Sunday, February 28, 2010

100th Post: Daring Bakers' Lemon Tiramisu

Before i go onto my Daring Bakers' challenge, I thought I'd let you know... that this is my 100th blog post!!! Wooohoo! For a blog sprung out of pure boredom and procrastination, I'm very VERY surprised that I made it this this far. Thank-you everyone for all the lovely comments, emails, and encouragements left along the way. I wish i had something cool like a recipe round-up or a 100th post giveaway to reciprocate but unfortunately with all the exams recently, a big huge THANK-YOU and an big tight e-HUG is all i can give for now. I promise I'll make it up on my 200th post ;)

The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of
My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.

Ever since I saw one my friends' MSN status change to "best Lemon Tiramisu ever!" last November, I knew I HAD to make it myself. I was so excited that I went to the grocery store the next day and bought myself a bottle of vodka and a bag of lemons-- yes, i was going make my own Limoncello! Limoncello takes about 3 months to make so counting from November-->December--> January, February was going to be my Tiramisu due-date. Imagine my surprise when the Daring Bakers' announced their challenge, it was like a sign from God-- I was born to do this! Aparna and Deeba made it mandatory to make our own Mascarpone cheese + Ladyfingers and I was more than happy to oblige. Both were very easy to make and, like most of the DB recipes, turned out better than the ones store-bought. The fact that EVERYTHING in this recipe is homemade makes it taste better than the other Tiramisus I made before. Thank-you, Aparna and Deeba, for hosting and sharing this wonderful challenge with us!

I've included the original Daring Bakers' recipe below but here are the changes I made for Lemon Tiramisu:
  • For the Zabaglione (egg custard): replace Marsala wine with Limoncello.
  • For the Pastry Cream: add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to the finished pastry cream, then heat it some more.
  • For the Tiramisu: Dip the ladyfingers in 1 cup of Limoncello + 1 tablespoon of lemon juice (instead of the esspresso, rum, and sugar). Assemble the Tiramisu and sprinkle the top with graham cracker crumbs (or with almonds, lemon zest, chocolate, coconut...etc. It's up to you!).
Homemade Mascarpone Cheese
(Source: Vera’s Recipe for Homemade Mascarpone Cheese)
This recipe makes 12oz/ 340gm of mascarpone cheese
  • 474ml (approx. 500ml)/ 2 cups whipping cream (between 25% to 36% cream will do)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  1. Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a wide skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low so the water is barely simmering. Pour the cream into a medium heat-resistant bowl, then place the bowl into the skillet. Heat the cream, stirring often, to 190 F (90 C) [picture 1]. If you do not have a thermometer, wait until small bubbles keep trying to push up to the surface.
  2. It will take about 15 minutes of delicate heating. Add the lemon juice and continue heating the mixture, stirring gently, until the cream curdles [picture 2]. All that the whipping cream will do is become thicker, like a well-done crème anglaise. It will cover a back of your wooden spoon thickly [picture 3]. You will see just a few clear whey streaks when you stir. Remove the bowl from the water and let cool for about 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, line a sieve with four layers of dampened cheesecloth and set it over a bowl [picture 4]. Transfer the mixture into the lined sieve [picture 5]. Do not squeeze the cheese in the cheesecloth or press on its surface (be patient, it will firm up after refrigeration time). Once cooled completely, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (in the sieve) overnight or up to 24 hours.
  4. Vera’s notes: The first time I made mascarpone I had all doubts if it’d been cooked enough, because of its custard-like texture. Have no fear, it will firm up beautifully in the fridge, and will yet remain lusciously creamy [picture 6].
  5. Keep refrigerated and use within 3 to 4 days.
Ladyfingers / Savoidari Biscuits
(Source: Recipe from Cordon Bleu At Home)
This recipe makes approximately 24 big ladyfingers or 45 small (2 1/2" to 3" long) ladyfingers.
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 6 tablespoons /75gms granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup/95gms cake flour, sifted
    (or 3/4 cup all purpose flour + 2 tbsp corn starch)
  • 6 tablespoons /50gms confectioner's sugar
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F (175 C) degrees, then lightly brush 2 baking sheets with oil or softened butter and line with parchment paper.
  2. Beat the egg whites using a hand held electric mixer until stiff peaks form [picture 1]. Gradually add granulate sugar and continue beating until the egg whites become stiff again, glossy and smooth.
  3. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks lightly with a fork and fold them into the meringue, using a wooden spoon [picture 2]. Sift the flour over this mixture and fold gently until just mixed [picture 3]. It is important to fold very gently and not overdo the folding [picture 4]. Otherwise the batter would deflate and lose volume resulting in ladyfingers which are flat and not spongy.
  4. Fit a pastry bag with a plain tip (or just snip the end off; you could also use a Ziploc bag) and fill with the batter. Pipe the batter into 5" long and 3/4" wide strips leaving about 1" space in between the strips. Sprinkle half the confectioner's sugar over the ladyfingers and wait for 5 minutes. The sugar will pearl or look wet and glisten. Now sprinkle the remaining sugar [picture 5]. This helps to give the ladyfingers their characteristic crispness.
  5. Hold the parchment paper in place with your thumb and lift one side of the baking sheet and gently tap it on the work surface to remove excess sprinkled sugar.
  6. Bake the ladyfingers for 10 minutes, then rotate the sheets and bake for another 5 minutes or so until the puff up, turn lightly golden brown and are still soft [picture 6].
  7. Allow them to cool slightly on the sheets for about 5 minutes and then remove the ladyfingers from the baking sheet with a metal spatula while still hot, and cool on a rack.
  8. Store them in an airtight container till required. They should keep for 2 to 3 weeks.
(Recipe source: Carminantonio's Tiramisu from The Washington Post, July 11 2007 )
This recipe makes 6 servings
  • For the zabaglione:
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons sugar/50gms
  • 1/4 cup/60ml Marsala wine (or port or coffee)
  • 1/4 teaspoon/ 1.25ml vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

