My People's Okinawan Dangos

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Okinawan Dangos
Fried dough filled with memories and yum

Today is my family's annual Mochi Making Day! Most of the clan get together to make mochi - a pounded rice cake that is eaten on New Year's you good luck in the coming year, longevity and all sorts of good things (I'm hoping that I have good luck baking in 2008!) Photos of mochi making to come.

My mom grew up in Okinawa, Japan and they have a local dessert called the "Okinawan Dango" or Sata Andagi. She used to make them when my brother and I were young, but since we've all wised up to fried foods, I haven't seen them in years. This year, I decided to learn how to make them!

The recipe is very simple and the technique very easy. And the taste is full of yum. The dough is dense and cake-like, not like a regular American donut. You do not cover them with powdered sugar or any glaze. Just plain. Just yum. And best eaten hot out of the fryer. Often, you will see Dango Booths at local Japanese church/temple fairs...with a line out the door demanding them. Usually, they are sold three on a stick. (And you know I just love food on a stick.)

Getting fried up in the wok!

Some of them came out a little interesting looking. I think the one on the left looks like a chicken!

In October, my mom went back to Okinawa to visit her 86 year-old mom and siblings. She brought back some famous Okinawan black sugar. I broke up some pieces and added them to the batter. (Next time, I'll add larger pieces so you can see and taste them).

Here is the recipe:
Okinawan Dangos

Mix together in large bowl:
3 c flour
1 T baking powder
1 c sugar
1/2 t salt

Beat together in small bowl or measuring glass:
5 eggs
1/4 c milk
1 t vanilla

Mix the dry and wet batches together by hand (with a wooden spoon or spatula) until dough forms. Do not overmix.

Heat a wok or deep-fryer with vegetable or canola oil. Form dough into small balls with your hands or with an ice cream scoop/cookie dough disher before dropping into the oil. Fry until golden brown. Makes 36 dangos.
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Carrying My Chocolate Chip Muffins

Friday, December 28, 2007

Today is a new day. I thought I would try the muffin! I had some mini chocolate chips and wanted to use them up (leftover from the rugelach disaster…)

I jumped on the web this morning and found this recipe for Chocolate Chip Muffins.

I read the reviews and altered the recipe by using 1 cup of whole milk. Also, I placed ½ cup of the chips in the batter and used the remaining ¼ cup to place on top each cupcake. A quick mix...pop into the oven...and instant muffins!

I carried these to work in my AWESOME brand-new cupcake carrier that I received from Racheal and Lee for my birthday! Isn’t it totally cute? I love the color and it holds 18 cupcakes. The rings around the cupcakes are low and that is fantastic! You can very easily lift out your cupcake/muffin. Also, the other side is flat so you can carry around a 9 x 13 cake!

How versatile! How pretty! How great!

Thank you Racheal and Lee!!

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Flat Chocolate Bread

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Totally flat and not tasty Chocolate Bread
Batch #1 of 2

Batch #2 of 2. Again, flat as a board.
Note the photo from the cookbook in the back. Tall, Tall! Risen, Risen!

Coming off my rugelach disaster, I thought I would go back to cakes. I like cakes. Cakes have been good to me.

I decided to go back to the bible. No, not the Jesus bible, but the Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. She is the guru of cakes and I needed a guide.

Started out with some yummy ingredients...butter, CAKE flour, and a mixture of Dutch-processed cocoa, water, eggs and vanilla.

Okay. Actually, I am writing this entry while praying. (Praying to the both the Jesus Bible and the Cake Bible!) After work, I make the first batch of Chocolate Bread...and totally messed up. (No shock there!)

I used all-purpose flour instead of cake flour. The cake ended up totally flat!!

So, right now, a second batch of Chocolate Bread is in the oven. However, on both of them, I'm not sure things are going to turn out like the really pretty photo in the book. The recipe says the batter should fill the pan up to 1/2" of the top. But I ended up (on both batches) with batter that left 2" remaining in the pan.

Beep. Beep. Timer's up.


The second batch came out of the oven. Flat as my chest.
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Train Wreck Rugelach

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The disaster that is my Rugelach

My co-worker and I were talking about that complete train wreck of a "reality" show Hey Paula this afternoon.

