Friday, August 20, 2010
I really love turtles. I'm always collecting turtle things. Two weeks ago when I was making soft pretzels, I thought about whether I could make turtle shaped ones. So I did some experimenting.
At first, I was just going to make one big lump for the shell, and some small pieces stuck to the big circle to form the head, feet, and tail. Then I thought to make the shell more fancy looking by making it into a spiral shape. I wanted to use black sesame seeds for the eyes, but I didn't have any on me. I searched for something black and eventually found some black sesame paste.
You can probably use almost anything for the eyes. Maybe some chocolate. Some of the turtles came out better than others. It was hard to keep the feet and head pieces attached to the shell. When I dipped some of the turtles in the baking soda water, sometimes the small pieces fell off, and then I had to reattach them.
The small pieces also cooked much faster. So some of the feet and head parts look slightly too dark around the edges. Overall, I thought these came out pretty cute and I'll probably try it some other time and try to perfect it.
Soft Pretzels (adapted from Little Corner of Mine)
Yields: 12 small sized pretzels
2 tsp. active dry yeast
pinch of sugar
2/3 cup + 1 Tbsp. warm water
2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. oil
3 Tbsp. baking soda
1 cup hot water
1. Dissolve yeast into water with a pinch of sugar, let stand 10
minutes, until the mixture is creamy colored. Mix the yeast mixture with
flour, sugar, salt and canola oil, and knead until combined (about 5
2. Transfer the dough in a greased
bowl, cover with cling wrap and let it rest until double in size. Time
needed depends on the temperature in your kitchen. We let our dough
rise about an hour and a half.
3. When the dough has doubled in
size, divide into 12 balls. Take one ball and roll it into a long
strand. Set aside. Repeat with the rest of the dough. After all 12 long
strands are rolled out, take the first one and stretch it out again and
twist it into a pretzel shape and place on the parchment paper. Repeat
and finish the rest. If you want to make turtle shapes, take one strand, and take off a small part of the strand, enough to make the tail, legs and head. With the rest of the strand, roll into a spiral shape. Then connect the head, tail and leg pieces. Use something dark to stick on the face piece for the eyes like black sesame seeds or chocolate chips.
4. Mix baking soda with hot water (close to boiling). Dip each pretzel into the mixture
and place it back on the parchment paper. You can then sprinkle the pretzels with sea
salt or cinnamon (for sweet pretzels).
5. Bake for 8 minutes at 425 F or until golden brown.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
7330 Clairemont Mesa Blvd, #102
San Diego, CA
168 Restaurant is a small Taiwanese cafe located inside Ranch 99 supermarket. It’s one of the few spots in San Diego that serves Taiwanese food. I used to come here every so often, before or after shopping at Ranch 99, or when I was missing Taiwanese cuisine.
However, since finding some great Taiwanese eats in LA, I haven’t been back here in a while. We decided to pay a visit for a late lunch this weekend.
The menu selection here is quite large, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are capable of making all the dishes they offer well. The menu offers a lot of my favorite Taiwanese snacks, but I’ve tried a few of them and wasn’t very happy with how they were. So now I pretty much avoid their Taiwanese cuisine section.
We ordered the Yang Chow Fried Rice, which is one of the dishes I really do like here. I think it has just the right amount of oil and saltiness.
We ordered the fried stinky tofu. I remember enjoying this more before, but this time I found that the tofu was barely fermented. It tasted almost like regular fried tofu.
We also ordered the pork chitterlings with pork blood. The dish is served bubbling and boiling. There is usually sour pickled vegetables, green onions, tofu, pork chitterling and pork blood.
Since our last trip to 168, they’ve done some renovation and spruced up the place. They also now offer a variety of milk tea and slush drinks. BF got a Thai milk tea. I got a taro milk tea.
While I don’t love the food here, I do enjoy coming here occasionally. The staff is always nice and I love hearing the Taiwanese dialect being spoken.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
When I was younger, I used to love peanut butter flavored foods. Forced to choose one favorite candy, and mine was Reese's peanut butter cups. But somehow, in the last few years, my taste buds have changed and I no longer enjoy peanut butter flavored foods. I still eat peanut butter with bread, but I don't like peanut butter cookies or anything else that is peanut butter flavored. I don't know why.
When I saw a recipe for peanut butter banana cake on Little Corner of Mine, I thought the flavor combination would taste great. I remember enjoying peanut butter with bananas as a child. I thought perhaps making these muffins would make me like peanut butter flavored desserts again.
These muffins were pretty easy to make and only use a little peanut butter, but you can definitely taste it in the muffin. Unfortunately, the taste of the peanut butter prevented me from enjoying these muffins. So I guess I'm not over my dislike of peanut butter phase. But this shouldn't stop others from making this recipe.
The muffin is moist and I like the sprinkling of chocolate chips.
Peanut butter Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins (adapted from Little Corner of Mine)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup canola oil (or vegetable oil)
1 large egg
1/4 cup milk
2 bananas, smashed
2 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, separate (or as needed)
1. Preheat the oven to 350'F.
2. In a big bowl, hand whisk together (A). Add in (B), whisk until well blended.
3. Take half of the chocolate chips and mix in with the batter. Decorate the other half on top of the batter.
4. Pour batter 2/3 full in muffin pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean.