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Sinkers or Floaters? The Secret to Fluffy and Airy Matzo Balls for your Matzo Ball Soup.

April 22, 2011

Matzo Ball Soup

There are few things more comforting than a bowl of homemade soup and one of my favorites is Matzo ball soup. It consists of matzo balls, a traditional Jewish dumpling made from matzo meal, chicken stock and vegetables. It can be simply described as a unfilled dumpling served in chicken soup, but a well prepared bowl is more than just the sum of its ingredients – it’s comfort food.

I had my first matzo ball soup at a friend’s Bar Mitzvah, they were two baseball sized balls proudly floating in a bowl of chicken broth. I will admit that at first glance it wasn’t much to look at, nor did it look too enticing and frankly I was concerned that the matzo balls would be really tough and bland. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the flavors chicken broth, parsley and chives, and how light and fluffy they were. Those are the floaters, they have tiny little air pockets making them super light and almost pillowy. On the flip side are the sinkers, they are the denser and heavier matzo balls, usually those are the ones served at diners. Unfortunately for me, the sinkers seem to be more popular in restaurants. So this passover, I am determined to make my own matzo ball soup the way I like them. Which brings me to my next question, how on earth do I get the matzo balls to be light and airy?

After reading up on a few traditional matzo ball recipes, I found out that it’s not hard to make them but it does take some time and care to get them light and fluffy. Depending on the recipe, the matzo balls can be solid and dense or light and fluffy, but the ingredients remain the same: well prepared chicken stock, matzo meal, eggs, and schmaltz (chicken fat- which is what gives the matzo balls its distinctive flavor).

The recipe can be modified to result in firmer matzo balls (which calls for a bit more oil and the use of chicken stock) and lighter matzo balls (using whipped egg whites to soft peaks and seltzer water). The secret is all in the process of mixing in the wet and dry ingredients. When you add the matzo meal into the wet ingredients you want to slowly sprinkle in the matzo meal and stir the mixture. This ensures that all the matzo meal is evenly distributed and no clumpage. Then you want to whip the egg whites to a soft peaks and fold it in to the matzo mixture. It is important to let the matzo mixture chill in the refrigerator for a few hours because when it’s first made the mixture is still pretty loose and you want it to set so that it will be easier to shape into balls and maintain its shape during the cooking.

Now the problem is that even though I’ve had my fair share of matzo ball soup, I’ve actually never made them before, I’ve only seen them being made from a box mix. So this is going to be a real adventure making my first matzo ball soup from scratch!

Matzo Ball Soup
adapted from the parsley thief
serves 8

Soup
2 qrt     store bought or homemade chicken stock
Meat from 1 whole chicken (reserved after making stock)
1 cup     chopped carrots
1 cup     chopped celery
1/4 cup     finely chopped fresh parsley

Matzo Balls
5 large     eggs, separated
1/4 cup     seltzer water
1/4 cup     chicken stock
1/4 cup     canola oil or chicken fat, melted {reserved after making stock}
1/2 cup     finely chopped fresh parsley
1 teasp     kosher salt
1 cup     matzo meal

For the matzo balls
1. In a large mixing bowl add the egg yolks, seltzer water, chicken stock, canola oil, parsley, salt and whisk until combined. Slowly sprinkle in the matzo meal and stir to combine. In a large bowl, add the egg whites and beat with an electric mixer until stiff. Fold the egg whites into the matzo mixture, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 5 hours and up to 24 hours. (I suggest making these the night before, the longer they are chilled the better flavors they will have)

Matzo Ball Soup

2. Bring  a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium heat.

3. Shape the matzo balls using an ice cream scoop, or two spoons (they should be the size of golf balls) and place them on a plate about 1 inch apart.

Matzo Ball Soup

4. Reduce the flame to low for a gentle simmer, or they will break apart. Wet your hands under running water so they are thoroughly wet, place a matzo ball in your palm and roll them into balls. Drop them into the simmering salted water one at a time. Cover the pot and cook for 30 minutes.

