Sunday, October 30, 2011

Love my little “Dumplings” - dumpling squash dessert that is

I had so much fun at the cooking class last week. I am keeping my fingers crossed that I can do more of it. Work has been stressful. I felt so light and alive when I am cooking with a group with wonderful people. I am pretty sure they have as much fun as I did. More and more I want to share my cooking with others, I am considering doing some weekly meal preparations or even some in home dinner parties for another one. Especially with the holiday,  I know I can help. 

While I was packing up to leave, one of the ladies asked me for a fall dessert idea. She wanted something simple, easy to make, but with the look of the season. I immediately thought of the basket of squash I had at home from the CSA and those the dumpling squash. They have a very simple taste, a little sweetness and very versatile. Best of all they are cute!

Here is an idea that I suggested to here.The inspiration came from the simple dessert that my Thai auntie used to make : Thai custard in a pumpkin. In the tradition recipe, the pumpkin is cut into wedges and served. I don’t think it has a “Wow” table appeal. I want to keep cuteness.. Plus she is bringing a dessert for a couples dinner. What’s more sensual than letting each couple share the dessert…. 

Thai Inspired Coconut custard Dumpling Squash Dessert
2 small dumpling squash with stem, try to get them about the same size.
1 egg
1/3 cup coconut milk
2 tbsp sugar
¼ cup water
Preheat oven to 350/
Wash the squash and cut a “cap” off the top of the squash. Remove the seed and pulp. Make sure you take off the little bit of seeds and pump off the cap too. Set a side.

In a small saucepan, mix sugar with coconut milk
Lightly heat the mixture till the sugar melts. Do not boil
Whip the egg in a small bowl
Slowly add the coconut milk mixture till combined
Pour the egg mixture in the center of each of the hollowed out squash.  (I returned the egg mixture back in the measurement cup and make it easily to fill the squash)
Place the squash in a shallow baking pan
Put the cap back onto each of the squash.
Pour ¼ cup of water into the pan
Cover with foil
Bake for 30 min. Check for doneness by inserting a small fork or toothpick in the “meat” part of the squash. When it is tender, it is ready.
Transfer each of the squash on a individual serving plate.

Note: my custard is a bit overcooked today since I have 2 different size of squash.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Mahalo for coming to the class!!!

We had a great time cooking together. I was too busy cooking and didn't get to take some picture. Here is a couple from one of the group.
Finishing up our Miso glazer butternut squash and Sweet Sour tofu
Making Spring rolls.

One of the ladies was trying to write down the brand of the products I used. I thought I would just post if for everyone:
Product list for our Pacific Rim tour today:

From United Noodles Asian Supermarket
In the Japanese section: 
Yamabuk brand miso
Kadoya Sesame Oil
Morita Honjo-Mirin (seasoned sweet wine)
Marukan Brew Organic rice vinegar
San-J Gluten Free Soy (since we are making our meal wheat free)
From the Southeast Asian section:
Combim Thai Galangal powder
Cock Brand Fried Onion
Chin Jun Food cooked (toasted) black sesame
Trang brand lungkow vermicelli
Banh Trang Spring roll wrapper.
Indonesian Palm sugar (gula jawa).
From Hawaii:
My favorite shoyu - Aloha shoyu
In the frozen food cooler:
Masagana Frozen coconut milk
Wen Chuan Spring roll Shells.
Grated frozen lemongrass
Fresh Chinese celery, Thai basil and cilantro

Fried tofu cubes
Pressed (dry) 5-spiced tofu
From Hilo Coffee Mill and a big thank you for the coupons.
Ka'u coffee, Italian roast
Mamaki Tea.

Availabe at
Palm Island Premium black lava salt.

From Tangletown Gardens CSA
Mix Lettuce
Heirloom tomatoes
Our wonderful green onion

As with the ginger grater, here is a source... Hmmm I don't think I paid that much 
Ginger Grater

Mahalo nui for joining me in class today


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A vegan tour of the Pacific Rim with Kūlia

I have a private cooking class this weekend... want to know what we are making?
It is a vegan and wheat-free meal (almost all wheat free). I have to make adjustment for a lady in the class.
Here it is: 

"Vegan Tour of the Pacific Rim with Kūlia" cooking class

Chinese & Vietnamese inspired classic Spring roll 
- Fried classic Chinese spring roll with celery, carrot and 5-spice pressed tofu filing. We will be using both traditional Chinese wrapping and a wheat-free Vietnamese rice wrapping.
Served with sweet sour sauce and you will find out my favorite way to eat Spring roll... (how it is usually served in Hong Kong)

Laotian style Laap salad
- Vegan version of Laotian "meat" salad, using soy crumbles,seasoned with blue ginger, lemongrass and lime juice Tossed with Thai basil, mint, kaffir lime leaves, cilantro. Served over shredded lettuce. Top with Fried onion for crunch.

Singaporean sweet sour Tofu,

- My mother's "secret" sweet sour sauce with stir-fried sweet peppers and tomatoes over fried tofu.
Japanese inspired roasted butternut squash with miso
- Counter balance the sweet sour with some saltiness from a simple miso glazed squash roasted in the oven.
Served with Hawaiian Hapa rice 
- simple mix of 1/2 brown and 1/2 white rice commonly served in Hawaii.

Dessert by request:
Kulia's Island inspired coconut Kheer with mango and dash of lava salt (a tribute to Tutu Pele)
- Jasmin rice pudding cooked with coconut milk, served with mango and a dash of volcanic black lava salt.

And... no meal is complete without Ka'u coffee and Mamaki ginger tea from Hilo Coffee Mill.

The menu is designed to use locally available seasonal produce. The recipes are modified to fit our life style in Minneapolis.  


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Put oon my cowboy boots, make a Sweet Potato pie for my 2-step man!!!

My CSA is coming to an end soon. I am going to miss the weekly supply of wonderful fresh vegetable. I will also miss the "surprise" challenge each week. This week CSA came with a pile of sweet potatoes. They are all in some funny shape. I was told that our fall has been very dry and the soil was hard, the sweet potatoes were trying so hard in the ground and they ended up in some elongated knotty shape. They are still sweet and wonderful. I wanted to do something with them apart from roasting. I then remembered how much I loved sweet potato pie when I lived in the south. I found a recipe online, as usual, I "Kulia-fied) it. I am making a pie for Mr Wonderful. 

I came to the conclusion that Mr Wonderful is a "closet" pie-lover. He said he did not care for dessert or sweet, but he would always find room for pie. He would have a slice of pie for breakfast! He told me  he knew pies, his mother and sisters were all bakers. They used to make some amazing pies. However, they have never make sweet potato pie. This will be a nice surprise for him - some sweeet po-ta-to pie for my hon-ky-tonk man! (You have sing this like a country song).

Classic Southern Sweet Potato Pie. 
1 lb sweet potatoes. Clean, boiled and peeled

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 tsp grounded cinnamon
1/4 tsp grounded ginger
1/4 tsp grounded clove
1 tsp vanilla
1 ready made unbaked pie crust
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
Line a 9" pie pan with the crust. Crimp the edges or you can just press down the edge with a fork to create a pattern.
Crack 1 egg in a small bowl, separate the yoke from the white. Reserve the yoke
Brush the pie crust with a bit of the white. I call this "waterproofing" to prevent the crust from getting too soggy from the custard.
In a med bowl, mash the sweet potatoes. Make about 2 cups.
Add 1/2 cup sugar, mix well.
Add 1 egg, the reserved egg york with the remaining white. Mix well
Stir in butter
Then milk.
Add cinnamon, ginger, clove and vanilla.
Whisk the mixture together till blended.
Pour the custard into the prepared crust
Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake for 60 mins.
Pie is ready when you insert a toothpick in the center and it come out clean.
The filling will puffed up during baking. Let it cool for 10 mins, the cake will flatten out and ready to serve

Serve with a vanilla ice cream or maple whipped cream on the side

To make Maple Whipped cream:
With a mixer, whip 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream till soft peak forms
fold in 2 tbsp of maple syrup. Continue whipping the cream till set.
Leave in the fridge for 30min.


Friday, October 14, 2011

More Fall dinner - Tomatillo Chicken

I love tomatillo and I was thrill to have some from the CSA. I was going to make some salsa. Somehow it does not feel right to be making something cold. It seems so natural to have something comforting when there is a chill in the air. Here is another stew with some Mexican influence. I prefer to use legs and thighs with bone in a stew. I found that  those parts made the stew more flavorful and the meat tends to be less dry. However you can always change the meat selection in this recipe to 2 chicken breasts.

