Oct 29, 2021

Lemon Crumb Muffins (Recipe Makes About 10)

I have to admit that when I first having the thought of making lemon crumb muffins, "it seems troublesome," I murmured. There're the main muffin part, the crumbs, and the glaze I have to worry about. So much components just for a muffin. Well, I was wrong.

Lemon crumb muffins

It sure seemed like a lot of work to do. However, once I prepped all the ingredients beforehand, putting together all the parts, the actual baking was like a no-brainer. Compared to making layer cakes or crepe cakes, this lemon crumb muffin recipe, easy-peasy.

Lemon crumb muffins -

Lemon crumb muffins

Ingredients (about 10 medium muffins)?

Main part - dry ingredients:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Main part - wet ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 2/3 cup or 150 grams melted unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2/3 tablespoon lemon juice


  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/12 cup or 20 grams cold unsalted butter


  • 1/6 cup granulated sugar
  • Almost 2 tablespoons lemon juice


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 175 degrees Celsius. Grease or line the muffin tin with muffin cups. If greasing the tin, since we're going to use some melted butter later for the main muffin part, go ahead and warm up the butter first in the oven. Using a wee bit to grease the tin won't alter the final result.

Prepare two large containers, one sift in all the ingredients under the "main part - dry ingredients" section. 

Dry ingredients for lemon crumb muffins

Also mix in all the ingredients under the "main part - wet ingredients" with the other container. 

Wet ingredients for lemon crumb muffins

Add the "dry" part to the "wet" bowl in two batches. Mix before adding the second batch. Eventually mix everything till blended.

Adding dry ingredients to the wet ingredients for lemon crumb muffins

Prepare the third bowl, but first cut the cold butter into small cubes. To the bowl, add in all the ingredients listed under the "crumbs." 

Ingredients for making the crumbs

Use a fork to mix these ingredients till it starts to become crumb-like consistency.

The crumbs for lemon crumb muffins

Pour the main dry and wet mixed batter to the muffin tin, filled up to 80% full. You might have to do it all over again if need to bake the second batch. 

Top each muffin batter with some "crumbs" over.

Adding the crumbs to muffin batter

Into the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or run a toothpick text. Insert a toothpick to the center of the muffin. If it comes out clean without any uncooked batter sticking to it, then the muffins are ready. Remove the muffins from heat and wait till the temperature drops a little to handle by hand. 

Fresh from the oven muffins

Set a wire rack with large baking sheet on the bottom. Once muffins cooled down, take them out and set on wire rack.

Adding glaze to lemon crumb muffins

Take a small bowl and whisk in ingredients listed under the "glaze" section. Drizzle that over semi-warmed muffins. The baking sheet on the bottom will help catching any sugary drippings. 

Lemon crumb muffins

I'd like to eat it while the muffins are still kind of warm, but it's been proven, even after few days under room temperature, they're just as good with addicting grainy glaze intact. How can I be so sure? Well, all 10 muffins were gone in like three days (note that there're only me and Mister in the household). 

Definitely worth the effort making these addicting and lemony muffins.


Extended reading:

Oct 23, 2021

Sun-Dried Cauliflower and Pork Belly Stew 白花椰菜干滷肉

Last time I made a shredded pork stir-fry dish with sun-dried cauliflower. This time around, an even more traditional route, sun-dried cauliflower is going to be used in a pork belly stew.

Sun-dried cauliflower and pork belly stew 白花椰菜干滷肉 - 

Sun-dried cauliflower and pork belly stew


  • 1 1/2 loosely packed cups sun-dried cauliflower
  • 385 grams pork belly
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2 stalks scallion
  • 2 red chilies
  • 2 slices ginger
  • 1 tablespoon preferred neutral cooking oil
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup Chinese rice cooking wine
  • 3 crystal sugar 


Soak the sun-dried cauliflower in room temperature water for 30 minutes. Once done, drain and set aside for later use.

Soaking sun-dried cauliflower

Peel the garlic cloves. Destem and slice diagonally for the red chilies. Scrape off the skin and slice the ginger, about 1.5 mm thickness. Destem and section the scallion.

Prepping the Chinese aromatics

Cut the pork belly into chunks. If using good quality pork, like the kind without that sticky smell, go ahead with the regular cooking process. However, if unsure, you can bring a pot of water to a boil and quickly cook the pork chunks till some grayish foamy bits start to float on the surface. Drain and remove the foamy bits then set the pork aside for stew later on.

Prepare a clay pot if possible, otherwise a good size cookware. Drizzle about 1 tablespoon of oil and turn to medium high heat. Once warmed up, add in pork chunks and sear till slightly colored on both sides.

Searing chunky pork belly

Add in garlic, chilies, scallion and ginger slices. Give it a quick mix and sear till the garlic cloves turn slightly browned, but not burnt.

Searing pork belly with Chinese aromatics

Pour in 1 1/2 cups of water along with 1/2 cup of soy sauce, and 1/3 cup of Chinese rice cooking wine. Also transfer drained cauliflower over.

Sun-dried cauliflower and pork belly stew in the process

Bring the whole thing to a boil then lower the heat to keep it slightly bubbling on the surface. Cover with a lid and let it stew for about 40 minutes. 

