Sunday, March 20, 2011

Carrot Raisin Muffins

The weather had been so bad in San Francisco lately and the forecast called for another wet and stormy night on Friday. Since I didn't want to go out in the rain by myself while Porgy did some work, I went to the Whole Foods during a rain break and got the ingredients to make Carrot Raisin Muffins. I had a similar muffin from the Golden West earlier in the week and totally loving it. I used the recipe from Craft: (check out their site for step-by-step directions and pictures) and added some extra raisins and almonds to add some sweetness and crunchiness to the muffins.

1 1/2 cups white flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 cups grated carrot
1 cup raisins, soaked in rum for 5 minutes and drained
1/2 cup sliced almonds
8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) butter, melted
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Zest of 1 orange
Juice of 1 orange
2/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon fresh ginger
powdered sugar (optional)

  • Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  • Peel and grate about 4-5 carrots, using the regular-sized hole on a box-type cheese grater. Set aside.
  • Grate the ginger with a microplane grater until you have a fine pulp. Set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, mix together the sugars, eggs, vanilla, orange zest and juice, milk, and ginger until well combined. Stir in the melted butter.
  • In a large bowl, stir together the white and wheat flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Mix to combine well.
  • Add the grated carrot to the flour mixture and stir to coat and evenly distribute. Make a well in the center of the flour and carrot mixture.
  • Add in the raisins in the liquid mixture and pour everything into the flour mixture. Add ub the sliced almonds and, using a wooden spoon, stir until combined and moistened. Do not over mix.
  • Line muffin cups with paper liners and pour 1/4 cup batter per muffin cup. Bake on the middle rack for ~25 minutes until the muffins are golden brown or until a toothpick inserted into the muffins comes out clean.
  • Set on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes, remove the muffins from the tin and let them cool another 10 minutes.
  • Sprinkle powdered sugar and some more sliced almonds on top.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Roast Pork Hash

After eating the Roast Pork Shoulder for several days in a row for lunch and dinner, both Porgy and I were getting bored with it so I had to figure out what to do with the 2-lb meat leftover. I remembered reading a NYTimes article on hash and, interestingly enough, one of the recipes was called Country Pork and Apple Hash which uses Pernil-style Roast Pork. Unfortunately, since I do not have any cast-iron pan, I had to use my non-stick pan to cook the hash so it was hard to get the meat and potatoes crisped. All in all, it was a delicious dish and it was specially satisfying to be able to eat it with a sunny side-up egg on top for a Sunday brunch.


4 large russet potatoes, peeled and diced
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 onions, minced
2 pounds roast pork, leftover or pernil from Latin American restaurant
1/2 cup chicken broth
4 sprigs thyme, leaves only
Poached or sunny-side-up eggs, for serving

  • In a large pot, cover potatoes with cold salted water, bring to a simmer and cook until barely tender (do not overcook, or boil rapidly). Drain.
  • Melt butter in a very wide skillet. Add onions and cook, stirring, until softened and golden around edges, about 10 minutes. Add pork and broth; cook over medium-high heat for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add potatoes and thyme leaves and cook, stirring occasionally and pressing mixture in pan until hot and edges are crisped. Serve topped with eggs, if desired.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sausage Buns

At least once or twice a week, I would stop by at a Chinese bakery in Chinatown on the way to work to get a Sausage Bun. I thought that it would be interesting to try making it this weekend so I don't have to do a pit stop on the way to work and save some money. After searching for the recipe online, I finally settled on this one on Toxo Bread because there's a detailed step-by-step instruction.

From this experience, I am convinced that baking bread is NOT my forte because it's just too complicated for me and I only had 1 bun came out looking decent and the other 7 were an embarrassment. Although they tasted good, I'd rather spent $0.95 to get one in Chinatown instead.


300 grams (2 cups) all-purpose flour
5 grams (1 teaspoon) instant dried yeast

10 grams (2 teaspoons) white granulated sugar

6 grams (1 teaspoon) salt

1 egg, lightly beaten
220-230 grams (1 cup) lukewarm milk

2.5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
8 pieces of hot dog sausages

egg wash: 1 egg, lightly beaten

sesame seeds, for topping

Follow the step-by-step direction at Toxo Bread.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Dippy Eggs and Soldiers

Some of my most cherished moments with my 8 month old son happen on weekend mornings. Right after I get ready and my husband takes his turn to shower, I announce to my son "foodie time!" and I start to get my breakfast ready while letting him crawl around me in the kitchen.

