Yelly Eats

How To Make Almond Buns

I’ve been fairly busy this weekend batch cooking and baking. I’ve made a meat sauce that I’m going to use to make lasagna for tonight’s supper and spaghetti meals for the week. I’ve made my version of my mom’s meatloaf as well. I’m really happy as the fridge is full and I won’t have to think of what to cook for the next few days.

I’ve attempted to make almond buns yesterday after Alan sent me a recipe for almond buns. The recipe looked fairly easy to follow but called for shop bought almond paste. Since I had ground almonds at home, I thought it would be easy to make almond paste at home. I googled recipes and found a relatively straightforward recipe that I thought I’d share with you.

You can opt to use my Chinese Milk Bread recipe, however for buns and loaves, I recommend Hazel’s recipe. I don’t know Hazel (Avellana) personally but I stumbled across her blog whilst I was searching for recipes for cinnamon buns. I was looking for a Cinnabon-like cinnamon bun and this was easy to do and yielded amazing results. I’ve been using the dough recipe for most of my enriched dough endeavours. You can find her recipe by clicking Perfect Cinnamon Buns. I’ve based the ingredients on her list but I’ve used my own (tried and tested) way of creating an enriched dough, which has always worked for me.

I apologise for the lack of photography, I’ll do better next time. My kitchen is a right bomb site! I’ve been overrun by multi-buy purchases (it’s cheaper on Amazon if you buy more than one item!) and I’ve allowed myself to be overwhelmed by an unwillingness to sort out my cupboards (you’ll be pleased to know this is now a work in progress thing and I’ve at least started the process of sorting things out!).

Ingredients:

For the dough:

  • 250ml warm milk
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 x 7g sachet of dried, quick action yeast.
  • 2 eggs
  • 75g butter, melted
  • 600g strong white flour
  • 1 tsp salt

For the almond paste: 

  • 250g ground almonds
  • 150g granulated sugar
  • 75ml water
  • 75g unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp almond extract (optional)

Directions:

  1. In a heatproof (microwaveable) container, place the milk and sugar and mix until the sugar is combined with the milk.  Place in the microwave and heat up for about 30 seconds until slightly warm to the touch.  This can also be done on the stove, but make sure that the milk doesn’t catch at the bottom of the pan.  NB If you are doing the pan method, make sure you keep stirring.  Remember you want the milk to be just warm.  Once the milk and sugar mixture has been warmed, add the 2 sachets of yeast and mix well.  Set aside in a warm place to allow the yeast to activate.  It should take about 10 to 15 minutes.  I usually place mine in my airing cupboard or if in a pinch a lukewarm oven (of course, switched off). 
  2. Whilst waiting for the yeast to activate, you can make the almond paste.  In a small pan, combine the water and the granulated sugar.  While stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a slow simmer.  Make sure you don’t take your eye off the sugar-water mix as it can burn quickly if unattended.  Once all the sugar is melted and the mixture is clear (you should be able to see the bottom of the pan), take the pan off the heat and stir in the butter.  Mix until the butter has completely melted and stir in the almond extract if using.  Add the ground almonds and mix until well combined.  The more you mix the paste, the smoother it gets.  I like the coarseness of the ground almonds but if you want a smoother paste, you can use a stick blender until you get to the consistency you prefer.  Set aside and allow to cool.  
  3. Mix the flour and salt in a bowl and set aside (do not refrigerate as you don’t want the paste to harden).
  4. You’ll know the yeast has activated when the bubbles are almost as much as the liquid.  In a mixing bowl, mix the melted butter and the 2 eggs until well-combined.  Pour in the yeast and milk mixture and mix well.  Add the flour and mix until well combined.  I use a free standing mixer and I beat the dough until it comes away from the sides.  Of course, if you don’t have a mixer this can all be done by hand. Once the dough was mixed well, turn out the dough on a floured surface and knead the dough until it’s smooth and elastic.  If the dough feels wet and sticky, sprinkle a little flour over the surface and the dough and knead.  It should take about 10 minutes of kneading, if doing it by hand and about 4 to 5 minutes if doing this via the mixer. Once all combined pour about 1 tbsp of oil in the mixing bowl and place the dough in the oil, making sure the dough is well oiled. Cover the top of the bowl with cling film or a towel and place in a warm place to let the dough proof and rise.  Leave for about an hour.  
  5. Check on the dough after an hour.  It should be about twice the size of the original ball of dough.  If it is still slightly smaller, allow for another 30 minutes to an hour.  Once the dough is risen, whilst still in the bowl, punch the dough several times to release the air and deflate the dough.  Turn out into a floured surface and knead until smooth.  With a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a rough rectangle of about 24 inches (60cm) in length and about 12 inches (30cm) in width.
  6. Once you have your sheet, spread the cooled almond paste all over the dough, leaving about an inch at the bottom of the sheet.  Roll the dough down towards you as tightly as you can and with a sharp knife, cut your buns from the long stick.  This should make about 16 buns.  
  7. Place the buns in a wax paper-lined (greaseproof) tray or large flat baking dish, about 2 inches apart, and allow to prove for another hour.  After the second proof, the dough should rise and grow to twice the size.
  8. Preheat the oven to 180C.  While waiting for the oven to heat, mix 50ml of milk and 2 heaping tablespoons of confectioners (icing) sugar, brush this all over the buns.  You can also use an egg wash (beat 1 egg and brush over the buns).  Place in the oven and bake for 18 to 20 minutes (sometimes even up to 22), depending on the oven.  The buns should turn golden brown and rise some more.  Once they are lovely and golden, take theam out of the oven.  Allow to cool on the baking tin for 15 minutes before moving it to cooling racks.
  9. This is optional as it means adding more sugar, but if you’d like to add a glaze, mix 50ml milk, 4 heaping tablespoons of confectioners sugar and 1 teaspoon of almond extract and combine until smooth and lump free.  Drizzle over the buns.  Serve and enjoy!

