Easy Pumpernickel Bread

 

Pumpernickel is a heavy, slightly sweet bread made with rye. It’s soft and tender, and perfect for winter weather. Even though traditional German style Pumpernickel contains no coloring agents, and during baking, a process known as the Maillard reaction produces the deep brown color, sweet, dark chocolate, coffee flavor, and earthy aroma that Pumpernickel is known for. But in order to achieve this, the loaves have to be baked in long narrow covered pans for 16 to 24 hours in a super low-temperature (about 120 °C or 250 °F) and allow the steam to slowly cook it in the oven. If you want to check it out, the Youtube channel Great Big Story made a video called Baking Bread with Lava in Iceland, talking about a similar tradition in Iceland. However, what we are making today is a much easier version of it with almost a very similar flavor and texture profile, with the addition of wheat flour, at a higher baking temperature, and a dramatically shortened baking time.

You’ll Need:

  • 360 g (or 3 cups) bread flour
  • 160 g (or 1.5 cups) dark rye flour
  • 50 g (or 0.5 cup) cornmeal
  • 25 g (or 0.25 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 470 mL (or 2 cups) whole milk
  • 60 mL (or 0.25 cup) molasses
  • 3 g (or 1 tsp) kosher salt
  • 20 g (or 1.5 tbsp) dark brown sugar
  • 10 g (or 1 tbsp) active dry yeast
  • 45 g (or 3 tbsp) unsalted butter, softened (plus more for greasing)

How to make this:

  1. In a large glass bowl, whisk together the bread flour with the rye flour, cornmeal, cocoa powder, and salt. (This is the dry mix, notice we didn’t add the sugar to the mixture because in baking, sugar is usually considered to be apart of wet mix)
  2. Heat up the whole milk in a cream pan until it reaches about 40 °C or 204 °F. Mix the brown sugar and the yeast into the full milk and let it stand at room temperature until it gets a little foamy, which takes about 5 minutes. (In this process, we add the sugar to the warm milk so that we can provide an ideal environment for the yeast to do its thing)
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the yeast mixture with the molasses until it mixes together evenly at low speed. Then add the dry ingredients to the bowl and continue mixing at moderately low speed until the dough begins to clean the sides of the bowl, which takes about 6 minutes. And finally, add the softened butter and increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until the butter is incorporated and the dough is sticking to the hook, about 6 minutes more. (The dough at this point will look kinda greasy)
  4. Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and it springs back to the touch,  it takes about 8 to 10 minutes. Then transfer the dough to a buttered bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise at room temperature until it doubles in size, about 1 to 1.5 hour.
  5. Pat the dough down, then place it in a lightly butter a loaf pan, and cover it an let it rises for another 3o min. When the dough is at its final rise, preheat the oven to 190°C or 375°F. Then bake the pumpernickel bread for about 35 minutes, until the crust is dark brown. Let the bread sit for more 10 minutes outside the oven in the loaf pan, then carefully remove the bread from the loaf pan and let cool completely (1 hour or longer).
  6. Optional: I like to sprinkle on some rolled oats before baking to add a nice crunch on the crust. You can add almost any crushed nuts into the dough but always soak them in water before adding them, to the dough.

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(Freshly Baked Pumpernickel Bread)

 

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Salmon Poke

Okay, before this recipe even starts, here’s a quick little history lesson on eating raw salmon. Some of you might not remember this, but there was a time when making nigiri or sashimi with salmon was unthinkable, since parasites are common among Pacific salmon and the only way to kill them is to cook them. However, some dude in Norway figured out that Atlantic Salmon don’t have parasites in them, so after a lot of marketing work making it popular in Japan and the U.S. in the 90s, raw salmon finally became a thing.

