Sunday, November 28, 2010

Crispy and aromatic, a great gift for the holidays
Recipe #59: almond shortbread

My mother's shortbread is always really good. For this past Thanksgiving, my mother and I decided to make another of them, to give to different friends. Shortbread is sold everywhere, whether in the supermarket or bakery, or from the Girl Scouts. They all taste pretty good, but they generally contain ingredients that maintain their freshness. In terms of textures, our homemade cookies are all-natural, freshly baked and full of buttery goodness, and have none of those ingredients. Each crispy bite holds the essence of almonds, which the shortbread sold in stores cannot compare to. No wonder everyone who has tasted it have told us that it was fabulous.

In reality, shortbread is easy to make, although the method is slightly difficult. As the dough is very, very sticky, it can be hard to knead into the desired shape. However, this is rewarded with the best shortbread you'll ever taste.


1. 2 sticks (1 c.) butter, at room temperature
2. 1 c. sugar
3. 1 egg
4. 2 c. cake flour
5. 1/2 c. whole roasted almonds


1. Beat butter until soft.
2. Add sugar, and then flour and almonds. Mix well.
3. Cover the bottom of a small (about 8" x 11") baking pan with parchment.
4. Using your hands, push the dough evenly into the baking pan. You can use a rolling pin at the end if you want to.
5. Put in refrigerator for two hours.
6. Remove from refrigerator, and lift the entire mixture, including the parchment, to the table or board.
7. Using a knife, cut the dough into a rectangular pieces.
8. Put pieces in a larger baking pan, with at least 1 cm between each piece. Put in oven preheated at 350 F on the center level.
9. Bake for about 17 to 20 minutes.


1. When we make it for ourselves, we sometimes substitute 1/3 of the flour with whole wheat flour.
2. We also reduce the sugar to 1/2 c. Whole wheat has its own natural sweetness, so we don't need so much sugar.
3. The reason for putting the dough in the refrigerator is to let the butter re-solidify; otherwise, the dough will be stick and hard to cut.

Friday, November 26, 2010

on hiatus...

Hi everyone, you may have noticed that I haven't posted any new recipes in a while.

The thing is, I recently got a job at Cisco! :-) Unfortunately, I must spend a lot of time preparing for my new career, so I don't have so much time to update this blog. Of course, I will still post recipes whenever I can. Rest assured that I have not forgotten about this blog.

Edit: I'm back! Well, sort of...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Recipe #58: beef with green beans

We plant green beans every year. Because there is a large harvest every year, we can harvest them as soon as they're tender. These beans are delicious when sauteed, regardless of what other ingredients you use with them. Beef with green beans is the easiest to make, but it tastes extremely good. However, it's hard to find this dish even in restaurants, because it's hard to obtain beans that are so tender. Don't worry if you don't have any tender beans; the below sections contains a few tricks that will improve the texture.


1. 1 lb. green beans, trimmed
2. 3 oz. beef flanks
3. 2 tsp. soy sauce
4. 1 tsp. sesame oil + 1 tsp. oil (for marinating)
5. 1 Tbsp. oil (for stir-frying)
6. 1 tsp. cooking wine
7. pinch of sugar
8. 1 tsp. corn starch
9. salt to taste


1. Cut beans into halves of thirds, depending on length.
2. Cut the flanks against the grain and put into small bowl.
3. Mix all condiments (except salt) into bowl with beef.
4. If possible, marinate for at least 10 minutes to allow the flavor to go in.
5. Put oil into saucepan; when oil is warm, add beef and stir-fry. When beef is medium well, move beef back to bowl. When oil is still warm, add beans and stir-fry. If the beans are in season but not as tender as you expect, you 1 tsp. hot water along the side of the saucepan; the vapor will make the beans cook faster.
6. Add salt to taste.
7. Add beef back; stir-fry until beef is done and the beans contain the beef flavor.
8. If the dish is too dry, add 1 tsp. hot water to the marinating mixture and pour into saucepan, and stir. Serve hot.


1. If you like black pepper, you can add it to the marinating mixture.
2. If you are using beans bought during the winter, they will be a bit tough, in which case you can prepare a pot of boiling water. Cook the beans in the water briefly and drain with a strainer; this will make the beans more tender.

Monday, November 8, 2010

My favorite tofu dish
Recipe #57: wok-ta (tower) tofu

Whenever I went to a Chinese restaurant, I would always order wok-ta tofu, if it were available. After it is friend, the tofu is stakced like a tower, hence its name.

However, it is hard to actually stack the tofu; it is usually laid out in a plate when served. Thus, it is rarely called "tower" tofu.

The standard method is to cover the tofu with a layer of flour, and then beaten egg, before frying. Thus, the tofu has a delicious skin and a tender center. Since we tend to avoid friend foods, my mother has devised a version of this recipe that does not involve frying. The finished product has a different texture, but is equally delicious.

My mother prefers to include a few hot dishes at parties, and wok-ta tofu would be one of them. In many cases, the dish would be gone before my mother has finished cooking the other ones!


