Never waste – Green Onion Sesame Rolls

One of my roommates loves to go grocery shopping, which is great for us because we always have a stocked fridge. However, sometimes she buys things that we don’t end up using until it’s too late (i.e. the food has started rotting). Last month, she bought a large pack of green onions, but no one cooked anything with them. I always feel bad throwing out food. Growing up with parents who were farmers in China has taught me not to waste food. Since my parents know firsthand how difficult it is to grow food, they don’t like to waste food, even the smallest amount. So when I saw this recipe for green onion rolls, I knew it was the perfect way to use up our sad, wilting green onions.

         

This recipe is pretty straightforward. Just make a basic bread dough, chop up lots of green onions, and roll out the dough. Then, generously sprinkle the dough with green onions, roll the dough into a log, slice the log up and bake. After slicing up the log, you’ll get these beautiful looks rolls, chockful of green onions. Sprinkling black and white sesame seeds on top gives the rolls as nice pop of color too.

These green onion rolls baked and browned absolutely beautifully! And they smelled so delicious from the oven! However, I was a little disappointed in the flavor. They tasted good, but I felt something was missing. In my critical opinion, they were a tad too bland. Perhaps I should have added a bit more salt or some spice? Regardless, these green onion rolls were tasty, proven by the fact that my roommates gobbled them up so quickly.

In spite of the slight blandness, these rolls were a great addition to our dinner that evening. I’d suggest making these for a potluck or a dinner party – you’ll definitely impress the guests. And it’s a great way to get rid of lots of green onions all at once!

Green Onion Sesame Rolls
Adapted from Priscilla Liang’s Easy Fluffy No-Knead Bread

For the Dough:
1/2 cup warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons yeast
1 egg
2 cups bread flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter

For the Filling:
Several stalks of green onion
1-2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil

Egg wash (1 egg beaten with water)
Black and white sesame seeds to garnish

1. Dissolve the sugar in warm water and sprinkle yeast on top. Let rest for 10 minutes or until foamy.
2. Combine and mix the flour and salt in a large bowl.
3. Add the yeast mixture, egg, and butter to the dry mixture.
4. Mix the dough until it comes together. Move the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead for several minutes until dough is smooth. Add additional flour as needed.
5. Transfer dough to a lightly greased bowl. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and allow it to double in size, roughly one hour. (You can also refrigerate the dough overnight, but make sure to let dough sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes to warm up before rolling).
6. Punch the dough with your fist. Roll the dough into a rectangle of approximately 1/3 inch thick.
7. Spread the olive oil and sesame oil onto the dough.  Sprinkle the salt and green onion evenly over the dough.
8. Roll and cut the dough into 16 pieces.
9. Line two loaf pans with parchment paper and place 8 rolls into each pan.
10. Cover the pans with a damp cloth and let the rolls rise in a warm place for approximately 30 minutes.
11. Brush the rolls with the egg wash and sprinkle the tops with black and white sesame seeds.
12. Bake at 400F for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a roll comes out clean.
13. Serve with dinner or enjoy as a snack!

This post has been Yeastspotted and submitted to Bake Your Own Bread.

Apple Picking in Sebastopol – Apple Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread

Growing up in the southwestern part of the US, I missed out on a lot of produce picking since the desert isn’t as fertile as New England or California, except for those Hatch green chiles. So when my housemates suggested going apple picking a few weekends ago, I jumped at the opportunity to finally experience the manual labor of harvesting fruit.

In college, I went berry picking once with one of my friends at a farm outside of Austin. Although we had an awesome time, we were more focused on just looking at the berries (and having a photoshoot :P) rather than picking them. So we ended up picking only a handful of them. This time though, my housemates and I were serious about the harvest. We traveled to an apple farm in Sebastopol, a town about an hour away from the Bay Area. The farm actually has more acres of Asian pears than apples, but they only let people pick apples. That day, golden delicious and jonagold apples were in season. We were led to several rows of trees weighed down with ripe apples and we went straight to picking. Since the apples were so ripe, they were pretty easy to take off the trees. Some of them were so ripe that they just fell of the trees as we picked off other apples. After only about half an hour, we had several boxes filled with apples and headed back to weigh out our bounty. We ended up picking about 35 pounds of apples that day!

