I am currently getting organized and taking stock of my goals and priorities as I plan out a summer of oceanography research. Let’s do the same for food! There are several dishes that I’ve been wanting to try my hand at, but keep putting on the back burner for one reason or another. Maybe I’ll finally get to them this year if I make a tidy little buzzfeed-style list…
1. A Molly Yeh-Style Cake
Everything that my favorite food blogger makes is inventive and CUTE. I recently acquired small 8″ cake pans and am looking for an occasion to make a cute layered cake. Here are a few cakes by Molly Yeh that I’m feeling inspired by…
2. Braised Pork Belly (东坡肉, Dong Po Rou)
It is essential that the pork belly used in Dong Po Rou be skin-on. That seems to be hard to find in conventional grocery stores and the Asian grocery stores near us aren’t very large.
3. Soup Dumplings (小龍包)
These delicate steamed dumplings contain a delicious filling AND soup. I learned the trick to making these last year in Taipei during our cooking class in Ivy’s Kitchen: the soup is gelatin-rich and chilled thoroughly before being wrapped. Then, when steamed, the gelatin becomes a delicious soup contained within the delicate wrapper. I have some pork-skin in the freezer awaiting gelatin extraction, so now I just need to build up the courage to try it on my own!
4. Fruit Cake
I am not sure if I’ve ever actually had homemade fruitcake, but the concept of fruit (un-dyed) and nuts thrown together in a dense, moist cake and then aged with a healthy portion of liquor sounds fantastic. Of course I am aware of the reputation that fruit cake has garnered for itself, but suspect that it is simply one more good thing that America/industrialization has ruined!
My friend Maxine has generously shared her recipe, so I just need to acquire a bottle for spritzing brandy throughout the aging process.
Pfizer co-workers, remember when we were joking about making S’mores from scratch? Well, I was actually serious.
Most recipes use corn syrup, which I refuse to buy because I see it as the liquid condensed form of everything that is wrong with the American food system. There are recipes that use gelatin instead like this Paleo recipe from Cooking On Call.
6. 发面葱油饼 (Fluffy Chinese Scallion Bread)
My husband once took us WAY out of the way to obtain this bread from a specific shop in Flushing, Queens. It’s just like 葱油饼 (cong you bing), but yeasted and given time to rise and get fluffy. I’m planning to do this TODAY using this recipe.
Microbes, bacteria, and yeast… oh my!
After learning about microbial chemistry from like three different angles this year in graduate school, I will finally admit that microscopic organisms are very important to the health of the planet. There are a myriad of delicious uses for microscopic organisms that I want to further explore this summer…
I may have abandoned my German maiden-name, but my love for this vinegary classic is still strong. I only learned recently that it is incredibly easy to make it at home: you can basically rub salt into cabbage leaves and throw it into a vessel to ferment for a few days. I plan to follow this recipe from the Kitchn to make sauerkraut in a mason jar.
This drink of fermented tea is lauded for its health benefits, but I also just love the vinegary flavor. Kombucha runs $2-4 a bottle in the grocery store, so making it on my own would be awesome. There are some potential health risks if I don’t get it right, so I won’t take this on until I am certain that I have the time necessary to get my methods right.
For several months now I’ve had a sourdough starter: a mass of water and flour that has been colonized by friendly natural yeast and bacteria which is essential for making sourdough and other high-quality breads. Between the daily or weekly feedings (just adding flour and water) and getting to know how your particular starter behaves, sourdough takes a lot of time and patience to get right! I had previously tried to create my own starter, but apparently CT is not a great place to get one of these things going. This time around, I was given a portion of sourdough starter from a friend whose yeast and bacteria community was already strong and established. I would highly suggest taking this route instead of going through the effort of making your own starter!
Without the time to dedicate to careful experimentation with this sourdough during the school semester, I had been kind of winging it this whole time. Sometimes with great results, but a few times with disastrous results. I’ve been following a few instagrams/blogs dedicated to sourdough but have much more to learn about the craft. This summer I plan to learn more about sourdough, either by obtaining a book or watching/reading up on internet sources.
I am particularly inspired by the @rushyama instagram (blog: Cook Til Delicious) which often incorporates sourdough methods into classic Asian breads and pastries.
But wait… My husband has #FoodGoals too!
10. Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken
One of the many delicious things that you’ll find in Taiwanese night markets. The traditional recipe uses sweet potato starch as part of the coating, which we have gone to great lengths to acquire!