Friday, February 27, 2015

LEGO CUB SCOUT CAKE for Blue and Gold Celebration

It's that time of the year for each Cub Scout Pack to celebrate birthday of Cub Scouting at the Blue and Gold dinner.   My grandson was so happy that he has a chance to bake a special cake.  And he picked LEGO CUB SCOUT as a model.  This is how it turned out.
Chocolate chips for hair, he wanted.  

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Candied Kumquats

This is a good year for my dwarf kumquat tree.  Abundance of gold jewels covered it like no other year.   And I was very patient not to pick them until the Chinese New Year arrived.   But there are so much of them.  I checked out the ways to make candied winter melon on the YouTube and here it is - the solution for kumquats.  Make them into candied kumquats.

Taking a Break from the Kitchen

I found the beautiful wind chime sculpture quite inspirational and relaxing.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Making Chinese New Year MOCHI Cake

Happy Chinese / Lunar New Year!!
Every country has a different way of celebrating their New Year especially when it comes to food.   We learned while we lived in South Viet-Nam that friends and neighbors would purchase New Year cake as gifts during their "BAI NIEN" - meaning, we visit friends, family, neighbors to 'wish them a good year'.  Chinese New Year cake is made of glutinous rice flour - same as 'MOCHI' flour, brown sugar (they call it "red" sugar), red dates, or red beans, pork fats.   I never got used to the tiny bits of pork fats in them.  I remember poking them out with my fingers.  Anyways, thanks to modernization and availability of the glutinous rice powder at local Asian market, I can control what goes in it.  I wished the glutinous rice powder is Organic, Non-GMO, unbleached.  Maybe they will catch on in the next few years.

1.  A large Steamer that can hold water at least for 2 hours of steaming at high heat or check the post often without risking the loss of steam power and resulting in 'raw' cake << bad luck! @#~!
2.  Large Flour Sack Cloth
3.  Several removable bottom cake molds
     Spring load cake molds are easy for this purpose too.
4.  Cut Parchment paper to cover bottom and sides
5.  Brush Olive oil on parchment paper.  I am not making last year's mistake.  So, be sure to oil parchment paper even though you see the EVOO accumulating at the bottom.  These puddle will distribute itself all around once the cake mixture is added and during steaming.  This EVOO will assure easy removal of very sticky rice cake from the cake mold and allow you to remove it off the cake afterwards.
6.  Saran wraps
7.  a Couple of Baking sheets
8.  Large mixing bowls
9.  Measuring cup
10.  Kettle - Keep hot boiling water handy at all times.  You may need to refill your Steamer pot and you want the additional water to be boiling water
11.  Large Spatula

Basic Ingredients are easy, and I followed one of the cooking book that my mother gave me many years ago.
6 Cups of Glutinous Rice Powder
2 Cups Hot Water
2 Cups Dark Brown Sugar for better taste
Dissolve Sugar in Hot water first.  Then, add glutinous rice powder.  Mix well till smooth.  Add any optional goodies.

Optional addition:
Rehydrated Chinese Red Dates << dried JUJUBE fruits  or why not try regular dates?
Cooked Red Beans
Mashed sweetened Taro (my favorites)
Cassia Flower Jam

Bring water of steamer to a full rolling boil.    Fill each cake mold with batter.  Place them strategically in the steamer pan.  If your steamer is made of aluminum - TIP:  Cover the lid with a large sheet of Sack Flour cloth (can be found at Walmart at pots and pan mitten section, usually) to keep evaporation moisture from dripping into cake.   Steam for 2 hours.  DO NOT Open the lid, preferably.
Depending on the sizes of the cake, at 1 hour 20 minutes, quickly open the lid and insert a tester into the cake to check for doneness and immediately close the lid.   The dough should be translucent.
Turn off heat.  Wait for 10 minutes without opening the lid.
Spread two sheets of Saran Wrap on a baking sheet.
Invert the cake over the wrap.  Remove the parchment paper.
Leave to cool.      or SERVE when warm.
Note:  The following process will take several hours.
Skin should form around the cake.  No longer quite sticking to the fingers.
Flip it over and dry.   Slice and serve.
Wrap and Store in Refrigerator.  
Slice and pan fry them and serve or each French Toast style - meaning, beat an egg, and dip the cake slice in it and pan fry it.
Red Dates with Cassia Flower Jam
Red Beans with Cassia Flower Jam
Wish everyone a Great Prosperous Happy New Year, to Health, and many Blessings!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Polly's Almond Pudding with Fruits Cocktails

Milk Almond Pudding is so refreshing and easy to make.
You will enjoy it anytime.
Even though I am lactose intolerant, I found this Organic milk by Stremicks Heritage Foods the best milk without giving me any side affects.  I have tried Organic Valley milk, but unfortunately, it does not do well with my system.
So, use whichever brand milk of your choice.

AGAR AGAR gelatin package or AGAR AGAR sticks, usually sold in Asian market - 1 inch square by 12 inches long, sold in set of 2 in clear plastic.
Follow the package to prepare the AGAR AGAR - instead of full 6 Cups of boiling water, add 3 C of water
(or buy powder AGAR AGAR package and dissolve 2 g to 120 g of liquid)

Add Organic Sugar - 3/4 C
1 tsp of pure Almond extract
3 C whole Organic Stremicks milk

Bring water in a pot to a boil.Stir in AGAR AGAR Powder.  Stir and cook over medium low heat to make sure all AGAR AGAR are dissolved completely.  Add sugar.  Stir until dissolved.
Add milk.
Transfer the mixture into a wide pan that you can slice easily the set pudding later.
Refrigerate until set.
When ready to serve.
Slice the set pudding into 1/1 inch squares or rectangles.

Add 2 cans of your fruits cocktails or cut up organic fresh fruits of your choice.


Polly's Quick Stir Fried Organic Red Chard

Just as quick as I can dish up a stir fried fresh Kale, I tried it with Organic Red Swiss Chard.  Whether Organic or not, it is up to you, but make sure to wash and rinse vegetables carefully.   You will notice the color of rinsing water change from mirky color sometimes to fresh bright greenish tinted water, etc.  It won't hurt to sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of salt while washing to clean the vegetables.   As they say, however the shape of the vegetables or fruits maybe, it is supposed to be good for that body part of yours.   So, I am guessing this Swiss Chard is good for my lungs.
 What do you see?

2 cloves of large garlic, smashed, then, pilled
1 bunch of Organic Swiss Red Chard - Washed and chopped crosswise
Pinch of salt
Large WOK to cook in
Two spatula to stir fry like a pro

Heat up the wok, then, add the oil.
When the EVOO starts to shimmer, Add the garlic, then, chopped Swiss Red Chard.
With both spatula/wooden flat spatula, stir fry to coat all chard is coated with vege oil.
Add Salt.
Keep stirring to cook until tender - about 7 to 8 minutes.  or Depending on your gas stove's BTU, maybe it's only 5 minutes for you.

 Serve with cooked Extra Long Basmati rice mixed with Quinoa.   Yum!

Polly's Lionhead Harissa Stew

This is a modified Chinese Lionhead stew with Harissa paste.   It actually turned out quite tasty.
Prepare the pork meat balls first - Mix the following ingredients.
Wash and Cut NAPPA Cabbage about 6 Cups full
Pre-Hydrate SHIITAKE Mushrooms - Qty 6 in a Hot boiling water in a bowl - set aside
Drain Firm or extra firm Organic TOFU.  Cut them into 1 inch cubes, approx. - set aside
Get rice vermicelli ready.   Cut into desired length with Kitchen scissors.  You can use Yam Noodle also (as shown in picture.)  Set aside

In a Large soup pot, with some EVOO 1 - 2 tsp,  fry them till dark brown.  Turn the heat low and transfer to a plate, set aside.
1 lb ground meat balls
1 can or fresh chestnuts, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
1 large egg
2 TB fresh gingers, chopped
1/4 Salt and Fresh Ground Black Pepper
For Soup:
2 TB Organic soy sauce.
8 C Chicken Stock or half half chicken stock and water.

When meatballs are nice and brown, Add stock.  Add liquid from SHIITAKE mushrooms and mushrooms.  If you would like, you can add large cut DAIKON as well.  (DAIKON - Japanese white long radish)
 Taste the soup.  Add salt and Blk pepper or white pepper.  Add 2 TB Organic soy sauce.
Add vermicelli. 2 minutes.
 Add Nappa Cabbage.   Stir.  
2 minutes
 Add TOFU last.
 ADD homemade HARISSA paste
 Cook to reduce liquid.