Updates from February, 2011 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • pixeltheatre 12:01 am on February 27, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Daring Bakers 47th Challenge: Panna Cotta and Florentines 

    The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies. Two of my favorite treats. The florentines made with oats instead of shaved almonds was an interesting twist. The panna cotta is a smooth and refreshing dessert. I served it with mixed berries reduced in balsamic vinegar. That’s the way I first learned to do it in cooking school and it’s still my favorite way to balance the creaminess of this dessert. Thanks for reminding me the simplicity of this dessert.

    Giada’s Vanilla Panna Cotta


    1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
    1 tablespoon (one packet) (15 ml) (7 gm) (¼ oz) unflavored powdered gelatin
    3 cups (720 ml) whipping cream (30+% butterfat)
    1/3 cup (80 ml) honey
    1 tablespoon (15 ml) (15 gm) (½


    oz) granulated sugar
    pinch of salt


    1. Pour the milk into a bowl or pot and sprinkle gelatin evenly and thinly over the milk (make sure the bowl/pot is cold by placing the bowl/pot in the refrigerator for a few minutes before you start making the Panna Cotta). Let stand for 5 minutes to soften the gelatin.
    2. Pour the milk into the saucepan/pot and place over medium heat on the stove. Heat this mixture until it is hot, but not boiling, about five minutes. (I whisk it a few times at this stage).
    3. Next, add the cream, honey, sugar, and pinch of salt. Making sure the mixture doesn’t boil, continue to heat and stir occasionally until the sugar and honey have dissolved 5-7 minutes.
    4. Remove from heat, allow it to sit for a few minutes to cool slightly. Then pour into the glass or ramekin.
    5. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight. Add garnishes and serve.

    Hope you love it!

    Chocolate Panna Cotta

    Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit

    1 cup (240 ml) whole milk1 tablespoon (15 ml) (7 gm) (¼ oz) unflavored powdered gelatin
    2 cups (480 ml) whipping cream (30+% butterfat)
    ½ cup (115 gm) (4 oz) sugar
    ¾ cup (145 gm)(5 oz) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
    ½ teaspoon (2½ ml) vanilla extract


    1. Pour milk into a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over the top, set aside for 2-5 minutes.
    2. Place a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir in cream, sugar and vanilla. Bring to a low boil.
    3. Add chocolate and whisk until melted. Whisk the milk/gelatin mixture into chocolate cream mixture. Whisk until gelatin has dissolved.
    4. Transfer to ramekins, or nice glasses for serving.
    5. Cover and chill at least 8 hours, or overnight

    Nestle Florentine Cookies

    Recipe from the cookbook “Nestle Classic Recipes”, and their website.


    2/3 cup (160 ml) (150 gm) (5.3 oz) unsalted butter
    2 cups (480 ml) (160 gm) (5 2/3 oz) quick oats
    1 cup (240 ml) (230 gm) (8 oz) granulated sugar
    2/3 cup (160 ml) (95 gm) (3⅓ oz) plain (all purpose) flour
    1/4 cup (60 ml) dark corn syrup
    1/4 cup (60 ml) whole milk
    1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
    pinch of salt
    1½ cups (360 ml) (250 gm) (9 oz) dark or milk chocolate

    Preheat oven to moderately hot 375°F (190°C) (gas mark 5). Prepare your baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper.

    1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan, then remove from the heat.
    2. To the melted butter add oats, sugar, flour, corn syrup, milk, vanilla, and salt. Mix well. Drop a tablespoon full, three inches (75 mm) apart, onto your prepared baking sheet. Flatten slightly with the back of your tablespoon, or use a spatula.
    3. Bake in preheated oven for 6-8 minutes, until cookies are golden brown. Cool completely on the baking sheets.
    4. While the cookies are cooling melt your chocolate until smooth either in the microwave (1 1/2 minutes), or stovetop (in a double boiler, or a bowl that fits atop a saucepan filled with a bit of water, being sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl).
    5. Peel the cookies from the silpat or parchment and place face down on a wire rack set over a sheet of wax/parchment paper (to keep counters clean).
    6. Spread a tablespoon of chocolate on the bottom/flat side of your cookie, sandwiching another (flat end) cookie atop the chocolate.

