial after-dinner glee, whose stories remain untold, even though many might be possible contenders for the online spotlight.

Way too many to count these standard everyday occurrences, some that do seem worthy, but never see light, due to the lack of hands, words or, in my case, motivation to record all the flour-sugar-egg narratives that make dessert rotations on my daily table. 

Marble cake, fits and serves just that "everyday cake" bill. A combination of batters in contrasting colors and flavors swirled to a deliriously pretty effect, it assaults more than a few of your senses.  The moist crumb is what hits you the second you take a bite, after you get over the stunning visual effects of yellow and brown psychedelics. This is cocoa- vanilla coupling that's almost too delightful to believe. Because even I question myself on how, really, can something that looks this good, and be ridiculously easy, actually be that good? Oh but it can, and I am honest here, people when I say it does delicious in a so rank a way, that it need no accoutrement whatsoever.

Just have it be, charming enough to accompany sips of afternoon tea. Or even tall iced glasses of milk.
But hey, do we limit something of such impending magnitude and and stop there? For there is much more that transcends and greatly adds to Marbles's values. Thereby, it can and will stretch far beyond the spectrum, to grandiose ventures, where it can duly dazzle in fanciful embellished affairs.

And it did achieve just that, contributing to a broader picture, being the star component in an impressive, at least to a batch of 11 year old boys, birthday cake for my Second Born. Thus, after making his favorite sport edible, almost a month ago today, my oven has welcomed the same marble cake, twice since. 

Simple, sweet and sensational. I believe I owe it to you, so that your weeknights and occasions can be graced by just this kind of versatile cake visitation.

So with this discourse as I  show off the personalities and possibilities of today's subject, I thought it'd be beneficial to work in a marshmallow fondant review as well. I had given you an ingredient list and accompanying workflow once upon a time, but I believe we can perhaps tweak it just the minutest, so that you may never have to purchase those from store shelves, majority of which my kids won't touch if you payed them (and that's saying a lot).

Further, my thanks to the many YouTube demos on how-to-make-soccerball-cake-a-reality and pinteresty illustrations that would put God chefs to shame. Because of you, we got to see futbol in cake format, baked, assembled and scored in less than a day.

Here you have it, today's tract, swathed in visuals to perhaps beckon to your many variant personalities, whether it be a liberation of the inner gluttonous cake beast or paving way to your future as Cake BossPart Deux. I think it'd bide you well to look it over and take many notes.

For the Cake~
(Adapted- Martha Stewart's marble cake)
  • 1 ¾ cups cake flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened at room temp
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temp
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ⅔ cup buttermilk, room temp
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder, plus 1 tbsp
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tbsp boiling water
  • Preheat oven to 350° F. Keep aside a 9×5 inch loaf pan, greased and floured or spray with nonstick spray .
  • Whisk together cake flour, baking powder and salt.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy.
  • Add eggs one at time, scraping down sides of bowl when needed.
  • Mix in vanilla.
  • Add in flour mixture, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour, until all ingredients are combined into one smooth batter
  • In the now empty bowl that was used to whisk flour, mix cocoa powder with the 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp of boiling water and stir until smooth. Add 1/3 of the cake batter to this and combine well.
  • Alternate and scoop the batters in a checkerboard pattern, in two layers- chocolate-vanilla-chocolate. Place brown over yellow, yellow over brown when doing second layer.
  • Swirl  the batters with a skewer/knife in zigzags and figure eights for a pretty marbled effect. 
  • Bake 40- 60 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Leave in pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto wire rack to let cool.
  • You can leave plain, frost with buttercream, ganache , fancy the whole show up. Your choice. It's all good.
  • If you use salted butter, like I do, omit the salt in cake ingredients.
  • For the half dome part of the soccer ball cake, I scooped one batter into the other(brown into yellow). 
In a checkerboard pattern, alternate batters in two layers. Swirl these using a skewer or knife.
Swirl it pretty and let it shine.
I should say it's extremely difficult to get this wrong. Any which way your wrist turns, you create cake art.

