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Cucumber coconut ice cream

The weather has finally been heating up in June in NorCal, as we have finally passed the yo-yo period between the low 70′s and the blazing low 90′s in the same week. As someone of Chinese background, I tend to cherish the coolness of cucumber during these hot times. However, also as an American, I tend to cherish the cooling feeling of delicious ice cream sliding down my throat.

As I stood there in the farmer’s market tent a few weekends ago, I decided to buy a huge 1 1/2 pound cucumber, giving me the opportunity to make a combination of these two ways to stay cool in summer. The farmer was especially proud of his cucumbers with tiny seeds, and I felt it fit to make ice cream from such a high-yield fruit.

Cucumber ice cream

Due to the high water content of the cucumber, I found that it was difficult to make the ice cream have a creamy texture versus an icy texture. If I salted the cucumbers beforehand, I would lose much of the cucumber flavor prior to blending. In the end, I chose not to wring the fruit of its water, but to simply serve the final ice cream product after allowing it to sit out for 30 minutes at room temperature to yield the best consistency.

Ingredients
1.5 lb cucumber
2 cups coconut milk
1/4 cup honey
4 egg yolks

Directions
(1) Add coconut milk to a pan and heat on medium over the stove. Add honey and incorporate for 3-5 minutes as the coconut milk simmers.
(2) Beat egg yolks in a bowl. Add some hot liquid into the bowl and stir. Do this 3-4 times until the egg yolks are well-incorporated into the liquid added without curdling or chunking.
(3) Add the egg yolk mixture to the rest of the liquid and stir. Stir constantly for about 10 minutes, until the mixture is as thick and viscous as pouring warm honey.
(4) Let the mixture cool and chill for about an hour.
(5) Cut the cucumber in half and scoop out the seeds. Cut into small pieces.
(6) Add the coconut milk mixture and the cucumbers together in a blender and blend until the cucumbers are finely chopped.
(7) Strain the mixture.
(8) Transfer mixture to an ice cream maker and allow to aerate/churn for 10-20 minutes, depending on desirability of thickness/airiness of the ice cream.
(9) Allow to sit in freezer overnight to allow flavors to incorporate.
(10) To make ice cream scoopable, leave out at room temperature at least 30 minutes before eating.

Enjoy!

Dai Dai

Arugula, fennel and Parmesan salad

Two years ago, I made a post on a sweet and savory arugula, fennel and apricot salad. Since I like to eat produce with the seasons, I wanted to try something with fennel before the bulbs became too tough and less sweet at the end of spring.

Hence the shaved fennel salad. I chose arugula to pair with the fennel again, as the harsh, peppery flavor of the arugula pairs extremely nicely with the strong licorice taste of the fennel. Instead of adding something sweet as last time, I used lemon juice and scattered pine nuts throughout the salad for contrast, along with some Parmesan for some sharp flavor. With some mild-tasting olive oil to marry all the flavors, everything tasted great in this savory version of the fennel-arugula salad.

Salad

The fennel bulb I used was approximately 1/3 of a pound. I like to also add the fronds to the salad to give it extra peppery flavor and Vitamin K.

As for the amount of olive oil, I tend to add a Tbsp or two until the salad is just coated enough. The cheese brings some flavor of fat to the dish, so I try not to go too crazy with the olive oil, no matter how tasty it is or how good it is for health.

Ingredients
6 oz arugula leaves
1 fennel bulb
2 Tbsp lemon juice
extra virgin olive oil and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp pine nuts
2 oz Parmesan cheese

Directions
(1) Cut off fennel fronds from the fennel, and slice the bulb thinly using a mandolin or knife. Chop a tablespoon or two of fronds and combine with the sliced fennel into a salad bowl.
(2) Add the arugula to the fennel. Add the lemon juice along with the olive oil and pepper to taste.
(3) Add pine nuts. Toss and serve immediately to prevent the salad from wilting. Top with Parmesan.