Little did I know I would live that show in my kitchen. (Minus the mind-altering, mind-numbing pharmaceuticals that Paula might be taking...)

I tried to make the popular dessert Rugelach from the Martha Stewart Baking Handbook (page 85).

Like most absolute disasters and fiascos, things started out fine. Got me some fine ingredients: butter, cream cheese, walnuts, cute itsy bitsy mini chocolate chips, golden raisins, and some yummy apricot jelly.

The dough was made and set to chill out for an hour. Then you roll it out, brush some melted apricot jam on the surface, followed by a cool mix of finely ground walnuts and those totally adorable mini-chocolate chips.

Then tragedy strikes in so many ways.

I cut the little guys with a pizza cutter into 16 pieces (apparently, the Eastern Europeans Jews that brought over this dessert stopped in Italy for the pizza cutter). Then I rolled them I thought they wanted to be rolled. But apparently I failed.

I think I didn't roll them tight enough or cut them right. Or the batter was all wrong. Whatever the case, I had a hard time falling asleep...

I kept thinking a group of elderly Eastern European grandmothers would come over to my house (carrying big rolling pins in their hands), and because I so completely messed up their cookie, they would completely take back the delicious dessert they brought to this country. Yes, take it away from the counters at Canter's and everything.

Luckily, my friend Jami said, "on behalf of all the ashkenazi jews, i hereby give u license to make whatever stuff u want." Great. I'll try again later!

Before baking and coming out of the oven looking like rugelach that were run over by a truck...
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Raspberry Jam Cookies

Friday, December 21, 2007

My dear friend Agnes gave me a new cookbook for my birthday: The Taste of Home Baking Book. It is ring-bound so it is easy to pull out a recipe.

I made the Split-Second Cookies (you can find the recipe online here) filled with seedless raspberry jam. They were really simple to make! Also, because you only need to form 4 logs, they were totally quick!

Wishing you a very joyous and yummy holiday season!!!

No, not a brain! I'm dividing the dough into 4 equal parts to roll into logs that are then filled with jam.

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Mrs. Honey Bear

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I'm not baking.

I'm sick.

Me and Mr. Honey Bear have started a very special relationship.

Emergen-C is my new bubbly.

The back of my throat has an indentation from multiple Riiiiiiiiiicola drops.

Zicam medicated q-tips are lodged in my nose.

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San Francisco Birthday Trip

Sunday, December 9, 2007

I had a great birthday in SF! Yummy Burmese food, French pastries, Yuppie pancakes, and Indian food with Brian, Pam and Sumi!

I bought myself a purple lipstick case (with mirror) on Clement Street (99 cents! nothing but the best for The Food Librarian! :) and a great purple wool hat in Berkeley.

I went to the Conservatory of Flowers located in Golden Gate Park this morning before my flight home. This was my first visit and it was beautiful!

Located near my friend's house, I have passed the Conservatory of Flowers many times and never entered. You should definitely go on your next visit!

The Conservatory has several different rooms highlighting various plant environments - this one is the aquatic room. You can see the reflection of the windows on the water lilies.

I'm in love with the orchid. So beautiful and delicate.

I Heart San Francisco
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It's My Birthday Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Friday, December 7, 2007

December 7th!
My birthday!

Whoo hoo!

37 years ago, my very pregnant mother woke up, looked at the calendar, saw that it was Pearl Harbor Day, looked at her tummy and said to me, "No, not today." But I was probably sleeping and missed that message.

Gotta be quick. I'm heading to LAX to catch a plane to SF for my birthday! Yippee!

Made these Martha Stewart Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. Prepared the dough last night...baked this morning. (Also made some more Snickerdoodles...need to rest that recipe - I've made it 3 times in the last two weeks!)

Yesterday is was Jamillah's birthday! Next week is Diane's and Gary's!

My co-workers got me my favorite cake! The Paradise cake from King's Hawaiian Bakery in Torrance. It is so light and delicious. I have GOT to learn how to make this!
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Chicago/San Diego Mrs. S Noodle Kugel

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Noodle Kugel

Happy Hanukkah! I decided to start those eight crazy nights with a Noodle Kugel. This recipe is from Mrs. S of San Diego. The S Family is originally from Chicago so that makes this a Chicago/San Diego family recipe. (Mrs. S and I made the Chocolate Corks earlier in the year). A couple years ago, Mrs. S showed me how to make kugel and Matzo ball soup! Yum!

