No-knead Wholemeal Baguette 全麦法棍quán mài fǎ gùn

cover.JPGCrusty on the outside, chewy and soft in the middle – what’s not to love about baguettes?! It’s hard to get a truly authentic French baguette in our home ovens, but we can get mighty close. Try this method for shaping baguette loaves with my favorite no-knead bread dough. You can double or triple the quantity of the ingredients and keep the dough covered in the fridge for a week – you get to eat freshly homemade baguette every day!

Makes two loaves,

  • 240g        bread flour高筋面粉
  • 60g         wholemeal flour 全麦面粉
  • 2g          dry yeast 酵母
  • 4g          salt盐
  • 240g        water in room temperatureingredients.JPG

Method

  1. Combine the bread flour and whole flour in a big mixing bowl. Mix well. Add into yeast at one side and salt at the other side. Gradually pour into the water and mix the ingredients well until you do not see any dry flour any more. Cover the bowl with a plastic bag. Leave the dough in the bowl rise for 2 hours in room temperature till it doubles in size. Cover the mixing bowl with a plastic bag, place the covered bowl in fridge overnight or no less than 14 hours.IMG_6581.JPG
  2. Take the mixing bowl out of the fridge. Now let’s FOLD the dough. Dust the counter top or any work surface. Then tip the dough out onto flour-dusted surface. Divide the dough into two equal pieces.IMG_6582.JPG
  3. Let’s work on one piece first. Gently but firmly, pat the dough into a rough rectangle approximately 12cm by 10cm. Make sure the bottom isn’t sticking and try not to deflate too many of those lovely air bubbles. Use both hands to pick up the right side of the dough and lift it off the work surface, stretching the dough upward as you lift (just don’t tear it.) Fold the flap of dough one-third of the way across the rectangle. Repeat it for the left side of the dough. Then using both hands, pick up the end of the dough farthest from you and lift it off the work surface and fold the flap of dough one-third of the way across the rectangle. Repeat by picking up the dough nearest to you – they sound like folding business letter, right? Once done, flip the dough over so that what was once the bottom of the dough is now the top.   (The folding technique here is not for forming the final product; this is done after the first rise to create structure in the dough. This is more to be required for high-hydration doughs.). Repeat the same process for the other piece of dough. Cover the two pieces of dough with kitchen towel and rest for 30 minutes.IMG_6583.JPG
  4. Repeat the step 3 by folding the two pieces of dough one more time. Cover them with kitchen towel. Rest for 20 minutes.IMG_6588
  5. Now let’s SHAPE. Sprinkle the work surface and shape dough with a little more flour so there’s no sticking. Take a piece of rested dough. Use the palms of your hand to gently press down into a rough rectangle approximately 12cm by 10cm. Then using both hands, pick up the end of the dough farthest from you and lift it off the work surface and fold the flap of dough one-third of the way across the rectangle. Repeat by picking up the dough nearest to you (like you fold business letter.) Use your fingers to press down to make sure the edges are well sealed. Then press and roll the loaf into a long baguette form. Start with your hands in the middle of the loaf and gradually move them to the outer edge of the baguette as you roll. Roll until the baguette is as long as like and your baking pan allows. Repeat with the other piece of dough. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Pre-heat the oven to 220°C. Transfer the shaped baguettes to the baking tray, dust more flours over the loaves. Use a sharp knife to make the slashes. Cover the tray with a kitchen towel. Let the loaves rise again for 20 minutes. The loaves are ready to bake when they look puffy and ballooned. Transfer the baking tray into the middle rack of the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes until the crusts are brown and golden.
  6. IMG_6584.JPGIMG_6585IMG_6586.JPG
  7. Move the tray out of oven and transfer the loaves to a cooling rack. Cool down for 30 minutes. Serve.IMG_6587.JPG

Tips:

  1. As you work the dough, keep it moving. Use extra flour if needed to keep the dough from sticking, particularly at the beginning and then when you roll the shaped loaf into the skinny baguette.
  2. To replicate professional ovens as closely as possible, place a small oven-safe pan in the bottom of the oven while it heats. Add a half cup of water or a few ice cubes to the pan when you put the loaves in to bake. The steam will create a moist environment during the initial few minutes of baking and help get a crackling crisp crust.

 

 

 

Steamed Minced Pork with Preserved Vegetables梅菜蒸肉饼méi cài zhēng ròu bǐng

coverDon’t be deceived by its looks. The well-loved home-cooked Chinese dish is just comforting and flavorful. Serve it with plain white rice and a simple stir-fried green vegetable for an easy, healthy and satisfying dinner. Be sure to spoon the glorious juices over the rice.

Serves 2-4

  • 250g                     ground pork (30% fat in minimum) and ideally cut by hand猪肉末(7成瘦)
  • 3 tablespoons   water in room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon     sesame oil香油
  • ½ tablespoon    light soy sauce生抽
  • 1 tablespoon     corn starch淀粉
  • 1 teaspoon      caster sugar白糖
  • ¼ teaspoon        ground white pepper 白胡椒粉
  • 1 teaspoon         ginger, minced姜末
  • ½ tablespoon   cooking oil (optional)
  • 80g                       preserved vegetables 梅菜  (pickled of Chinese mustards)
  • 1 tablespoon     spring onion,葱末, for garnishIMG_5792.JPG

Method

  1. Soak the preserved vegetables in water for 10 minutes, then wash it and cut into small pieces.
  2. Add all the ingredients and seasoning (except spring onions) into a big bowl, use chopsticks and stir vigorously in one direction until the pork has a sticky texture.IMG_6068.JPG
  3. Spread the meat out into a circle in a shallow dish that will fit into your streamer. Cover the dish with a plate or aluminium foil, place it in a steamer and steam high heat for 15 -20 minutes. IMG_6069.JPG
  4. Remove the dish from the steamer. Sprinkle with minced onion and serve.

 

 

Sichuan Dry-fried Shredded Beef 干煸牛肉丝gàn biān niú ròu sī

FullSizeRenderThis is a must try for any serious Sichuan food lover. No expensive cut is needed for this delightful dish. The cooking method calls for marinating the meat first, using a special cooking technique called “velveting” to ensure the meat turns out extremely tender and moist. The classic recipe for this dish uses Chinese celery, which has longer and thinner stalks and a more pronounced “celery” flavor than its Western relative, the common green celery.  You can find Chinese celery year-round in most Asian grocery stores.  Or use any celery of your choice.

Serves 4-6

  • 300g     beef (flank steak is perfectly fine or sirloin if you insist), shredded 牛肉,切丝

Marinade

  • 1 tablespoon      potato or corn starch 生粉
  • 2 tablespoon        Chinese cooking wine 料酒
  • 1 tablespoon        light soy sauce 生抽
  • 1 tablespoon         cooking oil

Seasoning

  • 4 tablespoons             cooking oil
  • 2 spring onion (white part only)
  • 1 tablespoon              ginger, minced
  • 8-10                             dried chili pepper干红辣椒, sliced
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon         Sichuan peppercorn powder (depending on your level of tolerance of the numbing Sichuan peppercorn)
  • 1 tablespoon               Sichuan fermented bean paste (Doubanjiang)四川郫县豆瓣酱
  • 1 small bunch             Chinese celery水芹菜 (or celery of your choice),  leaves removed, cut into 5cm-long sections
  • 1 teaspoon                 sugar白糖
  • 1 tablespoon              white sesame seeds       for garnishing

