Friday, October 31, 2008

Pumpkin Congee with Pumpkin "Beignets" and Sesame-Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Even though we are pressed for time, and on unfamiliar ground ingredient-wise, we are again dismissing submitting our niece's "squashed" food for this event. (We dismissed submitting it as our Joust entry.)

This event, of course, is Weekend Wokking.
This month's ingredient: pumpkin.

Although, I must say that what we're submitting is not too far off -- hee! But bear with us, our Weekend Wokking entry is really much more sophisticated than our niece's boiled and mashed squash.

I think.

We present to you our Pumpkin Congee with Pumpkin "Beignets" and Sesame-Roasted Pumpkin Seeds.

We do not usually make congee (sometimes called "rice soup" or rice porridge) at home, getting congee instead from kind neighbours and friends. Once in a blue moon, we'll make our Yaya's version of arroz caldo, a delicious concoction of chicken, vegetables and rice in a congee incarnation. One of these days, we'll whip up a potful of it.

Our entry, however, is inspired by the congee we get outside the home. We were debating whether to do a "breakfast" congee take or a "late night" congee take with our pumpkin. The congee for both versions stay the same, but the accompaniments differ.

Given the time constraint, we decided to go the breakfast route.

Pumpkin Congee

So let's make pumpkin congee. Actually, as evidenced in the photograph below, we used kabocha pumpkin and a small sugar pie pumpkin. (I put a piece of unpeeled kabocha in the pot for illustration purposes.)

Of course, as you know, we love these dump-everything-into-a-pot dishes. So that's what I did. In the pot went rice, diced kabocha and pumpkin, a couple of ginger pieces (which I didn't bother slicing) and a couple of pieces of dried scallops (on the right). Not pictured is the water.

I brought the mixture to a boil, then lowered the heat and covered. Easy, right?

We let it cook for perhaps about 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Near the end, I was afraid that the rice in the congee looked very distinct and separate, so I mashed the rice against the side of the pot a few times. I think letting cook for even longer would result in "creamier" congee.

In the meantime, we got to work on the "breakfast" accompaniments.

Pumpkin "Beignets"

We actually thought of our Weekend Wokking entry before our Joust entry, so coming up with churros for our Joust entry was actually our way of using up our squash/pumpkin-flavored donut dough.

Chinese donuts -- you tiao -- are a traditional accompaniment to congee. Of course, I know that using choux paste isn't close to the traditional you tiao recipe, but hey, time constraints, remember? ;) Since we weren't using the conventional dough, I also couldn't make that distinctive you tiao shape. (Watch a video here.)

Hence, "pumpkin beignets" they must be called.

I made a choux paste dough flavored with squash/pumpkin purée. (For method, click here. For recipe, click here.) This time, I cut off a larger hole in my Ziploc bag-cum-pastry bag. Um, as you can see, the resulting shape isn't that attractive.

No matter. We would be cutting these up anyway. =)

Sesame-Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Instead of the usual peanut accompaniment, we decided to go with toasted pumpkin seeds for crunch.

We simple drizzled a little of sesame oil onto the raw pumpkin seeds, then tossed it with salt. Into the (toaster) oven they went for a little bit, and they were ready.

To complete our breakfast congee, we decided to have more accompaniments. Some sliced century eggs (preserved duck eggs), some pork floss, and we have our very pumpkin breakfast.

Pork floss is the best! =D

Clockwise from top: pumpkin beignet, century egg, pork floss.

We were halfway through the pot of congee when I realized that I forgot to add the pumpkin seeds! I had to act quickly before all the congee was gone. I made another bowl with the pumpkin seeds this time (for photo purposes).

We really liked this! I've never had pumpkin congee before, although this idea came from our father reminiscing about congee with sweet potato.

Wow, congee with sweet potato, you say? Mmm.

(Please see recipe below for suggested accompaniments.)

eatingclub vancouver Weekend Wokking posts:
Ravioli "Caprese": Tomato, Basil, Bocconcini
Eggplant "Clafouti"
Pumpkin Congee w/ Pumpkin "Beignets" & Sesame-Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Chicken, Broccoli and Cheese w/ Pipián Verde
Adobo Mushroom Tart
Duck and Orange Crêpes with Orange-White Wine Sauce
Almond Eggplant "Bisteeya" (Bastilla)
"Mashed Potato Beef Burger" (Red-skinned Potato Salad in Taiwanese Sacha Cheeseburger)
Korean Soybean Sprouts Pancake (Kongnamul Jeon)
Lemon Chamomile Tiramisu
Cilantro Horchata
Strawberry Cilantro Salsa, on Grilled Flank Steak
Duck Enchiladas with Chipotle Peanut Salsa
Clear Oxtail Soup with Corn, Cabbage and Potatoes
Beijing Pickled Cabbage
Salsa Romesco ("Queen of the Catalan Sauces!")
Aguadito de Pollo (Peruvian Chicken Soup)
Bangus Belly à la Bistek (Milkfish Belly with Onions, Calamansi and Soy Sauce)
White Pork with Garlic Sauce, Two Ways (蒜泥白肉)
Mr. Zheng's Soupy Tomatoes and Eggs with Tofu (蕃茄雞蛋跟豆腐)
Steamed Fish and Tofu with Chinese Black Beans
Spinach and Cheese with Puff Pastry, Three Ways


