Saturday, December 7, 2013

Lemon Curd Shortbread Cookies!

Crazy! It's December... a little odd that time seems to just blaze through. Relatively speaking though time has been running just the same, its our lives that just gets busier and crazier...but through it all, we all need a break and mine is just around the corner! 

I can't believe its here but its here! In less than a week I'll be on the other side of the world enjoying me a summer #2! I'm heading to Australia/New Zealand for an entire month (a huge thanks to my manager for approving this vacation :) I have to remember to bring back a fun souvenir), my first summertime Christmas and New Years, I wonder what that's going to be like... to be continued... 

But of course before I head out, here is a sweet tangy recipe: lemon curd shortbread cookies!
Simple and delicious.


Lemon Curd Shortbread Cookies
Adapted from: Glorious Treats
Ingredients:
  • 1 ½ stick of butter
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¾ cup lemon curd (homemade recipe)
Procedures:
  1. Beat butter until smooth, add sugars and mix. Add egg, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla and mix until incorporated. Add in baking powder, and then slowly beat in flour (at 1/3 cup intervals)
  2. Cover dough and chill for at least an hour
  3. Roll dough into balls, slightly flatten with the palm of your hands and then press with your thumb.
  4. Fill thumbprint with lemon curd
  5. Bake for about 15 minutes at 350 F or until the edges have slightly browned.
 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Chicken Potato Salad

A new twist to an old classic, the potato salad. The intention was to boil potatoes for mashed potatoes... except my mom didn't quite pick the most suitable for the occasion, tiny little baby potatoes with skins still on it isn't the best way for mashed potatoes, so what is one to do? Being quick on my feet when it comes to food, I thought making a potato salad would be the perfect alternative. My mom also conveniently boiled an egg... perhaps the intention was for a potato salad all along....

This is when a pair of kitchen shears come in real handy, cut the potatoes into fourths, cut some green onions, cut some leftover chicken breast, cut up the boiled egg, add in some extra taste enhancers, and BAM a delicious potato salad in the making! I never liked mayonnaise in potato salads so what would be a good substitute...hmm... hummus + yogurt dip perhaps? I know it sounds weird but it works! The best discovery ever! Made one of the best tasting potato salad (actually my first time making potato salad, after seeing my mom go at it in years past, it wasn't such a dark jab...), even my mom was impressed, I think I've just moved us away from mayonnaise in yet another dish! **small victories!** Using hummus and yogurt instead of mayonnaise/sour cream (or I actually don't really know what's in a normal potato salad... but I'm going to stick to this one) makes this loads healthier, I didn't say healthiest, but healthier. Little life changes is all it takes! End lecture.

The recipe is a rough estimate mainly because I was making it based on tasting it rather than exact measurements so I suggest the same if you care to venture into this crazy new concept.

Chicken Potato Salad
Ingredients:
  • 4oz cooked chicken breast, cut into small cubes/shredded
  • 1-2lbs boiled potatoes, cubed
  • 2 bunches of green onions, chopped
  • 1-2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
  • 3-4 tbsp hummus (I like the spicy kind, gives it a nice kick)
  • 3-4 tbsp yogurt dip (I used the cilantro yogurt dip from Trader Joe's)
  •  1 tbsp paprika
  • 1/2 tbsp garlic salt
  • ground black pepper
  • 1-2 tbsp spicy mustard
  • 1 tbsp strawberry or raspberry jelly (this is weird, but again, it works! Brings a bit of sweetness to it)
Procedures:
  1. Combine and mix. Taste for further seasoning.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Pumpkin Bread!

A happy (post) Thanksgiving to everyone! Hope this year there is much to be thankful for.
I have to admit Thanksgiving never gave me much meaning when I was younger, it was always just another day but it was nice because we'd always get the day off from school/work/whatever. My family were never big on the idea of Thanksgiving and being only the 4 of us each year, things can get a little bland. As I got older though, I can understand the meaning behind the holiday a bit more. Its about being grateful with everything we have, a day of reflection.

