Thursday, December 21, 2006

Russian Tea Cakes

This was one of the goodies that I sent to my BBM pal at Gastronomicon
I tasted quite a few, for quality assurance reasons of course :) and I have to say that these are very good! I got the recipe from Betty Crocker . I took one of their suggestions and added some coconut to it, which I really enjoyed since I'm a coconut fan! I hope my BBM pal did too!!

Russian Tea Cakes
From Betty Crocker
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
3/4 cup finely chopped nuts
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/4 teaspoon salt
Powdered sugar for dusting

1.Heat oven to 400ºF.
2.Mix butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and the vanilla in large bowl. Stir in flour, nuts and salt until dough holds together.
3.Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
4.Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until set but not brown. Remove from cookie sheet. Cool slightly on wire rack.
5.Roll warm cookies in powdered sugar; cool on wire rack. Roll in powdered sugar again.

Here's another item that I sent to my BBM pal, which doesn't really have a recipe because well, the name, Chocolate Dipped Pretzels with Sprinkles, pretty much says it all :

Monday, November 13, 2006

Pumpkin Rolls with Cream Cheese Filling

Here's a great fall treat! I used the recipe found here only when I started making it, I realized that my pan's larger than the requested 15 by 10 inch. Mine is a 17.5 by 12 inch jelly roll sheet (where did I get such a strange sized sheet anywa?) so I took the recipe and scaled it to fit my pan. After scaling, I rounded a bit to make the measurements easier. The results are fairly good, so I guess the bigger pan size didn't affect it too much. The below are my adaptations:

Pumpkin Roll with Cream Cheese Filling:
Adapted from Allrecipes
4 eggs
1-1/3 cups sugar
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1-1/2 cups chopped walnuts
For the Filling:
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F .
2. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs on high for 5 minutes. Gradually beat in white sugar until thick and lemon-colored. Add pumpkin and lemon juice.
3. In another bowl sift flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Fold into the pumpkin mixture.
4. Line a 17.5 by 12 inch baking pan with waxed paper. Grease and flour the paper. Spread batter into pan and sprinkle with walnuts.
5. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 15 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched.
6 Immediately turn out onto a linen towel dusted with confectioners' sugar. Peel off paper and roll cake up in the towel. Cool on wire rack.

To prepare the filling:
Use mixture to beat the cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter and vanilla extract in small mixer bowl until smooth. Carefully unroll cake and remove towel. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake and reroll cake. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Caramel Apples

Caramel apples are very popular this time of the year. I bought a whole bag of apples for just $2.50, and decided to make some caramel apples with these. I made some with plain caramel but of course couldn't resis the urge to roll some in walnuts and dip some in chocolate. The recipe is from Allrecipes and is fairly simple to make. Just make sure you don't do what I did and stick your finger in the hot caramel!

Caramel Apples
adapted from Allrecipes


6 apples
6 wooden sticks (I used bamboo skewers)
1 (14 ounce) package individually wrapped caramels, unwrapped
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Insert wooden sticks into apple. Place apples on a cookie sheet covered with lightly greased wax paper.
2. Combine caramels and water in a saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring often, until caramel melts and is smooth. Dip each apple into the caramel and gently run apples around insides of saucepan to scrape off some of the caramel. Scrape excess caramel from the apple bottoms using the side of the saucepan. Place on the wax paper and place in fridge.

Roll the apples immediately in a bowl of chopped nuts after dipping in caramel, if desired.
After the caramel layer is cool, melt some chocolate chips and shortening in a bowl and drizzle over the top, or dip the caramel apple into the chocolate mixture.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

I love cookies and I love oatmeal...put them together and I'm one happy girl. Unfortunately I'm not a fan of raisins so the most common form of the oatmeal cookie, oatmeal raisin cookies, doesn't really excite me that much. Chocolate chips, on the other hand, are decadent paired with oatmeal, so here's my version of the oatmeal cookie, with chocolate chips, adapted from soft oatmeal cookies from Allrecipes

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 cups quick cooking oats
1 cup chocolate chips

1. In a bowl, cream together butter, white sugar, and brown sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon and stir into the first mixture. Mix in oats and fold in the chocolate chips. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour.

2. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and grease cookie sheets. Roll the dough into walnut sized balls, and place 2 inches apart on cookie sheets. Gently press to flatten each one

3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in preheated oven. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Pecan Bars

Wow, it's been a while since I last posted. I've been making things but didn't bother taking pictures. Anyway, the autumn weather is definately making it's appearance! When I think of autumn many food related items come to mind: pumpkin, sweet potato, squash, pomegranate, and my favorite, the nuts! Pecans were on sale over the weekend, so I bought a bag and decided to make pecan bars. The recipe is from Epicurious and involves two steps: a shortbread base, and a sticky caramel like topping.

Pecan Pie Bars
Source: Epicurious

Shortbread Base:
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Pecan filling:
8 ounces pecans (about 2 cups)
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons heavy cream

1. For the shortbread base: Preheat oven to 350°F.
Blend together all of the ingredients and use a spatula to pat mixture into a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan.. Bake shortbread in middle of oven until golden, about 20 minutes.
2. While shortbread is cooking:
Chop pecans into pieces of desired size. In a saucepan melt butter and stir in brown sugar, honey, and cream. Simmer for 1 minute and stir in pecans. Pour pecan mixture over hot shortbread and spread evenly. Bake in middle of oven until bubbling, about 20 minutes. Cool completely in pan and cut into 24 bars.

