Posts tagged sweet
Red Bean Swirl Buns
Red Bean Swirl Buns - Eat Cho Food
Red Bean Swirl Buns - Eat Cho Food
Red Bean Swirl Buns - Eat Cho Food
Red Bean Swirl Buns - Eat Cho Food
Red Bean Swirl Buns - Eat Cho Food
Red Bean Swirl Buns - Eat Cho Food
Red Bean Swirl Buns - Eat Cho Food
Red Bean Swirl Buns - Eat Cho Food
Red Bean Swirl Buns - Eat Cho Food
Red Bean Swirl Buns - Eat Cho Food
Red Bean Swirl Buns - Eat Cho Food
Red Bean Swirl Buns - Eat Cho Food
Red Bean Swirl Buns - Eat Cho Food
Red Bean Swirl Buns - Eat Cho Food
Red Bean Swirl Buns - Eat Cho Food
Red Bean Swirl Buns - Eat Cho Food
Red Bean Swirl Buns - Eat Cho Food
Red Bean Swirl Buns - Eat Cho Food

Is it possible to still feel adrenaline pumping after 4 days? Maybe I should go to the doctor… or maybe I’m just still high on life? I’m going to go with that second option! WOW. What a weekend. I successful taught my first dumpling making workshop on Saturday and it was one of the best experiences of my life! I wouldn’t say that I love public speaking, but I don’t think I’ve ever had the opportunity to publicly speak about something I love so much until now. It was so fun to talk about the foods I love with new friends who also love the same foods!

The morning of, Reuben and I were scrambling to get everything together and organized to drive over to the workshop space. I had a little hiccup and forget some ground chicken after we drove about 3 blocks the down the street, but it’s okay we got it! And arrived at the space just in time! I felt like time was moving so fast. My mind was racing while also simultaneously checking off the millions of items on my setup list. Then all of a sudden it was 10 til 2pm and people started to show up! Real life human people! When most of your job is based on the internet and using your phone, it’s really nice to see real dang human beans. Especially human beans who want to make dumplings with you. Eventually all 11 of my dumpling makers had arrived and we got working! To be honest the following 2 hours were such a blur, but Reuben caught a lot of it on his phone and it seemed like I was speaking english properly and making some sense.

In the weeks leading up to this weekend I was so nervous about how the class was going to go! I just wanted to make sure everyone had a great time. That’s the people pleaser in me. Thankfully, I think everyone had a really fun time and was able to go home with a belly full of dumplings, a container of extra dumplings, and the new acquired skill of pleating the most perfect little dumps : ) Seriously, all of my students were making excellent dumplings in no time! I was one proud dumpling mom. Now I have to get planning on my next workshops! If you want to go to one of my classes make sure to sign up for my mailing list! It’s right on the side of my blog!

Obviously life has been very dumpling centric for a while now, but I don’t only want to be know as the dumpling lady… there are a whole bunch of things I still love to make! When was the last time we made a super fluffy bun together? It’s been a few weeks, but we’re about to change that! I’m sharing a recipe one of my ABSOLUTE favorite Chinese baked goods! Red Bean Swirl Buns! When I walk into a Chinese Bakery there is a 1000000% percent chance I’'m grabbing some sort of red bean bun to take home… or more likely inhale immediately.

What is Red Bean Paste?

If you haven’t had red bean paste before, don’t be turned off when you read the word “bean” and “sweet” in the same sentence. Red beans or adzuki beans are incredibly common in asian desserts. I grew up loving red bean everything! In buns, mochi, and even in this red bean dessert soup… we would get it at the end of our big Chinese family feasts all the time! I think I liked it way more than my brother and cousins. Red bean paste is sweet, a little nutty, and really rich and smooth. I would eat this stuff on toast.

I’ve always wanted to make homemade red bean paste, but it’s so hard to find whole dried adzuki beans anywhere. That’s why when I saw that Bob’s Red Mill sells bags of the great bean I knew I had to snatch them right up and get working on this paste! To make red bean paste you soak the beans overnight to give them a head start and so you don’t have to boil them for a billion hours. Then you boil the beans for about an hour or so, until the beans are soft and tender. You then blend up the beans with some sugar and you got yourself some luscious red bean paste ready for all your baking experiments or just some toast! I’ve also had red bean in popsicle and ice cream form…. that might be my summer experiment!

