Monday, December 15, 2008

Pistachio-Cranberry Biscotti

Holiday season is here! Small cakes and cookies are great gifts for distant family, and biscotti are perfect because they are light and sturdy: they can easily be sent by mail. The word biscotti comes from "bis" or twice, and "cotti," cooked. Biscotti means twice cooked.

These biscotti are Christmas colored because they have green pistachio and red cranberries! I recommend toasting the pistachios before using them to concentrate their flavor. Also, don't use salted nuts. The recipe only makes 12 biscotti, but as they rather time consuming (1.5-2 hours), I like to double the recipe because they keep for a long time in an airtight container (don't refrigerate).

This recipe is from Joy of Baking, as usual, my comments appear in [brackets.]

  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup pistachios [toasted for 8-10 minutes in a 325 oven if possible]
  • 1/2 cup cranberries
  1. [Toast nuts acording to directions above.]
  2. With a mixer, mix eggs, sugar, and vanilla until thick, pale, and frothy for about 5 minutes in a large bowl.
  3. In a small-medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  4. Add to the egg mixture and beat until combined.
  5. Fold in the chopped pistachios and cranberries.
  6. Transfer the dough to your parchment lined baking sheet and form into a log, [about 2-3 inches tall]. You may have to dampen your hands to form the log as the dough is quite sticky.
  7. Bake for 25 minutes [I needed 40], or until [a knife poked in comes out clean, better to overbake than underbake. If necessary, cover with foil to prevent burning]
  8. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes.
  9. Slice into 3/4 inch (2 cm) slices, on the diagonal. Place the biscotti, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes, turn slices over, and bake for another 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool. Store in an airtight container.
This recipe can be used as an all-pupose biscotti recipe. Use 1.2 cup nuts, 1/2 cup dried fruit or chocolate. If using almonds, replace vanilla with 1/2 tsp of almond extract. You can also dip the biscotti in chocolate for added yummyness!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Poll Results! Do you actually stuff the Turkey?

Yes, I cook the stuffing in the turkey
3 (27%)
No, I heat it separately so the turkey cooks faster
5 (45%)
I don't eat turkey for Thanksgiving
1 (9%)
I don't eat stuffing for thanksgiving
1 (9%)
I don't celebrate Thanksgiving at all
1 (9%)

Votes so far: 11

Soo, Thanksgiving theme returned! As you can tell, most people do NOT stuff the turkey. Well, this year I celebrated Turkey Day with my family and family friends, and we did in fact stuff the turkey with as much stuffing as possible and heated the remaining stuffing separately. The surprising part (to me) was that the stuffing cooked inside the turkey wasn't as good as the one cooked separately because it was all mushy, while last year the stuffing from the turkey was much tastier. I think this is because we made this year's stuffing from soft bread, and it soaked up all the turkey juice and became mushy. Last year the stuffing was based on dry cornbread that benefited from a turkey juice bath.
Because I am not the one who makes the stuffing or cooks the turkey, I can't really give a verdict on which option is better, but I do know is that turkey and stuffing and all the other Thanksgiving foods are delicious.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Honey-Citrus Gingerbread

I know, I know, I should be posting about Thanksgiving and turkey and all that, but everyone else is doing it. How about a change from the pumpkin and potatoes?
This quick bread is based off a french Pains d'Épices, also known as gingerbread, but with more citrus zest and honey flavor. The batter is thick and takes a while to put together and cook, but I think it's worth the effort. Eat it for breakfast with a glass of milk, or slice it thin and dress it with not-too-sweet whipped cream for an elegant dessert. I recommend making it a day early because it gets denser and easier to slice with time. Store it wrapped in foil at room temperature.

If you don't have a scale, get one. Without a scale you can't make most European recipes, and most breads are by weight as well. Get one precise to at least .25 oz or 5 grams for flexibility.


Main ingredients:
  • 130g all-purpose flour (4.6 oz)
  • 70g Rye flour (2.5 oz) (The rye can be replaced with regular flour, but I think it improve the loaf. And it's traditional!)
  • 40g brown sugar (1.4 oz)
  • 100g butter, melted (about 7 tbsp)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup raisins
Flavorings (This is where you can be creative, use your imagination and cupboard to find your favorite combination):
  • 250g honey (8.8 oz)
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • anise seed, cloves (to your taste, can be ommitted)

Putting it together:
  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Combine Flavorings in a saucepan and heat until the honey starts to bubble. Lower heat and cook for aout 5 minutes.
  • Combine both flours, sugar, and baking powder in a medium bowl.
  • Add the honey mixture and melted butter to the flour and blend completely.
  • Let cool 5 minutes and add the egg and milk.
  • Stir in raisins.
  • Pour into a greased 9x5 loaf pan, bake 55-60 miutes. If the top starts to darken too much, cover with a piece of foil.
  • The loaf is done when an inserted kife comes out clean.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Poll Results (Finally): Favorite frozen dessert

Ice Cream (any kind)
8 (53%)
Sorbet (no dairy, made with fruit)
4 (26%)
Frozen Yogurt
3 (20%)

Votes so far: 15

Unsurprisingly, ice cream won! Yeah, ice cream is just so good... Sorbet is tasty too, but it is often too sweet for my taste buds.
Most Frozen yogurts try to pass themselves offf as ice cream with a healthy twist, but they often just end up tasting bland. However, there is a shop called Red Mango in downtown PA (and other places, see link) that sells real frozen yogurt. It actually tastes like yogurt! It's sweet and tangy with the unmistakable flavor of yogurt. Red Mango frozen yogurt comes with toppings like fruit or granola or chocolate. When I went, I got raspberry and (of course) mango.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Wild Yeast Pain de Mie

Pain de mie is the french name for sandwich or Pullman bread. In other words, it is soft, tender bread baked in a loaf pan. I made this one with some of my wild yeast starter, adding a little instant commercial yeast to guarantee a faster rise. I am not sure is the wild yeast made a difference. The bread was not sour, and I blame this on my local bacteria.
The recipe uses 2 builds, meaning that I first combined the starter with some flour and left it overnight to build flavor, and then added it to the main dough.


The night before:
  • 4 oz milk (11o g)
  • 12 oz starter (340 g)
  • 4 oz whole wheat flour (110 g) [You can use bread flour here, but I prefer the rustic appearance gained by using some whole wheat]
Mix everything together and leave out for about 2 hours (until it doubles in volume. Then, refrigerate it overnight.

The next day:

Take the re-ferment out of the refrigerator 1 hour before making the dough.

