"A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body." - Benjamin Franklin

Monday, December 20, 2010

Chicken Broth with Beef Balls:

In an Asian family, having 3 course meal and a soup for a family of four is considered fortunate. I try to cook different kind of soup for my family daily. Chinese believes certain soup has a therapeutic effect and can cure illness. A traditional Chinese soup   made from different herds can have a special purpose. For example; soup made from bitter melon is good for the skin, carrots in soup are best for digestive system and tomatoes has one of the highest glutamic acid and is best for bacterial prevention and also loaded with Vitamin C. I truly believe the curing miracle in soup and like to provide soup for my family as much as possible.
The soup for tonight is a clear chicken broth with beef ball. It’s a combination of carrots, tomatoes and potatoes with beef balls. I used turkey necks as the base which I found it’s the best bones for soup. The tomatoes bring out a bit of citrus and the potatoes release the starchy texture in the soup. This soup gives a combination of a sweet from the carrots and a tiny citrus from the tomatoes. It’s just delicious!
This is so simple and easy to make. It only takes about 30 minutes and the soup is ready. I usually cook my soup first and then prepare for the rest of the meal. By the time all my other dishes are cooked, the soup is also ready. Soup is one dish that my family never lacked of. It’s an s important as my rice.
·         2 tomatoes
·         2 potatoes.
·         3 carrots
·         5 instant beef balls (you can get this in a Chinese supermarket or locate Chinatown)
·         3 scallions green onion
·         1 pack/tray of turkey necks (usually contain 3 necks)
·         1 pinch salt
·         1 tablespoon of chicken instant powder
·         1 teaspoon of fish sauce
·         1 pinch of black pepper

Bring the turkey necks to boil in a pot of water. Place all the vegetables in the pot and cook it for 30 minutes. The green onions added at the end.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Steam Minced Pork with Salty Eggs:

Since we are on the topic of “Eggs”, I am going to post this one back to back from my previous post, “Chinese Steamed Eggs”. This one is similar to the last dish except this one has meat and salty duck eggs added. As you all know, eggs are versatile and can be created in many forms. It all depends on your appetite and mood of the night.
There was an old Chinese saying, “this dish is meant for the poor”. Because of the salty flavor, family members will eats more rice (which is cheaper) and less meat. Due to poverty in China, some families can’t afford to have a varieties of dishes on the dinner table. They usually can afford a single dish to feed the entire family of eight. Therefore, this single dish has to be created more on the saltier side. The saltiness flavor comes from the salty duck eggs. Over the years, cuisine has evolved and passed down from generation to generation; now this dish has become so popular that it offered in almost every Chinese Restaurant across North America.

This dish is steamed and it’s no doubt an appetite enhancer. Families have their specific way of cooking this. Some like to add Century eggs due to personal preference. As for my family, I like to make it with normal eggs and salty eggs mixed with minced pork. Here is another tradition dish I want to bring into the Western families. It tastes great with plain steamed rice. Simple but delicious!

·         4 chicken eggs
·         2 salty duck eggs
·         ½ pound extra lean ground pork
·         1 teaspoon fish sauce
·         1 teaspoon sesame oil
·         1 pinch of black pepper
·         A few cilantros (decoration)
·         1 teaspoon of corn starch


Empty the normal eggs in a bowl. Mix the lean ground pork evenly with the corn starch and spices together. The corn starch creates the smooth texture on the pork. Add the salty eggs at last. Bring the water to boil on separate pot with a cover. Once the water is boiled, put the plate of eggs in, cover it and steam it in high heat for 20 minutes. Place the cilantros on top for decorations.  

