Sunday, December 27, 2009

New England Clam Chowder

I cant believe Christmas has already passed me by. Never felt like it happened at all. Winter break is almost ending, and when winter quarter comes, it's time to get cracking once again. Many things happened during winter break and I don't really want to blog about it because I don't know where to start. But in terms of food, I haven't really been making anything. For one thing, it's because I don't know where all the things are in the kitchen, and another because I don't really need to. Didn't have any sort of Christmas gathering/party with my friends although I would have liked it. Didn't really exchange any gifts; therefore didn't feel much like Christmas. I made clam chowder today and my mom requested MORE apple pie... I'm really sick of it. Please, no more.

And that's all was left of that pie. So difficult to roll the crust thin because it would always break apart. Not sure what I'm doing wrong. More egg perhaps? And flour?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Gingerbread Cookies

I'm finally back home! It's going to feel so strange being away from my apartment for three weeks. I thought I would make butternut squash soup when I get back to LA but I left my butternut squash and spice rack back in San Diego. Bummer. There's so much that I want to make this winter break-- I'm so excited for that! I'm planning to set up the Christmas tree and lights tonight; hooray for holiday festivities! I'm going to make the most of my three weeks back home and end 2009 with a ..."!" (bang!) Fall quarter's over so everything else will just be "fun, fun, fun!"

First thing I did when I got back was hang out with Illa and make gingerbread cookies. Illa did help spread the frosting... sort of. Then we went to Yogurt Land and saw Natalie there and I stole a Tokidoki spoon. :D Gingerbread cookies turned out great! So soft and chewy and GOOD!

Pictures might come later when I make a new batch :)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 cups unbleached flour

Monday, November 9, 2009

Marsala Chicken Pasta

Marsala Chicken Pasta
  • 1 serving of Penne pasta
  • 1/4 onion
  • 5 baby bella mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • ~5 oz chicken breasts
  • 1/2 tbsp tapioca or corn starch (as thickener)
  • 3/4 cup Marsala wine, dry
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • ~A dash of balsamic vinegar
  • optional: grated Parmesan to top
  • basil & oregano, salt+pepper for seasoning
  • some SUGARR! :)
  1. Cook penne al dente.
  2. Oil pan and sauté garlic, onion, and mushrooms until soft. Set aside.
  3. Chop chicken into bite-sized pieces and cook on medium heat. Set aside.
  4. On medium heat add wine, vinegar, and broth and let it come to a boil. Let wine/broth reduce for about 2-3 minutes. Dissolve starch into water. Turn to medium-high and add (water+starch). It should be nice and thick when it starts to bubble.
  5. Immediately reduce heat to low and toss with chicken and sauted mushrroms+onion. Garnish with Parmesan and parsley. Serve.
** Note: Have tried the beef variation with beef broth and ground beef. Very flavorfullll.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Fu Yu Ong Choi, Mabo Tofu, Mushu Pork

The previous post was a belated one. A result of me... procrastinating for the duration of the week. Here's another episode of ... what does Jenny eat?

Fu Yu Ong Choi (Water Spinach with Fermented Bean Curd)

Top: Mabo Tofu
Bottom: Mushu Pork

I want to make a little comment about the Mushu pork though. I didn't have Mok Yee (Black Wood Fungus) so I tried substituting in mushrooms. A little weird but close enough?? (As in they're both fungus) I'll post up the recipe for this one:

Mushu Pork
  • 1/2 head of cabbage
  • 2 oz Pork, thinly sliced
  • Black wood fungus (mok yi)
  • 2 eggs
  • Ginger root

  • Oyster Sauce
  • Soy Sauce
  • Lao Chau (Mushroom Soy Sauce)
  • Brown sugar
  • Sesame oil
  • Tapioca Starch (just a little for a slightly thicker sauce)
Some brief instructions?
Make sauce. Just use your imagination as to how much of each to add. Overall sauce should not exceed 1/4 cup.
Scramble the egg first. Fry the pork. Set aside. Cook fungus according to directions. Oil the wok and brown the ginger a little. Then throw the cabbage into the wok with the sauce and cook. When it's almost done, put everything in and give it a good toss before serving. Based off of my memory of my dad's mushu pork. :)

Simply the Best Cheesecake

Cheesecake was definitely one of the hardest things for me to get right. I've made so, so many cheesecakes in the past, none of which I was completely satisfied with. Back then I over-mixed the batter, which made the batter watery and gross. After that I could never figure out how long to really bake the cake. It just never seemed to set properly. When the cake did set, the top would always crack and it would look like the earth opened up and swallowed it.

But this time was better. I baked the cake in a water bath and let the residual heat set the rest of the cake. I was glad that it turned out so perfectly. I baked this for Tim's 20th birthday so I didn't bother too much with getting a good picture. Take my word for it though-- it's delicious. The real picture is at the bottom.

