Moon Cake

Moon Cake is a traditional chinese confectionery normally eaten during the mid-autumn festival. For this year the mid-autumn festival falls on October 6th. It is around this time of the year where the moon cakes start appearing in the chinese shops.

Traditional mooncakes are typically baked and consists of a thin tender skin enveloping a sweet and slightly oily filling. The moon cake can also contain single or multiple whole salted egg yolks in its center to symbolize the full moon. The saltiness of the yolk balances well with the sweet filling in the mooncake.

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Traditional mooncakes have an chinese character imprint on top for “longevity” and “harmony” as well as the name of the bakery and filling in the moon cake. The imprint on the mooncake above describes the filling which is Double Egg Yoke and White Lotus Paste.

Moon Cake is an expensive delicacy. It is because making them and their fillings is a very labour-intensive process. That is why most people do not make it home but chooses to buy them. Suanne found some good deal Moon Cakes in her recent grocery shopping trip to Costco. The box of four below costs about $11.89 which is much cheaper than the more famous brands which costs up to over $30 per box.

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There are many legends around the origin of Moon Cakes. The most popular one is the Moon Cake played a role in the overthrow of the Mongol rulers by the Chinese in the early 14th century. During those time, group gatherings were banned and this made it impossible to make plans for a rebellion against the Mongols. Since the Mongols did not eat Moon Cakes, a chinese leader came up with an idea to time the rebellion to coincide with the mid-autumn festival. So, he asked for permission to distribute thousands of Moon Cakes to the residents in the city to bless the longevity of the Mongol emperor.

Inside each cake, however, was inserted a piece of paper with the plans of the uprising. On the night of the Moon Festival, the rebels successfully attacked and overthrew the Mongolian government. What followed was the establishment of the Ming Dynasty which ruled for 300 years. Since then, the mid-autumn festival was celebrated with Moon Cakes on a National Level.

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Moon Cakes are very rich, heavy and dense. People don’t normally eat one whole piece but cut them into wedges of quarters or 1/8th. It has a high cholesterol content too — so, you will want to eat it in moderation.

Roast Pork from Parker Place

When it comes to meat, personally, nothing comes close in simplicity than the chinese Roast Pig. This is not the char siew or BBQ’d “roast pig” I am referring to here. Char Siew is char siew. I am referring to what is known as “siew yoke” in Cantonese.

There are minimal marinate involved in making this.

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A lot of my chinese friends had always raved about the best Roast Pork in Richmond. Albert thinks that the best is from the small Master BBQ restaurant in the Real Canadian Superstore. However, a lot of people believes the Meat and BBQ shop in Parker Place is the best.

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This Meat & BBQ shop in Parker Place is almost always busy with a line of of people queuing right out to the walkway. Even Andy from Portland, Oregon made a beeline for this place when he came over to Vancouver for a vacation a few months ago. This shop is that famous for people who likes roast pork.

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The best thing about this roast pork that they are roasted to perfection in every instance. Unlike other place, where it’s sometimes a hit or miss depending on which pig or which cut you are given, the roast pork here are uniformly good. The best thing to me is that when we asked for leaner meat, we don’t get a thick soggy layer of pork fat. Continue reading

McDonald’s Philly Cheese Steak

We had flyers dumped in our mailbox everyday. Not sure about you all but we do really read them them. You will never know what deals that you have. Every now and then, we had some related to food. Those are the ones we keep in a pile and use them if we can’t decide where to eat or when we wanted to save on dining out because we had blown our dining out budget for the week.

There was one flyer from McDonald’s which advertised their “Two Can Dine” promotion. The flyers were cleverly laid out in such a way that there are something like 10 different options where one can nearly save 50% in a normal tab. The boys wanted their fix of Quarter Pounder with Cheese and so we went to the first McDonald’s restaurant in Canada.

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There were some new items on the menu. McDonald’s had just expanded their Toasted Deli Sandwiches with the Philly Cheese Steak sandwich. This sandwich is part of their line up of seven different sandwiches which they wanted to use to dispel how unhealthy McD’s food are.

