curry buns

I have been in a bread making frenzy lately. There’s this something about bread making. If you ever take a break from making bread, you wouldn’t want to bake any, but once you retrieve a tray of freshly made buns from your oven, you wouldn’t want to stop at just one batch. It’s so addictive that I keep wanting to make a fresh loaf of bread or a tray of buns everyday!

When I first saw those lovely Chicken and Potatoes Curry Milk Buns made by Sonia of Nasi Lemak Lover, I bookmarked the recipe right away. That was more than two years back and I didn’t put any plans into actions (^^!)

It was only after I read Sze Min’s delicious Char Siew Buns wrapped with pandan leaves that I recalled I have yet to tackle the curry buns recipe that has been buried somewhere in my ever growing to-do list.

Grace from Kitchen Corner also shaped her mouth-watering Sambal Ikan Bilis Pumpkin Buns in a similar way. So, when I happened to get a bottle of curry powder on my annual trip to Kwong Cheong Thye to get mooncake ingredients, and when I have some leftover pandan leaves from cooking sweet potatoes soup, I went right ahead to make a batch of curry buns. No more procrastination!

I adapted a tangzhong milk bun recipe fromCarol 自在生活 for the bread dough. I have been experimenting bread machine loaves using her recipes and the results have been very satisfactory. The original recipe calls for making the tangzhong with milk (so interesting), but I replaced with water as I had no confidence that I would get it right the first time. As for the curry chicken potatoes filling, I used a recipe from this book  ‘I can bake by Agnes Chang’ as it is pretty easy and straight forward with a short ingredients list 😉

The pandan leaves gave a very nice fragrant while the buns were baking in the oven. Upon cooling, I could still detect a hint of the pandan fragrance on the buns. The curry buns were very well received since all of us love curry! Just like my usual tangzhong bread, the buns remain soft the next day. Due to the filling, it is better to store them in the fridge if there are any leftovers after the next day, just need to reheat in the oven and they will taste like freshly made ones.

Curry Buns

Ingredients:
(makes 9 buns)

for the buns:
– tang zhong (water-roux):
20g bread flour
100ml water

– bread dough:
250g bread flour
50g cake flour
30g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3g instant yeast (about 1 teaspoon)
1 egg lightly beaten (about 55g without shell)
80ml milk
100g tang zhong (water-roux)
30g unsalted butter (cut into cubes)

for the filling:
1.5 tablespoons curry powder mix with 3 tablespoons water to form a smooth paste
1 medium size yellow onions, chopped
2 sprigs curry leaves
1 tablespoons oil
200g chicken breast, cubed
2 large potatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons water (add more water if necessary)

9 pandan leaves for wrapping

Method:

to make filling:
* Peel and cut potatoes into small cubes. Boil in water for about 10mins. Drain and set aside.
* Heat up oil on medium heat, saute onions, curry leaves till fragrant. Add in chicken and potatoes and stir fry till meat is cooked. Add in curry paste, salt and water (add more water if necessary). Stir fry till the mixture dries up. Dish up and leave to cool.

to make tang zhong:
* Place 20g bread flour in a saucepan. Add 100ml water, mix with a hand whisk till smooth, making sure there are no lumps of flour. Cook over medium to low heat, stirring constantly with the hand whisk to prevent it from burning. Within 1 to 2 mins, the mixture will start to thicken, stop when you see traces in the mixture for every stir you make with the hand whisk. The tang zhong is ready. Immediately transfer the hot tang zhong into a bowl and cover it with a cling wrap, making sure the cling wrap sticks onto the surface of the mixture. This is to prevent a film from forming on the surface. Leave to cool completely before using it.

to make the bread dough:
* Place bread flour, cake flour, sugar, salt, yeast, egg, water and tang zhong (use 100g) in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer. Let the mixer knead the dough on high speed until the ingredients come together to form a dough, takes about 8 to 10 mins. Add in the butter gradually and continue to knead for another 15~20mins until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. (Upon adding the butter, the dough will become very wet/slack again, add some flour if it remains slack after 10 mins of kneading. Depending on the type of flour used, the dough may still stick to the sides of the mixing bowl after 15-20mins of kneading. If this happens, continue to knead for another 5mins or so, stop the machine, oil or dust hands with flour and proceed to remove the dough from the bowl.

* Place dough in a lightly greased (use vegetable oil or butter) mixing bowl, cover with cling wrap or a damp cloth and let proof in room temperature (around 28 to 30 degC) for about one hour, or until double in bulk.

* Remove the dough from the bowl and give a few light kneading to press out the gas in the dough. Divide the dough into 9 equal portions (about 60g each). Roll each dough into smooth rounds, cover with a damp cloth or cling wrap and let the doughs rest for 10mins.

* On a lightly floured work surface, roll each dough into a round disc. Press out any trapped air as you flatten the dough. Wrap each dough with one heaped tablespoon of the filling. Pinch and seal the seam tightly. Place seam side down on a greased (or lined with parchment paper) baking tray. Space doughs two inches apart to allow them to expand. Cover with damp cloth or cling wrap and leave doughs to proof for the second time for about 40mins, or until double in size.

