matcha, red bean, and almond rainbow cookies

I was a total blob this weekend as I came down off of this month of filming! I made snickerdoodles and then ate snickerdoodles, watched the UND hockey team score a million goals against Wisconsin, baked an extra buttery loaf of Alexandra’s bread, and discovered the brilliance that is Cynthia’s ginger chicken and dumplings. If you need proof that magic exists, just boil some chicken with tons of scallions and ginger, that’s it. Omg, it’s the best thing in my chicken life since Melissa Clark’s salt and pepper chicken. And then add a double batch of chewy dumplings and eat it while binging Three Wives, One Husband, and when those episodes run out (there were only four?!), embark on the holiday spirit.

I really can’t say that I’m glad that filming is over, because having the crew in my house and cooking all of my favorite winter foods rocked, but I can say that sitting on the couch and not thinking about anything except for snickerdoods and dumplings for a good few hours was deeply clutch.

Now that that’s out of my system though I’m beginning to think about Chrismukkah cookies and all of the cute boxes of them that I’m going to assemble over the coming season for various reasons (parties and gifts) and non-reasons (they look cute and are fun to make). Rainbow cookies are always a hit because they’re not only fiercely almondy and tasty but they also have a nice shelf life because of how moist they are. And I especially love them because, well, they’re actually cake.

I’m starting to exhaust variations on them (cake, gelato sandwiches), but wanted to drop these into the Chrismukkah lineup because they’re extra special! The green layer is actually matcha (an a+ pairing with the almond base), and the red layer has red bean paste (nutty and slightly fruity, also great with almond). I worked these up when I was developing a Chinese Jewish menu for an event next week in Baltimore. While matcha is typically thought of as a Japanese tea, it actually originated in China! And red bean paste is something that I grew up eating at dim sum in the center of Jian Dui, or fried sesame balls. I was afraid of it until Stoop told me that it tasted like peanut butter, so then I liked it. Classic rainbow cookies have Italian roots, but Jews love em. They end up on lots of our holiday dessert tables and I’m totally obsessed with their colorful, soft almondiness. This version doesn’t look too far off from the traditional but the added matcha and red bean paste add unexpected dimension and beautiful natural color. They are a perfect addition to any holiday cookie box!


Rainbow Cookies

Makes 16 cookies

ingredients

3 large eggs, separated

2 tb (13g) sugar + 1/2 c (100g) sugar

1 c (226g) unsalted butter, softened

6 oz (173g) almond paste, chopped

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 1/2 tsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp almond extract

1 1/3 c (174g) all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp matcha powder

1/4 c (68g) fine red bean paste

Red food coloring

3 tb (64g) apricot or raspberry jam

4 oz (114g) dark chocolate

clues

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease three 8” by 4” loaf pans and line them with parchment paper that comes at least 2” up the sides of the pan (these little wings will help you lift the cookie out of the pan). If you don’t have 3 loaf pans, you can bake the layers in batches. 

In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites to soft peaks, and then with the mixer running on medium, gradually add the 2 tablespoons sugar. Increase the speed to medium high and beat to stiff peaks. Set them aside.

In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter, almond paste, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar on medium high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium and add the yolks, one at a time, beating well after each. Beat in the lemon juice and almond extract, and then reduce the speed to medium low and gradually add the flour. Mix to combine. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the whites. Transfer a third of the mixture to one of the loaf pans and use a small offset spatula to spread it out evenly. Transfer another third of the mixture to a separate bowl and fold in the matcha powder. Fold the red bean paste and a couple of drops of red food coloring into the remaining third. Transfer these into the remaining 2 loaf pans, spread them out evenly and then bake until the tops are just set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Begin checking for doneness at 12 minutes. Let cool in the pans for 5 minutes and then lift them out and place on a wire rack to cool completely. 

Stack them up with 1 1/2 tablespoons jam between the layers. Wrap the loaf firmly in plastic wrap, weight it down with a couple of heavy cookbooks, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. 

