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Breads and Desserts, Cuppylicious!, Ethnic Foods, Meat, Pork, Sauces and Dips, Side Dishes, The Daring Cooks' Challenge

Char Sui Bao (Barbecue Pork Bun)

Char Sui Bao

Char Sui Bao

Our Daring Cooks’ December 2011 hostess is Sara from Belly Rumbles! Sara chose awesome Char Sui Bao as our challenge, where we made the buns, Char Sui, and filling from scratch – delicious!

Requires Char Sui.

Total time: 3 hours + 24 hours for Char Sui.

Makes 20.

Filling Ingredients
350 gm (12 oz) char sui (finely diced)
2 shallots (finely diced)
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
¼ cup (60 ml) chicken stock
1 teaspoon (3 gm) cornflour
½ tablespoon vegetable oil

Bun Ingredients
1 cup milk, scalded
¼ cup (60 gm/2 oz) sugar
1 tablespoon oil
¼ teaspoon (2 gm) salt
2½ teaspoons (8 gm/1 satchel) of dried yeast
3 cups (420 gm/15 oz) plain flour

Filling Directions:
1. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or pan. Sauté the shallots for one or two minutes until soft.
2. Add diced char sui to the wok/pan and stir.
3. Add oyster sauce, dark soy sauce and sesame oil to the pork mixture, stir fry for one minute.
4. Mix cornflour and stock together and then add to the pork mixture.
5. Stir well and keep cooking until the mixture thickens, 1 or 2 minutes.
6. Remove mixture from wok/pan and place in a bowl to cool. Set aside until ready to use.

Char Sui Bao

Char Sui Bao

Bun Directions:
1. Scald milk and then stir in sugar, oil and salt, leave to cool until it is lukewarm. Once it is the right temperature add yeast, leave until yeast is activated and it becomes frothy, about 10 – 15 minutes.
2. Sift flour in to a large bowl.
3. Add milk/yeast mixture to the flour. Bring the flour mixture together with your hands.
4. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for approximately 10 minutes. The dough should be smooth and slightly elastic.
5. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Leave to rise until it is double in size. This will take from 1 – 2 hours depending on weather conditions.
6. Punch down dough and divide in to 20 equal portions.
7. Roll each dough portion in to a 7 – 8cm (2¾ – 3 ¼ inches) round.
8. Place 1 tablespoon of filling in the centre of the round, gather the edges together at the top and place on a 8cm (3 inch) square of baking paper. Repeat until all dough has been used.
9. Cover and let rise for 20 minutes.
10. Place buns in bamboo steamer, leaving space between the buns.
11. Heat water in a wok until it is simmering and place steamers one on top of each other in the wok.
12. Place lid on top bamboo steamer and steam for approximately 12 minutes.

I tried a variety of doughs for the steamed buns, and the listed recipe gave the best first night results. If overcooked, it didn’t hold up very well, though. So don’t overcook! These froze and steamed (plus five minutes) very well.

Cuppylicious!, Ethnic Foods, Meat, Pork, Sauces and Dips, The Daring Cooks' Challenge

Char Sui (Barbecued Pork)

Char Sui (Barbecued Pork)

Char Sui (Barbecued Pork)

Our Daring Cooks’ December 2011 hostess is Sara from Belly Rumbles! Sara chose awesome Char Sui Bao as our challenge, where we made the buns, Char Sui, and filling from scratch – delicious!

Total time: 24 hours.

1 pork fillet/tenderloin (roughly 1-1.5 pounds)
4 large cloves of garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon (3 gm) ginger, grated
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 ½ tablespoons maltose (you can substitute honey)
1 ½ tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce (I used Thai sweet soy sauce.)
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon shaoxing cooking wine (I used sake.)
½ teaspoon (2 gm) ground white pepper
pinch of salt
½ teaspoon (2 gm) five spice powder
½ teaspoon sesame oil
½ teaspoon pillar box red food coloring

1. Trim the pork loin to remove fat and tendon and slice lengthways so you have two long pieces, then cut in half. By cutting the pork in to smaller pieces to marinate you will end up with more flavorsome char sui. If you want to leave the pork in one piece you can do this as well. Place in container that you will be marinating them in.
2. Combine all the other ingredients in a bowl and mix well to combine. I placed my maltose in the microwave for a few seconds to make it easier to work with. Maltose is quite a solid hard sticky substance.
3. Cover pork well with ⅔ of the marinade mixture. Marinate for a minimum of 4 hours, I find it is best left to marinate overnight. Place the reserved ⅓ portion of the marinade covered in the fridge. You will use this as a baste when cooking the pork.
4. Place marinated pork loin on the grill of your BBQ.
5. Cook on a medium heat, approximately 15 minutes, until cooked through. Brush with reserved marinade.
6. Be careful to watch that you don’t burn the pork.

It’s cold here, so I pan fried, and I’m not ashamed.

Breakfast, Cuppylicious!, Sauces and Dips, The Daring Cooks' Challenge

Hollandaise Sauce

Hollandaise Sauce on top of Eggs Benedict

Hollandaise Sauce on top of Eggs Benedict

Jenn and Jill challenged The Daring Cooks to learn to perfect the technique of poaching an egg for the December 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge. They chose an Eggs Benedict recipe from Alton Brown, Oeufs en Meurette from Cooking with Wine by Anne Willan, and Homemade Sundried Tomato & Pine Nut Seitan Sausages (poached) courtesy of Trudy of Veggie num num.

Total time: 35 minutes

3 large egg yolks
1 tsp. (5 ml) water
¼ tsp. (1 ¼ ml/1½ g) sugar
12 Tbl. (170 g/6 oz.) unsalted butter, chilled and cut in small pieces
½ tsp. (2 ½ ml/3 g) kosher salt
2 tsp. (10 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)

1. Fill a medium saucepan halfway with water and bring to a simmer.
2. Cut the chilled butter into small pieces and set aside.
3. Whisk egg yolks and 1 tsp. (5 ml) water in a mixing bowl large enough to sit on the saucepan without touching the water (or in top portion of a double boiler). Whisk for 1–2 minutes, until egg yolks lighten. Add the sugar and whisk 30 seconds more.
4. Place bowl on saucepan over simmering water and whisk steadily 3–5 minutes (it only took about 3 for me) until the yolks thicken to coat the back of a spoon.
5. Remove from heat (but let the water continue to simmer) and whisk in the butter, 1 piece at a time. Move the bowl to the pan again as needed to melt the butter, making sure to whisk constantly.
6. Once all the butter is incorporated, remove from heat and whisk in the salt, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper (if using).

This is slow, time consuming and absolutely perfect. The general principle for Hollandaise sauce is 1 egg to 4-6 Tbsp of butter. The only thing I might change for me is dropping down to 10 Tbsp of butter, as I felt it was a little too buttery with my 12 Tbsp of butter (I use only real salted butter). Once on top of my Eggs Benedict, I didn’t notice so much.

Cuppylicious!, Ethnic Foods, Meat, Sauces and Dips, The Daring Cooks' Challenge

Tea-Infused Teriyaki Sauce

Tea-Infused Teriyaki Chicken

Tea-Infused Teriyaki Chicken

Sarah from Simply Cooked was our November 2011 Daring Cooks’ hostess and she challenged us to create something truly unique in both taste and technique! We learned how to cook using tea with recipes from Tea Cookbook by Tonia George and The New Tea Book by Sara Perry.

Total time: 1 hour, plus optional marinade time

2 bags Stash’s Licorice Spiced Tea
2 cups boiling hot water
6 cloves garlic
1/2 cup fresh ginger root
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp peanut oil or vegetable oil

Steep tea in hot water for 3-5 minutes. Remove and squeeze tea bags, discard.

In a food processor or blender, combine tea and remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth. ***

Boil sauce in a large pan on medium-high for 20-30 minutes until reduced.

Stash's Licorice Spice Tea

Stash's Licorice Spice Tea





*** At this point, you could add 4 lovely Szechuan peppers and 1 pound of chicken to marinate in the refrigerator. I marinated my chicken, then boiled the whole lot down, added some carrots, and served it on steamed rice.

As it is, it’s just a sweet teriyaki sauce; it’s not even very salty. If you want sweet & salty, add more soy sauce. If you want sweet & spicy (which worked great for me), add some peppers; four Szechuan peppers didn’t make it very hot to me, but you might find it warm enough.

