Tuesday, 8 February 2011

[Valentine's Day Dish] Spice Up Your Love

Almost every year during the month of February, it is always full of Excitement and Happiness whereby everyone is looking forward to either Chinese Lunar New Year, Yuan Xiao Jie(15th Day of Chinese New Year or known as Chinese Valentine’s Day) or 14th February, Valentine’s Day.

I remembered last year I made some delicious Valentine’s Day cookies (recipe HERE) to share with my friends and family, which makes them feel warm and loved. And for this year Valentine’s Day I am honor to host one of the monthly “Aspiring Bakers” event organised by, Small Small Baker with the theme for February on “Love In The Air”. So here goes my two recipes for this month submission……..

During Chinese New Year, “Mandarin Orange() and “Tangerine(橘子)” are considered traditional symbols of abundance and good fortune. These fruits are frequently displayed as decoration or presented as gifts to friends and relatives. In traditional Chinese medicine the dried peel of the Mandarin Orange is also used in the regulation of “Chi” and treat abdominal distension, enhance digestion and etc.

I am sure most of us who celebrates Chinese New Year(CNY) will sure to have some left over Mandarin Oranges that we bought for the traditional CNY door to door house visiting to your friends or relatives. So if you are cracking your head on what to do with those extra oranges, here are two simple recipes that which I made use of Mandarin Oranges to whip out coming Valentine’s Day dish.


Preparation: 20 Minutes                                     Cooking Time: 10 Minutes

Ingredients: (serves 2)
1 Skinless Chicken Breast(about 250g), cut into chunks
A pinch of White Pepper
1 Teaspoons Soy Sauce
1/2 Teaspoon Cooking Wine
1/2 Tablespoons Corn Flour
6 Dried Red Chilies, rinse with water
4 Slices Of Ginger, cut into heart shapes
4 Cloves Garlic
1 Medium Red Onion, cut into wedges
1 Whole Mandarin Orange Skin, cut into heart shapes
1 Mandarin Orange, peel into individual segments
2 Stalks Spring Onion, cut into section
20g Roasted Cashew Nuts, optional

Seasoning Sauce:
50ml Mandarin Orange Juice
1.5 Tablespoons Water
1/2 Teaspoon Sugar
1 Teaspoon Soy Sauce
1/2 Tablespoon Dark Soy Sauce
1/2 Teaspoon Chinese White Rice Vinegar

~ If Mandarin Orange is not in season, you can replace it with some sweet Orange.

~ Slowly remove the outer skin of the Mandarin Orange, then use any small "Heart Shape" cookie cutter to cut out "hearts" from it.

1. Marinade the chicken pieces with pepper, soy sauce, wine and corn flour; mix well and set aside.

2. Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl; set aside.

3. Preheat frying pan and pan-fried chicken till golden brown on each side. Remove and set aside.

4. Return the wok to medium high heat with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the dried chilies and stir-fry briefly until they are fragrant.

5. Toss in the onion, ginger, garlic and stir-fry for another 30 seconds before adding the mandarin orange peel and continue to saute till the oil is fragrant.

6. Next add in chicken and sauce mixture, stir till thicken then toss in orange segments, cashew nuts and spring onion to coat evenly with sauce. Serve immediately with Orange Scented Rice(recipe HERE).

This dish is infused with great aroma and hint of spiciness from the "dried chilies". While the sauce itself has a balance mixture of sweet and sour taste from the orange juice which blends well with all the chicken and firm orange segments when consume.

I think this is the 2nd recipe which I have incorporate fresh fruit in a stir-fry dish, where the 1st recipe on about the "Stir-Fried Pork Fillet With Longan". But if you prefer something lighter perhaps you can take a look at this "Steam Cod With Tangerine" which includes "Mandarin Orange" as one of the ingredient too.

I am also submitting this post to "Aspiring Bakers #4: Love In The Air! (Feb 2011)", hosted by Me(Cuisine Paradise) at this link HERE.

[Valentine's Day Dish] My Sweetheart ~ Orange Scented Rice

Most of us loves the nice and fragrant aroma filling up from our kitchen while cooking one of our usual staple food, "steamed rice". But other than the usual white rice that we consume daily there are still many different varieties of ways and recipes whereby you can turn this simple food into simple interesting and nutritious.

This year for our Valentine's theme dish, I have made these "Orange Scented Rice" to pair with another "Stir-fried Chicken with Mandarin Orange" where fresh orange zest and juice are used in both dishes.


