Monday, January 26, 2015

Pinwheel Cookies

What's a better way to get inspired than looking through cookbooks and spotting beautifully photographs of cookies, pies, cakes, and other sweets. I saw William Sonoma's pinwheel cookies and thought the cookies were too pretty to eat. Brek asked me to bake a few, but I told him it looked time consuming.

While I was making lemon cookies and cream filled chocolate cookies, I discovered how easy the dough was for me to handle. Putting on a mad scientist hat, I decided to play with the two batters. The whole process was a bit time consuming because... well, I was making two batters: chocolate and vanilla. But with practice, it was maybe extra minutes to get these two batters mixed. Not bad really. Plus, the cookies came out so beautiful and tasty too. Crunchy on the edges and soft in the center.

After Brek saw the pinwheel cookies and devoured a few, he challenged me to bake some checkerboard cookies. Consider it done... future blog post, of course.

An after thought... I was editing the photographs of the pinwheel cookies and noticed that the cookies were in a lower case "e" shape. Thinking of my daughter Emily.

Pinwheel Cookies
makes 12

1 large egg
8 Tablespoons (4 oz) palm shortening
1 cup (7.4 oz) light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the vanilla batter:
1 cup (4.2 oz) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream tartar

For the chocolate batter:
1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons (3.6 oz) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (0.7 oz) cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream tartar
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, shortening, sugar, and vanilla extract.
  2. Divide the egg mixture equally into two separate bowls.
  3. To make vanilla batter, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and cream tartar in a small bowl.
  4. Add the flour mixture into one of the egg mixtures.
  5. Using a hand mixture, mix until the vanilla batter is creamy and has a light brown color.
  6. To make the chocolate batter, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and cream tartar in a small bowl.
  7. Add the chocolate flour mixture into the other egg mixtures.
  8. Using a hand mixture, mix the batter until creamy and appears dark chocolate.
  9. Working with a vanilla mixture first, place the dough onto a lightly flour nonstick matt or parchment paper.
  10. Roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thick and 5-6 inch by 9-10 inch. Set it aside.
  11. Repeat the same process for the chocolate batter.
  12. Carefully, turn the chocolate dough on top of the vanilla dough, making sure that the dough line up.
  13. With a long side facing you, roll dough up until a log is formed.
  14. Slice the cookie dough log into 1/2 inch thick.
  15. Freeze the cookie dough for at least 30 minutes. TIP: Keep the cookie dough in the freezer for up to six months. Bake as directed without thawing.
  16. When ready to bake, preheated the oven to 350F degree.
  17. Place the cookie dough, spiral side up, a few inches apart.
  18. Bake in a preheated oven for exactly 10 minutes.
  19. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Enjoy!!!
STORING: Keep the pinwheel cookies in an air tight container at a room temperature for up to 3 days.

Allergy Info: These pinwheel cookies are free from or can be made without dairy, corn, legumes (soy), nuts, or fish.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Palmiers (dairy-free quick puff pastry)

Yup, as of this writing, I haven't been able to find a clean puff pastry. Even the well-known brand actually has high fructose corn syrup. I did find one brand that is pretty cleaned at Whole Foods, but for ten dollars??? No thanks!!! Since we are avoiding dairy, I had to come up with my own version.

You know, puff pastry is basically all-purpose flour mix in with cold butter and ice water. When bake in high heat, the layers of dough puff up and becomes very flakey. When making anything dairy free, I substitute butter with coconut oil or palm shortening.

What can I do with puff pastry? Tons!!! I've baked palmiers, pop tarts, hand pies, and I'm pretty sure I have yet to discover what other something sweeter I can come up with.

Dairy-Free Quick Puff Pastry
makes about half pounds
adapted from William Sonoma's quick puff pastry

1/4 cup (2 oz) ice water
1 cup (4 oz) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup (3 oz) coconut oil, soft at room temperature, or palm shortening
  1. Fill a cup with ice then add water. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour and salt.
  3. Mix in the coconut oil or palm shortening to the flour with your fingers.
  4. Crumble the oil or shortening into pebble size.
  5. Add one tablespoon of ice water at a time.
  6. Using your fingers, continue to mix the flour mixture until it comes together into a dough ball.
  7. Knead the dough until it comes together to a ball.
  8. Follow the instruction on the recipe of your choice.
NOTE: My dairy-free quick puff pastry dough is ready for you to make something sweeter or savory right away. The dough then need to be in the freezer for at least 30 minutes before baking. This process will firm up the coconut oil or palm shortening. When baking in high heat, the oil will melt slowly, creating that flaky curst.

