Hot cross buns

For Hot Cross buns, use the cinnamon roll dough recipe. Add some amount (just eyeball it) of candied fruit and currants when you are ready to shape the dough and make about twelve rolls.  For Hot Cross buns, the egg wash is very important to give the right look.  Whisk together a whole egg with a bit of salt; this is brushed on just before baking.  You can use the other half of the egg or a previously saved egg white can be used.

Cinnamon roll recipe

Dough for a small batch:
  • 1/2 package of yeast (this would be 1 1/8 teaspoon but my mom uses 1 1/4 teaspoon)
  • 1 1/2 Tab water
  • 1/2 cup milk (can be whole or low-fat)
  • 2 1/2 Tab butter
  • 1 1/2 Tab sugar
  • 1/2 of a large egg
  • 1/2 teas salt
  • 2 cups (or a bit less) bread flour
  • 1/8 teas cinnamon
  • 1/16 teas nutmeg
  • 1/16 teas ginger
For cinnamon rolls:  
  • 1 Tbsp (or maybe less) softened butter to spread on the dough
  • Cinnamon and sugar mixed — heavy on the cinnamon
  • nuts — preferring pecans and preferring cookie-size pieces
  • currants
For icing:
  • 1 teas butter (this keeps the icing soft)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp milk or cream
Pan:

Well-buttered (glass is good) baking pan about 7×11 inches.

Use a standard bread maker mix cycle to make the dough, or without a bread maker:  Make the dough and let it rise until doubled, the punch down and shape.  Once the dough is ready, roll it into a rectangle about 14×12 inches.  Butter the dough with the softened butter.  Sprinkle on the cinnamon-sugar, then the nuts and the currants.  Roll up and then slice off the cinnamon rolls.  Nine or twelve rolls is about right but this can vary quite a bit, depending on your preference.  I like to refrigerator overnight so that the rolls are ready in the morning.  In the morning, warm the oven to a low (not yeast-killing) temperature, turn off the oven, and put in the roll pan.  I like to cover with a cloth.  When the dough is light and the pan warmed, remove the pan from the oven.  Then heat the oven to 425°F.  (If you like the look of an egg wash, see the Hot Cross bun instructions.)  Bake for 15 minutes. If the rolls start to get too dark, make a foil tent to protect them.  

After the rolls are done, swirl on icing and serve.

Christmas presents :D

I got: local beeswax, local honey from bees that ate yaupon (a plant native to Texas, and the only caffeine-containing one native to North America), a stainless steel soap dish, multi-colored peppercorns, and a gift card to Blue Apron (that meal kid company).

Of course, there was also the casting kit for last-making!

And for my birthday a couple months ago, I got….

US-grown purple popcorn! I sometimes have popcorn as a low-effort dinner.

US-made scrub brush. The fibers are tampico (made from agave), so I figure they’re from Mexico. The brush sheds a little; hopefully that dies down as I use it more.

Heirloom beans from Rancho Gordo! An essential part of my diet 🙂

What did y’all get for Christmas?

Superhot

Went to Superhot this weekend with Friend A (pictured) and Friend B (not pictured).

It’s a new hotpot+kbbq+dimsum restaurant that just opened in Downtown Mountain View. The restaurant concept was carefully crafted for maximum popularity. The first time I tried to go, there was a really long (2+ hour) wait. This time we arrived at 11:30am to avoid the wait.

$30 all you can eat in 90 minutes. Max 10 items ordered at a time. The waiter only comes once every 30 minutes unless you flail around excessively. Strategize accordingly.

100 items to choose from. Friend A really liked the unlimited dumplings.

Chinese fried donut.

Xiao long bao. Unlimited xiao long bao.

Friend A got tripe and pork blood. I’m not such a fan but he liked it.

Premium steak. Looks pretty premium.

Fall foraging

There are some good foraging opportunities near my apartment. The best is a pear tree – I believe it is ornamental since the pears are small. It wasn’t clear to me if the owners were interested in the pears, so I just collected ones that had fallen onto the sidewalk, and made pear-sauce! I strained the cooked pears through a mesh strainer, and used the remaining fibrous matter to make alcohol.

There are also a ton of sugar maples. If I had tapping equipment, I could make maple syrup.

And lastly, there are a ton of chestnut trees. Unfortunately, they are horse chestnuts, not true or sweet chestnuts, which were largely killed off in the early 1900s by chestnut blight. The only trees that survived were those far enough (about 10 km) away from other chestnut trees.

Horse chestnuts contain high levels of naturally-occurring saponins, which make them taste really bitter. Apparently, they are also poisonous. Before realizing this, I collected a bunch. I was super excited to find chestnuts since they’re pretty expensive to buy.

Horse chestnuts really look quite similar to true chestnuts. The main difference, besides taste, is the lack of a tassel on the tip of the shell. True chestnut husks also have more closely-set spines.

As far as I’m aware, horse chestnuts only have one use: making liquid soap! You can soak the nutmeats in water to dissolve the saponins, and use the soaking liquid as liquid soap or detergent.

Marufuku Ramen

I’ve been wanting to go to Marufuku Ramen in SF, for a while now, but since they don’t have any vegetarian options it’s hard to go there when I’m travelling with N.

Fortunately, Friend M came to visit the Bay Area, so we decided to go try it.

They always have a really long line. Fortunately, you can put your name on a waitlist on Yelp. I’d recommend doing this 1-2 hours in advance.

Friend M pictured with his Off-White branded camera strap.

Chicken karaage. Pretty good.

Hakata Deluxe Ramen. Tonkotsu broth with chashu and kakuni.

I saw people doing this (lifting noodles out of bowl) on Instagram, so I decided to try it too.

Overall, pretty good. Would recommend.

Sichuan Hotpot

I went bouldering yesterday with Friend A. After we finished, we happened across Friend B at the gym, and the three of us planned to have dinner together.

Unfortunately, Friend A has decided as of late that his diet must consist solely of Panang Curry Chicken from Siam Royal. After much protest from Friend B and I, we managed to grudgingly convince Friend A to have homemade hot pot instead.

I haven’t been using my Sichuan seasonings at a fast enough rate, so I decided to make Sichuan-style hot pot. Here’s the recipe.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a table-top burner, so we had to make due with eating around the stove in the kitchen.

My kitchen isn’t so clean. Maybe a B health rating.

Friend A and B, shown here eating hotpot while critiquing r/MachineLearning (apparently it’s trash or something).

Overall, it was pretty good. And much cheaper than the Sichuan hotpot at Haidilao.

After hotpot, we watched the heartwarming new show Goblin Slayer. Interestingly, it seems like it’s a show about slaying goblins.

Fancy food

J says he doesn’t cook much by himself, but when he does it sure is fancy!

Twice-cooked pork belly.