Sep 21, 2020

Super Addicting M&M's Chocolate Chip Cookies

Needless to say, the best part about homemade cookies, besides taste, is that sweet aroma filling the entire house. Nostalgic to a point, after all, I did grow up with these colorful M&M's chocolate chips. Adding these chocolate bits to cookies and baking them till the middle cracks, oh my, just by the thought of it can make my mouth watering.


M&M's chocolate chip cookies -


Ingredients (about 10 to 12 pieces)?

  • 1/2 cup or 115 grams unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup M&M's chocolate chips (plus more for extra toppings)
  • 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chip 


How?

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit/190 degrees Celsius. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Keep the butter in room temperature till softened, with texture assembles semi-melted ice cream.


In a large mixing bowl, I used the mixer bowl directly, add in softened butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Mix till combined.

Break in one egg, also add in the vanilla extract. Mix again till combined.


Sift in flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix till combined.

Fold in both the chocolate chips and M&M's colorful chocolate chips. Transfer the entire dough to the fridge before baking. Wait till the dough hardens a bit, about 10 minutes. 

When ready, scoop the dough to the baking sheet. This recipe yields about 10 to 12 cookies, so even out the dough into individual balls and slightly press them down. Insert some extra colorful M&M's chocolate chips onto the cookie dough for an even better visual effect. On top of that, the more chocolate chips the merrier. 

Remember to space out each dough because they'll flatten out a little during the baking process.


Into the oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or till the edges turned slightly browned. It took about 10 minutes for my batch. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and set the cookies on a rack to cool down. However, be careful of little thieves that might steal these fresh cookies once out of the oven.

Absolutely loving that fresh off the oven smell. A little vanilla, heated sugar, and semi-melted chocolate, all these wonderful scent lingers in every corner of the house. It's like my homemade aroma, the kind that gives comfort, and perhaps tickling sweet cravings.

Some people like to wait till the cookies hardened before eating them. However, I do adore the soft texture when fresh off the heat, with still warm and melty oozing chocolate throughout. Once the cookies cool down, the texture still remain on the softer side for this recipe.

On a side note, this recipe only yields 10 to 12 pieces cookies, which was gone in the blink of an eye. So if you can, or perhaps for myself too, try to double up the ingredients and make two dozen cookies at once. Trust me, the more the merrier.


Sep 15, 2020

Colorful Roasted Veggies with Salmon

It was supposed to be a baked chicken and rice casserole recipe, but surprisingly I couldn't find canned cream of mushroom nor onion soup. Onion soup, that I can understand, after all, not that many locals use such ingredient in everyday cooking. Cream of mushroom on the other hand, was commonly found next to canned chicken stock. Not sure about the reasons behind it, but I can only find cream of mushroom with 30% chance when going to a grocery store.

I guess no more baked chicken and rice casserole until I manage to source these two key ingredients, or till I prep them from scratch. So I completely steered away from the original plan and changed to roasted veggies with salmon fillets, at least I can find all the ingredients needed at that moment.


Colorful roasted veggies with salmon -




Ingredients?


  • 1 to 2 salmon fillets
  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 small broccoli
  • 1/3 small purple cabbage
  • 1 handful peas
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • Some salt
  • Some black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon all spice


How?


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit/200 degrees Celsius. Add the unsalted butter to a baking sheet, into the oven till butter just melted. Remove from heat.


Sprinkle some salt and black pepper on both sides of salmon fillets. The fillets are going to be baked as a whole first, then cut into bite size chunks after cooking.


Cut the tomatoes into chunks. Peel the purple cabbage into smaller pieces. Destem and remove the pits from yellow bell pepper, then cut the remaining section into larger chunks. Peel and roughly chop the garlic cloves.


Break broccoli into smaller florets. Do not discard the broccoli stem. Simply trim off the outer tougher layer then cut the remaining stem into larger pieces, it'll be just as tender and delicious.


Transfer prepped veggies to the baking sheet. Add in 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder, and 1/4 teaspoon all spice. Mix well and make sure all the ingredients are coated with melted butter and powdered seasonings.




Top the mixture with seasoned salmon fillets. Drizzle some olive oil on top of the salmon and veggies. Into the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or till tomatoes are slightly burst with juice. No need to over-bake these ingredients till slightly burnt. Just a touch of heat should be enough.