Now forgive me because I'm about to start a rant that might stir a few hairs. I love the concept of Thanksgiving but then we go and completely contradict ourselves with a  stupid thing called Black Friday that traditionally follows right after where people turn into animals and fight over the best things to buy. Really? Do we need any more things?! Here we have a day where we give thanks for everything that we are given, then we all turn around and basically say "I'm thankful, but not quite, so let me just buy some more." I'm sorry if you happen to be one of those faithful Black Friday shoppers but I think its just terrible (my opinion and no one has to agree). I love to shop as much as the next girl, but its just too much.


Instead of celebrating with loved ones and taking a nice day(s) off to reflect, rest, relax, etc, people are lining up outside in the cold to buy (fight for) more things ... how poorly does that reflect on us? I think if it wasn't for recent years though, I wouldn't mind Black Friday as much. I understand the marketing concept behind it but wow, thanks for showing us that making money/buying new things is more important than anything else. In the past, everyone got Thanksgiving day off, everyone, if you went outside, you'd probably hear a pin drop. Nowadays, stores are opening as early as 6pm on Thanksgiving (so those unfortunately employees have to work on their supposed day off) and call it an early bird special for Black Friday... really?! There should be a law where no one is allowed to go shopping until 8am on Friday and no one is allowed line up outside of stores until 6am of Friday morning. Period. 

I would probably be less annoyed if Black Friday was on a different day than right after Thanksgiving, I guess contradicting concepts drive me a little bit crazy. What can I say, I believe people should do as they say and say as they do and Thanksgiving/Black Fridays are not those things.

Nonetheless, this is not to say there aren't people out there who truly appreciate the holiday for what it is and actually do spend the time at home with people they love. So to those people, I applaud you! Well done. 

What am I thankful for? Life -- People that I care about and care about me. Happiness. The little things. Being able to express my thoughts. Fancy, shiny things that I tend to buy a little too much of during the rest of the year. Food. Celebrating the small victories. Health. Family and friends who sometimes makes your blood boil but also melts your heart in the sweetest ways. Silliness. Being able to laugh like a mad woman without a care in the world. Peace and freedom. Exploring different parts of the world. Knowledge. The ability to bury myself in a good book. Being fortunate enough to be in an environment that allows me to appreciate all these things! Happy Thanksgiving.

Oh and one more: Pumpkin Bread! 
Pumpkin Bread
Makes 2 loaves
from America’s Test Kitchen: Pumpkin Bread
 
Ingredients
Topping:
  • 5 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
Bread
  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 can 15 oz pumpkin puree
  • 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 4 oz cream cheese (I used ricotta cheese instead)
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup toasted chopped walnuts
Procedures:
  1. Mix all the topping ingredients together and set aside.
  2. Mix flour, baking soda, and baking powder together in a bowl and set aside
  3. In a sauce pan over medium/high heat, cook the can pumpkin puree with cinnamon, ground cloves, nutmeg, and salt down to about 1 ½ cup  (should take roughly 6 minutes)
  4. Once the pumpkin puree has been cooked down, incorporate white sugar, brown sugar, cream cheese, and vegetable oil, mix until will mixed (oil may not be completely mixed into puree at this point, that’s okay)
  5. Remove from heat and whisk in buttermilk and eggs
  6. Slowly fold in dry ingredients and then add stir in walnuts
  7. Pour into loaf pan, top with topping and bake at 350F degrees for 40-45 minutes (or done when toothpick comes out clean)


 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Bacon Pastrami Flatbread

Time seems to have just slipped through my fingers, I could have sworn I posted something this month... but apparently that was a month ago... I'm getting so bad at this! I blame not having a life for over 3 months and now I'm playing catch up with everything else that my blog has been neglected. Heck, even my food experiments have taken a toll... but no worries, with the holidays coming right around the corner, I'm sure I'll have plenty of excuses to bake, cook, and make messes (also going to the movies, catching up with friends, shopping, etc, you know the essentials in life)!

Nothing fancy for this mediocre update, just another flat bread recipe I threw together for a quick lunch meal, though nothing short of delicious, don't be fooled by its simplicity. Call it a warm up post to (hopefully) a flood of future posts to come.

I don't know why I do this every time but going to the grocery store when you're starving is never a bright idea (and this has nothing to do with the fact that my gym is right next to one and out of convenience, that is where I go after gym time aka starving to death), so anyways, I went to Trader Joe's and picked up a few items for this recipe so this post may be heavily populated with Trader Joe's products...

Bacon Pastrami Flatbread
Ingredients:
  • 4 oz of pastrami, diced
  • 3 strips of bacon, diced
  • 1 ball of pizza dough (roughly 8oz, I cheated a little and bought the ready to bake kind from Trader Joe's)
  • 2 bunches of green onions, diced
  • 4 tbsp of hummus 
  • 4 tbsp of yogurt dip (optional, I used the Trader Joe's cilantro and chives yogurt dip)
  • 1 tsp mustard (optional)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup cheese of choice
Procedure:
  1. Prepare dough as advised on package, roll out to a flat baking sheet
  2. Mix together hummus, yogurt dip, and mustard and spread evenly on the dough
  3. Sprinkle green onions on top followed by a light layer of cheese
  4. Top with pastrami and bacon and another layer of light cheese
  5. Bake in the oven at 425 degrees for approx 15 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.

 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Lemon Ricotta Almond Cake!

Ah.... a long overdue full weekend! A small glimpse of what is to come as harvest is slowly (a little too slow...) coming to an end. 

Now what is one to do with 2 whole days? Well let me tell you, eat lots of food, run lots of miles, watch lots of tv, and make lots of goodies. Surely this rare anomaly can't be wasted. 

This seemly normal cake is anything but! I've never used ricotta in anything before and after this, it definitely won't be the last. This recipe is almost too easy to have produced such a delicious cake: light, moist, and just the right amount of sweet, its melt in your mouth good. The lemon zest brings just the right amount of citrus burst to counter the sweet and nuttiness of the cake, its a definite winner!

I used Trader Joe's almond meal which is more course than the Red Mill's version so the cake came out a lot darker and grainier looking than the cake from the original recipe but I kind of like its rustic looks, fits the season (and not to mention half the price!).


Lemon Ricotta Almond Cake

Ingredients:
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup lemon zest
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 2 ½ cup almond meal
  • Sliced almonds for garnish
  • 300 g ricotta cheese
  • Powder sugar for dusting

Procedures:
  1. Cream together butter, 1 cup sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest.
  2. Gradually add in egg yolks, one at a time, and beat until combined
  3. Add in almond meal and beat until combined.
  4. Fold in ricotta cheese
  5. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form, add in the rest of the sugar and then beat until stiff peaks form.
  6. Fold egg whites into the batter at 1/3 cup intervals until everything is well incorporated.
  7. Transfer batter into a 9" spring foam pan and sprinkle sliced almonds on top
  8. Bake at 325 degrees for 40-45 minutes
  9. Dust with powder sugar

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies with Candied Pecans!

Its certainly been a while hasn't it? Not entirely all my fault as I have mentioned probably more than you care to read, its harvest! In the wine industry, this is by far the busiest time of the year. Ever wonder when grapes get picked, crushed, and transformed into wine? If you guessed between the months of August to November, you'd be right!


Unfortunately because the window for grapes are so tight, that also means no rest for the folks in the wine industry... typically a winery will be running 24/7 during this time of the year, so guess what I've been up to these last couple of months? Yup, hard at work...work, and work... in the last month, I think I got 3 days off and you can count me as one of the lucky ones. There are people that have been working for 2 months straight! For those hard working folks, know that you are awesome! Definitely the troopers! 

Now because I've neglected to update my blog for so long, I felt that at least I should try to post a recipe or two in for the month of October as I have completely neglected September. Be warned that not all the screws in my head are screwed on properly at this point, so please excuse my lack of content for the new few posts to come. I am afraid I'm running on auto pilot for the most part. Because we can all use a little bit of baking therapy, here is a quick and simple cookie recipe that's fast but still delicious enough to knock people's socks off!



Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies with Candied Pecans

Ingredients:
Cookies:
  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt (pinch)
  • 1 ¼ cup old fashion oats
  • 1 ½ cup candied pecans*
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 ¼ cup flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 2 ½ tbsp instant coffee powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
*Candied pecans
**Recipe from Better Homes cookbook
  • 1 ½ cups of chopped pecans
  • ¼ cup of sugar
  • 1 tbsp of butter
  • 1 tsp of vanilla

Procedures:
For Cookies:
  1. Cream together butter and sugar. Add in egg and vanilla. Mix until well combined
  2. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cocoa powder, and instant coffee.
  3. Slowly add flour mix to wet ingredients. Mix until just incorporated.
  4. Stir in oats, chocolate chips, and pecans.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350 F.

For pecans:
  1. Line a baking sheet with foil and place the chopped pecan onto the sheet. Bake in oven @ 325 degrees for 10 minutes (stirring once)
  2. Meanwhile, in a sauce pan or 8in skillet over medium heat melt about ¼ cup of the sugar, shaking pan to evenly melt the sugar (syrup-like), only stir to keep from over browning. Stir in remaining sugar as it melts.
  3. Reduce heat to low and continue melting until a light golden brown
  4. Add butter and vanilla to melted sugar, stirring until everything is well mixed
  5. Turn off heat; add warm nuts, stirring to coat.
  6. Pour and spread nut mixture onto a baking sheet and cool completely.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Lemon Sorbet with Asian Pears!

Summer isn't over just yet! Not until I say so... okay well maybe I have absolutely no control over that but I'd like to think I do. So while I still have the summer warmth around, I'm going to play with my ice cream maker just a tad more before it goes back into storage.

Since it seems that lately all I make are desserts, I thought I'd tone the "bad" stuff back down and do a lighter dessert this time around. Lemon sorbet sounds like a refreshing treat.

Actually what drove this was my friend's mom giving me a ton of delicious Asian pears! I can only eat so many... so I thought it was time to use some for my experiments as well. This one was hard to think of, Asian pears are not really meant to be cooked and so baking was more or less out of the question. Making a crispy pear mushy is anything but tasty. 

Let me tell you it is a horrible idea to be thinking of things like what to do with Asian pears when you're about to fall asleep because during the off chance that you get a great idea, you end up being too excited to actually fall asleep (clearly my love for food is too great and so even the ideas excite me...). So after a somewhat less restful night, I came up with the idea of combining little chunks of Asian pears into a sorbet of some sort. I decided lemon seemed best fit for the task. 

For something as simple as a sorbet, I sure made a nice mess while making it. One way to test the acidity of the lemon, get some onto your shirt and then let it bleach little specks onto it, which is exactly what happened. Now my t-shirt has a nice tie-dye effect thanks to the random juice flying all over the place when I was trying to squeeze the life out of the lemon (or perhaps it was taking the life out of my hands, who knows). Times like these I wish I wasn't so lazy to take out my juicer...but I am so I suffer the consequences. Oh well... at least it was just one of those raggedy t-shirts I wear around the house.

In the end it was all worth it! If you love lemony anything, this will for sure make your mouth water and if you accidentally eat the whole thing, good news, its not as damaging as say...an entire pint of ice cream. As the ice cream maker is churning away, already you get hit with the lemon, citrus fruit aroma. The Greek yogurt gives it a creamier texture and little chunks of Asian pears gives it a nice bite. A cool, light summer dessert to enjoy indeed.

You can even make it a little bit more exciting by adding a splash of vodka or limoncello to the mix.


Lemon Sorbet with Asian Pear
adapted from Taste of Home: Lemon Sorbet
Ingredients
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup coconut water
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 4-6 oz plain Greek yogurt
  •  lemon zest (optional)
  • 1 Asian pear, diced into little chuncks
Procedures:
  1. In a small sauce pan over medium, cook and stir sugar and water until mixture comes to a boil. Turn down the heat and let it simmer for about 2 more minutes (uncovered). Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature.
  2. Stir in lemon juice, zest, pears, and yogurt and freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturers instructions (approximately 30-35 minutes for me). Transfer to freezer container and freeze for an additional 4 hours before serving. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Nectarine Crumb Cake!

Where has the time gone? I swear it was a blink of an eye, but how did we get to the end of summer so quickly?! I was driving home the other day and ducks/geese were already starting to head south for the winter…what? I’m still caught up in the mist of summer.

Clearly I like to live in delusion….

