I’ve been keeping a pet in the refrigerator these days..my sourdough starter. This starter was given to me by my mom, and it’s been alive and kicking for over 2 years now. The starter I made way back when, turned pink for Valentine’s Day, and hence that one was no more.
If there’s anything you can do to keep your baking self-sustaining, it is to grow make some sourdough starter. This method is great- I’ve used it twice with 100% success! I’m no sourdough starter expert; just a novice user who remembers to feed her starter once in a while.
I bought a grain mill last year and I love it! I buy wheat berries and mill turns them into flour for me. Anyway, as I started to bake with whole wheat flour, I realized that some whole wheat bread recipes, even good ones, got kind of crumbly, flaky, and fall apart-y if they weren’t eaten right away. It seemed like most recipes for 100% whole wheat flour require a decent amount of fat, sugar, or both, to help keep the bread soft. I googled and researched a bunch on the internet, read articles, and either from some articles or as a result of reading, got this theory..Whole wheat grains existed long ago, when there was no way to separate the germ and bran from the endosperm. Sourdough also existed way back when, before the invention of today’s baker’s yeast (which, by the way, only contains Saccharomyces cerevisiae, as opposed to sourdough, which contains many more organisms). Soo…maybe whole wheat grains and sourdough go together.
So began the experiments. After baking whole wheat bread with sourdough, I noticed that the bread stayed intact and held a great texture, even though I only used water, sourdough, flour, and salt. My theory is that it’s not only the freshly milled whole wheat, but also the long fermentation time, and in the little organisms in the sourdough starter. So, when I want to eat something biologically leavened, (in this case, leavening that is not baking powder or soda) and nutrient-dense, I bake whole wheat flour/water/sourdough/salt bread. When I want something biologically leavened that is more splurgey, like cinnamon rolls, I’ll use mostly white all purpose flour and commercial yeast. After all, I doubt most people eat those types of breads for nutrition 😉
I tried to think of all the recipes that I could convert to use sourdough instead, because there is always sourdough starter in my kitchen, but not always yeast. I stumbled across this great blog that I think everyone should read- called Bint Rhoda’s Kitchen! She grew up eating this bread (cooked on the stovetop), and she is into sourdough baking as well! :d
I’ve made this pita bread with 100% whole wheat flour (oven), as well as 100% spelt flour (stovetop), both with great success, so I encourage you to try both and see which you prefer. Me? Stovetop for convenience and lack of pre-heating the oven. But, it’s always nice to sit in front of the oven and watch the pitas grow and get pillowy.
If you’ve made pita bread with baker’s yeast, it’ll be easier to make this recipe. No matter, just make sure the dough is soft, but does not stick to your hands.
My first memories and experiences of making mochi were in my junior year of college, with my best friend Jeska. You see, Jeska has an unfortunately long list of foods that upset her stomach, including an essential ingredient of most Western desserts: eggs. This meant that most of the baked goods that I made were, well, anti-Jeska food..
Fortunately, she brought with her to our new apartment a handwritten recipe for making mochi from scratch, given to her by her mom (Thanks, Auntie!) Shortly after, we commenced on a mochi-making experiment. About an hour later, we were covered with cornstarch, ouch-ing from the hot mochi mixture, but very happy with the results. We now had chewy, Jeska-friendly dessert that we made all by ourselves.
Maybe it was the fear of the thought of wrestling that hot dough, or the influence of my husband’s aversion to having food-coated fingers….But sadly, I only made mochi a few times on my own after that, despite my love for all things chewy and QQ.
While perusing Taiwanese cooking shows on YouTube, I found a recipe for hakka-style mochi. We tend to think of mochi as having a filling (red bean paste comes to mind first), but this hakka style mochi is made by showering the mochi bits with coating; usually peanut or black sesame.
This may not have the red bean paste filling, but the peanut and black sesame are no-fuss and simple to prepare. A pair of chopsticks is highly recommended for this recipe, as it helps shape the mochi and keep your hands dough-free.
This was one of the first posts that appeared on my blog in 2010 (!) But now, with an updated picture and some better instructions. This is obviously a very flexible dish and you should use whatever ratios of meat:corn you like..Just don’t add too much soy sauce, because you don’t want brown looking corn. ENJOY!
This dish reminds me of elementary school. My childhood friend Ashley and I loved this dish, and would always be excited if one person or the other had it in their lunch. It was definitely considered a “good” lunch to get.
It’s a very simple dish, and I hope you will be as excited to eat it as we 7 year olds were! “Rou rou” was the kid-friendly way to say meat, which is just “rou,” and it’s hard to call this by the ‘grown up’ name, so say it with me- yu mi rou rou!