5. Using a slotted spoon, transfer them to a bowl until ready to use. The matzo balls can be made ahead and kept in a bowl, with a bit of stock to keep them from drying out. Note: Like dumplings, matzo balls soak up quite a bit of liquid as they cook so add more water if need be.

For the Soup, in a soup pot, bring the chicken stock to a boil. Add the carrots, and celery. Simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes. Shred the reserved chicken into bite size pieces and add into the soup. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Simmer for a few more minutes, just until the chicken is heated all the way through.

To serve, place a few matzo balls in a bowl, ladle the soup on top, garnish with chopped parsley and serve.

Printable Recipe

Matzo Ball Soup

I have to say that as a first timer I did a pretty decent job at these matzo balls, I mean they weren’t the prettiest things in the world but they were definitely fluffy and light and were very flavorful. If you have the time, try making your own chicken stock is totally worth the effort because it adds so much more flavor to the soup and it has far less sodium than store bought ones.

Cheers & until next time happy passover.

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Chive Matzo Brei for a Pre-Passover Brunch

April 17, 2011

Chive Matzo Brei

Growing up in the suburbs of Washington D.C., I  was surrounded by a large Jewish community. Every Sunday as we drove off to Chinese school my Jewish friends and neighbors would be walking to Hebrew school. When my friends turned 13 I had the pleasure of attending their Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, which I might add was a real treat because not only was there a beautiful ceremony there was always an epic party and amazing traditional Jewish food. But sadly, even though I was exposed to the Jewish culture I feel like I know little to nothing about their cuisine.

This year I decided to do a learn a few Passover recipes, I’ve always been curious about what the dietary restrictions were for Passover. In short, I found that the most significant observance relating to Passover involves the removal of chametz from the house. This signifies the Jews leaving Egypt in a hurry and not having the time to let bread rise, it also symbolizes the removal of arrogance from their souls. Chametz includes anything made from the five major grains, white, rye, barley, oats and spelt, that has not been completely cooked within 18 minutes after coming into contact with water. The grain that can be eaten during Passover is called matzo, it is a unleavened bread made from flour and water and cooked very quickly. I was surprised by the versatility of matzo, it comes is a variety of textures for cooking: matzo flour (finely ground for cakes and cookies), matzo meal (coarsely ground, used as bread crumb substitute and for making matzo ball soup), matzo fearful (little chunks, a noodle or bread substitute), and full-sized matzo sheets.

You can find prepared matzo sheets at your local grocery store in the kosher section. I tried 2 different brands: Streit’s Lightly Salted Matzo and Manischewitz Unsalted Matzo. I preferred the Streit’s matzo sheets, it had good flavor and a nice crispy crunch, without the cardboard texture.

It was apparent to me that matzo is used in almost every Passover recipe, so I wanted make a dish that highlighted this crispy cracker for my Passover brunch. One of my favorite preparation of matzo is fried matzo also known as matzo brie. It is a common dish Jewish kids grew up eating at home and one that I had many times at my friends’ house on a Sunday morning after a sleepover. The preparation is simple: the matzo is dampened, broken into smaller pieces mixed with eggs and fried. However, you can add a variety of other ingredients to make it more flavorful such as onions, shallots, spinach, asparagus or chives. I used chives. because they are a sweeter, and milder version of an onion so it’s not as pungent. I love sauteed chives in my scrambled eggs, so why not add it to my Matzo brie.

Matzo Brei
adapted from Jewish Home Cooking by Arthur Swartz
serves 2

3 tbsp chives (chopped thin)
3 matzo sheets
8 cups boiling water
4 eggs
2 tbsp butter
1/4 teasp salt
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Wash the chives, dice thin and reserve.

2. Into a colander set in your sink, break the matzo into 1-inch pieces. Very slowly, pour the boiling water over the matzo, wetting it down, then let it stand for a few minutes to drain and plump up.

3. In a bowl, beat the eggs together with the salt. Add the wet matzo and mix well.

4. In a 10-inch skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Swirl the butter around the skillet, and add the chives. Immediately turn the heat down to medium-low and stir-fry briefly until fragrant. Spread the chives evenly on the skillet and add the egg-matzo mixture. *Note: Slow cooking the eggs gives them a more custard-like consistency and will prevent them from over cooking

5. When the bottom of the mixture starts to set, break it up by pushing them apart with a spatula. Once the bottom is cooked, gently flip the matzo-mixture over. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes on the other side, until the matzo brei is evenly cooked and is as moist (or dry) as you like.

