1. Every couple of years, I develop a new craving for some random food.  When I was 13, it was button mushrooms...never liked mushrooms before.  Then several years later, it was New York cheesecake - bad thing to start liking.  This year though, it was brussels sprouts.  I know...weird!  I didn't grow up with brussels sprouts, so it's not like I ever really experienced the "grossness" that is brussels sprouts as a kid.  I think what really happened was I had some brussels sprouts for a side at some restaurant I was eating at and was like, "Whoa!  These are good!"  

    It's a weird thing to start liking, I know.  I mean, they're sort of miniature cabbages, and yes, at times, I do sort of get that "sewer-esque" smell that brussels sprouts and cabbage have.  But, that doesn't turn me off like it does some people.  I think that "smell" contributes to the overall flavor that is the brussels sprout, and I love it.  I've tried preparing them several ways - stir fry, steamed, but no way is better that just oven roasted. So I'm just going to give a simple recipe for these - in case there are people like me who aren't so familiar with brussels sprout either.  I think the biggest mistake you can make is over cooking them, because you do want the crunch to stay.  At the same time, I like when parts of the brussels sprouts brown up, so the way to get the best of both worlds is roasting at a high heat, but only for a short period of time.     
    Directions

    1. Cut root off of 1/2 pound of Brussels sprouts and split in half.
    2. Toss with 3 tablespoons of Olive oil, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, and plenty of salt and pepper to taste.
    3. In a preheated 400 degree oven, roast Brussels sprouts for 8 minutes.
    4. Remove from oven and toss with an additional tablespoon of Olive oil.  Add additional sal to taste.

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  2. My mother called me the other day specifically to talk about sweet potatoes and how I should be eating more of them.  Apparently, it's one of the foods highest in vitamin A and so that got me thinking about sweet potato recipes I have in the repertoire.  

    One of the easiest "desserts" or Chinese dessert soup types my mother made for us as kids was sweet potato soup with ginger.  I feel ginger always adds a nice complexity to dishes and I love them in my sweets because it cuts the sugar and turns the dessert into something grander. At its foundation, this is basically sweet potatoes with a ginger syrup over it, but in Hong Kong, this is eaten warm.  I actually find that it gets so much better the second day because I think the starches in the potato have had time to rest and fully absorb the sugar and ginger flavors.  My little spin to the traditional recipe though is instead of smashing a couple slices of ginger into the syrup like my mom would do, I grated the ginger and wrapped it in a coffee filter.  I think the flavors of the ginger become so much more potent that way - keeping in mind that if you're not too fond of ginger, then smashing it and putting it in the syrup is probably good enough.

    My tip for this soup is to not overcook your sweet potatoes.  I'd say 10-15 minutes really does it depending on your size.  I like my sweet potatoes with a little more bite, so I could them bigger and also cook them more towards the 12 minute side.  And like I said, if you let it rest and wait till the next day, even if the potatoes are still slightly too firm the first day, they become perfect the second day.

    3 simple ingredients : Sweet potato, sugar, and ginger
    Grate ginger with microplane into a coffee filter and seal.
    Peel and cut your sweet potatoes.
    Bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes.
    Add sugar and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
    Serve warm or cold.

    Ingredients

    4 cups of water
    3 medium sized sweet potatoes or yams
    1 1/2 sticks of Chinese slab sugar (1/3 cup granulated sugar + 1/3 cup brown sugar can be substituted)
    1-2 tablespoons grated ginger

    Directions
    1. Grate 1-2 tablespoons of ginger into a coffee filter.  Fold filter in half and fold edges to seal.
    2. Peel and cut 3 sweet potatoes and put it into a pot containing 4 cups of water.  
    3. Bring water to a boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes depending on the potatoes.  Potatoes should be firm but soft enough for a knife to insert through.
    4. Put in 1 1/2 slabs of sugar and continue to simmer for 5 minutes or until sugar melts.
    5. Soup can be served warm or cold.

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  3. This maybe one of the most useful things I've learned while working at the bakery.  Making a proper piping bag is indispensable because you can do some much with it.  Many times though, people do it wrong and you can end up with a mess once you fill the bag.
    1. Cut square piece of parchment into 2 triangles.
    2. With the two smaller corners on the left and right and the largest angle pointing up top, twist right corner inward until the corner sort of matches the middle corner.
    3. Wrap left corner around the cone until you have something similar to the picture below. Make sure the tip is narrow enough for your needs.  Pull left or right corners to adjust.
    3. Fold tops down to secure cone. (I fold mine on the inside, but you can fold yours on the outside as well)
    4. Put cone in a bottle or paper towel tube to fill.
    5. To prevent the cone from losening at the seam, close your cone by folding away from the seam.
    5. Fold left and right side to form a triangle.  Then roll down.  (In the picture below, the seam is on the underside)
    6. Once rolled down, the cone is ready to be used!  (Note: if piping hole is too small, feel free to use a scissor to cut it to size)

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  4. I heard this tip from a baker friend of mine who said this was an activity she was made to do in culinary school.  I think especially for bakers and pastry cooks, measurements are particularly important.  You need to know how thick to roll your cookies or how long to roll your dough.  The problem is you might not always have a ruler handy or some pastry chefs actually prefer that their cooks not use rulers as that can waste time.

    So that's when knowing the measurements of particular body parts ie. fingers, handspan, and even ears come in handy.  I just did this the other day, but I took a tape measure and found particular parts of my hands that matched necessary measurements the best.  For example, the last notch of my middle finger to the tip is exactly 1 inch.  My full handspan is about 7 3/4 inches, which is not exactly useful, but then I realized my ears (going up and down) were exactly 3 inches, so that maybe useful when I need something a half a foot.  Right, so you definitely have to do some exploring, but you'll be surprised at how closely you can get some of the measurements.
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  5. The Mark's and Spencer's chocolate chunk shortbread cookie was the reason for my "Junior 15" back in my study abroad days in London.  I didn't have much money when I was there, but the one thing I had to stop for (nearly daily) was the Mark's and Spencer chocolate chunk cookie.  It wasn't a conscious decision.  I would be walking the London streets everyday after class or early in the morning during weekends.  Then as I pass the M&S doors, they would of course automatically slide open and out would come the biggest gust of buttery shortbread aroma.   Once that happened, I could never stand a chance.    

    I happened to find a recipe from another blogger - Oleander and Palm (http://www.oleanderandpalm.com) that did her version of the M&S cookies.  I found them to be pretty darn good.  I thought it would be the perfect cookies for Valentine's Day.  Now I apologize because I didn't have heart cutters at home, so all of this was carved out by hand (impressive, I know).  Definitely give these a try.  Just a note is that these shortbread cookies aren't that sweet at all, so if you like it that way - then great.  But if you want to add a bit of sweetness, I'd suggest sprinkling on a little bit of sanding sugar before you bake it.  Also, be warned that these cookies do get more moist and less crumbly after the first day, so make sure to store it in an air tight container OR just eat them right away.  I bagged up some and gave them away to friends as well.

    1. Cream butter and sugar together
    2. Add salt, vanilla, and egg yolks
    3. Add in your chocolate chips and flour.
    Mixture will seem somewhat crumbly at first.
    I put my dough between 2 sheets of plastic wrap so that I wouldn't have to do as much cleaning.
    Roll out your dough to about 1/4 inch thick.
    Be creative and have fun with your cut-outs!  Bake at 325 degrees F for 12-15 minutes.
    Cookies should come out slightly golden.

    Recipe from Oleander and Palm: 
    http://www.oleanderandpalm.com/2013/02/chocolate-chunk-shortbread.html

    Chocolate Chunk Shortbread
    1 cup butter (room temp)
    1/2 cup sugar
    1/4 tsp. salt
    1 tsp. vanilla
    2 egg yolks
    2 1/2 cups flour
    3/4 cup chocolate chips

    Cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer.  Add the salt, vanilla and egg yolks and beat until smooth.  Add the flour and mix till dough comes together.  Add the chocolate chips.

    Roll out the dough on a floured surface to 1/4" thick.  Cut out the cutting.  Bake at 325 F for about 12-15 mins or just until the edges of the cookie start to turn golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack.
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  6. So I probably don't talk about my life as a baker enough.  Gosh knows that in the past half year, I've made my fair share of mistakes (well not that much), but I definitely learn from them. I think part of honing in on your craft is really doing the exact same things - making cookies, making biscuits, making muffins - over and over again every single day. You get really good at doing it, but still sometimes, mistakes happen. Either you stirred it differently, or maybe under-measured the flour or...well, it's something like that.  And I guess that is what I also find tricky about baking.  You can make as many mistakes as there are components to the baking - it could be an issue with ingredients or in procedure and technique or even oven temperature.  I mean, you think about making muffins or biscuits, and it's like "duh, that's pretty easy stuff"...but sometimes it's NOT!  

    Well, that's just a little bit of ranting before I go onto the actual rant.  So, the bakery I bake at are sticklers for not "over-mixing" their product.  Every extra turn with the paddle or spoon makes your product tougher...and to an extent, that is true.  You overwork flour and you get a tougher product because of the gluten development.  And that is especially important with things like biscuits and muffins, which you want tender.  Only - I think some people take this over-mixing mentality WAY too far.  

    Last Monday, when I was making blueberry muffins, I must have heard the pastry chef say, "Remember not to over mix that" at least 3 times during the process.  Now I respect my chef a lot.  I think she is very talented, but I just wanted to say "yes yes I get it, but I need to mix this darn thing a bit more!" Well, anyways, this is sort of the spiel I get every single time.

