Friday, August 27, 2010

Momofuku Pork Buns

Assembling the ingredients for the buns is what takes the longest.  But, with the pork belly roasted, the buns made and steamed and the cucumber pickled, all you need is some store-bought hoisin sauce and sriracha sauce. 

Niall's vegetarian version (the lower bun in the photo above) had all the ingredients except the pork belly.  Instead, he had halloumi cheese grilled with maple syrup, which gave the cheese a nice brown and crispy shell.

Momofuku Pork Belly Ssäm with Mustard Seed Sauce

The pork belly ssäm photo didn't turn out, it was too blurry.  But trust me, we did have this recipe with the pork.  However, Niall had it with Halloumi to make it vegetarian.  (And so did I.  I liked the cheese substitute almost as much as the pork.)  What made it for me was the mustard seed sauce.  It's a little pickled cucumber, a few pickled mustard seeds, mayo, two kinds of mustard and green onions.  Fantastic!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Momofuku Ginger Scallion Sauce and Noodles

This was another easy vegetarian recipe.  And who knew a bunch of scallions+ginger+oil, soy sauce, vinegar and salt could be so tasty?  I bought so many green onions I thought I'd never use them all.  I was wrong.

And so much ginger.

But the scallion sauce really does make so many things taste better.  And adding the sauce to pickled cucumbers, bamboo shoots and noodles made a tasty (yet mostly green) meal.

Momofuku Vinegar Pickles

Brigham suggested pickling like crazy in order to start making Momofuku recipes, and he was right.  I started with cucumbers, cabbage and chilies.  Then moved on to mustard seeds and shiitake mushrooms.  The vegetables pickle so quickly and I had no idea how nice they'd make everything taste.

Momofuku Stewed Bamboo Shoots

Canned bamboo shoots + a pickled chili + soy sauce + a few other things=delicious.  I would eat this plain, and have.  Canned bamboo shoots are suddenly becoming a kitchen staple. 

Momofuku Roasted Onions

Did you know that you can cook onions for 50 minutes?  I didn't.  And I had no idea they'd be so delicious. 

Also, since it's just onions, salt and oil it's an easy vegetarian recipe.  And they're so good on so many things!  We've had them in noodles and soup and a sandwich in the last 24 hours!

Momofuku Roasted Rice Cakes (Noodles)

What?  Yeah, these are not rice cakes.  I could not find rice cakes.  I've looked all over Cardiff.  The closest I have been able to find so far is roasted rice noodles.  And they're pretty good.  Niall loved this one.  He kept talking about how it was sweet and savory and salty and so good.  And then wanted more.  It's that Korean Red Dragon Sauce

It was easy to make vegetarian.   Rather than using the meat ramen broth, I used a vegetarian one (from an instant ramen packet we got at one of the Asian grocery stores.)  Otherwise it was ready made for Niall!

Momofuku Korean Red Dragon Sauce

This sauce is good.  Good like the kind of sauce I like to eat on its own.  What makes it for me is the ssamjang (the a is supposed to have two dots over it but I'm rubbish at adding those things), the fermented bean and chile sauce.  At least that's what the guy at the Asian grocery store told me that's what this is.  I wish I would have bought another container!

Momofuku Pork Belly

The final product may not look pretty but I did try on this one.  I have no idea about pork belly, whether I got a good piece, how it was supposed to turn out, etc.  I was very surprised at how fatty the cut was.  Maybe that's the nature of the beast?  Also, I have never been good at carving meat.  And this was no exception.  But despite my lack of skills this was really tasty.

Here's the pork belly before I cut it.  The rub was salt and sugar and the result was savory, sweet and salty.  In an effort to make something for Niall to have on his "pork"  bun, we decided to use halloumi cheese.

Halloumi is so delicious and salty.  And when it's fried in a dry pan it crisps up nicely.  To give it a bit of sweet I added a little maple syrup to the cheese as it fried. 

Momofuku Steamed Buns

I've hardly had steamed buns, so it was really fun to make these because I wasn't sure how they were supposed to turn out!  Even when they had finished steaming I wasn't sure they were done.