* After 30 minutes of proofing, preheat the oven and wrap each dough with pandan leaves, tighten with tooth picks. Decorate top of each bun with curry leaf, optional.

* Bake in pre-heated oven at 180 deg C for 15 mins or until golden brown (if necessary, tent the surface with foil if the top browns too quickly closer to the baking time). Remove from oven and transfer to wire track to let cool. Once cool, store immediately in an airtight container. Any leftovers should be kept in airtight container in the fridge, reheat/warm in oven before serving.

Recipe source for bread dough: adapted from ‘Carol 自在生活‘ and ‘I can bake by Agnes Chang’.

Time to VOTE for Project Food Blog 2010 Challenge #2!!

Project Food Blog

Guess what? It’s that time again! Voting for Project Food Blog’s Challenge #2 is open from now until Thursday, September 30th at 8pm CST.

Don’t have a Foodbuzz account? No problem! Just click “Join Foodbuzz” in the top, right corner and enter a username, your email, and a password. Hit “Join Foodbuzz” and you’ve got your voting privileges! Click on any of the links in this post to head over to my contestant profile, and once you’re there, click on the Challenge #2 “Vote” button underneath “My Trophies”!

Only 200 of 400 move on, so… on your mark, get set, go VOTE!! 🙂

Hot and Sour Soup

Chia Seed Pudding

Fuel your day with our scrumptious Chia Seed Pudding recipe. Top with fresh fruits, granola, or nuts for a delightful breakfast or snack!

chia seed pudding in glass jar garnished with fresh berries

Exploring the Delights of Chia Seed Pudding

Chia Seed Pudding has taken the health-conscious world by storm, and it’s no surprise why. This versatile treat strikes the perfect balance between deliciousness and nutrition.

The Chia Seed Pudding Recipe: A Versatile Delight

Chia Seed Pudding is not just a mouthwatering dessert; it’s also a nutritious breakfast option or a satisfying snack. This delightful creation can be customized to suit your taste, making it a versatile addition to your culinary repertoire.

With its simple ingredients and ease of preparation, a recipe for Chia Seed Pudding is a must-have in your collection.

Chia Seed Pudding with Coconut Milk: Creamy and Dairy-Free

For those with lactose intolerance or a preference for dairy-free options, Chia Seed Pudding with coconut milk is an excellent choice. The creamy consistency of coconut milk pairs perfectly with the gelatinous texture of chia seeds, creating a delightful mouthfeel that will keep you coming back for more.

Of course, besides dairy milk, some other options for a dairy-free treat are almond milk, soy milk, oat milk, hemp milk, or any other kind of non-dairy milk you prefer.

Chia Seed Pudding Overnight: Convenience Meets Nutrition

One of the greatest advantages of Chia Seed Pudding is its overnight preparation. Simply mix the ingredients, let it rest in the fridge, and wake up to a ready-to-eat, nutritious delight. It’s a time-saver and a nutritious breakfast option, all in one.

Discover the Magic of Chia Seed Pudding

Whether you’re looking for a wholesome breakfast, a satisfying snack, or a healthy dessert, this pudding has you covered. With this recipe for Chia Seed Pudding in your arsenal, you’ll have a tasty, nutritious treat at your fingertips whenever you need it.

closeup of two jars with chia seed pudding

Chia Seed Pudding: Ingredients & Equipment

To make this recipe, you will need …

Ingredients

  • chia seeds – While chia seeds are the star of this recipe, if you don’t have them on hand or prefer a different texture, you can try using flax seeds or hemp seeds, though the consistency may vary slightly.
  • coconut or almond milk – The recipe suggests coconut or almond milk, but you can use any milk of your choice, such as dairy milk, soy milk, oat milk, or hemp milk. Be sure to select a milk that complements your flavor preferences.
  • honey – Instead of honey, you can use other sweeteners like maple syrup, agave nectar, stevia, or even mashed bananas for a natural sweetener.
  • ground cinnamon – The recipe includes cinnamon as an optional ingredient. You can omit it or replace it with other spices like nutmeg, cardamom, or vanilla extract for different flavor variations.

Notes

  • Toppings: Customize your pudding with a variety of toppings. Fresh fruits like berries, banana slices, or mango chunks are popular choices. You can also add nuts, seeds, shredded coconut, or even a dollop of yogurt.
  • Vegan Options: To make this recipe vegan, ensure you choose plant-based milk (like almond milk or coconut milk) and use a vegan sweetener like maple syrup or agave nectar.
  • Texture Adjustments: If you find your pudding is too thick, you can add more milk to thin it out. Conversely, if it’s too thin, incorporate more chia seeds to thicken it. Adjust the consistency according to your preference.

