Homemade Taco Shells

Homemade Taco Shells

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You will need:

 

1 cup flour

¼ tsp salt

½ tsp baking powder

½ Tbsp lard

95 ml water

 

Tacos are an easy, nutritious, and delicious meal made better by baking your own taco shells. It’s so much easier than you would think. Here’s how it’s done.

 

First you will need to remove the wire rack from inside the oven and then preheat to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Next whisk together your dry ingredients to make sure everything gets combined evenly. Next you will mix the lard in by hand until the mix resembles small crumbs. Now mix in the water until it forms a dough. Knead for 10 minutes to develop the gluten and create a smooth elastic dough. Divide into 6 equal portions and rest for 20 minutes covered by plastic.

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Roll out each one as flat as you can. Rest 20 minutes again and fry over medium heat until it starts to bubble then flipping it to fry the other side. Once they are cool enough to handle, arrange in the wire rack and bake them until they turn golden and crispy.

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Remove with tongs and enjoy with your favorite toppings.

 

Flaky Scallion Pancakes

Green onion cakes (also known as scallion pancakes) have been a staple of festival season in Edmonton for as long as I can remember. Savoury, greasy, and aromatic with green onion, amongst the sweetness of ice creams and mini donuts, the simplicity of fries, ketchup and the typical hot dog, green onion cakes were the standout in flavour and texture. Having grown up with my family working the Fringe, it’s one of those sensory memories intrinsically tied to the summer – inimitable.

At least that was the impression I got when I tried to recreate the magic at home 10 years ago. In the chill of winter and yearning for summer sensations, I tried my darnedest to recreate those token treats. But no matter how onion filled, how deep fried, how desperately encouraged each pancake was as it sizzled in the pan, the centre was always doughy and damp, making the crisp, well browned exterior a waste, dulling the flavours of the inclusions added. Burned by my failures, I retreated from my google searches, and thought not to try again until recently. Today’s search revealed what had previously eluded me, and I found my green onion cake redemption.

J. Kenji López-Alt of Serious Eats endured a similar initial experience to mine. “Fried dough and scallions, right? How hard could it be?” Upon discovering how to really make scallion pancakes, he took to the internet to share the two secrets: hot water dough, and lamination.

Hot Water Dough

By using a hot water dough, you denature the protein. Instead of being elastic and tenacious, the dough becomes more plastic, resulting in a dough with enough gluten to support mild lamination, but a short, chewy bite.

Lamination

The dough is laminated through being brushed with sesame seed oil, (at this point sprinkled with green onions,) rolled, wound like a snail and then flattened, creating flaky layers of evenly distributed flavour. This can even be done more than once, that flattened snail being rolled, wound and flattened again for even flakier pancakes.

Included below is López-Alt’s recipe for Extra Flakey Scallion Pancakes. Go forth and recreate those summer memories, any time of the year.

Extra Flakey Scallion Pancakes

For the Pancakes:
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting work surface
1 cup boiling water
Up to 1/4 cup toasted sesame seed oil
2 cups thinly sliced scallion greens

For the Dipping Sauce:
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Chinkiang or rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon finely sliced scallion greens
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons sugar

To Cook:
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Kosher salt

1. Place flour in bowl of food processor (see note). With processor running, slowly drizzle in about 3/4 of boiling water. Process for 15 seconds. If dough does not come together and ride around the blade, drizzle in more water a tablespoon at a time until it just comes together. Transfer to a floured work surface and knead a few times to form a smooth ball. Transfer to a bowl, cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap, and allow to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature, or up to overnight in the fridge.

2. Divide dough into four even pieces and roll each into a smooth ball. Working one ball at a time, roll out into a disk roughly 8-inches in diameter on a lightly floured surface. Using a pastry brush, paint a very thin layer of sesame oil over the top of the disk. Roll disk up like a jelly roll, then twist roll into a tight spiral, tucking the end underneath. Flatten gently with your hand, then re-roll into an 8-inch disk.

3. Paint with another layer or sesame oil, sprinkle with 1/2 cup scallions, and roll up like a jelly roll again. Twist into a spiral, flatten gently, and re-roll into a 7-inch disk. Repeat steps two and three with remaining pancakes.

