Oolong Tea Blondies

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Oolong Tea Blondies
Oolong Tea Blondies
Oolong Tea Blondies
Oolong Tea Blondies
Oolong Tea Blondies

Hey, hey, hey!! How was your weekend?? Did you have to work on President's day? Did you stuff your bellies full of dumplings and noodles on Chinese New Year?!

I had a pretty swell weekend! Well it's technically still going on. It is Monday/President's Day. I am sitting at a tiny cafe table at the Sierra Ski Resort up in Tahoe. I am not skiing. Because I hate skiing and I'm not very good at it. But Reuben is having a great time though. Zipping through the snow, doing whatever skiers do. The lodge smells like chicken fingers and donuts right now. It's terrible. Because I'm so full from just general eating this weekend and the idea of eating anymore makes me a little nauseous. But I LOVE chicken fingers and donuts. OH GOD, THERE ARE CHICKEN AND WAFFLES AT THE LODGE! Ugh, and the family behind me brought their own instant noodles for lunch! THE TORTURE.

(Ok focus - ignore the delicious and conflicting smells) 

I'm going to rewind our weekend just a smidge. One of my very best friends, Kate, made a last minute visit to San Francisco on Saturday. She is literally a ray of sunshine. Or maybe more like a cosmic light beam/rainbow hybrid. I had not seen her in like a year (or maybe even more?!). So I got to spend the day with her showing off my hood, making matcha popcorn (recipe coming up next week!), and celebrating Chinese New Year with a big old feast! We invited a few friends over, folded dumplings (I made my family's classic potstickers. THEY ARE SO GOOD. But I don't quite have the heart yet to share the recipe.....), sipped on some beers and wine, giggled alot, and ate until our bellies ached. It was so great. How Chinese New Year should be celebrated. It also made me incredibly happy to have other people fold dumplings for me, muahahahaha!

The next morning, Reub and I woke up early to drive to Sacramento. We planned a really weird weekend. Instead of paying a million dollars to stay in Tahoe over President's day weekend, we got a hotel room in the nicest hotel in Sacramento for the night. The nicest hotel in Sacramento is not that expensive... if you're looking for a weird vacation destination. We stopped in a cute coffee shop with waffles, drank beer at a brewery, had the best poke, watched the olympics in bed (IDEAL), and got Mexican food for dinner. Pretty much our typical vacation itinerary. The next morning, we woke up before the sun was up to drive to Tahoe. Which is where we are now. Suffocating from the smell of chicken fingers and donuts.  

Sorry, we should probably talk about these blondies now, right?? One of my favorite ingredients to bake with is tea. Matcha. Ceylon. Jasmine. Earl Grey. Green. Oolong. I love it all! Infusing baked goods with tea creates a really lovely and delicate flavor. It's not as in your face as coffee flavor can be. I found that the best way to get tea flavor is by infusing butter with loose tea leaves. Instead of steeping tea in hot water you steep tea in hot butter. Sounds great, right?!

The idea for these blondies have been dancing around in my head for a few weeks now. I originally wanted to make Oolong Tea Snack Cakes (think Hostess Snack Cake), but when the weekend came for me to make them I was really craving something slightly fudgey, chewy, and slightly chocolatey. Blondies! These blondies definitely satisfied my fudgey, chewy, and chocolatey craving!  Oolong tea is a darker full bodied tea, with beautiful caramel and floral notes. It pairs perfectly with chocolate and the little bits of pistachio. I think they are best after they have cooled and firmed up. Plus it makes it a lot easier to cut into perfect little bars or squares to dunk into some ice cold milk! They sort of taste like one of those giant chocolate chip cookies you always wished you bought from the mall. But better and fancier because you just infused butter like a pro!


Oolong Tea Blondies

makes 16 2" squares

steps:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line an 8"x8" baking pan with parchment paper.

Melt butter in a small saucepan over low to medium heat. Once butter is melted, add in loose leaf oolong tea. Heat the butter and tea leaves over low to medium heat for 5-8 minutes.

Remove the butter from the heat and pour butter and leaves into a fine mesh sieve over a heat proof bowl. Use a rubber spatula to gently press down on the leaves to get as much butter out as you can. Discard the tea leaves. Add the butter back into the sauce pan with the brown sugar and salt. Whisk over medium heat until the sugar is mostly dissolved, about 2 minutes.