Note: I only baked the filling for 15 minutes because it was starting to bubble and I didn't want to end up with a burnt filling.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

I think this is the last recipe I'm going to try from Alice Medrich's book. I think I need to take a break from baking since I feel my arteries clogging up and my pants fitting a little too tight. I froze some of the dough for later use though!

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
Alice Medrich

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 unsweetened cocoa powder, dutch process
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
8 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulate sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of oven.
2. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and mix together. Set aside
3. Beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar with the back of the spoon or with a mixture until smooth and creamy but not fluffy. Mix in the egg and vamilla. Add the flour mixture and mix just until incorporated. Stir in the nuts and chocolate chips.
3. Scoop slightly rounded tablespoons of dough and place about 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. To bake later, form dough into an 11 by 1.75 inch log and wrap in foil. When ready, slice and place on cookie sheet. Bake 12 to 14 minutes, refrigerated dough may need an extra minute. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack immediately.

Espresso Swirl Brownies

You can probably tell I'm trying to get the best use of Alice Medrich's book before I have to return it. Here's another brownie recipe, based on the classic brownie recipe that I posted earlier.

Espresso Swirl Brownies
Alice Medrich

Ingredients for classic brownie recipe without the nuts
1 Tbsp instant coffee or espresso powder
1 Tbsp water
8 ounces softened cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg

1. Line a 9 inch square pan with foil or parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350 F and position a rack in the lower third of the oven
2. Mix the batter for the Classic Brownies. Spread all but 1/2 cup of the batter in the pan. Set aside
3. Combine the coffee powder with water. Mix cream cheese with sugar and vanilla until smooth. Stir in the egg and the coffee mixture until well blended. Spread the cream cheese mixture over the batter in the pan. Spoon dollops of reserved brownie batter on top. Draw a knife through the dollops to swirl but do not scrape the bottom of the pan.
4. Bake 25 minutes and cool on rack. Refrigerate and chill thoroughly before cutting into 16 squares.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Turtle Bars

My copy of Alice Medrich's book is about to expire, so I've been trying a much as I can from her cookbook. Here's another one, called Turtle Bars, that are very very rich, sweet, and totally satisfying for a chocolate/nut/shortbread/caramel lover like me!

Turtle Bars
Alice Medrich's Cookies and Brownies

12 Tbsp butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups pecan halves

8 Tbsp butter
3/4 packed light brown sugar, lump free
1 cup milk chocholate chips or 6 ounces milk chocolate, chopped

1. Line a 13 by 9 inch pan with foil on all 4 sides. Preheat oven to 350 F. Position a rack in the lower third of oven.
2. For crust: melt butter in a large sauepan oer medium heat. Remove from heat and add sugar, vanilla, and salt. Gently mix in the flour until just incorporated. Press the dough evenly over the bottom of the pan. Scatter the pecans over the dough
3. Bake 10 to 12 minutes until pecans are lightly toasted
4. For topping: combine the butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil oer medium heat, stirring ocasionally. Boil for 1 minuted and pour mixture over pecans on the crust. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the topping is dark and bubbling.
5. Remove pan from oven and scatter chocolate chips over it. Let sit for a few minutes to melt the chocolate before using a knife to spread the chocolates evenly over surface. Cool the bars in the pan on a rack. Cut into 24 bars when cooled.

Lemon Bars

Another great treat from Alice Medrich. Very tart yet sweet and totally addicting.

From Alice Medrich's Cookies and Brownies:

8 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
1.5 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1/2 cup strained fresh lemon juice
2 to 3 Tbsp powdered sugar for dusting

1. Line an 8-inch square pan with foil on all 4 sides. Preheat oven to 350 F. Position a rack in the lower third of oven
2. For crust: melt butter in medium saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in sugar, vanilla, and salt. Add the flour and mix just until incorporated. Press the dough evenly over the bottom of the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the crust is well browned at the edges and lightly browned in center.
3. For topping: while the crust is baking, stir together the sugar and flour in a medium bowl until wel mixed. Whisk in the eggs. Stir in the lemon zest and juice. When crust is ready, turn the oven down to 300 F and slide the rack out without removing the pan. Pour filling over hot crust.
4. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until the topping is pufed at the eges and no longer jiggles in the center when pan is tapped. Set on a rack and cool completely in pan. When cooled, lift the foil liner and transfer to cutting board and cut into 16 bars. Sieve powdered sugar oer bars just before serving.

Monday, September 25, 2006

mapo tofu

So many different versions for this spicy tofu dish made famous in Sichuan. I've tried about 5 different versions from all sorts of sources and I like the one by Fuchsia Dunlop in Land of Plenty best. I used slightly less chili bean sauce than what she suggested because I was afraid it'd be too spicy for me. It ended up being just right for my taste so maybe if I get adventurous next time I'll follow the recipe exactly. Below is her original recipe:

MaPo tofu:
From Fuchsia Dunlop's Land of Plenty

1 block bean curd (around 16 oz)
4 baby leeks or green onion
1/2 cup peanut oil
6 ounces ground beef
2.5 Tbsp chili bean paste
1 Tbsp fermented black beans
2 tsp ground Sichuanese chiles (optional)
1 cup stock
1 tsp white sugar
2 tsp light soy sauce
4 Tbsp cornstarch mixed with 6 Tbsp cold water (I use a lot less!)
1/2 tsp roasted Sichuan pepper

1. Cut the bean curd into 1 inch cubes and blanch in hot water. Slice the leeks or green onion into thin slices
2. Heat the wok, add oil, then brown the beef.
3. Turn down the heat to medium, add the chili bean paste and stir fry until fragrant. Add the black beans and chilis and stiry fry for 20-30 seconds.
4. Pour in the stock, and add the drained bean curd. Gently mix so to not break up the curd. Season with sugar, soysauce, and salt to taste. Simmer for 5 minutes until bean curd has absorbed the flavor.
5. Add the leeks or scallions and gently stir in. Add the cornstarch mixture, a little at a time, until the sauce as just thickened . You probably will not need all. Pour everything into a bowl and scatter with the ground Sichuan pepper

Friday, September 22, 2006

Alice Medrich's Classic Brownies

I so wish I could own a copy of Cookies and Brownies by Alice Medrich. For $80.00 for a 120 page book, however, coupled with my meager income as a graduate student, makes it very hard for me to shell out this much money. Instead I was lucky enough to grab a copy from the library, so for the next 3 weeks, I hope to certainly take advantage of this! Her technique of making the brownies, called the "steve's ritual" which involves baking at a high temperature for 20 minutes and then plunging it into a cold environment such as the freezer or pan filled with ice water, results in the best brownies ever! Usually I'm not overly fond of brownies because they're either too sweet, too dry, too soft and unable to hold their shape, too chewy, etc. But these were perfect by my standards! A slightly crispy and crunchy crust with the absolutely most smooth, creamy interior! I can't wait to make them again! But be warned, they are dangerously addictive and it's very easy to eat the whole pan if you're not careful!

Classic Brownies
Adapted from Alice Medrich's Cookies and Brownies

8 Tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1.25 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup walnuts or pecan pieces (optional) <--I left this out

1. Preheat oven to 400 F
2. Melt butter and chocolate. Stir in sugar, vanilla, and salt. Add the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the flour and beat with a wooden spoon until the batter is smooth and glossy, about 1 minute. Add in the nuts if using. Scrape the batter into an 8X8 metal pan that's been lined with foil.
3. Bake for 20 mminutes. Meanwhile, fill a roasting pan or large baking pan with ice ubes and water. When brownies are ready, remove pan from oven ad plunge it into the ice bath. Let sit until cool before cutting it into 16 pieces

I do not keep ice aroud so I stuck it into the freezer and it cooled in about 20 minutes. Also, I cut it into 12, not 16 pieces :)

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Chocholate Chip Cookies with a Chewy Center

Years ago I attempted to find the best chocolate chip recipe, scouring dozens of cookbook, websites, and going through numerous batches of dough hoping that I would proclaim one as "the one!"

Unfortunately I've since given up.

Not there there's not many excellent recipes out there, but because well, my idea of what makes a good chocolate chip recipe "the one" seems to change depending on my mood, the weather, who I'm eating it with, and whether I'm eating it by itself or with a cool glass of milk. Obviously the changing criteria made my quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie impossible.

Instead I have a collection of recipes that I go to, labeled under categories such as : chewy, crunchy, fat, flat, gooey, cake-like, crispy, etc. Unfortunately I can't have it all but at least I know which ones to make to satisfy whatever type of cookie perfection I'm craving that moment.

Today was a chewy chocolate chip cookie, which I got from Allrecipes, labeled under Best Big, Fat, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie I refrigerated the dough overnight and baked it the next morning, since I read from Alice Medrich's Cookies and Brownies that letting the dough sit overnight improves the flavor (can't wait to try her recipes by the way....will hopefully post soon). I've made this cookie without refrigerating them and I have to agree that there's a slightly more complex flavor and chewier texture after refrigeration. Of course, everything tastes better first thing in the morning so maybe my judgement was biased. Either way, if chewy chocolate chip cookies are what you're craving, then here you go:

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Allrecipes

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
2. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.
4. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

*note: I set the oven to 340 F just because my cookies were slightly smaller*

Saturday, September 16, 2006

My BBM Package!!!!

So I was sitting in front of my laptop working on a presentation I have to give later the week when my doorbell buzzer rang.
"I have a couple of packages for you, ma'am" says the postal guy
"A couple?" I thought? I'm only expecting 1 package from my fiance. I open the door and I see a huge box, with legs sticking out under it. See, the box was so big I couldn't even see the mail man's head!
"BBM! I said outloud!" I grabbed the stuff from the mail man and immediately grab a knife to cut open the package. Whatever in this box was certainly heavy! (Poor mail man, he had to walk up 3 flights of stairs to get to my apartment!)
Indeed, it was from Faith at from

Either I was too eager to rip open the package that my fingers were too fumbly, or Faith has a degree in wrapping up packages because it took me quite a while to get through the tape :) Ooooh, but whatever was in the box smelled soooo good! I could tell it was something slightly nutty, sweet and sugary just by the whiffs I got as I tried to tear open the box. Finally! I got it open and you can see how well faith packaged it up with care!
There were soooo many goodies in there! Here's a pic of some of the stuff she sent:

The first thing I saw (and ate!) were These monster cookies
They were sooooo good! How did she know I love the combination of oatmeal, peanut butter, and chocolates? After quickly eating 1, I grabbed another and dangled it in my mouth as I fervently opened up the rest of the goodies. I saw a wooden box with a few cans in it. Quickly, I lifted out the heavy box (my workout for the day to compensate for all the goodies I ate later!) and found homemade strawberry jam, muscadine jam (never tried that! Can't wait to put it on toast tomorrow morning!), garam masala blend, chai tea mix, garbanzo beans, and a cute little strainer! Each item had its own little ID tag with instructions too! What a great idea! I'm sure this must've taken a lot of time to do!
But that's not all....
In a separate tub, there were more homemade goodies! I opened it up and found a roll of earl grey tea cookies! I've never tried it before but they looked so pretty I had to quickly finish the dangling cookie from my mouth and try one. Trust me, they are dangerously addictive. Addictive because I did not stop at one. I won't mention how many I had b/c Faith might think I'm a pig when she reads this :) She was too sweet and also baked a coconut bread for my Fiance! Luckily I'm going to go visit him in 2 days so I'll bring the bread to him! I know he'll love it! (Good thing faith wrote, "to your fiance" on the tag or else I'd probably would have ate my way through that before I thought about sharing!"
She also made some candied pecans, following my recipe for candied walnuts! Wow! Hers were sooo good! (Yes! Of course I tried like, 4 pieces, waaayy too addicting as well!) She added some extra spices that gave it a spicyish kick to it. Very nice, I'll have to try adding some spices next time!
Just when I thought I found everything....

