Friday, November 30, 2018

2019 Cooking Class Preview

As the year is almost over, it is about time to look back and count the blessings. 2018 has been an extremely busy and fruitful year for me with 21 Los Angeles county public library cooking programs and monthly cooking class in my church. 

Here are some snapshots of the classes (photo by Peter A. and Tony W.) :

"A" team

Chef Jerry G.
Chef Jerry's signature dish: Chicken spinach penne rustica

Below is a preview of the upcoming classes in the first quarter of 2019:

January: to welcome the Chinese New Year of the Pig, a class on how to bake nian gao and make sweet dumpling will be welcomed by many. 焗紅豆年糕、流心黑芝麻湯圓

February: Valentine's day favorite, sweetheart custard pastry and a low sugar cake will be introduced. 甜心甜品、香葱低糖肉鬆蛋糕

March: Street foods of Hong Kong and Taiwan: HK style egg waffle and scallion pancake 雞蛋仔、葱油餅

More details will be available on a latter date.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Chocolate and Walnut Babka 猶太麵包

" Take the finest flour and bake twelve loaves of bread, using two-tenths of an ephah for each loaf. Arrange them in two stacks, six in each stack, on the table of pure gold before the Lord. By each stack put some pure incense as a memorial portion to represent the bread and to be a food offering presented to the Lord. This bread is to be set out before the Lord regularly, Sabbath after Sabbath, on behalf of the Israelites, as a lasting covenant"         Leviticus 24:5-8

「你要取細麵烤成十二個餅,每一個餅用兩公斤細麵。 你要把餅擺列成兩排,每排六個,放在耶和華面前精金的桌子上; 把純乳香放在每排餅上,象徵這些餅作獻給耶和華的火祭。 每一個安息日,亞倫都要把餅擺在耶和華面前,不可間斷,這是以色列人永遠的約」      利未記 24:5-8

Bread making was a weekly or even daily ritual in ancient times. It was a food offering to the Lord and not to be taken casually. The finest ingredients were to be used and detailed instructions were given.

This Jewish bread is different from all the breads I made before. Instead of using bread flour, it uses all purpose and cake flour. The result is a very soft and tender texture. The lower gluten content in the flours also helps rolling out the dough an easier task.

For the filling, I made my own chocolate mixture. But Nutella or just peanut butter is a good choice as well.

Recipe modified from Breaking Breads: a New World of Israeli Baking by Uri Scheft

Ingredients to make two loaves:

280g all purpose flour (11-12% protein)
220g cake flour (8-10% protein)
120g whole milk, room temp
2 large eggs
5g instant yeast
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
75g sugar
80g unsalted butter, room temp
large pinch of salt

Filling (optionally, use Nutella or peanut butter instead of this filling):
30g whole milk
58g unsalted butter, room temp
1 egg yolk
seeds from half a pod of vanilla bean or pure vanilla extract
80g sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon powder

75g walnut, chopped
50g semi-sweet chocolate chips

1) Make the dough by putting all the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low for a minute or two until it forms a dough. Knead at speed 2 for about 5 minutes.
2) Cover and let it rest for 30 minutes.
3) Wrap the dough ball in plastic wrap and flatten it to about an inch thick. Refrigerate for at least an hour or up to 24 hours.
4) Roll out the chilled dough to a long rectangle, 9x24 inches (1). (See notes on tips about rolling) Spread the filling all over the dough (2,3). Sprinkle walnuts and chocolate chips and press them slightly into the dough so they are not so loose for when you roll the dough (4):

5) Roll up the dough on the long side tightly to form a cylinder (1). Use a bread knife to cut it lengthwise. This will give you two long pieces. Then cut them crosswise so there will be four pieces (2). Put two pieces together to form an "X"(3). Twist the ends together to braid (4):

6) Put the braided dough into an oiled 9x4 inch loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm spot until it rises almost to the rim of the pan. It may take up to 2 hours, depending the temperature of the room.
7) Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 40 minutes.

