Friday, July 31, 2009

Andalusian Gazpacho

Fancy having some gazpacho to cool you down in this scorching summer heat? I made the soup in the morning, had it chilled, and served it up for dinner. We have had some real sweltering weather here in Vancouver this summer. So, this soup was just what we needed, light, cool, and delicious - perfect! Do try the recipe, and have a good weekend.

Recipe adapted from Traditional Spanish Cooking by Janet Mandel

Andalusion Gazpacho - Gazpacho Andaluz
(Printable Recipe)


75 g (3 oz) Bread, crust removed
1 kg (2 lb 3 oz) Ripe Tomatoes
3 Garlic Cloves
2 tsp Sea Salt
1/4 tsp Ground Cumin
6 Tbsp Olive Oil
5 Tbsp Wine Vinegar
about 300 ml ( 1/2 pint) Water

For the garnish
100 g ( 3 1/2 oz) Green Peppers, finely chopped
100 g ( 3 1/2 oz) Cucumber, peeled and finely chopped
1 Small Onion, finely chopped
1 Small Tomato, finely chopped
2 Slices Bread, toasted and diced

Put the bread to soak in enough water to cover for 15 minutes. Squeeze out excess water and put the bread in a blender or processor.

Peel the tomatoes, cut them into chunks and add to the blender with garlic, salt and cumin. Process until pureed. With the motor running, add the oil in a slow stream, then add the vinegar. The mixture will thicken and change color as the oil emulsifies. Add a little of the water and transfer to a serving bowl. You can rub the gazpacho through a sieve for a finer texture. Stir in water to the desired consistency; it should be neither thick nor thin. Chill until serving time.

Place the chopped peppers, cucumber, onion, tomato and toasted breads in a small bowls or divided dish and serve as accompaniments.

Serves 6

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Stir-Fry Snow Peas With Scallops

Snow peas are available all year round. As with all legumes, they have lots of health and nutritional benefits. A quick and simple stir-frying is the best way to enjoy them. So, here is the recipe for stir-fry snow peas with scallops. Enjoy.

Stir-Fry Snow Peas With Scallops
(Printable Recipe)


200 g Snow Peas
4 Sea Scallops, thinly sliced
2 Cloves Garlic, thinly sliced
About 3 Thin Slices of Fresh Ginger
1 Tbsp Peanut Oil
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Sea salt to taste

1 Tbsp Oyster Sauce
2 tsp Light Soy Sauce
6 Tbsp Water
1/2 tsp Corn Flour


Heat the oil in a wok and cook the garlic and ginger on low heat. Remove the garlic and ginger when they are fragrant and golden in color.

Turn the heat on high. Toss in the snow peas, scallops and the cooked garlic and ginger. Stir-fry for about a minute and add in the sauce. Bring it to a quick boil and season with sea salt and black pepper. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Beef Wrapped In Pepper Leaves

This is a delicious Vietnamese appetizer. It is part of a popular dish known as Beef in Seven Ways, featuring multiple beef courses. If you are are unable to get pepper leaves, you can substitute it with grape leaves. The beef rolls are typically served with table salad and a dipping sauce. The salad consists of either red or green leaf lettuce, cucumber, bean sprouts, and some Vietnamese herbs. As for the dipping sauce recipe, you can find it here.

Recipe adapted from Pleasures Of The Vietnamese Table by Mai Pham

Beef Wrapped In Pepper Leaves - bo nuong la lot
(Printable Recipe)


4 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
1 1/2 tsp Minced Garlic
1/2 Yellow Onion, chopped (about 2/3 cup)
2 Tbsp Finely Chopped Lemongrass
3 Tbsp Chopped Roasted Peanuts
1 tsp Ground Turmeric
2 tsp Sugar
2 tsp Fish Sauce
1/4 tsp Sea Salt
1/2 lb Coarsely Chopped Ground Beef
30 Large Pepper Leaves (Betel leaves)
4 (6 - 8 inch) Bamboo Skewers

Vietnamese Dipping Sauce, for serving
Table salad, for serving


Heat 2 Tbsp of the oil in a pan over moderate heat. Add the garlic and onion and stir until softened, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Add the lemongrass, peanuts, turmeric, sugar, fish sauce, salt and ground beef. Mix with a fork until well blended and sticky, about 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside for 30 minutes.