    Well, I had had enough this time and made sure that during the whole process, I never over-mixed and saw streaks of flour in my batter the whole time.  (Keep in mind I make about 3 1/2 dozen muffins at a time, so there's a lot of batter).  Now, I finished folding in the blueberries and flour via hand, but if the batter itself isn't really mixed at the beginning - especially with that amount, you can't really just hope that a few folds at the end will do what you didn't let the machine do. 

    So what I ended up with - and I had found this out as it was baking (so basically when it was too late)- was that little pockets of un-mixed sugar were spewing up through the top making this weird white crust on the muffins.  The picture above doesn't look too bad, and I guess if you asked a non-baker, the muffins looked okay...but still, I had to throw away (well, I took home)about 10 of the muffins, which is never a good thing.


    So this is sort of what I have to say about the issue.  I think if you are a person that understands the dangers of over-mixing and how your product can become tough, then you WON'T over-mix things.  One or two additional folds or spins will not change your product, at least to the extent where it becomes even remotely noticeable.  I think the problem with most bakers is that over-mixing has become synonymous with hard and tough and hard and tough are not good things when it comes to pastries. But what people forget is that when you work something that contains flour, that working of the gluten also gives the baked good its structure - something that is also VERY important unless you're ok with flabby and flat looking muffins and biscuits.  

    I'm not sure if any of you have seen some good videos on bread making (I recommend this one from Tasting Table http://vimeo.com/76100393), but when you are making bread, that initial dough is supposed to look super wet and sticky.  As you knead the dough and give it structure, that liquid gets absorbed into the flour and you are left with a more workable dough.  If you don't work the dough, it will stay soft and wet looking, unable to hold itself up.  That is the same thing when it comes to muffins and biscuits.  Now we do biscuits by hand - mixing it with a big wooden spoon, and when you under mix it, the dough becomes soft with pools of liquid mixed in it.  When you go to scoop it with an ice cream scoop and put it on the sheet pan, instead of the dough staying upright like a scoop of ice cream, it starts to flatten.  In the oven, the biscuit is unable to puff up and give that good height even with your leavening because it lacks the structure to hold itself back up.

    So my tip is use your common sense.  Experience definitely helps because when you make a recipe over and over, you understand the intricacies of each component.  But with the issue of over-mixing, I say be aware of it, but also know it is mixing that gives your pastries structure.  

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  7. Agar is the choice for gelatinization in Asian desserts. Although this ingredient has plenty of attractive factors including a quicker firming up time, there are still some things to look out for when you are working with it.

    Tips

    1. Make sure to FULLY melt agar over stove and simmer for 1-2 minutes.  Agar will not set if it is not heated and fully melted.

    2. When adding to another mixture to set it, make sure the mixture is slightly warm so that agar does not set as it makes contact. (If mixture is cold, agar will get clumpy, at which point, you will want to re-dissolve the agar along with the mixture over a stove.)

    3. Agar has a tendency to accumulate at the bottom making the set product harder.  Make sure to melt well and to give a final stir in the actual container the agar will be in.

    4. If not enough agar is used to set the liquid/mixture, the final product will "break" and liquid will separate from the set product.  Make sure to read the recipe and use the proper amount.
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  8. A chef friend of mine recently gave me the book "Japanese Women Don't Get Old and Fat: Secrets of My Mother's Tokyo Kitchen" to read.  She knew that when I'm cooking at home, I like eating "clean" dishes - not too oily, not too seasoned - just good food that feels good going down.  I also happened to tell her I wanted to find more "home-cooked" Japanese recipes and so she dropped this book off for me.  I didn't care too much about the "Japanese women don't get fat or old" - part.  That's true up to a point, but I read the book more for the personal accounts the author had growing up in Japan and the dishes her mother would make for her. There are several good recipes in the book that is definitely home-y and simple, and also super delicious.

    Japanese home-cooking definitely has its similarities to other East Asian home kitchens in that it usually consists of rice, vegetable, and a meat. True, the Japanese do eat more fish on average, but the types of dishes seem similar.  What I do like is that the foods aren't prepared with a ton of oil and most of the dishes seemed filling without making you feel stuffed.  Sake, miso, dashi, sugar, and soy sauce seem to be the predominate ingredients and flavors in the Japanese kitchen, so if any of you are interested in cooking Japanese dishes, it may not be that hard to get started.  You can definitely find a lot of these ingredients at Asian and American grocery stores.   

    The recipe I made today was based out of a recipe from the book called "Fluffy Eggs and Ground Beef."  It was actually a breakfast recipe that the author adapted from what her mom used to make.  It's fluffy eggs and beef sweetened with sugar, soy sauce, and sake, so you're getting a sweet, but also slightly savory flavor.  Now, I don't really eat beef, so I substituted for ground turkey, which I feel for this recipe, really didn't impact the dish.  You serve it on a bed of warm rice.  I topped it off with scallions, but the author recommended sweet peas.  I do think the scallions add a nice additional layer of flavor because the meat and eggs share that common sweet and savory taste. I really think it's a recipe a lot of people will like.  It's easy to make, filling, and just very good.  I halved the recipe, which made enough to serve two people pretty sufficiently.

    1. Marinate ground meat with sake, soy sauce, sugar, and salt.  Put to side.
    2. Whisk eggs with sugar.
    3. Cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes using whisk to break apart eggs as it cooks, so it gets nice and fluffy.
    4. Cook meat and scallions on medium to medium-high heat for about 5 minutes.  Use wooden spoon to continually break apart the ground meat so that it is in small pieces.
    5. Scoop prepared warm rice into a bowl.
    6. Put eggs on one side and ground meat on the other.  Top the dish with scallions.

    Ingredients
    1 tablespoon canola oil
    3 eggs
    1 tablespoon sugar
    Pinch of salt

    1 tablespoon canola oil
    1/2 pound ground turkey
    1 tablespoon sake or rice wine
    1/2 tablespoon sugar
    1 stalk scallions
    Pinch of salt

    1 cup rice (cooked)

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  9. "Jai" is the Chinese word for vegetarian food.  Jai is eaten on special holidays and you'll usually find the best jai dishes at Buddhist temples, which usually have accompanying cafeterias. This particular recipe is unique because it's not like the typical crispy skin spring rolls. The wrap is made with layered bean curd sheets and then the rolls are fried creating a nice layered texture.  The crunchy outside pairs well with the tender vegetables and mushrooms on the inside.

    A special note for the bean curd sheets are that these ones are located in the refrigerated section of the Asian grocery store.  There are some sheet that are dry and look very similar, but these are the refrigerated ones and are slightly moistened already.

    Anyhow, the full recipe is below!

    The ingredients - plate 1: celery, carrots, water chestnuts; plate 2: shitake and king mushrooms; plate 3:  garlic and ginger
    Bean curd sheets and seasoning: salt, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, white pepper
    Stir fry garlic and ginger with vegetables, mushrooms, and seasonings for 2 minutes on medium high heat.
    Cooked vegetables and deglazed liquid
    Hydrate bean curd sheets with deglazing liquid.  Wrap cooked filling in bean curd sheets.
    Steam the spring rolls for 15 minutes.
    Coat spring rolls lightly with cornstarch. Deep fry 1-2 minutes per side until golden.  Drain on paper towel.
    Cut into 6 slices.  Serve as is or with soy sauce.

    Ingredients
    1 package of bean curd sheets

    2 carrots (cut into matchsticks)
    3 stalks celery (cut into matchsticks)
    6 water chestnuts (cut into matchsticks)  
    4 shitake mushroom (cut into matchsticks)
    1 king mushroom (cut into matchsticks)
    2 cloves garlic (chopped), 
    1/2 tablespoon grated ginger

    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 tablespoon sugar
    1 teaspoon soy sauce
    1 teaspoon sesame oil
    1/4 teaspoon white pepper
    2-3 tablespoons cornstarch

    Directions

    1. On medium high heat, add 1-2 tablespoons of oil to pan.  Add in garlic and ginger and fry for 30 seconds to release the flavor.  Add in vegetables and mushroom along with the salt, sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and pepper.  Stir fry for about 2 minutes.  Set aside and let cool.

    2. Deglaze pan by pouring 3/4 cup water into pan.  Reserve the liquid.

    3. Using a paper towel or brush, lightly moistened the bean curd sheets  front and back with the deglazing liquid.

    4. Place several tablespoons of the filling towards the bottom of the sheet.  Fold the left and right sides towards the center and roll up.  Remember to press down after each roll to ensure that it is tight.  

    5. Steam the rolls for about 15 minutes and let cool.

    6. Using a paper towel, lightly dry the outside of the rolls.  Lightly dust the outsides with a little cornstarch.

    7. On medium-high heat, fry the spring rolls about 1-2 minutes per side until golden brown.  Drain on paper towel.

    8. Cut into slices and serve.




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  10. I definitely have a sweet tooth when it comes to eating.  I've already shared with y'all my favorite Chinese dessert, Chinese Green Bean Soup, but this dried bean curd soup comes at a VERY close second.  It's a Cantonese style dessert, and I've had it throughout my childhood.  It's made with silky, thin sheets of soy along with thin strings of egg all flavored with a sugar syrup "soup." I want to say that I've hardly ever seen it at restaurants - usually they do the red bean or green bean soups, so I definitely think this is a recipe my mom brought over.  It's super easy.  You can put it together from start to finish in about 20 minutes.  

