Introducing The My Eclectic Kitchen YouTube Channel!

BananaCrunchPops

Greetings, Friends!

I started something pretty exciting, a My Eclectic Kitchen YouTube channel!  This channel will be linked to my cookbook app and website!

I am very excited about the release of the ‘My Eclectic Kitchen’ app this month as well as my newly established YouTube channel!

Check out my first videos, below, and feel free to subscribe!

Note: If the picture quality is blurry for you, adjust the viewing settings. It can be watched in HD.

 

How to Make Banana Crunch Pops

 

bananacrunch

 

How To Line A Loaf Pan With Parchment Paper

Loafpan

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Gluten-free Vegan Potstickers!

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Have you noticed that almost every culture has some sort of small, succulent parcel encased in dough that everyone goes gaga for?  Living in Los Angeles, which is one of the most ethnically diverse counties in the country, it is possible to drive down a street and easily pick up a samosa from an Indian spice shop, wontons or potstickers from the many Chinese restaurants, a gyoza from the Japanese ramen shop, and rolled tacos from one of the thousands of taco shops.

I grew up in a Filipino-American household where my mother served her 8-member household a mix of Filipino and “American” dishes.   On special occasions, my mom would make lumpia, a Filipino egg roll, from scratch.  I’ve loved them since I was a child and now the children (my 15 nieces and nephews) in my family love them too!   I don’t know what it is about these little packages of goodness that we can’t get enough of.   We just love them!  Unfortunately, as I live a gluten-free, vegan lifestyle I don’t have as many options to choose from when it comes to enjoying the little packaged treats.  That is, if I don’t make them myself.

Last week, I was craving gyozas, which are Japanese potstickers. I researched and spent a few days testing recipes.  My goal was to create a delicious potsticker that is vegan, gluten-free, and soy-free.  I like potstickers because I don’t feel as guilty eating them.  They are not deep-fried and only a tablespoon of oil is used to brown them.  My potstickers can be made even lower in fat.  To do so, simply add them to a pot of boiling vegetable stock or water for a few minutes and voila!

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To avoid soy, I use mushrooms and walnuts.  This way, I get my protein along with vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, manganese, copper, iron, potassium, and a nice, long list of other minerals and health benefits.  Other ingredients include ginger, garlic, scallions and cayenne pepper, dijon mustard, and ketchup.  If you’re against using ketchup, you can substitute the ketchup with finely chopped unsweetened dried cranberries.  Believe you me when I say that all the listed ingredients make a difference in that they add richness and more depth of flavor.

This recipe can take about 1.5 hours from start to finish and maybe even longer depending on how quick you are in the kitchen.  If you have a friend to help you out with the rolling while you wrap, that’ll save a lot of time!  These would be perfect to make on a weekend when you have a lot of time.

Whenever it is you choose to make the potstickers, I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

 

Healthy Habit.  A healthy habit I practice before enjoying my cooked meals is having at least 1/4th a cup of homemade kimchi and a large green salad, preferably a simple kale or cabbage salad.  The kimchi (or sauerkraut) is probiotic, increases my enzyme reserves, helps remove toxins and speeds cleansing, restoring the friendly bacteria in my body.  The nutrient-rich green salad provides me with more iron, calcium, antibiotics, and enhances satiety (feelings of fullness) and reduces the total number of calories eaten during my meal.

 

Potstickers

Prep time: 1 1/2 – 2 hours

Makes about 20 potstickers

Diet: V, GF, DF, SF

 

Ingredients

Filling:

1 cup walnuts

1 heaping cup shiitakes (3.5 oz., approximately 13 shiitake mushrooms)

1 cup green cabbage, shredded

1/4 cup green onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp ginger, minced

2 Tbsp red bell pepper, chopped

1 Tbsp flax meal

3 Tbsp vegetable stock

2 Tbsp ketchup

1 tsp dijon mustard

2 tsp vegan worcestershire sauce

1 tsp coconut sugar

1 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

1 Tbsp tapioca flour

 

Wrapper:

1 cup tapioca starch

1 cup brown rice flour

1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum

2 tbsp sunflower oil or grapeseed oil

3/4 cups filtered water

 

Dipping Sauce:

2 Tbsp coconut aminos (or tamari)

1 Tbsp rice vinegar (or coconut vinegar)

1 Tsp minced ginger

sriracha, to taste

 

Directions

Filling:

1. Place all the filling ingredients into a food processor and pulse 10 times.  Do not over process.  You want a chunky texture, not a fine mush.

