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‘snacks’ Category

  1. Cha Gio / Nem Ran / Vietnamese Fried Rolls

    August 1, 2012 by brett

    Cha Gio
    Of all the various Asian fried rolls I’ve ever eaten, cha gio is the best in terms of taste and texture, hands down. There is just something serendipitous about the interplay between the flavors of the filling ingredients: the taro, the freshly ground pepper, the fish sauce, and of course, the pork and shrimp. Texture-wise, the wood-ear mushrooms, bean thread, and rice paper wrappers enhance the roll greatly, making each bite stimulating and fun.

    The chewy-crisp exterior of these rolls pairs well with the fresh green, raw lettuce leaf and herbs commonly used to wrap these rolls. Typically, folks will dip the raw veggie/herb enveloped roll into a small bowl of nuoc cham, a Vietnamese fish sauce-based dipping sauce, just before taking a bite. The contrasts between hot fried and cool/crisp raw, between hearty and refreshingly light, cannot help but delight the senses and inspire second (eh, why stop at second?) helpings. (more…)


  2. Hippo Flatbread

    June 21, 2012 by brett

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    Flatbread plays an extremely important role in the cuisine’s of most cultures around the world. It is the building block, the basis, of many a meal worldwide. Flatbread fills the belly, nourishes the body, and feels good in mouth and hand in all its soft/chewy/crispy/crunchy glory. It can be eaten alone (it’s so convenient on the go — a great stroller snack), or it can accompany stews, curries, meats, veggies — whatever you like. Flatbread is like rice, the perfect white shirt, and the name Michael*: It goes with everything.
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  3. Chocolate Craze Spider Cake

    June 14, 2012 by brett

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    This was my son’s birthday cake this year. I was so happy he loved it!!! ­čÖé

    An old-fashioned term, “spider” refers to a cast iron skillet, which I use to make this cake; spiders are not an ingredient. ­čÖé Pineapple Upside Down Cake is probably one of the best known spider cakes baked today.

    The use of vinegar and baking soda to provide the acid/basic-inspired rise of the cake, and the oddball directions to add liquid ingredients into three “troughs” or indentations in the dry mixture, followed by pouring water all over the top, provide unmistakable clues to the ancestry of this cake. This cake is a gluten- and allergen-free descendent of an American classic known by many names: Crazy Cake, Wacky Cake, Oil and Vinegar Cake.

    Typically, Crazy Cake is made in an 8″ or 9″ square pan, though I’ve seen it doubled into a 9″ x 13″ sheet cake creation as well. In the past, I’ve made my own gluten- and allergen-free version in a 5″x7″ Pyrex baking dish. (To see a lemon version, check out Lemon Craze.)

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  4. Jun Jiu Kao (Pearl Balls)

    May 10, 2012 by brett

    Pearl Balls

    Some days are meant for sitting on the sofa and eating bon bons. While I admit bon bons are incredibly tasty (I had them just once and even made it a point to sit on the sofa while eating them), more often than not, I’ll make jun jiu kao when I’m in need of a comfort food fix.

    Jun jiu kao, or pearl balls, are savory steamed pork meatballs coated with a layer of glutinous rice (rest assured, it’s gluten-free) that is chewy and satisfying. These tasty mouthfuls are also a nice dumpling-type alternative when I want a dumpling but don’t feel like rolling out wrappers. Jun jiu kao are easy to make, easy to make ahead, and easy to reheat. They are great eaten hot, warm, or at room temperature. They’re not too shabby straight out of the fridge, too! Pearl balls make a great snack but can also be served as part of a larger meal. They make for popular party finger food as well. (more…)


  5. Hippo Bread

    April 29, 2012 by brett

    Gluten Free Hippo Bread

    Every gluten-free cook has his or her signature bread recipe. This is mine.

    A derivation of┬áNeat Bread, Hippo Bread is superior in terms of texture, taste, and appearance thanks to its key ingredient, plain, homemade┬ásoy milk. Homemade soy milk acts as a binder, tenderizes the loaf’s crumb, adds a creaminess to the flavor, and imparts an attractive, slightly golden hue.

    Gluten Free Hippo Bread

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  6. Soy Milk

    April 28, 2012 by brett

    Ladle partly submerged in a pot of soy milk, which is ready to be put into the French press for filtering.

    Soy milk is a kitchen basic in our household. It’s good for drinking, but it’s also indispensable in the kitchen as an ingredient in many recipes. Soy milk is an excellent dairy substitute in cooking. It’s also a great egg substitute in recipes requiring the binding (though not rising) properties of eggs.

    My family enjoys eating Hippo Bread, pancakes, brownies, and other bread- and cake-type foods made with it. Soy milk’s by-product, okara, if cooked thoroughly during the soy milk making process, can be toasted in a dry pan and used as a healthy filler for meatballs, dumplings, and the like. (more…)


  7. Har Gow (Crystal Shrimp Dumplings)

    March 28, 2012 by brett

    Har Gow / Ha Gow / Crystal Shrimp Dumplings
    If you’ve been to a dim sum restaurant, you’ve probably had har gow (a.k.a. ha gow, crystal shrimp dumplings). When done right, har gow can be a revelation: shrimp, paired with bamboo and/or water chestnut/jicama, enveloped in a thin, chewy, yet luscious, translucent wrapper that teases and leaves a person craving more.
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  8. Hobo Joe Hash Browns

    March 23, 2012 by brett

    Hobo Joe Hash Browns

    I vividly remember the first time I had hash browns. My Aunt Rose had taken my mom, my brothers, and her daughter, my cousin Sabrina, to Hobo Joe’s, a chain eatery that no longer exists in Los Angeles. Aunt Rose ordered hash browns, and my, they were dee-lightful! The texture was light, ever so slightly crispy on the outside yet soft and tender and the inside, the color was a lovely golden brown, and the taste was lighthearted yet earnest in note. I LOVED them! Hobo Joe’s no longer exists, but my memory — and these potatoes — still do. (more…)


  9. Hom Sui Gok

    March 23, 2012 by brett

    Hom Sui Gok

    A popular dim sum dish, hom sui gok’s savory interior is enveloped in a wrapper that is at once chewy and luscious on the inside, yet every so slightly crisped on the outside.

    Hom sui gok’s paradoxical texture owes itself to glutinous rice flour. When fried, glutinous rice flour does not react the way most things do in hot oil; it does not get crispy and hard, but in fact softens and stays moist. The minor but important addition of corn starch provides the contrasting, every so slightly crisp exterior (more…)


  10. Bao de Bing, Bao de Beng!

    February 16, 2012 by brett

    The evolution, which is still ongoing, of this recipe travels the globe. It started out as a Kenyan recipe for a sweetened, yeast-risen rice pancake tinged with cardamom. We were enjoying that for a while. Then one day, I ran out of rice flour and threw in a bunch of glutinous rice flour. Chewier and nicer — toddler smiles all around. The next day, I adjusted some of the dry ingredients and along the way, accidentally left out the cardamom. The result? Something definitely Chinese in texture and flavor and even bigger toddler smiles. (more…)