Friday, September 30, 2011


I learned all about this tiny "Dim Sum" like Spanish and Portuguese's TAPAS.    They are all the favorite snacks and  flavorful dishes on skewers and small plates.  It reminded me of South Viet-Nam a bit.  As you are seated in a cafe, a plateful of small pastries are served, etc....
So, I tried making tapas for myself with whatever I have in the refrigerator.     I have hard boiled eggs, home baked Ciabatta, home grown tomatoes, cucumbers, and I got hold of the Prosciutto di Parma from the Corti Brothers Market.    Thank goodness, I met a Italian woman at the deli section, and she was purchasing the prosciutto.    She told me Parma' prosciutto is better because it is less salty.    I purchased 1/4 lb of it.     Wow! $28.99/lb.    But only a slice is enough for my tapas.

I love the toasted Ciabatta bread slice deeply flavored with the fresh tomatoes.    The tomato juice permeated every bread crumbs and softened it for a great bite.   The saltiness from the prosciutto complemented the hard boiled egg sprinkles with Hungarian paprika.   Top it off with anything I can find in the refrigerator - Provolone cheese slice, tomato slice, fresh basil leaves (from my garden).      I enjoyed every bite of it.     I hope you will try making your own tapas - in place of that bag of chips?

RADISH-SUBIEN & Family Lunch

One of the family fun activity is definitely cooking together.    We were learning the SUBIEN - equivalent to French Puff Pastry in Chinese method.    The "YOE SUE" (like the butter block) is made with Olive Oil mixed with flour.    Then it is enclosed in the dough.  Rolled and filled and baked.
The filling is made with shredded Japanese DAIKON - white radish and some chopped green onions.    Thought it would taste bitter, but cutting out the liquid from the shredded DAIKON really worked out to be the technique to remember.    The flaky pastry made with olive oil covered with plenty of sesame seeds is just so much fun to bite into.    Make you really feel that this is a very special pastry, and psychologically make your taste buds look for the best.
And our lunch is just filled with all sorts of vegetable and meat dish - home style, and it was a great fun day.


 Bake for 20 minutes, and there they are!
Now it's time for our lunch.

Croissants My Way #2

My next testing with the croissants technique is learned from Chef Pino Ficara.     I noticed his dough mixing is very simple, yet the final croissants are with  "mille feuteuille".  I am quite impressed with the flattening of the dough and butter compared to the general 'butter block' method that I've seen, learned, and tested myself.  I love the repetitive pounding of the dough vs direct roll of the dough and butter, etc.   I was concerned with the gluten development of the mixed dough with his method.  To my surprise, the break and tearing was minimal during the rolling and stretching.  The stretching is quite important to the finishing croissant that most experienced pastry chef could finish with 9 layers.   I learned about this technique in Baking with Julia Child's cookbook and from Alice Water's Tartine Bakery cookbook recipe, and from Pino Ficara as well.
I filled my croissant again with a dab of homemade almond paste, so I can eat it in a hurry without additional jam or jelly that I like.  My grandchildren love the ones without the filling.  Quite normal for the youngsters.
*The dough is bit softer than the other recipe due to less gluten development for less kneading required.

 Love the successful mille feuteuille de croissants - mission accomplished.

Coconut Pandan Thai Sweet Rice with Mango and Golden Raisin

My sons love this sweet rice mixed with coconut cream and mango.    I first tasted at our family gathering for mother's birthday party at the Thai restaurant.    The rice is soft and coated with white milk of coconuts.    Every rice tasted so delicious and melted in the mouth.  Then, when I bit into the mango, the sweet and tart mango juice finalized the palates to rest it from the wonderful spicy Thai meal.    When I went to shop for my PANDAN leaves at the SF Market, I came across two bags of rice.    One is the Thailand's three ladies Jasmine rice.  As I need to refill my pantry, I got a bag.    Then, while looking for the sweet rice to make Chinese Zong-Tze, I found this Thailand sweet rice.
     I  don't need 25 lb of it, but after calculating the price of regular 5 lb bag BOTAN brand sweet rice, this one cheaper... but is it any good?    I found a reason to make the Coconut sweet rice dessert.    The Thailand sweet rice looks like a normal 'long grain' rice.    It does not have the same appearance of  large 'white' endosperm part  like the regular sweet rice.    I was bit hesitant to use it.    I pressed on, anyways.    However, I decided to use the Risotto method to cook the rice, so I can see the progress of its 'stickiness' or the 'gluten' forming as they cook.    I also found this carton of Silk's PureCoconut at the Raley's organic food section.    I thought, "how convenient"... likely fresher than the 'canned' version of the coconut milk.    I drank it, and tasted quite good.    But feel 'fattening' - psychological or what?  I don't know.    I feel like I've gained 2 lbs after a glass of it.
  Irregardless, in a saucepan I sauted the washed sweet rice that has been soaked for an hour and drained well and pat dried = 3 C in 3 TB of butter.    After a minute or so, I started to add the coconut milk  1/4 to 1/3 cup at a time.    Add a cube of frozen Pandan juice just enough to give that Pandan flavor.      Stirring continuously.    As the liquid is absorbed by the rice, I added more.    Repeated this till some of the rice are 75% cooked/softened.    Then, stirred in 2/3 cup of water, added golden raisins, stirred, cover the saucepan with lid.    Cooked in low heat until done - about 7 min. (* time may vary with your type of stove.)
Remove from the heat.  Set Aside Covered.    Cut a firm mango - I like to use firm large green mango - dice it and mixed into the rice.  Cover and let it sit for a moment.    Serve.

 The next day, I took it to work as my lunch.    Reheated it a bit in the microwave, and ... it was a very filling lunch.

Trois Fruits Tatin - A.P.P.

I love making Tatin. I find it easier than making the regular pies. To make the best use of the final summer fruit crops from the garden --plum, Asian pears, and Fuji apple . All from my mother's garden that my brother tended. He loves to grow all sorts of fruits and vegetables and share with the family. I decided to combine all three into one tatin. I call it A.P.P. Tatin (Apple, Pear, and Plum) or Trois Fruits Tatin. It turned out that they complimented each other in the flavors and textures, and it was aromatically magical. To make this wonderful tatin, you need your homemade Puff Pastry dough, of course.