  • For the pastry cream:
  • 1/4 cup/55gms sugar
  • 1 tablespoon/8gms all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3/4 cup/175ml whole milk

  • For the whipped cream:
  • 1 cup/235ml chilled heavy cream (we used 25%)
  • 1/4 cup/55gms sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract

  • To assemble the Tiramisu:
  • 2 cups/470ml brewed espresso, warmed
  • 1 teaspoon/5ml rum extract (optional)
  • 1/2 cup/110gms sugar
  • 1/3 cup/75gms mascarpone cheese
  • 36 savoiardi/ ladyfinger biscuits (you may use less)
  • 2 tablespoons/30gms unsweetened cocoa powder
For the zabaglione:
  1. Heat water in a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler, place a pot with about an inch of water in it on the stove. Place a heat-proof bowl in the pot making sure the bottom does not touch the water.
  2. In a large mixing bowl (or stainless steel mixing bowl), mix together the egg yolks, sugar, the Marsala (or espresso/ coffee), vanilla extract and lemon zest. Whisk together until the yolks are fully blended and the mixture looks smooth.
  3. Transfer the mixture to the top of a double boiler or place your bowl over the pan/ pot with simmering water. Cook the egg mixture over low heat, stirring constantly, for about 8 minutes or until it resembles thick custard. It may bubble a bit as it reaches that consistency.
  4. Let cool to room temperature and transfer the zabaglione to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.
For the pastry cream:
  1. Mix together the sugar, flour, lemon zest and vanilla extract in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. To this add the egg yolk and half the milk. Whisk until smooth.
  2. Now place the saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly to prevent the mixture from curdling.
  3. Add the remaining milk a little at a time, still stirring constantly. After about 12 minutes the mixture will be thick, free of lumps and beginning to bubble. (If you have a few lumps, don’t worry. You can push the cream through a fine-mesh strainer.)
  4. Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl and cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic film and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.
For the whipped cream:
  1. Combine the cream, sugar and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric hand mixer or immersion blender until the mixture holds stiff peaks. Set aside.
To assemble the tiramisu:
  1. Have ready a rectangular serving dish (about 8" by 8" should do) or one of your choice.
  2. Mix together the warm espresso, rum extract and sugar in a shallow dish, whisking to mix well. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the mascarpone cheese with a spoon to break down the lumps and make it smooth. This will make it easier to fold. Add the prepared and chilled zabaglione and pastry cream, blending until just combined [picture 1]. Gently fold in the whipped cream [picture 2]. Set this cream mixture aside.
  4. Working quickly, dip 12 of the ladyfingers in the sweetened espresso, about 1 second per side [picture 3]. They should be moist but not soggy.
  5. Immediately transfer each ladyfinger to the platter, placing them side by side in a single row [picture 4]. You may break a lady finger into two, if necessary, to ensure the base of your dish is completely covered.
  6. Spoon one-third of the cream mixture on top of the ladyfingers, then use a rubber spatula or spreading knife to cover the top evenly, all the way to the edges [picture 5].
  7. Repeat to create 2 more layers, using 12 ladyfingers and the cream mixture for each layer. Clean any spilled cream mixture; cover carefully with plastic wrap and refrigerate the tiramisu overnight.
  8. To serve, carefully remove the plastic wrap and sprinkle the tiramisu with cocoa powder using a fine-mesh strainer or decorate as you please [picture 6]. Cut into individual portions and serve.
Lemon Tiramisu

