I do not know where these tasty meat pockets have been all my life! When I first saw this challenge at the beginning of the month I was a little bummed since I much prefer sweet to savory when doing a Daring Bakers challenge. But I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome and I encourage you to try these. You won’t be disappointed. Especially with the meat! I would’ve eaten it plain from the pot and not even have made the dough if I didn’t have a post to write! It is very, very good.
The February Daring Bakers’ challenge is hosted by Julie of One-Wall Kitchen. She challenged us to an easy, simple filled bun using no-knead dough.
These siopao make a great meal. You can make them ahead of time and all you need is a side of veggies and you’re good to go. While these are traditionally steamed, this version is baked.
As I said before, the meat is to die for. So good. For real. My house smelled heavenly while it baked. DO NOT leave out the star anise! It’s subtle but adds so much. I scored 2 in the bulk section of my grocery store for $0.20!
After a slow roast, chop it up and return it to the juice for an overnight mingling of flavor. This may not be totally necessary, but I think it made the meat more flavorful and juicy. Lots of fat will harden on top if you chill it, so remove what you can (this was tricky and disgusting for me so I gave up quickly) then slowly heat it just to get everything back to a nice juicy state. Drain the meat and onion and reserve the juice. It makes for a crazy good sauce later. Also, a nice layer of fat will form on top of the reserved juice. Remove it or pour the juice slowly into your saucepan and the fat should stay in the container. Sorry for all the fat talk.
The Fine Cooking magazine from October/November has a nice feature on cauliflower. It includes ways to prep and prepare it along with a few recipes. This tart is one of those recipes. This curry is another. I have a thing for coconut and curry, and so I was drawn to this recipe immediately. I also love to find satisfying vegetarian dishes that we can work in to our meal schedule. My husband didn’t miss the meat at all. This one is a keeper.
There is quite a bit of chopping to be done, but it can all be done in advance and refrigerated until you’re ready to cook. Once that is taken care of, this dish comes together easily. You’re looking at 45 minutes cooking time in all, but more than half of that is simply simmering time. Thanks to that simmering time your house will smell amazing. The only downside there is that it will smell that way for hours, and waking up to the smells of curry you ate the night before isn’t amazing. But it is worth it!
This reheats really well, so it’s a good choice for those of you cooking for one or two. This will feed you for a couple of meals, and that’s definitely something I look for in a recipe these days. I love leftover night.
The spices are warm and subtle. The first taste is sweet and then the heat hits you at the end but is still more warm than spicy. I didn’t have black mustard seed, so I didn’t use them and I thought this was still wonderful. The coconut milk tones down the heat and adds sweetness as well as welcomed creaminess. I used a whole jalapeno with a few seeds and it wasn’t overwhelming at all. If you want it spicy make sure to use more of the seeds and membrane or even add a second jalapeno.
The garnishes are necessary, in my opinion. The yogurt is a nice cool contrast to the warm curry, the cilantro is the perfect herb to compliment the spices and the cashews add richness and crunch. We ate this with warm naan which is perfect for soaking up the sauce. Serving this on top of rice would also be delicious (and stretch it a bit). I hope you try this dish! My mouth is watering right now as I think about it and I’m considering getting some out of the fridge…and it’s 8 in the morning. So you know it’s good.
2 tablespoons of butter + 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (use ghee if you have it)
1 onion, cut into large dice
2 red bell peppers (you could also use orange or yellow)
1 jalapeno, chopped fine (as many or as few seeds as you’d like)
1 2-inch piece of ginger, chopped fine (about 2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 teaspoons cumin seed
1 cinnamon stick (2 inches)
1 teaspoon salt
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup raisins
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 can coconut milk
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 head cauliflower, cut into 1-2 inch florets
fresh chopped cilantro
naan or rice for serving
Heat butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, peppers, jalapeno, ginger, curry, cumin, cinnamon stick and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften and brown a bit.
Add in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, then add the tomatoes, water and raisins. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes.
Stir in the coconut milk and 2 teaspoons of lemon juice. Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat and cook until thickened, 10-15 minutes.
Add in the cauliflower and mix together. Cover. keep the heat on low and cook until cauliflower is tender, about 15 minutes.
Remove the cinnamon stick. Season with salt and lemon juice. Serve with yogurt, cashews and cilantro.
In my dreams I am someone who eats nothing but good-for-you foods, mainly fruits and vegetables, that are all beneficial to my health and do things like make my skin glow, provide me with all my daily vitamins, and will add years to my life. I grow all my own vegetables and get my eggs from the chickens I’m raising in my backyard. In that backyard I am hanging my clothes out to dry on the clothesline. In reality I love a greasy hamburger with cheese and bacon served up with a plate of crispy fries and followed by a creamy vanilla milkshake. I’ve never grown anything edible besides some tomatoes that didn’t make it through the season. And I actually hate the way clothes feel and smell after drying outside. I’m nothing like I am in my dreams. I like healthy foods, but I also really like to indulge. I’ve visited both extremes of unhealthy habits with food and over time I’ve become better able to understand that there is a healthy balance between the two. I believe that there is a time to indulge in cheesy macaroni and a time to take it easy and fill your body with nutritious vegetables. This dish allows you to have your mac and eat it too.
Upon first reading this recipe in Fine Cooking I dismissed it as being way too much work. I came across it again a few weeks later and thought I should give it a try. It turned out to be really delicious and not terribly time consuming. This is nothing at all like the ooey gooey cheesy macaroni and cheese I usually make, so it isn’t truly fair to compare them. However, the flavor of this macaroni was full and rich thanks to the sharp cheese and fresh thyme. Since it’s a warm baked pasta dish it still serves as comfort food, but it doesn’t carry all the butter, whole milk and cheese (and guilt) of the full fat version. One of the best parts about it is the cauliflower and onion puree. There’s half a head of cauliflower in this! And it adds a wonderful flavor and creaminess as well as a good amount of vitamin C. Purees are a great way to get more vegetables into your diet, and I’m going to look for ways to do more with them. There are only so many salads and sides of steamed broccoli a girl can take before she needs some real food. And while you eat this you can feel good knowing you’re getting some of your daily veggies.
There are a few things I did that are different from the original recipe. I used macaroni instead of penne. I used heaping measurements for the cheese because, well, I just love cheese. And I used 2% milk instead of 1%. I know there is a big difference between the two, and next time I will try 1% if I remember to pick some up. Ben and Carson both drink 2%, and I have recently made the switch to almond milk, so that’s all the milk we have in our house most of the time.
If you make this dish start to finish it probably wouldn’t take you all that long, but it dirties a lot of dishes. One of those dirty items is a blender, and I kinda hate cleaning the blender, not sure why. As a stay-at-home mom I rarely have the luxury of making dinner leisurely and I also don’t want me or my husband to be stuck with a bunch of dishes when all we want to do is sit down after the kids are in bed. So, here are some ways to make this easier and less stressful to prepare.
Make the vegetable puree earlier in the day, or even the day before, and store it in the fridge. Warm it up in the saucepan and continue the recipe from that point.
Grate the cheese ahead of time and store in the fridge in ziplocs or tupperware. (I prefer bags because I can throw them away. But that’s because I am lazy and wasteful.)
Cook everything, put it in the pan, cover and put in the fridge. Bake it that evening or the next day.
Give this a try. Even if you hate cauliflower I think you’ll like it. And if you have any healthy and delicious recipes to share, please do!
2 oz. coarsely grated sharp white Cheddar (about 1/2 cup)
1-1/2 oz. finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1-1/2 cups using a rasp grater)
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 375°F.
Put the cauliflower, onion, and garlic in a steamer basket set over 1 inch of boiling water in a 6- to 8-quart pot. Cover and steam until the cauliflower is tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the cauliflower, onion, and garlic to a blender.
Fill the pot three-quarters full of salted water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook for 3 minutes less than the package timing. Drain and return the pasta to the pot.
While the pasta cooks, add 1 cup of the milk, the dry mustard, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper to the vegetables in the blender and purée until smooth. Transfer to a 3-quart saucepan and stir in the remaining 1 cup of milk and the thyme. Heat over medium-low heat until hot but not boiling, about 3 minutes.
In a small bowl, mix the Cheddar and Parmigiano. Add all but 1/2 cup of the cheese to the sauce and stir until the cheese is melted. Add the sauce to the pasta and stir to combine.
Transfer the pasta and sauce to an 8-inch square baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
Bake until heated through and the cheese is beginning to brown, 20 to 30 minutes.