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!!

Pastrami Egg Rolls

We are filming season 2 of Girl Meets Farm right now!! My house is filled with cameras and lighting things and we’re currently on our day off, so I’m catching up on laundry and showing Lily, Alana, and Michelle all around Grand Forks because they are in town to be guests on the show!! I’m introducing them to all of Grand Forks’ greatest hits: cheesy pickles, Darcy’s, and hotdish. Mmmmm. 

The shoot is almost halfway over and it has been so much fun. We’ve been filming so many hearty comforting wintery dishes that are the types of foods that I *live* for (spätzle! goulash! latkes! lefse!) and on the days that we shot the holiday episode, it snowed all of that snow!!! It was perfect. Every few days friends and family come over from near and far to participate in meal scenes, and that’s been the best thing ever, second only to the fact that during shoot weeks Eggboy allows us to have the TV that’s normally in our kitchen set up in our bedroom. Hehe. 

Mark your calendars, the season premieres on 11/11 @ 11!! (10am central :) 

Ok I’ve gotta go take my out of town fronds to meet the town chocolate shop now. But I’m leaving you with pastrami egg rolls because ever since I had pastrami egg rolls years ago at Red Farm in the West Village with my auntie and Eggboy (it was Eggboy’s first time meeting any of my family members!!!), I have been obsessed. Obviously. Because it’s salty smoky meat wrapped in an egg roll wrapper and fried to chewy delicious perfection. And dipped in a good strong mustard, because acid. These have caraway as a nod to the standard pastrami on rye, and they are kind of me as an appetizer?? Chinese, Jewish, and salty 😜. This recipe is loosely based on my friend Nile’s family egg roll recipe because Nile is the best egg roll maker in the North and she has leftover egg rolls cold for breakfast the next day, which is a very strong move. 


Pastrami Egg Rolls

makes 8

Ingredients

1 tb canola oil, plus more for frying

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 stalk celery, finely chopped

A pinch of kosher salt

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp caraway seeds

8 oz pastrami, finely sliced

10 oz coleslaw mix or shredded green cabbage

1 tb soy sauce

1 tb apple cider vinegar

Black pepper

1 tb flour

1 tb water

8 egg roll wrappers

Strong deli mustard or Chinese hot mustard, for serving

Clues

In a large skillet, heat the 1 tablespoon canola oil over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and pinch of salt and cook until soft, 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and caraway and cook for another minute. Add the pastrami and cook until heated. Turn off the heat and stir in the shredded cabbage. Season with soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, and black pepper. Taste and adjust as desired. In a small bowl, mix together the water and flour to form a paste (it will act as your glue). Fill egg roll wrappers like the above gif, sealing well with the paste.

Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pot to 360ºf-370ºf. You can either use a lot of oil to fully submerge and deep fry them or do what I do and only heat about 1/2” of oil and turn them while frying to ensure that all sides get crisp. Fry for a few minutes until the outsides are golden brown. Transfer to a paper towel or wire rack, let cool slightly, and serve with mustard.


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

chinese hotdish

a few months ago, i was flipping through a few of eggmum's old church cookbooks when i found my stripper name in the casserole chapter of the 1984 our savior's lutheran book: chinese hotdish. it was nestled between beef pie and oriental hotdish, and i took it as a sign for my true calling. not to be a stripper, but to finally become a true woman of the north by making a hotdish. 

ok, what is a hotdish.

if you're not from the northern midwest, you probably know it as a casserole. from what i understand, all hotdishes can be considered casseroles, but not all casseroles are hotdishes because a true hotdish has three main components--meat, vegetables, and creamed soup--which are dumped into a casserole dish, and then, in the words of sam sifton, you cover the bitch in tater tots and bake it. some hotdishes use wild rice or mashed potatoes or another type of grain or starch instead of tater tots, although covering the bitch in tater tots is really fun to say.

so, like, technically you can make a mac and cheese casserole, but without meat and a vegetable, it wouldn't totally be a hotdish. 

all of this is obviously up for debate and i am in no way an authority, i'm just going by church cookbook research, wikipedia, and the delicious hotdishes that eggmama makes. (and whether it's hot dish or hotdish is still something i do not know.)

hotdishes are as comforting as a new fleece blanket on a cold winter day and they make excellent leftovers. here are some examples of things that you can put into a casserole dish in order to make a hotdish:

hamburger meat + peas + cream of mushroom soup + tater tots

pulled chicken + wild rice + celery + cream of chicken soup

chopped spam + macaroni noodles + cream of mushroom soup + velveeta cheese + onions

i have never tried that spam one, but if you were to place the other ones on an x/y chart where x = how much it looks like barf, and y = how delicious it is, they would be maxed out on both accounts. that's the charm of a hotdish. 

for my first hotdish, i've made a variation on the chinese hotdish in the our savior's lutheran book. as much as i loved the sort of imaginary camaraderie of standing in the creamed soup section, piling cans upon cans into my basket, and then coming home and placing them on the shelf marked with a handwritten label for "cream of mush" that egggrandma must have made decades ago, i couldn't actually bring myself to use it without first trying some less processed options.

i know, coconut milk isn't technically a creamed soup, but it is creamy, and slightly sweet, and the results even got the eggboy seal of approvali used brown rice to up the healthy ante, and scallions to add flavor and greenery. a little ginger here and some ground pork or chicken there, and this guy might even be ready for the annual hotdish competition.


chinese hotdish

makes 3-4 servings

ingredients

1 pound ground chicken or pork

2 tb soy sauce

1 tsp chopped fresh ginger or 1/4 tsp ground ginger

black pepper

3/4 c brown rice (short or medium grain)

1 c chicken broth

1 13.5 oz. can coconut milk (regular or light)

4 stalks scallions, minced

crispy noodles or crispy fried shallots, for topping

 

clues

preheat oven to 375.

in a small* dutch oven or other stove-safe/oven-safe dish, brown your meat with the soy sauce, ginger, and a few turns of black pepper.

*the dutch oven that's pictured has a 2 quart capacity. also, if you don't have a stove-safe/oven-safe dish, you can certainly brown the meat separately and then add it to a casserole dish.

add the brown rice, chicken broth, coconut milk, and scallions, and give it a little swirl.

bake for about 1 1/2 hours, until the rice is tender. it will still be slightly liquidy. let it cool for about 10 minutes, top with noodles or shallots, and enjoy!


-yeh!

pictured: dutch oven // knife // measuring cups