Maslenitsa | Crepe Week, Day 6 | Crème Brûlée Crepe Cone

Crème Brûlée Crepe Cone

Are crêpes better when they’re turned into cones? (c) I remember Tokyo pastry houses and bakeries surprised me. It seemed like Japanese pastry chefs took the best from European traditions and creations and perfected them even more. It was true for inexpensive street food and for desserts at luxurious, exclusive places. So, don’t be surprised to see many videos and blog stories full of excitement about Japanese crepe cones, which became a common street food in Japan. Crème Brûlée crepe cone is also a Japanese idea. I saw the pictures and I wanted it! Is it possible to make it at home without special equipment (large diameter crepe makers, spreaders, etc.)?

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Cinderella Pumpkin Soufflé Cheesecake

Cinderella Pumpkin Souffle Cheesecake

This recipe is based on me Japanese soufflé cheesecake, which is also known as “cotton” cheesecake. Very popular in Asian countries for its texture — fluffy and velvety creamy at the same time — it is getting more and more known in the U.S. Just like regular cheesecakes, this souffle cheesecake can be flavored with vegetable and fruit purees. This pumpkin cheesecake is as soft and creamy as a mousse, with delicate flavors of honey and pumpkin.

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Beggar’s Chicken

Beggar's Chicken

In Hangzhou, I visited Qinghefang Ancient Street food market a few times. I saw Beggar’s chicken during the first visit and decided it’s a must to try! The next day, four of us brave enough to eat street food came there for lunch. We enjoyed every bite! The funniest part of that experience was that the same day, after a few hours of walking around the West Lake when it was time to join the rest of the group for dinner, all four of us unanimously decided to come back and eat Beggar’s chicken instead!

I suppose only people who tasted Beggar’s chicken at least once and crave for it since then, would cook it at home. This recipe is for those who would like to recreate their experience without traveling to China.

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Steamed Buns: Liu Sha Bao | Golden Lava Buns

Golden Lava Steamed Buns

They were one of the most exciting dim sum items I ever tasted in Singapore — you make a bite and watch how hot golden lava slowly flows out. That lava is an unusual custard based on salted duck egg yolks and condensed milk. Steamed buns are served hot with hot green tea. They are addictive for those who crave for rich milk and egg flavors, creamy and fluffy textures, and a delicate, sweet and salty balance.

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Dumplings: Har Gow | Shrimp Bonnet

Dumplings: Har Gow

They are fascinating for many reasons. First of all, they attract everybody’s attention because of their semi-transparency, which is stunning with colorful filling. Secondly, they are gluten-free by nature. The wrappers are made of starches that do not contain any gluten. Finally, they are totally delicious with incredible texture.

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Huazontle Salad

Huazontle Salad

Think broccoli with thinner and more fibrous stalks and stems. That’s huazontle, just with more tiny green buds and fewer stems and leaves. Huazontle bud clusters are simmered in salty water for 5-15 minutes (different sources give different timing) first. Then they are cooked as tortas (patties), which are formed by pressing huazontle clusters around a portion of queso fresco, dipped in flour then into an egg foam, and deep-fried. This recipe is sort of the same, but deconstructed.

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Chicken Liver Pâté | Terrine de Foies de Volaille

Chicken Liver Pate

This recipe is classic French/European recipe for chicken liver pate, except for the first step with soaking livers in starchy ice bath. Most recipes include soaking livers in milk. “It is often said that milk improves the taste, purges blood, lightens the color, or affects some other property of the meat.” (“Modernist Cuisine” (Nathan Myhrvold, p. 147) Soaking lean proteins in cold water (or flavored liquids) mixed with starch is “velveting”, a technique used to prevent delicate foods from overcooking. I’ve heard about it first from my Japanese friend and then found more in Chinese Gastronomy by Hsiang Ju Lin and Tsuifeng Lin.

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Dumplings: Vareniky with Black and Red Currants

Red and Black Currants Dumplings

I don’t have an explanation why we’ve never made dumplings with red and black currants at home. My Mom used to add currents to the sauce, but never fill dumplings with them. It’s funny that I am tasting this well known version of Ukrainian varenyki only now, so far from home, in Texas, where currants are exotic! I asked myself why dumplings with tart cherries and currants are so popular in Eastern European countries. I think, the key is the intensity of sweet and sour flavors rounded with soft dough and a little bit of cream or butter. Many other fruit and berries change its flavor when cooked, but tart cherries and currants keep it well and tease our taste buds with every bite!

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Dumplings: The One With 13 Holes

Steamed Dumplings with Scallops

My version only looks like De Fa Chang restaurant lotus dumplings. The dough recipe belongs to Andrea Nguyen, and so far it’s the best I tried for steamed dumplings. It has a balanced chewy texture — not too soft and mushy, not too rubbery. Cooked dumplings keep their shape well. If brushed with some oil or melted butter right after steaming, the skins do not overdry and look appetizing. The stuffing is not traditional either. To practice shaping I used round slices of fresh peach dusted with dry mix of sugar and corn starch. I also changed Andrea’s recipe by replacing boiling water + oil with scalded milk + clarified butter. Peach dumplings were served with cream and peach syrup. Then I found another “lazy” stuffing for savory dumplings — large scallops, and another “lazy” sauce to serve them — Gulf Brown shrimp compound butter.

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