    So how does it taste? Well...first, you have to like soy products because the main ingredient here is soy bean sheets.  So if you like that, then we're set.  If you don't - well, I think you should try it anyway because it's a pretty innocuous dessert. It's a little bit like tofu pudding, only you get the texture of the softened bean curd sheets.  The soup is lightly sweetened with Chinese slab sugar and accompanied with tender strings of egg.  It is really a recipe catered to the eater because if you want your soup sweeter - add more sugar.  If you want your bean curd sheets to break up into finer pieces - cook it longer.  Be aware though. If you could this too long, the bean curd sheets will break down so much that it will melt away into something that just looks like soy milk - which actually isn't that bad either.  For me personally, I prefer the sheets minimally cooked because I like that texture.

    Tip: When going to the Asian supermarket to buy bean curd sheets, look in the dried section because there are refrigerated bean curd sheets as well.  Look for the flat sheets which are used specifically used for this dessert (and congee as well).  Different brands of dried bean curd sheets break apart differently - some quicker and some maintain more of a bite, so try them out and see which you like best.  (The Oriental Mascot brand I bought is actually not the one I usually get.  It broke apart much quicker and I hardly had to cook the sheets at all to get them to soften.)


    Dried Bean Curd Sheets
    Chinese Sugar Slabs
    Eggs
    1.Break apart sheets.  Submerge them in water and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 5-10 minutes depending on how broken apart you want the sheets.
    2. Add sugar slabs and continue simmering till fully melted.
    3. Prepare eggs by gently breaking yolks leaving delineation between yolks and whites.
    4. Bring soup back to a boil.  Slowly pour in the eggs.  Turn off heat and put on cover.  Wait about 5 minutes.
    5. Dessert is ready to be served warm or cold.

    Ingredients
    (prepares 4-5 servings)

    5 cups water
    1/2 bag bean curd sheets
    1 1/2 bars Chinese slab sugar
    2 eggs (slightly beaten)




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  11. Farmer's markets aren't just a summer thing anymore.  Last week, I went to the Somerville Winter's Farmer Market on Highland Avenue and found hidden treasures that I would have otherwise not known to exist - especially during winter time.  What's neat is that the market located in an old armory and there's a cafe for market goers just outside of the hall.  The market runs from early December through mid-April, and although most of the farm stand items are root vegetables this time of the year, the market actually hosts a bunch of other food items like meats, cheeses, pastas, bakery items, and even kombucha and coffee.  

    The atmosphere is quite laid back - faint streams of light peek through the old armory windows towards the back and murmurings of vendor and customer conversations can be heard throughout. I would say definitely don't be shy to ask for samples - including if you want to try a fruit or vegetable you are not familiar with.  The vendors will actually cut a piece for you as all of them are eager to talk get market goers to try their products.

    Local farmers selling beets, carrots, radishes, and potatoes
    Hosta Hills selling sauerkraut and kimchi
    Apple wines and syrup
    The famous Union Square Donuts selling donuts and kombucha by the jar



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  12. Hello Everybody!  
    Happy Chinese/Lunar New Years Eve!  Today is the day before Chinese New Years and tradition has it that you feast out tonight, have a meatless New Years day to "cleanly" ring in the new year, and then continue on with the festivities (with meat this time)for the next two weeks. Now, my family is Cantonese, so I imagine the southern Chinese may do things a little differently than those in the north.  I'm actually going over to my mom's today and she has the whole chicken and fish and pig - all prepared.  I thought that might be too big of a feat for me to prepare and blog on (I'll try to take pictures), so I decided to make a traditional dessert called tang yoons or tang yuan in Mandarin instead. They're super easy and quick. You don't need a rolling pin or anything because it's all done in the palms of your hand.

    Traditionally, tang yoons are eaten during Chinese New Year and also during the Lantern Festival which sort of closes the new year festivities.  Tang yoons are glutinous rice balls with a sweet filling served in a bowl of syrup that's usually flavored with ginger.  The fillings really range.  Some people fill it with sweet red bean paste, while others prefer it simple and just add small pieces of rock sugar as the filling. My all time favorite is sweetened black sesame paste, but a close close second is peanut butter.  I'm not sure how traditional peanut butter is, but I remember one year, my mom and I experimented and mixed peanut butter with small pieces of rock sugar and sesame for crunch.  The result was amazing.  And of course, nowadays, I see peanut butter flavored tang yoons at Chinatown all the time!  But you can definitely have fun with these fillings and fill them with flavors you like.  I find that it's best to have a bit of texture to the filling since the dough surrounding it is so soft.

    Chinese Rock Sugar Bars (cut to small pieces for tang yoon)


    Tips: A couple of tips before making this...
    • Make sure you are buying "glutinous rice flour."  Usually at Asian grocery stores, they sell a red bag that says "rice flour" and a green one that's glutinous rice flour. They give completely different results because the glutinous rice flour is much more starchy and also yields a much smoother dough.
    • If you only bought 1 bag of glutinous rice flour, make sure to save a little bit towards the end.  I'd say a bag of 16 oz. glutinous rice flour takes about a cup of water to get the right consistency dough.  Sometimes it's a little less, sometimes it's a little more. Once your dough is too wet, you can only save it with more rice flour (so don't just dump the whole bag in, especially if this is your first time making it.) The end dough will still feel sticky, but when the proper consistency has been reached, the dough should no longer stick to your hands.
    • Rice flour dough is a whole lot easier than working with wheat flour dough, because there isn't that gluten that makes your dough hard to work with.  With this tang yoon dough, once you have it kneaded, you can work with it right away.  I find that when mixing the dough with your hands, try using a "fist crunching" motion.  I think that mixes it better.  Once it starts turning into a ball of dough, then you can knead it a bit like you do wheat dough.
    • Just like normal dumplings or raviolis, don't overfill them with filling. It makes the tang yoon very hard to close up...and even if you do close it up, they could explode while cooking.
    1. Mix 16 oz. glutinous rice flour with about a cup of water.
    2. Knead into a ball and wrap with plastic wrap.  Prepare your fillings.
    3.Take a small ball of dough and flatten it with your fingers.  Put a small amount of filling it. Pull sides up and form back into a ball using the palms of your hands.
    4.Start production line. One bag of rice flour makes about 25-30 tang yoons.
    5. If not cooking immediately, freeze tang yoons first and then store in bags.
    6.If ready to cook, bring water, sugar and ginger slices to a boil.  Put in tang yoons.  When tang yoons float (which will be quick if fresh), they are ready.

    Ingredients
    Makes 25-30 tang yoons)

    Dough
    1 bag 16 oz. glutinous rice flour
    3/4 - 1 cup water

    Peanut Butter Filling
    1/2 cup peanut butter
    1 bar Chinese rock sugar (cut into tiny pieces)
    2-3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

    Directions

    Preparing the Tang Yoons
    1. Mix 1 bag of glutinous rice flour with water and knead to a ball.  Cover with plastic wrap.
    2. Mix together peanut butter, rock sugar pieces, and toasted sesame seeds.
    3. Rip off a piece dough that is about a quarter size in diameter and flatten into a disk.
    4. Using a small spoon, put in filling making sure to not overstuff.
    5. Wrap up the filling by pulling sides of the dough up and using the palms of your hands, knead into a ball.
    6. Continue this until you have used up the dough.  The tang yoons can be frozen at this point and put into ziplock bags.

    To Cook

    1. Prepare a simple syrup using 1 part water and 1 part sugar.
    2. Add several slices of ginger and bring to boil.
    3. Once water boils, add in tang yoons.  When they float, it is ready to eat.
    4. Serve tang yoons in a bowl topped with some of the ginger syrup.

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  13. If you've ever worked with really glutinous dough, you know what a pain it is to prevent the dough from shrinking once you get it in the pan.  Well, at the bakery, I work with a quiche dough that is just that.  It's made with flour, water, and butter.  Any time the dough is rolled, stretched, or basically manipulated in a way that doesn't let it sit peacefully on it's own, the dough acts up.  How?  By trying to shrink back to it's original self.  This makes it an absolute nightmare when you try to put the dough in pan shells and once you cut the dough from the edges, it starts to shrink away and then down.  If the dough doesn't stick to the edges, it will continue to shrink down as it bakes, which become more horrible since there will be filling in the quiche shells.

    Anyways, I decided to make a similar dough at home to show in case if any of you ever work with a really glutinous dough.  I feel this technique works in any instance, because it's really been adapted for exactly these types of doughs.


    1. First off, do not treat these types of doughs like you do a pie dough.  With pie dough, you press the dough up the sides and then cut it off using the edge of the pie tin.  With more glutinous dough, roll it out so that it is slightly bigger that your pie tin.  I'll show you in the next step why that will be beneficial.  The first major thing you do is make an actual crease where the sides of the pan meet the bottom.  This helps the edges from sliding down because everything is stable and tucked into the edges on the bottom.

    2. Now with the extra dough that is hanging off the sides, roll them inward sort of like an accordion.

    3. You can see that even after rolling the dough inward, you still want it to be slightly taller than the edge.  The thicker you want the crust, the more "bulky" you want these inward rolls to be.
    4. I took a picture of this to show what happens if you use your thumb and try to cut off the dough.  Even with all the work we did, the edges still separate from the dough. 
    5. Here's the second most important thing to do after making the crease in the dough.  Instead of moving the dough horizontally and cutting it off with your thumb, push your dough DOWN as you are cutting it with your thumb and the edge of the pie tin. Obviously you do have to move the dough horizontally a bit as you cut the dough, but the important motion is pushing the dough down.  Stretchy glutinous doughs seem to adjust better when they are squished rather than stretched.  And I leave the excess dough on the edge until I do the whole pie tin so that the dough has time to rest before I tear off the dough.
    6. As you push down the dough, the edges do get thicker versus if you were just to cut it off at the edge.  So remember as you use your thumb to push down, also use your middle or index finger on your other hand to adjust the thickness of the edges.  With this method, even your most glutinous doughs won't try to stretch back and shrink.