Top tip: The recipe is quite substatial, so I decided to create buns and a plait loaf. But if you decide that you’d rather have buns, this makes 16 generously sized soft filled buns.

Yelly Eats

Joining the coffee craze

So I finally joined the dalgona coffee craze.

I kept seeing posts from friends in the Philippines talking about it. Apart from knowing it was called “dalgona” coffee, I had absolutely no idea what it was about.

So what does a person do these days when they don’t know what something is? Of course! You google it! So after googling it (and after Alan later tells me that he knew about it), I find out that the coffee fluffiness was a craze that began in South Korea.

I wasn’t that surprised about this because K-Pop is everywhere (one of my friends flew to London, from the Philippines, to watch the K-Pop phenomenon that is BTS when they had their 2-day London concert at Wembley). I once caught the Korean telenovela bug and absolutely loved Full House and Kim San Soon. One of my best friends was completely obsessed with Korean drama series and K-pop. It was great because I could get to dip my toes into the craze, without going all pruney. I think I loved the quirky cuteness of the storylines, but I don’t think I drank the Korean telenovela kool-aid enough to be completely drawn in. I did love that the obsession included all things Korean…because the food (of course!) was what I loved the most. I fell in love with kimchee, kimbap, bulgogi, chapchae and bibimbap (Note to self: when this lockdown finishes, find a Korean restaurant and indulge!).

But I digress! The craze apparently started when Jung Il-Woo (who is apparently a Korean megastar, yes folks, I have been hiding under a rock for years!) made the coffee on live TV. I can’t recall the actual circumstances. But after googling dalgona coffee, I decided it would be a Saturday morning treat. As it was coffee, I was definitely up for trying it.

It was actually so very easy to make. Basically, it was 2 tablespoons each of your choice of instant coffee, sugar and hot water. You used either a whisk (if you have the patience and the stamina – this would probably a great workout for bingo wings) or an electric whisk to whip the sugar-coffee-water mixture into a heavy froth. The coffee turns thick, fluffy and light coloured. The delicious (and very strong) coffee fluff is then spooned over iced milk (yep, iced, literally ice cubes into a glass, milk over the ice cubes). I flavoured my milk with hazelnut syrup. I loved it…mostly because I love strong-enough-to-stand-your-spoon-in coffee. Although I think I would probably make a smaller batch of the coffee cloud. If you go by the premise that the ratio of sugar to coffee to hot water is 1:1:1, then you’ll be okay.

My friends have tried various iterations of the froth: one has tried matcha, another has tried hot chocolate, another has tried Milo. I think I’m going to look for strawberry and chocolate Nesquick to see if I can’t whip it up as well.

I think this will be a good distraction from the pressures of the current lockdown.

Yelly Eats

Lucky me, I found Lucky Tea!

Another day, another milk tea place in London. We’re enjoying milk/bubblet tea at the moment and we’ve sort of started a milk/bubble tea crawl of sorts. Alan saw posts on Instagram about Lucky Tea and the people reviewing the new tea place were more than positive, so we thought we’d try it. We managed to find Lucky Tea after a longish walk along Shaftesbury Avenue. Who knew Shaftesbury Avenue was that extensive? But then again, it’s like walking through Drury Lane, which is actually longer than I thought as well (we were off to find a cheesecake place…but that’s another story!