Pour butter mixture into a large heat proof bowl. Allow butter to cool to about room temperature. Mix in eggs and vanilla until combined.

Sift together flour and baking soda in a medium bowl. Gradually add the flour mixture into the wet mixture, while mixing with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Add in chopped pistachios and chocolate until combined. The batter will be really thick.

Scrape the batter into baking dish and spread out with an offset spatula or back of your spoon so that the batter is evenly distributed.

Sprinkle flakey sea salt over the top. Place in the oven and bake for 18 to 22 minutes. Once golden brown, remove from the oven and allow the pan to cool completely on a wire rack.

Once cool, remove the blondies from the pan by pulling up on the parchment paper. Cut into squares and enjoy!

materials:

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
14 tbsp butter
1/3 cup loose oolong tea leaves
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1 tbsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pistachios
3/4 cup chopped semi-sweet chocolate
2 tsp flakey sea salt for topping


Adapted from Vanilla Bean Blog's Coffee Blondies!

Valentine's Day Marbled Sugar Cookies

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I. AM. SO. FULL. Of love! Just kidding. Sort of. Love ya, Reuben! Seriously, though... I'm so full, I feel like I'm going to pop. It has been a very big weekend of eating for us. What else is new?? We attended our 3rd annual Dim Sum Beer Brunch on Saturday. It's not a fancy beer pairing where each course has a beer perfectly selected to sip on. It is more like a giant feast where dumplings and peking duck is coming out every minute and everyone is crushing beers like they are college freshman. It's a lot of fun. The beer was provided by Fort Point Beer Company and the event was held at Hong Kong Lounge, which made things pretty convenient for us. It was a 10 minute walk from our apartment, so we were able to burn off like 2 dumplings. That's something! I love this event so much. It combines Reuben's love of beer and my love of dim sum. Plus we get to enjoy it with our friends and meet some kind new strangers too! I think bonding over dumplings is the best way to make new friends : )

On Sunday we feasted again. Where are my stretchy pants?? Our friend, Will, generously prepared for us and about a dozen of his other friends an enormous southern feast. I helped out in the kitchen by doing what I do best... frying balls. Balls of boudin, fried and breaded balls of pork sausage and rice. And I tried turducken for the first time! The concept of turducken sort of disgust me. The idea of an animal being stuffed inside of another animal... and then another animal. I but I tried it for the sake of food research! I liked it! It was an interesting medley of flavors and textures. The meal was big, porky, beany, turduckeny, and pudding-y. There was banana pudding and I almost died. I don't think I have told you this before, but I LOVE BANANA PUDDING. I find it so odd that I love it, because I am not a huge fan of soft desserts. I love me some crunch and crispy bits. But banana pudding is where I make an exception. I love the sweet spot where the custard has just softened the vanilla wafers. The best texture! I've never made banana pudding for myself before, due to fear of me sitting alone all night eating the entire thing until I puke. That's a real fear. So I was super excited when Will told me there would be banana pudding. I scooped myself a big glop of pudding, blissfully enjoyed every bite, and then realized that my stomach had reached it's limit. I'll wait another year to more banana pudding. Too dangerous. 

So this next week will be full of vegetables, low on carbs, and maybe some running. I have I told you I started running?? It's sort of awful but I sort of like it. Valentine's day is this Wednesday though, so we will probably have carbs and a few select vegetables that day. Reuben is making pizza! I'm sort of hopping that he makes it heart shaped, but I think that's too cheesy for him. Did you see what I did there??? hehehehe

Valentine's Day is not a huge event for us. Instead of buying each other presents, we normally make something edible for each other. Reuben makes pizza typically. But for our first Valentine's Day he brought me dim sum in bed and I was like "oh, damn. he's the one." In years past, I've made him crappy gluten free bacon scones, mediocre everything bagels, and a delicious lamb dinner. I've getting a little better with my gifts each year obviously. I'm not exactly sure what I'll make this year... but inspiration can strike at any second! Since we feel so stuffed at the moment, I'm sure he'd be happy if I just made him a salad for Valentines Day.

Cookies! These are a V-Day twist on my Marbled Tahini Sugar Cookies! Instead of regular and black tahini, I kept these as plain old sugar cookies with the added pink color from beet powder. Crushed freeze dried strawberries work as well! That's what I was originally going to use, but my strawberries got a little stale and weren't crushing properly. Food coloring is totally acceptable too, if you don't have random pink powders in your pantry. They are classic cookies, not too sweet, slightly buttery, and soft with a subtle crisp edge. The perfect cookie for an easy stress free Valentines Day! Or Galentines!!


