Cool Whip Chocolate Wafers Log

Last week, during a groceries shopping trip, Ben picked up a Mr. Christie’s Chocolate wafers from the cookies aisle. This is one of the rare moments these days where Ben tag along for the shopping since I have started doing it during the weekday.

Mr. Christie is a very thin chocolate wafer which looks very appealing. Reading the instructions on the box and the mouth watering picture, we decided to make this Cool Whip Chocolate Wafers Log. The instructions sounded pretty simple.

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Ingredients

  • 1 package (200g) Mr. Christie’s Chocolate Wafers
  • 1 tub (1 L) Cool Whip or Cool Whip Light Whipped Topping

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The Cool Whip Chocolate Wafers Log turned out pretty nice. Nanzaro loves it.

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Click on the link below for the instructions.

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Jiaozi (Chinese Dumpling)

Polly also showed me how to make Jiaozi (Chinese Dumpling) when she came over to make the salted mustard with pork belly dish. Polly learned how to make Jiaozi from Xiao Qin who came from Taiwan.

Jiaozi is a Chinese dumpling which consists of minced meat and chopped vegetables wrapped into a piece of thin dough. The more popular meat filings are ground pork, ground beef, ground lamb, or shrimp. The vegetables can be Chinese cabbage, green onion, leek, chives, shiitake mushroom, water chestnut, etc.

Jiaozi can be boiled or shallow-fried and then steamed. When shallow-fried and steamed, it’s call potsticker.

On Chinese New Year’s eve, making and eating dumpling is a tradition in China. Family members would get together to make jiaozi.

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Ingredients

  • 3 lbs lean ground pork
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 8 pieces shallots
  • 2 medium onions
  • few celery sticks
  • 10 pieces of dried shiitake mushroom, soak overnight
  • 4 packages of dumpling skins, about 200 pieces

Seasoning:

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons corn starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 2 eggs

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All the ingredients except the dumpling skins and eggs have to be chopped finely. Mix all the ingredients except the dumpling skins together with the seasonings in a large bowl.

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Click on the link below for the instructions.

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Salted Mustard with Pork Belly (Mui Choy Khow Yok)

Polly is such a sweet friend that she came over to my house to teach me to make a home style pork dish called Salted Mustard with Pork Belly (Mui Choy Khow Yok). I used to have this dish at home when my late mom was doing all the cooking. Regretfully, I have never learn it from her.

Polly, thank you so much for showing me how to make it. Ben will surely loves this dish.

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There are only a few ingredients to make this dish. The amount in this recipe is good for 2 large servings. You may halve the recipe to suit your family.

  • 3 lbs pork belly cut into chunks
  • 1 package of salted mustard, about 1 lb
  • 5 cloves of garlic, pressed and remove skin.
  • 4 tablespoons dark soy
  • 3 tablespoons cooking liquor
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 to 1.5 cups water

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Marinate the pork with dark soy, cooking liquor, sugar and garlic. Soak the salted mustard in water and rinse a few times to remove any grits in them. Squeeze dry the salted mustard and chopped into small pieces.

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Heat a large wok and add in the marinated pork and 1 cup of water. Cook the pork for about 10 minutes until the outer layer of the pork is cooked. Remove the pork from the wok and arrange in a steaming dish. Add the chopped salted mustard into the remaining cooking liquid in the wok. Add more water if needed. Bring back to a boil and switch off the stove. Ladle the salted mustard on the pork. Steam the dish for 1 to 1 1/4 hours until the pork is soften. Test the doneness by poking the pork with a chopstick. If the chopstick goes in easily, then it’s ready. Serve over steam rice or noodles. Yum, yum.

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Baked Pretzel

We love the soft pretzel from the Little Monk in Metrotown — especially with cinnamon sugar. The pretzel from Little Monk costs between 2.50 to 3.00 each.

I tried to make this Baked Pretzel recipe from my bread machine cookbook. It did not turn out soft as those from Little Monk. Very hard!! The Baked Pretzel texture is more like a bread stick. Can anyone share a soft pretzel recipe?

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup beer (I substituted beer with water)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 2/3 cups white flour (I used all purpose flour; in US, use bread flour)
  • 3/4 teaspoon yeast

Glaze:

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • coarse salt or sesame seeds

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Instructions

Prepare the dough using the first 6 ingredients using your bread machines.

Click on the link below for further instructions.

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HSBC Celebration of Lights – Mexico

Tonight is the Finale Night for the HSBC Celebration of Lights. Unlike previous years, this year’s finale night is a full competition featuring a new contender, Mexico.

The crowd started forming at 7pm. We went to watch from Vanier Park which is a great place for photographers because of the backdrop. By the time we were there, there were a lot of photographers already staked out their vantage point.

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The fireworks are launched from the barge in the middle of English Bay. Many boats were already assembled around the barge. The reports said that there were 350,000 people on this night alone at the beaches around the English Bay.

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I brought along a Kakuro to while away the almost 3 hours wait. Did a couple and failed to solve both! This is supposed to be easy. Saw where I did wrong … 7+4=12!! Duh!

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Had to stop the Kakuro when the sun started to set over the bay. It was getting too dark.

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The bright lights from West End looked beautiful from where we were. The fireworks started at 10pm when it was completely dark. It’s great having the sun start setting at 9pm. Sigh … a couple of months more, we’re back to shorter and shorter day.

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We did not expect Mexico to do so well being first timers but we were quite blown away by their presentation. The fireworks synchronized so well with the music that was broadcasted. Compared to the other presentation we saw, China, they had more colours and much larger “bloom” which filled the sky.

