Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cinnamon flavored white rolls

Took the kids to the local library again. Couldn't resist taking home- Dough: Simple Contemporary Bread by Richard Bertinet. His method of making bread was to incorporate air into the wet dough by pulling and stretching the dough while slapping it down on the kitchen counter a few times until the dough is smooth and elastic. This process took me 15 minutes and 2 very sore wrists. The end product is a soft and airy bread with a nice crust.
This book talked about different kinds of dough like white, olive oil, rye, whole wheat and sweet dough. It also talked about different ways to shape the dough. For this recipe, I used the white dough method. These cinnamon flavored white rolls taste great and are much healthier than the gooey and sticky regular cinnamon buns. Makes my kitchen smells so warm and heavenly on a cold, rainy night like last night.

Ingredients for white dough:-
3 1/2 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups + 2 tbsps (I used 13 fl ounces) of water
2 tsps of salt
1 1/2 tsps of dry yeast

6 tsps of granulated sugar mixed with 2 tsps of cinnamon powder
2 tbsps of melted butter
Cooking spray
1. In a large mixing bowl, mix flour and yeast by hand. Add water and salt and mix until a wet and sticky dough forms.
2. Remove the dough from bowl and place on a clean, unfloured kitchen countertop. Shape loosely into a rectangle form. Pull up one end of the dough and strectch the dough as far as it will go without breaking off before slapping it down, away from you. Rotate dough at 1/4 quarter turn and repeat this process for 10 to 15 minutes until the dough comes together. At the end of this process, the dough will no longer be wet and sticky but smooth and elastic.
3. Flour the top of the dough slightly and place in a lightly floured large mixing bowl. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and place bowl in a warm place. Let dough rise for 1 hour or doubled in size.
4. Spray a baking sheet or casserole dish with cooking spray. Roll out dough into a 2 inch cylinder on a lightly floured kitchen countertop. Divide into 12 pieces. Take 1 piece of dough and stretch into a disc shape. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp of cinnamon sugar mixture in the middle of dough. Shape into a ball by folding one edge of dough into the center of dough and press down with your thumb or fingers. Rotate the disc slightly while pulling another edge over the first edge and press down again. Repeat until all edges are sealed into the dough. Place the rolls seam side down on a lightly greased baking sheet or casserole. I was able to place 7 rolls onto my casserole and the rest on a baking sheet. Let the rolls sit for 30 minutes before baking. It may still continue to rise at this point.
5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Brush the top of the rolls with melted butter. Place baking sheet or casserole dish onto the middle rack of oven and bake for 40 minutes until golden. Remove from oven and let cool on cooling rack. Spread rolls with more butter if you like. It is tasty indeed.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Antibiotics- not a cure all !

For some reasons, a lot of people have the misconception that antibiotics can pretty much cure anything or everything that are ailing them. For example, somebody with sore throat, itchy throat, cough, stomach flu, toothache, foot pain with no open wounds, stomach pain, diarrhea, headache, bodyache, and etc, would request for antbiotics. A lot of these symptoms do not require antibiotics.

I get requests from customers every single day for antibiotics. The conversation will go something like this:-
Customer: I don't want to see my doctor. I have a sore throat. I don't have a fever. Just get me some antibiotics.
Me: As much as I would like to make a few dollars off of you, I can't sell the antibiotics without a prescription.  Antibiotics help with bacterial infections. If you do not have bacterial infections, you are  medicating yourself unnecessarily. Even if you have a cold that's most likely due to viral infection, you do not need an antibiotic. You need hydration and rest while your body recuperate.
Customer: Well, I only need it for a few days. I know if I take it for 3 days, I'll feel better.
Me: Well, most sore throat goes away by itself after 3 days. Besides, your sore throat could be due to allergies, irritants or something else. If you have a fever, then maybe you should go to the doctor.
Customer: No, I don't want to spend money to see a doctor. Look, I'll just pay you cash.
Me: Sorry, still can't sell the antibiotics to you without a prescription.

There are reasons why antibiotics are prescription item. Antibiotics should only be used as indicated per your doctor's discretion. It's not candy that you can simply pop into your mouth to feel good. It's not a cure all. Do not self medicate unnecessarily.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Pork pastry

This recipe is adapted from the recipe book, Chinese Dim Sum by Wei-chuan. It utilizes 2 types of dough to yield a crusty and flaky skin. The original recipe calls for lard or shortening for the dough. Since I don't have neither, I decided to use butter instead. It is still delicious. The fillings used can be savory (meat, seafood, vegetables) as in  appetizers or sweet (red bean paste, taro paste, lotus paste, custard fillings, etc) for desserts.

Outer dough ingredients:-
2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1/2 cup of water
1 tsp of salt
1/4 cup of melted unsweetened butter

Interior dough (flaky) ingredients:-
1 cup of all purpose flour
1/2 cup of softened unsweetened butter

Filling ingredients:-
1 lb of ground pork ( rinsed twice with cold water and drained- meat should be moist, not soaking wet)
3 stalks of scallions, chopped finely
1/2 tsp of cornstarch
1 tbsp of sesame oil
2 tbsp of light soy sauce
1 tsp each of salt and white pepper

1 egg lightly beaten
1/4 cup of toasted white sesame seeds (optional)

1. Using a spoon, mix filling ingredients in a large bowl in one direction until smooth about 2-3 minutes. Wrap bowl with plastic wrap and let sit in the fridge for an hour or overnight up to 12 hours.
2. To make the outer dough, mix its ingredients in a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment at low speed for 1 minute then increase speed to medium and let knead until smooth about 5 minutes. Set dough aside and let rest for 30 minutes.
3. In a medium bowl, mix the flaky dough ingredients with your hands. Dough will be slightly crumbly. Sprinkle a little flour to shape it into 1/2 inch cylinder and divide into 24 portions.
4. Take the outer dough and divide into 3 portions. Roll each portion into 1 inch cylinder on a floured surface and cut into 8 pieces each.
5. Wrap 1 piece of flaky dough inside each piece of outer dough. Roll out the pastry dough and fold into thirds. Repeat this process two more times before shaping the dough into a ball. Flatten the dough and roll out thin into 4 inches diameter round discs.
6. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Wrap 1 tbsp of  meat filling in the middle of  each pastry  dough and pinch the seams close. Place the pastries with their seams side down on the cookie sheet.
7. Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit. Brush each pastry with the egg wash and sprinkle sesame seeds on top. Place the pastries in the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until golden. Let cool slightly before serving.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Easy Brioche

Took the kids to the local library recently and found myself a baking book called Artisan Bread In Five Minutes A Day. This book is great for beginner bakers like me since it simplifies the process of making bread from scratch and no kneading necessary. No mixer is needed since the flour mixture can be mixed by hand. Along the way, I learned that adding sugar helps the yeast to grow while adding salt directly to the yeast kills it. I halve the recipe amount and used parchment paper lined baking sheet instead of baking stone to bake since I don't have one. The brioche turned out tasting better than the last attempt.

Ingredients (yields about two 1 pound loves) :-
3/4 cup of lukewarm water
3/4 tablespoons of granulated yeast
3/4 tablespoons of kosher salt
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup of honey
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) of unsalted butter, melted
3 1/4 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour
Egg wash ( 1egg beaten with 1 tbsp of water)

1. Dissolve yeast in the water. Set aside. Add salt, eggs, honey and melted butter to a 5-quart bowl, or lidded (not airtight) food container.
2. Mix in the flour and yeast, using a spoon until all of the flour is incorporated.
3. Cover (not airtight) with lid, and allow to sit at room temperature for about two hours before refrigerating the dough overnight, again covered but not airtight.
4. When you are ready to bake, divide the dough in half and sprinkle flour on the surface of dough. Shape the dough into a ball or oval loaf ( I braided mine), sprinkling just enough flour to make it more workable. Place shaped dough onto floured parchment paper and let sit for 1 1/2 hrs, uncovered.
5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Heat the empty baking sheet in the preheated oven. In the meantime, brush the dough with egg wash before placing it on the hot baking sheet. Bake on the centre rack for 35 to 40 minutes or until medium golden brown. Let cool before serving.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Sorry, no psychic here.

I work in healthcare.There are days when  my customers make me laugh and there are days when they make me scratch my head. Case in point, a new customer wanting to use his new health insurance to buy an item in the store. Of course, he didn't have his insurance card nor did he know what insurance ompany he had. He was like, "Can't you just bill my insurance?" I could if you at least know the insurance company's name! I'm no psychic, alright. I can't just pull your insurance company name out of the many hats that I wear at all times.

The Food Revolution

Just came across this website- Great foundation with a very important mission to overhaul unhealthy school lunch practices all over the world. I cringe every time I look at my kids's weekly school lunch menu. Corn dogs, hamburgers, and pizzas are regular items. Sometimes, I see salisbury steak, chicken sandwich, chicken nuggets, spaghetti, tostadas, etc. Of course, none of these meals look or taste the way they're supposed to be.  The kids may or may not eat them. A lot of these lunches are wasted. I definitely think kids deserve better school lunches especially since childhood obesity and juvenile diabetes are on the rise. So, do sign up to join this foundation.