Possibly Moving Site (again???)

I’ve been playing around with my old (original) blog site of cabcooks.wordpress.com. Annual fees are coming up and I’m considering not paying for upgrades anymore. So this means going back to freebies and re-activating the old blog site permanently if I decide to go cheap (hehe). Not sure I’ll be able to forward the URL back to the original so if by chance this blog is no longer there the next time you stop by, try cabcooks.wordpress.com. The old site is working and has all the posts to date so you can check it out and leave comments.

More on this later!

Cheesecake Redux

Holy bat cheese it’s been almost 7 years since I posted the original cheesecake recipe. As much as I still love the original recipe, the height of the baked delight always seemed a bit “short.” Not necessarily flat but I thought a bit more height would make it even prettier. But in order to do this, I would either need to buy a new 8″ springform pan or continue to use my 9″ pan and increase the cheesecake mixture. Since I rather have more cheesecake to eat, I chose the latter. Like uh, duh, surprises anyone??

The reduxed recipe is similar to the original recipe but now it includes sour cream and lemon zest. With the addition of sour cream into the cheese mixture, this is more along the line of a NY style cheesecake, which the Mister loves. The lemon zest just makes any cheese baked goods that much yummier.

Since this is a much taller cake, I highly recommend using a water bath. But if you’re bold and don’t care risking the top of your cheesecake crack, then just bake it without it.

Now different people have different preference as to how “silky” they like their cheesecake. I like mine to have a bit of firmness but still have a slight silky texture. I don’t like really creamy or silky cheesecakes. Also NY style cheesecake really shouldn’t have any browning on top.

The amount of time depends on your oven, the size of pan you use and whether a water bath is used. Depending on you preference, I recommend start checking your cake around the 35-40 minute of baking for doneness. The correct timing is usually before you think it’s ready to come out of the oven. The center of the cheesecake is still a bit jiggly, like it’s not quite set. The cheesecake will continue to cook when its resting in the water bath after you pull it out of the oven. 

NOTE: always be very careful when moving the pan when using a water bath. Don’t want to get any water into the cheesecake!

Once cooled, the top will be perfect with no cracks. If the top cracks, then reduce the baking time the next go around. I’m sure it’ll still be very good, just might be a bit firmer or tougher than you might like it. If it was me, I’d rather have it error on the silky side than overbaked side any day.

Also make sure the cream cheese and the eggs are at room temperature before making the filling. This will ensure the proper texture.

Ingredients for crust:
2 C graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, melted, plus a little more to butter the pan
pinch of salt

Ingredients for filling:
4 packages (8 oz ea.) cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/4 C sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract

Instructions:
Preheat oven at 350 degrees F.

Mix together graham cracker crumbs, 2 tablespoon sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Use a whisk to incorporate everything. Add melter butter and mix until well combined. butter the bottom and side of the springform pan. Press mixture onto bottom and up the side of a 9-inch springform pan. The crust should go up about an inch or so of the pan. I use a ramekin to get the bottom flat and a measuring cup to press it against the side of the pan.

Ready to bake! As a side note, you can actually skip the prebake part and it’ll be just fine. If you use an unbaked crust, put it in the fridge for 10 minutes to prevent crumbling when you pour the cheese mixture in.

Bake for 8 minutes, set aside to cool.

Beat cream cheese on low speed until creamy and there are no more lumps. Add sugar gradually and beat well. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. I always scrape the bowl after each egg to ensure that there’s no lumps of cheese stuck to the side of the bowl. Add vanilla and zest.

Before pouring the filling into the crust, prepare the outside of the pan by placing a large piece of aluminum foil underneath the pan. Then fold it up along the outside of the pan. Tuck or rip off excess foil.

Now pour the filling mixture into the center of the pan slowly. Then gently smooth the top of the filling so that it’s level. The filling should be higher than the crust on the side of the pan. I have so the crust is just below the top of the filling line (whew!). Okay, ready for baking!

To prepare the water bath, fill a large roasting pan with about 1 1/2″ of very hot water. The water line should come half way up the springform pan. I do this step on the middle oven rack since I don’t like to carry a full pan of hot water. Se the springform pan into the middle of the roasting pan. Carefully and gently slide the oven rack back into the oven.

Bake at 35o degrees for 45-50 minutes but check firmness starting around the 35-minute mark. Give the pan an ever so slight wiggle to see how much jiggle the cheesecake has.  (Get jiggy with it dances around in my head about now.) The jiggle should start about half way in from the side. If not, bake for another 10 minutes and check again.  Click here to see what the jiggle looks like for a silky texture. Notice how the jiggle is fairly close to the edge of the pan? If you’re like me, I prefer it to have a bit more texture (less silky) so I take it out when the cheesecake jiggle is only about half way out from the center. Does that make sense?? If not, leave a comment and I’ll try to explain it better.

Once there is only jiggle in the middle to center portion of the cheesecake, carefully pull the entire roasting pan out of the oven. Leave the springform pan in the water bath for 30 more minutes.

Remove springform pan and cool on a rack, which helps prevent the crumb crust from getting soggy. Chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours before serving. Add your favorite topping as you like it.

Pappalecco Cafe – Little Italy

This morning was full of errands, one of which was stopping by the Little Italy Farmers Market to pick up our 50 pound order of meat (that’s what she sai…uh…never mind) from Da-Le Ranch (Hi Ashile and Aleya!). We usually do this every few months. This morning, we decided to go a bit earlier to have some breakfast and hopefully to have an easier time with parking. Scored on both! I had 2 places in mind and left the final decision to the Mister. He chose Pappalecco Cafe since he’s always wanted to try the one by his work (Point Loma location). The Little Italy location was perfect for this trip since it’s just a block away from the Farmers Market.

Even though we had coffee at home, I wasn’t going to let the opportunity of having freshly made espresso pass me by. No sirree.  The cafe is fairly small, 5 2-seaters inside and more seating outside. There was a line going out the door mainly because it was kind of narrow inside and one small door where all traffic (humans and apparently canines) go in and out. Didn’t take long for us to get up to the counter though.

The Mister just ordered his standard Americano, black. I decided to go with a Macchiato. For Starbucks patrons, this is not quite the same as their macchiatos, which are more of a latte macchiatto (milk spotted with coffee). A traditional Italian macchiato (also known as esspresso macchiato) is a shot (or double) of espresso with a bit of milk (coffee spotted with milk). BTW, Pappalecco offeres a variety of milks to choose from, I chose almond milk with mine. But you can also choose soy milk, nonfat milk as well as regular milk, whipped cream and syrup.

Even though we were eating there, we had our coffees in to-go cups. Here’s what my macchiato looked like in the regular cup. It was actually perfect for me.

The Mister had already decided the night before on the Classico breakfast: eggs (your way), grilled ham, fresh mozzarella, mixed green salad with an option to add a side of “Tuscan Style” potatoes, which he did of course.

I loved the mixed green salad and the balsamic vinegar that came with it. I think I ate half of them. Now the side of potatoes might look kind of plain in the picture but they were delicious, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, great flavor too. The Mister really enjoyed this.

I had a tougher time selecting but decided to keep it simple and went with the ham and cheese croissant, warmed. Very good, the croissant was flaky and it went well with the Mister’s mixed greens, hehe,

Notice on the bottom right of croissant is a smear of balsamic vinegar. It was pretty thick so I think it might have been reduced a bit, was really good with everything. I would certainly have this again and most likely add my own potatoes and mixed greens next time. Yes, we are definitely coming back the next time we are in the area. Must come back just for the gelato if not for anything else.

Speaking of gelato, since it was so early in the morning, I didn’t get any but here are some snaps of the gelato case. They looked soooo good and I love gelato.

The very pretty lady behind the counter, yes, the one with the blue hair and pink glasses, was very nice. She greeted everyone with a ciao and how are you. Chatted with every customer and explained where everything was for new customers like us. Let’s have a closer look at some of the gelato flavors, shall we? Service was efficient and fast.

I am very curious as to what the cinnamon roll gelato taste like, just cinnamon or actually like a cinnamon roll?!?

There were other pastries and cookies too but it was too hard to get pictures of those since it was right behind the ordering line. Cannolis, puff pastries, various thumbprint biscotties, chocolate chip cookies and a few other things. You can check out the online menu on their website but know that it is not a comprehensive list of everything they have on any particular day. Also check their website for the other 2 locations in Point Loma and Hillcrest.

Pappalecco – Little Italy

1602 State St. San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: 619-238-4590

Korean Fried Wings (Dakgangjeong Maangchi’s Way)

 

I love fried chicken wings, so much that I can eat it every day. No, really, I think I can truly eat fried chicken wings every day. I’ve been takoyaki’ed out, hell, even bbq”ed out (crazy right?). But I have never said in my life, “Okay, I’m done with wings for a while.” Never. Ever. As a matter of fact, I crave those damn things all the time.

