here and there

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Chinese Steamed Buns , Steamed Bao

My grandchildren love Dim Sum and I have been finding recipes for them to try which has sent me researching how to do this. I must add that although I don't like Dim Sum, I love the social aspect of it and especially the carts that go table to table for patrons to select items which is always intriguing! 

The first step was to cut out pieces of parchment for steaming the buns on in the Bamboo Steamer.  This was a challenge for a six year old with regular scissors.

After studying the recipes for steamed buns, I realized it was just a regular bread dough recipe, although some used Baking powder other used both yeast and baking powder.  Once again my Refrigerator Bread Dough came very handy.  Especially when you unexpectedly have to babysit!  

On a counter, you see the container that was used to pack store bought BBQ chicken. This container is the best to store fresh dough in the refrigerator as the dough's gases do not blow of the lid and the container is also vented. 

I had enough dough left to make 6 buns.  The dough was rolled into a log, 6 pieces were cut off.

Each dough piece was rolled into a long strip, which were brushed with oil, then folded over and allowed to rise. 



Strips of pork cut from a pork loin roast where marinade in a lemongrass marinade. 

The marinade pork was baked in a hot cast iron skillet at 450 degrees for about 10 minutes, then grilled for 3 minutes under the broil.

I added the buns to the steamer when the water was boiling.  I read today in order to have soft buns, you place them in the steamer and let them sit for 10 minutes before turning on the heat, then bring the water to boil, steam the buns for 5 minutes, turn off the heat and let the buns sit for a few minutes before removing them from the steamer. This apparently makes very soft white buns which do not collapse. I did not know how long to steam and I did steam them for 10 to 15 minutes.   

 The steamed Bao were filled with slice cucumber, Asian flavour Coleslaw and Marinaded Pork Strips.  Hoisin sauce or hot sauce was added 

My grandchild was so impressed that she wondered if she could do this for her birthday party in Sept. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Beet Rolls, Taste of Summer!

Making this recipe always makes me think of life on the farm and the huge garden Mom used to put in yearly.  I had posted a picture of my Mom's huge garden on Instagram and how everything was canned before she had a freezer.  
She froze bags of peas, beans and corn, but still liked to can whole tomatoes and chili sauce which would be very similar to today's Salsa.  The variety of pickles done was amazing from dill pickles, different relishes, bread and butter pickle, mustard beans and ice pickles.  It seems unbelievable that all this was done in a very short time for the winter months.  The remarks were interesting as many wondered why such a big garden.  The harvest from this garden was used all winter.  There was no superstore in those days!

We are now so depended on stores to supply our food source, that my grandchildren as many others are not familiar with the taste of fresh vegetable from a garden.   How many of us have just gone into a garden and eaten pea from the vine, carrots that are wiped on our pants than eaten!  Planting a garden and preserving, canning, pickling the vegetables is a dying art. 

Picking Raspberries in Grandmother's Garden

I always thought this simple recipe was something my mom invented because of abundance of beet leaves and cream from her milking cows.  This recipe seems to be most popular in the prairies. The leaves are also used to make a cabbage roll type holopchi  which certainly would take less time preparing the leaves than preparing cabbage leaves. 

Check out the row of corn, Not sure what the next two rows are, then onion, beets, cucumbers, somewhere would be peas, beans, potatoes, carrots.   

I have blogged on Beet Rolls before.  In this recipe, I am trying to have a complete casserole done in one step, rather than in two steps! 

The dough I used for the beet rolls was my Refrigerator Bread dough which is always so handy to have on hand. 

The leaves had been washed and dried in a lettuce spinner and kept fresh with the stems in water.

A small piece of dough is rolled in the beet leave and placed into a greased baking dish.

Usually I baked the beet rolls until the dough is baked and then make a cream sauce using chopped onions and fresh dill, adding the cooked beet rolls to the sauce and heat until the buns have absorbed the sauce.. In fact the three trays pictured above have been frozen for later use. The only problem is that I don't regular buy heavy cream. 

This was a trail run to see it adding the cream sauce to the rolls and baking the bun longer would have the same result.

The Beet Rolls were baked for 20 minutes at 350 degrees, then chopped shallots and fresh garden dill was added to the buns,   

One cup of heavy cream was also added to the buns

The buns were baked for 10 minutes longer but since the top of the buns had not absorbed the cream, I pressed down the buns with a spatula so that they would also absorb the cream.  The buns were further baked 10 to 15 minutes.

The buns did take longer to cook but did look like buns that had been simmer in cream on the stove top. 

Having had more beet leaves, I did two casseroles that I froze as a complete dish for Thanksgiving!