The bread has been made the night before. I boil the eggs, toast the bread, put on butter, brew a cup of English Breakfast tea, and set a relatively elegant and complicated breakfast onto our dining table. Then I put my son in his high chair and hand him his banana. And we both just dig into our food, like two ferocious animals who haven't eaten in days. At the end of the feast, we look at each other, and laugh uncontrollably for no apparent reason. Him from his sugar high, and me from my egg/butter/bread/caffeine/sugar fix.

This egg/butter/bread/caffeine/sugar is possibly my favorite food combo. Or, we can call it by its fancier name: dippy eggs and soldiers. It's really just soft boiled eggs where you dip your sliced toast in them to scoop out the runny yolk. Simple yet decadent.

To make the homemade buttermilk soldiers:

I have tried many buttermilk bread recipes, and after numerous tweaks here and there, this is my favorite recipe which I have memorized. The key ingredients are wheat gluten and dry milk powder.

Ingredients (yields a small 1lb loaf):
2 and 1/4 cups of King Arthur bread flour
1 egg
1/2 cup of buttermilk
2 and 1/3 tablespoons of butter
1/4 cup of water
1 tablespoon of wheat gluten
1 tablespoon of all purpose flour
1 tablespoon of dry milk powder
1 and 1/2 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of yeast

  • Follow directions from you bread machine
  • Or follow directions from this recipe

To make dippy eggs:

farm fresh eggs (or whatever good quality eggs you can find)

  • Boil a small pot of water.
  • After water boils, lower carefully the eggs in water along with an egg timer.
  • Turn down the heat so the water is simmering.
  • While waiting for eggs to cook, slice your bread, butter them, and brew your tea.
  • Depending on how hard you want your eggs, it will take between 3 to 5 minutes to cook an egg with fairly runny yolk.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sake Ochazuke (porridge with broiled salmon)

At a glance, a bowl of porridge with a piece of no-dressing, no-marinade salmon sounds almost sad. As in, it's-Saturday-night-I-am-home-alone-slurping-instant-ramen sad. But in fact, this dish is full of rich and nice flavors and has quickly become a staple at my house.

The key is to get the right ingredients and not under- or over-cook the salmon. Once you assemble the porridge with a hint of green tea and that dashi stock umami with the fatty crispy salmon skin and slightly salty salmon flakes, the flavor combination just doesn't get better than that. Oh wait, it does, put some roasted seaweed on top. Now you've got the texture, the taste, and the warmth all from a single bowl of pure goodness.

4oz Salted Salmon Belly
1/2 sheet Roasted Seaweed ( like Yamamoto nori)
2 cups Cooked Rice (use Nishiki brand rice)
1 cup Green Tea (use Japanese green tea such as genmaicha for its nuttiness)
1 cup Dashi Stock
Canola Oil


  • Rub the salmon with a generous amount of salt
  • Cover and let it refrigerate overnight
  • Remove the salmon and rinse under cold water to remove the salt
  • Dry the salmon with paper towels or a kitchen towel
  • Drizzle oil over salmon and place under a broiler in low setting
  • Broil for 15 minutes until a nice crust has formed; if the skin is still not brown enough, you can turn the broiler to "high" for a couple of minutes and monitor closely to make sure the salmon doesn't burn
  • Break apart the salmon into flakes and set aside
  • Add rice to a bowl with salmon flakes and seaweed on top
  • When you are ready to serve, mix the hot green tea with the stock. You can add as much liquid as you would like, as long as you remember to use it in the ratio of one part tea one part dashi stock.

The Ultimate Bread Pudding

I am not an advanced chef or baker, but I am quite proud of my bread pudding. I have actually converted a non-bread-pudding-believer once. Bread pudding is just such a great dessert. It's so easy, can be made ahead of time, and you can save it in the fridge and have dessert every night for the rest of the week (depends on how fast you eat it).

