Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ellie: Chicken Saté with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce

I got to choose this week's recipe for CEiMB, and I picked the Chicken Saté with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce. I had a hard time choosing, of course, but since this one was on my short list back in January when I picked for the first time, when I saw that it was still available, I decided to go for it. After I sent my email to Sara, I suffered some picker's remorse and commenced serious hand wringing and second guessing. The ingredient list is so long! We just recently (like last week!) made recipes that had an Asian flair - is this redundant?! What will the vegetarians do?! What if everyone hates it?! But once I made it, I relaxed and felt really good about this pick. Let's face it: there's just something fun about food on a stick.

Despite the long ingredient list, both the marinade and the sauce came together pretty quickly. The chicken marinates for an hour in a marinade of chicken broth, light coconut milk, soy sauce, shallot, garlic, fish sauce (or more soy sauce, which is what I used), dark brown sugar, lime zest, and ginger. Then Ellie says to thread the chicken on skewers and grill in a grill pan, but when I tried them in a grill pan, the chicken would not lie flat because the long skewers came up over the rim of the pan. So I moved them over to a regular grill:

I'd skip the skewers next time I want to do this in a grill pan. Skewers or no skewers, this one is going to end up being a finger food - fair warning.

The chicken gets garnished with peanuts, basil and cilantro (except if you hate cilantro, then for the love -- don't use it!)

The chicken was great on its own. But hubs and I agreed that it was the peanut sauce that made this dish really outstanding. I mixed up all of the sauce ingredients with my trusty immersion blender: creamy peanut butter, chicken broth, soy sauce, dark brown sugar, lime juice, ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes, red curry paste, and a shallot.

The sauce was sweet, spicy, smooth, creamy and utterly irresistible. I was so glad that it was just hubs and I eating this so any bowl-licking that took place could be overlooked. As good as the chicken was, next time I'm likely to just make the sauce and serve it with simple chicken grilled with salt and pepper - I felt like the sauce is what gave this dish most of its flavor, anyway. Ellie mentions that it's a "sublime" dip for raw vegetables, and I think it would be wonderful with grilled vegetables or tofu as well, or in a Thai noodle bowl -- so I really hope that the non-meat eaters in the group were able to find a way to enjoy this fabulous peanut sauce.

I hope that everyone enjoyed this recipe as much as we did!

Chicken Saté with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce, 2006 Ellie Krieger, All Rights Reserved


1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock
1/2 cup lite coconut milk
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 shallot, sliced thin
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons Thai fish sauce (or 2 additional teaspoons low sodium soy sauce)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon lime zest
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast pounded slightly and cut into 1-inch strips


8 (8-inch) bamboo skewers, soaked for 20 minutes

3/4 cup Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce, recipe below
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil or cilantro leaves
1/4 cup chopped toasted peanuts
In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the chicken stock, coconut milk, soy sauce, shallot, garlic, fish sauce, brown sugar, lime zest, and ginger. Add the chicken strips and marinate for 1 hour. Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the marinade.

Spray a nonstick grill pan with cooking spray and preheat over a medium-high flame. While pan is heating, thread chicken onto skewers. Grill 2 to 3 minutes per side, until meat is cooked through and has light grill marks.

Serve chicken skewers with Peanut Dipping Sauce, and garnish with basil or cilantro and chopped peanuts.

Yield: 4 servings (2 skewers and 2 tablespoons peanut sauce per serving)

Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce:

1/2 cup natural creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
1 teaspoon red curry paste
1 shallot, peeled and roughly chopped

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.

Sauce can be made 1 day ahead of time, and will keep 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator.

Yield: about 1 1/4 cups

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

BBA: Cinnamon Buns

The Slow & Steady bakers in the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge are taking on Peter Reinhart's Cinnamon Buns this week. I sensed an overall lack of enthusiasm for the cinnamon buns at the beginning, a lack of enthusiasm that I shared to some degree -- we're in the middle of a stretch of enriched sweet breads with the BBA, and I think many of us are looking forward to getting to the crustier hearth breads. But once I tasted these cinnamon buns, my enthusiasm returned in full force. These rank right up there with the best cinnamon buns I've ever had. They also rank right up there with the best cinnamon buns I've ever made, although it is somewhat crazy to me to think that I have indeed made enough different cinnamon buns at this point to have several to choose from in declaring one "the best." I've made Dorie's pecan honey sticky buns using her brioche, and they were to die for fabulous. I've made raisin snails using Peter Reinhart's brioche - also very good. And I've made Ina Garten's easy sticky buns, which were delicious, and indeed easy. But for the perfect combination of both simplicity and out of this world deliciousness, I just don't think you can beat Peter Reinhart's recipe.

