Words are sweet but they can never replace food.
~ Nigerian Proverb
Arkensen’s birthday coincidentally fell on spring break. He invited a few friends over to celebrate his birthday with him. So, instead of buying a cake from the bakery as we normally do in the past, I baked him some cupcakes instead. Cupcakes go very well with kids celebration like birthday parties or classroom celebrations. Because they are baked in a paper cup container, they do not require plates or utensils for serving — no dishes to wash!
BTW, do you know that cupcake is also known as fairy cake?
- 2.5 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 large eggs
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup canola or corn oil
- 2 tsps vanilla extract
- 1 cup sour cream
Man is like pepper — you only know him when you’ve ground him.
~ Nigerian Proverb
I’ve never paid much attention to Mexican food. Maybe it’s because the names are so hard to remember and pronounce — or maybe there are too many syllables to those Mexican names! Maybe too, it’s because that I don’t really care much about dishes with beans. Beans makes the guys at home fart a lot!
I learn a little bit about Mexican food the past week when the Richmond Cooking Club featured simple Mexican food — salsa, guacomole, tortilla, enchiladas and nachos. This piqued my interests now on Mexican food and will try to learn more about it.
Today, I am going to blog on a very simple snack which I believe is a favourite with almost everyone. Nanchos in its simplest form is tortilla chips covered in melted cheese. You can add additional toppings such as salsa, sour cream, olives, jalapeno and what nots.
Here is an interesting story I found out about Nachos in Wikipedia:
Nachos were created in Coahuila, Mexico by Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya in 1943. The story goes that the wives of American airmen came to his restaurant after the kitchen had closed. Anaya quickly prepared the dish and later added it to his menu. The term “nachos” came from Anaya’s original name for the dish, which was “Nacho’s Especiales,” or “Nacho’s Special Dish.” Nacho Anaya’s original nachos consisted of fried tortilla chips covered with melted cheese and jalape?o peppers.
- A bag of Tostitos tortilla chips
- Shredded cheese
- A bottle of salsa, we prefer the hot and chunky type
- Pickle pepper, optional
Note: The latest post about the Richmond Public Market is of February 2011 and is found on this link.
We had earlier blogged about the Richmond Public Market. This week we went again to the Public Market to have a quick and small lunch because we had plans for a big dinner tonight.
Many of our Chinese friends had recommended that we try the buns from a stall called Tian Jing Northern Cuisine. The buns, called Xiao Long Bao (literally “little basket bun”), were very different in that it is not only filled with meat, it also is filled with broth! It’s amazing how they are made in such a way that the watery broth does not leak or absorb out. You gotta try it and see what I mean.
Xiao Long Bao are traditionally steamed in bamboo baskets, hence the name. It can be filled with hot soup and meat and/or vegetarian fillings, as well as other possibilities. The fillings are wrapped in something like a jiaozi wrapper that turns almost translucent after being steamed. Shanghai steamed buns can be recognized by their unique design, as the filled wrapper is gathered up into fine folds at the top, prior to steaming.
The buns we bought costs just $2.99 for six small buns. Just enough for a light lunch.
We were attracted by another type of buns in the same store which is called Gou Bu Li Bun — translated literally as “even dogs would not touch”!! It looks like ordinary buns.
These buns actually is similar to the smaller Xiao Long Bao — the filling is pork meat and has broth in it too. Unlike other types of buns, you’re advised to eat these buns with a chopstick, not with your hands. It’s because the soup/broth does spill all over your hands. The soup inside is created by placing some meat gelatin inside the dumpling before steaming. The steam heat melts the gelatin into soup.
This dish costs $4.75 for six buns and comes with a spicy and sour soup.
Personally I felt that it’s really nothing special other than the fact that it is filled with soup. It’s just OK but if I want buns I will go for char siew pau anytime.
You know what? I might just blog about making char siew pau one of these days.
Make bread while the oven is hot.
