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Beef, Breads and Desserts, Cuppylicious!, Ethnic Foods, Meat, Pork, Poultry, The Daring Cooks' Challenge

Bánh Bao (Sausage and Egg Bun)

Bánh Bao

Bánh 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!

Total time: 3 hours.
Makes 16.

1/2 pound ground pork, ground chicken, or ground turkey
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
3 eggs, hardboiled, peeled, and quartered lengthwise
Chinese sausage, sliced thinly on the diagonal into coins
about 2 tsp sugar
2 tsp fish sauce (optional)
1/2 cup peas (optional)

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

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 16 equal portions.
7. Roll each dough portion in to a 3 1/2 inches to 4 inches round.
8. For each bánh bao, roll out dough. Put approximately 1 tbsp of raw ground meat in center, top with egg quarter, and press 3-5 slices of Chinese sausage around the meat. Pleat dough around and around, gathering edges together on top. Pinch to seal well. Repeat until all dough has been used. Place on 4 inch square of parchment paper. Let rest 20 minutes.
9. Place buns in bamboo steamer, leaving space between the buns.
10. Heat water in a wok until it is simmering and place steamers one on top of each other in the wok.
11. Place lid on top bamboo steamer and steam for approximately 15 minutes.

Bánh Bao are typically made with quail eggs, but I don’t have access to those, so I just used some quartered chicken eggs. You can substitute andouille sausage and a pinch of crushed red pepper for the Chinese sausage, but it’s not quite the same.

Beef, Cuppylicious!, Ethnic Foods, Meat, Seafood, Side Dishes, The Daring Cooks' Challenge

Papas Rellenas (de pescado)

Papas Rellenas de Pescado

Papas Rellenas de Pescado (potatoes stuffed with fish)

Kathlyn of Bake Like a Ninja was our Daring Cooks’ March 2011 hostess. Kathlyn challenged us to make two classic Peruvian dishes: Ceviche de Pescado from “Peruvian Cooking – Basic Recipes” by Annik Franco Barreau. And Papas Rellenas (de carne) adapted from a home recipe by Kathlyn’s Spanish teacher, Mayra.

Total time: About 3 hours.

For the dough:
2¼ lb (1 kg) russet potatoes
1 large egg

For the filling:
2 tablespoon (30 ml) of a light flavored oil
½ lb (250 grams) ground (minced) beef (I used flaked cod)
6 black olives, pitted and chopped (use more if you love olives)
3 hard boiled large eggs, chopped
1 small onion, finely diced (about 1 cup (240 ml))
½ cup (120 ml) (90 gm) (3 oz) raisins, soaked in 1 cup (240 ml) boiling water for 10 minutes, then minced
1 finely diced aji pepper (ok to sub jalapeño or other pepper – if you are shy about heat, use less)
2 cloves garlic, minced or passed through a press (if you love garlic, add more)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (4 gm) (1/8 oz) ground cumin (use more if you like cumin)
½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) (2 gm) (1/16 oz) sweet paprika
¼ c. white wine, water or beef stock for deglazing
Salt and pepper to taste

For the final preparation:
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup (240 ml) (140 gm) (5 oz) all-purpose flour
Dash cayenne pepper
Dash salt
1 cup dry (240 ml) (110 gm) (4 oz) or fresh (240 ml) (60 gm) (2 oz) bread crumbs (you can use regular, panko, make your own or use store-bought)
Oil for frying (enough for 2” (50 mm) in a heavy pan like a medium sized dutch oven)

In order to save time, you can boil the potatoes, and while they are cooling, you can make the filling. While that is cooling, you can make the potato “dough.” In this way, little time is spent waiting for anything to cool.
For the dough:
1. Boil the potatoes until they pierce easily with a fork. Remove them from the water and cool.
2. Once the potatoes have cooled, peel them and mash them with a potato masher or force them through a potato ricer (preferred).
3. Add egg, salt and pepper and knead “dough” thoroughly to ensure that ingredients are well combined and uniformly distributed.

While the potatoes cool down before finishing the dough, you can make the filling:
1. Gently brown onion and garlic in oil (about 5 minutes).
2. Add the chili pepper and sauté for a couple more minutes.
3. Add ground beef and brown.
4. Add raisins, cumin and paprika and cook briefly (a few seconds).
5. Deglaze the pan with white wine.
6. Add olives and cook for a few moments longer.
7. Add hard boiled eggs and fold in off heat.
8. Allow filling to cool before forming “papas.”

