Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Pork Jerky 自製豬肉乾

We went to BSJ’s house for New Year’s Eve party after dinner. Even though I was quite full from dinner at my in-laws’, I could not resist trying the homemade beef jerky at the party. I didn't know it could be done at home. Ho LOVES pork jerky, oh I have to try that some time! Since I couldn’t wait to ask the friend how she made them, I went on the internet to search for the recipe. Bless the technology, I found several recipes with photos! Reading from the comments posted, the successful rate is quite high. The instructions are not complicated either. Thinking it would be a good CNY presents for families this weekend, I gave it a try.  LOL, after giving up my exercise and sleeping time to make these, I realized the CNY eve dinner is the weekend after!

2nd batch
Ground pork 500g
Ham (minced) 100g
Sugar 85g (I reduced the sugar from original recipe)
Honey 1 big Tbsp
Fish Sauce (魚露) 2 Tbsp
Shaoxing Cooking Wine (紹興酒) 1 Tbsp
Vegetable Oil 1 Tbsp
White Pepper ½ Tsp (Optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 320F.
  2. Mix all ingredients in mixer for 2 mins.
  3. Put one big scoop of mixture on parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and roll out to 3-4mm thick.
  5. Put in centre of the oven for 15 mins.
  6. Cut the pork into squares with pizza cutter.
  7. Set oven to grill on Hi, put the baking sheet in for 3 – 3.5 mins.
  8. Turn the jerky over and grill for 3 – 3.5 mins again.
  9. The colour will darken after.
Depending on your oven, the grilling time may vary.

Before it went in the oven for the first time

I followed the original recipe to pan sear the first batch.  They got burnt very quickly.  The picture below shows the ones I had left.  I decided to use the oven grill method in the second batch and they came out just right. Each batch yields about 30 pieces of 2” x 2” squares.

First batch, some burnt marks, actually more on the reverse side of some
 Ho is very happy that he doesn’t need to spend $$$ to buy pork jerky at the stores anymore. I spent only about 1/4 of the money to get the same quantity.  The taste is very close to what’s being sold at stores. Now that we can make them at home, we can adjust the saltiness and sweetness according to our preference too.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Livie's Comment

Ho is very conscious on his look.  Every now and then he likes to change his look by growing his hair long or having a moustache or goatee, side burn, whatever you call it.  Recently he's growing the beard again.  I got so used to the ever changing look that I took it for granted.  Today at dinner time, Livie asked daddy a question...

Olivia: Daddy, when are you going to shave?
Ho: Why?  Some people may say it's cool.
Olivia: Some people may say it's itchy.

Of course we all know that Livie is the only one who would complain about the itchiness.  Ho loves his little girl so much that he shaved it all off his face the next day.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

French Baguette

Ever since Ho started working from home, he has more time to stay home. Recently he started to make dinner for us sometimes too. Me and our kids are happy enough to see daddy at dinner time, now he even cooks for us! That’s too good to be true. I remember the days when we could only have dinner with him once or twice in weeknights, maybe once in the weekends, plus he had to work during the day on weekends too. I really felt like a single mom at that time. Now I have my husband back.

Tonight Auntie D is coming over for dinner. Ho took the head chef role again. He made Carrot Butter Squash soup (from the can), Smoke Salmon Pizzettes (Food Network Chef Giada recipe), beef tenderloin with crispy prosciutto (French Food At Home recipe), and Avocado Salad with self created dressing. Livie tried to help by rolling out the pizza dough with me. I turned around to do some cleaning and when I went back to the counter, this was what I saw. Thanks for helping, Livie…

Since it was late when the food was ready, we were all so hungry that the food went in our stomach before I had a chance to take pictures. I did make the effort to take picture of my French baguette though. The steam from the freshly baked bread got me so excited but the camera couldn’t catch the steam in the photo at all.

