Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from Dish-Gracepoint Fellowship Church. Hope you're having a good time at home with family during this break.

Better Brownies

Quick Look_______________

One time when our group (acts2fellowship gold) went to Sierra Lodge last year, we made 20lbs of brownies for a late night snack! While making it in bulk, we stumbled upon the secret of making them really good. People liked it so much we finished it all (20lbs for 40 people or 5 servings each). Since then we made it a few more times and refined the process and made it for a few other events at Gracepoint Fellowship Church. The result is moist, fudgy brownies with a rich chocolate flavor. You can use whatever brand you like. I personally like Krusteaz, but Ghiradelli is good too.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 1/2 - 1 hour
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Labor Intensity: Could do by yourself, but 2-3 helpers would be good.
  • 30 servings, adjust by 1.5x if your group tends to eat multiple servings.

Ingredients_______________

  • 3 boxes of brownie mix (about $2/box)
  • Water
  • Eggs (if needed)
  • Oil (if needed)
  • Powdered sugar (optional)
  • Total: about $5-10

Directions_______________

  • Preheat the oven as directed on the box.
  • Grease a 13 by 9 by 2-inch pan(s) or whatever size pan you have.
  • Pour all the dry mix into a large bowl.
  • Pour the water, eggs, and oil into another container. Gently mix the liquids, but don't get it foamy. (I personally add a little less water than recommended, see end of post) Also use 1-2 eggs per 1lb box of mix. If it asks for more, add more yolk.
  • Add the mixed liquid to the dry mix and stir slowly and carefully. I like to go along the side walls and fold it into the center.
  • The mix should be to the point where there is very little dry powder. However, do not beat out the lumps. The mix should be very lumpy. It should look like a Nestle Crunch candy bar. Just mix the minimum amount to get it mostly hydrated.
  • Pour it into the pan and place it in the oven.
  • Check it 10 minutes before the recommended cooking time on the box. Put a toothpick in the center or a wooden chopstick and it should come out clean. In fact, I like it when it has a few moist chunks clinging onto the stick, just make sure it isn't watery.
  • Check it again 5 minutes before and pull it out when you feel it's ready. I would recommend pulling it out a little too early when it looks moist and gooey, but not liquid.
  • Allow it to cool and sprinkle powdered sugar on top (optional)

Tom's Tips and Tricks_______________

I spent a semester experimenting and thinking about how and what makes a good brownie. The 2 basic principles are (1) don't over mix it and (2) don't over cook it.

(1) We had a hard time mixing 20 lbs of brownie mix and decided to just cook what we had and it came out well. Another time we decided to beat out all the lumps and mix it for 30 minutes on an electric mixer. That was the complete opposite of what we ate. Through this experiment we determined that mixing it too much contribute to gluten formation which would make the brownie bread like. I like brownies to be fudgy.

(2) Most people overbake brownies. If you smell it from your living room, it's too late. The flavors are volatile and when you can smell them, they are released into the air and no longer in the brownie. That's why you should remove them early to keep the chocolate flavors in the brownie. That and you want to keep the brownie moist and overcooking would dry it out. The residual heat will continue to cook the brownie a little, so take it out just before it's ready. It will be ready by the time it cools down.

Manipulating the ingredients could also contribute to the quality of the brownies. Egg (particularly egg white) will make the brownie cake like (or more appropriately bread like). Yolk will not affect it. I like to withhold one egg white when I make brownies in bulk. Also, beating egg white will make it fluffy like angel food cake. I will post on this in the future. I would use 1-2 eggs for every pound of brownie mix. If the box calls for more, you can reduce the egg whites, but keep the total yolks count. For example some mixes call for 3 eggs, I use 1-2 egg whites and 3 yolks.

Next, I like to add a little less water. One time I accidentally added a little too much water and the mix became batter like. The result was a breadlike brownie. I think the excess water contributed to gluten formation. In addition, the excess water leaves in the form of steam. The steam is trapped (like the tiny pockets inside bread) in a process called "oven spring". If you add more water, you would need to leave it in longer to dry it out to the point where the toothpick is clean. This extra cooking time means more chocolate flavor is leaving the brownie.I like to reduce the water by about 10% give or take, judging by sight (this effectively means a spoonful or two) . I like to add the minimum amount of water to get it thick, hydrated, lumpy and then add a little more.

Just follow the guidelines on the box for the rest. You may need to adjust it for high altitude. Actually Sierra Lodge provides the best environment since it has a convection oven which allows it to cook quicker and high altitude which means you need to pull it out faster. The result is a deep chocolate flavor in a fudgy brownie.

I like a thicker brownie, which means more gooey soft insides, but a thinner brownie is good too if you like the chewy outside.

Variations: There are many ways to modify the basic brownie recipe.

You can add instant coffee to the mix for a richer flavor. If you substitute coffee instead of water, make sure it cools down. Don't add hot water.

I like to add crushed pecans or walnuts to the mix. You can also spread on some peanut butter on top of the batter and swirl it into the wet mix. I particularly like a little of that.

Another variation is to add fresh cooked caramel or fudge to the top (I'm not talking about the ice cream syrups, though you can use that too) halfway through the baking process.

Another variation that some people like is to add crushed red pepper into the dry mix. I could go either way on it, but some people like it.

I like to add chocolate chips, or even white chocolate chips into the mix.

If you substitute butter for the oil, reduce water a little more. Butter has water in it and will increase the water content. I prefer oil as it doesn't mix into the batter too well and forms little micelle like packets.

[Possible side dish] Milk and ice cream!

Gluten

This week's dish gracepoint food science lesson is about gluten. When you eat French bread, there is a chewy texture where the starches feel like they are made of long chewy strands.

There are two proteins in flour that interact when hydrated and form gluten. When you mix around the dough (in a process called kneading) you allow the gluten to interact with other gluten molecules and form an extensive network. CO2 gets trapped in this framework and that's the basic principle behind bread. The more you mix and move around the flour, the more the gluten network develops. This is desirable when making French bread, but bad when you don't want gluten as in pie crusts. Since gluten requires hydration, you can add fats to prevent this. Shortening (hydrogenated oil / crisco) gets it's name from it's ability to "shorten" the length of gluten strands. The fat gets between the gluten and doesn't allow the molecules to interact. It's particularly effective when you add fats first and mix it in. That way the flour gets coated with oil and is "water proofed" to prevent gluten formation.

Application:
Understanding these principles allows us to manipulate food to get the desired consistency. In my next post I will talk about how you can use this knowledge to make what I (and many others) feel is the BEST BROWNIES I've ever had.

Bread Pudding

Quick Look_______________

This recipe comes from Carlton Fong from Gracepoint Fellowship Church - Austin and he told me it was really popular there. I recently wrote a post on stale bread, but sometimes it's just beyond repair. In that situation you can turn it into bread pudding. Or another good situation is when you have too much leftover from a dinner or trip, you can allow it to go stale and use it for a future dessert. It fits perfectly into Dish-Gracepoint's philosophy on being creative and resourceful on a limited budget. If you use old bread, just make sure it isn't moldy.

*If you have fresh bread, you can cut bread into cubes and on baking pan/cookie sheet, just put in oven on low heat until the outside gets crunchy.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 1/2 - 1 hour
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Labor Intensity: Could do by yourself, but 2-3 helpers would be good.
  • 25 servings, adjust by 1.5x if your group tends to eat multiple servings.

Ingredients_______________

Bread pudding

  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • 10 large beaten eggs
  • 4 cups milk
  • 4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (I like to add a little more)
  • 6 cups cubed Italian bread, allow to stale overnight in a bowl*
  • 2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 2 cup chopped pecans (optional, but adds a nice elegance)

sauce

  • 2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (2 stick) butter, melted
  • 2 egg, beaten
  • 4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Directions_______________

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13 by 9 by 2-inch pan(s).
  • Mix together granulated sugar, eggs, and milk in a bowl; add vanilla. Pour over cubed bread and let sit for 10 minutes.
  • In another bowl, mix and crumble together brown sugar, butter, and pecans.
  • Pour bread mixture into prepared pan(s). Sprinkle brown sugar mixture over the top (I don't use the whole thing if you want it to be a little less sweet and healthier) and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until set. Remove from oven.

Sauce:

  • Mix together the granulated sugar, butter, egg, and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat.
  • Stir together until the sugar is melted. Stir well.
  • Pour over bread pudding. Serve warm or cold.

You can also serve hot off the oven with a scoop of ice cream. I would imagine this would be good with a dash of cinnamon or possibly nutmeg.

Stale Bread

This week's dish gracepoint food science tip is about retrogradation or simply put the process which stale starchy foods become soft again.

Starches (amylose and amylopectin) bind to water when cooked and it's referred to as gelatinization. When hot, there is alot of free energy which allow the molecules to move around and the gel is in a disordered state. As the gel cools, it regains structure as it crystalizes and hardens resulting in the texture known as stale bread.

To make this easier to understand... for those of you who have made rock candy or have taken o-chem lab, imagine a sugar solution that is boiling. The solution flows easily when hot. As the solution cools, the molecules start clumping together and forms crystals. By the time it's room temp, the solution is hard, brittle, and jagged. On a microscopic level the starches are doing the same thing.

