Versatile Milk Buns

I’ve been experimenting with bun recipes in the last few months since my daughter started Kindergarten. I needed breakfast that she and I can grab and eat in the car if we’re running late. Buns came to mind because that’s what I grew up eating. Meat filled buns to be exact.

The meat buns I remembered had a very soft texture so I started with a milk bun recipe. This milk bun recipe is versatile enough that you can pretty much fill it with whatever filling you want, sweet or savory. Unfortunately, my daughter isn’t a fan of meat filled bun. She likes mostly sweet buns so I fill hers with cream cheese, or cheddar cheese, or custard. If you’re filling your buns with cheese, I find that they melt better if you grate them.

White Cheddar Cheese

Here are the recipes for a quick custard and cream cheese that I used to fill my buns. Feel free to use your own favorite custard recipe or cream cheese filling. If you’re filling your buns with custard, make your custard ahead of time as it needs to be cooled and refrigerated.

Quick Custard

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cake flour
  • 200 ml milk at room temp
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Direction:

  • Mix egg yolks, sugar and cake flour
  • Gradually add milk and stir to combine
  • Microwave and stir in 30 seconds increment until thickened
  • Cool, refrigerate and set aside

Cream Cheese Filling

  • 8 oz cream cheese at room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons sugar

Direction:

  • Combine sugar and cream cheese, set aside

Now it’s time to make the buns! I like using my bread maker to make the dough. It takes care of all the timing from the rising and resting and punching down of the dough. You can use your mixer with a dough hook or a food processor to make the dough if you don’t have a bread maker. Just make sure you let the dough rise and rest properly. I’ll try to give the timing for the steps.

Milk Buns

  • 7 oz bread flour
  • 1.8 oz all purpose flour
  • 1 oz sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1.8 g unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup cold milk

Direction:

  • Mix all ingredients together, starting with the dry ingredients first followed by the web ingredients, if you’re using a bread machine to make the dough. Press the dough function and step away until it’s done.
  • If you’re using a mixer or a food processor, start with the dry ingredients also, followed by the egg and melted butter, then gradually add the milk as fast as the flour can absorb it.
  • Continue to mix and knead the dough until it forms into a ball and the sides of the bowl is clean. The dough should be smooth, bouncy and not sticky.
  • Transfer the dough to a big bowl that has been lightly oiled. Turn the dough over to coat it completely with oil. Cover the dough with cling wrap and clean cloth.
  • Let rise for about 40 to 60 minutes. If you poke your finger into the dough and your finger mark stays, then it has finished rising.
  • Transfer the dough from your bread maker or when it has finished rising to the counter top and punch it down. The dough shouldn’t stick to the surface.
  • Cut the dough into 9 pieces, 1.7oz each.
  • Shape the dough and fill it with your choice of filling, and then place it on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
  • Cover the dough with clean cloth and let rise again for another 40 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 350F.
  • Lightly brush each dough with a mixture of egg and 1 tablespoon of milk.
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. After the bread is baked, you can lightly brush with unsalted or salted butter for shiny crust and extra flavor.

Enjoy!

Advertisements

Mochi Waffles

It’s Sunday morning and my tennis practice has been cancelled due to the poor air quality in Northern California. My prayers go out to those who lost their homes and loved ones in the fire. I hope the fires get put out soon.

Since I’m up early and stuck indoors, what could I make for breakfast? My first thought was the mochi waffles that I’ve had at a dessert store in Burlingame. They were slightly sweet, crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside.

Lucky for me, I have all the ingredients that I needed to make these waffles. I just needed a free morning to make it. The 2 ingredients that you may not have in your pantry are the mochiko flour and Japanese mini mochi. You can find both of these at your local Japanese grocery stores.

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup mochiko flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • Japanese mini mochi

Directions

  1. Mix all purpose flour, mochiko flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
  2. Add egg and milk and stir until smooth.
  3. Add melted butter and mix well.
  4. Heat up the waffle iron. If your waffles tend to stick to the waffle iron, use a non-stick spray.
  5. Pour your batter into your waffle iron. Sprinkle some of the mini mochi on the batter and close the lid.
  6. Cook waffles according to your waffle iron instructions.

