Friday, January 27, 2012

Alice's House Dressing

My mother and I had hi-tea at Alice's Teacup and loved the tea and every bite we had. To the extent that we returned with my father within a week and bought the cookbook too. The first recipe I tried from that book was their famous buttermilk scones, which were fabulous (in fact, I made it again this morning!).
The sandwiches were incredible too, but the salad that came with it made us drool. The flavors were deep and intense and I had to make it! It takes a while, but not all that time is active cooking time, and it makes a large batch. So it was definitely worth the effort!
To quote them from the book:
People love our house dressing and are constantly asking for the recipe. Well, here it is! Sure, there are a lot of ingredients and it takes some time, but it's so worth it. You start by cooking down the concentrate with a bunch of wonderful flavors, then emulsify it with oil and Dijon mustard. Delicious! 

Makes 1 1/2 cups
5 medium shallots
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
3 1/2 cups soy sauce
2 1/2 cups balsamic vinegar
2 1/2 cups rice vinegar
3/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
5 tbsp honey
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 1/4 cups Alice's House Dressing Concentrate
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 cups canola oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. To prepare the concentrate: Preheat the oven to 400F. Toss the shallots in 1 tsp olive oil, and lay them on a baking sheet. Roast them in the oven for 50 minutes, or until nicely tender and browned. Cut the shallots into 1/2-inch thick shlices.
2. Heat the remaining 1/2 tsp olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over low heat. Add the roasted shallots, garlic and ginger and sauté until caramelized, 8–10 mints– do not burn! Add all the remaining concentrate ingredients, bring to a boil and cook for 30 minutes.
3. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2 hours, or until thickened and reduced.
4. Reduce unused concentrate for up to 2 weeks.
5. To make the dressing: Add the concentrate and the mustard to a food processor or a blender, and turn it on. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the oil, blending until he dressing has emulsified. Adjust the seasoning as desired, and serve.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Edamame and Corn Dumplings

We always have dumplings from Trader Joe's in our freezer. Want a quick snack or a quick appetizer when your friends come over, this is great to pull out. But it got me thinking– how difficult can it be to make dumplings? The wrappers (wonton or dumpling) are easily available, in regular supermarkets or any Asian speciality store (fyi, I love Katagiri, a Japanese grocery store on 59th Street between Third and Lexington Avenues) and the filling couldn't be tough. A lot of our guets are vegetarians, which is why I began to research on vegetarian edamame dumpling recipes. I also find myself adding sauces to most of the dumplings that I have been served, to spice them up and make it flavorful. Which is why the below recipe worked so well for me, it's yummy as is! 

The first time round a batch of 30 were made. It finished within days. This recipe is from when I made it the second time round. 

The photo of the dumplings is folded differently to the basic fold explained below in the Method section because our fabulous Tibetan nanny folded these! 

Edamame Corn Dumplings
Makes approximately 30 (depends on the size of the dumpling wrapper)

1 tbsp peanut oil (or any sesame oil)
6 spring onions, sliced
1 tbsp ginger and garlic, minced
1 tbsp Chili Bean Sauce (Lee Kum Kee)
1/2 tbsp chili garlic sauce (or any Asian chili sauce, such as Sriracha)
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 10oz bag shelled edamame 
1/2 cup frozen corn
1 tsp cornstarch
40 dumpling wrappers 

  1. Heat the oil in a wok and sauté the onions, ginger and garlic for a few minutes.
  2. Follow by adding the three sauces, edamame and corn. Stir for 5 minutes or until cooked through and all the water from the frozen edamame and corn has been evaporated.
  3. Add the cornstarch, turn off the heat and mix it until all is well incorporated. 
  4. Grind in a food processor to form a coarse paste. 
  5. Place dumpling wrapper on a clean and dry working surface. Keep a bowl of water handy. Place 1 tsp of the mixture slightly off-center of the wrapper, fold over and seal shut with a  water. Wipe your hands dry and repeat.
You can either cook them immediately or freeze them on a baking pan for 15 minutes and then store them in a freezer bag. They should last in your freezer for three months. 

Steam the dumplings for 10–12 minutes or for pan-fried dumplings heat 1 tbsp oil in a non-stick skillet. Pan fry the dumplings for 1 minute. Add 2 tbsp water, cover and let it simmer for 7–10 minutes or until the water has dried up.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Buttermilk Scones

Scones. I love my cup of tea. And I love a scone with that. But lately, I've enjoyed baking the scones even more than eating them. My in laws do not eat eggs and nor do they like baked goods that are too sweet. This recipe works fabulously for them– no sugar, berries give it a natural sweetness and there aren't any eggs! 

Last week I went to Alice's Tea Cup for tea with my mother and we loved their classic and famous buttermilk scone. We loved it so much that we returned there yesterday again with my father, where they bought me the cookbook. Today I baked a batch of buttermilk scones from the cookbook.

With baking, the rule is to not change ingredients and definitely to not mess around with the quantities, but this time I made two changes to this recipe: 1. I used low-fat buttermilk over the requested full-fat buttermilk asked for in the recipe and 2. Added dried berries to the dough. You can flavor this as you'd like– use any dried fruit, nuts, chocolate chips, candied ginger… 

Makes 10 to 12 scones

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup buttermilk


  1. Preheat the oven to 425F
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt
  3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and pour the butter and buttermilk into the well.
  4. With clean hands, combine the ingredients until all the dry mixture is wet, but do not knead! 
  5. Add 2 cups of mixed dried berries (I used dried cherries and strawberries, but use as you wish.)
  6. Turn the mixture onto a floured surface and gather the dough together. Gently pat the dough to make a rectangle about 1 1/2-inches thick. 
  7. Fold it like you would fold a letter, this helps create small air pockets in the dough which makes the scones light and airy. Roll the dough out again until it is 1 1/2-inches thick. 
  8. Cut the scones into squares, lay them on a nonstick baking sheet.
  9. Bake the scones for about 12 minutes, or until lightly browned. 
Serve with clotted cream and jam and a perfectly brewed cup of tea. 

The cookbook also shares a fabulous tip:
In the unlikely event that you're left with uneaten scones after three days, it's time to make one wonderful biscotti! Just cut the scones into 1/2-to-1-inch thick slices and bake them at 350F for about 5 minutes on each side. For an extra treat, sprinkle a little sugar on each side before baking. Yum! 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Ghiradelli Chocolate Chip Brownies

The debate of how brownies should be continue– gooey or like a cake. I stand firmly that they need to be gooey. If you want it like a cake, go eat a cake. And for the chocolate lover in me, I also stand firmly that there should be no nuts in brownies, nothing to interrupt the joy of cocoa, butter and sugar coming together. 
This is a recipe that I have repeated over and over again, and my cousins, friends love it! 
The recipe is simple, on the wrapper of the Ghiradelli Semi-Sweet Baking Bar so it's convenient to make and shop for while you are in the grocery store ;-)
I have flavored these brownies with banana essence for banana brownies. 

Yields: 16 brownies
1/2 cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
4 ounces Semi-Sweet Chocolate Baking Bar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/3 tsp baking powder
3/8 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350F.

Butter and flour and 8-inch square baking pan.

Chop the 4 ounces of semi sweet chocolate bars into 1-inch pieces. 
In the top of a double boiler or in a heatproof bowl over barely simmering water, melt the chopped chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally until smooth.
Remove the pan from the heat and let cool to room temperature. 
Stir the brown sugar and vanilla into the chocolate mixture.
Add the eggs and mix well.
In a bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Slowly fold the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture, mixing well until blended.
Stir in the chocolate chips and pour the batter into the prepared. 

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a tester comes our clean.

Remove from the oven and cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting into 2-inch squares.

*The above photograph is from the Ghiradelli website.