Sunday, September 28, 2014

Crunchy Apple Pie from Scratch!

Ah... The period of time that I have been waiting for so long: apple picking time. With freshly picked apples, it is the occasion to make a simple apple pie. Everything from scratch. There are many types of crusts, but what I enjoy most is this one: crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside. It's just a perfect marriage with a sweet-and-sour apple filling.

The filling is rather fancy, I've added red wine to the recipe.

For those who think that it would be difficult to make the apple crust, I would say that you are overestimating! As simple as only 3 ingredients and the rest is all about doing some cardio -- rolling your dough.

Alright, less talk.

Ready time: about 5 hours
Preparation time: 4 hours
Cooking time: 5 minutes
Baking time: 15-30 minutes

Crunchy Pie Crust
260g (2 cups) all-purpose flour
150g (2/3 cups) butter
2-4 tbsp cold water

Apple filling
5 big apples of your choice
1 tsp butter
38g (3 tbsp) sugar
1 tsp redwine
a pinch of cinnamon powder
a pinch of all purpose flour

1. In a food processor, put all-purpose flour and butter. Mix it and gradually add in cold water. Do not leave it for too long as we want the butter to remain cool to create a flaky texture after baking. If you don't have a food processor, you can easily do it by hand. Do not have your hand in direct contact with the dough as it will warm up the butter.

2. When the dough becomes a ball, transfer everything in a saran wrap and shape it in rectangle to make it easier when you will work with it later. My prefered size is about 6"x 7".

3. Let the dough cool down in the fridge for at leave 2 hours or overnight.
4. Once the dough is cooled down, roll it. You will see that the dough has become hard but rolling it several time will soften. Once it becomes as long as 15 inches, fold it into three and roll it over. In folding the dough, you will create several layers to the crust.
5. After folding 3 to 4 times, depending on your preferences, shape it in rectangular and place it in the fridge for about 1 hour.
6. While waiting for the dough to chill, you may now work on the filling. In a cooking pan, set the heat to medium-high and melt the butter.
7. Peel the apple, remove the core and cut it into your preferred shape, whether big, thin, thick or small. To prevent the apple from browning, place them in salted water.

8. Put the apple chunks in the pan and stir fry it with the butter for about 30 seconds.
9. Add in sugar, cinnamon and then red wine to the apple and lower the heat to medium-low. If you don't like or have wine, you can replace it with lemon juice.
10. When the apple looks cooked, add in a pinch of all purpose flour to make the filling slightly thicker. Adjust to your preference. When well mixed, let the filling cool down.
11. While the filling cools, preheat the oven at 450°F.
12. Take the crust dough out and roll it so it becomes as thin as you like and should fit your pie pan. Place the rolled dough on the pan and shape it. Then use a fork to poke the dough so that the filling's juice can integrate in later.
13. Pour in the filling. If you are lazy, you can bake it without out decorating. I had some dough left, so I made a latice blanket to cover.

14. Bake it for 15 to 30 minutes or until you see the crust becoming golden brown.
15. Let it cool down and serve it the way you love.

Good luck and enjoy! 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Easy Peasy Kongnamulguk (Improvisation)

I haven't been cooking for a while and I felt so rusty that I thought that I should prepare something very easy to begin. Mild to the taste, spicy to the smell, kongnamulguk an easy dish to prepare and to get initiated to Korean cuisine if you haven't yet discovered it!

The classic Kongnamulguk is usually made with soybean sprouts, but this time, as we only have regular bean sprouts, I gave it a try and I must say that it tastes pretty similar, except that the sprouts are softer and the stock is slightly sweeter. Also, I have replaced dried sardines with fish sauce, since I didn't have them anymore and also, I remembered that for Kimchi recipes, most modern Korean recipes replace sardines with fish sauce.

Alright, less talk.

Kongnamulguk (4 servings)

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes

at least 100 g of beansprouts
5 cups of water
1 piece of kelp (about 5 g)
1 tbps soysauce
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp gochugaru
Salt to taste
a drop of sesame oil
Green onion to taste

1. Rince the beansprouts and the kelp, put them in a stockpot with 5 cups of water and bring it to boil.
2. When everything is boiling, remove the kelp from the water. Lower the heat to low, add in soy sauce, fish sauce, gochugaru, sesame oil and salt. Let it simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
3. Turn off the heat. Serve it with chopped green onion. If you have sesame seeds, you may crush them between you palm before topping them. Crushing the sesame seeds helps release a nuttier taste which would be a great combination with the soup. (Note: there are no sesame seeds in the picture)

Good luck and enjoy! 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Cheating Summer Botamochi (Improvisation)

It was a hot summer day and I wanted to do something easy and fun. I stumbled upon a botamochi recipe and well... Here you go! FYI, I cheated because botamochi is a typical autumn recipe.

Alright, less talk.

Preparation time: 6 hours
Cooking time: 1 hour

2 cups of glutinous rice
2 tbsp Sugar
1 pinch Salt
Anko (Azuki bean paste)
Kinako (soybean powder)

1. Soak the glutinous rice overnight or at least 6 hours. Change the water and cook the glutinous rice in a rice cooker. 
2. Once the rice is ready, shift it in a big bowl or a mortar. Prepare a bowl of salted water. 1 cup of water with 1/2 tsp of salt is a great combination. Add sugar to the warm rice and start pounding. For every 2 or 3 poundings, soak the pestle in the salted water. This will prevent the rice from sticking with the pestle, which could cause a very sticky situation (pun intended). This process can take about 15 to 30 minutes, depending of the strength and consistency of the movements. Think of this as an exercise! 
3. Pound until you do not see whole rice grains, however, you do not need to pound until it becomes perfectly smooth. Botamochi are consumed with a rough rice texture.
4. Prepare the anko filling and the kinako coating. What I usually like to do is shape the anko like ping pong balls. For me, 2 cups of rice gave me 16 botamochi, hence, 16 anko balls should suffice.
5. Dampen your hands with salted water, form a ping pong ball size of rice and flatten it with your hands. Put the anko ball in the middle and wrap it. Place it in the kinako and use a spoon to cover the rice cake, as your hands will probably be sticky.
6. Repeat the previous step for each botamochi. It is best consumed on the very same day. It can be kept fresh for up to 2 days if exposed to a cool environment and away from the sun.

I happened to have kinako at home, but for those who doesn't have that at home and prefers something else, you can sprinkle matcha powder or shredded coconut. If you like it more exotic, coconut would be appropriate, otherwise, matcha powder would be the best combination with anko. You tell me!

Otherwise, you can make it very simple, not adding any coat to your botamochi. It is as much yummy!

Good luck and enjoy!