Bon Appetit!

Dai Dai

Easy pumpkin pudding

I’m always hard-pressed to find a decent, homemade dessert that is not too sweet, healthy, and ideally high in protein. Lately I have been having some tendon issues around my knee and wrist, so I have been beefing up all my recipes with some kind of gelatin, whether through soup bones or gelatin powder. Though I love making homemade sour gummies, where I pump up the lemon juice and barely add sugar, I was looking for a more “normal” recipe that incorporates gelatin.

My good internet acquaintance over at the Collagen Queen has been making a lot of delicious-looking gelatin-based recipes as of late. In one of the forums in which we participate, she was kind enough to share a pumpkin pudding recipe that requires no heating and stirring over the stove for long periods of time. I’ve incorporate a ton of my own edits to increase the protein content and decrease the fat content, but I have used her original gelatin + whole egg ratios, which makes the recipe the right texture for pudding.

Pumpkin

I actually made this all the way back at the New Years. There was a lot of canned pumpkin on sale, and I ended up buying cartons of organic pumpkin at Whole Foods for $2. More peace of mind on the packaging here.

Pudding

The pumpkin pudding turned out great. The taste is a bit bland because I like my desserts that way, and I could taste the pumpkin a lot more. I can understand if people would want to add more sweetener, but this definitely suits my taste.

Ingredients
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 whole eggs
3/4 cup hot water
2 Tbsp gelatin
2 Tbsp maple syrup or equivalent in sweetener
1 15-oz carton or can of pumpkin puree
1/3 lb egg whites, about 5 eggs worth of whites

Directions
(1) Combine cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and whole eggs into blender. Add hot water and blend immediately.
(2) Add gelatin to blender and allow to incorporate for 15 seconds. Add the maple syrup and allow to incorporate for 15 seconds. Then add the pumpkin puree and egg whites. Blend for another full minute.
(3) Pour the mixture into a large container or baking pan. Chill overnight before consumption.

Enjoy!

Dai Dai

Chinese winter melon soup with meatballs

I’ve previously mentioned a winter melon soup made with chicken or pork bones and meat, but this particular soup is made specifically with pork meatballs. Also rounding out the one-dish meal are mung bean noodles, which are clear and thin, absorb flavor quickly, and a great complement to the soup ingredients.

Winter melon soup

I actually bought the pork as a sirloin at Whole Foods and had them grind it into ground pork for me. Nothing like freshly ground meat versus the stuff in plastic wrap that have been sitting in a meat container for days!

Ingredients
1 lb winter melon
3 1/4″ slices ginger
2 cloves garlic
1 stalk green onion
3 sprigs cilantro
1/2 lb ground pork
1 egg
2 Tbsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp tapioca starch
100g dried mung bean noodles
salt, to taste

Directions
(1) Soak mung bean noodles in warm water.
(2) Cut winter melon into 2″ cubes. Prepare the broth by adding winter melon and 2 slices ginger to a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Continue to simmer on low heat.
(3) Meanwhile, mince the remaining slice of ginger, the garlic, green onion, and cilantro. Combine these ingredients in a bowl with the pork, egg, soy sauce, and tapioca starch. Add more starch if the mixture is too wet.
(4) Bring the soup back to a boil on high. Form 1.5″ meatballs with two spoons or hands and add to the soup. When all meatballs have been formed, continue to cook the soup on medium heat until the meatballs are done and floating, about 5-8 minutes.
(5) Add mung bean noodles to soup. Add salt as necessary. Garnish soup with additional pieces of green onion.

Enjoy!

Dai Dai

Radish egg flower soup

As an effort to come up with different soups these days, I’ve been experimenting around. The latest concoction I came up with was radish.

Radish has a pretty distinct flavor, so I thought it would be fun to use in a soup to see how it tasted. I used a chicken stock base and added radishes, including the greens on top. There was some tweaking to do in order to prevent the chicken flavor from overpowering the radish, but I think I have finally accomplished the flavor mix.

soup

I liked the color of this soup due to the vibrancy of the radishes adding a pink hue to the water. In this picture, I also threw in some soup regulars of mine which include eggs and green onion.