Equipment

  • medium bowl
  • whisk
  • serving bowl or jar
chia seed pudding with a glass of milk

Serving Suggestions For Chia Seed Pudding

This recipe is incredibly versatile, and there are countless ways to serve it to suit your taste. Here are some serving suggestions:

  1. Fresh Fruit: Top your pudding with a variety of fresh fruits. Berries, sliced bananas, kiwi, mango, or peaches all make delicious choices.
  2. Nuts and Seeds: Add a satisfying crunch and extra nutrients by sprinkling chopped nuts such as almonds, walnuts, or pistachios on top. Additionally, seeds like sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, or flax seeds can enhance the texture and flavor.
  3. Granola: For some extra texture and a hint of crunch, sprinkle granola over your pudding.
  4. Yogurt: A dollop of Greek yogurt or dairy-free yogurt can provide creaminess and tanginess. It complements the pudding’s texture and adds a probiotic boost.
  5. Nut Butter: Drizzle a swirl of almond butter, peanut butter, or cashew butter on top for a creamy, nutty flavor that pairs beautifully with the pudding’s richness.
  6. Honey or Syrup: If you prefer extra sweetness, drizzle honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar over the pudding.
  7. Chocolate Chips: For a decadent twist, sprinkle some mini chocolate chips or cocoa nibs on your pudding. Chocolate lovers will appreciate this addition.
  8. Spices: Dust your pudding with a pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg, or cocoa powder for added flavor and visual appeal.
  9. Coconut: Grated coconut or toasted coconut flakes can lend a tropical touch to your pudding, enhancing both its flavor and texture.
  10. Jam or Fruit Compote: A spoonful of your favorite fruit jam or homemade fruit compote can introduce an extra burst of fruity flavor to your pudding.
  11. Lemon or Lime Zest: A sprinkle of lemon or lime zest can provide a refreshing citrusy aroma and taste, making your pudding more vibrant.
bite of chia seed pudding with fresh berries on spoon

Chia Seed Pudding: FAQs

➡ What are chia seeds, and why are they used in pudding?

Chia seeds are tiny, nutrient-dense seeds packed with fiber, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. When mixed with liquid, they absorb it and swell, creating a gel-like consistency. This gel forms the base of chia seed pudding, making it thick and creamy without the need for cooking.

➡ Is Chia Seed Pudding healthy?

Yes, it is considered a healthy choice. It’s rich in fiber, protein, and essential nutrients, making it a satisfying and nutritious option for breakfast or a snack. It’s also often vegan and gluten-free, depending on the ingredients used.

➡ Can I make Chia Seed Pudding in advance?

Yes, it is an excellent make-ahead option. You can prepare it the night before and store it in the fridge. This allows the chia seeds to absorb the liquid and thicken the pudding, resulting in a convenient and ready-to-eat meal or snack.

➡ How long can I store Chia Seed Pudding?

It can typically be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Be sure to cover it with a lid or plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out or absorbing other odors from the fridge.

➡ Can Chia Seed Pudding be a meal replacement?

It can be a filling and nutritious meal, especially when combined with toppings like fruit, nuts, and yogurt. However, it may not provide all the necessary nutrients for a complete meal, so it’s best enjoyed as part of a balanced diet.

➡ Is there a difference between white and black chia seeds in pudding?

There is no significant difference in taste or texture between white and black chia seeds in chia seed pudding. You can use either variety based on your preference or availability.

➡Can children and toddlers eat Chia Seed Pudding?

It is generally safe for children and toddlers. However, be mindful of choking hazards if serving to very young children. It’s also a good idea to introduce it gradually into their diet to ensure they tolerate it well.

chia seed pudding with fresh berries

Other recipes you may enjoy

chia seed pudding in jar garnished with fresh fruit

Chia Seed Pudding

Yield:
1 serving
Prep Time:
5 minutes
Additional Time:
3 hours
Total Time:
3 hours 5 minutes

Whip up a healthy Chia Seed Pudding in minutes! Enjoy a nutritious and satisfying guilt-free treat. Perfect for breakfast or snacking.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons fresh chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk or almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • fresh fruit, granola, yogurt, nuts, etc., for serving (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the chia seeds and coconut or almond milk. Whisk well to combine. Allow it to sit for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the honey and cinnamon, then whisk again, ensuring there are no clumps and that both the honey and cinnamon are fully mixed into the chia-milk mixture.
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for 2 to 3 hours.
  4. Remove the chia seed pudding and stir it once more. If the pudding is too thin, add more chia seeds and return it to the refrigerator to thicken. If it’s too thick, add more almond milk.
  5. Pour the pudding into serving cups and top it with your favorite fresh fruits, granola, yogurt, nuts, or any toppings you prefer.

Notes

  • This recipe is an excellent make-ahead option. You can prepare it the night before and store it in the fridge. This allows the chia seeds to absorb the liquid and thicken the pudding, resulting in a convenient and ready-to-eat meal or snack.
  • Chia seed pudding can typically be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Be sure to cover it with a lid or plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out or absorbing other odors from the fridge.
  • Remember, the beauty of Chia Seed Pudding lies in its versatility. Feel free to mix and match these suggestions or create your own unique combinations to enjoy this nutritious and delightful treat to the fullest.

