Wednesday, December 6, 2017

My Mom's Steamed Bao Buns


I first wrote up my mom's hua juan recipe almost 9 years ago so I figured it's time to give a little update.  You can use this recipe to make regular steamed mantou, or fill them to make different types of baozi, but my favorite is still hua juan, which is just the regular bao dough with a sesame-scallion glaze twisted into a flower shape.

I recently came across this new way to shape bread called a Winston knot.  There aren't many videos of how to make it online, and the one I used wasn't even that good, but once you get the idea it's pretty easy.  You can make it with two single strips or two double strips like I did here.  I think the most popular one I've seen is with two triple strips; the resulting bun looks like a volleyball!

The first step is to make an X with the strips.


Then you'll cross one half of the bottom strip over.


Now take the strip that's on the bottom of this picture and weave it through the other 3 strips.


Continue taking the strip on the bottom (or on the right after rotating 90 degrees) and weaving it through the other 3 strips.


When you run out of dough to weave, smush the ends all together.


Then roll the braid up into a ball with the smushed end on the inside.


That's it!  For these buns I decided to apply the sesame-scallion glaze only on the inside of the bun so the outside would stay immaculately white.


My Mom's Steamed Bao Buns
makes 12 buns

A heaping teaspoon of active dry yeast
1 cup milk, warmed to 100-110°F
3 cups all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons of sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Turn the oven on to the lowest setting (mine is 170°F).

Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk.  If you don't have a thermometer, the milk should feel a little warmer than a fever.

Combine the flour and sugar, then add the milk mixture and oil.  Mix together until a dough forms and knead a few minutes until smooth.  Cover the bowl and place in the oven.  Turn off the heat and let the dough proof for an hour or until doubled.

Once the dough has doubled, remove from the oven and turn the oven on again to the lowest setting.  Punch the dough down and knead a few more times.  Divide into twelve equal pieces (I divide in half twice and then divide each quarter into thirds).  Shape and fill the dough at this point if desired.  Place each bun on a square of parchment paper.  Cover and place in the oven, turning off the oven again.  Let proof another 40-60 minutes.

Steam the buns for 13 minutes.  I use my stockpot with the pasta insert as one level and the steamer insert as a second level so I can steam 6 at a time.

If not eating immediately, freeze and reheat in the microwave before eating.


Previously: Slow-Roasted Ginger Scallion Salmon
Last Year:  Cranberry Curd Tart
Three Years Ago:  Puppy Chow Pie
Four Years Ago:  Thai Coconut Sticky Rice with Mango
Five Years Ago:  Vanilla Passion Caramels
Eight Years Ago:  Wah Guay (Taiwanese Rice Cake with Meat Sauce)
Nine Years Ago:  Beef Noodle Soup and Lu Dan

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Slow-Roasted Ginger Scallion Salmon


I was first introduced to slow-roasted salmon when the Food52 Cookbook Club was going through Samin Nosrat's Salt Fat Acid Heat back in September.  I tried the citrus version with lemon vinaigrette first and was absolutely smitten.  As incredible as the citrus and vinaigrette were, I think it was the salt and slow-roasting that made the dish truly exceptional.  It made a regular farm-raised salmon filet taste like a wild-caught Copper River King salmon!  The salmon was moist, rich, and buttery without being slimy or fishy.  I also tried her soy-glazed version, and it turned out amazing as well, but having to baste the fillet every 15 minutes was kind of too fussy for me.


I decided I needed to combine the recipe for Grace's ginger scallion fish with this method of cooking salmon and found some friends who were interested in testing out the recipe.  I also found some friends who had poor reading comprehension and thought I was offering them free food, haha.

We tested roasting the salmon with the skin side up, down, and skinless, and I found that skin side down worked the best.  The skin shielded the fish from too much heat from below, and this version produced the least dry fillet.  The skin never really gets crispy, though, so unless you enjoy rubbery skin, I wouldn't serve that part.


Also, the reason I wrote that the salmon should be straight from the fridge is because some people were using frozen salmon which they let thaw on their counter before using.  Their salmon came out overdone in the time frame I gave so, if you are also making this with warmer-than-refrigerator salmon, reduce the time in the oven accordingly.