4. Combine all the sauce ingredients and set aside at room temperature.

5. Heat oil in an 8-inch nonstick or cast-iron over medium-high heat until shimmering and carefully slip pancake into the hot oil. Cook, shaking the pan gently until first side is an even golden brown, about 2 minutes. Carefully flip with a spatula or tongs (be careful not to splash the oil), and continue to cook, shaking pan gently, until second side is even golden brown, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Season with salt, cut into 6 wedges. Serve immediately with sauce for dipping. Repeat with remaining 3 pancakes.

Boterkoek

Baking is a true science and for me baking is my passion, I put love into the things that I make. This makes a difference in the product, both in appearance and the way it tastes. My friends tend to say to me, ‘boy this is so good and tastes better than when I make it, what is your trick?” and my answer to them every time is one word…. Love. If you love what you do it will shine through your product and people can literally taste the difference.

My all time favourite Dutch dessert is Boterkoek (Dutch Butter Cake). This traditional Dutch dessert is somewhere between a tart and a shortbread. It has lots of butter, an almond flavour, a reminiscent of frangipane and makes a great afternoon treat at coffee/tea time. Oh my goodness my mouth is watering just thinking about it!

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As for my Oma’s recipe, now that is a secret but I will share another recipe with you all that I found to produce a delicious product.

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To make boterkoek:

  • 150g butter
    • 200g caster sugar
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
    • 1 egg, beaten
    • 200g  flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 20g flaked almonds

Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F). Line a 23cm (9 inch) cake tin with greaseproof paper.

In a medium bowl, cream the butter, sugar and almond extract until light and fluffy.

Remove one teaspoon of the beaten egg and set aside. Pour the rest of the egg into the mixture, and stir well. Add the flour and baking powder, and mix until you have a smooth dough.

Transfer the mixture to a baking tin, and pat down with the back of a spoon until smooth (you might find it easier to use clean hands to smooth the mixture). Mix the teaspoon of egg with a teaspoon of water, and brush on top of the boterkoek. Sprinkle with the flaked almonds, and bake for 25-30 minutes until just golden and firm to the touch.

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Genieten! 

Tangzhong, or Water Roux

Tangzhong is a paste of flour and water that has been cooked to fully gelatinize the present starches (then cooled before addition to your bread).

The effects of water roux can be two fold. The supplementary gelatinized starches further bind water in your bread, creating loaves or buns that stay “fresh” and soft for longer, and in binding that same water, lightly restrict gluten formation. This mild restriction means that while enough gluten forms to create good structure around the new excess of gelatinized starches, there is less of a hard protein structure to exacerbate stiffness as the bread ages.

Tangzhong is generally recommended to be mixed from a 1:5 ratio of flour to water, taken from already present total weights much in the same way one could cover a recipe to include a levain. This mixture is cooked, stirring, until it reaches 65ºC/150ºF. This slurry, cooled, is then added to your mix with your flour and liquid.

On Pastry Chef Online, Jennifer Field integrates tangzhong into a pain au lait. Having previously tested tangzhong use, she deviates slightly from the typical methodology. She uses milk in place of water (perfectly sensible in a pain au lait) and decreases the ratio difference between liquid and flour to create a thicker slurry. She integrates several bread techniques, such as autolyse making this a complex, but rewarding recipe.

Tangzhong Water Roux Pain au Lait
Recipe from Pastry Chef Online
(some steps modified for readability)

What You Need
For the tangzhong
* 6 oz whole milk
* 1.2 oz bread flour
For the Dough
* All the tangzhong
* 6 oz. whole milk
* 15.8 oz bread flour
* 4 teaspoons granulated sugar
* 1¼ teaspoons active dry yeast (from a batch of yeast you know is alive and kicking)
* 1⅛ teaspoon (7 grams) kosher salt (picky, but there you have it)
* 3.25 oz butter, cut into small pieces and allowed to get very soft

