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Breads and Desserts, Cuppylicious!, Ethnic Foods, Meat, Pork, Sauces and Dips, Side Dishes, The Daring Cooks' Challenge

Char Sui Bao (Barbecue Pork Bun)

Char Sui Bao

Char Sui Bao

Our Daring Cooks’ December 2011 hostess is Sara from Belly Rumbles! Sara chose awesome Char Sui Bao as our challenge, where we made the buns, Char Sui, and filling from scratch – delicious!

Requires Char Sui.

Total time: 3 hours + 24 hours for Char Sui.

Makes 20.

Filling Ingredients
350 gm (12 oz) char sui (finely diced)
2 shallots (finely diced)
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
¼ cup (60 ml) chicken stock
1 teaspoon (3 gm) cornflour
½ tablespoon vegetable oil

Bun Ingredients
1 cup milk, scalded
¼ cup (60 gm/2 oz) sugar
1 tablespoon oil
¼ teaspoon (2 gm) salt
2½ teaspoons (8 gm/1 satchel) of dried yeast
3 cups (420 gm/15 oz) plain flour

Filling Directions:
1. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or pan. Sauté the shallots for one or two minutes until soft.
2. Add diced char sui to the wok/pan and stir.
3. Add oyster sauce, dark soy sauce and sesame oil to the pork mixture, stir fry for one minute.
4. Mix cornflour and stock together and then add to the pork mixture.
5. Stir well and keep cooking until the mixture thickens, 1 or 2 minutes.
6. Remove mixture from wok/pan and place in a bowl to cool. Set aside until ready to use.

Char Sui Bao

Char Sui Bao

Bun Directions:
1. Scald milk and then stir in sugar, oil and salt, leave to cool until it is lukewarm. Once it is the right temperature add yeast, leave until yeast is activated and it becomes frothy, about 10 – 15 minutes.
2. Sift flour in to a large bowl.
3. Add milk/yeast mixture to the flour. Bring the flour mixture together with your hands.
4. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for approximately 10 minutes. The dough should be smooth and slightly elastic.
5. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Leave to rise until it is double in size. This will take from 1 – 2 hours depending on weather conditions.
6. Punch down dough and divide in to 20 equal portions.
7. Roll each dough portion in to a 7 – 8cm (2¾ – 3 ¼ inches) round.
8. Place 1 tablespoon of filling in the centre of the round, gather the edges together at the top and place on a 8cm (3 inch) square of baking paper. Repeat until all dough has been used.
9. Cover and let rise for 20 minutes.
10. Place buns in bamboo steamer, leaving space between the buns.
11. Heat water in a wok until it is simmering and place steamers one on top of each other in the wok.
12. Place lid on top bamboo steamer and steam for approximately 12 minutes.

I tried a variety of doughs for the steamed buns, and the listed recipe gave the best first night results. If overcooked, it didn’t hold up very well, though. So don’t overcook! These froze and steamed (plus five minutes) very well.

Beef, Cuppylicious!, Ethnic Foods, Meat, Seafood, Side Dishes, The Daring Cooks' Challenge

Papas Rellenas (de pescado)

Papas Rellenas de Pescado

Papas Rellenas de Pescado (potatoes stuffed with fish)

Kathlyn of Bake Like a Ninja was our Daring Cooks’ March 2011 hostess. Kathlyn challenged us to make two classic Peruvian dishes: Ceviche de Pescado from “Peruvian Cooking – Basic Recipes” by Annik Franco Barreau. And Papas Rellenas (de carne) adapted from a home recipe by Kathlyn’s Spanish teacher, Mayra.

Total time: About 3 hours.

