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    Chinese Hot and Sour Soup

    Craving Hot and Sour Soup just like your favorite Chinese restaurant? This recipe will hit the spot! It’s made with Chinese mushrooms, bamboo shoots, tofu, and a beaten egg.

    Hot and sour soup is a lot like chili; every family has their own recipe, and each family thinks that theirs is the best.
    When I was in the local Chinese market perusing the mushrooms I asked one of the other shoppers, a tiny and ancient woman half my height whose etched wrinkles framed a friendly smile, where the wood ear mushrooms were.
    “What are you using them for?”
    “Hot and sour soup,” I replied.
    “What? You don’t want those. Here,” she grabbed a bag of dried shiitake, “use these.”
    “No! You don’t want those for hot and sour soup!” cried another, more stout lady behind me. She said something in Cantonese to the first lady before grabbing a fresh bunch of enoki mushrooms and throwing them in my basket. “This is better.”

    Soon, nine women were having an all out argument in the middle of the aisle. I was stuck in the middle, caught between volleys of angry insults and defenses of cherished family recipes for hot and sour soup, both in Cantonese and English.
    People insulted each other’s families, critiqued the various provinces of China (all were in agreement that the people in the North, apparently, can’t cook good soup), and altered the contents of my shopping basket at whim.
    Eventually, a decision was reached that you absolutely have to use black fungus—an apt, but unappetizing name for a delightful ingredient—and lily buds. The other mushroom is up to you. Whatever one you decide on be sure to be ready to defend your choice.

    What Is Hot and Sour Soup?
    Hot and Sour Soup is a favorite Chinese menu item, and it has a long history in traditional Chinese cuisine. As you can tell by the story above, there are many “right” ways to make it!
    The predominant flavors in the soup are a spicy and sour, with earthy flavors from the mushrooms. The textures are also a contrast between silkiness from the tofu and egg and the crunchy, chewiness of the mushrooms.
    What are the Ingredients for Hot and Sour Soup?
    The hardest part about making hot and sour soup is really just collecting all the ingredients. Once you have those, you can have a bowl of restaurant-worthy soup on the table in under an hour!
    Here are some of the specialty ingredients you’ll need:
    Dried Chinese black fungus
    Dried wood ear, black, cloud, straw or shiitake mushrooms (or one bunch fresh enoki mushrooms)
    Lily buds
    Can of bamboo shoots
    Rice vinegar
    White pepper (do not substitute black pepper)
    You can sometimes find these ingredients at a well-stocked gourmet grocery store, but your best bet is to head to your closest Asian supermarket.
    BONUS: The mushrooms and lily buds will keep for quite some time in the pantry. You can have hot and sour soup whenever the craving hits!
    Vegetarian Hot and Sour Soup
    My version of hot and sour soup is made with chicken broth, but you can easily substitute vegetable broth for a vegetarian version.
    Storing and Freezing
    This soup is really best eaten as soon as its made and does not freeze well. If you have leftovers, reheat them gently on the stovetop over low heat.
    More Classic Chinese Recipes!
    Updated January 31, 2021 : We spiffed up this post to make it sparkle. No changes to the original recipe. LEGGI TUTTO

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    Homemade Pizza

    Classic homemade pizza recipe, including pizza dough and toppings, step-by-step instructions with photos. Make perfect pizza at home! Continue reading “Homemade Pizza” » LEGGI TUTTO

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    Traditional chai tea recipe, prepared with full-bodied black tea, star anise, cloves, allspice, cinnamon, white peppercorns, cardamom, whole milk and sugar.

    Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

    The first time I had chai, I was in a small rented room in the Chungking Mansion in Hong Kong (notoriously cheap accommodations). Our little cel block area probably had 4 bedrooms, and one little old Chinese lady who sat in the entryway and managed them.
    The morning after my arrival I was still reeling from the shock of my expectations when I booked the place (“Chungking Mansion, my that sounds quite nice”) compared to the reality of the place, when the little old lady asked me, “Chai?”, pointing to a pot on the stove.

    “Sure,” I replied, not knowing exactly what was coming, perhaps tea?
    Boy was I surprised, and in the best possible way. Chai is tea, black tea, but tea steeped in milk, flavored with spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, and star anise, and sweetened with sugar or honey.
    This wonderful chai was the best discovery in Hong Kong; I couldn’t wait to spend another night in the Mansion, just to have some more chai in the morning. That was over 30 years ago and since then chai has become much more popular here.

