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Kitchen Unplugged





Updated: 2017-10-15T06:41:33.047-07:00

 



Sushi Roll Easter Baskets

2012-03-19T00:13:50.147-07:00

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Sushi is not only delicious, but healthy, low in fat, high in fiber from fresh vegetables and rich in minerals from seaweeds. My 11 year-old daughter and all her classmates love bringing sushi for lunch. It has become so popular that the school’s cafeteria is considering putting it on the menu!

Since the Easter Season is already starting, I’ve dressed up the sushi rolls as Easter baskets by adding some quail eggs and cucumber handles. The recipe is published in my favorite on-line mag SimplytheSweetLife. Let’s spread Easter’s joy and healthy message to your beloved ones.




Interlocking ring cookies with rose sugar

2012-02-10T02:35:14.837-08:00

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Simply the Sweet Life is a gorgeous site/magazine. It is my honor to have a chance to contribute the recipe of these cookies to them. A marriage may be made in heaven, but the maintanance still has to be done on earth. So, go make some cookies :) Happy Valentine's Day!



Happy 2012

2012-01-22T16:05:34.420-08:00

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I never forget my blog, and every of you! I did involve a couple of projects but that couldn't stop me... until the examination (of my language school) came. I have been in Spain long enough but I didn't put any effort to learn the language. I am really feeling ashamed. So unwillingly, I had to leave my blog for a while in order to focus my studies.

Long before the exam, once I worked as a food stylist to a photo-shooting. The work was intense, but it wasn't the hardest part. How to be a good team player is a challenging though, especially something about art... the people are usually very subjective; plus, 'idea' this thing is completely abstract, finding words to discuss it is painful. So after many moments of mind-bleeding, lip numbing and spirit-murdering, I tried to set out something, and finally heard the photographer said, 'Ahh! THAT's what I want!!!' ***Firework***

These two photos are the reject, but I really love them. Hope you enjoy these little pieces of 'me' here.

Happy 2012! And to all Chinese fellows, Happy Lunar New Year!




Pomegranate & Pearl Sago Dessert with Chewy Coconut

2011-10-09T09:29:29.279-07:00

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It is the best time to enjoy fruit, so many choices, so many colors and so many flavors! If you get tired of having fruit cockfruit for dessert, this one with exotic pearl sago would be a nice surprise. I particularly make some chewy coconut cookies to go with it, use it instead of spoon to scoop that sticky yummy fruity sago to mouth ... sorry I can't talk now as am too busy in eating.
For the recipe I will post it on my Spanish blog.
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Bread with Sardine & Garlic Spread

2011-09-24T11:24:31.647-07:00

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I was reading the boxes of canned sardine. An old fellow came by, just like me, was looking for a good one. He probably lived alone, or had extra time to spend, so he started a long conversation about sardines ...

I suddenly remember my grandpa, who chose to live alone for many years. When I visited him, I also loved checking his cupboard to see any left-over food for me to pick :) :) They're usually a few anchovies or canned sardines. "Uh-ooooh..." people may give out a sympathetic sign once they hear the word "canned". But look at this way, it's reflecting his fuss-free life style. Canned sardine doesn't taste like the fresh one for sure, but it has its own taste and it can be absolutely delicious. Quite often I have a craving for that taste.

In this recipe, using canned sardine is certainly better!

We'll make some fresh sardines when we're ready for mingle next time, ok?!

To make Bread with Sardine & Garlic Spread, you will need:

  • Country bread, sliced, and slightly toasted
  • Slow-roasted garlic until the flesh is completely soft
  • Top quality canned sardine, drained well
  • optional: paprika/ red peppercorns/ spices

Remove the garlic skin, generously spread the flesh on a slice of bread. Then either you mash the sardine to paste, or use it as-is, put the fish on the top, sprinkle some spice to finish

