Thursday, September 30, 2010

A classic favorite
recipe #39: roast chicken breast salad with sesame dressing

If we have any leftover chicken breasts from the roast chicken, or if I want some salad with an Asian sesame dressing, we would save some chicken breast. This salad is very, very fresh. This is one of those recipes that everyone has been asking us for.

Ingredients (salad)

1. 2 Romaine lettuce or equal amounts of a variety of your favorite lettuce (such as artisan or spring mix)
2. 1 Japanese cucumber, sliced
3. 1 tomato, sliced (any type is OK, such as cherry tomatoes)
4. about 3 oz. of roast chicken breast
5. 1-2 tsp. sesame seeds

Directions (salad)

1. Was the lettuce throughly and cut into 1" wide pieces. Using a salad spinner, remove the excess water. Put lettuce in salad bowl.
2. Add cucumbers, tomatoes, chicken breast and sesame seeds, in that order.
3. Add the dressing (recipe below) and mix well.

Ingredients (dressing)

1. 1 1/2 Tbsp. sesame paste
2. 2-3 Tbsp. warm or hot water
3. 1 1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce
4. 2 tsp. agave syrup or 1 Tbsp. sugar
5. 1 tsp. sesame oil
6. 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar


1. Put sesame paste in a bowl and add the water. Using a spoon, mix while pressing against the bowl until mixture becomes smooth and creamy.
2. Add the other ingredients for the dressing and mix well.


1. Sesame paste is sold in most Chinese supermarkets. However, different brands have different thicknesses. You can use the viscosity of the paste to determine how much water you need.
2. For peanut butter lovers, you can add substitute some of the paste with peanut butter.
3. The sesame seeds can be put in either the salad or the dressing.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

recipe #38: zucchini bread (yeast)

If we don't harvest the zucchinis for a few days, then we are in for a surprise. They are often hidden by the leaves, and when discovered, they can grow up 11-12pounds. Such a large squash would be very hard to cut, and we would even wonder if it is edible. But when we tasted it, it was still very fresh, tender and sweet.

We figured that it would make good bread. Not only does the bread taste better than expected, it is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Whether we eat this this way, grill it or use it in sandwiches, the zucchini is very useful.


1. 1 c. water or buttermilk
2. 1 tsp. sugar
3. 1 Tbsp. agave syrup
4. 2 Tbsp. oil
5. 1 1/2 c. zucchini, gratsw
6. 1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
7. 3 c. bread flour
8. 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds
9. 1 tsp. salt
10. 2 tsp. yeast
11. Red hot pepper (optional)


1. In the mixing bowl of an electric mixer, stir together warm water, sugar, and yeast. Let yeast grow for a couple minutes; it will bubble almost immediately.
2. Add 2 1/2 c. bread flour, whole wheat flour, salt, agave syrup, oil and zucchini into the mixing bowl.
3. Mix on low speed (level 2) with a dough hook, add remaining 1/2 c. bread flour into the bowl, and keep kneading for about 10 minutes until dough pull away from the bowl.
4. Remove dough from bowl and knead until smooth.
5. Cover dough with a damp cloth and let it rise in a warm spot for an hour, or until it has doubled in size.
6. Divide dough into two pieces. Shape them into loaves, and place in greased loaf pans. Let them rise again about 30 minutes.
7. Bake in a preheated 350 F oven for 35-40 minutes, or until the tops of the bread are golden brown.
8. Let loaves cool in pans for few minutes, and put them on wire racks to cool completely.


1. If you have a bread machine, mix the ingredients according to the directions for the bread machine. Set it to basic.
2. If you want, you can add various types of seeds or grains. This adds a country style.
3. The reason for keeping 1/2 cups of flour is because the dough will be hard at first. But when the juices from the zucchinis are released, they will mix well with the dough. At this point, you can add additional flour to adjust the softness of the dough your liking. The recipe will not have exactly three cups of flour.
4. For the adventurous ones, you can replace the peppers with jalapenos; the bread would still taste pretty well.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Zucchini and chocolate? You bet!
recipe #37: zucchini chocolate bread

It's sometimes said that zucchini must be planted two at a time so that they could pollinate each other, or else there would be very few fruits. When we first planted zucchinis, we only planted one at a time. Contrary to our expections, there were still a lot of zucchinis.

However, no matter how many there were, the birds would eat them, down to the blossoms and the tiny fruit. Those that survived would fall prey to slugs and snails. Out of the remainings, the squirrels would steal them. We would be lucky if we could harvest even two zucchinis.

On the third year, my mother planted six plants, and there should have been plenty left over. However, it still wasn't enough for them! She bought some netting to protect them, and this time, there were so many zucchinis that we started giving them away to neighbors, friends, relatives and even the postman! She even thought about giving them to strangers!

My mother has made many zucchini dishes, breads and desserts (yes, even desserts).


1. 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, molten
2. 3 eggs
3. 2 c. sugar
4. 1 c. oil
5. 2 c. grated zucchini
6. 2 c. all-purpose flour
7. 1 tsp. baking soda
8. 1 tsp. baking powder
9. 1/2 tsp. salt
10. 2 tsp. vanilla extract
11. 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and 1/2 tsp. nutmeg, ground (optional)
12. 1/2 c. semisweet chocolate chips or 3/4 c. walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C). Lightly grease a large loaf pan.
2. Mix flour, cinnamon (nutmeg), salt, baking soda and baking powder well.
3. In a large bowl, beat eggs, and combine oil, sugar, vanilla extract, grated zucchini and molten chocolate; mix well.
4. Fold in flour mixture, and then walnuts (or chocolate chips)
5. Pour batter into prepared loaf pans.
6. Bake in preheated oven for about 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a loaf comes out clean.


1. Chocolate chips can be melted in bowl over water-filled frying pan on low-medium heat, in which case you must stir until smooth. Alternatively, you can microwave the chocolate at 50% for about two minutes.
2. You can shape the bread into that of desserts, such as cupcakes.
3. You can substitute the sugar with brown sugar. If you use regular chocolate chips, you can reduce the sugar to 1 to 1 1/2 cups. Basically, we use very little ourselves.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

recipe #36: roast chicken

recipe #36: roast chicken

Roast chicken is ubiquitous; it can be bought anywhere and not too costly. Because of this, it seems like there is a piece of chicken in everyone's hands. However, it's not easy to acquire organic chicken. If you want organic foods, you will have to go to a specialty shop or restaurant. Whenever we want organic chicken, we have to cook it ourself. We do not use the traditional method of pasting the butter on the outside. Instead, we put herbs and butter under the skin and a lemon stuffing, which give a fresh taste. It's not easy to get this taste in fast food restaurants.


1. 1 chicken
2. 2 bunches of thyme and rosemary sprigs, divided
3. 1/2 stick of butter, softened
4. 1 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper, divided
5. 2 cloves of garlic, minced
6. 1 lemon, cut into quarters

1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
2. Rinse chicken with cool water, inside and out, and pat it dry with paper towels.
3. Divide the herbs, chopping half of them and keeping the other half whole.
4. In a small bowl, mash the softened butter with the chopped herbs, minced garlic, 1/2 tsp. salt 1/8 tsp. pepper until combined.
5. Lift the skin of breast side and stuff the butter mixture under the skin.

6. Rub remaining salt and pepper over the outside of the chicken.
7. Stuff the lemon and remaining herbs into the cavity.
8. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine to retain its shape.
9. Place the chicken breast-side up in a roasting pan, and roast for 50-60 minutes.
10. The chicken is done when an instant-read thermometer reads 165 F, or when a stick inserted into the thickest part of the thigh comes out with clear juice.
11. Remove the chicken to a plate. Remove the twine and stuffing, and serve.