I started with this recipe and modified it over the year(s). Here is my version. You can use any fruit toppings really. I have tried quite a few and everything is delicious, except bananas. Do not use bananas ever. They create this inexplicable weird rancid taste.

Do use challah bread! I have tried all kinds of bread (French, sourdough, country-style, brioche). Basically anytime I have stale bread I think, hmm, I don't want them to go to waste so I will make a bread pudding out of them. Nothing tops challah bread.

1 lb of Challah bread (or a little less depending on if you want your bread pudding to be more bread-y or more custard-y)
1 cup of berries (blueberries and blackberries are excellent; you can even mix a variety of berries)
2 cups of milk
1 cup of heavy cream
3 eggs
1/2 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of bourbon (optional)
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of salt
butter (for pan)


  • Use day-old Challah bread and tear it into 1" pieces and set them aside in a large bowl.
  • Whisk eggs, sugar and salt together.
  • Add the milk a little at a time and whisk to combine.
  • Gently stir in cream, vanilla, and bourbon.
  • Pour the milk mixture over the bread cubes and berries and stir to combine, pressing bread down to get the floaters if neccessary; make sure bread cubes are all covered.
  • Cover and refrigerate over night.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9"x9" casserole pan.
  • Bake for an hour and let it cool slightly before you serve.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Date Night at Chotto

Today was one of those days that we both were very blah at the end of the day and we felt that we needed something to cheer us up. We were supposed to go to Tsunami swimming practice tonight but we just did not have it in us to do it and we decided that, instead of going there and do a bad swim session, we would do an impromptu date night at Chotto - a new Japanese Izakaya restaurant in the Marina district.

We started our dinner with a carafe of hot Hakutsuru sake, Imo Age (garlic french fries with spicy miso aioli) and Tori Age (crispy chicken wings, shichimi buffalo sauce).

Bacon Mochi (applewood smoked bacon, mochi, nori) - Very interesting combination, I kind of liked it.

Tsukune (chicken meatball, eggyolk, homemade teriyaki) - I can eat multiple orders of this. Delicious!!!

Tontoro (pork cheek, sea salt, shichimi chili) - Yum yum...

Miso Tonkotsu (pork & chicken broth, miso, chashu) - I think they gave us the Karamiso Tonkotsu (the spicy miso ramen) since it had a nice spiciness to it.

After dinner, we decided to stop by at the La Folie Lounge for some night caps on the way home. Porgy got Dark and Stormy (Goslings dark rum, ginger beer, lime, canton ginger cognac) and I Rye Manhattan (Rittenhouse rye, carpano antica sweet vermouth, bitters).

So did I feel guilty for skipping swimming practice? Eh... kind of but not really. I think it's nice to be able to do this impromptu date nights to keep ourselves sane. We promised ourselves we would go to the practice on Wednesday and Thursday but we'll see how that goes.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Roast Pork Shoulder

I was so confused on what to make for this week’s lunch. I knew I wanted to cook the Minestrone soup for dinner because of the cold weather but bringing the soup to the office is somewhat out of the question because of potential spillage issue. After browsing online, I decided to make Roast Pork Shoulder – which can be used for lunch with some kind of side vegetables and carbs or for the toppings on our dinner salad – using a recipe from this blog My husband cooks.

It seems that the trick of making a good roast of a big piece of meat are 1) marinate at least overnight and 2) cook it slow and steady in a low oven temperature. I knew about the importance of marinating but stupid me I didn’t read the whole cooking instructions on the site until Sunday afternoon when I found out that it needed to be cooked for 9-10 hours at 250F. After scrambling around to do some more online research while preheating the oven, I found out from Simply Recipes that I can cook it in a much shorter time and still get the caramelization that I want by first cook it uncovered in a 450F oven for 30 minutes and then cook it covered in a 325F oven for 3 hours. Phew! The roast pork shoulder turned out to be super tasty and moist – thanks to all those pork fat!