Making these is no more difficult than making a typical cake or brownie recipe. Mix together sugar, salt, and butter or shortening (I used butter). Another nice thing about this recipe, for all you health conscious cinnamon bun eaters out there, is that it uses significantly less butter than the brioche-based cinnamon buns (5.5 tablespoons, as opposed to a full stick of butter in a half recipe of Peter Reinhart's middle class brioche and a stick and a half in a half recipe of Dorie's brioche. Add an egg and some lemon zest or extract (I used extract because I have it and never use it). Add the flour, yeast and milk (I used nonfat buttermilk), mix until a ball forms, then switch to the dough hook and knead for 10 minutes. I had to knead (er, let the Kitchen Aid knead) mine for a little bit longer before my dough passed the windowpane and the temperature tests.

Once it passed the readiness tests, I transferred it to a bowl sprayed with oil and let it rise. It's supposed to rise for two hours, but as bad timing would have it, I had the opportunity to leave the house (alone) and run errands (by myself) right when the dough had been fermenting for a little over an hour. And NOTHING stands in the way of Mama and her alone time. Therefore, it rose for a good three hours before I was able to shape it. It had at least tripled in size by then, and I worried that I overfermented (is that a word?) it, but it certainly didn't seem to affect the final outcome.

Rolling up the cinnamon/sugar filled dough:

Cinnamon rolls sliced and ready for second proofing (I wanted to bake them fresh the next day, so I covered these with plastic wrap and retarded them in the fridge overnight):

The next morning, I took them out of the fridge - they had to proof for 3 or 4 hours before baking. This worked out perfectly with my timing, since I planned to serve them around "brunch" time at my daughter's two year old birthday party. It was a "Madeline" themed party:

I know that cinnamon buns aren't particularly French, but then neither are pigs in a blanket, and I served them too.

The cinnamon buns smelled incredible as they were baking, as cinnamon buns are wont to do. And they were really, really wonderful. I don't think that my two talking kids have ever been as enthusiastic about anything that I've baked as they were about these cinnamon buns. And my birthday girl?

She loved them too.

Suffice it to say that I will make these again. Peter, I'm sorry I wasn't excited about all these sweet breads. You sure showed me! I am in love with this recipe, and am already plotting and scheming to manufacture some other cinnamon bun occasions in the very near future.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

TWD: Creamiest Lime Cream Meringue Pie

I think many people get into food blogging because they read a lot of food blogs, think it looks like fun, and decide to start a blog themselves. I, however, had never read a food blog before I started food blogging, other than my friend Amanda's. All I knew was that Amanda was in this online baking club that had her baking something every week and blogging about it, and I thought it sounded like a riot. So I joined TWD and started a blog. At the time, because I had not read food blogs, I did not realize that attractive food photographs are kind of the point. Since most of my blogging was done as a part of organized groups with participation requirements, I assumed that my pictures merely served as proof that I actually made the assigned recipe. Sort of like turning in homework. Eventually, as I started reading more and more blogs, and viewing stunning photograph after stunning photograph, it dawned on me that I had woefully misunderstood the significance of the pictures. Once I got a clue, I began trying, within the confines of my limited photographic and artistic talents, to take better pictures. I took the food outside in the late afternoon light. I thought about things like whether a particular bowl complemented the food. I garnished with mint leaves. I tried.

I say all that just to make it clear that I really, really wish that I did not have to post the following photograph. I wish it so much that I almost skipped posting today altogether -- but when I make something, it always seems foolish not to post, thereby wasting a permitted skip that could otherwise be used on a week that I don't bake. So here is my Creamiest Lime Cream Meringue Pie, which I (1) turned into a parfait when my mini graham cracker crust fell apart, (2) accidentally burned with my blowtorch, and (3) photographed in my kitchen at approximately 10 p.m. And boy, does it show:

I fiddled with the photo editing software and tried to crop, adjust the light, etc. to help the situation, but nothing could help a lime pie that's been so abused. All I could do is post later in the day on Tuesday in the hopes of subjecting as few people as possible to this fugliness. I'm sorry if you're not one of the lucky ones.

