Onion Naan

Onion Naan 1

So, it’s been over two years since I last made naan-style bread.

That’s a long time for me to wait to make something that I enjoy so much. But there was a pretty valid reason for it.If you’ve been following me and my blog for a while then you might remember this story. But if you haven’t been following and/or don’t remember then…what the heck? I’ll recap.

See, the last time that I did make naan, I kiiiiiinda started a fire in my oven.

Onion Naan 5

Oh, yeah. You read that right.

I made one or two pretty serious (and in retrospect, quite silly) mistakes and those mistakes ended up starting a fire. Not to worry. It wasn’t a huge one. No extinguisher was needed. 911 was not called. Everyone is fine. But it still kinda freaked me out.

Since it was my first time making naan I had done some research and seen that the majority of chefs and recipes recommended making it on a pizza stone in the oven with the heat cranked up nice and high–as in, as hot as it could possibly get in order to get those  lovely dark blistered spots on the surface of the naans.

Onion Naan 6

Since I did have a pizza stone, I figured that I should keep up with Joneses and go ahead and use it. The problem came around after the dough had had its final rest and it was time to actually cook them. I was supposed to brush them with melted butter, then plop them down on the pizza stone for about 1-2 minutes per side.

These…were not very good instructions.

In retrospect I really cannot believe I was so stupid. I mean…extremely high heat and melted grease just don’t typically mix well together in any capacity. I should’ve known better and known to make the judgment call to just brush the butter on AFTER the naans had done cooking. But I didn’t.

Onion Naan 7

So, what happened was, the butter was sliding off the naan and onto the pizza stone. This wasn’t such a big deal in the beginning. But then, it started sliding off the stone and onto the oven floor. The 500 degree fahrenheit oven floor. You see where this is going, right? After about the third or fourth naan, there was a mini flare up in the oven. I screamed. Then I shut the oven off, walked out of the kitchen and sat down in a chair to calm down.

About oh…fifteen minutes later I went back in the kitchen, feeling pretty calm and chill. I pulled out a non-stick skillet from the cabinet,  put it over the stovetop and  turned the heat on medium.

Then, I finished the rest of my naans. They were delicious. Fast forward two years later. I was making an Indian entree dish for the first time and I just knew that it wasn’t going to feel complete without some from-scratch naan bread to eat with on the side.

Onion Naan 3

I was prepared for it this time. I knew that I could probably go ahead and use the pizza stone again without having the same incident that I did before, but with summer fast approaching and a tiny kitchen through which the A/C doesn’t ventilate as well as it could, who feels like cranking up the oven to a million degrees? Not me. So I just went ahead and used my non-stick skillet to cook my naans once again. And as you can see, it didn’t force a sacrifice at all on getting the lovely blistered prints on the dough.

Onion Naan 4

Notes on the actual recipe: Dice the onions as small as you possibly can. When onions get VERY small and thin and are exposed to high heat, they sometimes disintegrate. This actually will work in your favor; the flavor of the onion becomes even more absorbed in the dough that way and it’s more tha flavor that you want and not so much a chunk of onion in your mouth. There is flexibility in using regular butter or vegetable oil in the recipe, but I’m going to go ahead and insist that you make an effort to use the ghee. As someone who has made it both ways, there IS a noticeable difference in the taste when using ghee as opposed to vegetable oil. Plus, ghee is something that can usually be found down the ethnic/foreign foods aisle of most standard grocery stores.

Notes aside, This bread is SO good. The onion flavor is just outstanding. I actually prefer this recipe to the one I’ve used before; the bread comes out VERY chewy and tender on the inside and also reheats VERY well in the microwave whereas sometimes leftover naans can have a tendency to get tough. Really good stuff here, guys.

Happy Fiesta Friday weekend #121 as well. Happy Memorial Day to all of us in the States 😉

***********************************************

Onion Naan

Recipe Adapted from Bon Appetit

Print

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/4-ounce envelope active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for surface and hands
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup whole-milk yogurt (not Greek)*
  • 2 tablespoons melted ghee (clarified butter) or vegetable oil plus more

*I didn’t have any yogurt at the time that I made this; instead I used 1 cup of buttermilk. It worked fine, you just may not need to use it all.

