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Thursday, March 28, 2013

[Shrimp Egg Rolls] Fresher and Healthier Egg Rolls Brimmed with Delicious Flavour

There was a popular Vietnamese restaurant near my previous work place. I went there once a month to have Vietnamese vermicelli noodle with an egg roll. One egg roll was $1.25 before tax. I refrained myself to have two, but it was really tasty! 

Actually it's surprisingly easy to make. As you imagine, homemade egg rolls are much healthier, because you are using clean oil, and also much fresher, because you make them to eat for the next meal. And it is, for sure, cheaper, too. Egg rolls make a great appetizer or a side dish to a meal. 
I'll get thinner spring roll wrappers sometime and introduce a very easy pork spring roll recipe. Egg rolls and spring rolls are very similar to make.

As I said above, egg rolls are very easy to make if you keep a couple of rules.
Rule # 1 - Your egg roll filling must be cooled off. You don't want to end up with soggy egg rolls.
Rule # 2 - Your egg roll filling must be completely drained.  You never want to end up with soggy egg rolls.

Here goes the recipe. I got the recipe from the back of the the egg roll wrappers. It's actually pretty good  and I've used it several times.

1 package egg roll wrappers 
1/2 lb shrimps
3-4 mushrooms, any kind
2 staks celery
1/2 onion
1/2 lb bean sprout
1-2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon  cornstarch
Sauce - Plum sauce (store-bought)


1. Chop mushroom, onion and celery.

2. Cut shrimp into small pieces. Drain any excessive liquid.

3. Heat a large pan over hight heat and add the cooking oil to coat the pan. Add the shrimp and cornstarch, and cook it over medium - high heat. Put shrimp aside.

4. Add another tablespoon oil. Then, continue stir-frying onion.

5. Add celery, and then mushroom and cook for another minute.

6. Add bean sprout and stir-fry for another minute.

7. Drain any excessive liquid and put aside to cool off for 20-30 minutes. You can prepare up to this step ahead.
Now you are ready to roll!

8. Place 1 tablespoon filling at the bottom corer of a wrap.

 Lift the bottom corner up and begin rolling until you reach halfway up.

9. Fold over the left side and the right sides towards the centre.

10. Continue rolling and finish up the roll, seal with a little bit of water and place seam side down. 

Now you are ready to fry.

12. Fill a wok with 2 inches of high-heat cooking oil. Heat the oil to 350°F (175°C) (or until a cube of bread will fry to golden brown immediately. Frying 5 to 6 egg rolls at a time, turning occasionally until golden brown about 90 seconds. 

12.  Place on paper towel to drain and cool.

Plum sauce is a nice pick for egg rolls. Buy any jar of plum sauce. 
It's much easier than it looks. Try!
When I make egg rolls at home, I make a lot to make sure I can eat as many as I want!

Long weekend started!
Happy Easter!

Shrimp Egg Rolls

Monday, March 25, 2013

[Checkerboard Cookies] Secret of Patterned Chocolate Vanilla Cookies

This checkerboard pattern must have something to impress people. It's actually surprising to see how people react when they are offered these cookies. 

I bake these checkerboard cookies regularly because the dough can be prepared in a large batch and can be frozen up to a month. Frozen cookie dough is great to be made ahead and baked within 15 minutes when you need. 

Though they look complicated, believe me, these chocolate-vanilla cookies are easy to make if you use a ruler. The simple secret of this checkerboard cookies is to use a ruler to score! It takes a little more time to make the pattern. These cookies have soft texture and are full of the flavour of vanilla and chocolate in one.

I got this recipe from a few yaers ago, but it seems the website is now closed :(  Unlike many other checkerboard cookie recipes, this recipe makes vanilla and chocolate recipes separate. 

Then, the cutting and stacking the chilled dough will end up with nice-yet complicated-looking checkerboard pattern. 
Here goes the recipe.

<Vanilla dough>
1+1/2 cups (=375ml) flour
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup room temperature unsalted butter
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 egg yolk
(Don't discard the egg white which will be used as glue)

<Chocolate dough>
1+1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup room temperature unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 large egg

*  You can use either a stand/hand mixer if you have one or your own manpower :)

You might end up having some muscle ache. But, not too serious.

1. Mix well flour and salt.

2.  Cream butter and sugar until blended, about 1-2 minutes.

3. Add an egg yolk and vanilla extract.

4. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour+salt and leave it until the dough is formed.

5. Turn dough out onto a clean & floured work surface.
Knead dough by pushing away from you with the heel of your hand for a few times.
Form a 8" x 8" dough and freeze the dough for 1/2 hour.

Then, it's time to make chocolate dough. Steps are pretty identical with those for the vanilla dough.

6. Mix well flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.

7.  Cream butter and butter until blended, about 1-2 minutes.

8. Add an egg and vanilla extract

9. With mixer on low speed, gradually add dry mixture(flour+cocoa+b.s.+salt) and leave it until the dough is formed.

10. Turn dough out onto a clean & floured work surface.  Knead dough by pushing away from you with the heel of your hand for a few times. 

Form a 8" x 8" dough and freeze the dough for 1/2 hour.
11. Take out the firm dough and brush tops and in between the strips with egg white.
12. Cut it into half.

13. Put one half(double layered) on top of another half.

14. Using a sharp knife and a ruler, score each square into a thickness you want. I scored them every 1cm= 2/5". 

15. Slice crosswise according to the marks you scored.

16. Brush in between the strips with egg white. Gently press strips together. 

Repeat, forming second, third, and fourth layers, alternating colors to create a checkerboard effect. 

17. You can make 5 blocks with the dough prepared.

18. Wrap assembled log in plastic. Freeze 15 minutes. 
Well, you can freeze at this stage for up to a month.
19. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

20. Slice each log into 1/4 inch-thick slices; place on baking sheet.
Don't crowd the cookies. Otherwise they get stuck together once baked.

21. Bake for 11-12 minutes in the preheated oven.

It's much easier with photos eh? :D
Checkerboard Cookies

Thursday, March 21, 2013

[Comfort Beef Stew] Great Weekend Stew cooked with wine

Stew must be one of the easiest cooking method to make a great dish. And stewing makes the least tender cuts of meat tender and juicy with the slow moist heat method, which however is different from slow cooking method. (Slow cooker often makes meat too limp for my taste.) As Mr. D and I love stew so much, I often make all kinds of stew, including chili. 

This comfort beef stew could be a cousin, but quite distant, of French boeuf bourguignon. While the authentic boeuf bourguinon requires some labour, this comfort beef stew can be done with little work. You can see my favorite boeuf bourguignon recipe of Julia Child here. If you like boeuf bourguignon, just like me,  but want something similar and easier, try this easy comfort beef stew recipe. Leftover is just as good as when it was first made.

Here goes the recipe:
(I've used this recipe for a few years, but don't remember where I got it :( )

3-4 lbs Stew beef (I used pot chuck roast only because it was on sale, but I normally use stewing beef)
1 onion
1 celery stalk
2 carrots
3 tablespoons flour or chickpea flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 lbs mushroom of your choice, sliced (I used Shitake)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 cup beef broth
1 cup dry red wine
1 can diced tomato can


1. In a large cast-iron casserole or a skillet,  add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and arrange the meat i in a single layer and season with salt and pepper. Cook over moderately high heat, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides. (At first, the beef will give off some liquid, but once that evaporates, the beef will start to brown. )

2. Then set aside.

3. Dice all the vegetables: onion, celery, and carrots.

4. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add flour, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. You want the mixture to turn light brown but not burn

5. Add chopped onion, celery,carrots, and mushroom and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened, 5 minutes.

6. Add beef and garlic and mix well.

7. Add red wine and beef broth.

8. Add canned tomato, bay leaf and thyme, and bring to a boil.

9. Simmer for 60-70 minutes on low-medium heat.

Serve with short pasta such as rigatoni what I used. Enjoy this flavourful dish with a glass of red wine ~


Comfort Beef Stew with Red Wine