Wake Up Call

It is the worst thing to get up early in a cold winter morning. Are you tired of bread, cereals or waffles for breakfast? It is the most important meal to human beings in a day. A nice breakfast is going to act as an alarm to wake you up as well as enlighten the beginning of your day. Want to try out something new? Here is an option- Galette! What is this? It is also known as savory crepe. Galette is the French name of savory crepe. An interesting point to note is the spelling of the word savory. The American spelling of the word is savory, while British spelling comes as savoury (with a letter “u”). I came across this fact in my research process. The word savory is not equivalent to salty. According to a blog post, Sweet vs. Savory,  the word means “more fulfilling, has more ‘depth’ and more complexity of flavor”, rather than just the taste of saltiness. Although this is not a scholar or standard definition, it stands as a very convincing explanation to me.

Let us explore some background for this famous French dish. Galette’s origin is in Brittany, France. To be more specific, according to the article, Brittany Crepes and Galettes, it is originated from Haute-Bretagne (Upper Brittany), or Gallo country. The use of buckwheat wheat flour makes the galette savory crepe unique. Most of the buckwheat flour is gluten-free, which provides people who are with allergy to eat this crepe.  Sweet crepe use only egg, flour, milk and butter. Wheat flour is considered healthier compare to plain flour. Women often weight less when eating wheat containing products.  It provides higher metabolic rate along with multiple benefits for human body. Besides of health concerns, carbohydrates, calcium and protein are brought into human body after eating the Galette Savory Crepe. It is time to proceed from lecture to tutorial!

Preparation:

Wheat flour 60 grams

1 Egg

Milk  100 ml

Slice cheese  1 piece

Tuna  half canned

Turkey breast 2 slices

* Serving Portion: This is a one person serving. I made one regular and small size with the above ingredients.

Pictures show in Step 9 is the regular size and the small is in Step 10.

1) Pour the wheat flour into a mixing bowl.

2) Add the egg into the mixing bowl.

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3) Use a measuring cup to obtain 100 ml of milk, then pour it into the mixing bowl.

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4) Use a whisk to mix the ingredients evenly. The batter should be moist and without lumps.

5) Use a canned-opener to take out the tuna. Remove the water or oil before placing it into a bowl.

6) Take a fork or spoon to smash up the chunked tuna into smaller pieces.

7) Slice the turkey breast and fry it in a non-stick round frying pan. This process is to heat up the turkey. Then, leave it aside on a plate for later use.

8) Heat up the frying pan with a small amount of oil in medium heat.

9) Pour half cup to one cup of batter into the pan. It depends on the size of your pan is.

Tip: Be sure to apply a THIN LAYER only! This ensures the galette skin to be fully cooked! (Don’t be greedy!)

10) Turn the pan in a half circle to make it even. (The small size)

I was too busy to take my camera when I first made the regular size one. Here comes the second one in small size. The turning process allows the batter to become even and smooth in surface.

11) When the shape of the galette is formed for 70- 80%, place the turkey, tuna and tear up the sliced Havarti cheese into desirable size in the center of the galette skin. At the same time, please turn down the heat to low.

Tip: To determine if the shape is fixed or not, check the side of the galette skin. If should be a little crispy and curled up. The low heat prevents the skin to be overcooked while the folding process is taking place.

12) Use a frying shovel to move the side upwards and start the folding process. Use your hand and the frying shovel as assistances.

13) Here it comes.

14) If you do not have a frying shovel by your side, use a fork to stabilize the folds.

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15) Fold the left side, follow by the right.

16) Fold the last part by putting the galette skin on top then flip the savoury crepe over.

Tip: You may use the frying shovel to turnover the galette and stabilize its surface.

17) The mouthwatering French Galette/ Savoury Crepe is ready for your taste buds!

A cross section of the galette. (Served with tomato ketchup)

Here’s the close up shot.

I have to apologize for my galette folding skills. This is not the proper way. The galette should end up with four sides facing up and with an egg in the center, which looks like a square. Below is a picture of how it suppose to be like:

Source: Google Images

However, my folding method guarantees the savory fillings safe and sound inside the galette. I will try the traditional method sometime later😉

As a food lover, creativity is necessary! You may play on variations for the fillings in galette. Cheese is one of them. I chose Light Havarti Cheese.  Swiss and Cheddar are other popular types of cheese on the list. For the choice of meat, bacon, chicken and ham are three common options. Likewise, there are a wide range of choices in vegetables, such as portobello mushrooms, spinach, eggs. You are also more then welcome to use other ingredients as well! On the other hand, if one thinks that the flavor of wholewheat flour is too strong, please substitute half of the portion with all purpose flour. I guess this helps but the authentic taste of galette might change a little.

