Author: davidlei2014

No-Chicken Chicken Nuggets – Seitan (Wheat Meat)

Gluten warning! (If you are gluten intolerant, please do not try this recipe out; seitan is definitely not gluten free).

So, Seitan – also known as wheat meat. Seitan is basically wheat gluten (the protein that makes bread chewy). In itself, it is pretty flavorless, but it is definitely good for when you want something that has a bite to it. Seitan might also be where vegetarian/vegan food get a bad reputation (along with tofu, which I also thoroughly enjoy). The wrong brand of gluten sometimes has an off flavor, the texture might be really strange, and it might not be worth the hassle. This wheat meat, however, is very light but packs a lot of protein and also a lot of B-vitamins due to the nutritional yeast. What is this nutritional yeast? (I buy both of these in bulk online – pretty affordable). Nutritional yeast is a bit different from, although the same species, as Baker’s yeast and Brewer’s yeast. This yeast has been deactivated. It contains a lot of B vitamins – especially B12 (which is a little hard to get from plants). This gives the nuggets that savoriness and adds a nice complexity to the taste. The recipe below is for approximately 70 nuggets and only 3 ingredients (maybe 4 if you include flour for coating). You can make these as big as you want, flavor them however you want, and cook them any way you want.

Basic seitan

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2 cups of vital wheat gluten/gluten flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill (I’m not endorsed by them), but I found that their final product does not have that off flavor I was talking about). You can also add a little bit of this to your next bread and it’ll come out even better!

1/2 cup of nutritional yeast

about 1.5 cup of vegetable broth (I do this through bouillon, but you can definitely use your own or use different types of vegetable stock)

(Flavor these however you like; you can add poultry seasoning, soy sauce, vegan worcestershire sauce, etc…)

-You will also need an addition 6 cups of stock to cook the nuggets in. You can also change the flavor of the stock to change the taste of your seitan. This basic recipe will be delicious regardless. *Heat this while you are making the nuggets!

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All you have to do is mix the dry (the vital wheat gluten and the nutritional yeast) and then add the stock. Form a dough and break off little balls (a little smaller than golf ball size). The dough should not be very wet, but should still be a little tacky. Very easy!!

Drop these into simmering vegetable stock (again, flavored as you would like) and simmer for 30 minutes. In this time, they will expand a little. At the end of 30 minutes, drain.

While this is simmering, preheat the oven to 350F.

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When these are drained, coat them with some seasoned flour or bread crumbs. When all coated, place onto a lined baking sheet and then bake for 30 minutes. If you are going to coat these with sauce, I would recommend flour. If you are going to eat as is, I would recommend bread crumbs).

When finished baking, you can coat these with sauce. If you want to save some for the future, this would be the time to put them into a ziploc or a plastic container and freeze them. I baked mine with flour and then coated it with some honey barbecue sauce, and they were awesome! These are great anytime!

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This recipe is highly versatile, and you can treat these as you would any other type of nugget. If you want something a little sinful, you can even fry these!

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Simply Decadent – Chocolate Mousse

After a long day at school, for maybe thirty minutes, I would stare at my cabinet debating between making a meal or using that box of mac and cheese and then end up eating the mac and cheese anyway. The reality is that there are days when you just don’t want to cook, let alone make a dessert. Sometimes you just want something simple and delicious. If you’re like me, you’ll also want something chocolatey.

This chocolate mousse is made up of three components (the chocolate custard, the whipped egg whites, and the whipped cream)

You will need:

Chocolate custard:

3 oz of chocolate (any chocolate you like, I used 1 oz of 72% cocoa and 2 oz of milk chocolate) chopped

1/4 cup of heavy cream (can use milk, but add 1 tbsp of butter at the end)

2 tbsp granulated sugar

A pinch of salt

1 egg yolk (save the egg white)

Whipped Egg White (*RAW EGG ALERT: omit this step if you don’t want raw eggs – double the whipped cream):

1 egg white (save from the custard)

Whipped cream:

1/4 cup of heavy cream

2 tbsp of granulated sugar

1/4 tsp of vanilla

Although this dish has three parts, it really only has about 6 ingredients.

Chocolate Custard

For the chocolate custard, you will need to combine the heavy cream and sugar in a small saucepot and heat over a medium-low heat until the cream is steaming a little. While that is happening, put the egg yolk into a bowl.

When the cream is steaming, slowly pour the milk into the egg while whisking vigorously. When the egg and cream are mixed, pour the mixture back into the saucepot and heat until slightly thickened.

