Healthy Banana Muffins香蕉玛芬蛋糕xiāng jiāo mǎ fēn dàn gāo

cover.jpgThe beautiful aroma of the fresh bananas fills the room when these muffins are taken out of the oven – there is no better way to welcome kids back after their good and long day at school. These muffins are not fancy, but ultra soft, moist and flavorful. The majority of the moisture comes from yogurt and bananas. Kids love them and we all do. It is also a great way to make good use of overripe bananas which we have them at home all the time.

 Makes 12 muffins,

  • 1 and ½ cups         all-purpose or plain flour中筋面粉
  • 1 teaspoon    baking powder 泡打粉
  • 1 tablespoon   baking soda小苏打
  • 2-3           overripe bananas熟透的香蕉
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 small carton    yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons   brown sugar or caster sugar (adjust the volume of sugar to your taste)
  • 1/3 teaspoon       vanilla essence
  • 35g        butter (melted and cool it off)IMG_3785.jpg

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 175℃ or360°F. Line muffin tin (regular size, not jumbo, not mini) with baking cups/cupcake wrappers.  In the meantime, melt the butter in microwave or on the stove and cool it off.img_3799.jpg
  2. In a mixing bowl, place peeled bananas and make the banana mash.
  3. Then add into eggs, yogurt, brown sugar, a drop of vanilla essence and melted butter.
  4. In another medium bowl, mix together plain flour, baking powder and baking soda. Set the flour mix aside. Mix well. Add into the liquid mix indicated in step 2 above.
  5. Use a spatula to fold and combine the ingredients well until you can’t see flour anymore。
  6. Now pour batter into a lined muffin tin. I use a level ice cream scoop for even measuring. Fill liners to about 2/3 full (do not over-fill).IMG_3798.jpg
  7. Place the muffin tin into the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 25 minutes. You can insert a toothpick into the center of the muffin. The muffin is done if the toothpick comes out clean.IMG_3800.jpg
  8. Remove the tin from oven and place it on the cooling rack for about 10 minutes. Then enjoy.IMG_3804.jpg

Crispy Roasted Chicken脆皮鸡cuì pí jī

coverCan not ask a simpler way to roast a Chinese-flavoured chicken. The skin is golden and extremely crunchy while white meat is tender and juicy.

Serve 2-4

  • I whole chicken, 1.3 kg
  • 200g                       baby tomatoes, sliced into half
  • 6-7 cloves            garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons    cooking oil
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Dip sauce (optional):
  • 2 tablespoons                   light soy sauce
  • A few red chilies             slicedIMG_1353.jpg

 Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C°.
  2. Half the baby tomatoes. Roughly the garlic. Place 2 tablespoons of cooking oil in a frying pan. Stir fire the garlic and tomato over low-medium heat for about 3-5 minutes. Season the mixture with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. Pat dry the whole chicken and tuck into with the tomato and garlic mixture.IMG_1361.jpg
  4. Sprinkle the chicken with about 1.5 tablespoons of freshly ground sea salt.
  5. Place the chicken onto an aluminium foil lined tray. Place it in the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes till golden.
  6. Move the chicken out of the oven. Use a spoon to scoop out of the tomato and garlic mixture. Use a knife to scrap the salt on the surface of the chicken. Slice the chicken and top with the tomato and garlic mixture.

 

 

Stem Lettuce Salad凉拌莴笋丝liáng bàn wō sǔn sī

cover1Stem lettuce, also called celery lettuce, asparagus lettuce, is uniquely grown and enjoyed in China. The flavor and taste are reminiscences of both celery and lettuce. The tender pale green leaves (油麦菜) and white stems(莴笋), can be prepared separately and served as cold appetizers, salads or stir-fired dishes. Chinese believe that the stem lettuce is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals.

Serves 4-6

 Vinegar dressing

  • 5 sprigs                                spring onions, roughly chopped,香葱切丝
  • 4 tablespoons                     Cooking oil
  • 2 tablespoons                    Chinese white rice vinegar 白米醋
  • 2 tablespoons                   Chinkiang vinegar镇江香醋
  • 2 teaspoons                       Sesame oil 香油
  • 1/2 teaspoon                     table salt
  • 1 tablespoon                     light soy sauce 生抽
  • 2 teaspoons                       caster sugar白糖

___________________________________________________________________________

  • 750g           Stem Lettuce莴笋一根 (You likely to get about 500g of the ingredient after peeling and removing the tough parts);  cut into thin strips
  • 1/3 teaspoon      salt
  • ¼ cup              dried wood ears mushroom木耳, rehydrated and roughly chopped
  • 1-2 Red Chili Pepper       Red chili pepper or red bell pepper, thinly sliced,红辣椒切丝 (optional)

