Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Market for Tapioca Pearls

I love how the strawberry looks HUMONGO. From bottom to top: organic tapioca "seeds", pineapple puree, strawberry puree, coconut milk (sweetened and blended with ice)


There is a large market for tapioca pearls meant for bubble tea/boba. Of course, by large market, I mean ME. But possibly many other Asians in this area have been on a search for the large, chewy orbs that are tapioca pearls (again, the large ones used in bubble tea). I've been hooked since I had bubble tea at the well-known TT Lounge, the only boba establishment in Richmond, many years ago. The pearls, which come in many colors, are glutinous like rice cake but are made from the cassava/yucca plant.. So pleasant to chew on while slurping slushy/milk tea. I MUST HAVE! Please start selling them in grocery stores or at least in the shoddy, tiny Asian grocery stores that are located way too far away. I'll probably resort to buying online soon..


P.S. I had to make my boba concoction with the really tiny "seed" sized tapioca pearls sold in the baking section (it's gluten free!). I went to four different grocery stores, including an Asian one out of my way. Then, I drove 30 mins to Whole Foods and bought these overpriced buggers. Oh well.

A close-up of the tapioca... Don't be put off by their "frog eggs" look... They're delicious and have a fun texture :) You can mix the drink and scoop up with a spoon (or drink it through a straw), or eat layer by layer..

Whisked away to the islands with such tropical flavors.. Sippin' as the sun goes down...

Random food fact: If you put a raisin in a fresh glass of champagne, it will rise and fall continuously.


Monday, May 25, 2009

Orange you glad...

...I'm writing a new entry?



Happy Memorial Day, everyone. If you've forgotten, this federal holiday is to honor everyone who has passed away while serving in the military. Originally, the day was to honor Union soldiers who died fighting in the Civil War. Random tidbit..

This weekend I've been candying citrus peels... These gorgeous treats can make elegant garnishes on cakes, ice cream, cocktails, and more. My family and I just eat them straight. They have a beautiful citrusy taste, a slight crunch and no bitterness. First, I started with lemon rinds, but my grandmother took ALL of them to her room before my family and I could enjoy much of it. It was too awkward to go in there and ask for some back.

Then I snatched up the peel of an orange my dad was eating yesterday and candied that too! And lastly, I candied some lemon slices just for kicks.

The "candying" process is really simple. It only requires three ingredients. Water, sugar and whatever's being candied. You basically boil the citrus in sugar water til it's saturated, and toss in sugar afterward for a sparkling, crystalline finish. Dipping in chocolate afterward is optional, but I went with it since I had a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips lying around.

Candied Citrus Peels

* Citrus peels, cut into thin strips and free of pith (causes bitterness)
* Water
* Sugar

1. Bring the peels to a boil in enough water that all peels are submerged and there's about an inch more water on top.

2. When water comes to a boil, drain and repeat the process 2 more times (this can be skipped if you're in a hurry or you have absolutely NO pith on the peels.. it's mostly to boil out bitterness).
3. Drain the peels after repeating and set aside. Combine equal parts water and sugar in pot and stir until sugar completely dissolves (I use about 2 cups each for 3 lemons or 2 oranges).
4. Add peels and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer like this for 30-45 minutes.
5. Drain peels and set to cool/dry. Then toss in sugar and set aside to harden up. You can use the simple syrup you just created for cocktails, teas, lemonades, or other recipes :D

The process is even easier for slices. You should place slices in equal parts sugar and water (once again, dissolved) TWICE at a low simmer, for 15 minutes the first time and 30 minutes the next. Allow for 10 minutes resting time in between.

Excuse this entry's lack of cohesion, but here's a test shot in a light box I finally got around to making. It's not too crappy for some tissue paper, a cardboard box, and a dying point and shoot. Toodles.

Random food fact: Refried beans are only fried once. The reason for this misconception is a translation error. "Frijoles refritos" really means "well-fried beans."


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A childhood favorite: chapssal dduk/tteok

Known as chapssal dduk/tteok (찹쌀떡) in Korean or daifuku mochi (大福餅) in Japanese, red bean-filled rice cakes are a childhood favorite of mine. My grandmother and the other women in the family would get together before special occasions to make these glutinous rice balls and other types of rice cakes all day. They'd make this labor of love from scratch, slapping the hot, white glob of rice flour batter with a rice paddle til it firmed up enough to work with.

The dduk was used to prepare different versions of the confectionary... Some covered in savory black sesame powder, some mixed and dipped in herby green tea or mugwort powder, some filled with decadent chestnut paste. And then there were these... Dduk filled with sweet red bean paste.

Dduk is so sticky (no, seriously.. sweet/glutinous rice flour + water + microwave/steam = most difficult stuff you'll ever handle) that it has to be rolled in starch, confectioner's sugar, or sesame oil when preparing. Here, it is dusted with starch like I remember back in the day.

The most prized affirmation when it comes to these babies definitely came from the G-Unit herself. She saw them on the counter just now and asked me how I'd made these (I guess she didn't know we had all the ingredients, as I didn't either until I was rummaging through the pantry last night at 2am) and popped one in her mouth.

"으와~ 맛있다 (wow! it tastes goood)!!" she said with a smile.

Making them was all worth it.

Random food fact: Fortune cookies were invented in 1916 by George Jung, a Los Angeles noodle maker.


Friday, May 15, 2009

Sesame Ice Cream

A little melty... oops.

Custard-based sesame seed ice cream-- well, I guess it's frozen custard, then, huh? Whatever. You don't need an ice cream machine to make frozen treats! Freezing concept is similar to making granita, except you whisk/mix instead of scrape...

Recipe here.

Random food fact: The Romans considered beet juice to be an aphrodisiac.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Afternoon Snack feat. Homemade Butter

Doesn't my entry title sound like a song title? "Afternoon Snack" featuring artist Homemade Butter. Haw-haw-haw. I crack [only] myself up.

Sorry it's been a while. I feel like I start way too many entries with the same apology. My camera battery died right after my last entry, and I left my charger at home. So no pictures of my last days @ the university. Sadness..

Finals are over, THANK THE GRACIOUS LORD! Although I didn't do as well as I wanted, I deserve all the grades I receive (except maybe for ECON. But I'm not gonna whine anymore). Now I'm back in the comforts of my own home! No more dingy bed used by dozens of previous students, no more sharing of unhygienic toilet stalls and "showers," etc. Mmmm. And MY KITCHEN! O, HOW I'VE MISSED YOU!!!!!

On to my snack. I wasn't all too hungry, but I knew I had a carton of heavy cream in the fridge from Mother's Day dinner (which I didn't take photos of. Cooking and Mom deserved all the attention that day!). I didn't have anything to top with whipped cream, so that idea flew out the window with the quickness. I recalled seeing many Tastespottings of homemade butter, so I thought I'd give it a go w/ the additions of dried rosemary and fresh garlic.

The last time I made butter was in elementary school as a class project. Today's butter was a nice way to refresh and upgrade this memory. I used it to flavor some dinner rolls I found on the kitchen counter, and let me tell you... This butter was creamy, not waxy or laden with preservatives/chemicals, and absolutely easy. I sat here wondering why I ever bought butter from the store (and then I remembered I'm lazy). Try it sometime just for fun, if not to eat something simply delicious and better for you (not that butter will ever be "healthy").

I toasted up some rolls w/ the butter and put a slice of tomato on top of each. The crispy, herby bread straight out of the pan combines with the cool, tangy tomato to create magic in your mouf. Beleeh dat.

Homemade rosemary-garlic butter

*heavy whipping cream
*some good salt (if you want)
*dried rosemary
*fresh garlic, minced
*any other flavorings of your choice (in addition to, or in place of, the above)

This is the ghetto way I made my butter in under 10 minutes.

1. Pour heavy cream into a jar with a lid or tupperware with a tightly sealing top. Shake constantly, like you're making yourself the best darn martini in the world.

Note: After a certain point, your cream may be extremely hard to shake because it becomes a thick sludgy texture. This is right before the butter separates from the liquid. Don't fret, just keep shaking!

2. After a while, you'll see that the butter has started to form and separate from a milky liquid (also known as buttermilk! Well, kinda. I'll explain more at the end). Shake a while longer, then strain your butter by using a cheesecloth or something similar.

3. Squeeze the remaining liquid out of the butter, then rinse/knead the butter under cold water to prolong shelflife.

4. Add salt, rosemary, garlic, or whatever else. Refridgerate for about an hour for a firm butter, or use right away!

Alright. So, that is the most basic butter recipe. A lot of butters are made with slightly soured/cultured cream, which gives the resulting butter a more complex flavor. This is to mimic the flavor of churned butter from the olden days, when cream was slightly soured by the time people gathered enough to start making a batch of butter. If you wanna try that out, just add a tsp or two of plain yogurt to your cream and let it sit for a while. Then proceed with the recipe above. You can use THAT resulting buttermilk for any recipes calling for conventional buttermilk.

Random food fact of the day: Children under the age of one should not consume honey, as it carries spores that can cause infant botulism.