I've recently got interested in bread baking. I saw the Bread Bible: 300 favorite recipes by Beth Hensperger, and decided to take a stab at the recipes. What I liked when I browsed the book was that the recipe seemed good, well thoughout, and no nonense recipes that didn't require every newest gadget at William Sonoma. Every recipe had hand mix instructions, and these are the recipes I could see people eating 20 years from now.

The recipe that caught my eye was the Italian whole wheat raisin walnut bread. Ever since my stay in Germany, I found that I have become drawn to the nuttiness of whole wheat and multi-grain breads. When made properly, they have a delightful chewiness and sweet, concentrated flavor that sets it apart from white breads. And when properly made, they are not heavy.

The process for this bread was straight forward. Luckily for me, someone at Food.com have uploaded the entire recipe and saved me the effort from retyping. The recipe calls for poofing the yeast, kneading and giving the dough two rises. Because I decided to start this recipe at 11pm at night, I decided to not wait until 5 am to finish the kneading in one setting. Instead, after the first raise I put the dough in the back porch, which I rated at about 20F at night, and will continue the second stage when I return from work the next day. The second day after I kneaded the dough I decided once again to sleep first and wait until third day to bake the bread. I crossed my fingers and hoped the bread turned out ok and not into a pungent fermented sourdough.

I finally got around to baking the third day. Mostly because it was the infamous blizzard and I didn't have anywhere else to go. Given that I had let the dough sit for two days without adjusting the yeast called for in the original recipe, I was expecting something that tasted like breaded sourkraut. Here is the picture of the bread, sliced:

I was pleasantly surprised when I saw how beautifully the bread looked when it came out. The bread had a beautiful, even crust. The interior was moist and dense. It was obvious that the bread was slightly overly fermented as the bread had a sour tang and the air pockets reminds me of the yogurt bread. However, it was still one of the bread I ever tasted. The balance between the sweet raisins and crunchy walnut set in whole wheat bread was just perfect. I circumvented the sour problem by topping the bread with honey. The only other issue that I noted, besides the slight over-fermentation, was that I had to add a lot of flour (+ 1/2-1 cup) during kneading to prevent the dough from sticking too much. This threw off the sugar and salt balance slightly, and the bread did feel like it needed a bit more salt and sugar. Next time I may add a little less water to start with, and tried to follow the time instructed!

Cold soba noodles is one of the greatest snacks (yes, I am going to call this a snack). Simply boil in, add some dipping sauce, and sprinkle with some toasted sesame seeds, and you're done! Ten minute lunch.

Most Asian supermarkets will sell the dipping sauce. However, they will all contain fish as the base. To make your own, Just hungry has an excellent post on how to make your own sauce. The vegetarian dashi can be made by soaking kombu and shiitake mushroom.

If you like me, however, you will find that the vegetarian versions, while good, don't always have the savory depth of the fish version. Not to mention I like things spicy. So...I decided to play around with the taste a little more. I combine the stock with some vegetarian oyster sauce made from shiitake mushrooms, and add red chili oil (with crushed red chilis) and sesame oil. I am afraid that my version is not very Japanese, but it sure is tasty to me.

What are some of your favorite ways to eat soba?

I made these for Jamie's birthday party. These Guinness chocolate cupcakes with creamcheese icing were delicious. I accidently put too much Guinness but that apparently just contributed to its yumminess. You can find the recipe here on the Food Network site.

Notes on the recipe: The icing directions given on the site has A LOT of sugar. I used about 20% less sugar than the printed directions, and still found the icing way too sweet.  Next time I will use even less sugar.

This is a soup made with chana dal I made for my Hyde Park dinner party. The cooking is pretty similar to the standard way to cook dal. First I boiled the chana dal with crushed ginger and tumeric, and add chopped tomatoes and salt when the legumes are almost done cooking. For the toppings, I brown the onions, and then add cumin seeds, dried red chili peppers, sliced garlic, and cumin powder. Right when dal get cooked through I add the toppings to the dal and mixed everything together and garnish with cilantro.

The soup was a hit.


Those of you who know me already realized that food is my passion. I have been obsessively taking pictures of food I cook and eat and I finally decided to document it in a way that is accessible for both me and others I want to share it with.

This is my first time taking a stab at this. Please feel free to give me feedback on how I can improve this site.