Papas Rellenas de Pescado (before closing and frying)

Papas Rellenas de Pescado (before closing and frying)

Forming and frying the papas:
1. Use three small bowls to prepare the papas. In one, combine flour, cayenne and salt. In the second, a beaten egg with a tiny bit of water. Put bread crumbs in the third
2. Flour your hands and scoop up 1/6 of the total dough to make a round pancake with your hands. Make a slight indentation in the middle for the filling.
3. Spoon a generous amount of filling into the center and then roll the potato closed, forming a smooth, potato-shaped casing around the filling. Repeat with all dough (you should have about 6 papas).
4. Heat 1 ½ – 2 inches (4 – 5 cm) of oil in a pan to about 350 – 375° F (175 – 190°C).
5. Dip each papa in the three bowls to coat: first roll in flour, then dip in egg, then roll in bread crumbs.
6. Fry the papas (in batches if necessary) about 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Flip once in the middle of frying to brown both sides.
7. Drain on paper towel and store in a 200ºF (95ºC) (gas mark ¼) oven if frying in batches.
8. Serve with salsa criolla (or other sauce of preference) immediately.

I was too chicken to try the ceviche (I’m not ready yet!), so I thought I’d combine the challenge and make potatoes stuffed with fish instead of ground beef. This was incredibly tasty, and they cook fast in the deep fryer. It definitely needs the salsa criolla or some other tangy sauce if you do fish. Sour cream and hot sauce just didn’t cut it.

I put a pair of jalapenos in there, too, but I didn’t even remotely feel them because of all the potato. The filling needs to be a little saltier and spicier than you want it before you surround it in potatoes to fry.

Beef, Cuppylicious!, Meat, Pork, Poultry, Soup and Salad, The Daring Cooks' Challenge

Drew’s Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo

Chicken & Sausage Gumbo

Chicken & Sausage Gumbo in a brioche bread bowl

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.

Total time: 2-5 hours, depending on how you manage your time, or if you’re using canned chicken broth. This took me exactly 3 hours and 24 minutes, including my bread bowls and chicken broth.

Serves 10-12.

1 cup (240 ml) (230 gm) rendered chicken fat, duck fat, or canola oil
1 cup (240 ml) (140 gm) (5 oz) flour
2 large onions, diced
1 chicken (3 ½ to 4 lbs.), cut into 10 pieces I used chicken breasts
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) Basic Creole Spices, or store-bought Creole spice blend I used double. Mmmm…
2 pounds (2 kilograms) spicy smoked sausage, sliced ½ inch (15mm) thick I left this out.
2 stalks celery, diced
2 green bell peppers (capsicum), seeded and diced
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Leaves from 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
3 quarts (3 liters) Basic Chicken Stock (recipe follows), or canned chicken stock
2 bay leaves
6 ounces (175 gm) andouille sausage, chopped
2 cups (480 ml) (320 gm) (11 oz) sliced fresh okra, ½ -inch (15mm) thick slices (or frozen, if fresh is not available)
1 tablespoon (15 ml) Worcestershire sauce
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Filé powder, to taste I left this out.
Tabasco, to taste I left this out, too.
And I added 1 Tbsp of red pepper flakes. I should have added a handful, since I like it warmer. Maybe next time.