Bread that is fresh out of the oven have a moist, tender quality that quickly degrades the moment it is removed from heat. This is, to a certain extent, reversible. When a gel crystalizes, it can return to it's disordered state through reheating. The starches return to a gelatinized state and the process is called retrogradation. The result is a soft, moist food that is nearly the same quality as when fresh.

Application:
So what good is all this book knowledge if you can't apply it? If you bought french bread to serve with dinner or have old bread rolls you'd like to use, you can simply place in the oven at a low temp (I usually set it to 250F) and allow it to get warm. Just watch out that it doesn't toast too much. Once the internal temperature reaches 140F, or the temperature of a roast done "medium", the starches should have softened. Another way, which is quicker but not as good, is to place it in the microwave for about 10 seconds. I actually take french bread slices and do this and it comes out soft and chewy.

This process is not just limited to bread but explains why leftover rice becomes hard once it gets old (and cold) as well as doughnuts, bagels, pastries and why pizza fresh from the oven is always better. In all of these cases, you can simply reheat in the microwave and it will be (partially) restored

It works reasonably well and gives good results, but it is limited. Every time it is heated and reheated, there is loss of moisture as it evaporates. Without water to rehydrate the food, it will not properly retrograde. That's why many people add a little water to a bowl of rice, cover it and microwave.

Marinara

Quick Look_______________

This recipe comes from Dung Tran. Our group (acts2fellowship gold) actually used a similar recipe when we went to Yosemite and alot of people liked it. It's a fairly basic sauce and it's easy to make. Use whatever noodles you like, the picture above is penne.
  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 1/2 - 1 hour
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Labor Intensity: Could do by yourself, but 3-4 helpers would be good.
  • 25 servings, adjust by 1.5x if your group tends to eat multiple servings.

Ingredients_______________

  • 1.5 cups extra virgin olive oil (I like Berkeley Bowl's Organic olive oil at $10 for a 3 cup bottle)
  • 3 bunches of garlic (about $1.50 at safeway)
  • 1 large can (6.5lbs) of diced or crushed tomatos (about $4 at costco, $5-6 at smart and final)
  • any herbs (I like sweet basil)
  • pinch of salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 6lbs of pasta (I like linguine for this, but any will do, about $5 for a 4lb pack at smart and final)
  • Total: about $25

Directions_______________

  • You will need a large stock pot.
  • Crush garlic with the side of your knife using palm of your hand.
  • Chop garlic into coarse pieces.
  • Add all the garlic to the pot
  • On low to low/medium heat add a little oil and stir until light brown.
  • Add can of tomatos and remaining oil and turn heat up to medium.
  • Add some herbs, whatever you like, to taste. I like sweet basil and a little rosemary.
  • Cook the sauce until it starts bubbling a little and turn down heat to just below bubbling, stir for about 10-20 minutes or until desired taste.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste
  • Serve with cooked pasta noodles

Tom's Tips and Tricks_______________

Use fresh garlic. I wrote a post on why it is better than pre-processed garlic. If you use the pre-peeled garlic, use about 50% more.

Make sure the oil isn't too hot, it will destroy the delicate flavors in the oil and burn the garlic.

You can use dried herbs, but fresh is better. Use what you have. Season it however you want, my personal recommendation is to make it a little salty, don't be afraid to add it, just don't go overboard. Salt tends to bring out other flavors and can make the herbs taste more intense.

The tomato sauce will be acidic, when you boil it, the acid boils off or breaks down and it becomes smoother as time goes on. Cook until it isn't sour. You could add sugar to make it less sour, but that's not as good as cooking it longer under low heat.

[Possible side dish] some kind of salad/vegetable dish, bread rolls

Meat Grades

Finals is just around the corner and I know grades are something on the minds of many students. Well this is a different kind of grade that is equally important. Beef is graded on 2 criteria: age of meat and marbling.
As the cow ages, the muscles become more developed and tougher. Also there is a change in the arrangement of fat within the animal. The fat is between the muscle fibers in a younger cow. As the cow ages, there is less fat within the muscles and all of it is stored on the outside of the muscle. The degree of fat within the muscle is called marbling. When you shop for a steak, look for speckled, spotty streaks of fat in the meat. Avoid huge chunks of fat around the perimeter. The fat melts during cooking and make the meat juicy and flavorful from the inside.

There are 8 categories of beef grade (ordered from the best)
  • Prime (young meat, very well marbled)
  • Choice (young meat, well marbled)
  • Select (young meat, lean)
  • Standard (older meat, somewhat marbled)
  • Commerical (older meat, less marbled)
  • Utility (older meat, lean)
  • Cutter (processed meat snack)
  • Canner (other uses...ie dog food)
Prime, choice, and select all come from young cows (about 3 years old or younger). The other grades come from older cows and will be tougher and less marbled. Prime accounts for about 2% of all meat and is expensive and hard to find. Choice is less marbled than prime, but still very good. Select is the leanest cut of the 3, but still from a young cow.

When you shop at Safeway, if it is not explicitly labeled then it is usually "commercial" or "utility" grade. Don't be tricked by the "rancher's reserve: tender beef" sticker. It doesn't mean anything.

Personal recommendations: Costco only sells USDA Choice beef as well as Nob Hill. When the prices are competitive or on sale, I would recommend getting meat from these 2 locations; it's usually about 3 grades higher than Safeway meat. "Select" is still good and usually about 10%-20% cheaper when you can find it.

Chicken and Pork have different grading systems, but they aren't as extensive or as critical to meat quality.

Pork noodle soup

Quick Look_______________

(The picture above is beef noodle soup from China Village) We had an Asian themed potluck a couple years ago and Greg Davis brought a pork dish that tasted similar to beef noodle soup at China Village. We adapted that recipe and created pork noodle soup. It's not the same, but it still tastes good and it's easy to make.

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 2 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Labor Intensity: Could do by yourself, but 3-4 helpers would be good.
  • 30 servings, adjust by 1.5x if your group tends to eat multiple servings.

Ingredients_______________

  • 20 lbs pork shoulder ($1.50/lb on sale at safeway)
  • 2 cup brown sugar
  • 12 cups water
  • 6 cups rice wine (1500ml) (about $3 at Asian markets)
  • 4 cups soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup sesame oil
  • 4 inch ginger root
  • 8 bunches of fresh garlic (about $4 at safeway, much cheaper at Asian markets, don't use pre-peeled)
  • 10 green onions (about $1)
  • 1/4 cup crushed red peppers
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup Chinese 5-spice powder (about $3)
  • 6 packages of thick/wide dry egg noodles (about $0.80 per package) - each package has 5 servings
  • Total: about $45

Directions_______________

  • You will need a large stock pot. It would actually be ideal to divide it into 2 pots.
  • Add water, sugar, rice wine, soy sauce, sesame oil, and red peppers to a pot and bring to a boil.
  • Cut meat into 1-2 inch cubes
  • Add meat to pot and cook for 1.5 hours.
  • While meat is cooking, cut green onions into 1/4 inch pieces, smash garlic with side of a knife, cut up ginger into thin slices (coins)
  • After meat is cooked for 1.5 hrs, remove and put it in a separate container.
  • Transfer the broth all into 1 pot and use the 2nd pot to boil water
  • Add 4 table spoons of the cinnamon and 5-spice and mix into broth.
  • Taste and add a little more cinnamon and 5-spice as needed (up to 1/2 cup total).
  • If the broth tastes bland, boil on high to reduce. See below for tips. If it is too concentrated, add water.
  • Add garlic and ginger to broth and heat on high for 5-10 minutes.
  • When water is boiling, add 1 package of noodles and drain according to package.
  • Transfer the cooked noodles to a tray.
  • Serve broth with noodles and meat in a bowl (use tongs to transfer noodles). Top with green onions

Tom's Tips and Tricks_______________

You will need large styrofoam bowls from smart and final and forks/chopsticks.

Use fresh garlic. I wrote a post on why it is better than pre-processed garlic. If you use the pre-peeled garlic, use about 50% more. Add the garlic and ginger last, it will break down from the boiling.

To reduce broth quickly, get a large pan/pot and heat on high. Add about 1 cup of liquid to the pan and it will boil off very quickly. Pour it back to the main pot. Repeat as necessary. The key is to keep the layer of liquid thin to speed up boiling.

If you want spicy broth, add more red pepper. The spicy compounds dissolve in oil so add more of the spicy oil from the top of the broth. You can also add schezuan peppercorns to make it numbing-spicy.

You may want to skim off the oil, but the authentic way to serve this dish with with the oil. The characteristic flavors are dissolved in the oil and it's critical.

If you have time, you can pan fry the meat before boiling. This will cook the blood and prevent the clotted blood particles in the soup.

Be careful when adding the cinnamon and 5-spice. Don't add too much, taste and add carefully.

[Possible side dish] some kind of salad/vegetable dish

Spice

We all know when something is spicy, but few of us actually think about the nature of the spice. In fact, there are 3 categories of spices.

  1. The first is wasabi, mustard oil, and horseradish, which is volatile and the vapors travel up the to your nasal cavity. It first stings your tongue, then it clears your sinuses.
  2. The next is found in chili pepper. It contains capsaicin which causes a burning sensation like in tabasco.
  3. The third is found in things like black pepper and Schezuan peppercorns. It is less volatile and doesn't cause the burning sensation, rather a numbing sensation. I experience this at China Village.

