Friday, October 31, 2008
We have arrived at the final installment of the challah dough story here, so bear with me. Previous ones were here and here. I only made a half of the recipe, but we had a hard time finishing it. We do not have strong sweet-bread eater in this house and it is sad to say that the breads that I made were really slow moving. I probably should have bribed the kids to make sure the breads were eaten. But, I didn't...
Anyway, I decided to finish off the rest of the dough the day before yesterday. I baked two brioche-style buns, one raisin snail and one braided bread with Nutella filling. I topped all of them with crystal brown sugar. I thought they were good, I like them a lot.
So now I am done with this, at least for a while. So long.
It was Tuesday and we took a walk along Wangfujing. It is one of Beijing's most prosperous commercial areas. Tourists are drawn here from all over the world and around China. Wangfujing is also home to Beijing's largest foreign language bookstore. The street was not as packed with people as on Sunday when we were there earlier, it's just steps away from our hotel.
As I waited for the rest of the family browsing at the bookstore and I was done with it, I decided to sit down with my iPod in hand. My kids came and go, talked to me. A young lady sitting next me started a conversation by asking me whether I was from the United States. A nice surprise, she came from the Bay area, she stayed in Beijing with her grandparents who lived in Beijing. She told me that she finished college and decided to take a 3-month break before looking for a job. We talked quite a bit about the food in Beijing and traveling around the region before we said goodbye to each other. She was really lovely.
We had lunch in a food court at Sun Dong An Plaza and afterward the rest of the gang decided to look for Häagen-Dazs. Yes, they saw the sign inside the mall and now they had to have it. I stopped by to get a cup of Orange Julius on the way there, that turned out to be as bad as the one I had from a different mall, two-three days before.
DH and the kids had some ice cream and banana split.
I am not an ice-cream person, I normally have coffee when we go to ice cream place. I was a bit disappointed that the Coffee -with a fancy name and RMB38 attached to it- that I ordered came with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream and the server poured out the hot coffee on the ice cream. Gah! I wanted my hot coffee!
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Some steps in the Great Wall of China are really low, but some of them can be as high as adult-knee high. Close attention must be paid when one walks around here because there are some chips and cracks that could make any that do not look out well, trip over ...... ain't gonna be pretty....
A view from our cable car.
Two side by side stalls that sell all sort of pancakes.
To the left if you take cable car, to the right if you are using your legs to go up!
A couple of graffiti on the Great Wall. There are many others all over the place.
One of the restaurants nearby.
When the kids have no school, they occasionally want to have something less than simple things for lunch. My first and third tend to go for homemade pasta or pizza, the second one would dial the phone for Pizza Hut. But only my third one is willing to take more steps into preparing her meal.
This is mostly my youngest daughter's idea that popped up suddenly one evening, that she implemented on her own the next day. I helped her roll out the dough and later on sampled a bit of her creation. If you google pizza roll in the internet, you might find pizza that is made on a roll (bread roll), some made them similar to hers, but having them sliced first and turn them around they way cinnamon rolls are made and bake them in that position. Some people might make them similar to hers.
She started off with slicing some mushrooms and onions and sauteed them on a pan with a little bit of olive oil. She then spread them on the dough and added some sliced salami and grated cheese. A little note here that she does not like tomato sauce or pizza sauce therefore her pizza is always made without them.
The dough was rolled and sealed. More grated cheese was spread on top of the roll and finally she sprinkled some of her favorite herbs. The roll was left for around 15 minutes before the oven was warmed up for approximately 20-30 minutes. It's really easy, isn't it?
While she was doing all those things, I helped her clean up the kitchen. Everything was everywhere and I just could not stand the mess. The pizza tasted like normal pizza, she said. It is just in different shape. That makes sense, of course.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
It was Monday in Beijing, we had a plan to go to the Great Wall of China again. We hired a 7-seater Buick from the hotel with a driver as we were unable to get a car from outside vendor. It is much more expensive of course, but we had no other choice and just tried to enjoy it anyway. The van was clean, so was the driver, it was all nice and comfortable inside, bottled water was provided and some wet towels too. I am quite pleased that it was quite worth the price.
Upon discussing our first destination with the driver, we headed to Mutianyu. We have been to the more popular Great Wall spot in Badaling the last time we came to Beijing. Our two daughters, however, came to this same side during their previous visit with the school, climbed - walked- maybe were dragged (who knows?) up all the way and managed to see some snow in March a couple of years back. The Mutianyu Great Wall lies in Huairou District, approximately 73 kilometers from Beijing. I took us around 1 1/2 hours to get there.
