Hi Rise Vanilla Loaf

>>  Saturday, September 01, 2001

Hi Rise Vanilla Loaf

adapted from Hi Rise Bread Company, Cambridge MA via Amanda Hesser

For the loaf:
3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups vanilla sugar
1 vanilla bean
1 T vanilla extract
8 large eggs, room temperature
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

For the syrup:
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup water
2 vanilla beans, split and scraped

Thickly butter two loaf pans and preheat oven to 325 Fahrenheit (Note - I halved the recipe because I did not have enough sugar!)

Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy (see photo in collage below). Scrape the first vanilla bean and get all the seeds into the bowl, along with the vanilla extract (photo 2).Add the eggs one by one and beat to combine. Sift the flour, salt, and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the batter and fold in, mixing minimally with a rubber spatula, until just combined.

Divide the batter between the loaf pans. Bake for 30 minutes, then turn the pans and bake another 25-40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out almost clean.

While the loaves bake, make syrup. In a small saucepan, dissolve the sugar in the water over medium heat.  Note: it takes a while to dissolve the sugar since the ratio makes a pretty concentrated sugar solution.  Just be patient and keep watching the solution - don't make burnt sugar here! Add the vanilla beans and seeds and stir a little to loosen the seeds. Remove pan from heat.

When the loaves are done, cool them for 10 minutes in the pan on a rack, and then turn them out onto the rack.

Brush the loaves generously on all sides with the syrup. Repeat the brushing with syrup a few more times as the loaves cool.  Note: I did not have a brush, but I was able to successfully spoon small amounts of vanilla syrup over the bread.

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Celeriac Apple Potato Soup

1 celeriac root (peeled and chopped)
2 medium sized Idaho potatoes (peeled and chopped)
1 large apple (peeled and chopped)
1/2 onion, diced (leftover from my chicken pho the other day)
1 Qt chicken broth
1 T butter
1 T oil
1/2 tsp dried Thyme
salt and pepper to taste

Saute onions in butter and oil under medium heat for a few minutes until browned and translucent. Add the celeriac and potatoes. Saute for about 8-10 minutes until they are cooked. Add broth and apples. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes. Blend with an immersion blender or, if using a blender, blend in batches in the blender. Garnish with toppings of your choice and serve!

You can cook some bacon, pancetta, or proscuitto in a pan and crumble a small amount on top of the soup. Another variation by Gordon Ramsey adds a splash of lemon for tartness and crumbled stilton.  You can also consider chopped chives, croutons, or blue cheese.  There's really a lot of room for creativity here. You can easily make this soup vegan by omitting the butter and the bacon. You can also thicken it up by adding a bit of heavy cream to the soup.

Experiment, and enjoy!

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Oven to Pan Seared Prime Ribeye Steaks

2-rib-eye steaks (1 1/2 to 1 3/4 inches thick)
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 T vegetable oil

Step 1: Preheat oven to 275 degrees and adjust oven rack to middle position. Dry the steaks with a paper towel and cut the 16-oz steaks in half to make 2 8-oz steaks (still same thickness!). Generously sprinkle the steaks on both sides with sea salt and pepper. (Ideally the steaks would be at or close to room temperature)

Step 2: If the steaks are not even thicknesses, try to press down on the thicker steaks to bring all the steaks to a uniform thickness, if possible.

Step 3: Put the steaks on a wired rack set in a rimmed baking sheet. Since I did not have a wired rack, I just cleaned one of my oven racks, placed the steaks directly on top, and put a rimmed cookie sheet right below the rack with the steaks to collect any drippings.

Step 4: Bake the steaks at 275 degrees until they reach an internal temperature of 90-95 degrees (rare or medium rare) or 100-105 degrees (medium). It took my steaks about 14 minutes to reach 90 degrees (it started at around 50 degrees).

This slow baking at a low temperature allows enzymes in the meat (cathepsins) to break down connective fibers, making the meat super tender. It's sort of like dry aging at turbo speeds in the oven. This enzyme only works at temperatures below 140 degrees, which is why hot broiling the steaks for a short amount of time does not cause this tenderizing effect. In our case, we have slowly baked and "aged" the steak in the oven under low heat for 15 minutes (or longer, if you like medium steaks!)

You can use an instant read thermometer. I used this cool thermometer which beeps at you when your desired temperature is reached. You stick the probe in the meat and then the unit sits outside. I picked up this Taylor one at Target for only $20 (the one at Williams-Sonoma was $50!). It worked like a charm.

When you take the steaks out, they will look a little scary, but don't worry! We will sear them and then they will be beautiful!

Step 5: Heat your cast-iron grill pan (or aluminum grill pan) to high heat with vegetable oil until the oil is smoking. Quickly put the steaks onto the grill. Cook for 1.5 - 2 minutes on one side (lifting the steak halfway to re-distribute the fat), and then flip and cook another 2 - 2.5 min on the other side. Warning, this is where there will be smoke. Open windows and vent as necessary!

Step 6: Let steaks rest on rack while you do the next step.

Step 7: Pick up two steaks, put them side by side with tongs, and sear all sides of the steak to lock in the juices!

