Breakfast burritos (well, tacos) for fun and profit

I didn’t really profit in a monetary sense (though I did in a delicious sense), but who says titles need to make sense? I certainly don’t.  Is there a more perfect food? I think probably not. It has all of the delicious things: potatoes, eggs, cheese, and you can eat it all right when you wake up. Or for any meal. Who says eggs can only be breakfast? Let’s ditch that notion along with the one where titles have to make sense.

I’m rambling and giddy because I have 3 boxes of Girl Scout cookies. More on that later.

Get in my mouth.
Get in my mouth.


Breakfast Burritos That Are Actually Tacos
Makes 2 large tacos. For 1 large appetite.

2 or 3 mid-size new potatoes
2 eggs
2 tortillas (corn or small/medium flour)
Handful of shredded cheese (I used cheddar)
1/2 avocado
Handful of cilantro
Salsa (any type, optional)

Action shot. There are way too many potatoes, so I just ate the rest after.
Action shot. There are way too many potatoes, so I just ate the rest after.

Look, guys. This is really easy. It’s not even really a recipe.

Slice potatoes into small cubes. Pan fry until they are crispy/done. (Sometimes they are a little sticky. I find that if I just resist the urge to move them around too much, they stick to the pan much less. I think I got this tip from Mark Bittman, but I can’t find the original source.) Season with salt and pepper.

Also pan fry the 2 eggs. I just scoot the potatoes over and use the same pan. Because it’s the morning, and who has the patience to do more dishes before eating?

Lay the tortillas on top of the hot potatoes (har) / eggs or on the pan, if there’s still room, to warm them while you prepare the rest. (I’m lazy but I also don’t like cold tortillas. What can I say.)

Slice the avocado, chop up cilantro, and shred the cheese.

Assemble! Tortilla, then potato and eggs, then cheese, then avocado and cilantro. Top with salsa. Yum.

Dumpling some dumplings

There’s nothing like sort of butchering the recipe for elaborately made traditional foods to express my complicated relationship with my ethnicity! JK, I just really like dumplings.

Last weekend, I enslaved a number of my friends to fold dumplings for an hour. (I made a huge bowl of filling and bought 252 dumpling skins beforehand.) Then, we gorged ourselves on dumplings, and I sent everyone home with a little bag of frozen leftovers for later. It was quite a success, and now I want to open a Chinese restaurant.

I’ve settled on my favorite vegetarian dumpling filling by combining aspects that I like from recipes and, of course, my mother’s versions. It withstands my somewhat finnicky preferences: mostly traditional ingredients, no super mushroomy mushrooms, no summer squash, not entirely nutritionally devoid, enough flavor to stand on their own, but not enough to overpower a simple sauce. It is not easy to make, unfortunately.

If I were really a rockstar, I’d make my own skin, too. But usually I end up making a small batch with homemade skin and then just buy the rest. Because who has the time.

dumpling flower!
dumpling flower!

Vegetarian Dumpling (Jiaozhi) Filling
Makes enough for about 100 small dumpings

1/2 large napa cabbage
1 package of medium firm tofu
10 to 15 button mushrooms
1 large bunch of Chinese chives (ends up being ~4 cups chopped)
1 small bunch of thin dried mung bean noodles, soaked in water for a few hours
5 large eggs
1 or 2 stalks of scallion/green onion
1 T ginger, minced
1 T garlic, minced
soy sauce
sesame oil
Chinese five spice

Making filling is simple if tedious. The general idea is to chop everything quite small (but not so much that it’s a puree) and combine.

For the napa cabbage, chop into small pieces, then lay in a strainer or steamer bowl and sprinkle with salt. Let it sit for 10 or 15 minutes, then rinse the salt off and squeeze the cabbage to help it release water. This will help keep the dumpling filling from getting too soggy, which makes the dumplings quite difficult to make.

For the tofu, slice into 6 pieces or so and lay out on a few paper towels to let some of the moisture dry out. Leave for 15 minutes or so. (This method for drying out tofu is courtesy Kenji at Serious Eats.) Eventually, you can just crumble the tofu with your hands.

The mushroom and scallions can be diced as normal.

The mung bean noodle/thread is quite difficult to dice, since it sort of flies everywhere once you start chopping. If it’s too firm, boil it for a few minutes to soften it up further, which makes it easier to dice.

Beat the eggs together and scramble them, then break up the scrambled eggs into small pieces.

Combine everything into a large bowl and season to taste with soy sauce, mirin, sesame oil, and Chinese five spice.


Dumpling Wrappers
Guidance from Use Real Butter, makes enough for about 100 small dumplings

4 cups of all-purpose flour
1 cup of warm water
Generous pinch of salt

Combine flour, water, and salt. Knead until smooth. You may need to knead in flour as you go. The dough should be moist but not sticky.

Let dough rest (covered with a damp towel) for at least 15 minutes.

Divide dough into four equal pieces. Loosely roll each piece out into a long, thick spaghetti, 1.5-2 inches in diameter. Break off pieces that are about 1.5 inches in diameter. Roll them into circular wrappers. (No need to make them too thin.)

I actually use the bread machine to make this while I do the filling — just set it on “dough” and then dump the ingredients in, and it’ll knead for you while you’re chopping. Take the dough out as soon as it’s done, because being in the warming chamber will not do it any favors. 

I also always buy some pre-made skins as backup… because rolling out 100 skins is really overwhelming.


To Make the Dumplings
Put a couple teaspoons worth of filling onto each skin and fold into half-moon shapes. I didn’t take any photos of this process I totally forgot. Use Real Butter has some great folding instructions.

