Dan Dan Noodles

On today’s episode of Corona Cucina, we’re going to make Dan Dan Noodles.

It’s a family favorite, we had it in Chengdu (no surprises there), and is a dish that I have been craving ever since we got back home. I thought the process will be chaotic and I’ll never get it right, but when I got down actually making it, the dish came out really really well.

They’re so well rounded and yummy its unbelievable!

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All the Sichuan cooking I have been doing has been pretty close to the real thing – and this is without adding any MSG. I am a huge David Chang fan, and if he says MSG is okay to eat and the whole hate around MSG is western propaganda, and is in fact, filled with xenophobia – then I’ll buy it. So would I add a sprinkle of MSG if I had it handy? Absolutely!

These are the pictures of the OG Dan Dan Noodles I had in Chengdu at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant recommended by The Food Ranger in his Chengdu Food Guide Book – which is a life saver considering (in all honesty) it’s difficult for non-mandarin speaking tourists to navigate through must-eat spots and food menus in Chengdu. If and when you ever visit Chengdu, I highly recommend purchasing this book which totals to about INR 700.

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So, I began channeling my inner Po, used peanut butter instead of Tahini in this recipe, and, I think it tasted better than the original because of the added sesame oil which doesn’t make you miss that rounded sesame flavour.

I made a chicken version, but if you’re vegetarian you can make a mushroom / soya mince version. Just follow the same steps – make sure the mushrooms are diced finely to crisp them up faster, and please prepare the soya mince as per packet instructions – cause I have no clue how to do that. The chicken mince needs to get crispy in the wok – its more like this crispy topping (delicious, right?) than this filling protein.

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Here’s what you need: (for a portion of two)

  • 100g egg noodles
  • 1 – 2 teaspoon Chilli oil (depends on how hot you like your food)
  • 2-3 Scallions (green part only)
  • 4 Tbsp Crushed Peanuts
    • I personally didn’t think this needed any vegetables added and wanted to keep this as authentic and street style as possible. But if you’re OCD about having vegetables then you want to blanch your greens (in salted water) and add them to the bowl during assembly

For the chicken:

  • 250g chicken mince
  • 6 garlic cloves – chopped finely
  • 1/2 inch ginger – chopped finely
  • 1 teaspoon dark soy
  • 1 tablespoon light soy
  • White pepper
  • Salt
  • 1 teaspoon chilli oil
  • 3 tablespoons of oil – for cooking

Dressing:

  • 1 heaped tablespoon of Peanut Butter
  • 1 tablespoon light soy
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon black vinegar
  • Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic

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Here’s what you need to do:

The chicken came first.

Place the oil in a wok and add the garlic to cold oil. Bring the wok up to heat and let the garlic bubble away. Once the oil is sufficiently hot and the garlic is sizzling, add the ginger and cook it out for 30 seconds. Add the chicken mince – you want to cook this out till the water and juices evaporate – again, to reiterate, this is going to get crispy. Add salt and pepper to the chicken mince.

Keep breaking up any chunks which keep coming together while stirring ever so often. Once the chicken begins to dry, season with the sauces and continue to cook until the chicken and the oil begin to separate and the chicken is crispy. Simple.

Cook the noodles as per packet instructions (heavily salted), save the noodle water.

Mix all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. It might begin to coagulate, which is absolutely normal. At this point you spoon in two tablespoons of the hot noodle water and stir till you have a nice, smooth dressing which will easily coat the noodles and hold on like a clingy partner.

Spoon the dressing in the serving bowl, followed my the hot noodles, chicken mince, scallion greens and crushed peanuts! Drizzle the bowl with chilli oil. If you make it and you like it, you may reach out to me, bend in gratitude and repeat after me – “There is no secret ingredient” 😀

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Two Ingredient Chocolate Mousse

This recipe defied everything that I thought I knew about chocolate. I’m a food snob, having watched and re-watched every single episode of every single season of Masterchef Australia, I am a self proclaimed food encyclopaedia. I was under the impression that chocolate and water are enemies – especially while melting chocolate – I thought that if even a single droplet of water falls into melted chocolate – it will seize. Apparently not, well at least not in this science defying recipe.

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Two ingredients, that’s all its going to take for you to whip up a delicious tasting mousse , which you can top with flakey sea salt and any fresh berries – if you have them at the bottom of your fridge somewhere.

I saw this recipe first in New York Times Cooking – and thats when I knew I had to try it. It’s super simple and a brilliant lockdown recipe – because assuming you have water and are surviving – its actually a one ingredient mousse!

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Here’s what you need:

  • 250gm of chocolate – chopped
  • 225ml of water
  • Flakey sea salt

Here’s what you need to do:

Prepare an ice bath – Fill a large bowl with ice cubes and chilled water. On top of the cold water, place another bowl (for you to make your mousse in).

On a medium flame, place a heavy bottomed pan and transfer the chopped chocolate in. Pour in the 225ml of water and begin stirring with a whisk. You don’t need to whisk furiously – just until everything is melted and comes together, 3 to 5 minutes.

