Illustration by Brynne Barnard-Bahn

Quarantine Recipes: Easy and delicious treats to make at home

Traditional Cantonese milk pudding (from the Xiaohongshu app)

Start-to-finish time: 45 minutes

Active time: 15 minutes


Ingredients: ⅞ cup whole milk, 2 eggs, 1 ½ tablespoons sugar. 

Heat the milk in a pot until it starts bubbling.

Pour the milk into a bowl and use a spoon to skim the floating foam off the surface.

Let cool for half an hour at room temperature.

Crack two eggs and separate the yolks from the whites. 

Discard the yolks or save for another recipe.

Add 1 ½ tablespoons of sugar into the bowl with the egg whites. Stir until ingredients are completely mixed.

Combine the mixture of egg whites and sugar with the milk. Then stir. 

Use a spoon to skim the floating foam off the surface.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. 

Boil a pot of water. Once the water is boiling, put the bowl into a steamer and steam for 20 minutes with gentle heat. 

Serve hot or cold with fruits and sweets of your choice.

This is one of the most famous traditional desserts in my hometown of Guangdong, China. We call it “shuang pi nai,” which means double skin milk.

Traditionally, people use buffalo’s milk to make this dessert. With a high fat content, buffalo milk can form two layers of milk skin with different tastes.

I am very excited that I found it easy to make at home. I prefer the cold serving. It is a good choice for an afternoon dessert, especially on a hot summer day. 

— Hermione Xian

Illustration by Brynne Barnard-Bahn

Crazy cake (from

Start-to-finish time: 50 minutes

Active time: 20 minutes

Servings: 18

Ingredients: 3 cups all-purpose flour, 2 cups white sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons baking soda, ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, ¼  cup vegetable oil, 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 2 cups cold water.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 9-by-13-inch pan with nonstick spray and dust it lightly with flour. 

Combine the salt, sugar, baking soda and cocoa powder in a large bowl and make a well in the center. 

Pour the oil, vinegar and water into the well and stir with a fork. 

Once mixed, pour the batter into the pan and bake for 30-40 minutes.

My brother is allergic to eggs and used to be allergic to milk, so I’ve eaten this cake more times than I can count. It’s one of my all-time favorite desserts, especially because it’s easy to make. It’s more dense than normal cake but too light to be a brownie, so it’s the best of both worlds!

This recipe is also great because it’s forgiving. Even if you get the ingredients a little mixed up, it’ll end up tasting the same. Greasing the pan isn’t required, either — it makes cleanup easier, but the cake will still come out of the pan without it.

— Samhita Kumar

Illustration by Brynne Barnard-Bahn

No-yeast pizza crust (from

Start-to-finish time: 25 minutes

Servings: 8

Ingredients: 1 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ cup fat-free milk, 2 tablespoons olive oil.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in the milk and olive oil.

Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead 10 times. Shape into a sphere and let rest for 10 minutes.

Roll out dough into the desired size.

This is surprisingly easy to make for pizza dough, which seems like it should be complicated. However, this took barely 20 minutes and was airy and light after making pizza with it.

I recommend adding some herbs like thyme, oregano and garlic powder before kneading the dough. Otherwise, it won’t have much flavor. Bake the dough with toppings at 400 F for about 10 minutes, and it’ll be homemade pizza without much effort!

— Samhita Kumar

Illustration by Brynne Barnard-Bahn

Orange egg pudding (from the Xiaohongshu app)

Start-to-finish time: 45 minutes

Active time: 15 minutes

Servings: 2

Ingredients: 1 egg, 2 oranges, 2 teaspoons sugar, 5 tablespoons milk.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a small bowl, mix the egg, sugar and milk. 

Cut off one-fifth of each orange. The end will serve as a cover for the orange bowl. Then use a knife or a spoon to separate the flesh of the orange from its rind. 

Take one slice of orange and cut it into small pieces. Stir into the mixture.

Pour the mixture into the two hollowed-out orange bowls, leaving ⅓ inch unfilled. Cover them with the cut-off ends.

Put the oranges into two small bowls and bake for 30 minutes or steam them for 20 minutes with gentle heat.

Serve hot. 

This egg pudding has a rich flavor of orange. Egg pudding and orange complement each other very well.

Fun fact — according to traditional Chinese medicine, this pudding can help relieve coughing.

— Hermione Xian

Illustration by Brynne Barnard-Bahn

Banana pancakes (modified from

Start-to-finish time: 15 minutes

Servings: 8

Ingredients: 1 cup flour, 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda, 1 tablespoon sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, 1 banana, 1 cup flour, 1 cup milk, ¼ cup vegetable oil.

In a small bowl, stir the baking soda, salt, sugar and flour.

In another bowl, mash the banana. Stir in the milk and oil.

Combine the wet and dry ingredients until a batter forms.

On low heat in a pan, pour the batter into a circle. Flip when bubbling.

Serve warm.

These pancakes are so, so good. Using banana instead of egg makes them sweet enough to eat on their own, and the addition of syrup or chocolate chips or any traditional pancake topping makes it practically a dessert.

Be careful not to overmix the batter. Since there’s no egg, these are more dense than usual. Overmixing can escalate that if you’re not cautious.

This recipe, which my family has been using for nearly a decade, has been modified significantly from its source. If you have shortening on hand, you can substitute it for the vegetable oil, along with an egg for the banana to match the original.

— Samhita Kumar

Illustration by Brynne Barnard-Bahn

Strawberry ice cream (from Xiaohongshu app)

Start-to-finish time: 150-180 minutes

Active time: 15 minutes

Servings: 6

Ingredients: 6 strawberries, 2 tablespoons chocolate sauce, 2 tablespoons condensed milk.

Cut out the leaves of the strawberries. Use a spoon to hollow out the white part of the strawberries.

Put them into a freezer mold or egg holder with the hollow end facing up. 

Pour the chocolate sauce into 3 strawberries. 

Pour the condensed milk into the other 3 strawberries. 

Cover them with the lid of a box or plastic wrap. Freeze for 2-3 hours. 

Serve cold. 

It is a weird but tasty homemade strawberry ice cream! You should definitely try it once this summer. It tastes like flavored ice, preserving the sourness of the strawberry, complemented with the sweetness of condensed milk or chocolate sauce. 

I recommend using strawberries that are not fully ripe. They are easier to hollow. 

— Hermione Xian

By Samhita Kumar and Hermione Xian

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