Sunday, August 13, 2006

A new book

This summer a friend gave us a copy of a great new cookbook, Modern Asian Flavors, by Richard Wong. His recipes reflect his Shanghai roots, as well as his own American upbringing (the peppers stuffed with ground turkey were a real mystery to me until I read that his mother made them with pork -- no one likes turkey here). The book starts off with half a dozen sauces which are great for dipping, marinades, and so on, and he incorporates them in other recipes throughout the book. I like that; to learn to make one thing and then learn how to use it several different ways seems supremely efficient. I've been browsing through and drooling over the gorgeous pages this weekend. I'll let you know when I make something.

I've also been baking a bit this past week: whole wheat French bread (not in the bread machine, believe it or not), and caramel shortbread covered with a layer of Trader Joe's dark chocolate. Like a Twix, only better (because where can you buy a 9"x14" Twix bar?). Recipes to follow, once I get my boy in school tomorrow. (Sigh.)

Monday, August 07, 2006

Sourdough English Muffins

Yes, English muffins! I had never seen them in Taiwan (except served up in an Egg McMuffin), until, that is, our Bible study met at Donna's house last May, where she set before us a tray of hot-from-the-skillet sourdough English muffins. Heavenly.

Here is her recipe, which came from her friend Pat. The starter Donna gave me has a long history, going back to an Alaskan miner. There are many sourdough-starter recipes on the Web; once you've got one working, give these a try. No oven required.

Sourdough English Muffins
(About a dozen)

Mix together
1/2 cup starter
1 cup milk
2 cups flour

and cover loosely; set at room temperature overnight.

In the morning, mix with above
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup flour

Turn out on a floured board. Knead in an additional
1/4 cup flour
(or enough to keep dough from being too sticky). Knead lightly 2-3 minutes. Roll out 3/4 " thick and cut with a cutter (a wide drinking glass will do the trick, too -- dip the rim in flour to keep it from sticking). Place 1" apart on cookie sheet sprinkled with

Cover and set 45 minutes. Cook in dry skillet 8-10 minutes, until golden brown on each side and sides are no longer shiny.

Buying info:
The starter will need to be made ahead, but will only require water, flour, and maybe some sugar (recipes vary). Walason's has all-purpose flour (with the green label), as well as cornmeal (center aisle, near the giant tins of baking powder). Baking soda is in the same aisle. The cornmeal really does help keep the muffins from sticking to the cookie sheet and the skillet. Use the rest to make polenta.