You’ll Need:

  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped macadamia nuts
  • 1/4 cup pine nut
  • 1 lb (about 1/2 kg) raw, skinless sashimi-grade salmon
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 1 sheet nori, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 1/4 shallot
  • 2 tablespoons fried shallots
  • 4 teaspoons (about 20ml) soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons (about 10ml) sesame oil

How to make this:

  1. Quickly brine the salmon is salt & sugar water for 5 min, dry it well and wrap it and let in sit in the fridge for 30 min
  2. Finely mince the shallot, then mix it with the macadamia nuts, pine nut, sliced scallion, sliced nori, sesame seeds, fried shallots, soy sauce, and sesame oil
  3. Cut the salmon into 1 cm or 1/2 inch cube, fold them into the sauce mix, try not to mix it too hard
  4. Wrap it, and let it sit in fridge for another 2 hours for the flovur to go into the salmon
  5. Serve it with some rice and extra scallion & sesame seeds

Katsu Curry

Japanese food is not only famous for its traditional dishes like sushi, ramen or the different “don”s, but also for perfectly incorporating western ingredients & flavors into traditional Japanese cooking, these dishes are called Yoshoku or western food. So, today, we are making an easy and fast dish that you can find almost everywhere in Japan.

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You’ll need these for the Japanese curry:

  • 3 cubes Japanese curry roux
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 lb mushroom
  • 1 large potato
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion
  • 1 tbsp oil

You’ll need these for the katsu (fried pork chop):

  • 2 slices pork loin chops
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumb
  • oil for frying

How to make this:

  1. Slice the onion and mushroom, then sweat them in an oiled deep pan or pot over medium heat. Peel the carrot and potato, cut them into 1/2-inch or 1 cm thick cubes, add them to the pan/pot and sautée for about 1 min, then add the chicken broth, bring it to a simmer, cover and cook for about 15 min
  2. Pre-heat the oil to 170C or 340F. Lightly pound the pork chop, cover it with flour, drench it in the beaten egg, then cover it with panko bread crumb. Fry them for about 7 to 8 min
  3. Add the curry roux cubes into the stock with the cooked vegetable, stir gently while the stock is simmering for about 2 min or until it thickens
  4. Cut the pork chop, serve it over some rice and cover it with the curry sauce

Japanese-Style Pancake

Even though I always prefer waffles than pancakes, however, if there’s one type of pancake that I will always get whenever it is available, it’s the Japanese-Style pancake. It’s thick, fluffy, light, and jiggly, and super fun to eat & make. This recipe makes about 4 pancakes

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You’ll need:

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup pancake mix
  • 4 egg whites

How to make this:

  1. Mix together the egg yolks, milk, and pancake mix until it turns smooth
  2. In another bowl, beat the egg whites until it has a stiff peak, add the sugar while you are whisking
  3. Carefully fold the egg whites into the pancake batter
  4. Grease a 3.5-inch metal ring mold and set them in the middle of a pan over the low heat, fill the molds about 1/2 of the way full, then cover the pan and cook for about 10 minutes, then flip it over, Cover and cook for another 5 minutes
  5. Serve it with butter, syrup, and berries

Carbonara

If you ask me what the easiest pasta to make is, my answer would probably be Carbonara. It only needs 5 ingredients, takes about 15 min to make, and it’s absolutely delicious with a creamy sauce made egg, parmesan & pecorino romano. This pasta is so good that I use it as a standardized test for every Italian restaurant I visit, and it is the only pasta that I would make on a daily basis for a quick and delicious meal or snack. Since this dish is originated in Rome, but with some of the ingredients that are very hard to find outside Italy, so I make some recontamination on what to use in the ingredients list.

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You’ll Need:

  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 oz freshly grated Pecorino Romano
  • 1 oz freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 tsp Coarsely ground black pepper
  • 4 oz cured pork (options):
    •  guanciale (It’s very hard to find & expensive, but the Romans love it, it’s cured pork jowl)
    • pancetta (Also very hard to find & expensive, but very popular in Italy, it’s cured pork belly)
    • bacon (Very easy to find & cheap, thick cut, smoked and cured pork belly)
  • 3/4 lb dried pasta (options):
    • bucatini (a hollow, thick spaghetti-like pasta, very light, not easy to find)
    • spaghetti (very easy to find and cheap)

How to make this:

  1. Heat up a large pot of water with salt over high heat, and bring to a boil, cook the pasta until it’s just a bit over al dente
  2. While the pasta is cooking, sliced the cured pork of your choice into pieces about 1/4 inch thick by 1/3 inch square, then sauté the cured pork in a large skillet over medium heat until the fat just renders, just so that the edge are crispy but not hard, then remove from heat and set aside
  3. Whisk together the egg yolks, Pecorino and Parmesan in another bowl, season with black pepper
  4. Save a ladle of pasta water, add the drained pasta to the pan, stir it for about 20 seconds, then add in the egg yolk cheese mix, stir constantly, then add a little bit if the pasta water at a time, mix until the yolk thickens
  5. Server with some extra Pecorino or Parmesan

Teriyaki Salmon

I lived in Seattle for about 5 years, and one thing I absolutely adored is the teriyaki. However, the teriyaki most of us who live outside Japan are familiar with is very different from the traditional teriyaki. This is not only in the flavor of the sauce (traditional sauce tends to be more savory than sweet) but also the choice of meat. In Japan, fish are usually the preferred protein to go with this sauce, whereas most places outside Japan like to use chicken & beef. The preparation method is also very different, very often, the fish are not marinated but simply seared/grilled then brushed with a layer of sauce, which make the natural flavor of the fish more outstanding. Despite all that, everyone has their favorites, and for me personly, the two style has diverged so much from each other that I wouldn’t even consider them to be the same dish, and I enjoy them both equally.

 

You’ll need:

  • 1 lb salmon with skin (very important to have the skin on, once you fry it, it will become crispy like chips)
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp sake (or Chinese rice wine or dry sherry)
  • 1 tbsp mirin (or 1 tbsp sake + 1 tsp sugar)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce

How to make this:

  1. Slice the salmon across into 2-3 inch wide pieces, this will help the skin crisp up faster, pad them dry with some paper towel and lightly season it with salt and black pepper
  2. Heat up a skillet over medium-high heat with the oil, when the pan is heated, place the salmon skin down onto the pan, there will be some oil splatters if you didn’t dry the skin enough, so make sure the salmon skin are dried
  3. Bring the heat down to medium, then let it sear for 2-3 min or until the skin has crispened up (or no longer sticks to the pan), then flip the salmon over, turn up the heat a little bit, then pour in the sake, mirin, sugar & soy sauce mix, once it starts to simmer, turn the heat back to medium and  let the sauce slowly thickens, this will take about 2-3 min, do not cover the pan at any point
  4. Once the sauce holds a syrup like texture, it means the salmon is done too, place the salmon on another plate, then brush on the chicken sauce, which at this point is more like a beautiful glaze
  5. Sprinkle with some sesame seeds and chopped spring onion, serve it with some rice and steamed veg

 

If you want to find out how to make the non-tridtional teriyaki chicken, you can find it here

Calzone

I like pizza, but sometimes, it gets quite messy when you eat it on the go. This is where calzone comes in, they are sandwich sized, so they are perfect for lunch, and since they are in a pocket of dough, it’s perfect to eat while on the go. So let’s make it!

You’ll need: 250g flour; 150g water; 5g instant yeast; 2g salt; 1/4 lb sliced prosciutto; 1/4 lb sliced salami or mortadella; mozzarella & ricotta cheese; 1 can tomato sauce; 1 tbsp olive oil; 1/2 sweet onion; 2 cloves garlic; 1 red chili; some basil

How to make this:

  1. Mix the yeast and water together to wake them up. Mix the flour and salt, sift, then add in the water, knead for 3 min, then cover and let it rise for at least 1 hour
  2. After the dough is raised, divide it into 2, knead each dough for another 1 min, and let the dough rest for another 30min
  3. Mince the chili, onion, and garlic, then cook them in olive oil over medium heat. Add the tomato sauce and cook for 10 min over medium heat
  4. Press the dough into about 8-inches wide, then on half of the dough, place on a layer of sauce, then place a layer of prosciutto, ricotta cheese, salami, and mozzarella, then some basil leaves for some extra flavor
  5. Fold the half over, then fold the sides to seal the calzone, poke 3 little holes on the top for steam to escape
  6. Brush on a layer of egg wash, sprinkle with some parmesan cheese, then bake it in a 260C or 500F oven for 14 min
  7. Sever it with a salad and extra sauce