Chopstick Jam Cookies

Posted by on Feb 24, 2013 in Recipe | 0 comments

Hey everyone! Let’s get straight to the point. This past winter break I made a couple hundred of these cookies. Why? Well yes, there was the fundraiser we did, but that’s besides the point. It’s because these cookies are absolutely delicious. Plus, they are simple to make and only require a few ingredients. Mix and match different jam combinations! SO MANY CHOICES. SO MUCH FUN. Get a couple of people to roll the cookie dough and press the squares and it’ll be relaxing therapy time. End result? Nutty pecan goodness that is meltingly crumbly from the confectioner’s sugar, offset by the tangy sweetness of jam. Mmmmmmm. Ingredients (adapted from Hungry Native) 350 degrees, ~20 min, 1 batch of small 1 inch balls of dough makes ~38 cookies 1/2 tsp salt 1 cup confectioners sugar 1 1/2 cup butter 1 1/2 cup pecans 2 tsp vanilla extract 3 cups and 2 tbsp flour This cookie is basically butter and sugar held together by flour. And it is oh so delicious. Begin by mixing the salt and sugar together. Then in a separate bowl, mix the butter with the pecans until fluffy. Add the salt sugar mix and the vanilla extract. Mix until well incorporated. In parts, blend in the flour until smooth dough forms. If you like chunky pecans, then you can add some bigger chunks of pecan here. Then roll the dough into neat balls of dough and place on baking tray. It is important to well roll the dough between your palms to make sure the dough is not lumpy or cracked in any areas. If you had refrigerated the dough to use for later, this step is very important!!! Then, using the end of a chopstick holder, gently press into the dough to form an indent, and then fill with jam of your choice. I have tried using cranberry, strawberry, and orange marmalade. All came out great! Try experimenting with different combinations :) The nutty pecan flavor complements almost everything. Enjoy guys! – Jas Photographs taken by Jasmine...

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Blueberry Rare Cheesecake

Posted by on Feb 12, 2013 in Recipe | 0 comments

           Sometimes, I just get this intense desire and craving for cheesecake. You know- when you dream of stuffing a whole glob full of cheesecake into your mouth and get that sighing of pleasure when you feel the heavy, creamy, artery clogging deliciousness traveling down your stomach? Oh wait. That doesn’t sound so pleasant.          Well, that is why for those people out there who actually care about such things (I for one ignore the thought of calories when the food consumed is designated for the “dessert” stomach), I shall share this super simple recipe for making Rare Cheesecake! That’s right, you can be lazy and not even pop it in the oven if you want to be even healthier and have it without crust. The cheesecake comes out light and fluffy, not too sweet but still completely satisfying. Plus, you can use it as a base for literally any flavor. Here’s my blueberry version- full of healthy antioxidants!  Ingredients less than 1 pack graham crackers (eyeball this according to how thick you want your crust) less than 2 sticks butter (also eyeball) fruit of choice (blueberries, 100 g) 125 g cream cheese 100 g fresh cream (heavy whipping cream) 3 tbsp fresh milk 30 g sugar 1/4 tbsp lemon juice (I tend to add much, much more- aka almost a whole lemon) 2 1/2 tsp gelatin (a pack of the store bought gelatin works) 1/4 cup hot water whipped cream or fruit to decorate Now here’s when you all read and be amazed. Literally four easy steps :) 1) Crush graham crackers into a semi-fine texture. It helps to put around 1 pack of crackers into a big ziploc bag and sealing it, then to use a rolling pin to smush them to oblivion. Mix in the softened butter until incorporated. Then pat the buttery crust into a cake pan- it makes things easier later to line the bottom and edges with parchment paper! Now pop into 350 F oven for around 20 min or eyeball it- when it looks baked and golden brown on top. 2) Mix all ingredients EXCEPT gelatin, hot water, whipped cream and fruit.  3) Now mix gelatin with hot water and immediately pour into batter. Make sure it is incorporated. 4) Pour batter onto cooled crust. Now you can decorate the top with fruit or whipped cream if you so desire. Here I simply put blueberries in a blender, spooned it on top, and added some whole ones for decoration. Then just put your creation into the fridge until the gelatin has set (a few hours) and eat and enjoy!   Hope you guys enjoy this simple recipe, try it out and have a nice relaxing afternoon tea! – Jas Photographs taken by Jasmine...