  • 3.5-4 oz Bread Flour (110 g) [The amount you will need depends on the moistness of the starter]
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp instant /Fast acting yeast
  • 2 tbsp oil or melted butter
  • 1 tbsp honey [use the same spoon as the oil to create a slick surface. It will be easier to scrape the honey out of the spoon]
  • 1/2-1 cup water [the dough should be soft and slightly sticky, but easy to knead]
Mix well and let rest 10 minutes. Knead for 10 minutes by hand, or in a mixer for 5 minutes. Form into a ball and spray the dough with oil and let proof (rise) for about 2 hours. The dough should almost double.
Degas the dough and form into a loaf either by rolling the dough into a cylinder or another method of your choice.
Place loaf into an oiled loaf pan (small) and ferment (let rise) for another 2.5 hours.
Make a slit at the top of the loaf to prevent cracks and bake for 30-45 minutes at 350F. The loaf is done when its center reaches 195F.
Cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing because the center is still cooking.

This bread is delicious fresh and goes especially well with cheese.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Buckwheat Pancakes: With Wild Yeast!

Last week I decided to test out my sourdough starter to see it it was sour yet. I wanted to make something easy ans tasty, so I flipped through my secondhand copy of Beard on Bread by James Beard and found a recipe for Yeasted Buckwheat Cakes. My family loves buckwheat (it's what is used for real crèpes,) and the method looked simple.
The recipe called for mixing commercial yeast with flour, salt, and water the night before and adding butter, molasses, and baking soda the next morning. All I did was replace the yeast and part of the flour and water with the barm I made about a months ago.

Ingredients (Feeds 4-6):

The Night Before:
  1. 1 cup liquid sourdough starter*
  2. 1/2 cup All-purpose flour
  3. 1 cup buckwheat flour
  4. 1 1/2 cup water
  5. 1 tsp salt
Mix all the ingredients together in a medium-large bowl. Cover with a cloth or plastic wrap and leave out in a warmish place overnight.

The Morning of:
  1. 1 tbsp melted butter
  2. 2 tbsp molasses
  3. 1/4 tsp baking soda
The flour mixture should have bubbled. Stir it well and add the remaining ingredients. Heat up a griddle to medium-low heat. Cook like you would a pancake, but longer. Check for doneness by Opening one a peeking inside. The interior should be soft but not gooey.
Eat warm with honey, maple syrup, brown sugar, butter, or a combination!

*You can replace the sourdough with 1 package instant yeast, 1/2c flour and a 1/2c water. If your starter is dryer or more solid, diminish the amount used and add more water to make a liquid batter.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Poll Results: Pancakes or Waffles

My dear readers,
I am sorry that I didn't give the results for this a month ago. I was just too busy. But, things should be going back to normal now. I am going to try to give you at least one post per week

Anyways, here are the awaited results (because you couldn't at all see them on the blog before):
6 (33%)
11 (61%)
1 (5%)

Votes so far: 18

This is definitely a record turnout: 18!! So waffles are clearly favored by you all, and by me as well. Either way, they both are delicious with real maple syrup (none of that "breakfast syrup" stuff for me), and you are the person who doesn't like waffles or pancakes, you can still enjoy the wonders of maple syrup. It goes wonderfully with plain yogurt (my dad's idea) and oatmeal.

Please vote on my next poll to express your opinions about frozen desserts with just one click of the mouse!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Yummy chocolate cake!

Last weekend I threw my friend a surprise birthday party, and we made a chocolate cake! The cake was delicious, and it was also my first layer cake with frosting and all that. The recipe was pretty easy, but with a strange ingredient...

I made one change: I replaced the milk with soy milk for my other friend who is allergic to milk. The soy milk left no aftertaste. We were going to halve the recipe, but I accidentally added the full volume of water, so then we just completed he recipe to make the entire cake.
This brings me to the strange ingredient: 1 cup of boiling water. I was surprised when I first saw, but then I noticed that quite a few other recipes for chocolate cake also use boiling water. I am going to try to find out why.

I found this recipe in Sharffen-Berger's Essence of Chocolate "That Chocolate Cake" (the first recipe), and it is also online, but I pasted it in here to facilitate your life

Here is the recipe, copied straight from Sharffen Berger (with my comments in [brackets])



  • Unsalted butter and flour for pans
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup Scharffen Berger unsweetened natural cocoa powder [really, any brand works, just make sure it's unsweetened]
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup boiling water


  • 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 5 ounces Scharffen Berger 99% Cacao Unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped [Once again, any brand. I used 100% from Ghirardelli]
  • 8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


For the Cake:

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter the bottom of two 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom with parchment paper, then butter and flour the parchment and the sides of the pans.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder, and baking soda, mixing on low speed. Min in the eggs, oil, and milk.

Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and mix in the water. The batter will be soupy.

Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. [I baked them 25 minutes in a convection oven]

Remove from the oven and cool on a cooling rack for 5 minutes, then turn the layers out onto the rack and cool completely.

When the cakes have cooled, check the frosting. It should have the consistency of mayonnaise. If it is still too thin, allow it to cool longer. [See, I didn't read the last instruction and didn't wait long enough]

For the Frosting:

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and cream and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat and simmer for 6 minutes. Add the chocolate and butter and stir until melted. Pour into a bowl and stir in the vanilla. [If the frosting starts curdling like mine, just beat it continuously for a few minutes. When it cools it will be normal again.]

To Frost the Cake:

[it will be a lot easier to frost the cake if you let the frosting cool one hour before hand]

Place one cake layer on a serving plate. Spread the frosting with a hot palette knife or icing spatula to give the frosting a beautiful shine. Run the knife under hot tap water and dry with a towel. Spread about ¾ cup of the frosting over the top of the first layer. Top with the second layer. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake, heating the knife again as necessary.

Serves 8 to 10

Note: The cake was soft and fluffy when fresh, and after three days in the refrigerator it was denser and more intense. You choose.
Also, if the cake is fresh, I recommend slicing it with a serrated bread knife, it will tear the cakeless.

Picture time!


Playing with fire!

A slice!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

My Wild Yeast Adventures! Part Two: What do I do now?

So, you have caught your yeast, what do you do with it? Well, the book I use tells me to make a new culture, this time a more permanent one. The author calls it a Barm, and I will too for simplicity's sake.
  • To make barm you take 1 cup from your seed culture (give away or discard the rest) and mix it with 3 1/2 cups high gluten/bread flour and 2 cups water.
  • Transfer the barm to a large clear container at least twice its volume.
  • Let it sit out on the counter until it bubbles and rises some, then put it in the refrigerator.
  • If you do not use it in the following three days (or if you use more than half) you will need to refresh it.
Refreshing is basically feeding the yeast. To refresh the barm first weigh it, the add equal amounts (by mass, not volume) of flour and water to double the weight of the barm. As long as you stay within the doubling and quadrupling zone, the refreshment with be effective. Let it sit out until it bubbles, then refrigerate it. Refreshing will give you another three days.

