Fool-proof Cream Puffs

Also known as profiteroles, these cream puffs are the perfect bite-sized dessert. I prefer cream puffs made with pastry cream instead of whipped cream because I like the richer flavor of the egg and the silky texture that the pastry cream provides.

What makes this fool-proof? The secret’s in the can. Unlike bovine milk, coconut milk doesn’t have any dairy solids that would burn and create lumps in your pastry cream. The coconut milk is also higher in fat so the cream is more likely to set, with help from the cornstarch. The final result is an ultra smooth finish and a nice subtle coconut flavor to the cream. Another bonus is that canned coconut milk is shelf-stable and doesn’t spoil as quickly as refrigerated milk (I always keep a can somewhere in my apartment because it’s so useful to have!).

Fool-proof Cream Puffs
Total Time: 2 Hours Active Time: 45 Minutes
Servings: About 24 filled puffs

Ingredients: (Total Eggs Needed = 7-8)
Pastry Cream:
80g or 4 egg yolks
80g or 1/2 cup granulated sugar
16g or 2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
440g or 1 can unsweetened canned coconut milk
52g or 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
10g or 2 tsp vanilla extract

Choux:
113g or 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
233g or 1 cup water
120g or 1 cup all-purpose flour
3g or 1/2 tsp salt
120g or 2 large eggs (+1 extra in case your batter is too thick)
1 egg yolk, for egg wash

1. Make the Pastry Cream.

1a) Heat coconut milk and prepare egg mixture. In a medium pot, heat coconut milk over medium heat until a gentle boil is reached. In a separate large bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until smooth; then whisk in cornstarch and salt.

1b) Combine mixtures, add butter and flavor, and chill. When coconut milk is at a gentle boil, slowly pour hot milk into the egg mixture to temper the eggs. Add warmed egg mixture back to the pot of milk and while continuously whisking, bring to a boil or until well-thickened (about 1-2 minutes, you should feel resistance on your whisk). Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl. Whisk in butter pieces to chill mixture and add final vanilla extract. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge while you make your choux batter. You can also stop here and use your cream for cakes, tarts, or eaten simply with fresh berries.

Note: The cream should be very smooth however if your pastry cream is clumpy, you can pass your cream through a mesh strainer.

2. Prep Oven & Baking Sheets. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

3. Make the Choux batter.

3a) Make roux. In a clean medium pot, heat water and cubed butter together until a full simmer, and whisk vigorously to emulsify the fats from the butter and the water together. Remove from the heat, add flour and salt and stir until well incorporated and no dry clumps remain. The consistency will be a thick paste (roux). Transfer to a separate bowl.

3b) More emulsification (with eggs)! Incorporate eggs, one at a time until fully combined. The batter will look clumpy at first, but it will come together as you mix. After the last egg has been incorporated, check consistency of your batter- it should be elastic, smooth and should slowly fall off the spoon into a “V”. Depending on what kind of flour you are using or the size of your eggs, you may need to add an extra half-egg (whisked egg, poured into the batter) to achieve this.

4. Pipe, Egg Wash, and Bake. Using a round pastry tip or a Ziploc bag with the tip cut off, pipe 1″ rounds onto baking trays about 1″ apart from each other. Dampen your finger with a small amount of water and flatten the tops, then mix 1 egg yolk with 1 Tbsp of water to make egg wash. Brush rounds with egg wash, then bake trays in oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool complete before assembly.*

5. Assemble. Carefully slit the cream puffs in half, then fill with your chilled Pastry Cream. Dust with powdered sugar and enjoy!

Q: What if I don’t have canned coconut milk? Can I use ___ milk as a substitute? You can absolutely substitute 1:1 for any milk you have. If you have full fat coconut cream, you can dilute by adding 1:1 coconut cream to water. Just a note that if you’re using dairy-based milk, keep an eye out for the milk to make sure it doesn’t scald on the stovetop.