Breakfast, Cuppylicious!, Sauces and Dips

Apple Butter

Apple Butter

Apple Butter (Yes, I ate some, and no, I'm not ashamed.)

The September 2010 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by John of Eat4Fun. John chose to challenge The Daring Cooks to learn about food preservation, mainly in the form of canning and freezing. He challenged everyone to make a recipe and preserve it. John’s source for food preservation information was from The National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Total Time: About 4 hours.

6 apples, washed with skins and cores removed
1/2 cup apple cider
1/4 cup loosely packed brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
pinch (1/8 tsp) of ground cloves

Makes about 2 cups of apple butter.

Cut apples into slices.

Combine apple slices and apple cider in a large saucepan. Cook slowly and stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Cook until apples are very soft (falling apart).

Gently mash the apples in the pot with your spoon or potato masher. (Alternatively, you could: Position a food mill or strainer securely over a large bowl. Press cooked apples with cider through the food mill or strainer to make a pulp. Be sure to collect all the pulp that comes through the food mill or strainer; for example, scrape any pulp clinging under the food mill into the bowl.)

Add brown sugar and spices to your apple pulp. Simmer over low heat, stirring frequently. When cooking down the apples, you want to leave the lid ajar or use a splatter screen. This will allow for evaporation. Another trick is to support the lid by laying two wooden spoons across the top of the pot.

To test for doneness, spoon a small quantity onto a clean plate; when the butter mounds on the plate without liquid separating around the edge of the butter, it is ready for processing. Another way to test for doneness is to remove a spoonful of the cooked butter on a spoon and hold it away from steam for 2 minutes. It is done if the butter remains mounded on the spoon.

Pour contents into desired storage container or multiple containers. Refrigerate up to 2 weeks, freeze up to a year, or home canning is good for a year.

I never took my apples or apple butter mix out of the pot until the very end. I used a really sturdy pot, and I could tell it was done when I moved the spoon through the apple butter and everything *stayed in place*. That might have been overcooked, but it also made the apple butter very sweet and flavorful.

This recipe is a half batch. A full batch is 12 apples, 1 cup cider, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 Tbsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp allspice and 1/4 tsp cloves.

Breads and Desserts, Candy, Sauces and Dips

Fudge II

Chocolate Dipped Pretzels

Chocolate Dipped Pretzels

Total time:  4 hours.
Makes about 2 cups of smooth chocolate sauce.

1 cup cocoa powder
6 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp flour
1 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and sugar, set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, cream together cocoa powder and butter until a smooth paste forms.

In a saucepan on medium heat, combine water and cocoa paste until hot, but not boiling.  Add this mixture to flour and sugar.  Add milk, and mix well.  Remove all lumps, and you should have a nice chocolate sauce.

At this stage, it’s great for fondue, really. It might need a little more sugar (you’ll have to taste it, to see). I was hoping for something a little more solid, though. Even after chilling in the refrigerator, it didn’t become hard. Well, maybe it would have, if I hadn’t immediately dipped my pretzels into it. The pretzels became soggy, and the chocolate stayed soft. These tasted better dipped in candy sprinkles or powdered sugar. They’re slightly bitter by themselves.

When chilled, this chocolate is just like Fudge I in consistency, and while it’s unique and rich, it’s not what I wanted. Solid, it’d be good for chocolate chunk cookies or *inside* something else.

There’s always next year, I guess.

Cuppylicious!, Meat, Sauces and Dips, Seafood

Not-so-Old Bay Seasoning

Old Bay Seasoning

More like "everything but the kitchen sink" seasoning.

I’ve never tasted Old Bay Seasoning, so I don’t know how close this comes, but I thought it tasted pretty awesome in Jen’s Grandma’s Best Crab Cakes. You need a spice grinder or mortar & pestle.

Total time: 8 minutes

4 bay leaves
2 tsp celery seed
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground mustard
2 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground mace
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/8 tsp ground allspice

Most people use Old Bay Seasoning for seafood, but I hear tell of folks who put it on everything like a season-all or season salt.

