June 22, 2011

Caramelized Chicken BBQ Wings

I have an unhealthy fixation with chicken wings. In spite of the mess (and maybe the savagery) associated with getting your hands dirty and tearing the wings apart to get all the meat, gnawing on the bone when you're too lazy to eat the wings properly (here's how) and how small it is compared to other cuts, there's something gratifying about biting into succulent, flavorful meat that underlies an often crispy exterior.

This recipe is from Appetite magazine's June '11 issue. I garnished it with sesame seeds (not roasted) and substituted banana catsup for tomato catsup so it was almost, almost cloyingly sweet. Was it still good? Let's put it this way: no matter what you do, it's hard to cook unpalatable wings unless you're a total dullard. Next time, though, I'm making it with tomato catsup, a little less sugar and chili flakes. To note, I also halved the recipe because you're really not going to use all the sauce up.

Recipe after the jump.

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June 06, 2011

Russian Tea Cookies

A few nights ago, I tried to make macarons without an electric mixer, like a fool. What should've taken me a few seconds with a mixer took half an hour by hand. I left it alone for a while (again, like a fool) and when I came back, humidity had done its job and the batter was soggy again.

Today, I made Russian tea cookies because that's one of the few things my woefully under-equipped kitchen can handle. When I started cooking and went to the department store to buy cooking and baking supplies, my mom shrieked when she saw my cart. She couldn't see why I would ever need rolling pins (I used bottles and cans to flatten food before) or understand the logic of buying a kitchen scale when we already had measuring cups. All efforts to convince her that volume =/= weight were futile. So until I save up for a mixer and a scale, I'm sticking to recipes that don't require newfangled appliances.

Russian tea cookies are perfect because they're so easy to make and require few ingredients. The hardest(?) part is creaming the butter; you don't even have to sift the flour. And somehow, even when you bastardize the recipe like I did, it still comes out great.

Aforementioned bastardization: I used buttermilk margarine instead of butter because it's cheaper and 1/2 cup ground almonds instead of a cup of chopped walnuts because I find walnuts prohibitively expensive (see the trend?). Apparently, you should use good quality butter, though. The cookies still came out great; I love how the first thing you taste is sweetness of the confectioner's sugar but the moment you bite into the cookie, the nutty flavor balances out the saccharine. You can find the original recipe here.

* Best eaten with tea, as the name implies (call me Captain Obvious).
** Also while watching Dr. Zhivago.
*** Fun fact! This is also known as a Mexican Wedding Cake! Because some Americans refused to mention Russia during the Cold War!

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June 03, 2011

Pommes Duchesse

It sounds like something a French monarch would eat, but it's actually just humble mashed potatoes piped into pretty shapes and baked. I don't know the origin of its name but I'm guessing some snooty chef just wanted to impress people with his culinary mumbo jumbo (you know, like those people who say "potentiality" instead of "potential"?). My take on this is subversive because I cheat. A lot, as you will see.

This is so simple that I don't think a recipe is necessary. But here are really vague instructions anyway! Make mashed potatoes -- you can do this the hard way, or the Janelle way! Instead of boiling it in salted water for 30 mins, I pricked holes all over the spuds, placed them in a Micromax and nuked them for 5 mins. Mash them like crazy and add lots of butter (it will help give a smoother texture) and a pinch of salt. Add an egg per two potatoes. You should also puree the mashed potatoes to make sure there are no chunks, as they can get stuck inside the piping tip.

But if you're very, very hungry like I was, you can go ahead and skip that. Just shape the potatoes into large-ish balls and use a cake decorator to decorate the sides. Mine isn't particularly pretty, but at that point, I was just so hungry that I wanted to put it in the oven and get it over with. For the more patient, pipe the pureed potatoes into spiral mounds with a star piping tip.

Before chucking it in the oven, brush the whole thing with egg wash. You can do this either by mixing egg yolk with 2 tbsps water or with 2 tbsps milk per yolk. Using water will give you a golden finish while using milk will give you a darker, browner finish. Bake at 375 degrees F or until the crust browns; be careful not to overbake.

PS. The brown flecks scattered all over the baking tray? Yup, crumbled bacon. Because everything tastes better with bacon.

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