Sunday, November 24, 2019

Okonomiyaki (Japanese Savory Cabbage Pancake)

I've been wanting to make okonomiyaki for a long time. I saw it on Pinterest ages ago and thought it looked amazingly delicious. 
Okonomiyaki is a Japanese savory cabbage pancake (okonomi - meaning "how you like" or "what you like", and yaki - meaning "cooked") and there are as many recipes for it as there are for Western pancakes. They are super simple, inexpensive, and easy to make. I hesitated to make them because I thought they would be tricky and fall apart easily. Nope. Not the case at all. 
Like most pancakes, these are best eaten when they are made BUT do work well reheating them in the following few days. Definitely make the sauces to go with them. Without the sauce they are pretty plain. The sauces make them irresistible. 
I made them as a side to go with our braised roasted duck dinner (Recipe HERE) but they work on their own for breakfast or just as a snack!


Okonomiyaki Sauce
6 Tbsp ketchup
2 Tbsp Worcestershire
2 1/2 Tbsp coconut aminos (or tamari)

Wasabi Mayo
1/2 cup mayo
1 Tbsp wasabi powder
1 tsp wasabi paste
2 tsp lemon juice

1 cup flour
pinch salt
1 cup chicken broth
1 egg
1/4 head of medium cabbage, cut into thin strips
1/4 cup onion, diced
2 green onion, diced

1 - 2 Tbsp sesame oil for frying

green onions, diced
seaweed snacks, crumbled

Prepare sauces - For the okonomiyaki sauce: whisk together the ketchup, Worcestershire, and coconut aminos (tamari) until smooth. Place in a small container and leave in fridge until ready to use. Can be prepared a few days ahead of time as it keeps well in the fridge.
For the wasabi mayo: whisk together mayo, wasabi powder, wasabi paste, and lemon juice until smooth. Place in a small container and leave in fridge until ready to use. Can be prepared a few days ahead of time as it keeps well in the fridge. 
Prepare pancakes - place the cabbage and onions in a large bowl. 

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, chicken broth, and egg until smooth.
Stir in the cabbage and onion until well mixed.

Scoop a generous amount (about 1/3 to 1/2 cup) onto a hot skillet drizzled with sesame oil. Use your flipper to shape the pancakes into circles as best you can. 

Cook until bottom is browned and pancakes are sticking together, about 4 minutes. Turn down your heat if they are browning too fast. Carefully flip the pancakes over and cook the other side for another 3 - 4 minutes.

Remove from heat, set aside and keep warm while you continue cooking the rest of the batter. (I believe I got 8 pancakes)

Serve hot, drizzled with a spoonful or two of the okonomiyaki sauce and wasabi mayo. Sprinkle with green onions and seaweed.

They keep well, covered, in the fridge for 2 - 3 days. Reheat the leftovers in a frying pan drizzled with a little sesame oil over medium heat. 
NOTE - You could shred the cabbage if you want it finer than the thin slices... just watch your cooking time because you want the pancakes to retain that cabbage crunchiness and not become soggy! 
NOTE - I used coconut aminos in the okonomiyaki sauce as that is what I had on hand. You could use tamari instead. You could even use soy sauce but I would go with 2 Tbsp instead of 2 1/2 as it is thinner in consistency. 
NOTE - you can make these smaller or bigger, as you like. They are very forgiving! 
NOTE - I actually meant to throw some cooked bacon in the batter but didn't have any on hand. Do it! It's delicious. 
Cabbage pancakes don't exactly sound like the most delicious things out there but I bet they will surprise you! So good. So different. So flavorful. So quick and easy! 

Friday, November 22, 2019

Roasted Braised Duck With Duck Gravy

What's your favorite way to cook duck? This is definitely mine. Moist, tender, not at all greasy, and so full of flavor. To be fair.... I've only cooked duck one time before so there may be another style of cooking duck that will become my fav in the future. For now though... THIS. This is the way to go. 
Searing the duck, then braising it, and then roasting it... whaat whaaat!!  Amazing. 
(I also then used the carcass and leftovers to make the BEST duck noodle soup in the universe. Check out that recipe HERE!) 
My flavor profile was inspired by Peking Duck. All those wonderful Asian flavors pair so well with the fattier duck meat. I will be making this again when our local grocery store gets more duck in. Unfortunately living in a small town that opportunity doesn't come up very often! That's okay though. It just means it stays a special treat! Let us know if you give this a try! We'd love to hear what you think.