I made one mini pie parfait for my husband. He really enjoyed it. I've made other (easier) key lime pies before (ones that don't require the whisking eggs over the stove routine) and he liked those a lot as well, so I'll probably stick with the easier kind (e.g., Mark Bittman's key lime pie from How to Cook Everything). Also, hubs prefers whipped cream to meringue, and I prefer whipping cream to whipping egg whites, so I'll stick with whipped cream going forward. But just because this probably won't be my go-to key lime pie does not mean that it wasn't wonderful. It was, says hubs! Linda of Tender Crumb picked the Creamiest Lime Cream Meringue Pie - thanks for the great summer pick, Linda!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ellie: Grilled Thai Beef Salad

My friend Jen from Jen B's Cooking Carveout chose this week's CEiMB recipe, Grilled Thai Beef Salad. Jen has the office two doors down from me, and we joined CEiMB around the same time. Therefore, our turns to pick recipes come around the same time. I pick the week after Jen, and this Thai Beef salad had been on my short list. I was thrilled when I saw that Jen picked it, because I was able to knock one recipe off my list, which turned an excruciating decision into merely painful one.

I think the Thai Beef Salad appealed to me because I love Thai food, but rarely cook it at home. I guess I tend to skip over Thai recipes because the ingredients (things like red curry paste, green chile sauce, fish sauce) always seem exotic to me, although they can't be all that exotic, because they carry them in Publix.

In any case, I was so glad that Jen picked this, because it forced me to stare down the "international" aisle shelf at Publix and gather the ingredients I needed to make an authentic(ish) Thai dish at home.

The base of the salad is simple: red leaf lettuce, basil, cilantro, and shallots. But it is the dressing/marinade that makes this salad shine. A combination of lime juice, soy sauce, oil, brown sugar, garlic, ginger and red curry paste makes up both the marinade for the flank steak and the dressing for the salad. It came together really quickly and was so delicious. Hubs and I had it for dinner on Sunday night. I served hubs a scoop of rice with his to make it more of a manly-man meal. We both thought it was fabulous. We used the leftover beef in a stir fry tonight. This one is officially in the rotation. Thanks for the great pick, Jen!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

TWD: Applesauce Spice Bars

I've got to be honest - I'm so mourning the end of One Sentence Blog Post Week ("OSBPW") that I almost couldn't even bring myself to post today. Something about the one sentence format was so energizing - I couldn't even wait to get to the computer to knock out that sentence. So the prospect of returning to multiple sentences kind of immobilized me for a while there. But then I realized that nobody is making me write long-winded non-OSBPW posts, and with a little bit of discipline, I could embrace brevity every week!

Karen of Something Sweet by Karen chose this week's TWD recipe, Applesauce Spice Bars. I first made these last fall to bring on a family trip to the lake, and I made the recipe as written, including the glaze. My memory from that trip is a little fuzzy -- I remember thinking the applesauce bars were very good, but didn't travel particularly well glazed. Fast forward ten months -- Karen picked the applesauce bars for TWD, and I decided to make them for another family trip. I decided not to glaze them this time because of that nagging recollection of a Tupperware container full of sticky, apple-y, spicy mess.

So I made the bars, sans glaze, before we left for vacation -- they're easy to make and did not unleash any kitchen drama. They even baked all the way through, which is by no means a sure thing for me when I bake bars of any kind. I brought them to the beach, where I prettied them up for a photo shoot.

There are lots of people taking pictures of all kinds of things at the beach, but I was the only one taking pictures of baked goods. I wanted to yell "What?! Haven't you ever seen anyone photographing applesauce bars on the dunes before?" But I was pretty sure I knew the answer. Kayte asked via Twitter if it was like a Sports Illustrated swimsuit shoot. Having never participated in such an event, I can't be sure -- but I can tell you that I did not tell my applesauce bars to "work it, baby," or assure them that they are way hotter than my other desserts, and at no point did the applesauce bars throw a diva tantrum.

We all enjoyed these bars. When I first tried them (last fall) I was a little surprised by the texture -- very cake-like, when I was expecting something more like an apple-spiced blondie. It's a little like when you take a sip of what you think is water, but it's actually milk (or maybe it would be more precise to say it's like when you take a sip of what you think is water, but it's actually ice chips). Not bad, just not what I was expecting. But once I got over that, I thoroughly enjoyed the light texture and lightly spiced flavor of these bars. Yet another winner from the great Dorie Greenspan! Thanks for the delicious pick, Karen!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Ellie: Stuffed Turkey Burgers

My good friend Peggy of Pantry Revisited chose this week's recipe for CEiMB, Stuffed Turkey Burgers, and the posting day for this recipe happens to fall during One Sentence Blog Post Week (which I've been enthusiastically participating in), and I feel like I'm getting really lucky with this whole one sentence thing, because the recipes I've posted so far this week fall into one of two categories (1) simple and delicious; or (2) made so long ago that I can't remember anything much to say about it anyway -- and without question this one falls into the former category: two small ground turkey patties filled with a little mozzarella and some roasted red peppers, and then sealed together and broiled to perfection (simple, delicious, and a nice change from ground beef - great pick, Peggy!).