Nutrition Information:

Yield: 1

Serving Size: 1 serving

Amount Per Serving:

Calories: 884Total Fat: 42gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 32gCholesterol: 10mgSodium: 224mgCarbohydrates: 107gFiber: 19gSugar: 63gProtein: 29g

Please note that the nutritional information listed on this page is an estimation based on the products I used. Ingredients and nutritional information can vary significantly between brands. Always be sure to read labels. Please verify that a recipe fits your needs before using it. Nutrition info may contain errors, so please verify it independently. Likewise, recipes may contain errors, so please use your common sense when following them.

Did you make this recipe?

Did you try this recipe? Be sure to leave a rating and tag @lovebakesgoodcakes on Instagram with the hashtag #lovebakesgoodcakes so I can see what you made!

The post Chia Seed Pudding appeared first on Love Bakes Good Cakes.

Tulsa

1) Tulsa is a big man away from being an NCAA Tournament team


Tulsa has the guards to play with anyone. The problem is upfront, where they only have two big men – Brandon Swannegan, a 6’9 210 shot-blocker, and D’Andre Wright, a 6’9 245 warm body. They hardly ever play them together, which means Tulsa is giving up size against just about every team they face. SMU killed them on the offensive boards on Wednesday (19 to 8) and made hay all night by playing inside-out, collapsing the defense and kicking the ball out for open 3’s. Tulsa was able to pull off the upset because they forced 14 turnovers and won the fast break battle 10-0, but the lack of size has killed them all season and it’s the Achilles heel that’s probably going to keep them out of the Tournament.

Once you get outside the Power 5 conferences, what really separates programs is the amount of skilled and athletic size they have on their roster. Most mid-level programs either have the choice of playing stiffs with size or undersized guys with game – there just isn’t enough skilled size to go around. Tulsa makes the best of it by playing a 3 at the 4 (6’7 205 senior wing Rashad Smith) and spreading out the other team and even going to five-out sets with Smith at the 5 at times, but those Golden State Warriors tactics really only work when you have guards who can defend big men. And there aren’t many 6’7+ guys with the size, physicality and athleticism to do that floating around outside the Power 5.

Because they are so undersized, Tulsa can’t A) match up with bigger teams and B) can’t blow smaller teams off the floor. So while they have the talent to beat good teams like SMU, they also keep lesser teams like Oral Roberts (who beat them in non-conference) in the game because they don’t have the talent at the frontcourt positions which would separate them from the great unwashed masses of the sport. They should be able to give teams like UConn, Cincy and Temple a run in the AAC Tourney, but it’s hard to see them beating all of them to get the automatic bid and they will probably end up in the NIT, where they could go pretty far as long as they avoid a team with a big frontline.

2) Shaquille Harrison and James Woodard are two halves of a great NBA prospect

Tulsa has one of the best back-courts in the country in Harrison and Woodard, two seniors who have spent most of the last four seasons starting together. They are a less high profile version of OU’s prolific senior backcourt of Buddy Hield and Isaiah Cousins. Coincidentally enough, James Woodard is the older brother of Jordan Woodard, the third banana in OU’s backcourt. At 6’4 190 (Harrison) and 6’3 190 (Woodard) they are big, physical and athletic and they would give just about any team in the country trouble on the perimeter. There’s a lot to like about their games, but they each have one glaring flaw that’s going to prevent them from playing at the next level, at least at this point in their careers. While they might be able to grind it out in the D-League for a few years and fight their way into a roster spot, the odds are definitely against them, especially coming from a lower profile school.

Harrison – 15.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.0 assists on 2.0 turnovers, 2.0 steals on 47/21/64 shooting
Woodard – 16.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists on 1.8 turnovers, 1.2 steals on 53/38/77 shooting

Harrison is a big PG with exceptional athleticism and great body control who can get to the rim pretty easily, but he can’t shoot 3’s to save his life. Woodard is a well-rounded scorer who can shoot from distance and attack off the dribble, but he’s a score-first guard who doesn’t look to distribute the ball much. You can count the number of guards who can’t shoot 3’s in the NBA on one hand and they are all transcendent passers who struggle to make a positive impact on a good team while guards who are Woodard’s size at the next level and aren’t pure PG’s tend to be transcendent scorers who can take over games against the best players in the world. It’s no knock on either to say they aren’t transcendent at any one thing. If Harrison had Woodard’s shot, he’d be a first rounder and it would be the same if Woodard had Harrison’s floor game.

As is, they complement each other really well at the NCAA level and make up for each other’s weaknesses. The holes in their games mean they are exactly the type of players who can slip through the cracks and wind up at a mid-level program like Tulsa, where they have been lucky enough to be part of a duo that’s better than the sum of its parts. It was just a fantastic job of scouting and recruiting by Danny Manning’s staff at Tulsa and that backcourt has given Frank Haith a huge leg up in his first two seasons on the job.



3) Tulsa is too experienced for its own good

There are nine players in the Tulsa rotation. Seven of them are seniors, one is a junior and one is a freshman. What that means is that Haith has only two guys whom he has recruited who are getting any playing time – he has spent the last two seasons eating off the seed corn that Manning had sown into the program before departing for Wake Forest. Of the 200 total minutes they played against SMU, 160 of them came to players who won’t be with the program next season and of the fifteen players on their roster, there are only two underclassmen. It’s a grossly irresponsible way to manage a program and it’s almost certainly going to come back to bite Haith in the coming seasons.

On one hand, you can understand him not wanting to run off any players and honoring everyone’s scholarships, especially considering in what great shape the program was in when he took over. On the other, a college coach always has to have one eye on the future when he’s building his roster and Haith has backed himself into a pretty deep corner once he loses all of Manning’s players.

4) Is Haith up to his old tricks?

If you’ve followed Haith’s coaching career over the last few seasons, this is all going to sound very familiar. After seven middling seasons at Miami (FL), Haith took over for Mike Anderson at Missouri in 2011. Anderson had built up Missouri before returning to his old stomping grounds at Arkansas, leaving behind a ready made roster with several NBA prospects that would put the coach who took over for him in a perfect situation to hit the ground running.

In Haith’s first season at Columbia, Missouri went 30-5 and was a Top 5 team for most of the season before getting knocked out in a 15-2 upset in the first round. That was the high point of his tenure there – they got steadily worse every season as the recruiting fell off and Haith eventually decamped for Tulsa, a fairly stunning decision since coaches never leave the SEC to go to a conference like the AAC. It felt like a guy getting out one step ahead of the pitchforks and that was confirmed when the NCAA came down on Missouri for various improprieties during Haith’s tenure. Considering that he left Miami under a similar cloud because of NCAA violations, the entire sequence of events hasn’t exactly done wonders for Haith’s reputation.

Here’s what should really concern Tulsa fans. Check out his win-loss records over the last five seasons:

2012 – Missouri – 30-5
2013 – Missouri – 23-11
2014 – Missouri – 23-12
2015 – Tulsa – 23-11
2016 – Tulsa – 15-8

In the three years before Haith took over at Mizzou, they were 31-7, 23-11 and 23-11. In the two years after he left, they are 9-23 and 8-15. He’s a coach who was given the keys to a program that was running at a high level, kept things going while the old regime’s players were still there before promptly running it into the ground and leaving the scene of the crime while the car was still smoldering. Long story short, Haith’s trajectory at Tulsa is not looking good.


5) Haith’s next recruiting class will make or break his tenure

With only one starter (junior Pat Birt) and one other rotation player (freshman Sterling Taplin) coming back, Tulsa is basically starting from ground zero next season, which means this next recruiting class will have to be the foundation for the program that Haith is trying to build. The good news is that he at least bothered to bring in enough players to fill out a roster. They are bringing in six guys, two of whom are JUCO’s who should be able to play right away, and two of whom are three-star recruits, who should have plenty of chances to gain experience over the next few seasons. The biggest concern is that Haith has left himself with almost no margin for error. If any of those guys flame out, there just isn’t a lot of depth in the program to make up for it.

The other issue is that the American isn’t a conference where you want to be undergoing a wholesale rebuilding job. This isn’t the C-USA or the WAC, their last two conferences where Tulsa had more resources than most of their competitors. The AAC has got big-budget programs with a ton of tradition in primo recruiting areas like UConn, Cincinnati and Memphis and they’ve got extremely accomplished coaches like Larry Brown at SMU, Fran Dunphy at Temple and Kelvin Sampson at UH. There are a lot of good programs and almost everyone has a roster full of high-caliber athletes. The level of play in this conference is pretty high and it’s not going to be easy for Haith to keep the program above water.

To return to an earlier metaphor, you have to rotate your fields and plant crops every season to make sure you always have a harvest to bring to the market and Haith spent two years basically doing nothing to maintain the program’s forward momentum.

Black Pepper Panna Cotta & Red Wine Strawberries

Black Pepper Panna Cotta (main)

I bought a carton of strawberries.

I did it against my better judgment—the berries were suspiciously big and still a little out of season, not to mention overpriced. They were so red I couldn’t help but feel suspicious.

But I bought them anyway because I wanted to make panna cotta, and I thought berries would make the plate prettier. Plus, I’d found a half-cup of cheap cabernet in the fridge, forgotten by the apartment’s previous tenants, and I figured that would be enough to make mediocre berries taste good.

I went home and got to work, chilling the panna cottas and reducing the wine to a slow-bubbling glaze. After all that, I popped open the box of strawberries. I was surprised—they actually looked really good. Well, I thought, I’m glad they’ll photograph nice. I scooped up a handful, ran them under water, and let them tumble onto a cutting board, which slowly pinkened with juice. Before slicing, I picked up one of the smaller berries, pinched off the green, and popped the whole thing in my mouth.

Wow.

Black Pepper Panna Cotta (strawberry)

Black Pepper Panna Cotta (spoon)

With one bite I was transported home to Seattle, to our front yard, to my mom’s strawberry patch.

She planted the seeds when I was a senior in high school. They’ve grown prolifically since then, the leaves a dense carpet. The berries are tiny, thimble-sized, and redder than roses. They’re profusely floral, like perfume in your palms, so fragrant you taste them before you’ve parted your lips. Each bite melts on your tongue and the sweetness probably causes cavities.

They’re the best strawberries I’ve ever had.

One year, I infused some into a jar of bourbon. Another time, I made shortcakes with thick dollops of real cream. But they’re always best as-is, still warm from the sun, by the bowl-full. My dad likes to dip them in black pepper, a preference I found off-putting until I tried it. You can’t actually taste the pepper—like salt on chocolate, it simply enhances the berry itself.

Once I’d settled on red wine strawberries, I added pepper to the panna cottas, without hesitation.

Black Pepper Panna Cotta (closeup)

The grocery store strawberries weren’t as good as my mom’s. Not even close. But they were outrageously better than I expected. The panna cottas were, too.

I was nervous they would stick to their molds, but each panna cotta wobbled right onto the plate. The texture was perfect—-firm enough to hold a shape, yet soft and creamy as pudding. The edges were smooth as marble. I’d originally imagined the pepper sprinkled throughout, and I was disappointed they had settled down instead. But on second glance, I liked the way it looked—-pure white with black flecks crowning the top, like caviar, gently trickling down.

And the berries. Glossy, sweet, and superbly robust. The color contrast was gorgeous. I didn’t regret stirring them into the red wine reduction, even though I usually like to eat delicious fruit as-is.

I’ll save that simple happiness for the next time I’m home.

Black Pepper Panna Cotta (half eaten)

A few notes about this recipe. The pepper wasn’t as spicy as I’d hoped, but the subtlety was lovely. If you want to really taste the pepper, though, add more, maybe even twice as much. I used a vanilla bean, which I think made it better (and prettier,) but you can also use extract. Finally, if you aren’t planning to turn out the panna cottas (just keep them in the molds, wine glasses, teacups, whatever) you could try using a tad less gelatin for an even softer texture.

Black Pepper Panna Cotta
Tweaked from David Lebovitz, who tweaked from Judy Witts
Makes 8 servings

4 cups (1l) heavy cream
1/2 cup (100g) sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, or 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 1/4 tsp finely ground black pepper
2 packets powdered gelatin (about 4 1/2 teaspoons)
6 tablespoons (90ml) cold water

Stir the heavy cream, sugar, black pepper, and vanilla bean (split lengthwise, using both the seeds and the pod) in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer, then immediately remove from heat, cover, and let sit for 30 minutes.

While the flavors infuse, lightly grease eight custard cups with a neutral oil (I used canola). Sprinkle the gelatin onto the cold water in a medium bowl and let sit for 5 – 10 minutes.

After the half an hour is up, remove the vanilla bean pod and gently reheat the mixture.

Pour the warm cream over the gelatin. Stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Pour the panna cotta into the prepared molds and refrigerate until set, 2 – 4 hours.

To unmold the panna cottas, I dipped the molds part-way into a bowl of warm water, then ran a knife around the edge of each cup. Flip onto a plate and gently wiggle the cup until the panna cotta lets go. Serve with red wine strawberries, or whatever you like.

Red Wine Strawberries
Also adapted from David Lebovitz
Makes enough to accompany the panna cottas

1 cup (250ml) red wine
6 tablespoons (100g) sugar
1 to 2 small baskets of strawberries (about 8 ounces, 200g)

Heat the red wine and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat until it thickly bubbles. Let the red reduce into a syrup, until only half of it remains (1/2 cup, 120 ml). Remove from heat and let cool completely.

Toss the strawberries (washed, hulled, and sliced) in the red wine reduction. Let sit for a minute or two, then spoon beside the panna cottas. They would also be incredible on cheesecake or vanilla ice cream.

Estimating Individual Impact on Defensive Efficiency

Earlier this week in @johnschuhmann‘s excellent column The Numbers Game, John looks at how Andre Miller impacts defensive efficiency. This, along with @kpelton‘s note that “the Blazers have been more effective defensively when Joel Przybilla is playing than when Greg Oden is playing” (from Blazersedge) has helped motivate me to look at what estimates we can draw about the impact these players have on defensive efficiency. The goal of this study is to do two things: 1) estimate the impact these players have on defensive efficiency, and 2) quantify the uncertainty we have about these estimates.

Constructing the Model

I have been doing some research to figure out how to best model the number of points teams score and allow on an individual possession, so I will be using that type of model for creating these estimates of an individual’s impact on defensive efficiency. The biggest difference between what I’m doing and adjusted plus/minus is that I consider what happens on each possession rather than what happens over a span of possessions for each combination of players. This means that I can better estimate the individual impact on allowing points to be scored on an individual possession rather than simply estimating the individual impact on the mean number of points allowed per hundred possessions.

There are many different ways to construct this model for estimating individual player impact on defensive efficiency, but I’ve chosen the modeling option I feel most comfortable with:

  • Fitting the model using all NBA possessions, where individual teams, Blazers’ players, home court advantage, number of offensive reserves, and being in the penalty are considered as predictors.

This modeling option controls for things we know to be important like opposing team strength, home court advantage, number of offensive reserves, and being in the penalty. The number of offensive reserves is intended to be a proxy for individual opponent strength. Although that was the intention, it is also true that the number of offensive reserves is correlated with game situation, like blowouts. Thus this is certainly one area of the model that can be improved on in the future.

Examining Andre Miller’s Defense

In The Numbers Game, John first writes about what Andre did with Philadelphia last year, so I’ll start there: what was Andre’s impact on Philadelphia’s defense? To measure this, we need a player to compare him against. Like John, I will compare Andre to Lou Williams.

To do a comparison in terms of efficiency, I must select teammates for these players. In this case, I have chosen the players from Philadelphia’s most used lineup last year: Andre Iguodala, Samuel Dalembert, Thaddeus Young, and Willie Green. Also, these estimates of defensive efficiency come from assuming there are zero opponent reserve players and that the lineup is not in the penalty.

Under these assumptions, the model estimates that this lineup with Andre performs at 0.18 points per hundred possessions worse than with Lou. A 95% confidence interval for this estimate is (-9.4, 9.2). This estimated difference is small, and there is a lot of uncertainty around this estimate. Even after a full season we do not have much confidence in saying either player has a better impact on defensive efficiency in the context of this lineup. Strictly in terms of defensive efficiency, this model suggests we could plausibly get by with either player. Defense is only half of the game, but for our purposes of evaluating defense we wouldn’t prefer one player over the other.

Thus this analysis doesn’t agree with John’s conclusion that “… Miller’s -3.2 differential was aided by the amount of time he spent on the floor next to Iguodala and Thaddeus Young, but Lou Williams’ +5.9 differential last season makes it pretty clear that he’s not the defender that Miller is.” This model suggests that Andre Iguodala and Thaddeus Young were Philadelphia’s best defenders last year, so perhaps this means that John isn’t giving them enough credit for what they’re doing on defense.

Andre Miller versus Steve Blake

Looking at last year is fun, but what we’re most interested in right now is comparing Andre’s defensive impact to the defensive impact of one of his current teammates, Steve Blake. To estimate the difference between Andre’s and Steve’s impact on defensive efficiency, I’ve selected Brandon Roy, Greg Oden, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Martell Webster to be their teammates.

Under these conditions, the model estimates that the lineup with Andre performs 0.05 points per hundred possessions worse than the lineup with Steve Blake. A 95% confidence interval for this difference is (-15.3, 13.8), and this means that similar to Andre versus Lou, the model suggests that we shouldn’t prefer either player in terms of their defensive impact.

Greg Oden versus Joel Przybilla

Although Kevin Pelton pointed out the difference between Greg’s and Joel’s defensive play this year, I want to first look at what conclusion we’d draw about the defensive play of these players at the end of last year. To do this, I’ve selected Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, and Steve Blake to be their teammates.

Under these conditions, the model estimates that the lineup with Greg performs 6.6 points per hundred possessions worse than the lineup with Joel. A 95% confidence interval for this difference is (0.65, 13.1), suggesting that we can be confident that in 2008-09 Joel’s defensive impact with this lineup was better than Greg’s defensive impact with this lineup.

For this season’s estimate I have selected Andre Miller, Bradon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Steve Blake to be their teammates. Under these conditions, the model estimates that the lineup with Greg Oden performs 5.9 points per hundred possessions worse than the lineup with Joel Przybilla.

A 95% confidence interval for this difference is (-7.0, 17.1), and this means that even though we estimate Joel’s defensive impact with this lineup to better than Greg’s impact with this lineup, we need more data before we can confidently make this statement like we could in 2008-09. Because the estimate is practically significant, I’d still prefer Joel over Greg if forced to make a choice strictly in terms of defensive impact.

But…

This model isn’t perfect. The way I control for individual opponent strength could be improved. And even though this type of model has the best of intentions, it will not tell us why players are having the impacts we estimate. It gives us more information than adjusted +/-, such as the impact an individual has on the specific number of points given up on defense, but we can still make use of other statistics for trying to dig into the why. Even these other statistics don’t tell us everything, so it is not surprising to me that coaches prefer video to statistics.

Lastly, this analysis doesn’t exactly clear up any debates Blazers’ fans may be having, like should Andre or Steve be starting, or should Greg or Joel get more playing time? This model is just one way of looking at the data, and defense counts for just half of what teams do to win games. Thus I’ll leave it up to rabid Blazers’ fans to weigh the deficiencies of this model and to figure out which players are better on offense. 🙂

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Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole

Chicken broccoli rice casserole is a full meal all in one easy and delicious dish. Topped with crunchy, buttery crackers and filled with sharp cheddar cheese, this is a flavorful dinner that your family will request again and again.

Casserole dish of chicken broccoli rice casserole with a serving spoon in the corner of the casserole.

This is the time of year when planning dinners gets really hard. 

Maybe it’s because I’m still a little burnt out from all of the holiday cooking, maybe it’s because I’m getting tired of winter produce. Maybe it’s just me.

But when I start to feel like this, casseroles are a good way for me to do a dinner reset. They’re easy, can usually be prepped ahead of time, and almost everybody enjoys them.

If you feel the same way, this chicken broccoli rice casserole is a great one to add to your dinner rotation. With protein, starch, and veggies all in one dish, it’s a one-pan meal that even picky eaters enjoy.

And as a mom, that’s a total win.

(more…)

The post Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole appeared first on My Baking Addiction.

Bacon Gruyere & Tomato Tartlets

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Such a perfect little bite to eat – these little bites of loveliness are just right whether they’re a snack for hungry hoards after school or gracing the table at an afternoon tea.

Just one word of warning from me, do not eat one warm from the cooling rack, you won’t be able to stop at just the one and half will have disappeared before anyone else gets a look in!

Ingredients :

Pastry

225g plain flour

100g butter, cold diced

Pinch of salt

1 egg, medium beaten

1-2 tbsps cold water

Filling

80g sweet tomato relish

200g thick cut bacon (approx. 4 rashers)

50g Gruyere cheese, grated (use a good strong cheddar if you’d prefer)

100ml single cream

1 egg, medium

Salt and pepper

 

Oven Temp:       180c(fan)/200c/Gas Mark 6.

Makes: 12 tartlets

Freezing:  Suitable for freezing for upto 1 month.

Method:

To make the pastry place the flour and cold diced butter in a large mixing bowl or for speed in the bowl of your food processor.

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Rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips  or blitz with the processor until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

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Stir through the pinch of salt and make a well in the centre.

Add the beaten egg and work into the mixture until the pastry begins to come together, adding a little extra water if necessary.

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Knead lightly  until smooth.

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Cover with clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

While the pastry rests prepare the filling.  Grill the bacon and allow to cool.

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Yes I have 5 rashers, the extra one is going on a sandwich for my lunch!

Trim away the fat and dice into small pieces.

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In a jug beat together the single cream and egg and season well with salt and pepper.

Once the pastry has chilled grease the recesses of a 12 hole bun tin.

Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured worksurface to approx. 4mm in thickness.

Cut out 12 rounds using a pastry cutter and use to line each recess of the tin.

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As you cut them out set them on the top of the recess and then carry on cutting out.  As the pastry relaxes it will start to shape into the hollow.

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Once all 12 are cut out, press them very lightly so that they line the recesses neatly.

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Add ½ teaspoon of tomato relish to the base of each pastry case.

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Divide the bacon pieces and grated cheese between each.

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Pour the cream mixture into each case, taking care not to overfill, you just want to surround the fillings.

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Bake in the oven for 20-22 minutes until golden.

Release from the tin and allow to cool on a wire rack.

Serve warm or cold.

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Bacon Gruyere and Tomato Tartlets

Ruth Clemens, Baker Extraordinaire

The post Bacon Gruyere & Tomato Tartlets first appeared on Baking, Recipes and Tutorials – The Pink Whisk.

Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Lately, I’ve been feeling a little lazy. I bake, eat, but never photograph and so I never end up blogging. Ever since I bought a new camera, I can’t stop taking pictures… of walls, random things on the table and of course, food. I don’t usually do progress pics, but I couldn’t help it.

These cookies were inspired from someone at work. Normally, I wouldn’t bake cinnamon oatmeal raisin cookies because I’m not the hugest fan of cinnamon or raisins, but these actually turned out really well. They had crispy edges with a chewy centre and crispy edges that actually stayed crispy for a good period of time. It drives me crazy when my cookies turn uniformly chewy because the best part for me are those crispy edges.

My favourite part, creaming the butter and sugar

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The dry

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I find that oatmeal cookies never spread no matter how much butter is added so I always press them down or else I end up with oatmeal mounds.

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12 minutes later…

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This recipe is really a merge of different recipes until I was happy with the amount of oatmeal, chew and crisp.

Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup + 2 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chocolate chips
10 tbsp butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 335 degrees.

In one bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, mix raisins, chocolate chips and oats.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer beat the butter on medium speed until fluffy. Add the brown sugar and continue beating. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until thoroughly mixed. On low speed, add the flour mixture until just combined. Then add the oats mixture and continue to beat on low until everything is evenly distributed.

Using a medium cookie scoop, divide the dough into 24 portions. Press the dough down about 1 inch thick. Bake for 12 minutes. Allow cookies to cool before transferring on a wired rack

Makes 24 cookies.