Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Apple Wonton with Onions, Korean Red Pepper Paste and Cayenne Maple Syrup Cream Cheese Filling

This is a healthy version of dessert wonton. Its very long name belies the fact that it is so simple to make.

My inspiration for this comes from a typical dessert at Chinese buffets where wonton strips are fried crisp then drizzled with thick syrup.

I came up with this combination since apples and onion pair well, cream cheese and peppers are a perfect foil for this and besides how can you go wrong with anything fried? The wonton is fried till just crispy but inside there is a slice of crunchy apple with two types of onions, Korean red pepper paste and a Cayenne Maple Syrup Cream Cheese filling. On its own the Cayenne Maple Syrup Cream Cheese can be a great dip for fresh fruits.

The wonton is symphony of flavors and textures--spicy, sweet, tangy, crunchy and creamy! Because it is fried in hot oil for a very short time, it is not oily. Plus, it's fun to assemble with your kids and takes under 3 minutes to cook. I am submitting this to Royal Food Joust for October 2009. The voting will be from October 1-5 only. The three ingredients for this event are apples, maple syrup and cayenne pepper.

1 Granny Smith apple, sliced
1-2 tsp cayenne pepper
4 oz cream cheese
4 Tsp maple syrup
2 tsp Korean red pepper paste
1 white onion, sliced
1 stalk scallions (green onions), sliced crosswise
1 pack wonton wrappers
1 egg white+1 tsp water

Mix cayenne pepper, maple syrup and cream cheese till smooth. Thaw wonton and separate them into sheets. Place an apple diagonally slightly off center on a wonton sheet. Spread a little Korean red pepper paste on the apple. Lay down the onions and cayenne-maple syrup-cream cheese filling as shown in photo. Make sure you leave a clean border along the margins. Seal edges with egg white+water. REMEMBER: Make sure your oil is hot before frying the apple wontons so that they will not absorb too much oil. Fry till light golden brown and crispy. Serve. Yummy!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Single Serve Mini Pavlovas

I was mulling about vinegar, the secret ingredient for Weekend Wokking hosted by Blazing Hot Wok. Then, I recalled this light and airy dessert topped with strawberry and kiwi that I tasted at my friend’s house years back. The origin of this light meringue dessert is highly controversial with both New Zealand and Australia claiming it as their own. What is known is it was created to honor the ballerina Anna Pavlova on one of her tours to Australia and New Zealand in the early 1920's.

In the past, the pavolva recipe by Gale Gand worked well for me. My only problem was it was messy to cut up and serve. So this time I made single serve mini pavlovas instead of a huge dessert. I also replaced the whipped cream with sour cream to cut the sweetness of the meringue.

Here's my recipe loosely adapted from Gale Gand:
  • 4 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups sour cream
  • 2 kiwi fruits, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 10 strawberries, green parts trimmed off, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Using a hand mixer, whip the egg whites, granulated sugar, cream of tartar and salt in a clean, dry bowl until foamy. Slowly add the cornstarch, vinegar, and vanilla and continue whipping until stiff peaks form and the surface is smooth and glossy.

Spoon the egg whites onto a silicon mat/ silicon baking cups. The silicon mat works better as it makes it easier to remove the crispy meringues. In my experience, silicon baking cups may distort some so you won't have perfectly shaped rounds but the texture of the meringue will be similar to marshmallows.

Bake in the center of the oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 300 degrees and bake until the meringue has puffed up and the surface is lightly browned ~ about 45 minutes more. Turn off the oven, crack the oven door open and let the pavlova cool in the oven at least 30 minutes, to room temperature. I actually let it sit in the oven overnight so that it cools gradually to protect the delicate meringue.

Spoon the sour cream in the center of the cooled mini pavlovas. Arrange slices of kiwi and strawberry on top of the sour cream. Serve right away. Delicious.

Pavlova is relatively easy to make but the final product looks so elegant. What do you think?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Kimchi for GYO #35

I asked a Korean student to teach me to make Kimchi. He said, "Oh, that's very difficult, only Korean moms know how to make good Kimchi. It should be fermented in a clay jar and buried in the ground for the flavors to develop just right. We usually buy our Kimchi in Korea, it's delicious and more convenient than making your own. In America, I've never tasted good kimchi even when I buy from Korean stores."

Oh, well. I guess that's what I get for asking a young man who is a college kid! That's how desperate I have become about making real Kimchi.

