a food blog journey
 
I had a bit of a break from this food blog, just to allow myself some more time to settle here in the Pacific Northwest. I've been doing a lot more gardening, and a lot more teaching myself data analysis. I still love cooking and baking, but just haven't been documenting everything. 
Fortunately, I documented these awesome cookie bars. They're unlike anything I've made before. These bars have a gooey brown sugar meringue topping that makes them extremely moreish, and just the right amount of sweetness. This is definitely one of those baked goods that seem to disappear extremely quickly.

 
 
Just a very quick experiment today. I've been looking for a nice, chewy, fluffy mochi waffle, but things are a little confusing out there. 
There's the moffle, started by a waffle-maker company in Japan and popularized by Serious Eats, which is just a piece of mochi toasted in a waffle iron. Interesting, but seems a little heavy.
Then there's the maffle, which is sold as a mix by a Hawaiian company, and seems to lead to pretty amazing results. Unfortunately the leading ingredient in the mix is "modified starch", so creating a from-scratch recipe took some thinking.
There's a really great mochi donut recipe from Lady and Pups, so I used that as a starting base and played around with it. To make up for the lack of frying, I added some all-purpose wheat flour in there. I also added a little matcha powder just for fun. The flavor is really subtle, so I'd suggest adding more matcha if you want to really taste the green tea. I personally like the very faint aroma.
My husband and I both agreed though that this isn't really the typical American breakfast waffle--it's definitely more like what you'd have as a snack in a boba shop, in Taiwan, maybe with some red beans, sweetened condensed milk, and ice cream...
You can definitely tell what I'm fantasizing about right now. For now, this will do.

 
 
What's cuter than making little mushrooms out of mushrooms? 
But seriously, I love mushrooms. My husband thinks I was a weird kid because mushrooms were my absolute favorite childhood food. Just...boiled button mushrooms. Give 2-year-old me a small bowl of mushrooms, sit me in an empty bathtub, and hand me an overripe plum for dessert. Wash me down five minutes later. In some ways I made things simple for my parents.
So how could I possibly improve upon the amazing mushroom? I saw yet another recipe contest, Mad About Mushrooms, held by a group that seems similarly enamored with fungi. So I kept things simple. This is one of those things that ended up being more than the sum of its parts. 
I was inspired by a recipe for mushroom temari (spherical) "sushi" by Sugimoto:
But I liked the idea of using some fresh (rather than dehydrated) shiitake, stuffing the little rice balls, and adding a couple ingredients to compliment the delicious mushroom caps.

 
 
I’ll bet most people don’t realize that black beans are a big part of Asian cuisine, especially the home-cooked Chinese fare I grew up with. Black bean pork ribs are a dim sum star, and a very common condiment is a fermented black bean sauce. Technically it’s douchi, a black soybean, but it really tastes similar to the black turtle bean more commonly found in American grocery stores. I’m probably not the first Asian American to make that substitution. 

I saw the opportunity to demonstrate this in Bush's Best Beans Chili Cook Off recipe contest. This East Asian Short Rib Chili combines some Korean and Chinese flavors that I love with an otherwise (more or less) traditional ketchup-molasses beef short rib chili. The key element binding it all together is the black beans, which gives a wonderful thickness and smokiness to everything. I also highly recommend the Sriracha here, even if you're a capsaicin-wimp like me. The spiciness doesn’t come through very upfront after going through the slow cooking process, but it lends to the chili a gradual heat almost similar to a mole sauce when combined with black beans.

 

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    A recent transplant to the Pacific Northwest. I love coming up with new ideas and flavor combinations. I'm also a bit of a cookie connoisseur, but I'll try not to focus too much on baked goods here. 

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