The Best Cheesecake
  • 15 crushed graham crackers
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted

  • 4 (8 oz) packages of cream cheese, slightly softened
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flor
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) with a pan of water. Grease a 9 inch springform pan.
  2. Combine crushed graham crackers and butter. Press onto bottom of pan.
  3. Cream together sugar and cream cheese.
  4. Add milk, vanilla, incorporate slowly. Then add sour cream and eggs. Lastly add in flour.
  5. Use aluminum foil to wrap the bottom of the pan and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes in the water bath. Without opening the oven, turn it off and let the cake continue to bake in there for 3-4 hours. Remember to let the cake cool before refrigerating or freezing.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Those Cakes Are Poppin'

Red Velvet cake pops! Ever since Alison showed me Bakerella I haven't been able to get my eyes off those sexy looking cake pops. Bakerella makes it look at lot easier than it really is. She does. I had no idea dipping cake balls was so messy. The crumbs turned the melted candy pink =\ Maybe I am just noob at it. But it was fun and definitely cool! I used red velvet cake mix this time. Hooray for mixes! I like red velvet because it's not overly sweet like other mixes. Used white almond bark to dip. Basically just melted the candy and rolled the balls around. I tried taking pictures of every step this time! (No studio lighting but who cares :\) So here's sort of how I made the pops:

1. Made cake according to box instructions. Let it cool and then crumbled the cake into a bowl. Threw in some whipped cream cheese frosting.
2. Mix, mix, mix well until its mold-able!
3. Dip in melted almond bark
4. Stick in the pop sticks and let em cool!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Heat skillet or non-stick pan to med heat. Spray one side of flour tortilla with PAM cooking spray and lay down on skillet. Sprinkle cheese evenly on half of the tortilla and layer your desired ingredients. After the last ingredient, sprinkle cheese on top, fold, and flip over. Grill until golden brown and crunchy.

  • Medium flour tortillas
  • Mexican-blend cheese
  • Pinto beans
  • Salsa
  • Lettuce
  • Grilled chicken, sliced
  • Sour cream to dip
I'll do a little re-post of the do-it-yourself salsa recipe. After you've tried this, you will never look at store-bought brands the same again, I guarantee it. Try not to substitute other types of tomatoes for Romas. Roma tomatoes have less water content and are redder-- which will make your salsa so much better.

  • 3 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp Cilantro, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • optional: jalapenos, hot sauce

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Lattice Apple Pie

I set my alarm clock to 9:30 am, thinking that it would be enough sleep, but when I heard Schubert's Rosamunde, I just turned it off and went back to sleep. :( When I woke up again at 11:30, I leapt off my bed and made pie. I didn't have a rolling pin, so I kept pounding my dough to flatten it. It worked-- to some extent, but it still wasn't flat enough. I ended up with a very thick pie crust. The filling was alright. The crust was good too-- at the parts where it was not too thick. :{

And she just called me a jerk. HAHAHAHA

Okay back to blogging. So Chef Jacky Chan and Jonathan came over and made fried rice. Then I tried making fan shu tong sui but stupid me left the bag out on the counter to defrost when the bag clearly said Warning: Do not defrost. I'm such an idiot. So the rice balls all cracked and it became ji ma wu. (Sesame soup?) It's so funny. Everything is funny right now. My whole suite was at the common area a while ago, watching chemistry educational videos. Those were hilarious. Hilarious. I think I'm going to microwave myself some leftovers right now. Let me just post this recipe up for the pie crust.

Grandma's Pie Crust
Yields: 1 full crust, and one bottom crust.
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 3/4 cups shortening
  • 3 tbsp white sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup water
  1. Dry ingredients in a bowl, and cut in the shortening with two knives or a pastry cutter. Use your fingers to crumble until it resembles cornmeal.
  2. Beat egg with water and mix with the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Form into a ball of dough that can be rolled out. If it is too dry, add a bit of water at a time.
To make a lattice top, visit this website:

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Chocolate Mousse Float

Adapted from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Mousse Au Chocolat. Modified the recipe a bit. Second time trying this recipe, and I think it turned out far better than last time. Chocolate was rich, and the mousse was light and airy. I did have some trouble combining the ganache with the whipped egg whites. I folded the chocolate into the whites, instead of the whites into chocolate, which may have been the main error with my mousse. I have corrected myself in the instructions, so yours may well be better than mine.
I was at the Triton Bookstore and I felt compelled to buy Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Hundreds of recipes in there-- I don't know where to start. I'm very excited, and I can't wait to start making more delicious desserts and dishes! I will repeat the recipe here, while eating a red velvet cupcake from the OVT.

Mousse Au Chocolat
level: medium
  • 2 oz rich, bittersweet chocolate (use quality chocolate, because you will definitely be able to taste the difference)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 4 tbsp sugar, confectioner's
  • 1 tsp strong coffee
  • 1 tsp white rum
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Melt chocolate and butter over simmering water with coffee and rum. After melted, let cool completely.
  2. Beat yolks and 2 tbsp of sugar until double in size and pale in color. Then add extract and whisk over simmering water, until mixture becomes thicker. Then transfer to to ice and whisk until mixture cools and becomes like runny mayonnaise. Fold with cooled chocolate.
  3. Making sure that whisk attachment is clean, whisk the whites until frothy, then add the remaining sugar and salt, whisking until stiff peaks form.
  4. Mix 1/3 of egg whites into chocolate-yolk mixture. Combine thoroughly. Then fold the remaining mixture in. Scoop mousse into serving cups and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Eggplant Parmigiana

Finally! I'm finally posting up my eggplant Parmesan recipe. Ate this with some leftover veggies. I have already done my ranting for today so I have nothing more to say. Gotta do homework. Way behind. Enjoy the Recipe :)

Eggplant Parmigiana
  • 1/2 of an American eggplant or a Chinese eggplant (smaller = cuter)
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Parmesan cheese
  • All-purpose flour
  • Italian seasoning
  • 1 egg
  • Bread crumbs (Panko recommended)
  • 8 oz can of tomato sauce (Italian or regular)
  1. Cut eggplant into 1/4 inch rounds and salt for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, set up your breading station: flour with Italian seasoning, beaten egg with some water, and bread crumbs. Bread eggplants.
  3. Preheat oven to 350. Heat pan to medium heat and fry breaded eggplant rounds. Should be a golden brown color.
  4. Then in a oven-safe pan layer your ingredients in this order (from the bottom):
    - tomato sauce
    - eggplant rounds
    - tomato sauce
    - mozzarella
    - eggplant rounds
    - tomato sauce
    - mozzarella
    - Parmesan
  5. Bake for 30-45 minutes.

