Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies

Soft, warm shortbread cookies fresh from the oven are amazing. And they can only taste better with some ground Earl Grey tea leaves added to the mix. We were concerned that 2 tablespoons of tea leaves would overpower the cookie, but it turned out to be the perfect amount.

The ground leaves also added mini dark flecks and a slightly gritty texture, something which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp loose Earl Grey tea leaves
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature

Instructions:

1) Mix the flour, tea leaves, and salt in a large bowl.

2) Add the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract, and butter. Mix until a dough is formed.

3) Place dough on a sheet of plastic wrap, and roll into a log, about 2 1/2-inches in diameter. Tightly twist each end of wrap and shape the log into a long rectangular cube. Chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

4) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Slice the log of dough into 1/3-inch thick disks. Place on lined baking sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake until the edges are just brown, about 12 minutes. Let cool on sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to plates and cool to room temperature.

While warm, try the shortbread cookies with some vanilla ice cream! Whoever popularized the combination of hot, freshly baked cookies and scoops of cold vanilla ice cream is genius. The cookies were also a hit with the coworkers, a perfect little snack for everyone around the Holiday season. English Breakfast cookies next?

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Creme Brulee

Hong Kong made me lazy and fat. My 10 days vacation was filled with unrestrained eating and picture-taking of the food I ate. There were days where I had 6-7 full meals, mostly consisting of multiple breakfasts and late night binging. While the food there isn’t mainland cheap (and definitely not the nightlife), the exchange rate still worked in our favor. Of course, I also got fitted for a spiffy new tailored suit…just waiting for the next opportunity to wear it for work.

It always takes a few days to adjust after such a long term indulgence, both diet-wise and work motivation. However, here’s to 2011, a new year, new happiness, new goals. =) HK food pictures to come soon!

To finish off the LJ Bistro #7 round, such a hearty meal of steak and creamed spinach couldn’t be complete without dessert. I slyly asked Andrew about his favorite desserts a few weeks earlier so he wouldn’t suspect a thing on the creme brulee front.

I even bought the cute mini ramekins with him at Pier One Imports! Since I didn’t want to spend money on a kitchen torch I would only use sparingly, I went the broiler route to brown the top. I accidentally made the sugar crust a bit too thick, but it was fun to break through with a spoon. 😀 And terribly fun to eat the sweet crunchiness. The recipe calls for 2-3 minutes in the broiler, but mine actually took about 5 minutes to brown. Just pay attention and don’t let it burn!

Ingredients:

2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup white sugar
1 pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 egg yolks
4 tablespoons white sugar

Instructions:

1) Preheat oven to 300 degrees F and line the bottom of a large griddle with a damp kitchen cloth.

2.Bring a large pot of water to boil. While water is boiling, combine cream, 1/4 cup sugar and salt in saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally 4-5 minutes, until steam rises.

3) In a medium bowl, beat egg yolks and vanilla until smooth. Pour hot cream into yolks, a little at a time, stirring constantly, until all cream is incorporated. Pour mixture into four 6 oz. ramekins. (I halved everything in the instructions since I only made 2 creme brulees)

4) Place ramekins on towel in baking dish, and place dish on oven rack. Pour boiling water into dish to halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover whole pan loosely with foil.

5) Bake 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until custard is just set. Chill ramekins in refrigerator 4 to 6 hours.

6) Before serving, sprinkle 1 tablespoon sugar over each custard. Use a kitchen torch or oven broiler to brown top, 2 to 3 minutes.

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Shrimp and Egg Scramble

Most of my favorite Chinese dishes are the simplest ones that don’t require 20 different ingredients and over-excessive garnishes. These are the dishes I have fond memories of my mom cooking in the kitchen, wearing her worn out red apron with her hair tied back, putting together a 3-4 course dinner every night after a long day of work. We always had dinner as a family every night (though that’s not to say we didn’t have the TV on in the background occasionally).

Our meals usually centered around a nice healthy serving of white rice with two or three savory stir fried dishes. We almost always ended our meals with a bowl of piping hot soup, which in itself was a main dish since Asian soups are rarely without large chunks of vegetables and meat literally falling off the bone from hours of simmering.

I consider this shrimp and egg scramble one of the fundamental Cantonese homecooked dishes and definitely a dish for New Year’s. It’s easy to whip up, and honestly you don’t even need the cornstarch or sesame oil if you don’t have any in the pantry. However, I do like the nutty aroma from a few drops of sesame oil on my food (and this is coming from a girl who doesn’t exactly go nuts for nuts).

Ingredients:

1/2 pound raw shrimp
4 eggs
1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp sesame oil
Salt
Black pepper
Olive oil

Instructions:

1) Wash, de-shell, and devein the shrimp. Pat dry.

2) Combine the shrimp, salt, pepper, cornstarch, and sesame oil. Mix well and marinate at room temperature for 10 minutes. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl.

3) Heat up the oil in a large pan and add the shrimp. Spread the shrimp out in the pan and let fry untouched for 1 minute.

4) Flip shrimp over and fry on the other side for another minute, or until cooked through.

5) Pour the eggs over the cooked shrimp. Push the egg towards the shrimp so some of the egg sticks to the shrimp. Season with some more salt. I like my eggs a little runny in the middle so I cooked for about 1 minute. Serve immediately.

If you like spicy, try this with some sriracha. 🙂

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Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits Recipe

In case the butter alone in biscuits wasn’t enough to tempt your natural human instinct for fat, try this recipe that also incorporates cheddar cheese into the warm fluffy buttermilk biscuits. Created to imitate the complimentary Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits, this homemade version tastes less buttery but just as delicious (and less butter = more heart healthy!)

served the biscuits alongside a nice thick slab of cheesy layered seafood lasagna. Recipe coming next!

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups Bisquick (I used Jiffy buttermilk) baking mix
3/4 cup cold whole milk
4 tbsp cold butter (1/2 stick)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Spreading sauce:
2 tbsp butter, melted
1/4 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp garlic powder
pinch salt

Instructions:

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine Bisquick with cold butter in a medium bowl using a large fork, leaving small chunks of butter after mixing.

2) Add cheddar cheese, milk, and 1/4 teaspoon garlic to the Bisquick and mix.

3) Shape the dough into approximately 1/4-cup portions and drop them onto an ungreased cookie sheet. I actually used a measuring cup to shape my biscuits. Be sure to leave enough space between the biscuits so they can expand!

4) Bake for 15-17 minutes or until the tops of the biscuits begin to turn light brown.

5) When you take the biscuits out of the oven, combine the ingredients for the “spreading sauce”. Brush this garlic butter over the tops of all the biscuits.

Makes one dozen biscuits.

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Steamed Chinese Long Lee Fish

“Good Canto” often meant “Hong Kong Canto” at NYU Stern, where my classes and social circles were dominated by fellow Asians, and I was informed by countless peers that my Cantonese sounded “funny”. Funny as my accent seemed (stemming from the parentals’ Wuzhou heritage), I never let it stop me from ordering dim sum in Chinatown or buying cheap fruits and veggies at the street stands. In fact, I always felt quite at home in Chinatown, where the fake goods hawkers still stand on street corners with their walkie talkies, yelling out brand name labels to entice passerbys to check out their warehouse goodies.

However, there was still one hurdle left to conquer. In all my years living in the city and countless hours in Chinatown, I had never done one thing: bought fish.

Now these are not your usual fish fillets, neatly scaled, deboned, and packaged at your local grocery store. These are freshly caught (or I’d like to think so) whole pieces of fish in all their glory, laying on beds of ice and waiting patiently for the chance to become someone’s next meal. I avoided buying fish in the past due to the dizzying variety and indecipherable Chinese characters, but I absolutely had to get fish for my first homecooked New Years feast.

I bombarded my dad with questions on which fish to buy before making the final decision – Long Lee please! Long Lee, known as Sole in English, was a flat, flaky fish my parents used to steam at home. When buying fish, always have the fishmonger scale and gut the fish. You have enough to worry about with all that bone left intact, and you don’t want the guts muddying up the flavor.

Steamy Kitchen had an excellent suggestion for serving the fish. Instead of traditionally serving the steamed fish with its cooking juices and cooked herbs, create a fresh herb sauce to drizzle on top. The modified recipe below is inspired by Jaden’s recipe.

You will need a dish to hold the fish and a large pot or wok for steaming. I bought one of those metal steamer legs on which to rest the dish, but you can also place an inverted bowl in the pot/wok to hold the plate of fish above the steaming water.

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Potato Leek Pizza

Hello world! Tried and true, no matter how busy life gets, I will never abandon Ling Li Eats. Wearing many different caps has kept me running around the last few months, but believe me when I say I would never give up the invaluable opportunity to do what I actually enjoy. Priceless 🙂

The potato leek pizza, a la Pioneer Woman, is a tribute to my favorite food group on the food pyramid (though to be fair, it’s pretty much neck-to-neck with the meats). Forget the Atkins diet, carbs make such excellent comfort food. Add some crumbled dairy on top, some thinly sliced meats aka bacon, a few strands of vegetables, and voila!

You have yourself a well balanced meal. I usually go for your standard marinara sauce pizza with mozzarella cheese and pepperoni/mushroom/sausage, so adding potatoes, leeks, and my goodness, goat cheese?? to my pizza was a fascinating new concept.

I cheated last time I made pizza from scratch, using Boboli pizza crust as a base. No shortcuts this time. I had serious concerns about the dough being too sticky, but setting the covered dough in a warm area fixed that right up. Watching the yeast work its magic on the dough was well, kinda magical!

Thin layers of sliced red potatoes.

Ingredients:

1/2 recipe for Pizza Crust (see below)
6 slices thick-cut bacon, 1-in pieces
3 Leeks, rinsed well to remove grit and thinly sliced
5 small red or Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced paper thin
1 lb fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced thin
4 oz goat cheese, crumbled
Grated Parmesan cheese
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Instructions:

1) Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Spread pizza crust in baking pan and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt.

2) Fry the bacon over medium heat until cooked but not crisp. Set aside.

3) Leave some of the bacon fat in which to saute the leeks. Cook the leeks until soft, about 3 minutes. Set aside.

4) Use a sharp knife or mandoline to thinly slice the potatoes. Arrange the potatoes in a single layer over the crust, slightly overlapping the edges. Sprinkle lightly with salt.

5) Lay the mozzarella slices in a single layer on top of the potatoes. Place the leeks on top of the cheese, then arrange the fried bacon pieces over the leeks.

6) Sprinkle more crumbled goat cheese, grated Parmesan, and pepper on top.

7) Bake the pie for 8-11 minutes, until the edges of the crust are golden brown and the cheese is melted and bubbly. Slice and serve immediately.

How to make Pizza Crust:

Yield: 2 pizza crusts

Ingredients:

1 tsp or 1/2 packet active dry yeast
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, more for drizzling

Instructions:

1) In a mixing bowl, pour the yeast over 1 1/2 cups of warm water, stirring gently.

2) Combine the flour and salt in a separate bowl. Drizzle in the olive oil and mix well.

3) Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture, mixing until the dough forms a ball. (I used my hands)

4) Drizzle a little olive oil into a clean bowl. Toss the dough into the bowl and turn to coat. Cover the bowl with a moist kitchen towel and set in a warm place for 1-2 hours. You can also cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to 2 days.

5) Once the dough has risen, divide it in half and stretch the dough to the desired shape, pressing it into an oiled 13×9 griddle with your fingers. The thinner the better. The surface of the dough should be lumpy from finger marks so it receives and holds toppings better. The remaining dough be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerated up to 3 days before use, or frozen for up to 6 months.

Mmhmm…Delicious pizza, fresh out of the oven. With the pizza loaded with toppings, it was actually easier eating with forks and knives. Excellent flavors with the potato, leek, bacon, goat cheese combination.

Silly me overestimated the amount of dough necessary per square inch though, resulting in a thicker than desired pizza crust. If that happens to you, I recommend either sticking it back in the oven for a few more minutes or doing what I actually did. I placed a few pizza slices in a griddle and crisped the bottoms over the stovetop. Yum.

To continue the story of my Florida adventure, which unfortunately already feels like a faint memory of the past, we roadtripped to Orlando that Friday after 2 nights of warm sunny Miami beaches. Amidst the mandatory BCG mingling and organized events, we were still able to scrap together an entire day of doing whatever we wanted. First choice without even the slightest doubt in our minds: HARRY POTTER WORLD, HERE WE COME!

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Bacon Wrapped Scallops with Sriracha Mayo

I find the smell of bacon absolutely irresistible. I love watching the thin strips sizzle on the griddle, bathing in its own fat, the meat slowly curling up as it browns to a crispy perfectionShark Tank featured an entrepreneur with a prototype of a pig-shaped alarm clock that wakes you up in the morning with freshly cooked bacon.

I want. Now. (The idea, unfortunately, could not find an investor on the show. Potential fire hazard… plus I guess I would prefer to have the smell of bacon drifting in from the kitchen rather than from the adjacent nightstand).

