Saturday, January 30, 2021

Pan-Fried Cabbage and Noodle Buns

Pan-fried and steamed cabbage and noodle buns are soft, tasty buns from Taiwan. They are cooked similar to potstickers but they are made with yeasted dough. These Tainan buns can be served as such or with a sweet and spicy soy sauce for dipping. Pan-fried and steamed buns are quite popular ones in Asia. These tasty buns are our favorite and hence wanted to share these for the Asian Inspirations event hosted by Christie of #OurFamilyTable group. We share Recipes From Our Dinner Table! Join our group and share your recipes, too! While you're at it, join our Pinterest board, too!

Last summer, one of my friends made potstickers and sent me the picture since we were all under stay-at-home orders. I wanted to try the potstickers and the buns after her comments. When I first learned to make these, I adapted the recipe from Jeeca. She uses soymilk for the dough. Initially, when I tried, I was out of soymilk and used just water.  The flour I used, required 1/4 cup more water, adjust according to your flour. They came out super great and delicious. So, I am sticking to water for the dough. Instant yeast or active dry yeast can be used. If you use active dry yeast, just activate it, then make the dough. I was thinking to make smaller buns, but by practice made the usual size. They can be made in smaller sizes too. Just halve the size of the dough and the filling, make it into 32 buns instead of 16. They are great for any party. Also, The filling from her recipe was in excess for me and so I have made modifications in the quantities of veggies and noodles. The changed measurements work perfectly. I have added chili flakes to the filling, even then they are a little mild. My kids love the mild-spicy taste and hence this was perfect for us. For a little heat, add a couple of dashes of chili sauce or chili peppers, just like me. I have used extra sesame seeds for the crusts since I like sesame. They can be made without too. I have shown here both the buns.


Makes 16 buns

For the dough

All-purpose flour - 3 cups

Water - 1 and 1/4 cups

Yeast - 2 tsp

Salt - 3/4 tsp

Sugar - 2 tbsp

Sesame seeds - 1 tbsp, toasted

Sesame oil - 1.5 tbsp

For the filling

Glass noodles - 1 and 1/2 blocks (65-70g in total)

Cabbage - 5 cups, shredded

Carrots- 3/4 cup, shredded

Soy sauce - 1 tbsp

Salt -1.5 tsp

Chili flakes - 1 tsp (optional)

Sesame oil - 2 tbsp

Green onions - 1/2 cup

To make the bun

Toasted sesame seeds - 1 or 2 tbsp (optional)

Sesame oil - 4 tbsp

Water - 1 cup


Activate the yeast in water with sugar. Mix in a bowl the flour, salt, sesame oil, and seeds. Make a well in the center and add the yeast mixture. Knead to a dough. Apply oil on the bowl and let the dough rise for 2 hours.

Pour hot water to the noodles and soak for 2-3 minutes. Drain and cut the noodles to smaller length. Keep aside. 

To make the filling, heat 2 tbsp oil. Add the carrots and cabbage, stir fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the noodles, green onions, salt, chili flakes, and soy sauce. Stir fry for 2 minutes and transfer to a bowl.

Gently punch and roll the dough. Divide into 16 pieces. Roll each piece into 5-7in circles. Fill with 2 tbsp of filling. Try to make folds from one edge of the dough with the right fingers and at the same time push the filling inside closing the dumpling. Slightly flatten the top. (The buns can be dusted with extra sesame seeds if preferred).

Heat a pan. Add 1 tbsp oil, cook the buns for 3-4 minutes on low-medium heat. Flip and cook the other side for 3 minutes. Pour 1/4 cup water and immediately cover the pan with a  lid to steam. Steam till all the water evaporates, roughly 4-5 minutes. Repeat the process with the rest of the buns. 

Sesame crusted buns

Serve warm. 

Asian Inspiration

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Dill Cream Cheese Spread #FoodnFlix

Dill cream cheese spread is a simple spread for bread. They taste amazing with a slice of bread or fries or veggies. It is a cream cheese spread flavored with garlic and dill. I made this based on inspiration from the movie "Simply Irresistible". I am linking this post to #Food'nFlix. 

Food'nFlix is a fun little group that gets together each month and watches the same movie at their leisure.  Once we watch, we create a dish that was inspired by the chosen film. Wendy of A Day in the life on the farm is hosting this month. If you want to participate in Food 'n Flix, Check out this month's announcement post at A Day in the life on the farm, and drop by the Food 'n Flix site to learn more! Thanks, Wendy!

Simply Irresistible (1999), is a romantic comedy with Sarah Michelle Gellar and Sean Patrick Flanery as the lead actors. Amanda inherits the restaurant, Southern Cross,  after her mother but is not very successful in running the business. Her business was about to close when something magical happened. She meets a man (who claims to be her mom's friend) at the market selling crabs to her. Suddenly she is able to cook and run her business. The recipes are inspired by her emotions aided by the magical crab. Her food is very impressive and people start to feel the emotions with which she cooked the food. The rest of the story falls in place for the girl. She is dressed in a variety of clothes, and she looks beautiful. I love their dance on the new posh restaurant with a new floor. Overall, it is a good movie. 

There are quite a few foods when you watch the movie with your foodie glasses. 
  • Having coffee
  • She shops for raspberries.
  • Mushrooms, blackberries, garlic, apples, strawberries in the market. 
  • Amanda and Nolan talk in the kitchen and they say rum raisin, blue cheese, and dirt 
  • Crab napoleon is what she served to Tom and chicken paillard for his girlfriend.
  • Tom says dill....after tasting Amanda's food...
  • Martini made at the restaurant
  • Amanda and Nolan discuss caramel eclairs when Nolan suggests sugar cookies.
  • She makes the "irresistible" caramel eclairs
  • Amanda says, “dessert is the whole point of the meal".
  • Amanda gives Tom the box of dessert that he forgot when he was at the restaurant.
  • A customer wanting to have food again but said that he prefers to start with dessert first
  • Her vanilla creme 
  • At the new supermarket, offered a sandwich, PBJ
  • She serves a fig appetizer, and peach in vanilla creme for dessert (fog comes out when you cut the fruit) at the posh restaurant of Bendel's
  • Also, she writes the menu on the board in her restaurant. It is quite an impressive list that can inspire you to make one. 

I wanted to try the heirloom tomato salad from the menu and the most irresistible caramel eclairs. Since Tom keeps repeating the herb "dill", I decided to use that and make a spread for the baguette. Nolan enters the restaurant with 3 baguettes. He also seems to be carrying what looks like carrot tops. Since only the tops were seen as the vegetable was in the bag, I served carrot fries on top. This is purely optional but would be loved by everyone. We love baguettes. Bread and spread are loved by all of us and hence decided to make a simple dill cream cheese spread.  


Cream cheese - 4oz, room temperature
Heavy cream - 1 tbsp
Sour cream - 2 tbsp
Dill leaves - 2 tbsp, chopped
Garlic - 1 clove, finely chopped
Salt - 1/4 tsp


Add everything to a bowl, mix well. Transfer to a serving bowl to be served as a dip or spread for veggies and bread.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Bhagara Baingan - Baby Eggplants in Creamy Nut Sauce #Cookthebook

Today, I am sharing the recipe for bhagara baingan, a popular curry from the Hyderabad region. Baby eggplants are cooked in a spicy creamy sauce with coconut, peanuts, and sesame. It is simply delicious served with white rice, pulao, or biriyani. I am linking this post for #cookthebooks and there is a story behind not only this but every food that helps us enjoy happier times as well as cope up with pain and loss.

Deb Of Kahakai Kitchen is hosting the December2020/January2021 event for cookthebooks. We read a book and cook something inspired by the book and share it in our blogs or social media. For this session, we are reading the Eat Joy: Stories & Comfort Food from 31 Celebrated Writers edited by Natalie Eve Garrett. This book has stories of celebrity writers about food and what food helped them to celebrate joy, overcoming pain, healing, pains, and loss.

Food brings everyone together. It helps enjoy your happiness, overcome your fears, and comforts loss. This book is about that. When I read the authors describing their experiences, every time my mind connected everything with my mom. There were a few authors that I felt closely connected with my mom doing the same. Listed below is the list of some of the authors' experiences which I was able to correlate.

Mira JacobHome Coming - Dark Leaves and Warm Milk: Mira wrote that her mom could pinpoint "you could do better, ....but she would know the misery,... misery can't be taken away- by talking about neighbors politics, scandals...", of how her mom would comment on microplane grater and how her mom prefers mincing ginger.....My mom too has her own methods and she too would say you could do better though inside she knew the pain and would want me to come out and move ahead in my life. 

Kristen Iskandrian - Grief Pickles: The author loves pickles. Her Armenian father introduced her mango condiment which she loved the most. My mom makes amazing pickles. Indian style pickles are the spicy ones that everyone says oooh and aah! Right from my childhood, I used to love one of her lemon pickle, which in turn my kids love too. 

Emily Raboteau  - Healing - Julia's Stepchild:  Emily wrote about the congee, her stepmom Julia made when she was weak. This reminds me of the congee our mom made for us when we were sick. In fact, she would feed us spoon by spoon so that we would get better. Healing!

Amitava Kumar - Minute Rice and Other Miracles: He uses recipes as broadly directional, not as precise steps to follow perfection, proceeding simply by tasting and then improvising, sticking close to the recipe. He started collecting recipes initially from the time his cousin gave him a recipe for chicken with green chilies when he visited his family back. This reminds me of the time when I moved far away from home.  I came here with some of the recipes written on a couple of papers by my mom. I followed her recipes strictly though whenever I missed her food. 

Laura Van Den BergPains - Comfort With Eggs: Though Laura was an anorexic teen, she learned to cook with eggs. She helped mom recover from knee replacement surgery (Though mom had frozen casseroles, but was weak and not interested to eat). Laura made a frittata, remembering close friends sister making it. Made her less painful. I feel that nurturing our parents when they are in need would definitely help us overcome our pains and theirs too! 

Claire MessudPains - The Taste of Consolation: They moved to many places. Her mom made perfect meals though ambitious of becoming a lawyer. Her mom had to give away her dream too. 

I found a perfect match in the qualities of Claire Messud's mom's description with my mom.  She described her mom as a meticulous housekeeper, a devotee of small joys of all kinds and any opportunity for laughter, sang songs, watched silly shapes of cloud,  and cooking. These qualities perfectly match with those of my mom's. My mom encourages everyone from the heart. She is a stellar housewife. My mom has a culinary gift. She is a natural. My dad loves her cooking. He would be satisfied with the food made with her hands though he won't say it. I remember how I enjoyed the rice flour - buttermilk upma she would make for me. As a child, I never ate anything spicy while the rest of the family ate spicy food. Her yogurt rice, upma, dal rice, kheer, and a little amount of pickle is all I would want for. Her food gave pure comfort to all of us. She made sure she prepares the favorites of her guests too! She would just do everything in a jiffy and they would turn out to be great. I  have seen her reading a lot of books, notes down some recipes, always trying to improve herself. She tries them Like how Amitava Kumar, she may not strictly follow the recipe. She would use the recipe and alter it to suit our taste palette bringing comfort to us. She watches with immense satisfaction. She is selfless. She used to read books aloud to my grandma when my grandma couldn't read, bringing happiness to both of them. She would know what everyone wants and would try to do the best for them, though it wouldn't benefit her. She saw happiness in that. At the same time, she wouldn't let us dwell on our shortcomings. She would ask us to outgrow indirectly. She celebrated small pleasures be it listening to music, or whistling, or tweeting with the birds in the backyard., or drawing...I have seen how she took care of my grandma's when they were old and dying. She gave the utmost care. She would take care of us when we were sick just like Julia, healing us and making us strong. We call her pickling queen in our family circle. When I was young, I always loved to eat her lemon pickle and yogurt rice. That gave me comfort and a secure feeling. I love her mango pickle varieties and learned to make them. I love to make them or have those pickles (made by her) with rice or roti (just like how Kristen loved the mango condiments). That helps me overcome the pain that I am not near her, and helps me focus and move ahead. In fact, my kids love her pickles and ask for them again and again. My daughter loves a sweet delicacy, Jangri, made by my mom only. She wouldn't eat if I  make or anyone else gave her or even store-bought. She cooks everything filled with love. I could see the happiness my mom brings to my family. She never expected anything in turn. That always made me wonder. I never liked cooking when I was a kid, I was never anorexic like Laura. I knew to cook something to thrive. I started missing my mom and saw all her qualities when far apart. I have a food blog today as I want to do everything for my kids what she did for us and learned a lot from her and from books. 

The distance separating us and the silence taught me many things in life. I learned to see things from many different angles. When I was there, I didn't cook anything for her that she craved. We are living thousands of miles apart. I had the chance to take care of her when she was sick once, a couple of years back. I made her what she liked to eat at that time and that gave satisfaction to me.  When I read this book, I couldn't think of the recipes shared by the authors. All I could think was what my mom liked, what I could do for her or did for her, for a selfless, down to earth person. She always cooked (and cooks) for everyone and never expected anyone to make anything for her. All through her life, she is hardworking without complaining. What she liked from my cooking gave me comfort and happiness. It gave her comfort and happiness too. She likes my tomato soup, bhagara baingan, fresh dinner rolls (whole wheat rolls, jalapeno rolls), cream bun, dum biriyani, pulao, malai kofta, salads, etc... Making and enjoying these with my parents gave me not only comfort and happiness but also the strength to calm the pain arising from the fact that though old, they are managing everything by themselves and I am far apart. Her favorite vegetable is eggplant. Back home my dad isn't a fan of eggplants and so this vegetable came home once in a while or when we have guests who liked it. She never made bhagara baingan at home but enjoyed it so much when I made it. I made it a few times when she visited us last year. I decided to share the recipe of bhagara baingan as this gives me comfort and happiness. Food helps us enjoy happier times as well as cope up with difficult times. Sharing this recipe makes a lot of sense to me. Here is the recipe.


Baby eggplants -10
mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Fenugreek (methi) seeds  - 1/2 tsp
Nigella seeds (kalonji) - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaf - 1 sprig
Salt - 1 tsp
Green chilies - 2 -3, slit lengthwise
Cilantro - 1 tbsp, for garnish
Garlic - 1.5 tsp
Ginger - 1.5 tsp
Oil - 1/4 cup
Tamarind - 1 tsp (soak in 1.5 cups water)

To make the creamy paste

Sesame seeds - 3 tbsp
Peanuts - 3 tbsp
Coconut - 3 or 4 tbsp
Chilli powder - 3/4 tsp
Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder - 1.5 tsp
Cumin powder - 1.5 tsp


Dry roast the peanuts and sesame separately as their roasting time differs. Grind to the toasted nuts, coriander powder, chilli powder, turmeric, cumin powder, and coconut to a paste with a little water. Keep aside.

Slit the eggplants like a plus sign without cutting the eggplants completely. Heat 2 tbsp oil, add the eggplants, and shallow fry them till they are soft. Keep aside. This may take about 7-8 minutes.

Add remaining oil to the same pan, add mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, nigella seeds, green chilies, red chilies, curry leaves, and sauté for a minute till it is aromatic. Add the chopped onions and sauté till they become transparent. Grind the garlic and ginger to a fine paste. Add it to the onions and sauté for a couple more minutes.

Add the eggplants, ground paste, salt, and tamarind water. Mix gently not to break the eggplants as they are soft. Simmer for 5-7 minutes.

 Transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with cilantro. Serve.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Cornmeal Cheese Bomb Muffins

Muffins are always yum for a breakfast or as a snack for kids. And, if the muffins have an ooey-gooey surprise inside, all the more wanted always by the kids.  These are cheese bombs and these are totally fun and extremely delicious to have. They are eggless and the recipe is great for people with egg allergies and vegetarians. The flaxseed helps in binding everything. The acid from the buttermilk helps with the texture of these soft muffins. I have used a little serrano pepper and chili flakes. The muffins are not spicy at all. I would love to have a spicier one. Habaneros can be used instead of serrano if you prefer a muffin with a punch. Also, I have used different cheese flavors. Feel free to use any favorite cheese of yours. I like habanero jack. I did use habanero jack, pepper jack, and chipotle cheddar to stuff the muffins according to the preferences in our home. The options are wide with different cheese varieties thereby giving very flavorful end results, just use a melting cheese. They are perfect for breakfast. They are great for weekend brunch with chili or soup.  The fluffy, savory, delicious bombs will sure be everyone's favorite.

My kids love cheese bombs.  Muffin cheese bombs are most frequently made in our home and it gets emptied in a jiffy! This is my post for this year's first #MuffinMonday hosted by Stacy. I selected this muffin as this is the most favored one in our home, and it has a surprise cheesy center. All of us hope for a great year and hence want the first #MuffinMonday post to be the one with a filled surprise.

Muffin Monday
#MuffinMonday is a group of muffin loving bakers who get together once a month to bake muffins. You can see all of our lovely muffins by following our Pinterest board. Updated links for all of our past events and more information about Muffin Monday can be found on our home page.


Makes 12 muffins

All-purpose flour - 1 cup

Yellow cornmeal - 1 cup

Baking powder - 1 tsp

Baking soda - 1/2 tsp

Salt - 1 tsp

Oil - 1/2 cup

Buttermilk - 1 and 1/4 cup

Serrano - 1/4 tsp, finely minced

Green onions - 3 tbsp, green parts

Cilantro - 1/4 cup, chopped fine

Cumin - 1/2 tsp

Pepper flakes - 1/2 tsp

Cheese sticks - 4, any flavor

Flaxed egg - 1 tbsp flaxseed meal in 1/4 cup water.


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a bowl, mix all-purpose flour, yellow cornmeal, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cumin, and chili flakes. 

Cut each cheese stick into 6 pieces.

In another bowl, mix the buttermilk, flaxed egg, oil together. Add in the wet ingredients and mix quickly. Fold in the green onions, cilantro, and peppers. 

Pour into a lined muffin pan, 3/4 the size of the muffin mold. Add 2 cheese pieces into each muffin, slightly push it down. Bake for 15-16 minutes.

Cool for a minute. Serve them hot for an ooey-gooey cheesy muffin bomb.


Here’s to 2021, a year of much hope! And delicious muffins. Thanks, Stacy!

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Vegetarian Winter Minestrone Soup

Minestrone is the most loved soup in our home. The winter minestrone is very much identical to the most loved and popular Italian minestrone soup. The only difference is that it is made with beans and a couple of root veggies, and winter veggies. This is a hearty stew made with veggies, beans, pasta, and most comforting during the winter season. So this soup is perfect for the "Winter Warm Up Soups" from #ourfamilytable group and Christie is hosting this event.

We share Recipes From Our Dinner Table! Join our group and share your recipes, too! While you're at it, join our Pinterest board, too!

This soup can be prepared in about 40-45 minutes. It tastes as if it was simmering all through the day. That delicious! This soup is vegetarian and vegan. I didn't add parmesan rind in the soup while it was cooking.  We have requests in our family who wanted to reduce/avoid cheese as well as those who love cheese.  So I made this vegan version where you can top parmesan if you prefer.  Even without it, the soup tastes delicious. Though the original soup recipe would call for parmesan rind, this can be omitted to make a vegan version. Vegan parmesan cheese is a great addition to the flavor. Also, I have used water instead of any kind of broth. Vegan pasta is available in specialty stores or you can use your homemade vegan pasta. Spinach or chard can also be added.


Onion - 1 cup, diced
Carrot - 2 (1 cup diced)
Celery - 3 sticks (1 cup, diced)
Garlic - 3 cloves
Salt - 2 tsp
Pepper - 1.5 tsp
Potatoes - 1 cup, diced
Diced tomatoes - 1 - 14.5oz can
Cannellini beans  - 1 - 14.5oz can, drained and rinsed
Kidney beans - 1 - 14.5oz can
Small pasta - 3/4 cup
Water / broth - 6 - 7 cups
Dried thyme - 1/2 tsp
Dried basil - 1 tsp
Oil - 1 tbsp


Parmesan (optional)
Dried or fresh parsley


Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepot. Add the onions, garlic, carrot, and celery. Sauté for 7-8 minutes until the onions turn translucent. Add in the potatoes, salt, and pepper. Sauté for 2 minutes. Add in the kidney beans, 3/4 of the cannellini beans, diced tomatoes, water, thyme, and basil. Simmer for 6-7 minutes. 

Blend the remaining cannellini beans with 1/2 cup water. Add in the pasta and the bean puree, and simmer for about 10 minutes. 

Ladle into bowls, top with parmesan, and parsley. Serve with crusty bread.

Below are the links to the soups we shared for "Winter Warm Up Soups!". Make sure to check out these and enjoy the winter with a piping hot bowl of soups that warms you up! Thanks, Christie!