Tag Archives: thirsty for tea

the ugly dumpling + steamed dumplings two ways from thirsty for tea

MMP-5871_UgDu_COV_MKThe Ugly Dumpling (April 2016), story by Stephanie Campisi, illustrated by Shahar Kober.

I’m a big fan of “The Ugly Duckling” because it’s a story of feeling less-than because of how others treat you and then finding out you’re pretty special and they were wrong all along.

I’m also a big fan of dumplings (and steamed buns!), especially having grown up in Singapore and Hong Kong.


So this picture book is a perfect literary and culinary combination!


(click image(s) to enlarge)


Setting: Golden Swan, a dim sum restaurant. Of course!—because that’s where dumplings live! (And nodding to the original tale in the eatery’s name is pretty smooth.)

Ingredients: a lonely, misunderstood dumpling and the cockroach who befriends it. (Yeah, this is one classy cockroach, another unexpected element to admire.)

Favorite garnish: the expressions on the main character’s and other steamed buns’ faces.

Flavor: clever, funny, and lively writing with undertones of deeper meaning.

Yelp review: a story about seeing past appearances that will have you coming back for seconds.






Cockroach accepts the ugly dumpling and shows it beautiful things in the world of a restaurant kitchen. One of those things is even a bamboo steamer with its own kind. But it turns out cockroaches are pretty misunderstood too. (Big time!) And in return for the cockroach’s welcome and kindness, the dumpling offers the same, forsaking sameness for authenticity. And that is the beginning of a beautiful, unusual, boundless friendship.


Big thanks to Mighty Media Press for images!





And now, for the main course, courtesy of my food-genius friend Bonnie of Thirsty For Tea. I feel so lucky she’s collaborating with me again! Her recipe is perfect for Chinese New Year on February 8th (or any day of any month!) and combines both facets of dumpling’s journey.


Bonnie will be your chef and server:

Steamed Chinese Pork & Napa Dumplings, 2 Ways

Makes 30 mini buns or dumplings.

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1 lb. ground pork

5 Napa cabbage leaves, minced, tossed with 1 tsp of salt, then rinsed and squeezed dry

2 green onions, sliced thin

3 Tbsp oyster sauce

2 Tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp sesame oil

1/2 Tbsp grated ginger

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp white pepper


Use a 1/2 portion of this Steamed Bun Dough recipe (divided into 20 pieces to create 20 dumplings) and/or store-bought wrappers.


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mixing bowl

Tbsp measure

work surface

bamboo steamer

wok with slightly larger diameter than steamer OR a stockpot with exactly the same diameter as the steamer

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1. Make the Filling. Combine all the filling ingredients together in a mixing bowl.

2. Fill the Wrappers. For Buns: If you are using the Steamed Bun Dough recipe, fill each dough portion with 1 Tbsp of the filling according the directions in this post. After filling the buns, place them in the steamer. For Dumplings: If using store-bought wrappers, fill each skin with 1 Tbsp of the filling, seal opposite edges of the wrapper with water, then place them upright in the steamer.

3. Steam Away! Fill the wok or stockpot with 3-4″ of water. Set water on high heat and let it come to a full rolling boil. Place the steamers in/on top of the wok/stockpot and cook the dumplings for 10 minutes on over high heat.

4. Sip, Eat, Read, & Enjoy! 

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Check out the post at Thirsty For Tea for more! Thank you, Bonnie, for sharing your five-star literary/culinary creation with us! 




You might want to check out my last collaboration with Bonnie on Please, Mr. Panda, too!












fred + milky matcha rice candy lollipops from thirsty for tea

1396304_origFred by Kaila Eunhye Seo (2015).


Like Shaun Tan’s The Lost Thing, this is a book about growing up and losing something magical. But it’s also about the possibility of regaining that magic. Because of a young girl. Because of a lollipop.


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Fred lives in a small town where he is “quite different from everyone else.” You know it from the illustrations. He carries a green lollipop. He’s in color (those black and red stripes). He also sees furry, monstery creatures. They’re his friends.


