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Feb 19, 2012 07:56 AM

Things you want to try making

In the 1950s and 60s Seville oranges were used extensively as a landscape tree here, and I think I want to make a "limoncello" out of them, since they're now getting ripe and their peel is just heavenly-smelling . I do like using their juice in marinades.

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  1. Two things: Hum Bao (Chinese pork buns) and rice like I can get at nearly any Mexican restaurant, but the recipe seems elusive.

    For the Hum Bao, it's more complicated than I first imagined. It's a three-parter, first getting the pork right, (cut of meat, marinade, glaze, cooking method), then a sauce for the filling, then the dough. I've been through four marinade/glaze recipes, none of them anywhere near authentic, I'm hoping the one I'm trying later today is better—it seems to be after reviewing the differences from past efforts, and the first one to incorporate maltose, for that sticky coating. Most recipes recommend honey, which isn't authentic at all.

    For the Mexican Rice, I don't seem to get why such a common item can't be easily documented and reproduced. I've come very close, rice cooked in chicken stock, lime juice and tomatoes blitzed in the Cuisinart until pulverized, but it still isn't right!

    16 Replies
    1. re: RelishPDX

      Have you tried toasting the rice in oil or butter before cooking? I find a little bit of toasting and a little less liquid produces close results. I sometimes saute the rice with diced onions before adding the liquids.

      Back to the OP: I have lots of things I want to try making. Problem is my list is ever changing. I find something different to challenge my skills and then make it.

      1. re: RelishPDX

        tomato paste and chili powder definitely helps with the rice!

        1. re: IndyGirl

          I've made it with fresh salsa from the Mexican grocery store, whizzed and then combined with some chicken stock.

          1. re: IndyGirl

            Yup, you see how frustrated this has made me, I forgot to list everything I did in the latest batch, LOL.

            I used the CI or ATK recipe I found online, and it combines sauteeing onion with the rice, then adding finely diced jalapenos, then the broth/tomato blitz, plus I think the lime juice went in at the end. It was also oven-baked, and I lovingly washed the rice under cold water exactly as described. The lime juice was certainly one of the missing components.

            I realize that Mexico has many refined cuisines, but rice seems to be a universal recipe once it hits our shores. The same rice is served in the Jalisco-style sit down restaurant as the 24-hour joint loved by night owls just down the road a piece, as it is in the food truck downtown. It's even the same rice I knew at the great Mexican restaurant on Lemon St. in Vallejo that closed eons ago which served tostadas on small, crisp corn tortillas with diluted white vinegar swimming underneath on the plate (oh, if I just had a time machine!).

            But can I reproduce it at home? Of course not! One day I was so desperate for some, I even paid an outrageous $4/lb. or something at the deli of a Mexican market on the other side of town for enough that I could bag up a few portions for when I next made enchiladas. I felt both extravagant and disappointed in myself at the same time.

            1. re: RelishPDX

              Knor or Maggi Tomato-Chicken bouillon powder (or Goya seasoning). Also don't forget to cook it pilaf style - saute onions, then the rice, then add the seasoning and water.

              The oil may be seasoned with anchiote - though that is more for color than flavor.

              People try to make the rice too complicated.

          2. re: RelishPDX

            You might also try using red enchilada sauce thinned with chicken stock.

            1. re: AntarcticWidow

              !!!!! What a brilliant idea. Enchilada sauce goes onto my shopping list. :)

              1. re: AntarcticWidow

                Alrighty, a quick update.

                At the store tonight I found something called "Salsa de Chile Fresco" or "Tomato Sauce (Mexican Hot Style)" under the El Pato brand. The enchilada sauces didn't look particularly heavy on tomatoes, one of the base ingredients in the ATK recipe. This has tomato puree as the first ingredient plus "Water, Chiles, Onion, Garlic, Salt and Spices." I can add some of the leftover tomato paste sitting in the fridge from a different dish if it needs more tomato power when stirred up with the chicken broth.