All spices are not created equally. To create the most potent and deadly food, you could mix all 3 types. That way you get the burning and numbing experience while your nose hurts!

The receptors that are sensitive to spice cross paths with nerves that monitor temperature. As you eat spicy foods, the brain gets confused and interprets the signal as being heat related, that's why you "feel hot" even though you're at a normal temperature. The brain panics and releases sweat to cool down the body, even though you're not hot. In addition, it also causes the body to release adrenaline which increases your heart rate, dilates your eyes, and makes your brain focused and attentive.

So what can you do when it burns and you're all sweaty? Three common recommendations are ice, milk, and bread.

  • Ice should slow down the receptors (it lowers the free energy [delta G] in the receptors and there is less signal firing in the nerves).
  • Next is milk. Spicy ingredients are usually oil based (mustard oil, chili oil). The fat in milk dissolves the spicy compounds and carries it away from the tongue. I have not tested it, but skim milk should theoretically be less effective than 2% milk. If you know of any other drink that contains fat, that would work as well. Another benefit is that it is cold, which works in a similar way to ice.
  • Bread soaks up things through capillary action, like a sponge. It soaks up liquid with the spicy compounds and carries it off as you swallow it.

Another way to avoid spice is that since it is often dissolved in oil, you can remove the oily layer in spicy foods. You can skim the oil layer on top of beef noodle soup and most of the spice will go with it. The watery part contains some remnants, but is much less potent in general. You can take advantage of this by taking extra oil from the beef noodle soup if you want it spicier or add more chili oil.

If you don't remove the compounds, they accumulate on your tongue. That's why the burning feeling builds up as you eat more. After sustained firing, the nerves get depleted of neurotransmitters and the signal firing slows down. That's why after a critical threshold, you don't feel the spice and your tongue "becomes numb" and insensitive to spice. This is a common experience at China Village.

One final warning is that capsaicin can be absorbed through other tissues. It can be absorbed through skin and especially the eyes (like pepper spray). If you are cooking peppers and say you cut an onion for the dish and you tear up....DO NOT TOUCH/WIPE YOUR EYES. The eyes are particularly sensitive and it doesn't take much to get an intense burning feeling in your eyes.

Kalbi jjim

Quick Look_______________


Kalbi jiim is an easy Korean recipe when you want something special for small group. Safeway sells beef short ribs for $2.99 on sale. I went there one time and looked at it. It wasn't too meaty, but it could work. I would suggest using 2 inch cubes of beef chuck when it's on sale as a substitute. Otherwise, it's about $5-$6/lb at Korean markets!
  • Prep time: 10-20 minutes
  • Cook time: 2 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Labor Intensity: Could do by yourself.
  • 30 servings, adjust by 1.5x if your group tends to eat multiple servings.

Ingredients_______________

  • 20 lbs beef short ribs or chuck (short ribs are $2.99/lb on sale at safeway, I would suggest using beef chuck when it's under $2/lb)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 8 bunches of fresh garlic (about $4 at safeway, much cheaper at Asian markets, don't use pre-peeled)
  • 3 cups soy sauce
  • 8 green onions
  • 1 cup corn syrup (about $2)
  • Total: $ 45-$65

Directions_______________

  • Boil a large pot of water
  • Add meat and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Remove meat and drain liquid. Rinse off all the oil and brown, clotted blood.
  • Put the meat back into the pot and add 20 cups (1.25 gallons) water
  • Add 3 cups soy sauce and 1 cup brown sugar and heat on high until boiling, then reduce to gentle simmer.
  • Peel 8 bunches of garlic (it's a lot, I don't mean individual cloves, but bunches of cloves)
  • You can put the side of a knife on top of the garlic and press against the side of the knife to smash the garlic. It's easier to peel that way.
  • Chop the garlic into pieces, you can do coarse or fine cut pieces, just break it up
  • Add garlic to pot
  • Allow to cook at a gentle simmer for 2 hours with no lid. It should be gently bubbling still (the surface should not be still)
  • After 2 hours and when the meat is tender, pour 1/2 of the liquid into another pot and discard the rest. Remove excess oil with serving spoon or ladle. Boil the liquid until it reduces to half of it's original volume on high heat. It should be about 20-30 minutes.
  • If possible, pour liquid into multiple frying pans to increase surface area to speed up reduction.
  • Add chopped green onions and corn syrup to the reduced sauce.
  • Transfer the meat onto the reduced sauce.

Tom's Tips and Tricks_______________

It will be difficult to make this in 1 large pot. I would suggest 2-4 smaller pots to distribute all the food. The beef should be single rib bones about 2 inches long. If it is 2 or 3 bones, cut into 1 bone pieces.
Use fresh garlic. I wrote a post on why it is better than pre-processed garlic. If you use the pre-peeled garlic, use about 50% more. You can also add onions and ginger if you like.
It should be very tender after 2 hours of simmering. If you want it fall-apart-when-you-touch-it tender, let it simmer a bit longer until it reaches desired tenderness. I personally have let it simmer for 5+ hours.
If you cook meat with a gentle simmer, it will be much juicier than if you turn the heat all the way up and cook it for a shorter period. If you are a little below boiling temp, it is much more gentle on the meat and the fibers aren't destroyed so aggressively. Sometimes you can get fully cooked, tender meat that has just a hint of pink in the center (like medium to medium-well). That is actually the best way to cook the beef.
The way I like to do the last steps is to pour the liquid out to a few large pans/skillets and boil it until it reaches half volume. Using 3-4 burners will speed up the process. It should still be liquidy, but not watery. Check flavor. It shouldn't be too concentrated. I then pour this into the large pot and stir it around. I like slightly concentrated flavors in the sauce as opposed to the watery ones that naturally form.
[Possible side dish] rice and any Korean side dish...kimchi?

Ripe fruits

As fruits ripen, a gas called ethylene (C2H4) is released. The effect is amplified as this gas stimulates ripening (positive feedback loop) and more ethylene production. Additionally, it will promote ripening of fruit nearby. Bananas and apples tend to release alot of this gas. You can take advantage of this in 2 ways.

1. Take a ripe banana and place it in a bag with unripe fruit. It could be hard avacados, green bananas, or any other unripe fruit. The gas stimulates the conversion of starch to sugars, making the fruit softer and sweeter. Keeping it in a warm closed bag will cause build up of ethylene, which will ripen fruit and produce more ethylene.

2. To slow down ripening of fruit, say you want to use fresh bananas in a pie next week, you can keep it well ventilated and away from ripe fruit.

But don't expect miracles, it still takes a while to ripen fully green bananas, but it can help. Also remember that the faster it ripens, the faster it will spoil. Use it while ripe before it rots!

Kalbi Tang (Korean Short Rib Soup)

Quick Look_______________

This is an easy, cheap and flexible dish that can be used to win the hearts of Korean and Chinese alike (Koreans will comment on the good home-cooking and often times this is Chinese people's favorite Korean dish). The clean simplicity of unadulterated beef broth coupled with I'll go over how to make it the traditional Korean way (ironically, I've taught many Koreans how to make this soup), and I'll also offer some different options that may be easier. What's great about this dish is you can initially cook it the night before and finish it off the next day, or you can throw everything in the pot, let it cook, and start preparing other dishes or go away and come back after an hour. It's also great for storage to eat over the course of the week, or to present to someone in a large kim-chi jar as a care package (I've never done this, but I couldn't imagine something that says "I care" better than giving a jar of kalbi tang to a sick brother).

Ingredients_______________

  • 1/3 lb./person: kalbi for soup (don't buy the expensive kind you use for bbq, usually these are rough cuts that are cheaper)
  • Water
  • 6 Peeled Garlic cloves
  • One large onion (optional)
  • 1 large Mu (daikon radish, optional)
  • Pepper
  • Coarse Salt (sea salt or kosher salt)
  • Diced green onion (for self-serve garnish)
Optional:
  • 1-2 Jalapeno Peppers for a spicy kick
  • Egg
  • Clear Korean Vermicelli noodles

Directions_______________

  • Soak the kalbi in water for a few hours. This is to drain out the blood so that when you cook it the blood doesn't come out and congeal into that gunky stuff that floats around and accumulates on the side of the pot. It tastes fine, but it just doesn't look as good. If you buy the kalbi when it is on sale, and then freeze it, you can defrost it by soaking it in water overnight so that it defrosts faster and drains blood too. You may need to pour out the water+blood and add more water a few times.
  • Start boiling water in the pot and add the kalbi. Some people would throw out the first batch of water when it starts boiling and rinse the meat and pot off because it will contain
    some of the initial oil and leftover blood, but I think it's not necessary. It's up to you, and if you didn't get a chance to drain the blood out of the kalbi (freshly bought) it might be good to do this.
  • When the water starts boiling (after you might have dumped the first batch of water) add the garlic cloves, the whole onion (peeled and with the ends cut off) and the jalapeno. Add some salt and pepper. It's better to under salt, and have people salt to taste later on.
  • Boil for about one hour.
  • Cool in order to remove the fat that has boiled off the kalbi. There are a number of ways to do this. One way would be to let it cool overnight, or to let it cool slightly so it isn't scalding hot, then put the whole pot into the refrigerator. Another way would be to put the whole pot into a sink half filled with cold water (changing the water when it gets warm),position a fan so it's blowing on it, and adding ice to the soup. When it cools enough you should start to see thick white chunks of lard floating around. Fish these out and discard.
    (Or save it for making carnitas!) If you let it cool in the refrigerator, it should be a thick white disc that you can easily take off (depending on how much kalbi you used, you will have more or less lard). What you end up with is a cool, fat-free (relatively), slightly viscous broth.
  • You can store this in a large kim-chi container to heat up and eat as you will, or you can start to reheat it for serving.
  • When you reheat it, add the Mu (should be cut up into half crescents about 1/3-inch thick) so that the Mu can cook, and you should heat that for roughly half an hour. If you are adding the vermicelli noodles, now is the time.
  • When you're going to serve it, add the egg to the soup and beat it so that it becomes stringy. Allow people to garnish with green onion and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve this with kim chi, kim (Korean roasted seaweed), other Korean side-dishes, and hot rice for a delicious, simple, healthy meal.2 inch steaks and grill or pan fry.

Josh's Tips_______________

If pressed for time, you can skim some of the fat off the top of the soup with a ladle instead of letting it cool overnight. Some people say that putting a piece of bread on top will soak up all the oil. I haven't tried this, but that sounds like a tasty piece of bread! You don't have to skim the fat off the top if it isn't too much. It really depends on how much fatis on the meat. It's ok if there are some oil bubbles on top. But if you don't see any oil bubbles, either there is zero fat, or there is a giant layer of oil on top. One thing you can do is cook beef ribs and turn the broth into kalbi tang. Do the same procedures except take the ribs out after an hour and prepare them to be baked or grilled. You'll wind up with two delicious dishes! You can also make a similar soup (slight taste difference, but it's still good) with different cuts of beef that are on sale. I would recommend 7 bone chuck roast or a chuck pot roast. Anything that either is close to the bone and has fat but is usually tough so that it is tasty and tender when boiled. Lean stringy cuts won't taste good, though the soup broth itself will be good as long as you use beef. Something that I haven't tried(probably due to the mad cow scare) but might be good would be to use a beef neck bone as it contains the gelatin that would make the soup more viscous and substantial. The actual amount of meat is variable, and it just depends on budget/ how much meat you want to eat with the broth.

Cutting boards: Wood vs Plastic

This debate comes up every now and then... is there a difference between wood and plastic and reason enough to choose one over the other?

Wood
Pros: Anti-microbial
Cons: Cost, weight, could damage knives

Plastic
Pros: Cheaper, lighter
Cons: Wears down quicker, could trap bacteria and spread to other foods

The main difference in the two is that wood is porous so capillary action causes the microbes to be pulled into the wood, away from the surface and the bacteria gradually die inside rather than multiply. When you cut plastic boards, you may notice that after a while there will be slight grooves that form as you wear down the board and cut into the plastic. These areas aren't always thoroughly cleaned and bacteria are able to live and multiply there, especially in the microscopic cuts. This is especially a problem if you use the same cutting board for meat and vegetables where cross contamination could happen. What some people do is designate one side of the board for meat and the other for vegetables and flip it over.

You can clean wooden board and then microwave it to kill everything. Don't over heat it or it could damage it. Plastic boards can withstand cleaning chemicals better than wood so you can bleach these boards to kill everything.

Depending on the board and how hard it is compared to the knife blade, it could dull the knife over time. Very hard woods and glass boards could do this so be careful. Remember it has a finite life. If the plastic is badly damaged, throw it out.

Otherwise, they both get the job done. Just make sure you clean it thoroughly...... Unless you like salmonella

Dish-Gracepoint Kitchen tool of the month: Cutting board


The kitchen tool of the month for dish-gracepoint for the month of October is a cutting board to complement the chef's knife from last month. There are many good cutting boards out there and many of them can do the job adequately. Here are some things to consider:

1. Thickness - Many plastic boards tend to bend over time, a thick board will last longer
2. Weight - I generally like thick heavy boards, but you need to find a compromise between durability and convenience. A heavy board may be a hassle to take out and move around for smaller tasks. We also use a smaller one for those times.
3. Material - Wood vs plastic. I'm going to post on the differences later. Plastics tend to be cheaper and lighter. In addition, if the board is too hard, it can dull the knife and even damage it.
4. Size - Make sure it's big enough for whatever you need it for. Having an extra large cutting board makes food prep a lot easier.
5. Purpose - In a kitchen sometimes there are different cutting boards for different tasks: red for raw meat, tan for cooked meats, white for dairy, blue for seafood, green for fruits/vegetables and yellow for poultry so that cross-contamination could be prevented.

Spinach dip

Quick Look_______________

After Bible studies when a light snack is needed one easy dish that we do often is bread and spinach dip. It's fairly easy and people like it. You can buy premade spinach dip from Safeway or Costco or you can make your own!
  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: None
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Labor Intensity: You can do on your own very easily!
  • 30 servings, adjust by 1.5x if your group tends to eat multiple servings.

Ingredients_______________

  • 6 packages frozen chopped spinach (8 oz each)
  • (3) 32-oz cartons of sour cream (about $3 each on sale) (smart and final should sell large cans for less)
  • 6 packages Knorr vegetable soup mix
  • 6 cans finely chopped water chestnuts
  • Total: $Not much

Directions_______________

  • Thaw the spinach by taking it out of the package and soaking it in hot water in a bowl.
  • While spinach thaws, mix the Knorr vegetable soup mix and sour cream together.
  • Chop the water chestnuts and mix them into the sour cream mixture
  • Then strain spinach with a strainer. Press down on it with your hands so that you get as much of the water out as you can. The spinach should be pretty dry. Mix into the sour cream mixture.
  • Put it into a large bowl, and garnish with parsley if desired

Tom's Tips and Tricks_______________

You may want to allow it to chill it in the fridge before serving. You can make it thursday night and have it waiting in the fridge for friday post-Bible study activity.
One variation I like is to substitute the vegetable mix packets with (1.8 ounce) packages dry leek soup mix and/or onion soup mix. I just like the flavor of these and think it's better than the vegetable mix, but that's just personal preference.
If you want, you can also chop up a few cloves of fresh garlic and mix it in.
For a healthier alternative, you can use light sour cream and it will still give good results.
[Possible side dish] Serve with sliced baguettes, french bread, crackers...etc. I would estimate 5 people per pound of bread if it is a light snack. More if people are hungry.

Baking soda vs baking powder

Whenever I bake something and the recipe calls for baking soda or baking powder, I seem to have one or the other in the kitchen and seldom the right one. Is it really different and could you just substitute them?

Baking soda (like Arm and Hammer) is pure base and will raise the pH of the mixture. It will react to acidic ingredients and will produce CO2 which will cause the mixture to rise. On it's own, it is powerless. It will impart a bitter flavor to baked goods unless neutralized.

Baking powder is baking soda combined with an acid. There are 2 types: single acting and double acting. The single acting reacts as soon as it is hydrated and starts producing gas. You should start baking immediately after mixing this in. Double acting is delayed and will start when hydrated and continue reacting once heated up in the oven. Baking powder is more or less neutral and will not flavor the food so much. Remember: acid is sour and base is bitter.

Can you substitute them? You can use baking powder at any time, it may just end up with a little extra acid and be a bit sour. You can't substitute baking soda when you need baking powder, especially when the mixture is not acidic. So what does this mean? I personally would buy baking powder when shopping because it's more versatile, but in general get what you need and follow the recipe.

French Onion Soup

Quick Look_______________


This is a great, easy, cheap, flexible meal that can either be "enhanced" (with extra meat) enough for a main course (add a salad and some french bread or rolls), or a lighter soup to eat with another meal (without meat even!). In the past, I've boiled ribs in water to soften it up, then took out the ribs for another dish while using the broth for french onion.
  • Prep time: 20-30 minutes
  • Cook time: ~1 hour
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Labor Intensity: Easy enough to do by yourself.
  • 6-8 servings

Ingredients_______________

  • 6 Onions (~3 lb. bag, cut into slices or diced)
  • Garlic (a few cloves, minced)
  • Butter (a few tablespoons)
  • Oil (just enough)
  • Cooking wine for deglazing (burgandy will be better) or you might be able to use some unsweetened grape juice, or something acidic.
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • French bread
  • Grated cheese (traditionally parmesan)
  • Crispy fried onion (optional, you can buy the canned french fried onion, or fry yourself)
  • Meat (7-Bone chuck roast, Pot Roast, Beef Ribs, Kalbi for stew, Just about any beef can be used for this, so the cheaper the better) OR, for a cheaper version without meat, Beef Bouillon or ~3 Cans of Beef Broth)
Equipment needed____________

Large Steel Pot (it will taste better/be easier with a sturdy steel pot for french cooking, but it's not necessary. if you only have a small one, you can cook the onions and deglaze it and then move it over to a bigger pot)

Directions_______________

  • Start the butter and oil in the pot, you want about half butter/half oil, (traditional french cooking would probably use all butter, but half butter is just as good, and will be less prone to burning.
  • When butter has almost completely melted, add the onions and garlic. When it starts charring and caramelizing at the bottom, start deglazing the pot. This is what gives the french onion soup it's color and flavor. (see below for explanation on deglazing)
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add meat and water. Allow to boil for about an hour to tenderize the meat. It doesn't have to be a rapid boil.
  • Spoon out portions of soup with meat, sprinkle with cheese and eat with bread. Traditionally the bread is placed in the boil, sprinkled with cheese and then toasted on top. I find that eating the bread with the soup is good enough.