    This recipe will make about 2 1/2 – 3 dozen sandwiched Florentine cookies. You can also choose not to sandwich yours, in which case, drizzle the tops with chocolate (over your wax paper).



    • Mary 9:27 am on February 27, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      I was really happy to be reminded of this dessert as well. I bet it was delicious with the berries.

  • pixeltheatre 12:01 am on February 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: soba noodles, tempura   

    Daring Cooks 22nd Challenge: Cold Soba Salad & Tempura 

    The February 2011 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by Lisa of Blueberry Girl. She challenged Daring Cooks to make Hiyashi Soba and Tempura. She has various sources for her challenge including japanesefood.about.com, pinkbites.com, and itsybitsyfoodies.com. After last month’s fat-laden, yet oh so good, cassoulet, I welcomed this healthier dish. Yes, there was some frying involved, but most of it was vegetables. I wasted no time in completing this challenge. Like many asian dishes, this challenge involved a fair amount of prep, but was well worth the effort. We ended up making tempura yams, asparagus (fantastic!), jalapeno, zucchini and shrimp. I also tried perilla leaves after reading Audax’ rave reviews. The Japanese store I shop for all japanese food things carried some. Interesting taste, but not my favorite. The shrimp and asparagus were. We do our frying outside, using hun’s bbq’s burner. Luckily, the weather cooperated, and the rain didn’t start after we finished frying. We served the soba noodles with the spicy sauce and grilled minute steak, marinated in PC’s Memories of Korea sauce.

    Cold Soba Salad & Tempura

    Preparation time:

    10 Minutes for the sauce
    10 Minutes for the noodles
    30 Minutes for Vegetable Preparation
    5 Minutes to Serve

    Depending on you, I can make this meal, from walking in the door after work to sitting down to eat in under 30 minutes, so it should be pretty quick.

    20 minutes vegetable preparation
    10 minutes making the batter
    30 minutes frying time

    Again it depends how much your making and what equipment your using.

    Equipment required:
    • A Saucepan
    • A colander
    • Large Bowls
    • Small bowls
    • Ice
    • A Knife
    • A chopping Board
    • A Deep pan for frying
    • Oil for frying
    • Small tongs or Chopsticks
    • Covered container for shaking dipping sauce

    Hiyashi Soba:

    Recipes courtesy of Globetrotter Diaries and About.com-Japanese Food
    Serves 4

    Soba Noodles:

    2 quarts (2 Liters) water + 1 cup cold water, separate
    12 oz (340 g) dried soba (buckwheat) noodles (or any Asian thin noodle)


    Cooking the noodles:

    1. Heat 2 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Add the noodles a small bundle at a time, stirring gently to separate. When the water returns to a full boil, add 1 cup of cold water. Repeat this twice. When the water returns to a full boil, check the noodles for doneness. You want to cook them until they are firm-tender. Do not overcook them.
    2. Drain the noodles in a colander and rinse well under cold running water until the noodles are cool. This not only stops the cooking process, but also removes the starch from the noodles. This is an essential part of soba noodle making. Once the noodles are cool, drain them and cover them with a damp kitchen towel and set them aside allowing them to cool completely.

    Mentsuyu – Traditional dipping sauce:

    2 cups (480ml) Kombu and Katsuobushi dashi (This can be bought in many forms from most Asian stores and you can make your own. Recipe is HERE.) Or a basic vegetable stock.
    1/3 cup (80 ml) soy sauce or a low sodium soy sauce
    1/3 cup (80 ml) mirin (sweet rice wine)

    *Note: If you can’t find Mirin, a substitute recipe can be found HERE


    1. Put mirin in a sauce pan and heat gently. Add soy sauce and dashi soup stock in the pan and bring to a boil. Take off the heat and cool. Refrigerate until ready to use.

    Spicy Dipping Sauce:

    ¾ cup 70gm/2½ oz spring onions/green onions/scallions, finely chopped
    3 tablespoons (45 ml) soy sauce
    2 tablespoons (30 ml) rice vinegar
    ½ teaspoon (2½ ml) (4 ⅔ gm) (0.16 oz) granulated sugar
    ¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1/8 gm) (0.005 oz) English mustard powder
    1 tablespoon (15 ml) grape-seed oil or vegetable oil
    1 tablespoon (15 ml) sesame oil (if you can’t find this just omit from recipe.)
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste – roughly 1/3 a teaspoon of each


    1. Shake all the ingredients together in a covered container. Once the salt has dissolved, add and shake in 2 tablespoons of water and season again if needed.