Whatever the case, because it is near the end of summer, stone fruits are in full fled! We have a little “garden” at my work and its filled with all sorts of little treasures. Fruit trees hidden in the shrubs, one day I will gather enough caring souls to bring the garden to life! It’s truly a shame that that no one at work really knows about that little area. It’s filled with all sorts of fruits: pomegranates, peaches, apples, lemons, limes, tangerines, and today’s star: nectarines!

The tree is covered! I felt like a little kid all giddy picking the nectarines off the tree. What's better than using locally grown fruits (not to mention organic too!) to make your tasty desserts?! I cannot let those poor fruits just fall to the ground, they must be enjoyed and I will bring awareness!

Okay, now onto my experiment, nectarine crumb cake! After gathering my basket, which really was a plastic Safeway bag, of goodies, I set to work. Time to find a recipe worthy of these luscious fruits. Finally after filtering through a bunch of different nectarine related recipes, I settled for 2 and combined the elements I liked to create this one. I think it turned out more like a coffee cake more than anything but I like the name crumb cake better. Either way, its nothing short of delicious and its super easy! Another win for the inner lazy!

Nectarine Crumb Cake
Adapted from Nectarine Golden Cake and Nectarine Brown Butter Buckle
Ingredients:
For cake:
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 stick butter
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3-4 nectarines, pitted and cut into ¼” slices
For streusel:
  • 2-3 tbsp butter
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds
  • Pinch of salt

Procedures:
For streusel:
  1. Brown butter by melting it at medium heat. Stir until butter turns golden brown. Remove from heat and let it cool before proceeding.
  2. Once butter is cooled, add in all the other ingredients and mix until it begins to crumble. Set aside
For cake:
  1. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt
  2. Beat butter and sugar together with electric mixer until fluffy. Add in 1 egg at a time, mix and then add in extracts. At low speed, mix in flour until well combined
  3. Layer on nectarines. Top with streusel and sliced almonds.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

SF Street Food Festival 2013 + Embarcadero Center/Piers

SF Street Food Festival, we meet again! I look forward to this every year, or at least since I’ve known of its existence about 3 years ago. How can anyone not be excited about a street filled with all sorts of delicious, tasty, and mouth watering treats?! Not to mention also very affordable, prices ranging from $3-$8 per dish. Nothing but good eats, the best kind of festival there is!

This annual event takes place in the Mission District of San Francisco where food enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, and vendors all gather down several blocks to celebrate the joy that is food! The streets are filled with people and everyone’s got something delicious to enjoy, foods from all over the world. Infusions of dishes you can’t even begin to imagine.

This year I decided I was going to do a little research before embarking on my journey. I needed to be smart, my stomach can only hold so much (I’m not going to lie, I may have also stuffed a zip-lock in my purse that day…just in case, you never know. Yah, I know I have a problem). I figured it be best that I scope out the potential vendors so I don’t fill my tummy early and not get to eat the starlets of festival. To save you from the grueling details, let’s just skip to the best part: the food!

Here are my personal highlights from the day:
(*) were the recommended dishes from various websites during the researching process


Bini’s Kitchen*: Turkey Momos
Nepalese turkey dumplings, with spicy tomato cilantro sauce, very moist and very delicious

State Bird Provisions*: Garlic Bread with Burrata
Possibly the best garlic bread I’ve ever eaten in my life! No joke, this is a must try. Not only are they visually pleasing, but the bread is amazing. Slight crisp, borderline crunchy, on the outside and soft, warm, and chewy on the inside. I’m not sure I like the burrata (Italian cheese made with mozzarella and cream) as much with the bread but it was pretty good by itself.

Lers Ros Thai: Thai Iced Tea
Thai ice tea was so common, it was nothing special. I was just thirsty and wanted something to start my journey.

Onigilly*: Spicy Shrimp Japanese Rice Ball Wrap
Cooked bay shrimp mixed with spicy aioli and Pollock roe with brown rice.

KoJa Kitchen: Kamikaze Fries & Korean BBQ Beef Koja (sandwich):
Crisscut Fries topped with korean bbq beef, sauteed onions, kimchi green onions, and drizzled with our signature sauce and japanese mayo

Korean BBQ Beef korean bbq beef with sauteed onions, sesame vinaigrette slaw, drizzled with our signature sauce and served in toasted hand-made rice buns
I almost wanted to buy their whole truck…luckily, or rather unfortunately, I was getting rather full by the time I got there. I would go back in a heart beat. So genius to make buns out of rice!

