Sunday, February 21

Fortune Cookies!

For some reason there are people in the world who think that fortune cookies are actually a legit Chinese recipe! I know, crazy. But, I actually learned how to make them this week, so now when people ask me if I can make them I can say yes!

Here is the recipe (slightly modified from Martha Stewart):

Ingredients

Makes 15

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 cup superfine sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • Zest of one lemon

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet liberally with cooking spray. Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine egg whites and sugar, and beat on medium speed, about 30 seconds. Add flour and salt, and beat until combined. Add butter, heavy cream, lemon zest, and almond extract, and beat until combined, about 30 seconds.
  3. Pour 1 tablespoon of batter onto half of the baking sheet, and spread with the back of a spoon into a thin 5-inch circle; repeat on the other half of the sheet. Bake until the edges of the cookies turn golden brown, about 5 minutes.
  4. Transfer baking sheet to a heat-resistant surface. Working as quickly as possible, slide a spatula under one of the cookies. Lift it up, and place it on a clean kitchen towel. Using your fingers, fold the cookie in half, pinching the top together to form a loose semicircle. Hold the cookie with your index fingers inserted at each open end, and slide your thumbs together along the bottom line. Press into the center of the cookie while bending the two open ends together and down to form the shape of a fortune cookie. This whole process should take about 10 seconds. Once the cookie hardens, which begins to happen almost immediately, you cannot fold it. Place the fortune cookie on the kitchen towel to cool, and shape the second cookie. Repeat until all the batter is used up. To speed up the process, bake four cookies at a time, staggering two cookie sheets by 4 minutes to give you time to shape. To avoid wasting batter, practice folding with a circle of paper first.
  5. Write your message on a long strip of paper. Thread the fortune through the cookie when it has cooled.

Now, there are a few important things to take into consideration if you try to make these (which I would recommend since they are tasty, unlike store-bought fortune cookies).

#1. They stick. A lot. If you happen to own a Silpat I would highly recommend using it. And still grease it. Make sure you grease between every batch.

#2. Make sure you spread them really thin! Also, in a circular shape, because they don’t really thin out and become circular like some cookies. So you have to put them on the pan in the exact shape you want them.

#3. Don’t make more than 2 on a sheet your first time so you can get a feel for when you can mold them!

Saturday, February 20

“When I try to sing you say I'm off key; Why can't you see how much this hurts me” ~ Frank Sinatra (Desafinado)

 

Recently I cam across Michael Buble’s fan site. . .  and was appalled to see numerous discussions on his fan forums from fans who think he is better than Sinatra!

Now, before people freak out, I think Michael Buble is good (well, at least not terrible). His songs that are not covers(though they are few) I quite like, and given the fact that at this point in time I don’t have to option to see Sinatra live in concert, I would probably go see him.

However, Michael Buble does not even begin to compare with Frank Sinatra. The only reason people bother to try and compare them is because he is obviously imitating Sinatra. And really, you fans who think he is better, I’m sure Michael himself would not agree with you. He himself is a huge Sinatra fan, and if it weren’t for Sinatra, he probably wouldn’t even have a career! Here is what he has to say about Sinatra:

Q: How big of a Sinatra fan are you?

A: One of the biggest, with a true understanding as a vocalist of how magnificent he was. . . .Basically, God kissed this man's throat.

Q: What did you learn from him?

A: A lot of technique, to be honest with you -- breath control, singing on vowels. There's some beautiful sounds that he makes, with the way he drops his epiglottis and moves his mouth. (the rest of the interview can be found here)

Of course, the fact that he himself is a fan doesn’t really prove that he is not better, so I’ll give you a few reasons why Sinatra’s nickname was The Voice, and why Michael Buble will never be able to come close.

