Saturday, March 31, 2012

Pork Tonkatsu with Vegetable Tempura

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
This was a favorite lunch meal when I was still in college hanging out in the mall when I had a free afternoon to kill. I usually get this meal from the Japanese fast food joint, Tokyo, Tokyo! It was cheap, delicious and the serving portions were huge. Thus, it was then a no-brainer when I had to come up with a Japanese meal for a guest who was not too fond of raw fish on a sushi night. Looking at the history of this dish, it was surprising to learn that the dish was actually brought in by the Portuguese and have been adapted by the Japanese making it their own. Reading on the procedure, I'm surprised to learn that I have actually been making tonkatsu way long before I knew I was making tonkatsu. I thought there was a special method to making it extra crunchy on the outside and super moist in the inside. Well, there isn't. 

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
The other issue is that this dish is usually served with vegetable tempura. Now, I'm not balking on making tempura since I've made it before and it is not really that hard to make. The problem is, I have to make the batter without any eggs. That right there is the challenge. I found this recipe that uses flour, corn starch and soda water and while it created a thin batter that coated the vegetables, it barely held on to the vegetables that by the time you fried them, it just fell apart. It is the reason why I waited another week before posting this dish since I had to remake it again. That wait was indeed the right move as my tempura this time came out as it should be.

A few things to remember:  

1. Tempura do not really hold their crispiness for that long so it is best 
    eaten right away. 

2. The tempura batter has to be prepared at the last minute. This will 
    ensure that the gluten is not activated creating a crispy instead of a 
    doughy texture.

3. The seasoning is minimal since the idea is to dunk the tempura or the 
    tonkatsu into a dipping sauce. 

Pork Tonkatsu:

1-2 lbs lean pork
salt and pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup flour
1 large egg, beaten with 2 tbsp cold water
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup oil for frying

1. Heat the oil in a frying pan at medium high heat. Brush the pork with the 
    olive oil on both sides and season with salt and pepper. 

2. Arrange the flour, egg wash, and Panko bread crumbs in three deep 
    dishes. Dredge the pork pieces in the flour and dust off the excess flour. 
    Dip into the egg wash and dredge one more time in the bread crumbs. 

3. Fry the breaded pork until golden brown. Drain on a rack lined with paper 
    towels. Keep warm. 

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Vegetable Tempura:
1 cup flour
2 tbsp corn starch
1 tsp salt
1 cup water
Vegetables of choice 
  (zucchini, yellow 
  squash, sweet yam, 
  mushrooms, broccoli, 
1/2 cup oil for frying 

1. Heat oil until it 
    registers 340-350°
    in a frying pan. Peel 
    the sweet yams if using and slice into thin rounds. No need to peel the rest
    of the vegetables listed. 

2. Combine the flour, corn starch, and salt. When ready to fry, add the water
    and stir just until mixed. The mixture will be thick. 

3. Dip the vegetables and ensure that both sides are coated thinly. Fry until 
    the vegetable and coating are crispy. Drain on a wire rack lined with paper
    towels.  Keep warm.

Tempura Dip:
1/4 cup vegetable broth
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup Tamari soy sauce
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp rice vinegar

To make the dip, combine the ingredients and mix well. 

To serve the tonkatsu with the tempura, arrange a cup of steamed sushi rice in the center of a large plate. Garnish with slices of green onions and a sprinkling of toasted and black sesame seeds. 

Slice the pork into thin slices and arrange alongside the rice. Arrange the vegetable tempura next to the tonkatsu. Serve with the dipping sauce. 

To keep both the tonkatsu and the tempura crispy while frying, keep them warm in a preheated oven at 200°F until ready to serve. They are both best served as soon as possible.  

Monday, March 26, 2012

Mango Mousse Cake

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
I have been dreaming of this cake for years now. I've translated the Peach Charlotte into cake form with my Peaches and Cream cake but I have yet to try it with mangoes. I've done a bit of research and most of the mango mousse cakes have a cake base and filled and frosted with a mango mousse filling and topped with either a mango puree in gelatin form or fresh slices of mango that have been brushed with a glaze to a golden hue. Obviously, I went for the latter judging from the picture.

To make this cake without adapting recipes from other blogs, I decided to use three things that I know how to make (and make well) and where to buy: a chiffon cake, a custard cream-based frosting, and two cans of mango halves. The chiffon cake recipe I have uses orange juice and orange zest to give the cake a citrusy flavor. I decided to switch it up and went for a lemony flavor instead. I also adapted the frosting I use for the Charlotte cakes and incorporated diced mangoes into it.