                This is the ATK recipe I used:

                It says to omit the tomato paste if using canned tomatoes, which I was, so perhaps that's part of what's missing in this. Thanks everyone for your suggestions. I'll give this a try later this week and report back. (I just realized I'm out of canned tomatoes, LOL)

                1. re: RelishPDX

                  You're going to report back that El Pato is amazing, but HOT. Seriously, it's kick doesn't mess around. (I use it as a base in a quick salsa I make with Rotel & stewed tomatoes plus lime juice & cilantro. Sounds terrible, tastes wonderful.)

                  1. re: shanagain

                    El Pato (the duck) is very hot, and I like hot, but the first time I thought I'd use it in rice it was way too hot.

                    1. re: Barbara76137

                      Aha! Thanks for the head's up. I'll thin it out with some tomato sauce if needed.

                      Good news to report on the Hum Bao front. I was up early this morning and pulled the marinating pork from the latest trial and roasted it. Woohoo! I'd say I'm 98% of the way there, good enough to put it into a trial sauce and dough later on.

                      Two things I'd change in the next batch to make it 100%—I'd use some sweet bean paste instead of fermented bean water in the marinade, and also cut the honey in the glaze. The maltose is sweet and sticky enough on its own, with the honey leaving an aftertaste.

                      This maltose is amazing stuff. I'm going to use it in a recipe for Peking Chicken next. I wonder how it would work with Sticky Buns. Stick-to-your-fingers Buns? LOL

                      1. re: Barbara76137

                        I use it in rice too (with Mex. oregano, cumin, a bit of chili powder and chicken broth for "Spanish" rice - or is that "Shanish"?) and have made that mistake as well.

                    2. re: RelishPDX

                      I once watch the cooks at one of San Diego's most beloved taco shops put a large metal strainer full of rice directly into the deep fat fryer and leave it there for about 90 seconds before taking it out to drain...the rice had noticeably changed color...nearly toasted in appearence.....I think this long toasting in plenty of fat is what gives the rice the allusive texture that is hard to duplicate at home....

                  2. re: RelishPDX

                    Hungarian food-- food of my grandparents, a better version of rouladen than I've made, and plum dumplings which were my father's favorite dessert. Help anyone on this last item? And Beef Wellington just for the hell of it.

                    1. re: berkleybabe

                      My father was Hungarian and he also made the plum dumplings in the late summer when the Italian plums were cheap and in season. Any good Hungarian cook book should have a recipe.

                    2. re: RelishPDX

                      Tempura, but it scares me. I'm sure the batter would fall off of mine(like it does when I try fried oysters).

                    3. Eclairs or profiteroles. I've heard that pâté a choux isn't difficult, but have never tried. I will definately try soon.

                      14 Replies
                      1. re: silvergirl

                        If you have a KitchenAid stand mixer, it is quite simple. Otherwise, you just need a strong arm and it seems difficult to incorporate the first egg but it gets easier....we make gougeure often.

                        1. re: silvergirl

                          It's so easy - I make cream puffs all the time and they're a breeze! (I don't use my mixer, just a wooden spoon, and it's not that much exercise. ;)

                          1. re: shanagain

                            Ooh, cream puffs are definitely on my to-do list as well. I have a recipe in an issue of Cook's illustrated (which I bought b/c of the cream puffs), but it's a bit intimidating. Plus, it's dangerous b/c I love cream puffs and would want to just eat them all. What's the recipe you use?

                            1. re: mahlzeit_yumyum

                              Yes, they are dangerous, you will eat more than you planned. You just will. But they truly are so easy, and not intimidating at all.

                              I don't recall if I wrote this down from one of my cookbooks here (which I do sometimes, just to be able to grab a known-good recipe) or online, but here's what I use (adding the pastry cream recipe - I'm a firm believer in pastry cream wherever you can use it):

                              Cream puffs, yield roughly 20-24
                              Pastry Cream:
                              2 cups milk
                              1/2 cup sugar, divided
                              1 vanilla bean, halved
                              6 egg yolks
                              4 tablespoons flour (all purpose)
                              4 tablespoons butter
                              1 pinch salt

                              Mix the milk, vanilla bean (you can sub with good quality vanilla extract stirred in at the end instead) and half the sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat. While bringing that to a boil, whisk the yolks and remaining sugar until light yellow. Whisk in flour and salt.

