My family loves this Chinese soup, especially on a cold day. Ethan would always add LOTS of ground white pepper to his bowl of soup. We used to visit a local Chinese restaurant called Daimo, and we would order this soup almost every time. Too bad the restaurant changed ownership and the soup didn’t taste good. The restaurant even closed down later on. My kids are not fans of green onion and cilantro in general, but they like the green stuff in the soup!… This is good because this soup without lots of green onion and cilantro doesn’t taste right…

West Lake Beef Soup 西湖牛肉羹

West Lake Beef Soup 西湖牛肉羹

West Lake Beef Soup 西湖牛肉羹


1 1/4 lb beef– chop into coarse ground with some slightly big pieces

Meat seasoning:
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp tapioca/corn starch
3 tbsp water

5 cups water
3 tbsp rice cooking wine
Starch water (mix 2 tbsp tapioca/corn starch with 1 tbsp water, stir well before use)
Salt and ground white pepper to taste
3 egg whites
2 stalks green onion– chopped
1/2 bunch cilantro– chopped


  1. Season beef with meat seasoning, mix well. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Bring 5 cups of water to a boil on high heat. Add in beef, stir to loose up the meat. When the soup boils again add cooking wine, followed by starch water while stirring the soup.
  3. When the soup starts boiling again, add salt and ground white pepper to taste. Pour in egg whites while stirring the soup. Turn off heat and add in green onions and cilantro. Serve immediately.

Regina’s Note:

  • Egg White: Do not whisk egg white as it will create egg white bubbles in the soup.

We had a big bag of Bing cherries from our cherry U-pick back in last May, sitting at the bottom of my freezer. In an attempt to clean it out of my freezer in a glorious way, I had planned to make cherry pie as dessert, to go with Honey Baked Ham dinner on Christmas Day.

Perfect, right?


I got sick… (and never been happier that Walgreen is open on Christmas Day!)

Needless to say, no pie on Christmas Day.

And then my children were taking turn getting sick. My pie mood was fading away, just thinking about the hassles of making two pie crust, fitting into pie pan, seal the edge, slit the top… (and cross my fingers that bottom crust is not soggy when it’s baked)… All too much for just making a cherry pie.

Then I suddenly thought of ONE word: GALETTE– The easy, open face pie with a rustic look. Yes!

I walked to the kitchen, put on my apron, rolled up my sleeves…

Hours later, five happy satisfied faces walking out of the kitchen. Happy New Year!

Sweet Cherry Galette

Sweet Cherry Galette (yields 1 galette, 4-6 serving)


For the Crust:
1 1/2 cup flour
3 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter– dice into small cubes and freeze until ready to use
3-5 tbsp ice water

For the Filling:
4 cups Bing cherries, pitted (see note below)
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon
1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1 tbsp cornstarch

1 egg– beaten for egg wash
Turbinado sugar– for sprinkle on top


  1. Sift flour, sugar and salt into a mixing bowl. Add frozen butter. Use fingers to break butter apart and rub into flour, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  2. Add just enough ice water, one tbsp at a time, until the dough just incorporated. Do not knead. Shape the dough into a disc. Wrap the dough with plastic wrap, chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
  3. Combine all filling ingredients in a different bowl.
  4. Roll out chilled pie dough to 12-14 inch diameter. Piling cherries to the center of the dough using a spoon. Spoon in 1 tbsp of the juice if desired but not all, as it will flood the galette, thus higher chance of soggy crust. Use a paper towel to soak up the juice if it’s flowing out the dough.
  5. Fold in the edge of the dough. Apply egg wash over the edge and sprinkle turbinado sugar. Bake in preheated 425F oven for 35-45 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.

Regina’s Note:

  • Butter: To produce flaky baked goods like pies, scones and biscuits, butter needs to be chilled and worked quickly into flour (so it will remain cold). I like to dice my butter into small cubes then freeze it before use. I take the frozen butter cubes (straight from freezer) and break apart in the flour. The small cube size not only speeds up freezing time, but also makes it easy to break apart/rub in flour even just with fingers.
  • Cherries: If you use frozen cherries like I did, be sure to thaw the cherries first. Drain the juice really well, because when lemon juice and sugar were added later, more liquid will draw out.
  • Baking position: Although the bottom crust wasn’t soggy, it could be browned more. Next time I should try changing baking position– bake galette at lower rack for maybe 25 minutes to brown bottom crust, then switch to upper rack for remaining baking time to brown the top.

Blackberry Jam

If you’re into making jam, you’ll know the amount of sugar that goes into it… it’s CRAZY!! Even for low sugar recipes it’s still calls for too much sugar for my liking. I tried to cut down even more sugar with low sugar recipes, but then my jam won’t jell properly, producing a thin flowing spread… Other times the jam jelled too much and it’s s bit difficult to spread.