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After the end of the 25 minutes Mexican fireworks, there was another 6 minute finale presentation. If you plan on a visit to Vancouver in summer, I strongly suggest that you time your vacation during the fireworks nights. You will not regret it.

There are more fireworks pictures on the link below … hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I had taking them. Continue reading

Vera’s Burger Shack

Last weekend we attended the HSBC Celebration of Lights fireworks finale night. As usual, we went very early just so that we can get a good place to park the car. Since we had over 3 hrs of wait we normally would eat out for dinner. We thought it would be great for the blog to dine out at the outlet that serves the “best burgers in Vancouver”

Vera’s Burger Shack had been operating since 1977 in a really small shack by a couple called Frank and Vera. They are no longer operating the shack but has since grown into quite a famous chain. There are a total of 6 Vera’s outlets throughout the Lower Mainland.

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Since we are watching the fireworks from the Vanier Park, we went to the Vera’s in Kitsilano (1925 Cornwall Ave).

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Nanzaro ordered the Chicken Fingers from the Kids Menu. There were 3 large pieces of real chicken meat, not breaded. The Chicken Fingers came with some fries.

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Suanne ordered the Thai Me Up Burger — which happen to be the winning entry in Vera’s “Build a Better Burger Contest”. The burger was very juicy with Thai Chilli Sauce, harvati, fried onions, bacon, sauteed peppers, mayo, mustard, lettuce and tomato. The burger was too tall for Suanne’s mouth!

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HSBC Celebration of Lights – China

The HSBC Celebration of Lights is the largest fireworks competition in the world. This event had been held every year since 1991 in mid summer. From 1991 to 2000, the event was known as the Benson and Hedges Symphony of Fire until the city pulled the plug on sponsorship from the tobacco company.

I still recalled in 2001, the event was almost cancelled because the organizers could not find a sponsor for the event and also that the city hall were getting worried about organizing the event that large. HSBC came to the rescue in the nick of time with the funding and this event has since been known as the HSBC Celebration of Lights.

West End

The musical fireworks event is held in the English Bay. Just the perfect setting for a fireworks event this big — with the North Shore mountains and the downtown skyline as a backdrop. The event is held on four nights over a two week period. We watched the fireworks from Vanier Park.

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Because this is a food blog, we simply had to include the obligatory picture of food. This is the snack that Nanzaro bought for $7.50. It’s pretty expensive and the chicken strips were not too great — it’s just breaded chicken.

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For the first time, there are 4 countries invites to compete this year. Previous years, there were three countries invited. The countries this year were represented by the leading fireworks manufacturer from Italy, China, Czech Republic and for the first time, Mexico.

We went for the China and Mexico show this year. The pictures below were shots taken from the chinese presentation.

The show started at 10pm and the local radio station broadcasts the music simultaneously. Let me know what you think of these pictures. It was pretty hard to get great shots.

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Click of the link below for more pictures of the Chinese fireworks …

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Braised Chicken Feet and Mushrooms

When we were groceries shopping last weekend, we also came across some fried chicken feet. Ben and I like braised chicken feet like those found in Dim Sum restaurant. So, I bought a pack to try to make it at home.

The pack of chicken feet (about 8 pairs) cost less than $3.00. At Dim Sum restaurant, a plate of 4 to 5 chicken feet will cost you $2.50 to $3.00.

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Ingredients

  • 8 pairs chicken feet
  • 12 medium-sized dried shittake mushrooms (whole) soaked to soften
  • 2 thick slices of young ginger
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped finely
  • 1 -2 tablespoons oil
  • 500ml water

Seasoning

  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chicken stock granules

Thickening

  • 1 teaspoon corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon water

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Click on the link below for the instructions.

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Chinese Vegetarian Dish (Loh Hon Jai)

My late mum used to make a Chinese vegetarian dish (Loh Hon Jai) on the first day of Chinese New Year. I have not eaten this dish for a long time until my next door neighbour, Richard and Jeanie shared it with me. The dish brought back so much sweet memories and I’m really grateful to Richard and Jeanie for sharing the recipe with me.

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Ingredients

  • Fresh oyster mushrooms
  • Dried shiitake mushrooms, reconstituted or fresh shiitake mushrooms
  • Cloud ear mushrooms, reconstituted
  • Cabbages, blanched
  • Fried gluten (mien gen), blanched to remove excess oil
  • Can fried gluten, remove top later of oil but reserve the liquid
  • Fried tofu puff, the rectangular type
  • Fried bean curd stick, blanched until soft
  • Bean curd skin, lightly fried
  • Vemicelli (tung fen), cooked in boiling water for 2 minutes and rinse off in cold water
  • Shanghai bean curd, red (lam yue), mushed up to dissolve in some water and strain if necessary
  • Corn starch solution
  • few cloves of garlic, chopped

You may any mushrooms in season or can mushroom like straw mushroom, button mushroom, inoki mushroom, etc. The Shanghai red bean curd can be substituted with oyster sauce.

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Click on the link below for the instructions.

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Cinnamon Swirl Bread

I made this Cinnamon Swirl Bread for breakfast this week. I wanted to bake a Cinnamon Raisin loaf but Arkensen and Nanzaro will not eat the bread if there is raisin in it. So, I decided to try this Cinnamon Swirl Bread which does not have raisin in it.

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons warm water
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • 3.5 cups bread flour
  • 2.5 tablespoons powdered milk
  • 2.5 teaspoon instant yeast (I used active dry yeast)
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon mixed with 1 tablespoon sugar

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Click on the link below for the instructions.

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