Meanwhile, prepare a small pot of water. Add some salt along with peas. Bring to a boil, cook for one minute. Drain well.


Remove the baking sheet from heat once ready. Transfer baked salmon fillets to cutting board and cut into larger chunks. Give the other baked ingredients a few tosses then transfer to serving plate. Top with salmon bites and garnish with peas. Also sprinkle some freshly grind black pepper all over.




That buttery touch is essential. Melted butter, together with some olive oil and salmon fat, all these provide a moist touch to roasted veggies.




It works nicely as a healthy lunch or weekend brunch. There're a good variety of veggies with different colors too. Truly a healthy meal without sacrificing taste.




So from rice casserole to colorful roasted veggies with salmon, at least in the end I still get something baked and something delicious. Until then, let me try to stock on cream of mushroom and onion soup if I see any.



Other salmon recipes:

Sep 10, 2020

Japanese Stir-Fry Noodles Yakisoba (焼きそば)

No kidding, this recipe truly worth a try. The yakisoba was so good that I was planned for 6 servings, but ended up with 4 gigantic plate of food. Why? Because such comforting recipe can be too dangerous and making eaters wanting for more. I had to re-arrange the portion to satisfy that growing appetite.


Japanese stir-fry noodles yakisoba (焼きそば) -



Ingredients (supposedly 6 servings)?

  • 2 packs/1200 grams yakisoba noodles (yellow and slightly oiled noodles)
  • 320 grams ground pork
  • 6 to 8 slices pork loin
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 1/2 small cabbage
  • 6 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Some olive oil
  • Some salt
  • Some black pepper
  • Some Katsuobushi
  • Some Japanese mayonnaise 
  • Some dried seaweed flakes
  • Some beni shōga/red pickled ginger (optional)


How?  

Peel and slice the onion. Chop the cabbage into smaller pieces. Season the pork loin slices with some salt and black pepper on both sides.


Bring a big pot of water to a boil then quickly add in the yakisoba or selected oiled yellow noodles. This is only to wash away extra oil, so a quick dip will do. Drain and set aside for later use.



Prepare a wok or a big non-stick pan, drizzle about 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil and turn to medium high heat. Once warmed up, break in the eggs one by one to make sunny side up eggs. Sear till the edges of the egg white turn slightly browned or tiny bit burnt, but make sure the center yolk remains slightly undercooked. Make the sunny side up eggs in two or three batches if needed, for instance, if the cookware is not wide enough. Once the eggs are ready, scoop out for later use.


Use the same cookware, add in 1 more tablespoon of olive oil if the surface is too dry. Continue to use medium high heat, transfer pork slices over and sear till slightly colored. Flip and continue to sear till colored on the other side. Again, scoop out for later use.



Still using the same cookware and medium high heat. This time, add in ground pork and stir-fry till about half way cooked through. Add in onion slices and cabbage. Turn to high heat. Cook till the cabbage softened, or till it reaches desired texture. Some like it soft, some like it crunchy, so the cooking time varies here.



Transfer drained noodles over and give it a quick mix. Pour in 4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 4 tablespoons oyster sauce, and 2 tablespoons water. The ratio is about 2:2:1 for Worcestershire sauce, oyster sauce, and water. Mix well, and continue to cook for 30 seconds to a minute. Taste and adjust with extra seasonings if needed.



Arrange the yakisoba to serving plates. Top each serving with 1 to 2 pork loin slices. Also top each serving with one sunny side up egg. Generously drizzle Japanese mayonnaise all over and sprinkle some dried seaweed flakes. Add some katsuobushi right before serving, so that the katsuobushi will start "dancing" when in contact with heat, making a pleasing visual presentation.



If red pickled ginger is available, serve along with the yakisoba.



This recipe makes a good bento/lunch box meal too. However, in that case, perhaps try to mix in the katsuobushi with the noodles instead of adding on top. Even though you won't be able to see dancing katsuobushi, at least the flavors are still up there, comforting and making one wanting for more.   


Extended Reading:


Sep 3, 2020

Steamed Fish Fillets with Aged Shaoxing Wine 陳紹蒸魚片

Usually, or more so I was accustomed to use rice cooking wine when steaming fish. The clear kind of Chinese rice cooking wine. However, this time I've switched to a stronger scented yellow wine, in this case, aged Shaoxing wine for a flavor boost. The end result got quite a kick to it but not over-powering to a point blanketing all the other seasonings used. Consider it a good steer away from my common seasonings.

Steamed fish fillets with aged Shaoxing wine 陳紹蒸魚片 - 





Ingredients?


  • 240 grams Taiwanese snapper fillets
  • 1 ripe tomato
  • 140 grams/2 loosely packed cups mixed mushrooms
  • 3 to 4 bok choi
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon aged Shaoxing wine
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce paste
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon sugar
  • Few splashes Chinese rice cooking wine 
  • Tiny pinch salt
  • Tiny pinch black pepper


How?

Slice the fish into smaller fillet pieces. Add a few drops of Chinese rice cooking wine and let it marinate for few minutes. It'll help reduce some fishy or earthy scent from the fish.




Destem and cut the tomato into smaller chunks. If using larger bok choi, cut or tear into smaller pieces. Destem the mushrooms. Peel and roughly chop the garlic cloves.


Take a serving plate or a container, add in fish fillets, 1 tablespoon of aged Shaoxing wine, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce paste, 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1/8 teaspoon of sugar, garlics, tomatoes, bok choy, mushrooms, tiny pinch of salt, and tiny pinch of black pepper.




Use a steamer, per my case, I used Taiwanese Tatung cooker, steam for 15 minutes. Doesn't really matter if you start steaming before or after the temperature rises, the fish used here won't get too tough or bad texture even if cooked a bit too long. Once done, turn off the power and let the residual heat to continue cooking the fish for another 5 minutes.

Remove from heat. Re-plate if needed and serve right away.




The fish used here, Taiwanese snapper, it's cheap but not the most delicious option. Sometimes it'll come with an earthy scent. So to incorporate stronger alcohol, like aged Shaoxing wine, works really well to wash away that perhaps unpleasant flavor.




On top of that, I omitted the use of sesame oil in the end because I would rather let the aged Shaoxing wine shine instead of over-mixing with also strong-scented sesame oil. If you insist, simply splash some sesame oil before serving.


You can also include some ginger and scallion, or even red chilies. Adding these extra ingredients will only boost up the flavors, don't worry about over-complicating the dish. However, with aged Shaoxing wine and garlics along, still a well-present, easy-cleaning recipe.



Other recipes using fish fillets:

Aug 28, 2020

Make Ahead Recipe - Japanese Style Enoki Mushrooms Side Dish

Not only make ahead, this recipe can also be presented as a cold dish. That means you can utilize free time to prep the dish, and when meal time calls, you can simply pull it out from the fridge and serve right away.

Japanese style enoki mushrooms side dish -





Ingredients?


  • 1 big pack/400 grams enoki mushrooms
  • Some dried seaweed flakes
  • 4 tablespoons double condensed tsuyu
  • 4 tablespoons mirin
  • 4 tablespoons Japanese rice cooking wine or dry sake
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon black vinegar


How?


Cut the enoki mushrooms into shorter sections.




Transfer the mushrooms to a non-stick pan or a medium pot. Add in 4 tablespoons double condensed tsuyu, 4 tablespoons mirin, 4 tablespoons sake, and 1 tablespoon sugar. Cook for about 5 minutes or so.




Add in 1 tablespoon of black vinegar. It won't really turn the dish sourish, more so for a flavor boost instead.


Plate or store in an airtight container in the fridge. When serving, plate and garnish with dried seaweed flakes.




I actually served it as a side dish for curry rice. The sweet and slightly salty enoki mushrooms, especially when serve cold, works similar to tsukemono, which can brighten up the senses if eating with heavy and perhaps spicy curry rice.


Don't forget the best part is that you can always make ahead and it should preserve well in the fridge up to few days. Consider it a life saver recipe when your busy schedule kicks in.



Aug 23, 2020

Sukiyaki Style Nabeyaki Udon (すき焼き風鍋焼きうどん)

First time taking food pictures at my temporary shelter, apparently the lighting wasn't perfect, the space was super limited. I can only make one dish at a time, especially there's not enough counter space for me to work on. I can't even fit my favorite wooden cutting board on top, that's how petite it is.

