Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Daring Bakers! - Cha Siu Bao

Gah, why do I suck so much? This post is days late, and I apologize profusely. I haven't been devoting as much time to recreational cooking and baking lately, because A. I unfortunately have less free time and B. That free time has largely been spent prepping and planning for the upcoming weddings for which I am catering. One of those weddings is this weekend, so I will be sure to post some pictures of my creations. 

Maltose is a very sticky, very sweet sugar similar to honey. It's found in most Asian grocery stores.
Daring Bakers this month was a kind of choose your own adventure, allowing us to sift through all past challenges from both Daring Bakers and Daring Cooks. Ooh. So many possibilities! Eventually I settled on Cha Siu Bao simply because I love them...and I've been looking for an excuse to make them for a while.

 The first time I had Cha Siu Bao was at the Hang-Ah Tea Room, a hole in a wall in San Francisco's Chinatown. I smile at the memory of those snow white, fist sized buns, soft and pillowy in my mouth, giving way to a surprisingly red filling of sweet and tender barbecued pork. Sigh. My cha siu bao, unfortunately, did not live up to that memory. They were good, don't get me wrong, but my sauce was just not right compared to my San Francisco experience. I'll just have to keep on practicing. I don't mind eating a few more cha siu bao, all in the name of research, of course. 


Cha Siu Bao 

In a "celebration" of past Daring Baker and Daring Cook challenges, Lisa challenged all of us to search through the Daring Kitchen archives and pick any one we'd like! The REAL challenge was picking which delicious recipe(s) to try!

Cha Siu (BBQ Pork)

1 pork fillet/tenderloin (roughly 1-1.5 pounds)
4 large cloves of garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon (3 gm) ginger, grated
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 ½ tablespoons maltose (you can substitute honey)
1 ½ tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon shaoxing cooking wine
½ teaspoon (2 gm) ground white pepper
pinch of salt
½ teaspoon (2 gm) five spice powder
½ teaspoon sesame oil

Trim the pork loin to remove fat and tendon and slice lengthways so you have two long pieces, then cut in half. By cutting the pork in to smaller pieces to marinate you will end up with more flavorsome cha sui. If you want to leave the pork in one piece you can do this as well. Place in container that you will be marinating them in.
Combine all the other ingredients in a bowl and mix well to combine. 
Cover pork well with ⅔ of the marinade mixture. Marinate for a minimum of 4 hours, I find it is best left to marinate overnight. Place the reserved ⅓ portion of the marinade covered in the fridge. You will use this as a baste when cooking the pork.

Place marinated pork loin on the grill of your BBQ.
Cook on a medium heat, approximately 15 minutes, until cooked through.
Be careful to watch that you don't burn the pork.

Steamed Char Sui Bao (Cantonese BBQ Pork Bun)
Servings: 20 
 Filling Ingredients

350 gm (12 oz) char sui (finely diced)
2 shallots (finely diced)
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
¼ cup (60 ml) chicken stock
1 teaspoon (3 gm) cornflour
½ tablespoon vegetable oil

Bun Ingredients

1 cup milk, scalded
¼ cup (60 gm/2 oz) sugar
1 tablespoon oil
¼ teaspoon (2 gm) salt
2½ teaspoons (8 gm/1 satchel) of dried yeast
3 cups (420 gm/15 oz) plain flour
(1 cup=240 ml, 1 tablespoon=15 ml, 1 teaspoon=5 ml)

Filling Directions:

Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or pan. Sauté the shallots for one or two minutes until soft.
Add diced char sui to the wok/pan and stir.
Add oyster sauce, dark soy sauce and sesame oil to the pork mixture, stir fry for one minute.
Mix cornflour and stock together and then add to the pork mixture.
Stir well and keep cooking until the mixture thickens, 1 or 2 minutes.
Remove mixture from wok/pan and place in a bowl to cool. Set aside until ready to use.