What To Do
For the tangzhong
1. Whisk together the flour and milk.
2. Once there are no lumps remaining, cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture has evenly thickened and is nice and smooth.
3. Remove from the heat and…
For the Bread
1. Pour the 6 oz of milk into the tangzhong, whisking until smooth. (This will lower the temperature so you don’t have to wait before continuing.)
2. To your mixing bowl, add all the tangzhong/milk mixture and all the rest of the ingredients except for the butter.
3. With the dough hook, mix on low speed for one minute, or until the dough just comes together. There might be some loose flour in the bowl, but don’t worry about it. It will get incorporated in the next step when you add the butter.
4. Cover the mixer bowl with a lint-free towel (you can leave the bowl on the mixer) and let rest for 30 minutes. This rest (autolyse) allows some gluten to form before you even start kneading.
5. After the rest, turn the mixer on medium-low speed and add the butter in several additions over the course of about three minutes. The dough will be a wreck–sticky, buttery, messy. Worry not.
6. Turn the mixer on medium speed and knead for 7 minutes.
7. Cover the bowl again and let rest for 20 minutes.
8. Remove the towel and knead on medium speed for 7 more minutes.
9. Test the dough. It should be somewhat tacky, very extensible (you can stretch it out really easily) and smooth. Check the dough with the windowpane test. If you can stretch out a wee piece of the dough until it is taught and translucent like bubble gum, you’re good to go.
10. Put the covered dough in the warm and moist microwave–leave the mug of water in there–and let double in size, 45 minutes-an hour.
11. Once the dough has doubled, turn it out onto a clean work surface–no flour. Lightly press the dough into a rough 9″ square.
12. Fold the dough into thirds like a letter. Then, fold it in half–it will seem an impossible task, but just start at one side and sort of push the dough down in the center of your letter fold and pinch the top and bottom edges together. Keep doing this all the way down the length of your dough. Now you will have a fat cylinder of dough about a foot long.
13. Roll the dough over (smooth side up) and hold it like a bowed up slinky.
14. Fit the dough into a pan-sprayed 9″x5″ loaf pan so the slinky’s ends are down in the bottom of the pan. Then press the dough down a bit to even it out and allow it to sit snugly in the pan.
15. Heat the mug of water for another minute or so, and spray the top of the loaf with pan spray.
16. Cover with plastic wrap and place back in the cozy microwave with its little mug friend.
17. Go ahead and set a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350ºF.
18. Let the rise until it has not quite doubled in size–it will probably rise about an inch or so above the lip of the loaf pan. This will take about 30-45 minutes.
19. Once the dough has risen nicely, place in the preheated oven and bake until the loaf is a deep golden brown. It doesn’t need any egg wash or anything. The loaf should sound hollow when tapped and the internal temperature will be between 205ºF and 210ºF.
20. Tip the bread out of the pan and onto a wire rack to cool. Let cool at least an hour.
21. Store at room temperature in an airtight container for 3-4 days. For longer storage, pre-slice, wrap well and freeze. Pull out slices as needed and leave the rest frozen.

The scientific basis of tangzhong’s successful use is fairly straight forward to the educated baker; staling is caused by the migration of moisture out of the starch, resulting in it’s degelatinization. Use fully gelatinized starch in greater amounts, hold on to more water for longer, have less degelatinization. Simple stuff. Even the reduction in gluten formation, while it may not spring immediately to mind, is easily confirmable by any book detailing the science of gluten formation. However, The science behind tangzhong is fairly difficult to find authoritative confirmation for.

Said to originally be from Japan, it was proliferated throughout south-east asia in the 1990s via the book 65º Bread Doctor by Yvonne Chen. (cited in Cookipedia) This history seems to be generally accepted in the majority of descriptions found of tangzhong, which is indeed found in such popular japanese bread products as Hokkaido milk bread. My attempts to get the information straight from the horses mouth (or at least the book the horse wrote) was waylaid by the fact that 65º Bread Doctor is in Chinese. I can find no other mention of tangzhong anywhere that does not either cite Chen’s book as the source, or is entirely uncorroborated. Tangzhong works through basic, well known mechanisms, but short Yvonne Chen’s contributions might not be so readily available through the internet to the home or novice baker.

(If you know of any further books that mention tangzhong please comment! I would love to learn more about this fascinating medium.)

Interesting ways to experiment in the future: how would a tangzhong work in tandem with a levain? Tangzhong can be made from a variety of non gluten alternatives suggested on Pastry Chef Online (which seems very successful in Gluten Free on a Shoestring.) What difference is there between such alternatives?

Dutch Baking

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To implement the love that I have for baking, I try to stay true to my roots. I am proud of my heritage and one part of that is Dutch. My Opa and Oma immigrated to Canada from the Netherlands, settled and started a grain and hog farm in Northern Alberta. One thing to know about Dutch people is that they hate to see anything go to waste. When judgment day came at my grandparents farm, it was time to butcher a pig. My grandparents use every part of the pig possible, as times were tough and this includes the hock, so why not turn it into something delicious!

Growing up, one of my absolute favourite dishes that my Oma would make is called balkenbrij (pronounced balken brie). The best way to describe this is to call it a Dutch pancake. Traditionally balkenbrij was prepared on farms at the end of the pig-slaughtering process. It is generally made from the stock left over from boiling the hock, and the meat rendered off of the bone. Boil the stock, add the meat, flour and a special spice mix of cinnamon, clove, ginger and some other spices that I cannot spill the beans on! Finally it is poured into a pan or mold and cooled off to achieve the form of a loaf. Once cool, slice the loaf very thin (1cm), dust each slice with flour and fry in lard. Once cooked sprinkle sugar on top to add the finishing touch. If sugar doesn’t hit the spot for a topping, you could add anything that you wish.

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One of my favourite traditional Dutch desserts is oliebol (pronounced oliebollen). Oliebol means, “Oil ball”. In English these tasty treats are most commonly known as Dutch doughnuts. The dough is made from flour, eggs, yeast, salt, milk, baking powder and usually sultanas, currants, raisins and occasionally candied fruit or apple. Once the dough is made you then drop an ice cream scoop full of dough into the deep fryer to make a nice sphere shape. Fry until golden brown on both sides, then remove them from the oil and place on a rack to let the oliebol cool. Once cool dust the oliebol in powdered sugar and add some cinnamon if that tickles your fancy. Yummy in my tummy!

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These sinfully delicious doughnuts are traditionally served around Christmas time. In my family we made it a tradition to make oliebol on New Years Eve, as there is always so much good food at Christmas and this was a real treat to have.

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Tot de volgende keer

Alfajores

 

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Alfajores are simply a Dulce de leche sandwich cookie that is one of the national desserts of Chile especially on September 18th which is when we celebrate our independence.

Dulce de leche is a staple in all of Chile’s national desserts but alfajores has got to be the best, I mean who wouldn’t love a shortbread like cookie filled with the caramelized goodness that Dulce de leche is.

Some of the other treats Dulce de leche is used for in Chile is Torta de mil Hojas (thousand layer cake) which is essentially thin wafer sheets layered with nothing other than Dulce da leche topped off with shredded coconut and crushed walnuts, and last but not least you have to have Brazo de Raina (queens arm), picture a jelly roll but instead of jelly it is filled of course with Dulce de leche and rolled in shredded coconut, surprise!

Safe to say Dulce de leche is a staple in every Chileans daily diet, and any dessert you can picture I’m sure Chileans have jammed Dulce de leche into it and rolled it in coconut, I mean why wouldn’t we it’s a combination made in heaven!

Give this classic alfajores recipe a try, they are so soft they’ll melt in your mouth!

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups (200g/7 oz.) all-purpose flour
  • 2⅛ cups (300g/10.5 oz.) cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 and ¾ sticks (200g/7 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup (150g/5.3 oz.) granulated sugar*
  • 1-2 teaspoons grated lemon zest, optional
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 350g (12 oz.) Dulce de leche, for filling
  • ½ cup unsweetened shredded or desiccated coconut, for rolling

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.
  2. In a mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, sugar, and lemon zest on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla extract just until combined. Reduce speed to low. Add the flour mixture and beat just until combined. Do not over mix or the cookies will turn out tough.
  3. Form the dough into a ball, then flatten slightly to form a disc. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours, until firm enough to roll.
  4. If you don’t want to use the dough right away, you can refrigerate it for up to 3 days or freeze it for up to a month, then thaw it overnight in the fridge.
  5. Take the dough out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter for a few minutes to soften slightly for easy rolling. On a lightly floured surface (or between 2 pieces of parchment paper), roll the dough to a ⅛ or ¼-inch (3-5mm) thickness. Cut out into rounds using a 2-inch (5cm) fluted or round cookie cutter, and place the cookies on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
  6. If at any point the dough becomes too warm, place it back into the fridge for a few minutes. Re-roll the remaining scraps and repeat. Place sheets with cookies in the freezer or fridge for at least 15 minutes, until firm, so that they will be less prone to spreading.
  7. Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Bake for 7-10 minutes, or until cookies appear golden brown at the edges. Allow cookies to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then gently transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. Spread the bottom half of the cookies with Dulce de leche (about a teaspoon). Sandwich together with remaining cookies, pressing slightly so that the caramel oozes out the sides. Roll the sides in shredded coconut.
  9. Store cookies at room temperature in an airtight container for up to a week or freeze for up to 2 months. To thaw, leave on the counter, still covered, or overnight in the fridge.