Half way through Taiwanese pork belly and sun-dried cauliflower stew

After 40 minutes, remove the lid and add few pieces of crystal sugar. Continue to stew till the pork reaches your desire texture.

Taiwanese pork belly stew with sun-dried cauliflower

For myself, this time I'd like to stew it all the way till almost no more sauce present, but the pork still remain moist and tender. The entire stew time took close to an hour.

Taiwanese sun-dried cauliflower and pork belly stew

Just like my earlier recipe using sun-dried cauliflower. Fresh cauliflower can be quite delicate and break apart easily. But after sun-drying process, the texture became somewhat sturdy and doesn't fall apart at all even used in a stew. The texture is still slightly chewy with concentrated earthy aroma.

You can serve this stew with some steamed rice, or use as a base for Chinese dry noodles. In the case for noodles, perhaps add more black vinegar, soy sauce, or chili sauce to bring the flavor up a notch. 

Extended reading:

Oct 17, 2021

Shiso Tomato Okra and Chicken Cold Dish

It's a rather light but refreshing cold dish thanks to shiso leaves. For heavier taste, you can always incorporate grated garlic or grated ginger for that extra kick of aroma. I actually served it with spicy curry, in case Mister at home can't take on the heat any longer and need a brush of cold soothing dish to eat along with.

Shiso tomato okra and chicken cold dish -

Shiso Tomato Okra and Chicken Cold Dish


  • 10 shiso leaves
  • 8 to 10 okra
  • 10 chicken tenders
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 1 pack white beech mushroom
  • 1 tablespoon roasted white sesame seeds
  • 4 tablespoons triple-condensed tsuyu
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon mirin


Julienne then fine chop the shiso leaves. Dice the tomatoes. Remove the tougher bottom of the white beech mushroom. Remove tendons from the chicken tenders.

Prepare a medium small pot of water and bring to a boil. Transfer the okra over and cook for about a minute. Drain and set aside till cool enough to handle by hand. Or you can dip the okra in icy cold water for a bit then drain out the liquid.

Cook okra first

Fill up the water and bring to a boil again. Cook the mushroom for about a minute. Drain and set aside till cool enough to handle by hand, or go with the dip in icy cold water method.

Lastly, fill up the water again and bring to a boil. This time, cook the chicken tenders till fully cooked-through. Drain and wait till the meat cools down.

Destem and slice the okra. Chop the mushroom into smaller pieces. Cut the chicken into smaller chunks.

Transfer the okra, mushroom, chicken, tomatoes, and shiso to a big bowl. 

Shiso tomato okra and chicken chunks

Add in 4 tablespoons of Japanese tsuyu, 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon of mirin. Mix till blended. Taste and see if need more seasonings, or add extra grated garlic or ginger if preferred.

Store in the fridge for about an hour before serving, but of course you can serve under semi-cool room temperature also. Transfer to serving dish and sprinkle some toasted white sesame seeds on top.

Shiso tomato okra and chicken cold dish

You don't necessarily need to boil the okra, but if not doing so, remember to rub the okra with some salt for a smoother bite. Rinse off the salt and pat dry before slicing the okra. 

You can also serve this dish with an raw egg yolk in the middle. Simply break the yolk and mix together with all the ingredients for a fuller bite. However, if raw yolk is involved, make sure to finish it as soon as possible and don't put the dish back to the fridge. Only add the yolk for the portion that can be consumed right away. 

Other cold side dish recipes:

Oct 11, 2021

Garlic Shrimp Pasta Bake (with Mozzarella, Cheddar, and Provolone)

The fact is, I was going to make it into a much fancier "seafood" pasta bake, but eventually shied away the hefty price tags. Besides shrimps, my original list of ingredients including scallops and jumbo lump crab meat, I was too naive.

The cost of adding scallops and crab meat can easily top the price for this dish's all other ingredients combined, and way more. Trying to be reasonable when doing my grocery shopping, plus I was only making a regular family meal, not like celebrating or a date dinner. So I gave in. I'll settle with double the originally planned portion for the shrimps instead. That will do.

Garlic shrimp pasta bake with Mozzarella, Cheddar, and Provolone - 

Garlic shrimp pasta bake

Ingredients (about 6 portions)?

  • 300 grams peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 1 package/500 grams penne pasta
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 small bundle fennel leaves
  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 1/2 cups mixed shredded cheese (must have Mozzarella in it)
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Some salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 small bundle parsley


Peel and chop the garlic cloves. Dice the tomatoes, saving the seeds and pulp also. Peel and devein the shrimp. Juice half the lemon, we need about 1 to 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Finely chop the parsley, flat leaf parsley preferred, but if unavailable, curly variety works too. Chop the fennel leaves too, just the leafy part, not going to use the bulb this time.

Prepare a medium large baking dish. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit/175 degrees Celsius.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add some salt to the water. Cook the pasta till almost al dente, like still a bit undercooked. Once ready, drain and set aside.

Cooked and drained penne pasta

Prepare a large pan or pot. Add 1 tablespoon of butter along with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, turn to medium high heat. Add in garlic and cook till aromatic, but not burnt.