If don't plan on using the barm to make bread soon you can leave it in the refrigerator for up the 2 months and refresh it 1 or 2 days before using. You can also freeze it for up to 6 months and leave it to defrost overnight in the refrigerator three days before using it. Then refresh it

Sorry this post took so long. I completely forgot to publish it!

Leaving the barm in the refrigerator will not make it become sour. To do that, you must leave it out on the counter (or somewhere else will a relatively constant temperature) and refresh it every 3-4 days.

Friday, August 22, 2008

My Wild Yeast Adventures! Part One: Breeding a Seed Culture

Since I have been making bread a lot lately, I decided a few weeks ago to take it a step further and make sourdough bread. So, on Tuesday of last week (August 12), I followed the instructions in The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart as best as I could to start what he calls a seed culture. Unfortunately I was unable to find the rye flour he called for at the supermarket. Instead, I made a weird combination of flours hoping things would even themselves out.

So, day 1: 1/2 c bread flour, 1/4 c whole wheat flour, 1/4 c buckwheat flour, and 1/2 c water.
I combined them all in a bowl, covered it with plastic wrap, and left it on the counter for about 24 hours.
The next day, I went to see my bowl of goop and noticed something spectacular. There were little bubbles in the culture! I had caught some yeast! This time I followed the exact instructions in my wonderful bread book, meaning that I uncovered it and added flour and water. I then stirred it all up and put it into a tall, vertical plastic container to be able to track the growth of my culture easily.

Day 2: Add 1 cup bread or high-gluten flour (which has more gluten and is much better for this than all-purpose flour) and 1/2 water. The dough was more viscous after the addition.
So, I put the refreshed culture into the plastic container at 2 pm. Three hours later it had more than doubled in size, so I decided to mark the height with a piece of tape. However, before marking it I made the mistake of tapping the side of the container, causing the culture to partially collapse. I marked at the lower level. The next morning I got up to see if it had revived itself, but instead of regaining height it had fallen down to the original level. I was confused and disappointed...
The first picture below is right before the collapse, the second is the next morning. The chronological order of the markings is 2pm, then 5pm, and finally 8am.

I was dispirited by this result, but I decided to continue. When I opened the container the smell of overripe papaya filled my nose. How strange... I threw away half the culture as was instructed in the book, and added some more flour and water.
Day 3: Remove half of the culture (throw away or give to a friend) and add 1 cup of high gluten or bread flour, and 1/2 cup of water. Once again, I poured the mixture into the plastic container, marked the level, and hoped.

24 hours later, on day four, I went to check on my cultivation. There was no rise, and it seemed to have separated into 2 layers, with dark on the top and light on the bottom. This was too much, I couldn't handle it anymore. I gave up. I made plans to throw away, but I never got around too because I was busy. The container just stayed on my counter looking horrible and got worse as the days went by.

Then Wednesday, about a week later, I noticed the culture looked normal again! There were big bubbles all over the surface, and it had risen a bit. I decided to continue my cultivation.

Day 9: I measured the volume of culture I had, 1 1/8 cup. Then I added the usual 1 cup of high-gluten/bread flour and 1/2 cup of water and mixed. I left it to ferment in the bowl for 24 hours while I gave the plastic container a good wash.

The next day it had risen some, so I removed about half (not an easy feat) and added flour and water. Because I was tired of dealing with liquid culture, I decided to add half the water asked for.
Day 10: Remove half and add 1 cup high gluten/bread flour, add 1/4 water. Stir well and let rest 24 hours.

Today (day 11) I saw a nice rise in the culture, about doubled. This means that I get to go to the next level and make what my book calls Barm, which is just a more diluted way of storing and cultivating the wild yeast and its flavorful bacteria. I will address Barm in the next post.

So, since my way of catching yeast was kind of random and full of guesswork, I will also give you the method from the book The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart. This book is currently my favorite book about bread. I have read at least three times in a few months.

Day 1: Combine 1 cup rye flour and 1 cup water. Let rest at room temperature about 24 hours.

Day 2: Dough will not have risen much. Add 1 cup high-gluten/bread flour and 1/2 cup water to rye mixture. Let rest at room temperature about 24 hours.

Day 3: Dough should have risen some, about 50%. Regardless, discard half of dough. Add 1 cup high-gluten/bread flour and 1/2 cup water to dough. Let rest at room temperature about 24 hours.

Day 4: Wait until dough has at least doubled in volume, more is better. Make barm as will be described in next post.

Have fun! Catch Yeast!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Poll Results! Yellow or Whites Peaches?

Yellow peaches!
5 (55%)
White peaches!
4 (44%)
0 (0%)

Votes so far: 9

Wow, I'm disappointed. Only 9 people voted!

Well, white peaches wins by 1 vote! That's like winning by 6 average states plus a small state!

Personally I prefer yellow peaches because they are juicier, but I'll eat any ripe peach anytime.

At least everyone likes peaches!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies are not chewy, but not crispy either. Nor are they powdery. These are soft cookies. Soft, as in cake-like, light, but not squishy. They would dissolve in your mouth, not melt.

These are some pretty tasty cookies.

I think the reason for the soft texture is that all the ingredients are beaten in. This adds quite a lot of air into the batter, making the final result light. I have been told that to make chewy cookies, the best way is to use melted butter. I don't if if this is true, but seems to make sense. Using melted butter would eliminate the creaming step, therefore incorporating less air into the batter. In turn, the cookie will not rise as much, resulting in a denser, chewier, texture. If you want to try this I the best way would be too mix the melted butter (cooled until you can put your finger in it easily) with the eggs, and combine the sugar with the flour mixture. Then you slowly incorporate the dry ingredients with the egg-butter. Stir or use an electric mixer until you get a smooth dough. If you try this, please tell me about it, I would love to you your results!

I found the cookies to have a slight "baking soda" taste that I did not really like. No one else could taste it, but I think that next time I make the cookies, I will use baking powder.

If you do not know how to cream, please visit my explanation about it.

Now for the recipe: it is Baking Bite's "Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies" with my comments in [brackets]

Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/4 cup all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda [next time I will use 2 tsp baking powder]

3/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup butter, room temperature

1 1/4 cups brown sugar [I used slightly more than 1 cup]

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 large egg

1 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda [powder] and salt. [I sifted everything together, but note that since the recipe does not specify sifted flour in the ingredients list, you should measure the flour unsifted first]

In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light, about 2 minutes.

Beat in vanilla extract and egg until smooth. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add in all the flour mixture, stopping when the dough has just come together and no streaks of flour remain.