Monday, February 22, 2010

Feta, Ham, and Spring Onion Muffins

I don't know if you've noticed, but this blog has been lacking some sweet/dessert updates for a while now. I only realized this a few days ago when i had a sudden craving for chocolate (yes, it's the time of the month). Then i remembered the last time i baked something sweet was 3 weeks ago, when i tried to make cupcakes and ended up with a tub of majorly FAILED buttercream frosting. So for an entire week, i had to finish eating 18 ugly cupcakes (with the buttercream scraped off) all by myself. And even though Martha Stewart's one bowl chocolate cupcake is heavenly delicious, after day two, eating them felt more like a chore than a treat. So you can say that ever since then, I started making more savory stuff like flapjacks for snacks and actual dinner meals. In a way, it's more economical for me to make real food since they can serve both as a blog update and a good source of daily nutrition. I guess this is how my blog copes with tight budgets-- make more filling meals and give up self indulgent desserts!

Here's a recipe for one of the snacks that I made a few weeks ago: Muffins with Feta cheese, ham, and spring onions. I made the mistake of baking them in muffin cups (didn't want to get my pan too dirty) cuz they were impossible to peel off! And the paper liners probably interfered with the baking process as they were still a little moist on the inside (or that could just be the extra liquid from the cheese and spring onions). JLo and I still enjoyed them though, we ate 10 muffins in one sitting and called it a meal... leaving 2 for me to take to class the next day. So BOO for overly moist muffins, but YAY for budget success!

Feta, Ham, and Spring Onion Muffins
derived from
makes 12 muffins
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup spring onions, choppped
  • 1/2 cup sliced ham, chopped
  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt [picture 1].
  2. In another bowl, combine the eggs, milk and butter [picture 2]; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened [picture 3].
  3. Fold in the feta cheese, ham, and chives [picture 4, 5].
  4. Fill each greased muffin pan with batter, two-thirds full [picture 6].
  5. Bake at 200°C (400°F) for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
  6. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. Serve warm. Refrigerate leftovers.

Feta, Ham, and Spring Onion Muffins

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Daring Cooks' Mezze Table (Pita, Hummus, Falafels)

The 2010 February Daring COOKs challenge was hosted by Michele of Veggie Num Nums. Michele chose to challenge everyone to make mezze based on various recipes from Claudia Roden, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Dugid.