To boil, drop dumplings into boiling water. Boil until they float. Be careful not to overfill the pot, or else they will stick. (About one layer of dumplings is enough.)

To panfry (for potstickers) heat generous amount of oil in a nonstick pan. Place dumplings in the pan and fry for a couple minutes, until lightly golden. Add about 1/2 cup of water to the hot pan (be careful) and cook over medium-high heat until the water is boiled off. Reduce heat slightly and fry for another minute until crispy. (I’ve tried this in other pans, and I’ve only gotten it to work in nonstick. They don’t call ’em potstickers for nothing.)

Marcella Hazan’s Broccoli and Pasta Soup

I almost didn’t post this because my photos of it are so gnarly-looking, but then I had a great revelation: fuck it. I can eat gray soup and talk about it on the Internet if I want to.

This soup is like 3,000 times fussier than I usually prefer, by which I mean, you can’t really just throw things into a pot and wait. I know. I want to watch TV on my laptop while I cook, too. It is actually really tasty, though, so, there’s that. It’s satisfying without being creamy and felt somehow very classic to me.

Unappetizing-looking soup on a messy dining table.
Unappetizing-looking soup on a messy dining table. Also, it’s hard to tell, but that’s alphabet pasta.

Marcella Hazan’s Broccoli and Pasta Soup
I did the best I could following The Wednesday Chef, but I ended up changing all kinds of stuff in an effort to save time and dishes. And also to make more soup, because I was hungry.

2 medium bunches of broccoli
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cloves chopped garlic
3 cups broth (I used Better Than Bouillon’s fake chicken flavor)
1/2 cup small, coarse soup pasta (I… used alphabet pasta)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of generously salted water to boil.

Cut the florets off of the stalks. Split particularly large pieces of the stalks and trim particularly tough parts. Place the stalks into the boiling water, wait for the water to come back to boil, and cook for 2 minutes. Then, add the florets, wait for the water to boil again, and cook them together for 1 minute. Theoretically, if you dunk the broccoli underwater when it touches the air, it will brown less, but I didn’t have great luck with that. As you can see, my broccoli puree looked like gray sludge.

While the broccoli is cooking, heat up the oil and garlic in a large pan. Sautee until the garlic turns slightly brown.

Fish the broccoli out of the water with a slotted spoon. (Don’t discard the water.) Add the broccoli florets to the sautee pan and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring regularly.

Dump the cooked stalks into a food processor and pulse for a minute or two. Then, spoon the excess oil from the pan as well as a bit of broccoli water into the processor. Whir it all together until it becomes a smooth puree.

Add the puree and the broth to a large pot and bring to a boil. Then, add the pasta and cook according to package instructions. If you’re using alphabet pasta like me, and the package doesn’t have instructions, just boil for 7-8 minutes. Add broccoli water as needed to thin out the soup.

Add the broccoli florets and boil for 1 minute.

Season the soup with salt, pepper, and grated Parmesan as needed.

I'm leaving you with this grotesque picture of gray broccoli puree. Sorry.
I’m leaving you with this grotesque picture of gray broccoli puree. Sorry.

The people demand more cute.

You guys. Crepes with ice cream. It doesn’t get better than that, does it? Thin pancakes, sweet toppings…

Today, I learned that it does. Behold, the cutest confection I’ve ever compulsively crammed into my mouth.

Oh my God, look at its little hat. I couldn't decide if the chocolate chips were feet or boobs.
Oh my God, look at its little hat.  Also, I couldn’t decide if the chocolate chips were feet or boobs.

This is a “happy face crepe” from Belly Good Cafe & Crepes (sounds vaguely racist, but I swear that’s the official name) in Japantown. The six-year-old girl in me had never been happier than when I first got my grubby hands on this thing. Its little jaunty expression, oh my goodness, it was almost too cute to eat. But then, I mean, obviously, I ate it. It was delicious. Soft crepe, green tea ice cream, red bean paste, and a little whipped cream for good measure. It was as good as it sounds.

While I could have eaten two, the other one is my friend's. Crepe friends being eaten by human friends?
While I could have eaten two, the other one is my friend’s. Crepe friends being eaten by human friends?

Seriously. I want to go all the time, for every meal. They had savory ones, too, so it’s totally fine. I wonder if they’d make a little creature out of canned tuna for me?


Long weekends are for gluttony

What better way to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday than to spend the entire day noshing on the food of my people?

cabbage with a portable fire that burned alarmingly large
cabbage with a portable fire that burned alarmingly large

Such is my devotion to gluttony that I sat on a train for an hour to meet a friend at a Chinese food mecca. We joined a small mob outside of a promising-smelling restaurant. The wait staff didn’t even try to speak English to us, which was both a good sign and mildly terrifying, but thank goodness, my friend’s Mandarin is better than mine.

two flavors of chili sauce on an alarming amount of fish
two flavors of chili sauce on an alarming amount of fish

An alarming amount of food was consumed. I did most of it, because my friend is a miniature person. The steamed fish even came with noodles, because, you know, why not. This is how I want all dishes to be served. (It also came out sort of raw at first, but they took it back and fixed it.)

The shaved ice course had to be skipped because the real reason for trekking out to Fremont was to go join the mob scene at 85 Degrees, a Taiwanese bakery chain that opened its first Bay Area location somewhat recently.

and this actually wasn't even all of it
and this actually wasn’t even all of it

Have you had these decorated buns from an Asian bakery, before? They’re made out of soft, enriched dough and filled with things like sweet cream cheese, pudding, coconut/butter paste… I’m literally drooling. And, yes, in the center, that’s a pizza made out of a croissant. Genius.