24 January 2012

gung hay fat choi

I brag about my awesome roommate all the time because she's super amazing and I love her and we do super fun stuff together.  Just the other night she invited me along to a work holiday party where we got to celebrate Chinese New Year in ultimate fashion.  We welcomed the Year of the Dragon with a bunch of really amazing people and loads of out of control delicious food at M Shanghai.  There were plates full of crispy Peking duck with tasty little buns and Hoisin sauce, whole fish, entire lobsters covered in ginger sauce, jelly fish and mushrooms, pea leaves with garlic, beef with bok choy, even thousand year eggs.  What exactly is a thousand year egg, you ask.  I asked the same thing and then tried one anyway - not too bad, a little chewy.  A thousand year egg, or a century egg or a millennium egg is actually an egg cured in a type of brine until they grey and gel.  They are traditionally served at special events like Chinese New Year.  With the added open bar, this definitely was a special occasion.  Good food and good friends all in the name of a celebration for good luck!  So, Gung Hay Fat Choi everyone.  Here's to a new year of happiness.

The Dragon's Tale

Once upon a time there was a flood, and many small rivers flowed into one big river.  The big river was so deep and wide that the fish who had lived in smaller rivers thought it must be the greatest body of water in the whole world.  They swelled with pride as they swam along in their new home.

How surprised they were, then, when their river emptied into the sea.  They had never seen such a vast body of water.  There they met the ruler of the sea, the Dragon King.  "Oh!" the fishes cried.  "I guess we didn't live in the greatest body of water in the world after all."

The Dragon King replied, "No river is as large as the sea.  Many rivers flow into it, but it is never full.  Still, the sea is not proud.  It knows it is only part of the greatness of the earth, and only a speck of dust compared to the vastness of the universe."

The more you know,
the more you know
there is to know.

from The Dragon's Tale and Other Animal Fables of the Chinese Zodiac, retold by Demi 1996, Henry Holt & Co.

13 January 2012

for those of you with healthful resolutions

Whatever your resolution may be this year - to eat healthier, drop a few pounds, cut out processed foods - you're sure to find yourself craving a little something sweet every now and again.  But a little bit of sweet can totally screw up your new year's diet so what are you supposed to do?  Well, I've come up with a solution!  What's the healthiest cookie you can think of?  My guess is that you said oatmeal raisin cookies.  And now I've made them even healthier by using less sugar and baking with whole wheat flour instead of bleached flour.  To keep it satisfyingly yummy though, I tossed in a couple handfuls of cinnamon chips.  Yup, you read that right - cinnamon chips!  While on a field trip to the Hershey's store in Times Square (terrible, horrible idea around the holidays but for my daddy-o, anything) I came across these little drops of magic in the baking section of the store.  You all know that I have a crazy love affair with cinnamon; it's my absolute favorite spice.  So you can imagine my excitement when I stumbled across these... and my predicament about how best to put them to use in my cooking.  What better use for them than in some delicious oatmeal raisin cookies.  And after hearing a friend ramble on about cookies the other night, I found myself craving some fresh baked goodness of my own.  But the roomie and I are trying to be a little more health conscious in 2012 so I decided to make some tweaks to my traditional recipe.  Even with the tweaks, the cookies were super amazing so if you're looking for a tasty treat that won't blow your resolution, try these on for size.

healthful oatmeal raisin cookies
3/4 unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c light brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp honey
3/4 c whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
3 c rolled oats
1 1/2 c golden raisins
1 c cinnamon chips (or more if you're me)
1 c chopped walnuts
1. Preheat the oven to 350.  In the bowl of your electric mixer, blend butter until light and fluffy.  Add in sugar and blend until well-combined.  Blend in egg, vanilla and honey.
2. In a large bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients.  Stir the wet mix with the dry ingredients making sure everything is completely combined.  
3. Scoop out golfball sized balls of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for about 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool on a cooling rack and enjoy... in moderation, because let's face it, a cookie is still a cookie.

06 January 2012

aloha amanda!

My dear friend Amanda has decided to take herself on the adventure of a lifetime - she's moving to Hawaii for a couple of months!  To send her off in fashion, we threw her an Aloha party and I fixed her up this delicious pineapple upside-down cake.  Though I used the same recipe that I always do, I tried it out with a different pan this time.  I'm sure we all remember the debacle of my Thanksgiving pear & walnut upside-down cake.  Well, this was a much more successful venture.  Perhaps it's because I waited until the cake was finished before I started indulging in the bubbly... or maybe it's because I used my beautiful chrysanthemum bundt cake pan.  Because of the deepness of the pan, the dense cake seemed to fluff up a bit.  Plus the ooey gooey melty caramel poured off of it like a volcano which was appropriately Hawaiian.  Funny fact - for Amanda's birthday last year, I fixed her up one of the world's best coconut cakes.  Something about the choices she makes for her sweet tooth lead me to believe that she had a predisposition to become a Polynesian Princess.  We're all sure to miss our dear gal and eagerly await her suntanned return.  Maybe I'll fix her up an apple cake to welcome her back to the Empire State.  And since Aloha means goodbye and hello, I don't think it would be too much of a stretch to say that another Aloha party will be in the works!  So, until your return, know that we love you and will miss you and hope that you have a great trip!  And Amanda, be sure to bring us back some awesome Kona coffee, macadamia nuts, and any other tasty treats from the islands.

we miss you already! xoxo