Thursday, July 31, 2008

Naan

Yep, finally. I've been trying to make these for forever, but I never managed to get up early enough on a weekend to get it done in time for lunch.

Naan is a type of Indian flatbread that is made from a yeast dough. One of my favorites! And after looking at the recipe and realizing it wasn't so hard after all, I decided to make my own.

The yeast, sitting in warm water:


To that, you add a little milk, bread flour, a little sugar, salt, and an egg. After kneading that mixture for a bit, you come out with a dough ball that looks like this:


(Told you it's easy.) Cover the dough ball and let it rise in a warm place for an hour. Then knead it a bit again, and pull off pieces of the dough and roll them into small balls (about the size of a golf ball).


Let those rise for another half hour (covered). Then, take the balls and roll them out into thin disks:


While you're rolling out the dough balls, get the grill (or frying pan or whatever) going. Also melt down about 1/4 cup of butter. (No worries, you won't need it all unless you like your naan kinda greasy. Some people do.)

Oil down the pan and toss on your first naan. You should see the bubbles coming up on the top side as it cooks. Like so:


Once the bubbles start going, you're probably ready to flip. So brush some melted butter on the top side, and then flip away.


The only sad thing is that the bottom ends up looking like a flapjack, but what can you do?

The top looks perfect, though. And they were great! Nice and chewy, and they're GREAT when they're hot.


Serve with your favorite curry! I also happen to enjoy them with a good thick chili, too.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Woo Lae Oak - green tea ice cream

I recently went with Grace to Woo Lae Oak, my favorite Korean restaurant in the DC area. Oh my goooodddd, I love their dolsot bibimbap. :)

Anyway! For dessert, we ordered green tea ice cream. One of my favorite ice cream flavors! It was the first time we ordered it from this particular restaurant, and I don't know if it was the lighting or what, but it looked beautiful. So beautiful that I was compelled to take a picture, even though I am not normally a person who takes pictures of her food at restaurants.


Yeah, it was the lighting. Had to be.

It was great! Nice and soft. In some restaurants, it's icy and as hard as a rock, and you can tell that it's been sitting in the freezer for forever. But not this one! Just as tasty as it looked.

Curious about how to make it, you say? Well, I don't have an ice cream maker, so I can't provide you a practical example, but I found this recipe, which seems pretty on the money.

Cherries (an ode)

Sometimes I get in these moods where I just want to eat and eat and eat a particular thing until I get sick of it (or burst, whichever comes first). Then I don't want to eat that thing again for... months. Luckily, it's usually something healthy -- although I did have a time where I could NOT get enough of those White Cheddar Natural Cheetos...

And luckily, this time, I am in the mood for something both healthy and in season! (Well... the season is ending for them now. Booo.) Folks, I'm talking cherries.

Look at these beautiful Bing cherries I got on sale today ($2.50/lb! not bad):


They're just... fun to eat. They're like peanuts, but sweet. And unlike peanuts, you can eat a lot of them without getting a funny greasy taste in your mouth. My analogy is terrible, but maybe you catch my meaning. Read all you like about cherries over here and here.

Did you know (according to Wikipedia), Bing cherries are named after a Chinese foreman who worked for the horticulturalist who developed the cultivar? Lucky for us the dude was nice enough to name it after his foreman. Otherwise they'd be called Lewelling cherries, and that's no fun at all.

You really don't want to know how many cherries I packed away this past week. Still not tired of them yet!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Mint Swirl brownies

Brownies are pretty easy to make, actually. You can find lots of good recipes on allrecipes.com to suit your brownie desires. Whether you like cakey, chewy, sticky sweet... I guarantee you they're all pretty decent recipes. Fight the temptation to use box mixes!

I think my recipe actually came from allrecipes, too -- and it's my favorite. It's nice and moist, but not sickeningly fudgy. (It also gets better after sitting overnight for some reason. Straight out of the oven, it's like chocolate cake, but as it cools and settles, it's a nice thick brownie.)

The wet and dry ingredients. (The cocoa powder is underneath the flour, so you can't see it, but it's there.)


All mixed together:


I whipped together a mint icing using milk, confectioner's sugar, and peppermint extract. I also added some drops of green food coloring in for posterity's sake.


I drizzled the mint icing over half the brownies, since my sister doesn't like mint brownies.


Then, after the brownies baked, I was sad to see that the swirls were not very noticeable. So I spread the rest of the mint mixture on top (like icing) while the brownies were still warm. If you spread it thinly, the top will dry and crackle. I don't know why it does, but I think they look prettier this way.


The green color didn't come out that great, so if you want them to be REALLY green, you need to make it a whole lot greener from the start.

But they tasted awesome. Like an Andes chocolate bar... in brownie form...


I cut them up and wrapped them in candy gift bags to distribute. :)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

PB&J cupcakes

Peanut butter cake with grape jelly buttercream and candy topping.

Sorry I haven't updated in so long! My internet has been down, and I've been running around so much lately that I haven't had a chance to sit down and update this thing, even though I've had pictures ready for ages.