I haven't had baklava in the longest time but they were sooo good! Yeah, if you look at the picture you'll see the many missing pieces...that...I...ate....Faith must've known my love of nuts because she included walnuts and pistachios and many other yummy flavorings!
Thanks so much Faith!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Honey Coconut Walnut Shrimp

One of my favorites to eat at a Chinese restaurant! Okay, before I go duck for cover from all the people yelling, "that's not chinese!" I'll come out and say that I'm aware that it's probably a westernized dish, however, as long as it tastes good, looks appealing, and smells amazing, then I'm all for it! Shrimps are first lightly battered then deep fried till cripsy. Then quickly mixed with a sweet, coconut flavored sauce, accentuated with a sprinkling of glazed
. A little bit of mayo mixed with coconut milk provides a smooth yet fragrant sauce, sweetened with a dollop of honey. This is my own recipe that I've been using for a while. Feel free to add more or less flavoring to your liking

1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 Tbsp wine
1 Tbsp cornstarch

1 egg
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1 tsp salt

3 Tbsp coconut milk
3 Tbsp mayo
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2-3 Tbsp honey
handful of glazed walnuts

1. Wash and dry shrimp thoroughly. Then mix with the wine and cornstarch and leave aside while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
2. Beat the egg with the starch and salt. Add enough cold water to form a smooth but slightly thick batter. Heat enough oil for deep frying to 350 F. Using chopsticks, dip each shrimp in the batter, then fry in the hot oil for a few minutes until golden and crispy. Drain on paper towels.
3. While the shrimps are frying, mix the sauce ingredients in a saucepan. After the shrimps are all done frying, place the shrimp on a plate and pour the sauce over. Sprinkle with the walnuts.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Presto Pesto!

Growing up I never understood what all the hype was about pesto. I saw it all the time on the menus at restaurants, and saw many chefs on Food Network like Rachel Ray and Giada whizz it up in the blender, but I never thought I would like this Italian concoction. It sounds almost too simple to be good: basil, olive oil, garlic, parmesan, nuts, and a little lemon juice to keep the color a vibrant green. Where was the tomato or alfredo sauce that I was more accustomed to? Well after trying it for the first time in a pasta dish a few years ago at the Cheesecake factory, I instantly fell in love with it. Sure it left a huge puddle of greenish tinted olive oil at the bottom of the plate but it was an incredibly heavenly tasting puddle of grease, excellent for bread dipping! The above picture is my own rendition of the pesto pasta, using liguine, shrimp, cream, and of course, pesto! I didn't measure everything exactly, and I used a lot more pine nuts than what most recipes use, but I thought it suited me well since I love pine nuts. Enjoy!

Pesto sauce

3 cups basil
3/4 cup toasted pine nuts
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
3/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp lemon juice
salt to taste

Place everything except salt and olive oil in the blender. Turn the blender on and gently pour in oil until the desired thickness is reached. You may not need all the olive oil. Add salt to taste.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Chicken, chinese pancakes, and a griddle

I don't drink beer or soda, but I happened to have a can of soda that I took from a meeting with the intent on making this chicken. The orignal name for this chicken is "beer-butt chicken", which I got from allrecipes. Instead of beer, I emptied out a sprite can and filled it about halfway full with cooking wine instead. The moisture from the liquid in the can provides a source of steam to keep the inside of the chicken moist. I rubbed the outside with a mixture of salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and paprika. Then I rubbed some olive oil on the outside just before baking. I baked it for 1.5 hour at 300 F, then turned up the heat to 400 for the last 30 minutes to crisp the outside.

So how did I serve this chicken? I made some asian lotus-style pancakes, meaning that 2 pieces of dough are sandwhiched together prior to rolling, then peeled apart after cooking. This was a fairly basic recipe: using 2 cups of bread flour and slightly less than 1 cup hot water. Mix and knead well, then let it rest for 30 minutes before cutting and rolling. Fiance and I wrapped these pancakes with the chicken, cucumbers, hoisin sauce, and some fried eggs. I didn't manage to snap a shot of this assembly, but it was quite good.

After a few days, I got quite tired of eating the same wrap and was getting quite desperate to finish the chicken and pancakes. I decided to use my griddle and make a different version, with chicken, tomatoes, and cheese. Now I'm finally finished with the chicken! I still have about 3 pancakes left but I stuck that in my freezer as I'm a little tired of eating that!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Sesame balls with black sesame paste

These deep fried sesame balls are a common staple in Chinatown and in Dim Sum restaurants. Now, when made and fried correctly, they're suppose to have a crisp outer shell that protects the sweet, chewy skin. The skin encloses a pleasantly sweet suprise, usually made of red beans. I was really craving these so I set out to fry my own tonight (what better way to spend a friday night than to deep fry in your kitchen anyway!) Wanting to try out the black sesame version that TT shared in Jo's blog, I ventured out to the store to buy some black sesame seeds. Now, I had to modify TT's recipe a bit since I couldn't find the pre-ground kind, but I'm sure it should be similar tastewise. After making the dough, shaping, rolling them in white sesame seeds, and finally frying, I was a little dissapointed with the outcome. As you can see in the picture, most of the sesame seeds came off during the frying process! Also, the balls did not expand evenly even though I tried to apply pressure to all sides of the ball as it was frying. Tastewise, I thought it was alright, I mean, I achieved the marriage of crisp and chewy, however, just was not as picture perfect like those sold in restaurants. I'll keep experimenting, but if anyone has had success, please share because I definately want to try again!

