April 22, 2012

Strawberry Mascarpone Tart

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There is nothing as 'summer lovin' as berries and no berry more demurely attractive than the strawberry. And no berry tart more pretty and easy to make than the Strawberry Mascarpone Tart! As the summer rolls around again this year we are starting to see more and more berries of all kinds at the market.

This recipe is another ode to the organic strawberries that we have recently discovered to taste delightfully of "strawberry" as we remember from days of old: fiendishly sweet to the taste and divinely fragrant.  Instead of the regular strawberries nowadays that smell good but taste of nothing.

April 21, 2012

Steamed Shrimp Paste Squid 蝦醬蒸鮮魷

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Ah, shrimp paste!  Grayish pink to muddy brown colored paste made of fermented mashed up shrimp.  It looks awfully homely. And what a smell!  When people are cooking with shrimp paste you can smell its distinctive smell a block away. 

When my 老公 was a boy growing up in Canada, his family decided one day to cook a yummy shrimp paste dish for their dinner.  The smell of their delicious stir fry was so strong and I guess so foreign that one of their neighbors took serious offense and threatened to call the police on them. Yessiree bob, that's right, almost arrested over a smell.  What that surely on most other occasions friendly neighbor needed, in my opinion, was a proper dose of perspective.

For example, from my perspective, the smell of shrimp paste wafting through the air makes my stomach clutch in a sudden famish of hunger.  It is a strong smell, yes, but very fragrant and full of the promise of its distinctive taste and aroma. So once your food perspective is transformed by the delicious taste memory of shrimp paste, the strong smell turns from offensive to tantalizing.  You just have to give shrimp paste a fair chance.  

It is interesting to note how many other fermented things, like anchovies or fermented bean curd for example, have a very strong taste and smell by themselves (because of the fermentation) but when cooked with other foods can instantly make a so-so dish spectacular.  And so it is with shrimp paste.

April 15, 2012

Soy Sauce Chicken Wings 紅燒雞翼

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Every chinese kid will tell you, soy sauce chicken wings, or 紅燒雞翼, is one of their favorite snacks bar none.  And how could it not be?  Melting from the bone chickeny goodness coated and infused with the aromatically sweet, savory, sticky coating of red cooked soy sauce with a subtle hint of licorice and ginger.  This is chinese snack food at its supreme. Well at least for kids and those of us who still keep their inner kid alive and kicking.  

My family originally being from the Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, we grew up eating this kind of thing pretty much every day, be it red cooked (another name for soy sauce cooking) chicken or beef or pork.  This kind of cooking is more of a northern china kind of thing and since I've been in Hong Kong I have missed it.  

I know, I know, you can find some red cooked meats in Hong Kong too, but, honestly, I don't think it's that good.  It's only so-so on the taste radar.  Usually the flavor's not quite right or it's been sitting around too long.  

So what else to do but make it myself every once in a while to sooth my nostalgic longings.  Beware, though, these little suckers will disappear before you can say "Soy Sauce Chicken Wings"!

New York Crust Pizza Dough

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Because we've been making a lot of pizza, my little girl and I, and having floury fun all over the kitchen, we've managed to come up with an improved version of our previous New York Style Pizza Crust Recipe.  The improved crust is thinner and bakes up more crunchy than the previous pizza crust, even though the previous is pretty darn good already (well, at least we think so).

April 14, 2012

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt - No Machine Needed

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This is a summer variation on our Cherry Frozen Yogurt that uses organic strawberries instead.   My little girl always asks for this flavor, I suspect because of the beautiful pink color, but also because of the bright summery tang of the lusciously sweet organic strawberries.

For a long time we wondered about strawberries because all the berries we ate, though smelling like strawberries, did not taste like strawberries.  Was our taste memory of sweet summer strawberries just a trick of the mind, a nostalgia propagated illusion?

When we recently discovered imported organic strawberries in Hong Kong that were really quite over priced, we decided to take the plunge and try them.  Finally, here was the proof that we were not losing our minds in our old age!  These strawberries smelled and tasted like strawberries!  Oh they were so good, so delicious and juicy, so real!!  I have to admit that I secretly got a bit teary eyed over the whole thing.  Why doesn't food taste like food anymore?

Easter Eggs - Tiny Eggs for Tiny Tots

Tiny Easter Eggs Quail Eggs

My little girl's third Easter was coming up and she was very excited about it as she was finally old enough to understand the fuss about colorful Easter Eggs and fluffy Easter Bunnies.  We told her that we would make Easter Eggs together and she was very anxious about that.  

Actually I think we told her this a bit too early, ending up with a month of her asking repeatedly when we were to make the "Easter Eggs" and us having to explain about "time" and "dates" and so on, all of which I am pretty sure she didn't understand.

I had never done any Easter Egging myself, having grown up in a pretty traditional Chinese family.  So I began doing some research and found out all about this business of making your Easter Eggs.  It was, to my relief, easier than I thought it would be.  

For a twist I was inspired at the last minute to use a couple dozen quail eggs instead of the traditional chicken eggs which made for super tiny cute Easter eggs that could, after the spectacle of course, easily be peeled and fed to your tot (my girl loves them!) for dinner, lunch, or whatever.  Plus the natural random speckling of the quail eggs really showed up through the dye and made for uniquely patterned Easter Eggs.