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  14. I had a craving for Chinese sour mustard greens the other day and decided to make a traditional dish pairing the greens with pork. For those who aren't familiar, the Chinese make something called "suan cai," which are fermented mustard greens.  It's sold in packages at the grocery store, so you don't have to make it yourself. For me, the mustard greens are almost as much sour as it is salty, so if you're expecting kimchi type sourness, it's not.  And because it's fermented mustard greens instead of cabbage, you get a whole different texture that's more leafy.  These mustard greens can be chopped up and used as a condiment on top or rice or noodles.  

    I chose to pair it with pork, which is quite traditional.  I'd say the leanness of pork pairs well because it picks up the salty and sour flavors from the mustard greens.  But what's really nice is the marinade I put with the pork which consists of very typical Chinese flavors - oyster sauce, sugar, and garlic.  That sweetened up the pork just a tad and gave it that sweet-salty umami flavor that worked very well with the mustard greens. 

    Since I cut the pork up into small short strips, it picked up the flavor of the marinade very quickly - about 5 minutes or so. Everything was pretty much eyeballed, so the recipe is super and quick.  Oh did I mention it's super delicious as well?


    (Full recipe Below)


    1. Marinade pork with oyster sauce, sugar, garlic, cornstarch,      and 1 tablespoon of oil for 5 minutes.

    2. While the pork is marinating, cut the mustard greens into a fine dice.

    3. On medium high to high heat, cook the pork for 4-5 minutes.      While pork is still in the pan, add several tablespoons of        water to deglaze and make a sauce.  Add in chopped mustard        greens and cook for an additional 30 seconds.

    Ingredients

    1/2 lb   Pork (cut into strips)
    1 T      Oyster sauce
    1 T      Corn Starch
    1 tsp    Minced garlic or garlic powder
    1/2 tsp  Sugar
    1/2      Package suan cai
    2 T      Olive oil

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  15. I recently went to the Elephant Walk over in Cambridge, Massachusetts for what the internet deems as pretty authentic Cambodian food.  I was actually in Cambodia several years back, and although that hardly makes me an expert, I was eager to go and see whether the Elephant Walk would offer me some nostalgia.

    I had several courses including their curries and I thought they were pretty good (but not as I remembered).  One appetizer that really caught my eye was the Nataing.  It's ground pork simmered in coconut milk with sliced garlic, peanuts and chili pods.  This pork like salsa was served with crispy rice cakes, and let me tell you, they were amazing - both rice cake and pork.

    I've tried to make homemade rice cakes by squishing together paddies of rice before, but it ended up dry and hard.  These rice cakes were crunchy and crispy and was the perfect vessel for the sweet and fragrant pork sauce.  I would say at first, it can seem rather strange because the sauce was a little on the sweeter side, but the combination of spices, meat, and coconut milk more that made up for it.

    I went home and thought, "I have to find this recipe!"  Luckily, The Elephant Walk actually came up with their cookbook a little while back and I was able to find the recipe.  I'm not sure when I'll get to give this a try, but I definitely recommend all of you do.

    Ingredients

    Serves 6 people
    Pork Sauce

    Serves 6-8

    1/4 cup vegetable oil

    1/2 pound ground pork
    1 dried new mexico chili ground to powder or 1 tablespoons of paprika
    8 cloves garlic thinly sliced
    1 cup unsweetened coconut milk 
    1/4 cup sugar
    1/4 cup peanuts, roasted and coarsely ground
    1 tablespoon fish sauce  
    1/2 teaspoon salt


    1. Heat oil over medium high heat.  Add pork and chili powder.  Cook for 3 minutes while breaking pork apart.
    2. Add garlic and shallot.  
    3. Then stir in coconut milk, sugar, peanuts, fish sauce, and slat.  Cook for an additional 10 minutes or until pork is no longer pink and garlic and shallots have softened and flavors have blended.
    4. Serve warm with crispy rice or bread.


    For the Rice

    4 cups cooked jasmine
    4-5 cups vegetable oil

    1. Cook rice while pressing down into cakes

    2. Dry in oven 45-60 minutes at 200 degrees F
    3. Keep airtight several months.
    4. When ready, fry in oil at least 375




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  16. Hey All,

    I recently did an article for the spring issue of Audrey Magazine that will be coming out in March.  Not to give too much away, but it was on Asian spring foods and I think it will be a very interesting read.  In the wait for spring, I just wanted to give you a snip it of the recipe to one of my favorite Asian vegetables called "tong choy."  It's a crunchy straw-like green that provides excellent crunch - in case you all were worried about cooked greens.  

    Most Asian supermarkets carry tong choy and if they carry tong choy, they should carry the fermented tofu that traditionally pairs with this green.  I have to say that the fermented tofu smells sort of like a creamy, spicy, canned fish - if that could happen.  That being said, it gives a wonderful creaminess and spiciness to the greens.

    Ingredients
    1 bunch tong choy
    2 - 3 cubes fermented tofu
    dried red pepper flakes (optional)

    Directions
    1. Wash stalks thoroughly and cut stalks in half so that the bottom stalks are separated from the top leaves.
    2. In a pot of boiling water, cook stalks for about 3 minutes.  Then put in leaves and cook for an addition 1-2 minutes.
    3. Drain and add several cubes of fermented tofu into the greens.  Mix until cubes are creamy and well combined.

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  17. So we started making buttercream flowers at the bakery and I didn't really have much experience with it.  On that same note, for those of you who maybe interested (professional or home chef), craft stores like Michaels or AC Moore offer Wilton cake decorating classes for very cheap...$20 for 4 classes.  It starts off working with buttercream and escalates into fondant and a bunch of other cool cake decorating techniques.


    You can however just try and see if you can find a quality video on YouTube and learn that way.  I used a rose tip to do the flowers you see in the picture.  My "tip" with the buttercream flowers is to work with a good consistency buttercream.  If it's too hard or soft, you may have trouble getting the pretty and delicate petals to form properly.
    Also, in case it's not evident, you form the petals one at a time.  You want the thick end of the tip to be on the bottom because the thinner side on top forms the outside of the petals and you want that to be thin and delicate.  Play around with how you angle the tip because that results in differently shaped petals. You'll also need a flower nail. (I didn't have one at the time and sort of just made one by gluing a stick and a small jar cover together).  How quickly or how much you turn the nail in between each piping also affects the size of the petals.  


    Just so you get a picture in your head, the whole rose tip is basically the side of each petal, so you're kind of making upside down teardrop shapes over and over again until you get a whole flower.  Remember to stop piping after each petal and then continue another petal either slightly over the previous petal or under the previous petal, but just be consistent.  Other than that, practice is key.  You do about fifty of them and you'll start getting the hang of it.
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  18. I thought I would blog about my most recent holiday pie purchase - Momofuku Milk Bar's Crack Pie.  They do next day UPS air shipping, so the pie gets to you pretty quickly.  The box comes with a cool ice pack, so it stays nice and cool while shipping. I actually ordered mine from Goldbely.com because it was offering free overnight shipping, but usually the pie, which is $44, will cost an addition 30 bucks with overnight shipping. It's a pretty hefty price, but it does feed 8-10 people. 
    The Momofuku site describes the pie as one with a "toasted oat crust" and "gooey butter filling."   The pie is made from brown sugar, cream, egg yolks, whole oats, unbleached wheat flour, eggs, milk powder, salt, vanilla, leavening, and corn flour.

    Ok, now for the review.  My favorite thing about this pie was the crust.  For me, the filling more or less tasted like pecan pie filling - only without the pecans.  Like pecan pie, the filling can get overly sweet if you eat too much.  (Still, I found myself nibbling on bits and pieces of it even after having my initial slice).  The crust was where the genius was.  I felt like I was eating filling on a base of nutty and delicious toffee, which was quite nice. The crust isn't your traditional flakey pie crust.  It was somewhat flakey, but more cookie-like in consistency.  It reminded me of the French Tart Dough recipe I saw on David Lebovitz' blog, David Lebovitz: Living the Sweet Life in Paris. It's an unconventional way of making a pie crust that more or less gives you the same feel as this Momofuku Crack Pie crust.

    Overall, I think with the steep price, you should may be try a slice if you happen to be visiting New York on vacation. Then if it turns out that you do really like it, well, you'll know it's never more than a UPS day away. 

    Additional note: Momofuku Milk Bar did come out with a recipe book and I do believe the famous Crack Pie is in it.




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  19. We've all heard the joke that a cook's favorite color is "golden brown."  This is very true, but golden brown may not be the easiest to achieve when it comes to pastries. There have been numerous times when I'm baking at home and I've clearly baked whatever item it may be long enough.  The only problem is the croissant, or pie, or biscuit still looks super pale and pale translates to sickly and sickly translates to "not good."  It sort of makes the bakery item look "unhealthy," and nobody wants that.  But if you bake it longer, the item either gets too dry inside or on occasion, there are parts of the item that may get super brown, when the rest of it does not.   

    So here's bakery tip #3 (I think it's #3).  At the bakery, when we want things to get that golden brown to light brown color, we always brush it with egg wash.  It's about 1 egg to 1-2 tablespoons of milk.  To further that browning, if it happens to be an item that needs additional sweetness ie. biscuits, muffins, or pie dough for an apple pie, we will sprinkle some sugar right on top of the egg wash. It's guaranteed to give that "healthy" color to your baked goods.  

