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Archive for October, 2010

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day is a bread cookbook that doesn’t have tons of pictures. The usual me definitely wont have much interest in it because I just love cookbooks that show lots of colorful pictures. Not only pictures give me the ‘Oh this looks delicious. I’m gonna try it!’ drive, but also serve as reference/guidance to see how well/bad our food turns out compared to the original version. BUT, this bread book caught my attention because of tons and tons of positive reviews. Upon reading I found out this book is written very clearly (this is especially important for artisan bread dummies like myself), and the authors offers lots of tips for baking a good loaf. I was thinking highlighting some important points but gave up, or else I would have to highlight pretty much the whole book!

Back to business, this book really lives up to its name– five minutes a day for a fresh loaf of artisan bread. This new approach is totally the opposite of the traditional methods. It doesn’t require starters nor kneading. This basic bread recipe calls for very few simple tools and ingredients. You don’t need experience in baking bread either to bake a beautiful loaf. If you’re interested in baking artisan breads and yet don’t want to spend whole day (or even days) making it, I recommend you get this book (or visit their website http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com)– I did and it turns out to be one of my best bread cookbooks!

Artisan Bread Basic Recipe: dough after mixing

Artisan Bread Basic Recipe: dough after mixing

Artisan Bread Basic Recipe: dough after mixing

Artisan Bread Basic Recipe: dough after mixing

Artisan Bread Basic Recipe: dough after 2-hour rising at room temperature.

Artisan Bread Basic Recipe: dough after 2-hour rising at room temperature

Artisan Bread Basic Recipe: resting dough on pizza peel.

Artisan Bread Basic Recipe: resting dough on pizza peel.

Artisan Bread Basic Recipe: The bread must be cooled completely on rack after removing from the oven.

Artisan Bread Basic Recipe: The bread must be cooled completely on rack after removing from the oven.

Artisan Bread Basic Recipe: showing here is the crumb (interior of the bread).

Artisan Bread Basic Recipe: showing here is the crumb (interior of the bread).

 

Another artisan bread from same batch of dough.

Another artisan bread from same batch of dough.

I made this loaf to go with Thanksgiving meal-- same dough, different shapes, but all delicious!

I made this loaf to go with Thanksgiving meal-- same kind of dough, different shapes, but all delicious!

 

Artisan Bread Basic Recipe (yields 3 loaves)–full and original recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day

Ingredients:
6 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour– use 1 cup measuring cup and a knife to sweep flat. DO NOT use large 2-cup measuring cup.
1 tbsp salt12/8/10 update:  should cut down to 2 tsp as I find the bread is a little salty to my liking.
1 1/2 tbsp dry yeast
3 cups lukewarm water

Method:

  1. Stir salt into flour to combine. Add lukewarm water and yeast into a 6-quart container, whisk to combine. Add flour mixture to the yeast water while stirring using a wooden spoon, until the dough is evenly moist. The dough will look very wet. This should take no more than 5 minutes.
  2. Cover loosely with a lid and let the dough rise at room temperature until the top collapse or flat (it took me about 3 hours). Snap the lid on but pull up lid a little so the container is not air tight. Now the dough is ready put into the fridge (the dough is ready for baking after this initial rise but it’s easier to handle after chilling. The dough can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. As the dough gets old– especially almost 2 weeks old, the dough will smell sour and the bread will taste more like those of sourdough).
  3. On baking day, sprinkle some cornmeal on a pizza peel (so the dough rests without sticking to the peel). Take out chilled dough, sprinkle some flour on top of the dough then use one hand to pull up some dough (about size of grapefruit) while use the other hand to cut the dough with serrated knife. With dough in you hand, gently pull stretch the surface of the dough and tuck in the bottom, giving it a quarter turn as you pull/stretch. Dust a little more flour to prevent dough sticks to you hand. This shaping process should not take more than 1 minute.
  4. Place shaped dough on pizza peel, rest uncovered at room temperature for 1 hour. 20 minutes before baking, place pizza stone on the middle rack and a shadow pan at the bottom rack. Then preheat oven temperature to 450°F.
  5. Dust the top of the dough with some flour (so the dough won’t stick to the knife when making slit on the top) and make some slits(1/4 inch deep) on the top. Quickly and carefully slide the dough onto the pizza stone. Pour 1 cup of water into the shadow pan then quickly close the oven door. (To prevent last minute ‘surprise’ of the dough sticking to the pizza peel and losing heat from the oven, I always move pizza peel back and forth to test slide the dough before open the oven door).
  6. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the bread is golden and tap hollow at the bottom of bread. Remove bread  from oven and cool immediately on a rack. Cool completely before slicing.

