Friday, March 30, 2012

Super Fluffy Char Siu Bao

I've seen quite a few recipes for char siu baos everywhere on the internet. I've tried so many recipes with so many different types of flours (bread, cake, and all purpose), but this has been the absolute best recipe

There are a few things I've learned from all my trials when making steam buns. The first and most important thing is to ignore all recipes that only call for yeast. You won't get the same amazing rise that way.

The other important thing is to use this kind of flour.

I honestly don't know what makes this flour different. It's usually used to make Korean Pajeon pancakes, and it has a bear on the bag. It makes the fluffiest char siu bao ever. 

This post has been submitted to Yeastspotting.

Char Siu Bao


  • 1 ½ tsp yeast
  • ¾ cup warm water
  • 2 Tbsp shortening or vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 12.5 oz flour

For Filling
  • 2 cups chopped braised pork. Char siu is best, but any leftover pork will work
  • 1 Tbsp hoisin
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 ½ tsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • handful of scallions
  • 1/2 cup blanched mustard greens

  1. Proof yeast with water for 10 minutes
  2. Mix sugar, flour, shortening and baking powder together. Add yeast mix
  3. Stir until combined and knead 5 minutes until smooth/elastic
  4. Let dough rest 45 minutes to an hour until doubled in size.
  5. While dough is rising, braise mustard greens, chop meat and greens, and mix all filling ingredients together. Adjust seasoning according to taste. Filling should be wet.
  6. Divide dough into 8 pieces. Flatten dough, making it slightly thinner around the edges
  7. Spoon 2 Tbsp filling and pleat the top to seal. Place on parchment paper squares
  8. Steam for 15 minutes (no peaking!) and eat immediately

Note: Buns can be wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen. Then just microwave for 90 seconds wrapped in a damp paper towel for a quick snack.
Note 2: Vegetarian filling with mushrooms, daikon, tofu, vinegar and the other filling ingredients are awesome too. Use any leftovers to make any buns you desire.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Steak and Guinness Pie

With Pi day falling so close to St. Patrick's day, it seemed a shame not to make a very Irish pie for our festivities. Steak and Guinness Pie was the perfect savory main dish for the evening. It's also perfect for a potluck. The filling of the pie is essentially a Guinness beef stew, braised for about 3 hours. It can easily be made the night before and refrigerated. Then the next day, all you have to do is heat it up, and bake it before serving to your guests or bringing to a friend's house. Best of all, if you made too much filling to fit in your pie pan, it goes great with pies and rice the following day.

Steak and Guinness Pie


  • 2 lbs chuck roast or brisket, cut into 1 inch cubes. I used brisket
  • 1 onion, large dice
  • 2 carrots, large dice
  • 2 celery ribs, large dice
  • 2 parsnips, large dice
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 bottle of Guinness
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 lb box puff pastry, thawed
  • large handful sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 beaten egg + water


  1. Generously flour the meat, making sure to shake off the excess. Brown the meat in a heavy bottom saucepan with melted butter and remove from the pot. Repeat with as many patches as necessary. Use bacon grease if desired.
  2. Reserve the fat, adding more butter if necessary, and sautee the onions, carrots, celery and parsnips until slightly softened. Add mushrooms, garlic and herbs. Cook for another couple minutes.
  3. De-glaze the pan with the beef broth, making sure to scrape off all the delicious burnt bits. Put the beer and beef into the pot. Cover and simmer for 2 hours or until beef is fork tender. Adjust seasoning and add more beef/stock as necessary. Add the cheddar cheese to the stew when finished.
  4. During the last 10 minutes of the stew, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out enough puff pastry to cover the bottom of a 9 inch cast iron skillet or pie pan with some overhang. Cut a slit in the bottom to prevent it from puffing and bake 8 minutes (this will keep the bottom crust from getting soggy.)
  5. Pour beef stew into the crust and top with another sheet of puff pastry. Brush the top with egg and bake for 40 minutes or until golden and puffed. Serve immediately with peas or green beans

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Irish Soda Scones: A delicious St. Patrick's Day Surprise

When I lived in Berkeley, I loved St. Patrick's day at Cheeseboard bakery. They would make these great loaves of Irish soda bread that were better than I'd had anywhere else. Of course, they made authentic soda bread. Of course, most people find authentic Irish soda bread absolutely disgusting. It's normally dry, unsweetened and as dense as a brick. But I find that it goes wonderfully with tea. It's perfect for breakfast.

I was upset to find out that the Irish soda bread recipe was not in the Cheeseboard recipe book. Instead, they had an Irish soda scones recipe. It's different. It's lighter than a normal Irish soda bread and it's more tender due to the greater butter content. It still has a strong caraway flavor and is only sweetened by the raisins. But it was a great recipe and much more popular with everyone else than normal Irish soda bread. 

Best of all, it went great with a Guinness. Happy St. Patty's Day!