Slow-Roasted Ginger Scallion Salmon

1 lb. salmon fillet, straight from the fridge
2 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine (if you don't have any, just use more water)
2 tablespoons water
1 bunch scallions (about 6 oz.), green parts only
1-2 inch knob of fresh ginger, thinly sliced
Kosher salt
Vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 225°F.

Combine the sugar, soy sauce, rice wine, and water and heat for 1 minutes in the microwave.  Stir to dissolve the sugar.

Line a small baking dish with the scallions and ginger and place salmon on top, skin side down.  Season the salmon liberally with kosher salt and coat with oil.  Pour the soy sauce mixture over the fish and roast the salmon for about 50 minutes, or until a thermometer stuck into the thickest part reads 110-120°F.

The fish should still look a lot like how it did when it went in (i.e. almost translucent), so if you don't have a thermometer, check for doneness by poking the thickest part; it will start to flake once it is ready.

Serve with rice and spoon some of the sauce on top for extra saucy goodness.


Next:  My Mom's Steamed Bao Buns
Previously:  Deep Fried Apple Dumplings with Miso Caramel Dipping Sauce
Last Year:  Pear Apple Cranberry Slab Pie
Two Years Ago:  Pad Thai
Three Years Ago:  Raindrop Cake
Four Years Ago:  My Mom's Taiwanese Sticky Rice
Five Years Ago:  Grapefruit Pie
Eight Years Ago:  Nanaimo Bars
Nine Years Ago:  Homemade Crystallized Ginger

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Deep Fried Apple Dumplings with Miso Caramel Dipping Sauce


You know how sometimes something is really, really hyped up and you're just like, "uh huh, okay, but it can't actually be that amazing."  Well, I just wanted to let you know that miso caramel is *actually* that amazing!  I first heard about it on Food52, but then I noticed that some of my favorite food bloggers were also incorporating it into their apple pies and raving about it.  It is rather rich and strong so it might not be for everyone, but if you like salted caramel and miso, you'll probably love this caramel too.  The best way I can describe it is "flavor bomb".  Try it on ice cream, in apple pies, with apple slices, or just straight out of the jar!


The reason I even decided to make miso caramel is because I was invited by Rebecca and Ruth from Square Meal Round Table to join a fall collaboration with a bunch of other Instagrammers/food bloggers centered around the prompt #Aisforalltheapples.  I had the idea to make apple dumplings, but not the American baked kind using pastry dough; I wanted to make them with Hong Kong style dumpling skins and shape them like pot stickers.  Get it?  Instead of pan-frying them, though, I was going to deep fry them like McDonald's used to fry their apple pies!  And I figured to continue with the Asian twist, I'd pair the apple dumplings with miso caramel sauce.


When it came time to shape the dumplings, I decided to go a little crazy with the pleating since I knew I wasn't making that many, but it's entirely unnecessary to do that many pleats.  In fact, I also experimented with making a couple that were just folded in half, sealed, and then crimped with a fork so that the looked like little hand pies (see above).  This shape was actually the easiest to fry evenly and dip in the caramel, so I'd probably make them this way in the future, unless I specifically wanted the pot sticker shape.


Deep Fried Apple Dumplings
makes about 2 dozen

2 apples (I used gala but fuji or pink lady would work too)
3 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cornstarch
Pinch of salt
Dumpling skins
Oil for frying

Peel the apples and finely dice.  Mix with the brown sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch, and salt in a small saucepan.  Heat over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, until the apples are tender and liquid starts to form.  Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.

Wet the edges of the dumpling skins and fill with the apple mixture.  Seal tightly.

Heat the oil in a pot to 350°F.  Fry the dumplings until golden brown and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.  Serve immediately with the miso caramel dipping sauce (recipe below).

Miso Caramel Dipping Sauce (from Minxeats via Food52)
makes 1 pint

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons white miso

Heat the sugar and water over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil and continue to cook without stirring until it turns a medium amber and wisps of smoke just start to appear.  Immediately remove from heat and whisk in the heavy cream.  If the caramel seizes, just return the pan to low heat and continue to whisk until everything is liquid again.  Whisk in the miso.  Pour into a glass jar and store in the refrigerator if not using immediately.  Rewarm briefly in the microwave before using after refrigeration.