These waffles are best eaten fresh out of the waffle iron. Enjoy!

Got Egg Whites? Make Cookies!

I was experimenting with a new recipe yesterday that called for egg yolks. That experiment was a failure but on a positive note, I have egg whites!

What do you normally do with egg whites? I make Lidah Kucing, also known as Cat’s Tongue cookies, with mine. It’s a 4-ingredient cookie and it’s easy to make.

Lidah Kucing

Ingredients:

  • 2 egg whites
  • 70 gram sugar
  • 100 gram unsalted butter
  • 80 gram flour

Direction:

  • Preheat oven to 375F
  • Whip butter until light and fluffy
    photo-sep-09-8-37-47-pm
  • Whisk egg whites and add sugar gradually until it reaches stiff peaks
    Photo Sep 09, 8 38 41 PM.jpg
  • Add egg whites to the whipped butter, then fold in the flour

    photo-sep-09-8-44-13-pm

  • Pipe into cylinders and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown.
  • Cool the cookies on the cookie sheet until cooled then store in an airtight container.
    photo-sep-09-9-28-10-pm

Enjoy!

Chili Prawns (Sambal Goreng Udang)

My tomatoes are finally turning red! They’re beautiful! Oh yeah.. a little stray, late blooming strawberry got in there 🙂

Photo Aug 08, 8 46 48 PM

So what do I do with all these tomatoes? The cherry tomatoes are sweet, delicious and healthy snacks, though I still can’t figure out how to get my daughter to eat them. The beefy tomatoes are sweet too. I usually cut them up and mix them in my salad or sneak them into my daughter’s omelette, but since I have a few of them, a couple went into my dinner this week: Chili Prawns.

Now.. this recipe is something I made up. The authentic recipe involves lemongrass, shrimp paste, and tamarind juice, I think. I like easy and fast to cook recipes and this recipe is both of those.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb large white shrimps, shelled and deveined
  • 1 package firm tofu, sliced into short strips
  • 2 medium tomatoes. roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 Thai chili peppers, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoon sweet soy sauce, or to taste
  • sugar to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons oilPhoto Aug 13, 7 23 59 PMPhoto Aug 13, 7 28 55 PMPhoto Aug 13, 7 43 08 PM

Direction:

  • In a bowl, mix 1 clove of the finely chopped garlic and 2 teaspoons soy sauce with the shrimps. Set aside.
  • Optional: Deep fry the tofu strips and set aside. You don’t have to deep fry them, which is probably healthier but I like them deep fried better. You can also get creative and use fried/baked tempeh in this recipe. I used tofu because I bought a box of 4 from Costco so this is one of the ways I’m using them.
    Photo Aug 13, 7 54 57 PM (1)
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok. When shimmering, add the shrimps to flash fry them. Remove from wok and set aside. This is also an optional step but I like the brown color of the sear on the shrimps.
    Photo Aug 13, 7 55 15 PM
  • In the same wok, heat 2 tablespoons of oil. Add garlic and the Thai peppers. If you’re cooking for kids like I am, I recommend using no more than 1 Thai pepper. If you and your kids can tolerate spicy food, then add as many as you want. Add tomatoes and simmer for a few minutes to break down the tomatoes.
    Photo Aug 13, 7 52 07 PM
    Mash the big chunks with your spatula. This is what you’ll end up with.
    Photo Aug 13, 7 55 32 PM
  • Add your seasonings to taste: sweet soy sauce, sugar, salt and pepper. Then add the shrimps and tofu, and coat them completely with sauce.
    Photo Aug 13, 7 58 58 PM
    Photo Aug 13, 8 00 34 PM
  • If you didn’t pre-cook your shrimps or deep fry your tofu, don’t add them all at once. Add the shrimps first and let them cook for a few minutes, then add the tofu and cook again for a few minutes. Remove and serve.

Photo Aug 13, 8 14 22 PM (1)

I like to eat this shrimp dish over rice. So good! Hope you’ll like it too!

