Homemade Steamed Bao Buns

Homemade Steamed Bao Buns

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

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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!


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Easy French Toast

Easy French Toast

What is French Toast and where did it get its name?  I’m sure just about everyone has had French Toast sometime or other, it is after all a popular breakfast food and is featured on many restaurants’ breakfast menus.  But I everyone knows its origins or how it got its name.

Some version of this popular breakfast fare has been around for centuries.  Yes I said centuries.  And why not?  All French Toast is bread that’s been soaked in a milk and egg mixture and then fried.  We know that milk and eggs have been a food staple through out most of civilization.

According to Apicius a collection of recipes from the 5th. Century AD the dish we know as French Toast was around during the Roman Empire.  Their version called Pan Dulcis, was bread soaked in a milk mixture then fried in oil or butter.  In the court English of Henry V during the 15th. Century “Pain Perdu” was all the rage.  The name which was in French literally means “lost bread” because it calls for soaking hard or stale bread in a milk and egg mixture then frying it.  The French still call it Pain Perdu to this day.

So how did it come to be called French Toast in America when clearly it didn’t originate in France?   Well legend has it that a New York innkeeper named Joseph French created the dish in 1724 and sold it as French Toast.  It’s believed he meant to call it French’s Toast but he was grammatically inept and forgot the apostrophe.

Whatever you call it and whatever its origins French Toast is delicious and actually very simple to make.  Of course there are now different versions of this simple dish including IHOP’s Stuffed French Toast and Denny’s Fabulous French Toast.  I actually make Creme Brulee French toast on Christmas mornings!

I look at French Toast as a blank canvas.  You can have it just with syrup and butter, and that’s delicious! Or you can embellish it with fruit, whipped cream, jam, nutella, or whatever else you can think of.  But before you can embellish you’ll need the basic recipe.  I prefer to use day old french bread, but really you can use whatever bread you have on hand.  But do try to avoid using freshly baked bread as it tends to be too soft and will fall apart when soaked in the liquid mixture.  Once you’ve got the basics you can add toppings or even add ingredients to the batter.  So here’s the basic recipe!

Basic French Toast

Ingredients:

6-8 slices of day old French Bread or whatever bread you have on hand

2 Eggs

1/2 Cup Milk

1/4 Cup Sugar

1/2 Tsp. Vanilla

Butter for frying and for topping

Syrup

Fruits, jams, whipped cream, etc. for toppings (optional)

Directions:

Beat Eggs, Milk, and Sugar together until well combined.

Stir in vanilla.

Melt a pat of batter in a skillet.

Dip both sides of bread slice in egg mixture until soaked.

Lift bread out of liquid and let excess liquid drain off.

Place soaked bread in skillet and cook until first side starts to brown.

Flip over and cook other side until brown.

Place in serving dish and serve immediately.

Serve with butter and syrup or whatever topping you like.

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Meat Filled Piroshki

Meat Filled Piroshki

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

3 Eggs

1/2 Cup Olive Oil

2 Tbs. Sugar

1 Tsp. Salt

Filling Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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.

Mix well.

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.

Meat Filled Piroshki
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Strawberries & Cream Crepes

Strawberries & Cream Crepes

I Recently made a batch of Riesling Marinated Strawberries and Mascarpone Cream Filling to use in my Pavlovas.  The left over I used in my mini Trifles but found that I still had left overs.  So to use them up (I hate waste) I decided that they’d be great with crepes.  I made Strawberries & Cream Crepes!

These Strawberries & Cream Crepes have that lovely Mascarpone Cream filling and the marinated strawberries; then topped with delicious Riesling Marinated Strawberries.  They are amazing!  They’re great for dessert or breakfast.  They’d also make a great addition to any brunch!

The crepes are really simple to make, they taste just like the crepes you’d find on the streets of Paris!  I’m serious!  Best of all you can make them ahead of time; just heat them up and fill before serving or even freeze them to use much later.  Just remember to place a sheet of parchment paper in between each crepe to prevent them from sticking together.

