Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Cucumber information

1. Cucumbers contain most of the vitamins you need every day, just one cucumber contains Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Zinc.

2. Feeling tired in the afternoon, put down the caffeinated soda and pick up a cucumber. Cucumbers are a good source of B Vitamins and Carbohydrates that can provide that quick pick-me-up that can last for hours.

3. Tired of your bathroom mirror fogging up after a shower? Try rubbing a cucumber slice along the mirror, it will eliminate the fog and provide a soothing, spa-like fragrance.

4. Are grubs and slugs ruining your planting beds? Place a few slices in a small pie tin and your garden will be free of pests all season long. The chemicals in the cucumber react with the aluminum to give off a scent undetectable to humans but drive garden pests crazy and make them flee the area.

5 Looking for a fast and easy way to remove cellulite before going out or to the pool? Try rubbing a slice or two of cucumbers along your problem area for a few minutes, the phytochemicals in the cucumber cause the collagen in your skin to tighten, firming up the outer layer and reducing the visibility of cellulite. Works great on wrinkles too!

6. Want to avoid a hangover or terrible headache? Eat a few cucumber slices before going to bed and wake up refreshed and headache free. Cucumbers contain enough sugar, B vitamins and electrolytes to replenish essential nutrients the body lost, keeping everything in equilibrium, avoiding both a hangover and headache!

7. Looking to fight off that afternoon or evening snacking binge? Cucumbers have been used for centuries and often used by European trappers, traders and explores for quick meals to thwart off starvation.

8. Have an important meeting or job interview and you realize that you don't have enough time to polish your shoes? Rub a freshly cut cucumber over the shoe, its chemicals will provide a quick and durable shine that not only looks great but also repels water.

9. Out of WD 40 and need to fix a squeaky hinge? Take a cucumber slice and rub it along the problematic hinge, and voila, the squeak is gone!

10. Stressed out and don't have time for massage, facial or visit to the spa? Cut up an entire cucumber and place it in a boiling pot of water, the chemicals and nutrients from the cucumber with react with the boiling water and be released in the steam, creating a soothing, relaxing aroma that has been shown the reduce stress in new mothers and college students during final exams.

11. Just finish a business lunch and realize you don't have gum or mints? Take a slice of cucumber and press it to the roof of your mouth with your tongue for 30 seconds to eliminate bad breath, the phytochemcials will kill the bacteria in your mouth responsible for causing bad breath.

12. Looking for a 'green' way to clean your faucets, sinks or stainless steel? Take a slice of cucumber and rub it on the surface you want to clean, not only will it remove years of tarnish and bring back the shine, but is won't leave streaks and won't harm you fingers or fingernails while you clean.

13. Using a pen and made a mistake? Take the outside of the cucumber and slowly use it to erase the pen writing, also works great on crayons and markers that the kids have used to decorate the walls!!

Pass this along to everybody you know who is looking for better and safer ways to solve life's everyday problems.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Tomato pie

My favorite place for tomato pie is The Couch Tomato in Manayunk. But homemade is still much better.

. 1 packet yeast (I use Red Star brand)
. 1/2 cup lukewarm water
. 3 1/2 cups flour
. 1 teaspoon salt
. 2 teaspoons dry oregano (or any flavor of your choice, basil, cilantro...)
. 1 cup warm water
. 2 teaspoons olive oil to coat

1. Mix yeast with 1/2 cup of water, set a side.
2. In a large bowl mix flour, salt, and oregano well together.
3. Pour in water and yeast mixture.
4. Kneed until dough is not sticky to your hands.
5. Cover the dough, let rise for 1 hour. (You can let it rise slowly overnight by put it in the refrigerator.)
6. Brush baking pan with olive oil, roll dough flat onto the pan.

Tomato sauce:
. 1 tablespoon olive oil
. 1/2 teaspoon dry oregano
. 1 can 35 oz. crushed tomato
. 1 teaspoon salt
. 1 tablespoon maple syrup (or sugar)

In a 6 quart pot, add oil, when oil is hot, add oregano, add tomato, salt, and maple syrup. Cook uncovered for 30 minutes in medium heat until sauce is thicken, stir occasionally.

1. Preheat oven to 450 degree F.
2. Brush dough with olive oil.
3. Prick dough with fork.
4. Bake for 20 minutes.
5. Spread tomato sauce on top, bake 5 more minutes.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Spicy pastries (bánh cay)

These pastries are always deep fried. I toast them (or you can bake at 350 degree F) to make them healthier.

. 1 medium casava (yucca root)
. 1/4 teaspoon tumeric power
. 1/4 teaspoon paprika (optional)
. 1 teaspoon salt
. 3 teaspoon maple syrup (or sugar)
. 1 teaspoon oil
. 2 tablespoons rice flour
. 1 hot pepper, minced (or more to taste)

1. Peel the casava, split into 4 pieces length wise, remove the stringy thing in the middle, cubed.2. Grind casava in a food processor
3. Mix everything in a bowl, shap like an orange section or a thumb.
4. Arrange in a single layer on a greased baking toast pan, brush each piece with oil.
5. Set toaster oven to dark toast.
6. Toast 3 times (or more to taste), turn over each time.

Mid fall festival pastries (Taiwanese style)

I learned to make these pastries from the Gold Mountain Temple in San Francisco. After the Lunar New Year, if you have extra fruit candies (mứt), you can make these.

Makes 20 pastries:


Oil dough:
1/2 cup oil
1 cup all purpose flour
Mix oil with flour well until the dough is not sticky, don't need to kneed

Water dough:
1/2 cup water
1 cup all purpose flour
Mix water with flour well until the dough is not sticky, don't need to kneed

Cover both doughs with wet towels. Let rest for 1 hour.

. Fruit candies, a handful of each, winter melon, coconut, lotus seeds, tamarind, lemon, kumquat, tangerine candies...Put everything to a food processor to chop into fine pieces.
. Roasted nuts: a handful of each, walnuts, peanuts, almonds, cashews pumpkin seeds, sun flower seeds... Roughly chopped in a food processor
. Orange rind: peel an orange with a peeler to avoid the white part of the skin. Roughly chopped in a food processor
. Dry fruits: raisins, banana... Roughly chopped in a food processor
. 10 shiitake mushrooms, roughly chopped
. 2 tablespoons oil
. 1/2 cup sweet rice flour

Stir fry filling:
1. Add 2 tables spoon oil to a heated wok, add mushrooms stir fry for 1 minute, add orange rind stir fry for 1 minute, add the rest of the filling, one at a time, stir fry for 1 minute each. 2. Sprinkle sweet rice flour to bind everything together. Mix well until verything gets sticky.
3. Remove from heat, while the filling is still hot, use wax papper or aluminum papper to line your hand to make 20 balls. It is very hard to form a ball when the filling is cool, so do it quickly.

1. Form oil flour into a roll, cut into 20 pieces.
2. Do the same for water flour.
3. Kneed 1 piece of water flour flat, wrap it with 1 piece of oil flour.
4. Kneed flat, roll, kneed flat, roll again, and kneed flat again (to form multi layers).
5. Wrap with filling ball.
6. Repeat the last 3 steps for the rest of the dough.

1. Preheat oven at 350 degree F.
2. Bake 20 to 25 minutes.

Veggie pork skin (bì chay)

Can be served with broken rice (cơm tấm) or bánh mì bì chay.

. 1 jicama, shredded (in place of pork fat)
. 3 large pieces of fried tofu (or 1 packet of firm Nasoya tofu), shredded (in place of pork meat)

. 1/2 bunch of bean threads (in place of pork skin)
. 1/2 packet of ground roasted rice
. 1/3 teaspoon salt
. 1 teaspoon sugar (or maple syrup)
. 1 tablespoon canola oil

1. Stir fry jicama with oil, salt, sugar in high heat until cooked, about 5 minutes (jicama becomes transparent).

2. Part boil bean thread, let dry in a colander, cut into 2-inch string, mix with ground roasted rice.
3. Mix everything together, add 3 portions of sugar, 1 portion of salt to taste.

Broken rice with yoba on lemon grass sticks, stuffed yoba, yoba roll...

Broken rice with:

Yoba on lemon grass stick
Stuffed yoba
Yoba roll
Roasted eggplant and pepper

Served with lettuce, tomato,
pickled carrots and vegetarian fish sauce.

Yoba roll (chả lụa chay)

This is served in place of pork roll (cha lua chay).

Makes two rolls

1 pound frozen yoba (bean curd sheet, available at frozen section of Asian super market)

1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar (I use maple syrup)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon pepper corns
4 10x10 inch banana leaf

1. Wash yoba 3 times with hot water, use a cheese cloth to line a colander, put yoba in the colander, sprinkle salt over it, mix well, let it sit for 20 minutes.
2. Hold the end of the cheese cloth together to make a money bag with yoba inside, squeeze well to extract excess water from yoba.
3. Put yoba to a big bowl, run a knife though it a few times to roughly cut the yoba into smaller pieces. Add sugar, soy sauce, oil, pepper corns, mix well.
4. Divide yoba into 2 portions, put each portion into a plastic bag, tie with string or 4 rubber bands to make a roll (or stuff each portion well into a can with 2 ends opened to shape like a roll). Refigerate for at least 1 hour.
5. Remove yoba from the plastic bag or can, wrap it with 2 layers of banana leaf, tie well with a cotton string.
6. Steam in high heat for at least 45 minutes.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Yoba balls (bean curd sheet balls)

Can be served with rice noodle soup (instead of beef balls) or to make satay sticks.

Makes 10 balls:
1 layer of frozen bean curd sheet (available at the frozen section of the Asian super market)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar (I use maple syrup)

1/2 teaspoon olive oil

10 4x4 aluminum foils, 10 3x3 banana leaf to wrap

1. Wash the bean curd sheet in hot water 3 times. Squeeze well to extract excess water.
2. Cut into small pieces, mix well with salt.
3. Squeeze well to extract excess water again.
4. Divide into 10 portions.
5. Use 1 layer of aluminum foil lined with 1 layer of banana leaf to wrap tightly into a ball.
6. Steam in high heat for 30 minutes.

Seitan balls

Seitan balls are used in place of beef balls in rice noodle soup (pho chay).

. 1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
. 2 teaspoons nutritional yeast

. 1 tablespoon soy sauce
. 7 tablespoons water (1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon) or broth (the same broth for rice noodle soup can be used)

1. Mix soy sauce and broth together.

2. In a bowl, mix the dry ingredients together.

3. Pour the liquid over the dry ingredients.

4. Mix well, kneed with your hands for 2 minutes.

5. Shape seitan into a roll, let it rest for 15 minutes.

6. In a 4-pot, bring 2 quarts of water or broth (the same broth for rice noodle soup can be used) to a boil, reduce heat to low medium.

7. From 1 end the seitan roll, pull out a thin slice of seitan, as you pull, roll the slice to together. When it gets to size of a thumb, cut it off from the seitan roll. Fold the 2 ends together to make a ball. Drop the ball into the broth pot. (The broth should be just to the boiling point or the seitan will be hard, reduce the heat or add a little more water if the broth is over boiled.)

8. Repeat the above step for the rest of the seitan roll.

9. Simmer uncovered for about 2 hours or transfer to the slow cooker and cook on low overnight for about 6 hours.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Rice Noodle Soup (Phở Chay)

1 apple, quartered
1 pear, quartered
¼ cabbage, cut into big pieces
1 carrot, cut into big pieces
1 radish (white turnip), cut into big pieces
1 jicama, cut into big pieces
1 handful of soy beans
10 Shiitake mushrooms
½ ginger, crushed, roasted
5 cloves
10 star anises
2 fennel (seed)
1 cinnamon stick
20 whole black pepper corns

Combine the spices and roast until fragrant

Fill a large pot with water and add all of the ingredients, simmer for 2 hours. A slow cooker can be used at a low setting to cook overnight.

Strain, save the mushroom, and discard all vegetables and spices from broth. Slice and stir fry mushrooms to add to top of soup bowl.

Boil noodles according to instructions. While noodles are still hot, for every big bowl, add a handful of rice noodles, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon sugar. Ladle boiling both over noodles. Top with mushrooms.
A separate plate of bean sprouts, basils, cilantro, sliced hot pepper, lime wedge is served with the soup.
Seitan balls or Yoba balls can also be added to top.

Condiments are hoisin sauce and hot chili sauce.

Tofu curdle vermicelli soup (Bún riêu chay)

1 ½ quart plain soy milk
1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1/2 pound baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 pound tomatoes, cut into sections
2 carrots, sliced
5 broccoli flowers
3 slices ginger, finely chopped
1 ½ quart water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil

1. In a 6-quart pot, add canola oil, stir in ginger and sauté until brown. Add shiitake then baby bella mushrooms and stir fry until golden brown. Add sugar, salt, black pepper, stir fry until seasoning is absorbed by mushrooms. Add carrots then tomatoes, broccoli, stir fry each for 2 minutes. Add soy sauce for additional flavoring, if desired.
2. Add water to the broth and bring to a boil. Pour in the soy milk. The tofu should curdle and float to the top. The broth should be clear.
3.Add 2 parts of sugar and 1 part of salt to if needed for additional taste.
4. Serve with rice vermicelli over shredded cabbage, chopped basil, cilantro, mint leaves, green perilla (rau kinh giới), splitted water spinach (rau muống chẻ), and bean sprouts. Top with fried tofu, veggie ham, or stuffed tofu.

Stuffed bean curd roll

1 pound frozen bean curd skin
1 packet extra firm tofu, boiled, pressed to extract excess water, then mashed, I use the potato ricer to mash the tofu
1 cup shredded shiitake mushrooms
1 cup shredded black ear fungus
1 ½ tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon pepper corns or ground pepper
1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
2 tablespoons canola oil

1. Take 1 layer of bean curd skin, rinse and cut into 8 slices to wrap.
2. Wash the rest of bean curd skin, put it in a colander, sprinkle 1 table spoon of salt, mix well, squeeze the bean curd to get rid of excess water, cut into small pieces.
3. Heat up a pan, add oil, wait for the oil to get hot, add ginger, sauté until brown. Add shiitake mushrooms, stir fry until golden brown. Add fungus stir fry until dry. Add sugar, ½ table spoon of salt. Transfer to a large bowl.
4. Mix in bean curd, tofu, sesame oil, soy sauce. Divide into 8 portions.
5. Use plastic wrap to wrap each portion tightly into a roll, about 1 inch round, 8 inch long. Put in the refrigerator for more than 1 hour.

6. Unwrap each roll, wrap it again with bean curd skin.

7. Wrap each roll with banana leaves (since aluminum foil can release bad chemical when cooking, I now use banana leaves instead), steam for 30 minutes.

8. Unwrap the banana leaves. Can be served steamed just like that or deep fried.

Vegetarian fish sauce with apple juice

Two quarts of apple juice
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons salt
Minced hot pepper to taste

1. Boil apple juice with maple syrup, and salt until the amount of liquid is reduced in half.
2. Add pepper when served.

Mom's sweet and sour soy sauce

1 portion soy sauce
1 portion sugar
3 portions water
lime juice and minced hot pepper to taste.

Mix everything together. Done.

Vegetarian fish sauce with coco soda and caramel

1 can coco soda
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 to 1 lime juice
1 tablespoon sugar to make caramel
minced pepper to taste

1. Cook sugar in low heat until sugar melts and turns brown.
2. Mix everything together.

Vegetarian fish sauce with caramel

3 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon minced pepper

1. Make caramel by cooking sugar in low heat until sugar melts and turns brown.
2. Boil water and salt.
3. Pour salt water in caramel, let cool.
4. Add lime juice and pepper, mix well.

Vegetarian fish sauce with pineapple juice

1/2 of small pineapple
1 can of coconut water or water of 1 green coconut or just water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon minced hot pepper

1. Juice the pineapple, separate the pulp, use the juice only.
2. Mix pineapple juice with water, sugar, salt together.
3. Boil the mixer, let cool.
4. Add soy sauce and pepper, stir well.

Vegetarian fish sauce with coconut water

1 can of coconut water or water of 1 green coconut
1 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon minced hot pepper

1. Boil coconut water, let cool.
2. Mix in salt, sugar.
3. Mix in lime juice.
4. Mix in soy sauce and pepper, stir well.