Hello, favorite windowsill of mine 😡
In the year 2000, my dad’s half sisters from Beijing came to our house to visit for a month. Not only did I learn that my 爺爺, like some Chinese who fled to Taiwan to escape Mao, had married a first wife before he met my 奶奶, but that he had two daughters from that previous marriage, whom my dad and our family had never met. Obviously, Chinese/family drama prevented us from meeting them or knowing about them up until that point.
So, my 大姑 二姑 (da gu, er gu) arrived, and after only a few days into their stay, my dad promptly brought home a 50 pound bag of flour from our local Costco (I miss the days of living 5 minutes away from Costco 🙁 ). Fear not; this was not gluttony at work, but rather, common sense. Northerners are famous for their “麵食“ or mian shi, or basically goodies made with or from flour- think dumplings, noodles, steamed buns, shao bing, etc etc., and my 大姑 and 二姑 were no exception. They, like many other Chinese, showed their love and care for us through the delicious food they made for us, carby and bready delights included. Even though their visit was 15 years ago, I remember many goodies they made us- pan fried steamed buns (sheng jian bao) with kabocha squash filling, individual sesame shao bing, chewy dough filled with sesame paste and ooey gooey brown sugar, zongzi galore, man tou, and Chinese pizza, as my mom and I (and sister, maybe?) fondly called it. Continue reading
If there’s one seasoning/herb I could never grow sick of, it’s garlic. I once was afraid that if I ate too much garlic, I’d get tired of it. After 27 years, I’m still going garlic-strong, so I don’t think my love for this stinky bulb will go away anytime soon. Fortunately, Mr. ABC Chef shares the same love for garlic…
Garlic chives, Chinese chives, or jiu cai 韭菜 are one of my favorite spring/summer time vegetables to eat, because to me it is basically like eating garlic in vegetable form… They are great in dumplings, wrapped in dough, or just cooked with eggs. What’s jiu cai hua, then（韭菜花）? It’s actually the bolted form / flowered form of the garlic chive. I have no idea why, but I guess when the jiu cai flowers, the stem also gets crunchy, so the texture is different than jiu cai! So cool, huh?! I thought they were originally two very very closely related plants because the textures were different, but after I got a fresh delivery of homegrown jiu cai from Ling (thanks Ling!!). What my dad said was about the flowering was confirmed when I saw some jiu cai hua poking out amidst the oodles of jiu cai!
Lv Dou Tang, mung bean soup, is a great healthy breakfast or light dessert. If you add rice (1/8 cup raw rice) and cook for a longer period of time, you’ll get lv dou xi fan, or mung bean porridge, my mom’s choice of accompaniment to cong you bing (scallion pancakes) or jiu cai he zi (chive boxes).
Hong dou tang (Red bean soup), its sister soup, is only served hot, and for hot days like today, it would probably just make you sweat more. Lv dou tang is best eaten cold, because it is great for helping you cool down. So, make some lv dou tang, chill it in the refrigerator or add some ice cubes, and drink up for a refreshing snack.
Quick fact: Lv or lü (綠), means green, as in the color, just like hong (紅) means red (for hong dou tang). A direct translation of lü dou tang as green bean soup would sound very unappealing to those who imagine string beans in soup. Sweet green bean soup? Yuck! Likewise, red bean soup that is sweet, also sounds pretty strange, if you think of red beans and rice when you hear the word red bean. 😀
Henceforth…mung bean and adzuki bean, their more dynamic and non-literal translations.
Take advantage of lv dou tang’s versatility, and make some now. The version I’ll show you is a very, very basic version. Feel free to add extra goodies like lotus seed (lian zi) or lily bud (bai he)- a few tablespoons of each should do it!
Pearled barley (left) and mung beans (right) make for a simple tasty soup
Lv / Lü Dou Tang
Mung Bean Soup
Makes 3-4 small servings Continue reading
Raise your hand if you like sushi or sticky rice. If you have a hand up, I can bet that you’d love fan tuan* (飯糰）. Eh? What’s that?
Fan tuan is a breakfast food that is at its simplest, constructed of large air-pocketed deep fried dough (you tiao) and fluffy fried pork bits (less appetizingly named pork floss or pork sung) that are wrapped up in a big bundle of sticky rice. Those are the mere basics, and often times it will also include salted radishes and pickled mustard greens, or whatever the chef deems as additional savory toppings. Fan tuan is most commonly savory, especially the ones I had in Taiwan, though my mom would always tell me that it also came in a sweet version: sticky rice, you tiao, crushed peanuts, and sugar.