2. Taste and adjust the heat. If you want more heat, add more cayenne pepper.

3. Place the filling in a bowl and mix well.

 

Wrapper:

1. In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, mix all of the dry ingredients until completely combined.  Add the filtered water slowly while it is mixing, until it forms a ball.  You don’t want this to be sticky.  If it is too sticky, add a little more tapioca and brown rice flour. If it’s too dry, add a tablespoon of water at a time until the dough forms a ball.

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2. Divide the dough in half. Roll one half of the dough into a rod on a clean surface until it is about 3/4 to 1 inch thick. Cut 10 pieces equally and set aside in a bowl that’s lined with a damp paper towel (not dripping). Each piece should be approximately 1 tablespoon. To avoid the dough from drying out, cover the pieces with a damp paper towel.  Repeat with the other half of the dough.

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3.  If you have a tortilla press, this will make your job so much easier. Use it to make thin, circular wrappers. Alternatively, if you don’t have a tortilla press, between 2 pieces of parchment paper (not wax paper), place one round piece of dough towards the center and press down with a small saucepan or with the palm of your hand.  Flatten further with a rolling pin, making sure to keep it circular by rotating the dough as it’s being rolled.

4. Assemble the potsticker right after rolling out the wrapper.

Assemble:

1. Place 1 tablespoon of the filling mixture onto the center of the wrapper. Fold over, press to seal the edges, and shape as desired. I like to slightly fan the edges. Set on a half sheet pan, lined with parchment and cover with a damp cloth. Repeat this procedure until all of the filling is gone.

Makes about 20 potstickers.

 

Cook:

1. Heat a 10-inch saute pan over medium heat. Brush with 1 tbsp of sunflower or grapeseed oil once hot.

2. Add about 7-8 potstickers at a time to the pan.  Brown all 3 sides. May take 1.5-2 minutes to brown on each side.

 

3. Once all sides are browned, with the cover of the pan in hand to cover immediately, gently and quickly add 1/3 cup water or vegetable stock to the pan and cover. Step back and be careful as there will be a lot of steam (and steam can give you a nasty burn).  I hold down the cover so it doesn’t explode off of the pan in the beginning.  Turn the heat down to low, and cook for another 2 minutes or until the water has cooked off. (You can also use veggie stock for more flavor)

4. Repeat until all the potstickers are cooked. Serve immediately, garnished with chopped green onion and with dipping sauce on the side.

**Alternatively, you can boil the potstickers in a pot of vegetable stock or filtered water, as you would pasta. Bring the water or stock to a boil and cook them until ready.

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Dipping Sauce:

Mix all ingredients together and serve on the side.

 

Freeze:

If you wish to freeze your potstickers to enjoy on another day, place the sheet tray of potstickers in the freezer first. Allow them to freeze for at least 30 minutes, then place them in your freezer storage container of choice (ie. Ziplock or glass tupperware). Placing them in the freezer first will avoid them from sticking to each other.

When you’re ready to enjoy them, follow the cooking directions above.  You can cook them frozen. Just don’t move the potsticker once you place them in the pan.  Let them sit in the oil for at least 1.5 minutes or until browned. Once they are browned, they will release from the pan with ease. If you move them too quickly, the wrapper can tear.

 

 

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Spinach and Parsley Pesto

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When I was four years old and while all five of my older sisters were in school, my mom would spend her time either cleaning the house, talking up a storm on the phone with her sister (my aunt), or helping my dad with his business.  During this time, I had free reign to do whatever I wanted with no one to stand in my way and stop me.  In fact, I learned to read by singing on the karaoke machine and reading the lyrics from music books.  When I did not know certain words, I would bug my parents and ask them.  I sang Karaoke every morning and for hours at a time.  I also sang the same songs over and over again and eventually, through consistency and repetition, I learned how to read.  I can see how the Gentle Revolution Method from the Institutes for Achievement for the Achievement of Human Potential worked on my little, genius nephews.  A routine and repetition is powerful in the development of young minds.