I'm gonna make this a super quick update since I seem to have forgotten that not only is today valentines day and CNY, it's also the posting date! So here I am writing a super last minute iPhone (not mine, btw) update... in Prague! Yep, we made a weekend trip here after my horrific pediatrics final on Saturday. Enjoyed some good food and company then we'll be heading home tomorrow :(

So this months challenge was to make our own mezze table. Mezze is a Middle Eastern style of eating consisting of multiple small dishes. I was kind of worried at first since it looked like a challenge that would take at least 2 days to prepare, but even with finals lurking around the corner I managed to squeeze in a day (a whole day) to complete it. My favorite plate was the Pita bread. WOW, they came out better than the ones store-bought! I followed the recipe to the "T" (even with the 100 stirs) and they puffed up beaaauuutifully in exactly 3 minutes on the highest rack of my oven. All of them could be cut in half and used as pita pockets. I later stuffed mine with some veggies, falafels, topped with cucumber raita, it was DELICIOUS. I LOVE YOU, Michele, for sharing such a great recipe with us. This is definitely going in my recipe box. And i love the fact that they can be baked in 3 minutes! It makes up for the long dough-rising time which i always hate to wait on :) Ok, I'm falling asleep and this tiny screen is starting to hurt my eyes. Hope everyone had a lovely valentines and cny!

Mezze Table

Pita Bread
Recipe adapted from Flatbreads & Flavors by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid
Prep time: 20 minutes to make, 90 minutes to rise and about 45 minutes to cook
  • 2 teaspoons regular dry yeast
  • 2.5 cups lukewarm water
  • 5-6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  1. In a large bread bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water. Stir to dissolve [picture 1]. Stir in 3 cups flour, a cup at a time, and then stir 100 times, about 1 minute, in the same direction to activate the gluten. Let this sponge rest for at least 10 minutes, or as long as 2 hours [picture 2, 3].
  2. Sprinkle the salt over the sponge and stir in the olive oil. Mix well. Add more flour, a cup at a time, until the dough is too stiff to stir [picture 4]. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 to 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic [picture 5]. Rinse out the bowl, dry, and lightly oil. Return the dough to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until at least doubled in size, approximately 1 1/2 hours [picture 6].
  3. Place a pizza stone, or two small baking sheets, on the bottom rack of your oven, leaving a 1-inch gap all around between the stone or sheets and the oven walls to allow heat to circulate. Preheat the oven to 450F (230C).
  4. Gently punch down the dough. Divide the dough in half, and then set half aside, covered, while you work with the rest. Divide the other half into 8 equal pieces and flatten each piece with lightly floured hands [picture 7]. Roll out each piece to a circle 8 to 9 inches in diameter and less than 1/4 inch thick [picture 8]. Keep the rolled-out breads covered until ready to bake, but do not stack.
  5. Place 2 breads, or more if your oven is large enough, on the stone or baking sheets, and bake for 2 to 3 minutes, or until each bread has gone into a full balloon [picture 9]. If for some reason your bread doesn't puff up, don't worry it should still taste delicious. Wrap the baked breads together in a large kitchen towel to keep them warm and soft while you bake the remaining rolled-out breads. Then repeat with the rest of the dough.
Pita Bread

Recipe adapted from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden
Prep Time: Hummus can be made in about 15 minutes once the beans are cooked. If you’re using dried beans you need to soak them overnight and then cook them the next day which takes about 90 minutes.
  • 1.5 cups dried chickpeas, soaked in cold water overnight (or substitute well drained canned chickpeas and omit the cooking)
  • 2-2.5 lemons, juiced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • a big pinch of salt
  • 4 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste) OR use peanut butter or any other nut butter—feel free to experiment)
  • Additional flavorings (optional) I would use about 1/3 cup or a few ounces to start, and add more to taste
  1. Drain and boil the soaked chickpeas in fresh water for about 1 ½ hours, or until tender [picture 1]. Drain, but reserve the cooking liquid.
  2. Puree the beans in a food processor (or you can use a potato masher) adding the cooking water as needed until you have a smooth paste [picture 2, 3].
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well [picture 4]. Adjust the seasonings to taste.
Cucumber Raita
Recipe adapted from The Indian Grocery Store Demystified by Linda Bladholm
Prep time: Approximately 15 minutes
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled and most of the seeds removed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds OR use a small pinch of dried cumin—to taste
  • 2 cups plain Greek yogurt (473ml)
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
  • fresh coriander or mint, chopped, a couple pinches or more to taste
  • Cayenne pepper or paprika, just a pinch to use as a garnish (optional)
  1. Peel cucumber, de-seed, and dice. Blot off moisture with paper towels.
  2. Toast cumin seeds for a few seconds in a small, heavy frying pan over high heat.
  3. In a bowl, stir yogurt until it is smooth.
  4. Mix it with the cumin, garlic and coriander or mint leaves (I used some grated radish instead).
  5. Stir in the cucumber and sprinkle with cayenne or paprika, and chill before serving.
Cucumber Raita