The cake came out to be really tall and I think I will have to make some adjustments to the height of the cake and how much mousse I want to incorporate but overall, the cake was delicious. The size of the cake might be daunting but it was feathery light that you literally inhale it without feeling like you ate a ton of brick. The sweetness of the mangoes is balanced by the subtle flavor of the custard cream frosting. Basically, the cake just screams, "Sping, Spring, Spring!"

Mango Mousse Cake

6 large eggs, separated
2 1/4 cup cake flour
1 1/2 cup sugar
4 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
zest of two lemons
juice of two lemons made up with water to 3/4 cup
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line two 9-inch round cake pans. Set aside. 

2. In your mixer bowl, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar at high 
    speed until stiff peaks form. Do not underbeat. Transfer the meringue 
    into another bowl.

3. In the same mixer bowl, sift the cake flour, baking powder, sugar, and 
    salt. At medium speed with the whisk attachment, add the oil, lemon zest,
    lemon juice and vanilla extract in the order they are written. Mix until
    just incorporated. 

4. Fold in the egg whites and mix well. Divide the batter into the two pans  
    and bake for 55 minutes. Increase the temperature to 350°F and bake for 
    another 10 minutes. 

5. Cool the cake in the pan upside down on a wire rack. 

Custard Cream Frosting:
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups heavy cream
15-oz mango halves, canned
4 eggs, separated
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. In a double broiler, soften the gelatin in the half and half. Continue to 
    cook until the gelatin has dissolved. 

2. Combine the egg yolks and 1/4 cup sugar. Add to the gelatin mixture and 
    continue to cook with stirring until thick. 

3. Remove the custard from the heat and cover with clingfilm and cool to 
    room temperature.

4. Beat the egg whites in a mixer bowl with the whisk attachment at 
    medium speed until frothy. Gradually add the white sugar and once added,
    increase the speed to high until stiff peaks form.

5. Add the vanilla to the custard mixture and fold in the egg whites. 

6. In a separate bowl, beat the cold heavy cream at high speed with the 
    whisk attachment until thick and holds its shape. Fold into the custard 

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To assemble the cake, loosen the cake from the pan by running a sharp knife between the cake and the pan. Invert the cake onto a rack and invert again onto a cutting board. Run a knife halfway across the cake to slice each cake in half. 

Drain one can of the mango halves and dice into small pieces. Fold into a third of the custard cream frosting. 

Lay one bottom layer of a cake onto a serving platter. Top with a third of the mango cream custard frosting. Top with a top layer of the cake. Frost with another third of the mango cream custard frosting and continue to layer ending with a top layer of the cake. 

Frost the whole cake with the remaining custard cream frosting and set aside in the fridge overnight to set. 

Whipped Cream Frosting and Topping:
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin in 2 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
3 tbsp apricot preserves
15-oz mango halves, canned (reserve 2 tbsp of the syrup)

1. Heat the gelatin plus two tablespoons of water in a small bowl in the 
   microwave for 10 seconds to dissolve the gelatin. 

2. In a mixer bowl at high speed with the wire whisk, beat the cream while 
    slowly adding the dissolved gelatin. Continue to beat until the cream has 
    doubled in volume. 

3. Lower the speed to medium and add the confectioner's sugar and continue 
    to beat until stiff peaks form. Add the vanilla and beat until just 

4. Frost the cooled frosted cake with a thin layer of the whipped cream. 
    Drain the mangoes reserving two tablespoons of the syrup. Slice the mango
    halves into wedges and arrange on top of the cake. 

5. Combine the syrup with the apricot preserve and brush over the mango 
    slices. Pipe the remaining whipped cream frosting around the mango slices 
    and keep the cake chilled until ready to serve.  

Vegan Carrot Cake

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For the vegan folks out there, here is my version of carrot cake which I think came out pretty well. It was dense, moist and not overly sweet which is the best part in my opinion. This recipe is adapted from my carrot cake post with a few adjustments to accommodate my friends who are currently on the no-dairy and no-egg diet for lent. It was a challenge to find ways of making sure the cake does not stay flat since I'm omitting one of the components that help make the cake come together and give it a light texture. Overall, it came out wonderfully and I will not hesitate to make this again on a regular basis for health reasons.