Roasted Braised Duck

1 4 or 5 lb duck
1 Tbsp sesame oil
2 tsp ginger paste (or 5 slices fresh ginger)
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp honey
1/2 cup Chinese cooking wine
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 Tbsp rice vinegar
3 bay leaves
1/4 tsp pepper
dried peel from one orange
1 (946 ml) carton Campbell's Pho broth (or chicken) 

Honey Water
1 tsp honey
1 tsp hot water

Duck  Sauce (Gravy)
liquid from simmering duck
2 - 3 Tbsp cornstarch

Rinse the duck and pat it dry. Remove any innards, if you haven't already. 
Heat the sesame oil in a large wok. Place the duck, breast side down into the hot oil and let it brown. Spoon the oil over the parts of the duck not touching the oil. (Note - You will end up with more oil than you started with!) 

Once browned, remove the wok from the heat and set aside.
In a large pot (large enough to hold the duck), over medium heat, add 2 Tbsp of fat from the wok. Cook the ginger and garlic for 1 minute. Stir in the honey until it is melted. 
Add in cooking wine, soy sauce, rice vinegar,  bay leaves, pepper, and and orange peel. Bring to a boil.

Stir in the pho broth and then set the duck in the pan. The liquid should come up at least half way on the duck. Add a bit more water if necessary. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. 

Simmer the duck for one hour, flipping the bird over every 15 minutes to ensure even cooking. 
After an hour, preheat the oven to 425. Carefully lift the duck out and drain any liquid from the cavity. Place duck, breast side up, on a wire rack placed on a cookie sheet. 

Brush the duck with the honey water. 
Roast the duck at 425 for about 15 minutes, until skin is crispy and golden brown. 

Remove from the oven and let rest 10 minutes before carving. 
While bird is resting, prepare the sauce.
Drain the simmering liquid through a sieve into another pot. Place pot over medium heat. In a small bowl, whisk together about 1/3 cup of the liquid and 2 Tbsp cornstarch. Stir this back into the pot of liquid. Bring to a boil and let thicken. If it is not thickening very much then repeat the above step with one more Tbsp of cornstarch. It should be the consistency of a thin gravy. Not too thick! 
Serve hot.

We had ours with rice (perfect for that rich duck sauce!) and okonomiyaki (a Japanese savory cabbage pancake - check back soon for that recipe!) 

Save any leftovers to make our yummy Duck Noodle Soup (recipe HERE)  

The Duck Sauce goes well with everything, BTW. I made poutine with it and just about died it was so good. Not even lying. You'll want to save every drop of it! 
I should have made duck poutine. Well. Now I have to get another duck because that needs to happen. 
Not sure how to cook that duck in your freezer? Give this recipe a try. The braising seems to release all of the greasiness that I find usually accompanies duck meat. This wasn't greasy at all. 
FYI -  use a meat thermometer to make sure you cook your duck to the proper temperature! 

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Duck Noodle Soup

Am I the only one who finds "Duck Soup" funny. I don't know why. I just enjoy saying it. It makes me smile every time. 
We are not big duck eaters around our house. I can count on one hand the number of times we have had it in my lifetime. Normally I find it quite greasy and fatty. Such is the nature of duck meat. 
But this time, I made a Peking inspired braised roast duck (check back soon for that recipe!) for dinner and it was not at all greasy or fatty. I think braising it really helped! I was going to share the recipe for the duck first but have decided to switch things up and share the soup I made the following day first. 
Everyone loved this soup! Making the duck stock from scratch is definitely the way to go. It takes a little time but you will not regret it! Make the broth ahead of time and keep it in the fridge until you are ready to make the soup; that cuts down on soup prep time on the day of!

Duck Noodle Soup

Duck Stock
1 duck carcass
1/8 cabbage, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
1 tsp red pepper flakes
salt & pepper
pinch granulated garlic

2 Tbsp sesame oil
3 medium bok choy, chopped
3 medium baby bok choy, chopped
1/2 cup sliced onion
1/8 cabbage, sliced thin
2 cups cooked duck, chopped
1 recipe for Duck Stock (Above)
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp fish sauce
about 4 cups Campbells Pho Broth (or chicken)
1 - 2 servings spaghetttini noodles, broken in half

green onion

Prepare stock - Place duck carcass in a large pot.

