Mango Lime Pie

Mango Lime Pie
adapted recipe courtesy of Rick Bayless

For the crust:
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) butter
4 ounces (about 32) Mexican “Maria” cookies (or 16 Graham crackers)
3 tablespoons sugar

For the filling and topping:
1 cup sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
1 1/3 cup cold water
A big pinch of salt
6 egg yolks
1/3 cup fresh lime juice, plus the finely grated zest of 1 large lime
3 tablespoons butter
A big pinch of salt

For the topping:
*due to time constraints, I used whipped topping instead*
4 egg whites (you should have about ½ cup)
1 cup sugar
1 large ripe mango, peeled, flesh cut from the pit and cut into ¼-inch dice
Sprigs of mint, for garnish

1. The crust. Heat the oven to 325 degrees. In a small saucepan, melt the butter, letting it brown slightly. Break the cookies (or crackers) into a food processor and pulse until pulverized. Add the 3 tablespoons of sugar and melted butter, then continue to pulse until the mixture begins to clump slightly. Set aside 3 tablespoons of the crumb mixture to use as a garnish for the tart. Press the remainder evenly over the bottom and sides of 8-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Bake until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. ( In an effort to save time on a weeknight, I used a prepared graham cracker crust.)

2. The filling. In a medium (3-quart) heavy-bottom saucepan, whisk together the 1 cup of sugar, cornstarch, water and salt. Set over medium heat and whisk until the mixture begins to boil (it will be quite thick), 3 or 4 minutes. Add the egg yolks to the hot mixture and immediately whisk vigorously until thoroughly incorporated. Lastly, whisk in the lime juice, zest and butter. Continue whisking until the mixture returns to a boil. Remove from the heat and pour into the crust. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate, covered with plastic wrap, until the filling is chilled and nicely set. (The tart can made 24 hours ahead up to this point.)

3. Finishing the pie. In the metal bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together the egg whites and remaining 1 cup of sugar over a pan of simmering water until the egg whites are very warm to the touch. Remove from the heat and beat with the electric mixer until cool, about 5 minutes; the meringue should be thick and fluffy and hold glossy stiff peaks. (The meringue may be prepared up to 24 hours ahead; cover and refrigerate.)

Shortly before serving, preheat the oven to 500 degrees or set out a propane or butane torch. Scoop the meringue into a ring around the outside edge of the tart (an ice cream scoop works well), then use the back of a spoon or a small spatula to form dramatic peaks in it. Place in the oven for 2 or 3 minutes, until the meringue is evenly browned, or brown the meringue with the torch, moving it back and forth over the surface until browned. Fill the center with the chopped mango, sprinkle with the reserved crumbs and decorate with mint, if you wish.

A little mango sauce (pureed mango, sugar, a dash of water and a little orange liqueur) or chopped strawberries (or whole raspberries) make a beautiful plate with wedges of Mango-Lime Tart.

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Mongolian Beef Filling

The following recipe was used for my Steam Buns cooking class. You can read about my class and get other links to recipes HERE.

Mongolian Beef Filling

2 bunches green onion, cut in 1 inch pieces
1 lb lean beef, sliced thin
salt & pepper to taste
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce

Season sliced beef with salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder.
Sprinkle cornstarch over beef and toss to coat. Set aside.
In hot pan saute garlic and onion in cooking oil until softened.
Add meat and brown.
Add oyster sauce and soy sauce; stir to coat.
Add green onions and toss.
Allow to cool before using as filling.

Lemon Bars

The following recipe was shared during my Chef Spotlight Dinner highlighting recipes of Chef Wolfgang Puck. You can view other recipes and pictures of the event HERE.

Lemon Bars
shared at the event by Joelen
Original recipe found here
Crust
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 ounces unsalted butter, cut into chunks

Lemon Custard
8 eggs
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup lemon zest
Confectioner’s sugar, for decorating

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.

2. In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine the flour, sugar, cornstarch, and salt. With the machine running, add the butter and continue to process until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Transfer the mixture to a buttered 12-by-18-inch baking pan. With your fingers, press it in to form an even layer of crust.

3. Bake the crust until light golden in color, 15 to 18 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, prepare the lemon custard topping. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the sugar, flour, and salt and stir until well blended. Finally, stir in the lemon juice, milk, and lemon zest.

5. Pour the lemon mixture over the prebaked crust, return the pan to the oven, and continue to bake until the custard has set, 20 minutes more. Remove the pan from the oven, let it cool to room temperature, and then chill, covered, in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

6. Before serving, use a sharp knife to cut down through the topping and crust to make 3 dozen bars. Carefully pry them from the pan and dust with confectioner’s sugar before serving.