Stir in chocolate chips.

Place slightly rounded tablespoons of dough on baking sheet. [here, basically use a tablespoon measuring spoon to scoop out dough and a knife to remove most of the excess]
Bake for 9-11 [it was more around 15] minutes, until just golden around the edges.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. [let the cookies cool 5 minutes on the baking sheet, and then let them cool completely on a rack to prevent the bottom from getting soggy]

Makes 3 dozen.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Peach Crumble

First of all, this is not peach cobbler (recipe). From what I understand from wikipedia, crumbles and crisps have a topping that crumbles and does not have leavening. On the other hand, cobbler is fruit topped with something that is leavened, either cake-like or biscuits.
Anyways, back to the crumble. I found this recipe in Cook's Illustrated (July/August 2006) and I decided to make it for the Fourth of July. The vanilla in the topping was a delicious counterpart to the acidic peaches, but during the hour and a half between the moment when I took it out of the oven and the moment I served it, the topping had dissolved a little into the peaches.


Peach Filling
  • 3 1/2 lbs ripe but firm peaches
  • 0-1/3 cup sugar (depending on how sweet the peaches are)
  • 1 1/4 tsp cornstarch
  • 3-5 tsp lemon juice (depending on how acidic the peaches are)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeng
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt (exclude if using salted butter)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 tbsp butter: soft and cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 c sliced almonds
  1. Slice the peaches into 4-6 slices (about 3/4 inch width at the fattest part)
  2. Toss the peaches with the the sugar (if using) and lemon juice, and let sit while you are making the topping.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees (325 if convection)
  4. Combine flour, sugars, 1/4 cup of almonds, vanilla, and salt in a medium bowl and rub the butter into the flour (this is called cutting the butter into flour)either using your fingertips, a food processor, or a pastry cutter until the mixture forms clumps.
  5. Stir in the remaining almonds.
  6. Transfer mixture to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and spread into a flat, even layer. Bake for 20 minutes.
  7. While the topping is baking, drain some of the peach juice into a small bowl with the cornstarch and spices. Mix the liquid back into the peaches and toss them like a salad.
  8. Transfer the peaches to a 9" pie plat or an 8x8" nonreactive dish (glass is best.)
  9. When topping is baked use a knife or spoon to break it into 1" pieces.
  10. Pick up the parchment paper and pour the topping on top of the peaches. Even out the layer.
  11. Bake for 25-35 minutes, until the fruit is bubbling around the edges.
  12. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Poll Results! Which type of chocolate do you prefer?

6 (50%)
5 (41%)
1 (8%)
No me gusta chocolate!
0 (0%)

Votes so far: 12

Poor little white chocolate, only 1 vote! Here's my theory why: the thing we all love about chocolate is the flavor and feeling we get from it. White chocolate has no cocoa powder, therefore does not taste like chocolate. Personally I like white "chocolate", but dark chocolate just has so many more deep flavors. To you milk chocolate fans, I suppose that you enjoy the sweet creaminess of the light brown squares. I find milk chocolate too sweet, but then again, I find many, many things too sweet, so dark chocolate is the sweet for me.

If dark chocolate is considered a candy, it is my favorite.

Everyone likes chocolate! Yay!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Flaky Pie crust

This pie crust is simple to make, but tastes much much better than store bought. Also, it is very versatile, it can be used for pies, quiches... I recommend you use room temperature butter, either microwaving it at very low power for 30 second bursts, or, if your microwave is dead (me), you can take it out an hour beforehand. This recipe uses one stick of butter and is enough for a 12" quiche or French-style pie (no upper crust). The formula is simple: X weight of butter + 2X weight of flour + salt + least amount of water possible for it to easily form a ball = pie dough!

Ingredients (for one 12 inch crust with sides):
  • 1 stick butter (113g) (room temperature)
  • 226 grams flour (about 8 oz)
  • about 1/4 cup water
  • salt (1/2 teaspoon if salted butter, 1 - 1 1/2 tsp if unsalted)
  1. Cut butter in small cubes (dice sized).
  2. Put flour and salt in a large bowl and mix together.
  3. Add butter, and, using a pinching motion, flatten the butter into the flour (this will create flakiness).
  4. If you have a pastry cutter, use that at the beginning. Once the butter is incorporated, use the pinching motion.
  5. After you have pinched the butter into the flour, add 1/4 cup of water.
  6. Moisten all the flour and form a ball. If the ball does not form easily, you can add more water, a tablespoon at a time.
  7. Remember, the more you handle the dough, the more gluten will form, causing chewiness instead of crispness.
  8. Wrap the ball of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least an hour (you can do this a day in advance and refrigerate the dough until you use it)
  9. Flour a hard, cold surface (the counter) and roll out the dough to 13-14". If you have one of those silicone baking sheets, or something similar, use it.
  10. Slide a thin, solid under the dough. I use a plate or the bottom of removable bottom pan.
  11. Oil the pan you will cook the pie in.
  12. Pick up the dough with the plate underneath and flip it onto the pan.
  13. Even out the edge, cut off the excess on the sides and use it to reinforce thin parts.
Now either fill it, or pre-bake it (blind baking). Blind baking is useful for things like custard pies that need to be cooked at a very low temperature, or pies that are not cooked at all. First cut a peice of parchment paper the size of the pie and place it inside. Add weights or beans/rice inside and bake for 20 minutes at 425. Here is more information.

Broccoli Quiche

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Savory Chocolate: Cocoa Rubbed Chicken Skewers with Mole-Chocolate Sauce

So, this month I am participating for the first time in Dispensing Hapiness's BLOGPARTY!
This month is themed as Chocolate, so I just had to join. Blogparties are a virtual party, and to participate, you have to make an appetizer and a drink. For the appetizer I made chicken kabobs rubber with cocoa and salt and chocolate-mole sauce to accompany it. I would have made a chocolate soda (chocolate syrup with sparkling water), but I never got around to it! Oh well, I made it in spirit.

This time my method for giving you the recipe is a bit different from usual. Instead of writing out the recipe here and having a couple of pictures on Flikr, I have a picture of every step and the instruction written in the title/description of the picture. Tell me how it works!

For the rub, I followed the instructions in the Sharffen-Berger "The Essence of Chocolate" for the cocoa rub (2 parts cocoa for 1 part salt), but my family and I found it too salty. Also I made way more than I needed, so I scaled down the recipe and decreased the salt a bit for you. Otherwise, the chicken was very flavorful. It is necessary to start out with a very hot barbecue and then lower the temperature to have a crunchy exterior.