Check out the rest of the entries in this collaboration below!

Next:  Slow-Roasted Ginger Scallion Salmon
Previously:  Crane Rangoons
Last Year:  Pear Apple Cranberry Slab Pie
Two Years Ago:  Pad Thai
Three Years Ago:  Mochi Donuts and Pon de Rings
Four Years Ago:  Bahian Style Moqueca (Brazilian Fish Stew)
Five Years Ago:  Magical Pumpkin Spice Latte

Monday, October 16, 2017

Crane Rangoons


I've been toying with the idea to make these ever since I saw an article on Food52 about someone who folded wonton skins into origami cranes and deep fried them.  Naturally the only logical progression would be to stuff them with cream cheese and make crane rangoons, right?

My mom taught me how to fold paper cranes when I was a kid, and it's basically muscle memory for me, but if you're not familiar with how to fold a crane you'll definitely want to practice with paper first.  One thing I realized as I was doing research for this post is that the way my mom taught me how to fold a paper crane is different than the most popular way on the internet.  In fact, I can't seem to find a single tutorial showing the method my mom taught me!  It's a very disorienting feeling to realize that something that you thought everyone else knew is actually just something only your family knows.

Anyways, for science, I tried both ways with a wonton skin, and there doesn't seem to be too much of a difference.  I think the hollow space in the crane's body may be a tad larger using my mom's method, and the tail and head are a bit fatter so it's a little easier to have a defined head.  Both honestly, I'm not sure those differences are a big enough of a deal to learn a new way to fold a crane, especially since it's hard enough folding one with a wonton skin.


You will want to get the freshest, most pliable wonton skins you can find, and the thinner the better.  The ones I used weren't a perfect square, but you can still get a pretty decent looking crane.  Also, instead of making perfect creases like you'd usually do with paper, you want to try not to press down too hard on any folds so that the wonton skin doesn't break.

After I finished folding the cranes, I microwaved them for 8-10 seconds, just enough to make them a little stiffer, but not totally cooked.  Basically I watched them as they microwaved and pulled them out as soon as they started to distort.  At that point, I was still able to manipulate them back into the desired shape.

Then I whipped up some softened cream cheese with some chopped scallions and a pinch or two of salt.  To fill the cranes, I used a piping bag with a no. 12 round tip.  A slightly smaller tip would probably have been a little better, but you don't want to use a tiny one or else the scallions might get stuck in the tip.

I deep fried the crane rangoons in 375°F oil until they were golden brown.  After some trial and error, it seemed like frying them upside down was the best way to get them to cook as evenly as possible.  When they were done, I let them drain on a paper towel-lined plate.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Blueberry Salted Caramel Ice Cream with Chocolate Freckles


My friend Christine and I have been making a day trip to Portland, ME every summer for the last couple of years and basically spend the day stuffing ourselves.  We always go to Eventide Oysters for my favorite lobster rolls, The Holy Donut for potato donuts, Duckfat for their fries, and Gelato Fiasco for ice cream (the honeycomb ice cream sundae from Honeypaw has made it onto our itinerary for the last 2 years as well).  My favorite flavor is the Maine Wild Blueberry Caramel Sea Salt Stracciatella gelato, but they didn't have it this year so I had to settle for the Blueberry Milk and Cookies flavor which was still really good.


So when Boston Organics contacted me and offered to send me a 5 lb. box of their wild Maine blueberries, I knew the first thing I wanted to make with them.  I consulted with my favorite ice cream cookbook, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home, and realized I could make something similar using her salty caramel ice cream recipe, adding some blueberry compote, and then swirling in some chocolate freckles when the ice cream was almost done churning.


I also wanted to share some more information about these wonderful blueberries because they're so different from the ones you usually find in the grocery store.  These are from Burke Hill Farm in Cherryfield, ME and come in a compact wax box that will fit perfectly in most freezers.  Known as lowbush blueberries, these wild blueberries grow in northern New England’s naturally acidic soil and are resilient enough to withstand the region's icy winters.  They're smaller and sweeter than the highbush berries you're probably used to, and perfect for freezing, baking, and just snacking on!  You can find more information here on the Boston Organics website.