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

BBA: Ciabatta

Since this is One Sentence Blog Post Week in some parts, including these parts, I am going to seize the opportunity to post the ciabatta that I made back in May for the Bread Baker's Apprentice challenge (since the one sentence limitation helps me out big time given that I remember so few details about the ciabatta, seeing as I made it back in May and all) but I do remember that (1) we loved it - this is probably the best bread that I have ever made;(2) it had tiny holes, which irritated me to no end given that the hallmark of a good ciabatta is big holes (i.e. when it comes to ciabatta holes, size matters);

and (3) the fact that I made this insanely delicious bread yet was annoyed about the hole size definitely made me pause and question what has become of me.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

TWD: Brownie Buttons

As the lazy days of summer roll on, it's become apparent that blog fatigue has set in, for me and others, as manifested by a generally low motivation to wax poetic about baked goods (or just about anything else), and which has threatened to turn a super fun hobby into (gasp!) a chore (i.e., another thing on the to-do list) which would be tragic, as that is exactly the kind of thing that causes fickle people like me to ditch blogging and take up, say, fly fishing, so imagine my relief when I saw that someone had the brilliant idea of One-Sentence Blog Post Week (starting with today's Terse Tuesdays with Dorie), in which blog posts would be confined to -- yes, you guessed it -- one sentence, which is awesome because this week's TWD recipe, Brownie Bites (chosen by Jayma of Two Scientists Experimenting in the Kitchen - thank you, Jayma!), is an adorable little two-bite treat, and a lil' blog post just seems right for such a little dessert, and a mighty fine one at that (even without the glaze, which I skipped - good thing, because that might have necessitated a second sentence), even though the full recipe only made 12 measly little brownie bites, which was not nearly enough for a week at the beach (in fact, they were gone before we even left for the beach), and because I don't have any pictures of the brownie bites at the beach, I'll close with a gratuitous shot of my kids at the beach.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

BBA: Classic Banana Bundt Cake and 100th Post Giveaway

This week's TWD recipe was chosen by the wonderful Mary, The Food Librarian. Mary is a bundt cake enthusiast, and she picked a fabulous one this week!

I have a couple of mini bundt cake pans that I should have been really excited to use, but for some reason I was feeling a strong pull to do a full-size bundt cake. Just when I could feel myself falling deep into that "obsessing over something that really and truly does not matter" abyss, I realized that I had two, count 'em two, overripe bananas. Since the full recipe calls for four bananas, my decision suddenly became easy: I would make half of the recipe and use my mini bundt pans.

The cakes came together easily, and rose very well, well past the rim of the pan:

Of course, when I took those cakes out of the pan and turned them over, they had a distinctly Weeble-ish quality to them:

Fortunately, Weebles wobble but they don't fall down.

And neither did my mini banana cakes.

This was not some ordinary banana bread. The banana flavor was just right -- not too overpowering, not too subtle -- and the texture was moist but not overly dense. It was simple and delicious. I glazed two of my four mini cakes with the lemon glaze that Dorie mentions in "playing around." David thought the glaze really complemented the cake nicely. And my almost-two year old so loved this cake that she was inspired to string a few words together: "ah wah mo kay" (translation: "I want more cake.")

Thanks for this fantastic pick, Mary! I will definitely make this one again, for reals.

I am particularly happy to have made such a stellar recipe to celebrate this, my 100th post! I will save my profound observations and my "Blogging and What it Means to Me" essay for my highly-anticipated-by-nobody-but-me blogiversary, which is coming up in a couple of weeks, but I couldn't let a good round number like 100 pass without doing something. And as luck would have it, I've recently been the lucky winner of not one, but two "pay it forward" giveaways, and this seems like as good a time as any to start paying forward. For this 100th post, I'd like to pass on the awesome prize I won from my bloggy friend Di of Di's Kitchen Notebook -- a $25 gift certificate for a new cookbook! I used mine to pick up this excellent one by Mark Bittman:

Thanks Di, I've been loving my book!

But if you win, you could pick out any cookbook (or heck, any kind of book, or even a board game -- I won't tell) you'd like! I'm offering one lucky winner a $25 gift certificate to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or another online bookseller of your choice that facilitates easy* (*in my sole and complete discretion) online giftcard transactions.

If you would like to enter, leave me a comment by midnight PST on 8/10 answering the following question: "If you were a classic bundt cake, what kind of classic bundt cake would you be?" (or some other question). I will use the random integer generator to choose a winner.

Thanks for playing along! And thanks again, Mary, for choosing one seriously delicious banana bundt cake!
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