Where to buy all the ingredients?

Visit your local grocery stores such as Vons, Ralphs and Trader Joe’s are spots where you will be able to get all the ingredients. I bought the light Harvati cheese in Trader Joe’s. I would like to recommend the milk brand: Horizon Organic. Among all types of milk I have tried in the United States, this is the most delicious and provides a natural taste! Although the price is one to two dollars more than regular milk, the pureness worth it!

How long does it take?

I used less than twenty minutes from preparation to the finished product. I bet twenty minutes is not that bad when it comes to good quality food!

Galette is a simple French dish. The price ranges from $7-20 US dollars when you dine in cafes or restaurants. Without wanting to afford a high price, why not try to make it yourself and have some fun? This healthy and delighted savory crepe is an excellent wake up call for breakfast! If you are not a morning person, afternoon tea is another great option to take a great break and enjoy it with a cup of tea or coffee. Use your creativity and make a special version of your own savory crepe! Are you tempted to give it a try?:)

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The Season of Love

Do you want to please your boyfriend or girlfriend? Here comes the chance! It can cause a huge trouble when it comes to St. Valentine’s Day. Gifts are often on the list. This week’s blog post is going to provide some ideas for you. We are going to learn a simple way to bake some delicious chocolate brownies!

Ingredients:

Gold Medal’s All purpose self-raising flour 70 grams

Kirkland’s Walnuts (raw)  30 pieces

PoundPlus Dark Chocolate    250 grams

Butter  113 grams

2 Eggs

Sugar 100 grams

Baking Power 1/2 teaspoon

Procedure:

1) Pre-heat the oven to 350 Degrees Fahrenheit.

2) Boil water in a pan or pot to approximately 122-140 Degrees Fahrenheit (50-60 Degrees Celsius). Place 3×6 cubes of chocolate into a metal mixing bowl and let it stay still to melt. (Yes, this is a water bath for the chocolate.)

Tip: The moderate temperature allows chocolate to melt smoothly without getting any crumbs. High temperature is likely to cause the chocolate ends up in glue texture. I do not recommend to use microwave because it dries up the chocolate easily.

3) Use a spatulas or plastic spoon to stir lightly and let it stay aside.

4) Sieve flour and baking power for once or twice. This helps to smoothen the batter.

5) Place the butter in a bowl and microwave it to liquid form. Mine took for one minute and 15 seconds.

6) Pour the liquid butter and chocolate into a lage mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer to mix the ingredients. Follow up by adding sugar into the batter and mix the ingredients evenly.

7) Crack the 2 eggs into the batter and continue to turn the electric mixer to moderate speed. Mix for about 30 seconds to 1 minute until all materials are mixed evenly. As long as everything turns into brown color, then you may proceed to the next step.

8) Pour the sieve flour and baking powder into the chocolate batter and mix it with a silicone spatulas (mine is blue in color on the right). Add the diced walnuts into the batter and mix it gently.

Tip: If the batter is too dry (chocolate can’t cover all the flour), you may add a quarter cup of milk or cream to smoothen the texture.

9) Spread a thin layer of butter onto a baking pan or other bakeware before pouring the batter. This prevents the brownies to stick after baking. For the baking utensil, I folded a rectangular shape mold with parchment paper (baking paper), which eases the cutting procedure later on. Moreover, it simplifies the washing procedure after the brownies are cooked.

10) Pour the batter into the bakeware or mold. Smooth the surface by using a spatulas.

11)  Place the pan into the oven for 25-30 minutes. Recommend to set a timer, which acts as a reminder.

Meanwhile, let us learn a little history about St. Valentine’s Day. We have to trace back the origin of this celebration to ancient Rome period. Valentine’s Day was named after a preist named Valentine, who served during the third century in Rome. There were Catholic and Protestant versions for the story. Both of them agreed on Valentine performed marriage ceremonies for young couples secretly.  It indicated he disobey the Emperor, Claudius II’s order was put to death. Another version was he developed a deep friendship with a jailor, Asterius’s dauhter, who was blind and healed by Valentine’s saint power during his sentence in prison. Before he was executed, he wrote a farewell message to Asterius’s daughter and signed “From Your Valentine”. The phrase is still in use till now. It was believed that the execution took on February 14, 270 AD. Young Romans who offered handwritten greetings of affection, known as Valentines, on this day to the women they admired. Due to Christianity, Valentine became its Patron Saint and the day came to be known as St. Valentine’s Day.  Although this might not be the exact origin, the passion of love from St. Valentine is what people should remember from him. In nowadays, different celebrations are carried across worldwide. Restaurants and shops take the opportunities to promote couple sets meals or clothing lines in order to gain profit for business. Beep, beep beep…Oh..It’s the timer!

