Peanut Butter and Jelly Tart

Peanut Tart Crust (Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated cookie recipe)

2.5 oz of roasted unsalted peanuts
3/8 cup (1.9 oz) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup (2.3 oz) creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup (3.5 ounces) granulated sugar
1 egg yolk

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in bowl. Pulse peanuts in food processor until finely chopped, about 8 pulses and then dump into bowl with flour.   In the food processor process the sugar for several minutes or until very fine. With the motor running, add the butter. Add the peanut butter and process until smooth and creamy, about 10 seconds. With the motor running, add the egg yolk and process until incorporated. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the flour mixture and pulse just until incorporated.  Press or roll into tart or pie pan and dock tart with fork before freezing for 30 minutes.  Fill with pie weights.  Bake for 30 minutes, remove weights and bake until entire crust is dark brown and crispy.


Peanut Butter Mousse and Jam Filling (PB Mousse from Rose Beranbaum)

7 tablespoons (4 oz) cream cheese
1/2 cup (4.6 oz) peanut butter
1/4 cup (1.75 oz) granulated sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup (6 oz) heavy cream, softly whipped

In the bowl of a standing mixer, preferably fit with the whisk beater, beat the cream cheese, peanut butter, salt and sugar just until the mixture is uniform in color. Reduce the speed to low and add the vanilla. Beat in 1/4 cup of the whipped cream just until it is incorporated. With a large rubber spatula, fold in the rest of the whipped cream, mixing until the mixture is well blended but still airy.

Scrape the mousse into the sweet peanut butter cookie tart crust and smooth the surface so that it is level.  Refrigerate the tart for an hour.

1 cup (10 oz) of raspberry or strawberry jam
4 tsp of lime or lemon juice or to taste
1/8 tsp of salt

Whisk all ingredients together to loosen the jam up.  Spread over firmed peanut butter mousse filling.



Sour Orange Cheesecake with Orange Curd and Gingersnap Crust

After a failed attempt at a lime cream pie and the lingering memories of Cook’s Country Sour Orange Pie, I wanted to do something orange again.  I also had some really terrible cheesecake from a supermarket that spurred me to try my hand.  I don’t normally make cheesecakes or remember them fondly.  However, I need to decide if that is because most places can’t make a cheesecake worth eating or if it’s generally not my style.  I don’t really like cream cheese and I don’t really like crumb crusts because they aren’t crisp like a pie or tart crust and thus provide no textural contrast.  So cheesecake has its work cut for it.

Here I am stealing a page from Cook’s Illustrated’s lemon cheesecake and trying a technique where I literally just bake a cookie as the crust.  Considering that tart shells are almost identical to shortbread cookies, I think this will work out.  Fingers crossed.

Gingersnap Cookie Crust
6.25oz all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon pepper
4.375 oz dark brown sugar
2 tbsp molasses
1 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
1 large egg yolk

Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.  Brown butter in large saucepan, remove from heat and whisk in spices .  Let cool for 2 minutes then whisk in brown sugar, molasses and fresh ginger.  Finally whisk in egg yolk.  Dump in dry ingredients and whisk until just combined.

Prepare a 9-in springform pan and pat cookie dough into bottom of pan.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour while you preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  When ready to proceed, bake crust for 20 to 25 minutes until cookie is set and edges are darkening.  Remove from oven and turn oven down to 250.

Sour Orange Filling
10.5 oz sugar
2 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp orange zest
6 tbsp orange juice concentrate
6 tbsp lemon juice
1½ pounds cream cheese, cut into 1-inch chunks, room temperature
4 large eggs, room temperature
¼ teaspoon salt

In the bowl of a food processor, process zest and sugar until zest is very fine.

Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat cream cheese on low speed until broken up and slightly softened, about 5 seconds. With mixer running, add 7 oz of sugar/zest mixture in slow, steady stream; increase speed to medium and continue to beat until mixture is creamy and smooth, about 3 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed. Reduce speed to medium-low and beat in eggs, two at a time, until incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping down bowl well after each addition. Add lemon juice and OJ concentrate and salt and mix until just incorporated, about 5 seconds. Give filling final stir by hand.

Pour into crust, cover tightly with foil and bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour, remove foil and bake for another 30 to 45 minutes until center is 150 degrees and edges are set and the cake has a faint jiggle.  Cool completely on wire rack before transferring to fridge for 2 hours.

Sour Orange Curd
3.5 oz sugar/zest mixture from filling
3 tbsp orange juice concentrate
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 eggs and 1 yolk
3 tbsp butter
1/8 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients except butter in a saucepan and cook over medium heat whisking frequently until mixture reaches 170 degrees.  Whisk in butter.  Let cool before spreading on top of refrigerated cake.  Return cake to fridge for 2 hours before serving.