Cheeseboard Irish Soda Scones


  • 3 ½ cups AP flour
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp bakingpowder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¾ cup rolled oats
  • 2 Tbsp caraway
  • 1 ¼ cups unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk


  1. Mix together flour, soda, baking powder, salt, oats and caraway in mixer. Add butter and mix for 4 minutes or until butter is the size of small peas
  2. Add raisins and buttermilk. Mix until just combined and moistened. Let rest 10 minutes for oats to absorb liquid
  3. Roll out  dough on floured surface to 1 inch thick. Fold in half and roll out in opposite direction 1 inch. Repeat 2 more times.
  4. Cut resulting rectangle into 12 squares. Cut a defined cross into the top of the scones (about halfway down) going horizontal/vertical, NOT diagonal to the corners
  5. Place on prepared baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. These are sweetened by only the raisins, and a great with a cup of tea.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Flax Seed Porter Bread

I try out different bread recipes on a regular basis, always hoping to find that magic recipe. So far they've always fallen short, either because of my ineptitude or because of the recipe itself. There was always something missing from the recipe, or the timing of it was too difficult to fit into my schedule. This recipe was great. It had a nutty, chocolaty flavor from the porter, a great sour, almost rye flavor from the beer in general, and it's healthy due to the flax seeds and whole wheat flour. It's complex and it fits very easily into any schedule. Start it one morning and finish it the following morning for hot homemade bread.

For my purposes, I used "Road Dog" porter, produced by Flying Dog out of Frederick Maryland. Any porter or stout will work, but that was the one I had on hand at the time. And I must say, if you can get it in your area, Flying Dog produces some excellent beer.

This post has been submitted to Yeastspotting

Flax Seed Porter Bread

  • 325 grams bread flour
  • 225 grams porter beer
  • 4 grams yeast
  • 50 grams flax seeds
  • 150 grams water
  • 9 grams salt
  • 175 grams whole wheat flour

Directions (for bread to be ready in the morning for breakfast)

  1. In the morning, soak flax seeds in 150 grams of water and leave at room temperature. In separate bowl, mix together 125 grams of beer, 125 grams bread flour and 1 gram of yeast (about ¼ tsp) until smooth. Refrigerate until using.
  2. In the evening, mix all ingredients for 2 minutes and let rest for 5. Knead for 6 minutes until dough is sticky and springy
  3. Stretch the dough and fold the sides under, letting the dough rest for 5 minutes after. Repeat 3 more times and put dough in the refrigerator overnight.
  4. In the morning before baking, remove the dough from the refrigerator 2 hours prior to working with it.
  5. Shape dough as desired and proof for 1 hour
  6. Slash dough prior to baking. Bake with steam at 410 degrees for 35 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave bread inside with the door slightly ajar for 10 more minutes.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Kale Chickpea Salad

I'm always looking for new, different, exciting salads. There's only so often you can eat a regular romaine or spring mix salad (though those can be excellent also).  I don't have a story about this post. There's nothing brilliant about my life I can share. But it was a very simple recipe that used both canned and fresh ingredients. It is an easy, protein filled side dish for your next at home dinner.

Kale Chickpea Salad


  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 3 large kale leaves, chipped
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • juice from one lemon
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt/pepper/cumin/allspice to taste
  • feta cheese or Parmesan to finish if desired.


  1. Thoroughly rinse your garbanzo beans and dry briefly. Toss with kale and parley
  2. Add lemon juice, olive oil and garlic.
  3. Adjust seasoning to taste. Adjust olive oil and lemon as necessary. chill in refrigerator at least 2 hours. The longer it sits, the better it will taste.
  4. Finish with cheese before serving if desired.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Homemade Heath Bars

Heath bars are one of those fantastic chocolates I remember from my childhood. They were one of my favorites and they're still one of my mix-in toppings of choice when you can pick toppings from an ice cream shop. These are super easy to make and not nearly as finicky as most candies can be. You can stir and let the sugar crystalize as much as you want and they'll still be great.

Butter Toffee heath bars (makes about 90 bite sized pieces)

  • 1 lb unsalted butter
  • 2 ⅔ cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup water
  • ¼ cup corn syrup
  • pinch of salt
  • melted chocolate for covering
  1. Cook sugar, butter, water and corn syrup and salt until it reaches 290 degrees (hard crack stage) while stirring constantly. (Normally you don't want to stir sugar for candy because you don't want this to crystalize. But because you want this one to have that hard crystal structure that breaks apart and dissolves on your tongue, stirring is just fine).
  2. Remove from heat and pour over parchment paper until completely cooled.
  3. Break into pieces and dip in chocolate to finish.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Pretzel Salad (aka southern food is weird)

I was first introduced to a dish dubbed "Pretzel Salad" at a potluck back in San Francisco. The theme was southern, and the menu included such classic dishes at pulled pork, mac & cheese, and greens. For dessert, the only person who had ever actually lived in the south brought pretzel salad. It went against all our better sensibilities, but I thought it was tasty.

Two years later, we went to a potluck and my boyfriend had a recipe dubbed "pretzel salad" in his collection. Since he grew up in the Washington DC area, I knew it had to be the same basic recipe.

It's a weird dish and I'm ashamed to admit that I liked it. It sounded really gross from the ingredient list (like fried pickles...) but turned out to be a fantastic, bad for you, delicious souther treat (like fried pickles...) Perhaps I should try making fried pickles in the future too...

Pretzel Salad

  • 2 cups crushed pretzels
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 10 oz cool whip
  • 16-20 oz frozen strawberries or raspberries
  • 2 3 oz boxes strawberry or cherry jello
  • 2 cups boiling water.


  1. Crush pretzels and mix with butter and 3 Tbsp sugar. Spread on the bottom of a baking dish and bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes until crisp and set.
  2. Remove crust and let cool completely.
  3. While crust is cooling, cream together sugar and cream cheese until fluffy. Fold in frozen whipped topping.
  4. Pour whipped topping onto crust and let set in refrigerator.
  5. Boil water and pour over strawberry jello to dissolve. After dissolved, add chopped strawberries. Pour evenly over cream cheese layer. Let set completely before serving.
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