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Dorothy Ng's blog

What's Cooking?: A Season of Giving

With all the amazing dishes, mouth-watering baked goods and dazzling decorations that inspire our creative senses, one of the best things I love about this holiday season is the time of giving.  I appreciate the thought and care people take in choosing their gifts.  Homemade culinary gifts offer a more personal and satisfying touch to gift giving.   Friends and family who are food lovers like me value the effort.  The expression of delight and joy when they take a bite of something that is scrumptious makes all the difference.

What's Cooking?: Autumn Harvest

pie

As I survey the colorful array of apples, pears, grapes, winter squash, persimmons, and pomegranates, they remind me of autumn jewels waiting for me to spirit them away to my kitchen.  For me, it is the season to open the ovens, and bake those pies and tarts!  I excitingly gloss over new recipes and retrieve the time-tested favorites.  The first apple pie of the season is sort of a celebration in our house.  With great anticipation, we can’t wait to have a flaky crust embrace these luscious slices in the hot oven.  The apple pie I make is filled with the combination of what I name as the “3Gs” - Granny, Gala, and Golden Delicious apples and then it is covered with a rich brown sugar crumb topping.  So good with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on that crunchy topping!

What's Cooking?: Papers, and Pencils, and Books! Oh, My!

It’s school time again!  Summer is still reluctant to let go of its lingering heat.  Nevertheless, it signals the advent of autumn with its brisk air driving the warmth away.  I love the fall season as parents get their kids ready for school and summer fun is winding down.  With the pressure of getting it altogether, there is no better time than now to find ways to put those meals on the table amidst the back-to-school pandemonium.

What's Cooking?: The Versatile Dumpling

One of my favorite things to eat all year round is dumplings.  Not the cooked balls of dough made from flour, potato, or matzo meal (I love those too) but the ones that are filled with luscious bits of meat, shrimp, vegetables, and cheese.  There are so many kinds of dumplings made from various regions of the world.  It is a global fare that includes the samosa and karchori from India, Korean mandu, Japanese fried gyoza, Chinese wonton and potsticker, the Russian piroshki, Ukrainian vareniki, Poland’s pierogi, Turkish manti, and kreplach from the Eastern European Jews.  Let’s not forget our favorite, ravioli !

What's Cooking?: Tips from the Kitchen

Books from the cooking collection provide more than recipes.   They give you a tour around the world, evoke memories during holiday seasons, how-tos for building gingerbread houses or brewing beer in a bathtub.  What I appreciate most are the tips, shortcuts, substitutions, and repairs in the kitchen that are generously shared by experienced cooks.

What's Cooking: Taking It Easy

grill

Summer is just around the corner signaling the wonderful season of outdoor cooking.  Who wants to cook in the hot weather?   It screams out for simply made dishes that don’t take much preparation where the freshness of the foods alone will delight the palate.  Just thinking about the jewelled green salads, luscious fruits and vegetables in season, and refreshingly cool desserts stirs the senses. A word about salads, try not to limit salads to just greens.  Broaden your selection to include beans, pasta, noodles, bread, meats, seafood and grains like rice and wheatberry, to make a scrumptious main dish.

What's Cooking?: Healing Foods

As I was preparing the Chicken Wine Soup for my daughter-in-law after she gave birth, I realize we often overlook the restorative and healing powers of food.  This Chicken Wine Soup is traditional in the Chinese culture and prepared for new mothers in their recovery from childbirth. This soup contains an abundance of ginger and glutinous rice wine in the soup to help rejuvenate and warm the body. The dried lily buds and wood ears are believed to have anticoagulant properties. The dried Chinese mushrooms revitalize the body and improve its immune system.  Of course, everyone is familiar with the healing quality of chicken soup. There are some who await a new birth with anticipation just to be able to partake of this soup along with a small bowl of pickled pigs’ knuckles with hard-boiled eggs cooked in sweetened black vinegar and ginger.  You may think this latter dish is unappetizing but it is often requested unabashedly.  Although I think the taste is unique and delicious, the true focus is on the restorative value of its ingredients.

What's Cooking?: Asian Noodles

The main food staple in my family is rice.  I cook it almost every night.  However, if there is a choice between having rice or noodles.   Noodles win hands down.   I love eating noodles.  Many countries have their own special noodles but I must admit I am partial to Asian noodles so this will be my focus today.  Many of you may have eaten the long thin Chinese noodles that are usually stir-fried with meats and vegetables known as lo mein in restaurants and of course, the packaged ramen noodles but are you familiar with rice vermicelli, or rice noodles in their various sizes in width and thickness, or the Japanese udon and somen in noodle soups, or the sweet potato noodles used in making the Korean dish Japchae or the glass (cellophane) noodles made of mung beans?  Not only are there so many types of noodles to enjoy, there are so many ways to prepare them.  Depending on the characteristics of the particular noodle, they can be stir-fried, deep-fried, pan-fried served with meat sauce over it, used as noodle salads, and in noodle soups. The list seems endless.

What's Cooking?: A Culinary Journey Around the World

Getting cabin fever? Want to do some traveling? Cookbooks are a great vehicle to expand your horizons to foreign lands. Get a taste of a culture, the people, and most importantly, the foods, just by walking through international cookbooks. You can travel across an exotic country like Tibet, a province like Provence, France, or a region like the Mediterranean. The trek is boundless. From browsing the recipes and their ingredients you can envision the types of spices, vegetables, grains and livestock that are indigenous to that area. Have you ever used turmeric, cumin, tamarind, or lemongrass? Have you heard about stinky tofu or durian fruit from Southeast Asia? How about being adventurous by adding octopus, eel or snails to your menu? Well, if these food items don’t turn you on, there are plenty of scrumptious dishes that are sure to entice you. “Traveling” through these cookbooks also introduces us to new and different methods of cooking.

What's Cooking?: Hot and Steamy...

 

After the gluttonous escapades of holiday eating, it is natural to look for ways to detox and trim down.  Yet when it is bitterly cold outdoors, my body seeks that nourishing warmth to coat me inside out.  What cries out to me?   No cold salads, low carb diets or nonfat foods will satiate me!  Hopefully what awaits me as I walk through the door is a bowl of steamy hot soup or chili with a nice crusty baguette, or a pot of chunky beef stew simmering over the stove, or even better the aroma of whatever went into the slow cooker prepared hours before.  I received a new slow cooking cookbook from my son this Christmas.  There is a great selection of delicious meals with little preparation.  Those slow-cooked Asian Red Glazed baby back ribs are fall-off-the-bone tender.  It is ready as soon as I get home from work and when the mouth-watering aroma hits me…wow!  If you haven’t used a slow cooker, give it a try.  It sure comes in handy in a busy household.

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