Wordless Wednesday: Munch and Brunch

Bistro Vonish – Monte Cristo Sandwich and Chickpea Scramble
Brunch Bird (CLOSED) – Bird’s Nest
Capital Taco – Vegan Breakfast Taco and Caesar Chavez Taco
Masa y Mas – Mushroom Tacos, Brussels Sprouts, Guacamole and Chips
Counter Culture (CLOSED) – BLT Salad

Raising a Stink

Durian, the so-called “king of fruits,” is quite possibly the single most polarizing food known to man. The aroma is so distinctive that you’d identify it in a second, even on your first encounter. I’ll never forget my first time in Hawaii when I spotted one of those prickly, thorn-covered shells. Sussing out the smallest one in the pile, I bagged my prize and escorted it back to my room. Surely, the rumors were overblown; this didn’t seem too bad! There was a light funk but nothing unmanageable. I stashed it in the mini fridge and went about my day.

Later that evening, something was amiss. Had an animal gotten in and died in the walls? Had someone forgotten to take out the trash, full of dirty diapers, for a week? To my horror, as I approached my door, the smell got stronger, and stronger…

Yes, it was the durian.

What does durian taste like?

Some people love that ripe pungency but to me, it’s an obstacle to get through. My best explanation is to compare it to a mixture of rotting onions, moldy cheese, sweaty gym socks, and a porta potty at the end of a music festival. Pungent and assertive, it’s the reason why durian is banned from many public spaces in Southeast Asia.

The flavor of durian is considerably more mild, with subtly sweet notes that add a final note of confusion on the back end. Some call the texture custard-y because it’s creamy and rich, but the high fat content would put the average pudding to shame. The unctuousness makes it impossible for me to eat more than a few bites straight.

How can you cook with durian?

Durian will never be my favorite food. However, once I stopped trying to eat it like a dessert or a sweet snack as it is typically recommended, I started I see the appeal. Leveraging the allium flavor to lend greater depth to recipes where raw onion would be far too harsh, my first big breakthrough happened when I blended it into a bright, punchy pesto sauce.

Pureed to a silky smooth consistency, this also helps alleviate any textural challenges. Durian pesto pasta might sound a bit crazy, and maybe it is, but it’s also delicious.

My greatest success came in the form of crispy durian rangoons. Chopped enoki mushrooms lend the filling a chewy seafood-like texture to take the place of crab meat, while durian brings in that creamy, gooey decadence typically conveyed by cream cheese. This killer app could help ease durian-haters back into the fold. No one can resist a deep-fried wonton, especially with a beer or two.

Fresh durian is not cheap, and a little bit goes a long way, so I’d suggest blending the whole thing and freezing it in ice cube trays for future use. That way you can pop out a cube or two whenever you’d like, which will prevent spoilage and cut down on that oppressive aroma. It only gets more intense as the fruit sits out at room temperature. Consider yourself warned!

Try incorporating durian puree into a wide variety of dishes, such as:

Don’t be afraid to play around with it! Love it or hate it, you’ll never forget your first durian.

Continue reading “Raising a Stink”

By Special Request

It was an innocent enough question- A simple query, with no ulterior motives. Muffins, pistachio muffins, to be precise, were the object of one good friend’s desires, and no recipe could be found. Might I possibly have one, hidden away some place by chance? Despite the volumes of unshared recipes and ideas stashed away in various notebooks and files buried deep within my hard drive, I hadn’t yet thought to make such a breakfast cake… And yet all of a sudden, it felt imperative that I did.

After all, pistachios are one of my all-time favorite nuts, and they get so little attention, it’s just pitiful. So much praise and love is lavished on almonds, cashews, and the like, but this darling green gem is all but forgotten in the corner of the bulk bin. Though it would be impossible to accommodate all baking requests, this one quickly became much less of a favor for a friend, but a treat for myself!

Adopting the project in a blink of the eye, I set about plotting how I could make mine better than the average, neon-green and highly artificial bakery-style pistachio muffins. Instead of abandoning the traditional albeit exaggerated coloring altogether, it seemed a fun challenge to preserve it in a more natural fashion.

Matcha, my beloved green tea powder, fit the bill perfectly. Contributing both a vibrant hue and delicate flavor, this is a mix far more complex than the typical plain old nut muffin. Richly flavored with both ground and whole pistachios, those green kernels definitely steal the show, but leave enough room for a delicious cameo by the subtle sweetness of maple syrup, the bitterness of the green tea, and the gentle acidity of the lemon, creating one well-balanced baked good.

Yield: Makes 6 Large Muffins

Pistachio Matcha Muffins

Pistachio Matcha Muffins

Richly flavored with both ground and whole pistachios, those nuts are the clear headliners, but leave enough room for a delicious cameo by the subtle sweetness of maple syrup, the bitterness of the green tea, and the gentle acidity of the lemon, creating one well-balanced baked good.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Additional Time 10 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Shelled, Toasted Pistachios, Divided
  • 1 1/2 Cups White Whole Wheat Flour, Divided
  • 2 Teaspoons Matcha Powder*
  • 1 Teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Lemon Zest (Optional)
  • 1/3 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Cup Maple Syrup
  • 1/2 Cup Unsweetened Applesauce
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat your the oven to 400 degrees, and either lightly grease or line 6 standard muffin tins with paper wrappers. Set aside.
  2. Pull out your food processor or blender and place half of the pistachios, along with 1/2 cup of the flour and all of the matcha in the bowl. Pulse the mixture until you achieve a coarse but even meal. Transfer the dry goods into a large mixing bowl.
  3. To that, add the remaining flour and whole pistachios, plus the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest. Stir to evenly distribute all of the ingredients.
  4. Separately, whisk together the oil, maple syrup, apple sauce, and vanilla before pouring these wet ingredients into the bowl of dry. Use a wide spatula to bring the batter together, stirring as little as possible to make sure you don’t overwork it and end up with tough muffins; A few errant lumps are just fine.
  5. Mound the batter up nice and high into your prepared muffin tins (I used a large cookie scoop – About 3 – 4 tablespoons – and placed two full scoops inside each indentation.) Slide your muffins into the oven, and immediately reduce the heat to 375 degrees.
  6. Bake for 18 – 22 minutes, until golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let cool for at least 10 minutes in the pan before transferring to a wire rack.

Notes

*To make a purely pistachio muffin that’s still green, substitute 1 tablespoon of spinach powder for the matcha. Otherwise, you can omit it entirely.

Recommended Products

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 289Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 367mgCarbohydrates: 42gFiber: 3gSugar: 18gProtein: 4g

All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on BitterSweetBlog.com should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimations.