Saturday, September 4, 2010
19261 Colima Rd
Rowland Heights, CA 91748
With its high chinese population, Rowland Heights has chinese bakeries aplenty. I like most of the bakery chains in the area, but one little bakery caught my attention because they make crab and pig shaped breads, something the standard chinese bakery does not offer.
On a recent trip to RH, I specifically visited NiNi bakery to try their crab shaped breads. The bakery is quite small, and offers a variety of breads and cakes. The bread variety offered is kind of on the small side. Most of the breads are standard plain buns, which is the same type of bread used to make the crab and pig shaped breads, but with variations on that bread.
These breads have a firmer texture than traditional chinese breads, which are known for their softness. The crust is firm and brown, which I'm guessing makes it easier to make the animal shapes. I really liked how the crab shaped ones looked. I thought they were so cute, and they even had skinny little bread legs.
The taste was just okay. It tasted like chinese bread, though the firmer types of chinese breads, and I prefer the softer ones. Nothing else about the selection of NiNi's really stood out for me, so I didn't buy anything else.
Most likely, I will visit other bakeries for my chinese bread cravings, but I might stop by here again for the cuteness factor.
Friday, September 3, 2010
The Crumpet Shop
1503 1st Ave
Seattle, WA 98101
Located within the Pike Place Market, this quaint little shop was one of the highlights of my Seattle trip, and therefore, deserving of its own post. I'd never had crumpets prior to this visit, but I had read and drooled over Gastronomer's post on them when she went to Seattle. She loved them so much that she came back and promptly purchased some crumpet rings to make her own crumpets.
I realize of course that crumpets are not synonymous with Seattle, but some Seattleites were smart enough to open a crumpet shop serving good crumpets in Seattle, something that should exist in every city.
For those of you who've never had a crumpet, I would describe them as a cross between a pancake and an American English muffin. When you bite into the crumpet, the inside looks like a pancake with its little airholes within the batter. It tastes similar to a pancake, but is chewier, firmer and denser, and slightly salty. It is treated very much the way we treat our English muffins: can be eaten like a sandwich, topped with eggs and ham, spread with jam, etc.
The shop is quite small, but has a smattering of seats throughout, as well as some seats outdoors. No matter what time of day, this place seems to be packed. The staff is really friendly and always willing to describe what a crumpet is. You can watch the crumpets being made from the outside window as well.
On our first visit, we chose to order one sweet and one savory crumpet. You can watch as the employees make the crumpets after you order them.
We sampled a pesto, tomato and mozzarella cheese one. I'm a huge fan of anything pesto, so I liked this. The crumpet was toasted so it was nice and crunchy. The pesto, tomato and cheese went nicely with the crumpet. BF absolutely adored this one.
Our next one was a sweet one: topped with ricotta cheese, honey and slices of almonds. I've recently had a thing for honey and love things with honey. So of course, this was perfect for me. The ricotta cheese helped to counter the sweetness of the honey and everything worked well together. I was surprised at how well the crumpet batter worked with both savory and sweet toppings.
BF found this one a little too sweet and preferred the pesto one.
We had arrived here for a quick snack before our Pike Place eating tour, so we didn't want to eat too much. But after devouring our two crumpets, we wanted more. BF especially wanted another one. One thing we learned on this trip is that walking really works up an appetite. One of the nice things about Seattle is that the bus travels anywhere downtown for free. But we chose to walk to most of our destinations as it let us see more and the walk wasn't too bad. We soon discovered that we were able to consume quite a bit more food than we usually can.
So we chose a third crumpet, this one topped with pesto infused eggs. Again, it tasted delicious.
We loved The Crumpet shop so much that we came back our last morning in Seattle to pick up some crumpets to go (they sell packages of them to go, but only if they have enough), and to eat a few more final crumpets.
We again ordered the pesto tomato crumpet.
We also tried the ricotta and boysenberry preserves crumpet.
We left quite happy with our last meal. I munched on the bag of crumpets we got to go. They tasted good even plain, though I prefer them toasted and with some sort of spread.
Friday, September 3, 2010
I love vanilla bean desserts. And I love seeing the little specks of vanilla bean, especially in vanilla ice cream. But vanilla beans are expensive. So I normally don't bake with them, instead opting to use vanilla extract. Then I found out about vanilla bean paste, which is a blend of the two, and contains real vanilla beans, so that when you use it, you will have little flecks of vanilla bean in your desserts. The taste of the vanilla bean paste is stronger than vanilla extract too.
I purchased my vanilla bean paste from amazon. I purchased the.LorAnn Extracts Natural Madagascar Vanilla Bean Paste.
You use the vanilla bean paste the same as you would use vanilla extract, and use the same measurements.
After my vanilla bean paste arrived, I thought about what I wanted to bake. I wanted something that would show off the flecks. Week of menus has made a vanilla bean mochi cake. I didn't use the same mochi recipe, instead I stuck to the mochi cake recipe I usually use, but I got the idea of vanilla bean mochi from her.
I love the little specks which show when you cut the mochi into squares. The vanilla flavor comes out wonderfully with this paste. I can't want to make more vanilla bean desserts.
Vanilla Bean Mochi
1 cup butter, melted
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, beaten
2 tsp. baking powder
16 oz. box Mochiko flour
1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
Preheat over to 350 F. Cream the butter with sugar.
2. Beat in the evaporated milk to the butter/sugar mixture.
3. Beat eggs into the mixture.
4. Beat in the rice flour, baking powder and vanilla bean paste.
5. Pour batter into a 9x 13 inch pan.
6. Bake for about 1 hour, until an inserted toothpick comes out
7. Cool completely before cutting into squares and serving.