Certainly the presentation in casserole dish is much more visual and appealing than in a serving bowl! 

These two casseroles were cooled and frozen

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Tomato Cheese Cake

Large pieces perfect for Brunch

This recipe is great for brunches, lunches or as an appetizer! Lovely for brunch as the slices were cut to include the whole tomatoes.  As an appetizer, using sun dried tomatoes would allow you to cut the slices thinner.  This recipe made me think of the birthday party in Paris for my brother in law, where the dishes brought by others for the party were all bought, with Quiche being the main dish. This dish would have made the cut! 

Garden Fresh Tomatoes with fresh Basil

I love the Facebook food videos that are posted, but you need to write them down or save them as you'll never find them again. 

A couple of weeks ago a neat idea was posted that used fresh mozzarella balls and fresh Cocktail Tomatoes.  Cocktail Tomatoes are about the size of ping pong balls and can be sold on a stem.  This dish looked very pretty and since I had these two ingredients from our Italian Store, I decided to make this. The recipe is a basically a quiche recipe that is baked in a loaf pan.

Fresh Bocconcini were added to the bottom

I did make a pastry shell for the loaf pan but you can skip this step as Quiche does not need a shell. 

I added the fresh Mozzarella balls to the shell before pouring in the Quiche mixture. 

I used 4 eggs, but could have used 2 more as although these eggs are labelled large they really are medium size.  The whole carton of half and half milk about 1 cup was used as I hate having left over cream.  I also grated some okra cheese into the mixture and added grated pepper and fresh grated nutmeg. 

A string of cocktail tomatoes were added before baking. 

From my herb garden, I added basil leaves to the top before baking. 

The loaf did take over 60 minutes to cook at a 350 degree oven.  The house smelled divine with the fresh nutmeg baking in the cheese. 

Summer Brunch Eats 

 I think the quiche was even tastier the next day, heated for Sunday Brunch

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Chinese Green Pancakes

Yesterday, I decided to do Chinese Pancakes with my Granddaughter as she had loved the purchased ones her mom had bought for an Appetizer on Father's Day.  I cringed at the calorie count for these babies.

Perhaps there was a healthier version, but after looking  at the different videos and recipes, I don't think so!

The dough for these pancakes is basically flour, salt and water.  The dough is like pyrohy dough or flatbread.  The process of layering fat is very much like making Croissants or Salenjaci which I have blogged about. 

This layered flatbread is called "Bing" in Chinese and comes from Northern China.  Check out this video of the pancakes made at a street vendor.  Chinese Green Onion Pancakes China Shanghai.

Using the flowing recipe

2 c flour
1c hot water*
Mix together, then knead, let rest for 30 minutes
*boiling water is used in most of the recipes, But I do think this recipe needed more water. I would use 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups so the dough is stickier/

Divide the dough into 4 portions
Roll the dough as thin as possible, then oil the dough

Fold a third over, then the other side, roll again to make a very thin sheet

Add oil to the dough. I used Olive oil but lard or chicken fat is said to be better.. Now where would I find Chicken fat?

One of the sites, sprinkled flour and coarse salt over the oil.  This site added the following as did the street vendor in the video above.

Paste and seasonings
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • (Optional) 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground toasted Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup Chicken Fat or melted lard    

This site also added sunshine egg to the top of the pancake as a garnish 

Add the chopped green onion, but certainly I should have added more as in the above video on the street vendor that makes this pancakes. Since I had scapes from my garlic, I added these.  My granddaughter also thought grated carrots would be great!

Roll up the dough as a pinwheel and flat the roll to release air, oil the strip and roll up to form a small disc.

Roll out the disc to form a flat pancake

Fry in a hot Cast Iron pan

Dipping sauce;

Egual portions of soya sauce, rice vinegar, water
Add mince garlic, chopped green onions, pepper flakes and minced fresh ginger

This video is too cute to not include... Enjoy!

video video

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Bun Rieu, Vietnamese Pork and Shrimp Soup

I love using Instagram as I gleam many ideas from the postings.  Recently a posting of Bon Rieu sent me on a search of this recipe and what makes this soup authentic.   The addition of mixed seafood, ground pork and egg to a hot broth made me wonder if this was done as one tired of making wonton dumplings and wanted to use up the mixture quickly! 

I first saw the soup picture below on Instagram posted by the Little Vietnamese Kitchen, and wasn't quite sure what it was.  Thuy Pham Kelly runs her own restaurant in London and a place I would love to visit.