~ Iranian Proverb
I love cinnamon buns with cream cheese frosting, so does the others in the family. Everytime I walk past the bakeries or the bakery section in grocery stores I can’t help eyeing the yummy looking cinnamon buns (WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING) on the shelves. They are too expensive and costs a dollar or more each. Naw, I can make it much cheaper and tastes just equally as good.
This is my masterpiece — looks good? :-)
It’s very simple to make … provided you have a bread machine to make the dough. If you do that manually, there is so many factors that contributes to a perfect dough — kneading, water temperature, proofing the yeast, etc. With the machine, you just need to throw in all the ingredients and let the machine spin it’s magic — all done and prep’ed in two hours. Invest in a bread machine if you don’t have one.
I make this at least once a month. Nothing beats freshly made cinnamon buns when it comes out smelling nice and the soft, fluffy insides that nearly melts in your mouth. Perfect with a cup of fresh brewed coffee.
The ingredients below is used to make 12 cinnamon buns:
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup butter or margarine, cut up
- 3 cups bread flour
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1.25 teaspoons active dry yeast or bread machine yeast
- 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
|I briefly described making dough in a previous posting (refer to the blog on Spicy Pulled Pork Bun).|
|I used a rolling pin to roll out the dough to a rectangular shape about 12″ x 8″.|
|Next, I brush the rolled out dough with melted butter leaving 1″ at the edge. The melted butter will help the brown sugar stick to the surface.|
|I then sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon powder on top of the melted butter. Use as much cinnamon powder or brown sugar as you like it to be.|
|Next step — I rolled up into a tight roll, lengthwise (i.e. along the wider/12″ side of the dough).|
|It is important that you pinch the seam tightly all round, including the two ends. You need to do this so that when you cut it into pieces they don’t unravel.|
|Make 12 even sized slits on the roll to form 12 pieces. One simple technique is to first make three slits (of four equal sections) and then make further slits in between them to form 12 pieces in all. You understand what I mean?|
|You can now cut through the slits to get 12 pieces of individual buns of about 1″ thick each. If you pinch the ends correctly, they should not unravel.|
|I then arrange the buns on a parchment lined baking pan, spacing them out evenly.|
|Brush the buns with melted butter. I think doing this will prevent a hard crust on the top. Next step is to allow the buns to rise — this takes about 1 hour. Some people place it in a warm place with a damp tea towel over it. For me, I place them in a slightly warm oven. I normally switch on the oven to the lowest heat while I rolled out the dough. When the buns are prepared, I switch off the oven and place the buns in the oven to rise.|
|After 1 hour, the buns have risen to double its original size and ready to be baked. I used a 13″ by 9″ pan — and once they are risen, they will touch and stick to one another. You want to have them touching and sticking to one another because this will make it form in a squarish shape instead of round.|
|You normally bake the buns in a preheated oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Since I used a glass baking pan, I preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Did you know that in baking, you need to lower the temperature by 25 Fahrenheit. if you use a glass pan or dark colour pans? Baking takes just 15 minutes.|
|Sometimes I get some buns which rises too high like horns right out from the oven.|
|I use a spatula to flatten those buns which rise up too high.|
|I let the buns cool down for about 20 minutes. I want them to cool down just enough so that the warm buns does not melt the cream cheese frosting.|
|I used Betty Crocker’s Cream Cheese frosting to frost my cinnamon buns. All you have to do is to stir the ready made frosting about 20 times to soften it before I apply them.|
|Yummy right? For some reason, cinnamon buns without cream cheese frosting does not look as inviting.|
I can make this again and again. So, if any Richmond friends want to make this, call me and we can make it together. I bet everyone in your family will like it.
No matter if you eat a little or a lot of garlic, the smell is just as strong.
~ Tibetan Proverb
Bah Kut Teh (Hokkien for “pork rib tea”) is a soup served in Malaysia and Singapore. Story has it that it originated from a town in Malaysia called Port Klang. Generally it is cooked in a clay pot with various parts of the pig, varieties of mushroom, lettuce, and dried tofu sheets or tofu puff. The soup itself is a broth which consists of several herbs and spices (including star anise, cinnamon, cloves and garlic) which have been boiled together with meat for many hours. Light and dark soy sauce are also added to the soup during cooking, with varying amounts depending on the variant.
