Happy (Belated) Valentine’s Day

I hope everyone had a great Valentine’s Day!  I quickly put together a pretty standard dinner risotto but gave it that extra festive touch by making little heart-shaped pie crust and filling them with the risotto as a lovely little surprise.  Boy were these a big hit.  My youngest decided to hoard all the extras and not give any of us more than one.  She relented eventually, but it was quite amusing to see her surrounded by hearts when everyone else only had a single one.  Recipes I used were this for the crust and an adaption of this for the risotto.  All I did differently with the risotto was use pancetta and add peas in lieu of the prosciutto.  Delicious and fun!

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Bakery Blues

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One of my main sorrows in leaving the city is the lack of a good sit-down bakery to enjoy delicious baked goods for breakfast (I’m not talking about cupcakes).  Ever since our first daughter was born, we made a ritual of going out to breakfast on the week-ends.  I would bring my daughter to one of the various coffee/ bakery shops around us and we would enjoy some quality mommy-daughter time.  It was always such a pleasant way to begin the week-end.  In moving to the suburbs, I had a hard time finding the perfect breakfast spot that had the ambiance and the the quality of baked goods.  One of our favorite places to frequent in Brooklyn was a wonderful little bakery called Blue Sky Bakery.  They make the most delicious muffins.  All of them are fresh-made daily and incorporate seasonal ingredients, such as fresh pumpkin or apple in the fall, peaches in the summer, and so on.  On any given day, they have at least 10 varieties to choose from.  My daughter loved to eat all of the fruit out of my muffins and we thoroughly enjoyed the varieties offered each day.

I wondered if I could find the recipe for these muffins, as the shop only had two base recipes, one bran and one non-bran, with different fruit mixtures for variety.  I was in luck and thank you Google for helping me find it!  These are seriously the best bran muffins I have had and I was so excited to find the recipe out there.  I found out that it was published in a cookbook “Table of Contents“.  You can use any combination of fruit in these muffins and they are always amazing.  I made these as my two year old sat on the kitchen counter watching me create these wonders and when they were done, she dug in, eating all the fruit out of the center, just like her sister used to do.  It’s like they’re related!  You should try these muffins out.  Not too sweet, very easy and fast, extremely delicious!

Blue Sky Bakery Bran Muffin (makes 2 dozen)

  • 2 and 2/3 c buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 c vegetable oil
  • 3 c. wheat bran
  • 2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp baking soda
  • 1/2 c. dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cup fruit (I used raspberries and peaches)

Preheat oven to 425 and coat muffin tin with butter or cooking spray.

Mix buttermilk, eggs and oil in a medium bowl.

In seperate bowl combine wheat bran, flour, baking powder, baking soda, brown sugar and salt.

Pour wet mixture into dry one and mix until just combined.

Place about 2 tbsp of batter in each muffin tin (the batter will expand to fill about 1/2 the cup).  Place a generous layer of fruit  (about 2 heaping teaspoons) into each cup.  Measure 2 tsp of the sugar in a small bowl, taking pinches with your fingers, sprinkle the sugar over the fruit.  Divide remaining batter evenly among the muffin cups.  Place remaining 2 tspn of sugar into bowl and pinch and sprinkle the sugar over the top!

Bake for 5 minutes.  Rotate muffin tins front to bake to ensure even cooking and bake for another 11-13 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs sticking to it.  Do NOT overbake.

Cook on wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove muffins from tin.

 

Happy New Year 2017!

We were fortunate enough to have my parents visiting for the New Year, which allowed me to be a little more ambitious for our New Year’s dinner.  I have been wanting to teach the girls how to make dumplings.  I still have fond memories as a child of all of us seated at the kitchen table making dumplings, talking and joking while making delicious food. These are the kinds of small traditions I want to pass on to my children, but it is a lot of work for just one person to prepare all of the ingredients and follow through, because, inevitably, children’s attention spans are short. With my mom in town, this eliminated a lot of these concerns as we have been working together for so long that it’s almost like second nature when we are together and making food.

We ended up making three different dumplings: shui jiao and guo tie (same style, just cooked differently), wontons and shumei. Can I just say, TASTY!!!!  To save time we bought the store-bought dumpling wrappers but made the filling from scratch. Making it fun for the kids, we had on child per adult and I had my daughters separate the he dumpling skins, spoon the filling, and put water around the perimeter of the hehe he skins for sealing.  My mom, husband and I wrapped the dumplings.  When they get older they can get more interactive, learning how to wrap the different types of dumplings.

Dumpling filling (for 5 packs of small, round dumpling skins):

2 lb ground pork

1 lb diced shrimp

2 lb chopped chives

4 stalks scallions, diced

4 slices Ginger, diced

2 T cooking wine

1 tsp white pepper

2 tsp salt

2 T cornstarch

4 T soy sauce

4 T sesame oil

Mix all ingredients together and let it sit for at least 30 minutes. Wrap away!

Happy New Year to all!

Return from the Motherland!

We returned from a 10-day, 15-hour (each way) plane ride from Taiwan last Wednesday evening with our extremely jet-lagged toddler in tow.  Can I just say that people know how to eat there?  I cannot believe for the amount of food people ingest there, that everyone is as skinny as they are.  Well, without further ado, here is a short photolog of the foods we had while there.  I hope you enjoy!

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Fu Hang Do Jang (阜杭豆漿– nothing like a little Taiwanese creuller in a sesame pancake to start the day

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Gua Bao (割包) – Taiwanese hamburger as modelled by my brother-in-law and wife

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Chive Pancake with fresh warm soy milk

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Nightmarket fare – shredded cuttlefish, sticky rice in bamboo leaves, Taiwanese Sticky Rice with Sausage (大腸包小腸), Taiwanese sausage, and Pepper Cakes (胡椒餅)

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Spicy Hotpot (麻辣火鍋)

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My daughter picking clams for lunch

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Traditional shi-fan breakfast with fresh soymilk

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Steamed chive dumplings

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Yogurt drink at the family mart and my daughter enjoying one

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Peanut soup with tofu curd and one of the many family feasts we enjoyed

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My daughter enjoying starfruit and lembu

Back to Our Roots!

We are going on a long-planned trip to Taiwan in a week for 10 days. I remember the last time I went to Taiwan, which was almost 14 years ago. I can’t believe it has been that long!  Now, while going and seeing family is always great, I must say one of the best things about going to Taiwan is the food.  Food food food!  I recently stumbled across this CNN article all about the wonderful foods that I’m about to partake in.  I had to laugh at the first one.  This is is so quintessentially Taiwanese: simple, affordable, delicious, and fatty!  I just LOVE going to Taiwan and having this.

I’m positively drooling just thinking of all the yummy foods I’m going to get.  At the top of my list are the 滷肉飯 (Braised Pork over Rice), 太陽餅 (Suncakes), Zhong-zhi, 割包 (Gua-bao – Taiwanese Hamburger), Do-hua (delivious tofu curd over sweet peanut soup), and the 鳳梨酥 (Pineapple cakes).  But oh, the list goes on and on!

This will be my daughter’s first time going to Taiwan so I’m looking forward to having her try all sorts of yummy foods that are part of her heritage.  If she’s anything like her dad and me, she’ll be a very happy girl!  What are your favorite foods to share with your family?