For the dough:
2¼ lb (1 kg) russet potatoes
1 large egg

For the filling:
2 tablespoon (30 ml) of a light flavored oil
½ lb (250 grams) ground (minced) beef (I used flaked cod)
6 black olives, pitted and chopped (use more if you love olives)
3 hard boiled large eggs, chopped
1 small onion, finely diced (about 1 cup (240 ml))
½ cup (120 ml) (90 gm) (3 oz) raisins, soaked in 1 cup (240 ml) boiling water for 10 minutes, then minced
1 finely diced aji pepper (ok to sub jalapeño or other pepper – if you are shy about heat, use less)
2 cloves garlic, minced or passed through a press (if you love garlic, add more)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (4 gm) (1/8 oz) ground cumin (use more if you like cumin)
½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) (2 gm) (1/16 oz) sweet paprika
¼ c. white wine, water or beef stock for deglazing
Salt and pepper to taste

For the final preparation:
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup (240 ml) (140 gm) (5 oz) all-purpose flour
Dash cayenne pepper
Dash salt
1 cup dry (240 ml) (110 gm) (4 oz) or fresh (240 ml) (60 gm) (2 oz) bread crumbs (you can use regular, panko, make your own or use store-bought)
Oil for frying (enough for 2” (50 mm) in a heavy pan like a medium sized dutch oven)

In order to save time, you can boil the potatoes, and while they are cooling, you can make the filling. While that is cooling, you can make the potato “dough.” In this way, little time is spent waiting for anything to cool.
For the dough:
1. Boil the potatoes until they pierce easily with a fork. Remove them from the water and cool.
2. Once the potatoes have cooled, peel them and mash them with a potato masher or force them through a potato ricer (preferred).
3. Add egg, salt and pepper and knead “dough” thoroughly to ensure that ingredients are well combined and uniformly distributed.

While the potatoes cool down before finishing the dough, you can make the filling:
1. Gently brown onion and garlic in oil (about 5 minutes).
2. Add the chili pepper and sauté for a couple more minutes.
3. Add ground beef and brown.
4. Add raisins, cumin and paprika and cook briefly (a few seconds).
5. Deglaze the pan with white wine.
6. Add olives and cook for a few moments longer.
7. Add hard boiled eggs and fold in off heat.
8. Allow filling to cool before forming “papas.”

Papas Rellenas de Pescado (before closing and frying)

Papas Rellenas de Pescado (before closing and frying)

Forming and frying the papas:
1. Use three small bowls to prepare the papas. In one, combine flour, cayenne and salt. In the second, a beaten egg with a tiny bit of water. Put bread crumbs in the third
2. Flour your hands and scoop up 1/6 of the total dough to make a round pancake with your hands. Make a slight indentation in the middle for the filling.
3. Spoon a generous amount of filling into the center and then roll the potato closed, forming a smooth, potato-shaped casing around the filling. Repeat with all dough (you should have about 6 papas).
4. Heat 1 ½ – 2 inches (4 – 5 cm) of oil in a pan to about 350 – 375° F (175 – 190°C).
5. Dip each papa in the three bowls to coat: first roll in flour, then dip in egg, then roll in bread crumbs.
6. Fry the papas (in batches if necessary) about 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Flip once in the middle of frying to brown both sides.
7. Drain on paper towel and store in a 200ºF (95ºC) (gas mark ¼) oven if frying in batches.
8. Serve with salsa criolla (or other sauce of preference) immediately.

I was too chicken to try the ceviche (I’m not ready yet!), so I thought I’d combine the challenge and make potatoes stuffed with fish instead of ground beef. This was incredibly tasty, and they cook fast in the deep fryer. It definitely needs the salsa criolla or some other tangy sauce if you do fish. Sour cream and hot sauce just didn’t cut it.

I put a pair of jalapenos in there, too, but I didn’t even remotely feel them because of all the potato. The filling needs to be a little saltier and spicier than you want it before you surround it in potatoes to fry.

Breakfast, Cuppylicious!, Ethnic Foods, Side Dishes, The Daring Cooks' Challenge

Chinese Tea Eggs

Chinese Tea Eggs

Chinese Tea Eggs

Sarah from Simply Cooked was our November 2011 Daring Cooks’ hostess and she challenged us to create something truly unique in both taste and technique! We learned how to cook using tea with recipes from Tea Cookbook by Tonia George and The New Tea Book by Sara Perry.

Total time: 30 minutes, plus steep time (I did 4 hours)

6 eggs (any size)
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (6 gm) black tea leaves, or 4 tea bags
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (5 gm) Chinese five spice powder
1 tablespoon (5 ml) (3 gm) coarse grain salt
toasted sesame seeds, to garnish

1. In a large enough pot to avoid overcrowding, cover the eggs with cold water. Bring to a boil over medium heat and simmer for twelve minutes.
2. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and keep the cooking water.
3. With a spoon, tap the eggs all over until they are covered with small cracks. This can also be
done by tapping and rolling the eggs very gently on the counter.
4. Return the eggs to the pan and add the tea leaves or bags, Chinese five spice powder, and salt. Cover
the pan.

Tea and five-spice

Tea and five-spice

5. Heat gently and simmer, covered, for one hour.
6. Remove the pan from the heat and let the eggs cool down in the liquid for 30 minutes.
7. Remove the eggs from the liquid. Peel one egg to check how dark it is; the others can be returned to the liquid if you wish to have the web-like pattern darker. Allow the eggs to cool fully.
8. To serve, peel and slice the eggs in halves or quarters. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.

I mostly followed instructions, simmering for only another 15 minutes and steeping – cooling down – for 4 hours. I used whole spices instead of Chinese 5 spice blend (cinnamon bark, fennel seeds, star anise, cloves, pepper) and Chai Spice Black Tea because that’s what I had. I served my eggs deviled with heaping amounts of chipotle.

Cuppylicious!, Eastern Mediterranean, Ethnic Foods, Meat, Pasta & Rice, Poultry, Side Dishes

Cinnamon Raisin Rice

Cinnamon Raisin Rice

Cinnamon Raisin Rice with pine nuts and chicken

Originally titled Lebanese Chicken and Rice with Pine Nuts, Raisins and Feta, this recipe comes from Nutrition Consultant Jeannette Turner, but I couldn’t find exactly what was Lebanese about it. Maybe if you swapped cinnamon for 5 spice.

1 lb. skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1 cup rice
2 cups water
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp. honey
crumbled feta cheese (optional)

Optional step I enjoy: Soak raisins in 1/2 cup of cool water, set aside.

In a large skillet or frying pan on medium high heat, cook rice in 1 Tbsp of oil until well browned. Cook rice with 2 cups of water, salt, cinnamon, bay leaves, and honey according to the directions on the package (hey, I use a rice cooker, so you’re on your own).

While the rice is cooking, fry chopped onions in 1 Tbsp of oil in the same skillet or pan 5-10 minutes or until golden brown. Add chopped chicken pieces and cook thoroughly (about 10 minutes). Drain raisins and add them with the pine nuts to the skillet. Cook for 2-3 minutes.

Remove bay leaves from rice. Combine rice and chicken mix into a large baking dish. Top with feta and broil for 5-8 minutes (or until the feta melts and starts to brown on top). If you’re using feta cheese, this broiling is vital because it changes the smell and taste of the feta.

I served mine with butternut squash, but I hear it goes well with green vegetables, too. This recipe is easily converted to vegetarian/vegan, for either main course or side dish.

Cuppylicious!, Side Dishes

Cuppynut Squash

Mashed Butternut Squash

Mashed Butternut Squash

Total time: 1 hour.

1 butternut squash
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup brown sugar (or to taste)
1 tsp salt (or to taste)

Preheat oven to 375F.

Wash your squash well. Cut in half lengthwise (from stem to stern). Scoop out the seeds and the darkest orange stringy bits, discard or save for toasting.

Lay squash halves face down on a lightly greased baking sheet.

Bake stems pointed to the back of the oven for 45-60 minutes or until a fork pressed into the flesh near the stem slides in easily.

Let cool 15 minutes on baking sheet before attempting to scoop flesh. Place 1/4 cup butter and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl. CAUTION! HOT!! : Scoop the flesh from the squash onto the butter (to melt it). If you can help it, try not to touch the squash with your hands (ouch).

Sprinkle salt on top and beat entire mix with a potato smasher or fork until smooth. This is where I might add more butter, if it’s not smoothing out like mashed potatoes.

Where everyone else is eating leftover turkey and pie, I’m eating the squash. I like to sprinkle mine with black pepper and call it dessert.. or breakfast, or snack.. or…

Cuppylicious!, Side Dishes

Garlic Pumpkin Seeds

Salty Garlic Pumpkin Seeds

Salty Garlic Pumpkin Seeds

Total time: about an hour

1 cup pumpkin seeds, rinsed
2 cups water
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp salt

In a medium saucepan on high heat, combine all ingredients and bring to a boil. Continue to boil 20-30 minutes (seeds will start to turn color), or until most of the moisture has evaporated or been absorbed. Remove from heat.

Set a rack on the second ring from the top (top 1/3 of the oven is fine). Preheat oven to 400F.

Spread pumpkin seeds & whatever water’s left on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake 10-30 minutes, gently flipping or shifting the seeds every 5-10 minutes, until all the moisture seems gone. Keep an eye on them, though, because they will burn if not attended.

I found these to be superior to the chili pumpkin seeds I normally make.

Cuppylicious!, Side Dishes

Chili Pumpkin Seeds

Chili Pumpkin Seeds

Chili Pumpkin Seeds

Total time: about an hour

1 cup pumpkin seeds, rinsed
2 cups water
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt

In a medium saucepan on high heat, combine all ingredients and bring to a boil. Continue to boil 10-15 minutes (seeds will start to turn color). Remove from heat.

Set a rack on the second ring from the top (top 1/3 of the oven is fine). Preheat oven to 400F.

Drain and spread pumpkin seeds on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake 10-30 minutes, gently flipping or shifting the seeds every 5-10 minutes, until all the moisture seems gone. Keep an eye on them, though, because they will burn if not attended.

Note to self: Use the hot chili powder next time.

Breads and Desserts, Cuppylicious!, Side Dishes, The Daring Cooks' Challenge

Moo Shu Pancakes

Thin "Pancakes" for Moo Shu Pork

Thin "Pancakes" for Moo Shu Pork

The October Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Shelley of C Mom Cook and her sister Ruth of The Crafts of Mommyhood. They challenged us to bring a taste of the East into our home kitchens by making our own Moo Shu, including thin pancakes, stir fry and sauce.

Makes 24-30 pancakes
Preparation time: about 10 minutes plus 30 minutes’ standing time
Cooking time: 45-50 minutes

4 cups (960 ml) (560 gm) (19¾ oz) all purpose flour
About 1½ cup (300ml) (10 fl oz) boiling water
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vegetable oil
Dry flour for dusting


  1. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl. Gently pour in the water, stirring as you pour, then stir in the oil. Knead the mixture into a soft but firm dough. If your dough is dry, add more water, one tablespoon at a time, to reach the right consistency. Cover with a damp towel and let stand for about 30 minutes.
  2. Lightly dust the surface of a worktop with dry flour. Knead the dough for 6-8 minutes or until smooth, then divide into 3 equal portions. Roll out each portion into a long sausage and cut each sausage into 8-10 pieces. Keep the dough that you are not actively working with covered with a lightly damp dish cloth to keep it from drying out.
  3. Roll each piece into a ball, then, using the palm of your hand, press each piece into a flat pancake. Dust the worktop with more dry flour. Flatten each pancake into a 6 to 8 inch (15 cm to 20 cm) circle with a rolling pin, rolling gently on both sides.
  4. Place an un-greased frying pan over high heat. Once the pan is hot, lower the heat to low and place the pancakes, one at a time, in the pan. Remove when little light-brown spots appear on the underside. Cover with a damp cloth until ready to serve.
Cuppylicious!, Ethnic Foods, Pasta & Rice, Side Dishes, The Daring Cooks' Challenge


Spätzle with Chicken Paprikas

Spätzle with Chicken Paprikas

Total time:  35 minutes

Steph from Stephfood was our Daring Cooks’ July hostess. Steph challenged us to make homemade noodles without the help of a motorized pasta machine. She provided us with recipes for Spätzle and Fresh Egg Pasta as well as a few delicious sauces to pair our noodles with!

