Monday, May 23, 2016

Banh Xeo (Asian Sizzling Crepes)

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These savory, sizzling crepes are a real crowd-pleaser in the summertime. They are light, crispy, and packed with so much flavor! You may use whatever filling combination you'd like! Some favorites are ground chicken, and pork belly. You are also free to add as much or as little crepe batter when you're frying these up. If you'd like a thicker crepe, simply add a bit more crepe batter into the pan while swirling it around in the hot pan. The thicker the batter, the longer it will take to make them crispy. For EXTRA crispiness, after you've added in your ground pork and blanched bean sprouts, turn your heat down to low, cover with a lid, and continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes (or until crunchy), remove lid, and continue with flipping your crepe over as instructed.

INGREDIENTS:

10 ounces of rice flour

2 ounces of corn starch

1 teaspoon of tumeric

1 tsp of salt

yellow food coloring

1 Tablespoon of olive oil (may sub for vegetable oil)

1 (14 ounce) can of coconut cream

3 1/2 cups of club soda

FOR THE FILLING:

2 pounds of ground pork

4 cloves of chopped garlic

4 Tablespoons of water

1 Tablespoon of oyster sauce

1/2 Tablespoon of fish sauce

1/4 tsp of sugar

lots of black pepper

msg (optional)

YOU WILL ALSO NEED:

bean sprouts (I use about half of a large bag of beansprouts for this whole recipe)

1 whole onion, sliced

1 1/2 pound of cooked shrimp meat (I like to buy them fresh from the seafood counter)

GARNISHES:

one head of lettuce

assortment of mints

cilantro

basil

Thai chili peppers

FOR THE SWEET AND SOUR DIPPING SAUCE:

1/2 cup of sugar dissolved in 3/4 cup of very hot water

1/4 cup of good fish sauce ( I like the Three Crabs Brand)

3-4 Tablespoons of vinegar

crushed roasted peanuts (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Into a large mixing bowl, add in your rice flour, cornstarch, tumeric, salt, oil, food coloring, coconut cream, and club soda. Mix well using a wire whisk. Cover tightly with saran wrap, and allow to rest in the refrigerator overnight, or for at least 4 hours before using.

2. Soak your veggies in some cold water, and clean them VERY WELL. Drain, pat them completely dry (or a salad spinner works wonders!), and place them on a large platter. You may choose to cut up your lettuce into thin strips, but I would leave everything else whole.

3. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add in your bean sprouts, and cook for about 2-3 minutes, or until just softened. Drain, and run some cold water through the bean sprouts to prevent them from over cooking. Set aside.

4. Into a large skillet on medium-high heat, drizzle in some oil. Add in your chopped garlic and cook until fragrant. Add in your ground pork and cook until no longer pink. Drain, and using a paper towel, wipe off any excess oil from the skillet. Add your ground pork back into your skillet, and add in your water, oyster sauce, fish sauce, sugar, lots of black pepper, and msg (if using). Taste check for seasoning. (You don't want it overly salty, just not bland either) Place your seasoned ground pork into a large dish until ready to use.

Get your work station ready! Make sure you have everything around you, next to your stovetop, ready to use: sliced onions? Check. Shrimp? Check. Blanched bean sprouts? Check. Seasoned ground pork? Check.

5. (Make sure you mix your crepe batter well before you begin. The rice flour and cornstarch will have settled on the bottom of the bowl, and this is normal. ALWAYS give it a good stir if it's been sitting, undisturbed, for a while.) Into a non-stick skillet on medium-high heat (make sure pan is HOT), drizzle in a bit of oil. Add in a few slices of onions and cooked shrimp. When onion and shrimp start to brown, add in a thin layer of batter. In my pan, I use about 1/4 cup of batter each time (how much batter you pour in depends on the size of your pan, and how thin/thick you like your crepes). Quickly, using your wrists, swirl your batter all around the pan until it's evenly distributed. When the outer edges of the crepe begin to crisp up or pull away from the pan, add in a handful of ground pork, and some bean sprouts. (I don't like to overfill my crepes, but to each their own. :)) Continue to cook until desired crispiness. When ready, flip over one side of the crepe to cover your filling, remove from pan, and serve immediately!

NOTES:


*This recipe makes a lot of crepes. Scale down the recipe by half if you wish.

*Crepe batter sits well in the fridge for up to three days. Stir well, after you take it out of the fridge and always allow it to come to room temp (at least 30 min) before using.

*A good non-stick pan is key! If your pan sucks, your crepes will suck. THE END.

*FOR EXTRA CRISPINESS: after you've added in your fillings onto the crepe, cover the pan with a lid, turn down heat to LOW, and cook for another 2-3 minutes, or until desired crispiness.

*If you are making a lot of crepes at once, make sure you separate each crepe with some foil to prevent them from sticking to each other. I usually serve two at a time for each plate, and then place the rest of the crepes on a large platter, separating each one with some foil.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Homemade Breadsticks

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I have a confession to make: I'm a known "carbaholic." I love all things bread, and homemade bread (or should I say, breadsticks), is definitely the way to my heart. These breadsticks are the perfect mate to your favorite pasta dish. And guess what?! They are soft, chewy, and are practically fool-proof. Not to mention...kids really enjoy shaping out the breadsticks; It's a great way to get the kids involved in the kitchen!

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup of warm water

2 tsp of active dry yeast

2 Tablespoons of sugar

2 1/2 cups of all propose flour

1 Tablespoon of vital wheat gluten

2 Tablespoons of olive oil

1 tsp plus 1/4 tsp of salt

YOU WILL ALSO NEED:

melted coconut oil (may sub for butter)

garlic powder

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Sprinkle the yeast into your warm water. Stir. Add in your sugar. Stir, again. Set this mixture aside and allow the yeast to "bloom" or become foamy (about 5 minutes). Meanwhile, prepare your dry ingredients.

2. Into a large mixing bowl, add in your flour and vital wheat gluten. Mix well.

3. Once your yeast and water mixture has become foamy, add that into your dry ingredients along with 2 Tablespoons of olive oil. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, mix for about 30 seconds and then add in your salt. Mix for 1 minute more.

4. Place your dough onto a lightly floured surface, and quickly knead your dough for 2-3 minutes until it forms a nice, smooth ball. Use additional flour as needed but overall, dough should remain slightly tacky.

5. Place dough into a well oiled mixing bowl, cover with kitchen towel, and place in a warm, draft-free place until it has doubled in size (about an hour).

6. Place your dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently deflate it by giving it a few light punches or simply using the fold-over method a few times.

7. Roll out the dough into a 24-inch long log. Cut into 12 equal sized pieces and gently roll out each piece of dough into 8-inch long breadsticks.

8. Place formed breadsticks, 1-inch apart, onto a large baking sheet fitted with some parchment paper. Cover with kitchen towel and allow them to rise until doubled in size (about 45 minutes to an hour).

PREHEAT OVEN TO 375 DEGREES F.

9. Carefully brush the tops of the breadsticks with some melted coconut oil and then with some garlic powder. Bake for 15 minutes, or until breadsticks turn slightly golden brown. Serve immediately!

NOTES:

-These taste best eaten same day.

-May reheat in microwave for 10 seconds a piece.

-Add 3 Tablespoons of Bakers Special Dry milk to your dry mix if you have it! Otherwise, follow directions as written.

-Do not rush bread making! Make sure dough has properly risen before moving onto next step.

-There is such a thing as "over-proofing." In other words, don't let your dough rise for too long or it will result in heavy, brick-hard breadsticks.

-If it's a warm day, your bread may rise faster. Check your dough after 30 minutes to ensure you don't over-proof. If it's cold, it may take you longer than an hour for your dough to rise.

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