Tuesday, April 17, 2018

My Photo Journal of Ella Dinning Room and Bar in Sacramento

I had a great opportunity to visit Ella Dinning Room and Bar in Sacramento the other week.  http://www.elladiningroomandbar.com/
Not that the place is untouchable, it is just a place I kind of would feel out of place visiting by myself.  There are many restaurants I visit including Bouchon in Yountville with no problem, but I am not quite certain what's about Ella, I feel ... well, the opportunity came for a bunch of convention attendees to be invited to attend evening cocktails.  We got the entire place to ourselves.  Here is my photo journal.

 Friendly chefs

 Look up and open the windows!!

 The best part of it all...we were guessing... lemony creamy custard?   on top of crushed graham crackers?
 The chocolate cup was very good, but we loved the lemon cup the best.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Making Hwa Juwen with Vermicelli and Pork

This is another one of my adventure last summer.   Time really flies.  I was not able to finish the blog after starting it. Although this did not turn out like the ones I made a few moons ago, it still tasted good.  What is an adventure, if everything turn out perfectly.
I have made this before the Hwa Juwen - the 'flower' roll with vermicelli (reconstituted Chinese bean thread).  It is one of my favorite.  Normally, you would not see this much vermicelli mixed in it.  But since this is mine, I did what I like.
Premix reconstituted bean thread noodle (shred cut with kitchen scissors) with stir fried ground pork and some shredded carrots for color. 
Add some salt and white pepper for taste.
Prepare the BAO dough.
Roll out the dough, fill the dough.  Slice the dough and roll the dough.
The BAO dough called for the milk powder, but it turned out that dry powder milk did not add any value to the final product as far as some people claim that it Whitens the dough and having too much rice vermicelli  as I have done didn't help either.  I should just fill it with just enough for the look and stir fry a side dish to go along with it.  (I think I was being lazy.)
Prepare the basic BAO dough.
Let it rise to double.
Roll out and fill with reconstituted bean thread vermicelli stir fried with ground pork and some shredded carrots.   You could add chopped green onions or chopped curly parsley, etc.
Roll up the dough.
*DO NOT slice through to the bottom - make three or four slice cut but not sliced down at the bottom.

On top of a pot with boiling water, in steamer basket, place the filled Hwa Juwen on top of a cut parchment paper-preferably organic.
Steam at high heat for 25 to 30 min.  
*Tester:  Open the steamer's cover slightly and Quickly without burning yourself, remove one of the Hwa 
Juwen to taste.  Quickly return the steamer's cover.
If the dough does not feel sticky and the texture well formed and the pork is cooked.  Power off.  Remove the lid. Remove the steamer baskets off the steamer pot onto a drying rack

Testing BAO Basic Dough #3

We have been testing various formula for making Chinese BAO.  We are convinced that those fluffy "white" BAO served at dim sum restaurants or at any Asian markets are using bleached unhealthy flour.  So, forget the white and let's get used to the homemade.

This dough recipe is for a several types of Chinese BAO types.
Basic dough: 
Flour - 3 C
Sugar - 2 Tbsp
Yeast - 1-1/2 tsp
Water - 1-1/4 C

Oil - 1 Tbsp
Combine everything except oil.   Combine with chop sticks until water is absorbed; then add oil.
Knead until smooth.  
Cover and proof for 25 to 30 min.  Place in oiled plastic bag and tightly close the bag and leave in refrigerator for 2 hours for low temp proofing method.  

For Preferment Method - For 'ZON ZONG FASHIAO FA' - Divide the dough into two, and place each in oiled plastic bag, refrigerate for 4 hours or more in plastic bag.
1.  Then for 'ZON ZONG MIEAN TWUAN':  'MIEAN ZONG' - 1 portion
Water - 1-1/4 C  - add only 1-1/8 C first and reserve 1/8 C and use it only if needed.
Sugar 2 Tbsp
Flour 3 C
Yeast - 1/2 tsp
Mix sugar and yeast into water. 
Hand shred MIEAN ZONG and add pieces into the mixture.
Add flour, then mix with chopsticks.  
Start kneading the dough until smooth.  
Cover and place in warm place for about 10 to 15 min.
Take 1/3 of the dough can be used for cold MIEAN ZONG.
Use the rest to make various type of pastries that requires ZON ZONG MIEAN TUWAN.  

FAST Rising Method to make Huwa Jiuwen, Milky SHIAO MANTOU; Xou Tao, NAI HUWAN BAO
Flour - 3 C
Sugar -2 to 5 Tbsp
Yeast - 1-1/2 tsp
Baking powder - 1 to 2 tsp
Water - 1-1/4 C 
Oil - 1 to 2 Tbsp per recipe
Mix sugar, yeast with water, then add flour and baking powder.
Mix till water disappears and shredded dough forms.  
Start kneading the dough and add water if needed to form soft dough and smooth.  
Cover and rest 5 to 20 min.  
The dough is ready for use.  

 Results?  I am not 100% satisfied with this formula for the BAO dough.  But it's a keeper to test out further and add improvements to it.


It's been a while since I lasted made this simple MOCHI cake.  Right before bed time, I whisked 5 large organic eggs, 1 C organic cane sugar, 1/4 C Milk, 2 Tbsp Organic Avocado Oil, 2 C Glutenous Rice - MOCHI flour shifted with 2 Tbsp Aluminum free Baking Powder, 2 Tbsp Organic MATCHA Tea Powder.
1 glass baking dish buttered and floured.
Preheat oven to 425'F
Mix all ingredients
Pour batter in.
Bake until fluffy and tester comes out dry.
About 30 min
Ready for everyone to enjoy in the morning.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

African Violets Pups Story by Polly

I really can't believe it's 2018, and tomorrow is Chinese New Year!!  First time in a long lunar years that the Chinese New Year is at the middle of the month.   And it also means, the spring has arrived.  And it is true.  If you looked at your garden, plants are blossoming here and there.  I have so many postings that I want to do, but with my current schedule, looks like it is on the back burner.
But I want to take this free time to post something related to my African Violets that I have been able to successfully propagate from its original plant.  The original plant was given to me from a retired co-worker.  When I got it, there were two flowers on it.  Then, it disappeared.  I had no idea how to grow them.  I think in one of the posting, I posted their progress in rooting from a cutting.  Well, those cuttings are now 1 year and a half years old.  Each one has been growing well and healthy.  By a lucky chance, I found out my African Violets love the bounded tall cups as their medium to grow in.  I tried originally with ceramic container, but they did not do much, except to just grow some new leaves and die.  So, here is my picture journal of my African Violets.  The leaf cutting would grow a healthy bunch of root after a couple months.  As long as the leaf looks green and firm, when planted, it will grow into a healthy Violet plant.
1.  Poked a bunch of holes in aluminum foil or plastic wrap to go over a cupful of water.
2.  Leave it under office's ceiling light.
 3.  After a few weeks... 2 months?  *Change water often.  Don't let the green algae to form.
4.  When the root looks strong and leaves looks healthy, transplant them into a pot with Soil for African Violets.  I added a bit more of Perlite to keep the soil light.
5.  Keep the soil moist and leave the new plant under the office ceiling light.
6.  Do not water until the soil feel quite dry but not dried up.
After two to three months, if the leaf survive, you will eventually see a tiny leaf growing at the bottom of the stem.
The new leaves eventually form into new Violet plant.  The healthy plant leaves are shiny, especially the cutting that rooted that you planted in.  It will feel very firm and strong.
 As the new crown starts to form, the cutting will eventually diminish in itself.  Eventually, it will exhaust itself and wither. 

Based on my observation, the plants in clay pot grew the slowest.  All the other ones in tall plastic cups thrived.  The mother plant is to the right with large crown.   I took two healthy plants home (the ones in two tall blue cups.) along with their mother to take care.
 Constant temp and light.  And yes, as you have read it in many other expert African Violet growers' site, it is true, the African Violet needs a lot of light.  I fed them African Violet liquid drops when I water them.  I started to do that in the spring of 2017.  It started to flower when the daylight became longer.
 These are the new pups that became strong and grew large crown. They eventually flowered in late spring of 2017.  (Sorry for the lack of real vocab to describe.  As you can tell, I am an amateur.)
 The ones at the office started to bloom, too.
 It is very interesting to observe their growth. 
 This is the original mother Violet.  I decided to take it home and replant it into a Taller TACO Bell cup I had. But the diameter at the top is no different than what it was in originally.  See how beautiful those flowers are.    I took the expert's advice and pinch or snip off the expended flowers to keep them continue growing flowers.  Since last spring, it continues to flower.
 Beautiful.  I wish I know their name / type.  But I don't.
At a close macro shot, you can see this shiny sparkles on their petals.
Well. That's all the time I have.  Wish you all a Happy Chinese New Year.  KAI HWA FU' GWEI
meaning-May your fortune be like flower blossom... something like that.