Two nights ago, our yard looked like a winter wonderland and I was excited. Until we woke up the next morning without power or heat or hot water or most importantly, no way of cooking anything. Although, Luke did suggest lighting a fire in one of our cooking pans with matches and Izzy’s hay. Unfortunately, I don’t think that would be an efficient way of cooking or heat, as hay burns pretty quickly. Plus it’s dangerous. I had to spend time at Luke’s office to avoid sitting under the covers on our bed in the cold apartment. Actually, this post would not be possible without the internet at Luke’s office. Ours is obviously out…and we have no idea when the power will return 😦
Our mattress got a lot firmer. I don’t think that’s a good thing. My chapstick has hardened too. I have to slather it all over my lips before it becomes warm enough to impart its soothing balm. I feel bad for Izzy too. Do house rabbits grow winter coats?
We took her with us to Luke’s parent’s house last night, and she was not a happy rabbit. We set up her pen in a bathroom since her cage is too large to transport. I assumed the poop-strewn floor in the morning was her not-so tiny voice of displeasure.
Obviously, the power outage is puttin some serious brakes on my baking/cooking schedule, which made me very unhappy. Luckily I make multiple recipes a week, so I’ve always got photos ready for a post, even if I haven’t had a chance to whip something up in a while. I really hope this storm isn’t a portent of the winter to come. I don’t know if I can handle many more large-scale power outages.
Anyway, on to the recipe. I picked up a donut pan at Bed Bath & Beyond recently, and was itching to try it out. These donuts are rich, cakey and fully capable of satisfying even the largest chocolate craving…at breakfast! I had some extra coconut milk left over from a previous recipe, so I made a coconut-chocolate glaze. I’m not a huge fan of the taste of coconut, so I was pleasantly surprised when the glaze added only a hint of flavor, instead of drowning my delicious donuts in coconut. I mean, I would have eaten them anyway, but still.
Chocolate Buttermilk Cake Donuts
Adapted from Cherry Tea Cakes
Makes 1 dozen regular sized donuts
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup dutch process cocoa
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 cup buttermilk*
2 T. butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
Preheat oven to 425. Spray donut pan with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add buttermilk. Stir. Add butter and vanilla. Stir. Add eggs one at a time, stirring in between each egg. Beat until just combined. Fill each donut mold about 2/3 full.
Bake for roughly seven minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool, and decorate accordingly.
*I always make my own buttermilk by adding a teaspoon of white vinegar to a cup of milk and letting it sit for 5-10 minutes.
Coconut Chocolate Glaze
1/3 cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons corn syrup
~6 oz chopped milk chocolate
Heat the coconut milk and corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat until it starts to boil. Stir in the chopped chocolate and stir until smooth. Drizzle over cooled donuts or dip donuts in glaze. I started with the first, then saw how much glaze I had left, so continued to the later.
Back to fall. Or finter. Or whatever season you want to call this. It’s technically fall, but when I went to tutor yesterday, my car had an inch of slushy snow on it. It quickly melted, but it’s back again today and tomorrow.
When I was in Taiwan two years ago at this time, it was in the low 80s. Kind of missing it right now. But only a little bit. It’s a hard trade as the warm temps are always accompanied by high humidity. Definitely not missing that.
Don’t get me wrong, I do love fall in New England. It’s by far my favorite season, but sometimes I wish New England weather would just make up its mind already. In a few days it’ll be sunny and in the 50s. So strange.
I think this weather calls for something yeasty, warm and delicious. This was my first attempt at making bagels, and I was pleasantly surprised with how they turned out. They weren’t the prettiest bagels ever, but man, were they tasty. Caramelized apples in the dough added a piece of fall in every bite. Enjoy them while the fall weather still lasts, though I suppose they’ll taste just as good in the winter.
Apple Cinnamon Bagels with Streusel Topping
Adapted from My Little Celebration
makes 11-12 bagels
2 cups warm water, about 110 degrees F
2 (1/4-ounce) packets active dry yeast
3 tablespoons granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
4 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour ( I used all-purpose flour for the whole recipe)
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tbsp. butter
3 small-medium granny smith apples, cored, peeled and diced
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup + 3 Tbsp. sugar
Streusel Topping: [optional, I omitted the topping]
1 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2-3 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. rolled oats
1 tsp. cinnamon
Add 1 Tbsp. of butter to a large skillet over medium heat, and then add the apples, 2 tsp. cinnamon, 2 Tbsp. sugar and stir. Cover and let cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the apples are soft and caramelized. Set aside to cool.