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Lemon Chickpea Pastry

2011-09-18T03:37:57.190-07:00

"Moon cake" (a molded pastry that we make/eat to celebrate the full moon in the mid-autumn in China), in general, has a tender crust with some moist and sweet filling. It is supposed to be rich; a small piece goes a long way, and the pastries aren't cheap anyway. In the old days, my family could only afford one or 2 boxes (four pastries per box) for us to eat, and a couple boxes more to give to our very close relatives. Few days ago my friend put up some photos of mooncakes to Facebook. I gasped when I saw all that packaging... besides of the traditional plastic pack, wax paper and paper carton, an individual metal tin is made to just hold one pastry, then a few pastries/tins again are placed into a bigger tin. The tins are gold color, with sand-blashed mat finish and spectacular printing... When the pastries gone, so as those tins (straight to the dumpster)... the earth is already beyond exhausted. The food manufacturers probably add an extra dose of preservatives and additives in order to prolong the life span of the pastries, to go with the longer marketing campaign or whatsoever... Can I just have one simple pastry? I don't eat metal, or plastic, or chemcial. Want a beautiful pastry? You need nothing except your creativity, your hands and time. Additives-and preservatives-free. Environmental-friendly. The crust intends to be buttery, using a top-quality of butter (Danish and Irish ones are my fav) is a must! Especially there is no egg in the recipe, the taste of butter is THE shinning star then. And about the filling, I used chickpea so as to mimic the texture of lotus seed paste (a popular filling for "moon cake") although its flavor is from cocina nova. Recipe of the shortbread crust (for 10 tart shells) : 110g premium-quality of butter 150g regular flour a pinch of salt (if your butter has no salt) 1/4 cup powder sugar optional: cut fruit and egg wash Soften the butter (not melting), beat it until it looks pale and fluffy, well combine with the powder sugar, flour and salt. You may add 1 tbp of flour if it looks too wet (but not too much otherwise the crust turns dry and brittle). Let it rest in fridge for a few hours so as to relax the gluten and also to ease the shaping since the dough is slightly firm. Recipe of the chickpea filling: 200g cooked chickpeas (from jar with water, drained well), juice from half lemon, zest from 1 lemon, 1/4 - 1/2 cup powder sugar (sweetness to taste), 1/4 - 1/2 cup cream cheese. Puree the chickpeas with the lemon juice, well combine with the lemon zest, powder sugar and the cream cheese. To assemble the tarts: Grease a tart shell and line it with a thin layer of dough, spoon in the chickpeas filling. If you make an open-face tart, arrange some cut fruit on top to avoid the filling dries up too quick during baking If you want to make a molded pastry, you have to do more control on the (chill) temperature of the dough, because if the dough gets soft (as warm), it will stick to the mold. For molded pastry, please egg wash the pastries after unmolded. Pre-heat oven to 325C. Bake the pastries about 25 minutes. [...]



Fig & goat cheese filled sesame tartlet

2011-09-05T16:36:42.709-07:00

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Fig + dairy, they fit to any meal in a day.

Fig and plain yoghurt for breakfast.

Fig and soft cheese on open-sandwich (like this) for lunch.

Fig and aged cheese for dessert ...

... how about some fig-n-cheese tarts for between-meal as well!

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Even I only had less than an hour to make (and photo-shot) these tartlets, I know the method is fool-prove and the result's stunning. What you need:
  • Mini tart shell tray, pre-greased with butter
  • Rolling pin
  • Round cookie cutter
  • White sesame seeds
  • Sliced bread
  • Fresh fig, cut up
  • Aged goat cheese, premium quality is a must
  • Honey
  • Fresh herb

  1. Sprinkle generous amount of sesame seeds on work table, roll a slice of bread on it. Cut out the bread to a circle and place it into a tart shell.
  2. Bake the tart shells in a medium-hot oven for a minutes or two. Let the bread cools off inside the tray.
  3. Assemble the tartlets only by the time when it's ready to serve. Fill the tarts with fig and cheese, drizzle some honey and place some herb to finish.
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Lemon & Chrysanthemum Bars

2011-09-06T04:41:14.707-07:00

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Chrysanthemum is widely used in Chinese cuisine. When I make tea I always add a small handful of dried one (the species C. morifolium ) in it. Besides of giving it a lovely aroma, chrysanthemum supposes to be able to subside the "heatingness" of body specially during the hot weather. Last week the weather in Barcelona was unbelievably hot and dry, pretty much like roasting myself in a hot oven. I felt a bit sick, but I knew that an extra vitamin C and chrysanthemum shall be doing me good. Then I was thinking of make this version of lemon bars.
I've tasted some other lemon bars whose top pudding is buttery (and soft), which is divine, but this time of the year I really want something much lighter. This version of mine is tart, refreshing and (slightly) firm (to touch). You can re-adjust the amount of sugar, the flour and baking time to suit your own liking.
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Recipe of Lemon & Chrysanthemum Bars
For the bottom layer, you can use your favorite shortbread crust's recipe. I've added 1 Tbp of ground fresh ginger into it too.
For the top layer (for the pan size of 25 x 15 cm):
  • 1/2 cup of regular white sugar
  • 1/2 cup of powder sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 160 ml of fresh lemon juice (2 - 3 lemons)
  • 1 Tbp of lemon zest
  • 3 Tbps of flour
  • 3 dried chrysanthemum, use the petals only
  • 1/2 cup of low-fat milk
  1. After the crust's dough is made, roll/ press a thin layer in the (lined with baking paper and leave two sides overhang) pan. Bake for about 15 minutes in a pre-heat oven of 350C. Take out the pan and set aside while you're preparing the pudding. Leave the oven on but lower the temp to 325C.
  2. Mix the eggs and the regular white sugar for a few minutes. Then add lemon juice, lemon zest, powder sugar and the flour. Stir well. In the very last minutes, stir in milk and the flower petals. Immediately pour the mixture into the pan.
  3. Bake the pie in a medium hot oven (about 325C) for approx. 25 minutes or until it sets. I prefer mine slight firmer, so I turn off the oven and let it sit for another 5 minutes.
  4. Remove the pie from the oven and let it completely cools off inside the pan. Carefully lift up the baking paper's overhang and remove the pie from the pan. Now you can cut it to your preferred size.
  5. Feel free to decorate the lemon bars with more dried flowers and lemon zest. Sprinkle more powder sugar if you like it sweeter.