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or by microwaving it for 30 second increments, stirring after each, until it’s smooth. Remove it from heat and stir continuously until it is no longer hot. Spread it over the top and sides of the cookie cake loaf and stick it in the refrigerator to firm up for about 15 minutes. Cut width-wise into 1” slices and then cut each of those slices in half to make 16 cookies.

Store at room temperature in an airtight container. 


-yeh!

p.s. Watch the season premiere of Girl Meets Farm this Sunday at 11am/10 central!!! We’re making goulash, chocolate hazelnut donuts, hawaij apple pie, and brussels sprouts!!

carrot steamed buns

A long time ago, during my bangs and eyeliner phase, I had the steamed carrot buns at Dirt Candy, and I still think about them regularly because they were so good and clever! I don’t remember too many specifics other than loving that the texture of the carrots held their own against the squishy buns, and that the slight sweetness of both the buns and the carrots just went well together. And then a squirrel ran into the restaurant and everybody stayed very cool about it. These days, whenever I get the urge to throw bun parties, I like making sure to include a vegetarian option and always consider the carrot. There is a recipe for Dirt Candy’s buns online but every time I look at it I get a little stressed out because it has some ingredients that I just don’t keep on hand regularly, and whenever I make steamed buns I like to err on the side of keeping my fillings simple since making a dough and shaping buns, while extremely satisfying, is time consuming. (See: the shamelessness that is American Cheese Steamed Buns in Molly on the Range.

So when Soy Vay sent over some of their sauces I got really excited because, well, first of all, it’s basically *me* in sauce form. It was created by an Asian person and a Jewish person! And I remember seeing it in our fridge growing up. And also I saw that their Veri Veri Teriyaki sauce contained a lot of the same ingredients that I’d want to put into a carrot bun, like garlic, ginger, soy, and sesame, and immediately thought, yes, I am four steps closer now to carrot buns. So I got to work and came up with some of the most delicious pillow-y soft buns that explode with flavor! They are salty, sweet, and nutty and I love them. They’re not too difficult to make at all, and they are vegan! They’re great hot or at room temp (take them to a picnic!) or reheated from the freezer. 

I have nice buns and, look, now you can have nice buns too. 

Carrot Steamed Buns

Makes 16 buns

Steamed bun dough

1 c (236g) warm water

2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast

1 tsp + 6 tb (75g) sugar

2 c (260g) all purpose flour, plus more for dusting 

1 c (128g) cake flour*

3/4 tsp kosher salt

2 tb canola oil

*highly recommended for a fluffier texture but if you don’t have it, subbing in the same amount of ap flour is ok.

 

Filling

1 1/4 lbs. (about 5-7 large carrots), chopped into 1/2” pieces

1 tb canola or olive oil

1/2 tsp Kosher salt

6 tb Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki sauce, plus more for serving

1 tb rice vinegar

1/4 c (34g) crushed roasted salted peanuts, plus more for topping

6 scallions, minced, plus more for topping

Sriracha

Clues

First, make the dough: In a small bowl, swirl together the water, yeast, and 1 teaspoon sugar and let it sit until it becomes foamy on top, about 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix together the flours, salt, and remaining 6 tablespoons sugar. Pour in the yeast mixture and oil and mix to form a dough. Turn onto a surface and knead for 5 minutes, dusting with flour as needed, until dough is smooth and slightly sticky. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, turning to coat, cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let it rise for 2 hours, or until doubled in size. 

While the dough is rising, make the filling: Preheat the oven to 425ºf. Place the carrots in a baking dish and toss with oil and salt. (I like baking them in a high sided dish like a casserole so that I have room to add the other filling ingredients and then there’s no need to transfer to a bowl.) Bake for 30-35 minutes, until tender, and then let cool for 5 minutes. Add the teriyaki sauce, rice vinegar, peanuts, scallions, and a drizzle of sriracha and stir together. Set aside to continue to cool. It’s ok if it’s still a little warm when it’s time to fill the buns. This filling can be made a day in advance and kept covered in the fridge.