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Being different (and sometimes strange) doesn’t bother Fred. He’s too busy being with those monster-buddies.


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But then Fred goes to school. He makes new friends. He forgets the furry, monstery ones from his childhood. He has a routine. He isn’t different or strange anymore. Sometimes he feels alone though and we know why because we can still see Fred’s old friends, though now they’re black and white like his surroundings.


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And then one day a girl shows up, holding a lollipop the way he used to. She sees Fred’s friends. She reminds him of what he’s lost. But of what’s also still there. Waiting.

This is a wonderful book about staying connected to your imagination and never outgrowing lollipops and friendly monsters and magic.


Big thanks to Peter Pauper Press for images!





In the spirit of Halloween and nourishing our childlike imaginations, I asked my dear and uber-creative friend Bonnie at Thirsty for Tea to whip up some lollipops like Fred’s. And she did!

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In her signature style, they match Fred’s lollipop beautifully. Plus, they’re made from tea. Of course! Bonnie’s calling this recipe milky matcha rice candy, which can also be coiled into lollipops if you like. (I like!)

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These treats look like the perfect combination of sweet and creamy with the earthiness of matcha green tea. That vibrant green!

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Head over to Bonnie’s post to get the recipe and see more gorgeous photos of her process!


(Disclaimer if serving to kids: matcha contains caffeine.)


Please-Mr.-Panda-13You might also like Bonnie’s last picture book treat: tea-icing donuts from Please, Mr. Panda!












please, mr. panda + tea icing donuts from thirsty for tea!

22323647Please, Mr. Panda by Steve Antony (2014).

The premise is simple and the words are few. The characters are all black and white animals and the only color in the palette is from that bright, poppy box of doughnuts.



This is a manners book, but done funny with a dose of edge. Come see!




Just look at Mr. Panda! His gloomy eyes. The slight smudge of his shape. His “Doughnuts” cap! He looks like an apprehensive offerer. It’s like he already knows what’s going to happen.


Screen+Shot+2015-05-07+at+12.25.19And what happens is every animal he approaches doesn’t say please. They’re kind of an entitled (to doughnuts) bunch. And that’s the pattern of the book, with slight variation. Mr. Panda asks an animal if they’d like a doughnut and they respond with “I want the blue one and the yellow one” or “No, go away” or “I want them all! Then bring me some more.” No doughnuts for those guys.




Then, brilliantly, a new animal shows up. A lemur, who turns the pattern and even the orientation of the illustrations upside down! A lemur who says please and thank you and gets all the doughnuts. That last spread with the polite lemur in the box of doughnuts, bright pastry rings on his tail tells us that if you’re a nice lemur, you get doughnuts. Which is a pretty good deal.



One exuberant treat and one straight-faced panda. And the need for PLEASE.


Please Mr. Panda images from Steve Antony’s website.  




My talented friend Bonnie at Thirsty for Tea is a seriously creative cook and tea connoisseur in addition to being one of my favorite people. Her blog recipes are always gorgeous and full of fun!

For our Please Mr. Panda collaboration, she made a box of donuts, just like Mr. Panda’s! To a tea!

Please, Mr. Panda 1

No artificial colorings found in these poppy pastries. Bonnie whipped up icing that’s colored and flavored using pea flower, hibiscus, matcha, Earl Gray, and rooibos tea! (I told you she was amazing.)

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These are also on the healthier side—baked not fried and with a couple ingredients like coconut oil and flax seeds. But mostly, they’re fun and delicious and would make most creatures say, yes, PLEASE!

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For the recipe, more photos, and Bonnie’s take on the book, visit her blog!


applecake_juliepatchkisYou may be interested in my first collaboration with Bonnie too. Apple Cake: A Recipe for Love + Apple Cake Recipe by Thirsty for Tea.


apple cake: a recipe for love + apple cake recipe by thirsty for tea

applecake_juliepatchkisApple Cake: A Recipe for Love by Julie Paschkis (2012).

Words to describe this book:

Whimsical. Romantic. Sweet. It’s about love and cake after all.



Light as a feather illustrations, full of charm. A boy who wants to win the heart of a  girl who reads. That about sums it up.





