Light Yet Sophisticated And Delicious Mango Puddings

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INTRODUCTION

I remembered I first have my mango pudding when I stayed in Hong Kong in 1995. It was rather popular be it in the hotel restaurants or in the fast food chains. For commercially packed mango puddings, it can be easily bought in the supermarkets. The dessert is light and can be served with a variety of regional fresh fruits. It is especially soothing and comforting after a heavy meal of oily or spicy foods. I loved its rich and creamy texture.

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MANGO PUDDINGS DEFINED

As per Wikipedia:

“Mango pudding is a Chinese dessert usually served cold. It is very popular in Hong Kong, where pudding is eaten as a traditional British food. Mango pudding originated in India and the recipe was introduced from the British in the 19th century. There is very little variation between the regional mango pudding’s preparation. The dessert is also found in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Macau and is often served as dim sum in Chinese restaurants.” (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mango_pudding)

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Make 6 desserts cups

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  • 200 ml of coconut milks

  • 200 ml of full cream evaporated milks

  • 250 ml of fresh milks

  • 1 egg yolk

  • 150 grams of sugar

  • 1 large mango (pitted and pureed)

  • 9 gelatine sheets (about 1.5 tablespoon gelatine powder)

As for the liquids, you can change between coconut milks, evaporated milks and fresh milks  but ensure that the total volumes add up to 750 ml. This means that you can use 750 ml of fresh coconut milks if you prefer. I usually like to dilute my coconut milk as I do not want the dessert to be overly creamy and for health conscious reasons.

Note that the colour of the final mango puddings will vary depends on the types of mango that you have. If evaporated milk were added, the colour will be creamy colour.

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

Preparing the mango purees

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  • De-skin and pitted (stoned) one large mango. Put the mango flesh in a food processor, blend it until puree form and set aside for later use.

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Preparing the puddings

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  • In a sauce pan, place all the liquids and sugar and heat it under medium heat until it boils. Once boiled, turn to lowest heat available.

  • Soak your gelatine sheets for 1 minutes and place the sheets into the sauce pan. Keep stirring until all the gelatine are dissolved. Off the heat but put on top of the stove to minimize the heat loss.

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  • In a big mixing bowl, use a whisk to whisk you egg yolk until light. Add the mango puree and whisk until well mixed. Sift the hot milk onto the mango puree and stir until well mixed.

  • Spoon the mixture into lightly oil pudding moulds or dessert cups and leave to cool. Chill the mango puddings in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours (or until set), preferably overnight.

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CONCLUSION

Easy to do and tasty desserts. Classic yet sophisticated. You can serve with fresh fruits or on its own. Additions of extra evaporated milks will make it creamier. Best to present to your guest after a heavy, oily and spicy meal.

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Hope you like the post today. Cheers.

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How About An Eggless, Butter Less, Milk Less Chocolate Almond Cup Cakes?

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UPDATED POST ON 5-11-2014

I will include in this post another recipe that I have developed this morning, it is gluten free, dairy free, egg less and fatless. It is a rather healthy moist and aromatic snack.  I hope this post will benefit those who are on a certain diet.

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It is the same recipe for both cookies and cupcakes. For cookies just make it in smaller size and bake slightly longer.. It can be crispy or chewy. It will not be as crispy as those using flour.

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Taste wise is satisfactory. You can imagine taking some almond meal, add some cocoa powder, water and sugar.. It is definitely acceptable to most. Please scroll down for the second recipe.

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INTRODUCTION

Seriously, when I looked at the recipe, I was curious how it would turn out to be. When I prepared the batter and baking, I am even more doubtful about its outcome.. I did not have any picture to compare and I did not know whether what I have prepared and baked was correct or not. Not until I took the first bite this morning that I am confident to issue this post…

This is an eggless, butter less and milk less cup cake that I have adapted from a 2003 recipe. I have printed out this recipe as early as year 2005 when I just started to have interest in doing some baking. Then, I have been cracking my head to look for recipes that were suitable for niche markets like health conscious people or people that are less fortunate like diabetes . While flipping my recipe file yesterday, I saw this piece of printed paper and I thought I might wanted to give it a try.

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While I am writing this post, I try searching this recipe in All Recipes Cake Recipes website, I am rather happy that the recipe is still there but with no picture, that proves that it is a very old recipe. The recipe was submitted by Ms. Kathy Thurston and some body named Ms. Bernadette Beaupre had gave some explanation of this cake:

“This cake comes in handy when all you have left in the cupboard is the tin soups just before shopping day. It really was a treat served warm when we came in from the cold. And it was c-o-l-l-l-d-d-d, North of 53′. Sprinkle brown sugar or dust confectioner’s sugar over the top.” — Bernadette Beaupre (Source: All Recipes Cake Recipes website,)

Since it is an eggless, butter less and milk less, what should be the structure liked. If you looked at the recipe in detail in later part of the post, you will note that there are some shortening and water. Butter less can be substituted with cooking oil or vegetable shortening (as in this recipe) and milk less can be substituted with any liquids (be it eggs or water). Therefore, the crucial element that determine the outcome of the cup cake will be eggs.

