Thursday, April 21, 2011

Blueberry Crisp from Tate’s Bake Shop Cookbook

There’s a lot of hometown pride in today’s recipe and quite a story behind the wonderful baker whose recipe this is.  She’s a Southampton native who, at age 11, got her start baking sweets for her father’s Farm stand on Noyac Road. 
She’s Kathleen King Tate and she's a local hero whose Bake Shop turns out
all kinds of fantastic confections none more famous than her Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Kathleen's Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies
        These fantastic buttery, crispy, caramel-tasting delights are her signature product.  Amazingly, she now sells them in 40 states and brings in  $6,000,000 in annual sales.  There were some ups and downs along the way. Originally called Kathleen’s Cookies, Kathleen took on some partners a few years ago who did the unthinkable.  They moved the baking end of the business to Virginia from Southampton and so changed the recipe that Kathleen bowed out, leaving her name behind but recapturing her recipe and renaming her cookies “Tate’s”.  Whatever their name, they will always be Kathleen’s cookies to everyone around here.
The Irresistible Tate's Bake Shop
        To those of us who live nearby, Tate’s Bake Shop is a more than the place we go to get a chocolate chip cookie fix.  It’s a gorgeous little bakery Kathleen opened when she was all of 23.  The moment you walk in the door it embraces you with the aroma of beautiful fresh cakes and pies, brownies and blondies.  There’s Granola for Breakfast and Pound Cakes for tea.  And there is a remarkable Blueberry Crisp.
        There’s something about a Crisp that is irresistible. Is it the crunch of the topping or the juiciness of the fruit?  It’s the tartness of the berries and the sweetness of the sugar in one delicious bite.  Since the Blueberry is pretty much a year-round fruit, you don’t have to wait ‘til summer to enjoy this fantastic treat.  Here’s the recipe:

Recipe for Blueberry Crisp for Tate’s Bake Shop Cookbook

For the Blueberry Mixture:

5 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen, if you must)

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch (mixed with 2 tablespoons cold water or juice)

For the Crumb Topping:

3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

3 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar or 3 tablespoons light brown sugar

3 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 

6 tablespoons salted butter, chopped

1.   Preheat oven to 350° F.
2.   Make the blueberry mixture: combine 2 cups blueberries and 1/4 cup sugar in a medium saucepan; cook mixture over low heat.
3.   When the blueberries start to soften, stir in the cornstarch mixture and cook, stirring often, until the mixture thickens and clears. Stir in the remaining 3 cups of blueberries; pour mixture into an 8×8 inch square pan.
4.   Make the topping: mix the flour, walnuts, brown sugar, sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl; add the butter and mix it with your hands or a pastry cutter until the mixture forms moist crumbs.
5.   Sprinkle the crumb mixture on top of the blueberries.
6.   Bake for 40 minutes or until the topping is golden and the filling is bubbling.
7.   Cool slightly, and serve the crisp with whipped cream or ice cream.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Filipino Fried Noodles with Chicken and Vegetables courtesy of “The Asian Grandmother’s Cookbook” by Patricia Tanumihardja

        I have some good friends whose families are Filipino. And although for some time, my friend Ethel has threatened to kidnap me and take me to Queens for some Filipino restaurant food, we haven’t made it yet.   Come to think of it, there are far more Korean and Thai and Vietnamese restaurants all over the place than there are Filipino. And until this dish came along, I’d never cooked anything from there.  But this stir fry is well worth making for its subtle fresh flavors.  It’s absolutely not hard to make at all. There’s just some dicing and chopping and you’re good to go.  And you certainly don’t need a wok; You can easily use a big non-stick frying pan like I did.   For those of you averse to heat or feeding young children, this is a really wonderfully mild dish that no one’s going to find too spicy.   
        Filipino cooking is all about combinations of sweet, sour and salty generally combining all three in one dish.  However, it is not heavily spiced. I even had to send the recipe to my friend Ethel to see whether there was any chance I'd left something out or that the recipe had been spiced down for the American palate.  No, she said.  It was very much on the lines of what her grandmother prepared on her last trip to the Philippines.  I found this quite amazing given that Hispanic, Chinese and other Asian cultures have all influenced Filipino food.  The earliest Filipinos came from Southern China and Taiwan.  Trading with other Asian countries led to a lot more blending of cuisines.  It was the Spanish who brought chili peppers and tomatoes into the Phillipines.   But even then, the peppers were frequently used just for their leaves and not for their punch. After the Spanish established themselves, there was an even greater influx of ethnic Chinese.  In fact, Chinese food became the staple of the panciterias or noodle shops that burst onto the scene in the 19th century.   The recipe I am sharing with you today could have come right from a panciteria. It even gets its Filipino name from there: Pancit.
        Pancit is probably one of the best known Filipino dishes. But Pancit has about as many recipes as there are Filipino cooks.  This one, from a marvelously instructive cookbook called  “The Asian Grandmother’s Cookbook” by PatriciaTanumihardja (Sasquatch Books, 2009) uses both Rice noodles and and Chinese wheat noodles. But if those aren’t readily available you can use flat egg noodles and cellophane noodles which are relatively easy to find if your supermarket has an Asian aisle. Here’s the recipe:

Recipe for Pancit, Filipino Fried Noodles
Rice Noodles
8 oz dried vermicelli (rice noodles) (1/2 package)

Chinese Wheat Noodles
8 oz pancit canton noodles (you can also use Chinese egg noodles)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I like canola)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped finely (about 1-1/2 cups)
1 pound chicken breast or thigh, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/4 cup toyomansi (if you don’t have toyomansi, use 1/2 cup soy sauce and squeeze in 1 to 2 tablespoons of lemon or lime juice to taste)
1/4 cup soy sauce

1/2 head small cabbage, shredded (about 4 cups)
2 large carrots, peeled and shredded (about 1-1/2-2 cups)
2 stalks celery, trimmed and chopped
2 stalks green onions, cut into ‘O’s (optional for garnish)
Soak rice noodles in warm water for 10-15 minutes until soft, then cut into 4-inch lengths. Place the egg noodles in a large heat-proof bowl. Pour boiling water to cover. Let stand 1 minute. Drain and set aside.
In a wok or large skillet, stir fry garlic and onions in oil until fragrant and onions are translucent, about 2 minutes, over medium-high heat. Add chicken and fry until no longer pink. Add toyomansi and soy sauce. Toss to coat chicken. Add vegetables and stir fry until cabbage wilts. 

Add noodles and keep stir frying until well coated and heated through. I know it looks very unprofessional but I recommend using the two-handed method to evenly toss the noodles like below.
Add water or stock a few tablespoons at a time if noodles are looking too dry. Test rice noodles for doneness. Scatter green onions for garnish and serve.