Simple, Versatile: Chinese Steamed Eggs

I love it when my father-in-law visits.  He always teaches me a new dish that is easy to prepare and wickedly economical.  He is super savvy about stretching household staples and grocery budgets.  (Among his many talents, let me add.)  It’s amazing to me how well we can communicate considering I don’t speak Cantonese and he speaks very limited English.  Often we are left asking my mother-in-law or husband to translate because we can see that we’ve lost the thread of the dialogue, but we can still cook together.

I love that.

Over the years, he has taught me several easy dishes.  All without knowing that I was taking copious notes in my mind as I watched him work without effort to make dinner for 10 or more of us.  When he cooks, I find things that open my eyes further and stretch my cooking basics more.  Learning how to make boh-jay-fahn (Chinese homestyle chicken and rice) changed my easy winter night cooking.  I can have everything prepped the night before, if I need too.  Easy!

And this visit with my in-laws wasn’t disappointing either.  He prepped a taro and chicken stew that I was sure would lead down the “mushy-taro” path – but NO!  It was surprisingly delicious with fabulous taro-texture – much more like baked potato than squishy poi. 😀  I like taro – but have not had a lot of luck making it the way he did without making it mushy.  Now, I will work to recreate what he made.  I was a little distracted watching kids and washing dishes and well… trying to stay out of his way in our small kitchen while observing at the same time.  I think I missed a few steps.  But, I can tell you this:  For under $10.00, he made dinner for 10.  And it was fabulous.

Another night during this trip, my nine-year-old niece requested noodles.  Again, my father-in-law showed me how to make (gluten free, of course) a fabulous rice noodle dish that we gobbled up in no time.

And again, another request by my niece but this time for me, steamed eggs to go with her rice.

Say what? I asked her to clarify:  did you mean poached eggs?  No.  Steamed, she said.  Then she said “you know, cook it in water”.  I completely thought she meant poached.  But then I heard my father-in-law ask her in Chinese. And he turned to me and said, “No, steamed.  I show you.”

Really?  Where have I been!  I’ve been poaching, baked, scrambled, over-easy, fried (American and Spanish versions), frittata, Tortilla Patata…, but steamed?  Nope.  Haven’t done it.  Never really thought about it – and certainly not like this.

And since they’ve left, I’ve made it 5-6 more times.  Each time I’ve varied from the traditional seasonings a bit just to see what I could do with it.  (My Love still prefers the traditional seasonings…. so does the Chicklet.  But the baby?  Forget about it.  She’ll eat it all.  And then some!)

So here it goes – Steamed Eggs.

Steamed eggs are light and fluffy – beyond your wildest fluffy scrambled eggs.  They are almost “airy”, but not quite.  While you can definitely scoop and eat these eggs just like a pudding, we’ve been mixing them in to rice for ourselves and the kids.  (It’s how my niece likes her steamed eggs:  mixed into her rice; so I’ve followed along.)  I have to admit, it adds a nice flavoring and new softer texture to our rice (whether it be white or brown).  I’m rather addicted.

I even went so far as to mold some of rice/egg mixture like I have for lunch boxes before.  These are much softer.  Before I just added scrambled egg to my rice and molded.  But these are more moist.  I’m betting they will be even better for lunch the next day since they will hang on to the moisture longer.  YES!  A new gluten free lunch treat for the bento box.  (I’m relatively easy to please…. most days!)

To make your own steamed eggs, I suggest starting with the traditional seasoning (listed below) before experimenting.  So far, we like the eggs + water combination (savory) better than the eggs + milk (sweet).   Maybe that’s just my family, but they seem lighter in texture too without the added milk.

Gluten Free Chinese Steamed Eggs
Ingredients
2 eggs
6 ounces water (for savory) or 5 ounces of milk (for “sweet”)
splash of GF seasonings

