I have loved being in the DC Gourmet Club for quite a few years. It always pushes me to learn new recipes and come up with amazing themes. What I'm terrible about is sharing and posting recipes after Gourmet Club is over with. The reason is because I need to sleep for a few days afterwards, and also dedicate time to all the things I neglected the week of Gourmet Club.
Since our month assigned was October, Jenna and I wanted to do something a little different, with a slight play on Halloween. We thought a murder mystery would be fun, and when we found one that was based around Miss America beauty pageant contestants, we were immediately sold! The only problem on my end was deciding what kind of food to serve. I couldn't think of anything that really went with the beauty pageant theme, so I decided to do some Asian recipes I've been dying to try, and add a few of my favorite dishes I love to make.
After a lot of pleading from the members of the group, I am writing down the recipes. I wish I have done this for all of my Gourmet Clubs in the past, because I often do a lot of research and testing, but then forget everything when I want to repeat it.
*Photos all by the amazing Elizabeth Moon!
Momofuku Pork Buns
(I've been making these for a couple of years now, ever since Niki and I had them at the original Momofuku basement restaurant in NYC. Rick LOVES them so much. I use a regular steamer in a large metal pan--you can also use the steamer on a rice cooker if yours has one.)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
4 1/4 cups bread flour
6 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons nonfat dry milk powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder, rounded
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup rendered pork fat, bacon fat or vegetable shortening, at room temperature
Cooked Pork Belly (I use a different recipe--below)
1 cup hoisin sauce (even David Chang uses bottled sauce)
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions (green and white parts)
2 thick Kirby cucumbers, cut into 1/8-inch-slices (Chang pickles them in salt & sugar but I like plain)
Stir together the yeast and 1 1/2 cups room temperature water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the flour, sugar, milk powder, salt, baking powder, baking soda and fat and mix on the lowest speed setting for 8 to 10 minutes. The dough should gather together into a ball on the hook. Lightly oil a large bowl and put the dough in it, turning it over to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with a dry kitchen towel and put it in a warm place and let the dough rise until it doubles in size, about 1 hour 15 minutes.
Punch the dough down and turn it out onto a clean work surface. Using a sharp knife, divide the dough in half, then divide each half into 5 equal pieces. Gently roll the pieces into logs, then cut each log into 5 pieces, making 50 pieces total. They should be about the size of a Ping-Pong ball and weigh about 25 grams each. Roll each piece into a ball and set them on baking sheets. Cover them loosely with plastic wrap and let them rise for 30 minutes. While they're rising, cut out fifty 4-inch squares of parchment paper.
After 30 minutes, use a rolling pin to roll each ball into a 4-inch-long oval. Brush lightly with vegetable oil, lay a chopstick horizontally across the center of the oval and fold the oval over onto itself to form a bun. Gently pull out the chopstick, leaving the bun folded, and transfer it to a square of parchment paper. Put it back under the plastic wrap and form the rest of the buns. Let the buns rest for 30 to 45 minutes: they will rise a little.
*There is a great video with David Chang on an episode of Martha Stewart you can watch to learn how to roll, shape and fold the dough.
Set up a steamer on top of the stove. Working in batches so you don’t crowd the steamer, steam the buns on the parchment squares for 10 minutes. Remove the parchment. You can use the buns immediately or allow them to cool completely, then put them in plastic freezer bags and freeze for up to 2 months. Reheat frozen buns in a stove top steamer for 2 to 3 minutes, until puffy, soft, and warmed all the way through. Freeze half the buns in airtight bags for another time.
Open a warm bun and spread about 2 teaspoons of hoisin sauce on the inside. Add 2 pieces of pork belly, then a couple slices of cucumber. (When ready to serve, I slice the pork belly and then char it with a blow torch. Definitely not necessary, but gives it a really great taste.) Add a scattering of scallions. Repeat with the remaining buns, and eat!
Chashu Pork Belly - justonecookbook.com
(A few years ago I was researching ramen recipes and landed on this website and found some favorite things. They have an incredible teriyaki sauce as well! I made this version of pork belly for that ramen a few years ago and now it's my go-to pork belly recipe.)