Bah Kut Teh is commonly eaten with rice, and particularly in Malaysia, often served with strips of fried dough called Yau Char Kwai (or Youtiao in Mandarin). Dark soy sauce is used as a condiment, sometimes accompanied with chopped chilli padi, which is ultra hot that it can kill your taste buds! Tea is also usually served in the belief that it dilutes or dissolves the copious amounts of fat which are consumed in the eating of this dish.
This dish is normally served as breakfast or brunch but over time has gained acceptance as a dinner dish.
- 1 kg of pork meat
- 1 package of fried tofu puff
- 1 package of dried bean curd stick
- 8 pieces of dried shiitake mushroom
- 1 bulb of garlic
- 1 package of Bah Kut Teh seasoning mix
The ingredients above is sufficient to make 8 servings. Be warned, this is a lot of food. We normally make it once and eat them over two days. You can use chicken to substitute the pork but not beef. For this time, I use pork shoulder meat but if you prefer something leaner, you can use pork ribs instead.
- 1 pair of fried dough (you may find this in Chinese Bakery)
- Thai chilli
You know, I think this is an acquired taste. Malaysians and Singaporeans loves this dish. What do you think, honestly?
Updated 17th August 2010: This restaurant is closed according to Urbanspoon.
Giving just a crumb to the hungry is worth more than giving lunch to the satisfied.
~ Vietnamese Proverb
I missed authentic Asian food after a week in the states. While there Arkensen MSN’ed me and we agreed we should go for pho this weekend. We went to a place called Pho Saigon along the eastern end of Kingsway, you know, the section just before Kingsgate?
We have been to this place before. What we liked about this place was not so much of the pho noodles but the other Vietnamese food. It had been a while and were surprised that the place had a new coat of paint. It’s much brighter now. Apparently, the owner has changed because we could not see the normal faces and the menu does look different.
So, is it good? No, it’s nothing to shout about. The place is simply not the same anymore — nice looking place but the food is just so-so. Total damage (including tips): $24.
Life is like a box of chocolate …
~ Forest Gump
Ben bought me a box of Belgian chocolates from his trip to Atlanta — so sweet of him! I actually was looking forward to dark chocolates but this sure much better. I was surprised and needless to say, happy.
The packaging were beautiful and elegant. I guess part of the excitement of such chocolates is to carefully open the box layer by layer and reading the stuff on the box. They were so nice that I almost can’t bring myself to eat them, you know what I mean?
The box has two trays of 12 chocolates each. They were quite original in that the soft-centered chocolates were in a chocolate cup. There were altogether five different flavours.
The five flavour were from left to right, Mocha, Extra Praline, Pistachio, Caramel and White Praline.
The chocolates were very rich and creamy. Very nice. I am going to savor this — piece by piece over the next few days.
Here is something I knew or just found out about chocolates:
Chocolates are made from fermented, roasted and ground beans taken from the pod of a tropical cocoa tree native to Central America. The name chocolates originated from central Mexico and the oldest residue was found in an Mayan pot dating back 2600 years ago.
Christopher Columbus was the first person who brought cocoa beans to Europe where over time, it became a luxury item. The first solid form of chocolate was invented in Turin, Italy.
Part of the pleasure of eating chocolate is ascribed to the fact that its melting point is slightly below human body temperature; it melts in the mouth. Chocolate intake has been linked with release of serotonin in the brain, which is thought to produce feelings of pleasure.
Beautiful British Columbia
~ Number plates in BC
It was such a beautiful Saturday morning that Suanne and I drove to the Queen Elizabeth park to take pictures of the North Shore mountains. It snowed the past two days and the sun is out today. So here it is, some of the shots that we took.
Click on this panoramic shot below of the mountains to see the picture in greater detail:
Here are some of the other shots we took: