Angry Asian’s Pasta

For as long as I can remember, my favorite way to dress pasta is with a big ol’nub of butter.  That’s it.  Pasta and butter.  Maybe some grated cheese.  Maybe.  That’s how I make it when I’m by myself.

I believe this started way back in childhood when my grandmother would take leftover spaghetti and fry it up with butter in her cast iron skillet.  Not quite spaghetti.  Kinda, sort of, almost a pancake.  If I were a betting woman, I’d put my money down on this being the spark of my love of pasta and butter.

But sometimes the refrigerator needs to be cleaned out and you’re faced with asparagus and mushrooms that are on their last legs.  And sometimes when that happens, you just happen to have spaghetti on the menu.  So instead of having pasta and a salad, you incorporate the salad into your pasta.  At least, that’s how it went down at my house.

So now that I’ve stumbled into the wonderful world of pasta with mushrooms and asparagus, I may have to plan a return visit.

Pasta with Mushrooms and Asparagus

Adapted from Angry Asian Creations

BAH Note:  If you happen to have a fancy finishing olive oil in your pantry, you’ll want to pull it out for this.  And if that fancy finishing olive oil just happens to have been kissed with meyer lemon, even better.  To really fancypants it up, use any of Cipriani’s pastas.  They are absolutely sublime and cook in three minutes.

  • 1/2 pound pappardelle pasta
  • 1 bunch asparagus, chopped
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 8 ounces mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • grated parmesan cheese

Bring a pot of well salted water to a boil over high heat.

While the water comes to a boil, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.  Cook the mushrooms until they release their liquid and begin to brown. Add the asparagus and cook until it is done to your liking.  Add the lemon juice and zest, taste for seasoning, and add salt and pepper as necessary.  Remove the pan from the heat while you cook the pasta.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to the package directions until al dente.  Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking water.  Toss the pasta in with the vegetables and add cooking water if the pasta starts to stick together. Taste for seasoning again and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

Serve garnished with grated parmesan and a bit of finishing oil if you have some.

{printable recipe}

Chocolate Filled Sweet Braid

My percentages of Bread Wins have improved…but I am still far from being a competent bread maker.  More and more I get the feeling that this, in particular, is going to be a life long endeavor.  So if I embrace the philosophy that it’s a marathon and not a sprint, then I’m just happy to make it to the next mile marker.  Doesn’t really matter how many miles are behind me, I’m one step closer to the finish line.

I never would have had the courage to try Chocolate Filled Sweet Braid had it not been for two of my favorite local bloggers, Beth and Lan.  These ladies and I attended a free demonstration put on by King Arthur Flour a few months ago.  The truth is, I probably wouldn’t have gone by myself so it’s only by grace of the fact that they joined me that I went at all…I can be a little introverted that way.  If you happened to be at the Holiday Inn by MOM’S that night, we were the ones causing all kinds of trouble in the front row.  After seeing the uber talented KAF staffer breeze through the dough, I started to think maybe I could too.  I left the demo armed with a shot of confidence, a recipe, and a packet of Red Star Yeast.

Since this is me we’re talking about, you know that I had to have at least one bump in the road to Chocolate Filled Sweet Bread.  And it was a pretty big one.  Once I had done the math to scale the recipe in half and had myself all nicely mis en placed, my sponge didn’t start.  There was no bubbly action going on that I could see.  So I set that bowl aside and started again.  This time the sponge developed some lovely bubbly froth and I was in business.  Maybe the first sponge’s lack of cooperation was The Universe challenging me to see how committed I was to the task at hand.  Or maybe I just manged to mangle things.

Either way, the point is that I persevered…and I marked this particular mile with Chocolate Filled Sweet Braid.

Sweet Braid Dough

Adapted from King Arthur Flour


  • 1 ounce unbleached all purpose flour
  • 3 ounces warm water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast


  • all of the sponge
  • 3 ounces plain low fat yogurt or buttermilk
  • 2 ounces butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 3/4 ounces sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla or citrus zest
  • 9 to 12 ounces unbleached all purpose flour


  • 5 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 ounces sugar
  • 2 ounces sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the sponge, combine the warm water and 1 teaspoon sugar in a small bowl and stir to dissolve.  Stir in the yeast and 1/4 cup flour.  Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for about 15 minutes or until bubbly.