Add in shrimps and most of the chopped parsley, only save some for garnish in the end. Also add in all the chopped fennel leaves. Give it a quick stir-fry. Cook till the shrimp just about cooked through. Pick out everything and set aside for later use.

Shrimp with chopped parsley and fennel leaves

Still using the same pan or pot, add 2 more tablespoons of butter. This time switch to medium heat. Once melted, add 2 tablespoons of flour and whisk till combined and starts turning into golden crumbs. 

Making a roux for garlic shrimp pasta bake

Pour in chicken stock first, whisk till blended. 

Making a roux and whisking with chicken stock

Pour in milk, whisk till combined.

Transfer diced tomatoes along with 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of black pepper. Bring the whole thing to a simmer, don't let it starts to boil.

Adding chopped tomatoes to white sauce

Add in about 2/3 of the shredded cheese mix, mine consist of Mozzarella, Cheddar, and Provolone. Wait till slightly melted.

Adding shredded cheese mix to white sauce

Pour in cooked pasta and give it a few tosses. Transfer the shrimp back and mix till combined. Taste and see if need more salt here. It varies depending on the cheese used. So adjust the flavor accordingly.

Scoop the pasta to the baking dish. Top with remaining cheese mix.

Adding cheese mix to garlic shrimp pasta bake

Into the oven for about 8 minutes, plus or minus 2 minutes. Just keep an close eye to it, the pasta is ready when the top turns slightly browned or golden.

Remove from heat and garnish with the chopped parsley we saved earlier.

Garlic shrimp pasta bake

Still happy belly without the scallops and crab meat, perhaps saving these two for a date night in the future. 

Garlic shrimp pasta bake

This leads to my memory, when I was back in CA, the price for scallops was at least acceptable. And these were big scallops that can't be tackled easily in one mouthful. If I'm going to find comparable scallops in Taiwan...I think I'll just stand there and gag at the price tags.

Other pasta recipes:

Oct 5, 2021

Three Cup Chicken Fried Rice 三杯雞炒飯

Three cup chicken, if you haven't really heard of it, is basically a Chinese/Taiwanese dish made with one cup of soy sauce, 1 cup of Chinese rice cooking wine, and 1 cup of sesame oil. Usually ginger, garlics, and Chinese basil are also involved in bringing up extra aromatics.

Three cup chicken fried rice

You don't have to strictly follow the proportion of the seasonings, the idea of "three cup" simply implies a general rule for making three cup dishes. Depending on your preference, sometimes people like to tone down the amount of sesame oil used. 

This time, instead of three cup chicken alone, I'm going to give it a little twist and turn the classic flavor into fried rice.

Three cup chicken fried rice 三杯雞炒飯 -

Three cup chicken fried rice

Ingredients (about 4 portions)?

  • 570 grams, about 1.25 lbs dark meat chicken (boneless, skin-on preferred)
  • 1 chunk old ginger
  • 4 to 5 garlic cloves
  • 50 grams or 1 loosely packed cup chopped Chinese basil
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 1/2 rice measuring cups brown rice
  • 2 tablespoons black sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or other preferred cooking oil
  • Some red chili sauce (optional)


  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons Chinese rice cooking wine
  • 1 tablespoon black sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar


Precook 2 1/2 rice measuring cups of brown rice. You can use white rice instead, just remember to use less water than usual when cooking the rice. Once ready, fluff the rice and set aside. Leftover rice works too.

Cut the chicken into large bite size pieces. Massage and marinate the chicken with all the ingredients listed under the "marinade" section. Simply let it marinate while prepping other ingredients.

Marinating boneless skin-on chicken

Pick out the Chinese basil leaves and give it a fine chop. Beat 4 eggs. Add in chopped Chinese basil leaves and beat again till evenly blended.

Beaten eggs with chopped Chinese basil leaves

Peel and chop the garlic cloves. Scrape the skin and slice the old ginger, about 1 to 1.5 mm thickness.

Use a non-stick pan or a wok, drizzle 2 tablespoons of cooking oil, not the black sesame oil, to the pan and turn to medium high heat. Once warmed up, pour in beaten egg and make scrambled egg there. You can let the beaten egg set for a bit before stirring it. Scoop out the eggs for later use.

Scrambled eggs with Chinese basil

Still using the same pan, this time drizzle 2 tablespoons of black sesame oil over and continue with medium high heat. Add in ginger and sear till slightly colored. 

Add in garlic and chicken along with its marinade. Give it a quick mix. Cook till no more extra juice present, like almost dried up.

Searing boneless dark meat chicken

Mix in rice in two batches. Make sure each grains are coated with the seasonings first before adding the second batch. Once well blended, mix in scrambled eggs. Mix and give it a taste, see if need more soy sauce or other seasonings.

Plate and serve with some chili sauce on top.

Three cup chicken fried rice

How about fancier version of three cup chicken fried rice? Try frying up some Chinese basil leaves till crispy, like the ones you sometimes get from a Taiwanese crispy chicken place. Garnish the leaves on top of the rice. It'll definitely provide more depth, both presentation and flavor-wise. 

Other fried rice recipes: