Carrot cake recipe

So I finally got down to trying the carrot cake recipe Leslie Tay shared one day while we were craving a nice hot plate of golden carrot cake. I’ve tried making this in Ithaca once and failed completely. This time around I used the right recipe and the results were tremendous! So as not to confuse my non-singaporean readers, the carrot cake I’m referring to is a savoury entree in Singapore that is really made with daikon radish (occasionally carrot) – in chinese the words for carrot and daikon is just a matter of tacking on a color at the beginning, i.e. radish = white carrot. So we call this carrot cake but it’s nothing like the cream cheese slathered confection you guys have.

The white version with XO sauce looks like this.

The recipe is easy to follow, uses ingredients that are easily found in a supermarket (don’t get tripped up on “wheat flour”, that just means regular all-purpose flour), and tastes amazing.

I had my trusty sous chef julienne the radish up into matchsticks:
(better than grating them, so you don’t lose their juice)

and this is us pouring the rice slurry mixture into the radish broth. I boiled 900ml of water with ikan bilis (dried anchovies), chicken stock, and also dashi granules to get that full umami flavour before dumping my radish matchsticks in to boil for about 5 minutes, then I added the flour slurry. While his recipe is a little ambiguous, the flour slurry is meant to be added while the stock and the boiled radish is on the stove, and then you stir it to cook it down into a paste.

Here’s the white version without XO sauce:

And the black version with kecap manis and dark soy sauce

The closest equivalent in the states is usually called pan-fried turnip cake on dim sum menus, but this is way better because of the egg and salted radish that goes into it. I’m pretty tempted to set up a popup stall at the Fremont Sunday market selling this :P I think people would be willing to pay $8 a plate. If anyone would like to sponsor/invest in a pop up stall please let me know :P I’m a pretty unreliable chef though because I can’t make it on sundays if homework is due the next day :P
You can get the one-page printable recipe for Carrot Cake here!


Dinner Take-out from O’ Ginger, Green Lake (Groupon restaurant)

So we bought a groupon for this restaurant ($12 for $20 of food) since it was so near to our place. And you can use the groupon for takeout! That’s really awesome. They also seem to do a bunch of south east asian food (as you can see in what we ordered):
Laksa – this isn’t all that similar to the laksa we get in singapore – there’s not much of a haybee taste and they seem to have added minced chicken or minced pork to it (!?!?) but it was good enough to satisfy a craving. The noodles used are also a little thinner that the normal chu mi fen that laksa requires, but I’ll look past that. They didn’t serve it with an egg but they did serve it with beansprouts and shrimp. They left the shrimp in the soup though (we ordered takeout so they separated the broth from the noodles). They should have put the shrimp with the noodles of course but that’s just nitpicking – I bet the shrimp was already overcooked before they decided to leave it in the curry.

Their roti canai is an appetizer an is served with some condensed milk/mayonnaise mix, the same exact sauce that they serve with their honey walnut prawns (see below), which is kind of disappointing. How does roti canai go with that? The only sauce roti canai should be served with is fish curry. The roti canai also tasted pretty much like they warmed it from frozen packets that you can buy at any asian grocery store.

The honey walnut prawns were pretty nice but I thought the sauce was too gloopy and thick – a lighter, more fragrant, even citrusy sauce would take the dish to the next level, not this toothpaste like consistency that glued the prawns together.

Well, I enjoyed the food (mostly) and would probably order from them again.


Takeaway from Chef Liao’s

This is fast becoming one of my favourite chinese restaurants in the area. I’ve ordered from them only once before and they are always difficult to get on the line and the wait is about 40 minutes for them to prepare your food. The place is ridiculously popular and also understaffed.

We had their “paper wrapped” chicken, which was more like little chicken breast fingers wrapped in aluminium foil. It was actually really tasty! (Especially those black carcinogenic bits in the foil) And quite reasonably priced too, at $6-7.

We ordered the Yang zhou fried rice which comes with chopped up chinese sausage. I am not a fan of most cured chinese meats (except bak kwa). I had to pick all the little buggers out! They were certainly generous with the sausage. I felt like the yang zhou fried rice didn’t have enough wok hei though. It was a humongous portion, we basically split this meal across lunch and dinner.

The shrimp in lobster sauce is really good. It has lots of wispy little egg white fragment in the sauce as well as salty black beans and salt pork strips. `I loved it. The shrimp in this are also pretty jumbo, and the sauce is really flavourful (the kind that would require quite a bit of heavy duty mincing of garlic and ginger to get it to be that fragrant)

If you want to order from here, make sure you call about 1 hour in advance of when you actually want to eat. They tend not to pick up the phone too often/the phone line is always busy.


Lunch from The Boar’s Nest, Ballard

On another one of those (increasingly many) lazy stay-at-home days when I sent Ze out to buy some Louisiana BBQ back for lunch from the Boar’s Nest. I was just randomly surfing the restaurants on Eat24 when this came up. Everything sounded really good but I think the taste turned out to be pretty average-mediocre.