6. Serve hot, with some freshly ground pepper.

Printable Recipe

Matzo Brei and Avocado Spread

I  like my matzo brie nice and browned so I let it cook for a few minutes longer. It had a great bite to it, the texture is like a cross between a frittata and scrambled eggs. This dish took all of 20 minutes to prepare and cook, so you really have no excuse of not trying this out. If you don’t like chives, substitute it with some sauteed onions, or shallots. And as a little extra side, I made an Israeli avocado spread to go with some toasted salt and pepper matzo. (Fret not, I will post this recipe later this week! )

Cheers & until next time Happy Passover!

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Dashi

April 16, 2011

Dashi

Dashi
adapted from Asian Supper
yields: 2 1/2 quarts of dashi

2 square pieces   kombu (4-inches)
2 1/2 qrt            water
1/2 oz                bonito flakes (katsuobushi), about 2 cups

Dashi Ingredients

1. Put the kombu and water in a 4-quart saucepan, and soak for 30 minutes.
2. Set the saucepan over medium heat until the water reaches 150 to 160 degrees F and small bubbles appear around the sides of the pot, 9 to 10 minutes.

Soaking Kombu

3. Remove the kombu from the pot. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil, 5 to 6 minutes.
4. Add the bonito flakes to the water and remove from heat. Let sit for 5 minutes, until the flakes sink to the bottom.

Soaking Bonito Flakes

5. Skim the foam off the top, then strain the broth using a cheesecloth or a fine sieve.

Straining Dashi Stock

6. Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Use within 1 week or freeze for up to a month.
*Note: The first brew is called ichiban dashi. You can repeat the process with the same amount of water to make niban dashi, or second brew, which will be weaker tasting. Add a bit more fresh katsuobushi. Generally this weaker tasting broth is not used for soups but for simmered dishes.

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Continuing My Japanese Street Festival at Home with Broiled Unagi Donburi

April 13, 2011

Japanese Broiled Eel Rice Bowl 03

Days after my feast at the Japanese street festival I am still left with an insane craving for another bowl unagi donburi. Donburi literally means “bowl”, it is usually a Japanese “rice bowl dish” consisting of fish, meat, or vegetables served over white rice topped with the simmering sauce. In this case an unagi donburi is a grilled eel on white rice served in a bowl.

Unagi is a freshwater eel, not only is it prized for it’s flavor,  it is also high in protein, calcium and full of vitamins; it has been known to give people stamina. Traditionally, unagi is an expensive delicacy in Japan usually eaten during the summer on the “Day of the Ox” to symbolize strength and vitality for the rest of the year.

The most common preparation of unagi is called “unagi no kabayaki”. The eel is first grilled over charcoal, steamed to remove the excess fat, basted with a sweetish sauce and finally grilled or broiled a second time. The texture of a well prepared unagi is more like a pate, it has a crispy exterior but the meat is succulent and tender. The ingredients of the sweet basting sauce is important to the final flavor of the eel, every cook/restaurant has their own secret recipe. The quality of the charcoal also plays a key role in creating the smoky flavor of the eel.

The process of preparing the unagi no kabayaki is difficult and time consuming. Usually, this is a dish that I will order at a Japanese restaurant but recently I discovered that you can buy frozen vacuum packaged unagi no kabayaki in Asian markets. It will usually come in a package looking like this. It’s definitely nothing like the fresh unagi that you get in a restaurant but I think this particular brand does a pretty good job of keeping the integrity of the fish and has great flavor. The best way to use the frozen unary eel is to defrost the unagi package in the refrigerator. Please do not leave it out on your counter all day to defrost. I did that once and the eel ended up tasting like mush, and was kind of stinky. It might take 5 to 6 hours but it’s worth the wait. The unagi is cooked already so all you have to do once it’s defrosted is broil the eel to get that crispy exterior texture. Broiling is simple: crank up the broiler up to 500 degrees F, place the eel on the highest rack, and broil for a few minutes of both sides.