1. You can adjust the amount of salt and pepper to your liking.
2. Every oven is different, so you must make sure that the chicken is well done.
3. A spoon is very useful in lifting the skin, since it is curved and less likely to tear the skin.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

recipe #35: roast cherry tomatoes with cilantro and hot peppers (焗烤小蕃茄)

recipe #35: roast cherry tomatoes with cilantro and hot peppers

We plant about 20-30 tomato vines every year. They were mostly large varieties, such as steak tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, and tomatoes on the vine. We also had a fewer number small types, such as grape and cherry tomatoes.

However, we noticed that the small tomatoes taste very good. As a result, we now plant more of the small than large varieties. At times it would seem that there are a lot of tomatoes, but it only takes about two dishes or so to use them up. This is because we use about four pounds every time!

This recipe is designed for "regular" people. But if you consume as much tomatoes like popcorn, you can scale this recipe up.


1. 2 pints of cherry tomatoes
2. 2 scallions (green onions), chopped
3. Handful of cilantro, chopped
4. 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
5. Salt and pepper to taste
6. Variety of hot peppers (optional)


1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
2. Place tomatoes, scallions, and optionally, peppers, on a sheet pan. Drizzle olive oil over vegetables and season with salt and pepper.
3. Using hands, mix the vegetables around until they are coated with oil.
4. Roast until the tomatoes start cracking, which takes about 10-15 minutes.
5. After removing the tomatoes from the oven, chop the peppers (if you're adding them) into small pieces and add cilantro. Mix the vegetables well and serve.


1. The time it takes to roast the tomatoes depends on their size. Homegrown cherry tomatoes are often much larger than those sold in the supermarkets and take more time to cook.
2. Peppers take 5-6 minutes longer to cook than tomatoes. It is recommended that you roast them separately.
3. If you add peppers, there will be a sweet and spicy aroma.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Putting that extra harvest to good use
recipe #34: shrimp with cucumber

The weather in Northern California is unsually cold this year, especially during the mornings and evenings. As a result, many plants will fail to sprout. At nurseries, there are very few varieties of plants. We tried planting pickle and Japanese cucumbers, but they would not grow. We visited nurseries but did not find any on sale. The only thing we found were American cucumbers, which we had never heard of before.

Out of four plants, one of them was eaten by bugs during the first week. The remaining three nearly froze over. Only until the weather warmed up during a few weeks in July and August did the plants suddenly grow. And when they did, there were piles of cucumbers!

The cucumbers carry a light fragrane, which pairs well with that of shrimp. This dish is light and refreshing.


1. 3/4 lb. raw shrimp, peeled and divided
2. 1 lb. cucumbers
3. 1 small apple, cored and sliced
4. 2 Tbsp. olive oil
5. 2 large cloves of garli, finely chopped
6. 1 Tbsp. chives, chopped
7. 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
8. Salt and pepper to taste
9. 1 tsp. cooking wine
10. 1/2 tsp. corn starch


Clean shrimp and put in small bowl. Add wine and corn starch, and mix well. Put in refrigerator for about half an hour.


1. Slice cucumbers in half lengthwise, cut each piece into thirds and cut every resulting piece into 1-1.5" "sticks." (If the seeds are too tough, you an remove them with a spoon; this step is not necessary for tender seeds.)
2. Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil.
3. When oil is slightly hot, add cucumbers and apples, and saute for a minute.
4. Add garlic and continuing sauteing.
5. Add shrimp to saucepan and sautee until shrimp turn pink. Add salt and pepper to taste.
6. Transfer to plate and add lemon juice. Sprinkle chives.


1. As you've probably guessed, we use Japanese sake for the cooking wine.
2. If you have pickled cucumber, you can use the exact same ways. For Japanese cumbers, which are finer, you can only have to cut the halves into halves, not thirds.
3. You can use parsley or dill instead of chives. They have their own special fragrances.
4. The reason for putting the shrimp in the refrigerator is to give them a crispy texture. They will also look more clear.
5. If you don't have white shrimp, you can use prawns instead. Prawns have a stronger taste, so you may want to use parsley or dill.
6. You can use other fruits instead of apples, such as peaches and apple pair for white shrimp.

