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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Making Panko Bread Crumbs

This past Saturday we went up to Boston to help my cousin Angela move into her new apartment. Since she knows there aren't any Asian bakeries around us, she bought me a bunch of goodies from her favorite bakery. Unfortunately the loaf of white bread got squished during the chaos of moving furnitures so I thought why not make them into homemade Panko bread crumbs. Panko bread crumbs is  what's normally known as Japanese bread crumbs. It's not finely ground as the normal "Western" bread crumbs. It has a flaky crispy texture.

You can use any kind of bread but I like using the white bread from Asian bakeries the best. The Asian white bread is chewier and more dense than the white bread you see in "Western" markets.

Today I used a little over half of loaf of bread, you get about 5 cups of bread crumb.

First you remove the crusts. It's optional if you don't mind your Panko not being snow white in color.

Tear or cut the crustless slices of bread into chunks. Use the food processor to make the chunks into very coarse bread crumbs. Do not crowd the processor, only fill the bowl about 3/4 of the way full. I had to repeat this step several times since I only have a 4 cup processor.

Spread the bread crumbs on a baking sheet. Bake at 250 degrees F for 15 minutes or until the bread crumbs feel dry. You will want to mix the bread crumbs couple times while baking to insure even drying. Be careful not to brown the bread crumbs.

Remove the baking sheets from the oven. Break the bread crumbs up with your fingers, they tend to stick together a little. Let the bread crumbs cool completely. You can store the bread crumbs in an air tight container or resealable plastic bag for several months in the freezer or 4 weeks in room temperature.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Thai Coconut Sticky Rice with Mango

I don't eat Thai food very often but whenever I do, I almost always get Coconut Sticky Rice with Mango for dessert. Sticky rice or sweet glutenous rice is very common in Asian cooking. It is a very versatile ingredient, great for sweet or savory dishes. I found a fairly easy recipe from The and just customized it to my liking. Instead of steaming I used a rice cooker to cook the sticky rice.

Thai Coconut Sticky Rice with Mango
2-4 servings

Sticky rice 
  • 1 cup sticky rice (a.k.a. glutinous, sweet rice)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 1/2 tbs raw or white sugar, divided
  • 1 14 oz. can coconut milk (unshaken), separate the cream from liquid
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp corn starch
  • 2 ripe mangos, diced or sliced
Open the unshaken can of coconut milk, you will notice that the cream will be on the top. Spoon the cream part into a small bowl for later use. Depending on the brand you use, you might get more cream than milk (due to fat content varies with each brand).

Soak the 1 cup of sticky rice with enough water to cover for about 1-2 hours. Rinse the soaked rice several times and drain well. Place the sticky rice in the rice cooker and add 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of coconut milk liquid. Press the start button and when the cooker switched from cook to warm, let the rice sit in the cooker for about 5 minutes. 

You will have to make two sauces, one to mix into the rice and one thick sauce to spoon onto the mango and rice. 

Thin sauce for rice: heat up 1 cup of the liquid coconut milk with two tbs of sugar, 3/4 tsp salt until the sugar dissolves. Mix the cooked sticky rice into the thin sauce and let the rice sit in the pot for about 15-20 minutes or until the rice absorbs all the liquid.

Thick topping sauce: in a small sauce pan, heat up 1/8 tsp salt, 1/2 tbs sugar and 1/2 cup coconut cream.  In a separate bowl, whisk together a few teaspoons of water and the cornstarch. Whisk this cornstarch slurry into the coconut cream mixture and cook over low heat for about 3 minutes. 

To serve, spoon 1/3 cup of coconut sticky rice onto a plate and arrange mango on top of the rice. Spoon couple tsps of the thick topping sauce on top of the mango and rice. 

Separating cream from milk

1/2 water, 1/2 coconut milk

Ready to cook! 

Cooked sticky rice with thin sauce.

Let it sit for 15 minutes. 

It's nice and thick! 

Put as much or as little mango on top of the rice. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Caramel Apple Cider Cookies (Semi Disastrous!)

Even though the Apple Cider Caramel is sublime on its own, I still can't help it to try to put it into other baked goods. Thought about making a caramel apple pie but I think I might save that for Thanksgiving.    I searched on Pinterest and found recipes for apple cider cookies. Majority of the recipes call for using apple cider instant mix but I couldn't find any at my local Stop and Shop and Trader Joe so I just use regular apple cider and reduced it by boiling.

Everything was fine until the cookies were in the oven for about 8 minutes, the caramel started oozing out of them!! I'm not sure if it's because I used homemade caramel and not the Kraft caramel squares since I had use Kraft caramel for other cookies before and never had this problem. Or it could be because I overfilled the cookies with caramel. I was glad that I used parchment to line my cookie sheet or else it would of been a bitch to clean up. 

Suddenly I got this idea to place the dough balls in muffin tins that way they still bake up round and if caramel escape again at least it will be contained. Thank goodness it worked!!! 

The original Caramel Apple Cider Cookies recipe can be found at The Cooking Photographer

Caramel Apple Cider Cookies 
makes about 3 dozen cookies, pending on the size
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, soften 
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup reduced apple cider (boiled down from 1/2 cup)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 14 onces of chewy Kraft caramel squares 
  • sugar for rolling the dough, I used Turbinado raw sugar (optional)
Preheat oven to 350° F. Line cookie sheets with parchment or a silpat.  (so if the caramel oozes out it the cookies won't stick to the cookie sheet)
In a small bowl mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg .  In another bowl, cream together butter, sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time then add the vanilla and reduced apple cider.  Gradually add flour mixture to the wet mixture. Mix until just combined.
Scoop out cookie dough ball with a cookie scoop (about 2 tablespoons).  Press the caramel into the center of your dough and seal the dough around it, covering it completely. Shape the dough into a ball and roll it in sugar (optional) then place on parchment covered cookie sheets about 3 inches apart.
Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until the cookies are slightly brown around the edges. Allow cookies to cool  until slight warm to the touch or you WILL burn your mouth when you eat them. 


Apple Cider Caramel

When I think of Fall, the first thought that comes up is apple. I'm not a fan of pumpkin desserts so while everyone on Pinterest and Facebook are pinning and talking about pumpkin spice coffee or pumpkin desserts, I've been looking for apple related recipes. One thing I really look forward to in the Fall is apple cider. I know you can get it all year round but nothing beats having hot apple cider with a cinnamon stirring stick while it's chilly (not freezing) outside. I was really excited to try out this Apple Cider Caramel recipe. It was more complicated than making plain caramel but the end result was worth it.

The recipe I used is from Our Best Bites.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Another Japanese Cheesecake Recipe

Per my mom's request, I made another Japanese Cheesecake. Mom is having her friends over for afternoon tea tomorrow so she wanted something that will go great with the flower tea leaves my dad brought back from Taiwan previously.  This time I tried the recipe from Nami's blog: Just One Cookbook. Her blog is one of my must reads and she's got tons of great recipes! The only thing I changed was using vanilla extract (2 tsp) instead of the 1 tbs of rum since my mom is not a fan of booze in her dessert.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Steamed Pork Buns/Baozi 包子

After my success of making Mantou, I really wanted to make some Pork Buns/Baozi. There are countless baozi recipes both for the bun and the filling. You can make it into a sweet treat or something savory. It's perfect for breakfast or just as a snack. I looked through countless Taiwanese/Chinese cooking blogs and settled on this meat filling.

Steamed Pork Buns/Baozi 包子
Makes 16 buns
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbs sugar
  • 1 cup lukewarm water (or 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup milk for softer bun)
  • 1 tbs vegetable oil 
  • 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast (to feed the yeast, 1 tsp flour, 1 tsp sugar and 1 tbs lukewarm water)
Meat Filling
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 4 stalks of green onions(scallions), chopped finely
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp corn starch 
  • 1 tsp ground pepper (you can use either white or black)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped Chinese cabbage
Optional additions to the meat filling
  • 1/2 tsp finely minced ginger (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp five spice powder (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp sesame oil (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp sake or rice wine (optional)
In a small bowl, mix the dry yeast with 1 tsp flour, tsp sugar and 1 tbs lukewarm water. Let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes. In a big bowl, add 3 cups of flour, 1 tsp baking powder and 2 tbs sugar, mix well. Then add the yeast mixture and also 1 cup of lukewarm water. Pending on the humidity, you might need to add extra water if it's too dry or extra flour if it's too wet. Kneed the mixture until all the ingredients are well incorporated, then add the vegetable oil and kneed for about 5 minutes. Leave the dough in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap then let it rest for about 15 minutes. 

While the dough is resting, we can proceed to make the filling. For this step I used my KitchenAid stand mixer with a paddle attachment but you can do it by hand. Add all the ingredients from the Meat Filling list into the bowl. Mix at medium speed for about 5 minutes. Divide the meat filling into 16 portions. 

Divide the rested dough into 16 portions. Roll each portion into round balls. Take the rounded ball of dough then flatten it with a roller to about 1/8 inch thick. Place the pre-measured meat filling into the center of the rounded dough sheet. Fold the edges together in a pleated fashion then pinch the edges together and twist. It's kind of hard to explain but you can watch this video to get the idea. The video is very informative as it shows you how to make 3 different shapes of bun/baozi. Allow the baozi to rest (cover with plastic wrap) for about 30 minutes before steaming. Like I mentioned in my Mantou post, there are two steaming method. One over the stove top or using a Datong Rice Cooker. I used the Datong Rice Cooker. For a steamer over the stove top, you will need to steam for 15 minutes on medium high heat. 

It turned out pretty good except I forgot to add the corn starch to the meat mixture so when I cut opened the hot baozi all the juices came out.