Give this palmiers recipe a try. They are super easy to make.

Palmiers (a.k.a. Elephant Ears)
makes 24 minis

1 quick puff pastry dough
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  1. Place a nonstick matt or parchment paper on a baking sheet. Set aside.
  2. On a nonstick matt or a parchment paper, roll the puff pastry into 1/4 inch thick and rectangular shape.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar and cinnamon.
  4. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar on the rolled out puff pastry dough.
  5. Roll the longest side of the dough tightly toward the center of the dough.
  6. Turn the dough around and repeat on the other side until they both meet in the center.
  7. With a sharp knife, slice the dough into 1/2-inch thick for minies or 1-inch thick for bigger size palmiers.
  8. Place the palmiers on to the prepared baking sheet.
  9. Freeze the dough for at least 30 minutes. NOTE: At this point, keep the unbaked palmiers in the freezable container or a plastic bag for future baking.
  10. When ready, preheat the oven at 375F degree.
  11. Place the unbaked palmiers cut side up and make sure they are about an inch apart.
  12. Bake the palmiers for 20 minutes.
  13. Flip the palmiers over and lower the temperature to 320F degree.
  14. Bake for another 10-15 minutes. The palmiers should look golden brown.
  15. Set the palmiers on the baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to a wiring rack to cool completely. When the palmiers cool, they have crispy texture.
NOTE: During the summer, the coconut oil might be a bit soft to work with. Place the coconut oil in a small bowl and put it in the fridge. Check every minute until the coconut oil has a soft but not hard texture. Palm shortening doesn't liquefied. I definitely prefer palm shortening for the puff pastry.

STORING: Keep the palmiers in an air tight container for up the 3 days.

Allergy Info: This quick puff pastry recipe is free from or can be made without dairy, egg, corn, legumes (soy), nuts (not coconut or palm), and fish. If you can have dairy, I highly recommend William Sonoma's original puff pastry recipe. I believe Kerrygold unsalted butter is corn free, but do your research on this product to be sure it is 100% safe for your diet.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Udon Chicken Noodle Soup

When my aunts came for a week of visit two months ago, I was picking their brains about Asian cooking. Most of the time, my Asian meals are really plain... something kids friendly. When my aunts cooked us the Vietnamese noodle soup (or Pho), I was super impressed with the flavor. Then Na Lek told me that I can even add udon noodles to make it into a thick noodle soup. Then it darned on me that the thick soup was my favorite breakfast when I was young. Yes, I actually ate soup for breakfast.

During the coldest week in the Autumn, I decided to test the udon noodle soup. I read many recipes to check and see the timing of cooking chicken thighs. After that, I tested the recipe by simply starting with the chicken broth.

I cooked the udon noodles before but not this way. I also made La Naa (a Thai noodle dish) many times before, so I adapted the same techniques. When I served my kids the soup, their reaction was "I can eat this every day." YES!!! But I decided to tweak the recipe to add more proteins. Instead of using tapioca starch, I added egg yolks. The soup came out very creamy and thick, perfect for wintery day.

NOTE: When buying fresh, frozen, or dried udon noodles, look for the ones that are made with either wheat or gluten free flour with water and salt. There shouldn't really be other ingredients added. Some udon noodles don't even have salt added which is a big plus if you are cutting down on sodium.

