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Char Siu Bao (Chinese BBQ Pork Buns)

I think making these buns might have been the biggest mistake of my life. They’re just too dang good and I crave them constantly. The first batch quickly dwindled to nothing – I sent a bun or two off to my family and to Mike’s parents and sent a half-dozen off with Mike. I was left staring at four buns. I tried to make them last as long as possible, but I have to be honest… they lasted four days. Maybe less.

Baked Char Siu Bao (Chinese BBQ Pork Buns) | doughseedough.net

I think these buns might be the first thing I will ever put on my monthly “must make” list. I rarely make repeat dishes. It takes a good dish to warrant a second visit into my kitchen more than once a year. It takes a stellar dish to make a visit a few times a year. A dish that I want to make every month? Unheard of, until now.

Baked Char Siu Bao (Chinese BBQ Pork Buns) | doughseedough.net

I just can’t explain why I loved these buns so much. It’s a combination of the slightly sweet, mostly salty filling surrounded by an impossibly soft, fluffy, yet chewy bun. The texture of the buns is partially due to the tangzhong (roux) made from combining flour with water and milk. The tangzhong  is incorporated into the dough and the endresult is a bun that’s… well, good.

Baked Char Siu Bao (Chinese BBQ Pork Buns) | doughseedough.net

I made this dish for this month’s What’s Baking. The host for August is Ali from Sparks from the Kitchen. She challenged us to bake up something to represent our heritage.  I waffled between making dan ta, an egg custard tart, and feng li su, little flaky cakes encasing a pineapple filling. I don’t know how I ended up making neither of those and instead making the char siu bao, but I don’t regret my actions one bit. I loved char siu bao growing up, and I love them still. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Char Siu Bao (Chinese BBQ Pork Buns)

for the buns:
6 cups bread flour, divided
2/3 cup water
1 1/3 cup milk, divided
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons instant yeast
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons butter, melted

for the filling:
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups diced char siu (Chinese BBQ roast pork)

for garnishing:
1 egg beat with 1 teaspoon water (egg wash)
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

  1. To make the tangzhong (roux/flour paste), mix together 1/3 cup flour, 2/3 cup water, and 1/3 cup milk in a small saucepan until well combined. Place the pan over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens up and has the consistency of a thick yogurt. The temperature of the roux should not exceed 150°F. Remove the mixture from heat and set aside to cool.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine 5 cups flour, sugar, salt, and yeast and mix with a wooden spoon to combine. Add the tangzhong/flour paste, 1 cup milk, 2 eggs, and melted butter. Stir together to form a soft dough. Knead by hand for 15 – 20 minutes. If your dough is sticky and not coming together, add the remaining 2/3 cup flour a little at a time until your dough is smooth and elastic.
  3. Lightly grease a large bowl. Place dough inside and turn to coat. Cover the bowl lightly with plastic wrap. Place the bowl in a warm, draft-free place and let rise for 60 minutes or until it has doubled in size.
  4. Meanwhile, get started on the filling. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in the honey, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, and dark soy sauce. Cook until mixture starts to bubble, stirring frequently. Stir in the chicken stock and flour until well combined. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 2 – 3 minutes, or until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the diced roast pork. Set aside to cool.
  5. Separate the risen dough into 16 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 4-inch circle, leaving the center slightly thicker than the edges. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling into the middle of each circle. Crimp them closed, making sure they are tightly sealed. Don’t fret if they’re a little ugly – the crimped side ends up on the bottom, hidden from judging eyes ;)
  6. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Lay the buns seam-side down on the prepared baking sheets and let rise for another hour.
  7. Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush the tops of the buns with the egg wash. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until buns are golden brown. Let cool slightly before eating.

 

yields 16 buns. recipe slightly adapted from The Woks of Life

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Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Roast Pork)

Char siu, or Chinese BBQ roast pork, brings back really fond memories for me. I remember seeing huge slabs of roast pork hanging from windows in restaurants or at grocery stores. I remember stuffing my face full of buns filled with the sweet-salty succulent pork.

Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Roast Pork) | doughseedough.net

I can’t even begin to tell you how awesome this pork smelled as it was roasting away in the oven. I might go so far as to say that it beat any cookie, cake, or pie smell that I’ve ever created in my kitchen. Seriously. It was that good.