In a large bowl, combine the sponge, yogurt or buttermilk, butter, eggs, remaining sugar, salt, and vanilla.  Add the remaining flour 1 cup at a time, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Once the dough pulls away from the bowl, stop adding flour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead with lightly floured hands for 5 minutes until pliable and soft but not sticky.  Spray the bowl you mixed the dough in with nonstick cooking spray while you let the dough rest.  Continue to knead the dough until it is smooth and springy (if you gently make an indentation into the dough with your finger the dough will spring back).

Return the dough to the greased bowl, turn to coat it with the nonstick spray and cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a dish towel.  Let the dough sit in a warm place for approximately 1 1/2 hours or until doubled.

Gently deflate the dough and roll into a rectangle approximately 10 x 14 on a sheet of parchment paper.  Using a butter knife or plastic bench scraper, gently score the dough so that it is divided into thirds.  Be sure not to cut through the dough, you just want to mark it for reference.  Cut notches out of each of the four corners and then use your butter knife or bench scraper to cut 1″ wide strips in the two outer thirds of the dough.  The center of your dough will be “fringed” with the strips on each side.  Try to get your strips to line up as much as possible on each side.

Stir 1 tablespoon all purpose flour into half of the prepared filling and spread over the center third of the dough, leaving 1″ at the top and bottom uncovered.  Reserve the other half of the filling for another use.  Sprinkle 6 ounces chocolate chips over the filling.

Fold the top and bottom flaps down over the filling and then bring the strips of dough fringe across the filling on a diagonal, alternating from side to side.  Press and pinch each strip into the side of the dough as you go until the loaf is braided.

Brush the top of the braid with an egg wash of one egg beaten with one tablespoon water and sprinkle the top with coarse sugar.  Loosely cover the braid with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 to 45 minutes or until puffed.

While the braid rests and proofs, heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Uncover the braid and slide the sheet of parchment onto a half sheet pan. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until golden brown and the internal temperature registers 190 degrees on an instant read thermometer.  Transfer the braid still on the parchment to a rack to cool for 30 minutes before slicing.

{printable recipe}

Food Memories – Grandma’s Wontons

This summer the Universe brought Lan from Angry Asian Creations into my world.  I forget the exact circumstances but it didn’t take me long to get AAC loaded into my Google Reader and start chatting with Lan via email about getting together in real life.  Having spent time with her, I would like to thank the Universe for using her influence to ever so slyly push me back towards my Bread Bible Studies.  Had we been in school together, I have a feeling that Lan and I would have been thick as thieves.  She tells it like it is and knows how to have a good time.  Check out her Live It List…inspiring.  And for the record Lan, I can totally help you out with #18.

I have a special place in my heart for Grandma’s and stories about how they love on us so when Lan offered me this story for her Food Memory, I jumped on it.  This originally appeared on Angry Asian Creations on 14 September 2009 and I’m glad to have the opportunity to share it with you here.

Comfort In A Bowl – Grandma’s Wonton Soup

did i ever tell you the story of when, at the age of 8, i ate 24 of my grandmother’s wonton dumplings? no? well allow me. 24 may not seem like a lot, or maybe it does, but at the time, i was a scrawny little shit, shorter than most of my classmates and while i never went to bed hungry, i can’t imagine it was cheap keeping me fed. i wasn’t aware of all the details, but i do recall grandmother counting pennies for my lunch money everyday and that is why she holds such prime real estate in my heart.

what i recall of that day is that grandma put a bowl of hot soup in front of me, heaping with wonton dumplings, the wrappers slick but at the same time wrinkly, clinging to the meat filling. and every time i emptied my bowl with a declaration that i wanted more, she would smile and make me more. for awhile, rather than extolling my grades (because back then, i really was a good student) or pimping my dance moves (Michael Jackson had nothing on me), she would tell anybody and everybody that i ate 24 of her wonton dumplings in one sitting. a pat on my head would follow. rather than be embarrassed, i would be comforted. yet another thing grandma was proud of me for, eating an assload of her food, something so easy and so damn good.

so when last weekend i felt like ass warmed over, i wanted comfort food. something to warm my very being, something that could possibly put more spring in my step. i spent all day saturday not only working on my DB challenge and a homemade chili concoction, i made grandma’s wonton dumplings. it is unbelievable and magical to me that despite how much my head and stomach hurt, i was able to stand in my kitchen all day and prepare this comfort food. because let me tell you, wrapping dumplings takes a hot minute! i meant it when i said on twitter that cooking/baking is such a balm for anything, especially when the end result brought such comfort to my sick body.