1. Prepare homemade chicken stock, if using. The challenge came with a recipe, but I was making stock for several meals, so I did my own.
2. Prepare homemade Basic Creole Spices, if using.
3. Season the chicken pieces with about 2 tablespoons of the Creole Spices while you prepare the vegetables.
4. Make sure all of your vegetables are cut, diced, chopped, minced and ready to go before beginning the roux. You must stand at the stove and stir the roux continuously to prevent it from burning.
5. In a large cast-iron or heavy-bottomed pan, heat the chicken fat, duck fat, or canola oil over high heat. Whisk the flour into the hot oil – it will start to sizzle. **DANGER! IT SPITS!!** Reduce the heat to moderate, and continue whisking until the roux becomes deep brown in color, about 15 minutes.
6. Add the onions. Switch to a wooden spoon and stir the onions into the roux. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue stirring until the roux becomes a glossy dark brown, about 10 minutes.
7. Add the chicken to the pot; raise the heat to moderate, and cook, turning the pieces until slightly browned, about 10 minutes.
8. Add the sliced smoked sausage and stir for about a minute.
9. Add the celery, bell peppers, tomato, and garlic, and continue stirring for about 3 minutes.
10. Add the thyme, chicken stock, and bay leaves. Bring the gumbo to a boil, stirring occasionally.
11. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally, skimming off the fat from the surface of the gumbo every so often.
12. Add the chopped andouille, okra, and Worcestershire. Season with salt and pepper, several dashes of filé powder, and Tabasco, all to taste.
13. Simmer for another 45 minutes, continuing to skim the fat from the surface of the gumbo. Remove the bay leaves and serve in bowls over rice. Pass more filé powder at the table if desired.

Seen here served in a homemade bread bowl.

I didn’t think I’d like gumbo. I had some seafood gumbo as a kid (made by a really burly, wild Italian man), and I didn’t think I’d care for it this time around – BUT I DID! Not only that, but I really enjoyed it. I should have made a full recipe.

Beef, Cuppylicious!, Ethnic Foods, Indian, Meat, Pork, The Daring Cooks' Challenge

Sri Lankan Curry

Sri Lankan Curry

Sri Lankan Curry with pork

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: 1.5 hours.

1 pound (½ kg) boneless meat, or about 1 ½ pounds (¾ kg) short ribs or cross ribs (or boneless lamb shoulder) I used pork!
1 tablespoon (15 ml) vegetable oil
10 fresh or frozen curry leaves
1-3 green cayenne chili, finely chopped
generous 1 cup (250ml/250 gm/9 oz) finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon (5 ml/3 gm) turmeric
1 teaspoon (5 ml/6 gm) salt
½ cup (120 ml) coconut milk
1 tablespoon (15 ml/15 gm) tamarind pulp
¼ cup (60 ml) hot water

1/4 cup tamarind paste
3 cups (720 ml) water

Dry Spice Mixture:
1 tablespoon (15 ml/13 gm) raw white rice
1 tablespoon (15 ml/10 gm) coriander seeds
1 teaspoon (5 ml/4 gm) cumin seeds
one 1-inch piece (2½ cm) cinnamon or cassia stick
seeds from 2 pods of green cardamom


Sri Lankan Curry

Sri Lankan Curry with pork and hot curried chicken, with rice and appam

1. Cut the meat into ½ inch (13 mm) cubes or separate the ribs. Set aside.
2. In a small heavy skillet, roast the dry spice mixture over medium to medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring continuously, until it smells amazing! You will be able to see that the rice is a toasted color.
3. Transfer to a spice grinder or mortar and grind/pound to a powder. Set aside.
4. In a large, wide pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the curry leaves, green chile, onion and turmeric and stir-fry for 3 minutes. I cooked my onions until they were golden brown. So good. Add the meat and salt and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally so all surfaces of the meat get browned.
5. Add the reserved spice mixture and the coconut milk and stir to coat the meat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. Add the tamarind paste to the 3 cups of water.
7. Add the tamarind/water mixture to the pot and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and cook uncovered at a strong simmer for about an hour, until the meat is tender and the flavors are well blended. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve hot.

Shown here with hot curried chicken, rice, and an appam.

Beef, Cuppylicious!, Meat, Pasta & Rice, Sauces and Dips, The Daring Cooks' Challenge

Beef with Curried Tomato Almond Sauce

Beef with Curried Tomato Almond Sauce

Beef with Curried Tomato Almond Sauce

Total time:  Approximately 1 hour.

The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a savory recipe. The original recipe given called for chicken, I used beef, and I substituted heavy cream in place of milk.

1 Tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
24 ounces beef, cubed or diced
Salt to taste

Spice Blend:
1.5 tablespoons (20 ml) garam masala seasoning
1 teaspoon (5 ml) ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) black pepper

4 tablespoons (60 ml) butter
1 large onion, cut in half pole to pole
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15-ounce/425 g) can tomato sauce
1/3 cup (80 ml) almond butter
1/2 cup (80 ml) heavy cream
½ to ¾ cup (120 to 180 ml) chicken broth or water, more as needed
1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

Almond Cream

Almond Cream


Mix together almond butter and heavy cream in a food processor or blender (or whisk until smooth). Set aside.