I had to grind them all together in my mortar. I suspect I could have gotten away with ground bay leaves if I had them and ground celery seed or maybe even celery salt (to replace seeds & salt), but I think grinding up the red pepper flakes is important, too.

Cuppylicious!, Ethnic Foods, Sauces and Dips, Soup and Salad, The Daring Cooks' Challenge

Basic Creole Spices

Basic Creole Seasoning

Basic Creole Seasoning

Our May hostess, Denise of There’s a Newf in My Soup!, challenged The Daring Cooks to make Gumbo! She provided us with all the recipes we’d need from creole spices, homemade stock and Louisiana white rice, to Drew’s Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo and Seafood Gumbo from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh.

Makes ½ cup

Total time:  8 minutes

2 tablespoons (30 ml) (33 gm) celery salt
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (7 gm) sweet paprika
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (18 gm) coarse sea salt
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (6 gm) freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (7 gm) garlic powder
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (7 gm) onion powder
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (4 gm) cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon (2½ ml) (1½ gm) ground allspice

Mix together all spices in a bowl. Transfer the spices to a clean container with a tight-fitting lid. Store up to six months

Cuppylicious!, Ethnic Foods, Indian, Meat, Sauces and Dips, Seafood, The Daring Cooks' Challenge

Baked Goan Fish with Fresh Green Chile Chutney

Goan Fish

Raw Goan Fish, ready for foil and grilling

Mary, who writes the delicious blog, Mary Mary Culinary was our August Daring Cooks’ host. Mary chose to show us how delicious South Indian cuisine is! She challenged us to make Appam and another South Indian/Sri Lankan dish to go with the warm flat bread.

One 2-pound (1 kg) firm fish, such as pickerel, trout or red snapper, cleaned and scaled – I used pink salmon
about ¼ cup (60 ml) vegetable oil
about 8 fresh curry leaves – I didn’t know where to use these, so I skipped it
2 tablespoons (30 ml) fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon (15 ml/18 gm) fine sea salt
½ cup (120 ml/110 gm) Fresh Green Chile Chutney, plus extra to serve as a condiment

Preheat your grill or start your charcoal.

Wash and dry the fish. Cut slits every three to four inches along each side of the fish.  Grease a large stretch of foil 3 tablespoons (45 ml) of the oil.

Goan Fish

Goan Fish, fresh off the grill with lots of juice!

Rub the fish inside and out with the lime juice, then with the salt. Stuff some of the chutney into the slits you made, and put the rest in the belly cavity. Place the fish on the oiled foil and rub the remaining oil over it. Wrap the fish tightly, using more foil if necessary.

Move your charcoal to one side of the grill or turn off the heat on one side of your grill.  Place your foiled fish on the “off” side and close the lid.  Grill 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of your fish (10 minutes per pound), keeping the heat at 400F or above.  Depending on the size of your grill, you may need to rotate your fish halfway through.

Cuppylicious!, Ethnic Foods, Indian, Sauces and Dips, The Daring Cooks' Challenge

Fresh Green Chile Chutney

Fresh Green Chile Chutney

Fresh Green Chile Chutney

Mary, who writes the delicious blog, Mary Mary Culinary was our August Daring Cooks’ host. Mary chose to show us how delicious South Indian cuisine is! She challenged us to make Appam and another South Indian/Sri Lankan dish to go with the warm flat bread.

Total time:  15 minutes.

2 cups (480 ml/120 gm/4¼ oz) packed cilantro (coriander) leaves and stems
6 green cayenne chiles, coarsely chopped
6-10 medium garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons (10 ml/6 gm) minced peeled ginger
about 1 cup (240 ml/80 gm/2¾ oz) fresh or frozen grated coconut
1 teaspoon (5 ml/3 gm) cumin seeds, coarsely ground
3 tablespoons (45 ml) fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon (5 ml/4½ gm) sugar
1 teaspoon (5 ml/6 gm) salt, or to taste

1. In a food processor, combine the cilantro, chiles, garlic and ginger and process to a paste. Add the coconut and process until blended. Transfer to a bowl.
2. Add the cumin, lime juice, salt and sugar and mix well. Taste for seasoning (it will be hot!). Keeps for about 4 days refrigerated.