The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

help me + oh, Frenchified toast

First off, to exploit my Asian-recipe familiar readers, I need to come up with a few quintessential Chinese recipes that I can make in my "Essentials of Cuisine" class since I'm unfamiliar with cooking Chinese dishes ("unfamiliar" as in, I never do it). My class is 2 hours and 45 minutes long, but we're not going to cook the whole time so the recipe should take 90 or less minutes, which I feel may leave out a lot of food I like. Dumplings would be easy to make if I get the pre-made skins (but that's lame!), and...that's all I can think of.

So. Basically. HELP! Thank you. :)

UPDATED AGAIN (11/7): Thanks for the suggestions so far! I probably should've mentioned that nope, I don't have to pay for ingredients (mwahaha) but I'm already thinking about making some steamed egg cake that a friend made for me earlier this year. I know that's fast, cheap, and easy, although I've never made it before. Besides that, I do have that DUMPLING OBSESSION that I should perhaps indulge in. After looking up recipes, it doesn't seem to take a long time to make the skins (when I made dumplings with my mum, we used pre-made skins 99% of the time). I have a partner so I won't be left alone to destroy the food. Hooray!

As opposed to Saturday's abominable instance of "I'm just gonna stay in my room all day and cut off any fresh supply of oxygen", today I actually went out and, like, did human activities involving making the muscles in my legs contract and waiting in a subway station that smelled faintly of urine and conversing with other humans beings in an environment that was not an IM box.

To celebrate the event of masses of people wooshing by and looking happy even though they secretly wanted to collapse into a vat of pillows (erm, the New York City Marathon), Adam held a "let's eat while all these people remind us how athletically challenged we are" breakfast. I was a little hesitant about going at first because my level of sociability in most cases (even those involving food) is around "amoeba". That's low. However, knowing that Allen was going to be there changed my mind. The way my social tendencies work is that I can be alarmingly, dare I say, BOISTEROUS, around certain people. (Okay, not that boisterous, but I easily forget how loud my voice can get.) In situations where I don't know many people, I'll be the person who sits in the corner and pokes the wall, or something equally pointless.


Annnnd look at them go! Yeah. Crazy people, running miles and stuff. My most vivid memories of running are from middle school. It wasn't the actual running as much as the day after, the morning of sore muscles running the entire length of my body (and other organs I didn't know I had) and trying to find a way to trigger the least pain in these muscles while navigating a four story school. This involved a lot of running down stairs (and into walls) since that was easier than walking slowly.

But enough of my physical education glory days. For your information, the fastest mile I ever ran was around 9 minutes. It'll never get better than that, partially because I'll never try to beat it, other partially because I'd never beat it even if I tried. Another tid bit of Robyn's track record: in 9th grade I once puked after running a lap (or two, I forget) as fast as I could. I had actually been rather fond of sprinting, up until that point. Eh.

breakfast foods
many carby possibilities

Oh, the food. Wow. Trays of Adam's baked French toast (similar to bread pudding) lured me with their warm crusty golden sheen and the possibility of glazing every carb-laden crevice with maple syrup. Bewilderingly, no one had touched the trays or dared to destory their integrity by sampling a piece.

baked French toast pudding thing
yeah, I ate it

Screw that. I cut, I glazed, I consumed. Naturally, it was good stuff. My favorite part were the surprising chunks of cream cheese embedded throughout the French toast. (Thankfully, this wasn't called "French Toast Surprise!" because, really, a lot of things with the word "surprise" in them don't have a very good surprise. If the food deems surprise-able, I will be surprised. Figuring the surprise isn't jello. Or shards of glass.) I ate two good sized chunks over the course of the morning, which is one too many. Oh well. (pats belly)


1 loaf (about 1 pound) dense bread (challah works well and is sweet); 8 ounces cream cheese; 8 eggs; 1.5 Cups half and half; 1/4 Cup maple syrup, 1 stick melted butter; 1 to 2 tsp vanilla extract; cinnamon to taste

  • cut up cream cheese into small pieces and dot all over bread
  • cube 2nd half of bread and layer over cream cheese
  • beat eggs with half/half, maple syrup, melted butter, and vanilla
  • pour over bread in pan
  • push bread down into egg mixture
  • cover and place in refrigerator overnight
  • in morning, preheat oven to 350. sprinkle with cinnamon before baking. bake for 50-60 min
cakey things of mass deliciousness
cakey things

I also ate two of these. Allen is surprised by how much I can eat, but come on...cake? Things like this all go in a separate stomach (the one that makes me look like I'm preggers), a stomach that is sometimes annoyingly insatiable. These cake things (the official name at this point) were SO GOOD! Why? Because! They. Were. They were moist, sticky yellow cakes with bottom" crusts" of chocolate chips, which certainly helped. It was like another surprise! GOOD LORD, WHAT'S NEXT! UNICORNS? (I don't know why "unicorns" would naturally be the next thing in line.)