Combine the water, yeast, and 3 tablespoons of the sugar in a large bowl. Stir and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of whole wheat flour, the apple mixture, salt and 1/4 cup sugar and stir. Then gradually add 3 cups of AP flour and mix until the mixture comes together.
Add 1 to 1 1/2 cups additional AP flour 1/2 cup at a time, either stirring with the wooden spoon or working with your hands. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and no longer sticky adding flour as needed, about 10 minutes.
Grease a large bowl and place the dough in the bowl, turning to coat. Cover and let rise in a warm spot until almost doubled, about 1 hour.
Remove from the bowl and punch down the dough. Divide into 12 equal pieces, about 2 to 3 ounces each. Loosely form each piece of dough into a ball and then poke a small hole in the middle of the ball with your middle and ring fingers from the underside. Repeat with the remaining dough. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet and cover with a clean cloth, and let rest until risen but not doubled, 20 to 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare streusel topping by mixing all ingredients together in a small bowl with fingers or a fork. If the mixture is too wet, add more flour. If it’s too dry, add more butter.
In a large, heavy pot, bring 12 cups of water and the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar to a boil. In batches, add the bagels to the water and boil, turning, for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Flip bagels onto the prepared sheet pan. Bake for 5 minutes, turn over [optional] and cook for another 30 to 35 minutes. [If adding streusel topping, spoon topping onto bagels after you’ve flipped them at the 5-minute mark.]
Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.
I want to be a Chinese teacher. Obviously, this means I speak Chinese. I learned Chinese in college and spent a semester abroad in Taipei, Taiwan. I had an amazing time, and my language skills benefitted immensely. When people ask me what the best part of my trip was, I often say the food. Authentic Chinese and Taiwanese food is incredible. It’s quite different from what we serve here in the States.
Going to a large restaurant in Taiwan means ordering a number of dishes for your table, while rice is always available. It’s also very common to have a take-out meal in Taiwan. My favorite take-out meals were dumplings and different kinds of noodles.
Dumplings in spicy sauce.
Another great place to get food in Taiwan is at night markets. Every night these markets appear in the streets of Taiwan, and sell clothing, jewelry, and other small items. They also sell 小吃 which means “small eats.” Here are a couple examples.
See something you like? At this vendor, you pick your food-on-a-stick of choice, and it’s cooked right in front of you.
I thing I miss most about Taiwan though, was the abundance of bubble tea. Bubble tea is black tea (though you can make it with other teas) mixed with milk and sugar with large sweetened tapioca pearls. It was invented in Taiwan in the 1980s, and is somewhat popular in the US now, but in Taiwan, you can buy it on practically every street corner. When I was in Taiwan, I think I drank one every day. I need to start making it at home. And now on to my dish.
This dish is somewhat inspired by one of my favorite take-out meals while in Taiwan. Plus I had some ground pork, and didn’t want to make dumplings, and this was a great alternative. The sauce is slightly tangy and goes great over the bean thread noodles, which are great for slurping by the way. This dish comes together quickly and serves as a great weeknight meal.
my favorite chopsticks!!
Bean Thread Vermicelli with Pork Sauce
Adapted from Martin Yan Quick & Easy
Makes 4 servings
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 pound ground meat (I used ground pork, but beef, chicken or turkey would work too)
¾ cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce (I used Sriracha)
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 scallions, chopped
2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
4 cups cooked bean thread
Combine the first three ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well. Add the ground meat and stir to coat evenly. Let stand for 10 minutes. To make your sauce, combine ingredients from chicken broth to pepper together in a small bowl and mix well.
Place a large frying pan or wok over high heat until hot. Add oil, swirling to coat the edges. Add the garlic and scallions and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the ground meat and stir fry until browned and crumbly, about 3 minutes. Add the sauce and bring to a boil. Add the cornstarch solution and cook, stirring, until the sauce boils and thickens, about a minute. Remove from heat and ladle over warm noodles.
To cook bean thread noodles, soak in hot water for 5-8 minutes, then strain.
Note: all of these ingredients can be found at an Asian supermarket. Better regular supermarkets will also carry most of the sauces, but not the noodles. If there are no Asian markets in your area, asianfoodgrocer.com is a good site for buying Asian foods.
Back to back posts huh? Oh yeah, I went there. But don’t worry, I will be brief. I have a recipe I’m quite excited about and couldn’t wait the requisite few days to share it with you. Plus, my Dad and his girlfriend are coming to visit tomorrow (this will be Dad’s first visit to our apartment) and I’m pretty stoked about it. He also gets to meet Izzy. It’ll be interesting to see how she reacts to new people. I can carry the little girl around one-handed now, but I’m hoping new people won’t freak her out.
