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Category Archives: Cooking

Holiday Drinks — infused Volka and Irish cream liqueur

1. Irish cream liqueur ( Just blend well all the ingredients below with 2 cups Irish whiskey)

1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup heavy cream
4 eggs
2 Tbls. chocolate syrup
2 tsp. instant espresso
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract

2. Infused vodka

Got a Texas local vodka (trying to be green:). Add favoring and steep! For each 750ml vodka,

Cucumber-lime: 1 seedless English cucumber and 1 lime peel
Pineapples: 1 1/2 cup fresh  pineapple chunks
jalapeño-lavender: 3 halved and seeded jalapeños and 1 fresh lavender
Refrigerate until the vodka reaches the desired level of infusion, at least 3 days and up to 1 week. Strain then  decant. KHoliday_drinkseep refrigerated for up to 2 months.

 
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Posted by on December 25, 2012 in Cooking

 

冲菜 wasabi-flavor vegetable — surprises from our Garden

After our second child was born, my parents came to Austin from the other side of Pacific to give us some support. Except taking care of the little baby which they really enjoyed (they enjoyed so much that they think I should have the third one now :)), they could not really adapt to the life in the states. So to kill their extra time, they started to plant Chinese mustard green (小芥菜)vegetables on our vegetable beds (well, originally flower beds). The whole vegetable garden idea turned out to be a huge success. By just watering them, we have unlimited supply of Chinese mustard green throughout the whole summer without fertilizing the dirt.
My parents left after my baby turned one year old. And that vegetable garden was the last on my priority list. In fact, I totally forgot about it! A few days ago, my husband came in from backyard and said, “Babe, you might want to take a look at our vegetable beds. There are enormous green plants growing tall. They don’t look like weeds.” So I went out for the very first time to the vegetable garden six months after my parents left. Wow, what a nice surprise! The Chinese mustard greens grows so much on their own even without watering! Some of them are so mature that I will leave them for seeds’ harvest later. Still I have more than a basket full of Chinese mustard greens.

I decide to make a dish that is special from my hometown and one of my favorites in our family cooking: 冲菜 pungent vegetable. The Chinese mustard green at its young stage has very mild bitter taste. To make 冲菜 pungent vegetable, we need more mature vegetables, sometimes with flowers. The steps are simple and the final dish has medium to sharp taste that produces vapours that stimulate the nasal passages, like wasabi.  I have never made this dish before, so I called my parents and got the instructions:

1. Wash your Chinese mustard greens throughly and air dry them in a shaded area, not directly under the sun light. I put it on a wire shelves and put it out before go to work in the morning and it is nicely dry in the afternoon after work.

2. Mince the stems and leaves into small pieces.

3. Use a frying pan (make sure it is dry and oil free!) and medium to high heat. Put the vegetables in and stir until the temperature is evenly distributed and vegetables become drier but still green.

4. Turn off the heat and transfer into a big bowl. Use utensil to FIRMLY press the vegetables to be a tight block in the bowl.

5. Leave it over night in refrigerator or wait it until it cools down.

6. Mince some garlic cloves and put the garlic and chilli power in the heated hot oil. Once you can smell the fragrance, put in vegetables and quickly stir them loosen. Season with salt.

Here you go. Make Sure to grab some napkins before you start to eat. 🙂

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2012 in Cooking

 

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Honey grapefruit tea 蜂蜜西柚茶

We have finally passed the summer season of Austin. The temperature is ranging from 70s to mid 80s, very comfortable. But recent pollen levels from mold and weed are quite high. Husband and two boys have been coughed quite a bit. So I made some honey grapefruit tea this weekend to help sooth their dry and itchy throats.

This tea is originally made from pomelo (also called shaddock) 柚子. Pomelo is the largest citrus fruit, full of antioxidants. Rong Xian (容县), Yangshuo (阳朔) and Lingui (临桂), these small towns in my home province in China, Guangxi, is famous for Shatian pomelo (沙田柚, literally sandy field pomelo). It tastes like a mild grapefruit but less bitter: the membranous material around the segments are very rough, much bitter, and inedible. It is a great source of Potassium, and a very good source of Vitamin C and Hesperidin, Vitamin P.

I couldn’t find pomelo this time in Chinese Markets, so I used grapefruits, that is a hybrid of pomelo and orange. Their main nutrition value are very similar. The only thing is that grapefruit segments are bitter due to more amount of Naringenin, so we need to do a few extra steps to get rid of the bitterness.

1. Wash grapefruit thoroughly. If you have raw sea salt, rub them again the grapefruit peels to get rid of the wax.

2. Use a Peeler to get the outside grapefruit peels off. Try your best to only get the orange/red zest part, not the white part. Then rinse all the peels in water, add some salt into the water. After two hours, rub the peels using your hands, then drain the water (the water will look greenish orange). Put fresh water in, add some salt again. The less bitter you want, the longer time the peels should soak. I personally prefer to have a bit bitter flavor. I also love the smell of the peels, very refreshing.

3. While soaking the peels, we use our fingers to get rid of the think white membranous parts. The use your knife to get the segments out. Discard the rest.

4. Try taste a bit the water that you soak grapefruit zest in. If you can take the bitterness, then drain the water and cut the zest into very thin strips.

5. High heat to boil a pot of water, add some salt and cook the zest for 5 minutes or so. Drain the water. Put a pot of fresh water on the stove, add some sugar (I like to use big sugar crystals) and add zest.

6. When the zest become half-transparent, add the segments in and turn the heat to low. After the water is slowly evaporated, turn off the heat.

7. After the cooked grapefruits cool, put into a sealed container and add some honey. Put into refrigerator for 2-3 days. When drinking, spoon out some grapefruit tea and add luke warm water and enjoy!

Tips:

1) When make honey grapefruit tea, add warm water. Because very hot water will damage the nutritious components in honey, while cold water is hard to dissolve honey.

2) According to Chinese herbal medicine, drinking this tea consistently is very beneficial:

  • refreshing and help digestion (V.C. and citric acid)
  • sooth the sore throat and nourish the lung
  • clarify, lighten skin tone or provide an even skin complexion by lessening the concentration of melanin. Beauty drinks, ladies!!
 
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Posted by on October 25, 2012 in Cooking

 

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Ginseng Chicken Soup 参鸡汤

Weekends always go by faster than you can imagine. We need to charge up for the beginning of next week’s battle. Since I have finished review, I would go for a more natural way.)

Traditional Chinese soup is very nutritious and thin in texture. I always feel more comforting and satisfied after having a bowl of soup and don’t feel like my stomach dragged down by heavy food. Plus, it is so easy to make — the pot made the most of the efforts, not me!
Material: a small Cornish hen, 4 or 5 dried ginseng roots, dried red dates, dried Goji berries, dried, lotus seeds, dried shiitake mushrooms, a small apple (optional),  dried chestnuts (optional) and 1/4 cup of sweet rice (optional;  added to make the soup a bit thicker).

Tip: A small apple will give the soup more flavor and covers up the ginseng smell a little bit. I personally like ginseng smell but kids can’t take it too much.

1. Clean the chicken and rinse all the dry materials with water. Chop the small apple into pieces.

2. Put everything into a pot except the red dates (Tip: put red dates too early will give soup subtle sour taste).  Put plenty of water (at least 2 inch above the food) to cover the materials. Put the heat on.

Pot choices: clay pot is ideal and make the soup taste the best but require good skills on controlling the heat: high heat to boil and then reduce to low heat for 3 hours. I use an electronic pot called “instant pot” which is a multifunction pot  with options “soup/congee/stew/grains/steam/slow cook”. An ordinary soup pot will do the same, you just need to pay attention to and check constantly with the heat. A slow-cooker is also convenient in the sense that you don’t have to watch all the time.

3. Put red dates in the soup 15 minutes when the soup is ready before you plan to turn off the heat. For the instant pot I use, I need to wait it cool a bit and let the steam out to reduce the pressure inside in order to open the lid safely. Then transfer the soup into another pot, put the red dates in, cook another 15 minutes. Salt to taste before serving.

 

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2012 in Cooking

 

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Pot-roasted pork with green beans 豆角焖肉 AND black-bean tomato noodls 豆豉蕃茄肉丝面

Weekend is here, more time to cook. I bought some Kimchi soup pork chunks from a Korean grocery store two days ago. Looking into my refrigerator, I found a package of pre-washed green beans and two tomatoes. So here we go: the fun of cooking is to experiment with what we have.

I have tried a couple of times to make my 1.5 yr old to eat green beans and have not been successful. Today I did it! He shoveled down a lot of the green beans. Yes meat-flavored green beans are still green beans. 🙂

Pot-roasted pork with green beans

Materials: one pound of  Pork chunk (with a bit fat is best), one bag of pre-washed green beans, salt, soy sauce, cooking wine, 2 slices of ginger root, big crystal sugar, Szechuan peppercorns, Star anise, Cinnamon bark

1. Marinate pork chunks with soy sauce, a table-spoon of oil and two table spoons of cooking wine for 20 minutes.

2. heat a fry pan with medium high heat (no need to put oil since there is oil when marinating pork), put pork chunks and ginger roots,  Szechuan peppercorns, Star anise, Cinnamon bark in and stir well. After a couple of minutes, add 1/2 cup of water and reduce heat to medium. Stir and add more water as needed.

3. After the meat chunks are slightly roasted (you can smell the aroma, so nice!), add another table-spoon soy sauce and sugar crystals and stir well. Add another 1/2 cup of water, cover the pan and reduce heat to medium low.

4. When the meat is simmering, cut all the green beans into 3/4 inch pieces. Open the pan cover and add the green beans and some salt. Stir well and cover the pan again.

Now we just need to wait the meat and green beans cooked until tender. Watch constantly in case the water level is so low that the food will get burn. Add water as needed until the pork and green beans tender.

 

black-bean tomato noodles 豆豉蕃茄肉丝面

Materials: minced garlic, preserved black beans (one handful), two bamboo shoots, two or three tomatoes, some green-leaf vegetables, sweet potato starch (1 Table spoon), meat (pork, beef or chicken as you wish. grounded or cut into thin strips), some chicken-leg mushrooms, salt, white pepper power,  light soy sauce and one table-spoon of miso paste

1. Heat a pan with medium-high heat, saute garlic and preserved black beans until fragrant. Add chopped meat and white pepper power , saute for a few minutes and add bamboo shoots and chopped chicken leg mushrooms.

2. Sprinkle some light soy sauce and the miso paste. Add chopped tomato and stir until some tomato juice comes out. Add water until it covers the mixture. Turn down the heat to medium and let it simmer.

3. When the food is simmering, fill a medium pot with water and put on high heat. Drip some oil in the water. When the water is boiling, put the green leafy vegetables for 2 or 3 minutes, then take the vegetable out and out into a empty bowl for later use. Add more water and when it is boiling again, add noodles. Stir occasionally. Add cold water if the water boiling too much!

4. When the meat, mushroom and black beans cooked, mix sweet potato starch with some water and put into the pan. Stir and turn the heat off. The starch will make the soup-like mixture a bit thicker.

5. Turn off the heat for the pot  once the noodles are cooked. Drain the water and soak the noodles in cold water (put some ice cubes in if you have. This will prevent the cook noodles stick to each other. Drain the iced water out.

6. Now take a plate, put noodles on bottom, put green leafy vegetables on top and spoon out the black bean meat tomato sauce!

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2012 in Cooking

 

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golden corn pancakes 香香玉米饼

Another lazy/easy snacks for kids.

1) cut the kernels from the fresh corn cobs, mince the asparagus and orange peppers

2) mix in some flour and water. I use whole wheat flour.

3) mix in one or two eggs and spice the mixture!

4) add a couple drops of sesame oil if you have it.

5) heat a pan with medium heat. spoon in the mixture and wait until one side is slightly brown. Turn over and also slightly brown the other side.

Enjoy after they get cool! I use also same procedure to make some Lima bean pancakes, except you don’t even need to chop!

 

 

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2012 in Cooking

 

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Emerald Golden Roll (翡翠黄金卷)

My kids won’t eat other vegetables voluntarily, except broccoli and spinach. Well, in fact I should say they wouldn’t refuse to eat these two kinds. As a Mom and veggie lovers, I need to do more tricks to hide the veggies. Here is one dish that they both love. And it is so simple that every one can make it. There is a big difference between Chinese cooking and Western cooking. Western recipes always specify the accurate measure of everything thing, including weight, volume, temperature and time. Although recent years Chinese recipes also tend to follow the  trend, but Chinese home cooking and old recipes won’t specify the accurate measure. Instead they usually use the words, such as “a little; some; proper amount “. You have to  decide how much to put in depending on your own preference. So Chinese cooking is more an art. There is no an exact same dish from different homes.

1. Mince any kind of vegetables that you wish to hide, such as kales, tulip green and spinach etc. Here I use spinach. Then mix with lean ground pork (chicken is fine too) . Add an egg white for tender texture. Keep the yolk for later use. Then spice with the mixture with salt, chick stock powder, ground black pepper. 切碎蔬菜,和瘦碎猪肉拌匀。加点油,盐,白胡椒和鸡精。想要肉更嫩的话。放一个蛋的蛋清。蛋黄留着备用。

2. Beat three or four eggs well, put the egg yolk from  step 1. and mix well. 打三到四个蛋,加上步骤1的蛋黄。

3. Heat a non-stick pan with medium heat. Add some grape seed oil and tilt your pan to ensure the oil cover the whole bottom or use oil spray. Add certain amount of beaten eggs, make sure the mixture spread nicely to form a thing layer. Once this thin egg layer is not running and forms a wrap, turn off the heat. 中火烧热不粘锅,加油。我用的葡萄籽油。加适量蛋液,左右摇摇锅让蛋液形成一层薄薄的蛋皮即可关火。

4. Wait the egg wrap cool down a little, spoon some meat/veggie mixture from step 1. and spread well on the egg wrap. Roll the egg wrap and cut into 3/4 inch pieces. 蛋皮冷却后,把步骤1中的蔬菜肉末摊在蛋皮上卷起。切成小段码在碗中。

5. Put those pieces into a steamer and steam for 15 minutes until the meat is cooked. 放在蒸锅中蒸15分钟直到肉熟。

You are done! I spent 20 minutes before steaming. I have some extra meat/veggie mixture left, so I made two patties and fried them in the pan. Enjoy!

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2012 in Cooking

 

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