Monday, January 22, 2007

Gingko Dessert Soup

A gringo like GeneBob who is used to hamburgers and hotdogs probably has not heard of any kind of Asian dessert soups (tong sui in Cantonese), but I remember this soup being served at restaurants in Malaysia. I didn't know that it was possible to make this at home, until, of course, I met Khim. I didn't realize it was so easy to make. Got some really pretty looking gingko nuts this weekend at an Asian store, so I made this today.

4 bulbs white fungus
1/2 lb gingko nuts
a palmful of dried longan

Soak white fungus in a big bowl of water overnight. The next day, wash, and resoak for 2 hours. Then get rid of the water, cut off ugly/dirty spots, and cut white fungus into your desired size.

Shell gingko nuts and remove skin. Rinse gingko nuts. Rinse dried longan.

In a big pot, add gingko nuts, dried longan, and white fungus. Add enough water to cover all ingredients, and add 2 more cups of water. You can add as much or as little water as you like.

Bring to a boil, turn heat down to medium, let it simmer for 1 hour. Turn off heat, add sugar to taste.

Serve hot or cold.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Black Bean Pork Ribs

Hadn't had these for a long time. Used to get these at Dim Sum places, but there isn't a good dim sum place in the Dallas anymore, or at least not a clean one. Khim taught me how to make these some time ago. This time around, I used ginger juice instead of ginger strips.

1 1/2 lbs baby back pork ribs, cut into individual ribs
1 Tbsp ginger juice (grate ginger and squeeze out the juice)
2 tsp Chinese cooking wine
2 tsp salted black beans
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp corn starch

Rub salt all over pork ribs, and then rinse with water, pat dry, and put ribs in a big bowl. Add ginger juice, Chinese cooking wine, salted black beans, 1/2 tsp salt, sugar, and corn starch to ribs, mix very well with your hands. Let marinade for 45 minutes.

Heat up your steamer. Place ribs in a flat bowl, steam at high heat for 30-40 minutes.

Serve with noodles or rice.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Lean Pork Porridge

I was iced in today, and I didn't even know about this bad weather coming until I was woken up by my daycare teacher's phone call in the morning at 6:30 about our ISD closing.

What a good day to make some porridge, I thought! ;-) So I started cooking, I was going to make "Century Egg Lean Pork Porridge" (Pei Dan Sau Yook Jook in Cantonese) until I found out that my century eggs were all dried up. You would think the name "century egg" would mean that the eggs could be kept forever, at least for a century, and not turning bad, right?!

Without century eggs, my porridge turned out to be just "lean pork porridge".

1 cup white rice
13 cups water
1/4 lb lean pork, cut in strips, seasoned with salt for at least 45 minutes
5 dried scallops, soaked in hot water, shredded
white pepper
sesame oil
pickled vegetables (jar choy in Cantonese)

Soak rice in water in a big pot for an hour.

Bring rice and water to a boil, it will foam up, watch constantly so it doesn't spill over. When it's boiling, add pork and dried scallops. Turn heat down to low and let it simmer. Put the lid on the pot, but leaving a little gap for air to escape so it does not foam up.

Stir occasionally to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of your pot.

Cook for about an hour or until you get the consistency you want. Turn off the heat, add sesame oil and salt to taste, stir well.

Ladle porridge into a bowl, sprinkle some white pepper on it, and put a spoonful of pickled vegetables on top.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Malay Style Stir-Fried Rice Noodles

In Dallas, when there is a little ice/snow on the road, schools and businesses will be closed. But it's dry outside, with only some icycles hanging off of some cars.

Anyway, my noon meeting was canceled because of the icy condition on the roads, so I stayed home. Had to cook something or else I had nothing to eat.

3/4 lb shrimp, shelled, deveined, cut in half
4 cups cabbage, cut in shreds
1/2 lb pork loin, cut into strips, marinated with salt, cooking wine, and a little sugar
1 1/2 cups ground fresh red chilli peppers
1 1/2 cups ketchup
2 tsp belacan powder
rice noodles, soaked in water to soften
fried shallots for garnish

Heat enough oil in your pan at medium heat and add ground chilli peppers, ketchup, and belacan to it and stir fry for about 2 minutes.

Add pork strips, cabbage, and shrimp. Stir constantly until pork and shrimp are cooked.

Add about a cup of water to the pan, mix everything up. Put noodles in pan and stir until all liquid is absorbed and the color is even on all noodles. Add more water if necessary. Salt to taste if necessary.