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Once thickened, add the chocolate and salt. When the chocolate has been fully incorporated, place into a large bowl and set aside. If you didn’t have heavy cream, this is when you mix in the butter.

Whipped Egg White 

Using a mixer or a whisk, beat the egg white until stiff peaks form.

Whipped Cream

In another bowl, whip the cream and sugar until stiff peaks form. Mix in the vanilla.

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For the egg white and cream, I whipped them in a mug using a whisk and a making a motion as you would with a plastic toy propeller.

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When done, fold the whipped cream into the custard to lighten it up. Once that is incorporated, fold in the egg whites. If you didn’t use the egg whites, divide the whipped cream into two and incorporate in two steps. This is to prevent all the air from leaving.

Pour into glassware of your choice. I used a couple of martini glasses and added blackberries to the top of the mousse. Serve chilled.

All in all, this dessert takes maybe 20 minutes from start to finish – a quick dessert that tastes like you spent hours.

The Long Wait for Overnight Cinnamon Buns

Yeast. I think as a baker, there’s this unspoken rule to use it at least once. In all honesty, I hate using yeast: it’s temperamental, it’s high-maintenance and worst of all, it’s slow. If I wanted something quick and delicious, I would make something cinnamon roll pancakes (Carmen posted a recipe a couple of weeks back)… not wait hours for bread to rise. But, without using it, you lose access to all different kinds of bread. So, as this is crossing my mind, I’m trying to think of what to make. How can I ease myself into doing this? Why not do something overnight? I’ll be sleeping anyway, so why not capitalize on that time.

As a first attempt in the world of yeast breads, I made some overnight cinnamon rolls.

The recipe follows:

For 6 rolls:

Dough:

1/2 cup of warm milk (around 100ºF)

1/2 cup sugar

1 package (1 and 1/4 tsp) yeast

1/4 cup melted butter

1 egg

pinch of salt

2 cups all purpose flour

Filling:

1/2 cup of softened butter

1/4 cup of sugar

1 tbsp cinnamon

*Note: feel free to adjust the ratios for the cinnamon sugar

Steps:

Dissolve the sugar and yeast in the warm milk and wait for it to become foamy (~5-10 minutes)

Add the melted butter, egg, and salt and mix until well combined

Slowly incorporate the flour and knead until the dough is smooth (either by hand or with a stand mixer)

Place the dough somewhere warm covered with a towel until the dough has doubled in size

Once doubled, knock the air out and roll into a rectangle

Spread the softened butter and sprinkle cinnamon sugar (adjust for how sweet you want these to be)

Roll and then cut into 6-7 pieces

Place into a greased dish

This is what my rolls looked like:

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Let this sit in the refrigerator overnight and let it rise 1-2 hours the next morning.

Next morning:

Preheat the oven to 375ºF

After the second rise, bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown

They should look something like this:

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For a first attempt, it was alright. My housemates liked them, but I think they could definitely use a little more oomph. One key thing that I’ve learned from this is to use fresh yeast and try to maintain the temperature around 100ºF consistently during the non-overnight rises. My dough might also have been too dry, so using flour sparingly is also key. But overall, not too bad.

Good luck, and hopefully, your rolls turn out better than mine. If you have suggestions, that would also be great.

Corn Muffins/Cornbread

It’s been a really cold week in New England, so what better time to make some corn bread and chili! Cornbread can be made in mini muffin tins for smaller portions. That’s what I did here, and as a result, each piece is an edge piece, which is honestly what makes cornbread so good.

You’ll need:

1 cup fine ground corn meal

1 cup all purpose flour

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp baking powder

1/3 cup of butter

1/3 cup sugar

1 egg

1 cup milk

Honey (optional)

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 400ºF

In a little pot or pan, melt the butter and heat until the milk solids have turned brown and the butter is smelling nutty on med-low heat. Remove from the heat immediately.

Grease a dish to bake the cornbread/corn muffins in.

While the butter is cooling, mix all the dry ingredients.

Mix the wet ingredients (egg, butter, flour) and add this mixture into the dry ingredients.

Mix gently until combined. Pour into a mini muffin tin, cake pan, etc…

If you are baking it in a mini muffin tin, the muffins will take about 10 minutes to cook. If you are cooking it as cornbread, it will take approximately 20-25 minutes.

When cooked, drizzle honey onto the cornbread/corn muffins and let the honey soak in.

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Serve warm.

As long as you keep an eye on them, they should come out moist and delicious! These are wonderful plain, with a dab of butter, or with soup.

