Saturday, June 28, 2008

Express Stewed Pigs Feet

My wife came across some pigs feet in vinegar the other day at Meijer's and immediately the thought of making some kind of pigs feet stew came to my mind. What more, it was only 99c a bottle. Not! We later found out both of use read the wrong labels. They were $5 for 2. But we were craving for the stew so badly we bit the bullet.

1 Bottle of Pigs Feet in vinegar.
1/4 cup of Chinese Sweet and Dark Vinegar (甜醋)
6 pieces of rock sugar
2 table spoon of sugar
2 stocks of green onions
small piece of ginger ( I didn't weight it, but a piece half the size of an egg should be fine)
1/2 cup of water

As the title said, this is an "express" dish. Just put everything in a sauce pan and bring it to a boil. Then turn turn the flame and simmer for 1/2 at least. The pigs feet are already very soft, and cooked so we just need sometime for them to absorb the ingredients. To make the sauce a little thick, I chose the express route again by adding some corn starch pre-mix in a little hot water. This bottle was enough to make a small bowl in the picture. My wife managed to steal a couple of pieces before I could take the picture!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Grill White Sea Bass with Chili Paste

(When there are lobsters, you won't focus on fish, would you? That's what my wife did when she took this photo.)

This is another dish improvised from my sister's recipe. The White Sea Bass can be substituted with any other fish you can find.

1 piece of White Sea Bass
3 cloves of Shallot or half a Red Onion
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 a bunch of cilantro
4 pieces of dried chili, with seed removed
2 tablespoons of sugar
2 tablespoons of Thai Chili Paste in Soya Bean Oil
2 tablespoons of Philippino Spicy Sautéed Shrimp Paste (GINISANG BAGOONG)
3 tablespoons of olive oil

Blend everything except the fish in a food processor just before it become paste like.
Heat up a pan and sautéed the paste until it turn into dark color. It will give out very strong smell and you will know it's done.

You may prepare the fish on a grill, or on a pan.
Slightly season the fish with salt and ground black pepper.
The White Sea Bass steak took me about 16 minutes to cook on a grill uncovered. It usually takes me about 5 minutes to fry it each side on a pan with a little cooking oil.

Steam Red Snapper

(I hate this photo, should have taken from the bottom of the fish. Looks weird.)

This is a dish I learn from combining many recipes I found on the internet. You can't go wrong with it as long as the fish is fresh. Make sure you don't over cook the fish, and make sure the fish is rested on something where the juice can be drained. If you have a bamboo steamer, just leave it on the steamer itself. The sauce can be anything you like. I choose the simplest which is the combination of Soy Sauce, Vinegar and Sesame oil. Then Pour hot oil onto the fish and you will have a restaurant quality steam red snapper!

1 Red Snapper
2 Stocks of Green Onion
1 Small piece of fresh ginger root, enough to slice into 8-10 slices
2 cloves of garlic
4 tablespoon cooking oil
3 tablespoon soya source
2 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil

The fish:
  • Clean and scale the fish thoroughly.
  • Make three diagonal cuts on each side of the fish using a sharp knife. Cut until about half way between the skin and the bone.
  • Rub the cuts with salt, and insert a slice of ginger into each opening.
  • Insert a couple more slices of ginger into the inner part of the fish.
  • Steam the fish directly on a steamer (without placing it on a plate). This is to allow any liquid from the fish to drain.
  • Steam for 11-13 minutes depending on the size of the fish.
The sauce:
  • Mix 3 tablespoons of Soy Source, 2 tablespoon of vinegar and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil.
The oil:
  • Heat 4 tablespoons of cooking oil until it starts smoking.
  • Toss in 2 cloves of dice garlic, and some ginger cut into tiny sticks.
  • Remove the oil from the fire immediately to prevent the garlic from burning.
Final Step:
  • Place the fish on a plate.
  • Drizzle the sauce over the fish.
  • Pour the hot oil onto the fish.
  • Garnish with some cilantros, and green onions. (I have added some Taiwanese sausage in the dish as show in the picture)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Yum Woon Sen (Thai Bean Noodle Salad)

Since I made this yesterday during father's day, I thought I would write it down too. This is a verbally passed recipe from my sister who has live in Bangkok for a few years now. According to her, everything in Thailand is "yum", which means everything is made into the sweet, spicy and sour form. This is my slightly modified version of the recipe.

