Monday, December 24, 2012

Gooey Butter Cookies

It's Christmas eve! After having spent the whole day in the kitchen, baking and cooking, it's time to rest up for tomorrow, to be able eat, drink, and be merry! 

These downy butter cookies from St. Louis chef Gerard Craft and his former pastry chef Mathew Rice live up to their name. A favorite of Craft’s daughters, these sweet cookies glean their soft texture from the addition of glucose and get an initial coating of confectioners’ sugar before baking. Keep them stored in the refrigerator and dust with another layer of confectioners’ sugar before serving for an especially snow-kissed appearance.

The cookies totally live up to its description above, quoted from Tasting Table's 12 Days of Cookies series. I preferred the cookies the next day, but some of the other 'eaters' preferred them the first day, fresh out of the oven. (Yes, we have been eating cookies since yesterday and hope to eat them through Christmas day!). The extra sprinkle of confectioners' sugar before serving makes these cookies even more divine. 

Recipe adapted from Gerard Craft and Mathew Rice, Pastaria, St. Louis, Missouri
Makes 3 dozen cookies
Cook time: 45 minutes

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 pound (450 gms) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick (8 tablespoons / 125 gms) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar (or 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar and 1/4 cup glucose syrup)
1/2 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise, seeds scraped away and reserved
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners' sugar, plus extra for serving


  1. Preheat oven to 325F (160C). 
  2. Sieve over a large bowl the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the cream cheese, butter, sugar, and the vanilla seeds. Mix on medium speed until the batter is light and airy, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat until well combined.
  5. Add the flour mixture, then mix on medium-low speed until just combined.
  6. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. To a medium bowl, add the confectioners' sugar and set aside. 
  7. Scoop the dough into 2-inch balls around the size of a golf ball, then roll each ball into confectioners' sugar before placing them 2-inches apart on the baking sheet.
  8. Bake the cookies until they spread and puff slightly, 12 to 15 minutes. They should be set around the edges and very soft in the center (don't let the cookies brown). 
  9. Remove the cookies from the oven and cool 5 minutes before transferring the parchment paper with the cookies on top to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.
  10. Once the cookies are completely cool, stack them in an airtight container and refrigerate. Serve chilled and dusted with more powdered sugar.
Make ahead: The dough can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days before baking.
Storing:The cookies can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Puffed Rice

I love brussels sprouts! Not sure if I have said this enough, but it is very high up on my favorite vegetables list. So when I read this recipe on my iPad on my Epicurious app, it had me wanting to make it immediately.

Deep-fried Brussels sprouts are a popular side dish at Ssām Bar. Cooked in a hot oven (easier for the home cook), they still get that nutty sweetness and nicely browned crisp exterior. Rice Krispries, standing in for Indian puffed rice (which is more difficult to find), add crunch, while sous-chef Tien Ho's Vietnamese-style dressing lends the sprouts an offbeat complexity.

This was an absolute hit at lunch today, and it will surely be a recipe that we will make again!

Below is my variation on the recipe. The minor tweaks were the use of soy sauce instead of fish sauce, as we were serving vegetarians for lunch today. As much as I believe the fish sauce would have done wonders to the recipe, the soy sauce worked very well too. Instead of shichimi togarashi powder I used some of my good old Indian red chili powder. I also increased the amount of puffed rice, as I loved the idea of more crunch to the dish. The amount of dressing felt like too much, which is why I a reduced the amount in the recipe below.

Makes 8 first or side-course services

For brussels sprouts
2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lenghtwise
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

For dressing
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce (or soy sauce for a vegetarian version)
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro stems
1 garlic clove, minced
2 fresh red Thai chiles, thinly sliced crosswise, including seeds (be generous if you like the heat)

For puffed rice
1/2 cup Indian puffed rice (or Rice Krispies, if not available)
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder

For garnish
Cilantro sprigs
Mint leaves
Scallions, chopped


  1. Roast brussels sprouts: Preheat oven to 400F. Toss brussels sprouts with oil, then arrange cut sides down, in a 17-by-12-inch baking pan. Roast, without turning, until outer leaves are tender and very dark brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Add butter and toss to coat.
  2. Make dressing: Stir together all the dressing ingredients until sugar has dissolved.
  3. Make puffed rice while sprouts roast: Cook cereal, oil, and red chili powder in a small skillet over medium heat, shaking skillet and stirring, until rice is coated and begins to turn golden brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cook, stirring occasionally.
  4. Finish dish: Put Brussels sprouts in a serving bowl, then toss with just enough dressing to coat. Sprinkle with puffed rice.

Cooks' notes:
Puffed rice can be made 3 days ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature.
Dressing, without mint and cilantro, can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring to room temperature and add herbs before using.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Spicy Chindian Potstickers

Leftovers are great (especially if it is from Thanksgiving!), you can toss it with some rice and name it a pulao, fried rice or even a paella if you will. Wrap leftover Sai Bhaji or sautéd spinach with cheese in puff pastry and make turnovers. My mother-in-law adds tomato sauce to left over Indian vegetables and then layers it with lasagna sheets, béchamel sauce and cheese to make an Indo-Italian lasagna. My all-time, quick and easy, favorite is to add some mashed boiled potatoes and breadcrumbs to the left over, to make patties or burgers. 

The list of options go on and on. This time I wanted to step out of the box and make something different with the left over chicken keema, and I wondered why I couldn't just 'dumpling-them-up'! Growing up in Bombay, we ate a lot of Chindian food, which explains where I was going with this.