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Eggs have the role of supporting the structure of the cup cake or in general any baked products. They are binder which help to hold the ingredients together. In addition, it contributed to the liquid component in a cake recipe. Therefore, it is expected that without eggs, the cake will be dense and the rising of the cake will depend entirely with the leavening agents such as baking powder and baking soda. 

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I am worry about whether the dense cake will be dry and difficult to swallow. The conclusion is not, as the recipe have minimal vegetable shortenings and some liquids which is adequate to make the cake moist.

In this recipe, I have increased the amount of water, addition of cocoa powder and some almonds chunks. The final baked products were well beyond my expectations and I concurred it was some form of good snacks. As I was experimenting with this recipe, I have reduced the volumes and managed to make 4 small cup cakes. As with any other cakes, serving with additional sauces and whipped cream will heighten the palate to another level.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

Recipes adapted from: Eggless, Butter less and Milk less Recipe by Kathy Thurston (make 8 cup cakes)

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  • 2 cups plain four

  • 1 cup white sugar

  • 1 cup almond chunks

  • 2 cups water

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening

  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degree Celsius and get ready some cup cake moulds.

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  • In a sauce pan under medium heat, bring  the vegetable shortenings, water and sugar to boil and continue boiling for about 2 minutes.

  • Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda together into the liquid.

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  • Use a spatula to stir the batter until it is well mixed.

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  • Stir in the almond chunks and ensure it is well mixed.

  • Scoop into the paper cups for cup cakes and baked in the oven for about 20 minutes or when the skewer inserted come out clean.

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CONCLUSION

This is a rather unusual cake. So who should prepare this? In fact this cake is very suitable for people who are vegetarian in accordance with Buddhist principles.

In my circle of friends, I have a few friends who are vegetarians. However, though all are  vegetarians, there are certain ingredients that fell into “grey area” and subject to arguments.

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One of the ingredients is eggs. Some of my vegetarian friends do not eat eggs as they believed there may be an embryo attached to the eggs. However, other Buddhist vegetarians believed that current eggs are commercially “produced”, therefore , it is impossible to have any embryos in the eggs.  Even if you hatch the eggs, no chicks will be born,

Another two special ingredients are two diary products, milks and butters. Some vegetarian will not touch any food “produced” by an animals, therefore milks and butters were excluded in their diets. Whereas some choose to believe that as there is no need to kill a cow to get milks and butters, therefore, these can be included in the vegetarian diets.

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These belies have an impact in pastry terms. Every year, when I baked my pineapple tarts for my relatives and friends, I will have to bake two types, the normal with milk, eggs and butter and another version, which is rather hard to prepare that is eggless, milk less and butter less! Of course the onus will lie on me to find relevant substitute for the ingredients.

Hope you like this rather strange post today. But, I have to admit that looking at the picture, you may not be convinced until you take a bite of it. Have a nice day and cheers.

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RECIPE 2 – GLUTEN FREE, DAIRY FREE, EGG LESS AND FATLESS CHOCOLATE CUPCAKE AND COOKIES

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

  • 1 cup of almond meal or almond flour
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

  • Pre-heat the oven to 160 degree Celsius
  • Mix all the ingredients above until well combined
  • Transfer to cup cakes cup .
  • Baked in the pre-heated oven at 160 degree Celsius for about 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean

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  • For cookies, add about 1/8 teaspoon of baking powder to the batter, bake at 160 degree Celsius for about 20 minutes. Let it sit in the tray for 5 minutes before transfer to the rack for cooling. If you want it to be crispier, can extend baking time by another 5-10 minutes.

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  • For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX (updated as at 15 October 2014)  here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit the blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE to keep abreast of my future posts.  

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Is Pavlova Originated From Australia, Russia or New Zealand?–Strawberry and Blueberry Pavlova

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INTRODUCTION

Yesterday is really a busy day for me. I have been making mayonnaise, baking pizza and this Pavlova. By the time  I have to take picture of this Pavlova, I was feeling extremely tired and after I ate one slice and kept 3 slices for other families members, I gave away the rest to my neighbour who were having some sort of house gathering. I hoped I have adequate pictures to share with readers.

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Pavlova actually sounds familiar to me. Just like Vladimir, Sergei, Liana and Nathasia, the name sounds so Russian. I have spent some times in Russian before and one of my ex-colleagues do carry the name Pavlova. In fact, I do not know it is the name of one of the famous desserts until very recently when I did a read up on meringue, macaroons and other egg whites based pastry items.

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WHAT IS PAVLOVA?

Per Wikipedia:

Pavlova is a meringue-based dessert named after the Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova. It is a meringue dessert with a crisp crust and soft, light inside.

The dessert is believed to have been created in honour of the dancer either during or after one of her tours to Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s. The nationality of its creator has been a source of argument between the two nations for many years, but formal research indicates New Zealand as the source.

The dessert is a popular dish and an important part of the national cuisine of both countries, and with its simple recipe, is frequently served during celebratory and holiday meals. It is a dessert most identified with the summer time, but is eaten all year round in many Australian and New Zealand homes.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pavlova_(food))

Meringue based dessert will mean this dessert only utilizes egg whites and some sugar. It is not really a common dessert in Singapore and Malaysia. The challenge is to prepare a Pavlova that had a crispy outside of soft cotton liked inside. Preparation is not really that tough but patience is needed in the baking of this simple meringue.