Recipe from Joan Nathan and
Prep Time: Overnight for dry beans and 1 hour to make Falafels
  • 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked in cold water overnight OR use well canned drained chickpeas
  • 1/2 large onion (roughly chopped, about 1 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped OR use a couple pinches of dried parsley
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped OR use a couple pinches of dried cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried hot red peppers (cayenne)
  • 4 whole garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour (you may need a bit extra)
  • Tasteless oil for frying (vegetable, canola, peanut, soybean, etc.), you will need enough so that the oil is three inches deep in whatever pan you are using for frying
  1. Put the chickpeas in a large bowl and add enough cold water to cover them by at least 2 inches. Let soak overnight, and then drain. Or use canned chickpeas, drained.
  2. Place the drained, uncooked chickpeas and the onions in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the parsley, cilantro, salt, hot pepper, garlic, and cumin. Process until blended but not pureed. If you don’t have a food processor, then feel free to mash this up as smooth as possible by hand [picture 1].
  3. Sprinkle in the baking powder and 4 tablespoons of the flour, and pulse [picture 2]. You want to add enough bulgur or flour so that the dough forms a small ball and no longer sticks to your hands. Turn into a bowl and refrigerate, covered, for several hours.
  4. Form the chickpea mixture into balls about the size of walnuts.
  5. Heat 3 inches of oil to 375 degrees (190C) in a deep pot or wok and fry 1 ball to test. If it falls apart, add a little flour. Then fry about 6 balls at once for a few minutes on each side, or until golden brown [picture 3].
  6. Drain on paper towels [picture 4].

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Ants Climbing a Tree (螞蟻上樹)

Wow, i can't believe we're already on to the Tiger year! Sheesh, time sure does fly... To me, this only means that i'll be leaping onto my 3rd round of Rabbit year very very soon (24 years old: that's when my mom gave birth to my brother, eeek!). So anyways, it's been 5 years since I've properly spent my CNY. By properly, i mean: visiting the whole family tree, screaming baby cousins, hot pots, new year snacks, fireworks, and of course, Hong Baos (red envolopes). And even with a short description of my own CNY experience, i'm sure you can probably figure what a big deal CNY is for us. It's the equivalent of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New years added together. We've got tons of food like Thanksgiving, family reunions and gifts [aka money] like Christmas, and countdowns + fireworks like New years. It's an all-in-one celebration, really-- appropriately reflecting the cheapo, 怕麻煩 (hassle-phobic), yet generous Asian spirit, hahaha. Oh, how i miss it!

So this brings me to today's recipe: Ants Climbing a Tree. In simple food terms, it's cellophane noodles cooked with ground pork. People thought the tangled meat between the noddles looked like ants on a tree bark, so that's how it got its fancy name. This recipe is so easy that, seriously, nothing can go wrong. All you need is a jar of black bean sauce and you've got yourself an instant magic-maker. So for those who still haven't set up a Chinese New Year menu yet, i'm sure this will make a lovely addition to your dinner table. Xin Nian Kuai Le!

Ants Climbing a Tree (螞蟻上樹)
4 servings
  • 150 grams dried cellophane noodles (aka bean thread noodles, glass noodles, crystal noodles, Chinese vermicelli) (4 portions)
  • 400 grams ground pork
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons ginger, minced
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • Red chilis, minced (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese black bean sauce (豆辦醬)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 4 tablespoons spring onions, chopped
  1. Soak the cellophane noodles in warm water until soft, about 10 minutes. Cut the noodles in half or quarters with a pair of scissors for shorter length [picture 1]. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat the sesame oil in a wok over high heat, then add the ground pork and stir-fry until it has changed color and nearly cooked.
  3. Add in the ginger, garlic, red chilis (optional), and black bean sauce [picture 2]. Stir-fry for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the water, soy sauce, and sugar. Cook until it comes to a boil [picture 3].
  5. Once the sauce is boiling, add in the noodles and turn down the heat to low [picture 4]. Continue to stir-fry until all the liquid has been absorbed by the noodles. The noodles should look thick, clear, and glossy.
  6. Add in the spring onions and 2 teaspoons of sesame oil and give it a good toss.
  7. Garnish with more spring onions right before serving.