Their corn bread. The best corn bread I’ve had is still at Kenny Rogers. This was not moist enough (I guess you’d need to butter it liberally and they DO provide the melted butter)

Onion rings and mac & cheese bites – You can choose two sides with most of the things that you order. Someone recommended the onion rings because of its “shatteringly crispy batter” on Yelp. Sorry to report that the onion ring batter was nothing special, in fact it was breaded (rather thickly at that) instead of battered. The onion rings done by Kidd Valley are MUCH better.

Mac & cheese nugget cross section – stayed pretty warm all the way from Ballard back to our place. Very melty but obviously not high quality cheese.

IAre you starting to see a trend with the breading they put on.. oh, just about everything?) We got a Southern fried chicken sandwich – this had a huge chicken breast cutlet sandwiched between two buns. BUT the fried chicken breast was completely underseasoned and untasty. McDonald’s does a way better Southern chicken sandwich. They didn’t even bother adding the mayo, I had to squeeze it on myself (but they did have pickles).

We also got the “Boss Hog” – your choice of three different meats with two sides, which sounds like a lot but they do sorta portion it so it looks like it’s for one person. We didn’t finish it within one meal though and had the leftover meat for dinner after with King’s Hawaiian rolls. I opted for BBQ chicken, pulled pork, and a smoked kielbasa. The most flavourful thing here was the kielbasa. The pulled pork is tender and juicy but still a little meh on the flavour. The BBQ chicken was quite good but it looks so genetically modified and unnaturally shiny.

Well, it was worth a try. Apparently their ribs are pretty good.


Lunch at Coastal Kitchen, Capitol Hill, Seattle

Came here for our anniversary and because it had a 4 star rating on Gmaps, but it was slightly disappointing I thought.

Z had a ginger cherry (or was it lime?) seltzer that was pretty nice.

I had a dungeness crab melt which was 100% dungeness crab meat, no filler (except some parsley) and some sharp cheddar between two slices of sourdough. It was great. I loved it, but thought the flavour profile was a little one-dimensional.

It was chock full of dungeness crab meat, much like the one at Duke’s chowder House. There was a tiny sliver of shell though that got caught between my teeth which was rather annoying.

Z had the Croque Madame (at my request :P). It’s lovely eating with people who are not that picky about what they eat. The skillet tasted a little eggy, which was weird because

The two poached eggs on top were totally overcooked. Hmm. Points off for the overcooked poached eggs – if you advertise yourself as a breakfast place you should at least know how to poach eggs properly so the middles are runny and everything. I think it’s because they put the poached eggs in the oven with the sandwich- such a newbie mistake. I also really didn’t like how the brioche scraped up from the skillet tasted like raw egg. They should wash and oil their cast iron skillets properly.

Well, we won’t be back here in a hurry, but there are lots of things in this neighborhood that are really interesting, like the technical book store and cafe next door that had a bunch of graduate math texts for leisure reading.


What to do with leftover egg whites

So after making the egg pasta recipe below that uses 4 yolks, you’ll tend to have a lot of egg white left over. Especially if you use your fresh egg tagliatelle to make a bowl of carbonara:

Which uses another egg yolk! I’ve adapted Tyler Florence’s Carbonara recipe (for two):
enough noodles for 2
1 tbsp olive oil
4-6 strips of bacon (or guanciale or pancetta), sliced into thin strips or lardons
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 a large shallot (minced)
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano (non compromisable)
Handful of flat leaf parsley (can omit)

0. Whisk the egg, egg yolk, and parmesan together in a bowl.
1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.
2. When it is boiling, add the noodles and on another hob, start heating the olive oil in a deep skillet on medium fire; when the oil starts smoking, add the bacon
3. After about 2 minutes, add the minced garlic and shallots to the skillet.
3. Stir constantly to prevent the garlic from burning. Fry till the fat has rendered and the bacon is a deep reddish brown
4. When the noodles are done, remove them from the boiling water immediately into the skillet to coat with the bacon fat
5. Remove the skillet from heat and stir in the egg mixture to coat the noodles.
6. If the sauce is too lumpy/thick, add some of the pasta boiling water to thin it.
7. Season with parsley and black pepper.
8. Garnish with chives or more parsley.

I’ve tried this with 2 whole eggs instead of 1 egg and 1 egg yolk, and the sauce just doesn’t achieve the same creaminess as if you omitted the egg white (unnecessary proteins denaturing and all that). I highly recommend reserving the second egg white for breakfast sandwiches or something if you don’t want your carbonara sauce to look all curdled and gross.

So now I have 5 egg whites, 4 from my egg noodles and 1 from my carbonara sauce. The most obvious thing to make would be pavlova, as a semi “light”, fruity dessert (even though I doused mine liberally in salted caramel sauce from Hot Cakes in Ballard and also some chocolate ganache.