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WHAT IS NEEDED

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  • 4 egg whites (at room temperature)

  • 1 1/4 cups of icing sugar or castor sugar

  • 2 teaspoon of potatoes starch/corn starch

  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

  • Fresh fruits of your choice. In this illustration, I have used fresh strawberry and blueberry.

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Note:

  • The egg whites have to be at room temperature. Colder egg whites are more difficult to beat to peak condition.

  • I have substituted the castor sugar with icing sugar as it will be easier for it to dissolve in the egg whites. If it is difficult for you to get icing sugar, just blend the castor sugar using a food processor.

  • Usually, corn starch is used. However, as I did not have corn starch with me, I have used potatoes starch. By the same logic, sweet potatoes starch and tapioca starch can also be used. What is needed is a small quantity of flour that is light and smooth to help holding the Pavlova structure.


STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • In a baking tray. have a piece of baking/parchment paper. Use a 8” round baking tin and draw a big circle on the baking sheet. Set aside for later use.

  • In a mixing bowl, Add egg white and beat until soft peak form. Add in icing sugar spoon by spoon and continue to beat until the egg white is thick and glossy.

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  • To check if all sugars have been dissolved, rub a bit of the beaten egg whites (meringues) between the thumb and index fingers. If it is smooth, it means that the sugars have been dissolved. If it feels sandy, it means that the sugar has yet to be dissolved. Continue beating for another 1-2 minutes and test again.

  • Add in vanilla essence and continue beating until it is well mixed.

  • Off the machine if the meringue is glossy and in its stiff peak form. Stiff peak form means when you hold up the beater, the meringue can point upwards as shown in picture number 4.

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  • Take out the mixing bowl. Add/sprinkled the lemon juices. Sift in the potatoes/corn flours.

  • Use a spatula to fold in the flour and lemon juice quickly. Handle lightly until all the lemon juice and flour are well mixed.

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  • Place the meringue on top of the baking paper within the circle drawn. Smoothing the edges.

  • Baked in the oven at low temperature of 130 degree Celsius for about 60-90 minutes or until the outer crust are dry and pale cream colour.

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  • IMPORTANT: Leave the Pavlova inside the oven with the door ajar and let it cool inside the oven until it is completely cool. It is generally okay if the middle part of the Pavlova collapsed as we will be decorating with whipped cream.

  • PRIOR TO SERVING, beat about 200 ml of whipping cream until top peak and placed on top of the Pavlova. Place your fresh fruits on top of the Pavlova.

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CONCLUSION

Pavlova is good to be served as a dessert. It’s sweet crusty tops and sides goes well with most fruits. One can also consider using fruits such as Kiwi and mangos. The Pavlova can be prepared in advance and keep for 3-4 days in an air tight container. Of course, the size of Pavlova have to be reduced accordingly for it to store in the container. It can also be made into a one bite size.

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If you are health conscious, you can substitute the whipped cream to low fat whipped cream and slightly reduce the amount of icing sugar used. Remember whipped cream and fruit toppings shall only be used prior to serving as the whipped cream and fruit juices will make the meringue soggy if not consume on time.

Hope you like the post today and have a nice day. Cheers.

newmarvelousmondays-button 9VwhltV

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How I Wish This World Is As Colourful As A Rainbow–Cranberries Raisins Rainbow Loaf

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INTRODUCTION

Guaishushu told himself, once in a while playing with colouring is okay since he did not have a chance to colour since after schooling.

Two months ago, he “accidentally’ brought a full set of colouring intended for icing decoration for about SGD 30 and he thought that it’s only SGD3. By hook and by crook, he wanted to use up some of his colouring and he knew that the only colour that he really needed and always used is the red colour for the preparation of red eggs during his kids’ Lunar calendar birthday celebration. Besides making the red eggs, he really don’t know what to do with these colourings!

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One day, when he was browsing his Flipboard application in iPhone, he saw some rainbow loaf which is extremely beautiful but he is hesitant whether or not he should proceed to prepare this since it will need a lot of colourings.

Though it is generally not encouraged to consume too much food with colouring, but there should be government regulations that governed the import of permitted food colourings. If it is hazardous to health, he shouldn’t be able to get it in this “efficiently administered” country, Singapore. He searched the manufacturer Wilton LLC, apparently, it is an USA well established company set up in 1929. He told himself he is just a commoner, if this company had been established for so many years, their products must have been used by many people in the world and he should not casting doubt on its product reliability! In this thinking process, he gradually convinced himself that it is acceptable for him to prepare the bread!

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He knew that if he bake the bread, he will have nothing to worry about the “marketability” of his rainbow loaf as his kids will definitely fight for the bread. While he was struggling to make a decision, he certainly thought of a blog “Bake for Happy Kids” by Ms. Zoe. Her blog title is correct, he should bake to make his kids happy!