For the sauce (which I recommend you make 2 hours advance so that you don't have to bother with it while you are cooking the chicken) I just put together a few ingredients that I felt would go well with chocolate, inspired by mole. Again, I made more than I needed, but I have not scaled down the recipe here.
After cooking the sauce and tasting it regularly, my stomach starting feeling sick with the combination. I was unable to eat it with or without the chicken. On the other hand, my family loved it, especially my dad who declared that it complemented the skewers perfectly!

Anyways, here are the ingredients

  • 5 oz good quality dark chocolate
  • 1 anaheim pepper
  • 1/2 jalapeño pepper
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 (14-14.5 oz) can of diced/crushed tomatoes
  • olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • Instructions/pics
Chicken skewers:
  • 1/4 c cocoa powder (unsweetened, not Dutch-processed)
  • 3 tbsp salt
  • 1.1-1.2 lbs of boneless skinless thighs (you can use breasts if you really want)
  • Instructions/pics

And for the non-existent chocolate soda
  • Put 1-2 tbsp chocolate syrup in a tall glass and fill it with sparkling water
  • An ice cream scoop is optional
Have fun with savory chocolate!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Watermelon Juice

More pics!

It's refreshing and it tastes like watermelon. What is it? Watermelon!!! umm, or watermelon juice...
Warning: it tastes even more like watermelon than a slice of watermelon.
So, here are the instructions:
  • Buy some watermelon, seedless is best. If it is already chopped up, lucky you! If it is not, cut it following the instruction here.
  • Place about 2 cups of cubed watermelon in a blender and blend until it is smooth.
  • I recommend straining the juice to remove pieces of seeds (Even seedless melons have those small yellow seeds!), and pulp.
  • Drink with ice cubes!
DO NOT ADD SUGAR UNTIL YOU HAVE TASTED THE JUICE!!! Watermelons are very sugary and you will not need to add sugar unless your teeth are very very sweet.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Poll Results! What is your favorite pizza?

Pizza Chicago's (Deep Dish)
5 (33%)
Amici's (Thin Crust)
6 (40%)
Round Table (in between)
2 (13%)
School Pizza! (Oily pizza, average crust)
0 (0%)
1 (6%)
Ewww, pizzaaaa!!!!
1 (6%)

Votes so far: 15 !!!

Sooo, Amici's (or at least thin crust) won! Good job! When I voted, I chose Pizza Chicago's, but ever since I started making my own pizza it's a tie.
Someone actually does not like Pizza! But no one prefers school pizza above the rest (I wonder why?). Anyways, good job everyone, this is a record number of votes!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Another blog for you to read!

Ever scratched your head at cookbooks when they say things like "Cream the butter with the sugar" or ever wondered why bread rise? I have created a new blog for you to read that will hopefully answer these questions. The new blog is Help me Happy! An Explanation of Cooking. I will probably not post there as often as here, but if you have any specific questions, just ask them as a comment on Help me Happy!
I hope it will be useful to you!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Light and Crispy Waffles

More pics!

This recipe is from Catherine Martineau, who says she got it from Bon Appetit the magazine. It's a great recipe if you are looking for airy and crispy waffles; they are not floppy or soggy.
The recipe Originally called for Self-rising flour, but since I don't believe in Self-rising flour, I translated it into all-purpose. If you have self-rising flour just leave out the baking powder and salt.
I made the 15-17 waffles batter and it fed about 7 people.

Here is a handy chart:

# of Waffles (7" diameter)8-1215-1717-20
Flour2 cups3 cups4 cups
Baking powder3 tsp4 1/2 tsp6 tsp
salt1/2 tsp3/4 tsp1 tsp
milk1 1/2 cups2 1/4 cups3 cups
vanilla extract1 tsp1 1/2 tsp2 tsp
melted butter1/6 cup1/4 cup (2 tbsp)1/3 cup
oil1/6 cup1/41/3 cup

  1. Separate the eggs putting the yolks in a large bowl and the whites in a medium bowl.
  2. Add the milk and the vanilla extract to the yolks.
  3. In another medium bowl whisk the dry ingredients (the first three) together, then add them to the wet ingredients (the egg yolks, milk ...).
  4. Add the melted butter and oil to the batter and whisk until smooth.
  5. Beat the egg whites, and fold them into the batter. To fold into the batter use a whisk and, with a rotary motion, gently pile batter on top of the egg whites and pull the egg whites into the batter.
  6. Keep doing this until the batter is smooth.
  7. Heat the waffles irons and cook to desired doneness. (I like brown and crunchy)
I recommend you use real maple syrup on these waffles. The Aunt Jemima's stuff just doesn't taste good. Powdered sugar or jams also work fine. If you are a fan of maple syrup, heating it in the microwave before pouring it onto the waffle helps retain heat and makes the syrup less viscous.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Revision of the Baked Sandwich Recipe

While making the Baked Sandwich for the second time, I decided to skip the second rise to see the outcome. Well, the result is that my sandwich was easier to handle and stretch out to form the sandwich, and it ended up being twice as high as the original version!
The second rise is unnecessary and actually bad for this recipe, so I have changed the main post accordingly.

The higher rise may be because the first time I made this sandwich, I let the dough rise in a oven that was too hot, but the dough rose so much this time with only one hour to rise that the second rise would be redundant.

In this sandwich I added cheese, and in the photo you can see it leaked a little.

The Recipe is here.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Nectarine (Peach) Cobbler

More pics!

It's memorial day weekend, we go up to Tahoe for three days. I visualize myself hiking under the sun in shorts and a T-Shirts. No such luck: the heater is broken and is lightly snowing. The temperature outside is 1 degree Celcius.

Whatever happened to Global Warming???

Since when does it snow at Tahoe in late May???

So what do I do? Make Warm Nectarine Cobbler! Served after Catherine Martineau's (a fabulous cook) delicious Clam Chowder, this dessert really warmed our bellies.

Nectarine Cobbler (adapted from Cook's Illustrated "Fresh Peach Cobbler"

Cobblers are different from crumbles; crumbles are made by covering fruit with crumbs, while cobblers are fruit with biscuits baked on top. The biscuits in this recipe are very soft and tender. I used nectarines instead of peaches because I did not want to bother peeling the fruit. Also, since the area around Lake Tahoe is very dry, I added another 2-3 tablespoons of yogurt to the biscuit dough because they wouldn't come together.

So, here's the recipe:


2 1/2 lbs of ripe but not mushy nectarines (about 6-8 small ones)
1/4 cup (less) sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tbsp lemon juice (I used orange juice)

1 cup flour
3 tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
5 tbsp cold butter cut up into small cubes
1/3 cup plain whole milk yogurt (like Pavel's russian, more liquid than greek-style)

  1. Since you are using nectarines, you don't have to peel them! Just wash them and slice them into a 9" circular pan, or and 8x8" (glass is best, really) until the pan is full. You might not need to use all the fruit.
  2. Transfer them to a bowl and toss them with the sugar. Let them rest for 30 minutes.
  3. While the nectarines are macerating, pre-heat the oven to 425F.
  4. After half an hour, check if the fruit has spewed a lot of juice. If you think there is more than 1/4 cup, drain a little of it.
  5. Combine the lemon juice with the cornstarch and mix it with the nectarines.
  6. Put them back into the pan and bake for 10 minutes.
  7. While the nectarines are cooking, make the biscuits: Combine the flour, sugar, leaveners, salt.
  8. Add the butter and either pulse it with the flour in a food processor, cut it in with a nifty gadget like the one in the picture (a pastry cutter), or use your fingers. Whatever the method, it should look like breadcrumbs(ish) (Kinda like >this)
  9. Now add the yogurt and mix it until it forms a ball (blob).
  10. When the nectarines are out of the oven, divided the dough into six and scoop it over the fruit. Don't let the blobs touch each other.
  11. Bake for 16-18 minutes (20 in altitude)
So, we got this cool gadget, very useful for cutting butter into flour. Cutting butter into flour is used in pie crusts, biscuits, this recipe, and more.
It's extremely easy to use, just slice the cold butter into small cubes and press the pastry cutter in and out of the flour and butter until the butter is well incorporated.
Here is a good article.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Whole Wheat Flatbread Stuffed with Tomatoes, Basil and Turkey

A.K.A bread dough baked around tomatoes and ham. I call it a baked sandwich, but "Stuffed Flatbread" sounds so much fancier!
This recipe is very flexible; just follow the instructions for the bread dough, but fill it with anything you would put in a hot sandwich. I think onions, cheese, and bell peppers would be good, or pizza style with tomato sauce and mozzarella. Use your imagination! I calculated that a half cup of whole wheat flour would be enough for one sandwich, so I decided to make dough with 1 cup and form two sandwiches. I cooked one immediately after the second rise, but I froze the other one after the rise to be cooked the next day. I left it on the counter during the night before the day I wanted to eat, and baked it in the morning. The dough pooled a bit, but it tasted the same as the first one.

Bread dough (for 2 sandwiches):
  • 1 cup whole wheat
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2-3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp yeast (about half a packet)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup warm milk
  1. Combine the yeast, milk, and sugar; mix well.
  2. Combine flour and salt
  3. Add milk mixture and water to the flour; mush everything together with your hands and knead until the dough is smooth and holds together well, about five minutes. (The dough will be sticky at the beginning)
  4. Let the dough rise in a warm spot for an hour (I tried letting it rise in an oven I had heated to 200F and then turned off, but the dough developed a crust on top; I also tried this for the second rise, but the oven beneath was turned on and the bread had started cooking, the second time I made the recipe I turned the oven on to 150F and turned it off when the air inside felt mildly warm to my hand.)
  5. Form a ball with the dough and divide it into two.
  6. Flour a flat surface and stretch out the dough to form 6" squares.
  7. Place your filling of choice on one half of the dough and fold the other half on top.*
  8. Don't make it rise a second time! Just bake it!
  9. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes (depends how stuffed it is; just don't let it burn)
*After step four you can wrap the sandwich with parchment/wax paper and put it inside a plastic bag and freeze. Leave it to defrost on the counter during the night to bake it in the morning, but don't just place it in the oven because if you do, the frozen from the water will steam the bread instead of baking it.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Confit de Canard

More pics here

Never heard of it? It's French! It was invented as a way to preserve duck meat. It is similar to canned peaches if you replace the peaches with duck thighs and the syrup with duck fat. Are disgusted already? Well, don't be, it's delicious! My parents bring cans back from France sometimes, and my mother cooks it wonderfully.
The duck is lifted out of the fat and either roasted in the oven or in a pan on the stove. My mother usually uses the oven, but tonight she used the stove. We found the problem with the stove is that the duck sticks to the bottom of the skillet. Traditionally, the duck is accompanied with potatoes pan fried in part of the duck fat! This adds a deep flavor to otherwise bland potatoes. To cook the potatoes, first boil them for 10 minutes, slice them up, and then pan fry them.
Complemented by a simple salad, this dish is perfect for cold weather or just an evening of indulgence. Read more on Wikipedia! Be a wikinerd!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Chocolate Raspberry Scones

More pics on Flikr!

Sounds good eh? Well, they were ok. They tasted fine, a bit too sweet for breakfast though. If I ever make them again, I'll leave out the chocolate chips and add more raspberries. My main problem is that weren't scony. The crust was too hard and the inside that chewy. I don't know; I Wasn't crazy about them.
The recipe (from used yogurt, which is not a traditional part of scone physiology, and this might have caused the unsconeness. Another possible cause of the crust may have been that I made the dough Friday night and left the formed scones in the oven programmed to turn on in the morning. This system usually works, but a problem is that the scones are in the oven while it is preheating. This should not have formed a crust though because it did the opposite of crust-making. A hard exterior is usually produced by a too high temperature, but I used a lower temperature than the recipe asked for because I have a convection oven. So I'm confused, but whatever.
If you do not mind crusty scones, here is the good but not amazing recipe at

Note: I used frozen raspberries from a fine brand "Wyman's" They always work when I use them in recipes, but as the website says, they did break and bleed into the dough.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Poll Results! Fudgy or Cakey Brownies?

9 (75%)
3 (25%)
Don't like brownies!!
0 (0%)

Votes so far: 12

Fudgy wins! Why am I not surprised that 100% like brownies?
Personally I prefer fudgy, just like those two-bite brownies you can buy at the store. Soo tasty. They melt in your mouth, ladden with the flavor of brown-- I mean chocolate. Mmmm now I want brownies :(
Well, May fete Parade this Saturday! It's at 10am in Downtown PA. Come watch (or listen to) the Band! (yes I know, as Connie would say, "Shameless Advertising."

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Monkey Bread

More pictures here!

Bread for Monkeys! (I wouldn't give mine away, too tasty) Monkey bread is, in short, blobs of of yeasted bread dough dipped into butter and then sugar and cinnamon. The balls are piled into a pan and baked to result in a soft, sweet, yeasty, and most of all, addictive dessert or breakfast. The strange name comes from the way it is eaten: by individually pulling off the blobs with your fingers, just like a monkey eating lice of its neighbor's head. Some recipes substitute store-bought biscuit dough instead of the homemade yeast bread for the sake of time, but my family and I love the addictive flavor of yeast. The dough is easy to make, so I think the extra flavor and texture is worth the time.

So, the recipe is adapted from Cook's Country, but really any soft bread recipe will do. For example, I had a leftover egg yolk in the refrigerator from the soufflé, so I added it at the same time as the yeast mixture. If you add a whole egg though, you might need to compensate with extra flour.
The recipe said to use one cup of brown sugar and one stick of butter for the coating, but that seemed a lot to me. I prepared only a half cup of cinnamon sugar, but I melted the entire stick of butter. After having dipped all the little blobs, I had used exactly all the sugar, but I had a lot of butter left over. If you prefer desserts on the sweeter side, use more sugar, but the entire stick of butter is not necessary. The ratio of sugar to cinnamon I used was strong enough to taste the cinnamon, but not so strong that my mother did not like it. My mother does not enjoy overpowering cinnamon flavor.
Concerning the frosting: At first my mom and I were dubious, but in the end my dad convinced me to make some. I made half the amount from the recipe, a half cup instead of a whole, and added a splash of cinnamon. It truly is a simple glaze; just whisk confectioners sugar with a bit of milk or water; and it begged me for some flavoring.

The recipe used a bundt pan, but I do not have one of those. Instead I used another kind of deep pan, but I'm not sure what it's called. The dough overflowed after the second rise, so I was forced to put part of it in a loaf pan.

By the way, I'm getting more organized! I started a little notebook I'm going to write all my recipes into, and I just received the tripod I ordered! (the pictures here were taken before the tripod arrived though)

Anyways, Ingredients:

  • 1 c. milk
  • 1/3 c. water
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 pkg rapid rise yeast
  • 3 1/3 c. flour
  • 2 tsp salt
Sugar Coating (I used 1/2 cup of brown sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon, but a larger amount with the same ratio works too)
  • 1/2 c –more brown sugar
  • 1 tsp –more cinnamon (find a ratio you like)
  • 3/4 c melted butter
  • 1/2 c confectioners sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk or water
  • a pinch of cinnamon (if you need numbers, how about a 1/4 tsp)


  1. Preheat the oven to 200F. When the temperature is reached, turn off the oven. (later you will let the dough rise inside the warm oven)
  2. In a 2 cup measuring cup mix together the first four dough ingredients together in and microwave all of it on medium until the liquid feels warm to the touch (not hot). This may take 1-2 minutes. The butter will float on top and look gross.
  3. Add the yeast and stir.
  4. Pour the liquid mixture on the salt and flour in a large bowl. This is when you can add any leftover egg or yolk you have.
  5. Combine everything together and knead the dough for about ten minutes. The dough will be very sticky.
  6. Cover the bowl with a cloth or plastic wrap and let the dough rise for an hour in the warm oven (the oven is turned off!)
  7. Butter the Bundt pan.
  8. Prepare the cinnamon-sugar mixture by combining the brown sugar and cinnamon. (Amazing!)
  9. When the dough has finished rising cut it into 64 pieces in the manner described below*.
  10. Melt the butter.
  11. Dip each piece of dough into the butter and then into the sugar-cinnamon. Layer the blobs in the bundt pan.
  12. When all the dough has been dipped and placed into the buttered pan, cover the pan and let the bread rise for another hour.
  13. Uncover and bake for around 30 minutes at 350F.
  14. Let the bread rest 5 minutes, then remove it from the pan.
  15. Make the glaze by whisking together all the ingredients
  16. Eat warm pulling apart the blobs with your fingers and dipping them in the glaze. :)
* To divide the dough evenly, first cut it into fourth, then each quarter in fourth, then each 16th into fourth again.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Just a question...

I have been putting links to flikr for pictures I can't fit into the post, and I'm wondering if you guys are using it/understanding it. Are there any problems with this technique? Thank you for responding!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Cheese Soufflé

more pictures on Flikr!

I made my first soufflé ever on Sunday! Last weekend in the airport my mom and I randomly bought some cooking magazines, and I came across an easy looking recipe for Cheese Soufflé in Bon Appètit. I had always herd that soufflés are really hard, that they always collapse, bla bla bla... but a daunting task is always the most attractive, and so I rose up to the challenge. I mean, how hard could a recipe be?
Since the article was from Bon Appètit, the recipe also appeared on Epicurious, at I cranked up my oven to 400 degrees as instucted and started cooking! First, it asks to make a roux, or sauce made of flour cooked in butter, then adding milk. I had never made a roux before, and had understood I needed to add the flour/butter to the milk instead of the other way around. Luckily my mom was helping me out. I used 2% milk instead of whole (generally the milk fat percentage in cooking is not very important). The roux turned out really weird, it was all sticky shiny, but I guess that's what it's supposed the be. Then I added the egg yolks, paprika, salt, and nutmeg. Note: for the entire roux part, I found it easier to use a wooden spoon than a whisk. Next I folded in the beaten egg whites and freshly grated gruyère.
I buttered and 'parmesaned' four medium ramekins and divided the batter equally between them, and the batter reached a bit over the halfway point before cooking. I placed the ramekins into the oven and lowered the temperature to 375. After 20 minutes of cooking, the soufflés had risen over the ide of the dish, but they were quite dark on top. My dad and I rushed the soufflés to the table and everyone dug in. We were all hungry because the recpe had taken longer than expected. I started cooking at 6:30 and the soufflés finished cooking at 7:25. That's 35 minutes prep and 20 minutes cooking time.
The crust on top of the soufflé was a bit hard, but the inside was light and fluffy. It tasted cheesy and eggy, and it was a delight to eat. We savored this hot cheese fluff with salad and... cheese! (manchego, petit basque, gruyère, and blues, but I don't like blues.)
I agree that soufflés are harder and more time consuming than your average weeknight menu, but they are worth it for a special occasion or weekend. Also, prior cooking experience is highly recommended: I had never made a roux and would have failed it if my mom had not helped me.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Tamagoyaki Part 2!

more pics on Flikr (the last 2 pictures are from the first time in January)
My dad recently came back from a business trip in Japan, and he brought back a rectangular omelet pan! Of course, this made me want to try making tamagoyaki (or rolled omelet) again. Last time it turned out fine, but my dad complained that it did not taste Japanese enough. This time I decided to follow exactly the recipe in the Japanese cookbook I have.
Now for the hard part: rolling the eggs. Because the rectangular pan was bigger than the circular pan I had used, I rolled the omelet in two times instead of three so that a good layer of egg would cover the entire pan. I started on a burner that was smaller than the pan, but the corners were not cooking, so I switched to another burner. I found that rolling in a rectangular pan is much harder than in a circular pan because the edges always stick! Plus, I burned myself on the burner I had stopped using. In the end, the tamagoyaki made in a rectangular pan did not look very different from the one I made in January. I don't recommend going out to buy a rectangular pan just to make this omelet, but since I have one I'll practice with it until I can use it properly.
The recipe I used this time made a more 'Japanese' omelet. Its from "Let's Cook Japanese Food" by Amy Kaneko.
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 1/2 dashi broth (See First Post )
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp soy sauce
  • pinch salt

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Shiny Medal and Tapioca Express!

