Vegan Pull-Apart Buns

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Like everyone else during this pandemic, I’ve been baking bread. After months of it, I’m becoming pretty confident in my bread baking and that’s a plus I’ll always take away with me. I’ve been tweaking recipes a lot and thinking about them more which made me realize how robotic I was at times, pre-pandemic. Everything was rush rush rush…on autopilot. I had stopped blogging for a few years and stopped really connecting to the process. I didn’t see that before, but looking back, I do now.

Full-time blogging isn’t in the cards, but when there’s something really worth sharing, I’m going to try to slow down and take the time to share it. I’m happy to share this one. Everyone in this house thinks these pull-apart buns are amazing. I might even say it’s one of Lon’s favorite breads now. They are super soft and fluffy, making them perfect as a dinner roll or to make breakfast sandwiches. My absolute favorite use for this bun though is for a pulled pork slider. (Ironic, given it being a vegan recipe.)

This is also a relatively quick bread recipe. It’s not one where you need to be home all day, making this is a keeper. Eventually we’ll all start leaving the house regularly again, right?!?

Vegan Pull-Apart Buns

~makes 16 small buns

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt (table salt if you don’t have)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons rapid rise yeast
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup vegan butter + extra for topping
  • 1/2 cup almond flour

Instructions-

  1. Mix 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour with sugar, salt, and yeast in a large bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a microwave safe bowl, combine almond milk, water, and vegan butter. Microwave until just warm (110-120 degrees F).
  3. Whisk the almond milk mixture into the flour mixture and beat for 2 minutes. Scrape down sides if necessary.
  4. Add 1/2 cup of flour and beat for another 2 minutes.
  5. Mix the remaining flour and almond flour in with a wooden spoon. When all of the flour/almond flour has been incorporated, knead until it’s a smooth elastic dough, about 7-10 minutes. You can dust your hands and bowl with extra flour if it’s too sticky. Cover with a kitchen towel and rest for 10 minutes.
  6. On a lightly floured cutting board, divide the dough into 16 pieces. Roll each into a ball and place in a 9×13 baking pan. Cover with plastic wrap and rest in a warm place until doubled in size, about 30 – 45 minutes
  1. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. When ready, brush some melted vegan butter on the tops and bake until golden and fluffy, about 18 – 20 minutes. (Please excuse the annoying news in the background of the video.)

posted by jessica at 04:50 PM

Chinese Cucumber Salad (with any type of cucumber)

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

I posted a Taiwanese Cucumber Salad recipe 10 years ago! It is one of my most loved dishes, meaning my kids love it, Lon loves it, all my guests love it. It’s such a great side dish that I use it very, very often and I get requests for the recipe every time.

During the pandemic, I started looking at my recipes in a new way. I realized that the old recipe might deter some from trying it because the traditional method works best with Taiwanese cucumbers or Persian Cucumbers. They are slim, thin-skinned, and seedless cucumbers. But, those cucumbers are hard to find and not necessarily at everyone’s local supermarket. They weren’t available to me for the last several months either. So, I’ve re-written this recipe to work for standard conventional cucumbers or English Hothouse cucumbers. If the skin is thick, use this method, which starts with peeling the cucumbers. If you have a thin-skinned, seedless cucumber, use the old method.

~made with conventional cucumbers~

Just so you know, in actuality, I’ve been using this method for years because sometimes I just happen to have standard conventional cucumbers in the fridge and that’s what I use. It just never occurred to me to re-write the recipe but the pandemic has made me more aware of the value of versatility in a recipe.

~Spicy version~

Chinese Cucumber Salad

Ingredients –

  • 2 large cucumbers (around 2 lbs)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • chili oil to taste (optional)

Instructions –

  1. Peel the cucumbers. Slice in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Discard peels and seeds.
  2. Slice into 1/4″ thick pieces and place in a storage container (that has a lid).
  3. Sprinkle with sugar and salt. Cover tightly and shake the container to coat the cucumbers in sugar and salt. Put it in the fridge for at least 2 hours (up to the day before you want to eat it).
  4. Drain the cucumbers (these will let out quite a bit of water). Add vinegar and sesame oil. Cover tightly and shake again. Place it back in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (up to a few hours).
  5. When you’re ready to serve, add garlic. Drizzle chili oil if you want it to be spicy. Cover and give it a good shake. Serve.
  6. The cucumbers will be most refreshing the first day but left-overs can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
~made with very large kirbies~
posted by jessica at 09:41 AM

Bean & Barley Congee

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Uncertainty.

Is that the most accurate way to describe these times? I can’t even make up my mind on a day to day basis how to feel, how to proceed, and what my priorities are. It’s tough because I’m the kind of person that likes to have a plan. On top of that, I’ve been feeling guilty…about a month into the Covid shutdown, I posted that I was thinking about blogging again, after all these years. Yet, almost 3 months later, I’ve left you hanging. I am super sorry.

Every time I start working on a recipe, I stop and wonder if I should be spending my time figuring out how to homeschool or partially homeschool my kids this fall. Should I be working on learning how to grow more of our food? Should I be looking for more freezers and stocking up more? Shouldn’t I be trying to volunteer more? When do I find time to read up on all the current political issues more? Should I just relax?

That’s my way of saying I’m kind of going in non-committal on this. I’m not adhering to a schedule or developing recipes based on requests like I did long ago. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I do know that I really want to document more of my mom’s recipes…for me and my kids, and my cousins who grew up eating my mom’s cooking. I do know that some of you appreciate and use these recipes and if anything, it makes me feel slightly better that I’m contributing something to someone in a positive way.

I really hope you are all hanging in there, figuring out what works for you and your family. In the meantime, stock up on dried goods like everything in this Bean & Barley Congee recipe: dried adzuki beans and mung beans, dried lotus seeds, and barley. This concept is a classic that many Chinese families make, each with their own twist and proportions. Some people add orange rind or dried dates. Some like it sweeter. Caya pours milk into hers. Make it your own! The Chinese also consider it a healthy food especially when using lotus seeds prized for anti-hypertensive properties in Chinese medecine. My kids happen to love this for breakfast so I usually make a big double batch and keep it in the fridge for quick and easy breakfasts that take zero amount of work on those mornings when I wake up too late.

Bean & Barley Congee

Ingredients –

  • 1/2 cup dried adzuki beans
  • 1/2 cup barley
  • 1/2 cup dried mung beans
  • 1/2 cup dried lotus seeds
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Instructions –

  1. Soak Adzuki beans for 5 hours or more.
  2. Drain adzuki beans and place in a large pot with barley. Add 8 cups of water. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook covered for 30 minutes. Add mung (green) beans and lotus seeds. Keep covered and cook for another 30 minutes. Add sugar and a pinch of salt. Stir to dissolve.
  3. You can serve hot, cold, or anywhere in between.

posted by jessica at 09:40 PM

The Quest for Asian Veggies

Saturday, May 9, 2020

When the stay at home order started, we were already pretty well stocked and we only needed fresh fruits and veggies so we just ordered on Fresh Direct. I really didn’t want to go to stores and more importantly, I did not want my parents to. Their age puts them at high risk. Eventually, we all started missing Asian produce and I was running out of sauces and dry goods. Fresh Direct occasionally has napa cabbage, shanghai bok choy, and daikon radish but not regularly. A couple of my friends were still hitting Asian supermarkets but eventually, a lot of them started closing. (I hear some of them will start re-opening.) Regardless, there seems to be a demand so I put together a list of on-line sites where you can order Asian goodies from. These sites only deliver to the NYC area (some only certain boroughs, some a little further). I’ve been mostly upstate so keep in mind that these are anecdotal notes from friends and family. Try them at your own risk.

If you know of another one to add to the list, let me know!

Asian-Veggies.com

Asian Veggies is still in soft opening mode, trying to get more pictures onto their website. They have decent quality and a good selection of veggies, some fruits, and some dry goods. They are a little pricey and quantities might be large, especially for fruit, i.e. 64 fuji apples in a box. There’s an $8 delivery fee. Orders place by 6pm are delivered next day (no Sundays)

DineMarket.com

Dine Market is a site that let’s you shop from three different suppliers. To make it less confusing, my SIL advises filtering for one supplier when you shop. She uses Valley View which has a $50 minimum. Prices are reasonable considering item quantities and free delivery. They are reliable and it’s easy to get delivery.

FreshGoGo.com

Fresh Go GO is kind of like Fresh Direct for Asian stuff but the website is not as good. They did exist before the pandemic so it is more of a website than most of the other ones. There’s a pretty large selection of fruits, vegetables, dry goods, prepared foods, and even masks and sake sets. The prices are reasonable and mostly good quality. No delivery fee but it’s very hard to get a time slot so my brother went to a pick-up point in Jersey City. Even so, this is my extended family’s favorite option because of the wide selection.

Konveny.com

I don’t know anyone who has tried this site yet but they’re centered around Japanese products. Free delivery for orders over $75

SAFG.us

SouthEast Asia Food Group is a wholesaler that is making home deliveries. You have to message them for a price sheet. There’s no pictured shopping site so it’s a bit hard to order. I know one person who made a home order and she did misunderstand some of what she ordered. However, the plus is that you can easily get a next day delivery slot. Some quantities are small and some are large and prices are good. The delivery fee and minimum seems so have changed so I don’t want to post the wrong info. Email them to ask.

posted by jessica at 05:35 PM

Quick – Pickled Broccoli Stems

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

broccoli stem salad

So, I heard that some people throw out the broccoli stems. What? You only want the florets so you just chuck the whole stem? Promise me you’ll never do that again! Broccoli stems are delicious and crunchy and so amazing pickled! My kids love Quick-Pickled Broccoli Stems!

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posted by jessica at 10:31 PM

Red Cooked Fish

Monday, November 24, 2014

At the risk of making this sound like a joke, Chinese people will “red cook” anything.  The thing is I’m serious. Whether it’s pork, beef, squid, tofu, or eggs, we can red cook it. On a basic level, that means cooking in a mix of soy sauce and a sweetener (sugar, rock candy, or honey). The recipes vary a little depending on what you are cooking. Sometimes you add ginger, garlic, scallions, orange peel, cilantro, chilies, or a combination of those things. While the ingredient list is so similar, many of these Red Cooked dishes come out tasting very different. (Try Red Cooked Pork Belly and Cuttlefish or Red Cooked Tee Pong.)  Right now, let’s talk Red Cooked Fish. It is a classic you’ll find in the home of most Chinese families. It’s also commonly sold at “real” Chinese restaurants. It’s a must know recipe!

Red Cooked Fish on grey

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posted by jessica at 12:07 AM

The Long Island City Restaurant Guide

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Long Island City Restaurant Guide was originally published on January 23, 2013 and it seemed high time we update it with the slew of new restaurants! Take special note of Crescent Grill, Il Falco, and Jora….Sadly, we’ve also noted the closings of Malu, Chimney Cake, Cranky’s, and Lhawan2. (A few updates were added 7/29/15 and 10/16/15)

We’ve been living in Long Island City for almost three years (almost five years by this 2nd publishing) now and we love it! The restaurant scene has really grown, although we could still use more. Naturally, whenever friends visit the area, they ask me for restaurant recommendations, as well as neighbors so I’ve been working on this blog post about Long Island City restaurants for a while now. There’s enough here to cover various tastes and still several more. Please bookmark this page. I’ll keep updating as I try all the restaurants in Long Island City! Here’s The Long Island City Restaurant Guide in alphabetical order.

Alobar

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posted by jessica at 10:53 AM

Dairy-Free Mexican Street Corn (Elotes)

Monday, August 18, 2014

While I went to culinary school and have worked in restaurants, Lon is self-taught. For the most part, it’s the one thing he looks to me for guidance with. Lon is a great home cook though and loves to do it when he has the time, which is not often these days between two kids and a demanding job he loves. Yet, every once in a while on one of those days that Lon cooks, he totally blows my socks off. He makes something that tastes amazing and/or is just an idea that works so well that I never thought of. This dairy-free version (Lon can’t have any dairy) of Mexican Street Corn or Elotes is one of those times! It was so good I had to document it and blog about it!

Dairy-Free Mexican Street Corn (Elotes) -Cover Pic

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posted by jessica at 09:39 AM

Squid with Ramps in Black Bean Sauce

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Ramps are in season and though they are not traditionally found in Chinese food, they make perfect sense in Chinese food. I think of ramps as sweeter, fatter, less pungent Chinese chives. I would bet you could successfully substitute ramps for any recipe that called for Chinese chives. Next, I want to do some dumplings with ramps!

Last week, I was in a rush to make dinner. I knew I had some fresh squid and ramps in the fridge and wanted to make something with Chinese flavors because Chinese food is definitely Caya’s favorite and she has really missed it while we were in Martha’s Vineyard. This is the dish that somehow made it to the table after two minutes of thought, Squid with Ramps in Black Bean Sauce. Caya and Lon loved it so much that a few days later, I made it again. Caya devoured it and so I made it again…

Squid with Ramps in Black Bean Sauce title pic

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posted by jessica at 10:06 PM

Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

For the last few months, my brain cells were being lost to lack-of-sleep so needless to say, having a newborn around is not one’s most creative time. Luckily, we have thousands of recipes to fall back on. I also look for new recipes to try, ones that take less time to make! Since Remi was born (he’s four-and-a-half months already!), this is the best recipe I’ve tried: Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings! Holy cow, are these delicious. Not surprisingly, it’s from the owner of the famous Thai restaurant, Pok Pok, in Portland. I adapted the recipe to suit my tastes and stuck with his super easy three ingredient marinade, just fish sauce, sugar, and garlic. It’s so simple, yet unbelievably good. It’s pure genius!

Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings title pic

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posted by jessica at 10:20 AM