Cheers!
-Jenna

*If you’re not planning to eat within 1-2 days, you can store the unfilled puffs in the freezer for about a month. Allow them to come to room temperature before filling. (Do not place your cream in the freezer)

Weeknight Omurice

If you’re thinking this is the recipe for the famous KichiKichi omurice, with the voluptuous omelette that spills over when sliced and drenched in thick demi-glace sauce… sorry to say, this isn’t it. I’ve attempted, failed numerously, and finally came to terms with the hard truth that: 1) I am not an omelette pro, and 2) I do not need to have this perfect cascading omelette in order to make good omurice. So you can leave that one to the pros (or for your weekend omurice).

This is the weeknight recipe, the one I whip up when I have leftover cooked rice on hand and plenty of eggs. It’s one of the easiest meals I keep in rotation and trust me when I say, you won’t be missing the runny egg goo with this recipe.

This recipe is different than your typical omurice recipe because it uses toppings normally used for okonomiyaki (my fav Japanese street food!). These days, I keep these toppings on hand in the pantry not for okonomiyaki, but mostly for omurice.

Weeknight Omurice
Total Time: 25 Minutes Active Time: 20 Minutes
Servings: 2

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup carrot, diced
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp ketchup
4 oz boneless chicken thigh, diced
1 cup cooked rice
6 eggs, whisked
Salt and pepper to taste
For topping: Dried bonito flakes, dried seaweed, Kewpie mayo

  1. In a non-stick pan, heat butter over medium heat until foamy, and add carrots, onion, and garlic, stirring until fragrant and softened.

2. Add chicken and cook until thoroughly cooked before adding soy sauce, ketchup and cooked rice. Gently stir until rice is evenly coated in sauce. If needed, add 1 Tbsp of water, and salt and pepper to taste. Set ketchup rice aside in a separate bowl and wipe pan clean.

3. To make the omelette, heat 1 Tbsp of oil over medium heat. Add half of whisked eggs, stirring gently and swirling pan until eggs are par-cooked. Remove pan from heat.

4. Add half of ketchup rice mixture to the middle of the pan, and very gently and using a rubber spatula, fold omelette around rice. Carefully flip onto serving plate.

5. Place pan back on heat, and repeat process for remaining eggs and rice mixture. To finish, top both omurice plates with Kewpie, ketchup, dried seaweed, and bonito flakes. Enjoy! 🙂

Cheers!
-Jenna

The Dutch Baby Pancake

This is my tried-and-true O-G recipe for dutch baby pancakes. Perfect for lazy Sunday mornings because it’s so simple and doesn’t require you to slave over the stove top making stacks of pancakes. The result is one large pancake with crispy tall edges and a soft fluffy center, with its impressive presentation that will warrant “oohs” and “aahs” from your friends… even though all you did was mix things together and pour them into 1 pan.

You will need: 1 mixing bowl (w/a pour spout), 1 whisk, 1 microwave-safe cup, 1 cast-iron skillet (or oven-safe pan, about 6-10″). Easy clean-up so you can carry on with the rest of your day.

Dutch Baby Pancake (sweet batter)
Total Time: 30 Minutes Active Time: 10 Minutes
Yield: 2 Servings (1 Dutch Baby Pancake)

Ingredients:
3 eggs
25g granulated sugar (2 Tbsp)
3g salt
120g all-purpose flour (1 Cup)
233g whole milk* (1 Cup), warmed in the microwave
5g vanilla extract
25g unsalted butter (2 Tbsp)

1. Prep Oven & Pan. Preheat oven and pan at 425°F.

2. Mix together all ingredients except butter.
Warm the milk in the microwave-safe cup (1 min should be fine)

Whisk together ingredients in this order: Eggs, sugar, salt, milk, flour, vanilla extract. Mix until incorporated and you have a thin batter.

3. Melt the butter in the pan and add batter. When the oven has been pre-heated, remove the hot pan (carefully!) and melt the butter directly on the pan, swirling the pan to coat the edges. Pour in the batter from your bowl, place pan back into oven and bake.