So I wanted to make a cute cupcake for my friend Ana's birthday. It's no secret that her favorite colors are purple and pink, so I decided to make a cupcake that would match these colors. Fortunately, I've been wanting to try making a peanut butter and jelly cupcake for quite some time, so this was a great opportunity!

First off, I replaced about half of the butter in my normal cupcake recipe with peanut butter. And that's the only change I made, really.

The butters and sugar:


This is what the mix looks like after it's been beaten until "light and fluffy":


And this is what it looks like after the rest of the ingredients (flour, eggs, buttermilk, etc.) have been added. Doesn't it look delicious?! It smelled really good, too -- nice and nutty. I just kind of wanted to put my face in it, but I restrained myself.


While the cupcakes were baking, I made a grape jelly buttercream. The concord grape jelly actually made the mixture look kind of pink, so I used some purple color gel to make the color stand out more. The grape flavor didn't actually come through that well in the buttercream, so in hindsight I would recommend using something like grape fruit juice concentrate to get the real grape flavor.


I actually made mini-cupcakes, which I thought would be cute and easy to eat at a party. Mid-decorating:


I colored some fondant pink, and I used pink Skittles to decorate the mini-cupcakes. The color contrast doesn't actually stand up well under the camera flash, but you can still read it.


For comparison's sake, here is another batch of mini-cupcakes I made for my other friend, Sakisha, whose birthday we were also celebrating. (It's red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting. I've already made that cupcake before on this blog, so I didn't feel like I needed to go step-by-step on this one.) I colored some red fondant for the letters, and I used red Skittles. (Sakisha happens to like red.) This one shows up way better because of the white frosting.


And, finally, the PB&J cupcake, close up:


More posts to come soon!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Paper bag popcorn

Hey, so.... who knew you could make your own microwave popcorn without having to buy those expensive boxes that only give you 3 bags of popcorn?

The thought didn't even occur to me, but here's the article at wikiHow.

And! You can season it however you want! I'd think that some butter and Old Bay would make for some great popcorn. (Hey, I'm a Marylander -- Old Bay is in my blood.) I'm gonna try it once I buy some popcorn kernels.

Be careful, though -- watch out for the bag and popcorn burning.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Firecracker cupcakes

Layered blue velvet, white, and red velvet cake with vanilla buttercream icing and Pop Rocks candy.

Obviously, these were made for a 4th of July party. I got the idea for this cupcake based on a firecracker cupcake recipe I saw online -- mostly the Pop Rocks idea. I made my own cupcakes to better resemble those popsicles of the same name. The Pop Rocks candy on top is the "firecracker" bit.

I split my batter into three equal portions. I actually made the three batters individually, because it occurred to me that I didn't know how I could evenly split the batter apart after the thing had been mixed together, since I didn't know what the total volume would be. It took a little more work to do three separate, but at least then I knew I would have equal proportions of each color.

The blue velvet and red velvet batters each have a bit of cocoa powder and food color mixed in. The white batter is just a basic white cake recipe.


I then used my cookie scoop (a mini ice cream scoop), and layered in first the blue, then the white, then the red batter into each cupcake liner.

The cupcakes, ready to go into the oven. It doesn't look like much, but believe me, it took a lot of work to get to this point!


After they come out of the oven. And I bit into one, to show what the insides look like:


The cupcakes, mid-decorating. The buttercream came out sort of custardy-looking, because I've been playing around with the butter/shortening proportions in my buttercream recipe. This one is mostly butter, so it looks very... buttery! But I thought the icing was nicely light and very tasty -- it doesn't hold up too well in hot weather, though.


Toppings-wise, I ran into a major problem. I could NOT for the life of me find any Pop Rocks at the supermarket. And I didn't get a chance to visit the convenience store before the party, so I had to compromise the topping for the cupcake. It made me sad -- that was the whole point of the cupcake!

What I used instead were blue raspberry Skittles and red decorating sugar. If I had my way, these would be topped with Pop Rocks.


By the way, if you try this and you want to use Pop Rocks -- I would recommend holding off on adding the Pop Rocks until right before you serve, as I would think the icing would cause the candy to react if left sitting for too long.

Happy (belated -- late post, I know) 4th of July!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Nanda's Awesome bento (9)

I took these photos ages ago, but I neglected to post about them! Felt I should remedy the situation.

Nanda is the most awesome friend ever. Because, after seeing me obsess about bento boxes on this blog, she got me an actual bento box for my birthday. Joy of joys!

It has two movable partitions and a clear lid with locking metal handles. I love it so much.


On the left, there are some celery sticks and half of a fresh peach, diced. I cut up some carrot chunks for gap fillers, too.

In the middle, some leftover pad thai jae from a weekend lunch with my friends. I rearranged the leftover vegetables into an aesthetically appealing display.

On the right, some snacks that were also part of Nanda's birthday present to me. Raspberry yogurt covered pretzels and some toasted spiced soy nuts. I kept them separate by placing them in cupcake liners.

The whole thing:


In a smaller container, I packed myself a snack. It contains the rest of the peach, diced, and some baby carrots. I also have a packet of Stonewall's Jerquee, a soy-based jerky substitute. (It's not spectacular, but I like it when I want something salty to chew on.)