Embrace the love day.

February 10, 2011 at 8:29 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Valentines day will be here in less than a week. People generally fall on two sides of the Valentine’s day spectrum; you have those who love the holiday and then, there are those who hate it.

Well, I embrace February 14th. I think that I have said this before but I truly believe that Valentine’s day is a day to enjoy. Some people might argue that it is a hallmark holiday and I suppose one could interpret it as such. However, I view it as a day to show your loved ones how you feel. In today’s society, people tend to get caught up in activities, work and, even, play which leaves little time to vocalize the love you have for the one’s around you.

At my household we don’t buy cards; we make them. There are no chocolates bought– no cakes, no sugary confectionaries, nothing of the sort. Everything we do is made from scratch and with love (I realize that is cliche but aren’t many aspects of life cliche?).

So for those of you who detest Valentine’s day, I ask you to take time and express your feelings to the one’s you love. Take time. Don’t rush the process. Make yourself happy and others happy.

And, that is what Valentine’s Day is about.

As a special treat for my children and husband I made Mini Melon-pans. While the average North American might not be familiar with the baked good, it is quite popular in Asia. They are comprised of sweet yeast bun that is covered with a cookie like crust and, in my opinion, quite delicious. So delicious in fact that I have submitted this recipe to YeastSpotting.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone–may your heart be filled with love.

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Mini Melon-Pans (adapted from Happy Home Baking)

Ingredients
(makes 12 mini buns)

Dough Ingredients:

  • 160g bread flour
  • 30g cake flour
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp instant yeast
  • 10g milk powder
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 100ml water
  • 15g unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp cocoa powder
  • A few drops of red food colouring gel

Pastry Ingredients:

  • 45g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 40g icing sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 10g milk powder
  • 70g cake flour
  • 1/2 tsp cocoa powder
  • A few drops of red food colouring gel

Method:
Prepare Bread Dough – Place water, egg yolk, salt, sugar, bread flour, cake flour, milk powder and yeast in the pan of the bread machine (according to the sequence as stated in the instruction manual of your bread machine).

Select the Dough function of the bread machine and press start. After about 8mins of kneading (the ingredients should form a smooth dough by now), add in the 15g of butter. Let the machine continue to knead the dough. After the kneading cycle has stopped (20mins), Stop and Restart the machine. Continue to let the machine
knead for another 10mins. Stop the machine and remove dough from the bread pan. Divide the dough into 3 equal portions (about 120g each). With lightly floured hands, take one portion of the dough and knead in cocoa powder, until the cocoa powder is fully incorporated into the dough adding flour if dough becomes too sticky. Repeat the same for the other dough with food colouring. Leave the third dough plain. Shape each dough into a smooth round and place in separate lightly oiled mixing bowls, cover with cling wrap and let them rise till double in volume about 50 ~ 90mins.

Prepare Pastry Dough –

With an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream butter & icing sugar till pale and fluffy. Add in egg yolk gradually and beat until combined. Add in milk powder and cake flour. Fold with a spatula and gather the mixture to form a dough.

Divide the pastry into 3 equal portions. Knead in cocoa powder, red food colouring separately into two of the portions, leave the 3rd portion plain. Divide each pastry dough into 4 smaller portions. You should have 12 doughs in total.

Cover with cling wrap and leave it aside for 10 mins. When ready, remove bread doughs and give each dough a few light kneading on a lightly floured work surface.

Press out the trapped air as your knead. Divide each dough further into 4 smaller portions (about 30g each) and shape into balls. Flatten each pastry dough into a round disc. Wrap each bread dough with it’s corresponding pastry dough. Wrap the pastry dough over about 2/3 of the bread dough, leaving the bottom 1/3 unwrapped.

Place doughs in paper muffin cups, cover loosely with a damp cloth or cling wrap and let dough proof for 25 – 30mins or till the dough reaches almost to the rim of the paper cup.

Bake at preheated oven at 375 degrees for about 18 mins. Rotate the buns halfway into baking to ensure even browning. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack.