4. Bake and lower temp. Bake for 15 minutes at 425 °F. The pancake will have reached an impressive height at this point but do not open the oven door! Lower temperature to 350 °F and bake for 13-15 minutes longer.

5. Add toppings and serve! Remove pancake from the oven and top with chopped berries, or simply lemon juice and powdered sugar before serving alongside your favorite maple syrup. 🙂

*For a dairy-free version, you can substitute 1:1 for ricemilk or almondmilk!

Mason-Jar Kimchi

Kimchi has quickly become a staple in my fridge because of its versatility: not just by itself on the side, but also in weeknight fried rice, Korean stews/pancakes, in sandwiches, even on top of tacos. For a while now, I’ve stopped buying kimchi altogether and started making my own because it’s more cost-efficient, and I can control the spice level and amount of funkiness/fermentation I like. Mild-medium spice, with just the perfect amount of fizzy crunch.

This kimchi recipe is adapted from Maangchi‘s O-G recipe. I really like her porridge-method, because it thickens up the kimchi paste nicely (better paste-adhesion to the wet cabbage leaves). I simplified and tailored the recipe to my preference by using the ingredients (and jars) I have on hand, and shortening the porridge step by using the microwave instead of the stovetop. If you prefer more spicy, you can add more Gochugaru or if you prefer a young, crunchy kimchi then you can shorten the fermentation time on the counter.

Mason-Jar Kimchi, adapted from Maangchi
Total Time: 1.5 Hour Active Time: 30 Minutes
Yield: About 2 Cups of Kimchi paste*

Ingredients:
2 Napa cabbages, cored and coarsely chopped
4 scallions, coarsely chopped
1/2 Cup kosher salt
1-inch ginger, peeled
6 garlic cloves
1 small apple or Asian pear, coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 Cup Gochugaru/Korean red pepper powder
2 Tbsp fish sauce
2 Tbsp glutinous rice flour
1/4 Cup water

1. Prep and salt the cabbage. Coarsely chop the cabbage into large pieces and place into very large bowl. Add half of the salt, mix together and allow cabbage to sit for approx. 30 mins.

After 30 mins, drain the excess water, then add remaining salt. Wait another 30 mins. Then, drain and rinse cabbage with cold water and set aside. The cabbage pieces will feel limp and bendable compared to rigid.

2. Make the Kimchi paste. Place fish sauce, onion, apple, ginger, and Gochugaru into blender and blend until smooth. Pour in some water if needed to get the mixture going.

With the remaining water, add glutinous rice flour and mix together in a separate bowl. Microwave on HIGH for 30 seconds, or until water is hot. Mix together until very thick porridge is formed, then add to blender.

3. Prep clean Mason jars (or any fermenting containers). Place plastic wrap over the jar opening, then pierce hole in the center; make sure the wrap covers the inside and outside of the opening. This prevents the lip of the jar from getting messy with kimchi paste, and provides easier clean-up when you’re filling the jars.

My preferred Mason jar size is wide-mouth 32 oz.

4. Combine kimchi paste + cabbage + scallions, then jar. Add kimchi paste and chopped scallions to the rinsed cabbage pieces, then mix with a spoon, ensuring all pieces are coated with the paste. Then pack the kimchi into the jars, pushing down with the back of a spoon and leaving about 3 cm of headspace towards the top. Loosely cap the jars. Place all jars onto a lipped plate in case of leakage, then ferment.

5. Ferment at room temperature for desired time, about 3-5 days. Once a day, examine kimchi for activity and press down kimchi with the back of a spoon. When desired flavor is achieved, fully close jars and store in the fridge. Your kimchi is now ready 🙂

Q: Will mold grow on my kimchi if I leave it at room temperature? The gochugaru will have enough spice to prevent unwanted mold from contaminating your kimchi. To stay safe, always use clean containers, and check on/press down at your kimchi daily to keep the cabbage submerged in the spicy paste. If you see any unwanted growth or no activity within 2 days, discard and try again.

