Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Kung Pao Tofu/宮保豆腐

Typically this dish is made with marinated chicken, a lot of chili peppers, and peanuts, but since I have to make it with tofu, I worried that it might be a little bland if I only used tofu and chili. I wanted it to be as flavorful and as colorful as it can be, not to mention healthy as well. Inspired by the seasonal vegetables, I'm bringing some in to "jazz it up." If you don't like one of these vegetables, feel free to skip or replace it with something else. Instead of peanuts, I prefer cashews myself, since they are lower in fat content but are very high in protein and still taste fairly like peanuts. Also, if you cannot eat spicy food like me, you might want to consider either using less dried chili pepper and removing their seeds, or just skip it all together like I did.

Easy Double Chocolate Cupcakes with Mocha Ganache


When it comes to baking chocolate desserts, one of the keys is to use a good 

quality baking chocolate or cocoa. I always try to use dark chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate if possible. The result is rich and chocolaty and is perfect for chocolate lovers (like my hubby). It also makes the dessert tastes less sweet, as the cocoa content goes higher in the chocolate.

You might ask how is it so easy to make this? It looks so complicated! Well, that's the impression you want to give others! For this cupcake, you just need to mix all the ingredients together. If you don't have an electric mixer, you can just do it by hand with a large whisk. As for the decoration, which is the scariest part for most people (including myself), just follow my instructions, and you don't need any special tool or piping bag. I just tried it with a zip-lock bag and it worked fine. The only thing is you have to really make sure you don't cut the hole too big. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Chinese Valentine's Day (七夕情人節)

Before I decided to post this, I got a special request a few days ago from my little sis in Taiwan. Apparently August 23rd is Chinese Valentine's Day! (Actually, it's July 7th on the Chinese lunar calendar.) I've been living outside of Taiwan for so long that not only I did not know when the holiday is, but I don't have much of a clue about it either! Yes, shame on me! I guess out of "guilt", I'd better post the two recipes she requested for this special holiday.

She told me that she wanted to make 2 things for her special "other half": One is a chocolate dessert so she can write her messages to him; the other one is the famous Chinese dish, Kung Pao Tofu (宮保豆腐). Why Kung Pao tofu, and not chicken? Well, her beloved one does not like eating meat, she explained.

As a Taiwanese person raised on traditional Taiwanese food, I never had this dish while I was growing up, until I went to NY and saw it in all the Chinese restaurants. It's kind of a standard, must-have dish in Chinese restaurants for Westerners (like her "other half"). It is typically quite a flavorful dish, with marinated chicken and lots of chilis, but when you think of tofu, it's rather bland and boring, so to make it as good as the traditional chicken dish is a challenge! I tried my best to fulfill my little sis' wish, so if you're looking for a healthy alternative for this dish, hopefully you'll take a peek at my vegetarian version and maybe even try it. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Back to "The Basics"

Reading my recipes

Don't be surprised if you occasionally see my recipes say "some of" this or that for certain ingredients. To me, cooking is all about intuition, feeling, creativity and inspiration. A recipe is just a guide. I leave some measurements off when they are "to taste" and I feel that it won't affect the recipe too much. When I cook the same dish, I don't always make it the same way every time--and I like it that way. Some days, I like it spicy, some days I like it more cheesy; it depends on my mood. Don't let the recipe limit you; feel free to add more or less herbs and seasonings, or even leave out some things if you don't like them. After all, you have to enjoy it!

When I read recipes, I never like having to look at a long list of ingredients or having to scan through the list in order to know which ingredients and quantities to use for each procedure. I can't tell you how many times I've accidentally skipped one or two ingredients and found out later (when it's too late!). For practical reasons, while cooking, I'm always trying to find ways to read as little as I can. Therefore, if the list is long, I've decided to group together ingredients that are going to be used at the same time. This way, you can mix them in advance and set them aside in one place, and when the procedure calls for it, you can just add them all at once. It's organized and time-saving!

Here's how I show my measurements:
C - Cup
T - Tablespoon
t - Teaspoon

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

黛黛走跳 - 『BAILEYS貝里詩奶酒品酒會』

星,所以,在得知最愛的奶酒之一 - 「貝里詩」,正在舉品酒會,馬上三步做兩步,

典禮,所以人潮湧退許多,但那不是重點!! 只要場內酒存量夠我喝..咳! 夠我淺嚐.. 我就滿