Photo Aug 13, 8 10 30 PM

Garlic Roast Crab

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area and love crabs, you’re probably familiar with the An Family restaurants: Thanh Long and Crustaceans. My family usually makes Thanh Long one of their dinner stops when they’re visiting and I don’t blame them. They make the best Garlic Roast Crab. It’s a whole Dungeness crab, roasted to perfection in buttery garlic sauce.

It’s a bit of a trek for me to go to either restaurants so I usually go only when I have out of town guests. Since that tends to happen only once a year, what am I to do other than make my own Garlic Roast Crab at home? 🙂 All you need is 5 ingredients and you can also taste that delicious, firm and flaky crab meat any time you want.

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole Dungeness crab, live preferred
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), more or less to your taste
  • 5 cloves garlic, more or less to your taste
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Photo Aug 06, 6 24 36 PM

Direction:

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Boil a pot of water and put the crab in it when it has reached a rolling boil. Cover and boil crab for 7-8 minutes. If you’re boiling multiple crabs at the same time, you may need to extend the time to 10 minutes.
  • While the crab is cooking, finely chop the garlic. I suggest starting with 5 cloves. If you feel that’s too much garlic, then reduce the quantity. If you’re a garlic lover, feel free to add more.
    Photo Aug 06, 6 36 50 PM
  • In a large wok, melt the butter in medium low heat until the foam subsides. Add the chopped garlic and let the garlic flavor meld into the butter. Don’t let the garlic turn brown. Add salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste.
  • Remove the crab from the boiling water. Remove the shell and gill when it’s cooled enough to handle, then cut into quarters.
    Photo Aug 06, 7 15 19 PM
    Photo Aug 06, 7 21 35 PM
  • Add the crab pieces to the garlic butter sauce and coat well.
  • Put the crab and the garlic butter sauce in a roasting pan. Cover the crab pieces using the crab shell then bake for 15 minutes. I use the shell as a cover to keep moisture in the crab meat while it’s roasting in the oven.
    Photo Aug 06, 7 32 40 PM
  • Remove from oven and serve.
    Photo Aug 06, 7 53 03 PM

I served my crab with garlic noodles which An Restaurant is famous for too. My garlic noodles use the same ingredients as the Garlic Roast Crab. Melt butter in medium low heat and add the chopped garlic as you did for the crab, but in smaller amounts. Add salt and fresh cracked pepper.While the garlic flavor is melding with the butter, boil your fresh egg noodles. Drain and add to the garlic butter. Mix well.
Photo Aug 06, 7 46 29 PM

Enjoy!

Pressure-Cooked Pulled Pork

I love kitchen tools. I have too many of them but I can’t resist them. This is why I sometimes refer to my garage as my personal Sur La Table.

Nowadays, I look for kitchen tools that can do multiple tasks. One tool that I didn’t have yet in my garage was a pressure cooker. I’ve had my eye on a particular one because it boasts of having 7 functions in one pot. It’s a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, saute/browning, yogurt maker, steamer, and warmer.

When I saw it for $40 off on Amazon on Prime Day, I bought it. Last night, I used it for the first time to make pulled pork and it performed beautifully! I suspect I’ll be using this kitchen tool quite often because it does everything in the same pot!

Photo Jul 27, 6 09 45 PM

Here’s the recipe I used for the pulled pork.

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 lbs of pork butt (or shoulder), cut into big chunks
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Paprika

Photo Jul 27, 5 57 01 PM

Direction:

  • Season the pork chunks with the onion powder, garlic powder and paprika.
  • Heat oil in pot and brown pork chunks on all sides. Remove from pot and set aside.
    Photo Jul 27, 5 53 43 PM
    Photo Jul 27, 5 55 14 PM
  • Add onions and garlic into pot and saute until onions are soft.
  • Add water and BBQ sauce to the pot and de-glaze the pot.
  • Put the pork chunks back into the pot. The liquid won’t completely cover the pork chunks. That’s ok.
    Photo Jul 27, 6 09 19 PM
  • Pressure cook at high psi (about 15) for about 60 minutes. This is what they look like when done.
    Photo Jul 27, 7 24 34 PM
  • Remove the pork chunks carefully and shred with a pair of forks.
    Photo Jul 27, 7 25 58 PM
    Photo Jul 27, 7 28 39 PM

I made quesadillas with my pulled pork last night. They were soooo good!
Photo Jul 27, 7 52 07 PM

You can adapt this recipe to make Mexican Pulled Pork too.