Here's the recipe.  I have added a few more steps to produce a baguette with a crunchier crust:

Homemade Crusty French Baguette (Adapted from my favourite All Recipes site)


* 1 cup water
* 2 1/2 cups bread flour
* 1 tablespoon white sugar
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1 1/2 teaspoons quick rise yeast
* 1 egg white

  1. Place 1 cup water, bread flour, sugar, salt and yeast into mixer bowl and mix for 10 mins.
  2. Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a greased bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover, and let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes, or until doubled in bulk. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.
  3. Punch down dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll into a 16x12 inch rectangle. Cut dough in half, creating two 8x12 inch rectangles. Roll up each half of dough tightly, beginning at 12 inch side, pounding out any air bubbles as you go. Roll gently back and forth to taper end. Place 3 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Make deep diagonal slashes across loaves every 2 inches, or make one lengthwise slash on each loaf. Cover, and let rise in a warm place for 30 to 40 minutes, or until doubled in bulk.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) with an empty cake/pie pan at bottom rack.
  5. Put shaped dough on top of pizza stone.
  6. Brush egg white over tops of loaves and slide it on centre rack.
  7. Pour 1/4 cup of hot water into the empty cake pan and close oven door quickly. (Be careful with your hand and face, the steam will rise instantly)
  8. In process of baking, once the water in cake pan is dried up, add another 1/4 cup of hot water again or simply spray water in the oven.  If you choose to spray, you may need to spray again before the bread is ready.
  9. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown.
I forgot to brush the dough with egg white so they look more like bread stick, but the crust was very crispy already.

You can put the completely cooled baguettes in the freezer and reheat it in the oven at 350F for 5-7 minutes.  Fresh baguette in the morning!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Big Girl

Both Ho and I love music.  He plays a little piano but I don't.  Hence we both want our kids to take piano lessons.  After taking Adrian to Yamaha Music School group class for 2 years, he just could not sit still.  He liked the teacher a lot though.  Unfortunately it's not enough to keep him interested in keyboard lessons.  As we were waiting for Livie to be old enough to take piano lessons, she actually asked if she could learn violin instead.  We are glad that she has such a clear idea of what she wants to do, so she had her first violin class yesterday.  Even though she didn't even touch the violin in this first lesson, she sounded very excited.  We are excited for her too.

Tonight, Livie's lower front tooth fell out after dinner.  She told me, "I'm a big girl now."  Yes, she is.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Holiday Baking

Ho took a very nice picture of the cedar outside of our house
It’s been a busy holiday. From Dec 24 to Jan 2, we only had 2 days with no friends or family gathering. I also got stomach flu and started throwing up on New Year Day, then it carried on for 2 days, still felt the influx on day 3. What a way to start the year.

I meant to bake pound cakes for some friends but the baking time is too long. Luckily I found the cookies recipes which is versatile enough for me to make different flavours to put in boxes. The cookies need only 10-12 mins to bake, much more practical for me. Too bad I totally forgot to take pictures of the wrapped goodies. Oh well, I can always make them again.

I started off with ginger cookies for the kids’ teachers as Christmas gifts. Just like one of the parents said, “How many mugs does a teacher need?” Rather than giving something which might be completely useless to the teachers, homemade snacks will be a better choice. Besides, ginger cookies sound a lot more “Christmasy” to me.

I didn’t have time to make ginger bread man shape for the teachers because the dough was really soft. It would take me forever to keep the shape when transferring all cookies from the counter to the baking sheet. These were from the second batch I made for office potluck. See how they grew!

I also made chocolate chip walnut and cranberry almond cookies using another recipe. Jennifer suggested me to add oatmeal to the chocolate chip ones. Great idea!

Tons of cookies. I made enough cookies to fill 2 big containers like this for office potluck, friend’s potluck lunch, and gifts for friends. They were finished before the winter holidays were over and I had to make more for more gifts.

In the later batches, I also made fleur de sel, parmesan cheese, and cinnamon...
Of course I also did some pound cakes - vanilla, orange, walnut...
Plus Tony Wong's coconut cookies...
 and crusted yogurt banana bread...

Happy baking!