Saturday, December 17, 2011

Kiddies Sugar High Popcorn Cake

Photographer Jeffrey Austin hosts a fun cocktail party at his studio home every Christmas. It is always a fun event. The guests will dress up or come in their own uniqueness. The most fun through the years was to see his son Liam. He is the cutest little boy. I always love how he is all dressed up. This little boy is going to break some hearts when he grows up.

I thought of Liam when I was baking for my gang at the old office. I thought it would be fun that he gets his very own treat this year, so I decided to make popcorn cake. This is adapted from a recipe from Emeril's Miss Hilda popcorn cake. I modified it a bit. I use less butter and less marshmallows. I added Jelly beans since they looked like big light bulbs. Christmas can't be without those big old fashion light bulbs!

I posted Liam's cake a few days ago and my fellow alumni at Chaminade is requesting the recipe, so Miss Moni, this is for you. By the way, it is a great recipe to do with a kid, so get Princess Bella ready for some kitchen fun.

Note: I didn't put any jelly beans in this today. Some very big kid is going to eat this for me, I don't think his wife will appreciate the sugar high. Speaking of the food posted here, a few readers were wondering what I did with the food, did I eat it?
 The answer: if it is a small recipe, yes I will have it for dinner and lunch.
If it is meat, I usually pack it and include it in Mr Wonderful also weekly meals package. (I have been banned from cooking, he said his freezer is full...)
If it is baked goods, I feed it to my office, the halau or an brave soul who wants to be my taster :)

Kiddies Popcorn Cake
1 10 bag of marshmallows
3/4 stick (6 oz) butter
10 cup white popcorn. I found the store bought white popcorn in the snack section works very well. It gives that cake a bit of the sweet and salty taste
1 cup M&M
1 cup dry roasted peanuts
3/4 cup jelly beans (optional)
2 oz semi-sweet chocolate melted
Spray or oil 1 12 cups bundt pan or a coffee cake pan. I am using a coffee cake pan here. Set aside
In a very large bowl or pan. add 10 cups of popcorn. I am using a soup pot here, the bigger the pot, the easily it will be. make sure you have plenty of room, especially when you are making this with kids
Have M&M, jelly beans and peanuts ready the side
Just before you make the marshmallows "glue" sprinkle a few M&M and jelly beans on the bottom of the pan.
In a large microwave safe batter bowl, combine butter and marshmallows
Set microwave to 2 min, and let it cook it. check after 1.5 min
The marshmallows will puff up and double its size.
Remove from microwave and stir the butter and marshmallows together vigorously.
Add the marshmallows "glue" to the popcorn, stir to combine.
Add, candies and peanut quickly. Mix well.
It will be gooey and sticky. You have to work quickly with this step. It would be helpful to have a "helper"
Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan.
Even out the mixture
Cover with a piece of wax paper, press down to pack the popcorn.
Remove the wave paper.
Cover with a fresh piece and set aside for about 2 hour for the cake to set.
Melt 2 oz of chopped chocolate or chocolate chips in a microwave save bowl.
Remove the wax paper from the cake, set a side, we are going to reuse this.
Loosen up the side of the cake by running a thin knife along the sides.
Over with the wax paper and invert onto a large plate or working board.
Drizzle the cake with melted chocolate.
Once the chocolate is set, remove cake from the wax paper. Wrap it up tightly with tinfoil to store, or slice into wedges and let the kids have fun! 


Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas rush... time to make some cookies

After a month of unemployment, I am finally working and have been quite busy. I am glad to say that I am enjoying a less stressful position, well at least through the holidays. With the Christmas rush and a bit out of the sync daily life, I didn't get much of a chance to write and post recipes. I hope I will be back with some posting next week.

I am finally getting round to my Christmas baking. Just a few things that I made for cookie exchange, friends and my gang from my old job. If you are interested in getting any of these recipes, email me. Otherwise, I will try to get to this as soon as I can

Popcorn cake for a little boy

Lemon Scottish short bread

Chocolate and Heath Weetabix bars

Make believe to be health cranberry white chocolate chip cookies

Cookies for my old gang

Hawaiian Mango bars

Happy Holidays

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving Leftover Hawaiian Style - Turkey "Jook"

Hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving and a yum yum meal. I think it is a "tradition" to have leftover. As we would make sandwiches, turkey casserole on the mainland, those of us from the Islands have our special tradition with Turkey leftover, we make "Jook"!

"Jook" 粥 in Chinese or "Juk" in Korean both mean rice porridge, or sometimes referred as congee. Each family has their own special recipe of making Jook. It is simply boiled rice in a lot of water or stock to make a rice soup. 