But I'll figure something out as time goes by, after I'm getting used to this place, plus I still have another smaller kitchen, just that it's no fully stocked, no salt, no black pepper, basically nothing. Perhaps I'll just be using the small oven there from time to time.


As for now, bear with me while I'm trying to figure out how to take better-lighting food pictures in my new joint. 


Sukiyaki style nabeyaki udon (すき焼き風鍋焼きうどん) - 





Ingredients (about 2 to 3 portions)?


  • 2 to 3 packs instant udon
  • 200 grams beef slices
  • 2 stalks Japanese naganegi (thick and long scallion)
  • 1/2 box firm tofu
  • 4 shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 small bundle tong ho/mizuna/or other type of mountain greens
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


Stock:


  • 600ml water 
  • 5 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 5 tablespoons double condensed tsuyu
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons mirin


How?

The best leafy green option should be either tong ho or mizuna, but I couldn't find any, so substituted other type of mountain vegetable instead.


Diagonal-slice the naganegi into shorter sections. Remove the shiitake stems then make a cross pattern on the cap. Cut the tofu into rectangular pieces, about 1/2 inch in thickness.




As for the firm tofu, you can either serve as it is, or drizzle some oil in a non-stick pan then give it a sear on both sides till colored. One other way is to torch the tofu till slightly burnt on the edges. Sear the naganegi if preferred too for a slight flavor boost.


To make the sukiyaki style stock, add in all the ingredients under the "stock" sextion to the serving pot.


Take a pan and drizzle about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Wait till the surface warms up then add in the beef slices. Cook till about 70% doneness, scoop out for later use.


Back to the nabe pot, add in 2 to 3 packs of instant udon and cook with medium high heat. Cook till the udon can be separated. 




Arrange the beef slices, naganegi, shiitake, tofu, and leafy greens to the surface. Put on the lid, bring to a boil then lower the heat to cook for another minute or so.




Remove the lid and add in 1 to 2 egg yolks in the center. Serve right away. Remember to taste the stock and see if it needs more seasonings. My version is on the lighter side compared to actual sukiyaki. If you ever tried sukiyaki, you'll probably notice that the flavors are quite salty and sweet. However, I found that a wee bit toned-down version works better for a whole pot of udon.




Also drizzle the oil used in searing beef slices to the nabe pot if there's any left. It'll increase that buttery beefy aroma to the whole meal.


Not even half way satisfied with these pictures, but I assure you that future recipes with pictures taken in this little kitchen will just get better and better over time.



Other udon recipes:


Aug 17, 2020

As Simple as It Gets - Roasted Cauliflower

Cauliflower can get quite expensive here in Taipei, that's the main reason why I haven't been cooking cauliflower for a while. However, it's been too long, size doesn't matter, I want some cauliflower now, even one bite can calm my cravings.

Roasted cauliflower -





Ingredients (for a small cauliflower)?


  • 350 grams cauliflower
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarsely grind black pepper


How?

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit/204.4 degrees Celsius. 


Rinse and pat dry the cauliflower. Break the cauliflower into smaller florets and transfer to a mixing blow. Finely chop the parsley and set aside for later use.


Mix the cauliflower florets with some olive oil, about 2 tablespoons. Season with some sea salt and coarsely grind black pepper. Toss till all the florets are evenly coated with the seasonings. Transfer to a baking dish.




Into the oven and bake for about 15 minutes. Remove and give the cauliflower a few tosses. Transfer back to the oven and continue to bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, or till tender and slightly darken on the edges.


Remove from heat. Sprinkle some chopped parsley right before serving.




As simple as it gets, but the end result was pretty satisfying. Especially loving that darkened edges on the florets. To bring it up a notch? Try grating some aged Parmigiano Reggiano on top for a umami boost.



Such a small cauliflower with only one thin layer of roasted result here. Guess how much the cauliflower was? Nearly $5 USD, so pricey. Guess I won't be cooking cauliflower for a while, until next time.

Aug 11, 2020

Old School Taiwanese Castella Cake 台灣古早味蛋糕

Haven't been baking dessert for a while, and finally my sweet cravings kicked in. Let's try something different here, not using butter, but light-tasting vegetable oil to make the cake.