    Now I may do a small posting on this later, but another x-factor for that perfectly browned color is oven temperature.  A professional convection oven is much stronger than a home kitchen oven.  When I tried one of the biscuit recipes from the bakery at my home oven, I had to increase the temperature from 325 degrees Fahrenheit to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Every oven is calibrated differently, but if any of you get a recipe from a professional restaurant or bakery, this maybe a good thing to keep in mind.                                                                   
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  20. I don't recommend many "cookbooks" because they are sort of all the same to me.  Some have way pretty photography.  Some have interesting recipes that a recipe developer somewhere has made up.  Still they are sort of all the same - little tidbits of difference here and there, but ultimately the same.  

    That's why I want to recommend "Ratios" to anyone who has a deep interest in cooking or baking, but may already have the standard cookbooks and want to take cooking to the next level.  This book does exactly what the title says - it tells you those important, key ratios in cooking i.e. 5 parts flour to 3 parts water for a basic bread dough, and 3 parts flour to 2 parts fat to 1 part water for that magic "3, 2, 1" pie dough.  

    I really enjoyed how the author, Michael Ruhlman, presented the book.  He said this book doesn't teach you how to make the best of anything.  Although it contains recipes, it's not really a recipe book.  This book is sort of for when you don't have any recipes. You can still put together the staples - bread, muffins, chicken stock, mayonnaise, creme anglaise, etc. with the ingredients you have in stock.  The book teaches you the ratios for stock be stock or pound cake to be pound cake.  The flavors you choose to add to it afterwards like salt, extra sugar, cinnamon, et cetera is up to you.  If you like your cakes or cookies to be more moist and decide to add more butter or more egg yolks afterwards, that is up to you as well.  The book takes the dependency on cookbooks away from the home chef and really transforms that home chef into something more of a creator.

    Another neat thing about the book is that it really educates you on each staple item and how to manipulate it to become other things.  The book talks about how sometimes, food items actually contain the same ratio, but it is how the item is prepared that determines what it will become.  For example, pound cake and sponge cake both have the same ratio of fat to sugar to flour to egg.  The only difference is procedure.  In a pound cake, you cream together the butter and sugar first.  In a sponge cake, you beat the eggs and sugar until it becomes light and fluffy.

    So yes, this is one of those books that I highly recommend - maybe for the somewhat more advanced chef who wants to read a "cookbook" that can build on his or her understanding of food. Or it can be for those cooks who are just creative at heart and are rebels when it comes to following recipes. Either way, it's a surprisingly good read.
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  21. I thought I'd include this quick word of advice for those home and semi-professional want-to-be bakers out there that a scale is VERY necessary when you want to bake like the pros.  If you think about it, recipes are really about ratios - ratio of liquid to fat to flour to sugar. When you weigh things, you ensure those ratios stay accurate.  Now, it's not that if you don't own a scale, you can't bake amazingly delicious things.  I have gone baking without a scale for the majority of my life.  It's just that when it comes to baking, there are quite a few more recipes (as opposed to cooking) where accuracy is very much important.  You have probably heard this before, but the difference between someone who scoops a cup of flour and another person scooping that same cup of flour can sometimes differ by up to a couple ounces.  Some people spoon their flour into the cup, and some people pack it a bit more.  That extra flour can contribute to additional gluten being developed making a tougher dough.  

    Now, cup measurements are great because they are quick and easy, and it really works for "more solid" type ingredients such as salt or sugar.  But for things you can really pack i.e. flour, confectioners sugar, even brown sugar, the difference in the recipe can be huge - especially for more delicate type desserts.  You know from my initial post of A Baker's Life that consistency is just as important as accuracy when you work in a commercial kitchen.  Using a scale is a way you can ensure that your pies, cookies, cakes - especially cakes - come out the way you had made them before.  


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  22. Ok, so for the longest time, I've been taught by the chefs and cooks on cooking shows that it is absolutely imperative that when you are separating the egg yolks from the whites that you get no yolk in the whites.  The fat from the yolks will prevent - should you wish to whip up your whites for a meringue or something - from whipping up.  It's like - well if you get any yolks in your whites you might as well start over.

    That's just what I've been taught.  So you would imagine my surprise when in the bakery when I was taking out multiple bowls to separate my yolks from my whites - one bowl for the whites, one for the yolks, and one bowl for the immediate egg I was working with to make sure I didn't break the yolk into the whites before pouring the contents of that bowl into my other two egg containers - that I was told to not do that because it wastes time and bowls.

    So here's what I learned that may save whoever is reading this a ton of anxiety should the inevitable happen.


    1. Egg shells sink to the bottom of bowls (it sort of floats first, but give it some time, it actually sinks to the bottom). I think about this phenomenon now and think it may not benefit the home cook as much as a pastry chef who usually has her ingredients weighed out first, and then gets to them maybe an hour later - hence, time for the egg shells to sink.  But I mean, if you're ever cracking eggs in large batches, know that you don't need to go fishing for eggshells should one enter the pool of eggs.  You do have to remember to pour the eggs in slowly especially towards the end where the shells will be.
    2. This is the big one.  If you get yolks into your whites, life is not over.  It's a weird phenomenon that I sort of want to look up, but first off, egg yolks float, which makes what I'm about to tell you to do, a lot easier.  If you take a half of an eggshell from the ones you've already cracked and just skim the egg yolk out, the little bits of yolk just magically fall in.  I mean, you'll get a little bit of whites in the process, but what I had thought would happen would be that eggs just sort of stick to themselves in that gelatin-like state and that little bits wouldn't just go into an eggshell. Well, I was wrong and this little bit of discovery made me excited for several days.  We were making an italian buttercream the day after with all the whites and everything whipped up fine - so this is tried and tested!

    So there you go.  I was definitely way excited to share this tip and discovery with you all.  I know it may not pertain to certain small quantities people's use, but if you're ever cracking 48 eggs or needing to separate 36 yolks from its whites, this trick works.
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  23. Sorry I've been missing for a couple days.  I've been wanting to write this posting for several weeks now but have been too exhausted.  From doing what you ask?  Well, for those of you who don't know me, I've been toying with the idea of going into culinary arts - professionally, for quite some time. Writing and doing video cooking segments are still my love, but I think it was definitely time to graduate from more of the home cook connoisseur to the professionals.  

    Now, I know there are a ton of people like me who are thinking about this jump and I just thought I would go ahead and document my journey with you every now and then.  In the "A Baker's Life" series, I'll include daily tips and tricks I'm learning as a professional/commercial baker and also include full experiences - like how tired one can get after standing up for 9 hours straight and really give you that full insight into being a professional cook (when you're coming from more of that office setting).

    One of my first tasks:  Rolling out 1,500 mini cookies

    Freeze them first and then box them up


    Things I've Learned After Day 1

    1. Cooks/Bakers/Chefs...they don't really get lunches or breaks.  What I mean is, coming from more of the corporate setting, I remember HR talking about how it is necessary to provide a half hour for lunch, two 15 minute breaks per 8 hour work day, etc. etc.  Now whether you chose to take that break or had time to was another story.  But in the kitchen, and I'm serious when I say this, there are no set breaks.  I mean, I guess you can grab a piece of biscuit that broke while you were lifting it from the tray, and your boss does let you have a free bowl of soup and what not, but "lunch" is something where when you finally get a free moment, you ask the chef whether you can go and grab a bowl of soup for like 5 minutes - really.  Now what is fair is that if you are hourly, like how most cooks start off, you don't get lunch deducted from your pay - which will lead to my next point.

    2. I guess this is not necessarily something I learned, but something I've realized and am constantly stressed out over.  I'm talking about the pay.  If you look at sites online, most will tell you that cooks starting off start at around $10/hour and I mean, you do work your way up, but the pay really never gets that high.  And so if you come from more of a corporate office setting like myself, it is a bit unnerving even though you sort of know this fact already, that you're working 9-10 hour days on your feet, sometimes exhausted out of your mind, and on top of that, might have some serious problems paying your rent and possibly saving up for the bigger purchases in life.  

    I'll tell you the strange thing and a lot of people in the culinary profession can probably identify with is that most of the cooks and even the pastry chef I work with have second jobs. It maybe bar tending or working at a department store and even more overwhelming - another 8-9 hour restaurant cook job where you're on your feet until about midnight.  I don't know how these people do it, but the one thing you can say is that they are definitely hard workers. Some have families and children and hardly get to see them...guess that's the tradeoff when you work in the restaurant biz - if you do want to settle down and have a family, and I guess have enough money to support them, you might not get to see them much.  This is a bit different from corporate execs though because although they may not get to see their families much, most of them have a pretty nice income they are racking up.  The cooks I work with do not.

    3. I've mentioned this one several times, but you would not believe how your body aches after being on your feet for 9 hours straight.  I mean, the first couple days, I was more or less stationary - rolling out dough, occasionally crouching over while rolling the dough (thus explaining the back pains), but if you're not use to standing up the whole day, you might be in need of Tylenol for the next couple days.  I'm sort of getting use to it now, but those first two weeks were brutal.  Whereas in the corporate setting, you came home exhausted - maybe from lack of sleep or from stress or I guess just being overworked, in the restaurant industry, you come home PHYSICALLY exhausted.  Every part of your body aches.  It's almost like going to the gym for the first time in years...and you need a couple weeks to get in shape before you get use to the pain...yes, kind of like that. I'll tell you, it's pretty easy falling right to sleep after a full day of work.  Props to all the restaurants chefs out there because this is really no easy job.