Balsamic Chicken with Mushroom

Tender chicken grilled to perfection, drizzled with sweet, reduced balsamic, and served on a layer of sauteed baby bella mushrooms and onions.

^ is probably what it would look like on a menu. lawl

Now from here on, let me digress onto my college life. I spent about 5 hours at the computer lab last night working on my programming assignment, only to have the TA tell me that I should probably change my program because I had used arrays and constructors, topics not yet discussed in the lectures. Now I don't know what has or has not been covered in Ord's lectures, as I have been decorating my notes the whole time, but I do remember this: programming is used to make repetitive tasks easy. Plus, efficiency is always the best policy. So why give up elegance for inefficiency, just because the professor has not covered those topics? But anyways, I was in the lab for so long because I was stubborn and wouldn't budge from my seat until I had fixed all my glitches. (failed. and i went home)

I woke up this morning just to go to Ralph's and Trader Joe's to get some groceries. Now I can spend another paragraph talking about my market adventure this morning, or I can just not, and talk about what I made with my food. I made balsamic chicken with boneless chicken thighs (brought it from home and my mom didn't have chicken breasts)

Food is cheaper at home. :X

And I actually didn't look at a recipe for this one! Hooray!

Balsamic Chicken
  • Halved chicken (breasts)
  • 1 cup baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 onion, sliced
  • Green onion, for garnish
  • Salt and pepper
  • (Crushed bay leaves & thyme) or Italian seasoning
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp white wine (Chardonnay)
  • 1 clove of garlic, halved
  • A few *asparagus spears
  • A tiny bit of tapioca starch
  1. Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and herbs. You can also pre-season it and stick it in the freezer/fridge until you need it.
  2. Heat pan to med-high and add a few drops of oil. When hot, chicken in pan and sizzle it for 3 minutes on each side.
  3. After that, you'd want to turn down the heat to med-low and add the onion and mushroom. Deglaze with wine and a few drops of balsamic vinegar, then put the lid on to cook until done.
  4. Mushrooms and onion at the bottom and place the chicken on top. Garnish with green onion (tossed around in the pan some time between steps 3 and 4) and a few artichoke spears.
  5. Time to make the balsamic drizzzle. Mix a little bit of tapioca starch with water until it has dissolved and combine with balsamic vinegar. Pour that into the pan and it should sizzle and bubble. Reduce it until it's half of it's original amount. (Should only take a few seconds) Drizzle on the chicken. Yum :)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Omurice and Curry Rice

Another very easy recipe that makes a good Sunday brunch. Omurice is Japanese for tasty omlette filled with rice :) I know I pretty much fail at making omlettes because they always fall apart before I can get it out of the frying pan. But this time, this time-- I was hoping it would be different. But I guess not. I was watching Cooking with Dog this morning and I thought that I just had to make some of that omurice. I didn't really follow that recipe since I figured I probably won't have half the stuff she's using anyways. And since I am a college student living at school, my ingredients are always severely lacking. So I made fried rice with whatever I had in the fridge. I didn't have ketchup this morning and how can I make omurice without ketchup? So I decided to go to Earl's Place but it was closed so I went to Canyon Vista and stole a few packets of ketchup :) It generally does not matter what kind of fried rice you put in there, so do whatever you want. I felt like orangey rice today. When I cook and eat I tend to lean towards the vegetarian side just because we don't keep much meat in the freezer. (We only have ice cubes, ice cream, and boxes of waffles) If you're not anything like me and would like some meat in your meals, feel free to add some shrimp or chicken. :)

I know, I know. It's not the best looking omlette, but it tasted pretty good and that's all that matters. I'll make a more visually appealing version next time. I promise.

Fried rice:
Recipes are always in small portions. Makes 2 servings.
  • 1 cup rice (measured before it is steamed)
  • 1/4 onion, diced
  • 1 stalk green onion, chopped
  • 5 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 shake of crushed basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pulp of 2 tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato ketchup
  1. Oil in pan. When it's hot, add garlic and onion. Sweat onions until translucent.
  2. Mix tomato pulp and ketchup together and add that to pan. Add basil.
  3. Add mushrooms, green onion, and toss in the rice. When the mushrooms are done remove rice from pan and set aside.
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup half n half, milk, or water.
After frying the rice:
  1. Beat eggs and cream together. Heat pan to medium heat (I used med-high but it was too much for me) Stir very quickly when it's still liquid to cook the egg evenly.
  2. Add rice. Fold up both sides so that the flaps are still 1.5" away from each other. Carefully slide omlette to the edge of pan and roll it onto the plate.
    Garnish with a salad and maybe some cherry tomatoes. Enjoy!
This is the second part to the entry, curry rice! Made with carrots, potato, onion, and curry cubes. Used the leftover fried rice from this morning. Perfect! 1 cup of rice makes for a day's meals.
No greens. I just microwaved that and it was good to go. Too lazy to even turn on the stove.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Spam Onigiri, Japanese Rice Balls

One of the great things about living away from home is that I get to eat whatever I want, whenever I want, however I want. Say, for example, spam onigiri for dinner on the sofa with my laptop and feet on the coffee table. I didn't really feel like going out to eat (neither did my apartment-mates) so we grabbed some rice seasoning and rice vinegar from Earl's Market and made some rice balls. Next time I will try making different flavors like smoked salmon-- mmMm :)

Well hey, nobody really needs a "recipe" for making rice balls but I'll just post up the ratio of rice to vinegar and sugar:

Sushi Rice
  • 3 cups sushi rice
  • 3 tbsp less 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 3 tbsp sugar
Easy to remember right? Sugar will dissolve naturally in the acid but you can always heat it up in the microwave to speed up the process. Also remember to use wooden or glass bowls to mix the vinegar+rice! That's all folks :)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Chicken Mushroom Alfredo Pasta

So Katie posted this into her profile, which was apparently hilarious:

[21:01] moochi: wat is accelerated Java
[21:01] pr0crastinxat0r: idk
[21:01] moochi: and BS seminar
[21:01] pr0crastinxat0r: BS seminar was BS
[21:01] pr0crastinxat0r: its like 1.5 hrs which is longer than my calc and physics
[21:01] pr0crastinxat0r: and they talk about stuff like
[21:01] pr0crastinxat0r: "what is a computer scientist"
[21:02] pr0crastinxat0r: "programmers are not nerds"
[21:02] pr0crastinxat0r: "google is cool"
[21:02] pr0crastinxat0r: i fell asleep for half an hour
[21:02] pr0crastinxat0r: until someone threw a sign in sheet at me
[21:03] moochi: my tummy hurts
[21:04] pr0crastinxat0r: ~_~""

I have so much free time it's ridiculous. Calculus and Physics on MWF from 2-4pm, meaning I have the whole morning free. I'm taking 14 units too! When I got back to my apartment all of my suitemates were there and we spent the rest of the afternoon lounging around, lying on the couch, Facebooking, and being extremely bored. I'm so bored that I actually proofread the notice from the custodians while I was in the bathroom. I'm so bored that I can't even write a coherent paragraph. Does that even make sense? Anyways. Chicken mushroom alfredo, or more like a condensed, cheesier version of our cream of mushroom. As usual, I leave out the chicken because 1. I don't have it 2. I can live without it. Come to think of it, today was the first time in days that I've eaten meat. I hadn't even noticed until someone pointed it out.

Chicken Mushroom Alfredo

  • 1 cooked chicken breast, sliced
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 2 tbs flour
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • sliced Italian mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup half n half
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • Italian seasoning, salt, white pepper, to taste
  • Pasta
Directions (if necessary)

  1. Begin cooking pasta
  2. Melt butter, sweat onion until translucent.
  3. Add flour for roux. (paste)
  4. Slowly add milk, then half n half and sour cream.
  5. Add seasonings to taste, then mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms soften, stirring constantly.
  6. Now add the cheese and chicken. As soon as the cheese melts it's ready.
  7. Your pasta should be done and drained at this point. Pasta in plate and spoon some alfredo over it. Pull some pasta out from underneath for a pretty presentation. Garnish and eat while it's hot!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cream of Mushroom

Long time no post! I decided to make some cream of mushroom this morning now that I've settled comfortably in my campus apartment. Warm, delicious, and mushroomy. Really, what could have been better? Yes, my new home-away-from-home is now in La Jolla/San Diego and I love my apartment! This week is zero week or welcome week and there have been campus dances and activities going on every hour of the day. It's been crazy and pretty fun. I think that I finally am getting excited for my classes! Last night the engineers gathered at the Warren Mall and grooved to the Beach Boys with glowsticks and free stuff. Awesome? I am waiting for the UnOlympic rally to begin in half an hour so I'm just killing time. Having a kitchen here is a kind of luxury-- I can't wait to try out the oven. (Just hope it works) Anyways, cream of mushroom! Here's how:

Cream of Mushroom (makes 2 servings)

  • 5 Italian mushrooms
  • 2/3 cup chicken broth, low sodium
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • salt + white pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp oregano + chives
  • 1/2 cup half n half
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 tbsp sour cream
  • diced chicken breasts


  1. In pot melt butter and add flour for roux. Then slowly add in the chicken broth so that the roux does not form clumps and wait for soup to come to a boil. Then add cream and half n half.
  2. Add the sour cream, stir.
  3. Salt and pepper to taste. Then the herbs, mushroom, and chicken. Wait a minute or two until done and serve. Garnish with parsley flakes. :)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Tiramisu, the Alternative Recipe

I made Tiramisu last time with raw eggs. It was light, very moussy, but I didn't like the yolky aftertaste. So I figured I'd try it another way-- the way Tiramisu is commonly made-- with heavy cream. I decided to consult sweary chef, Gordon Ramsay, who provided a general "quick" recipe (with no measurements) to which I followed. However, being the thrifty wannabe chef that I am, I wanted to stretch my Mascarpone money. Thus, I used twice the cream to the same amount of cheese.

And as a side note, strawberries were on sale everywhere yesterday! I thought they were already out of season, but I guess not? I happily bought two boxes of ripe strawberries, one of which was made into strawberry jam last night; the other, used to top my Tiramisu, as shown on the right :)

Tiramisu II:

  • 250 grams Mascarpone cheese (9 oz)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tsp Marsala wine or Brandy
  • 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup dark, strongly brewed coffee or expresso, chilled
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 6 tbsp confectioner's sugar
  • Ladyfingers/Savoiardi biscuits, crunchy
  • Bar of frozen, bittersweet chocolate
  • Cocoa powder

What to do:
  1. Have two bowls ready. In one bowl scrape out Mascarpone cheese from its container and set aside, to soften.
  2. In other bowl combine cream and confectioner's sugar together, whisk until thick but does not form peaks. (do not overwhip)
  3. In Mascarpone bowl, add vanilla extract and wine. Mix well.
  4. Then add the 1/2 cup of coffee, in thirds, incorporating slowly.
  5. Next fold the Mascarpone into the cream using a rubber spatula. Don't worry if mixture appears to be watery, it will set within minutes in the refrigerator .