Directions

Heat milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until an instant-read thermometer registers 100°. Transfer to a small bowl and whisk in yeast and sugar. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.

Whisk 3 1/2 cups flour and 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl to blend. Add yeast mixture, onion, yogurt, and 2 tablespoons ghee. Mix dough until blended but still shaggy.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface. Knead until a smooth dough forms, adding flour as needed (dough will be sticky), about 5 minutes. Lightly grease another large bowl with ghee, place dough in bowl, and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Punch down dough and divide into 10 pieces. Using floured hands, roll each piece into a ball on a lightly floured surface. Cover with plastic wrap; let rest 10 minutes

Heat a large cast-iron or other heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly coat with ghee. Working with 1 piece at a time, stretch dough with your hands or roll out with a rolling pin to 1/8-inch thickness. Sprinkle with salt. Cook until lightly blistered, puffed, and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Wrap in foil to keep warm until ready to serve.

Banh Mi Spring Rolls

Banh Mi Spring Rolls5

The weather here’s been just beautiful this week and I think it’s finally safe to say that we’ve left winter behind us–though you never really can tell in Michigan. You just take things as they come day by day and pray that the weather report for tomorrow is actually going to be semi-accurate. This week’s forecast was for sunny skies and mid-to upper 70’s.

And guess what? That’s EXACTLY what we’ve been getting. Which, makes me happy. I’m already excited for Memorial Day when my older sister (who’s good at barbecuing/grilling) can fire up our charcoal grill with the meat and I (who am NOT good at grilling whatsoever) can make everything else. Heh.

Banh Mi Spring Rolls1

Today’s recipe really complements the summer weather, as it’s one where you’re not going to need to crank up the oven and make your house/apartment anymore stuffy than it may be already if you’re trying to wait as long as possible to turn on the A/C (like us lol) Additionally, if you’ve got a grocery store in your area that makes good rotisserie chickens, then over half the work’s already done for you.

I was a Banh Mi late bloomer. Up until a couple years ago, I wasn’t even 100% sure of how to pronounce it correctly. (It’s okay if you still don’t either and go from here to Google to find out; that’s how I learned too.)Typically, it’s a Vietnamese sandwich consisting of a crusty baguette style bread that’s split in half and layered with marinated grilled pork or chicken, fresh herbs, and pickled carrots and radishes. I’ve seen versions that also involve pate spreads and spicy chili sauces, but at its core, the above is a good place to start for a Banh Mi virgin.

Banh Mi Spring Rolls3

Banh Mi sandwiches, if you’ve got a place that can REALLY do them well, are bound to become a quick favorite. Seriously, they’re just really hard NOT to like. There’s a Vietnamese/Creole (yeah, I know. Peculiar combination)  restaurant just down the road from where I live that makes them and also made the meal that served as my official induction into the club of Banh Mi sandwich appreciation. There’s also another dish that they make that I simply MUST get each and every time I go there: the spring rolls.

Up until this place opened, I had also never had a Spring Roll that wasn’t made of the standard egg wrappers and fried in oil. I’d certainly see and heard of the translucent rice paper wrappers, but never tried them before and of course–never prepared a dish with them.

Banh Mi Spring Rolls7

Like the Banh Mi sandwich, from that first taste I got of a rice paper spring roll,  I was just hooked. First of all, the restaurant’s seasoning of the pork inside was sublime, and the even though they crammed it full of both meat, veggies and herbs I still walked away from the meal without feeling ‘too full’. There was just a wonderfully refreshing ‘lightness’ to those rice paper spring rolls that’s really made me never want to go back to the old fried way I used to eat them.

Although, don’t get  it twisted: I still have MAD love for a deep fried egg roll. That, I’m never changing my mind and/or taste buds about.