[Back to my childhood story] In the afternoons and around lunchtime, I would start watching my favorite tv shows.  I started with The Pink Panther, a show that none of my sisters cared for and watched when they were home.  Next up was Popeye the Sailor Man.  I loved the introduction where Popeye consumed tons of spinach or whatever vegetable that was green.  As a child, it affirmed in me that spinach is good for you and could energize the body.  When the show was about to begin, I would run to my mom and ask her to have my spinach ready for me.  My mom would cook up whatever greens we had and this is how I started my lunches.  The following year, I discovered the Nickelodeon channel and was influenced by a variety of shows such as Today’s Special to eat a strawberry frosted cakes and the cartoon with the boy who would lay on top of the tree eating sticky sweets while reflecting about his day.  By way of the tube, I had some good influences and some bad influences in terms of food consumption.  However, I have always held onto the idea that spinach is a super food and makes us strong.  I was that kid who always ate her vegetables– spinach and greens have always been a large part of my diet.

[Fast forward to today]  I have a lot of spinach in my refrigerator and freezer, and always have a good stock of other fruits and vegetables.  Usually, if I am short on time and see a zucchini in my fridge, I will most likely want to make zucchini “pasta.”  It is so simple.  I just take my julienne peeler or mandolin to make the zucchini into strips or “noodles.”  In case you are interested, here is a demonstration on making zucchini noodles, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiCJLqfE7tY.

Usually when I make zucchini “noodles,” I crave pesto.  However, rather than using basil I used spinach and parsley since I always have those two ingredients on hand.  If you know me, you know I like spinach in my pancakes, spinach in my lasagna, and spinach in my smoothies.  I guess you can call me the “Bubba Gump” of spinach.  I like to work with what I have on hand and since I do not usually use pesto’s main ingredients, you will see that this is not your typical pesto.  If you do not have parsley or spinach, try broccoli rabe, collards, even kale, and of course, basil, or a combination of them all. This pesto does not contain pine nuts, parmesan cheese, or a ton of olive oil.  This recipe is actually quite light in taste and density compared to the full-fat version.  As you will see, it is the appearance, function and method for making the pesto that stays virtually the same.  I enjoy my version very much. I find it to be refreshing and delicious!  I hope you do too!

Finally, I shall end today’s post with the song, “Alice” by Avril Lavigne since Alice went on many adventures as a child, like myself.  Being the youngest of  six daughters was fun.  I am glad they gave me the freedom to wander about and try a lot of different things. This set the tone for my many different lives (careers and experiences) and finally rediscovering one of my first loves–cooking–bringing me here today, sharing this recipe with you.  Enjoy!

Spinach and Parsley Pesto

Servings 4-6

Time 5 minutes

Ingredients

A handful of fresh spinach or a heaping 1 cup fresh spinach

1/4 cup of fresh parsley

1/3 cup of raw pumpkin or sunflower seeds (soaked in filtered water for at least 3 hours if you don’ t have a powerful Vitamix, Ninja or Blentec blender. If you do have a powerful blender, soaking isn’t necessary)

1-2 tsp of Himalayan or Celtic sea salt

2-3 cloves of garlic

3 Tbsp of sunflower, grapeseed oil, or cold-pressed olive oil

1/2 cup of filtered water

Directions

1. If you don’t have a powerful blender, soak seeds overnight or for at least 3 hours/

2. Blend all of the ingredients together and add salt to taste.  You may also add some cayenne pepper, if you wish.

And voila. You have pesto!  So easy, right?

Toss this with noodles, preferably zucchini noodles, and enjoy!

 

Zucchini “Noodles” 

You will need 2-3 medium to large zucchinis.

One zucchini is good for one serving, with about 1/4 to 1/3 the pesto sauce, depending on how saucy you like your noodles.  To make zucchini noodles, simply use a julienne peeler to peel noodles, or alternatively, use a spiralizer or mandolin.  I like to eat my noodles raw but you can heat the noodles a little in warm water or in the microwave.

Toss the pesto with zucchini noodles right before you are ready to serve. If you let the dish sit for more than 10 minutes or so, the salt in the pesto will remove the water in the zucchini and the zucchini will start to break down and the whole dish will be a little sloppy. You can also toss in slices of tomato!

I hope you enjoy this simple and easy meal!

Buono Appetito!

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A Latke Brunch!

