11 July 2014

Tangzhong Milk Bread

Ahoy, bread-making time! This month I've been making a lot of bread. I attempted to make the Asian milk bread with tangzhong, and it turned out super duper fluffy! This will probably be the go-to recipe for future potlucks and parties. It can be found here. I am now embarrassed with about 90% of the bread I've made in the past that I've shared with people.

In other news, I've become irritated with recipe posts in which there are a ton of pictures of the food and not the process. Pictures of the dough, consistency of dough, size of pan, etc. are fine and dandy, but numerous glossy pictures of the finished product, from various angles, have become irksome. There's something annoying about having to scroll an entire page through pretty but useless photos before discovering a recipe, and then scrolling another page to find the oven temperature and baking time. Alas, what to do about all my previous blog posts in which I posted such images?! Rest assured future images will be more wisely chosen.

My Notes
  • I've made this recipe three times so far, each time with alterations because ... well, that's what I do, with limited ingredients.
  • Tangzhong - milk and flour as specified! I added some cinnamon as the mixture was cooking. You want to get a gruel-type consistency. While it cools, a skin starts to form and the gruel starts drying up. So, it is wise to scoop everything into a blob that takes up minimum pot surface area, so later you don't have half your tangzhong dried onto the edges of the pan.
  • Ingredient substitutions, to use up stuff in the house:
    • About 5 cups of flour - Not really sure how much. It just has to feel like a dense marshmallow, and squishy
    • Soy powder instead of milk powder
    • 1/2 cup milk instead of half and half
    • 4 tbsp oil instead of butter
    • Yeast! 12 g active dry yeast, mixed with about 30 ml of above-body-temperature water (microwaved)
    • Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla, chopped dried apricot!
  • Method changes:
    • Mix all the liquid with two cups of flour prior to adding the yeast mixture
    • Continue adding 2 cups of flour and mix
    • Add the tangzhong and another cup of flour, mixing here and there
    • At this point, the dough should be kneaded by hand. Keep adding handfuls of flour and kneading until you get a pliable, almost-wet, squishy dough that feels like thick marshmallow or play-doh or what I imagine hot taffy to feel like. When you poke it gently, the dough should spring back
    • Let sit in hot sweltering summer heat until doubled in size. Dough should be pliable, dry enough to not stick to the bowl, but wet enough to stick slightly to your hands. It is nice and squishy
    • Make into rolls or logs or braids and let re-rise for 30 mins
    • Egg wash! I have this nifty egg crystal package that I got from the IFT Expo last summer. I never need more than half an egg for egg wash, and now, I can reconstitute exactly half an egg! Just add water! What a wonderful world. Outside of using the crystals for egg washes though, I don't think it is cost-effective for me, as I do have access to fresh eggs during most of my waking hours. However, these crystals non-perishable, non-crushable, and therefore super for camping, the military, etc. So, huzzah!
    • Pans. I like using smaller pans because it makes my buns look big. Hehe. Well, tall. I fit all of the dough into what looks like an 8x8 glass pan. Glass is a nice material for bread, as are leftover Chipotle burrito bowl lids (but I don't have anymore of those! No more free Chipotle!)
    • Rolls (say, 8 rolls) are better in a square pan like this because the middle doesn't end up slightly raw. In a loaf pan (which I will acquire someday!), a loaf would be pretty nice
After doubling in size

After second rise (30 minutes)

Bread with almost-the-same recipe but no tangzhong, egg crystals instead of eggs, and powdered milk and water instead of milk. Oh, and no sugar because I forgot. Note how flat it is :( There is sesame on it, though. It tasted much denser and dry and ... sort of like bland pizza dough. The dough while kneading was also way denser and felt more like a cookie dough than a bread dough (no spring! no squish!).

And finally, a note about the direction of this blog. In the past year, I've had so many food experiences, but I haven't had time to update! I've also started to become somewhat embarrassed at taking pictures at public gatherings/meals, given my point-and-shoot camera (while everyone else is using their smartphones-with-flash or their fancy DSLR camera with varying lenses). Finally, food blogging, or at least, posting pictures of food with captions and descriptions, has become so pedestrian. Everyone does it now. Instagram, hashtags, Facebook brunches with hundreds of Likes...
What differentiates my food life from everyone else's? Why read a 1000-word essay and cooking process when you can scroll through a delicious avocado burger? "I did it before it was cool" is neither a decent response nor constructive. I get a much larger readership if I post one HoverZoom-able picture on Facebook or Imgur, and much more instant gratification.
Yet at the same time, how many people can say that they maintain an entire food website!

Well, now that I've graduated, a few things I'd like to do include:
  1. Actually making my own website for general real-life use
  2. Somehow incorporating the blog into my website, or at least, re-designing the entire layout of the blog. An issue is that many previous posts have been terribly formatted, with Images and Words (hehe, Dream Theater) running amok. Oh, and numerous tags. Augh!
  3. Deciding whether the blog is word-focused or picture-focused. I'd like to think that I contribute more to the world via stories about cooking and culture, rather than pictures of food, but pictures are quite attention-grabbing. The site layout will therefore probably reflect this.
  4. Determining whether this blog will be a blog for all my thoughts, or merely food-centric. This also depends on the creation of my actual website.

03 January 2014

Green Tea Pocky

Well! This is an instance in which the depiction is actually the same size as the product! The green tea Pocky was alright. The coating was kind of thick and the sticks were very plain tasting. It was pricy for 12 meagre sticks but the packaging was impeccable. I have saved the beautiful box.

02 January 2014

Lasagne and Meatballs

Used up a bunch of leftovers to make lasagne and meatballs. While my tactics are questionable, the fridge is now organized and the food tastes fine.

The lasagne has a lot more cheese than necessary, and also includes leftover turkey pepperoni (my sister has now decided that she no longer wants them). The sauce includes homemade sauce, store-bought pasta sauce, a teaspoon of leftover vegetable cream cheese and a few tablespooons of leftover Greek yoghurt in lieu of butter. It is a very beefy four layers (1 lb of cow, pepperoni, cheese, tomato, spices, yum). I added an extra lasagne sheet, which is that crusty topping.

The 78 meatballs were made with:
 1+ lb of minced cow
4 slices of toast, crumbled by hand (my mum ate the first two slices I made. Oh no!)
>1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 chopped onion
4 cloves chopped garlic (enclose cloves between two bowls and shake vigorously to remove skin -- see here)
1 egg
1 tbsp oil
1/4 cup milk

and baked for 20 mins at 350F. The cheese oozes to the bottom, so you have to cook it on the bottom rack in order for the cheese to crust up when it falls onto the pan. Cooking on the top rack means the cheese melts but doesn't crust up anything and you end up with meatballs in puddles of fat.

Now, what to do with a pound of leftover shredded mozzarella?
Cheesy bread tomorrow ...maybe.

31 December 2013

Minado Sushi

I can't decide whether I like "traditional" sushi or newly invented crazy sushi. On most days, the plain salmon nigiri or salmon + avocado maki suffice to make me happy.

Yesterday and over Thanksgiving break, my family and I went to Minado and they have very bizarre sushi varieties. It was quite interesting.

 The above include a fried piece of Spam sushi (the one with the nori wrapped vertically around a fried rod), an oddly-sweet kiwi sauce roll (neon green sauce), a slightly off scallop sushi, a fried chicken sushi (between the scallop and seaweed salad ones), and some others that I don't remember. I recall there being some bell peppers in some of the sushis, and one of them was avocado, salmon, and Washington apple. I initially couldn't figure out what the apple was, and guessed melon. Funny how when a cube of food is put out of context, it is difficult to pinpoint what it is. The Spam one was just bizarre and the kiwi sauce was bad (but my brother enjoyed it).

This was from Thanksgiving. One of the rolls  (the one with the leafy stuff) was the Texas roll and it had a chunk of cooked cow. I don't recall what the other rolls included. Their spicy mayo sucks. Too much mayo and not enough sriracha.

Overall, it was quite fun trying out all these bizarre and novel rolls.

29 December 2013

Interview Travelling (Seattle WA, Madison WI, San Jose CA)

This semester was crazy because I was interviewing for a job, which involved quite some travelling. In this haze, I somehow managed to visit a whole handful of airports and hotels. The places documented here include Seattle, Madison, and the Bay Area.

I had a nice breakfast at the hotel. I know that it's not the fanciest but it beats most of the breakfasts and lunches I've had all semester (wow, I sure have been neglecting my ... life). I mean, hot food! More than one item in my sandwich!

I went to downtown Seattle after my interview and got some pumpkin and coconut gelato at Gelatiamo. I didn't particularly enjoy the pumpkin one because it felt too heavy. I got to sample the rice gelato, which was delicious (but I wasn't in the mood for it). They had all these beautiful baked desserts but I really wasn't in the mood. I languidly walked around downtown chomping on gelato, checking out people going to dress-up/Halloween parties. 


I went to dinner at The Crab Pot with a friend I hadn't seen in almost exactly 7 years.  The Crab Pot is famous for, well, the crab pot.

The bread was really dense and hard to chew (or I was just tired) and the entire place was happy and rowdy. We were given mallets and cutting boards! Bibs! I did not wear the bib because it just felt over the top. The food arrived in a giant bucket and was poured onto the table. Cleanup was therefore very easy. What a feast! I really enjoyed the corn, mussels, clams, and sausage. There was a lot of overcooked shrimp, but the crab was good. Everyone was super nice and I found the place unique. I would definitely go there every time I visit Seattle in the future.

The SeaTac airport has the best restaurant ever - Anthony's Fish Bar!! This place made me so happy! I got delicious clam chowder and mediocre Alaskan rockfish taco with mango (awkwardly sweet and fishy, while also savoury).

 Cold rockfish taco on the plane, while attempting to study.

An airport store had quite the selection of candy (blurry due to my phone camera).

I had a layover in Minnesota, where I bought some candy corn gummies (which tasted like generic gummies) and a "Montana bar", which was actually just a oaty bar covered with chocolate and coconut.

Madison, Wisconsin
At the layover in Cincinnati, I got a turkey club from the Wolfgang Puck restaurant/bar. I find it humourous that Wolfgang Puck's name is being used in restaurants at airports, since I associate airport restaurants with... well, solely Burger King or restaurants along those lines.
The sandwich was ok.

I had a super fancy breakfast at the Concourse Hotel on the morning of the interview, but I was too nervous to enjoy it. I had an amazing meal during my interview!

Bay Area
My first flight got delayed so I had some time to check out the crochet cakes in display cases at the Philadelphia Airport. They are really nice and I think I would make some when I have time.

In N Out Burgers!! Whoo! Our cab driver was really nice and we made a pit stop here (latent dream come true!) and I wanted to buy everything. I got a chocolate shake that I had to chug down because I forgot that I wasn't allowed to take this through airport security (I had made the same mistake in Seattle where I bought some coffee right before entering security).

The burger, fries, and In N Out sauce packets did make it through security! Huzzah! I got to eat them both cold while waiting for my flight. At that point, I wasn't even hungry. The burger was fantastic.
 The animal fries were not that good. They were really soggy, possibly due to it sitting in a paper bag for half an hour, but I was not impressed.

I had a layover in Phoenix, where I found the presence of "Icelandic water" quite funny. The airport was completely packed with people, even though it was one in the morning. I was tempted to get a pumpkin shake but at that point I just felt exhausted and thirsty. Deflated would be a good word, and the only thing I wanted was to  sleep horizontally, undisturbed for 15 hours.