Thursday, January 30, 2014

Braised Mixed Vegetables / Buddha's Delight (Lo Hon Chai - 罗汉斋)

Chinese New Year


This vegetarian dish which is usually served on the first day of Chinese New Year varies from family to family.  The main ingredient in this dish is the red fermented beancurd; due to its strong smell, it is an acquired taste. So, if you are not a fan of red fermented beancurd, you can just omit it and replace with another tablespoon of oyster sauce perhaps.   My family love this dish very much, so I cooked it quite often, not only on Chinese New Year.  


Ingredients:
250-300g Nappa cabbage, cut into 1" length
1 medium sized carrot, sliced
a handful of sugar snap peas, trim both ends
10 dried shiitake mushroom, soaked to soften
a handful of cloud ear fungus, soaked to soften
about 20g dried lily bulbs, tie in knots
1 piece bean curd sheet
40g glass noodles
10 pieces tofu puffs, cut into halves
100g Shimeji mushroom
100g enoki mushroom
4 cloves garlic, minced
a small knob of ginger, minced
3 shallots, minced
cooking oil

Seasoning:
3 cubes red fermented bean curd, mashed
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp pepper
salt, to taste
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
1 cup water
  • Heat about half a cup of cooking oil in the wok and fry bean curd sheet until crispy.  Remove and using the spatula cut it into smaller pieces; set aside.  Then put glass noodles into the oil and fry until crispy.  Remove and set aside.
  • Sauté minced ginger, shallots and garlic until aromatic.  Add in shiitake mushroom, tofu puffs, cloud ear fungus, lily bulbs and fry for about 2 minutes before adding in the seasoning.  Cover and let it stew for about 15 minutes or until the shiitake mushrooms are soft.
  • Add in cabbage, carrot,  Shimeji and enoki mushrooms, fried beancurd sheet and fried glass noodles.  Braised until cabbage is soft.   Add more water if too dry.  Finally add in sugar snap peas and cook for a minute or two.





Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Hakka Steamed Pork With Yam (芋头扣肉)- Revisited

Here's wishing all my readers and friends a very 
Happy Chinese New Year.  

May the year of the Horse brings you 
peace, good health and prosperity.









This is a revisit to the original post with updated photos.  




Saturday, January 25, 2014

Nestum Cookies

Chinese New Year Cookies







Recipe adapted from here

Ingredients:

200g plain flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp bicarbonate of soda
150g butter, softened
75g Nestum cereal
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
90g icing sugar
extra Nestum cereal - for coating
red glacé cherries, cut into small pieces - for decoration

Egg wash: 1 egg + 1/4 tsp salt

  • Spread Nestum cereal in a baking tray and lightly toast in preheated oven at 150 deg C for about 7 minutes or until fragrant.
  • Sift together flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda.  Set aside.
  • Beat butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy.  Add in egg and vanilla extract.
  • Fold in flour mixture and Nestum cereal and mix to form a dough.
  • Divide dough into balls of 10g each.  Using a flat plastic spatula, press onto the ball of dough to pick it up.  Brush with egg wash.  Drop the ball of dough onto the Nestum cereal and brush the other side of the cookie with egg wash.  Coat the cookie with cereal and flatten it.  Brush a dot of egg wash in the centre of the cookie and press a small piece of glacé cherry onto it.  
  • Place the cookie onto a lined baking tray.  Repeat with the rest of the dough.
  • Bake cookies in a preheated oven (150 deg C) for about 10 minutes or until golden brown.  
  • Cool cookies completely before storing in air tight containers.