The recipe made a dough that was very easy (not sticky) work with.  Dividing the dough into 50 different pieces was not hard because the dough was so easy to handle.  I used butter instead of rendered pork fat so Niall could eat as many as he liked.

And rolling out the buns wasn't too hard either.

I tried steaming them in a steamer and on the stove.  The stove steamer worked much better!  We ended up steaming, cooling and freezing most of the buns.

Momofuku Cherry Tomato Salad

The cherry tomato salad was another Momofuku recipe that comes vegetarian friendly.  The local vegetable stand had beautiful red tomatoes, but no other colors so it was straight red.  The cookbook talks about a version using deep-fried tofu, so we threw that in.

I loved how easily the tomatoes peeled after blanching for 10 seconds.  And the peeled tomatoes tasted delicious!  (And leaving a few tomatoes unpeeled was a nice contrast.)

Momofuku Slow-Poached Eggs

Eggs.  They fit Niall's diet, so they're one of the first things to cook.  It was kind of crazy to cook these eggs for 40 minutes, crack them, and have them slide out of the shell.  I'm not sure if they turned out like they were supposed to, but I liked them.  They're the first non-scrambled eggs I've had in about 20 years.  Mixed into ramen it didn't bother me (like most runny eggs do.)

I used our biggest pan and put the eggs on a steamer.  It took AGES to slowly heat the pot to 140 degrees F but because it took so long it wasn't hard to keep the temperature constant.  The candy thermometer was so helpful to monitor the heat.

Vegetarian Fish Sauce

A few of the recipes in the Momofuku cookbook call for fish sauce.  In the past we've substitute soy sauce but at Niall's suggestions I made this version of Veggie Fish Sauce,  found on Chowhound.  I am reposting the recipe that's found a few replies into the thread, with minor modifications.

2 sheets nori (dried seaweed)
4 cups water
3 cloves garlic (smashed but not minced)
1 1/2 Tablespoons Szechwan peppercorns
1/2  cup soy sauce
4 teaspoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground garlic
1/4 teaspoon chili powder

In a large bowl, add the nori and water

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add the other ingredients and stir.  Bring to a boil, turn heat down to medium and simmer for 30 minutes.   Adjust the salt level by adding water and allow to cool.  Strain (through cheesecloth and a strainer) and then put in a bottle. 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Momofuku Experiment

Remember how I mentioned that Brigham loves Momofuku (the restaurant group based in the East Village in New York City)?  And how Niall is really interested in Momofuku's food and wants to try as much as possible?  But we didn't eat there when we went to NYC because it's not super vegetarian friendly?  It's okay if you don't.

But, anyway, in an attempt to learn more about cooking Asian food and making it so Niall can eat it, we're embarking on an experiment.

Step One.  Get the Momofuku cookbook.  Done.  It hasn't been released in the UK yet but Niall got the US version for Father's Day.

Step Two.  Read the book and try and try to get as many of the commonly used ingredients to have on hand.  I've read most of the book and yeah, there's meat in almost everything.  (Mmm...pork.)  After hitting up four Asian stores, three butchers and spending about 60 pounds I think we have enough of the ingredients to give this a go.

It was really interesting browsing the different Asian markets trying to find the ingredients.  I'm such a novice with making Asian food.  A few things we had on hand or we've bought before.  But the majority of the ingredients neither Niall nor I have ever used (or seen).  And most often I ended up having to ask the store clerk for help and then found out what I wanted was right in front of my face.

In case you're interested, here's the checklist I've been using:
  • Flour and water lo mein noodles
  • Rice Vinegar
  • Kosher salt
  • Pork belly (skinless)
  • Nori (the dried seaweed commonly used to roll sushi)
  • Scallions
  • Bamboo shoots (canned)
  • Mirin (rice wine)
  • Meaty pork bones (mostly neck)
  • Konbu (Japanese kelp, dried in flat sheets)
  • Dried Shiitake mushrooms
  • Cheesecloth (okay, this is material and not an ingredient, but I still need it)
  • Sake (Japanese rice spirit)
  • Usukuchi (light soy sauce)
  • Dried scallions (I'm hoping drying fresh scallions is good enough)
  • Katsuo-bushi (dried fish flakes)
  • Grapeseed oil (I still don't have this)
  • Sherry vinegar (I don't have this either!)
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Sesame seeds
  • Mochi/rice cake sticks (frozen-in long tubes)
  • Ssamjang sauce (fermented bean and chili sauce)
  • Mustard seeds
  • Kochukaru (korean chile powder)
  • Fish sauce
  • Sriracha
  • Denjang (Korean fermented bean pate)
  • Shiro (white) Miso  (I'm hoping this means the soup, otherwise I'm not sure)
  • Coriander seeds
  • Szechuan peppercorns
  • Kewpie mayo
Step Three.  Start making the recipes from the book, as closely as possible, including the meat.  Please could you come by for dinner so I don't have to eat all the meat alone?

Step Four.  Once I have a vague idea (hey, the best I can do with my cooking skills) of what some of the sauces and recipes are taste like then we can try making vegetarian versions inspired by the cookbook.  Heaven knows we have enough ingredients to do some experimenting.

So, yeah.  That's the experiment.  Wish us luck.  Hopefully Niall will eventually get to eat something.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Gnocchi and Creamy Marinara

I've never made gnocchi.  I have only eaten it a couple of times, so I don't even know the difference between good and bad gnocchi.  But it was raining today (so I didn't want to go out to the store) and we had a lot of potatoes, so I decided to give gnocchi a go.  I followed the instructions from Italyum.  It worked really well, but made a lot so we froze the leftover gnocchi.  (Uncooked, placed them individually on a cookie sheet and then put them in the freezer.  Once frozen we put them in a plastic bag.)  It was kind of labor intensive, but fun.  I think it took about an hour and a half from start to finish.


6 medium size potatoes
1 egg

Marinara Sauce
3 fresh tomatoes
1 can plum tomatoes
1 medium sized zucchini, cut into small pieces
1/2 green pepper (washed and seeds removed)
2 small chilies
sea salt to taste
5 clove garlic
1/2 cup single cream (half and half)
Basil to taste (I used dried)

Wash the potatoes and put them (whole) in a large pot, covered with water.  Bring to boil.  While the potatoes are boiling, place all the marinara ingredients except the cream in a blender and puree until smooth.  Pour the sauce into a saucepan and simmer (I simmered the sauce about 80 minutes until the gnocchi was ready to eat.)

When the potatoes are soft and the skin comes off easily (I boiled the potatoes for about 35 minutes), remove from the heat and rinse with cold water until they can be handled.  Remove the skin from each potato.

Mash the potatoes.  (I washed the pot I boiled them in and used that.)

Get a large piece of parchment paper, if you're like me and don't like wiping a lot of flour off the counter.  If you don't mind the mess then skip this step.

Put about 2 cups of flour on the parchment paper (or directly on the counter) and put the mashed potatoes on top.  In a small container, crack the egg and whisk it.

This is where it gets messy.  Add half the beaten egg to the potatoes and start kneading the flour into the potatoes.  Keep kneading the dough and adding more flour (I found this super messy and had Niall add the flour) until the dough is smooth, not sticky.  It took me about ten minutes to get to this point.  (I hope I didn't overwork the dough.)  You can use the egg for something else (like a quarter batch of chocolate chip cookies.)

Wash your hands and get a big pot of water on the stove, with plenty of salt, and bring it to a rolling boil while you roll and cut the gnocchi.

Flour a knife (dip it in flour so it doesn't stick to the dough) and cut the dough into five or six segments.

On a floured surface, take a segment and roll into into a ball.  Then continue rolling the dough until it makes a long "snake"...for lack of a better word!  Per the instructions, I rolled until the dough it was about as thick as my thumb.  Then with a floured knife cut the dough into one-inch pieces.

