Tuesday, July 28, 2009

rice pudding

Based on this recipe.


* 2 1/2 cups (600 ml) of milk (I use low fat but I think any is fine)
* 1/3 cup (66 grams) of uncooked long or short grain white rice (I used long grain because that's what I have, but I think a short grain would be better)
* 1/8 teaspoon salt
* 1 cardamom pod
* 1 cinnamon stick
* small handful of almonds (maybe 10 or so)
* 1 egg
* sugar (still working on amount; 1/8 c is too much)
* 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract


1. In a medium heavy bottomed saucepan, combine milk, rice, salt, cinnamon stick, cardamom pod, and almonds and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

2. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together egg and sugar until well mixed. Add a half cup of the rice mixture - a tablespoon at a time - beating to incorporate.

3. Add egg mixture back into the saucepan of rice and milk and stir, on low heat, for 10 minutes or so, until thickened. Be careful not to have the mixture come to a boil at this point. Stir in the vanilla.

Serve warm or cold.

Serves 2-3.

When I have a craving, this does it! Just need to try it with short grain rice like arborio or sushi rice.

I could also make it chocolate following these suggestions.

Monday, July 27, 2009

thai basil beef (or holy basil)

3/4 pound flank or flap steak - cut diagonal in thin slices and fry in sesame seed oil at high heat for a short time (keeps it tender) - about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

onions (I use whatever I have on hand - yellow, red, 1/2, whole - whatev. Tonight I used green onions instead)
garlic (I love garlic so I use at least three cloves)
chili peppers (I like to mash them with garlic in the mortar; I use the super hot beautiful little Thai chilis when I can find them - it's a little masochistic but they add a great flavor)

Saute until aromatic.

Add a bunch of vegetables. This is a great dish to throw in whatever is seasonal/on sale.

Suggestions include:
green beans (but they need longer to cook if they're fresh - or blanch/steam first)
various greens
cabbage, especially Chinese types
bell peppers
(I just empty my fridge and have even used cucumbers and tomatoes)

Saute, add more oil and water or stock until tender.

Stir in chopped basil leaves:
approximately 40 leaves of Thai basil and/or holy basil

Add sauce:
about 1 tsp to 1 T each (depends on how much vegetable mass)
fish sauce
oyster sauce
soy sauce (um, no, this isn't salty at all)
sweet chili garlic sauce (or a chili garlic sauce with a little honey or sugar - just a little sweet to emphasize the flavors if nothing else sweet added; can omit this altogether if you use enough garlic & chilis)

Stir through, add meat to reheat and enjoy! I like with freshly steamed rice. We tried once with noodles and I was underimpressed (but I also omitted chilis for a tender-mouth and in general I thought that was icky - the spice is great)

Notes - I really, really like this with holy basil. But I picked up some beautiful cheap Thai basil from the Asian market and it's good.

The meat is easier to cut if slightly frozen. I also chop shorter so it's not long strips. The secret really is to cook on high heat alone for a short time - it's so tender and flavorful.

Every time I make this I love it - a great way to get lots of vegs with such great flavor and protein. But by the fourth day of eating it I'm long tired of it - so I'm going to try freezing half of it and see how that works. I should have under cooked everything and pulled that portion out first. Hm.

Loosely based on this. I'm getting super frustrated because I can't find any of my regular recipes on my regular blog. So I'll post the ones I use most here.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Green Onion Pancakes

AKA Scallion Pancakes, or more commonly known to us Chinese folks as "Chong Yow Bang". ^_^

It's not really a pancake...think of a really thin pizza crust that's crispy on the outside, and just a little chewy on the inside, and flavored with fragrant green onions. =) So it's not really a cake, because it's dough-y, but we Chinese like to use the word "bang" (cookie) for anything that's snack/morsel-like. However, it is made in a pan, so that's part of its name. It may sound weird if you've never had it, but it's quite delicious. I don't know any Chinese person that doesn't like it. =)

I borrowed this book from the library. Pages were ripped out of it...which is sad...but it was good enough that I'm going to buy it online with a gift card I have. =) If you want to try making dim sum, I do recommend it - I've read many dim sum making books, and many are complicated or full of ingredients that are generally hard to find. This one, by far, is the best I've seen.

The recipe is from this wonderful book, and it's amazingly short and simple to make Scallion Pancakes!

1.5 Cups of flour, and more for dusting
1/2 Cup of boiling water
2 Tbsp. cold water
1 Cup of thinly sliced green onions/scallions (about 6)
3 tsp. of toasted sesame oil (or 1 Tbsp shortening...I prefer the oil)
2-4 Tbsp of peanut or vegetable oil to cook


1. Sift the flour into a large bowl, and stir in the bowling water until well blended. Then add the cold water.

2. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 4-5 minutes, until the dough is firm and elastic. Form it into a ball, and dust it with flour before wrapping it in plastic and letting it rest for about 30 minutes.

3. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Cover a baking sheet with a few layers of paper towels, and set it aside.

4. Divide the scallions into 6 parts. Also divide the dough into 6 pieces.

5. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one dough piece into a circle, about 7.5 inches round.

6. Use your fingers to help spread 1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil/shortening onto the dough to within 1/4 inch of the edge, and sprinkle with a scant 1/4 tsp of salt (I used less, about half of that. The first one I made seemed too salty), and top with one part of the scallions. Lightly press everything into the dough.

7. Fold the dough into thirds, and pinch to close the ends before jelly-rolling up the dough loosely on one short end.

8. Turn the coil round side up, dust a little flour on it, and flatten with your fingers, and roll it into a circle...about 5 inches in diameter, or as thick/thin as you'd want your pancake to be.

As you can see above, I need a rolling pin of some sort. Using a cup is difficult, heh heh...subsequent cakes were better rolled (this one, and the following two pictures, are of the first one made. ^_^ The previous pictures were latter cakes. ^_^)

9. Repeat steps 5-8 for all the other dough pieces.

10. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat, and add 1 tsp of oil to cook. When it's almost smoking, place one pancake on the skillet, and cook for 2-3 minutes per side, flipping it over only once, until golden brown and fragrant. Add another tsp of oil when you flip the pancake.

11. Lift an edge of the pancake to check for overbrowning and reduce the heat if needed.

12. Transfer pancakes to a baking sheet and keep it warm in the oven while cooking the rest; cut each pancake into 4-6 pieces when ready to serve...and serve hot and fresh! =)

Some variations you can try:
If you make your cake really thin, it's really good if you roll it up with warmed up roast beef and cilantro (lots of it, if you like it)...and then it becomes this roast beef roll...I think it's Taiwanese. I've had it a few times before with Anna, and it's REALLY good. ^_^

Instead of green onions, you can also exclusively sprinkle a ton of toasted sesame seeds for a sesame version. This pancake is often served green onion style, or sesame style!

Almond Tofu Jello

Don't get scared by the name - there's no tofu in this deliciously light and refreshing dessert! It's basically almond flavored gelatin that looks white because of its ingredients. It's one of my favorite desserts, and I eat it as it is (my brother too...who can eat bowlfuls at a time!), but it's also great on top of a giant scoop of shaved ice drenched in condensed milk. ^_^

This just so happens to be a special recipe. Most of the time, if you buy the almond jello tofu box to make at home, from a regular Chinese grocery store, it's made with a different type of gelatin, a type of agar...something that is denser in texture and chewier. The texture of this one is silky and soft, and many who've tried it say they always like this version better. I hope you will too!

4 Packets of KNOX unflavored gelatin
1 Can (12 oz) of evaporated milk
1.5 Cups of sugar
4 tsp. almond extract
4 Cups of hot, boiling water
2 Cups of cold water
1 Large Can of fruit cocktail (keep the syrup!)

You'll definitely need:
1 9x13 inch glass pan

I've found this to be the perfect size, however, anything that will hold the gelatin will suffice. Glass is preferred because you'll have to slice the gelatin into blocks, and cutting up your metal bakeware is probably not ideal!

You can also make these in little cups, and serve with just a dollop of the fruit cocktail and syrup on top, like in the picture above. =) A lot of Asian restaurants will do that because it's quick and simple to portion out to their guests.


1. Mix the cold water into the gelatin well in your glass pan.

2. Add and stir in the hot water to dissolve the gelatin crystals. Add the sugar till dissolved.

3. Add the almond extract. Stir.

4. Place in the refrigerator, and then add the evaporated milk and mix gently. Because the dish gets very full after adding the milk, it's wise to put the pan into the fridge first!

5. Refrigerate until firm, about 2-3 hours. I usually tend to make this in the morning or at night, and then check on it towards dessert time or when I get up, so it's definitely had enough time to set. It's best to make this ahead of time, as there's absolutely no loss in flavor. =)

6. Cut into square blocks, about 1-2" cubes, so it looks like tofu. =) Serve mixed with fruit cocktail in its syrup. Keeps well for the week, but well, it never lasts that long...=)

Somali tea

This is really chai-esque. It's super yummy and I'm very excited because I just got

and that makes it even easier to make. Yay!

My Somalian friend Asha made this once and I modified her instructions to make the perfect tea for me. The point? You can add and mix it up however you like. But I tell you: I never would have gotten through the bar exam preparation without this!

Put into tea kettle:

1/2 mug of milk
1 1/2 mugs of water (she says should be equal amounts of milk & water)
2-3 teabags (I use one reg and two decaf)
5 or so cardamom pods
a stick or two of cinnamon, broken into pieces
a hunk of ginger chopped (mine's always frozen, so not very well chopped)
4-5 cloves
sugar or honey (I put in about a teaspoon but most people like it sweeter)

Heat it all up together. Let it simmer, turn it off, heat it up again. Stir so it doesn't boil over or burn. Enjoy!

red lentil soup

This is from here, and one of my very favorite staples. I make it often, usually from homemade stock I freeze. Tastes much more sophisticated than the simplicity of its manufacture! Unfortunately the red lentils lose their pretty color in the cooking, the flavor makes up for it!

1/2 - 1 onion
2 or so cloves of garlic
(also a chili pepper would be quite nice)

Add 1 c red lentils to toast a bit.

Add 4 c stock.

Cook about half an hour, until lentils are soft.

2 T lemon juice (I freeze in ice cube trays: each cube is 2 T)
1 tsp+ cumin (or ras el hanout or another spice/mixture, but cumin is splendid)
salt and pepper to taste (more if it's homemade stock and not bouillon with all those horrible additives)

Very good with hummus and pita, or Gail's chong yow bang.