Tag Archives: Cooking

Week 12: How To Make Stuffed Peppers

I asked a friend of mine to teach me how to stuff peppers. Just like the paneer cheese, they’re surprisingly easy to make. I like dishes that allow the cook to add in whatever is available in the kitchen – stuffed peppers are one such dish. We raided the fridge for some ground beef, garlic, mushrooms and parmesan; grabbed some herbs from the garden; pulled some breadcrumbs and pine nuts from the pantry, and used some pimento peppers from the market. That was all we needed.

First, we cleaned the peppers, and saved the seeds for future use. Then we chopped up all the other ingredients (minus the breadcrumbs and parmesan), and mixed them together in a bowl. We slowly added the breadcrumbs and parmesan to the rest of the ingredients to reach a texture that held together, and could be shaped into a ball without crumbling.

Then we divided the stuffing between the 6 peppers. We filled each pepper just above its edges, then turned them over (stuffing down) onto a greased cookie sheet. Cooking it this way helps create a nice crust on top of the stuffing. We cooked the peppers for close to an hour at 250 degrees Fahrenheit. At that point the peppers were thoroughly cooked and softened, but the outer skin was not burnt. The stuffing on top crusted over with caramelized cheese and deliciousness.

Prepped.

Prepped.

Stuffed.

Stuffed.

Baked.

Baked.

Served.

Served.

We made a salad to go along with the peppers, and crumbled some of the leftover paneer cheese on top. A perfect lunch for a Saturday afternoon!

Week 3: Recap

It seems that eggs five ways turned into eggs eight ways, haha. It’s easy to get carried away when doing something I enjoy. To recap, I made eggs that were sunny side up, over-easy, over-well, poached, coddled, steeped in tea, steamed in a savory way, and steamed to make a delicious egg pudding. This was a fun week of trying stuff out, and getting the hang of different cooking techniques. What I enjoyed most about this week though, was sharing the food I made with friends. I often forget how much enjoyment I get from sharing what I cook with others. It partially stems from my love of receiving feedback, even when it’s not positive. Feedback drives me to play with recipes I have used before, to be more creative with my cooking and to try preparing new things.

While I did discover some new ways to prepare and eat eggs this week, my go-to breakfast eggs are unlikely to change dueto morning time constraints during the workweek. But I will certainly be more creative with my weekend breakfasts, and try to have people over for brunch more often so that I have an excuse to experiment with some new recipes.

Now, on to week 4!

Steamed Egg Pudding

While making the savory steamed eggs, I decided to try to make their sweet counterpart – steamed egg pudding. It’s essentially a simple eggy custard. Again, I used the recipe posted on the Taste Hong Kong blog, with a few minor adjustments. I added a few drops of vanilla extract and used less sugar than she recommended.

While preparing the savory and sweet steamed eggs, I was careful to open them by cracking off the top of each egg, then saving the shells. (I’ll explain why soon.) To prepare the pudding, the milk and sugar in a saucepan over low-heat until the sugar dissolves. Then set it to the side to cool. While it was cooling, I cleaned the membrane out of the egg shells and sterilized them by boiling them with vinegar, and put them aside to dry. Whisk the sweet milk with two eggs and two drops of vanilla extract. Strain the mixture through a sieve to separate the bubbles and any impurities from the egg, then pour it into steam safe dishes. In this case, I decided to use the egg shells to steam the pudding in, so that it would make cute single serving portions. I only had four sterilized egg shells though, so I put the extra into a small Pyrex dish.

I used a small yogurt cup to pour the egg mixture into the shells, filling them about 80%. To steam the eggs I positioned three in a small bowl such that they would stay vertically oriented, and covered the bowl with aluminum foil. It took about 15 minutes for the top of the pudding to appear set. I tested one egg, and found that the inside was still a little runny, so I filled the small bowl they were in with boiling water, covered it, and let it sit for five minutes. After that, the pudding was set, but was not overcooked or bubbly, and was still silky smooth.

I decided to get a little creative with a few of them, and added a hardened caramelized top (à la crème brûlée). I don’t have a torch so I had to make do with a lighter. It worked alright, it could have used a more heat for a little longer, but I was afraid of burning the pudding since it was taking so long to heat the sugar. When tapped with a spoon the top gave that immensely satisfying crack, and that was all I needed to be satisfied with this attempt!

Sterilized egg shells ready for pudding mixture.

Sterilized egg shells ready for pudding mixture.

Silky pudding eggs.

Egg pudding with a hardened caramelized top.

Egg pudding with a hardened caramelized top.

Savory Steamed Eggs

I really enjoy eating steamed eggs, they are very mild, and when cooked properly come out like a more flavorful silken tofu. It’s often served in restaurants with seafood or vegetables mixed in, and then served with a little soy sauce and/or sesame oil drizzled over the top. For this endeavor, I chose to follow the recipe posted on the Taste Hong Kong blog, with the addition of a splash of Shaoxing rice wine (紹興酒), which was recommended by the cook at my school.

To prepare the eggs I whisked together 2 eggs, 6 half-shells of water (see the picture), and a splash of the Shaoxing. Then I strained the mixture through the sieve into two Pyrex dishes – one empty and one with Sanxing green onions (三星蔥).

First, I steamed the plain version with nothing added to the egg mixture. Then, I steamed the other batch with fresh green onions added in (my favorite way to have the dish). Each batch took about 13 minutes, and was steamed in a Pyrex dish covered with aluminum foil. After five minutes, I shifted the dish on the steaming tray to make sure that the eggs would be cooked evenly. I checked the eggs at the ten minute mark by tapping the side of the dish with a wooden spoon, but it was still quite runny. I checked again at 13 minutes and when tapped, the eggs jiggled but did not show any liquid movement. I removed it from the steam and let it sit, covered, for a few minutes to make sure that the eggs had fully set. Both batches came out beautifully. I love the flavor that the spring onions add to the dish when cooked with the eggs, and they brighten the dish up visually. Since the eggs are not cooked with any salt or seasoning (other than the splash of Shaoxing), I recommend drizzling a bit of soy sauce over the eggs before digging in.