Grandma’s Wonton Soup
adapted from memory

*again, i don’t have exact measurements, i dumped a lot of stuff in a bowl

  • Wonton wrappers
  • about 1 lb ground pork
  • wood ear fungus, rehydrated in hot water, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
  • some vermicelli noodles, hydrated in hot water, roughly chopped
  • fish sauce to taste
  • 4oz pate
  • homemade chicken stock (really, you can use any kind of stock you want)

mix ground pork, fungus, onions, garlic, vermicelli, and pate together. add a dollop in the middle of wonton wrapper and make sure that you seal the meat in. i went simple and just folded the wrappers diagonally and sealed with a water/cornstarch mix. store in container covered with damp paper towel until ready to cook.

to cook, add to simmering pot of water (or stock) until wrappers are translucent. it doesn’t take long for the meat to cook thru. to serve, put in bowls and pour hot stock over dumplings. consume as is, or dipped in hoisin/chili sauce.

{printable recipe}

Coconut Macaroons

The Universe has a way of bringing the most fascinating people into my life.  So what do you think happened when I gathered a bunch of them around the dinner table?  Only the best dinner party I’ve ever given, that’s what.  Who were these fascinating people, you might be asking yourself.  Let me tell you.

Sweet Mary – Seriously one of the most generous souls, Mary has taken her love of education, food, and travel and woven them together into the fabric of her life experiences.  A common theme throughout all of her adventures is the idea of community.  Whether it is on a small island in French Polynesia, in the classroom, or around her kitchen table, Mary has seen the power that comes from connecting with other people in meaningful ways.

Inspired Taste – Adam and Joanne use their love of food and cooking together to strengthen their relationship.  I admire the fact that they prepare food together and it is a positive experience.  That means that there is hope that one day The Mistah and I can truly collaborate in the kitchen, which I think is pretty inspiring.

Angry Asian Creations – Lan has seen parts of the world I can only imagine abstractly.  Like Ethiopia.  I mean, I know where it is on a map but I can’t even begin to comprehend what it must be like to live there. She is also an example of a good Bread Bible Student and proof that if I would just apply myself, I would be rewarded.

Grace Before Meals – Combining his love of food and his faith, Fr. Leo knows the power that comes from sharing a meal together.  And he is on a mission to get us around the table strengthening our families, building our communities.  Maybe more than anyone I know, Fr. Leo is so perfectly suited to his vocation that I can’t imagine him in any other role.

Gathered around the table, sharing a meal, we told our stories.  We talked about our hopes and aspirations.  There may have even been an admission of some Food Network crushes, the details of which will stay among the six of us.  So in those moments when I ask myself why I keep this food blog going, I only need to remember the feeling of community, understanding, and inspiration that we created.

I sent all my guests home with coconut macaroons.  They left with goodies, but their presence was a tremendous gift to me.

Coconut Macaroons

Adapted from Baking Bites

BAH Note:  You don’t have to use a stand mixer for this recipe. A hand held one would work just fine as would some good old fashioned elbow grease.  These morsels are moist and chewy perfection.

  • 14 ounces sweetened flake coconut
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

Heat the oven to 350 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Place the coconut in a food processor and pulse until the coconut is chopped into rice size pieces.

In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk together the egg whites, sugar, and salt.  When smooth, add the cornstarch and 1 teaspoon of almond extract and whisk until smooth.  Add the coconut and continue to whisk until it is evenly coated.

Using a small ice cream scoop (approximately 1 tablespoon) portion out the macaroons onto your parchment and bake for 15 – 20 minutes until they are golden on the bottom and just browned on top.  Cool on the sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes approximately 24.

{printable recipe}