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A gung hay fat choi Valentine’s day fusion

February 14, 2010 at 9:13 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Today is Valentine’s day and Chinese new year. I absolutely love both holidays and I am so happy that they fall on the same day this year.

I could talk about both holidays but I have decided to focus this post more on Valentine’s day.

Many people say that you either love Valentine’s day because you have someone, you despise it because you don’t have anyone or you hate it because you deem it as a consumer holiday.

The way I view Valentine’s day is just a day of love–a day to express to everyone the love you have for them. I know that many people say we should express our love everyday and we don’t need a holiday to do it. But, the reality is that people our busy and get caught up in their day-to-day life (or at least that is what I find).

Valentine’s day is a time where you are forced to recognize the loved one’s in your life. I feel that Valentine’s day is for those with significant others and those without.

Growing up I never had a Valentine. I actually didn’t have my first Valentine until four years ago and that was my husband. And though I never had a special sweetheart, I relished in the love the day brings.

The love I have for my mother; the love I have for my father; the love I have for my brother; the love I have for my friends and family; the love I have for humanity.

It didn’t matter if I had someone or not. What mattered was that I recognized that the world was celebrating a day of love.

To this day, my husband and I don’t buy cards for each other. Instead, we make cards. We show our love through affection and not presents. I make my family a meal out of love, which really isn’t any different than usually but you get the picture.

And that, I think, is what Valentine’s day is really about.

Here is a recipe for a dessert that I made for my family. I call it an international cheesecake because it combined Japanese cheesecake and american cheesecake together–perfect for a Chinese New Year’s valentines! If you want to make the Japanese cheesecake by itself you can too.

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International Cheesecake

Ingredients:

For Japanese Cheesecake:

  • One 7oz package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs, room temperature and seperated
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp cake flour
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar

For White chocolate American Cheesecake:

  • 1/4 cup white chocolate
  • One 7 oz package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

For raspberry sauce:

  • 1 1/2 cup frozen raspberries (or fresh, I just had frozen on hand)
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 3 tbsp sugar or more depending on your taste

For garnish:

  • Raspberries
  • White chocolate, melted

Method for cheesecake:
Prepare a 9 inch cheesecake pan by greasing it; set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment beat together cream cheese and milk until smooth. It is important to get the cream cheese smooth at this point so that you do not have to overbeat the mixture later which will result in the cheesecake cracking.

Once the mixture is smooth add the sugar, egg yolks, flour, cornstarch, vanilla and cocoa. Beat until smooth.

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites with an electric hand mixer until eggs become foamy. Slowly add the sugar and cream of tartar while constantly beating on high. Beat until soft peaks appear (8-10 minutes).

Slowly and gently fold the egg whites into the cream cheese mixture until combined.

Pour mixture into prepared cake pan and now start on the american cheesecake batter.

Place white chocolate in a microwavable proof dish. Put white chocolate in microwave and do the following: heat for 30 seconds; stir; heat for another 30 seconds; stir; heat for 10 seconds and stir until chocolate melts. Set aside to cool.

In a bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment cream together cream cheese and sugar. Cream on medium-high until smooth.

Beat in one egg at a time making sure that each egg is fully mixed in.

Turn mixer to slow speed and then and beat in chocolate, milk and vanilla.

Remove bowl from mixer and pour into cake pan on top of Japanese cheesecake mixture.

Bake in a preheated oven for 40 minutes or until centre is set.

Once done turn off oven. Leave cheesecake in oven with door ajar for one hour. Then remove cake, cover with tinfoil and place in fridge overnight.

Method for raspberry topping:

Mash raspberries together. Place in a saucepan over medium high heat with sugar and water. Bring to a boil. Cover saucepan and reduce heat to low and allow raspberries simmer for 20 minutes making sure to stir ever so often.

Taste raspberries as the cook adding more sugar if you find them too tart. I personally enjoy the raspberries semi tart as I find they play off the sweetness of the white chocolate.

Remove saucepan from from heat and pour into a bowl. Place in fridge and let chill for about an hour.

Assembling:

Remove cake and sauce from fridge. Pour sauce over cheesecake and spread with spatula. Garnish with raspberries and if you want put melted chocolate in a sandwich bag, cut the tip and write a lovely message.

My husband’s wanting wontons

February 13, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I love my husband; well, I guess that is obvious seeing as I did marry him.  He is a great guy and a terrific dad but when it comes to being a husband he is kind of clueless, which I think is hilarious.

I have so many funny stories about him.  The most recent happened about a month ago when our baby girl started teething.  During that time we were getting very little sleep.  I had to spend most of my nights downstairs with the baby in the swing.  I would get a hour of sleep every two hours if I was lucky.

So one night the baby was acting up I got out of bed and took her downstairs.  Like always my husband followed to try and help out.  Because he works ten hour days and needs his sleep more than me I told him to go to sleep.  He asked if he could do anything for me and I told him that it was quite cold downstairs and all I had was a thin sheet.  A thin sheet does not cut it during the winter in Whistler.  My husband then runs upstairs and I have a big smile on my face because I know he is going to bring down our big comforter for me.  Finally he comes downstairs with two housecoats and lies them over me.  I just had to laugh to myself and fall asleep with the warmth of the housecoats to keep me cozy. Later when I mentioned it to him he felt really bad. In his defence, his thought process was that the comforter is an entity of the bedroom so he never thought about taking it out of the bedroom–he has a philosophy degree so maybe his thoughts are just too philosophical for the likes of me.

He does stuff like that all the time.  I won’t even mention how he proposed.  But, I really love it.  It brings a smile to my face every time I think about how hard he tries to make me happy yet how unconventional his actions are.

That being said, when I asked him what he wanted for his Valentines/Chinese New Year dinner he said wontons. Though he knows wonton’s take a lot of work he doesn’t realize that someone has to do the work. I don’t mind though because I love him so much. The reason wonton’s take a lot of effort is because wrapping the wontons is a long job. The meat mixture itself is quite easy. These wontons are worth the trouble.

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Wonton soup
Makes about 60 wontons

Ingredients:

Wontons:

  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp soya sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/8 tsp white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 package of won ton wrappers

Broth:
1 tbsp vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp ginger, finely chopped
1/2 cup green onions
2 boxes (900 ml) of low-sodium chicken broth (you may want to add more broth depending on how you like your wonton to broth ratio)
2 cups bok choy, chopped

Method for wontons:
In a medium sized bowl mix together all the ingredients for the wontons: pork, egg, soya sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, white pepper, onion powder and garlic; set aside. Fill a small bowl with water; set aside. Remove the won tons from the package and cover with a damp towel.

Take a won ton wrapper from beneath the towel making sure that the other wrappers are always covered with a towel. This prevents the other wrappers from drying out.

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Position the wonton wrapper so a corner faces you.

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Spoon a little under a teaspoon on to the bottom quarter of the wrapper.

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Dip your finger in the small bowl of water and wipe finger on the bottom corner of the wonton wrapper and fold it over the meat.

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Roll up until a triangle is formed.

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Dip finger in water again and wet the sides of the triangle making sure there are no air bubbles.

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Cross each side of the triangles over another and hold to make sure a seal forms.

Place on a plate and repeat.

I usually like to make my wonton’s a week or sometimes a month before I make soup. I basically just make wonton’s whenever I have time.

So once I have finished my wontons I line a baking sheet with parchment paper and then lie the won tons flat. I then put the baking sheet in the freezer to flash freeze them.

After 30-60 minutes I place the wontons into a ziplock bag and then put the back in the freezer.

When I am ready to make wonton soup I simmer them in the broth from frozen for about 10-15 minutes.

Method for broth:

In a stock pot heat oil. Add ginger and garlic and cook for about 3 minutes. Stir constantly with a spoon to make sure garlic and ginger does not burn.

Add chicken broth and green onions and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for 25-30 minutes.

Add bok choy and simmer for 3 minutes.

Then, gently put the wontons in and cook for about 5- 7 minutes while stirring very gently. When wontons are cooked they will float.

If using frozen wontons do not defrost. Place gently in broth and cook for about 10-15 minutes.

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