icejohn2: (myavatar)
IMG_0011It has been bitterly cold recently. It is windchill -25'F (-31'C) ouitside now! And it is only -8'F (-22'C) without wind even though it is so sunny! Come on, let's make it even colder! My, this winter is showing its power!

icejohn2: (fun)
It is Chinese new year today! This is the year of rabbit. After the blizzard dumping 5 feet (150 cm) of the snow on the ground here yesterday, it is bitterly cold today. The temperature drops to 0'F (-18'C) and windchill gets down to -15'F (-26'C). Like one of my on-line buddies told me, we would need lots of bunnies to stay warm!

It says people born in the Year of the Rabbit are articulate, talented, and ambitious. They are virtuous, reserved, and have excellent taste. So hope that 2011 will be a year with taste and no more bad economy!
icejohn2: (myavatar)
Today is Chinese New Year Even but we are still in the middle of big winter blizzard. The wind is 40 miles per hour (64 km per hour) and snows keeps coming down. We are under "civil danger emergency" in Wisconsin. All major highways, airports, schools and stores are all closed. The snow is already 5 feet (150 cm) high up to my chest outside and the wind and snow are still going.

icejohn2: (cake)
Nian GaoContinued the Bunny year Chinese new year goodies baking marathon, here comes the red bean year cake (Nian Gao) 年糕. This is another traditional popular Chinese New Year dessert.

It is mainly made of glutinous rice so it is actually gluten free. There are many different kinds of flavors of year cake. It can be sweet or savory. I always use my family's recipe to make this sweet brown sugar red bean flavor year cake.

Nian GaoIt is considered good luck to eat year cake during Chinese new year. The word 糕 (Gao) means "cake" is identical in sound to the word, 高 which means "high". Therefore, it is going to raise oneself higher in each coming year by eating year cake. The cake batter is mixed and put it in a big steamer to steam until it is done. Then, the cake will stay in the refrigerator for several days until it is a little bit dry and hard for cutting. We usually either eat it just the way it is (my Mom would definitely disgree about this way!) or dip it in flour/egg batter and deep fry it. It is good either way.
icejohn2: (cake)
It is so cold outside today again! It is only 4'F (-15'C) and windchill -25'F (-32'C) even though it is bright and sunny. Chinese new year is just around the corner (February 3) so it is time to make some Chines new year Fa Cake (Fa Gao 發糕). This year, I decide to make some changes instead of the tradition brown sugar flavor. I ended of making the chocolate and cherry cranberry flavors besides the usual brown sugar. The chocolate ones turns out so good that my local American friends just cannot have enough of them! My personal favorite actually is the cherry cranberry one. The dried cranberry just adds so much texture and different layers to the taste. And the red color is definitely good for Chinese new year. Now it is time to go to make the year cake...

p.s. Forgot to explain what Fa Cake is. It is a dessert usually made in Chinese New Fa means rise and expand in Chinese. It is very important to have the nice cracking on the top of the cake to make it look like a flower. It also means prospering or becoming rich. The bigger the crack is, the more fortunate your family will be in this coming year.

That's the reason why Fa cake is very popular in Chinese new year and is treated as a fortune cake. (Fa
icejohn2: (fun)
Happy new year! It has been snowed more this week. Two foxes decided to come to play around outside my office! I have never seen live foxes so close before and it was really cool! They were actually more orange even though people called them "red" foxes! Hope that everybody has a wonderful year 2011!
icejohn2: (cake)
Merry Christmas! All my Christmas cookies are gluten free. Here is a bonus cookie: Orange pecan cookie. This is actually my second favorite this year. This one has grange juice, orange zest and chopped pecans on the sugar cookie based dough. Very intense flavor.

There is actually another pecan sugar cookie made this year but it was all gone before I could take pictures! That's everything of the cookies this year. Wish you have a merry Christmas and happy new year!
icejohn2: (cake)
Happy Christmas Eve! Here is the champion cookie this year, "White Chocolate Cherry Cookies"! Shortbread kind of cookie. The perfect combination of cherry flavor and not too sweet white chocolate. I did not expect that the maraschino cherries would make such a nice tasty cookie but they did! Beautiful and great taste! One of the best cookies I have ever made!

Next one is the "Double Chocolate Mint Cookies". If you like girl scout mint cookie, this one is your heavenly gift since it is much better than girl scout one! 3rd place in this year's Christmas cookies. The wonderful chocolate based dough plus the semi-sweet chocolate bits in the cookie and super minty flavor make this one instantly crowd favor!
icejohn2: (cake)
Happy Christmas Eve's Eve! We are almost done with all holiday gluten free cookies showdown here! :) Number 9 is the "Cardamom Snaps". It is not only a new recipe but also a new spice that I would like to try. Cardamom usually is used in the Indian cooking. It has a fragrance between ginger and cinnamon. This cookie is a combination of ginger snaps and molasses cookies. It tastes very much like ginger snaps but with something different that you just cannot catch what it is. :)

Number 10 is " Lemon Ricotta Cookies". This one is adapted from the Foodnetwork Giada's recipe. It has such a strong lemon taste in cookie itself that I don't think the lemon glaze from the original recipe is necessary so I eliminate that. The ricotta cheese and the gluten free version of my rice flour mixture makes this cookie has the texture like pan cake actually. :) Very tasty but it seems to expand too much during the baking. Another one might need more work to make it perfect for the gluten free version.

icejohn2: (cake)
Good morning again! Snow finally stops and I am running out of butter, eggs and condensed milk to complete the rest of the cookies. Got to go shopping! It is never easy to adapt the usual recipes to gluten free but it is worth the efforts when the final cookies come out just right and nobody can tell the difference. Sometimes, the gluten free version is even better! Here are the next two Christmas cookies! Both are gluten free as well. The first one is the "Chocolate Scotcheroos". A new recipe I adapt from this year's local gas/energy company annual cookie book. It is basically an alternated version of rice crisp treats. Cook the sugar with corn syrup first to make the base syrup then add the peanut butter and rice crisp cereal. Pour, or rather say push since it is a super sticky mixture, into a 9x13 baking pan to let cool. Then, spread a layer of melted semi-sweet chocolate and butterscotch on the top and the "Scotcheroos" is born!

The next one is "Kitchen Sink Christmas Cookies". From the name, you can guess the original recipe is basically to throw all leftover ingredients from other baking/cooking tasks together to make this one. It has sugar, brown sugar, eggs, crisp rice cereal, flaked coconut, rolled oats, and toffee bits. It has lots of tasty ingredients but the result is really not what I want. Very bland to my taste. This is my least favorite within all 12 cookies I make this year. But to be fair, I never really like oatmeal cookies since I think they are very bland. It actually taste much better once the cookies chilled in refrigerator for a day. Again, some of my local Wisconsin friends love it very much and tell me that it is what the oatmeal cookie supposed to be. Aw, well, at least, somebody would eat them!


icejohn2: (Default)

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