It wasn’t busy but, there was, effectively, just one seating are for a comfortable 2 and about 5 barstool seats. There were already a few people waiting for their orders but I don’t think people are expected to linger like we did. The staff were so smiley and friendly. It’s a good sign when they’re happy to talk about their products and the various promotions they had.

We decided on the smoothies because we really wanted the bottles that the smoothies came in (we’re coming back for the other one…hopefully they have them back in stock then!). Our friend, and resident milk tea addict, Yuki, chose a dragonfruit smoothie, Alan​ chose the strawberry and I chose mango (of course!). All our smoothies were topped with a cream cheese foam. Now you’ll probably think that sounds bizarre but strangely (or not so strangely) it absolutely worked! It tasted like you were drinking a slice of cheesecake! Those who know me well know that I LOVE cheesecake in all its different iterations. So this was an absolute treat. My favourite creamy dessert and my favourite fruit in the whole wide world (hey, I am Filipino!), what more could I want? I absolutely loved my mango smoothie! And because it was two of my favourite things, I really, REALLY wanted to have another one!

I’m so looking forward going back and trying their other offerings. They have a Yakult range and that’s got me all excited!

One of the rationalisations for going to Lucky Tea was that they had lovely packaging. Whilst I know you can probably buy these cutesy bottles online, it’s part of the fun of having milk tea! Here’s said Lucky Tea bottle rinsed again at home (thank you to the lovely girls at Lucky Tea who graciously rinsed out empty bottles after we hogged the seating area for longer than they’re probably used to!). I’m going back for the other bottle!

**P.S. The metal straw isn’t part of the purchase. I got this from my fabulous eco-warrior friend Kira, the beauty and brains behind Rinse + Repeat PH, purveyors of handmade shampoo and conditioner bars (when I say purveyors, I mean Kira herself makes the bars! How’s that for a super eco-warrior?).

Yelly Eats

Eating Taiwan in London!

We’ve walked past this little place on Rupert Street in Chinatown that specialises in Taiwanese dishes so many times for ages, either on our way to another restaurant in Chinatown or on our way to Yolkin (the cutesy shop that sells macaroon ice cream sandwiches, also found on Rupert Street). We’ve always been curious about the food and how good the food was because there was always a queue of people. But we never really had the opportunity to try the food, because we were always going for a meal somewhere else. But thankfully, last Saturday provided an excellent opportunity to stand in the queue and chance it!

We waited in the queue for about 20 minutes and looked at the menu that was very helpfully next to us, by the shop window, next to where we were queuing. We ordered a few dishes to have individually and thoroughly enjoyed our choices! For our individual meals Alan had deep fried salt & pepper pork chop with rice (which was served with preserved greens and braised pork), I had a very generous bowl of Sichuan dan-dan noodles that had an extremely tasty peanut sauce and the right amount of heat and spice and Yuki had the Old Tree thin noodles soup with oysters which as deceptively small but was incredibly filling! We also ordered a side of Taiwanese style salt and pepper crispy squid which sooooooooo good! It had the right amount of plum favouring sprinkled on it too!

The space has maybe 20-30 seats but always seems packed to the rafters. So if you’re aiming to go and try the food, be prepared to wait a little. It’s a fairly good sign that a lot of their diners look Taiwanese, and that they all seem willing to wait in the cold for their chance to be seated. To me that means the food is good enough to queue and wait for, and it was a taste of home away from home.

I so wish I could’ve been to Taiwan, to try the restaurant food, and the street food and the fabulous snacks. However, I’m more than happy to trust the opinions of all the customers queuing up by OTDB. There is something infinitely comforting about the small space with the assortment of tables all crammed to maximise possible revenue. It reminded me of the little eateries (which we called carinderia in Filipino) which my friends and I used to go to to eat cheap but delicious food.

The food at OTDB is more than just cheap and cheerful though. It is yummy and ultimately comforting. I suppose to me it is such a comfort because the food traditions in Asia, especially around Southeast Asia are very similar to what their neighbours are eating. Also, everything is relatively…incestuous for a lack of a better word. Everyone has a version of a dish that is similar to something from another country.

Apart from the culturally similar flavours, I absolutely enjoyed the numbing heat of the Sichuan dan-dan noodles. I’ve had a couple of other versions of it, and I think this is, by far, my favourite version of the spicy stringed yumminess. I think the addition of the peanut flavour provides a different yumminess to the numbing heat of the noodles. My tolerance for spicy food has definitely waned a lot, because Alan and I stopped actually eating hot food. I’ve got a spicy new favourite now though…and I think I’m going to start eating a lot of spicy noodles again!

Yelly Eats

Food tripping in Colchester

Food tripping in Colchester today.

We went to try a relatively new Taiwanese food street place named Honey Bear (cutesy, I know! But you’ve gotta love a bit of kitsch, eh?). I had I had a taro milk tea with black pearls (black sago) and egg pudding. Alan had the fresh milk oolong tea, which was okay, but it was certainly very milky.

For lunch I had a I had a traditional Taiwanese breaded and deep fried fillet of chicken beaten until it’s thin and about twice its size. It comes as a “bento” – and I use the quotation marks because, strictly speaking, a bento meal is Japanese. My deep fried chicken was served with fragrant rice, curry sauce, spring rolls, pickled veg and a fried egg. Alan chose a dish from the chef’s recommendations board which was beef brisket served with steamed rice and a lot of carrots!

There was a lot of food and I must admit it was better value than I expected. I couldn’t finish the rice! I did love the pickled vegetables and wished there was more than what was served in the bento.

The taro milk bubble tea was okay, if a little too milky, but the egg custard pudding in my taro milk tea tasted the way I remembered it from bubble tea drinks in the Philippines. I could probably eat a whole glass of just the pudding completely on its own quite happily!

Whilst it’s good to know that there is a “specialist” bubble tea place accessible in Colchester, to be quite honest, I might be happier waiting for my next trip to Chinatown in London to get my bubble tea fix! 🤭🤔

Yelly Eats

Mango and sago pudding

This dessert is mostly Chinese, or more specifically, Taiwanese, I think. Alan and I first had this at Cafe TPT in Chinatown in London. At the time, I could still have grapefruit, so the variant we got was mango, grapefruit, tofu and sago. It was so yummy! Cafe TPT has quite an extensive dessert menu and I think one day, I’m going to have to just go and have all the cold desserts! It’s well worth the trip!

This dessert is so simple but so yummy. It’s basically mango pulp with sweet bean curd and sago. I love the bean curd because it’s silken texture reminds me of taho (I think it actually is taho!)- a silken fresh soy bean curd street food that most Filipinos will have at breakfast.

But because going to London involves a 90-minute train journey from Harwich to Liverpool Street station, and then a 20-minute tube ride (with at least 1 change), I told myself that it was necessary for me to learn how to make a version of this that I was happy to eat to tide me over in between London Chinatown visits. I’ve made this several times now and am happy with the result each time, so I’m finally happy to share this with you.

Ingredients:

  • 1 850g can of mango pulp (or you can blitz up the same amount of mango flesh — use ripe Pakistan or Alfonso mangoes, or if you’re lucky enough to live in Southeast Asia, ripe mangoes)
  • 100g mini sago cooked according to instructions
  • 2 247g cans of peach slices (don’t use canned mangoes, better to use fresh if you can)
  • 1 410g can of evaporated milk
  • 2 349g packs of silken tofu diced.

It’s so easy to put together. First drain the juice from the canned peaches. Then in a appropriately sized container, mix the mango pulp and the evaporated milk. i don’t usually feel the need to add any sugar because I find that the mango pulp is already sweet enough. However, if you are using freshly made mango pulp, it might be necessary to switch the evaporated milk with condensed milk, or if you don’t want it to be too rich, use sugar to sweeten. Add the drained peach slices and gently fold in the tofu cubes. As the sago will absorb as much liquid as it possibly can, I usually store them in cold water in a separate container. I spoon the appropriate amount of sago in the bottom of my dessert bowl and top it with the mango pulp-peach-tofu mixture.

Et voila! Now you can enjoy mango sago pudding as much as you want at home.

Let me know if you try the recipe and let me know what you think! I’d love to hear from you!

Yelly Eats

A slow (cooking) kind of weekend

I love being able to just put a rub together and putting it on a joint of meat and then just leaving it to cook in the oven low and v-e-r-y slow.

I wanted to do something TexMex inspired and I think I might have hit on something amazing. I saw a carnitas recipe that I tried to replicate. I think it just needs less salt and more of all the spices and a heck of a lot more sugar!

My next thing to do is to write down the recipe!

Is anyone up for another wet rub recipe?