Showing posts from March, 2009

Cinnamon raisin swirl bread

After the plain sandwich bread, I decided to attempt the cinnamon swirl bread. The dough is similar to the sandwich bread, with higher percentages of butter and sugar. The swirl pattern used to really fascinate me. I remember thinking to myself when I was eating a slice of the Pepperidge Farm cinnamon swirl bread "how did they get the swirl in there??" All it really takes is to roll out the dough, sprinkle cinnamon sugar, and roll it into a log again. The bread internal temperature reached 188F before I removed it from the oven. And I let the bread cool for a good 45 minutes before slicing -- supposedly the bread continues cooking after it's taken out of the oven. So if one slices into the bread immediately, it will not have finished cooking and the rest will cool down so fast that it also remains undercooked. This time the bread has a buttery soft texture without being gummy. I think next time I will add some toasted walnuts.

first the dough was shaped into an 8" w…

Making Biscotti

Biscotti is the plural form of biscotto. Bis- means twice, while -cotto means cooked or baked. These crispy cookies are baked twice to give them a super crispy texture and a dry state which allows them to be kept for weeks. This is one of the easiest cookies to make. The dough is made with creamed butter and sugar, eggs, flavoring and fillings (like nuts, raisins, etc), and then the dry ingredients (flour, salt, and baking powder). It's quite a sticky dough. So the only tricky part is forming them into two long and flat logs for the first baking -- well-floured hands are necessary to avoid sticking. After they are baked to fairly firm and starting to crack on top, they are cooled slightly and sliced. The sliced cookies are baked again on both sides to dry them out quickly. I followed the recipe from The Best Recipe that included almond extract, orange zest and toasted almonds. Yum!

Making an American Sandwich Loaf

Contrary to the European breads, the American sandwich breads are much softer and less crusty. This is mainly due to the use of lower-gluten flour and the addition of fat in the forms of butter, oil, or milk. I'm sure everyone likes the complex flavored European breads, which tend to have longer fermentation times and better starting ferment -- basically leftover yeasty dough from decades of bread making. But to make a nice soft PB&J sandwich or an Asian style breakfast sandwich (ham + egg), the American sandwich bread really offers the best texture. This recipe is from The Best Recipe (from people who publish Cook's Illustrated) and is very easy and efficient. The dough is made with all-purpose flour, salt, baking powder, milk, water, butter, and instant yeast. Isn't it magical that these amorphous ingredients can come together and become this beautiful looking piece of food?

After only ~40 minutes of fermenting, the dough was rolled to an 8"x8" square -- ba…

Orchid Show at the NY Botanical Garden

The New York Botanical Garden is in the Bronx area, and is SUPER far from where I live. It took me a good 1.5 hours on the train and then 15 minutes of walking to get here. But the weather was gorgeous today, so I didn't mind the walking. The air was crisp and cool. The orchid show took place in the gigantic green house complex where a large number of tropical plants are kept. There are some interesting breeds of orchids, but overall I was somewhat disappointed by the variety on display. I thought there would have been more exotic species. Nevertheless there were many beautiful flowers to behold:

Fake Croissant

These look like croissant but they are really just like dinner rolls. It's a rapid rise yeast dough with butter and baking powder added. They are better right after baking. They tend to dry out quickly after a day or two -- but they do not become crispy kind of dry; they dry from the inside out, still tender, but the crumbs are more saw-dust like. They are ok for a breakfast sandwich!

Obviously I need to practice rolling out dough into a square shape...these are in all very inconsistent sizes!!

which is why there are fat ones and skinny ones

Thank goodness they all bake at about the same rate, fat or slim!

Saturday night dinner

This is what we had on Saturday night for dinner -- poached halibut with a sweet and sour sauce (改編版西湖醋魚), brussels sprouts in a tomato sauce (茄汁小包心菜), and steamed egg with toppings of diced mushroom and chicken in an oyster sauce (名為雞粒豆腐 -- 實際上是蒸蛋加蠔油雞粒香菇的澆頭). And as you can see, we are now eating multi-grain rice! Well, the reason for this post is to show off our new plates! We just got a new set of plates from Crate and Barrel. After much deliberation, I decided to just buy all white plates and bowls. But I made sure to mix in some rectangular and square dishes with the round ones. I opted for the fairly thick and sturdy types, rather than those super thin bone china plates. I don't think I will ever like using bone china for dinner because I will be too afraid to use them. Also I'd like to stick dirty dishes in the dishwasher. And of course, these are much much cheaper!

GMHC fund raising event "Savor"

The GMHC is a non-profit organization that works on public policy issues such as prevention and care for HIV/AIDS. I was lucky enough to be Mike's date at a table that his firm bought for the night. The event was billed as a "foodie"night, featuring Ted Allen as the host, and four famous NYC chefs who were responsible for each of the 4 courses served.

First course by Anita Lo (Annisa): Ceviche of sea scallops with celery and green apple - I think this was a typo. It was julienned celery root in the middle, and decorated with a couple of celery leaves. Overall it was not very flavorful. There wasn't much of the sour and sweet and salty contrasts I was expecting. The scallops were barely ceviche because it was pretty much raw. It was also over-salted with this brown sea salt. I have to say, we were also disappointed by the restaurant Annisa's tasting menu a couple of years ago. I've also heard gripes about her other ventures (Rickshaw, The Dumpling Truck). What&…

A hidden isle of calmness - Hangawi

Nuts and dumplings -- steamed dumplings stuffed with ground nuts and vegetables. The wrapper is typical tender Korean style (in contrast to the more elastic and chewy Chinese kind). Nothing to write home about.

Tofu clay pot in ginger sauce - tender tofu with fried skin around it in a well-seasoned and balanced ginger sauce. Served with multi-grain rice. Very good.

Vermicelli Genghis Khan - vermicelli with a variety of fresh vegetables and mushrooms in a extremely flavorful and full-bodied broth. Excellent.

Acorn noodle salad. Nice sweet and tangy sauce with crunchy vegetables, fruits, and chewy noodles. Still not sure what the acorn is supposed to taste like. Ok.

Kabocha pumpkin stone bowl rice. A twist on bimbibop. The rice is mixed with herbs, roasted vegetables and, of course, roasted kabocha squash. Very tasty!

Overall Hangawi offers a comfortable and peaceful dining environment. One is totally removed from the bustling world outside. The food is all vegetarian; however, they have …