I think I spent the majority of the cook time staring all googly-eyed into the little oven window, watching this pork cook up into what I can only describe as heavenly. If you’re looking for a little happiness in your life, you’re in luck. I’m bringing it to you in the form of some Chinese roast pork.

This little piggy… turned out awesome. Stay tuned for part two when this little piggy gets turned into some char siu bao (Chinese roast pork buns). Yeehaw!

Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Roast Pork) | doughseedough.net

Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Roast Pork)

3 pounds pork shoulder
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon five spice powder
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
2 tablespoons sherry
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
4 teaspoons hoisin sauce
4 teaspoons tomato paste
4 teaspoons molasses
1 tablespoon canola oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons water

  1. Cut pork into 3-inch thick strips lengthwise. Place pork into a large zip-top bag and set aside.
  2. Combine the remaining ingredients in a medium bowl. Whisk until well combined. Remove 1/2 cup of the marinade into a container. Cover and refrigerate for later use.
  3. Pour the remaining marinade into the zip-top bag. Make sure pork is evenly coated with the marinade. Squeeze excess air out of the bag and seal it. Place bag into a baking dish and refrigerate overnight (at least 12 hours).
  4. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a sheet pan with foil and place a metal baking rack on top. Remove pork from marinade, letting excess marinade drip off. Place pork on rack, making sure the pieces don’t touch. Bake the pork for 20 – 25 minutes on each side, or until pork reaches an internal temperature of 145°F. Baste pork with half of the reserved marinade. Move the oven rack to the top third and turn the broiler on. Return the pork to the oven and cook for a few minutes on each side or until the pork is slightly charred.
  5. Let the meat rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

 

recipe slightly adapted from The Woks of Life


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Mediterranean Chopped Salad

I have a secret: I made this dish months ago. Back when spring was barely showing its face in Wisconsin. I took one bite of the salad and knew that this was going to be absolutely perfect for summer. The salad was delicious back in the spring when it was made from not-quite-in-season veggies. Now that it’s summer, I urge you to take advantage of the delicious, local veggies at a farmers’ market near you. I walk through the Appleton or Madison market every week and the bountiful produce makes my day. I can’t eat this salad right now (it doesn’t fit into my diet quiet yet), but I can dream about it. I’m hoping that my food issues get sorted out before the summer is over so I can take advantage of the fresh veggies from the market and in my garden.

Mediterranean Chopped Salad | doughseedough.net

Mediterranean Chopped Salad

1 medium cucumber, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 1 1/4 cups)
1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 medium garlic clove, minced
1 (14-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped
1/2 small red onion minced (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
1 romaine heart, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)
Ground black pepper

  1. Place cucumber and tomatoes in a colander set over a bowl. Sprinkle with salt and gently toss to combine. Let stand for 15 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, and garlic. Add the cucumber, tomatoes, chickpeas, olives, onion, and parsley; toss to combine and let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.
  3. Add romaine and feta and toss until ingredients are evenly distributed. Season with salt and pepper, to taste before serving.

 

recipe very slightly adapted from America’s Test Kitchen


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Minneapolis Marathon 2014 Race Recap & National Running Day!

Happy National Running Day! I hope you all celebrate by lacing up your shoes and getting out there for a run – whether it’s for 3 minutes, 3 miles, or 3 hours! I’ll be putting in my first miles after this past Sunday’s race and I can’t wait to get back out there. Sunday’s race – the Minneapolis Marathon. Ah, so much drama.

Long story short – the Minneapolis Marathon got cancelled, but Adam’s Birthday Marathon went on as planned.

The whole story: A group of seven of us traveled to Minneapolis on Saturday for the race. Three runners (Adam, the birthday boy, and I planned on running the full, Ash the half) and four amazing cheerleaders. As soon as we crossed the state line, the rain started. It wasn’t bad and we hoped that the rain that was predicted for race day was just coming in early. The race expo was a bit unorganized and not very helpful at all. I was surprised to find out that they did not have any course maps available at the expo and the gal at the booth told us instead to just look at it online. Sure, that might have worked… had their PDF been readable. You could see the general outline of the course, but the street names were indiscernible. I mean, how the heck is something like this supposed to be useful to people who aren’t familiar with the area?

image from runfreak.net

During the time at the expo, the light rain developed into a down pour and it just got worse from there. (Side note – the views from our 14th floor hotel room were amazing!) The Team Ortho (TO) / Minneapolis Marathon race staff sent out an email late Saturday night reminding us to hydrate (a little late, but thanks) and to keep an eye out on their Facebook page for updates at 4:00 AM, 5:00 AM, 5:30 AM, and 6:00 AM.

