{Simple Sundays} Everything Bagel Sweet Potatoes AKA Aimee Song’s Sweet Potatoes

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while now, you would know how much I love sweet potatoes. (As evidenced here, here and here.) I love the soft texture it takes on when it is roasted well and the flavor, to me, is as comforting as chicken noodle soup. So when one of my favorite bloggers posted a video about “perfect sweet potatoes”, I had to give it a try.
Well, it was quite delicious and nearly perfect! I just tweaked it a little by adding salt and omitting the freshly chopped garlic. (If you love garlic, or are in a garlicky mood, mince a few cloves of garlic and add it to the seasoning stage.)
Aimee’s way of roasting the sweet potatoes gives it a crisp exterior and a smooth and buttery interior, and the addition of the “everything but the bagel” seasoning gives a savory edge to the sweetness of the sweet potato. We’ve been making these a lot in our house lately because it is Whole 30 friendly. My sister has been on the whole 30 diet and turns out no sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, soy, and dairy really cuts down the things that you are allowed to eat. But this has been the sweet-savory snack that has been helping her stay on track.
You can watch the video of Aimee making it here.

Everything Bagel Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients:

3-4 medium sized sweet potatoes (use organic potatoes if you are eating the skin)
avocado oil (or any high smoke point oil)
everything but the bagel seasoning (I got mine at trader joe’s but you can technically make your own)
kosher salt
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400˚F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (shiny side down).
  2. Thoroughly wash your sweet potatoes. Trim both ends and cut lengthwise.
  3. Coat the sweet potatoes with avocado oil, and place on baking sheet cut-side down.
  4. Roast sweet potatoes 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
  5. Remove sweet potatoes from oven; flip sweet potatoes so they are cut-side up.
  6. Sprinkle with kosher salt, bagel seasoning, and garlic (if using).
  7. Move baking sheet back into the oven and roast 10-15 minutes more.
  8. Turn off oven and let sweet potatoes sit in oven for an additional 10-15 minutes.
  9. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Song of Style.

Ranunculus Cake with Sweet Potato Pastry Cream

I’ve been kind of obsessed with flower everything on my cakes these days. Real or buttercream, I love them all. I actually made this cake back in May, and by the time I got to editing photos it was the peak of summer.  And because the filling is sweet potato pastry cream, it just didn’t go with the season. But now that it is on the cusp of fall, I feel like it’s appropriate to post this. (Although, personally, this is my favorite pastry cream of all time and I love it any time of the year.)
The star of this cake is the sweet potato, but not the orange fleshed kind but the purple skinned, yellow fleshed kind. This type of sweet potato is popular in Korean desserts and tastes similar to a roasted chestnut. In the past, I’ve also featured this type of sweet potato in this post: Mini Green Tea Cake.
If you’ve never made pastry cream before, my advice for you is to go slow with pouring the hot milk into the egg mixture, as in a slow drizzle, not a pour. You want to avoid curdling at all costs. But if you do it right, man oh man is it worth it. Gone are the days of powdered mixes. You will never look back. Fill it between your favorite vanilla cake and watch the compliments roll.
As for the decoration, I’ve always loved ranunculus and decided to try to pipe it. It is easier than It looks but is quite time consuming to pipe each flower, especially since they have so many petals. Here are the steps to pipe the flower:

  1. Cut out many squares of parchment or wax paper. You will use one square per flower. (I usually cut mine around 3×3 inches.)
  2. With a flower nail in your hand, pipe a small amount of frosting onto the center of it. (As shown in Photo 2.)
  3. Place a piece of parchment paper on top of the frosting. (As shown in Photo 3.)
  4. Using a small round tip (wilton #2 or #3), pipe a small amount of green frosting in the center of the flower nail in a round, circular shape. (As shown in Photo 4.)
  5. In a piping bag filled with light green frosting and fitted with a petal tip with the wider side facing the flower nail (wilton #102, or larger pending on the size of the flower you want to pipe), pipe a square around the circle, overlapping each other on the ends. (As shown in Photo 5.)
  6. In a piping bag filled with light pink frosting and fitted with a petal tip with the wider side facing the flower nail (wilton #104, or larger pending on the size of the flower you want to pipe), pipe 5 dashes around the light green square overlapping the ends. (As shown in Photo 6.)
  7. Using the same piping bag, pipe 6 dashes around the pink circle. You want to show a little bit of the circle beforehand to create an illusion of overlapping petals. (As shown in Photo 7.)
  8. Continue piping dashes along the outer edge of the flower, increasing the number of dashes by 1 until you reach the size of the flower you desire. (As shown in Photo 8.)