Tomatillo Chicken 
4 chicken thighs or legs, or 2 chicken breast (with bone or boneless, your choice)
1 cup tomatillo, husk removed. Cleaned and cut in half
1 onion, cut into 1/2" pieces.
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2  tsp grounded cumin
2 tbsp chopped thyme
1 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup chopped chives
2 hot peppers, vein and seeds removed, finely chopped. I am using Aji crystal pepper.
1/4 cup lime juice. (Juice of a lime). I am using 3 key lime to make up the amount of juice.
1 cup water
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper
In a hot medium size pan, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add onion and garlic and saute till translucent
Add hot pepper and cumin, cook for a few mins. Season with salt and pepper
 Add the chicken pieces and let it brown.
 When the chicken pieces are browned. Add lime juice.
 Fold in tomatillo
 Then thyme
 Add 1/2 of the chopped cilantro and 1/2 of the chopped chives.
 Finally a cup of water.
 Bring the mixture to a boil and lower heat to medium low. Cover and simmer for 20 mins
When the chicken pieces are cooked, vegetable softened and the sauce thickened. Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper. Depending on the cookware and the stove, if the sauce is too runny, you can let it boil and reduce the sauce a bit.
 Finally, fold in the remaining chopped cilantro and chives.
Transfer to a casserole dish and serve family style with rice. Garnish with a few sprig of cilantro and lime slices.
or you can plate it with 2 piece of chicken for each person, spoon some sauce over the meat. Garnish.
Serve with rice.
We love it with a simple field green salad on the side to balance some of the heat. It has some heat, but not over powering at all. You can skip the hot pepper if you prefer a milder taste.

Serve 2. can be easily doubled.


Saturday, October 8, 2011

A hearty stew with green tomatoes

Mr Wonderful is really into stew these days. His favorite is a simple German boiled dinner. It is basically putting a bunch of root vegetables, a cabbage and some kind of cured meat such as sausage or ham boil down into a soup.

I think I need to give him a little variety. This is a recipe modified from a Chile Verde (Pork and Tomatillo stew). I have quite a bit of green tomatoes from my CSA, I need to use them soon. My stew here is not as spicy as I would like, again it has been adjusted for Mr. Wonderful. I used one 1 yellow agi crystal hot pepper, it has a sweet undertone and I also removed all the vein and seeds. If you like heat, you can leave the seeds in or follow the recipe and use 2 peppers instead.

This is a very simple dish, great for weekday dinner, you can put this together at night and turn on the crock-pot when you leave for work. With some of the newer crock pot, you can program to cook for certain amount time and it will turn over to "keep warm" when it is done. Dinner is ready when you get home. I am cooking this overnight in my "ole faithful" crock pot. It does not have a timer, I put it in low and I will be smelling the stew the whole night. 

Green Tomatoes and Pork Stew
2 lbs of center cut pork. Trimmed and cut into 2" cubes
2 cups diced green tomatoes, (about 8 medium tomatoes)
1 onion. Diced.
3 small green pepper. Remove the stem, seeds and vein. Cut into 1" pieces
2 small hot pepper. Seeds and veins removed. Finely chopped. I am using an Aji crystal pepper. 
2 tbsp chopped garlic
1/2 tsp fennel seeds.
1 tbsp chopped thyme
1 cup cut sweet corn.
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Prepared all the vegetable.
In a large fry pan, heat a couple tbsp olive oil.
Add garlic, saute for a few mins
Add pork, season with salt and pepper.
Brown the meat
Transfer the meat to the crock pot
In a same pan, add a couple tbsp olive oil
Add onion, bell pepper and hot pepper, cook for 3-4 mins till the onion softened.
Add the tomatoes, let it cook for 5 mins.
Add thyme and fennel seeds
Cook over med low heat for about 5 mins till the vegetable a all caramelized.
Add the stock and bring the vegetable mix to boil. Check seasoning. Spoon the mixture over the meat in the crock pot.
Stir well and mix in the cup of corn. 
Cover, and cook over high for 4.5 hours or low for 6 hours.
I am making this quite mild, if you want, add a dash of Tobasco when it's ready

Great to serve with hot biscuits!

Serve 4