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Archive for October, 2009

Stir Fry Bitter Guard with Shrimps

Stir Fry Bitter Melon with Shrimps

Growing up, I always hate bitter melon and don’t understand why people would eat it. But since some not so bad bitter melon tasting last year, I start to accept this vegetable– what can I say with me and the family eating lots of “heaty” food all the time, I need the “ying” of this vegetable to cool down :). This summer I pretty much had a bitter melon dish once a week– what a big change to my diet! Since Richard and Alexander don’t take bitter melon, I only cook it for lunch. When Ethan first saw me eating bitter melon, he wanted some too and so I gave him a bite. Surprisingly, he didn’t spit it out– he ate it followed with a drink of water. Since then he will want a bite or two of bitter melon every time I cook it.

One of the popular way to cook bitter melon is using fermented black bean. My friend Amy suggested using fish sauce and shrimp. If you have fish sauce in your pantry, do give it a try. When I want shrimp in the dish, I would stir fry with fish sauce, or add an egg and make it scrambled egg style. If it’s just stir frying bitter melon alone, I would use fermented black bean. My mom cook it with tomatoes and thus adds tangy flavor to the dish– quite refreshing taste. Hochiak! Delicious Asian Food have it fried with salted egg— hmmm… sounds delicious. I would have to try it next time.

Stir Fry Bitter Melon with Shrimps Recipe

Ingredients:
1 medium bitter melon–cut in 1/2 vertically, discard seeds and inner spongy stuff with a spoon, then thin slice
8-10 small shrimps– shelled and deveined, lightly seasoned with salt
2 cloves garlic– finely chopped
few drops of fish sauce
1/2 to 1 cup hot water
salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Put sliced bitter melon in a bowl and sprinkle with some salt and little water. Rub salt into bitter melon. Let it sit for a while to draw out bitter juice. Rinse under water 2 times. Drain.
  2. Heat wok on high heat. Add 1 tbsp oil and quick saute shrimps until just cooked. Dish out.
  3. Add 1 tbsp oil to  the hot wok. Stir fry garlic until aromatic, add bitter melon and keep stirring. Add enough hot water, little at a time, and cook bitter melon until tender. Add fish sauce, salt and pepper and stir well. Return shrimps to wok. Quick stir and dish out.
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This is my family version of Russian Soup. I grow up taking this soup a lot of time. I know I know… this is not what a Russian Soup should be, but I am just so get used to the name and the taste of it that whenever people said Russian Soup, I just think of my family version’s. Well, regardless of what it is called, the soup is very good especially for cold days that’s coming up. The peppery taste will warm up your stomach, and potatoes and carrots adds comfy homey touch to the soup.

My family version of Russian Soup

My family version of Russian Soup

Khern’s Russian Soup Recipe

Ingredients:
1 1/2 lbs spareribs, cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2 yellow onion– finely chopped
1 tbsp white peppercorn– crushed using back of a knife
4 medium yellow potatoes– peeled, cut into big chucks
2 carrots– peeled, cut into big chucks
1 1/2 gallon water

Method:

  1. Add water, yellow onion and crushed peppercorn in a big pot and bring to a boil.
  2. While waiting for the water to boil, prepare spareribs: add water in a different pot and bring to a boil. Add ribs and blanch. Remove from heat. Discard the water and rinse ribs under running water to remove any bloody impurities.
  3. When the water in big pot is boiling, add blanched ribs. Cover and cook on high heat for 15-20 minutes. Turn heat down to medium, continue to cook for 1.5 hours.
  4. Add potatoes and carrots to the soup, cover then turn heat back to high and let it boil again. Then turn down to medium heat and cook for another hour. Add salt to taste before serving.

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I haven’t touched cake decorating for about 2 years because it takes lots of time and energy which I don’t have with 3 kids at home. However, my little princess was turning one so I decided to bake a cake for her birthday party, to mark this special milestone. I had never heard of chocolate plastic until I was looking for chocolate recipe to make the dress (I didn’t want to use fondant because it’s good on the look but not for the taste). Based upon reviews chocolate plastic works just like fondant but tastes like tootsie. A lot of people said they like it much better than fondant.

The plastic icing was very easy to make, but I failed making my very first batch of plastic icing because I over stirred– it became very sticky and the fat was separated from the mixture. When I made it the second time, I made a quick stir and it turned out perfect. Scroll down to see the recipe.

Dress Cake

Dress Cake

Dress details…

Dress Cake

Dress Cake

Horrible writing… It was a very difficult angle to write the words as I had to be careful not letting my body or my elbows touch the cake while writing.

Dress Cake

Dress Cake

Here are my paper drafts… I always draw the design on the paper before decorating.

Drawing for the cake design

Draft: Drawing for the cake design

Top and bottom border design

Draft: Top and bottom border design

Ta daa…: may I present you The Dress!

The dress-- made of chocolate plastic

The dress-- made of chocolate plastic

Chocolate Plastic Recipe

Ingredients:

1 pound semisweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup light corn syrup (use 1/2 cup if use white chocolate)

Method:

  1. Melt chocolate in a large metal bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat, and quickly stir in the corn syrup until smooth. Do not over stir as it will get very sticky.
  2. Spoon onto a piece of plastic wrap, and wrap tightly. Let stand at room temperature until firm before using. Overnight is best. Use unsweetened cocoa powder (if using chocolate) or icing sugar (if using white chocolate) on work surfaces to prevent sticking.

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When I made XO sauce I had some liquid leftover from steaming the dry scallops, so I added a few tablespoons to the chicken broth this time when I made the soup. It does add lots of flavor, and the cooking wine gets rid of fishy smell (if any). Even though the weather was kind of warm, we finished all the soup. This is one of Alexander’s favorite soup as he loves crab. I didn’t have any green onion and cilantro for garnish otherwise the soup will look much prettier… anyway, it still tastes delicious!

Crab and Tofu Soup

Crab and Tofu Soup

Crab and Tofu Soup Recipe (serve 4-6 people)

Ingredients:
1 cup crab meat
1/2 box regular tofu
1 egg– beaten
chicken broth
1 tsp rice cooking wine (optional)
cornstarch water for thickening
scallion & cilantro for garnish

Method:

  1. Dice tofu into small cubes. Lightly season with salt.
  2. Add chicken broth to a pot and bring to a boil. Add tofu and let it boil again.
  3. Add crab meat, stir to lightly loose up the crab meat. Add cooking wine if used. When the soup boils again gradually pour in cornstarch water while stirring. Add salt and pepper to taste. With the aid of a fork/spoon/chopstick, slowly swirl in the beaten egg to form “egg flower” on top of the soup, drizzle with some sesame oil. Garnish with scallion & cilantro.

Variation: add some shrimps and turn it into seafood tofu soup.

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am not a big fan of Chinese mushroom but this is really good. I learned it from a friend at a potluck party. Don’t let the name mislead you into thinking that this stew dish takes a long time to cook– it’s very simple and pretty quick as long as the mushrooms are soaked through.

Stewed Chinese Mushrooms

Stewed Chinese Mushrooms

Stewed Chinese Mushrooms Recipe

Ingredients:
20-30 medium Chinese mushrooms — soaked overnight
1 clove garlic– finely chopped
1 can chicken broth
1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar

seasoning:
3/4 tsp chicken bouillon powder
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp sesame oil
(note: if you have oyster sauce feel free to add to the seasoning, adjust to taste)

Method:

  1. Squeeze off excess liquid from mushroom and trim off the stems. Cut into 1/2, 1/3 or 1/4 size if desired.
  2. Season the mushroom with the seasoning and mix well. Let it stand for at least 20 minutes.
  3. Heat up a deep pan and fry garlic until aromatic but not burn. Add mushrooms and quick stir to prevent sticking.
  4. Pour in chicken broth and let it boil. Turn heat down to medium, half cover, and cook until the sauce gets thicken. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Adjust seasoning to taste. Garnish with some blanched/steamed green vegetables i.e. broccoli, baby bok choy, mustard, lettuce etc… if desired for nicer presentation.

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Almond (Ice Box) Cookies

Almond (Ice Box) Cookies

I learned this super easy quick cookies from my friend Angela. It has very few ingredients and no tools is needed other than your hands, which means you just clean the bowl afterwards– That’s IT!! Better yet, the dough can be made ahead of time and chilled until ready to bake (I tried chilling mine 2 days in the fridge but you can freeze it for a longer life). Although the look is not as fancy as cut-out cookies, but ice box cookies really save lots of time and none of the dough goes to waste! The flavor is rich, buttery and yet fluffy at the same time… what a perfect match with a cup of tea!  If I were having a tea party, this irresistible cookies is definitely on my menu.

Almond Cookies Recipe (makes 40 pcs)

Ingredients:
8 oz (2 sticks) butter at room temperature
1 3/4 cup flour
1 cup ground almond (orig. recipe calls for 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt

Method:

  1. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl, add butter and vanilla extract. Use both hands to rub butter into flour mixture to form a dough (do not knead!). Shape the dough into cylinder, wrap up and chill in the fridge to harden. (This will make it easier to slice the cookie dough and also prevent the cookies from spreading out too much during baking. Alternatively you can use cookie cutter to cut out the dough).
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Unwrap cookie dough and slice into 1/4 inch thickness. (Feel free to brush egg wash or make impression on the top). Line on cookie tray and bake for 20-22 minutes, or until lightly brown. Leave cookies in tray for 2 minutes before transferring onto cooling rack. Store in air tight container.

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Saute Eggplant with XO Sauce

Saute Eggplant with homemade XO Sauce

Sharing with you an eggplant dish I made using homemade XO sauce. My eggplant dish is usually brownish but this time I managed to maintain some of its beautiful purple color.  I love my eggplant when the flesh is brown from sauteing in hot smoky wok and tender– it has a mild sweet flavor that somehow reminds me of fried ripe banana. I didn’t have any extra ground pork this time so I skipped it and just used XO sauce– it turned out just as delicious!

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