Tags: baking, Basil, Chevre, Chibes, Chili Flakes, Dough, flatbread, garlic, goat cheese, Herbs, Lemon, Parsley, Pide, recipes, Turkish Flatbread
So..I’m making cheese, goat cheese – chevre to be exact. Valerie from A Canadian Foodie has challenged a bunch of us to start making cheese from scratch with her Cheesepalooza challenge. I was extremely excited when she announced this challenge because I’ve always wanted to dabble a little in artisan cheese making.
No, the Red Hot Chili Peppers will not be performing, but they will be making an appearance in my cheese!
Tags: Asian Buns, Asian Vinaigrette, Bell Peppers, Chicken, Crockpot Pulled Chicken, Honey Sesame Chicken, Pulled Chicken, Red Cabbage, Red Onions, Sandwiches, Sesame Chicken, slaw, Sliders, Slow Cooker Chicken, Snowpeas
We’re all familiar with loads of twists on pulled pork, pulled beef, pulled chicken – pulled any meat that can be shredded into juicy strands after being simmered in a sauce for a few hours – then slopped on a bun, which soaks up some of that sauce. I’ve seen riffs on Asian pulled pork and chicken, but I’ve never seen the following Asian take on it until I scrolled through my blog assignment for this month’s Secret Recipe Club.
Does any carnivore NOT love Sesame or General Tso’s chicken? Well, the blog I was assigned, Eat Little, Eat Big..authored and photographed by Susie, who just so happens to live on the beautiful island of Maui (lucky!), came up with this brilliant idea. She simmered chicken breasts in a similar sauce used for sesame chicken – in a crockpot- for a few hours. Voila, Slow Cooker Honey Sesame Chicken!
Initially, I was going to make her Crunchy Oven Baked Fish Sticks, but then decided that there was no way I was turning on the oven in this oppressive heat. We’re talking 98 – 100 degrees the past week, so I loved that this dish was slowly simmered in a crockpot..or slow cooker, whichever you prefer to call it. Potatoes, puhtatoes.
Of course I couldn’t leave well enough alone. First, I toasted the sesame seeds, then I omitted the ketchup and used tomato paste instead. I used Chili Paste (Sambal Oelek) in lieu of chili flakes, added rice wine vinegar for a bit of acid, and a little chicken stock for more sauce.
I also changed the cooking time since I was starting with semi-frozen chicken breasts, plus…to get that really shredded texture, more time was needed, semi-frozen or not. To thicken the sauce after simmering, I made a slurry of cornstarch and chicken broth, instead of using cornstarch alone. I grated some fresh ginger into the sauce simply because I couldn’t fathom sesame chicken without ginger.
Before I even finished reading the recipe, I had decided to pile this pulled chicken on buns. At the bottom of Susie’s recipe – she suggested doing just that. SO, I piled this chicken on buns, but not just any buns. Back in Dec, ’11, I baked some plain buns using an extra batch of dough I made from the Daring Bakers Char Siu Bao recipe and froze them. Instabuns! For the sliders, I used store-bought slider sized potato buns.
I love Asian bun dough. It’s soft and so velvety, so I knew they would make great vessels for burgers or sandwiches. Use any kind of bun you’d like, even a doughnut if that suits your fancy, since it, ummm, it seems to be all the rage, but I’m not really recommending it, so, proceed with caution, and an adventurous palate! Oh, sprouted buns are also nice and work very well because they’re sturdy, leaving lots of leeway for sauce soakage, without falling apart, I highly recommend those along with the two aforementioned buns — not doughnuts.
Finally, you know how much I’ve waxed on and on about my love of natural rainbows incorporated into dishes? What better than an array of colorful vegetables to pile on these buns with the chicken? We’ve got shredded red cabbage (the purple), a mix of red, yellow and orange bell peppers, and blanched snow peas – all tossed together with a light vinaigrette.
This is my summer of Eat the Rainbow. Well, I’m trying to Eat the Rainbow. More to come soon, I hope. You see, I always say I’m going to make something, and then I never come through. I’m definitely not cut out for blogging, am I? OKay, I will rephrase that. I will do my very best to regale you all with loads of rainbow inspired dishes this summer. Hmm..maybe I should just stop saying it and try to actually do it?
In conclusion, these honey sesame chicken sliders are pretty, darn amazing and perfect for any party, so I do recommend you proceed without caution! If you’re GF, eat it out of the slow cooker, like I did at one point.
