Friday, January 17, 2020

Korean Fried Chicken in the Air Fryer

Korean Fried Chicken in the Air Fryer - made December 13, 2019, modified from Tasty Kitchen
This was from last month when I was still going through my Korean Fried Chicken and chicken in the air fryer phase. This recipe let me combine both themes.
At this point, I'd finally broken down and bought the more expensive chicken wings from Costco. I don't know why chicken wings would be more expensive than thighs or drumsticks but if I wanted to try actual chicken wings, I had to buy chicken wings.
The air fryer worked beautifully to cook the chicken with far less mess than frying them in hot oil and is healthier. The drummettes and wings came out crispy enough. I did double the sauce recipe though as it didn't look like there would be enough sauce for all the chicken. I think I still have the Filipino mindset where you need enough sauce to go with the rice.

Good KFC though, in my experience, doesn't need to be sauce heavy. Part of the allure is having enough to make the chicken flavorful but not be too heavy handed. It isn't meant to be saucy enough to be sopped up with rice.
Still, this turned out pretty well. The gochujang makes it spicy so I could've probably cut back a little on the sauce and done a better job tossing the chicken to coat. But it was "good enough" for me.
Chili Sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons ginger, grated
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons Gochujang (Korean chili paste)

For the Chicken
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 whole chicken wings, separated and tips discarded
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 stalk green onion, for garnish
  1. Chili sauce: combine soy sauce, vinegar, corn syrup, sesame oil, ginger, garlic and gochujang in a large bowl; set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, egg and salt for the batter until it's a thick paste. Add the wings and mix with your hands until wings are thoroughly coated.
  3. Place coated wings in air fryer basket and drizzle with oil. Cook in air fryer for about 35 minutes or until brown and crispy.
  4. Add fried chicken to the sauce and add sesame seeds; toss to coat completely. Serve hot, garnished with green onion.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Pecan Butterscotch Shortbreads

Pecan Butterscotch Shortbreads - made dough December 14, 2019 from Dorie's Cookies by Dorie Greenspan
I made these for my mom to take to a holiday party last month. I'm still catching up on posts from December. You'd think I'd have more time with this retirement thing but I find the days going by pretty quickly. Only difference is instead of work, they're filled more with the activities of my choosing :).
This is another great recipe from Dorie Greenspan. The original recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of Scotch whisky, presumably for flavoring. I don't drink and I can't stand the taste of whisky (it only took one disastrous snickerdoodle recipe spiked with whisky to convince me) so I subbed out the whisky for 1 tablespoon of rum and an extra tablespoon of vanilla extract.
I've baked with rum before, notably in a Basque cake, so I know I can stand a small amount for flavoring. The rum flavor came out in this shortbread cookie but not too much. Bear in mind I have very low tolerance for alcohol. More seasoned drinkers probably wouldn't even taste it.
But I did like how these cookies turned out. The dough was easy to work with, the cookies held their shape well in baking and sandwiching with cookie butter was the perfect flavor complement. You can eat these plain as well but I like making them as cookie butter sandwiches.

1 3/4 cups (238 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (32 grams) cornstarch
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into chunks, room temperature
1/2 cup (100 grams) packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup (30 grams) confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons Scotch whisky (I substituted 1 tablespoon rum and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup (80 grams) chopped pecans, toasted and cooled
3 ounces best quality milk or white chocolate, finely chopped (I left them out)
  1. Sift flour and cornstarch together.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, brown sugar, confectioners' sugar and salt together on medium-low speed until smooth, about 4 minutes; scrape down sides of bowl.
  3. Add the Scotch and vanilla and beat for 1 minute more. Stop the mixer and add the dry ingredients all at once. Pulse until the risk of flying flour has passed. Beat on low speed until dry ingredients are absorbed. Add pecans and chocolate.
  4. Turn the dough out and gather together. Divide in half and shape into a disk. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll the dough between pieces of parchment paper to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Slide the parchment-sandwiched dough onto a baking sheet and freeze for at least 1 hour or refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  5. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Butter or spray two regular muffin tins and have a 2-inch diameter cookie cutter in hand.
  6. Working with one sheet of dough at a time, peel away both pieces of parchment paper and put the dough back on one piece of paper. Cut the dough and drop the rounds into the tins. The dough won't fill the tins now but it will once baked. Save the scraps.
  7. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the cookies are toasty brown and set around the edges. Transfer the tins to the cooling rack and allow the cookies to rest for at least 20 minutes or until they reach room temperature before unmolding.
  8. Repeat with remaining cookie dough. Gather the scraps together, re-roll, chill, cut and bake.