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Chinese Steamed Eggs:

Eggs are fascinating! It can be done in many different forms, from omelets to sunny-side up to pouch, they all tasted delicious. Here is another traditional Chinese home-style dish I routinely made out of my kitchen, “Steamed Eggs”. This dish seems to be very simple and easy to make but the hidden challenge is…can you make it perfectly? These eggs are supposed to be steam until it becomes tender and has the silky texture but firms. The trick is on the water measurement and the heats while steaming it. For example; to high of the heat will makes the eggs overly cooked and becomes harder and rough. We want the eggs looking smooth and silky texture.
Asian families have different ways of cooking this dish. Some like to add minced porks and salty eggs. Some like it with soya sauce, sesame oils and pour heated oil over the eggs when served. I prefer not using the oil part because I want to keep this dish as healthy as possible. I put all my spices in the eggs first then steam them. My family love this dish and it’s easy to make. Nutritionist suggests we need at least 3 eggs per day for protein. This dish contains enough protein intakes for my family.
·         7 eggs
·         7 eggs shell of water
·         1 teaspoon of salt
·         1 tablespoon of sesame oil
·         ½ teaspoon of black pepper
·         1 teaspoon of chicken stock powder
·         2 scallions of green onion (diced)
My secret recipe is on the volume of water and the heat. I used 7 eggs and the egg shell for measuring the water. For example; once I crack the egg into a bowl, I used the same cracked egg shell to add the water with. The ratio is 1 egg: 1 egg shell of water, so if I use 7 eggs, there will be 7 egg shells of water. The eggs need to be beaten evenly. I use a pot/wok with a cover. Bring the water to boil in high heat first and then place the eggs in to steam. Quickly turn the heat to medium and cover the pot/wok. Steam it for 35 minutes in medium heat. Don’t lift the cover in between time. When the eggs are 98 % cooked, sprinkle the diced green onions on top.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Panda-lala Salad:

On the menu tonight is a salad I created and love to make routinely. My diet is more leaning toward on the vegetarian side so eating salad once a week is the protocol in my family.  I like to mix and match with different variety of lettuces and try different salad dressings. A combination of fruits with lettuces in a salad is always a good choice.

This mouth watering salad is very light. I made the dressing out of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. The balsamic vinegar gives out a touch of citrus flavor which blends perfectly with the sweetness from the Fuji Apple. I used spring mixed as the choice of lettuce because of the varieties, fresh orange/yellow peppers and grape tomatoes are great for presentation. The Lollo Rossa has a sweetish flavor and the Frisee has a bitterness which creates a great contrasting flavor to the salad.  Finally, the dry basil I used in the dressing bring out the enticing aroma awakens the senses and arouses the appetite.
The whole work is unquestionably fresh and delicious. In my years of making salads, this is the best combination of all. Since I am inventor of this salad, I should give it a name. My name is “Lala” and my husband often called me by my nickname, “Panda”, I might as well call this a…“Panda-lala Salad”!  I hope you like my creation.


1 box of Spring Mixed lettuce
3 scallion green onions
1 small Fuji Apple
1 yellow pepper
1 orange pepper
10 grapes tomatoes

1 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon dry basil
2 pinch of black peppers
1 pinch of salt
½ teaspoon sugar


Mix the dressing on a separate bowl. Put all the salad ingredients into a big bowl and mix it evenly with the pre-made dressing. Simple and delicious!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Stir-fried Beef Rice Noodles:

Traditionally, chow mein is a common dish and has been around for many years. Chinese has their ways of creating this chow mein dish. The word “mein” mean noodles and “chow” has the definition of stir-fry in a wok.  In Asia, there are many ways of putting a dish of chow mein together. Some like it with “yellow noodles” as known as mein whereas; some like it with “rice noodles” which called “fun”. In addition, different meats and vegetables can be added to the chow mein and will create different favors. Chow mein has evolved over the years and has become one of the signature dishes in Chinese cuisine.
Chow mein (yellow noodles) and chow fun (rice noodles) can be classified into two main categories. It either stir-fried with sauce called the “wet” style or the “dry” style would be the type you stir-fried with no sauce (aka: lo mein). The option of meat and vegetable is your personal choice. Beef, pork or chicken can be used as the meat portion and broccoli, cauliflower, mushroom and bok choy is a great viariety to use on chow mein - the list could goes on forever. Asain like to slightly deep fry the noodles so it is crunchy at the base and pour the meat and vegetable content over the dry noodles before serving. However, with the American Chinese cuisine, the noodles are usually steam or boil first then mix with the meat and vegetable at the end.  You need to be more specific if you are in a Chinese Restaurant as to which kind of chow mein you want. Evidently, there is a distinct between the two.
For my family, just because I don’t have a commercial kitchen with a huge wok or a deep fryer, I tense to cook my chow mein in a stream and boil approach. I like to be creative and use different options to cook my chow mein. Using different type of noodles (ie; vermicelli, skinny rice noodles, flat fresh/dry noodles and the yellow noodles etc.) for my base and with different kind of meat and vegetable each time. My dinner of choice for tonight is “Ground Beef with Radish and Basil on Rice Noodles”. Cooking time is approx. 30 minutes. It’s so simple and yet so delicious!
Ingredients: (serving for 4)

·         1.5 lbs extra lean ground beef
·         1 pack of dry rice noodle (contain 8 squares)
·         1 small bag (90 grams) of preserved diced radish (aka; Char-Choy)
·         1 bunch of fresh basil (Chinese basil)
·         3 scallion green onions
·         2 teaspoons of olive oil
·         1 clove garlic
·         2 teaspoons of soya sauce
·         3 tablespoons of oyster sauce
·         2 teaspoons of sesame oil
·         1 pinch of salt
·         2 pinch of black pepper
·         1 tablespoon of cornstarch


Bring the rice noodles to boil in a separate pot. Drain out the rice noodles and rinse under cold water for about 3 minutes. On a wok, bring the olive oil and garlic into a sizzle stage. Put the ground beef in and stir-fry it for about 3 minutes. Add the preserved radish and stir-fry for about 2 minutes. Combine with the rest of the spices and 2 tablespoons of oyster sauce in and cook it for another 5 minutes, cover it and let it simmer for 5 minutes until the beef is cooked right through. Put the cornstarch into a rice bowl (Chinese style) and add 1 cup of water and the remaining 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce. Stir it evenly and pour into the wok to create the sauce. Add the drained rice noodles and the green onion and basil at the end. Stir-fry it and mix everything together throughly.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Pan-fried Chicken Wings:

Chicken wings, the most versatile type of meat that can be cooked into many different ways. You can BBQ them, bake them, batter them, stir-fried them, deep fried them etc., but the way I like to prepare them are to marinate then pan-fried on a pan. It’s delicious.

The chicken wings taste great with beer. Many pub style restaurants offered them on their menu with perhaps, one night wings special for .25 cent per piece. This gimmick attracts many customers from the business’ perspective. It’s generally served in buffalo sauce (spicy) or sweet honey garlic as a finger licking appetizer. Yummy!

My family like to eat them because it so favorable and good with rice. I tense to make them a bit saltier so they can eat more rice with this. It’s an appetite enhancement. I cook this dish quite often as it is easy to make and doesn’t take a lots of my time to prepare. This is a “win win” situation.

Ingredients: (serving for 3)

2 lbs of chicken wings (prefer the wingette)
1 clove of garlic
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon of olive oil


Marinate the chicken wings with garlic, fish sauce and black pepper for about 20 minutes. Chicken wings can’t be frozen or just thaw out, fresh chicken wings works best. Pan fried the chicken wings on a pan (preferable non-stick pan) with olive oil on medium heat. Chicken wings must be cook slowly to avoid over burn. Keep turning the wings until it becomes golden brown. Approximately cooking time is 20 minutes. This can be served with plain rice and eat it as an appetizer.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Pumpkin Cheese Cake

I know it is relatively late since Thanksgiving has come and gone. However, my craving for a Pumpkin Cheese Cake has never left. Last weekend, I decided to make one my own. I find Pumpkin puree is a good favor to use in cheese cake. After browsing through many dessert recipes on the Internet, I have noticed so many wonderful selections out there for me to learn from. Decision! Decision! Finally, I found the recipe in “JoyofBaking.com” attract me the most.
This is the first time I have ever bake a cheese cake and the outcome is better than I expected. My family loves it and compliment on my baking. One downfall on this is - we cannot finish the whole cheese cake in time before it goes bad. My family is concerning about the calories’ and fat intakes as they are watching out for their figures (…so they said). They request for a “calories free” cheese cake from mom next time. I am happy and looking forward to bake again as this gave me a wonderful experience.

**Joy of Baking’s recipe:
·         1 cup graham cracker crumbs
·         ½ cups finely ground ginger cookies
·         1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
·         4-5 tablespoon unsalted butter (melted)

·         2/3 cup light brown sugar
·         ½  teaspoon ground cinnamon
·         ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
·         1/8 ground cloves
·         1/8 ground nutmeg
·         ¼ teaspoon salt
·         1 pound (454 gram) cream cheese
·         3 large eggs
·         1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
·         1 cup (210 grams) pure pumpkin puree (canned or homemade)

·         1 cup (240 ml) sour cream
·         1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
·         ¼ cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degree and place the rack in the middle. Butter an 8 inch (20 cm) spring form pan.

For crust: Combine the cracker crumbs, ground ginger snap cookies, melted butter and sugar. Press the mixture onto the bottom of the spring form pan. Put in the fridge while you are making the cheesecake filling.

For cheesecake: In a separate bowl, stir to combine the sugar, nutmeg, salt, cinnamon and ginger. Beat the cream cheese with an electric mixture on a separate bowl with low speed until smooth. It’s best to have the cream cheese in room temperate. Gradually add the sugar mixture to the cream cheese. Add one egg at a time while beating the cream cheese with the mixture. Beat everything well for about 5 minutes. Lastly, add the pumpkin puree and vanilla extract. Pour the filling in the spring form pan. Place a cake pan in the oven to moisten the air. Bake the cheese cake for 30 minutes and then reduce to 325 degrees and continue to bake it for 20 minutes until the edges are puffed but the center is still wet and jiggles. Bring the cheese cake out to add topping.

For topping: Whisk the sour cream, sugar and vanilla extract together. Pour the topping over the baked cheese cake and return the cheese cake in the over for another 8 minutes. Remove the cheese cake and set it on the counter to let it cool off. Loosen the cheese cake by running a knife around the inside ring of the pan to prevent cracking. When completely cool, place the cheese cake in the fridge overnight before serving.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Vietnamese Beef Stew

The title of “Beef Stew” seems to shows commonly across many different cooks books. The definition of “Stew” means to cook food by simmering or boiling slowly. Beef Stew is common that everyone can cook for their family. Different varieties tradition of cooking undergone changes all this year and has developed different recipes and their own style of cooking. Some like it to cook with potatoes; cauliflower, carrots or I have seen some put sweet potatoes in beef stew.  This dish considers as easy to cook meal, healthy all-in-one ready to go in a stew form. You can cook a big pot; freeze it, and thaw out for the next day to re-use it again. It’s simple, fast, and full of nutrition and most importantly - the family like it.
Lala's Vietnamese Beef Stew
In the United State, beef stew considers as one of the comfort food. This usually is cook in a slow cooker, slimmer it slowly so it’s more favorable.  In French, “bœuf à la bourguignonne” beef slowly simmering in red wine is more like their signature dish. Overtime, this has become a standard dish for them. Since Vietnam was once rule under the French, they copied many cuisines and altered them into their own cuisine. Vietnamese Beef Stew’s idea was originated by the French. The dish is made with tender beef; simmer it slowly until the beef becomes all tender. Carrots are usually the vegetable of choice in this dish. Some like to add potatoes to the stew to create the starchy texture. In my family, I like to cook this dish often especially in the winter months. This dish gives the warm and comfort feeling.

**Lala’s recipe:

Ingredients: (serving for 4)

        .805kg boneless briskets (use veal briskets if you want  low fat stew)
        1 small onion (chopped)
        1 clove garlic (diced)
        3 carrots (medium size)
        1 can tomatoes paste (medium size)
        2 tsps salt
        1 tsps black pepper
        1 tsps five spices power
        1 tsps soya sauce
        2 tsps olive oil


Boil the brisket in a separate pot until it’s 50% cooked. Scope the briskets out on a plate. Do not throw the water away. In a separate pot, put the olive oil in and bring the garlic and onions to sizzle. Put the briskets in the pot and pan fried it until it’s 70% cooked. During this process, add the salt, five spices power, soy sauce and pepper in. Mix the carrots and the tomatoes paste very last. Once everything is stirred evenly, add two cups of the remaining boiled brisket water to the pot. Cover the stew and simmer it for about an hour on medium heat or until the carrots are soften and the beef is tendered. This dish can be eaten with rice noodles, rice, or French bread.