Stir garam masala, ginger, cinnamon, and pepper together in a small bowl. Set aside.

If desired, pound meat to ¼ inch (6 mm) thickness to promote even cooking. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper to taste. Heat 1 teaspoon (5 ml) olive oil a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the meat; sauté 3 to 5 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Cook the meat in 2 batches, adding more oil if needed for second batch. Set aside on clean plate and keep warm.

Melt the butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook gently for several minutes to infuse the butter with onion flavor. Keep the heat low to avoid burning the butter; a little color is fine. Add the spice blend and garlic and cook for 1 minute or till fragrant, stirring constantly. Add the tomato sauce, stir well, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Whisk in almond cream until thoroughly combined with tomato sauce. Return to simmer. Add broth (or water) to sauce to reach desired consistency; return to simmer. Add more broth (or water) as needed to thin sauce as desired.

Transfer sliced meat to sauce. Simmer gently for a few minutes until meat is heated through.

Serve meat and sauce over rice. Garnish with chopped parsley and/or sliced almonds if desired.

As this is, I couldn’t possibly label it as Indian, but it definitely has an Indian flavor to it. So if you’re looking for something reminiscent of Indian food, and you’re not a fan of cumin or fenugreek, this is definitely a winner.

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

Beef Peanut Curry

Curried beef with vegetables on rice

Curried beef with vegetables on rice

Total time:  Approximately 1 hour.

The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a savory recipe.

1 pound sliced beef
14 ounces (1 can) coconut milk
2/3 cup peanut butter or other nut butter*
1 carrot, sliced or julienned
1/2 bushel of fresh spinach, rinsed well
1/4 cup Thai red curry paste or more to taste
1/4 cup soy sauce (or 2 Tbsp fish sauce)
1/4 cup loose (not packed) brown sugar
1 Tbsp chopped onions (optional)
1 Tbsp vegetable or other oil

* To make your own nut butter, process in a food processor an amount of nuts equal to double what the recipe requires. In this case, I used 1.5 cups of salted, unshelled peanuts, and processed until a smooth paste formed. Some nut butter might require oil (to process and make smooth) and salt (to taste).

This is a stirring-constantly stir fry.

Heat oil in a large skillet on medium-high. Add onions (it should sizzle) and cook until clear or golden brown, 3-5 minutes. Add sliced beef and cook until brown on all sides, 2-3 minutes. Add curry paste and mix well until all pieces of meat are coated.

Add carrots, coconut milk (remember to shake it before opening it!), and peanut butter. Stir well. Add soy sauce and brown sugar, mix well, and cook until it just starts to boil. Cover and reduce heat to low, cooking until the carrots are tender or desired doneness, 5-10 minutes. If you like your carrots firm, skip the reduction.

Add spinach and stir well until the spinach wilts and is completely covered in sauce.

Serves 4-6.

This is a little more sauce than there is food to coat, so if you have more vegetables, you should probably add them.

The flavor of your red curry paste will vary, so use caution if you don’t like a lot of heat. I never put seafood anything in my curry paste, and I always use the full amount of peppers, because you never know if you’ll get “lame duck” peppers instead of the good hot kind you really want.

Beef, Breads and Desserts, Cuppylicious!, Meat

Cheesesteak Sandwich Pocket

Cheesesteak "hot pocket" sandwiches

Cheesesteak "hot pocket" sandwiches

Total time:  1.5 hours

1/2 pound thinly sliced beef, cooked
1 cup shredded cheese
2 Tbsp cream cheese
1 large jalapeno, minced
half batch of Empanada Dough III or other pastry dough

Preheat oven to 425.

Mix together cheeses and jalapeno until somewhat smooth (about 40 times around the bowl).

Add meat and mix well.

If using the empanada dough or pastry dough, separate out into 8 equal parts. Roll nearly flat. Place a heaping tablespoon of meat mixture into the center. Fold over and press close.

Bake on 425 for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

As I was rolling out the dough, I was thinking, “man, this would be a lot faster if I’d just used bread and made sandwiches in my sandwich maker”. Oh well, next time.

