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Archive for March, 2013

This appetizer is even easier than cucumber appertizer that I posted before. If you like five spiced tofu, give it a try!

Five Spiced Tofu Appertizer

Five Spiced Tofu Appetizer

Five Spiced Tofu Appetizer Recipe

Ingredients:
4 pieces five spiced tofu
1 clove garlic– chopped
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
2 tbsp thick soy sauce– see note below
1 tbsp sesame oil
dash of ground white pepper
dash of chili powder

Method:

  1. Boil tofu in water for a few minutes. Remove tofu and dice into small pieces. While the tofu is hot, toss in remaining ingredients, mix well. Let it sit for 30 minutes before serving so the tofu soak in the flavors. Serve at cold or room temperature.

Regina’s Note:

  • Thick soy sauce: This Taiwanese style thick soy sauce can be found in Asian grocery stores that carry Taiwanese products. I like to use thick soy sauce for this dish because the soy sauce is not thin as regular soy sauce, less chance for diluting and more flavorful.

 

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This is a very easy, refreshing side dish to accompany any heavy flavored meat dishes. I like to use mini Persian cucumber, because its skin is not as thick as regular American cucumber. If you can’t find Persian cucumber, English cucumber works fine as well. Also, you can marinate the cucumbers for several days, but toss in soy sauce and other seasoning before serving.

Cucumber Appertizer

Cucumber Appertizer

Cucumber Appertizer Recipe

Ingredients:
6 Persian cucumbers
2 cloves garlic– chopped
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt

2 tbsp thick soy sauce– see note below
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 red hot pepper– chopped

Method:

  1. Remove both ends of cucumbers, cut into 1 inch length, then crush with the side of a knife to break open, remove the core.
  2. Put cucumber, garlic, vinegar, sugar and salt in a bowl. Stir around until sugar dissolves. Cover and marinate for at least 4 hours in the fridge (This can be done several days ahead– if planning for longer marinating time, use less vinegar and sugar)
  3. When it’s ready to serve, drain the cucumber and toss it with remaining ingredients. Serve at cold or room temperature.

Regina’s Note:

  • Cucumber: Choose cucumber that has thinner skin and smaller core, such Persian cucumber, Japanese cucumber or Hot House English cucumber. Pick a good firm cucumber and avoid those are slightly softer on both ends.
  • Thick soy sauce: This Taiwanese style thick soy sauce can be found in Asian grocery stores that carry Taiwanese products. I like to use thick soy sauce for this dish because the soy sauce is not thin as regular soy sauce, less chance for diluting and more flavorful.

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In Malaysia, this soup is called Sup Kambing. It is a very popular Indian hawker food in Malaysia. I had this soup in Malaysia only once– few years back my brother bought some sup kambing for me to try. At first I was skeptical but it turned out REALLY delicious. Ever since then I have been wanting to make this soup at home when I was back to U.S.

Making this soup requires a very good timing, as we Chinese believe lamb is a heaty– best for super cold winter days and when everyone in the household is healthy. I finally found the perfect weather for the soup, but didn’t know Richard was a little under the weather– so the next day Richard was sick with a flu with more severe symptoms. I didn’t not take too much of this soup, and drank plenty of water afterwards too.

Anyhow, back to the soup– Even though the soup doesn’t taste like the one I had in Malaysia, the flavor was wonderful with all that spices going into the soup. But I think I over cooked the lamb too long as they turned out dry. Well, there’s always next time (but in a long long while)…

IMG_3357

Malaysia Indian Style Lamb Soup (makes 6 servings):

Ingredients:

1 leg of lamb (partially bone in, about 3.5 lbs)– trim off excess fat, cut into bite size cubes, keep the bone
1 carrot– cut into bite size cubes
1 tomato– cut into bite size
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
2 quarts water

Blend with enough water to form a paste:
1 medium onion
8 shallots
6 garlic
1 inch fresh ginger

Toasted spices (toast before grinding together. If powder is used, toast briefly in a dry wok to bring out the flavor):
2 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tbsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp cumin seeds

1 cinnamon stick
3 star anise
10 cardamon (green)
6 cloves
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp red chili flakes (optional)

salt to taste
2 tbsp flour

Method:

  1. Heat 4 tbsp oil in a deep pot, fry blended onion paste several minutes until aromatic. Add in all the spices. Fry for 2 more minutes.
  2. Add in lamb pieces, keep frying until outside of the meat is cooked. Add in carrots, tomato, cilantro and water. Cook the soup, covered, on high heat for 15 minutes, then lower heat to medium low and cook for 1.5 hours or until the meat is tender. Do not cook the lamb too long or it will taste dry. Add salt to taste and sprinkle flour (while stirring) to thicken the soup. Serve the soup hot with fresh crusty bread.

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Our good friends Lance and Tina gave us some really big juicy tomatoes from their backyard, so I turned those tomatoes into marinara sauce because we use marinara sauce a lot when we prepare pasta dishes. The cooking process is not complicated, but just long so the liquid evaporates and the sauce thickens. For me it took me about 1.5 hours to cook the sauce, not too bad because I didn’t have to stay and stir the sauce constantly. I was busy preparing other food ingredients for lunch/dinner, and the next thing I knew the sauce was about done!

Home Made Marinara Sauce

Home Made Marinara Sauce

Home Made Marinara Sauce

Ingredients:
5 lbs really ripe tomatoes
3 cloves garlic– chopped
1 small onion– chopped
1/8 tsp crushed red chili flakes
salt to taste

Method:

  1. Prepare tomatoes: remove the stem part, make a cross cut at the bottom. Blanch tomatoes in boiling water for a minute or until the skin starts to peel off. Drain tomatoes and remove the skins. Put in a food processor and pulse chop tomatoes. Save the juice.
  2. Heat a deep pot on high heat and drizzle some extra virgin olive oil. Saute garlic and onion until aromatic. Stir in red chili flakes, tomatoes and juice. Cook on high heat for several minutes. Turn down to medium, and continue cooking until about 1/3 of the sauce left. Stir the sauce occasionally. Add salt to taste. When the sauce cools completely, it can be bagged into batches and kept frozen until ready to use.

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This is a new recipe I tried for my 2012 Christmas bake. I was hoping for a dark rich chocolate flavor with tangy tart cherry bites, but my shortbread turned out not chocolate-y enough both for the look and flavor, and the cherries were dried… maybe I baked it too long or the temperature was too high?… Anyhow, my recipe this time is a little messy with note-to-self’s everywhere. I need to fine tune the recipe, so there will be Cherry Chocolate Shortbread Bars version #2… 🙂

Cherry Chocolate Shortbread Bars

Cherry Chocolate Shortbread Bars

Cherry Chocolate Shortbread Bars

Ingredients:

2 sticks (4oz each) unsalted butter– soften
1 cup icing sugar
2 cups flour– maybe down to 1 1/2 cup?
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder– maybe up to 1/2 cup?
2 tbsp dry whole milk powder
1 tbsp tapioca starch– maybe skip?
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup dried cherries– coarsely chopped

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a small jelly roll pan with parchment paper.
  2. Cream butter and sugar until smooth. Combine flour, cocoa powder, tapioca starch and salt in a bowl.
  3. Turn mixer speed to low, gradually add in flour. Mix to combine ( maybe better if mix with fingers like making pastry for Malaysia pineapple cookies?). Add in dried cherries. Stir to mix well. Form a dough.
  4. Roll the dough between two sheets of plastic wrap to the size of jello roll pan. Transfer dough to the pan, adjust to fit the pan evenly. Use a fork to prick the top. Bake for 30 minutes.
  5. Cool in the pan on a rack completely. Drizzle top with melted chocolate (extra) if desired. Remove from the pan, cut into cookie bar sizes. Store in air tight container.

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