Pulled Honey Sesame Chicken Sandwiches with Rainbow Slaw
Inspired by Susie of Eat Little, Eat Big
Makes a ton of sliders, a half-ton of average sized sandwiches and maybe 6-8 unhinge your jaw, sandwiches
Pulled Honey Sesame Chicken
4 semi-frozen chicken breasts, cut in half (starting with semi-frozen chicken seems to help it shred better once cooked), OR, about 1 to 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
kosher salt and pepper
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup chicken stock or broth
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cloves garlic finely minced
2 teaspoons fresh, grated ginger
1 teaspoon chili paste (more if you like a lot of heat)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons chicken broth or stock
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
Toasted sesame seeds, the amount depending on your preference
burger buns or slider buns
Note – If your chicken breasts are kind of big, I would suggest doubling the sauce ingredients poured over the breasts in the crockpot. The cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of chicken stock for the thickening slurry remains the same, but add 2 tablespoons sesame oil instead of 1 when the sauce is thickened and done.
1 small red bell pepper, seeded, ribs removed, sliced thin
1 small yellow bell pepper, seeded, ribs removed, sliced thin
1 small orange bell pepper, seeded, ribs removed, sliced thin (OR two carrots, peeled and shredded)
About 1/4 a small head red cabbage, shredded
1 very small red onion or half a red onion, sliced thin
1/4 lb snowpeas, blanched, each snowpea sliced in half vertically and horizontally. No worries about peas falling out – it just makes it better
Note – Slice and chop vegetables smaller for sliders. If you want a really shredded slaw, use the shredding disk or very thin slicing disk in your food processor for all the veggies (stack the snowpeas to shred). I used a knife that needed to be sharpened so I couldn’t slice the veggies as thin as I would have liked. It’s much easier to pile a more shredded slaw on the sliders or sandwiches and much easier to eat.
5 tablespoons peanut oil
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced with kosher salt until it’s a paste
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 3/4 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
squeeze of lime juice
freshly ground black or white pepper (to taste)
SLAW AND VINAIGRETTE DIRECTIONS:
1. Combine all of the vegetables in a bowl.
2. Make Vinaigrette. Place all ingredients in a jar, cover tightly, and shake vigorously until blended. Drizzle your preferred amount over vegetables and toss.
3. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let the flavors blend in the fridge for a few houes. You can use it immediately, but it’s much better after marinating for a few hours. SO, make this salad while the chicken is cooking.
PULLED SESAME CHICKEN DIRECTIONS:
1. Season frozen chicken breasts with salt and pepper, and place in the crockpot.
2. Mix all the sauce ingredients together except for the sesame oil, sesame seeds, cornstarch and 2 extra tablespoons of chicken stock. Pour over seasoned, frozen chicken in the crockpot.
3. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high 3-4 hours, until the chicken starts to fall apart. Remove chicken from sauce and shred with two forks. Set aside in a bowl.
4. Pour sauce into a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Stir together the cornstarch and chicken stock until smooth, then pour into the simmering sauce. Cook until the sauce has thickened, whisking constantly – it only takes a minute or two.
5. Remove from heat and stir in the sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds. Pour over shredded chicken and mix well. Season with more salt and pepper if it needs it.
6. Assemble sandwiches. Cut buns in half – toast if you like. Place a heaping spoonful of rainbow slaw on the bottom bun. Top that with a heaping spoonful of the pulled chicken. Pour some extra sauce over chicken and top with other half bun. Enjoy with plenty of napkins!
Click on the blue frog below to see what my fellow SRC Group A participants chose from their assigned blogs.
Tags: #BreaingBread, Arugula, Bacon, Bread Baking Society, Cheddar Cheese, Cheese, eggs, focaccia, Roasted Peppers, Yeast
There’s a new bread challenge in town. It’s called the Bread Baking Society (Twitter handle @Breaking_Bread – hashtag #BreakingBread), – founded by Lora from Cake Duchess and Shulie from Food Wanderings. This month the bread they asked everyone to bake is focaccia and of course, I wanted to take part. Thankfully I got it in on the last day, last minute, of the month. Once again, there was humidity, but not as bad as last week. But, no braiding or shaping of focaccia – just dimpling (awww) – so humidity foiled. Ha!
Of course, there was free creative reign, so the variety of focaccias linked up, sweet and savory, is pretty amazing, from sweet potato to southern charm.