This post is about rainbow raisin and cranberry loaf. Guaishushu aims are to share about the making of rainbow loaf and raisin loaf. Therefore if readers are not fond of making the rainbow loaf, he can just make the raisin loaf instead.



WHAT IS REQUIRED

This recipe was adopted from the Sarawak buns recipe here and some of the picture are in the above mentioned post.

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  • 360 g of bread flour (you can substitute 10 g of bread flour with milk powder, in that case you need only 350 g of bread flour)

  • 70 g of beaten egg

  • 60 g of sugar

  • 40 g of butter – soften

  • 90 g of tangzhong (refer below)

  • 110 ml of fresh milk

  • 11 g of instant dry yeast ( 1 package)

  • 7 different types of colour gel or colouring (refer below)

  • 100 g of raisins and/or cranberry soaked in water/rum.

  • Pinches of salt

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THE PROCESS OF MAKING RAISIN AND CRANBERRY RAINBOW LOAF

This illustration will use the Tangzhong method of bread making and it involved 4 stages in the following orders:

Part 1 – Making the Tanzhong (Water Roux)

Part 2 – Preparing and Colouring the Dough for the 1st Proofing

Part 3 – Wrapping of Cranberries and Raisins and 2nd Proofing

Part 4 – The Baking Process



Part 1 – Making the Tanzhong (Water Roux)

PLEASE REFER TO THIS POST for the making of Tanzhong and reasons and history of Tanzhong.



Part 2 – Preparing and Colouring the Dough for the 1st Proofing

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  • Mix all ingredients except softened butter and beat at slow speed for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the softened butter and continue kneading at medium high-speed for about 20-30 minutes or when the dough did not stick to the wall of your mixing bowl and do not break when you pull the dough.

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  • In a flat surface dusted with normal or bread flour, take out the dough from the mixing bowl and slightly knead it using hand for 1-2 minutes and shape it into a ball.
  • Weigh the ball and divide into 7 equal portions.

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  • Take one dough and place some colour gel and knead until all the colour are even. Keep in a lightly greased bowl and covered with lightly greased cling wrap to prevent moisture loss.
  • Do the same for the remaining 6 dough with your desired colours.
  • Leave it to proof until almost double in size. This should be about 30-45 minutes depending on the day’s weather.

Colour Selection

For this pictorial illustration, the colours that I have selected was in this order (from left to right and eventually from the top level to the bottom level):

Lemon YellowGolden yellowPink”No-taste” RedKelly GreenRoyal BlueViolet

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Part 3 – Wrapping of Cranberries and Raisins and 2nd Proofing

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  • Lightly grease a loaf tin with a cover.

  • Get ready a small bowl of water and the raisins and/or cranberries to be wrapped in the dough.

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  • Start with the lowest layer, take out the violet dough and use a roller to roll into roughly the size of the loaf tin.

  • Brush slightly with some water on the surface and place your raisins/cranberries.

  • Get the royal blue dough (second bottom layer) and use the roller to roll into roughly the size of the loaf tin.

  • Place the royal blue dough on top of the violet dough. Press the sides and ensure that the royal blue dough and the violet dough stick together.

  • Brush slightly with some water on the surface and place some raisins and/or cranberries.

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  • Get the Kelly green dough (third bottom layer) and use the roller to roll into roughly the size of the loaf tin.

  • Place the Kelly green dough on top of the royal blue dough. Press the sides and ensure that the Kelly green dough and the royal blue dough stick together on the sides.

  • Repeat the same for all the other layers and finished with the lemon yellow dough on the top.


Part 4 – The Baking Process

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  • Place the dough into the lightly greased loaf tin and let it proof until it is double in size. How long it will take depend very much on the weather and today, it took me another 45 minutes to reach the desired size I want.

  • Set the oven temperature to 200 degree Celsius

  • When the second proofing is done, i.e when the dough have double the size, bake in the oven for 30 –45 minutes..

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  • At about 35 minutes or when you start to smell the aroma of the bread, use an oven thermometer and insert into the bread and see if the temperature inside the loaf is more than 90 degrees Celsius. If it is less than 90 degrees Celsius, your bread will not be cooked and it is likely that when you take out the thermometer, there will be some wet dough stick with your thermometer. In this case, continue baking until when you inserted again the oven thermometer, the thermometer shows at least 90 degrees Celsius. If you find that the top starts to turn brownish, you can lower the temperature by 10 degree Celsius. General rule of thumb is that if you are unsure, rather bake slightly longer than under cooked.

  • If you don’t have an oven thermometer, one way of testing is after about 45 minutes (which is a reasonable timing for this size of loaf), take out the loaf from the loaf tin and try to use your finger to knock the bottom of the loaf. If it is a hollow sound, your loaf is cooked, otherwise, the loaf is uncooked. Put it back into the loaf tin and continue baking for another 10-15 minutes until you are certain that the dough is cooked. Again, if the top layer has signs of getting burnt, lower the temperature slightly.

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Note that the LOAF IS NOT BURNT. The dark brown color is the color of the violet dough on the side of the loaf.

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CONCLUSION

While too much food colouring is not advisable, I choose to believe the Government’s stand on permitted food colouring. As long as consumption is not too often, such colouring shall not post a/any serious health hazard to our body.