I hope you try it soon! I know it’s been a while I’ve missed you!

Sweet Potato Pastry Cream

Ingredients:

3 medium sized Korean sweet potatoes, roasted and peeled.
2 c. whole milk
½ c. sugar, divided
2 egg yolks
1 egg, large
¼ c. cornstarch
a pinch of kosher salt
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. In a food processor, mix the sweet potatoes until a smooth puree forms. Set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, whisk the milk and ¼ c. of sugar and heat until the milk boils.
  3. While the milk heats, grab a medium bowl and whisk together the egg yolks, egg, ¼ c. sugar, cornstarch and the salt until smooth.
  4. Once the milk is heated, slowly drizzle in the milk mixture into the egg mixture with one hand while whisking the egg mixture with the other. Once the milk is completely incorporated into the egg mix, return the entire mixture into the saucepan.
  5. Heat the saucepan while whisking until the mixture becomes thickened like pudding.
  6. Take it off the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla extract.
  7. Mix the sweet potato with the pastry cream until homogenous.
  8. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the pastry cream and refrigerate until cool and set. (about 4 hours, or overnight)

Okinawan Sweet Potato Macarons

Okinawan Sweet Potato MacaronsThere isn’t much that I remember about living in Seoul, South Korea as a little girl. But one memory that lingers after all these years is how the streets were perfumed with the scent of roasted sweet potatoes in the winter. I don’t know how it is now, but back then the streets were filled with carts that sold perfectly roasted sweet potatoes. Roasted Korean sweet potatoes are very different from their American counterpart. They are insanely sweet and the flavor is chestnut-like. And unlike American sweet potatoes, they don’t get watery. Instead, they are more fibrous and hold their shape when peeled. For many years, I’ve tried to recapture that memory by roasting Korean sweet potatoes in my oven. The smell was spot on, but I couldn’t get that same roasted taste that I remembered.
Okinawan Sweet Potato MacaronsThere is a Korean market that I stop by for snacks when I’m at my local Laundromat. If you stop by in the colder months, there is a small machine that churns out roasted sweet potatoes and the whole store smells has that warm roasty toasty smell. Anyways, after having one that was properly roasted, I became obsessed with trying to recreate it at home and scoured the internet on how to do it. I finally came upon a blog that featured this pot and after finding it in a Korean supermarket (It’s so much cheaper. I got it for less than $20 because it was on sale), I gave it a try and I finally reached sweet potato nirvana. Tip: The instructions say to roast on medium heat for 20-30 minutes but I found that roasting for about an hour on low heat produces the best results.
Okinawan Sweet Potato MacaronsArmed with my new roasting pot, I wanted to feature sweet potatoes differently and made these macarons. Purple sweet potatoes are just as sweet but not as flavorful as their yellow cousins. However, I couldn’t resist their beautiful purple flesh. I suppose I could’ve made the frosting a vibrant purple by adding a little food dye, but I wanted you to be able to see what it would look like without it. The best part about the frosting is that it takes just one stick of butter and about ¾ cup of powdered sugar (which just might be perfect for filling cakes for babies since you are using minimal sugar).
Okinawan Sweet Potato MacaronsCan you tell that I originally made these for Valentine’s Day? The purple ombre effect is easy to achieve by using an edible food color spray can. They’re easy enough to find on amazon. You want to be careful to be light handed or you will end up spraying the entire macaron purple. This is especially true if your spray can is new. There are so many options out there, I feel like you have a rainbow at your fingertips and it’s an easy way to spruce up a plain macaron.
Okinawan Sweet Potato MacaronsEven if you don’t decorate it, they’re definitely worth giving a try and best eaten within two days. Since the frosting has low butter/sugar content, it will turn your macarons soggy as the days go by.

Okinawan Sweet Potato Macarons

For the macaron shells:

Ingredients:
212 g. almond meal
212 g. powdered sugar
172 g. egg whites, divided to 82 g. and 90 g
236 g. sugar
158 g. water
purple edible spray paint
heart sprinkles
white pearl sprinkles

Instructions:

  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, add the almond meal and powdered sugar and pulse until thoroughly combined.
  3. Sift the mixture over a large mixing bowl, throwing out the lumps as they appear.  Add 82 g. of the egg whites and stir until you get a thick mixture.
  4. In a small pot attached with a candy thermometer, combine the sugar and water over medium heat and boil until the syrup reaches 200˚F.
  5. Once the syrup reaches 200˚F, start whipping the remaining 90 g. in the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment on medium speed until soft peaks are reached.
  6. Once the syrup reaches 248 degrees, remove the pot off the burner and slowly pour the syrup down the side of the mixing bowl with the egg whites on medium speed.
  7. Once the egg whites are fully incorporated, increase the speed to medium high until egg whites form glossy, stiff peaks
  8. Mix ⅓ of the egg white mix to the almond mixture and stir together until the batter is slightly lighter and less pasty.  From then on, fold in ⅓ of the egg white mixture twice until the mixture “flows like magma”.  The mixture should be smooth and run thick ribbons off the spatula.
  9. Fill batter in a pastry bag fitted with a ½ in. plain tip.
  10. The piped batter may have peaks but should smooth away in a minute or two. Sprinkle the top of the macaron batter with the pearl and heart sprinkles. Let the batter stand until the tops of the macaron batter are dry to the touch, about 30 mins to 1 hour.
  11. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
  12. Once you place the macarons in the oven, reduce the heat to 300˚F. Bake 10-13 minutes, until the feet are formed and the tops are smooth.  The macarons are done when you slightly wiggle them and they start to come off of the parchment paper / silicone mat.
  13. Once you remove the macarons, reheat the oven to 350˚F for ten minutes before baking another pan of macarons at 300˚F.
  14. Once the shells are cool, spray one side of the macarons lightly about 7 inches away from the surface. Fill with frosting.

Okinawan Sweet Potato Frosting

Ingredients:
1 ½ lb Okinawan sweet potatoes, roasted (about 3 medium potatoes)
4 oz. (one stick) unsalted butter
¾ – 1 c. powdered sugar

Instructions:

  1. Peel the outer skin of the sweet potatoes and put them the food processor.
  2. Puree the sweet potatoes until very smooth and silky. Set aside.
  3. In a bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the butter until light and fluffy.
  4. Add in ¾ c. of the powdered sugar and the sweet potato puree and whip until a smooth frosting forms. If not sweet enough, add the remaining ¼ c. powdered sugar and whip until smooth. Fill the macarons.

French Onion Mashed Potato Soup

French Onion Mashed Potato SoupOh, hello. It’s been a while. It’s been a whirlwind of a month since my last post. During the time I was away, I made a wedding cake, 200 cupcakes and threw an engagement party for my brother. There was a dessert bar, which I’ve wanted to do forever and a beautiful mini cake filled with flowers. I need to share photos with you guys asap as possible (<=the office).
French Onion SoupI almost called this soup, a shepherd’s pie French onion soup because of the mashed potato. But, as shepherd’s pie usually has beef and this does not, I felt like I would be misleading you. It has a ring of mashed potato that floats around the crouton, like a delicious moat around a castle of bread and cheese. The mashed potatoes meld into the soup once you dig into it giving it a velvety finish similar to potato soup.
French Onion Mashed Potato SoupI didn’t even plan on making it this way until I realized that I had some mashed potatoes left over from dinner the other night and thought that it was a great way to use up the rest of it. Because in the world of food math: potatoes + onions = winning. But really, you don’t have to go out of your way to make mashed potatoes because even without it, it’s a pretty darn awesome French onion soup.
French Onion Mashed Potato SoupFrench Onion Mashed Potato SoupI know it’s customary to put either gruyère or mozzarella on top of French onion soup, but I had some sliced Muenster cheese in my fridge and it melted beautifully. Insert heart eyes emoji .
French Onion Mashed Potato SoupP.S. I have this really awesome Christmas cake coming your way. Like my-mind-can’t-handle-it-cute. I can’t wait to share it with you as soon as I put it together. Hopefully, by next week!

French Onion Mashed Potato Soup

Makes about 2-3 servings

Ingredients:

4 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 large onions, sliced thin
1 garlic clove, minced
1 bay leaf
1 thyme sprig
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ c. red wine
1 ½ tbsp. flour
1 qt. beef broth
1 baguette, sliced
2 slices muenster cheese
mashed potatoes (recipe below)

Instructions:

  1. In a medium pot over medium heat, melt butter. Add the onions, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until onions are caramelized, about 30 minutes.
  2. Add the wine and cook until the wine evaporates and the onions are dry.
  3. Discard the bay leaf and thyme spring. Stir in flour.
  4. Cook the flour over low heat for about 2-3 minutes (do not burn the flour).
  5. Slowly add in the beef broth while stirring.
  6. Simmer the soup for about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper if needed.
  7. Preheat your broiler. Fill your soup bowl or crock bowls with the soup.
  8. Place a large baguette slice in the center of the soup.
  9. Fill a piping bag fitted with large frosting tip with the mashed potato. (I used one with a lot of teeth hoping that it would make a pretty presentation with the toasted edges, but once the cheese covered it, it didn’t matter. So, any large cake tip will work.)
  10. Pipe around the floating slice of baguette.
  11. Place a slice of cheese on each bowl and broil until the cheese gets nice and toasty.
  12. Serve hot.

