Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Toasted Barley Tea (大麦茶)

My girl friend from China first introduced me to this barley tea.  She said she had it in Korean restaurant and really liked it and thus she bought it to make it at home.  Strangely though, I was never served barley tea when dining in Korean restaurants, or I have to ask for it?  They said it usually served with Korean BBQ.

Anyway, I saw this barley tea recipe in multiple Korean cookbooks and it's really easy to make.  You just have to search for this toasted barley in the Korean supermarket or Asian market.  This barley tea is very nutritious too and said to aid weight lost.  Chinese has been catching up and this barley tea is popular in other Asian countries too.  I found the benefits in a Chinese article which I copied and pasted here, 据本草纲目记载,大麦味甘、性平;有平胃止渴,消渴除热,益气调中,宽胸下气,消积进食,补虚劣、壮血脉,益颜色、宝五脏、化谷食之功.  Sorry I don't know how to translate it.

This is how it looks like and it's really fragrant.  The house was infused with toasted fragrant when I was boiling this.  The tea itself was fragrant and I like it without sugar.  The instruction at the packet of the barley that I bought said you can also served it cold with condensed milk or sugar for breakfast.  I will show you the picture of the packet in the next page.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Steamed Custard Sponge Cake

I wanted to create a recipe for steamed custard sponge cake.  This was my second trials.  I used a different recipe for the first attempt and for some reason the bottom half of the steamed cake was slightly hard, even though it rises beautifully.  So, I played around with this second recipe and added oil into my steamed sponge cake.  It didn't raise as high because my bamboo steamer was too big, I used a 12-inch bamboo steamer.  This recipe is okay but I wanted to try it with separating egg yolk and egg white (like a chiffon cake method) and compare the result.  And of course use a smaller pan!  This cake was soft but after the second day, it was still soft but had a slightly dry texture.

The steamed custard sponge cake from the bamboo steamer had nice top, even though I didn't cover it with a cheese cloth.  The first one I steamed using my electric steamer had bubbles top because the water condensation from the steamer kept dropping onto the cake.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Pickled Radish, Cucumber and Carrot

This is an Asian pickled.  This pickle is pretty common in Asian cuisine.  Most countries have their own version but cooking method is similar, 1:1 ratio of white vinegar:sugar.  It can be served as a Korean banchan too.  I tried to use less sugar and the result was less satisfactory as it leans toward sourish.

This is great as an appetizer as the vinegar really increases your appetite.  Not to say vinegar is good for us too.  It said to control high blood pressure, improving digestive system, reduce urinary tract infections and diseases, strengthening bone, etc.  You can do a search on the Web to read more benefits of vinegar.  With this pickle, I finally found a delicious way to have a little vinegar everyday.  Not to say cucumber, radish and carrot are good for us too.  But got to warm you though, this has quite a lot of sugar in it, so if you are watching your sugar intake, be aware.  Also, eat in moderation, a little bit in a day, not the whole thing in a day no matter how tempting it is.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Clementine or Mandarin Marmalade

What to do if you have sour mandarins?  The last batch of the Cuties mandarins that I bought turned out so sour that I wouldn't want to eat it.  Worst yet I bought 6 pounds of it!!  I would have returned it but my hubby said the gas money would have cost about the same and suggested to throw it away.  I am not a wasteful person, so it's hard to throw away 6 lb. of good looking mandarins even though it's inedible.  Then, I got an idea to make it into marmalade.  With added sugar, we can turn anything sour into sweet.  I came across an easy recipe but forgot where I have seen it but the process is really simple.

Look at those good looking mandarins, who could have guess it was so sour!  I guess it's time to stop buying the mandarins, is it the end of the season?  The last 40-50lbs that I bought was so sweet that I was truly disappointed in this recent batch.  Luckily the marmalade rescued me, it turned out so good that even my girls loved it.  I still have about 3 lb. of cuties left, right now sitting in my refrigerator to prolong the selves life, should last for a month before I make another batch of marmalade.  The marmalade can also be used in baking and cooking such as making cake, cookies, spread on Swiss roll, marmalade chicken, marmalade meat balls, marmalade baked salmon, etc.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Fruit Cake Mix Cookies

Happy Valentine's Day!!

I made this heart shape fruit cake mix cookies for this Valentine's day!  Also took this opportunity to wish all my readers a fun and happy Valentine's day celebration.  This cookie came about when I was shopping at my local supermarket and spotted the fruit cake mix was on clearance for 99 cent for a 16oz tub.  The 8 oz cherries an pineapple was on clearance for 49 cent.  How could I pass it out?  I used about half of the fruit cake mix to make this cookie and the other half I am planning to make a cake.