    The other day my friend Suzanne served up some delicious chai and told me more of her experiences with it while in the Peace Corp in Africa. According to Suzanne, families have chai recipes the way they have curry recipes, every one a little different and each particular to a family.
    It can conveniently be made all in one pot, and you can use sweetened condensed milk from a can – important in the tropics. If you really want the authentic experience, drink it from a tin cup. Here is the way that Suzanne makes her chai:

    Chai Recipe

    Spice ingredients for one pot of tea:
    1/2 of a star anise star
    10-12 whole cloves
    6-7 whole allspice
    1 heaping teaspoon of cinnamon bark (or 2 short sticks)
    6-7 whole white peppercorns
    1 cardamon pod opened to the seeds

    Other ingredients:
    1 cup water
    4 cups whole milk
    2 heaping tablespoons of a high quality full-bodied broad-leaf black tea (Ceylon, or English Breakfast if a broad-leaf Ceylon is not available)


    1 In a 2-qt saucepan, add spices to 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil; remove from heat; let steep for 5-20 minutes, depending on how strong a spice flavor you want.
    2 Add 4-6 cups of whole milk to the water and spices. If you don’t have whole milk, you can also use non-fat or low-fat milk, just add some cream to it, a few tablespoons. Bring the milk and spice mixture just to a boil and remove from heat.
    3 Add the tea to the milk and let steep for 5 to 10 minutes to taste. (Option at this point – reheat to a simmer and remove from heat.) You can add sugar at this point, or serve without sugar and let people put the amount of sugar in they want. Traditionally, sugar is added before serving.
    4 Strain into a pot. Serve. Add sugar to taste.

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    Elise Bauer
    Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family’s recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.
    More from Elise LEGGI TUTTO

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    Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cheesecake

    Strawberry puree gives this no-bake cheesecake its pink blush and ripe berry flavor. Fresh whole strawberries cover the top and a thick drizzle of chocolate makes this dessert worthy of its name. 

    I’ve gotten out of my morning smoothie habit, which has temporarily been replaced by the Baked Oatmeal I’m currently obsessed with. I can’t explain it, but those oats are helping me live my best life right now. So, the big bag of frozen strawberries I use for smoothies has been hanging out in my freezer with no purpose, other than getting in my way when I’m looking for something else.

    Then I remembered that there’s a romantic holiday coming up, and a strawberry dessert would be timely right now for those planning ahead. I decided to thaw and puree those berries for a special Valentine’s Day dessert (although you don’t need to a special occasion to make it!).

    Chocolate cookie crumbs mixed with melted butter forms the foundation on which the cheesecake is built. Press the mixture into a springform pan and 1-inch up the side, but don’t worry about getting it perfect. An irregular crust edge gives this cake rustic appeal and will save some prep time. The crust is the only portion of this recipe that is baked, and that’s just for 10 minutes to set it.

    The billowy filling consists of a holy trinity of creamy ingredients: cream cheese, sour cream, and whipped cream. Strawberry puree gives all of this cream bright berry flavor and a light pink hue.

    The cheesecake refrigerated overnight while I considered an appropriate topping. Since chocolate-covered strawberries are practically the Valentine’s Day mascot (sorry Cupid!) I had my answer and added fresh strawberries to my grocery list.

    The capped berries placed with their points skyward almost look like a strawberry mountain range from the right angle. Much like a French fruit tart, I brushed them with strawberry preserve which gave the berries some extra sweetness and shine.

    Chocolate is generously drizzled on top of the berries. Of course this is heavenly on the fresh strawberries, but it also ties well with  the crumbly cookie crust. 

    Chocolate-covered strawberry goodness, right here!

    I could not resist a dusting of powdered sugar on top. It’s totally unnecessary, but I love the snowy appearance.

    Light and fluffy, this cheesecake is the polar opposite of dense New York cheesecake. It’s almost mousse-like and when you plate a slice it has a slight wobble, almost like panna cotta. 