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients:

2 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed
1 stick butter, melted
1 c. heavy cream, divided
about ½ c. low-sodium chicken stock
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook potatoes until tender and easily pierced with a fork.
  2. Drain and peel potatoes under cool running water.
  3. Pass potatoes through a ricer into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
  4. Add the melted butter and half of cream.
  5. Whip on low speed until cream and butter are incorporated. Move to a higher speed and whip until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute.
  6. Adjust the taste and consistency with more heavy cream or chicken stock.
  7. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Serve warm.

French onion soup recipe adapted from The Food Network.
Mashed potato recipe adapted from Serious Eats.

Rainbow Caprese Salad with Spicy Balsamic Glaze

Rainbow Caprese Salad with Spicy Balsamic GlazeIt’s that time of the year where it’s not exactly summer or fall. I’m dying to wear boots and sweaters but I’m not looking forward to winter. The other day I was watching Quantico (Awesome show btw. Priyanka Chopra is absolutely stunning.), and there was a scene with slushy streets in NYC. My mind immediately curled itself up into a ball thinking, “No…… I’m not ready for another winter.”
heirloom tomatoesRainbow Caprese Salad with Spicy Balsamic GlazeLuckily, we still have some summer produce to cling on to the last whisper of summer. I found some heirloom tomatoes at Trader Joe’s this past week and they were available in so many different hues that a rainbow was the first thing that came to my mind. I’m almost embarrassed to say that nearly every ingredient that I used in this recipe is from Trader Joe’s (even the paprika!), but imo a one-stop shop is always good news.Rainbow Caprese Salad with Spicy Balsamic GlazeI love Caprese salad because it’s a solid balance of flavors. But more than half of the time, I’m disappointed when I order it in a restaurant. The ratio to tomato, cheese, basil and balsamic glaze is usually off. I suppose everyone has their own idea of what makes the perfect ratio and that’s why making it at home is the best option all around. (It’s usually cheaper too.)Rainbow Caprese Salad with Spicy Balsamic Glaze Rainbow Caprese Salad with Spicy Balsamic GlazeHeirloom tomatoes are super sweet and juicy so you want to use a very sharp knife to slice them neatly. Tip: when cutting the little tomatoes, cut them vertically (from the stem end) to get the prettiest shot of the seedy insides. I wanted to balance the sweetness with a hint of heat and it turned out well. I may be biased because I love hot sauce on almost anything and everything. Even if you forgo the spicy glaze and opt for plain balsamic vinegar, it’s still delicious since vegetables + cheese = always tasty.
Rainbow Caprese Salad with Spicy Balsamic Glaze

Rainbow Caprese Salad with Spicy Balsamic Glaze

Ingredients:

2-3 lbs. heirloom tomatoes in various colors, shapes and sizes
16 oz. fresh mozzarella
1 bunch fresh basil
extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
spicy balsamic glaze (recipe below)

Instructions:

  1. Wash and slice your tomatoes.
  2. Slice your mozzarella.
  3. Pick out the freshest leaves from your basil bunch. Save the tiny ones for garnish.
  4. Line the plate with basil leaves and top it with the mozzarella slices.
  5. Arrange the tomato slices from red to green, starting from the darkest red.
  6. Put some basil slices in between the tomatoes.
  7. Sprinkle the tomatoes lightly with salt and drizzle the olive oil.
  8. Drizzle the balsamic glaze and top with the remaining basil leaves.

Spicy Balsamic Glaze

Ingredients:
½ c. plus ½ tbsp. balsamic vinegar (6% acidity)
½ tsp. red pepper flakes (if you just want a hint of spice, dial it back to ¼ even ⅛ tsp. if you’re sensitive)
¼ tsp. smoked paprika
freshly ground black pepper
¾ tbsp. sugar

Instructions:

  1. In a small pot, add ½ c. balsamic vinegar, red pepper flakes, paprika, sugar and as much black pepper as you want.
  2. Boil down the vinegar until thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Keep a close eye on it so that it doesn’t burn.
  3. Add ½ tbsp. balsamic vinegar to up the acidity that you lost.
  4. Cool and use as desired.