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The frosting is a challenge since the combination of confectioner's sugar and Tofutti cream cheese results to a very wet frosting. The addition of vegan butter actually holds the frosting together and you end up with a creamy frosting that is almost as good when made with real cream cheese. Addition of lemon zest perks up the flavor which masks the fact that you are using vegetable-based products as substitute for the dairy component.

Vegan Carrot Cake

2 cups cake flour
2 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder*
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup crushed pineapple, pureed
3 cup carrots, shredded
1 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease two 9-inch round pans and line the bottom 
    with wax paper. Grease the paper. Set aside.

2. In your mixer bowl, Sift the cake flour, sugar, baking pwder, cinnamon, 
    and salt. Using the paddle attachment, add the oil and pineapple puree. 
    Increase the speed to medium and beat until well mixed.

3. Lower the speed to medium and add the carrots. Mix until well mixed. 
    Add the vanilla and mix one last time. 

4. Divide the batter into the two pans and bake for 45 minutes. Cool in the
    pan on a wire rack.

Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting

2 8-oz Tofutti cream cheese
1 cup confectioner's sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 stick vegan buttery sticks, diced
1 tsp lemon zest
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, diced

1. In a clean mixer bowl, combine the cream cheese and at low speed with 
    the whisk attachment, add the confectioner's sugar until fully 

2. Increase the speed to high and add the diced buttery sticks until fully 
    incorporated. Beat until the frosting has thickened. Add the vanilla and
    the zest and beat until just incorporated. Set aside.

To assemble the cake, loosen the cake by running a spatula between the baking pan and the cake. Invert the cake onto a cooking rack and invert the cake back onto a serving platter. Spread with a third of the frosting and top with the second cake. Frost the cake all over and smoothen the top with a spatula. Press the diced walnuts onto the sides of the cake. Set aside in the fridge for at least two hours before serving. 

*It has come to my attention that I used baking powder when I should have used baking soda. The cake was actually very tasty and very moist. You may venture to try and see if using a baking soda will improve the texture of the cake which is a bit dense but I will leave it up to you. Taste-wise, this cake was delicious!

Salmon Tartare

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
One of my guilty pleasures is watching the show Worst Cooks in America. I don't watch it to gloat over the contestants since I know that certain people should really not be allowed in the kitchen. The fascination stems from rooting for the contestant with the saddest back-story and hoping that they do make it past the next round. It is the same sentiment I feel when watching Chopped. I always wish the most obnoxious person be the first to go. To me, this makes the world a whole lot better place to live in. Anyway, while watching this show on a Sunday, my friends stopped by to say hello after being away for a week due to spring break. At that point, the contestants were preparing salmon tartare which gave my friends the idea to suggest it for a future dinner. Being a big fan of sashimi and at the same time, curious as to what it will taste like, I said yes. Pending, of course, if sushi-grade salmon is available in town. Otherwise, it will have to be tuna tartare. 

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Recipes for the tartare varied from being just plain cubed salmon sparingly seasoned with sesame oil and a few other spices to more complex ones where chopped cucumbers, jalapeno and onions are mixed with the diced raw fish. The rawness of the fish also varied from almost sashimi-like to being cooked almost like in a ceviche dish. Personally, I like the addition of lemon to perk up the flavor without marinating the fish since I like to savor the freshness of the fish. For this dinner then, I went for a tartare that is almost sashimi-like in texture and to top it off, I garnished it with caviar as influenced by a recipe on the Zen Can Cook blog. The salmon is balanced by the addition of avocados which gives the dish a buttery taste in your palette. The fish itself, although raw, surprisingly loses its fishy taste and smell after seasoning it with a minimal amount of spices. Overall, this dish is very clean both in design and in taste.

Salmon Tartare - Adapted*

1/2 lb sushi-grade salmon
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil + 1 tsp extra
2 tsp chives, chopped
2 tsp shallots, diced finely
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp zest of lemon
pinch of white pepper
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
Roe (Lumpfish caviar)
1 avocado
pinch of salt and pepper
1 cucumber

1. Dice the salmon into a fine dice using a sharp knife. Set aside in a bowl. If 
    not serving right away, keep the diced fish in the fridge. The salmon has 
    to be cold when served.

2. Add the tablespoon of olive oil, shallots, chives, one teaspoon of lemon 
    juice and the zest, white pepper and the Kosher salt. Check for flavor and 
    a tiny bit more of salt if needed. Set aside.

3. Slice the avocado in half and remove the pith. Spoon out the flesh and 
    dice finely. Season with one teaspoon olive oil, one teaspoon of lemon 
    juice and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix well. 