Once the dough has completed its rising time, turn it out onto a clean work surface and divide it into 16 balls. Keep the dough covered when you’re not working with it. Working with 1 ball at a time, roll them out to 4 1/2-5” circles, fill with about 2 heaping tablespoons of filling, and pinch the edges shut to seal well. Now is a good time to youtube steamed bun pleating videos! Place on individual squares of parchment paper, about 3” by 3”, and space them out in a steamer basket a 1 1/2-2” inches apart. (If your steamer doesn’t fit all of the buns at once, steam them in batches.) Cover and let rise 30 more minutes.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Place the steamer over it and steam the buns for 20 minutes, until light and fluffy. To serve, top with another little drizzle of sriracha, and some sprinkles of peanuts and scallions. Dip in teriyaki sauce and enjoy!

Leftovers can be cooled and kept in the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer for a few months. To reheat, wrap them in a damp paper towel and microwave until heated through.

thank you, soy vay, for sponsoring this post! shop here with discount code SOYVAY10 for 10% off!

photos by chantell and brett quernemoen

drunken zucchini noodles

greetings from fort worth! i have already lost count of my taco intake and i'm slowly adjusting to/falling in love with the extremely friendly stranger people here. they are so delightful, i even got an unsolicited rhubarb jam recipe from a lady at the market. (it has cherry jell-o in it!) 

a majority of my texas existence has been spent in a dark corner of the stage, wiggling my toe off in the name of vibraphone sustenance, and flipping through genius recipes during my breaks (you are a silly goose if you don't have that book yet). i can't see any of the singers unfortunately, but boy do they sound great.

there's one line in the opera that i could listen to over and over and over, it's towards the end when michael's character, who is starving and cold and searching for food, sings the most beautiful melody with the words:

...maybe there are worms in the backyard... 

the end of the world is near and, oh goodness, the way that michael sings this line gets at my deepest shivers. it's one of the most haunting moments in the piece and i love it with the same intensity that worms gross me out. am i doing a good job of convincing you to come? worms, blood, apocalypse? truly, this opera is a crazy delicious gem and day-long rehearsals do not feel so day-long. 

when i'm not in rehearsal, i'm working with a lot of lovely restrictions that aren't as bad as the apocalypse but still, errm, adjustments. a kitchenette with two hot burners, no oven, and a camera lens that has lost his ability to focus. so! eggboy said it will be like learning to write with my left hand, and so far it's been really quite exciting, in a cutthroat kitchen type of way. i had a morning of steamed stove-top cake research, i bought ingredients for a rhubarb curd crepe cake which i am going to attempt without a whisk, and, ok, i'm going to learn how to take a disposable camera photo. 

halp.

my kitchenette does not have a spiralizer, but my home does, and i miss it very much! it arrived in the mail right before i left, so i quick made all of the noodles that i could and pretended to be ali maffucci. you all have her book, right??? i am so into it, it makes me want to eat so many vegetables, i don't even know myself anymore. these drunken zucchini noodles were one of the first recipes i made out of it, because i miss the drunken noodles at sripraphai and also because "zucchini" was the first large word that i ever learned how to spell and for all of first grade spelling it out loud was my go-to party trick. 

it kind of goes without saying, but these noodles present an excellent solution to the conundrum of wanting to sit on the couch, watch veep, and mindlessly shovel thai takeout into your mouth, but not wanting to feel like poop afterwards. they're delicious!!! 


drunken zucchini noodles 

from ali maffucci's inspiralized

ingredients

1 tb hoisin sauce

1 tb low-sodium soy sauce

1/2 tb oyster sauce

1 tb thai chili oil

1 tb thai or vietnamese fish sauce

1 tb virgin coconut oil

8 oz ground pork

2 small shallots, minced

1 medium garlic clove, minced

1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips

2 thinly sliced scallions

2 medium zucchini, spiralized with blade a

3 tb chopped fresh thai basil leaves

clues

heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. add the hoisin, soy sauce, oyster sauce, chili oil, and fish sauce and heat for about 2 minutes. transfer to a bowl.

add the coconut oil to the skillet and heat until shimmering. add the pork and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, for 5 minutes or so, until cooked through and browned. add the shallots and garlic and cook for 2-3 more minutes.

return the sauce mixture to the skillet and add the bell pepper and scallions. cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently. add the zucchini noodles and cook 2-3 more minutes or until the zucchini noodles soften. fold in the basil leaves, taste and adjust sauces if desired.

enjoy!