Throw in the cabbage, onion, carrots, and spices. Add in enough water to cover the duck - almost to the top of the pot.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until reduced by about 1/3. (About 3 hours.) When reduced, pour the stock through a strainer into a bowl. Discard the carcass and veggies. Place stock in fridge until ready to use. NOTE - I like to chill it completely overnight so you can scrape off any fat that solidifies on top! 
To Make Soup - In a large pot: drizzle in the sesame oil and cook the bok choy, onion, and cabbage until wilted. Add in the duck and stir well. 

Pour in the duck stock in and let heat through. (It can be a little gelatinous at first so let it thin). Add in the red pepper flakes and fish sauce. Add in enough of the pho broth to cover everything well. 
Add in the spaghettini - but don't add too much because you don't want it to soak up too much of the broth. I usually do one serving and then see if it looks like it needs more. It's going to depend on how much liquid is in your pot. When it comes to the noodles, less is more in this case. 

Let simmer until the noodles are done - about 10 - 15 minutes. Spoon into bowls and serve immediately. 

Sprinkle with a few diced green onion, if desired. 

One of the best soups I have ever eaten. So much flavor in the broth! Our mom said, "It's worth it buying another duck just to make the soup!". I can't disagree with that. This is best eaten fresh because the noodles will continue to soak up more of the broth as it sits. That being said - reheating the leftovers the next day are delicious, just a bit less broth-y. 
Making the stock takes a few hours of simmering but making the soup only takes about half an hour. The stock will sit in the fridge for a while (I'd say a week or more) so make it up ahead of time and whip up the soup when you are ready! 

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Herb and Garlic Croissant Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

To make this amazing, best-in-the-world grilled cheese you're going to have to put in some work. 
First you have to make the herb and garlic croissants. Croissants take 2 days of fussing. 
Still with us? Okay. Good. 
Until you have had a grilled cheese with bacon and tomato on a homemade croissant you have not truly lived. For real though. It'll change your life. 
Or.... maybe not.... but, really.... can you chance it? Take the risk. Make the croissants. Make the grilled cheese. Live your best life. 
We believe in you. 

Herb And Garlic Croissants

1/2 cup warm water
4 tsp active dry yeast
3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup lukewarm milk

Herb & Garlic Butter
1 1/2 cups butter, room temp
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp dried parsley (or 3 Tbsp fresh)

Egg Wash
1 egg yolk
1 Tbsp milk

Prepare Herb & Garlic Butter - beat together butter, garlic, and parsley until well mixed. 

Spread your butter into a 6 X 8 1/2 rectangle. I find it is easiest if I cut out a piece of paper to 6 X 8 1/2 and then a piece of plastic wrap over top, and then spread the butter on the plastic wrap to cover the paper. 

Chill in fridge while you prepare the dough. (NOTE - you want butter to be firm before proceeding with it.)
Prepare dough - Stir together the warm water and yeast. Let sit 5 minutes to activate. 
In a large bowl, stir together flour, brown sugar, and salt. Stir in the lukewarm milk and yeast mixture. Stir until dough comes together. Add more flour, a Tbsp at a time if the dough is very sticky. Turn onto a floured work surface and knead 4 minutes. Cover and let rest 15 minutes. 
After resting, roll out to a 10 X 9 rectangle, cover with plastic wrap, and chill dough for 30 minutes. 
After chilling for 30 minutes - place dough on lightly floured work surface and roll to a 10 X 15 rectangle. Place the chilled butter on top, in the center.
Fold the dough over the butter, to meet in the middle. Pinch the seems to seal. 

Flip the dough over so seam is on the bottom. Roll the dough to a 10 X 15 rectangle (about 1/4 inch thick). Fold dough in 3 with the top covering the bottom fold. 

Cover and place in the fridge for at least an hour, up to 4 hours. Do this 3 more times for a total of 4 "turns". (Always start your roll with the short end towards you.) On your last turn, cover well in plastic wrap and set in fridge to chill overnight. 
In the morning, on a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough to a 13 X 25 rectangle (about 1/4 inch thick). Cut into 5 - 5 inch wide strips. then cut each strip into 2 triangles. (See photo for clarification.) 

Make a small cut in the wide part of each triangle. Start at the wide end and roll up each triangle. 

Place on a cookie tray lined with parchment paper. Continue with remaining triangles. 