Ants Climbing a Tree (螞蟻上樹)

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Chinese Chive Box (韭菜盒子)

Here's a recipe for something i made this summer: Chinese chive boxes (韭菜盒子). Chinese chive boxes are considered to be one of the many classic street foods that we have in Taiwan. Although classic, it has been increasingly hard to find chive box-stands around the city nowadays-- most of the stalls have been replaced with more Western and Japanese dishes designed to appeal to the younger public. In recent years, I've found myself having a hard time finding something to eat at night markets even when surrounded by hundreds of options. And after walking through all the lanes, i usually end up with other classics such as: stinky tofu, oyster vermicelli, or a mung bean douhua (tofu pudding). Sigh, I guess it's a sign of aging when you start developing routines and sticking to specific foods. Bright lights and flashy creations just don't catch my attention anymore-- I head straight towards the tried-and-true oldies that never disappoint. So with diminishing Chive box-stands around Taiwan (Kaohsiung and Taichung specifically), I thought it was time to make my own.

I know a lot of people don't really like the strong taste and smell of Chinese chives, especially when they're such powerful fly attractants. Have you ever noticed that? No matter how tight i thought my windows are sealed, when i'm chopping Chinese chives in the house, there's always that one fly that manages to get in and pest around. So if you're one of those people who can't stand chives, it's best to just admire the pictures and never come back to this page. If you're fine with them though, be sure to try this out sometime, you won't regret it!

Chinese Chive Boxes
  • 2 portions Cellophane noodles (70 grams)
  • 300g Chinese garlic chives (i cut off the beady heads for these, but its optional)
  • 280g ground pork
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons dried (tiny) shrimp
  • 3 grams salt [or to taste]
  • 3 grams chicken powder [or to taste]
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper [or to taste]
  • 2-3 tablespoons light sesame oil (香油)

  • DOUGH:
    [I used 3 cups flour and had quite a lot of dough left over. Just keep in mind that the golden ratio for the dough is 3 flour : 1 hot water : 0.5 cold water; adjust the the ingredients accordingly!]
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  1. Boil the cellophane noodles until they become soft and transparent. Strain and chop the noodles into small strands (1 centimemter in length). Set aside [picture 1].
  2. Wash and chop the chives into 0.5 centimemter peices. Set aside [picture 2].
  3. In a frying pan, cook the ground pork until done. Set aside [picture 3].
  4. Mix the 2 eggs together and fry until done. Then chop the eggs into small pieces. Set aside[picture 4].
  5. Set the stove on medium low heat and quickly saute the shrimp in light sesame oil (30 seconds) .
  6. Add in the chives, cellophane noodles, ground pork, and eggs [picture 5, 6, 7].
  7. Season with salt, chicken powder, sugar, black pepper (to taste). Your filling is now ready. Set it aside while you make the dough [picture 8].

  8. In a big mixing bowl, measure out 3 cups of flour (or less. keep in mind the 3:1:0.5 ratio!).
  9. Pour in 1 cup of hot water and using chopsticks/spatula, quickly mix the water and dough together until it forms clumps [picture 1].
  10. If the dough is too hot to work with, let it cool for a while.
  11. Start kneading the dough, slowly adding cold water to it until it forms a smooth ball (you may not use up the 1/2 cup of cold water).
  12. Cut the dough into pieces weighing 40 grams each.
  13. Roll the dough out into a circle. Spoon the prepared filling onto the dough [picture 2].
  14. Fold the dough in half, cutting off the uneven edges with the sides of a bowl [picture 3]. Pleat to seal the edges [picture 4, 5].
  15. Heat a non-stick saute pan over medium heat. Brush with olive oil once hot.
  16. Add in the chive boxes and pan fry about 2-3 minutes per side until it's nice and golden[picture 6].
  17. LOW-FAT Chive Boxes (what i did)= place the chive boxes directly onto a heated non-stick pan WITHOUT any oil. Heat on both sides until the crust is crisp and golden(pictured below).
Chinese Chive Boxes