 IMG_5953.JPGMethod

  1. Cut the beef into small and long shreds. In a large mixing bowl, combine beef shreds with marinade (corn starch, cooking wine, light soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of cooking oil). Set aside for 10 minutes.IMG_5987.JPG
  2. Heat up frying pan over medium high heat, add 4 tablespoons of cooking oil. Once the oil is hot, add ½ of the beef shred. Use a spatula to move around the beef shreds to make sure the meat is quickly and evenly cooked. Cook until the meat turns pale then transfer out on a plate. You can place paper towel on the plate to help filter the extra oil and liquid. Repeat the process with the other half of the beef shreds.IMG_5988.JPG
  3. Now let’s prepare the seasoning ingredients. Add 1 tablespoon of cooking oil (the used oil for cooking beef is perfectly fine) in a clean frying pan over medium heat. Add spring onions and ginger to stir fry for a minute or so until aroma. Then add dry chili, fry for another minute. Add Doubanjiang(the fermented bean paste). Continue to fry for 1- 2 minutes.IMG_5989.JPG
  4. Now turn up the heat. Add into cooked beef shreds. Mix well. Make sure beef shreds are evenly coated with all the seasoning ingredients. In 1 minute later, add Chinese celery, Sichuan peppercorn powder and sugar. Mix well. Cook for another 1 minute. Add sesame seeds (optional).IMG_5990.JPG
  5. Transfer out and serve when the dish is hot.

Tips

  1. It is important to cook the beef shreds in batches as home kitchen stoves do not have as high heat as in the commercial kitchen. By doing so, we could avoid crowding the frying pan as well as use less cooking oil.
  2. Removing liquid from the cooked beef shreds is critical. You can use kitchen towels as indicated in the recipe. Or simply transfer cooked beef into a colander. The key feature of this dish is ‘dry beef’. Otherwise, you will end up with a ‘soupy’ beef dish.

 

 

Pan-fried Baby Potatoes 香煎小土豆xiāng jiān xiǎo tǔ dòu

cover.jpgDo not underestimate the power of these baby potatoes! These awesome pan-fried potatoes are super easy, super cheap and super quick to make.

Serves 3-4

  • 500g                          baby potatoes
  • 1 or 1.5 tablespoons     cooking oil
  • 1/3 teaspoon          sea salt
  • 2                    spring onions, mincedIMG_6019.JPG

 Method

  1. Wash the potatoes.
  2. Place the potatoes in a pot and cook over medium heat till soft. This takes about 10 minutes.IMG_6021.JPG
  3. Use the back of a Chinese cleaver to smash the potatoes till flatIMG_6024.JPG
  4. Place cooking oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Once pan is hot, place all the smashed potatoes. Cook till golden. Then flip. Cook till golden. Sprinkle sea salt and spring onions. Serve warm.IMG_6043.JPG

Dinner Rolls餐包cān bāo

cover.jpgYou will feel cozily competent after baking these cute and soft buns for your family dinner table or party. They are easy to pull off. No bread machine is involved. No kneading is required.

Makes about 20 rolls,

  • 300g         plain flour中筋面粉
  • 1 tablespoon   dry yeast 酵母
  • 1/3 teaspoon   salt盐
  • Milk          120ml (room temperature)
  • 35g           unsalted butter (melted by using microwave and cool off), room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon    honey
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon    sesame seeds or/and poppy seeds (optional)IMG_5995.JPG

Method

  1. Melted butter by using a microwave or heat the butter on a frying pan over low medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Cool it off. Beat the egg. Prepare ¼ cup of lukewarm water (40°C). And add into the yeast. Mix well and make sure yeast is dissolved.In a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients except the sesame seeds. Also use only half the beaten egg (save the other half portion for glazing use). Use a spatula to combine the ingredients together till you see a smooth dough. It takes about 2-3 minutes. It is important to use the milk in room temperature. So either take milk from fridge earlier or heat it up to 40°C  IMG_6010.JPG
  2. Cover the bowl with lid. Wrap the bowl with a plastic bag. Let the dough rest for about 2 hours till the dough becomes 2.5 to 3 times bigger in size.IMG_6012.JPG
  3. Punch air out of dough. Oil a baking sheet and set aside. Pull off pieces of dough the size of walnuts, and form into round balls. Place on baking sheet almost touching each other, in 4 rows of 5 each. Cover with a kitchen towel, and let rise in a warm place 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oven to 200°C.IMG_6008.JPG
  4. When rolls have risen. Paint rolls with glaze. Sprinkle one row with sesame seeds and the next with poppy seeds; leave the third row plain, and then repeat pattern. Varieties of seeds are optional. You can choose to use one kind or none at all.IMG_6009.JPG
  5. Bake rolls until risen and golden brown, about 15-18 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack or serve immediately.cooling

Spinach & Warm Mushroom Salad 菠菜蘑菇沙拉

cover.jpgThis comfort-food salad’s bold dressing has big umami flavor and meaty texture, thanks to the cooked mushrooms. It is a great option for either family meal or your dinner party.  It takes less than 10 minutes to put together – will this give you another reason to try homemade salad dressing?

Serves 2-4,

  • 100g             baby spinach or spinach (leaves only),菠菜叶

For the mushroom-vinaigrette dressing

  • 2 tablespoons    extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼  yellow onions, sliced
  • ¼   red bell pepper, sliced
  • 4-5   sliced mushroom such as swiss button or shiitake mushroom
  • ¼ teaspoon        ground pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon   sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon      balsamic vinegar

IMG_5754.JPGMethod

  1. Place spinach leaves in a salad plate or bowl.
  2. Slice yellow onion, bell pepper and mushroom. In a medium saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add yellow onion first, saute for 2-3 minutes till soft, then add mushroom, cook for 2-3 minutes till soft and add bell pepper. Mix them well, then season it with ground pepper and sea salt. Add 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar. Mix well. The warm mushroom vinaigrette dressing is done.IMG_5786.JPGIMG_5787
  3. Immediately pour the dressing on top of the baby spinach. Toss and Coat. Serve.

 

Kimchi韩国泡菜hán guó pào cài

cover.jpgYears ago I tried kimchi it was not, I must admit, my favorite food. I was wholly converted after one day I had tasted an amazing Kimchi-flavoured dish. Once you’ve tried the homemade Kimchi, you may never want to go back to the supermarket anymore. The homemade Kimchi is ready to eat after two days of fermentation in the fridge. It can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 months. The flavour, by then, maybe too pungent for the vegetable to be eaten raw. But at this stage, it is perfect to flavour any cooked dishes.

  • ½ head (1000g )  Napa cabbage 大白菜
  • 40g                       sea salt

Marinade

  • 25g                                    glutinous rice flour糯米粉
  • 200g                                  water
  • 1 pear                                remove the core and minced
  • 60ml                                  fish sauce鱼露
  • 60g                                    korean red chili powder韩国辣椒面
  • 1 tablespoon                  garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon                   ginger, minced
  • 25g                                  Chinese chive, 韭菜,cut into 5-6cm in length
  • 1 tablespoon                  shrimp paste虾酱 (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon                      caster sugar
  • ½ teaspoon                      salt

IMG_5397.JPGMethod

  1. Prepare the cabbage: Wash the cabbage. Make a deep cut across the base of the head of and split it in two. Put in in a large bowl. Sprinkle with the sea salt. Make sure to coat between the leaves and let sit for 4-5 hours.IMG_5723.JPG
  2. Prepare the glutinous rice paste: Add 25g of the glutinous rice flour to a sauce pot with 200g water over medium heat and, stir continuously, bring to a boil. When it turns to ‘glue’, turn off the heat and continue stir it until it cools down a bit. I removed it from the pan and put it in a bowl in the fridge to really chill out a bit while I tended to the rest of the recipe.IMG_5725.JPG
  3. Prepare the red chili paste: core and mince the pear, combine together with fish sauce, red chili powder, minced garlic, ginger, Chinese chive, shrimp paste, sugar and salt. Mix well. Then add prepared glutinous rice paste. Mix well.IMG_5726.JPG
  4. Prepare the kimchi: Rinse the now-softened cabbage under running water. Drain the cabbage and remove as much water as you can. Place the cabbage into a large bowl and coat with the red chili paste, ensuring the paste goes between the leaves that no leaf is left uncovered. Place them in an airtight container.IMG_5727.JPG
  5. Fermentation: Place the container in the fridge. The Kimchi is ready to eat after two days. Kimchi can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 months. The flavour, by then, maybe too pungent for the vegetable to be eaten raw. But at this stage, it can be used to flavour cooked dishes.