 

if you are not a coconut person dusting these cookies with icing sugar is also a great treat or if you’re feeling extra fancy cover them in chocolate!

Dulce de leche is something you can find in any supermarket in Chile but is much more of a rare treat in our stores in Canada so if you are having trouble finding some, here an easy way to make your own at home!

Get some cans of sweeten condensed milk, peel the labels and place in a pot with about an inch or two of water and bring to a boil once boiling bring heat to low and simmer, make sure to keep an eye on water levels and keep topping it off as the water evaporates to keep it at a steady 1-2 inches at all times.

Simmer for 1 hour then using tongs flip cans upside down and simmer for 1 hour or 2 depending on how rich you want the caramel colour and flavour to be and if you have more time boil for 3 hours and you’ll get a rich thick filling which would be more of the traditional filling for the alfajores!

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Here’s the difference between the two! The left simmered for probably 2:45 before it was all said and done; the right simmered for 2 hours.

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Here’s a can that was simmered for an overall of 3 hour! this would be the ideal for alfajores and all Chilean desserts.

Hope you get a chance to try out one of my childhood favourite treats, enjoy!

 

 

Fry Bread.

Growing up in a very small Cree community has meant I’ve been exposed to some foods that are not necessarily common place. Case in point? Moose nose stew, not exactly for the faint of heart. Bone marrow from the thigh bone of a moose? Surprisingly tasty on a bit of bannock. But one of my favourite treats from my Cree background would have to be piping hot, fresh out of the canola oil, frybread.

My generation of Cree, which I will affectionately call the “younger” generation, have discovered the versatility of this treat. Making larger pieces of frybread and using it as a burger bun. Using flatter frybread as a base for tacos. Personally, I will even make bite size pieces and toss with cinnamon sugar. My kokum, or as non-Cree folk would say, grandma, still eats it the traditional way, with butter and Roger’s Syrup. A great example of people with innovative ideas about Cree twists on classics would be the folks over at Aboriginal Delights. I highly recommend their “bannock burger”.

native delights 3indian tacos     sweet frybread

 

Frybread in its most basic form is made up of four simple ingredients; all purpose flour, baking powder, salt, and water. Find a good balance for the formula, toss it in some canola oil and, BAM, you’ve got frybread. Learning how to make frybread from my mom was quite the experience, measurements weren’t very common place when she learned her way around the kitchen. After a few attempts I finally had an estimate for her measurements, so here we go!

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First things first, frybread will be fried in about half an inch of oil over medium to high heat. Heating the oil is really the longest part of the process. Then we combine 2 cups of flour, 4 teaspoons of baking powder, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Next, a small well is made in the middle of the dry goods and in goes a cup of water. Using a fork, give the dough a few stirs to come together and then finish working it together on a lightly dusted counter. Flatten it out by hand to roughly half an inch thick and then cut into however many pieces you’d like, I typically cut it into 6. Make a small cut in the middle of each piece, this ensures an even fry, and then carefully drop into the hot oil. Cook until golden brown then flip over for the same colour, this should take from 3 to 5 minutes. When done place on a plate with paper towel. And there you have it, straight out of my kokums kitchen! This is one of my favourite recipes to experiment with and the possibilities are endless.

ki’htwa’m ka-wa’p(a)mit(i)na’wa’w.

(I’ll see you people again. -Cree)

Passport to Baked Good(nes)s

I can’t say that I’m an intrepid adventurer but I have seen different parts of the world. Many of my memories of these places are linked to food.

I spent three weeks touring Peru with my sister and her friends. The highlight of that trip was the Lares to Machu Picchu trek. During the trek, we visited with a couple living in the middle of the Andes. They kept live guinea pigs in cages underneath their beds. Later on, our group stopped at a restaurant where they served us whole roasted guinea pig. Initially, I was grossed out at seeing whole guinea pigs but the staff took them away and chopped them into bite size pieces. I did try a bit. It reminded me of herb roasted chicken, with extra gristle!  Also, while visiting Lake Titicaca I had trout. I don’t remember trying any Peruvian desserts but I do remember having banana splits for supper one night. I was young at the time so it was fun to break the rules, and it was a comforting reminder of home.