4. Trim the end of a cucumber and using a mandolin, make paper thin slices. 
    You will need three for each serving.

5. To plate, lay three cucumber slices on a plate and with a small cookie 
    cutter, spoon a tablespoon of the avocado mixture on top of the 
    cucumber slices and pack lightly. Top with a tablespoon of the salmon 
    tartare and flatten the top. Dot with half a teaspoon of the caviar. Pull 
    out the cookie cutter and serve right away.

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
I was able to make 8 servings from the recipe above. I was actually a bit apprehensive since I'm not a big fan of caviar. However, the delicacy of the tartare needed the punch from the caviar so the best way to eat this dish is to take a little bit of the caviar and push your fork down taking bits of the tartare and the avocado mixture. This way, the three flavors mix in your mouth resulting to a complex and yet delightful amalgamation of tastes and textures. To add to the decadence, my friend also served salmon caviar on an artisan bread.

*Zen Can Cook Salmon Tartare.


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I have been dying to make this dish for some time now but personal reasons have not made it possible for me to indulge in this wonderful dish. I had my first taste of hummus about 4 years ago when I was preparing a Moroccan-inspired dinner for friends back in Atlanta. I've seen hummus in various parties and picnics but I never bothered to try it for myself. When I did make my very own hummus, I had to check with friends if the taste was right or if I did make hummus. From then on, I try to make it whenever I can find a reasonably priced tahini which is the main ingredient for the dish.

I originally planned to prepare this treat as part of our packed lunch to rendezvous with friends at Yellowstone's Boiling River. Due to a change of plans, we ended up going there late Friday afternoon instead of a Saturday so there was no need to pack any food. As a result, I am now left with a bottle of tahini with no reason to make hummus. An occasion did present itself and so I was able to make hummus this weekend. The recipe I use was adapted from Ina Garten's recipe. I'm also going to make it without the aid of a food processor since I killed mine while making the Garam Masala sauce.

Hummus - Adapted*

2 15-oz chickpeas, canned + 4 tbsp liquid from the can
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/3 cup tahini
4 tbsp lemon juice
8 dashes of hot sauce
1 tsp salt
olive oil
pinch of paprika

1. Drain the chickpeas reserving 4 tbsp of the liquid. Mash the chickpeas with
    a fork until roughly ground. Transfer to a mixer bowl and add the reserved

2. With the paddle attachment, beat the chickpeas until smooth at high
    speed for 3-4 minutes.

3. Add the tahini, lemon juice, hot sauce and the salt and beat until
    combined. Check for flavor and set aside in the fridge covered with

4. To serve, arrange a mound of hummus and create a well in the center.
    Drizzle in a good amount of olive oil and garnish with a pinch of paprika on
    the sides. Serve with pita bread.

*Garten, Ina, Barefoot Contessa, Food Network Channels, The Mediterranean Feast episode:1999.

Batinjaan Zalud

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This is an appetizer dish that goes well with couscous. As a relish, it goes well when served with stews and grilled meats. The dish is reminiscent of an eggplant dish that my Dad used to make with the main difference being how the eggplant is cooked. My Dad grilled the eggplants with the skin on, until it chars while the eggplant meat cooks and softens on the inside. The cooked eggplant meat is recovered by peeling off the blackened and charred remains of the skin. For this dish however, the skin is peeled off and the eggplant is sliced into 1/2-inch thick steaks and fried until it turns brown and soft. 

I have made this dish quite a number of times and have learned a few tricks on how to use only a reasonable amount of oil since eggplants tend to soak every last bit of oil in a hot pan. I'll explain this method below but once you've mastered it, then this dish is something you will love to make over and over again. If prepared as a relish, it is best when made the night before you have to serve it. It allows the flavors to mellow down and meld.

Batinjaan Zalud - Adapted*

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
2 eggplants
1/2 onion, grated
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
4 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp sugar
1 tomato
1 tsp parsley, chopped
1 black olive
1/2 cup canola oil
olive oil

1. Heat the canola oil in a large pan over medium heat. Peel the eggplants 
    and cut into 1/2-inch rounds. When the oil is hot, add the eggplants in 
    one layer. You will have to do this in batches.

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2. When the oil has been 
    soaked, flip the 
    eggplants and lower 
    the heat to medium 
    low. Press on the 
    eggplants until the oils 
    starts to ooze out. At 
    this point, the oil will 
    be released from the 
    eggplant. Fry until 
    golden brown on both 
    sides. Set aside in a 
    glass bowl and cook 
    the remaining 
    eggplants. Make sure to readjust the heat back to medium heat for each 

3. While the second batch of eggplants are frying , mash the fried eggplants 
    in the glass bowl. When the oil separates from the mashed eggplant, pour 
    the oil back into the pan where the remaining eggplants are cooking. 

4. When all the eggplants have been fried and mashed, season with the 
    lemon juice, pepper, sugar and salt. Mix well and cover with clingfilm. Set 
    aside in the fridge overnight. 

5. When ready to serve, arrange a mound of the eggplant making a shallow 
    well in the middle. Drizzle with enough olive oil to fill the well and arrange 
    slices of the ripe tomato in a concentric pattern. Dot the center with the 
    olive and sprinkle the parsley all over. Serve cold.

*University of Pennsylvania African Studies Cookbook. 


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A falafel sandwich meal is one of my favorite lunch meals when I worked at Emory a few years ago. There is this falafel place across the street from the Physics building that served falafel on a pita bread. Since the owners were Japanese, they also served sushi and various dumplings to go with your falafel meal. It was an alternative to the shawarma sandwich I used to eat a lot of. I got hooked once I had my first taste and it was always a toss-up on whether I should go for the shawarma or the falafel for lunch. 

I have been meaning to make this dish for some time now but I just needed the right time to serve it. This weekend seemed like the perfect occasion since I also made the Moorish Beef Kebabs. The falafel will serve as an alternative main dish for my vegan friends. If my memory serves me right, the falafel sandwich came with a white sauce and upon searching for a recipe, I came up with a non-dairy version of the tzatziki sauce. The recipe for the falafel is from Fayed Saad at while the accompanying tzatziki sauce is from Alton Brown's at the Food Network Channels.

Falafel - Adapted*

1 15-oz can chickpeas, canned
1 onion, grated
3 tbsp flour
salt and pepper
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
canola oil for frying

1. Drain the chickpeas and mash until smooth. Add the rest of the 
    ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Cover with clingfilm and set 
    aside in the fridge for about an hour. 

2. Place the falafel mix in the freezer about 5 minutes before frying. Heat 
    the oil in a frying pan over medium high heat.

3. Take pingpong ball-sized rounds of the mixture and flatten a little bit 
    before dropping into the hot oil. Fry until browned. Flip the falafel and 
    lower the heat to medium. Cook until browned. 

The falafel should be crispy on the outside but still soft inside so you have to cook it a bit darker than the usual golden brown stage. Be careful not to go overboard or you will end up with a dry falafel. If you have to fry in batches, remember to bring up the heat of the oil for each batch back to high heat. These brown nuggets are best eaten dipped in a cold tzatziki sauce.

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Tzatziki Sauce - Adapted**

12 oz Tofutti Sour Cream
1 cucumber
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
4 garlic cloves, finely 
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp parsely leaves, 

1. Peel and deseed the 
    cucumber. Dice finely and set aside in a bowl. 

2. Combine the rest of the ingredients in the bowl with the cucumber and 
    mix well. Adjust the flavor with the salt. It should have a good balance 
    between salty, sour and sweet.  

3. Set aside in the fridge until ready to use. 

*Fayed, Saad,
**Brown, Alton, Good Eats, Food Network Channels, My Big Fat Greek Sandwich episode: 2005. 


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Samosa is one of my favorite Indian snack and the best ones I've tasted so far were sold in Atlanta for a dollar. It had the perfect combination of savory flavor, heat and texture. So far, I've not come close to recreating this treat but I do use a recipe from my Indian cookbook that is quite good in itself. I've made some minor changes to the spice mix but kept the overall integrity of the dish. I've also added to the original recipe since phyllo dough was used so I had to find a good substitute for the dough. If you are in a hurry, a good substitute is the frozen pastry dough sold in grocery stores but to make your own is really not that big a deal. 


2 lbs potatoes
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp coriander seeds, crushed
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 large jalapeno, deseeded and diced finely
1 onion, diced
2 tbsp chopped parsley or cilantro
4 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp cumin powder
salt and pepper

1. Peel the potatoes and boil in water until soft. Drain and cool. Dice into
    small cubes and set aside. 

2. Add the rest of the ingredients and adjust the flavor with salt and pepper.
    Set aside.

Make the dough  while the potatoes are cooking. This simple recipe will yield 18 large samosas.