For this recipe I made my go to milk bread dough using Bob’s Red Mill Artisan Bread Flour and Organic All Purpose Flour and it came out so soft and fluffy! I also taught myself a new way to form pretty buns! I’ll call it the score and twist! It’s really not as hard as it looks. All you do is roll out a portion of the milk bread dough, spread a thin layer of red bean paste, fold and seal it up, cut a few slits, roll up the dough like a candy cane, and twist it into a cute little coil. Pop those babies into the oven and get ready for one of the best treats! There are few things better than a warm red bean bun fresh out of the oven!


Thank you, Bob’s Red Mill for sponsoring this post!


Red Bean Swirl Buns

makes 12 buns

red bean paste:

1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill dried adzuki beans
2 cups water
3/4 cup white sugar

milk bread dough:

1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
1 egg
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
2 cups Bob’s Red Mill all purpose flour
2 cups Bob’s Red Mill bread flour
1 package of instant yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
1 tsp salt

1 egg + 1 tbsp water - egg wash
1/4 cup water + 1/4 cup white sugar - syrup glaze (optional)

to make red bean paste:

  1. Soak adzuki beans in water overnight. The next day, drain the beans. Place soaked beans and 2 cups water in a pot and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and boil for 1 hour until the beans are soft. Drain the beans, making sure to shake off any excess water. Place the beans in a food processor or immersion blender. Add in sugar and blend until smooth. Place red bean paste in a sealed container and allow to cool. Keep in the fridge until ready to use. The paste will seem a little loose at first, but will firm up once it cools.

to make the buns:

  1. Combine heavy cream, milk, egg, sugar, cornstarch, flours, yeast, and salt in the bowl of your standmixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix at medium speed (speed setting 4 for KitchenAid) for 15 minutes until a smooth and slightly sticky dough is formed. Stop to scrape down the sides every few minutes. Once dough is form, place in a large bowl lightly greased with oil. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and allow to rest in a warm place for 2 hours or in the fridge for 18 hours or overnight.

  2. Scrape out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces.

  3. Roll out the dough into a roughly 6”x6” square, doesn’t have to be perfect. Spread about 1 tablespoon of red bean paste into a thin layer, leaving about 3/4” clear around the edges of the dough. Fold the dough in half. Tightly pinch the edges closed. Take a sharp knife or pasta cutter and cut 4-5 vertical slits in the dough. Twist the dough into a striped rope and then roll the rope into a coil, making sure the tuck the ends of the dough underneath the bun. Place bun on a parchment paper line baking tray. Repeat with remaining buns.

  4. Cover the buns with a lightly damp kitchen towel and let them rest for a final 45 minutes to proof one last time.

  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together egg and water for your egg wash. Brush the egg wash over the buns. Place the buns in oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

  6. While the buns are in the oven, combine 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup sugar in a small sauce pan and cook on medium heat until sugar has dissolved. Remove buns from the oven and immediately brush the syrup glaze over the buns. Allow buns to cool for a few minutes and then enjoy!

Notes:

  1. Buns are best eaten warm or day of baking. Store leftover buns in an airtight container for up to 4 days. To freshen them up a bit, just microwave for 20 seconds until warm and soft.

Milk Tea Tres Leches
Milk Tea Tres Leches - Eat Cho Food
Milk Tea Tres Leches - Eat Cho Food
Milk Tea Tres Leches - Eat Cho Food
Milk Tea Tres Leches - Eat Cho Food
Milk Tea Tres Leches - Eat Cho Food
Milk Tea Tres Leches - Eat Cho Food
Milk Tea Tres Leches - Eat Cho Food
Milk Tea Tres Leches - Eat Cho Food
Milk Tea Tres Leches - Eat Cho Food
Milk Tea Tres Leches - Eat Cho Food
Milk Tea Tres Leches - Eat Cho Food
Milk Tea Tres Leches - Eat Cho Food

We are leaving for Rome in 4 days... holy meatballs! Whenever anyone asks me what I'm most excited for, my mind automatically jumps to one thing. No, it's not the romantic architecture that I’ve been studying for years or the fact that I won't be working for 2 weeks. It's not even the pizza or all the tiramisu I'm going to consume on a daily basis. It's the to-go pasta! lolololol I've mentioned it before, but I have a strange love for eating and walking. I love it so much that I've seriously thought about turning this combo into an Olympic sport where the athletes wear all white bodysuits and eat wet burritos or piping hot bowls of beef pho while also speed walking 1600 meters. Why do they have to wear white body suits? Because each athlete would get points deducted or more time added based on the amount of spills they get! hahahaha I giggle at this idea every time and feel slightly embarrassed I've spent enough time figuring out all the random details. The sport still needs a name though! 