Preparation: 20 Minutes                                     Cooking Time: 10 - 15 Minutes

Ingredients: (serves 2)
1 Cup Uncooked Rice
4 Cloves
3 Green Cardamom Pods
2cm Long Cinnamon Stick
2 Cloves Garlic
2 Shallots, thinly sliced
1/2 Tablespoon Olive Oil
Rind of half Mandarin Orange, thinly shred
1 Teaspoon Chicken Stock Powder
100ml Fresh Mandarin Orange Juice
1 Cup Water

1.5 Tablespoon Golden Raisin
1.5 Tablespoon Almond Flakes, lightly toasted
1/2 Tablespoon Sliced Spring Onion, optional

The adding of spices such as "Cloves, Cinnamon and Cardamom" infused the rice dish with a special fragrant that blends well with the fresh orange juice and zest. And it makes this rice taste similar to those "Biryani" rice which cooks with similar spices.

1. Preheat the frying pan with oil and saute Onion, Garlic, Cloves, Cinnamon and Cardamon until the onion slices turned soft and slightly golden brown.
2. Toss in shredded Orange peel and saute it for another 10 seconds before adding in the rice and chicken stock powder, stir well until the rice is coated with oil.
3. Transfer the rice into rice cooker or thermal pot, add in orange juice and water then cook until the rice is done.
4. Open the cooker lid, stir in golden raisins, cover and let it stand for another 5 minutes.
5. To serve, remove the spices(Garlic, Cloves, Cinnamon and Cardamom) from the cooked rice then using a folk to fluff in almond flakes and spring onion till well mixed.
6. Spoon the rice mixture into "heart shape" sushi mould and shaped into "Onigiri(rice ball)".

This "Orange Scented Rice" has a sweet taste from the orange juice and golden raisin together with a nutty flavour complements from the Almonds. And this goes perfectly well with the "Stir-fried Chicken With Mandarin Orange"(recipe HERE) where you can makes good used of those left-over Mandarin Oranges from Chinese New Year.

I am also submitting this post to "Aspiring Bakers #4: Love In The Air! (Feb 2011)", hosted by Me(Cuisine Paradise) at this link HERE.

Orange Scented Onigiri on Foodista

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Quick & Easy Egg Tarts

Talking about Egg Tart(蛋挞) or Egg Custard Tart I am sure most of us will link it up with "Dim Sum", "Yum Cha" or Hong Kong famous Tai Cheong Bakery(泰昌餅家) Egg Tart where the filling is extremely soft and flows into your mouth when bite.

Basically egg tarts come with two main types of crusts which is either “Shortcrust” or “Puff” pastry with Egg Custard as traditional fillings. But now with wider customers range from different countries and age group, newer fillings like Chocolate, Green-tea, Orange and even Bird Nest is available during different occasions.

Recently I have come across two egg tart posts from to lovely ladies that stir-up my thoughts of making these lovely tea-snack to serve my guests during Chinese New Year. For your interest you can also read up their post at "Egg Tarts (Dan Tat)" from Tale of Crumbs and "Tai Cheong Bakery Egg Tarts - Not!" from Ju's of Little Teochew blog.

Ingredients for Egg Custard: (makes 6, 3" Tarts)
15g Caster Sugar
40ml Water
1 Large Egg
20ml Fresh Milk
1 Teaspoon Condensed Milk

1. Boil water with sugar till melted and keep aside till cool. (you can dissolved the sugar in hot boiling water too)
2. Crack the egg in a small mixing bowl, add in fresh milk and condensed milk then gently stir with a whisk till well mixed.(becareful not to over whisk)
3. Add in cooled sugar syrup and stir well.
4. Sift the entire mixture through finest sieve twice to get ride of any egg clusters.
5. Carefully fill the prepared tart shells with egg mixture till the rim.
6. Bake in preheat 140 degree oven for about 20 minutes or till egg custard achieve the pudding like texture.


~ The Egg Custard recipe is adapted and modify from Tale of Crumbs, original recipe HERE.

~ You can use any Shortcrust Dough recipe for this egg tart shells. I use the remanding dough from my pineapple tarts dough.

Ingredients Pastry Dough:
150g Plain Flour
20g Milk Powder
1/2 Tablespoon Icing Sugar
125g Cold Butter, cubed
1/2 Egg Yolk, lightly beaten
1/4 Teaspoon Vanilla Essence

1. Sieve flour, milk powder and icing sugar in a mixing bowl.
2. Rub in butter until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. (must be fast or else the butter will melt and the dough will became very soft)
3. Beat in the egg yolk and essence.
4. Mix well to form a dough. Place in a plastic bag and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
5. Roll pastry out to 0.5 cm thickness on a lightly-floured tabletop and cut out rounds to fix the tart cases.
6. Gently press the dough into the tart case and trim away any excess, chilled the prepared cases for another 5 minutes in the fridge.
7. Use a fork to prick some holes on the pastry shell before putting the tart case into the preheated 160 degree oven.
8. Bake tart shells on middle rack for 10 minutes or till slightly brown, remove and cool the shells for about 10 minutes before filling it with the prepared egg custard.

If you prefer to make these egg tarts in a much hassle free way, you can always purchase those ready-made shortcrust pastry from any local supermarket. Cut and fix them into the tart cases and go ahead with the egg custard preparation and you would enjoy fresh and pipping hot delicious egg tarts in less than 30 minutes. 

Quick and Easy Egg Tarts

Friday, 4 February 2011

Reunion Dinner At Peach Garden, 33 OCBC Centre

Last year our combined family reunion dinner was organised by my brother and it was held at "Si Chuan Dou Hua Restaurant - 四川豆花饭庄" at UOB Plaza(post HERE). And this year it will be my cousin's turn to source for the dinner venue as well as selection of menu.

Finally after some research he decided to held the dinner at one of the newest "Peach Garden(桃苑)" outlet at level 33, OCBC centre.

From the photo above, you can glance that our menu for this year is "Chef's Recommendation Lunar New Year Special Set Menu" that consists of 1 Yu Sheng as appetiser, 5 Main Courses and 2 Desserts to cater for 12 Adults.

Upon arriving at the restaurant there is a pool of "Tangerine()" available near the entrance counter for customers to pick up as a symbolise of "Good Luck". Other than tangerines there are also bottles of  Peach Garden homemade special "XO Sauce" on sale for customers to purchase home.

Before dinner starts there are some delicious "Almond Cookies(杏仁饼)" from Peach Garden that is served as snack. And most of us who tried agrees that these cookies do taste light with a hint of delicate Almond flavor that is not too overpowering. Some even believes that Almond cookies symbolise "COINS" which will bring good fortune too.

As usual the 1st dish for any Chinese New Year Menu will be "Yu Sheng(鱼生)" which symbolise good luck, prosperity, promotion and etc. According to the waitress this dish is known as "福星高照" and she will help to add/pour in the ingredients one at time with auspicious greetings used for Chinese New Year before we starts our "Lo Hei(撈起)".

Other than the usual Shark's fins and Abalones, "Roasted Golden Suckling Pig(金陵片披乳猪)" is another popular dish to be included in traditional Chinese New Year Reunion menu which symbolise "Gold and Good Luck". For this dish the crispy skin layers are eaten with either flat bun or thin wrapper together with hoisin sauce.

While the reminding parts of the suckling pig is usual cut into small pieces and braised with "Mei Cai(梅菜)"  or deep-fried with seasoning shown above. Eveyone comments that this is indeed a very delicious dishe as the crispy outer layer is being infuse with a light and tasty salt and pepper seasoning which makes it goes choice to go with either beer or wine.

Next on the list is this "Double-boiled Shark's Fin with Shrimp Dumpling and Mustard Green Soup(亭汤中鲍翅水饺菜胆). To me this soup is nothing really special perhaps just a good soup broth that tops with a small piece of "Sharks Fin" and Shrimp dumpling.

This "Braised 1 Head Whole Abalone with Sea Cucumber and Lettuce(原只1头鲍鱼海参菜)" is one of my aunt's family favourite dish as they loves the texture of Abalones.To us the sea cucumber is nicely cooked with a soft and gluey texture but the abalone was rather a bit bland to taste. Still prefer the braised abalone from Ah-Yat or Owen.

The "Braised Soon Hock with Yam Paste(芋泥焖笋壳鱼)" was rather miserable in appearance and taste. Before this dish is serve I was rather excited to see how the chef will incorporate "Yam Paste" into the dish but when it comes the serving appearance immediately gives it a "F" grade. Perhaps the waitress are pretty busy and they did not even ask us whether to serve the fish in whole or in individual portion. And we can only see a few yam cubes in it rather than what is mentioned as "Yam Paste" so I think there is nothing special about this dish which is just braised fish with yam cubes in sauce.

Last dish is "Saute Live Prawns with Noodles and Homemade Sauce(干爆生虾捞面)" with lots of LEEKS(蒜) that symbolise "money" whereas the noodles in this dish symbolise "longevity in health".

Finally it's Dessert time, as usual there are two different types of dessert in the Chinese New Year menu. The 1st one shown on the photo is "Dried Glutinous Rice Ball(干捞汤圆)" where the black sesame fillings rice ball is coated with grind peanuts.

Second dessert is rather something new apart from those usual mango pomelo or red bean soup. This is known as "Ice Refreshing Pearl Tea(冰凉珍珠茶)" that serves with mini chewy pearls and cold refreshing jelly together with fragrant tea.

Overall this is a great Reunion Dinner where everyone gets together and stay as a family that shares happiness and funtime. And as usual every year after reunion dinner, Uncle James will give each of us an advance ang bao known as "Ya Sui Qian(压岁钱). In the olden days, during Chinese New Year eve the elders will prepared some advance money to be given to the younger generation as this said New Year's money is use to suppress the evil spirit and the junior will have money to spend in peace in coming New Year.