-yeh!

pictured: bowls // pan // cutting board // spurtle

 

matcha cake with black sesame buttercream

greetings from the alps!! today we left salzburg and arrived in the tiny town of mittersill, austria, which is surrounded by the biggest and handsomest mountains i ever did see. we are so full on cake and knödel and rye bread and i have forgotten what vegetables taste like. we are having the most wonderful time! 

i believe there is a sauna at our hotel so we're off to do some research on that! but more on our honeymoon soon :) 

for now, cake!

may we all give a round of applause to the power couple that is matcha and black sesame? they go so swimmingly well together in sweet green tea and nutty sesame glory, and they even look good together, in that dark but whimsical way. to the designer that creates a matcha and black sesame inspired dress, can i be your friend?

let's take a look at some of matcha and black sesame's recent appearances:

buttermilk matcha rolls with black sesame filling aka the star of my next brunch party!

black sesame vertical cake roll with matcha mochi completely mind blowing.

matcha + black sesame mousse cake it almost looks too perfect to eat.

black sesame cake with matcha frosting as if these mini cakes just swapped their outfits.

matcha panna cotta with sesame brittle such daintiness!

matcha cake with black sesame frosting and brittle beautiful!!! 

sesame nougat with matcha chocolate and black sesame yes.

do you see what i mean? look out, blake lively and ryan reynolds. 

here we have mini cakes and medium cakes. the mini cakes were made in their typical mini cake way, with 2 1/2-inch circles stacked with a blob of frosting piped in the middle. and the medium cakes were made using a newer-to-me technique that's based on momofuku milk bar's cake decorating technique, with of course further inspiration from graham and his cake to end all cakes. with this technique, you are supposed to use a cake ring and some acetate to create sort of a tube that you fill with layers of cake and frosting before freezing and then removing from the ring. (specific steps are here.) but i spent about 20 minutes too many searching for the perfect cake ring online before deciding to just make my own by way of a 28-ounce tomato can. so i removed both ends of the can, (made tomato soup), and then used the can to cut out a few cake circles. instead of using acetate i lined the inside of the can with parchment, and then set it on a plate before pressing some cake down into it and piping in some frosting between the layers. i froze my can of cake for a few hours before removing the can and the parchment. it was so much fun! i highly recommend it.

of course, if you'd like a magnum sized cake, this recipe will also work to make one 2-layer 8-inch cake. 


matcha cake with black sesame buttercream

makes one 2-layer 8-inch cake, three to four 4-inch cakes, or about twelve 2 1/2-inch cakes

ingredients

cake:

1 3/4 c sugar

2 1/2 c all-purpose flour

2 tb aiya cooking grade matcha 

1 1/2 tsp each: baking soda, baking powder, kosher salt

2 large eggs

1 c buttermilk

1/2 c flavorless oil, like canola

1 1/2 tb vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract

3/4 c boiling water

frosting:

2 c unsalted butter, softened

4 2/3 c powdered sugar

6 tb toasted black sesame seeds, finely ground in a spice grinder

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract

a pinch of kosher salt

clues

cake:

preheat oven to 350.

for an 8-inch cake, grease two 8-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment. for medium or mini cakes, grease a half sheet pan (18" x 13") and line the bottom with parchment.

in a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients. in a medium bowl, whisk together all the wet ingredients except for the boiling water. whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and then stir in the boiling water. it will be a very thin batter. pour into cake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. begin checking for doneness at 20 minutes for a sheet pan and 28 minutes for round cakes.

if you're making a round cake, let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes, and then turn the cakes onto a lightly greased cooling rack. make your frosting (below) and decorate as desired.

if you're making medium or mini cakes, it is easiest to let the large sheet cake cool fully in the pan. once it's cool, wrap it in plastic wrap and then freeze it for a few hours or overnight, until firm. cut out your circles and then decorate as desired.

frosting:

use an electric mixer to beat all ingredients together until smooth. 

enjoy!

-yeh!

this post is sponsored by aiya matcha! all opinions are my own.