I learned to make real Kimchi, about ten years ago. We were living at an apartment complex across the University. There were a lot of Korean students staying there too. Every night, I'd hear thumping coming from the floor above and beneath us. There was thumping too next door. At first I thought there were repairs being done but it went on every night, just after dinner, like clockwork. Finally, my curiosity got the best of me. I asked our Korean neighbor what was going on. She laughed and showed me what it was all about. She was making the Kimchi spice mix by pounding the ginger, garlic and hot pepper flakes using a mortar and pestle. So was every other Korean in the building! That explains all the after dinner thumping!

She taught me how to make Kimchi using hot pepper flakes which came directly from Korea. There was no Korean store where we lived but about this time, I had a Korean student who took my class the previous semester. He frequently visited home. It is a custom in most Asian countries to bring back souvenirs/presents to friends and family and he knew I loved Kimchi so he always had a huge bag of Korean pepper flakes for me. That's how my family got into loving Kimchi.

Fast forward, here in the Midwest, my Kimchi lesson is just a vague memory. My past 5 attempts have been hit or miss. More misses, actually. So I've resorted to a short cut.

I know how to make Kimchi the easy way -- by using a Kimchi base. When Michelle W. and I were at the Asian store, I even encouraged her to buy a bottle. I did not bother checking the ingredients since in the past it just said: garlic, vinegar, ginger, salt and sugar. Guess what, the Kimchi base I was using before had changed ingredients. Now it had raw oyster and squid extract, Yikes!!! I had to give away my expensive bottle of Kimchi base. Lucky for Mike M.! So I'm left with no option but to make Kimchi from scratch.

Hubby and Teen have been begging me to make Kimchi whenever I make them a Korean dinner. So I got out my favorite Taekyung Chung recipe for Kimchi.

1 medium head of napa cabbage, cut up into small pieces
1 cup water
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1/2 bunch green onions
5 Tbsp kimchi paste (recipe below)
In a glass bowl, add water and salt. Add napa cabbage and let soak for 2 hours. Drain water and squeeze out excess. Add kimchi paste to cabbage and mix in along with green onions.
Place raw kimchi into 2 gallon ziploc bag and squeeze/press out all the air. The recipe says store the raw Kimchi for 1 day and transfer to airtight container in the fridge. I think it is important to let it become acidic before placing it in the fridge, otherwise the Kimchi becomes slimy or non-lactic acid bacteria will proliferate.

Kimchi paste
1/4 c Korean hot pepper flakes
2 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp fresh garlic, minced
1/2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp sugar
3 Tbsp fish sauce ( the recipe says 2 Tbsp fish sauce + 2 tsp oyster
sauce so I just used 3 Tbsp fish sauce)
Mix together in a bowl till you have a smooth paste.

This is my Grow Your Own submission to for Sept 15, 2009. I'm using green onions from my garden in this Kimchi. The host this month is masalaheaven.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Round-Up Weekend Wokking: Ginger

Here it is--- this month’s Round-Up for Weekend Wokking: Ginger!

Eat Travel Eat
of Southern California made a quick and easy Sesame Glutinous Rice Balls with Sweet Potato and Ginger Soup with store-bought sesame glutinous rice balls, freshly grated ginger, brown candy and baked sweet potato.

Darlene of Blazing Hot Wok brought out her ice cream maker to create a dessert, Ginger Ice Cream with Raisin Sauce topped with toasted sliced almonds. It’s delicious and kid-approved!!

Graziana of Erbe in Cucina in Italy made a spicy blend of ginger, cinnamon, cloves and Earl Grey Tea for a warm and inviting Spiced Tea sweetened with cane sugar.

Sweatha of TastyCurryLeaf from Bangalore, India was dreaming of chocolate and candied ginger when she decided to make Chocolate Chip Ginger Muffins.

Leena of Leena’s Kitchen marinated sirloin strips in soy sauce and cornstarch then created her all time favorite stir-fry dish—Ginger Beef loaded with lots of julienned ginger.

Yasmeen of Healthy Nut made Pineapple Ginger Chutney that is excellent as dip or topping for chips or crackers and can also be mixed in with rice.

Wandering Chopsticks, creator of Weekend Wokking made Vietnamese Steamed Fish with Ginger and Scallions, a healthy dish that brings out the delicate flavor of fresh fish.

Finally, for this month's Weekend Wokking event I prepared a sweet and savory, spicy hot Kabocha Coconut Stew that is rich in beta-carotene and deliciously comforting!

Thanks to all who participated in this fun blogging event! Next month's Weekend Wokking will be hosted by Blazing HotWok and for the secret ingredient, I have chosen : VINEGAR. There is so much variety to choose from so please join us. Send in entries by 11:59 p.m., Sunday, October 4 to blazinghotwok@gmail.com.