2 large eggs
½ cup (120 ml) milk or buttermilk
1½ cups (360 ml) (210 gm) (7½ oz) all-purpose (plain) flour (approximately – have more on hand, in case)
up to 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of herbs and spices (optional – I added 1 tsp nutmeg instead)
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (3 gm) fresh parsley, chopped (optional decoration, I skipped this)

1. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and any herbs and spices that you want to incorporate into the spätzle.
2. Incorporate the flour in small batches, by sifting in a small amount at a time and mixing until the flour is completely integrated. Keep adding flour until the dough becomes elastic, smooth and very hard to stir.
Boil a large pot of water. Dip a table spoon into the boiling water to wet it. To form the spätzle, fill the tablespoon about half way with dough, and release into the boiling water.
4. Boil for 15 to 20 minutes.
5. Drain the water from the spätzle. Because it’s full of fun craters where water can hide, you will need to drain it especially well. Toss with the chopped parsley.

Seen here paired with chicken paprikash.

I pushed my dough through these holes I found in what I think is a food processor salad bowl (I really have no idea, I just found this thing in my “miscellaneous drawer” in the kitchen). I got a little warm standing above the boiling water, but it was worth it. Because the pieces were so much smaller and more spätzle-y, I only had to cook them 8-10 minutes, but I had to do two batches.

This was so fast and easy, and it made a light and tasty noodle.

Breads and Desserts, Cuppylicious!, Ethnic Foods, Indian, Pasta & Rice, Side Dishes, The Daring Cooks' Challenge



Appam, or hopper, is a rice pancake

Mary, who writes the delicious blog, Mary Mary Culinary was our August Daring Cooks’ host. Mary chose to show us how delicious South Indian cuisine is! She challenged us to make Appam and another South Indian/Sri Lankan dish to go with the warm flat bread.

Total time: 12-16 hours.

1 ½ cups (360 ml/300 gm/10½ oz) raw rice
1 ½ teaspoons (7½ ml/5 gm) active dry yeast
2 teaspoons (10 ml/9 gm) sugar
½ cup (120 ml) of coconut water or water, room temperature
1 ½ tablespoons (22½ ml/18 gm) cooked rice
½ teaspoon (2½ ml/3 gm) salt
about ½ cup (120 ml) thick coconut milk (from the top of an unshaken can)



My edges weren't thin all the time, but it still worked out.

1. Soak the raw rice in 4 to 5 cups of water for 3 hours. I kept forgetting to do this, so I soaked overnight. Worked great. 😉
2. Dissolve the sugar in the coconut water or plain water and add the yeast. Set aside in a warm area for 10-15 minutes, until very frothy.
3. Drain the rice and grind it in a blender with the yeast mixture to make a smooth batter. You can add a bit of extra water if needed, but I did not. Add the cooked rice, and grind/blend to combine well.
4. Pour into a large bowl, cover and leave in a warm place for 8-12 hours. You not only want the mixture to rise and collapse, but to ferment. When it is ready, it will have a slightly sour and distinctly yeasty smell. Don’t worry–they are mild tasting when cooked!
5. Add the coconut milk and salt, and a bit of water if necessary, so that you have a batter that is just a bit thicker than milk. Notice how it bubbles after you add the coconut milk. I recommend test-cooking one before thinning the batter.
6. Heat your pan over medium heat. Wipe a few drops of oil over it using a paper towel. Stir the batter and pour in 3-4 tablespoons, depending on the size of the pan. Working quickly, hold the handle(s) and give the pan a quick swirl so that the batter comes to the top edge. Swirl once only, as you want the edges to be thin and lacy.
7. Cover the pan and cook for about 2 minutes. Uncover and check. The center should have puffed up a bit, and will be shiny, but dry to the touch. When ready, loosen the edges with a small spatula and serve immediately. These need to be served hot out of the pan.

The leftover batter can be refrigerated for a day or 2.

Wow. These are new and amazing to me, and I will be making them again and again. I enjoyed them so much, I was looking around for more.