Mini Egg Cakes 鸡蛋糕

 

IMG_0117Without a drop of oil/a bit of fat added, these old-styled Chinese egg cakes are light, healthy and just delicious. They also bring back a lot of childhood memory. At that time, cakes were a novelty because nobody owned an oven to make them at home. They were only available at a few shops in the town. Everyday my sister and I could not wait for our mum coming back home from work because we could always happily find these yummy cakes in her purse. I tweaked the traditional recipe by adding dried cranberry and a handful of nuts.

Makes 12 egg cakes,

  • 75g                   cake flour 低筋面粉 (all-purpose or plain flour works it just doesn’t produce a cupcake as soft as cake flour)
  • 3                        large eggs   room temperature
  • 60g                    caster sugar白砂糖
  • 2 tablespoons  dried cranberry蔓越莓干
  • 1 tablespoon    corn flour生粉
  • 1 tablespoon     pine nuts or sunflower nuts (optional)松子或瓜子仁IMG_0118

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170℃ or340°F.  Line a cupcake/muffin pan with cupcake liners.
  2. Dust dried cranberry with corn flour.IMG_0107
  3. Place eggs into a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to whisk the eggs on medium speed (30 seconds). Gradually add into sugar and beat on high speed until the eggs have tripled in volume. This takes about 8-10 minutes. This is the most important step of the whole process. You will need beat the eggs until really light, silky and white without bubbles at all.IMG_0109
  4. Sift flour into the beaten eggs. Gently fold flour in until you can’t see flour anymore, then fold in dried cranberry.IMG_0111
  5. Now pour the batter into a lined cupcake pan. I use a level ice cream scoop for even measuring. Fill liners to about 2/3 full (do not over-fill). Sprinkle with  8-10 pine nuts. Place the cupcake pan into the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 20 minutes. You can insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. The cupcake is done if the toothpick comes out clean.IMG_0114
  6. Remove the pan from oven and place it on the cooling rack for about 10 minutes.IMG_0116

Chinese Peanut Cookies 花生酥huā shēng sū

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I’ve made these Chinese cookies trying to get my 5-year-old daughter to continue taking the crunchy and delicious peanuts at home. She has recently refused to take peanuts or any nuts after being brainwashed at school. “Nuts free” – you can’t get away with the slogan whenever you step in the classroom/campus (which is totally understandable). What a pity if you would have to miss these beautiful nuts because they are enriched with so many health-benefiting nutrients essential for optimum health and wellness.

Makes 60 pieces   

Recipe adapted from Mykitchen101

  •  350g                    raw blanched peanuts, 去皮生花生
  • 300g                     plain flour, 中筋面粉
  • 100g                    icing sugar, 糖粉
  • 1/4 teaspoon     salt
  • 150g                     peanut oil (or any cooking oil)

 For egg yolk wash

  • 1 egg yolk            room temperature
  • ½ tablespoon     water in room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons     blanched peanuts, halved (for decoration)ingrdients

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170℃. Spread the blanched peanuts in a baking tray and bake for about 15 minutes or till golden brown. Set aside to cool. Use a food processor to process into finely ground peanut. Place it in a mixing bowl.
  2. Combine plain flour, icing sugar and salt in another mixing bowl and sieve into ground peanut and mix well.sieve flour
  3. Add into oil. Use your hand to mix them well to make a dough.mixing flour
  4. Preheat the oven to 170℃. Take out 15g of dough, use your two palms to press it firmly and shape gently into a ball then place it on a lined baking tray. Do the same with rest of the dough. Use your index finger to gently press down the ball to create a ‘well’. shape ball
  5. Mix together water and egg yolk. Brush the dough top with some egg yolk wash. Place halved-peanut on the top.egg yolk wash
  6. Place the baking tray in the middle deck of the oven. Bake at 170℃ for 20 minutes or till they become golden brown. Cool completely on a cooling rack before enjoying.baking

Sticky Rice Siu Mai 糯米烧麦

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These dumplings are so easy. You don’t even need to fold them.