You can make Kugels with all types of ingredients, including apples and raisins. This one is all dairy, all the time.

About to go into the oven! The topping is delightful and gives the kugel a wonderful crunch!

"Mrs. S" Special Noodle Kugel Recipe
8 oz. medium noodles [I used a 12 oz. bag]
6 eggs
1 lb. (16 oz.) carton cottage cheese,,small curd
3 oz. small cream cheese [FYI: A regular brick is 8 oz.]
1/2 pint = 1 cup = approx. 8 oz. container sour cream
1/4 lb. = 1 stick butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Handful of cornflake crumbs to thicken the noodle-egg mixture a bit

Cook and drain noodles. Beat eggs well, add rest of the ingredients and beat well. By hand, mix in the drained noodles.

Mix together:
1 cup corn flake crumbs
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Grease a 9 x 13 pan well and add mixture. Sprinkle topping on. Bake 1 1/2 hours at 350 degrees, uncovered.
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Chocolate Cream Cheese Minty Refrigerator Dipped Cookies

Monday, December 3, 2007

On Sunday, it was something akin to Domestic Goddess Day. I did a ton of laundry, made a zillion cookies (used about 8 sticks of butter and a farm-full of eggs), and my friend Gary put away his gun (he's a cop) and helped put up Christmas lights. Note to self for next year: Plug in the lights to test them BEFORE using three ladders and an adapted fishing pole device to put up the lights...or you have to take them down and start over...

Anyway, I made some cookies to mail to Minnesota and Georgia. They included the Snickerdoodles, Chocolate Ginger Cookies, and Triple Chocolate Brownies. I used Brian's book to try the Chocolate Cream Cheese Refrigerator Cookies (page 75)... making it with mint instead of vanilla.

Dude, I need to work on my "roll dough into a log and refrigerate" technique! That turned out all crazy and ended up with more of a natural, Redwoods log in Yosemite (remember that, Yuko?) rather than a manufactured, uniform Duraflame log.

I thought these cookies were lacking so I melted some white chocolate and dipped the cookies. Hum, didn't really save them so they are going into the "no" category (although everyone ate them at work!) And, Sunshine and Diane M, because of the chocolate, I didn't mail these.

Whoo Hoo! It's now 4 days til my birthday! And 1 day from Helen's & Rose's Birthday! Decemberists rock! :)

Making Snickerdoodles!
I roll out all the little balls and then roll them in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. The result? One word:
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One Week Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Friday, November 30, 2007

Yippee! It's Friday. It's pay day. And it's one week til my birthday!

It rained today.
Yes, it rained all day.

I tried the Everyday Food issue again and made the Cream Cheese Pound Cake. At first, I was afraid it would fall flat because there is no baking powder or soda. But you beat the butter, cream cheese and sugar for a long time and add 3 eggs.

The crumb was very nice and you can taste a light hint of cream cheese. Try it!

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Gingerbread Snacking Cake

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Gingerbread dusted with powdered sugar. Seriously, everything is prettier with powdered sugar. I think I'm going to dust myself.

Yippee! It is 8 days before my birthday today! I'm soooo into my birthday! Not for the gifts, but for the "special-dayness" of it. I'm heading up to San Francisco on my b-day to celebrate and, of course, eat lots of desserts and cake!

Anyway, this morning (8 days before my birthday), I made Gingerbread Snacking Cake from the Martha Stewart website.

It uses 1 cup of unsulphured molasses, dark brown sugar, lots of spices and one whole tablespoon of grated ginger. Serious yummy ingredients.

The Southern California version - no dusting of snow! :) However, it is getting SUPER COLD here (don't laugh Sunshine, remember you used to live here too). It is in the 40s and 50s at night!!!
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Snickerdoodle Cookies!

Snickerdoodle cookies rock!

They have a cool name. (According to Baking Illustrated, the name comes from the German word for "crinkly noodle.")
They have lots of butter.
They are coated in cinnamon and sugar. Don't you want to be coated in sugar and cinnamon?! (No, not that way, but like a cinnamon-sugar toast sweetness kinda way)

These are from Baking Illustrated (page 430) and they were quite easy to make. America's Test Kitchen, of course, tested a zillion things and found the secret is the cream of tartar, baking soda, and the crazy ratio of butter to shortening.

Last weekend I went to Surfas and picked up some more 1/2 sheet pans. Thank goodness! Originally, I had two pans and love them. But when you are making 4 dozen have to cool them off between batches, yada yada. So, I picked up more (only $6 each) and making cookies is a breeze. Don't forget to get pre-cut 1/2 sheet pan parchment paper too - the best stuff in the world!

I brought these into work today and they flew out the door!

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Eggs! Eggs! Eggs! & Pears

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Okay, let me be quick. Project Runway is starting in 90 minutes, I don't have Tivo or a DVR, and I'm just finishing up some snickerdoodle cookies.

This morning, I tried to make the Pear Custard Pie from that same Everyday Food holiday issue. Um, I'm not feeling it with this issue...I made three things - and two of them met with Mr. Trashcan.

This was really easy to make - cut pears and put the custard ingredients (including three eggs) in the blender! But the custard was overpoweringly eggie (or is it 'eggy')? I'm not the biggest fan of the egg-related dessert so I thought my palate was oversensitive. I had Jessica try it at work...and the YA Librarian says it tastes like an egg custard topped with baked pears. Exactly what I was not going for.

Anyway, this guy met the library's Mr. Trashcan!

Gotta go, Project Runway in almost on!!! By the way, my "fantasy" team has me 7 points. I think I'm in 2500th place... (see badge on right hand side)

P.S. There is a Foodie Blogroll on the right hand side. If you want to browse other blogs, check it out!
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Chocolate Peppermint Cake

Made this Chocolate Peppermint Cake that is on the cover of the Everyday Food Holiday Baking issue. Everyday Food is published by the folks at Martha Stewart and they have a show on PBS with a lot of didactic moments, and hella bad lighting. I always wonder, can't they get some of the crew from Martha's show? (To Yuko: It is just like NHK!)

This "cake" actually turned into an 8" round brownie. It was very dense! I didn't know I was making a flourless chocolate cake (with 1 cup of flour). It only had 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder in it.

Anyway, it weighed almost 2 pounds (used my trusty scale to determine that!!)

The peppermint ganache was yumtastic though and saved the day. Next time, I think I would make a regular chocolate cake and cover it with this ganache.

P.S. Happy Birthday today to Dave - my undergrad UCLA buddy from the very first day of school way, way back in time!! Happy Birthday yesterday to Librarian Brian! AND, Countdown to my birthday and those of my fellow Decemberists (Helen, Rose, Diane, Jami, Jamillah, Gary!)!!

I shaved some white chocolate to top this cake. Next time, crushed candy canes!
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Pay de Lima con Facial

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Oh dear. The post-turkey, ham, steak, garlic mashed potatoes, killer 6-loaf bread stuffing, cranberries, gravy, fruit salad, rolls, and way too much chips and dip... after-Thanksgiving bloat-fest. Oh yes. We mustn't forget the apple pie. The scale. Broken.

It took me awhile to get back to the kitchen and the gym. I tried to make some chocolate chip & oatmeal cookies (yucko) and some cappuccino brownies (sadly awful). I thought I lost my baking mojo. Sigh.

So, last night I grabbed some limes and made Pay de Lima (Lime Pie) from the delightful book, Dona Tomas: Discovering Authentic Mexican Cooking.

The pie was tart! Face puckering tart. But not sour, just "filled with citrus." If you are someone who ate lemons as a child (and as an adult), this is the pie for you! And since I am, it was!

1 teaspoon of fresh lime zest makes this a zesty pie!

Someone asked if it was a Key Lime Pie. No, this is a "Limes from my Dad's backyard" pie.

I mashed up a sleeve of honey graham crackers to make this crust. I think the pieces should be smaller and regular graham crackers (not honey), but it turned out "rustic."

The filling was made with 4 eggs, hella sugar, 3/4 cup of lime juice, zesty zest, a stick of butter and 15 minutes of constant whisking over a double boiler. Yes, I got pie and a facial!
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