Here's TT's recipe for the black sesame paste:
200 grams black sesame powder
150-200 grams sugar
150 grams water
3 tbs oil
1 tbs koh fun

1. Mix the water with the powder and let sit until it has absorbed the liquid
2. Stir fry the powder solution with sugar for 10-15 minutes. Add in the rest of the ingredients until the consistency is as thick as you want it

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Mailing Sweet Treats

I'm so excited to participate in my first Blogging By Mail, hosted by Stephanie. There were so many wonderful desserts I wanted to bake for my Blog Pal over at, however, I had to decide which one would ship well. Unfortunately this meant that I couldn't bake some of my favorites to share, such as lemon bars, pies, cheesecakes, and custards. I also didn't want to get too adventurous with my creations as I sometimes do when I get too overly ambitious, so I settled for some tried and true goodies that I hoped will ship well!

Magic Bars

I'm not even sure where I got the original recipe for these decadent cookie bars because I've been making these for ages. I think I might've gotten it from the back of a can of sweetened condensed milk at one point. Anyway, these are very simple to make and tastes really addictingly good! A generally add more than one type of nuts since I'm a huge nut fan, but the recipe is quite versatile so don't feel confined to exactly what's listed!

Magic Bars
1/2 cup butter
2 cups graham cracker, crushed
1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz)
2 cup chocolate chips
1 cup dessicated coconut
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup jam any flavor

1. Preheat oven to 350 F and place pan in oven. Melt butter in the pan, and sprinkle cracker crumbs into pan.
2. Spread on the milk, and sprinkle on the remaining ingredients except for the jam. Press lightly so ingredients adhere to the base
3. Microwave the jam until liquidified (about 45 seconds). Drizzle over the mixture
4 Bake for 30 minutes and cool completely before cutting

Marbled Brownies:

Recipe for Marbled Brownies
1 cup unsalted butter
1.75 cups sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1.25 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1. Line a 9 by 13 inch pan with foil. Preheat oven to 350 F
2. Cream butter until soft. Add sugar, eggs and vanilla. Still in flour and salt
3. Microwave the chocolate until melted.
4. Pour half of the mixture in step 2 in the pan. Mix the melted chocolate with the remaining matter and spoon over the white mixture. Use a fork to create a marbelized effect.
5. Bake for 25-30 minutes and stick in freezer immediately afterwards. Slice when cooled

Last up,
Peanut Butter Oatmeal cookie sandwhiches with Nutella Filling:

This cookie combines almost all of my food-love interest into one incredible bite: the crunchiness of the peanuts, the extra body of the oatmeal, and the sweet and creamy chocolate flavor of the nutella.

3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup oats
1/4 cup nutella
1. Cream together the butter, peanut butter, sugar and vanilla. Mix in the egg
2. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl. Add to the mixture 1 and stir in oatmeal
3. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and with slightly wet hands, roll a piece of dough into a round shape. Use the back of a fork to make a criss cross pattern. You should get around 26-32 cookies, depending on how big you want your "sandwhiches"
4. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove and cool on a cooling rack. Once cooled, spread nutella on the back of the cookies and sandwhich them together.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Char Siu Pastry

The Chinese 2 layer flaky pastry is so versatile! I use it to make the skin for egg tarts, flaky red bean filled desserts, and now, the savory meat filled char siu pastries. I used the Lee Kum Kee brand of Char Siu sauce that the local asian mart sells in a bottle and use that to marinate a slab of pork shoulder. I then bake that in a 400 degree oven until done, and heat up my broiler briefly to give it the characteristic charred (read: carcinogenic) appeal. The meat tastes great right out of the oven, and if there's any left over, dice it up into small cubes and use it as a filling for these! My recipe for the flaky skin can be found from many of my previous post. After filling them up with the filling, brush with egg glaze, sprinkle sesame seeds over it, and bake in a 400 degree oven for 25 minutes.

Filling for Char Siu Pastry
Adapted From Dim Sum, by Ellen Blonder

2 teaspoon oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
1 Tablespoon hoisin sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
4 ounces Char Siu

1. Heat a skilled and add the oil. Stir fry onion until transparent.
2. In a bowl, mix the sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, and sesame oil. Add 2 Tablespoon or so of water until mixture is even. Pour into the pan and heat for 30 seconds until bubbly.
3. Add the cornstarch mixture and cook until sauce has thickened. Add the char siu and remove from heat. Cool to room temperature before using it as a filling.

Strawberry Pie

Although strawberries are sold year around at the grocery store, they are especially sweet and juicy this time of the year. To take advantage of their ripeness, fiance and I decided to make a strawberry pie. I'm a huge pie lover in general because I love the flaky, buttery, heart attack inducing crust, but I especially love strawberry pie because the summery, fresh taste of the strawberries pairs very well and lightens up the delicate richness of the crust. In this recipe, half of the strawberries are mashed and cooked up to produce a syrup which is then poured over the remaining fresh strawberries arranged in a pre-cooked pie shell. I adapted this recipe from Allrecipes, but I substituted cornstarch for tapioca starch since cornstarch produces a cloudier syrup which leaves a pink glaze over the pie, whereas tapioca starch is clear when cooked and results in a clear, red glaze.