Anyways, to-go pasta is literally the thing I'm looking forward to the most on this vacation. My friend Kelsey told me about this concept when she was studying abroad in Florence. What I’m imagining is a Chinese food take out container filled with the best pasta I’ve ever had. I’m so ready! Do you believe me now that I love portable food?? Foods on sticks. Self contained bundles of food like buns or onigiri. Anything that's smartly packaged in a neat and easy to eat out of container. A part of me thinks that if I'm eating and walking at the same time I'm also burning calories, which means I can eat more... honestly the logic isn't tooooooooooo crazy. Plus any food is portable if you tried hard enough... hence the Olympic sport! I don’t advise you to try eating hot pho while speed walking unless you’re a pro.

You know what's even better than portable noodles though? Not much... but portable dessert!! Obviously ice cream cones and ice cream sandwiches are the classic portable desserts, but doesn't portable cake sound like a dream come true? Especially a cake that's been soaked in milk tea and covered with whip cream! The inspiration for these Milk Tea Tres Leches came from a little market over by Reuben's office. I went there for the first time and was overwhelmed by how beautiful the prepackaged foods were! Like a million times better than the Trader Joe's grab and go lunch cold case I'm always frequenting at lunch. My eyes lit up when I saw their grab and go dessert section. Rows and rows and rows of weck jars filled with fruit cobbler, mousse, and cake!!! I had to grab a jar of their tres leche because there's something so satisfying about the texture of sponge cake soaked in cream. Mmmmmmm. It was SO GOOD. I beg Reuben every few weeks to bring me home one so we could split it for dessert!

This version has a little Hong Kong Milk Tea Twist! Milk tea is traditionally made by brewing ceylon tea (or red tea) and mixing in condensed milk and evaporated milk for a sweet and smooth finish. It's one of my favorite drinks and I'm always thinking of ways to incorporate it into desserts! It only seemed natural to infuse the ceylon tea into the tres leche since all the dairy was already there! The light and fluffy vanilla sponge cake is soaked in a tres leche mixture of condensed milk, regular milk, and heavy cream that's been steeped with ceylon tea. The resulting texture is light but also custardy. What dreams are made of! You can either assemble the tres leche in little parfaits like me or as a whole cake to share with friends or horde for yourself. I'll never judge! 

Talk you soon, friends! Next time you hear from me, I'll be in the land of carbs and portable pasta! Tune into my Instagram stories and watch me roam around Rome with a tub of chewy noodles and red sauce stains on my shirt! It's going to be glorious!

Ciao!


Milk Tea Tres Leches

makes 4 parfaits

materials:

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
3 eggs - whites and yolks separated
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup milk

1 1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp ceylon tea or strong black/red tea
1/2 cup condensed milk
1/2 cup milk

1 cup heaving whipping cream
3 tbsp powdered sugar

cocoa powder - optional

steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line a 8”x8” baking pan with parchment paper.

  2. In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a medium bowl whisk together egg yolks and sugar for 3 minutes until thick and pasty. Fold yolk mixture into the flour mixture. In a clean bowl beat egg whites until you have stiff peaks, about 5 minutes. Gently fold egg whites into the flour mixture until evenly combined.

  3. Pour cake batter into the baking pan. Use an offset spatula to smooth the batter evenly in the pan. Bake for 20-24 minutes. Test for doneness using the toothpick test. Allow cake to cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then remove from the pan to cool completely on a wire rack.

  4. While the cake is baking, bring 1 1/2 cup heaving cream and ceylon tea to a gentle boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Watch carefully so it doesn’t overflow! Remove the cream from the heat and allow the tea to steep for 30 minutes. Discard tea bags and mix in condensed milk and regular milk.

  5. To make whipped cream, whip heavy cream with powdered sugar until fluffy.

  6. To assemble the parfaits, cut out 2.5”-3” cake rounds with a biscuit cutter. You should be able to get 6 full cake rounds for 3 parfaits and use the cake scrapes for the 4th parfait. Poke a few holes into the cake rounds using a fork. Place 1 cake round in a glass jar or serving glass. Pour 2-3 tbsp of the milk tea cream mixture. Add 2-3tbsp of whipped cream. Repeat cake, milk tea, and whipped cream layer again until filled. Place tres leches in the fridge for at least 3 hours to allow the cake to absorb the milk tea. They can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days. When ready to served dust with a little cocoa powder!