1. 1 carton of firm tofu (1 lb.)
2. 1 egg, beaten
3. 1 green onion, chopped
4. 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
5. 1 Tbsp. oil


1. Cut tofu horizontally into two halves. Cut each half into 1 cm-thickness. Each piece should be about 1.5" x 1.5" x 1 cm.
2. Heat oil in a large skillet and dip tofu into egg mixture, ensuring that each piece is completely covered. When oil is warm, arrange tofu pieces in skillet, covering the skillet completely. Cook on medium high heat.
3. After you have finished arranging the tofu, the bottom half should be golden. Flip each piece using a spatula. At this point, add some soy sauce, making sure that each piece has some sauce on it.
4. Flip each piece again. Add the other half Tbsp. soy sauce. Add onion.
5. Flip each piece yet again. Turn off heat.
6. Move to plate and serve.


1. If you're not sure how to cut the tofu, refer to the above picture.
2. Different brands of soy sauce have varying levels of saltiness, so you will have to adjust accordingly.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Mediterranean sensation on a plate
Recipe #56: grilled mussels


1. 12 fresh mussels
2. 1 Tbsp. pesto
3. 1 Tbsp. bread crumbs
4. 2 cloves of garlic, minced
5. pinch of parmesan cheese
6. 2 Tbsp. olive oil


1. Clean mussels and remove one half of the shell
2. In a bowl, mix pesto, bread crumbs, garlic, olive oil and parmesan well.
3. Spread mixture on mussels.
4. Using broil, preheat 10 minutes. Put in mussels for 5-7 minutes until golden.


1. If you don't have fresh mussels, frozen ones work as well, as long as they are thawed.
2. Pesto can be bought in warehouse or Italian stores, or in supermarkets, often freshly made. If you don't use up the pesto, you can save it for a later batch.
3. Because pesto tends to be salty, we don't add other condiments.
4. Pesto contains pine nuts, so those allergic to them should avoid this.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Recipe #55: scrambled eggs with chorizo

We love Mexican food. However, we usually only eat it in the noon or evening, so there are few chances to have a Mexican-style breakfast. Whenever we want to have a breakfast with Mexican flavors, this scrambled egg with chorizo is a great choice.

If you already know how to make the Italian sausage variant, this recipe will be a piece of cake.


1. 1/2 yellow onion, diced
2. 4 oz. or more chorizo
3. 1/2 green peper, diced
4. 1/2 red pepper, diced
5. 1 green onion, chopped
7. 1 Tbsp. oil
8. 4 eggs
9. black pepper to taste
10. pinch of salt


1. Break chorizo into small bits and cook on medium-high using a small skillet.
2. In a large skillet, add oil. On medium-high heat, when oil is slightly warm, add onions.
3. When onions are slightly soft, add sausage and continue stir-frying. Add diced green and red peppers. Saute until they are almost cooked, crack eggs into pan.
4. When pepper is almost cooked, add sausage and onion, and then egg.
5. When eggs have slightly solidified, mix eggs and other ingredients and food using a spatula, breaking the egg into different pieces.
6. Add salt and pepper to taste, mix and put on plate. Cut basil leaves into strips and add onto scrambled egg.


1. The first time, I cooked the sausage and onion together, and the result was rich and greasy. Thus, I recommend cooking the chorizo separately, which makes it easier to remove the oil.
2. Sausage still produces oil when you stir-fry it, so you don't need to add so much oil.
3. Because sausage is also pretty salty, we only add a pinch of salt.
4. If you like cilantro, you can substitute the green onion with it.
5. You can use any pepper you like (such as Fresno).
6. The recipe uses four eggs, but I used 8 egg whites.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Recipe #54: Shrimp with broccoli

If you've tried our shrimp fried rice and enjoyed it, then I'm sure you've halfway mastered cooking with shrimp. In Chinese dishes that use shrimp, sauteeing is the most common method.

To ensure that the shrimp is tender, they are briefly "soaked" in hot oil. The heat of the oil would cook the shrimp. However, this method results in a lot of grease, which is unhealthy. Also, only a small portion of the oil is actually used up, which is wasteful. In sauteeing the shrimp, we use two methods. One of them is to put them in a mixture of cooking wine and corn starch. The other method is to use a mixture of a tablespoon of cooking wine and a tablespoon of egg whites. The latter is more traditional, but it will leave chunks of egg white, which negatively impacts presentation. However, the first method will work just fine.


1. 1 broccoli, flowers only
2. 1/2 - 2/3 lb. shrimp, peeled and divined
3. 1 tsp. of both corn starch and cooking wine
4. salt and pepper to taste
5. 1 Tbsp. and 1 tsp. oil, divided


1. Cut broccoli into stalks. Each piece should not be too large; otherwise it will taste raw.
2. Prepare a pot of water with 1 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. oil added. When water boils, add broccoli and keep the lid on. When boiling resumes, turn off heat. After the boiling stops again, drain the broccoli and put into a plate, arranged in a circle.
3. Refer to the recipe for the shrimp fried rice for instructions on how to prepare the shrimp.
4. When shrimp is fully cooked, put in center of plate.


1. This creates an excellent presentation. If you are serving to yourself, you can use an easier method: drain the cooked broccoli aside; when the oil is heated, cook the shrimp until it is about 80% done and add shrimp. Saute and mix the shrimp and broccoli. If you use this method, the broccoli will contain the taste of shrimp, which improves the flavor.