Three Twins Ice Cream: Mocha Difference
Caffeinated coffee with flecks of dark chocolate, gotta finish with something sweet and strong.

Until we meet again food festival, you will be missed.

So after successfully stuffing my face, I suppose it’s only reasonable to attempt to walk around so my appetite will perhaps find its way back to me. The goal is to always make room for more food. 
Where to venture to? The piers by the Embarcadero Center were a nice place to start. I’ve only been in this area one other time and that time, it was dark and closed. Not much excitement or things to see…it was somewhat later in the night when I came. However, near sunset, beautiful!

Took a bunch of pictures and I will let those speak for themselves.
This was my favorite picture of the day, a shot I took standing off Pier 14. Perfect view.

I love the shape of that building on the far left. Sometimes you just have to admire architecture.

Unfortunately because I went out to play, there is no recipe to share for this post, but it does give me a new idea to start a new segment in my blog dedicated to travels and good eats. Hmm...

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Dark Chocolate Covered Almond Pistachios!

Have you ever made something and had leftover ingredients. I know I have. No matter what the recipe, sometimes you just end up with tad bits of batter, butter, frosting, sugar, or in this case (eclairs), chocolate!

What to do with leftover melted chocolate… hmm… I can make hot chocolate, drizzle it onto ice cream, or simply lick by the spoonful OR I can be inventive and make some chocolate coated nuts! Actually it was a while ago when I accidentally fell upon this. I believe it was my chocolate raspberry torte experiment and during clean up I dumped the leftover almond bits into the leftover melted chocolate and set it aside to be dealt with later. Who knew what I came back to was something amazing.


It seemed rather wasteful to toss out perfectly good consumable food, so I scraped the chocolate covered almond bits off the bowl and threw a piece in my mouth. WOW! Why didn't I think of this before?! Delicious accidental discoveries are the best.

So now I present to you, dark chocolate covered almond pistachios! Feel free to replace dark chocolate with milk chocolate if you're not a dark chocolate lover like I am. Either way, the results will be mouth watering (unless you're allergic to nuts...in which case, do not attempt!).


Ingredients:
  • leftover melted chocolate (or about 1-2 oz bittersweet chocolate chips)
  • 1-2 handful of chopped almonds
  • 1-2 handful of pistachios
Procedures:
  1. Melt chocolate in a double boiler (if haven't done so), remove from heat once melted.
  2. Mix in nuts and spread a thin layer onto a baking sheet lined with wax paper for easy removal.
  3. Let the chocolate covered nuts set or place into the fridge for about 30 minutes or until harden. Cut into desired pieces and enjoy!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Roti Buns!

What is a roti bun and why is there all this hype around it? At least if you live in the bay area, these things have been popping up all over the place. My friends have been raving about them, and at first I was curious. I didn't know what they looked like, in my mind they were these delicate baked goods that must look and taste extraordinary! Well time passed and I've semi-forgotten about them. 

Finally, one sunny afternoon, while I was quickly trying to escape the mall, I ran across the bakery (Honey Berry) that sells them at the food court! Hurray! I excitedly glanced around looking for things that may appear like the roti buns I've envisioned in my head... quite disappointingly, all I saw were these whimpy looking buns and my thought was... what?! That's it?! All that and these are the oh so glorious roti buns everyone is raving about. How anticlimactic. 

Despite its rather unimpressive exterior, I decided not to judge a book by its cover and buy one to taste for myself. I wasn't expecting much but when I bit into it, I was hooked! It was so good! Warm, light, fluffy, and only slightly sweet so its not overbearing, I was shocked. Slightly ashamed I thought they were unworthy. Now we've also confirmed, definitely never judge a book or people or food or anything by its covers. What's inside could be a surprise. 

So I don't think I've fully answered the question of what a roti bun is still, but rather just provided a random side story of my personal experiences. So I guess if I had to describe them, they are these simple sweet breads that has a thin coffee crust layer baked onto it and sometimes its stuffed with some sort of butter filling (i.e. chocolate, cream cheese, etc). It definitely doesn't look like anything special but they are quite a treat when you do come across one. They remind me a little bit of Mexican sweet bread, but its not as dense. They also remind me of a Hong Kong bread called pineapple bun but not as sweet. Its somewhere in between those two but if you like either of the breads I've mentioned, you'll like this one.