What’s so great about today’s recipe is that it combines both of the dishes from the Vietnamese restaurant near me and makes it into a dish that gives me the best of both worlds; the core elements of the Banh Mi sandwich are rolled altogether in the spring roll rice paper to make a super delicious appetizer, snack, side dish or even meal if you’re game for eating several of these bad boys. I know I am.

Banh Mi Spring Rolls6

This was my first time quick-pickling veggies and using rice paper wrappers and I was pleased to find out it wasn’t that big a deal. Once you’ve rolled your share of egg rolls (and I have) then using the wet rice paper isn’t that big of a challenge. Just as few minor tips:

Make sure your cucumbers are sliced VERY thin, or they may tear or poke holes through the wet rice paper. Be sure to roll you ingredients up nice and tight. Place the finished rolls seam side down once you’re finished to help them “seal” better while you make the rest. AND most important: keep the leftovers wrapped in plastic wrap to keep the rice paper rolls moist. They have a tendency to get a little chewy and tough when left exposed to the air for too long, even if you keep them in plastic containers.

These are super yummy, guys. The pickled carrot and radish provides a tangy acidity that isn’t overpowering when tempered with the savory chicken that’s been juuuuuuust slightly sweetened from being mixed with the Chinese five-spice powder. Depending on the herb(s) you decide to use you’re going to have a different flavor profile but because I prefer it’s mild sweetness I went with the fresh mint leaves that paired very well with the cucumber. This is PERFECT summer food, plain and simple.

I’ll be bringing my spring rolls to this week’s Fiesta Friday #120, co-hosted this week by Loretta @ Safari of the Mind and Linda @ Fabulous Fare Sisters. Thanks ladies.

***************************************************

Banh Mi Spring Rolls

Recipe Adapted from Chow.com

Print

Ingredients

For Pickled Veggies:

  • 1/3 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 (3-ounce) carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 1/2 (3-ounce) daikon radish, peeled and cut into matchsticks

For Spring Rolls

  • 8 to 10 rice paper wrappers
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken (I used rotisserie chicken)
  • 2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1/2 English cucumber, very thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves (small leaves)

Directions

To Make Pickled Veggies:

In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the vinegar, sugar, and salt to a boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Stir in the carrot and daikon and let cook for 1 minute, then remove from the heat. Set aside to cool, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.

Place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator until ready to stuff into rolls.

To Assemble Spring Rolls:

Fill a round cake pan with warm water. Place 1 rice paper round into the water, turning it gently with your fingertips until softened. Carefully remove the sheet from the water and lay it flat on a plate.

Toss the chicken with the five-spice powder. Arrange some of the seasoned chicken in a horizontal line on the wrapper, positioning it about 1 inch or so from the edge nearest you and about 1⁄2 inch from each side.

Top with some of the drained pickled veggies, cucumber, and a sprinkle of mint leaves.

Lift the edge of the rice paper nearest you and place it over the filling, then roll once to form a tight cylinder. Fold in the sides of the rice paper and continue to roll to form a tight cylinder (be careful not to rip the rice paper).

Repeat with the remaining rice paper and filling. Cut each roll in half crosswise at a diagonal and serve with the dipping sauce, if you like. To store, wrap each roll in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Sho Nuff Noodles

Sho Nuff Noodles1

Am I the meanest? Sho’nuff! 

Am I the prettiest?  Sho’nuff!

Am I the baddest mofo low down around this town? Sho’nuff!

Well who am I? Sho’nuff!

Who am I? Sho’nuff!

Sho Nuff Noodles4

Oh, hi guys. Don’t worry, I’m not crazy or full of myself. The above is a movie quote. I decided to open up this post with the direct inspiration/reference for this recipe. Kudos/gold stars/props to anybody out there that knows it on their own. You and I would probably be best buddies if we knew each other outside of the blogosphere.

In 1985, record label executive and legend Berry Gordy and the folks at Motown produced a martial arts/musical movie called “The Last Dragon”. Although it wasn’t exactly a critical success at the time of it being made, it is now considered to be a cult classic of Black cinema. And rightly so; it’s one of my favorite films,especially when you’re watching with a crowd of friends who can quote the movie with you.