Orange You Hungry?

With the Tasty Tools event finished, I guess I should submit a recipe using my microplane grater too! But before I get to the recipe…. Everyday on my commute home on the days I’m in the office, I pass the popular Chinese food chain, Panda Express. One of their popular dishes is the Orange Chicken (sometimes you’re lucky if an employee waves a sample morsel for you on a toothpick as you walk past). So why is it so popular? Better yet, how can I recreate it successfully at home? The answer that I found was in the book, Cooking at Home With America’s Test Kitchen (2006). (I’ve been on a cookbook spree to revive some recipes I have stashed in my bookshelves.) Here’s what ATK has to say about the recipe: We prefer the flavor and texture of thigh meat for this recipe, though an equal amount of boneless skinless chicken breasts can be used. It is easiest to grate the orange zest and remove the strips of orange peel before juicing the oranges; use a sharp vegetable peeler to remove the strips. For extra spiciness, increase the cayenne added to the sauce to 1/2 teaspoon. The whole dried chiles are added for appearance, not for flavor, and can be omitted. To fry the chicken, use a Dutch oven or a straight sided saute pan (with at least a 3 quart capacity): do not use a 12 inch skillet with sloped sides, as it will be too small to contain the oil once the chicken is added. White rice and steamed broccoli are good accompaniments.

Here’s the recipe for Orange Flavored Chicken:
Cooking at Home With America’s Test Kitchen (2006)
page 204


Marinade & Sauce:
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skineless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
3/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup juice, 1 1/2 teaspoons grated zest and 8 strips orange peel (each about 2″ long by 1/2″ wide) from 2 oranges
6 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup darn brown sugar
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1/4 cayenne (I omitted)
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons cold water
8 small whole dried red chiles (optional)

Coating & Frying oil:
3 large egg whites
1 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (I omitted)
3 cups peanut oil (I used canola oil)

  • FOR THE MARINADE & SAUCE: Place the chicken in a 1-gallon zipper-lock bag; set aside. Combine the chicken broth, orange juice, grated zest, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, and cayenne in a large saucepan (with at least a 3 quart capacity); whisk until the sugar is fully dissolved. Measure out 3/4 cup of the mixture and pour into the bag with the chicken; press out as much air as possible and seal the bag, making sure that all the pieces are coated with the marinade. Refrigerate 30-60 minutes, but no longer.
    Bring the remaining mixture in the saucepan to a boil over high heat. In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and cold waterl which the cornstarch mixture into the sauce. Simjmer, stirrig occasionally, until thick and translucent, about 1 minute. Off the heat, stir in the orange peel and chiles, if using (the sauce should measure 1 1/2 cups); set the sauce aside.
  • FOR THE COATING: Place the egg whites in a pie plate, using a fork, beat until frothy. In a second pie plate, which the cornstarch, bakig soda and cayenne until combined. Dran the chicken in a colanger or large mesh stainer; thoroughly pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Place half of the chicken pieces in the egg whites and turn to coat; transfer the pieces to the coenstarch mixture and coat thoroughly. Place the dredged chicken pieces on a wire rack set over a baking sheetl repeat with the remaining chicken.
  • TO FRY THE CHICKEN: Heat the oil in an 11-to 12-inch ducth oven or staight sided saute pan with at least a 3 quart capacity over high heat until the oil reaches 350 degrees on an instant read or deep fry thermometer. Carefully place half of the chicken in the oil; fry to golden brown, about 5 minutes, turning each piece with tongs halfway through cooking. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Return the oil to 350 degrees and repeat with the remaining chicken.
  • TO SERVE: Reheat the sauce over medium heat until simmer, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken and gently toss until evenly coated and heated through. Serve immediately.

Coming Out of the Dark: Chocolate Blackout Cake

As I was shopping at my local Whole Food’s Grocery store, I was inspired to bake after coming across their beautiful bakery case. The case was filled with scrumptious looking fruit tarts, fluffy layer cakes, deep chocolate brownies… it was enough for me to hit the kitchen and bake something myself. The question was, what should I bake? Looking at the random ingredients I had on hand and stashed away, it became clear the thing to make was Brooklyn Chocolate Blackout Cake.
I decided to adapt the recipe from The Best of America’s Test Kitchen: Best Recipes & Reviews 2008 (pg 62). This chocolate layer cake is unique in that the chocolate pudding filling doubles as frosting and the entire cake is covered in reserved chocolate cake crumbs. Heavenly! Here’s the recipe… enjoy!