Pastry Dough:
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsp canola oil
8-12 tbsp cold water

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Combine the flour, salt and the olive oil. With the dough hook attachment at low speed, add the water until it starts to come together. Increase the speed to high until the dough clumps into one single mass. Go slow on the water since it is easier to add more than to remove it. Wrap with clingfilm and set aside for 30 minutes.

When the filling is ready, unwrap the dough and transfer onto a floured surface. Knead the dough until it is elastic and doesn't stick to the board. Add more flour if necessary. Divide the dough into 18 parts. Using a floured rolling pin, flatten each dough portions into a 6-inch round circle.

Divide the filling into 18 parts and fill a pastry circle with one part of the filling. Fold the edges into a triangle and seal by pinching the edges.

To cook, heat about 1 cup canola oil in a large frying pan at medium heat. Fry the samosas in batches until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels and serve warm with your choice of chutney.  

Couscous with Clementine and Dried Fruits

This dish is the perfect accompaniment to any Moroccan dish. I had to come up with a recipe to use our extra clementines and I was glad to chance upon a post featuring 8 recipes that makes use of leftover clementines. What is also exciting about this post is that they feature this fruit in a couscous dish. The zest lends the couscous a fresh flavor while the slices of the citrus provides a good balance between the savory and sweet. The dish was originally made with just pitted dates but I figured the addition of dried apricots and plums will result to a more complex flavor and texture to the dish. Mint leaves are used as a garnish but I had to go with my gut instinct on this one. I just do not like mint and I've stuck to using mint before because the recipe calls for it but I always end up disliking the dish. This time, I decided that parsley will have to do.

Couscous with Clementine and Dried Fruits

2 cups couscous
2 2/3 cup vegetable broth
3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
zest of 3 clemintines
diced clementine slices (from the 3 clementines)
1/4 cup dried pitted dates, diced
1/4 cup dried apricots, diced
1/4 cup dried plums, diced
1 15-oz chickpeas, canned
1/2 cup diced olives
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
salt and pepper

1.  Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and saute
     until slightly browned. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Add the apricots, dates and the zest and saute for two minutes. Add the
    broth and bring to a boil.

3. Once the broth has come to a boil, add the couscous and stir to mix.
    Turn off the heat and cover the pot for 5-10 minutes.

4. Once the liquid has been absorbed, fluff the couscous and add in the
    olives, chickpeas and the plums. Mix well.

5. Add the parsley and clementine slices and toss to mix and serve right
    away while still warm. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Kebab Koutbane (Moorish Beef Kebabs)

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
This weekend, my kitchen takes flight to Northern Africa, specifically Morocco. I do love Moroccan food and I always try to make my Moroccan Chicken given the chance. This week though, I wanted to try something new and I decided to go for this beef kebab marinated in a Moorish spice mix. Usually served as an appetizer, I'm serving it as the main dish. The key to this dish is to use a good cut of beef and to marinate it for at least three hours. Only then will the marinade seep through the meat and tenderize it even more and bring out the meaty flavor that will surely impress.

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The marinade is very simple with a base of vegetable oil flavored with grated onions. Grating the onions really brings out the onion flavor especially when cooked on a hot grill. I also used a good cut of beef, sirloin steak to be exact, and it had a bit of marbling which was also necessary so that the meat does not dry out when cooked. A bit pricey for 9 kebabs but it was totally worth it. The recipe is taken from the African Studies website at the University of Pennsylvania which I think is a part of their program to test out recipes from Northern Africa.

Kebab Koutbane - Adapted*

2-2.5 lb sirloin steak, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup vegetable oil
1 onion, grated
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced finely
1 large zucchini, cut into tenths
10 large bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 5 minutes

1. Combine the oil, coriander, cumin, salt, pepper and minced garlic in a
    large bowl. Add the meat and mix well. Cover with clingfilm and marinate
    for at least three hours at room temperature.

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2. Prepare the grill and
    make sure that it is
    very hot. Skewer the
    kebab in this order:
    one cube of meat,
    one cube of zucchini,
    three cubes of meat,
    one cube of zucchini
    and topped by one
    meat cube. Do the
    same for the rest of
    the ingredients.

3. Slather the marinate
    over the kebab and lay in one layer over the hot charcoals. Cook each side
    about two minutes making sure each of the four sides are golden brown
    but not dried out. Serve right away with slices of lime. Couscous is a
    wonderful accompaniment to this dish.

* Kebab Koutbane recipe.   

Monday, March 19, 2012

Dave Lieberman's Best Chocolate Cake

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
This was something I  made on the fly since we had friends over with just an hour's notice. Good thing I had the Irish stew ready for reheating and the pasta I wanted to make was quick and easy. The dessert on the other hand will take a bit of time to prepare. I also have to make sure I have two kinds since half of our guests cannot consume any dairy or eggs during lent. After looking through my stash of ingredients in the cupboard, I realized I have just about everything for Dave Lieberman's Chocolate cake. I have featured the same recipe as the base cake for my Black Forest cake and Chocolate cakes but not as how Dave likes to serve it. There may not be enough time to let it cool but a gooey warm chocolate cake with chocolate ganache is something I think will appeal to anybody who likes chocolates. The non-dairy and no egg dessert will have to be a simple caramelized sweet yam/potato casserole.

Dave Lieberman's Best Chocolate Cake - Adapted*

1 1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
3 eggs
1/2 cup (4oz) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup yogurt
1 1/2 sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup hot coffee

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round pans. Set aside.

2. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt and baking soda through
    a sieve into a large bowl. Set aside.

3. Add the eggs to the melted butter and mix well. Add the yogurt, vanilla
    extract and the sugar and mix to combine. Pour mixture into your mixer

4. With the paddle attachment at medium speed, add the flour alternately
    with the coffee starting and ending with the flour mixture. Mix until just

5. Divide the batter into the two pans and bake for 25 minutes. Cool the cake
    in the pan on a wire rack.

Chocolate Ganache:

12 oz bittersweet chocolate
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp brandy

Prepare the ganache while the cake is baking. In a small pan, heat the cream at medium low heat until barely simmering. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Using a wire whisk, work the ganache until it becomes smooth and glossy. Stir in the brandy and allow to cool at room temperature.

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
To finish the cake, run a sharp knife on the sides of the cooled cake to loosen it from the pan. Invert the cake onto a cooling rack and invert back into a serving tray. Pour half the ganache over the cake. Loosen and invert the second cake onto the cooling rack and invert back on top of the first cake covered with ganache. Pour the rest of the ganache on top of the second cake and spread to cover the top. Allow to set for another hour. The cake can be served at room temperature  or chilled. Serve with a side of sweetened whipped cream.

*Lieberman, Dave. Dave's Dinners: A Fresh Approach to Home-Cooked Meals. Hyperion, New York: 2006.

Smoked Oysters Rockefeller Pasta

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
Here is the second installment of my post with smoked oysters.  Adapting Tyler Florence's recipe on Oysters Rockefeller, it was just a matter of adding the cooked pasta and a ton of mushrooms to add some texture to the dish. The topping with bread crumbs is not that unusual in a pasta dish since bread crumbs have been used as a substitute for cheese sometimes in certain dishes. I've also seen Lidia cook a pasta dish with a toasted bread crumb dressing as well on her show. I'm holding off on the cheese and using it as a topping this time and I'm also adding the truffle oil a bit earlier to cook down with the pasta to lessen its aromatic intensity. 

Smoked Oysters Rockefeller Pasta

2 3.75 oz smoked oysters, canned
1/4 cup unsalted butter
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 lb mushrooms, diced
4 cups fresh spinach
1/3 cup white wine
1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
2 tbsp chopped pasrley
1/3 cup grated cheese
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp Black truffle oil
1 lb spaghetti, cooked as per packet instructions

1. Cook spaghetti as per packet instructions. As soon as you add the pasta in
    the salted water, heat a large sauce pan over medium low heat. Melt the
    butter and add the garlic. Cook until the garlic turns a light golden brown.

2. Pour half of the garlic butter into a bowl with the Panko bread crumbs. Mix
    well and set aside. To the garlic butter in the pan, return to the stove at
    medium heat and add the mushrooms, red pepper flakes and olive oil to
    saute. Season with salt and pepper until the mushrooms are slightly

3. Add the wine to deglaze the pan and let it bubble for one minute. Add the
    oysters and mix well to heat through.

4. Add the spinach and the pasta from the cooking pot into the pan and mix
    well until the spinach leaves have wilted. Add the buttered Panko and mix
    well. Check for flavor and adjust accordingly with salt and pepper.