  • Bean Noodle or Bean Thread (about 2 handful)
  • Half a bunch of cilantro
  • 2 big fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 4 oz of ground chicken
  • 4 cloves of shallot or half a red onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • deep fried shallot
  • 8 medium size scrimp, slice into half (left and right)
  • 2 tablespoon of olive oil
Heat up a sauce pan with 2 tablespoon of olive oil, and throw in the garlic. Add the ground chicken and stir it for about 5 minutes. Get the chicken out, and into the same pan, throw in the scrimps. It should only take 2-3 minutes to get the thinly sliced scrimps cooked.

Soak the dried bean noodle in boiling water until it is soft. Use a scissor to cut the noddle if they are too long. Drain the water. Into a big bowl, mix in all the ingredients that has not been used except the fried shallot. Sprinkler some fried shallot on top of the noddle at the end, and some more cilantro for garnish.

Grill Lobster

(While I was searching through my CF card for a good picture of the grill lobster, I found this cute one taken by my wife. It was perfectly focus on the right eye. I was quite surprised.)

I invited my father-in-law over to our house yesterday and I bought some live lobsters from the supermarket. So, I thought I would write down what I did so that I don't have to figure out from scratch again how to prepare it.

  • 1 or more 1-1.5lb live lobster
  • 1/2 cup of Extra virgin olive oil
  • half a stick of salted butter
  • half a bunch of cilantro coarsely chopped.
  • black pepper
  • kosher salt (regular salt is fine too)
First of all, you have to figure out how to kill the lobster. If you decided you can't do it, go with froze lobster tail. I have not tried it but should turn out pretty good too. Just make sure to thaw it properly.

I am not going to describe how I kill the lobsters yesterday. I bought four and I used 4 different methods until I found one that I think was the most humane. I will save the story for next time.

Cut the lobster tail up into sections. Split the head into two, left and right. you can keep the whole head if you wish but if there is any roe in it, they won't get cooked properly. Chop the craws out and use seafood cracker to crack the craws a bit. You may want to chop the craw into half too. Cut the antenna off.

Put all the lobster parts into a big bow, and drizzle the olive oil in, and mix in the chopped cilantro. Grind some black pepper in and sprinkler a couple teaspoon of salt. Mix the lobster up so that they are wet. We are not marinating, so don't worry if you don't get all the meat soak with olive oil.

20-25 minutes before you are ready to serve, place all the lobster on the grill, shelf side down. Let them cook on the fire for 15 minutes. You can brush some butter on the meat side if you wish. After 15 minutes, turn over the head and tails parts, and let the meat cook, and get some grill mark. Then should be done just right after cooking for 20 minutes, and not more than 25. The craws will take a bit longer, maybe another 10. You can close the grill cover to speed up the cooking if you wish.

The lobster we had yesterday tasted so sweet and I am pretty sure they didn't come from the olive oil. And because I was preparing 4 lobster at once, I didn't manage to get all the ingredient into the meat. So, don't worry too much if you are miss one or two steps. Lobsters are often eaten raw. So, even if it is not fully cook, it can be eaten and taste just fine. So, you will have to discover for yourselves depending on the type of grill you use.

So, next time you have friends coming over for grilling, you know how to impress! :)

Sunday, June 15, 2008


You must be asking why I would post a Tiramisu recipe when this is only my 3rd recipe posts. Well, it just happened that this is the one of the first baking project I have tried and succeeded. I can now make a tiramisu without looking at any recipe.

Actually this recipe involve getting the "cake" part off the shelf, which could otherwise by made from scratch at home. So, by not making the cake, which we substitute by buying off the shelf ladyfinders, there is no baking involve. As a result, this is not an exact science and the variations of the quantity of the ingredient will not screw up your final products.

6 eggs separated into yolks and white
3/4 - 1 cup of sugar
8 to 12 oz of mascarpone cheese
1/2 teaspoon of creme of tartar
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/4oz gelatine unflavored envelope
1 package (3 oz) of ladyfingers
1 cup espresso
4 teaspoon of Kahlur or other coffee liquer. Can be substitute with Rum or Brandy.
1 Tablespoon of cocoa powder

Springform round cake pan (cheese cake pan)
Mixing bowls
Electric mixer
Double Boiler (optioner)
Icing Knife
Lazy Susan (Optional)

My tiramisu is going to be 4-layers, two layers of ladyfingers, and two layers of cream.