Sunday, January 12, 2020


Fudge - made December 6, 2019 from Back to My Southern Roots
This was another attempt to defy the Fudge Gods to make decent fudge. I've had my failures and my (limited) success in the past with fudge. I want to make it as creamy as See's Candy fudge but I don't like walnuts so I want a plain fudge a la See's Candy.
Over the years and failed attempts, I've lowered my aspirations from See's Candy goodness to "fudge that isn't dry or crumbly". Fortunately, this hit the mark.Although it firmed up nicely, it was creamy and soft when you bit into it. A bit sweet, like fudge usually is (hello, marshmallow cream) so if you want a darker, richer fudge, use 85% bittersweet or dark chocolate. I used mini chocolate chips for easier melting and they're standard semisweet.
Although I normally like to make fudge with roasted almonds or pecans in them to offset the sweetness, I kept these plain as the bulk of it was going into a care package for military personnel overseas. While the deployed soldier I was sending them to checked "no allergies" on his info, I know they share their care package with the rest of their unit and there might be allergies amongst them so I left out the nuts.
This was creamy enough when first made but I did find it dried out a little, even though I froze them first before mailing. I wrapped them tightly (this was before I got a food vacuum sealer for Christmas) so I hope they arrived okay.
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter
2/3 cup (5 ounces) evaporated milk
3 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup (5 ounces) evaporated milk
12 ounces mini chocolate chips
1 7-ounce jar marshmallow cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted (I omitted them this time)
  1. Line 8 x 8" square baking pan with foil and very lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium high heat. 
  3. Add evaporated milk and sugar; stir. Bring to a full rolling boil on medium heat; stirring constantly. Cook until candy thermometer reaches 234 degrees or for 4 minutes. Remove from heat.
  4. Add marshmallow cream; stir until well blended. 
  5. Add vanilla; stir until blended.
  6. Add chocolate chips and stir until chips are melted and blended.
  7. Fold in toasted pecans. Pour into prepared pan, smooth top and cool.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Baked Korean Chicken Wings

Baked Korean Chicken Wings - made December 4, 2019, modified from My Korean Kitchen
We're in the Korean Fried Chicken phase of my cooking experiments. Technically, these aren't Korean "Fried" Chicken at all since they're not breaded or fried but the marinade contains gochujang so that's where the Korean influence comes into play.
This is also an easier option since you don't bread or fry the chicken wings. Instead, you soak them in milk then marinade them for a few hours. Then bake.
It can't get much simpler. You just have to plan ahead for the soaking and marinading time but the actual prep and cooking are easy.
These had pretty good flavor as well. I used to buy those Hot and Spicy Wings from Costco when I wanted chicken wings (usually when I try to low carb) but I liked these better. They're not as spicy, taste good and are easy to make.
1 kg (2.2 pounds) chicken wings and drummettes
1 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried rosemary leaves
sesame seeds, for garnish
green onions, for garnish

2 tablespooons Gochujang (Korean chili paste)
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  1. Rinse the chicken and put in a bowl. Add the milk, salt, black pepper and rosemary; mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Drain the milk, leaving the rosemary residue on the chicken.
  2. Combine the marinade ingredients.
  3. Place the chicken in a large plastic bag. Add the marinade and seal the bag. Shake vigorously to coat the chicken thoroughly with the sauce. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
  4. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F for 20 minutes. Line a baking pa with foil and evenly space the chicken in a single layer. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn over the chicken and bake another 10 minutes or until skin is brown and shows some charring.
  5. Garnish with sesame seeds and green onions, if desired. Serve immediately.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Company's Comin' Coconut Cake