Chocolate Blackout Cake
adapted from ATK
serves 10 to 12

Pudding:
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 cups half & half
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Cake:

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for pans
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
(I used cake flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
(I used extra dark cocoa powder)
1 cup brewed coffee
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

FOR THE PUDDING
1. Cook the granulated sugar,, chocolate, half & half, milk, cornstarch and salt in a large saucepan over medium heat, whisking occassionally, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture begins to buble, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in the vanilla. Transfer the pudding to a large bowl and refrigerate, with plastic wrap pressed flush against to surface, until cold and set, at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.

FOR THE CAKE
1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour two 8″inch cake pans. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the cocoa and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Off the heat, whisk in the coffee, buttermilk, and sugars until dissolved. Whisk in the flour mixture. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans and smooth with a spatula.
2. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the centers come out clean, 30 to 35 mintes, rotating the cake pans halfway through baking. Cool the cakes in the pans for 15 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack. Cool the cakes to room temperature before frosting, at least 1 hour.
TO ASSEMBLE
1. Using a large serrated knife, slice each cake into 2 even layers. Crumble 1 cake layer into medium crumbs and set aside. Place 1 cake layer on a cake plate or cardboard round. Spread 1 cup of the pudding over the cake layer and top with another layer. Repeat with 1 cup more pudding and the last cake layer. Spread the remaining pudding evenly over the top and sides of the cake. Sprinkle the cake crumbs evenly over the top and sides of the cake, pressing lightly to adhere the crumbs. Slice and serve.

WARNING
This cake is extremely dense, creamy and rich. Be sure to have coffee or a glass of cold milk on hand!

Fall Fondue Party!

Fondue has made its comeback as a hip and fun way to eat! Tonight we had folks come on over to dip and dunk their way through dinner & drinks. It was a great event and so much fun fondue-ing!Here is the garlic cheese fondue recipe a friend prepared for the event:

1 pound Swiss cheese, grated
1/2 Gruyère cheese, grated
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 2/3 cups (about) dry white wine
1/3 c Cognac
3 large garlic cloves, minced

Combine both cheeses, starch, nutmeg, and pepper in large bowl; toss to coat. Bring 1 1/2 cup wine and garlic to simmer in a heavy large saucepan over low heat. Add cheese mixture by handfuls, whisking until melted and smooth after each addition. Mix in cognac & more wine (if needed) by tablespoonfuls to reach desired consistency. Note: If mixture begins to separate, add 1 – 3 tsp cornstarch mixed with equal vol. cold wine to simmering mixture. Transfer to fondue pot.

Set fondue over hot plate on med-low heat.
Serve fondue with bread & veggies.
Servings: About 8 – 10
*modified by S. Kramer


Here are some pictures from the event:

Meats!
Chicken Sausage, Chicken Breast, Sirloin & Ham


Veggies!
Par Boiled Potatoes, Broccoli, Cauliflower (& Carrots)Breads!
Whole Wheat Beer Bread, Walnut Artisan Bread
Fondues!
Garlic Cheese, Chicken Broth, Beef Broth, (and hot oil)
Desserts!
Pound Cake, Strawberries, Bananas,
Marshmallows & Graham Crackers
to dip into Semi Sweet Chocolate,
White Chocolate & Caramel
Table Shots:

Thai on a Gloomy Day

What’s a cuisine I haven’t had in a while? Thai! Rather than hitting up the nearest Thai restaurant (several are within walking distance from me) I decided to make some Thai Basil Beef Stir Fry . It allowed me to use up some veggies on hand and savor some favorite Thai flavors.Here’s my recipe for Thai Basil Beef Stir Fry:

2 beef strip steaks, sliced into thin strips
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 medium onion, sliced
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
1-2 tablespoons oil for stir frying
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 cup water
1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
4 roma tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup carrots, sliced
2 small green bell peppers, sliced
1-2 cups button mushrooms, sliced
5-7 fresh thai basil leaves, whole
1 tablespoon each combined: cold water & cornstarch

In a bowl, combine sliced beef w/spices & cornstarch; allow to sit for 10 minutes.
In a wok or large skillet, heat oil and add onions & garlic.
Cook until softened.
Add beef and brown.
Add soy sauce, water and fish sauce.
Add tomatoes and carrots; cook for 3-5 minutes.
Add peppers; cook for 3 minutes.
Add mushrooms & thai basil; cook for 2 minutes.
Stir in slurry of water & cornstarch to thicken sauce.
Serve over steamed rice.