Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Lotus Seed & Lily Bulb Dessert For Beautiful Skin

This is yet another easy dessert recipe for women.

The combination of these two main ingredients, lotus seeds and dried lily bulbs, is better than any skincare.

Drinking this regularly - say once a week - is touted to improve your skin texture and promote cell regeneration.

It's really easy if you have a slow cooker. Just put the ingredients in, switch the cooker on, let it simmer for an hour and you'll have a deliciously light and sweet dessert to drink before you turn in for the night.

Remember to soak the lotus seeds to soften first, then crack them open and remove the green (bitter) pith beforehand. If you can get fresh lotus seeds (the kind that is sold vacuum-packed), you don't have to soak the seeds.

Lotus Seed & Lily Bulb Dessert

19 gm dried lily bulbs
38 gm dried lotus seeds (soaked and pith removed)
2 cups water
some rock sugar to taste

Place all ingredients into a slow cooker or crockpot. Simmer for an hour. Serve warm.

Here's to beautiful skin!

About Lotus Seeds
Lotus seeds benefits the spleen, heart and kidneys. It also calms because it helps with restlessness and insomnia. It clears heat and therefore highly nutritious to people prone to heatiness.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pig Tail Soup

Chinese people love eating parts of the pig. Apparently each part of the pig corresponds to the parts in us humans. So if you want to strengthen your legs, eating pig trotters are the way to go.

Or if you want to become smarter, you go for the pig's brain (and we all thought pigs are stupid creatures!).

When I was in my teens and studying for major exams, my mom would specially order a whole brain of the pig from the pork butcher. She would then boil the brain with some herbs in a slow cooker and I'd take that, soup, brain and all. This was to ensure my brain got all the nutrients it needed to perform well under stress.

I do know now that consuming the innards and organs and yes, the brain of the poor pig, does increase one's cholesterol level. However, at that age (remember I was in my teens), I'd imbibe the stuff my mom cooked because they were delicious in a morbid way. I'd always feel a bit like Supergirl after taking these soups.

Pig's brain, when cooked, tastes like a rich yet soft tofu. Did the brain soup make me brainier? I don't know but I have been a star student since I was 11 years old. I have gotten enough A's in my exams that my parents have nothing to complain about.....or maybe the pig brains did help!

I consider myself very much Cantonese as I love all parts of the pig - intestines, brain, liver (oooh, especially liver which Nic always cautions me about since we don't know if the liver's healthy or not) and ears (have you eaten crunchy braised pig ears? Yummy!).

Today I'm sharing with you a recipe using pig's tail.

Now if we go by the logic that parts of the pig that you eat benefits the part of your body, then why are we eating pig's tail? We don't have tails, right? I suspect the tail will benefit our lower back. I do love Dang Gui so the addition of this herb in this soup should be reason enough for me to like this soup.

Pig Tail Soup

300 gm spare ribs (blanched)
1 pig tail (blanched and chopped into smaller chunks)*

10 dried red dates (seeded)
2 whole dried scallops
1 tablespoon kei chi or goji berry
10 gm dried longan
10 gm dang gui slices

1.2 liter water

Bring water to boil. Add all ingredients and bring up to a rolling boil for 10 minutes with the pot uncovered. After that, put the lid on the pot, turn fire down to low so that soup simmers. Simmer this for 2 hours. Season to taste with salt. Serve warm.

Let me know if you come across any pig tail herbal soup recipes too!

*If you cannot get pig tail, you can omit it. It tastes all right even if you just used spare ribs. I believe you can even use chicken if you don't consume pork.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Longan, Red Date & Goji Berry Dessert

I was riffling through my recipe book last night when I saw this recipe. I am not sure where I got it from since I normally copy recipes, stick them to my fridge as a reminder to try the recipes out.

Nourishing goodness for the eyes, blood and Qi

I figured I should try this one out as it has a host of benefits. This dessert soup comprising dried longan, dried red dates and kei chi or goji berries helps with:

  • replenishing vital energy or Qi
  • promotes blood
  • improves eye sight

All you need are a handful of dried longan, about 8 dried red dates and a tablespoon of goji berries (soaked in water for a bit). Add these ingredients to a pot of water (about 1 liter). Add enough rock sugar (depends how sweet you like your dessert soup). 

Bring to a rolling boil. Then cover and lower fire so that the dessert merely simmers. Simmer it for 35 minutes or so. Serve warm. 

Great to be taken just before bed time! Warm of course. Not cold. 

This recipe makes about 4 bowls of sweet soup. It has a delicate sweetness from the trio of ingredients plus rock sugar of course. 

Friday, February 03, 2012

I Love This Blue Flower!

I have this climbing creeper plant called Clitoria Ternetea or Butterfly Pea Flower or Bunga Telang (in Malay) in my garden for many reasons. This blue flower is one of my favourite flowers of all. Its intense indigo makes me happy (I have always loved strongly coloured fruits and flowers...I don't know why).

Clitoria ternetea flowers 

One, you add precious nutrients into the soil when you plant this on the ground. Two, the flowers are used to colour food naturally. The blue Nyonya kuih made with glutinous rice was in the olden days coloured with pounded juice from this pea flower (I sometimes wonder if they use blue dye these days!). Even "Nyonya zhang" or the Chinese dumpling can be coloured with this blue flower. 

Third, the flower can be made into a drink that's full of antioxidants. Fourth, you can use the blue flowers to dye your hair (haven't tried this yet).

As a drink, I just pluck about 5 to 8 fresh flowers and steep with hot water for about 5 minutes. When it's ready, just add some honey and drink up. It doesn't have much aroma or taste. The flowers do fade to a pale white when the water turns blue! Interesting isn't it? You can do a bit of a magic trick too if you serve this in a glass. Just before serving, squeeze some lime juice into the glass and watch the colour change! It's like litmus paper!

The dried pea pod with seeds 

When I was in Thailand, I've seen shampoos which use this clitoria flower as its hair darkening ingredient.

Aren't they just lovely?

The clitoria ternetea is easy to grow. As it is a pea, germinate its seeds and in no time you will have a few plants. It needs to climb though so you may want to plant it near some fence or trellis. The plant flowers regularly and attracts butterflies although the flowers don't last very long (perhaps a day or two before they wilt).

To keep these flowers, just pluck and dry them thoroughly. They'll shrivel as they dry but it's OK. You can then keep them in your fridge (wrap them up in tissue paper and put into an airtight container). When you need some natural blue dye for your food, reconstitute them in hot water again so they release their blue colour.