                              Just as milk and sugar come to a boil, remove from heat, remove vanilla bean (some ppl prefer to strain some of the seeds, or bouquet garni the bean, I don't - I like them in there). Temper your eggs by slowly drizzling a ladle-ful of hot milk into your bowl of eggs. Then another ladleful and another to be on the safe side. I usually repeat this until the jadeite bowl I use for the eggs is very warm to the touch. Return mixture to saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring or whisking constantly, until mix comes to a boil. Cook and stir for one minute while boiling. Immediately remove from heat and stir in butter (and about a tablespoon of vanilla if you didn't use the bean). Remove to a bowl, cover the cream directly with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator to cool, at least four hours or overnight. (You may strain, but I've never had any lumps with this recipe, knock on wood, because I just decided to make them for Easter.)

                              Cream puffs

                              1 cup butter
                              2 cups water
                              1/4 tsp salt
                              2 cups all purpose flour
                              8 eggs

                              Preheat oven to 400. Bring butter, water and salt to a boil. Add flour, stirring constantly until the mixture forms a thick paste that pulls from the side of the pan. Remove from heat and let rest for a few minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, stirring vigorously to incorporate. (I use a wooden spoon and it works perfectly every time.)

                              Drop choux batter onto a greased baking sheet by heaping tablespoons, about 3 inches apart. Bake 30 minutes or until a pretty golden tan (I don't go brown, just dark tan). Immediately upon removing from the oven, either poke a large hole in the side with the end of a wooden spoon, or split in half, to remove any residual steam. If you have any overly-doughy center, just pull it out and discard.

                              Fill with cooled cream, dust with powdered sugar if desired.

                              Eclairs are also super easy to make with this recipe, piped through a pastry bag or ziploc with the end cut off. You're going for about 4inches long, 1 inch wide, 1 inch high. Then cook as above and use your favorite thick chocolate glaze on top after assembly.

                              1. re: shanagain

                                Thanks! You're awesome.
                                I tend to cut recipes, but not this one. I'm making the full batch. Of course, I blame you entirely if I gain back the ten pounds that I lost recently. ; p

                                wow, it sure uses lots of eggs.

                                1. re: mahlzeit_yumyum

                                  You're welcome, enjoy! And yeah, it really does when you type it all You can cut the eggs in the pastry cream to 4 and it won't suffer much, I know I've done it to make it an even dozen used.

                                  And you "can" cut the cream puff part in half. I'm thinking I've done that also, and made tinier ones so that you end up with as many, but smaller portions. (Like that matters. lol)

                          2. re: silvergirl

                            I made eclairs when I was a kid & was shocked at how easy they were & how well they turned out. It was loooong ago & I don't remember the process, but it was probably a Betty Crocker recipe or something similar. Go for it!

                            1. re: thymeoz

                              Since there are only two of us, a whole recipe is too much so we make the basic dough and then split it in two. One half gets cheese for gougere--the savory. The other half gets sugar for profiteroles--the sweet. I like them with coffee ice cream, my husband likes vanilla--we both like the bittersweet chocolate sauce on top.

                              1. re: escondido123

                                I'm adding eclairs and gougeres to my list. Years and years ago someone made an eclair ring at a party and tried to convince me how easy it was by writing the recipe by heart on a tiny notepad for phone messages. I still have the recipe. Never tried it. And having tried gougeres a few years ago for the first time, I love the idea of making half sweet/half savory. Added to 2012 goals. :)

                                1. re: kattyeyes

                                  They're fun. And once you make them, you can graduate to a St-Honoré, that lovely cake.

                                  1. re: buttertart

                                    Oh, that would be QUITE the graduation--that cake is serious business!

                                    1. re: kattyeyes

                                      Just pastry, a bunch of cream puffs, pastry cream, and whipped cream. "Simples."

                                2. re: escondido123

                                  Once they are baked they freeze beautifully!

                                3. re: thymeoz

                                  I definately will. I'll probably wait until I have until I have guests though. The two main reasons I haven't yet are that there's always something else I want to make and second, if I make them, I will eat them. All.

