Sunday, May 25, 2008

Get Me 2 Ways Now

Just a quick one: you can now bookmark this blog at www.SoupQueen.net

If you type in SoupQueen.net, you will reach this blog of mine on Blogspot. I know many of you probably have bookmarked this site at Blogspot, but a shorter domain name is always preferable. I know how confusing it is to have a long URL!

As I run a web design business, I always aim to walk the talk whenever I can. Of course I wanted to get the SoupQueen.com domain but that's already taken up! So what can a soup queen do but buy the next available one, even though it's a .net

I know you come to SoupQueen for soup recipes. I'm a big experimenter in the kitchen and always look out for ways to cook tasty, simple and nutritious meals even if it's only for me and my husband. I'm not the type to resort to instant Cintan or Mamee noodles. No way.

Cooking for me is also a way to spend time with myself. I can talk to myself while I'm stir-frying vegetables or chopping garlic. It helps me unwind and relax especially if I am cooking my favourite dishes.

I'm quite pleased that I am a true blue Cantonese at heart (and I am pretty sure Nic is happy he has a Cantonese wife too) because we Cantonese really take our gastronomy seriously. If food is about love and loving, then we Cantonese are the Casanovas of food!

But it's not automatic - this love of food may run in the genes but unless one has a passion for cooking and eating, nothing will come out of it.

So now, the big question is, would you mind if I introduced some recipes here in addition to my soup recipes?

I know it's the Soup Queen but I think sometimes we need more than soup to fill our tummies.

Would you like to learn how to cook a smashingly simple ginger sesame chicken?

Would you like to learn how to fry squid without it turning rubbery?

Would you like to know what's the best way to keep broccoli from turning yellow and unappetising?

Let me know if you want to see more recipes at Soup Queen. The reason I asked is, I want to share all my recipes but I really don't want to start yet another blog for home-cooked meals and such. As it is, running my business is taking up lots of time. I simply cannot do another blog, though blogging is what I love doing.

But I think, if I can cook quickly at home (give me an hour and I can give you a full meal), I am sure others can appreciate some tips and ideas on cooking. Plus nothing is more heavenly than sitting down to your own home-cooked meal, without MSG or additives. And you know it's hygienic. Best of all, it's also about sitting down to a good meal and bonding as a family.

Cooking isn't hard, no, not at all. You just need the right tools and of course, the right attitude towards food. And it helps if you are a scientist at heart. Because you need to try a bit of this, a bit of that, and if it fails, you note it down and proceed to test the damn recipe again. ;-)

(The reason I am not keen on starting another blog for sharing my home-cooked meal reicpes is that I'm actually working on an ebook version of my soups. I'm going to be just too zonked.)

Soups are more than just liquids, soups are about us and how we translate our love into something so easy to drink up, something that soothes at the end of a tough day, something that says 'I love you' in more than just words.

And mothers are good with soups. Drinking a bowl of painstakingly simmered soup made by our moms remind us that someone cares. And when you bring a bowl of homemade soup to your friend, she'll understand that warmth, goodness and kindness too.

So yeah, please let me know if you want more than just soup recipes. Your comments and feedback will be much appreciated!

Another Simple Vegetarian Soup

OK, OK, I keep going to Than Hsiang Temple for vegetarian meals BUT I also go to check out what vegetarian soups they have. I mean, that's like killing 2 birds with one stone right? On one end, I get to be healthy (by focusing less on meat and more on tofu and greens). On the other, I get some ideas for my vegetarian soup series. Hmmm, what could be better than that?

I always thought that soups made purely with vegetables tasted bland. For the longest time, I thought meat/chicken gave soup such robust tastes. They still do but they also can be oily (skim the oil off before you serve) and for non-meat eaters, a definite put-off if they want a vegetarian version.

I deduced that any soup made with carrot as its core ingredient will be light, clear and delightfully tasty (I opt out of using 'sweet' but that's how we Cantonese describe a light and tasty soup - it's "sweet". The meaning for "sweet" is very distinct from the "sweet" one gets from sugar or honey.)

Another ingredient that helps to add a touch of sweetness and harmony is of course dried red dates, a perennial favourite in every Chinese kitchen. Any herbal soup should have dried red dates as one of its harmonizers.

Last week, I was again at Than Hsiang Temple for lunch. This time, the soup was again truly lipsmackingly good. And it just contained mustard green and carrot!

The mustard green is what we Cantonese call "kai choy". "Kai choy" is the same mustard green with thick, hard stem used in making "chai boey". By itself, "kai choy" can taste bitter. It's usually used in stews and soups which reduces its bitter edge.

I have yet to try making this soup but you can....I peered into the pot of soup and saw this 2 core ingredients. Shouldn't be too hard. Just slice the "kai choy" and chunk the carrots. Put into a pot of water, bring to boil and then cover for a slow simmer of 2 hours. Salt to taste. I think sugar is not needed as the carrots give a natural sweetness to the soup. The more you boil the carrot, the better the soup will taste.

Related post:
If you want to try your hand at cooking 'chai boey', here's the recipe.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Chrysanthemum Dessert Soup

Here's a super simple recipe to reduce heatiness and prevent colds. I got this recipe from a Taiwanese TV programme today - yes, so it's fresh!

This dessert soup is not suitable for people with gastric ulcers or weak stomachs as it contains hawthorn, which can be too acidic. If you are serving this to the elderly folk, you can reduce the amount of hawthorn too.

Chrysanthemum Dessert Soup

25 gm honeysuckle or jin yin hua
5 gm licorice
25 gm dried chrysanthemum flowers
15 gm hawthorn
6 bowls of water

Place water and all ingredients into pot of water. Simmer closed for 15 minutes on low heat. Serve warm, sweetened with honey.

* Honey is also a good remedy for constipation. Drink honey if you are constipated.