Bacon is a great enhancement to any dish (bacon bits in salad? YUMM), and it was just one of those fatty, lazy weekends. 

Bacon wrapped around scallops is amazingly good, and make for great appetizers at parties. Of course, I was cooking for two, so the leftovers just made for a great snack the next morning. The spicy mayo dip provides a great kick to the dish, and you should definitely adjust the amount of Sriracha based on your spiciness tolerance.

Ingredients:

8 sea scallops
8 slices bacon
1/3 cup teriyaki sauce
Olive oil
8 toothpicks

Spicy Mayo Dip:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 tbsp Sriracha Hot Chili
1/2 lime, juiced
1 tbsp chopped cilantro

Instructions:

1) Marinate the scallops in the teriyaki sauce for 20 minutes.

2) Wrap each scallop in a piece of bacon and secure with a toothpick. Place the scallops on a lined baking sheet. Cook under the broiler for 10-15 minutes until bacon is thoroughly cooked.

3) Combine the ingredients for the Spicy Mayo dip. Stir well. Enjoy with the bacon wrapped scallop!

Inspired by Griddle Chef

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Simmered Daikon Radish

Remember that dashi broth concocted for the miso glazed salmon? Ling Li never wastes anything when she cooks :). To round out the Japanese-themed evening, I listened to my inner conscience and added some vegetables to the dinner lineup.

Daikon is a delicious white radish that can be eaten raw or cooked. There are many methods of preparation, ranging from thin pickled slices for Korean ban chan dishes to the Daikon & Pork Bone soup my parents make at home (luo bo tang). I also like simmering the vegetable in a light soy sauce mixture until soft (and then eating it with my soy sauce cornish hen!) My absolute absolute favorite? Turnip cake, aka luo bo gao. Get me a plate of that pan-fried any day at dim sum. Had some unbelievably delicious ones everywhere I went in Hong Kong.

In Japanese cuisine, daikon is often shredded and mixed into ponzu (soy sauce and citrus juice condiment) as a dip. This recipe takes the vegetable and simmers it in a dashi-soy sauce-mirin-sugar broth, finished with a pinch of salt.

Ingredients:
1 lb daikon radish
2 quarts of rice rinsing water
1 piece of kombu (kelp)
3 cups dashi stock
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp mirin
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
Scallion (optional, garnish)

Dashi stock ingredients:

1 1/3 oz or 6 inch of kombu (kelp)
4 cups of water

Instructions:

1) Peel the daikon and cut into 1 1/2 inch thick round pieces. Make a shallow criss-cross in one side of each daikon slice.

2) I couldn’t serve a Japanese meal without rice, and I collected 2 quarts of the water used to wash the rice for this recipe (apparently the water from washed rice gives daikon radish a milder taste when cooked). Boil the water and add the daikon. Simmer for 35 minutes.

3) Drain the water. Mix the dashi stock, soy sauce, mirin, sugar, and salt in a bowl and add to the pot. Place a piece of kombu (kelp) at the bottom and the daikon on top (I used the kombu from the dashi stock).

4) Bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes until soft. Arrange daikon slices in a dish and cover with remaining cooking liquid. Garnish with scallion.

How to make dashi stock:

1) Wipe kelp with a damp paper towel. Soak in 4 cups of water for an hour.

2) Bring the water and kelp to the boiling point, but remove the kelp before the water actually boils.

The dish was actually a bit too sweet for my tastes, but the boyfriend liked it. I prefer my vegetables savory and salty when cooked, but I trust that this is a pretty standard Japanese way of cooking daikon since it was included it in my handy dandy recipe book.

Hope you enjoyed this series on Japanese cuisine!

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Huevos Hyacinth

Great cookbooks are no longer limited to the commissioned writings of famous chefs or household TV personalities. The democratization of the cookbook allows more people with a good story and recipe to get their works published.

I stumbled upon the Pioneer Woman’s blog while googling for Photoshop actions one afternoon, and I’ve been a devout fan since. Ree Drummond’s cookbook “The Pioneer Woman Cooks” was actually my first cookbook purchase in years. Worth it? I think so! Nothing like step-by-step photo tutorials of how to make some finger-licking, lip-smacking southern comfort cowboy food. Makes me want to take a trip down south to experience the real thing. Her food blog also offers countless recipes and gorgeous food photos to boot.

