Sunday, April 3, 2016

We've moved!

We've made the switch from Blogger to WordPress! And we got our very own domain: 36eggs.com. Teehee. Please come visit us at our lovely new location.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Ah Ma's Kueh Lapis

Author: Kwan, Kevin
Book: Crazy Rich Asians
Difficulty rating: Pride & Prejudice
Deliciousness rating: Outstanding


Alexandra approached the wrought-iron table where sweetly aromatic kueh lapis* and pineapple tarts were arrayed on Longquan celadon dishes. 


* Also known as "thousand-layer cake," this decadently buttery cake with dozens of thin golden stripes is created by baking each layer of batter separately. Extremely laborious, but sinfully good. (Kwan 295)

Happy Year of the Monkey! We had thought for a second about making this cake for our Crazy Rich Asians Dinner, but creating the terrine was so daunting a task that we decided to save it for later. According to sources on the interwebs, kueh lapis is often made for Lunar New Year celebrations.

Did it measure up?
A thousand times, yes. It is very similar to Baumkuchen -- a little less fluffy, maybe -- with added spices. It wasn't as difficult as we expected it to be, especially compared to other cakes we've made. It's just a long, tedious process.


Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Very Harry Christmas!

A very Harry Christmas to our fellow HP fans!


Harry had never in all his life had such a Christmas dinner. A hundred fat, roast turkeys, mountains of roast and boiled potatoes, platters of fat chipolatas; tureens of buttered peas, silver boats of thick, rich gravy and cranberry sauce. -- and stacks of wizarding crackers every few feet along the table. These fantastic crackers were nothing like the feeble Muggle ones the Dursleys usually bought, with their little plastic toys and their flimsy paper hats. (Rowling UK 149, US 203)
Under our Official British Friend (OBF) Cam's strict supervision, we gorged ourselves on a glorious Harry Potter Christmas Feast! Admittedly, we replaced the turkey and cranberry sauce with roast chicken and gravy (and bread sauce). "That's not authentic!" you might cry in outrage. But (1) as Americans, we're kinda sick of turkey from just having eaten a ton for Thanksgiving, and (2) roast chicken is a legit Harry Potter dish (Books 1 & 5). So there.


Saturday, December 19, 2015

Fred's Carrots

Author: Rowling, J.K.
Book: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Difficulty rating: Harry Potter
Deliciousness rating: Exceeds Expectations

Fred, George, Harry, and Ron were the only ones who knew that the angel on top of the tree was actually a garden gnome that had bitten Fred on the ankle as he pulled up carrots for Christmas dinner (Book 6: UK 309, US 329).

Did it measure up?
Miko: I'm not a fan of carrots as a rule, but I actually like these. They taste almost like sweet potato!
Jenne: Also not a big carrot person, but if you want some these are easy to make and seem fancy.

Derek's Chipolatas

Author: Rowling, J.K.
Book: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Difficulty rating: Harry Potter
Deliciousness rating: Outstanding

We were overjoyed to find out through a quick Google search that chipolatas are often served at Christmas dinner WRAPPED IN BACON, and this is the British version of "pigs in a blanket." HOW AWESOME IS THAT.

Still not entirely certain what makes a chipolata a chipolata, except that it seems to be typically on the shorter side in length. Is a chipolata a banger? Further research is required.

Did it measure up?
Well, just about anything wrapped in bacon is worth eating, right? And these sausages are plenty delicious enough as they are; we don't know what they put (crack, perhaps?) in this particular brand that we get from the touristy British store. Put the sausage and bacon together...and the result is almost too delicious to stand.

Miko: The recipe we looked at told us to prepare for 2 per guest. Well, they were sitting in front of me at the table, and I probably had 6. Maybe more.

Jenne: Yeah, these were indecently delicious.
 

Hogwarts' Roast Chicken & Potatoes

Author: Rowling, J.K.
Book: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Difficulty rating: Harry Potter
Deliciousness rating: Outstanding
Did it measure up?
Miko: Guys, I had no idea just how easy roasting a chicken was. It sounds like such a daunting task. It does take quite a bit of time to roast, but a beginning cook could totally do it. And the potatoes! I'll let Jenne expound on the deliciousness of these potatoes.

Jenne: The potatoes were, dare I say it, magical.  Fluffy inside and crisp outside...Cam says it's important to peel the potatoes to get the right texture. And of course letting them sizzle in the chicken fat doesn't hurt at all.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Crazy Rich Asians Dinner

Author: Kwan, Kevin
Book: Crazy Rich Asians
Deliciousness rating: Outstanding

Ooh, shiny.
Jenne: One of our co-workers said he liked this book, and even though I almost never take book recommendations (I am the worst) I thought it sounded like my kind of thing and ended up binge-reading it in like, two days. It sort of fills the Judith Krantz-shaped void in my heart (come back, Judy!) and the food in it is amaaaaaazing so of course I immediately started trying to get Miko to read it.