I wish the ice cream could be as brilliantly colored as the blueberry milk and cookies gelato above, but I was worried that adding too much blueberry compote to the ice cream base might make it too icy.  Regardless, the flavor is incredible; the sweetness of the caramel is tempered by the tartness of the blueberries, and the crackly dark chocolate freckles adds a fun textural component.


Blueberry Salted Caramel Ice Cream with Chocolate Freckles
makes about 1 quart

1 cup wild Maine blueberries (frozen is fine)*
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 oz. dark chocolate, chopped

Heat the blueberries and 2 tablespoons of sugar in a small saucepan until it comes to a boil.  Gently mash the blueberries and remove from heat.

Mix a couple tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch to make a slurry and set aside.  Whisk the cream cheese and kosher salt in a large bowl and set aside.  Mix the heavy cream and corn syrup in a measuring cup with a spout.

Add the remaining 2/3 cup of sugar to a 4-quart saucepan and heat over medium heat.  Wait until a layer of sugar has melted and turned amber before stirring with a heatproof spatula.  Once all the sugar has melted and is a dark amber remove from heat and add about 1/4 cup of the heavy cream mixture while stirring.  It will violently erupt with steam so be careful!  Continue to stir and add more and more of the cream until it is all incorporated.

Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the rest of the milk.  Bring to a boil and cook for 4 minutes.  Whisk in the cornstarch slurry and bring back to a boil.  Continue to cook and stir until slightly thickened, about one minute.

Add a little of the hot cream mixture to the cream cheese and whisk until the cream cheese is dissolved.  Add the rest of the cream mixture, vanilla, and blueberry compote and mix.  Chill the mixture, then churn in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

While the ice cream is churning, place the chopped chocolate in a plastic sandwich bag, seal it shut, and then place in some very hot water.  Occasionally squeeze the chocolate around until it is all melted.  Remove the bag from the water and dry the outside.  Keep the chocolate melted but not hot.

Once the ice cream is almost done churning, snip a corner off of the sandwich bag and squeeze a steady stream of the melted chocolate into the ice cream while it continues to churn.  Pack the churned ice cream into a storage container and freeze for at least 4 hours.

*If you can't get your hands on wild Maine blueberries, you can use regular blueberries to make the compote, but you may want to boil it longer to reduce it further and add some more sugar as needed.


Next:  Crane Rangoons
Previously:  Greyscale Cream Puffs
Last Year:  Macau-Style Portuguese Chicken Rice
Three Years Ago:  Taiwanese Taro Swirl Mooncakes
Four Years Ago:  Ramen Lobster Rolls
Five Years Ago:  Caramelized Onion and Swiss Chard Quiche

Friday, July 28, 2017

Greyscale Cream Puffs


I was inspired by the latest episode of Game of Thrones to make these choux pastries, color the craquelin with dark cocoa, and call them Greyscale Cream Puffs!


Greyscale Cream Puffs (adapted from Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan)
makes 24 cream puffs

For the vanilla diplomat cream:
1/2 vanilla bean
1 cup whole milk
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small cubes
1 cup whipped cream

Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds.  Add to a small saucepan with the milk and bring to a boil.  Cover and let steep for 10-60 minutes.

Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch in a small mixing bowl.  Bring the milk back to a boil and stream a 1/4 cup of the hot milk into the egg yolks while whisking.  Whisk in the rest of the hot milk and return to the saucepan.  Bring to a boil whisk whisking continuously.  Whisk for another minute until thickened and remove from the heat.  Let sit for 10 minutes then whisk in the butter.  Press a piece of cling film to the top of the cream and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Fold in the whipped cream when ready to use.

For the craquelin:
65 grams unsalted butter
100 grams light brown sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
20 grams dark cocoa powder
65 grams all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Let the butter for the craquelin sit at room temperature for 10 minutes, then cut into small cubes.  Use a food processor to process the butter, brown sugar, and salt until almost blended.  Add the cocoa powder and flour and pulse until you get small curds.  Add the vanilla and pulse until mixed.