The best part about making the unagi rice bowl with frozen unagi is that you can store the frozen package in your freezer for up to three months. It takes no time at all to prepare,  so you can have it whenever you want. . All you need to do is cook up some rice, and broil the unagi. Done and done. Now if you are like me and love a fried egg on top of anything and everything, this is perfect time to throw one in.  The runny yolk from the egg adds a nice creamy texture to every bite, and infused with the sweet basting sauce makes the rice even more luscious. If you have never had unagi donburi, I highly recommend you try this recipe!

Cheers and until next time happy broiling!

Japanese Broiled Eel Rice Bowl 02

Broiled Unagi Donburi (Japanese Broiled Eel Rice Bowl)
1 package frozen unagi eel

Kabayaki Sauce
1/2 cup    soy sauce
1/2 cup    mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)
3 tbsp       sugar

Steamed White Rice
adapted from epicurious
1 cup    jasmine rice
1 1/2    cups water

Fried Egg
2    eggs
2    tbsp oil
salt and pepper

1. For the Kabayaki Sauce: In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir together the Kabayaki Sauce ingredients. When the sauce starts to bubble, immediately turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for 4 to 5 minutes. The consistency should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon but still run off, be careful not to over cook as the sauce can get too thick very quickly. If it does become too thick, just add a tablespoon of water at a time.

2. For the steamed rice: Wash the rice in several changes of cold water in a bowl until the water runs clear, then pour out the water. Combine with the 1 1/2 cup of water in a 2 quart saucepan. Bring it to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cook, covered, until rice is tender and water has been absorbed, 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for at least 10 minutes. Fluff with fork

3. For the frozen unagi eel: Turn your broiler on and set to 500 degrees F. Line a broiler pan with aluminum foil. Take the unagi out of the package and place it on the foil. Broil unagi the skin side first for a few minutes, turn over and broil the other side for a few minutes.

4. for the fried egg: Place a small non-stick frying pan over medium heat, add the oil, making sure it does not sizzle.  When you start to see a light haze over the pan, crack the egg into a small bowl, gently slide the egg into the frying pan and cover with a lid. Cook for about 5 minutes until the egg whites solidify and the bottoms are light brown and crispy. When your egg is done, sprinkle with freshly cracked black pepper and salt.

5. To serve: fill a bowl with the steamed rice, place the broiled unagi and fried egg on top and drizzle with Kabayaki sauce.

Printable Recipe

Japanese Broiled Eel Rice Bowl 01

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Day of Fun at the Annual Sakura Matsuri- Japanese Street Festival in Washington DC

April 10, 2011

Kimono

I grew up in the Washington DC area and every year my mom will take my yi-po po and I to the Cherry Blossom Festival. I always look forward to the day because we watch the parade on tv, then head out into the city to the Japanese street festival where I stuff myself full of Japanese food then we end the day at a Japanese tea house. Since I moved away for college I have missed the festival for the past few years, and finally this year I’m in D.C during the height of the Cherry Blossom season.

This past weekend was the Annual Sakura Matsuri- Japanese Street Festival hosted by The Japan-America Society of Washington D.C. It’s a street festival that stretches for six blocks through downtown DC. Over 150,000 tourists attend from all over the world and this year a large portion of the proceeds will be donated to the earthquake and tsunami relief effort in Japan. The festival showcases anything and everything Japanese. There are live performances such as music, dance and martial arts. A variety of demonstrations of Japanese arts and culture, tons of Japanese vendors selling kimonos, paintings, and anime collectables. And best of all, there are over 15 Japanese restaurants and vendors cooking and selling their best dishes.

This is a fun filled event for me because I get to do two of my favorite things, people watch and eat. The streets were crowded with kids and adults dressed up as their favorite anime characters. The best part of my day was witnessing a fight almost break out between a life size Pikachu and Hello Kitty as they were while standing in line waiting for my fried tofu. Hello Kitty was clearly NOT happy when Pikachu and his buddy Ash tried to cut in line, so her solution was to slap him in the face with her red purse. Classic.

Now onto the food, there were so many dishes offered at every stand that I didn’t even know where to start, so I just dove right in and worked my way down the street vendor after vendor. (Just in case you’re concerned about my health and possible over consumption in one day, I was with family and they were more than happy to eat anything I couldn’t finish.) I started with two appetizers, the deep fried tofu with shaved bonito flakes, dressed with a mayonnaise aioli and some sort of thickened sauce. The tofu was piping hot when I got it and super crispy,  the mayo aioli added a unexpected creaminess to the crispy texture.

Deep Fried Tofu

Then I worked my way through the grilled squid with a Teriyaki glaze, it was perfectly tender. I’ll be honest, the tentacles were the best part; it had an burst of “sea” flavor, what the chinese refer to as “xian wei.” I watched the chef as he worked the grill, the squid was grilled on one side for a few minutes, flipped once, brushed with the glaze and taken off the grill. The chef beside him was making scallion pancakes that also looked really tempting, but I was done with round 1 of appetizers at that point.

Grilled Squid

Grilled Squid

Grill Cooks

Onto the main course, I got a bowl of broiled eel (unagi) over white rice topped with a sweet sauce. This is one of my favorite Japanese dishes, the eel is marinated in a sweet sauce of dashi, miring, sake and soy sauce then broiled. The fish itself is full of flavor that it needs nothing but bed of white rice, but it’s even better with a fried egg on top… (must not get too greedy)

Broiled Unagi Rice Bowl

Speaking of being greedy, anytime I see a slow braised beef dish I just can’t help myself. Even though my stomach was about to explode, I got the Gyu Don, a bowl of rice topped with beef and onion simmered in a sauce flavored with dashi, mirin and sake served with a small side of pickled ginger, beni shoga. The beef melted in my mouth and the rice soaked in the broth was soft and chewy.

Gyu Don

There were a few other dishes that caught my eye. The Yakisoba, which is a kind of Japanese fried noodle sautéed with veggies and yakisoba sauce. And a scallion pancake wrap with teriyaki chicken and vegetable filling. The teriyaki chicken grill was seriously calling my name… but I quickly moved on.

Teryiaki Chicken

I ended my festivities with a Taiyaki, a fish-shaped cake with a red bean paste filling. The cook was more than happy to pose for the photo with the Taiyaki and even offered one to me. Perfect end to my day.

Taiyaki Cook

All in all a successful day, I left the Sakura Matsuri Street Festival with a full belly and craving for more of the broiled eel with rice so stay tuned… I’m 99.99% sure I’m going to make it for brunch this week.

Cheers and until next time happy Cheery Blossom!

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Fulfilling My Friend’s Craving: Oven Fried Chicken and Waffles

April 4, 2011

Chicken and Waffles

I’ve started to notice that the conversations I have with my friends often end with food; usually it is one of us trying to make the other jealous with what we’re eating, asking what we should have for dinner or sharing food porn pictures. The result of these banters is usually an insane craving for whatever we were just talking about. I have absolutely no idea how this topic came up but one of my good friends, Anna, asked me what my last supper would be. I quickly answered with an extravagant 5 course menu, which having said it out loud just made me sound pretentious and realize that it needs a bit of revision. Anna, on the other hand, replied with a short list of delicious comfort foods that is close to her heart. The one that stuck out to me was Fried Chicken and Biscuits, my mouth immediately started to water and memories of my first Fried Chicken and Waffle started to flood my thoughts.

My first fried chicken and waffle was from this shack on the side of the highway on the drive back from Rehoboth Beach. It barely had a sign out front, there were 3 picnic tables set up and my meal was served in a brown bag. Even though I have never been able to find the “restaurant” again, I still dream about the crispy-juicy fried chicken, and thick-fluffy waffles. The skin of the chicken was so crispy that when you bite down I’m almost positive that people next to me can hear the crunch and the meat was perfectly tender and juicy. The waffle was light and airy, unlike the dense and heavy ones we are accustomed to. Now when the Fried chicken and waffles are this good I usually omit the syrup, but I couldn’t help myself but to pour a glug-ful over my last bite, and it was heavenly.

I wanted to share my experience with my friend, Anna, I know it wasn’t going to be the same as fried chicken and biscuits but it was close enough and I needed to satisfy MY craving too, right!? So I set out to find the perfect fried chicken and waffles recipe that would come close to what I had. I have been hearing for some time that Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc serves the best Fried Chicken and Waffles, after doing some research I concluded that the chicken must be soaked in a brine overnight to gain even more flavor and to maintain its juiciness after the cooking process. It also needs to undergo a double dredging to get that super crispy skin. I also baked the “fried” chicken, I know it is not the same and I may be bastardizing the traditional fried chicken but I wanted to prove oven baked can be almost if not just as good as fried and it’s healthier.

The traditional waffle batter is just a thicker version of a pancake batter, usually you mix the eggs, butter and buttermilk and add to the dry ingredients. I have found that that results in a denser waffle, so I took the extra step and separated the eggs. The egg yolks are first mixed in the with wet ingredients, added to the dry ingredients, then the egg whites are whisked until it forms stiff peaks and folded into the batter. This will unsure a light, airy and perfectly fluffy waffle! The fried chicken has such a crispy and firm texture already that you really want the waffle to have a contrasting texture. Seriously, try it out I promise you wont regret the few extra steps!!

Oven Fried Chicken
adapted from momofukufor2
makes 8 pieces

Brine
1/2 gallon water
1/2 cup     kosher salt
1/8 cup     honey
6                bay leaves
1/2 head  of garlic, cut horizontally
1 tbsp       black peppercorns
1/4 of a    bunch of thyme sprigs
1/4 of a    bunch of flat leafed parsley sprigs
Grated zest and juice of 2 large lemons

Coating
2 cups     all purpose flour
1 cup       cornmeal
1/4 cup   garlic powder
1/4 cup   onion powder
1 tbsp      paprika
1 tbsp      cayenne
3 teasp    kosher salt
1 teasp    freshly ground black pepper

2 cups     buttermilk

Garnish
1 bunch  flat leaf parsley
3 cups    canola oil for frying
sea salt

1. For the brine: combine all the ingredients in a large pot, cover, and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring to dissolve the salt. Remove from the heat and cool completely before using.

2. Rinse the chickens and place the chickens in the cold brine and refrigerate overnight or for up to 12 hours. Remove the chicken from the brine, rinse and pat the chickens dry, removing any herbs or spices sticking to the skin. Let the chickens come to room temperature outside of the fridge, 1-2 hours.

3. Mix the coating ingredients together in a bowl, transfer half to brown paper bag and set up a dipping station: chicken, coating, buttermilk, paper bag of coating, cooling rack.

Chicken Dredge

4. Dip each piece of chicken into the coating, patting off the excess, then into the buttermilk and into the paper bag coating. Shake to coat the chicken, place the chicken on a cooling rack.

5. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Then take the chicken out of the oven and brush with oil and put them back in oven to cook for another 20 minutes.

6. Let the chicken rest for a few minutes to redistribute its juices and cool slightly.

7. While the chicken rests, heat the oil in a sauce pan on medium low heat to 300 degrees F and add the parsley leaves to the hot oil and let them cook and crisp for a few seconds. Remove the parsley, put them on paper towels to drain the excess oil and sprinkle with a little sea salt.

Buttermilk Waffles
adapted from sugar crafter
makes 8 waffles

3 large eggs,  separated
1 3/4 cups      buttermilk
1 stick             butter, melted
1/2 teasp       vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups     All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 teasp    baking powder
1 teasp           baking soda
1/2 teasp       salt
1/4 cup          sugar

1. Preheat the waffle maker to medium-high heat, and preheat your oven to 200 degrees (for keeping the cooked waffles warm). In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla until well-blended.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar.

Waffle Ingredients

3. Add the egg yolk mixture into the flour mixture and whisk until smooth, do not over mix. In another bowl, whisk the egg white until stiff peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the batter.