I’m trying to get her to eat greens…because rabbits invade gardens to eat greens and vegetables right? I’ve tried romaine lettuce, spinach and parsley….and have been shut down every time.
See that??!!!? That is stone cold rabbit rejection.
But I digress. This post is about angel food cake and all its light, fluffy goodness. What’s not to love? Angel food cake may seem daunting because of its egg white count (12 of them!) but thankfully I make ice cream with the yolks so it doesn’t feel like a waste. Every time I make ice cream, I put the whites in a Tupperware and freeze them. Egg whites are awesome that way. Yolks…not so much. Can’t freeze those bad boys. Anywho, angel food cake isn’t as hard as it seems, and the homemade version is soooo much better than store bought.
Also, it cools upside down. How neat is that? Thankfully we had a bottle of wine that Luke’s boss brought over weeks ago, and I didn’t have to rig something super precarious.
I mashed up some strawberries for my first piece…then just started slicing off the stuff and eating it without a plate. Seriously, it’s that good.
Angel Food Cake
Adapted from Joy the Baker
1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup cake flour, sifted
12 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/3 cup warm water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoons cream of tartar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grind sugar in the bowl of a food processor for 2 minutes. This will help create a superfine sugar that will be better absorbed by the egg whites.
Place half the sugar in a small bowl. In a large bowl, combine the remaining sugar, salt, and cake flour. Set aside.
Beat together the egg whites, water, extract and cream of tartar. I used my electric hand mixer on medium/medium high speed. Gradually add the sugar from the small bowl and continue mixing until medium (not stiff) peak form. The meringue will hold a trail of the beaters through it. Note: This step took a lot more than I anticipated, upwards of 8-10 minutes.
Sift in one quarter of the flour mixture. Fold with a spatula. Try to avoid stirring the mixture too much because you don’t want to flatten the egg whites. Sweep the egg whites from the bottom to the top of the bowl. Add the flour mixture in three more batches. Fold until thoroughly combined.
Spoon batter into an ungreased tube pan. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a skewer (or toothpick) comes out clean. Remove from oven and carefully invert the pan, propped on a bottle. The hole in the center of my tube pan was large enough to fit the neck of a wine bottle, so I balanced it that way. Let rest for at least an hour before trying to remove from pan.
Earlier this week, I received some promising news about my future career. I had a meeting at a day school in Worcester that wants to start a Chinese program next year for their middle/upper school. I am so excited for this prospect! Like blissfully giddy excited. After the meeting, I met my mom for lunch and dropped by Holy Cross to visit/drop off some extra baked goods. This is one of my constant concerns. Finding outlets for my excess baked goods so they will be consumed in a reasonable timeframe, allowing me to then go on and make the next thing. Because I plan out everything. Seriously, I do. I have a post it on my Mac dashboard dedicated to listing out things I want to bake in the near future.
Anyway, I love giving my baked goods away to others, mostly because I love sharing what I make with others, especially if it’s something good. Unless it’s something really, really good. Then I might not share….but I probably will. Just ask the boys at Holy Cross, I think what I dropped off was in the later category. (I’ll be posting about it later, so don’t worry.) Also, I wanted to share (just pictures) of these amazing cheeses I got at Trader Joe’s last weekend. I could live in that store.
But enough about the future, let’s focus on the present, like this post about gnocchi. I think the first time gnocchi entered my consciousness was during high school. I vaguely remember the name being mentioned at an Italian restaurant once or twice, but I didn’t actually realize what it was until my foodie transformation. Now, I love gnocchi. Pillow-soft potato dumplings? Yes, please. You can also make gnocchi with ricotta, a method I’ll be trying very soon. These are a snap to throw together and use up extra mashed potatoes! My mound of leftover mashed potatoes was starting to worry me, as I hate throwing out food, but thankfully this recipe saved the day. I thoroughly enjoyed them, and I hope you do too.
Leftover Mashed Potato Gnocchi
Adapted from this site
Makes 3-4 servings
2 ½ cups leftover mashed potatoes
approximately 2 cups all-purpose flour (I think I used more like 3)
pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper as necessary
Force the mashed potatoes through a fine mesh sieve or a potato ricer and remove skins. Put them in a medium bowl, make a well in the center, add the eggs and beat lightly. Add one cup of flour, nutmeg, salt and pepper (you can decide how much to ad, if your mashed potatoes are already seasoned, you can probably omit more seasoning) and mix. Continue adding flour one cup at a time to make a moist, but firm dough.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, shape into a ball, and divide into 6 smaller balls.
