Dorothy Ng's blog
Do opposites attract? It certainly does in the culinary world. It is the pairing of opposite ingredients such as sugar and vinegar as in strawberries and balsamic vinegar, salt and sugar as in chocolate covered pretzels, or spicy white pepper and vinegar in hot and sour soup. Exploring combinations of the six basic tastes of sweet, salty, sour, bitter, pungent, and umami opens a palate of sensations. The cooking trend is combining these contrasting flavors resulting in a complex layering that bursts and surprises the taste buds. The outcome is never subdued or tepid. There is a welcomed nontraditional bite that makes you wonder how and why these pairings come to work together so well.
According to the lunar calendar, Chinese New Year is today, February 8th. It is the Year of the Monkey. The most celebrated holiday in the Chinese culture and other Asian countries, I remember celebrating with visits to relatives and friends wishing them a prosperous new year as well as receiving guests in our home. Along with the parades and fire cracking festivities are the endless procession of traditional dishes, sweets and treats that make one hope the party never stops. It is with anticipation that I look forward to eating these specialty dishes that is traditionally serve on New Year’s Eve where the family members travel far and wide to be together to share this meal. Happy times…
Do you own a slower cooker? If you do, it’s time to dust it off and take it out. Once you start to use it, it becomes an invaluable appliance which cooks your meals unattended. I love my slow cookers. I have three of varying sizes and shapes. It is popularly known as “Crock-Pot” by the company who first manufactured it. The crock is the thick and heavy ceramic inserted into the base unit which is insulated with the heating element. The slow cooker uses low levels of heat, thus, it can withstand lengthy cooking times. It can be left cooking unattended while you are working or running errands. For those who have busy lives or want to be free from being behind the stove all day long, the slow cooker is a must have. Nothing speaks to me like a ready home-cooked meal with little preparation.
The much anticipated winter holidays are upon us as many of us look forward to the festivities with family and friends. Since food is a large part of the celebration, there are carefully planned menus for Christmas Day with main entrees getting starred prominence. However, I enjoy the beginning “act” that leads to the main venue of roast prime rib, brown sugar crusted ham or fragrant golden roast chicken. What excites me is the hors d’oeurves being served. I just love these little bites of savory morsels. Popping these delightful bites into my mouth enhances the casual atmosphere of mingling and catching up with others. These small bites whet the appetite to what is to come.
It is the peak of autumn as we embrace the stunning flora of leaves changing from summer green to brilliant orange, red, and golden colors. Mimicking the colors of fall as well is the season of harvesting pumpkins, winter squash and gourds. Squash comes in all varieties of shapes, sizes, and colors but one of the most popular squash is the beloved pumpkin. These bright orange spheres are iconic spectacles beckoning to be picked from the patch for the holidays. Pumpkin can be used in so many ways.
My father was the chef in our house as we were growing up. He was a great cook and taught me both Chinese and American cuisines. I remembered standing by his side as he was cooking, watching the measurements and portions he used. Without any recipes, you learn what it means to add “a little bit of this or a handful of that”. Whenever I make his classic meat loaf, a pork roast nestle on a bed of roasted vegetables or the uniquely tasting spaghetti made in a wok, sweet memories come back to me. Yet, it was his fried rice that I remember with a nostalgic comfort. My Dad’s fried rice was the best.
Summer is soon over…no more leisurely hikes under the umbrella of solitude in the woods, nor feeling the gentle waves at the beach serenely stroking the tensions away. Fun-filled days of vacation are winding down. It’s that time again! We have started the fervor of getting the kids ready for school. We hunt for school supplies and backpacks, shopping for clothing they have outgrown, arranging our schedules to align with work and school, and thinking of ideas for the kids’ lunches and snacks.
Kale is so healthy and delicious, full of vitamins and antioxidants. The word is out as its popularity continues to grow about its health benefits. However, I resisted trying this luscious curly forest green vegetable with its coarse texture until my son convinced me of how great the kale salad he has been having for lunch. As a result, I found there are many uses for kale with various techniques in preparation as in salads, in soups and stuffing, and kale chips. The kale chips are a blast to make with their light, wispy-like quality. Stir-fry kale with garlic is exquisitely delicious in its simplicity. It is a great substitute for spinach in many recipes. Its sturdy texture doesn’t fall apart as easily as spinach does. I like it in my quiche for its chewier texture!
The delectable quiche is making a comeback! It is one of the most versatile dishes that can be served for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner. With an addition of a bright green leafy salad, it becomes a complete and satisfying meal. Made into bite-sized portion as mini quiches or cut in tiny squares, they are wonderful as appetizers for cocktail parties or eaten as snacks. It can be eaten hot or cold and perfect at room temperature which makes it conveniently portable for traveling or outdoor entertaining such as picnics, beach party, and road trips. Quiche can be dressed up elegantly to serve for formal occasions as well as casual get-togethers like potlucks. It is great in whatever season!