Friday, June 23, 2006

kitchen disasters, or how to rescue a broken ganache...

I'm impulsive. Often I will be standing in Trader Joe's, waiting to buy eggs and milk when a recipe I've seen earlier that day will take over and I find myself buying goat's milk yogurt or heavy cream or pizza dough. This happened to me a month ago after reading a particularly inspiring post where Sam discovers chocolate mint and makes some very delectable-sounding/looking chocolate-mint truffles. I came home with a pint of heavy whipping cream, ready to enjoy some chocolatey goodness later that night.

Unfortunately, my impulsiveness means I sometimes skip over major details, like reading a recipe closely. Oops. Having never made truffles before, but seeing Alton Brown do it on TV, I figured it couldn't be that hard, right? But apparently, ganache can be finicky. Especially if you disregard all helpful directions and plow ahead from excitement. And you end up with this:

A grainy, separated mess! Too much heat will cause the cocoa butter to pool out and you'll see a layer of oil separate out from your formerly lovely chocolate-cream mixture. But I'm stubborn, and I didn't want to give up and throw the mess out. So I did a little googling to see if I could fix it. And you can! First you break out your trusty candy thermometer. Then you divide the mess in half. You heat one half to 130 degrees, and cool the other half to 60 degrees. Then you slowly whisk the hot half into the cool half. This supposedly averages out the temperature so that the fat droplets in your ganache become evenly suspended.

Hard to believe that this mess actually somehow became a yummy ganache! I had steeped the cream with cinnamon stick, a chile, cardamom, and cayenne. Then I mixed some ground cinnamon and cayenne into the cocoa powder for rolling. The result? A very delicious truffle, with just the right amount of kick. It was pronounced "yummy" by the boyfriend and the roommate.

Moral of the story? Read the directions! But also, don't get flustered and give up...with a little bit of patience (or perhaps desperation?) you can fix most kitchen disasters into something palatable and even delicious!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

A delicious korean dinner...

One of the nights we were in Korea my uncle took us to a restaurant known for its mountain vegetable set meal. I love this kind of stuff - when we went last May we had gone to a restaurant that dealt with lettuce wraps. Koreans are big on using lettuce to wrap up rice and meat and pickles and making a meal out of it. This place had all sorts of different lettuces - from sweet to bitter and herbal. My mother loves this place and so my uncle told us he would take us somewhere similar.

There are many mountains in Korea, and as a result, many different types of plants that grow on these mountains. There are all sorts of leaves and roots that are used in korean cooking that I wish we had access to here. Although this meal had no meat (we had two or three small broiled pieces of fish shared among the five of us) I felt completely full and satisfied from nibbling away at the various plants and pickles. And I felt like I had done something good for my body, which is pretty difficult to achieve in Korea what with all the baked goods and rice cakes and fried snacks I find myself eating every day!

Below is a slide show of that meal - you can click on any picture to get a description of what it is!