Dump the mixture onto a large piece of parchment paper.  Make a disk and then roll it out to 1/16" thickness and cover with another piece of parchment.  Use a cutting board to transfer it to the freezer and freeze for at least 2 hours.  Use a 1 1/2" cookie cutter to cut out 24 circles and return the circles to the freezer for at least 30 minutes.

For the cream puff:
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup water
1 stick unsalted butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
136 grams all-purpose flour
4 large eggs

Position your oven racks so they divide the space in thirds and preheat the oven to 425°F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats.

Bring the milk, water, butter, sugar, and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Dump all the flour in at once, lower the heat, and start stirring with a wooden spoon until a smooth dough forms and a thin film begins to form on the bottom of the saucepan.

Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer and let cool for 3 minutes.  Using the paddle attachment, beat in the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated.

Use a medium cookie scooper (one with a 1 1/2 tablespoon capacity and 1 1/2" diameter) to portion out 24 scoops onto the two baking sheets.  Place a frozen round of craquelin dough on top of each scoop.


Place the baking sheets in the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 375°F.  Bake for 20 minutes then rotate the baking sheets.  Bake for another 10-15 minutes, until golden brown.  Allow to cool to room temperature.

Use a pastry bag with a small round trip attached to pipe the diplomat cream into the cream puffs and serve.


Next:  Blueberry Salted Caramel Ice Cream with Chocolate Freckles
Previously:  3-28 Slab Pie
Last Year:  Zucchini Pizza
Three Years Ago:  Strawberry Pop Tart Slab Pie
Four Years Ago:  Backyard Mint Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Freckles

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

3-28 Slab Pie


Where were you when the Patriots came from behind and won Superbowl 51?  I was at my church, watching the game on the big screen.  By the time halftime rolled around, I knew the Patriots were in big trouble, and I called my mom, who has the gift of prayer (I have the gift of faith) to pray for them to win.  She didn't believe they could, but after I begged her to, she relented and agreed to pray for them.  So I guess you could say that what happened next was all because of me and my mom.

The idea for this pie had been brewing in my mind for a long time, but I wanted to wait until strawberries and blueberries were in season to make it.  I usually brush an egg wash on top of my pie dough before baking, but I decided I wanted to keep crust as pale as possible to make it look more similar to the infamous chyron.  If I had had more time, I might have made some royal icing to make the numbers and letters stand out even more, but I think it looks pretty good as is.  =)


3-28 Slab Pie
makes one 10" x 15" slab pie

For the pie crust:
3 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1/2 cup ice water, plus more as needed

For the filling:
3 cups fresh blueberries
3 cups fresh sliced strawberries
1 cup sugar, divided
3 tablespoons cornstarch, divided

Pulse the flour, sugar, and salt together in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until the butter has been cut into pea-sized pieces. Add the water and pulse to combine. Add more water if needed, a tablespoon at a time, just until the dough comes together. Divide the dough into two pieces, one twice the size of the other, and wrap both with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least an hour or as long as overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Roll out the larger piece of dough to about a 13" x 18" rectangle.  Press into a 10" x 15" baking sheet and fold the excess dough underneath.  Prick the bottom of the dough all over with a fork and crimp the edges.  Chill while assembling the rest of the pie.

Roll out the smaller piece of dough and cut out the letters and numbers.  You'll also want to cut out a thin strip of dough about 10" long to use as a divider between the two fillings.  You should end up with a lot of leftover dough, which you can use to make a tart or galette.  Chill while you fix up the filling.

In a small mixing bowl, toss the blueberries with 1/2 cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch.  Toss the sliced strawberries with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in another bowl.

Place the dividing strip of dough down the middle of the pie.  Fill the left side with the blueberries and the right side with the strawberries.  Carefully arrange the letters and numbers on top. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.

Next:  Greyscale Cream Puffs
Previously:  Rhubarb Strawberry Coconut Cream Tart
Last Year:  My Mom's Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry
Two Years Ago:  Pasta con le Sarde
Three Years Ago:  Cleveland Cassata Cake
Four Years Ago:  Zuni Cafe's Fried Eggs in Bread Crumbs
Seven Years Ago:  Coconut Lime Sorbet
Eight Years Ago:  Homemade Bulgogi Dumplings