1 lb pork belly block
1 Negi/Long Green Onion (Sub: 1 leek or 2-3 green onions)
1 knob ginger
½ T. vegetable oil
½ cup soy sauce
1 cup water
⅓ cup sugar
Heat the oil in a cast iron skillet (or regular frying pan) over high heat. Sear the fat side down first, then flip over to sear all sides, which will take about 10 minutes.
While searing, put all the ingredients for seasonings in a heavy-bottom pot (or regular pot) that fits the Chashu. Add the Chashu and bring it to a boil, skimming the scum and foam. Then turn the heat to low/simmer.
Put an Otoshibuta (drop lid) on top to press the ingredient down and limit the evaporation. If you don’t have an Otoshibuta, you can make it with aluminum foil. (see how to make one on justonecookbook.com – which is my very favorite Japanese recipe blog). Simmer on low heat for next one-hour, rotating Chashu every 15 minutes (keep Otoshibuta on all times!).
After one hour, there is ½ inch liquid left in the pot. Now you have 2 options. Option 1: If you're serving right away, remove the Otoshibuta and further cook down the sauce on low heat until the sauce gets thicken and see the bottom of the pot when you draw a line with a spatula. Option 2 (recommended): Transfer the Chashu to a container or a bag with a little bit of cooking sauce and refrigerate overnight. Strain the leftover cooking sauce and refrigerate.
To serve, slice the Chashu into ¼ inch pieces. You can use a propane torch or broiler to sear the Chashu slices to enhance the flavor. If you kept the Chashu overnight and don't want to sear the Chashu, you can reheat it by soaking in the hot cooking sauce.
(I order the everywhere they offer them and they're always a favorite. I decided to finally make them and they couldn't be easier. There were a lot of fancy recipes, but I just did my own thing and loved them!)
crab meat (I used real king crab, but you can use imitation)
finely chopped green onion
Mix ingredients to taste (I didn't use a recipe, but there are plenty out there). Put a small amount in the wonton wrapper, wet the inside edges and fold as desired (I went for simplicity and just folded into a triangle). Fry in 360 degree oil until golden brown on each side. Drain on paper towel. Serve hot with a side of duck sauce or sweet chili sauce.
Shrimp Spring Rolls
(I have made my own Spring Rolls here and there for almost 20 years--ever since I first had them and wanted to discover how to make them. Now I just order them at Roll Play because it's so much easier. If you haven't been there, go NOW.)
rice paper rounds
julienned mango slices
rice noodles (soak in hot water, cool in cold water, and drain)
fried wonton wrapper strips
Wet the rice paper round. roll the carrots, cabbage and cucumber in a leaf of butter lettuce so it's easier to work with. Roll all other ingredients together and fold like a burrito. I recommend watching some of the great videos on instagram of rolling spring rolls, and practicing a lot. But, no matter how perfect they are when you are at home, when you throw a fancy dinner party, they will be hideous. But luckily, they will still taste amazing! Serve with a sweet chili sauce. Don't make them too far ahead or the rice paper will get too tough.
Chicken Tom Ka Soup (4 servings)
(I has this soup for the first time at Olivia Hart's wedding a couple of years ago, and have wanted to make it ever since. I finally used Gourmet Club as an excuse to ask Kristin Hartt for it. The recipe normally has mushrooms in it, but I saw that some recipes replace them with pumpkin. I thought it would be perfect for October, and it was a hit with my family and Gourmet Club. This recipe is definitely a keeper!)
2 cups homemade or canned chicken or veggie broth
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
7-8 thin slices of fresh ginger
1 stalk lemon grass, tough outer layers removed and tender inner stalk cut into bite-sized pieces and slightly pounded
12 kaffir lime leaves (very important-get from Asian store), slightly crushed
5-6 fresh Thai or 1 soprano chili, slightly pounded (I was very light on the peppers for mild spice level)
3 shallots, cut in half
1 t. salt
1 t. sugar
1/4 c. fish sauce
2 c. coconut cream and milk combined
2 c. bite-sized chicken, raw
1 c. bite-sized peeled pumpkin (I used Japanese kabocha), raw
2-3 T. fresh lime juice
1/3 c. cilantro, chopped
1 scallion, minced
chili sauce like siracha to taste
Bring broth to boil in large sauce pan. Add garlic, ginger, lemon grass, lime leaves, chilis, and shallots. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain broth and discard solids. (This is the step that I did a few days before and then stored broth to finish at the dinner--it worked so well and would freeze really nicely!)