As many would do after the big dinner, I took the roasted turkey carcass and boil it down to make a thick stock. There is not really a recipe. I just put break down the carcass, put in the vegetable leftover that I used to roast the turkey into a big pot. Cover with water and let it cook low for a few hours. Remove all the bones and vegetable, strain the stock and store in a few containers (2 cups each is my prefernce) and freeze it. I keep the base stock simple so that I can use the stock for both Asian as well as Western dishes.

This a very simple recipe. Another way to enjoy turkey leftover... especially on those cold winter night.. (It's 34 outside and rainning) 

Turkey Jook with Lettuce and roasted seaweed

1/3 cup rice, washed, raised and drained
2 cups turkey stock
2 cups water 
1 cup bite size leftover turkey meat
2 cup shredded romaine lettuce
1/4 cup chopped green onion
Sesame oil
Salt and better to taste
Optional: Korean roasted seasoned seaweed. You can also get the sheet version of roasted seaweed at Trader Joe (it's in the snack section by the popcorn), cut it into strips or tear in up in smaller pieces
Toasted sesame seeds
Place rice in a medium size pot
Add water and stock
Bring to a boil, lower heat to med low. Cover and let the porridge cook for about an hour. Check and stir every now and then to make sure the rice is sticking to the bottom.
The porridge is ready when the rice "flower", starts to disintergrate.
Add turkey meat, stir and let it cook for about 10 mins. Check seasoning, add salt and pepper to taste.
Place 1 cup of lettuce in each large soup bowl.
Laddle hot boiling soup into each bowl
Sprinkle with green onion

Top with a handful of roasted seaweed. (I love seaweed, if you are not sure, start with less). The porridge is wonderful without the topping.
Drizzle a little of sesame
And a sprinkle of toasted sesame seed
To eat: mix everything together... Now, this is comfort food to me...
Made 3 cups, 2 dinner serving.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Hmmm stuffing.... it's Holidays season

I was not a big fan of stuffing or dressing (as the English would call it). English dressing that my family made was very heavy and rich. It was mainly sausage meat and breadcrumbs.  It was also cooked inside the bird.  I didn't care for it much when I was growing up. When I lived in Hawai'i, I would have turkey with rice and mac salad, and tried to avoid stuffing most of the time. I also not crazy about stuffing in the bird, it was too rich for me. One Christmas looong time ago, I went from Hawai'i to Boston at Christmas to visit my friend Matt. Christmas was magically at the Mattus's house. Grand mama Mattus would make some of the most amazing cookies and pies, many interesting Lithuanian dishes and I discovered what good stuffing should be like. Her cooking changed me from a dressing hater to someone who look forward to the holiday tradition. Since she taught me how to make stuffing, this will always be her recipe.

Through the years, I did some changes to her recipe.She would have cut up pieces of  boiled gizzard and meat from the neck, an egg and 2 sticks of butter in the stuffing.  Here secret ingredient is the Bell seasoning, that's one ingredient that I will never change.  I have more vegetable in this version. I also cup the vegetable a bit bigger,  so that there is some texture when it is cooked down. If you want a little sweetness, you can add an apple and 1/2 cup dried cranberries. The recipe can easily be vegetarian by replacing the chicken stock with vegetable stock.
I am using the stuffing for a Roast turkey bread roulette today.

Grand mama Mattus's Yum Yum Stuffing
1 medium size onion, cut into 1/2" pieces
2 cloves of garlic, finally chopped
1 shallot, chopped.
3 stalks of celery. Cleaned and trimmed. cut into 1/2" pieces
1 6oz package of mushroom, cleaned and sliced.
3-5 green onion, cleaned, trimmed and chopped
4 tbsp ghee or butter
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
2 tbsp Bell seasoning
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups chicken stock
6 cups day-old or any old bread,  cubed to make up 6 cups.
In a large saucepan, melt 4 tbsp ghee till hot. This may seem to be a lot of oil, but you will need it for the bread.
Saute onion, shallot and garlic till carmeralized.
Add celery and thyme, cook til vegetable slightly soften about 2-3 mins.
Add Bell seasoning, stir well
Mix in mushroom
Then green onion
Add 1/2 cup of white wine.
Pour in 2 cups of chicken stock
Bring to a boil
Fold in bread cubes and mix well. You may need to add more stock if the mixture seem dry. It depends on the bread you are using. I was making some cucumber sandwiches for a baby shower last weekend and I saved the crust.  My stuffing was actually a bit too moist today, I have to add more bread.
 Reduce heat to medium low, let the stuffing cook for 4-5 mins to blend in the flavors.
It's ready to use. I would usually transfer the mixture to a buttered casserole, drizzle with some dripping from the turkey. Cover bake for additional 30 mins.
Make about 4 cups of stuffing.

I used it in a turkey breast roulette this evening...