(click image(s) to enlarge)

apple_cake_picture_bookIda reads and never looks up. Alfonso wants her to.



apple_cake_a_recipe_for_loveA simple plan. A cake. But a cake so full of magic and love it will be anything but ordinary.



applecake_picturebookPaschkis started with her great grandmother’s apple cake recipe and took it, well, to the land of imagination through her illustrations. Alfonso gets butter from the sun and salt from the sea and bakes the cake with the fiery breath of a dragon.



apple-cake-recipe-cardThis is the original recipe card! Not from Paschkis’s great grandmother, but from her own mother. The recipe though is the same one, passed down.


applecake_recipeforloveThis book celebrates the joy and connection of baking. The way it can be shared and show love.




Can you guess what happens next?! Ida and Alfonso eat the cake together!!!


One last thing, Julie Paschkis is part of an exhibition of Children’s Book Illustrators in Washington at Bainbridge Island Museum of Art from now until February 22nd. It’s called “Points of Entry” and by happenstance I think I’ll be able to stop in on a trip to Seattle this winter. So while I hope you can make it to the show yourself, if not, I’ll report back!


Thanks to Julie Paschkis for images!





My lovely and supremely talented friend Bonnie over at Thirsty for Tea has a special treat for us today! An apple tea cake recipe that’s perfect for fall (or falling in love, per the book).

Julie Paschkis's Apple Cake 1


From Bonnie:

“Staying true to the book, I used 1 green apple (Granny Smith) and 2 sweet ones (Honeycrisp) in this Apple Tea Cake recipe. The sour apple is mixed into the cake batter while the 2 sweet apples are cubed, dusted generously with cinnamon sugar, and scattered over the top of the cake to create a rustic topping.


My personal ingredient addition not included in the original recipe of the book is buttermilk. The baked apples meld together with the buttermilk based cake batter to create an almost custard-like texture to the cake–moist, tender, and deliciously creamy!”


Julie Paschkis's Apple Cake 2Julie Paschkis's Apple Cake 3Julie Paschkis's Apple Cake 4



Apple Tea Cake

Makes 1-8″ cake.


{Cake Base}

4 Tbsp butter, softened

1/3 cup sugar

1 egg

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

pinch salt

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2″ cubes

{Apple Topping}

2 Tbsp butter, melted

2 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 Honeycrisp, Gala, or Fuji apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2″ cubes

sifted powdered sugar for serving (optional)


8″ baking pan (I used a spring form for easy removal), sprayed with non-stick spray

large mixing bowl

medium mixing bowl

rubber spatula

peeler and paring knife

small heart-shaped cookie cutter (optional)


1.)  Make the Cake Base. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the 1 cup of flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg. In a large bowl, cream the 4 Tbsp of butter and 1/3 cup of sugar. Add in the egg and vanilla and mix them in. Gradually add the flour mix into the butter mixture until barely incorporated. Gently mix the Granny Smith apple chunks into the batter, then pour the batter into the baking pan. Use the back of the rubber spatula to smooth and even out the batter. Set aside.

2.)  Make the Apple Topping. Place the Honeycrisp apple chunks into the medium bowl. Pour the remaining 2 Tbsp of melted butter over the apples, then dust with the cinnamon and sugar. Toss the apples so that all the spice, sugar, and butter is evenly distributed. Topple apples over the cake batter evenly, then lightly press them in so that they adhere to the top surface of the cake.

3.)  Finish the Cake. Bake the cake for 30-35 minutes or until the top is lightly golden, the apples look slightly dry, and a toothpick comes out clean. Wait for the cake to cool for at least 15 minutes before removing from the baking pan. Dust the top of the cake with sifted powdered sugar just before serving. For an optional decorative touch, top the cake with red apple heart cut-outs. Enjoy!




Julie Paschkis's Apple Cake 5


Looks amazing right? And the apple heart on top?! Whimsical, romantic, and sweet—just like the book!

Pop over to Thirsty for Tea to see what tea Bonnie recommends to sip with this one.  She knows her stuff.