Using the egg shells to measure out the water.

Using the egg shells to measure out the water.

Savory steamed eggs with Sanxing green onions.

Savory steamed eggs with Sanxing green onions.

Tea Eggs (First Attempt)

After consulting with some of my Taiwanese friends, I decided to just buy a spice bag for the tea eggs. None of my friends had ever tried preparing the tea and spices from scratch (or even seen their family do it), so they did not know the proportions for the preparing the tea, or where to get all the ingredients fresh. I was able to find quite a few recipes online, but I really wanted the classic taste that Taiwanese Tea Eggs have. So, I went to my local 7-11 here in Taiwan and bought the same brand of spice bag used for the 7-11 tea eggs.

Everyone (including the 7-11 employees) said that there are two essential steps to making tantalizing tea eggs:

1. Make sure to break the flexible membrane on the inside of the shell when cracking the shell, but be careful not to peel the shell off of the egg before steeping it.

2. Be patient. To produce eggs that have really absorbed the flavors from the spice bag and that are richly stained, the eggs have to steep for quite a while in the spiced fluid. But be sure to take the tea/spice bag out of the water after about 3 hours to make sure that it does not make the liquid bitter.

I tried three different methods for breaking the shell, after hard-boiling the egg. Using the back of a spoon, using the back side of a knife, and using the flat side of a chopping knife. The pattern produced by the spoon and the flat side of the knife were much prettier and resembled a spider web at each site of impact. While the back of the knife produced long jagged lines along the eggshell. I wasn’t sure which one would be better for breaking that internal membrane of the egg, so I tried each method on different eggs. Then steeped the eggs with the spice bag in a Crock-Pot on warm.

The eggs came out as a bit of a mixed bag. Looks can be deceiving. Some of the eggs that I guessed would be thoroughly marbled and delectable, were hardly even stained by the tea and spices because the membrane had not been broken. I let a few eggs soak overnight to see how they would turn out. I have included a picture of an egg removed after 4 hours, and one removed after about 18 hours. This is one that I will have to try again and play with some to get a more consistent method down.

Tea egg with the shell on after steeping for 4 hours.

Tea egg with the shell on after steeping for 4 hours.

Tea egg steeped for four hours, lightly marbled.

Tea egg steeped for four hours, lightly marbled.

Tea egg steeped for 20 hours, thoroughly stained, and lightly marbled.

Tea egg steeped for 20 hours, thoroughly stained, and lightly marbled.

If anyone has any experience with this, I am wondering if perhaps adding a bit of vinegar to the water at the initial boiling might weaken the membrane, or help it adhere to the shell and thus, break with it. Or if rolling the egg on the counter to crack the shell might be a better way as it uses a bit more force. I’m also wondering if it might work better with a medium-boiled egg.

Fried Egg 3 Ways

I revisited my fried egg day, in order to perfect timing, etc for three different types of fried eggs – sunny side up, over-easy, and over-well. My biggest complaint about over-easy eggs from restaurants, is that the whites around the yolk are often uncooked, and a gloopy mess. So, I wanted to show that they can be made to have set egg whites and a nice runny yolk.

One of my Taiwanese friends also wanted to learn the difference between the three, so I took this as an opportunity to teach her. In Taiwan, fried eggs are usually made by dropping the egg on the skillet, smooshing the yolk with the spatula, flipping the egg, and serving it up cooked through and through. I understand that preparing it this way saves time, but it transforms the egg such that the distinct flavors and textures of the yolk and egg whites are lost, and it’s not as aesthetically pleasing.

I should have flipped the over-easy egg a few seconds sooner so that the whites would have surrounded the yolk a bit more, and kept it from cooking. But, I’d say the eggs came out pretty good, and they sure were tasty. I stuck with low-heat for the sunny side up, and medium-high heat for the over-easy and over-well eggs.

Left: Sunny Side Up, Over-Easy, Over-Well

Left: Sunny Side Up, Over-Easy, Over-Well

 

Fried egg three ways, showing the broken yolks.

Fried egg three ways, showing the broken yolks.

Pyrex Coddled Egg

To be honest, I have never had a coddled egg, so I am not a very objective judge of how it turned out. But I was quite pleased with it. Unfortunately, I could not find a coddler at any local shops, and the narrowest oven-safe dish I could find was a 10 cm wide Pyrex dish, and a ceramic bowl and lid slightly smaller. I followed the recipe posted on ‘i am a food blog’. Instead of potatoes, I used some leftover roasted pumpkin that was in the fridge. I mashed some of it up and lined the bottom of the dish with it, then added two eggs. I also placed a piece of fresh rosemary on top with the hope that as it was steaming the flavor of the rosemary would settle into the eggs and add a nice little twist. It worked quite well, and I would imagine fresh dill, basil or thyme would have a similar effect.

I used a ceramic bowl with a lid for the first attempt. I checked it at 15 minutes, and the edges of the whites were just setting. The sweet spot was probably somewhere around 28 minutes, but I got sidetracked and the yolks had thickened considerably by the time I took it out at about 35 minutes. For the second attempt, I used a Pyrex dish topped with aluminum foil. This one took just over 20 minutes, and yielded runny yolks and set egg whites. I could not have been happier. The eggs were incredibly creamy and smooth – this is a dish I will certainly make again.

With just a crack of pepper, it's ready to eat.

With just a crack of pepper, it’s ready to eat.