Bao, bau, baozi, mantou, bakpoa, paoare, siopao, or humbow; you probably know them best as Steamed Buns or Boa Buns. They’re those soft fluffy white pockets filled with a sweet or savory filling.
Baos or whatever you call them originated in Northern China where wheat instead of rice is widely grown. They’ve been around for hundreds of years. Legend has it that Baos originated during the Three Kingdom Period when a Chinese general needed to cross a raging river with his army. To ensure safe crossing the people on the other side of the river demanded that the general sever the head of 50 men; instead the general used large meat filled dough balls which satisfied the demand.
Meat filled bao buns have always been a favorite in the Philippines where they are called Siopao, they’re also popular in Hawaii where they’re known as Manapua. Both places have a large Chinese population who introduced this delicacy many years ago. In fact many countries with large Chinese communities have a version of this popular food. Recently their popularity has increased worldwide.
Baos can be shaped into balls, as they were in the legend, or they can be folded like taco shells. They can be filled with your favorite savory meats such as char siu or sweet roast pork, pork belly, and chicken curry; or they can be filled with sweets such as black bean paste, taro, or custard.
One of my favorite bao fillings is Korean Fried Chicken, crispy fried chicken bites dipped in a sweet and spicy sauce garnished with fresh chopped cilantro, sliced onions, and cucumbers.
Click here for the Korean Fried Chicken recipe!
Another favorite filling is Boneless Kalbi Short Ribs, thin slices of beef short ribs marinated in a sweet and salty sauce. Then grilled and garnished with fresh green onions and sesame seeds.
Click here for the Boneless Kalbi Short Ribs recipe!
But first things first, before you can fill steamed buns you must make them. To make homemade buns you will need a steamer, I use bamboo steamer baskets, but you can use whatever you have on hand. Other than that making steamed buns are pretty easy using ingredients that are readily available if you don’t already have them in your kitchen.
So let’s make bao buns, then you can fill them with just about anything you desire.
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Bao Buns – Steamed Buns
3 3/4 Cups flour
2 Tbs. Sugar
2 Tsp. Instant Yeast
3 Tbs. Milk
3/4 Warm water
3 Tbs. Butter – softened
1 Tbs. Olive Oil
Mix together flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in the bowl of your standing mixer or a large bowl if kneading by hand.
Place warm water and milk in a separate bowl, stir in butter until it melts.
Using the dough hook of your mixer gradually stir liquid into flour mixtures.
Knead for 10 minutes either in your mixer or by hand.
Turn dough into an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap or towel. Leave in a warm spot until dough doubles in size, about 2 hours.
Once dough has doubled in size turn out onto a floured surface. Gently knead dough for a couple of minutes then cut into 20 pieces which you will roll into balls.
Roll each ball with a rolling pin into an oval shape about 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″.
Place on parchment paper while you roll the rest of the balls.
Brush dough ovals with olive oil.
Place a chopstick in the middle of the dough oval and fold over. It should now be shaped like a taco shell with a space in the fold where the chopstick is. The oiled surface should be inside of the fold.
Slip chopstick out, place on a sheet pan covered with parchment paper, and fold the rest of the ovals.
Cover pan with plastic wrap or towel making sure plastic doesn’t touch the dough as it will stick.
Leave to rise for another hour.
When dough has risen bring water in large pot or wok to a boil. Place about 3-4 buns into a steamer basket and steam for 10 minutes.
Remove steamed buns from steamer basket and keep it on a plate in the oven to keep warm.
Fill and serve!
Homemade Steamed Bao Buns
2 1/2 pounds ground beef
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil, for the grill grates and buns
6 slices American or Cheddar cheese
6 seeded hamburger buns, split
Lettuce leaves, tomato slices, red onion slices, ketchup and mustard, for serving
1. Prepare a grill for medium heat. Divide the ground beef into 6 even pieces and shape each into a 1-inch-thick patty. Press in the center of each patty so it is slightly thinner than the edges. Sprinkle generously on both sides with salt and pepper. Lightly oil the grill grates.
2. Grill the burgers, flipping once, until well browned and medium rare, 6 to 7 minutes per side, topping with a slice of cheese in the last few minutes of grilling. Lightly brush the buns with oil and grill until lightly toasted. Put the burgers on the bottom buns and top with the lettuce, tomato, onions and top buns. Serve with ketchup and mustard on the side.
Pretzel Dogs are another family favorite. The kids buy them from the Pretzel stands at the mall all the time. But they’ve gotten very pricey lately.
Before I continue you might be wondering what is the difference between Pigs in Blankets and Pretzel Dogs. The answer is quite simple Pigs in Blankets are wrapped in refrigerated Crescent Dough and Pretzel Dogs are wrapped in pretzel dough. Now which is better you ask, they’re both good. It just depends on how much time you want to invest into making them and also the taste you’re trying to achieve. For parties when you need to make a lot Pigs in Blankets are much easier to make.
Since I started making homemade pretzels, first the easy no dipping pretzels I made before graduating to the “real” pretzels, I thought why not make my own Pretzel Dogs. These Pretzel Dogs are pretty easy to make, they use my Pretzel Bites recipe which is modified to wrap around hot dogs.
These Pretzel Dogs are great for lunch an snacks. They sure come in handy this summer when the grandkids are home and are always looking for something to eat. Best of all you can make 10 Pretzels Dogs for less than the price of one you buy at the mall!
To make these Pretzel Dogs you will need to make a batch of the dough I use in the Pretzel Bites, it’s the exact same dough but shaped a bit differently. Here’s my recipe!
Pretzel Bites Dough click here for the recipe
10 Hot Dogs (I use all beef hot dogs like Hebrew National or Nathan’s)
Follow the directions for Pretzel Bites until you get to the step where you roll the dough into 10 ropes, which you do as you wait for the Baking Soda Bath to boil. Proceed as directed below.
Make 10 dough ropes – each one should be at least 2-3 times as long as your hot dog.
Wrap each rope on a hot dog. Leave the ends of the hot dogs unwrapped. Refer to the picture above. Tuck dough ends and pinch the seams to keep them from unraveling.
Drop each wrapped hot dog into the Baking Soda Bath.
Allow them to boil in the bath until they float, about 30-45 seconds.
Remove from bath and place on prepared baking sheet.
Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with coarse salt.
Bake in 450 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes or until the dough is golden brown.
Remove from oven and serve with your favorite dipping sauce.
Lumpia is the Philippines’ version of Egg Rolls. Like so many other Asian countries the Filipino Lumpia comes in many varieties.
There is Lumpiang Sariwa or “Fresh Lumpia” that are very thin crepe like wrappers that are filled with stir fried vegetables, shrimp, meats, or a combination of them. Lumpiang Shanghai are meat filled deep fried egg rolls that are tightly wrapped to look like thin cigars or are cut into smaller pieces when served as appetizers, they are usually served with a sweet and sour dipping sauce. Then there are fried lumpia that closely resemble spring rolls. Fried Lumpia can be filled with just about anything including ripe bananas which are actually called Turon or Banana Lumpia.
Fried Lumpia is a favorite in my house; I make them by the dozen and freeze them so we always have some on hand. Making fried lumpia is pretty easy since I usually toss in whatever I have on hand including ground beef, green beans, tofu, carrots, bean sprouts, potatoes, and onions. You can put any combination of meats, seafood, and veggies in a fried lumpia, it’s really not complicated. Whatever ends up as my filling I always serve it with a garlic vinegar sauce, my family loves it!
Today I’ll share my version of Fried Lumpia. I’ll list ingredients just remember they’re all pretty much optional and you can toss in whatever you prefer; but use at least 3 of the optional items in your filling. You can buy frozen egg roll wrappers at any Asian Market, most packages contain 25 wrappers.
1 or 2 Package Egg Roll Wrapper – thawed
1 Lb. Ground Beef – but you can use pork, chicken, turkey, or shrimp instead
1 Small Onion Chopped
1 Tbs. Garlic Minced
2-3 Potatoes – Cooked and cubed (optional)
2 Cups Bean Sprouts (optional)
1 Package Firm Tofu – cut into small cubes
1 Cup Shredded Carrots (optional)
1 Cup Fresh String Beans – Thinly sliced (optional)
1 Cup Shredded Cabbage (optional)
1/8 Cup Soy Sauce
1/2 Tsp. Salt
1/2 Tsp. Ground Black Pepper
1 Egg slightly beaten (to seal wrappers)
Oil for frying
1/2 Cup White or Rice Vinegar
1/2 Tsp. Garlic Minced
1/4 Tsp. Ground Black Pepper
1/4 Tsp. Chili Pepper Flakes (optional)
Heat about 1 Tbl. of oil in a wok or large skillet.
Saute chopped onions until they start to turn translucent.
Add minced garlic and saute for about 1 minute, be careful not to burn the garlic.
Add ground beef or whatever meat you are using. If you are using shrimp add them later after veggies have cooked as shrimp cook quickly and will over cook if you have to cook veggies.
Add salt and pepper. Cook until meat is well done and crumbly.
Add beans, carrots, cabbage if you are using them. Cook until soft.
Add Bean Sprouts and cook until soft.
Gently stir in Tofu and soy sauce.
Remove from heat, drain liquid from pan, and set aside.
Thaw egg roll wrappers and remove from package.
Separate wrappers being careful not to tear. Place on a plate and cover with a damp paper towel. You will be using one wrapper at a time so keep the others under the damp paper towel to keep them from drying out.
Take one wrapper and place on flat surface.
Place about 1 to 1 1/2 heaping tbl. of filling along one side of the wrapper.
Fold over both ends and roll like a burrito.
Brush some beaten egg on the wrapper to seal.
Place on a plate if you will be frying the same day or place in freezer bag if you plan on freezing them for later.
Repeat until you use all the wrappers.
When you’re ready to fry heat about 2″ of oil in a pan or use your deep fryer.
If you are frying the ones you just made, fry them in hot oil until they turn dark golden brown.
Place them on paper towels to absorb excess oil.
If you are frying frozen lumpia, carefully place FROZEN lumpia in the heated oil. Do not thaw them as they will get too soft and fall apart. Fry them until dark golden brown.
To make the sauce just add all the sauce ingredients into a bowl and stir.
Other options for the fillings include shredding sweet potatoes, chopped water chestnuts, sliced bamboo shoots,and pretty much anything you like.
Lumpia - Filipino Egg Rolls
Lumpia - Filipino Egg Rolls
Chocolate Chips are probably the most popular cookies in the world. I know they’re my favorite. I also know that there are many recipes out there and we all have our favorites.
The original creator of the chocolate chip cookie is said to be Ruth Graves Wakefield. She first made it in the late 1930’s when she and her husband owned the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts. The Inn was a popular restaurant known for its home cooking and desserts. She created the cookie to serve to her guests, the recipe was published in the Boston Herald-Traveler and she was featured on a radio program hosted by Marjorie Husted aka Betty Crocker. She later gave her recipe to Nestle and was paid with a lifetime supply of chocolate. The recipe was also published in the 1938 edition of her cookbook “Ruth Wakefield’s Tried and True Recipes”. It rapidly became a favorite cookie in American homes. As they say the rest is history.
As much as I love homemade chocolate chip cookies (I have several favorite recipes), I’m not too fond of making them. Actually I’m not a great fan of making any type of cookie, not because it’s difficult, more so because I find it tedious.
I find that dropping, cutting, or pressing cookies on to sheet and baking for less than 10 minutes is tiresome. The only time I really enjoy making cookies is when I do my Christmas baking when I devote a couple of days in the activity with my grandchildren. That’s why I absolutely love bar cookies!
Cookie bars are so easy to make. You mix the dough, spread into a pan, bake, cool, and cut into bars. It’s a wonderful way to get your homemade cookie fix without spending the day in the kitchen. And chocolate cookies are no exception. Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars are just as yummy as any Chocolate Chip Cookie you can make. So here’s a recipe so you can make some today. You probably already have all the ingredients in you kitchen!
One thing I’ve found when baking chocolate chip cookies, or actually when baking anything, that’s to use the best and freshest ingredients available. I never use generic brands so for this cookie stick with Nestle’s Toll House Semi-Sweet chips, Guittard, or Gharadelli brands.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
2 1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
1 Tsp. Baking Soda
1 Tsp. Salt
1 Cup Butter, softened
3/4 Cup Sugar
3/4 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
1 Tsp. Vanilla
1 12-0z Package Semi Sweet Chocolate chips
Nuts are optional, but if you want to add them use 1 cup of the nut you prefer, chopped up of course.
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
Lightly oil a 9 x 13 baking pan
Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.
Cream together butter and both sugars using the paddle attachment of your stand mixer. If you don’t have a stand mixer you can use a hand mixer.
Add vanilla and mix until creamy.
Add in eggs one at a time while continuing to mix.
Gradually add in dry ingredients making sure to mix it well.
Stir in chocolate chips and nuts if you’re using nuts.
Spread evenly in the pan.
Bake for about 25 – 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Cool for about 10 minutes then cut into bars.
I use flip the pan over onto a large sheet and use a pizza cutter to cut it into bars. I find it easier to cut into even pieces.
Chocolate Chip Bar Cookies
Chocolate Chip Bar Cookies
For years now I usually write about travel on my Wednesday articles. Lately due to the worldwide Pandemic travel has become difficult and many times ill advised.
Many of us have chosen to stay home this summer perhaps planning our next trip whenever we feel safe enough to venture further away from home. In our case I’m not really sure when that will be, specially since cruising is one of our favorite vacation travel. Sadly the cruising industry has canceled cruises thru September and will likely cancel cruises thru fall and possibly the rest of the year.
Yes we’re sad and even restless. We haven’t been able to visit our daughter and her family in Italy since last fall. And yes we miss traveling. That’s why I’ve been trying to bring a little bit of our travels in to our home. What better way to “re-live” some of our favorite vacation spots than thru food. I’ve decided to share some of our favorite cuisine which we discovered during our travels. Because isn’t food a big part of traveling anyway?
So for the next little while on my Wednesday post I’ll share a recipe for a favorite food we discovered during our travels. I hope it will inspire you to try something different and maybe make plans to visit one of the countries!
Today I’ll share this Piroshki recipe. Piroshkis are very similar to American meat pies, British Pasties, Middle Eastern Fatayer, and even Empanadas from Mexico, Spain, and other Latin countries.
Piroshkis are a popular street or comfort food in Russia and the Ukraine. They’re fried or baked oblong buns (I prefer the fried) filled with a variety of fillings including beef, chicken, pork, mushrooms, and cheese. In Russia they’re considered a main course when eaten with a soup or salad. It’s often served with sour cream.
Today I’ll share a recipe for Beef or Chicken filled Piroshkis. They’re not too difficult to make and if you’re not used to working with yeast breads this is a fine recipe to start with as it’s fairly simple.
Meat Filled Piroshkis
Ingredients for the dough:
4 cups flour
1 Tsp. Active dry yeast
1/4 Cup warm water
1 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
2 Tbs. Sugar
1 Tsp. Salt
1 Lb. Ground Beef, Turkey, or Chicken
1 Large Onion very finely chopped
1/2 Cup Mushrooms very finely chopped
1 Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 Tsp. Salt
1 Tsp. Pepper
2 Tbs. Fresh Dill
1 Tsp. Dried Dill
1 Tbs. Fresh Garlic – minced
Oil for frying
First prepare dough as follows:
Dissolve yeast in the warm water and place in a warm place until it’s frothy – about 10 minutes.
In a medium saucepan on low heat pour in milk and let warm up.
Whisk in the eggs, oil, sugar, and salt. This mixture will be warm and lumpy.
Remove from heat.
Place 1/2 of flour in bowl of stand mixer (or large bowl if mixing by hand). Using the dough hook gradually stir in the milk mixture until fully combined.
Alternately add yeast mixture and rest of the flour, be sure you mix well between additions.
Knead until the dough forms a ball and does not stick to sides of bowl. You may have to add some more flour (1 Tbs. spoon at a time) to get the dough to the proper consistency.
Cover with a cloth and set aside in a warm spot until the dough doubles in size. About 1-2 hours.
Meanwhile mix all the filling ingredients together in a bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.
When dough has doubled in size place the ball into a lightly floured surface.
Pinch of pieces of dough to form a ball about 2″.
Flatten dough and using a rolling pin roll each ball into disks about 4″ in diameter.
Place a heaping Tbs. of filling in the center of dough. Form filling into a line across the diameter. Fold dough over meat and pinch both ends to seal.
Place filled piroshki on to a sheet with the seam side down and allow to rest for about 10 minutes.
Heat enough oil in a pan deep enough so that the piroshkis will be at least halfway immersed in oil.
Place piroshki in hot oil seam side down. Fry until golden brown.
Gently flip over and fry other side.
Drain cooked piroshki on paper towels before serving.