Adapted from Allrecipes

1 recipe for 9 inch pie shell, baked and cooled (see below for mine)
1.5 pounds of fresh strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tablespoon tapioca starch
2/3 cup water

1. Wash, hull, and dry strawberries. Separate the prettier ones from the too overripe/underripe/ugly ones, and place the prettier ones in a single layer in the pie shell, pointy side facing up.
2. In a saucepan over medium heat, mash the remaining strawberries with the sugar. Cook until bubbly and liquidy.
3. Dissolve the tapioca starch with water and gently whisk into pan.
4. Turn the heat to high, and stir a few minutes until bubbly and thickened. Remove and set aside to cool.
5. Once cooled, pour over the pie and let sit in refrigerator for a few hours until chilled.

Recipe for pie crust:
1.25 cup flour
1/2 cup shortening
2 Tablespoon butter
2-4 Tablespoon ice water

1. In a bowl, cut shortening and butter into flour mixture. Gradually add the water, a few drops at a time, until the mixture can be held together when squeezed.
2. Wrap in saran wrap and press into a flat disc. Refrigerate 20 minutes
3. Roll between 2 wax sheets until the dough is about 12 inches in diameter. Place over 9 inch pie plate. Trim the edges and pleat if desired
4. Cover with foil and weights (such as rice or dry beans). Bake in 400 F preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and weights and bake until golden brown, about 8 more minutes

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Glazed (Candied) Walnuts

I love nuts. Plain and simple. People who don't share my nut-loving craze don't understand why I top my morning oatmeal with nuts, or why I have to have extra nuts in my cookie, or why my create-my-own ice cream sundae is pretty much a scoop of ice cream swimming in (and sometimes lost) in mounds of cruchy and flavorful nuts.
If you love nuts as much as I do, then for sure you've tried candied nuts, especially during the holidays when they find their way onto an appetizer tray at many family gatherings and social parties. I've bought some at a local store a while back, and they were a huge dissapointment; overly sweet, grainy, and stale nuts that must've been sitting in that container for ages. Specialty stores sell good ones, as I've been known to go in and ask for samples, trying to look like I'm seriously going to consider spending $15.99 on a pound of their candied walnuts. Making your own is very easy and only took me 30 minutes from opening a bag of raw walnuts to cleaning up my oil pan. The only drawback is that you must wait until they cool or else you're gonna end up with a burnt tongue! When cooled (or slightly warm if you can't wait!) these walnuts have a delicately sweet outer crust, with a crunchy and toasty and well, walnutty treat inside!

8 oz walnuts
1/3 cup sugar
oil for deep frying

1. Bring a big pot of water to a boil. Drop the walnuts in there to clean them of their color and rid them of excess skin. Meanwhile, heat up a small pot of oil for deep frying
2. Once walnuts are cleaned (1 minute max should do), drain them and wash them throroughly (or else nuts will appear too dark after frying). Return to the pot and stir in the sugar until dissolved. If sugar is not quite dissolved, turn on the heat and let the nuts and sugar warm up until the sugar coats the nuts.
3. Once oil reaches 325 F, drop in a few spoonfuls at a time. The nuts should take about 2-3 minutes to cook, so adjust the temperature accordingly. It's better to start with a slightly lower temperature and crank up the heat later than it is to end up with burnt nuts :) Once they are done the sugar should form a clear shell and be a shiny brown color
4. Drain them and place on a baking sheet to cool. Repeat with remaining nuts.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Coconut Filled Animal Mooncake

Since this food blog started 2 months ago, I think about a fourth of my post have been about mooncakes! Okay, so I'll try to be a little more diverse from now on, but I just had to make another round of mooncakes! My fiance really likes coconut flavored treats, and I've been searching high and low for coconut filled mooncakes. I was inspired after browsing through Kuali, however, did not have some of their ingredients, so I experimented by substituting some of the missing elements and also changed the proportions quite a bit according to what I liked. Afterwards, it became quite a different recipe, but I think it turned out quite well! The cute animal shaped mooncakes were inspired by Yochana, who posted her beautifully decorated pigs on Jo's website! (Hers are way more pretty and elaborate than mine!) I also feel bad eating them because I got quite attached to them while making them, but better to get eaten than to get old and moldy later on! The recipe below is for the filling, which made enough for 25 mini mooncakes.

Coconut Filling
150 grams Desiccated coconut
75 grams sugar
100 mL water
100 mL coconut milk
30 grams cornstarch
2 egg yolks
3 Tablespoon butter

1. Heat water and sugar in a small pan until sugar is dissolved
2. Stir in the remaining ingredients, making sure to gently incorporate the eggs to avoid scrambling the yolks
3. Stir on medium/low heat for 15-20 minutes. Chill well before shaping into balls for mooncake filling

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

glutinous rice cupcakes with red bean paste filling

Glutinous rice is such a wonderful gift! Although it looks like regular white rice, when cooked, the kernels stick together and produces a wonderfully fragrant aroma. Glutinous rice flour is the finely ground up version of glutinous rice, which makes for wonderful desserts with a chewy, sticky, and just simply enjoyable bite. Although the word "cake" is used in this name, the result is not the fluffy, soft texture found in cakes using all purpose flour. Maybe my limited vocabulary keeps me from fully describing the unique texture and flavor of this cake. Try it for yourself and then tell me how you would describe it!
This recipe was originally used to make a rectangular pan (9 by 13 inches) of glutinous rice cake, but I got creative and baked them in muffin cups and hid a dollop of a sweet suprise inside.