The Toasted Deli Sandwiches were launched in Canada less than two years ago. They are made with deli type meats, vegetables (green peppers and onions) and a choice of toasted whole wheat or French Roll.

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We noticed that they have touted this sandwich with the word “freshly toasted bread” instead of “toasted fresh bread”. I somehow suspect that it’s a clever play on words. Moreover, toasting bread hides the “un-freshness” of bread, right?

This sandwich (350 calories) had a much lower calories count compared to the Big Mac (530 calories). It also had lower fat content.

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We have never been to Philadelphia but if we ever do get a chance to make a visit there one day, we would definitely want to check out the home of the Philly Cheese Steak — the Pat’s King of Steak. The Philly Cheese Steak was invented in Philadelphia in 1930 and the invention is attributed to Pat Oliveiri. It is described as sliced pieces of steak and cheese sauce and is comfort food for the natives in the region of Philadelphia.

The McDonald’s Philly Cheese Steak sandwich costs $4.55.

Blueberry Muffin

Minoo’s second recipe is a healthy Blueberry Muffin made with whole wheat flour and honey. Minoo uses frozen blueberry because blueberry season is over. The frozen blueberry is as good as the fresh one.

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup unbleached white flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 cup milk or buttermilk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup blueberries

I will not blog in details of the process of making the blueberry muffin as I had blogged about a Banana Blueberry Muffin earlier. The steps will be similar.

Continue reading

Pacific Salmon Loaf

For this fall session, I’ll try to attend another community kitchen so that I can learn more variety of recipes from a different group. I’ll be going to Minoo’s group at Caring Place on Thursday morning every other week.

Minoo shared two recipes this week. The recipes are Pacific Salmon Loaf and Blueberry Muffins. The Pacific Salmon Loaf in this recipe uses can salmon but you may use any left over baked salmon or even can tuna. The Salmon Loaf is served with a cucumber sauce.

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Ingredients

  • 2 (220g) cans salmon, drained and flaked
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) dry bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup (75ml) chopped green peppers (or any other color peppers)
  • 1/3 cup (75ml) chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) mayonnaise
  • 1 large egg

Ingredients for the cucumber sauce

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup dairy sour cream or yogurt
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped cucumber
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried dill

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Click on the link for the instructions.

Continue reading

Pearl Meatball

Julie also showed us a second dish which uses the same ingredients to make the meatball. She used the same meatball ingredients to make Pearl Meatball.

For this dish, we need an extra ingredient which is the glutinous rice. The glutinous rice has to be soaked for at least 3 to 4 hours.

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This time, Julie made small meatballs, the size of of loonie. Rolled the meatballs in the glutinous rice so that the meatball is completely covered with the glutinous rice.

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Steam the glutinous rice covered meatballs for 15 to 20 minutes until the rice is translucent. The translucent look of the rice gives this dish the name Pearl Meatball.

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I love recipes which yield more than one dish using the same ingredients. Good job, Julie.

Red Cooked Lion’s Head (Braised Giant Meatball)

Julie Chung started off the South Arm Community Center fall cooking session this week. Julie showed us how to make Giant Meatballs simmered with Suey Choy (Chinese cabbage). This dish is called “Hung Siew Si Ji Tao” in cantonese which literary means red cook lion’s head. The name of this dish came from the giant meatball which can be as big as a fist.

Julie served the Red Cooked Lion’s Head with some handmade noodles. The Chinese cabbages were very soft and flavourful and the giant meatball is very filing, not to mention.

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Ingredients

  • 1.5 to 2 lbs lean ground pork
  • 2 tablespoons chopped ginger
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onion
  • 1/2 lb (about 8 pieces) water chestnuts, chopped
  • 1 head of suey choy

Marinates

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon rice wine
  • 1 egg
  • sugar and white pepper to taste

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Click on the link below for the instructions.

Continue reading

Feenie’s

Update: 29th May 2009 – this restaurant is closed.

Suanne’s favourite TV channel is FoodTV (or was it Food Network?). Among her favourite show is the Iron Chef America. Vancouverites are proud that one of the winners of the Iron Chef is one of our own — Rob Feenie. Rob Feenie beat no other than Masaharu Morimoto in the Battle Crab.

Feenie owns two award winning restaurants in Vancouver. The Lumiere and Feenie’s are located next to each other on Broadway in Vancouver. It would take a very special occasion to have a meal at the Lumiere — well, it’s because their signature menu, oh, costs only $160 … per person! The tips for a dinner for two is more than what I would normally spend for a nice meal for the whole family.

Cheapskate as we were, we went to the cheaper bistro next door to the Lumiere … Feenie’s. You gotta make reservation at Feenie’s because they are almost always packed. We booked a table for two through Feenie’s website. They called me the afternoon on that date to confirm our reservation.

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We deliberately booked an early time ar 5:45pm before the dinner crowd starts coming in. By the time we got there, half the restaurant was already filled. We were shown the inside table, promptly seated, and given the Feenie’s menu.

We were served bread with soft butter.

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For appetizer, we decided to share the Steamed Local Mussels. They are cooked with white wine, garlic, lemon grass, ginger, red and yellow peppers with garlic toast on the side. This dish was fabulous. The mussels were fresh and the soup base went perfectly with the toast. Great dish to start off the night.

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Honolulu Cafe in Richmond

Honolulu Cafe had been replaced by Ginger and Garlic

We have always known of this place in Richmond and heard of their popularity. Despite this we have never been into Honolulu Cafe. The Honolulu Cafe is another Hongkong Style cafe which serves a combination of chinese style cuisine with western cuisine.

The Honolulu Cafe has three outlets. One is in Main St, Vancouver, and another in Kingsway Vancouver. We went to the one in Richmond on Westminster Hwy (address: 180-7771 Westminster Hwy).

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The menu of such places are extensive running into hundreds of different items with different menus for different time of the day. We went at 10:30am and found that they were still serving breakfast. They were adamant of not serving the lunch menu until 11am. Since we did not have to go anywhere in the afternoon, we told the waitress that we’ll wait for 30 minutes and asked for the menu.

As in all HK Style Cafe, there is always the Milk Tea with Ice. They came free of charge with each order from the lunch menu.

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Suanne asked for what is known as the Hot Pan Set Dinner. In this set dinner, she gets to choose two entrees from the menu. Suanne choose the 5oz Ribeye Steak and Baked Salmon Puff. One gets also to choose the sauce from black pepper, garlic, mushroom, onion or gravy. Suanne opted for the mushroom sauce. The dinner set also includes the soup of the day and a garlic toast. To top off the selection, she also gets to choose between rice or spaghetti. All these for only $10.95.

The garlic toast was a thick block of white bread. It was toasted really nicely with a slight hint of garlic. If it had more spread of garlic, it would have been perfect. The soup of the day was the vegetable, onion and tomato soup.

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The ribeye steak and salmon puff is served on a hot plate on top of fries and some cut vegetables. The idea is to pour the sauce over the hot and sizzling hot plate. This throws up a pleasant aroma. The steak was OK and the salmon is served in a soft pastry.

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Apple Cabbage Coleslaw

Jean’s second recipe is a very healthy Apple Cabbage Coleslaw. The apples gives the regular cabbage coleslaw a nice contrast of colour and flavour.

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There are only four ingredients in this recipe.

  • 1 medium head of cabbage, shredded finely using a food processor
  • 4 red apples, cut into small bite size pieces (leave the skin on)
  • 4 to 5 sticks of celery, dice
  • 1 bottle (or more) Coleslaw dressing depending on your liking.

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Mix all the the chopped ingredients with the coleslaw dressing and you have a very tasty salad. This salad keeps well in the refrigerator for a few days.

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The Apple Cabbage Coleslaw is good for a light lunch and great to bring along for a gathering.

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Jean, thank you for sharing the recipes and the nutritional values of apple and cabbage which contains antioxidants and vitamins that keeps the doctor away.