Cupcake with rose infused frosting

2011-08-20T05:05:54.647-07:00

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I am terribly sorry not to inform you guys why I had been absent for so long. In mid June I took a trip to New Jersey but since I left in a such a hurry, I couldn't leave you a note...

Now I am seeing some comments from old friends and new visitors stuck in my Blogger account and not being published, apologize! And I will be reading each of them, one by one!

Many Chinese cooking, baking and beverage use flowers, which are mostly dried. I grew up with eating (or drinking) lily and chrysanthymum. I'd love to try fresh flowers more often if I had my own garden one day though... while I am still dreaming about it, let me present you these cupcakes, frosted with cream cheese and home-made rose syrup. (recipe to follow soon) (image)



The Smallest Strawberry Shortcake

2011-05-27T04:54:53.621-07:00

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This bamboo tube is very sturdy and can hold up quite many sticks, and the bamboo also give a natural look to the presentation.

... ... I've ever made.
I had been one party that the hotel's chefs made the desserts very very small. I guess since the desserts were served throughout the whole party time (love it!), they were considered as gourmet hors d'oeuvres as well, thus the tiny portion couldn't stuff us up too soon. Tiramisu, mousse or cheesecake was able to fit into a doll's cup; they all were so adorable that I almost couldn't bear to eat them.... almost!
Tomorrow I am hosting a gathering in my small apartment, so now am trying this teeny-weeny shortcake. Each cake is hold up by a long stick before putting into a bamboo tube. I can actually put quite many sticks into one tube, this way also solves the space problem. And to save time, just get store-bought mini cookies and use them as the shortcake (mine is mini Chips Ahoy! :) :)

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To make my smallest strawberry shortcake, you will need:

  • mini cookies, like Chips Ahoy!
  • Whipped cream
  • strawberry
  • fresh herb for garnish
  • long sticks and a bamboo tube for presentation
First, freeze the mini cookies for a few hours. Use a very sharp knife (with a fine tip) to dig out a small hole from the cookies' bottom. Pipe the cream into the hole, top with diced strawberry, garnish with fresh herb. Gentle poke a stick to the top (now is bottom) of the cookie. Place quite a few of sticks into a tube and make it like a bouquet. Whipped cream may lose the stability in a hour. If you want to make the shortcake a few hours ahead, you can replace with cream cheese, and glaze the fruit with diluted apricot jam. Keep in fridge, uncover, until you serve.

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The bamboo tubes are supplied by Restaurantware

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Tortilla (Home-made) Pizza Cone