Valentine's Day Marbled Sugar Cookies

makes 28 cookies

steps:

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.

In the bowl of your standmixer or with an electric beater, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add in egg and almond extract until combined.

Slowly add in the flour mixture and beat at low speed until dough is evenly mixed. 

Scoop out half to two thirds of the dough into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set in the fridge.

Add in beet powder or pink food coloring into the remaining dough and beat until incorporated. Place in a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge to chill for at least one hour. Chilling the dough helps the cookies keep their shape.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface. Divide both doughs into 3 equal parts. Arrange the dough balls in a 2x3 arrangement, alternating colors. Give it a quick knead to get the marbled affect. Try not to over knead so the color doesn't get too muddy.

Roll out the dough until it is about 1/4" thick. Lightly dust the dough with flour if the dough is sticking. You can divide the dough in half if it is easier for you to work with that way. Lightly flour your cookie cutter and cut out your cookies.

Arrange cookies on parchment lined baking sheets, about 1" apart from each other. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Bake for less time if your cookies are smaller.

Allow the cookies to cool on a wire rack and enjoy!

materials:

3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks (16 Tbsp) butter - softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp beet powder or crushed freeze dried strawberries
(or pink food coloring works too)

Vegetarian Turmeric Potstickers

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I made a different dumpling every weekend for a month and this is what happened.

That is the alternate title for this post. While the rest of the internet was partaking in Whole30 or dry January, I was making dumplings for a whole month. One of my New Year's resolutions was to make more food that I love. Not that I don't love all the recipes that I post on here. I just really wanted to make it priority to share recipes that turn me into the blushing/smiling emoji. That means a lot of dumplings, noodles, and cake. So I decided to spend the entire month of January creating/testing/flopping/eating dumplings leading up to Chinese New Year. Which is 1.5 weeks away! Hooray!

In case you missed any of the recent dumpling recipes, I made Crab and Mushroom Wontons in Chili Oil, Shrimp Dumplings (Har Gow), Spiced Turkey Momos, and these here Vegetarian Turmeric Potstickers. My fingers are twitching just a little thinking about all the dumplings I folded in January. But there is a dumpling recipe for everyone now! So there really isn't a reason why you shouldn't be scheduling a dumpling making session in the near future.

I realized that I actually learned a lot from making a billion dumplings. Okay, I actually only made like 100. 

1. An ugly dumpling is still a delicious dumpling. I'm not going to lie to you guys. Dumpling folds are hard. Who knew there are so many dumpling folds out there?! I made things 100x difficult for myself by doing a different fold for each dumpling. With each recipe the first couple dumplings were always duds. It's sort of like pancakes. The first one is always underdone and slightly burnt at the same time. But as you continue to push through the internal stress building up in you and your fingers start to shake a little, your dumplings will eventually start to look better. It just takes time and patiences. With each fold and each pleat, your fingers will get more comfortable with the motions. Even if your whole batch looks like a bunch of oblong doughy meatballs, they will still taste amazing! Shape does not affect flavor.

2. Enjoy the monotony. When I make dumplings with my family it tends to go by pretty quickly. Mainly because there are at least 3 or 4 of us folding together. In my little SF kitchen there is just me. Reuben helps out more with the cooking aspect. So I find myself alone folding most of the time. I really don't mind it though. It is meditative in a weird way. It feels really great to not have to think about anything other than the little motions of folding a dumpling. I think it is because Monday through Friday, I am constantly trying to solve problems or trying to convince contractors to do things for me. So it feels great for the brain when the only real problem at the moment is trying to get a tight seal on your pleats. And a dumpling doesn't talk back at you and tell you can't move something to where you want to move it.

3. It is okay to use store bought wrappers. It hurts me to say that. Only because I LOVE a thick and doughy dumpling wrapper. My dad's potsticker wrappers are the absolute best and it is because the dough is just so good. You really can't recreate that texture with store bough wrappers. It's just different. Not bad. Just different. I ended up making my own dough for all my recipes, with the exception being the wontons. It is definitely worth it if you have the time and patience to make your own dough. But I realized that sometimes, you just ain't got the time! My day job has been getting more and more hectic, so I've been appreciating any shortcut I can get in the dumpling department. Jumping back to lesson #1, it is still going to taste good!