Put a large pot of water on to boil. Make sure to salt the water, about a tablespoon’s worth.
Roll each ball into a log and cut it into ¾ inch pieces. Pick up each piece, press into a fork with your thumb and roll off. Mine didn’t really want to keep their indentation, so if yours don’t either, it’s ok.
Drop the formed gnocchi into the water. When they float to the top they’re done, about 3 minutes. I also put some of the formed gnocchi on a wax paper lined plate and put them in the freezer to save for later. After about an hour, I transferred them to a Ziploc bag. They cook the same way, but will take a few minutes longer.
Drain your cooked gnocchi and serve. I used regular tomato sauce and grated cheese, but gnocchi are versatile, so any sauce used on pasta would work well.
We interrupt these regularly scheduled fall recollections for a peak inside the real life that triggers them.
I wish that were my life, lounging about all day. Well, I do do a fair share of lounging, but there’s work mixed in too. For those that don’t know, as of right now I am making ends meet by mooching off my fiancée Luke and tutoring. Just kidding, I don’t mooch. I think I earn my keep in the apartment as its head cleaner, cook, laundry-doer, and rabbit caretaker. I have found tutoring very rewarding so far, it’s really amazing the difference a little one-on-one assistance can be. Currently, all my clients are learning Chinese and I assist or teach them directly. One of my students is 3 ½ years old. Today, while learning about fruit, she decided it would be fun to fling canned peach syrup at me with a fork. I cleaned off my clothes immediately with a wet paper towel, but forgot about my hair. It had become a sticky mess. Wonderful.
I stood out in the rain for a few minutes to let it “rinse” my hair. I generally dislike rain. When I was in Taiwan, it rained so often that I forgot what the sun looked like and got confused when it was able to peek out from behind the everlasting cloud cover of rainy season. Since returning to the States, I’ve relished the sunshine, though sadly, our apartment doesn’t get much of it. Still, standing out in the rain today, there was something oddly poetic about the patterns of strewn wet leaves on the driveway, their colors popping out against the black asphalt. I went back inside and saw Izzy pull a move that looked like a kickflip, except she did it with her body. Maybe I should get her out of the cage for a little while. I got her a pen earlier this week so she has a bigger space to run/hop around in without me worrying about her hiding under the couch. I am also trying to litter train her. Wish me luck.
One of my favorite activities to do when it rains is bake. I know, you must be thinking, don’t you do it all the time anyway? The answer is yes, but when it’s raining, I like to tackle longer projects like bread. I love making bread. There’s a unique sense of satisfaction that comes from taking an awkward lump of dough and turning it into soft, fluffy, delicious bread. I had half a bag of potatoes on the verge of being able to stare back at me, so I made a big batch of mashed potatoes. What to do with all of them? I found a couple recipes, and this is the first. This bread is awesome! I love scallions (I buy them in huge bunches in Asian markets cuz they’re so cheap!) so when I saw this recipe, I had to make it. It’s soft, chewy, but not too chewy, with little bits of potato and scallion, oh so good. I’m making an open face pulled pork sandwich on it tonight. Though I also think that soup and a hunk of bread makes a pretty fine meal too. Enjoy!
Loaded Baked Potato Bread
Adapted from Girl Versus Dough (I love her site!)
Yields: 1 sandwich loaf
1/2 cup warm water
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp butter, softened
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup sour cream
2/3 cup Yukon Gold or Russet potatoes, boiled and mashed with the skin left on (I used about 1 1/4 Yukon Golds)
1/3 cup cooked and crumbled bacon (I omitted this, not a bacon fan)
1/2 cup chopped green onions or chives
3 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine water and yeast and whisk until yeast is dissolved. Let stand about 3 minutes or until yeast is foamy. Add in butter, salt, sour cream and potatoes and mix with paddle attachment until combined. Add in bacon and green onions and mix until just combined. Add in flour in thirds, mixing with the dough hook, on low, as you add in the flour. Mix until dough completely pulls away from the sides, then remove the dough and knead by hand about 10 minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic.
Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Remove risen dough from bowl and press down with fingers into a 6 x 8-inch rectangle. Roll up tightly from the short end and place the dough, seam-side down, in a lightly greased 8 x 4-inch loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Once dough is risen, uncover and bake about 30 minutes, or until golden brown on top and a thermometer inserted in the center reads 190 degrees F. The bread should also make a hollow sound when thwacked on the bottom.
Remove from oven and cool in loaf pan about 10 minutes, and then completely on a cooling rack before slicing or serving.