I'm submitting this post to the Bake Along event hosted by
 Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids, Joyce of Kitchen Flavours and Lena of Frozen Wings
and the theme is 'Chinese New Year Cookies'


Friday, January 24, 2014

Hakka Yam Abacus Seeds [客家算盘子]

Yam Gnocchi / Chinese New Year
 Yam Gnocchi / Chinese New Year


For the abacus seed dough:
1 small yam - about 510g (yields 460g mashed yam)
100g tapioca flour
1 tsp oil
1/2 tsp salt


  • Cut yam into cubes and steam until soft enough to be mashed.
  • Add salt and oil into the hot yam and mash with a fork.  Gradually knead in tapioca flour using your hand until it forms a pliable dough and doesn't stick.
  • Cut yam dough into 4 pieces.  Cover dough to prevent from drying out.  Gently roll each piece to form a log.  Cut each log into small pieces.  Take a small piece and roll into a ball.  Then press your thumb and index finger into the centre of the ball to form an indentation.  Place the 'abacus seeds' on a tray lined with baking paper (abacus seeds can be frozen at this stage)
  • Bring a pot of water with 1/2 tsp salt to the boil.  Put in a batch of the abacus seeds.  As they cooked, the abacus seeds will rise to the surface.
  • Remove with slotted spatula and drain well.  Toss the abacus seeds with a little oil to prevent them from sticking together.  Repeat with remaining abacus seeds.

For the frying:
oil
1 tsp sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
4 dried shiitake mushroom (soaked until softened, thinly sliced)
1/2 carrot, minced
1 piece firm tofu, cut into small cubes
2 tbsp dried shrimps (soaked and chopped finely)
salt & pepper, to taste
fish sauce, to taste
coriander leaves, for garnishing

  • Heat oil in a wok, lightly brown the tofu.  Set aside.
  • Saute shallot and garlic until fragrant.  Add in dried shrimps, shiitake mushroom and fry until aromatic.  Then add in carrot and a splash of water.  Cook for about 2 minutes.  
  • Toss in the cooked yam abacus seeds and tofu. Add in sesame oil.
  • Season with salt, pepper and fish sauce.  Continue frying for 2 minutes.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves and serve immediately.

* Once frozen, the abacus seeds can be transferred into a plastic bag.  They can be frozen up to at least a month.  Cook frozen abacus seeds in boiling water before frying (no need to thaw).



Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Butter Pork Spare Ribs [奶油排骨]

奶油排骨]
奶油排骨]
Curry Leaves


Ingredients:
720g pork spare ribs, cut into pieces
80g butter + 2 tbsp oil  **
enough oil for frying

A:
1/2 tsp soda bicarbonate
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp water

B:
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp sesame oil

C:
3 egg yolks - lightly beaten

D:
3 sprigs of curry leaves, washed and pat dry 
1 birds eye chilli, sliced
1 tbsp oyster sauce + 1 tbsp water
1/4 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp pepper


  • Marinate pork ribs with ingredients A for about 3 hours.  Rinse pork ribs and pat dry. Marinate in ingredients B and set aside for at least 30 minutes.
  • Heat enough oil to cover the spare ribs in a wok, fry the ribs until cooked. Drain well and set aside.
  • Clean the wok,  heat up about 50g butter + 1 tbsp oil, over medium-high heat, slowly drizzle in beaten egg yolks and using a ladle, keep swirling the egg yolks until they become crispy in the foamy mixture.  Transfer the egg floss into a large sieve and using the ladle, press out the excess oil.  
  • In a clean wok, heat up the remaining butter + oil.  Fry the curry leaves until aromatic and crispy. Add in chilli and spare ribs.  Put in the rest of ingredients D and egg floss.  Toss well to combine.



**
Rice bran oil (which has a higher smoking point) is added  to the butter to ensure that the butter fat does not burn immediately in high heat.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Salted Egg Yolks Cookies

Chinese New Year Cookies

Chinese New Year Cookies
Chinese New Year Cookies



Recipe adapted from Cheh Cheh of Messy Witchen 

Mashed cooked salted egg yolks
Ingredients:
250g plain flour
20g cornflour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 tablespoon milk powder
4 salted duck egg yolks 
170g butter, softened
80g icing sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Glaze:  (Lightly beaten)
1 egg
pinch of salt
Topping:
Black & white sesame seeds

  • Separate the eggs.  Steam the egg yolks until cooked.  Use a fork to mash the yolks and set aside.
  • Sift together flour, cornflour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and milk powder. Set aside.
  • Using a stand mixer cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 
  • With the mixer on low speed, fold in sifted flours in three additions and add in mashed egg yolks.  Beat until just combined to form a dough.  Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap in cling wrap and place in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
  • With the palm of your hand, gently pat the dough to flatten slightly.  Place the dough in between 2 sheets of non-stick baking paper and roll into 5mm thickness.  Use cookie cutters to cut the shape out of the dough.
  • Place cookies onto a tray lined with baking paper.  Brush cookies with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  • Bake in a preheated oven (170 deg C) for about 10 minutes or until golden brown.  
  • Cool cookies completely before storing in air tight containers.



