Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sasha's Kitchen: Momofuku Milk Bar's 'Crack' Pie

The following recipe is part of the Momofuku (David Chang) craze that has taken New York by storm.  I love the desserts at Momofuku Milk Bar.  Those of you who are familiar with Momofuku may already know about their famous Milk Bar "Crack" Pies that sell like hotcakes for $40 a pie.  The crack pies (which don't contain any crack at all, obviously) are pies made of an oatmeal cookie crust with a gooey butter & milk filling.  I was so happy with how mine came out using the actual Momofuku recipe from the Los Angeles Times adaptation.  In fact, I couldn't taste the difference between mine and the Milk Bar version at Momofuku in NYC.  So, if you are craving Momofuku Milk Bar, without further ado, here's how to make their famous "Crack" Pie.  It wasn't as complicated as it sounds from the recipe, I swear.  Actually, it was as easy as - well - pie.  It's a bit on the unhealthy side (all that butter) but oh so good as a special treat.  The recipe makes two eight inch pies so you have one to share with friends.  If you only want one, feel free to do the math and cut the recipe in half.

Momofuku Milk Bar Crack Pie (adapted from this recipe)

Cookie for Crust
2/3 cup plus 1 T flour
1/8 teaspoon baking powder (scant)
1/8 teaspoon baking soda (scant)
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick butter (softened)
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup rolled oats (scant)

crumbed cookie (above)
1/2 stick butter (melted)
1 1/2 T brown sugar
1/8 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cups light brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup plus 1 tsp dry milk powder
2 sticks butter (melted)

First, prepare the cookie.  Preheat the oven to 375 and combine the dry ingredients.  Beat the butter brown sugar and sugar in the basin of a stand mixer until light and fluffy.  Whisk in the egg, and beat in the dry ingredients, before stirring in the oats.

Spread on a cookie sheet like one big giant cookie.  Bake until golden brown for about 20 minutes.  Allow to cool.  Once cooled, crumble by hand, or in a food processor.  I was lazy and used my food processor.  Mix the crumble with the melted butter, brown sugar and salt in step two to make the crust.  Spray two eight inch pie dishes with PAM and press the crust into each shell to form a conventional pie crust.  Set the shells aside while you prepare the filling.

Heat the oven to 350.  Combine the brown sugar, salt and milk powder.  Whisk in the melted butte,r heavy cream and vanilla.  Gently whisk in the egg yolks.  Divide the mixture and use to fill the two shells.  Bake the shells for 15 to 20 minutes at 350 and then at 325 for another 10 minutes.  Remove the pies to cool on a rack when they are only slightly "jiggy" and are golden brown.  Refridgerate until chilled and dust with powdered sugar.  Serve chilled.  Yum!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Sasha's Kitchen: Corn Chowder With Crab, Potatoes and Mushrooms

The following recipe was inspired by my desire to prepare a crab and corn chowder.  I researched a number of recipes and was loosely inspired by a recipe from an old issue of Gourmet magazine.  However, I made a number of changes, especially changing the spice mixture of the chowder.  The end result was good, but perhaps a bit on the busy side with a variety of different vegetables.  Next time I make the chowder, I think I will adapt the recipe further.  Here's what I plan to change the next time I make the recipe:  I will leave out the celery and leeks to make the recipe less busy, and I will puree the corn as a variation.  However, in my opinion, it was lovely this way, as well.  In addition, in the summer, it would be nice to prepare the recipe using fresh ears of sweet corn, but since it's only March, that was not an option for me at this time.

Despite my desire for the perfect chowder, this recipe was still very enjoyable and had a lovely texture.  I highly recommend making it, but encourage readers to make the variations that I suggested to make the soup a bit less complex.  Still, the broth had a lovely flavor and the potatoes, mushrooms, crab and corn all complimented each other nicely.  I have written the recipe below with the changes I will make next time incorporated.

Crab Corn Chowder (loosely adapted from this recipe)
4 cans of organic corn
3 cups whipping cream
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped leeks [I suggest omitting these next time]
1 cup chopped celery [I suggest omitting these next time]
20 small baby golden potatoes
6-8 oz baby bella mushrooms
1 1/2 tsp ground fennel
1 1/2 tsp ground paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
pepper to taste
2 T butter
3/4 lb lump crabmeat
2 T sherry
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves

First, puree the corn, or leave the corn whole (I might try pureeing next time in a miniprep).  Then, combine the corn with the whipping cream and chicken broth and summer for five minutes.  Set aside.