Inside the cheeseteak sandwich... not-so-minced jalapenos!

Inside the cheeseteak sandwich... not-so-minced jalapenos!

Beef, Cuppylicious!, Meat, Sauces and Dips

Braised Bolognese Sauce (or Casserole)

Braised Bolognese Sauce

Braised Bolognese Sauce

Total time:  1.5 hours.

After doing the pork satay for the January DC Challenge, I thought I’d give this book another go. Adapted from Five-spice Lamb in 1000 Recipes by Martha Day.

1 pound ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 cup tomatoes, chopped
1 cup beef stock
2 Tbsp hoisin sauce
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp ginger root, minced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tsp five-spice powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup of chopped vegetables (optional)
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped (optional)
1 dollop of tahini paste (optional)

Preheat oven to 325.

Brown beef in a large skillet. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Maintain the grease in the pan to saute onions, garlic and ginger root. Cook on medium-high heat until onions turn translucent or even golden.

Add the meat back to the pan, as well as tomatoes, stock, hoisin, soy sauce, and five-spice. Mix well. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer to a casserole dish and bake, covered, for 60 minutes. If you’re using the optional vegetables, bake for 45 minutes, stir in vegetables, then bake for another 15 minutes.

Stir in cilantro and tahini just before serving.

The original recipe calls for minced lamb and lamb stock, as well as toasted sesame seeds instead of tahini.

I skipped the vegetables and served this (with a full 1/2 cup of cilantro) as a bolognese sauce on top of Elise’s Spanish rice. I think it would have tasted great on top of soba noodles… maybe next time.

Beef, Cuppylicious!, Meat

Beef Pot Pie

Beef Pot Pie

Beef Pot Pie

Total time:  2.5 hours.

1 lb beef, cubed
1 medium onion, sliced or diced
1 medium-large potato, cubed and cooked (about 1 cup)
1 carrot, sliced or diced (optional)
1/2 cup of peas (optional)
1 1/2 cups beef broth (about 1 can)
3 T olive oil
3 T flour
1 T seasonings (3 tsps, any way you like it)*
Empanada Dough or other savory pastry dough

In a small dish or plastic bag, mix flour and seasonings. Coat beef cubes in flour mixture.

In a skillet, cook beef and onion in oil until beef is browned and onion is tender. Add broth to the skillet. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Uncover; stir in any remaining vegetables. Cook until heated through.

Spoon meat mixture into a greased 9-in. pie plate or 4-cup baking dish and cover with pastry dough. Be sure to make a slit in the top to release steam. OR — Spread half your pastry dough across a pie plate for the bottom crust, spoon mix on top, and cover with remaining dough (or cheese or mashed potatoes or breadcrumbs or crackers).

Bake at 375 degrees F for 35-40 minutes or until pastry is lightly browned on edges.  If you’re doing a bottom crust and a top crust (pot pie!), increase bake time to 1 hour.

Let cool 10-20 minutes before serving.

* Today I’m using Durkee chicken seasonings. If you don’t already have a “mixed” seasoning, you could try salt (1 tsp), black pepper (1 tsp), paprika (1/2 tsp), garlic powder (1/2 tsp). Or make up your own; you just want a 1:3 ratio of seasoning to flour.

Beef, Crock-pot Cookin', Meat, Pork

Beef Rouladen, Modern Crock Pot Style

Total time:  7-12 hours.

4 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
2 lbs Round Steak, Chopped/Cubed
8 Slices of Bacon (Thick cut)
1 Large Onion, Chopped Finely
Mushrooms (as much as you want!)
Peas & Carrots (optional)
1 Dill Pickle, sliced & diced
3 Tablespoons Cooking Oil (We like EVOO)
3 Cups Beef Broth
1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup water

Cook steak, mushrooms, onions, peas & carrots in oil till cooked and sauteed.  Cook bacon in separate pan till crispy; crumble the bacon and add to meat mixture.  Simmer for about 5 minutes; drain if applicable.  Add mustard till dissolved.  Place mixture in crock pot, add broth and cook on high for 6 hours (or 10-12 on low).  Once done, mix flour and water until smooth, then slowly add to thicken mixture.

Best served over Egg noodles… mmmmm