  • salt/pepper, drizzle of sesame oil
  • OPTIONS:  Gluten free soy sauce (this will change the color of your eggs though), garlic powder, minced dried onion, etc.  Here are some combinations I’ve used:
  • sesame oil, garlic powder, GF soy sauce, minced onion (dried), salt/pepper
  • garlic powder, shaved parmesan, dried green onion (or some finely chopped fresh)
  • dried Herbs de Provence, olive oil
Directions:
SET UP:  Chose a bowl (twice the depth of your egg mixture) that can fit into a deep pot with a lid for steaming.  I used a small glass bowl that we have (to hand the heat).  In the pot, I filled the bottom with 2 inches of water and then put a small ramekin (custard ceramic cup) in the middle of the pot at the bottom filled 2/3 of the way with water.  The water in the ramekin helped keep it weighted down, but I didn’t fill it because you don’t want the water to touch the cooking bowl which you will set on top of the ramekin.  Test your set up before turning on the heat.  It should look like this:  (Yes, I am slightly horrified by my computer drawing…it’s definitely NOT my talent!)
PS.  Your pot needs a lid.  And there was no way I was going to attempt to draw that!  LOL  
(Be glad I didn’t color in the eggs too!)
  1. In a bowl twice the depth of your egg mixture (but still small enough to fit inside a pan), dump all of your ingredients:  eggs, oil, seasonings, water (or milk).  Whisk together.

Chinese Steamed Eggs - Step 1

        2. Carefully place your bowl into your fabulous set-up (as described above).

 Chinese Steamed Eggs - Step 2

       3.  Steam until the eggs firm up a bit and the top is no longer glossy – with visible runny egg.  This takes about 5-8 minutes depending on your ingredients.  (Longer if you use milk, cheese/milk or cheese/water).

 Chinese Steamed Eggs = done! (Step 3)

  • You can see the sesame oil on top of the eggs in the picture above.
    These eggs were done.
    The oil just comes to the top when steaming.
    Stir it back in before serving.

Happy Gluten Free, egg-steaming!
~Kate

Gluten Free Basic White Cake

Gluten Free Ratio Rally

Baking with a cause: YOU and getting you back in the kitchen too!

I’ve written this post a million times over since I decided to host this month’s Gluten Free Ratio Rally.  Way back in the beginning, I signed up for this with high hopes – and I was being completely selfish when I chose the task:  cakes.  And white/yellow cakes.  (Sorry, chocolate cake fans..although a few bloggers appealed to you, I was really on the hunt for fabulous GF white cakes.)

I say selfishly because I do have some fabulous cake recipes.  My favorites are my sponge cake recipe and the mini-vanilla filled cupcakes.  But really, I have been longing for layer cakes due to their versatility.  My favorite cakes have always been white layer cakes.  It’s true!  Even since I started making cakes in our house when I was in elementary school. (I did a fine job of both trashing the kitchen and baking a decent cake.)  My favorite white cake recipe is still being worked on to convert it to gluten free.  I needed some help.  And some inspiration.

And (I hoped)  I can’t be the only one with an aversion to chocolate cakes. (Right??)

And I say that reluctantly because I know that some very fabulous people in my life have made some incredible flourless chocolate cakes for me (birthdays at work, etc).  I’ve eaten each slice with a smile.  But I have a confession to make:  I’ve never liked chocolate cakes.  At the age of six, I completely overindulged:  chocolate cake + chocolate ice cream + first day in new state/neighborhood/house = bad news for the future of chocolate cake in my life.  I am refraining from using details here … after all, this *IS* supposed to be a food blog.

So you see, I am selfish in my quest for the *perfect* gluten free non-chocolate cake.  I’m not the only one who realizes the beauty of a white cake – the versatility, etc.  Oh yes. A white cake is where it is at, people!  And you will see from this month’s ratio posters just how fabulously versatile it is!

I fell on a sword this month taste-testing over 9 cake recipes ideas in four weeks.  Not too pointy of a sword, mind you.  If the cake tasted great, but failed?  I have crumbled them into a baggie and made some “cake pops” for my daughter(s) and I.  We share one “cake pop” after swim lessons.  But I think I’m going to have to invest in some swim time for myself after a month of cake eating.  Ay ay ay!

I’ve discovered a few things about cake baking – especially gluten free cake baking – that I’d taken for granted previously.