The farm also had many blackberry brambles and let us pick some blackberries. If you haven’t picked blackberries before, let me warn you, it’s rather difficult. Choosing ripe blackberries is a difficult task in itself since most of them are either not ripe enough or too ripe (i.e. they get squished when you pick them). On top of that, the blackberries rest in thorny brambles and to get the best ones, you end up getting scraped and scratched by the thorns. I gave up pretty early, but my housemates soldiered on and ended up picking about 3 pounds of berries.

With its apples and asian pears, the farm makes and sells asian pear apple juice, which is very delicious and refreshing. In order to pick apples, we had to sign up for a membership, which basically meant buying 12 bottles of juice. In addition to the juice, the farm also makes several different jams using asian pears, blackberries, and other fruits. We bought a jar of plum amaretto jam and a jar of asian pear, lavender, blackberry ginger jam (that’s a mouthful).

With 35 pounds of apples, I went right to work at baking up something delicious using apples. It didn’t take much effort to find apple recipes. Apparently, everyone is in the mood for apples now – Baked by Rachel is even posting an apple recipe each day. That’s how I found this recipe for cinnamon apple pull apart bread.

Pull-apart breads seem to be trendy these days. I’ve seen pins of all varieties all over Pinterest, from sweet ones (such as lemon and cinnamon sugar) to savory ones (i.e. cheddar, beer and mustard). This type of bread is a bit more complicated than others I’ve made before since you have to cut the dough into strips several times and then try to pack those strips into a loaf pan. And with the cinnamon filling, it turns out to be pretty messy. It was also a little difficult keeping all of the apples together on top of the dough and in between the strips.

I’d like to say my bread baked up beautifully, but that was not the case. I let it rise for an hour, but perhaps this wasn’t enough time. When I baked the bread, the top browned, but inside seemed pretty undercooked. I baked it for nearly twice as long as the recipe says, but I think the bread was still a bit doughy. Perhaps it was because I used some leftover sweet dough that I froze and didn’t let it thaw enough before I used it?

Although I was pretty unsatisfied with the final product, my housemates enjoyed the bread. I had baked the bread late at night and left it out to cool, but when I woke up the next morning, 3/4 of the bread was gone! Later that day, they told me how delicious it was and asked for the recipe. So I guess the bread didn’t turn out that bad or my housemates like eating doughy bread. 😛

Apple Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread
Adapted from this recipe

For the dough:
3 1/4 – 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pkg or 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
4 tablespoon butter, melted
1/3 cup lukewarm milk
1/4 cup lukewarm water
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

For the filling:
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 cups apples (I just sliced one large apple)

1. Dissolve 1 tablespoon of sugar in warm water and sprinkle yeast on top. Let rest for 10 minutes or until foamy.
2. Combine and mix the dry dough ingredients in a large bowl.
3. Add the yeast mixture and remaining wet dough ingredients to the dry mixture.
4. Mix the dough until it comes together. Move the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead for several minutes until dough is smooth. Add additional flour as needed.
5. Transfer dough to a lightly greased bowl. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and allow to double in size, roughly one hour. (You can also refrigerate the dough overnight, but make sure to let dough sti at room temperature for 20-30 minutes to warm up before rolling).
6. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.
7. Prepare the filling by combining the sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and butter.
8. Thinly slice the apples and roll out dough, on a lightly floured surface, into a 12 x 20″ rectangle (I just eyeballed this).
9. Spread the dough with the cinnamon filling and lay the apple slices on top.
10. Cut the dough into 6 sections, roughly 3 x 12″. Carefully lay sections on top of each other, this will be messy and dough will stretch.
11. Cut dough the into 6 stacks. Turn stacks on their sides and tightly pack into prepared loaf pan.
12. Allow to rise for additional 30-60 minutes or until roughly doubled in size.
13. Bake at 350F for 45-55 minutes. (I ended up baking for nearly 90 minutes.) After 30 minutes, cover with foil and continue baking.
14. When bread is golden brown, remove from oven, cool on a wire rack, and enjoy!

This post has been Yeastspotted and submitted to Bake Your Own Bread.

