Plated Meal: Peruvian Lomo Saltado Steak Stir-Fry with Potatoes & Mexican Hot Chocolate Pudding

We had an issue.  There were too many tasty meals on Plated.com this week, so we had a midweek delivery!  Not common for us.

The Ingredients

The Cooking

There were a lot of vegetables to cut up.  The potatoes were fairly small and didn’t take long, but those bell peppers were HUGE!  The potatoes were boiled first, then stir-fried with the other vegetables, which was interesting-I’ve never stir-fried potatoes before.  The quantity of vegetables was such that it barely fit (heaping) in my largest skillet.  If I were going to do this again (and I will), I’d start the bell pepper before the rest, as it took long enough to cook that the onions were limp by the time the peppers were tender.

Mistakes in the Kitchen

I had two issues with the dessert.  First, it required AN EGG, and we were completely out of eggs.  Oops.  After my roommate graciously ummm… volunteered was voluntold to pick up some eggs, I started to prep the pudding.  The instructions clearly stated to add an egg YOLK to the milk.  Perhaps I should have read the instructions because I added the whole egg and whisked it in before I realized my error.  Of course, although I now had more eggs, I did not have more milk.  This dessert was doomed.  I did substitute my Mexican vanilla, which was great in this recipe, and I’d do it again.  When I added the flour and other dry ingredients though, I was not able to get a smooth texture despite continuous (and vigorous) whisking.  It also thickened significantly faster than the directions suggested, which might have been because of the egg whites <ahem>.

The Results

The Peruvian Steak dish was really good!  It had a more subtle and well-blended flavor than we expected, but needed a touch more pepper.  I hadn’t added any because I wasn’t sure how spicy that aji amarillo paste was going to be.  The textures were interesting, but again, I would have added ingredients in a different order so that the onions could have been less limp.  The potatoes, too, ended up a bit more soggy/soft than I would have liked.  The cilantro was actually fantastic in this dish: it gave it a bright, fresh note that helped a more stew-like dish transition to spring.  I might actually consider a dash of lime juice in the future.  Overall, we all rated this a solid four stars out of five.

Peruvian Steak Stir-Fry
Peruvian Steak Stir-Fry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mexican Hot Chocolate pudding did not have a great texture, to be honest.  I would compare the lumpiness to tapioca pudding.  The flavor, however, was a subtly spicy rich milk chocolate that we all loved!  The blend of cinnamon and chili powder didn’t make it spicy-hot, but it added depth and complexity.  This led to a lengthy discussion of the merits of instant pudding mixes.  This might have been the first non-mix pudding that I’ve made (I don’t count flan/custard as pudding per se).  It was quite easy to prepare and I really look forward to trying this again (without the egg white)!

Mexican Hot Chocolate Pudding
Mexican Hot Chocolate Pudding

Birchbox Book Club: December 2014

JoyTheBakerThis month’s book was holiday-appropriate: a baking cookbook!  This one is Homemade Decadence: Irresistably Sweet, Salty, Gooey, Sticky, Fluffy, Creamy, Crunchy Treats by Joy Wilson.

I don’t know exactly how one reviews a cookbook.  My writing classes did not cover this as a skill.  However, here is what I can tell you:

I got the Kindle version.  Yes, of a cookbook, which will necessitate having an electronic device with me in the kitchen while I bake.  It won’t be the first time almost all my devices have served me in this capacity at some point.

I didn’t find the cover to be breathtaking, but that’s ok.  It’s fun and imparts a feeling of low-key, low-stress, fun desserts.  Interestingly, this is a fair indicator of the style of writing regarding the recipes themselves.  The blurbs included with each recipe are fun to read and lighthearted.

As I turn to a random page in this book, I find a recipe for Breakfast Cobbler with Oatmeal Drop Biscuits.  I’m trying very hard to convince myself that oatmeal is a breakfast food, right?  And cobblers are made with fruit, right?! So this would be a brilliant idea!  The author’s written description says:

“In my family, cobbler is a big deal.  It’s a big deal when my dad starts to root through the kitchen cabinets looking for the large cobbler pan.  This dessert is usually reserved for the big Easter arty, the all-family cookout, or Christmas.  You know there’s going to be a lot of happy gathering when that special pan emerges.

Leave it to me to find a way to turn cobbler into breakfast.

Breakfast is totally a special occasion, right? In this cobbler incarnation, we’re combining juicy berries and drop biscuit batter.  It’s sweet and juicy, hearty and special.”

This is what I love about cookbooks. The power of food and descriptions of the origins of those foods, their stories.

Since I randomly chose this recipe (location 542 of the Kindle ed.), this will be the recipe I test this month for the book club review!  The only things I don’t keep on hand: 4 cups of fruit (frozen, thawed and drained is ok) and buttermilk.  I need to hit the grocery store.

BreakfastCobblerAuthorPhoto
Doesn’t this look divine?

I woke up grumpy and not really wanting to cook breakfast.  That is normal.  I do not like breakfast.  The recipe looked more daunting than I remembered: “16 ingredients? How many bowls and dishes am I dirtying?! Really?!  This early in the morning…”  Despite my internal grumbling, the recipe was really easy to follow and assemble.  I used a frozen fruit blend with cherries, blackberries, and blueberries.  I also (mistakenly) grabbed the fat-free buttermilk at the grocery store.  It did not take very long to prepare (the longest part was probably finding the cardamom in my spice cabinet).  Interestingly, this recipe had you pre-bake the fruit, then add the drop-biscuit topping, and bake again.  The drop-biscuit dough alone was yummy.  After the second baking, it needed to cool for 20 minutes.  This is a form of torture, but is a really good time to go do some yoga or something.  If you’re a morning person, clean up after your cooking.

I’m not as good at staging food photos as I’d like to be.  Maybe I’ll take a class.

This was very tasty, but I couldn’t get over the feeling that I wanted a scoop of vanilla ice cream with it and that it was dessert.  It was also a little too sweet.  If I were to make this again, I would reduce the amount of sugar and probably eliminate the salt.

Calculated by MyFitnessPal based on ingredients list
Calculated by MyFitnessPal based on ingredients list

My one complaint about this cookbook is that it does not have nutritional information, even a basic calorie count.  Granted, if you’re eating cobbler for breakfast, calories probably aren’t something you’re worried about, but I prefer to know.  So here is the nutrition facts label for this recipe (courtesy of MyFitnessPal): And holy geez!  I knew with a stick of butter that this was not a healthy dish.  The most shocking thing in this dish was the sodium level–half a day’s worth!  That’s why I would reduce or eliminate the salt next time around. It’s also half a day’s worth of fat, so that’s pretty high too, but I expected that with a stick of butter and buttermilk in the ingredients list.  This was calculated with low-fat buttermilk, and your choice of fresh/frozen fruit may also cause the calorie content to vary.  For the love of your blood pressure, make sure you use unsalted butter.

Would I make this again?  For dessert, sure, with less sugar and sodium.  And half a serving.

How does this reflect on the book?  Good question.  A randomly-chosen recipe turned out tasty and was easy to make and follow.  The dish looked just as good as the picture promised, but required no creativity on my part.  The calories etc. put this dish firmly in the “rare treat” category for me.  I couldn’t help but think of the story while I made and ate this dish, so that too was a success.  I like the book, but I think it will be used rarely since these are self-described Decadent Treats.

 

 

Plated Meal: Mushroom-Crusted Flatiron Steak with Cauliflower Mash and Chocolate Brioche Bread Pudding with Pumpkin Pie Spice

This week from the Plated.com kitchen:

Preparing the cauliflower mash was probably the most labor intensive part of the dinner prep.  I’ve learned from previous experience to boil the heck out of cauliflower and turnips if you plan to make them into mash, so I did.  The veggies and a little butter were all that went into that initially.  If I do this again, I’ll leave the minced chives as just a garnish I think, and I would try to drain the veggies better (the mash was more runny than I prefer but that’s fairly  easy to fix).  Honestly, this was the best cauliflower mash I’ve had, and I think it’s a reasonable substitute for mashed potatoes! Way to get more veggies in!

The steaks were coated with porcini mushroom powder and pan-fried. Two were much thinner and cooked faster, so I ended up with two well-dine (oops) and one medium-rare. They tasted good, but they weren’t our favorite steaks to date.

I also made dinner rolls to go with.

The dessert however looks much more promising than last week’s. I love bread pudding. Chocolate bread pudding sounded really good! The addition of the pumpkin  pie spice is seasonal and smelled amazing when it was cooking… to serve, I topped it with a light dusting of confectioners sugar. I really need to invest in a set of basic ramekins.  For a more “adult” twist… drizzle on some Kahlua for extra YUM!

 

Plated Meal: Asian Duck Tacos and Apple Crisp with Spiced Pecans

We’ve continued ordering Plated.com meals since my first post about Plated.  In fact, I’ve put up unboxing videos on my YouTube channel for all of the meals (feel free to catch up if you really want to).

This week, we opted to try something really different.  We’ve had fish, chicken, and steak aplenty from Plated, but we hadn’t seen duck before!  I wondered if this would taste like Peking duck did when I was young.  It was also our first dessert order from Plated.

 

The result?  Oh, yes, it tasted absolutely DIVINE.  The pickled cucumber side dish was an interesting complement, but the duck completely stole the show.  I will have dreams about this meal.  It was not difficult to prepare; the duck breast was seasoned with salt and pepper and Chinese five-spice blend (which I would not have thought to use on meat), pan-seared and then roasted through.  Absolutely, utterly delicious.  Completely worth the burns I got from grabbing the fresh-from-the-oven handle of my pan without a mitt.

 

The apple crisp, on the other hand, was something of a disappointment.  There wasn’t really enough cinnamon-sugar seasoning to suit us (easy to remedy) and the topping was more mush than crisp. I tried to improve that slightly by switching to broil for a few minutes, and ended up with burnt.  I did like the spiced pecans, which were tossed with chili powder and then oven roasted for a  few minutes.  The chili powder didn’t stick well, so maybe toss with a bit of butter or oil AND the chili powder, but great flavor on that part.  The vanilla ice cream was an attempt to rescue the burnt, and was not very successful.

I’d rather have had more duck.