My #1 choice at Chinese restaurants
recipe #33: pot stickers with cabbage and pork filling

Pot stickers are very similar to dumplings, with the main difference being the way they are cooked. Because pot stickers are fried, we must use hot water to make the wrap if we want them to be soft on top and crispy on the bottom.

Due to this difference, they have their own taste and texture. Although I like dumplings, I love pot stickers even more.


This uses the filling from the previous recipe, which I have reproduced below for your convenience:

Ingredients (filling)

For the wrap, please refer refer to the last post

1. 1 lb. ground pork
2. 1/2 cabbage
3. 1/4 c. chopped scallion (green onion)
4. 1 Tbs. cooking wine
5. 2 Tbs. sesame oil, divided
6. 11/2 teaspoon salt, divided
7. 1 Tbs. inches ginger, grated
8. Pepper to test
9. 1 1/2 cooking oil (olive oil for frying), divided

Directions (filling)

1. Finely chop the cabbage into strips, turn them 90 degrees and chop again, to about a 1 cm x 1 cm size.
3. Add 1 tsp. salt, mix well, set aside about 30 minutes to let the juice drain. Using a cheese cloth, squeeze and twist a portion of the cabbage to remove the additional juices.

4. Cut the scallions into fine slices as thin as chopped cabbage.
6. In a large bowl, mix the ground pork with ginger, salt, wine, pepper, 1 Tbsp. sesame oil and olive oil well.
7. Add cabbage, scallions and remaining sesame oil, and mix well.

Ingredients and materials (dough and wrap)

1. 3 c. all-purpose flour
2. 3/4 c. water
3. handful of flour (about 1/4 c.) to prevent sticking during kneading
4. a rolling pin

Directions (dough)

1. Measure the water into a medium sized bowl. Add the flour and combine ingredients.
2. Place the handful of flour on a table. Knead the dough, making sure to add water or flour until you get a smooth consistency.
3. Cover with a wet cloth and let it rest at least for 30 minutes.
4. Cut dough into 3 or 4 parts. Roll one of them into a long thing breadstick-like shape, and cut into small parts of equal size.

5. Press it into the 1" diameter circle.

6. Using a rolling pin, roll each piece into a flat 2" circle, with the dough being thicker in the center and thinner at the outside.

Directions (making the potstickers)

Please refer to post on how to make Chinese dumplings.

Directions (cooking)

1. Heat 1/2 Tbsp. oil in a large 12" saucepan over medium-high heat.
2. Lay pot stickers evenly in the bottom of the pan and fry them until the bottom of the pot stickers turns light brown.
3. Add 3/4 c. hot water and cover.
4. Let the water evaporate completely, and the bottom of the pot stickers will turn brown and crispy
5. Move to plate, serve and enjoy.

1. Pot stickers go very well with a cup of oolong tea or a light soup. If you like dipping sauce, you can use the recipe from the previous post, except without the garlic.
2. We use whole grain flour. If you want, you can whole grain and all-purpose flour in a 1:2 ratio.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Recipe #32: Chinese dumplings/gyoza (pork with Chinese chives)

As I mentioned in my previous recipe, there are many kinds of fillings for dumplings. Aside from Chinese chives, cabbage is also a very popular ingredient.


For the wrap, please refer refer to the last post

1. 1 lb. ground pork
2. 1/2 cabbage
3. 1/4 c. chopped scallion (green onion)
4. 1 Tbsp. cooking wine
5. 2 Tbsp. sesame oil, divided
6. 11/2 teaspoon salt, divided
7. 1 Tbsp. inches ginger, grated
8. Pepper to test
9. 1 1/2 cooking oil (olive oil for frying), divided

Directions (filling)

1. Finely chop the cabbage into strips, turn them 90 degrees and chop again, to about a 1 cm x 1 cm size.
2. Add 1 tsp. salt, mix well, set aside about 30 minutes to let the juice drain. Using a cheese cloth, squeeze and twist a portion of the cabbage to remove the additional juices.