Friday, February 05, 2010

Chinese Steamed Meat Buns (鮮肉包子)

As I've mentioned before, i was quite the busy bee this summer in Taiwan. With the unbearable heat in Kaohsiung, I mostly stayed indoors and only went out at night. Other than staying home hiding from the deadly UV rays, my only activity during the day was to push my bread machine to its limit and making enough buns to feed my family for weeks. The only time i took a break was when our freezer ran out of space to store them... but recess only lasted for about 2 days and then it was back to the bun-making cycle all over again. So as my summer came to an end, my mom started to get anxious about the fact that our one-man bun factory was about close down. So as you can imagine, I had to work extra shifts during my last week in Taiwan... And if i was actually getting paid for the hours i put into the buns, i think i could actually make a decent living out of it! Ok, just kidding... more like 2 Macdonald's happy meals per day (damn Asia with its cheap labor and meager minimum wage!).

So here's the recipe that i use for basic steamed buns (it's the same one i used for the Gua Baos 割包). You can make regular Mantous out of these or stuff them with any filling you'd like-- sweet or savory. I haven't got the time to try out any sweet bun recipes yet, but when i do, there'll be red bean buns updates for sure. Enjoy!

Chinese Steamed Meat Buns (鮮肉包子)
  • 600 grams ground pork
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • 1.5 teaspoons sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules
  • 1.5 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1.5 cups spring onions, chopped
    This recipe yields more than enough meat filling for the dough recipe below (leftovers depend on how much meat you put in each bun). You can either make another batch of dough with the leftover meat or freeze them until next time!

  • DOUGH:
  • 1 cup water
  • 40 grams (6 tablespoons) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 500 grams high-gluten flour
  • 1 tablespoon powdered milk
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2.5 teaspoons active dry yeast
  1. For the Filling: Place all Filling ingredients into a big mixing bowl and using your hands, mix until everything is combined. Cover and refrigerate until the buns are ready [picture 1, 2].

  2. For Bread Machine: place all dough ingredients in the listed order into your bread machine [picture 3, 4]. Set the mode to "Knead and Rise" (this took around 1 hour and 20 minutes on my bread machine).
  3. If kneading by hand, you can also place all ingredients in the listed order into a big bowl and knead for 15 - 20 minutes until the dough forms a smooth ball. Put the dough in a bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
  4. Remove the dough and separate it into 50 gram pieces [picture 5].
  5. Form the dough into a ball. With a rolling pin, flatten it out into a circle. Roll the edges of the circle thinner, leaving a thicker pad in the center [picture 6].
  6. Place 1 - 2 tablespoons of meat filling in the center of the dough and pleat and seal the edges to form a bun [picture 7] (it takes A LOT of practice, i still haven't perfected it yet!).
  7. Place the buns on cut-out baking paper or a cheesecloth to prevent sticking. Let it rise for another 30 minutes, covered, in a warm place [picture 8].
  8. When the dough has risen after 30 minutes, place them inside the metal or bamboo cooking steamers that you are using. Make sure they do not touch, standing about 1 inch away from each other.
  9. Turn on the stove to high heat until the water starts to boil [picture 9]. Once the water has boiled, turn down to medium heat and steam for 10 minutes.
  10. After 10 minutes, turn off the heat and let it rest, untouched, for another 10 - 15 minutes.
  11. Open the lid carefully, making sure water on the lid does not drop onto the buns. Remove the buns and place onto your serving plate. Serve while hot.
Steaming TIPS:
  • Avoid opening the lid too soon-- the buns will collapse when met with cold air.
  • Make sure the water on the steamer lid does not drop onto the buns, as they will create rough surfaces.
  • If the buns harden up after leaving them out for too long, just quickly steam them again and they'll be soft and fluffy in no time.
Chinese Steamed Meat Buns