Pumpkin/Squash Congee
Makes 4 servings

1/2 cup rice
1 1/2 cup fresh pumpkin (or fall squash), in small dice
6 cups water
2 pieces ginger (approximately 2-inch pieces)
1-2 pieces dried scallops
salt to taste

Place all ingredients in a pot. Bring to a boil, then cover and let it simmer for about 2 hours. Discard ginger pieces before serving, if desired.

This is akin to plain congee, so it should be served with various accompaniments such as you tiao (Chinese donut), pork floss, century egg, salted duck egg, peanuts, preserved turnips, bamboo shoots, preserved chili radish.

Or, one can serve this with such dishes as clams in black bean sauce, oyster omelette, any "spicy salt deep-fried" items, or any aggressively-flavored dish.

Wikipedia reference guides
Congee: Chinese
Congee: Filipino
You Tiao (Chinese Donut)
Century Egg (Preserved Duck Egg)
Pork Floss

Chow Times Pork Floss recipe
This is the only time I've seen anybody make pork floss.

We're submitting this recipe to Weekend Wokking, a world-wide food blogging event created by Wandering Chopsticks celebrating the multiple ways we can cook one ingredient.

The host this month is Ning of Heart and Hearth

If you would like to participate or to see the secret ingredient, check
who's hosting next month.

Check out
all Weekend Wokking Roundups.

We're submitting this to Culinarty's Original Recipes.

More information here.
The Round-ups here.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Squash Churros with Orange-Sage Hot Chocolate

Why are we scrambling again this time of month?

Oh yeah, we lost a big chunk of the month and had been abducted by unidentified boxes.

TS and I discussed whether or not we should even enter something for this month's Joust, given our recent stresses. Of course, the option of not participating was quickly thrown out and just as quickly dismissed.

Yes, we can do the Joust this month.

I am an eternal optimist.

Even with the moving? For sure.
Even with the limited time left from now till the end of the month? Why not?
Even with unfamiliar ingredients?

How unfamiliar are they?

We don't really work with squash a whole lot. For some reason, we don't cook with squashes regularly, but only on rare occasions; very, very rare.

Well, scratch that and modify it: until recently, we didn't work with squash. There is one person who eats a lot of squash in our household and that is our 8-month old niece. CSC boils/steams and mashes up different types of squashes and that is what our niece been having for the past month, added to broths and rice and such.

We contemplated entering our niece's boiled squash, with candied orange and fried sage leaves, as our Joust entry. ;)

Well, thank goodness we came to our senses. I think you'll find our real entry is much better than baby food.

[ts]With each Joust, there is always the choice to go the savory or sweet route. Seeing that the earlier entries for this edition seemed to lean towards the savory, we decided to go the opposite direction. (Of course, that is now moot as there have been delicious sweet entries since we last checked.)

Squash Churro

Let's tackle the squash portion of the challenge first, since that is the unfamiliar for us.

We decided to make churros (Spanish "donuts"). Actually, I confess, I'm not sure whether this is even close to the traditional recipe. Basically, I made choux pastry with some added puréed squash.

(The pictures were supposed to be step-by-step, but we were busy doing all sorts of things in the kitchen at the same time that it didn't happen.)

The beginning and the finish of our choux pastry

On the left, that's butter, milk, water, puréed squash, sugar and salt warming up, waiting to boil. When it boiled, I dumped the flour and stirred until it came together. I kept stirring until the mixture had "dried" and cooled somewhat. Then, I added one egg at a time, stirring and waiting for each egg to be incorporated into the dough before adding the next.

It was a lot of stirring! I would usually do this with the Kitchen-Aid, but the thought of extra washing deterred me. The stirring wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. =)

On the right is the finished squash choux paste in a Ziploc bag. I actually found a starred tip somewhere in the kitchen. (That pumpkin in the background is for our Weekend Wokking entry.)

To the fryer!

After heating up some oil, it was time to fry. I made a few test ones to check the oil temperature. I couldn't squeeze out the dough with just one hand (the tip was small), so there was no way for me to use my other hand to "cut off" the dough. Hence, the squiggly worm-like shapes you see with curliques at the end.

They're cute that way. =) For extra deliciousness, we coated the churros with some cinnamon sugar.

This looks like a combination of the treble and bass clefs to me.

Look at the fabulous hollow center!

Orange-Sage Hot Chocolate

The hot chocolate portion was easy as easy can be.

I simply heated some milk, adding big strips of orange zest and a couple of sage leaves. When the milk was hot, I whisked in some sugar (not too much) and broken pieces of dark chocolate. I wanted the chocolate to be a tad richer and thicker for dipping purposes, and not too sweet.

Now, the best part: dunk!

The best part was not the dunking -- it was the EATING!

These were delicious and I'm wishing I had more of these churros right now to munch on as I'm writing. The cinnamon sugar and the woodsy background the sage leaves added to the hot chocolate really highlighted the squashiness of the churros. The squash churros had heft, definitely had a lot more body than regular churros. It paired perfectly with the rich, dark chocolate fragrant with orange and sage.

[update: We actually won! Wow. Thanks!!]


Squash Churros
Makes... not-enough!

This is the choux paste list of ingredients from Joy of Cooking. My changes are indicated in italics and in black.

Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk

Instead of the above, my liquid ingredients were:
1/4 cup squash purée
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup milk

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut in small pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar (I added some sugar in addition to the salt.)
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
(Method paraphrased)In a sauce pan, combine squash purée, water, milk, butter, salt and sugar. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the flour all at once and stir with a wooden spoon. Stir until the mixture becomes dough-like and pills away from the sides of the pan.

Continue to cook and stiry for about 1 minute to eliminate excess moisture. Remove from heat and set aside for about 5 minutes to cool, stirring occasionally.

Beat in one egg at a time with a wooden spoon. Wait until the egg is fully incorporated into the dough before adding the next egg. Beat until the dough is smooth and shiny. Transfer into a pastry bag with a star tip.

In a pan, add about 1-2 inches of oil. Heat on medium. You may need to test the heat of the oil. The churros should puff up immediately but not brown too quickly. Squeeze choux paste (into desired length) into the hot oil. When it's golden-brown on the bottom side, flip until the other side is golden-brown. Remove from the oil and drain. Do not overcrowd the pan. Make 4-6 churros at a time.

If desired, put some sugar on a plate and add a pinch of cinnamon. Dust churros in cinnamon sugar.

Orange-Sage Hot Chocolate
Makes 4-6 servings

2 cups milk
slices of zest from 1 orange
1-2 sage leaves
1/4 cup sugar
175 grams dark chocolate (70%), broken in pieces
(I used 5 bars of Lindt 70% chocolate, 35g per bar.)

In a small pan, add milk, orange zest and sage leaves. Heat on low.

When the milk is hot (do not boil), whisk in the sugar and dark chocolate pieces. Continue heating until the chocolate is completely melted and the hot chocolate mixture is rich and smooth.

Discard orange zest slices and sage leaves.

To enjoy
Dip Squash Churros into Orange-Zest Hot Chocolate.

This is our entry to the Royal Food Joust (created by The Leftover Queen).

[eatingclub] vancouver Royal Food Joust posts:
Dimsum Seafood Trio: Black Pearl Toast, Scallop in Nest, Jewelled Rice Cup
Cream of Fennel Soup with Parsey Oil
Ginger-Guava Jam
Lime-Marinated Pork Skewers with Ginger-Guava Jam and Five-Grain Rice
Soy Pudding Parfait with Orange-Ginger Syrup and "Streusel" Brittle
Squash Churros with Orange-Sage Hot Chocolate
Coffee Pancakes with Honey Ricotta and Black Pepper & Coffee-Crusted Bacon
Caribbean "Fish & (Banana) Chips"
Steelhead Trout and Enoki Mushrooms with Wasabi Cream Sauce

eatingclub vancouver Beverages, a selection
Matcha Latte (Japanese Green Tea Latte), Hot and Iced
Caffè Latte with Almond Milk
Cilantro Horchata
Salabat (Ginger Tea)
Turkish Çay (Turkish Tea)
Squash Churros with Orange-Sage Hot Chocolate
Avocado Shake

We're submitting this to Culinarty's Original Recipes.

More information here.
The Round-ups here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Stuffed Savoy Cabbage with Pork

Pork Cabbage Brain!

Everytime I see beautiful savoy cabbages at the market, I couldn't help buying a head. What cracked me up this particular time was how much the heads looked like a human brain, complete with the folds and the veining.

Too bad we didn't get a shot of the actual savoy cabbage head to show how brain-like it really is. Shallow as I am, I couldn't help laughing at the market while looking at the cabbage. I kept repeating this phrase to myself, "This is your brain on cabbages," remembering the TV anti-drug ad, telling us that doing drugs is similar to frying your brain. Like eggs. Or is the moral of that ad that people on drugs have eggs for brains? I suppose it can work both ways.

I even doubled up in laughter right there on the floor that people were starting to look at me.

A while back, in her "Stuffed!" episode of French Food at Home, we saw Laura Calder layering savoy cabbage leaves with a pork filling, forming that into a ball, and steaming it. I was quite taken with it and thought it was a very Chinese application.

So, after seeing that JS couldn't resist buying savoy cabbages because she thought they looked like brains and seeing that CSC had once again filled the fridge with her potsticker filling, I decided to make our own stuffed savoy.

We started by blanching the savoy leaves. Then, on a clean cloth or towel, I layered the biggest leaves first. The pork filling went on next, followed by more savoy leaves, and so on. To be able to form a sphere, each ascending layer has to be smaller in area than the previous.

like a pyramid

Then I covered the whole thing with more savoy leaves, like so:

To form the sphere, I gathered all sides of the cloth and twisted. Then, I turned it upside-down.

OK, maybe it's just us, but I found this cloth-wrapped sphere really adorable and couldn't help giggling all this while... and dare I say, also playfully slapping it from time to time. Teehee.

Look, it's so cute, all spherical like that!

We had this set-up ready for steaming, so above the boiling water our little savoy piggy brain went. We didn't really know how long to steam it for. I think that our pork filling may have been about two pounds. We played it safe and steamed it for a long while, thinking that the pork will have a harder time overcooking in such a moist environment. After 45 minutes, we decided that there was no way it wasn't done.

And so we unveiled it.

How would that ad go now?
"This is your brain on potstickers."

For our Pork Cabbage Brain, I made my standard potsticker dipping sauce of soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic and water. (The water is important.) I poured some over the brain and also served more during the meal.

This was delicious.

Our savoy was very pale (Laura Calder's was dark green) and the pork may be a tad pink even when it's fully-cooked, but this was incredible. The combination of cabbage and potsticker filling (and dipping sauce) was phenomenal.

Next time, we would use more cabbage in between the pork layers. We didn't really think of this as a pork dish, but rather a vegetable dish. Everybody commented (complained?) that there wasn't enough savoy. That's a first, people complaining that there aren't enough vegetables.

Our Laura Calder & Laura Calder-inspired posts
Piedmont Marinated Eggs
Stuffed Savoy Cabbage with Pork
Pain Perdu (French Toast) with Sautéed Cherries
Hazelnut Roll

Stuffed recipes:
Mediterranean Stuffed Leg of Lamb
Stuffed Peppers (Lamb and Rice)
Stuffed Squid (braised in tomato sauce)
Faux=stuffed Basa Fillets with Olives, Tomatoes, Lemons and Oranges
Stuffed Giant Squid, Two Ways
Stuffed Savoy Cabbage with Pork

Pork filling recipe can be found here:
Shanghai Potstickers, Faux Siu Mai and "Huo Tyeh" (aka CSC's Chinese Dumplings)

Pork filling usage:
Stuffed Giant Squid, Two Ways
Torta with Pork and Kecap Manis
Stuffed Savoy Cabbage with Pork

Stuffed Savoy inspiration:
Laura Calder's Stuffed Cabbage

We're submitting this post to Weekend Herb Blogging, a world-wide food blogging event (created by Kalyn's Kitchen, now maintained by Haalo of Cook (almost) Anything at Least Once) with the goal of helping each other learn about cooking with herbs and plant ingredients.

If you'd like to participate, see
who's hosting next week. WHB is hosted this week by Kalyn herself!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Torta with Pork and Kecap Manis

This is another example of another great way to use CSC's potsticker filling. With its porky, green onion-y and sesame-y goodness, it's easy to whip up a Chinese or Asian-eque dish!

In this instance, it helped me make a quickie version of torta, an "omelette" with ground pork, soy sauce, sesame oil and green onions.

I cracked and beat some eggs and added some of the potsticker filling. The mixture should be more eggy than meaty. Usually, we make them in small rounds like pancakes. They're even cooked like pancakes: pour batter, wait for the bottom to set up and flip. This time, I tried making one big torta. "Try" is the keyword. It broke when I tried to flip it. Oh well.