                              2. I would like to make the following:
                                Croquembouch with a spun glass cage
                                buch de noel
                                roast goose - problem.. I can't bring myself to pay $60 for a goose or work hard enough to hunt and butcher one.

                                roast duck
                                sauteed duck breasts
                                a bombe dessert
                                pot stickers

                                multi-tiered wedding cake my plan will make a few. Once like the product, I will volunteer one at a small wedding, then we will see.

                                9 Replies
                                1. re: Hank Hanover

                                  I found myself agreeing with most of your dishes. I have actually made a few of them. Pot stickers are a little time consuming, but fun to make and not at all difficult. I have ( along with my best friend) made two multi tiered wedding cakes. The first one we made was for my daughter, and the second one we made was for her son. She has one more son. I am willing to make one more multi-tiered wedding cake in my life time, for the second son. They aren't hard to make, it is the getting them to the venue that is extremely nerve wracking. The ones we made were chocolate cakes, with raspberry or strawberry filling, buttercream and then covered with fondant. Decorated with fresh flowers. Three tiers. They were beautiful and they tasted good. more time and then never again. (BTW...same best friends we shared the Mardi Gras dinner with this past weekend, from another post, and it was her husband (soberest person there:) who was the designated "flambe-r" of the bananas foster.
                                  Also agree about the goose...not paying $60 for any bird, and not hunting one either
                                  croquembouch with spun sugar is intriguing...maybe when I retire:)
                                  same with buche do noel....although I detest mushrooms, so can't really imagine wanting to make fake ones:)
                                  I am with you on the duck and the bombe though
                                  Can't really think of anything else I have always wanted to make, because usually, if something strikes me that I want to make, I do. Lately, I have been avoiding rich desserts and my husband was served apple cider doughnut bread pudding, which did sound like something I would like to make.
                                  Also chianti braised beef short ribs, but I will probably actually make them soon.

                                  1. re: Hank Hanover

                                    Pot stickers are fun and easy, although there are a lot of steps. I used the recipe (from the last century) in Cecilia Chang's Chinese cookbook.

                                    I understand you can have a party where your guests make the pot stickers and you cook them. Sounds like a good deal to me.

                                    1. re: sr44

                                      I have gotten together with friends to make: potstickers; gnocchi; and tamales. Many hands make light work and it was fun!

                                      1. re: sr44

                                        Many years ago a friend and I decided to make 200 pot stickers for a group dinner. We decided after making the filling--we bought the wrappers--that smoking one joint would make it all go better. And it did. Until we got tried to separate our pile of pot stickers--we had not separated the rows with paper of any kind. The final dish was noodles with spicy pork.

                                          1. re: escondido123

                                            Hey Escondido - LOL!!! Seriously.

                                            1. re: escondido123

                                              Similar problem only ravioli. A neighbor brought over the largest pan he had and we all ate wedges of ravioli pie w/ tomato onion sauce! Glad I'm not alone with that one.

                                              1. re: escondido123

                                                Thinking back the same thing happened making homemade potpie squares for PA dutch potpie. Sans joint.

                                            2. re: Hank Hanover

                                              croquembouch! Would be on my list, but got to try cream puffs first! I do however volunteer to help eat your croquembouch. If we had ordered a wedding cake, that's what I would have ordered.

                                            3. There's plenty:
                                              - Croissants
                                              - Confit de canard
                                              - Peking duck
                                              - Hand-pulled noodles
                                              - Biryani
                                              - Fessenjoon
                                              - Yogurt
                                              - Cinnamon rolls
                                              - Alfajores
                                              - Mole

                                              and the list goes on...

                                              7 Replies
                                              1. re: Juniper

                                                Best cookbook biryani I've made was from Madjur Jaffrey. Have a home recipe, too, that's quite good. Can post if you'd like, but Jaffrey's is also decent. Best I've ever eaten was a homemade one from a caterer in Bangalore--even the host had it catered from the "official" biryani lady in the neighborhood!

                                                1. re: pine time

                                                  Could you share your biryani recipe, please?