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The last time I made a latke was in 2009, for my out-of-town-guests.  The day before I made them, on my birthday actually, I learned about latkes and how to make them at culinary school (Le Cordon Bleu). Since they were SO good, I wanted to share them with my friends who came from out of town to celebrate my big 3-0 in Los Angeles.  At the time, I didn’t have a food processor, only a grater. And there were 4 of us, so I made double the recipe.  This explains why I hadn’t made them until recently.  They can be a pain in the butt if you have to grate them manually.  BUT! You will be so happy you did after you eat these.  They are crispy on the outside, a bit creamy in the center, you can taste a delicate onion and potato flavor; combine that with sour “cream” and apple sauce and it is absolutely divine.  I love the combination of flavors: a little salty, a little oniony, sweet, crispy and creamy…ooooh la la.  I wish I could have one as I write this, but I have amazing self control so I will wait for another special occasion to have them.

Why did I all of a sudden decide to make them again? Last Sunday, we rolled out of bed late, I picked up my phone and saw a photo of latkes posted by @karenvegan on Instagram.  The latkes in the photo triggered a fond memory and inspired me to make them!  Since it was already 11:30am, and we had places to go and people to see, I started preparing the latkes and its accouterments as I drank my green smoothie.

Luckily, I had leftover cashew cream in the fridge.  I simply added lemon juice to it to make it sour “cream”. If you’ve never made a cashew cream base, here’s what you do… soak maybe 2 handfuls of cashews for 2-3 hours in filtered water.  Remove them from the water and into the blender with a little water. Blend for at least a minute. If it’s too thick, add a little more water. It should be creamy in consistency.  Really, that’s all I do.

As for the chunky apple sauce, all I did was peel a gala apple and diced it. Placed it in a bowl with about 2 tbsps of water and 2-3 dashes of cinnamon, covered it with a paper towel and nuked it in the microwave for about 5 minutes.  Closer to serving time, I added a little coconut palm nectar (like 1/2 tsp) (<– this is not necessary), tossed it and nuked it again for 2 more minutes.

Now for the latke…

Thankfully, Peyman purchased me a food processor for Christmas in 2009 which made grating a breeze.  I could simply fit my food processor with a grating attachment and voila! In a flash, my potatoes and onions are as they should be for my latkes.  I believe if one has a food processor and grater attachment, one would make more latkes.

I would have never made these if I didn’t have red jacket potatoes (a potato approved by Kimberly Snyder …she considers this potato a beauty food). On a whim, I purchased potatoes and kept them in the fridge. So glad I did!

Peyman never had a latke until last Sunday and he loved the end result.  Usually, he’ll give me a nod, some nods, a thumbs up…and/or I have to probe him for answers.  I asked him if these blew his mind and he said, “yes”.  Great news!

My birthday present, the latke recipe, I received in 2009 is the gift that keeps on giving.  I veganized and made the recipe gluten-free.  Here it is! Bon appetit!

 

Latkes

Serving size 2 – 3

 

Ingredients

<1 flax egg (1 heaping Tbsp of flax meal with 3 Tbsp filtered water).

About 24 oz. of red jacket potatoes (About 8 small red jacket potatoes or whatever you think is equivalent to 2 large russet potatoes)

1/2 small onion, grated or minced

1 tbsp oat flour

1 tbsp arrowroot starch, optional (if yours doesn’t come together.)

1 tsp salt

3-4 shakes of cayenne pepper

1 tbsp parley, finely chopped

juice from 1/4th of a lemon

Sunflower or other vegetable oil for frying.  I used sunflower.

 

Directions

1. Prepare flax egg in a small bowl by mixing together 1 heaping Tbsp of flax meal with 3 Tbsp of filtered water). Set aside until it becomes egg-consistency, about 15 minutes.

2. Peel potatoes and keep them in a bowl of water until ready for grating (to prevent oxidization)

3. Grate the potatoes and place them into a large bowl.  Add the lemon juice and salt, toss with your hands to fully combine, and let the mixture sit for 15 minutes.

4. While waiting for the potatoes to release water, grate or finely chop the onion.  (I grate it in my food processor because it’s faster for me to do so, but chopping it is just fine).  Also, finely chop the parsley.

5. After 15 minutes of letting the potato rest, take a handful of the potatoes and squeeze out the liquid into the same bowl. We want to keep the liquid. Set the dried potato aside onto a plate and repeat with the remaining potatoes. Remember to squeeze into the bowl, not into the sink.