  6. The 1/4 cup of coffee should be poured into a shallow bowl for dipping. Dip the Ladyfingers/biscuits very quickly in the coffee.
  7. Layer on the bottom, cream, layer, cream, chocolate shavings then cocoa powder. Refrigerate for > 20 minutes. Done.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Bor Lor Bao (Pineapple Buns)

I tried filling my buns with custard but failed-- thus I stayed faithful to the traditional po lo bao which don't have anything inside. They are exceptionally soft and tasty when fresh!

Not much personal commentary this time. I'll just feed you the recipe:

Pineapple Buns:

  • 3 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (equivalent to 1 packet)
  • 1/4 cup (olive) oil
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten (reserve 2 tbsp for egg wash)
  • 1 cup warm milk (110-115 degrees F)

Making the Buns:

  1. Warm the milk to 110 degrees F, then proof the yeast by pouring packet of yeast into warm milk ~ about 10 minutes until yeast becomes frothy.
  2. In large bowl combine flour and sugar. Add yeast/milk and mix.
  3. Add salt, oil, melted butter and eggs.
  4. For detailed instructions on how to knead, rise and proof dough, read
  5. *** While dough is completing its first rise, proceed to pineapple bun topping instructions ***
  6. For a medium pineapple bun, divide to 2 oz pieces and shape into a slightly flat sphere. Oil aluminum foil before placing dough.
  7. Remove topping dough from its bowl and pull apart a piece large enough to cover a bun. Then using enough all-purpose flour, flatten topping dough into round disk and place over proofing dough. Criss-cross the top with a sharp knife and egg wash the buns.
  8. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. After proofing dough for 30-40 minutes (starting from the time you punch the air out of your dough after its first rise) bake for 5 minutes in 375 degrees F heat. Then lower temperature to 350 and bake for an additional 5 minutes.

Pineapple Bun Topping

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp milk
  1. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.
  2. Add yolk, baking powder/soda, and milk. Mix well.
  3. Add flour, mix until incorporated.
  4. Wrap with plastic wrap and chill until needed.

Monday, September 7, 2009

An Mochi (Red Bean)

Mochi was one of the first things I ever learned to make. Not red bean mochi, but bing tang tong yuen-- rock sugar mochi-- in, literally, sweet water. There must be some english name for that(instead of mochi in sweet water) -- I just don't know it yet. That was made with a glutinous rice flour dough and a piece of rock sugar, boiled with yams. Red bean mochi by itself is a bit different. Since it's consumed dry, it must retain its moisture yet be able to be molded into a ball. Mochi "dough" is easy to make, but to make it hold its shape it must have enough glutinous rice flour. However the glutinous rice flour would make the mochi chewy and harden easily-- not tasty; so I tried another method.

I used enough water to make the mochi mixture syrup-like, steamed the mixture, then scraped pieces out to make the mochi with the red bean paste at the center. This is by far the best method I have found and the mochi will stay soft for days. I think that method is more important than following the recipe, but here's what you generally need:

  • 1 cup glutinous rice flour
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • ?? evaporated milk (can be substituted with water or canned coconut milk)
  • red bean paste
  • Potato/yam starch for dusting AND/OR dessicated coconut

some vague instructions:
  1. Combine rice flour and sugar. Add evaporated milk until mixture has a syrup-like consistency. (I don't know how much this is yet, will update this when I find out)
  2. Optional: Add food color.
  3. Pour into one or several pans about 0.5 cm thick and steam for about 4 minutes or until mochi becomes clear.
  4. After steaming, remove from steamer and let cool until able to handle. Then using a spoon, scoop out a piece of mochi, fill with red bean paste, and pinch/roll together.
  5. To finish, dust with yam starch or dessicated coconut
For Ichigo Daifuku (strawberry mochi), cover small strawberries with red bean paste and wrap with mochi.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Making Some Serious Dough

I made a very delicious, bakery-style sponge cake. (And I do mean those Chinese bakeries) and I promise to share it next time! Today however, I will show you how to make bread. Maybe I will update again with more pictures some other time, who knows.

There is an art to bread making-- it's not like quickbread (which is not real bread) or cake. If a cake is not done (especially sponge cake), you can't just stick it back into the oven and bake it again. As soon as you take it out the air in it escapes and the cake deflates. But bread is different. If the dough is still raw, just stick it back in for a few minutes. No harm done. That was what I learned today while baking bread.

Bread is alive. You can see the bread grow as it goes through its first rise. You don't have to do anything-- the yeast takes over. Yeast is very sensitive to heat so 15 degrees hotter will cut the rise time in half. So treat the dough nicely, or you'll be baking a brick.

Bread-making is a long process that takes at least 3 hours-- proofing the yeast, rising the dough, shaping the dough, proofing the dough, and finally baking it. Don't worry though, you don't have to sit there are stare down the dough while it's rising. Just cover it with a blanket and leave it alone. Mixing, kneading, and shaping will probably take half an hour, and that's about all you do.


Nonstick loaf pans or rectangular pan, big plastic tub or glass bowl, candy or regular cooking thermometer (important)


75-85 degree room temp.

