Roasted Red and Yellow Pepper Pasta Salad

I love Japanese macaroni and potato salad. I love the sweetness of Japanese mayo, but I understand that for others it is overly sweet and cloying. Recently, I made a pasta salad that combined the two, because I did not have enough American mayo and I had a ton of leftover Japanese mayo from my foray with mentaiko.

After several heavy, greasy meals, my friends and I struck upon the idea of cold salad and I had my eye on Simply Recipes’ “lighter” macaroni salad. Although she uses a “generous” amount of mayo, it still pales against what some of the other recipes call for. It does not show up in the picture, but it is a pretty salad. The Japanese mayo has a slight orange-y tinge and it’s rather colorful with the green of the onions, yellow and red of the pepper, and stark white of the chopped egg.

We threw together a dinner of cheese, crackers, a chopped salad, and pasta salad with white wine, and finished with cherries. It was very delicious!

Easiest Light Pasta Salad

ADAPTED from Simply Recipes
NOTES: This is a super easy recipe if you have jarred roasted peppers, but it’s pretty simple to roast a pepper. You can do it in the oven or on the stove, but it’s a lot faster on the stove.

2 cups (about 1/2 lb) dry short pasta
1 hard boiled egg
1 roasted red or yellow pepper, or combination, you can reserve the rest for a sandwich or for snacking
1/4 cup chopped green onion or scallion
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar
1/3 to 1/2 cup of mayonnaise (I used slightly less than 1/3 cup and used a combination of tangy American mayo and sweeter Japanese mayo)
Several pinches of paprika
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Roast the pepper. I used half a red and half a yellow, and I set it directly on the burner and stand over the stove with a pair of tongs. I rotate the pepper every 30 seconds to a minute until I have a nice even char. Then you can let them steam their skins off in a folded over paper bag or a sealed plastic container. Once the peppers have cooled for 5 to 10 minutes, remove the skins. They should rub off and finely chop them, discarding the stem and seeds.

Boil the egg. I like to start off the egg in cold water, raise it to a rolling boil for a minute, and then cover and let it sit in the hot water for eight or nine minutes. The egg yolk with by fully cooked but still moist. Cool completely in water before removing the shell and dicing.

Cook pasta, as directed on its package, in salted water. When cooked through, but still slightly firm (al dente) remove from heat, drain and rinse with cool water until room temperature.

While macaroni is cooking, put chopped onions into a small bowl and sprinkle the lemon juice or vinegar over them. This will serve to take the edge off the onions.

Combine cooked pasta, onions, and all other ingredients in a large serving bowl. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Typhoon Sesame Chicken Wings

A lack of preparation is sometimes the mother of invention. A typhoon warning and a last minute trip to the grocery store landed me with three pounds of chicken but no hoisin sauce, cayenne pepper, or Sriracha sauce. Instead, pulling inspiration from a David Lebovitz recipe where he mixes soy sauce and red wine vinegar, I replaced half the hoisin sauce with rice vinegar for an extra Asian flair. The result deliciousness!

As further proof, it was eaten so quickly that I didn’t have time to snap a picture.

Sesame Chicken Wings

ADAPTED from Smitten Kitchen and David Lebovitz

3 pounds chicken wingettes or chicken wings
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon coarse or kosher salt, plus more to taste
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoons mild honey
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon of corn starch (optional)
Pinch of cayenne or dash of Sriracha or red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 scallion, finely chopped

Heat oven to 425°F/ 220C. Line a large shallow baking pan with foil.

Stir chicken together with garlic, salt, soy, vinegar, honey, sesame oil and cayenne or Sriracha until coated. Spread chicken and any sauce that fell to the bottom of the bowl out on the prepared baking pan in one layer. Roast, turning over once, until cooked through, about 35 minutes.

If you have extra sauce like I did, you can pour it into a sauce pan and reduce it like Deb does, or thicken it with a little corn starch.

Transfer wingettes to a large serving bowl* and toss with sesame seeds and scallion.

5 Meals in Bali

I recently visited my friend Heather in Bali, and it was wonderful. I ate a lot of delightful, delicious food and washed it down with the local Indonesian beer, Bintang. Although, I’m not big fan of beer, it was a super light-tasting beer with a smooth finish and no strong aftertaste. Over the course of my five day stay, I drank a total of like 4 bottles…and one of them was a big bottle! I lost count of how many coffees I had. Ten easy.

The fish (I’m not even a huge fan of fish) tasted fresh and delicious, and the food at the local warungs was inexpensive and just as yummy as the higher end stuff. I was also pleased to see veggies served with my meals, and plenty of gluten-free and vegan options. It was a hippie wonderland!

In other words, I’m not even a huge fan of sun shine, sea water, wind, other people (if I sound like a party pooper, that’s because I am), but Bali was amazing! And yea, there are like no street lamps, but you can also just sit outside in the pitch darkness and watch the stars. Onto the food…

1. Nasi Uduk on Sanur Beach

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Chocolate Dulce de Leche Tart

I bookmarked this Chocolate Dulce de Leche Tart when I started following David Lebovitz’s North American tour, but a small party was the final incentive to whip it together. I didn’t read the directions thoroughly so I was completely unaware that this tart takes nearly three hours to make when you add the resting and cooling times to the baking times.

Chocolate Dulce de Leche Tart

ADAPTED from David Lebovitz via Williams and Sonoma

NOTES I made this for a small get to together and got rave reviews. One of them wasn’t even a fan of chocolate and he ate my slice and his slice. However to my personal taste, I thought it was much too sweet and recommend using bittersweet rather than semisweet chocolate.

