Friday, June 8, 2012

Mapo Tofu

As I prepared to make Mapo Tofu, I realized I had some Sichuan peppercorns in the pantry and decided to add them to this recipe as called for.  The peppercorns really added a huge step of spiciness, such that I could only eat a small bowl of this before my mouth and tongue were burning and starting to feel numb.  Make sure to have plenty of rice to eat with this to calm the heat.  This also went well over a bowl of noodles.

Mapo Tofu
serves 4-6

1 lb soft tofu, drained and cut into 1 inch cubes
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
6 oz ground turkey
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 green onions, sliced with white and green parts separated
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup dried Shitake mushrooms, rehydrated and diced
2 1/2 Tbsp chili garlic sauce
2 teaspoons toasted Sichuan peppercorns, ground
1 cup chicken stock
2 tsp white sugar
2 tsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp cornstarch mixed with 3 Tbsp cold water

  1. Place Sichuan peppercorns in a dry skillet on medium-high heat.  Stir and toast peppercorns for about 2-3 minutes until fragrant.  Remove from heat and grind.
  2. Pour oil into a large wok or frying pan over high heat.  Add ground turkey and stir fry until the meat is no longer pink.  Turn heat to medium and add bell pepper, Shitake mushrooms, garlic, and the white portions of the sliced green onions.  Cook while stirring for 3-4 minutes.  Add chili garlic sauce and ground Sichuan peppercorns.  Stir well.  Add chicken stock, sugar, and soy sauce and continue stirring until well mixed.  
  3. Carefully add the cut tofu into the pan.  Stir carefully so that tofu will keep its shape.  Cook for another 3-4 minutes until tofu is heated through and sauce boils and thickens.  Pour cornstarch mixture over tofu, stir thoroughly, and remove pan from heat.  Serve with rice or noodles.  Garnish with the green portions of the sliced green onions.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Strawberry Coconut Mojito Sorbet

Inspired by this delicious flavor at Coolhaus, I gave it a try this past weekend using a basic strawberry sorbet recipe.  The sorbet uses coconut milk, making it slightly creamy yet dairy free.  The mint flavor is subtle and adds a nice refreshing factor.  Shredded coconut was swirled within the sorbet, adding a great chewy texture.  Right out of the ice cream maker, the sorbet was the perfect smooth consistency for eating.  After freezing, it does become a little more icy.  I'd definitely make this again!

Strawberry Coconut Mojito Sorbet
makes about 1 pint

1 cup coconut milk
3 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup chopped mint leaves
1 lb fresh or frozen strawberries, chopped
1 Tbsp coconut rum
1 lime, juiced
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut

  1. Combine coconut milk, sugar, and chopped mint leaves in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, remove from heat, cover, and set aside for 1 hour to allow the mint to steep.
  2. Add coconut milk mixture (no need to strain out the mint leaves), strawberries, lime juice, and rum to a blender.  Puree until smooth.  Chill mixture in the refrigerator overnight.
  3. Following your ice cream maker's instructions, place puree mixture into the ice cream maker and churn until thick and creamy.  About 5 minutes before the ice cream maker is done, add the sweetened shredded coconut to the sorbet.  Serve immediately when done or transfer to an airtight container to store in the freezer.  

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Mochi Egg Custard Tart @ 85C Bakery Cafe - Irvine, CA

Those from Southern California are probably well acquainted with 85C Bakery Cafe, a Taiwanese bakery chain known for its sea salt coffee, countless varieties of fresh bread, and unending long lines and crowds.  I live 5 minutes away from the bakery yet almost never go unless it's with out-of-town visitors.  The bread is indeed delicious, but the crowds keep me away.  This past weekend, some friends brought over a dozen mochi egg custard tarts fresh out of the oven.  They even called ahead to ensure they'd get a fresh tray.  I've had egg tarts from 85C plenty of times, but never had I had one that was so fresh that it was still warm when I received it.  The crust was flaky and crisp, its sweetness fully evident.  The egg custard was warm and the layer of mochi on the bottom of the tart was soft and chewy.  The ones I've had before always had limp crusts lacking that sweet crisp and a mochi layer that was more tough and stiff.  What a difference!  This certainly renewed my desire for 85C Bakery pastries.  :)

85C Bakery Cafe
Diamond Jamboree Shopping Center
2700 Alton Pkwy, Ste 123

Irvine, CA 92606