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My travels have been valuable experiences. However, people don’t have to leave the comfort of their own homes to have culinary adventures. Take this blog for instance. Through it, people of different backgrounds get to share their baking experiences. We as readers get to live out their adventures through these pages and we have the option to try out the recipes. The Internet, TV, and cookbooks have opened the doors to delicious destinations.

Besides media and technology, a big part of the adventure comes through living our lives. When I went through NAIT’s Culinary arts program, I made and filled cannoli shells as a part of a test in the international food and culture course. Here’s the recipe that I used:

Homemade Cannoli Recipe with Mascarpone Cream

Becky. Homemade Cannoli Recipe with Mascarpone Cream. Accessed March 18, 2015. From http://www.thevintagemixer.com/2012/03/homemade-cannoli-recipe-with-mascarpone-cream/

Yield: 16 cannoli

Make cream filling and refrigerate. Make dough, roll out and cut into circles. Fry dough using cannoli forms. Let cool for 15 minutes. Fill cannoli with cream and then dip ends into chocolate

Ingredients

Cannoli Shells

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 3/8 cup sweet Marsala wine
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 large egg white, lightly beaten
  • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate (preferably 61 percent cacao)
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Mascarpone Creme

  • 3/4 cup whole milk ricotta cheese (drained overnight w/ cheesecloth & squeezed dry)
  • 3/4 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla or Grand Marnier
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

Cannoli Shells

  1. Combine flour, granulated sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add Marsala and oil, and beat on medium speed until dough comes together. Using your hands, knead dough on a lightly floured work surface until smooth and elastic, about 15 minutes. Wrap in plastic, and let rest 30 minutes.
  2. Divide dough into 2 pieces. Pass 1 piece of dough through the widest setting of a pasta machine (keep remaining pieces covered) OR roll out into a thin sheet of dough. Continue passing through narrower settings until it is the thickness of a dime. Lay on a floured work surface. Cut out rounds with a 3 1/4-inch cutter. Gather scraps and reroll.
  3. Pour enough oil into a large, heavy saucepan to come about 4 inches up sides. Heat over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 380 degrees.
  4. Wrap each round of dough around a 3 3/4-inch-long cannoli form, sealing with a dab of egg white. Working in batches of 3 or 4, fry until golden, about 1 minute. Using a wire skimmer or tongs, transfer to paper towels, and let cool 5 minutes. Carefully slide out forms, and let shells cool. Continue rolling, cutting, and frying the remaining dough.
  5. Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Dip ends of cannoli shells in melted chocolate. Let set 15 minutes on parchment paper.

Mascarpone Cream

  1. Mix filling ingredients together.
  2. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use (at least a couple of hours).
  3. When ready to serve, use a ziploc bag (cut the corner) or pastry bag with 1/2 inch star tip. Pipe filling into one end of a shell to the center, then into other end. Repeat with remaining shells and filling. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, and serve immediately.
  4. Let the filling smoosh out of each end of the shells, just a tad.
  5. Some people sprinkle powdered sugar on top right before serving or dip the ends into chocolate shavings.

Here’s a YouTube video showing you how to make the shells.

While going to school, I have worked part time at Popular Bakery. It’s owned by a Portuguese family. One of their specialties are a Portuguese custard tart or Pasteis de Nata, as they call them. For a recipe follow this link:

http://leitesculinaria.com/7759/recipes-portuguese-custard-tarts-pasteis-de-nata.html

Pasteis de Nata | Portuguese Custard Tarts Recipe

Without even leaving Canada, I got to experience Italian and Portuguese desserts. Canada is a melting pot of cultures. Within Edmonton, there are many local and ethnic baked goods just waiting for you to discover.  So get out there and explore. I hope you find baked goodness and make delicious memories.

 

Sweet Soup

糖水, pronounced Tong Sui, literally translates to “sugar water” in English. It is classified into two main types. Northern China ‘s variation is more viscous (hence why it is commonly referred to as Sweet Soup), while Southern China’s take on it is more watery (hence why it is known as Sweet Water). The dessert commonly contains toppings such as mango, red beans, glutinous rice balls, taro, grass jelly, tapioca, hard boiled eggs, bean curd, sweet potato, etc. Therefore it is more suitable to ask someone if they’d like to eat sweet soup rather than drink sweet soup.