Cover and place somewhere a little bit warm. I like to turn the oven on to 400 and set the tray on top. 
Cover with a clean tea towel and let proof for an hour. You don't want them in a place that is too warm or the butter will start to melt and you don't want that!
After they have risen for an hour, prepare the egg wash by whisking together the egg yolk and milk. Brush on each croissant using a pastry or basting brush. 

Place in a 400 degree oven and bake for about 15 - 20 minutes - until tops are a deep golden brown. 

Let cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes and then move to wire rack.

You could enjoy them like this, of course. They are so garlicy and crunchy and flaky that they are hard to resist. With a bowl of tomato soup? Don't even get me started!
Oooooor.... you could carry on to making the best grilled cheese you've ever had.

Grilled Cheese Croissants

Herb & Garlic Croissants (recipe above)
aged cheese, sliced
tomato, sliced
onion, sliced
bacon, cooked 

When the croissants have cooled (day old croissants work very well for this too FYI), preheat your oven to 350 and then cut each croissant in half horizontally with a serrated knife. On the bottom of the croissant top with a little butter, some aged cheddar, a slice of onion, several slices of tomato, and at least 2 pieces of cooked bacon. Place on a cookie tray lined with parchment paper. (I used my toaster oven that is why the cookie sheet is so tiny. You can use a regular oven and cookie sheet for this!) 

Place the top of the croissant on the bacon and press down firmly to make sure everything is in place.

Place a second cookie sheet on top of the croissants. You want to press them while they are baking without completely squishing them. (See photo for clarification.) 

Place in a preheated 350 oven and bake until cheese is melty, about 10 - 15 minutes (a little less in a toaster oven, just keep an eye on them). 

Remove from oven, let cool 5 minutes, and then serve!

They're basically art. 

I'm not the world's leading expert on grilled cheese or anything.... but I'm pretty sure these are the best grilled cheese on the planet. A crispy, flaky, tender, chewy, garlicy croissant filled with melty cheese, crispy bacon, onion, and fresh tomato - you look me in the eye and tell me it's not the best thing ever. I double dare you. 
Side note - if you've never made croissants before I definitely recommend watching a few how-to videos on you-tube or Pinterest to get a feel for the process. It can be intimidating but once you get the gist of it, it's totally doable. 

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Make Ahead Big Batch Buttermilk Belgian Waffles

Waffles are one of the best breakfasts EVER. I'm going to risk the backlash and say, perhaps even better than pancakes. All those little pockets that hold extra syrup (and peanut butter) make them irresistible. The only thing about them is they can be kind of a pain in the butt to make for breakfast. They are a little messy and time consuming when you just want to get your day started. 
Here's the thing.... we've solved that problem so now you can have waffles at the drop of a hat any time you want them. (Helloooo breakfast for dinner!)
You're welcome. 

Make Ahead Big Batch Buttermilk Belgian Waffles

6 cups flour
1 tsp salt
4 1/2 Tbsp sugar
4 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 1/4 tsp baking soda
6 cups buttermilk
6 eggs
3/4 cup butter, melted
1 Tbsp vanilla

Also Needed
Melted butter for brushing on waffle iron

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda. In a smaller bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined and no flour streaks remain. 

Let sit while your waffle iron heats up. When the iron is ready, brush with melted butter. 
Scoop enough batter to cover the bottom of the waffle iron, spreading as necessary so it is not too thick - about 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup. Cook in waffle iron until just lightly golden. (NOTE - only cook to light golden if you are preparing them for use later. If you are eating them right away then cook to a bit deeper brown!) Remove from the waffle iron and place on wire racks to cool.

Continue with remaining batter. I always get between 12 and 13 Belgian waffles. 

When they are cool you can wrap them individually in plastic wrap and freeze them (or place them all in a large Tupperware-type container that is air tight). 
When ready to eat: remove a waffle from the freezer and unwrap. Place in microwave for 1 minute (until just thawed) and then place in toaster to crisp up. NOTE - you can also thaw them at room temp and place on a griddle to crisp up)
Top with your favorite toppings! (Pictured here: warm apricot puree with whipped cream)

Pictured below: warm apple pie compote with whipped cream.

12 giant Belgian waffles that you can eat whenever you like! What's not to love?
I cook them a bit longer if we are eating them straight off the waffle iron but leave them a little softer if I am going to be re-heating. You could use these to make regular style waffles but I'm not sure how many you would get.  Instead of 12 maybe 18 or so? If you do try it please let us know!