    It’s wonderfully soft and the sour cream gives it tangy flavor. It would be a special dessert for Valentine’s Day, but the flavors of chocolate and strawberry together are evergreen. This cake should be enjoyed year-round! 

    [click to print]
    Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cheesecake (No-Bake)
    Yields 8-10 servings1 1/4 cups (150g) chocolate cookie crumbs
    1/4 cup (57g) unsalted butter, melted
    16 oz. frozen strawberries, thawed
    16 oz. (2 packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
    1 cup (230g/8 oz.) sour cream
    1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
    2 envelopes (.25 oz. each) powdered unflavored gelatin
    1/2 cup cold water
    1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
    24 fresh strawberries
    1/3 cup (113g) strawberry preserves
    4 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
    1 tablespoon vegetable oilPreheat oven to 350F. Coat a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray.Combine the chocolate cookie crumbs and melted butter together in a medium bowl. Mix well to coat the crumbs with the butter. Pour into the springform pan and press into the bottom and 1/2” to 1” up the sides of the pan. Bake for 10 minutes to set the crust. Cool completely on a wire rack.Puree the thawed strawberries in a food processor, blender, or with an immersion blender until no lumps of fruit remain. Set aside.In the large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment, combine the cream cheese, sour cream and sugar. Beat well until creamy and consistent with no lumps. Pour in the strawberry puree and mix again. Let the mixer run on low speed while you prepare the gelatin mixture.In a small saucepan sprinkle the powdered gelatin over the cold water. Let stand until well absorbed, about 2 minutes. Place over medium-low heat and cook just until the gelatin liquifies. With the mixer still running, pour the gelatin in a thin stream into the cream cheese mixture. Fold in the whipped cream (this step may take some time, and if lumps remain, disperse them by lightly whipping the mixture with a whisk). Pour the batter into the crust and refrigerate until set, about 3 hours or overnight. To unmold, lightly run a knife’s point around the top edge of the cheesecake; loosen the springform collar and allow the cake to naturally pull away from the collar as you slowly loosen it from all sides of the cake.Wash, dry, and cap the fresh strawberries. Place the berries on top of the set cheese cake cut-side down. Place the preserves in a small microwave-safe bowl and heat in the microwave at 100% power until melted, about 30 seconds. Let cool slightly. The preserve should be runny and liquid. Brush the berries with the preserves using a pastry brush and pour any remaining preserve liquid over the center of the cake.Place the chopped chocolate in a small microwave-safe bowl and microwave at 100% power in 30 second intervals until the chocolate can be stirred smooth. Immediately add the vegetable oil (you can use any neutral-tasting oil) to the chocolate and mix until well combined. Transfer the melted mixture to a piping bag with the end snipped, or a zip-top bag with a corner snipped. Drizzle the chocolate in thick ribbons over the strawberries, allowing it to fall over the peaks and crevices of the fresh berry topping.Refrigerate until ready to serve. To slice, use a very sharp chef’s knife to cut through the berries and chocolate on top. Store leftovers covered in plastic wrap in the refrigerator.
    link Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cheesecake By Heather Baird Published: Thursday, January 28, 2021Thursday, January 28, 2021Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cheesecake Recipe LEGGI TUTTO

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    Brookie Cookies

    Can’t decide between your two favorite childhood sweets? Now you don’t have to. Part brownie, part chocolate chip cookie, these Brookie Cookies hold the best of both worlds.

    When done correctly, a dessert mashup is truly a thing of beauty. And these Brookie Cookies are a recent fave. Each element stays true to its original form. The brownie portion is chewy and chocolaty with a soft middle. The chocolate chip cookie half is puffy, chewy, and bakes to golden-edged perfection. The two textures compliment each other because they are so similar – soft baked – and yet they hold together well for a dunk in ice cold milk (which I recommend!). 

    Whipping up the two cookie doughs for this treat takes a little more time than a regular cookie recipe, but the steps are not complicated. I recommend using a cookie scoop to portion the dough (this one) which will speed the process and make kitchen life easier in general. 

    I also recommend portioning all of one flavor of dough, washing the cookie scoop, and then portioning all of the second dough. You’ll find the dough balls unsticky enough to handle, and assembly is simply squishing one of each flavor together and rolling it in a ball between your palms.