Step 8: Let the steaks rest for 10 minutes loosely tented with foil (important! don't eat them right away!)

Step 9: Serve!

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Chinese Sticky Rice (Nuo Mi Fan)

The Rice
1 1/2 cup water
1 T soy sauce
1 T vegetable oil

In a rice cooker, combine the pre-soaked rice (drained), 1 1/2 cup water (or just fill it up to the level written on your rice cooker for 2 cups), 1 T soy sauce, and 1 T vegetable oil.  Cook rice according to the rice cooker's instructions.

The "Goodies"

1/2 lb (225g) lean pork thinly sliced (e.g, pork loin)
3 T fried shallots
2T dried shrimp

Flavoring Agents
1/2 T cooking rice wine
2 T soy sauce
1/2 t salt
1 t sugar
1 T sesame oil

Soak the black mushrooms in hot water for about 10-15 minutes, until soft.  Slice into thin strips.  Heat 2 T oil in a wok. Add mushrooms, dried shrimp, and deep-fried shallots.  Stir fry until fragrant (1-2 minutes). Add the pork and cook until the pork becomes opaque. 

Add the "flavoring agents" (rice wine, soy sauce, sugar, salt, and sesame oil) and stir to mix well.  Set aside until the rice is done in the rice cooker.  Once the rice is done, combine everything together and garnish with cilantro (optional).


Note: Some people are really turned off by dried shrimp.  If you are one of those people, here is a modified recipe that works pretty well.
adapted from Homestyle Cooking of Taiwan by the members of NATWA

2 cups rice
5 dried mushrooms
10 slices of ginger
1/4 to 1/2 lb of pork 
1 1/4 cup hot water
2 T soy sauce

Crush the ginger slices in a plastic bag with a rolling pin (or heavy rock!) to release the ginger "juices."  Heat 2 T sesame oil in a wok and brown the crushed ginger in the oil.  Once browned, remove the ginger slices.  Now saute the pork and mushrooms in the ginger flavored oil. Add soy sauce.

At this point, you can either add the cooked rice made from the above rice cooker method or add the soaked (but not yet cooked) rice to the wok.

If you add the cooked rice, then just combine with the "sauce" and serve.

If you add the soaked rice to the wok, proceed by adding 1/2 cup hot water.  Cover wok and cook at high heat for 2 minutes.  Stir again and add the remaining 3/4 cup of hot water.  Continue stirring until rice is cooked.  Cover wok and cook at low heat for an additional 10 minutes.  Serve.

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Bawan Recipe

Bawan Recipe
This recipe is adapted from Homestyle Cooking of Taiwan by members of NATWA

Makes 22 pieces
Preparation Time: 2 hours

Outer Covering
 8 T long grain rice flour (see picture at right - the red bag!)
12 T sweet potato flour
5 2/3 cups water
1 lb sweet potato flour

2 T vegetable oil
2 bunches of scallions, chopped

11 dried black mushrooms
1 lb pork tenderloin, sliced (or ground pork)
1 can (8 oz) bamboo shoots (sliced)
1 lb shrimp (about 22)
3 T soy sauce
1 T sugar
1 T salt
1 tsp pepper

Sauce (sweet rice paste)
1 cup long grain rice flour
3 cups waster
1/2 cup sugar

Cilantro, chopped
Soy sauce
optional: sweet chili sauce

Precooking preparations:
1.  If you purchased fresh shrimp, devein the shrimp, remove heads and tails.  I bought one pound of raw frozen shrimp, so I just defrosted it and removed the tails.

2.  Soak dried mushrooms in hot water until soft (about 10 minutes), and cut each one in half

Making the Covering
1.  In a large pot, combine the long grain rice flour, 12 T of sweet potato flour, and water.
2.  Cook at high heat, stirring CONTINUALLY!
3. After it has come to a boil, remove from heat and let cool.
4.  Add 1 lb of sweet potato flour and mix thoroughly.  Set aside.

Making the filling
1.  Heat wok at high heat and add the vegetable oil.
2.  Stir fry the scallions and the mushrooms briefly for about a minute.
3.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir fry until the meat appears done (shrimp turns pink, pork is opaque)
4.  Add flavoring agents (soy sauce, sugar, salt, and pepper).  Mix thoroughly

Making the Bawan
You have 22 pieces of shrimp, 22 mushroom halves.  This is no accident.  You will fill each dough piece with one piece of shrimp, one mushroom, and a little bit of bamboo and pork. Warning, this stuff is really sticky!  It sort of has the consistency of gooey paste.  I find it's a bit easier to work with if you hold the bawan on top of a cabbage leaf (see pictures above).  It's easier to handle the gooey paste if you wet your fingers constantly.  I ended up putting a plate full of water nearby just so I could constantly wet my fingers.

