Four Clan Kitchen

What we eat everyday

Archive for September, 2012

Tomato Chutney

Posted by fourclankitchen on September 30, 2012

I am still in condiment mode because summer is ending and the last of the summer’s goodies are slowly disappearing from the market.  I found this recipe for Indian style preserved tomatoes on Indian Simmer, a very nice blog.  I made these pickles last month and thought they had a wonderful flavor, but they were oily and terribly salty (which you would sort of need if you kept these pickles around for a year at room temperature).  But after I ate these pickles on everything from toast to rice,  I got to thinking that you could actually very easily tweak this into a dip or chutney. All I really did was to reduce the salt and the oil. Also I added ginger.  So here goes.


2 pounds tomatoes, coarsely processed in the food processor (I used sungold, but any type of tomato will do)

1″ ginger, coarsely chopped

6 cloves of garlic, peeled

6 fresno/serrano peppers  (scale down to anaheims if these are too hot for your taste), coarsely chopped

3 tsp.  panch phoran mix (use 1 tsp fennel seeds, 1  tsp  brown mustard seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds)

2 tbs. oil

6-10 curry leaves (leave out if you don’t have it)

large pinch asafoetida (hing)

salt to taste

1. Whir the peppers, garlic and ginger in the food processor

2. Heat the oil till shimmering.  Add the panch phoran seeds till they start to sputter (overdoing this will cause the Nigella seeds to burn-not a good thing).  Add the hing, the curry leaves, and the garlic paste till you smell a heavenly aroma.  This should take about a min on medium high flame (your are just getting rid of the raw garlic smell)

3.  Add the tomatoes and cook till they release the oil and tomato liquid has evaporated (depending on how high you have the falme this should take 1- 1/2 hours)

4.  Cool, place in a glass or plastic container and store in the fridge.

5.  Eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Posted in Breakfast, Brunch, condiments, Side Dishes, vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Chinese chili sauce with black bean paste

Posted by fourclankitchen on September 15, 2012

This chili sauce lights up any noodle or rice dish, soup or entree: it is just that perfect a combination of sweet, salt, sour and heat.  The black bean paste adds umami, not that it needs any more  punch.  I  posted this recipe before, using mostly thai green bird peppers, since the red ones are hard to come by in a regular grocery store.  Frankly, the green ones are not as good for this purpose as the red ones.  However,  I have experimented with other hot red peppers: fresnoes, serranos and the little habanero like red peppers. You can choose any of these or stick with the thai red peppers (which I think are hotter than the habanero doppelgänger). The original recipe  (from Diana Kuan’s blog: Appetite for China) calls for fermented black beans but I have never found a jar that did not contain a ton of chemicals including msg.  So I go with the black bean garlic sauce (Lee Kum Kee brand) and use a couple tablespoons of that.  Maybe this contains a ton of chemicals too, but I feel better since I don’t know about them.


8 oz. frescoes, serranos, habanero-like red peppers, thai red bird peppers (these are listed from least to most hot)

1-2 tbs of  black bean-garlic 
sauce (depending upon your salt preference)

2 tbs. vegetable oil
1 tbs. rice wine or xiao-xing wine
2 tsp. rice vinegar
1 tbs. sugar


1. Stem the peppers, coarsely chop and briefly  pulse the peppers in a food processor (don’t touch your eyes after this)

2. Heat oil in a small sauce pan, then add the peppers.  Cook for a minute or two (the longer time will reduce the heat).

3. Add the remaining ingredients.

4. Taste and adjust the flavors by adding more salt, vinegar or sugar  or a little more black bean paste.

5. Cool and store in a non-reactive container.  Put on everything including eggs, toast, rice, soup and on and on.

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Beef Rendang (Malaysian/Indonesian Beef Stew)

Posted by fourclankitchen on September 9, 2012

This is arguably the most iconic dish of Indonesia, Malaysia and the surrounding regions.  Even for a non beef lover like me,  this is an amazingly satisfying dish because it tickles every taste bud on your tongue, the sweet, sour, salty, spicy and the Umami (I am told there is also a fat receptor on your tongue, but I haven’t heard about this in a while). I have tried making rendang before and did not like the results.  This recipe from Rasa Malaysia, however, is perfect.  I made only one or two substitutions:  I swapped out lemon zest for Kaffir lime leaves and added extra ginger for galanga, simply because the grocery store did not have these items, but this should be done only in a pinch.  I don’t have a powerful blender and the lemongrass stalks did not get fully pureed in the food processor.  I found the lemon grass chunks annoying while I ate, so I am going to try either just bruising and then taking out the lemon grass or some other substitutes,  like lemon essence and lime juice.  Sorry,  I am not a purist and just want the food to taste good.