We were aware of the availability of Cable Car there, thanks to Samantha Brown of Discovery Channel. We purchased five tickets to take us up, enjoy the view, took a little walk and some photographs and went back down, with cable car again. We wanted to take luge down, but didn't really want to walk more to find the location. Some lazy people we are!!!!!! What a time saving, as we wanted to see the venue of Olympic Games and check out fake products at Silk Street.
A very charming little boy suddenly came out from one of the forts and started talking to DH. Cute!
My latest occupational hazard.... gaining weight from tasting nearly everything I make. I am not quite being converted into a Nutella lover yet, but I started licking Nutella again after baking these little buns. The only reason we had a jar of Nutella in the kitchen was my middle child. That's it. She's the one that finished one jar after another, while the others barely participated in the process. I used to throw away nearly full Nutella, because it passed its expiration date, before my No.2 started her affair with Nutella. That was then and I can't remember when it started to change. Now, I have become an accessory in the case of emptying the Nutella jar.
I made two challah based buns with Nutella again last night, they rose well, looked even more beautiful and elegant. And they tasted good too.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
And I guess, grilled corn is not as popular as candied fruit in Beijing.... This stall barely had any customers when we were there.... although the alley where the stall was located, was congested with people.
This little boy seemed to have a little difficulty biting into his candied kiwi fruit on a stick. Candied fruits are very popular on the street around Wangfujing street in Beijing. Business is brisk at the stalls that sell them. All types of fruit are largely available, they have hawthorn, kiwi fruit, strawberries, grapes and many others. All are arranged nicely on the stick nicely and dipped into syrup that will crystallized immediately.
Monday, October 27, 2008
My dear middle child doesn't really take cheese bread. She, however, is fond of Nutella on her bread, plus sliced banana. She loves muffins filled with jam and brownies. She is crazy for s'mores .... warm, melt-in-the-mouth marshmallows over a puddle of melted chocolate in sandwiched between (she likes) digestive bars.... She may not admit it, but I really think that she's got a sweet tooth. I thought of baking a sweet bun filled with chocolate for her and I used Challah dough from from Artisan Bread In Five Minutes A Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François.
I was aware of the potential challenge that I would face as the dough was very soft, even after having been refrigerated. I gave a small try, I baked only two small muffin size buns, generously filled with nutella and topped with chopped almond. They turned out yummy! I still have plenty of dough to make, I will make some more, maybe tomorrow.
We woke up late on Sunday last week, we took our time to get ready, after all we were on vacation. Eventually, by 11 AM we were hungry and had the need to had fill our stomach. DH mentioned the name of Crystal Jade a few times and that was just the place that we headed to that morning. It was so good that Crystal Jade at Oriental Plaza is located just right down in "The Mall", attached to our hotel. We took a lift to the basement, walked a bit, and we were there!
A reservation was made just to secure a table, because it was Sunday morning, a busy time for dim sum. Crystal Jade is Singapore-owned chain with branches in many countries around the region, we are frequent guests of them. This restaurant has a very nice luxurious, imperial style décor. It's a long way to get to our table but the walkway was wonderful, passing a cozy lounge, bar and many separate private dining rooms. The main hall is beautifully decorated and we could not wait to taste their food. Expansion of the waist line has begun the night before.
These are some of the dishes that we ordered. Towards the end, we got carried away and completely forgot about taking pictures of the food we had.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
We endured two loaves of "Earthquake" i.e. cheese bread from "Bread Talk" when we were in Beijing for our breakfast. We were too lazy to get up early and get something to eat but still wanted to munch something in our pajamas. We were so deeply unhappy with the amount of cheese that they put inside. Trying to find the cheese inside the loaf is like trying to find a needle in a haystack, almost. I wish I had taken a picture of them... Trust me, the cheese was almost non existent and I don't know why the bread is named Earthquake.
That very evening after we landed, DH placed an order of cheese bread for the next morning, which I longed for as well. A loaf of cheese bread was baked on Thursday morning, with a generous amount of cheese of course. Another one on Friday morning and one more as well on Saturday morning. Three mornings in a row. This morning, our breakfast menu was changed, I had to offer something tempting for a change for DH, another favorite of his, pancake with banana and caramel sauce.
For myself and those who dislike pancakes, I made cheese scones. No different than cheese scones that I have made before, but I always enjoy taking pictures of them, because they always look gorgeous in pictures. They taste good too. Yum.
One world, one dream, one pack of BeijingOlympic bands from a souvenir shop in Tiananmen Square and each of us got one band of different color. Beijing 2008 FTW! Yours truly in black, No.3 in light blue, No. 2 in green, DH in red and No.1 in yellow. It's a good thing we have three kids!