Q: How will I know my kimchi is actively fermenting? When pressing down on the kimchi, you will see + hear the CO2 bubbles rising to the top! The addition of the pear/apple (aka readily available sugar) helps to kick-start the fermentation, so it’s very likely that your kimchi has become active after 1 day.

Cheers!
-Jenna

*The recipe for the kimchi paste yields about 2 cups which is enough for about 2 large Napa cabbages, or about 5 – 32 oz mason jars. If you’re using just 1 cabbage, you can make the full recipe for the paste, then keep the remaining in the fridge for readily-available kimchi paste.

The Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken noodle soup has a special place in my heart. It is one of the few foods I could eat repeatedly without getting tired. It’s also what I make whenever I need to cure any sickness or sadness. And if you tell me you’re feeling down or looking for an easy recipe to make for your weeknight rotations, I would recommend this go-to recipe for chicken noodle soup.

The best part about this soup is the simplicity– Low Effort for Maximum Yield of Deliciousness. This recipe doesn’t require store bought chicken stock, uses 1 stockpot, and it’s easy to gather up all the main ingredients if you know Beyonce’s* favorite number…. 4!

For 6 servings (or enough for 4 very hungry people), I need 4 chicken leg quarters, 4 carrots, 4 celery stalks, 4 onion halves**, 4 Tbsp of chopped parsley and 4 cups of noodles.

The Chicken Noodle Soup
Total Time: 1 Hour Active Time: 15 Minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients:
4 chicken leg quarters, bone-in and skin-on (about 3 lbs)
4 cups dry wide egg noodles (about ½ lb)
4 celery stalks, chopped into ¼ in. pieces
4 medium carrots, sliced into ¼ in. rounds
2 medium yellow onions, diced
4 Tbsp parsley, finely chopped
2 dried bay leaves
1 Tbsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried thyme (optional)

1. In a large stockpot, bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Add 2 Tbsp salt and egg noodles. Cook noodles for 3-4 mins, stirring the pot occasionally until pasta is al dente.

(I forgot to take a photo of me boiling the pasta, but you get the idea…)

2. While pasta is cooking, wash and chop all the vegetables, keeping the onion, celery and carrot together in a bowl. (Don’t forget to keep stirring the noodles.)

3. When noodles reach al dente, drain and reserve noodles in colander. Rinse the stockpot with more water to remove excess starch, then place it back on stove top over medium heat, adding 2 Tbsp canola oil to the pot.

To prevent the noodles from sticking, add 2 tsp of canola oil.

4. Add onion-celery-carrot mixture, 1 Tbsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, and 1 tsp thyme (optional) to the stockpot, stirring occasionally and cooking for 3 minutes or until onions are translucent.

5. Add chicken legs, 6-8 cups of water (enough to cover the chicken legs), and bay leaves to stockpot. Allow mixture to come to a boil, then lower heat and cover with lid. Simmer for 45 minutes or until chicken is falling off the bone.

6. Turn off heat, remove chicken legs from soup and place into bowl. Shred meat using 2 forks into bite sized pieces. Remove bones and add chicken meat back to stockpot.

**If you’re meal prepping for later, you can store the noodles and the chicken soup in separate containers to prevent the noodles from bloating and soaking up all your delicious broth.**

7. When ready to eat, stir in cooked pasta noodles and chopped parsley. Portion into bowls and devour 🙂

Once you try homemade chicken noodle soup, there’s no going back to the canned supermarket soup. And once you learn how to make it for yourself, you too may find yourself eating 3 bowls in one sitting…

Cheers!
-Jenna

*Speaking of Beyonce, Love on Top is my ode to Chicken Noodle Soup and should be played on full volume while making this recipe for optimal results.
**Technically it’s 2 onions, but let’s call it 4 onion halves… I like the 4.