1.  Put a circular dollop of dough onto a leaf.  Using wet fingers, push in the middle a bit for the filling.
2.  Add the filling (1 shrimp, 1/2 mushroom, etc)
3.  Put another smaller dollop of dough on top
4.  Using wet fingers, try to pinch the edges together to form a ball
5.  Set aside

Cooking the Bawans
Steam bawans in a 2-tiered steamer.  Ideally, you would have a multi-layer Chinese bamboo steamer.  However, if you don't, a normal steamer works fine too.  I just lined the steamer with cabbage leaves and placed the bawans on top.
Steam for about 10 minutes.

Making the Sweet Rice Paste Sauce

1.  combine long grain rice flour, water, and sugar in a small sauce pan.  Bring to a boil (remember to stir!) and then remove from heat. 

Garnishing the Bawans
 For each bawan, add a bit of soy sauce (about 1 tsp), cover with some sweet white paste sauce, and garnish with cilantro.  If you have access to sweet chile sauce, you can use that as well.


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Spr√ľngli Chocolates
Shirataki Noodles
Starbuck's VIA brew
Fiore di Nonno Cheese
**Taza Chocolate


Pineapple Guava (feijoa)
Fresh Peas In a Pod
Doughnut Peaches
Kiwi Passion Popper

   Misc. Food Events

A Tour of a Chocolate Factory?

Ravioli Rumble
Eat Drink And Be Fair
One Kendall Square Music Lab

San Francisco
8th Annual S. Pellegrino "Almost Famous" Chef Competition
Ferry Building Marketplace
Foodbuzz Festival: Day 1: San Francisco Street Foods)
Foodbuzz Festival Day 2: Tasting Pavillion
Foodbuzz Festival Day 2: Community Dinner
Foodbuzz Festival Day 3: Brunch at Lulu
Olive Oil Tasting


An Asian Thanksgiving Feast
Spreading the Blog Love

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Pan Seared Sea Scallops with Carrots and Cumin puree, Saffron Oil, Black Trumpet Mushrooms and Orange Zest

Carrots Puree
1 lb carrots
1 tsp ground cumin
2 T olive oil blend

Peel and cut carrots into 1 cm rounds.  Toss carrots together with cumin and olive.  Wrap the entire mixture together tightly in foil.  Roast in the oven for 450 degrees for 20 minutes or until tender.

Blend in a blender until smooth.

That's it!  Set it aside.

Saffron Oil
2 oz olive oil blend
2 oz EVOO
1 large pinch of saffron
2 tsp hot water

In a small jar, crush the saffron threads with a back of a spoon.  You should end up with about 1 tsp of crushed saffron.  Stir n 2 tsp of hot water and let it sit for 10 minutes.

In a small saucepan, heat 1/2 cup each grape seed oil and EVOO over low hear until hot.  Pour the contents of the saucepan over the saffron in the jar.  Cover and sake the jar vigorously.  Set aside to infuse for at least 24 hours before using.

Pan Frying Scallops
Heat the cast iron skillet until it is very hot (almost smoking).  Add oil and add scallops.  Cook for about 2-3 minutes until browned on one side.  Flip the scallops over.  Turn off heat.  Add about 1-2 tsp butter and baste the scallops once the butter has melted.

Sauteed Mushrooms
Sautee your favorite mushrooms with a little bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Of course how you do this is entirely up to you, but I thought it was cool to see how they did it.  Smear on some puree, put scallops on top, then the mushrooms, and finally finish with some saffron oil and orange zest.  Beautiful!

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Tea Eggs

Tea Eggs

1 dozen eggs
2 tea bags (I used Lipton's black tea bags)
1 star anise
2 tsp salt

Make hard boiled eggs. There are several ways to make this. My mom recommends filling a pot with 12 eggs and adding enough water to comfortably cover the eggs. Bring to a boil and cook for 3-5 minutes. Then let the eggs cool.

Once cool, lightly tap the egg on a hard surface all the way around the egg. You want to lightly crack the shell but not remove it. The cracks will allow the tea to infuse even more into the egg.

Put the eggs into a clean pot and fill with water, comfortably covering the eggs. Add salt, tea bags, and star anise.

Cook at medium heat for about 30 minutes, and then let soak overnight or let simmer for at least 2 hours. Alternatively, you can make this in a crockpot and cook at low setting for 8-10 hours.

Sometimes, over time, the pot will start to lose water and the tops of the eggs will peak out.  Make sure to turn the eggs around to that all sides get exposed to the tea.


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Carrot Ginger Soup

Carrot Ginger Soup
serves 2 (total time: 45 minutes)
For a printer friendly version, please click here:

1 T butter
5 small shallots (can substitute with 1 onion), peeled and chopped
3 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)
1 pound carrots, sliced
1 T grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

Step 1: Saute shallots in butter and cook, over medium high heat, until the shallots are translucent and limp.

Step 2: Add broth, carrots, and grated ginger.

Step 3: Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer until carrots are soft and tender when pierced (about 20-25 minutes).

Step 4: Remove from heat. I used my trusty immersion blender (for a picture of the immersion blending process, check out this post). You can also blend in batches with a blender.  Be careful not to fill the blender up too high, otherwise the hot liquid may splatter.  Puree to your desired consistency.

Step 5: Return soup to the pan (if you had used a blender), and add 1/2 cup heavy cream.  Add salt and pepper to taste.


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