Well, no more of this hit or miss! While I was looking for liquid pectin (in hope to use pectin in a more flexible way for making very small batch of jam like 2-3 small jars), I stumbled upon Pomona’s Universal Pectin on an online forum. What’s so special about Pomona’s Pectin? Several things: it uses calcium instead of sugar to activate the jelling, which means way less sugar used and thus yielding a more fruity flavor. Honey or other sweetener can also be used instead of sugar. I can create my own jam recipes without worrying how much sugar to use to reach the jelling point, and not to mention small batch versatility. I ordered my Pomona’s Pectin on Amazon, but someone mentioned Whole Foods carries the product. Don’t be scared by its price, because one packet of Pomona’s can make A LOT of jam (22 eight-ounce jars)!

Enough talking. Here’s the verdict of my very first trial with Pomona’s Pectin:

1. Shape– the spread is nice and easy, not too thick not too thin.

2. Flavor– definitely more of the fruit flavor with light sweet taste. I used sweet blackberries this time so the jam is more on sweet rather than tangy side despite of lemon juice concentrate used. Depending what fruit you used and what additional flavor (tangy v. sweet, besides the fruit flavor), adjust the amount of lemon juice and sugar accordingly.

Blackberry Jam

Blackberry Jam (using Pomona’s Universal Pectin– makes 2 1/2 eight-ounce jars)


2 cups mashed sweet blackberries

1 tsp calcium water– prepare as directed per Pomona’s Pectin, see note below

2 tbsp lemon juice concentrate– see note below

3/4 cup sugar

1 tsp Pomona’s Universal Pectin– see note below


Sterilize the jars– put jars, lids and rings in a pot filled with water to cover the parts. Bring to a boil then turn off heat. Keep the parts in hot water, this will prevent the glass jars from cracking when filling with hot jam later.

While the jars are sterilizing, make the jam– add mashed fruits, calcium water and lemon juice concentrate to a sauce pan. Stir to mix well. Bring to a full boil on high heat. Mix together sugar and pectin in a separate bowl. When the fruits mixture is boiling, pour in sugar mixture, and stir vigorously 1-2 minutes while it returns to full boil again. Turn off the heat.

Remove jars, lids and rings from hot water. Carefully spoon in jam into the jars, leaving about 1/2 inch space at the top. Wipe off any jam spills on the rim with a paper towel. Place the lids and rings on, loosely screw the rings (this allows air to escape during water bat

Chocolate Muffins with Cream Cheese Filling (makes 12 muffins)


1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
10 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter— melted
2 eggs— room temperature
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
8 tbsp (1/2 block cream cheese)— cut into 12 pieces


  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line muffin molds with muffin liners.
  2. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine eggs, whipping cream and vanilla extract. Whisk to blend well.
  4. Pour cream mixture, melted butter into flour mixture. Use a spatula, gently FOLD IN until the batter just incorporated. Don not over mix. Gently fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Spoon batter into muffin molds to half full. Gently press in cream cheese pieces. Cover with remaining batter to the top of muffin molds.
  6. Bake in preheated 375F oven for 20-30 minutes. Remove muffins from molds and cool on a rack.

Tired of typical sweet Scones? Try this savory good eat. Calabrese is a type of salame named after a region in southern Italy. It is mildly hot due to the addition of red pepper flakes. I also used fresh jalapeno peppers to make my scones spicier. If you can’t find hot Calabrese you can always use pepperoni.

Hot Calabrese and Jalapeño Scones

Hot Calabrese and Jalapeño Scones

Hot Calabrese and Jalapeño Scones (makes 12 Scones)

2 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter– chilled, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup toasted walnuts– corsely chopped
1 cup shredded cheese (jack, Cheddar)
3/4 cup chopped hot Calabrese 
1 jalapeño– chopped

2/3 cup whipping cream
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a big bowl. Mix to blend well.
  3. Rub chilled butter into flour mixture with your fingers to resemble coarse crumbs. Stir in walnuts, Calabrese and jalapeño.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together whipping cream, eggs and vanilla extract to blend well. 
  5. Reserve 2 tbsp of egg mixture for egg wash, pour the remaining to flour mixture all at once. Use a spatula gently FOLD IN until it mostly incorporates (it’s okay if there is still some dry flour visible). Do not over mix the dough. Transfer dough out to a generously floured surface. 
  6. Use your hand to quickly form the dough into a ball. Avoid kneading.  Cut the dough in half to form two separate balls. Flatten each ball to 1 1/2– 2 inch thickness, then divide into 6 wedges on each. 
  7. Place each dough wedge on lined baking tray, 3 inches apart. Brush the top with reserved egg wash. Bake in preheated oven for 15-18 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Cool on a rack completely before storing in a container.

Regina’s Note:

  • Hot Calabrese: Use pepperoni if you can’t find hot Calabrese.
  • Egg Wash: Instead of wasting an egg for egg wash, I like to use whipping cream as it also gives the baked good a sheeny look.
  • Reheat Scones: To taste the best texture of a scone, it is best to reheat cooled scones briefly (325 F for 3-5 minutes) to capture the flaky exterior crumbs while the interior is fluffy and soft.

Pineapple and coconut (and that rum too… shhh!)… Oh yes, say no more, you’re in tropical heaven.

Pina Colada Muffins

Pina Colada Muffins~ fluffy and moist, with a hint of rum flavor. Bake these muffins 1-2 minutes longer if you want crunchier muffin top as pictured.

Pina Colada Muffins (makes 12 muffins)

1/2 cup chopped dried pineapples– in small pieces– see note below
3 tbsp water
2 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup dried coconut flakes– toasted– see note below
2/3 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp golden rum
2 eggs– room temperature
1/2 cup (1stick) unsalted butter– melted and cooled


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degree F. Line muffin molds with muffin cup papers.
  2. Combine pineapple and water in a small bowl. Cover and microwave for 30 seconds to soften. Set aside for the pineapple to soak up all the liquid.
  3. In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder, salt and both types of sugars. Press brown sugar crumbs through the sieve if needed. Mix in toasted coconut flakes.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together whipping cream, rum and eggs to combine.
  5. Pour egg mixture and melted butter, all at once, to flour mixture. Use a spatula, gently fold in until just combined.
  6. Add in pineapples, fold in a couple of times. Do not over work the batter.
  7. Spoon batter into lined muffin molds. Bake at preheated 400 F oven for 20-22minutes, or until the top springs back when touched. Remove from oven and cool on a rack.

Regina’s Note:

  • Pineapples: I used dried pineapple rings. If canned pineapples is used, use less sugar as canned pineapples are much sweeter than dried pineapple rings.
  • Coconut flakes: I used unsweetened dessicated coconut flakes. If you use sweetened coconut flakes, cut down the amount of sugar.
  • Baking time: Bake muffins 1-2 minutes longer if you want crunchier muffin top.

Why “Three-Cup”? It refers to one cup of sesame oil, one cup of soy sauce and one cup of rice wine. Of course, this amount is for cooking a lot of chicken. When you are cooking for less chicken, be sure to scale down these three ingredients to 1:1:1. Oh, and basil leaves is a MUST– the basil fragrance really enhances this dish.

Three-Cup Chicken 三杯鷄

Three-Cup Chicken 三杯鷄… Yum! The sauce is so finger licking good that you’ll want to refill your rice bowl.

Three-Cup Chicken 三杯鷄 (serves 2)


12 chicken wing mid joints– cut into half — see note below
2 tsp salt
3 slices ginger– thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic– chopped
3 hot red peppers– chopped
2 tbsp sesame oil– see note below
3 tbsp rice wine
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
Handful of Thai basil leaves– see note below


  1. Wash mid joints and remove any tiny pieces of broken bones.  Season with salt for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat a wok on high heat and pour in sesame oil. When the wok gets smoky, add in chicken pieces. Sauté on high heat until the chicken turns lightly brown and the meat is almost cooked.
  3. Add in ginger, garlic and pepper. Sauté until the aroma comes out.
  4. Stir in rice wine and soy sauce. Turn down the heat a little, and stir until the meat is cooked through and sauce thicken slightly (if your meat is more on the raw side, you can also cover with a lid at this step so the meat cooks faster).
  5. Add in basil leaves. Stir a few times until basil leaves soften. Dish out. Serve hot immediately with steamed rice.

Regina’s Note:

  • Chicken Mid Joints: I am not good at making big chop with my cleaver knife– the bones always never have a clean cut and the meat pieces are sometimes crumbly… and not to mention the raw meat juice splashing everywhere on my kitchen counter. So, my solution is chopping the wing mid joint when they half frozen, without washing– the process is much easier to manage and way less splashing. Wash the meat and remove any tiny broken bone pieces after chopping. Alternatively you can use boneless chicken thigh pieces, but I prefer bone-in for better flavor.
  • Sesame Oil: Typically the amount of sesame oil is same as rice wine and soy sauce, but I cut down to 2 tbsp (you can even use 1 tbsp) and use chicken fat rendered from high heat sautéing.
  • Thai basil leaves: After adding basil leaves to cooking, cook briefly until the leaves soften then dish out so the fragrance of the leaves stay with the meat.