Garnish with fried shallots (and/or fried eggs, cut in strips).

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Chinese Turkey Jerky

I didn't have ground pork, but I had some ground turkey, so I decided to give this a try.

20-oz lean ground turkey
1 Tbsp oyster sauce
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp Chinese cooking wine
150g sugar
1 tsp oil

Mix everything in a bowl until well combined, divide the mixture into two equal portions. Preheat oven to 250°F.

Line a 10x15 jelly roll pan with foil covering the bottom and all sides of the pan. Cut out a sheet of parchment paper big enough for the bottom of your lined pan, and another sheet of plastic wrap the same size. Place parchment paper on a flat surface, put one portion of the meat mixture on it, and then covering the whole parchment with plastic wrap.

Press on plastic wrap to spread the meat out on parchment until you get an even layer of meat throughout. Remove plastic wrap, place parchment with meat onto lined pan, put pan in oven.

Bake for 30 minutes, take it out, flip the piece of meat, increase oven temperature to 350°F, bake for 10 minutes. Watch closely to make sure it doesn't burn. When top is at the desired color/doneness, flip it over and bake until the surface is at the desired consistency.

Repeat the above for the second portion of meat.

Cut turkey jerky into pieces, broil at 250°F until top is shiny. Take care not to burn.

Please note that turkey puts out a lot of juice, a lot more than pork, so you will see your meat swimming in soup initially, but it will eventually dry up as you bake it.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Veggie Curry with Shrimp

Most of the Malaysian dishes that I cook now I learned from Khim. I didn't even know how to crack an egg when I first started college. Since there wasn't a single Malaysian restaurant here in Dallas, I thought I was never going to see Malaysian food again until I met Khim.

This is of course - Khim's recipe. Khim did not give me any exact amount of any ingredients, so I made up my own.

3 shallots, diced into small pieces
2 pieces of ginger
1 tomato
1 Chinese egg plant (long, not round), cut into pieces, leave skin on
4-5 long beans
2 stalks of lemon grass
3/4 cup of cubed pineapple
3/4 cup cabbage
2 star anise
curry leaves from 2 stalks
1 tsp roasted belacan
1 small bag fried tofu cubes (tau foo bok)
3 heaping tablespoons of seafood curry powder
1 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp hot chilli paste
2/3 can evaporated milk or coconut milk
2/3 lb shrimp, shelled and deveined, leaving tails on
  1. Cut all vegetables into your preferred sizes. Mix enough water into curry powder to make a paste. Smash lemon grass with the handle of your knife.
  2. Heat up oil in medium heat in your wok/pot, make sure you have enough oil to saute the following. Saute shallots for 1 1/2 minutes. Add curry powder paste, star anise, lemon grass, curry leaves, hot chilli paste, ginger, and roasted belacan. Saute until your curry powder smells toasty.
  3. Add all vegetables and mix to coat all vegetables, saute for 1 minute. Sprinkle some salt on all veggies, mix well.
  4. Add enough water to cover up all vegetables. Bring it up to a boil, add fried tofu cubes.
  5. Let it simmer until your egg plant is soft, add shrimp and pineapple and sugar. Salt again. Stir well.
  6. Add evaporated milk and mix well - do not let the milk overcook otherwise you will see small milk bits floating all over your curry. (This only happens with evaporated milk, coconut milk does not do that)
  7. Turn off heat. Serve hot with steamed rice.

Note: hot chilli paste is Homemade Ground Chillies in Oil from Little Corner Of Mine.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Alison's Birthday

My little girl turned 3! But if you ask her how old she is, she will tell you she's 5. :-D

Here's Alison's morning, started with her Mickey hat, still in her PJ.

We then went out to celebrate, and we came home to my homemade ice cream cake:

She sure was happy!

Here's a slice of Alison's birthday ice cream cake:

I'm not sure if there is a correct way to make ice cream cake. After trying out ice cream cakes from different places, I wasn't thrilled about any of them, so I decided to make my own. I made mine with no cake layer, just ice-cream layers. I started with a plastic container I got from Ikea - a really cheap one. And then I stole some vanilla bean ice-cream from my husband, and let it sit at room temperature until it was soft enough to spread. I lined my container with a plastic wrap first for easy removal later. Then I spreaded my first layer of ice cream onto the lined container. I put the whole thing back into the freezer to refreeze.

I went on doing my stuff, and then I came back to do the second layer. But I added a layer of caramel sauce first before proceeding with my second layer of ice-cream. After my second layer of ice-cream, I added some leftover Oreo cookie crumbs with butter that I made previously for a cheesecake, pressed it down, and then refroze.

I took my cake out this morning, after taking off the plastic wrap, the side didn't look nice at all, so I softened some chocolate ice cream to cover up the ugliness on the outside. I then used a triangular piece of waxed paper to make my piping cone, poured some melted chocolate into it, and I was on my way. The good thing about piping onto an ice-cream surface is that if you make a mistake with your chocolate, you just pick it up, eat that piece of chocolate and do it again.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Kuih Bingka

My cousin Lilian was talking about making Kuih Bingka from Lily's website a few days ago, that made me feel like eating it too, so I took out my cassava from my freezer to thaw in my refrigerator. Lilian actually made it from Lily's recipe, but she said it wasn't good, it was too eggy and greasy. She's quite a long way from me in AZ, I'm in Texas, so I couldn't try it myself.

Since my cassava was already thawed, I had to do something with it. I was going to try Lily's recipe, but now, I decided to go with an Old Faithful - Khim's recipe, with my modifications.

Kuih Bingka / Cassava Cake

2 lbs of grated cassava (or 2 bags from the freezer)
3/4 stick of butter, melted
2 eggs
310g sugar
1 cup coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8x8 pan with foil, grease the foil.

In a big bowl, combine sugar and eggs, mix well. Add vanilla extract, salt, and butter, and coconut milk, mix well. Add cassava, mix well.

Pour mixture into greased pan. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour. If the top is still not browned by 1 hour mark, switch your oven to broil and broil for 1 minute to brown the top. Check constantly to make sure it's not burnt.

Cool completely and cut into pieces.

New Year 2007 Baking at Lee's

Lee was so nice to open up her home again for us to bake. It was yesterday, January 2, 2007. The first thing that Lee told us when we got to her house was that her oven was busted, but she was waiting for the repairman to come fix it.

I brought a bowl of ready-made pineapple jam for Khim's pineapple cookies. Khim started to make her dough while I made the second batch of pineapple jam - short cut way, in the microwave:

2 20-oz cans of crushed pineapple
1 cinnamon stick
3 cloves
1 1/4 cups sugar (more or less, depending on how sweet your pineapple is)

Mix all ingredients, microwave on a Pyrex bowl for 15 minutes. Stir, microwave for 5 minutes, stir, microwave and stir again at 1-2 minute intervals until pineapple is dry.

Here are Phaik See, Sandra, and Khim shaping pineapple cookies:

Look at how much work it is to cut every single one to make them look like little pineapples:

I'm not a very patient baker, that was why I opted for the easy route, which you will see later.

The repairman came to fix the oven, Lee burned a fuse, but they fixed it real quick so we could get on with our baking project. By now we were all hungry for lunch, and the 2 late birds, Angeline and Vivian, finally showed up at lunch time. This was what we had for lunch, Lee made it:

What happened here? Someone already took a few cookies to sample:

So here's Khim's recipe for those interested in making Khim's Pineapple Cookies:

250 g butter, at room temperature
50g powdered sugar
1 egg yolk
360g all purpose flour
2 Tbsp custard powder (sub with cornstarch if you can't find custard powder)
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg and 1/8 tsp of salt for egg wash

Preheat oven at 350° F.

Beat butter and sugar at medium speed until well mixed. In a separate bowl, mix together all purpose flour and custard powder. Add egg yolk to butter/sugar mixture, mix well. Slowly add flour mixture and mix well to form a dough.

Pinch a little bit of dough out to form a little ball. Flatten the ball and put pineapple jam in the middle, seal it, reroll and shape into an almost oval like pineapple shape. Use scissors to cut the pattern, stick a clove on one end as the stem. Repeat until you finish using the dough.

Bake on a cookie sheet in oven for 15 minutes. Remove cookies from oven, brush with egg wash, bake for another 10-15 minutes until golden brown.

Okay, I was saying that I was not a patient baker, so this was the one I did, together with all the ladies, based on Cafe of the East's recipe:

Close-up look, including a couple of "Hello Kitty" ones by Sandra:

We also made some Kaya based on Cafe of the East Kaya recipe - we messed up, but we realized it and fixed it and ended up with some GREAT Kaya!! Didn't take any pictures because we were all about to leave and we were busy packing our snacks to take home with us. Will post a picture and the modified recipe when I make it later.