3. Cut the scallions into fine slices as thin as chopped cabbage.
4. In a large bowl, mix the ground pork with ginger, salt, wine, pepper, 1 Tbsp. sesame oil and olive oil well.
5. Add cabbage, scallions and remaining sesame oil, and mix well.


1. We use Japanese sake for the cooking wine.
2. If you like soy sauce, you can a Tbsp. of it in the filling.
3. Some people like both Chinese chives and cabbage. You can use both ingredients in a 1:2 ratio, respectively. It has a great aroma.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The taste of not just good food, but good luck
Recipe #31: Chinese dumplings/gyoza (pork with Chinese chives)

There is a saying in North China that goes, "nothing is more delicious than dumplings, nothing is more comfortable than lying backwards." Chinese dumpling are among the most important and delicious foods in life.

Dumplings are similar in shape to gold and silver ingots, which symbolize wealth. Traditionally, family members often get together to make dumplings, especially during the Chinese New Year's Eve. They may hide some coins in one of them. It is believed the person who finds a coin will likely have a good fortune in the coming year.

Most Chinese folks start making them while young. Not only do they attain happiness, they also practice their nimble skills, socializing and working at the same time. It is a great teamwork. Whenever my mother saw my grandfather making dumplings, she would rush in to help. She could wrap them so fast that two people can fill them at the same time.

There are several steps in making dumplings. We begin by making the filling. The dough is then prepared. Finally, the dumplings are wrapped and cooked. If preferred, they can be accompanied by dipping sauce.

Ingredients (filling)

1. 1 lb. ground pork
2. 1/2 lb. Chinese chives, cut into 1/2 cm lengh
3. 2 tsp. ginger, grated
4. 2 Tbsp. sesame oil, divided
5. 1 Tbsp. olive oil
6. 1/4 - 1/2 tsp. salt
7. 1 Tbsp. soy sauce (optional)
8. 1 Tbsp. cooking wine

Directions (preparation)

1. Mix well ground pork with ginger, salt, wine, soybean sauce, 1 Tbsp. sesame oil and olive oil.
2. Add Chinese chives, and mix well.

Ingredients and materials (dough and wrap)

1. 3 c. all-purpose flour
2. 3/4 c. water
3. handful of flour (about 1/4 c.) to prevent sticking during kneading
4. a rolling pin

Directions (dough)

1. Measure the water into a medium sized bowl. Add the flour and combine ingredients.
2. Place the handful of flour on a table. Knead the dough, making sure to add water or flour until you get a smooth consistency.
3. Cover with a wet cloth and let it rest at least for 30 minutes.
4. Cut dough into 3 or 4 parts. Roll one of them into a long thing breadstick-like shape, and cut into small parts of equal size.

5. Press it into the 1" diameter circle.

6. Using a rolling pin, roll each piece into a flat 2" circle, with the dough being thicker in the center and thinner at the outside.

Directions (wrap)

1. Add a spoonful of filling to the center of the dough circle.

2. Fold the circle in half.

3. Push left side into two "corners."

4. Press the front edges together, and then do the same with the behind.

5. Repeat the same steps on right side.

6. Pinch the edges together to seal.

7. Place each dumpling on a floured tray.

Directions (cooking)

1. Fill a 5-qt. pot to about 60-70% and bring to a boil.
2. Add the dumplings while stirring gently to prevent them from sticking.
3. Bring the water to a boil again, cover and reduce heat to about medium. Cook the dumplings for about 3-5 minutes, or until dumplings float up on the top of the water.
4. Gently remove them from the water to a large plate with a stainless steel colander and serve on a plate.
5. If you like, you can serve with dipping sauce on the side

Ingredients (dipping sauce)

1. 1 Tbsp. Rice vinegar
2. 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
3. 1 tsp. sesame oil
4. 1 Tbsp. chopped garlic


The recipe for the sauce is very simple; just mix the ingredients together. That's it!


1. For health, we use a mix of all-propose and whole grain flower in a 1:2 ratio.
2. Because every brand of flour is different, you must use different amounts of water. It is only an estimate; you will need to adjust it accordingly.
3. We use very little salt; sometimes we use less than 1/4 tsp. If you don't want it to be too salty, you can use one of two methods: the first one is to microwave 1 tsp. of the filling and taste it. You can also cook a single dumpling and taste it.
4. There are many possible varieties of fillings. Chinese chives are one of the most popular and most simple. Thus, we use Chinese chives in this recipe. Other fillings will be introduced later.
5. We usually use Japanese sake for the cooking wine.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A very low-carb and nutritious dish
Recipe #30: Korean soybean sprout salad

One of my mother's friends paid us a visit today. Although she had already eaten lunch, my mother offered her some light dishes, which included a really good Asian green salad, a delicious Korean soybean sprout salad, vegetarian pot stickers, banana bread, two types of Japanese style heavy cream bread with (one with raisins and one with chocolate).

After eating, the friend told my mother that she admired her skills and asked to take home the food to share with her family. The friend has asked us to post the recipe so she could learn how to make it.

Cooking the soybeans to perfection was taught by a friend of my mother who grew up in South Korea. Along with my mothers "secret" recipe, this dish is especially good.


1. 1 lb. soybean sprouts
2. 1/2 tsp. salt
3. 1 tsp. Korean chili powder
4. 2 Tbsp. garlic, minced
5. 1/4 c. chopped green onion
6. 2 tsp. rice wine vinegar (optional)
7. 1 tsp. sesame seeds (optional)


1. Wash soybean sprouts and drain.
2. Put cleaned sprouts in a 5-qt. pot. Add water so that it just covers the beans.
3. Cover and bring to a boil.
4. As soon as it boils, turn off heat immediately.
5. When steam clears, drain well in a colander, and set aside.
6. Add green onions, garlic, and season mixture with salt, sesame oil and chili powder. If you want to add rice wine vinegar, do so now.
7. Toss until well coated with the seasoning.
8. Sprinkle sesame if you like.


1. We generally sometimes add vinegar or sesame, but not both. You can add them if you like.
2. Different brands of chili powder have different levels of spiciness, so adjust the amount to your liking. Usually 1 tsp. is enough. We just use a pinch because I don't eat that much of spicy food.
3. We pick only the green onions that are fresh and slender. This improves the presentation of the dish.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

how to sprout mung beans; a step-by-step guide w/ images

Due to their fresh and crispy texture, mung bean sprouts are frequently used in Chinese cooking. However, I've read in many articles saying that the embryos of the sprouts are removed in order to improve their presentation, which is reportedly done by adding a 0.1% mixture herbicide. Mung beans also grow very slowly (a few days in a lucky production); to be economical, growth hormones are often added. Having heard those stories, we have stopped purchased mung bean sprouts from supermarkets, and decided to grow them at home.

My spent a lot of time researching methods to grow them, and bought tried sorts of containers, including sieves, sprouting jars and teapots. However, ithad a high rate of failure. Everyday I would see her trying to grow those sprouts. I could not imagine that a person could spend so much time trying to grow. But persistence is a virtue, and she finally succeeded. And when she did, she has had a 100% success rate.

Recently, at a supermarket, we saw sprouts that were missing not only embryos, but also the root. I have no idea what was put in there! I thought I'd quickly share this method!