2 egg
1 bag (10oz) glutinous rice flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup oil
2.5 cup milk

1. Preheat oven to 375 F
2. Mix all ingredients until smooth.
3. Pour into a 9x13inch pan
4. Bake 35 minutes

Note, for the cupcakes, fill each cup until 1/2 full. Then place a flattened piece of red bean paste and cover the top with more batter. Reduce baking time to about 20 minutes. Make sure to use a nonstick pan, or spray liberally with cooking oil or else the cupcake will get stuck when you remove them! (which is fine with me because then I take a big spoon and pry it out and eat the crispy remains which I love, but unfortunately not very presentable!)

Monday, August 21, 2006

kung pao chicken

There are so many variations of this spicy, salty, sweet yet sour dish. I've tasted about as many good versions as bad versions. According to my Wei-Chuan cookbook, Kung Pao chicken originated in the Szechwan region of China, where the use of chili peppers is apparent in many dishes. Traditionally, the main ingredients are chicken, peanuts, and chili peppers. Chicken is first cooked quickly in a fragrant oil which has been infused with aromatic ingredients such as the chili peppers, then mixed briefly with a sugary, vinegary, salty sauce. Peanuts are tossed in at the last minute before plating, and served with plenty of rice to complement the complex flavors of this dish. Modern day restaurants often throw in other ingredients such as bell peppers, carrots, mushrooms, or bamboo. Although the taste might be good, I'm still a purist when it comes to this dish, and I prefer mine without the addition of any extra vegetables (If I wanted my veggies benefits, I'd make another dish!). The worst version of Kung Pao Chicken came from this fast food Chinese restaurant that served it with peppers, baby corn, water chestnuts, canned bamboo, mushrooms, and carrots in an overly salty brown sauce with about 2 peanuts thrown in. Maybe they wanted to be cheap and stretch the cost of the peanuts? Anyway, the recipe below is from my Wei-Chuan cookbook, although I did not measure the ingredients, rather eyeballed everything, tasting my spatula and adjusting as necessary. My new bag of chili peppers were not as spicy as my old bag, so next time I'll use more of it since I like a spicier dish.

Kung Pao Chicken
Adapted from Wei-Chuan's Chinese Rice and Noodles

2/3 lb (300g) boneless chicken
2/3 Tbsp each of soy sauce and wine
1 Tbsp Cornstarch

Aromatics to infuse oil
12 pieces dried chili peppers
1 tsp grated ginger
1 Tbsp minced green onion (white sections)

2 Tbsp each of water and soy sauce
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp each of vinegar and cornstarch
1/2 tsp sesame oil

4 Tbsp roasted peanuts
1/2 cup chopped green onions (green section)

1. Cut chicken in cubes and pour in the marinade.
2. Heat wok to very hot, add 1 Tbsp or so oil to stir fry aromatics. Add chicken and stir fry until cooked. Add in the sauce until thickened. Mix in the garnish and pour on plate.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Egg Tarts

Previously I posted a recipe for citrus lime tarts, which looks similar to these egg tarts. Of course, one bite will instantly tell you the difference since the latter is a smooth, sweet filling instead of a zesty, tart filling with an edgy bite. I like them both, but when deciding which one to make to serve for the company, the egg tarts are probably a safer bet since most people are familiar with these since they are often served at dim sum and can also be found in most asian bakeries. I used pretty much the same skin as that from the citrus lime tarts, only substituting 2 Tbsp butter for the shortening in the oil dough (just because I wanted a slight buttery taste and a little color to the skin). Next time, however, I might just be lazy and do a simple pie tart skin since it takes way less time and still tastes delicious. Anyway, here's the recipe for the filling, which I initially got from Ellen Blonder in her Dim Sum book, but have changed the recipe and methods slightly for my own tastes.

Filling for Egg Tarts
enough filling for about 18-20 mini tarts

2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla

1. In a small pan over medium heat, dissolve the sugar in the milk. Remove from heat and let rest until warm
2. Beat 2 eggs with the vanilla and add to the milk solution.
3. Pass the filling through a strainer and pour into tart cups that have been lined with the skin doughs
4. Bake at 325 F for 30-35 minutes

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Detailed Recipe for Mooncakes

Although Mooncake festival isn't for a while, my first batch of mooncakes came out this week. Since my Fiance's family was preparing for a dinner party at their house, I wanted to help out by making some snacks. I really wanted to try making a few big ones using a new, bigger mould that I purchased, but I thought the small ones would be more appropriate for a dinner party since each guest could grab a few. Previously I had written a post about these Cantonese mooncakes, but I thought I'd share my two cents this time and post the recipe and steps that I used (which I got from Jo and changed it ever so slightly mainly to scale to how many pieces I wanted). This turned out to be rather tasty as well as presentable, so many thanks to Jo for her help! Word of caution, although the ingredients are very common and the dough easy to make, the most difficult part comes from wrapping the mooncakes, which unfortunately cannot be well explained in words (well, at least not by me anyway). Please practice a few times before presenting it as a gift because the first few may turn out a little distored (although equally delicious!) Another piece of wisdom, which may go against most rules in baked goods, is: do not serve until 2-3 days after making it, for it will take some time for the mooncake skin to soften and have the traditional glowing appeal. Personally, I like mine best straight out of the oven since I prefer a slight crunch to the skin (or maybe because the smell of mooncakes baking in the oven extinguishes any of my will power to wait 2-3 days to taste test one!) At any rate, these are truly worth the time and effort to make. Just don't make any plans for a few hours that day!