They are definitely worth the 20 minute investment!

Enjoy!

Bibimbap

One of the favorite things I like to make is bibimbap, which translates to mixed rice. The variety in the dish comes from the meats and vegetables you mix with the rice, the condiments, and the way you prepare the rice. This, in my opinion, truly elevates rice to another level. Feel free to change it however you like. Bibimpbap is a dish that is elegant in its simplicity and execution.

Things you will need:

Condiments/Sauces:

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Soy sauce (Any brand will do; if you purchased a Korean soy sauce, make sure that you check that it is not soy sauce for soup, since this type of soy sauce is fairly salty)

Gochujang (Hot pepper paste) – You can always substitute a little Rooster sauce or Chili Garlic Sauce

Sesame oil (This is essential)

Fixins

Most of the variety comes in the fixins – the vegetables and meats that you want to include in your dish. The following is what I had on hand.

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Spinach

Mushrooms

Mung Bean Sprouts

Eggs

Cucumbers

Avocado

Zucchini

Other things: beef, tofu, carrots, gosari…anything you want to have

Instructions

Spinach: Sauté with a tsp of oil and garlic. When cooked, add a tsp of sesame oil

Cucumbers: Julienne (cut into matchsticks) and place aside

Zucchini: Julienne. Cook in a tsp of oil and add a tsp or two of soy sauce. Cook until tender.

Mung bean sprouts: Sauté in oil and add a tsp of soy sauce

Avocado: Dice and put aside.

Mushrooms: Slice. Sauté in oil and add a tsp of soy sauce

Eggs: Cook until over easy

Assembly:

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Place rice at the bottom of a bowl with a tablespoon of sesame oil. If you want to prepare dolsot (stone pot) bibimbap, place rice into a sesame oil coated dolsot and cook until crispy. Continue with other steps.

Add all of the fixins that you have made and top with an egg.

Add a dollop of gochujang and sesame oil to your liking. Take a spoon and mix.

Your final product will look like this:

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It’s that easy. You can use whatever vegetables you would like to eat or have on hand. The preparation steps are a little long, since each item needs to be prepared individually. The final product is definitely worth the effort, and I think this will be a great addition to your arsenal. The creaminess of the avocado and the freshness of the cucumber really meld all the flavors nicely. Include anything and everything you have on hand. This is one of the dishes I always put in my rotation of dinners I prepare in the week.

Enjoy!

Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies

My housemate really enjoys red velvet cheesecake. I was trying to figure out a way to capture the essence without actually having to make an actual cheesecake, since I didn’t have a pan. I thought maybe red velvet cheesecake in brownie form would do just that. The recipe is adapted from a couple of sources, but any recipe should be fine.

Ingredients

Red Velvet Portion

1 1/2 cups of flour

4 large eggs

2 tsp of lemon juice

Red food coloring (gel form) [you can substitute with concentrated beet juice also]

3/8 cup cocoa

2 sticks room temperature butter

2 cups of sugar

1 pinch of salt

1 tbsp of vanilla

Cheesecake Portion

2 8-oz (16 oz) of cream cheese (can substitute with Neufchatel but might be mildly grainy)

1 1/2 cup sugar (can make sweeter/less sweet if preferred)

1 tbsp vanilla

2 large eggs

Instructions

Phase 1

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter a 9 * 13 baking dish, and line with parchment paper (for easy cleanup).

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Cream together the softened butter and sugar until light and fluffly. Once fluffy, add two eggs at a time. I attempted to use a whisk for the creaming thinking that I would save time on cleanup, but please use a wooden spoon or the paddle attachment on a standmixer.

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Once the eggs are incorporated, add the cocoa and salt. Follow up with the red food coloring and lemon juice.

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The batter will be slightly red; you can make the batter redder if you would like it to be more red. Once done incorporating the color, fold in the flour. At this point, overmixing can hurt your batter. When you cannot see any white, take out 1/4 of the batter and save for later. Pour the batter into the baking dish. When this is done, move onto the next phase – cheesecake portion.

Phase 2

Mix the cream cheese with the sugar. Add the vanilla and eggs. My mixture was kind of chunky, but it turned out alright in the final product.

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When done, spread cream cheese layer over the red velvet layer. When even, dollop reserved red velvet all over the cream cheese layer. Take a knife or toothpick and curve through the red velvet and cream cheese to create swirls.

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My swirls were horrible, so it might be better if you do very deliberate motions. When you feel happy with your swirls, place into the middle rack of your oven and bake for 45 minutes (might take a little longer or shorter depending on your oven).