So no surprise that new fried wings recipes are always on the top of my “to try” list. And I think I have more fried wings recipe posts than anything else. The latest wings recipe that’s found a solid, and most likely permanent, place in the recipe binder is Maangchi’s Dakgangjeong recipe. You can check out Maangchi’s website for an instruction video as well as many more delicious Korean recipes.

Let me describe these wings short and sweet. They are like crack-addictive delicious. Can’t get enough, eat ’til your guts bust but you’ll keep eating addictive. That pretty much sums up my feelings about these.

I’ve adjusted the recipe according to my taste. I do like them a little on the spicier side so adjust to your own taste. I like to use Thai chili if I have them with a bit of gochugaru, Korean hot pepper flakes. I found that using ground ginger works better since it’s dry coated. But use sparingly if you’re not too into the ginger taste.

Don’t know what to make for Father’s Day? Try this and it’ll surely be a Happy Father’s Day.”

Adapted from Maangchi Crispy and Crunchy Fried Wings

Ingredients:

  • approx. 3 pounds chicken wings, cut into individual sections, about 24 pieces (no wing tips)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon gochugaru (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (or 1 teaspoon minced ginger)
  • 2/3 cup corn starch
  • 1/3 cup peanuts (optional)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (more if you’re like me)
  • 3 to 4 large dried red chili peppers, seeded, cut crosswise into ⅓ inch pieces (optional, or 1 teaspoon chili flakes)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup (or Korean rice syrup)
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon mustard (classic mustard works fine. Can use dry mustard but only use 1/2 teaspoon)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds (optional)
  • vegetable oil for frying

Directions:

  1. Pat wings dry with paper towels.
  2. Put the chicken in a bowl and mix with salt, ginger, ground black pepper and gochugaru (if using). Rub it all in.
  3. Put corn starch in a bowl and dip each wing in the starch to coat it, one by one. Squeeze each wing to press the coating to it tightly.
  4. Put 4 cups of cooking oil in a frying pan or heavy pot. Heat over high heat until it reaches 350 degrees F. I’ve gone as high as 375 and as low as 335 with no problem. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can test the oil by dipping a test wing into the oil, carefully. If the oil bubbles, it’s hot enough to start frying.
  5. Slide the coated wings one by one into the hot oil and cook for about 10 to 12 minutes, turning over a few times with tongs. I find that the wings cook faster when the pot isn’t crowded.
  6. Take the wings out of the oil and drain for a bit in a strainer. Turn off the heat, and let the wings sit for a few minutes. Make the sauce now (see below).
  7. Reheat the oil and fry the wings again for another 10 minutes until they all look golden brown and feel super crunchy through the tongs. Shorter time for smaller wings.
  8. When the chicken is done, reheat the sauce, if needed, until it bubbles. Remove from heat.
  9. Add the hot chicken and mix well with a wooden spoon to coat. I find doing the coating in a large mixing bowl is easier.
  10. Transfer  to a large platter. Sprinkle  some sesame seeds over top and serve immediately.

For the sauce:

  1. Heat a large non-stick skillet or wok over medium high heat. Add 2 tablespoons cooking oil, minced garlic, and dried red chili pepper.
  2. Stir with a wooden spoon until fragrant for about 30 seconds.
  3. Add soy sauce, rice syrup, vinegar and mustard. Stir with a wooden spoon and let it bubble for a few minutes.
  4. Add the brown sugar and continue stirring. Remove from the heat. Set aside.

Takoyaki

Update: I added more pictures at the end of the post of the second batch I made the next day. Much easier since I seasoned the pan one more time. As you can see, the takoyaki formed much prettier. I also added some info on what I did differently as well.

Happy New Year! Thought I’d start the first post of 2014 with one of the first dishes the Mister and and I had on New Year’s Day. We decided to get some noodles at Raki Raki since I really enjoyed my lunch with CC earlier in the week (check out CC’s post here for some great shots of ramen). I’ll post on the Mister’s and my lunch at Raki Raki at a later date.

Anyway, we enjoyed Raki squared takoyaki so much that I wanted to try making it at home. For those who aren’t familar, takoyaki are octopus balls (snicker, balls…). And you know this opens up to a whole slew of “that’s what he/she said” jokes, right???

Funny thing is that I’ve had a takoyaki cast iron pan in my Amazon save cart for over a year but just never got around to buying it. Guess I just needed somethingmotivation (like a kick in the ass). I debated between the cast iron pan, which is stove top, or get one of those fancy electric ones. In the end, I went with my first choice.