We dutifully woke up at 4:30 to eat and prep for the 6:30 race start. When we got up, the weather did not look promising – heavy storms with lightning galore. I obsessively started checking the race’s Facebook page for the promised updates that were to be posted at 4:00, 5:00, 5:30 and 6:00. There was no 4:00 or 5:00 update. At 5:26, they finally posted an update saying that the start time had been postponed an hour to 7:30 AM. At 5:29, they posted again saying the next update would be at 7:00 AM. Ok, so no other updates until 7:00 AM. I guess I could deal.

We waited around the hotel until 6:30 before dragging ourselves out into the rain to the race start line. Runners were huddled under any shelter they could find. The rain finally let up a little and the runners made their way up to the start. 7:00 AM came and went with no update from the marathon organizers. No one seemed to have any idea what was going on. 7:15 AM and still no updates. Everyone figured the race would start, as scheduled, at 7:30 AM. Then, 7:30 AM passed and the race didn’t start. People started checking Facebook – no updates on there, either. Race staff was nowhere to be found. 7:40 AM. Nothing. 7:50 AM runners start walking back to their cars and the word spreads that the race has been cancelled. (For what it’s worth, a Facebook update was finally posted at around 8:00 AM). I found Adam and Ash and we decided we were going to run it anyway. We had spent months training and we were already there. I decided to run the half with Ash instead of attempting the full and the birthday boy set off, determined to finish the full.

As we and a couple hundred (?) other rogue runners went around the barricaded start line, race staff told us that we were running at our own risk. We blew past them. It wasn’t raining. The weather apps showed no storm headed this way. Heat, humidity, and an unfamiliar city were our only challenges. A few miles later, a staff member was on the route, screaming at us to remove our bibs or the police would take action. What the heck? Ash and I dutifully flipped our bibs over and continued on. As we ran, we watched the race staff pull mile markers, cones, and tightly wrap up the water stations in plastic wrap so that runners couldn’t get to it. When we finally reaches the finish line (or what was supposed to be the finish line), we found a volunteer handing out medals.

Minneapolis Marathon 2014 | doughseedough.net

mile markers at the Minneapolis Marathon

Wait. I thought the race was cancelled. Why were they handing out medals? I grabbed one, started stretching, and took in my surroundings. I saw many confused, lost race participants. Some were wondering where to pick up their gear check bags. Others were wondering how they were going to get back to the start (since the shuttles had been called off). The TO staff and volunteers had no answers. They busied themselves with packing everything up and seemed to care very little about answering any questions that the race participants had.

Mike, Ash, and I met up with three others in our group to cheer on the birthday boy marathoner. A group of us ended up running the last 3.5 miles with him. When we finally made it to the finish, the lot was deserted – no sign that there was a race planned for that day.

Minneapolis Marathon 2014 (cancelled but we ran anyway) | doughseedough.net

 

I want to make it clear that I 100% understand why the race was called off. The race organizers thought that there was going to be another severe storm with lightning passing through and didn’t want to risk the lives of the runners or volunteers. What I do not understand is why the race cancellation wasn’t announced and why the updates weren’t posted to Facebook as promised. The disorganization and lack of communication of Team Ortho and their Minneapolis Marathon were dismal. Tuesday afternoon, TO and MM slightly redeemed themselves by sending out an apology and discount codes for other races they put on, including the 2015 Minneapolis Marathon. Will I run another one of their races? I’m undecided. The course (or what I think was the course) was absolutely beautiful and I would love to run it again, but this experience as a whole was so disappointing.

Now, I’m off to find another marathon to run this year. In Wisconsin. <3

Minneapolis Marathon 2014 (aka Adam’s Birthday Marathon)


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Pistachio and Dried Cherry Biscotti

I can’t really remember how (or why) I started making biscotti. But for as long as I can recall, my mom has always requested biscotti as her gift for just about everything – birthday, Mother’s Day, Christmas… Thanksgiving?

Pistachio & Dried Cherry Biscotti | doughseedough.net

I usually make some sort of chocolate biscotti, but this time I opted for something new – pistachios + dried cherries. How did it turn out? Amazing. Better than any of the chocolate-based biscotti I’ve ever made or tasted. Better than any biscotti I’ve ever had, period. I’m dreaming of the day that I can make these again – I’m hoping to get my hands on some delicious Door County cherries!