Josh's Tips_______________

For cutting mass amounts of onions: Use an "apple corer" these fit for smaller size onions. Once you cut off both ends and peel the onion, it's easy to use this to quickly cut massive amounts of onions. The only important thing is to buy small enough onions to fit the corer. Not much else to add here. I think you can use flour tortillas as well, but not sure.
"Deglazing"
Deglazing IS different from charring. Do not allow the bottom of your pot/pan to char, as it will give a burnt taste to the food/soup. Usually you deglaze when you have the leftover onion or meat that is looks like it is char. The difference is usually the taste or the amount of time it's been cooking. This comes from the sugar that is caramelized on the pot/pan. When onion starts to caramelize in french onion stew, it will form this darker substance at the bottom. The key is to use a wooden spoon to constantly "scrape" or rub the bottom of the pan after pouring in a bit of acidic liquid (many juices). If you start deglazing it before it's burning, it will be less painful and you won't need to scrape as hard. The acid helps remove the leftover bits, and you end up with a very rich, tasty broth.

Update

My peer, Josh Wang, will be joining me in posting recipes to dish-gracepoint. Keep an eye out for his recipes!

Butter vs. Margarine

To most people butter and margarine are interchangable when it comes to cooking, but is there really a large difference between the two? Butter tends to cost 2x-3x more than margarine...is it worth it?

Short answer: They are similar enough to substitute for cooking, but you shouldn't subsititute when baking.

Long answer: Butter is made of milk fat and starts with a 30% fat mixture called cream. The cream is beaten until it breaks emulsion and separates the fat and water. The result is buttermilk (water) and butter (about 80% fat with emulsion of 20% water). Margarine on the other hand is vegetable oil that is hydrogenated to trans-fat to solidify. Butter flavoring and color are added to mimic butter.

The difference is that the fatty acid composition is very different between the two. Butter is very diverse as it exist naturally. Margarine is much more homogenous in it's fatty acid profile.

Within fats, there are differences in chain length. Some are short like this: >C-/\/\/\/ while others are longer >C-/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/. Short fatty acids melt at lower temperatures while the longer ones melt at higher temperatures.

In butter, there is a range of different types of fats, some short and some long. During baking, as the mixture heats some of the butter melts and some of it stays solid at low temperatures. As the temperature rises, more and more of the butter melts. This is manipulated to produce different textures within baked goods. The remaining solid butter early in the baking process can provide support while the melted portions coat or penetrate before the mixture hardens...and so forth.

In margarine, the more uniform fatty acid length all melts within a similar temperature. So it remains solid early in baking and then all melts at once. Sometimes this is desirable as in pie crusts. The sudden melting of crisco shortening leaves a gap where it once was and within the crust are many gaps which make the crust surrounding it appear "flaky" as it is separated from the nearest crust pieces where the fat once was. Here's an illustration: F= fat, C= crust

FCFCFCFCFCFC + baking ->
CFCFCFCFCFCF

_C C C C C C
C C C C C C

and the crust can now easily be torn, appearing flaky. It really depends on the recipe which is appropriate. In baking, if it says to use butter, you should use it and so forth with margarine. Just follow directions on this one.

In cooking however, fat rarely is needed for structural support, but used for flavoring, which butter and margarine can both do. There are differences in flavor, but if you substitute one for the other in stir-fry or fried rice, the results will be less drastic.

Then there's the whole debate over trans-fat vs saturated fat... which is a whole other topic in itself... there's a lot of points and counterpoints and I'd rather not bring it up here.

Banana cream pie / banana pudding

Quick Look_______________


I love eating at Nations. They have great burgers and great pies. Our a2f group ate at the one on University in Berkeley after service one Sunday and had their banana cream pie last year. Afterwards, I was determined to learn to make it on my own. After many failures, I finally came up with a recipe I was happy with. I made it for different groups at Gracepoint Fellowship Church and in general people really liked it. It's not the same as Nations - I think they use gelatin and carrageen (algae) to give it thickness and body. I prefer using cream and flour to develop a very thick and rich flavor. I also use this recipe as a topping for my banana bread. This recipe will make 4 (8 inch) pies, with 1/8 slice per person. You may want to make more just incase people want seconds.

  • Prep time: 15-20 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: Intermediate. Getting the lumps out and the right consistency may be difficult.
  • Labor Intensity: Could do by yourself.
  • 30 servings, adjust by 1.5x if your group tends to eat multiple servings.

Ingredients_______________

  • 20 ripe bananas (about 2-3 bunches) (about $5, depending on sale price)
  • 4 (9-inch) pie tins (about $2 per pie crust)
  • 1 + 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups heavy whipping cream (about $5-6 for 8cups at costco or $5 for a quart at safeway)
  • 3 yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup corn starch
  • Total: $ 10-15

Directions_______________

  • Pour 2 cups of cream into a blender.
  • Chop up 8 bananas into 1-2 inch pieces and add to blender
  • Add sugar and salt.
  • Blend on low until bananas are finely integrated into cream- be careful not to overblend. You may get whipped cream or butter!
  • Pour into skillet with remaining cream.
  • Put on medium heat until bubbles form. Stir occasionally
  • Reduce to low heat once bubbles form
  • Pour 2 cups of flour into a separate bowl.
  • Add a few tablespoons of flour into a cup
  • Add the hot cream a spoonful at a time and mix with the flour
  • Add until a watery paste is formed and all flour is dissolved. Beat out all lumps. Don't over stir, just enough to mix everything.
  • Pour the paste back into the skillet and mix it in.
  • Repeat above steps until all 2 cups of flour is used.
  • If the mixture is still too watery, add cornstarch to cup and add a little cold water and stir. Slowly add little water until completely dissolved.
  • Pour cornstarch into skillet and stir around, a couple tablespoons at a time.
  • The final consistency should be thick pudding
  • Heat on medium until bubbles form (or at most 5 minutes) and then turn off stove.
  • Add egg yolk and stir for a few minutes to mix thoroughly.
  • Add vanilla and stir.
  • Pour filling into a bowl and place in fridge/freezer until cool.
  • Bake pie crust in oven (or use ready made crust)
  • Cut bananas into 1/3 inch coins
  • Line the bottom of the pie crust with banana slices. Pour the cooled filling over the bananas.
  • Add another layer of sliced bananas over the filling and pour filling over that.
  • Place a final layer of bananas on the top.
  • Cover with whipped cream. You can use the aerosol can or omit this step.
  • [Optional] top with sliced/slivered almonds and sprinkle the center lightly with cinnamon.

Tom's Tips and Tricks_______________

Depending on size and depth of pie tin, size of banana, and how much you decide to fill, you may need more filling and/or more banana. This recipe is just an approximate. I would err on the side of having extra bananas. You can buy an extra bunch or two and eat it on the side if extra. Or you can top the pie with the extra bananas.

Each pie will have 3 sliced bananas and 2 bananas in the filling.

[Possible side dish] This will go great following any salty, meaty dinner.

Chicken Enchiladas

Quick Look_______________

This is part 2 of enchiladas on dishgracepoint. I recently posted beef enchiladas. They look good, but I think this recipe should save a little more time. It's very similar, but with chicken as the filling.
  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hours
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Labor Intensity: 3-4 extra people should really help.
  • 30 servings, adjust by 1.5x if your group tends to eat multiple servings.

Ingredients_______________

  • 6 pound boneless chicken breast (chicken breast is about $2/lb on sale at safeway)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 6 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  • 1 quart sour cream (about $3-5 smart and final, safeway)
  • 2 (6.5 lb) cans of enchilada sauce ($7.39 per can @ smart and final)
  • 72 white corn tortillas ($3 for 30 or $3 for 90 at costco, smart and final)
  • 12 cups (3lbs) shredded cheddar/monterey jack cheese mix. (5lbs for $14 at smart and final, 1/2 lb for $2.50 at safeway)
  • Total: about $50.00

Directions_______________

  • Cut chicken into 1/2 - 1 inch cubes.
  • Heat some oil in a large skillet.
  • Stir fry chicken with salt and pepper. Add more or less to taste
  • Add garlic and fry with chicken.
  • Wrap corn tortillas in a wet paper towel and heat for 30 seconds (this is so the tortilla is soft) in the microwave.
  • Lay tortilla flat, add the chicken, 1/2 of the cheese, and sour cream into each tortilla
  • Roll it up, so it looks like a mini burrito.
  • Place in a baking tray and cover with "enchilada" sauce--I always like to use chile verde, but there are also chili rojo and others.
  • Cover sauce with cheese (be generous)
  • Bake in oven at 350 for 25-30 minutes and you're done!

Tom's Tips and Tricks_______________

Not much else to add here. I think you can use flour tortillas as well, but not sure.

Serving size is 2 tortilla's worth per person. Depending on side dishes and how hungry the audience is, I would adjust the quanitity as needed.

I would even suggest shredding 1 head of lettuce and adding it to the tortilla for texture.

[Possible side dish] Serve with tortilla chips, salsa, spanish rice, refried beans...etc

Beef Enchiladas

Quick Look_______________

I posted a request for an enchilada recipe and I got a response from Alison from SF. Thanks! I enjoy cheesy, saucy enchiladas and now I got a recipe to share. Today's post is on beef enchiladas. The next post will be on chicken enchiladas.

  • Prep time: 45 minutes
  • Cook time: 2-3 hours
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Labor Intensity: 3-4 extra people should really help.
  • 30 servings, adjust by 1.5x if your group tends to eat multiple servings.

Ingredients_______________

  • 6 pound lean beef chuck (beef chuck is about $2/lb on sale at safeway)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 6 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 (6.5lb) can diced tomatoes (about $3-4 at costco or smart and final)
  • 2 (6.5 lb) cans of enchilada sauce ($7.39 per can at smart and final)
  • 72 white corn tortillas ($3 for 30 or $3 for 90 at costco/smart and final)
  • 12 cups (3lbs) shredded cheddar/monterey jack cheese mix. (5lbs for $14 at smart and final or 1/2lb for $2.50 at safeway)
  • Total: about $50.00

Directions_______________

  • Cut beef chuck into 1 inch cubes.
  • Heat some oil in a large skillet.
  • Brown beef cubes for 10 to 12 minutes.
  • Transfer to a large stock pot.
  • Add garlic, salt, cumin, tomatoes
  • Heat to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  • When cooked very tender, cool, then shred the meat using 2 forks. Place back on heat and stir until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  • Wrap corn tortillas in a wet paper towel and heat for 30 seconds (this is so the tortilla is soft) in the microwave.
  • Lay tortilla flat, add the spicy shredded beef and cheese
  • Roll it up, so it looks like a mini burrito.
  • Place in a baking tray and cover with "enchilada" sauce--I always like to use chile verde, but there are also chili rojo and others.
  • Cover sauce with cheese (be generous)
  • Bake in oven at 350 for 25-30 minutes and you're done!

Tom's Tips and Tricks_______________

Not much else to add here. I think you can use flour tortillas as well, but not sure.

Serving size is 2 tortilla's worth per person. Depending on side dishes and how hungry the crowd is, I would adjust the quanitity as needed.

I would even suggest shredding 1 head of lettuce and adding it to the tortilla for texture.

[Possible side dish] Serve with tortilla chips, salsa, spanish rice, refried beans...etc

Fresh garlic vs processed

Are all garlic forms the same? Can you use fresh minced garlic, pre-minced garlic, whole peeled garlic, dried garlic, garlic powder all interchangeably and get the same results?

[Science lesson of the day] Garlic, like onions, get their characteristic flavor through an enzyme working on compounds in the garlic. Alliin in the garlic react with the enzyme alliinase to form allicin. Alliin is odor and flavorless, but allicin is what causes the characteristic pungent smell and taste of garlic. It is only formed when the cell is broken, as the enzyme combines with the alliin to create allicin. If you don't use the crushed garlic right away, these compounds break down and the flavor decreases. That's why if you mince garlic, leave it in the fridge/freezer for a long time, it will be much weaker than fresh.

Garlic conversion:

  • 1 fresh clove = about 2 teaspoons of minced garlic (though I personally would use a little more)

What about peeled garlic? If you look at peeled garlic, you'll see that it is slightly off white. It has a bit of a yellow tint to it. Minced garlic is practically light yellow. There's some damage to the cells that occur as the garlic is peeled and processed. The enzymatic reaction occurs and the flavors start breaking down in the store, resulting in off flavors. Rather than sprouting, like fresh garlic, pre-peeled or minced garlic produces sour flavors as it ages. There is really no substitute for fresh peeled and minced garlic from the bulb.

Dried garlic and garlic powder is processed even further and therefore much weaker per spoonful. But is there any situation you would want to use it?

Fresh peeled garlic is a hassle and time consuming. If you just need a few cloves, it's not too bad and worth it. If you need alot, you may want to go with pre-peeled and mince yourself. Some recipes even call for dried or powdered garlic. I would stay away from pre-minced. After cooking with it, I often notice a sour flavor and there isn't that pure, unadulterated garlic flavor.

Baked pasta (part2)

Quick Look_______________

I posted last time on 2-step baked ziti. This time, I'm going to post on the traditional way to prepare this dish. Technically it should take less time, but because of the extra steps, I'm not really sure if it saves a lot of time. I'm just posting another method to give more options.
  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Labor Intensity: You can do on your own or with a couple of friends.
  • 20 servings, adjust by 1.5x if your group tends to eat multiple servings.

Ingredients_______________

  • 4 lb ziti pasta ($5 at Smart and Final, you can substitute Penne or Rigatoni)
  • 104 oz pasta/spaghetti sauce ($5.29 for 6.5lb Romanella pasta sauce at Smart and Final or $8-$12 for 4 bottle of Ragu on sale)
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons Italian seasonings
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 32 oz ricotta cheese ($2.99 at Smart and Final, $6-$8 at Safeway)
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese ($2-$3 at safeway or wherever)
  • 10 (2.5lbs) cups shredded mozzarella (5lbs for $14 at Smart and Final or 1/2lb @ $2.50 on sale at safeway)
  • Total: about $25.00

Directions_______________

  • Preheat oven to 400F
  • Mix sauce, salt, pepper, seasonings, ricotta, parmesan and put aside.
  • Boil a large stockpot of water.
  • Cook noodles to al dente according to directions (usually about 9-13 minutes).
  • Drain noodles and pour 1/3 of the noodles on baking tray.
  • Pour sauce mixture over noodles.
  • Set aside 1/2 the mozzarella chese and sprinkle some over the noodles.
  • Add more noodles on top of the layer, add sauce, and cheese.
  • Repeat layers until full.
  • Cover with foil and bake for 10 minutes
  • Sprinkle remaining mozzarella cheese on the top.
  • Bake uncovered for 5-10 minutes.
  • Remove when cheese is bubbly and starts to brown on edges.

Tom's Tips and Tricks_______________

You can sprinkle cheese and broil it at the end, just watch it carefully so it doesn't burn. Or you can just let it sit and melt in the oven under "bake".

This method involves many steps. Honestly, I'd do the other method even though it will take a little longer. It requires less effort than this way. It's probably 90% of the quality for 33% of the work.

[Alternate variations] You can add 5 lbs of any kind of meat and stir it into the sauce. You can do sliced chicken breast (pan fried first), Italian sausage (don't add salt and italian seasonings to the pasta, the sausage will provide the flavor), cooked ground beef...just about any meat.

[Possible side dish] Serve with garlic bread, salad...etc

Baked pasta (part1)

Quick Look_______________

The lyrics to one of my favorite songs go like this: "Christ is amazing. Believe me, I've taste and seen He's more good than baked ziti." It's an interesting reference to scripture... after hearing it, I just had to try baked ziti. I had it at Sbarros and it's pretty good. It shares alot of the same ingredients with lasagna so it has a similar taste. The traditional recipe calls for boiling the noodles to al dente and then baking it with cheese and sauce in the oven. It's a good recipe but a little labor intensive. I'm going to modify it to cut down the work and reduce the clean up, at the cost of extending the time in oven - a fair exchange. This recipe is different from normal because it yields 20 servings. That's just how the bulk ingredients are packaged. You can double it to make 40 servings and have leftovers.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 60-75 minutes
  • Difficulty: Very easy
  • Labor Intensity: You can do on your own very easily!
  • 20 servings, adjust by 1.5x if your group tends to eat multiple servings.

Ingredients_______________

  • 4 lb ziti pasta ($5 at Smart and Final, you can substitute Penne or Rigatoni)
  • 104 oz pasta/spaghetti sauce ($5.29 for 6.5lb Romanella pasta sauce at Smart and Final or $8-$12 for 4 bottle of Ragu on sale)
  • 10 cups water
  • 1.5 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons Italian seasonings
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 32 oz ricotta cheese ($2.99 at Smart and Final, $6-$8 at Safeway)
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese ($2-$3 at safeway or wherever)
  • 10 (2.5lbs) cups shredded mozzarella (5lbs for $14 at Smart and Final or 1/2lb @ $2.50 on sale at safeway)
  • Total: about $25.00

Directions_______________

  • Preheat oven to 400F
  • Pour the sauce, ricotta, Italian seasonings, salt, pepper, parmesan, water, and half of the mozzarella into a large baking tray(s) (aluminum tray will work) and mix. Add pasta and stir it evenly.
  • Cover tightly with foil and bake for 1hr
  • Check pasta after 1 hr. If it is still undercooked, bake again 10 minutes. Repeat so forth as necessary.
  • Sprinkle remaining half of shredded mozzarella on top of the pasta and bake for another 10 minutes uncovered. (or broil it, just don't let it burn)
  • Remove when cheese is bubbly and starts to brown on edges.

Tom's Tips and Tricks_______________

To bake this volume of pasta, you may want to use aluminum trays. I would recommend using the half size trays instead of the long ones. The smaller ones expose more surface while the longer ones may have a greater chance of uncooked pasta in the center.

Due to variations in oven strength, baking trays, and volume of food, you may have to adjust cooking time. It may take anywhere from 1hr to 1.5 hrs.

You can sprinkle cheese and broil it at the end, just watch it carefully so it doesn't burn. Or you can just let it sit and melt in the oven under "bake".

[Alternate variations] You can add 5 lbs of any kind of meat and stir it in at the beginning. You can do sliced chicken breast (pan fried first), Italian sausage (don't add salt and italian seasonings to the pasta, the sausage will provide the flavor), cooked ground beef...just about any meat.

[Possible side dish] Serve with garlic bread, salad...etc

Update

I've been really sick for the last couple of weeks and getting lots of bedrest. I'm not feeling well and don't have the time or strength to write new posts for now. I'll start posting again soon....

Chicken with chipotle apple glaze

Quick Look_______________

We had this for a welcome back dinner for a summer mission trip this summer. People seemed to like it and I gave the leftovers to some Praxis, ISM, and other people from Gracepoint Fellowship Church and they liked it as well. It's a smoky, spicy, sweet glaze that's perfect over grilled/roasted meat. You can use this sauce on pork loin, chicken breast, chicken thigh... get creative. I made this by putting random ingredients and adjusting it as it was cooking and it turned out ok. You may want to adjust to your tastes according to spice and sweetness.

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 45-60 minutes
  • Difficulty: Intermediate/easy - It takes a little experience to know when the glaze is ready, namely by looking at the quality of bubbles or temperature if you have a thermometer. If in doubt, cook the sauce until it's very thick and water down at the end if necessary.
  • Labor Intensity: You can make the sauce on your own. You may want help with the chicken.
  • 30 servings, adjust by 1.5x if your group tends to eat multiple servings.

Ingredients_______________

  • 15-18lbs boneless chicken breast or thigh ($1.99/lb on sale)
  • 3 cans frozen apple juice concentrate (about $2-$2.50)
  • 2 (7 oz) cans of chipotle in adobo sauce ($2 at lucky. Also @ smart and final, I like Embasa brand)
  • sugar
  • soy sauce
  • vegetable oil
  • vinegar [apple cider vinegar optional]
  • Total: about $35.00

Directions_______________

  • Open frozen juice concentrate and pour into blender
  • Add chipotle peppers and blend.
  • Pour into a large pot. Heat on medium/high or high and stir occasionally
  • Add 3/4 cup soy sauce, 2 cups brown sugar, 2 cups sugar, 1/4 cup oil
  • Boil for about 30-45 minutes until thick and bubbly. Stir occasionally.
  • Add 1 cup vinegar and cook for 15 more minutes
  • Split the chicken breast and spread apart open.
  • Cook chicken breast over a grill or whatever method you prefer (pan fry, oven roast).
  • Dip/submerge the chicken in the sauce or brush it on and serve.

Tom's Tips and Tricks_______________

The ingredients contain too much water and we need to reduce it down to a thick sauce. That's why we use apple juice concentrate rather than the juice. If you have a candy thermometer, it should cook until 108C. You can tell by the large thick, tar like bubbles. If in doubt, cook until very thick and add water if too thick at the end.

Since we want to remove water from the sauce, it would speed things up to pour the sauce into a wide pan and stir constantly. The large surface area of the pan will boil off the water rapidly. To speed thing up even more, you can use mulitple pans to utilize all burners on the stove. The end result is a thick, gooey, tar like sauce. Add vinegar to thin it out a little and serve with meat.

[Possible side dish] Serve with rice, salad, potato salad...etc

Dish-Gracepoint Berkeley kitchen tool of the month: Chef Knife


For September, a good chef's knife is the tool of the month for Dish-Gracepoint Fellowship Church.

A key tool in any kitchen is a sharp knife. Believe it or not, a very sharp knife will actually reduce the probability of cutting yourself. How? A sharp knife will cut things in one smooth motion where a dull, cheap knife can get stuck halfway and require you to really work at it and increase the odds of accidentally cutting yourself.

The chef knife is a versatile, all-in-one knife that could be used in almost any situation.

What's my personal recommendation? I like the Henckel Twin Signature 8 inch Chef Knife. The 6 inch knife is good too, but I like the longer 8 inch blade.

What should I look for in a knife? If you get the Henckel, get the one with 2 men on the blade. The twin version is German made and the single version is made in China. There is a big difference in the two.

How should I care for the knife? Store it in a wooden block or a magnetic bar to keep it sharp. If you just throw it into a drawer, the blade comes in contact with other metals and will become dull as they move around.

Tip: As you cut, hold the meat with your left hand and instead of pressing straight down, move your knife forward as you go down (like a saw). If the blade is sharp, it will cut through most meats like a lightsaber.

7 layer dip

Quick Look_______________


Here's an easy recipe that's perfect for post-Bible study snacks. It goes well with those huge $3 bags of tortilla chips at Costco and is an effective way to eat up extra tortilla chips before they get stale.
  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 0 minutes
  • Difficulty: Very easy
  • Labor Intensity: You may want 1-2 people to help
  • 20 servings, adjust by 1.5x if your group tends to eat multiple servings.

Ingredients_______________

  • 1 ounce package taco seasoning mix (about $1-2 at safeway)
  • 16 ounce can refried beans (about $2-3)
  • 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened (about $2-3)
  • 16 ounce container sour cream (about $3-4)
  • 16 ounce jar salsa (about $3)
  • 2-3 large tomato (under $1)
  • 1 bunch green onions (under $1)
  • 6 ounce can sliced black olives (a few $)
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (about 8oz, $2-3)
  • 3 avocados (optional, usually expensive)
  • Total: about $20.00

Directions_______________

  • Pour the beans on a 13x9 baking tray
  • [optional] cut avocado and mash. Add a dash of salt and pepper. Spread on top of bean layer
  • Mix the cream cheese and sour cream in a bowl. Add the taco seasoning and mix together.
  • Spread seasoned cream on top of the beans.
  • Add a layer of salsa.
  • Chop tomato and add a layer on top
  • Chop green onions and sprinkle on top
  • Drain and sprinkle black olives over the pan
  • Top with Cheddar cheese.

Tom's Tips and Tricks_______________

You can add the 7 layers in any order you wish. If you want to double the recipe, you can use a large aluminum tray instead.

[Possible side dish] Serve with tortilla chips.

Roasted Garlic

Quick Look_______________



Roasted garlic is very easy to make and can compliment many dishes (like mashed potatoes) or be served on it's own as an appetizer.

  • Prep time: 3-5 minutes
  • Cook time: 45-60 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Labor Intensity: Could do by yourself.
  • 30 servings, adjust by 1.5x if your group tends to eat multiple servings.

Ingredients_______________

  • 10-15 whole garlic bunch (shouldn't cost much at safeway)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Some kind of herb (rosemary, thyme, oregano...etc)
  • Total: $ very little

Directions_______________

  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Peel off excess skin off the garlic by rubbing it gently. You don't need to break apart the cloves. Keep the whole set intact.
  • Slice off the root end of the bunch.
  • Pour a spoonful of oil over each bunch
  • Sprinkle lightly with salt and herb
  • Place all garlic onto baking tray
  • Add 1/8 inch water to tray (just enough for a thin layer)
  • Cover top with foil
  • Bake for 45-60 mins

Tom's Tips and Tricks_______________

If the garlic is starting to sprout a little and has a little green in the center, it's still ok. If the sprout is large, you may not want to use it. Each person can eat 1/2-1 bunch.

You can spread this on a buttered loaf of bread for garlic bread. You can also mash this into potatoes. It goes well as a side dish for steak.

The roasting makes the garlic smooth and soft. The strong pungent flavor breaks down during cooking.

[Possible side dish] Serve with potatoes or steak!

Tutorial: how to get tender meat

The three college campus fellowships of Gracepoint Fellowship Church just had the NSWN yesterday and grilled 1100lbs of meat. In a previous post, I stated that cooking the kalbi to well done actually makes it more tender. I'll explain the principles in this post.

There are 2 things that make meat tough: myosin deformation/shrinkage and overabundance of collagen. It sounds technical (and it is) but it's not too hard to grasp. Let's break it down....

Muscle fibers (myosin) shrink and compress when cooked. It's like squeezing a sponge, the water leaks out and the compressed material is dense, tough, and dry. Also, it results in a gray-brown color as the red blood cells are destroyed. This occurs when crossing from medium to well done.

I mentioned collagen in a previous post. In many cheaper cuts, there is an abundance of these tough fibers called collagen. Collagen unravels as it's cooked and forms gelatin, leaving the meat tender.

Tender cuts (like filet mignon or a good ribeye) have little collagen and will be tender. You don't want to cook it past medium if you want to keep it tender.

Tougher cuts have lots of collagen which you want to break down through heat, but you want to avoid over cooking it as it will become a bit tough. That's why I like to slow cook it until medium. The long time allows the collagen to break down, but it's kept cool enough to prevent it from becoming overdone and dry.