Ingredients
1/4 lb chicken bone cuts (I used chicken necks)
1 bunch radishes, about 10
1/8 tsp salt, or to taste
1 egg
2 stalks green onion

Directions
(1) Add the chicken to a large stock pot and add water to cover. Bring the water to a boil on high, and then simmer on medium-low for 10 minutes.
(2) Meanwhile, separate the radishes from the leaves and cut them in half. Roughly chop the leafy greens.
(3) Add the radishes to the soup and allow to simmer another 10 minutes. Add the greens and simmer a further 3-5 minutes.
(4) Salt the soup to taste.
(5) Beat egg in a bowl and slowly add to the soup while stirring the soup in a circular motion. Chop the green onion into small 1/4″ pieces and add to the soup.
(6) Serve hot!

Enjoy!

Dai Dai

Chinese winter melon soup

One of the best food memories I’ve had as a kid eating pork marrow in winter melon soup. Whenever my mom made winter melon soup, I would always request at least one piece of bone, for the lovely fatty, meaty treasure inside. The process would be pretty fun for long pieces of bone because I would have to stick my chopstick through and try to scoop the marrow out. Winter melon soup was one of the two soups that my mom would make with the pork bones, so I developed a positive outlook on winter melon overall.

Typically the soup is made with pork because the flavors of the winter melon and the pork marry much better than for any other meat. However, poultry works well in this soup also.

Winter melon soup

In this particular batch, I used turkey backs to flavor the soup base, and added some drumsticks for meat, since around this time of year, one can find amazing deals on Animal Welfare Rated 5 turkeys from Whole Foods. I also took the liberty of adding some konnyaku noodles to the bunch, as the noodles go well in meaty Asian soups.

Ingredients
1 lb pork soup bones
1 lb winter melon
3 large shiitake mushrooms
1 slice ginger
salt, to taste

Directions
(1) Add the pork to a large stock pot and add water to cover. Bring the water to a boil on high, and then simmer on medium-low for 10 minutes.
(2) Meanwhile, cut the winter melon into 2″ cubes. When finished cutting the vegetables, add the winter melon, shiitake mushrooms, ginger, and salt into the pot.
(3) Bring the soup back to a boil on high, and bring down to simmer on medium-low for another 30-40 minutes.

Enjoy!

Dai Dai

Chinese long beans

What to do with the leftover salty sauce from the Chinese chicken feet? Easy, just make long beans! Long beans become far tastier when soy sauce and meat drippings are added.

I am fortunate enough to catch these at the farmer’s market before they go out of season. Long beans usually come into harvest in the summer days, and then die off when winter hits. For some reason, they are pricier than other Asian vegetables, but I haven’t figured out why.

Long beans are a meatier version of a string bean. While string beans sometimes have a sweet crunch, long beans are mushier and starchier, making them an obvious pairing with heavy meat dishes.

Long beans

To prepare long beans, one needs to manually take off the end of each bean, where the stem is too tough to eat. This is the most annoying part of preparation. Once that is through, an easy chop and pan saute creates a dish in less than 10 minutes.

Ingredients
1 lb long beans
1 clove garlic, if desired
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp lard

Directions
(1) De-stem all the individual long beans. When finished, chop them into 2-inch long pieces. If using garlic, mince finely as well.
(2) Add lard to a pan on medium-high. When hot, add the long beans and stir fry for a few minutes, coating each piece as thoroughly as possible.
(3) Add soy sauce, and garlic if using, also spreading it to as much of the pieces as possible.
(4) Cover and bring down heat to a medium-low. Cook for another 7-10 minutes, depending on preference for withering and softness.
(5) Serve warm or cold, preferably with a meat dish.

Enjoy!

Dai Dai