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Dorothy Ng's blog

What's Cooking?: Happy Lunar New Year 4011!

Chinese New Year is the most celebrated holiday in many Asian countries where shops are closed for two weeks to a month. Created for the purpose of counting a 12-year cycle in the Chinese calendar, each year is represented by twelve animals in the Chinese zodiac:  rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig.   This Chinese Lunar New Year on February 10 is the Year of the Water Snake. Throughout Asia and Chinatowns in the western nations, the streets are lined with people watching the festive parades with lions and dragons dancing to the beating of heavy drums and clanging cymbals, and "embraced" with a relentless spray of firecrackers to scare away malevolent spirits from spoiling the chance of a prosperous and hopeful year.

What's Cooking?: Shape Up!

The overindulgent holiday feasting is finally over and the New Year projects the familiar resolutions we’ve come to know every year in regard to our health and fitness.  Where we recently were enticed by the seductive sweets that surrounded us during the holiday gluttony without any guilt, we must now discipline ourselves to withdrawn from this temptation.  After stepping on the scale to see the damage, there will be no delay in cutting out the homemade cookies, banana breads, chocolates, and apple pie that are all sitting in the kitchen within reach.  It is certainly the right time to go back to eating smaller portions to whip us into shape. The bounty of nourishing healthy recipes provides variety and interests.  Never a dull selection.  Although correcting our eating habits to maintain a healthier diet is not easy, there are many sources to help us support a healthy lifestyle eating. 

What's Cooking?: Holiday Wintry Drinks

As the holidays approach, preparations get underway as we think about what to serve at seasonal get-togethers.  We check our menu list of appetizers, main and side dishes and desserts.  We tend to overlook those inviting wintry drinks to welcome family and guests, taking the bite out of the cold.  There’s nothing like being greeted with yuletide cheer of toasty mugs filled with spiced cider, mulled wine, or a hot toddy.  Before my guests arrive, I prepare a big pot of mulled spiced cider simmering ready on the stove filled with rich apple cider, cinnamon sticks, orange peels, and whole cloves inserted in wheels of orange slices.  The aroma fills the house luring travelers to the comfort of home.

What's Cooking?: Breaking Bread Together

 

How can one not be comforted by the aroma of freshly baked bread in the oven?   Every time I drive by Rockland Bakery, the smell permeates the surroundings reassuring me that all is well when the baking of bread has not lost its timely rhythm.  The crusty artisan breads I would buy from lower Manhattan can make a mundane meal into something extra special.  Those meals with extra gravy and sauce call for a thick slice cut from a loaf to mop up all that deliciousness.  There is something about freshly baked bread that reminds one of home, providing comfort and satiation.

What's Cooking?: Hearty Soups

Leaves will soon be swirling around in splashes of golden yellow, sunburst red, and candied orange in the brisk autumn air.  It brings to my mind the colorful palette of squash, carrots, tomatoes, and zucchini in a hearty bowl of vegetable soup.   Can you picture this pot of soup as a canvas where you can “paint” with your selection of favorite vegetables, meats, herbs, and spices?   How about the flavor and texture?  It can be savory, spicy, sweet, tangy, smoky or even sweet and sour at the same time.  Do you like it steamy hot or refreshingly cold?  Like it in a light broth, or creamy as in a chowder?  Similar to an artist, your creative strokes in ingredients, flavors, and texture are limitless.

What's Cooking?: Wok With Me

The wok is the most versatile kitchen cookware in the world.  It can be used for braising, deep-frying, pan-frying, stir-frying, sautéing, searing, smoking, steaming, stewing, boiling and poaching. Imagine all these methods using this one vessel.  In my opinion, every home should have one but then I’m quite biased. This conical shaped cooking vessel has been used for thousands of years originating in China at a time when fuel was scarce.  It was first invented to solve this problem as a way of making the most of the valuable fuel by its fast and efficient way of cooking.  In contemporary cooking, it suits the desire for fast and easy cooking, and much more.

What's Cooking?: Rub-a-Dub-Dub Marinade in the Tub

grilling

One of the great things about the summer is grilling and barbecuing.  It is the only time I do less cooking.  Perhaps it’s because the man of the house suddenly takes an interest in preparing the meals.  The summer heat seems to beckon the call of the wild in him.  Even with the frequent rain we’ve been having, it doesn’t deter him from cooking outdoors.   Nothing comes between the man and the meat on his grill.  And to make the food on that grill receive the highest compliments, he makes use of rubs and marinades to spice things up.  This inspires the family to offer their “ooh and aahs” as Dad is saluted for his supreme grilling talents. 

What's Cooking?: Ice Pops

I do not have a sweet tooth.  Sweets just don’t do anything for me except to add more weight.  I will quickly add that I have an affinity for savory and salty foods.  At parties, you would find me scouting for those chips; especially the kettle potato chips…love that double and triple folded crunch.  As you can see, I am getting away with the topic at hand talking about my own food weakness.  However, the sweets that I do prefer include ice cream and ice pops.  It’s hard to resist these lightly sweet treats that are so refreshing especially in the summer months.  I don't even mind it in the cool weather.

What's Cooking?: Food Allergy

Food allergy is fast becoming a public health concern.    There are 15 million people who are affected by this in our country, of which nearly 6 million are children.   The major food allergens are milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish.  These eight foods account for 90% of all food-allergic reactions.  Personally, it is a very serious problem in my household with several family members allergic to nuts, Crustacean shellfish, and sesame seeds.   It is not fun hunting for a tiny sesame seed on the bread or hidden inside one.  Each progressive attack can be life threatening if it is not treated immediately.   Unfortunately, we have not been strangers to the hospital for this reason.  Outside the hospital setting, food allergy is the leading cause of anaphylaxis.   

What's Cooking?: Let Them Eat Cupcake!

Looking at the baking books that are on the scene, cupcakes have continued to grow in popularity.  There is even a cupcake competition on Food Network.  The creativity and artistry involved in designing these “little cakes” are just beautiful.  The delicate decorations and sculpting amaze me as I view the intricate and complex workmanship…and they taste good too! 

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