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Chocolate Pecan S’mores

Chocolate Pecan S'mores

These cookies are incredibly delectable and easy to make. They’re a perfect addition to your holiday baking playlist. This chocolate cookie is topped with marshmallow, rich chocolate icing, and a roasted pecan. Make lots because they won’t last long. Enjoy this recipe and have a Happy Holiday!

You will need:

  • ½ cup room temperature butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ¾ cups flour
  • ⅓ cup cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 18 large marshmallows

For the icing:

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 ¾ cup icing sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • roasted pecan halves

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until combined. Add the egg, milk, and vanilla and mix well. In another bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Beat into a creamy mixture.

Drop rounded teaspoons of the mixture onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350F for 6-8 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the marshmallows in half. When the cookies are done, press a marshmallow on the top of each cookie, cut side down. Return to the oven for a couple minutes. Let cool on a baking rack.

For the icing, simply combine the milk, butter, and cocoa in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, mix well, and let boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly. Add the vanilla and icing sugar and whisk until smooth.

Put a spoonful of icing on each cookie and top with a roasted pecan half. Enjoy, and have an awesome holiday!

What is your favourite holiday treat?

Making The Aimless Cook: Part II

making TAC feature

If you’ve ever wondered what goes into making a full-blown online cooking show, check out this episode of The Aimless Cook. In this week’s show, I talk about recipe inspiration, a little bit of the editing process as well as share some tips on starting your own online show. I’ve come a long way since I started this show and all I have to say is, Thank You. Your questions, likes, shares and comments make this work well worth the effort. Thanks again for your continued support!

Cinco de Mayo Recipe Ideas

char siu tacos

To celebrate Cinco de Mayo, I have gathered a few of my favourite recipes from my Mexican food archive. To help me along, I have also my friend, Hilah Johnson of Hilah Cooking here to show you a few of her own picks for the weekend. So kick back, pop open a cerveza and enjoy the show. Do you have any favourite dishes for this amazing celebration? Let me know in the comments below and have a fun and safe weekend!

Southeast Asian Sticky Wings Recipe

I made this recipe after watching a show featuring Chef Andy Ricker and his restaurant, Pok Pok in Portland Oregon. He had these incredible Vietnamese sticky chicken wings that stuck in my mind. Since then, I have been wanting to make them so badly so I went looking for the recipe. Since I didn’t want to just make the Pok Pok recipe, I took a basic adaptation of it and made it my own. This recipe is a culmination of late nights online, ingredient research and some good old-fashioned kitchen experimentation.

Southeast Asian Sticky Wings

In my version, I add a couple touches that bring nuances to the ends of the flavour spectrum on this one. Namely, nuoc mau, lemongrass and a bit of fresh lime juice. Nuoc mau is a popular Vietnamese caramel sauce used for adding a deep richness in grilled meats and such. It’s made from either water or coconut water and sugar, which is then reduced to a dark syrup with a slightly bittersweet flavour. The rest, I added to compliment and bring a brightness to the whole dish. This is an incredible recipe for chicken wings that I know you will enjoy.

You will need:

  • 2 lbs fresh chicken wings
  • ½ cup fish sauce
  • ½ cup sugar (or palm sugar)
  • 4 cloves of fresh garlic (2 crushed and 2 thinly sliced)
  • 1 cup corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon minced lemongrass
  • 1 tablespoon nuoc mau (aka coconut thin sauce) *optional
  • oil, for deep frying
  • a handful of fresh cilantro
  • lime wedges

Start by making the marinade. In a large bowl, combine the fish sauce, sugar and 2 crushed cloves of garlic. Mix to dissolve the sugar, then add the chicken wings. Refrigerate for 3 hrs.

When the wings are done, take out of the marinade (save the marinade and set aside) and dry on a clean kitchen towel. Lightly coat the wings in corn starch. Meanwhile, start heating up some oil for deep frying. You want the oil to be about 350F. While it’s heating, fry the thinly sliced garlic in the medium heat til they are golden brown and crisp. *If you try to fry them in oil that’s already hot, you’ll scorch them and they’ll be too bitter. Set your garlic chips aside.

By now, your oil is hot and the chicken is nicely coated. Test out the oil by tossing in a little piece of bread. If it goes dark too fast, you have the oil too hot. Take off the heat and wait a couple minutes, then try again. Working in small batches, carefully put in the wings and fry until golden brown. They normally take about 10 minutes. Test with a meat thermometer (shoud read 180F). When they’re done, drain on a rack or on kitchen paper then set aside.

Now onto the sauce. In a large pan on medium high heat, add the marinade mixture you saved. Put in the lemongrass and nuoc mau and continue to reduce on the heat until it starts to thicken. Add the butter and continue to reduce until you get your sauce to the consistency of a syrup. In French terms, this is called nape (nah-pay). You should be able to coat the back of a spoon, draw a line through it and see the line clearly.

Have the wings ready in a large mixing bowl. Add the sauce then toss together until evenly coated. Plate up and garnish with the garlic chips, fresh cilantro leaves and some lime wedges. These are perfect with beer.

I hope you enjoy this recipe. Try it out, make it yours and have fun in the kitchen!

Roasted Potato Salad with Lemon and Dill

Weekday dinners are often devoid of inspiration because we’re back in the groove of the daily grind. It’s no wonder why we have grown so dependent on processed and ready-to-eat food in recent years. I’ll admit, there are times when I don’t feel like cooking anything for whatever reason and it’s a hard sell to get me into the kitchen to make dinner from scratch when I’m feeling completely wiped. 

The good news is, there are a lot of things you can cook from scratch that don’t really feel like you’re cooking them at all. They are the kinds of recipes that may require little prep, minimal involvement in the actual cooking or just simple technique like mixing something together. This is one of those recipes. 

You will need:

  • 5 medium white potatoes
  • 1 head fresh garlic
  • the juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill
  • 1/4 cup grated parmigiana reggiano
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • a touch of S&P

Cut those potatoes into bite-sized chunks and toss them in extra virgin olive oil. Pop them on a baking sheet in a single layer with the cloves from that head of garlic (You can leave the peels on, just separate the cloves). Toss them into a 400F oven until golden brown and fork tender.

Put the potatoes into a large mixing bowl and add all the other ingredients. Mix well to combine, season with salt and pepper and enjoy with a nice steak, chicken or fish. Hell, these potatoes are so tasty, you can eat them in a big bowl by themselves. You’d do that too, wouldn’t you?

Lemon Dill Potato Salad

I hope you enjoy this recipe, make it yours and have fun in the kitchen!

St. Patrick’s Day Recipe – Lamb Stew with Colcannon

This St. Patrick’s Day lamb stew with colcannon recipe is hearty, rich and unbelievably delicious. The tender lamb is seared off and caramelized, creating a wonderful sauce that brings all the elements together. This stew is served with an Irish favourite called Colcannon. Rich and creamy mashed potatoes with sauteed kale and leeks, broiled to a golden finish. This is a recipe you must have in your regular arsenal.

for the stew:

  • 2 lb lamb shoulder, cubed
  • 4 large carrots, chopped
  • 2 leeks, bottom part only sliced
  • 1 large onion, cut into wedges
  • 1 litre chicken or lamb stock
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper

for the colcannon:

  • 3 large potatoes
  • 100g fresh kale
  • 2 leeks (bottom part) sliced
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • ½ cup milk
  • salt

Start with a hot heavy bottom dutch oven or large pot over high heat with a couple tablespoons of oil and add the lamb in a single layer. Working in small batches, sear the lamb until golden brown all both sides then set aside.

Turn the heat down to medium and add the onions. Saute and stir frequently until the onions start to turn translucent. When that’s done, add the carrots and leeks and continue to cook for a couple minutes to get them started then deglaze the bottom of the pot with the stock. Turn the heat back up to high, stir the pot to get the fond from the bottom and toss in the thyme and rosemary. When the pot comes to a boil, turn the heat down to medium, put the lamb back on top of the mixture, and let simmer uncovered til the vegetables are tender and the broth has thickened.

Once the veg is done remove the herbs and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add some fresh or frozen peas to finish and you’re done! Now let’s make some colcannon.

Peel and cut the potatoes into rough chunks, put into a medium pot and cover with water. Boil until fork tender, strain and return to the pot. Toss the potatoes over the heat in a dry pot until the potatoes start to look fluffy on the outside. Put the potatoes in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Heat a large frying pan on medium high heat with a ¼ cup of butter. As the butter melts, add the leeks, kale and a touch of salt and start to gently saute, stirring frequently. When the vegetables are wilted and tender, remove from the heat and set aside.

Back to the potatoes. Add the ¼ cup of butter to the potatoes and mash until smooth. As you mash, add the milk and the egg yolks. The eggs yolks serve one purpose. When you broil the potatoes (like making a shepherd’s pie), they help give the golden brown finish. If you’re not broiling the potatoes, you can omit the egg yolks. When the potatoes are smooth, add the sauteed vegetables and combine.