Milk Tea Tres Leches - Eat Cho Food

Milk Tea Tres Leches - Eat Cho Food

My Creative Process
Graphic Design Cake // Eat Cho Food
My Creative Process // Eat Cho Food
Graphic Design Cake // Eat Cho Food
Graphic Design Cake // Eat Cho Food
Graphic Design Cake // Eat Cho Food
Graphic Design Cake // Eat Cho Food
Graphic Design Cake // Eat Cho Food
Graphic Design Cake // Eat Cho Food
Graphic Design Cake // Eat Cho Food
Graphic Design Cake // Eat Cho Food
Graphic Design Cake // Eat Cho Food

Just like noodles and dumplings, creating pretty things has always been a part of life for me. I’ve always loved to paint and draw pictures. There’s proof of it hung up all over my parents house. In our bedroom hallway you’ll find a minimal pencil sketch of a beehive I drew when I was 4 or 5 (Mom, please confirm). On our fireplace mantel there’s a colorful oil painting of my grandparents, me, and the alphabet that I painted when I was… old enough to know the alphabet but not old enough to understand scale. My grandma is like 5 feet taller than my grandpa and me in this painting. I was far from a child art prodigy, believe me. But I was never not making something.

Unlike many people who decided to study architecture, I did not enjoy playing with Legos. Sure, I had them, but I much preferred crayons and pencils. I would like to note that over Christmas I stole my younger cousin’s Harry Potter lego set and had an excellent time putting that together. Why did I study architecture though? I’m not entirely sure... I wrote in my elementary school graduation pamphlet how I wanted to be a chef one day. Should have listened to 10 year old me! Sometime between 4th grade and 9th grade, I picked up a bad habit of playing Sims for endless hours and focused too much on designing their mansions. I loved creating their homes so much that I decided that Architecture was going to be it for me. What I liked about architecture was that it was a seemingly well respected profession that included my artistic passions. Even as a high schooler, I felt like I needed to do something respectable with my life so I could pay back all the hard work my family put into making my life as comfortable and full of opportunity as possible. I wasn’t smart enough to be a doctor, my brother got all the smarty-pants genes. Not that my parents ever forced us to be doctors or lawyers. They weren’t anything close to the stereotypical strict Asian parents. They’re so chill. Except for the occasional “that place is dangerous!” statement from my cautious ex-police officer father. They have always just let my brother and I be who we wanted to be. They still ended up with one kid who wants to be a brain surgeon though… so lucky them! I’m incredibly grateful for that freedom now, because I think that freedom of individuality has allowed my creativity to flourish. That and the fact that my mom is also a super creative and multi-talented person.

While I’m often complaining about the professional practice of architecture. I do think that architecture school and the few years I’ve been working professionally have helped me hone in on my own creative process, whether it’s in regards to design, art, or food. I bet you were wondering when I was going to start talking about that, weren’t ya? I’m getting there...

Architecture school was a great time! I got to hang out with my best friends all day and build things. I truly did love it, despite the lack of sleep and the time I cut my finger pretty badly with an x-acto blade sophomore year. It was full of experimentation, research, concept generation, and so much Thai food. Ugh, I miss Thai Express. I quickly learned that in order to have a successful project and to defend your design you needed a strong reason and concept. You can’t ever say you did something or placed a column there because you thought it was cool. I learned that the hard way. Design moves should be made thoughtfully and with intention. This thought process causes you to move a little slower sometimes, which I think is absolutely fine! Better actually. Unless you just want to be a cool content generating machine… then you do you. But I just can’t operate that way.

Architectural practice is similar to school but definitely different. All the fun creative aspects of design get muddled a bit with practical things like budget, timelines, client relations, and brand standards. All important things though. Even art has to go through these real life constraints, but if you think about them in a more positive way they can greatly benefit your work. Thankfully, at my current design firm we try to develop strong concepts and narratives that help guide us throughout the entire creative process. This narrative is our guiding light. It’s constant in the back of our heads as we select the tile we want on our walls or what sequence of spaces we want the user to experience.

So how does all of this impact me as a food blogger?

I’m definitely still trying to figure this out and by no means consider myself an expert food blogger. But in the last 2 years that I’ve been blogging consistently, I’ve noticed a shift in the way I approach recipes and styling and it’s definitely resulted in more engaging content and more delicious recipes. In the last few months, I’ve thought more carefully about the type of recipes I want to develop for Eat Cho Food and not just create recipes that will get a whole bunch of likes on Instagram.

When I get a recipe idea I ask myself these questions:

  1. How does this recipe relate to my narrative and my identity?

  2. What is the story I’m trying to share?

  3. Does this recipe already exist? If so, what about this recipe separates it from all the noise on the internet?

  4. Will my audience connect with this recipe?

  5. Will it look good?

If you’re working with a brand sponsor, you’ll also want to ask yourself if the recipe relates to that brand’s message and check if there are any specific requirements outlined by them. Again, you can use these to your advantage!