Miso Liver Catfish Curry

There is an anime called Food Wars (Shokugeki no Soma) that is about a young man entering a prestigious and very competitive culinary school.  It’s ridiculous and over the top and not always in a good way.  But the food usually makes sense and looks good and there are some novel ideas in there.  One such dish was a curried version of a Japanese fisherman stew, dobujiru, which literally translates as soup of the ditch.  This is typically made with angelfish or monkfish and features a strong liver taste.

Now I don’t have access to monkfish or angelfish and definitely not their livers and when I think of curry I think of something completely different than the Japanese.  As such here is my interpretation with a more Malaysian bent using catfish.

Curry Paste:

1 tbsp coriander seeds, ground
1 tsp cumin seeds, ground
1 tsp fennel seeds, ground
1 tsp black peppercorns, ground
1 tbsp turmeric powder
5 or 6 dried puya chiles
25g garlic, roughly chopped
25g peeled ginger, roughly chopped
100g shallot, roughly chopped
2 lemongrass stalk, core roughly chopped
1/2 tbsp of shrimp paste

Process in a food process or pound in a mortar and pestle into paste.

To finish:
2 lbs of catfish steaks
6 oz of chicken liver
1 14-oz can of coconut milk
4 tbsp mixture of red or white miso
1 tbsp of palm sugar
2 tbsp of tamarind water
Fish sauce, sugar, lime for additional seasoning
cilantro for garnish

Heat a couple tbsp of oil over medium high heat in a large skillet.  Once shimmering, add chicken livers and sear until well browned all over.  Remove livers from skillet and turn heat down to medium.  Blend or process livers, coconut milk, miso, sugar and tamarind water together.  Add curry paste and cook for about 4-5 minutes until very aromatic and then add coconut/liver mixture to skillet and mix with paste.  Bring contents of skillet to a simmer and then add catfish steaks and cover.  Steam for about 10 minutes, flipping once.  Remove from heat and serve.


My Yu Xiang Qie Zi

A good Sichuan yu xiang eggplant dish is one of my favorite vegetable dishes and I love vegetables.  Here is my home version that does not require deep frying.  Deep fried eggplant is amazing, but it is a pain the butt to clean up along with how unhealthy oil soaked eggplant is.  It is cobbled together from various recipes and techniques I have tried, though in the end is quite similar to the Serious Eats version.

I use sambal oelek here instead of Sichuan pickled chili paste.  I have an expansive Asian pantry, but even I have to economize on things.  I only stock Vietnamese fish sauce and shrimp sauce, for instance, and sambal fills my pickled chili slot.

1 1/2 pounds Chinese or Japanese or globe eggplants, cut into 2 inch batons
2 tbsp sambal oelek or other pickled chili paste
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tablespoon Zhenjiang vinegar
1 tsp of sesame oil
1/2 tbsp cornstarch
4 tsp minced fresh ginger
4 tsp minced garlic
4 scallions, whites thinly sliced, greens cut into 1/3-inch segments
2 tablespoons doubanjiang

Line entire surface of large microwave-safe dish with paper towels Spread eggplant in even layer.  Microwave on high power until eggplant feels dry, about 10 minutes, flipping halfway through to dry sides evenly.  Dry eggplant thoroughly.

Combine ginger, garlic and scallion whites with 1 tbsp of oil in a small bowl.  In a separate bowl, combine all ingredients from the sambal to the cornstarch and mix until homogenized.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add eggplant in even layer and cook, tossing or stirring occasionally, until pieces are charred on most sides, 5 to 7 minutes.

Push eggplant to the side and aromatics to the center of the skillet and stir fry for 30 seconds.  Add doubanjiang and cook for 30 seconds with aromatics.  Toss everything in skillet together and then scrape sauce into skillet.  Simmer for about 3 minutes, adding water as necessary if sauce becomes too thick.  Finally add scallion greens and give one final toss before transferring to a serving platter.

Simple Key Lime Pie

I recently made the Sour Orange Pie from Cook’s Country magazine which is like a key lime pie but with sour oranges.  My wife and I loved it and she normally doesn’t enjoy these custard pies and thinks I like things too tart.  As such I told her I would make a very basic key lime pie for her, not too tart, and see if she enjoyed it.

Key Lime Filling:
1 can of sweetened condensed milk (14 oz)
5 egg yolks
1/2 c + 1 Tbsp or 4.5 oz of lime juice (5 limes)
4 tsp lime zest

Whisk all ingredients together thoroughly and let sit while you make crust.

Graham Cracker Nut Crust (from Pie and Pastry Bible):

9 double graham crackers
1/2 c or 1.75 oz of pecans
3 Tbsp of sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
generous pinch of salt
4 Tbsp of melted butter

In a food processor pulse everything but the butter until you are left with fine crumbs.  Sprinkle the melted butter over the crumbs and pulse 5 to 10 times to incorporate.  Press into glass pie plate (do not use a metal plate for tart desserts as a general rule).  Bake 15 minutes in a 325 degree oven or until starting to brown.  Let cool for only a few minutes.

Now poor filling into crust and bake for 17-20 minutes or center is firm but jiggly.






Sheng Jian Bao

My wife has a craving for this hard-to-find Shanghai bun snack, so this weekend’s project is to make some.


1½ teaspoons rapid-rise (instant) dry yeast
¾ cup lukewarm water or milk
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
12½ ounces (2½ cups) bleached or unbleached all-purpose flour
1. Put the yeast in a small bowl, add the water, and set aside for 1 minute to soften. Whisk in the oil to blend and dissolve the yeast. Set aside.

2. To make the dough in a food processor, combine the sugar, baking powder, and flour in the work bowl. Pulse two or three times to combine. With the motor on, pour the yeast mixture through the feed tube in a steady stream and allow the machine to continue running, for about 20 seconds, or until the dough starts coming together into a ball. (If this doesn’t happen, add lukewarm water by the teaspoon.) Let the machine continue for 45 to 60 seconds to knead most of the dough into a large ball that cleans the sides of the bowl; expect some dangling bits. Press on the finished dough; it should feel medium-soft and tacky but should not stick to your finger.

3. Lightly oil a clean bowl and add the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and put in a warm, draft-free place (for example, in an oven with the light on) to rise for about 45 minutes, or until nearly doubled. The dough is now ready to use.


1 pound finely minced Napa cabbage (about 1/2 a medium head)
1 pound ground pork shoulder
1 tsp white pepper
1 tbsp minced fresh garlic (about 3 medium cloves)
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
4 scallions, chopped
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp of Shaoxing wine
1 tbsp of oyster sauce
1.5 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp of light soy
4 oz of jelled stock (store chicken stock with 1 Tbsp of gelatin mixed in)
Soy sauce to taste

1. While dough rests,
scrape any excess dough from now-empty processor
bowl and blade. Pulse cabbage in processor until finely
chopped, 8 to 10 pulses. Transfer cabbage to medium
bowl and stir in 1 teaspoon salt; let sit for 10-30 minutes.
Using your hands, squeeze excess moisture from
cabbage. Transfer cabbage to small bowl and set aside.

2. Pulse pork, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, 1 tablespoon
vegetable oil, rice wine, oyster sauce and pepper in now-empty food processor until
blended and slightly sticky, about 10 pulses. Scatter
cabbage over pork mixture. Add scallions and stock and
pulse until vegetables are evenly distributed, about
8 pulses. Transfer pork mixture to small bowl and,
using rubber spatula, smooth surface. Cover with
plastic and refrigerate.

Dakdoritang, Korean Chicken Stew

Everybody has a chicken stew.  Koreans even have two!  This is a spicy gochujang based one, but they obviously have a sweet soy chicken stew too.  After all there are really only two flavors in Korean food, spicy gochujang/gochukaru and sweet soy.

This follows the same rules as my other chicken stews.

2-3 lbs of chicken thighs, drumsticks or leg quarters, remove skin and bones if preferred
1 large onion, diced
5 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 tbsp of peeled ginger, thinly sliced
1 tbsp of shrimp paste, optional
3 tbsp of gochujang
1 tbsp of doubanjiang or an additional tbsp of gochujang
1 tbsp of gochugaru or more to taste
3 cups of chicken stock or kombu/anchovy stock
1/4 cup of soy sauce
1 tbsp of honey or more to taste
2 small russet potatoes, about 1.25 lbs, in large chunks
12 oz of carrots in large chunks
handful of spring onions cut into 1-2 inch pieces

Preheat oven to 325 F

1. Saute onion, garlic and ginger in some oil until softened.  Then add gochujang, doubanjiang and gouchgaru and stir fry for a minute or two.

2. Add chicken stock, soy sauce and honey and bring to a simmer.  Then add potatoes and carrots and return to a simmer.  Place in oven uncovered for 30 minutes.

3.  Remove pot from oven and put over high heat on stove.  Add chicken to pot, return to a simmer and then return to oven for 30 minutes.

4. Add spring onions to pot and return to oven for another 15 minutes.

5. Remove from oven and simmer on stovetop if vegetables are not tender enough.  Season with additional soy sauce, honey or gochugaru and sesame oil.