4 lbs pork shoulder (boneless)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup salt
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons cumin
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 cup of dry white wine

  • In a small bowl mix together the brown sugar, salt, paprika, cumin, red pepper flakes, cayenne, and turmeric.
  • Pat dry the pork shoulder with paper towels and rub the seasoning mixture evenly over the pork shoulder inside and out.
  • Wrap the pork shoulder tightly in plastic wrap to hold the marinade against the skin, put it in a large bowl and marinate overnight. It will give up a cup or more of liquid so make sure your container is big enough to prevent spillage.
  • 1 hour before cooking, take out the pork shoulder from the refrigerator.
  • Preheat the oven to 450°.
  • Place the pork shoulder on aluminum foil wrapper roasting pan (so it’s easier to clean) and roast uncovered for 30 minutes.
  • Turn the oven heat down to 325° and add the wine and cover the roasting pan with another sheet of aluminum foil and slow roast for 3 hours until the pork shoulder is very tender and pulls apart easily when probed with a fork. If you want, you can add some more white water every hour or so to baste the pork shoulder.
  • Transfer the pork shoulder to a serving plate and drizzle the pan juice over the meat.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Meyer Lemon and Blood Orange Marmalade

Since the Alameda antique fair was canceled because of the rain, I found myself with plenty of time to kill today. We went to grab coffee at Contraband, had brunch at a mom-and-pop diner nearby, cleaned up the aquarium and the house, finished off tax documents, cooked Roast Pork Shoulder (which is still cooking in the oven as I'm blogging) and it's not even dinner time yet. So I decided to catch up with my blog and post this Meyer Lemon and Blood Orange Marmalade that I made about a month ago.

I have never made jams or marmalade before but after having my neighbor's tasty apricot jam, I was compelled to try making it and found that this NYTimes marmalade recipe is easy enough for me to follow. It turned out pretty good although next time I would not use the white part of the orange as it makes the marmalade a bit bitter.

3 medium Meyer lemons, ends trimmed
1 medium blood orange, ends trimmed
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups Demerara (raw) sugar

  • Place several small plates or saucers in the freezer.
  • Wash the citrus well under warm running water. Cut the lemons and orange in half lengthwise. Cut each half into 1/8-inch segments, lengthwise. Pluck out any exposed membrane and remove the seeds.
  • Measure the cut citrus. You should have 2 1/2 cups, but if you have less, use the same volume of water and sugar as you have citrus. (If there are only 2 cups, for example, use 2 cups water and 2 cups sugar.) Place the citrus and the same volume of water into a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until the peels are very soft and fully cooked, about 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Add the sugar to the pot, stir to combine. Turn the heat up to high and bring back to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and let the marmalade simmer until set. It should take about 20 to 30 minutes, but start checking after 15 minutes to see if it is set by spooning a little onto a chilled plate from the freezer. If it looks like jam and not runny syrup, it’s ready. (If you want to use a candy thermometer, you are looking for 222 degrees.)
  • Allow marmalade to cool to room temperature before serving. Store leftovers in the refrigerator and use within a month.

Minestrone (kind of) Soup

Today I made this soup based on a simplified Minestrone recipe on NYTimes in preparation for the cold and wet weather coming to San Francisco. To make it even healthier and substantial, I added some sliced sausages and a can of white kidney (cannellini) bean. I am not really sure if I can still call it Minestrone soup or not but I know that now I am ready to take on the rain!

4 Italian sausages, sliced
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
4 garlic, finely chopped
2 potatoes, cut to 1-inch sections
1 can diced tomatoes, drained & rinsed
1 can white kidney (cannellini) beans, drained & rinsed
1 cup of dry white wine
2 cup of vegetable (or chicken) broth
2 cup of water
1/2 cup of chopped parsley
1 cup of frozen peas
salt & pepper

  • Heat up 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a Dutch oven over a medium heat for a couple of minutes and saute the sliced sausages for a few minutes until totally cooked and set aside.
  • Add a couple more tablespoons of olive oil into the pan and saute the chopped onion, carrot, celery rib and minced garlic for 5 minutes.
  • Add the cubes potatoes and cooked for 2 minutes.
  • Add the drained tomatoes, white wine, broth, and water.
  • Cook until boil and lower the heat to a simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Add the drained beans and simmer for another 15 minutes.
  • Add in the chopped parsley and frozen peas.