Finally Following the Trend – Salted Caramel Brownies

Have you ever noticed how similar the food world is to the fashion world? Certain foods become really trendy just like certain designs and patterns. For example, cupcakes were all the rage several years ago and bacon desserts were pretty hot for a while. I remember a few years ago, salted caramel was super popular. All over the food blogosphere, you’d see recipes for salted caramel ice cream, salted caramel cupcakes, and of course, salted caramels. However, I distinctly remember seeing recipes for salted caramel brownies pop up the most (or maybe I just gravitated to brownie recipes back then).

After making the Salted Caramel Chocolate Ganache cake, I had a LOT of salted caramel leftover. To use it up, I decided to finally follow the trend and make those salted caramel brownies that I’d seen so many times before on food blogs. I saw this recipe from She Makes, She Bakes and loved how chockfull of caramel the brownies are. Apparently, the trick to getting a thick layer of caramel is to partly bake half of the batter first, then top it with caramel and the rest of the brownie batter, and bake the brownies again.

I had a little difficulty spreading the rest of the brownie batter on top of the caramel, so some caramel was peeking out from the edges. While the brownies were baking, I noticed the exposed caramel bubbled up a bit. Fortunately, it didn’t burn… although apparently, burnt caramel is rather popular too (or at least, it’s a popular ice cream flavor in the Bay Area). I also lucked out with putting parchment paper on the bottom of the pan, which made clean up much easier.

My brownies didn’t have as thick of a layer of caramel as I’d like, but they still tasted delicious. They were fairly rich, but not so rich that you had to eat them with a glass of milk (though, washing them down with milk was definitely satisfying). A quick tip: topping the brownies with sea salt helped bring out the flavors of the caramel and chocolate.

Also, these brownies were a bit more fudgy than I’d like. This might have been due to me using buttermilk in the place of eggs since we had run out… oops! But nonetheless, they were extremely delicious. In fact, they were so good that a whole plate of brownies was completely gone after only a few hours. So make sure you eat one because these brownies will disappear super fast!

This is a bit off-topic, but look how awesome these brownies look in natural light! I baked them at night, but didn’t photograph them until the next morning. The natural lighting made a huge difference. If you haven’t noticed already, I’m guilty of using instagram for a lot of my photos (don’t judge me too harshly… I just really like some of the filters!) since I think instagram makes them look better. However, with this natural lighting, the filters didn’t really make much of a difference because the pictures were already so beautiful. For instance, take the photo above. The rays of sunlight peeking through my kitchen window add a nice vintage-y feel to it, don’t you think?

Salted Caramel Brownies
Adapted from She Makes, She Bakes

1/2 cup butter
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips or coarsely chopped
3/4 cups sugar
2 eggs (or 1 cup of buttermilk/milk if you run out of eggs like I did!)
1/2 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon table salt

Salted Caramel (leftover from this recipe or just follow the original recipe)

1. Melt the stick of butter in the microwave and add the chocolate. Stir the chocolate and butter together. Microwave the mixture for another 30 seconds and stir. Repeat until fully melted.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, eggs, and vanilla until incorporated. Add in the butter and chocolate mixture and mix until thick and glossy (about a minute). Stir in the flour and table salt until just combined.
3. Line a 9×9 pan with aluminum foil (I used parchment paper), leaving a few inches hanging over the sides (this foil will turn into handles to lift the brownies out of the pan later). Spray the foil generously with nonstick spray, paying special attention to the corners and sides. (This isn’t needed if you use parchment paper.)
4. Pour half of the brownie mixture into the pan and spread to corners. Bake for 20 minutes and let cool for 20 minutes.
5. Pour the caramel over the cooked brownies and spread to the corners.
6. Pour the rest of the brownie mixture evenly over the caramel (be careful not to just dump all of the batter in the center) and spread to the corners.
7. Sprinkle 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of sea salt on top of the brownie batter.
8. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the center is set.
9. Cool completely before lifting the foil out of the pan.
10. Top the cooled brownies with coarse sea salt and devour!

Surprising Swirls – Povitica

I love recipes that look difficult to make, but are actually really easy… like this braided lemon bread. And I love recipes that have a surprise inside, like this purple ombre cake. And I absolutely love recipes that are straightforward – it’s ok if they require more than one bowl or make a mess, as long as they are easy to follow and understand. So, when I saw this beautiful, creative bread called Povitica and saw how simple it was and how awesome it looked inside, I pinned the recipe and vowed to make it someday.

Just a regular loaf or bread… or is it?

I just love surprising people… which is a bit ironic, since I kinda hate being surprised (or rather, spooked since I’ll jump a mile into the air and scream whenever someone sneaks up on me). I especially love surprising people with food, either by making something shockingly beautiful or making something with ingredients and flavor combinations that they would never have expected to go well together (like lime glazed avocado pop-tarts or blueberry basil goat cheese hand pies… I’ll be posting these soon!)

What I love most about this bread is how unassuming it looks. Judging from its exterior, one would guess it’s just a regular old loaf of bread. But once you cut off a slice, it’s like BAM! You’re hit with crazy twists and swirls of walnut filling all throughout the bread. Povitica is basically the funkier cousin of swirl bread.

Another great thing about this recipe is that it’s super straightforward. Povitica is basically a sweet bread dough slathered on with a walnut filling, rolled up and twisted, and then baked in a loaf pan. At first glance, the swirls of filling throughout the bread look fairly complicated, but making them is pretty easy, especially with the help of the step-by-step photos on the Daring Baker’s website. I followed the quarter batch recipe, which makes one loaf. My bread ended up not being twisted that much, probably because I didn’t have enough filling for the swirls to distinctly show, especially near the top. Be warned though, this bread was a little messy, particularly when I rolled up the dough into a log, a lot of the filling spilled out. But hey, that’s the fun part of it. One reason why I like making breads so much is that I get to play with the dough and get my hands dirty. Besides, it doesn’t really matter if your kitchen gets messy because you’re going to have to clean it up in the end anyways. 😛

Povitica
Adapted from Daring Bakers (Quarter Batch – makes one loaf) 

For the dough:
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
2  cups all-purpose flour, measure first then sift, divided

For the filling:
1 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
1 egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

To make the dough:
1. Proof the yeast by dissolving 1 tablespoon sugar in 1/4 cup of warm water and sprinkling yeast on top. Let sit for 10 minutes or until foamy.
2. Heat the milk in a saucepan on the stove or in the microwave until scalding.
3. In a large bowl, mix the scalded milk, 3 tablespoons sugar, and salt.
4. Add the beaten eggs, yeast mixture, melted butter, and 1 cup of flour.
5. Mix using a wooden spoon and slowly add the remaining flour until the dough starts to come together. (You might not use all of the flour.)
6. Knead the dough on a well-floured surface until dough is smooth and doesn’t stick. Add more flour if needed.
7. Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a towel, and let rise for 1-2 hours or until doubled.

To make the filling:
8. In a large bowl, mix together the ground walnuts, sugar, cinnamon and cocoa.
9. Heat the milk and butter to boiling. (I just heated these in the microwave until hot.)
10. Pour the liquid over the nut/sugar mixture.
11. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix thoroughly.
12. Let filling stand at room temperature until it’s ready to be spread on the dough.

To assemble the bread:
13. On a well-floured surface, roll the dough out into a rectangle as thin as you can.
14. Spread the filling on top of the dough.
15. Gently roll the dough up into a long log/jelly roll. (The filling will probably get pushed out as you roll it up. Don’t worry about it.)
16. Lift the dough and place the middle in a “U” shape into a greased loaf pan.  Tuck the ends into the empty space of the “U” and brush the top with egg wash.
17. Let rest for 15 minutes.
18. Bake at 350F for 15 minutes, then bake at 300 for 45 minutes. Check the bread after 30 minutes to see how browned the top is. If it is too brown, you can place aluminum foil on top.
19. Remove the bread from the oven and let cool in the pan on a cooling rack for 15-20 minutes.
20. Slice off a piece and admire how beautiful your bread is! 🙂

This post has been Yeastpotted and submitted to Bake Your Own Bread.

Everything is better when it’s mini – Mini Cherry Pies

How cute are these mini pies?

For some reason, miniature anything is super cute, especially food. I mean, look at mini cupcakes, mini burgers, and mini donuts. Even, the MINI cars are super cute. I don’t know what about them makes them so appealing. Maybe it’s because small things are inherently super cute, like babies, puppies, and kittens. Or maybe it’s that people don’t feel as bad eating a mini dessert. (I know that’s true for me!)