    Common Hiyashi Soba Toppings:

    • Thin omelet strips
    • Ham
    • Boiled chicken breasts
    • Cucumber
    • Boiled bean sprouts
    • Tomatoes
    • Toasted nori (Dried Seaweed)
    • Green onions
    • Wasabi powder
    • Finely grated daikon (Japanese radish)
    • Beni Shoga (Pickled Ginger)

    All toppings should be julienne, finely diced or grated. Prepare and refrigerate covered until needed.


    Traditionally soba is served on a bamboo basket tray, but if you don’t have these, you can simply serve them on a plate or in a bowl. Divide up the noodles, laying them on your serving dishes. Sprinkle each one with nori. In small side bowl or cup, place 1/2 cup (120 ml) of dipping sauce into each. In separate small side dishes, serve each person a small amount of wasabi, grated daikon, and green onions.
    The noodles are eaten by sprinkling the desired garnishes into the dipping sauce and eating the noodles by first dipping them into the sauce. Feel free to slurp away! Oishii!


    Recipes courtesy of pink bites and itsy bitsy foodies
    Serves 4


    1 egg yolk from a large egg
    1 cup (240 ml) iced water
    ½ cup (120 ml) (70 gm) (2½ oz) plain (all purpose) flour, plus extra for dredging
    ½ cup (120 ml) (70 gm) (2½ oz) cornflour (also called cornstarch)
    ½ teaspoon (2½ ml) (2½ gm) (0.09 oz) baking powder
    oil, for deep frying preferably vegetable
    ice water bath, for the tempura batter (a larger bowl than what will be used for the tempura should be used. Fill the large bowl with ice and some water, set aside)

    Very cold vegetables and seafood of your choice ie:

    • Sweet potato, peeled, thinly sliced, blanched
    • Carrot, peeled, thinly sliced diagonally
    • Pumpkin, peeled, seeds removed, thinly sliced blanched
    • Green beans, trimmed
    • Green bell pepper/capsicum, seeds removed, cut into 2cm (¾ inch)-wide strips
    • Assorted fresh mushrooms
    • Eggplant cut into strips (traditionally it’s fanned)
    • Onions sliced


    1. Place the iced water into a mixing bowl. Lightly beat the egg yolk and gradually pour into the iced water, stirring (preferably with chopsticks) and blending well. Add flours and baking powder all at once, stroke a few times with chopsticks until the ingredients are loosely combined. The batter should be runny and lumpy. Place the bowl of batter in an ice water bath to keep it cold while you are frying the tempura. The batter as well as the vegetables and seafood have to be very cold. The temperature shock between the hot oil and the cold veggies help create a crispy tempura.
    2. Heat the oil in a large pan or a wok. For vegetables, the oil should be 320°F/160°C; for seafood it should be 340°F/170°C. It is more difficult to maintain a steady temperature and produce consistent tempura if you don’t have a thermometer, but it can be done. You can test the oil by dropping a piece of batter into the hot oil. If it sinks a little bit and then immediately rises to the top, the oil is ready.
    3. Start with the vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, that won’t leave a strong odor in the oil. Dip them in a shallow bowl of flour to lightly coat them and then dip them into the batter. Slide them into the hot oil, deep frying only a couple of pieces at a time so that the temperature of the oil does not drop.
    4. Place finished tempura pieces on a wire rack so that excess oil can drip off. Continue frying the other items, frequently scooping out any bits of batter to keep the oil clean and prevent the oil (and the remaining tempura) from getting a burned flavor.
    5. Serve immediately for the best flavor, but they can also be eaten cold.
    • Audax Artifex 3:36 am on February 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      WOW it sounds like you really had FUN doing this challenge. Sorry to hear you didn’t like the perilla leaves so much but wonderful to hear you LOVED the asparagus. Great work on this challenge.

      Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

Compose new post
Next post/Next comment
Previous post/Previous comment
Show/Hide comments
Go to top
Go to login
Show/Hide help
shift + esc