I made a Focaccia McMuffin. I call it that because it’s composed of bacon, eggs and cheddar encased in dough (the Mcmuffin part). What makes it kind of cool is, the eggs are in focaccia wells. I scrunched up 6 large pieces of tin foil into 3-inch balls, coated each one generously with olive oil, then stuck them into the cheese and bacon filled dough before rising. When fully risen, I pressed them down again, and baked the focaccia for 20 or so minutes, then removed the tin foil balls – giving me perfect wells to crack 6 eggs into. I put the focaccia back in the oven for 8 to 10 more minutes, and voila, six perfectly cooked eggs in six bacon – cheese bread squares (when cut), per person.
Of course I had to make it pretty, so before baking the focaccia, I topped it with some roasted red peppers, arugula, more bacon – plus a few drizzles of olive oil. When done, the eggs were seasoned with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and chopped chives.
Finally, I used Nick Malgieri’s focaccia dough in this recipe, which Lora also used. But, due to the damn humidity, I had to add an extra cup of flour because the dough continued to suck up flour while basking in the free sauna the weather provided. I also took down the salt because of the bacon..bacon = salty. I’m sure Nick wouldn’t mind..he’s a pretty awesome pastry chef and guy, and he left a comment on THIS post back in 2010…thanks to Meaghan from The Decorated Cookie, alerting him to the post. Cool, huh?
I was pretty stoked since I’m such a fan girl when it comes to my favorite chefs. As you can see, I wrote a novel in response to his comment and it kind of makes me cringe. But, I won’t delete it because it was a genuine moment, and genuine moments can be embarrassing at times.
So, uh, make this focaccia if you can. Yes, it’s unusual, and yes, many Italians would probably gasp in horror at the site of it, but it’s really fun and delicious (this is all filler text since there used to be a story here.)
More filler. Not much to say. *twiddling thumbs*.
Bacon, Cheddar and ‘Eggs in Wells’ Focaccia
Basic focaccia recipe adapted from How to Bake, by Nick Malgieri, with my revisions
Copyright (c) Nick Malgieri 1995, All Rights Reserved
6 individual servings
1 1/3 cups warm tap water (about 110 degrees)
2 1/2 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour ( I ended up using 1 more cup due to humidity)
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
6 to 8 oz cheddar cheese, cubed
10 slices cooked bacon, chopped
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese plus 6 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese for the egg wells (1 tablespoon per well)
4 slices cooked bacon, chopped
1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded and sliced (optional, or add your favorite vegetable(s)*
arugula leaves (optional, or use your favorite greens)*
3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 medium or large eggs
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
*If you don’t want to add greens or veggies of any sort, top with extra bacon and cheese. Herbs would be nice too.
101/2 x 151/2-inch jelly roll and parchment paper
1. In a small bowl,water sprinkle the yeast over the water. Add the 3 tablespoons olive oil and stir.
2. In large bowl, combine the flour and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt; whisk together or mix together on low speed in your mixer.
3. Stir the yeast, water and olive oil into the flour and salt until you have a dry dough. Slowly add the 1 1/3 cup of water while mixing, until you have a soft, but slightly raggedy dough. You may or may not use all the water.
4. Place the dough in an oiled bowl. Cover and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
5. When dough has doubled, fold it onto itself, then flatten it on a floured board. Scatter the cheddar cheese cubes and 2 pieces of chopped bacon all over the flattened dough. Fold it over a few times, adding flour as needed. Use a bench scraper because you will run into stickiness. Keep folding and kneading until the bacon and cheese is disseminated throughout the dough evenly. If bacon and/or cheese pops out during kneading, just shove it back in. Let rest, covered for 5 to 10 minutes to relax the gluten.
6. While the dough is resting, oil the jelly roll pan, then cut a piece of parchment to fit. The oil will keep the parchment paper down. Flatten the ball of dough onto the parchment lined pan and spread it as best you can until it almost reaches all four corners. If it resists, let it rest a few minutes, then start pushing and spreading again. Tuck in any cheese or bacon that pops out.
7. Make 6 tin foil balls..about 3 to 4-inches each, and coat each one with olive or any oil, generously (I used spray olive oil) Press each tin foil ball into dough, deep..two on each row, equally apart.
8. Cover pan with oiled plastic wrap and let rise for 1 1/2 hours.
9. Prehaet oven to 425 degrees F. Once risen, press the foil balls down again (they rise with the dough), then dimple focaccia and drizzle with olive oil. Top with remaining chopped bacon, pepper strips, and arugula.
10. Bake at 425F for 20 minutes, then remove pan from oven..keeping oven at 425F, and pull out foil balls. Sprinkle a 1 tablespoon shredded cheddar cheese in each well. Crack each egg, one at a time, into a ramekin or small bowl, then slowly and carefully pour each egg into a well, until all six are filled.
11. Place pan back in the oven and bake for another 8-10 minutes, until the whites are cooked and the yolks are still jiggly, like a sunny-side up egg.
12. Remove pan from oven, sprinkle all over with remaining shredded cheddar cheese (the heat will melt it), and salt and pepper each egg. Sprinkle with chopped chives, if desired. Serve immediately, cutting the focaccia into 6 squares, each containing an egg. Gently reheat leftovers, as not to overcook the egg.
Tags: Chicken Breasts, Chicken Fingers, Chile Garlic Sauce, Cilantro, coconut, cooking, Dessicated Coconut, garlic, Ginger, Greek Yogurt, Lime, Panko, Soy Sauce
For this month’s Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned the blog, Edesia’s Notebook (love the name) authored and photographed by Lesa. For the first time since I joined, I didn’t have the urge to grab some gorgeous dessert, which Lesa has plenty of, and play with it. Instead, the same thought kept going through my head.
You don’t often see posts where I just make dinner, nothing fancy, nothing outrageous, nothing you would only make for a special occasion. It’s not that I don’t have a decent amount of simple recipes, but I just felt the need to cook dinner and blog it. I chose her Crunchy Lemon Chicken.
Of course, I ended up futzing with it, because I truly believe it’s nearly impossible for me not to futz with recipes. I cut each breast into strips, used limes instead of lemons, and added soy sauce and garlic to the marinade. I also added dessicated coconut to the panko bread crumbs and beat the eggs with coconut water for the breading station. Add to that a few other minor alterations, like the baking time and temperature, and there you have it.
Otherwise, it’s just dinner, and it was delicious. I think these are the crunchiest, most delicious baked chicken fingers I’ve ever had, and kids would go absolutely berserk over these. Just my completely unbiased opinion..I swear.
Even though they were flavorful enough as is, I decided to made a dip to go with them – what I call a garbage dip, where you rummage through your fridge and cabinets and just throw something together. It was interesting and tasty, (it looks kind of gross in the photos..like Thousand Island dressing that sat out too long, doesn’t it?), but, again, the chicken fingers had so much flavor, it really wasn’t needed.
That said, I hope you try these little delights of crunchy chicken, and I hope you enjoy them!
Crunchy Coconut Lime Chicken Strips or Bites
Adapted from and Inspired by Lesa from Edesia’s Notebook
Yields about 4 servings
2 limes, zested and juiced
1/4 cup light olive oil
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped finely
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 chicken breasts (About 1 lb) cut into 1-inch wide strips. Cut each strip in half to make ‘nuggets’.
1 1/2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
2/3 cup dessicated coconut shreds
3/4 cup flour
salt and pepper to season flour
2 eggs, beaten with 4 tablespoons of coconut water (you can use coconut milk if you can’t find coconut water)
Oil spray, doesn’t matter what kind
1. In a bowl, stir together lime juice, zest, light olive oil, ginger, light soy sauce, garlic and salt. Add the chicken strips and stir until they’re completely coated with the marinade. You can also pour the marinade with the chicken strips, into a ziplock bag, which is what I did. Marinate for 4 to 5 hours at the most..stirring the strips in the bowl of marinade or squeezing around the bag every hour to an hour and a half to insure even marinating.
2. Line a large baking sheet with foil sprayed lightly with oil. Mix the flour, salt and pepper in one bowl, the beaten eggs and coconut water in a second bowl, and the panko and dessicated coconut in a third bowl. Remove the chicken strips from the refrigerator. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
3. Lift up each chicken strip and shake off some of the marinade so it isn’t overly-saturated (I just ran two impeccably clean fingers down each strip, sliding off the extra marinade). Coat each chicken strip in flour, knocking off the excess, then dip and coat well in the egg mixture and then dredge it in the panko – dessicated coconut mixture, pressing it onto each strip. Place each chicken strip on the oiled baking sheet and continue until all chicken has been coated.
4. Lightly spray some oil on the breaded chicken strips, then bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. IMPORTANT – Do not let them sit on the baking sheet once out of the oven. Transfer them to a rack if not eating within a few minutes, or the bottoms will get soggy.