Bun Directions:

Scald milk and then stir in sugar, oil and salt, leave to cool until it is lukewarm. Once it is the right temperature add yeast, leave until yeast is activated and it becomes frothy, about 10 - 15 minutes.
Sift flour in to a large bowl.
Add milk/yeast mixture to the flour. Bring the flour mixture together with your hands.
Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for approximately 10 minutes. The dough should be smooth and slightly elastic.
Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Leave to rise until it is double in size. This will take from 1 - 2 hours depending on weather conditions.
Punch down dough and divide in to 20 equal portions.
Roll each dough portion in to a 7 – 8cm (2¾ - 3 ¼ inches) round.
Place 1 tablespoon of filling in the centre of the round, gather the edges together at the top and place on a 8cm (3 inch) square of baking paper. Repeat until all dough has been used.
Cover and let rise for 20 minutes. Place buns in bamboo steamer, leaving space between the buns.
Heat water in a wok until it is simmering and place steamers one on top of each other in the wok.
Place lid on top bamboo steamer and steam for approximately 12 minutes.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

My Other Blog - Fresh Green Beans

Hello, fellow food enthusiasts! I've visited another farmer's market and transformed purple beans into green ones. Check out my post for some food magic. Oh, you may have noticed the little bar that's recently appeared on the bottom of my blog. That's because I recently joined the Culinary Content Network over at The Daily Meal! Please take a look around; it's a really cool website. 

Have a lovely week!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Oreo Cheesecakes

"Mom, where are my Twix bars?" my brother Ian asked groggily, twisting in his seat. 
"They should be in the cooler," she called back, keeping her eyes on the road. I shifted uneasily. Do you ever wake up from a nap and just kind of...sleep eat? Without even realizing it? 
"Uh...how many are there?" I asked slowly. 
"Two I think". Sigh. Well, no point in lying. 
"I ate them," I announced. Ian turned to me in wide eyed shock and screeched his disapproval. 
"Rebecca, seriously? You ate them?" my mom exclaimed. At this point my sister bursts into laughter and my mom begins backpedaling. 
"No, I mean, it's fine, it's not like it's a big deal, but I'm just surprised! You always ask if you are going to eat the last of something, or you're more likely to let food go to waste rather than take it from someone else. That's all I meant". 
"I was sleep eating, " I grumbled. I vaguely remembered pulling the mini candy bars out of the cooler before drifting back to sleep. 
"YOU OWE ME NEW TWIX BARS!" Ian bellowed. Somehow I don't think I'll be able to live this one down. 

I owed Ian something anyway. For months and months, he has begged me for either a.) a box cake, or b.) oreo cheesecakes. For another unrelated reason, I also owe my sister her own cheesecake, but that's another story. I refer to all of this collectively as my "Cheesecake Debt". 

In the background is what I refer to as my "Grumpy Mug"

This seemed like as good a time as any to pay Ian's part of the Cheesecake Debt. I've been making these miniature oreo cheesecakes for years, as they're a favorite at graduation parties and gatherings. People seem to be delighted by it, maybe because it's neater and more self contained than a slice of cheesecake, maybe they think it's cute that each cheesecake has a whole oreo as the crust. I dunno. But they're a surefire way to be forgiven for accidental Twix eating. 

Oreo Cheesecakes 
from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes
(I halved this recipe and still ended up with 20, so if you make the full recipe you may very well end up with more than 30).

42 Oreos, 30 left whole and 12 coarsely chopped
2 pounds cream cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup sour cream
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 275°. Line standard muffin pans with liners. Place 1 whole cookie in the bottom of each liner.
Beat cream cheese at medium speed using an electric mixer. Gradually sugar, beating until combined. Beat in vanilla.
Drizzle in eggs, a bit at a time. Beat in sour cream and salt. Stir in chopped cookies.
Divide batter among pans. Bake for about 22 minutes or until filling is set.
Cool completely on wire racks. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight covered. Remove from pans just before serving.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

My Other Blog - Strawberry Macarons

Hello everyone! I made some eye searingly pink macarons filled with strawberry buttercream. Check it out over on the other blog. It's strawberry season, so if you have a place to pick your own nearby, get out there and do it! Also, I have a lot of exciting things planned for July, so keep an eye out, okay?