Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Chinese Buns in the Oven

It's one of those recipes I have looked at in my cookbook for years and wanted to try, but just never got around to it.  

Ginger, Soy Sauce, and Chicken wrapped up in homemade bread.

Shaped into a bun.

Allowed to rise in a warm spot.

Brushed with an egg wash and sprinkled with sesame seeds.

Baked in a warm oven where they puff up even more.

Then cooled.

They smell fantastic. (Next time I will roll them in the egg wash to cover the entire surface.)

They make a great take out lunch for work.

Sorry for the blur.  But, yum.

They freeze well, thaw quickly, and reheat in the microwave in 50 seconds.  Great with a little extra soy sauce on the side for dipping.

Stuffed Chinese Chicken Buns 
adapted from Bread Machine by Jennie Shapter

For the Bread

  • Combine 1 tsp of yeast, 5/8 cup warm water, and 1 tsp sugar in a bowl.  Let the yeast bloom for  about 5 minutes. In a second bowl mix 2 cups flour, and 1/2 tsp salt.  Add yeast mix and 1 Tbsp soft butter to the flour.  Knead for 8 minutes by hand or with a kneading attachment on your mixer.  Cover, and let it rise for about an hour or until doubled in size.

For the Filling

  • Marinate 2 chicken breasts cut into small pieces in a bowl with a 2" piece of grated ginger, 2 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 1/2 Tbsp oil, 1 Tbsp minced garlic, 1 Tbsp honey for 30 minutes.  Heat some oil in a frying pan and cook chicken for about 6 minutes.  Add one bunch of chopped green onions and cook for a couple more minutes.  Remove from heat; add salt and pepper to taste, 2 Tbsp cilantro, and cool.
  • Divide dough into 8 pieces, press or roll into rounds, and place 1/4 cup of chicken in the center.  Fold up the edges and twist.  Place twist side down, cover with a tea towel, and let rise in a warm spot for 30 minutes.  Whip one egg yolk with 1 Tbsp of water and brush onto buns.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake 28-20 minutes @400 degrees.
Next time I will add diced carrot and chopped broccoli and mushrooms to the chicken.  A little red pepper flake and shiracha sauce would be good as well.

Monday, February 16, 2015

A Moss Garden in the Making

Walking our property over the weekend I found so many wonderful things growing.  Some of them I collected and put together in a dish to begin a moss garden.  It's a pleasant distraction now on the porch table, but look closer, really closer, and you will see it's like a whole new world.

Breaking the garden down into small glimpses with my macro lens reveal tall forests of grass with seeds waiting on the tips which are really just clumps of moss I scavenged from the muddy ground under a stand of oak trees.

A few pieces of petrified wood found on our fence line adds a bit of texture and reminds me of the large rocks at Pedernales Falls State Park, though this one is only inches in length.

But the real gems are the lichen which invaded the branch of an oak tree in the front yard.  They look like small trees themselves through my lens.  A Charlie Brown Christmas tree or desert evergreen.

Everything has either a spore or seed to spread making the tiny landscape even more interesting.

Don't forget these are tiny!  The lichen pictured below, for example, is a mere 1/2 inch in diameter; far smaller that the picture itself.

Some scenes look as though they should be hidden in the sea with parrot fish and clown fish darting in and out of the terrain.

All are so interesting.

I am fascinated by the scenes my camera could see that I could not.  Who knew lichen was hairy?

Oh the things that escape the naked eye.

And this?  This is a piece of bark peeled from a tree limb that came down in a storm.

But growing into the bark are Tillandsia, or air plants.  Their tiny roots keep them attached to the bark.

Now they are tucked into my new tiny garden of moss and will hopefully thrive.

It will be fun to watch what happens to this little garden.  Hopefully it will continue to grow, but when the Texas summer heats up I fear it may not survive.  Only time will tell.

But in the meantime, I will enjoy my unexpected garden and all the tiny treasures within.