2011-06-02T05:35:30.254-07:00

The pizzas are put inside pine wood cone/ bamboo cone, and set them up with a bamboo stand Thanks to Facebook, I have a chance to see my good friend Anthony from the photos he posted. He has tons of cocktail parties to attend. Almost in every photo he is holding a glass of wine... I know him though, he doesn't drink. And the kids, if they aren't not holding an ice-cream, then would be a plastic microphone... Maybe, we all love something in a cone shape?!? How about in the next party we serve these mini pizza cones? I am sure from toddlers to adults no one can resist! And they won't make a mess like sliced pizza when people walk around with it at hand. The pizza base/cone is actually a home-made tortilla bread. Once you taste the home-made, you won't go back to the commerically manufactured! The traditional/classic tortilla has lard or vegetable shortening in it, but since olive oil is so famous and superb in this country, I see why not to use it instead. The bread might lose the authenic fluffy texture, but use it as a pizza base I think it is absolutely acceptable. Making it to a cone isn't complicated at all, and I am showing you how we achieve it just with a couple of simple things. Recipe of Home-made Tortilla Bread (yield 12 tortillas, in a diameter of 7 inches/ 18 cm) 450g strong flour, premium quality 2 Tbps olive oil 1 - 2 tsp/s of salt approx 180ml of water Well combine all the above ingredients, knead about 3 minutes, the dough should feel moist but not sticky. Divide the dough to 12 portions (each weights about 70g). Roll each to a circle with a thickness of 3 mm. Pre-heat a large non-adhesive skillet, without adding oil, cook dough over medium to high heat for a minute, then cook the other side for a minute or less. Stack the cooked tortilla together in order to let the steam keep them moist. Serve warm. They freeze well too. After they cool off, separate each tortilla with a piece of plastic film, seal the stack of bread tightly, go to the freezer. Fasten the cone with a toothpick, remove it after baking Place the cones on a rack. Like this rack is readily available at most Asian grocery stores (we normally use it for steaming). To assemble the pizza cones, you will need: some tortilla bread (one bread yields 3 to 4 cones) thick pizza sauce your favorite topping/s, e.g olive, onion, or ham mozzarella parmesan cheese and fresh herb for garnish some toothpicks a metal rack (see the photo above) Cut a tortilla bread to 3 to 4 equal slices. Take one slice, close its two cut sides together and fasten with a toothpick, a cone is formed. Repeat to the rest. Gently push little mozzarella to the cone's bottom (to stop the sauce leak too much during baking), then fill the pizza sauce and olive/onion/ham/etc to the top, sprinkle some mazzarella. Place the cones between two wire of the rack. If the space is too large, you can push a long toothpick through the cone and let the both ends of the toothpick rest on the wire. Bake the cones in a pre-heat oven 180C for 5 - 10 minutes. Remove all the toothpicks, garnish with fresh herb and parmesan, serve immediately. Pine wood/bamboo cones and the cone stand supplied by Restaurantware[...]



Munchkin Devil Eggs (Guilt-free)

2011-05-17T01:33:27.361-07:00

Skewer the munchkin eggs with a braided pick and serve them on a bamboo canoe, they instantly bring an elegant style to your party table. Egg is a very nutritional food, with its adorable appearance, devil egg becomes a popular appetiser. But the classic devil egg contains mayonnaise or salad dressing (usually more than 1 teaspoon in an half egg) which is entirely empty calorie, plus the cholesterol already inside the yolk, this appetiser can be a real devil. Take it in moderation?... I wish I always could, especially in a party, the chat's so fun the wine's so lovely, can I just free myself and not to count how many eggs I ate? So I've made this guilt-free version: the filling is chickpeas in spicy tomato sauce, with a touch of pomegranate. The (cooked) yolk won't go wasted, you can save them for making cookies, or add in a creamy sauce or in a cake batter. I'm totally fond of the tiny size of quail egg, use it instead of classic chicken egg, stick a few together with a decorative pick, no party lover can stop at one! Bamboo canoes and braided picks are supplied by restaurantware To make the spicy tomato and pomegranate sauce: (to me the sauce made from both fresh and canned tomatos is more delicious than that just entirely from fresh or canned) This recipe yields close to 1 cup of sauce which should be more than you need for making the egg's filling, so you can freeze the left-over or combine it with your regular sauce for pasta or pizza) 2 fresh and ripped tomatos, peeled and diced 190 g tomatos in can, drained well a tsp of onion, minced 1 - 2 Tbp/s of tomato paste paprika 2 Tbps pomegranate juice veg oil Drizzle little oil in a skillet, saute the onion over low heat for a minute, raise the heat a bit and add fresh tomato, canned tomato and tomato paste. Once the content is boiling, brings it to simmer for 15 minutes, you can add the pomegranate juice if it is too dry (but it shouldn't be too liquid-ty) Turn off the heat, paprika (and may be very little salt) to taste. Let it cool off To assemble Minchkin Devil Eggs 2 dozens of quail eggs (good enough for 6 persons as starter) a handful of cooked chickpeas in jar, drain very well spoonsfuls of tomato and pomegranate sauce for garnish: fresh/frozen pomegranate seeds, celery stalks and flat parsley leaves Boil the quail eggs for 7 minutes. Once they're done, soak them in cold water for 2 miutes. Then remove the shell, use a very sharp knife to cut eggs into two halves, remove the yolks. Puree the chickpeas very well. Puree the tomato sauce very well too. (easy for piping) Combine the chickpeas and tomato sauce, the ratio is totally up to you: more chickpea more creamier; more sauce more color more moist (my fav!). Spoon/pipe the filling into the egg white. Use a peeler to get very thin celery slices (soak them in lemon water until you're ready to assemble) . Put it through a decorative pick, then stick one munchkin devil egg or 2, top the eggs with parsely and pomegranate seed. Serve immediately ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------[...]



Feta, Cumin, Pea-Pica

2011-05-20T22:59:15.770-07:00

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Decorate the cakes with a ball skewer and serve them on a bamboo coupelle, the presentation gives a special touch to your theme party.

"Picar" means "to nibble" in Spanish, so "pica pica" means finger food. I just love the sound of it so I also add "pica" this word when I named this feta, cumin & pea mini cake.

Fresh green pea is available in spring and the beginning of summer. It is sweet, juicy and tender, is one of the most delicious food on earth! Although the frozen pea is a totally different animal, you won't make a long face if you add some creative juice to the recipe :)

In this cake I use frozen pea, combine with feta cheese, cumin and sesame seeds, the flavor turns out incredible! To garnish with orange/lemon zests to create a stronger color-contrast, these cake are screaming, "eat me!"

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The ball skewers and the coupelles are supplied by restaurantware

Recipe of Feta, Cumin and Pea-Pica

(yield 20 mini cakes, each 3cm in diameter, enough for 4 persons as finger food)

*I'm inspired by the recipe of Polpette di piselli con feta, which is published in Grandi fritti all'italiana, il meglio di Sale & Pepe, passioni 9*
  • 300 g frozen pea of high quality
  • 2 Tbps of feta cheese, crumble up
  • 1 1/2 Tbps flour
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, crush them up finely
  • some sesame seeds
  • zest from tangerine/orange/lemon
  1. Bring a pot of water to boil, simmer the peas for 2 minutes. Drain well.
  2. Puree the pea, stir in feta, a good pinch of cumin and the flour. The mixture is paste-like.
  3. Pour some sesame seeds on a large plate. Use 2 spoons to help (and moist your hand if necessary) to drop some pea mixture on the plate, and shape it to a small ball.
  4. Heat oil (3 - 4 cm deep) to medium hot, fry the pea cakes. In the first 2 minutes the cakes start floating, continue to fry them for a couple minutes more, or until before they turn brown.
  5. Use a slot spoon to remove the cakes, and place them on kitchen paper towel to absorb the excess oil. Sprinkle some orange/lemon/tangerine zest over to finish.

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White Chocolate Cheesecake

2011-05-05T05:54:27.044-07:00

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Do you like to have cheese (yes just cheese, not cake) for dessert? I do.
Many years ago, I had a neighbor who's from Belgium that we're friend with, she loved to use our big kitchen (as her mother-in-law converted the kitchen to three bedrooms...) to cook for party. Everytime she had cheese for dessert, but I hadn't ever been influenced, I was still faithful to ice-cream, cakes, pies, etc.
But it just happens suddenly in this year... after a lovely meal at restaurant, my stomach is comfortably full but not stuff, feeling fruit being too light and cake being too overwhelming to round up the meal, so I have little cheese (which is usually cut into very thin, and accompanied with mamarlade-alike topping). That's exactly hit the spot!
Maybe next time I'll take some photos to the local cheese... and for this time, absolutely without a fuss, let me make non-bake cheese(cake), still delightful and super-easy to do. The dessert has high calories though, so takes it moderately, a small portion can go a long way.

Recipe for White Chocolate Cheesecake

(yield 4 small cups)

  • 150 g white chocolate
  • 120 g Light cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup low fat milk
  • 1 1/2 tsps agar-agar powder
  • some organic strawberry, thinly slice
  • option: home-made shortbread cookies for the base
  1. Slowly heat the milk and dissolve the agar-agar powder
  2. Finely chop the white chocolate, and melt it over the double-boiler. Once it melts, remove from the heat and let it cool off a little bit
  3. Well combine the white chocolate, cheese and agar-mixture.
  4. Line 4 tea/coffee cups with cling wrap, place the strawberry slices around the sides, spoon in the cheese mixture.
  5. Chill them for 5 hours. Place a cookie on a serving place, unmold the cheesecake, remove the plastic and put it above the cookie, garnish with more strawberry.

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Soft mini hamburger bun

2011-04-30T00:51:44.353-07:00

To make home-made bread very soft, we may add more water, cream, butter and/or egg as "softener". But they (except the water) taste a bit sweet and rich, to make coffee roll they are absolutely fine. Since I wanted hamburger bun, I got to think other more suitable "softener". What about (white) cheese slice?! Could the taste be alright?!? The result turns out wonderful :) The bread is real soft, you might even confuse that it's from store. This type of cheese has no flavor, ironically hamburger bun doesn't need any cheese flavor, so it fits. There is one drawback though, the cheese contains conservatives, but not sure it would be a consolation to you if I tell you that 4 cheese slices can make over 30 mini buns, so each bread isn't that unhealthy, I think?! Last week was the Easter's holidays, I took some kids out a lot. To save little money we packed our snacks, one of them was this 2-bite-size bun (we sandwiched with ham or cheese or just salad). To see these mini buns, their cutie lunch boxes, their little hands... I was a big woman wearing a big wide smile. Recipe for Soft mini hamburger bun (yield over 30 mini buns) 800 g strong flour 25 g fresh yeast 4 white cheese slices 1 1/2 tsps salt 1 tsp sugar 1 Tbp veg oil 390+ ml water, lukewarm (the dough has to be a bit moist) for topping: white sesames or poppy seeds a few ice cubes Directions: Well-combine all the ingredients. Knead dough until it's smooth and elastic. The dough must be a bit moist, although not sticky to hand. Place the dough in a pre-greased large bowl, cover, let it rest in fridge for a few hours. It should double its volume. Lightly dust the work table with little flour (or none at all if your dough doesn't stick), knead the dough about 30 times. Divide it into small portions (each weights 40 g). Cover them with a moist towel and rest until they return to room temperature. Shape the doughs into small balls, then sprinkle the toppings, place them on large baking trays. Cover them with moist towel, let them rest until they increase the volume to almost double. Pre-heat the oven to 190C. Throw in three ice cubes at the bottom of the oven, and immediately place the baking tray (bake one tray at a time) to the middle rack. Baking time should be less than 10 minutes. Tape the bottom of the bread if it sounds hollow, the bread is done. Repeat the same process to the next trays. The bread is still soft on the next day (keep them in refridge). But I'd suggest, after they cool off, just freeze all of the left-over.------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ [...]



Cheesecake in Chocolate Egg Shell

2011-04-15T08:55:52.602-07:00

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I hope these photos give you a chuckle :):)
But in fact these days I feel very down. For those who have child/ren not sure if you feel the same way as me... when my kid is cheated by her friend, plus received some unfair comments from another mean kid, I rather is the one who gets hurt. I feel I am so helpless ... although she behave so calmly seems able to comfort to me a bit, or maybe, she doesn't feel as sad as me???
Then I opened her collection box and saw all these fluffy chicks, I laughed. Inspired by the soulful saying about turning lemon to lemonade, I decided to make these cheesecake "eggs".
What you need:
- Store-bought hollow chocolate eggs (an example)
- any of your favorite cheesecake recipe... we only do the filling part
- mini cupcake/muffin
Use a very sharp serrate knife to cut off the chocolate shell's top (empty the toy), spoon in some cheese pudding, drop the cake/muffin in the center. Decorate with tiny fluffy chickens.
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Choco-jam-n-nut cookies

2011-04-06T03:51:05.633-07:00

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Recently I prepared some theater costumes for kids. The theme was mix-n-match, something very colorful and overwhelming. In the beginning I wasn't sure if I could enjoy doing it as something too colorful isn't my style. After the job was done (there were many other people involved the work), in fact, that numerous colors, bold and contrast, seemed to be mindlessly put together but turned out to be very cheerful and pleasing.

Now I look at these colorful place mats which I never used, wouldn't be a good idea to put them together?! :)

I also made these cookies... the texture supposes to be crumbly (due to a high proportion of chopped nuts). There are many things going on here too: the dough is chocolate-y and super-nutty (I used three types of nuts), the filling is a little bit of fruit preserve. I don't create my own recipe, I searched a few of them from internet, then combined and improvise according to my liking.

Have fun!




Lots, & lots of breads...

2011-03-30T03:54:22.074-07:00

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Front: Mediterrean rolls Left: Hongkong rolls

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The dough requires longer time (and lower temperature) in fermentation actually giving me more flexibility.

One pair of hand. One oven. One morning. I have made lots and lots of bread for 45 people. I would like to share my experience in planning:
  • Days ahead I already did one dough (enough for half of the people), then freeze it. This bread should have high moisture (good for baking ahead and reheating), so I suggest focaccia or my "friday rolls".
  • The day before the "big" day, I defrozed the dough and baked the bread. After they completely cooled off, sealed them well and kept at fridge.
  • The night before the "big" morning, I did another dough but it was no-knead bread. I have to free myself more time for more important work instead of spending time on kneading. The dough was rest in fridge overnigh.
  • One the "big" day's morning, I baked the no-knead bread, reheated the rolls, (took photos :):) and packed.
  • One key, made all the bread into tiny rolls. For home oven, always bake one tray at a time, but the rolls are so small so take less than 10 minutes, therefore the next tray can go in quick.