(I would start heating oil in a pan now. I use a saute pan and fill it 1/2 to 1 inch with sunflower oil.  Heat on medium to 350 degrees F)

6. Take the bowl of potato liquid and slowly pour the liquid out of the bowl while keeping the white milky potato starch at the bottom of the bowl.  This is called decanting. We want to use the starch of the potato to help bind the patties.

7. Add the potatoes back to the starch in the bowl.  Add eggs, onion, a dash more of salt, cayenne, oat flour, arrowroot and toss using your hands.

8. Once oil is heated, (you can test by taking a potato strip and putting it into the oil, if it sizzles and bubbles, it’s ready) form patties about 2 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter and lay into the oil using a spatula, dropping away from you.  Alternatively, you can drop the latkes by the spoonful.  I like making patties though. Let it cook until golden brown on each side. May take 3-4 minutes on each side.  Check for the golden brown color and flip once it’s golden brown.  If your patties are looking blackish, it may be that your oil is too hot, so turn down the heat a bit. Once both sides are golden brown, place on a plate, lined with a paper towel. And voila!

I love serving these with an apple compote or apple sauce. Also with a sour “cream”.  And to fill our bellies, we always start with a big salad.

 

I hope you Love these as much as we do!  Please let me know what you think!

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Spicy Lentil Dahl

 

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Indian food has been on my weekly meal plan ever since my college years when I was first introduced to it.  With the existence of many vegan Indian spice stores and fast food establishments in Los Angeles, my transition to veganism while still maintaining my weekly Indian food fix wasn’t all too difficult.

Indian dishes contain a lot of warming spices.  They also contain spices and herbs that are health-promoting and contain disease preventing properties.  For instance, many Indian dishes contain turmeric.  Ingesting turmeric helps make the skin glowing and beautiful.  Not only that, the primary active ingredient in turmeric is Curcumin, which is currently being studied and evaluated in clinical trials for treating cancer.  It is also believed that turmeric may have benefits to individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.  There are much more health benefits of turmeric.  For more information, check out this link–http://www.spreadhealthfoods.com/.

Quick tip for buying spices—buy your spices at an Indian spice store.  They have an abundance of spices and are typically cheaper than the supermarket chains or health food stores. I have found that some of them even claim to be “organic”.

 

Spicy Red Lentil Dahl

Servings: 2-4

Time: 1 hour

Brief: This red lentil dahl is a staple and favorite in the Ardestani household.  It is healthy, easy to make, warming, and oh-so delicious!

Diet: V, GF, GFV, DF, SF, SRF, CFNF, NF

 

Ingredients

1 cup white onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 inch ginger, finely minced or grated

4 cup vegetable stock

1 cup dried red lentils, rinsed and picked over

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground turmeric

1/4 tsp ground cardamom

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)

3/4 tsp sea salt (to taste)

2 Tbsp tomato paste or, alternatively, 4 Tbsp marinara sauce

 

Directions

1. Add onion, garlic, and ginger into a medium-sized saucepan, and place over medium heat.  Oil isn’t necessary since the liquid in the vegetables will help cook them.  If the vegetables start to stick to the pan, add a splash or 2 of vegetable stock.  Cook and stir often until the onions are translucent for about 6 minutes.

2. Stirring constantly, add vegetable stock, lentils, spices, and salt. Bring to a low boil.  Then turn down the heat to low, cover, and let the stew simmer for about 20 minutes or until lentils are very tender.

3. Stir in the tomato paste or marinara until well combined.  Cook several minutes more or until the soup is desired temperature and consistency, adding more stock or water to the dahl if needed.

4. Serve hot with quinoa, rice, naan, chapati, or enjoy it as a soup.

 

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Fruit tart crust

My traditional fruit tart

My traditional fruit tart before being glazed

A few people have asked me how to avoid getting a soggy fruit tart crust.  Here’s a solution that will work for a couple days.

Once your pie dough has been baked and cooled, brush the interior of the pie crust with a thin layer of melted butter or melted chocolate with a tad bit of butter, cocoa butter or shortening in it.  Once brushed, let the butter or melted chocolate set in the refrigerator, then add your pastry filling and fruit.  The lining of butter or chocolate will act as a barrier between the crust and pastry filling, sort of waterproofing it.  I must say, the melted chocolate works best for my fruit tarts.  That’s because I like the combination of chocolate and fruit. Even lining the crust of a lemon curd pie with chocolate does wonders.