Marshmallow fondant~
  • ¼ c unsalted butter, softened or as much needed
  • 16 ounces/1 pound white mini-marshmallows
  • 2 to 5 tablespoons water
  • 2 pounds icing or powdered sugar
  • Have softened butter ready in a widemouthed bowl (for your hands to easily reach )and keep aside.
  • Place the marshmallows and two tbsp of the water in a very large greased microwave-safe bowl, and microwave on high for 30 seconds and melt the marshmallows. Continue at 30 second intervals, stirring between each 30 seconds, until marshmallows are melted, gooey and completely smooth. 
  • In the bowl itself, place 1/2 of the  confectioners' sugar on top of the marshmallow mixture(if your bowl is not big enough, all of this can be done on the countertop). Using a well greased wooden label or greased hands, mix this until roughly combined. Mixture will be very stiff.
  • Rub your hands thoroughly, in between fingers, backs of hands, with butter mixture, and turn out marshmallow dough onto counter dusted liberally with powdered sugar.  Place more sugar on top of this sticky mixture, one cup at time and begin kneading the dough. As you knead, the dough will become workable and pliable. If it does dry and tear, add water-teaspoon at at time- until smooth. 
  • Add confectioner's sugar by cupfuls to the mixture as needed. You may not need all the sugar. Continue kneading until the fondant is smooth and no longer sticky to the touch, 5 to 10 minutes. 
  • Form the fondant into a ball, coat it with a light film of butter mixture and wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place/seal in Ziplock bag squeezing out all air. Refrigerate overnight. 
  • When ready to use, allow the fondant to come to room temperature ( if really hard, microwave at 60% power for a few 30 second intervals until soft) and roll it out onto a flat surface lightly greased with butter/shortening or dusted with cornstarch, sometimes both. I like to coat my work surface with only butter, but if gets "slippery" I add a few sprinkles of cornstarch.
Coloring fondant~
  • You can separate and color the fondant before it goes into the refrigerator, though sometimes the colors get denser as they sit. I prefer to color as and when I need to use it. Bring to room temperature and knead in a little coloring at a time, using a toothpick. If you're using different colors, wash hands thoroughly between or use food grade gloves  as colors will transfer from hands.Wilton gel food colors and Amerigel are the ideal choices when coloring fondant, though with smaller pieces of dough, I've used the liquid drops too- dough consistency may get sticky/soft with it so you have to be careful when/if using liquid coloring.
Additional notes~
  • You could sub all shortening for the butter. I like the flavor of the butter in the fondant- makes it enjoyably edible.
  • If your fondant feels too dry, rub it with some butter/ shortening to make it pliable. If it feels too wet/sticky, add more powdered sugar and knead it a bit more.
  • It's best to let MMF sit, double wrapped, overnight. There have been instances where I've used sans any refrigeration, though it's not advised ;-) If you need to take it out early, see if there are visible sugar specks. If so, knead it through.
  • MMFondant keeps well when stored double wrapped and sealed in an airtight Ziploc or airtight container, upto 2 months. May keep longer in the refrigerator, though you'd have to worry about odors of other foods /drying out if you had it in that long.
The inside reveal was the best part. The 9x13 base cake was Nigella Lawson's Fudge cake from the FN archives. I spritzed the cakes with some simple syrup before frosting and covering to keep them moist.
Wilton's ball pan makes the whole process of making a ball cake quite easy, complete with templates for your soccer ball's hexagons and pentagons, that can be further traced onto cardstock,then laminated. A good covering of buttercream prepares the base for both cakes to be fondant adhered.Like I said YouTube is a veritable university on how to cover cakes with fondant, shapes, etc. So it would be worth your while to check it out.  I made/needed two batches of the marshmallow fondant recipe, prepared the day in advance and pieced and colored accordingly with Wilton gel colors. The black fondant, however, was store bought- way too much work/mess to color fondant black. The "grass" was vanilla buttercream, colored and piped with Wilton's tip #233.
" 'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future'." Jeremiah  29:11
Much gratitude and thanks to all my faithful readers, supporters, followers and FB page likers-makes blogging goodeats all the more enjoyable.
 I'd however, like to address another issue, one that bothers me to no end, the increasing problem of others lifting (stealing) BFMK photographs/content and passing them off as their own, be it on individual blogs, microblogs, social media, websites. A lot of work goes into all this, from recipe selection/ cooking/ photographing/editing and constructing the posts. Although it's my pleasure and passion to maintain this site, it truly discourages when my images are snagged and pasted elsewhere as another's.
So what I am I getting to? When you need to borrow an image/photograph or post one that appears on my pages, please ask. I promise I won't bite. Further, play fair with attribution- do give credit. I've actually seen pictures with my entire recipe/ notes pasted straight up and no acknowledgement given. But then there are the several positive instances, ones I mention each chance I get, where websites link back and name source. To those, thanks for playing fair. I am grateful.
Through comments below, do ask before taking. Attribute it, with a shoutout/ mention/courtesy link back to my page. Remember... credit where credit is due. I appreciate. God bless.