So why does Kalbi become more tender when fully cooked? The answer is in the marinade. There are meat tenderizers in fresh kiwi, pineapple, or papaya that break down muscle fiber. When cooked to well done, the fibers shrink, but the enzyme tears up the fibers so it's not that tough, even when bound together. The high heat helps break down the collagen further. The result is broken down collagen and muscle fibers that are broken down and not tough. The more you cook it, the more collagen you break. Just make sure it doesn't dry out. Also, the cooking process helps make it a little firm rather than chewy, easier to tear apart.

So why not add tenderizer to everything? You could buy the cheapest meats and throw in some kiwi and get tender meat. Here are the limitations... marinades cannot penetrate beyond 1/2 inch thick, so you need it thinly sliced. Next, tenderizers have a tendency to cause meat to have a "mushy" texture. we don't want our meat to be mush. The enzyme breaks down meat too much usually and there isn't enough structural toughness to chew on. Imagine the difference in tenderness between a fine steak and a piece of kalbi. The steak has substance you can chew and bite into, yet you don't have to chew much. The kalbi tears apart too easily. Tenderizers are an effective way to make cheap, thin cuts of meat tender, but you can't replace the tenderness of a good ribeye steak.

Fresh whipped cream

Quick Look_______________


There's nothing quite as sweet as good Christian fellowship, like at Gracepoint Berkeley, but fresh whipped cream is still pretty nice :) . If the only thing you ever had was the aerosol can type or Cool Whip, then you haven't experienced true whipped cream. I like to serve it with fresh strawberries, on top of pies, and cakes/shortcakes. It's a fun dessert to serve at small group or home group. [DISCLAIMER: this is not necessarily healthy! Make at your own discretion!]

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 0 minutes
  • Difficulty: Intermediate/Easy - Don't overbeat it or underbeat it.
  • Labor Intensity: Could do by yourself
  • 30 servings, adjust by 1.5x if your group tends to eat multiple servings.

Ingredients_______________

  • 1 quart heavy whipping cream (about $4 at safeway or $5 for 1/2 gallon at costco)
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar (you can use normal white sugar if that's all you have)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
  • Total: about $4.00

Directions_______________

  • Chill cream in fridge
  • Freeze a metal bowl (if you have one) and mixer beaters in freezer for 15 minutes
  • Pour cream to cold bowl and add sugar
  • Beat on high speed until it forms stiff peaks. (more info below)
  • Add more sugar if desired and mix into cream.
  • Chill in fridge or briefly in freezer before serving

Tom's Tips and Tricks_______________

You can use a cheap hand mixer or a large stand mixer. They will both work for this. If using a hand mixer, move up and down, side to side. Try to use a bowl that will submerge the beaters. A tall, narrow container like tupperware may work well.

Stiff peaks is a term that's used to describe what the cream looks like. Beat it for a while and when you stop it should hold it's form. If the cream settles back into a bubbly liquid, it's not ready. If it holds it's form (ridges and little peaks) and slowly starts collapsing to even out, it's called soft peaks. When it holds it's form after you stop and retains it's shape, it's called stiff peaks and it's ready.

When you overbeat it, it will break emulsion and the fat and water will separate. The fat will make hard clumps and you get butter! If you see hard clumps, you overbeat it. The sugar actually protects the cream by interfering with the whipping process. It slows everything down so you have to beat it for a very long time to overbeat. It also means it will take longer to get to stiff peaks.

Here's a video on you tube that explains the process: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGprjY12_Sg

[Alternate variation] You can add a 1/2 tsp of almond extract. I like to even substitute the sugar with a little cherry syrup found in a jar of Maraschino cherries. 1 tsp of sugar is 4 grams, just figure out how much sugar is in the syrup and do the conversion.

[Possible side dish] Serve with fresh strawberries or on any fruit plate. You can also serve with pancakes.

Tutorial: How to cut onions without crying

When it comes to cooking, it's not just recipes. There's some things you can learn which can make cooking a more enjoyable experience.

[Science lesson of the day] Onions contain an enzyme called alliinase which react with sulfur compounds in the onions. When the cells are broken, the compounds are free to mix together - its similar to when you snap a glow stick and the 2 liquids are free to mix and it starts giving off light. The reaction between the enzyme and onion results in gases that are released into the air and dissolve in your eyes, forming sulfuric acid. The acid stings and irritates the tissues and causes you to tear up to dilute the acid.

How can you prevent this?

  1. If you cut an onion underwater or under running water in a sink, the gases dissolve into the water instead of your eyes.
  2. If you chill the onion before cutting, it will have less free energy for the enzyme to react. If you remember from CHEM 1A, rate of reactions double every 10C. That means a chilled onion will be 4 times slower enzymatically than a room temperature one and should produce less tear inducing gas.

If all else fails, you can wear goggles to shield your eyes.....or ask one of your friends to cut the onion for you :)

Kalbi BBQ

Quick Look_______________



The 3 college ministries of Gracepoint Fellowship Church (acts 2 fellowship, koinonia, kairos) go into hypermode as we prepare for the upcoming school year. One signature dish that we have been doing for years is Korean bbq, serving meat called Kalbi. The picture above is some brothers grilling the 1000+ lbs that we do for the UC Berkeley campus. The good news is that you don't have to wait for New Student Welcome Night to enjoy this tasty meat...
  • Prep time: 10-15 minutes
  • Cook time: 30-45 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Labor Intensity: Could do by yourself, but why not call some friends over?
  • 30 servings, adjust by 1.5x if your group tends to eat multiple servings.

Ingredients_______________

  • 6 cups soy sauce
  • 6 cups sugar
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 large onion (under $1 at safeway)
  • 2 bunch green onions ($1 safeway)
  • 1 Kiwi ($0.50 safeway)
  • 30 peeled cloves of garlic (about 1 lb at ranch/koreana for $2)
  • 25 lb short ribs or beef chuck (you need to cut chuck 1/2 inch thin) (chuck is about $2/lb on sale)
  • Total: about $55

Directions_______________

  • Chop onions into 2 inch pieces that will fit into a blender
  • Chop off the root tips of the green onion and put in blender
  • Peel the kiwi, or cut in half and squeeze the insides into a blender.
  • Add garlic to blender
  • Fill with enough of the soy sauce to fill blender 1/2 way, you may have to add above ingredients in multiple batches.
  • Blend everything.
  • Pour all ingredients (except meat) into a large bucket or stockpot.
  • Mix everything to make it homogenous.
  • Cut the meat thin (it should be no thicker than 1/2 inch at most) This may require time and labor.
  • Put the meat into large ziplock bags or large plastic tupperware. Avoid storing in metal containers as it may react with the meat.
  • Pour enough marinade to submerge meat. You may need to make more.
  • Squeeze out all air and seal ziplock if you store it that way
  • Store overnight in fridge.
  • Grill meat over flame or you can pan fry it on a stove.

Tom's Tips and Tricks_______________

Cook the meat to well-done. It seems counter-intuitive, but because of the nature of the meat and the way it was marinated, it reaches optimal tenderness when fully cooked, just don't overcook to the point of burning or drying out.
Beef chuck is the cheapest way to go. Just cut it thin, it may be difficult and time consuming. Be careful not to cut yourself. You can buy the actual kalbi short rib at Chinese markets, like ranch, for about $3/lb on sale.
[Possible side dish] Rice, salad, bread rolls

Nutella-Banana wontons

Quick Look_______________



This is an easy desert snack and another way you can get rid of over-ripe bananas. Nutella is a chocolate hazelnut spread and it turn warm and gooey in this fried wonton. It's like those sweet nutella crepes you see on Telegraph, but crunchier! You can make this with your small group and it'd be something fun to do after Bible studies!

  • Prep time: 10-15 minutes
  • Cook time: 10-30 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Labor Intensity: Could do by yourself, more fun to work with a few others.
  • 30 servings, adjust by 1.5x if your group tends to eat multiple servings.

Ingredients_______________

  • 1-2 jar(s) of Nutella [in the peanut butter section of safeway for about $4]
  • Wonton skins [about $2 at safeway] - get about 60-90 skins
  • 1 bunch ripe bananas [about $2 at safeway]
  • 1 egg
  • vegetable oil
  • Powdered sugar [optional]
  • Total: about $8.00

Directions_______________

  • Cut the bananas into 1/2 inch coins.
  • Crack and mix an egg in a bowl.
  • Pour 1 inch of oil in a pan/pot and place on medium heat.
  • Spoon a little nutella and a banana slice into the center of a wonton skin.
  • Brush egg on the edge of the wonton.
  • Fold the wonton diagonally and pinch edges to seal it tightly.
  • Fry wonton until it turns light brown. You may need to flip over if not submerged
  • Remove from oil and sprinkle powdered sugar on top [optional]
  • Allow it to cool for 3-5 minutes before serving, inside may be very hot!

Tom's Tips and Tricks_______________

Don't overfill the wonton, it will burst and spill out into the oil. I would err on the side of underfilling them. You can try a few and then adjust accordingly to figure out how much is the optimal level.

Make sure the oil isn't too hot and burn the wonton. Turn down heat as necessary. Pull it out when it turns 1 shade lighter than you want. It continues to cook after you remove it from oil. If it looks the right color in oil, it will be too dark when you pull it out.

[Possible side dish] If adventurous, you can serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!