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So here’s what you’ll need to make these lovey Strawberries & Cream Crepes.

Crepes – recipe below

Riesling Marinated StrawberriesClick here for the recipe

Mascarpone Cream FillingClick here for the recipe

Fresh Strawberries for garnish (optional)

Fresh Mint Leaves for Garnish (optional)

Crepes

Ingredients:

2 Cups Milk

4 Eggs

3 Tbs. Butter – melted

2 Tbs. Sugar

1 Tsp. Vanilla

1 1/2 Cup Flour – sifted

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until batter is smooth, about 30 seconds

Refrigerate batter at least 30 minutes (you can even leave it overnight)

Spray 8″ frying pan or crepe pan with cooking spray.

Pour 1/4 cup batter into pan and rotate pan to spread batter to pan edges to form a circle.

Cook over medium low heat until top looks dry.

Gently flip over and cook another 1-2 minutes.

Remove from heat and stack until ready to use.

Cook remaining batter and keep stacking until done.  Place parchment paper between crepes to keep them from sticking together.

Assemble:

Assemble the crepes just before serving.

Fill each crepe with 2 heaping spoonfuls of cream filling.  Place cream near the bottom edge of your crepe and spread to form a line across.  Spread filling to about 1/2″ from each edge.

Spoon a few marinated strawberries on top of cream.

Roll crepe into a log.

Plate 2-3 filled crepes side by side.

Add a dollop of cream on the crepes and top with either fresh or marinated strawberries, and a mint leaf is desired.

Drizzle some of the syrup from the marinated strawberries over the top and serve.


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Easy Cinnamon Rolls

Easy Cinnamon Rolls

Waking up to the aroma of freshly baked Cinnamon Rolls is one of life’s simple pleasures.  It’s a sure way to get everyone out of bed and onto the breakfast table.

But who has the time to wake up at the crack of dawn to start a batch of dough?  Not me that’s for sure!  But I do love my cinnamon rolls so I found a way to make them fresh without all the work.  Really!  These cinnamon rolls are super easy to make, it uses frozen bread dough!  Now how cool is that?

You can take them out the night before and let them rise in the fridge.  In the morning you just have to put them in a pan, brush them with cinnamon butter (I use the Chef Shamy spread you can buy at Costco) and pop them in the oven.  In a very short time your house will smell like cinnamon!

I like to either glaze each roll with a thin glaze or if I have the ingredients make a cream cheese icing for them.

Here’s the recipe!

Ingredients:

24 frozen bread roll dough

Chef Shamy Honey Butter Cinnamon & Brown Sugar Flavor

OR

1 Stick butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar (packed), 1 Tbs. Ground Cinnamon – mixed together to make a  paste

Glaze:

1 1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar

2 Tbs. Milk

1 Tsp. Vanilla

Directions:

Place frozen dough rolls on a parchment covered tray, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in the refrigerator overnight.

Roll 2 rolls together to form a ball and cut 4 slits from top to bottom, but don’t cut all the way thru.

Place this into a greased muffin tin.  Repeat with the rest of the dough.  You will have 12 rolls.

Spread the Butter Paste on top of the rolls and also in between the slits.  It’s best to do this with clean hands so you can get the paste deep into the slits.

Cover with plastic wrap that has been lightly sprayed with baking oil.

Let the dough rise until it’s double in size.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Remove plastic wrap and place risen rolls in the oven and bake about 15 minutes.

Gently remove from muffin tins and brush the tops with glaze or icing.

The Glaze:

Mix glaze ingredients together until sugar is dissolved.  Glaze will be slightly thicker but not icing consistency.  Spread this on warm rolls before serving.

If you prefer ice with your favorite cream cheese icing.

Serve warm and don’t forget to brew some coffee!

 

 

 


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