Thursday, January 31, 2013

Bao, Wow! Vegetarian Dim Sum Bao

The labbits are pleased to present to you their special guest Chef Jimmy. He comes to the Green Mountain Warren from Toronto's Monster Factory and will be sharing a few dishes this week. Here's a little bit about Jimmy, courtesy of Monster Factory:

The labbits have faith that Chef Jimmy will come up with something delicious. For his first day at the warren, he made vegetarian dim sum bao, which is a steamed dumpling shaped bread, stuffed with a variety of fillings. One of the most popular bao is char siu bao, a bun filled with BBQ pork. Jimmy often ducks out of the Toronto Monster Factory headquarters and up Spadina Ave for a quick nibble of char siu bao. Knowing the labbits are vegetarian, he decided to raid the labbit pantry and put together a labbit version. He ended up using bean sprouts, shiitake mushrooms, water chestnuts and Lightlife Gimme Lean vegetable protein. It pan fries and crumbles just like ground meat. Then he threw in some soy sauce, hoisin sauce, white pepper, salt, and ginger, and stuffed the bao.

You can add make vegetarian filling with tempeh, diced carrot, scallions, BBQ sauce, Sriracha sauce, cabbage, bok choy...there are lots of savoury options! Embrace Jimmy's free spirit and use what's in your fridge. No amounts for the filling are provided below, just be sure you have at least a full cup and a half to 2 cups of filling for 8 bao.

And, you know what? Steamed bao without any filling is pretty tasty, too! Just ball up the dough and steam. You can print out the recipe below by clicking here.

Vegetarian Dim Sum Bao
Bao Ingredients:
1 package dry yeast
2 Tbsp sugar
3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp warm water (about 120°F - 130°F)
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp sesame oil

Filling Ingredients:
Vegetable protein, such as Lightlife Gimme Lean Sausage
Water chestnuts
Bean sprouts
Shiitake mushroom
Ground ginger or fresh ginger, finely chopped
White pepper
Low sodium soy sauce
Sesame oil
Hoisin sauce

Note: No exact amounts for the filling were provided, but you can choose whatever savoury fillings you'd like. Just be sure that everything is finely chopped, and that you have about 1.5 to 2 cups of filling "stuff" for your 8 bao. 

You'll need:
Wax paper, cut into 3"x3" squares
Steamer basket


In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Add the flour and sesame oil. With clean hands, knead the dough until smooth, about 10 minutes. The dough will be very sticky! Add up to 4 more tablespoons of flour if needed.

Cover bowl with a cloth and set in a warm spot in the kitchen. Let dough rest for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare your filling. Wash and finely chop the vegetables. In a small skillet over medium heat, heat a small amount of sesame oil - just enough to coat the skillet. Pan fry the vegetable protein. Add the vegetables and cook until the mushrooms soften. Remove from heat. Add salt, pepper, soy sauce and other desired condiments to taste. (You don't need much!) Set aside.


Remove the cloth from the bowl. Roll your dough into a long cylinder and divide the dough into 8. With your hands, flatten the divided dough into round disks. Spoon 2 heaping Tbsp of filling into the center of the bao - yes, it will look very full! Bring up the sides, squish together at the top and give it a little twist to seal.

Top: before steaming Bottom: apres steam!

Place bao on a square of wax paper and set in a steamer basket, making sure you leave room for these bad bao to expand, because expand they will!

Cover your pot/steamer basket and steam for 10 - 15 minutes. Carefully remove bao from steamer, and enjoy, remembering to remove wax paper before nomming away!

Yields: 8 very big bao!!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Banana Oatmeal Pancakes

For breakfast this morning Pipkin and his little brother Pipsqueak whipped up this quick and easy batch of pancakes. These pancakes are made from scratch with staples from your pantry: rolled oats, flour, salt and baking soda. The addition of the bananas makes these pancakes really moist and surprisingly fluffy! This is also tasty with the addition of cocoa powder, but you can omit it and it will still be delicious.

These are fancy enough for a weekend brunch with friends, but why confine yourself to breakfast and brunch? These are perfect for dinner, too. Pancakes, anytime!