First of all, like I said, Michael Buble is merely imitating Sinatra. He’s got a decent voice, but it doesn’t have the beautiful smooth quality of Sinatra’s. Also, when he is trying to shake things up, you can tell he is trying. Sinatra naturally belted out all the tricks and phrases that Michael has to practice for. I guess the best thing to do would be to let you see for yourself (because oddly enough, many of these people who make the claims, have never even sat down to actually listen to Sinatra!) Just listen to the voices, don’t let the video distract you. (and, of course Buble’s video sound quality will be a little better since he’s newer, but even so there is no comparison)

Now, if that didn’t convince you (although I can’t really see how it couldn’t) let me give you some quotes from some other people:

“People who understand music hear sounds that no one else makes when Sinatra sings.”     ~ Walter Cronkite

“Let’s face it – Sinatra is a king.” ~ Bing Crosby

“Frank Sinatra’s voice expresses more eloquence than I can ever say in mere words.”           ~ Billy Joel

"One of Sinatra's favorite toasts to make with glass in hand was, 'May you live to be 100 and may the last voice you hear be mine.'  The master is gone but his voice will live forever." ~Tony Bennett

"He was the epitome of what singing is all about, beautiful sounds, smooth as silk, effortless, impeccable phrasing, stylish, intelligent and full of heart." ~ Barbara Streisand

However, I think my favorite quote is from this article, which says:

“Every male singer of ballads and swing after Frank Sinatra, including Michael Bublé, will always be in that shadow. There will never be another Sinatra.”

That would probably be a good note to end up on, but there is one last thing I want to mention . . . how can girls think this

is cute when compared to this

  ??

Seriously girls, get a clue.

Monday, February 15

“An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.” ~ Bill Vaughn

 

It’s the year of the Tiger! Hurray! My year! I wonder if anything lucky will happen to me this year? The last time it was my year was in 1998 . . . can’t really remember what we were doing that year. I think that was the year we moved from Taiwan to Orem, Utah. . . I guess in a way that was lucky.

Anyways, to celebrate, we had a little Chinese New Year shindig. A bunch of my friends came over, including some of my cousins. We decided this year to try more traditional foods, which I think freaked out some people! Haha.

Here we are eating our “fire pot” dinner:

The crazy girls:

Everyone at the party born the year of the Tiger:

My friend Sharon got dressed up really nicely in a traditional qipao, and then we realized it looked quite a bit like my mom’s wedding dress, so I put it on and we took some pictures!

All in all, a fun party! Happy New Year!

新年快乐 ! 恭喜发财 !

Wednesday, February 3

Mediterranean Chicken with Persian Style Rice

This month I've been taking a Mediterranean cooking class. This meal is so delicious! The recipe is by our teacher, Chef Hal.

Mediterranean Chicken

Ingredients:
  • 2 lbs. Raw Chicken Breasts, cut into bite size cubes
  • 1 15 oz. can of Garbanzo Beans
  • 1 medium Red Onion (sliced)
  • 4 oz. Capers
  • 4 Roma Tomatoes (coarsely chopped)
  • 6 oz. marinated Artichoke Hearts (drained and chopped)
  • 3 Garlic Cloves (diced)
  • 1 Lime (juiced)
  • 4 oz. Kalamata Olives
  • 3 oz. Feta Cheese (crumbled)
  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. Cumin
  • 1 tsp. Tumeric
  • 1 tsp. Nutmeg
  • Olive Oil (about 1/4 cup)
Heat up a deep, large skillet. Heat up olive oil and saute garlic. Add chicken until it is browned. Add the onions first and then add all the rest of the ingredients. Let simmer for about 20 minutes, basting and stirring occasionally.

Persian Style Rice

Ingredients:
  • 1 tsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 3/4 cup Chicken Broth
  • 1 1/2 cup Basmati or Jasmine Rice
  • 1/3 cup Almonds (slivered, roasted, and salted)
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
In a 2 qt. pot, add oil and heat for 1 minute. Add the rice and stir to coat. Stir occasionally and allow a few kernels to brown. Pour in broth, bring to a boil, and then lower heat to warm and cover. Allow to cook about 20 minutes, until there is no moisture on the bottom. Mix in almonds and cranberries and serve!

The rice is especially delicious, so even if you don't make it with the chicken, you should really make the rice sometime!