While I am making this loaf, the kids were schooling. When they were back, I asked them to close their eyes and show it to them, “wow” are their reactions! They can’t believe that I am baking this loaf. They have requested to eat a piece of the bread but rejected by me because dinner is to start in 10 minutes time. In their mind, the loaf will definitely much tastier! Once in a while, why not bake your kids something “extraordinary” and joined them for a rainbow breakfast! Trust me, it will definitely a “colourful” and “fruitful” breakfast!

Hope you like this post on Cranberries and Raisins Rainbow Loaf. Have a nice day ahead and cheers.

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I am submitting this to Welcome To All My Bloggy Friends and #Recipeoftheweek

8646468202_0880f459d1   Link up your recipe of the week

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Don’t Sandwich Me, I Can’t Breathe … Baked Hasselback Potatoes With Bacon And Mozzarella Cheeses..

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INTRODUCTION

I remembered that  immediately when I read the recipe Easy Bacon Potatoes published by Ms. Paula Jones’s,  I immediately shared in my Google Plus timeline and promised wanted to try out the recipe.

Yesterday, when I needed to prepare a lunch in a rush, I suddenly thought of this recipe but was unable to locate it. I searched high and low but in vain.

Therefore, based on my recollections, I just “anyhow” put together bacon and potatoes and this is what I have prepared.

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Taste is superb but sizes and some of the ingredients were totally different from Ms. Paula Jones recipes from www.callmepmc.com. Hers’ definitely look more appetizing but too sad, I only managed to find out the recipe when I am searching to credit her recipe while writing this report.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED?

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  • 10 small washed baby potatoes

  • 4 thin pieces of bacon cut into small rectangular shape

  • 1 teaspoon of general Italian herbs for Italian cooking (optional)

  • 1 tablespoon of soft butter

  • 1 teaspoon of salts

  • 1 cup full of mozzarella or cheddar cheese or parmesan cheese

  • 2 large tablespoons of mayonnaise or sour cream (optional)

  • 2 slices of breakfast cheese (optional)

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Wash your baby potatoes. Slightly cut off one side so that the potato can stand on its own.

  • Use a sharp knife to slice open the potato with about 0.5 cm thick towards the direction of the bottom but do not slice through.

  • Rub with salt, butter and Italian herbs (optional). Set aside for next steps.

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  • Slice the bacons into thin strips and place it in between the spaces between the cut potatoes.

  • Place the potatoes in low casserole dish or baking tin.

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  • Baked in the oven at 180 degree Celsius for at least 30 minutes.

  • Take out and sprinkled with mozzarella or cheddar cheese and baked for 10 –15 minutes or until the cheese had melted.

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  • Preferably served hot with generous amount of sour cream or moderate amount of mayonnaise or toppings of your choice. Plain serving is acceptable if preferred.

  • This is good to go with any Western set meals and as an alternative for baked potato skins, mash potatoes, potato chips or any other carbohydrate loaded meal items.

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VARIATIONS

  • If you runs out of time, you can always sliced it directly instead followed what I described above. You can refer to Ms Paula Jone’s version here.

  • All ingredients mentioned above are mostly substitutable to suit your family taste buds. If you are health conscious, you can lower the usage of mayonnaise or go for low fat mayonnaise dressing. Alternatively, you can also consider replacing the bacons with chicken frank or even fresh meat slices (for steamboat) if you preferred. If you preferred fresh Western herbs, you can put in dill, basil, rosemary and etc.….Full flexibility is the key and I encouraged readers to think out of the box and made one that suits your family’s taste buds.

  • Instead of putting mozzarella cheese, you can also substitute with breakfast cheese slice. As I have run out of mozzarella cheese, I decided to place a slice of breakfast cheese and it tasted equally well.

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CONCLUSION

This dish is simple though the process is a bit laborious. However, you can always cut through the potatoes if you run out of time. It is a good choice as a party “snack” (depending on your size), a side meal and some simple home gatherings. It is a comfort  food and the combination of bacon, cheese with potatoes runs well beyond your visual expectations. The taste is just superb. Try and let me know.

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Hope you like the post today and have a nice day. Cheers.

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  GUAI SHU SHU | Guai Shu Shu is a “shu shu” that is “guai“….


  • For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX (updated as at 20 November 2014)  here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit the blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE to keep abreast of my future posts.  

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What I “Ate” Today (家常便饭系列)…. 17 August 2013- Special

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You may be surprised about this title! In fact, the title is not correct either. What I am going to post is not “what I cooked today” or “what I ate today”. It was a gathering at one of my relative’s house and she had cooked some Chinese dishes that are not common among Fujian or Guangdong Province.

My relative is from Jiangxi Province and therefore the food that she cooked were rather different! As you all know, Singaporean and Malaysian Chinese are descendants of immigrants mainly from the South Eastern Coastal Fujian and Guangdong Province.