12) After the timer rings, take out the brownies and use a toothpick or metal utensil to check if it is ready or not. If the batter slightly sticks, that means it is ready.

13)Turn off the oven. Remove the baking pan and place the brownies onto a surface to cool down for 10-15 minutes.

14) Cut the brownies into your desire size. Your brownies are ready to serve~

If you want something more fancy, try the following steps😉

15) Take one 3×6 chocolate chunk and follow step 2 to get melted chocolate sauce.

16) Apply the chocolate sauce onto a piece of browny and sprinkle the diced walnuts on the top surface.

Here comes the Deluxe Version Brownies!!

Questions:

1)  How long does it take to make these delicious brownies?

Approximately 20 minutes to prepare the batter.

The baking was around 30 minutes.

Cool off, cutting and deluxe version was about 20 minutes

That means the total time used is less than 90 minutes!

2) Where to buy the ingredients?

I bought the eggs, butter and chocolate from Trader Joe’s!  The walnuts was from Costco and the flour should be from Walmart or Vons. If the above stores mentioned were not located nearby your neighbor, just head off to Ralphs, Whole Foods Market, Bristol Farms or other grocery stores. I am sure you will be able to find the whole list easily!

3) Storage?

Keep them in a cool place. You may store it in the fridge. Recommend to finish them in three to four days.

4) Health Issues

If you are allergic to nuts, please omit it and do not add into the batter.

Since I did not use any exact size pan, after cutting the brownies, there were about 4o pieces excluding the edges. I recommend to use rectangular or square baking pans as it is easier to serve.For chocolate, I used dark chocolate as I am not a huge fan of sweetness, feel free to use milk chocolate if you want to increase the sweetness. If you want more details for brownies, check out The History of Brownies. They mention its origin and explains some tips such as types of brownies and storage.

Valentine’s Day is approaching in a week. Any dating plans coming up? No matter you are in a relationship or not, this is a perfect time to treat yourself and friends with some simple handmade goods! It is time be a valentine to spread love with some fun!😉

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It’s Chinese New Year!

Happy Chinese New Year! The Year of Rabbit falls on February 3, 2011. It is the largest annual celebration for the Chinese. Chinese New Year is also equivalent to Lunar New Year or Spring Festival. The origin of Chinese New Year began with the story of Nian. It was the name of a furious and ugly beast that lived with people in ancient times. As people want to avoid contact with Nian, a wise man in the village taught them the method to arrange firework, burn bamboos, play drums and gongs to scare off the beast. They successful killed the beast as it was terrified and exhausted by the loud noise. These methods still remain till today and use during the Chinese New Year celebration.

There are different traditions, beliefs and customs beneath the the celebration itself. Rory Bowland’s article Chinese New Year; Traditions and Customs introduces the metropolitan, Hong Kong’s Chinese New Year holiday celebration. There are more links for readers to check out interesting topics such as: 12 Chinese Zodiac Signs and superstitions. One fact that all Chinese agree is the color red is a symbol of gaining good luck. Home decorations are full of red greeting signs. People will greet each other with positive meaning phrases such as “Gong Hei Fat Choy” to greet people who are working to earn more profit or “Shen Te Jian Kang” which greets people with good health. Moreover, the red pocket, (Lai See or Hong Bao), is money inserted into a red packet by married couples, which gives to children or unmarried adults. This is one of my favorite activities in Chinese New Year😉

There are all sorts of mouthwatering traditional food serve during Chinese New Year. turnip cakes, dumplings, as well as sweet pastries are available for the Chinese. Glutinous rice cake (Nian Gao), is this week’s tutorial for my audience. “Nian Gao” symbolizes one may grow taller and faster. This is one of the most popular Chinese traditional food during the celebration.

Preparation:

Sweet rice cake, 2 eggs, corn starch

1) Take out the glutinous rice cake from the package and slice it into pieces (around 1 to 1.5cm). Thin cut helps to reduce the cooking time and ensure its fully cooked.

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2) Take a piece of glutinous rice cake and apply a thin layer of corn starch on both sides.

*Tip: The layer of corn starch act as a coat to avoid the rice cake sticking to the frying pan.

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3) Put the two eggs into a bowl & whisk them to liquid form.

4) Take the corn starched glutinous rice cake and coat a layer of egg on its surface evenly.

5) Heat up the frying pan with a hint of oil.

6) Put the coated glutinous rice cake into the pan and fry for about 2 minutes.

7) Flip it over and fry the other side for another 2 to 3 minutes.

*Tip: Use low heat to cook the glutinous rice cake. This helps to prevent the egg surface to be overcooked, while the inner part has not been fully cooked. How to make sure its cooked or not? An easy way is to check it with your frying shovel. If the whole piece turns from hard to soft, that means it is fully cooked.

8)  Turn off the stove and the delicious glutinous rice cake is ready to serve!

*Tip: Recommend to serve immediately!

A close up of the inner surface of the sweet rice cake:)

The Nian Gao is bought from 99 Ranch Market. I randomly picked a Taiwanese brand.

Nutrition Facts as follow:

Calories     180      (Serving per 3 slices)

Calories from Fat  30

Sugar 18g

Total Carbohydrate 13.8

Nowadays, Chinese New Year is still considered as a crucial festival for family and friends to celebrate together. Walk around the flower markets and visit the temples to pray for good luck are two popular activities for people to choose from the festival to-do-list. I wish this tutorial can act as a guide for those who want to try some authentic Chinese food as well as learn more about the Chinese culture.

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How to Cook Perfect Rice?

As I have mentioned with the previous post, we are going to learn how to cook rice in the appropriate procedure. Rice is an essential commodity in Asian’s life. It does not only provide carbohydrates towards the human body and generate sufficient energy, but

For the rice experiment, I use the Japanese brand, Nishiki’s New Crop Premium Grade Rice. This type of rice is good for normal white rice or sushi.

All you need is: a rice cooker and rice.

Steps are as follow:

Preparation: Wash your hands throughly. Maintain personal hygiene is very important. Nobody wants to get sick, right?

1) Use a measuring cup to take our the rice from the packet.(Usually it is provided together with the rice cooker.) This helps to ensure the amount of rice for serving. However, the amount of rice being cooked depends on the size of the measuring cup and the rice cooker. I am using a Panasonic rice cooker. This is used by my mother when she studied abroad in the United States. (Wow! An antique?!! Of course not, but it still works perfect like new ones!) Since it is a small size, I poured in one and a quarter mug of rice.

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2) Pour the rice into the rice cooker mental container and rinse it with water. I usually rinse it for 2-3 times in order to keep the rice clean. Then pour out the water.

3)Here comes the crucial part: Insert an appropriate amount of water into the container. One might pop up with a question: How much water should I pour in?

Well, here are 2 personal tip offer as help.

-> First tip: Use the measurement inside the metal container to obtain the right amount of water, then pour in 2 times of water to cover the rice level. Eg. I have a quarter of rice lay flat inside the container. It is approximately 1/2 cup of the container, add in 2 times of the water (until the level reaches to 1 cup). It varies from one to another rice cooker, so remember to look carefully how much water is needed.

Second tip:  Use one hand to measure the water level to ensure the accuracy. Spread out your fingers and place your hand on top of the rice. If the water covers to your more than half of your hands, that means you may proceed to the next step and cook the rice. If the water level is either too high (covers your whole hand) or too low (covers only the your finger tips), please adjust the water level by either pouring away or adding water.

4) Place the metal container into the rice cooker and insert the plug.

5) The last step is to push the button and a light should automatically turned on.

While we are waiting for the rice to be fully cooked, why don’t we look at some crucial points within the cooking process? The cooking time differs from how much rice needed to be cooked. For my little rice cooker, it takes around 20-30 minutes for the rice to be fully cooked. It depends on how much rice are inside the container. The appropriate amount water varies with different kinds of rice. Brown rice takes up more water and longer time to be cooked. In order to have a better grasp on how to mange the water and time problem, I researched on the internet and found the website AROMA. One of the features in the website offers the most frequently asked questions and answers. Question 5 is about “How long does it take rice to cook” provides a chart with rough water measurement and cooking time. In fact, this is a useful tool for beginners or rice lovers to take notice of.

6) When you hear a sound from the rice cooker such as “tick”, that means your rice is fully cooked. Some rice cookers feature the warm signal, which keeps the rice warm before serving. As I love to have a more chewy taste, I usually let the rice stay still for around 10-15 minutes to let it becomes less moisturize.

7) Use a rice paddle to loosen up the rice. This helps to maintain the rice in a better shape and not to stick below the container or together.

8) Ta-da! Your rice is ready to be served! Use the rice paddle to take out the appropriate amount that you want. Metal spoon or other utensils are not preferred for it can cause damage to the metal container, such as leaving scratches to the surface. The fell off mental materials might cause health problems. For the sake of good health, please DO NOT take any risk😉

Here’s the final look ok the rice. You may serve it with Asian cuisines or your favorite dish. It comes with a lot of combinations.

