August 31, 2008

My love for flat noodles

Boo! I tried to make a carrot "flower" with 5 petals, but somehow only ended up with 4 petals!

This stir fry was good, but I'd prefer veggie ingredients in it. Too bad, it was the end of the weekend and my fridge was empty.

Oh I love flat noodles. So satisfying to eat with its chewy-soft texture. I'm craving drunken noodle (same flat noodle) as I am writing this up!

August 26, 2008

Happy Birthday equals...

...Happy Cake Day! (According to my niece's thinking.)

I'm gonna sound old, but kids grow up so fast, don't they? I remember when she was just a newborn, and now she's starting school next year!

My niece told me the cake was so so yummy, and asked me to make her a happy birthday cake again tomorrow night. ^_^

I like making kids happy with cakes since I only got one cake ever for my birthday growing up. Cake cake cake! I'm the sweet cake auntie for the kids now.

August 21, 2008

One birthday, One cake- a strawberry sponge cake

Yes... another birthday cake. In fact, I'll be making yet another one next weekend too. ^_^

This cake came out so much better than the previous ones I've made! I think it's because I altered the ingredients slightly.

The recipe is still the same, except I used 110g of cake flour instead of 150g. The cake was softer. This time, I also whipped the eggs (both whites and yolks) longer, to incorporate more air into it. Whipping it on medium speed, rather than being extremely fast, will stabilize the air bubbles more... creating a more airy cake.

If you think making a whole cake one day is too labor intensive, then you can bake the sponge cake part the night before and wrap it in plastic wrap. All you gotta do the next day is whip up some whipped cream and decorate the cake. Happy cake eating!

August 17, 2008


With thousand year old eggs.

I like to fry up some scallions and ginger too, to mix into the congee. Add some soy sauce/fish sauce, sesame oil, and chili flakes. yummee!

Some people like congee loose and liquidy, but I prefer to have it thick and creamy (from the rice starches). One of my favorite things to eat on a cold day.

If you eat meat, you can saute some minced pork with garlic and add it into the congee. That would make it heartier.

August 15, 2008

Roast Chicken

For some reason, I like to roast chicken in pieces, rather than keeping it whole. I guess it's easier for me to handle, in turning, glazing, and crispening it up. You gotta chop it up in pieces anyway, right? My family never does the fancy carving thing at the table. Just pile it on a plate, and every one can eat without wait of carving.

I think this one came out much better than last time I did it. Ooh! I used a hoisin sauce glaze. Mmm Chinese BBQ sauce. The marinate was basically juiced ginger, garlic, pepper, fish sauce, dark soy sauce (for some color), sugar, 5 spice powder and sesame oil. It's best to marinate the chicken overnight in the fridge.

Covering the chicken with a piece of aluminum foil ("tenting" it) during the roasting also traps in the steam, to cook it more quickly and not to let the meat dry out. When it's done cooking, just remove the foil and spoon out all the juices from the chicken. Turn on the broiler, and the skin will crispen up with the glaze. Watch out, don't burn it!

August 13, 2008

Drunken Pear Frangipane Tart

Pear Frangipane a classic French tart- combining pears and almonds together to create a beautiful, velvety texture. It is delicious with café au lait or a cup of tea.

Frangipane is basically an almond filling. I made it by grounding toasted almond slivers (from TJ's) in my spice grinder, cleaned out, of course.

This is the recipe that I used, from here. I made some changes, like using less cloves and also substituting orange juice and water for raspberry lager when poaching the pears. So I guess this is just a tizzy pear tart with the bit of rum, and not really a drunken pear tart.

One more change was adding orange zest to the poaching liquid to make it more aromatic. Gives the pear a very nice orangey hue.

This tart is very easy to do. You can either make your own (almond) sweet pie crust, buy a sweet pie crust, or even use puff pastry for a "lighter" tart. Overall, I liked it, but regretted not adding some lemon juice over the sliced pears to give it some zing. It's good with a scoop of honey ice cream!

August 8, 2008

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Unlike Chinese spring rolls, Vietnamese spring rolls, or summer rolls are not fried. Although you can use the rice wrapper to wrap things like shrimp, pork, or crab meat, and dry them. They'll have a different kind of crispiness to them, compared to Vietnamese chả giò.

Many VN restaurants have adopted the wheat flour wrapper, in place of rice paper, to make the rolls crisper for a longer period of time. This makes it confusing for people to know between chả giò and egg rolls.

Anyway, whatever the name, just use the one that you'll remember easily and eat the ones you like.

I think I like to eat things that are colorful. Even though there are no carrots in summer rolls, I like the orange color peeking through, in place of shrimps, for the vegetarian version. The sauce is simply a mix of fried minced garlic, hoisin sauce, chili, soy sauce, and a bit of sugar. Then topped with some crushed peanuts. You can do a fish sauce combination too, of fish sauce, boiling water, garlic, sugar, lime, and Thai chilies.

August 4, 2008

Spicy Scrambled Eggs w/ Roti

Recently, I came across a blog that mentioned a recipe by Nigella Lawson. It was a recipe about spicy scrambled eggs with fried corn tortilla strips.

I thought that is a great idea to get some textural contrast and bring something new to scrambled eggs or an omelette. You can make it more of a meal with some beans or something too. Well, I like the idea, but would never have tortillas on hand around the house.

What I do happened to have, is some homemade spicy spinach roti. Rotis... tortillas... they're kind of similar. After frying up some strips of roti (until they're crunchy), simply add them into some eggs, onions, and chilies.

And these are some good eggs! I had them with whole wheat sourdough toasts, but you can make a sandwich of any kind. Maybe wrap them up in some roti- and have a fried roti in eggs, in a roti wrap? Mmm hehe ^-^

August 3, 2008

Sweet potato (X-calzones-X) pasties!

If you've ever had sweet potato pizzas at Emma's pizza, then you know that they're absolutely yummy. That is, unless you're a person that hates potatoes or non-traditional toppings.

Well, "inspired" by their sweet potato pizza, I decided to make my own too! But I'm stuffing all the tasty toppings- feta, caramelized onions, spinach, sweet potatoes, and sauce, all in calzones!

One batch of dough was whole wheat, and one batch was regular. I prefer the whole wheat ones much more...

At first I was planning to make mini-calzones, but they seemed too time consuming for that day. I decided to make smaller calzones instead, well smaller than the ones you'd get in a pizza shop or the giant tasteless ones I remember from my high school cafeteria.

I know these don't look like calzones, but they're my hybrid of potstickers/calzones. :D

Whatever the shape, they tasted good, but were missing some rosemary and other herbs to make them even tastier. I'd have to try making them again sometime, with herbs, and less filling.

[Edit: My good friend informed me these are pasties, not calzones. Scratch that! ^-^)

August 1, 2008

Vegetarian Tamarind Soup

Canh Chua Chay- literally meaning "sour vegetarian soup."

Canh chua (sour soup) is a very common dish in Vietnam. It can be made with a different kinds of fish (i.e. salmon, catfish) or shrimps. The sourness of the broth comes from flavoring it with tamarind, which go very well with seafood.

This soup typically consists of a medley of vegetables. They're tomatoes, pineapples, water spinach, okra, bean sprouts, broccoli, and bạc hà (or alocasia odora/giant upright elephant ear). I also like to add tofu and plantains, just because I like it.

This is one of my favorite soups to eat, whether on a hot or a cold day. Sipping a hot bowl of soup warms you up, yet the zesty tangy tamarind broth cools you down. Sadly, I didn't have any on hand, but adding herbs (long coriander and thai basil) and chilies to this kind of soup definitely make it better. It'll be a hot, sour, and spicy soup!

Chè đậu trắng

Chè đậu trắng is a Vietnamese sweet pudding.

Made with black-eyed peas (the legume, not the American hip hop group), sticky rice, and coconut milk, this dessert is usually offered to ancestors during Vietnamese New Year or other special holidays.

Coincidentally, did you know that black-eyed peas are traditionally eaten on New Year's Day in the American South and parts of the US too? However, they're cooked with bacon, ham, and meats, etc. The only place I've seen black-eyed peas in a dish in Vietnam is in dessert form.

I'd have to say that this is my least favorite of Vietnamese chè. The beans, I like in the dish. Maybe it's because of the mushy sticky rice that I don't like. Making it at home is better because I will make it less sweet, and adding ginger to the pudding also makes it tastier.