Posted by: gargupie | December 7, 2014

Asian Mochi – Lo Mai Chi

10411141_10152854183743232_8941298535297631074_n10846156_10152854238508232_4986614068838484958_nWow! It took me so long to finally update my blog! My apologies. Partly because I just lost the stamina and also just been really occupied with life…but glad I finally got the impetus to motivate me to get back into the kitchen and it’s my co-worker at my job that finally got me excited to cook again. My new friend loves Asian dessert and she’s particularly enthralled by this one she ate awhile ago, but couldn’t recall the name. After much descriptions and hypothesis, I realized she’s talking about mocha, aka lo mai chi.  This dessert is an acquired taste, just because it’s gooey, sticky, and not as decadent as the flavour you get from a luscious chocolate cake or a fancy crème brulee.  No, mochi is homey, almost cuddly, and basically a hand held treat.

I made two versions – a plain with peanut, sugar, and coconut filling and another with the mochi mixed with mashed sweet yam for an earthy tone.  Mochi is usually served room temperature, perhaps for gifting and just travel so well afar!

So if you love to play with Play-Doh, making mochi is the perfect excuse to play with your food with your hands.

Ingredients for Loh Mai Chi (糯米糍): (makes about 24)
1 cup glutinous rice flour
1/2 cup water
Filling:
1/2 cup toasted peanuts, skin removed and grounded
1/4 cup white sugar (or to taste)
3 tablespoon sweetened shredded coconut
Procedure:
  • Mix flour and water until well combined. Pour into a greased steaming tray and steam with medium heat for 15-20  minutes until cooked.
  • Cool down till room temperature.
  • Take a spoonful of the cooled dough and flattened with a dent. Place a teaspoon worth of peanut filling in the center and then wrap around and make into a round ball.
  • Roll the balls into a plate of sweetened shredded coconut. Enjoy!
Posted by: gargupie | April 22, 2014

Working girl…making sweets.

adWow. I’m really behind with post update, aren’t I? Well, mainly because I have been actively seeking a job. It’s like at this point, my standards are getting lower and lower. It’s amazing that in the service industry, even a cashier requires a year of experience. Really? If nobody gives you a chance, then how can one GAIN experience? Guess that’s when fast food chains come to play.

I believe in fate, really. If it’s meant to be, then be it. In the past two weeks, my right foot was in several employment opportunity doors, yet my left foot was still outside, meaning no certainty. Some never got back to me, while others was a waiting game. I am tired of waiting and making difficult decision, so when one shop decided to hire me on the spot (guess they really needed help as well), I just jumped in. I also had good rapport with the owners and a professional and friendly relationship is important in a workplace.

On my second day of way, I have already improvised my own creation. I called it “Tropical Bliss” – a flash-fried whole wheat pastry dusted with cinnamon sugar, then layered with fresh pineapple, showered with shredded coconut and a final touch of cinnamon. Not the ‘healthiest’ snack, but hey, it’s whole wheat, so not as bad as a churro (which is similar in flavor).

Posted by: gargupie | March 22, 2014

Changing Season…

Finally! Spring has arrived! It has been a gruelsome, long, harsh winter here in NYC. We got snow, sub zero temperature, and winds. Sure, we get all of the above almost every winter, but never as prolonged as this year. Temperatures are also way below average. Frankly, I am so over hearty meals and fireplace warmth. Bring on the shorts, blossoms, and sun! Although Spring’s official day (3/20) has already arrived, the weather is still acting like a fickle teenage girl, can’t decided between staying in the 50F or going back to the 30F. Today was the rare occasion that 50F is reached, so in order to celebrate the arrival of (albeit temporary) springtime, I drank a refreshingly cold all-green juice (cucumber, collard green, celery) to spring cleanse my body and soul. It was actually rather nice to ‘drink’ my green than a bowl of steamed broccoli. As the liquid quenches my thirst, my stomach feel s a bit at ease from digesting fiber and solid foods. I don’t juice often, since I prefer to ‘chew’ my meal, but once in a while, it is nice to be ‘lazy’ and ‘drink’ to my health.

Happy spring to you all! :)BjX_8QOIQAACrae

Posted by: gargupie | February 1, 2014

Happy Lunar New Year – the Year of the Horse

ImageI know, I know. I have been really lax with my post lately. During the past few months, my jobs, health, and personal life have been on a roller coaster ride. Found and lost. Recovered and relapsed. Misunderstood and…still misunderstood. The past year has not been a time of joy, but that’s life, right? Obstacles that we learn to overcome or at least bare with. So, with the coming of the new lunar new year, the Year of the Horse, I hope better luck will come my way. I am not greedy, I just want to secure a steady job and have good health. That is all. :)

On the first day of the Lunar New Year, my mom always keep a vegan diet. That’s just her tradition. So for dinner, instead of the opulent display of steamed fish, roasted meats, and other decadent savors, she cooked a simple, yet fulfilling vegetable dish using woodear, Chinese cabbage, mung bean thread, umami mushrooms, and broccoli. It was still very satisfying, especially knowing that no animals were harmed during the process. :)

Happy Lunar New Year! May the new year bring you joy, prosperity, and good health.