Bacon Avocado Egg

Bacon Avocado EggRemember when Facebook was exclusive to profiles and writing on someone’s wall? It was a simpler past. These days, I feel like Facebook is a black hole for wasting time, especially since they made videos play automatically. Occasionally, I’ll scroll through and catch myself watching every single clip. The beauty of it is that each clip is usually short and you don’t even notice the time go by.
poached eggThis especially holds true for those “Tasty” videos. If you’re active on Facebook, then you know what I’m talking about. If you don’t, I’m referring to ridiculously short clips of (mostly) very simple recipes, done in a fraction of a time. The videography is pretty good and the food usually looks, as the name suggests, tasty.
Bacon Avocado EggSo one day, I was scrolling through and I saw a video clip of a bacon wrapped avocado that was filled with a poached egg. It wasn’t a “Tasty” video, but a clip of a restaurant’s dish. No instructions or recipes, just how they made it. After watching it once, I thought that I could do it. So without even really prepping anything, I decided to try it.
Bacon Avocado EggYes, I’ve never poached an egg and I’ve never tried to wrap an avocado with bacon before, but how hard could it be? I wish I could say it was super simple, but I was very wrong. My poached egg was a little over done, and when I tried to put it in my avocado, I realized that I happened to have a larger than average avocado with a huge pit. The egg looked a little sad in there, but I figured, “It’s alright. Let’s just wrap the thing in bacon like the video.” So I put the two halves together, and wrapped it in bacon and set it in a low heat, nonstick pan.
bacon wrapped avocadoWell, I know that bacon shrinks from cooking, but I thought I wrapped it well enough that it should hold. As soon as I turned the avocado, the avocado started sliding in half. Now, I don’t know what kind of magic they used to keep the avocado together, but no matter how carefully I turned it, the avocado started sliding more and more, loosening the bacon wrap at the same time. Frustrated, I took the whole thing out, unwrapped the half cooked bacon and stuck a few toothpicks on the outer corners of the avocado (not the center because you don’t want to pop the poached egg). Then I re-wrapped it with the partially cooked bacon, sticking it into the ends of the toothpicks that were sticking out and put it back into the pan. The bacon continued to shrink and slowly started coming off of the toothpick. So instead of the neat bacon covered avocado I wanted, I ended up with an avocado wearing a shredded bacon sweater.
Bacon Avocado EggI wondered if it was even worth putting on the blog and if I had just wasted my precious Saturday. Even if it wasn’t the perfect dish I was looking for, cut in half and served on toast with some fresh tomatoes, it still tasted great. What I learned though, was to never trust a Facebook video without real instructions.
Bacon Avocado EggBacon Avocado Egg

Ingredients:

2 eggs
1 tbsp. vinegar
1 avocado, ripe but slightly firm
4-5 strips of bacon
toasted bread (optional)
fresh tomatoes (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Fill a small shallow nonstick frying pan with water and heat until it reaches a rapid boil.
  2. While the water is heating, crack eggs into two separate small bowls.
  3. Once the water reaches a rapid boil, turn off heat and stir in 1 tbsp. of vinegar.
  4. Slide eggs carefully into the hot water, one at time and cook for 4 minutes.
  5. Once the time is up, carefully remove the eggs from the water and drain on a paper towel.
  6. Cut open the avocado in half and pop out the pit by using the blunt end of the knife. Use a spoon to scoop out the two halves.
  7. Slide the poached egg into the hollow center of one half of the avocado and line the second half of the avocado so that it is perfectly lined with the first half.
  8. Use four toothpicks to secure the four corners of the avocado, do not puncture center of the avocado, you will pop the yolk.
  9. Carefully wrap the bacon strips over the avocado, using the toothpick ends to secure the bacon.
  10. In a small nonstick pan, over medium-low heat, cook bacon on all sides of the avocado until cooked through and crisp.
  11. Serve with toasted bread and fresh tomatoes if desired. (highly recommended)