Sho Nuff Noodles2

As it turns out, the film is also well-loved by one of my favorite celebrity chefs, Marcus Samuelsson. I follow him on Pinterest/Twitter and one day I saw a recipe pop up in my feed. It wasn’t just the picture that caught my attention, although that was mouth-watering enough to draw me in. It was also the name that he gave the dish that made me immediately want to look into what I would need to make it. Any “Last Dragon” fan worth their salt knows the name of the antagonist of the plot: Sho Nuff.  He’s the kung-fu neighborhood bully who is constantly challenging the protagonist, Leroy Green to a winner-take-all fight. He also travels around with an entourage of people, where he constantly makes them say his name like some kind of a pep rally cheer- hence, the quote.

Once I saw the dish, I knew I had to try it out just to see how Chef Marcus would translate the bold and bodacious personality of the character, into food. It’s not the first dish of his that I’ve tried to interpret and like all the others, this one did not disappoint either.

Sho Nuff Noodles5

I will admit however, the one “draw-back” to this recipe is that in order to make it, you will probably need to purchase the majority of the sauce ingredients from an Asian market. If you don’t have one of those, then online ordering is gonna have to be the way to go. To be honest, I’d never heard of some of them before seeing this ingredient list– but I will say that when combined all together, they make a sauce that is friggin DELICIOUS.

So yes, it is worth it.

Sho Nuff Noodles3

Another awesome thing about this recipe is that it’s versatile enough for those who are watching their carb-intake to still be able to enjoy it. So to adapt this recipe with my own personal spin, I took the liberty of making this dish with both regular lo mein noodles AND Shiritaki noodles. Both turned out fabulously and I’ve included the preparation directions for both in the recie. Also, because I’m also a carnivore you guys know I had to throw some meat in there for the added protein to make this more of a filling meal and less as an appetizer. Also, I threw in some sesame seeds because…why not?

Should you go the extra mile and make this dish? Sho Nuff.

Happy Fiesta Friday #119 and thanks to our co-hosts  Ahila @ A Taste of Sri Lankan Cuisine and Diann @ Of Goats and Greens.

Sho Nuff Noodles

Recipe Adapted from Marcus Samuelsson

Print

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp black bean sauce
  • 1 tbsp kecap manis
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp shaoxing wine
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 1⁄2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 1⁄2 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 1⁄2 tsp yuzu kosho
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1⁄4 tsp ground caraway seeds
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 4 oz shredded cabbage
  • 1 baby bok choy, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 bunch scallions, 3⁄4 cut into 2″ pieces
  • 8 oz cooked lo mein noodles (OR 8 oz. Shiritaki noodles, drained; see directions below on how to prepare for this recipe)
  • 1-1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, diced (or any other protein you prefer)
  • sesame seeds, optional

Directions

Mix black bean sauce, kecap manis, oyster sauce, shaoxing wine, soy sauce, cornstarch, rice vinegar, yuzu, ginger, and caraway in a bowl; set sauce aside.

Heat oil in a 12” wok or nonstick skillet over high; add cabbage, bok choy, and 2” scallions and cook until browned, about 5 minutes.

Add noodles and chicken cook one minute more. Add reserved sauce cook 2 minutes. Garnish with sliced scallions and sesame seeds.

*If you’re using Shiritaki noodles: place noodles in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for about 65-70 seconds. The noodles will be ready when the scent of the fluid they’re  packaged in is gone. If it’s still there after the first minute, you can heat them for another 60 seconds, which should get the smell out. Use a knife to roughly chop until they’re loose and untangled. From here, they can be prepared in the same way as regular lo mein noodles for this recipe.

Alfajores

Alfajores1=2

So at the beginning of this week I was full of all these plans of how I was going to post a series of recipes dedicated to Cinco de Mayo. Some of you guys have been posting up some DELICIOUS looking taco recipes and Lord knows I love me a good taco.

But the truth is, I should’ve been more realistic with myself about what I would and wouldn’t have time to do. It’s been a busy past couple of days, and what with all the activity going on, I feel kinda surprised I was able to carve out time to get this post up at all.

Alfajores1

What’s the buzz all about? Oh well, you know…my older sister Ashley successfully defended her dissertation and earned her Ph.D yesterday.

Guys.

I am SO proud of her. Earning a doctorate is probably one of THE most difficult things I’ve ever witnessed someone take on, but if there was anyone who was up to the task, it’s my sister. She’s brilliant, hardworking, flexible, resilient– pretty much everything I want to be when I “grow up”. And brilliant; did I mention that she’s pretty brilliant?

Alfajores8

The “Defense” part of the process involves the candidate giving a brief presentation of their dissertation to their committee as well as any guests that attend, the committee conducting a questioning of the candidate regarding their research, briefly deliberating, then approving the dissertation itself.

It’s also an event where serving food is generally encouraged.

So, I ‘m sure you guys can guess where I came into this whole process. I ended up putting together a few dishes to serve to the guests at my sister’s defense, as well as at one of her best friend’s defenses the previous day who was also defending her dissertation. I was glad and even honored to be asked to do it, but it also meant that my plan for a Cinco de Mayo recipe series wasn’t gonna happen.

Today’s post is really all I got for ya.

Alfajores4

But trust and believe: it’s still enough.

More than enough.

Alfajores are a traditionally South/Latin American sandwich cookie that I’ve wanted to make for a while. I took a looksie at several recipes and figured that they didn’t look very hard to pull off at all. In fact, the most ‘challenging’ part of making an Alfajor is really only going to come down to the ‘star’ ingredient of the filling: Dulce de leche. You can make it from scratch using multiple methods….or, you can do what EYE did in a pinch, and buy a can of it at the grocery store.

Alfajores5

Look guys, don’t judge me.

It’s not like I don’t know how. If I had say, the 2-3 hours it takes to cook the condensed milk in the oven, then I would’ve. But this week was just too hectic for making caramel so I settled for just baking the cookies from scratch and letting Nestle do the rest.

I regret nothing.

Alfajores6

So I’ll be perfectly honest, I think that the cookies themselves can stand alone even without the Dulce de Leche. They’re light, slightly crisp and oh-so buttery. Think of the perfect tea biscuit and that’s what you’ve got here.

But listen: once you DO add the caramel on the inside and sprinkle the sandwiches with the powdered sugar…NIRVANA.

First of all, Dulche de Leche is yummy enough to eat all by itself on a spoon. Try and resist that urge…at least until you fill all of the cookies. The sweetness of the smooth, rich caramel complements the subtle flavor of the butter cookies perfectly. If you’re in need of a sugar fix alongside a cup of coffee or tea, or hot chocolate then I gotta say this is it.

Happy (Belated) Cinco de Mayo AND happy Fiesta Friday #118   co-hosted this week by Kaila @ GF Life 24/7 and Laurena @ Life Diet Health.

**************************************************************

Alfajores

Recipe Courtesy of Chowhound

Print

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon pisco or brandy
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dulce de leche, at room temperature
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

Directions

Place the cornstarch, measured flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk briefly to combine; set aside.

Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl once with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is light in color and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolks, pisco or brandy, and vanilla and mix until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. On low speed, gradually add the reserved flour mixture and mix until just incorporated with no visible white pockets, about 30 seconds.

Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, shape it into a smooth disk, and wrap it tightly. Place in the refrigerator until firm, at least 1 hour.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator, unwrap it, and place it on a lightly floured work surface. Lightly flour the top of the dough. Roll to 1/4-inch thickness (the dough will crack but can be easily patched back together). Stamp out 24 rounds using a plain or fluted 2-inch round cutter, rerolling the dough as necessary until all of it is gone.

Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets, 12 per sheet and at least 1/2 inch apart. Bake 1 sheet at a time until the cookies are firm and pale golden on the bottom, about 12 to 14 minutes. (The cookies will remain pale on top.) Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Flip half of the cookies upside down and gently spread about 2 teaspoons of the dulce de leche on each. Place a second cookie on top and gently press to create a sandwich. Dust generously with powdered sugar before serving.