Pistachio & Dried Cherry Biscotti | doughseedough.net

Pistachio and Dried Cherry Biscotti

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon orange zest
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup dried cherries, roughly chopped
1 cup unsalted, shelled pistachios

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix for 30 seconds to combine.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, orange zest, lemon zest, vanilla extract and almond extract. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and beat on low speed until dough is crumbly and just combined, about 1 minute. Knead dough with your hands for another minute until dough comes together. Fold in cherries and pistachios.
  4. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and divide in half. Dust hands with flour and shape each piece of dough into a 16-inch long log. Transfer logs to prepared baking sheet and use your palm to flatten into a 2-inch wide strip.
  5. Bake until biscotti is lightly browned and set, about 30 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. Allow cookies to cool slightly on the baking sheet for 15 minutes.
  6. Turn oven down to 250°F. Line a second baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  7. Transfer biscotti logs to a cutting board and slice diagonally into 2/3-inch thick slices*. Arrange pieces, cut side down, on prepared baking sheets.
  8. Bake biscotti for 20 minutes. Flip biscotti and bake for an additional 20 minutes or until cookies are crisp. Carefully transfer cookies cooling rack and let cool completely. Store in an air-tight container until ready to serve.

 

*Most recipes call for cutting biscotti with a serrated knife, but I’ve had better luck with my super-sharp Santoku. Do as you wish!

 

recipe very slightly adapted from Bon Appetit


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Espresso Bourbon Brownies

Espresso Bourbon Brownies | doughseedough.net

So, you know your favorite morning pick-me-up? (Yes, I’m talking about coffee). How do you make it better? Add bourbon, duh. And how do you make that better? Turn it into a brownie!

Espresso Bourbon Brownies | doughseedough.net

The bourbon taste in this is definitely prominent, so make sure you make it with something drinkable. Another tip: if you like these, hide them. I left mine out and they were completely gone a couple days later. Mike inhaled these at an alarming rate.

Espresso Bourbon Brownies
makes 16 brownies

1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup bourbon
2 tablespoons espresso granules
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Place butter and unsweetened chocolate into a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until chocolate is melted. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
  3. In a small bowl, combine bourbon and espresso until espresso has dissolved. Set aside.
  4. Stir sugar into slightly cooled chocolate mixture until incorporated. Add eggs one at a time, stirring after each addition. Stir bourbon-espresso mixture into the batter. Mix in flour and baking soda until just combined and then fold in the chocolate chips.
  5. Pour batter into the prepared baking pan. Use a spatula to make sure batter is evenly distributed and smooth on top. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs.
  6. Allow brownies to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Remove brownies from the pan and cut into 16 pieces.

 

adapted from Lemons and Anchovies


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Curried Mussels in White Ale

Curried Mussels in White Ale | doughseedough.net

I still remember when I made this dish – I had invited my mom over for dinner after she found out I was making mussels. I figured that since she fed them to us a couple weeks ago, it was my turn to host. She declined since they had some guests. Turns out, I am dang happy that she didn’t end up coming over (does that make me a bad daughter?). Mike and I devoured this entire dish by ourselves and were wishing we had more. We couldn’t get enough of how flavorful the curry ale sauce was. Seriously out of this world. Next time, I’m going to whip up a triple batch and force my mom to join us.

Curried Mussels in White Ale | doughseedough.net

Curried Mussels in White Ale

1 teaspoon canola oil
1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
1 large fresh lemongrass stalk, bottom two-thirds of the bulb smashed and chopped
2/3 cup Shaoxing wine
15 ounce can low fat coconut milk
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
1/2 cup Thai basil leaves, plus 1/4 cup chopped
2 12-ounce bottles Belgian white ale
2 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded; toss any that do not close tightly when tapped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

crusty bread for serving

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add curry paste, garlic, ginger, and lemongrass and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes or until fragrant. Add the Shaoxing wine, coconut milk, soy sauce, fish sauce and basil leaves. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Strain the sauce into a bowl; discard the solids.
  2. Rinse the saucepan out and then bring the ale to a boil over high heat. Add the mussels, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the mussels to four bowls, discarding any that are not open.
  3. Add the red curry sauce to the ale and bring to a boil. Let cook for 1 minute and spoon over the mussels. Sprinkle with the remaining chopped Thai basil and cilantro and serve.

 

recipe slightly adapted from Food & Wine

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