Udon Chicken Noodle Soup
serve 4-6

6 cups water
3 pieces of chicken thighs (skin and bones in)
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
4-6 serving of udon noodles
3 Tablespoon tapioca starch or 2-3 egg yolks
Fish sauce to taste
Garnish: fried eggs, chopped cilantro, chopped spring onions, fried garlic, fried peppers or hot sauce
  1.  In a large pot, bring water to a boil.
  2. Add chicken thighs, salt, black pepper, and ginger.
  3. Bring the water to a boil then simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Take out about 1/2 cup of the broth and set aside the chicken thighs.
  5. Add the udon noodles and cook them according to the direction on the package.
    NOTE: Thaw the noodles in the boiling broth. After the noodles are cooked, cut them into an inch long. If the noodles are fresh or dry, cut or break them into an inch long before adding them into the broth.
  6. While the noodles are cooking, shred the chicken thighs, discarding the skins and bones.
  7. Follow these instructions if using tapioca starch.
    a. Whisk the tapioca into the reserved cool broth. Set aside.
    b. Once the noodles are cooked, add the tapioca broth into the boiling soup.
    c. Proceed to Step 9.
  8. Follow these instructions if using egg yolks.
    a. Place the egg yolks in a small bowl and whisk them. Set aside.
    b. Once the noodles are cooked, slowly add the hot broth into the egg yolks while whisking. NOTE: This technique is called tempering the egg yolks. The egg yolks are cooked slowly and become creamy and not scrambled.
    c. Add the egg yolk broth into the boiling soup.
    d. Proceed to Step 9.
  9. Place the shredded chickens back into the broth.
  10. Bring the broth into a gentle boil. Then turn off the heat.
  11. Add fish sauce to taste.
  12. Spoon the soup into a single serving bowl. Garnish if desired. Enjoy!!!
STORING: Keep the udon chicken noodle soup in a container in a fridge for up to 3 days. Warm the soup in a microwave or on a stove top. If the soup is too thick, add a little bit of chicken broth or water to dilute.

Allergy Info: This udon chicken noodle soup is free from or can be made without dairy, corn, legumes (soy), and nuts. If you are allergic to fish, omit the fish sauce and add sea salt instead. For gluten free diet, be sure to use gluten free noodles. If you are allergic to eggs, thicken the soup with tapioca flour instead of egg yolks.

Monday, January 5, 2015

2015 New Year's Resolution

making snow-people cake toppers
Why is it that I'm always running out of time when I try to get things done around the house. So when do I have time to blog? Well, with so many things going on in my life, food blogging is the only way I can keep track of what yumminess I've made and my kids approve of. It is actually a good way for me to organize all of my recipes.

With that said, you can check out a list of All Recipes here. I'll keep this page up to date as I add more recipes in the future.

You know that phrase "where's all the time go?" For me, I'd said it nearly every day. So last year, I promised myself to eat more veggies. That I did!!!

I've been thinking in November... just a few weeks before Thanksgiving, regarding my 2015 new year resolution. I've continued to homeschool my kids, cooking and baking from scratch, plus doing the everyday chores. What on earth do I have time to do through out this year? Then it darn on me.

I miss having my kids in the kitchen with me. Last year, I always sent them upstairs to play while I worked on our breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon snack, or dinner. But this year, I want them in the kitchen, cooking, baking, and testing recipes with me.

So for my 2015 New Year's resolution, I'd like to teach a cooking class... to my kids.

Brek is already 12 years old. Since he luvs to cook and bake, I want to teach him this life skill, cooking for himself. I want him to become the independent man who can whip up a dinner or a dessert. Camden also luvs to be in the kitchen so getting him involve in baking is a good start.  Plus, he offers to do dishes for me. Better take advantage of that offer now, right?

So come back and visit my blog in the future to see what my kids and I will be cooking up. I see a lot of potentials from my kids... three mad scientists in the kitchen. Watch out, world!!!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

All Recipes

For over five years, I've modified and tested so many recipes to accommodate my kids' food sensitive issues. I started my food blog to organize my recipes and also to share the delectable sweets and savory dishes to my family and friends. So here are all of the recipes I've posted thus far.

Deep Fried - Savory                                                                                                                                
Deep Fried - Sweet                                                                                                                                  
Drinks and Frozen Treats                                                                                                                      
Essential - Basic                                                                                                                                       
Essential - Pantry                                                                                                                                    
Happy Birthdays                                                                                                                                     
Lunch or Dinner                                                                                                                                      
Savory - Chickens                                                                                                                                    
Savory - Eggs                                                                                                                                           
Savory - Pork                                                                                                                                           
Savory - Sea Food                                                                                                                                    
Savory - Sides                                                                                                                                           
Something Good For You                                                                                                                       
WXYZ... Good Read                                                                                                                               
Be sure to check back as I'll continue to add new recipes at least once a week. Until then, have yourself a something sweeter!!!