Traditionally, we eat our torta with ketchup, that being America's legacy in the Philippines. (SPAM being another. Teehee.)

This time, I drizzled some kecap manis (sweet soy sauce) on top. Does that make this an Indonesian torta now? =)

Pork filling recipe can be found here:
Shanghai Potstickers, Faux Siu Mai and "Huo Tyeh" (aka CSC's Chinese Dumplings)

Pork filling usage:
Stuffed Giant Squid, Two Ways
Torta with Pork and Kecap Manis
Stuffed Savoy Cabbage with Pork

eatingclub vancouver Torta (Omelette)
Golden Egg Torta
Oyster Torta
Torta with Pork and Kecap Manis
Tortilla de Patatas (Spanish "Omelette")
Golden Shrimp Torta (Philippine Shrimp Omelette)

Some eggy eatingclub dishes
Tarragon-Carrot Deviled Eggs
Golden Egg Torta
Hunanese Stir-fried Eggs with Green Peppers
Tortilla de Patatas (Spanish "Omelette")
Piedmont Marinated Eggs
Asparagus and Crab Egg Crêpes
Stir-fried Egg and Tomato
Oyster Torta
Torta with Pork and Kecap Manis
Curried (Easter) Egg Salad
Taiwanese Stewed Eggs (滷蛋) with Stewed Minced Pork (魯肉 or 肉燥)
Longsilog (Longganisa + Sinangag + Itlog)
Torta (Mexican Sandwich)
Mr. Zheng's Soupy Tomatoes and Eggs with Tofu
Nasi Lemak (Malaysian Coconut Rice Meal with Sambal)
Home-style Chinese Steamed Egg with Pork
Golden Shrimp Torta (Philippine Shrimp Omelette)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Artisan Deli-Style Rye Bread

One of the things I've gotten into, or was just getting into, before our move was breadbaking.

I've tried doing foccacia breads, plain or with toppings, and I've been wanting to stretch my breadbaking muscles to make other breads.

left: plain foccacia; right: potato cornmeal foccacia

The problem -- or so I have analyzed it -- why I couldn't seem to do any other breads is the time and scheduling factor. Can't quite get the hang of it, the starting, the kneading, the rising, the waiting, the baking, the waiting, the more waiting, the cooling, the eating.

With foccacia, I know that I have to start it approximately 2 hours before I want to eat it. With the challah, that was a quick one-off, almost a throw-away bake, because I really did not expect to be eating it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. In other words, there was no pressure. It was done one Sunday morning when I had some time to kill and it was more a trial than anything else. The eating was just a bonus.

I can't really keep baking breads that I don't expect to eat. Or expect anybody else to eat. It would be too wasteful for my frugal soul. With breads I want to eat and want to serve, time becomes a big issue. Breads would have to be available at a reasonable time, for meal appearances. Being in and out all day, every day, I don't really know how I can schedule my breadbaking.

I have been hearing about Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Five minutes a day, you say? Okay then, I figured I'd try that. I bought the book and started choosing breads I wanted to make.

I chose what the authors call their Deli-Style Rye. I don't think I've ever had bread with caraway seeds before, so I was excited to try this one. Plus, I keep thinking of the fantastic sandwiches I can make on this rye.

I think this first rye bread was a fluke. Here it is again in all its glory.

I didn't expect to like it as much as I do. In fact, I had it for lunch three consecutive days. Slightly toasted, with a dab of butter. The flavour was awesome, the caraway seeds adding a refreshing, almost minty taste and fragrance that plays so well with the butter.

After this first successful rye loaf, I've had problems. There's a whole slew of problems that I haven't yet found the cause for nor the solution to -- and I've been reading up on breadbaking, trying to figure things out, to no avail.

(1) Overly crusty: there are breads that seem to be all crust. Why?

(2) Refrigerated dough: sometimes there is a strong smell of alcohol. I had to throw out a brioche dough because it was too overly alcohol-y.

(3) Finished product does not seem to be bigger than the dough I started with. It stays almost the same size, just becoming 20% to 30% bigger.

I haven't done any breadbaking in the new house as yet. There's just too much that needs to be done around the house that breadbaking would have to take a backseat for now. I hope to get back to it in around a week's time. In the meantime, for all you breadbakers out there, if you have any tips and techniques, please help.

Breads we've done from the book:
Artisan Deli-Style Rye Bread
Swedish Limpa Bread
European Peasant Loaf
Olive Oil Bread with Onions and Olives

Other breads we've made before:
No-Knead Bread, Two Kinds
Sesame Seed Buns
Potato Cornmeal Foccacia
Whole Wheat Challah

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