6 tablespoons (3 ounces/85 g) salted or unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup (35 g) powdered sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 cup (140 g) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (35 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon fleur de sel or other flaky sea salt

8 ounces (230 g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups (310 ml) whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, or 1 teaspoon dark rum
1 cup (240 g) dulce de leche
Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, for serving (optional)
Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling over the tart

To make the crust, beat the butter and powdered sugar until smooth. Add the yolk and mix until it’s fully incorporated.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and cocoa powder. Add them to the butter, mixing just until the dough comes together. Form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic, and let rest for 30 minutes at room temperature. My “trick” is to saran wrap the top of the bowl and invert it onto a plate. It will be very crumbly but in the half of the hour, the moisture will redistribute and the dough will be a dark rich brown, darker than the reddish color of the cocoa powder.

Use the heel of your hand to press the dough into a 9-inch (23-cm) tart, pressing the dough up the sides of the pan until it reaches the rim. Sprinkle the salt over the bottom of the dough and press it into the pastry. Put the pan in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line the chilled tart crust with aluminum foil and cover with a layer of pie weights, dried beans, or rice. Bake the tart shell for 15 minutes, remove the foil and weights, and then bake for 5 minutes more, until the tart shell is browned. Remove from the oven and decrease the oven temperature to 300°F (150°C).

While the tart is baking, make the chocolate filling. Melt the chocolate in a clean, dry bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Once melted, remove the bowl from the heat and set a fine-mesh strainer over the top.

Whisk the eggs in a bowl. Heat the milk in a saucepan, then gradually whisk the warm milk into the eggs. Scrape the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula, until it’s steamy and thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. (If it separates a bit, remove it from the heat, and whisk it vigorously to bring it back together.) You know it’s thickened enough when you’re able to dip the spatula in the custard and wipe a trail on the spatula with a finger. Pour the custard through the strainer into the chocolate. Add the vanilla and stir until smooth.

Spread the dulce de leche over the hot tart shell in an even layer, being careful as you spread to make sure you don’t break the flaky bottom of the tart. (If the dulce de leche is very thick, let it sit in the tart shell for a minute or so, to let the heat soften it, which will make it easier to spread.) Pour the chocolate custard over the dulce de leche, smooth the top, and add a generous sprinkling of flaky sea salt.

Bake the tart for 20 minutes, and then turn the heat off and leave the tart in the oven with the door closed to glide to a finish, 45 minutes. Don’t be afraid if it’s still very runny after the twenty minutes, it will firm up. Remove from the oven and let cool before serving. I popped it into the freezer for 20 minutes with no ill effects.

David Lebovitz recommends to serve the tart with softly whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, or just as is.

Cold Brew Coffee and Simple Syrup

cold brew coffee
This morning I woke up in a thin sheen of sweat, and knew it was time to switch from hot to cold coffee. If you haven’t tried it yet, I strongly suggest you try making your own cold brew coffee concentrate. You don’t even need a coffee maker, just a jar, a strainer, paper towels, and, of course, ground coffee and water. The result is a concentrated coffee with a smooth finish. It is less bitter and acidic than traditionally brewed coffee that’s allowed to come to room temperature, and best of all, it’s not water-y!
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Simple Toaster Oven Bakewell Tart

bakewell tart
Question of the day: Can you make a bakewell tart without a food processor? Yes! This is my third time making a bakewell tart, but it never survived long enough for pictures. Not until today!
Although it is a bit on the sweet side, I loved the flaky delicate crust. The only thing you need to watch out for is uneven browning. However, if it happens, rest assured, powdered sugar goes a long way. After taking a bite, one of my friends took my hand and shook it.
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Decadent Dulce de Leche Brownies

dulce de leche browniesThe brownie barrier is broken! Brownies have been one of my major sore points for years. A few weeks ago, I made Joe Pastry’s French Brownies with mixed success. The taste was great, but before a brief trip to the freezer, the texture was regrettably spongy. That’s what happens when you don’t have a hand mixer. But now I have tasted true success and I’m not going back.
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Easiest Dulce de Leche Recipe/ My Favorite Baking Supply Shop in Taipei

dulce de leche before and after
My first few months in Taipei were rough until I found a supply shop to feed my baking addiction. While I buy my flour from Costco, 全家烘焙原料性(quan2 jia1 hong1 bei4 yuan2 liao4 xing2) is where I get the bulk of my supplies.

The store is tiny and crammed full of shelves. They have a refrigerated section with premade pie shells, sugar cookie doughs, heavy cream, cream cheese, mascarpone, nuts, chocolate chips, and baking chips. I’ve noticed that their nut and chocolate supply isn’t consistent, but they have most baking staples.
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Easiest Rice Bowl: Updated College Classic

fried egg on rice
Not a recipe per se, but I haven’t written rapturously on the magic of eggs aka hot protein under five minutes. Lately I’ve been eating a lot of eggs, because it’s the easiest thing to make when you come home at nine or ten and are starving!

It’s faster than boiling pasta. Set a non-stick pan on the stove and heat with a drizzle of olive oil. Microwave some leftover rice. Fry the egg and sprinkle with salt before it’s set. While the egg is cooking, top the rice with kimchi and/or if you’re feeling very nostalgic a dash of soy sauce. Dump the egg on top and sprinkle with rice seasoning.

There you have it. Hot dinner in five minutes!

The Best Cream Scone Recipe

a pile of scones
Sometimes the oldies are the besties! Over the years, I’ve tried several scone recipes (Smitten Kitchen’s Dream Cream Scones, Sweet Savory Life, 101 Cookbooks), but I keep on returning to a hybrid recipe. I like a delicate scone with a very soft crumb, and I find that many recipes are too dense and rich for my taste.
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