So I decided to try my hand at some of the dishes Pioneer Woman would serve to Marlboro Man and the kids. Nothing too heavy since I was still trying to get in shape for a Disney trip later in June (which, by the way, was fantastic fun. Didn’t actually go to any of the Disney parks but had a blast at Harry Potter World. More on that later).

Final choices? Huevos hyacinth for the appetizer and potato leek pizza for the main course. Can’t tear me away from the eggs or carbs 🙂

Ingredients:

2 thin slices ham or turkey
2 large eggs
2 tomato slices
Picante sauce (optional)
Butter
Salt
Black pepper
Crumbled goat cheese (or Monterey Jack)

Instructions:

1) Butter individual ramekins and place a piece of thinly sliced ham or turkey at the bottom. Add a tomato slice on top of the meat.

2) If you’re feeling spicy, use a couple tablespoons of picante sauce instead. I used both tomato slices and a few drops of Frank’s hot sauce.

3) Gently crack an egg over the top of each ramekin. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.

4) Top each ramekin with ¼ cup grated cheese. Monterey Jack works nicely, but I used some of the leftover goat cheese from the potato leek pizza.

5) Broil for 2 to 4 minutes, removing when the yellow of the egg is still soft but not overly runny.

Serves two.

The egg whites came out too runny after 4 minutes, so I stuck the ramekins back under the broiler for a few more minutes. While tasty, I’m sad to say I wasn’t an immediate convert. There was too much liquid in my ramekin, a combination of the hardly-solidified egg white and juice from the tomato slice. Great flavor from the goat cheese and deli meat though. (Goat cheese, my new cheese love…)

Had much better results with the potato leek pizza though..here’s a preview of what’s to come next post:

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Chicken Gizzard & Heart Yakitori

Japanese yakitori is usually made from bite-sized pieces of chicken meat or offalskewered on a bamboo skewer and grilled over charcoal. Diners usually have the choice of having it cooked with salt (shio) or tare sauce. This recipe uses the tare approach, a marinade that is usually made of mirin, sake, soy sauce, and sugar.

You are missing out if you’re one of the foodies out there still afraid of trying internal organs. I grew up with the mentality that food should never be wasted, and every part of the animal can and should be eaten. I have vivid memories of my dad sucking the juices from shrimp heads and my mom fighting to claim the eyeballs from the steamed fish.

As a result, I have no fear (and even welcome) ear, tongue, feet, stomach, intestine, lung, liver, sweetbreads…you name it, and I will most likely eat it. That’s why one of the most exciting culinary trends to date is the increasing readiness of people to experiment with new foods and the restaurants out there ready to cater to the growing demand.

One of my personal favorites would have to be chicken gizzard. The meats have that irresistible crunchy, chewy texture, with a simple soy sauce marinade really bringing out the flavors. I purchased a 20oz package of Perdue chicken gizzard and heart at Gristedes for only $1.89! Good deal? I would say so.

But then again…what about the nutritional value? My curiousity led to a quick Google search. A cup of chicken gizzard has 212 calories and a whopping 179% of your daily cholesterol needs. Not something you want to be eating everyday, but hey, one large egg has 71% of your daily cholesterol needs, and I sure as hell am not giving up my eggs 🙂

This is a delightful appetizer to serve on a stick, and hopefully you’ll be expanding the taste palettes of all your dinner guests! (Maybe make some on the grill for this year’s Memorial Day weekend BBQ?)

Ingredients:

1 lb chicken gizzard & heart
4 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp sugar
2 cloves garlic
Scallions

Instructions:

1) Wash chicken gizzards and hearts thoroughly. Cut into bite size pieces.

2) Mince the garlic. Combine soy sauce, mirin, sugar, and garlic in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes until sauce thickens.

3) Save 3 tbsp of the sauce for serving and pour remaining sauce over the chicken. Mix well, cover, and chill in the refrigerator for 1-3 hours.

4) Soak the bamboo skewers (toothpicks in my case) in water for an hour to minimize burning in the oven.

5) Wash and cut off the white part of the scallion. I added this piece to my yakitori and saved the green part for garnish. Thread the marinated chicken pieces onto the skewers, alternating with the scallion if desired.

6) Broil in the oven for 13 minutes. Serve skewers with reserved sauce brushed on top.

*) To make the scallion curl garnish, cut the vegetable into 3 inch pieces and make thin lengthwise cuts 2 inches in. Place in cold water and let stand 1 minute until edges curl. Remove from water – it is now ready to be used on your plate!

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