To make the rolls, place 1 heaping Tbsp of the meat mixture in the center of a pepper leaf. Using your fingers, shape the meat into a cylinder about 2 inches long and 3/4 inch wide. Wrap the leaf around the meat but leave the sides open. (If necessary, use 2 leaves.) When done, place the roll seam side down. make the remaining rolls in the same way.

Thread 5 rolls onto each bamboo skewer, positioning the rolls so they touch one another at the seams. Set aside until ready to cook.

Heat the remaining 2 Tbsp oil in a large nonstick frying pan over a low heat. (Make sure the pan is large enough to accommodate the skewers. If not, shorten the skewers.) Add the beef rolls and cook until the meat is done, about 5 to 7 minutes total. Do not overcrowd the pan. Reduce the heat as necessary to keep the leaves from charring.

Transfer the skewers to a platter. Remove the skewers and serve the rolls with salad and Vietnamese Dipping Sauce.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Heirloom Tomato Salad

I came across some colorful and pretty Heirloom tomatoes at a local fresh produce store recently. The variety of colors were so pleasing that I just had to get some. So, I painstakingly picked out some of these tomatoes and turned them into this beautiful salad. I just used some lemon juice as dressing for the salad and topped it off with some fresh basil. The tomato salad tasted fantastic and not to mention, very healthy as well.

Heirloom Tomato Salad
(Printable Recipe)


8 to 10 Heirloom Tomatoes (mixed variety), sliced
A small bunch of Fresh Basil Leaves

6 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Tbsp Freshly Squeeze Lemon Juice
Sea Salt to taste
Some freshly ground black pepper


Prepare the dressing. Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt, pepper and whisk and blend until emulsified.

In a large serving plate, arrange the tomatoes in circle and top with some Basil leaves.

Drizzle some lemon dressing over the tomatoes and serve immediately.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Traditional Madeleines

These Madeleines look cute, don’t they? I must agree with the author of the cookbook. By allowing the batter to rest in the refrigerator for 2 days in advance, it does help to form the hump that is characteristic of Madeleines. I baked these using a silicone Madeleines pan. Silicone pans are great for baking as it does not need to be greased. The Madeleines comes out easily from the pan.

Recipe adapted from Baking From my home to yours by Dorie Greenspan

Traditional Madeleines

(Printable Recipe)


2/3 Cup All-Purpose Flour
3/4 tsp Baking Powder
Pinch of salt
1/2 Cup Sugar
Grated zest of 1 Lemon
2 Large Eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
3/4 Stick (6 Tbsp) Unsalted Butter, melted and cooled

Confectioners' sugar, for dusting


Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Working in a mixer bowl, or in a large bowl, rub the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the eggs to the bowl. Working with the whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together on medium-high speed until pale, thick and light, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. With a rubber spatula, very gently fold in the dry ingredients, followed by the melted butter. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the batter and refrigerate it for at least 3 hours, or for up to 2 days. This long chill period will help the batter form the hump that is characteristic of madeleines. (For convenience, you can spoon the batter into the madeleine molds, cover and refrigerate, then bake the cookies directly from the fridge; see below for instructions on prepping the pans.)

Getting ready to bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400˚F. Butter 12 full-size madeleine molds, or up to 36 mini madeleine molds, dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess. Or, if you have a nonstick pan (or pans), give it a light coating of vegetable cooking spray. If you have a silicone pan, no prep is needed. Place the pan(s) on a baking sheet.

Spoon the batter in the molds, filling each one almost to the top. Don't worry about spreading the batter evenly, the oven's heat will take care of that. Bake large madeleines for 11 to 13 minutes, and minis for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are golden and the tops spring back when touched. Remove the pan(s) from the oven and release the madeleines from the molds by rapping the edge of the pan against the counter. Gently pry any recalcitrant madeleines from the pan using your fingers or a butter knife. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool to just warm or to room temperature.

If you are making minis and have more batter, bake the next batch(es), making certain that you cool, then properly prepare the pan(s) before baking.

Just before serving, dust the madeleines with confectioners' sugar.

Friday, July 24, 2009

UBC Blueberry Fest

To all readers in the Vancouver, BC area:

BC Blueberry Council in conjunction with UBC, is having their “First UBC Blueberry Fest” this month. If you love blueberries like I do, you may want to go check out the fest. It should be fun and will be a good way to learn more about BC Blueberries and it’s special place in the BC and Canada's economy. For instance, did you know that BC is the largest producer of highbush blueberries in Canada? Over 17,000 acres and almost 80 million pounds produced, makes BC the second largest blueberry producing region in the world and growing steadily. So, do come join the fest and learn more..

Here are the details:

UBC presents its first UBC Blueberry Fest!

When: Tuesday July 28, Wednesday July 29 & Thursday July 30 from 9AM-1PM each day (rain or shine)

Where: UBC Bookstore Plaza (6200 University Boulevard and East Mall)

Supported by the BC Blueberry Council and the UBC Bookstore

We will be promoting BC Blueberries with a fantastic supporting cast of events:
- Daily prize draw and free recipes
- UBC bookstore discounts
- Pancake breakfast, parfaits, blueberry muffins, scones, cakes, creme brulee, blintzes on the menu
- Blueberries from the farm

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Chicken Noodle Soup

Like most people, I just love having a bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup. It’s probably one of the easiest soup to cook. It takes a bit of time; but, I usually make the effort. I think nothing beats delicious, healthy homemade soup. Right? On that note, I hope I can encourage you to try cooking this hearty soup at home. I am sure you will enjoy it! For the main ingredient, do try to opt for organic/free range chicken, if possible. They are much tastier than the regular chicken, in my opinion. As for the pasta, you can use any variety or shapes of your choice. Enjoy!

Chicken Noodle Soup
(Printable Recipe)


1 (about 1.8 kg) Organic Chicken, whole
120 g Dried Pasta
1 Medium Yellow Onion, quartered
2 Stalk Celery, chopped
2 Carrots, chopped
5 Sprigs Thyme
1 Dried Bay Leaf
2 tsp Whole Black Peppercorn
16 Cups Water
Sea Salt to taste


Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Blanch the chicken for about 8 to minutes. Drain and discard the water.

In a large stockpot, place the chicken, onion, celery, carrots, Thyme, Bay leaf, black peppercorn with cold water. Bring it to a boil and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour.

Remove the chicken from the pot. Let the chicken to cool slightly before removing the breast meat. (The chicken breast meat can be shredded and mix into the soup or reserved for another use.)

Return the rest of the chicken to the pot and continue to simmer for about 2 hours.

To make the chicken noodle soup: Bring 8 cups of chicken stock to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the manufacturer cooking instruction. When the pasta is cooked, drain and mix into the boiling chicken stock. Stir well and season with sea salt.

Note: Add the reserved chicken breast into the soup if desired.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Perfection Pound Cake With Blueberry

My son was eager to work on the next baking project since his first baking experience with me was such a huge success. In response to his keen interest, I quickly organized another baking session with him. This time, we chose to bake the Perfection Pound Cake recipe from the same cookbook by Dorie Greenspan. Interestingly, whilst helping out with the preparation, he suggested that we add some blueberries in the cake. I agreed and so he gently folded in 1-½ cups of blueberries into the batter. Our blueberries pound cake turned out great, a fantastic combination. Delightful.

Recipe adapted from Baking From my home to yours by Dorie Greenspan

Perfection Pound Cake With Blueberry

(Printable Recipe)


2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
2 Sticks (8 0z) Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
1 Cup Sugar
4 Large Eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 Cups Blueberries (Optional)


Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325˚F. Butter a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan or an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan. Put the pan on an insulated baking sheet or on two regular baking sheets stacked one on top of the other.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar on high speed until pale and fluffy, a full 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and beater and reduce the mixer speed to medium. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 to 2 minutes after each egg goes in. As you're working, scrape down the bowl and beater often. Mix in the vanilla extract. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, mixing only until it is incorporated-don't over mix. In fact, you might want to fold in the last of the flour, or even all of it, by hand with a rubber spatula. (Mix in the blueberries, if using) Scrape the batter into the buttered pan and smooth the top.

Put the cake into the oven to bake, and check on it after about 45 minutes. If it's browning too quickly, cover loosely with a foil tent. If you're using a 9 x 5 inch pan, you'll need to bake the cake for 70 to 75 minutes; the smaller pan needs about 90 minutes. The cake is properly baked when a thin knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven, transfer the pan to a rack and let rest for 30 minutes.

Run a blunt knife between the cake and the sides of the pan and turn the cake out, then turn it right side up on the rack and cool to room temperature.

