Haw Berries & Kumquats

Posts under ‘recipes’

Zao Lajiao (Fermented Chili Pepper Paste)


Nothing says Guizhou to me like zao lajiao (糟辣椒), or fermented chili pepper paste. It exemplifies the best of Guizhou country cooking: homey, simple and bold in flavor. With a few slices of scallions and cloves of garlic, it can transform ordinary ingredients (cabbage! potatoes!) to a beautiful thing of complex spiciness. Zao lajiao has [...]

Tangyuan: White, Black, and Marbled 黑白汤圆


Yuanxiao and tangyuan – glutinous rice balls stuffed with a range of fillings – are a must for the Lantern Festival (Yuanxiao Jie 元宵节) on the 15th of the first lunar month, or the first full moon of the new year. But since my family never gets tired of anything involving glutinous rice, we’ve already [...]

Black sesame yogurt cake 黑芝麻酸奶蛋糕


Recently we’ve started ordering organic yogurt from Green Yard Organic Dairy, based in Yanqing County. Though it’s not as thick and creamy as unsweetened Herun Yogurt ( 和润酸奶), I’ve come to prefer Green Yard because it’s local, organic, and comes in a recyclable  paper carton. I loved Herun, which is also local, but it’s sold [...]

Pumpkin mochi balls with black sesame and red bean paste

pumpkin mochi with red bean paste and black sesame filling

When the ginkgo trees turn golden, when the flower seller has seas of long-tendriled chrysanthemums and the vegetable seller has pumpkins of all shapes and sizes, then we know that fall has arrived. Beijing’s autumn is its most beautiful season, but also its most fleeting. Thinking of autumnal treats back home, Thanksgiving feasts and pumpkin [...]

Purslane Pancakes 马齿苋饼

purslane pancakes-7611

I can clearly remember the first time I ate purslane. I was eight, and the ayi who worked for my family had brought back a bag of purslane from her home province in southern China. She made them into golden crisp purslane bing (饼), or pancakes, and I was instantly smitten: It was somehow decadent, as pancakes were a rare treat, but also very healthful from the succulent crunch of the purslane.

Moving Day Cookies (Ginger-Nut-Butter-Apricot-Oat Snaps!)

Ginger cookies with apricot, almond butter, oats, and spelt

I hate moving. Over my four years in Beijing, I’ve moved four times. The first time I had a few suitcases and moved across the length of the city. The other three times I’ve moved a considerably smaller distance with considerably more stuff. There’s nothing worse than moving the dregs of a flour sack, or [...]

Tomorrow, when the apricots come


Hawberries & Kumquats is overwhelmed with moving house and will be taking a short break. (The complexity of apartment hunting in Beijing could be an entire blog subject.) In the meantime, here are a few tidbits to mull over, and I’ll be back in a week or two.

Pumpkin brioche red bean buns 南瓜布里欧修豆沙包

pumpkin brioche red bean bun - interior

I am quite ready to declare this to be the best brioche dough in the world. As cinnamon rolls, they’re divine. As a tart base, it’s pillowy and sweetly accommodating. In simple brioche form, the essence of the dough shines through: The crumb is light, airy, and moist; fragrantly rich but not at all heavy. And with red bean paste, it elevates the humble little red bean bun to new heights of deliciousness.

Beautiful on the inside: Watermelon radish and purple cabbage slaw

purple cabbage watermelon radish slaw

This colorful salad caught my eye when I was wandering through the small food court above the Niujie Halal Supermarket, in the Hui Muslim neighborhood. From among the bevy of cold dishes and salads, its bright tangle of shredded purple cabbage, watermelon radish, carrots, and cucumbers was particularly inviting and lively.

Later I found myself craving this salad again, and it was as easy to throw together as it is versatile. Unlike a typical cabbage slaw that’s thick with mayonnaise, it’s light, crunchy, and refreshing – just the sort of thing for a summer lunch.

Baking bread in China, and a country sourdough

chad roberston country sourdough crumb

People are always surprised when I tell them that I bake bread in China. It shouldn’t, though, come as a shock, because flour, water and yeast are integral parts of north China cuisine. To me, there’s even more incentive to bake bread while living in China: the challenge is exciting, and the rewards – delicious bread and a new skill – are priceless.

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