Spicy Yogurt Dip
1 cup greek yogurt
2 to 3 tablespoons Asian chile-garlic sauce
1 small handful cilantro leaves, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1. Mix all the ingredients together, then cover and refrigerate for a few hours to let the flavors blend.
If you get a chance, please click on the blue frog below to see all the amazing dishes recreated by Group A of The Secret Recipe Club. Also, click on over to Edesia’s Notebook for some fantastic sweet and savory recipes!
Tags: baking, banana bread, Chocolate, chocolate popovers, First Love, grated chocolate, peanut butter cheesecake, popovers, quick breads, Recipe
This is what I made for this month’s Daring Bakers Challenge..Popovers, but not just any popovers, popovers with flecks of chocolate in them. Cool, huh? Even though you can barely see the flecks until you split them open. Below was my original plan for this months Daring Baker Challenge. That original plan is now known as minor failure. I have a tendency to experiment at the last-minute..always confident that it’ll work out – no problem! More than half the time, there’s some kind of problem that I can either fix in time, or I end up making something else – quickly. I’ve always been a last minute person and I’d like to say I thrive under pressure, but I’d be lying. When it doesn’t work out the way I hoped it would..major potty mouth may ensue. My plan was to add chocolate chunks, then pipe peanut butter cheesecake batter from this recipe, into a really great banana bread batter. It worked as far as taste, texture and flavor went, but it sunk in the middle because I think I used too much peanut butter cheesecake batter, and frankly, it wasn’t aesthetically pleasing – which is pretty important when you’re a food blogger. BUT, I will have a refined recipe for it eventually. SO, when you have only a few hours to pull something off, something quick is your saving grace. What better than popovers? Honestly, who doesn’t love popovers? Not only are they easy to put together, but the dramatic appearance usually elicits oohs and aahs when you pull them from the oven. Just look at how tall and whimsical these are! There’s a supposed secret to getting them this tall and crazy poofy, well, two secrets really, maybe three – ok, four. One, baking powder – just a little bit. Two – bread flour instead of AP flour. Three – room temperature eggs and milk. Four – letting the batter rest an hour before filling and baking I usually use a simple formula of 1 cup AP flour, 1 cup milk, 3 eggs and a pinch of salt – foolproof, beautiful popovers..every.single.time. However, after trying this new recipe,, and seeing how some of my popovers did the crazy dance once they rose above the rims (maybe it was the chocolate?), has certainly made me want to use it again. It’s amazing how much higher they would have risen had I not added the chocolate. There are photos of the popovers at the linked recipe, so you can see how high.
NO IDEA. Use your imagination.
Another key to tall, crazy and dramatic popovers is giving them some interior drying time in the oven. You poke a tiny hole in the side of each popover (the bottom part – I call it the ‘stand’) to let the steam escape. If you don’t do this, they will eventually slump and the interior will be soggy. Once you pierce them, give them 5 to 10 more minutes in a low oven on a baking sheet to dry. They will now hold shape, no shlumping and no soggy interiors, just crispy on the outside, and fluffy on the inside with lots of wonderful air pockets. I froze some grated chocolate, tossed it in flour (shaking off the excess in a strainer), and added it to the batter just before I filled the wells of the pan. I love the slight speckled effect and the streaks of chocolate on the inside, but most importantly, they’re tasty – like pulling apart a pain au chocolate, with less chocolate (and a lot less butter!) Those little bits of chocolate dispersed throughout the fluffy interior and crispy, golden exterior, will make you really happy. The Daring Bakers’ February 2012 host was Lis (my wifeypoo). Lis stepped in last-minute and challenged us to create a quick bread we could call our own. She supplied us with a base recipe and shared some recipes she loves from various websites, encouraging us to build upon them and create new flavor profiles. That’s right up my culinary alley. I never fully follow a recipe. I served these with leftover vanilla bean cream cheese spread and fruit. You can serve them with whatever you want, or just eat as is. I wanted to eat them all. I didn’t. Shock. Chocolate Flecked Popovers 1 recipe for these popovers – dijon mustard omitted plus 2/3 cup grated or finely chopped chocolate, frozen, then tossed in flour, shaken in a strainer, and stirred into the batter. If you have a moment, please check out some fantastic quick breads created by other Daring Bakers members, by clicking on the links to their blogs, HERE. For some great quick bread recipes that Lis compiled for the challenge, click HERE.