In a sense, I treat most recipes like a design project. I want it to relate to my story, I want it to look beautiful, I want it to taste great, and I want it to be something new and inventive. I totally understand that not every recipe is going to have some deep narrative or change the food world, but at least I’m trying. One of the biggest takeaways from my design job is to challenge the way you would typically approach a problem and that being a little uncomfortable is a good thing.

This cake that I made for work is a pretty good example of my creative process. My office had an open call to all our employees and asked us to submit a creative art project that’s inspired by the designs for the McDonald’s HQ project we recently completed. The concept for that project is Geometries of Play: deconstructing the patterns, textures, and shapes of McDonald’s Play Place structures to create an elevated and nostalgic environment. I wanted to submit a project and knew immediately that I wanted my medium to be CAKE. I love making and decorating cakes so much because there is just so much flexibility and techniques for transforming food into a work of art. Buttercream and marzipan are magical that way.

So I asked myself the 5 questions again…

  1. How does this recipe relate to my narrative and my identity? Manipulating a 2 dimensional graphic into a 3 dimensional edible medium combines both my loves for design and experimenting with food.

  2. What is the story I’m trying to share? Cake is a symbol of celebration and fun. It also invokes the same childhood spirit as the McDonald Play Places. Using cake, which is an edible medium, to manifest the designs inspired by McDonalds is an interesting play of food inspired by food. The act of decorating and testing vertical cake layers as a form of pattern making is an act of play!

  3. Does this recipe already exist? If so, what about this recipe separates it from all the noise on the internet? I’ve definitely never seen a cake that looks like this before.

  4. Will my audience connect with this recipe? I think so. It’s something new and different.

  5. Will it look good? Absolutely!

I submitted my project proposal and I got selected! Then very quickly, I was requested to design, bake, decorate, and photograph this cake in a matter of 2 days. That’s a very quick turn around, but I used the time constraint as a way to organize and prioritize what tasks I needed to accomplish a great cake! I listed all the materials I needed, focused on the details of the pattern I wanted to create, sketched out my vision, and got baking.

The cake is a fairly simple chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream. I originally wanted to do a weird flavor like vanilla soft serve and french fries, because I would dip my fries in their soft serve ALL THE TIME, but I had zero time to experiment with flavors with the timeline they gave me. So I just went for a classic chocolate cake, which actually played up the linear pattern very nicely when assembled to have vertical cake layers. If you’re interested in trying out this method yourself I used this tutorial! I just used a chocolate sponge cake recipe instead. Once the cake layers were assembled and crumb coated (that took one whole day), I got decorating. Honestly, this was the hardest part. I had sketched out a general plan for how I wanted to decorate it, but it’s always nerve-wracking when you start placing down blobs of buttercream. IT’S JUST CAKE, KRISTINA! For the decorations, I used a mixture of buttercream, colored marzipan, sesame seeds, sprinkles, and pocky sticks! The mixture of mediums added some nice textures and forms that I was very happy with. At one point I was trying to comb grey lines with buttercream but it looked like butt, so I just smoothed it over and it looked fine. It’s okay to not completely stick with your plan!

After 2 very labor intensive days the cake was done. I carefully transported it to the office. I’m going to write a memoir one day called “Riding in Ubers with Cake on your Lap” - the art of hustling and juggling many passions lolol. Maybe. Anyways, the cake got a positive response! I ended up cutting up the whole cake and took a bunch of artsy photos of the cake slices, with the encouragement of my principal. That felt outside of my comfort zone but ended up actually looking really cool. Again, it’s good to be a little uncomfortable. The cake should be making its way into publication soon and I can’t wait to see it! I’ll share soon.

If you have read this far, I just want to say “THANK YOU. YOU ROCK!” For real though. The fact that you read this far and cared about my creative process means a lot to me. You might not be a food blogger or work in a creative field, but there are still endless opportunities for you to develop a more creative thought process. I realize that I didn’t get into the post recipe development process of styling, photograph, and photo editing… but I’m pretty tired of writing this and I bet you’re tired of reading haha. I’ll save that for another post if you’re interested in more of these thought pieces! Not that I’m ever a really bitter person, but after writing this, I’m feeling all sorts of thankful for my on and off again relationship with architecture and design. I like to think it has made me a better cook, baker, and food blogger : ) no matter where my professional path will take me, I’ll always be a designer!