Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cranberry persimmon bread

On my last trip home, I got a whole bag of persimmons.  My mom has persimmon trees in her backyard, so every year I’m searching for new persimmon recipes.

This weekend I decided to try out a cranberry persimmon bread I found on Former Chef. I love the color of the bread and how there was an orange swirl on the top. Usually the persimmon breads I make are a dark brown.

There are two main types of persimmons: hachiya and fuyu.  Hachiya persimmons tend to be bigger, have a long, oval shape and a pointy bottom.  Hachiya persimmons should only be eaten after they are really ripe and soft (to the point where they are basically mushy).  I’ve never eaten a Hachiya persimmon before it turns fully soft, but I’ve heard the experience is quite awful. Fuyu persimmons are flatter in shape, and look kind of like a tomato.  Fuyu persimmons can be eaten crunchy. I did a post about the differences last year here.

I brought back both type of persimmons, but I used the soft hachiya ones for this bread. The ones pictured in the photos are actually fuyu persimmons because they stand up easier.

The only thing I didn’t like that happened with my bread is the top layer. The directions said to save half a cup of persimmon puree and pour it on top of the batter to create the orange effect. However, the batter is pretty thick. When I poured the puree on top, I wondered how the puree would seep inside.  The directions didn’t say to mix it or make a well in the batter, etc.  As a result, when my bread finished baking the puree poured on top simply formed a thin crust on the outside, that made it look like melted cheese.

Other than the snag I hit with the crust layer, I really enjoyed this bread. It was moist, had a slight taste of persimmon and I love the crimson red cranberries poking out.  I definitely will make this bread again, though next time I’m going to make a well along the middle of the bread to pour in the puree, rather than just pouring it on top since all it did was spread everywhere and form a wet crust.

You can view Former Chef’s recipe here.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Que Huong Restaurant

Que Huong Restaurant
4134 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92105
(619) 283-1792

This weekend, I got a chance to check out Que Huong Restaurant. I’ve been wanting to check out Que Huong Restaurant since reading Dennis of A Radiused Corner’s post. While a lot of the dishes looked really interesting in his post, the ones I thought looked most interesting were the different flavored wings.

I’ve also been wanting to expand my experience with Vietnamese food, since the only Vietnamese food I usually eat is pho.  I know that there are quite a few posts by fellow San Diego bloggers on this spot, but I didn’t get a chance to review them prior to my visit.

Once inside, I was pleasantly surprised by the decor. The place looked pretty nice, with a lot of large tables and the seats all had seat covers. There were a lot of interesting menu options.

We ordered Hanoi Style Grilled Snapper Cake.  The snapper was served on a sizzling plate and accompanied by lettuce, rice noodles, pineapple, cucumbers, pickled carrots and a shrimp sauce.

I had expected actual fish cakes made out of snapper, but these just seemed to be fried pieces of snapper. The snapper by itself was really salty, but once wrapped in lettuce, some pineapple, pickled carrots, cucumbers and vermicelli, it wasn’t too salty. I really liked the combination of so many flavors and thought they all worked well together. I didn’t really like the shrimp sauce that you are supposed to dip the fish in.

W also ordered Marinated Deer Meat. I love deer meat and other gamey meats and was surprised to see it on the menu, so of course I had to order it. The meat was served on a sizzling plate with onions. The meat was gamey and you could definitely taste that it was deer. Sometimes when I get deer meat at a restaurant, the taste is so mild, it just tastes like beef.

We tried to order the eel with coconut sauce but they were out of it, which wasn’t a big surprise. Eel has been really expensive lately and a lot of restaurants won’t serve it or have raised their prices.

Finally, we got wings. We asked if we could do two different kinds, and they allowed us. We chose fish sauce wings and tamarind wings.

The tamarind wings were sweeter and crispier. I liked them.

The fish sauce wings tasted good too, but they also were more wet from the fish sauce.  BF preferred the fish sauce wings. I preferred the tamarind ones.

When I left, I had to take a picture of the money tree I had seen when I entered. When I first arrived, I saw a small one. I thought it was so cool looking. It had little charms and money made into origami birds and butterflies hanging from the tree. As I went to take a picture, the waiter pointed out to me that they had a full size version for a better picture. I’m not sure how I missed such a big tree. Perhaps I need something like this in my house…

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Alton Brown’s Yeast Donuts

I love donuts. I mean, I know I have a serious sweet tooth, but I have a special place in my heart for donuts.  When I was a kid, the thing that would get me out of bed early was if there were some fresh donuts from the bakery.

So I had a serious craving for donuts lately and while I absolutely love the little cute baked ones I’ve been making, they aren’t a substitute for the fried yeast kind.

A few weeks ago, there was a flurry of donut posts by bloggers and many of them used a yeast recipe by Alton Brown. After successfully making Alton Brown’s recipe for soft pretzels, I was excited to try his recipe for yeast donuts.

These donuts ended up taking forever to make. The dough was messy, sticky and complicated. I followed the recipe and instructions exactly but when my dough was done it was really, really sticky. The recipe says that you have to flour your working surface, but I had to do much more than that. My dough needed a lot more flour. In fact, I used almost 2 cups of flour to get the dough in working condition. All the stickiness had to be taken out of the dough or else the dough wouldn’t cut properly, or once it was cut it would be hard to drop it in the frying pan without losing shape unless it was no longer sticky.

The end result was just okay. The donuts did rise like yeast donuts should, but they weren’t amazing. It was about the same taste as frying up some premade pillsbury dough. I was pretty disappointed with this recipe and these didn’t satisfy my craving for donuts. They also didn’t keep well.  They were already starting to turn hard the next day.

Before and after shots of the donuts rising:

I did wonder if I did something wrong, but when I went back to the website and read the comments, I saw that many other people encountered the same problems I did.  If all donut recipes are this complicated, I may just stick to buying yeast donuts. You can view Alton Brown’s recipe here.