So I took the left over keema, added some Shaoshing rice wine, soy sauce, Sriracha chili sauce, and spring onions, folded them in store-bought dumpling wrappers, and made yummy potstickers, drizzled with chili oil. (You know where my leftovers are going to end up now!)

Makes 15
Chicken Keema
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium onions, minced (use a food processor to quicken the chopping process)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-inch ginger, minced
2-3 green chilies, finely chopped 
1 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1 bay leaf
2 lbs ground chicken
Salt, to taste
3 medium tomatoes, minced (use a food processor to quicken the chopping process)
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

2 cups chicken keema
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1 tablespoon Shaoshing rice wine
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce
15 round dumpling or Japanese Gyoza wrappers
1/4 cup water, for sealing potstickers
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup water, or more, to steam potstickers
Chili oil, to drizzle

Method, Chicken Keema

  1. In a large dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pan, heat oil. Add the minced onions and brown well, for about 10-15 minutes.
  2. Follow by adding the ginger, garlic, chilies, garam masala, and bay leaf. Mix well into onions and continue to cook for another 2 minutes.
  3. Add the ground chicken and salt and cook until the chicken is just about done. The water from the chicken should dry up and your mixture should be dry.
  4. Add the minced tomatoes, mix well, and cook until the oil separates.
  5. Garnish with cilantro.
Serving options: Serve with flat naan, some chopped onions, and lemon.
Over plain white rice boiled with green peas.
Stuff in a pita pocket with hummus, greens, pickled jalapeño and fresh cilantro.

Method, Potstickers

  1. Add spring onions, rice wine, soy sauce, and Sriracha sauce to the reserved 2 cups of Chicken Keema. Mix well. 
  2. Lay a dumpling wrapper flat on one palm of your hand, moisten the edge of the pot sticker by brushing it with water. 
  3. Add 1 tablespoon of the Chicken Keema mixture in the center of the wrapper.
  4. Fold the potsticker wrapper over like a taco. Force the air out and press the edges together. You can add a few pleats like in the photograph above if you like.
  5. In a large non-stick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. When hot, add the potstickers (flat side down) and brown for 30–60 seconds. 
  6. Add water, being careful not to splatter the oil (drain oil before if necessary) until 1/3rd the height of the potstickers. Cover and let it steam for 3–4 minutes.
  7. Serve hot, with a drizzle of chili oil.
Cooks note: If you do not want to serve all the potstickers at one time, you can freeze by placing the potstickers on a baking tray for 15 minutes. Remove and place in a freezer bag, dated and marked with contents. Defrost before cooking.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Roast Telapia with Spicy Soy Oil

I have absolutely no idea why I haven't yet shared this recipe with you. This recipe has been a staple at home for years now, and it's one of our favorite quick fix Asian meal. Perfect for that weeknight meal, when you're short of time or even you have guests coming over and you don't have much time on hand. Serve it with plain steamed rice or fried rice. It goes great with brussels sprouts or sautéd mushrooms.

It's so quick, that you could be in and out of the kitchen, sitting on your dinner table, within 15 minutes. Make it to believe me! Or make the spicy soy oil ahead and heat in saucepan right before serving.

The spicy soy oil goes well with mostly all fish. If I remember correct, this recipe was originally for salmon. Through the years we have made it with many kinds of fish, such as tuna, cod, lemon sole, and telapia.

2 tbsp peanut oil
1 1/2 to 2 lbs fish fillets, in 4 pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp slivered garlic
2 dried red chillies (or more if you like the heat)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/4 cup chopped scallions


  1. Place 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium high heat. When hot, add 1 tbsp peanut oil, swirl it around.
  2. Season fish with salt and pepper, and place on skillet. Flip when browned on one side and cook the other side for another 2-3 minutes. (time will depend on the fish variety). Move to a plate.
  3. While the second side is cooking, combine remaining peanut oil in a small saucepan with sesame oil, garlic, scallions, and chilies, and turn heat to medium. 
  4. Cook, gently shaking pan, until garlic colors lightly, about 5 minutes. 
  5. Turn off heat and add soy. 
  6. Drizzle fish with spicy soy oil.

I Love Brussels Sprouts, Thai Style

I love brussels sprouts. I love them so much that I can eat them plain, roasted with salt and pepper, blanched, and even on pizzas! This winter we are in the Canary Islands, and it has been difficult finding them. I spoke to the vegetable vendor at the market, and asked him to call me when he did find them. Three (long) weeks later my phone rings, my brussels sprouts had arrived! 

Half the batch was roasted, a little olive oil, salt and pepper, at 400F for 30–35 minutes. Don't forget to shake the pan from time to time to evenly brown the sprouts. Roast until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. 

The second half of the treasured brussels sprouts was made in this Thai style inspired sauce. (Please note, the vegetable vendor has already been called and asked to get me more brussels sprouts soon!)

2 cups brussels sprouts, cut in half
2 tbsp + 1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
2 red chillies, sliced (or more if you like the heat)
1/4 cup chicken broth


  1. Preheat oven to 400F
  2. On a baking tray, toss brussels sprouts with 2 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 30–35 minutes, until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside
  3. While sprouts roasts, in a small sauce pan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil on medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté for 2 minutes. 
  4. Add sauces, chili, and chicken broth. Boil until liquid is reduced by half.
  5. Toss roasted brussels sprouts with as much sauce as required. Reserve remaining sauce to add to a stir-fry, rice, or more brussels sprouts!