Company's Comin' Coconut Cake - made December 3, 2019 from The Brown Betty Cookbook by Linda Hinton Brown
I so loved the Sweet Potato Cake from the Brown Betty Cookbook that I had to try another cake recipe from it. Although I already have two favorite coconut cake recipes, one from Mrs Fields and one from Gonna Want Seconds, every once in awhile, I try out a new recipe, especially from a cookbook that's already proven itself.

When making a layer cake, I always reserve a little of the batter and bake a separate taste test in a cupcake size. That way, I can try the cake without having to slice up the finished 3-layer product for the taste test. Can't really present a cake with a slice missing or hand it over unproven and untasted.

Like the recipe from Gonna Want Seconds, this doesn't have any coconut in the cake itself. Which initially I always think is odd for a coconut cake. It's coconut cake. Where's the coconut?
In this recipe, the coconut is in the filling. And I have to admit, that works. The filling itself is delicious and when you're eating the finished product of cake, filling, frosting and coconut garnish, you get plenty of coconut.
My sloppy, unfrosted cake that makes it look like I have an enormous amount of filling is misleading as that high level of filling is only around the edges. Unfortunately, I forgot to use my magi-cake strips around the cake pans so the middle of the layers rose higher while the edges remained relatively flat. Hence, the more filling I needed to make the layers even and not tilt. Rookie error.
Not using the magi-cake strips also meant the edges baked faster and more than the middle so they were a little dry compared to the center.

Despite that, this was a pretty good cake. The texture of the cake was slightly dense, not quite as dense as a pound cake but not airy like a chiffon. For people who like a little more substance without too much heaviness to their cakes, this is a good one to try. The coconut provides the sweetness and chewiness while the cake serves as a good texture background, like a flavorful vanilla pound cake.

I think it would have been better had I baked it with magi-cake strips lining the cake pans but that's for next time.

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
5 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 recipe filling (below)
1 recipe Cream Cheese Frosting
4 cups sweetened flaked coconut
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat three 9-inch round cake pans with vegetable shortening, line the bottoms with parchment paper, and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until light and fluffy; add the sugar on low speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, beating until blended and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  4. Reduce the mixer speed to low. Add the cream, milk and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add the flour mixture and beat until blended. Increase the mixer speed to high and beat until smooth, about 1 minute.
  5. Divide the batter equally among the prepared pans. Bake until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes before turning them out onto wire racks to cool completely. Remove the parchment paper.
  6. To assemble and frost the cakes: place 1 cake layer, bottom-side up, on a cake plate. Use an offset spatula to spread half of the filling on top. Add the second cake layer, bottom-side down, and spread with the remaining filling. Top with the third layer, bottom-side up. Use a large offset spatula to spread the frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Use the palm of your hand to gently press the coconut onto the sides and top of the cake.
Company's Comin' Filling
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1/4 cup sour cream
  1. In a small bowl, stir the cornstarch, 2 tablespoons water, and vanilla until the cornstarch has dissolved.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir the cream, milk, sugar and butter until melted and smooth. Add the cornstarch mixture to the cream mixture and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the coconut. Cool to room temperature.
  3. Stir the sour cream into the cooled coconut mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
Cream Cheese Frosting
Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the butter and beat until fluffy, scraping the bowl as necessary, about 3 minutes.
  2. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the confectioners' sugar and vanilla until blended, scraping the bowl as necessary. Increase the mixer speed to high and beat until fluffy. Set aside until ready to use.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Perfect Creamy Mashed Potatoes & Christmas lunch

Perfect Creamy Mashed Potatoes - made December 25, 2019 from Modern Honey
Do you know the advice they give about not trying out new recipes before serving it to company? I usually (though not always) follow that advice when it comes to baked goods because who wants to serve or give away something that doesn't turn out? Especially when you don't have a backup?
Mac and Cheese Bites with Bacon (Costco)