Making the cream:
  • Break 6 eggs and separate the egg yorks and white.
  • Mix in half of the sugar, and stir.
  • When the sugar is dissolved, add the mascarpone cheese. 8 oz is enough but if this is the your first time, use 12 oz or even 16 oz so you won't have to waste the remaining from your 16oz jar.
  • Keep mixing with a spatula until everything is blended and smooth. You can use electric mixer too but do go slow.
  • Melt 1 package of gelatine powder in half a cup of hot water. It might be easier if you simmer the water in a small pot. As soon as the powder is dissolved, get it out from the fire, and let it cool to room temperature.
  • Slowly add the gelatine liquid into the mascapone mix one teaspoon at a time and continue mixing.
  • After that, mix in 4 teaspoons of coffee liquer.
  • Now you have half of the the cream ready. Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator.
  • Since we have the egg white, we don't want to throw that away. Let's whisk it up using an electic mixer, and add 1/4 of the sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of creme of tartar.
  • Set the egg white aside.
  • Now, start whisking the cup of heavy cream and add the remaining sugar into it. Whisk until you get a peak. Do not over mix or it will break down into something unuseable.
  • Take out the mascarpone mixture from the fridge, and fold in the egg white, and whipped cream.
  • This is the cream part of your tiramisu.
  • To finish making the cake, all we have to do now is to put all the pieces together
  1. Lay the ladysfinger on an 8 or 10" springform cake pan.
  2. Add 2 teaspoon of coffee liquer into the espresso.
  3. Brush the espresso on top of the ladyfingers until it is somewhat wet. Do not soak the ladyfingers. I sometime forget to brush the ladyfingers and the final product still come out good. But soggy ladyfingers make bad tiramisu.
  4. Pour in 1/3 of your mascarpone cream ontop of the ladyfingers, add more if you need to until the height is about the same as the ladyfingers, about 1/3 of an inch. Use an icing knife to create a smooth surface.
  5. Lay down the remaining ladyfingers on top of the cream and repeat the same steps as before. If you run out of ladyfingers to cover the whole pan, just cover it loosely. Or if you have more to spare, fill in those wholes.
  6. Pour in the remaining mascarpone cream on top of the lady fingers until you reach the top of the cake pan. Don't worry if you don't have enough at this point to go to tall.
  7. Use your icing knife to level off the surface. If you have a lazy susan, it would be a great help spinning the cake while holding the knife still.
  8. Put a parchment paper or just any clean sheet of paper on top of the cake pan. If you didn't fill in to the top of the cake pan, you can use plastic wrap too. Just make sure it is not touching the cream.
  9. Place the cake into the refrigerator for 8 hours. 6 will do if you are in a hurry.
  10. Take out the cake, and sprinkler the cocoa power over the cake with a small sifter. The amount of cocoa power to put on the cake depends on your preference. You can create all kind of other chocolate related stuff to put on it. What I like to do is to pipe fine lines of melted semi-sweet chocholate on the cake and make it like a bird nest. The chocolate will solidify very quick, and the bitter taste of the chocholate goes very well with the the sweet tiramisu.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Custard Creme Puff

There are probably tons of creme puff recipes out there. But I still like the on my mom makes the most, because of the unique custard filling.

A: Shell
10 ozs of water
4 ozs of unsalted butter (salted butter is fine too)
6 ozs of multi purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 while eggs

B: Custard Filling
2 ozs custard powder
1 oz corn flour
5.5 ozs castor sugar (super find sugar)
13 ozs milk
10 ozs water
3 ozs unsalted butter butter
2 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the shell, bring to boil 10 ozs of water. Add 4 ozs of butter to it and stir until it's completely melted. Add 6 ozs of flour and 1 teasppon of baking powder into an electric mixer bowl, and add the melted butter to the flour. Start mixing at low speed until it form a batter. Don't rush this step because this is the chance for the batter to cool down. Then add the 4 eggs one at a time. Wait for each egg to mix into the batter before adding another. Stop when you get a smooth batter.

There are many ways to shape a creame puff shell. If you have learnt it before and please with it, then just use whatever you know. I prefer to scoope it up with a table spoon, and use the help of another spoon to form a ball. You can use an ice cream scoop to make a equally good looking ball too.

Make as many balls as you can and place it on a tray lined with parchment paper . Put in the oven for 20-25 mins (until it is golden brown) at 350F.

Make the filling only after the shells are baked as you will need to fill the shell immediately after the filling is made.

To make the custard filling, add all the ingredients into a small source pan and cook at very low heat. Continue stiring until the mixture thicken to a point it feels like mousse desert you could get from supermarket, or like Wendy's frosty.

Since the filling is going to solidify when it cool down, it needs to be transferred to a piping bag. The type of the pipping bag tip is not important as all you need to do is to pipe the filling into the creme puff shell. Of course, if you can think of another way to inject the filling into the puff shell, it would work too.

The creme puff is tasty eaten when the filling is still hot, or you can leave it in the fridge and let the filling cool down and solidify.

  • Custard power is a British thing. I've seen it sold at the Meijer store in the British food section. You can certainly order online. However, even if you couldn't find it, don't be disappointed because you have open yourself to another chance to learn something great. Why not create custard from scratch? (will write about this at some point)
  • When making the custard filling, make sure go with the lowest setting on your stove as possible, and keep stirring! If you happen to have a double boiler, you can use that instead. That way, it's less likely you will burn it, but you still have to stir.

Why I created this blog.

Over the last 10 summers or so, my mom has enjoyed coming over to my place and stayed for a few months. Since she usually have lots of free time on hand, she took the opportunity to practice the different things she have learn over the last few decades at cooking classes and schools. Sometimes she also tried improving her secret recipes using local ingredients, and make some pocket money selling to local Asian restaurant and grocery stores.

She never handed me any recipe she collected from classes for she knows that I would easily share them with my friends. Her reason was understandable as she has spent lots of money obtaining recipes that are hard to come by. Sometimes, ingredient and some simple instruction can only get you so far. You would need the "secrets" that make your cooking and baking truly unique and great tasting.

Nevertheless, when I expressed interests in making some of the stuff myself, she would start writing them down in small notebook. I never really paid attention to them because when she's here, she would do the cooking or baking anyway. But lately I started become serious in making sure I know how to create some of my favorites food that she has been making all these years for me. And when I dig into those notes and trying to figure out what to do, I realized she has only writing down the ingredients but never write down the instructions! She even went so far as labeling a certain ingredients as "magic power". (I did later figured out the magic pill was baking power)

So, in the past 1 year, I have tried to decipher what she has written, by calling her to ask for the instruction, comparing them with what I could find from the Internet, and actually try them out myself. I have set out to document what I could "reverse engineer".

Besides stuff from my mom's recipe books, I am happy to share what make good home cooking and baking a joy for myself. Since I am merely and engineer who has not culinary training, if I can do it, I am sure many of you can too. The drive behind my efforts has always been the end products themselves. :)

Chiffon Cake

My mom has written down a few versions of Chiffon Cake recipe in her annual cookbooks. I finally had a chance to put together all of them, and tested one that works.

Tools needed:

Angle Cake/Chiffon Cake Pan
Electric Mixer
Measuring spoons

Base Ingredient:

6 eggs
7 oz of flour
1 1/2 cups (6 - 7 oz) of fine sugar
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup (about 4 oz) of cooking oil
6 oz of icy cold water
1/2 teaspoon of creme of tartar (optional)

For flavor:

3/4 cup of orange juice
2 Table spoon (1/2 orange) of orange zest.

Vanilla (plain):
1 teaspoon of vanilla e
1-3 teaspoons of rum or brandy

5 teaspoon of espresso
1-3 teaspoon of rum or brandy
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Part 1
Mix the egg yolks, half of the sugar, salt and corn oil in an electric mixer at slow speed. Slowly add the floor into the mix, and then baking power, and cold water until the batter is smooth.
Add the flavoring ingredient into the batter mix for another 15 seconds or so.

Part 2
In a clean and dry mixing bowl, whisk the egg white at high speed. Add the remaining half of the sugar, and half a teaspoon of Cream of Tartar. Mix for about 4-5 minutes until a stiff foam formed. Don't worry too much about it being too stiff, but make sure it is not too soft either. As long as you can form a peak, it is good enough.

Part 3
Fold the egg white into the batter. Pour the mixture into a angle cake or chiffon cake pan. Place the pan into a preheated oven and bake at 325F for 50 minutes.

Part 4
After 50 minutes, take the pan out from the oven and immediately turn it upside down and let it rest for at least 20 minutes. This would prevent the cake from "deflating" and keep it shape.

Part 5
This is the last part. Take a sharp and long knife and cut along the side of the pan so that can cake can break loose. After removing the side of the tray, use the knife to slowly separate the bottom of the pan from the cake. Turn the cake upside down again on top of a plate or tray, and the cake should drop nicely.

  • Creme of tartar can be purchased at any grocery store. It is usually hidden at the spice section and not baking good section. If you can't find it, just ask.
  • Creme of tartar is a big help in to get the egg white foam to form. Make sure the mixing bowl is free of water, oil, egg yolk or egg shell.