I'll be taking a little break from making dumplings for a while. I didn't say eating dumplings though. Still eating them on a weekly basis! Before I move on to more noodles and cakes, let me talk about these vegetarian friendly potstickers! The dough is spiced with a bit of turmeric to give it that pretty golden color. It doesn't affect the flavor too much, but you probably get an itty bitty amount of the health benefits from turmeric. The filling is packed with carrots, cabbage, zucchini, and cellophane noodles. The veggies add health, texture, and much needed moister and body to the filling. Cellophane noodles are a traditional filler used in vegetarian dumplings. You might also know them as bean thread noodles. They take like no time to cook and absorb a ton of flavor! You can find them at your local asian market packaged in little bundles. You can fold the potstickers in whatever fold you feel comfortable with. I folded these in a two directional crescent fold, which makes them look like little moons. Link to a helpful video below. The dumplings get a nice sear in a skillet for that characteristic crunchy bottom and then steam for a few minutes in the pan to get everything else all cooked and ready for optimal deliciousness. It seems contradictory, but trust me. It works. You'll have yourself a potsticker!

Oh! I literally just realized that these potstickers are vegan too!! Double health points! Ok, I give you permission to eat as many of these as you want.


Vegetarian Turmeric Potstickers

makes 24 dumplings

for the dumpling dough:

2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup just boiled water
2 tsp turmeric

for the filling:

1 bundle of dried cellophane/bean thread noodles
1 large carrot finely chopped
1 zucchini finely chopped
1 cup finely chopped cabbage
1/4 cup chopped green onions (whites + greens)
2 garlic cloves finely minced
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 tsp sesame oil

olive oil
1/4 cup water

filling:

Place one bundle of dried cellophane/bean thread in a heat proof bowl. Pour boiling water over the noodles until the noodles are submerged. Steep the noodles in the hot water for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse noodles under cold water. Place noodles back in a dry mixing bowl. Cut up the noodles into smaller pieces with kitchen scissors or a knife.

Finely chop the carrot, zucchini and cabbage. Alternatively, you can process all the vegetables in a food processor to get nice consistent sizes and save loads of time.

Add the vegetables, green onions, garlic, oyster sauce, salt, white pepper, and sesame oil to the bowl of noodles. Give everything a good mix and allow the filling to sit for at least 15 minutes to allow the flavors to develop.

dough:

To prepare your dough, place flour and turmeric in a large bowl. Give it a good mix. Create a well in center and slowly pour in the just boiled water. Stir the water into the flour with a wooden spoon. Once all the water has been absorbed, start kneading by hand. Knead either in the bowl or on a lightly floured surface for 4 minutes until you get a smooth and consistent ball of dough. Place dough ball in a ziplock bag and allow to rest for at least 15 minutes. The dough will slightly steam in the bag and make it easier to work with.

assemble:

Once your dough has rested, take out of the ziplock bag and knead your dough again for 10 seconds. Divide the dough in half. Keep 1 half in the ziplock bag so it doesn't dry out.

Roll out the other half into a 1" think rope. Divide the rope into 12 equal pieces. With a small rolling pin, roll out each piece into 3" to 3 1/2" discs. If the dough starts to stick just sprinkle some flour on your surface and the rolling pin. Alternatively, you could use a tortilla press to make your wrappers. I find that you still have to using the rolling pin a little to get it thin enough.

Place a heaping teaspoon of filling (you can adjust based on the size of your wrappers) in the middle of the wrapper. The noodles can get a little fussy but just be patient and try to make tight bundles. Fold the dumpling by creating pleats on one side of the dumpling. Firming pinching each pleat for a tight seal. Here is a helpful folding video! These dumplings are the two directional crescent fold at the end of the video.

Place folded dumplings on a flour dusted baking sheet and cover with a kitchen towel while you fold the rest.

cook:

Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a skillet (with fitted lid) over medium high heat. Arrange dumplings in the skillet with the flat side down. Sear the bottoms of the dumplings for 2 minutes. Do not tough them. Add in 1/4 cup water and cover the skillet with the lid. Allow the dumplings to steam for 5 minutes, until all the water has evaporated. Remove the lid and let the dumplings sear in the pan for another minute. The bottoms of the dumplings should be golden brown and crispy.

Remove from pan and allow to slightly cool before eating. Serve with dark soy and hot sauce.

Enjoy!