The final product turned out pretty well, and the parchment allows for quick removal and cleanup. I hope your enjoy them! They were definitely not as finnicky as an actual cheesecake.

Final product with a chunk taken out.

A Taste of Summer: Chocolate Covered Eclairs with Berry Pastry Cream

I can’t quite admit to myself that I’m already halfway into the Fall semester. Hockey season is also upon us. What better way to bring back summer than enjoy some lovely berries. I also had a lot of eggs, and I think two things – custard and choux pastry. I thought the richness of the choux and the chocolate would provide a nice contrast to the tartness of the berries; the flavors are reminiscent of another classic dessert, chocolate covered strawberries. Although seemingly daunting, these little pastries are very easy to make and provide a lovely foundation for many desserts. The elegance in its simplicity is what makes it so wonderful.

There are multiple parts, and I recommend you change the flavors depending on what you like and if you want to make it savory or sweet.

Materials:

Whisk

Spatula

Plastic Bag/Pastry Bag

Saucepan

Choux Pastry (adapted from Joy of Baking)

1 cup of all purpose flour

1 tsp of white sugar

½ tsp of salt

½ cup of butter

1 cup of milk

4 eggs

Berry Pastry Cream

½ cup of mashed berries

2 egg yolks

1 cups of milk

1/3 cup of sugar

2 tbsp flour

2 tbsp cornstarch

Chocolate

1 lb white chocolate

4 oz dark chocolate

Step 1:

You are going to cook the pastry before baking it, thus making it one of the baked pastries that actually require you to cook beforehand. First, you’ll need to heat up the milk and the butter in a saucepan on medium (do not let the milk burn). When that is happening, combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl.

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Step 2:

Once the butter/milk mixture looks all warmed up, add all of the dry ingredients and mix with a spatula (a whisk would get too messy). You want it to form a dough.

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Continue mixing until the dough clumps together and forms a thin layer of dough on the bottom of the saucepan when mixed. This will take around 5-10 minutes. You’re drying out some of the water, so you get a nice and crisp pastry.

Step 3:

Take saucepan off the flame. Mix an egg in a ramekin or a small bowl and place into the saucepan. Mix and continue mixing until it is all incorporated. There will be a point where it looks like your dough broke -continue mixing and it will work out. After you incorporate one egg, incorporate the other eggs one by one.

Just continue mixing!

Just continue mixing!

Step 4:

You know you’re done when your dough looks like this:20141007_195154

Step 5:

Pipe using a pastry bag/gallon bag onto parchment in circles (if you want to make cream puffs/profiteroles) or long tubes if you want eclairs. Once done, use a wet finger and smooth out any edges. Bake at 400 F for 15 minutes, and turn the oven down to 350 F and cook until the pastry is brown and dried. Open the oven door to let steam out once in awhile. This step takes around 30 to 45 minutes. Be vigilant. While this is baking, move onto making the pastry cream.

Once done, they will look something like this:

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They should be hollow on the inside and crisp on the outside. A good way to tell is give it a little knock using a fork and you’ll hear the crispness/hollowness. Proceed to step 6.

Step 5A (Adjust according to your recipe):

Whisk the egg yolks and dry ingredients in a saucepan. Once all incorporated, add in the milk and berries. Whisk until all combined. Place onto a burner on medium and continue whisking until thick. Once done, place into a container with plastic wrap touching the surface. Cool.

Step 6 (Adjust according to your recipe):

Melt white chocolate on a Bain-marie/double-boiler or in a microwave. Dip or spread white chocolate over your pastries. Melt the dark chocolate and using a spoon, lightly drizzle the tops of the pastries.

Step 7:

Cut in half or using a piping bag, take the chilled pastry cream and fill the pastries. The final product could look something like this. If you don’t like chocolate, you could always use caramel. If you don’t like berries, you could leave it plain or flavor it using something that matches the topping.You could even stop at making the dough and fry them for a nice treat. You could always go the savory route, make a salmon mousse and fill the puffs with that, and it would make a great hors d’oeuvre.

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Step 8: Eat!

Overall, not a bad effort. These were quickly consumed, but you could freeze them and eat at a later time. I think the berry flavor was too subtle, so I might double the berry amount. You can adjust the milk to match the liquid, but you can always wait a little longer and the pectin should aid in setting the cream.

I hope you enjoy this different take on the classic chocolate covered strawberries! Enjoy the fall weather and the hockey season.

David