Monday, July 20, 2009

General Tso's Chicken (Changsha Version)

Fancy some General Tso’s chicken? That was exactly how I asked and confused my kids. Their immediate response were like…huh, who is that?? Well, names aside, this General’s chicken does taste really good. :-) According to the author of the cookbook, this is a Hunanese version of the General Tso’s chicken, the other is from Taiwan. There isn’t a lot of difference between the two, just that the former uses black vinegar and the latter uses white vinegar. I like both versions of vinegar. So, next time I’ll try cooking the white vinegar, Taiwan version.

Recipe adapted from Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook By Fuchsia Dunlop

General Tso's Chicken (Changsha Version)

(Printable Recipe)


4 Boned Chicken Thighs with skin (about 12 oz)
6-10 small Dried Red Chilies
3/4 inch Piece Fresh Ginger, peeled and sliced
1 Tbsp Double Concentrate Tomato Paste-mixed with 1 Tbsp Water
3 Scallions, green parts only, sliced
1 tsp Sesame Oil
Peanut Oil for cooking

For the marinade:
2 tsp Light Soy Sauce
1/2 tsp Dark Soy Sauce
1 Egg Yolk
4 Tbsp Potato Flour

For the sauce:
1/2 tsp Potato Flour
2 tsp White Sugar
2 tsp Chinkiang Vinegar
1/4 tsp Dark Soy Sauce
2 tsp Light Soy Sauce
3 Tbsp Stock or Water


Unfold the chicken thighs and lay them, skin side down, on a chopping board. Use a sharp knife to make a few shallow crisscross cuts into the meat-this will help the flavors to penetrate. Then cut each thigh into bite-size slices, an uneven 1/4 inch or so in thickness. Place the chicken slices in a bowl.

To make the marinade, add the soy sauces, sugar, and egg yolk to the chicken and mix well, then coat the chicken slices with potato flour.

Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl; set aside. Use a pair of scissors to snip the dried chilies into 3/4-inch pieces, discarding the seeds.

Heat enough oil for deep-frying to 350-400˚F. Add the chicken and deep-fry until it is crisp and golden. (If you are deep-frying in a wok with a relatively small volume of oil, fry the chicken in batches.) Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and set aside. Pour the oil into a heatproof container, and clean the wok if necessary.

Return the wok to a high flame with 2-3 Tbsp of the oil. Add the dried chilies and stir-fry briefly until they are fragrant and just changing color (do not burn them). Toss in the ginger and stir-fry for a few seconds more, then add the tomato paste and stir-fry until the oil is stained a deep orange.

Add the mixed ingredients for the sauce, stirring as it thickens. Tip in the chicken and stir vigorously to coat it in sauce. Add the scallions and stir a few times, then, switch off the heat, stir in the sesame oil and serve.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

I had a fabulous time baking these Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins with my son. He had craving for these lemony muffins, and so, I thought I’d coax him to help me in the kitchen to realize this recipe. Surprisingly, he agreed! So, I wasted no time by tasking him to do all the measurements, stirring, icing, and even monitoring the oven. I’m glad I got him involved as he had so much fun and was so proud of his “baking skills”! :-) Fortunately, all turned out well, the muffins tasted great. I must admit that baking together with him was a very enjoyable experience indeed!

Recipe adapted from Baking From my home to yours by Dorie Greenspan

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
(Printable Recipe)


2/3 Cup Sugar
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Salt
3/4 Cup Sour Cream
2 Large Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Stick (8 Tbsp) Unsalted Butter, melted and cooled
2 Tbsp Poppy Seeds

For The Icing
1 Cup Confectioners' Sugar, sifted
2 -3 Tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice


Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400˚F. Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular-size muffin pan or fit the molds with paper muffin cups. Alternatively, use a silicone muffin pan, which needs neither greasing nor paper cups. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.

In a large bowl, rub the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and the fragrance of lemon strong. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk the sour cream, eggs, vanilla, lemon juice and melted butter together until well blended. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Don't worry about being thorough-a few lumps are better than over mixing the batter. Stir in the poppy seeds. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold. Cool the muffins completely on the rack before icing them.

TO MAKE THE ICING: Put the confectioners' sugar in a small bowl and add about 1 1/2 Tbsp of lemon juice. Stir with a spoon to moisten the sugar, then add enough additional lemon juice, a dribble at a time, to get an icing that is thin enough to drizzle from the tip of the spoon. You can then drizzle lines of icing over the tops of the muffins or coat the tops entirely, the better to get an extra zap of lemon.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Grilled Honey, Lemon, And Soy Chicken Wings

Today’s post is an addictive Grilled Honey, Lemon, and Soy Chicken Wings recipe. I hope most of you will appreciate honey grilled meat. I know some people dislike it; but, I happen to just love it. So, whether you like it or not, I hope you will give this recipe a try when you have the grill fired up next time. Just so yummy, hard to describe with words. Happy cooking and have a good weekend!

Grilled Honey, Lemon And Soy Chicken Wings
(Printable Recipe)


1 kg (about 16-18) Chicken Wings, tip off

3 Tbsp Honey
5 Tbsp Lemon Juice
2 Cloves Garlic, chopped
1 1/2 tsp Chili Flakes
1 Tbsp Light Soy Sauce
Some freshly ground Black Pepper
2 Tbsp Peanut Oil


Marinate the chicken wings for about 4 hours.

Preheat the grill for indirect cooking over medium heat.

Arrange the chicken wings in a large disposable foil pan. Grill the chicken for about 20 to 25 minutes with the lid closed.

Remove the chicken from the pan. Grill the chicken on direct heat for about 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sweet And Sour Spare Ribs

These sweet and sour spare ribs appetizer are really yummy and “finger licking good”, I might add! You can consider to serve them as a main course, if you prefer, by doubling-up on the recipe. I am sure many of you are well aware that this dish goes very well with just some plain steamed rice. :-)

Recipe adapted from Revolutionary Chinese Cooking by Fuchsia Dunlop
(Printable Recipe)

Sweet And Sour Spare Ribs


1 lb Meaty Spare Ribs, cut into bite-size sections
2 (1 oz), Pieces Fresh Ginger, unpeeled and crushed
4 Scallions, white parts only, crushed
1 Tbsp Shaoxing Wine
Sea Salt
2 tsp Dark Soy Sauce
4 Tbsp White Sugar
1 Tbsp Chinkiang Vinegar
1 tsp Sesame Oil
Peanut Oil for cooking


Place the ribs in a saucepan of water and bring to a boil over a high flame (heat). Skim the water, then add one piece of ginger, 2 scallions, the Shaoxing wine, and salt to taste. Boil for 15 minutes, until the meat is cooked and tender; strain and set aside, reserving the cooking liquid.

Optional deep-frying step: Heat the oil for deep-frying in a wok over a high flame until it reaches 350-400˚F. Add the ribs and fry for about 5 minutes, until golden; drain and set aside.

Pour off all but 3 Tbsp of the oil in the wok and reheat over a high flame. Add the remaining scallions and ginger and stir-fry until fragrant. Add the ribs and toss for a couple of minutes in the fragrant oil.

Add slightly less than 1 cup of the reserved cooking liquid, the dark soy sauce, and the sugar, with a little salt to taste (take care not to over salt, because the liquid will eventually be reduced to a glaze). Simmer over a medium heat flame, spooning the liquid over the ribs, until the sauce has reduced to a heavy, syrupy consistency.

Add the vinegar and cook for another 1-2 minutes, until the flavors have fused. Switch off the heat, stir in the sesame oil and leave to cool before eating.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Deep-Fried Wonton

Here is the deep-fried Wonton recipe for you to consider trying and another simple picture guide to wrap the Wonton. Enjoy!

Deep-Fried Wonton
(Printable Recipe)


30 pcs Wonton Wrapper
Oil for deep-frying
Chili Sauce for dipping

150 g Ground Pork
100 g Peeled Shrimps, finely chopped or minced
3 Water Chestnut, finely diced
1/2 tsp Minced Fresh Ginger
2 tsp Corn Flour
A pinch of Ground White Pepper
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
1 tsp Sesame Oil
2 tsp Soy Sauce


Combine the wonton filling ingredients and mix well.

Place about 1 to 1 ½ tsp of filling in the center of the wrapper and wrap firmly.

Deep-fry the wontons over low to medium heat for about 3 minutes or until the wontons are golden brown in color. Drain on a paper towel and serve with chili sauce.

A simple guide on how to wrap the wonton.

Place 1 portion of the filling in the center of the wonton wrapper.

Lift up to form a triangle.

Gather all the corners to the center, dap with a little water and press firmly.