JIANGXI CUISINES

Per Wikipedia:

Jiangxi (Chinese: 江西; pinyin: Jiāngxī; Wade–Giles: Chiang-hsi; Postal map spelling: Kiangsi, Gan: Kongsi) is a province in the People’s Republic of China, located in the southeast of the country. Spanning from the banks of the Yangtze River in the north into hillier areas in the south and east, it shares a border with Anhui to the north, Zhejiang to the northeast, Fujian to the east, Guangdong to the south, Hunan to the west, and Hubei to the northwest. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jiangxi)

As compared to Nanyang Chinese (Malaysian and Singaporean Chinese), in a household meal, they are more dishes but with a smaller portion. For us, we will usually serve 3 dishes and 1 soup, for them the dishes can be as many as 6-12 dishes. Today, the host is kind enough to cook us 7 dishes (excluding desserts and sweet soups). Jiangxi dishes were rather spicy (chilli hot) and as my kids were having meals with us, for some dishes, they have to prepare both the spicy and non spicy version.

Note than I am currently on a vegetarian  diet and since I did not told them in advance, I have taken my meals before joining them.  Therefore, I did not join them for meals.


SPICY AND SOUR SHREDDED POTATOES (酸辣土豆丝)

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Yes, this is my favourite. Potatoes were julienned into thin strips. There were then soaked in cold water until all the starch were gone. This will make the potatoes “crunchy” and water have to be changed regularly. Look at the thin strips, these were all manually done. They were then stir fried with spring onions, black vinegars and chilli. This is something that I have yet to share the cooking illustrations with readers but I can assure you it is something simple yet the taste is superb. Kids are fighting for this.


BRAISED BEEF (酱牛肉)

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I do not know if there is any translation of this dish. It is basically beef braised in dark soya sauce (and herbs and spices). It was then air dried. If it was kiln dried, it will become smoked beef. This is a form of meat preservation that can be commonly found in many parts of China. My relatives have prepared these meat in China and brought it over.

I still remembered  when I was stationed in Changchun, China about 10 years ago, one of the past time is to buy some braised chicken drumsticks and ate it in the hotel. It is delicious and thinking about it make me drooling. Depending on the regions, the preservations can be sugar based or salt based.


TOMATOES FRIED WITH EGGS (番茄炒蛋)

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A common household dish in China. Besides stir frying, another way of cooking this combination is making it into a soup.

Tomato is not a common vegetable in my  traditional house cooking. Tomatoes are considered vegetables imported from other countries (though this may not be true any more). This is evidenced in its Chinese name literately translated as Western Persimmon (西红柿)or Foreign brinjal (番茄)。In Hokkien dialects, it was called Caucasian Brinjal (angmokio)!  Therefore, my mom seldom cooked tomatoes in the house.

As my girl is a tomato fanatic, this will definitely her top choice. However, as my boy is tomato phobia, this is definitely a good dish to make my boy eating tomato.  Though he is a tomato phobia but he is an egg fanatic. I usually requested that if he wanted to eat 2 tablespoons of eggs, he will need to finish 1 tablespoon of tomatoes. Haha


STEAMED CHINESE SAUSAGE WITH CHINESE BLACK FERMENTED BEANS (腊肠蒸豆豉)

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The Chinese sausages were prepared by my relatives in China and brought it over. You can hardly find any fats in the Chinese sausages. Before I am on my vegetarian diet, I have tried the sausages before and it is delicious.

The Chinese sausages were cut into slices, steamed with Chinese black fermented beans and chopped garlics. May be after my vegetarian diets end, I shall cook this. Good thing about having this post is that it can remind me of what I should cooked when I run out of ideas.


PIGTAILS PORK BELLIES SOUP (猪尾猪肚汤)

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I never have this combination before, pork bellies plus pigtails. The reason is because both meats have different cooking times. You know pork bellies are rather difficult to cook until soft. So, it is not easy to cook this soup. Even if you used pressure cooker, both items will have to be cooked separately. There is no vegetables or white peppers. It is pure meat broth!

If you ask me whether it is yummy or not, of course, I can’t tell you directly because I did not taste it. However, from my years of cooking experience, I can tell you that it is a good soup because the soup had turn milky meaning all the gelatine from the meat have been dissolved in the soup/broth.

Don’t believe me, freeze it and you will see that it become jellish and you can use a knife to cut it into small pieces. Teochew dialect group also have a dish that after braising certain meat for a long time, they cut the meat into very small pieces, freeze the broth and become a jelly. The jelly was then cut into small pieces and served as cold dish (猪头粽)


STIR FRIED CHINESE WATER CRESS (清炒西洋菜)

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I remembered when I told my mother in law and wife to stir fry water cress previously, they are against it as they always used water cress to cook soup. It is generally true that most Chinese dialect groups like to boil soup with this vegetable. However, when I travelled to China, I always have stir fried water cress in restaurants. Usually, this vegetable were stir fried using garlic without any other ingredients.

Try and tell me whether it is nice or not! Remember that you have to stir fry the vegetables using high heat, otherwise, it may be bitter.


STEAMED KUDZU FLOUR COATED PORK WITH PUMPKIN (南瓜米粉肉)

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When I asked for the name of the dish, I was told  “namguamifenrou”. However, I can’t find any rice vermicelli or Beehoon. Later she explained the 米粉 is not rice vermicelli, it means “rice flour”. Though the name is called rice flour, the coating of the meat can be any types of flour. It can be corn flour, sweet potato flour, potato flour and etc.…But today the flour that she used is kudzu flour (葛根粉). Again this is brought from Jiangxi and she disclosed that this was made from wild kudzu roots.