Posted by: gargupie | December 22, 2013

Shrimp Fried Rice – A homey Cantonese dish for mom.

ImageWhile I do not consume any animal products (as a vegan), I have no problem cooking meat-based dishes for my family.  I do not believe in imposing my diet onto others, although most of my home cooked meals are mostly vegetable-based, sometimes my mom do incorporate a piece of fish or chicken here and there, just to vary her meals a bit.  When she had too much meat in one week, she just consumes more greens the following days, and vice versa; so, when I see that she hasn’t been eating much seafood, I tend to ‘treat’ her to a cooked dish that includes either shrimps or fish.  Just no mollusks, since they are not her thing.

I was intrigued in the making of fried rice. Sounds simple enough, right? Just dump some day old rice into a wok, drizzle in some soy sauce and seasoning, throw in whatever proteins and mixed vegetables, give everything a stir or toss and it is ready for plating.  However, if you want to make a balanced dish, you do have to invest in several steps.  First, you have to cook the protein, vegetables, eggs (if used), and vegetables all separately as each component has different cooking time.  If you just blend everything together simultaneously, some most be cooked to death (mushy), while others are ‘al dente’.  I started off with cooking the proteins by sweating a bit of garlic, diced onions, and then add in the shrimps.  I cook the them until they are just pink and remove them.  Then, I cook the rice, as in just ‘dry stir fry’ them, just to break up the grains a bit.  After I remove the rice off the fire, I cook the eggs until barely solidified.  Like a scramble. Take that off as well.  The finale step is to add in some more oil, first put in the rice, then the defrost vegetables, proteins, and finally the eggs.  Drizzle in some soy sauce, a bit of oyster sauce and chili sauce if you want to kick it up a notch.  Stir fry everything in high heat for ‘wok hei’ (a term in referring to the flavour, tastes, and “essence” imparted by a hot wok on the food) for 2-3 minutes.  Sprinkle in some cilantro or green onions and you’ve got a dish that suggests carbs/proteins/vegetable all compacted into one balanced plate. Best of all, it just taste so much healthier than your local take out version because you could control the amount of vegetables, oil, and sodium to your heart desire.

Posted by: gargupie | November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

1422544_10152006015183232_68191158_n 1452191_10152006014928232_526612755_n 1480664_10152006015078232_724444298_nWhile Thanksgiving is a popular time to indulge in copious plates of turkey, mashed potatoes, and pies (all flavors of pies…), it is also a decided moment to think about those who do have the opportunity to put hot meals on their tables.  This morning, I was among a great number of good-hearted people who, despite the blast of wintry chill, left the warmth of their beds and head out to pack and deliver Thanksgiving meals to homebound seniors and under-income people.  As I arrived, there was a big gathering already, all waiting patiently to pick up their care packages that would eventually put a smile (and a full stomach) for strangers that we have never met before.

Along with two other volunteers, I was assigned to deliver 7 set of packages.  I encountered elders who had to have a caregiver answer the doors to a wheelchair lady who could not even use her own bathroom because her vehicle could not fit through the bathroom door.  These people have to depend on others assistance and they were all extremely grateful for our deliveries.

It felt nice and fuzzy to be able to help others, especially since we have the power to do so.  With just a little effort, we can all make a difference.

Posted by: gargupie | November 24, 2013

A Trip to My Homeland

BZelefDCAAAkjux BZORlocCIAA3zLbI may have grew up in New York, but I was born in another city.  A city that is just as vibrant and busy as New York City.  A city filled with trends, both old and new.  It is a place where international companies clamor to build businesses in, people welcome exotic and fresh flavors, and an inch of space is might be more expensive than a mansion in a small island in Europe.  That city is Hong Kong.

I still have many relatives living there, so this was more of a ‘family visit’ than a leisure travel.  But I enjoyed every moment I spent with my cousins and aunts and also remembered my piety to visit the alters of my grandparents.  Despite the brief visit, I managed to revisit some of my childhood favorites, even though my diet of snacks and sweets is no longer followed.  One of my old time favorite is street vendor’s fish balls.  A pool of imitation fishy balls bobbing up and down in a pool of red sauce, just waiting for a skewer to ‘fish’ them out. Spicy please.  Always.  That afternoon indulgence always ruined my dinner appetite, which resulted with interrogation and reprimand from my mom.  Oh, those were the days…

 

Posted by: gargupie | November 10, 2013

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

My gosh! What’s this can of pumpkin hiding in the back of my pantry? When did I purchase this??? The expiration date is this month! I gotta use it up! What should I bake it with?

Yes, baking was the first thought that popped into my mind.  Not pumpkin ravioli. Not pumpkin smoothie. And most DEFINITELY not pumpkin soup. Yep. It was either bread or cookies. I decided to reserve the bread option for later (post will come soon) because my mom is travelling to visit relatives and I wanted her to bring something sweet for them.  I thought portioned treats are better for division. While I was ‘rummaging’ the rest of my kitchen, figuring out what else I could add to the cookies (since just plain ‘ole pumpkin is just, well, boring), I found a half bag of chocolate chip in a container, next to random tea bags and jello mix. Please don’t judge). So, why not add that for some sweetness as well? So there you have it, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. These are chewy, moist, and very wholesome. Aside from the chocolate chips, it’s really quite good for you.  One or two would make a worthy snack to plow through the afternoon or midnight munchies.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon  ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a medium bowl, blend together the dry ingredients.

3. In another bowl, , whisk together sugar, oil, pumpkin, vanilla and beaten egg.

4. Gradually combine dry ingredients to the wet and stir until just combined, then stir in the chocolate chips. Do not over-mix.

5. Drop the dough by the spoonful. Bake 10-12 minutes or until slightly firm to the touch. Take tray out and cool.

PS My cousin ate the last three of the cookies today.  He texted me from afar. :)

Posted by: gargupie | October 27, 2013

Vegan Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Image

Doesn’t the DOUBLE chocolate adjective catches your attention?

I can’t believe that I’m actually going to use these cookies as bribery…to get senior citizens to attend my workshop.  Guess when there’s food available, the feet shall lead you there. I have been having difficulties getting senior residents to come to my Asian Club, a weekly event that I lead at a senior center.  Perhaps some, who are non-Asian are intimidated? Like if you’re not Asian, then you would be awkward? But what about the Asian population? Most are just very inactive and their only passage is from the dining hall back to their room.  I feel defeated when the attendance is sparse.  Now, I’m being more proactive – hanging up poster to promote upcoming event and yes, baking goods hoping to lure some to come.  Kind of like the Pavlov theory, right?

The reason I made these chocolate cookies vegan is more for convenience than dietary or ethical reasons.  Sometimes I just despise whipping up butter because it just get really messy, slippery, and well, buttery. And yes, I actually don’t like the smell and taste of it and that was before I became a vegan.  So when this recipe only calls for oil, I was all up for it.  Though let’s be real, nothing beats a REAL cookie (made from eggs and butter and sugar), but each is unique in their own, special way, so there’s a market for both palate.  Hey, it’s chocolate, what’s not to like?

Ingredients:
2 cups unbleached flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon instant coffee
3/4 cup of vegan chocolate chips
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup water (you can substitute soymilk/almond milk or other non dairy milk if you want a slightly richer flavor)

1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. Mix dry ingredients together in a big bowl.

3. In another bowl, combine wet ingredients.

4. Gradually blend the wet into the flour mixture. Also slower add in chocolate chips. Don’t over work the dough.

5. Carefully spoon about a quarter size onto a baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes.

Posted by: gargupie | October 5, 2013

Fried White Fish. Yes, the little guys.

1380318490834The excitement of the success of my certification exam has passed, now the subsequent anxiety is to finding a job.  It is actually a bit difficult to find a position in the city I live in only because the turnover is low (unlike the restaurant business, where you might see a different server at the same restaurant every few months), would could be interpreted as this job has high satisfying rate, but also the lack of openings.  There are some part time opportunities, but most are in random locations that would either be a 2+ hour commute on public transportation (each way) or the requirement of a car.  In the meantime, I am still searching, keeping my fingers crossed.

In the meantime, I am experimenting in the kitchen, ironically not sweet related, but mostly with savory dishes.  Partly because I have been cooking dinners for my mom since she has been doing overtime work. As her daughter, of course I take on the domestic role of running errands, such as cleaning and cooking.  It is the least I could do.

I realize a package of frozen white fish got hidden in the back of the freezer.  Don’t you just surprised yourself with the things you ‘rediscover’ in your fridge? Frying has never been my cup of tea.  It stinks up the entire place with burning oil and just really messy to clean up.  But I decided to give it a try anyway.  I just justify that I will use an inch of oil instead of an entire pot.  I limited the amount of fish in my pan to a minimum since I did not want to overcrowd the fishes. So I made small batches at a time to compensate for the ‘lack of oil’ I used.  So just be patient.

I mixed a cup of flour with salt and pepper and some garlic powder. Drop the white fish in and coat them, then dust off the excess flour. I heated the oil till bubbling, drop the fish in and fry for about four minutes or until golden brown.  Drain off excess oil on paper towel.  Once plated, sprinkle some sea salt on top for last minute seasoning.  You could eat these little guys as is.  Great bar food, really. :)  Or pair with some rice or as vehicles for dips.

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