Okay, that's it as far as "finding unsuspected ingredients in my food" goes. There were also deliciously moist, dense, not-too-sweet mini carrot cakes. I ate one. Yes. ONE. I can do that sometimes. I also ate some of Allen's congee, a food I've always been adverse to until I realized that with the addition of maple syrup (you know, a traditional old-age Chinese practice), you end up with a satisfyingly sweet soup! Coupled with the fried sweet Chinese bread, I ended up with a...sweet soup and oily deep fried sweet carb laden substance to dip into the soup.

I know I appear to be on the road to type II diabetes. While talking to my mum about my penchant for sweets, she said I'm full of yeast and my yeastie buddies crave sugar all the goddamn time.

"What can I do about that?
"Cut out sugar for a while."
"A while? How long is a while?"
"Eight weeks should do it."

End of story. I suppose. Yes, I should cut down the sugar consumption. In times like this, I want to break out the "AT LEAST I'M NOT A DRUGGIE/COFFEE ADDICT/WINO/BOOZE HOUND/SERIAL KILLER/'SOME OTHER VICE' ADDICT" but that doesn't really work.

Soo. Many thanks to Adam for a morning of wheaty face-stuffing and Allen for not ripping the plates of wheat out of my hands.


Kathy / November 7, 2005 2:24 AM

oh neato! I wish I was in nyc to join you guys! Bread pudding and french toast may just be my two most favorite foods in the world - throw in cream cheese and I'm in heaven!
And while we're on the subject of breakfast goodies, maybe you could make yu tiao and serve it with warm dou chaing (sp?) for your class...

santos. / November 7, 2005 10:24 AM

congee, jook. tea eggs. shrimp toast--wait, do you have to pay for all the ingredients? strike that. can you bring in pre-cooked items to make a dish? there's that bon bon chicken/pang pang chi, that's just boiled chicken shredded with a dressing of peanut butter, sesame oil, sugar, soy sauce, and sesame seeds, that's totally simple. just stir-fry one leafy green veggies with lots of garlic, that's pretty atypical.

Wei / November 7, 2005 2:55 PM

Now does this have to be "traditional" or can it be Americanized chinese food? If that's the case, you can easily make say chicken chop-suey or Egg Fu Yung. Both are super easy. So is anything fried rice.. heh. Any stir-fried dishes are easy as well. The sauce is usually the kicker.

Jason Truesdell / November 7, 2005 6:16 PM

I have to say that although I know it theoretically exists, I never ate fried rice in a restaurant in China, Hong Kong or Taiwan. I don't think I even noticed it on a menu except in a hotel or tourist spot.

Dumplings are probably faster than you think in a classroom context, as long as you can get some audience participation. Almost anything can be a filling (I have some on a recent blog entry), so a simple demonstration of technique should be helpful. Massage watery vegetables or mushrooms with a bit of salt, then rinse, to help shrink the vegetables before chopping them up to make your filling. I don't usually make the skins either but it's not very difficult; it just takes time and some consistency. If your skin texture is not too dry, the flavor is usually better and less enhanced than the premade type.

I think you can show off the flexibility of Chinese cuisine. I can think of at least 3 very different ways to make green onion pancakes, for example: one is the restaurant-style almost laminated dough with lard, sprinkles of salt, and scallions; these are usually deep fried. One is essentially a noodle (maybe with a knife tip of baking powder) with a thin coating of fat (sesame oil is good) wrapped around spring onions and maybe some coarse salt lengthwise, then rolled up in a spiral and smashed flat (carefully) by hand or the gentle application of a rolling pin. These are then cooked in a little oil on a frying pan and aren't very greasy. Another is more like the Korean style pajeon, and I ate them in Taiwan from a street vendor: a slightly salted pancake-like batter sans sugar and no baking powder, made with chopped scallions, and generally cooked in way too much oil. When finished cooking, add slightly set seasoned scrambled eggs and roll up for an especially heart-stopping treat.

Simple dishes like bok choy and shiitake (dongu) mushrooms are always nice. Almost everyone likes gai lan (chinese broccoli) with oyster sauce, or almost anything cooked with a bit of smashed, fermented black beans and garlic works well for me.

Allen Wong / November 10, 2005 8:50 AM

My suggestion: jongzi, CUZ I HART IT SO. Tang/Tong Yuen are funky and quintissentially Chinese as well. Then again, it's water and flour rolled into balls. It costs two dollars to make a batch for a family and a half. :P YOu can flavor 'em too. Can you say taro? :3

"Things like this all go in a separate stomach (the one that makes me look like I'm preggers)" Oh boy. That was a riot.


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