You will need the following materials:

1. 1/2 c. whole mung beans
2. 2 pieces of non-woven cloth
3. a sieve
4. some additional cloth


1. Sort through the beans and pick out any small stones or bad mung bean.
2. Soak the beans about 8 hours.

3. Prepare a clean sieve.

4. Place a piece of non-woven cloth on sieve

5. Place the drained beans on non-woven cloth.

6. Cover with another non-woven cloth.

7. Add the additional cloth to avoid sunlight.

8. Remove the cover cloth, water and drain mung bean three times every day. When you drain each time, be sure to replace the cover.

(Day 2)

(Day 3; sprouts grow slowly in Northern California due to the weather)
9. After about five days, most of the green skins will fall off. Almost all of green skins will wash away. It's fine if a few are left behind, they are good to your body..

(Day 5)

(Finished product)


1. In warmer weather, they can be grown in three to four days. In colder areas, it takes up to a week.
2. You can use any type of sieve you need. Because you will need to drian the extra water, you should put the sieve on a rack. Otherwise, the sprouts will rot.
3. Most people put the beans in a closet, where there is no sunlight. Since it's easy to forget to water in the closet, we use a cloth to block the sunlight without having the put the beans in a dark place.
4. To make fatter sprouts, use a cloth to weigh on the beans. Although long and slender, they have their own texture.
5. For homegrown sprouts, they can last up to a week if placed in a refrigerator. For store-bought ones, they generate a weird smell after the second day.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Have you ever tasted fig vinegar?
Recipe #29: fig vinegar chicken with "seven top" turnips

A friend of my mother once gave us a bottle of fig vinegar. The friend did not know how to use it, but she knew my mother had a use for it. My mother smelled it, and it was very unique. For her sensitive tastes, fig vinegar matches tomato very well, especially canned, skinned plum tomatoes. So my mother made fig vinegar chicken with "seven top" turnips. To our surprise, all of us have admired this dish. Of course, you can subsitue Italian Balsamic vinegar if you do not have fig vinegar; it still tastes very good. This brings a cool feeling, espeically on a hot summer day.


1. 2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
2. 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut horizontally
3. pinch of salt and pepper to taste
4. 1 c. canned tomatoes
5. 3 garlic cloves, chopped
6. 8 oz. "seven top" turnips
7. 1 Tbsp. fig vinegar
8. 1/4 c. chicken broth


1. Pound chicken on both sides. Season on both sides with salt and pepper.
2. Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in saucepan over medium high heat.
3. Add chicken to pan and cook until light brown, or cooked throughly.
4. Move chicken to a plate.
5. Add remaining olive oil to pan and add garlic, and then turnips. Cook until wilted. Season with salt.
6. Transfer to plate with chicken.
7. Prepare another pan. Add vinegar, chicken broth and tomatoes, and stir. Bring to a simmer until sauce has slightly thickened. Pour on chicken.


1. Pounded chicken is more tender.
2. If you have time, put chicken in refrigerator for 30 minutes after seasoning; this allows flavors to go in.
3. If you don't want to stir-fry the turnips, you can boil them in water with oil and salt. You can also substitute the turnip with spinach or Swiss chard.
4. You can use any type of tomatoes, such is plum or Italian stewed. However, they should be diced.
5. Fig vinegar is a little sour at first, but it gradually becomes sweeter after opening, similar to balsamic vinegar.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

recipe #28: almond sour cream coffee cake

A taste of the countryside
Recipe #28: Almond sour cream coffee cake

Whenever almond extract is used, there are no desserts that I don't like. Not only does it make the dessert less rich, it also is very refreshing. It has a special aroma.

I wanted to ask my mother to teach me how to make sour cream coffee cake, and we accidentally measured the wrong amount of sour cream. My mother adjusted the ingredients a bit, and we did not know how it would taste. Contrary to our expectations, it was incredibly delicious!

Here, I will share the new recipe that we created.


1. 2 3/4 c. cake flour
2. 2 tsp. baking powder
3. 1/2 tsp. baking soda
4. 1/4 tsp. salt
5. 3/4 c. butter at room temperature
6. 3/4 - 1 c. sugar
7. 3 extra large eggs
8. 1 1/2 c. sour cream
9. 2 tsp. almond extract


1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour four mini-loaf molds.
2. In medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3. Beat butter using high speed until fluffy. Add sugar and continue beating at medium speed, scraping the bowl occasionally, until contents become fluffy.
4. Beat in eggs, one at a time.
5. Beat in sour cream, vanilla and almond extract until mixture is well blended.
6. Gradually beat in flour mixture using lowest setting until blended.
7. Pour mixture into molds.
8. Put in center levle of oven and bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.


1. After mixture becomes fluffy, you can add 1/2 cups of froen blueberries.
2. Some people prefer using 1 tsp. vanilla extract and 1 tsp. almond extract.
3. You can use any mold you like, such as a Bundt cake or a bread loaf pan.
4. If you prefer, you can add some sugar glaze, using the recipe below.


1. 1/2 c. powdered sugar
2. 1 tsp. milk
3. 1 tsp. almond extract


1. Mix milk and almond extract. Slowly mix sugar with a small spoon until smooth and thin enough to drizzle. You can adjust the ratio of liquid and sugar to your liking. Drizzle glaze over coffee cake.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

No matter how much you eat, you won't get drunk. I promise.
Recipe #27: beer pork butt with vegetables

Once, in my room, I thought I'd smelled something good from the kitchen. Curious, I went over there, and the stronger the smell got. I then noticed that it came from the oven. I couldn't open it, so I asked my mother. She said she was making beer pork butt with vegetables.

"What? Beer? I thought you don't like beer? Why are you using it to cook?"

She said mysteriously, "You will know when it appears on the table."

When that happened, the smell was so good and strong that the entire street must have smelled it (people have often asked us what we were cooking since they always smelled good things coming from our house). Although I do not drink beer either (I had heard when I was little that it was bitter). I took out a piece of pork with chopsticks and tried it. It was tender and just delicious. I cooould not put down my chopsticks. Apparently, the alcohol evaporates after cooking and all that remains is the aroma of the wheat.

This recipe is not hard at all. It just takes time.


1. 2 lbs. pork butt
2. 1 medium-sized onion, sliced
3. 4-5 cloves of garlic
4. 4 stalks of celery
5. 1 lb. potatoes, cut into small chunks
6. 1-2 carrots, sliced
7. 8 oz. button mushrooms
8. 2 Tbsp. oil
9. 1 bottle dark beer
10. Salt and pepper; additional salt to taste


1. Cut pork butt into 1" x 1" chunks.
2. Rub salt and pepper onto pork pieces so that all of them are covered.
3. Heat oil in a saucepan and put pork in.
4. Lightly fry the pork on high heat.
5. When golden-brown, flip the pork. Using this method, cook until all sides are golden grown.
6. Remove pork and put into Dutch oven.
7. Using remaining oil, saute the onion on medium-high heat. After 2-3 minutes, add garlic. When until onions are half-soft and have a slightly caramelized color, place onions into Dutch oven with pork.
8. Add beer to Dutch oven; when it boils, put on cover and cook in oven at 250 F for 3 hours.
9. While waiting, remove the tough fibers from the celery and cut stalks an an angle with 1" thickness.
10. After three hours, remove Dutch oven and add mushrooms, celery, tomatoes and salt. On a stove, heat until it boils. Put back in oven for about 30-45 minutes.


1. Normal pork is deep-fried to seal the surface so that the juices are retained. However, this makes the outer meat too hard. My mother uses a normal amount of oil to seal the meat, so that it is tender but will not fall apart.
2. The vegetables are up to you. You can use tomatoes, less potatoes, etc. The flavors usually mix pretty well.
3. If you don't have a Dutch oven, you can substitute it with a heavy, stainless-steel covered casserole. If you don't have that either, you can use the method described in the previous recipe.
4. My mother picked the Spaten beer from Germany. It's been made since 1397!