Once both the ingredients have come together, transfer to the bowl floating in the ice bath and WHISK like you mean it. You’ll have to whisk for about 5 to 8 minutes. You want to quickly bring down the temperature of the chocolate mix and incorporate air into the soon to be chocolate cloud. When the chocolate begins to look mousse-like, transfer to a bowl and top with flakey salt. Simple. Now you may eat.

Intervention: In case your ice melts, and the bowl isn’t cold anymore and therefore, the chocolate is not becoming fluffy. Pop the chocolate bowl in the freezer for five minutes, refresh the ice bath with chilled water and more ice cubes and give it another go – it’s going to come together I promise.

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Coffee Cake with Chocolate Ganache Frosting

This Coffee Cake with Chocolate Ganache is the latest addition to my list of comfort desserts.

It’s a guilt-free dessert (if such a thing exists!). It’s not guilt-free cause it has any less sugar or anything, but it’s just quite light and sinful yet doesn’t make you feel like you’ve committed one, plus, it has almonds and a chocolate frosting and coffee.

This cake came to me at a point in time when I was seriously craving a coffee cake, something on the lines of a tiramisu or a frosted coffee cake (something slightly more richer than this – more like a birthday cake).

A definite crowd pleaser this one!

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Now coming back to how I came across this – The recipe which started this coffee chocolate madness belongs to a lovely lady – Anita. The recipe can be found on her blog. Anita also taught me how to bake sourdoughs (more of this soon! – hopefully). And I knew, that coming from Anita, this recipe is gonna be a hit.

Her recipe can be found here. If you make it – let her know how you liked it!

I made just a couple of changes to her recipe. My slightly tweaked version can be found below.

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Here is what you need:

  1. For the Cake:
  • 1 Cup Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Eggs
  • 3/4 Cup Butter
  • The original recipe calls for oil – but I really wanted a richer cake – so I used butter instead
  • 1 Tablespoon Coffee Powder (Instant)
  • 4 Tablespoons Milk
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Almonds

2. For the Ganache:

  • 150g Heavy Cream
  • 250g Semi-Sweet Chocolate (Chopped)

What you need to do:

  1. Pre heat the oven to 180DegreesC
  2. Grease and prepare a cake pan – 9″ works but I baked it in a 7″ Bundt pan. In case you’re using a budnt pan – grease with butter and then dust with flour to make sure the cake comes out easily
  3. Sift together flour, salt and baking powder- set aside.
  4. Beat butter and sugar together in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment until pale and fluffy.
  5. Add in the eggs – one after the other, beating well after each addition.
  6. Once the eggs are well incorporated add in the vanilla.
  7. Simultaneously – dissolve the instant coffee powder in the milk and add that in as well.
  8. Toss the chopped almond in the flour mix.
  9. Add the flour and almond mix to the egg batter and fold gently, without over mixing the batter.
  10. Bake for 30-35 Mins until a skewer inserted – comes out clean.

For the Ganache:

  • Heat the cream in a sauce pan just until it begins to simmer around the edges.
  • Pour over the chocolate – let sit for a minute or two and then whisk it till all the chocolate is melted and you have a ganache of spreadable consistency.

To assemble the cake – Slap and slather on the chocolate all over the curves of your bundt cake and eeeeat it guilt-free 🙂

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Raspberry & White Chocolate Blondies

You know whats equally delicious than the fabulous combination of dark chocolate and raspberry? It’s switching the dark chocolate out for it’s much controversial and love/hate pale sibling, white chocolate, which when combined with raspberries is the most glorious thing I have ever tried.

The last time I had posted something on this blog/ universe was a blueberry crumble cake after I had returned from my trip to Jordan. So, I thought it only made sense for me to post a recipe now, inspired by my trip to Paris earlier this year, where I had the most incredible, incredible, incredible ice cream at Berthillon. One scoop of the creamiest white chocolate ice cream, topped with a tart, smooth and bright raspberry sorbet.

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White Chocolate Ice Cream topped with Raspberry Sorbet

Coming back to those blondies, which, if you’ve been living under a rock, are essentially fudgey brownies minus the cocoa. These blondies are fudgey and subtly sweet with bursts of raspberry. The blondies when cooked and perfectly tanned taste so wonderfully caramelised.

Don’t be sceptical about working with white chocolate, buy good quality chocolate and since this isn’t really in your face sweet – it will work out well if its your first affair with white chocolate.

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So wait no more, and just scroll down for these fab fab fab blondies.

What you will need:

150 grams white chocolate – chopped

1 cup all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup butter – at room temperature

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1/3 cup white chocolate chips

1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries

This is what you need to do:

Preheat your oven at 180 degrees.

Butter and line an 8 inch square baking dish.

Melt the chopped white chocolate  in the microwave in bursts of 30 seconds. After every interval stir the chocolate with a spatula to make sure it melts evenly. Set aside to cool slightly.