Butter Roll Recipe

  • 1 c warm milk 70-80 degrees F
  • 1/2 c butter, softened
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 c bread flour (do not use all-purpose, your bread won't rise as much or last as long)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (equivalent to 1 packet)
How to make some dough

  1. Dissolve yeast in warm milk. Break apart any lumps that may form. Heat activates the yeast and makes it foamy. This is called proofing the yeast. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  2. Beat eggs and in large bowl combine beaten eggs, butter, and sugar. Do not add salt yet. Salt kills the yeast when it comes into direct contact with it. When the yeast has proofed for 10 minutes add the flour and yeast-milk. Mix until incorporated and add the salt. Knead until it forms a ball in the bowl. (~3 minutes)
  3. Lightly flour the work surface and transfer the dough onto it. Knead for 10 to 15 minutes (depending on how efficient you are) until dough is perfectly elastic. (I feel like we're talking about physics collision carts here...)
    Knead by holding one end of the dough with your left hand and using the palm of your hand to push the dough away from you. Then bring the dough back in, rotate and repeat.
    Stop kneading when your dough can stretch thin enough for light to shine through without breaking. Watch out: over-kneading makes bread too tough and under-kneading makes a brick-bread. When you are done kneading shape dough into perfectly round ball by pulling the sides down. Then lightly coat your ball with olive oil and place in bowl. Cover with wet towel and put your dough to sleep for approx. 45 minutes or until your dough has doubled in size. In a 90-100 degree room the dough will rise in half the time. In a cold room the dough will take longer to rise. If your room is cold, put bowl in oven with the oven light on. Keep your precious dough away from drafts.
    How to test if your dough has finished its first rise: poke your finger in it. If the imprint stays without bouncing back it's ready.
  4. After your dough has completed its first rise, turn the dough onto a very lightly floured surface and lightly punch the dough all around and pat it down. We are releasing the CO2 that has built built up inside and getting it ready for it's 2nd rise-- or proofing. (some people rise their dough 3 or 4 times but we're going to stop here...)
    For butter rolls- Divide dough into small pieces. If you want to ensure that every piece is equal, you can weigh the dough. Form small balls-- I do it in the air with two hands. You can do whatever you want. Arrange in pan with a 1" space between each ball.
    ** You can get creative and braid the dough-- or put them in muffin pans!
  5. Proof (2nd rise) for 30-40 minutes until dough has doubled in size. Don't let your buns dry up!
  6. Preheat oven 375 degrees F
  7. Crack an egg, half an egg, or even 1/4 of an egg mix in some water, beat, and baste the top of the bread with it. This is called an egg-wash.
  8. Depending on the size and thickness of your dough, baking will take anywhere from 20-45 minutes. You can tell if a bread is done by knocking on the top-- if you hear a hollow thump then it's done! You can always cut it open to be safe. If it's not yet there, pop it back into the oven and bake for a few more minutes.
    ** Helpful note: The top of the bread should look dark brown but not burnt before you take it out. It's probably not done if it's light brown.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Tiramisu, the Italian Way

Mhm, just plain tiramisu with chocolate shavings and cocoa powder. Pretty darn tasty. Made my own sponge ladyfingers a bit too thin/small so it might be lacking a bit of texture. I had a difficult time finding mascarpone cheese-- I tried Albertsons and Smart & Final but to no avail. I'm just glad I found some at Ralphs last night. For your dictionary:
mascarpone cheese-- soft mild Italian cream cheese
^ I licked some off the wrapper and it tasted like creamy barf. The texture is similar to Philadelphia but without the tart taste. Maybe next time I can substitute mascarpone with heavy whipping cream-- to cut down the cost. Not exactly the authentic Italian way though.

<- Feast your eyes! can you tell that the chocolate shavings were made using cheap chocolate? Yep, I used Hershey's milk choco. Here's the recipe: It's no-bake so it can't possibly go wrong-- not inedibly wrong at least :)

Classic Italian Tiramisu
(uses raw eggs)

  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 4 oz sugar, divided
  • 12 oz mascarpone cheese
  • 1 c strong coffee/expresso
  • 1/4 c rum
  • Ladyfingers or Savoiardi biscuits
  1. Beat yolks until frothy, slowly add half of the sugar. Keep beating until pale yellow in color.
  2. Beat in mascarpone until mixture is creamy and thick. Set aside.
  3. Beat egg whites until frothy, add remaining sugar. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form. May take a few minutes.
  4. Using a rubber spatula, fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the cream mixture. Then the rest of the egg whites. Don't stir too much or you'll knock all the air out of the whites.
    to fold- to gently combine one ingredient with another ingredient (as in folding dry ingredients into moist ingredients) by using two motions, cutting vertically through the mixture with a spoon or spatula and gently turning the ingredients over on top of each other, rotating the bowl 1/4 turn with each stroke. The term often is used in instructions relating to whipped cream and beaten egg whites.
  5. Time to start layering! Coffee in a bowl with rum. Dip ladyfingers or Savoiardi biscuits in coffee until soft but not mushy. Lay them out on the bottom of pan (use glass, aluminum, whatever) After you have set out a layer of ladyfingers at the bottom, spread half of the cream mixture evenly on top. Dip and arrange another layer of ladyfingers. Finish with the rest of the cream. Sift on cocoa powder and finish with chocolate shavings.
    To make chocolate shavings: make sure chocolate bar is cool/cold. Run a vegetable peeler along the side of the bar.
  6. Refrigerate for > 3 hours and enjoy!
You can also serve individual portions in a glass!