Yields about 30-35 sticky rice Siu Mai

Fillings

  • 150g                          white glutinous (sticky) rice白糯米, cooked
  • 100g                          bamboo shoots, minced, 冬笋切小丁
  • 200g                           ham, ground pork or any cured meat, minced and cooked,  火腿、腊肉、腊肠以及猪肉馅任何一种,剁碎
  • 80g                          dried shiitake mushroom (soaked with hot water), 香菇泡发再切碎
  • 80g                            egg skin, 蛋皮 (optional), minced
  • 10g                             ginger, minced, 姜末
  • 15g                              spring onions, minced, 香葱切碎
  • 2 tablespoons          cooking oil
  • ½ teaspoon             salt
  • 1 teaspoon                 light soy sauce生抽酱油
  • 1 teaspoon                 sesame oil

Wrappers

  • 300g    plain flour or all purpose flour  中筋面粉
  • 90g     hot water (in 80℃)
  • 90g     water in room temperature

Method 

  1. Soak the glutinous rice with clean water for 2-3 hours. Move out and drain. Place parchment paper in a steamer basket, transfer rice into the basket and steam for around 20 minutes until the rice is almost transparent. Rinse the cooked rice in a running water to cool it off. This process also helps keep the rice from sticking to each other.photo-14-2-17-10-42-52-pm
  2. While rice is steaming, start making wrappers. Place the plain four in a mixing bowl, gradually add 90g hot water and mix by using chopsticks. Then add the 90g room temperature water, use your hand to mix the dough well. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes till it becomes smooth. Cover the mixing bowl with cling film or a plastic bag. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes.Photo 14-2-17, 10 44 18 PM.jpg
  3. Now continue working on the fillings. Heat up the cooking oil on a wok or a pan, over medium heat, fry the ginger for one minute, add any of your meat options (ham, ground pork or cured meat) and cook for another 1 minute. Add bamboo shoots and cook for 2 more minutes. Add into salt, soy sauce and sesame oil. Now place the sticky rice in the wok and mix well. Stir well to keep the rice from sticking to the bottom of the wok. Add spring onions right before you turn off the heat. Does it look like we are making ‘fried rice’? Yes, it does! Remove the ‘fried rice’ from wok and place it in a bowl.photo-14-2-17-10-45-44-pmphoto-14-2-17-10-46-27-pm
  4. Now let’s make the wrappers. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Pick one piece and cut it into 10-12 pieces. Simply use your hand to pick up each piece and pound in into the floured surface to make a small disc. Then use a rolling pin to smooth out each disc until it’s about 10cm in diameter with edges thinner than the center.photo-14-2-17-10-47-38-pm
  5. Now let’s assemble. Place 1 tablespoon of the fillings in the center of a wrapper. Use your big thumb to press down the filling. Gather up the wrapper around the filling, pleating it as you go to form an open-topped pouch. Carefully squeeze the sides of the dumpling about half way up to give the dumpling a ‘waist’. Repeat with the remaining dumplings.photo-14-2-17-10-48-59-pmphoto-14-2-17-10-52-09-pm
  6. Pour enough water into a steamer and bring to a boil. Place the parchment paper in the steamer basket. Place as many dumplings as you can. Leave a little space between the dumplings. Steam over high heat for about 10-15 minutes. Serve with soy sauce and/or chili oil.photo-14-2-17-11-00-04-pm

Pineapple Tarts 黄梨挞

photo-11-1-17-3-17-20-pmWith the Chinese New Year around the corner, you can find pineapple tarts just about everywhere in Singapore or Malaysia . Every bakery that churns them out is claiming that it’s tarts are the best. But I found out today these melt-in-mouth homemade tarts with buttery crumbly pastry and fresh homemade pineapple jam are the BEST I’ve had so far. It calls for simple and fresh ingredients with minimized use of sugar. No preservatives added at all.

Makes 90-100 pieces  

Wrappers

  • 510g                    plain flour/all purpose flour 中筋面粉
  • 350g                   unsalted butter
  • 100g                    condensed milk 炼乳
  • 2 egg yolks       room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk and 1 teaspoon milk to make the egg wash

Homemade pineapple filling (pineapple jam)

  • 3             ripe pineapples
  • 250g      granulated sugar 白砂糖

Method

Step 1  make pineapple filling/jam

  1. Peel the pineapples. Cut away some of the core but not totally remove it (By leaving small part of core so the jam has some bites in.) Cut into small cubes.
  2. Put 1/4 of the pineapples into a blender till it becomes puree (do not add water). Do the same with the rest of pineapple cubes.
  3. Sift the pineapple puree so to remove some of the juices. Don’t throw the juices away – the byproduct makes a couple of glasses of good fruit juice.photo-11-1-17-6-19-32-pm
  4. Cook sifted the pineapple puree in a wok or sauce pan over medium heat for about 10 minutes till juice almost evaporates.
  5. Now add in sugar. The mixture will turn watery again after sugar added. Continue stirring with a wooden spatula for about 15 minutes till it becomes a thick paste.
  6. Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 60 minutes. Stir from time to time to avoid burning. It is ready when the jam is able to stick on the wooden spatula.
  7. Scoop out the pineapple jam into to bowl and let it cool completely.photo-11-1-17-9-39-22-pmStep 2   make the wrappers
  1. Sift the flour. 面粉过筛
  2. Cut the butter into small cubes. Use your fingertips to rub butter in the flour till the mixture resembles bread crumb.
  3. Add into the mixture the egg yolks and condensed milk. Use your hand to combine them together till it becomes a soft dough. Wrap the dough in cling wrap and leave it in the fridge for 20 minutes.photo-11-1-17-9-41-01-pmStep 3   Assemble
  1. Divide the pineapple filling/jam into 100 portions (7-8g each) and roll them into a small ball
  2. Roll the dough into 100 portions balls (10-12g each) and roll them into a small ball
  3. Flatten a piece of the dough ball, place a pineapple jam ball in the middle. Bring the edges together and press tightly to seal. Roll it in between your palms to shape it into a ball.
  4. Use a paring knife, cut the criss-cross shape on the top to create pineapple pattern. Or use any fun or desired small-size cookie cutter or pastry cutter that you happen to have at home.photo-11-1-17-6-21-24-pm
  5. Place all the little pastries on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
  6. Apply egg wash with a brush. Try to brush the entire pastry ball including top and sides.
  7. Preheat the oven to 165℃. Place the baking try in the upper deck of the oven. Bake for 24 minutes or till they become golden brown.photo-11-1-17-9-54-22-pm
  8. Cool completely before enjoying.photo-11-1-17-9-53-19-pm

Chinese Dumplings水饺

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Reverting to my comfort food after a week-long holiday feast. The Zucchini 西葫芦from the local supermarket adds a sweet, tender and refreshing flavor.

Makes about 45 dumplings

Wrappers

  • 300g               all purpose flour or plain flour 中筋面粉
  • 150g                 water in room temperature (substituted by carrot juice or spinach juice of your choice)
  • 1/3 teaspoon   salt

Fillings

  • 250g      ground pork
  • 125g       ginger and spring onion water* (calls for 15g sliced ginger and 15g roughly chopped spring onions and 200g water)
  • 2 teaspoon    salt
  • 1 teaspoon   sugar
  • 1 tablespoon  light soy sauce 生抽
  • 1 teaspoon    sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon   cooking oil (optional)
  • 250g   shredded zucchini 西葫芦 or blanched assorted mushrooms or any suitable vegetables)

Method

  1. Combine all wrapper ingredients in a mixing bowl. Use your hand to mix them together.
  2. Tip the dough out on a lightly floured surface and, using your fingers and palms, knead for 5-6 minutes till the dough becomes smooth.
  3. Put the dough back to the bowl, cover it with cling wrap and leave to rest for 20 minutes. (you can start to make fillings while you wait)
  4. Divide the dough into three pieces. Pick one piece, roll the dough into a long snake of about 1.5cm diameter then divide it into 15 equal pieces.
  5. Simply use your hand to pick up each piece and pound it into the floured surface to make a small circular disc. Then use a rolling pinto smooth out each disc till its about 9cm in diameter. You can add some flour to the rolling pin to keep the wrappers from sticking.

For fillings

  1. *Ginger and spring onion water – add sliced ginger, spring onions and water in a bowl. squeeze ginger and spring onions in the water, rub them in the water then drain by discarding used spring onions and ginger.
  2. Place ground pork in another mixing bowl. Add 1/3 of the ginger and spring onion water, use chopsticks to stir the meat in clockwise direction for 100 times. Add the other two 1/3 of the water using the same approach.
  3. Add rest of the filling ingredients and mix well with ‘watered’ ground pork.
  4. Combine above mixture with shredded zucchini or other vegetables.

Assemble

  1. Spoon a tablespoon of filling into the center of the wrapper, form taco shape and start .pinching one end of the wrapper to seal, heading towards the middle.

Cook (9-10 minutes)

  1. Make a big pot of boiling water.
  2. Add the dumplings into the boiling water and cover the pot. Fill into the pot with 1 cup of cold water every 2-3 minutes for three times whenever the water starts boiling.

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Szechuan Wontons in Chili Oil红油抄手

The classic Szechuan snack is my favorite wontons. It is perfect for a breakfast, lunch or dinner. These slippery suckers are lip smacking. Wear a bib or take your white shirt off for these while you are shoveling these into your mouth.

There are perhaps a dozen of ways to wrap the fillings – but I care for the “Lucky Yuan Bao” 元宝 fold (like Tortellini.). The Italians perhaps got the fold from the Chinese. Now we are borrowing back their stuffed-noodle fold.

Yields 45 wontons,

Wrappers

I think you can buy the wonton wrappers from any Asia markets in the US. In Singapore, they are available at NYUC or Cold Storage. One package comes with either 50 or 100 wrappers.

Make fillings

  • 250g           ground pork
  • 125g           minced shrimp (shrimp needs to be peeled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon    salt
  • 1 teaspoon      corn flour 生粉
  • 1 tablespoon    light soy sauce 生抽

Make the sauce

Method

  1. Peel and minced the shrimp.
  2. In a large bowl, combine ground pork, minced shrimp, salt, corn flour and light soy sauce and mix well.
  3. Now let’s wrap – the Italians may get the tortellini fold from the Chinese. Now we’re borrowing back their stuffed-noodle fold. So just take out one wrapper, add a half tablespoon of fillings. Fold it into half size from the middle, press the two sides of the wrapper together to seal.
  4. Dab a little water on the two corners, then fold one side toward the center. Fold the other side to the center.
  5. Press the two ends together to seal. The filled center will plump up like a belly with the edges framing it like a golden ingot (lucky Yuan Bao,元宝).
  6. Bring a pot of water to boil, add in 6-8 wontons and cook for 5 minutes till they float on the water.
  7. In the meantime, prepare a serving bowl, combine a tablespoon of chili oil, 1/2 teaspoons of minced spring onion, garlic and roasted peanuts with a tablespoon of boiled water from the pot. Mix well.
  8. Drain the wonton and add them in the bowl. Gently toss till the wontons are well-coated.

Tips:

  1. If you are serving these to guests with different levels of heat tolerance, pass the chili oil at the table instead. That way, everyone can get the dose they want.

Cute Pumpkin Pastry 玲珑南瓜

Trust me. It is easy to make. With a little bit patience, you will actually find the process quite therapeutic.

Yields 10 cute pumpkins,

  • 200g pumpkin purée (you will need300g fresh pumpkin available at any grocery store)
  • 140g glutinous rice flour糯米
  • 3 teaspoon sugar
  • 4 tablespoon sweetened condensed milk 炼乳

For ‘pumpkin stems’, you will need,

  • 20g glutinous rice flour
  • 1 teaspoon green tea powder (or any color of ingredient of your preference and convenience)
  • 18g water

Method

  1. To make pumpkin purée, remove the skin and seeds, thinly slice it then cover the bowl with cling wrap and put in microwave in high heat for 4 minutes.
  2. Remove the bowl from the microwave. Add into glutinous rice flour, sugar and condensed milk and mix well.
  3. Cover the dough with a plastic bag and rest the dough for 20 minutes.
  4. Now let’s work on the ‘pumpkin stem’, you will need 20g glutinous rice flour, 1 teaspoon green tea powder(or any color of ingredient of your preference and convenience) and 18g water. Combine them and mix well.

The fun part now begins!

  1. Cut the dough into 10 pieces, roll each piece into a small ball, gently press down each ball a little bit then use the back of a knife carving the side. Top up with a little green stem.
  2. Bring water in the steamer pot to boil.
  3. Place 10 pieces of pastries on a parchment paper.
  4. Steam for 7 minutes in high heat.
  5. Let the cooked pumpkins cool off for 20 minutes.
  6. Enjoy!