1) Roll the dough only from left to right or right to left to form the length of the dough. Do not roll up and down because it will stress out the gluten and it will spring back. By rolling in just one direction will make the job much more easier.

2) Even though the length of one portion of dough is about 12 inches, it will fit snugly onto the 9 inch pan after all the manipulation and braiding.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Hainan Chicken with Rice 海南雞飯

Hainan chicken is my family's favorite dish. To make this chicken, I have tried using the soaking method, in which the chicken is dipped in a hot, herb-infused brine to cook, and this steaming recipe. Both methods give me a moist chicken but I found steaming is easier to do and less wasteful, as the brine in the soaking method is merely disposed of after cooking the chicken.

Do you like the chicken more than the rice? Or the ginger and scallion infused oil? I think they are like legs of a table. Each one is indispensable from the other, and essential to the dish as a whole.

Friday, August 3, 2018

How to Make Salted Egg (Yolk Only) 淨咸蛋黃做法

Beginning this project, I was doubtful if it would work the way I saw in the pictures, if the salted egg yolks would turn out to be round, solid, yet slightly oozy. But after doing it myself, I am convinced. It is indeed an ingenious way to make salted egg yolks, without the egg whites or using the whole egg method. I have been making my own salty egg for a long time since the import is prohibited by the FDA (only cooked salty eggs can be imported to the US). But most of the time, only the egg yolks are used, like in mooncakes or other bakery products.

There is not really a recipe for it, meaning the quantity of the ingredients is arbitrary, not like in baking. It is the "how" which matters. The salt can be reused.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Black Forest Tart (No Bake) 黑森林撻 (免焗)

This is a nice summer-friendly, no-bake variation of the traditional black forest cake. I used dark chocolate mousse as the filling and dark sweet cherries. Use the finest chocolate for best flavor. Both homemade or store bought tart crusts do not require baking, so it is a superb dessert for hot summer days. If you keep the tart in the freezer and eat it frozen, the texture of the chocolate mousse becomes almost like ice cream.

Special note about silky and smooth chocolate mousse: the temperatures of the three different mixtures--egg, melted chocolate and whipped cream--have to be very close, if not the same. If the chocolate or egg mixture is too warm, the whipped cream will deflate, resulting with a dense mousse. If the cream is too cold, the chocolate will seize into flecks, making the mousse grainy.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Sprouted Wheat Pancake 發芽麵粉班戟

What is sprouted flour?
Sprouted flour is milled using sprouted wheat. By soaking wheat kernels in water, it will germinate and sprout because it is the seed of the wheat plant. Under the right conditions, the wheat kernels will grow into a wheat plant, but this process is stopped in order for us to have sprouted flour. The sprouted wheat is dried, then ground into flour.

What is the difference between using sprouted flour vs non-sprouted flour (regular wheat flour)?
Sprouted flour is tastier, more nutritious, and easier to digest. When a seed germinates, the enzymes start turning it into a growing organism. Hence the nutritional value increases.

It makes this pancake more nutty, tender with melt-in-your-mouth feel. Other than using it to make pancake, it can substitute with other whole wheat flour recipe.

Give it a try and you'll love it!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Sourdough Rye Bread 裸麥包

It is amazing how four simple ingredients--flour, water, yeast and salt (plus time and patience)--can produce such a nutritious and flavorful food that human beings have consumed since thousands of years ago.

This is my first time using rye to make bread. Rye is very different from wheat. Although rye flour has similar gluten producing proteins, there is virtually no gluten formation. It has more bran, mineral, fiber, soluble sugars, pentosans, and amylase enzymes than wheat flour. All these differences make baking with rye a bit challenging. In particular, amylase will cause the bread crumb to have more of a gummy texture in a process called "starch attack" (I am not going to go into details here. For more information, read Hamelman's book, Bread, p40-42)
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