Whipped Egg Whites

Fold in the Egg Whites

4. Using a soup ladle, spoon a ladle full of batter into the waffle maker and close the lid. Cook until light golden brown about 5-6 minutes. Repeat until you run out of batter. Transfer the finished waffles to a cool rack stacked on to baking sheet, and place them in the oven to keep warm until you are ready to serve them.

To assemble the Chicken & Waffles: starting with the waffles, stack a piece of chicken on top of the waffle then garnish with the fried parsley.

Printable Recipe

Chicken and Waffles

Luckily for Anna, I was smart enough to set aside a separate portion before my friends and family demolished the 2 large batches I had made. I brought it over to her house the day after it was made and to my surprise even after reheating in the oven the chicken remained crispy and still juicy and the waffles maintained it’s bite! I watched as Anna dove into her share, of course I quickly asked her what she thought. And after a long pause after her first bite, I saw the biggest smile and that’s all the answer I needed.

Chicken and Waffles with Beer!

Cheers and until next time happy brunchin’
-B

P.S- Since I was posed this question I would love to know what YOUR last supper would be?

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Mochi! What a Delicious Sticky Mess

March 31, 2011

Mochi

I love ending my meals with something sweet, so it’s no different when it comes to brunch. I was really in the mood for something warm and chewy but nothing too heavy. After my incredibly filling Japanese breakfast I wanted to end my morning with a traditional Japanese dessert, the red bean daifuku commonly known as mochi.

The daifuku is a traditional Japanese sweet treat made with mochi dough and stuffed with a sweet filling such as red bean paste. The easiest way of making the mochi dough is by using prepared sweet rice flour, Mochiko, mixed with water and cooked until it becomes opaque and elastic. Then the sticky dough is dusted heavily with cornstarch and powdered sugar, filled and formed into various shapes. The most important part about morphing these little sticky dough balls is that you HAVE to make sure that your hands and the balls are generously covered with the cornstarch mixture otherwise you are just going to end up with a gooey sticky mess.

You can stuff mochi dough with all sorts of different fillings such as green bean paste, fruits and even ice cream. I just so happen to have Anko, red bean paste, in my fridge. So red bean daifuku it is! The flavors are light, and not overly sweet. I like my mochi warm, while the dough is still soft and chewy and the inside filling is slightly cold; It creates a nice contrast in textures. This sweet treat is the perfect end to my breakfast.

Red Bean Daifuku
adapted from Kitchen Meditation

1 box       mochiko (3 cups)
2 cups     white sugar
3 cups     water
2 drops   rice wine vinegar
2 cups     corn starch
2 cups     powdered sugar
1 cup       anko (red bean paste)

1. In a microwavable large glass bowl, mix together the mochiko,  granulated sugar, and vinegar until all lumps are gone. Microwave uncovered for two minutes. Mix (preferably with chopsticks), and then microwave for another two minutes. Mix again, the mixture should be getting firmer. Microwave for another minute, mix, and then microwave in thirty second increments and mix as it gets hotter and more elastic. The mochi dough will look opaque and feel like a sticky blob when it is done.

2. Allow the dough to cool on the counter so you can handle it. While it cools, form your red bean paste into marble sized balls. In a flat dish, mix together the corn starch and powdered sugar. The cornstarch/powdered sugar mixture is KEY, it will dampen the stickiness of the mochi dough.

3. Dust your hands with the cornstarch mixture and continue to do so as you go along. When the dough has cooled, scoop a golfball size piece of dough and drop it into the cornstarch mixture. Lightly coat the the outside of the dough, roll the dough into a ball, then flatten to form a 3 inch circle.

4. Place the red bean paste in the center and pinch the edges together to seal. Roll the ball in the cornstarch mixture again, then roll between the palms of your hands to create and nice ball shape. Repeat until finished.

*Note: Mochi can be left at room temperature for a few days or refrigerated for longer keeping.

Printable Recipe

Mochi

This being my first time making daifuku I was not so pleasantly surprised by how sticky the dough is so they don’t look too attractive but I was told by my Japanese friend that the flavors are pretty close to the traditional ones!! If you don’t believe me try the recipe and then go out to your nearest Asian market like an H Mart and buy one of their Mochi cakes and compare for yourself and let me know what you think!

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