Here is a video of her making chicken soup

Before my nursing reunion in Winnipeg, I was having my nails done and was given the soup recipe by the two young women that were doing my nails.  They became excited to know that I wanted to make this recipe.  The translation of this recipe by these Vietnamese speaking women was lost on me, until the owner's young niece came to our aid.  She did forward me a recipe and I did research many sites.  Some recipes used so many purchased items for this soup that lead me to look for a soup that used fresh items only. 

This is an incredible picture that was posted on Instagram by Thuy Pham Kelly. Where would you begin?

Bun Rieu, Vietnamese Pork and Shrimp Soup


Pork Broth
  • 1 bunch scallions
  • 3 -4 cloves garlic
  • 6 medium tomatoes, quartered, seeds removed
  • 10 cups water
  • Pork ribs
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce or salt
  • 1- 1 1/2  Tamarind soup mix or vinegar
Rieu (crab mixture)
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 5.6 ounce cans “minced crab in spices (gia vi nau bun rieu)
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped 
  • 3.5 ounces dried shrimp
  • 1 -2 eggs, beaten

A lot of the products for this soup are listed in blogs can only be found in Asian stores.   I am not quite sure what the authentic taste of this soup is.  This recipe was said to have been developed by those not in Vietnam and not having readily available fresh Crab or Tamarind.   Dried shrimp was also used in making the Rieu.  

I find that Pork Rib bones are harder and harder to buy in the local supermarket, but plentiful  at the Asian Market.

Making the Stock

Fill a large pot with water, add salt, then the washed rib bones, bring to boil and parboil the ribs until semi cooked.
The Vietnamese add a very interesting step in making their broths. 
They throw out the water and wash the meat again

Starting fresh, fill the pot up with fresh water, add salt, an onion and some bay leaves.
Bring to boil, skim the top if necessary, then reduce to simmer for 2 to 3 hours.

One of the things my Mom always did for a clear broth was to pour the hot broth through muslin cloth which I did. 

I was able to find this Tamarind soup base in the Asian market with some help.  According to The Spruce
Tamarind is a sour, dark fruit that grows in a pod. While some cuisines use tamarind to make desserts and even candy, in Thai cooking it is used mostly in savory dishes.  When combined with sugar, tamarind gives dishes a beautiful sweet-sour flavor.  

A tablespoon of Tamarind Soup base was added to the soup. 

I did see some recipes where vinegar were added and I would think that vinegar would work as well if you can not find this soup base. 

I also must add that after making such a clear broth, the soup mix muddied the broth, which vinegar would not!  Some recipes for this soup calls for Fish sauce. 

Preparing the tomatoes

quarter the tomatoes
1-2 chopped shallots
3-4 garlic cloves
1 tsp sugar
Saute in oil, until tomatoes soft
gently stir to not break up the tomatoes
Some of the recipes used only minced garlic, others only used minced garlic
I used both.
Some of recipes just added  the tomatoes uncooked to the broth and then added the sugar into the broth

Making the Rieu

The dried shrimp were also found in the refrigeration area of the Asian market. The shrimp needs to be washed a couple of times and then soaked in hot water for 1 -2 hours to make it easier to chop. This liquid that the dried shrimp soaked in can be added to the broth.

You could also pulse the dried shrimp in your food processor.  Personally if you can't find them, I would not worry about it.  I would just add more fresh shrimp or crab, not to mention the cost was five dollars a bag.  

The one item that I do believe was amazing tasting was the canned Minced Shrimp in spices.  The label read "gia vi nau bun rieu" and added a great flavor! Some blogger said this made the soup.  However, this can also be omitted as does have a lot of additives and oil.  Check out this recipe by Run Away Rice.  as she suggests to just add more seafood.  

Mix the ground pork, canned minced shrimp, dried shrimp,garlic, green onion, fresh shrimp.  I like the look of a coarse mixture and also like to see what I'm eating, so I mixed this by hand.  But you could also pulse this in a Food Processor.  Some of the recipes also did not use ground pork only the seafood to make the rieu. 

Add the tomatoes to the soup, bring to boil. If Tomatoes are uncooked, cook them until soft.
Add the Rieu or meat and shrimp mixture to the boiling broth.   Some of the recipes suggest adding the mixture in small spoonful so that you have small meat patties.  My recipe suggested dumping everything in at the same time. I would add it in spoonfuls the next time for smaller patties.
Reduce heat to simmer 
The soup is ready when the rieu flows to the surface.

As with the picture above from the Little Vietnamese Kitchen, garnish is most important. 

Slices of Lime, Bean sprouts, hot sauce and herbs like basil, cilantro, perilla leaves and water spinach are set out for garnish.  The water spinach uses a special tool to cut the stems.  Cabbage or celery can be be also used

I will be making the soup again, but relying more on fresh products and added more tomatoes to the soup.