Kudzu has many health benefits and among them are relief symptoms of postmenopausal women, reducing alcohol intake, alleviating cluster headaches, managed metabolic syndromes etc. etc. etc. In Singapore, we do have a type of Chinese instant flu medicine called Kudzu soup (葛根汤) that you consumed when you have a fever and it is believed that it will help to reduce your body temperature. You may want to know more about kudzu from here.

Coming back to the dish. Meat were seasoned and coated with kudzu flour. The meat was then placed on top of the pumpkins and steamed under high heat until the pumpkins were soft. The purpose of the flour is to retain the meat juiciness in the process of steaming. Any meat juices that escaped will dripped into the pumpkins those flavoured the pumpkins.

Lastly, I want to convey my sincere thanks to my relatives who cooked us a sumptuous meal and we really appreciate that.

Hope you like the post today and I find this post is meaningful to share with readers about other different types of Chinese cuisines.

Have a nice day and cheers.

Snake Tongue Tea? Gosh.. I Am Going Away……白花蛇舌草罗汉果茶

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Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) believes that the body is in its best condition when the Yin and Yang is balanced. I am no expert in this field but being  a Chinese, I was “brainwashed” about the need to cleanse /balance your body with some foods and drinks such that your body is in the top notch condition.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traditional_Chinese_medicine

One of cheapest way of “self medication” or “self balancing” about your body’s Yin and Yang is preparing some herbal drinks at home. There are many many herbs that sometimes i seriously doubt that the grass/weeds that I stepped under my feet are edible and are types of herbs.

In fact, today, one of the herb that I wanted to share with all is a common grass that can be found in many countries. But don’t simply pluck from the streets and cook it unless you are 100% sure of that is exact the plant. Eating plants that have toxins can be disastrous to your body!


WHY THIS DRINK?

Last week, I am eating a lot of baked pastry, according to TCM, it brought heat to your body. I am having a bit of sore throat and today when I am doing the marketing,  I saw these plants. It is in a store selling all sort of herbs in a wet market. Beside selling this herb, they also sell other types of “body cooling” herbs such as purple cane, rhoeo tricolour and other general cooking herbs such as Thai basil, mint leaves and etc..

I WAS TOLD THAT IT IS A COMMON ITEM AND IF YOU CAN GET THIS HERB IN ITS RAW/FRESH FORM, YOU CAN TRY THE DRIED VERSION IN THE TRADITIONAL CHINESE VERSION MEDICAL SHOP.

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This herb is called Hedyotis Diffusa (白花蛇舌草)scientifically and literally translated from Chinese language as White Flower Snake Tongue Grass! Don’t asked me why this name, Ha-ha.

As Hedyotis Diffusa sound so alien to most readers, shall we have a simpler name Snake Tongue Grass? So, from this point onwards, Hedyotis Diffusa and snake tongue grass shall be used interchangeably.

As per Wikipedia on Heydotis Diffusa, it was written that

Hedyotis diffusa (Chinese: 白花蛇舌草; pinyin: báihuā shéshécǎo; literally “white flower snake-tongue grass”, sometimes abbreviated to 蛇舌草 shéshécǎo) is a kind of herb used in traditional Chinese medicine. It is sometimes combined with Siraitia grosvenorii (simplified Chinese: 罗汉果; traditional Chinese: 羅漢果; pinyin: luóhànguǒ) to make hot drinks like Lohoguo of Guongsei (simplified Chinese: 罗汉果蛇舌草精; traditional Chinese: 羅漢果蛇舌草精; pinyin: luóhànguǒ shéshécǎo jīng) or Luohanguo Pearl and Sheshecao Beverage.

Therefore, in this illustration, I have combined with Siritia Grosvenorii (罗汉果), hereinafter refer to as Lohanguo), another common traditional Chinese medicine ingredient.  It is a natural sweetener and is used to treat diabetes in TCM. This combination is nothing raw, you can see it in Chinese Provision shops that sell in instant form.

Source: http://www.fjzzyy.cn/product.asp


BENEFITS OF SNAKE TOUNGE GRASS (HEDYOTIS DIFFUSA)

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Snake tongue grass is believed to have inflammation properties and ability to prevent tumour growth. In addition, it is used to clear heat, counteract toxins, remove damp, treatment of boils and abscesses, snake bite, sore throat etc..

If you goggled heydyotis diffusa, you will note that there are lots of research relating to studies on its role on cancer prevention. The articles below list out the major health benefits of snake tongue grass which includes mostly inhibit cancerous growth of many types of cancer- Chinese herbs in Western View – Baihuasheshecao – health benefits and side effects.

 Sourcehttp://www.baike.com/wiki/白花蛇舌草

In another study to study the anticancer properties of Oldenlandia Diffusa published by US National Library of Medicines in 2004, it was concluded that:

“Oldenlandia diffusa extract effectively inhibited the growth of all the eight cancer cell lines and induced significant increase of apoptosis. The extract exhibited minimum toxic effect on normal pancreatic cells. Furthermore, there was a significant inhibition of lung metastases in the animal model with no noticeable adverse effects. The herb extract could be a potential anticancer agent.”(Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15273074)

As with other herbals, it is advisable that PREGRNANT WOMEN SHALL REFRAINED FROM DRINKING THE TEA UNLESS WITH ADVISE FROM MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS.


As with my other drink series, since this is a Chinese herbs, for the benefits of my readers who are Chinese speaking, I have specifically include this excerpt. Note that the Chinese and English versions are not the same as they are from the different source.

  • 痈肿疮毒,咽喉肿痛,毒蛇咬伤。本品苦寒,有较强的清热解毒作用,用治热毒所致诸证,内服外用均可。如单用鲜品捣烂外敷,治疗痈肿疮毒,也可以本品与金银花、连翘、野菊花等药同用;用治肠痈腹痛,常与红藤、败酱草、牡丹皮等药同用;若治咽喉肿痛,多与黄芩、玄参、板蓝根等药同用;若用治毒蛇咬伤,可单用鲜品捣烂绞汁内服或水煎服,渣敷伤口,疗效较好,亦可与半枝莲、紫花地丁、蚤休等药配伍应用。近年利用本品清热解毒消肿之功,已广泛用于各种癌证的治疗
  • 热淋涩痛。本品甘寒,有清热利湿通淋之效,单用本品治疗膀胱湿热,小便淋沥涩痛,亦常与白茅根、车前草、石韦等同用。” (Source:中医e百网页)


BENEFITS OF ARHAT FRUIT OR LUOHANGUO (SIRITIA GROSVENORII)

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Luohanguo is also called arhat fruit or monk fruits. The plant is cultivated for its fruit, whose extract is nearly 300 times sweeter than sugar and has been used in China as a natural low-calorie sweetener for cooling drinks, and in traditional Chinese medicine to treat diabetes and obesity. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siraitia_grosvenorii). It is very common and you can easily purchased it in any Chinese herbal shops at a very reasonable price.


WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • One bunch of fresh snake tongue grass of about 500 g. Usually it comes with root and cost about SGD1.20 for it (this price is for estimating the quantity of your fresh snake tongue grass)

  • 6 dried lohanguo

  • 400 gram of rock sugar (can be adjusted according to individual preference)

  • 4 litres of water.

STEPS OF PREPARATION

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  • Soak your snake tongue grass in clean water for 15 minutes

  • Clean thoroughly the grass and watch out for the root portion which may have some soils stuck to the plants.

  • Use clean water to rinse the cleaned snake tongue grass.

The soaking of the snake tongue grass is requested by my mother in law which i think it make sense. Be it commercially cultivated or “plucking” from the wild, we will never know if there are any pesticides, therefore like other vegetables, it is a precautionary steps to wash away the pesticides (if any) by soaking in the water.

You may need quite a lot of water to clean the natural herbs. It is my usual habit to recycle  these water for watering my plants! These are just muddy water and throwing away is a waste. If you do have a lot of plants at home, I would encourage to use this to water your plant or flush your toilet, if you want. You know, I am just a stingy old man! Ha-ha

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  • Break open the lohanguo and look out for any mould in the shell!

 

NOTE

Note that it is not necessary for you to break your lohanguo like the picture above. I do have the habit to break it and see what is inside. There are a few experiences that I saw mold settling insides the seeds. If it is dry with small patches, i will just wash with cold water. Otherwise, I will throw away. The usual ways of cooking this is just use some hard object to break but not open the lohanguo, throw it in the herbs that you are cooking.

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  • Put 4 litres of water in a big pot. Add in snake tongue grass and lohanguo and bring to boil under high heat!

  • Once boiled, turned to medium heat and boiled for another 15-20 minutes.

  • Add in rock sugar and let it boiled for another 5 minutes.

NOTE:

The preparation of this drink is rather flexible, be it the use of main ingredients (snake tongue grass and lohanguo) or side ingredients (rock sugar) and water, You can always adjust to suit your family’s taste buds. Personally, I will start with less water and some rock sugar. If i find it too sweet or concentrated, i will just dilute with water.

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  • Strain the herbal teas and store in a glass bottle (preferred if you have). Though it is not advisable to keep this overnight according to TCM, however, if needed, store in fridge in a clean (preferred if sterilized with hot water) bottle.


VARIATIONS

  • As the drink can be slightly bland, you can add in a small quantity of dry longan to add flavour to it. I have added this to make my kids drinking this tea.


CONCLUSION

I am eating a piece of my zebra patterned pound cake with a glass of this tea as a snack this morning. Chinese believed that all oven baked pastries are “heaty” to your body. There is a constant need to have some drinks to “cool” your body. Too much “heat” in your body will cause acne, sore throat, boils, abscesses and etc.. (In Western terms : inflammation). This is pleasant drink and is a choice among many body cooling drinks that are cooked by Chinese households. You may also interested in my other drink series here:

Have a nice day and don’t forget to cleanse your body! Hope you like the post and cheers.

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