                                                  1. re: pine time

                                                    I would LOVE your biryani recipe... :)

                                                    1. re: Juniper

                                                      Sorry for the delay. Here 'tis...


                                                      2 lbs lamb (can use beef, goat, shrimp or chicken--if using chx or shrimp, omit the 1st cooking step)
                                                      3/4 - l c yogurt
                                                      2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
                                                      2 tsp chile powder (can use ground red pepper, if Indian powdered chile isn't available)
                                                      12 or more small red chilies (dried or fresh), split in two (use seeds if more heat is desired)
                                                      1 c chopped mint leaves (can omit, if using chicken)
                                                      1 c chopped cilantro
                                                      salt to taste
                                                      Garam Masala:
                                                      10 peppercorns (Indian, if available)
                                                      10 whole cloves
                                                      1/2 tsp cardamom seeds
                                                      1/2 tsp shah jeera (black cumin)
                                                      1" cinnamon stick
                                                      1 large onion, sliced
                                                      1 lime
                                                      1 c oil (can use 1/2 oil + 1/2 ghee) (NOTE: I use much less, probably total of 1/2 c)
                                                      1/2 - 1 tsp good quality saffron threads
                                                      1/2 c hot milk
                                                      4 c basmati rice, soaked for 30"

                                                      Spices for boiling rice:
                                                      6 cardamoms
                                                      3 whole cloves
                                                      2 bay leaves
                                                      1 tsp shah jeera
                                                      1/2 tsp ginger garlic paste
                                                      1 tbsp oil
                                                      salt to taste

                                                      cut meat to bite size bits. Grind all garam masala ingredients to fine powder
                                                      Mix all ingredients of the marinade & marinate for minimum of 2 hours or overnight.
                                                      Cook meat w/ 1/2 the oil in a pressure cooker, using no extra water when cooking OR can cook meat on stovetop until tender, about 1 hour. (Omit this 1st cooking stage if using chicken or shrimp. Just marinade and bake as directed, later)
                                                      Squeeze lime juice over meat & mix well.
                                                      Heat oil and fry onions until light brown.
                                                      Soak saffron in hot milk.
                                                      In large pot, bring water to boil. add all spices for boiling rice, mix well. Add rice, continue to cook until nearly done, about 8-9 minutes. Drain rice & keep aside.
                                                      Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
                                                      Arrange rice & meat in layers, beginning with rice. Sprinkle between layers w/ a bit of oil, 1/2 of saffron milk. Try for 2 layers of rice and one layer of meat. Top off with remaining oil, fried onions, and remaining saffron & milk. Cover with aluminum foil and lid.
                                                      Bake for 10 minutes on 400, then for 20 minutes on 350. If using chicken, bake until done.

                                                      Note: can put spices into cheesecloth bags & fish 'em out before serving to avoid biting down on whole spices! Recipe can be 1/2'd, but I usually still use about 2/3 of the called-for spices rather than just 1/2

                                                      1. re: pine time

                                                        Thank you! I'll have to give this a try sometime! :)

                                                          1. re: EM23

                                                            You're welcome. Let me know how yours turns out. There are probably as many biryani varieties as there are Indians!

                                                    1. re: blue room

                                                      blue room, you are AMBITIOUS! I love sfogliatelle, but they look like a world of trouble to make! Someone talented I "know" from the blogging world made them last year. I read her post, then promptly went to buy one. HA HA! :) I know my limits. Though I do have candied orange peel!

                                                      On my to-make list:
                                                      - almond paste - a great idea suggested to me recently and something I'd never considered
                                                      - sourdough starter--or buy it so I can make other sourdough THINGS!
                                                      - a yellow cake from scratch that I love as much as Duncan Hines Butter Recipe Golden
                                                      - galaktoboureko - when I have enough people around to save me from eating the whole pan, MOO!
                                                      - real biscuits with layers instead of the crack-a-can kind I usually roll with

                                                      1. re: kattyeyes

                                                        Love galaktoboureko but have never made it for the same reason!
                                                        Almond paste I've made is not anywhere nearly as good as the store-bought, I gotta say. Those crushers bring out the best in the almonds.
                                                        As good as DH? Surely you jest!