March 29, 2023

Candied Winter Melon Tea 冬瓜糖涼茶

Candied, Winter Melon, candy, herbal, Tea,  冬瓜糖, 涼茶, 茶

As the season turns and the days grow warmer it's time for some "cooling teas" also known as 涼茶.  Chinese believe that the food that they eat balance and nourish the body to good health, especially with respect to the needs that seasonal changes bring to the body.  Cooling teas help to dispel the heat, or 熱氣, caused by warm weather.

This particular cooling tea caught my eye because the main ingredient is one of my favorite fruit candies, the candied winter melon 冬瓜糖.  We've actually made winter melon tea before from fresh winter melon and it was plenty delish.  So now we got to try it with candied winter melon. 

The results were most satisfying and a lot easier to make. The candied fruit provided an intense but totally light vanilla sweetness with grassy notes and a touch of smokiness to a most delightfully refreshing Candied Winter Melon Tea 冬瓜糖涼.  This fragrant herbal tea was a cinch to whip up!

March 17, 2023

Shanghai Braised Vegetarian Chicken 上海紅燒素雞

Shanghai, Braised, Vegetarian Chicken, 上海,紅燒,素雞, five spice,五香, chinese, vegetarian, recipe

Did you know that the Chinese have the most delicious vegetarian fare?  There are even vegetarian restaurants which serve a throve of ‘meat’ entitled dishes entirely made from tofu!  But note that, despite the names of the dishes, the ‘meats’ don’t actually taste like meat, they just taste veggie-licious!

We recently discovered a source of Shanghai style vegetarian chicken and so were able to make this truly yummilicious veggie dish.  This Shanghai Braised Vegetarian Chicken 上海紅燒素雞 is deliciously creamy and tender and soaked thru with the five spice infused savory sauce.

March 11, 2023

Homemade Pandan Extract 自製香蘭精


Have you ever passed a bakery and wondered what that wonderful vanilla-y, grassy, oh so comforting floral aroma floating thru the air was?  Or passed by the windows of a South Asian restaurant and wondered what the tempting green tinted desserts were made from?  

Well, you wouldn't be the first.  Rare in the west but common in Asia, the distinctive flavor and aroma of pandan is a delightful surprise to the uninitiated.  

Pandan is also used to flavor savory rice and curry dishes in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia as well as used in that fan favorite, Thai chicken wrapped in pandan leaves.  Oh, man, those chicken morsels are so delicious!

The pandan extract can of course be bought in bakery supply stores but you can also quite easily make it at home.  If you can access fresh pandan leaves then you can very easily make homemade pandan extract 自製香蘭精!

March 10, 2023

Pandan Bread 香蘭麵包

Pandan Bread, recipe, milk bread, bread, 香蘭, 麵包

This delicious bread is made by using the natural flavor and coloring from the pandan leaf.   Yes, that's right, an actual leaf!  The pandan leaf is so packed with flavor and color that it is used to flavor all kinds of foods from the sweet to the savory!

My little girl has always loved the floral, vanilla-y, grassy fragrance and flavor of the pandan leaf and so has long begged me to make her some homemade pandan bread.  Finally I have gotten around to it, coincidentally just in time for St. Patrick's Day.  Make yourself some lucky Pandan Bread 香蘭麵包: deliciously aromatic, soft and fluffy, and verily luckily green!

February 28, 2023

Homemade Raspberry Powder

Homemade, recipe, Raspberry Powder, freeze dried raspberry, powder, fruit, freeze dried fruit, raspberry

Look at this lusciousness!  This beautiful vivid red.  And the fragrance is unbelievably intense, tart and sweet and fruity.  What is this, you ask?  Why it's Homemade Raspberry Powder, used to add flavor and color to all kinds of pastries and other baked goods.  

You can buy this premade at bakery supply stores but it's so easy to make a home and so much more fragrant when just made.  Why not try making this super easy to make Homemade Raspberry Powder at home?

Chinese Chocolate Pastry Filling Paste 巧克力餡

Chinese , recipe, pastry, filling, paste, Chocolate Pastry Filling, chocolate paste,  巧克力, 餡

It turns out that you can make all kinds of fun new and creative fillings for your Chinese pastries and buns.  I recently discovered what I think is the key to being able to do this: white bean paste.  I had not heard of white bean paste until recently, having only known its famous cousin, red bean paste 紅豆沙.

White bean paste 白豆沙 is a sweet, creamy mildly bean flavored paste of light color.  It is used to fill pastries to delicious effect.  A super added plus is that white bean paste takes on both color and flavors really well, thus allowing for all kinds of new filling flavors to be made.

We start off exploring the versatility of white bean paste by adding chocolate to it.  So exciting, cuz I love, love, love chocolate.  Our Chinese chocolate pastry filling turned out incredible: oh so chocolaty, creamy, and oozy.  A perfect hidden heart of smooth creamy chocolate!