One day, after seeing so many pictures of cute mini pies, I decided on a whim that I needed to make some right away. So I biked to Trader Joe’s on the way home to pick up frozen pie crust. I know, I know, it’s a lot cheaper and tastier to make your own, but I wanted it fast… which is ironic, since I had to wait over an hour for the crust to defrost. Sometimes my brain doesn’t think things out all the way through… 😛

There were some cherries that were close to going bad in my refrigerator, so I decided to salvage them and make cherry pie. I have to admit though, cherry pie is not one of my favorites. It looks a little too fake to me with the bright, vibrant red cherries that glisten. Or maybe I’ve just seen too many advertisements that use fake cherry pies. But I do love the designs on the top crust of pies, from the woven lattice to the circular or heart shaped cut outs. Pies are definitely works of beauty.

This really isn’t much of a recipe since I didn’t make the pie crust myself and making the filling consists of stirring together cherries (or whatever fruit you want), some sugar, a bit of flour, and a splash of amaretto (you can leave this out – I just thought cherries and amaretto would go well together). I didn’t really make any measurements (gasp!), but I did consult some cherry pie recipes to get a feel for what goes into the filling. To assemble the mini pies, all you have to do is cut out circles of dough and place them in a muffin tin. Fill the crust with your filling and decorate the tops of the pies any way you want.

The best part about making miniature pies, was that instead of making one regular sized pie, I got to make four (mini) pies! So I got to make not just one pie crust design, but four! It made me super excited! 😀 (Note: I didn’t use up all of the pie crust, I just got tired after making four and my creative juices ran dry for pie designs. :P)

I actually didn’t try any of these pies and wasn’t around when someone (I still don’t know who) gobbled them up. I’m assuming they were good since I couldn’t find a single trace of them! Like I said, no one can resist something when it’s mini!

Forgetting the Focaccia – Olive Rosemary Focaccia

My friends and I recently moved into a new house and in the whole process, we somehow inherited a big jar of green olives. I think olives are one of those foods that everyone has a different attitude towards. Some absolutely love them, some are indifferent, and some completely abhor them. Like my friend Rachel. One day, she asked her boyfriend to pick up a loaf of bread. She told him any kind of bread would be fine. However, when he showed up with a loaf of olive bread, she exclaimed, “Not olive bread!”

Now, I don’t mind olives, but I definitely do not like them enough to eat a big jar of them. I’ll eat a few on a slice of pizza or eat the olive that comes with my martini, but they’re a little too salty for me to eat regularly. So when I saw that big jar of olives, I knew I had to find a recipe that used olives. Remembering that story of olive bread, I looked up recipes for olive bread and found a few for olive rosemary focaccia.

Focaccia is actually a very simple and straightforward bread, similar to pizza dough (according to wikipedia). You just make a basic dough, add in whatever herbs (or food) you want, roll the dough out, spread olive oil over it,  and press your fingertips into the dough. Super easy, right?

Even though it was super simple, being the klutz that I am, I encountered a minor problem. While baking the bread, I was distracted and left the focaccia in the oven for a bit too long. Too long as in, burnt the bread and had the smoke alarm go off! Luckily I made two loaves and baked the other one perfectly.

I made this focaccia for a friend’s birthday dinner being hosted at my new house (which was why I had been so distracted while baking the focaccia). Another one of my friends had planned the whole menu, which included baked brie topped with raspberry jam and wrapped in puff pastry, mushroom pasta, tuna stuffed bell peppers, and sauteed brussel sprouts with almonds. In addition to the focaccia, I contributed a quick, but fancy appetizer of figs drizzled with honey and topped with toasted walnuts.

Don’t those figs look so fancy?

Despite burning a loaf of focaccia (I had baked the first one and served it, but left the second one in the oven while I joined my friends for dinner – a very bad idea) and having the smoke alarm go off in the middle of dinner, my friend’s birthday dinner was a great success! The food was delicious and the company was great. We all make mistakes sometimes, some more than others (like me for example). But usually it all works out in the end. Besides, how else would you learn if you didn’t make mistakes?

The only real unfortunate thing about this bread was that it didn’t use nearly enough olives since I barely made a dent in my big jar sitting in the fridge. So, if anyone has any fun recipes that use a ton of olives, please let me know!

Olive Rosemary Focaccia
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman and Epicurious

2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons dry yeast
4 cups (about) all purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
24 black or green brine-cured olives, pitted, halved (I used green olives and sliced them)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried

1. Dissolve sugar in warm water in large bowl. Sprinkle dry yeast over the water and let sit for 10 minutes or until foamy.
2. Add the yeast to 3 1/2 cups flour and salt and stir to blend well (dough will be sticky). Add in the chopped olives and some of the rosemary.
3. Knead the dough on a floured surface until smooth and elastic, adding more flour by tablespoonfuls if dough is sticky, about 10 minutes.
4. Form the dough into ball and place the dough into an oiled large bowl. Pour a little olive oil on top of the dough and evenly coat the dough with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a towel and let rise in warm area until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.
5. Punch down the dough, knead it into a ball and return it to same bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm area until doubled, about 45 minutes.
6. Coat a baking sheet with 1 tablespoon oil. Punch down the dough and transfer it to the baking sheet. Roll the dough out into a rectangle with your fingertips or a rolling pin. Let the dough rest 10 minutes.
7. Drizzle 2 tablespoons oil over the dough and sprinkle the rest of the chopped rosemary on top. Let the dough rise uncovered in warm area until puffy, about 25 minutes.
8. Press your fingertips all over dough. (This was the funnest part! It made me feel like a kid again playing with playdough). Bake the bread  at 475F until brown and crusty, about 20 minutes. Serve the bread warm or at room temperature.

This post has been Yeastspotted and submitted to Bake Your Own Bread.

A Twist on Tradition – Mango Ginger Hand Pies

Hand pies seem to be all the rage lately, which is no surprise. I mean, just look at them! They are super cute and delicious! But because I like to shake up things and put twists on traditional desserts, I didn’t want to make the classical flavors of apple, cherry, or peach for my hand pies.

Instead, I decided to make mango ginger hand pies, drawing inspiration from a food truck I found in Austin that sold empanadas. One of the more exotic flavors was the mango and ginger empanada. I never tried it, but it sounded so delicious.

I followed the general directions of this recipe for peach and ginger hand pies from The Kitchn. However, I cheated a little by using store-bought pie crust. I encourage you to make homemade pie crust if you have time. It’s actually quite easy and fun, especially when you have to cut the butter into the flour. I modified the filling a little by adding in chopped candied ginger to amplify the ginger flavor. (But I left out the fresh ginger since I didn’t have any on hand). Depending on how much you like ginger, you can add a little or lot, or omit it all together.

So tiny and cute! They fit in the palm of your hand!

The most fun part of this recipe is making the little hand pies. Just cut out circles, fill them with the mango filling, and press and crimp the edges together. But be careful to not overfill them, which is very easy to do.

Filled, crimped, egg washed, and ready for the oven!

I baked these mango hand pies for my friends for dessert after dinner one night. I was actually really surprised they gobbled up all of the hand pies so quickly and exclaimed how delicious they were. To be honest, I was a little worried my friends might not like them since 1) I thought I had put in a little too much ginger and 2) no one had ever made this recipe before (or at least, no one had posted this specific recipe online).

Freshly baked mango hand pies!

Although my products don’t often turn out the same as those I see on food blogs, it’s reassuring to know that at least someone out there has successfully made the recipe at one point. But when you make up a recipe, you have no way of knowing how good it’ll be until you eat it. It gives me more appreciation for all of the people who write cookbooks. They must spend hours just troubleshooting recipes. Just like I am with my synthesis procedure for nanoparticles, which I can tell you from personal experience, is really a lot of hard work. I suppose the only difference between me and the cookbook authors is that their products aren’t toxic. 😛

Oh, and their products are much prettier and cuter, just like this little mango hand pie.

Mango and Ginger Hand Pies
Adapted from The Kitchn

1 pie crust (homemade or store bought)
2 ripe mangoes
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger (or use candied or crystallized ginger instead)
2 tablespoons flour
1 egg plus water for egg wash
Extra sugar for sprinkling

1. Make pie dough from scratch or buy pie dough from the store (I used Trader Joe’s)
2. Peel and chop up the mangoes into small pieces. Mix the mangoes, sugar, ginger and flour. Let macerate for 15-20 minutes while you prepare the pie crusts.
3. Roll the pie dough out to 1/4 inches thick. Cut out small disks of dough using a biscuit cutter or a glass cup.
4. Fill each disk with the mango filling. Brush the edges of the disk with egg wash and press the edges together.
5. Place the pie onto a greased baking sheet and crimp the edges with a fork. Using scissors or a knife, cut three small slits on the top of each pie.
6. Chill the pies in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. When ready to bake, brush each pie with egg wash and sprinkle the top with sugar.
7. Bake the hand pies at 350F for 30-35 minutes or until the dough is lightly browned.
8. Cool the pies for 10 minutes, then devour!

Trying new things – Strawberry and Cream Cheese Biscuits and Scones

Ever since eating my Southern friend’s biscuits, I’ve always wanted to try to make them. However, I like to put twists on traditional dishes/recipes, so I decided to add strawberries and cream cheese to spice up the traditional biscuit.

I mainly followed Deb’s recipe for strawberry and cream biscuits, but wanting to live up to the name more, I added chunks of cream cheese into the batter.

My biscuits didn’t turn out that fluffy, possibly because of my biscuit cutting technique and the lack of shortening. I didn’t have a biscuit cutter, so I used a glass instead. People advise only pressing down into the dough; however, my glass wasn’t sharp enough to actually cut the dough, so I ended up twisting the glass a little. I know, I know, I committed a biscuit sin! I’m not exactly sure how to get really soft and fluffy biscuits, so if you have any tips, please let me know!

I may also have not kneaded the dough enough. Deb cautioned against mixing the dough too much; however, I may have taken that advice a little too far. My dough was very soft and didn’t hold its shape as well as bread dough does.

The biscuits seemed to puff up a little in the over, but deflated a bit after I took them out. Now, the biscuits weren’t hard, but they definitely were not very flaky and fluffy. I’d say they were more of a cross between biscuits and cookies.

               

Cute little biscuits with chunks of the cream cheese and strawberries!

Getting a little tired of tediously cutting out circles of dough, I decided to make the rest into scones. I just rolled the remaining dough into a circle, patted it down slightly, and cut it into eight triangles. I think the texture of the dough fit the scones a little better; however, these scones were not as crumbly as store-bought scones. The problem may have been that I cut the butter too much into the flour since I had smaller than the advised “pea sized” balls of butter.

Although my first attempt at biscuits and scones wasn’t as successful as I had hoped, the products were still delicious. I will (rather unwillingly) admit that I ate all of the scones throughout the week. The small size of the scone made it the perfect snack or sweet addition to breakfast.

I took the biscuits to a barbecue, where they quickly vanished within 30 minutes of opening the container. Either they were extremely delicious or people were so ravenous that no one noticed their failures as biscuits. These biscuits are the perfect example of my theory that as long as you don’t burn whatever you’re baking, it’ll taste good. After all, baked goods are just mixtures of butter, sugar, and flour. Since that combination is so delicious, even if you mess up the recipe, you’ll still end up with a pretty tasty result. Messing up really only changes the texture of the baked good anyways. So, on that note, don’t be afraid to try baking. It’s pretty forgiving and usually, you’ll end up with a yummy product (assuming you didn’t burn it :P).

This post has been Yeastspotted.

Easier than braiding hair – Braided Lemon Bread

The second I saw this recipe for braided lemon bread from Smitten Kitchen, I knew I had to make it someday. I filed it away in my brain and waited for the opportune moment. So when I made too much lemon curd for the brioche crescent rolls, I secretly did this:

What I love about this recipe is that it’s so straightforward and easy yet yields a final product that is so intricately beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that everyone will believe that this braid was store-bought instead of homemade. For example, when I delivered the bread to my friends, they were all so impressed by it and were convinced that I had bought it rather than made it. I felt a little bad accepting their praises since it really was super easy to make.

Despite looking complicated to make, this bread is actually extremely simple. So much easier than french braiding hair, which I still can’t do. 😛 All you have to do is cut the sides into strips and alternately lay them over each other. Easy, right? Following Deb’s step-by-step photos doesn’t hurt either.

What’s also great about this recipe is that you can make the braid ahead of time, and then bake it right before you’re ready to serve it. I made the dough and braid the night before, then baked it the next morning, so it was nice and fresh for breakfast.

This bread is really delicious – my friends gobbled it up within 30 minutes. The soft, fluffiness of the bread is complemented with the tartness of the lemon curd. Since I didn’t have pearl sugar (I really need to invest in it, so I can make Liege waffles!), I sifted powder sugar on top. However, the cream cheese is rather unnoticeable. In fact, my brother couldn’t even taste it when he ate it. So I’d either increase the cream cheese filling or leave it out completely. The latter is probably better since the flavor of the lemon curd overpowers the cream cheese anyways. You could also exchange the lemon curd with any kind of curd or jam. I think raspberry jam would be a delicious alternative.

If you’re looking for a recipe to impress friends with, this is it. This lemon braid is perfect to bring to a brunch, like Deb did, or as a dessert to a dinner party. When your friends and family see this bread, they’ll praise you for your master baking skills and you’ll smile and say thanks, knowing that it was actually incredibly easy to make.

This post has been Yeastspotted and submitted to Bake Your Own Bread.

Fancy it up – Raspberry Goat Cheese Swirl Brownies

My friends and I love throwing themed dinner parties. Not only do they give us the opportunity to cook delicious food, but they also give us a great excuse to dress up. 🙂 A few weekends ago, we decided to host a fancy wine and cheese party since my friend Rachel had a gift certificate for French cheeses that was about to expire. She ordered several different types of cheeses, including Camembert, Roquefort, and Brie.

Our spread consisted of over ten cheeses, including a heart shaped Neufatel and ash covered goat cheese, several appetizers, and tomato basil fondue. And lots of wine. 🙂 All of these cheeses were delicious, except for the Roquefort in my opinion (but that’s probably because I’m not a fan of blue cheese). Because it was so hard for us to choose a favorite, we spent the evening tasting each cheese over and over again.

Knowing that there would be plenty of cheese and appetizers, I decided to bring a dessert. But I wanted to make one that used cheese in an untraditional way. So when I saw this recipe from Love and Lemons for raspberry goat cheese brownies, I knew I had the perfect dessert! The original recipe comes from The Kitchn, a website that I frequent daily, and calls for 2:1 ratio of goat cheese to cream cheese. However, upon reading the comments, I decided it was smarter to switch the ratio to 1:2. After all, even though it was a cheese party, my friends might not have liked eating goat cheese for dessert. 😛

I only made a quarter of the original recipe (half of Love and Lemon’s adapted recipe). Because I didn’t have any fresh or frozen raspberries on hand, I used raspberry jam instead and swirled dollops of it into the batter. The brownies were both fudgy and cakey and the cream cheese and goat cheese batter was delicious. The goat cheese was very subtle, adding only a slight tang to the cream cheese.

My friends agreed that the goat cheese wasn’t overpowering and added a nice, fancy twist to the traditional cream cheese brownie. The raspberry jam also adds beautiful streaks of bright red to the brownies, but to be honest, I couldn’t really taste the jam.

Good wine, good cheese, and good friends. Sometimes that’s all you need for a perfect Friday night. Hosting that wine and cheese party added a nice little kick to our normal schedule. Just like the subtle tanginess that goat cheese gave to those brownies.

Raspberry and Goat Cheese Swirl Brownies
Adapted from Love and Lemons and the Kitchn (I made 1/2 a batch of these)

Brownies
5 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1/4 cup milk
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Raspberry Goat Cheese Swirl
2 ounces goat cheese, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 egg
1/8 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Raspberry jam (I was lazy, but you could use fresh raspberries)

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF and lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan. (Since I made a small batch, I used a smaller pan).
2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a glass bowl placed over a simmering pot of water. Make sure the glass bowl does not touch the water. (This is the double boiler technique). I was lazy and used the microwave, but be careful if you do this, you don’t want to burn the chocolate!
3. When the chocolate is completely melted, remove from the heat, whisk in the milk, and cool for about 5 minutes. Stir in the sugar and vanilla. Stir in the eggs one by one.
4. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt and fold in until just combined. Pour the batter into the greased baking pan.
5. Using a stand or hand mixer, beat the goat cheese with the cream cheese, butter, egg, sugar, and vanilla extract until light and fluffy.
6. Drop dollops of the goat cheese mixture and raspberry jam on top of the brownie batter, then swirl through the batter with a knife. Be careful not to swirl too much!
7. Bake for 30 minutes or until just barely set. The top will be just turning light brown and the sides of the brownies will pull away from the pan. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing.
According to the Kitchn, “the flavor and texture of these brownies really bloom when you let them rest overnight.” So try to make these the night before and resist eating them right away.