Return broth to sauce pan and set over low heat. Add salt, sugar and fish sauce. Taste for a pleasing balance of salty and spicy. Add coconut cream and milk combined. When both simmers, add chicken and pumpkin. Increase heat to medium. When they are cooked, turn off heat (I think about 7-10 minutes). Taste and adjust seasoning and add siracha if desired.
Serve with lime juice, cilantro and scallion.
Spicy Thai Steak Salad
(I order this every time I go to a Thai restaurant, as it's my favorite on the menu. But it's so simple and when creating this menu, I thought surely it's easy to make. As much as I hate everything about fish sauce, it's a must with this salad. You can make the dressing ahead and keep it in the fridge up to 2 weeks.)
1 pound flank or strip steak broiled, grilled, or Sous-vide (what I used)
1 large head of butter lettuce, also known as Boston or Bibb, leaves torn into bite-size pieces
1 large head of romaine, torn into bite-size pieces
1/2 English cucumber, halved lengthwise and sliced
1/2 pint (120 g) cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 small red onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
Handful of fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
Large handful of fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup (60 ml) fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/4 red or green jalapeño, unseeded and thinly sliced crosswise, or more to taste
1 packed tablespoon light brown sugar
Cook steak as you prefer, cover in tin foil and let sit on counter to cool up to an hour.
In a large bowl, combine the lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, mint, and cilantro.
In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, fish sauce, garlic, jalapeños, and brown sugar. (Or, in a 12-ounce/180-ml or larger jar with a lid, combine the ingredients, cover, then shake vigorously.) Dip a piece of lettuce in the dressing and check the seasonings; add more jalapeños, if you like. The sauce should have a balance of hot, sweet, sour, and salty, which is typical of Thai foods.
Cut the meat against the grain into very thin slices and add to the bowl. Drizzle the salad with just enough Chile-Lime Sauce to lightly coat and gently toss together.
(I highly recommend Christina Toi's amazing book, All About Cakes, which has this recipe. You should only make this if you have 12 hours of free time, and you are slightly insane. If you are feeling extra ambitions, double all six of these recipes and then make 12 mini cakes instead of one large one. And then make another double batch of strawberry jam because you ate too much and need more to share with your friends.)
Nonstick baking spray
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1 1⁄4 cups sugar
1⁄4 cup packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1⁄2 cup buttermilk
1⁄2 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp. vanilla extact
1 1⁄2 cups cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
Heat the oven to 350°. Line an 8 x 12-inch baking sheet with parchment paper and then spray with nonstick baking spray. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, cream the butter with both of the sugars on medium-high speed for 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs, and continue mixing on medium-high speed for 3 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to low, and slowly drizzle in the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high, and beat until the batter doubles in volume and turns white, 6 minutes.
Reduce the mixer speed to low, add the flour, baking powder, and salt, and mix until just combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean, 28 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool completely. Wrap the pan in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
Pickled Strawberry Jam
(This is AMAZING and I've decided I'm always going to have some of this in my fridge to spread over hot buttered toast or English muffins.)
12 oz. strawberries, hulled
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. pectin
3⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. sherry wine vinegar
In a blender, puree the strawberries until smooth. In a small saucepan, whisk the sugar with pectin and 1⁄2 teaspoon of the salt. Scrape the strawberry purée into the saucepan along with both vinegars, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil over high heat, and then reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook the jam, stirring, until thickened and glossy, 10 minutes. Remove the jam from the heat and let cool completely. Spoon 5 tablespoons of the jam into a small bowl for the frosting, and refrigerate the remaining jam for up to 2 weeks.
Pickled Strawberry Frosting
1 1⁄2 tsp. white wine vinegar
8 tbsp. unsalted butter
1⁄4 cup confectioners' sugar
1⁄8 tsp. citric acid
For the pickled strawberry frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, cream the butter with the confectioners’ sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, 3 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir the reserved 5 tablespoons pickled strawberry jam with the remaining 1⁄4 teaspoon salt and the citric acid. On low speed, slowly pour in the jam and then beat until smooth and fluffy, 1 minute.
3⁄4 cup instant nonfat dry milk, such as Carnation
1⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. cornstarch
2 tbsp. sugar
1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
3 oz. white chocolate, melted
Heat the oven to 250°. In a medium bowl, whisk 1⁄2 cup of the dry milk with the flour, cornstarch, sugar, and salt. Add the butter and stir with spatula until the mixture forms small clusters. Spread the clusters onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake until dried and sandy, 20 minutes. Transfer the clusters to a rack and let cool completely.
Return the clusters to a bowl, break apart any that are larger than 1⁄2 inch in diameter, and then toss with the remaining 1⁄4 cup dry milk until evenly coated. Pour the white chocolate over the crumbs and toss with the spatula until evenly coated, tossing every 5 minutes until the chocolate is cooled completely and no longer sticky. Transfer the crumbs to a container and refrigerate for up to 1 week.
1⁄2 tsp. cornstarch
1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
2 tbsp. whole milk
1 large egg
1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
3⁄4 cup sugar
Heat the oven to 300° and line a 6-inch round cake pan with plastic wrap. In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch with the salt and then stir in the milk and egg until smooth. In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese on medium speed of a hand mixer until smooth and fluffy, 2 minutes. Add the sugar and continue mixing until fluffy, 2 minutes more. Add the cornstarch slurry, and beat until smooth and loose, 3 minutes.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until set at the edges, but not browned, and still loose in the center, 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool completely. Store the cheesecake in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
6 tbsp. sugar
5 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Finely grated zest from 2 lemons
3 large eggs
2 1⁄4 tsp. unflavored powdered gelatin
6 tbsp. chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
In a blender, blend the sugar with the lemon juice and zest until the sugar dissolves, 30 seconds. Add the eggs and blend on low speed until smooth and foamy, 15 seconds. Scrape the curd into a small saucepan and clean the blender.
Heat the curd over low, and cook, stirring, until thickened and it comes to a low boil, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir the gelatin with 2 tablespoons cold water and let stand for 5 minutes to soften the gelatin. Pour the lemon curd into the cleaned blender along with the softened gelatin, butter, and salt, and puree until smooth.
Scrape the curd through a fine sieve into a bowl and refrigerate until the curd is completely chilled, at least 1 hour. Refrigerate for up to 1 week.
To assemble the cake:
Unmold the vanilla cake from the pan and place on a cutting board. Using a 6-inch springform cake pan ring, cut out 2 full circles from the cake. Wash the ring and place it in the center of a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Fit a 32 inch-long sheet of parchment paper inside the ring to line it, and secure it closed with clear tape (the paper should stand 12 inches tall).
Break the cake scraps apart and place them inside the ring to completely cover the bottom, pressing to flatten them into an even layer. Using a pastry brush, brush 3⁄4 teaspoon of the lemon juice over the cake layer, and then spread half the pickled strawberry jam over the cake. Sprinkle with one-third of the milk crumbs, and press them into the jam to secure.
In a large bowl, whisk the cheesecake with the lemon curd until completely smooth. Spoon half of the lemon cheesecake over the milk crumbs and smooth the top. Place one of the full cake layers over the cheesecake layer and press gently to level. Brush the cake with the remaining 3⁄4 teaspoon lemon juice, and then repeat layering with the remaining pickled strawberry jam, half of the remaining milk crumbs, and the remaining lemon cheesecake, smoothing the top.
Place the remaining cake layer on top of the cheesecake and press gently to level. Spread the pickled strawberry frosting over the cake layer and smooth the top. Sprinkle with the remaining milk crumbs and then freeze the assembled cake for at least 12 hours to set the layers. Store the cake in the freezer until ready to serve, up to 2 weeks.
Remove the cake from the freezer, and remove the springform ring. Peel away and discard the parchment paper, and then transfer the cake to a serving plate or cake stand. Let the cake stand to defrost for at least 3 hours before slicing and serving.