5. Drizzle the truffle oil and chopped parsley and toss the pasta one last time
    before serving. Serve with grated Parmigiano Reggiano on the side.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Dan's Full Breakfast

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
I came up with this idea to try and make my own version of a full English breakfast, albeit by accident. Given that I now have gout, the possibility of eating several kinds of sausages with bacon and eggs gives me a sense of dread. I'm just not up for another round of pain on my foot for days. However, I have the urgency to try out various ways of using the HP brown sauce I bought when we had the steak dinner about a month ago. The most consistent answer to what goes well with it are sausages, fries and fried eggs. Thus, I decided to prepare this elaborate breakfast meal today with the help of my friend. He made the potato pancakes instead of fries without using eggs as a binder. The sausages I picked were breakfast links. Two fried eggs were also included into the already full plate. A few slices of fresh tomatoes were the perfect finishing touch to this feast. 

Halfway through my plate, I was already full. I plowed along until I did finish my plate although to be honest, I felt that a mound of steamed rice was missing. I guess you can take me out of the country but but not the Filipino in me. Overall, a very wonderful way to start the weekend. Definitely not a breakfast to eat everyday but rather probably every month or two. It was just way too much food. Still, it was good pairing everything with the HP brown sauce. A bit sweet but it was delicious. I'm still a ketchup man though. 

Irish Beef Stew

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
In celebration of St. Patrick's Day, I decided to cook a few Irish dishes to celebrate this festive day. Since I could not go out and drink, I might as well make something I could eat, in moderation. Corned Beef and Cabbage seems to be the most popular dish prepared on this day but I decided on a more simple fare, the Irish Stew. I reckon another round of the movie Leap Year might go well with this Irish inspired dish.

The stew is very simple made with only four ingredients so I wanted to add some complexity to the rather basic flavor. For one, a good bottle of pale ale was a wonderful addition in both the flavor to the broth and in tenderizing the meat. A dash of HP brown sauce also added a bit of sweetness to the stew. I'm not sure an Irish will appreciate the additions but I hope that both can be overlooked.

Irish Beef Stew - Adapted*

2 lbs beef ribs
1 1/2 onion, quartered
1/2 lb bacon, cut into 1-inch dice
3 lbs potatoes
2 cups water
1 bottle pale ale
2 tbsp HP brown sauce
salt and pepper

1. In a large pot, arrange the beef on the bottom of the pot. Top with the
    onion slices and diced bacon. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Add the water and bring to a boil at medium heat. Once boiling, cover
    and decrease heat to low. Simmer for an hour and a half.

3. Peel the potatoes and cut into large chunks and add to the pot. Add the
    beer and HP brown sauce and cover to bring back to a simmer.

4. After 30 minutes, increase the heat to medium and allow the broth to
    concentrate uncovered. Check for flavor and adjust accordingly. Serve
    with a slice of warm Irish Soda Bread.

*Tighe, Eileen: Editor, Women's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery Volume 6, Fawcett, Publications, New York: 1966.

Irish Soda Bread

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
Soda Bread is a quick bread which uses baking soda instead of yeast as the rising agent. In Ireland, cake flour or a soft flour is used to achieve the soft texture of the bread. Buttermilk is the primary liquid used but stout or yogurt can also be used. The recipe I followed is adapted from Ina Garten since the recipe I have on hand is very basic and I wanted to incorporate some currants into the bread I wanted to make. The dough is very wet and soft and if you read the instructions on how to make the bread dough, it is advised not to knead it. I made this slight mistake following Ina's recipe but it actually came out still soft and moist. 

Irish Soda Bread - Adapted*

4 cups flour
4 tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1 3/4 cup lowfat buttermilk
1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, diced
1 cup currants + 1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp orange zest

1. In your mixing bowl, sift the flour, sugar, salt and baking soda. Preheat 
    the oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Using the paddle attachment, add the butter at low speed until 

3. In a small bowl, combine the egg, buttermilk and orange zest. Pour into 
    the flour mixture until incorporated. 

4. Add the currants with the flour and mix just until combined. 

5. Switch to the dough hook and at medium speed, process the dough until 
    it comes together. Do not overwork the dough. Add 1-2 tbsp of flour to 
    help the dough come together. Dough will be wet.

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
6. Transfer the dough into 
    the prepared baking 
    sheet and shape into a 
    circular mound. Score 
    the top with a cross 
    using a serrated knife. 
    Bake in the oven for 
    45-47 minutes or until 
    golden brown. To check 
    for doneness, tap the 
    top and it should sound 
    hollow. Cool on a wire 
    rack and serve warm or 
    at room temperature. 

*Garten, Ina, Barefoot Contessa at Home, Food Network Channels, Baking Basics episodes: 2006.