Method

  1. Prepare a clean cutting board. Peel the lettuce stem and get rid of the tough end if any. When peeling, make sure you get rid of the tough white strings attached between the green core and skin.
  2. Move the clean lettuce stem onto the cutting board. Let introduce the ‘Bias Slicing” cutting technique to prepare the lettuce stem strings. Hold a small chef’s knife or cleaver at a 45-degree angle to the vegetable. Make the first cut. Continue making cuts at the same angle as the first cut, spacing the cuts evenly. Try to make your slices as thin as possible but please be careful not cutting yourself. Now use your knife patting down the stack of slices. Then hold your knife at 90-degree and cut the vegetable to thin strips. If this sounds complicated, just use Julienne cutting to prepare the vegetable strips as thin as you can handle.
  3. Place in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of salt. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  4. In the meantime, let’s make Salad Dressing. Heat the cooking oil over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add spring onions and fry over low medium heat for about 5 minutes. Drain by removing the caramelized spring onions. This will yield 3 tablespoons of spring onions oil.spring onions oil.JPG
  5. Place the spring onions oil in a mixing bowl. Add into rest of the vinegar dressing seasonings. Mix well. Set aside.
  6. Bring a pot of water to a boil and blanch rehydrated wood ears mushrooms. Drain. Rinse it under running water to cool off.IMG_2324
  7. Now return the lettuce stem strips. Use your hand squeeze the juice out of the vegetable. Move the juice out of the bowl. Add into the wood ears mushroom and sliced red chili pepper.
  8. Pour the vinegar dressing onto the sliced lettuce stem. Mix well.IMG_2329
  9. Chill in the fridge for a half hour then enjoy.

Chinese Hot Dog Bun中式热狗zhōng shì rè gǒu

cover.jpgThese fluffy, chewy buns are not only delicious, they are also very convenient to prepare with a large quantity, freeze and reheat. They make great party food as well as quick and healthy meals or snacks for kids.

 Yields about 6 Buns

  • 200g                All-purpose flour or plain flour 中筋面粉
  • 4g (or 1/2 tablespoon)  yeast酵母
  • 3g (or 1 teaspoon)     baking powder泡打粉
  • 15g        (or 1 tablespoon)             caster sugar
  • 110g                water in room temperature
  • 6                   good-quality hot dog sausage, 15cm in length each
  • 1 tablespoon         cooking oilIMG_1923

Method

  1. Place the flour, baking powder, sugar and yeast in a mixing bowl and gradually add in the 110g water. Use your fingers to bring the mixture together and make a dough. Knead the dough for about 6 minutes till it is smooth. Cover the bowl with clingy film. 

  2. Rest for 30 minutes till the dough rises and doubles in size (room temperature in 28C°or so). Dough resting time varies depending on the room temperature.
  3. Now let’s make the hot dog. Roll dough into a long cylinder, then cut off 6 pieces of dough, about 50g each. Dust them lightly with flour. Stand them cut-side up and press down them into and roll them into a strip (about the length of hot dog sausage). Cover those dough strips and let them rest for another 5 minutes. 

  4. Pick one dough strip and roll it out to a rope from middle towards both ends (like you shape baguette). The rope should be 4 times longer than the strip. Then wrap the rope around the sausage. Tuck in the loose ends. 

  5. Place all the buns in parchment paper lined steamer baskets – make sure there is space between the buns, as they will expand. Leave the buns to rest for 30 minutes – this is the 2nd rise for the dough.IMG_1928.JPEG
  6. Fill a steamer pot or wok with water. Place the bamboo baskets or any the stainless steamer you would have. Cover the steamer. Turn to the high heat and cook for about 12 minutes. Turn off the heat. Don’t open the lid yet. Let it rest for 5 minutes then open the lid. This is an important step, because if you remove the lid too early, the buns will collapse and lose their fluffy shape! You can enjoy the buns now. 

  7. Or lightly coat the frying pan with cooking oil. Place the steamed buns onto the pan. Fry over medium heat for a few minutes till bottom is golden.IMG_1932.JPEG
  8. Done! Serve it with Ketchup if you like!

Tips:

  1. Make large quantity of the steamed hot dogs and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Make sure you steam the buns and let them cool completely before freezing.
  2. Reheat by placing the frozen buns into a steamer, and steaming for about 10 minutes. Or place the frozen buns on an oil-coated fry pan and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes till bottom is golden.

Hot and Sour Soup酸辣汤suān là tāng

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The classic Chinese dish, when done it properly, can be awesomely delicious and nutritious. The sourness and hotness, coming from vinegar and spice, stimulates our palate while good-quality stock adds the richness and depth to this very flavorful and comforting dish.

Serve 4-6

  • 1000Ml (4 to 5 cups)              chicken stock (or click on homemade Chinese Chicken Stock for recipe)
  • ¼ cup of cornstarch and ¼ cup of water to be mixed together for water starch
  • 50g                         ham or pork loin, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup                    dried lily flower黄花, rehydrated and trim the both ends
  • ¼ cup                    dried wood ears mushroom木耳, rehydrated and roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup                    dried shiitake mushrooms香菇, rehydrated and thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup                    winter bamboo shoots (canned is ok), thinly sliced
  • 200g or 1 small block of packaged firm tofu, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon          dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon       light or soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon      salt (or salt to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon          caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon           sesame oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons    Chinkiang vinegar 镇江香醋
  • 1/2 teaspoon or 1 teaspoon         white peppercorn powder
  • 1 sprig Chinese parsley,     chopped, for garnishIMG_1748.jpg

Method

  1. Soak dried lily flower, dried wood ear mushroom and dried shiitake mushroom in warm water for 60 minutes till hydrated and soften. Drain and cut them into thin slice.IMG_1749.jpg
  2. Mix ¼ cup corn starch with an equal amount of water and use a spoon to stir until completely dissolved.IMG_1756.jpg
  3. Slice the ham into small strips. Slice the bamboo shoots and Tofu.IMG_1755.jpg
  4. Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a wok or pot and add the ham or sliced pork loin. Stir to ensure the slices are not clumped together. Add the lily flowers, wood ears, mushrooms, bamboo shoots and Tofu and bring it to a boil and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.IMG_1758.jpg
  5. Now let’s season the soup. Add into dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, salt and sugar and sesame oil. Stir and mix well.IMG_1759.jpg
  6. Next step is ‘thicken the soup”. Turn to low-medium heat. This step needs a bit attention and technique. Use a spoon to remix your water starch (as indicated in step 2) in the bowl so it’s well combined. Use your soup ladle or spatula and stir the simmering soup at the center of the pot in a steady and circular motion to make a whirlpool while slowly pouring the water starch in a thin stream. This prevents the corn starch from clumping. Stop when you are about ¾ of the way done with your water starch to check the consistency of the soup. It should be thick enough to coat your spatula or ladle. Add the rest if needed.
  7. Keep the soup simmering and use the same technique with the beaten eggs and again, make sure the motion is fast enough so it will result in the beautiful swirls or egg “flowers” 蛋花instead of end up egg clumps.

IMG_1772.jpg

8. Add Chinkiang vinegar and white peppercorn powder. Garnish with Chinese parsley and serve.

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Chinese Napa Cabbage in Supreme Soup开水白菜kāi shuǐ bái cài

coverCan you imagine this light and delicious cabbage soup symbols the pinnacle of Sichuan Cuisine? It is the great stock that elevates the humble cabbage to a true delicacy. Traditional recipe asks for more sophisticated approach and ingredients to cook the stock. I have simplified the process to make the light and healthy soup accessible to family dinner tables.

Serve 4-6

  • 1000ML        chicken stock 鸡高汤 (Click homemade Chinese Chicken Stock for recipe)
  • 160g           baby Napa Cabbage (or use the small, inner, core part of a big Napa Cabbage)  娃娃菜或者大白菜菜心
  • 1 tablespoon    dried Chinese Goji berries 枸杞子, soaked in water for 20 minutes
  • ½ teaspoon     salt or salt to tasteIMG_1842

Method

  1. Wash the Napa Cabbage. If you use a big Napa cabbage, half the cabbage and use a knife to take the inner core part of the cabbage out.IMG_1841.jpg
  2. Bring a big pot of water to a boil. Poach the cabbage in water for 1 minute. Drain. Place them into individual soup bowl.
  3. Use a separate pot to bring the chicken stock to a boil. Season the stock with salt.
  4. Divide the stock evenly and pour them into individual soup bowls. Top the soup bowl with rehydrated Chinese Goji berries.
  5. Serve warm.

 

 

 

 

Chinese Chicken Stock 中式高汤zhōng shì gāo tāng

coverWhen you have a good stock on hand, a great soup, sauce and dish is moments away! Good stock shall be an essential in your home kitchen as it is the ingredient that separates a great home cook’s food from a good home cook’s food. It is easier to make large quantity of your stock and store in the fridge or freezer.

 Yield about 2000 ML Chicken Stock

  • 2000ML         water (Water and bone and ham ratiois roughly 2:1 or should be just enough to cover the chicken bone in the stock pot)
  • 800g          chicken bone架子
  • 100g          Ham
  • 20g           ginger (crushed)
  • 5             spring onions (halved)
  • 2 tablespoons    Chinese cooking wine 料酒

Method

  1. Place the chicken bones, ham, ginger, spring onions and cooking wine with 2 liters of water in a pot and bring it to a boil. Cook over high heat to bring it to a boil. Remove the foam if needed.
  2. Turn to the medium heat and cover for 15 minutes.
  3. Turn to low medium heat and cook for another 45 minutes.
  4. Turn off the heat. Use a sifter or colander to remove all the ingredients in the stock.IMG_1711.jpg