How-to on youtube:

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Preserving the Season's Best Fruits: Strawberry Jam

I dug through the fridge this morning to find a box of strawberries that I had completely forgotten about since my trip to Las Vegas. They were still edible though, but on the mushy side. I decided to turn the strawberries into jam. I am leaving to Canada tomorrow for a week so I am trying to clear out the fridge. I don't want them to turn into a moldy mess when I get back.

I don't have the exact measurements because I find that the amount of sugar varies depending on the sweetness of your fruit. The strawberries I had today were very sweet so I didn't have to put in too much sugar. This is what you will need:

  • 1 lb Strawberries
  • 1 1/2 cups Granulated Sugar
  • 2 tsp Lemon Juice
  • Water, as needed ~1/2 cup

Here's the basic method for making jam:

  1. Quarter the strawberries and macerate with sugar. (Say 1 pound of strawberries to 1 cup of granulated sugar) Add about 1 tbsp of lemon juice (per 1 pound) and leave it alone for at least an hour-- or overnight. This will soften the strawberries so they can break apart easily when boiled.
    - macerate: To soak fruit or other food in liquid in order to soften and flavor
  2. After at least an hour, you will find the strawberries soaking in a syrup. Optional: puree the strawberries for a less lumpy jam. Otherwise, turn strawberries and syrup into a saucepan and bring to a boil on med to med-high heat.
  3. Check 5 minutes later to see if strawberries have broken up. When strawberries have been boiled to mush, check flavor and add sugar as needed. Add some water if syrup is getting too thick and bring to a boil again. At this point the syrup should begin to thicken. If not, keep boiling until it is the right thickness. A helpful note: Jam will get thicker when it is cooled.

How much sugar to use: It really varies. Strawberry puree thickens very quickly when boiled so water (and less sugar) is needed. On the other hand, raspberries and blueberries are more sour so we need more sugar to balance that flavor out and thicken the jam. In some cases, pectin is needed to set the jam. By all means, experiment with the jam. Just add water when it is too thick, sugar to sweeten and thicken, and lastly pectin to set the jam if it is still too runny. & don't burn the jam!

Monday, August 10, 2009

4 Ways to Get the Party Started

#1: Magic Potion: In other words, fruit punch with dry ice. I threw a party at my house last night and the fruit punch had all eyes on it. The dry ice isn't just for show; it did well to keep the drink icy cold. I got it from Smart & Final for $1.09 per pound. You can do a lot with dry ice (like make sorbet) so it was definitely worth it. Since it goes directly from its solid state to gas, releasing carbon dioxide (sublimation) there is no mess to clean up. Just fun.

#2: Spinach and Artichoke: Runner-up is the spinach and artichoke dip. I made about three quarts of dip and it was all gone along with two pounds of chips by the end of the party! People loved it.

Here is approximately what you will need:

  • 1/2 c unsalted butter
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 1/2 white or yellow onion, diced
  • 2 c heavy cream
  • chicken broth as needed
  • 1 1/2 c spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 1 can of quartered artichoke hearts soaked in water
  • 5 oz Parmesan cheese (about one handful)
  • 4 slices of swiss cheese or some white cheddar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • hot sauce, optional
  1. In a medium-sized pot melt butter and sweat onion until translucent or clear.
  2. Add flour for roux. Stir for about 30 seconds.
  3. Add cream, stir for about 1 minute. If consistency is too thick, add chicken broth as needed. Continue to cook for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add salt and pepper to adjust the taste. Then the spinach and artichoke. Give it a good stir then add the lemon juice and optional hot sauce. Stir.
  5. Add about 5 oz of Parmesan and swiss/cheddar to taste. Stir until cheese is melted. Serve.
The spinach and artichoke dip is very easy to make and tastes the best when served warm. When it does get cold, just plastic wrap it and warm it up in the microwave.

#3 Salsa works well as a dip for chips as well as a filling for quesadilla! Will expand this section later, but for now... here are the ingredients:

  • 3 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 red or white onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp Cilantro, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 1/2 finely chopped jalepeno

For the quesadilla:

  • Mexican blend cheese OR Monterey Jack & Cheddar
  • Salsa
  • Sauteed mushrooms, sliced
  • Grilled chicken
  • Sour cream to dip
Fold and grill until crispy.
That's my version; you can put in anything you like!

#4 The Finale, setting dessert on fire.
perform at your own discretion

Need: rum (40% alcohol), pan to enclose the flames, dessert to set on fire.
Science is great.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Tea Time Blueberry Scones

I love blueberries. I love them in pastries, and I love them more when they're on sale. After I bought them, I soaked 1/2 a cup of blueberries in a sugar syrup and left it in the fridge. The next day, I used them for some quick blueberry scones over a cup of afternoon tea. When I took the scones out of the oven and broke it in half, I was in ecstasy. The dark purple juice from the berries oozed out of the scones and the aroma of blueberry filled the house. It was just so beautiful that I just had to share this recipe. It's easy too. If anything, scones are about as easy to make as cake from a box of cake mix. Here's how:

Total time: 30-35 minutes
Baking time: 15-17 minutes

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 c sugar (more or less depending on your taste)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, chilled
  • 1/2 c blueberries
  • 1/2 c sour cream
  • 1 large egg

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Mix together dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
2. Cut cold butter into small chunks and using your fingertips, work together the flour and butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. (about 1 minute)
3. In another bowl, lightly beat egg. Save about 1 tbsp of egg before mixing in sour cream.
4. Carefully pour in the wet mixture into the dry mixture. Watch the wetness of the dough. Dough should not be runny. Mix so that it is incorporated but do not over-mix.
5. Pour in the blueberries and just incorporate the berries throughout the dough.
6. Generously flour work surface and transport dough onto surface. Form dough into a circular shape, 1/2 inch thick. Cut into slices and transport to baking sheet. Now using the saved egg mixture and pastry brush, brush a layer of egg onto the surface of each slice. This will make the scones golden brown when baked.
7. Bake for 15-17 minutes and enjoy!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Frozen Treats of Summer

Oreo Ice Cream
Nothing like a sweet frozen treat to cool a hot day. One bite and it'll melt your worries away! Yes, I intend to work in the advertising department in the future. (not really)

Let's start with the ice cream. Ice cream is just a custard mixture churned and frozen in an ice cream machine. If you've never seen an ice cream machine, it's actually pretty... simple. I actually think I wasted my money buying, essentially, a motor that spins. Old fashioned ice cream machines have a motor at the top, and below an aluminum canister inside a plastic tub. The ice cream custard goes into the canister, which is inside a tub of ice and salt. The sodium chloride lowers the freezing point of the custard, allowing the milk to combine with the rest of the ingredients without turning icy. That's what I read at least. The churning process beats air into custard, turning it into fluffy ice cream. Mmmm, delicious!

Here is what makes 2 lbs of ice cream:

  • 1 ½ cups half n half
  • 1 cup light/heavy whipping cream
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 vanilla bean (or 1 tsp. vanilla extract)
+ pieces of Oreo cookies

Directions: In a saucepan, bring half n half, light or heavy whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla to a simmer. (don't let it boil!) Stir to make sure the sugar has dissolved.

Then in another bowl, lightly beat the yolks. When the hot cream mixture is ready, begin by pouring a very small amount into the yolks, mixing constantly. This process is called tempering and it is done to ensure that we do not scramble the eggs with the heat.

When you have gradually and slowly poured about half of the cream into the yolk mixture, turn the heat back on to a med-high and transfer the cream-yolk mixture into the saucepan again to make the custard. Remember to stir constantly as we do not want the custard to curdle up! Cooking the custard will take about 8 minutes. The custard is ready when you dip your spoon into the custard and are able to use your fingers to draw a line across. If you can't do that, then it is still too runny! Wait a little longer.

When the custard is done, transfer to a pitcher or bowl and use plastic wrap to cover the custard. The plastic wrap needs to touch the custard so that a layer does not form at the top when refridgerating. Refridgerate for at least 5 hours, or better yet, overnight.

The next day you will be able to transfer this custard into your ice cream maker. Follow the manufacturer's instructions and enjoy! Churning will take about 20-25 minutes. It is ready when it looks like soft-serve ice cream. When done, use a rubber spatula (this is a must) to transport to container. Freezer for at least 4 hours before eating and enjoy!

Strawberry Sorbet
This is a bit easier and equally as delicious. If you are going for a tart, fruity taste, you might want to try the strawberry sorbet instead. You can make a sorbet out of... just about anything! If you want to use raspberries, or even beer, feel free to experiment! Here's a list of ingredients:

  • 1 lb fresh strawberries, capped and halved
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 3-4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/3 c light corn syrup
  • 2 c cold water

In a glass bowl, combine strawberries with sugar and lemon juice. Mix well. This is called macerating and it is done to bring out the juices and sweetness of fruits. Leave the strawberries for at least half an hour, if not overnight. You will find yourself with a syrupy and juicy bowl of strawberries.

Then in a blender, puree strawberry syrup mixture with water and corn syrup. The corn syrup is essential when making sorbet, because it keeps the sorbet from turning into a solid, frozen brick in the freezer. So do not substitute or leave out! Then scoop puree into ice cream maker and churn away! Freeze overnight before serving.

Whichever tasty treat you decide to make, enjoy! You can always modify the recipes to fit your taste. Whether you like cherry ice cream, mango ice cream, or blueberry sorbet, make it to suit your tastes! Summer's always better sweet!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Pickled Cucumbers and Canon Speedlite

Pickled Cucumbers
My mom loves growing vegetables in the garden, so we'd often get baskets of cucumber and melons that we would never be able to finish in a week. So we pickle them. By pickling our cucumbers, we are able to preserve them for a little longer-- sometimes up to 4 weeks. Pickled cucumbers also make a tasty appetizer and afternoon treat. And it's easy too! Here's how we do it:

Rinse and slice the cucumbers. Leave the skin. The skin is great and it's perfectly edible. Then salt them for a few hours or overnight. Salting draws out the excess water in the cucumbers, leaving the cucumbers light and crunchy when we pickle them. For maximum crunchiness, try Persian cucumbers.

After at least an hour, wring the excess water from the cucumbers. Set them aside.

Next in a glass bowl or jar, combine equal parts vinegar and sugar. I use Heinz white vinegar. After a few minutes the sugar should dissolve. If not, just agitate the solution a little more. (Stir it) Note that you should not use aluminum bowls.

For a little kick, we add about 1 tablespoon of toasted sesame oil (heat it up in the pan until it starts smelling good) and a few fresh peppers from the yard.

Then soak the cucumbers in the solution for at least a day in the refrigerator and it's ready to eat! Don't leave them out for too long or they will turn yellow!

Canon 40D and Speedlite 580EX II
By the way, do you see that hideous SHADOW on the bananas? Know what? That can be corrected with the "bounce" feature in Canon Speedlites! I've been aching for one for the longest time. I read there was less recycle time between pictures. I hate waiting 30 seconds after every few shots with the built-in flash. But I'll probably get it AFTER I get a job, and AFTER I get a Canon 40D. Yes 40D, not the 50D. I'm not paying that much more for a few extra megapixels. But I guess I have to wait... Here are my dream babies: