Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Little Oven Issues

Space is hard to come by in Hong Kong and most Chinese don't bake. So, an oven is a luxury. We do not have a built in oven, but we do have a very large toaster oven that works very well. But, what do you do when you want pizza at home but your oven is too small to hold a pizza? 

 Baby Pizzas!!
Luckily I found these small little pizza bases at my local grocery store and they fit. Everyone gets their own pizza with whatever toppings they wish, a win-win!

Yes, my fridge is small too....the oven sits on the wine fridge, a must with such a tiny fridge!

I knew that the whole oven thing  may be an issue before arriving to Hong Kong, so I purchased a few items that make cooking in a tiny oven easier. Crate and Barrel carry a line of cooking trays that are just the perfect size for toaster ovens. I also brought over some Le Creuset small casserole dishes.  One thing I did not bring and I wish I had was my seasoned cast iron frying pan...this will be in my carry  on at Christmas for sure!

Friday, September 24, 2010

It tastes like King Cake!!!! The Chinese Pineapple Bun.

A pineapple bun is a kind of sweet pastry popular in Hong Kong, Macau, some other areas in southern China, and in Chinese communities in North America. They can also be found in bakeries in Taiwan. It is known in Cantonese as bo lo baau, in which "bo lo" means "pineapple", and "baau" refers to a kind of bun-like item in Chinese cuisine. It is commonly found in Chinese bakeries
Although the pastry is known as "pineapple bun", the traditional version contains no pineapple. The name "pineapple bun" actually originated from the fact that its sugary top crust is cooked to a golden-brown color, and because its checkered top resembles the epicarp of a pineapple.

It is made of a dough similar to that used to make sugar cookies, which consists of sugar, eggs, flour, and lard. As such, it is crunchy and is quite sweet compared to the bread underneath. The bread dough underneath is the same used in Chinese style Western breads, which is a softer and sweeter dough compared to Western breads. It is a popular pastry for breakfast or afternoon tea.  (Wikipedia.)

Searching around online, I found a forum with a recipe from a user named Carol...below is how she make her own Pineapple Buns.  Looks a bit involved, and well, King Cake season is not too far away, but if you are brave and can't make it to China or cant wait for King Cake season - give it a go and let me know how it turns out.

Sweet bread
70 g bread flour
40 g water
1/2 tsp active dry yeast

make a sponge by mixing the ingredients and let stand, covered for 4-15

Fermented Sponge
7 oz flour (reserve 1 oz for kneading)
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
2 tbsp sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten (reserve 1 tbsp for egg wash)
2 tbsp milk (or 1/2 tbsp milk powder + 2 tbsp water)
2 tbsp water
1 oz butter, softened

1. In a large bowl, dissolve sugar, yeast in milk and water. Mix in
sponge, egg and flour.
2. Turn onto a large work surface, smear dough on softened butter,
knead in more flour (about 1 oz) if necessary if too sticky. knead for
a few times until butter is evenly incorporated. Cover with a clean wet
towel, let stand on work surface for 20 mins.
3. Knead for further 5-10 mins until dough is smooth and elastic (but
not sticky).
4. let 1st rise in a covered bowl over warm water, about 1 1/2 hour.
Punch down.
5. let 2nd rise covered over warm water again, until doubled or
tripled, about 1-2 hours. Punch down, rest for 5 mins.
6. Shape 2 oz each, put seams down on lightly greased pan. Let rise
covered in a warm place until doubled. Put on prepared "pineapple
cover" [as follows] and then egg wash.

Recipe for "pineapple" topping:
PINEAPPLE TOPPING use ¾ - 1 oz per 1 - 1 1/2 oz bun
(can be kept for long time in refrigerator/freezer)
3 oz sugar
2 oz butter
1 pc egg yolk
1/2 tsp soda
2 tbsp milk
5 oz flour
2 tsp baking powder

1. beat butter and sugar until creamy and fluffy.
2. add in egg yolk, soda, milk, mix well.
3. sift flour and baking powder, add to butter, and mix with slow speed
or by hand until smooth and not sticky. Beware not to form gluten.
4. Chill, wrapped in plastic film, in refrigerator for use [about 1
5. take out and knead as little as possible, if too dry, put in some
oil, if too runny, put in some flour.
6. take 1 oz of topping and roll out but don't roll too big, or too
thin, [about 3mm] slightly smaller than the bun top.
7. brush the bun with egg/water and put the topping on raised bun right
before baking, score with knife LIGHTLY to make checked pineapple
surface effect, brush on egg wash and bake at 180*C [375*F] for 10-15
mins on middle rack.

Cilantro...Coriander...Chinese Parsley?

I learned today that whatever you call it- it is all the same thing.  It took me ages trying to locate this herb, finally I asked a fellow shopper who spoke English and was able to translate for me to the clerk. The clerk  brought me straight to the Chinese Parsley which was located far away from all the other herbs, next to cabbage and carrots.   I would have searched for months.

One thing I miss about home is Mexican Food.  Not just the strip mall, cheese on everything joint, (although I would kill for a refillable basket of chips and cheese dip...) I am talking the real good, fresh Mexican Food that all you take for granted back home in the States.  While there are 2 or 3 places here that claim to serve Mexican food, but I am not impressed. I took it upon myself to create a feast for my hubby and I and it turned out so delicious...all thanks to the Chinese Parsley....

Red Onions
Bell Peppers
Fresh Tomatoes quartered
Chinese Parsley
Tony's or any generic Cajun seasoning, although you know how I feel about that. I don't like to use the powdered flavoring labeled- fajitas or tacos, it smothers the fresh flavors to me and I can do without it.
A few spoons full of fresh salsa

Mix all of this in a pan, a wok will do too.  Heat  the veggies first,later once they are kind of limp, push them to the side of the wok and add the raw chicken.  Cook together,serve in tortilla or a lettuce wrap.This is so simple and fresh.

Black Beans and Rice: 
Black Beans, from a can is fine
Fresh Salsa
Olive Oil
Open a can of black bean, juice and all, mix with white rice (already cooked), add some olive oil and a few spoonfuls of the fresh salsa.
Chinese Parsley
Again, so simple, but the flavor is powerful.

Fresh ripe avocados, keep the seeds

White onion 
Red Onion
Chinese Parsley
Diced tomato
Lime Juice
 Use a fork to mash all of this together. Throw the seeds in the dish until ready to serve, this helps along with the lime juice to keep it from going brown.  

Fresh Salsa:
White Onion
Red Onion
Tony's to taste
Bell Pepper
Chinese Parsley: as much as you want
White Wine Vinegar to taste
Chop it all  and throw it all together. Better after a few hours. 


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Seafood in Tai O and Oysters Bienville

We recently traveled to a small fishing village called Tai O on Lantau Island, one of the outlaying islands around Hong Kong.  What a contrast to the never ending scene of skyscrapers on Hong Kong Island.  Tai O is a very small village built on stilts.  People there make their living off of fishing as well as tourism.  The winding pathways are full of dried fish and other creatures from the sea. 
The smell, as you can imagine, is a bit overwhelming. 


I was all smiles when we stumbled upon oysters on the grill. I said to my husband, " Look, it is just like home!" Now that is something I never thought I would say in Tai O!
Seeing Oysters covered with spinach and cheese reminded me of  the delicious recipe for 
Oysters Bienville. While it may not be perfect timing for oysters from the Gulf, you can still enjoy farm raised oysters from all over the US, click here for a mapClick here if you want to order your oysters on line.  

Oysters Bienville from Plantation
1 stick butter
1 cup finely chopped green onions
1 cup finely chopped yellow onions
6 ounces fre raw mushrooms, finely chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup flour
2 cups chicken consommé
1 cup dry white wine

1 ½ cups finely chopped raw shrimp
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon white pepper
1/8 cayenne
4 egg yolks
¼ whipping cream
8 pie pans
3 pounds ice cream salt
4 dozen oysters on the half shell                

Topping- Mix
¾ cup grated parmesan cheese
¼ cup dry bread crumbs
¾ cup clarified butter

In a heavy 3-quart pot, melt butter. Add green and yellow onions. Saute gently until wilted. Add mushrooms and lemon juice and continue to saute, stirring frequently, for about 1/2 hour.  Do not allow to brown. Remove pan from fire, sprinkle flour over contents. Stir until well blended.  Return to fire, and over gentle flame slowly stir n consomme and white wine.  Raise heat and continue cooking and stirring about 10 minutes until sauce has thickened.  Add shrimp, salt, pepper and cayenne, and cook 5 more minutes.  Remove from fire.  Beat together egg yolks and whipping cream.  Ass a little warm sauce to yolk combination, then stir well back into mixture.  Partially fill pie pans with ice cream salt.  Pour off excess liquid from each oyster, place oyster and shell on ice cream salt (6 to a pan).  Place in preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.  Remove pans from oven. Tip each shell to remove excess liquid and turn over to 500 degrees. Cover each oyster with sauce.  Top each oyster with mixture of cheese, bread crumbs, and butter.  Sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 500 degrees until brown-about 10 minutes. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Look What I Got!!

  This little bottle of Tonys has come a long way. 

It was the number one thing on my "pretty please with a cherry on top, bring over from the States"  list  that I  hit my sister-in-law up with before she arrived last week. 

She lives in Chicago but could not find my beloved Creole seasoning anywhere. 
How do people live without this stuff?  
The bottle says it is world-famous. If it was world famous, it should be in Hong Kong!! At least Chicago!

  Not to  panic, my every so smart sister-in-law, she is an actuary, (I just had to Google that ) thought of a new plan and had my in-laws send her a bottle just in time.

This bottle of Louisiana goodness made it's way from Opelousas, Louisiana to Tuscaloosa, Alabama to Chicago, Illinois, and finally to my hands in Hong Kong.
I don't need to know your past, just that you'll spend your future with me....Thank you Tony Chachere, my in-laws and thank you to my sister-in-law! It was a team effort, a great on everything team effort. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Making Groceries in Hong Kong

Making groceries in  Hong Kong is different from back home.  The smells are different, the cuts of meat are different,  branding is different.  But, the biggest difference is free home delivery. I shop and a few hours later, my groceries arrive at my door. No more lugging in arms full of bags from the car to the house. Now, I simply shop and wait for a nice Chinese man to ring my doorbell.
As you can see from my purchases...Rice Krispies treats are in our future and check out the Honey Nut Cheerios branding...

Friday, September 10, 2010

Exotic Fruits of Asia

This is Dragon Fruit. It is pretty wild looking! It took me about a month before I picked one up at the store to try at home. I just had no clue what it was. (I run into that a lot in Hong Kong) But, I gave this a try recently and was pleasantly surprised.  The outer skin is rubbery, sort of feels like a mango skin. You can slice through it easily.  Inside the fruit looks like a white kiwi. It has tons of little black seeds inside white pulp. The fruit is sweet, creamy and crunchy, not tart or sour like a kiwi, much more mild.  They cost about $1 US here. It would look pretty cool in a fruit salad-something different. You can probably find these in the US, just look in the fruit section.

From http://dragon-fruit.biz/

Pitaya Fruit, Pitahaya Fruit or commonly known as the Dragon fruit is among the most nutritious and wonderful exotic fruits. It is a favorite to many, particularly people of Asian origin. It features a mouth watering light sweet taste, an intense shape and color, not forgetting its outstanding flowers. In addition to being tasty and refreshing, this beautiful fruit boasts of a lot of water and other vital minerals with varied nutritional ingredients.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Native to Mexico and Central and South America, the vine-like epiphytic Hylocereus cacti are also cultivated in Asian countries such as Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Malaysia. They are also found in Okinawa, Hawaii, Israel, northern Australia and southern China. Hylocereus blooms only at night; the large white fragrant flowers of the typical cactusflower shape are among those called "moonflower" or "Queen of the Night".

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

You know you've turned into your mother when....

You have a coffee mug of saved bacon grease in the fridge.

We recently had breakfast for dinner and as my husband was walking out the door to dump the bacon grease in the hopper room, I hollered, "Wait, I need that!"

The Hopper Room is the garbage room in apartment complexes throughout Hong Kong

I proceeded to pour the grease in a Starbucks mug and here it sits in my fridge.

I had shrimp and grits on my mind, which would be ever so delicious with the onions sauteed down in a little BG. Not to mention, any roux is 1,000 times better when made with BG. 

So here it is:  my reflection, my mother's reflection, even my grandmother's reflection.
I am willing to bet, that at this very moment, 
both of them have a coffee mug stashed in their refrigerators 
just waiting to be used in a fabulous New Orleans dish.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

How to make Jambalaya in Hong Kong? Open the box.

I know you cannot believe I can get Zatarain's in Hong Kong.
We are so international y'all!

Although simple and delicious to only open the box and follow the directions,
I like to add my own flavor.

Shrimp. Easy to come by here in China. Raw, peeled and deveined. I use shrimp because I cannot get any good sausage. I tried to use Chinese Sausage, but the flavor was too powerful and overwhelmed the dish. I also tried chorizo, but it was too greasy. I really don't trust the chicken here quite yet, and you already know about ham in Hong Kong, so shrimp seemed like the best choice for me. But, you can use anything you can get your lucky little Western (or if you're really lucky, your Louisiana) hands on.

Onions and celery and/or anything you have in the fridge. (garlic, bell pepper, red onion etc) Saute until soft. Move most to another bowl.

Next, saute the shrimp until pink using the same wok or pot you just softened the onions in. The flavor of the butter and onions will be locked into those shrimp. It only take a few seconds for those shrimp to cook, so don't take your eye off of them.

Move the shrimp and set aside for later. Leave them out of the Jambalaya until the very end.

Put the onions back into the wok and follow the directions on the box. Adding a can of tomatoes and a little less water than recommend on account of the juice from the canned tomatoes.

Cook this down and cover.

It will get thicker, stir once in a while to make sure it is not sticking to the bottom.
When it is finished, turn off the flame and throw in the shrimp. Serve it up with a nice green salad with balsamic vinegar and french bread. Delicious.
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