IMG_1832My Berry Delicious tart

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Baking 110

Going into culinary school, I didn’t expect to enjoy the baking aspect much since baking requires a lot of waiting around.  I’ve baked before, using family recipes, cookbooks and online recipes from the Food Network, and whenever yeast was involved, I dreaded waiting around for dough to rise and sitting in a hot kitchen.  Many, many moons ago, Grandma Rosita (my dad’s mom’s twin) taught my mom how to make her husband’s, Grandpa Floyd’s, great grandma’s Southern pecan rolls.  My mom busts out the recipe every year during the holidays, so they’re something to always look forward to.  Southern, old school recipes require a lot of love and care, which means a lot of time, so they usually taste better than the baking powder/soda quick-bake, no butter, kind of recipe.  It’s a yearly tradition for me to watch my mom make pecan rolls, and I have never been a fan of waiting around, twiddling my thumbs, as we waited for the dough to proof (rise), not just once but twice.  And one thing I don’t look forward to is the scrubbing and scraping of the sticky pans.  Because of this, I’d been drawn to quick, easy, no fuss baking recipes.

In high school and in college, I loved to entertain friends with food.  Some of my parties would be pure dessert parties.  In high school, my sisters and I would bake up a variety of sweet treats and our friends would come over to enjoy them along with conversation.

In college, along with the many dinner parties I threw, were cookie-baking parties where, surprisingly, more males showed up than females.  When a friend would walk through the door, I’d hand them a recipe, show them the ingredients and tools used for baking, everyone would bake, and we’d have a ton of cookies to enjoy with our coffee klasche.  Baking and cooking with friends is such a blast, especially since my friends always offered to do the dishes!

In school, we do things the old-school way – we bake bread using fresh yeast, we mix ingredients with a whisk and bowl scraper, and we knead the dough with our hands.  To my surprise, I love my baking class!  Especially since we have a proofer which rises the dough in no time, we get very creative with the aethetics of some of the baked goods, and there are less dishes I have to wash since I use plastic wrap to hold my ingredients.  There’s always something to work on.  Again, I am in an accelerated culinary program and we have much to cover within a short period of time, so there is no time for me to stand around and pick my nose, much less to use the restroom.

Even though I may have a weaker bladder, I really appreciate baking now.  I consider myself to be more of an artistic manual laborer, and baking (and cooking) is a perfect outlet for me.  Today I finally learned how to waterproof or moistureproof a fruit tart shell.  I sort of figured it out when I made the mini fruit tarts for Riva’s baby shower.  I thought back to Marie’s wedding – the dessert was excellent… it was a fruit tart with chocolate brushed inside the pastry shell.  When making the tarts for the baby shower I thought, the Hyatt chefs must have done something to keep from getting the tart soggy from the pastry cream and fruit – they have to make and keep 200 tarts from getting soggy… I thought the chocolate was the barrier and I was so right.  About 3 years ago, Marie and I catered a tea party, and our fruit tarts came out soggy… wish we knew how to moisture proof the shell back then.  Thank God for school – I am aware of much more food science.  Here are secrets to keeping the fruit tart crust crisp and not soggy.

1) Before completely browing the pie crust/tart shell, brush a coating of egg whites inside the shell (not too thick of a coat..you don’t want scrambled eggs).  Place back in the oven to finish (lightly) browning the sides of the crust.  Cool completely before placing the pastry cream into the crust.  Place in refrigerator for quick cooling.

2) Once pie crust/tart shell is browned (lightly), cool completely.  You can put it in the refrigerator or freezer for quick cooling.  Brush a light coating of melted chocolate inside the crust.  Cool completely before adding the pastry cream.

If you ever have any questions about this or other baking questions, please do not hesistate to ask.  I may know the answer.  If not, I have the resources to figure it out.

In this posting, I have pictures of the many baked goods I made this week only.  I made my own laminated dough, a danish dough, which was very time consuming but very rewarding.  So as to not morph into a butterball, I share my goodies.  I dropped off all my baked goods to my family and they are very happy that I chose a career in culinary – they are benefiting greatly from my education already.  If you want any of my recipes that you see on my blog, simply ask!