I have made mediterrean rolls (with different flavors) and Hongkong green onion-n-ham rolls. You guess which the people like the best?

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Weekend Delight - Assorted Macarons

2011-03-26T05:58:19.352-07:00

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Macaron probably is the most favorite topic for food bloggers. May be it is so French... or so cute... or so challenging to make it perfect, it just gives us a lot to talk about.

But oh no, I don't make these. I am still worrying how I make bread for 50 persons in one morning (you know I don't have a mixer or bread machine). I will update you on that later.

This macaron comes with a flavor of: chocolate, coffee, strawberry, lemon and pistachio, made by Paul's, a popular French bakery in Barcelona.

Have a stress-free weekend!

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Basic Orange Sponge Cake

2011-03-11T16:48:13.258-08:00

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Before I start, please note that I haven't made the cake perfect. I've missed out a step that caused lumps in my cake. However, the recipe is definitely a keeper as it's DELICIOUS.

I always like to observe what little kids like to eat. Their palates haven't spoiled yet. For cupcake, they actually scape out all gooey sugary frosty and only go for the cake. By the way, their little tongue can also detect if the eggs you used are fresh enough.

With this picture in my mind, I began to search for a recipe of an oldie-but-goodie Hongkong cake, it's called paper-cup (shape) sponge cake. All kids love it. Due to our eating culture, this sponge cake is more rich than that of European style. I'd say, ours is fairy similar to chiffon cake. For sure, it tastes beautifully and good enough to be a star of its own.

Last but not the least, only use super-fresh eggs for this recipe... your kids can tell :):)

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Recipe of Basic Orange Sponge Cake

(yield 6 - 9 small cakes depending the size of your coffee/tea cup)

The originial recipe is called Hongkong Cupcake, written by Christine

  • 5 super-fresh eggs, medium-sized
  • 50 g butter, of premium quality
  • 70 g sugar
  • 130 ml fresh orange juice
  • optional: a tiny spoonful of (organic) orange zest
  • 100 g cake flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Steps:

  1. Boil the orange juice in a small pot, then simmer it for about 30 minutes until it comes down to 60 ml. Set aside.
  2. Sift the flour twice (it is very important but I forgot to do it, my batter ended up with some lumps)
  3. Melt the butter, set side.
  4. Separate the egg whites from the yolks placing them into two different large bowls
  5. Beat the egg yolks until it looks pale.
  6. Well-combine the flour with orange juice, orange zest, melted butter and the yolks, set aside, and so let the flour have time to absorb the liquid. (my mistake, I did this step at the last minutes)
  7. Line your coffee cup/ tea cup with baking paper. Pre-heat oven to 180 C
  8. Beat the egg white with a pinch of salt and cream of tartar until it reachs soft-peak, gradually add sugar and continue to beat until it just before reaches stiff form.
  9. Gently fold in the egg white into the flour mixture. Spoon the batter into the lined cups.
  10. Bake cakes, depending their size, 20 - 25 minutes, or test with a toothpick, if it comes out clean the cakes are done then.

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Ricotta Tortellini & Brussels Sprout in Garlic Oil

2011-03-08T06:52:51.478-08:00

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Bamboo boat and bamboo skewer & fork supplied by Restaurantware.com

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Garlic, lots of garlic :)

My pantry always runs out of garlic. Local people always buy garlic. Bless me, so far I haven't attacked by a garlic-breath when I talk to anybody here.

Drizzle some oil in a skillet, throw in a lot of fresh garlic slices, now turn on the heat but keep it very low, saute the garlic for 2 minutes. Raise up the heat a little bit, saute the Brussels sprouts for 3 minutes, discard any garlic which got burnt. Add little vegetable stock and cook the Brussels sprout at medium heat for 2 minutes. Toss in cooked ricotta tortellini and cook for another minute. Sprinkle some chopped parsley leaves and grate hard cheese to finish.




Rose Chocolate Ganache

2011-03-01T18:18:51.631-08:00

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I love chocolate: receiving it, eating it, and collecting it.

When I was a kid, I saved the chocolate wrapping foils that I ate and kept them in my books. There wasn't really a lot as back then food didn't come plentiful. And the most fancy chocolate I had probably was Ferrero Rocher.

Recently I like to collect flower-infused chocolates, like lavender, sumbucus and rose. Sometimes I'd wrap it with hand-made flower petal paper, place a small dried flower bouquet on top, give it to my best friends as a gift.