    4. My last realization I learned comes from actual baking.  I think I'll have more of these in the future so that the home cooks out there can really benefit from this, but it comes from rolling out cookie dough.  When you're a home cook, I think the most cookies you ever really need is about 20.  No one ever needs to roll out 1,500, but in doing so, it made me realize how important and difficult being consistent really is.  You'll be surprised after you cut out cookies from your dough how some are significantly thicker or thinner than others - and that can lead to trouble when you're baking it.  The owner of the bakery was telling me that next to cleanliness, consistency is probably the most important thing in a commercial business.  I mean, you don't want your goods coming out like they've been manufactured by a machine, but at the same time, they need to look pretty darn close.

    Tip: Because the dough I rolled out was fairly thin, using a ruler would prove to not help.  Instead, what I did was to take a wooden skewer - the ones for fruit or meat, and make a small mark with a pen as to the desirable thickness I wanted for my dough.  This helped out A TON when you're rolling and cutting out cookies at the volume that I do.  Keep in mind that usually, the larger you roll out the piece of dough, the more cookies you can get out of it, thus saving you time.  But the bigger the piece of dough, the more difficult it gets to handle and roll out - thus more inaccuracies.  Usually, the center of your dough will be thickest, while the edges will be thinner.  Note though that if parts of your dough do get too thin, you essentially can't cut the cookie from that part anyhow, so I guess, just make sure you start off small and work your way up to a comfortable amount you can roll out.

    Ok, well that's my 2 cents for the day.  I'm truly super tired, but really still enjoying myself and learning lots.  Can't wait for you guys to follow along and hopefully get something useful out of this experience.

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  24. This is one of the most simple, yet delicious rice dishes I think I've had in a Japanese restaurant.  Oyakodon, which translates into "parent and child rice bowl," is a dish where chicken and eggs are cooked with a sauce and then spooned on top of a bowl of rice.  It's filling in that it satisfies all of the necessary senses - savory and sweet.  And the good thing - you can usually find most of these ingredients in your pantry.

    I have a couple of substitutes though in case you don't have some of the more unusual ingredients.  (I actually didn't have dashi when I made this the first time and substituted for a little chicken broth.)

    Dashi - can be substituted for chicken broth + salt or miso soup if you have it

    Mirin - japanese rice wine, can be substituted for Chinese rice wine which is cheaper and a bit of sugar.  If you just have normal white vinegar, I would suggest diluting it a bit with water just to take off that edge and then adding a teaspoon or so of sugar to sweeten the vinegar as mirin is a sweetened rice wine.

    Get rice started

    Chicken Thighs and Sliced Onions

    Soften onions for 5 minutes on medium heat.  Cook sliced chicken for an additional 5 minutes on medium high.

    Add dashi, mirin, soy sauce, and sugar

    Add in beaten eggs




    Ingredients
    2 cups uncooked jasmine rice
    4 cups water
    4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut
    into small pieces
    1 onion, cut in half and sliced
    2 cups dashi stock
    1/4 cup soy sauce
    3 tablespoons mirin (Japanese rice wine)
    3 tablespoons brown sugar
    4 eggs

    Directions
    1. Rinse the rice in 3 to 4 changes of water until the rinse water is almost clear, and drain off the rinse water. Bring the rice and 4 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the rice is tender and the liquid has been absorbed, 20 to 25 minutes.

    2. Place the chicken in a nonstick skillet with a lid, and cook and stir over medium heat until the chicken is no longer pink inside and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the onion, and cook and stir until the onion is soft, about 5 more minutes. Pour in the stock, and whisk in soy sauce, mirin, and brown sugar, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil, and let simmer until slightly reduced, about 10 minutes.

    3. Whisk the eggs in a bowl until well-beaten, and pour over the chicken and stock. Cover the skillet, reduce heat, and allow to steam for about 5 minutes, until the egg is cooked. Remove from heat.

    4. To serve, place 1 cup of cooked rice per bowl into 4 deep soup bowls, top each bowl with 1/4 of the chicken and egg mixture, and spoon about 1/2 cup of soup into each bowl.
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  25. Yellow rice with a little bit of green herbs is the easiest way to dress up a not so interesting meal.  On days when all I feel like doing is getting a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, pairing it up with white rice and broccoli just seems too blah.  

    But the problem is I don't want to spend a ton of time making rice.  Some yellow recipes require you to soften garlic or onions before browning the rice, then adding something expensive to it like saffron, and then finally putting in your chicken stock.  It's just - the reason I got my rotisserie chicken was because I didn't want to cook.  At the same time though, I don't want the store bought stuff that essentially tastes like one big pot of chicken bouillon cubes. So, one day when I was aching for some quick (yet still home-made) yellow rice - with all the fragrant flavors but without the consuming preparation time, I essentially put 5 aromatic ingredients into a rice cooker and let that go.  The results...pretty darn good yellow rice (well, on the fly anyway).

    Turmeric: The Magic Ingredient 
    Yellow Rice: The Perfect Accompaniment to Any Meal

    Ingredients

    1 1/2 cups white rice
    1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
    1/4 teaspoon onion powder
    1/4 teaspoon turmeric
    1/4 teaspoon dried dill
    2 cups chicken stock (depends on type of rice)
    generous dash of salt

    Directions
    1. Add all ingredients into rice cooker and cook rice according to instruction.

    2. Fresh herbs, olive oil, or any additional flavoring ingredients can be added to rice when cooked.

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  26. A quick blog about this - I hate being on diets...well I hate gaining an extra 10 pounds and not being able to fit into my pants either, so anyways...

    I have this awesome sandwich that I make whenever I do want to lose a couple pounds.  It actually isn't that crazy - I make a couple of substitutes and make sure that whatever is left is 150% flavorful - I think keeping the flavor has something to do with keeping the cravings down too.

    It's an open faced buffalo chicken on cheddar rice cake.  I think the good thing about open face sandwiches are that because we have lessened the amount of "bread" and made substitutes to the sandwich, you could easily eat 2 - making it seem more filling -and not feel too badly about it.  Instead of a recipe, I thought I would give you guys a calorie chart instead.

    Buffalo Chicken on Rice Cake                
    2 slices buffalo chicken deli meat - 30 calories
    1 white cheddar rice cake - 40 calories
    1 teaspoon garlic aioli mustard - 30 calories
    1 small handful arugula - 0 calories (about 4 calories per cup)

    Now, that basically comes in at 100 calories per open face sandwich.  And like I said, if it doesn't fill you up, have two - I think that's more my typical lunch anyway...unless I want a quick snack before dinner or something.  And including ingredients that are flavor rich (yes, do look out for sodium content as well) does help with the craving and does away with the thought that all you're eating is a sandwich made from rice cakes.  Give this one a try because it is absolutely delicious and really puts down that craving for potentially fattier foods and/or other junk food.



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  27. Chicken nuggets are something I love to eat whether it be from some chain store or just from an easy packet I pick up at the supermarket.  I think they're super versatile because you can have them as a snack, or on the night or nights you don't feel like cooking, you just pair these with a bowl of spaghetti and some sauce and you have yourself a pretty good tasting meal.

    I guess the only issue about getting it from a place like McDonalds is that you don't really know what's in it - fillers, oils etc., etc.  And when you get them from supermarkets - yes, they are fairly inexpensive, but those are usually the ones with a ton of filler and whatever else the manufacturers choose to put in. Something like the Purdue all white meat ones can again get pretty pricey, and so, why not make your own?  It's a pretty easy process and you can control all the spices, type of meat, and amount of salt you want in your chicken.  To make this recipe a little more fun, I was reminded of the Shake n' Bake stuff I used to do as a kid.  It was probably one of the first "meal meals" I have made, so I thought it would be fun to incorporate that in as well.

    Tips: Some of the things I did find out after making this several times was that, sadly, I am more used to the ground up/processed chicken type of chicken nuggets.  A good way around that is to actually use a meat pounder and pound your chicken - just gently. It's not meant to flatten the chicken, put just to tenderize it and make it easier for eating.  Also, I fried mine in a shallow pan of oil, but you could easily just drizzle some olive oil on the chicken and bake it off in a pan at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes.  Frying it just makes it a bit more crispy I think, but baking it is a much cleaner process and the results are not bad.



    Chicken Breast Strips
    Chopped Garlic, Paprika, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Dill, Salt, Pepper, Olive Oil Rub
    Italian Bread Crumbs
    All in a Zip-Lock bag

    Shake!
    Fry on Medium-Medium High Heat for 3 minutes on one side and 2 minutes on the other.
    Drain on Paper Towels Before Serving

    Ingredients
    10-12 pieces of chicken strips
    4-5 cloves garlic
    1 teaspoon paprika
    1 tablespoon garlic powder
    1 tablespoon onion powder
    1 tablespoon dried dill
    1 tablespoon black pepper
    1 tablespoon kosher salt
    3 tablespoons olive oil
    3/4 cup bread crumbs
    scallions to garnish
    oil for frying


    Directions
    1. In a bowl, sprinkle garlic, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, dill, pepper, salt, and olive oil over chicken strips and toss. 
    2. Put chicken into zip-lock bag and add the bread crumbs.  Shake bag and make sure all strips are coated with the bread crumb.
    3. On medium-medium high heat, heat 1 inch of canola oil in a Dutch oven.  Fry chicken for 2-3 minutes on one side, and 2 minutes on the second side.
    4. Drain chicken on paper towels before serving. Garnish with scallion sliced on the bias.


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  28. These are the cookies you want to be making if it's 8pm on a Sunday night and you get the sudden cravings for peanut butter cookies.