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Green Tea and Red Bean Mochi

Posted by on Feb 10, 2013 in Recipe | 0 comments

Happy Lunar New Year everyone~! I hope everyone made it through Nemo alright. I, personally, was thrilled to wake up and be greeted by 27 inches of snow…and miraculously still have power intact. I think our neighborhood is the most beautiful during the winter, especially when covered by snow. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Lunar New Year, today (2/10/13) is the first day of the first month of the year of the snake…according to the lunar calendar. [insert moment of enlightenment: “Oh, so that’s why it’s called Lunar New Year!”] There are fifteen days dedicated to rest and relaxation and celebrating the new year. Our family only really observes three of those fifteen days. Considering how the United States doesn’t recognize Lunar New Year as a holiday, celebrations here are nowhere as big as they are in Asia — but we make up for what’s missing in the streets in our own homes. Traditionally, the eve (which doesn’t count as one of the fifteen) is spent with family in a big, celebratory, reunion dinner. Besides the good food, most children are more concerned with receiving red envelopes at the end of the night. The first day of the Lunar New Year is a time to honor one’s elders. The second day is when married daughters return to visit their birth parents. Since my grandpa has four children, my dad being the only son, I’m sure you can imagine how this becomes yet another big dinner. On the last day of the new year celebration, also known as the Lantern (yuan xiao “元宵”) Festival, we eat tangyuan — which roughly translates as “round [balls] in soup”. Although there are several legends as to why we eat tangyuan, our family sticks to the reason that it symbolizes the end and beginning of a new year, of how everything has come full circle and begins anew. This brings me to today’s awesomely simple recipe! Tangyuan are very similar to mochi. It’s the soup version of mochi. Mochi is a traditional new years dessert which is basically a sweet rice cake, typically covered in sesame or sugared peanut powder or with filling inside. It’s almost always a big hit with the older folk. I have no idea why, but this particular gooey sweet hits a soft spot in their hearts. Since my grandpa loves all things red bean and is forever requesting some sort of red bean dessert (he’s also perennially asking why I don’t put red bean in my cheesecakes) I decided to make red bean mochi.   But, being who I am, just regular red bean mochi wouldn’t be any fun. I wanted cute mochi…pastel mochi!  Ingredients: Filling: ~ 16 oz adzuki beans 1/2 cup water 1 cup sugar 2 tbsp vegetable oil Cook the adzuki beans until soft and tender, then mash them into a paste.  In a separate pot, add the water and sugar and bring to a boil until the sugar dissolves. Mix the simple syrup and vegetable oil with the mashed red beans. This should give you a very mildly sweet paste. Add more sugar to taste. Mochi Skin: 1 1/2 cup glutinous rice flour 1/4 cup sugar 2/3 cup water 2 drops green food coloring 1/4 tsp matcha green tea cornstarch Note: You must use glutinous rice flour! Other types of flour just won’t work as a substitute. You can find glutinous rice flour at Asian supermarkets. Although this is usually mixed and cooked over the stove, the mixture eventually gets so sticky and hard to stir that it may end up burning on the stove. So instead,...

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A Taste of Taiwan: Taiwanese Munchies

Posted by on Jul 11, 2012 in Eating like an Emperor - in Taiwan, Recipe | 2 comments