If you're like me and have no pasta making equipment, you can roll the dough with a fork to get ridges.

Drop the gnocchi into the boiling pot of water.  Once the gnocchi float to the top take them out of the water with a slotted spoon.

Place the gnocchi on a flat surface so they don't stick together.  (On the first attempt I put a bunch of gnocchi into a bowl and they stuck together.  There's probably some neat trick to get around this problem but I'm a novice.)

Stir the cream into the marinara sauce, then pour the sauce over the gnocchi.  Serve hot and enjoy!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Peach Cobbler Crumble Cupcakes

The fruit shop down the road has really lovely peaches.  So when I saw the recipe from Land O' Lakes Recipe Buzz Blog for Peach Cobbler Coffee Cake I bought a bunch of peaches and let them ripen.  Oh, I love a fresh peach.  The original recipe calls for canned peaches, so I think it will be sweeter.

I halved the recipe, substituted creme fraiche and milk for the sour cream, made cupcakes and used the fresh peaches.  I also skipped the glaze because I thought the crumble would be sweet enough.  My version is listed below.  Overall, I really liked this recipe and will use it again.  (I loved how the batter tasted.)  But, I put in fairly large peach pieces and the cupcakes separated when we ate them.  Next time I'll cut the peaches into smaller pieces and mix them directly into the cake.


1 1/2 fresh peaches

Topping Ingredients
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

Cake Ingredients
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup creme fraiche (I used the reduced fat)
2 Tablespoons milk (I used 2 %)
1/2 Tablespoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 350°F.   Pour boiling water over the peaches and let sit for about a minute to loosen skin.  Peel the skin and remove the pit.  (I overestimated and peeled three peaches, only using 1 1/2.)

Stir together all crumble ingredients in medium bowl with a fork until mixture resembles coarse crumbs; set aside.

Combine sugar and butter in large bowl. Beat until creamy. Add eggs, creme fraiche, milk and vanilla. Continue beating, scraping bowl often, until well mixed. Add all remaining cake ingredients. Continue beating, scraping bowl often, until smooth.

At this point I would suggest cutting the peaches into small pieces and mixing into the batter.  I didn't and regret it!

Line 12 muffin tins.   Divide the cake batter between the cups.  Sprinkle with topping. Bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes and serve!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes

There are some people that when they tell me something is good I just have to believe them.  When Anna from Cookie Madness says something is good I have to try it.  And she raved about these Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes, so I had to make them.  Wow.  That's a lot of chocolate.  If you're a chocolate fan then these are for you.

I followed Anna's recipe here to make six cupcakes.

A few differences.  I meant to buy bread flour but never did, so I used regular flour.  We didn't have any bittersweet chocolate so I used half semi-sweet and half unsweetened chocolate.

I'm not sure if baking with coffee is a Mormon no-no, but I did it anyway.

The frosting was a new one for me.   Cooking the egg white, sugar and salt over the stove then adding the butter, vanilla and chocolate was pretty interesting.  My frosting was not fluffy so I put it in the freezer for 15 minutes and then mixed it again.  It fluffed right up!  It's so rich it gave me a headache right away-a typical sign that there's a lot of chocolate!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Laverbread with Cockles

 Following on with the attempt to try more Welsh cuisine, a cab driver suggested to try cockles.  As far as I can tell cockles are little clams that have been removed from their shells.  When we got them from the fish stall they had been cooked and we could have had them right there with vinegar, salt and pepper.  But instead we decided to try this recipe for a gratin from Chef Keith Floyd.  (I think he's Niall's favorite TV chef.)


Laverbread (warmed)
Salt and Pepper
Cheese (we didn't have any good Welsh cheese and used Mozzarella)
Butter mixed with garlic

I have no idea on the measurements and probably put in too many breadcrumbs in.  In an ovenproof dish, place a layer of laverbread and a lacker of cockles.

Mix the breadcrumbs with the cheese and salt and pepper and sprinkle on top of the cockles.  Drizzle the garlic butter on top.

Broil for 3-4 minutes until browned on top and serve directly.