Bacon Wrapped Enoki Mushrooms and Kabocha Squash

Bacon Wrapped Enoki Mushrooms and Kabocha Squash 2It’s officially fall. Only it’s too cold for fall. Last night it was 35 degrees outside and this morning there was a chance of snow for a couple of hours. As much as I love having four seasons, I feel like fall in New Jersey only lasts a few weeks. Whenever I’m on Pinterest or on Instagram I see posts of girls in short sweater dresses with ankle boots without tights or thick coats, I ask myself, “Just where do these girls live? And how can I get myself there?”
ingredientsAlthough it may not feel so much like fall, we can certainly eat like it is. The color orange seems to be the theme of fall food. Pumpkin, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, acorn squash… all of these have orange flesh that not only taste great but are healthy too. If you’ve never tried Kabocha squash, it also has an orange flesh but is sweeter than a butternut squash. Mix that with the salty bacon and the delicate fruitiness of the Enoki mushroom, you have a winner. I added a dash of Unagi sauce on one of them and it was the perfect touch.
kabocha squash bacon enokiIt is incredibly easy to put together and you don’t even have to put in the Kabocha squash or the Unagi sauce. It can be as easy as wrapping the mushroom with the bacon and you’ll still have a crowd-pleasing appetizer that can be made on the fly.
kabocha squash baconI probably won’t be able to write another post before Thanksgiving. So, I hope you have the happiest of Thanksgivings with your loved ones this Thursday and I’m so thankful for all of you reading this. ❤
Bacon Wrapped Enoki Mushrooms and Kabocha Squash 3

Bacon Wrapped Enoki Mushrooms and Kabocha Squash

1 – 4 oz. package of Enoki mushrooms, split into 8 bundles
4 slices of bacon, halved vertically
8 slivers of Kabocha squash, raw
salt and pepper to taste
parsley, minced, for garnish
Unagi (eel) sauce, optional

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375˚F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, shiny side down.
  2. Top a bundle of mushrooms with slice of squash and very lightly sprinkle salt on top of the squash.
  3. Wrap the vegetable bundle with a slice of bacon and secure with toothpick. Repeat for the rest of the bundles.
  4. Season the bundles with pepper and roast the bundles for 15-20 minutes, until the bacon is browned and crisp.
  5. Drain bundles on paper towels and if using the unagi sauce, lightly drizzle sauce before serving.
  6. Garnish with minced parsley.

Avocado Bacon Spiralized Hotdogs

bacon avocado hotdogsIt’s rare that I find a technique that is life-changing. I love trying out new ways to do things. Mostly because they are novel and I’m always looking for ways to grow and learn in general. I’ll usually try something once or twice, but that’s about it. It’s on to the next obsession, the next trend, the next new way to do something.
spiralized bacon avocado hotdogBut this, oh man… It is such a simple technique but it makes the average hot dog 10000% tastier than what it was before. You simply stick a skewer into the sausage, take a knife and create a swirl pattern along the meat, which will result in a Slinky looking piece of meat. It does not look like much but once you cook it, the increased surface to volume ratio creates extra crisp, juicy, meaty goodness.
bacon avocado hotdogThe first time I made this on a grill, the neighboring party came over and asked what kind of meat I was cooking. Once they saw that it was just a hot dog cut up into a fancy shape, they amused at its novelty and went about their merry way. Little did I know that I was a monkey about to touch the monolith.
bacon avocado hot dogsI’ve eaten my fair share of hot dogs and this one is right at the top. Neck and neck with the deep fried hot dogs they sell at a local hot dog joint in my town. Yes, true to the busy spatula fashion, I had to jazz it up by adding bacon, avocado, Sriracha and Kewpie mayo. (Which by the way, if you can do it, you must. It is a serious flavor bomb.) But honestly, this post is really about the technique. Simply cutting it up in a spiral shape will be life changing. I promise.
bacon avocado hot dogs
Avocado Bacon Spiralized Hotdogs

Ingredients:
Hot dog sausage
Avocado, peeled and cut into thin slices
Bacon
Sriracha
Kewpie Mayo (yes, there is a difference between this and regular mayonnaise)
Potato hot dog buns
Skewers (I understand that this is not an ingredient but SO NECESSARY)

Instructions:

  1. Stick a skewer through the middle of a hot dog sausage. If it does not go straight and pokes out the side, pull it back and continue until you get it to the other end of the sausage.
  2. With a sharp knife, make a continuous spiral cut along the sausage, using the skewer as a guide to know how deep to cut the sausage.
  3. Spread a thin layer of mayo over potato hot dog buns and toast it in a heated frying pan.
  4. Remove toasted buns and cook sausage over medium heat until well browned and crispy.
  5. Remove sausages, turn heat to low and cook bacon until desired level of crispness.
  6. Top toasted hot dog bun with sausage, avocado slices, bacon, Kewpie mayo and Sriracha.
  7. Enjoy immensely.