    I originally got this recipe off of a Foodnetwork gluten free recipe, but I in no way chose to make these for health related reasons.  I chose this recipe because it had 5 ingredients (3-4 of which you can find in probably 90% of households) and you an make it in one bowl.  From start to finish - baking time included, these cookies take a total of about 15 minutes to make.  There's no butter.  You don't have to cream anything.  I made mine with a single fork.  It was just one of those recipes where I  knew I had all the ingredients, where I knew I didn't have to clean twenty different items afterward, and where I knew that in 15 minutes (prep and bake time included) I would be eating some yummy peanut butter cookies.

    The only downside to these cookies if there are any would be that it is a bit crumbly because of the lack of flour and butter and also that it can be a little too peanut butter-y - meaning at times, eating the cookies will sort of be like eating a spoonful of peanut butter - again not necessarily a bad thing, but it can stick to your teeth.  And yes, did I mention this recipe is extremely peanut butter heavy?

    Tips: I heard someone had added a teaspoon of baking soda to the recipe and that made the cookie a bit more crispy and less crumbly.  I also recommend adding 1/2-3/4 cup sugar instead of the full cup as it would be way too sweet.  I sprinkled on a little coarse salt on top of the cookies before I baked them because I think that really brings out the peanut butter flavor. Also, because it is the fall and I had a bag of dried cranberries, I decided to mix those in as well.  The flavor was delicious, but the oven has the tendency to dry out the cranberries, so what I would recommend is to rehydrate the cranberries either in some water or orange juice before putting them into the batter.
    Everything in one bowl: peanut butter eggs, sugar, vanilla, salt
    Bowl of smooth peanut butter dough
    Spoon them into 16 balls and press down with a fork
    10 minutes in a 350 oven and they're ready to serve
    Fall treat: Peanut butter cranberry cookies!


















    Ingredients

    1 cup natural peanut butter

    1/2 - 3/4 cup sugar

    1 large egg, lightly beaten

    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    Coarse sea salt

    Optional: rehydrated cranberries

    Directions

    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a bowl, mix the peanut butter, sugar, egg and vanilla until well combined. 

    2. Spoon 1 tablespoon of mixture about 1 inch apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Flatten the dough with the tines of a fork, making a crosshatch pattern on the cookies. 

    3. Sprinkle coarse salt on top of the cookies. Bake for 10 minutes rotating the pans halfway.
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  29. This is my favorite Chinese dessert soup of all time.  Any time I'm at home, I ask my mother to make it.  And honestly, she makes this dessert better than any restaurant I've been to - hands down. Now the idea of a "dessert soup" may seem strange to a lot of people, but this is mainly the way that Chinese people have dessert.  I mean we have "cake" in the form of bakery items for breakfast, but when it comes to after dinner desserts, it is mainly these soups.

    Green bean is my favorite when there is seaweed involved.  It just adds a nice complexity and bite to the whole thing.  And as many Asians know, green mung bean soup is far superior to (I guess it's debatable, but most of my family members agree) its more mundane cousin - the red bean soup, which is more of your day-to-day, run-of-the-mill sweet beaned soup - with nothing particularly special about it - sort of like an overly sweet store bought white sheet cake.  Chinese restaurants love to serve red bean soup though (probably because it's red), but it's when they serve green bean that I get super excited.

    Now my mom adds something that many restaurants don't add to their green bean soup and that's dried tangerine peel.  Let me tell you, it makes a world of difference.  I once made it without and the soup sort of tasted bland and just boring and earthy, which beans have a tendency to taste like. Even with sugar and the seaweed for an added bite, the soup was still missing something.  When you add the dried tangerine peel, it adds a bright yet mellow citrus essence to the mung bean soup, and it just brings out all the flavors even more.  That pop of citrus wakes up the soup.  If you don't have the traditional Chinese "guo pi" - skin of tangerine - then I'd say to try drying some yourself in the oven.  In the Chinese styled peels, they dry more than just the zest- it's rind and everything, which should make the process a bit easier.  She also adds a bit of rice to her soup.  This thickens up the soup a bit more and adds a nice and soft contrasting texture to the primarily all bean soup.  Long grain is used as opposed to the softer more glutinous short grain because it holds its shape better and doesn't make the soup too gummy.

    Substitutes - if you  don't have cane sugar, which I say has a similar flavor to brown sugar - only it's a bit more fragrant and mellow, feel free to substitute for a little brown sugar and a little white sugar. All brown would make the soup too dark.

    It is a super easy dessert to make - basically throw everything into one pot.  And it is one of those desserts that is truly authentic and traditional, so I would recommend giving it a try.

    Mung Beans 
    Long grain rice
    Seaweed

    Cane Sugar

    Simmer together for 30 minutes


    Add sugar and cook for an additional 10 minutes.

    Cut up seaweed prior to serving 



    Ingredients
    (Serves 4-5 people)
    6 ounces green mung beans (half bag)
    3 tablespoons long grain white rice
    5-6 cups water
    2 sticks cane sugar (2-3 ounces according to taste)
    2 pieces dried tangerine peel
    2 sheets kombu seaweed (4x6 inches)

    Directions
    1. Wash and drain green beans.  Put in rice, tangerine peels, kombu, and water.  Bring to a boil.  Turn down to low-medium heat and simmer for 30 minutes until beans open.
    2. Take out kombu and slice into bite sized strips.  Return to pot.
    3. Add cane sugar and cook for an additional 10 minutes until sugar is dissolved.  Taste for flavor.
    4. Dessert soup can be served hot or cold.
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  30. Well, it's that time of the year again where people are going apple picking and then wondering afterwards what to do with all those apples!  I have a ton of apple recipes but one of my favorite things to make is an apple cranberry galette.  I first tried it in a bakery near my town and found the tartness of the cranberries to be utterly refreshing.  If you don't know this about me, I really don't like overly sweet desserts - well, maybe some, but usually if the dessert is so sweet that it masks the actual flavor of what the dessert should be, then I don't like it.  Sugar, like salt, is really meant to bring out or enhance the flavors of the ingredients you are working with.  It should never be overpowering.  A cake should never just taste sweet.  There should be hints of butter or vanilla or whatever the sugar was meant to highlight.

    Anyways, apple galette - it's really meant to be just a rustic apple pie.  Instead of putting on the top layer of dough, apple galette recipes call for the baker to roll out a large piece of dough over the amount of the bottom of the pie pan.  Then you fill the pie with your apple filling and fold over the additional dough on top.  Now I like that rustic-ness, but on the day I made the galettes, I opted for a traditional lattice pattern.  I think it's prettier and looks cuter because I'm using individual 5-inch tart pans as well.
    I sort of adapted this recipe from the many apple galette recipes I had seen online, along with the apple galette I tasted at the bakery.  First, I knew I had to use a combination of butter and a slight bit of shortening.  The butter provides great flavor and helps with making the layers of the dough so it tastes flakey, but shortening almost tenderizes each layer of the dough, which makes for a wondering combination.

    I also opted to cook the filling for about 5 minutes before putting it into the tart pans.  Now, I used cranberries and did not want them to pop, so I ended up only cooking the apples and then adding the cranberries after.  This basically gets the apples to release some of their juices, so that your pie shells don't get all soggy afterwards.  I found it didn't affect the flavor of the end result at all - and I didn't get a pile of gooey mess on the pans after.  A note with cranberries is depending on how tart you like your pies, you may have to add a bit more sugar to each tart.

    Also I added both lemon and orange zest.  I usually do this to a lot of my recipes, but sometimes, lemon zest is too light of an aroma for something as hearty as apple galettes, so by adding the orange zest as well, it not only adds another citrus complexity, but it also gives the galettes a little more depth in flavor.

    A tip is to make sure and work with cold dough.  I rolled the dough out between plastic wrap to make cleaning easier.  But this  technique is also good because you don't have to keep on adding additional flour to roll out the dough, which can toughen it.  The dough will still stick, but if it is cold enough, it won't.  This tip is especially useful for when you are cutting out strips to make the lattice.  I show a nice technique for how to line the bottoms of the pie shells too.  Anyways, hope you all enjoy.

    Sift all dry ingredients together
    Work with Chilled Butter
    Cutting butter into quarters will make it easier to cut them into small chunks later
    Add Egg Yolks for Additional Richness
    After cutting butter into dough and adding wet ingredients, add more or less water
    Never over mix.  Get dough into a ball and refrigerate
    Make apple filling and cook over stove for 5 minutes on medium high heat
    Add fresh cranberries
    Line bottom of pan with a dough rope and ball
    Press dough into pan with about 3/8 inch thickness on sides and slightly less on the bottom
    Fill Pie Pans and top with a pad of butter
    Lattice topping (Over and Under, Over and Under). Top with egg wash and sugar.
    Bake for 40 minutes in a 425 degree oven
    Ingredients
    (Makes 6 5-inch tarts)

    For the crust:

    2 cups all-purpose flour

    1/2 cup whole wheat flour

    1/4 cup granulated sugar

    1/8 teaspoon salt

    1 1/4 sticks (cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces)

    4 tablespoons vegetable shortening

    1 egg + 2 large egg yolks (1 egg for egg wash)

    6 tablespoons ice water

    For the filling:

    3-4 Granny Smith apples, peeled and cut into small chunks

    1/2 cup fresh cranberries

    1/4 cup granulated sugar

    1/4 cup light brown sugar

    2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

    1 teaspoons finely lemon zest

    1 teaspoons grated orange zest

    1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon


    Directions
    1. Combine all dry ingredients with a fork and cut in pieces of chilled butter and shortening until pea sized and crumbly.  Add in egg yolks and cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time.  
    2. Knead dough into a ball and refrigerate for 2 hours.
    3. For filling: Mix apples, sugar, lemon juice, and cinnamon in a small sauce pan.  Over medium-high heat, cook apple mixture for about 5 minutes until juices are released.  Let sit and cool.  
    4. Cut chilled dough into 6 pieces.  In 5 inch tart pans, press dough into pan measuring 3/8 inch for sides and slightly less for bottom.  Put leftover dough back in refrigerator for lattice work later.
    5. Finish filling by straining out additional liquid from cooked apples and mix the apple mixture with fresh cranberries and the lemon and orange zest.  Put filling into pie shells.  Add a small piece of butter on top of each tart.
    6. With leftover dough, roll out into 1/8 inch thick.  Cut 1/4 inch strips and make lattice over the fruit going over and under with each strip.
    7. Brush galettes with egg wash and sugar. Bake galettes over a sheet pan for 40 minutes in a 425 degree oven.