But more often the chocolate goes straight to my tummy :) :) Today I have time to elaborate it to an elegant petit four. I cooked the rose-infused chocolate with cream and butter, then poured into (store-bought) dark chocolate cups, topped with chocolate shavings, dried roses and almond chocolate stick to finish.

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White plastic plate supplied by Restaurantware

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Chocolate-coated puffed rice

2011-02-27T16:51:59.655-08:00

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Sharing runs in my family. Not just a nibble, if we get a sandwich, we happily give an half to our brothers or sisters.

So when I first knew my little niece who wouldn't share, I didn't know what to say. 'It's mine. You can get your own,' she said.

'If you share it, it tastes better!', I suggested. It's true to me.

She gave me some from hers. She probably did it to please me. I hope somedays she really finds it taste better :)

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Bamboo cones supplied by Restaurantware.com

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Sun-dried Tomato, Onion & Olive Foccacia

2011-02-20T09:18:00.606-08:00

cut-up foccacia topped with cheese, tomato sauce and quail egg When I first started making breads, to learn which and which requiring more/fewer proofings wasn't too confusing, but to accomplish a specific one did give me a headache.During winter the daytime is short and cold. To make some easy buns (with one time proofing only) wasn't that easy though. In order to create an ideal temperature of 25 degrees for proofing, I had tried warming up an oven or placing a big bowl of hot water inside. Everything is do-able, but double the work wasn't fun.Now I realize that the breads can be coming seasonal, yes, pretty much like fruit, good melon is found in summer and good tangerine in winter. For those easy buns or any others just requiring one quick shot of proofing, I do them in the summer then.Now is in winter, my house isn't effectively heated, so is always staying cold, around 10 to 15 degrees, which is ideal for proofing various European style of loaves and this foccacia! Their doughs are fermented under a lower temperature for a longer time, some need more than 2 proofings. It could easily be a 2-day work, but in fact I have not much to do except ooh-aahing to see my bread slowly born.One thing about foccacia, I used to wonder why only this bread has "dimples". After I made it many times, I know the dough generally very high in water content, therefore, it is too sticky and lumpy to shape. The best thing to do is just flopping it into a tray, use our moist fingers to press it flatter until it reaches the corners of the tray, so our fingers leave the dimple marks. Then the last question, to knead such a sticky dough by hand is easy or not? My answer can be yes since the dough is very tender, and can be no as we are very tempted to add too much flour. In the recipe I will share one trick or two on how to avoid the dough sticking to our hands. If you are not making plain foccacia but adding some extra ingredients like mine, you may give extra time to proof the dough Recipe of sun dried tomato, onion & black olive foccacia (yield two 13 x 8-inch-trays, or 16 servings) 200 g flour 170 ml water5 g fresh yeast820 + 100 g flour20 g fresh yeast2 tsp salt20 ml extra virgin olive oil30ml vegetable oil430 ml water, lukewarmfor flavoring the bread, I used: 10 pcs of sun dried tomato, 3 tsps of black olive paste, 1/4 onion, and 2 tsps of dried oreganoDirection:In a large bowl, stir to combine 200 g flour, 170 ml water and 5 g yeast. Cover, leave it in a very cool place (or the lowest shelf of refrigerator) for half day. It should almost triple to its volume.In another very large bowl, use a wooden spoon stir to combine the yeast mixture from point 1, 820 g flour, 20 g yeast, 430 ml water, salt and the two oils. Place the 100 g of flour aside, you'll use it to dust the hands and table during kneading. Turn the dough on the table, knead it about 10 minutes. The dough is very soft and sticky. In order not to be tempted to add excessive flour (more flour, less moist interior of the bread), scrap the work table and your hands clean from time to time, and lightly dust the table and your hands often. Grease a very large bowl and a piece of plastic film, place the dough inside the bowl, cover with the plastic, proof in a cold place for a few hours.Soak the dried tomatos until soft, then finely dice them. Dusk the work table, turn the dough out, add in tomato, finely diced onion, olive paste and oregano, knead a [...]



Olives

2011-03-03T18:42:09.449-08:00

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As for the stuffed olives, anchovy filled green olive is almost the type that's enjoyed by everyone in this city.

It's taken me a while to get use to the combined flavor even I am an anchovy-lover. In fact, some of their packs/cans just say stuffed olive and don't bother to mention anchovy at all as if everyone has already expected it.

Now, I am loving it!

The olives have a more profound taste that go very well with table red wine.

Have a happy weekend!

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Bamboo picks and mini pinewood cup supplied by Restaurantware.com