My mom's lumpia
I didn't think that would apply to mashed potatoes. It's mashed potatoes. What could go wrong? (insert foreboding cue and shiver of premonition). I tried following the recipe as is, including the amount of potatoes. Christmas was at my house this year and there would be 9 of us for a friendsmas. I went to Costco for a bag of Yukon Gold potatoes. The recipe called for 3 pounds of potatoes. The Costco bag held way more than 3 pounds so I boiled 5 pounds, thinking if that was too much potato for the liquids, I'd just add more cream and melted butter.
Lechon (Roast Pork) - ordered from a local Filipino restaurant
Everything was going fine, I was on schedule for the lunch, everything was all prepped. I decided to make the mashed potatoes a little bit early, figuring I could warm it up slightly when the guests arrived. Only to discover after I add the melted butter and half & half, that my potatoes, which looked like a lot already, suddenly looked soupy more than creamy. Ack. I rushed to boil another 5 potatoes. I don't know how much they weighed, I didn't have that much presence of mind to weigh them. I just needed more of them to add to my mixture.
Sweet Potato Cornbread (left) and crescent rolls (right)

Pancit Palabok (Filipino noodle dish) ordered from a local caterer
Fortunately it was enough and these did turn out nice and creamy. But instead of the "3" lbs called for in the recipe, I probably used at least 6. YMMV. Oh and there's only one picture of the mashed potatoes because I forgot to take more, just the ones of the whole spread. So I'm including those for your viewing.
Ham from Costco
3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into even-size chunks (I used double that)
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups half-and-half, whole milk or heavy cream
1/2 cup full-fat sour cream
2 teaspoons salt or more to taste
  1. Place potato chunks in a large pot and cover with water. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil. Once potatoes reach a boil, lower the heat and cover. Cook for 25-35 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender. Drain.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat the butter and half and half (or whole milk or cream) until the butter is melted and warm. Whisk to combine.
  3. Place the potatoes in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix for 30 seconds. Slowly add the butter and cream mixture, mixing at the lowest speed. Fold in sour cream and salt. Taste and season as needed.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Honey Sesame Instant Pot Chicken

Honey Sesame Instant Pot Chicken - made November 30, 2019 from Rasa Malaysia
Trying to catch up on the blog - the past week has been busy with holiday stuff!

It's been awhile since I used my Instant Pot but I'm glad I broke it out again for this recipe. I'd forgotten how easy it was to use to make flavorful dishes.
This requires a *tiny* bit more work if you want to sear the chicken first on Saute mode. But if you don't, you could skip that step. I tried to do it but I didn't use enough oil and the chicken kept sticking. That was too much work for me so I gave up, added the sauce, and shut the cover to let the Instant Pot do its thing.

I did add a little bit more cornstarch at the end and let the sauce thicken on Saute mode since the main drawback of the Instant Pot is the soupiness of anything I make in it. But this wasn't watery and the sauce thickened nicely. Went perfectly with a little rice and had good flavor.

1 1/2 pounds boneless and skinless chicken thighs (I used bone-in drumsticks)
black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon chopped scallion

Honey Sesame Sauce
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 1/2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Sriracha or chili garlic sauce (I used gochujang)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon cornstarch
  1. Wash and rinse chicken in cold water. Pat dry with paper towels. Season chicken with salt and pepper set aside. Mix all the sauce ingredients together; whisk to combine, dissolving honey and cornstarch completely. Set aside.
  2. Turn Instant Pot to Saute mode. Once hot, add oil. Pan sear chicken until slightly brown. Add the garlic and saute until brown. Pour in the sauce and top with sesame seeds. Cover the pot and select Manual, high pressure, for 8 minutes.
  3. When completed, turn to Quick Release. When all steam has released, remove cover and set pot to Saute mode, stirring until sauce thickens, 2 minutes.