I've never made bread in my life. It always seemed too labor intense and all that waiting around for the yeasts to do its thing... I guess when it comes to food, I don't like waiting too much. I didn't know this was going to be the case when I set out for this experiment. That'll teach me to leap before looking. Oh well, gotta start sometime, can't avoid breads forever, mind as well start with something fun.

Let me just say, this was definitely no walk in the park! I must've gotten confused and lost at least a couple of times during this whole process... no offense to the person who I got this recipe from... but it was a bit confusing. Perhaps it was not a good recipe for a beginner bread maker to try. As always, when I get lost, I try to make it easier for future others like me to avoid getting lost by adding commentary to the recipe I played with. Good luck!

I will definitely try to make these again, but maybe not this recipe in particular... my results were only mediocre. Though they were still very yummy, they were not the roti buns I've had at the mall...the trials will continue. (Here is another recipe that I'll probably be trying next time: Roti Buns by Misty Yoon)

Roti Buns: 
Makes 10 small buns
(commentary in orange)

For the dough:
  • 250g bread flour (roughly 1 1/2 cup)
  • 38g caster sugar ( ~ 1/4 cup)
  • 3g salt (~1/4 tsp)
  • 4g yeast (~1/2 package)
  • 1/2 beaten egg (...still don't know if this means 1/2 an egg that's beaten OR 1 egg that's slightly beaten ... I used 1 egg slightly beaten...take your interpretation)
  • 135g fresh milk (~3/4 cup)
  • 30g butter (~ 2 tbsp)
For the filling:
  • 100g butter (softened) (~ 1 stick/8tbsp)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 35g brown sugar
For the topping:
  • 50g butter (~ 1/2 stick/4 tbsp)
  • 40g icing sugar
  • 38g beaten eggs (~ 1/2 an egg)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated coffee dissolve with 1 teaspoon water (I suggest 2 tsp because I couldn't taste or smell coffee flavor in mine)
  • pinch of cinnamon powder (optional)
  • 50g plain flour
Procedures:
  1. For the filling: using an electric mixer beat the butter and brown sugar until light and pale until the sugar totally dissolved. Add in the vanilla extract for the final beating. Place the mixture into the fridge until it harden (I shaped it into a form that would later be easier to divide before placing it in the fridge to set). Divide the harden mixture into 10 portions and sit in the fridge until ready to use.
  2. For the toppings: beat the softened butter with icing sugar until everything well combine. Gradually add in beaten eggs then the coffee mixture. Add in pinch of cinnamon powder with the flour and beat everything until well incorporate. Place the mixture into a piping bag and keep in the fridge until ready to use.
  3. For the dough: knead all the ingredients together except butter. When the dough become a smooth dough add in butter and continue the the kneading process until the dough become smooth and elastic but not sticky (and it was sticky!...just keep going...and I also added some flour in the kneading process to make it less sticky... perhaps the recipe did call for 1/2 an egg after all...). I used a standing kneading mixer to knead for approximately 30 minutes at speed 2 (I did  not... maybe that's another reason why my buns weren't exceptionally great).
  4. Divide the dough into 10 little doughs and shape it into round ball shape. Let it rest for 15 minutes before add in the filling.
  5. Roll out each doughs to a flat disc and add the butter filling. Seal it tightly. (make sure you seal it tightly otherwise it will split out during baking) (its also safe to make sure not to place the stuffing too close to the edges of the dough either because it will burst while baking...trust me...)
  6. Place each doughs on a baking tray, make sure they sit a part from each other because they might stick to each other during the baking. Cover the doughs with cling film and proof for 50 - 60 minutes (Mine didn't do much rising during this time, so I suggest either letting them rest longer in step 4 OR let these rest longer than 60)
  7. Before the doughs place into the oven, pipe out the filling in a spiral start from the top center of each buns. Bake for 12 minutes at 200'C preheated oven. (I baked at 375F degrees for 15 minutes)