Garlic Naan

Garlic Naan 1As much as I love trying out new restaurants and cuisines, I have a terrible habit of ordering the same menu items wherever I go. It’s not that I don’t like trying new things, I suppose I know what I like and I always crave that same dish every time. For example, at Thai restaurants it would be pad thai, chow fun at Chinese restaurants, gyro at Greek restaurants and chicken tikka masala and naan at Indian restaurants. Which brings us to today’s recipe, naan. As a lover of all things bread, fresh naan is one of those things that I can eat every day without complaint. (My waistline on the other hand is another story.) Glistening with melted garlic butter and specks of kosher salt, this buttery, chewy, slightly salty, sweet and crispy yeast bread is amazing.
Garlic Naan 4Garlic Naan 8What makes this garlic naan extra garlicky is the addition of granulated garlic to the yeast dough. That plus the chunks of fresh garlic in the melted butter makes this a flavor bomb that is just waiting to be consumed.
Garlic Naan 7 Garlic Naan 6If you’ve never worked with yeast before, I can understand why you would be wary of this recipe. Don’t be scared! Yes, the yeast can die on you but you can easily dump it out and try again if it fails. Just make sure that the filtered (don’t use tap water!) water is not over 115˚F when you add the yeast. Before I got a thermapen (Which btw, is awesome. It is worth every penny), I used to stick my finger in the water and if I didn’t have to immediately pull out my finger from the heat, I knew it was ready to go. Silly I know, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
Garlic Naan 3Cook it under the broiler for that perfectly brown, slightly charred taste that you can probably replicate on the grill. I once read that it also works well on a George Foreman grill and also a greased pan on a stovetop. I’ve tried both methods and the broiler is the best. Hands down.
Garlic Naan 5Garlic Naan

Ingredients:
1 (.25 oz) package active dry yeast
1 c. warm water* (not above 115˚F)
¼ c. sugar, divided
3 tbsp. milk
1 egg
2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
1 tbsp. granulated garlic
4 to 4 ½ c. all purpose or bread flour**
1 tbsp. garlic, minced
6 tbsp. unsalted butter

Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl, stir water, 1 tbsp sugar and yeast together until yeast is incorporated.
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer, mix 3 tbsp sugar, milk, egg, salt, garlic and 4 cups of flour until combined.
  3. Once yeast has proofed, add it to the flour mixture and mix in the standing mixer with the dough hook attachment until combined. The dough should look fairly wet.
  4. Let the dough rest for 8 minutes.
  5. With the mixer on medium-low speed, knead dough until dough is smooth and pulls away from the bowl, about 6-8 minutes. If the dough does not pull away or show signs of it at 5 minutes, add the additional ½ c. of flour ¼ c. at a time until desired consistency forms.
  6. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl, cover and let rise for 1 hour or doubled in size.
  7. On a floured surface, deflate and divide the dough into 16 even pieces and form into smooth balls.
  8. Place dough balls on a baking sheet and let rise for 30-45 minutes, or doubled in size.
  9. While the dough is rising, preheat the broiler in your oven. Line the broiling pan with a sheet of aluminum foil.
  10. In a microwave safe bowl, add the minced garlic and the butter and gently melt the butter.
  11. Once the dough has risen, flatten out the dough into a round or oval shape by gently stretching it out. The naan becomes crisper the thinner you stretch it.
  12. Place dough onto the broiler pan and cook 1-2 minutes until golden brown and slightly charred.
  13. Flip the dough over and cook for another minute or two until desired color is reached.
  14. Take naan out and while it is still hot, brush on melted garlic butter and sprinkle with kosher salt.
  15. Continue this step until all of the dough is cooked, buttered and salted.

*Make sure the water is not above 115˚F
**Both types of flour work well, but the bread flour produces a chewier naan.
***Recipe adapted from allrecipes.

