Monday, July 3, 2017

Milk Bread & Chicken Buns

I usually buy Paris Baguette's milk bread to make sandwiches and toast - I love the thick fluffy slices and would buy several loaves at once and freeze them so that I'd always have it on hand.  Once in a while though, it's fun to make your own bread since you can not only use the dough to make sandwich bread, but also shape them into buns stuffed with whatever savory or sweet fillings you like.  

A few years ago, I finally came across a reliable milk bread recipe for making the Asian style fluffy slices of bread I loved.  My main complaint now is that I can't find a pullman loaf pan that is as tall and wide as the kind they use commercially so my sandwiches come out smaller than I'd like - but at least they're tasty!  This bread is also great for using in this Grand Marnier French toast recipe as well.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Red Velvet Macarons

Had some extra egg whites after making these cherry blossom butter cookies from JustOneCookbook, as well as some left over cream cheese from another recipe so decided to try making macarons again.  It's been a while since I've felt like I made a completely successful batch so I've avoided making them for months.  This time around, I decided to make it in smaller batches so I used the French meringue method, whipping it by hand (just granulated sugar slowly added to the egg whites) rather than deal with making a hot sugar syrup since the amount was so small.  Also, big learning point of the day was that it helps to have an oven thermometer.  Turns out one of the main reasons for my past failures was because my oven temperature was much lower than what I thought it was, which lead to undercooked shells that were hollow and stuck both to the silicone baking sheets as well as parchment paper.  I ended up making 3 batches of these this week just to make sure, each time setting my oven temp higher than was indicated in the original recipe to make sure it wasn't a fluke, and sure enough it worked!  The temperature I'm listing here is what the recipe should be at - however, depending on your own oven, you may need to adjust it higher or lower if your oven's temperature is inaccurate.  For some recipes, having an off temperature don't matter as much, but in the case of macaron shells, it definitely makes a difference!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Almond Frangipane & Pluot Tart

Pluots are in season where I live! I am not a huge fan of plums or apricots but the marriage of the two in the form of pluots are one of my favorite fruits, particularly the flavor king variety. (*´∀`*)  We normally just enjoy them fresh since the season is pretty short, but as I literally bought about 10 pounds of the fruit at the farmer's market last week, I had a few to spare to try and experiment with baking wise.  That, and I finally got a proper tart pan.  Since I decided to make the tart at the last minute (and wasn't sure if it would turn out well), I didn't take pictures of all the steps and the lighting was just from my kitchen so they aren't the greatest.  But trust me, the tart is amazing!  It's the first time I've been absolutely happy with the results taste wise (I would be happier if I had taken more care with making the tart edges prettier, but eh...oh well).  The crust was buttery and flakey, the pluots with the berry jelly glaze had a nice balance of sweetness with just a touch of tartness, both of which went lovely with the whipped cream and nutty almond frangipane.

I hope to try with other fruits in the future once pluot season is over - perhaps nectarines, apples, or pears with an apricot jam glaze?) and of course you could always use plums like the original recipe.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Strawberry Macarons

Strawberry season is here again! ヾ(@°▽°@)ノ I was so happy that I bought an entire flat at the farmers' market this past weekend.  AN ENTIRE FLAT.  That's 12 whole baskets.  I had to ask them to hold it for me while I shopped at the other stalls because I couldn't carry it all while walking around the farmers' market.  It's been less than 3 days since the market and we've already consumed more than half of the flat.  (*^^*)

I can't wait to make strawberry pie again this year, but in the meantime, I wanted to practice making macarons using the Italian meringue method so I decided to make these strawberry macarons with strawberry Swiss meringue buttercream.

That said, macarons are a huge pain in the butt.  HUGE.  The ingredients can be pricey, it can take a long time when you are making large batches, there's so many dishes to wash after, and it can all end up being a big flop after all that effort.  BUT when they do come out right, it's a glorious sense of accomplishment for me - like TAKE THAT YOU DAMN COOKIE!! I BEAT YOU!!!!  (Except, no, you lose since you'll get fat from all the sugar... :P)  Anyways, I highly recommend watching some Youtube videos just to see what the texture of the meringue and batter ought to look like and techniques on folding the meringue into the almond meal.  It took me a long time to get a feel for it and I still end up with hollows or no feet frequently.  Ovens can also be tricky so you may have to play around with your temperature and bake times to find what is ideal for your own oven.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup Using Instant Pot

Finally getting around to putting up the recipe for beef noodle soup that I've fallen in love with! :D  Thanks so much to my mother-in-law for introducing this recipe to me and helping me make it the first time and translating the ingredient list!  I LOVE using my Instant pot for this and now I don't have to go out to eat one of my favorite comfort foods! It is awesome for making a large batch at once so that I can freeze into smaller servings later on for a quick meal.  It's also great for serving large groups of friends with out taking too much time away from guests on the night of the dinner since you can make most of it ahead of time. (^_^)v

Monday, October 12, 2015

Tea-Smoked Chicken Legs & Duck Breasts (熏雞)

During a trip to Taiwan a couple of years ago, my parents-in-law introduced me to this shop near their home that sold all sorts of smoked meat.  They were known for their smoked chicken legs in particular, and I could not stop thinking about it when we came back home!  As with most things, if I couldn't find it easily in the store or at a restaurant, I would get the itch to figure out how to make it myself. (^_^)v  Since we live in a condo we don't have a traditional smoker, but luckily for me, my friend Audrey knew of a recipe that could be done with just a lidded wok and a steaming rack!

The original recipe from The Breath of a Wok by Grace Young and Alan Richardson is super easy, but it will make your house smell smokey for a couple days after (I try to double the recipe usually and freeze it to make it worth it :P).  It keeps quite well vacuum-sealed in the freezer, and you also get some delicious concentrated chicken broth to use after the steaming step.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Chinese Steamed Buns - Mantou (饅頭)

I LOVE LOVE LOVE the soft inside fluffy parts of bread.  Crust can be ok, but by and far it is always the fluffy insides that I love to sink my teeth into when eating a piece of a bread.  Chinese steamed buns, or mantou (饅頭) are like the fluffy insides of a fresh baked loaf of bread, without any of the hard or dry crusts that comes with regular bread.  Unfortunately, most of the mantou you can buy at the grocery stores here in the U.S. are always too dense or dry for my liking, and I missed the ones my mom used to make which were chewier and fluffier, with a bounce.


Asking my mom for a recipe though usually amounts to "just add a little of this, and some of that and mix until it looks/feels about right." So... I turned to Google Search and browsed a bunch of sites, read some comments, and chose to Frankenstein together several of the ideas.  I specifically wanted to try and make black sesame and sweet potato versions.  It took a few batches, but I'm pretty happy with how it finally came out for the sweet potato and plain versions.  The black sesame ones, alas, will still need some work (didn't help that I overcooked them and they kinda burned too - I REALLY want to make a Totoro version!!!). (。-_-。)

My poor deformed and burned Totoros
Feel free to play with the ratios of flours.  If you like a denser feel, you can try replacing some of the AP flour with bread flour (50% AP, 25% BF, 25% CF for example).  Most recipes call for adding a bit of lard or canola oil - I chose to use butter instead, but you can replace with equivalent amount of lard/shortening or 1TB of oil.

I need to start my baking earlier for better lighting... (^^ゞ