Old school Taiwanese castella cake 台灣古早味蛋糕 -





Ingredients (for an 8-inch round baking dish)?


  • 70 grams light-tasting vegetable oil
  • 90 grams cake flour
  • 60 grams whole milk
  • 70 grams granulated sugar
  • 6 egg yolk
  • 6 egg white
  • Some water


How?


I used one 8-inch round baking dish for this recipe. A little bit smaller baking pan should be fine, which will give you a higher cake instead. Just remember to check on the cake often during the baking process. Also prepare a slightly larger baking dish for water bath.




Line the round baking dish with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit/150 degrees Celsius.


Measure all the ingredients first. Separate the egg yolks and egg whites.




Take a big pot and heat up the vegetable oil using low heat. Once the surface starts to show wavy patterns, remove from heat. 


Sift in cake flour and whisk till combined. Then pour in milk and whisk again. Add in egg yolks in few batches while whisking at the same time. In the end, whisk till the mixture appear to be creamy and pale yellow color.




Beat the egg whites till soft peak forms. Pour in sugar in two batches. Beat till soft peak again, it might take few minutes here.




Fold the egg whites mixture to the creamy egg yolk mixture in about 3 batches. Do not over mixing these ingredients. Simply scoop from the bottom and fold to the center a few times using a spatula till about fully blended.




Pour the entire mixture to the baking dish. Pick up the dish and let it fall back to the table a few times. This will help driving out some air trapped within.


Arrange another larger baking dish below the round dish. Pour in some water till about half way high, or a little bit higher, like over the middle section of the round dish.




Transfer to the oven and bake for about 45 minutes, plus or minus 2 minutes.


Carefully remove these baking dishes from the oven, then take out the round baking dish. Pick it up and let it fall back to the table again, it'll make a big noise, no worries. 




Remove the cake from baking dish and let it cool off on rack. 




Slice and serve.




It's a very simple and old school style Taiwanese castella cake. The vegetable oil used can heavily determine the flavor of the cake, so choose wisely.




But just like most of the castella cake, it sure taste even better with milk. Hot tea works too, but milk always make such cake even more comforting.



Other Taiwanese dessert:

Aug 5, 2020

Dried Anchovies and Dried Radish Stir-Fry 炒小魚蘿蔔乾

Should be few years back, I found out that my calcium intake was too low after a health check-up. Slowly taking action one smaller step at a time, I've been taking calcium supplement daily, if I remember. Starting this year, I've also try to eat more fish instead of red meat for that extra calcium boost. That's why there're more fish-related recipes nowadays. 

Dried anchovies and dried radish stir-fry 炒小魚蘿蔔乾 -





Ingredients?


  • 120 grams small or medium sized dried anchovies 
  • 1 cup dried radish
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 red chilies
  • 2 tablespoons dried shrimps (蝦米)
  • 2 tablespoons salted black beans in oil (豆鼓)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese rice cooking wine
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce


How?


Soak the dried shrimps in water for about 10 minutes, then squeeze dry with a cloth or kitchen towel. Finely chop the shrimps.




Rinse the dried radish in order to wash away some of its salty taste. Once done, dry well with a cloth or kitchen towel, try to squeeze out all the liquid if possible. Give the dried radish a few chops if the size is bigger than a small pea. Just keep in mind that dried radish provides a chewy crunchy texture. Smaller the dried radish, easier the chew, but not too tiny and loss all that chewing fun.




Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves. Destem and finely chop the red chilies.


Use a wok or a big pan, drizzle about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and switch to medium heat. Add in dried shrimps and cook for about 30 seconds. Add in garlic and red chilies, continue to cook till aromatic and the shrimps turn slightly browned, but not burning the garlic pieces.




Add in dried radish and anchovies, give it a quick stir then add in 2 tablespoons salted black beans, 1 tablespoon Chinese rice cooking wine, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Mix and cook till these ingredients turn soft enough to chew. The whole mixture should look fairly dry instead of oily or saucy towards the end.




Plate and serve. Highly recommend to serve this stir-fry as a side dish with steamed rice. It'll work great as condiments for dry noodles, just remember to add more seasonings such as sesame oil and soy sauce when blended together with noodles.



Other Asian stir-fry recipes: