Monday, March 30, 2009

Good Morning China!

You Tiao, known in English as Chinese cruller, is a fried bread stick. The dough is made into a long strip, deep fried and eaten for breakfast or lunch. It can be lightly salted and it is often dipped in soy milk.
I browsed through different recipes and strangely enough, all of them require powdered ammonia. Why?? I'm guessing it's used as a dough improver of some kind, anyhow, I decided I would go on, minus ammonia. These turned out delicious!

Here's my simplified version of the recipe:

You Tiao - Chinese Crullers
350 g of flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
2 teaspoons of instant yeast
1 teaspoon of salt
250 ml of water

Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl, add lukewarm water and mix until there are no more dry bits of flour. Turn into a lightly floured surface and start kneading for about 10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic. If it's too sticky, sprinkle with a little flour.

Shaping the dough is a little tricky to explain, but I got a little help from this video on Youtube. As an end note, do not let the dough rise again after the final shaping (stretching), otherwise, the strip will rip.

It turned out really tasty and the kids loved it!
I served it with warm strawberry flavored soy milk.
These You Tiao also doubled as a snack in the afternoon!

<-----Here's Eitan, dunking his you tiao.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Worldly Breakfasts Part 2 - French Crêpes

A crêpe is a type of very thin, cooked pancake usually made from wheat flour. The word, like the pancake itself, is of French origin, deriving from the Latin crispa, meaning "curled." While crêpes originate from Bretagne, a region in the northwest of France, their consumption is nowadays widespread in France and it is considered a national dish. In Bretagne, crêpes are traditionally served with cider. Crêpes are served with a variety of fillings, from the most simple with only sugar to flambéed crêpes Suzette or elaborate savoury fillings.

This is so tasty and versatile! Tilting the pan can be a bit tricky though.
I don't usually follow a recipe for crêpes, because I have done it so many times. But here's one that's tried and true.

It's a recipe from the book "Pâtisseries Maison" by Florence Edelmann.

Crêpes - Bretagne
Serves: 4 to 6 people

250g of flour
20 g of powdered sugar
1 coffee spoon of vanilla
pinch of salt
2 whole eggs
50cl of milk

I highly recommend adding 2 tablespoons of canola oil or melted butter to the batter, otherwise, the crêpes will stick very easily to the pan (even a non-stick pan!).

For the sake of simplicity, the recipe was simplified:

1. Whisk everything together.

2. Lightly coat the pan with oil and heat to medium/hot
3. Now, pick the pan in one hand, and drop a laddle of batter with your other hand in the upper part of the pan. Start tilting the pan so that the batter thinly covers the whole bottom.
As a side note, my first crepe nevers comes out right and I usually add a bit of water to the batter to make it more spreadable. Remember, this is not pancake batter! It's supposed to be very fluid.
When it's nice and golden, flip it and cook the other side (less time).
Result: a thin, soft texture and crispy edges. Yum!

Any better way of starting the week?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

English Muffin Turned Pizza?

I had way too much dough left from that last batch of English Muffins and I just had to show you all how it turned out into a great pan-style mushroom pizza.
Kids raved about it and I must say, this dough kept in the fridge for 4 days and the flavor and texture just improved. One thing though, after rolling out the dough, you should let it rise for at least 20 minutes before putting the toppings and baking.
Cook in the oven's second top rack, 230 degrees Celsius for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown (depending on how much topping are added).

Monday, March 16, 2009

Toddler friendly Around the World Breakfast - Part 1 - English Muffins

It's been a couple of weeks now, I decided to introduce my 2 toddlers to the wonders of culinary goodies and breakfast sounded like a good time to put it to work.
Today, I decided to make them English Muffins.
Now you must know I am a born tweaker and unless I'm completely unfamiliar with what I'm getting myself into, chances are, some steps will be cut off.
This time, I set myself on making some English Muffins and these are, I assure you, the easiest EVER. You don't need any experience or expensive equipment, beside your precious bare hands. Your kids can also help cutting up the shapes too!
These will be ready for tomorrow morning.

Easy English Muffins (makes about 16-18)
6 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of active yeast
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of warm water
1 cup of warm milk
1/4 cup of canola oil

Mix the dry ingredients in a large tupperware. (the dough will rise in it)
Mix the wet ingredients and add it to the flour mix.

Now start mixing with your hand or a wooden spoon until you don't see anymore dry bits of flour. If the dough seems too dry, add a little water to adjust.
You should now have what looks like a ragged semi-soft ball of dough.

Cover your tupperware and leave it to rest for 2 hours in a warm spot.
After this time, your dough will nearly have trippled.
Put the tupperware in the fridge and forget about it until tomorrow morning (the texture and flavor will develop over night!).

Take the dough out the fridge and start working!
Take as much dough as you intend to make and work it on a a well floured countertop. Do it VERY gently, just to form a ball and with a rolling pin, roll out until it's 3/8″ thick, more if you like thicker muffins. Dust some more flour when needed.

With a cookie cutter or anything the size of a tuna can, cut out the circles and place them on a large tray, lined with waxed paper and dusted with a good handful of corn flour.
Don't over crowd your tray! Use two if necessary, otherwise they will stick together when raising.
You can also let your toddler cut up the shapes.

Dust some more corn flour on top of the muffins, cover them with a dish cloth and leave them to raise for 30 minutes, preferably in a warm place.

Now, heat up your griddle to medium/low heat and rub it with a little bit of oil on the bottom.
Cook the muffins for about 10 minutes on each side. And keep them warm in the oven until you are done.

ps: if you don't have time or need for making that many muffins, use only part of the dough and keep the rest in the fridge. This dough can keep for up to 4 days without any problem! You can make fresh muffins everyday in just minutes if you like.


And so it begins...

Tel Aviv morningI can fairly say I am still a stranger in this land.
The language still challenges me and people are not as polite and diplomatic as they were back in Europe. Which does not imply that any is better than the other, but Israel is not for the faint of heart.
I have been away from my family for nearly 6 years and there are days when I feel out of touch. On the other side of the balance, I'm happily married with 2 toddlers which I have to keep up with. I love cooking for them and I often find myself hoping that they will always prefer my cooking over a BigMac.
I'm one of those "do it from scratch" kind of gal and I must say I have been enjoying every bit of the ride. I'm a proud green, DIY nut.