Miko: Jenne recommended Crazy Rich Asians to me as a great 36 Eggs book, so I read it knowing that we would be recreating a meal from it. The characters really do eat ALL THE TIME and SUMPTUOUSLY, like I imagine the Romans did. Here is a list of the dishes and beverages that I found in the story.

For our dinner, it was not enough to just make the food. Oh no, we dressed up in our most outrageous finery and broke out the fanciest-ass dishes we could find (which admittedly aren't THAT fancy because we are Middle Class Librarians, not Crazy Rich Asians). And we found friends that were game to party with us -- shout-out to Jennifer, Michael, Erica, John, Erin, Erik, and Andrea!

Ah Ching's Chocolate Chiffon Cake

Author: Kwan, Kevin
Book: Crazy Rich Asians
Difficulty rating: Little Women
Deliciousness rating: Exceeds Expectations

The fourth course of our Crazy Rich Asians Dinner.
     Nick stood at one end of the desserts, wondering what to have first: the goren pisang with ice cream, the blancmange with mango sauce, or the chocolate chiffon cake.... [Nick] offered some cake to Rachel. "You've got to try this--it's one of our cook Ah Ching's greatest hits."
     .... She tasted the cake, her eyes widening instantly. It was the perfect combination of chocolate and cream, with an airy melt-in-your mouth lightness. "Hmmm. I like that it isn't too sweet."
     "That's why I can never eat other chocolate cakes. They're always too sweet, too dense, or have too much frosting," Nick said. (Kwan 152)

The Nearest Kopi Tiam's Char Be Hoon

Author: Kwan, Kevin
Book: Crazy Rich Asians
Difficulty rating: Little Women
Deliciousness rating: Exceeds Expectations

The third course of our Crazy Rich Asians Dinner.
They could play soccer until the sun went down, and then head to the nearest kopi tiam [coffee shop] for cold beers and some nasi goreng or char be hoon (Kwan 76).

Nick (one of the main characters) is obsessed with noodles, so we had to include a noodle dish on the menu for the night. Char be hoon is fried rice vermicelli -- sounds tasty, obviously. Plus, the other options we could try to recreate sounded pretty daunting (e.g. "braised quail and abalone over hand-pulled noodles" (17) or "E-fu noodles and seared scallops in ginger sauce" (140)), and we already had the langoustine and calamansi lime gelée terrine to contend with. The comparatively simple char be hoon therefore had even more appeal.

"Langoustine" & Calamansi Lime Gelée Terrine

Author: Kwan, Kevin
Book: Crazy Rich Asians
Difficulty rating: Anna Karenina (mainly because we had to make up our own recipe)
Deliciousness rating: Outstanding

The second course of our Crazy Rich Asians Dinner.

The second course had just been served -- a surprisingly tasty langoustine and calamansi lime geleé terrine (Kwan 202).

WTF Do All These Words Mean? 
In celebration of the preposterous fanciness of the book, we had to make at least one really ridiculous dish. We were intrigued by the sound of the "surprisingly tasty langoustine and calamansi lime gelée terrine," even though we hadn't a clue what it was. First, we had to do a vocabulary breakdown:
  • langoustine: Langoustine is a rare and exceedingly pricey mini-lobster that's only found in the North Atlantic and parts of the Mediterranean. Bon Appetit wrote a whole article about how it's incredibly delicious and hard to get. Apparently, the only way to get it in the U.S. is to order it frozen, starting at $64 for 2 lbs (2 lbs INCLUDING the shells, mind you), NOT INCLUDING SHIPPING. Now, we typically don't hesitate to splurge on ingredients for this blog, but even for us, that's a bit crazy. We thought lobster and giant shrimp would suffice. 
  • calamansi lime: The calamansi lime is an intergenetic hybrid, probably between the mandarin orange and the kumquat. To us, it tastes like an orange but without the sweetness. You can eat the peel, which is a little sweeter. Luckily, we have a local calamansi lime grower who comes weekly to a farmer's market 20 minutes from our houses!
Meet Farmer Steve, a local calamansi lime grower! His CSA is also a pretty good deal, btw.
  • gelée: "a cosmetic gel" (Google). In other words, fancypants Jell-O. By the way, the book totally spelled it wrong. Tsk tsk, editor.
  • terrine: "a meat, fish, or vegetable mixture that has been cooked or otherwise prepared in advance and allowed to cool or set in its container, typically served in slices," according to Google.
We consulted a number of sources on this and even called a restaurant in another state who had made a similar dish. No one was any help at all -- most thought it sounded completely gross, and the restaurant told us that calamansi limes were "just the same thing as lotus root."  Uh, what??  No.

At this point, we realized we would have to go it alone, and damn the haters.

So we developed our vision:
  1. A thin top layer of savory calamansi lime geleé on top (we took inspiration from this recipe for yuzu gelée);
  2. A thick bottom layer of shellfish mousse that we would also set with gelatin; and
  3. Everything molded and set in a loaf pan so we could cut it into slices.