    This recipe makes more than 3 dozen cookies, so you’ll want to share the wealth! They keep well for about 5 days stored in zip top bags with the air removed. 

    Rich cookies such as these deserve a tall glass of ice cold milk as accompaniment. For me, just one cookie is the best sweet ending to dinner. They’re also worth a bookmark if you’re looking to surprise and delight friends and family with doorstep cookie deliveries. 

    [click to print]
    Brookie Cookies
    Yields about 3 1/2 dozenChocolate chip cookie dough
    3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks, 170 grams) unsalted butter, softened
    3/4 cup (157 grams) light brown sugar, packed
    1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
    1 large egg plus 1 large yolk
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    2 1/4 cups (282 grams) all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
    12 oz. (1 package, 340 grams) semi-sweet chocolate chipsBrownie cookie dough
    1 1/3 cups (265 grams) granulated sugar
    1 cup (85 grams) unsweetened dark cocoa powder
    1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (142g) unsalted butter
    2 large eggs
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 cup (120 grams) all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1/4 teaspoon kosher saltFor the chocolate chip cookie dough: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar; beat until mixture is lightened. Beat in the egg and then the egg yolk. Add the vanilla extract, mixing until well-blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together the 2 1/4 cups flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the creamed mixture and beat on low speed until just incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips. Cover and set aside.For the brownie dough: Whisk together the sugar and cocoa in a large mixing bowl; set aside. In a microwave safe bowl, heat the butter in 30 second intervals in microwave on 100% power until completely melted (about 1 minute to 1 minute 30 seconds total). Pour butter into the bowl with sugar and cocoa; stir until smooth. Add the eggs to mixture one at a time, stirring after each addition until completely incorporated. Stir in the vanilla. Add the flour, baking powder and salt; stir until well combined. Cover and set aside.Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheet with parchment paper.Using a small cookie scoop (4 teaspoon capacity) portion out all of the chocolate chip cookie dough onto a cookie sheet. Wash and dry the cookie scoop, then portion out the brownie dough in the same manner. (If you don’t have a cookie scoop, portion dough using measuring spoons, about 1 1/2 level tablespoons for each dough ball.) Press a chocolate chip cookie dough ball and brownie dough ball together and roll between your palms into a ball. Repeat with remaining dough balls. Place each dough ball about two inches apart on prepared baking sheets, and bake for 10-12 minutes or until well puffed and lightly golden on the edges of the chocolate chip cookie halves.Remove from oven, and let cool on baking sheets about 3 minutes before moving cookies on to cooling racks to cool completely.Notes: You may have a little chocolate chip cookie dough left over after assembling the brookies. Press two of the chocolate chip cookie dough balls together, roll, and bake for the same amount time as the brookies.To enhance the beauty of the chocolate chip portion of the cookies, dot a few extra chocolate chips on top immediately after you remove them from the oven.
    link Brookie Cookies By Heather Baird Published: Monday, January 25, 2021Monday, January 25, 2021Brookie Cookies Recipe LEGGI TUTTO

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    Bread Slice Sugar Cookies

    These little bread slices bring a fun new shape to slice-and-bake sugar cookies. There's no special equipment required to make them, and they are super simple to decorate! This week I wanted to make something a little bit lighthearted to amuse myself (and maybe you, too!). These tiny bread slice cookies were just the thing. I had developed a version of these years ago for The Etsy Journal in the form of Fairy Bread Cookies, but there are so many other ways they can be decorated. I decided to whip up a batch just for fun, and I'm so glad I did!Continued, click to read more… LEGGI TUTTO

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    Dark Chocolate Sumac Brownies

    Ground sumac is the surprising magic ingredient in these rich chocolate brownies. It adds tang and enhances dark cocoa notes with new depth of flavor.  

    If you had asked me two weeks ago what to do with ground sumac, I would have rattled off a list of savory recipes and handed you my favorite kofta kabob recipe. It held no place in my mind as an ingredient for sweet things, but I’m not sure why. One sniff of the crimson powder reveals notes of tart raspberry, red florals, something lemony; a host of opportunity for the sweet kitchen.

    While I’m still exploring the possibilities of ground sumac in sweets, there’s one place where it clearly belongs. Paired with dark chocolate, it punches up the flavor and brings forward hidden subtleties. You won’t be able to identify the spice on its own in these brownies, but you’ll know it’s there by the intensity of the chocolate flavor. 

    If you’re not familiar with sumac, it’ s a wild flowering plant that grows in the Mediterranean and yields red berries. The fruit is dried and ground which releases its tangy fragrance and flavor. It is widely used in Middle Eastern recipes, and most often in savory fare. If you reside in the US as I do, you’ll find it in the Middle Eastern spices section at the grocery store, and it is widely available for order online. 

    The brownie recipe I’m using originates from Ovenly, the salty-sweet themed cookbook from the eponymous bakery in New York. (see here). It’s hard to improve upon a recipe such as this, and the end result is pretty spectacular on its own, but the magic ingredient of ground sumac really ups the ante. 

    To further intensify and punctuate the flavors, a sprinkling of thin Maldon salt is scattered on top of the brownie batter. Most of the brittle flakes melt as the brownie sheet bakes, but you’ll know its there when you take a bite. If you own my second cookbook (Sea Salt Sweet) then you know I’m a huge fan of Maldon salt, as I’ve written a primer on the best salts to use in desserts. I’d urge you to pick up a small tin of this salt if you don’t already have it in your pantry. 

    Just like coffee brings out the flavors or chocolate, sumac plays the same role but in a different way. There’s a new tartness, subtle red cherry notes, a lingering fruity floral… something. The things I can’t articulate are best described by tasting the goods. I hope you’ll give these a try!

    If you’ve experimented with ground sumac in your baking, I’d love to hear about your results!

    [click to print]
    Dark Chocolate Sumac Brownies
    Yields 12-16 brownies
    Adapted from Ovenly: Sweet and Salty Recipes1 cup (226 grams) unsalted butter, cubed
    1 cup (100 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
    1/4 cup (25 grams) dark unsweet cocoa powder
    1/2 cup (63 grams) all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
    2 teaspoons ground sumac
    3/4 teaspoon salt
    4 large eggs, room temperature
    3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
    3/4 cup (170 grams) packed brown sugar flaky sea salt, such Maldon, for garnishPreheat the oven to 350F. Coat an 8-inch square baking pan with flour-based cooking spray (recommend Baker’s Joy). Alternatively, line the pan with foil that overhangs two sides and grease the foil.On the stovetop, melt the butter in a small saucepan on medium heat. Set aside to cool until barely warm but still liquid.In a large mixing bowl, sift together cocoa powder, dark cocoa powder, flour, espresso powder, ground sumac, and salt.In a large glass measure with a pour spout, whisk together eggs, granulated sugar and brown sugar. Stir half of the egg mixture into the cocoa powder mixture. Stir in the melted butter. Finally, stir in the remaining egg mixture until just smooth. Do not over-mix.Pour the batter into prepared baking pan, and level evenly in the pan using an offset spatula. Sprinkle Maldon salt over the top of the batter before baking. Don’t be shy here, Maldon salt is very thin and less salty than table salt. Sprinkle liberally to make sure the top is well-speckled with the salt.Bake brownies about 20 minutes, or just until center is set (check at 20 minutes; bake for 5 more minutes if needed). Remove from oven and let cool in the pan. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.For neatest slices, refrigerate for 30 minutes before cutting, if desired. Brownies will stay fresh up to five days if stored in an airtight container, or frozen for up to two months well wrapped and double bagged in freezer bags.
    link Dark Chocolate Sumac Brownies By Heather Baird Published: Wednesday, January 20, 2021Wednesday, January 20, 2021Dark Chocolate Sumac Brownies LEGGI TUTTO

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    Classic Opera Cake

    This classic French cake is made with layers of almond sponge, potent coffee syrup, French buttercream, and chocolate ganache. It's worthy of any special occasion.Ah, Opera Cake. This coffee lover's dream-come-true is a six layer affair, stacked with three layers of almond sponge, soaked with espresso syrup and alternating layers of French buttercream and butter ganache. It has been described as 'elaborate' which is true. Its preparation calls for your time, patience, and a candy thermometer, but the end result is so worth the effort. It is one of my favorite cakes of all time, and it's certainly one to try if you're looking to hone your skills in patisserie. Continued, click to read more… LEGGI TUTTO