Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Marble Chiffon Cake

Egg whites are one of my favorite ingredients to bake with. It probably surpasses chocolate in some instances (!) Did you know that the volume of an egg white increases by 6-8 times when it is whipped? When I was a budding baker in middle and high school, my dad would support my efforts by buying Costco quantities of eggs, sugar, butter, and flour. My dad also always ate everything I made, regardless of how bad or good it turned out. :)

My mom didn't use cookbooks much, so for my baking endeavors, I would have my mom's big blue binder of miscellaneous recipes, Mrs. Field's Cookie cookbook or a super ancient copy of Taste of Home baking cookbook (out of print, I'm sure) to browse through. I remember making all three egg-white-starring baked goods: chiffon, sponge, and angel food cake to test the limits of egg whites. I also was temporarily deluded into thinking that these cakes were healthier because they didn't use as much oil, and most (or all) of the volume came from eggs (as opposed to butter) ;)

Anyway..this marble chiffon cake became a favorite. I used to make it with a cream cheese icing, but this time just made it on its own. If you want the icing, refer to the link, or concoct your own from a combination of cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and milk.
Marble Chiffon Cake
Sorry I don't have a side view picture of the whole cake! By the time I realized, too much of the cake was gone..

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Garlic Chive Pockets / Chinese Leek Boxes (jiu3cai4he2zi 韭菜盒子)

This is for you, Jen Fung!

My grandma tells me to eat napa cabbage in the winter, and garlic chives, or jiu cai, in the summer. This applies largely to dumplings, because two of the most common fillings are some variation on pork and napa or pork and garlic chives.

Tim and I were in Chinatown getting groceries and these chives were so fat and plump! I knew they would be good. They call them garlic chives because they smell and taste so strongly of garlic that one would think there is garlic in the dish as well.

Today, I will teach you how to make jiu3cai4he2zi ( 韭菜盒子), or literally, Garlic Chive Boxes. Chive pockets, for some reason, sounds more right to me. Maybe because of its association with hot pockets? Anyway, I toiled long and hard on this recipe...I made the dough 5 times before I was happy with it! I have lots of experiences with cold water dough, but the hot water dough was a new technique for me to learn.

These goodies are made with hot water dough, which also can be used to make scallion pancakes, potstickers, 小龍包 (xiaolongbao), or soup dumplings, and many other goodies.

I would eat jiucaihezi a bowl of xi fan or soup for dinner, or just as is for lunch or breakfast :) Enjoy!

I found my pictures! Yay! If you have the patience for it, you can follow along in the linked video to learn how to roll out the dough. Even if you can't understand her, the visuals definitely at least helped me! 

She uses a lot more water, but I'm not sure why, because her measurements gave me very goopy dough many times! Follow my water suggestions for success :)

Jiu Cai He Zi Chinese Leek Pockets
Look at that thin dough!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Baking Essentials II: Ingredients

Do you want to start baking, but don't know where to begin? This is a list of what I consider to be the ingredients that are the backbone of baking. Chances are that most ingredients on this list will be called for in the recipes that you come across.

For baking equipment, refer to Baking Essentials I.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Long Hots with Braised Fried Eggs (luo4jiao1shao1dan4 糯椒燒蛋)

I saw this dish on Youtube and my first thoughts were...What?! Fried eggs in sauce? This is so weird.
The more I watched, however, the more this jolly slightly round Taiwanese chef's cooking won me over! Even more cool to note, this dish follows the recent theme of twice cooked items; these eggs are slightly fried first, then braised in a simple yet tasty sauce. Unlike meat braises, this braise is rather quick and can be cooked in less than 30 minutes (if you have your mise en place ready).

It's a pretty delectable combination of creamy eggs and tender crisp peppers swimming in a sauce of savory, somewhat spicy goodness. My favorite aspect is that this dish has so many goodies to adorn your rice and eggs with- either soft slices of garlic or scallion, fiery peppers, or salty black beans.

You probably already have most of these ingredients in your kitchen, so make it tonight!

Long Hots with Braised Fried Eggs 

adapted from this jolly Taiwanese chef

Serves 2-3 as part of a multi-dish meal

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Twice Cooked Pork (hui2guo1rou4 回鍋肉)

Hui guo rou has a literal translation of 'return-to-the-pot meat,' which means that the meat is, well, returned to the pot, meaning that it's cooked with two methods.  First, the pork belly is boiled, then it is thinly sliced and sauteed with leeks and other ingredients. Hui guo rou is not one of the dishes that made it on my mom's menus, but I remember first eating it (or at least remembering its name) sometime after college, and really enjoying it. When I found out that its roots were in Sichuan, it made sense, because I have not tried a Sichuan dish I don't love. 

When I called my grandma (my mom was in Europe) to ask how to make it, she confirmed that this was a 家常菜(jia1chang2cai4), which I translate as a homey-style dish, or home-cooking type of dish. Another vote for this dish!

Can you go wrong with pork belly? Or doufugan? Or leek? Hmmm. probably not.

Meanwhile, Simba and Pepper love to get in between me and my computer..
Hmm...what else can we do to make her give up on using the computer?

Twice Cooked Pork

serves 3-4 as part of a multi-dish meal with rice