I'm submitting this post to the Bake Along event hosted by
 Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids, Joyce of Kitchen Flavours and Lena of Frozen Wings
and the theme is 'Chinese New Year Cookies'


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Pineapple Tarts (凤梨酥)

Chinese New Year Cookies

Chinese New Year Cookies

Chinese New Year Cookies


This is a truly wonderful pineapple tart recipe which was given to me by a friend more than ten years ago.  I've only tried it once many years ago and had forgotten about it until I came across it recently when I flipped through my two-decade-old hand-copied recipe book.  

For the past week of seriously hot weather in Melbourne which sent the mercury soaring past 40 degrees, turning on the oven to do some baking is just out of the question,  so I waited for a cooler day to make my pineapple tarts.  At last, yesterday we were rewarded with a cool day of 23 degrees.   Although it wasn't hot it was warm and humid; my hands were warm and it made the pastry to very soft and difficult to handle.  Remember the golden rule about cold hands make good pastry?  I had to keep rinsing my hands under cold running water, just to cool them; and the pastry dough had to be kept in the fridge while I worked with a small portion of pastry at a time.  It was tedious and time consuming but was finally rewarded with the wonderful aroma wafting through the kitchen.  And it was simply divine when I bit into these crumbly and buttery pineapple tarts with a melt-in-your-mouth quality. 


My 2-decades old handwritten recipe book

Ingredients:  [Makes 70 tarts]

150g butter 
100g margarine (I replaced with butter)
75g icing sugar 
2 egg yolks
1 vanilla beans, scrape the seeds out
1/4 tsp salt
350g plain flour
50g corn flour

Glaze:
2 egg yolks
2 tsp condensed milk (I replaced with fresh milk)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp water
  • Sift plain flour , corn flour and salt together.
  • Using a stand mixer cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add in egg yolks, one at a time, followed by vanilla seeds.  Beat well to combine.
  • With the mixer on low speed, fold in sifted flours in three additions and beat until just combined to form a dough.  Wrap the dough with cling wrap and let it rest  in  the fridge for an hour.
  • Take one small portion of the dough to work with while the rest of the dough remain chilled in the fridge.  Divide the dough into balls of 10g each.  
  • Flatten the dough with your finger and using a small silicon tongs, place a ball of rolled out pineapple jam filling (8g each) in the centre of the dough.  Gather the edges together to seal and roll into an elongated roll.  Use a small paring knife to create criss-cross marks on the tarts.  Place the tarts onto a tray lined with baking paper and refrigerate them for at least 30 minutes before baking.
  • Bake tarts at 170 degrees C for about 20 minutes.  Remove tray from the oven and glaze the tarts.  Return tarts to the oven and bake for another 5 - 6 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Cool tarts on a wire rack before storing in an air tight container.



Pineapple Jam


1.5 kg pineapple flesh, cut into chunks
600g granulated sugar (up to individual's taste)
1/4 tsp mixed spice powder
2 tbsp lemon juice

  • Place pineapple pieces into the food processor and Pulse them until they are quite small but not pureed. 
  • Pour processed pineapple and lemon juice into a heavy based and wide-mouth saucepan and bring it to the boil.  Reduce heat and stirring frequently, simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated.  Add in sugar and mixed spiced powder.  
  • Continue stirring, cook until jam reduces to a thick paste.  Do not overcook the jam as it will continue to thickens after it is cooled.
  • Transfer jam onto a plate to cool or you can refrigerate it.  With wet hands roll jam into balls of 8g each.  
 
I'm submitting this post to the Bake Along event hosted by
 Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids, Joyce of Kitchen Flavours and Lena of Frozen Wings
and the theme is 'Chinese New Year Cookies'

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Fried Green Beans with Minced Pork & XO Sauce [乾煸四季豆]

Fried Green Beans


This is my all time favourite green beans dish and it is one of the dishes that graced our dinner table every time we eat out.  The hero of this dish is the green beans which is also known as string beans or French beans.  The beans are first shallow fried until blistered - this is to help seal in the natural sweetness and flavour, then toss together with minced meat and XO sauce.  You will need plenty of steamed rice to go with this dish.

Fried Green Beans

A gift from a friend who returned from Taiwan
Ingredients:
250g green beans, trim both ends
100g minced pork (or minced chicken)
1 tbsp dried shrimps, washed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallots, sliced finely

Marinade for meat:
1 tsp light soy sauce
1/4 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp corn flour
1/2 tsp cooking wine
dash of pepper
dash of sesame oil

Seasoning:
2 tsp XO sauce
1 tsp chilli oil
salt & sugar to taste
pepper

a bowl of  iced water - to blanch the beans


  • Marinate minced pork and set aside.
  • Wash the green beans and dry thoroughly with kitchen towel before cutting into lengths of about 3 cm long.  
  • Heat about 2 tbsp of oil in a wok (oil should barely cover the beans) and fry the beans in batches over medium-high heat, until they become wrinkly and slightly brown.  Quickly transfer beans into the bowl of iced water to stop the cooking process.  Drain beans in a colander and set aside.
  • Using the same wok, sauté minced garlic, shallots and dried shrimps until fragrant.  Add in minced pork and XO sauce and chilli oil.  Stir well.
  • Once the pork is cooked, turn up the heat.  Add in the green beans and season to taste.  Give a few quick toss and turn off the heat.  Do not over cook the beans. 

Mung bean-Almond Cookies [綠豆 - 杏仁 餅]

Chinese New Year Cookies

Chinese New Year Cookies



When I saw Sokehah Cheah's version of Macau Almond Cookies, it brought me back to my childhood days - I remember every year one of my neighbours would make  米餅 (which I believe is mung bean cookies) for Chinese New Year.  She would leave the cookies to dry under the sun for days before storing them.  Some of the cookies I tried were hard as rock whereas some were crumbly.  I wonder which is the right texture for mung bean cookies. 

I decided to make my own mung bean flour since I have some leftover split mung beans in my pantry.  But I asked myself if it's worth the extra effort to make my own flour since I am only using so little.

However, I knew that it was worth the effort when I bit into the cookies; I could taste the distinctive nutty flavour of the mung bean and the beautiful aroma.  
     

Ingredients:  (Makes 35 small cookies)

125g cooked mung bean flour (refer below for homemade mung bean flour)
30g almond meal (lightly fry for drier almond meal)
50g icing sugar, sifted
30g Rice Bran oil 
30g almonds, lightly toasted - chopped
5 tsp coconut milk
  • Preheat oven to 140 deg C.  Line baking tray with baking paper.
  • Combine mung bean flour, almond meal and icing sugar in a large mixing bowl. 
  • Add in oil and mix together;  then add in the chopped almonds.  Mix well.
  • Gradually mix in coconut milk a little at a time.  The dough should remain crumbly but come together when squeezed.
  • Take a small piece of  the crumbly dough and press firmly into the mould and remove excess around the edge.  Tap the mould on the counter a few times to knock out the cookie.  
  • Place cookies on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake for about 30 minutes with the oven door slightly ajar.
  • Let cookies cool in the tray, then gently transfer cookies onto a wire rack to cool completely before storing in an air-tight container.



HOME-MADE MUNG BEAN FLOUR


Homemade Mung Bean Flour



Ingredient: 
split mung beans

  • Rinse mung beans and drain thoroughly.
  • In a frying pan, dry fry the mung beans under medium-low fire.  Stir constantly to prevent burning.
  • As soon as you smell the nutty aroma of the beans, that means the beans are cooked.
  • Cool the beans completely before grinding them into fine powder.  (I used my Spectablend blender to blitz the beans into flour).
  • Sieve to get finer flour. 
  • Store flour in an airtight container.  

Note:  I dry fried the mung bean flour again under low fire until light and has a deeper tinge of yellowness.  Let it cool completely before use.  I did this step a couple of days ahead.




I'm submitting this post to the Bake Along event hosted by
 Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids, Joyce of Kitchen Flavours and Lena of Frozen Wings
and the theme is 'Chinese New Year Cookies'

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

    Flaked Almond Crisps

    Chinese New Year Cookies

    Chinese New Year Cookies




    Ingredients: (Makes about 25 pieces)
    1 egg
    30g caster sugar
    15g plain flour
    10g almond meal
    100g flaked almond
    1/4 tsp vanilla extract


    • Preheat oven to 150°C.  Line baking tray with baking paper.
    • Beat egg, sugar and vanilla extract in a small bowl with an electric mixer until sugar dissolved.   
    • Stir in sifted flour and almond meal and almond flakes.
    • Drop half a teaspoon of mixture onto the prepared tray and using a metal spatula, spread mixture thinly, about 3cm apart.
    • Bake until light brown (about 8 - 10 minutes).
    • Place the almond crisps on a wire rack to cool.
    • When cooled, store them in an airtight container.




    I'm submitting this post to the Bake Along event hosted by
     Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids, Joyce of Kitchen Flavours and Lena of Frozen Wings
    and the theme is 'Chinese New Year Cookies'


    Flaked Almond Crisps

    Chinese New Year Cookies

    Chinese New Year Cookies




    Ingredients: (Makes about 25 pieces)
    1 egg
    30g caster sugar
    15g plain flour
    10g almond meal
    100g flaked almond
    1/4 tsp vanilla extract


    • Preheat oven to 150°C.  Line baking tray with baking paper.
    • Beat egg, sugar and vanilla extract in a small bowl with an electric mixer until sugar dissolved.   
    • Stir in sifted flour and almond meal and almond flakes.
    • Drop half a teaspoon of mixture onto the prepared tray and using a metal spatula, spread mixture thinly, about 3cm apart.
    • Bake until light brown (about 8 - 10 minutes).
    • Place the almond crisps on a wire rack to cool.
    • When cooled, store them in an airtight container.




    I'm submitting this post to the Bake Along event hosted by
     Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids, Joyce of Kitchen Flavours and Lena of Frozen Wings
    and the theme is 'Chinese New Year Cookies'


    Monday, January 13, 2014

    Almond Tuiles

    Chinese New Year Cookies

    Chinese New Year Cookies

    Chinese New Year Cookies





    Pronounced as tweel, Tuile means "roof tile" in French  because it resembles the shape of French roof tile.  A tuile is a thin, crisp, sweet wafer made from flour, sugar, melted butter and almonds. To obtain the curved shape, tuiles are usually draped on a curved surface such as a rolling pin, bottle or even the handle of a metal spatula while they are hot, otherwise they will crack and break.   It will fall naturally and mold itself around the cylinder.  

    Recipe adapted from AWW's  Tuiles Aux Amandes (French for Almond Tuiles)

    Ingredients: (Makes about 35 pieces)

    39g (1) egg white
    45g caster sugar
    15g almond meal
    20g plain flour (sifted)
    30g butter (melted)
    1/4 tsp vanilla extract
    50g flaked almonds

    • Preheat oven to 170°C.  Line two trays with baking paper.
    • Beat egg white in a small bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.  Gradually add in sugar and beat until dissolved between additions.
    • Stir in almond meal, sifted flour and then butter and vanilla extract.
    • Spoon half a teaspoon of mixture onto the prepared tray and using the back of a spoon, spread mixture into 7cm circles, about 3cm apart.  Sprinkle flaked almonds onto the mixture.
    • Bake one tray at a time for about 6 minutes or until lightly brown around the edges.
    • Lift tuiles carefully and quickly from the tray with a metal spatula and immediately place over a rolling pin to cool.  
    • Continue with the remaining mixture.
    • When tuiles are cooled, store them in an airtight container.



    I'm submitting this post to the Bake Along event hosted by
     Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids, Joyce of Kitchen Flavours and Lena of Frozen Wings
    and the theme is 'Chinese New Year Cookies'


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