Heat 3 T of canola oil in a large saute pan.  Add the onions, fennel, potatoes, cayenne pepper and paprika.  Also add the leeks and celery if you are using them (I plan to leave them out next time to make the soup a bit less busy and to focus more on the other flavors).  Saute about 15 minutes until the vegetables are tender, including the potatoes - until the point that they are about halfway cooked.  Add mixture to the broth and simmer until the potatoes are tender, for about another 10 minutes.  Add some pepper to the broth, to taste.

Saute the mushrooms in a separate pan with the butter and sherry, and add to the soup.  Saute the crab in a bit of canola oil.  To serve, place a bit of crab in each bowl and top with chowder.  Season with pepper and chives.

This soup was enjoyable, but is a bit off from what I had hoped for when I was craving a crab chowder. I think it would be even better with the variations I suggest, and I think I will explore additional modifications the next time I am inclined to work on the recipe.

Eric's Kitchen in Jersey City: Shrimp & Mushroom Dumplings

Another dumpling recipe for the food blog! While these look just like my last recipe from the outside, they are filled with Shrimp and Shiitake mushrooms and so they taste pretty different. Sasha recommended trying to make my own wrappers this time but after looking at a few recipes online and trying to find the ingredients with no success I settled on using the same old wrappers I've always used. They came out great in the end and I definitely recommend this recipe for the filling at least!

1 package of gyoza style dumpling wrappers
1.5 lbs. raw shrimp, cleaned and cut into thirds or fourths depending on the size
1-1.5 cups shredded red cabbage
4 large shiitake mushrooms, chopped
2 bunches of scallions, chopped
1-2 tbsp soy sauce
chili and sesame oil
1 tbsp or 1 clove minced garlic
chopped fresh ginger and or water chestnuts are also a great addition

These are pretty simple to make but require a great deal of time. If your wrappers are frozen make sure to thaw them thoroughly ahead of time. Then I chop up everything and put it in a large mixing bowl and give myself some surface area to wrap the filling. For the filling this time I decided I really wanted the shrimp to be the main ingredient so I made sure the pieces weren't too small and bought some decent sized shrimp. I made the mistake once of using salad shrimp. I will never do that again. Also make sure you add a little soy sauce to the filling mixture as it really brings out the flavor.

I tried to make sure each dumpling had about the equivalent of a whole shrimp as well as a decent amount of everything else. I placed this on the wrappers and you need to wet the edge of the wrapper with a little water and then just fold it up and press the edges firmly together. Try to make sure that they are nicely sealed as they don't cook as properly if they aren't.

When cooking these I use a combination of sesame oil and chili oil to handle the heat well and to give some kick. I'd put maybe a tablespoon of each in a large frying pan and let it get nice and hot before adding the dumplings. I fit as many in the pan as possible just because I'm usually making a large amount of these which is fine since they freeze well and can be reheated in an oven or toaster oven after thawing. It's good to leave them in the pan, uncovered until they are nicely browned on the bottom. You don't want to be eating raw shrimp but I also wouldn't recommend pre-cooking the shrimp as they might get overdone.

After they are browned on the bottom I turn them to brown on the side as well and pour a little water in the pan (maybe 1-2 tbsp) and immediately cover it, letting them steam until the water is mostly absorbed. Again this helps ensure that the shrimp cooks fully and usually helps tighten the wrappers. In the end you get a nice crunchy and slightly spicy shrimp dumpling. I usually end up serving it with some bottled dumpling sauce but making your own is pretty easy and usually just involves some rice wine vinegar, garlic, ginger, scallions and soy sauce. Pretty much what we used during our Mongolian Hot Pot as a dipping sauce.

Also see Sasha's Lamb Dumplings and Molly's Pork Hash.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sasha's Kitchen: Pupcakes! Pug Puppy Cupcakes

Most of my food posts are recipe oriented.  I like to encourage readers of this blog to try new recipes that have worked well for me and made my family happy.  However, I also enjoy exploring the link between food and art.  I recognize that some of my cupcake recipes are probably not the most practical for those of you at home to try out, but are fun to read about nonetheless.  In exploring the link between food and  art, I previously did a series of pop art cupcakes where I replicated different modern art paintings by putting them into cupcake designs.  Over the weekend, I had a couple extra s'mores cupcakes from my most recent cupcake recipe, and decided to create a couple of one-off cupcakes that personified an important member of my family -- my dog, Dakota.

I have a pug, and I absolutely adore the breed.  Between the snorting, affectionate but playful antics, and the cute wrinkly faces and compact bodies, I think pugs are one of the greatest breeds of dogs on the planet.  Mine is sweet and spunky and an integral part of our family.  Her second birthday is coming up in April, so in honor of that, and in the spirit of creativity, I decided create pug puppy cupcakes -- which I refer to affectionately as "pupcakes."

My pupcakes were created using ready-made colored fondant in neutral colors.   I have not made my own fondant -- yet (it's a matter of time, really).  However, I have a series of cupcake projects planned that require large amounts of different colored fondant that are probably going to necessitate making it myself to get the colors right.  For this project, though, I purchased a package of Wilton neutral fondant from NY Cake.  The package came with fondant in two shades of brown, black and a peach fleshy color.  These are the perfect colors for making pugs!  I think that my pupcakes personify what I love best about pugs - that sweet wrinkly face, the big eyes and so much dog in such a small package.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sasha's Kitchen: Food & Wine Pairing: Amaretto Panna Cotta & Wagner Vineyards Riesling Ice Wine

I recently received several bottles of wine from New York's Wagner Vineyards, on the shores of Seneca Lake, as a gratuity, to review for this website.  Because I love Ice Wines, was so excited that I could hardly wait to do my first pairing, with the 2007 Wagner Vineyards Riesling Ice Wine.

Wagner Vineyards, on New York's Finger Lakes Wine Trail (specifically Seneca Lake), is well known, and the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, for their Rieslings and Ice Wines.  They are one of the premier New York State Rieslings that have put Finger Lakes Wineries on the map.  Wagner is an Estate Winery, which means that all of the grapes are grown on vineyards located at the winery, for use in its wines.  It is one of the top Riesling and Ice Wine producers in the Finger Lakes and I am excited to have the chance to taste and review some of their wines.

I paired the 2007 Wagner Vineyards Riesling Ice Wine with my Amaretto-flavored panna cotta, topped with passion fruit caramelized apples.  The wine was a lively, fragrant and exciting Ice Wine.  It was not quite as sweet as the Canadian Ice Wines that I tasted on my wine tasting trip in Ontario.  However, it was a welcoming fruity dessert wine that was mild in its sweet overtures.  The wine had the pleasant aroma and taste of apples and raisins with tropical undertones.

I thought that the Wagner Ice Wine complemented the panna cotta nicely, and brought out the flavors in the amaretto and apples that incorporated into the dessert.  This was one of my favorite ice wines to date - a truly exemplary wine.  It was perfectly matched to the panna cotta.  The passion fruit used to caramelize the apples highlighted some of the tropical flavors in the Riesling Ice Wine as well.  This is not an overpowering dessert wine, but is a pleasant fruity Riesling Ice Wine.  It would also pair nicely with goat cheese or with creme brulee.  My husband and I really enjoyed it!

The panna cotta is quite easy to make, just allow a couple of hours for the dessert to solidify.  I chose to make it amaretto flavored because I have vast quantities of Amaretto from my liqueur making adventures (click here for my Amaretto recipe).  Below is my recipe for Amaretto Panna cotta, which I developed after looking at numerous recipes for plain panna cotta and creating my own that incorporated the subtle, sweet almond flavoring.  My recipe made three desserts, although this depends on the size of the bowls that you use as molds.

Sasha's Amaretto Panna Cotta With Caramelized Apples
1 envelope gelatin
2 1/2 T cold water
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup sugar
3 T Amaretto
1/3 cup passion fruit juice (for apples)
3 T sugar (for apples)
1 apple, peeled and sliced

To prepare the panna cotta, add the water to the gelatin.  Meanwhile, combine the cream, milk and sugar (a quarter cup) over medium heat and mix until the sugar is dissolved.  Add the amaretto and the gelatin and stir over medium heat until the gelatin is dissolved.  Do not allow the mixture to boil or bubble.  Pour into small glass bowls or ramekins, and refrigerate for two hours.  When the panna cotta is chilled, cut around the sides with a knife or toothpick until it comes out of the mold when you flip it over (this is a bit tricky, and I found the toothpick worked best to loosen the panna cotta).  I also caramelized some apple slices in 1/3 cup of passion fruit juice with 3 T of sugar and used these to top the panna cotta because the apple flavor complemented the Wagner Riesling Ice Wine so nicely.

Click here to read my wine pairing of Heron Hill Winery's Riesling With Cheese Fondue and click here to read my pairing of Rooster Hill Winery's Riesling with Apricot Almond Couscous.  Click here for my review of Ontario Ice Wines and here for Michelle's Review of Ontario Ice Winery Lailey Vineyards.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sasha's Kitchen: Romaine Salad With Goat Cheese Fritters, Dried Cranberries, Pecans & Passion Fruit Dressing

Last week, I had a wonderful salad with goat cheese fritters, pumpkin seeds, boston bibb lettuce and dried cranberries at the Farm On Adderley (click here to read my review), I was inspired to create a similar salad using goat cheese fritters.  I had tried to deep fry goat cheese years ago in making a salad and it was a disaster - the goat cheese melted during the frying process. This time, I did a bit of research and learned that the process would work effectively if you freeze the goat cheese for about 45 minutes (not longer) prior to the battering and frying.  It worked, and the salad was a huge success at my Saturday brunch with our guests.

For the salad dressing, I did a unusual take on a fruit reduction vinaigrette and created my own passion fruit reduction using some Welch's passion fruit juice that I purchased at the grocery store.  The dressing was sweet but complemented the goat cheese and the tangy dried cranberries in a lovely way, and had the distinct flavor of passion fruit that I love so much.  Another note, I absolutely would have loved to use Boston (Bibb) lettuce with this salad, but it wasn't available fresh right now at my grocery stores and organic market so I had to settle for romaine, which was pretty good, as well.

Sasha's Romaine Salad With Goat Cheese Fritters, Dried Cranberries, Pecans & Passion Fruit Vinaigrette (4 salads)
Large head of romaine lettuce or Boston (Bibb) lettuce (2 heads if you use Boston lettuce)
dried cranberries
chopped pecans
8 oz goat cheese
2 eggs
dried bread crumbs (I recommend using plain bread crumbs, not Panko for this recipe)
2 cups passion fruit juice
1/2 cup canola oil

To prepare the goat cheese fritters, form the goat cheese into 12 balls.  Put in the freezer for about 45 minutes.  Remove frozen balls of goat cheese from the freezer, batter in beaten eggs, and coat with breadcrumbs.  Deep fry following the instructions for your deep fryer, or in a large pot with a couple inches of oil.  If you are using a hot pot, about three inches of canola oil and a heat setting of about 350 degrees is what my husband used (yes, it's true, Brad did the deep frying, not me because I hate deep frying!)

To make the dressing, reduce the passion fruit juice to about 1/2 a cup by heating on high for about 20 minutes or so.  Then, mix with the canola oil to form a dressing.  Assemble the salads with the lettuce, pecans, goat cheese balls and dried cranberries.  I was very happy with the reception I got from this salad from our brunch guests!

Eric's Kitchen in Jersey City: Bacon, Mushroom & Spinach Quiche

My Mom makes amazing quiche and I wanted to try and it make it like she does but she was away on vacation and so I couldn't get her recipe. So I looked up how to make a healthier pie crust online (see below) and looked in my copy of the Joy of Cooking book for a recipe for the filling. I used their Quiche Lorraine recipe as a guideline and added sauteed mushrooms and spinach.

Crust: (from this wonderful website)
1.5 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp whole milk
1/2 cup olive oil

So obviously you need to make the crust first. This recipe is great for things like quiche or maybe even a cheesecake as it's a very crumbly crust, almost like graham cracker crusts. I wouldn't recommend it for pies although I've never made a pie! Preheat the oven to 375 and mix your salt and flour first. Combine the milk and oil and then add them to the flour mixture. Mix it all thoroughly and then form it to your pie pan. I used a glass Pyrex pan and greased it slightly with olive oil Pam. Bake for 20 minutes.

3 eggs
2 cups whole milk
1/2 lb. bacon, cooked and crushed into bits
1/2 package baby bella mushrooms
handfull fresh spinach
1/3 cup onion, chopped
pinches of white pepper & paprika
1/2 cup shredded Gruyere cheese

For the filling, I started with the bacon. I cooked it until crispy and let it dry on some paper towels and removed MOST of the fat from the pan. My mom would kill me for doing this as she's a total health nut, but I then cooked the mushrooms and onions in the remaining bacon fat with a little black pepper. It just seemed like a waste to not use it and it gives such a good flavor. When the mushrooms and onions were soft I added the spinach for just a few seconds until it was wilted and then set these aside.

To keep your crust from getting soggy you can brush it with an egg white before adding your other ingredients. Preheat the oven to 375 or if you're doing this all at once leave it hot. The recipe then said to crumble the bacon and make a layer at the bottom of the crust and then add your shredded cheese on top of that. I wondered at this point if the filling would mix properly or if everything would be at the bottom but continued and added the mushrooms, onions and spinach on top of the cheese.

You then want to combine the the eggs, milk and spices and pour these on top of the other ingredients. You will notice that many of them will float, giving you a more evenly mixed filling. Bake this for about 40 minutes until it's nicely browned on top. Next time I may add another layer of cheese to the top to help it brown even more. In the end you should have a nice, fluffy and delicious meal or snack for any time of the day.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sasha's Kitchen: Toasted S'mores Cupcakes And A Cupcake Necklace Giveaway!

I love s'mores.  Ever since I was a kid, s'mores over a campfire were one of my favorite summertime treats. I liked a deeply toasted marshmallow,  all gooey and browned, sometimes even a tad on the burnt side.  When my husband and I got married, on the first night of our honeymoon we had s'mores for dessert at out hotel, The Grand Wailea in Maui.  That was the perfect setting for lovely beachside/tableside s'mores on a September night.  Cupcakes are my favorite baking project, so for the start of a beautiful spring, it was only natural for me to prepare a s'mores cupcake.  These s'mores cupcakes weren't toasted campfire-side, but they were toasted using our kitchen torch (more commonly used in creme brulee preparation).  They incorporate all three elements essential to genuine s'mores: toasted marshmallow, chocolate and graham cracker.  I made these on the perfect Friday night with one of my favorite people and sous chefs, my friend and cousin Alicia.  They were also the perfect dessert to our Saturday brunch yesterday that we hosted for some close friends.

The marshmallow frosting was perfect - it toasted exactly like a true marshmallow would have in the campfire, and even crackled the same way as a marshmallow when contacted with the creme brulee torch.   I suggest making these to bring back memories of those perfect summer nights when you were a kid.  These are also perfect to make with children if you don't have the opportunity to make it to a real bonfire.  They taste completely authentic and are fun to prepare.  The recipe is below, but first, I am providing details on my very first site giveaway!

CUPCAKE NECKLACE GIVEAWAY DETAILS:  Also, I am giving away two cute glass cupcake necklaces from New York Designer Moon & Star Designs to two lucky readers of this blog!!!!!
To enter in this Giveaway, 1) comment on this post with your email address or 2) or send an e-mail to  You must be a follower of this blog on the follower tab (located midway down on the right sidebar of the blog, since I am not sure if this link will work) OR a fan in my facebook fan group to enter because I want to reward facebook fans and blog followers.
You will get one entry in the giveaway if you are a facebook fan and a second entry if you are a follower.  So, if you are not already a google follower or a facebook fan, please both to get two entries.  You must also reside in the United States to Enter.  This giveaway will be ongoing until Midnight Sunday April 4, 2010.  One of the glass necklaces is pictured below from Moon & Star Designs:

TOASTED S'MORES CUPCAKES RECIPE (Derived and adapted from this recipe on Martha Stewart's Website) (makes 2 dozen; feel free to halve the recipe to make less)

2 1/4 cups plus 2 T sugar (for cake)

Additional 1/4 cup sugar (for graham cracker crust)
1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup plus 1 T dutch process cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

Marshmallow Frosting Recipe (I used this recipe)
8 large egg whites
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 Degrees.  Line two muffin tins with cupcake liners.  Combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cocoa and sugar) in a mixing bowl.  In a large bowl, combine the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla.  Put in a mixer and combine the wet and dry ingredients, scraping down the sides of your mixer as you mix on medium speed.  Add the boiling water and stir to combine.  Set aside.

Combine the graham cracker crumbs, remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and butter.  Place 1 tablespoon in each cupcake liner and press into the bottom of the cupcake liner.  Bake for 5 minutes at 350 until lightly browned.  Then, add the cupcake batter to each cupcake, about 3/4 of the way full.  Bake at 350 until done (testing with a toothpick) for about 20 to 25 minutes.  The toothpick should come out clean when the cupcakes are done.

Prepare the Marshmallow frosting by placing the sugar, egg whites and cream of tartar in a metal bowl over summering water in a double boiler.  You can simply use a small metal bowl floating in a pot of simmering water.  Whisk or stir  constantly until the sugar is dissolved, over medium heat, for 3-4 minutes.  Stir in the vanilla and transfer to your stand mixer.  Fit the mixer with the whisk attachment and beat on high until it forms a marshmallowy-meringue.  You will need to beat continuously on high for five to seven minutes until the marshmallow frosting looks like the picture below.  You will need a stand mixer (or at least a hand mixer) to make this frosting.

Froast the cupcakes using a frosting bag fitted with a plain round or french tip.  I used a french tip.  Then, follow the instructions for your creme brulee torch to toast the marshmallow frosting.  It toasts very quickly, just like a marshmallow would in intense heat. Thus, you will only need to brulee each cupcake for no more than 15 seconds.  Like I said above, when you eat this, it is just like eating a s'mores, only in cupcake form.  These were enjoyed by all of our friends who got to try them!

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