More traditional types of the dessert include tangyuan (glutinous rice balls), red bean soup/paste, mung bean soup, tofu pudding, steamed egg custard, sweet potato soup, peanut paste soup, and sweet almond soup.

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Photos from left to right: red bean soup with glutinous rice balls, peanut paste soup, sweet potato soup. 

Some modern and more trendy variations include sago(tapioca), papaya with snow ear fungus, black glutinous rice, and my personal favorite: mango pomelo sago !!!

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Photos from left to right: sago with red beans, papaya with snow ear fungus, mango pomelo sago.

Fun fact: There is a special type of sweet soup called lotus seed and lily  that is a traditional dessert eaten by the bride and groom before or during their wedding day that symbolizes a long happy marriage and hopes of having children soon.

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Photos from left to right: Lotus seed and lily sweet soup, traditional tea ceremony during a Chinese wedding.

I usually don’t make much Asian desserts at home because I must admit that my grandma is the pro when it comes to Chinese food. I have made tangyuan/glutinous rice balls filled with red bean paste in junior high and since then I haven’t really made much else. Last night I decided to try making a type of sweet soup with a combination of some of my favorite ingredients: tapioca and glutinous black rice !

 

Tapioca with Glutinous Black Rice and Taro

Makes 4 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 200g Taro
  • 1 can Coconut Milk
  • 150g Uncooked Tapioca
  • 100g Black Glutinous Rice
  • 1000g Water
  • 20g Rock Sugar (can add more to taste)

 

Procedure:

  1. Before starting the recipe, soak glutinous rice in water for 2-3 hours.
  2. Peel and small/medium dice the taro. Steam for about 15-20 minutes until soft. Reserve.
  3. Boil a pot of water and pour in tapioca. Cook 8-10 minutes. Stir often. When cooked pour through a strainer and run under cold water for 1 minute.
  4. Strain the glutinous rice from the water and boil in 1000g water for about 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add rock sugar to taste. Depending on the liquid remaining in the pot, save about half the liquid.
  5. Combine the taro, coconut milk, tapioca, and black glutinous rice to taste. Dessert can be eaten hot or chilled.

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Recipe adapted from http://www.daydaycook.com/recipe/2/details/28361/index.html

PAN DE COCO (Coconut Bread)

 I’ve always wanted to learn more about Filipino-Spanish delicacies. And so I had a chance to work at a Filipino bakery during my work experience for 3 weeks at MANILA SWEETS BAKERY. It was a fun experience learning more about our traditional breads and sweet desserts. Learn a few skills on how they make the bread.

Back in the Philippines , When I was a kid I remember going to this bakery right beside our house and I would always buy a freshly baked Pan de Coco or Spanish bread . This bread can be eaten as for breakfast, dessert or even as a snack (merienda).

Sweet dough with a Dehydrated or fresh grated coconut cooked in sugar caramel is added in a bread as filling. there is another called Pan de Ube (purple yum) filling.

Ingredients
  • 4 Cups bread flour
  • ¾ Cup warm milk
  • 2 Teaspoon rapid rise yeast
  • ¼ Cup white sugar
  • 4 Eggs
  • ½ Tablespoon salt
  • ¾ Cup melted butter
  • 1 egg beaten with a splash of water (egg wash)

 

FILLINGS

  • 1 Cup brown sugar
  • 1 Cup sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon softened butter
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 Teaspoon vanilla
    1. Put brown sugar and melted butter in a sauce pan.
    2. Give a quick stir, then add water.
    3. Keep stirring in medium heat, add vanilla and cook until thicken.
  1. Mix together warm milk, yeast, sugar and eggs.
  2. Mix flour and salt, add melted butter.
  3. Combine egg mixture to the flour mixture, mix well to form a dough.
  4. Turn dough into a well-floured surface and knead until soft and elastic.
  5. Cover with a cloth and allow to rise for 1 hour or until it doubles in size.
  6. Divide dough ,Form dough into a ball, flatten it by hand or rolling pin.
  7. Place about 1 tablespoon of filling at the center. Pinch all the side together and twist to seal the edges. Place pinched side down on parchment paper.
  8. Cover with cloth and let it rise until doubled in size, about 1 hours. egg wash it and bake at 350F for 15-20minutes.