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  31. This pork belly may be one of the easiest recipes I've encountered, but its flavor and versatility is abound.  It's Momofuku's Pork Belly recipe from David Chang's book, Momofuku. For those of you who are not familiar, the chain of Momofuku restaurants (I recently visited the noodle bar in New York)was started by a Korean American chef called David Chang.  I'd say one of the most famous things known to the restaurants is their ramen.  There's been countless articles and recipes published talking about Momofuku's broth and how ridiculously delicious it is -  (pain to make though)and of course, their pork belly which can be paired with ramen or baos.  If you're like me, I put it on anything - rice, sandwiches, porridge - you name it.

    I figure the broth was a bit too cumbersome to make, but I wanted to show you a recipe for 2 that I made - reducing the recipe in half.  Honestly it's so easy, but what I ended up doing was making sure to use boiling water for part of the brine so that the salt and sugar would be dissolved, therefore really being able to flavor the pork.  I also cut off the pork belly skin, because having made it before, the skin can end up really burned and hard, so I just cut it off and either deep fry it for pork rinds, or just cook it off with the pork, but on the side.

    I also did one more thing to make this recipe extra delicious - I made my own chicken stock...well sort of.  A lot of you might not know to do this, but any time I get a rotisserie chicken from the super market for dinner, I use the flavorful bones left from it to make stock.  I'll add some carrots and onions to the bottom, but if you don't want that, just simmer the chicken - bones with probably some meat and skin left on for extra flavor.  Then cover it with enough water and simmer for about 2-3 hours.  You end up getting this genuinely flavored stock that's not too overpowering, with just the right emphasis on the chicken-ness.  An added plus is you can control the sodium that goes into the broth, and you definitely want to opt for the lower sodium kind as the pork has already been brined with a salt/sugar solution.  (P.S. The pork does have a tendency to be quite salty - in a delicious way of course, but adjustments can be made to the brine in the future should you find this the case.)  Anyways, here we go with the pork...

    1 lb. Pork Belly with Skin Sliced Off
    Use 2 Cups Boiling Water to Sugar and Salt
    Homemade Chicken Stock
    Roast on low heat 300 degrees, then 450 degrees at end

    Ingredients
    1/2 cup sugar
    1/2 cup salt
    4 1/2 cups water (4 cups for brine, 1/2 cup for cooking)
    1 lb skinless boneless pork belly, cut in half
    1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth

    Directions

    To brine pork:
    1. Dissolve sugar and salt in 2 cups of boiling water. Then add 2 cups water to cool down brine.  
    2. Put pork belly in a container or plastic bag where it can be completely submerged by the brine.  Pour in brine and let sit for at least 12 hours.  


    To roast pork:
    1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
    2. Discard the brining liquid and put pork belly - fat side up - in an 8 inch square baking pan.
    3. Pour chicken broth and remaining half cup of water into pan.  Cover with foil and roast for for 2.5 hours.
    4. Remove foil and increase oven temperature to 450°F.  Roast the pork for an additional 20-30 minutes. 
    5. Let cool and serve with your favorite dishes.




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  32. When you order a bubble tea in Taiwan, you're asked several questions.  What temperature do you want the tea? - really hot, warm, cold, with ice, without ice...Then you're asked how much sugar you want - normal amount, half, a third, and a nice little secret I found out after living there for almost a year is that you can substitute honey (free of charge) to it instead.
    Courtesy of Coco
    International

    I wanted to share with you guys my favorite type of bubble tea while I was studying in Taiwan.  My mom recently took a trip over there and her pictures reminded me that I had a ton of my own to share.  It's called "3 Guys" - with the word "guys" sort of meaning brothers or just things that hang out together.  It's actually referring to the additional ingredients like tapioca pearl, or aloe vera you add to the tea.  (Those who thought aloe vera was just for cuts and burns have to try it out!  It has sort of a softer pear/cucumber like texture and flavor.  It's a nice and lighter alternative to the heavier tapioca balls - boba - which are usually added).  Anyhow, the three fillings to 3 Guys is the normal tapioca balls, grass jelly, and pudding.  These three ingredients are like the magic trinity of Asian desserts - like the big 3, so it made perfect sense to put them all together into one cup of bubble tea.
    Bubble tea has definitely made its way across the US.  I was surprised to see one in Maine this past summer!  But nothing beats the creative flavors they have in Taiwan mixing fruits and rose and herbal products together.  You could definitely go on a culinary tour of the country and focus just on bubble tea.






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  33. I thought I'd do a quick write up on Clover's Lavender Lemonade. If you're someone who likes herb infused drinks whether it be rosemary or thyme or lemon verbena infused tea, you have to give this a try.  I'm not usually a lemonade gal because usually it's made too sweet.  The lemonade is perfect because it isn't overly sweet and the lavender flavor really compliments the sourness from the lemons.  I also think it is the sourness from the lemons that take away that potentially soapy taste that people may associate with lavender when it does appear in food dishes.  It's really the perfect lemon-y and herb-y refresher.
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  34. I was at the SOWA Markets again this weekend doing some antiques shopping, but had to stop by the rows of food trucks first to get my grub fix.  I decided to try a food truck I hadn't tried before - Momogoose.  They seem to specialize in Vietnamese street food - baguettes, noodle bowls, very much like Bon Me - big shoes to fill.  Unfortunately, I had already gotten my main dishes - miso pork baguette and miso pork noodle bowl - at Bon Me, but I thought I would try Momogoose's sides.  I tried their Asian spring rolls and their special Shanghai dumplings that aren't usually on their menu.  Now I love to give good food reviews, but I thought Momogoose - well their sides anyway, sort of fell short of the mark.  I felt the dumplings and rolls  may have been sitting there for some time before because they were cold and didn't taste fresh.  I thought the dumpling dough was very thick and sort of hard to chew through.  Now the spring rolls were pretty crunchy, but I remember chewing through them and not really getting any of the filling.  I don't know.  I know they are just side dishes, but the thing is, Momogoose is choosing to serve food that is prepared AMAZINGLY well by another food truck that may quite possibly be one of the best and most successful food trucks in Boston.  I think everything needs to be served at its best because the food truck scene is getting bigger and more competitive.
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  35. When I was studying in Taiwan, my favorite thing to get near the Shilin MRT stop were these super flakey scallion pancakes.  Now, most recipes say their pancakes come out "flakey", but I think that's mainly for show.  These scallion pancakes in Taiwan were FLAKEY almost in a puff pastry sort of way.  Each of the layers weren't as crispy as puff pastry, but the layers were definitely comparable. And so when I came home and tried making authentic Taiwanese scallion pancakes, I spent hours trying to recreate the layers by folding the dough back and forth, back and forth.  I got pretty good at making scallion pancakes, but they were never like the ones in Taiwan...Until it dawned on me one day, it wasn't necessarily the folding back and forth that made the pancakes flakey, it was the lard they put in it!  I had looked into some recipes that had lard in it, but most recipes call for oil and the thing is, oil doesn't do the trick.  Texturally, the pancakes in Taiwan had this rich crispiness to it, almost like the dough to a deep dish pizza.  So thus came the development of this recipe.  I felt I almost got the same texture from empanada dough and thought if I mixed in scallions and some sesame oil I would get that same feel.  The only thing with this quick recipe is that I used shortening instead of lard and I omitted all the folding.  If you want more flakiness, treat it just like pie dough or puff pastry. Roll out the dough, fold it into thirds, roll out again, fold, and repeat.  I actually don't think the pancakes need it it.  It quickens up the recipe a ton, and there's hardly any kneading.  Put in some extra sesame seeds for extra crunch and you can serve either with a soy sauce or a sweet chutney works as well.
    Mix Wet Ingredients
    Cut Shortening with Flour
    Cut 2 stalks scallions
    Add to flour mixture
    Use Fork to Mix Wet Ingredients into Dry Ingredients
    Knead into Ball and Refrigerate
    Roll out in Plastic Wrap
    Can Freeze up to 2 Months
    Fry 2-3 Minutes a Side


    Ingredients:

    3 cups flour 
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup cold water
    2 eggs
    1 teaspoon vinegar
    3 tablespoons shortening
    3 stalks scallions (diced)
    1 tablespoon sesame oil
    2 tablespoons sesame seeds

    Directions:

    1. In a bowl, beat the water, eggs, vinegar, and sesame oil together.  
    2. In a separate bowl, mix together the 3 cups of flour, scallions, sesame seeds, and salt.

    3. Cut the shortening into the flour mix with fork. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the liquid ingredients.

    4. Mix the wet and dry ingredients with a fork and knead it into a ball.

    5. Refrigerate for 2 hours and divide dough into 8 equal balls.  Roll out to 1/8 inch thickness.  At this point, pancakes can be placed with plastic wrap and frozen for up to 2 months.

    6. Pour half inch of oil into a pan.  Heat oil to medium heat.  Fry pancakes for 2-3 minutes each side.  Serve plain or with sauce.

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