For the above cookies, I rolled it out and cut it with a cookie cutter.  The rest, I shaped into logs and placed in my freezer for future craving.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Korean Stir-Fried Fish Cake

While I was at a gathering and strike up a conversation with a lady friend and she mentioned to me about this Korean fish cake banchan/ side dish.  She said it was really easy to make and delicious and I agreed with her.  So, while shopping at H-mart recently, I bought a packet of fish cake to make this banchan.

All of us liked it and it was easy to make.  Furthermore, it keeps well in the refrigerator.  For the next two days, little Edda and me had it as our lunch with some other vegetable banchan.  I think children would like this, just omit the green chili if your kid(s) cannot tolerate spicy food.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Burdock Root/ Gobo Herbal Soup (牛蒡草药汤)

Gobo or burdock root has many health benefits.  It is low in calories and contains a fair amount of fiber, calcium, amino acids and potassium, to list a few.  It has been used traditionally as a medicinal herbs to treat many ailments.  Said to be anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, disease prevention, blood purification and mild laxative.  It can be eaten raw, stir-fry or boil in soup.  I did a stir-fried version here.  But I found it quite fibrous and not as suitable for young children.

You can read more about burdock root at wiki.  I want to make it a habit of drinking this soup at least once a month.

I got this gobo at my Asian market here for 70 cents.  I thought it's pretty reasonable but I had no idea whether it's cheaper at other Asian markets since this was the second time I bought this.  But I have a very bad habit, I don't compare prices when I shop for Asian vegetable, I just buy whatever vegetable that look fresher and would last through a week in my refrigerator.  If you ask me how much are the prices of broccoli, green bean, asparagus, celery, cabbage, brussels sprout, onion, carrot, cauliflower per lb when on sales, I would be able to tell you.  But none of the Asian vegetables I could tell as I don't look at the price, I just grab and in the cart it goes.  Anyone of you behave the same way?

Monday, February 06, 2012

Happy Chap Goh Mei or 元宵节快乐!

Happy Chap Goh Mei or 元宵节快乐!  Chap Goh Mei (literary translates to 15 nights) marks the last day of Chinese New Year celebration.  I served Mala steamboat for an early Chap Goh Mei celebration.  I used packet mala paste and because of the spiciness of this soup base, no dipping sauce is required.

I found a smart way to reduce washing dishes!  That is to put all the ingredients into these two containers!!  If I put all the ingredients into individual bowls or plates, imagine how many dishes I have to wash.  Since we have been eating lots of seafood and meat during the Chinese New Year, I wanted something light with more fresh mushrooms, fish and vegetarian based ingredients.  Fish fillets, DoDo fish balls, fried fish rolls, pork balls, baby corns, scallion.

Romaine lettuce heart, nai pak, oyster mushrooms, beech mushrooms, fried tofu sticks.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Taro Tapioca Shreds Sweet Soup

I had a taro sago sweet soup as dessert recently at an authentic Chinese restaurant up in Denver with some friends.  I enjoyed it as I loved taro!  Always loved the taro in buburchacha, a popular Malaysian dessert when growing up and until now I still loved it.  I also loved the "or nee", smashed taro cooked in sugar and oil.  Taro is also high in dietary fiber, low in fat, high in vitamin E and rich in potassium and magnesium.

Since I don't have sago at home, I used dried tapioca shreds instead.  You can use either one or both.  This is a lovely dessert but quite fattening because of the high amount of coconut milk used.  Would be nice as an occasional treat!  And one of that occasion would be during Chinese New Year!

I am sharing this dessert with Aspiring Bakers #15: Auspicious Dishes for CNY hosted by Wen's Delight.  Go check out the roundup on Feb 7th.  :-)

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Dragon Yu Sheng/Yee Sang (龙年鱼生)

My dragon yu sheng for the dragon year.  I saw some dragon inspired yu sheng and those pictures really inspired me to create this dragon yu shengYu Sheng or 鱼生 literally translate to raw fish.  It is a raw fish salad that Chinese in Malaysia and Singapore enjoy throughout the 15th days of the Chinese New Year.  I omitted the raw fish because my family don't eat raw fish.  The salad in itself was so delicious that it was worth the day of slicing those vegetable.  My version was quite simple as I omitted the fried colorful taro strips and some other things.  I also got the fried crunchy wonton from my friend's restaurant which they happily gave it to me (which cut down my labor of making this).  It was so good and I wonder why we only eat it during Chinese New Year?  Why don't I have the urge to make it some other times, just like the CNY cookies and nian gao?  How strange we are right?  Anyone of you make yu sheng other than during CNY?

Click here for the full recipe.  This salad is very versatile, you can add whatever extra you desired.

I am also sharing this dish with Aspiring Bakers #15: Auspicious Dishes for CNY hosted by Wen's Delight.  The deadline for submission has been extended to Feb 6th, the last day of CNY.  So go see the roundup on the 7th!  :-)