Lamb Stew with Colcannon

Now scoop some of the colcannon onto a baking sheet and pop under a broiler for a few minutes until golden brown (you see what I meant about the egg yolks?). When finished, take out and gently take the colcannon off the baking sheet with a large spatula and put on a large plate. Make a nice indent in the center of the pile and ladle on some of the finished lamb stew. Garnish with fresh parsley. Marvel at your masterpiece, grab some cutlery and enjoy!

Korean Stirfried Noodle Recipe – Japchae

Japchae is a delicious Korean stirfried noodle dish made with tender slivers of marinated beef and an assortment of healthy colourful vegetables all mixed together with a signature chewy sweet potato noodle called dangmyun. This dish is typically served at room temperature as a side, but can also be enjoyed as a main. This recipe is perfect for potlucks… just sayin.

You will need:

  • 10 oz (300g) glass noodles (당면,dang-myun)
  • 1/3 lb lean sirloin, cut into 1/4” thick sticks
  • 1 bunch spinach, trimmed & cleaned
  • 1 medium carrot, julienned
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 leek, julienned (just the white part)
  • ¼ lb oyster and crimini mushrooms, sliced (you can use shiitake or whatever you have)

for the beef :

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • ½ tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sake
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

for the mushrooms:

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

for the spinach:

  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

for the noodles:

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

Mix beef in the marinade then set aside for at least 30 minutes.

In a large pot of boiling water, blanch mushrooms for about 30 seconds. Take them out, rinse in cold water, squeeze out excess water and set aside.

In the same boiling water add spinach, blanch for 30 seconds til wilted. Take them out, rinse in cold water, squeeze out excess water and set aside.

Add your noodles to the pot and boil until tender. Rinse them under cold water. Drain and set aside.

Season mushrooms and spinach each with their seasoning ingredients separately.

Saute onions, carrots and leek and season with salt and sugar to taste over medium heat. Set aside.

Saute beef and cook until done. Remove the beef and deglaze the pan with a splash of sake. 

Add the noodles to the pan and gently stirfry until the juices are absorbed then set aside.

Now grab a huge mixing bowl and add the noodles. Add the noodle seasoning and toss them well. Let all the ingredients to cool down to room temperature.

Finally, toss noodles with the rest of the ingredients until combined. Season to taste and serve at room temperature. Enjoy!

jap chae

J’s Century Egg Salad Recipe

More than a year ago, I uploaded a vlog about my favourite ‘exotic’ foods. Now this vlog included items such as chicken feet, dinaguan (a Pinoy pork blood stew) and the infamous Balut. Of these wonderful acquired tastes, I also talked about Chinese century eggs. These are duck eggs that have been preserved in a mixture of clay, wood ash, quicklime, salt and rolled in rice husks. They are then left to ‘cure’ for several weeks resulting in a transformation of colour, texture and flavour that is truly unique.

IMG_1477

IMG_1478

Now I usually love century eggs in my congee with pork, a little ginger and green onion, but today I’m gonna show you how to enjoy these wonderful flavour-bombs in popular Asian tomato salad that’s healthy, colourful and easy to make. The high notes of the cilantro, fish sauce and citrus compliment the earthy complexity of the century eggs. You’re gonna love this so let’s cook!

You will need:

  • 4 century eggs
  • 2 large tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 1/2 large red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 Thai red chile
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro
The dressing:
  • the juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil

Let’s start by peeling the century eggs and blanching them in boiling water very briefly. This is to get rid of the alkaline smell usually associated with century eggs. Cut into wedges and set aside.

Next let’s prepare the elements of our salad by taking the tomatoes and cut them into wedges. Take the red onion and soak in cold water to mellow out the raw bite. Finally, chop the chile and get ready to assemble.

Now grab yourself a large bowl and let’s start making the dressing. We’re gonna begin by drizzling in about a teaspoon of canola oil followed by about 1 teaspoon of fish sauce and the juice of 1 lemon. From here, add the red onion, the century eggs and a handful of chopped cilantro. Mix well to combine and give it a taste. Add salt to season and any of the other ingredients from the dressing to balance it out. Southeast Asian flavours are always a balancing act and a little fine tuning to our personal taste always makes every batch unique. 

I like to let salads like this sit in the fridge for awhile to let the flavour come together. Alternatively, you can also make the dressing ahead of time so that it’s ready to rock come assembly time. Enjoy this recipe and have fun in the kitchen!

Thai Inspired Beef Salad with Rice Noodle Recipe

Southeast Asian flavour is a playful balance of sweet, sour, salty, spicy and bitter. Using ingredients like fresh lime juice, red Thai chiles and fish sauce, you can create something pretty incredible. This Thai-inspired beef salad uses some simple ingredients brought together with amazing results.

for the dressing, you will need:

  • 3 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon chile garlic paste (sambal oelek)
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • salt to season

the rest:

  • 1 lb baby bok choy, trimmed and rinsed
  • 225g thick rice noodles (banh pho)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 lb flank steak
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • crushed peanuts
  • fresh lime wedges, for garnish

In a small bowl, mix all of the dressing ingredients together, salt to taste then set aside. Boil the rice noodles until tender, rinse in cold water, strain then set aside. 

Blanch the baby bok choy in the boiling water for about 1 minute. Take out and rinse in cold water then set on a baking tray lined with kitchen paper to dry. Set aside.

Drizzle the flank steak with olive oil on both sides and season with salt and pepper. Ensure your steak is room temperature before you grill. Sear the steak on an oiled cast iron skillet on high heat or on a grill on high for about 3 minutes per side. You want a nice brown crust, but don’t let it cook too long. Once the steak is seared, set aside for at least 10 minutes to let the juices re-distribute through the meat.

Flank Steak from Hoven Farms

After the 10 minutes, slice the steak into 2 inch strips along the grain then across the grain into thin slices. Now we’re ready to assemble.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the rice noodle, bok choy, the dressing and the beef and toss until combined. Add the chopped cilantro and get ready to plate.

*the cilantro bonus dressing

  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 handful cilantro leaves
  • juice of 1 lime
  • salt
  • wasabi to taste

In a blender start with the liquids, then add the rest of the ingredients. Pulse til well blended. This is a great dressing that you can use for a lot of different things. You can also add different ingredients depending on the dish.

Thai inspired Beef Salad

Plate the salad on a small plate or small bowl. Drizzle the cilantro dressing over the top and garnish with chopped Thai chiles. This recipe makes a great lunch for the next day since you don’t have to heat it. The beef is juicy, lean and hearty. Of course, if you want to omit the meat, you can. Make this recipe yours and have fun in the kitchen!

Japanese Sea Urchin Spaghetti – Uni Spaghetti Recipe

It’s amazing what can be done when you have the right ingredients. This Japanese spaghetti recipe uses uni. Uni is the delicious roe of the sea urchin. To be precise, it’s the gonads of the male and female sea urchin. In any case, it’s really really good. Whenever I go to the sushi bar, I have to order some to satisfy my craving for this incredible delicacy.

In the sushi bars, uni is pricey. Normally, it’s about $5 per piece. If you’re gonna spend your hard earned money on uni, just make sure it’s a place you trust with really fresh seafood. Uni should be bright orange, tender, taste creamy and slightly sweet. If it looks dark orange to brown and smells like socks (no kidding) keep your money and walk away.

Fresh uni

Occasionally, the local Asian grocery has fresh uni for a decent price. I can usually get a whole tray for $13… and I have eaten the whole tray by myself on occasion.

This uni pasta is a lot like making mentaiko pasta. It requires butter, uni, a splash of cream and a bit of salt and pepper. That’s it. I topped my pasta with shredded nori and some masago to compliment the subtle flavour of the uni with some saltiness of the sea. It’s magical. Really.

You will need:

  • 250g spaghetti
  • 125g fresh uni
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • some fresh cream (about 250ml)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • masago and shredded nori, to garnish

Start by dropping your pasta into a large pot of boiling salted water. Meanwhile, on medium heat, melt the butter and add the uni. Cook the uni gently while stirring and breaking up with a wooden spoon. There are some recipes that ask you to puree the uni to get a smoother texture. You can do this prior to this step if you like, but I like the rustic texture. When you have cooked for a couple minutes and it starts to smell delicious, add some cream to the pan (enough to just cover the bottom). Turn up the heat slightly and let the sauce reduce, but just a little.

By this time, the pasta should be almost done (al dente). Take the pasta out of the water and put directly into the pan. Don’t strain the pasta (never strain pasta). You need the residual starchy water to thicken the sauce and help it stick. Toss the pasta in the sauce until everything is evenly coated and combined. Give a final taste and season with salt and pepper. Plate up and garnish with masago and shredded nori. Enjoy!