Sunday, March 16, 2014

Simple Homemade Muesli

Muesli is one of my favorite breakfast even since I was a little kid. I remembered when I was a teenage, my father and I used to go to a Germany Sunday brunch in Hong Kong once a month. My father loved sausages, the different kinds of cured meat and ham. That was a big treat for him. My father raised me as a meat eater, I turned to the cheeses, yogurt, the bread and sweets and I would always have a large bowl of muesli with fruit.
"Donʻt we have that at home?" my father would say.
"Yes, but itʻs different when they fix it" I would answer.
It was the same question and same answer every month for years.

Years later, I finally found out what was the difference. I learned to prepare muesli the right way from my Taiko Sansei Marco Lienhard.  Marco was from Switzerland and he was a member of the famous Ondekoza and lived in Japan for 14 or 15 years. He is one of the best Shakuhachi, Fur and Taiko master. He performs and teaches around the world. I am very honored to be the opportunity to study with him.

I was a taiko drummer before being a hula dancer. I "retired" from playing due to some injuries and joint issues. I missed my drums and most of all, I miss taking lessons from Marco. Marco is also a gourmet. We always ended up talking about food!! Sometimes I do wonder whether I miss the lessons or I really miss the food, the fun talk and the eating :). Of course it is the drums, Marco...

So.. here is the big step that was missing from my childhood muesli: let the cereal soak overnight...
My breakfast was usually prepared by our amah or Dad in the morning when I was growing up.
They treated the muesli just as any cereal - pour it in a bowl and pour milk over it and during the winter month, our amah would cook it like oatmeal. She would also sweeten it with sugar.

Marco showed me the right way by soaking muesli overnight with seasonal fruit. The flavor and the sweetness of the fruit infused the porridge. You can make it overnight. You have an instant breakfast in the morning. I would cook it for 2 min in the microwave in the winter and I have hearty hot breakfast.

The recipe for the muesli mix here is not traditional. I modified this a bit with ingredients ready available in the store. Traditional it should have rye flakes and barley flakes in the mix. I also added in ground flax seeds. This is a very simple recipe that you can easily alter for your taste or season:
1 - the Bran - I am using wheat bran here, you can use oat bran
2 - Farina - you can use wheat germ if you want
3 - Dried fruit - I change the fruit quite a bit. Raisin is sort of my "base". I would have chopped dates if I want a more traditional taste. Cut up apricot is great during the summer and I love cranberry in the winter. I am a blueberry mode lately.
4 - Nuts - almond is always my "go-to" nuts. You can use any combination you want. I mix in some pecan at times. Walnut is great. I also like pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds in the Fall.
5 - Milk - there are so many choices now. I am making a non-dairy version. I am using soy. Almond milk, coconut milk (non-dairy alternative, not the canned) are great options too. You can also go with milk. If you making Bircher Muesli - it is with yogurt and some milk.

This is my classic combo. In the winter month: this is what I would have:
Dried fruit  - raisin, cranberry.

Nut - chopped pecan, pumpkin seeds
Fresh fruit: Chopped apple and I always have banana.  

Have fun experimenting!

Home Made Muesli
The dry mix:
2 Cups old fashion rolled oats
1/2 cup wheat bran or oat bran
2 Tbsp Grounded flax seeds
1/4 cup farina or wheat germ
1/2 cup dried blueberries
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup sliced almond - lightly chopped into smaller pieces.
Spread 1/2 cup of the wheat bran on tin foil on a baking sheet and toast it in the oven. This will bring out the nutty flavor in the grain.
Toast the grain for about 5-10 till itʻs lightly golden.
Place the oat meal in a large bowl. Add in farina
Grounded flex seed
 Toasted wheat bran. The tin foil make it easy to add the toasted bran
 Almond or nuts of your choice
Dried blueberries
 1/4 cup of raisins
Mix well.
Store in an airtight jar.  Make 4 cups.

Making breakfast:
You can keep the porridge in the fridge up to 48 hours. It is best prepared overnight and I found it taste even better the 2nd day: This make about 3 serving for me.

1 Cup of Muesli mix
1 cup of fresh fruit of your choice
1 cup of milk or non-dairy milk of your choice
Additional fresh fruit as topping.
Use a plastic or glass container with a tight cover.
Mix the muesli with the fresh fruit
Pour in the milk.
Mix well, cover the porridge and let it sit in the fridge overnight, up to 48 hours.
In the morning: 
Stir the porridge, if it is too thick, add more milk to your taste.
At this point you can transfer the amount you want to a microwave safe bowl. Cover and heat for 1.5-2 mins to have a hot breakfast, or this can be served cold.
Top with additional fresh fruit of your choice.


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Miso braised daikon with beef short ribs.

It is daikon season here in Southern California. I have never see daikon this fresh and beautiful. The only issue I have with these guys - they are a bit on the oversizes. I love daikon in soup, however I am soup out. I need to do something other than soup! My dear "sista" Shoko and her mom visited me last month. I wanted to have something ready for dinner, I decided to braise the daikon with miso and some beef short ribs. This is a relatively simple recipe and it freeze very well. I made this a week ahead, freeze it, then reheated it for dinner. Shoko loved the dish!

This is for you Shoko...

Miso braised daikon and beef short ribs 
4 pieces of beef short ribs or country ribs, with or without bone.
1/2 of a large daikon. Green removed, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
4-5 green onion. Cleaned and chopped. Reserve 2 tbsp of the green part for garnish.
1/4 cup of Miso
1/4 cup mirin
1 tbsp shoyu
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced ginger
2 cups vegetable stock
Vegetable oil
Sesame oil

In a small bowl, mix miso and mirin.
Blend miso with mirin together till it is no longer lumpy.
Add shoyu
In a wok or large fryer, heat 3-4 tbsp of vegetable. Add ginger and garlic. Cook for 1-2 mins.
 Brown ribs in the hot oil.
 Add daikon. Brown the vegetable with the ribs
 Add green onion. Let it cook for 2-3 mins.
Fold in the miso mixture. Coat the vegetable and ribs with the mixture.
 Add in the stock.
Bring the stew to full boil, then lower to medium low. Cover and let it cook for about 1.5 -2 hours till the ribs are tender. Check the liquid level, add more stock if needed.
At this point, you can
1 - Plate the dish, drizzle with a little sesame oil and garnish with some green onion. 
2 - Let it cool and put into a storage container and freeze. 

This was our dinner:

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Testing Chocolate Mayonnaise cake with Just Mayo

I usually donʻt post a test recipe. This is an exception. I am loving Just Mayo from Hampton Creek Foods. I wanted to see how far I can take this product.

I was asked a few times when I would start making vegan cakes and baked goods. I have not been able to find a recipe/ replacement product that taste right. Dessert and cakes are the ultimate finale of a meal or a moment of indulgence. I donʻt believe in making something that miss those factors. To me, it wonʻt be worthwhile for the calories!! Just me speaking...

Chocolate Mayo cake is an old fashion cake, very popular in the 50ʻs and 60ʻs. It was supposed to be a recipe from a wife of a Hellmannʻs mayo salesman. She was trying to help her husband to sell more Mayonnaise! I also read it was a recipe developed during the Depression when eggs and butter were too expensive. There are a few versions of this recipe, most of them have eggs in addition to Mayo. I was able to found a recipe from Southern cooking and made some changes to my taste as well as based on the texture of Just Mayo. It is not perfect yet, but it will.
Here is a few observations;

  1. Texture of the cake is good. It looks right. 
  2. Taste is good, it also has the old fashion doughy-gooeyness. It is just sweet enough. With the sweetness from the frosting, it would be perfectly sinful.
  3. It is a bit crumbly.  The outer part is a little dry. It cracked when I flipped it out of the pan. This could be an issue with my new oven and also the cake has no egg. The mayo was the emulsifier in this recipe.  I may need to put in a bit more mayo. I used 1 1/4 cup instead of 1 1/2 cup as the original recipe calls for. I took the portion down since  Just Mayo was not as thick as Hellmannʻs.  I think I will keep it to 1 1/2 cup. 
  4. I will also add 1/2 tsp salt. 
  5. The original recipe use water, I am using brew coffee. I am planning to use espresso next time. It will also help to give the cake a darker chocolaty color.
  6. Since it was in a bundt pan. I baked it for 45 mins. I could cut a bit of time back 35-40 mins. 