February 27, 2023

Homemade White Bean Paste 白豆沙餡

Homemade, chinese, recipe, White Bean Paste,  white bean filling, 白豆沙, 餡

Up until recently I had never heard of white bean paste 白豆沙.  Red bean paste 紅豆沙, yes, and how I love the flavor of it.  But never white bean paste.  It turns out that white bean paste is really quite lovely, with the same fine creamy texture of red bean paste but having a milder sweet creamy flavor that's perfect for stuffing a Chinese pastry.

In Japan white bean paste is used for many desserts and is known as 'Shiro-an.'

We needed white bean paste to make chocolate paste filling for our raspberry chocolate tang yuan 覆盆子巧克力湯圓.  So yummilicious!   And even more exciting is that we realized that white bean paste, with its mild sweet flavor and light color, can be used as a base for all kinds of innovative fillings in Chinese pastries.  

In other words: White bean paste + added flavor = exciting new flavor !

It turns out it's a cinch to make white bean paste 白豆沙 at home.  Super duper easy!  Homemade White Bean Paste 白豆沙 is soft and creamy with a mildly sweet, slightly beany flavor.  You can use the paste as is or go on to be crazy creative and experiment to discover new and exciting pastes to fill your pastries with!

February 25, 2023

Chocolate Filled Raspberry Flavored Tang Yuan 覆盆子巧克力湯圓

raspberry,chinese,tang yuan,recipe,chocolate, sweet dumpling, 覆盆子,巧克力,湯圓

This little sweet bite was inspired by Valentine's Day.  It's now past that heart shaped day, I know, but there it is, the inspiration for this sweet treat was that of love and delectable devotion and the divine chocolate bonbons that go with all that.

The idea first began from a desire to have a chocolate filled tang yuan rice dumpling.  OMG, can you imagine, sooo good!  And then with that idea came the desire to surround the yummy oozing chocolate filling with something more fancy, more in tune with the rich decadence of cocoa than just plain ol’ tang yuan dough.  

After much thought I decided that the luscious rosy tartness of raspberry was up to the challenge.  I infused pure raspberry flavor into the tender chewy rice dough that surrounds the tang yuan filling.  Wowzer! 

Raspberry and chocolate, double wowzer!  Our Chocolate Filled Raspberry Flavored Tang Yuan 覆盆子巧克力湯圓 is not your ordinary tang yuan; it's a fancy 'bonbon' kinda tang yuan with an oozing rich chocolate heart wrapped tenderly in a fragrant raspberry pink infused dough.  It's out of this world fancy and delicious!

January 31, 2023

Vegetable & Mushroom Dumpling 蔬菜蘑菇餃

Vegetable, chinese,Mushroom,Dumpling,recipe,  vegetarian,蔬菜,蘑菇,餃

Hope that all our dear readers have had a most auspicious Chinese New Year!  We've been pretty quiet, just resting after the fierce study schedule we've been on to support my little girl's long and hard preparation for mid year exams.  It's crazy that the schools in HK have so many exams!  😵‍💫

So better late than never, here's our vegetarian offering for the Chinese New Year: a simple but really yummy vegetable dumpling!  It's a tradition to eat vegetarian on the first day of the new year to cleanse the body and spirit as well as to cleanse out the energy of the old year.

We like vegetable dumplings but have found that it's hard to find a really good one.  Recently, however, we tried a mushroom and vegetable dumpling at one of our local dumpling shops that was simple and yet so memorable and tasty.  I kept wanting to go back for more.  This is our version of that same yummilicious Vegetable and Mushroom Dumpling 蔬菜蘑菇餃.

January 20, 2023

Chestnut Purée 栗子泥

栗子泥,creme de marrons,homemade,nuts,recipe,chestnut creme,how to make,how roast,how boil,how cook,chestnuts,chestnut purée,paste,filling,

Okay, this is one of those things were I’m like, floored, at how something I made at home can be so damn good.  Previously when I needed chestnut purée for cake, etc., I had bought cans of ‘crème de marrons ’, (french for chestnut purée).  The French are crazy about chestnuts, apparently, and rightly so.  Crème de Marrons is sooooo yummy!!  I just want to eat it up straight out of the can!  

However, this year, just as I was gearing up for my yearly Chestnut Birthday Cake 栗子蛋糕 (for my hubby😘), my grocery store stopped carrying crème de marron.  Of course.  Right when I need it. Thanks, grocery store.  

So my only option was to try to make it at home.  I was pretty nervous, under a lot of cake-y pressure.  Would it turn out anything like the delicious chestnut purée that I needed for my cake?

Turns out that homemade chestnut purée is pretty easy to make and pretty darn close to the commercially packed ones.  Golden, nuttily sweet with a thick smooth texture, homemade chestnut purée is absolutely fabulous!  And it saves me a buck or two, yay!