I won a medal!!!!!!! At the Science Olympiad Regionals! Scioly (Science Olympiads) is a science competition with different events. I participated in Astronomy (bleh) and Food Science(Whee). My partner and I got third place in Food Science out of 14 teams! So, we got shiny bronze medals pictured above. Since the my school got third place in the entire competition, team A (not me) is going to the states competition! To celebrate, we decided to go the Tapex (Tapioca Express). The menu there was very weird... There were several types of drinks, including Snow Bubbles. I don't know what snow bubbles are, but the top of the list was Avocado Bubble :-? That sounds "interesting". These strange snow bubbles and the milk tea sounded filling, and since I was already full, I decided to get honeydew juice. I saw them put slices of honeydew in a blender, and I thought "Ooh, real fruit!" Then I saw them add bright green liquid and sugar the fruit... I ordered the juice with tapioca because I wanted to try tapioca once again.
The drink was good, tasty, but a tad too sweet. The tapioca was amusing. I had trouble chewing it, and I think it grew inside my stomach.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Poll Results: Favorite chocolate drink!

Plain hot chocolate
5 (45%)
Mexican style (with cinnamon)
1 (9%)
Peppermint hot chocolate
3 (27%)
Cold choco-banana drink (bananas blended w/ milk and chocolate)
2 (18%)

Votes so far: 11

Sooo, Plain hot chocolate won the game! I guess people like the taste of chocolate. I'm surprised, I thought no-one liked chocolate!
Well, I don't have much to say, but Vote on polls! It makes me happy!
I had mucha tarea this week, but today there's less, probably because I accidentallly did the math homework due tomorrow yesterday...
Ok, have a nice day!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Amish Friendship Bread Part 2: Buckwheat Bread

Ready to cook dough

So, I did what I said I would. I tried to use the the Amish starter instead of yeast. Well, it kind of worked...
Just to add more factor to this already complicated experiment, I decided to make a bread with one third whole wheat, one third buckwheat, and one third all-purpose flour. I used the Amish starter in place of the yeast-milk-flour mixture I made in the first bread (which I will now refer to as the egg bread). For the egg bread, Laurence made me wait 20 minutes for the mixture to rise, but I figured that since the Amish starter had been lying around in a plastic bag for 12 days, I didn't need to wait as long. I just dumped the contents of one bag into my bowl and let it bubble for 10 minutes. When I came back, there weren't many bubbles, but there were some, so I just went on with the bread.
I wanted this bread to be a sort of rustic bread, meaning no eggs or butter. I just mixed flour w/ starter and water. Then I left it to rise for an hour and a half in a bowl with some olive oil while I did my math and biology homework. When the timer called me back to the kitchen, I peeked underneath the towel used to cover the bowl, and I was surprised to see that the dough had barely risen! I raided the pantry searching for a solution, and surprise! A half-empty packet of instant yeast was lying inside! I immediately made a mixture like Laurence had shown me and let it rise for half an hour. Then I incorporated it to 2/3 of the dough, leaving 1/3 with only the original starter as a test. I kneaded the dough one more time and then shaped it into 3 loaves; one of them had the Amish starter as its only source of yeast. I let them rise for another 2 hours.
My dad was curious to know if a loaf of uncooked bread dough could be left in a oven overnight with the oven programmed to cook the bread in the morning. If this worked, we could have hot bread in the morning! So, I only cooked the loaf without extra yeast and one of the other loaves that night, and I left the other one on the side. I cooked them for 30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
The bread turned out good, but on the dense side. There was little noticeable difference between the two two loaves cooked at the same time. The one without the extra yeast was slightly denser, but both were good. The loaf that was left in the other oven overnight, however, turned out quite different. This one had much larger bubbles (see photos), but it was flat and harder than the other two. I think this is because it had more time to rise, but then flattened out when the yeast stopped eating. The loaf was probably drier because it stayed in the hot oven half an hour after it stopped cooking. The oven was programmed to finish cooking at 7:30, but my mom got out of bed at 8:00 (I slept in until 8:30).
A cause for this bread being denser than the egg bread might be the fact that buckwheat flour is gluten free. Gluten is a long protein that can stretch and curl up when kneaded. This creates a sort of web that traps air bubbles, meaning that less gluten will trap less air and have less structure. In fact, this is why bread flour has more gluten than cake flour. Since a third of my flour was gluten-free, I guess it's normal that my bread was denser.
All in all, the bread was good, but my dad still thinks it could have used more salt. The buckwheat flavor was pronounced and went well with cheese. My dad says it reminded him of savory crèpes (also made with buckwheat), and my mom compares it to heavy German bread.

Pictures here!

I guess I'll give you the recipe, but I think there are probably better buckwheat bread recipes out there. I made this bread without a recipe. I replaced the Amish starter by a package of yeast in the recipe below.

  • 1 cup All-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 package rapid rise yeast
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt (I used about 1 tbsp, but apparently that was not enough)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • lukewarm water (about 1 cup, but this stuff isn't exact)
  1. Heat the milk with sugar until it is just slightly warm to the touch.
  2. Pour in the yeast and stir. Let it rise for 20-30 minutes until it is bubbly.
  3. Put the yeast and the flours together with the water and salt in a large bowl and combine everything with your hands to create a smooth dough, adding more water or flour as necessary. It is better to be a bit wetter than dry.
  4. Knead as described below for 5-10 minutes (I'm not really sure, I didn't time myself)
  5. Put the oil into the bowl and place the dough back inside. Let it rise covered by a kitchen towel for 1 hour and a half, or until it doubles in size.
  6. Knead it again, shape it into one or two loaves, and place it on your baking pan. Let it rise covered for another 2 hours.
  7. Heat the oven to 350 and bake for around 30 minutes.
  8. Let cool and enjoy! (I'm not sure if this recipe will work, I put it together myself, and only made it once)

I tried to upload a video of me kneading, but it didn't work :( I guess I'll try to explain using words. You use the base of your palm and your wrist to flatten and stretch the dough way from you. Then you roll it back up into a log and squish it again. You keep doing this for 5-10 minutes. In general, Laurence told me to knead until I saw many little bubbles in the dough.
Of course, if you have a Standing Mixer with a dough hook, use that. I think that if using a mixer, then you have to knead for a shorter amount of time.