I served this with a vegan chocolate fudge sauce. I just replaced the milk with coconut milk and cocoa powder and sugar with the semi-sweet chocolate in my Christmas fudge sauce recipe. It turned out to be very delightful and very sinful. I like the new vegan sauce more than my original recipe. It is very silky chocolaty, smooth mouth feel with a hint of coconut. This is a jar that you can eat with a spoon and wonʻt share!!! I know my non-vegetarian/ vegan friends will enjoy this greatly too. Gang... I think you getting this for Christmas!!

Here is the test recipe I used with no adjustment. Try it, make adjustment and have fun. Let me know what you did and how it turns out.

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake with Just Mayo
3 cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup Just Mayo
1 1/2 cup brewed coffee
2 tsp vanilla
Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar and cocoa powder in a large bowl.
 Measure 1 1/4 cup of Just Mayo
Add just mayo to the dry mixture and work the mayo into the flour.
 Add coffee 1/4 at a time. Mix well each addition.
 Stir in vanilla
 Pour the batter into a sprayed or oiled bundt pan. You can also use 9x13 pan or 2 9" round cake pan
Bake at 350 degree preheated oven for 45 mins for a bundt pan or 30 mins for cake pans.
 Remove the cake, check for doneness by lightly press on the center of the cake, if it spring back. Itʻs done, or you can insert a toothpick in the center. It is done when the toothpick is clean when you pull it out.
 Let the cake cool 10 mins. Invert the cake on a plate or serving piece. I had it on a board since this is a test recipe.
 Place a slice of the cake in a serving plate and drizzle with Vegan chocolate sauce. (Recipe follows)
Serve 12

Vegan Chocolate fudge sauce 
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup coconut milk
2 tsp vanilla.
Mix cocoa powder and sugar in a small sauce pan
 Add Coconut milk
Simmer the sauce over low heat, stir or whisk the sauce to combine till it is smooth and silky.
 Remove from heat and let it cool for 5-10 min. Transfer to a container for storage or a sauce boat to serve with the cake.


Making Guava butter

Good guava was hard to come by in the upper Midwest and most people donʻt even know what it was!!  Itʻs guava season here in South Cal. There are so many varieties in the farmers market!!I am enjoying this greatly.  My dear friend Mariam from San Diego found out how much I love guava, she brought me a large bags of the fruit from her neighborʻs tree. That family bought a home with 4 guava trees and they donʻt know what to do with all the fruit!

Guava is hard to digest since it has a pulp of hard seeds inside. I canʻt really eat a lot of it. So... I made some guava butter last week. Itʻs great to top your plain yogurt in the morning, use it in desserts! Just loving every bit of it. The recipe is quite simple, but a bit time consuming since you have to put it through either a food mill or a strainer to separate the seeds. I am using the old fashion method with a little wrist action, a good strainer and a big spoon. It does the job and I donʻt need to store another item in my now tiny kitchen!! A quick note, I picked up a cheap strainer set with biggest mesh from Target, The guava seeds are actually quite big and guava has a grainy texture. If you have a very fine strainer, you will have a hard time getting the puree thought. I love my WMF strainer, but it just not right for this job! I am making a double recipe here.
Guava Butter
6-8 medium size guavas. Cleaned, stem and ends removed, cut into quarters to make 4 cups.
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
Place the fruit in a med size dutch oven or pan
Add sugar
Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Let the fruit cook till softened, about 30 mins
You can use an immersion blender or puree in a food processor or blender till smooth
Strain the puree in through a strainer with a medium size mesh to remove the seeds
Press the mixture, You can also use a Food Mill if available, 
Stir and press the mixture through the strainer till only the seeds are left. Discard the seeds
Return the guava butter back to the pot. Make sure you rinse the pot to remove any seeds. 
Bring the mixture to a light boil over low heat. It is best to use a diffuser in this step and stir constantly so that I wonʻt burn. 
Pack the fruit butter in sterilized mason jars. Clean the lip of the jar. Cap.
You can store this in the fridge or put it through a hot water bath to process.
Great to mix a tsp in some plain yogurt for breakfast.