Mini Cantonese Style Mooncakes
Makes 50 small mooncakes

450 grams flour
15 grams cornstarch
135 grams oil
345 grams syrup (recipe follows)
1 tsp baking soda

Any type (red bean, mixed nuts, lotus paste, salty eggs, etc).

Egg glaze:
2 egg yolks, 2 tsp water, 1 Tbsp oil, mixed together


1. In a double boiler, heat together oil, syrup, and baking soda. Remove and let cool
2. Sift together flour and cornstarch. Pour in the syrup and mix the dough together. The consistency of the dough will resemble that of a firm cookie dough. Wrap with saran wrap and let rest at room temperature for 10-18 hours.
3. Take a portion of the dough and use your fingers to shape the skin into a disk. Roll a piece of the filling into a ball and gently press the filling against the skin. Try to push the skin up and around the filling, making sure to enclose the entire filling. Note, a little bit of water may be used to help spread the skin a little.
4. Flour your hands and roll the piece to smooth out the ball. Place in the mould and press firmly to ensure that the patterns will show. Bang on a counter to dislodge the mooncake.
5. Bake for 12 minutes in a 350 F degree oven. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes before applying the egg glaze. Return to oven and bake again for about 12-15 minutes.
6. Remove to baking sheet for 2-3 days before transferring to a container to be served.

Recipe for Syrup:
Golden Syrup:
600 g sugar
500 g water
lemon slices

Use high heat to dissolve sugar and water. Then add the lemon slices and boil on low heat until thick and golden. Then add 2 tbsp molasses and 1 tsp vanilla. Strain through a sieve and transfer to a container. Total time should be between 1 and 1.5 hours.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


Pizza, the default dinner of many of people. And why not? One bite of it will get you points from all sections of the food group(well, if you order the toppings wisely anyway). While ordering pizza can be really enjoyable and affordable (especially during the middle of the work week when pizza restaurants offer awesome deals), making your own pizza can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience. The crust recipe is pretty standard compared to the water/flour/yeast ratio of some my other yeast bread recipes, only with the addition of olive oil for taste. It actually took less time than I thought to make! The only difficult part was the kneading process since I didn't have access to my kitchenAid mixture, but it was a great arm workout! While the dough started to rise, I marinated and grilled some chicken, roasted some eggplants, and sauted some onions. I also chopped up some other toppings like peppers and tomatoes. About an hour later, the dough more than doubled from the original size, so my sister and I each grabbed half the dough and had a blast trying to shape it by tossing it in the air. It wasn't as hard to toss as I thought, and ours actually turned out pretty round looking! We brushed the crush with some garlic oil, spread some pizza sauce on the dough, dressed it with all the cheese and toppings, and popped it in the hot oven for about 10-13 minutes. There's definately a difference in taste between homemade and the ones from the restaurants...homemade tasted cleaner and didn't leave me with the greasy, heavy feel that I usually get after I eat pizza. One day, I might invest in a pizza stone, which will make the dough extra crispy on the bottom. For now, I'll just continue to do what I did use a piece of aluminum foil and place it directly on the rack. Good enough for now, and best part yet, there's way more than enough for lunch tomorrow!

Pizza Dough
makes two 12 inch pizza crusts
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 packet of instant yeast
1 cup warm water
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 cups flour

1. Dissolve sugar and yeast in warm water and let sit for 10 minutes, until yeast becomes foamy, indicating that it's active.
2. Mix together the salt, 1 Tbsp of olive oil, 2 and 1/2 cup of flour, and the yeast mixture in a large bowl.
3. Turn onto a slightly floured board and start kneading, incorporating the extra 1/2 of flour as needed. More or less flour may be needed to get the correct consistency. Knead for about 10 minutes. The dough should be soft but not sticky.
4. Rub the other 1 Tbsp of olive oil over the dough, transfer to a bowl and let rest in a warm environment until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
5. Divide the dough in half and knead each briefly. Shape into a round disc about 12 inches in diameter.
6. Preheat oven to 500 F. After topping the pizza with desired toppings, bake for 10-13 minutes.

Sunday, August 06, 2006


Ever since I can remember eating (which is pretty much ever since I started remember anything), I've remembered eating dumplings. My parents, from the Northern part of China where the use of flour is abundant compared to other parts of China, love making dumplings the traditional way. This includes mixing your own dough, rolling out each dough into a thin, circular shape, and wrapping the dough around perfectly seasoned mixture of ground pork, nappa cabbage, and herbs and spices. Even with the modern conveniences of the store bought wrappers and frozen dumplings, my family still prefer the taste and the family bonding experience that comes from the process of making and wrapping the dumplings. Even though I now live on my own, I still find the time to make my own dumplings. There's just something theraputic and comforting about kneading, rolling, and wrapping them. I can almost imagine my family being together and laughing and talking with me as I stand in my own kitchen and prepare this. Maybe this sweet nostalgia which makes it more memorable also makes them dumplings taste better? In any case, although the process takes awhile, it's definately worth it because to me, this is the ultimate comfort, not only because it tastes good but also because of the happiness it brings when I make it.

Dumplings are one of the dishes that I don't have a written recipe for since I learned it from my parents who use a pinch of this, a splash of that, and adjust everything by tasting as they go. For the dough, I've had to experiment until I came up with the right balance of water to flour. The ratio of flour to water is roughly 3 cups flour to 1 cup water, of course each time may be slightly different due to the humidity of the air, type of flour used, how moist your hands are, etc. For boiled dumplings, use cold water, and for panfried dumplings (or Guo Tie), hot water is used to first partially cook the dough, resulting in a more chewy texture. After giving the dough a rest for about 30 minutes, it is ready for rolling, shaping, folding, cooking, and finally, eating!!