Hello everyone! Here in Taiwan, I have been faithfully sticking to this blog by eating several snacktime munchies every single day. This is extremely easy to do, as the nightlife in Taiwan is practically completely centered around the yummy food stands that come out. Instead of sitting down and eating a meal, why not enjoy food on a stick, or in a bag? I say YES. Here are some traditional/strange munchies that Taiwan has offered my tummy: We stumbled across this traditional style sweet potato stand that bakes the sweet potatoes in a wooden crate over coals. Extremely huge and piping hot! The insides are a bright yellow and this traditional snack is filling and healthy! I’ve had this so many times, it’s addictive. Taipei Milk King’s freshly made papaya milk is soooo good. They blend huge Taiwanese papayas with milk to produce something that actually tastes like the fruit! None of that artificial syrup stuff. Plus, its HEALTHY. I think I may have talked about stinky tofu before, but this stinky tofu in particular is on another level. There’s this tiny stand/shop in the Gongguan area that is famous for its stinky tofu, and I know why. The tofu is not extremely stinky, more like aromatic. Plus, its steaming hot and has a thin crispy skin and juicy insides that are stuffed full of cucumbers and parsley. Yummmmm. Taiwanese coconuts are small and round compared to the ones we see in U.S. supermarkets. Yet the insides are very sweet, and MAN do they have some refreshing brain juice. I know I talked about takoyaki during my previous visit to Taiwan, but here’s something I’ve never tried until now. Usually, takoyaki are small delicious little fried octopus balls that come 6-8 in a container. Each one is barely a mouthful. But look at the giant takoyaki above!! One takoyaki is bigger than that guy’s fist, believe it or not. Plus, the typical takoyaki contains a snippet of octopus and maybe some onion or whatever if you’re lucky. Here, you get one ball in a soup bowl (THAT big) and inside it’s filled with dozens of octopus pieces, shrimp, broccoli, corn, potato, scallop, etc! It’s a whole nutritional meal in a fried ball! Heaven. Here’s a picture of a pretty good piece of pig blood rice cake covered in peanut powder and parsley. Again, I’ve mentioned this delicious snack before. But guess what? This piece of yummy is probably one and a half times the length of my head! We’re talking about almost a foot of blood rice cake here…plus it’s delightfully chewy and not mushy like some can get. No, that is not pee pee in a cup. It’s actually sugarcane juice with no added flavors! Just pure, liquified sugarcane. I remember eating sugarcane when I was little, and we would have to rip a chunk of the sugarcane, chew it to get the juice, and then spit out the fibers. A very tedious process. Here, they squeezed the sugarcane to a pulp, resulting in fiber/wood free juice. Not too sweet, and very sugarcane-y.  I took a video of the fun process, but unfortunately the file is apparently to big to upload! So much for a 1 minute video…  Anyways, hope you guys enjoyed this post, more will follow :) Yay Taiwan! – Jas                                                                                   Photographs taken by Jasmine Hwang...

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A Taste of Taiwan: Sushi Takeout!

Posted by on Jun 19, 2012 in Eating like an Emperor - in Taiwan | 3 comments

Hey everyone! I’ve officially been living in Taiwan for about a month now, which was enough time to stuff myself fat and take a couple hundreds of pictures of food. All for you guys! At first I contemplated making my first Taiwan series post an overall view of what I’ve been eating and visually drown you all in delicious pictures of food. But what’s the point of dozens of pictures without words…right? So I’m gonna break it down into categories, starting with da da da DUMMMM….Sushi Takeout! Now pretty much everyone who knows me can verify my obsession with sushi and sashimi. Usually, I only get to gobble the babies up for special occasions when we decide to go to a restaurant or something. But recently I have been able to sate my sushi cravings whenever I want, and that is because ladies and gentlemen, there is a delicious Sushi Takeout shop in practically every subway station in Taiwan! Not only that, but everything is made fresh throughout the day (as it should be) and the prices are laughingly cheap and only get cheaper with every hour at night when items are discounted to sell out the days worth of food. Of course, you would assume that the sushi must be plain, simple, and average tasting if the prices were that low. NOT SO. Here’s proof: At Sushi Takeout, you can either custom make your own meal by taking the various plastic container sizes they have available and filling it with individual sushi pieces which can vary in price from 5NT to 15NT (15NT being 50 cents), or you can grab one of their custom made options. These include several sushi, nigiri, and bento options. Above, I got a delicious meal of eel, salmon roe, shrimp, broccoli, and a whole bunch of rice with egg AS WELL AS a separate container not pictured full of around 10 pieces of handpicked sushi for around $6!!! All the sashimi is fresh and the sushi filled with chewy rice that’s not mushy, limp, and stuck together. Yum yum. This wonderful place also sells the typical convenience store wonderfulness of breads, drinks and snacks, but I will talk about convenience stores in another post! For now, just ogle and awe at the greatness of Sushi Takeout. I know I do! Even without the nightly discounts, buying during the day is also a great lunch or snack for cheap. If it wasn’t so filling and if Taiwan didn’t offer so many other delectable foods to devour, I would just stuff myself with sushi…but thank goodness that isn’t the case. Hope you enjoyed this toast and make sure to try out the easy convenient sushi if any of you visit Taiwan! Btw, did anyone notice I typed toast and not post? Yes, I love food…ok that was corny. Anyways, thanks for reading ^_^   – Jas                                                                           Photographs taken by Jasmine...

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