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This is another way to enjoy those sweet corns. It is easy to make and one of my family’s favorite soups.

Corn and Meatball Soup

Corn and Meatball Soup

Corn and Meatball Soup Recipe

Ingredients:
corn kennels of 2 ears  of corn
1/2 lb ground pork
12 medium shrimps
2 cans low sodium chicken broth
salt to taste
garnish: chopped green onion and cilantro

meatball seasoning:
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/4 tsp sesame seed oil
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp water

thickening agent (mix well):
1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 tbsp water

Method:

  1. Remove shells and veins of shrimps. Coarsely chop the shrimps into ground pork. Add seasoning and mix well. Then use a chopstick to stir the meat in a circular motion until the meat and shrimps are sticky.
  2. Bring chicken broth to boil and add corn. When it boils again, spoon the meat, 1 tsp spoon at a time, and drop into the soup. Boil until the meat is cooked. Add thickening agent and stir until it reaches desired thickness. Add salt to taste and garnish with green onion and cilantro.

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This is the first time I tried making granola, and it yielded more than I expected…a  little of everything does add up. It’s is very easy to make and now I know how to make it, I realize how much I have been paying for the store bought ones– way too much! The ingredients are very versatile pretty much including grains, nuts, seeds, dried fruits and even citrus zest too.

Homemade Granola

Homemade Granola

 

Homemade Granola

Homemade Granola

Homemade Granola Recipe

Ingredients:
2 cups rolled oats (oatmeal)
2 cups cornflakes
1/3 cup toasted sesame seeds
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 cup almond– lightly toasted and chopped
1 cup walnut– light toasted and chopped
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup raisin
7 tbsp honey
5 tbsp cooking oil or butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Combine all dry ingredients (except dried fruits) in a large bowl.
  2. Stir honey,oil/butter and vanilla extract in a small saucepan on medium heat until frothy. Drizzle syrup over dry ingredients, stir to coat well.
  3. Transfer mixture to a large baking pan, spreading evenly. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Stir every 10 minutes during baking.
  4. Remove from oven and stir in dried fruits. Cool granola completely in the pan on the rack (granola will crisp up after cooling). Store in airtight container. Keep up to 2 weeks.

Regina’s Note:

I added too much oats and cornflakes this time. I think the proportions of oats and each type of nuts is 1:1, and 1/3 cup for each type of seeds (sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, flaxweed etc) will bring a nicer balance of texture and flavor.

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I miss my mom’s old cucumber soup, but I search and search old cucumber all these years in every Chinese grocery stores with no luck…. until 2 weeks ago I accidentally saw a vendor selling old cucumbers at a farmer’s market. I grabbed one immediately, and here comes my old cucumber soup.

Old cucumber cut into big chunks

Old cucumber cut into big chunks

Old Cucumber Soup 老黄瓜汤

Old Cucumber Soup 老黄瓜汤

Old Cucumber Soup Recipe

Ingredients:
1 old cucumber– remove seeds and cut into big chunks, leave skin intact
1 lb spare ribs– cut into big chunks
3 dried medium oyster
4 dried scallop
4 dried red dates
2 gallon water
salt to taste

Method:

  1. Blanch spare ribs in boiling water and rinse to remove any scum and impurities.
  2. Bring 2 gallons of water to boil. Add blanched meat and the rest of ingredients (except salt). Cover, boil on high heat for 10 minutes, then lower to medium low heat and continue cooking for 2.5 hours.
  3. Add salt to taste before serving.

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Pulut hitam, like BoBo ChaCha, is one of the classic Malaysian dessert soups. I have been wanting to make this dessert soup for awhile but just never get to it. It’s a good change to the regular red bean soup at our house. Too bad my children are not big fans of it, so I ended up giving 2/3 of the soup to friends. It was a very delicious dessert soup nonetheless. I especially love the crunchiness of Chinese donuts with the soup… Mmm, so heavenly!

Black Gluten Rice Soup 'Pulut Hitam'

Black Gluten Rice Soup 'Pulut Hitam'

Pulut Hitam Recipe

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup black gluten rice
1/4 cup white gluten rice
7 cups water
4 pandan leaves– tie a knot. See note below.
1 large block gula melaka 椰糖 or palm sugar
1 stick rock sugar 冰片糖

Coconut Sauce:
1 cup coconut milk
pinch of salt

toasted Chinese donut, cut into small pieces

Method:

  1. Combine both rices and rinse a couple of times. Soak in plenty of water 2-3 hours or overnight. Drain.
  2. Add 6 cups of water,drained rice and pandan leaves in a deep pot and bring to boil. Turn heat to medium and cook until the rice broth is silky smooth to the taste and rice is tender and yet yields texture to the bite. Keep stirring during cooking to prevent rice sticking to the bottom.
  3. While the rice is cooking, boil remaining 1 cup of water with gula melaka and rock sugar in a small pot, until sugar dissolves. Strain to remove impurities. Add to the rice soup/pulut hitam (add more water to rice soup if it’s getting too thick).
  4. Prepare coconut sauce: put coconut milk and salt in a saucepan and boil over low heat until it bubbles. Set aside to cool.
  5. To serve, scoop pulut hitam into a bowl. Drizzle with some coconut sauce and top with Chinese donut pieces.

Regina’s Note:

  • Adding white gluten rice is to make the soup more silky taste. You can do the same with other dessert soups too like red bean soup.
  • Frozen pandan leaves have lost much of its fragrance so double or triple the amount calls for in the recipe. Pandan leaves give the soup a fragrant aroma. Omit it if you can’t find this ingredient.

 

Black Gluten Rice Soup 'Pulut Hitam'

Black Gluten Rice Soup 'Pulut Hitam'

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I missed my steamed veggie bun that I made not too long ago as I didn’t have much back then, so I made it again. But this time I decided to give the buns a new look. I find this pleating method is much easier than the traditional method of pleating into round shape. Aren’t they pretty? Oh, and this time I didn’t forget to take picture of the filling too!

I really tried my best to describe the pleating method and I hope you understand it. Next time when I make it I will video tape the process. In the meantime, let me know if you have any questions.

 

Steamed Veggie Buns (Leaf Pleat)

Steamed Veggie Buns (Leaf Pleat)

Steamed Veggie Bun II-- the filling consists of jicama, mushrooms, green onion and carrot.

Steamed Veggie Bun II-- the filling consists of jicama, mushrooms, green onion and carrot.

Steamed Veggie Bun II (Leaf Pleat):

Ingredients: see Steamed Veggie Bun (jicama version)

Leaf Pleating Method:

  1. Follow methods in Steamed Veggie Bun (jicama version) up to step 6.
  2. For each small dough, first roll it to a round ball then flatten it with your palm. Roll it out to a round circle using a rolling pin (thinner around the edge while thicker dough towards the center). Scoop in about 2 tbsp filling then make a 2-3 pleat (just like you’re about to pleat traditionally) so the dough forms a pocket (filling will be inside the ‘pocket’. Alternatively, use index or middle finger to pleat the dough on the top, then use thumb to pleat the dough at the bottom (closer to you), so the pleat will form a line on the middle of the bun. The bun will shape like a water drop with leaf design on the top. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
  3. Rest pleated pao on parchment paper, and let it rest 10-30 minutes (no more than 30 minutes or the pao might collapse after steaming).
  4. Place rested pao loosely (pao will expand to double size during steaming) on a steamer tray with holes. Steam on high heat over rapid boiling water for 10 minutes. (Always steam pao over boiling water on high heat. otherwise the pao will taste doughy and sticky).

 

 

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This is my version of sesame seed salad dressing. It’s not too sweet, and you can taste the soy sauce flavor and hint of vinegar.

Sesame Seed Salad Dressing

Sesame Seed Salad Dressing

Simple Sesame Seed Salad Dressing :

Ingredients:
4 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
2 tbsp honey
1 1/2 tbsp vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sesame seed oil
1 tbsp peanut butter (optional)
1 cloves finely chopped garlic (optional)

Method:

Finely grind toasted sesame seeds. Add in remaining ingredients and mix well.

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