1 1/2 pound boneless beef short ribs, cut into cubes  (I could not find the boneless stuff, so used 2.5 lbs of bone in short ribs)
5 tablespoons cooking oil
1 cinnamon stick (about 2-inch long)
3 cloves, whole
3 star anise, whole
3 cardamom pods, lightly crush
1 lemongrass (cut into 4-inch length and pounded)
1 cup thick coconut milk (decant the top half of a can without mixing)
1 cup water
2 teaspoons tamarind pulp (soaked in some warm water for the juice and discard the seeds ).  You can use 1 tsp of tamarind concentrate
6 kaffir lime leaves (very finely sliced)  or zest of 2 limes (a poor substitute, but will do in a pinch)
6 tablespoons kerisik (toasted coconut, see below)
1 tablespoon sugar/palm sugar or to taste (brown sugar if you don’t have palm sugar)
Salt to taste

Spice Paste:

5 shallots
1 inch galangal (I substituted 1″ginger, do this only if you have  to)
3 lemongrass stalks (white part only)
5 cloves garlic
1 inch ginger
10-12 dried chilies (soaked in warm water and seeded)  (I used a single fresh Fresno pepper: my gang here would not go for this level of heat, although I would love it)


  1. Chop the spice paste ingredients and then blend it in a food processor until fine.
  2. Heat the oil in a stew pot, add the spice paste, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, and cardamom and stir-fry them until aromatic.
  3. Add the beef and the pounded lemongrass and stir for 1 minute.
  4. Add the coconut milk, tamarind juice, water, and simmer on medium heat, stirring frequently until the meat is almost cooked.
  5. Add the kaffir lime leaves, kerisik (toasted coconut), sugar/palm sugar, stirring to blend well with the meat.
  6. Lower the heat to low, cover the lid, and simmer for 1 – 1 1/2 hours or until the meat is really tender and the gravy has dried up.
  7. Add salt to taste. If not sweet enough, add more sugar to taste.
  8. Serve immediately with steamed rice and save some for overnight.

Toasted Coconut: 

  1. To prepare the kerisik or toasted coconut, just add the grated coconut to a dry wok and stir continuosly until its turns golden brown.  You can buy fresh frozen coconut at any Indian Grocery Store and toast it for a few min on a cast iron griddle.  It can burn very easily, so be vigilant.

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Almond Poppyseed Cake

Posted by fourclankitchen on September 2, 2012

Anyone who reads this blog knows I have a thing for simple desserts and a bigger thing for all sweet things that contain almonds.  This almond poppyseed cake meets both these requirements.   I was actually surprised by how almondy it was and tasted as wonderful as the almond cake, that I posted previously.  The recipe came mostly from Food and Wine, but I also consulted a recipe in the NYT and LA Times because I did not think that 3/4-1 cup of poppy seeds would work for me.  The 1/4 cup I settled for, was plenty for me.  In order to make up for the lost seeds,  I added almond flour to the recipe.  This worked very well.  I have also seen version that use lemon zest and juice:  that also appeals to me.  Finally,  I found the cake to be a bit too buttery.  Next time, I will  go with 12-14 tbs of butter and will report back.


  1. 1/4 cup poppy seeds (the original recipe calls for 3/4 cup, I thought that would  be too much)
  2. 1/2 cup water
  3. 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  4. 1/4 cup almond meal/almond flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill) This was not in the original recipe, but something needed to stand in for the reduced quantity of  poppy seeds
  5. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  6. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  7. 1 3/4 sticks (14 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened  (next time,  I might try going with 12-13 tbs.  this was a bit much
  8. 1 cup granulated sugar
  9. 4 large eggs
  10. 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  11. 1 teaspoon pure almond extract
  12. Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting  (I did not use)


  1. In a small cup, microwave  the water and poppyseeds for 2 min (You could do this stove top as well). . Let stand for 20 min (the original recipe suggests 1 hour, but the NYT recipe said 20 min for I figured this would just fine)  I also did not crush this mixture in a blender:  I would not bother unless you have one of those high falutin blenders.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly grease and flour an 8-inch square baking pan, tapping out any excess flour. In a medium bowl, whisk the 1 1/3 cups of flour with the almond meal, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat the butter with the granulated sugar at medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the poppy seed mixture and beat at medium speed until just combined. Add the eggs to the batter one at a time, beating well between additions. Beat in the vanilla and almond extracts. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the flour mixture until just incorporated. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake the cake for about 45 minutes, until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert it onto a wire rack and let cool completely, about 2 hours. Dust the cake with confectioners’ sugar if desired, cut into squares and serve.

MAKE AHEAD The poppy seed cake can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Posted in baked, Breads, Breakfast, Brunch, Dessert, Vegetarian | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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