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For health seekers, try to add some multi-grains before cooking the white rice. The above two images are some multi-grains taken from the Japanese grocery store Mitsuwa Marketplace mentioned in the last post. Another excellent method is substitute half white rice to red or brown rice to further create a healthier diet.

The last point is that I do not have a personal preference when it comes to rice cooker brands. However, to purchase a rice cooker is easy. Please visit any Chinese or Japanese grocery stores in your neighborhood. The two stores information are listed in the previous post. Please remember the steps to cook rice are not complicated at all. In fact, figure out the right water portion is the main factor to obtain a bowl of good rice. I wish all those who read this post would feel more comfortable when they cook rice.

Stephanie =)

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Rice~

Welcome to the new born food blog for CAT 125! In the following six weeks, this blog is going to act as a platform to share some information, tips and recipes all about food! My purpose of this blog is to allow college students and teenagers learn how to enjoy the process of cooking and taste food in a more simple and healthy perspective. Since this is my first time blogging, please feel free to leave comments as a way towards improving both the content and experiences! Enjoy =)

To be honest, the first blog entry is kind of hard to get started. As the brainstorm process went on for a few days,  I decided to give an introduction on rice. It sounds educational, but I believe it is an important point to bear in mind as it is one of the most essential food sources towards human beings. Rice comes from the family of grains.  As rice is a commodity, it is good to learn some of its background. According to the website of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, rice belongs to two Oryza types. They are Oryza Sativa and Oryza Glaberrima. “Sativa has rice originated in Chinese and Indian side of the mountains. While Glaberrima is an annual species originated in West Africa” (Characteristics- UNCTAD). Countries that grow and export rice are as follow: Australia, China, Japan, India, Thailand, Vietnam and The United States. Among the countries listed above, Thailand is one of the major rice providers among the world. According to the statistics report from 1995 to 2001, Thailand exports 26%, while The United States exports 11%. (Economic policies- UNCTAD)

In order to see how often Japanese and Thai rice products are located in people’s life, I made a trip to Mitsuwa Marketplace, a Japanese grocery store in San Diego, CA. Moreover, this demonstrates how people are able to get access to rice easily in everyday life. The following are photos taken in the grocery store.

1) Jasmine Rice. It is a product of Thailand, which is commonly found in grocery stores. It is a type of long grained rice, which is usually serve in Chinese and Thai cuisines.

2) Short grain white rice. This is a product of USA. “Short grain rice has a short, plump, almost round kernel. Cooked grains are soft and cling together, yet remain separate and are somewhat chewy, with a slight springiness to the bite” (USA Rice).

3) Brown Rice. Nishiki is a Japanese rice producer. Brown rice is a healthier choice when compared to white rice as it carries more fiber and nutrients.

4) Sweet Rice and Brown Sweet Rice. These two types of rice are chewy. They are good options for making desserts.

I have not tried all types of rice from the above photos. However, I came across a rice description website with the headline”Specialty or Varieties of Rice“. It provides information on different kinds of rice.Take Jasmine rice as an example, the list indicates the description, cooking hints, best uses followed by a recipe and directions. The short description allows readers to be more familiar with the certain type of rice. Jasmine is a type of white firm rice, which is quite sticky. It also mentions the product is from Thailand. The list includes all types of rice from the above photos, which act as a tool for carbohydrate lovers or rice fans to explore. On the other hand, one must not omit the health benefits of rice. Rice provides numerous health benefits to human. It has a rich source of carbohydrates, vitamins, it creates energy to function our brain and body. For health reasons, rice has low sodium and is able to prevent high blood pressure and decrease the possibility of suffering from heart disease. Asians are very keen on eating rice everyday. As rice is a commodity, it is easily located worldwide. If you need more benefits on rice, feel free to get more information from Health Benefits of Rice.

Trouble of how to buy rice? Visit local grocery stores is your best option. You may get it online as well, but I heard that the shipping fee is pretty expensive (due to the weight). I personally have not tried to purchase it online. The following are two options for getting it in store.

Mitsuwa Marketplace (Japanese grocery store)

San Diego Branch Address: 4240 Kearny Mesa Rd. #119, San Diego, CA 92111.

99 Ranch (Chinese grocery store)

San Diego Branch Address: 7330 Clairemont Mesa Blvd. San Diego,CA 92111.

For the next entry, I am going to demonstrate how to cook a bowl of delicious white rice!

Stephanie =)

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