You can print the recipe by clicking here.

Banana Oatmeal Pancakes

1 1/2 cups almond milk
1 cup rolled oats
2 bananas, roughly chopped
3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa (optional)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp baking powder

Maple Syrup
Bananas, sliced
Confectioners' sugar


In a food processor, puree the almond milk and rolled oats until smooth.

Add bananas, flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder, and pulse a few seconds more. (Don't overmix the batter!) Let batter rest for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Mist with cooking spray or grease lightly with butter. Reduce heat to medium-low and add 1/4 cup scoops of batter onto the skillet. Cook until air bubbles appear and the underside is golden brown, about 4-5 minutes. Flip and cook another 4-5 minutes.

Top with sliced bananas, blueberries, confectioners' sugar or maple syrup.


Yields: One dozen pancakes

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

DIY: Labbit Cake Pops

In the past the labbits have made a labbit shaped carrot cake, snow labbits (a couple times, here and here), labbit butt seems the labbits are really into...themselves. This past weekend, Ted got ambitious and decided to try making labbit cake pops. What's a cake pop? It's a small cake on a stick, and they're oh so cute! Ted learned a lot from his first attempt at making cake pops, most important is that you should get the hang of making simple cake pops before getting into something elaborate like a shaped labbit. His labbits came out a bit lumpier than he would have liked, and if he had practiced first, maybe these guys would have come out nice enough to give away as gifts. (Hmmm, or did he do it on purpose so he could keep them all to himself? Nom nom nom!)

You might want to go with box cake and store bought frosting because if you are experimenting for the first time, you might not want to invest the time and money making your own cake and frosting from scratch. If you're quite confident or have all day, then hey, go for cake from scratch!

Ted was disappointed in the edible ink pens he bought from Wilton. They didn't write well at all! Bakerella likes to use Americolor brand edible ink pens, so Ted will have to try making cake pops again using those pens. Looking at Bakerella's cake pops, the ink goes on so deep and rich and smooth, just like drawing with a Sharpie! (Okay, so Bakerella is THE expert on cake pops and she's been doing it for years, but still, Ted's going to blame at least some of this on not having the right tools.)

Look for Americolor Edible Ink Pens. These two options did not work well.

Well, enough complaining about how they didn't come out perfect, they're still pretty cute and they're quite tasty! If you give these a try, take a photo and share it with the labbits on their facebook page. You can print out a text version of the recipe (without all the cute, adorable pictures, sigh) here. Here's how Ted (and Pipkin's little brother Pipsqueak) made them:

Happy Labbit & Smorkin' Labbit Cake Pops

Some of the supplies you'll need. Note: those treat bags are too small, you'll need bigger ones.

You'll need a 9"x13" prepared cake, cooled, and some cake frosting.

What you'll need:
1 9"x13"cake, baked and cooled, any flavor (Ted made dark chocolate)
Cake Frosting, any flavor (Ted used dark chocolate)
6" Candy sticks (Ted found these in the cake decorating section of a craft store)
Candy melts, white
Mini marshmallows
Raw almonds, unsalted
Raw peanuts, unsalted or lightly salted
Chocolate cake/cookie icing
Icing tip (Ted used Wilton tip #14)
Box of candy cigarettes
Edible Cake Decorating Pen (try Americolor brand. The Wilton brand pens were terrible)
Cellophane treat bags
Twine, twist ties, or ribbon
Block of foam and saran wrap


In a food processor, crumble the prepared cake until you get fine crumbs.

From this... this.

Clean those paws, it's time to mush some cake! Place the crumbs in a large bowl and add in frosting, a little at a time, and mix into your crumbled cake. You want a texture that will form cake balls, but isn't too wet and sticky. It should still be able to crumble. Ted started with 1/4 cup of frosting, and then added another 1/8 cup. Play around with the amount until you get a texture that holds together but is moldable. Working with clean paws (or hands, as the case may be) allows you to get a sense of whether the dough will hold together or not.

Pipsqueak is our muse. Try to roll your labbit bodies smoother than Ted has done.