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Chicken Katsu (fried Panko coated chicken cutlet) and Tonkatsu Sauce

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I must say that Japanese cuisine is one of my most favorite ethnic foods.  Good sushi is so refreshing, ramen is a nice and soothing treat, and Japanese fried food just hits the spot.  I love Japanese fried foods – they are crisp on the outside, and tender and juicy inside.

Fried chicken cutlet, or as Japanese menus read, Chicken Katsu, is something Peyman and I enjoy on occasion.  We used to go to Curry House and order chicken katsu curry spaghetti – it’s really heavy but so good.  I once made it at home and realized how fattening curry was after reading the nutrition facts on the label, so we haven’t eaten the combination since.

At home, to coat my chicken, I use Panko flakes, Japanese-style breadcrumbs.  I make the dinner extra special by also coating and pan-frying some Panko coated onion rings, broccoli, and sweet potatoes (usually whatever veggies I have in the fridge).  Along with the chicken, I serve a dipping sauce, steamed jasmine rice, a salad, and sometimes corn.

If you’d like to try it, follow the recipe below.  It’s really simple and oh, so good!

Fried Panko Chicken Cutlet / Chicken Katsu

Serving Size 2 to 3

Ingredients

2 Chicken Breasts

Panko flakes

Flour for dredging

1 Egg

2-3 Tablespoons of water

Salt and Pepper

Oil for frying. I fry in 1/2 Canola and 1/2 Olive oil mixture. Canola oil alone is fine.

Directions

1. Chicken will need to be pounded very thin (with a mallet or meat tenderizer) so that it cooks evenly and quickly.  This cooking technique is called paillard.  Chicken breasts are pretty thick.  Increase the surface area by pounding the chicken thin and by sort of butterflying the breast.  Some chicken breasts have a flap where you can just pull, cut into, and it looks butterflied, or you can cut the breast in half, thinning it…but don’t cut it too much that it falls apart.  If you’re afraid to cut it, score the breast with 3 slashes and pound away.  Between two sheets of plastic wrap, pound the chicken until thin, about 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick.  Cut into desired-sized pieces, or don’t cut at all.

2. You will need to create a station where you have 3 plates or wide bowls.  From left to right, have 1) a plate of flour to dredge the chicken, 2) a bowl or plate with 2-3 tablespoons of water, scrambled with one egg, and 3) a plate of panko flakes.

3. Season chicken breast pieces with salt and pepper on both sides.

4. Dredge, lightly coat, the chicken breast with flour on all sides and dust off excess flour.

5. Dip/coat chicken breast in the egg mixture

6. Coat the chicken with panko bread crumbs.

7.  Pan fry immediately after breaded (as they will stay crisp. If resting in bread crumb mixture, the coating may fall off or get lumpy). Before adding chicken into the oil, heat the oil.  See next step.

8. Heat a large saute pan, add enough oil to come up half way or even more up the chicken (about 1/4 inch), then heat oil over medium-high heat.  Test if oil is heated by throwing some panko crumbs in.  If it sizzles, it’s ready.  Add the chicken into the oil.  Do not overcrowd the pan, as overcrowding will drop down the temperature.  Reduce the heat to medium-low.  We want an even sizzle/bubbling of the chicken so adjust the heat appropriately.

9. Cook chicken until golden brown and cooked through, about 4 to 6 minutes on each side.

10.  Drain on paper towels.

11. Serve with sauce, see recipe below,  steamed Jasmine rice and salad or steamed vegetables.


Dipping Sauces – 2-3 sauces to choose from.  See below.

The Japanese traditionally eat Chicken Katsu with Tonkatsu sauce

Tonkatsu Sauce

Ingredients

1/4 Cup Worstershire Sauce

2 Tablespoons Sugar

2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce

2 Tablespoons of Ketchup

1/2 Teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/4 Teaspoon of Ground Allspice (optional)

Directions

In a small saucepan, over medium-low heat, whisk in worstershire sauce, sugar, soy sauce, ketchup, and ground all spice.  Let it reduce to about 1/2 a cup.  Whisk in dijon mustard and serve alongside chicken katsu.

Easy dipping sauce

Ingredients

Ketchup

Worstershire sauce or soy sauce.

In a small bowl, mix together ketchup with drops of worstershire sauce or Ketchup with drops of soy sauce.  (About 2 tablespoons of ketchup and about 2 tablespoons, more or less, of worstershire or soy sauce. You can even use more or less 1 tablespoon of both)

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