September 24, 2016

Animal Cracker Cookies

Animal Crackers, animal cookies, recipe, animal cookie cutter,  school lunch, school snack, 動物, 餅乾
By Published: 2016-09-24
It's that time of the year when the kids are back to school...which means it's also time for packed school lunches and snacks!  And I have been that busy in my teensy tiny kitchen making all kinds of things for school lunch.  

One of my favorite things to make and pack into lunch packs are these cookies.  There's nothing to delight children more than yummilicious cookies in the shape of cute adorable animals!  

So you are's gonna be cuteness here today!  This is our take of that favorite little cookie, classically known as Animal Crackers (tho' why it's called crackers and not cookies I have no idea), inspired by those classic Barnum's Animal Crackers, the longstanding kiddie favorites that come in a colorfully decorated box.  Do you remember eating these as a kid?  I sure do.

September 16, 2016

Homemade Chinese Wheat Gluten Mian Jin 自製麵筋

chinese, homemade, how make, meat substitute, Mian Jin, mock meat, recipe, seitan, vegetarian, Wheat Gluten, 自製, 麵筋
By Published: 2016-09-16
I was super duper excited to try my hand at making Chinese Wheat Gluten Mian Jin, or 麵筋, because my dearest Grandma 奶奶 used to make it for us all the time when I was growing up.  Gosh darnit if by the end of the day Grandma didn't have a huge pot full of her homemade wheat gluten, soaked through and through and juicy with fragrantly aromatic soy and spice based sauce with luscious bits of slippery cloud ear, chewy lily bud and fragrant mushroom snuggled in between.  (See Grandma's recipe for Red Braised Wheat Gluten Kao Fu 紅燒烤麩)  

We would eat and eat and eat and there still would be more for the next day and the next.  I would sneak it straight out of the fridge when Grandma wasn't looking, savoring the chilled version just as much as the hot.  (I love eating at the fridge.  Weird but true.)  

I've had it in the back of my mind for a long long time to try making the actual wheat gluten myself just like Grandma did and finally got around to it.   I'm very pleased to report that making your own Homemade Chinese Wheat Gluten Mian Jin or 自製麵筋 is actually much easier than I thought it was going to be, verra verra tasty and you can make all kinds of mouth watering Chinese 'mock' meat vegetarian dishes with it.  Definitely a must have skill in your repertoire if you are wanting to go for Vegetarian Domestic Goddess!

September 13, 2016

Snow Skin Mooncake 冰皮月餅

chinese, festival, crystal mooncake, ice skin mooncake, mid autumn festival, recipe, Snow Skin Mooncake, traditional, 冰皮月餅
By Published: 2016-09-13
It's almost that time of the year again, the time of the glorious harvest moon, the Mid Autumn Festival 中秋節, a right jolly time in Hong Kong that all, the children especially, look forward to.  And why not?  A beautiful fuller than full moon hung high in the velvet blackness of the night, a pass to stay up and play as late as one wants, delicately beautiful lighted lanterns and myriad glow sticks in hand, and, best of all, mooncakes 月餅 galore to eat!  

We've already made the White Lotus Paste with Double Yolk Mooncake 雙黃白蓮蓉月餅 and the amazing Five Nuts Mooncake 五仁月餅, so this year we thought we would make the Hong Kong creation known as Snow Skin Mooncake 冰皮月餅, also known as Ice Skin Mooncake, a modern twist where the traditional mooncake fillings are wrapped in a delicate, light, mochi-esque skin.

September 5, 2016

Red Braised Wheat Gluten Kao Fu 紅燒烤麩

kao fu, Red Braised, soy braised, Wheat Gluten, Kaofu, recipe, shanghai, chinese, vegetarian,  紅燒, 烤麩, 素, 齋, 上海
By Published: 2016-09-05
Chinese cuisine is well known for its vegetarian fare, indeed whole Chinese restaurants can be found devoted to vegetarian foods only!  And if you visit a Chinese monastery you will often find the unexpected delight of enjoying a fine vegetarian meal during your visit.  (Chinese people always take very good care of their tummies, wherever they are.)  Do be forewarned, however, that just because it's vegetarian fare, don't expect the Chinese to give up their daily meat intake!  

Whaaaaaat the hey, you say?! 

What I mean is that Chinese vegetarian dishes are mainly based around 'mock' meats: mock duck, mock chicken, mock pork, you name it, they've got it.  And these fake meats are mostly cleverly made from tofu and wheat gluten.  

Determined to make my own vegetarian dish, I first made my homemade wheat gluten kao fu (see our kao fu recipe here) and then cooked up the classic Shanghainese Red Braised Wheat Gluten Kao Fu 紅燒烤麩, a simple yet yummilicious vegetarian dish of soy sauce braised kao fu wheat gluten, mushrooms, bamboo and wood ears.  Tis so satisfying to your tastebuds and filling to your tummy!