Being a noob at this, I decided to start with the simplest method and ingredients as possible, which meant not making the batter from scratch. First picture from top left: takoyaki sauce, Kewpie mayonnaise, bonito flakes, takoyaki mix. We liked the taste of the mix and quite frankly, unless I’m making takoyaki every week, I’d probably just stay with the mix. Well, unless I’m out and too lazy to go to the store.

Next we have some aonori, which will get sprinkled on top of the finished product.

  .

A few more items: tenkasu (tempura flakes), thinly sliced green onions, and another shot of the bonito flakes. You can buy tenkasu at a Japanese market but I had a hard time finding them on the shelves so I made my own using my little Fry Daddy. I probably could have done without the tenkasu but there were some zucchinis that were crying to be tempura’ed. So two birds.

Next: the batter, tako (cooked octopus) cut into bite size pieces, and um, more tenkasu (yeah, I made quite a bit).

  

If you look to the left of the Fry Daddy, you can see part of the takoyaki pan. It makes up to 16 balls at a time.

I didn’t get a chance to take photos while making the (ahem) balls since I was too busy manning the pan. They were sticking to pan a bit first time out of the gate. I also had to use a bit more oil to get the balls unstuck. Definitely need to season the pan in the oven at least one more time before the next batch.

I was able to get 1 perfectly shaped ball and a handful of pretty good ones. The rest were, well, sort of resembled a sphere but they were very tasty nonetheless. Once I get the technique down, I’ll take some “in process” pictures and will do an update post. But for now, a quick summary of what I did.

First, heat the pan on medium heat (my stove). You might need medium-high heat but my gas stove cranks out some pretty good heat. I oiled the pan liberally (and more so while cooking) and when it just starts to smoke, poured in the batter, filling each hole almost full. Then add a piece or two of tako (depending on the size…that’s what she said), some tenkasu and green onions. Then pour a bit more of batter on top of each to almost overflowing. It’s okay if it overflows a bit since it’ll just get tucked in.

After a few minutes, the balls are (suppose to be) ready to be turned 90 degrees. My balls needed a bit of coaxing (that’s what he said). It took about 10-12 minutes for most of them but a few of the less cooperative ones needed a few more minutes and extra oil. (Wow, I could have gone to town on jokes with that one but I’ll refrain.) Anyway, once all the balls can be rotated fairly easily, they’re ready to be served (bwahahahaha!). Put them on a plate, add some takoyaki sauce, some mayonnaise, sprinkle some aonori and benito flakes on top and boom, takoyaki for the snacking.

I have to be honest that I was a bit disappointed when I first tried to turn them since they stuck so much. But with some finessing and some patience, all turned out well in this first rodeo! I should have taken a picture of the lone perfect ball but that got eatening first. So pictures will have to wait for the next batch.

Hope everyone had a good New Year celebration and may 2014 be everything that you wish for!

P.S. I forgot to mention that the brand of takoyaki mix was Otafuku and the package was only in Japanese. Good thing Otafuku has the instruction on their website in English! I knew most of the instructions and recognized some kanji characters but there were a couple of things that I wasn’t completely sure of. So good thing I found the English version. The takoyaki sauce was also Otafuku and it had a takoyaki recipe on the package, which I noticed after I was done cooking (of course).

P.S.S. I seasoned the pan one more time in the oven the next day and made a second batch. What a difference it made to the sticking problem. Not only was I able to turn the balls easier, it also took me half the time to make the same amount. You can see in the left picture below some balls in various cooking stages. I found I like to move some of the balls to the middle since those are hotter than the outside wells. Gets really nice and crispy. The second picture is the final product. Some of them were starting to deflate a bit as they cooled but for the most part, they retained their spherical shapes nicely.

  

I was able to use less oil than the first time. I suspect this will decrease a little more as I use the pan more. I was also faster in turning the balls since I have some experience now in making these suckers.

One other big thing I changed this go around was using dashi stock instead of plain water. I used dashi granules the first time and I thought there was a subtle difference in the taste for the better but not enough to where I would go out of my way. Now if I was making the batter from scratch, then certainly would opt for the dashi granules.

The third batch that I made, I used dashi stock I made from a dashi packet in boiling water. Now there I really tasted a difference. Much more flavorful, nice and dashi! This I definitely recommend.

Funny thing as I was making the second batch, I thought to myself, “Self, this is actually pretty fun to make.” Of course I had to make some ball jokes to the Mister as I was making these. But hey, who doesn’t like a good balls joke? The third time I made these, it went even faster. What I realized that go-around was that I work best by filling 6 of the holes (cavities?) first, get those prepped, then fill in another 6 more. By the time the second set was prepped, the first 6 were ready to rotate. And so on and on.