  1. Watch your baking time CAREFULLY and check often – especially within the last 5-6 minutes.  An over baked gluten free cake = the Sahara Desert in your mouth.
  2. Have your eggs and butter at room temperature.  But don’t do this if you live without air-conditioning and your house is 80F.  Not cool.
  3. Add your eggs one by one and beat them in for a couple of minutes before adding the next.  (No matter how hard your child pulls on your legs/hands.  Add the eggs one at a time!)
  4. Parchment lined/bottomed cake pans are just as fabulous as dusting them with gluten free flour – and easier for me.
  5. Gluten free cake batter is definitely thicker than gluten-filled cake batter.  Don’t stress when you see it.
And most importantly:  the RATIO makes a difference.  You really do have to measure the flours by weight if you are going to change up the flours you chose to use.  If you see a cake within the several that will be shared today as part of the rally, please do take the time to use the flours they chose to use.  For each of the cakes I made, I used 228g of flour.  Sometimes this was the equivalent of 1 cup of rice flour + 1/2 cup tapioca flour OR 1 cup of rice flour + 1/3 cup potato starch OR 1 cup millet flour + 1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons sweet rice flour.  Yikes.
I wanted to make a cake that anyone could make with readily available flours that are relatively inexpensive as far as gluten free flours go.  I wanted it to be something your best friend could make for you or your mom or your colleague if they wished to.  So many times our diet is intimidating and expensive.  I just wanted to simplify it all.  (And I’m not going to tell you about my initial starts of using whole grains, less sugar, etc because <girl smacks self in head now> I was making a cake.  I gave myself permission not to think about applesauce in lieu of butter, etc.  I just wanted a cake.  And a good one at that.
I ended up with several.  From one recipe too.

GF Basic White Cake
The basic cake.  With only the primary frosting on.  I had intended to frost this further, but the Chicklet got a hold of the sprinkles and she went to town.  So, it stayed just like this:  minimal frosting and a fabulous crumb.
GF Basic White Cake with Raspberry Jam center

For these little cupcakes, we filled them with a dollop of raspberry jam – (and some with Nutella – YUM!).  No frosting was needed.

GF Basic White Cake with Strawberry Jam and Strawberry ButtercreamSimilar to the one above, filled with sliced strawberries and topped with fresh strawberry buttercream frosting.  All things pink are met with approval from the Chicklet.

The ratio for a basic cake is as follows:

1:1:1:1

Egg : Sugar : Flour : Butter

I’m not convinced that I’ve achieved the cake I dream of.  But, in looking at the titles of the cakes of my fellow GF Ratio Rally participants, I see that I have a fabulous future of cake testing ahead of me.  (Tiramisu! Confetti Cake! Lemon Tea Cake! – just to name a few!)  Maybe one of you will find a way to make it even more fabulous.  That is the beauty of being a gluten free community:  learning, sharing and growing together.

Basic Gluten Free White Cake

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces – 1 cup (2 sticks) of butter, room temperature
  • 8 ounces – 1 cup (226 grams) sugar
  • 4 eggs + 1 yolk
  • 3/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 226 grams “My” gluten free flour mix, sifted (1 1/2 cups + 2 teaspoons)
  • OR 175 grams (1 scant cup) rice flour + 50 grams (1/3 cup) potato starch
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Line the bottom of two 8 inch cake rounds with parchment paper OR butter each and flour with rice flour (NOT the rice flour called for in the recipe – please use 1 Tablespoon or 2 in addition to that called for in the recipe).
  2. Beat butter in the mixer until light and creamy.
  3. Add sugar.  Beat again for several minutes (3-4) on medium until light and fluffy.
  4. Add one egg.  Beat for 2 minutes.  Add next egg and beat again 2 more minutes.  Repeat until all eggs have been incorporated thoroughly.
  5. Add extracts.  Mix in.
  6. Sift together flour(s), baking powder and salt.  Add to cake batter.  Mix in carefully so as not to lose the softness created from mixing in the eggs/sugar.
  7. Divide into cake rounds evenly.  Smooth the surface with a wet spatula.  (I found it helpful to have a glass of water nearby and I kept dipping the rubber spatula into the water to keep the batter from sticking.)
  8. Bake until the top is just golden brown and a toothpick (or cake tester) inserted comes out shiny but not sticky – about 18-20 minutes.  Check your cake as you approach the 15 minute mark at a minimum to avoid over-baking.
  9. Remove from pans by flipping on to cooling racks after removing from the oven.  Allow to cool completely before frosting.
If you want to, this recipe easily converts in to cupcakes.  Bake for 15 – 18 minutes for 12 cupcakes.  When making cupcakes, we loved adding dollops of goodness (homemade raspberry or strawberry jams, Nutella, etc) in to the center of each cupcake and then we topped them with more batter.  These additions also added moisture to the cakes as well and helped them last longer. (Well, as long as a cupcakes can last around kids.)

Please check out the other fabulous Gluten Free Ratio Rally participants and their cakes, I know I will be doing taste-tests frequently from their ideas.  In fact, my sister-in-law is coming this week for a visit… so we have another birthday cake to make.  (Great excuse, huh?)

Gluten Free Ratio Rally: Chocolate Chip Mocha Quick Bread

Gluten Free Ratio Rally

Baking with a cause: YOU!

It’s on again!  The Gluten Free Ratio Rally – baking gluten-free using ratios….  and it SO works!  The inaugural rally posts were focused on pancakes.

This time around we are tackling quick breads or muffins.  Both of which are basically the same recipe, just different baking times.  Personally, I’m a fan of the loaf method.  Saves time, ya know.  And, it’s easily transported to work and left in the main office for others to taste test, share and enjoy as well.  The muffins are great – when I have the time to make them, I do.  Lately, however, I’m noticing that I’m forgetting to set the timer or some other meaningful-yet-missed-due-to-sleep-deprivation task while the evening hours are upon us.

Working full-time means baking time comes in the evening and only if I’m lucky.  These last couple of weeks, I’ve fallen back on to some standards/fail-safes that are quick to whip up (lavash bread, brazilian cheese bread,, cookies (!),) and best of all:  QUICK BREADS!  Without time to have a loaf rising, it’s perfect to get a quick loaf of bread in.  Depending on your mood, you can make a million varieties.  Really.  I’ve been reading just the TITLES of the quick breads that the other GF Rally bloggers are creating and my head is spinning with ideas and my taste buds are completely craving a buffet-table of GF breads and muffins.  (OH MY – wouldn’t that be heaven??)

There were a dozen of us who blogged about pancakes – and baking GF with a ratio of ingredients.  Spin back a bit to Ruhlman’s book about “Ratio“, initial conversations about ratios with gluten free baking, and a rally was born.  That book is really much more of a reference point.  As for GF ratios, the only hurdles/variables are the starch – to – flour ratio to make up the flour called for within any given ratio.

The Gluten Free Flour : Starch Ratio

And let’s be honest:  we are SO lucky!  In reality, there are so many flours for us to choose from:  sorghum, millet, brown (or white) rice, teff, buckwheat, corn (flour not starch), almond, hazelnut, coconut, amaranth…. and THOSE are just the ones I like.  Surely I am missing some of the ones you enjoy?

As far as starches go, these are my favorites:  tapioca, potato starch (not flour), cornstarch, arrowroot, and sweet rice flour.

For most of my baking (anything non-yeast bread), I rely on a ratio of 65-70% flour to 30-35% starch.  Any greater percentage of starches and the breads/baked goods tend to be too pasty/chalky to me.  And that isn’t even talking about the lack of positive nutritional contributions to the baked good.  I choose the best, whole grain flours I can (typically millet, sorghum and finely ground brown rice) with the starch that will best impart the texture I’m looking for (tapioca = slightly sweet with a little chew; potato starch makes things more moist, but also more dense; cornstarch creates a lighter texture, but with a chalky aftertaste, etc).  I really like using tapioca starch (also called tapioca starch flour) because it’s cheap too – and easier to find in large quantities at local Asian markets.  (That’s a definite bonus!)

Baking by Weight/Ratio

While I’ve had my kitchen scale for several years, I really only used it for two reasons:  (1) complete curiosity about weights in regards to different flours and serving portions, etc and (2) to bake something from Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Italy, etc that was written in grams, rather than cups.

Since the get-go, I’ve been surprised at the wide-variance of weights.  Now, don’t get me wrong – I KNEW the flours were different densities, etc, but I was definitely surprised that the measurements were off by SIGNIFICANT grams.  It makes a difference when baking.  It is helpful to have the weights.

But since we are a cups-and-ounces crew/country, I’m posting my recipe both ways.  Sometimes, as in without a scale on hand or while baking the same way our mamas did, we reach of the measuring cups.  However, if you have the inclination, I would suggest that if you really are a GF household/baker, you should consider a kitchen scale.  You will have a whole world of recipes (literally..the rest of the world!) open up to you in grams.  And you can play around with your scale measuring out random foods just to befriend that scale and really see its value for you. (FYI: This is the one we have.)

But until you are ready to make the leap, keep baking.  And check out these other Ratio Rally Bloggers and their Gluten Free Quick Bread/Muffin recipe.  Once you see the tons of varieties that I have been eyeing lately, you will truly be considering a scale.  The variety and ratio works because of the scaling.

The Recipe

The Quick Bread/Muffin Ratio is as follows:

2 : 1 : 2 : 1 : 1
flour : sugar : liquid : eggs : butter (fat)

What does that mean?  It means simply this:

230 grams gluten free flour mix (170 grams sorghum + 60 grams tapioca starch flour)
115 grams of sugar
230 grams of liquid
2 eggs
115 grams of butter (1 stick)

GF Chocolate Chip Mocha Quick Bread 3

Gluten Free Chocolate-Chip Mocha Quick Bread
Recipe makes 1 loaf OR 18 – 24 muffins
You can find a printable copy of this recipe here.

Ingredients:
115 grams (1 stick – 1/2 cup) butter
115 grams (1/2 cup) sugar
170 grams sorghum (about 1 1/4 cup)
60 grams tapioca starch (about 1/2 scant cup)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 Tablespoons instant coffee
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
115 grams – 4 ounces (1/2 cup) milk or half and half
115 grams – 4 ounces (1/2 cup) prepared (not hot) coffee
2 eggs (large)
115 grams (5 ounces / 1 cup) dark chocolate chips (OR sliced almonds OR chopped walnuts OR chopped dried cherries)

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F.  Butter a bread-loaf pan.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar until light yellow and fluffy.
  3. While creaming (thank you, stand mixer!), whisk together sorghum flour and tapioca starch.
  4. Add eggs to creamed ingredients.  Mix together.
  5. Add remaining ingredients (sifted flours, baking powder, salt, instant coffee, xanthan gum, milk, coffee) to the mixing bowl.  Mix together for 2 minutes.
  6. Stir in add-ins (chocolate chips, nuts, dried cherries, etc) if using.
  7. Pour into your loaf pan.  Bake for 45-55 minutes until a tooth pick inserted into the center comes out clean (or at least only with melted chocolate) AND/OR your bread internal temperature reaches 200F – 205F.
  8. Remove from the oven and let cool in the loaf pan until cool enough to touch with your hands (30 + minutes).  Flip onto a cutting board.  Slice and serve.

We enjoyed this bread with sliced strawberries and homemade lattes this morning.  What will you eat yours with?

Happy GF Baking!
~Kate

PS.  Don’t forget to check out the other Ratio Rally Recipes!  You can find a list of all of our posts on our hostess’s site:  Silvana of Silvana’s Kitchen.  Here’s the page with her recipe and the links to the other THIRTY-SIX Gluten Free Ratio Rally Participants! THIRTY-SIX!  WAHOOO!

Product Review: NY Style Risotto Chips

risotto chips

A A long while back (SORRY! I am behind on life!), I received a promotional HUGE box of Risotto Chips from New York Style Brand.  They make pita chips (NOT GF) and a few other products (others are NOT GF either).  However, this product:  the Risotto Chips *are* gluten free – and FABULOUS, I might add.

Made from whole grain brown rice and seasonings, these chips are a great option for dips, parties, etc.  Trust me.  Everyone will be competing for these at the chip/dip bowl.  I know this for a fact as I brought the bunch that were sent to me to a baby shower for a colleague.  They were gone in a heartbeat.  Devoured by toddlers (2 years old), teenagers and adults alike.  They were the perfect accompaniment for the jalapeño-popper dip, pico de gallo and guacamole dips that we had too.

My personal preference is for the Spicy Marinara (not so spicy) because it has a nice kick to it and that kick isn’t so much that I didn’t want to keep eating them.  (Well…maybe that is not such a fabulous waist-line trait…but they are delicious!)  Our second favorite was the parmesan and garlic chips.  These are heavier tasting than the spicy marinara, but still fabulous.  The sea salt chips were preferred by the dip lovers.  I wasn’t such a fan because I didn’t like the added salty flavoring.  (Yes, the other flavors have salt, but the salt is not overpowering to me.)

I hope you get a chance to taste these. Thank you for the taste-box, NY Style, these were great.

~Kate

PS.  I have no affiliation with NY Style Brand and received no compensation (beyond the samples) sent to me for this post.  You can read my buddy Steve’s review of the chips here as well.

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