Here’s the ingredients for the simmer liquid instead of using water and BBQ sauce mix:

  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dry oregano
  • 2 tablespoons juice from 1 lime
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 medium orange, halved (without the rind)

You would also need to add ground cumin to the pork rub.

Enjoy!

 

Short Ribs Pasta Sauce

It’s officially Summer! Summer means an abundant supply of delicious summer fruits and vegetables. This year, I decided to plant corn and squash in addition to my normal staple of tomatoes and peppers. Both my corn and squash plants are doing well. I only planted 2 squash plants but they’re doing so well that I’m harvesting at least 2 every other day.

Photo Jun 27, 6 40 29 PM

So what do I do with all these squash? Short Ribs Pasta Sauce!

This recipe is from a good friend of mine and it’s chock full of vegetables, perfect for kids who aren’t vegetable fans. Another reason why I like this sauce is because it can be frozen and defrosted without a sacrifice in quality. When I make a batch of this sauce, I usually freeze a couple of quarts for those nights when I don’t feel like cooking.

The long list of ingredients may make this recipe seems a bit intimidating but it’s really easy but worth the preparation effort.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb boneless short ribs (You can use boned-in short ribs too, but you’ll probably want to increase the amount)
  • 4 squash (I use either yellow squash or zucchini – whatever is on sale at your store)
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 large can of tomatoes (whole, diced, crushed – whatever is on sale at your store, or you can cut up fresh tomatoes too)
    Photo May 30, 3 01 39 PM
  • 1 14.5oz-can low-sodium chicken broth
  • 16 oz button mushroom (or crimini mushrooms), sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • A few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 4 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon, or to taste
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Brown sugar
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Red wine, optional
  • 1/4-1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, optional
  • Salt and pepper

Note: All seasoning measurements are approximate so please adjust to taste.

Direction:

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Season short ribs with salt and pepper and sear all sides. I used beef short ribs chuck steak in this picture since I couldn’t find boneless short ribs at the store that day.
    Photo May 30, 3 40 19 PM
    Photo May 30, 3 52 23 PM
    Photo May 30, 3 52 14 PM
  • Cube squash, carrots, bell pepper and onions, set aside.
    Photo May 30, 3 30 43 PM
  • In a large dutch oven, heat 3 tablespoons of oil until shimmering, then add 4 cloves of chopped garlic, onion, thyme from a few sprigs, pepper flakes and a teaspoon cinnamon. Stir fry for a few minutes until the onion is soft. Cinnamon may sound like a weird ingredient to add to pasta sauce for some of you, but it really does make a difference.
    Photo May 30, 3 59 20 PM
  • Add cubed vegetables and cook for a few minutes. Scrape brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
    Photo May 30, 4 00 23 PM
    Photo May 30, 4 03 51 PM
  • Add tomatoes, chicken broth, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, cinnamon (if more is needed), and red wine.
    Photo May 30, 4 14 09 PM
  • Bring to a boil then nestle the short ribs back in the sauce.
    Photo May 30, 4 18 01 PM
  • Cover and place in oven for 2-3 hours to “roast”.
  • Remove short ribs from sauce carefully and shred using 2 forks.
  • Puree the sauce, then place the shredded meat back in the sauce. Stir to mix well. I use an immersion blender to puree the sauce.
    Photo May 30, 6 42 10 PM
  • In a separate pan, saute garlic and mushrooms in a tablespoon of oil. Season with Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Add it to the sauce and meat.
  • Add Parmesan cheese to the sauce. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
    Photo May 30, 6 56 04 PM

Now boil your favorite pasta to al dente and pour this sauce over it. Enjoy!