My meringues didn’t behave too well and totally deflated and did not come neatly off the parchment, so instead I’ll leave you with Renee Erickson’s recipe for pavlovas that will hopefully work out better. The key is to use extra fine sugar.
4 large egg whites (about 133g) AT ROOM TEMPERATURE
1/16 tsp kosher salt
2/3 cup superfine sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F on the convection bake setting
2. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set it aside
3. Strain the egg whites througrh a fine mesh strainer to get rid of the chalazae. Use a rubber scraper to push the whites through the strainer
4. In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (make sure both the bowl and the whisk are clean and dry), whip the whites on medium speed until frothy. Add the salt; then, with the mixer still running, add the sguar in a slow steady stream. When all of the sugar has been added, increase the speed to high and whip for 5 minutes, until the mixture forms stiff peaks and has a pearly sheen to it. If you rub a bit of the mixture between two fingers, you should no longer feel little sugar granules.
5. Using 2 large serving spoons, drop the mixture in orange-size blobs onto the prepared baking sheets, about 6 per sheet, pushing one spoon into the middle of each to form a well, which will be filled with fruit later. (Each meringue should measure about 4 inches across with a roughly 2 inch wide well).
6. Bake for 3 hours, or until they are dry and crackly on the outside and still just a bit moist in the center – similar to a marshmallow. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on the baking sheets before using, or, if you prefer slightly drier meringues, return the meringues to the oven, turn the oven off, and let the meringues dry out in the oven overnight.
7. To serve, fill each well with freshly whipped cream (I use Reddiwhip because who has time to make freshly whipped cream) and fruit.


Home made egg pasta

A coupla weeks ago (before midterms) I had a spare saturday with nothing planned and nothing big due, so I cracked open the pasta maker Z got for me for christmas and decided to make some pasta! I have nearly zero experience making pasta; there’s this one time where I tried making porcini filled ravioli with a crappy european ravioli mould which failed because I tried to roll out the ravioli sheets by hand and the ravioli mould was so difficult to work with. Now I have lots of equipment, namely the Atlas pasta maker

as well as a really legit C. Palmer ravioli press

I got from Food52 Provisions when they had free shipping. And a week ago a recipe came out on the Serious Eats weekly digest for fresh egg pasta so all the elements aligned for me to make some tagliatelle!

What you’ll need:

  • 2 cups of all purpose flour (forget that 00 shit, where is anyone supposed to find that stuff outside of Italy??)
  • 2 whole large eggs (your regular cheapest brand 18 pack from the supermarket would work.. although of course if you use eggs from happy hens you will probably feel subliminally happier/more morally smug as you eat your pasta)
  • 4 yolks from large eggs
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

I followed her instructions to a tee. Made a flour well, dumped the eggs and egg yolks in the middle (my well was too small as you can see from that leak)

Stirred it up with a fork. I didn’t have a dough cutter/bench knife so I just used a firm rubber spatula to sorta sweep the flour in.

The dough may not look like much at this stage but kneading it will make it all come together. Resist the temptation to add/spritz water on it before you start kneading! This recipe needs no water unless your eggs are abnormally small or smth. Kneading the dough is rather therapeutic especially since you can never over-knead pasta dough. It actually gets progressively springier/more elastic/silky feeling so you actually feel like you’re getting somewhere with this. I take about 10 minutes to knead mine, though I’m sure less is fine. Use the heel of your palm, pressing downward and outward from you, rotate 45 degrees, rinse, repeat, etc…

Here’s the finished dough left to rest. Let it rest for at least 1 hr for the gluten to relax. It’s not supposed to rise or anything, so, a lot less anxiety inducing than bread dough. Don’t you like my cute rubber spatula from William Sonoma?

I used my pasta maker to roll out sheets starting from the widest setting (0) all the way to 6 for my tagliatelle. It could probably go to 7 in a pinch, but even at 6 sometimes the sheets did not behave well and tore or wrinkled (So this egg pasta recipe is a little bit delicate). I cut the tagliatelle with a knife.

Here it is coiled into nests. If you want a nice picture like this you have to FLOUR YOUR NOODLES with a good deal of semolina/all purpose. Ours stuck together after this and was a very sad affair. I managed to roll it out again though :P So as you can see that even though the dough might be slightly delicate (it really is just eggs and flour), it is very forgiving and will retain its pliability to be rolled out multiple times. I made squid ink pasta recently that was not so forgiving but also more robust.

And here’s the tagliatelle in some BBQ rib sauce since a half rack of BBQ ribs was on offer at Safeway for $5. Threw in some celery, orange bell pepper, pizza sauce, a hardened rind of parmesan, and a bunch of other things (including turkey drippings from last thanksgiving :P)

The noodle texture and bite from this particular recipe by Niki Achitoff-Gray is AMAZING. Tastes just like most pasta in Italy (i.e. nothing like the dried durum wheat pasta you get from Barilla or whatever.) I’ll definitely be making this again and again.