I am a sucker for sticky rice in all its forms: nian gao, tang yuan, yuan zi, etc etc, so it is no surprise that I love fan tuan, which involves a good deal of sticky rice.
I have fond memories of fan tuan in Taiwan- my first visit to Taiwan in 2005 was a high school graduation gift from my grandma. We were walking by a park, and there was a vendor hanging out there. I ordered a fan tuan and tea for breakfast (that had me stuffed for several hours afterwards!)
Not fan tuan that I made, but a Taiwan-made fan tuan from my 2011 trip
Hello everyone! Sorry for the delay in posting; life has been getting in the way of me sitting down to write posts. I actually have hefty backlog of posts to work on….
This week has been pretty packed, with Mr. ABC Chef (my husband, Tim) coming back from PyCon in Montreal, celebrating his birthday with two birthday dinners (one where I made Korean food for him and 4 of his buddies!), and going to Hopkins Alumni weekend, which was mostly an excuse to hang out with my best friend 🙂
The best friend and I ate out every meal, except Sunday breakfast, which we made together- dou jiang and fan tuan, which are staples of Taiwanese breakfast. Stay tuned for a fan tuan (deep fried dough aka you tiao, dried pork, and salted and slightly sweet radish bits- all wrapped up in sticky rice, almost like a sushi roll!) recipe to come.
Then on the way home, Megabus was delayed a whole hour, so I spent over an hour in line, doing nothing but trying to get the intermittent WiFi to idly browse Instagram and Facebook, while fighting the cold breeze.
Anyway, now we are back to our regular schedule!
I would regularly ask, “媽媽(mama), how do you make this?” when we just ate something really tasty at a restaurant. Or, my mom would shake her head and discreetly mutter to my sister and me that the restaurant was taking shortcuts because x and y dish should not be made this way, but that way instead.
媽媽 always said that the Chinese “salt and pepper”seasoning should just be toasted salt, and Sichuan peppercorns, ground up. Nothing else. When we got salt and pepper pork chops (because they were always the least expensive and you would get more than if you ordered squid or shrimp), I would look forward to the deep fried pork pieces that were laced with this addicting seasoning, and when the meat was gone, I would use my chopsticks skills to hunt for abandoned pieces of scallions and jalapenos, and mix it with the restaurant white rice in my bowl. I wondered why no one else would eat these pieces of salty goodness that were left behind, but was also glad that my sister and I had these morsels all to ourselves.
I’ve been wanting to post a recipe for salt and pepper shrimp that would do justice to its name. When you make the salt and peppercorn powder, prepare to be blown away by the mysteriously addicting aroma that is created by the marriage of two simple spices!
If you like nuts, this post is for you. If you like candy is that is just sweet enough to be dessert, but not so sweet that it makes your teeth hurt, this is also for you!
Meet peanut candy, Taiwan’s brilliantly concocted combination of peanuts and sugar! It tastes like peanuts with a unique sweetness and crunch, and is highly addicting..
The only special ingredient you’ll need is maltose, which is a very gooey liquid that you will have to wrestle out of the jar. My preferred method is to use a chopstick (or knife?) and dig into the maltose. Then, twirl the chopstick around and around until you have the right amount. The colder your measuring cup, the less likely the maltose is to get all gooey in it. Another option is to spray the measuring cup lightly with oil first.
|Find maltose in the section of the Asian grocery store where they sell types of sugar: I found this near the palm sugar, I think|
Peanut candy is so delicious on its own, but it’s even tastier in hua sheng juan bing qi lin (花生卷冰淇淋）, which is an ice cream burrito, if you will- a thin flour-based wrapped, stuffed with Taiwan-style ice cream (more similar to sorbet), shavings of this peanut candy, and cilantro (!? It’s really good! Trust me.)
My goal is to someday make this hua sheng juan bing qi lin, but the first step is to make a great peanut candy, which I feel I have done!
As with any recipe, but especially those involving caramelizing sugar(s）, please read the entire recipe all the way so that you can have your mise en place.
Tomorrow is the Lantern Festival, which is called Yuan Xiao Jie (元宵節）in Chinese. I don’t know much about it, other than the fact that it tang yuan is traditionally eaten at this time. Hooray for an excuse to eat tang yuan!
So, tell me more about tang yuan, you say. Remember yuan zi? Tang yuan are basically filled yuan zi. I think there are actually savory fillings and sweet fillings, but my only experience is with sweet, so that’s what I’ll be featuring today. A common filling that is also my favorite is black sesame paste, and other popular fillings include peanut and red bean paste