Use a cookie scoop or ice cream scoop to measure out your dough, and roll the cake mixture into an oval shape with your clean paws for the labbit body. Set aside on a cookie sheet.

Pipsqueak models the nutty features of the labbit cake pop.
Here's what the cake pop looks like before dipping.
For the ears, gently push an almond into the labbit body. Repeat, for the second ear. For labbit feet, gently push a peanut into the bottom of the labbit body. Repeat for each foot. When you dip these labbits into the candy melts, you'll be dipping them upside down. This means you'll want to reinforce the almond ears so they don't fall into the hot candy melt.

Melt a small amount of candy melts according to the directions on the package. You can melt them in the microwave or in a double boiler.  Dip the end of the almond into the candy melt, then insert into the hole you made in the body. It's like gluing the ear into place!

Doddy Blue took one look and said it looks like a cold, brutal, medieval death sentence.
Next, take your lollipop sticks, dip the ends into the candy melts, and gently insert them into the labbit bodies, about 2/3 of the way through. Again, the candy melts act as a glue for the lolly sticks. Stand the cake pops on a foam block wrapped in saran wrap, and pop the tray into the refrigerator to firm up for about 60 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the rest of your ingredients.

Snap the candy cigarettes into 1" pieces. These will be the smorks. Cut the mini marshmallows in half. These will be labbit tails. Melt the remaining candy melts in a double boiler or in the microwave. Pour the melted icing into a bowl that will allow your pop to be fully submerged while dipped, at least 2" deep.

Gently tap off excess candy melt.

Carefully dip each cake pop fully into the candy melts, including a bit of the stick. Gently spin or tap the cake pop to allow excess candy melt to drip off. While still wet, stick on a half mini marshmallow for a tail.

For a smorkin' labbit, dip the end of the candy cigarette into the labbit's face low and to the side. Remove the candy cigarette, dip, then reinsert the candy cigarette into the labbit and add the marshmallow tail. Stand the dipped cake pop into the foam tray. Repeat for all labbits. Pop the tray once more into the refrigerator and leave them to set.

Once they've set, you can draw on the eyes, stubble and buttholes with your edible ink pen. Pipsqueak couldn't get the Wilton pens to write very well, so Ted hopped out and got him some black gel icing. Pipsqueak dipped a toothpick into the icing and drew on the eyes, stubble and buttholes. Don't forget the signature Kozik K for the smorkin' labbits!

For mustaches, attach an icing tip to your tube of cake frosting or your piping bag. Draw on a mustache, and allow to set.

If you're giving these away, you can wrap each in a cellophane bag and secure with a bit of ribbon or a twist tie. Store in an airtight container in a single layer. ENJOY!!

Yield: One 9"x13" cake will make about 20 1.5" labbit cake pops. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Winner, Winner

Chicken dinner!


And you thought labbits were vegetarian. The real question is, are they cannibalistic?

What do you think?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Little Birdies Told Me...


"Ev'ryone knows labbits can't keep secrets. 'Ow do we know 'e ain't gonna talk?"
"Don't worry mate. I gots this."

"I'll make sure 'e won't say a fing."

"No worries now, mate."

"'E ain't sayin' nuffin."

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Snow Labbits

It was a bitterly chilly day today, and all of the labbits at the Green Mountain warren were hunkered down inside, baking cookies and cakes and eating and sleeping. Only Clover dared venture outside, and even she stayed close to this plant to stay out of the wind. But it got lonely and chilly just sitting there, so Clover decided to make some company for herself.

Temperatures in southern Vermont have been up and down, so the snow was wet enough for making a snowlabbit. Just a little rolling and shaping...

...looking pretty good. Now a little nip and tuck on the sides for a leaner, sleeker companion. He's missing something though.

Ah, that's better. He's looking quite handsome now. Is it getting warmer out here? Clover's ditched the toque.

The raisins for eyes are just perfect. Don't they make quite the pair? Now they can snuggle together to stay warm in the cold.

"Pssst. Don't say anything to Captain Holly, okay?"