If you’re using fresh raspberries – skip this step. Else, in a heavy bottom pot, place a cup of frozen berries, and turn the heat to medium. Cook this down until the mixture thickens – about 5 and remove from heat – let it cool.

Sift the flour and salt in a small bowl and set aside.

Using a stand mixer or a hand held electric whisk, beat the butter and brown sugar together until well blended. It doesn’t have to be all whipped and fluffy, but just make sure its blended well and the butter begins to look creamy.

Next, add in the eggs one by one, making sure the first egg is well incorporated before adding the second one, beatttttt it.

Add in the extracts, mix for another 30 seconds, then drizzle in the white chocolate which we had melted. Once mixed, sift in the flour mix with a spatula until just combined.

Toss in the white chocolate chips (and, the fresh raspberries, if you have them!). And transfer the batter to the prepared tin. If you’re using frozen raspberries like me, put the blondie batter in the tin, and then, using a spoon, put blobs of the raspberry compote about one inch a part, and swirl it with a toothpick (or in my case, a stick of uncooked spaghetti :))

Bake it in the oven for about 30 mins – keep an eye on it – once it started to brown slightly from the top, you want to remove it from the oven.

Cool to room temperature, eat it, and then thank me.

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Blueberry Crumble Cake

I haven’t been inside my kitchen to bake ever since I have gotten back from Jordan.

All of us went on the most mesmerising trip to this hidden jewel in the Middle East. That country is like none other. I think I may have to write a blog post on my trip with all our quirky experiences and top travel tips for the country, and, also to share the amazing photos of the different landscapes that all of us clicked. Yup, adding this to my to-do list.

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Temple of Artemis – Jerash, Jordan
So, the only thing on the trip which was slightly underwhelming was the variety of food on offer. On a ten day trip with 30 meals to eat, we felt exhausted by all the hummus, labneh, fuul, kebab, Mansaf and pita breads on display. Also, since the parents travelling with us were vegetarians, Jordanian food didn’t offer much so in came the average Italian food.

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Blueberry Jewelled Cake with a Golden Toasted Crumble on top!
Anyway, by the fifth or the sixth day of the trip, I was dreaming about this delicious fruit cake I had whipped up just a few days before leaving. So this post is long over due.

My amazing neighbour and one of the official tasters of everything I bake, gifted me a box of blueberries to play around with. I had all sorts of ideas like pies, cobblers, cakes, muffins and jams that I wanted to pull out of my hat. But since I just had this one box, I settled on a Crumble Cake which is a sort of muffin-meets-cobbler cake hybrid. And boy oh boy did this cake vanish in 45 mins after baking and clicking pictures.

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This cake is deal for afternoon tea time, or in my case even breakfast! This is the ultimate fruit cake/non-icing cake to enjoy with a cuppa joe.

The recipe I used is adapted from Laura Vitale’s version of her Blueberry cake.

I basically ditched the sour cream and used greek yoghurt instead, worked a treat! And, I definitely prefer more crumble for that toasted crumbly crunchy texture on top of the cake which just tastes divine without or with (definitely with)  heavy cream!

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You can find my recipe below:

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup greek yoghurt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 butter
  • 2 cups of fresh blueberries

For the crumble:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter

Here’s what you need to do:

Preheat your oven to 175 degrees celsius and place the wire rack in the centre. Line and grease a 9inch spring form pan. Make sure you have a springform pan, you don’t want to turn a crumble cake upside down.

For the crumble:

Dump in all the ingredients of the crumble in a bowl then using your fingertips or a pastry cutter, cut or break the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside and start the cake stuff.

For the cake:

Before you begin, take two tablespoons of the flour (from the cake batch) and sprinkle on top of the blueberries and toss it until the flour is evenly distributed. This process makes sure that the blueberries don’t sink to the bottom of the cake while baking. Moving on…

In a bowl, sift together the dry ingredients; flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda together.

In another larger mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until pale and well incorporated. Add in the eggs one by one, and beat thoroughly until well combined. If you rush the addition of the eggs and don’t mix it well, the batter would split. Not that this will affect your end product, since once you add the dry ingredients at a later stage everything will come together. Nonetheless, whisk it up!

Once both the eggs are mixed in, add in the yoghurt, milk and vanilla extract and mix until the mixture is smooth.

Throw in the dry mix, and fold the batter until smooth and there are no lumps of flour. Tumble in the blueberries and stir well. Don’t stir too much or the blueberries will break.

Transfer the batter into the prepared cake pan. Sprinkle the crumble on top of the cake evenly and pop the pan into the oven and bake for about 45-50 mins.

Now the thing with fruit cakes, is that you cant really prick the centre and tell when its done, because since this contains fresh fruit, it releases water and juice which will moisten the surrounding cake crumbs. So prick around without structurally damaging the cake, and once a few inserts come out clean, or slightly moist (and are visibly blue from bluerries), you are good to go and your tea cake is ready!

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