Thank you for the amazing 8 years here at A Baked Creation, we can't thank you enough for the memories! But we've decided to move over to a new site - Sincerely, Syl. Please join us there for future posts on all the things you loved here!


Sunday, May 31, 2015

Vietnamese Braised Beef and Ice Cream Spring Rolls

It's been a wonderful food weekend. Sometimes, you bookmark a recipe that you just have to make as soon as possible. It happened twice this week! This is so rare that you'd think I'd win the lottery or something (which by the way, Lotto Max is still at a grand prize of 50 million with fifty 1 million prizes - come on ticket, just a measly million please).
The first one is from Steph's blog, i am a food blog, with her Vietnamese Braised Beef Taco post. If you know me, you know that I love tacos. Any given night if you ask me what I want to eat, it'll most likely be tacos (or sushi). So I went out and bought the 2 1/2 pounds of boneless chuck roast. Do you ever feel grown up going to the butcher? I do. I feel so much more like a cook when I get to unwrap the butcher paper and cut off the tied string. Or maybe I just like unwrapping presents.

Total aside and speaking of feeling like a grown up, I finally bought a new work bag. I've been alternating between my high school backpack and my weekend camera bag for my commute. But Howard finally said, enough is enough, and forced me to look professional. Thanks for looking out for me? Hahaha, it's a colour-blocked tote bag in light and dark camel. The best part is, the base is wide enough to fit my lunch box, which was my main criteria.
In other grown up news (geez, I'm all about growing up today), my maid of honour bought me an early wedding present last month and I used it for the first time today. Oh beautiful round cocotte, how I adore thee! I think I might like it more than my cast iron skillet, less oil splatter as I brown the meat.

So where are the tacos? Well, I did buy the tortillas, but at the last minute, I boiled some noodles to go with the Vietnamese braised beef. This way, I didn't waste any of that delicious juicy stew, the noodles soaked it all up and then it went in my belly. I hope you get a chance to try the recipe. It was quick and easy, just make sure you start in the afternoon and then let it braise until dinner time. You brown the meat, cook the onion, shallots, garlic, carrots, and tomatoes. Add the beef stock and then throw in more aromatics like star anise, cinnamon, five spice, bay leaves, and fish sauce. Then pop it in the oven for the flavour magic to happen.

Even though I took all the ingredients out, I forgot the brown sugar. It was sitting on the counter top and I was too lazy to take the cocotte out of the oven. But guess what? It came out tasty so I won't know what I'm really missing.
The second one is from Lady and Pups who posted Ice Cream-Spring Rolls with Ground Peanut Brittle. I've had this twice this weekend. Mainly because I have so much ground peanut brittle left over (am I not sprinkling enough on my ice cream?!?) and because it's freaking delicious. The crepes are so easy to make, it's only three ingredients! We have an assortment of green tea, mango, and red bean ice cream in the freezer - aren't those everyone's staples? Then we bought an assortment of mochi - green tea, strawberry, vanilla, and red bean.

The photo above is red bean everything - ice cream and mochi. Did you know that peanut brittle can be used for anything? Put it on fruit or try sprinkling it on savoury food. It should be the new condiment, sold with ketchup and mustard.

Peanut brittle.
Peanut brittle.
Peanut brittle.
Peanut brittle.
Peanut brittle.
Peanut brittle.
Peanut brittle.
Peanut brittle.
Peanut brittle.
Peanut brittle.

You know that scene in Chef where he makes ground brittle and splashes it over the dessert? I now appreciate the beauty of that scene even more.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Glazed Eggplant: Two Ways

Last night at the grocery store, Howard and I saw a stack of beautiful eggplants (also called aubergines). You know that feeling when you see something shiny and you want it? We saw the deep purple jewel sitting on the table and couldn't resist. Yeah, we get that feeling a lot, it's hard to stop impulse purchases. In this case, I was justifying it to Howard saying I had two eggplant recipes bookmarked at home.

And I did, they were both for glazed Japanese/Asian eggplants. Oops. But you know what? These recipes work for your standard eggplant as well. The great thing about the two recipes was that they both called for a preheated oven at 400°F (205°C).
First up, the miso sesame-glazed eggplant (page 138) from My New Roots. I thought it would be the glaze that would be different, but so was the baking technique! After halving and scoring the eggplant, I brushed it with olive oil (Sarah calls for coconut oil or melted ghee, which I sadly do not have). Then, place the eggplant with the cut side up on the sheet and bake for 25 minutes.
Oh my gosh! Isn't that amazing? The cut lines expanded the eggplant a bit, telling us it's ready for the glaze.
This glaze is easy to whip up, but first, my disclaimer! The original recipe is for two eggplants, but I only needed it for one, so I halved the ingredients and then ran out of measuring spoons and didn't have brown rice vinegar, so I eventually winged it. If you want the original instructions, you'll have to check the book! So back to the glaze, I used: 1 tablespoon of white miso, 1/2 tablespoon of white rice vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon of maple syrup, 1/2 tablespoon of tahini, and a sprinkle of white and black sesame seeds. Mix that all up and brush it on the eggplant. Set under the broiler for 3 minutes.
The second glaze recipe is from Seven Spoons. Tara instructs us to score the eggplant, brush the entire thing with sesame oil, place it face down on the sheet, and also bake it for 25 minutes. As a result, the eggplant doesn't have the expanded ridges, but there's more browning on the flesh portion.

To make this one, you need 1 tablespoon of mirin, 1/2 tablespoon of fruit juice, 1 tablespoon of white miso, 1/2 tablespoon of honey, and 1/2 tablespoon of sesame oil. There's an extra step, you place this all in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil for 2 minutes. Again, I halved the original recipe and substituted ingredients I didn't have on hand, so check the cookbook.

Then you flip the eggplant over, brush it with the glaze, and top it with sesame seeds. Again, under the broiler for 3 minutes. I also roasted some shallots alongside this one, it's the glazed eggplant with roasted shallots and greens from page 81.
So here they were! Easy to share on a baking sheet since the cooking times and temperatures were the same. I garnished Sarah's version with scallions (see above), and topped Tara's version with the roasted shallots (see below). Thank you Sarah and Tara for letting me justify buying the shiny purple eggplants and for the great meal we had.
I described it as eating eggplant crème brûlée to my friend. You can break the crunchy "caramel" glaze and then scoop the soft and creamy eggplant out. But then you have to go back and eat the outer layer as well, so cut it into pieces so enjoy everything in a bite.