Bánh Mì Quesadillas (Vietnamese Quesadillas)

Vietnamese Quesadillas 4I found something that has changed my life: cook-and-serve flour tortillas from TortillaLand. After reading this post about these tortillas, the first thing I did was do a quick search and found that the only Walmart that carried them were over 10 miles away. Now, I know 10 miles is nothing in other parts of the country, but for me? 10 miles is far, especially when there is a Walmart less than 4 miles away. I almost gave up on them, but I was haunted by their flaky, perfectly puffed up pictures and I had to have them. So I dragged my butt over to the Walmart and acquired a package of it. And as much as I wanted to have them right away, I couldn’t! I mean, yes, I could’ve tossed in a few well-chosen ingredients and called it a day, but these were special and I needed the final product to be as special as its base.
Vietnamese Quesadillas 3If you are not familiar with a bánh mì, it is a Vietnamese sandwich that is filled with meat, a mayo-based spread, cucumber, pickled carrots and daikon, cilantro, and chili peppers inside a baguette. If you’ve ever had a great bánh mì, you would know that it is an explosion of flavor and contrasting textures. In this spinoff, the mayo spread is replaced with mozzarella cheese, the bread with the tortilla and the meat with a Vietnamese fish-sauce shredded chicken.
Vietnamese Quesadillas 2Before I go on about the awesomeness of this quesadilla, I must warn you about this Vietnamese fish-sauce shredded chicken. It is a modified version of the famous Pok Pok’s wings. I’ve made the fried wings for this year’s Star Wars Day and it was the most delicious chicken wing I’ve ever put in my mouth (and I’ve had my fair share of fried chicken wings). The only downside is it will make your house smell like fish sauce. Now for some people, this might be a deal breaker but I swear to you, it is worth suffering a day of a fish sauce stink for it.
Vietnamese Quesadillas 1This is a minimum two-day project. You need a day to pickle the shredded daikon and carrots. It wouldn’t hurt to make the shredded chicken a day before either because it’s a little complicated than the average chicken recipe. But when you bite into that crispy flaky tortilla filled with warm melty cheese, garlicky chicken, tangy pickled vegetables and the crisp crunchy cucumber and jalapeño, it will make you say, “I can eat this every day of my life.” Because I did… every time I made it this week.
Vietnamese Quesadillas 2Bánh Mì Quesadillas (Vietnamese Quesadillas)

Pickled Daikon and Carrots

Ingredients:
1 large carrot
1 small daikon
2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
½ c. vinegar
¼ c. sugar
½ c. water

Instructions:

  1. At least a day before making the quesadillas, grate the carrot and daikon over the large holes in a box grater.
  2. Heat vinegar, water and sugar together until sugar dissolves.
  3. Place carrot, daikon and cilantro in a heatproof bowl and pour the vinegar mixture over the vegetables.
  4. Once cooled, marinate in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours.

Vietnamese Fish-Sauce Shredded Chicken

Ingredients:
8 large cloves of garlic
½ tsp. kosher salt
¼ c. warm water
½ c. fish sauce
½ c. sugar
1 ½ lb. chicken, cooked and shredded

Instructions:

  1. Finely mince the garlic and place into a small bowl.
  2. Sprinkle salt over it and add warm water to the bowl and stir. Let rest for 5 minutes.
  3. Pour the garlic mixture over a sieve and push the garlic to extract as much juice as possible. Reserve the garlic juice and garlic bits separately.
  4. Stir fish sauce and sugar together with the garlic juice until sugar is dissolved.
  5. In a small pot, pour a few tablespoons of oil and heat until oil shimmers.
  6. Fry the reserved garlic bits until it turns golden brown and drain on a paper towel.
  7. Add the fish sauce mixture into the small pot and simmer until it becomes a thick sauce.
  8. Once thickened, pour over the shredded chicken and mix until completely covered.
  9. Add the fried garlic pieces and mix thoroughly.

Assembly

Ingredients:
pickled daikon and carrots
Vietnamese fish-sauce shredded chicken
seedless cucumbers, sliced into thin strips
mozzarella cheese, shredded
jalapeño, sliced thinly
flour tortillas*

Instructions:

  1. Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat.
  2. Toast the tortillas on both sides. (If using the cook and serve tortilla, cook the tortilla on both sides.)
  3. Spread mozzarella cheese evenly across a tortilla and melt.
  4. Once the cheese has melted, spread the shredded chicken over half of the tortilla.
  5. Layer the pickled daikon and carrots, followed by the cucumber and then the jalapeños.
  6. Fold tortilla in half and press down to secure the fillings.
  7. Remove from pan and cut into wedges.
  8. Enjoy

I highly recommend the cook-and-serve flour tortillas from TortillaLand.
** Picked daikon and carrot adapted from All Recipes.
*** Vietnamese fish-sauce shredded chicken adapted from Pok Pok by Andy Ricker.